Welcome to Storie delle Sorelle

Welcome to the blog for SdelleS. To learn more about our book club check out my first blog entry or read about our members. Or check out our ReadingGroupGuides.com interview here! Using the links to the right, you can browse the books we've read and rated or visit some of my favorite sites for book clubs on the web. How about some questions to consider as you read a book? This site is meant to provide a wealth of information for all readers so I hope you enjoy your visit! Please post a comment or contact me with any questions or thoughts. :)

Monday, December 22

Christmas Party Recap

On Sunday we had our annual Christmas Party complete with good food, good friends, and lots of books!

For this meeting everyone got to read a book of her choice. Most of our discussion took the form of Book Reports. Here's a list of who read what and what they rated the books.

  • Beth: Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley - 9

  • Nancy: Skipping Christmas, by John Grisham - 8

  • Melissa: Official Guide to Christmas in the South (or If You Can't Fry It, Spray Paint It Gold), by David. C. Barnette - 8

  • Cyndi: The Christmas Promise, by Donna Vanliere - 5, but a good 5

  • Jessica: The Paper Bag Christmas, by Kevin Alan Milne - 8

  • Carrie Ann: Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris - 8

  • Cynthia: Run, by Ann Patchett - 9
    (Cynthia is Jessica's mom - she was visiting with us for this meeting)

  • Amy: The Dog Who Saved Christmas, by Alan Sullo - 5, but a cute book

  • Heather: The Cole Family Christmas, by Jennifer Bryan & Hazel Kendle - 8
    (I reviewed this on my blog)

  • Nicole: The Red Tent, by Anita Diamante - 8

After the book reports, we did our Book Exchange. It was lots of fun! There wasn't all that much stealing going on but ONE book did get stolen several times: The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao.

A big thank you to Jessica for hosting our Christmas Party!


Here's a list of upcoming meeting dates:

Monday, Jan. 26th - location TBD
"Interpreter of Maladies" by Jhumpa Lahiri

Saturday, Feb. 28th @ 1pm - Beth's house
"Change of Heart" by Jodi Picoult

Monday, Feb. 23rd - Cyndi's house
"The Bean Trees" by Barbara Kingsolver

Tuesday, December 9

Books for 2009 (January - March)

At our last meeting we voted on the books we'd like to read over the next few months. Here's what we decided on:

Interpreter of Maladies
by Jhumpa Lahiri
nominated by Melissa
Change of Heart
by Jodi Picoult
nominated by Kara
The Bean Trees
by Barbara Kingsolver
nominated by Bev

We'll be setting meeting dates at our Christmas party on 12/21 so please remember to bring your calendar. And feel free to read ahead if you want to!

Tuesday, December 2

Christmas Book Swap: The Rules

In preparation for our upcoming Christmas Party, I give you ...

    Rules for SdelleS Christmas Book Swap

      Each gal should bring a new or gently used book to swap. Books must be wrapped or bagged so that no one can tell what is inside.

      Playing the Game:

      • All wrapped gifts are put in the center of the room.
      • The gals draw numbers from a hat to determine the order in which we pick gifts.
      • Gal #1 chooses a gift from the center and opens it, and shows it to everyone. That is the end of her turn ... for now.
      • Gal #2 chooses a gift from the center, opens it, and shows it to everyone. She may then swap her current gift with Gal #1 or keep the gift she has.
      • Gal #3 chooses a new gift, opens it, and shows it to everyone. Gal #3 may either keep the gift she opened or swap it for another Gal's opened gift.
      • We continue like this until each person has a gift.
      • Gal #1 may then swap her gift with any other gal.
      • That’s the end of the game!

      Note: There is no limit to the number of times a gift can be “stolen” ... good luck!

      Tuesday, November 18

      Ideas for Christmas Books

      For our Christmas party we are reading any Christmas book of our choice.* Here's a list of suggested titles for those who need some extra inspiration:
      I can't wait to see what everyone chooses to read. At the meeting we'll do our Book Report format which means that everyone gets a chance to talk about their book for a few minutes. It should be fun!

      *If you feel strongly about reading something else then go for it!

      Recap: The Glass Castle

      Fourteen of us met on Saturday at Melissa's house to discuss The Glass Castle. Our discussion touched on homelessness, poverty, mental illness, family love, overcoming your past, and much more. It sounds depressing but it was definitely not - we had a great time discussing a great book!

      Thanks to everyone who made our meal so fantastic - we'll have to do the Thanksgiving theme again for sure.

      Our next meeting is set for Dec. 21 at 2pm at Jessica's house. We'll be discussing the Christmas book of your choice (or whatever you feel strongly about reading). I'll post a list of suggestions within the next few days.

      Thanks to Melissa we have some pics of our meeting!

      (I also reviewed this book on my blog.)

      Thursday, November 13

      Links for The Glass Castle

      I came across a post on another blog about our current read, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. It includes links to several interviews with the author that might be interesting. I haven't had time to check them out yet; if you do, be sure to post a comment or two about what you learn.

      UPDATE: I've found lots of additional links I'd like to share with you. Enjoy!
      I'm really looking forward to out meeting on Saturday. And I LOVE Melissa's idea of bringing filled shoeboxes in support of Operation Christmas Child. I know a few ladies are already filling boxes - yeah!

      Wednesday, October 22

      Same Topic, Different Books

      My recap of our Jackie Kennedy meeting (where we read different books on the same topic) is up at ReadingGroupGuides. Click here to check it out!

      Sunday, October 12

      Recap: Books about Jackie Kennedy Onassis

      This month we tried something a bit different. Annette wanted to read a biography of Jacki Kennedy. Rather than choosing one biography, each person could choose any book about Jackie that looked interesting to her. This idea worked very well!

      We began by discussing Jackie's childhood and family background. We then moved on to the Kennedy years, then the Onassis years. We concluded our discussion by focusing on her years as an editor and her relationship to Maurice Templesman.

      Six of the gals at the meeting were too young to remember Jackie, while the other three did remember some things about her. I think that everyone left the meeting knowing more than they did before though.

      Nine people attended the meeting; those 9 people read 8 different books. Four read biographies, two read photo biographies, and two read books on fashion, and there were a few other books we browsed through. For the most part the books agreed with each other and covered the same parts of Jackie's life. One book, however, focused on Jackie's relationship with her mother and THAT one contradicted most of the other books - it made for some great discussion!

      Here's a list of who read what and what they rated it ...
      • Heather: Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: A Life, by Donald Spoto ... 7
      • Heather: One Special Summer, Lenn and Jacqueline Bouvier ... 10
      • Nicole: Jackie Kennedy: A Life in Pictures, by Yann-Brice Dherbiert & Pierre-Henri Verlhac ... 7
      • Annette: Jackie: Her Life in Pictures, by James Spada ... 10
      • Lenore: Janet & Jackie, by Jan POtter ... 7
      • Bev: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, by Ellen Ladowski ... 7
      • Nancy: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, by Ellen Ladowski ... 10
      • Stephanie: Jackie, The Clothes of Camelot, by Dominick Dunne ... (?)
      • Kara: Jackie Style, by Valentino ... 8
      • Melissa: America's Queen, by Sarah Bradford ... 4
      • Carrie: America's Queen, by Sarah Bradford ... 7
      Since we didn't all read the same book, we decided to rat our meeting. Everyone had a great time ... here's how our ratings went:
      • 8 x 1 vote
      • 9 x 4 votes
      • 10 x 3 votes
      for an average of 9.3.

      If you want to read more about Jackie, check out this post and this one too. We had a lot of fun reading about her and doing our meeting this way. We'll definitely do something like this again soon!

      Tuesday, October 7

      More Info on Jackie O.

      Here are some interesting links to check out as you are reading about Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis this month.

      2008 Baltimore Book Festival Recap

      I finally finished posting all my pics, videos, and thoughts from The Baltimore Book Festival on my personal blog. Whew! That was exhausting.

      Here's a recap of all my posts in case you want to check them out:
      I hope you enjoyed coming to the festival with me! Maybe you can join me in person next year - mark your calendar now for Sept. 25-27, 2009.

      Wednesday, September 24

      Recap: Redeeming Love

      On Thursday night we met at Chevy's for Happy Hour to discuss Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers.

      First off, it was crowded! We usually sit on the porch outside and have it almost to ourselves. This time I snagged the only two empty tables out there. The noise level was higher than we're used to as well. And the parking was horrendous! It's never good, but this was ridiculous.

      Ok, on to the book. This was Kelli's pick and she'd read it before. Most of the girls LOVED it, even the ones who didn't particularly want to read it. Lenore read it in two days, Nicole stayed up late even though her littlest boy is still waking up every few hours at night, Kara didn't want to get out of the car whenever she arrived at work (she listened on CD), and Shayla is planning to give copies to her sister and cousins. Personally, I wasn't a big fan. Neither was Annette, and Jennifer and Amy both thought it was just ok.

      We talked a bit about what made Michael Hosea such an appealing character and our reactions to women like Angel in today's world. Stephanie and Melissa both empathized with Angel, as they've come across girls like her in their respective careers.

      It was interesting to me to see the two different covers for this novel. They certainly give very different first impressions! Scroll to the bottom of this post for some examples.

      Our discussion was rather brief this time. The noise level contributed, but we also wanted to finish year so (most of) us could go to the movie (click here for details on that).

      Here are our rating for Redeeming Love:
      • 5 = 2 votes
      • 6 = 2 votes
      • 8 = 2 votes
      • 9 = 1 vote
      • 10 = 4 votes
      Eleven people rated the book (thirteen actually read it, but two haven't rated it yet), so our average rating is 7.9. I'll of course update this when I get the final two ratings.

      Saturday, September 20

      Schedule for the rest of 2008

      October 7
      your choice of any biography of Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy
      (bring your book to the meeting to compare)
      chosen by Annette
      meeting at Lures Bar & Grille, Crownsville

      November 15
      The Glass Castle
      by Jeannette Walls
      chosen by Nancy
      meeting at Melissa's house

      December 21
      Christmas Party & Planning Meeting, and
      The Memory Keepers Daughter
      by Kim Edwards
      chosen by Joan
      meeting at Jessica's house

      Friday, September 19

      Movie Night: Nights in Rodanthe

      Because of our presence on the internet, I was contacted by a marketing group offering SdelleS free tickets to an exclusive screening of the new movie Nights In Rodanthe, based on the book by Nicholas Sparks.

      The movie was scheduled for the same night as book club and in the same mall as the restaurant where we'd be meeting. So rather than miss out, we ended our meeting a bit early and (most of us) headed off to the movie.

      Here's what the gals had to say about it afterward:

      Stephanie: The movie was a good romance movie, but not the ending I wanted. Maybe that is what the author and production company intended.. not to have the ending please everyone, but more reality in theory!!

      Melissa: I'd give the movie a 4.5 because I adore Diane Lane. Otherwise, eh? The ending came out of nowhere & seemed unnecessary, & I didn't like the subliminal message about the safety of the developing world. But Diane Lane gave a stunning performance as always!

      Annette: OH boy about last night. So exciting I felt like a celebrity at the Premier. Especially with the reserved seats for the press in front of us. I really enjoyed it and you were never bored. It was a fun night out with my husband and family. Thank you Heather honey, we look for a night like this again. I rate the movie a 6.

      Shayla: I really did not like the movie. The movie was all surface and no depth. I plan to read the book, hopefully the book will fill in some blanks.

      i had a fabulous time -always fun w/the girls! the movie -i think all of us who went together - steph, my mom bev, steph's mother in law sue, melissa & her friend - didn't like it - it was good, neat having it filmed in the obx, and an amazing house we all wanted, but that was it! i like fairy tales - and there was a little "heated" debate afterwards, but our group decided we live in the real world, but as for movies - we'd rather not be realistic :) even though i didn't like the movie it was soo much fun and i found a movie i have to see - go watch trailer of 4 christmases - looks so funny like wedding crashers

      Lenore: As for the movie, not a huge fan. Although I read the book a long time ago and am fairly certain the book was better, however not much can help the ending.

      And from family members who attended:

      it was slow to start, but it was very touching, I needed a drink when it was over!

      Karen: The scenery was nice since we were just there, BUT I thought it was slow, and I wasn't that crazy about it! We had a wonderful time, though.

      If anyone else emails me with their comments I'll add them here as well.

      Thank you to Promotions and Publicity at Terry Hines & Associates for giving us tickets to this show!

      I'll be posting a recap of our actual meeting shortly, as well as the schedule for the next few months so be sure to check back for those.

      Monday, August 4

      New Guidelines for SdelleS

      Thanks to the wonderful group of ladies in our book club we are a thriving and growing group! After our recent growth spurt - we've added 5 new members since March and 3 of those joined last month! - we realized the need for some "official guidelines".

      We want our club to continue to be successful and the only way to do that is by assuring that all our members are active in the decisions we make, and happy with the direction our club is going. With that in mind, we spent some time at our last meeting discussing ways to improve the club. Here are the guidelines that we agreed on:

      New Book Club Guidelines for SdelleS

      1. Choosing books and scheduling meetings:

      • After we finish our current “book picker” rotation (next up is Annette, then Nancy, and finally Joan) we are changing the way we choose books. Here’s how it will work:
        • Three times a year we will have a planning meeting. This will be part of our regular meeting that month (not an extra meeting, so don’t worry). Everyone can bring one book to suggest and take a few minutes to “make a case” for that book. Then each person will vote for the books she wants to read the most. The four books with the most votes will be our selections for the next four months.
        • At that planning meeting we will also set dates for our next four meetings. Because of our group size, we realize that we cannot plan a meeting that everyone will be able to attend. Our best option is to rotate between weekend and weeknight meetings to better accommodate everyone’s schedules.

        • Our first planning meeting will be part of our Christmas party this year.
      2. Meeting locations:
      • Our current policy is that if you want to host a meeting, you volunteer. If you don’t, you don’t. We’re sticking with that policy but with one addition. If you want to host but can’t do it in your home, you are welcome to find an alternate locations (a church, park, office, etc.) and host us there.

      • We also agreed that weeknight meetings at Chevy’s (Happy Hour!) would be back on the schedule.

      3. New Members:

      • We agree that new people bring new perspectives and fun to our group; however we realize that if the group gets too big it will lose some of its charm. For now we will continue to accept new members but we will reevaluate that decision at each planning meeting and we may decide to close the membership at some point.

      4. Reading Speed:

      • We agree that 100 pages per week is a reasonable goal for our club. At the same time, we understand that some months are busier than others. We expect our members to make every effort to read the book before each meeting; however if you just can’t fit it in one month, you are still welcome to attend the meeting and participate in the discussion.

      • At the same time, if you are consistently not reading the books from month to month, you may want to reconsider your commitment to the book club. [Of course we do have “maternity leave” for those members with new babies – come when you can, read what you can, you’re welcome whenever.]

      5. Author Meetings:

      • We definitely want to pursue additional meetings with authors, either in person or via speakerphone. If the opportunity arises, we will bump our next planned book to the following month and fit the new book in as quickly as possible.

      6. Annual Family Party:

      • This topic split the group evenly. Half were opposed to the idea while half were in support of it. However since no one was willing to plan or host this event we decided to stick with our “girls only” meetings.

      Recap: Eat, Pray, Love

      Yesterday we had our meeting for Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It was also our annual pool party at Nancy’s house. Nancy always has such a gorgeous setup for us! We had two out-of-town guests, my Gram, Eileen, (from Florida) and Melissa’s mom, Marlene (from Tennessee).

      Stephanie chose this book for us because she received it for Christmas and needed an excuse to read it. Unfortunately she still hasn’t read it because her new baby girl arrived last month and just about eliminated her reading time. Nicole was in the same boat, with her 2nd son arriving last month as well. Both babies attended their first book club meeting yesterday.

      As usual for us, opinions on this book were mixed. Bev wasn’t a big fan, mostly because the book came across as very self-centered to her. She shared the belief that if you’re only looking inside yourself for happiness, you’re not likely to find it; she was disappointed that the author did so little for anyone other than herself. Melissa wasn’t all that impressed with the book either, but (sorry!) I can’t remember what her reasons were. Annette tried to listen to the audio version but was bored practically to tears by the narrator’s monotone reading.

      Personally I expected to hate it and I actually liked it quite a bit (I’ll be posting a complete review on my blog today or tomorrow). I was in the minority at the meeting though. Nancy did enjoy it for the most part. There were sections that she could relate to in some ways. And she and I agreed that the writing style was very engaging.

      Two of the gals who couldn’t make it to the meeting loved the book (I know, because they told me!) and I’d love to hear their thoughts as there was NO ONE at the meeting who really loved this book. Carrie and Amy – please post your thoughts in the comments!

      Our discussion mainly focused on two topics:

      • Gilbert’s refusal to explain the reasons behind her divorce – none of us were happy with this at first, but some of us were able to get past it, appreciate her reasons and focus on the rest of the book while others were stuck on her refusal to divulge more info
      • Did she or did she not change by the end of the book? If so, in what ways? And did that make her a “better person”?

      I’m still compiling votes and will update this as more come in, but for now here’s where we stand:

      3 members gave it a 7

      1 member gave it a 3

      (I’ll post the average once I get the rest of the votes in.)

      Friday, August 1

      Guest Blog Posts & Reminder

      Remember me telling you that I'm now an official contributor to the blog at ReadingGroupGuides.com? Well my newest post is up!

      Click here to read my recap of our meeting with DL Wilson, and then click here to read HIS thoughts on our meeting - how cool is that?!

      (His post is dated Aug. 1 so if you click over after today you'll have to scroll down the page a bit.)

      Please post a comment over there and let me know what you think about both posts!


      Nancy wanted me to remind you all to bring bug spray to the pool party at her house on Sunday. She says the mosquitoes are getting worse every day. :(

      Tuesday, July 22

      Meeting Recap: Unholy Grail

      This past Sunday we met at Audrey's church to discuss Unholy Grail. Hmm, meeting at a church to discuss a book on religious conspiracies ... ~LOL~ Author DL (David) Wilson joined us; this was OUR first time meeting with an author and HIS first time meeting with a book group so no one knew what to expect.

      The meeting went incredibly well! When he gave us our books last month, David asked that we each write down our three most favorite and three least favorite things as we read. This was the perfect way to handle an author meeting, in my opinion. It allowed us to encourage the author in the areas we thought he succeeded in while giving us the push we might need to share the things we thought could use improvement. I mean, no one wants to be insulting, right? But we do want to be honest and this plan made that easy to do.

      Just about everyone came up with something that she enjoyed about the book, and just about everyone came up with something that she did not enjoy. For a while the conversation veered off into religious beliefs but thankfully that didn't last too long. And we all got a good laugh when David repeatedly stated (with a great sense of humor) that "THIS is why I'll never write a religious book again!"

      At the end of the meeting David surprised the girls with unedited copies of his upcoming bioterrorism novel for any who were interested. Thanks!!!

      We had three new members this time - welcome all! Eleven people attended the meeting and lots more read the book but couldn't make it to the meeting. This was our biggest group of readers ever ... 17! Here's how the rating went:
      • 4 = 3 votes
      • 5 = 2 votes
      • 6 = 7 votes
      • 8 = 5 votes
      That give us an average rating of 6.1 for Unholy Grail.

      Our next meeting will be at Nancy's house on Aug. 3 and it's our Annual Pool Party - yeah! We'll be discussing Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. This was Steph's book pick. Kelli gets to choose the next book.

      At our next meeting we'll also discuss ways to improve our club. Please think of the things you like about SdelleS and also the things that need improvement; I want to hear from honest opinions from everyone. :)

      (In case you forgot, here's the backstory of how David Wilson ended up at our book club.)

      Monday, June 16

      Thursday, June 12

      Our Book Club is Famous!

      Ok, well maybe not famous, but we are getting some hometown attention (thanks to Carrie!).

      The Baltimore Sun profiled us today on their new book blog. According to one of the editors, our blog "is the best one I've ever seen!". Cool, huh? Click here to read what they wrote.

      You may recall that I'm now doing monthly book giveaway on my other blog. Click here if you'd like to enter to win. And yes, the contest IS open to people in my book club too!