RECIPE for Vegan Chocolate Mousse

Why – you might ask – is there a recipe on a blog devoted to books?  Because this group discussion ranges far and wide.  In fact the discovery of a dinosaur being called the Chicken from Hell is actually relevant to our discussion this morning.  So here’s the recipe – from Debra’s Natural Gourmet in West Concord.

1 Ripe Avocado

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup raw agave nectar

1/4 cup almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.  Serve chilled or put in the freezer for 1/2 hour for a frosty treat.

Plan to join us next October when we regroup – you never know what you’ll learn.


Next series will begin in October (date to be determined) when we will begin by talking about what we read over the summer – so keep notes.

Here is the list of just a few of the books that we have read and enjoyed.

The list of books that we really like:

 The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas – Jerry Dennis The Living Great Lakes is the most complete book ever written about the history, nature, and science of these remarkable lakes at the heart of North America.

 My Venice and other Essays – Donna Leon My Venice and Other Essays is a treat for lovers of Italy and La Serenissima. Collected here are over fifty funny, charming, passionate, and insightful essays that range from battles over garbage in the canals to troubles with rehabbing Venetian real estate. 

 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy surely this doesn’t need a description

 The Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela – Here, at last, are the riveting memoirs of one of the great moral and political figures of our time, an international hero whose accomplishments won him the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize–and recently the elected leadership of his country. Mandela’s story is one of the most powerful and inspiring of the 20th century. 

 Sophie’s Choice – William Styron – Three stories are told: a young Southerner wants to become a writer; a turbulent love-hate affair between a brilliant Jew and a beautiful Polish woman; and of an awful wound in that woman’s past–one that impels both Sophie and Nathan toward destruction.

 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte -Poetic, complex and grand in its scope, Emily Brontë’s masterpiece is considered one of the most unique gothic novels of its time.

 A Tale of Two Cities – Charles DickensA Tale of Two Cities is a novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution.

 America, America – Ethan Canin – Ethan Canin’s stunning novel is about America as it was and is, a remarkable exploration of how vanity, greatness, and tragedy combine to change history and fate.

 Stones from the River – Ursula Helgi – Ursula Hegi brings us a timeless and unforgettable story in Trudi and a small town, weaving together a profound tapestry of emotional power, humanity, and truth.

 War and Remembrance – Herman Wouk – Follows the various members of the Henry family as they become involved in the events preceeding America’s involvement in World War II and captures all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of the Second World War

 Exodus – Leon Uris – “Passionate summary of the inhuman treatment of the Jewish people in Europe, of the exodus in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to Palestine, and of the triumphant founding of the new Israel.” 

 East of Eden – John Steinbeck – Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families-the Trasks and the Hamiltons-whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.

 Prince of Tides – Pat Conroy – Spanning forty years, this is the story of turbulent Tom Wingo, his gifted and troubled twin sister, Savannah, and the dark and violent past of the extraordinary family to which they were born.

 Snow in August – Pete HamillSet in a working-class Brooklyn neighborhood in 1947, this poignant tale revolves around two of the most endearing characters in recent fiction: an eleven-year-old Irish Catholic boy named Michael Devlin and Rabbi Judah Hirsch, a refugee from Prague

 In the Fall – Jeffrey LentIn the Fall is a richly layered epic that conjures the history of three generations of an American family and the dark secrets that blister at its core.

 World According to Garp & Cider House Rules – John Irvingfilled with stories inside stories about the life and times of T. S. Garp, novelist and bastard son of Jenny Fields – a feminist leader ahead of her time.; The Cider House Rules is John Irving’s sixth novel. Set in rural Maine in the first half of this century, it tells the story of Dr. Wilbur Larch – saint and obstetrician, founder and director of the orphanage in the town of St. Cloud’s, ether addict and abortionist.

 The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million – Daniel Mendelsohn – story of search for family members lost in holocaust – In this rich and riveting narrative, a writer’s search for the truth behind his family’s tragic past in World War II becomes a remarkably original epic – part memoir, part reportage, part mystery, and part scholarly detective work – that brilliantly explores the nature of time and memory, family and history. 

 Grain Brain – David Perlmutter – A #1 New York Times bestseller–the devastating truth about the effects of wheat, sugar, and carbs on the brain, with a 4-week plan to achieve optimum health.

 Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn – mystery

 Flight Behavior – Barbara Kingsolver – her climate change book

 Cutting for Stone – Abraham Verghese – Moving from Addis Ababa to New York City and back again, Cutting for Stone is an unforgettable story of love and betrayal, medicine and ordinary miracles—and two brothers whose fates are forever intertwined.

 The Power of One – Bryce Courtenay – “The Power of One has everything: suspense, the exotic, violence; mysticism, psychology and magic; schoolboy adventures, drama.”  –The New York Times

 Let the Great World Spin – Colum McCann Let the Great World Spin is the critically acclaimed author’s most ambitious novel yet: a dazzlingly rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s.

 Rules of Civility – Amor Towles – With its sparkling depiction of New York’s social strata, its intricate imagery and themes, and its immensely appealing characters, Rules of Civility won the hearts of readers and critics alike.

 The Kept – James Scott – A scorching portrait of guilt and lost innocence, atonement and retribution, resilience and sacrifice, pregnant obsession and primal adolescence, The Kept is told with deep compassion and startling originality, and introduces James Scott as a major new literary voice.

 Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Graham – If you read this as a child, you don’t need a description – if you haven’t, you need to do that now.

 Alice in Wonderland – Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll = see previous comment

 Elinor Lipman – I Can’t Complain (essays) yes she can and she is delightful as she does it

 The Woman at the Washington Zoo – Marjorie Williams – essays many of them political but not all

 The Supreme’s at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat – Edward Kelsley MooreWith wit, style and sublime talent, Edward Kelsey Moore brings together three devoted allies in a warmhearted novel that celebrates female friendship and second chances.

 Midnight Fugue – Reginald Hill (or any in the Dalziel & Pascoe series)

 Snow Blind – P. J. Tracy – mystery series starting with Monkeewrench

 Old Filth – Jane Gardam (first in the trilogy) – FILTH is a lawyer with a practice in the Far East. A few remember that his nickname stands for Failed In London Try Hong Kong. But Old Filth is not as pompous as people imagine, and his past contains many secrets and dark hiding places.

 A Touch of Frost – R. D. Wingfield (or any of the Frost  mystery series)

 Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter – From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, to the back lots of contemporary Hollywood, Beautiful Ruins is gloriously inventive and constantly surprising—a story of flawed yet fascinating people navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.

 The Dearly Departed – Elinor Lipman – With her trademark humor and warmth, the beloved author of The Ladies’ Man and The Inn at Lake Devine explores going home again; about finding light in the dark corners of one’s inhospitable past; about love, golf, and DNA.

 Make Way for Lucia – E. F. Benson – Make way for Lucia is a series of novels written by E.F Benson. They feature hilarious incidents in the lives of upper-middle class people in the 1920s and ’30s. The characters vie for social standing in an extremely snobby world. 

 Half Broken Things – Morag Joss – A stunning, thought-provoking crime novel of chilling moral complexity, Half Broken Things is a gripping, haunting exploration of love and our need for it, of the damage done when we go long without it, and the deeds we might be driven to in its name.


Good Book Recommendations – especially aimed at book groups

We are very lucky to have some excellent book stores locally but some excellent ones are also a bit too far for the trip.  Quail Ridge in NC is a favorite of mine and they have a newsletter that you can subscribe to which lets you stay in touch with their recommendations – also makes you sorry you can’t go to some of their events – but the good with the slightly not so good.  They are getting ready for the book bash which is an annual opportunity for them to recommend titles for book groups and you can check out their last year’s recommendations at this link:

Found a new author

which is always a good thing.  Holly Robinson whose latest book is Beach Plum Island will be at the library for an event on Tuesday, June 3 with Elisabeth Elo whose book is North of Boston.  Both of these have local settings which I always enjoy.  Elisabeth’s book is a thriller and Holly’s is a family saga with a somewhat non-traditional blended family.  Both great reading.  Hope you’ll mark your calendars to join us on June 3 and hope you’ll be at Bagels and Books this Saturday – perhaps to talk about your latest author find.


is this Saturday, March 22 at 10:30 in the Roosevelt Room.  We’ll be talking about the books we love (or find frustrating or were never able to finish or read a half dozen times) – books, books, books.  Hope you can join us.  

(we found last year that once the weather got nice Saturdays were just too busy for a leisurely chat about books – and the weather is going to get nice sometime isn’t it?)

Have you ever just lost track of an author you enjoyed reading?

One of the authors at the 3d Annual Maynard Book Festival is Ann Hood.  I had read her earlier books and really liked them and somehow she just slipped off my radar.  Delighted that having her at the Festival gives me a chance to catch up with some of her later books.  Her books that I read and enjoyed are Somewhere off the Coast of Maine and The Knitting Circle.  Have The Obituary Writer as a friend loan on my couch so that will be my next read of hers.  Hope you are planning to join us on April 12 when she will be on a panel with Jennifer Haigh (another favorite of mine) and CB Anderson (a new author to explore).