Dec 29, 2010

The War of the End of the World

Thanks for your feedback about the reading and discussion pace of The Help!
Info about the guiding pace for reading and discussing The War of the End of the World at the "Book Discussion Schedule" page of this blog.

Dec 24, 2010

wishes from China

Hi Everyone,

I want to send you my warmest (!!) best wishes for Christmas and for health and happiness in  New Year.
It is my big pleasure to know and read all of you through the club.Thanks and cheers for Rocio and Macarena and you all ^_^

Hugs and kisses

Vivian Huang

Dec 22, 2010

The Help and the No Cookies Book Club

Before it is too late, I just want say that I enjoyed reading The Help more than what I expected! At the beginning I didn't find the book very interesting, but then about in the middle of it towards the end, I found it hard to put the book down. I have to say that I was surprised with the ending, I was expecting it to be "longer" maybe more detailed, I hope the author is thinking about a sequel or something similar.

Above all things I just enjoyed reading again! It had been a while since I finished a book that wasn't "parenting" related and I really needed the distraction! This past couples of weeks have been difficult (with a new born and some other things) and having the No Cookies Book Club sending messages about the last chapters and all of you making comments, encouraged me to keep reading and it helped me to get my mind out of the whole deal for at least couple of hours a day.

Thank you for The Help and thank you for reading with me! Can't wait for the next one!

Dec 21, 2010

And the Winner is...

… The War of the End of the World, by Mario Vargas Llosa

Thanks everybody for your votes.
Info about the reading and discussing schedule coming soon.
In the meanwhile, time to go to your library, bookshop, superstore, amazon… 
or wherever you like to get your books, and find this one!

Dec 20, 2010

Comments by Monica Rivera

I finished last night...Somehow I was waiting to see more pages. It made me sad that Aibileen lost her job, mainly because of Mae Mobley. I didn't want her to stay alone with her mama, who sees more flaws than anything else on poor Mae Mobley. I think because I have a daughter the same age as her, the parts describing how her mama treated her made me particularly angry. But what can I expect with Elizabeth having the mom she has. All her parenting skills came from her...
I'm glad that Aibileen got the job at the paper (she deserves it), that Minny finally left Leroy and that Miss Skeeter went to New York. I think it was a good ending for everyone, even though I was hoping to see Stuart back with the ring.
Overall, I think it was a good book. Everybody that saw me with the book (including librarians) told me that the book was "quite a read"...I think they were right.

Last comments on The Help

I just wanted to finish saying that I have enjoyed the book, but yet, it is not perfect. But I like that it opens a discussion about important issues like racism, working conditions, human nature, motherhood and so on... at the same time, it´s very entertaining. In that line, I´m sure that you know it already, there is a movie coming soon, and I´ll be sure to watch it.

Dec 19, 2010

Final comments on The Help by Jorge

Hi all,
I agree that this book is not a masterpiece of literature, but I find quite a lot positive things on it, for example:
- It is easy to read, even more, you get addicted to it; as some of you have also said, you get tense reading the book and you don’t know what is going to happen, it creates an atmosphere of uncertainty. I find these very positive things in a book.
- I do like the end: is neither a happy ending nor a bad, tragic one (as sometimes, reading the book, I thought it was going to be the end). I think is a good one because it is as real as real life is. Skeeter leaves, she had to, but leaves without Stuart; she leaves to NYC, as she wanted, but leaves behind many things she loves; it is a sweet-and-sour end, as many of the consequences of humans decisions are (I mean, there always are pros and cons in our acts). Aibileen is fired, although she will write the column, and Minny... everything looks so possible, probable, so real to me.
- I do like the way the reality is mixed with fiction. When reading the book I have thought that this was the original book that they were publishing and all the characters were the real ones; I thought that was 100% autobiographic. I do like the way the author makes me feel that the real facts are intertwined with fiction.

I don’t like other things, like the fact that Hilly doesn’t show many signs of being a human, i.e., she is always bad, behaving bad, is the incarnation of many of the defects that a lady in Jackson would have, but we don’t see many good things coming from her. I would have liked to see a more evolved character, not just the “bad of the movie”.
I don’t like the treatment that the author does of Constantine, she left and then she dies, we don’t know much more about her. When I was reading I thought something obscure was behind her story, but not really, the author leaves that blank, simple. I wanted some more complexity in this character or, maybe, as Judy has said with the recovery of Skeeter's mother, it could just be avoided, deleted as it doesn’t add too much to the main line of the story.
Adding to this last sentence, and as someone told me speaking about the book, I think that the author tries to combine too many things in the characters. Is Minny’s mistreatment adding something to the main story? What about the scene when the naked, crazy man attacks Minny and Celia, is it adding or explaining something crucial to the story? I think some things like these could be avoided and the book would gain some intensity, or the lines to these things could be dedicated to a deeper evolution of the thoughts of Skeeter or just making finer nuances of the plot.

My favourite character is Minny because I think she best represents the way of this colored people think, behave, express, act in their situation and she is the only one that makes me laugh sometimes with her way of speaking.

Finally, although I have enjoyed it, I think it was not the best selection for non-English speakers like me! Law, I have to review English grammar again! :)

In short, thanks to the club for helping us to discover this book (that I would have never read by my own). I have enjoyed it a lot as it is easy to read and has good details that make it worth.

The Help. Final discussion - From Judy Caplan

Well I found this book an easy and enjoyable read -- but not a great book. While I have a good sense of Minny and Aibileen, Skeeter is more of a mystery to me. How did she get to be the person she is. She starts the book out as Hilly's best friend -- how could that be? I wish the author had given us a greater sense of Skeeter's development.

I am also struck by how young all these women are -- early 20's and already apparently "set in their lives".. So different from today. I also found the "miraculous recovery" of Skeeter's mother something that could have been developed. Wonder why the author just did not let her die.

My kindle version of the book contains an afterword by the author, in which she explains that after her parents divorce, when she was 6, she developed a close relationship with the family maid. Someone she reports she "loved but never asked what it felt like to be black in Mississippi, working for our white family."

The Help. Final Discussion

So many thoughts after reading the last page…

What did you think about Minny’s pie for Miss Hilly?  Would you have gone as far as Minny did for revenge?  Which character’s narration did you prefer?  What were your thoughts on the ending?  Did it feel satisfied or did you want an epilogue to know what happened in the end to each of the characters?
  How do you think each of the maternal relationships added to the plot? Elizabeth and her mother, Elizabeth and Mae Mobley, Skeeter and Mrs. Phelean, Hilly and her children.  How do you think Mrs.
 What were your thoughts on Skeeter and Stuart’s relationship?  Did you hope they would eventually be together or were you glad to see him go?   Did you agree with the explanation of her feelings about the relationship?  Did it change as the novel progressed?
  Did you expect the friend relationships to develop as they did?  Celia and Minny, Aibleen and Skeeter. 
 What are your thoughts about Celia?  Did you anticipate the respect that some women expressed about their help? i.e. Louvinia and Lou Anne.

Thanks everybody for your wonderful contributions. It has been lovely reading and sharing with you.
Looking forward to the next one!

Dec 18, 2010

The Help. Comment from Vivian

Although the story of Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter is connected, I personally think that there are differences between them. Aibileen and Minny represent the good Afro-American servants who has the spontaneous love-----as the simple human love for the white employers, even thought the discrimination still exist. That is why Aibileen takes Mae Mobley as her own kid, as every single kid she had taken care of before. And although Minny loves to talk back , she is loyal to her employers. She does not allow other people say bad things about them ------This is because of their good nature. But Skeeter is different. Maybe she does not know how to do it but she uses her own power to try to change the bad situation of the poor Afro-American around her. I think this shows the goodness of the human nature.
I know the writer shows us the racial problems in the book .But I prefer to focus in the love that goes around the different characters. If Skeeter didn`t know her maid Constantine will she still want to help the Afro-American people as an adult? Aibileen is just like another Constantine, Mae maybe will be another Skeeter. Who knows? Love can be inherited.

-Vivian Huang

Dec 15, 2010

The Help. Chapters 19 to 24

Action gets faster and characters braver as the story continues. A need for speak up, for avoid falling into conformity seems to be emerging, and we read about Aibeelen' stories to Mae Mobley and the toilets drive.
At the same time, we read things like the following:
“It is true. There are some racists in this town", Miss Leefolt say. Miss Hilly nod her head, “Oh, they are out there”.
As if the “racism thing” had nothing to do with them.
Do you think this is just them or do you think there was a general misperception of what racism is? What about nowadays?

Dec 5, 2010

The Help. Chapters 13 to 18

The story keeps developing; at every page, it gets harder to put the book down. We get to know the characters in greater depth. Not only the main ones, but the secondary too. For instance, Miss Hilly.

Miss Hilly’s Junior League does its fund-raising for the sake of “the Poor Starving Children of Africa” while treating the poor African-Americans of Jackson as if they were subhuman.… (NYT)

Nov 28, 2010

The Help. Chapters 7 to 12

In these chapters we learn about how Skeeter and Aibileen start the book project. Elaine Stein, from New York, encourages Skeeter to get going with the work; "Before this civil rights thing blows over". Minny seems to be firm about not getting involved. However, something happens that makes her change her mind…
How do you feel about the different characters? Do you have a favorite so far?

Nov 24, 2010

The Help. From Jorge

Bonjour a tous! These are my comments to the beginning of the book:
I like quite a lot how the plot is developing so far; I like the characters, (Minny's sharpness, miss Skeeter's independence and will) and the overall story.
I also find this book quite feminine (something that is neither bad nor good). I guess that is normal, being the author a woman, and being, as it seems, somehow an autobiographic book. I find male characters mostly absent but, when they appear they are… let's say, rude. Examples of these are Stuart, Ms Skeeters' date that was drunk after a night talking about sports and other boring things with the other boy, and all the husbands of the ladies that write letters to the newspaper (they are mostly interested in how to get rid of them or how to make them sober). It seems to me that the only positive comment of a male in the book so far, is when Ms Skeeter talks about his father, that she finds him honest.
I think that all these things are interesting as I am seeing the story from a completely different angle that I would expect. As some of you have already said, this is one more reason to join a reading club: you read things that probably you'd never pick yourself.
As many of you have also said, I also find quite shocking to learn that these things were happening just a few decades ago. What I wonder is how the situation is now in Jackson, how these "colored" people are treated now compared to other states or countries. And I ask some questions: Do they still have different toilets in a big, traditional southern house? More generally: Is this a book written to denounce something that happened years ago, or is it a book to denounce something that is still happening?
It is a pleasure to share my thoughts with such an interesting and diverse reading club!
Looking forward to read you too,

Nov 23, 2010

The Help. From Judy

I find the speech dialects hard to imagine as accurate for the sixties -- even in Mississippi. Yes it is hard to believe folks were treated so badly 50 years ago -- that is until we think about how undocumented persons are treated today. Seems like there is still a long way to go.
Even if "ends justify the means" Aibileen is taking a big risk here but we learn of the important role Minny played in her life. I wonder if her lie to Celia will be her downfall or her ties to Minny her saving or maybe something else all together.

Nov 20, 2010

The Help. Chapters 1 to 6

The first chapters of The Help have introduced us to the three powerful characters that will tell us the story. Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter, with their own different accents, will surely raise different feelings and generate different reactions among us.
For instance, what do you think about what Aibileen did to introduce Minny to Celia Rae Foote?

Nov 5, 2010

And the Winner is...

...The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Info about the guiding pace for reading and discussing at the "Book Discussion Schedule" page.

Looking forward to reading and sharing with you!

Nov 3, 2010

We have a tie!

In our first ever voting procedure, we got a tie! Not so bad, we have enabled the Tie Breaker poll for one day, so we can decide for a book. Those of you that didn´t vote the first time, do it now! Those of you that did it, try again! We hope to have a selection for the month by tomorrow.

Oct 31, 2010

Polls are open!!!!

Find below the books' selections some of you have sent. Even though some of you sent more than one, we have included one suggestion per person per month to allow more people to take part. All of them, wonderful choices. Thanks!

Let's read the reviews, think about it, and vote on the blog! Last day for voting Tuesday, November 2nd (by midnight).

The suggestions are:

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, sent by our member Pam 

Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch--and there's always a catch--is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. (from

The Heaven Tree by Edith Pargeter, sent by Dana.

Beloved author Ellis Peters (Pargeter), creator of Benedictine sleuth Brother Cadfael, penned this superb trilogy under her real name nearly 30 years ago. ( The third book, the Scarlet Seed, is being published in the US for the first time.) The story spans roughly the first third of the 13th century. Pargeter weaves her tale into the politics of medieval England and Wales, and her knowledge of the period is most impressive. The trilogy tells the story of Harry Talvace, nobly born, who has the soul and hands of an artist and mason. The subsequent two books follow the fortunes of another Harry Talvace, son of the first Harry. Pargeter's characters and her settings are vividly etched into the reader's mind. Writing feelingly about the creative genius of the artist and the complex bonds of loyalty that linked medieval men and women, Pargeter illumines a world distant in time and in outlook but makes that world immediate and unforgettable (from Library Journal).

The Help by Kathryn Stockett, sent by Mónica Rivera.

Set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you. The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who's raised 17 children, and Aibileen's best friend Minny, who's found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers. The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams. Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this one has bestseller written all over it.

Wolf Hall is a historical novel by Hilary Mantel, sent by Rocío.

It won both the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Set in the period from 1500 to 1535, Wolf Hall is a fictionalized biography documenting the rapid rise to power of Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex in the court of Henry VIII of England.
Amazon Best of the Month, October 2009: No character in the canon has been writ larger than Henry VIII, but that didn't stop Hilary Mantel. She strides through centuries, past acres of novels, histories, biographies, and plays--even past Henry himself--confident in the knowledge that to recast history's most mercurial sovereign, it's not the King she needs to see, but one of the King's most mysterious agents. Enter Thomas Cromwell, a self-made man and remarkable polymath who ascends to the King's right hand. Rigorously pragmatic and forward-thinking, Cromwell has little interest in what motivates his Majesty, and although he makes way for Henry's marriage to the infamous Anne Boleyn, it's the future of a free England that he honors above all else and hopes to secure. Mantel plots with a sleight of hand, making full use of her masterful grasp on the facts without weighing down her prose. 

"Mister Pip" by Lloyd Jones sent by Fenia.
The novel is set in a village on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville during a brutal civil war there in the 1990s. The only white man left there takes on teaching the children after all teachers have fled, and uses Dickens' Great Expectations. The book fascinates the children; while civil war reaches the village the story intertwines the story of Great Expectations with the actual horrors of civil war faced by the villagers.

Why I'm suggesting this book:
I am not quite sure it is a good book! I've read some moxed reviews. But it seems interesting, and one that provides quite a lot for discussion. Not to mention, I thought it would be nice to start the book club with a book that has the power of reading and literature as one of central themes! 

Vote now!

Oct 30, 2010

We have four suggestions!

We have decided to limit to one suggestion per member each time we vote, so we have four suggestions (coming soon!), anyone up for a fifth one?

Oct 28, 2010

Let's Choose Our First Book!


1.    Send your book suggestion
Is there a special book you feel like reading and sharing?
Send as an email with “Book Suggestion” as the subject. Include in the message the title of the book and a review, summary, or comment about the book.
Please send your suggestion before Sunday, October 31st.

2.    Check the blog to learn about the 5 books options
Following the order in which the suggestions are sent, the first 5 books’ titles will be posted on the blog poll for vote.
You will receive an email informing that the poll is open and providing some info about the books.

3.    Make your pick and vote!
By November 2nd the book that has more votes will be the one. Moment for everybody to get the book and start reading!
An email will be sent then providing info about the reading, posts, and comments’ dynamics. 

Oct 22, 2010

Coming Up ...

No Cookies Book Club is getting together
Our first book discussion coming up soon