Hi everyone! Emma and Kristy here. Are you finally ready for the October book club discussion? So glad we can all reconnect after a busy month and chat about books. :) Especially one that we LOVED, like many of you did with the October book.
The book we selected for October was, The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James. I think many of you were excited for a spooky thriller to read during October & I don’t think you were disappointed! It certainly was spooky & a solid thriller throughout.
This month for our secondary book, we picked Still Life by Louise Penny. As always, I will lead the discussion for the second book in our facebook group. If you haven’t joined, please do so by clicking here! The Facebook group is a space where we share books and info about when the discussion posts & announcements will be going live.
Now let’s move on to the October Book Club Discussion! Please leave all of your opinions, thoughts, questions as well as answers to our questions in the comment section below. Feel free to answer other people’s questions in the comments as well.
Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary. She disappears right at the end of the first chapter, although the reader isn’t sure what happens until the end of the book.
Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.
I read this book in one Sunday afternoon…it’s been a while since I read a book that completely captured my attention and made me want to sit down and read all day. Before I began reading, I was a little nervous about the “supernatural” element of the book, but once those portions of the book came, it was really fun and different. The supernatural element was really spooky and interesting, especially at the end, when everything was pieced together and you understand more about the ghosts of the motel and why they haunt it. Something that I specifically loved has to be the way that I felt transported to Fell, New York. The author really sent us straight to upstate NY & it felt spooky, and fall-like and everything I was looking for in this setting. Our two main protagonists were especially great, Carly and Viv – and I rooted for them the whole time. It’s SO nice to take a break from thrillers where you can’t trust the narrator, which is like EVERY SINGLE BOOK I’ve read in the past year. (*Cough cough*, thanks Gone Girl.)
The Sun Down dives into the story with two main storylines – one with Carly in current day and one with Viv in the 80s. Usually I think this can be distracting in a book, but Simone St. James really navigated the juxtaposition of the two characters seamlessly.
Another thing I enjoyed were the side plot characters..like in Carly’s world – she had her new roommate & the man who lost her brother and family all in one night. For Viv, she the police officer, the photographer, and in the end.. the “guy who made the phone call” – such great characters! I also liked the fact that the two timeless ended up intertwining, with Carly meeting a few of the people that Viv had known during her time in Fell.
Now, on to the supernatural and the murder mystery portion. Spoiler alert, I’ll be talking about the juicy ending ahead! The fact that Viv was hiding out all those years right in town was a litttttle farfetched, but I guess people really didn’t know her well so it could happen, especially with the help of her friends – the cop and the photographer. The supernatural parts to the book actually made me SO sad, that all of those people died and haunted the motel because of the evil in the salesman’s heart. It actually disgusted me at times, and the some of the haunting sections made me creeped out. I definitely am glad I read this during the daytime!
Overall, I absolutely LOVED the book, and I give it a solid 5/5. A must-read for anyone who likes thrillers, spooky stories, fall and winter vibes, supernatural, murder, and whodunnits.
1. Why do you think the author chose to tell this story across two time periods and two points of view? Do you think it was effective? Why or why not?
2. Discuss how each of the victims were described in the media. Do you think the way the media characterized these women played a role in the overall investigation—and the failure by the police to catch the killer? How does their characterization compare to how victims are described by the media today?
3. From the beginning, Viv is determined to uncover who the female ghost is and why she’s haunting the motel. Why do you think this was so important to her? Why do you think she didn’t just flee Fell, New York, and the motel?
4. Viv, Carly, and Heather all have a somewhat morbid curiosity surrounding both the Fell, New York, murders and true crime in general, which reflects the fact that young women tend to be the biggest consumers of true crime content. Why do you think this is?
5. Discuss the ghosts that haunt the motel, especially Betty. What do you think each of them represented, if anything?
6. There are multiple instances where the women of this novel discuss what women should be doing to protect themselves, although as Viv notes: “It was always girls who ended up stripped and dead like roadkill. . . . It didn’t matter how afraid or careful you were—it could always be you.” What do you think the author is saying about the experience of being a woman? Do you think the novel might have been difference if Viv and Carly were men? If so, how?
7. How are the concepts of female rage and empowerment explored in this novel, if at all?
8. Consider Alma and Marnie, and the relationships they formed with Viv and with each other. Why do you think they allowed themselves to become involved with Viv’s investigation?
9. Multiple characters throughout this novel end up returning to the small town of Fell, New York, or choose to remain there despite many reasons—and opportunities—to leave. Why do you think they are drawn to the town?
10. Building off the previous question, why do you think the author chose a remote town—and an even more remote roadside motel—for the setting of this novel? How do you think the story would have changed with a different setting?
11. Discuss the way the killer was finally stopped. Do you think those involved did the right thing? Do you think, especially with consideration of the time period, that they could have done anything differently?
Please answer any of these questions & add your commentary below!
Anyways.. on to our November Book Club Picks! For those of you who are new or not in the facebook group.. we decided to add a secondary book to January’s lineup several months ago for the overachievers & decided to keep it going! We’ll be discussing the secondary novel solely in the facebook group, not here on the blog. We’ll always have 1 main book set for each month and a secondary book for those who aren’t interested in the main book or for the overachievers who want to read both.
Our Main Book is…
“The Agatha Christie of our generation.” —David Baldacci, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“Diabolically clever.” —Riley Sager, author of Final Girls
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Turn of the Key and In a Dark Dark Wood returns with another suspenseful thriller set on a snow-covered mountain.
Getting snowed in at a luxurious, rustic ski chalet high in the French Alps doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world. Especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a full-service chef and housekeeper, a cozy fire to keep you warm, and others to keep you company. Unless that company happens to be eight coworkers…each with something to gain, something to lose, and something to hide.
When the cofounder of Snoop, a trendy London-based tech startup, organizes a weeklong trip for the team in the French Alps, it starts out as a corporate retreat like any other: PowerPoint presentations and strategy sessions broken up by mandatory bonding on the slopes. But as soon as one shareholder upends the agenda by pushing a lucrative but contentious buyout offer, tensions simmer and loyalties are tested. The storm brewing inside the chalet is no match for the one outside, however, and a devastating avalanche leaves the group cut off from all access to the outside world. Even worse, one Snooper hadn’t made it back from the slopes when the avalanche hit.
As each hour passes without any sign of rescue, panic mounts, the chalet grows colder, and the group dwindles further…one by one.
Ruth Ware is one of my favorite thriller authors and I knew I had to pick this one for a nice Winter option! I’m SO excited to read this and I hope you all are as well. Click here to order the book.
Our Secondary Book is…
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick
“Get ready to be swept up in a whirlwind romance. It absolutely charmed me.”—Reese Witherspoon
“Josie Silver writes with a warmth so palpable her characters sneak their way into your heart and stay for a long time.”—Jill Santopolo, New York Times-bestselling author of The Light We Lost
Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.
Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.
Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.
What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.
This read is a little lighter than the last few choices! I knew I wanted to add a romantic love story in here. :) Enjoy! Click here to shop the book.
Please leave your thoughts, opinions and questions about the book below! The more comments the better. :) Happy reading!
Click here to see more book club picks from us.