Do you believe in miracles? After Hurricane Matthew blazed through Jacksonville, Florida a few weeks ago, Sharron was forced to reschedule our date and her plans for our meeting as the entire city was without utilities, and there was devastation and debris everywhere you turned!! Miraculously, all of our families were spared harm and serious damage, leaving us feeling grateful and blessed!
We entered Black Finn restaurant's private dining space to an explosion of "pink and white" on a display table in celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In addition, to the decorated accent table, Sharron adorned the dining tables with fragrant yellow roses and discussion questions for her book club selection, Unthinkable Sins by Tiffani Quarles-Sanders
As we gathered and greeted each other, we chatted about our "hurricane" experiences as we waited for all the members to arrive. Once we were ready to begin, Sharron asked Bonnie to offer a blessing for our meeting.
Sharron designed a four course menu which consisted of salads, fish, poultry and beef ...there was even a "vegan" option for those with dietary constraints.
The discussion began with members offering comments regarding Sharron's selection. Roz began with her unconditional love for the book as well as its cast of characters and Valerie echoed her sentiments. We discussed everything from the cover of the book to family dynamics and everything in between.
Once again, we had the theme of family secrets and lies, however what was different about this book was the amount of murder and mayhem that weaved magically around the prose. Dee compared Ms. Quarles-Sanders' writing style to that of Mary Monroe's "Mama Ruby" series, and Valerie and JayBee agreed.
Hattie's physical appearance was dissected among the members as if it were a mathematical equation. The book indicated that she "grew" into her looks...With rapid fire, we touched upon the following topics: Did Hattie become attractive once she reached maturation? Does society place too much value on looks? Is beauty truly in the eyes of the beholder? Did Raymond love Hattie or was she simply an object for his sexual fantasizes?
We discussed Hattie's state of mind as an "elderly" woman in a hospital, and agreed to disagree on her state of mind during her random "rants" about her past. Was Hattie suffering from dementia, or was she of sound mind and simply confessing because she felt the end was near?
Well here is where we took a moment to visually take in our desserts...there was
Cheesecake, a Chocolate "skillet" masterpiece that arrived at the table piping hot, a Chocolate Cup drizzled in caramel and Funnel Fries...#YeahBaby
JayBee wanted to know why so many authors are writing extramarital affairs into their novels...Why couldn't Hattie find a "single" suitor. Roz was very vocal about how many young women can be "wooed" into undesirable relationships, and before they know it, they are in too deep and most likely in love. This is not uncommon and has been a part of society forever. We are all reminded of stories told by our Grandmothers and Great Grandmothers about "Rolling Stone" Papas.
The topic of sibling favoritism is one that is not new to us. Did Hattie favor Jerome because of the love she had for his father? Oh course she did...we all concurred!
It was time for the author, Tiffany Sanders to Skype in and we were really excited to hear her vantage point on some of our topics of discussion.
Ms. Sanders excitement was contagious...she greeted us with a little of her family history. She told us of her love for writing and how she began her writing career. WE learned that her Grandmother was the inspiration for Hattie, and we also learned that
some aspects (crimes) in the book had some similarities to real life events (ohhhh, where's the tea, because Ms. Quarles-Sanders is spilling it all over the place!!). She also intrigued us with the story of her family's reception to the book. Before signing off, she informed us that she has a new book coming out in the 1st quarter of 2017 which she invited us to read. We can hardly wait!!
After the Skype discussion, local writer, Mark Griffis made a presentation about his upcoming book to be released in 2017. I use the term, "writer" because this will be Mark's debut novel, and he is not yet published. He gave us a synopsis (which sounds very interesting) and asked if U.S. G.I.R.L.S. would consider being "Beta" readers prior to final edit and publication.
JayBee mentioned that guest, Dianne fulfilled her three (3) meeting requirement, which is the prelude to membership, and was now eligible to be nominated into the ranks of U.S. G.I.R.L.S.
Prior to concluding, Sharron presented U.S. G.I.R.L.S. with gift bags filled with
Peterbrooke Chocolates, mints, Breast Cancer Awareness pens and autographed copies of Unthinkable Sins "and" Unthinkable Sins 2-The Family!! We were surprised and elated that author, Tiffani Quarles-Sanders went the extra mile for her readers. Simply AMAZING!!
Thank you, Thank you, Thank YOU, Sharron for bringing us to Black Finn for a stimulating discussion and a WONDERFUL lunch!! Hattie is surely one of those characters who will be referenced in many meetings to come.