Wednesday, August 20, 2008

August 2008 Book Club Meeting and September Selection (and a Giveaway)

Summary: Like other well-meaning mothers, Julie Mueller’s believed she did the right thing when she secretly ended her teenage daughter’s crush on Michael Slayton, a wild older neighborhood heartthrob with a penchant for Shakespeare and the pedigree of trailer trash.

Twenty years later, Betty Mueller has come to realize that was a big mistake. Her daughter Julie – divorced and raising a teenage daughter alone – is a workaholic obsessed with her career. And Michael, the one man who could make her happy, is the one man to whom she won’t speak.

Now dying and determined to make amends, Betty stages her last great feat of motherhood by reuniting the couple in a dessert class where she hopes the sweetness of a chocolate almond Torta Caprese will erase the bitterness of a wretched misunderstanding.

“Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said thy edge should blunter be than appetite,” Shakespeare once pleaded—though it will require more than poetry and passion fruit for Julie and Michael to renew their love.

It will, in fact, require the sweetest sacrifice of all. -- Dutton

Last night, my book club met to discuss SWEET LOVE by Sarah Strohmeyer. We all thoroughly enjoyed this novel! I thought about making one of the recipes listed on Ms. Strohmeyer's website, but I chickened out last minute. They were a little more work than I wanted to do today since I had to clean too! Instead, I made a recipe that would be more worthy of Julie's mom than Chef D'Ours -- Brownie Delight! It was a brownie base, with a sweet whipped cream cheese layer, than a chocolate pudding layer, and then cool whip on top. It was supposed to have pecans on it, but I used chopped up Heath bars instead -- very yummy if I do say so myself! But, I digress....

We all agreed that SWEET LOVE was a great book; and some of us were surprised by how much "deeper" the book was than what we were expecting. Some really serious issues were touched upon including murder, homelessness, breast cancer and eating disorders. I was surprised that each one of us took something a little different away from this book. One of the girls appreciated how Sarah was able to incorporate a little mystery into the middle pages of the book. A few of us really liked the way she included information about the cooking classes and desserts into the story. I guess that means that there was a little something for everyone.

After I posted that we would be reading SWEET LOVE for our August book club meeting, Ms. Strohmeyer contacted me through my blog and graciously offered to "help." I jumped at the opportunity to ask her for an author chat. I am so glad that she agreed! Sarah was incredibly sweet and so much fun -- we all loved her! She's exactly what you'd imagine the author of this book to be.

When I asked her what the inspiration was for SWEET LOVE, she told us that she wanted to write a book that expressed how she felt about losing her mother. Sarah definitely struck a chord with one of our members -- she said that she had to close the book because she was tearing up at the hair salon. She felt that the book did an amazing job of expressing how she felt when her mother passed away.

I mentioned in my review that I thought this book was really about mother-daughter relationships; and we all liked how she was able to show how a 40-something woman serves in both roles (just like so many of us.) There were also some wonderful examples about the strength and resilience of female relationships. Both Julie and her mother Betty were involved in great friendships with other women. We all agreed that we'd love to be part of a friendship like Betty had her with life-long friends. When Betty was diagnosed with breast cancer, her two friends were there for her in every way (even when her husband wasn't.) And who wouldn't love having a best friend like Liza? She was always there for Julie (even when she was out of town) and trying to make life better for Julie.

I think most of us felt like we could relate (at least a little) to Julie especially as she meets up again with her high-school sweetheart. One or two of the girls even started talking about recent experiences where they met their childhood crushes. I love that this book generated those kind of discussions; and I think we all agree that we learned a lot about each other tonight.

I happen to have one extra copy of SWEET LOVE that I received from the publisher. I'd love to share it with one of you, but I have to warn you that the inside cover in the back of the book is creased (it came to me that way.) To enter the contest, please leave a comment after this post with your e-mail address. To double your chances, blog about this contest and leave me the link. The contest will be open until Sunday, August 24th at 11:59 p.m. Unfortunately, this contest is open to U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. Good Luck!

For September, we will be reading WHISTLING IN THE DARK by Lesley Kagan. I am very excited because I have wanted to read this book even since I saw it at Target over a year ago. I have heard so many wonderful things about this book and Ms. Kagan; and I'm looking forward to our discussion in a few weeks.

Summary: It was the summer on Vliet Street when we all started locking our doors...

Sally O'Malley made a promise to her daddy before he died. She swore she'd look after her sister, Troo. Keep her safe. But like her Granny always said-actions speak louder than words. Now, during the summer of 1959, the girls' mother is hospitalized, their stepfather has abandoned them for a six pack, and their big sister, Nell, is too busy making out with her boyfriend to notice that Sally and Troo are on the Loose. And so is a murderer and molester.

Highly imaginative Sally is pretty sure of two things. Who the killer is. And that she's next on his list. Now she has no choice but to protect herself and Troo as best she can, relying on her own courage and the kindness of her neighbors. -- NAL Paperbacks

41 comments:

planetbooks said...

Please throw my name in the hat for this one!
PlanetBooksWorldWide(at)gmail(dot)com

Thank You!!
XO-K

Cheryl said...

Ok so now I really want to read Sweet Love.

I loved WHISTLING IN THE DARK. I can't wait to hear what your book group thinks of it

Shana said...

Julie, I enjoyed your review of Sweet Love. I agree - that cover is *gorgeous*!

My book club read Whistling in the Dark and it was one of the rare books that everyone enjoyed. I hope you love it and can't wait to hear your thoughts!

bookfool said...

I wish Sarah Strohmeyer would write another "Bubbles" book...they were always good for a giggle or two!

Tracy said...

Yeah! This one sounds "Sweet" Thanks for the giveaway!
bookroomreviews@hotmail.com

Julie P. said...

Bookfool,
Ms. Strohmeyer actually mentioned that she might revisit the Bubbles series! There's definitely hope!

Serena said...

sounds like a good book. I'd like to be entered into the contest.

Jersey Shore Deb said...

This book sounds great! I'd love to win it.
ruthsgirl61@yahoo.com

dolls123 said...

Great book

luckydolls123[at]verizon[dot]net

Bonnie said...

Julie,

Thanks for the great review and giveaway! I would love to read this book so please add my name to the contest. Your book club sounds like a great one and how cool to have the author join you by phone!
We've never done that with my book club but think it would be fun.

I've blogged about your giveaway here:
http://redladysreadingroom-redlady.blogspot.com/2008/08/more-giveaways-to-check-out.html

bermudaonion said...

Enter me, please! milou2ster2@gmail.com

Ruby (Mouth) said...

Book looks very fun and I don't mind the crease at all. Thsnk for the giveaway!

kristybee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kristybee said...

Pretty please enter me my sweet lovely friend :)
kristybee05@bellsouth.net

sarahw said...

i found you blog just browsing and it looks pretty interesting. please enter my name in the draw.
thanks,
sarahwoll at hotmail dot com

Yan said...

I would love to win! The cover simply sweet!

ylin.0621[at]yahoo.com

Corwink said...

Thanks for the great review of Sweet Love. The dessert you made for your book club sounds like pure heaven. I would love a chance to win this book. Thanks for offering such a great book.

KellyGirlKnits@Gmail.com

pintolinda said...

Please enter me in the giveaway. I can imagine Julie wanting to put things right before she died. I want to read the book and find out if she did.
pintolinda (at) hotmail (dot) com

Maja said...

angelina115@hotmail.com

I'd love to win it.

Anita Yancey said...

Would love to read. Please enter me.
ayancey@dishmail.net

linett said...

sounds like a book I would like to read

photoquest said...

This sounds like a wonderful Book! I would love to be entered into your contest! thanks photoquest(at)bellsouth(dot)net

Stephanie said...

This sounds like a "sweet" read! Please enter my name in the drawing!
Stephanie
wordblog@verizon.net

traveler said...

I enjoyed Whistling in the Dark. What a memorable and wonderful novel. Your choice is delightful and it interests me greatly. Thanks for this giveaway.
saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

AJ said...

I would love to read this.

AJ1014[at]gmail[dot]com

Anna said...

Please enter me! This sounds like a great book!

--Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)

diaryofaneccentric[at]hotmail[dot]com

sweetsue said...

This sounds like a fun book, I have always liked books that discuss food and have recipes. I got my best recipes from Fried Green Tomatoes!

emilymackenzie said...

Loved your review!

I have just called together a book club and am shopping around for the first book. This looks like it could be the winner!

emilymackenzie@hotmail.com

Thanks,

Emily

Brenda S. said...

sounds like a good book. I'd like to be entered into the contest.

Thank you.

AmandaSue said...

This sounds like a really good book, expectually since the mother is trying to make things right even after so long.

Buki Family said...

sounds good. as a new mom I hope and pray that i wont meddle... but somehow i dont think that will happen ... we just want the best. just to remember that we dont always know what is best

Carol said...

I'd love to win this! Thank you!
mittens0831 AT aol DOT com

blueviolet said...

Your review is wonderful. It's so tempting for moms to step in and interfere in their kids' relationships, isn't it? Sometimes it's the right thing and sometimes it's not. The book sounds great and I would love reading it.
doot65{at}comcast[dot]net
Elizabeth

Jackie B. said...

I would like to be entered to win a copy of this book please. Thanks for hosting this giveaway!

Lisa said...

Sounds like a good book. Thanks for considering me.

Sharon said...

Sounds Great! Please count me in. THANKS
fenway07@msn.com

Teresa said...

This books sounds great! Thanks for the chance to win!

klp1965 said...

PLEASE COUNT ME IN ON THIS AWESOME GIVEAWAY :)

Theresa N. said...

I'd love to win this book.
Theresa n
weceno(at)yahoo(dot)com

kaylee8 said...

This sounds like a fabulous end-of-summer read!

Heather said...

Oh, boy. I'm a crier, so this book will require extra water portions and tissues by the reading chair, I imagine. Count me in. Thank you.