|Occupation :||Educator / Library Director|
The characters and sensory details in this book are delightful. I also liked the historic elements.
This is a "feel good" book that allows the reader to explore how other women deal with change in their lives. Claire Cook creates interesting characters in realistic stages of life dealing with real issues that we as women face in the 21st century.
While a bit predictable, this Christmas novel is worth the read because of the character development and interaction.
I liked this quirky romance, but I didn't love it. I enjoyed the growth in the main characters, Don & Rosie. I thought that the story was a bit drawn out in the middle and the resolution was too rushed.
While I learned a great deal about Vichy France and the provincial life leading up to WWII, during the war, and the years following the war, this was a long read. It was interesting at the beginning and the end, but it was a bit draggy in the middle. I am glad that I finished it, and do believe that it will provide an interesting book discussion.
This novel centers on girls who were raised together yet separated by class structure. I enjoyed the characters and the setting. It is a quick, breezy read for book clubs, yet we found lots to discuss about the motivation of the characters.
While I enjoyed the historic backdrop and the character development, I feel that it got a bit draggy in the middle. I highly enjoyed the last 150 pages. They made the read worthwhile.
While I found parts of this novel interesting, it moved very slowly. I feel that some of the minute details could have been left out in exchange for the larger retellings of the love, life, & travels of Robert Lewis Stevenson and Fanny Stevenson.
I enjoyed this venture into the aftermath of the sinking of the Titanic. This novel focuses upon the social, political, and financial consequences of this disaster. Alcott also throws in some interesting characters and a bit of romance.
This book seems simple on the surface, but once you invest some time in it, it develops into a nuanced piece with well-developed characters.
Anthony Horowitz keeps the aura of Sherlock Holmes alive with his new series. I highly recommend this title to mystery lovers - especially those who love period pieces. Our book club readers really enjoyed this piece, even if they had never read a Sherlock Holmes story before. We also liked the 21st century sensibilities added to both Holmes and Watson.
I enjoyed the journey with the main character Rebecca as she begins a new chapter of her life... in an unfamiliar place, with new people, and with few prospects for her future. I especially liked the view through an artist's eyes.
This piece of historic fiction delivered on all accounts. The history was well blended into the tale. Both the character & plot development were well done. The romantic element was woven nicely into the story so that it didn't overshadow the historic or human elements.
While I grew to care about the sisters in this piece, it took patience and time. While I feel that Sittenfeld crafted a unique storyline, it still felt forced in spots. I do believe that a book club would find lots of elements for discussion - especially the outcomes of our choices very early in life.
Because of the topic, Early Onset Alzheimer Disease, this was not an easy book to read. It was made more difficult because it was narrated in first person by Alice, the victim of EOAD; therefore, making it even more challenging to follow the narrative. While I learned more about the science of this disease, I had a hard time connecting with the characters. While a few developed, most were self-centered, and it was hard to feel empathy for them.
This multi-generational tale is woven so effectively that the reader doesn't want to put it down. The intertwined stories of three midwives, grandmother, daughter, & granddaughter, are told with realistic emotion & character development. I enjoyed the book & believe that others in my book club will enjoy it as well.
I thoroughly enjoyed this fictionalized account of Ernest Hemingway's early life, told from the perspective of his first wife, Hadley Richardson. Paula McLain's writing allows a peek behind the scenes in the evocative life of Paris in the 20's. It also gives the reader a new perspective on Hemingway before he became famous for both his writings and his exploits.
I really enjoyed the story that Krueger wove together in the telling of this tale. I could relate to both the characters and the cultural setting of 1961. While the family dynamics pushed the story along, it was the small town mentality that really motivated the action. I highly recommend this title and anything else written by William Kent Krueger.
I was mesmerized by this apocalyptic tale. I loved the interwoven tale of the survivors and the amazing way their lives were connected. Readers will be drawn to the characters and their plight as they begin the new age of the world. Highly recommended!
I absolutely loved this book! I want to be best friends with Louisa, the main narrator. Beyond this rather personal connection, I also enjoyed Jojo Moyes' writing style. She had Louisa narrate all but four chapters, and she wove four other narrators, other important characters, into the piece to give a fresh perspective. I really liked this technique. I am looking forward to the sequel, AFTER YOU.
This was normal Grisham style with a great cast of characters and a plausible storyline. What sets this title apart is the strong female lead. I really enjoyed this title, and I recommend to both Grisham fans and those who have never read one of his novels.
This title left me with mixed feelings. While I enjoyed the characters, the plot, and the austere setting, something about its blending of generational stories troubled me. Because it left too much unresolved, I was also left a bit unsatisfied with the ending. Yet, I did enjoy listening to it - partially because of the great voice of Mark Bramhall. His husky, dry voice brought the characters to life.
This is an informative read. I appreciate Gawande's style. His interwoven discussions of medical practices with anecdotal evidence and historic perspective worked to convince me that we need a philosophical change for how our society approaches end of life issues.
It was an enjoyable holiday read, but not nearly as good as the first installment in this series, WINTER STREET. I did enjoy the chance to vicariously be at the Nantucket "Winter Stroll" weekend.
I was not certain I could go into another story about Louisa after Will, but I am so glad that I did. Jojo Moyes creates finely drawn characters with realistic issues, choices, and fears. I love the quick dialogue, and the way Moyes draws you into the story with tears and laughter. I highly recommend this title, but only after you read ME BEFORE YOU. You MUST read them in order to appreciate the intricate story.
I highly recommend this title about life in a depression-era Colorado gold mining camp. Hennie Comfort, the local historian and storyteller, weaves a vibrant quilt of stories for the newest member of the community, Nit Spindle, and the reader. I enjoyed the audio version performed by Maggi-Meg Reed. She brings the characters to life with her voices.
While this was a light holiday read, I didn't really enjoy it a great deal. While I found the Laura Levine story comical, I did not like the Joanne Fluke piece. My favorite was the "Gingerbread Cookies and Gunshots" by Leslie Meier. Because I liked both her writing style and the main character, Lucy Stone, I plan to read more of her books.
This historic piece set during the Civil War was a bit more predictable than PRAYERS FOR SALE, but it did have well-developed characters with realistic responses to life's challenges. Once again, I really enjoyed the relationships developed between the women. Although it has "Christmas" in the title, the actual plot relies only briefly on the holiday so it can be enjoyed at anytime throughout the year.
This foodie novel is great because it uncovers the intricacies of dealing with cancer treatments while developing a realistic family drama. While there is a romantic element & a Christian perspective, both serve as backdrops for the main story of the title characters - sisters who have never faced the effects from losing their mother to cancer. I enjoyed seeing the growth of the characters, and the story was enhanced, not overwhelmed, by the discussion of recipes, food pairing, and preparation of chemo-friendly dishes.
While the family dynamics of this multigenerational tale was intriguing, the violence was over the top. While I enjoyed the finely wrought plot, I just couldn't read through the large sections of violence, especially toward women. I understand that the masculine violence was a large part of the character development, but still feel uncomfortable about recommending this title to others.
Another AMAZING tale from Jojo Moyes! Unlike ME BEFORE YOU & AFTER YOU, this novel flips between occupied France during WWII & current day London. As usual, Moyes presents finely drawn characters that readers can embrace & cheer along in the journey through the tightly woven tale of love, loss & sacrifice. I highly recommend this novel.
While I learned a great deal about the inequalities of the laws governing the residents of Native American reservations, I found this novel a bit overly sexual. It is about a group of 13 year old boys coming of age in 1988, but it still used language and references that were not necessary to build the plot or develop the characters. On the other hand, the character development was well done with little fall back on stereotypical characters. It did provide a lot of issues to discuss in our bookclub.
Paula Hawkins creates a tense thriller through the voices of three women... an ex-wife, the new wife, & a mercurial stranger. This reads a bit like the Hitchcock thriller Rear Window with a modern twist. What I loved about this book is that even while it develops the stereotype of the powerless woman, Hawkins moves us to see the strength of women when they fight together instead of fighting each other. I highly recommend this title - especially to book clubs.
This is another great historic piece by David McCullough. He builds a clear vision of these men from their early years in Dayton, OH and through their lifetimes. McCullough doesn't shy away from the controversies surrounding their inventions, but he doesn't let this be the defining of these brilliant men. He moves beyond the hype to investigate the other sides of them. Many of my favorite parts were the personal letters written between the brothers, their sister, and their father. McCullough helps the reader to see both Wilbur and Orville as distinct men, not just one half of a famous duo.
This was an outstanding read. William Landay creates a murder mystery surrounded by a seemingly normal family... a family built on misunderstandings, lies, and mistrust. The only confusing element is the time-lapsed storytelling. The narrator begins with a testimony before a grand jury which becomes woven into the retelling of events. I highly recommend this title to anyone who enjoys Grisham's legal dramas. This would be a great choice for book clubs because there will be lots of responses to the choices the parents make.
This engaging story of Beryl Markham engages the reader in an adventure from start to finish. With the boundary-busting Beryl at its center, this drama unfolds in Africa of the 1920's, visits England of the same period, and briefly touches upon her record-breaking flight across the Atlantic in 1936. I was drawn in by the dichotomy of Beryl's strength and fragility, her lucidity of thought and action and her impetuous naivete. I highly recommend this novel.
Liane Moriarty is definitely one of my favorite authors. She presents such three-dimensional characters that a reader can invest in as the plot develops. I find myself thinking about her characters long after I finish the last page. While she presents just enough predictability to make a reader comfortable, she still surprises you with the directions that her plots and characters take by the end. This story made me reevaluate my life, relationships, and choices. I highly recommend this title.
While it took me awhile to get into this novel, it was well worth the time. The main character, Marina, begins as a lukewarm, wishy-washy character, yet she evolves as she must choose between being carried along by the strong characters around her or stepping forward in a direction of her choosing. Patchett does a wonderful job of transporting her readers into the world of medical researchers in the heart of the Amazon rainforest and creating several tribes of indigenous peoples to develop this tale. I thoroughly enjoyed this title and highly recommend it.
While reading this title, I enjoyed learning more about small, natural science based vineyards. Laura Dave's lyrical writing brings the reader into the sensory setting of the family vineyard. This lush background becomes the setting for a story of siblings, parents, and lovers and the complicated relationships we share with them. Although there were some predictable elements, overall this was a good novel.
This is a finely crafted tale of Nazi-occupied France from 1941-44 told through the memories of a survivor in the 1990's. It is amazing to see the "Nightingale" evolve throughout the story. The characterization is realistic, yet not predictable. The plot unfolds gently with only purposeful descriptions of the violence of this era. I highly recommend this novel.
Tracy Chevalier does not disappoint with this one. Once again she is able to take characters that would appear to be secondary, almost dispensable characters, and turn them into sparkling characters that speak volumes with only a few words and thoughts. Both Elizabeth Philpot and Mary Anning jump off the pages through their words, relationships, and actions. I feel that I not only read a very satisfying tale about the power of the bonds between women, but also the early studies and discoveries in the field of paleontology. I highly recommend this title.
One of the main characters in this tale is deceased, but the reader is still entertained by her humor, insight, & bluntness. Throughout the story she speaks to the narrator, but not in a weird ghostly manner; it is more of a BFF knowing what her friend would think and say. I enjoyed the characters & their growth as the story weaves its way to a satisfying, if predictable, ending.
Daniel James Brown recreates the magic of the 1936 Gold medal-winning 8 man rowing team from the University of Washington. While I am not a fan of nonfiction, this piece kept me reading despite the fact that I knew how the story ended. Brown makes the reader want to find out the "rest of the story," not just the unbelievable ending race at the 1936 Olympics held in Nazi Germany. Most of this nonfiction narrative comes from the viewpoint of team member Joe Rantz. I would recommend this title to anyone interested in Olympic sports or anyone who likes to cheer for the underdogs. I enjoyed watching this collection of hard working young men and their coaches battle the sons of the privileged and the athletes who represented the Aryan superiority promoted by Hitler. It was uplifting to learn about the obstacles that the team had to overcome both individually and as a Washington team to reach their ultimate goal. This piece is well worth the read.
While I would not say that this book was a favorite, I did like DeCarlo's writing. Her main character Mattie is just not very likable. The best of the story unfolds in the final chapters. Although the ending redeemed the book to some degree, I still find it difficult to recommend it.
While the title is a jumping off point, Egan does not belabor the aphorism. I thoroughly enjoyed this read about how life changes when we least expect it. Alice, the main character, is a true example of the "sandwich generation" placed between raising a young family and aiding aging parents - while attempting to remake herself in a new, hip professional life. The family dynamics are realistic, but not daunting, and the growth of the characters is encouraging. An added dimension are the references to favorite books and authors, as well as the glimpse into the publishing world. I highly recommend this title.
This was one of those books that keeps you reading (or listening) because it moves fluidly between the present, the distant past, and the more current past. Ng presents the reader with characters that are complex enough to be interesting, yet familiar enough to relate to in some way. She also describes the subtle and blatant discrimination that the Chinese American characters faced in their lives without overdone drama so that it feels authentic. The reader does not feel as if they are being given a speech on race relations in mid- twentieth century America. Instead one feels as if she is putting together a puzzle in which a key element is this discrimination. I recommend this title for those who enjoy a good tale that pulls you into a mystery with strong characters who have strong motivations for their actions... some that they don't even understand themselves until it is too late.
I enjoyed this book, but what makes it a 3 instead of 4 is the predictability of certain elements of the plot. Ruth Ware does a nice job of unfolding the mystery while creating a modern twist on the big, creepy house on a deserted coast during a thunderstorm. This is Ware's debut novel. With her ability to write description and create interesting characters, I look forward to future titles.
I enjoyed this modern take on the gothic mystery genre. Arden Arrowood is back home in the ancestral home that she was forced to leave as a child after a family tragedy. As her new life back home develops, the reader learns about the tragedy that shaped her life and continues to haunt her. Add in an interesting journalist whose passion is searching for answers to cold cases and the story takes some unexpected turns.
Outstanding mystery! I have read one of Todd's books in his other mystery series, but this was the first in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series. It was a tightly written plot with just enough characters to make it interesting. The characters were genuine, not the overwritten, flamboyant characters seen too often in modern mysteries. I especially liked the depth of Inspector Rutledge's character. The only flaw was because of my ignorance of the area of Cornwall and some of the British elements. Beyond that, I think this title should appeal to most any mystery fan; I highly recommend it.
With this third and final installment of the Winter Street Trilogy, readers are satisfied to learn the fates of the Quinn family. With romances, weddings, and new beginnings, the Quinns continue their merry disfunction, yet as a reader I was happy with most of the outcomes. As with past titles, I was distracted by the choppy style of writing. For a large part of the novel, I felt as if I was reading Hilderbrand's outline for her novel instead of the final copy. This and her blending of present and past tense storytelling almost drove me to quit reading. What kept me going until the end were the characters... I feel like I could pick the Quinns out of a crowd on Winter Street, Nantucket. For this reason, I recommend this title.
Although this was just a fun, fluffy read, I enjoyed the narrator's wit and expression. I know that the setting is anything but realistic, but her life as a mom of a toddler and tween was very real. I also learned about elements of the spiritual battle as it is waged within the Catholic faith. If you just want to read some escapist lit, this is a good series to check out.
Once again Liane Moriarty has introduced readers to a group of characters with genuine emotions,conflicts, & challenges. The entire story pivots upon the day of a neighborhood barbecue. Moriarty provides the reader glimpses from each of the characters' perspectives on that day interspersed with story lines from the present and the past. The entire story of the barbecue incident is not completed until the final pages with two important perspectives... the elderly neighbor's & one of the children's. I enjoy the way Moriarty sparingly doles out pieces of the story while still keeping me invested in both the story & the characters. Once again, I left the novel wondering about the characters.... How will the girls remember the events of the barbecue...? Will the neighbors remain friends...? How will the couples move forward...?
This tale takes readers on a jaunt around NYC in the "It" dress of the season. The dress appears in expected & not-so-expected places on a variety of women. Readers get to peek into their lives along the way. I thoroughly enjoyed this quick, witty read. It has just enough conflict, humor, & romance to keep you guessing and reading. I recommend this as a quick, fun read.
I listened to this entire book on Audio which was an advantage because Jacqueline Woodson's writing has a lyrical quality that translates well into spoken art. I was intrigued by the detailed descriptions of Brooklyn in the 1970's, and Woodson brought me into the story by adding snippets of pop music from the era. She also created characters that are universal and timeless with genuine emotions, joys, and heartaches. While some readers might get lost in the lyrical, poetic style, I was energized by the rhythm of the words and phrases. Although the story ended too quickly, the narrator,August, and her girls - Gigi, Sylvia, and Angela - will linger in my mind for quite a long time. I highly recommend this title, but be forewarned that there are some descriptions of sexual encounters.
Kristin Hannah finely crafts her characters so that by the end of her books, you are still thinking about them and the consequences of their actions. I enjoyed the story of Lexi and the Farraday family, but some events were a bit predictable and others were a bit contrived. I still would recommend this title.
While I enjoyed the wild romp in this thriller, I do not feel that the author played fair with the reader. While trying to keep us interested, J.T. Ellison misleads us about characters and their true personalities. I have seen this compared to THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, but it is not as well written. I also feel that some of the graphic sexual descriptions were unnecessary for the character or plot development.
This my first book by Emma Donoghue. I was completely drawn in by her very delicate character development. The characters evolve so subtly that at times it took my breath away when a new development was uncovered. I highly recommend this title that questions so many things we all take for granted...
This book made me squirm... but isn't that a good thing? This is my first time to read Picoult, and I was immediately drawn into her well-developed characters and beautiful writing. I found myself marking more individual passages than I have in the last few books that I have read. I highly recommend this book for anyone who needs some reflection on the way we view others. I look forward to a good discussion when our book club finishes this title.
While I found this title predictable, perhaps others will not. I liked several of the minor characters, and parts of the story were interesting, but overall I was not thrilled with this novel. I found the writing and character development to be a bit flat and uninspired. On a positive note, the foreshadowing worked well.
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