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My Reviews

Delicious!: A Novel by Ruth Reichl
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Informative, Interesting
A Fun Read for Book Clubs & Foodies

The characters and sensory details in this book are delightful. I also liked the historic elements.

 
Book Club Recommended
Optimistic, Inspiring, Fun
The Wildwater Walking Club

This is a "feel good" book that allows the reader to explore how other women deal with change in their lives. Claire Cook creates interesting characters in realistic stages of life dealing with real issues that we as women face in the 21st century.

On Strike for Christmas by Sheila Roberts
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Insightful, Inspiring
On Strike for Christmas

While a bit predictable, this Christmas novel is worth the read because of the character development and interaction.

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Interesting, Insightful
The Rosie Project

I liked this quirky romance, but I didn't love it. I enjoyed the growth in the main characters, Don & Rosie. I thought that the story was a bit drawn out in the middle and the resolution was too rushed.

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

Lisette's List: A Novel by Susan Vreeland
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Addictive, Interesting
Lisette's List

While I learned a great deal about Vichy France and the provincial life leading up to WWII, during the war, and the years following the war, this was a long read. It was interesting at the beginning and the end, but it was a bit draggy in the middle. I am glad that I finished it, and do believe that it will provide an interesting book discussion.

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Romantic
How to Eat a Cupcake

This novel centers on girls who were raised together yet separated by class structure. I enjoyed the characters and the setting. It is a quick, breezy read for book clubs, yet we found lots to discuss about the motivation of the characters.

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Informative, Brilliant
The Whiskey Rebels

While I enjoyed the historic backdrop and the character development, I feel that it got a bit draggy in the middle. I highly enjoyed the last 150 pages. They made the read worthwhile.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Slow
Under the Wide and Starry Sky

While I found parts of this novel interesting, it moved very slowly. I feel that some of the minute details could have been left out in exchange for the larger retellings of the love, life, & travels of Robert Lewis Stevenson and Fanny Stevenson.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
The Dressmaker

I enjoyed this venture into the aftermath of the sinking of the Titanic. This novel focuses upon the social, political, and financial consequences of this disaster. Alcott also throws in some interesting characters and a bit of romance.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Addictive, Dramatic
Big, Little Lies

This book seems simple on the surface, but once you invest some time in it, it develops into a nuanced piece with well-developed characters.

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Fun, Dramatic
The House of Silk

Anthony Horowitz keeps the aura of Sherlock Holmes alive with his new series. I highly recommend this title to mystery lovers - especially those who love period pieces. Our book club readers really enjoyed this piece, even if they had never read a Sherlock Holmes story before. We also liked the 21st century sensibilities added to both Holmes and Watson.

 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Insightful, Interesting
Still Life with Bread Crumbs

I enjoyed the journey with the main character Rebecca as she begins a new chapter of her life... in an unfamiliar place, with new people, and with few prospects for her future. I especially liked the view through an artist's eyes.

The Tilted World: A Novel by Tom Franklin, Beth Ann Fennelly
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Informative, Adventurous
The Tilted World

This piece of historic fiction delivered on all accounts. The history was well blended into the tale. Both the character & plot development were well done. The romantic element was woven nicely into the story so that it didn't overshadow the historic or human elements.

Sisterland: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dramatic, Dark
Sisterland

While I grew to care about the sisters in this piece, it took patience and time. While I feel that Sittenfeld crafted a unique storyline, it still felt forced in spots. I do believe that a book club would find lots of elements for discussion - especially the outcomes of our choices very early in life.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Interesting
Still Alice

Because of the topic, Early Onset Alzheimer Disease, this was not an easy book to read. It was made more difficult because it was narrated in first person by Alice, the victim of EOAD; therefore, making it even more challenging to follow the narrative. While I learned more about the science of this disease, I had a hard time connecting with the characters. While a few developed, most were self-centered, and it was hard to feel empathy for them.

The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth
 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Inspiring, Romantic
The Secrets of Midwives

This multi-generational tale is woven so effectively that the reader doesn't want to put it down. The intertwined stories of three midwives, grandmother, daughter, & granddaughter, are told with realistic emotion & character development. I enjoyed the book & believe that others in my book club will enjoy it as well.

The Paris Wife: A Novel by Paula Mclain
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Insightful
The Paris Wife

I thoroughly enjoyed this fictionalized account of Ernest Hemingway's early life, told from the perspective of his first wife, Hadley Richardson. Paula McLain's writing allows a peek behind the scenes in the evocative life of Paris in the 20's. It also gives the reader a new perspective on Hemingway before he became famous for both his writings and his exploits.

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Dramatic, Inspiring
Ordinary Grace

I really enjoyed the story that Krueger wove together in the telling of this tale. I could relate to both the characters and the cultural setting of 1961. While the family dynamics pushed the story along, it was the small town mentality that really motivated the action. I highly recommend this title and anything else written by William Kent Krueger.

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

I was mesmerized by this apocalyptic tale. I loved the interwoven tale of the survivors and the amazing way their lives were connected. Readers will be drawn to the characters and their plight as they begin the new age of the world. Highly recommended!

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Inspiring, Beautiful
Me Before You

I absolutely loved this book! I want to be best friends with Louisa, the main narrator. Beyond this rather personal connection, I also enjoyed Jojo Moyes' writing style. She had Louisa narrate all but four chapters, and she wove four other narrators, other important characters, into the piece to give a fresh perspective. I really liked this technique. I am looking forward to the sequel, AFTER YOU.

Gray Mountain: A Novel by John Grisham
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Slow
Gray Mountain

This was normal Grisham style with a great cast of characters and a plausible storyline. What sets this title apart is the strong female lead. I really enjoyed this title, and I recommend to both Grisham fans and those who have never read one of his novels.

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Insightful, Interesting
Benediction

This title left me with mixed feelings. While I enjoyed the characters, the plot, and the austere setting, something about its blending of generational stories troubled me. Because it left too much unresolved, I was also left a bit unsatisfied with the ending. Yet, I did enjoy listening to it - partially because of the great voice of Mark Bramhall. His husky, dry voice brought the characters to life.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Life Changing
Being Mortal

This is an informative read. I appreciate Gawande's style. His interwoven discussions of medical practices with anecdotal evidence and historic perspective worked to convince me that we need a philosophical change for how our society approaches end of life issues.

Winter Stroll (Winter Street) by Elin Hilderbrand
 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Fun, Unconvincing
Winter Stroll

It was an enjoyable holiday read, but not nearly as good as the first installment in this series, WINTER STREET. I did enjoy the chance to vicariously be at the Nantucket "Winter Stroll" weekend.

After You: A Novel by Jojo Moyes
 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Insightful, Inspiring
After You

I was not certain I could go into another story about Louisa after Will, but I am so glad that I did. Jojo Moyes creates finely drawn characters with realistic issues, choices, and fears. I love the quick dialogue, and the way Moyes draws you into the story with tears and laughter. I highly recommend this title, but only after you read ME BEFORE YOU. You MUST read them in order to appreciate the intricate story.

 
Book Club Recommended
Optimistic, Inspiring, Beautiful
Prayers for Sale

I highly recommend this title about life in a depression-era Colorado gold mining camp. Hennie Comfort, the local historian and storyteller, weaves a vibrant quilt of stories for the newest member of the community, Nit Spindle, and the reader. I enjoyed the audio version performed by Maggi-Meg Reed. She brings the characters to life with her voices.

Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke, Leslie Meier, Laura Levine
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Slow, Poorly Written
Gingerbread Cookie Murder

While this was a light holiday read, I didn't really enjoy it a great deal. While I found the Laura Levine story comical, I did not like the Joanne Fluke piece. My favorite was the "Gingerbread Cookies and Gunshots" by Leslie Meier. Because I liked both her writing style and the main character, Lucy Stone, I plan to read more of her books.

 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Romantic, Inspiring
A Quilt for Christmas

This historic piece set during the Civil War was a bit more predictable than PRAYERS FOR SALE, but it did have well-developed characters with realistic responses to life's challenges. Once again, I really enjoyed the relationships developed between the women. Although it has "Christmas" in the title, the actual plot relies only briefly on the holiday so it can be enjoyed at anytime throughout the year.

Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Inspiring, Informative
Lizzy and Jane

This foodie novel is great because it uncovers the intricacies of dealing with cancer treatments while developing a realistic family drama. While there is a romantic element & a Christian perspective, both serve as backdrops for the main story of the title characters - sisters who have never faced the effects from losing their mother to cancer. I enjoyed seeing the growth of the characters, and the story was enhanced, not overwhelmed, by the discussion of recipes, food pairing, and preparation of chemo-friendly dishes.

BULL MOUNTAIN by Brian Panowich
 
Dramatic, Dark, Graphic
Bull Mountain

While the family dynamics of this multigenerational tale was intriguing, the violence was over the top. While I enjoyed the finely wrought plot, I just couldn't read through the large sections of violence, especially toward women. I understand that the masculine violence was a large part of the character development, but still feel uncomfortable about recommending this title to others.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Dramatic
The Girl You Left Behind

Another AMAZING tale from Jojo Moyes! Unlike ME BEFORE YOU & AFTER YOU, this novel flips between occupied France during WWII & current day London. As usual, Moyes presents finely drawn characters that readers can embrace & cheer along in the journey through the tightly woven tale of love, loss & sacrifice. I highly recommend this novel.

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

While I learned a great deal about the inequalities of the laws governing the residents of Native American reservations, I found this novel a bit overly sexual. It is about a group of 13 year old boys coming of age in 1988, but it still used language and references that were not necessary to build the plot or develop the characters. On the other hand, the character development was well done with little fall back on stereotypical characters. It did provide a lot of issues to discuss in our bookclub.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Addictive, Interesting
The Girl on the Train

Paula Hawkins creates a tense thriller through the voices of three women... an ex-wife, the new wife, & a mercurial stranger. This reads a bit like the Hitchcock thriller Rear Window with a modern twist. What I loved about this book is that even while it develops the stereotype of the powerless woman, Hawkins moves us to see the strength of women when they fight together instead of fighting each other. I highly recommend this title - especially to book clubs.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Inspiring, Interesting
The Wright Brothers

This is another great historic piece by David McCullough. He builds a clear vision of these men from their early years in Dayton, OH and through their lifetimes. McCullough doesn't shy away from the controversies surrounding their inventions, but he doesn't let this be the defining of these brilliant men. He moves beyond the hype to investigate the other sides of them. Many of my favorite parts were the personal letters written between the brothers, their sister, and their father. McCullough helps the reader to see both Wilbur and Orville as distinct men, not just one half of a famous duo.

Defending Jacob: A Novel by William Landay
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
Defending Jacob

This was an outstanding read. William Landay creates a murder mystery surrounded by a seemingly normal family... a family built on misunderstandings, lies, and mistrust. The only confusing element is the time-lapsed storytelling. The narrator begins with a testimony before a grand jury which becomes woven into the retelling of events. I highly recommend this title to anyone who enjoys Grisham's legal dramas. This would be a great choice for book clubs because there will be lots of responses to the choices the parents make.

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Informative
Circling the Sun

This engaging story of Beryl Markham engages the reader in an adventure from start to finish. With the boundary-busting Beryl at its center, this drama unfolds in Africa of the 1920's, visits England of the same period, and briefly touches upon her record-breaking flight across the Atlantic in 1936. I was drawn in by the dichotomy of Beryl's strength and fragility, her lucidity of thought and action and her impetuous naivete. I highly recommend this novel.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Insightful, Interesting
What Alice Forgot

Liane Moriarty is definitely one of my favorite authors. She presents such three-dimensional characters that a reader can invest in as the plot develops. I find myself thinking about her characters long after I finish the last page. While she presents just enough predictability to make a reader comfortable, she still surprises you with the directions that her plots and characters take by the end. This story made me reevaluate my life, relationships, and choices. I highly recommend this title.

State of Wonder: A Novel by Ann Patchett
 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Dramatic
State of Wonder

While it took me awhile to get into this novel, it was well worth the time. The main character, Marina, begins as a lukewarm, wishy-washy character, yet she evolves as she must choose between being carried along by the strong characters around her or stepping forward in a direction of her choosing. Patchett does a wonderful job of transporting her readers into the world of medical researchers in the heart of the Amazon rainforest and creating several tribes of indigenous peoples to develop this tale. I thoroughly enjoyed this title and highly recommend it.

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Romantic, Optimistic
Eight Hundred Grapes

While reading this title, I enjoyed learning more about small, natural science based vineyards. Laura Dave's lyrical writing brings the reader into the sensory setting of the family vineyard. This lush background becomes the setting for a story of siblings, parents, and lovers and the complicated relationships we share with them. Although there were some predictable elements, overall this was a good novel.

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

This is a finely crafted tale of Nazi-occupied France from 1941-44 told through the memories of a survivor in the 1990's. It is amazing to see the "Nightingale" evolve throughout the story. The characterization is realistic, yet not predictable. The plot unfolds gently with only purposeful descriptions of the violence of this era. I highly recommend this novel.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Remarkable Creatures

Tracy Chevalier does not disappoint with this one. Once again she is able to take characters that would appear to be secondary, almost dispensable characters, and turn them into sparkling characters that speak volumes with only a few words and thoughts. Both Elizabeth Philpot and Mary Anning jump off the pages through their words, relationships, and actions. I feel that I not only read a very satisfying tale about the power of the bonds between women, but also the early studies and discoveries in the field of paleontology. I highly recommend this title.

Out to Lunch by Stacey Ballis
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Romantic
Out to Lunch

One of the main characters in this tale is deceased, but the reader is still entertained by her humor, insight, & bluntness. Throughout the story she speaks to the narrator, but not in a weird ghostly manner; it is more of a BFF knowing what her friend would think and say. I enjoyed the characters & their growth as the story weaves its way to a satisfying, if predictable, ending.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Inspiring, Dramatic
The Boys in the Boat

Daniel James Brown recreates the magic of the 1936 Gold medal-winning 8 man rowing team from the University of Washington. While I am not a fan of nonfiction, this piece kept me reading despite the fact that I knew how the story ended. Brown makes the reader want to find out the "rest of the story," not just the unbelievable ending race at the 1936 Olympics held in Nazi Germany. Most of this nonfiction narrative comes from the viewpoint of team member Joe Rantz. I would recommend this title to anyone interested in Olympic sports or anyone who likes to cheer for the underdogs. I enjoyed watching this collection of hard working young men and their coaches battle the sons of the privileged and the athletes who represented the Aryan superiority promoted by Hitler. It was uplifting to learn about the obstacles that the team had to overcome both individually and as a Washington team to reach their ultimate goal. This piece is well worth the read.

 
Interesting, Fun, Inspiring
The Art of Crash Landing

While I would not say that this book was a favorite, I did like DeCarlo's writing. Her main character Mattie is just not very likable. The best of the story unfolds in the final chapters. Although the ending redeemed the book to some degree, I still find it difficult to recommend it.

A Window Opens: A Novel by Elisabeth Egan
 
Book Club Recommended
Confusing, Optimistic, Inspiring
A Window Opens

While the title is a jumping off point, Egan does not belabor the aphorism. I thoroughly enjoyed this read about how life changes when we least expect it. Alice, the main character, is a true example of the "sandwich generation" placed between raising a young family and aiding aging parents - while attempting to remake herself in a new, hip professional life. The family dynamics are realistic, but not daunting, and the growth of the characters is encouraging. An added dimension are the references to favorite books and authors, as well as the glimpse into the publishing world. I highly recommend this title.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Dramatic, Interesting
Everything I Never Told You

This was one of those books that keeps you reading (or listening) because it moves fluidly between the present, the distant past, and the more current past. Ng presents the reader with characters that are complex enough to be interesting, yet familiar enough to relate to in some way. She also describes the subtle and blatant discrimination that the Chinese American characters faced in their lives without overdone drama so that it feels authentic. The reader does not feel as if they are being given a speech on race relations in mid- twentieth century America. Instead one feels as if she is putting together a puzzle in which a key element is this discrimination. I recommend this title for those who enjoy a good tale that pulls you into a mystery with strong characters who have strong motivations for their actions... some that they don't even understand themselves until it is too late.

 
Book Club Recommended
Addictive, Dramatic, Scary
In a dark, dark wood

I enjoyed this book, but what makes it a 3 instead of 4 is the predictability of certain elements of the plot. Ruth Ware does a nice job of unfolding the mystery while creating a modern twist on the big, creepy house on a deserted coast during a thunderstorm. This is Ware's debut novel. With her ability to write description and create interesting characters, I look forward to future titles.

Arrowood: A Novel by Laura McHugh
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dark, Dramatic
Arrowood

I enjoyed this modern take on the gothic mystery genre. Arden Arrowood is back home in the ancestral home that she was forced to leave as a child after a family tragedy. As her new life back home develops, the reader learns about the tragedy that shaped her life and continues to haunt her. Add in an interesting journalist whose passion is searching for answers to cold cases and the story takes some unexpected turns.

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Brilliant, Adventurous
No Shred of Evidence

Outstanding mystery! I have read one of Todd's books in his other mystery series, but this was the first in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series. It was a tightly written plot with just enough characters to make it interesting. The characters were genuine, not the overwritten, flamboyant characters seen too often in modern mysteries. I especially liked the depth of Inspector Rutledge's character. The only flaw was because of my ignorance of the area of Cornwall and some of the British elements. Beyond that, I think this title should appeal to most any mystery fan; I highly recommend it.

Winter Storms (Winter Street) by Elin Hilderbrand
 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Fantastic, Interesting
Winter Storms

With this third and final installment of the Winter Street Trilogy, readers are satisfied to learn the fates of the Quinn family. With romances, weddings, and new beginnings, the Quinns continue their merry disfunction, yet as a reader I was happy with most of the outcomes. As with past titles, I was distracted by the choppy style of writing. For a large part of the novel, I felt as if I was reading Hilderbrand's outline for her novel instead of the final copy. This and her blending of present and past tense storytelling almost drove me to quit reading. What kept me going until the end were the characters... I feel like I could pick the Quinns out of a crowd on Winter Street, Nantucket. For this reason, I recommend this title.

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Informative
Carpe Demon

Although this was just a fun, fluffy read, I enjoyed the narrator's wit and expression. I know that the setting is anything but realistic, but her life as a mom of a toddler and tween was very real. I also learned about elements of the spiritual battle as it is waged within the Catholic faith. If you just want to read some escapist lit, this is a good series to check out.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
 
Book Club Recommended
Slow, Interesting, Dramatic
Truly Madly Guilty

Once again Liane Moriarty has introduced readers to a group of characters with genuine emotions,conflicts, & challenges. The entire story pivots upon the day of a neighborhood barbecue. Moriarty provides the reader glimpses from each of the characters' perspectives on that day interspersed with story lines from the present and the past. The entire story of the barbecue incident is not completed until the final pages with two important perspectives... the elderly neighbor's & one of the children's. I enjoy the way Moriarty sparingly doles out pieces of the story while still keeping me invested in both the story & the characters. Once again, I left the novel wondering about the characters.... How will the girls remember the events of the barbecue...? Will the neighbors remain friends...? How will the couples move forward...?

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Romantic, Optimistic
NIne Women, One Dress

This tale takes readers on a jaunt around NYC in the "It" dress of the season. The dress appears in expected & not-so-expected places on a variety of women. Readers get to peek into their lives along the way. I thoroughly enjoyed this quick, witty read. It has just enough conflict, humor, & romance to keep you guessing and reading. I recommend this as a quick, fun read.

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

I listened to this entire book on Audio which was an advantage because Jacqueline Woodson's writing has a lyrical quality that translates well into spoken art. I was intrigued by the detailed descriptions of Brooklyn in the 1970's, and Woodson brought me into the story by adding snippets of pop music from the era. She also created characters that are universal and timeless with genuine emotions, joys, and heartaches. While some readers might get lost in the lyrical, poetic style, I was energized by the rhythm of the words and phrases. Although the story ended too quickly, the narrator,August, and her girls - Gigi, Sylvia, and Angela - will linger in my mind for quite a long time. I highly recommend this title, but be forewarned that there are some descriptions of sexual encounters.

Night Road: A Novel by Kristin Hannah
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Insightful, Interesting
Night Road

Kristin Hannah finely crafts her characters so that by the end of her books, you are still thinking about them and the consequences of their actions. I enjoyed the story of Lexi and the Farraday family, but some events were a bit predictable and others were a bit contrived. I still would recommend this title.

No One Knows by J.T. Ellison
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Dark, Brilliant
No One Knows

While I enjoyed the wild romp in this thriller, I do not feel that the author played fair with the reader. While trying to keep us interested, J.T. Ellison misleads us about characters and their true personalities. I have seen this compared to THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, but it is not as well written. I also feel that some of the graphic sexual descriptions were unnecessary for the character or plot development.

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Addictive, Dark
The Wonder

This my first book by Emma Donoghue. I was completely drawn in by her very delicate character development. The characters evolve so subtly that at times it took my breath away when a new development was uncovered. I highly recommend this title that questions so many things we all take for granted...

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Dramatic, Interesting
Small Great Things

This book made me squirm... but isn't that a good thing? This is my first time to read Picoult, and I was immediately drawn into her well-developed characters and beautiful writing. I found myself marking more individual passages than I have in the last few books that I have read. I highly recommend this book for anyone who needs some reflection on the way we view others. I look forward to a good discussion when our book club finishes this title.

The Silent Sister: A Novel by Diane Chamberlain
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Addictive
The Silent Sister

While I found this title predictable, perhaps others will not. I liked several of the minor characters, and parts of the story were interesting, but overall I was not thrilled with this novel. I found the writing and character development to be a bit flat and uninspired. On a positive note, the foreshadowing worked well.

Daughters of the Bride by Susan Mallery
 
Book Club Recommended
Graphic, Romantic, Fun
Daughters of the Bride

This was my first Susan Mallery read. I see why they are so popular. She gives readers characters that we can care about and they are put in situations that we can relate to in many ways. While I liked this character-driven novel, my one complaint is about the explicit sexual references. The story and characters could easily stand on their own; as a reader, I didn't need to hear/read the intimate details. Beyond that complaint, I really enjoyed the story about the relationships between the sisters and their mother. The romance, while being a bit predictable, was still fun to watch as it worked its way out.

The Last Original Wife: A Novel by Dorothea Benton Frank
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Interesting, Inspiring
The Last Original Wife

I expected a fluffy beach read, but what I got was a well-written family drama. The characters evolve, but the changes are realistic, not stereotypical. Because the chapters alternate between the 1st person narration of the husband & wife at the center of this story, it felt a bit predictable. As the tale progresses and the rather large portion of flashback is presented, the reader begins to see more developed characters with relatable emotions and responses. Beyond the characters, I loved the descriptions of Charleston, SC so much that I hope to take a short trip there in the fall! I highly recommend this title for female book clubs because there will be lots to discuss.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Orphan Train

While I knew about the orphan trains, I did not realize that they were run from the East Coast to the Midwest for 75 years! In this novel, Kline creates a realistic bond between an orphan from a 1929 Orphan Train with an orphan in the modern foster system. Both characters were well developed and relatable. I highly recommend this title to book clubs and individual readers.

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Adventurous, Interesting
One Perfect Lie

This was my first Lisa Scottoline novel; at first, I was discouraged by her long sections of narrative, but it pays off in the end because of her careful character development. After her meticulous development, she allows the reader to just set back and watch her intricate plot play out. I also enjoyed the narrator's connection with both the worlds of teaching and police work. I would not recommend this title to anyone who wants a quick read, but if you are looking for a satisfying story with a well thought out plot, pick this one up.

On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Romantic, Adventurous
On Turpentine Lane

I highly recommend this delightful romp! I flew through this book and found myself laughing out loud on multiple sections! Elinor Lipman gives us a hysterical, but realistic narrator who finds herself involved in a deadend relationship, in a new home with a dubious reputation, and in uncomfortable territory with her feuding parents. This would be a good title for book clubs who enjoy women's literature.

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Addictive
Before the Fall

Since Noah Hawley is an experienced screenwriter, it came as no surprise that this novel was very cinematic. I enjoyed this element; it was easy to "see" the action, characters, & settings in the story. What I didn't enjoy was the crass, vulgar dialogue, especially from many of the male characters. While I understood that it was used to build a character, I still think that it was exaggerated and gratuitous in spots. Otherwise, this thriller was entertaining, and the social commentary on the power of the media was very interesting.

Missing You by Harlan Coben
 
Interesting, Dramatic, Scary
Missing You

This was a well written suspense thriller. It was more thriller than mystery. I like the lead character, but I was not entertained by the brutish killers. They were so diabolical that it sickened me to read about their plan. While I didn't hate reading this book, I don't think I will read more of Coben's work... just not my genre anymore.

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Romantic, Adventurous
My Last Continent

I highly recommend this debut novel that takes readers into the little known world of research & tourism in Antarctica. The pacing of the novel is well done, and the character development is realistic. Some readers might struggle with the fluid timeline, but Raymond does an excellent job of labeling each switch to help guide the reader. While there are political statements about global warming and damages to natural areas from tourism, Raymond is not heavy-handed with these topics. They occur quite naturally as they woven through the fabric of the tale.

 
Book Club Recommended
Addictive, Dramatic, Interesting
The Couple Next Door

Wow! What a ride this one was for the reader! I enjoyed the character development and the quick moving plot.

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Insightful, Dramatic
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

This debut novel really kept me reading & guessing! The characters are quirky and believable as is the twisted plot. The fact that a bookstore is the major setting for the novel made it even more fun. I highly recommend this novel.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Adventurous
Caroline

Although I never read the original Little House on the Prairie series, I am familiar with the popular tv series loosely based upon them. None of this hindered my understanding or appreciation of this novel. I enjoyed the "voice" of Laura's famous mother, even though I felt that Sarah Miller did overlay a 21st century feminist flavor to many of her internal struggles. Overall, I would recommend this title.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Dramatic
The Last Days of Night

Interesting read - especially with the accuracy of the historic elements.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Killers of the Flower Moon

While I'm not a huge fan of nonfiction, there are just some pieces of history that need to be known. The systematic, cold-blooded extermination of the wealthy Osage Indians of Oklahoma in the 1920's is one of those pieces. Like the outrageous story of Henrietta Lacks {The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot}, this conspiracy needed to see the light of day! David Grann's meticulous research is evident in this narrative nonfiction retelling. I recommend this title and encourage you to read all the way to the end because Grann's final research leads to some compelling realities.

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Dramatic, Adventurous
Confessions of a Domestic Failure

While this novel began in an almost stand-up comedy style, the heart of the story goes much deeper. Bunmi Laditan draws attention, mostly through humor, to the glaring differences between the ideal mother and the reality of motherhood - especially in social media. I could relate to the idea that we make our lives more difficult than they need be purely by focusing on what others say they are achieving. I recommend this title to new parents {as if they have time to read novels :)} or parents of young children, but any mother could relate to the trials of Ashley.

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Slow, Dramatic
Manhattan Beach

I liked the multiple viewpoints in this novel. Familiar themes ran through the story... the depression, gangsters, WWII... but the story brought some unique viewpoints to these. Most enjoyable was the character of Anna Kerrigan, a strong female in the midst of strong males from the very beginning. I think that book clubs would enjoy the tale, but some readers will not appreciate the blending of the different viewpoints at times.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Romantic
The Stars are Fire

It was interesting to learn the history of the devastating wildfires in Maine in the late 1940's, but the I struggled with the characters in this novel. The relationship, while believable for the time period, just made me angry. I wanted to grab Gene out of the book and slap him silly!

 
Book Club Recommended
Difficult, Insightful, Confusing
Hello Sunshine

While I enjoyed the read, I enjoyed the characters and plot development more in her previous novel Eight Hundred Grapes. There were several points in this novel where I stopped reading and thought, "How did we get here?"

Seven Days of Us: A Novel by Francesca Hornak
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Fun, Interesting
Seven Days of Us

This book goes way beyond its premise of forcing a family into a weeklong quarantine with little connection to the outside world. It develops a completely foreign family dynamic for the parents, two grown daughters, a fiance, and a new, unknown family member. I thoroughly enjoyed unwrapping the story with some well written dramatic irony (I knew things that the characters did not). I look forward to Francesca Hornak's next foray into fictional writing.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Interesting
Hillbilly Elegy

I am not a huge fan of nonfiction or memoir, but this one really kept my interest. This was partly because I was raised and have lived most of my 50+ years just slightly north of the area in which J.D. Vance was raised. I have a love for many of the same "hillybillies" that he focuses upon for this memoir. Mostly I enjoyed this piece because Vance is an eloquent writer (with the exception of the rampant profanity). He lays out a very clear argument for understanding the colorful peoples of Appalachia, and in his final analysis, he shares some insights that might garner them the respect and assistance that they need. I applaud Vance for his bravery, raw emotion, understanding, and honesty. I highly recommend this read for ALL Americans and those who would try to understand us more.

The Identicals: A Novel by Elin Hilderbrand
 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Interesting, Optimistic
The Identicals

Once again Elin Hilderbrand visits Martha's Vineyard & Nantucket for this title. She paints both islands with her lyrical descriptions and fills them with interesting characters tangled in past relationships, old wounds, and new romances. The focus are adult twins who are divided by past mistakes and current missteps. A daughter and niece finds herself trying to grow up and understand her place amongst this fractured family. I found this read enjoyable as much for the settings as the characters and plot.

 
Book Club Recommended
Optimistic, Romantic, Fun
Now That You Mention It

This was a very satisfying read with well-developed characters and a realistic plot. I enjoyed watching the growth of Nora as she overcame her fears, and I especially liked her sense of humor. I look forward to reading more titles by Kristan Higgins.

A Gentleman in Moscow by AMOR TOWLES
 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Brilliant, Insightful
A Gentleman in Moscow

This was a fabulous read, but some basic knowledge about Russian history is needed to appreciate Count Rostov's years of house arrest in the majestic Metropol, the grand hotel located across from the Kremlin. Amor Towles crafts an intricate tale with characters that endear themselves to a reader. By the end of the novel, I wanted to share dinner with Rostov at the Boyarsky, meet the one-eyed cat, and explore the hotel with Nina. I highly recommend this tale, but be prepared to take your time getting into the story. Don't give up!

 
Book Club Recommended
Optimistic, Inspiring, Adventurous
Amazing Journey

I thoroughly enjoyed reading & listening to this book. Scott Kelly shares his yearlong visit to the International Space Station interspersed with the story of his life. I highly recommend the audio version because Kelly himself reads it. If you are short on time, you can skip around in the print version, but be sure to read the Epilogue.

Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica
 
Book Club Recommended
Addictive, Dramatic, Scary
Suspenseful Read

An excellent mystery/thriller! This was my first Mary Kubica novel, but it probably will not be my last. The character development and dual narration add just enough errieness to this woven tale, and Kubica leaves readers subtle clues throughout to lead us to a satisfying ending.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Persuasive
Highly Recommended

Another fantastic piece of historic fiction by Jamie Ford! He draws readers in with realistic characters and intriguing plots based upon nuggets of real history. I am always entertained by his storytelling, and I always learn something new. I highly recommend this title!

 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Optimistic, Inspiring
The Noel Stranger

Excellent romance about trust and new beginnings. Highly recommended for any time of the year, not just the holidays.

The One by JOHN MARRS
 
Book Club Recommended
Graphic, Dramatic, Informative
The One

Wow! What seems like a simple concept- matching your DNA to find your perfect soul mate- sure goes awry! Highly recommend this inventive novel, but be aware that some violent elements might be offensive.

Elevation by Stephen King
 
Book Club Recommended
Slow, Boring, Confusing
Elevation

This short novel doesn't have the trademark King violence or eeriness, but it does have a healthy dose of magical realism. The main character is dealing with a strange weight loss issue while his neighbors are dealing with a nasty case of discrimination. The two stories intertwine to provide a satisfying conclusion. I was intrigued by the reviews, and I was happy to see the level of storytelling King accomplishes in under 150 pages. I highly recommend this title - not because I agree with everything it presents, but because it forces the reader to question their own biases. It would be a great title for book clubs because of its compact nature and because of the issues it brings to light.

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Adventurous, Optimistic
The Bookshop of Yesterdays

This is well-written debut novel. I enjoyed the unfolding story of the origins of Prospero Books. While some elements were predictable, it was still engaging to watch things develop. It was nice to read a book with a likable narrator. I recommend this title for both individual reading and book clubs.

Beartown: A Novel by Fredrik Backman
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Insightful, Addictive
Bear Town

Fredrik Backman weaves a wonderful, yet painful, story about a town that is defined by its main sport - hockey. The quality of the writing, character development, and plot structure is evident because although hockey is at the center of the tale, anyone can relate. It is the culture of winning at all costs that is truly at the core of this conflict... so change the hockey to show choir, 4-H, baseball, rodeo, etc. and the story remains the same. How far will a town go to protect what is most important to them, and in the end the question is the same... what is really important to us? I loved this story; the only reason it is a 4 instead of a 5 is the language and vulgarity of the real and proverbial "locker room." While I understand the necessity for gritty realism in the story, I still was continually stung by sections of dialogue. Because of this, I would be wary of putting this book into the hands of teens, even though the content is so timely for young adults and teens.

Before and Again: A Novel by Barbara Delinsky
 
Book Club Recommended
Optimistic, Inspiring, Insightful
Before and Again

This is an interesting tale of the redemptive powers of love and forgiveness. I think book clubs will find lots to discuss.

 
Book Club Recommended
Optimistic, Inspiring, Beautiful
Harry's Trees

The world Jon Cohen creates in Harry's Trees is one of love, loss, magic, redemption, and hope. I highly recommend this title for readers who still want to believe in the power of magic, hope, and love.

The Essay: A Novel by Robin Yocum
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Inspiring, Optimistic
The Essay

Excellent coming-of-age story about a young man growing up in one of the poorest areas of Ohio in the early 1970's. Yocum creates well developed characters that the reader cares about. I highly recommend this title and can't wait to read the rest of Yocum's titles.

A Place for Us: A Novel by Fatima Farheen Mirza
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
A Place for Us

While I learned a great deal about Indian culture by reading this family narrative, I can't say that I enjoyed the story. The characters weren't as developed as I would have liked, and the structure of the story was extremely confusing. Each of the five family members told parts of the story from their perspective. I normally enjoy this structure, but the narrator changes were abrupt and without logical connections so it was easy to get lost in the narrative.

 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Fun, Beautiful
Happy, Romantic Read

I highly recommend this novel. I was engaged with the characters and the story immediately and wanted to discover what would happen to both Peggy's property and her dog, Freckles. The family dynamics are interesting without being weird or outlandish, and the romance is realistic and heartwarming. It made me want to visit the Miss Guthrie Diner and the town that supports it.

CIRCE by Madeline Miller
 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Epic, Interesting
Circe

Amazing dramatization of the life of the goddess Circe, daughter of Helios and Perce. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey through the lives and adventures of Greek gods & goddesses, Titans, and Olympians. I cannot recommend this novel to everyone, but for readers with some knowledge of Greek mythology, I highly recommend it. I promise that you will not need to reference your copy of Bullfinch's Mythology because Miller has a way of weaving the characters into a very readable tale.

The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas
 
Book Club Recommended
Optimistic, Romantic, Inspiring
The Sound of Rain

I highly recommend this delightful historic fiction tale set in the coal mines of West Virginia, the hills of Kentucky, & the shores of Myrtle Beach. Author, Sarah Loudin Thomas creates characters that the reader can both relate to and cheer for through the story. I look forward to reading more of her books.

Our Souls at Night (Vintage Contemporaries) by Kent Haruf, Alan Kent Haruf
 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Insightful, Inspiring
Our Souls at Night

Kent Haruf makes the reader ponder if we are ever really too old for romance. This simply-told story made me look at late-in-life relationships in a whole new way. I highly recommend this title for those who appreciate a quiet love story.

The River: A novel by Peter Heller
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Adventurous, Insightful
The River

Amazing read! This novel appeals to all types of readers because of it is both character and setting driven. It begins as a buddy tale of two college friends canoeing in Canada, but it quickly turns into a thriller and mystery. Throughout the tale nature itself becomes not just a setting but a character as well. I highly recommend this novel.

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Insightful, Informative
The Widows

This historic fiction set in southeastern Ohio is well written with characters that a reader can care about. Montgomery does an excellent job of weaving the historic elements into a believable tale of love, loss, and redemption. I especially enjoyed the glimpse into the early years of coal miners fighting for the right to unionize. The strong female characters were also a strong element in this tale. I highly recommend this title and can't wait to read the next installment in the Kinship series.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Interesting
Inheritance

While the telling of Dani Shapiro's story lagged in spots, I enjoyed it. I learned a great deal about the Jewish culture, artificial insemination practices of the 60's, & the life journeys of children conceived through sperm donors. If you're interested in reading this title, I highly recommend the audiobook because it is read by the author.

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Informative, Inspiring
The Giver of Stars

Another fabulous book by Jojo Moyes, but it is so very different than her others. This title centers on the courageous Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky. Moyes brings us a story rich in the trials of women in general in the late 1930's, but she embeds the tale into the program created by the WPA during the Great Depression. I highly recommend this title.

Dear Edward: A Novel by Ann Napolitano
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Inspiring, Adventurous
Dear Edward

This amazing tale uses the premise of a plane crash to look at the dynamics of families, friendships, and grief. I highly recommend this book. Ann Napolitano has created characters that will last in my memory long after my reading ends. This would be a good title for book clubs.

I'm Not Dying with You Tonight by Gilly Segal, Kimberly Jones
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Dramatic
I'm Not Dying With You Tonight

I highly recommend this timely title.
The audio version of this title was fabulous because the story is told in two distinct viewpoints, & the two actresses bring these voices alive as the girls live through one chaotic night of confusion, violence, and realization.

The Guardians: A Novel by John Grisham
 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Informative, Insightful
The Guardians

I enjoy reading most all of Grisham's titles, but this is one of my all-time favorites! Readers are introduced to the amazing work that innocence lawyers are doing across the country. The main character, Cullen Post, introduces readers to the painstaking work that investigators and lawyers must do to get innocent men and women out of prisons. I highly recommend this title.

Remembrance by Woods Rita
 
Book Club Recommended
Epic, Insightful, Beautiful
Remembrance

This debut novel from Rita Woods is amazing; I highly recommend it! She creates characters that come to life as their stories unwind and are aptly woven together. The voices of these women of color from different countries, regions, and circumstances pull the reader into the story that wanders between present day Ohio, Pre-Civil War New Orleans, and Colonial Haiti of the late 1700's. I went between the print version and the audiobook. I enjoyed the audiobook read by the talented Ella Turenne and highly recommend this version.

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