Book Club

The After Party – Morning Book Break and Books and Bagels – Dec. 2016

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Books and Bagels and Morning Book Break Book Discussions on In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder And Its Consequences by Truman Capote

Rating: In Books and Bagels, the book received ratings between 3.75 and 5.0. The average rating was 4.33.

In Morning Book Break, this book received a variety of scores between 1.0 and 4.5.  The average rating was 3.27.

Review: The nonfiction novel was selected as part of a two-month combination study, along with the historical fiction novel, The Swans of Fifth Avenue.  Following our group discussion, the members were asked to respond by giving their usual critique and also, respond to the following:

  • Did you find reading The Swans of Fifth Avenue prior to reading In Cold Blood profitable?
  • If members had previously read In Cold Blood, they were asked to compare and contrast their previous reading with this current reading.

Most members relayed that Truman Capote was indeed, a truly gifted writer.  Most members would not have selected this nonfiction true crime book, but they were happy that it was a book club selection. The discussion, as always, was dynamic, insightful, and elevated the individual reading of the book.

Discussion Highlights—both groups

  • Several members read In Cold Blood as teenagers and remember being quite frightened; however, rereading the books as adults, they found the text enlightening, interesting, and disturbing. Members felt over the course of their lifetimes, they have been desensitized to the portrayal of crimes. After all, today’s media constantly televises murder, terror, and violence.
  • Most members found Capote’s writing to be superb, but found the read to be very slow going. Reading all the details at times was cumbersome and boring.

Discussion Highlights—Books and Bagels

  • Most members found last month’s read, The Swans of Fifth Avenue to be a disappointing read, but found the information gleaned about Capote to be very useful in understanding Capote’s characterization of Perry Smith. Some members did not like the characterization of Truman Capote in The Swans of Fifth Avenue, but the information was useful.
  • There was much discussion about Dick and Perry’s senseless crime. Members searched for reasons the crime was committed. In Cold Blood was a psychological investigation into the minds of these cold-blooded killers. Truman Capote amazingly achieved sympathy and compassion for these murderers.
  • One member read the book straight though and found the story compelling and the writing masterful.
  • Several members believe that In Cold Blood was an excellent springboard leading to a discussion about capital punishment.
  • One member had read In Cold Blood in Esquire magazine in its original publication format, four installments. She commented that when she read it the first time, she did not realize the significance of the work.

Discussion Highlights—Morning Book Break

  • Several members thought In Cold Blood was disturbing, but were thrilled it was chosen as a book discussion read. They thought the work was ground-breaking for 1965.  The back and forth sections between the Clutters and the murders was innovative.
  • Several members were reminded of the Palatine Brown’s Chicken murders and the Richard Speck murders.
  • Overall, the group was not sympathetic to the killers.
  • Many members found the book moved too slowly, but all agreed Truman crafted well-developed characters and the readers felt transported to Holcomb, Kansas circa 1959.
  • Many members felt the book dragged, but thought reading the combination of the two books to be an excellent choice. This combination aided in the understanding of the author, his writing, and his exploration into Perry Smith’s character.
  • Several members have recommended The Swans of Fifth Avenue to their friends.
  • There was a fair amount of discussion surrounding the terminology: literary non-fiction, creative nonfiction, nonfiction novel, true crime book, violent fiction novel (as related to In Cold Blood).

Resources:

http://www.litlovers.com/reading-guides/14-non-fiction/476-in-cold-blood-capote?start=3


Parts 2-4 are also available on YouTube.

Films Available for Check-Out:

Read-a-Likes:

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Make Mine

Make Mine… a Gentle Read

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Those who are drawn to gentle reads are often looking for a good story with wholesome characters.  Relationships and character development are the important factors and the pace is usually slower.  These stories are not devoid of problems to solve or difficult situations to face, but the response is upbeat and constructive. Characters can be colorful, but generally maintain positive values.

If you think you would enjoy these vintage-feeling but eminently readable tales, the following authors tend to write in this genre:

Mitch Albom
Lynn Austin
Maeve Binchy
Olive Ann Burns
Elizabeth Cadell
Jennifer Chiaverini
Sandra Dallas
Barbara Delinsky
Harriet Doerr
Clyde Edgerton
Richard Paul Evans
Fannie Flagg
Benedict and Nancy Freedman
Ernest J. Gaines
Elizabeth Gaskell
Kaye Gibbons
Philip Gulley
Garrison Keillor
Sue Monk Kidd
Lorna Landvik
Alexander McCall Smith
Debbie Macomber
Annette Mahon
Charles Martin
Joan Medlicott
Rosamund Pilcher
James Michael Pratt
Jeanne Ray
Miss Read
Ann B. Ross
Rebeca Seitz
Nicholas Sparks
Mary Stewart
Adriana Trigiani
Nancy Turner
Rebecca Wells
Eudora Welty
P.G. Wodehouse
Make Mine

Make Mine…Romance

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The romance novel, in its familiar form, is a celebration of falling in love.  Generally the lovers will encounter obstacles along the way, but in the end, the problems have been solved, the struggles overcome, and there is a happy and satisfying ending.  There are many subgenres to romance, including contemporary, historical, and romantic suspense.  No matter what kind of love you like to read about, there is an author or novel out there for your tastes.

If you enjoy stories of people falling in love, the following authors tend to write in the romance genre:

Victoria Alexander
Mary Balogh
Jo Beverley
Robyn Carr
Loretta Chase
Marion Chesney
Jennifer Crusie
Janet Dailey
Suzanne Enoch
Anne Gracie
Irene Hannon
Robin Lee Hatcher
Dee Henderson
Georgette Heyer
Eloisa James
Sherrilyn Kenyon
Sophie Kinsella
Mindy Klasky
Lisa Kleypas
Jayne Ann Krentz
Stephanie Laurens
Johanna Lindsey
Debbie Macomber
Susan Mallery
Linda Lael Miller
Victoria Christopher Murray
Tracie Peterson
Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Mary Jo Putney
Amanda Quick
Julia Quinn
Francis Ray
Sheila Roberts
LaVyrle Spencer
Danielle Steel
Kathleen Woodiwiss
Make Mine

Make Mine…Cozy Mystery

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A subgenre of crime fiction and mystery, cozy mysteries are for those readers who like the puzzle deciphering aspect of solving a crime, but not necessarily violence, profanity, or sex, which can be present in grittier mysteries and thrillers.

This genre is extremely popular in series, with readers being able to follow one amateur sleuth’s adventures over a long period of time.  The sleuth themselves is often an educated woman, and they tend to solve crimes in small, close-knit communities.

If cozies appeal to you, the following authors tend to write in this popular genre:

Catherine Aird
Susan Wittig Albert
Nancy Atherton
Robert Barnard
Stephanie Barron
M.C. Beaton
Laurien Berenson
Rhys Bowen
Lillian Jackson Braun
Simon Brett
Emily Brightwell
Rita Mae Brown
Laura Childs
Jill Churchill
Mary Daheim
Diane Mott Davidson
Aaron Elkins
Joanne Fluke
Anthea Fraser
Dorothy Gilman
Carolyn Hart
Joan Hess
Georgette Heyer
Sharon Kahn
Laurie R. King
Kate Kingsbury
Alexander McCall Smith
Sharyn McCrumb
Charlotte MacLeod
Tamar Myers
Katherine Hall Page
Elizabeth Peters
Ellis Peters
Nancy Pickard
Dorothy Sayers
Book Club

The After Party – Books and Bagels and Morning Book Break – Nov. 2016

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Books and Bagels and Morning Book Break Book Discussions on The Swans of Fifth Avenue

Rating:  In Books and Bagels, the book received ratings between 2.5  and 4.0. The average rating was 3.5.  In Morning Book Break, this novel received a variety of scores between -1.0 and 4.0.  The average rating was 3.0.

Review:  The novel was selected as part of a two-month combination study.  The Swans of Fifth Avenue was selected to provide insight into the life of the literary genius, Truman Capote. In December, the book clubs will read In Cold Blood, Capote’s non-fiction masterpiece. Capote is often credited as establishing the true-crime genre.  Next month, the clubs will discuss whether reading The Swans of Fifth Avenue offered any insight into Truman Capote’s literary rise and fall. We will discuss whether members appreciated reading The Swans of Fifth Avenue in combination with In Cold Blood.

Most members in both groups felt the high society life displayed in the novel was nothing like the life most Americans live. The groups found the characters to be superficial, pretentious and deeply flawed. Most members could not identify with these characters and for that matter, did not want to.

However, club members did enjoy the group discussions and many enjoyed reminiscing about this period of time.

Discussion Highlights – Morning Book Break

  • Most members found the book to be an easy, somewhat entertaining read, but most members did not find it to be a compelling novel.
  • Many members cared very little about the characters. They found the characters to be shallow and they did not admire them. Members found the characters to be deeply flawed and members were grateful for their own lives.
  • Several members struggled to complete the book and some even skimmed over sections.
  • Many members were disappointed with Melanie Benjamin’s repetitive writing style. They were surprised they disliked this book because they had thoroughly enjoyed a previous club selection, The Aviator’s Wife, by the same author, which had received ratings between 4.0 and 5.0 with an average rating of 4.5.

Discussion Highlights – Books and Bagels

  • Most members did not connect with the characters and in fact, they did not find any of the characters to be sympathetic.
  • A few members felt the novel provided a thought-provoking glimpse into Truman Capote’s literary genius.
  • Members were not surprised that Truman Capote betrayed his friends by writing “La Cote, Basque 1965”.
  • Several members thought Melanie Benjamin was masterful in evoking powerful images in two particular scenes:
    1. Truman’s gentle removal of Babe’s makeup—revealing her true self for the first time.
    2. William Paley’s one-night stand cover-up.

Resources:

http://melaniebenjamin.com/

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Truman Capote and Babe Paley
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William and Babe Paley with Truman Capote at their house in Round Hill, Jamaica

Read-a-Likes:

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Make Mine

Make Mine…Inspirational and Biblical Fiction

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If you enjoy tales of people overcoming obstacles to find happiness and fulfillment, whether these people are assisted by a higher power or not, then you might like Inspirational Fiction.

Sometimes known as Christian Fiction, this genre nonetheless does not have to have religious overtones.  In Biblical fiction, Biblical characters are used as the main focus, and the stories are often retellings of what is contained in the Bible from a perspective of faith, but anyone can enjoy the stories of their lives.

If you want to read some of these tales of inspiration, the following authors tend to write in these genres:

Tamera Alexander
ReShonda Tate Billingsley
Terri Blackstock
Wanda E. Brunstetter
Melody Carlson
Vannetta Chapman
Mindy Starns Clark
Amy Clipston
Lori Copeland
Ted Dekker
Richard Paul Evans
Joseph Girzone
Andrew Greeley
Philip Gulley
Robin Jones Gunn
Rene Gutteridge
Robin Lee Hatcher
Kristen Heitzmann
Liz Curtis Higgs
J. Lynne Hinton
Angela Elwell Hunt
Denise Hunter
Neta Jackson
Jan Karon
Karen Kingsbury
Jane Kirkpatrick
Tim LaHaye
Maureen Lang
Beverly Lewis
Susan Meissner
Janette Oke
Catherine Palmer
Tracie Peterson
Francine Rivers
Gayle Roper
Lisa Samson
Gary Smalley
Penelope Stokes
Ann Tatlock
Brock and Bodie Thoene
Donna VanLiere
Dan Walsh
Susan May Warren
Jan Watson
Lori Wick
Lisa Wingate
Geoffrey Wood
Make Mine

Make Mine…a Western

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Though some may say its heyday has past, the Western genre is still alive and well, spinning tales of cowboys and gunfighters, Native Americans and marshals, and the other rough and tumble characters that populated the old West.

If you’re hankering for some historical adventure where the good guys win, the following authors tend to write in this genre:

Johnny D. Boggs
Frank Bonham
Terrell L. Bowers
Max Brand
Willa Cather
Don Coldsmith
Loren D. Estleman
Zane Grey
Tony Hillerman
Steve Hockensmith
Elmer Kelton
Louis L’Amour
Al and Joanna Lacy
Elmore Leonard
Larry McMurtry
Nelson Nye
Wayne D. Overholser
Lewis B. Patten
Robert B. Parker
Charles Portis
Dana Fuller Ross
Jack Schaefer
Glendon Fred Swarthout
Dale L. Walker
Richard S. Wheeler
Make Mine

Make Mine…Science Fiction

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Like its sister genre fantasy, science fiction falls in the broader genre known as speculative fiction.  Unlike fantasy, science fiction deals with the impact actual or imagined science has on society, oftentimes set in the future.  A knowledge of scientific principles isn’t required to enjoy science fiction, but an speculative, open mind can be a great help.

If science fiction intrigues you, the following authors tend to write in this genre:

Douglas Adams
Isaac Asimov
Ray Bradbury
Ben Bova
Lois McMaster Bujold
Orson Scott Card
C.J. Cherryh
Arthur C. Clarke
James S.A. Corey
Phillip K. Dick
Cory Doctorow
Harlan Ellison
Carol Emshwiller
Phillip Jose Farmer
William Gibson
Peter F. Hamilton
Harry Harrison
Robert A. Heinlein
Frank Herbert
James Patrick Kelly
Nancy Kress
Ursula K. Le Guin
Fritz Leiber
Stanislaw Lem
Larry Niven
Frederik Pohl
Kim Stanley Robinson
John Scalzi
Robert Silverberg
E.E. Smith
Jules Verne
H.G. Wells
Gene Wolfe
Uncategorized

Read-a-Likes: Stuart Woods

If you like Stuart Woods’ engrossing, page-turning thrillers with a cinematic sensibility, try these authors:

Jeffrey Archer
David Baldacci
Stephen J. Cannell
Mary Higgins Clark
Harlan Coben
Michael Connelly
Nelson DeMille
Robert B. Parker
James Patterson
Lawrence Sanders
Sidney Sheldon
Scott Turow

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Read-a-Likes

Read-a-Likes: J.R. Ward

If you like J.R. Ward’s paranormal romances with an irresistible combination of passion and adrenaline-fueled danger, try these authors:

Lara Adrian
Patricia Briggs
Kresley Cole
Christina Dodd
Christine Feehan
Jacquelyn Frank
Jeaniene Frost
Laurell K. Hamilton
Sherrilyn Kenyon
Pamela Palmer
Lynsay Sands
Gena Showalter
Nalini Singh

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