Friday

June 2018 Book Club Choice

The Rules of Magic was the June book choice, here is brief review from the NY Times

   Hoffman’s latest offering, “The Rules of Magic,” is likely to attract particular attention because it’s a prequel to her 1995 novel, “Practical Magic,” perhaps the best-known work of her career and the basis for the 1998 film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as the sisters Sally and Gillian Owens, born into a Massachusetts family whose founding matriarch escaped Salem’s gallows by magicking herself out of her noose. 
  Hoffman has now returned to fill out their portraits, providing a back story that thoroughly upends what we thought we knew about them. The Owens sisters had a baby brother! The only male Owens in centuries was the third child of Susanna, an Owens who skedaddled out of Massachusetts as soon as she could, desperate to remove herself from the stigma clinging to her family name.

   It’s tough to top a dead body in a car, the event that drove the plot in “Practical Magic,” and Hoffman doesn’t try. Instead she goes for historical sweep, setting the Owens siblings’ saga against the backdrop of real events like the Vietnam War, San Francisco’s Summer of Love and the Stonewall riots. But this is a novel that begins with the words, “Once upon a time,” and its strength is a Hoffman hallmark: the commingling of fairy-tale promise with real-life struggle. The Owens children can’t escape who they are. Like the rest of us, they have to figure out the best way to put their powers to use.

Monday

May 2018 Book Selection

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng was the May Beehive book choice. Here is a brief selection of what NY Times book reviewer Eleanor Henderson thought of this novel (2017) 


"Readers of Celeste Ng’s second novel, “Little Fires Everywhere,” will recognize a few elements from her acclaimed debut, “Everything I Never Told You.” There are the simmering racial tensions and incendiary family dynamics beneath the surface of a quiet Ohio town. There are the appeal and impossibility of assimilation, the all-consuming force of motherhood and the secret lives of teenagers and their parents, each unknowable to the other.

Image result for little fires everywhereAnd there’s a familiar frame, too: At each novel’s opening, we know at least part of the tragedy that will befall the characters — the mystery lies in figuring out how they got there. In “Little Fires Everywhere,” we begin not with a death but a house fire, and new questions: Who set it, and why?

The house belongs to Elena and Bill Richardson, a wealthy white couple who epitomize success in picture-perfect, late-’90s Shaker Heights, and their four teenage children, including girl-next-door Lexie and the troubled prankster Izzy, who is suspected of arson. 

It’s Mia and Pearl’s arrival in town 11 months earlier that ignites the story. Mia is an alluring Hester Prynne, a misfit nomad whose scarlet A might stand for Artist. She and Pearl have traveled the country in their VW Rabbit with little more than Mia’s camera, living in dozens of towns before settling in Shaker Heights, where Mia promises her daughter they will stay.

The magic of this novel lies in its power to implicate all of its characters — and likely many of its readers — in that innocent delusion. Who set the little fires everywhere? We keep reading to find out, even as we suspect that it could be us with ash on our hands." 

the Beehive Book Group Dinner was hosted by: 

April 2018 Book Choice

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead was the April beehive book choice. This rich, complex, magical realism approach to American History was fresh and heartbreaking. Here is brief selection of what NY Times book review Juan Gabriel Vasquez had to say/write in Aug 2016.

Image result for underground railroad novel"Colson Whitehead’s novels are rebellious creatures: Each one of them goes to great lengths to break free of the last one, of its structure and language, of its areas of interest. At the same time, they all have one thing in common — the will to work within a recognizable tract of popular culture, taking advantage of conventions while subverting them for the novel’s own purposes. “The Intuitionist,” with its dystopian concerns and futuristic mood, gave way to the folkloric past of “John Henry Days”; “Zone One,” Whitehead’s contribution to the unquenchable American thirst for zombies, was his departure from “Sag Harbor,” with its coming-of-age feeling and concessions to nostalgia. His new novel, “The Underground Railroad,” is as different as can be from the zombie book. It touches on the historical novel and the slave story, but what it does with those genres is striking and imaginative. Like its predecessors, it is carefully built and stunningly daring; it is also, both in expected and unexpected ways, dense, substantial and important.

The central conceit of the novel is as simple as it is bold. The underground railroad is not, in Whitehead’s novel, the secret network of passageways and safe houses used by runaway slaves to reach the free North from their slaveholding states. Or rather it is that, but it is something else, too: You open a trap door in the safe house or find the entrance to a hidden cave, and you reach an actual railroad, with actual locomotives and boxcars and conductors, sometimes complete with benches on the platform. “Two steel rails ran the visible length of the tunnel,” Whitehead writes, “pinned into the dirt by wooden crossties. The steel ran south and north presumably, springing from some inconceivable source and shooting toward a miraculous terminus.” The trains pass at unpredictable times and go to unpredictable places, but that is obviously good enough for those wanting to flee the misery and violence of slavery: its sheer inhumanity, a word that in Whitehead’s unflinching explorations seems to fill up with new meanings." 

February/March 2018 Book Choice

Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan was the selection for February/March. Here is a brief overview by Erika Swyler/ Washington Independent Review 2017


Image result for keeper of lost things"Ruth Hogan’s debut novel, The Keeper of Lost Things, asks readers to imagine a world in which the “lost things” are, in fact, people. The book’s message is that with great care and assistance, all might eventually find their place. It’s a charming notion and one which Hogan tackles gamely, if not always believably.
The author approaches the story as a dual narrative spanning 40 years. In the modern day, the novel centers around Anthony, an aging man who has spent his life collecting lost things and mourning his long-deceased fiancée; and Laura, his secretary-turned-housekeeper, a middle-aged woman recovering from a bad divorce. In the 1970s, we follow Eunice, secretary and lifelong best friend of affable publisher Bomber, who can never return her romantic interest.
Anthony bequeaths to Laura all his worldly possessions and his aptly named mansion, Padua, with one directive: that she continue his work of collecting discarded objects and do her best to return those items to their original owners. What follows is Laura’s journey through grief over Anthony and her failed marriage to a place of self-discovery." 

The Book Group dinner party was hosted by: 

January 2018 Book selection and gathering

The New Year starts with a Horror Novel Slade House by David Mitchell here is the NPR book reviewer Jason Sheehan/2015 :

"This is Slade House, the newest novel from David Mitchell — who wrote the beautifully twisty Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks. He's a stylist, a seemingly effortless imaginer of weirded-up nonsense and navigator extraordinaire of the multiple POV school of plots and schemery. As a matter of fact, "beautifully twisty" is pretty much Mitchell's trademark these days. And Slade House does nothing to tarnish his rep.

It's a horror novel. A ghost story. A haunted house book through and through (which is something you just don't see that much anymore), that covers the years 1979 to 2015 with check-ins every nine years and a different main character with each revolution.

Image result for slade house bookWhy nine years? Because every nine years the Ghosty McGuffin's Magical Nonsense Generator operating in the spooky house's attic must be recharged with fresh soul energy. Because every nine years a new "engifted" person must be lured through the magical doorway to Slade House (which, also, only appears every nine years because MAGIC!) to be tricked, drugged and devoured by the creepy, bickering, wise-ass twins who "live" there in order to keep them immortal for another almost-decade.

The story is told through the repeating mechanic of a dozen-some disappearances over 36 years. That reporter mentioned up top? She's trying to find her sister — who disappeared nine years before her own fateful night in that pub near Slade Alley and Slade House — and she spends forty-odd pages making (internal) fun of the crazy old man telling her stories about astral projection and immortal vampires.

The less you know about that going in the better, because all the joy in Slade House is in the discovery. It's in seeing different people make the same mistakes over and over again — in seeing the same story play out, the same weaknesses be preyed upon, the same arrogance of the twins who have been doing this for decades. It's in thinking that you'd be smarter, of course. That you'd see through all this B-movie schlock (like creepy portraits, sad ghosts and stairways that go nowhere), find the secret door, and escape." 

Dinner was hosted by: