Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Language of Flowers

Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh

One-sentence summary: A displaced and lonely young woman finds friendship and love but doesn’t know how to accept it.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 8

Our favorite thing about it: The emotional honesty and intensity.

Our least favorite thing about it: Again, hard to select something here…maybe that it’s so realistic as to be almost depressing.

Main Topics of Discussion: Motherhood, guilt, family, home, trust, ability to love

Our favorite quote: “Perhaps the unattached, the unwanted, the unloved, could grow to give love as lushly as anyone else.”

Notes: This was a very emotional read, but we felt like it was written really well. Although we became frustrated with the choices the main character made, we ultimately felt like they were very realistic for her background of abandonment, loneliness, and guilt. We actually appreciated the insight into a girl who had no family, no home, and who did not know how to love. We thought the main character was really interesting and not a flat character at all. The ending, while it was mainly “good” was not necessarily “tidy” as it left in the air how exactly things would work out…only that they would work on it. We liked that and felt it to be really honest and a great way to end the book.

Memorable Meeting Moments: We met at Brooklyn’s Pizza and then went back to Lindsay’s house for Dara’s cookies and some ice cream…as well as our book discussion.

What We Ate: Brooklyn’s Pizza, Dara’s cookies, ice cream

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

What Alice Forgot

Author: Liane Moriarty

One-sentence summary: A 30-something mother and near-divorcee wakes up from hitting her head in spinning class not remembering the last 10 years of her life.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 8

Our favorite thing about it: We really enjoyed the story and storytelling.

Our least favorite thing about it: Hard to pick something…maybe that some of the changes in Alice seemed exaggerated beyond what would be realistic…even for 10 years.

Main Topics of Discussion: Change, communication, infertility, grief, friendship, boundaries, parenting

Our favorite quote: “Love after children, after you've hurt each other and forgiven each other, bored each other and surprised each other, after you've seen the worst and the best...-well, that sort of love is ineffable. It deserves its own word.”

Notes: We really loved this book and found very little to pick out that we didn't like. We felt like the ending was satisfying, yet realistic. The relationships described – all of them – seemed realistic as well as the dangers of not prioritizing your relationships. The book did not present people’s actions and choices as black and white, which we appreciated. Alice’s sister’s infertility was written with insight and perception into that special kind of grief. We loved the theme of memory and the especially poignant and interesting descriptions of threads of memories and how those tie/bind. Overall, this was a very fast, fun read with more depth to it than at first glance. There is a lot here to discuss.

Memorable Meeting Moments: We were at the lake house when we discussed this book.

What We Ate:

Monday, August 04, 2014

6th Annual Lake House Trip

This year we went to the Fair's Lake House again on a Thursday night so that we would have 2 full days to relax.

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When we left, we were not expecting it to be chilly...but it was. This was the end of JULY. Brrr.

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We stopped at Chick-fil-A for some treats (for some) and dinner (for others) before making it out to the lake house just in time for bed...we were tired. The next day, we took our time getting up, making breakfast, eating...and then relaxing at the pool.

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It was too cool to swim (for us), so we happily lounged poolside...for the whole day.

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The weather was actually gorgeous and we read, chatted and napped.

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While we were at the lake house, we celebrated Christina's birthday. Amberly bought her this stellar book...which gave us all a good laugh once she explained it was a gag gift!

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As we do every year, we had our yummy shredded beef tacos. These are Amberly's beautifully constructed tacos.

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We also roasted marshmallows and made s'mores since we were able to get the fire pit lit this year. 

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We had another wonderful weekend of relaxation and time together. 

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On our way home, we stopped in downtown Ft. Worth to have our photo taken as a group for the western photo wall at the lake house. It was a fun experience for sure. 

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After the photo, we stumbled upon Tim Love's Love Shack and decided to grab lunch. Boy was that a happy accident. The burgers were fantastic and we loved our lunch. Then it was back on the road for the sad trip home. Until next year!

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Whiskey Rebels

Author: Davis Liss

One-sentence summary: Parallel stories of a disgraced patriot and a woman with more than monetary stock in the whiskey trade in the west converge in an unexpected and explosive conclusion.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 7

Our favorite thing about it: We loved the two perspectives and interesting well-rounded characters.

Our least favorite thing about it: We felt that it was too long and wordy.

Main Topics of Discussion: Early American Banks, Settling the West, Justice/Law, Character Development, East vs. West, Slave Issues, British vs. American thinking/customs

Our favorite quote: “If we do nothing...and turn our backs now, in future generations, when rank corruption masquerades as liberty, it will be upon our shoulders. True patriots will then ask why we who were there to witness our nation at the crossroads did nothing.”

Notes: Despite the fact that we ALL thought that this book could be cut down by at least 100 pages, we all liked it for the most part. Not only did we think it too long, however, but also too wordy and detailed. The financial talk was confusing and while central to the story, did not have to be discussed in such detail for the story to be conveyed.

As for the story itself, we loved how it unfolded slowly and that it was told from two very different perspectives. I think we liked the Ethan character slightly more than Joan despite the fact that she was a woman narrator. Ethan’s character was so interesting to us and (we thought) very well-written. Joan’s was too, but just ever so slightly less interesting.

The fact that none of the charcters motives and pasts were entirely revealed until the end (or very near it) was suspenseful and interesting even when you did not know anything was being withheld.

From a historical standpoint, the story was also interesting as it factored in early American history and the beginnings of national banks. We all love a good historical fiction, and this aspect of the book was great.

Memorable Meeting Moments: We all had some honey whiskey shots and enjoyed planning our lake house trip for the following month.

What We Ate: Tomato Basil Orzo Salad, Chicken Salad with Salad Greens, Bread, and Fresh Strawberry Pie

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Friday, May 30, 2014

The Husband's Secret

Author: Lianne Moriarty

One-sentence summary: A wife finds a letter from her husband that reveals a long-held secret that changes every relationship she has.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 7

Our favorite thing about it: The story is entertaining, engaging and interesting.

Our least favorite thing about it: It was hard to get into at first.

Main Topics of Discussion: Marriage, family, grief, truth, relationships

Our favorite quote: “None of us ever know all the possible courses our lives could have and maybe should have taken. It’s probably just as well. Some secrets are meant to stay secret forever. Just ask Pandora.”

Notes: In general, we really liked this book. Once the husband’s secret was revealed, the story picked up and we were really interested in how everything would pan out. Up until that point, we felt like the story was a little indulgent and dragged a bit. There were also a lot of characters and some of us found that a little difficult because of all their different (yet intersecting) stories. We found it a little hard to attach for very long to any of the characters as a result.

We did appreciate the accurate portrayal of grief. We felt that it was very realistic and insightful. This added the needed weight to the story that made it engaging and important to us as readers.

Although we didn’t agree with all of Celia’s feelings and choices, we did enjoy how the story unfolded through its tragedy, partial redemption, and finale.

Memorable Meeting Moments: We got to meet the Powell's new puppy, Olive!

What We Ate:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Invention of Wings

Author: Sue Monk Kidd

One-sentence summary: The true story of Sarah Grimke makes up the core of this historical fiction that follows two young girls, one white, and one a black slave, as they grow up together, but separate.
B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 8

Our favorite thing about it: This story was fantastic and very well written.

Our least favorite thing about it: It is hard to pick something, but there were some points about the story that we thought were not as believable.

Main Topics of Discussion: Slaves, Women, Evil, Human Nature, Greed, Dignity, Subversion, Struggles, History, Stories

Our favorite quote: “History is not just facts and events. History is also a pain in the heart and we repeat history until we are able to make another’s pain in the heart our own.”

Notes: All of us love a good historical fiction and this book can definitely be described that way. This was not our first time to read Sue Monk Kidd and we appreciate her writing style. Her characters are well defined and fleshed out as well as being well-rounded and multi-faceted. Her interesting and realistic characters make the story that much more compelling. We found this story heartbreaking, enlightening, and inspirational all at once.

We spoke a lot about the human capacity for evil and how that was plainly manifested in slavery. We thought it was interesting that women’s rights also became a topic in the book, which was true to Sarah’s real story. The parallels of women being slaves, but not to the law like the black slaves, was really well done.

The author’s insight into the minds of the main characters showed how motivations factor into their actions and their convictions was wonderful. Even when Sarah despised slavery, she made a selfish choice to return Hattie/Handful to her mother thereby making Hattie’s life more miserable than if she had kept her and carried the burden of owning a slave.

One point we specifically discussed was the oral tradition of passing down stories among the slaves and how Hattie’s mauma took that one step further and recorded her story in the only way she knew how…in her quilt. We thought it was a beautiful symbol of creating something beautiful out of awful conditions as well as a different way of maintaining her story and significance.

Memorable Meeting Moments: We met at Burger Island again, this time Stephanie’s treat! And it was her birthday month!

What We Ate: Various burgers, sweet potato fries, regular potato fries, and fried green beans. Lindsay also brought cheesecake and salted caramel topping for dessert.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

Author: Jan-Phillip Sendker

One-sentence summary: The disappearance of a father reveals a hidden past and a love story that transcends decades and miles of separation.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 8

Our favorite thing about it: The story and writing were beautiful.

Our least favorite thing about it: Some points of the story were arguable in our opinion.

Main Topics of Discussion: Family, Love, Abandonment, Culture, Spirituality, Obligation, Blindness, Honesty, Tragedy

Our favorite quote: “Life…is a gift full of riddles in which suffering and happiness are inextricably intertwined.”

Notes: We really loved this story. It grabbed us from the beginning and kept us wanting to read more. The almost mystical stories of the past begin to unfold with rich, yet readable descriptions. As a reader, you cannot help being engaged the whole time. The authors writing, especially when detailing what the blind hear, or what we really see was amazing and wonderful to read. The emotions of the characters were painted so beautifully with words, but we never felt bogged down by unnecessary adjectives or words.

We spent a little bit of time discussing the differences in cultures. Allowing for those differences helps us come to terms with choices made by the characters that modern Americans would probably not make…abandoning your son because of astrological signs, not telling your grown children that you plan to go back to your birth place and letting them wonder where you’ve gone, not saying no to an uncle who begins to decide the course of your life for you even when it takes you in the opposite direction you desire. All of these things made no sense in the context of our culture and these were the things we struggled to understand.

The tragedies in the stories tied the characters together. No one was left untouched. The different ways in which grief played out in the characters lives was interesting and enlightening. We loved almost everything about this book, but we did not completely love the ending or the way the main character did not ensure his children knew of his whereabouts. These are small things, however, in the scheme of a beautiful story with some really well done imagery and themes.

Memorable Meeting Moments: Amberly cooked up a very festive St. Patrick’s Day feast. Everything was green!

What We Ate: Salad, a Rainbow of Fruit, Green Clover Ravioli with Pesto, Green Beans, various “green” drinks, and an Irish Cream Cake.

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