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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Friday, February 28, 2014

And The Mountains Echoed

Author: Khaled Hosseini

One-sentence summary: A decision that a father makes sends ripples throughout not only his family, but other spheres and families as well across several generations.
B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 8

Our favorite thing about it: The story was interesting and well woven together despite having so many characters. 

Our least favorite thing about it: The lack of a central main character and the sometimes tenuous connections between stories.

Main Topics of Discussion: Mother/child relationships, tragedy, human nature, choices

Our favorite quote: “One is well served by a degree of both humility and charity when judging the inner workings of another person’s heart.”

Notes: We liked this book quite a lot. The story was really interesting and easy to read. Although there were a lot of characters, it was not too hard to keep track of them. Each story was moving and impactful in its own way and also in how it wove into the central story of the novel. The characters choices and responses to pain and tragedy made for a very insightful commentary on human nature. Family relationships, especially those between a mother and child, were explored in almost every scenario. In every story there was a bit of tragedy whether great or small, which also comments on human life.

Some critiques we had were minor….that there was no main character and we sort of missed that connection and consistency. But this was a different format, and we could appreciate that. Some of the connections between the characters and stories were feeble and a couple of them didn’t seem to go as well with the main “weave” of the story. We enjoyed them anyway; they just seemed a little superfluous. However, we really enjoyed reading this book.

Memorable Meeting Moments: We met at Chuy’s for dinner since Rachel was between homes. We did go to her new house for the first time for dessert, though.

What We Ate: Various favorite dishes at Chuy’s – some of us trying the Boom Boom sauce for the first time – margaritas, sangrias, chips and creamy jalapeno dip. Dessert was a deep dish chocolate chip cookie cake with buttercream frosting.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Seriously...I'm Kidding

Author: Ellen DeGeneres

One-sentence summary: Ellen writes funny jokes about life.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 7

Our favorite thing about it: It was hilarious and light.

Our least favorite thing about it: She kind of lost steam toward the end of the book.

Main Topics of Discussion: Kids/Dogs, Age/Wisdom, Phone etiquette, Comedians

Our favorite quote: “If you have to say you’re kidding, it might not be a great joke.”

Notes: We enjoyed this book a lot. It was a light, fun, and funny read. Those of us that rated it a little lower did so because we had higher expectations for the book. And truthfully, we all admitted that the beginning was a lot more funny than the ending chapters. We all said we could hear her voice when we read her words and she wrote just how she speaks. There were a few random/tangent thoughts and paragraphs. And a few entire chapters like that. They were funny, but also a little repetitive in format. We love that Ellen doesn’t take herself seriously and that she had some very poignant and wise moments couched in hilarity. Overall, a great read.

Memorable Meeting Moments: We met at a restaurant for dinner, it was Rachel’s birthday month, we tentatively planned our lake house weekend dates. And we found out that Lindsay left Amberly’s birthday off her calendar.

What We Ate: Lindsay treated us all to Burger Island! We all ordered our favorite burgers and shared sweet potato fries, regular fries, and fried green beans. Then, back at Lindsay’s house, she served chocolate mousse with raspberries for dessert.

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Monday, December 30, 2013

The Secret Keeper

Author: Kate Morton

One-sentence summary: A young woman witnesses her mother kill someone and her pursuit of the truth behind that act unravels amazing and shocking secrets about her mother and family.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 9 (unanimous rating)

Our favorite thing about it: It was actually unpredictable, unlike so many books.

Our least favorite thing about it: Hard to find something…maybe that there was a lot of tragedy in the stories of the characters. This is stretching.

Main Topics of Discussion: History, Family, Truth, WWII, Mystery, Relationships, Coping with Tragedy

Our favorite quote: “Life could be cruel enough these days without the truth making it worse.”

Notes: We all said that this book was really fun to read. It was a great story and had great characters. We all felt that it had plot twists that we couldn’t predict, which is unusual…we usually see things coming from a mile away. The story moved along at a nice clip while still taking time to flesh out characters and details that made it interesting. We appreciated the historical elements, as usual. The painting (with words) of WWII London and daily life in a city that was continually bombed was fascinating. The unraveling of the mysteries of Dolly and Vivien (and Jimmy) was the most enjoyable part and kept us on our toes, not wanting to put the book down.

Memorable Meeting Moments: This was our annual Christmas meeting, which we all look forward to. This year, for the first time, we drew names and bought a gift for one other member. It was a fun switch. We still did our book exchange and our annual-review Jeopardy-style. This year’s game was compiled and hosted by Dara, and Lindsay won! Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate seemed to be a popular thing this year.

What We Ate: Chef Josh prepared an appetizer pizza, lasagna, broccolini, and green salad for us. Dara made homemade gingerbread.

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Monday, December 02, 2013

Love Does

Author: Bob Goff

One-sentence summary: Bob weaves stories of his incredible life with the theme of love in action.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 8

Our favorite thing about it: The message of love in action was our favorite thing about the book.

Our least favorite thing about it: At least a couple of us came away with the feeling that you have to be a risk-taker in order to follow God’s plan for your life and in showing love to others. This was probably not the actual opinion of the author and probably not one he would have wanted to give, but nonetheless, some of us came away with that general feeling from the book.

Main Topics of Discussion: Friendship, Love, Relationship, Selflessness, Sacrifice, Risk

Our favorite quote: “Don’t take the bait that if we do incredible things Jesus will dig us more. He can’t.”

Notes: We really loved this book. Goff consistently had things to say that had us nodding our heads and highlighting the text. The book read like a conversation with him and his humor punctuated his amazing stories of love and friendship. We learned so much from reading this book about living on the “edge,” giving up on bible study (you’d have to read the book to understand that reference), and friendships without agenda. The theme of love and sacrifice pervades the whole book and we enjoyed reading about Goff’s life and thoughts on love.

Memorable Meeting Moments: We ate outside and enjoyed our potluck Thanksgiving meal. We missed Amberly who had to fly to Malaysia at the last minute.We took some selfies and sent them to her during the meeting. And we re-confirmed our gift exchange names when Lindsay thought we hadn't even drawn names yet!

What We Ate: Christina made the ham, salad, sweet potatoes, and her cauliflower casserole for us. Stephanie brought a green bean casserole, Rachel brought a corn casserole, Lindsay brought dressing, and Dara brought Pumpkin scones with chai tea for dessert.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

The Wealth of the Poor

Author: Larry James

One-sentence summary: James lays out the realities of Dallas’s poverty issues and what has worked and not worked over the years to change the city.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 7

Our favorite thing about it: We found it very interesting and helpful in many ways at it related to our perspectives and some of the methods used to fight poverty.
Our least favorite thing about it: It read more like a how-to manual than we expected.

Main Topics of Discussion: Poverty, “Charity”, Volunteers, Evangelism, Ministry, Relationships

Our favorite quote: “I’ve found that all of us are rich and all of us are poor, just in different ways.”

Notes: We really enjoyed this book and the insight it provided into the detailed history of what is currently City Square (formerly Central Dallas Ministries). The victories and failures of their various tactics in the war against poverty were enlightening and helpful. Some were revelatory and eye-opening. We appreciated learning more about how things really work and changing our perspectives on a few conventional ways of doing “charity.”

Picking out a least favorite thing just came down to our expectations being wrong to begin with. We expected less detail and manual-like writing. However, that being said, there are several really wonderful inspirational books out there that spur people (especially Christians) to begin a revolutionary life of service and generosity to work toward change. This book by James serves a different purpose, although it is inspirational in a way. It really lays out the nuts and bolts of working to overcome poverty and all its facets in a large city. This book definitely has its place especially because of the experience detailed within as well as the practicality of what it shares.

Some of the things that we took away from the book are: the benefit of flexibility, taking time to evaluate practices regularly for effectiveness, doing ministry where you are, and the importance of relationship…among others.

Memorable Meeting Moments: We drew names for our first-ever gift exchange and we decided what we would each bring for our Thanksgiving potluck meeting next month! And we celebrated Lindsay's birthday.

What We Ate: Taco Soup (al fresco!)

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