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Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Inspiring
Highly recommend

The title says it all. With beautiful, honest prose Dr. Angelou distills her life of ups and downs so that others facing similar quandaries and choices may learn and hopefully avoid her pitfalls.She is a keen observer and noticed that many adults are unwilling to share their imperfections with the younger generation, so she is offering up hers. She is humble and grateful for those that were there for her and shares her hard-earned wisdom generously.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Interesting

 
Informative, Slow, Boring
Amazing Women, Unamazing Writing

Enlightening glimpse in the world of the 1940-50's when computers were actually human and black american women were quietly and competently using their education and skills in non-traditional female fields. They were also raising families and facing racism, sexism and Jim Crow segregationist policies in the southern U.S. This important story is unfortunately at times repetitive and reads more like a recounting of history than bringing these amazing women to life.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful

 
Informative, Slow, Unconvincing

 
Inspiring, Informative, Epic

I found this book to be life-changing. Whenever I find myself stressing about unfair or unpleasant situations, I think of what this brilliant lady endured and give my emotions a reality check.

It is unfathomable that this situation was perpetuated for so long, and in my lifetime. Ms Cheung offers clear warnings of the terror and destruction that can arise when there is not an independent free press, unchecked political power and an educated populace. These warnings are as relevant today as ever.

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Insightful, Pointless
Nora speaks my mind

Nora's keen observations coupled with her succinct wit make this a great read. There is much to identify with for those of us who lived through the 1960's and beyond. Loved it and highly recommend as antidote to facing life's ups and downs and taking comfort in that you are not alone.

Stolen Beauty: A Novel by Laurie Lico Albanese
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dramatic, Informative
Inspiration for art and life

The story of these 2 strong women born in Austria a generation apart was not only fascinating, but inspirational. The struggles that they each faced as they strove to make a difference in the world and honor their commitments were well-presented and believable even as the author admittedly needed to take creative license in writing the story of the art and family connection that bound these two women together. This true story is a bright light for justice against the horror of World War II as well as the prejudice and unfairness that exist today.

 
Fun, Interesting, Adventurous
Waste of Time

This book is a complete waste of time told in a juvenile tone uttering insulting stereotypes. I can't think of one redeeming take-away from this book.

The Son by Philipp Meyer
 
Epic, Graphic, Informative

Running the Rift: A Novel by Naomi Benaron
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Adventurous, Insightful
The extremes of humanity

While this book does not provide deep insight into the seeds of the Hutu-Tutsui schism in the Rift Valley, it does an excellent job of presenting the cultural bonds and humanity that were broken during the Rwandan genocide. It would be nice to think that the world would react differently today than it did then, yet events (such as Syria) prove others.

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Insightful, Dramatic

 
Insightful, Inspiring, Informative

Beautifully written novel that one could believe is a true story. I gained an appreciation for the Tibetan culture and the potential humanity and courage inherent in each of us if we so desire.

 
Interesting, Insightful, Informative

Trevor Noah’s upbringing and insight into the variety of South African groups is inspiring. He candidly brings his family, especially his mom to life while being introspective about his own not-so-perfect behavior. The editing could have been a little tighter to align timelines and remove repetition, however, I had hard time putting down.

 
Confusing, Informative, Adventurous

I have great admiration for the willingness of Steve Martin to share the motivating and pivotal moments that shaped his personality and the comedian that he became. It is amazing to me that anyone would pursue this profession given how isolating and challenging it can be. While an interesting memoir, I’m not sure it lends itself well to bookclub discussions.

Good Morning, Midnight: A Novel by Lily Brooks-Dalton
 
Adventurous, Dramatic, Brilliant

I enjoyed learning about the kinds of people who have a “calling” plus the courage and intellect to explore the extreme, both here on earth and in the galaxy. For me, I came away thinking more about the varying ways humans feel and deal with: relationships, loneliness, balancing personal vs professional goals, and survival.The story is well-written and has an interesting twist that I didn’t realize until about two-thirds into the book. There was enough suspense to keep me intrigued about how the 2 parallel stories would eventually intertwine.

The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck
 
Persuasive, Optimistic, Inspiring

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
 
Informative, Insightful, Brilliant

 
Book Club Recommended
Brilliant, Difficult, Adventurous

I like the detective and his quest to remain honorable while solving the murders of his partner and soulmate and a U.S. Marine living in Bangkok. The tale wove in east vs west beliefs in instructive and interesting ways. For me, the dark and fantastical turns that were also part of the plot were more distracting than enhancing. Still, I would read more from this author and think it will be an interesting book to discuss.

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Persuasive, Dark
Sensitive insights and dark humor

Even when the U.S. acts in perhaps the best of intentions, negative consequences often occur. The controversial American involvement in Vietnam's civil war is no exception yet we have most often heard about it from a US pov until now. This historical novel eloquently and with some dark humor enables us to meet various Vietnamese people on both sides of the civil war as they adjust to their evolving place in the world. Important themes are explored such as, family, loyalty, friendship, honor, truth, pride and patriotism. I highly recommend and think that this novel deserves at least a second read to fully appreciate.

 
Slow, Beautiful, Boring
Travel back to Victorian England

The author successfully transports us back to Victorian England by creating a colorful collection of characters who believe opposing philosophies and live in different economic classes. The human failings and odd behaviors are somewhat endearing yet in the end, I felt the story moved painfully slow and I cared very little about what happened to any of them. Notheless, our club did have a robust discussion around this book thanks to some good questions posed about the many themes and situations created by the author.

 
Informative, Adventurous, Interesting

This book is a remarkable tribute to the capacity of man to explore and persevere in perhaps the harshest and least forgiving earthly environment. While suspenseful and engaging, I would recommend reading this book more to gain historical knowledge than one that will provide robust discussion in a bookclub. For me, it was suspenseful yet it moved as slowly as our USS Jeanette voyagers. And I knew from the jacket cover that with each page turned, I would be entering a world of tragedy and supreme hardship which made it a sad rather than a joyful or exciting read. Still, kudos to the author for his diligent and thoughtful use of the ship’s logs, personal letters and other historical materials to recreate this significant moment in time.

Fruit of the Drunken Tree: A Novel by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
 
Informative, Dramatic, Insightful

The author did an excellent job of portraying the humanity, the difference and the commonalities of a different classes found in Colombian society The people were not perfect and the way they faced life was relatable. The insights and trauma shared help me better understand the negative ramifications of the drug problem in the americas. I definitely recommend this book.

 
Book Club Recommended
Survival of the Spirit

Baldwin’s powerful use of words to bring to life the strong characters and at times brutal moments of his protagonist's pentecostal upbringing are terrifying and held me until the very last page. To me, this book is about survival. Survival of one’s upbringing, survival of one’s spirit, survival in white america, survival of one’s choices and survival of fate.

Baldwin’s portrayal of the stepfather’s physical and verbal abuse was given context yet not condoned. The important women in the 14 year old boy's upbringing showed strength and passion yet they were too often held back by their dependency on men and a a lack of alternative opportunities.

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck
 
Romantic, Interesting, Slow

 
Interesting, Informative, Insightful

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Boring
Passion and Intrigue

I really enjoyed the parallel stories of significant events happening in the 1940-50's U.S. and the U.S.S.R. and how they eventually intertwined. There are many layers to this book and I think the author sensitively presents varying points of view and motivations of the key characters, especially as they grapple with homosexuality and freedom of expression. There are some loose ends yet the author does a good job distilling newly released books and information to create a book that I had a hard time putting down.

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