Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reader's Paradise Book Club

Today I welcome Reader’s Paradise for my monthly book club feature. Laverne Brown aka Missy to avid readers and writers all over the Internet graciously agreed to answer my questions.
When I asked for the name of the president of Reader’s Paradise, she said “All members take ownership of the group, but my our co-founders is Melody Vernor.” I thought that was a particularly cool statement. So let’s find out more about this tight knit group of sisters.
Welcome Missy. Tell us about Reader’s Paradise Book Club. Reader’s Paradise is not only a book club but a sister circle. We take pride in nurturing our circle and being autonomous. We actually started with two and no more for a long time.

After church Mel and I would sit around and just talk about everything. But our conversations were always centered on books; the ones we read those we wanted to buy and some we’ve collected. After several chats we realized we enjoyed many of the same authors and genre, except Mel is a huge fan of mystery while I have an affinity for inspirational reads. One Sunday after church Mel said she was starting a book club and I told her to count me in. We had our first official meeting October 8th, 2006, and at that time we were called “Fat Gurrl Book Club” affectionately named after Mel’s business.

After a few months I told a few friends and I told more friends and so on and so on. Then in August as a book club we went to the “Soul Expression Tour “and met someone who practically joined that day. Rewind just a little bit; in April 2007 we were four strong and decided to change the name to reflect all members of the book club and we took a vote and came up with “Reader’s Paradise”. The name came from us truly escaping into that book and it becoming our paradise until the last page. Fast forward beyond August 2008 currently Reader’s Paradise has 7 members; 4 of which are active.

Each member take turns hosting our BOM discussions; the host plans the food, theme, discussion and location, and as a group we vote on the book of the month. We meet on a monthly basis preferably the last Saturday of the month. During the holidays we prefer to meet the week before.

When I invited you on the blog, part of your response included, “…we are small but we’re here.” Chicago is a big city, tell me why you remain small? Every year I create a survey and ask all active members to complete it. Each year when the results are returned the majority says “I rather keep it 10 and no more”. We enjoy the intimacy of a small group and blessing other book clubs with our presence. In October this year we had our second year celebration at a café in the Hype Park section of Chicago and invited another book club to join us named Kreative Readers and we had a blast! We also invited 2 Chicago authors D.J. McLaurin and Phylydia Hudson. We shared a meal, our thoughts, and some personal things about us. One of the benefits of keeping it small is space, all of us have small homes so trying to host a BOM at home works. (smile) We recently opened our membership to serious readers in the Chicagoland area. But we will keep the number under 10. Prior to joining the member will have to attend 4 meetings and be able to meet on Saturdays for 2-3 hours for the discussions. The prospective member must also have email, and check it daily much of our communications are done online.

Tell me about a Christian or inspirational book your group recently read and enjoyed and what you liked about it. I would have to say “Conversations with God”: a true story by Neale Walsch. We watched the DVD and was truly inspired by it. Sometimes many of us walk around wondering is God speaking to us if He is why can’t I hear Him, How is it that she can hear Him and I can’t. Mr. Walsch believes that communicating with God could be a feeling, or those voices you hear while asleep, and that in fact it is audible. We just have to fine tune our receivers, absolutely a spiritual reawakening.

Anything you’d like to see more of in Christian Fiction? Less of? I’d like to see fewer stories about characters losing faith and more of Christians dealing with life and the struggles. How we call on the Lord and journey with one another while trying to live righteous.
You’re an avid reader and book reviewer, tell us about your process for reviewing books. I love to read and will read a cereal box or label because of my affinity for reading. I began reviewing with RAW SISTAZ in 2000 and APOOO shortly after that. I really didn’t know I had anything to say about a book I thought I just enjoyed books. But once you get started you find yourself with a unique opportunity; the chance to revisit the characters and the plot all over again and share that with others. (simply outstanding!)

While reading I keep a note pad with me at all times. I jot down things I think I might want to add to my review, locations, events, characters words and my feelings. I also look within the book to find out if the author tells us what he or she is attempting to do with the book. If it is listed I will mention whether I felt the author succeeded or not.

Does Reader’s Paradise have any special plans or goals for 2009? 2009 we’ll be planning our annual retreat for 2010; also we are partnering with a ministry in the Chicagoland area to do some Outreach and mentoring. I’m very excited about this because I have always wanted us to be more than a book club. In the last 2 years we have grown and our circle continues to grown closer and I am grateful to God for each and every member and what they add to Reader’s Paradise.

Anything else you want to share about your book club? I would like to say Reader’s Paradise is a fantastic book club and the nucleus of our group is our Lord & Saviour. I don’t think a business can flourish unless you go through some things and it is then that you know what you KNOW! Stay in His grip ladies of Reader’s Paradise!

How can readers and authors find out more about Reader’s Paradise? If you are interested in more information about Reader’s Paradise you can stop by my inbox anytime at or visit use 24/7 at
We also have a presence on Shelfari c’mon stop by and stay current on the book we are reading, we you can spot us and what authors will be blessing us.

Great Interview, Missy. Thanks for stopping by!


Missy said...

Hi Rhonda -

This is truly a blessing to be featured on your blog. I can't wait for the folks to stop by and get to know us all better! said...

Rhonda and Missy, this feature is EXCELLENT!

Missy and the reading divas of Readers Paradise are and absolute JOY to network with; they are without a doubt one of my favorite reading groups . . . woo-hoo!

Ladies, have a Happy New Year!

Missy said...

Hey Marlive -

Thanks a bunch

Happy New Year!

LaConnie said...

Hi Missy and Rhonda:

What a wonderful and INSIGHTFUL interview!!

You ladies are awesome. Not only for your love of reading, but for the partnership you've developed in your community.

Wishing you all a wonderful New Year!!

Love ya much,

Missy said...

LaConnie thanks for stopping by during the holidays

Happy New Year!

Karen O'Bannon said...

Enjoyed reading about this Christ-centered group of women. Ladies you sound like a fabulous group.

Rhonda McKnight said...

It was a pleasure having Paradise Readers as my guest. Missy has supported this blog from the very beginning and I really appreciate it. said...

Happy New Years,

This is an excellent choice to feature such wonderful and touching group....

Readers Paradise worked hard to become such a circle it's a blessing.

Love Readers Paradise...


Rhonda and Missy, this feature is wonderful thank you.

Missy said...

Meme I thank you for being a part of Reader's Paradise. The fingerprints you leave on the group will continue to touch us for many more years...

Thank Q for your awareness of our community and the literary events we attend as a sister circle.

Karen - your book sounds like something we will need to add to our 2009 BOM.

Tee C. Royal said...

Missy, what a wonderful interview. It's great seeing other readers who enjoy the joy of reading and sharing with sisterfriends.

Rhonda, I' bookmarking the blog and will stop by again soon!


Yasmin said...

Hey Rhonda and Missy...wonderful interview ladies!
Happy New Year and wishing both of you good health, prosperity, growth and lots of good books in 2009.

Missy said...

Thanks Tee and I stopped by RAW last night because an author wanted to know your rules for submitting a review book and I noticed a blurb about a gift being delivered...Congrats and God bless

Missy said...

Hey Yas -

{{{ Much hugs to you}}}