Forest Friends Book Club

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Grave MercyI finished the first 133 pages of this book on the first night of reading it. I stayed up waaaay past my bedtime like a naughty schoolgirl! Grave Mercy, the first in a trilogy, has all the ingredients for a successful modern series. A brave heroine, forbidden romance, mystical intrigue and the dark arts. It’s all a girl needs, right?

We meet our protagonist, Ismae, as she makes her wedding vows to the man she has been sold to by her father. We learn that she bears a rather unfortunate scar on her back, one that was made by a poison, meant to kill her in the womb. Ismae was fathered by Mortain, the god of death, and her mother tried in vain to terminate the pregnancy. I have to admit, when I started reading, I found myself having to turn off my cheesy filter. I mean, I cringe when I read what I just wrote… it sounds totally corny. It’s got to be hard to write about magical worlds and mystic tales of centuries past without coming off a little hokey, but honestly, once you get going with this book, it doesn’t seem cheesy at all.

Ismae is just so likeable. She’s a spitfire all right, and a murderous little man-hating ragamuffin. Not that those are redeeming qualities, but girlfriend has had a rough go so far, and as much as the convent has helped her, I can’t shake the feeling that Ismae is being taken advantage of.

The writing is an easy to read mix of modern English and historical jargon. Quite easy to digest. So far (and I admit, I’ve read quite a bit ahead) there are no dragging bits, boring parts, or sections that I would have edited out. You can’t say that about too many books.

This is another book that I never would have picked up on my own, (there are no recipes or umlauts!) but am quite enjoying. Thanks to The Duck and The Owl ladies for the great pick. I can’t wait to see what happens next! Go and see what Sarah and Kaitlyn think here. Now to read up to page 261… enjoy!

 

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Forest Friends Book Club // Grave Mercy

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Grave MercyOoooh, a new book is upon us. The FFBC Book of the Month is Robin LaFevers’ Grave Mercy. This week, we are reading up to page 133.

Now, I’m still in last month’s book… but I can catch up there eventually. I’ll be moving on to this one right away. Besides, it’s too bloody cold to do anything else but cuddle up and read. Ha, the way I go on, you must think that all I do is snuggle, read and drink. Well, I also do a few other things. Really productive things, I might add!

I’m looking forward to taking a literary turn in a different direction. Isn’t it fun, reading books that someone else recommends? If it wasn’t for the lovely Sarah and Kaitlyn, FFBC co-founders, I’d still be reading cookbooks and Henry James every night. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, per se…

Let’s meet back here in a week to discuss! Be sure to visit The Duck and The Owl for their thoughts on the book, and please share your own ideas with all of us. Wheee!

Forest Friends Book Club // You Are Not Like Other Mothers

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Forest Friends Book Club / You Are Not Like Other MothersI’m catching up on this incredible book, after having such a time trying to get it! It was certainly worth the wait. Thank you for being so patient with me, fellow readers!

I will speak first on the section of the book that we started off with. I was drawn in right away by the writing. It’s effortless reading, in that the images come so easily to the mind. I always wonder, when I’m reading something that is translated from another language, if something of the writer’s magic will be lost. Well, if that’s the case here, I can only imagine what a treat it is to read this book in the original German.

Angelika Schrobsdorff’s story of her mother is woven together by threads from her own memory, the accounts of others, and most importantly, her mother’s own journals and letters.  Thus far in the book, we have met Else as a young lady, growing up with her doting parents and brother, in wartime (WWI) Berlin. A spirited young woman, Else defies her parents wishes for a good, Jewish husband, and elopes with the love of her life, Fritz. Cut off by her parents, Else and Fritz live a life of hardship and poverty. It’s not until Else’s brother dies, that her parents welcome her back into the fold. By this time, she has an infant son, Peter. He becomes the center of his grandparents’ world. The young family are given a home, money, furnishings and everything that they have lacked in their life together thus far.

I’m always fascinated by tales of young love. Else and Fritz are classic star-crossed lovers. Intoxicated by each other, they put themselves through great torment to be together. Fritz, an artist and intellectual, not to mention a Christian, is the opposite of the man to whom Else’s parents had promised her. It’s very interesting really, because the story of their love takes place about 100 years ago, yet this story continues to play out today. If Else and Fritz had been allowed to form a relationship under normal circumstances, would their love have been as strong? Did the secrecy and sneaking about contribute to the excitement of their affair? Or, is it the opposite? Perhaps the constant stress and strain on their relationship meant that it was doomed to fail from the start. I think maybe both theories are true to an extent.

When Else learns of Fritz’s extra-marital dalliances, my heart went out to her. As was mentioned in the book, this was clearly a turning point for her. The writer and her sources assessed that something was lost in her that day. I can’t imagine sacrificing as much as she had for Fritz, only to have him humiliate her by having multiple affairs. With her friends! If I could reach through time, I would strangle Fritz. I can tell you now, that if I caught my husband cheating, and he tried to play the but I’m an artist card… no, sir.

At this point in the book, Else has just given birth to Bettina, a daughter by Hans, her lover. Else, Fritz, Enie and Hans are all living together. I am always fascinated by these sorts of arrangements. It might seem all fine and dandy, but I think the human heart is just not made for such delicate situations. I like that Else has the power now, I’m very curious to see where it leads her.

 

Forest Friends Book Club

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Forest Friends Book ClubYou know those times when you things don’t go as planned and it’s totally not your fault? I don’t. Normally, when things go wrong, it’s because I have made a major oversight. This time, I am innocent! For once!

I ordered our lovely new read from my local, independently owned bookstore, because they are a rare breed, and I love and support them. The book was to arrive for me to pick up before Halloween. It didn’t make it. Then it was maybe going to be there on November 1st. It didn’t make it. Suddenly, it’s Friday the 8th, and I’m supposed to have already read the first 130 pages. I call to see if my book is in yet, hoping I can chill out and read and then write in a frenzy as I process all that I have read. Someone in the know is there, and tells me that You Are Not Like Other Mothers is currently taking 14 days to arrive. Information that could have been profoundly useful 12 days ago. Thus, dear friends, I am super behind in my reading. I went in a panic to several different bookstores, big box, chains and all, no one had it. I have now ordered it from Amazon with super fast shipping, which I should have done from the beginning.

So, I’m not reading anyone else’s post posts until I’m caught up. I am very much looking forward to all of it… buy no peeking!

Meanwhile, for sake of discussion, I was wondering which other writers you have enjoyed that explore the relationships between mothers and daughters. It’s a theme I like to read about. I suppose, having a daughter, and being a daughter to my mum, it’s fascinating to me to see how that dynamic plays out for others, and how writers explore the many factors that can influence this relationship. I have read a few of Amy Tan’s books, and I find her insight into mother and daughter relationships to be quite astounding. Do you have any books or films that have really focused on a mother-daughter relationship, in a way that really engaged you?

Discuss!

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Forest Friends Book Club // November Book // You Are Not Like Other Mothers

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Forest Friends Book ClubAnd thus, we begin another book. This time around, we are reading You Are Not Like Other Mothers by Angelika Schrobsdorff. Due to a logistical foul-up, I am only just getting my hands on this book today. Garrr! Foiled again!

You Are Not Like Other MothersI have heard wonderful things about YANLOM. The reviews I’ve come across are mostly positive, but there is definitely a spectrum of feelings about this memoir of the author’s mother. The story takes place from the 1920’s through the two World Wars, and onwards. I love reading about the early part of the 20th century, especially in Europe. I also have an interest in reading about the relationships between mothers and daughters, so this book has really got me excited!

This week we are reading up to page 130, and then meeting back next Friday to discuss and share our thoughts. Swing by here in the evening, and join our lovely friends at The Duck and The Owl for their take on the book.

FFBC LogoJust joining us? Awesome! Feel free to take this little button for your website or blog, put the kettle on or pop a cork, and let’s get reading.

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Forest Friends Book Club

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Forest Friends Book ClubWell, I’ll be darned. A happy ending! As I was drawing near to the end of the book, I felt as though Lincoln and Beth were done before they’d started. I thought they’d never have the chance to get to know each other. Oh, cruel fates! I was so disappointed for a while there, but then I thought to myself that it would be a bit cheezy if everything turned out perfectly. And then, as the end of the book crept even nearer, everything did turn out perfectly! Despite my predilection for harsh reality and tales of woe and suffering (tee hee), I am a romantic at heart. Maybe I even shed a tear or two when I turned the last page. Maybe. I ain’t sayin’.

All in all, I absolutely enjoyed Attachments. I’ve mentioned before that Rainbow Rowell had yet to cross my radar, and perhaps I might not have even considered this book if the fine ladies of The Duck and The Owl hadn’t suggested it. I’m so glad they did. Ms. Rowell has a witty way about her. The dialogue is so sharp. The characters are all entirely relatable. I especially grew fond of Beth as the story developed. I wanted so badly for her to break free from Chris. She had such a dynamic personality, and was so full of vitality. How do such vibrant people end up with lazy, selfish free-loader types. Blargh! I did feel like everything happened very quickly at the end. I wondered to myself how we could go from such a realistic story, to Beth and Lincoln kissing in the movie theatre without so much as an awkward introduction… but I’m giving that a pass because it made me happy. I’m just thrilled that everything worked out for Beth and Lincoln. I loaned the book to my mom, because she likes happy endings as much as I like miserable ones. ;)

Thus, it is time to start a new book! I have been hearing so much about You Are Not Like Other Mothers by Angelika Schrobsdorff, and thought it might make a good choice for the FFBC. We shall announce the first week’s reading next Friday, so you have a week to procure the book from somewhere. I always recommend the library, but I do have a hot tip! When I went to buy Attachments, I happened to casually mention that it was for my book club, and they gave me 10% off! I think I’ll start telling the folks at the wine store that I’m in a wine club, and see how that works for me.

You Are Not Like Other MothersAnd now I want an ice cream cone.

I can’t wait to read all your final thoughts on Attachments, and I’m looking forward to our second Forest Friends Book Club read-along! Don’t forget to pop in on Sarah & Kaitlyn if you haven’t already, and see what they had to say about our first book!

Have a great weekend y’all.

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Forest Friends Book Club

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Forest Friends Book ClubThis past week, we have been reading through chapter 60 of Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments. Merciful heavens, it was not easy to stop myself. I know some people (cough cough) couldn’t control themselves… and I don’t blame them!

rainbow-rowell-attachments-2The characters really fleshed out in the past 30 chapters. I was sort of ambivalent about Lincoln at the beginning of the tale, but now that I’ve spent more time getting to know him, I’m quite charmed. I think I had him pegged as a little bit of deadbeat in the beginning, and now I don’t feel that way. He’s obviously very sensitive, thoughtful and kind. The way he shares his meals with sweet old Doris, avoids the conflict between his mother and sister, and bestows love upon his nephews and friends, are all indicative of a tender soul with a big heart. Oh, that woeful story of him being dumped by Sam. Poor little bird.

In this section of the book, I found myself rooting for Beth and Lincoln. My heart was getting a little bit squooshy as I started to realize that they were falling for each other, in the most abstract and awkward way possible. I mean, now we know that he has been reading her e-mail, and she has been kind of stalking him, and they are totally smitten with each other.

Now, I don’t know if you will agree with me here, but I disagree with what Christine advised Lincoln to do in his situation. If you recall, her advice was to stop reading the e-mails between Beth and Jennifer, stop walking by Beth’s desk, and to tell her everything… right down to him going to Chris’ shows. Whoa, lady! Look, if Lincoln didn’t already have a crush on Beth, all we’d have is a guy whose job requires him to read the flagged e-mail. Certainly, his infatuation changes things, but imagine they chat one day, and things blossom and become serious. Isn’t that what they both ultimately want and need? Right now they are pretty much figments of each others’ imagination. Falling for someone you’ve never spoken to is easy. Forming a real relationship with someone is something quite different, and when two people get comfortable with each other, they aren’t the same people that they once imagined each other to be. None of the goofy stuff you did to put yourself in the other person’s way matters when you finally get to know each other. Does that make sense? I just really hope they have an opportunity to talk in the last third of the book.

I’m kind of glossing over the fact that Beth has a long-time boyfriend that she lives with. Chris is clearly married to his band. He might be prone to momentary whims of sweetness, but he seems rather apathetic towards Beth. I am wondering though if something else is afoot with him. There was so much talk in recent chapters of him being alone and withdrawn, I wonder if something isn’t about to happen with him. Anyhoo, I would really like to see Beth and Chris part ways.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll probably say it a thousand more times, but I love being obligated to read. I absolutely love cozying up with a book, and knowing that I simply have to set aside time for careful and thoughtful reading of a book is just fantastic! Three cheers for the Forest Friends Book Club!

So, what do you fellow readers think? Do you disagree with Christine’s advice? Do you think something weird is going on with Chris? Will Beth and Lincoln finally talk? Will Sam show up and be totally gross and give Lincoln closure? Will Jennifer name her baby something awful? (Side note: when I was pregnant with my daughter, I had the name Hermione on the list. For like, a couple of weeks. Hormones are powerful and can bring on brief periods of madness and poor judgement.)

This week we’re going to finish the book. See you Friday for the final reviews. As always, thank you so much to all who are participating!

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