Pages

Sunday, November 11, 2018

OCTOBER 2018 BOOKERS MINUTES & MUSINGS, The Rent Collector, Cameron Wright


There is one major thing that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom, and that’s language.

18 met at the home of Melba Holt to discuss this month’s selection led by Beverly Dossett. Many thanks to Melba for her hospitality and to Beverly for her insights into this novel. Most of our group read and liked the story, although a few admitted reluctances to read a book about a family living in a temporary hut inside a municipal dump in Cambodia where residents build a life from what others throw away. The setting is shortly after the decline of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970’s. The regime claimed the lives of two million people as their Marxist leader mandated the population to return to communal farms creating an agrarian utopia, killing those of intellect, some who wore glasses, and spoke a foreign language.

The Rent Collector is fiction, although the inspiration for the book came from the author’s son who produced a documentary film, “River of Victory.” Sang Ly, her husband, and their very ill infant make their home in a filthy and dangerous environment, similar to a gang dominant ghetto. Surprisingly the message throughout the novel is one of hope, determination, and redemption. Sang Ly is convinced for her son to have a chance at a better life, the key is learning to read, although it won’t heal his body, but reading will give him something to look forward to, a reason to fight, and fill him with courage. The person rising up to the task is none other than the old, crotchety, often tipsy landlord referred to as the Cow who was a college literature teacher before she was a rent collector. You might ask how this educated person ends up in the dump. You’ll have to read this well-written, poignant story to find out.

The role of literature in the novel is universal in that, to understand it, you must read it with your head, but interpret it with your heart. Literature always includes a telling lesson with words linked together with emotion and purpose. It gives us somewhere to go when we must stay where we are. Education brings us to an understanding of our place in the world… “we are literature…our lives, our hopes, our desire, our despairs, our passions, our strengths, and weaknesses.”

Those present today deserve a gold star for their insightful comments, shared stories, questions, and answers. We defined what hope means to us; talked about the role of luck in our lives; who might have been “Lucky Fat’s” benefactor; the significance of a broken clock; shelters, both literally and figuratively; the threat of change; dreams; and the significance of the reading of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Phoenix Bird.

The ones who were unable to make the meeting missed the reason Bookers is still going strong after fifteen-years.
                                                On the business side:
Our “crack” committee is still reading selections for the three slots we have yet to fill. We’ll keep you posted.
COLOR CODING SYSTEM
WHITE:         LIGHT READ
PINK:             MODERATELY CHALLENGING
RED:              CHALLENGING
November 13:  A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Published in 1989, it tells the story of two best friends growing up in a small New Hampshire town during the 1950’s and 1960’s.
                        PINK
                        Discussion Leader: Melanie Prebis                           
Home of Katherine Maxwell-McDonald
December 11:  Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva
Charming and poignant about the creation of the most famous Christmas tale ever written.
                        PINKISH WHITE
                        Discussion Leader: Rebecca Brisendine
Home of Bonnie Magee
Jan. 8, 2019:    The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Set in Alaska in 1974. The ultimate test of survival for a family in crisis.
                        RED
                        Discussion Leader: Patty Evans
Home of Daryl Daniels
February 12:   The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor
Set in 1917 England and based on a true story, two young cousins somehow convince the world that the magic exists.
                        PALE PINK
                        Discussion Leader: Daryl Daniels
                        Home of Beverly Dossett
March 12:        Stormy Weather by Paulette Jiles
Set in East Texas during the depression, a story of hardship, sacrifice, and strength.
                        PINK
                        Discussion Leader: Ann Ireland
                        Home of Mary Wensel
April 9:            Book TBD                             
Home of Jane Shaw
May 14:           Book TBD
                        Evening Wine & Cheese Meeting @ home of Jean Alexander        
Summer Read: Book TBD
“The most difficult battles in life are those we fight within.” Buddha
Happy Reading,
JoDee

SEPTEMBER 2018 BOOKERS MINUTES & MUSINGS, America's First Daughter, by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie


“Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom, and father of the University of Virginia.” He penned this message for inscription on his tombstone. Note – he omitted his service as the President of the United States.

23 Bookers reunited after our summer break at the home of Rokhshie Malone on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our country. Burned into the fabric of our lives is this day and to celebrate the birth of our nation with this month’s selection, America’s First Daughter, solidifies the resolve of our people that in the face of tragedy, grace, and dignity unites us.


Welcome new members, Jane Shaw, and Tanya Holstead to the beginning of our 15th year of Bookers. We hope you will join us again! Many thanks to Rokhshie for hosting and to Katherine Maxwell-McDonald for her thorough and informative discussion of our summer read. You’ve got a permanent job if you want it!!

The majority of Bookers read and liked the selection, as did I, but something nagged me while reading it, so I researched more. With over three thousand reviews, only 236 were critical and that is where I found the answer. The common thread among them was the story seemed soap-operaish, overwritten, and over-dramatic…like a romance novel set in colonial times. Both authors enjoy stellar credentials in background and writing accolades, but Laura Kamoie has written thirty-five erotic romance novels under the pen name Laura Kaye. Her “other life” might have added credibility to some of that criticism. 

The conventional definition of the historical fiction genre is a novel that is set fifty or more years in the past and one in which the author is writing from research rather than personal experience. It relies on the author getting inside the head, heart, and era of historical figures. Readers demand authenticity when telling the story from the character’s perspective even though our modern day values likely clash with their principles. Steeped in this story is inequality, incest, slavery, adultery, violence against both sexes, dirty politics, betrayal, forced choices, parental bonds, commitment to family and expectations, deathbed demands, fierce loyalty, and forbidden romances…all wrapped up in the birth of our nation with the contradiction of these words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.”

Katherine passed around photographs of the “main players” in the novel and pulled a nickel out of her pocket to show Thomas Jefferson’s portrait. The authors extrapolated a few items to add interest to the book. In a blog entitled, “Five lies we told in America’s First Daughter and How we got away with it,” they point out Patsy wasn’t actually at her mother’s bedside when she died; we said things happened where they didn’t happen; we made one of the Randolph sisters into a killer; made Colonel Randolph into a nasty villain; and there is no proof William Short and Patsy were romantically involved. We discussed if our opinion of one of our founding fathers changed after the revelation that Thomas and Sally Hemings were a “couple.” We talked about whether she was a willing participant in the “affair” in order to protect her interests and secure the future of “their children.” We spoke of the roles of “First Daughters” then and now; how much time the entourage spent in France while the war raged on in America; why did Patsy feel the need to protect her father – his health, his legacy, his emotional state? Presidential scandals are nothing new – from Buchanan’s Miss Nancy and Aunt Fancy to Harding’s trysts in the White House closet – but they were covered up until the Nixon era, tarnishing the office of the President. We discussed the oxymoron of the slavery issue in light of the words in the Declaration, the role of the indentured especially on a plantation in the south – they had shelter, food, clothing…with freedom what would they do? The ending troubled some, as it seemed impossible for Patsy to promise her abusive/alcoholic husband, she would never marry again…she did grow to love him and fathered their twelve children…but still.

The authors visited both the Randolph’s Tuckahoe and Jefferson’s Monticello digesting the stark differences in the plantations as evidenced in their descriptions. Tuckahoe had a dark, heavy, sad, troubled feeling in the d├ęcor of the main house and more telling was the cemetery –   laying within a totally enclosed brick wall – no gate or door and not a single grave marked with a headstone. Monticello on the other hand sits atop a mountain, one with nature, with a fifty-mile view of the countryside. The presence of slavery is evident on both plantations, and on one tour a guide was asked by a nine-year old African-American boy, what his life would have been like to be a slave at Monticello, prompting a young white boy of the same age to ask how a man like Jefferson could have written, “all men are created equal.” This is a positive sign of the awareness of our younger generation and points to the commonality we all wrestle with – the discrepancies of our nation’s founding.
On the business side:
Thanks to the quick response to our email requesting host homes for our meeting. Note the October meeting has been changed to Melba Holt’s home. And, without threats or violence, you have enthusiastically waved your hands in the air to volunteer to be a “discussion leader.” All joking aside, my heart is full with appreciation.

There are 86,400 seconds in every day and I’d like to use a few of them to express my appreciation to our 2018-2019 Bookers’ Book Selection committee, Pat Faherty, Melanie Prebis, and Katherine Maxwell-McDonald for their willingness to take on this project. I personally know how much time is involved in this and I hope none of them required a visit to the ophthalmologist in order to narrow the list to the choices listed below. Because of their diligence, Bookers will begin the year with a fresh approach and all of us are eternally grateful for their commitment. It’s important to remember we all have our reading preferences…not all books fall into the our cup of tea, but these were selected with the group in mind. Bookers’ is all about the books and we hope for some lively but respectful conversations.

Member Joanne Bara passed along a new book some might be interested in by noted historian and political biographer, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Leadership: In Turbulent Times – how Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, and LBJ found “their footing” on the job.

COLOR CODING SYSTEM
WHITE:         LIGHT READ
PINK:             MODERATELY CHALLENGING
RED:              CHALLENGING
October 2:       The Rent Collector by Cameron Wright
A young mother struggles to survive by picking through garbage in Cambodia’s largest municipal dump.
                        PINKISH RED
                        Discussion Leader: Beverly Dossett
Home of Melba Holt
November 13:  A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Published in 1989, it tells the story of two best friends growing up in a small New Hampshire town during the 1950’s and 1960’s.
                        PINK
                        Discussion Leader: Melanie Prebis                           
Home of Katherine Maxwell-McDonald
December 11:  Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva
Charming and poignant about the creation of the most famous Christmas tale ever written.
                        PINKISH WHITE
                        Discussion Leader: Rebecca Brisendine
Home of Bonnie Magee
Jan. 8, 2019:    The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Set in Alaska in 1974. The ultimate test of survival for a family in crisis.
                        RED
                        Discussion Leader: Patty Evans
Home of Daryl Daniels
February 12:   The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor
Set in 1917 England and based on a true story, two young cousins somehow convince the world that the magic exists.
                        PALE PINK
                        Discussion Leader: Daryl Daniels
                        Home of Beverly Dossett
March 12:        Stormy Weather by Paulette Jiles
Set in East Texas during the depression, a story of hardship, sacrifice, and strength.
                        PINK
                        Discussion Leader: Ann Ireland
                        Home of Mary Wensel
April 9:            Book TBD
                        Discussion Leader:
Home of Jane Shaw
May 14:           Book TBD
                        Evening Wine & Cheese Meeting @ home of Jean Alexander        
Summer Read: Book TBD
John Adams once said, “1 useless man is a shame; 2 is a law firm, and 3 or more is a congress.”
Happy Reading
JoDee

Saturday, May 19, 2018

MAY 2018 BOOKERS MINUTES & MUSINGS, To Everything a Season by Sherri Schaeffer


“When I read, I’m not alone. Books help me see things differently, experience the world through someone else’s eyes.”

18 Bookers descended on the home of Donna Walter for our evening “wine and cheese” meeting in celebration of the conclusion of our 14th year of Bookers. To say it has been an interesting year would be an understatement. Endings begin again in a new way, as every exit line is an entry so our 15th year will start anew with a revamped formula for selecting books. Pat Faherty volunteered to head up the Bookers’ Book Selection Committee, which will read the recommendations submitted by our members and select a book for each month of the 2018-2019 year. Our September book will be our summer read as indicated below and Melanie Prebis has volunteered to review A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving for a month to be determined, so the committee will select 8 books and present the slate to our members at the September meeting. We sincerely hope this method proves successful. Going forward, please keep in mind we will be asking for reviewers (Jean Alexander and Chris Batt have already spoken up) and host homes (Lee McFarlane has offered) for the upcoming year.

Many thanks to Bonnie Magee for coordinating our food again and to everyone who provided our delicious evening fare for the end-of-the-year party, to Beverly Dossett for her insight into To Everything a Season, and to all who joined in the lively discussion of this novel. On a personal note, I was very touched by my card filled with love and the beautiful flowers…sincerely a two-tissue event for me.

Beverly settled the group by playing “For Good” from the Broadway musical, “Wicked,” which speaks to lasting friendships. The novel takes you to Old Order Amish country, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The detail in which the author describes the everyday life and struggles of this community gives the reader a view of their strengths and weaknesses. When the modern world and the Amish world collide one June night on a dark country road, questions arise, decisions must be made, and the characters in both worlds must exam their priorities. The author, living in Philadelphia, treats us to a tour of the best of that city as well. To Everything a Season is well researched and at the end, the reader can write his or her own version of how it all turns out. 

We discussed if we are more than what we do for a living or what we are born into…what price is too steep to pay to walk away from family expectations; the impact the crash had on the characters, and the significance of the “tour of religions.” Also, what brought the Amish adolescents back into the fold after experiencing Rumspringa (their rite of passage) and how the title, possibly taken from Ecclesiastes, identifies the universal theme of the novel – there is a time to every purpose under heaven. “If only life was as simple as pixie dust.”

                               COLOR CODING SYSTEM
                               WHITE:          LIGHT READ
                               PINK:             MODERATELY CHALLENGING
                               RED:              CHALLENGING

September 11              America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie
                                    Home: Rokhshie Malone
                                    Reviewer: Katherine Maxwell-McDonald

                             Have a wonderful summer relaxing and reading

You are all like “hand prints on my heart and now whatever way our stories end I know you have rewritten mine by being my friend.”


JoDee

APRIL 2018 BOOKERS MINUTES & MUSINGS, The Uncertain Season by Ann Howard Creel


     “Paint with the purest and truest colors.”
16 Bookers took a short road trip to the home of Sandy Molander for this month’s meeting to discuss this novel set in Galveston in the aftermath of the 1900 hurricane that killed between six and ten-thousand people. Four-thousand were burned on the beach, the others buried where they were found, “so they’re under every block…when roadwork is done it’s common to find a femur or something else” to verify the tragedy.  There is a storm of betrayal brewing as the novel follows the lives of three women, one living a privileged life, her disgraced and flamboyant cousin, and an unnamed girl living on the streets. The book is a testament to how a few words can tilt your world in another direction.

Many of us just returned from our PWC overnight trip to Galveston so the selection was a timely addition. The majority read the novel, half liked it…of those who were not fans, a few were more vocal than others were. The book highlighted how difficult the Victorian era was for women, introduced class, and prejudice, painted Galveston with such vividness you could almost feel the oppressive summer heat, and offered a variety of characters to carry the story line.

                                  On the business side
Looking forward, please email me three books you would like to recommend for next year. A committee of three Bookers will evaluate the choices and present them to us at our September meeting.   
                                  COLOR CODING SYSTEM
                                 WHITE:          LIGHT READ
                                 PINK:             MODERATELY CHALLENGING
                                 RED:              CHALLENGING

May 15                                  
                                                Wine & Cheese Evening Meeting, 6:00 p.m.
To Everything A Season by Sherri Schaeffer
                                                Home of Donna Walter
                                                Reviewer: Beverly Dossett 

Summer Read:                      America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie

“Sometimes you have to sit in the skin you built for yourself.”

JoDee

Sunday, March 18, 2018

MARCH 2018 BOOKERS MINUTES & MUSINGS, The Rainwater Secret by Monica Shaw

Ten men are carrying a log. Nine are on the small end. One is on the heavy end. You want to help…which end will you lift.

20 Bookers welcomed Dallas author, Monica Shaw, to the home of Melanie Prebis to discuss this month’s selection, The Rainwater Secret, seven years in the making. Many thanks to Bonnie Magee our food czar for organizing lunch for our guest, and to everyone who contributed to the yummy spread. Not only can Bookers read but evidently, we can cook too!

As you know, the magic of Facebook can connect us all to each other, which is where I came across Monica’s historical novel last summer. After both MN and I read it, we agreed it was a fascinating story. Monica and I connected through social media and she graciously accepted our offer to address Bookers today. We finally met in person in November at the Texas Book Festival in Austin. Monica donates a portion of her sales to the Medical Missionaries of Mary, so she also fits right in with our Pinnacle Women’s Club philanthropic principles.

Books introduce us to people you want to either invite to dinner or ban from the house…some test our conscience and challenge our trust in human nature and most transport us to worlds we may have already discovered, others we hope to visit, but all offer a slice of life we most likely haven’t encountered.

We began our 14th year of Bookers leaving our home state of Texas to visit Oregon, California, Hawaii, Vegas, Georgia, and Alabama, then took flight to a small hockey town in Sweden. We moved on to a shanty boat on the Mississippi River; spent some time in England with goats and sheep and in Italy during the German occupation. Last month we visited an elephant sanctuary in Thailand and the rest of the year, we will be in Galveston during the 1900 hurricane, in Amish country in Pennsylvania, and in the inner circle of the third President of the United States…but not before our guest author takes us from Maghull, England in 1946 to Nigeria.

Anna Goodwill, a twenty-nine year old school teacher by trade not tied to either solemn or simple vows of the Catholic Church joined the Medical Missionaries of Mary, a religious institute of the Church dedicated to providing health care to the underdeveloped regions of the world. With her mother and father dead and her hopes for marriage and children dashed, she volunteered to teach leper children in Africa. Her story is one of resiliency and deep faith in humanity, possessing the moral fiber to place the needs of others in front of her own. Anna witnessed deep love and unbearable loss but the plight of leprosy resulted in her own salvation. She was an angel of hope for the children and adults…her reward “a giant smile” was payment for services rendered.

Monica’s journey began while reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows as her great aunt Lily Murphey (Anna Goodwill in the book) kept popping into her head as though she was putting Monica on the path to write her story. Monica detailed her research efforts and travels, showing us a slideshow of actual footage from the area in Nigeria that the Medical Missionaries of Mary and Anna lived and worked. Letters played a significant role in the story development…the lost art of letter writing replaced in today’s world by anything electronic and fast. Ninety percent of the novel is factual, the other ten, literary license for character development and plot. She also shared with us the agony of “editing,” cover design, and stories of the real-life characters depicted in the novel. We talked about the stigmatism attached to leprosy and the different beliefs about the origins of the disease…some believing it is highly contagious, others thinking it is hereditary, while some latch onto the idea that it is heaven’s punishment to negative people. In 1999, the World Health Organization delisted Nigeria from the list of high endemic nations with leprosy. Recent reports indicate the country has relapsed prompting the minister of their federal government to launch a five-year program to end in 2020 calling on the media and civil society to propagate the message that it is curable and treatment is free.

For more information and stories, please visit Monica’s website: http://www.therainwatersecret.com. She hopes to experience life in the same area that her great aunt Lily devoted her life to, and follow up this debut with her own story. Stay tuned!

On the business side
The Memorial golf tournament honoring Jane Freer, Chuck Turner, and Carla Malin will be held on March 17th. Since Bookers’ has yet to “dedicate” Jane’s brick in her beloved Memory Garden, we thought an appropriate time would be following the tournament. We will gather behind the putting green around 2:00 or 2:30 to pay our respects. Please bring a memory, a prayer, a funny story…anything to share in honor of our friend and fellow Booker.

Beverly Dossett reports that Chris Cleave (Little Bee) is writing a sequel to Everyone Brave Is Forgiven. We anxiously await its publication.
                             COLOR CODING SYSTEM
                             WHITE:          LIGHT READ
                              PINK:             MODERATELY CHALLENGING
                              RED:              CHALLENGING

April 10                                  The Uncertain Season by Texas author Ann Howard Creel
Follows the lives of three women in the aftermath of the 1900 hurricane that devastated Galveston…one living a privileged life, her disgraced and flamboyant cousin, and an unnamed girl living on the streets.
                                                Home of Sandy Molander
                                                Reviewer: TBD

May 15                                   Change of date due to travel plans
To Everything A Season – Sherri Schaeffer, a debut set in Amish country in Lancaster Pennsylvania where two worlds collide forcing them together.
                                                Home of Donna Walter
                                                Reviewer: TBD

Summer Read:                      America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie
Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha, “Patsy” becomes the keeper of the secrets and her father’s confidant after her mother’s death and his appointment as the American Minister to France.

Missionaries bind up broken hearts, dry tears, and set families free…we can follow their lead by focusing on what it takes to live with such generosity toward others.

Happy Reading,

JoDee

Thursday, February 15, 2018

FEBRUARY 2018 BOOKERS MINUTES & MUSINGS, The Mourning Parade by Dawn Reno Langley

“Friendship is unnecessary like philosophy, like art…It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” (Is C.S. Lewis a member of the Pinnacle community?)

19 Bookers entered the majestic Kingdom of Thailand, the world’s fiftieth largest country with its lush jungles and serene beaches, and a population of sixty-nine million people, at the home of Bonnie Magee for this month’s meeting. Many thanks to Rosemary Farmer for co-hosting and to Rokhshie Malone for providing the yummy treats. Our in-house thespian and newlywed on Valentine’s Day 65 years ago, Bernie Crudden, thanked everyone for their wonderful contributions to her “Screenplay of Wellness” offered by Bookers to help alleviate her anxiety in the face of the frightening surgery she underwent last month. She reports they are slowly weening her off the pain medications…so far so good…no pain. Also, thanks to Barbara Creach for designing the covers for this project!

Our reviewer and tour guide, Jean Alexander, recalled memories of three trips to this remarkable country, in particular the unique family excursion in 2015 when ten “Alexanders” went to an elephant sanctuary in northern Thailand, each assigned their own floppy-eared pachyderm. Elephants have voracious appetites, eating sixteen to eighteen hours a day. The group learned how to tell if they were healthy, if they slept well, and were getting proper nutrition. Despite their enormous size, they are generally docile and almost humanlike in nature but in order to ride an elephant, it’s necessary to scale up their legs to grab onto their necks or be flung up by their trunk. Jean shared their photo album of their time with the elephants in the river. It was hard to tell who was having more fun.

The novel unfolds as single mom and veterinarian, Natalie DeAngelo, experiencing irreconcilable grief after her two sons were killed in a school shooting, picks up stakes to volunteer in an elephant sanctuary in northern Thailand. In this exotic location meant to heal there are challenges, none more vivid than her own PTSD, coupled by the sanctuary’s in-house vet who holds a long-time grudge against her, and a female elephant suffering the same debilitating disease as Natalie’s…Sophie’s caused by human abuse. Natalie and Sophie, one human, one animal cut from the same cloth, both “raging inside against some horrible agony…overwhelmed by sadness and pain.” Sophie is confined to a smaller area offering security much like baby swaddling or a thunder shirt on a dog, while Natalie too is confined in a smaller place – hers in the middle of the jungle away from the glare of tragedy. The parallel between Natalie and Sophie tells the tale of survivor guilt and grief as they both struggle to find a way to heal and learn to trust again. The novel is deeply emotional exploring the capacity of a mother’s love and the long journey of repossessing their lives.

In typical fashion, Jean took off her shoes, attached a blonde braid to her hair, stripped down to shorts and a tee shirt to become Natalie asking us to close our eyes to feel the pain in the words used in a conversation between Natalie and her mother. “The pain of losing a child never abates….it’s indescribable…sometimes the grief is like a freight train without brakes…even you cannot possibly understand the impossible agony of putting one foot in front of the other…there’s nothing more difficult…than just living.”

The majority of our group felt this selection was a Bookers’ cup of tea – backflips – from the “management.” Our conversation centered on gun violence and whether our schools are safe, the emphasis of structure and religion in our lives, the recognition and importance of treatment for depression, the virtual reality of violent video games and how they foster a feeling of invincibility without consequences. We discussed how “animals make us more human” and the study of animal behavior mirroring the concepts of belonging. We talked about the Buddhist religion and rituals, their traditions and values. We may have wondered why Natalie seemed to focus more on one son over the other, but not enough to set off any flares with what really happened at the school. Also, Peter’s transformation into a more tolerable human being proved that you don’t know what someone is going through until you walk in their shoes. We discussed the viability of animals showing profound grief even in the wild, especially elephants. One study highlights how young elephants seeing their mothers being killed often wake up screaming and in another, a news report how they show compassion to nonrelatives as an elephant in Kenya  trampled a human mother and her child, but stopped to bury them before disappearing in the brush.

And, of course, the eventual demise of Sophie tore at our heartstrings, especially with the title of the book coming to life with the elephants “mourning parade.” They came to her one by one using their trunks to smell her, lifting their foots to touch her body, running their trunks along her backbone, but also reaching out to Natalie inside their circle, offering her the same comfort, then walking to the river in silence. Tissues please! 

We talked about the wonderful quotes at the beginning of the chapters, the author’s use of these are called organizing principles…letting the reader know what the chapter is about. Ms. Langley did a superb job of collecting some memorable sayings…words to live by in our ordinary lives. We are reminded the dead are constantly remembered by those who mourn…the goal is not to be the first one across the finish line…empty words without thoughts indicates no remorse…when elephants fight the grass suffers, meaning when the large fight, it is the small who suffer most…one touch of nature makes the whole world kin meaning that human emotion has the effect of bringing people closer together…don’t let your fire go out…keep your dream alive…mortals are unable to keep secrets because deep down, we do not want to…life will break you…you have to love, you have to feel.

And, an overwhelming favorite from Buddha, “Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it.” Natalie survived and moved forward by focusing on the plight of others and not her own pain. The elephants, especially Sophie, gave her a new direction…a way to put one foot in front of the other.
                                                      On the Business Side
We are hoping for a great turnout for our March 13 meeting, as the author of The Rainwater Secret, Monica Shaw, will be our guest. I’ll provide an overview of the book and she will offer a slideshow presentation along with questions & answers. Books will be available for purchase for $15.00, cash, check, or credit card. Since Monica is driving in from Dallas, we wanted to have a light luncheon for her and our food czar Bonnie Magee, is once again coordinating this for us. We’ll have an array of salads, casseroles, desserts, and deviled eggs and if you have volunteered to bring something, please email Bonnie at bonniemagee@embarqmail.com. I will be asking for a head count so please RSVP to me by March 6 at mickjo16tee@aol.com so we can coordinate the amount of food needed.

Books in Bloom luncheon will be held April 13, 2018 again at the Methodist Church in Athens. As you remember, this is the major fundraiser for the Henderson County Clint W. Murchison library. The speaker is Jeff Abbott, touted as one of the best thriller writers in the business. He’s from Austin and will be discussing his latest, Blame. Tickets are $50.00 per person, $400.00 for a table of 8. Bookers has one table full (Pat Faherty, Melanie Prebis, Rokhshie Malone, Beverly Dossett, Rebecca Brisendine, Patty Evans, Barbara Creach, and yours truly.) If you are interested in attending, please let me know and we’ll make that happen as well.
                           COLOR CODING SYSTEM
                           WHITE:          LIGHT READ
                           PINK:             MODERATELY CHALLENGING
                           RED:              CHALLENGING
March 13                                The Rainwater Secret by Monica Shaw
Debut historical fiction by Dallas author based on the life of her great aunt, a missionary woman in Africa teaching leper children.
                                                PINK                                     
Home of Patty Evans
We are excited to announce the author will be joining us for the meeting
April 10                                  The Uncertain Season by Texas author Ann Howard Creel
Follows the lives of three women in the aftermath of the 1900 hurricane that devastated Galveston…one living a privileged life, her disgraced and flamboyant cousin, and an unnamed girl living on the streets.
                                                Home of Sandy Molander
                                                Reviewer: TBD
May 15                                   Change of date due to travel plans
To Everything A Season – Sherri Schaeffer, a debut set in Amish country in Lancaster Pennsylvania where two worlds collide forcing them together.
                                                Home of Donna Walter
                                                Reviewer: TBD
Summer Read:                      America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie
Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha, “Patsy” becomes the keeper of the secrets and her father’s confidant after her mother’s death and his appointment as the American Minister to France.

“To learn about yourself you need to study how others respond to you…people can only make you feel the way you give them permission to.”

Happy Reading,

JoDee