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My Reviews

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson
 
Informative, Insightful, Slow
Not nearly as good as Devil in the White City

The murder storyline is much more interesting than the Marconi storyline. In general the stories are not as interestingly interwoven as in his first book, Devil in the White City.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
 
Dramatic, Insightful, Beautiful
A fantastic book club read!

We all loved this book, both for the psychological portrait of a young teenage girl, but also for the historical element and how the characters react to the way the world is changing.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
 
Informative, Dramatic, Insightful
Not as good as Kite Runner, but still a good read.

In our group, each member ranks the book on a scale of 1 (hated it) to 5 (loved it and will read it again). Our average for this book was a 4. We all agreed that Hosseini is a great story teller, if not a great writer. Some of the events and relationships are inplausible, and we agreed he didn't explore the characters' emotions as much as he could have. We had a solid discussion about the book.

 
Dramatic, Interesting
A little light on character development, but good themes for discussion

Some members wanted more in the way of character development and a more in depth look at many of the relationships. Despite that, the book provided great fodder for dialogue; we especially enjoyed the social history provided and related it to the current economic struggles this country is going through.

 
Dramatic, Dark, Interesting
Most of the group loved this book

Great historical details wrapped up with a lot of twists and turns at the end. A few of us felt the end was a bit contrived, but everyone agreed that we loved the history. We had a great discussion about whether the Romanov's were sympathetic characters.

 
Surprisingly liked by all

This book was picked by one of our few male members, and admittedly, the female members were skeptical of enjoying it. We all really liked it. It was a great balance between Sharpe's personal story and the history of the battle. We had good discussions about the morality of killing in war versus killing for revenge, and how war would be different if women were "running things".

 
Insightful, Interesting, Dramatic
Great discussion about war, the literary value of the stories and the fine lines between fact and fiction

We had a good discussion about the book on many levels. Where does the line between fact and fiction get drawn? Was the author Tim O'Brien, the same person as the character Tim O'Brien? Why does the author seem to write only about Viet Nam, is he still trying to purge his own demons? These and other questions shaped our discussion. Everyone agreed it was a great discussion book.

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
 
Insightful, Interesting, Dramatic
Many issues for book groups to delve into

I mistakenly was reading the wrong book, and only read the Sparks Notes version of the book. With all the great discussion I will definitely go back and read it now.

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
 
Great fun to read and lots of discussion

We all really liked this book. It's a young adult book, set in 1967, and revolves around one young man's teenage angst. Very fun to read with lots of messages. Our discussion included an in-depth look at the clicques of our school years, and whether we actually grow out of that.

 
Dark, Dramatic, Gloomy
Great Discussion Book

So many questions, so few answers, but for each reader there is a different understanding of this book which makes for great discussion!

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Informative
Great Discussion Book

The entire group liked this book and felt it made for good discussion. Despite it's being set in the 1950's, the portrayal of American involvement in foreign countries is still current and thought provoking. The character development was well done and we had a lot of dialogue about characters' motivation for actions.

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Adventurous, Inspiring
Light & Fun

Not a very challenging read, but fun and entertaining.

Cloud Atlas: A Novel by David Mitchell
 
Book Club Recommended
Brilliant, Interesting, Insightful
A Challenging Book to Read, but Worth the Work

The book is essentially 6 nested novellas, that overlap and intertwine. Each section is set in a different time period (from 1850 to post-apocolyptic future and then back). There are themes that run through each section and it is VERY thought provoking. There is lots to discuss in terms of writing style and point of view, and then there are all sorts of "big issues" to talk about, so it's a great book for groups. But each section is written in different language styles appropriate to the time period, so it is not an easy, light, beach book for summer!

 
Book Club Recommended
Brilliant, Epic, Insightful
Great Expectations

On Beauty: A Novel by Zadie Smith
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Difficult, Confusing
Great Discussion Book

There's great material in here for discussion. It's well written with many themes, and while there is subtlety to the writing it's also a quick and easy read.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Gloomy
Olive Kitteridge is a great book group pick!

We all loved this book. Olive in all her presentations was interesting, intriguing, perplexing, frustrating and very worthy of discussion!

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Informative
A young adult book that makes for good adult discussion

Our group enjoyed this book for its humor and the insights about "life on the rez". We had a stimulating dialog about bigotry in its many forms.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Difficult, Interesting
A great book for a group that likes philosophical discussions

Our group agreed that this was not a book you pick for the outstanding writing, plot line or character development. So it was a different discussion than we usually have, but one of the best we've had and it focused on forgiveness, atonement and reconciliation and the personal ramifications of granting forgiveness or not.

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Insightful, Informative
Unaccustomed Earth

Beautifully drawn and complex characters inhabit these stories and stay with you. While on the surface the cultural elements of the stories stand out, their themes are universal when you look beneath the surface.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Interesting
Heartbreaking and Impossible to Put Down

Our group loved this book even though it is devastatingly sad and frightening. It is beautifully written and it feels like you truly are able to understand how nightmarish life with this disease is.

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Insightful, Beautiful
Members Enjoyed It

Everyone enjoyed the book, especially having the dog as narrator, but the discussion was a little light, and some equated the story to a Lifetime movie.

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Beautiful
Interpreter of Maladies

We read this book on the tails of reading Unaccustomed Earth. Most readers liked Unaccustomed Earth better, but still thought this was thought provoking. We like how she weaves the cultural issues into the story without being overbearing about it.

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Insightful, Fun
A mIddle grades book that's good for adults too.

Al Capone plays a minor role in this book about a 12-year old boy and his family's move to Alcatraz island after his father takes a job there. The main focus of the book is how the family revolves around the 16 year old autistic daughter (undiagnosed in the 1930's), and how Moose's life is impacted.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Multi-Layered Non-Fiction Book - Great for Groups

After being on multiple "Top 10" lists for 2010, our group read this and concurred. Reads like fiction and there is much to discuss. The book has three themes that rotate through the book: the history of cell research, the medical ethics of using the cells of Henrietta Lacks, and finally the tragic story of Henrietta's family.

 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Interesting, Insightful
Interesting Writing Style

While our group wasn't thrilled with the book, it ended up leading to a pretty good conversation. We talked a lot about the character development and whether it was believable and also Nicholl's writing style.

The Astral: A Novel by Kate Christensen
 
Overall Fair Review

Our group found this book enjoyable and readable, but we didn't love it. We found a number of plot points which we felt should have been more fully developed. We were confused by the title which refers to the building in which the main characters live, but in which little time was spent.

What's Left of Us by Richard Farrell
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Insightful, Dramatic
A Couldn't Put Down Memoir

Despite initial reservations about yet another memoir about addiction and a dysfunctional family, our club loved this book. None of us could put it down.

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