Book Club Babes: Let’s Talk Books

Personally, I love to discuss books, analyze books, and write about books.  For many years, I was a book hoarder refusing to share my love of reading by passing a book along for fear of never seeing said book again.  This unreturned phenomena happened many times to me, by the way, before I decided to put an end to the lending process.  Instead, I chose to alphabetize my books, color-code my books, and stack them in piles by my bed instead of deal with the frustration.

Then, one day I decided not to lend the books, but give them away by stuffing them into friends’ mailboxes or hanging them on their doors, and this felt good. . . right.  I was sharing my love of reading and decluttering my house at the same time.  The likelihood of my rereading a book is slim to none due to the vast assortment of reading materials out there, and I want to read them all.  In truth, I reread books now simply because I have forgotten I have read them at all (until about halfway in) or if a character named Ranger or Morelli is involved. 

So, this morning, my eldest daughter talked books with me, and I was like a kiddo in the candy store.  Scout’s honor, I did not prompt the discussion.  Instead, she admitted to starting Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab (our third book club selection courtesy of Book Club Babe Colleen) last night after we told her for the third time to return to bed.  Sneaky!  She told me her book club buddy, Ava, had been reading it, so my squirt guesstimated Ava was nearly finished with the book (as she is a voracious reader).  

I asked my daughter, “When did you discuss Nick and Tesla with Ava?”  

She responded, “When I was at her house for the slumber party . . ..”  

I took a brief intermission, ran to my room, popped another Benicar due to my excitement, and then returned to our literacy . . . yes, literacy discussion.  

She continued with, “It’s weird how their names are Nick and Tesla, but are referred to as ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ in the book.”  

She then loaded Nick and Tesla into her backpack with “I’m going to take this to school,” and off she went.

When this same reader returned from school, she took off her backpack and told me she found “older” was mispelled in Nick and Tesla.  

I asked how it was spelled, and she said, “E-l-d-e-r”  (13).

Aha!  I explained the meaning of “elder,” but then asked where she found the word in the book.  She went right to the page as she had asked her teacher for a post-it note (what I use to mark passages in my book).  Happy Mother’s Day to me.  We reread the passage together, and I explained how “elder” was, in fact, the correct spelling in this particular sentence.  Learning vocabulary through context . . . an English teacher’s dream.

Furthermore, she said, “There was a funny line in the book, ‘IF YOU’RE SELLING GIRL SCOUT COOKIES, I’M NOT HOME'” (14).  We giggled together as we are both registered Girl Scouts (adult and child) and have sold and eaten our fair share of cookies.

She then continued the conversation by telling me how another book club buddy, Emma “. . . talks about book club all the time.”  

I asked, “When?”  

She said, “When we’re at recess, and she uses Bink and Gollie to answer questions.”  

I asked, “How does she use Bink and Gollie to answer questions?”  

My squirt thought about it for a minute before responding, “Like she’ll say, ‘I read this book Bink and Gollie, and one girl wanted a pancake, and the other wanted her to take her sock off, so the one girl shared the pancake, and the other girl took her sock off.'”

“Cool!” I said trying to mask my near hyperventilation.

The conversation ended with, “Emma said she started Ivy and Bean and is reading Chewy and Chica.”  

Feigning an eye itch, I wiped a tear from the corner of my eye.

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Takedown Twenty Book Club

Greeted with Janet Evanovich’s Takedown Twenty by my hub after a business trip with the inscription, “Morelli has nothin’ on me!” I knew I would be occupied for the next 24-48 hours. . . reading, and I have been.  Hooked, rather,  would more accurately describe my state of being.

The story had me from page one and especially from page seven:

. . . when Ranger walked in. . . . His body is perfect . . . of Latino heritage. . . .He’s sexy, smart, and sometimes scary, and frequently overprotective of me. . . . Ranger smiled ever so slightly and took a step closer to me.

Ooh la la!  Intermission break . . .

Other favorite characters make an appearance such as Grandma Mazur, Bella, Morelli, Lula, Connie (and did I mention Morelli?) while others such as Kevin the giraffe lend essential elements to the plot twists as a whole.

For the purposes of book club, one may opt for the cow tongue or whole smoked pig, but I think I would opt for Morelli’s famous wings dipped in his special bleu cheese sauce.

Janet Evanovich’s Notorious Nineteen Book Club

Janet Evanovich’s nineteenth installment of the Stephanie Plum series is definitely notorious.  A nostalgic rush of previous savored novels early in the series came back while reading.  Hunks Morelli and Ranger played more prominent parts in the storyline instead of  cameos.  Although still no absolute resolution to the love triangle, an absence of fussing between Morelli and Stephanie was refreshing while a more in-depth relationship between Ranger and Stephanie was alluded to instead of “casual” encounters (if you catch my drift).  A favorite character, Randy Briggs, reappears in the series and is crucial to this plot, not merely an afterthought.  Bravo!  
For the purposes of book club. steering clear of the mashed potatoes might be best (yes, you’ll have to read to find out why).  Instead, a Pino’s-like lasagna with meat sauce, extra bread, and tiramisu.  For dessert, a cake in the shape of “Tiki” would be a welcome finale.

Janet Evanovich

Smokin’ Seventeen Book Club

     Having finished mourning over my one-night read of Janet Evanovich’s Smokin’ Seventeen, I feel I am ready to offer book club ideas.  A near obsessive fan of the Stephanie Plum series, I have read this series three times due to the fact I truly miss the plethora of characters (okay, specifically Morelli and Ranger . . .  ooh la la!) when I am not engaged in the series.  So, when a fellow author groupie and friend notifies me of the latest release date, sleepless nights ensue until I am able to download the book to my phone.  Thus, promptly at midnight June 20st, my phone declares “download complete.”  Thrilled with the girth of this novel, 39 chapters, I take the plunge. 
     Without having to attach “spoiler alert” to this blog, I can say with all certainty that “Smokin'” is an apt description for this book’s contents.  The two main male characters (my two sweeties), Morelli and Ranger, definitely make their presence known in the novel as well as in Stephanie’s life.  What I do feel is lacking is the more protective side  of Morelli, more consistent with previous novels in the series.  In addition, a quote spoken by Ranger explaining his interest in Stephanie as entertainment read as near verbatim from a passage in a previous book.  However, I do admit that I have most of Ranger’s quotes memorized (ask my hub who now sports a black RANGEMAN t-shirt), so others may not even think twice when reading these lines.  Perhaps foreshadowing hinting at a change in their relationship in Explosive Eighteen?  November, the month of the next  book release, will tell.  In the meantime, yes, other characters do exist in Smokin’ Seventeen, and the plot takes on a familiar, yet unique spin of twists and turns.  An entertaining, engaging read which I am sure will be reread at least once before 18’s release.
     As for book club, dressing as characters from the novel would be an ideal way to set the mood.  Think Grandma Mazur, Stephanie, Connie, Morelli, Ranger, Vinnie, Lula, Mooner, Alpha, and Dave.  Since Dave offers some mouthwatering dishes in the novel, book club can take his cue and together prepare a meal of salad, scalloped potatoes, and lamb chops (see chapter 29).  Lemon meringue pie for dessert would be the feasting finale along with an assortment of doughnuts in honor of Steph and Lula.
     If hosting the book club for Smokin’ Seventeen and wish to dispense party favors, a grab bag of assorted granny panties from which members may choose would be a memorable giveaway.  Or, asking each guest to bring a pair of granny panties of his/her choice for a White Elephant gift exchange and/or competition to guess who brought what may add to the festive nature.

Janet Evanovich