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My Reviews

 
Book Club Recommended
Dark, Slow, Interesting

Donna Tartt is very good at setting scenes, and sentence construction. She does have a way of keeping the story moving. We all enjoyed the book,but we did feel it was too long. The time in the book set in Las Vegas could have definitely been shorter. Enjoyed discussing the comparisons of the life of Theo and the painting of the chained Goldfinch.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Dark

Incredible book! The author was able to weave a powerful story of lives intertwined. It pictured humanity in war torn times: Survival, heart ache, struggle, care and love thru impossible circumstances

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Interesting, Insightful

Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson
 
Slow, Insightful, Beautiful
Gilead

This awarding winning book and author have some good aspects, but it was written it a style that was difficult to get used to. It moved very slowly for most of us. Are we glad we read it...yes. Will we read the author's sequels to Gilead....probably not right away.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Interesting, Inspiring
Great as Audiobook

I enjoyed listening to the author read this book. Mindy Kaling is a very talented person and has made her way in a profession that is so hard for females and women of color to break into. She has some very insightful thoughts coupled with her unique since of humor.

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Beautiful, Optimistic

This telling of one's life made me laugh and cry. Martin Short's account of his career was in depth. I never realized that he has accomplished so much. His love for his wife and his account of her battle with cancer was a wonderful tribute to their relationship. Listening to this via Scribed Audiobook in the author's own voice made the impact of this book so much larger.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Informative
Masterfully Written

Alice Hoffman weaves a very interesting story from the perspective of the 2 main characters. The plot unfolds with tragedy, crime, mystery, social justice and romance at it's heart. Worth the read!

 
Slow
Wishing this memoir went deeper

My Journey through War and Peace is a memoir of Melissa Burch. She relates her adventures while a film maker/ journalist in Afghanistan and the Soviet Union when it was very rare for women to venture into those areas to report. She is very honest and vulnerable in sharing her life journey. This memoir could have easily been twice as long. I would love to hear more about her travels and insights personally as a filmmaker overseas. She is very descriptive, documenting the look of the scene in the various events of her life that she speaks to in this memoir; what I would expect from a film maker. I feel this memoir just barely touched the surface of a very complex women. Many passages left me wanting to know more about what was going on internally with her during the events in her life that were turning points

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura. Esquivel
 
Interesting, Beautiful

Food, love, tragedy combined with magical realism. Very enjoyable read

Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks
 
Dramatic, Dark, Brilliant

Loved this book! Franks was able to weave a powerful story out of Appalachian folk lore, religious fanaticism, social & agricultural changes all set in the Western North Carolina mountains in 1939. The strong characters of Irenie and Brodis lead the reader on a journey thru discontent, discord, & misunderstanding. I love books that I can visually "see" as I read. This story did not disappoint! I highly recommend this book!

The Mothers: A Novel by Brit Bennett
 
Brilliant, Graphic, Poorly Written

So smartly written. This is a powerful book about the choices we make- about the questions those choices leave us with. A truly amazing debut novel. "She had grown up and found God, people thought, but she hadn't found anything. She was searching for her mother."p.234

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
 
Fun, Fantastic, Beautiful

Such a wonderful story! I'm simply going to share some of my favorite quotes.
"You know; when you're feeling very sad, sunsets are wonderful..."p.19
"It's harder to judge yourself than to judge others."p.32
"One sees clearly with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes."p.63

 
Life Changing, Difficult, Inspiring

This has been a very tough, but very timely book to read. It has challenged me to look deep within myself and the assumptions regarding racism & white privileges I may hold. It has helped me to renew my commitment to welcoming & understanding the stranger and to opening my heart, mind and soul to all who are in my world, my community, and my place of worship.

The Midwife by Jolina Petersheim
 
Interesting, Insightful, Dramatic

3.75 stars. A very heart tugging read filled with unexpected twists and turns. This story comes full circle with grief, loss, healing and hope. The interconnectedness of the women in this story was a wonderful addition.

 
Slow, Beautiful

Mary Oliver has a wonderful way with words and blends the spirit and nature into so much of her writing. The part that was the slowest for me was the section where she wrote about various other poets. I liked this enough to be interested in reading more of her work.

River Road: A Novel by Carol Goodman
 
Dramatic, Beautiful

Carol Goodman is an amazing writer. She has a flair for the eerie, suspenseful story. The only negative I had was I really didn't like the main character, Nan, and how she handled her grief. But I guess that's the point; grief is messy and nobody handles and processes it the same. P. 273, "...You hear the story you want to hear. And maybe the one you need to hear,..."

 
Dark, Difficult, Informative

I've tried to make an effort to read more diverse books this year & when this one showed up in a donation to my Little Free Library I knew it was time to read it. Toni Morrison is an incredible writer who pulls no punches. She gets to the heart & soul of the subject matter. Thru the child characters, Pecola, Claudia & Frieda, my insight into the effects of race, culture, and racism was expanded. Seeing these constructs thru the eyes of children was poignant.

 
Fun, Optimistic, Beautiful

Such a sweet book!

 
Informative, Interesting, Adventurous

Themes of family disjunction, secrets & hoarding prevail in this book. The author told the story in a creative way by using the Mother's emails to a stranger interwoven in the narrative. It ends with redemption & healing.
P. 384 " I know as well as you do that only the individual had the key to change themselves."

 
Fun, Dramatic

Very light Christmas reading. This collection of 2 novellas combined feel good Christmas emotions with mystery, intrigue and romance

After the Quake: Stories by Haruki Murakami
 
Fun, Interesting, Adventurous

This is my first time reading Murakami. His books at first look, intimidate me, but this book of short stories listened to thru Scribd was a great way to get my feet wet. I found the stories very well written and enjoyable to read. Plan to pick up another Murakami book soon.

Another Brooklyn: A Novel by Jacqueline Woodson
 
Insightful, Beautiful, Dramatic

Love Woodson's writing. It's pure, vulnerable and speaks truth.
p. 23 "For God so loved the world their father would say, he gave his only begotten son. But what about his daughters, I wondered. What did God do with his daughters?"
p. 66 "How do we dream ourselves out of this?"

 
Dramatic, Interesting, Brilliant

Best short story collection I have read this year. Each story centered around a woman- a strong, independent and flawed woman. Absolutely loved this book!
Quotes from the story "Mothers, Tell Your Daughters."
P.89 "You can always find pain and suffering in this life, but why go looking for it."
P.103 "Everyone of you children was born at a crossroads because every woman giving birth becomes a crossroad."

 
Fun, Fantastic, Interesting

Loved this collection of holiday stories. Each story warmed the heart and allowed hope to shine thru. These stories can give your day a much needed break. This book is staying with my Holiday book collection.
P. 214 "Rules make people feel safe. But they can turn into judgements. Condemnation is easy, Vaughn. The harder choice is love." Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire

 
Interesting, Graphic, Dark

A dark, disturbing tale of the mind in 188 pages.
P.187" ...but surely the dream wasn't all there is? We have to wake up at some point don't we?"

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
 
Dark, Interesting, Dramatic

Margaret Atwood is an amazing author. This was published in 1986 but it alludes to the disturbing tragedy of losing individual rights. Scary and worrisome how women lost their rights and the society came under the authority of a patriarchal, strict fundamental religious based government. But YAY! for Quakers being around and still working for justice and running the Underground Femaleroad!

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
 
Difficult, Informative, Adventurous

Experienced this book as an audiobook. Interesting. She was so young, impressionable and lacked self esteem when she was thrown into stardom. The part of her diary read by her daughter Billie was my favorite part.

The Atomic Weight of Love: A Novel by Elizabeth J. Church
 
Romantic, Beautiful, Inspiring

This story is about love, about knowing ones' self; it's about discovery, deep emotion; it's about perseverance; it's about the untapped strength of women. Beautifully written.
P.233 "In practice, it's difficult to resist the impulse to fill the silence, to let the person you love off the hook, to let them be."

 
Informative, Insightful, Inspiring

Powerful, meaningful account of the injustice that is prevalent in our criminal justice system. Bryan Stevenson has shared his heart, his soul and his life's work. It has truly opened my eyes and caused me to grieve injustice. P.294 "The power of just mercy is that it belongs to the undeserving. It's when mercy is least expected that it's most potent- strong enough to break the cycle of victimization and victimhood, retribution and suffering." There's not enough space to share how this book has impacted me. #stonecatcher #justice #mercy #hope

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
 
Insightful, Inspiring, Beautiful

Amazing storytelling. Loved the structure of the writing. Contains powerful themes of race, justice, culture, family and resilience. P. 207 "I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it."

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
 
Adventurous, Dramatic, Brilliant

This is a story of 2 strong young women. It's a story of their friendship. It's about the atrocities of war. It's a story of truth and strength.
"Careless talk costs lives"
"Fly the plane, Maddie"
"Kiss me, Hardy! Kiss me, Quick!"
"Second star to the right and straight on 'til morning "
P.201 "Patriotism is not enough- I must have no hatred or bitterness for anyone."

 
Fun, Addictive, Graphic

Amy Schumer jumps in with both feet in this vulnerable look at her life. Strong themes prevail: family, feminism, loving the body you have, things not to do in your young adult years, & advocating for decrease gun violence. Trigger warning: If you would rather not hear/read coarse language or hear/read about the intimate details of a persons sex life, this book may not be for you. Amy holds nothing back.

 
Fun

Easy, enjoyable read. Loved that it had a Little Free Library as part of this mystery. 3.25??

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
 
Beautiful, Interesting, Adventurous

This poetry collection from Rupi Kaur is incredibly powerful and moving. Milk and Honey is a collection of poetry about love, loss, trauma, abuse, healing and femininity. I wish I could quote every single line here. I read this as an ebook on Scribd but will be getting a hard copy to keep on my shelf. So emotionally moving.


 
Dramatic, Insightful, Interesting

2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino
 
Confusing, Gloomy, Adventurous

Enjoyable- however I had difficulty at times following all the characters in addition to the main characters of Madeleine, Sarina and Lorca. This may be due to experiencing it as an audiobook. The book was paced well and it was an intriguing way to tell a story over a 24 hour period.

 
Dramatic, Informative, Interesting

 
Interesting, Insightful, Informative

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
 
Informative, Interesting, Insightful

 
Adventurous, Fun, Beautiful

Exit West: A Novel by Mohsin Hamid
 
Interesting, Beautiful, Adventurous

Alias Grace: A Novel by Margaret Atwood
 
Brilliant, Dramatic, Interesting

3.75?? More wonderful writing by Margaret Atwood. This book is different in that this book was based on a true story. The story did progress slowly, but I found it a compelling read none the less.

Miss You: A Novel by Kate Eberlen
 
Romantic, Beautiful, Fun

How do two people keep missing each other over a lifetime? Timing? Fate?- They meet when they are supposed to meet. Beautiful story of lives intersecting.

 
Dramatic, Brilliant, Beautiful

Great collection of Poems! Ron Rash's writing never disappoints. His words always paint the most vivid pictures.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
 
Interesting, Insightful, Dark

Station Eleven will take you on a journey you hope never truly happens. A Flu, so bad, wipes out 99% of the world's population & you're left with a circular story of past lives & an unknown future for those left. Disturbing- yet a very compelling read.

Swing Time by Zadie Smith
 
Interesting, Unconvincing, Pointless

3.5??. Experienced this read as an Audiobook. The Narrater, Pippa Bennett-Warner, did an excellent job. This story is basically a story of a life, the people and relationships that weave through the life of this unnamed narrator. The story looks at the life and experiences of the narrator over several years, from childhood to young adult. Some key words that keep coming to mind are- a lonely life & a self absorbed life. It is my 1st time reading Zadie Smith. I would be interested in reading one of her other books.

 
Fantastic, Dramatic, Adventurous

This book is a fascinating read and a little mind bending. The main character, Greta, travels through different time periods as herself following each shock treatment for depression. This is an enjoyable read looking at how we see ourselves and others when we have the opportunity to change/ redirect our lives.
P. 197"Don't we all have someone we'd like to save from the wreckage?"
P. 231"We can hardly guess the burdens people carry."

 
Adventurous, Brilliant, Dramatic

This is a wonderfully imaginative story about a young girl named, Luna, who finds out literally what she is made of and who she is meant to be. This is the story of sorrow, of hope, of joy, of redemption. The story poses the question...Will you feed your soul with sorrow or will you feed your soul with hope. Very moving story. Very worthy of it's Newberry Medal

Iron House by John Hart
 
Dramatic, Graphic, Beautiful

This book is not my typical genre- However, this book was a compelling, fast moving read. Pretty gory in places, but the twists and turns will keep you reading to the end.

 
Insightful, Interesting, Slow

I'm just not too sure what this book is about. It felt like the story stayed just at the surface of so many intense issues and events that if they had been explored more in depth would have added a richness to the novel that I thought it lacked. I did enjoy it more than The Burgess Boys.

 
Fantastic, Brilliant, Adventurous

Haruf's writing is so real that it always puts me within the scene. This story was set in rural Colorado and centered around the town's life and what can happen when one person's actions affects the whole. It comes with some unexpected turns.

Pax by Sara Pennypacker
 
Adventurous, Dramatic, Confusing

A truly moving and emotional story about much more than a boy and his fox. Themes of love, loyalty & letting go are dominant themes. The images of war, struggle, strength, hope and resilience are also a large part of this story. A middle grade read, but adults will be touched by this powerful story as well.

 
Informative, Insightful, Interesting

Very convinced that books can be a gateway to understanding. When I understand how another person lives & what impacts that life, I learn so much & am more open to a life & culture different from mind. This book has done just that for me. Experienced this as an audiobook. I feel the author reading his own words increased the impact of these words.

 
Life Changing, Inspiring, Adventurous

P.18 "The stream is your soul. And you are the keeper." P. 24 "You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life." P.56 "Your soul can be alright when everything in your world is all wrong." P.184 "The soul is seen when it reaches out in love."

Maine (Vintage Contemporaries) by J. Courtney Sullivan
 
Slow, Beautiful, Unconvincing

4 women, 3 generations and lots of dysfunction all set on the coast of Maine- This book had so much potential but it just seemed to take an above ground look at the lives of the women in the family and never went deep to try and resolve some of the deep dysfunction that continued to linger. Lives didn't change much. They seemed to go back to their own lives maybe more content with their current situations? The larger relationships remained unmended for the most part. I guess I was looking for healing and redemption of family and didn't find it.

 
Life Changing, Beautiful, Adventurous

The tale of a journey- a journey of finding oneself - taking a path that is yours alone. I found the words beautiful and poetic. I found the message/ meaning relevant and significant for even today -Searching and longing for peace within.

The Magnolia Story by Chip Gaines, Joanna Gaines, Mark Dagostino
 
Inspiring, Fun, Optimistic

Experienced this book as an audiobook. The book is read by the authors and I felt it made their story so much more personalized and special. They talked about their journey, what brought them together and what keeps them together. They have a high commitment to each other and their children. They (Chip) don't hesitate to lend a hand to someone in need. They state that it hasn't been easy, that they have gone thru some pretty tough and uncertain times, but they have come thru it with perseverance and commitment. One comment Joanna made really stuck with me. She said to find happiness in the ugliness and the mess, and she remarked that she has allowed Chip to stretch her and make her a better person today. Very uplifting read.

 
Insightful, Dramatic, Informative

This story takes you on a journey with Cora, an escaped slave from Georgia. Whitehead, the author, effectively brings into the light the atrocities slaves experienced, endured and for many succumbed to. Powerful in word and meaning. The writing style was difficult for me in places ,but the storyline and message prevailed.
P. 255 " But we have all been branded even if you can't see it."

Jesus' Son: Stories by Denis Johnson
 
Brilliant, Dark, Gloomy

Sad to say I only just heard about this author while listening to a podcast discuss his recent passing. It was suggested to start with this collection of short stories. I came to the end and thought " That's it? There's no more stories?" Denis Johnson's writing is real; real human, real emotion, real life- his writing is honest and open. Enjoyed these stories. Quote from "Happy Hour"- p.82 "You've got to have a destination."

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
 
Life Changing, Brilliant, Beautiful

How have I not read this book before? Beautifully written, heartbreaking and hopeful- Jesse and Leslie will stay with me forever. I was 13 when this book was published- I don't think my 13 year old self would have been ready to read this, but at 53, maybe still not prepared but I was able to let the words in and those words built a bridge...
P.158- "Sometimes... you need to give people something that's for them- not just something that makes you feel good giving it." "It was up to him to pay back to the world in beauty and caring what Leslie had loaned to him in vision and strength."

 
Fun

This book is an easy read that had me laughing at times. It was enjoyable and would be something to read between heavier, more intense books.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
 
Insightful, Informative, Slow

This was a very interesting and insightful read regarding how we make decisions, choices, and what influences the way we think. I will admit that I skimmed a lot of this book- it became very technical. I was still able to glean insights into my own thought processes and decision making skills. Very geeky read.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
 
Interesting, Confusing, Insightful

2.75??'s. This is the story of family, of loss, and of regrets. I had difficulty with how the story was told. In my opinion it was told through disjointed vignettes & there were characters introduced & expanded upon that where very minor in their roles. I wondered why time was given to them when a few sentences would have sufficed. I am a huge fan of Ann Patchette so this was a tough critique to share. I plan to continue to read her previous books & those that come in the future.

Mulberry by Paulette Boudreaux
 
Brilliant, Insightful, Dramatic

This story begins & ends with the 11 year old heroine, Maddie, in a Mulberry tree. The story in between takes the reader on a heart wrenching journey as Maddie strives to keep her family together through a tragic year. The author tells a compelling story- expected to be moved.

 
Informative, Insightful, Interesting

3.75 ??. Very compelling & interesting read- looking at case studies from years ago involving the brain & neurological illness. Our brains are vast & complex, and the illnesses involving this organ can produce confusing and life altering scenarios. Dr.Sacks also ponders the role and existence of the soul in the person who struggles with these illnesses. Trigger Warning: the last section, "The World of the Simple", focuses on the developmentally disabled individual. However, the terms used to discuss & describe these individuals are ones we no longer consider acceptable. I had to remember that this was first published in 1970.

 
Fantastic, Adventurous, Addictive

This is the second book in this series (1st Book: A Darker Shade of Magic). these books really need to be read in order. This book continues the story of Kell and Lila and it draws the reader into the characters. Full of suspense- it ends expertly to set up book 3- A Conjuring of Light, which I plan to start now. This is a pretty lengthy book, but a fast and compelling read.

 
Fantastic, Dark, Adventurous

Absolutely loved the series! Book 3 did not disappoint. V.E. Schwab combined family, loyalty and responsibility with danger, intrigue and even a little romance. Adults who loved reading the Harry Potter series will fall in love with this series as well.

 
Interesting, Beautiful, Brilliant

Haruf's writing is so clean, concise and simple. Narrated by Sandy, this story dives into life of his long time neighbor, Edith and the ways in which she and others were bound to their situation, their family. Beautifully written.

 
Adventurous, Inspiring, Interesting

Rereading a book I read as a child has been powerful. To be reminded by the heroine, Meg, that even though we have faults, we can change, grow and become enlightened to new ways. The ultimate reminder of this book- that Love overcomes darkness.

Mosquitoland by David Arnold
 
Beautiful, Dramatic, Brilliant

A powerfully moving story of Mim, a girl who's family has been splintered apart by mental illness. Told in Mim's voice, the story takes the reader on Mim's journey to find her mom. She finds so many other things along this journey: loyalty, friendship, love and ultimately herself. Be prepared for an emotional and moving ride. This book is one that stays in my library.

 
Interesting, Informative, Gloomy

Interesting story. The author tells the story of Christopher Knight, a man who lived undetected in the woods of Maine for over 25 years. Insights and research into hermits and solitude were also introduced. Audio version - monotone for the majority of the narration.

 
Interesting, Insightful, Confusing

The Two-Family House: A Novel by Lynda Cohen Loigman
 
Interesting, Insightful, Dramatic

Bel Canto (P.S.) by Ann Patchett
 
Interesting, Romantic, Slow

 
Interesting, Insightful, Informative

Such a wonderful look at the life of trees - A look at how they communicate with other trees and depend on each other and other fungi, insects and animals for health and wholeness. It added to my understanding of caring for nature and life on this planet as a whole. p. 246 "Only people who understand trees are capable of protecting them."

 
Insightful, Interesting, Beautiful

Memoirs can be very difficult to rate, but I absolutely fell in love with this one. These life stories by Lee Smith are honest, funny and hard hitting. She does not shrink away or sugar coat her deep family history of mental illness. This is a well written and refreshing read.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio
 
Inspiring, Insightful, Beautiful

Kindness- that is all. This book was incredibly moving.
P.48 " When given the choice between being right or being kind. Choose kind."

News of the World by Paulette Jiles
 
Adventurous, Interesting, Beautiful

Beautifully written story that tells the tale of a child once kidnapped by Indians and the man who became her family. The prose was expertly crafted and made this story visible.

Byrd by Kim Church
 
Dramatic, Interesting, Adventurous

3.75??. This story takes the reader on a journey thru Addie's life from child, to adult, to the pivotal moment when a failed abortion changes the course of her life. It is written in an unusual style of a combination of short vignettes and letters written to the son she gave up for adoption. The majority of the story takes place in Greensboro and Raleigh NC.

 
Addictive, Dramatic, Adventurous

I haven't read many mysteries lately. This story reminded me why I like them so much. It was really fun to read this book and be flipping thru the pages as fast as I could to see how this would resolve. This plot kept me guessing.

 
Interesting, Insightful, Fun

This story reaches into a Southern era when life was less complex, family & church were the main center & segregation, racism & mental health concerns were rarely discussed within families or in public. The reader follows Raney thru the ups & downs of family & married life & you see her grapple with seeing life differently. The marriage counseling & the feed room scenes are worth reading the whole book.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
 
Insightful, Beautiful, Dramatic

This is a powerfully moving story about sisters, about love, about acceptance, and about grief. The story is told by 14 year old June. It is one of the best books I've read this year.

 
Beautiful, Interesting, Adventurous

Robert Morgan's debut- his clear concise writing makes the lives of his characters in southern Appalachia spring to life. His writing provides an honest look into the hardships and struggles common to the area and the time period.

 
Fun, Fantastic, Brilliant

Discovered this book & author by accident on Facebook when a few posted about going to a reading of this book by the author at our local Indie book store Scuppernong. The author is a creative writing professor at Guilford College. I absolutely fell in love with this ghost story! Told from the viewpoint of the ghost, the reader is taken thru twists & turns that have you saying "Wow! Really? Let me read that again". This ghost has wit, spunk and perseverance. Great read!

 
Fun, Interesting, Adventurous

Truly enjoyed this book about a different kind of bookstore. Ari Fliakos provided an awesome performance on the audiobook. This book is funny & smart. It's bookstore meets mystery codes, meets secret group, meets technology.

Sula by Toni Morrison
 
Graphic, Gloomy, Dramatic

Toni Morrison dives straight to the center of women and friendships. The writing seems to include many undeveloped characters and story lines, but at its heart takes a look at the life long friendship journey of New and Sula. So much of this story is heartbreaking and tragic.

 
Interesting, Informative, Insightful

3.75??’s. This is an epic Korean family saga that takes the reader on a journey thru 4 generations. It spans the life events of love, family, duty, sorrow & times of happiness while trying to maintain cultural & personal identity in a foreign land. “You must be a diligent person with a humble heart. Have compassion for everyone. Even your enemies.” “Living every day in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage”

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
 
Insightful, Informative, Interesting

This amazing story was expertly crafted. Told from the perspective of Alice, a professor with early onset Alzheimer’s, the reader is given an intimate window into this heartbreaking disease & it’s impact on the person, the family, the caregiver & friends. A must read if you’re looking to gain additional knowledge & perspective on this disease.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
 
Addictive, Brilliant, Dark

A brilliant author, Tartt has a gift for making her characters come alive. You may not like or care for some of them, but there is a richness in their development. This story about 6 college students, told in the voice of Richard, has themes of companionship & camaraderie that morph into darkness of soul, collapse of friendships & deceit. Be mindful of trigger warnings for violence & suicide.

 
Informative, Dramatic, Insightful

4.75 ?? Cash takes a little known incident in NC history & thru the lens of several characters, weaves the story of Ella May Wiggins. Ella may not have realized as a young, poor girl & mother that she would be a central figure standing for justice, fair treatment, & the same rights for all. This read will cause one to pause & ponder our past, present & future.

Today Will be Different by Maria Semple
 
Fun, Pointless, Unconvincing

Maria Semple has a way of writing that compels the reader to keep going- at least for this reader. Eleanor’s day could not have any more self reflection packed into it. Funny, witty and most times just bizarre, Eleanor strives to make today different.

 
Fantastic, Interesting, Beautiful

Another poignant collection of poems from Rupi Kaur- These new poems reach to the center of women’s lives where she shares an intimate view of love, relationships, struggle and personal growth. This is a great add to my growing poetry collection.

 
Insightful, Beautiful, Difficult

4.75??. I have had this book on my self for several years & finally picked it up to read a week ago. This book reached down to the core of my being & left me off kilter. This story centers on a middle age woman of middle class, & a 12 year old girl from a wealthy, important family that are both hiding their true selves, their brilliance. The story finds both searching for meaning & hope. A wealthy widower moves into their apartment & the barriers begin to melt away. The writing is smart, witty and poignant. So glad I’ve finally read this work of art.

 
Insightful, Difficult, Life Changing

Roxane Gay takes the reader to a place of deep vulnerability & lays her life, her struggles, her challenges, & her triumphs for all to experience with her. Her vulnerability & strength has challenged me by making me come face to face with biases that I have & opened my eyes to how I see my own body. This memoir will continue to challenge me & give me much to process for some time to come. Thank you Roxane for the courage to be vulnerable.

Magpie Murders: A Novel by Anthony Horowitz
 
Brilliant, Interesting, Slow

A mystery within a mystery! A very enjoyable whodunnit! This mystery was crafted and laid out in a very intriguing way- fun read!

 
Interesting, Adventurous, Beautiful

This is a fascinating story of love, loss, friendships & resilience during WWII. Jenoff develops this heart wrenching story by centering it around a German circus that hides Jewish performers and workers during the war. This story gives another view into little known stories during wartime.

History of Wolves: A Novel by Emily Fridlund
 
Beautiful, Interesting, Difficult

There is a tension in this story that is felt within the first few pages. Religion, belief, and the actions that occur build into a dark, anxious drama. The writing is smart and the visual images are clear. “Winter collapsed on us that year.” (p.15)

A Kind of Freedom: A Novel by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
 
Insightful, Dramatic, Beautiful

4.5 stars. This debut novel takes an intimate look into the lives of the Black community & a family’s struggles & triumphs thru three generations. Uniquely told thru the lens of 3 voices / 3 generations I found myself compelled to keep reading. There was a tension felt as I read in that I knew how the story would end,but at the same time hoping for a triumphant outcome. I was left with the intense feeling of all that still needs to happen to make it possible for all to be equal & have the life each person dreams about.

 
Insightful, Dramatic, Beautiful

3.75??. This story was packed with emotions. It dealt with themes of addiction, parent/child relationships & what it means to live a healthy life for yourself. King’s writing is beautiful & it really caused feelings, thoughts & assumptions to collide.

 
Dramatic, Dark, Insightful

I love it when a book, when words & sentences are so well crafted that I am swept away in the story. This is a powerfully told story of hardship, grief, survival & strength.

 
Unconvincing, Pointless, Brilliant

Just felt it was too disrespectful of women.

 
Informative, Insightful, Adventurous

This was my 1st time reading John Green. This is a powerfully honest & striking story of, Aza, a girl who struggles with severe anxiety & compulsiveness. The reader rides the spiral with her & in the process learns more about living with mental illness.

 
Fun, Optimistic, Inspiring

I found these stories truly enjoyable. It was really fun to see how Tom Hanks would incorporate typewriters into the narrative. It was also enjoyable to hear Tom Hanks perform the audiobook. The last chapter took on the resemblance of a radio show which was a fun twist.

Origin: A Novel by Dan Brown
 
Adventurous, Interesting, Insightful

Dan Brown’s books always spark questions and provide a lot of intrigue. I’ll be thinking about this book for a while.

 
Adventurous, Interesting, Informative

I always enjoy reading stories set in Africa. The book is based on the life of Beryl Markham. I am eager to read her autobiography “West with the Night”

 
Fun

Such a fun Christmas read! I found myself chuckling several times.

 
Life Changing, Beautiful, Inspiring

One of the best if not the best poetry collections. Love Mary Oliver.

 
Interesting, Insightful, Inspiring

Fun book and story. Very well written. Reminds me of “A Man Called Ove””

Poachers: Stories by Tom Franklin
 
Interesting, Beautiful

Franklin has a way with words and can really spin a gritty southern story.

 
Interesting, Beautiful, Insightful

What a wonderful debut short story collection. Each story was beautifully crafted with story lines that kept my attention. So looking forward to more from Lesley Nneka Arimah.

Home Fire: A Novel by Kamila Shamsie
 
Interesting, Insightful, Dramatic

This story dealt with and brought to light the powerful struggles our world faces each day. It has taught us more about the long reaching arm of terrorism and how it impacts us all. This is a straight forward, hard hitting narrative taken from current situations that will leave you shaken.

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
 
Interesting, Gloomy, Dramatic

An epic tale- This story weaves thru the lives of those living in a small fishing/ farming village impacted by a mysterious death. The story, in its telling, brings to light themes of race, prejudice, love, hate and what it means to do the right thing.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
 
Informative, Insightful, Brilliant

This book was awesome. It really touched my geeky side. It reminded me of the beauty of this earth, this solar system. This universe. It also reminded me that I am just a speck on the head of pin when it comes to the magnitude of the universe I live in. Loved this!

Lilac Girls: A Novel by Martha Hall Kelly
 
Informative, Dramatic, Inspiring

Beautifully written, this story focuses on WWII and the tragedies that were the concentration camps. The story is based on true happenings and is told from the perspective of three characters. Your heart will be moved.

 
Fantastic, Interesting, Brilliant

My first experience with the writing of Quinn Dalton was when I read her recent novel, “Midnight Bowling”. I decided to go back and read some of her earlier works. This story collection did not disappoint. Dalton is able to bring about strong women protagonists and she doesn’t shy away from getting down to the simplicity and complications in everyday life. Quinn Dalton is definitely on my favorite author list!

 
Inspiring, Insightful, Interesting

A timeless treasure- First published 68 years ago, the tenets of this book still hold true regarding relationships, simplicity, aloneness and ultimately what it means to flourish in this life we have. This is one to read over and over again.

Idaho: A Novel by Emily Ruskovich
 
Pointless, Beautiful, Dark

3.5 ??. This story was written from several viewpoints that went back and forth through great spaces of time. The writing as a whole was very good, but I feel that some character’s voices didn’t assist me in understanding the story or gave much additional clarity to the plot (Eliot ‘s story). Much remains a mystery in my mind...wondering on the fate of June.

 
Fun, Insightful, Inspiring

This memoir is a stark and honest account of the authors struggle with mental illness. Her stories help to normalize anxiety and depression and make way for open and vulnerable talk on the subject. One of the most profound and simple facts is that one is not alone in this illness and it provides insight for loved ones friends and family members.

 
Dramatic, Interesting, Beautiful

The Bell Jar is an intense read as you observe Esther’s spiral into mental illness. What I find remarkable is that this book was published over 50 years ago during a time when speaking about mental illness was unheard of. I also wonder if we have still have a ways to go in how we speak about and treat mental illness. There is always room for growth in how we treat, care for and come along side those who suffer with this disease.

 
Dark, Difficult, Dramatic

Powerful narrative, strong storyline, characters that pop off the page; Jesmyn Ward’s style of writing impacts the depth of emotion the reader feels while traveling thru this story of family, of violence, of loss, of strength and perseverance.

 
Inspiring, Insightful, Adventurous

Every time I step into Brene’ Brown’s books, I am challenged to continue my vulnerability journey. The subject matter in this book is so timely for it challenges me to stay present, be vulnerable and see others as my Quaker tradition would put it “There is that of God in everyone.” Her research insights look to provide a path forward for healing individually and collectively- a way to bridge the current gaps that divide. Almost every word is underlined- I will continue to go back to the insights present within the cover of this book.

 
Insightful, Beautiful, Brilliant

Beautifully written novella that opens a window into the life of a loved one facing Alzheimer’s. Honest, touching, moving.
Noah: “How did you fall in love with grandma?”
Grandpa: “She got lost in my heart”

 
Brilliant, Beautiful, Insightful

Such a good story! It follows the life of one man thru difficult circumstances of his birth, his coming of age struggles & his journey thru tragedy & pain. Beautifully written with wit & insight. I laughed & I cried. One of my favorite books so far this year.

 
Interesting, Insightful, Informative

“Microbes matter”- Fascinating Reading/ listening. This book checks all the geeky science boxes!

A Gentleman in Moscow by AMOR TOWLES
 
Beautiful, Brilliant, Insightful

This book was wonderfully crafted. Towles was able to craft a tale out of an over 30 year exile within a Moscow hotel. So visual for the reader, this story was full of Russian history, friendship, wit, and in the end- hope! Loved this read!

 
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful

What an incredible story! So expertly and beautiful written, I found myself deeply immersed in the lives of Celestial, Roy & Andre. Brutal and honest...the story of a marriage is told thru the perspective of these three characters. Even though there were points that were hard and difficult to read, the way the author developed the characters with all their shortcomings kept me glue to the story. Highly, highly recommend!

What We Lose: A Novel by Zinzi Clemmons
 
Adventurous, Brilliant, Difficult

A story of grief and the struggle to search for wholeness after a loss. Clemons writes this story in short vignettes that sometimes seem to go together and at times makes no sense to their placement in the story- very similar to the way grief makes us feel. This story feels like Clemons worked through her own grief story as she wrote these words. 3.5 ??. Will likely read again.

 
Brilliant, Interesting, Fun

This collection of stories are among the first Ron Rash ever published. Although his writing style has matured over the years these stories contain dry humor not found a lot in his more recent works- the basic bones of an amazing writer clearly come through.

Vicious (Villains) by V. E. Schwab
 
Fantastic, Dramatic, Beautiful

V.E. Schwab is an amazing writer. Her characters and storyline in Vicious just jump off the page- Dark, Mysterious- this was a great read

 
Dramatic, Dark, Interesting

3.5??. I always love tales about Appalachia & this debut novel by Leah Weiss continued that love. Vivid characters & a harsh & wild storyline combine to tell the story of a young girl trapped in her circumstances but seeking something more. There are a lot of minor storylines running through this novel that could be expanded into additional books. Interested to read more from this author.

 
Fun, Insightful, Adventurous

This graphic novel was a great way to reread one of my favorite books.

Elmet by Fiona Mozley
 
Dark, Beautiful, Addictive

Disturbing & haunting yet beautifully crafted- The quality of the writing & the flow of the sentences was amazing. These qualities kept me reading as the pace is slow. But don’t be fooled...the story hits hyper speed at the end. I’m still trying to catch my breath. It’s well worth sticking with this one til the end.

The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes
 
Life Changing, Interesting, Informative

This book was just what the title indicated- a case against sugar. The case is made citing lots of research and by providing the reader with a thorough history. Through these arguments the case is made that sugar is likely the cause, root, catalyst or at least a part of a majority of the health problems we have in the modern world today. Definitely continuing to personally work on cutting down my sugar consumption. Yikes!!

The Hazel Wood: A Novel by Melissa Albert
 
Brilliant, Fantastic, Addictive

Modern day Fairytale not for the light hearted; dark & twisty. There is always a “story”- finish the story, end the story or create a new story. It is up to the individual. 3.75??s.

 
Boring, Slow, Poorly Written

 
Fantastic, Dramatic, Brilliant

One of the best story collections I have ever read. I was captivated and drawn into to each of the story lines. The audio performance was incredible. Different readers were used throughout and it fit the stories well. I will definitely be getting a hard copy for my library.

 
Fun, Interesting, Adventurous

This memoir takes the reader on the author’s journey of reinventing her life following financial collapse and other hard life events. She talks openly and honestly about her experiences with domestic violence and her financial struggles. Although I personally would not have chosen some of the choices they made, she speaks honestly about what she went thru to find herself again. Loved reading about their foray into raising goats. Recipes are included within the reading. Enjoyed this Big Library Read for April 2018.

 
Fantastic, Interesting, Fun

A very fun, interesting and fanciful collection of stories. My favorite: The Unlicensed Magician.

Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot
 
Interesting, Dramatic, Beautiful

This is a brutally honest and vulnerable memoir. The author dives right into her native Indian culture and upbringing, shares openly about all the pitfalls she encountered and then closes with addressing her mom who had past away to show how her life has grown strong and has overcome. P.111 “My mother’s looming spirit guides me some days, telling me that nothing is too ugly for this world. I am not too ugly for this world.”

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
 
Slow, Fun, Interesting

A good read for a change of pace. P. 29 “Choices were easy to make until you realized how long life could be.”

The Pleasing Hour by Lily King
 
Dramatic, Adventurous

This is Lily King’s debut novel. Her writing is so clear and concise. I love the way that she developed the main character Rosie- a very strong female character with much to reconcile over the course of the story. Loved this book as much as her most recent, Euphoria. P. 145 “ But deceit is too exhausting; it makes endless demands.”

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
 
Slow, Dramatic, Insightful

The book is written in a interesting way. The author uses different character points of view to move the story forward.

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
 
Interesting, Inspiring, Dramatic

An open and honest memoir, the author demonstrates vulnerability in sharing her story, her families story that began with her extreme survivalist upbringing. Her courageous steps to heal and recover are inspiring. What is truth? What is ones own personal truth? #selfdoubt #bipolardisorder #survialist #familyviolence #abuse #emotionalabuse #abusivereligion #distortedperceptions

 
Interesting, Insightful, Informative

Interesting look at our fears and how we can still live our best life with hope.

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova
 
Insightful, Informative, Interesting

An incredible story about ALS- a persons struggle with disease, the family and caregivers struggles and the heart wrenching descions that have to be made. Well written and informative.

 
Slow, Pointless, Interesting

I wasn’t sure I liked this book when I began reading. It just didn’t seem to be going anywhere & I was questioning again my decision to read a Pulitzer Prize winner. But midway thru I got it & fell in love with love, grief, discovering who you are & who you are meant to be with. P. 124 “Life so often arrives all of the sudden. And who knows which side you will find yourself on.”

 
Inspiring, Insightful, Informative

P.194. But if Muir and Emerson and, before them, eighteenth-century Irish philosopher Edmund Burke had it right, feelings of spirituality don’t just spring from religion: they also spring from transcendent experiences in nature.
P.203 Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life. —JOHN MUIR

P.254 Go outside, often, sometimes in wild places. Bring friends or not. Breathe.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
 
Adventurous, Dramatic, Boring

Long, long book- definitely packed with some very interesting & colorful characters. Themes of mental illness, spiritual searching & political unrest are themes throughout the story. Even though the story is titled “Anna Karenina” leading one to focus on the character of Anna, I was much more drawn & endeared to Levin & his personal & spiritual struggles throughout the book.

The View From Here by Lynne Hinton
 
Inspiring, Beautiful, Insightful

What a very touching and powerful book! The story takes place outside, in the the forest, in a Loblolly Pine where themes of redemption, forgiveness,letting go & healing unfurl. This story will touch your soul & allow you to breathe deep & free.

Small Treasons by Mark Powell
 
Graphic, Difficult, Beautiful

This story dealt with the after effects of participation in wars and terror- how those effects can branch to everything we touch and we never truly leave those effects behind. Difficult to read and to follow the plot at times

Florida by Lauren Groff
 
Dark, Insightful, Pointless

Love these stories! Beautifully & smartly written, these stories deal with true thoughts & emotion that reach us where it’s dark & unknown- thoughts & emotions that we ourselves may have but just don’t want to think about or admit. Favorite stories: Dogs Go Wolf and Flower Hunters. The audio version was excellent.

 
Insightful, Interesting

Very unique story of a young woman discovering who she is apart from her parents & significant other. Change & suddenly not knowing for sure your true self is a very vulnerable place to be in. The main character journeys through her longest journey- the journey of knowing her true self.

 
Insightful, Dramatic, Interesting

Never before have I read a work of fiction that challenged and brought to light my own biases. This is a must read- it will be difficult and make you feel uncomfortable- and that’s the point

 
Fun, Adventurous

3.5 stars. Quick, easy and enjoyable read- great for getting out of a reading slump or providing a break between heavier material. Would love to work my way thru the alphabet with this authors books.

 
Inspiring, Insightful, Informative

This tiny book gets to the heart of the matter fast- what a deeper spirituality looks like in my every day life. It’s a powerful book that will give you insights, hope & tools for a deeper, authentic and faithful spiritual walk.

Stay with Me: A novel by Ayobami Adebayo
 
Dramatic, Interesting, Beautiful

Such a powerful and expertly woven story about love, loss, deception and grief; Strong character development with a storyline that comes full circle with ease and grace. This one stays on the shelf.

 
Brilliant, Dramatic, Interesting

 
Inspiring, Beautiful, Insightful

Each poem goes to the simple essence of a thing- whether a tree, a bird, a flower, a forest animal, a dog, death. Reading Mary Oliver is already a great thing... Hearing Mary Oliver read Mary Oliver is even better.

 
Inspiring, Beautiful, Insightful

Such an incredibly beautiful memoir that speaks to the soul. Soul and heart searching in its scope, insightful and meaningful as a whole. P. 109 “If women are suffering, children are suffering. Empower women and you empower the community.”

 
Fantastic, Brilliant, Beautiful

This story is a powerful look into the lives of women, mothers, daughters and friends. It’s an intense, rich family saga in a mere 199 pages. It contains themes of love, loss, strength of family, tragedy of family and strength of community. One of the best books I’ve read. Thank you Open Canon Book Club & Wiley Cash! Wonderful first book pick!

A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle
 
Inspiring, Insightful, Adventurous

L’Engle’s gift of writing brings so many truths to the fore front. Loved this story about love, strength and how we need each other.
P.20 “Why do people always mistrust people who are different?”
P.147 “We have to live together in harmony, or we won’t live at all.”
P.190 “It is only when we are fully rooted that we are really able to move.”

 
Brilliant, Fantastic, Interesting

 
Interesting, Insightful, Informative

This book is so much more than just a biography of Fred Rogers. It’s also the story of children’s television & PBS. It’s the story of being mindful of words, speech, talk & subject matter. The life of Fred Rogers continues to influence people today...be kind, be inclusive, be just who you are. @abramsbooks #arc

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
 
Fantastic, Adventurous, Fun

What a delightful book to read! Schwab has a gift of writing that transcends all age groups. Loved her Shades of Magic series and City of Ghosts did not disappoint. Written as a middle grade book, I still found myself propelled the story of Cassie, Jacob, ghosts and friendship. Great read!

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
 
Insightful, Interesting, Fun

Disturbing quote from p.70, “The normal world has no room for exceptions and always quietly eliminates foreign objects. Anyone who is lacking is disposed of.” The main character is 36 and has been working as a convenience store worker for 18 years. It’s what works for her, but those around her see things differently. The story takes a poignant look at the idea of normal. What is normal, what is abnormal & makes a point that each person is unique. Live into who you are. Disturbing and humorous, this short book is a good read!

 
Informative, Interesting, Insightful

A touching story of family lost and recovered. The reader is taken on a journey with 5 children who where taken illegally from their parents and struggle to stay in touch and find one another against a lot of odds.

 
Fun, Interesting

I absolutely enjoyed this 158 page novella. This very fun, engaging quick read had me wondering till the end “who did it”.

 
Inspiring, Informative, Insightful

Loved learning more about this amazing woman!

Small Wonder: Essays by Barbara Kingsolver
 
Insightful, Interesting, Beautiful

Wonderful collection of essays that make you think, make you feel, and remind you about what is truly important in life. Published 16 years ago, these essays are still relevant to our times and world today. Kingsolver is one of my favorite wordsmiths!

Plainsong by Kent Haruf
 
Interesting, Insightful, Beautiful

Such a delightful, beautifully written book. Haruf is one of my favorite authors. His stories always bring to life the everyday events of small town life and make the characters come alive in a very real way.

 
Beautiful, Interesting, Addictive

This just might be the best book I’ve read in 2018! This is the author’s 1st novel, but she has coauthored books focused on nature/ environment. This history shows thru in this novel with her intricate descriptions of the North Carolina coastal marshlands. This well developed plot had me on edge to the end. I haven’t stayed up late recently finishing a book, but this one I just couldn’t put down. I was intrigued with the story of Kya from the very first sentence.

A Lite Too Bright by Samuel Miller
 
Adventurous, Brilliant, Addictive

Quite an amazing debut novel by Samuel Miller. I had not heard of this book but was drawn to the cover first, and then by the reviews second. This novel is packed with emotion and heart. It’s an epic journey of discovering truth- truth for oneself and truth discovered about those you love. This is a must read- take this train journey with Arthur. Anymore words would spoil this wonderful read.

The Animators: A Novel by Kayla Rae Whitaker
 
Addictive, Boring, Fantastic

This book is a brilliant debut novel. It’s a story of friendship, partnership, grief, loss, and of finding oneself. The story and writing flow effortlessly. This story grabbed me and would not let go.

 
Fun, Interesting, Addictive

3.5 ??. Very entertaining. A good palate cleanser after some heavier book subjects. Sometimes you just need to read something light.

 
Life Changing, Inspiring, Insightful

Brene’ Brown’s research continues by taking wholeheartedness, courage and vulnerability into the workplace and dives in deep to example these principles within leadership. Excellent read! P. 32”It turns out that trust is in fact earned in the smallest of moments. It is earned not though heroic deeds or even highly visible actions, but through paying attention, listening, and gestures of genuine care and connection.”

 
Interesting, Insightful, Fun

There were some really funny moments in this book, but just as many times my heart was breaking. I love stories of redemption, and this is about one persons long road to reclaiming her life. This is a very well crafted story. (Trigger warning for abuse & domestic violence)

 
Adventurous, Beautiful, Insightful

Such a sweet story that will make you teary. This story is about a boy and his cat, a man and his cat & the journey they both go on literally & figuratively. The sections narrated the voice of the cat, Nana, were incredibly good.

Into the Beautiful North: A Novel by Luis Alberto Urrea
 
Insightful, Adventurous, Interesting

Read as part of the Open Canon Bookclub hosted by Wiley Cash. Published 9 years ago but so very timely as there are so many border discussions today. This story may provide a different perspective. The story recounts the journey of Nayeli and her friends. They journey to the U.S. to recruit men to return to their Mexican village to save it and bring new life back into their community. Funny and poignant- very good read.

 
Persuasive, Interesting, Informative

This book has helped round out my knowledge of the people of Appalachia & it has given me a more more wholistic view of the region. It is a rebuttal to the one person view represented in the book “Hillbilly Elegy”. There is so much information packed into 132 pages. Much still to think about.

 
Interesting, Inspiring, Insightful

Such a good look into gratitude...so much more than saying “thank you.”
- Gratitude is not about thanks out of duty and debt...it’s much deeper
- Gratitude helps us see “with soft eyes”
- Gratitude builds resilience and community

 
Interesting, Beautiful, Adventurous

My nature devotional - Muir’s writing is so detailed I can see the trees, the birds, the mountains, the flowers, the bears.
P. 137 “Wherever we go in the mountains, or indeed in any of God’s wild, we find more than we seek.”

The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman
 
Interesting, Adventurous

Not your typical Christmas story. It’s about love, regret and trying to make things right. Experienced as an Audiobook on Scribd.

The Christmas Pearl by Dorothea Benton Frank
 
Fun, Optimistic, Inspiring

Just a good southern Christmas story, fun, light and quick for the holidays

 
Romantic, Optimistic, Inspiring

A typical Christmas/ Holiday story - sappy and a bit unrealistic but every once in a while we need a read to be light and turn out all right in the end.

Unsheltered: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver
 
Slow, Informative, Interesting

3.5??’s- This was a more difficult story to get ahold of- for me the 2 alternating story lines were so far apart for most of the book. Regardless of the format, Kingsolver can write! The present day storyline spoke to me the most. Still a very favorite author of mine.

 
Interesting, Dramatic, Insightful

A quick moving story of a baby kidnapped at 4 months of age. The story is told thru cleverly written vignettes by characters essential to the plot. I couldn’t put this down. P. 329 “When you forgive, the prisoner you set free is yourself.”

 
Insightful, Adventurous

Open Canon Bookclub read for December 2018- a collection of essays developed from the author’s life. The essay “The Lost Language of Lox”, my favorite, was beautifully written. “Imagine happiness.”

 
Inspiring, Beautiful, Insightful

3.5?? A very sweet story about the power of connection and care and what a family truly is.

 
Romantic, Fun, Optimistic

A fun love story that journeys thru several years. You will be cheering on Laurie and Jack thru the whole story. Great holiday read!

 
Interesting, Dramatic, Insightful

Brilliant writing!! Ng has such a gift of weaving amazing, intricate stories. She gets to the heart and soul of vulnerable lives and histories.

Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks
 
Romantic, Adventurous, Inspiring

A story of love lost and found that allows us to ponder what are we willing and able to do with love that meets us unexpectedly. I picked up this book due to the setting at Sunset Beach NC and Kindred Spirit-a place very special to me when I turned 50.

 
Brilliant, Interesting, Beautiful

The writing in this novel is amazingly good. Boyne has weaved another great story. I loved the section written in Edith’s voice.

The Library Book by Susan Orlean
 
Informative, Interesting, Inspiring

3.5??s. This is a look at the Los Angles Central Library fire of 1986. Orlean takes an in-depth look at the fire and the continuing mystery around its origin. This book also provides a reminder about the importance of libraries in our communities and how their presence and use is more that just a house for books. Libraries are a vital central location providing support and information for everyone.

Dream Work by Mary Oliver
 
Inspiring, Beautiful, Insightful

Poems that reach to the depth of one’s soul.

Southernmost by Silas House
 
Life Changing, Insightful, Informative

4.5??. This is a powerful story about the love between father & son, how our faith & belief can change & expand and about the hard choices we make because of love. Wonderfully written.

Asymmetry: A Novel by Lisa Halliday
 
Confusing, Unconvincing, Pointless

Not sure I understood what the author was trying to do with this novel- seems more like 3 separate sections/ novellas than interconnected stories. The writing as a whole was great....but maybe that’s the point- the asymmetry of it all.

 
Insightful, Informative, Interesting

This is a very moving and emotional memoir. The author takes the reader on her journey following results of a DNA test taken on a whim that lead her to search for a biological father. More importantly it is a journey of discovering herself. It raises many questions in regard to the ethics of sperm and egg donation, unknown medical history and what is family

Wilderness Essays by John Muir
 
Interesting, Adventurous, Informative

Love the writing of John Muir.
P. 118 “...for going to the mountain is like going home.”
P. 199 “Natures peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees”

The Round House: A Novel by Louise Erdrich
 
Insightful, Informative, Interesting

This novel tells a powerful coming of age story. 13 year old Joe, his parents, friends & family find themselves coping, healing & moving thru life’s complexities following the brutal rape of Joe’s mother on their Indian Reservation. Masterfully written! This story touches the soul in such a heartbreaking way. Trigger warnings for rape, crime against women

The Night Tiger: A Novel by Yangsze Choo
 
Dramatic, Interesting, Addictive

Really loved this book. It’s a hauntingly subtle thriller/mystery placed in a culture of superstition and myth. Loved how the story was told progressively through different voices. Excellent read.

 
Interesting, Informative, Insightful

Chemaly does an excellent job of laying out the case for women’s anger today. Throughly researched & balanced with personal & others stories, she tells the reader & maybe simply confirms what we as women already know & experience. She speaks to anger in the areas of gender bias & reproductive justice to name a few. She discusses working through self silencing our anger & /or raging our anger to find a healthy middle where we can use our anger for good, for change. She encourages us to not judge other women’s choices & to remember that leveraging our anger means taking a risk, a risk that can lead to positive change.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
 
Addictive, Interesting, Dramatic

Wow! Just Wow! I love when a book turns the corner in a story and you are caught off guard. Not saying much more to avoid spoilers. Wow, just wow! #botm

 
Inspiring, Beautiful, Adventurous

This was a very unique way of approaching a memoir. The author used what she knew best - the animals that have impacted her life. These individual stories focused on a particular important animal and the journey she took in her life finding meaning and love. The cover of this book is amazing!

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar
 
Insightful, Dramatic, Informative

This is such a beautifully written book. It centers around the life of Bhima, an old grandmother of low class in India. The story provides much insight into the lives of women in India and how class differences shape their world. #opencanonbookclub

 
Inspiring, Insightful, Beautiful

Corrigan does not mince words or emotions in these 12 stories. She is brutally honest and vulnerable as she shares some of the hardest moments in her life. It’s an audiobook I’d listen to again. Here are some of my takeaways:
“It happened because it can”
“It’s okay to say I don’t know “
“Life is a mystery to be lived”
“To be really loved, we need to be willing to be fully known”
“Reality always comes dressed in a point of view...try as we might to lay it bare”

 
Interesting, Informative, Dramatic

3.5 ??. I always enjoy reading books that center around the Vanderbilt Family and the era during which they lived. This book did well the the historical perspective of Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont. This a portrait of a strong woman.

Excavating Light by Diana Ewell Engel
 
Brilliant, Beautiful, Insightful

Each poem has amazing depth and story. This chapbook is the Author’s story. Engel shares her life and soul with these words. The poems trace the darkness and the light that our lives journey through.

Flying South 2018 by Misc Authors, Winston Salem Writers
 
Fun, Interesting, Beautiful

A wonderful collection of poems, fiction and nonfiction essays. A great showing of the writing talent in the Piedmont Triad area in North Carolina!

A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly
 
Slow, Persuasive, Insightful

Kelly’s writings and essays give one much to contemplate regarding the Light within, our response to that Center and the world. Published after his death in 1941, the concepts continue to speak to my condition today.

I Miss You When I Blink: Essays by Mary Laura Philpott
 
Brilliant, Fantastic, Fun

Absolutely loved this book. Caught myself smiling and laughing out loud as I drove down the road listening to this audiobook. Philpott shares her story with grace, light heartedness and transparency. Planning to pick up a hard copy to keep handy.

Little Faith: A Novel by Nickolas Butler
 
Dark, Interesting, Beautiful

This story “Little Faith” is about just that- Faith. It’s about how our faith can ebb and flow, become great or sink to the depths. This story took me on an emotional roller coaster right along with the main character, Lyle. The ending will leave one pondering.

Lake Diving by Janet Warman
 
Inspiring, Interesting, Beautiful

Beautifully written poems. These poems touch the everyday, the relationships, the beauty and sadness of life.

 
Interesting, Insightful, Informative

This is a very well written story that opens a window to see in and begin to understand the lives of women and how our specific cultures impact out lives. It’s a story about how power to have a choice is a daily struggle. Trigger warning for domestic violence #botm

 
Fun

From the author of “American Housewife: Stories,“ these new essays will make you chuckle and maybe cringe a bit as well. Ellis speaks her mind and shares her stories in the true “Southern Lady Code “ fashion. The audiobook was entertaining- but don’t listen to this with kids in the car (Southern Lady code for swearing and discussions on mature topics ????)

 
Epic, Interesting, Brilliant

A great collection of short stories! Poignant and driving at the heart of the human condition, the writing was so good! Planning to read more of this author’s work. Quote from the story “Job”- “...everyday is ground glass in the soul.”

 
Life Changing, Inspiring, Insightful

This book, the authors spiritual/church journey speaks to my spiritual history, present and future. Finished the audiobook just 9 days after her unexpected passing. Her courage and vulnerability to speak truth regarding the spiritual journey has legacy.
Some take aways: It’s ok to doubt. We don’t have to have it all together to be in community with one another. To engage we must be vulnerable. Healing (mending- my word) can’t happen until pain is acknowledged. We have to release cynicism to heal.
Prayers for her family...

Milkman: A Novel by Anna Burns
 
Interesting, Brilliant, Beautiful

This novel is a stream of consciousness. Very interesting novel from a writing style perspective as well as from the themes it deals with. Told from the perspective of Middle Sister the reader gets a first look into this young woman’s life in a violent Ireland and how her life and relationships move thru the turmoil. Very very long chapters made this a slow read for me, but it is brilliantly written.

 
Fantastic, Brilliant, Dramatic

Tell Me Who We Were by Kate McQuade is a collection of short stories connected by the thread of characters introduced in the first story, The Translator’s Daughter. In the first story the reader is introduced to 6 girls at a boarding school who experience the tragic death of one of their teachers. The rest of the stories branch off and focus on each girl. The ages and time periods progress with each story coming full circle with the the death of one of the girls as an older woman. McQuade’s writing flows seamlessly and paints a vivid picture the reader can easily visualize. The depth of emotion built into the stories is palpable. Beautifully written, these stories are some of the best I have read. Looking forward to more from this author. #librarything #arc #williammorrow

 
Interesting, Adventurous

3.5 ?? This memoir as it’s title suggests is about the author’s marriage & the medical accident that changed their lives. It’s about coming to terms with life, learning more about who you are & holding on to what is most dear. The in-depth look into her husband’s medical event will have you advocating for your loved ones in like circumstances. How do you stay calm or should you stay calm when you have real concerns about the care one receives?

Whiskey & Ribbons: A Novel by Leesa Cross-Smith
 
Dramatic, Fantastic, Brilliant

Read for Open Canon Bookclub’s May 2019 Read. This is an amazing story about family, love, loss, secrets and resilience. I was blown away by the prose, the structure & the storyline. The story is told by 3 narrators, Evi, Eamon, & Dalton, in sequential chapters. Definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year!

The Near Witch by V. E. Schwab
 
Fantastic, Brilliant, Adventurous

So glad this book was rereleased! V.E. Schwab’s writing talent is so visible in this her first book. I couldn’t put it down! The writing just kept pushing me to read more. She is an expert at building tension and creating amazing characters. This story did not disappoint. You can sense the winds and threads she cultivates in this book in all of her current writing.

 
Life Changing, Insightful, Adventurous

Such a powerful little book. The poems and bits of wisdom contained within its pages made my heart lighter, empowered my spirit, and encouraged my soul. This is a book I will treasure and keep on my nightstand. Page 61 “Take time to carefully consider what you let be part of your being and your spirit.”

 
Insightful, Interesting, Informative

I always love a good nature/ science book! More info in this book on how nature and weather give us clues to what’s happening or what’s about to happen. Insights were given on the hazards of over watering and fertilizing- our plants and trees become weaker and unable to withstand the harsh realities of nature.

Becoming by Michelle Obama
 
Inspiring, Insightful, Interesting

Story- we all have a story. Michelle Obama has shared hers here in these pages. She has been very honest, open & vulnerable in her sharing. When we take time to hear one another’s stories, understanding increases, walls are taken down & and we find that we all have a lot in common. Thank you for sharing your story. You are a woman like me, a wife like me, a mother like me, a friend like me.

 
Fun, Adventurous, Optimistic

3.5??. I love books about bookstores- fun to read. This one has mystery, heartbreak & reconciliation with tons of literary references. Enjoyable!

 
Difficult, Brilliant, Dark

This an epic novel- expertly & creatively written from the perspective of a secret agent writing his confession of his involvement with the war in Vietnam. The writing is rich and plums the depth of the war, the refugees & other players in this war. Hard at times to read, but brilliantly written.

 
Romantic, Fun, Unconvincing

3.5??. Perfect summertime read! Quick & fun!

 
Fun, Interesting, Adventurous

Such an interesting collection of short stories! Emily Koon has put together stories that catch the reader by surprise- ghosts, murder, apocalyptic scenarios. The story named in the title of this collection is a favorite. “We Are Still Here” is a spooky tale of a family that never leaves an amusement park. I also found Koon’s take on the Litzy Borden story in the Novella written with a unique structure. #arc #librarything #earlyreviewer #coniumpress #smallpress

Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington
 
Difficult, Interesting, Dark

This collection of interconnected stories tell about the life of a young man in Houston. It poignantly details his life in a lower income, ethnically diverse part of town, his family, his sexuality, and his struggle to live for something more. Well written and well narrated.

 
Unconvincing, Slow, Boring

I had a hard time getting into this mystery. It was very different having the author write himself into the story and be the narrator. The style just seemed somewhat pretentious. Though I will say that it did keep me in the dark regarding who committed the murder. This just wasn’t the right murder mystery for me.

 
Informative, Insightful, Interesting

Such a courageous and insightful memoir. Written with care and detail, the author’s story comes to life to help the reader broaden understanding of Aspergers and how it affects the lives bound by this “way of being.” #opencanonbookclub

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
 
Interesting, Epic, Dramatic

Such a good story! It’s written in the form of diary entries. A 12 year old girl writes to the mother she never knew and tells her the story of her family’s journey during India’s partition in 1947. Powerful, gripping- it touches on differences, fear of the other, and ultimately how we are all the same. Great audio narration as well! Thanks to #thereadingwomenpodcast for bringing this book to my attention!

 
Inspiring, Beautiful, Insightful

Such an important work. Sharing stories about our national parks that bring forth the true importance of protecting these lands. Her writing is poetry, striking strong and calling us to action to discover the importance of keeping our National Parks intact. “...quieting of the soul inspires creative acts...”p.354

Taft by Ann Patchett
 
Dark, Dramatic, Interesting

Ann Patchett always has a way of developing interesting characters and writing prose that paints a mental image. This one did not disappoint, but she added an interesting element of a made up story that the main character, John, uses to try and piece together the events that brought Fay and Carl into his life. #favoriteauthor

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
 
Fun, Interesting, Romantic

Fun summertime read! Has just the right amount of “heat”!

 
Fun, Fantastic, Interesting

This was such a wonderful read! What could be better than a memoir recounting one’s family history thru food and recipes?! Laugh out loud moments made this so enjoyable and sweet. You’ll see fatback in a whole new light.

The Friend: A Novel by Sigrid Nunez
 
Confusing, Dark, Interesting

Very interesting listen. This story has some twists I wasn’t expecting. It has themes of friendship, loss, human & pet relationships and writing. Trigger warning for theme of suicide. 3.5??

 
Gloomy, Interesting, Dark

This was my first reading of the written works of Larry Brown. His stories have been described as “gritty” and “real”. I would definitely agree with those descriptions. My favorite stories in this collection are “Tiny Love”, “Sleep”, & “A Roadside Resurrection.” I do have to provide trigger warnings for racial slurs, sexism, & drunk driving. Many of the stories involve bars, driving drunk with a cooler of beer on the floorboard and picking up women. These stories may not be what I am used to reading, but there are elements of brilliance in the prose. #LibraryThingEarlyReviewer #AlgonquinBooks

 
Fantastic, Beautiful, Adventurous

This is a beautifully written story of Tayo, a Laguna Indian of mixed race & his struggles with PTSD following returning home from WWII. Tayo journeys to find his way back to himself & his culture. The prose is absolutely beautiful & vivid.
P. 24 “...only humans resisted what they saw outside themselves”
P. 143 “He wanted to walk until he recognized himself again.”
P.204 “...love had outdistanced death.”

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