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Username/Login : LSakay
Gender : Female
Occupation : School counselor/social worker

My Reviews

 
Interesting, Confusing, Difficult
Unimpactful

Was a bizarre read with too many twists and turns that seemed unnecessary and created distractions. Those who truly enjoy Shakespeare or Greek mythology may enjoy this read. I liked the idea of the two perspectives but felt it was lost on all the other mumbo jumbo.

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun
Christmas fun

Easy read that led to a fun discussion about how close- knit neighbors interact and provide support to one another. Tindledale was painted as a picture perfect town...not very believable, but definitely desirable.

 
Confusing, Unconvincing, Poorly Written
Really?

Entire premise was base on one person's "story" and, even at that, sounded implausible. The writing was choppy, so I ended up skimming through most of the book. I expected something completely different. I borrowed the children's book mentioned and found it to be much more informational and entertaining.

Dogs of India by Polly McGee
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Addictive, Confusing
No Focus

This author starts off with an interesting, although somewhat odd approach, and just seems to them in a hodgepodge of events and situations that just leaving the reader saying, "what?" Dogs of India had the potential to solidly address one or two primary social issues evident in India. Unfortunately McGee just pounced on every single opportunity to throw in an additional concern and it succeeded in muddling it all. I thinks fellow club member documented 15 social issues targeted in this short book.....from transgender to animal cruelty to misogyny....wow! It was just too much. Despite all of these twist, turns and fails I do feel, however, Dogs of India would make for a great book discussion. We enjoyed ourselves; who knew rabies leads to prolonged erections. Lol

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dramatic, Insightful
What if

This book, and it's varying perspectives, offer a lot of "what if this", "what if that" types of questions. As shocking as Lucy's kidnapping seems, the harsh reality that similar circumstances have probably occurred in reality rings true to the reader.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Interesting
interesting

This book gave us a bird's eye view into the challenges a parent faces when one of their children is a drug addict. Sheff was revealing and genuine throughout, allowing the reader to see his insecurities, frustrations, and perceived failures. Any parent would struggle reading this, yet connect with his story.

Invincible Summer by Alice Adams
 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Beautiful, Fun
Friendship

This book follows the lives of four friends from their college years into adulthood. I found some of the events somewhat unlikely but was entertained. Invincible summer did conjure a discussion about friendship, social status, choices, etc... so it did make for a good book club read.

 
Insightful, Unconvincing, Interesting
Fooled

The premise of this book is promising (I love books that talk about books), but it falls short of expectations. It seemed too juvenile and blasé. It seems as if Hood chose the books she wanted to highlight and then tried to write a story around them. There's a lot of build up to the climax and then it's wrapped up quickly, tightly, and predictably. The characters are flat and their relationships seem unbelievable and contrived. The title is so interesting and creates intrigue...except "The Book" is a fictional one and definitely not to par with the other book club selections mentioned. Despite the above, I found it a quick read and didn't completely hate it. I was just left feeling deceived; not the deep, meaningful book I anticipated.

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

I loved this book. It's witty, funny, and real. I "listened" to it and found the narrator captivating as she moved from accent to accent and bounced back and forth between the day of the barbecue and after the barbecue. Although the story is quite lengthy, it didn't drag for me - even though Moriarty sloooooowly builds towards the details of the "incident" that frames the story. She also does a good job in misleading the reader to believe the "incident" could be a myriad of events. There were several characters and Moriarty did a good job in fleshing them out. In fact, I particularly liked how they were real...not one was perfect. They all had blatant weaknesses, strengths, and undesirable histories and characteristics, which only contributed to the complexity of their relationships and perceptions of one another. Once the "incident" was reached the book continued to draw the reader in with a few more twists and turns along the way.
I have read other books by this author in the past. This is, by far, my favorite.

 
Unconvincing, Poorly Written, Pointless
Dull

The Sister was not even close to being a "psychological thriller." It was quite a disappointment after reading all the celebratory reviews. I was never in suspense reading this story and rather felt like I was watching one of those cheesy, Lifetime movies. our club discussion lasted about 15 minutes....everyone agreed that it was a horrible read, with flat characters, and a poor "scary" October choice.

 
Fun, Adventurous, Interesting
Wangs vs the World

I had high expectations for this read. I felt like it was all over the place; a family's individual experiences after a huge financial loss, told in disarray. The characters were bland and appeared so contrived. It also seemed like a lost opportunity to intertwine more elements of Chinese culture and how it formed a basis for the decisions made and family structure. The Wangs v the World was more like a world of their own, with only brief mentions of National financial bust and other social influences. I found myself thinking how much better this story could be more than just being able to sit back and enjoy the read.

 
Informative, Slow, Boring
Disappointed

I had high hope for this read with the movie release and all the positive buzz. Unfortunately, I think this is an unusual situation in which the movie is definitely better than the book. This read was slow and droned on and on. I was only able to trudge halfway through and gave up. It was scattered and dull, but I did get the point - that black women were essential to the space program and that the race for space most definitely influenced integrations and the Civil Rights movement. Hoping to watch the movie and enjoy the information.

 
Confusing, Poorly Written, Interesting
it was just alright

This book was very simply written. There were some interesting curves and some good discussion points, but it seemed that Pisel purposely began to wrap everything up too neatly and did a poor job of fleshing out the characters fully.

A Man Called Ove: A Novel by Fredrik Backman
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Insightful, Beautiful
different

A Man Called Ove reaches a very wide audience because it is so different. It is funny, witty while equally touching and sends a powerful message of love and community. Backman is so skilled in connecting with the reader. This book brought several discussions to light about our personal relationships with the elderly in our life and how we may turn out to be "curmudgeons" as well.

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Fun, Optimistic
Fun, Easy read

What can I say? I just love Backman. He has become one of my favorite authors. I was introduced to the "unlikable" character of Britt-Marie in Backman's My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry. Backman has taken her debut role and fleshed her out to an endearing, caring, humorous character in this book. He also, as he's done in his other books, highlights lessons of love and life by carrying us through the shallow and imperfect aspects of people and emphasizing what truly does matter. I listened to this read... laughing, gasping, and smiling throughout.

Are You Sleeping: A Novel by Kathleen Barber
 
Addictive, Unconvincing, Slow
Not Scary at all

Disappointed. I want to feel suspense when I read a book categorized as suspense. Barber did not do that for me. Although it did flow easily and I was able to read it in no time, I felt no shock, no fear, no confusion. It was just a nice little story with a predictable ending. I did enjoy the inclusion of the twitter posts very much and liked how it framed the events and highlighted doubts of the questioned murder conviction. Are you Sleeping also alerted me to the world of podcasts (I've never heard one) and I do now want to listen to Serial, the one that seems to have created the idea for this book.

The Silent Wife: A Novel by A. S. A. Harrison
 
Book Club Recommended
Dark, Interesting, Dramatic
Different

Jodi and Todd are at a bad place in their marriage. Much is at stake, including the affluent life they lead in their beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, as she, the killer, and he, the victim, rush haplessly toward the main event. He is a committed cheater. She lives and breathes denial. He exists in dual worlds. She likes to settle scores. He decides to play for keeps. She has nothing left to lose. Told in alternating voices, The Silent Wife is about a marriage in the throes of dissolution, a couple headed for catastrophe, concessions that can’t be made, and promises that won’t be kept. Expertly plotted and reminiscent of Gone Girl and These Things Hidden, The Silent Wife ensnares the reader from page one and does not let go.

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Fun, Addictive
Fun read

I like that I didn't have to have read the earlier books in the series to follow along. I struggled with following along with all the characters and Norwegian names only to realize later that there is a guide to the characters in the story available online :). Even though, I knew early along who the murderer/Snowman was I particularly enjoyed the added suspense Nesbo included throughout the book. It wasn't just about whodunnit, it was about understanding why and how these murders took place and why exactly other characters were so entangled in this web that they were mistakenly deemed by the police to be "the Snowman." These factors are what made the book interesting for me. I wasn't so enticed however to start reading another book in the series and didn't find Nesbo's writing so amazing either. I will see the recently release movie; love seeing how books to movies are interpreted. It was a good, entertaining read with an interesting storyline and some suspense along the way.

 
Book Club Recommended
Optimistic, Fun, Interesting
Good Christmas Pick

This was a sweet, enjoyable read demonstrating the connection that grows among strangers through their love for books and described how one individual can lovingly impact the lives of so many (my favorite theme). Julius' life is honored by the repeated love, appreciation, and admiration Emilia repeatedly hears about her father from people from every walk of life in Peasbrook. He touched so many lives throughout his lifetime without purposely intending to do so, something I try to be mindful of everyday, via simple actions of kindness and empathy. Julius' heart was clearly also in Nightingale Bookshop and that became evident by how this innocuous small business also contributed to healing wounds, providing an escape, and fulfilling it's customers. Henry did include a bit too many characters. There were moments in which my brain became muddled with all the names and storylines. I liked the saga between Alice and Dillon the most and felt that became the highlight of the story - yet neither of them ever entered the bookshop? Their connection to Julius was "once removed." Overall, How to Find Love in a Bookshop highlighted the positive aspects of humanity and the innocence and purity of loving books and living accordingly. It was the perfect Holiday read.

 
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
quick read

This was between a 3 and a 4 star read for me. I found it an easy read for non-fiction and not too complicated to follow along. Dennehy's writing flowed well and I quickly was able to get into the story, identify with his ongoing struggles, and understand his perspective. The quote I liked the most was his definition of Nationalism..." Patriotism is pride in one's nation., I told Peter, but nationalism is the belief that your nation is better than the others and can play by different rules." I was impressed how at such a young age (early twenties), Dennehy was so emblazoned with politics. The risks he continually took left me dumbfounded and, often times, I did think he was just "dumb." Although I couldn't personally identify with his experiences, I have several family members and friends who are from Cuba and Latin America; those who have witnessed similar political struggles and daily trials as John describes he did in Ecuador. As an American, I can relate to some of Dennehy's National political thoughts and views but choose not to be so passionate about them and focus my energy on other, small changes I can employ within my community. However, it has always been clear to me that Americans are born with more privileges than those born in other countries such as Ecuador, Cuba, Syria, etc... One of those very distinct privileges is our ability to enter other Countries and/or immigrate to them. Dennehy does a good job of presenting a chronological story that describes a world foreign to most Americans and additionally intertwines a more personal journey of self-growth and awareness.
A "Thank You" to John Dennehy and to Book Movement for providing several copies of Illegal for my book club to read and discuss. I am looking forward to this discussion and the various topics it will touch.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
interesting topic

This was an interesting read, alternated with what others have termed a "Lifetime" movie, and I agree. I enjoy reading books with alternating chapters, narrators, and time periods, adding a different depth and experience to the story. Unfortunately, I felt Wingate's two narrators were worlds apart in other than time period. If the book would have just been about Rill and her siblings' unfortunate journey and abduction by the Tennessee Children's Home Society I would have gobbled it up. The decision to include Avery's modern day perspective and detective work greatly lessened the impact of this book for me. As always, I do appreciate the knowledge I gain from historical fiction and will be definitely researching and exploring more about the horrors Georgia Tann did in the guise of a philanthropist and founder of the Tennessee Children's Home Society.

 
Book Club Recommended
Addictive, Dramatic, Interesting
Thrilling

I liked the intrigue. I liked the suspense. I liked the bit of a different storyline. I also liked the way Finn formed Anna's unreliability as the different events unfolded, even though I was able to identify her ongoing delusion prior to it being revealed (which btw, NO therapist can ever disclose such personal information to anyone, even a police officer - ummmm... FERPA!). It was interesting and warped, especially with Anna being a psychologist and ironically suffering from trauma and symptoms she used to (and still attempted to) treat. These aspects definitely drew me in deeper to this thriller and tale. I didn't see the end coming in quite so much detail and it did seem a bit contrived in order to create necessary shock value for the reader, and all the build up throughout the book was a bit too quickly wrapped up in the last few remaining chapters. A few negatives, but overall a good thriller with lots of suspense.

 
Book Club Recommended
Scary, Interesting, Dramatic
quick, interesting read

I was hooked from the start. This had good bones and a lot of forensic detail that made it even creepier. I liked how Ritchie included chapters from the murderer's perspective with some slivers of his past. It was also a smooth read, with not too many twists and turns to wear you out. I did feel however that near the end, the climax was rushed and messy - like no one thought to check out all the personnel in the Hospital from the beginning? Really? A good, weekend thriller.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Insightful, Dramatic
Different

I enjoyed this book the more I kept reading. Although I appreciated the way the parts were divided, from the perspective of each Gold sibling, I felt the overall flow of the story was a bit choppy and stalled at times. As Benjamin delivered the siblings' experiences, challenges, and downfalls there also were moments in which random situations or events were unnecessarily introduced, again throwing off the flow of the read ("What's the significance of including that?"). The concept of knowing the date of your death is definitely explored and ironically enough the one who died the youngest seemed to accept this foretold fate the best. I did like how Benjamin tied Gertie's perspective in at the end. This further questioned the ease with which the Gold children accepted Bruna's "dates" as truth; wonder if they would've shared this experience with their mother years earlier if the distress endured could have been avoided. Then again, did the basic knowledge of a predetermined date lead to its reality? Is it a curse or a blessing to know your “day”? Death is never an easy topic to discuss and this plot was definitely unique, triggering continued discourse and soul searching within the reader long after putting the book down.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Dark, Addictive
best Ruth Ware yet

I have read all the other Ruth Ware books and this is my favorite, by far. The story was unique and had many twists and turns I didn't see coming until they were right up on me. The narration of the audiobook was excellent - probably one of the best I've "heard" as well. The only criticism I will give it was its failure in clearly denoting moments (chapters) from the past; I became very confused at some point and had to rewind a few times to finally understand that this was Hal's mom's past recollections...not current events. Regardless of this temporary confusion, I truly appreciated Ware's skill as a writer as well as her inventiveness and ingenuity in developing a unique plot and expertly leading the reader through the journey. I fell in love with many of the characters (Harding, omg Harding!) and had my hairs stand on end envisioning others. Although the Death of Mrs. Westaway contains murder, what mystery doesn't, it's actually not the premise of the story - at least not immediately. Ware's injection of Tarot cards into the storyline also added a different, curious flair to the building events and realizations. I savored every moment of the deceit, suspicion, and creepy family dynamics.

 
Book Club Recommended
Boring, Interesting, Adventurous
Middle age coming of age

I enjoyed this fictional memoir of Arthur Less, struggling with aging and all the insights and regrets that may bring. I laughed to myself along the way as I defined this book as a "coming out of age" story - so opposite to many coming of age, YA books, I've read. :) I also likened it to Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (although fictional, of course) as Less travels the world to escape a painful event, overthinking small conversations, absorbed with his upcoming birthday and lost love, and struggling to identify someone who truly understands his plight. Greer's inventive use of Less' loved blue suit existing in a parallel world is great. The suit offers the imagery of him holding onto his youth. It's worn, aged, and tattered, eventually becoming obliterated by feral dogs (the viciousness of this was not lost on me)- with no hope of continuing to exist the way it was. The chapter headings and pun of the protagonist's name did not escape me either (I loved that). Although, I cannot identify with a gay, somewhat wealthy, middle-aged man I was able to connect with some of the themes of aging and fear of moving forward; we think we have it all figured out and then we suddenly realize that maybe we don't and begin a journey of "self-reassessment." Less contained a lot More thought provoking content than I expected.

One of my favorite quotes: "Strange to be almost fifty, no? I feel like I just understood how to be young. Yes! It's like the last day in a foreign country. You finally figure out where to get coffee, and drinks, and a good steak. And then you have to leave. And you won't ever be back."

 
Beautiful, Interesting, Addictive
Why do so many love this book?

I gave this a 3 because it wasn't boring but I had similar hangups that other critics have mentioned. It was quite unbelievable that Kya was truly able to raise herself and survive on her own...and yet be so civilized, and remain physically healthy, once her father left. I also felt there was a huge discrepancy in her character development. Owens portrayed her as very simple, basic, and rough around the edges girl yet she wrote poetry, was able to conceive a very intricate and deceitful plan, and stay focused on writing books about her knowledge of the marsh; so contrary to the picture of a wild child with poor social skills and no clue of how to manage the outside world and it's rules. However, I think what bothered me the most about this book is that it is advertised as a Historical Fiction novel....what? Owens may have shared some knowledge of the Outer Banks of North Carolina but that's it. There is no historical content in this book - a very big bummer for me. It's just a story about the adversities a young girl faces and pummels through while living, isolated on the marsh. Somewhat interesting but definitely NOT a work of Historical Fiction. I did like Kya's gumption and the piece describing the trial. The big reveal at the end was just another layer of "paquete" laid onto this story, and actually I wasn't too surprised at that point. I would have even expected an additional chapter written stating how Kya ran in record, superpower speed to and from Greenville how she became a Nobel Prize Winner with her scientific field investigation. At some point, nothing short of ridiculous seemed possible. After writing this review, and pondering my thoughts on the book further, it's really more like a 2. I liked less about it than I liked and am mostly disappointed because of the rave reviews it's received. After reading this highly recommended book, I feel abandoned, misled, and cheated...much like Kya has most of her life.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Dramatic
not what I expected

I appreciate the research Jodi Picoult puts into her books. Part of what grabs me from her novels is the detailed, accurate information she imparts as she doles out her plot and story. Although, I am sure she did the same for this novel, it was buried by all the facts and details she learned and shared about elephants' behavior. The extensive amount of animal science included was unnecessary. It quickly became droll and contributed to the slow, slow moving recounting of young Jenna's efforts as she searched for her mother. I liked hearing Alice's perspective, as it answered suspicions of her decisions, actions, and thoughts prior to her disappearance but, again, the incessant sharing of her journaling of elephant research and observation was overkill. The narrator playing Alice in the audiobook was also a bit monotone too which only served to further bore me.
The book finally did pick up speed 3/4 of the way through the book. I kept trudging to get to this point because I did want to know what happened; it had good "bones". Picoult's reverse Sixth Sense surprised me and I did love that; definitely an unexpected ending. Unfortunately, the
excessive elephant banter prevalent through the majority of the book distracted from the intriguing plot and made it a 3 star read for me.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Interesting
wow

This was so engrossing. So dismal. So revealing. So defeating. I couldn't put it down. The way Zgehib wove the chapters together lightened the information presented along the pages as she chronicled Anna, and other women's, battle with an eating disorder. The Girls at 17 Swann Street shared the inner turmoil, mental health challenges, and daily struggles of women who need to eat to survive, but are paralyzed to do what seems to most like such a normal, mundane, and mindless task. The focus on Anna and her anorexia gave a glimpse of the details of her journey and, along with the other residents' back stories and incidents, allowed the reader to better understand the varying complications, depths, and uncertainties involved in treating eating disorders. It is not simple and not easily overcome. I am very grateful to have received this ARC from St. Martin's Press and am looking forward to participating in a BookMovement group discussion later this month.

 
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Would've rather read an article

Sweet:
* awareness of the existence of anti nmda receptor encephalitis and how its symptoms mirror those of severe psychiatric mental illnesses
* Cahalan's win over this debilitating, little known disease that effected her so, so significantly
* Her boyfriend Steven and his dedication and patience
* Dr. Najjar seems like an amazing doctor and human being (I was left wanting to learn more about him and his life)

Sour:
* Way too much detail and what seemed like fillers. This is my biggest complaint. Once her point was made, the story went on and on and on; I just wanted it to be over.
* Her writing seemed stunted and was just "matter of fact" with no real connection with Cahalan's emotions; I realize this could only be reflected upon following her recovery, due to her memory loss, but it wasn't even present in her recollection of post-recovery experiences.
* A particular lack of humility, or maybe it was self-awareness, towards the end, indicating that Cahalan was all better and fully recovered - seemed a bit unbelievable and would have liked to know about any ongoing motor/neurological challenges that may have lingered.
* Dismissing the benefits of therapy and mental health services as a part of recovery

I feel for Cahalan's illness and did feel empathy for her as she documented this horrendous experience. As I mentioned above, the best thing that has come out of this read is my new knowledge about this autoimmune disease and how it's symptoms mimic major mental illness, but I would have preferred to either have read a much shorter article about it or have someone who read Brain on Fire tell me what they learned. It was interesting for about 30 minutes and then it quickly became a chore.

An Anonymous Girl: A Novel by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen
 
Addictive, Dramatic, Interesting
Disappointed

Ho hum. I had to push through this one, because it was a book club selection. If it wasn't I would have likely DNF'd it. The premise created a thriller scenario and I did feel invested in reading how Jessica was going to manage the walls closing in on her and/or what Dr. Shields would try next. However, this was a short-lived interest. The story dragged on and on, with expected (yet not too shocking) intrusions and traps. The writing was dry and void of emotion. Even the creepiness factor of Dr. Shield's "voice" in those chapters just didn't seem right. Although I didn't love The Wife Between Us either, I fear I enjoyed this one even less

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Dramatic
New world

This is an amazing story about friendship, betrayal, trauma, resilience, and human self-preservation. Lisa See's reach into a relationship, spanning across war-torn generations, was touching and unremarkable. It is evident that See spent a lot of time and effort in researching the history of the haenyeo and of South Korea/Jeju Island, but I think where the book fell a bit short for me was in her intertwining of the fact and fiction. These sections seemed to be compartmentalized; either I was completely drawn into the story between Young-Sook and Mi-ja or I was bored to tears reciting war facts and events. It felt as there was very little "build up" to major catastrophes and more drawn out breaks between them. How could I enjoy and appreciate this storyline and connect with these characters so much yet equally have to barrel through monotony? (and there were times I did consider not finishing...but I am so glad I did). I so did love the story though. It harps on themes so relevant to relationships enduring generations, family, cultural binds, traumatic events, and national growth and despair. The hearts and souls of these Sea Women will stick with me far beyond the struggle I experienced in some mundane parts of the book.

 
Boring, Slow, Difficult
Unexpected Disappointment

Okay. This was not a book I could sit and read through. I skimmed, and then skimmed some more. I didn't DNF it, but I didn't really read every chapter either. The writing is very quirky and a bit hard to follow along. She writes about something and then jumps to something else without warning. There's no steady flow. She intermittently reflects on attempting to care for her ailing parents and often mentions her past writing accomplishments but doesn't connect those experiences to their value in "starting over" in art school. Nell Painter seems to be an accomplished historian and academic writer. I can definitely see the challenge of the left brain meeting the right brain when she decides to attend art school but don't feel her journey was expressed well in this book. Painter presented more as a privileged individual (which is interesting considering how often she recognized her challenges as a minority woman) who decides she wants to go back to school, in the middle of a prosperous career as an accomplished professor and writer, and is annoyed that it doesn't come easily. Her struggles are minimal and, honestly, expected for an academia moving into the creative, art world. I had a really hard time following her train of thought, as expressed in her writing but do feel I was able to get enough of a gist of the book by reading a sporadic chapter here and there.

Me for You by Lolly Winston
 
Gloomy, Romantic, Fun
eh

I tried, I really tried. This is the second time I picked up this book to complete it in the past few months. It was work, not fun, to read. The writing is sluggish and dull. It has the potential for a really endearing storyline, as it starts with a widower who's working through his grief and re-discovering himself, but the rambling...I just couldn't continue. Ugh! I pushed about halfway through then skipped to the last few chapters to verify my suspicions for the oh so, picture perfect ending. So officially a DNF for me. Good Bones, horrible follow through.

The Daughter's Tale: A Novel by Armando Lucas Correa
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Dramatic
Wow.

Excellent. This follow up story to Correa's German Girl was amazing. The story of the Sternberg sisters is heartfelt, torturous, and captivating. The theme of "Monsters" and "Angels" always being within arms-distance struck me as Lina grew amidst ongoing fear, destruction, and despair, with momentary glimpses of hope and contentment. I won't be able to read another WWII fiction book for a while as the clarity and destruction to all those effected has resonated so deeply within me. I need a breather.

The German Girl: A Novel by Armando Lucas Correa
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Dramatic
New information

I liked the way this story connected WWII and the holocaust to the subsequent fall of Cuba, many years later. I'd always viewed them as separate occurrences and hadn't realize that there were families who fled Germany to only then to additionally undergo Castro's revolution and takeover a few years later - and how both events resonated with similar Nazi and "cleansing" themes (your heart just sinks into your stomach). One's classification of who is "pure and impure" is subjective and these impositions, by influential people, have repeatedly resulted in hatred and death our fellow brothers and sisters. Correa also expertly teaches the reader about the little known fate of the passengers on the St. Louis and sadly reveals the rejection they encountered, not only from Cuba, but from other countries as well, including the United States; the Germans were not the only ones at fault for ostracizing and killing Jews. The beginning of this story did confuse me a bit as it jumped right into alternating perspectives and time periods, with also past and present views. I had to reread the first few chapters a few times to get my bearings. The writing was very straightforward, so easy to read, but also then seemed to lack some emphasis or "punch" as it described the very harrowing events Hannah and her family endured. A good, historical read.

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Insightful, Informative
Great story

This was an amazing story of the strength and struggle of women; their culture, their history, their skewed expectations of self. A Woman is No Man speaks specifically to the strife of Palestinian woman but can easily be adapted to similar challenges encountered by other ethnicities as well. Deya's story of moving to the United States expecting change and "freedom", details the strong, cultural bind that extends the reach of locale and continue to burden and suppress countless amounts of women today. Violence, isolation, and fear are all clearly aspects of domestic violence but often cleverly veiled as orthodox, religious/cultural tenets in many homes. Rum gives us a personalized view into Deya's strife and ambivalence, Isra's despair and wary hope, Sarah's introspection, and Fareeda's placidity and resignation. She also manages to highlight the lesser, but still challenging, burdens religious/familial/cultural expectations place on men's lives as well. It was so good. I was on vacation and eagerly awaited returning to the hotel each night for the opportunity to continue reading and learning more about "What she gonna do?" even though I struggled emotionally as I read more about the eternal, daily imprisonment these women just happened to be born into...simply because they were female. Talk about rooting for the underdog, with a very heavy, underlying and pertinent theme.

The Farm: A Novel by Joanne Ramos
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dramatic, Confusing
Different topic

Hmmm. I liked this tale of how surrogacy gets "farmed" out and becomes a corporate endeavor - really seems so likely as we move forward generationally. I sensed Mae's ambivalence at times throughout the story as a corporate leader in this organization yet her actions at the end of the story seemed out of character and like a forced, happy ending (I hated that). The writing was a bit bland for me too. However, the ethical dilemmas and cultural biases Ramos highlights in this story did not go unnoticed. I appreciated that. The tense and complicated relationship between Jane and her cousin, Ate, was poignant and touching and the insertion of WASPY Reagan also added a different, challenging perspective to this mix of intelligent ladies from different backgrounds. The Farm was a actually less heavy read than I expected it to be and had a light-hearted air about it yet it did touch on current controversial topics such as birthing rights, womanhood, and minorities in the US. This theme does generate introspective thought about one's morals, expectations, and personal goals as they interact with motherhood, career drive, and social class. A woman's life...it ain't so simple.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
 
Book Club Recommended
Addictive, Interesting, Dramatic
Good Thriller

This was twisted, interesting and pretty good. I enjoyed the therapeutic interjections and themes, as a clinician. For the same reasons, the ending seemed to make more sense to me...although yet still as surprising. It was written pretty straightforwardly, no enlightening quotes or ideas, but was a good, strong story. Very enjoyable. I saw that a film, based on this book, is being considered; I'd also be very interested in watching it.

White Elephant by Trish Harnetiaux
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Fun
Holiday read

This was a quick fun read that definitely set up a scenario for our upcoming IRL book club White Elephant gift exchange. I thought it offered some unique entertainment but would have enjoyed a few, better placed red herrings. I'm not good at whodunnits but this was a breeze. Light, quirky, and easy read.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
 
Insightful, Pointless, Dramatic
What?

Okay, I think this book was trying to be really deep and introspective on the issues of race and white privilege but it wasn't successful. She brought up all of these really relevant interactions and then just left me hanging. I felt cheated. I wanted more, in depth exploration of Alix's, Emira's, and Kelley's thoughts and cross cultural/racial interactions. Reid barely skimmed the surface. More focus was put on the storyline instead of seizing the opportunity of delving further into the uncomfortable and varying aspects of racism in our society. Somewhat redeemable was that the story documented Emira's journey into finding herself - her worth, her passion, her path and this was a bit enjoyable, keeping me reading on to the end. Reid touched on some factors that started to address white privilege and thoughts/actions often gone unrecognized but they fell flat as we were forced onto hearing more about Alix's obsession with Emira and her personal insecurities (by chapter 3 I got it already!). It was just a bit too shallow and Blah, so it gets a basic 2 star vote.

The Institute: A Novel by Stephen King
 
Scary, Addictive, Adventurous
this is horror?

This actually was my first Stephen King read and I have to say, I find the movies more exciting. The Institute was good and the storyline was very King but the detail, oh so much detail. There were times it just seemed so wordy and I was like, "This is why this damn book is 600 pages long!" I was engrossed and invested, building suspense, until about halfway in. It then became a battle to finish and get to the point and climax of the story. I was expecting a lot more fear and horror (because this is listed in the horror genre) and was served more science fiction, with a sprinkle of some action/thriller. Throughout the read, I could definitely visualize King's words being transformed onto the movie screen and thought he did a great job with creating and developing the main characters, Luke and Tim. I did get a little lost at times with the whole "hums" and Gorky park and assassins for hire, but was able to piece it all together a bit more clearly by the end. Many of the ancillary characters seemed a little flat too; like they might be presented in a movie - just "supporting actors." I liked, but did not love, this read.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
 
Book Club Recommended
Brilliant, Epic, Addictive
Can't miss this amazing read

Okay so when someone pointed out that this book club pick was written in poems, I cringed, as I don't really enjoy poetry and its often cryptic nature. However, when I started reading I couldn't imagine it being written any other way. This book was so innovative and fresh. It chronicles the internal struggle of a youth whose world is shattered by violence, a not too unfamiliar aspect of his life, and in his grief he becomes focused on and strongly considers revenge . A Long Way Down chronicles Will's extensive internal struggle with obligation, ethics, truth, and innocence through ethereal discussions he has while riding for 60 seconds, down an elevator. The words on the page flowed and pieced this story together like butter. The plot itself is not lighthearted or unique but the way it was presented absolutely was. I especially appreciated Reynold's creativity in integrating descending chapters, coinciding with the effect of going down in an elevator, and (who'd have thought) I loved the poetry.

The Good Daughter: A Novel by Karin Slaughter
 
Book Club Recommended
Addictive, Graphic, Dramatic
Wow

The Good Daughter was very, very Good. It was full of suspense and had an intricate plot- not to mention some very gruesome moments that just made your heart sink into your stomach. The characters, specifically the Quinn family, were very well developed. Actually, as I write this review, it occurs to me that this book was the perfect combination of family drama and mystery/thriller. Slaughter builds the suspense of the mystery that is yet to be solved but also entices you to know more about this family and this backward's town. I particularly enjoyed that she started to take me down one path and then suddenly veered towards another, "ah, so that's not exactly what I was expecting." I will most definitely be venturing on to book #2.

I listened to the audiobook (GR didn't have that edition to select?) and the narrator was riveting and did a great job.

Valentine: A Novel by Wetmore Elizabeth
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Addictive, Dark
Lost Potential

The beginning of this book grabbed me by the throat, stopped my breath, and made my heart race, and then it quickly fell flat, losing focus and strength as Wetmore almost painstakingly proceeded detailing ancillary characters and aspects of Odessa, TX. I wondered what I may have missed, regularly rewinding and re-listening to portions of the audiobook, but alas, nothing. The meat of the story was monotonous and repetitive and I had to push myself to continue. Thankfully, the last third of the read did make some good connections and realizations of "justice" in small town America and ignited some moments of internal fury within me, here and there. Wetmore was excellent with her characterizations and I felt the main characters' pain, struggle, and frustration. That descriptiveness was wonderful but there was so many additional details that just seemed unnecessary and detracted from the punch of the story. I believe the author was working to paint a vivid picture of this community and its citizens yet feel this could have been achieved without spending so much time introducing and describing irrelevant characters as the story unfolded. The narration was wonderful; the story, not so much.

 
Adventurous, Slow, Poorly Written
Love the Character, not the book

Sooo I have struggled with rating this book. The content and knowledge of Virginia Hall's role in WWII was interesting but the presentation left a lot to be desired. Virginia Hall's courageousness and accomplishments could have come across fascinating and yet, they were rote sequences of events typed on a page. Purnell's writing felt so unbelievably scattered. I often felt she was relaying Hall's life and experiences while she was multitasking, doing housework or some other similar activity. There was no flow, the retelling of events felt monotonous, and there were so many unnecessary distractions inserted throughout. The "blah, blah, blah" effect was so strong that I actually considered DNFing the whole thing - a few times. In fact, it was strictly due to a pseudo obligation I felt to Virginia that I pushed myself to continue. There was so much about this woman that was absolutely incredible and unprecedented during this male dominant and horrific War era. Virginia Hall's gumption, courage, and no-nonsense is not only admirable but totally awesome (GIRL POWER!) as she strode in and told all those highfaluting men how it was done. Sadly, I feel Purnell's poor, rambling writing style served to diminish the fantastic history of Hall's legacy and trailblazing. I hear there's a movie, maybe, in this case, it's the better option.

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