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My Reviews

Loving Frank: A Novel by Nancy Horan
 
Informative, Interesting, Dramatic
Would you be willing to sacrifice everything for love?

Would you be willing to sacrifice everything for love? It seems that Mamah Cheney and Frank Lloyd Wright do exactly that. They begin an affair in the early 20th century when Elizabethan morals still have a strangle-hold on society and openly live together while still married to their spouses. She walks away from a loving husband, her two small children, and a comfortable, carefree lifestyle in Oak Park. While he leaves behind a loyal and dedicated wife and their six children in order to pursue a "true life". This book will provoke all sorts of discussions ranging from morality, loyalty, narcissism, and genius.

Cross Creek by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
 
Slow, Interesting
Cross Creek

Somewhat of an autobiography of writer Marjorie Keenan Rawlings life in Cross Creek Florida. Written towards the end of the depression it was hard to identify with. Ms Rawlings left her life and husband in the north in order to find inspiration for her work. She bought an orange grove sight unseen and naively thought to make a living off of it. What she learned along the way, as well as living in the small community of Cross Creek led up to her Pulitzer Prize winning novel "The Yearling". Interesting characters but slow moving and at parts tedious.

Run With the Horsemen by Ferrol Sams
 
Graphic, Slow, Fun
Run with the horseman

Tom Sawyer, depression era, deep south. Same song, different tune.

 
Confusing, Slow, Interesting
Bridge of Sighs

Sometimes an author receives excellent book reviews based on a previous publication (Empire Falls). I think this was the case with Bridge of Sighs. We found it slow, very confusing, and down right boring.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck
 
Book Club Recommended
Dark, Romantic, Epic
East of Eden

It was alright, dated. The character of Adam was too pious for my tastes and I couldn't wait for him to die. Too bad it wasn't until the end of the book.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Fun, Interesting
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Just a brief review. We found it informative and insightful for none of us knew of the occupation or the existence of these islands. It did take a while to get all the characters straight though. And, what the islanders had to cope with and do without during their occupation. It was a very hopeful book.

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Insightful, Optimistic
The Lecture

Although I applaud Randy Pausch for his efforts to "enlighten" his students to the meaning of life, I think that his family lost out on valuable time. His children might never remember him other than the lecture movie, but his wife lost the last months of his life while he was touring. I personally think it was a little selfish and self serving. Did the book change my life? No. Did it make me re-evaluate my life and choices? No. I do recognize the the value of the book. It was meant to inspire, and give hope and I suppose elicite some sympathy, which it did to a certain extent, but I felt that it was singular to Randy Pauschs' situation only and would be very difficult to repeat if given to another.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Slow, Insightful
A good scent from a strange mountain

Since this was written pretty close to the end of the Vietman War (4 years) I can see where it could be "maybe" a contender for a pulitzer, but 30 years later? I don't know. It gives you insight into what the Vietnamese refugees went through starting over here in America, but to me it seemed like, oh I don't know, boring. It was just a bunch of short stories that left you most of the time saying "what"? I am glad that I read it, I would have never picked it out myself. One must broaden ones horizons.

 
Book Club Recommended
Difficult, Confusing, Epic
Kavalier and Clay

Well,I would have never read this book if it had not been for our bookclub. I found it a little too wordy. There was an incredible amount of research that was involved in writing this story as well as an extensive outline. Mr Chabon really did his homework on this one. So many subject matters and characters.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Dark, Insightful
American Pastoral

Wow! You really had to pay attention to what you are reading in the book. There is one paragraph that changes the entire tone of the book for me. I pointed this out at book club and the whole room had an ah ha moment and it all came together for them. No spoilers here, but definitely worth the effort.

Café Con Leche by Jack Eugene Fernandez
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Adventurous
Cafe Con Leche

Living in the Tampa Bay area it was wonderful to visit and get insight into what life was like in the early days of Ybor City. The characters were brought to life with ease. Although it is a work of fiction, the research and headlines were all accurate and depicted a believable story line. I think that the character Pablo was intended to be the "main" character but Matilde stole the book and storyline.
But for me, what made this book exceptional was having the author present for the book club meeting. Dr Jack Fernandez and his lovely wife Sylvia graciously joined us for our discussion and lunch, then generously took us on a walking tour of Ybor City. What a wonderful day it was!

Advise and Consent by Allen Drury
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Graphic
Advise and Consent

I'm glad that I read it. It was a little dated, written in 1958. There are countries that don't even exist now that did then. The cold war with Russia, etc... But it gives you insight into the political machine that is Washington. Politicians haven't changed that much. Still greedy, in office way too long, and all together just full of themselves.

 
Inspiring, Informative, Insightful
Three cups of tea

I think the concept is a good idea, but I think that Greg Mortenson is self serving, with a huge ego. To me this book was written to satisfy that ego.

The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster
 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Optimistic, Insightful
The Brooklyn Follies

One of our book club members read this and loved it, suggested it as one of our monthly reads. I personally don't get it. The Brooklyn Follies is just a read. I put it in with the trashy/romantic novels. Something to read, not life altering, easily forgettable.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
 
Fun, Confusing, Adventurous
Confederacy of Dunces

I have a very difficult time dealing with people who think that they are entitled. So in the first few pages of this book I decided that I hated the main character and he deserved whatever calamity came his way.

After reading nothing but Pulitzer Prize winning novels this year, my main question is "What are the guidelines for deciding a Pulitzer novel?" Randomness?

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Inspiring, Interesting
The Help

Wuthering Heights (Penguin Classics) by Emily Brontë, Pauline Nestor
 
Book Club Recommended
Gloomy, Beautiful, Dark
Wuthering Heights

Ms Bronte takes revenge to a new level as far as Heathcliff goes. It's hard to identify with the characters and their lifestyles because of the time frame. 99% of what happened to each and everyone of them at some point in their lives is now a crime with severe punishments. Then again, what Cathy does to Heathcliff, throwing him over for money, comfort and a social standing is still done today. The one thing we all agreed on was that when we read this as young adolescent girls it was a wonderful love story that left us sighing. As an adult, not so much.

 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Informative, Beautiful
Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

I cannot believe how much prejudice there is in the world. How it's passed down from generation to generation. I cannot understand how people live with themselves with so much hatred eating away at them. It takes a strong man/women to stand up to such hatred and that's the case with Henry and his story. Insightful as to the struggles of the Japanese Americans during WWII and the atrocities that the American people did to them out of stupidity and fear.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Dark
South of Broad

If anyone has ever been or has relavtives that live in Charleston, this should ring a bell. Secrets are a way of life. I had forgotten how lyrical Pat Conroys writing is. You can hear the sing song accents of Charleston with each sentence. This is not a life altering novel, but it is a comfortable read.

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Dramatic, Informative
Unbroken

Such misery, tragedy, suffering and then hope and forgiveness. What makes the human race so vile? Tha they can do such atrocities to each other? And then, what makes them forgive. I think that this is a very existential question.

Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon
 
Brilliant, Difficult, Gloomy
Lord of Misrule

I hated this book. First, the dialect. I could not get the rhythm of her writing. It was stop go stop go and I had a very difficult time finishing it. Then in the next chapter is was somewhat smoother. URG!

Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
Room

Although I liked the book, it creeped me out as well. One has to wonder with all the details that Ms Donoghue goes through that she has or know someone who has experienced this situation. Jack got on my nerves alot and I can see why she would have to have her quite time and headaches. 11x11 that's a tiny space for two people for 5 years.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
In the Garden of Beasts

Thank you Erik Larson! I have been asking the question "How did Hitler get into power like he did, and get away with it?" And now I know. He has answered so many questions for me. This is a must read for anyone who loves history, but also for those who seek an understanding of how Hitler rose to power, and became the monster that he was.

The Language of Flowers: A Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
 
Insightful, Beautiful, Interesting
The Language of Flowers

I didn't care for this book. I don't have patience for pity parties and that's what I felt was going on in this book. I realize that Victorias past is not homey and wholesome, but a lot of that is self inflicted and just plain lack of communication. What is all boils down to is that communication is so simple and so necessary to maintain relationships and that people screw things up with "what they think someone else is thinking of them or about them" and it's not the case at all.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Killing Lincoln

For such an abrasive newscaster he makes a really good story teller. I learned quite a bit from this book and am glad that I read it. Lincoln was a courageous President and I think probably the first "gadget" geek being addicted to the new found telegraph system. Mary Lincoln was portrayed as a very unstable, insecure, clingy woman and I am glad that I never knew her. John Wilkes Booth, well history speaks for itself and he should have died a much more difficult death for all the damage he did just for the sake of "becoming famous and remembered throughout history", what a massive ego.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Dramatic, Interesting
The Hunger Games

This book was written for the "Tweens", but honestly I think that it resonates with all age groups. Although it's a little futuristic and a far fetched you think to yourself, this could happen. I loved the character developement and the family dynamics in play. To the point of reading all three books back to back. Lost a week to the Hunger Games, but enjoyed every minute of it!

A Land Remembered by Patrick D., Smith
 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Informative, Interesting
A Land Remembered

Everyone should know the history of the state that they live in, that being said, A Land remembered is a work of fiction but is historically accurate. These characters were tough, I can't even imagine living in Florida without air conditioning! The bugs, prehistoric creatures in fresh water and an unforgiving terrain, you had to be tough and determined. A land remembered is a really good book that will make you appreciate all that you have.

The Water Is Wide by Pat Conroy
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Inspiring
The water is wide

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