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Name : Mandy B.

My Reviews

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dramatic, Adventurous
VERY slow start, but ended okay

This first 60% of this book was EXTREMELY slow and I was not very motivated to pick it up and continue reading. Definitely not a page turner...until the end. The last part of the book became very fast-paced, and had an almost soap-opera-like ending.

I think it is good for a book club because it is an easy read...just hard to get into right off the bat.

Book Club Recommended
Fast-Paced, Easy Read - THUMBS UP!

Wow. Great story and great moral to that story. Lehane was able to concisely put into perspective the disconnect between politicians and the public they serve, while developing an entertaining plot-line and interesting characters. I'm hooked on the Kenzie and Gennaro series now. Book two, get ready.

Informative, Interesting, Insightful
GREAT book. Club worthy if you want a heavy topic

Very interesting read. I wasn\\\'t too sure what to make of the story during the first section of the book, since the author came across as almost pretentious, but by the end I realized how wrong my first impression was.

I was beyond impressed by Calahan\\\'s ability to balance and smoothly transition between the personal effects of the disease with the scientific aspect of it. I especially enjoyed the explanation of how the disease affects different parts of the brain, resulting in such a broad-range of symptoms.

It\\\'s a beautiful story of one woman\\\'s battle with a scary and newly-discovered disease, as well as how her battle affected her closest family and friends. The close-knit bonds of the family remained strong throughout a very trying time, not knowing what the future would bring.

Very well-written and hard to put down.

The members of my book club like the lighter reads, since we don\\\'t talk too in-depth about the books during our get-togethers. That said, if your club wants to read something more scientific, go for it.

Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Inspiring, Beautiful
Shockingly Optimistic

Even with the dark subject matter, Green\\\'s use of dialect, humor and innuendos of human nature\\\'s \\\"good side\\\", left me with a feeling of closure and fulfillment. I definitely did not expect to experience such peaceful feelings by the end of this book.

Be prepared for an emotional story, but it\\\'s also a beautiful one. Two descriptions that don\\\'t always go hand-in-hand in literature. I had a true sense of peaceful closure upon finishing the book.

The book is written as narrated by the main character, but each character plays its own unique role, truly providing even more life to the story.

It\\\'s a book you can really get lost in, and never want to put down. I honestly think I finished this book faster than any other!

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Adventurous, Interesting, Dramatic
Even 1 Star is Being Generous

Sadly disappointed because I normally love Dan Brown. Not only was the book WAY too long, there was no logical flow to the story so was very difficult to follow. Ironically, even with no flow, it was extremely predictable. My advice? Don\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'t waste your time.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Inspiring

Wow. This book blew me away. I have always been fascinated by the era of slavery and how such a despicable thing even existed. Sue Monk Kidd perfects illustrating how both slaves and their owners lived together, the few positive ways and many horrible ways. The characters were well-developed, so the read can easily relate to the narrators and other characters. The scene was also well-described, so the reader can \"put themselves\" in the book.

This book would be great for book clubs, or anyone who wants to read about how strength, hope and empowerment can exist, even in the most dire situations.

Looking for Alaska by John Green
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dramatic, Addictive
Great choice for book clubs

Perfect for a book club because there are a lot of discussion topics. Quick and easy read too. Highly recommend it!

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Romantic, Interesting
Great choice for your book club

The book is a VERY quick read...but since there were a number of characters in the story, it may have been TOO quick since none seemed to be fully developed. Definitely an easy book to discuss a book club. Using the questions found on as a starting point, new topics were brought up and created an even more in-depth discussion.

Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Inspiring, Beautiful
Get ready for an emotional roller coaster ride!

I don't know how she does it, but JoJo Moyes succeeds in taking a very dark subject matter and making it an inspiring and powerful novel. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll get angry. This is a real page-turner book, too. I didn't want to put it down!

As far as a book club is concerned, you can't really top this one as a choice. The conversations will be endless.

Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Romantic, Epic
Easy read that allows easy discussion

This book was VERY easy to read for our entire group, and hard to put down for me. Greek myth has always interested me, so this book was right up my alley. I loved how the narrator's thoughts were so clear to the reader - it was almost as if you were in his head! Warning: Before you choose this book for your club, be sure there is no one opposed to "liberal" love stories, since it's very much a part of this book. Also, I loved that there was a glossary of the characters at the end of the book.

I gave this book 5 stars because of the ease of reading and flow of the story line. Other than a slow bit in the middle of the book, I found this book difficult to put down.

I think this is a great choice for book clubs, because there is a lot of room for discussion. I used the questions on and they were perfect. Some people know a lot about Greek myth, some do not. The glossary of characters will help the reader a great deal.

Poorly Written, Pointless

Writing was awful, written more like a screenplay than novel. Characters were extremely under-developed. The 'love story' between the two main characters was ridiculous to believe, and the immaturity of two 30-somethings was even worse. Don't waste your time; even if you're looking for a romance novel. Wish I hadn't!

Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Dark, Interesting
Kudos, Gillian Flynn!

Seriously, who thinks up this type of story? Definitely a page turner, full of plot twists and turns. Characters were fully developed and believable (even with all of the insanity). I found myself hating both of the narrators at different points in the story but by the end, I actually LIKED them. Since I don't want to include spoilers in this review, that's about all I can say, this book is THAT good.

Pointless, Poorly Written
Don't waste your time

Honestly...I waited for the story to end LIKE THIS??!!? And by "end", I mean a shameless intro to I'm sure another series by Cassandra Clare. There's nothing worse than new pivotal characters being introduced in the last book of a series. The way this book ended, I'd be shocked if there isn't a spin-off series.

The only reason I finished the book is because I had already invested so much time in in, but to be honest - I didn't love the last couple of books in this series. Definitely good have been completed in 3 or 4 books at MOST. This book just dragged on way too much - most of it setting the stage for a spin-off.

In my humble opinion, the only way this book could have been saved is if it were incorporated in the previous books and therefore not written at all.

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Graphic, Interesting
Lots of discussion to be had!

First off, I was disappointed in this book after reading it, but the discussions we had during our book club helped me look at it in a brand new light so I ended up actually liking it! This book allows for a LOT of topics for discussion. Using the LitLovers questions, we could have talked about this book forever. I was disappointed with the book is because none of the characters were really likeable (save one or two). Although the dialogue was comical, the story was a depressing one. I was hoping for for a happier ending, but it left me wanting to know more. Overall, the book was alright. I definitely recommend it for book clubs because it is so easy to discuss. Have fun!

Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Dramatic, Informative
Fascinating story, yet difficult reading

Our book discussions normally last about an hour or so. When discussing this book, two hours had past without anyone realizing it. Louie's story is captivating and allows for much discussion.

While we were fascinated by Louie's life story and the details provided about his life and the POWs, we were not big fans of the way the book was written. Hillenbrand's descriptions were fully developed, but she would add comments/information about "characters" who were introduced briefly, so it was hard to remember who she was discussing. When we were finally able to follow one storyline, she would jump to something else. We found that her writing required undivided attention so we were unable to read more than a few pages at a time.

Because of Louie's extraordinary life, most of us finished reading the book.

Brilliant, Informative, Adventurous
Mixed reviews within our club

While half our our club couldn't finish the book because it bored them to tears, others loved it. Because it was 50/50, we weren't able to discuss the book in too much detail. Personally the book was certainly not a page turner. It was difficult for me to get invested in any of the characters and I was easily bored. Helpful hint: skim through the parts going over the science of mosses. I found myself struggling through this section of the book but had I skimmed through it, I would have still been able to follow the story. Honestly wish that part was removed entirely!

Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Inspiring, Romantic
Clear book club choice

Even with the dark subject matter, Green's use of dialect, humor and innuendos of human nature's "good side", left me with a feeling of fulfillment. I definitely did not expect to experience such peaceful feelings by the end of this book.

Be prepared for an emotional story, but it's also a beautiful one. Two descriptions that don't always go hand-in-hand in literature. I had a full sense of serenity closure upon finishing the book.

The book is written as narrated by the main character, but each character plays its own unique role, truly providing even more life to the story.

It's a book you can really get lost in, and never want to put down. I honestly think I finished this book faster than any other I've ever read.

Because it's such an addictive read and subject matter, it is perfect for a book club. Lots of things that can be discussed!

Bossypants by Tina Fey
Fun, Boring, Interesting
Eh...okay at best

I love Tina Fey so had high expectations for this book. Unfortunately the book did not live up to them. Don't get me wrong, there were some very funny chapters (regarding every day experiences), but others that seemed almost whiney (sp?). Regarding her celebrity life, it was (obviously hard) for me to relate, but her writing almost came across as 'high and mighty'. I still love my Tina, but wouldn't recommend this book to the other Tina lovers...I don't like thinking of her as someone I wouldn't want to hang out with!

Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Dark, Interesting
Dark, but LOVED IT!

Seriously, who thinks up this type of story? Definitely a page turner, full of plot twists and turns. Characters were fully developed and believable (even with all of the insanity). I found myself hating both of the narrators at different points in the story but by the end, I actually LIKED them. Since I don\\\'t want to include spoilers in this review, that\\\'s about all I can say, this book is THAT good.

Kudos, Gillian Flynn!

The Drop by Dennis Lehane
Boring, Poorly Written
Don't waste your time

** spoiler alert **

I like Lehane, but this book is not good at all. It was just...boring. I wanted to read it before seeing the movie, but now I'm not even sure I'll watch the movie.

The story is kind of confusing and all over the place. Characters are ridiculously underdeveloped and the plot line is shoddy at best. The only reason I gave it 2 stars is because I was able to finish it so quickly. While the twist at the end was somewhat clever, it just wasn't believable, as far as the cop was concerned.

Had the characters been fully developed (or at least likable), maybe the plot would've been better. There was potential for a good story, but Lehane falls VERY short with this one. Disappointing.

Even though it's a short read, don't waste your time.

Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Slow, Confusing
Only okay

Although the novel dragged at times, the story of Mary Queen of Scots is a worthy story. Not many of our book club members read the book because it was so slow. It wasn't until I got about 2/3 of the way through that the plot seemed to quicken. There were a lot of characters to keep track of, so that was a big complaint among our club. I liked the three-person narrator format; however, I did not find any of the characters extremely protaganostic. For that reason, much discussion can certainly result. Overall, this book was okay. I enjoyed reading about Mary, since I did not know too much about her story. The Elizabethan era strikes me as a romantic one, so I did like that part of the novel. If it weren't for my book club, I don't think I would have finished this book though.

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
Romantic, Interesting, Inspiring

Realizing I was reading a Nicholas Sparks book, I had my tissues ready. However, this time tears fell over the simply beautiful love story between Ira and Ruth.

While the end of the book was predictable, I wasn't disappointed. It left me with a feeling of peace and happiness, a romantic notion of what I hope life is all about.

One of the things I loved most about this book was the simple details Sparks includes in his writing, like Ruth's dialogue. Because English was her second language, having her speak without contractions helped bring her character to life even more.

Using parallel love stories was another brilliant style of this book. I especially enjoyed how the elderly couple's relationship was told from the end looking back, while the younger's was from the beginning liking forward. I also liked how he left out the details of the bedroom scenes, since those weren't intricate to the story at all.

However, this book doesn't leave a lot of room for discussion in a book club. For that reason, I do not recommend it for a club. For your own personal enjoyment, absolutely!

Adventurous, Insightful, Interesting
Not for adult book clubs

...but would work for young adult/teenage book clubs. There was not much of a book discussion had during our club meeting.

The book itself was a bit "been there, done that" for me, after reading "The Hunger Games" series. Like "The Hunger Games", this book has a post-apocalyptic setting, corrupt government, defined social classes, a teenage heroine and a love story. However, there are definitely differences between the two novels.

I saw the movie first, and as per usual, the book was better. For an adult book club choice, this novel didn't work for us. It's worth reading.

Plain Truth: A Novel by Jodi Picoult
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Insightful, Dramatic
Another Picoult success!

Picoult has truly mastered the art of bringing a story and characters to life. Her descriptions of scenery allows the reader to fully submerge into the story. I found it is quite easy to become emotionally involved with each of the characters. The novel started on a strong note, but became a little slow somewhere in the middle before it picked up again.

It is hard to pick one genre where the novel would fall. It has drama, mystery, romance, etc. Really a good choice for fans of any of those genres. If you're a Picoult fan, you won't be disappointed either.

You can tell Picoult has done a lot of research based on her description of the Amish community. Allows the reader much insight into the Amish way of life.

This book left me trying to figure out what happened until the end. Even left some room for interpretation after that!

Our club had a very lively discussion about this book. I used the questions found on the Lit Lovers website, but a couple of other possible discussion questions were brought up (see below).

Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Optimistic, Dramatic
Good enough for book club

So it's predictable. And Hallmark-y. But it's an easy read and allowed for much discussion. We used some of the questions on LitLovers to open the discussion and went from there.

The majority of our book club members didn't finish the book because they didn't really like it. Others really liked it and I only liked it. Because of the mixed reviews, I went with the average when rating the book.

The characters were sufficiently developed, as was the plot. I wouldn't go so far to say that the story is a beautiful one, but it is certainly a pleasant one. The big problem I have with this book (and others like it) are that it is written almost as a screenplay (e.g. She turned and put the coffee mug down...). If you can get over that and are looking for a story that will entertain and hold your attention, this book is a good choice for your club.

The Heist: A Novel (Fox and O'Hare) by Janet Evanovich, Lee Goldberg
Fun, Adventurous
Great book...not great for book clubs.

Although there was a slow start, the further into the book I got, the faster-paced it became and I didn't want to put it down! The characters were all likeable in their own way, and the author's writing style really painted a picture of how they interacted with each other. You could really put yourself in the book by Evanovich and Goldberg's writing. I already added the other books in the series to my Good Reads "to-read" list.

While this is a fun and fast-paced book, it really didn't leave much for discussion. Luckily our book club doesn't really get into too many deep or intellectual conversations about the books we read. We all really like the book though so I recommend it to anyone looking for a quick read. It's also a good book for a start-up or laid-back book club.

Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Interesting
Great read, after the slow start

Although I found this book had very slow start, after the plot started to thicken (about 30% in), I couldn't put it down. Part of the reason I think I had trouble getting through the first third of the book is because I know very little about Chinese culture or traditions during the setting of this novel.

After the 'slow' start, I became more entwined with the story and realized the first third of the book was extremely useful and necessary because it helped set the stage and truly develop the characters.

The author succeeds in painting a picture not only of this era in Chinese history, but also how destructive anger, stubbornness and selfishness can be. My heart went out to both Lily and Snow Flower. I was fully attached to both characters and found the ending beautiful.

After You: A Novel by Jojo Moyes
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Insightful, Inspiring
Good, but not as good as "Me Before You"

Our club absolutely LOVED "Me Before You". However, unlike "Me Before You", I (or the club) wasn't loving this book right away. I thought there were too many characters and the plot was all over the place. But Moyes pulled it off again. The book was incredibly hard to put down.

What I didn't like about this book was the inability to relate to any of the new characters. Lou's parents' relationship developments were completely out of the blue, too, based on what I remembered from the first book. The dry humor and quick-witted dialogue brought it all together though.

All in all, Moyes put together another great story about people and relationships, and how humans continue to grow throughout their lives. Because I love Moyes' writing style and Lou's character, I'm giving this 4 stars (instead of the 5 I gave "Me Before You").

The Nightingale: A Novel by Kristin Hannah
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Informative, Inspiring
Book club LOVED it, I didn't

I gave this book 4 stars, based on the opinion of the rest of my club. Most of them would've given it 5 stars. Personally, I would have given it 2 stars.

As much as the writing was superb, the characters fully developed and the clearly evident large amount of research the author put into this novel, I felt that there was just something missing. Something I honestly can't put my finger on, so I am not sure my 2-star rating is truly fair to the author. At the risk of sounding completely cold-hearted, the ending was a bit Hallmark-y to me.

That said, I do not want to take away from Hannah's impeccable writing. She does not miss ONE detail. I was able to easily imagine the scenery (views, scents, etc.) It's a beautiful story about sisters, family and relationships, during a horrifying era. The first two sentences of this book's synopsis sums up the message I took away from this novel.

This book is PERFECT for a book club. There were so many discussion points and it's an easy book to really delve into with others. We used the discussion topics from

Slow, Dramatic, Interesting
Not a fan

Our book club voted that this book was just not good. We weren't happy with how long the book was and only ended at the teenage years. We will not be moving on to the next books in the series. There was no closure with this book. Had it been more fast-paced or gotten more to the point, we may be more apt to pick up the next book, but we didn't get attached to any of the characters will enough to care to go on with the series.

Unconvincing, Boring, Interesting
Interesting but...

...there lacked substance/support to the her findings. There were bits and pieces that were interesting/insightful (like the test), but I found that the dominant/recessive personality types the test showed I was, didn't really fit who I see myself. The chapters about each of the personality types didn't seem to support my test results either. While I'm sure there is merit to the idea that certain personality types are drawn to each other, this book fell short of providing support to the theory.

Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Dramatic, Interesting
Loved it - and lots to discuss!

Beautifully written book with complex characters that are fully developed and easy to become emotionally attached to. What I liked best was the author's ability to seamlessly move from one character's point of view to another's.

The descriptions Ng used were impeccable, I knew exactly what the scenes looked like and how each character was feeling. This book vividly portrays the importance of communication, or lack there of. There's a lot I took from reading this book. It was eye-opening because it helped me dissect my own family. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Addictive, Interesting
Not as good as I thought it would be

I was hoping I would like this book a lot more than I did. The writing style was a bit difficult to follow since it jumped around from date to date and narrator to narrator. I'm very happy I decided to read the paper version of the book rather than on my kindle bc it was easy to go back and remember for which day each chapter was written. I'm normally a fan of short chapters with different narrator (a la "The Davinci Code"), but this one missed the mark.

All the characters were messed up in their own way so the different perspectives helped build the plot. The twist at the end was interesting but the "lightbulb" moment was a bit far-fetched to me. It reminded me of when reading a mystery novel and it is solved by bringing something up that was never mentioned earlier in the book. It almost seems like cheating.

All in all I guess I liked the book.

Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Fun
Mixed reviews from club members

I personally hated it. Awful book. No character development and difficult plot line to follow. I don't think the author clearly explained much of anything in this book, not even the characters built from the old photographs. The fact that he was able to build a story around these photos is fascinating, but there were too many holes and not enough depth. It was at least 3/4 into the book before there was a more clear plot but even then it was lacking. Definitely will not be reading any other books from this series.

Others in my book club liked it though, and it made for good discussion which is why I would recommend it to other book clubs.

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