Thursday, March 7, 2013

Live Like Fiction Book Club! Checking in!

So we'll wrap up Dies the Fire on March 21st, and have a big discussion then. But since we are halfway through the reading period I thought I'd check in. I'm curious to know how many of you are listening the audiobook (which I recommend!) and how many are enjoying some old fashioned library book time?

I chose this book to start out this Fantasy/Historical fiction book club because I think it is a genius approach to the genre. It's technically Science Fiction, since the event that happens is work of Nature (far as we know) and it is the people in the surviving groups like the Bearkillers, Mackenzies, and PPA that add any sense of fantasy to the story. Which is really the heart of this book, and why I like it. There aren't any dragons or balls of fire being shot out of witches hands. The "fantasy" elements of armor and witchcraft are mundane and practical. The monsters aren't dragons but cannibal bands and escaped zoo animals. This is a very different, but very much the same world as we live in right now.

Folks who know me well, or even been reading a while should understand why I loved this story. And really, to me its just that, a fun story. I am not interested in anything but a fun ride when I sit down with Juniper and Mike and Arminger. But even as a source of entertainment in a messed up fictional reality: it was this book that made me fall in love with archery and re-join the SCA after a ten-year hiatus. It was this book that inspired me to work harder with Merlin, be brave in the saddle, and stand out in the cold rain for target practice with my first bow.

Some folks are drawn to the post-apocalype theme and the prepping. Some are drawn to the farming, rebirth of myth, and religion (that's my favorite aspect of the book) and others just like a good old fashioned sword fight! I am curious of your thoughts (good and bad!) now that we are at the halfway point!

P.S. Elizabeth of the Berkshires was the one who told me Juniper Mackenzie was inspired by a real life singer, songwriter named Heather Alexander and much of her music is in the book. She is now James Alexander. Life's a ride.


Blogger Karen Talamantez said...

I enjoy the idea of folks gravitating toward like-minded others and that the various groups are learning to use their strengths for the good of their tribes.

I'd fit in much better with the Mackenzies than the Bearkillers. Even though I can fight, I'd prefer not to.

It's a fun book. Thanks.

March 7, 2013 at 10:10 AM  
Blogger quiltaholic said...

I am listening to the audiobook, and just started chaper 14. I have never realy been drawn to post-apocolyptic stuff before, but I am really liking this one. Maybe it's because it is set in 'real time', that it is different? Who knows.

What I particularly like that it is making me think about my own skills and what I could add to a clan. I want to re-string my bow and go out and practice - I want to drag out my old treadle sewing machine - I want to learn to play an instrument, because it would really do me in to have to live without music. The hard work, no electricity/plumbing, etc I could handle - but no music? No thank you!

March 7, 2013 at 10:30 AM  
Blogger Sam Murray said...

Well, generally I love it. In fact, I'm now on the 5th book of the series... or, I suppose the series ends after three books and I'm in the second book of the second series? I like the books so very much, and I really loved revisiting the first story as an audio book. I'm not much of a prepper, but I will say that this has me thinking about honing a few of what I consider my "real" skills. Not skills of the computer age, but skills that actually put good food in my belly and clothes on my back. I've been knitting like crazy, working on my hand stitching a bit (I'm working on making a crib quilt, all hand pieced and hand quilted. It will be my second one.), cooking in a way that I never really have before (oh that recipe calls for mayonaise? ok, how do I make mayonnaise?French toast? don't mind if I do, but it'll be with bread I baked myself... and hmm... how would I come by yeast? why I'd cultivate the wild strains in the form of sourdough.) I don't grow most of my own veggies or have my own chickens or livestock... yet. But I feel like I could if the need was there, it's some of the components of adding flavour that I'm working on learning to do from the ground up. I'm also looking into what it would take to renew my hunting license, and I'd like to try my hand at hunting with a compound bow. That being said, I need to get myself a compound bow, practice with it until I can shoot fairly accurately and with an acceptable draw weight for the game I intend to hunt.

March 7, 2013 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

I finally found my copy of this book, I knew I had it somewhere! I'm in the beginning chapters and enjoying the ideas. My whole family enjoys post-apocoliptic stories and the return to old skills that would be required so I can't wait to get deeper into it. Reading in front of the fire last night was quite a treat!

March 7, 2013 at 11:31 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

I really loved Dies the Fire, and have the second book on hold at my library (the first and third books I can get as ebooks from my library, but not the second--jeez!). Although I was really captivated by both storylines, I think I would rather have been hanging out with Juniper's crew. Hard work, but good eating (after a bit). Also, the music! As someone who loves to sing and plays the guitar a very little bit, I think that having music around would be a huge comfort to me in such a time of major transition. Yay! A great suggestion, Jenna. Thanks!

March 7, 2013 at 11:50 AM  
Blogger Deltaville Jamie said...

I've been reading it on my Kindle, I'm halfway through it and I love it. I've been playing with the idea of prepping. I guess you could call me a wannabe prepper- I got chickens. Anyway, I was thinking about this book last night, mainly about the horse as transportation. We have 2 horses: and old mare and a young mare off the track. Neither good candidates for pulling a cart. But in my thought process I figured they could learn, and in the event of something like the Change, they'd have to. Then of course I wondered about a harness. And I thought, "No biggie, I'll look up on the internet how to make one when the time comes". That's when it hit me just how different things would be. Anxious to finish to see what happens!

March 7, 2013 at 12:51 PM  
Blogger Kristen said...

I'm juuuuust about to finish this. First off, after your recommendation, I listened to the audiobook, which was great. I was chopping up veggies for the dehydrator last night while the Bearkillers were chopping themselves out of that nasty situation near the end. Loving the audiobook - I can do boring stuff and be distracted at the same time!

As far as the book goes, I'm definitely going to have to read the rest. I think I mentioned in another comment that I'm a trashy romance reader, and I'm so glad to have broadened my horizons. Parts were difficult to hear, but I've been galvanized into a prepping mindset again. GREAT first read for your book club - I'll definitely continue to participate. :)

March 7, 2013 at 1:05 PM  
Blogger time4trees.mb said...

Not quite half way thought it, but definitely enjoying it. I am leaning toward Juniper's group and the farming lifestyle. More when I finish...hopefully this weekend.

March 7, 2013 at 2:05 PM  
Blogger Kati said...

I'll be reading the book. I'm hard of hearing, so audio books sound like the grownups in Charlie Brown. You know, "Mwop mwop mwop" :p (As a random side note, I totally think Charlie Brown is hard of hearing, haha! :p) Still waiting on the book at the library. Like I said before, I'll either read the ebook or good old-fashion print, whichever comes first.

I agree with quiltaholic that life without music would be tough. (In spite of my hearing loss, I am actually pretty musical.) It's a huge relief to know that I can make my own music on the guitar and the mountain dulcimer.

Looking forward to finally getting the book and joining the discussion! :)

March 7, 2013 at 2:28 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

I've not read Dies the Fire yet. I'm totally into another series though by Elle Casey, Apocalypsis. Jenna, I think you would really like the main character. She really kicks butt. This series is about a virus that kills all the parents and old people and leaves the teenagers to fend for themselves. It's really good.

March 7, 2013 at 3:02 PM  
Blogger Cassandra said...

I really like this series too. I've read (I think) 7 of them. The first couple of books are the best. I definitely identify more with Juniper and the Mackenzies than the other groups. This series and Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower are probably my favorite post-apocalyptic novels.

March 7, 2013 at 3:25 PM  
Blogger Paul Molnar said...

I had been planning on listening to it but decided that I couldn't afford to buy the book again, just now, so I read it again. I really enjoy "Dies The Fire" it combines a bunch of my personal and literary interests into a lovely bundle of goodness. I'm currently reading the 9th book, "Lord of Mountains" (or the 3rd book of the 3rd trilogy if you prefer) and I read the "Nantucket" trilogy after I finished the first three books. For those of you that are planning on reading the rest of the Emberverse books I would definitely recommend working in the Nantucket books at some point as they do kind of tie into the Emberverse.

As to the goings on in "Dies The Fire" by the mid point of the book we have met my favorite character of the book Samkin Aylward. (Who, thanks to Wikipedia, I just learned is, along with the other British characters to come in future books, borrowed from a book by Arthur Conan Doyle called "The White Company" - I just reserved it from my library)

While I am thinking about Wikipedia, I had to look for the musician that Jenna mentioned. His name is now Alexander James Adams and his website is

March 7, 2013 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger Janine said...

I listened to the audiobook and finished it the other day.

Overall, I really liked it. Audiobook was a pretty good suggestion, but I found it funny that the narrator only seemed to be able to pull off 2 accents (for the women at least). He totally missed the mark on a Spanish accent.

I have a lot to say about the plot, character relationships, and realism of it so I'll save that for the big discussion.

2 things I found really pleasant:
1) A ton of amazon reviews discussed how turned off people were by the whole Wicca thing. I loved it! It brought me back to my weird middle school years where I took up Wicca and was convinced I would be part of it forever. I totally fell out of it and have been agnostic for quite a few years now, but it did get me thinking/reminiscing. It's another one of those things I have a lot to say about, so I'll stop here and not spam your comments.
2) I experienced what Quilaholic mentioned about thinking about my own skills-- my strengths and weaknesses in a world without electricity. It certainly was food for thought!

March 7, 2013 at 4:17 PM  
Blogger Abby said...

I was curious about your last paragraph, so I did some searching. Yes, quite a story indeed!

March 7, 2013 at 6:10 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

I am so enjoying this book. I'm not one who usually enjoys the apocalyptic type of stuff but this is different. I definitely like the MacKenzie clan story more than the Bearkillers but I think it's because of Juniper. She is one kick ass chick! I began to think of how I would contribute and I would be happy taking care of everyone. I'm not a fighter so I would be back at the homestead cooking, rocking babies and then doctoring those who came back from battle hurt. I'm a follower of Christ's teachings but I definitely like some of the Wicca teachings.

March 7, 2013 at 6:25 PM  
Blogger wendywoo said...

I wonder if anyone out there has read Earth Abides, by George R. Stewart, written in 1949! I loved that one, my first post-apocalyptic story. Have read it a number of times over the years.

I'm about halfway through Dies The Fire, strongly leaning toward Juniper's way of dealing with the situation!

March 7, 2013 at 9:19 PM  
Blogger J.D. Collins said...

Wish I could say I had finished the book; however, I'm still slogging along.

I'll finish it this weekend. Even though this falls under the "fantasy" category, the thought of "The Change" disquiets me. Perhaps it's because I've had enough change lately or, perhaps, the idealist in me wants the world to live well but let me a simpler lifestyle.

For some reason, this read hasn't swept me. We'll see.

March 8, 2013 at 7:16 AM  
Blogger Tiffrz-N-Kidz said...

I read it a while back and loved every page. I am looking forward to the discussion.

March 8, 2013 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Linda's Kitchen said...

I am about 3/4 of the way through the book and really enjoying it. I have the 2nd book from the library already.

I wonder why people are relating to the Juniper character rather than the Bearkillers. The MacKenzies were closer to their bug out location and were able to get there in a few days. This is the "ideal" situation (if there can be an ideal).

The Bearkillers were forced to travel because they were in the middle of nowhere. I am sure they will settle down, once they get to their place.

March 8, 2013 at 4:57 PM  
Blogger Linda's Kitchen said...

I am about 3/4 of the way through the book and really enjoying it. I have the 2nd book from the library already.

I wonder why people are relating to the Juniper character rather than the Bearkillers. The MacKenzies were closer to their bug out location and were able to get there in a few days. This is the "ideal" situation (if there can be an ideal).

The Bearkillers were forced to travel because they were in the middle of nowhere. I am sure they will settle down, once they get to their place.

March 8, 2013 at 4:58 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

One line I just read hit me; back before the Change, even poor people could afford to eat badly. She was referring to cheap junk food. It got me to thinking of the real food I'd miss. Oranges, mangoes, chocolate! At least I know how to garden and raise chickens!

March 8, 2013 at 10:16 PM  
Blogger Tams said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 9, 2013 at 2:27 AM  
Blogger Tams said...

I enjoyed it so much I'm now on the fifth book. I've been reading them on my nook thanks to a gift card I was given.

I read the reviews too and surprised that the Wicca stuff turned people off. I personally like showing strong female body,mind and spirit..which is why I relate more to Junipers character.

I can't wait to discuss more

March 9, 2013 at 2:40 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

Is anyone out there not liking this book? I would love to hear some dissenting opinions. I think it's fair to say that I'm as obsessed with this book as Jenna is, although not quite so active in the associated hobbies. I really found this to be a life-changing book. I think it would be interesting to talk about this story in the context of Kathy Harrison's attitude of prepping through community building, since that turns out to be the most successful approach.

March 9, 2013 at 8:19 AM  
OpenID nobohomestead said...

Afraid to read too much here as am only about 1/4 of the way through the book (went the library route and took a week or so for it to come in). Enjoying it so far, aside from those people that had their little gangster/medieval meeting and a lot of the violence in general (particularly towards women) is hard to read. But overall interesting story so far and sucks you in!

March 11, 2013 at 5:09 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi, Jenna,
I just found your Made From Scratch on an idle browse at my public library (man, do I love to do that, idly browse ...) >> found your blog >> read about your book club. I'm eager to take part and have a good reason (not an excuse!) to start rereading this series, which lifted the top of my head off the first time through.

Cheers, Judith

March 14, 2013 at 11:33 AM  

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