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My Reviews

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Inspiring, Interesting

Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Dramatic, Adventurous
Looking Out For #1

Has there ever been such a life? You have to love Moll! She's a survivor!

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
 
Book Club Recommended
Difficult, Confusing, Insightful

"ON A FIELD, SABLE, THE LETTER A, GULES." Sin can be not only all consuming, but eternal! WOW!!! A psychological masterpiece.

 
Poorly Written, Unconvincing

The story is preposterous and so is virtually every character in the book. The over use of metaphors and similes (there seems to be hundreds and hundreds) is nauseating. The author's simplistic moralizing is condescending. After 600+ pages one learns that it's good to be compassionate and value human life. Also, that it's bad to play the role of God with others and take pleasure in their suffering.

 
Book Club Recommended
Gloomy, Insightful, Fantastic

A mesmerizing tale of how a man can adapt to a Hell like existence.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dark, Dramatic

A great sociological study of how humans react when propaganda, power, love, self-preservation and freedom collide.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Epic

Interesting family saga of how three generations are affected by a sudden change in social status, the disillusionment of finding their guiding principle is propped by falsehoods, and living through the collapse of that guiding principle.

Empire Falls by Richard Russo
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Fun, Insightful

An insightful view of the slow, gradual death of an American industrial town and how it impacts the lives of its inhabitants.

Tinkers by Paul Harding
 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Slow, Difficult

Some of the book was the tedious. I really liked the ending though. George is reunited with his father at the moment of his death and Howard reunites with his son long after he's died. When does a life truly end?

The Girls by Emma Cline
 
Book Club Recommended
Graphic, Dark, Insightful

What I found most gripping about the book was Evie's contemplation of her pent up hate as compared to the hate acted out by Suzanne. Evie was in thrall to Suzanne just as Suzanne was in thrall to Russell. At the end of the book Evie comes to realize that she probably would of done anything Suzanne told her to do, even cold blooded murder.

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dramatic, Informative

Wild journey down Mount Olympus, across the Atlantic, to the ups and down of 20th century Detroit. I truly enjoyed the ride!

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Dramatic, Gloomy

Sadly and ironically Brother Juniper's fate disproved what he hoped to find, that God is fair and just. He was unjustly martyrized by the Church for showing the unjustness of God.

 
Interesting, Boring, Informative

This book just wasn't my cup of tea. It was obvious that "The American" would be the one responsible for the explosion from the start. The only surprising thing about him was that he was not just a zealot, but an homicidal madman. The characters seemed to be superficially drawn. They felt like shallow descriptions (the stewardess, the cabin boy, the navigator, etc.). I couldn't feel the drama.

High-Rise: A Novel by J. G. Ballard
 
Book Club Recommended
Scary, Dark, Graphic

Although it took years and years for man to evolve, devolution may come in the blink of an eye. Scary stuff!

The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith
 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Optimistic, Inspiring

A morality play with an encouraging outcome of Man's inherent goodness triumphing against the evil's brought on by lust and greed.

The Kingdom of This World by Alejo Carpentier
 
Book Club Recommended
Dark, Fantastic, Insightful

The most insightful thing about the book to me was gaining knowledge as to how ineffectual it is in overcoming oppression to only react to it and have no better thought out plan to take its place. By merely vanishing the current oppressor with no other plan, a new oppressor will take his place and a vicious cycle will created. It takes a well thought out revolution for a society to defeat oppression and thereby achieve progress.

 
Optimistic, Romantic

This literary cup of tea has about dozen scoops of sugar in it. The book was sappy and predictable. I prefer my tea unsweetened.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Brilliant, Fun

Rick's hilarious stories within the story alone are worth the price of admission. Caveat emptor: I read some this book on a plane and looked like a fool laughing out loud! Reading this book has spurred me on to try and tackle "Infinite Jest".

The Crime of Father Amaro by Jose Maria Eca De Queiros, Margaret Jull Costa
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Dramatic

An insightful look at religious hypocrisy in the 1870's. Since then, religious hypocrisy has kept an even keel and made steady progress. It's amazing that the book was published in 1875 in a Catholic country. A film based on the book was banned in Mexico in 2002.

 
Informative, Interesting, Dramatic

Erik Larson is not an historian but a speculator. He writes as fact what no one alive witnessed. Also, the story of a 19th century psychopath is a subject matter that doesn't interest me. We have plenty of current day sickos who's lives don't interest me either of whom I could have not enjoyed reading about instead! I prefer fiction, but also enjoy non-fiction written by real historians. There's so many great books and so little time. To read this book is to squander precious time.

Love's Labour's Lost in Plain and Simple English by William Shakespeare, BookCaps
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Romantic

Funny scenarios that should be a riot on stage. I'm seeing a staged production of the play next month. I'm looking forward to it.

Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Dark, Insightful

Insightful play about a nihilistic malcontent who uses people as pawns to gain power and control in the game that is her life. Can she handle life when it takes control of the game?

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Romantic, Epic

Epic tale of love, power, and pride.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Dark

Insightful play about the death (in essence) of a family by its horrid and hidden sins.

A Man Called Ove: A Novel by Fredrik Backman
 
Beautiful, Fun, Insightful

A big heaping spoonful of banal, predictable treacle. (e.g. Big hearts often come disguised. e.g. To have a purpose and to feel needed are essential to a life that's worth living.) The author tries so hard to make you feel good it causes pain. Ove would have hated this book!

 
Book Club Recommended
Brilliant, Insightful, Graphic
A Precious Monstrosity

This is THE MOTHER OF ALL BOOKS. A literary monster simultaneously nonsensical and right on the mark! After years of putting off reading it, it's now my ultimate desert island book.

The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel by Diane Setterfield
 
Book Club Recommended
Brilliant, Interesting, Dramatic

The book is in many ways absurd and illogical. e.g. The fire scene was preposterous. Why did Miss Winter bother replacing the baby with a bolster? She already knew that Adeline was capable of burning the baby. Why let her start a fire in the library that she knows is full of cans of petrol? Miss Winter hid the cans of petrol there herself (this is stupid in itself). I did like the gothic ambiance of the book and the character Margaret. I too would shoot away at the idiot that's burning all the great book. Idiots are much easier to replace!

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Inspiring, Life Changing

"The Other Side of the Picture" is a brutally honest tale about the horrors of war and the whims of fate. Eva (*Full Disclosure: Eva Szabo is a dear friend) reveals all the good, the bad, and the ugly of her amazing life during the advent of Hitler, through the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, until her eventual immigration to the U.S.A. in 1951. I find the book reminiscent of the "Diary of Anne Frank" (Eva is about the same age). Like Anne Frank, Eva's story is of a coming of age during a time of horror where fate is as fickle as a roulette wheel and most of the numbers are losers. What fate had in store for Eva's friend Susi is heartbreaking. Despite all the misery and sorrow she experienced, Eva ends her book on uplifting note. Eva encourages us to release ourselves from a particular social environment and become Citizens of the World. "How beautiful and marvelous it appears as we observe it from the vantage point of satellites: the Earth, our planet, an integrated whole, with no arbitrary visible borders."

His Family by Ernest Poole
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Insightful

An insightful look at the lives of three sisters with completely different priorities. The oldest sister's priority is her family, the middle sister's is society, and youngest one is herself. Each sister is too extreme about what she finds most important. The father sees parts himself in each of his daughters, but through time, these characteristics have been mellowed and amalgamated and he has become a truly admirable person. Hopefully his daughters can do the same and pass on his legacy.

A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott
 
Pointless, Boring, Slow
Gone With a Puff

This is a corny love story lacking any insight into the many serious issues (e.g.anti-Semitism, racial discrimination against blacks, unconscionable wartime greed and hypocrisy) it glosses over. "A Touch of Stardust" is feather light book. Any substance gleaned in from its reading is soon gone with a puff. The use of the filming of "Gone with the Wind" as backdrop is ironic because if you juxtapose the literary value of the two books, one star for "A Touch of Stardust" is one star too many.

Animal crackers (French's Musical Library) by George S. Kaufman, Morrie Ryskind
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun

The script is really funny but it's the brilliant talents of the Marx Brothers that make the script hilarious. The movie is better.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Fun, Confusing

Although the Nicholas/Marlee scheme is implausible, the book is riddled with countless hooks that keep you turning the pages.Until the very end I thought the book portrayed both sides of the tobacco liability issue pretty evenhandedly. The ending was completely slanted anti-tobacco. The tobacco executives and the lawyers on both sides of the issue were all characterized as sleazebags. Do we really want an ambulance chaser as our next governor? "Morgan & Morgan, for the people." Are insurance adjusters not people too? :-)

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Difficult, Brilliant
Jumping Jacks For The Mind

If you enjoy mental calisthenics I highly recommend this book. If you like to avoid the cerebral gym and prefer to gorge on mind candy, skip it. From the book I gleaned that there is two sides to everything and it's possible to be on both sides at once (which might be really where you should be). One can be loyal while betraying. Everyone is right, and at the same time everyone is wrong. Black and White issues are all really Gray but are portrayed as either Black or White (in living color mainly) depending on who's making the movie. Nothing is more important than freedom and independence while at the same time NOTHING IS more important than freedom and independence (cost and viability are factors).

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Beautiful, Persuasive

"The Unbearable Lightness of Being" is chock full of insightful nuggets on human nature, personal happiness, eternal life (or lack there of), love, and Man's exploitive use of the Bible to justify it's abusive treatment of animals: "Perhaps a man hitched to the cart of a Martian or roasted on the spit by inhabitants of the Milky Way will recall the veal cutlet he used to slice on his dinner plate and apologize (belatedly!) to the cow." '...man is as much a parasite on the cow as the tapeworm is on man: We have sucked their udders like leeches. "Man the cow parasite" is probably how non-man defines man in his zoology books.' The book is not a literary masterpiece but offers a lot of food for thought.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Dramatic

Peel away the layers of pretension and illusion until you reach the very marrow of your true self and are you ready to bravely face the Big Bad Virginia Woolf (reality)? "We all peel labels, sweetie; and when you get through the skin, all three layers, through the muscle, slosh aside the organs and get down to bone...you know what you do then? When you get down to bone, you haven't got all the way, yet. There's something inside the bone...the marrow...and that's what you gotta get at." The play is packed with eye opening insights and intensity from start to finish.

The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic

A good sociological study of how complacency, stagnation, and a sense of superiority and entitlement get their comeuppance in a capitalistic world that is constantly progressing. I was disappointed by the farfetched happy ending. It felt contrived.

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