Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August Discussion: DEVILS IN DAYLIGHT by Junichiro Tanizaki

Devils in Daylight Junichiro Tanizaki

Welcome to our August Readalong discussion of Junichiro Tanizaki's Devils in Daylight. Since this book is so short (87 pages not counting the afterword), we will have only one discussion post. Feel free to join in the conversation at any time this month!

But first, here's the summary from Goodreads:

One morning, Takahashi, a writer who has just stayed up all night working, is interrupted by a phone call from his old friend Sonomura: barely able to contain his excitement, Sonomura claims that he has cracked a secret cryptographic code based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Gold-Bug and now knows exactly when and where a murder will take place—and they must hurry if they want to witness the murder, because it’s later that very night! Sonomura has a history of lunacy and playing the amateur detective, so Takahashi is of course reluctant to believe him. Nevertheless, they stake out the secret location, and through tiny peepholes in the knotted wood, become voyeurs at the scene of a shocking crime…
Atmospheric, erotic, and tense, Devils in Daylight is an early work by the master storyteller who “created a lifelong series of ingenious variations on a dominant theme: the power of love to energize and destroy” (Chicago Tribune).
Bonus! This book is a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe's The Gold-Bug. If you haven't read this story yet (and I think you definitely will want to after reading Devils in Daylight), you can download it for free from Project Gutenberg or listen to Vincent Price read it on YouTube.

Devils in Daylight Discussion

  1. First of all! What did you think of the book as a whole? Was it what you expected?
  2. This book feels very modern even though it was written nearly a hundred years ago. Do you agree? What do you think are the modern elements?
  3. What were the most disturbing or creepy parts of the story for you?
  4. As mentioned before, this book not only references but retells Poe's The Gold-Bug. Have you heard of or read this story before? Would you describe Devils in Daylight as "EAP-ic"? What about The Gold-Bug would you say appealed to Tanizaki?
  5. What did you think of the passage of time in this book? Do you think that was deliberate on the author's part, and if so, why?
  6. The book's summary mentions Tanizaki wrote books about "the power of love to energize and destroy." Do you think this book fits into that theme?
  7. Another theme in the book is madness. What do you think the characters mean when they talk about going mad? Do you think Sonomura is actually crazy?
  8. What did you think of the ending? (Since this is spoilerific, I encourage you to respond with a simple substitution cipher like the one from The Gold-Bug. You can make one up/decode the responses on your own or, if you're lazy, use an automatic cryptogram program).
  9. Any other things you noticed and want to discuss.

Respond in the comments or paste in a link back if you responded somewhere else!

Monday, July 31, 2017

THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas: Week Four Discussion & Challenge

Welcome to our final discussion and challenge for THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas!

CHAPTER 20:  Starr and Seven are suspended, but the real surprise is when they arrive home to the Cedar Grove King Lords and Garden Disciples meeting peacefully in their kitchen.  How do you think Mav managed this?

CHAPTER 21:  Starr's worlds collide at Seven's graduation and birthday party.  How did you think it went?  What did she learn from the encounter?

CHAPTER 22:  There is so much pain throughout this chapter.  Share what impacts you the most.

CHAPTER 23:  Responses to the grand jury verdict are exploding.  Starr feels like she needs to do something, but struggles with her response and what is going down around her.  As the reader/spectator, what were your thoughts?

CHAPTER 24:  Starr uses her voice as a weapon, just as Ms. Ofrah tells her to do.  Do you think it makes a difference?

CHAPTER 25:  The huge turn of events came when Mav snitched on the King Lord, followed by a multitude of neighbors to support the claim.  How did this change the feeling of the story as a whole?

CHAPTER 26:  The ending to this book was powerful in so many ways, but it wouldn't have been as powerful if the journey was not traveled from page one. How has this book changed your life or more simply, opened your eyes to a world different from your own?



After reading this book, what does it inspire you to do out in the real world to make it a better place?  How will you continue to challenge yourself?



Thank you so much for joining me on this journey this month!  

Monday, July 24, 2017

THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas: Week Three Discussion & Challenge

Welcome to week three of discussion and challenges for THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas!

CHAPTER 13:  We learn more details on Khalil's decisions and current circumstances.  Knowing this extra information, does it change how you view him?

CHAPTER 14:  Comment on this quote.
"That's the problem.  We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us.  What's the point of having a voice if you're gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn't be?" (252)

CHAPTER 15:  Let's talk about the friendship between Starr and Hailey.  It seems to be on edge, even before the death of Khalil.  Starr's mama recommends she makes a list of pros and cons.  What do you think Starr will discover if and when she makes this list?

CHAPTER 16:  Starr is being interviewed for a TV special.  The chapter ends with her final blow, and it was the first time her parents have heard some of the details she discloses.  What did you think of the interview as well as the potential reactions to those listening?

CHAPTER 17:  The big dance has arrived, but it does not get off on a good foot between Starr and Chris.  Comment on the night's events.

CHAPTER 18:  The night before her appearance in front of the grand jury, Starr's home is targeted by a drive-by shooting.  Who do you think was behind this violence?  Why?

"Brave doesn't mean you're not scared, Starr," she says.  "It means you go on even though you're scared.  And you're doing that." (331)
Starr's mom leaves her with this advice before she enters the grand jury room. Do you think Starr was able to internalize this message?



Reading can help build empathy and take readers into the shoes of those different from themselves.  Find a favorite book that will take a reader into a world unbeknownst to them and pass it on to a friend or stranger.



Next week, we will be chatting about the remainder of the book.  Don't forget to share your thoughts, comments, and challenges using the hashtag #12mos12rals!

Monday, July 17, 2017

THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas: Week Two Discussion & Challenge

Welcome to week two of discussion and challenges!  This book is seriously sending me on a roller coaster ride of emotions, so let's just dive right into the questions today.

CHAPTER 8:  Khalil's funeral celebrates him, until the Lords show up and place a handkerchief on his chest.  Starr is shocked.  How did this make you feel?

CHAPTER 9:  Choose one quote listed below and comment on it.
"Bullets don't know where they're supposed to go." (137)
"I can call Garden Heights the ghetto all I want.  Nobody else can."  (139)
"Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong.  The key is to never stop doing right."  (154)

CHAPTER 10:  This chapter delves deep into many topics, from Harry Potter as a book about gangbangers to Tupac's music and the Thug Life.  Share your thoughts and comments as you read.

CHAPTER 11:  Starr's worlds continue to collide at the beginning of this chapter when a protest breaks out at her school.  Share your thoughts on the protest, the reasons behind it, and the characters' reactions.  OR, take on the second half of the chapter instead and address the encounter between Starr's dad and the police.

CHAPTER 12:  Starr decided to talk, to ensure that Khalil's life matters.  As you read this chapter, what did you think and/or feel?



This week's readings had me writing down so many quotes that really impacted me.  Let's run with that this week for our challenge as well.  Find your favorite quote addressing social justice and put it out in the world.  Share it via social media, create it on an index card and drop it around your community.  You decide how you want to share it, spreading your quote and social justice love.



Next week, we will be chatting about Chapters 13-19.  Don't forget to share your thoughts, comments, and challenges using the hashtag #12mos12rals!

Monday, July 10, 2017

THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas: Week One Discussion & Challenge

Welcome to the first week of discussion for THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas!  I am so excited to start discussing this one with you, but first I have got to know what your initial thoughts are about the book.  Are you enjoying it?  Do you feel it is a page-turner?  Does it make you have certain feelings or thoughts while reading it?

Now, for the official discussion questions.  This month, I have decided to try something a little different.  I have listed one question per chapter.  I wanted to break down this book into a little more detail, and it gives the extra added perk of being able to answer questions at your own reading pace.  As per the usual chatter, I encourage you to answer any or all of the questions, whichever may strike your discussion fancy.

CHAPTER 1:  Our main character Starr writes, "Funny how it works with white kids though.  It's dope to be black until it's hard to be black." (11)  What do you think she means with this statement?

CHAPTER 2:  Starr had two talks growing up:  the birds and the bees and the other being what to do if she was ever stopped by a cop.  She hoped Khalil had that talk too.  Comment.

CHAPTER 3:  The day after the shooting, life goes on as usual.  How do you find Starr coping?  How about those around her?

CHAPTER 4:  Starr wakes to find her Daddy and Uncle Carlos fighting about whether she should report her evidence from the night of Khalil's death.  Take one side of this argument and share your own thoughts on what Starr should do.

CHAPTER 5:  We get to see the other side of Starr - Williamson Starr.  Out of the blue, both worlds collide as she is talking to her boyfriend, Chris.  She has a flashback of the night Khalil dies.  Discuss both the separation and the collision of her worlds.

CHAPTER 6:  This chapter ends with "This gonna be some bullshit."  What feelings does this incite?

CHAPTER 7:  "Chris didn't pull us over, he didn't shoot Khalil, but am I betraying who I am by dating him?" (106)  What thoughts and/or feelings does this quote leave you with?



As I mentioned in the introduction post, each week I am going to leave you with a challenge.  Some of these challenges will encourage you to act.  Others will simply encourage you to ponder.  Hopefully, all of them will challenge you to consider where you are currently at, what you believe, and how you can make this world a little better place.

This week, share other books addressing social justice topics.  You may share by listing titles in the comments.  You can share recommendations on social media or give personal recommendations.  Then, take it one step further and consider . . . What will you do to take those social justice issues beyond the book?


Next week, we will be chatting about Chapters 8-12.  Don't forget to share your thoughts, comments, and challenges using the hashtag #12mos12rals!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Join Us For THE HATE U GIVE and a Challenge!

Good Morning, and Welcome to July!

This month here at Book Bloggers International, we are going to be chatting about THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas.  We are not only going to be chatting about this book this month and how it relates to our current state of the world, but I am also going to be throwing a challenge out there for you each week.  But first, let us look at the book we will be reading together (description from Goodreads) . . .
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Each week, we will read a select group of chapters and then discuss the content in those chapters.  Some may feel that they need to fly through the book without sticking to the schedule.  That is okay.  The only thing I ask is that we do not share spoilers for the parts of the book that we have not yet discussed.  In other words, you can read ahead, but don't discuss ahead of the schedule!

July 3: Introductions & Reading Schedule 
July 10: Chapters 1-7 
July 17: Chapters 8-12 
July 24: Chapters 13-19 
July 31: Chapters 20-26

Before we close out, there are two additional items we need to address . . . introductions and our weekly challenge.

INTRODUCE YOURSELF:  If you will be reading and/or discussing along with us, chime in on the comments below.  Or, post about it on your own blog and share the link in the comments.  Tell us where you will be sharing any additional thoughts in the social media world as you read (i.e., Twitter, Instagram, etc.).

WEEKLY CHALLENGE:  As the name of the title implies, we are going to be addressing HATE.  Let's start out our month and our readalong with a little bit of LOVE.  I challenge you to perform one random act of kindness this week, then check in below in the comments section and let us know if you completed it.  You do not need to share details because that kind of defeats the purpose of the random act of kindness, but do let us know that you performed an act of some sort and your own personal response.

Happy Reading!  I look forward to reading this one with you all this month!

Monday, June 26, 2017

A TRIFLE DEAD Week 4 Discussion

a trifle dead livia day

This week marks the end of our A Trifle Dead readalong. I hope you all had fun with this quirky mystery! I'll share some concluding thoughts on the book at the end of this post. Don't forget about Tif's readalong of The Hate U Give coming in July.

This final discussion post contains SPOILERS. I tried to be as vague as possible as to the identity of the Trapper, but it's impossible to discuss what happened without a few major plot reveals, so if you haven't finished the book yet you may want to avert your eyes. In the meantime, you can read the discussion posts for chapters 1-8, 9-14, and 15-20.

royal tasmanian botanical gardens hobart
Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens in Hobart
Photo by Sally Cummings via Flickr
I thought the conclusion of A Trifle Dead was really well-done, even though I had guessed the identity of the Trapper about halfway through the book. I think if there's one thing we've learned from this novel, it's not to trust people who eat their side salads.

One of the funniest scenes in this section is when Tabitha gets cranky about the sandwich her kidnapper makes for her:

He came back a while later with a doorstop dark rye sandwich on a plate, looking pleased with himself. ‘I know you like pesto, and smoked salmon, and semi-dried tomatoes, not sun-dried. There’s some baby spinach in there, too.’ Hipster food. My stomach gurgled anyway. Talking about murder raises an appetite... Best not mention that I hate the combination of smoked salmon and semi-dried tomato. Could have been worse. Could have been capers.

Whatevs, girl, capers and salmon are a god-given combo. Tabitha also takes issue with her tea:

He had put sugar in it, which annoyed me. I only take sugar in coffee. For a stalker, he sure hadn’t been paying much attention to my actual likes and dislikes.

Ha! How inconsiderate of him. Wth is hipster food, though, I wondered. Naturally Buzzfeed is here to give us (me) the answer, with a supes-helpful listical showing "regular food" versus "hipster food." Including hipster sandwiches! After reading that Buzzfeed post, I don't think Tabitha has ANY room to complain about hipster food, considering what she serves at her cafĂ©. Miss ‘tofu and ricotta salad roll, deconstructed.’

Moving on, do you guys have any idea what a "blueberry syrup cake," the cake Tabitha made for Bishop before she was kidnapped, is? When I googled it I mainly got recipes for blueberry syrup. Is it like a poke cake with blueberry syrup poured in the holes, or more like this recipe where the syrup is mixed into the batter before baking? Or just cake covered in blueberry syrup? It sounded more unstable than that.

But in positive news, we FINALLY get Tabitha's trifle recipe in the final chapter. Her recipe for espresso cup mocha trifles is:

Chocolate jelly. Coffee custard. A dash of sour cherry curd, for contrast. Tiny specks of tiramisu sponge dotted throughout, and whole marinated cherries sitting fat and juicy on top of the cups.

There were also some more trifle recipes at the end of the book, although I have no idea where they came from. Day's readers? Friends and family? It would have been nice to have an introduction to that section, but maybe I missed it. What I do know is those recipes sounded like a lot of work.

Personally I enjoyed A Trifle Dead more than a trifle (see what I did there?). It was really fun, fast-paced, super quirky, and I loved the setting and the food talk. I also appreciated that there were other mysteries about the characters outside of the central mystery of who the Trapper was. I didn't care a ton about those mysteries, but they added layers to the book that made it more than a silly mystery.

One frustrating aspect of the novel was the whole Bishop/Stewart situation. I cooled on Bishop during the second half of the book for various reasons, but I'm not really feeling Stewart either. Meanwhile, Tabitha seems to be feeling both of them equally. PICK A SIDE!

What did you think of A Trifle Dead? Did you try any of the trifle recipes? Notice anything I missed? Let us know in the comments and thanks for reading along with me this month!