Book Group–Grace!

It’s that time again everyone, book group discussion!!!  This month we are going to discuss the book “Grace” which was for the Girl Of The Year for 2014.  I will admit that Grace’s collection was probably one of my all time favorites, I have quite a few pieces from it.  I wasn’t quite as excited for the story when I initially heard about it, but first impressions can be wrong!

The book starts out with summer vacation and Grace along with her friends Maddy and Ella making plans for what they are going to do for the summer.  However, as that saying goes, “Life is what happens when you start making plans” and Grace suddenly finds out that she is going to be heading to Paris with her mother to help out her aunt who has been put on bed rest while pregnant.  She’s not too happy about it, but makes the best of things regardless.

I really enjoyed this book, and thought it was very well written.  We have no “nasty girl” situation, instead the issues between Grace and her cousin Sylvie contribute the conflict to the story.  Sylvie speaks no English and Grace speaks next to no French, so it creates a bit of a problem!  I saw some similarities to Kanani and her cousin in this part of the story, and I love how the girls eventually come to a resolution to their problems.

Other things I totally loved about Grace–lots of French words along with a very nice section at the end of the book explaining what they all mean.  I also totally related to Grace’s reaction to being on a plane for the first time.  I have a fascination with aviation, and there isn’t a plane trip that doesn’t go by that I don’t marvel at the technology involved as well as everything looking tiny as the plane climbs.

One thing that the book brought up that I thought was excellent was Grace’s difficulty in cooking while in France due to the fact that all of the measurements are in metric.  I had an issue one time with a recipe I was giving to a friend who lived in the UK due to this, and I have a friend who has complained of the reverse!  I also liked the fact that the difference between macaroons and macarons is explained.  Just one of those things that drives me crazy!

I also learned what gargoyles on old buildings are for.  I’ve seen my fair share of them on our trips to the UK and Ireland and never really gave it a thought, but they aren’t just there for decoration.  They are for diverting rain on buildings built long before gutters and rainspouts were invented.

I don’t want to give too much away, but we also learn how Bonbon the dog comes into Grace’s life.  I thought it was one of the cutest parts of the story.

Overall, I really liked this story, and since I bought the whole set, I’m looking forward to reading the other two.  The book seems like it’s thicker than some of the American Girl books, but it is kind of deceiving.  The pages are laid out a little bit different, but I don’t think the word count is all that much longer.  I found it a very easy read too, so it took no time at all to finish it.

Did you enjoy Grace?  What were some of your favorite parts of the book?

The book for March will be “Meet Felicity”.  April will be “Saige”.  There will be no book group for May due to prior commitments.  I am thinking I may do one over the summer, I will keep everyone posted.  Otherwise, we will pick it up again in the fall. 



November Book Group–“Aloha Kanani”

Hello everyone!  I can’t believe we are to the last Book Group get together for the year already, where did the time go?  I don’t know about you, but I really enjoyed “Aloha Kanani”!

I can say that so far, this is probably my favorite of all of the Girl Of The Year Books we’ve talked about.  I thought that it was a very well written book without some of the issues that bothered me with some of the previous ones we’ve discussed.

The set up for the story is very well done, and you can get a real feel for Kanani’s surroundings.  From the description of her room to the Akina’s store, I found it very easy to visualize in my mind.  The additional characters really rounded out the story, I especially enjoyed her aunties who came to the store with their daily goodies for Kanani to try!  As someone who grew up with a number of older relatives and family friends constantly around, I thought it was terrific that these characters were included and how they were presented.  The combination of the generations along with the tidbits of Hawaiian tradition were so well done and I found myself smiling the whole time I was reading the book.

There is a bit of conflict, but it’s more a case of misunderstanding instead of outright meanness.  There isn’t a villain or nasty person in this book, just two girls who come from completely different worlds not quite seeing things from the same way.  I also loved the part about the baby seal, it not only added a lot to the story, but also was a great lesson in how we shouldn’t interfere with wild animals if we don’t know what we are doing.  Especially timely given some stories that have recently hit the news with people thinking they are helping wildlife but in fact are doing more damage than good.

I’m not going to say much more because I don’t want to give too much away.  Just that I liked this book way more than I expected to and I’m going to look for the second one now!  That said, another thing I liked about it is the book is quite capable of standing alone without leaving the reader wondering what happens in the future books.  It’s a good story that does a very good job of telling the story with all of the necessary elements and having a true resolution at the end.

Did you like it?

Book group will resume in January once the holidays are over with.  January book will be “Meet Cecile” and February will be “Grace”.  The entire series of Grace Thomas books are still available on American Girl, so you have plenty of time to pick it up and read it between now and then!


June Book Group Read: Lea Dives In

Hello everybody! I hope you all are enjoying your summer so far. I realize that summer doesn’t officially start until next week, but tell that to Mother Nature. It’s been very hot here for the past few days and supposed to stay that way for a few more. Much more like July weather instead of June. But rather appropriate since we are talking about a book set in Brazil!

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book, but truthfully, I enjoyed it way more than I ever thought I would. First off, Lea is into photography, an area that is very close to my heart! And she was heading to somewhere in South America, and I’ve had a fascination with Mexico, Latin and South America ever since my 6th grade history course where we studied it in depth. So right off the bat, things were heading in the right direction.

First, we’ll start off with the things I didn’t like. I’m still not fond of the fact that we have these kids trekking off to foreign destinations all the time when there is so much within the United States that they could see and do, plus it would be a good way to learn some more history of our country. I was also very annoyed with American Girl initially promoting her as being a girl from Brazil, but when the book came out, we learn she is only 1/8 Brazilian. I’m a larger percentage of Irish than that, yet I don’t go around identifying as such! I’m hoping if American Girl has learned nothing else over this past year, they will quit trying to sweep ethnicity under the rug. I don’t understand why, especially with the GOTY line, they are so afraid of trying to show some diversity. This was a poor excuse of trying to be ethnically aware if you ask me.

The other thing that bugged me was the professions of her parents. Her mom is an architect and her dad is a college professor. Ring any bells???? I immediately thought of Lanie, same scenario exactly! Why they had to recycle this when it really had no bearing on the outcome of the story is beyond me. Can’t anyone come up with anything original anymore?

The good parts–right off the bat I was thrilled that we didn’t have to start off with an antagonistic character in the book. In fact, there wasn’t one period, other than the issues with her brother. And I loved how that was all handled, very realistic. As a youngest sibling, I can relate to how it feels when an older one leaves home and you feel left behind. I also loved how the story tied present time events with the things she read in her grandmother’s journal. I thought it was a great way to bring everything full circle with the compass and the camera. I also loved her description of the ocean as it was spot on. I remember being completely in awe of the turquoise color of the Caribbean last year when we went to Mexico.

My favorite part was her blossoming friendship with Camila and how they ended the book with the two of them with the dress and then later at the festival. I haven’t read the other books yet, so I don’t yet know how much more we see of Camila in this series, but I much preferred their interaction over some of the other Girl Of The Year books.

Overall, I really liked the book, and was pleasantly surprised with how it all turned out. We had conflict, but not so much nastiness and hatred like Isabella. We had an exciting event and Lea discovering all sorts of challenges that she needed to overcome. I won’t give anything away just in case you haven’t read it yet, but I would definitely recommend this book over some of the other GOTY ones I’ve read. This book is slightly longer than other American Girl books which gave more opportunity to expand the story which was a big plus. And to think I wasn’t a huge Lea fan initially!

Did you like Lea Dives In? Can’t wait to hear everyone’s opinions.