Book of the Month – My Brilliant Friend

It’s my favourite month: May!!! Well actually, it’s June now, but for the purposes of this blog post, it’s still May, and I’m here to talk about our May book pick.


This month was my third time hosting a meeting since joining the Unputdownable Book Club, which means it was also my third time getting to choose a book!

Choosing a book is always exciting, but it can also be quite daunting and intimidating! It’s a lot of pressure.

I had a few ideas in mind, old classic dystopian novels that I thought were timely, like 1984 or The Handmaid’s Tale. Neither option really excited me, though. The TV series excited me, but reading the book again – not so much. And if I wasn’t excited, how could I expect the other girls to be excited?

For my birthday, my extremely well-read brother and his fiancée gave me the first two books from The Neapolitan Novels, which is a series of 4. They both raved about the series and rated all the books with 5 stars on Goodreads. That really caught my attention, as they can be tough critics.

When I asked them if the first book, My Brilliant Friend, would be a good book club book, my brother actually said that he couldn’t think of a book that would be a better choice for a book club. That was all I needed to hear! My decision was made. Sometimes we give two or three options and the book club girls vote at the meeting, but I didn’t want to give options this time. It’s so rare that we get the chance to choose a book!

Interestingly, after deciding on this book, I discovered that it’s not only a Heather’s Pick (a guaranteed enjoyable read, picked out personally by Chapters/Indigo CEO Heather Reisman), but also will soon be a series on HBO! Let’s hope it lives up to the hype!

Have you read this book yet? Let us know what you thought of it and if you agree with my brother!


 

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Book of the Month – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

I know we’ve missed about two year’s worth of Book of the Month updates – but our pick for April 2017, chosen by Emily, is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou!

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I have to admit, personally, I was pretty excited about this pick. I’ve presented it as an option twice already – so when Emily did as well, I knew this was finally the month.

Have you read this book? Let us know what you think.

Find it here on Goodreads.

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We’re Back!

Hi Readers!

After a bit of a hiatus, The Unputdownable Book Club is back to blogging!

We also have a new blog coordinator now! Our Prez stepped down after having a baby, and we couldn’t be happier for her. Sarah has officially taken over – and while she could never dream of filling Julia’s blogging shoes, she’s excited to be the one to continue updating our followers.

As always, this blog will be all about what’s going on in the UBC, how we feel about what we’re reading, and everything else book-related. We also want to know what kind of content you want to see from us on our blog. Let us know in the comments!

Thanks for all the continued support!

Ottawa Book Clubs - Ladies Book Club Party Ideas - Laura Kelly Photography the Unputdownable Book Club_0013

 

View More: http://laurakelly.pass.us/bookclub2

Sarah & Julia

(And thanks as always to our talented member who took the photos above, Ottawa wedding photographer Laura Kelly)

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Book review – Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas by Nicholas Pileggi

Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas is based on the true story of the rise and fall of Tony “The Ant” Spilotro — a legendary mob hitman in the early ’70s. The Ant was a cold and effective mobster whose primary objective was to protect the gambling businesses and interests of Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal.

Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas by Nicholas Pileggi

via www.bol.com

This book shows how the mob operated in the past – how it was back then, from the glamorous casinos that entertained the well-dressed elite to the brutal assassinations initiated by the mob in Sin City. Guests weren’t protected back then, and were encouraged to gamble as hard as they could, compared to now, where each gaming provider is required to offer a “Responsible Gaming” service to its patrons. PocketFruity, a leading online operator in the UK, describes the service as their responsibility to provide an environment in which players can have fun while playing in a safe, fair and above all responsible manner.

Before businessmen could freely operate in Las Vegas, the Chicago mob pretty much controlled everything, including Stardust – which the book’s movie-tie up cleverly disguised as The Tangier. Skimming profits was the mob’s main business, and Lefty had a specialty of being the “best handicapper of all time.” Everything operated like a well-oiled machine until Lefty’s most trusted muscle, The Ant, became entangled in a horrible mess that dragged not only Lefty in the entire mess, but all of the mob-controlled casinos in Sin City. Rosenthal still lived up to 2008, and has a website of pretty much everything that went on in his life as a mob boss. Spilotro, on the other hand, meets his demise at the end of the book, and learns the hard way that messing around with the mob, and skimming their skim, has very deadly consequences.

Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas is a great read before watching the film. Although, as with most book-to-movie adaptation, the book has a better way of detailing the shady business dealings, betrayals, politics, and the personal lives of the mob.

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Little Free Libraries!

I was walking with my husband and one-year-old through our neighbourhood a few days ago, when we went down a street I had not taken before. Knowing how much I love reading and books, my husband pointed this out to me:

I immediately ran up to it and looked through the titles – obviously. However, I did not take a book since I didn’t have a book with me to leave in return.

Then I got to thinking about it, and decided what an awesome idea! It reminded me of the “take a book, leave a book” shelves that you can find in most youth hostels for backpackers.

Setting one of these up allows neighbours quick, easy, and FREE access if they need a new read, and offers an option closer to their home than the public library to those with limited mobility. I would like on my property; however, based on my location it is doubtful the City would allow such a construction.

Finding this little jewel near me made me wonder if there were others. A quick Google search directed me to Little Free Library. A non-profit organization, Little Free Library supports anyone who wishes to set-up one of these small community libraries! They have a blog and provide all the information necessary for setting up your own Little Free Library. As for the structure itself – you can either build your own or purchase a prefabricated option from their online catalog. If you build your own, you can register with them and your Little Free Library will show up on their map online! This registration is automatic for the pre-fabricated options.

When you register your Little Free Library, you also receive a Steward’s Packet: including a Steward’s Guide full of tips and outreach tools; eligibility for new books donated by publishers for the cost of shipping and handling only; access to brand new, deeply discounted books through First Book for registered stewards in low-income areas; a How Does This Library Work? flier to post on your Little Library; monthly E-newsletter; access to a private Facebook group to swap ideas and connect with other stewards (information from www.littlefreelibrary.org).

The organization is based in Hudson, Wisconsin, and as of January 2014 (most recent stat I could find) they have assisted in creating over 15,000 Little Free Libraries worldwide.

Although the Little Free Library near me is not registered with this group, I wanted to make sure bring attention to this organization and the great work they do in promoting literacy and love of reading for all ages!

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Book of the month – Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

We have good news – we’re re-committing to blogging!

After a bit of a hiatus, Sarah pointed out that this little blog is just too neat of a thing to let slide. And we agree – it’s so special! How many collaborative book blogs do you know of, that stand the test of time?

Our little book club is still going strong, with almost five years under our belt. That means 55 books! It’s amazing.

We haven’t really updated the blog since February, so here’s what’s been happening in our world:

We died with laughter at Jimmy Kimmel’s book club. Adorable, and a must-watch.

This hilarious graphic. I especially like “intending to read” and “read, but can’t remember a single thing about it”.

My Library by Tom Gauld

 

 

We made it to the big leagues! Not really, but we are finally listed on CanadianBookClubs.com – check us out here!

Erin finally shared her much-anticipated list of her favourite books from 2014. It’s a tradition! More things to add to you reading list – you’re welcome 🙂

We found the best Instagram account to follow for book lovers. This girls’ life is amazing!

So, we went a little nuts over Canada Reads this year because not only was When Everything Feels Like The Movies a contender, but it was defended by Lainey Lui who I chatted about books with on The Social in September 2013. She was the most fierce, even though it finished second. We love this video of her!

What it wasn’t a official UBC pick, many of us have read the uber-popular novel The Girl on the Train to mixed reviews. If you’re into that sort of thing, here are other novels just like it.

We did read A House in The Sky by Amanda Lindhout and had some awesome discussions about it. We were all fascinated by the story, and her choice to enter such dangerous countries with virtually no protection. If you’ve read it, you might be interested in what Nigel and Amanda are up to now. We also found this amazing Instagram account, which portrays a different view of Somalia.

This is funny – with Grey by E.L. James just announced, and the first movie released, we were surprised when our friends over at Grammarly dissected 50 Shades of Grey only to discover isn’t actually not that poorly written. Come again, you might ask? In fact, they found that many other popular novels make the same number of mistakes, like A Moveable Feast, The Age of Innocence and Tender is the Night. Hmmm…

On April Fool’s, Goodreads got us good. Okay, maybe only for a second.

BuzzFeed is always our go-to for a list of interesting ways to bookify your home.

Bill Gates just shared his “beach reads” for 2015… none of which are probably classified as “beachy”, but still.

Anyway, on to the business of the day… our June book! It was Yvonne’s turn to pick and she chose Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, which is super hot right now and has received much critical acclaim. The Globe & Mail says it  has “suspense, science fiction and elements of horrors – but [it] is undoubtedly a literary work.” It’s been on my reading list for months so I am really excited to get into it!

What are you reading this summer?

 

 

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Book of the month – Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

The Unputdownable Book Club’s May pick is Cannery Row by John Steinbeck!
Cannery Row

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Book of the month – Flash Boys by Michael Lewis

And our April book club pick, chosen by Kristina, is Flash Boys by Michael Lewis!

We’re excited to read a novel by the same author as The Blind Side and Moneyball. Have you ready anything by Michael Lewis before?

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Book of the month – A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout

We’ve been busy, but we just wanted to say that our March book club pick was A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout!

Have you read it? We loved it. What did you think?

 

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Book review – The Martian by Andy Weir

martianI’m pretty much f*#@ed. That’s my considered opinion. F*#@ed.

Has a better opening ever been written for a book? Not that I have read!

The Martian is the debut novel from author Andy Weir. It follows the fictional American astronaut, Mark Watney, when he is stranded alone on Mars after a storm forces his team to abandon their mission. Weir, with his background in computer science, researched orbital mechanics, astronomy, and the history of manned space travel to ensure it was as realistic as possible and based on existing technology.

The novel was originally self-published online in 2011 for free in serial format, one chapter at a time, following previous rebuffs by publishers. An Amazon Kindle version was subsequently made available and rose to the top of Amazon’s best-selling science-fiction list, which provided the attention necessary to get it published.

And man am I glad it was published. The Martian is HILARIOUS. Seriously, here are some quotes:

NASA: please watch your language, everything you type is being broadcast all over the world.
Watney: Look! A pair of boobs! -> (.Y.)

***

There’s an international treaty saying no country can lay claim to anything that’s not on Earth. And by another treaty, if you’re not in any country’s territory, maritime law applies. So Mars is ‘international waters’. Here’s the cool part: I will eventually go… and commandeer the Ares 4 lander. Nobody gave me explicit permission to do this, and they can’t until I’m aboard Ares 4 and operating the communication system. After I board Ares 4, before talking to NASA, I will take control of a craft in international waters without permission. That makes me a pirate! A space pirate!

***

Watney: You fucking kidding me?
NASA: Admittedly they are very invasice modifications, but they have to be done”
Watney: You’re sending me into space in a convertible.
NASA: There will be canvas covering the holes. It will provide enough aerodynamics in Mars’s atmosphere.
Watney: So it’s a ragtop. Much better.

The Martian is technically a science fiction novel; however, in my opinion, the witty writing and adventure/thriller storyline make it appealing to even those with no interest in that genre. I am not a huge Sci-Fi fan, but I loved this book – I would definitely call it unputdownable, I always wanted to know what would happen to Watney next and how he would deal with it.

The plot is very character driven – it is very much about the mental and emotional state of Watney, as well as his former team members and NASA staff, throughout this 18 month-long ordeal, as well as Watney’s ability to improvise to survive.

My only complaint would be that it can be a little too technical at times when describing the equipment modifications and engineering he was performing (communications, IT, vehicle, hab/living structure, life support, etc.). I sometimes couldn’t follow it – but I could always follow the gist of the storyline surrounding the details.

I am very excited that this novel is being made into a movie – I think it will make a really great movie. It is not one of those novels that when you hear a movie is being made you think “WTF – that will make a terrible movie”. Even more exciting is the film adaptation will be directed by Ridley Scott and star Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels and Sean Bean. The film is scheduled for release in November 2015.

As a final note I am going to share a quote that Commander Chris Hadfield made about the novel, because what better praise could there be from this book than a rave review from one of Canada’s most successful astronauts!

A book I just couldn’t put down! It has the very rare combination of a good, original story, interestingly real characters, and fascinating technical accuracy. Reads like McGyver meets Mysterious Island.

 

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