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Name : Joyce W.

My Reviews

Book Club Recommended
Confusing, Informative, Insightful
The Hour I First Believed

I've read Wally Lamb's other books and loved them so I couldn't wait to begin however this one was a disapointment to me. I felt that some characters were unnecessary to the story and could have been eliminated--saving over 200 pages. Too many national disasters and social concerns were included. I felt that Mr. Lamb was writing a cathartic story. That said, this book would make an outstanding literature study with all the literary devices which are included. The chapters involving the killers from Columbine were chilling and difficult to read. Very eye opening. The varied themes, foreshadowing, symbolism, etc. made for a lively discussion and for that reason I would recommend this book as a book club selection.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Fun, Interesting
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

This is an excellent read. All group members were sad to finish the book and all are trying to learn more about the Channel Islands and the German occupation. We enjoyed the letter format for conveying the story. Easy to discuss a variety of ideas.

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan
Interesting, Insightful, Optimistic
Difficult to discuss

Although we all generally liked this book, we found few points of discussion. Throughout the book, Ms. Corrigan seems to downplay the socioeconomics of her childhood-- the Main Line area where she was raised was, and remains, an upper middle class and above region. Her association with the Merion Cricket Club confirms this. Within our group, the majority felt there were discrepancies between the author's presented identity as a solidly middle class child and the reality of her life. (It is admirable that she was able to retain a middle class sensibility given the opportunities afforded her.) We were disappointed with the lack of emotional depth presented when the author discussed her cancer experiences, especially as this related to the raising of very young children while presumably also maintaining a job. The book, a testament of Kelly Corrigan's deep love of her father, left us questioning her ability to cope with the eventual death of this irrepressable man. Greenie Corrigan's deep faith provides him with the support he needs during his life and illness. We are left to wonder what helps the author deal with her diagnosis as she does not share her parent's deep faith. How did she cope? We are left to wonder. The final section, "Transending" was the most powerful portion of the book and seemed to finally be written from the author's heart. If Ms. Corrigan had shared this depth of emotion through out the book it would have been far more powerful. We all recommend making sure your annual mammogram is up to date before reading this book.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Gloomy
We loved this book!

A well written book with numerous points of discussion which only improves on the second read. Each chapter can function as a stand alone short story but taken together provide a vivid portrait of both Olive and the town of Crosby, Maine.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Romantic, Interesting, Beautiful
The Time Traveler's Wife

No one in my group enjoyed this book nor would we recommend it to anyone. Half the group could not bring themselves to finish this pointless book.

Time of My Life: A Novel by Allison Winn Scotch
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Interesting, Insightful
The Time of My Life

A fun read which will make you think about the what if's in your own life.

Sweetsmoke by David Fuller
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Informative

An interesting and well researched book. Sweetsmoke refers to a Virginia tobacco plantation where the main character, Cassius, is a slave. The book was well researched and paints a vivid portrait of both the location and the characters.

Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Beautiful, Difficult
The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The first 150 or so pages of this book were difficult to read, however if you have read Anna Karenina, are familiar with Tolstoy, and have some knowledge of philosophers such as Emmanuel Kant, you will enjoy this book. That said, while I enjoyed this book, it is not a book all will enjoy. Also, be prepared to have a college dictionary at your side.

Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Insightful, Beautiful
The Art of Racing in the Rain

This was an easy read told from a wise dog's point of view. The philosophic messages contained in the book are clearly described and easily understood. It appears that those of us with dogs were more enthusiastic about the book.

Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Adventurous
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Numerous plot twists and multiple story lines make this book a fascinating read. While we all agreed that the first 100 pages were slow reading; the remainder of the book held each of us captivated. While classified as a mystery, this book is unlike any mystery I have previously read. Will will be reading the second book in this trilogy.

Slow, Confusing, Poorly Written
The Mercy of Thin Air

This book is best read as a draft. When you reach the end, many connections are made but there remain various unresolved or unaddressed story lines. Some interesting themes are presented but seem to be left dangling or are not well developed. Overall I found this book to be slow, confusing, and poorly written. No one in my group enjoyed this selection.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Inspiring, Interesting
The Help

A wonderful book! A great read and discussion!

Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Beautiful, Fun
A Great Discussion Book!

This deceptively simple and quick read provided one of the longest and best discussions we've had to date. If you are also a dinner club, you can have a great meal to accompany your discussion!

House Rules: A Novel by Jodi Picoult
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Interesting
House Rules

Another winner for Jodi Picoult and a great discussion book for my club.

The 19th Wife: A Novel by David Ebershoff
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
The 19th Wife

This is a very discussable book. I did several google searches to learn more about the Mormon church and Ann Eliza Young as did another member. We all enjoyed the history apsect of the book. The movie is available on DVD.

Book Club Recommended
Fun, Optimistic, Inspiring
Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt

A short easy read which yielded a surprising amount of discussion. Curiously there were no strong--or decent men in the book.

Dramatic, Interesting, Romantic
One Day

It was fascinating to see how much information could be conveyed in one day glimpses. While I found this to be a generally interesting book, our group was evenly divided among the "like/dislike" and despite assistance from several website discussion questions, we found it difficult to discuss.

Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Dramatic

The first half of the book seemed slow but in reality the author was setting the story up. After about page 200 or so, you'll be unable to put this book down!

Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
Let the Great World Spin

Not everyone in our group enjoyed--or finished--this book although personally I really enjoyed it. The various stories vividly depict the NYC that I know.

Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Fun, Insightful
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

An easy but fun read! The author seamlessly balances humor with more serious topics. The characters are well drawn. We had an excellent discussion based on this book.

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Insightful
Sarah's Key

A very well written book that is difficult to put down. The mixing of the present and the past stories adds to the quality of the writing. Historical fiction at it's finest.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Book Club Recommended
Slow, Brilliant, Insightful
Atlas Shrugged

Although written in the 1950's, this book is more timely now than when written. It is long, and in the print version the font is very small--e book readers enjoyed the ability to encrease the font size. Although it is a formidible book, completing Atlas Shrugged is well worth the investment of time. It is profound and potentially prophetic.

The Bird Sisters: A Novel by Rebecca Rasmussen
Book Club Recommended
Difficult, Beautiful, Gloomy
The Bird Sisters

A sweet easy to read book which tells the tale of two sisters, their visiting cousin, and their parents in a small town in the 1940's. Choices made in an instant or without a thought to the future affect the course of each of their lives. Where they happy with the choices they made and the lives they lived? Interesting discussions regarding character, love, and relationships.

Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dramatic, Difficult
A Time to Kill

John Grishman's first novel is more layered than many of his successive novels. While we all felt we knew how the book would end, we all enjoyed the ride to get to the end. My group tended to all agree on our responses to the discussion questions so discussion per say was limited but all agreed that this was a good read.

Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
The Devil in White City and In The Garden of The Beasts

A well written piece of non-fiction that reads like fiction. The author alternates between the building of White City and the \\\"Devil.\\\" Googling images of the fair, H.H. Holmes, and his apartment building make this a more fascinating read.

The site saved my review of The Devil in White City under In The Garden of the Beasts. Not the way I preferred but I\\\'ve read both and thoroughly enjoyed both. In the Garden is chock full of detail about the time prior to the full empowerment of Hitler and the role of Ambassador Dodd and his family during this time. Although it\\\'s not light reading, we had an excellent discussion based upon this book.

Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Interesting
Falling Leaves

Cultural norms, child abuse, and the will to suceed make this story of an unwanted little girl who eventually becomes a successful doctor in the United States make this an interesting read.

Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Dramatic, Informative

An inspiring book about the resilience of the human spirit. It is difficult to fully comprehend what Louis Zamperini endured and you will find yourself wondering why he can't seem to catch a break. It helped significantly to know in advance that he not only survived but eventually thrived.

Book Club Recommended
Code Talker

Chester Nez is one of the original 29 young Navajos who left the peaceful Navajo life to enlist in the military. These young men were charged with the development of a code for use in combat. They rose to this challenge, evolved the code when necessary, went through Marine basic training, dealt with cultural conflicts, were in the battle areas, and won the war for the US. Their contribution to the war is a little known story with recognition long over-due.

Interesting, Slow
Carry Yourself Back to Me

Not my favorite book but not awful. It was a quick read. The story began to make sense in the last few chapters. Not the most stimulating book club discussion. We could not find any discussion questions on-line.

Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Optimistic, Adventurous
Little Princes: One Man\\\'s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal

I must admit that when this book was selected, I was less than enthusiastic. My opinion changed within the first few pages. The author writes in a style that is easy to read and, at times, to relate to personally. We were able to discuss this book on many levels--aspirations of volunteer work, correlations to volunteer work performed, the plight of children in poverty both here and abroad, etc. We all enjoyed this book.

Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Dark, Interesting
Gone Girl

There come a point where this book is difficult to put down! A tight and well-written story we all enjoyed.

Slow, Interesting, Informative
Odd Girl Out

This is a well researched book that only two of us finished. We had an interesting discussion but we felt the book became repetitive and placed too great a burden on already overwhelmed teachers to become more vigilant in order to stop bullying behaviors.

Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel by Kimberly McCreight
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
Reconstructing Amelia

Our entire group really enjoyed this book and had a great discussion as a result. Many themes and points of discussion are found within this well written story of the relationship between a single mother and her daughter and the relationships typically experienced during youth.

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