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

July 2023


RCBC July 2023 Meeting Notes


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

American Sirens by Kevin Hazzard 

  • The true story of the Freedom House EMS in Pittsburgh, PA, a group of black men who became the country’s first paramedics. Unjustly erased from the pages of history, this book sheds light on the team that forged a path for emergency medicine around the world and touches on the racism and political intrigue they navigated while trying to save lives. This book was featured on NPR’s Fresh Air Podcast.  

The Vision by Dean Koontz 

  • A thrilling, terrifying story of a clairvoyant who uses her skills to help the police track a serial killer. Is he coming for her?!?!

Skinny Dip by Carl Hiassen 

  • A homicidal marine biologist has the tables turned when the intended victim, his wife, teams up with a lone cop to terrorize him. Hilariously thrilling, this is the fifth book in the Skink series by Charles Hiassen. You can find the books listed in order here.

Dancing with Max by Emily and Charles Colson

  • A true narrative, told by former White House Special Counsel Chuck Colson’s daughter, about suddenly being a single mom raising a son on the spectrum. With frank truth and honesty, Emily shares her story in vivid detail to help heal and celebrate herself and others.

I’ve Always Looked up to Giraffes by Hugh Goldthourpe and Bill Gravitt

  • Not about giraffes!! Two businessmen who share anecdotes and advice on how to start a business that stands head and shoulders above the rest. An uplifting book that sheds a positive light on industry in part due to the positive outlook of the authors. Enjoyed thoroughly by one book club participant, even though it wasn’t about giraffes!😆 Here’s what Google Books has to say: 

“What do giraffes have to do with business? They stand tall, head and shoulders above everyone else, so they can see things others can't. They have excellent vision (they can see a man from a mile away!). They can reach things others can't. They have soft compassionate eyes—good leaders communicate a sense of really understanding those that they lead. In Africa the giraffe is a symbol of friendship. Though giraffes may have nine different patterns on their bodies they make no distinction among themselves—everyone is treated equally. Great leaders treat everyone with compassion and respect. What you'll find in this book is a collection of wonderful anecdotes, brilliantly illustrated that touch on many aspects of great leadership.”

Delusion in Death by J.D. Robb

  • Perfect for those looking for a book for the author using a pseudonym category as J.D. Robb is also known as Nora Roberts! The 35th book in the thrilling mystery/suspense series In Death. The book follows detective Eve Dallas as she unravels the mystery behind a lethal, chemically induced public assault that induces a mass paranoid frenzy at a bar, owned by her husband nonetheless, which ends up killing 80 people. This book has a 4.34 star rating on Goodreads!

Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce

  • Winner of the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize
  • This book tells the tale of an overseas adventure between two unlikely travel companions in search of an elusive insect off the coast of France. The two British women, undaunted and attracting trouble like moths to light, learn to value the experience of life, as well as the strong bond of friendship that time spent in close companionship cultivates. A lovely book with a lovely spirit.

I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai

  • A true-crime podcaster, Bodie Kane, finds herself inextricably linked to a former case that involved the murder of her boarding school roommate. Although the school’s black athletic trainer was convicted of the crime, Bodie, despite wanting desperately to distance herself from painful memories, cannot run from the feeling that she “knows something” that might overturn the verdict and expose the true killer. She worries that she may be complicit and/or a victim of gaslighting by the communal narrative at the time. This book has an expert way of candidly putting words to difficult discussions surrounding racism and gender disparity. Reminiscent of Donna Tartt, and one of TIME and NPR’s most anticipated books of 2023. Of note, Makkai was a former Pulitzer finalist for her book The Great Believers.

The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese 

  • An Oprah’s Book Club pick. An epic novel dealing with love, faith, medicine, and three generations of family suffering from a strange curse in Kerala, India. In each generation, one person in this Christian Indian family will drown. Unfortunately, in Kerala, water is everywhere so paranoia blooms. The book focuses in particular on the matriarch of the family, Big Ammachi, and her journey through years filled with triumph and tragedy. The novel has been described as “a hymn to progress in medicine and human understanding and a shimmering evocation of a bygone India.” A must read, despite the length!

The Paris Daughter by Kristen Harmel 

  • In Paris in 1939, under the looming pressure of WWII, two young mothers discover that nothing and no one is safe in war. Elise and Juliette trust one another completely and when Elise must flee France as it comes under German occupation, she entrusts her most precious possession, her daughter, to Juliette’s care. Unfortunately, tragedy in the form of a bomb blows apart not only a family, but possibly a friendship. Elise returns to the ghost whispers of her daughter and a missing Juliette. In search for the answers she desperately needs, Elise will travel to the city of New York in search of Juliette, one final time. What she finds is unexpected! A heartbreaking novel from the author of The Book of Lost Names.

The President’s Daughter by James Patterson and Bill Clinton 

  • The second book in the partnership of these two authors, this political thriller engages every parent’s worst fear as a past president’s daughter is kidnapped. Fortunately, that past president is also a former Navy SEAL who uses his former military expertise to prevent a national catastrophe and save the life of his daughter. Fast paced and high energy!

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver 

  • Guys, just read this already. We live in Appalachia, so to respect our culture, I say we give it a go!  I’m not even sure I should be summarizing this at all, so here is what The Guardian has to say: This powerful reimagining of David Copperfield follows one boy’s struggle to survive amid America’s opioid crisis. Click here to continue the article. Isn’t survival alone heroic enough to go down in the history books?!?!

The Saffron Kitchen by Yasmin Crowther

  • A debut novel that tells of the complex dynamics in familial relationships shaded by burdensome and, at times, shameful pasts. Maryam, an Iranian immigrant, suddenly leaves her English husband, nephew, and daughter to return to the village where she was born in Iran. In confusion, Sara, her daughter, follows her mother and discovers the price Maryam had to pay to provide a life for her family in England. A poignant account of a mother-daughter relationship scarred by a tragic history. Have a box of tissues handy for this one!!!