Monday, May 19, 2014

April Meeting News

Our book for April was Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. It was well worth postponing the discussion after the low attendance in January. Everyone who came really enjoyed the book. It sparked a lively discussion about romance in books, especially love triangles. But there was plenty of action and excitement in the book, too. The verdict was that it was a great book choice and the group has to read book 2 in the trilogy.

The book for May is Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne. This one is a bit of a thriller with a surprise ending. The group will meet to discuss it on Wednesday, May 21 at 4:30 pm. At that meeting we'll also be talking about possibly changing the name of the group.

Upcoming Books

At the April meeting the group chose books for the next 6 months. Each of these books should be available at the previous month's meeting. Or you can pick up a copy and sign up for the group at the Central Reference Desk in the basement.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Catching Up on Winter Book Group News

January's Discussion Moves to April

Mother Nature sent some nasty winter weather our way in January that meant just one person showed up for the meeting on the 22nd. And he had barely started the book. Since many of you sounded excited to read Throne of Glass, I decided to reschedule the discussion for our meeting on April 23rd. Most of those who had picked up the book earlier have already finished reading it. I'm looking forward to some lively discussion. 

Our book for May is Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne. I have 8 copies available for pick up at our April meeting. We also need to start thinking about books for the Summer and Fall. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll start posting some possible titles. Feel free to tell me what you think either in comments here or by email.

February and March Recap

In February we read Croak by Gina Damico. It seemed like most everyone thought it was fun, even though they hadn't finished it yet. 

For our March book we decided to be part of the JMRL Big Read and chose True Grit by Charles Portis. We had a good discussion, mostly about the things we didn't like so much. Sometimes a book we don't like actually sparks lots of good comments. But I think we'll still try to find something we all like better for future meetings.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Brain Jack by Brian Falkner

December Meeting

Unlike with November's book, Confessions of a Murder Suspect, those attending the meeting were unanimous in stating that Brain Jack by Brian Falkner was a really good book. Everyone enjoyed reading it, and we had a lively discussion. We agreed that while parts of it were pretty technical when it talked about characters actually hacking into computer systems, or protecting them, it was all explained in a way that allowed the readers to visualize the process. So you might not be able to understand the technical details, you felt like you could easily follow what was going on. The characters also felt real, mature enough in many ways but also letting loose and having fun, acting like normal teens. Add to that a premise that felt very plausible and possible, and you have a winning combination. 

We also discussed book choices for the rest of the Spring. Here's the lost so far:
  • February 19 - Croak by Gina Damico: Sixteen-year-old Lex has sucker-punched her last classmate. Her parents send her off to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping a few months of dirty farm work will reform her. Uncle Mort is going to teach her the family business, but it's not farming. He's a Grim Reaper, and Lex is about to become his apprentice.
  • March 19 - True Grit by Charles Portis. We're going to be part of the Big Read!
If you haven't voted on our book choice for April, please take the Spring Book Choices Survey by January 21! We will be finalizing our April and May book selections at the next meeting. Feel free to add your own suggestions.

January's Book:

In January we are reading Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. Assassins, deadly competition and magical murders, what's not to like? Stop by the Reference Desk to register and pick up your copy. But hurry, there are enough free books for the first 10 people. The meeting is January 22 at the new meeting time of 4:30 pm.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

November's Book Discussion:

Opinions were divided about Confessions of  a Murder Suspect by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. That meant there was some lively discussion. We spent a lot of time talking about the main character and narrator, Tandy. Was she a reliable narrator? Did she feel "real?" Some of the group were put off by her character, making it hard to enjoy the book. Tandy has some big gaps in her memory. But there are some major surprises as she begins to remember her past. That was one crazy family! If you were one of those who enjoyed this book and want to read more of Tandy's story, you'll want to check out Confessions: The Private School Murders, where she attempts to exonerate her famous brother of murder charges, track down a New York City killer, and figure out what happened to her lost love.

The Big Read is Coming!

In March, the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library will again participate in the Big Read. This year's book is True Grit by Charles Portis. The group decided to be part of Big Read either by reading True Grit or a similar book for our March discussion. Cast your vote for the March book by answering this survey. The survey closes November 30, so hurry!

Book for January:

The group chose to read Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas for January. Celaena is a notorious assassin, sentenced to hard labor in the salt mines. She is released into the custody of the Prince and the Captain of the Guard in order to be part of a deadly competition to become the King's Champion. But not only is the challenge dangerous, someone or something is killing off the competitors. There's lots of action here with just a bit of romance. It should be a fun read!

Next meeting: December 18th at 4 pm. Be sure to stop by the Reference Desk to pick up your copy of the book, Brain Jack by Brian Falkner!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hannah Barnaby's Wonder Show

In spite of scheduling our meeting later in the month, the copies of Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby still arrived just a week before we got together. Though most of those who attended did not have time to read the whole book, we had a lively discussion. Some of the themes in this book are family and finding where you belong. We talked about what it means to be the only normal person in a group of people who are different. Does that make you the person who is different? Another idea we talked about was how a side show provided a place for people with disabilities to support themselves in a time when there were few opportunities for them, but the carnival also exploited them and held them up to ridicule. We ended with a fun Mad Lib based on the book. (Thanks, Lizzy!)

If you are lucky enough to get a chance to see Hannah Barnaby in person, don't miss it! Her author visit at the Northside Library on Monday, October 28 was fantastic.

For November, we will return to meeting on the third Wednesday of the month - November 20. We will be reading James Patterson's Confessions of a Murder Suspect. The book is available now at the Reference Desk on the Lower Level of the Central Library. Stop by to sign up and get your copy. We'll hand out the book for December at the November meeting. It's also time to start thinking about what we should read for the meetings after that. Bring your ideas on the 20th, leave a comment here, or email them to Angela.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Wonder Show Has Arrived


Our October book has finally arrived! We will be reading Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby for our meeting on October 23 at 4 pm. Be sure to stop by the Reference Desk on the lower level soon to pick up your copy so you can start reading.

Don't forget to mark your calendar for Hannah Barnaby's visit to the Northside Library on Monday, October 28. Registration recommended.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Another Alex Rider Adventure


On Wednesday, September 18 the group met to discuss the third book in the Alex Rider series, Skeleton Key, by Anthony Horowitz. There were some interesting observations made about this book and the series over all. Much like the incident with the crane and the drug dealers in Point Blank, there is an opening mini-adventure that forces Alex to go back to work for MI6. In this case, he spoils the plans of an oriental gang to fix the outcome of the Wimbledon tennis tournament, causing the gang to seek revenge. Alex must flee England and ends up working with the CIA. Another observation was that the adventures would be much shorter and easier for Alex if MI6 would just give him a gun before sending him on an assignment. After all, he always ends up getting his hands on a gun by the end.

These observations of the repetitive structure of the books and some of the basic plot points led to a discussion of the series as a whole. The group decided that while individuals want to continue reading the series, it would not be a good choice for book group meetings. In the future, the group may read the first book in a series, but will probably not keep reading later books in the series.

When it was time to decide on a book for the December meeting, Angela presented a few mini book talks and passed around the books for everyone to see. While the group thought 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad looked interesting, they decided that they didn't want to read a horror story. But everyone seemed to agree that Brain Jack by Brian Falkner looked really interesting. So for December we will read Brain Jack.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Future Reads?

We've chosen our books for September, October, and November. Otomen volume 9 has been suggested as a possibility for December. Here are some other possibilities for future meetings.


Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel

This graphic novel is the story of Garth Hale's adventures in the ghost world. As he searches for a way back to the world of the living, he travels through the realm of the dead with his skeleton horse, Skinny, where he is chased by bugs, meets his grandfather's ghost, and takes on the evil the ruler of Ghostopolis. Should we return to reading more graphic novels?


Brain Jack by Brian Falkner

You probably think the best video game controller is the one that gives you the most control. The brain jack will connect your brain directly to the computer, giving you complete control and feeding sensations from the game straight to your mind. But we all know that computers can be hacked. What happens if the system is hacked while you are connected to the brain jack? Could your thoughts, memories, and beliefs be changed and controlled? Sam Wilson is about to find out.

What do you think? Do you have other suggestions?  Email Angela with your ideas or leave a comment below!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz


At our meeting on August 14, we discussed Point Blank, the second book in the Alex Rider Adventures.

Alex Rider has gone back to his old life and discovered that he doesn't fit in anymore. He blames MI6 for turning his life upside down. But soon he is swept up in a new mission for the Secret Service. He goes undercover to investigate a private boarding school that promises to reform the difficult teenage sons of the rich and powerful. The problem is that some of the boys return home too changed. Parents who ask too many questions turn up dead. Alex discovers that the plot is deeper and more dangerous than any of them could have imagined.

In our discussion, we compared this book to the first in the series, Stormbreaker. We also talked about the role of covers in a series and how branding may attract new readers. Others topics that came up were the cliffhanger ending and how the head of the Secret Service could be so sure that Alex would come back for another mission.

The final order of business for the meeting was choosing books for the rest of the year:
  • September: Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz (Alex Rider Book 3)
  • October: Wonder Show by local author Hannah Barnaby. We'll discuss the book and then get to meet the author when she visits the Northside Library.
  • November: Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson
  • December: Perhaps a return to Otomen with volume 9?
This was my first chance to meet with the group, and I really enjoyed our discussion. I look forward to meeting the rest of the "regulars" at the next meeting. Or stop by the Central Library and say hello. I look forward to hearing all of your great ideas and suggestions!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Otomen 6

This volume should really be summarized by someone other than me.  Why? 

Because:
1.  I could not find the Aunt or her brother, aka Asuka's father, except once, early on in the volume.
2.  I could not figure out what was being said about, for, to, or with Asuka's Aunt or father; personally Kanno failed me .
3.  I could not figure out who or why new characters are introduced in this volume.  They do not add new   twists to the dilemma an Otomen faces, nor do they further the story line in any meaningful direction.  Same old, same old, in my opinion.

All of the above makes me tired just thinking of reading volumes 7 & 8, but read them we will! 

                        See you on Wednesday, May 8, when we discuss volumes 7&8.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Otomen 5

This fifth volume of the saga about an adolescent male's identify process, continues to entertain and and inform.  We see, for example, that there is definitely a double standard working in modern [Japanese] society:  a girl can be a tomboy, while still winning a beauty pageant in which contestants demonstrate certain female domestic skills (i.e. bento lunches, flower arranging, etc.) while young men have to hid their otomen talents (such as cosmetic make-up artistry) behind intimidating metal masks that hide their identity from the public. 

Nonetheless, it seems that only the adult community is judgmental about  rigidly defined, gender-specific activities;  all the kids appear supportive, even those who are in athletic competition with one another.  Where Ryo may not know how to make a bento box, she was a whiz with an axe when re-creating Asuka's uncle's seaside restaurant. In this volume,  Asuka did not hesitate to show Ryo how to artfully design her bento.

The final scene in this volume introduces a new character, who is about to whisk Asuka away -- is it a kidnapping?  Read Otomen 6 to find out.  We will discuss the adventure on Wednesday, April 10, 2013.