Really Cool Women\'s Book Club

Change of dates for upcoming meetings November 28, 2012

Filed under: dates and places — Susan @ 5:17 pm

After discussion we are moving from Wednesdays to Thursdays. Hopefully this will allow some of our members to attend more often. The following are the new upcoming dates and places:

1/10/13-Game Change by John Heileman and Mark Halperin at Danda’s house

2/21/13-The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy at Ann’s house (traded with Heidi)

4/4/13-Midnight Assassin by Patricia Bryan and Thomas Wolf at Lori’s house

 

November 14th, 2012: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn at Boltini’s hosted by Susie

Filed under: Past Meetings — Susan @ 5:08 pm

Cool Women in Attendance:

Heidi, Susan, Marci,  Jo Lynne, Karen

Menu:

  • Appetizers and liquor!

Memorable Moments:

  • The book brought out very strong emotions!
  • Karen is BIG with child (Mom and baby girl beautiful and healthy!)
  • New night and themes for books discussed. Night will change to Thursday. Book theme still under discussion.
 

The Votes are in November 13, 2012

Filed under: dates and places — Susan @ 6:04 pm

I took a little liberty with the dates around the holiday. 6 weeks would fall the day after Christmas, 7 weeks would be the day after New Year so I went 8 weeks. If this messes with anyone’s karma let me know otherwise here are the books and dates for the next 3 meetings.

1/9/13-Game Change by John Heileman and Mark Halperin at Danda’s house

2/20/13-The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy at Heidi’s house

4/3/13-Midnight Assassin by Patricia Bryan and Thomas Wolf at Lori’s house

 

Time to Vote November 12, 2012

Filed under: Nominated Books — Susan @ 6:06 pm

Here is the survey Monkey link and the reviews. Please vote by Wednesday afternoon so I can bring the results to the meeting Wednesday night

 

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RDPCK9Z

 

An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor

Blackout  by Connie Willis

Game Change by John Heileman and Mark Halperin

Elsewhere by Richard Russo

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Midnight Assassin by Patricia Bryan and Thomas Wolf

 No Easy Day by Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

The Birth of Kamara by Kali-Dasa (translated).

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

The Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 by Anne Applebaum

The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira  by Cesar Aira

 The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy

_______________________________________

An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor

A straitlaced novice doctor gets initiated into the unorthodox world of a crafty rural sawbones in Taylor’s American debut. Barry Laverty is fresh out of school and uncertain about what type of medicine he should practice when he answers an ad for a physician’s assistant in Ballybucklebo, a small Northern Ireland town populated, it seems, entirely by eccentrics. Laverty is initially taken aback by his new boss, Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, whom he meets as O’Reilly is literally throwing a patient out of his office. Laverty spends most of the novel swaying between understanding O’Reilly’s methods and second-guessing the boxer turned doctor who dishes out plenty of placebos and isn’t above telling a white lie or a crude joke to worried patients. Though Laverty often comes across as painfully uptight, he also has an endearing-for-its-awkwardness streak that only surfaces around Patricia Spence, though she’d rather focus on her civil engineering studies than make time for a boyfriend. Serving as a foil to all the innocent fun is the lecherous, greedy Councillor Bishop, who, thanks to a scheming O’Reilly and a reluctant Laverty, gets his comeuppance. Despite the occasional whimsy overload, Taylor’s novel makes for escapist, delightful fun.

Blackout  by Connie Willis

Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place, with scores of time-traveling historians being sent into the past. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor. Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser into letting her go to VE-Day. Polly Churchill’s next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London’s Blitz. But now the time-travel lab is suddenly canceling assignments and switching around everyone’s schedules. And when Michael, Merope, and Polly finally get to World War II, things just get worse. For there they face air raids, blackouts, and dive-bombing Stukas—to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control. Because suddenly the once-reliable mechanisms of time travel are showing significant glitches, and our heroes are beginning to question their most firmly held belief: that no historian can possibly change the past.

Game Change by John Heileman and Mark Halperin

Even before the book was out, its juiciest bits were everywhere: Sarah Palin was serene when chosen for V.P. because it was “God’s plan.” Hillary didn’t know if she could control Bill (duh). Elizabeth Edwards was a shrew, not a saint. Overall, the men from the campaign garner less attention in these anecdote wars than the women and tend to come off better—but only just: Obama, the authors note, can be conceited and windy; McCain was disengaged to the point of recklessness; and John Edwards is a cheating, egotistical blowhard. But, hey, that’s politics, and it’s obvious that authors Heilemann (New York Magazine) and Halperin (Time) worked their sources well—all 200 of them. Some (including the sources themselves) will have trouble with the book’s use of quotes (or lack thereof). The interviews, according to the authors, were conducted “on deep background,” and dialogue was “reconstructed extensively” and with “extreme care.” Sometimes the source of a quote is clear, as when the book gets inside someone’s head, but not always. Many of the book’s events were covered heavily at the time (Hillary’s presumed juggernaut; Michelle Obama’s initial hostility to her husband’s candidacy), but some of what this volume delivers is totally behind-the-scenes and genuinely jaw-dropping, including the revelation that senators ostensibly for Clinton (New York’s Chuck Schumer) pushed hard for Obama. Another? The McCain camp found Sarah Palin by doing computer searches of female Republican officeholders. A sometimes superficial but intensely readable account of a landmark campaign (librarians take note: the exceedingly flimsy binding may reflect the publisher’s haste to rush the book to press). –Ilene Cooper

Elsewhere by Richard Russo 

Pulitzer Prize–winning author Russo brings the same clear-eyed humanism that marks his fiction to this by turns funny and moving portrait of his high-strung mother and her never-ending quest to escape the provincial confines of their hometown of Gloversville, New York. All of her life, she clung to the notion that she was an independent woman, despite the fact that she couldn’t drive, lived upstairs from her parents, and readily accepted their money to keep her household afloat. She finally escaped her deteriorating hometown, which went bust when the local tannery shut down, by moving to Arizona with her 18-year-old son when he left for college and following him across the country right up until her death. His comical litany of her long list of anxieties, from the smell of cooking oil to her fruitless quest for the perfect apartment, is a testament to his forbearance but also to his ability to make her such a vivid presence in these pages. Part of what makes this such a profound tribute to her is precisely because he sees her so clearly, flaws and all. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Prizewinning author Richard Russo’s many fans will be lining up for his first nonfiction work, which has generated considerable prepublication buzz.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

In what may be the first novel to realistically imagine the near-term impact of “global weirding,” Barbara Kingsolver sets her latest story in rural Appalachia . In fictional Feathertown, Tennessee, Dellarobia Turnbow–on the run from her stifling life–charges up the mountain above her husband’s family farm and stumbles onto a “valley of fire” filled with millions of monarch butterflies. This vision is deemed miraculous by the town’s parishioners, then the international media. But when Ovid, a scientist who studies monarch behavior, sets up a lab on the Turnbow farm, he learns that the butterflies’ presence signals systemic disorder–and Dellarobia’s in-laws’ logging plans won’t help. Readers who bristle at politics made personal may be turned off by the strength of Kingsolver’s convictions, but she never reduces her characters to mouthpieces, giving equal weight to climate science and human need, to forces both biological and biblical. Her concept of family encompasses all living beings, however ephemeral, and Flight Behavior gracefully, urgently contributes to the dialogue of survival on this swiftly tilting planet.

Midnight Assassin by Patricia Bryan and Thomas Wolf

Historical whodunit devotees who have devoured all the literature on famous real-life mysteries will delight in this stirring and evocative account of an obscure turn-of-the-century Iowa murder. Law professor Bryan and her husband, Wolf, a writing consultant, vividly bring to life the baffling events of the night of December 1, 1900, when a well-to-do farmer named John Hossack was fatally attacked with an ax while sleeping in his bed. Suspicions soon focused on his long-suffering wife, Margaret, who claimed to have been asleep by her husband’s side when the assault took place. A history of domestic strife convinced the local authorities that she had finally snapped after years of threats and verbal abuse. As the evidence against her was only circumstantial, her guilt was a matter of dispute, even after her conviction (eventually reversed on appeal). Alternate theories of the crime, accusing the Hossacks’ children, disgruntled neighbors or a “mysterious horseman,” should have been a little more fleshed out by the authors. Nonetheless, they vividly portray the era’s attitudes toward women (indicated by a tolerance of domestic abuse) while crafting a tale that reads like a good novel, complete with clues—like a dog that failed to bark—that feel straight from Perry Mason The tale is given heightened immediacy by the authors’ description of how alive the case still is in the minds of local townspeople even a century later—Bryan and Wolf were even warned they might be in danger if they got too close to the truth.

No Easy Day by Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer

For the first time anywhere, the first-person account of the planning and execution of the Bin Laden raid from a Navy Seal who confronted the terrorist mastermind and witnessed his final moments.

From the streets of Iraq to the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips in the Indian Ocean, and from the mountaintops of Afghanistan to the third floor of Osama Bin Laden’s compound, operator Mark Owen of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group–commonly known as SEAL Team Six– has been a part of some of the most memorable special operations in history, as well as countless missions that never made headlines.

No Easy Day puts readers alongside Owen and the other handpicked members of the twenty-four-man team as they train for the biggest mission of their lives. The blow-by-blow narrative of the assault, beginning with the helicopter crash that could have ended Owen’s life straight through to the radio call confirming Bin Laden’s death, is an essential piece of modern history.

In No Easy Day, Owen also takes readers onto the field of battle in America’s ongoing War on Terror and details the selection and training process for one of the most elite units in the military. Owen’s story draws on his youth in Alaska and describes the SEALs’ quest to challenge themselves at the highest levels of physical and mental endurance. With boots-on-the-ground detail, Owen describes numerous previously unreported missions that illustrate the life and work of a SEAL and the evolution of the team after the events of September 11. In telling the true story of the SEALs whose talents, skills, experiences, and exceptional sacrifices led to one of the greatest victories in the War on Terror, Mark Owen honors the men who risk everything for our country, and he leaves readers with a deep understanding of the warriors who keep America safe.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

The life and times of Abraham Lincoln have been analyzed and dissected in countless books. Do we need another Lincoln biography? In Team of Rivals, esteemed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin proves that we do. Though she can’t help but cover some familiar territory, her perspective is focused enough to offer fresh insights into Lincoln’s leadership style and his deep understanding of human behavior and motivation. Goodwin makes the case for Lincoln’s political genius by examining his relationships with three men he selected for his cabinet, all of whom were opponents for the Republican nomination in 1860: William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, and Edward Bates. These men, all accomplished, nationally known, and presidential, originally disdained Lincoln for his backwoods upbringing and lack of experience, and were shocked and humiliated at losing to this relatively obscure Illinois lawyer. Yet Lincoln not only convinced them to join his administration–Seward as secretary of state, Chase as secretary of the treasury, and Bates as attorney general–he ultimately gained their admiration and respect as well. How he soothed egos, turned rivals into allies, and dealt with many challenges to his leadership, all for the sake of the greater good, is largely what Goodwin’s fine book is about. Had he not possessed the wisdom and confidence to select and work with the best people, she argues, he could not have led the nation through one of its darkest periods.

Ten years in the making, this engaging work reveals why “Lincoln’s road to success was longer, more tortuous, and far less likely” than the other men, and why, when opportunity beckoned, Lincoln was “the best prepared to answer the call.” This multiple biography further provides valuable background and insights into the contributions and talents of Seward, Chase, and Bates. Lincoln may have been “the indispensable ingredient of the Civil War,” but these three men were invaluable to Lincoln and they played key roles in keeping the nation intact.

The Birth of Kumara by Kali-Dasa (translated).

This court epic describes events leading up to the birth of Kumára, the war god who will defeat the demon Táraka. The gods try to use Kama, the Indian Cupid, to make the ascetic god Shiva fall in love with the daughter of the Himalaya mountain. Kama fails, and is burnt to ashes by the angry Shiva. Then Parvati, the daughter of the mountain, herself turns to asceticism to win the husband she longs for. She is successful, and the climax of the poem is the marriage and lovemaking of Shiva and Parvati, parents of the universe.

The greatest long poem in classical Sanskrit, by the greatest poet of the language, Kali·dasa’s The Birth of Kumára is not exactly a love story but a paradigm of inevitable union between male and female, played out on the immense scale of supreme divinity. In this court-epic, the events are described leading up to but not including the birth of Kumára, the war god destined to defeat the demon Táraka.

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock.
Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.
Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.
And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an “excitement addict.” Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.

Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town — and the family — Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.

The Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 by Anne Applebaum

In the long-awaited follow-up to her Pulitzer Prize-winning Gulag, acclaimed journalist Anne Applebaum delivers a groundbreaking history of how Communism took over Eastern Europe after World War II and transformed in frightening fashion the individuals who came under its sway.

At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union to its surprise and delight found itself in control of a huge swath of territory in Eastern Europe. Stalin and his secret police set out to convert a dozen radically different countries to Communism, a completely new political and moral system. In Iron Curtain, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anne Applebaum describes how the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe were created and what daily life was like once they were complete. She draws on newly opened East European archives, interviews, and personal accounts translated for the first time to portray in devastating detail the dilemmas faced by millions of individuals trying to adjust to a way of life that challenged their every belief and took away everything they had accumulated. Today the Soviet Bloc is a lost civilization, one whose cruelty, paranoia, bizarre morality, and strange aesthetics Applebaum captures in the electrifying pages of Iron Curtain.

The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira  by Cesar Aira

Aira’s latest concerns a reluctant but powerful doctor who finally decides to use his healing powers to help a hopeless patient.

César Aira’s newest novel in English is not about a conventional doctor. Single,in his forties, and poor, Dr. Aira is a skeptic. His personality — his weaknesses,whims, and pet peeves — is summed up in a series of digressions and regressions but he has a very special gift for miracles. He no longer cares about miracles,however, and has no faith in them. Perhaps he is even a little ashamed about his supernatural powers. Such is Dr. Aira, who also has to confront his arch-enemy— chief of the Piñero Hospital, Dr. Actyn — who is constantly trying to prove that Dr. Aira is a charlatan. Poor Dr. Aira is indeed a worker of miracles, but César Aira — the magesterial author — sends the very human doctor stumbling toward the biggest trap of all, in this magical book.

The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy

It’s hard to imagine a more obviously fascinating prism through which to look at American history and politics since the end of World War II. Starting with the surprisingly effective relationship of Harry S. Truman and Herbert Hoover, and following through “Obama and His Club,” TIME Magazine‘s Executive Editor Nancy Gibbs and Washington Bureau Chief Michael Duffy trace the surprising, complicated story of “the world’s most exclusive fraternity.” Sitting presidents and their predecessors have at times proved remarkably simpatico, at others impossible thorns in each other’s sides. The authors’ extensive research demonstrates that ex-Presidents have a penchant for morphing from consummate team players into irascible rogues, sometimes within weeks, as they strive both to remain relevant and to shape their own legacies. In Gibbs and Duffy’s hands, their stories never fail to captivate.