Tag Archives: Book Club

Dawn’s Early Light ~ Book Club

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

We decided a bit late for the Book Club selection for this posting but I did remember to share about it. Hope you were able to join us in reading this story.

Dawn's Early Light

Set in Williamsburg at the start of the Revolutionary War, this is a story of dreams, courage, bravery, and finding home where you least expect it. As we join the story, young Julian Day has just lost his father while crossing the ocean to America. He is met and cared for by those who were supposed to meet his father. These aristocratic but independent folks take Julian under their wing and help he find his way. Having never stood on his own two feet before, he is encouraged and strengthened by some good people who want to help him.

He learns what it means to be a teacher, which it turns out he really enjoys. In the process, he learns as much as his students but about a very different subject. They are learning spelling and geography and writing; he is learning how to handle himself, what he truly believes, what friendship really means, and how to stand for what is right.

The story takes us through several of the battles of the war that were important and we meet many of the important participants of the Revolutionary War – Washington, Lafayette, Jefferson, Greene, Patrick Henry, Francis Marion, and many more men and women who work hard to win independence from the tyranny of the King.

This historical fiction is the first in a series of seven novels by Elswyth Thane. She wrote this in 1943 after she spent several summers back and forth between America and England. Well researched and full of interesting characters, this is a story that is really quite easy to read but that will challenge you to think about your own beliefs on freedom and war.

The book I read did not have any discussion questions in it and I did not find any online already set up. Wendy has been busy handling life lately so I am forgoing writing any questions for this one. I just recommend reading this book. I would love to read the rest of the series but our library system does not have them. Perhaps I can get them elsewhere.

Join us in March for the next Book Club post. I am thinking it may be either Uncommon Type: some stories by Tom Hanks or The River Between Us by Richard Peck. Really, though, anything is up for grabs as we haven’t decided on anything yet. Both of these are on my “to read” list.

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Book Club update

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

We did finally decide on the book to read for the February posting date – Dawn’s Early Light by Elswyth Thane. This is the first in a series about Colonial Williamsburg in the time leading up to and including the Revolutionary War. Written in 1943, this is a good book that we hope you will enjoy.

Dawn's Early Light

Read more about my thoughts and those of Wendy over at Ladybug Daydreams on February 1st. Thanks to Annette at A Net in Time for the suggestion of the book.

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Waiting for Rachel ~ Book Club

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

In case you are new, this is the monthly Book Club series post. On the first Thursday of the month, I post about a book, writing my thoughts on it or answering some discussion questions about it. It was started by Wendy over at Ladybug Daydreams and I am pleased to join in with her each month.

This month’s selection was a fast, easy, pleasant read and I am glad Wendy suggested it (check out her post about it). Waiting for Rachel is book 1 in the Those Karlsson Boys series by Kimberly Rae Jordan. It wasn’t a difficult book and that is okay. Sometimes, it is a pleasurable time to just sit back and read something that is clean and has some morals and values promoted in it.

Waiting for Rachel

That is what I found in Waiting for Rachel. Rachel is a young lady who is single and owns a book store. She is well-known in the community, is thought highly of, but keeps to herself. She is afraid of being hurt and so doesn’t open herself up to very much. But Damian sees something in her that she doesn’t see in herself and is willing to take the time to help her see her own strength.

In stepping outside of her comfort zone and becoming involved in her church congregation a bit more, Rachel finds friends and comfort she never expected. She also find a support system that she ends up need much more than she ever expected.

The story is a good one that reminds me not to close myself off from those who might be reaching out – for me to come into their circle or for someone who is looking for a circle to be a part of. It is a good push for me, especially right now, as I find myself struggling with some recent events where it is all too easy to nurse hurt feelings and feel sorry for myself. God places people and things in our paths sometimes to remind us of His ways, of His path and purpose. This books shows a good example of how God can bring each of us closer to Him and He can forgive anything.

At the time of this writing, the book was free from Amazon for the Kindle.

A story that shows us God – that’s what Waiting for Rachel turned out to be for me. Showing me God and where to look in my own life to see Him more clearly.

Next month’s selection is not yet chosen but we are currently working on that decision. It’s amazing how the holiday put a few things off schedule, isn’t it? I’ll share a quick post about the choice when we get it decided.

We would really like it if you would join us in reading and writing or sharing a bit about it.

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Joining in the linkup at the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

Homeschool Review Crew Weekly Link Up 

Unbroken ~ Book Club

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

This month, Wendy and I tackled the book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Unbroken is the story of Louis Zamporini written by Laura Hillenbrand. I have actually had this book in my to-read pile for a couple of year and now that I have finished it, I cannot believe that I didn’t read it earlier.

Unbroken book club

Unbroken is a fascinating book. The story of Louis Zamporini is undoubtedly one of the fullest, most difficult, yet most inspiring I have read. Louis is known to most people as the man who was going to break the 4-minute mile mark in running until WWII got in the way. His childhood was intensely difficult, for him and his parents. He just could not find what fit him and so he was troubled and caused a lot of trouble. But his older brother finally got him into running and he found his stride in life.

After running in the Olympics in Germany in 1936, he was poised to really make his mark in the 1940 Olympics. WWII began just months before them and they were cancelled. Louis joined the military and became a bombardier. After training, he was sent to the Pacific and it was there that the remainder of his military career was spent. One fateful day, the crew he was with were sent to look for a downed plane. Their own plane went down and they crashed in the Pacific Ocean.

Louis and two others were the only survivors. After drifting on a raft for weeks, they were picked up by the Japanese. This is the point where the unbelievable part of the story begins. Sent to camp after camp, Louis and Phil, the final two survivors spent the remainder of the war in POW camps. Louis was never registered with the Red Cross and so was presumed dead. What they survived in the camps is just about unspeakable. It is truly a testament to Louis’ fortitude, strength of character, attitude, and stone-cold will that he came out of the camp alive. That any of them did but Louis was a target – a target of rage.

When he came out of the POW camp at the end of the war, he was a very different man. After marrying, he fell into the power of the nightmares, flashbacks, and other trauma that afflicted him. He didn’t know how to fight it and it consumed him. His wife did much to stick by him, help him, and eventually, drug him to tent revival held by Billy Graham. He was touched by the message. He heard God’s love and was changed. His life was given back to him and he grabbed it with two hands, as he had done everything else in his life.

From then on, he worked to help and bless others. He created camps to help struggling boys find their way. He gave speeches about what he had endured during the war. He traveled far and wide to talk to those who wanted to hear him. He was never able to regain enough strength and overcome his injuries from the POW camp and become a strong runner again but his life touched so many more. He was used by God for a force of good and encouragement.

What a story!

These questions are from the back of the book:

Is Louie a hero? How do you define heroism?

I think he is a hero because he fought for what was right. I think that is the simplest definition of a hero – someone who fights for what is right, even at risk of personal comfort or safety. Louie was a hero because he fought not only in the military but in his own way, day-by-day, each day of the war. He did all he could to be strong, to show strength to others, to stand tall and not let others down. He wasn’t going to be broken.

Louie was especially close to his brother, Pete, who devoted himself to him. If Pete hadn’t been there, what do you think would have become of Louie? Does Pete deserve credit for shaping Louie into a man who could endure and survive his Odyssean ordeal?

Absolutely, there is credit due to Pete. He saw the potential in Louie when others were ready to dismiss him and give up on him. Pete pushed Louie to be the best he could and helped him in all the ways he could find to do so. Pete definitely helped Louie become the man who survived the war. There were other forces at work, as well, but Pete was a defining force for Louie.

What are your feelings about Mac? Do you feel sympathy for him? Anger? If you endured the trauma of a plane crash and were placed in a situation that you knew very few men survived, might you have reacted as he did? In the end, do you think he redeemed himself?

I do feel a lot of sympathy for Mac. Mac reacted with fear to a fearful situation and, in eating all of the food supplies they had, made things worse. But he didn’t do it in his right mind. Extreme fear and trauma can make people do strange, unreasonable things. I found Louie’s response so amazing and generous – a glimpse of the person deep inside that hadn’t had tons of opportunity to shine yet – a person of strength and leadership and responsibility. Mac found out that day just how forgiving one can be. In the end, I do believe he redeemed himself as best he could. There was little that he could do but he did it, fighting off the sharks and helping to keep the raft safe and afloat. It wasn’t enough to save himself but his actions helped keep Louie and Phil alive. That is also an act of heroism.

The POWs took enormous risks to carry out thefts, sabotage, and other acts of defiance. Men would risk their lives to steal items as trivial as pencil boxes. What benefit did they derive from defiance that was worth risking death or severe beatings?

I can only imagine. In that, I imagine that it was an act that gave them a feeling of control, something they had little of. Also, in these acts, they were doing little things to hamper the enemy and “help” the war. These acts strengthen character and give encouragement to continue on. Every little bit of encouragement is helpful when you are in the dark days.

Unbroken reveals that, under the “kill-all order,” the Japanese planned to murder all POWs, a plan that was never carried out because of the dropping of the atomic bombs. The book also explores the lengths to which the Japanese were prepared to go to avoid surrender. How did the book make you feel about America’s use of the atomic bomb on Japan?

This is a really hard one because all I have is the book and information. I wasn’t there but I do struggle with the amount of lives lost and permanently damaged from it. I don’t know how much America knew of the damage that would really come from it but in some ways, it is easy to justify and say “it was worth it. It ended the war and thus, in the long run, saved many, many lives.” At the same time, the long term effects of the bombs is crazy and the fear reported in the book are significant. So, I can accept it without issue but am thankful we are not currently in a position where there is need to consider something like this. And I pray we are never in that kind of a position again.

Why do you think most WWII literature has focused on the European war, with so little attention paid to the Pacific war?

No clue. My guess is that we in America are predominantly linked through ancestry to Europe. That is kind of our “history.” As I read more and more, there are truly stories though from around the entire globe about the battles and effects of WWII. There is much, much more to WWII than the European theater and we need to help our children see this because the effects of it are still visible today. Broader world-views give us all a more compassionate view of others.

I’m going to close it here. I could go on. There are actually 23 questions in the book and some of them are very deep-thinking ones. I encourage you to read what Wendy wrote about Unbroken on Ladybug Daydreams.


Next month:
The selection for next month is Waiting for Rachel by Kimberly Rae Jordan. It is currently available for free on Kindle over on Amazon.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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An Invisible Thread – Book Club

Wendy suggested this month’s book and I enjoyed it tremendously. Such an inspiring tale to be told. Don’t forget to check out what Wendy says about An Invisible Thread.

An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11 year-old panhandler, a busy sales executive, and an unlikely meeting with destiny

by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski

An Invisible Thread

A busy, noisy street corner in New York is not exactly the place where you imagine life changing for ever. But it did for Laura and Maurice one Monday afternoon. Maurice was begging for a small amount of change, enough to get something, anything, to eat. Laura walked past but then, for a reason unknown to herself, she turned around and talked to the youngster. She ended up taking him to McDonalds and spending some time with him. She thought that was the end of it until she could not stop thinking of him. She was able to find him again, as unlikely as it was in New York, and that is how her interactions with Maurice came to change both of their lives.

Laura knew nothing about just how different their lives were. After all, she had never experienced anything like that. But danger, drugs, prostitution, and a slew of other illegal activity were just part of life and survival for Maurice. As Laura and Maurice got to know each other, he opened up to her about his life. Laura struggled to know just how to maneuver the relationship – she wanted to help but she didn’t want to take over; she wanted to influence but she did not want to discredit those who were in his life already (as bad as it was, he loved his family); she wanted  him to dream of something different than he knew but not feel that she was looking down on him for where his life was right then; she wanted him to experience a fuller, richer life but she didn’t want it to be hard for him to cross back over into the life he actually had to live every day. And then, how were others going to see her?

She continued to be a committed influence in Maurice’s life and to do her best to help him change his own circumstances, knowing she could not change them for him. She helped him experience life beyond the walls he knew and to see the possibilities. With family, she exposed him to holidays that he had never celebrated, baseball games with afternoons of joy, and time to concentrate on school instead of survival. And it mattered.

Laura didn’t have an easy life either, though hers did not involve poverty. It did, however, involve alcoholism and abuse. This was something that allowed her to relate to Maurice and for Maurice to see that you can overcome what life hands you to start with. When Laura shared parts of her life with him, he was able to see that Laura really did understand difficulty to some degree. And it bonded them.

The finest part of the book comes at the end, where Maurice writes his own tribute to Laura, who made a difference to him. He tells of the moments that stuck out during their years of friendship and how her belief in him helped him to believe in himself. His letter is extremely touching.

One of my favorite parts is where Maurice sees Laura’s niece and brother-in-law interact. The little girl is very upset and crying hard. Her dad, Laura’s brother-in-law crosses over to her, and Maurice fears what he just knew to be coming – a beating and abuse. But he is shocked to see Laura’s brother-in-law crouch down, talk calmly and reassuringly to her, and to hug her. It was a changing point in Maurice’s life – he saw something possible for the future that he didn’t even know existed.

The book’s title is based upon an Asian proverb that talks about an invisible thread that binds people together, bringing them into each other’s lives. Laura believe’s this invisible thread brought Maurice and her together and allowed them both to live richer, fuller lives because of it.

The book was not hard to read as far as words go. But to read about the life Maurice had to endure, and to escape? That was hard. I know that life exists but I am blessed to never have lived anything even remotely close to that. But to read about the influence that started with a simple meal? That is huge and touching and inspiring. Now to take that and move ever more boldly forward. . .

Next Month – Unbroken by Laura Hildenbrand


Don’t forget to visit Wendy over at Ladybug Daydreams to find out all that she offers on her blog and to read about her thoughts on the book.

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Keep Moving – Book Club

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

Keep Moving and Other Tips and Truths About Aging

by Dick Van Dyke (published 2015)

Keep Moving

In this memoir, we get to see the spirit of Dick Van Dyke and what has kept him young-at-heart through the years. He talks in length about his attitude toward life and others, his activity, and the way he has kept on keeping on. Mr. Van Dyke has shown us through his funny and insightful writings that life gets better as you age and experience things. When he wrote this book, he was in his ninth DECADE of show-business. Now that is longevity!

Old age is something that Mr. Van Dyke should be very familiar with yet he tells us several times in his book that he finds himself looking around and thinking “Am I old?” He has decided that age is just as number and you only feel as old as you let yourself. He encourages the read to be active (dance is best, of course), take changes with a smile, and live the life you want to life; don’t let fear or society talk you into something less than your dreams.

Now, with that being said, he also does not allow for excuses. If something doesn’t work out, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and give it another go or change your dream. He does not allow excuses to dictate any of his life.

I found that one of the things that stuck with me most about Mr. Van Dyke is the measuring stick he uses for choosing which projects he would be a part of. He said that if he would not let his children see that work, he should not be doing it. In this way, he never participated in anything that he regrets. That says a lot to me about the type of person Mr. Van Dyke is.

I also really enjoyed the chapter he titled “Ninety Year – A Report Card.” In this chapter, he talks about memorable things from various years of his life. From important books to movies, from his own work to the work of others who influenced him (think Laurel and Hardy or The Benny Goodman Orchestra), this chapter was in interesting overview of the years and things that happened. And each one received a grade – A to F.

This book was a fun, enjoyable read that brought many laughs and smiles, just like all of his work. A witty way with words makes the book a pleasant way to spend your time. This is a read that I highly recommend to everyone. It is clean and fun.

Visit Wendy at Ladybug Daydreams to read what she thought about Keep Moving.

An Invisible Thread

Next month’s selection is

An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11 year-old panhandler, a busy sales executive, and an unlikely meeting with destiny

by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski

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Austenland – Book Club

Austenland book club

This month’s selection was a quick, easy read that I stumbled across in the used book store: Austenland by Shannon Hale. The title caught my attention because I have long enjoyed reading Jane Austen’s works. There have been a number of novels written about people who have been caught up in the story’s Jane Austen wrote and this is one of those. Wendy agreed that this one might be fun so on I read!


Meet Jane – a young woman who is single and always seeming to meet men who just don’t live up to her dreams. Of course, when your dreams are centered around Pride and Prejudice and the “perfect” man of Mr. Darcy then meeting someone who is just right is just hard. Jane’s great-aunt sees through Jane’s troubles and decides to bequeath her a trip that will immerse her in the time period and style of Pride and Prejudice.

Jane takes the plunge, going to Austenland for 3 weeks, to be fully immersed in the time period that she has always seen as perfect. But once she arrives, she begins to question what she has always thought. Is Mr. Darcy actually perfect? Will Jane meet the right Mr. Darcy at Austenland or will she just meet Mr. Right? This is a sweet, fun read that helps us see that perfect is not always perfect and Mr. Right is probably completely different from your dreams.

There is a Reading Group Guide at the back of the book. The questions seem to be the same ones from LitLovers. I picked a few questions from there for this post.

1. Austenland opens, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a thirtysomething woman in possession of a satisfying career and fabulous hairdo must be in want of very little, and Jane Hayes, pretty enough and clever enough, was certainly thought to have little to distress her” (1). How does this sentence set the stage for the novel? Compare it to the famous first sentence of Pride and Prejudice: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Which of these universal “truths” is actually true, if either?

Neither is true. It is clear that when making a broad statement that it does not fit every person or ever situation. Everyone experiences difficulties and nothing physical can make the determination that you need something or someone in your life.

2. Austenland, besides chronicling Jane’s stay at Pembrook Park, lists all thirteen “boyfriends” she’s had in her lifetime. How well does the reader get to know Jane’s past? How much has she changed from her first relationship at age twelve to the one that is now just beginning?

This listing definitely shows a bit of who Jane is. We see a change but then, if we didn’t, we would be considering just how realistic this character is since age 12 to her present “thirtysomething” is a significant time period.

3. Jane observes of the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice: “Stripped of Austen’s funny, insightful, biting narrator, the movie became a pure romance” (2). What would Austenland be like without Jane’s own funny, insightful, biting narration?

Without being able to follow Jane through Austenland, it would not be as real of a place. Jane helps us see life’s stumbles, how we weave in and out and around the people we come into contact with.

4. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth’s mother, Mrs. Bennet, is known for her determination to marry off her daughters and for her frequent social blunders. How does Miss Charming, Jane’s fellow visitor to Pembrook Park, resemble Mrs. Bennet? What are some of Charming’s funny faux pas and verbal blunders?

Miss Charming is so anxious to be a part of the false world created at Pembrook Park that we see an overzealous, anxious person who doesn’t care a whit about those around her. She seems to overshadow the others as she pushes her way through the experience.

5. Jane’s great-aunt Carolyn set the whole Pembrook Park adventure into motion. What Austenlanddo you think Carolyn’s intentions were in sending Jane to this Austenland? Do you think Jane fulfilled those expectations?

I believe great-aunt Carolyn’s purpose was to help Jane find the real world, to have authentic relationships, and to see herself for who she really was. I do believe that Jane was able to do much of that.

6. Jane comes to wonder what kind of fantasy world Jane Austen might have created for herself: “Did Austen herself feel this way? Was she hopeful? Jane wondered if the unmarried writer had lived inside Austenland with close to Jane’s own sensibility—amused, horrified, but in very real danger of being swept away” (123). Is it possible to guess at Austen’s attitude toward romance by reading her work? Why or why not?

I do not believe that we can guess at Austen’s attitude at all. She was a writer and most novel writers seem to be very good at creating an ideal land without it being remotely related to their own real world.

7. What might Jane Austen think of Austenland, if she were alive today? Could she have possibly anticipated how influential her novels would become, even for twenty-first-century audiences? Could she ever have imagined a fan like Jane Hayes?

I can only imagine that writers would be horrified to find people who have immersed themselves so fully into the story and the imagined lands that their real lives are filled with troubles, false ideals, and broken relationships.

If you choose to read this, I hope you find it a simple, fun book. It is not as deep as these questions try to make it, which is probably the biggest issue I have with questions related to books and stories. Sometimes, it is just an enjoyable story and that is okay. I feel this way about this particular book. Just enjoy it.

I found the official site of Shannon Hale pretty funny but I also appreciated this Q&A about whether this book is appropriate for youngsters. (I would probably not mind an older teen reading it but it is not for my 13 year old.)

As a side note, I just saw that this was turned into a movie in 2013. Interesting. May have to check it out as something fun to watch.

Don’t forget to head over to Ladybug Daydreams to see what Wendy has to share about Austenland. We’ll see you next month for the next selection.

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Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens


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