August’s Book of the Month Reads

It’s that time already! Hope everyone enjoyed last month’s picks – we certainly did. We asked you in our online meetings what you want us all reading, so some of these ideas are yours – August will see us reading and babbling about…

Holes – Louis Sachar

Camp Greenlake is a place for bad boys, where the belief is: “if you take a bad boy and make him dig a hole every day in the hot sun, it will turn him into a good boy.” When Stanley Yelnats, accused and found guilty of a crime he did not commit, is sent to Camp Greenlake he really doesn’t think it can be so bad. Stanley and his family try to pretend that he is just going away to camp like the rich kids do, and he promises to write to them every day. But the harsh realities of the camp, and the evil Warden with her lizard-venom impregnated fingernails with her own reasons for making the boys in her charge dig so many holes, sometimes make dying seem like a great idea. When Stanley leaves the camp to go in search of his friend Zero, their journey towards freedom becomes a battle with hunger, thirst and heat in the shadow of Big Thumb–a mountain so entwined in Stanley’s own family history that he knows if they can reach it they will somehow find salvation.

I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith

Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Mortmain wants to become a writer. Trouble is, she’s the daughter of a once-famous author with a severe case of writer’s block. Her family–beautiful sister Rose, brooding father James, ethereal stepmother Topaz–is barely scraping by in a crumbling English castle they leased when times were good. Now there’s very little furniture, hardly any food, and just a few pages of notebook paper left to write on. Bravely making the best of things, Cassandra gets hold of a journal and begins her literary apprenticeship by refusing to face the facts. She writes, “I have just remarked to Rose that our situation is really rather romantic, two girls in this strange and lonely house. She replied that she saw nothing romantic about being shut up in a crumbling ruin surrounded by a sea of mud.”

Rose longs for suitors and new tea dresses while Cassandra scorns romance: “I know all about the facts of life. And I don’t think much of them.” But romantic isolation comes to an end both for the family and for Cassandra’s heart when the wealthy, adventurous Cotton family takes over the nearby estate. Cassandra is a witty, pensive, observant heroine, just the right voice for chronicling the perilous cusp of adulthood.

Shiver – Maggie Stiefvater

Grace is fascinated by the wolves in the woods behind her house; one yellow-eyed wolf in particular. Every winter, she watches him but every summer, he disappears. Sam leads two lives. In winter he stays in the frozen woods, with the protection of the pack.n summer, he has a few precious months to be human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again. When Grace and Sam finally meet they realize they can’t bear to be apart. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human – or risk losing himself, and Grace, for ever.

Look good, don’t they? Do tell us in our poll which of these you’ll be reading with us. And remember, we have online meetings every Sunday 11-11.30am, so we can share what we think of these books there.

August Author in Residence: We’re excited to tell you that, as of today, we have an ‘author in residence’ – yippee! Ellen Renner will be popping by this month, chatting with us and offering us a fab signed giveaway. We’ve got an ‘Ellen’ thread in our forum and on our Facebook discussions wall now, so do add to those as Ellen will swing by and reply.