Member Profile

Username/Login : hlarson

My Reviews

 
Interesting, Dramatic, Fantastic
Interesting perspective of independent young woman

Heyday: A Novel by Kurt Andersen
 
Ambitious tale of young America with a cast of colorful characters, many the reader will already know.

Enjoyable read, although at times it felt as if Andersen was more of a tour guide than an author. Time and coincidence are major themes in the story. Andersen is deft in weaving together his story, events, and famous characters seamlessly. Heyday lives up to its title.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
 
Dramatic, Interesting, Dark
Gothic tale w/ complex characters, stories w/in stories and rich backdrops. Intrigue prevails.

The biographer is the least interesting of the many characters in Setterfield's novel. If you can get past her, you will enjoy the other eccentric characters and the many plot turns of this Gothic tale.

Thirteen Moons: A Novel by Charles Frazier
 
Insightful, Adventurous, Inspiring
Fascinating story of a man trying to preserve a way of life for the only family he knows, the Cherokees

Loosely based on the life of William Holland Thomas, Thirteen Moons, is the poetic story of bound boy taken in by a Cherokee chief. As a man, he does all he can to preserve their land and way of life, often to his own detriment. This story has somthing for everyone: romance, adventure, travel, wine, literature, history and politcs. Frazier has outdone himself; Thirteen Moons is better than Cold Mountain. Frazier has captured the beauty, strength and isolation of Appalachia and her people.

 
Unconvincing, Difficult, Confusing
Great first novel - solid characters and plot.

This is a story of a life cut off, just as it was beginning to take shape. You will mourn the loss of Razi's life and love, along with her, her friends and family. Get ready.

The story moves seamlessly back and forth through time, forcing the reader to question what is the present, how are we connected to our past, and what happens when we die?

Most of our book club enjoyed "The Mercy of Thin Air." Many compared it to "The Lovely Bones" because both books descibe what happens after death. We agreed that "The Mercy of Thin Air" is completely different and is a much better book. The writing is better and it is more thought provoking, less predictable.



Pelican Road by Howard Bahr
 
Gloomy, Slow, Boring
Like watching a slow train wreck - literally and figuratively.

If you\'re feeling manic and need to come back to earth, this is the book for you. If you\'re feeling a bit melancholy, this tale will bring on a full-blown depression. Bahr\'s descriptions of the beauty and solitude of a rural Southern night are second to none. His characters are sympathetic and believable.

 
Beautiful, Insightful, Inspiring
Characters and plot layers are revealed slowly and lyrically.

Tsukiyama's book is like a poem; rhythm and pace are as important as the subjects. The story is more than a coming of age story, more than a romance. Our book club found it delicate, contemplative, complex and peaceful. I highly recommend it for personal and group readling.

The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel by Diane Setterfield
 
Dramatic, Interesting, Dark
Fun gothic novel with intriguing charcacters and great setting.

Once you get past the main character's self absorption, the story is good. The characters of the past and present and the mysteries surrunding them make for great, fun reading. The book was not the best for indepth group discussion, although most of us enjoyed reading it.

Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson, Gabrielle Charbonnet
 
Romantic, Interesting, Beautiful
Light and lovely - an enjoyable read!

Perfect book for quiet Sunday afternoons or a beach vacation. I needed something light with a happy ending and Patterson filled the bill. The characters were well developed, and the plot had enough twists to keep it interesting. Not every book has to have politcial influence or philosophical undertones to be worthwhile.

Duma Key: A Novel by Stephen King
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Adventurous
As a King fan since I can remember, this is one of his best!

I would rank Duma Key up there with The Stand, Insomina and The Shining. Duma Key is subtley creepy, classic King. I loved the characters and all their human flaws. The setting was perfect. Thanks for a fantastic ride!

Loving Frank: A Novel by Nancy Horan
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Dramatic
Story of the ripple effect decision's one makes in pusuit of the perfect love

Revealing story of the romance between America's favorite architect,Frank Lloyd Wright, and his client, Mamh Cheney. Their affair ruins the lives of their families, friends and those around them, while celebrating beauty and nature. The decisions they made, which they constantly justify, end up hurting everyone involved. The story lends itself to great group discussion.

Nancy Honan weaves her fiction into history with ease. Sometimes the reader forgets where one begins and the other begins - excellent debut novel.

The Senator's Wife by Sue Miller
 
Boring, Pointless, Unconvincing
Character driven, but unconvincing in the end.

None of the characters seemed to grow or change as a result of the their actions and interactions, even Meri, who should have. Although Meri accepted and grew somewhat into her role as mother, she never accepted her other roles and responsibilities. Not particularly enlightening or inspriring, especially considering the opportunities Miller had set up for herself.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Interesting
Beautifully written and insightful story about a confusing and often terrifying disease.

Alice's story is one that needs to be shared and celebrated. Alzheimer's is often misununderstood and ignored, particularly early onset. This story is told with passion and compassion. I couldn't put it down. Alice is a brilliant woman who is completely caught off guard by the disease; she is literally struck down by it midstride in the prime of her life. I was moved to action. I have an idea for a fund raiser with my daughter's sorority, which supports Alzheimers. I cried the last half of the book - get your box of Kleenex out!

The Romanov Bride: A Novel by Robert Alexander
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dramatic, Informative
Interesting perspectives of the Russian Revolution - from the royal and the revolutionary.

Robert Alexander clearly knows his history and offers understanding into this fascinating era, but the Romanov Bride seemed to scratch the surface. I was looking for more detail, more meaning in the characters' actions. The story was good, but often repetitive. For example, how many times did the reader need to be told the bomb maker was beautiful, brilliant and Jewish? I would have liked additinal information on other aspects of her life. Telling the story from two perspectives gave it authenticity and allowed Alexander to bring the tale to a satisfying close.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Insightful
Beautiful , tragic story of finding love where you least expect it. I couldn't put it down!

Amazing story of the struggles of two women in war torn Afghanistan. Through their common enemies, the Taliban and their brutal, abusive husband, they develop a mutual respect and love for each other. Somehow they manage to survive and even thrive in this horrific world. Sad, beautiful and tragic - Hosseini has managed to eclipse his previous masterpiece, The Kite Runner. Graphic at times, but well worth the read.

 
Insightful, Dramatic, Inspiring
Well-written but without intent. None of the characters moved me.

 
Graphic, Slow, Fun
Enjoyable, coming of age tale set in rural depression-era South.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Ferrol Sams semi-autobiographical story about growing up outside of Atlanta during the depression. His take on racial relations of the times, drinking, tolerance and etiquette were accurate (based on stories I've heard from family members and others) and extremely entertaining. The reason I don't recommend it for book clubs is that there simply isn't much to discuss. If you ever have a chance to hear Dr. Sams speak, which he does on rare occassions, take advantage of it. He's a terrific speaker and a true Southern gentleman.

The 19th Wife: A Novel by David Ebershoff
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Interesting story of the Mormans and polygamy in the early days of the church and in sects now.

The past and present stories are fascinating. The author did an admirable job weaving the two. I found Ann Eliza Young to be a bit melodramatic. Of course she may have been in real-life as well. I also found her story and that of her mother to drag. I was more interested in the present day story, which I did not feel ended realistically. The book lends itself to great discussion for groups, but I can't say that I particularly enjoyed reading it.

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
 
Book Club Recommended
Dark, Beautiful, Dramatic
Gothic adventure set in Barcelona with twists and turns to keep the reader guessing.

Although I enjoyed Shadow of the Wind more, The Angel's Game delivers. The reader finds himself/herself in another world and completely off guard. Barcelona is described perfectly; she is mysterious, beautiful and tempting.

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Fun
Fun and facsinating look at the salem witch trails from a fresh perspective.

Well-researched and well-written story of a Harvard doctoral candidate who discovers the possible existence of a Salem witch's spell book. The central character, Connie, is believable (although a bit slow on the uptake for for a Harvard post grad) as she deals with the increasing responsibilities of her new role as doctoral candidate, daughter caring for an aging hippie mother living across the country, and sudddenly having to sell her deceased grandmother's home - all while preparing her dissertation for an increasingly demanding and unprecdictable department chair. Throw in a little adventure, romance and witchcraft and you have quite a fun read!

 
Book Club Recommended
Slow, Interesting, Confusing
Subtle, sad awakening of a group of students and their inevitable fates

What starts out as an idyllic tale of children in an English boarding school ends in the lonely realization that one must accept his or her destiny. Each chapters reveals a bit more of Kathy's, Ruth's and Tommy's dark future.

The Lost Diary of Don Juan: A Novel by Douglas Carlton Abrams
 
Romantic, Fun, Adventurous
Fun, swashbuckling romance with Don Juan's backstory and plenty of intrigue.

A pleasure to read but not much for a group discussion. The descriptions of Sevilla and the Spanish countryside are wonderful. The author puts you on the scene as it unfolds. Enjoyable book for the beach or passing time while on vacation.

Doc: A Novel by Mary Doria Russell
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Fantastic
Wild west at its best! A fresh look at Doc Holiday and the boys.

The dime store novels that made Doc Holiday, Wyatt Erp and his brothers famous didn't do the necessary research, and certainly didn't do them justice. Not one to be a spoiler, I don't want to give too much away. You'll learn much about these wild west heroes - their short-comings, their values and their famous relations. Once again, Russell delivers. If you haven't read The Sparrow and its sequel, Children of God, give them a read.

 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Informative, Interesting
Complexities of mother-daughter relationships across generations, cultures & continents

Amy Tan does it again in this moving story about three generations of women, and how each daughter struggles to relate to her mother, and find herself while somehow finding common ground between the two.

Caleb's Crossing: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Slow
New perspective on the cultural clashes of New England

Fascinating story of the cultural differences for Indians, women and white settlers of New England in the 1600s. The story is loosely based on the first native American graduate of Harvard who came from what is now known as Martha's vinyard.

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Dramatic, Informative
Amazing story of a POW's resilience in the face of overwhelming adversity

Incrediable true-life story that reads like a made for Hollywood script. At times the descriptions of the torture of the prisioners and conditions of the POW camps are graphic and upsetting. The cruelty and dehumanizing treatment is nearly unbearable. Hillenbrand is beyond thorough in her research, often going off in tangents that are not directly related to the main story. The pace drags at times; other times you are caught up in the adventure and can't wait to find out what will happen next.

 
Adventurous, Interesting, Fun
Interesting premise, fun characters but disappointing ending - a true letdown.

Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin
 
Insightful, Life Changing, Confusing
LIT - Lost In Translation?

Perhaps the story was easier to follow in Korean than in English. For me the story dragged and was occasionally both repetitive and confusing. The author's use of the second person had me wondering at times who was speaking to whom. Others in our book club felt the same. Interestly the books we dislike often lead to our more lengthy and engaging conversations, as did this one.

Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Dark, Interesting
Wicked fun! I couldn't wait to see what would happen next in this romance turned murder mystery!

Full of twists and turns, the plot and characters are clever and cunning. You constantly questioned their motives and alibis. A terrific "who-dunnit!"

 
Unconvincing, Slow, Boring
Couldn\'t get through it

I rarely stop reading a book. This one sounded interesting. I had a difficult time getting into it, and never finished it. Everyone else in our club echoed my feelings. I don\'t know one member who completed it. In writing class you hear about the \"fifty page dash (or 100 page\\\" to hook the reader. I gave this book fifty pages in spite of how bored I was. I came back to it and tried to give it another fifty pages. I couldn\'t do it - not with so many good books available. What a shame!

The Language of Flowers: A Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Beautiful, Interesting
A new language and a new perspective

I\\\'ve always been interested in the Victorian\\\'s meanings for flowers. I had no idea how extensive and layered the language was. This made for an interesting background for the story of a girl who desparately wants to belong to a family and to be loved. Her struggles with multiple foster families make it nearly impossible for her to trust anyone, much less love anyone.

 
Book Club Recommended
Great premise HUGE disappointment

The premise is interesting. The book is well-researched. The parallels drawn are intriguing.Cahn had the opportunit to create a truly compelling story that could motivate people, a nation to action. Instead he preached to his readers, telling them the same things over and over as if they were incapable of learning or remembering anything. A good editor could have helped. The book does provide interesting discussion points, if you can get past the lecture and the redundancy.

 
Informative, Interesting, Fun

The Precious One: A Novel by Marisa de los Santos
 
Interesting, Insightful, Romantic

The Secret Chord: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks
 
Insightful, Informative, Interesting

 
Adventurous, Romantic, Unconvincing

The Nightingale: A Novel by Kristin Hannah
 
Dramatic, Informative, Inspiring

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
 
Fun, Addictive, Dramatic

 
Beautiful, Insightful, Dramatic

MEMBER LOGIN
Remember me
BECOME A MEMBER it's free

Join the leading website for book clubs with over 35,000 clubs and 20,000 reading guides.

SEARCH OUR READING GUIDES Search
Search


FEATURED EVENTS
PAST AUTHOR CHATS
JOIN OUR MAILING LIST

Get free weekly updates on top club picks, book giveaways, author events and more
Please wait...