Mallory

Author Archives: Mallory

I’m Mallory Barnes, a fiction writer living in West Texas.My hope here is to encourage reading and discussion. In the digital age, we often live together so separately. Community and intellectual discussion are harder and harder to come by. I hope that Book Club Bites can help alleviate that by encouraging the birth and growth of book clubs.

Ask Again, Yes Book Club Questions and Recipe

*If you are new here, WELCOME! For Ask Again, Yes, I provide your book club with a brief summary, a recipe, and discussion questions in that order!

Ask Again Yes Book Club Questions and Recipe
Ask Again Yes Book Club Questions and Recipe
Ask Again Yes Book Club Questions and Recipe
Ask Again Yes Book Club Questions and Recipe

If your book club is looking for a book about second chances, a story about forgiveness despite continued messiness, a novel with characters that ring true-to-life, then Ask Again, Yes, should be on your list.

Ask Again, Yes is a novel about hope, about forgiveness and second chances, so despite dealing with some characters with serious flaws who do some pretty terrible things in the beginning, this novel left me feeling, well, hopeful in humanity.

Ask Again, Yes

Like many other readers on the web have noted, this novel starts off heavy and I’ll admit I had a little trouble getting into the novel because I kept expecting it to take darker and darker turns, but ultimately this wasn’t true.

The novel follows two families, the Stanhopes and the Gleesons, over a span of thirty years as their bonds to one another are tested time and again, almost severing on one terrible night.

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This Tender Land Book Club Questions and Recipe

*If you are new here, WELCOME! For This Tender Land, I provide your book club with a brief summary, a recipe, and discussion questions in that order!

This Tender Land Book Club Questions and Recipe
This Tender Land Book Club Questions and Recipe
This Tender Land Book Club Questions and Recipe
This Tender Land Book Club Questions and Recipe

If you’ve been stuck in a reading rut lately, especially due to the pandemic (or just life in general), then This Tender Land could be the next read for you. It’s a character-driven adventure story with all the feels, but it won’t leave you emotionally fatigued. I truly loved this book.

The novel centers around two young brothers and their two friends, a mute American Indian and a sweet-hearted girl with a mysterious gift. All four characters begin their journey at a brutal reformatory-like institution called the Lincoln Indian Training School. All four characters are orphans longing for family.

This Tender Land

The story follows the group as they make a narrow escape from the school after an accidental crime is committed and set out for a new home, making their journey down the Mississippi river. Along the way they encounter drifters, struggling farmers, and faith healers.

The book, set against the backdrop of the American midwest during the Great Depression, is a beautiful coming-of-age that explores questions of faith, love, and belonging.

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10 Black Lives Matter Novels Your Book Club Should Read

*If you are new here, WELCOME! In this post, I’ll share 10 Black Lives Matter Novels Your Book Club Should Read!

10 Black Lives Matter Novels Your Book Club Should Read
10 Black Lives Matter Novels Your Book Club Should Read

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. In the event of a sale, I will be awarded a small commission (at no extra cost to you or the featured book’s author). All opinions are 100% mine and every book, unless otherwise noted, is handpicked by me to be featured on the site.

In the recent Black Lives Matter movement and with Black History Month at hand, many book clubs are choosing books by black authors about the experience of being black in America (yes, even today) and about the call to eradicate racism.

Can racism truly ever be eradicated? I don’t know.

But, this year has been a year of examining our hearts in view of the often hidden racism that still exists in America. I say hidden because I think many people still struggle with acknowledging biases despite proclaiming otherwise.

Change starts by examining our own hearts and choosing to remove whatever hinders kindness to any member of the human race. That is the power each one of us holds.

Today I’m going to share with you not non-fiction books about the topic, but novels. There are lots of lists out on the internet right now about Black Lives Matter non-fiction. This is a list of fiction.

Sometimes fiction can help us lower our guard, peak over walls we didn’t know we had erected, and begin to empathize with someone far different than ourselves in a way that non-fiction can’t.

So, if your book club is considering choosing a novel for Black Lives Matter or Black History Month, check out these 10 novels.

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The Tattooist of Auschwitz Book Club Questions and Recipe

*If you are new here, WELCOME! For The Tattooist of Auschwitz, I provide your book club with a brief summary, a recipe, and discussion questions in that order!

The Tattooist of Auschwitz Book Club Questions and Recipe
The Tattooist of Auschwitz Book Club Questions and Recipe
The Tattooist of Auschwitz Book Club Questions and Recipe
The Tattooist of Auschwitz Book Club Questions and Recipe

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is one of the most popular books of recent years. It tells the true story of Lale Sokolov, who became the tattooist of Auschwitz during his many years at the concentration camp, tattooing numbers on incoming prisoners. One day, Lale tattoos the arm of a beautiful girl and, despite the circumstances, it is love at first sight. The book chronicles the love affair of Lale and Gita, their time at Auschwitz, and their struggle for survival.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

The novel is the debut of Heather Morris, who recently released a sequel titled Cilka’s Journey. If you’ve read the novel, you recognize the name from one of the characters.

Morris originally wrote the novel as a screenplay after meeting Lale Sokolov and learning his story. For years she tried to get film interest. When that faltered, she rewrote the story in novel form.

Unfortunately, to me, the novel read like a screenplay that had been lightly filled in with narrative. The story itself is fascinating and, while it could have been one of the best novels I’ve ever read based on the story alone, it fell flat to me due to the sparse writing. I often felt like I was being told, “Lale did this or that,” rather than experiencing what happened through Lale’s narrative.

The good news is that you may not read it in the same way I did. Many readers have absolutely fallen in love with the novel. There are over 25,000 Amazon reviews alone, which is unheard of. And, while I felt like the writing wasn’t what I normally expect from a novel, I did enjoy learning Lale’s story.

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Pride and Prejudice Book Club Questions and Recipe

*If you are new here, WELCOME! For Pride and Prejudice, I provide your book club with a brief summary, a recipe, and discussion questions in that order!

Pride and Prejudice Book Club Questions and Recipe
Pride and Prejudice Book Club Questions and Recipe
Pride and Prejudice Book Club Questions and Recipe
Pride and Prejudice Book Club Questions and Recipe

What is there not to love about Pride and Prejudice? It is a book about nothing and everything at the same time. I love how it’s mundane and extraordinary. That it’s about relationships, which are the most important things in life.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Jane Austen was only 21 when she first drafted the book we would later know as Pride and Prejudice. And, even at that young age, she was able to capture the nuances of love and friendship and family so beautifully. It took 17 years before it was finally published, but, thankfully for all of us, it was. It’s popularity has only grown in the last few decades with well-done television and film adaptions.

I have read Pride and Prejudice at least four times. As many people have said, each reread of a Jane Austen work brings something new to the surface, some intricacy you missed before. Even now, two hundred years after its publication, Pride and Prejudice remains a timeless masterpiece that can speak through the changes of history right to the heart of the reader.

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Wuthering Heights Book Club Questions and Recipe

*If you are new here, WELCOME! For Wuthering Heights, I provide your book club with a brief summary, a recipe, and discussion questions in that order!

Wuthering Heights Book Club Questions and Recipe
Wuthering Heights Book Club Questions and Recipe
Wuthering Heights Book Club Questions and Recipe
Wuthering Heights Book Club Questions and Recipe

Wuthering Heights was the first and only novel of Emily Bronte. Bronte, whose famous sisters Charlotte and Anne were also writers, published the novel under a male alias, Ellis Bronte in 1847 just before her death.

It is a dark tale of passion and obligation, of tortured hearts and unmet longings, and, most importantly, of the destruction revenge brings. Destruction, not so much on the victims of the revenge, but on the tormentor.

For some readers it is the most sadly beautiful star-crossed lover tale. For others, it is a stark and cautionary tale of unforgiveness wrought into bitterness. For book clubs, it is ripe with discussion.

Whatever your feelings on Heathcliff and the onslaught he delivers, Bronte’s writing is superb. Her character development is amazing and the plot will have you wondering what in the world could happen next.

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Anxious People Book Club Questions and Recipe

*If you are new here, WELCOME! For Anxious People, I provide your book club with a brief summary, a recipe, and discussion questions in that order!

Anxious People Book Club Questions and Recipe
Anxious People Book Club Questions and Recipe
Anxious People Book Club Questions and Recipe
Anxious People Book Club Questions and Recipe

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman is a story about eight strangers who find themselves taken hostage by a desperate bank robber. Now that you have formed a thought about what a story like that might be like, ball it up, and throw it in the trash. Because that’s exactly what Backman, in his genius, does.

Anxious People by
Fredrik Backman

The story takes place at an apartment viewing where a bank robber who has failed to properly rob the bank across the street stumbles into eight strangers and the situation escalates into a hostage situation. What is usually a high-stakes thriller in the hands of other authors turns into a comedy about the compassion each of us requires simply to wake up and face another day.

As each of the hostages and finally bank robber reveals their deepest struggles, Backman moves the reader to examine her own needs and to consider the ways she can show kindness to those hurting around her. Much like in A Man Called Ove, nothing on the surface of these characters can be quite trusted and throughout the book Backman pulls back layer after layer compelling the characters and the reader towards compassion.

It is one of the best books I’ve read in quite some time. I found myself scribbling down poignant truth after truth. There is a way Backman disarms the reader with comedy and then delivers a blow to the heart. He’s done it time after time in all his novels and I encourage you to read more of his books! Find the list here!

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The Exiles Book Club Questions and Recipe

*If you are new here, WELCOME! For The Exiles, I provide your book club with a brief summary, a recipe, and discussion questions in that order!

The Exiles Book Club Questions and Recipe
The Exiles Book Club Questions and Recipe
The Exiles Book Club Questions and Recipe
The Exiles Book Club Questions and Recipe

Christina Baker Kline is the novelist who wrote the hit Orphan Train a few years ago. If you haven’t read Orphan Train, I encourage your book club to consider it for your list. If you have, I think you’ll enjoy the new book out by Christina Baker Kline, The Exiles.

The Exiles, like Orphan Train, is based on true historical events, namely the passage and establishment of English convicts to the island that would later become Australia.

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline

The book, also like Orphan Train, is told from multiple intersecting storylines. The book follows two female convicts as they cross the ocean and eventually land in Australia and one aboriginal child as she is “adopted” by an English family on the island.

I really loved this novel and was fascinated by the time period and historical details as well as the characters’ stories. I was somewhat disappointed in some of the plot, but overall I thought it was a great read and worth book club attention.

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10 Christmas Novels Your Book Club Should Read

*If you are new here, WELCOME! In this post, I’ll share 10 Christmas Novels Your Book Club Should Read!

10 Christmas Novels Your Book Club Should Read
10 Christmas Novels Your Book Club Should Read

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. In the event of a sale, I will be awarded a small commission (at no extra cost to you or the featured book’s author). All opinions are 100% mine and every book, unless otherwise noted, is handpicked by me to be featured on the site.

In this post, I’m going to share 10 Christmas Novels Your Book Club Should Read. These novels, ranging from romance to suspense to women’s fiction, are a wonderful holiday addition for your book club. If you are looking for the Happily Ever After with a Christmas tilt, they will leave you more than satisfied.

Last holiday season, in my post Hallmark Christmas for Booklovers, I shared gift ideas for booklovers who also love Hallmark shows. Specifically, I highlighted these shows: Chesapeake Shores, Cedar Cove, When Calls the Heart, At Home in Mitford, and Love Comes Softly. If you love those shows or are an avid Hallmark fan and are looking for unique gift ideas, check out the post.

I also created a post of 14 Christmas Romance Novels for Hallmark Fans. That list includes 14 books from the Hallmark press that you will love if you love Hallmark Channel Holiday movies. If you didn’t know, Hallmark has it’s own publishing company. That’s right, the eponymous Channel has it’s own line of books.

If you are someone who sticks your nose up at Hallmark’s Holiday Extravaganza (I get it), still check out this list. In this list you won’t just find Romance, but Suspense, Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction and more. There’s sure to be something your book club will love.

Now, let’s take a look at the holiday-themed books you’ll love this year! The books below are organized by category, so find your book club’s favorite and pick one or three books to enjoy this holiday season!

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One Day in December Book Club Questions and Recipe

*If you are new here, WELCOME! For One Day in December, I provide your book club with a brief summary, a recipe, and discussion questions in that order!

One Day in December Book Club Questions and Recipe
One Day in December Book Club Questions and Recipe
One Day in December Book Club Questions and Recipe
One Day in December Book Club Questions and Recipe

One Day in December is Josie Silver’s debut novel, released in 2018. It was featured in Reese’s Book Club and has gone on to be a New York Times bestseller.

While this isn’t your Pulitzer prize winning book club pick, it is a really great love story with true-to-life characters and a love triangle plot that will have you reading until the end. It is a wonderful read if you’ve just finished something heavy. And, (hint hint title), it’s a great read for the holidays.

To give you a quick idea of whether or not you’ll like the novel, consider if you liked Bridget Jones’s Diary or Love Actually. If you did, then you’ll love this novel, which has similar themes as both books.

One Day in December by Josie Silver

While some reviewers have classified this as a rom-com, I would say it leans just outside of that category and into the women’s fiction category by a hair. While you will get some of the classic rom-com feel, the characters also deal with some deeper internal struggles than you see in pure romance. The primary conflict arises because the main character cannot confess to her close-as-a-sister best-friend that the man she’s fallen in love with is the man the main character already fell in love with.

Friendship and what it means, what loyalties it asks of a person, is the primary issue explored. In addition, the main character experiences a self-discovery growth arc, as do several other characters.

One Day in December is also written in an interesting form, telling the story in short scenes that spread out over a period of ten years. Silver did a masterful job creating a unique form where such a long stretch of time is covered without leaving the reader feeling frustrated or confused.

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