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My Reviews

Middlesex: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides
 
Interesting, Dramatic, Epic
Distracting and Irrelevant...

I'm clearly in the minority but I found the style of writing extremely distracting; jumping back and forth between narrating his family story vs. telling his own story, describing everything to nth degree- analogy overload; I got it already. I also found that a lot of the story did not contribute to much to the overall novel. I could have had half the book and got twice as much. Overall it was a great topic to cover, I think the world needs to understand more about sexuality without thinking everyone is a "monster"; unfortunately I didn't get as much of the struggle of Cal as I wished I should have. I spent more time trying to figure out the family members, the relationships and why the brother was named Chapter Eleven- I never figured it out. Anyway, a good book but not worth the effort of time required to make your way through it. The publicity and hype is undeserved.

Gone for Good by Harlan Coben
 
Twists and turns keep you going...

Not a classic for sure, but Coben is an excellent writer that keeps the reader engaged and constantly guessing.

1st to Die by James Patterson
 
Fun, Adventurous, Gloomy
You can't go wrong with a Patterson

I've since read 2-5 of the series and all are very good and quick reads. Not much to discuss for a book club book, it's what I call a pleasure book and not literature, but was still enjoyable.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
 
Informative, Dramatic, Insightful
Not nearly as good as the Kite Runner...

Very, very good but definitely not a classic like the Kite Runner. Hosseini went a little too far with the political stories and characters with this book that it was difficult to follow. In addition, I thought the parallel stories were interesting but were not needed in separate books/parts. It did not enhance the book and only created additional confusion. With that said, I thought the stories themselves were compelling, kept me interested and got me to think a lot about sacrifices for those you love. Definitely recommend but please, please read the Kite Runner before or after to compare and contrast.

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
 
Dramatic, Scary, Fantastic
Disappointing for such a great Storyline

For the son of Stephen and Tabitha King, I guess I expected a lot more. The storyline was so intriguing that when you combine the two, and excellent novel should have developed. Instead I thought it was "hokey" and that the ghost and his truck were unbelievable. So much more could have developed but it left me empty and wanting more. Maybe next time for this new author, but I don't know that I would give him another chance.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
 
Insightful, Dramatic, Brilliant
Will be a Classic - EXCELLENT

Too bad they have to go and make a movie about it because it just won't/can't be as good as the book. No way to convey the emotion and the human connections in 2 hours.

But this was by far one of the best books I've every read. So many opportunities to discuss the struggles of the various characters but also the geo-political struggles in Afganistan during the early wars. Highly recommend this book!!!

 
Adventurous, Dramatic, Interesting
A GREAT Story to Fall in Love With!

Not a classic but great just the same. The characters are easy to love and hate, even the minor ones, but I won't say which is which. Sara Gruen does brings you into circus life without trying to hard; it's so believable that you can picture as if you were there. The many "love stories" are realistic but my only fault almost too predictable. If you read or chose this book, you and your book club will not be disappointed. The story flows but has enough discussion opportunity that it is a nice balance. I highly recommend this book; it's well worth the ratings. If I could, I would have rated it 4.5 stars; not perfect but excellent all the same!

 
Adventurous, Dramatic, Interesting
A GREAT Story to Fall in Love With!

Not a classic but great just the same. The characters are easy to love and hate, even the minor ones, but I won't say which is which. Sara Gruen does brings you into circus life without trying to hard; it's so believable that you can picture as if you were there. The many "love stories" are realistic but my only fault almost too predictable. If you read or chose this book, you and your book club will not be disappointed. The story flows but has enough discussion opportunity that it is a nice balance. I highly recommend this book; it's well worth the ratings. If I could, I would have rated it 4.5 stars; not perfect but excellent all the same!

The Savage Garden by Mark Mills
 
Interesting murder Mystery entwined with Dante and Greek Mythology

Takes a little to get into the book as you travel through the discovery of the garden, but then the fun starts. The book got me so engrossed in the mystery and symbolism that I have decided to take on reading and studying Dante's Divine Comedy.
Definitely recommend the book and would have lots to discuss at any book club.

True Evil: A Novel by Greg Iles
 
Adventurous, Dramatic
Not one of Iles' best but still a good read.

I'm a big Greg Iles fan but this one was a little too much of a far fetched idea for me and didn't have as much intensity or suspense that is typical with his books. But still an overall good read!

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
 
Adventurous, Dramatic, Brilliant
What a novel for those OBSESSED with BOOKS!

Within the first few chapters you will be pulled into the world of The Shadow of the Winds. Despite the number of characters, the book is a wonderful story of a book and author that can make you love them so much you will do ALMOST anything. This is a great book for book club discussions; such ashame that's it's gone unnoticed for so long! There are quite a few subplots, but nothing that competes with the main plot that full of intrigue around every chapter. You will not want to put it down after you are pulled into the shadows. Take the time to truly enjoy every "main" character, what compels them to continue the hunt and finally the great love stories entwined within. Great, great book; I will find the other books written by this Spanish author (it was wonderfully translated to English) and hopefully enjoy another great unknown n mystery.

The Quickie by James Patterson, Michael Ledwidge
 
Pointless, Unconvincing, Interesting
Shallow and unbelievable story line...

This is definitely NOT a Patterson! The entire story is so unbelievable it is difficult to finish the book. Don't bother for pleasure or book club; very disappointing.

Breaking Her Fall by Stephen Goodwin
 
Unconvincing, Poorly Written
Overall A Disappointing Read

From a book club of 10, who rates books on a score of 1-10, most rated this book on average a 4. There were a few 6-7. The book had a potentially great story line, very relevant in today's society, but it never evolved and worse it never was resolved. The author has lengthy descriptions which rarely contribute to the story and eventually bore the reader. A sub plot of the book, an affair, ends up becoming a larger part of the story and significantly distracts from the main plot - a daughter/father struggle through teen challenges!

 
Insightful, Interesting, Dramatic
Very Good Book with a Very Big Caveat...

If you are a non believer in the Almighty, this may not be the book for you. In order to enjoy this book, which is very good, you will need to suspend belief (or non belief in this case). This book is a great story and is well told by the author but is intertwined with miracles and explanations of how and why God may do the things he does or doesn't. It is not all about Him, it is more about the story of an 11 year old struggling in the 60's after a terrible tragedy occurred in his family. I am not a believer and was able to thoroughly enjoy the writing style, the poetry (Go Sunny Sundown), which is interspersed throughout the book, and the love and trust that is so apparent in this family. In our discussions about the book, it came up that this is a book of fiction and with any book of fiction you need to let go and absorb the story for what it is...An analogy? Many of us thoroughly enjoy a good ghost story (Stephen King, best selling author?) but we don't usually question the events or ghosts in those novels. These are enjoyed for the story not whether we belief or not in Ghosts.
With all that said you will thoroughly enjoy this story if you can suspend non-belief and read it for what it is; a story of love and commitment to family and the comfort that can be found within a family unit in the most difficult of times.
I recommend this book but you've been advised...So enjoy if you decide to take the challenge.

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
 
Insightful, Interesting, Dramatic
Very Good Book with a Very Big Caveat...

If you are a non believer in the Almighty, this may not be the book for you. In order to enjoy this book, which is very good, you will need to suspend belief (or non belief in this case). This book is a great story and is well told by the author but is intertwined with miracles and explanations of how and why God may do the things he does or doesn't. It is not all about Him, it is more about the story of an 11 year old struggling in the 60's after a terrible tragedy occurred in his family. I am not a believer and was able to thoroughly enjoy the writing style, the poetry (Go Sunny Sundown), which is interspersed throughout the book, and the love and trust that is so apparent in this family. In our discussions about the book, it came up that this is a book of fiction and with any book of fiction you need to let go and absorb the story for what it is...An analogy? Many of us thoroughly enjoy a good ghost story (Stephen King, best selling author?) but we don't usually question the events or ghosts in those novels. These are enjoyed for the story not whether we belief or not in Ghosts.
With all that said you will thoroughly enjoy this story if you can suspend non-belief and read it for what it is; a story of love and commitment to family and the comfort that can be found within a family unit in the most difficult of times.
I recommend this book but you've been advised...So enjoy if you decide to take the challenge.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
 
Dramatic, Insightful, Beautiful
Emotionally and intellectually REWARDING even for Adults - GREAT Book

Let me start off by saying don't let the Young Adult classification fool you. This book will challenge and reward adults of all ages, both emotionally and intellectually! The author tells a haunting story, different than any other I've heard or read, about the rise and fall of Nazi Germany. The struggle of the Jews and Germans was eye opening to say the least. The author was able to make the characters come alive as if I was listening to them tell their stories. That is STORY TELLING at it's best!! As for the narrator, Death, don't let this scare you or turn you away from the book. This is a clever way to tell such a horrific story of one of the worst wars EVER. Death's insight to the emotions of the dying is believable and so is his struggle with the human race. His biggest struggle is the ugly and beauty of humans; quite simple how we can love each other so deeply and completely and in the next breath take lives so brutally and without regard. With all the good in the book there is only a few disappointments which can be easily overlooked because of the fabulous story telling and characters; they are: 1.) There is so much 'foreshadowing' that it can at times become distracting. I realize later in the book this is likely to keep young adults reading a difficult topic. You will need a little patience and not worry that all will not resolve itself, and 2.) I wished Zusak wrote a couple more chapters to bring a little more resolution and closure to the outcome of Liesel and Max. I fell so much in love with them and their story just ended after spending such an intimate time with them through tragedy and love. But overall this is one of the best books I've ever read and will provide a lot of discussion opportunity for any book club and classroom. EXCELLENT!!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
 
Dramatic, Insightful, Beautiful
Emotionally and intellectually REWARDING even for Adults - GREAT Book

Let me start off by saying don't let the Young Adult classification fool you. This book will challenge and reward adults of all ages, both emotionally and intellectually! The author tells a haunting story, different than any other I've heard or read, about the rise and fall of Nazi Germany. The struggle of the Jews and Germans was eye opening to say the least. The author was able to make the characters come alive as if I was listening to them tell their stories. That is STORY TELLING at it's best!! As for the narrator, Death, don't let this scare you or turn you away from the book. This is a clever way to tell such a horrific story of one of the worst wars EVER. Death's insight to the emotions of the dying is believable and so is his struggle with the human race. His biggest struggle is the ugly and beauty of humans; quite simple how we can love each other so deeply and completely and in the next breath take lives so brutally and without regard. With all the good in the book there is only a few disappointments which can be easily overlooked because of the fabulous story telling and characters; they are: 1.) There is so much 'foreshadowing' that it can at times become distracting. I realize later in the book this is likely to keep young adults reading a difficult topic. You will need a little patience and not worry that all will not resolve itself, and 2.) I wished Zusak wrote a couple more chapters to bring a little more resolution and closure to the outcome of Liesel and Max. I fell so much in love with them and their story just ended after spending such an intimate time with them through tragedy and love. But overall this is one of the best books I've ever read and will provide a lot of discussion opportunity for any book club and classroom. EXCELLENT!!

The Savage Garden by Mark Mills
 
Interesting murder Mystery entwined with Dante and Greek Mythology

Takes a little to get into the book as you travel through the discovery of the garden, but then the fun starts. The book got me so engrossed in the mystery and symbolism that I have decided to take on reading and studying Dante's Divine Comedy.
Definitely recommend the book and would have lots to discuss at any book club.

 
Romantic, Interesting, Beautiful
Get lost in time...

A unique and tragic love story with twist and turns and great mystery to keep you reading. Do not get caught up in the dates, just enjoy the story - It will make sense and you will begin to understand the travel but more importantly the love between husband and wife no matter how much travel or distance separates you. Very cool way to tell a love story!

 
Fun, Inspiring, Optimistic
What's on your list - or more importantly, Do You Have a List?? Very Good Book !

The book makes you laugh, makes you cry and makes you think about what's really important in life. You will fall in love with June as she finally grows up through the unfortunate loss of "an acquaintance" in a horrible accident where she was the driver. Lots to discuss for book clubs, especially the big question - Would you do what June did and what on the list would you not be able to do or what would be most difficult for you to overcome to complete the list? A great way to get to know people in your book club!

 
Dramatic, Interesting, Dark
A Believable Concept; It Could Happen - But I wanted better...

Tolerable read, it kept me going but I wanted so much more to happen. A great plot but it never seemed to take off for me - the story dragged and I never really felt like I knew the characters. Just O.K.

The Confessions of Max Tivoli by Andrew Sean Greer
 
A Touching, Well Told Story- Fall in Love with Max

This short in duration but long on emotion will not disappoint any reader. If you always want your books to turn into movies - this one has; although the Producers want you to believe something different, Brad Pitt's new movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons" looks like a dead ringer for this book based on the trailers I've seen.

Besides that this is a tragic story of a baby born old and as he "ages" his external body turns younger. Max, the narrator, takes you through the challenges of society acceptance, his love life and ultimately getting old in a youngsters body. Really great story; I could not put it down.

 
Interesting, Informative, Beautiful
More Power to Women...

Excellent book on the story of Jacobs women. Less about the Bible and more about a story of the struggle women had in the times of Christ. There's murder, mystery, sex and heartbreak all in one well written book. A classic that all readers, believers or not, should pick up and enjoy!

 
Informative, Interesting, Dark
This is NON FICTION readers, so be prepared...Excellent Story by Larson

Any time you pick a book be sure you understand the genre...Although Larson tells a true story in a manner that appears to be fiction (good story telling)it was still based on actual events. So if you expect the two stories that were parallel events at the Chicago's Worlds Fair you will be sadly disappointed.

As with others, our book club had mixed reviews - mostly bad, but again I think it is because most are so accustomed to fiction reading that they forget real life doesn't work that way. The stories independently are amazing stories of American History. Folks say the architectural piece of the book was boring, but think about what they accomplished in a short amount of time in the conditions that existed in Chicago in the 1850's. Simply amazing!

Of course with the onslaught of people coming into the city, it was a perfect "hunting" ground for America's first serial killer.

Excellent book but level set you reading mind before taking this on. Read it for what it is - American History.

 
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
Would NOT recommend this book - Boring and Unbelievable

And that was pretty much the consensus from most of the members of the club. I think the only reason it's getting some good ratings it because it pulls on the heartstrings of moms; but if you break down the story and get past giving up a child, the story is WEAK and the ending was terrible!

Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright
 
Inspiring, Romantic, Optimistic
Such Potential Turns Into Such a JOKE!

How many of you would forgive, without hesitation, the rapist of your mother who turns out to be your father; in minutes no less?! Maybe those who loved this book - but not me. I really thought this book had a lot of potential while the kids were finding out just who their parents were and what really happened in their relationship; it fell apart so quickly, became so unbelievable and ended horribly! I can not recommend this book to anyone, Christian or otherwise. AUTHORS, if you are out there, please don't try to convert readers to Christianity through your writing by trying to disguise it in a novel!

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
 
Dramatic, Insightful, Interesting
A Different Way to tell a Very SAD and DISTURBING Tragedy

Unfortunately this macabre story is an interesting journey through the discovery of a child's murderer. I say unfortunate because it is so disturbing that it can depress you and will make you cry! But if you think about the topic, how could it not be. I would've rated it lower if the author did not make me cry and did not leave me reeling in the agony that the family and the girl was feeling. Going into this you know the story line so be prepared readers - it will be difficult. Just like the movie ratings, pay attention. The author tells a tragic story in a touching and very sad way - but she still makes you smile at times. I actually think this was a very well written book but a very difficult subject to handle.

 
Romantic, Adventurous, Dramatic
Not just for the Young Adult...Really, really good!

A fun, quick read that is truly enjoyable. I loved the first book so much I had to immediately go by the second in the series New Moon.

Remember, it's fiction, about Vampires, so read it as fiction. If you do, you will be so captivated by the story you will not be able to put it down. Just pure fun reading!

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
 
Dramatic, Interesting, Dark
Fabulous and Believable - What a GREAT Story

A book about a girl asked to write the story (biography) of the best story teller, author around at the time. Excellent concept, excellent writing - you just can't wait to read the next chapter in the book which is also the next chapter in the life of the fictional author, Vida Winter. Embedded within is an amazing mystery that Margaret Lea unravels while listening and writing the biography. You will not be disappointed!!

In the Woods: A Novel by Tana French
 
Slow, Dramatic, Interesting
Award Winning Story Line that Disappointed

I had high expectations for this award winning first novel; it had an intriguing story line but the author did not come through for me. My main issue...the author is a women who wrote from the perspective of a male detective and I could never buy it! I don't know why this was necessary when the second character, the main characters female partner played a large and much more believable part in the story. Finally, I was able to figure out the "who dunnit" long before I should have and that was disappointing. As a side note, I do this a lot so maybe this shouldn't be considered but it seemed too obvious for even for me. Caution those who may be considering it for a book club book because it may be a let down, but worth a try for a personal read.

 
Dark, Dramatic, Adventurous
A Classic and a Must Read

Whether your kids are reading it in school or not, this book has so much to discuss particularly if your book club likes deep discussions. Just keep in mind, during your discussions, that this was written in the early 50's and times were much different then. The symbolism is significant and it reminds us all how fear, power and control can play such a significant part of our lives.

 
The excerpt is the best part of this book...Don't waste your time!

New Moon (The Twilight Saga) by Stephenie Meyer
 
Adventurous, Dramatic, Romantic
Good but not as good as Twilight...

But I will keep reading the series because the author has at least hooked me to find out what happens to Bella and Edward. Perhaps I will wait a little while before going to the next two books.

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
 
Inspiring, Fun, Insightful
What a creative and engaging story...

From the author of the Book Thief, another fun, entertaining but very different book. Although a young adult book, it is rewarding for those of all ages and reminds us that we all have an important role in life; we have to deliver difficult messages that will challenge our hearts and our heads but these are equally as important as the messages we have to deliver that are easy and positive. Lots to discuss - specifically about the messages - why those were chosen and does the group believe that Ed delivered the messages correctly. My only downside to the novel is that I did not feel that he completed ALL the tasks (messages) at hand in a manner that satisfied me as a reader. On a few, I was left with a feeling of needing and wanting more. This will make more sense once you read the book - I can't give you more without giving away the book. An enjoyable read.

What Was Lost: A Novel by Catherine O'Flynn
 
Slow, Boring
An award winning disappointment...

I wanted more from the book, more from the characters and more from the ending! Such a great story line that grabs you immediately when you read the back cover but a complete let down. Kate is such an interesting character and she just fades away while insignificant music store mall workers come to the forefront. Too bad because the story had so much more potential.

 
Interesting, Slow, Fun
A little slow to start but takes off and ENTERTAINS till the end!

Let's start out by reminding everyone this is NON-FICTION but you would not every believe it by the smooth and creative writing style of the author. It reads like a crime novel because the author is clearly a great story teller. I think the most creative thing the author did was to develop characters, which there are many, in the beginning of the book. This is another reason it's a little slow because Berendt also wants you to fall in love with Savannah, just like he did, so he painstakingly describes the beauty of the architecture and landscape of this hidden city in the South. As for the characters, don't feel like you have to remember every single one for a book club review. There are a couple of handfuls that are important and they (Jim, Danny, Joe, Chablis, Adlers, Lawton, Seiler, Minerva)come up so often and are so colorful you won't be able to forget them. The others (Serena, Diggers, Glover, UGA iv and v) are in the novel to help build the weird and extreme events that were going on during the 8 years Berendt spent in Savannah.

With a non-fiction book club event it's hard, other than discussing the writing style, to talk about plot/story line, characters, etc. because they are what they are. So We decided to view the movie (of the same title), directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Kevin Spacey (Williams), John Cusack (Berendt) and Lady Chablis (played herself) to compare how the book was different from the movie. It was a lot of fun and different than anything we ever did. It's a 2.5 hour movie so allow enough time and, if people hate talking through movies, I wouldn't recommend this method because we did a lot talking.

Overall a very well written book with lots of enjoyment - you start asking yourself can this really happen in one town? Be patient in the start and, if you are, you will be rewarded.

Sharp Objects: A Novel by Gillian Flynn
 
Dramatic, Dark, Addictive
All too rushed and predictable ending after struggling through "Disturbing" mental disorders!!

A disturbing and predictable novel. Disturbing because I think the degree of self abuse and sexual behavior in early teens was a little unbelievable for me. I don't underscore how sick people can get but the imagery that I was left with was so extreme that I thought at some point Camille was a human sore, oozing and bloody!! I don't understand how that could be hidden for so long from anyone and I also understand how repulsive it could be to those around her. How stupid would one look in the southern mid-west in long pants/skirts and long sleeves in the hottest days of summer - come on! As for the predictable aspect...SPOILER>>>>I knew it was either her mother or her half sister right from the start and I don't like books that are so predictable.>>>SPOILER END. What saved the book was the writing style of the author, the desire to want the killers of little girls captured and the desire to find out that Camille was able to eventually find some inner peace. I don't think Camille ever did and that was too disappointing. Ultimately, for me, it was just an OK read and not the page turner I was hoping for. The author could have made a very real mental disability more believable, add a few more twists and turns and not make early teen sex so provocative.

Gossip of the Starlings by Nina de Gramont
 
Pointless, Unconvincing, Boring
Didn't match the hipe!

The author writes beautifully and I think it was well written but the story is unbelievable and boring. I could not really understand or love ANY of the characters, certainly not the main characters. The drugs in the story are excessive and takes away from a storyline; the author should have spent more time helping us understand the psyche of the girls than the drugs of choice: coke, marijuana, LSD, mushrooms, and alcohol. There were so many alternative story lines that would have made for more interest and would capture the readers.

For all those who have read this is a good book for young adults - I don't think so. Just because it's written about privileged high schoolers does not mean it tells the right message (break the rules, have sex, do drugs, hurt your friends, and lack the confidence to protect against manipulators??) for those at that age. Read it yourself before you decide to give it to your teen - I have a 14 and 17 year old and would not recommend they read it. The positives, author has a beautiful imagery and a smooth writing style that makes the book pass quickly. These were the sentiments of EVERYONE in our book club - the avg rating 5-6 out of 10; most did NOT like it.

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