Jun 16, 2013

Recommendations for Book Clubs

The Sunday Salon.com Welcome to the Sunday Salon!
I have a few recommendations for book clubs - novels with topics, characters, and plots that would make good discussion.



Until My Soul Gets It Right (May 2013), the second in The Bibliophiles series, contemporary women's fiction by Karen Wojcik Berner. Catherine Elbert, dissatisfied with her small Wisconsin farming town, her family, and her circumscribed life there, leaves after high school for Portland, Maine, to spread her wings and find independence. Her mistakes and deceptions along the way, from Maine to San Diego and back to the Midwest, and her attitudes make her another main character that one finds hard to like. Is this a personality, interesting though she may be, that readers will not like? Or is she heading in a direction of self-realization?  The title of the book may give a hint.


Title: A Whisper to a Scream (The Bibliophiles, Book One) by Karen Wojcik Berner
Published June 14, 2011
Genre: contemporary women's fiction
Rating: 4.5/5

A realistic story of two very different women whose paths cross at a Classics Book Club meeting. They seem to be polar opposites. Sarah is a stay-at-home mom looking after two young sons and a too busy husband, keeping family and home together, frustrated that she has no spare time for herself. Anne is a successful public relations executive who delayed having children to further her career, only to find at around age 40 that she and her husband John are diagnosed with "unexplained infertility," and in vitro, artificial insemination, and other technologies are not working for them to have the children they now so desperately want.

The two women meet at the book club gathering, a break from household duties for Sarah. Anne finds it hard to understand Sarah's exasperation being a busy mother and homemaker, something Anne now dreams about.  How things turn out for them is the crux of the novel. When all is said and done, the Classics Book Club helps get them away from their problems, even for a while, and keeps them connected.

I could easily imagine I was reading non-fiction, so well drawn were the characters in the book. With fluid prose and realistic dialogue, the novel is as much a psychological study as a novel about contemporary marriage - the daily demands of raising a family, career versus children, infertility, infidelity, extended family, and hobbies outside of work and home.

I like the idea of having a series of books built around a Classics Book Club. This is the first of the author's planned six books exploring the lives of various book club members, the Bibliophiles. The second book in the series is Until My Soul Gets It Right, published May 22, 2012.

A Whisper to a Scream is as good and in some cases better than many of the contemporary women's fiction novels I've read recently, and I say this without bias.


The Longings of Wayward Girls by Karen Brown (July 2, 2013) has me thinking about main characters that I decide I don't like, even though I am fascinated by them as young girls, as teens, and as adult women. Sadie doesn't change much from the insightful 11-year-old to the adult mother. She still keeps secrets and really sees what is happening but doesn't let on, not to help others out or bring the truth to light to resolve conflicts. She is also not just a passive observer, but actively involved in situations that she could confess to but does not, not even as a grown woman and mother. There is a lot here to discuss about a person such as Sadie.

These are my three Book Club picks. The plot, characters, themes and setting will give much for readers to ponder and discuss.

I received complimentary review copies of these books. 

22 comments:

Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Wow, I like how you bring us into the characters' worlds and show us what is likeable and what is not....intriguing.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Brian Joseph said...

Interesting comment about characters that you do not like being fascinating. As I get older I find this to be very true for me. Sometimes the most interesting and complex personas are not the sort of folks that one would not want to deal with in real life.

Kristen said...

Lately I've been reading loads that would be appropriate for book clubs. Some that spring to mind (mostly because they are still sitting next to the computer waiting for reviews) are: Nowhere Is a Place by Bernice McFadden, Schroder by Amity Gage, The Book of Someday by Dianne Dixon, Love All by Callie Wright, Our Love Could Light the World by Anne Leigh Parrish, and Big Brother by Lionel Shriver.

Laura @ The Shabby Rabbit said...

I've been playing catch-up with my reading, reading from lists like 1001 books to read before you die, and the BBC list. But I'd recommend Updike's Rabbit is Rich for an amazing encapsulated look at the weirdness that was the 1970's.

Harvee @ Book Dilettante said...

I find it interesting that many books are more realistic both in the content and in the ending.

Harvee @ Book Dilettante said...

A new realism in fiction?

Harvee @ Book Dilettante said...

I haven't read these but will keep them in mind!

Harvee @ Book Dilettante said...

Rabbit I remember as flawed, yes!

Suko said...

Each of these books sound like they would be perfect for book clubs to discuss. Karen Brown's book sounds particularly intriguing.

Harvee @ Book Dilettante said...

My brief comments don't say as much about the books as their book descriptions, Suko. I agree they are great discussion books.

Suzanne said...

I love characters that you just love "to hate"! Thanks for bringing up characters that you don't particularly like, but are fascinating nonetheless. Is it easier to write character that the reader loves? I don't know, but to have a character that you don't like hold your attention I think says something about the writing. All these books sound interesting & I'm writing down The Longings of Wayward Girls because I love stories that take us from a characters early years to later years. Thanks for sharing!

Harvee @ Book Dilettante said...

You brought up an good question, Suzanne. I think it may be harder to create an unsympathetic character who is also interesting.

wellwell2.com said...

Interesting. Haven't heard of any of these. I used to live in Maine so they pique my interest a little.

Staci said...

I'm looking forward to reading the first one...wonder how I will view the characters!

Naida said...

These all sound good, especially A Whisper to a Scream. Thanks for the recommendations.

Harvee @ Book Dilettante said...

You won't be disappointed, Naida!

Harvee @ Book Dilettante said...

Hope to read your thoughts soon!

Harvee @ Book Dilettante said...

Great descriptions of Portland, Maine, as well as the other cities that Catherine lives in.

Rita_h said...

I am putting those Karen W Berner books on my wishlist right now! How I love a good mystery series! Thanks for sharing the titles.

Marie King said...

These look great! I'm going to jot these down and bring them up to my book club as potential reads. You should check out “Secrets of a Spiritual Guru” by Tamara Lee Dorris, http://tamaradorris.net/. We are finishing it now and it's perfect for a book club, or even just as a summer read; really fun read! Thanks again for the recommendations!

Harvee @ Book Dilettante said...

I know hyou will like them though they are not mysteries but very good women's fiction!

Harvee @ Book Dilettante said...

Thanks for the tip. Hope your book club will like Karen's two books, excellent contemporary women's fiction. With reader's guide/book discussion questions included!

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