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Ashe County Reading Challenge Book Club Guide: March 2024 Meeting Notes

March 2024


RCBC March 2024 Meeting Notes

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

  • Kristin Hannah has hit it out of the park with this book focusing on the lives of army combat nurses serving during the Vietnam War. Set both during and after the war, Hannah manages to capture the struggle these nurses went through seeing and treating the worst injuries of the war, yet finding no support back home upon return.  Our reviewer this week commented that the amount of research done on this book is startlingly accurate and points a well-aimed lens at the disservice we heaped upon very brave and heroic women serving during the Vietnam War. 
  • A recent New York Time Book Review focused on the book.  The article can be found here.

  • A 2023 Lambda Literary Award winner, Dirt Creek is a mystery novel centered around the disappearance of a 12 year old girl in rural Australia named Esther.  Each chapter shares the point of view of a different character, helping to piece together the puzzle of what happened, all while laying out the many secrets of Dirt Creek citizens.  Goodreads describes the book as follows:
    • In Hayley Scrivenor's Dirt Creek, a small-town debut mystery described as The Dry meets Everything I Never Told You, a girl goes missing and a community falls apart and comes together.
  • Our reviewer cautioned that some online reviewers of this book did not like the depiction of animal cruelty in this novel, yet our reviewer did not find any animal representation to be too harsh.

  • Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan
  • There are so many themes in this novel it’s hard to gather them all!  Love, single motherhood, teenage angst, gender identity, domestic abuse, murder, and beekeeping!  Not only do the words of this book weave a good story, they teach the reader so much about the LGBTQ+ community and the hardworking lives of beekeepers and their bees.  In reading the previous sentence, you may wonder what the heck this book could be about, but the stories of a murdered transgender girl and the domestically abused mother of her accused killer intertwine to weave a tale of human compassion and outline how to embrace tragedy and “otherness” in our world.
  • Of note, this novel was written in an interesting way.  Each author wrote from the point of view of one of the two main narrators in the book.  Then, as a challenge, each author would switch, and write a chapter from the point of view of the narrator they were not originally assigned.  Quite a feat, and the two authors pull it off brilliantly.  Oh, and did I mention that the book is written in reverse chronological order?!!  Oh, and there are recipes made with honey at the end of the book?!!

  • This cozy mystery is book 6 of 8 in the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series.  Set inside a library and featuring a county librarian, our reviewer says this is perfect bedside reading for any time of year.  The county library, Amy, has an aunt whose best friend is under suspicion for murder.  Amy’s aunt begs for her help in researching the crime and clearing her friend’s name.  Turning to the county librarian to solve a murder mystery??  Of course!  An unexpected ending awaits the reader.  A perfect feel good, down home novel!

  • A fantasy classic, Stardust is a sweet tale of the things we do for love, such as capturing a fallen star in a distant land beyond the safe borders of home.  Our reviewer says it is a sweet story, but be prepared for witchy blood and gore!  A happy ending is to be had, so stick with it!

  • Not to be confused with a fiction novel by the same title, this nonfiction book sheds light on the dysfunctional royal family of England trying yet again to distance themselves from social messes.  The narrative is set in Paris around WWI.  Before Prince Edward of England met and married Wallis Simpson, he had a fling with a Parisian courtesan named Marguerite Alibert.  Prince Edward, though purportedly making his country proud fighting in WWI, was actually hobnobbing with the elite of Paris, where Marguerite was fondly known by the most powerful of men.  In later years, Marguerite murdered her husband and stood trial for murder.  The book goes into the coverup that ensued as the Royals desperately scrambled to have Prince Edward’s name distanced from Marguerite; they absolutely did not want their war hero exposed to be a philanderer during WWI!.  An interesting read with fabulous research shining through.

  • This novel focuses on the rise to fame of Marjorie Post, the Post Cereal and General Food’s heiress.  Written from the viewpoint of Ms. Post, she narrates the many twists and turns of her private, social, philanthropic, political, and business dealings.  Set during a time of American excess, Marjorie stood out for her business acumen and strong voice.  With an over 4 star rating on Goodreads, lovers of historical fiction and strong female characters will be sure to like this book.
  • Of note, this book is the current Vickies Book Club pick for March 2024.

  • A heart rending debut novel set in North Carolina following a young mother and her five year old daughter as they navigate the mother’s terminal diagnosis.  In order to prepare for the future, the mother must introduce two people she is estranged from back into her life to care for her daughter when she passes.  The first is her daughter’s father, who has no idea of the girl’s existence.  The second is her own father with whom she has a fraught relationship.  The novel is a beautiful evolution of growth in character from diagnosis to death.  At the end, the daughter is grown and shares her perspective.  Of note, the title is in reference to a heartwarming story within the book about trying to explain to a small child what happens when someone dies.
  • A 2011 Carol Award winner for Debut Author from ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).

  • Written in 2024, Friction is an exciting, plot twisting novel.  Texas Ranger Crawford is in the middle of suing for custody of his young daughter when the judge in charge of his case, Holly, is attacked by a courtroom gunman.  Crawford’s quick actions to defend Holly ends up in the death of the would-be killer.  Yet, when the pair is brought down to the morgue to identify the shooter, the man on the table isn’t the man from the courtroom, and Crawford must continue his search for the real threat!  Another thrilling novel from Ms Brown.

  • Trap Line by Carl Hiaasen and Bill Montalbano
  • For this novel, Hiaasen has teamed up with coauthor Montalbano, who used to work with him writing for the Miami HeraldTrap Line is actually their second collaboration and the second novel in the Black Lizard seriesThe adventure begins when a fishing captain in Key West, Breeze Albury, takes a risk in order to ensure financial security and ends up in over his head working for a drug cartel.  Caught between the police and brutal hitmen, Breeze takes matters into his own hands to execute a vigilante rampage against crime in his hometown. 
  • In typical Hiaasen fashion, Trap Line is a humorous and thrilling crime novel that involves chasing down cocaine smugglers in the Florida Keys.  As Goodreads puts it:
    • A Key West fishing captain takes on Florida’s drug lords in this “splendidly written” crime story …(The New York Times Book Review).

  • Our reviewer for this book states that if you like Demon Copperhead and David Copperfield, you’ll probably like this book.  Three strangers in an Oregon town, struggling with their life situations, end up working together on a honeybee farm and healing each other through shared compassion and vulnerability.  As Eileen Garvins author page summarizes:
    • Beautifully moving, warm, and uplifting, The Music of Bees is about the power of friendship, compassion in the face of loss, and finding the courage to start over (at any age) when things don't turn out the way you expect.
  • This novel also teaches the reader much about beekeeping and features quotes from L.L. Langstroth, a famous American apiarist. 

  • Tom Lake is a very good book from the author of The Dutch House and Bel Canto.  The novel is set during the 2020 Covid pandemic and follows the newly re intertwined lives of three grown daughters in their 20s returning home to help their mother manage a cherry orchard suffering from lack of personnel during the global crisis.  As the family works, the girls ask their mother to tell stories of her time as an actress, particularly when she worked playing Emily in Our Town.  As stories are shared, the family works through familial frustrations and resentments, as they come to bond more deeply in a time of world crisis.  As Patchetts author page puts it:
    • Tom Lake is a meditation on youthful love, married love, and the lives parents have led before their children were born. Both hopeful and elegiac, it explores what it means to be happy even when the world is falling apart.
  • This is another novel with a New York Times Book Review podcast episode dedicated to it.  You can find that episode here.  You can find the written New York Times Review here.