Archive for the ‘Page Turners’ Category

Sara Gruen’s novel, “Water for Elephants,” explores the innerworkings and relationships within the pathetic grandeur of the Depression-era circus.

Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski’s ninety-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and its ownway of death. The world of the circus: to Jacob it was both salvation and a living hell.

Jacob was there because his luck had run out — orphaned and penniless, he had no direction until he landed on this locomotive “ship of fools.” It was the early part of the Great Depression, and everyone in this third-rate circus was lucky to have any job at all. Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, was there because she fell in love with the wrong man, a handsome circus boss with a wide mean streak. And Rosie the elephant was there because she was the great gray hope, the new act that was going to be the salvation of the circus; the only problem was, Rosie didn’t have an act — in fact, she couldn’t even follow instructions. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and ultimately, it was their only hope for survival. 

The above is an excerpt from www.readinggroupguides.com.   Our book club recently read this novel and we all enjoyed it.  I would recommend it highly.  It is a book that I read quickly and I found it hard to put down.


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The Rhoades Literary Society “met” on Sunday and discussed the book, Doubt by John Patrick Shanley.

This book is actually a pulitzer-prize winning play and was later turned into a movie starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams.

 The book is a really quick read at only 58 pages.  Set in the sixties, the play touches upon religion, gender roles, race, sexual orientation, and pedophilia

It demonstrates how complicated these situations can be and the difficulty in proving guilt, as well as innocence.  We all know the devastating consequences of letting perpetrators go but how terrible to be innocent and accused of such a horrific crime too. 

Below is a link with a video interview with John Patrick Shanley if you want to take a look at it.


There are so many layers to this plot that the consensus of the society is undeniable doubt and 8 thumbs up.

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The second meeting of the Rhoades Scholars Literary Society was held tonight and our book was

 The Help by Kathryn Stockett. 

This book falls appropriately under the description of a page turner yet it’s not a book with a lot of action.  The author has woven a tale about black domestic help and the families that employed them in the 1960’s in Jackson, Mississippi.  The reader quickly falls in love with Aibleen, the tender hearted woman, who loves the white children she raises and teaches them what their parents won’t.  She  finds strength from her experiences to tell her story and encourages others to do the same.  Soon we meet Minny, who is outspoken, bitter and mistrusting of whites.  One of the white upper crust who crosses Minny is  Hilly, the original “mean girl”  propelled by her desire to keep the status quo, she pressures her friends to follow her lead.  One such friend is Skeeter, who starts to question the establishment.  Skeeter is a budding author, driven by the desire to find out what happened to Constantine, the black woman who raised her, loved her, then mysteriously disappeared.  Skeeter finds her voice and manages to pull herself away from the societal norms to expose the ugly truth.  She risks her social status and puts her life, as well as the lives of the maids who talk in peril. 

Read it and you will wonder how this could have gone on in your own lifetime.

Here’s a link from the author’s website where you can hear a reading about…chicken partners


Our meeting took a bit to get rolling as we are new to the “go to meeting” process.  All were in attendance although one of us (K) forgot about it until we called her! 🙂  Ha!  All but one had finished the book.  In my other book club I am often the guilty party and I must admit I just finished it today, not because it wasn’t compelling but I just had a hard time sitting down to read.  Loved doing the book club but still working through the challenges of 8 people trying to keep a conversation fluid when you have no visual cues.  I think Skype might help but we’ll need to do some technical research before we get that up and going.  Our next book is Shanghai Girls by Lisa See.  Check out my earlier blog on that since I already read it.

We voted and everyone in the Rhoades Scholars Literary Society loved the book giving it …

8 Cheers

What do you think?

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Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

I loved this book.  This is for my “other” book club.  We’re working on a name, so if you have any ideas, let me know.  

This book is a vivid account of two sisters who grew up  privileged in Shanghai , get caught up in a number of twists of fate  and travel to the US to make their lives and create a sense of family.  The colorful descriptions of their homes in China, as well as Los Angeles, immerse the reader in their lives.  The details about Chinese customs and cultural beliefs (or superstitions) are fascinating.  The strength of both of these women is inspiring as they escape China during war and undergo being part of an unwanted minority in the US during a time where paranoia about Communism  is rampant.  Definitely a must read.

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The wonder of technology (and desire to spend more time together) has brought my family together to discuss literature.  We just started a book club which will meet on the phone and hopefully on-line at one point.  Our home bases are Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Minnesota.  Our first meeting was in March and despite not being physically together, we had a great time. 

There are 7 of us ( my mom, 4 sisters, sister-in-law and me.)  We already voted to add in our dear cousin, M.A…a voice of reason in the cacophony of our voices.  No more invitations for membership will be extended, as the challenge of mass interruptions and talking over each other is problematic (okay, I’m guilty…but working on it.)  I’ve already posted the book we read under The Rhoades Scholars Literary Society category, so check it out.  There will be others to follow and some that our group may not have read, but I’ve read. 

 Any books reviewed by “the society” will be listed with a numerical rating of “Cheers” or “Boos.”  In the future, I will post links to purchase books if you are interested.  Feel free to add your comments if you’ve read the books and I’ll share them with the society.

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Same Kind of Different as Me 

by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

Same Kind of Different As Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together (Paperback)

Available at www.amazon.com

The Rhoades Scholars Literary Society gives it 7 cheers!

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