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Ashe County Reading Challenge Book Club Guide: August 2023 Meeting Notes

August 2023


RCBC August 2023 Meeting Notes

Books Discussed (Click on the titles below to link to our Cardinal website.)

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

  • A story of a Vietnam POW and his family learning to survive trauma and abuse within the Alaskan wilderness. The story’s power comes from its authenticity to portray the struggle of postwar veterans in acclimating to a newly perceived world relationship which extends beyond, and entwines with, immediate family interactions. The book was inspired by Alaskan culture and portrays a pioneering spirit in the face of adverse and new settings. Trigger warning: domestic abuse.

Every Cloak Rolled in Blood by James T. Burke  

  • Trigger warning: Violence. The latest book in the Holland Family Universe series. From Amazon:

“Novelist Aaron Holland Broussard is shattered when his daughter Fannie Mae dies suddenly. As he tries to honor her memory by saving two young men from a life of crime amid their opioid-ravaged community, he is drawn into a network of villainy that includes a violent former Klansman, a far-from-holy minister, a biker club posing as evangelicals, and a murderer who has been hiding in plain sight.”  

  • What’s interesting about this book is the author, James T. Burke, recently suffered the loss of his own daughter. The book is therefore somewhat autobiographical and honestly portrays intimate grief through the lens of experiential loss. There are Native American characters in the book along with a supernatural element. Be advised that this may not be the best book to start with if you are interested in beginning the series. Book Series in Order has a chronological listing.  

Adolfo Kaminsky: A Forger’s Life by Sarah Kaminsky  

  • This book helped inspire and inform Kristin Harmel’s book, The Book of Lost Names. The book is the true story of a forger who worked with the French Resistance to help secure Jewish freedom, especially for children, by beautifully forging travel documents during the Nazi occupation of Paris. His knowledge of dyes and photography helped him to move beyond the borders of France to help with many freedom movements across the globe. The author kept his secrets until, in his eighties, he recounted his experiences to his daughter, Sarah. An amazing man who sacrificed personal safety for the greater good.

A Good Place to Hide by Peter Grose

  • Another novel recommended by Kristin Harmel. The story of a small community in France that worked together to save the lives of thousands of Jews living under German-occupied France. A beautiful story of human compassion.

The Witches by Stacy Schiff

  • A Pulitzer Prize-winning author pens a nonfiction account of the Salem Witch Trials. Beautifully written, the author places the reader in an empathetic position to imagine the terror and entrapment faced by many women during the hysteria of 1692. Not a flattering framing of human behavior, yet an essential look into the past to hopefully help us avoid mistakes in the future. NC Cardinal describes this book as “psychologically thrilling”.

Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker

  • The first book in the Bruno, Chief of Police series. Bruno is a wonderful character solving crime in a small village in the South of France. Bruno’s life as an orphaned boy and military veteran shades his exploits in crime fighting. The writing is engaging and the characters are likable. All books in the series are available through NC Cardinal, if you want to get started! If you like this series, check out the Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters.

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

  • Start taking dryadology seriously, folks! Emily Wilde travels to a small village to study all things fae and unexpectedly finds love and friendship along the way, despite being not-so-great with humans. Throw in a little bit of magic and you’ve got yourself a fun adventure to read. This will be the first in a series, so if you like it there’s more to come…

Cabins in the Laurel by Muriel Sheppard

  • From The University of North Carolina Press:  “In 1928 New York native Muriel Earley Sheppard moved with her mining engineer husband to the Toe River Valley—an isolated pocket in North Carolina between the Blue Ridge and Iron Mountains. Sheppard began visiting her neighbors and forming friendships in remote coves and rocky clearings, and in 1935 her account of life in the mountains—Cabins in the Laurel—was published. The book included 128 striking photographs by the well-known Chapel Hill photographer, Bayard Wootten, a frequent visitor to the area.” It’s about “us”, folks.

Middlemarch by George Eliot

  • Considered by some in the group to be the next best cure for insomnia since Ambien! This book is hefty and the character list is long. The classic is recognized as having four main plots and deals with women, gender, money, ambition, disappointment, reform, etc. The book is also available through the Libby App, if you prefer digital.  

Dust Child by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai  

  • This book weaves the tale of three characters intersecting into one. The setting is after the Vietnam War. Amazon describes it as: “…a richly poetic and suspenseful saga about two Vietnamese sisters, an American veteran, and an Amerasian man whose lives intersect in surprising ways, set during and after the war in Việt Nam.” The author is known for not shying away from complicated subject matters brought forth by the savages of war.

Fresh Water for Flowers by Valerie Perrin 

  • Imagine a pink kimono in a graveyard! That’s what this book throws at you. Meet a lovable female French cemetery custodian who finds ultimate peace and happiness in a graveyard of all places. Read as she discovers how her life intertwines with a local police chief. 
  •  Apparently, this book was a number one hit in many countries across the pond throughout the pandemic. Funny, moving, and triumphant.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab  

  • When you make a deal with the devil, you get yourself in trouble. Currently the most talked about book in two book clubs at ACPL. Heart-wrenching, magical, and beautifully written. Read it!

What a Dog Knows by Susan Wilson

  • A dog and a psychic go on an adventure…are you hooked yet? What about if the psychic can read dogs’ thoughts?  Yep, bet you’ll read it now. Another heart warmer, folks!

The Adventures of Molly Whuppie and other Appalachian Folktales by Anne Shelby

  • A fun book to read with the grandkids! The author takes some creative license with the folk tales, but overall a fun, and possibly familiar read for Ashe County natives.

Last One Home by Debbie Macomber

  • The tales of three sisters growing up, growing apart, and coming home to each other once again. A heartwarming tale of healing and familial love.

Kabbalah Inspirations by Jeremy Rosen

  • This book traces the mysticism of Kabbalah and outlines its most profound and predominant themes. The book pays respect to an ancient religion while satisfying general curiosity.

Starting Fresh by Jill Dahan

  • A recipe book. A cookbook designed to help you start eating fresh and living a healthier lifestyle today!