Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Secrets of the Tulip Sisters







Kelly Murphy's life as a tulip farmer is pretty routine—up at dawn, off to work, lather, rinse, repeat. But everything changes one sun-washed summer with two dramatic homecomings: Griffith Burnett—Tulpen Crossing's prodigal son, who's set his sights on Kelly—and Olivia, her beautiful, wayward and, as far as Kelly is concerned, unwelcome sister. Tempted by Griffith, annoyed by Olivia, Kelly is overwhelmed by the secrets that were so easy to keep when she was alone.

But Olivia's return isn't as triumphant as she pretends. Her job has no future, and ever since her dad sent her away from the bad boy she loved, she has felt cut off from her past. She's determined to reclaim her man and her place in the family…whether her sister likes it or not. For ten years, she and Kelly have been strangers. Olivia will get by without her approval now. >p>

While Kelly and Olivia butt heads, their secrets tumble out in a big hot mess, revealing some truths that will change everything they thought they knew. Can they forgive each other—and themselves—and redefine what it means to be sisters? 




























Notes from the Jan 2018 group




The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks – Discussed on Wed Jan. 3, 2018 at Geneseo Librar


Carnton Plantation, 1894: Carrie McGavock is an old woman who tends the graves of the almost 1,500 soldiers buried there. As she walks among the dead, an elderly man appears--the same soldier she met that fateful day long ago. Today, he asks if the cemetery has room for one more.

Based on an extraordinary true story, this brilliant, meticulously researched novel flashes back to 1864 and the afternoon of the Civil War. While the fierce fighting rages on Carrie's land, her plantation turns into a Confederate army hospital; four generals lie dead on her back porch; the pile of amputated limbs rises as tall as the smoke house. But when a wounded soldier named Zachariah Cashwell arrives at her house, he awakens feelings she had thought long dead--and inspires a passion as powerful and unforgettable as the war that consumes a nation.

Several of our group had toured this TN plantation.  This was not an easy read.  Each chapter was written from the point of view of a different character.  We learned about the Civil War and the hardships affected all people not just the soldiers.  Author did a good job researching this time period. The personalities and plot were interesting.  Most of our group liked this book.

The Widow of the South



Widow of the South  by Robert Hicks – To be Discussed on Wed. Jan. 3, 2018 at Geneseo Public Library

Based on an extraordinary true story, this brilliant, meticulously researched novel flashes back to 1864 and the afternoon of the Battle of Franklin, five of the bloodiest hours of the Civil War.

While the fierce fighting rages on Carrie's land, her plantation turns into a Confederate army hospital; four generals lie dead on her back porch; the pile of amputated limbs rises as tall as the smoke house. But when a wounded soldier named Zachariah Cashwell arrives at her house, he awakens feelings she had thought long dead-and inspires a passion as powerful and unforgettable as the war that consumes a nation.


Discussion Questions:

1. It seems that Carrie doesn't come alive until literally everyone around her is dying. Why do you think it took her home being taken over by the Confederate Army and turned into a hospital to awaken Carrie out of her stupor?

2. Do you believe that Zachariah really wanted to die when he picked up the colors on the battlefield? Why does Nathan Stiles spare Zachariah on the battlefield specifically, when others carrying the colors were killed? Is Zachariah grateful to be spared, or is he regretful, or a little of both, and why?

3. Does John McGavock undergo a character transformation from the beginning of the novel, when he and Theopolis encounter the gang of ruffians in the woods, to the end, when we see scenes him of him wandering around Franklin somewhat aimlessly? How do you think he views the war? How do you think he views his role, or his non-role, in the war? And how does this compare with Carrie's attitude towards the war?

4. In the author's note Robert Hicks says of Mariah, "… I have concluded that Mariah may well have been the most complete human of them all." Mariah never let her enslavement define her. Do you agree?

5. Discuss how the death of their children affected both Carrie and John. What is the difference between the attachment mothers and fathers have with their children? Do you think John would have begun drinking whether his children had died or not? And do you think Carrie had a propensity for eccentricity and seclusion?

6. When Carrie first notices Zachariah in her upstairs guest room, she remarks: "Unlike most of the men, he looked ready to die. He looked as if he were welcoming it, urging it along…I wanted his eyes on me." Why does Carrie take to Zachariah, and why does she later give him special treatment? Do you think it was purely physical attraction? Does Zachariah's welcoming of his own death conflict with Carrie's values?

7. Faith plays a large part in each character's motivations. Discuss the role of belief in a higher power and how it guides Carrie, Zachariah, and Mariah in their actions. For most of us, our belief system changes or 'grows' over the span of our lives, one way or the other. How did Carrie's faith change over the span of the novel?

8. Why do you think Carrie beats Zachariah on the porch? Were you surprised by this or did you understand it?

9. Zachariah and Carrie have an intense love affair yet it's never consummated sexually. Do you think the fact they never were physically intimate takes away or adds to their relationship, or does it matter?

10. At one point Carrie tells Mariah, "You always could have left, even when you weren't allowed. I would have never stopped you." Do you think this is true? Carrie seems to think of Mariah as her best friend, but she was really her property, a "gift" her father gave to her as a child. Do you think Carrie tries to make herself appear a better friend/owner than she really was? Discuss Carrie and Mariah's relationship. Could friendship really transcend enslavement?

11. Among the political issues leading up to the Civil War was the South's strong adherence to the doctrine of 'state's rights.' Among the issues to come out of the war was the emancipation of the enslaved in the 'slave states,' whether they had remained loyal to the union or had seceded and joined the Confederacy. Yet, neither of these political issues is ever addressed 'head-on' in the book. Why do you think that is?

12. Carrie comes from a rich, educated family. She is "learned." Zachariah is poor, and almost illiterate. Yet do you think one is wiser than the other?

13. Robert Hicks has said, "good writing is about transformation." We see transformation in Carrie, Zechariah and in their relationship, in John, in his and Carrie's relationship, in Mariah and her relationship with Carrie. Are we left with any sense that Mr. Baylor ever comes to any real peace about what has happened?

14. What does Carrie mean when she says the following to Zachariah: "You are my key. You will explain things I have not been able to understand…I want you to explain to me why I wanted you to live and why I was able to make you live. Because I don't understand, not really, and the answer is very important to me." What is Carrie not able to understand about herself, and what answer does she think Zachariah will be able to provide?

15. Carrie takes Eli into her home and he quickly assumes the role of a surrogate son and Winder's surrogate brother. How do Carrie's actions speak to her changing perceptions of family? Has her work running the hospital changed her maternal instincts or is she simply responding to the nature of war?

16. At the town party, Carrie remarks about how she doesn't fit in with the other women; Mrs. McEwen pokes fun of her efforts and jokingly calls her "St. 17. In 1894, after John has died, and Mariah, Carrie and Zachariah are all elderly, why does Zachariah not profess his love for Carrie more overtly? Over time, did his love become more of respect and admiration for her heroism, or are his feelings for her just as romantically intense?





Notes from the Dec 2017 group



Holiday Inn  (1942 DVD)  With Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire  - Watched on Wed. Dec. 6, 2017 at Geneseo Public Library

In this Irving Berlin musical, Jim (Bing Crosby) and Lila are members of a performing trio who plan to quit and run a country hotel. When Lila says she has fallen in love with the dancer in the act, Ted (Fred Astaire), Jim leaves town with a broken heart. After turning the inn into a holidays-only live entertainment venue, Jim winds up booking -- and falling for -- Linda (Marjorie Reynolds). But when Ted shows up at the place after being dumped by Lila, he too sets his sights on beautiful Linda.

This is a classic musical.  Everyone liked this film - the plot, costumes, songs and dancing. It was fun and enjoyed by the entire group.








Monday, December 4, 2017

Holiday Inn







Holiday Inn  (1942 DVD)  With Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire  - To be seen and discussed on           Wed. Dec. 6, 2017 at Geneseo Public Library

In this Irving Berlin musical, Jim (Bing Crosby) and Lila are members of a performing trio who plan to quit and run a country hotel. When Lila says she has fallen in love with the dancer in the act, Ted (Fred Astaire), Jim leaves town with a broken heart. After turning the inn into a holidays-only live entertainment venue, Jim winds up booking -- and falling for -- Linda (Marjorie Reynolds). But when Ted shows up at the place after being dumped by Lila, he too sets his sights on beautiful Linda

Notes from Nov 2017 group


THE GINGERBREAD COOKIES MURDER by Joanne Fluke – Discussed Wed Nov. 1, 2017, at Geneseo Public Library







When Hannah Swensen finds her neighbor Ernie Kusak with his head bashed in and sprawled on the floor of his condo next to an upended box of Hannah’s Gingerbread Cookies, she discovers a flurry of murder suspects that’s as long as her holiday shopping list. “The Dangers Of Gingerbread Cookies” is written by Laura Levine. Jaine Austen has been enlisted to help with her parents’ retirement community’s play The Gingerbread Cookie That Saved Christmas. Playboy Dr. Preston McCay is playing the role of the gingerbread cookie when he ‘accidentally’ falls to his death during the final act. Now Jaine must figure out if one of the doctor’s jealous lovers was capable of murder. “Gingerbread Cookies And Gunshots” is written by Leslie Meier. When Lucy Stone discovers the body of Rick Juergens, whose five-year-old son Nemo disappeared, she senses foul play. Crumbs from a gingerbread cookie Lucy gave to Nemo are found in the back seat of Rick’s car. With the hours quickly ticking till Christmas, Lucy races against the clock to find a killer before he strikes again.

We tried something different this month.  This book included three murder short stories by three authors.  Here are our comments:   First was by Joanne Fluke.  Our group found the recipes listed in the middle of the story distracting. Otherwise the story was ok.

Second story was by Laura Levine -   This story was laugh out loud funny despite being a murder mystery.  The characters were very interesting.  It was a murder during a Christmas program at a senior living facility in Florida.

The third story was by Leslie Meier.  This one felt like a Hallmark movie.  It was the most realistic of the three – there was a kidnapping then murder.   In all we voted that all stories were  easy to read, but the Laura Levine story was the best one and most enjoyable.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Gingerbread Cookies Murder


THE GINGERBREAD COOKIES MURDER by Joanne Fluke – To be Discussed Wed Nov. 1, 2017, at Geneseo Public Library


When Hannah Swensen finds her neighbor Ernie Kusak with his head bashed in and sprawled on the floor of his condo next to an upended box of Hannah’s Gingerbread Cookies, she discovers a flurry of murder suspects that’s as long as her holiday shopping list. “The Dangers Of Gingerbread Cookies” is written by Laura Levine. Jaine Austen has been enlisted to help with her parents’ retirement community’s play The Gingerbread Cookie That Saved Christmas. Playboy Dr. Preston McCay is playing the role of the gingerbread cookie when he ‘accidentally’ falls to his death during the final act. Now Jaine must figure out if one of the doctor’s jealous lovers was capable of murder. “Gingerbread Cookies And Gunshots” is written by Leslie Meier. When Lucy Stone discovers the body of Rick Juergens, whose five-year-old son Nemo disappeared, she senses foul play. Crumbs from a gingerbread cookie Lucy gave to Nemo are found in the back seat of Rick’s car. With the hours quickly ticking till Christmas, Lucy races against the clock to find a killer before he strikes again.

Discussion Questions:

1.    Did you like /dislike this book?  Why?



2.    Which character did you like the most and why?  The least and why?





3.     Are there any situations you can identify with?  Which one? 


4.    Did you learn something you did not know before?





5.    Did this story evoke emotions for you?



6.    Name your favorite thing about this book?



7.    What you would change in this story?

8.    Did you like the writer’s style?