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home : blogs_old : tone's book zone August 27, 2015

Tone's Book Zone
By Sue Tone
A blog for readers and book lovers. Postings will include information on book festivals, library activities, local authors, classroom visits, book groups, writing and publishing tips, reviews, bookmakers and bookmaking, and how volunteers can help children and adults acquire a love of reading.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Decision! Picking the 'winning' book for the March book club selection

 by Sue Tone

So I finished Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen, and it was a light read. I found the most interesting section was at the end where Janzen more fully explained the culture and beliefs of Mennonite people in her community. It was a welcome relief after two horrific, wonderful books of grinding poverty and dastardly cold weather.

But ... I wasn't totally satisfied with this selection.

So on a Monday night in February before the group gathered at my home on Thursday, I went to bed with three books, intending to read the first chapter of each to see if there was another possible pick.

After about 20 pages in, I marked my place in Myra Goldberg's The False Friend. I can't wait to find out what happens, I say to myself, and reach for The Dry Leaves of Summer by Anna Jean Mayhew.

This time I opened it in the middle to check what the writing was like, not necessarily to engage in the plot.

At 2:30 a.m., I finished the last page, closed the book and turned out the light. When a book grips you so much you forget to watch the clock on a work night, it's worth sharing with your book group.

The next night I started at the beginning and read into the familiar parts of the story, which explained some questions I had about why the 13-year-old protagonist's father had beaten her, and how really did the girl's mother feel about Mary, the family's "help."

This is A.J. Mayhew's first book. She is 71 years old. I guess when she first approached potential publishers, Kathryn Stockett's The Help had just come out and some said why write another novel about racism in the South in the 1950-1960s? But at least one publisher encouraged her and thus, the book came out and has received a 4.4 (out of 5 stars) rating with 189 reviews on Amazon, and 3.8 after 919 reviews on GoodReads.

Some reviewers said they would have rated it more highly if they hadn't previously read The Help. Who knew timing was so important in the publishing world?

This week I'll find out how my book group members enjoyed it and what kind of rating they give it. Most, if not all, of us were around in 1954 when the story is set, albeit perhaps not walking or talking yet.


This past weekend, March 9-10, was the Tucson Festival of Books with plenty of free workshops and speakers and panels and books. I found out the festival committees don't invite authors unless the authors have published something within the previous 18 months.

Seems that's why many of them appear every other year. You'd think that would give readers plenty of time to catch up on these authors' newest books. Alas, some referred to books still on my Must Read List. I added their latest titles to the list and made a note to turn off the TV and READ MORE.

Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, March 18, 2013
Article comment by: Trish Zona

Yes, turn off the tv! If I'm going to read as much as I would like to, the choice is stop sleeping or stop watching tv. I have started asking myself, before watching any show, "What impact will it have on my life if I do not see this?" So far: NONE. Well, except I can't talk about who got kicked off Celebrity Apprentice with my secretary! I think that impacts her life more than mine. I will move my stack of unread books to the top of the entertainment center as a reminder of my priorities! Thank you for your always interesting blog, Ms. Tone.

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