our book club reads happy books!

Ummm Ummm Good!

The Sunday after Thanksgiving we were thankful to get together for our monthly book club meeting!

Our book was “The Forgotten Garden” by Kate Morton.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the book (those who had read it!), but we agreed that while it was very well written, it was a little long.

For me, it  brought back memories of “The Secret Garden”, one of my very favorite childhood novels, and one I have read many times. So it was a nice surprise to have the author of that novel, Frances Hodgson Burnett, pop up as a character in this novel.

We had a special treat at this meeting – Beth made us soup. No it wasn’t Morgy Broth like William made Nell (thank goodness – turns out that’s some kind of fish stew with Worcestershire sauce in it!). Instead it was a choice between carrot  (my choice – delicious!) and beef vegetable soup, along with yummy bread, fruit , cheese, and cake. What more could you want on a chilly November evening? A crackling fire, exciting news about twin grandbabies, and catching up with friends? Check, check, and check! Another successful, happy book club meeting. Thanks Beth!

Looking forward to our annual holiday get together next month!

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Hello Velva Jean!

I just finished the novel “Velva Jean Learns to Fly” by Jennifer Niven. This is the sequel to “Velva Jean Learns to Drive“, which I wrote about in this post.

The second novel picks up right where the first one stopped – Velva Jean is driving her beat up , but beloved,  yellow truck to Nashville, with high hopes of making it to the big time: singing at the Grand Ol’ Opry.

“Velva Jean Learns to Fly” takes Velva Jean on amazing adventures as World War II breaks out and Velva Jean joins what will later become the WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots) and learns (you guessed it!) how to fly.

As with the first Velva Jean novel, what made this one such an enjoyable read were Velva Jean’s character and spirit.  Velva Jean’s family and friends from the previous novel make appearances and we are introduced to a lot of new characters. Niven has great talent for making all the characters come alive and you really feel like you know them.

Once again, Velva Jean faces heartache and hard times, but her resilient spirit pulls her through. The novel was set during WWII and depicted the struggles of the WASPS to gain respect and recognition as a military entity. This was something I knew little about and  found very interesting. And I found it very disheartening that women in the military face the same lack of respect and threats of violence today.

The end of the novel left me in a slight panic. I immediately did some research and found that there is indeed a third Velva Jean novel entitled “Becoming Clementine” or as one reviewer called it, “Velva Jean Learns to Spy”. See you soon Velva Jean!

Two things I discovered about Jennifer Niven that makes me want to want to be her BFF:

1. In the acknowledgements page she thanks Ryan Bingham: “I created Butch Dawkins before I knew who Ryan Bingham was, but it’s like he walked off the page –  right down to that face, that hair, the tattoos, those songs, and the whiskey-and cigarettes voice. Mercy.” I, too, am a fan. I discovered Ryan Bingham watching the movie “Crazy Heart“, or I should say, listening to  the closing credits to “Crazy Heart”. Bingham sings the title song he wrote for the movie, which for some crazy reason Colin Farrell sings in the movie. When I heard Bingham sing it, it was like hearing a completely different (and much better) song. As I listened, I pictured a man about the age of Jeff Bridges matching that incredible voice. Imagine my surprise when I found out this is what Ryan Bingham actually looks like:

It added to my enjoyment of the character of Butch Dawkins to picture him like this!

2. In one of her blog posts, “Traveling Light when you love books”, Jennifer talks about traveling to England and filling her suitcase full of great English authors. How ironic, since I found Jennifer Niven’s novels while searching for books set in Nashville to take with me to Nashville! (and it was fun to read about the city after recently visiting – the War Memorial, Church St, Printer’s Alley – I remembered them all.) In this case, looking for books to travel with led me to a great new author who I may never have discovered otherwise.