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Wow, what a fun book club last night. Book scores aside, Jose gave the book club a 9. I’m just now wondering why that wasn’t a 10. What did you knock a point off for, Jose?

We had lots of Halloween costumes and our 2 winners were both characters from books we read. Tara came in first place with her portrayal of the New Jersey pregnant soccer mom detective, Andie Stern, from the January book, Suburban Dicks. Cindy came in as a close second as Daisy Darker, the ghost who didn’t know she was a ghost, from the book by the same name. Her costume was complete with video tapes that said “see me, watch me” etc. Well done on everyone’s costumes! When Jeff puts the meeting minutes on the Wiki site, he’ll have the photos up as well.

And then there was the food! Wow, such a great spread, and thanks to everyone for bringing a dish (and Amy for bringing baggies for leftovers to send home with others).

We had a lively discussion of the book, Are You Sara? By SC Lalli. I was remiss in not doing some research on the author, but she is apparently a romance and women’s fiction writer under her full name Sonya Lalli. This was her first attempt at a mystery novel and some of us gave her a little slack for it being her first in a new genre. Others did not.

Before we got the scores we decided that if the book got an average score of 6, Jose would write a sequel. With this in mind, and because I clearly thought one book was enough, I allowed the option of giving a score with a decimal point, but ONLY if it was a 5.999. Only one person took me up on that, and mostly because she couldn’t let the opportunity pass where decimals were allowed. Well done, Patricia.

Alas, the book did not receive an average score of 6. The average score, if my math is right, was 4.519. Jose is still working on his sequel fan fiction book, though. He’s toying with titles that contain the term “anti-hero.” Stay tuned, I bet it will be a best seller...she said, with a fake smile on her face.

On to the scores. There were 22 people in the room and we got 3 emailed votes, for a total of 25. We gave the book: one 8, two 7s, one 6, one 5.999, seven 5s, five 4s, and eight 3s.

I think part of the reason this book didn’t receive even lower scores was that some of us were still experiencing PTSD from the last book with its Nazis and caves, and all kinds of weird nonsense. Most of us read the book jacket for this book and it sounded like a really good premise: 2 girls, both named Sara(h), get into each other’s ride share and one ends up dead. This premise is what made many of us vote for the book. We thought the author had a lot of good pieces, and if we had started to make notes on a white board and listed the themes and individual pieces, it would sound like a good book. But when it was all put together, it fell flat for most of us.

Jose, Jeff, and Christina (she was one of our email votes) gave the book the highest scores and were entertained by it. Christina liked that she wasn’t a saint and Jeff went further to point out that he liked that Sara was slowly revealed as the person she was through her actions. Jose clearly liked the book, hence his fan fiction promise, and liked that she was the anti-hero. He felt that the book meant to show that Sara was really off track, and we discussed Sara’s upbringing with immigrant parents whose lives she didn’t want. Rich Sarah also had pressure on her, albeit a slightly different kind, and her actions were a function of that. Cindy liked the class comparison and how both girls experienced pressure, but in different ways. Even some of those who gave the book a low score mentioned that they liked that Sara’s character did what wasn’t expected of her.

The low scores were from the people who just didn’t care about the characters, weren’t intrigued by Sara’s decline, and thought that the author’s romance background came through too much. It felt like a YA novel to a lot of people, even with the...you know what’s coming here...gratuitous masturbation scene.

Someone pointed out that there were some elements that were just unbelievable. Namely, the fact that Sara found a crowbar under the seat of the cab when she was taking Jason (who was incapacitated by ONE Ambien) to the hotel. Well, it was unbelievable until we found out that it’s NOT unusual to keep a crowbar under your seat. Not if you’re Allie. We got a huge laugh out of that one and suggested she keep duct tape near it so when the cops stop her for speeding they really wonder.

Gail pointed out that it wasn’t a sticky book. This basically means it just didn’t stick with her, and she came into the meeting not remembering what she’d read. Not a compliment to the author. If the book were a GIF, it would be of a person pointing every which way, because the book went, according to Kim L, “everywhere, anywhere, and nowhere.”

Nicole felt like she read the book as homework and didn’t think the twist was anything great. There was no “bang.” Sharon K, Patricia, and Emma all agreed that it started off better than it finished. Their scores would have been way higher if it stopped at: Part 1 for Emma and before the Nathan twist for Patricia.

Amy said what a lot of us were feeling when she pointed out that the book had “no depth.”

There you have it, 2 books in a row that were, in essence, duds for the majority. I am currently envious of Jeff and Jose because they liked the book. I have high hopes for next month. We will meet on November 27 to discuss Marple: 12 New Mysteries.

This book is a collection of 12 original short stories, all featuring Jane Marple. Each author reimagines Agatha Christie’s Marple through their own unique perspective while staying true to the hallmarks of a traditional mystery.

Since there are 12 stories, we chose 12 Crime & Beyond Book Club members who will each take one story and lead the micro-discussion. Below are the members who will lead for each author’s story. Keep in mind that if we spend 5 minutes on each story, that’s 1 hour. So keep your discussion questions to just 2 or 3, so we can spend about 6 or 7 minutes on each and still do a quick discussion of the book overall and get each person’s score for the book – before they kick us out of the library

If you find you can’t make the meeting and you were assigned an author, let me know and I’ll pass it on to someone else.

  • Naomi Alderman - Cindy
  • Leigh Bardugo - Nicole
  • Alyssa Cole – Sharon Also
  • Lucy Foley - Jose
  • Elly Griffiths - Kerry
  • Natalie Haynes - Emma
  • Jean Kwok - Susan
  • Val McDermid - Gail
  • Karen M. McManus - Allie
  • Dreda Say Mitchell - Kelly
  • Kate Mosse – Sharon K
  • Ruth Ware – Amy (of course)

The Holiday Party invite and Secret Santa invite have been emailed to all the local book club members, let me know if you didn’t receive it. Deadline to RSVP for both is November 14.

See you in November. Happy Halloween & Happy Thanksgiving!

Kerry

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