6 reasons why I love my book club.

My book club met yesterday afternoon. We’ve been meeting and reading books since about 2012 and our book club has grown over the years. Since its inception, we’ve added about 5 or 6 people to our monthly gatherings. I joined initially when one of my co-workers from the first temp job I held after moving to Seattle said she was putting together a book club and asked if I wanted to join.

Of course I said yes right away. And now I can’t believe we’ve been meeting for over 5 years!

Here’s why I love my book club:

1. Everyone has a chance to pick a book: I’ve heard that some book clubs vote on books or take recommendations. In our book club, we take turns picking the books. We have a list of everyone in the club and we go in order; each time we meet, the next person on the list picks the next book to be read.

2. Everyone has opinions: There have been some books that we’ve read that no one likes. Some books everyone likes. A couple of times everyone but 1 or 2 people have liked a book or everyone but a couple of people have hated a book. The good thing is that everyone is comfortable sharing their thoughts. It’s really interesting to hear different book opinions than my own. Besides, it would be boring if everyone felt the same way about each book.

3. We always meet on a Saturday (and occasionally Sunday): When we first started meeting, we met on Friday nights. But this turned out to be too difficult to get to the meetings after work. Now we usually meet on Saturday afternoons. It’s nice because we know in advance what day we are meeting and there’s no hurry to rush out of work to get somewhere. It’s gives me something to look forward to over the weekend.

4. Wine! Of course there is wine – what is a book club without wine?

5. We take turns hosting: We usually rotate between 4 or 5 people’s homes. We’ve even met at a couple of restaurants. This is nice because the pressure is not all on the same person each time. Having different people host makes it fun. Each person has their own spread they put out and we’ve become very friendly with all the different pets at the different homes. Unfortunately I’ve never hosted but that’s because I live in a studio apartment and can barely fit 2 people in my apartment, let alone 7 or 8. People would be sitting on the floor and on the bed. Not good.

6. Friends: Let’s be honest. We usually only spend about 15-20 minutes discussing the book (and that’s only if enough people have read it to have a conversation). The rest of the time is just spent hanging out and chatting and catching up with everyone. Even if I don’t read the book, I still go to the meetings just to see everyone. I’ve met so many wonderful people through our book club and I’m so happy I can call them all my friends.


what I’m reading: white bodies by jane robins.

From a young age, Callie has been obsessed with her twin sister Tilda. Callie spends her time watching and observing as Tilda grows up to be an actress while Callie spends her days working in a bookstore. When Tilda invites Callie over to meet her new boyfriend Felix, Callie is struck by how neat, tidy, and domineering Felix is. Callie watches as Tilda seems to stop eating, stop acting, and does everything that Felix tells her.

Callie becomes even more worried when Tilda shows up with bruises on her arms. Convinced that Felix is hurting Tilda, Callie joins an internet support group for controlling men where she becomes friends with some of the anonymous women posting on the forum. But when one of the women is killed by an abusive man and then Felix turns up dead, Callie begins to doubt herself and soon starts to wonder if Felix was murdered.

I’m sitting here, thinking of what I want to say about this book. On the one hand, I didn’t like any of the characters and I didn’t connect to anyone in this book. The characters were unreliable, creepy, and I didn’t understand anyone’s motivation. The central premise of the book revolves around Tilda and Callie’s strange twin/sister relationship. Callie is odd and a bit too obsessed with her sister. I found myself cringing at most of the things she did and conclusions she would jump to. We don’t learn much about Tilda, as we only see her through Callie’s eyes and how she interacts and speaks with Callie. Tilda’s motivations were always unclear and I didn’t really understand either her or Callie.

On the other hand, I thought the overall plot was creative and it kept me reading, despite the lack of character development. There’s a nod to “Strangers on a Train” and I felt that the mystery surrounding Felix’s death was really intriguing.

I would have liked a longer ending. I think that if there were more explanation, the characters would have seemed more real. Additionally, although the mystery was solved at the end, there were a couple of minor plot points that weren’t resolved which bothered me. This book may have been just a little too peculiar for me.

what I’m reading: nightblind by ragnar jónasson.

Nightblind is the next book in the Dark Iceland series and takes place 5 years after the events of Snowblind. Ari Thór Arason is a policeman in the town of Siglufjörður, a remote fishing village in Northern Iceland. His old partner has since moved south to Reykjavik and a new policeman has taken his place. When the new policeman is murdered during a routine patrol, Ari Thór worries that he could be next.

The Dark Iceland series consists of six books, all of them published in Icelandic. While Nightblind is not technically the 2nd book in the series, it is the 2nd book to be translated into English. Since the events in the first book, Snowblind, a lot has happened to Ari Thór. His girlfriend has moved to the city and they have a son together. He is no longer the new guy in town and is more confident of himself and as a police officer.

This book had a bit of a different tone than the last. The Arctic winter is closing in but there wasn’t that since of darkness and isolation that I felt in Snowblind. Unfortunately, I also wasn’t as invested in the murder. There were a couple of subplots about some of the other characters that I felt were way more interesting.

Additionally, the story is interspersed with journal entries from a psychiatric ward patient. It’s not clear until the end who the patient is or what connection they have to the story, but I was definitely more interested in that sub plot than in figuring out who killed the other policeman.

This book was fairly short, a little more than 200 pages, which surprised me. I am enjoying reading about this northern Icelandic village.

rating all the books I read in 2017.

I read 61 books in 2017. It’s funny – when I look back at the list of books I read, there are some books I remember clearly, and other books I can’t even remember what the book was about.

I had a few 5 star reviews and no 1 star reviews. My 3 and 4 star reviews were split evenly.

Here are the ratings to all the books I read in 2017. Links are to my reviews.

5 stars:
The Lake House by Kate Morton
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
Act Like It by Lucy Parker
My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

4 stars:
The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
Life Rewritten by Andrea Johnston
Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
I See You by Clare Mackintosh
The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt
Midnight Target by Elle Kennedy
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell
Chasing Christmas Eve (Heartbreaker Bay, #4) by Jill Shalvis
Fatal by John Lescroart
Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar by Kelly Oxford
On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
Blackout by Marc Elsberg
Who’s That Girl? by Mhairi McFarlane
The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
Snowblind (Dark Iceland #1) by Ragnar Jónasson
Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan
Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan
Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas (Jane Austen Mysteries, #12) by Stephanie Barron
Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

3 stars:
Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
Hope in a Jar by Beth Harbison
Day Shift (Midnight, Texas, #2) by Charlaine Harris
Night Shift (Midnight, Texas, #3) by Charlaine Harris
Twelve Days of Christmas: A Christmas Novel by Debbie Macomber
Montana Secret Santa (Love at the Chocolate Shop, #3) by Debra Salonen
Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
The Unexpected Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell
Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell
Sweet Little Lies (Heartbreaker Bay, #1) by Jill Shalvis
Accidentally on Purpose (Heartbreaker Bay, #3) by Jill Shalvis
Fair Game by Josh Lanyon
Suddenly One Summer by Julie James
A Duke to Remember by Kelly Bowen
Rich Bitch by Nicole Lapin
Thank You, Jeeves (Jeeves, #5) by P.G. Wodehouse
Friday Night Brides by Samantha Chase
The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean
Sunset in Central Park by Sarah Morgan
Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan
The Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
Red Queen (Red Queen, #1) by Victoria Aveyard

2 stars:
One Less Problem Without You by Beth Harbison
Midnight Crossroad (Midnight, Texas #1) by Charlaine Harris
Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber
Her Private Avenger by Elle Kennedy
Jay Walking by Tracy Krimmer

2017 reading in review.

Looking back at my 2017 year of reading. My goal was to read 55 books and I’m excited to say that I met that goal and exceeded. I read 61 books in 2017. Once again, I pretty much read whatever caught my eye and sounded interesting.

Here’s how I did in 2017:

Number of books read: 61
This averages out to 1.17 books read per week.

Number of pages read: 21,427
Averages out to approximately 412 pages read a week.

Longest book:
Afterworlds at 624 pages.

Shortest book:
Act Like It at 199 pages.

Average Book Length:
351 pages

According to Goodreads, my average rating was 3.5 stars.

Books by genre:
Fiction – 56
Nonfiction – 5

I further broke down the categories within the genres:
Fiction – 22
Young Adult – 5
Romance – 29

Memoir – 4
Finance – 1

Books read for book group – 6

Books by acquisition type:
46 books were borrowed from the library.

Books by format:
Paperback – 18
Hardback – 24
Ebooks – 19

First book read in 2017:
The Twelve Dogs of Christmas

Last book read in 2017:
Night Shift (Midnight, Texas, #3)

Another great year for books!!

what I’m reading: jane and the twelve days of christmas by stephanie barron.

This is the 12th book in a series where Jane is an amateur sleuth. This book takes place in the later years of Jane’s life when she is about 39. Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Mansfield Park have all been published.

It’s the Christmas of 1814 and Jane, her sister Cassandra, and their mother are traveling to their brother James’ home for Christmas. On their way, their wagon has an accident and they are rescued by a Mr. West. When they arrived at James’ home, which we learn is Jane’s childhood home, they find his wife Mary who is prone to “megrims” and has a sense of melancholy about her (she seems likes a bit of a hypochondriac).

The Austen’s are invited the next day to join a Christmas celebration at The Vyne, home of William and Elizabeth Chute, an old friend of Jane’s. When they arrive, they discover other visitors including their rescuer from the day before, Mr. West, and the Gambiers. A snowstorm hits and the party becomes stranded at The Vyne for the next several days. A courier arrives bearing important political papers for Mr. Chute. However, after he departs, the courier is thrown from his horse and dies in what appears to be an accident. Jane however, is suspicious, and suspects he was murdered. Soon, one of the other party guests is found dead in an apparent accidental overdose. Jane is suspicious again and believes the young woman was murdered as well. Jane comes to the conclusion that someone at The Vyne must be the killer.

Narrated by Jane, this book is full of English customs and celebrations including a Yule log and a twelfth night celebration. I enjoyed all the little details about 19th century food and presents, especially Jane and Cassandra gifting their niece with a new doll outfit on each of the twelve days.

I thought this was a fun little cozy mystery. Because it is narrated by Jane, the book uses time period spelling for some of the words, which honestly I could have done without. It actually sometimes took me away from the story because I had to think about what the word was. I did think the mystery was interesting and I definitely didn’t know who the culprit was. Some of the conclusions and deductions made by Jane went over my head, but I guess that’s why I’m not an amateur sleuth.

what I’m reading: twelve days of christmas by debbie macomber.

It’s not Christmas until you read a Debbie Macomber holiday romance.

Julia’s neighbor Cain is the biggest Grinch. He’s grumpy, never smiles, and asks Julia to keep it down when she is singing Christmas carols. And to top it off, he has the nerve to steal her newspaper. Julia decides, that in the twelve days leading up to Christmas, to kill her neighbor with kindness in the hopes that she can change his Scrooge-like behavior. Julia starts blogging about her efforts and soon her blog goes viral.

What a fun and quick holiday read. This book was super short, about 200 pages, and the print seemed a bit large in the version I was reading. It was a typical Debbie Macomber book that contained all the elements of a holiday romance – a meet-cute in the elevator, Christmas cookies, a walk in the snow, Christmas carols. There was a grumpy boy and a sweet girl, with miscommunication between the two characters and a secret that could have been cleared up had they just been honest with one another.

The book does take place over 12 days, so some of the story lines seemed a bit rushed. I really liked some of the ways that Julia tried to win Cain over including baking him cookies, buying him coffee, delivering his newspaper to him personally, and bringing him soup when he gets the flu. Julia’s blog “posts” that detailed her endeavors and Cain’s reactions to them all were amusing and made me laugh. Of course, everything works out as it wouldn’t be a romance novel without a happy ending.

I did enjoy the message this book has of being nice to others and spreading kindness. Another entertaining Christmas read!