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One announcement before we get into the nitty gritty of the book club meeting.

Book Swap Party – mark your calendars (I will get RSVPs next month)

DATE: Saturday, July 8
TIME: 2:00 – 4:00 pm
WHERE: Enchanted Grounds Coffee Shop, 8800 South Colorado Blvd, Highlands Ranch.
WHAT TO BRING: Your book (see below) and paper and pen to make notes of all of the books you want to read

HOW IT WORKS: Each attendee will bring a new or gently used copy of a book they LOVED that fits into the Mystery genre (any sub genre is allowed – cozy, police procedural, thriller, etc.). We will go around the room and each attendee with “sell” their book and tell us why they loved it, why everyone will want to read it, why they couldn’t put it down. After everyone has introduced their books we will draw numbers and the person with #1 will choose a book they want to take home. Beware, though, we will allow 2 steals before the book finds its forever home. Everyone will leave with a different book than they came with and hopefully everyone will also have a new list of books to read.

RULES & SUGGESTIONS: The book cannot be a book we’ve read in club (see Kerry if you’re not sure). I would also recommend it NOT be a book that most people have read, like a classic Agatha Christie. You want to choose a book that everyone will want to go home with because they haven’t read it and you’ve sold it so well.


On to the meeting...

It was an exciting meeting this week when we discussed The Retreat by Sarah Pearse. I have to be honest, I thought the book was going to get MUCH better reviews. As it stood, there were some that were high, some that were medium, and lots that were quite low.

It was a quite a back and forth and it went something like this... Tara started us off strong with an 8 because even though she fell asleep quite a few times, she liked it. Joel then cut Tara’s score in half with his 4. He thought the book was confusing, everyone had secrets, and no one could recognize anyone after only 10 years. Carole met Joel’s 4 with her own 4 and added that she was appalled with Elin’s inept policework. She also threw in that the book was convoluted, causing Kerry to try and spell that word – finding that nothing she wrote looked right. Marilyn, feeling like she chose a good place to sit amongst friends, mimicked the previous two 4s, adding that there was just too much in the book that wasn’t possible. Jeff, perhaps feeling slightly more generous, threw his 5 into the ring. He pointed out the plot holes and seconded the convoluted, causing Kerry to try to spell the word 3 more ways to see if it looked better. Janice be all like, 5? Heck no, we’re back to 4 baby. She thought the cheese plant was the killer and I suspect was a little disappointed to find that not to be the case. Jay came next and shocked the row with his 6, admitting that he enjoyed the book and was led down all the rabbit holes, even suspecting Jo for awhile. He did admit that the book wasn’t very cohesive, causing a groan from Kerry as she now tried to spell that word. Jose then put the hammer down and was like, no, no, no. This book is a 4. There was too much going on and it was confusing (out of deference to Kerry, perhaps, he didn’t say convoluted). Jose also pointed out that Elin stressed him out and he didn’t like that we didn’t learn much about the characters. Kerry, sitting right next to Jose, and bolstered by the fact that Jose went with confusing over convoluted, shouted 8. Yes, she was very entertained by the book, flaws and all. Allie, with a sad look on her face for Kerry’s 8 brought the room back down to a 5. She thought it was forced and way to similar to The Sanatorium. She did like the twist of Maya having killed Jo at the end, though, which is perhaps what kept her from joining the 4 Club. Melissa saw Allie’s 5 but raised her to a 6. She thought Elin had regressed since Sanatorium rather than improved. She also liked the setting in Sanatorium better. Julia, from her seat in the corner, and quietly, as is her custom, proclaimed her 8. She told us her method and we’ve taken note of the process for future reads. She read 12 pages and then went on vacation. Coming back home, and having already read the 12 pages that introduced her to the cast of characters, she finished the book in one day. Success and an 8 score. Amy had no qualms about bringing us back down to a 5 and reiterated all of the issues that the 4s had with the book. Christina was a DNF but not because of lack of enjoyment, it was more lack of time. She weighed in at an interim 7 and promises to finish the book even though she now knows all the secrets. Kelly tried to flee the room without giving a score but was stopped at the door and proudly proclaimed a 7. The book was disappointing, but she was entertained. Gail saw Kelly’s 7 and raised it to an 8. She was also entertained, even with the book’s previously stated flaws. Kim phoned in her score of 8 and really liked it as well. Just when we started to get complacent, the two Sharons were up. As if in stereo, we heard two resounding 4s. New Sharon didn’t even pause in her knitting to tell us all of the issues she had with the book. Sharon K thought Elin was whiney and did not come across as a policewoman. She did throw us a bone by saying that there was great character development, but in hindsight, this might have been sarcasm. Ann was our guest librarian, standing in for Cindy. She waited quietly for her turn and hit us right down the middle with a 5, She wasn’t thrilled, but it was entertaining enough to finish. Speaking of entertaining, this led us to Penny. She opened with a confession. She came in the room with a score of 5 and as we talked and she heard a few people say they were entertained, she recalculated. She admitted she WAS entertained and that had to amount to something. Her 7 reflected her change in judgment, which then led to Claudia’s nod of the head and score of 7 as well. Claudia started Sanatorium but didn’t finish it in time and it was returned to the library, so perhaps she wasn’t feeling the same “been there, done that” from reading the books too close together. And...then...there...was...one. Emma gave a wicked smile and made a comment that we were about to go back down. We waited with bated breath and when she said 4 there was a shout in the room and applause from everyone with a 5 and under. Never before have we had shouted encouragement for such a thing. Emma only finished the book because she was reading it for club and she ended the comments with a resounding “meh.”

It's important to note, for the average score’s sake, that Sharon L emailed in a score of 9. Yes, I typed that right – our highest score. She definitely enjoyed the book, loved that everyone had secrets, and she didn’t fall for the red herrings of Hana or Michael Zimmerman being the culprit.

We did a test round to see if the 7/8’s could out cheer the 4/5’s and the verdict was that the 7/8’s did in fact weigh in louder. Of course, Jose pointed out that perhaps that made sense, the 4/5’s were just too uninterested.

There you have it, it was a tennis match of volleying scores. But in all the chatter, we did find some common ground.

We all agreed – unanimously – that Sanatorium was a better book. The new rule is that you have to wait one year before reading a second Sarah Pearse book. Many people commented that the books were basically the same (although one on a mountain in the snow and one on an island in a storm) so you needed one year to cleanse your palate.

We thought in general that it was cheaty that the opening chapter was about a kid named Ollie and that we found out that Will had changed his name from Ollie to Will. We would have preferred the author to not name the child in the first chapter to make it fairer (is that a word).

We also all got a big kick out of how Elin always saw things out of the corner of her eye. She was constantly finding clues this way, so if you’re every searching your home for a lost item, remember, your peripheral vision is key.

We were all confused about who the artist of the reaper’s rock image was supposed to be. We felt like Sarah introduced the character, yet we never learned who he was and he never made an appearance. Although I remember someone spotting a stranger down on the rocks. Maybe this was a lie the character made up to deflect suspicion. Either way, it left us confused.

The third book is supposed to address, and we hope clear up, the background thread of the person who is stalking Elin Warner. In Sanatorium he/she was on the funicular/gondola watching her and in The Retreat he/she was posting photos on Twitter with Elin’s eyes scratched out. We talked a bit about background threads and how we like them to clear up in a short period of time or else we get bored and/or forget what the heck they’re all about.

I found it interesting that almost all of the people at the meeting said they would read book 3, even the 4 Club. Although, to be fair, some of them said only if the club chooses it.

We decided to move the October meeting one week later to October 30 (fifth Monday in October). We will be in the kiddie room downstairs (and some of us may have to sit on dinosaurs) but it will be closer to Halloween for our costume contest and party, AND Kerry can make that date and not have to miss the event again. We will most likely do a potluck. Thanks for weighing in, everyone!

See you on June 26 to discuss The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark. Nicole is down for bringing a snack.

Kerry

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