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Name : Barbara C.

My Reviews

Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Insightful, Informative
The House Girl

A well written novel, part historical fiction and part legal fiction, that focuses on two young women separated by time periods but linked by circumstance. Brings up serious questions through focus on slave reparations lawsuit - who is enslaved, who is free - and art. Also gives a picture of family relationships as affected by artistic creativity and the horrible treatment of slaves.

The Art Forger: A Novel by B. A. Shapiro
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
The Art Forger

Though there were some improbable plot twists, the depiction of the art world and the art of forgery were fascinating. Creative people are not regular people, as pointed out in the book.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Beautiful, Dramatic
Tell the Wolves I'm Home

A brilliant rendition of a family coping with the death of one of their own, complicated by the fact that he died of AIDS. Especially interesting was the character of June, Finn's niece who is devastated by the death of her uncle and godfather. She is a dreamy, outsider 14-year-old who likes to pretend she lives in the Middle Ages. Central to the story is the relationship she develops with Toby, Finn's lover, without the knowledge of her family who believe he "murdered" Finn by giving him AIDS. Set in 1987 when AIDS was a pretty scary, untreatable disease, the story will move readers to tears at some points and to laughter at others. The depiction of the relationship between June and her older sister is so true-to-life - teen sisters can be a challenge.

Euphoria by Lily King
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Adventurous

Inspired by events from the life of Margaret Mead, Euphoria tells the story of 3 anthropologists in New Guinea in the 1930s. Explores ideas about cultures, balance and meaningful work as well as romantic relationships and conflict between possessiveness and freedom in love. Characters very well drawn and fascinating information about life in native cultures in New Guinea. Lots to discuss.

Shotgun Lovesongs: A Novel by Nickolas Butler
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Fun, Optimistic
Shotgun Lovesongs

Just a good story about a group of friends from a little town in Wisconsin who grew up together & now struggle with growing apart & being grown up. Lyrical descriptions of the Wisconsin countryside & very real, very likeable characters make this book so enjoyable.

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

Well written historical fiction tells the fascinating story of the Grimke sisters of Charleston and their crusade for abolition and women'should rights in the early 19th century. Chapters alternate narration between Sarah Grimke and Hetty, the slave given to Sarah for her eleventh birthday, giving the views of both the white slave owner turned abolitionist and the slave who is set on freedom. Great discussion points.

Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Lisa See has done it again - a novel exploring Chinese culture and family relationships that grabs readers from the start. Who knew that the history of Pu'er tea could be so fascinating? Through the story of Li-Yan and her family, members of the Akha people that live in the isolated mountain region of Yunnan, See weaves a story of the tea culture of Asia and the bonds between parents and children, especially mothers and daughters. Li-Yan leaves her daughter at an orphanage, making her one of thousands of Chinese girls adopted by Americans during China's period of the one child policy. But Li-Yan has far more crushing reasons for giving her baby away, and she spends many years seeking her daughter while she climbs to success as a tea entrepreneur. Heartbreaking and fascinating at the same time, this novel will engage readers and give book clubs much to discuss.

This Is How It Always Is by LAURIE FRANKEL
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Informative
This Is How It Always Is

A very engaging novel about a loving family that is affected both positively and negatively by the youngest of five sons announcement at the age of five that he wants to be a girl. Transgender children raise many issues for even loving, accepting families in our American culture, and Frankel's story addresses these issues and offers different perspectives at the same time she simply tells the story of a family, full of joy and sorrow and change and humor, just like any family. This book will provoke much discussion for most book clubs.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Beautiful, Insightful

An excellent book club choice that inspires discussion of the long-lasting effects of slavery on both Africa and the United States. Gypsies structures the book as a series of short stories connecting characters from each generation of a family connected by 2 sisters, one who remains in Africa and one who is captured and sold into slavery, beginning with 18th century Africa and ending with the present.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Book Club Recommended
Addictive, Brilliant, Dark
The Secret History

Reading this book for the third time just convinced me that it is still my favorite Donna Tartt novel. I had a different perspective on the book as I read it for the second time for a book club. I was still intrigued by the Greek mythology element, but I was more intent on the characters in the little group taught by Julian at a private college in Vermont, noticing more about their pathology as a group and as individuals. The narrator Richard Papen sees himself as an outsider because he doesn't come from money, but actually each member of the Greek studies group is an outsider in one way or another. Tartt's skilled, beautiful writing carries forward a plot rife with drama, secrets and misunderstandings and questions morality and responsibility. Plus there is a Dionysian rite, irresistible to mythology lovers. Highly recommended for book groups or just for the pleasure of reading Tartt's first, and best, novel.

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Slow
Young Jane Young

A quick read that humorously addresses serious topic. Aviva Grossman makes the youthful mistake of having an affair with a Florida Congressman when she is a college intern in his office, an affair that destroys her life when it is revealed. She changes her name and makes a new life for herself and her daughter Ruby in Maine as an event planner. Told in sections narrated by different characters, Zevin explores our political and social culture where a young woman in love with an older politician can be slut shamed forever thanks to the permanence of information on the Internet while the older politician skates away to a long career in politics. More importantly, she depicts family relationships realistically, especially between mothers and daughters, with wit and wisdom.

The Witch Elm: A Novel by Tana French
Book Club Recommended
Gloomy, Dark, Interesting
The Witch Elm

Just possibly Tana French's best book ever - and that is saying a lot as I am a big fan of her books. Toby is a golden boy who has had the good luck to breeze through a fairly privileged life right into his twenties, with a nice flat, a good job and a perfectly lovely girlfriend. But then one night changes everything. Toby surprises burglars in his Dublin home and is beaten nearly to death. When he retreats to the family home, Ivy House, to recuperate and care for his dying Uncle Hugo, he begins to recover only to have his life disrupted once again by the discovery of a skull in the venerable wych elm in the garden.

French has masterful control of the twisty plot and very skillful use of language to evoke atmosphere and character. Just when you think you have it all figured out, she throws in another twist or turn that shines a whole new light on Toby's tale. As he narrates the story, the clues and revelations are colored by his point of view which is in turn colored by his memory loss from brain damage caused by his beating. The concept of luck figures largely in the book, giving rise to some great book discussion points.

I highly recommend this book to fans of well crafted psychological crime novels with plenty of twists and turns.

Book Club Recommended
Confusing, Interesting, Romantic
The Clockmaker's Daughter

Kate Morton wows readers with The Clockmaker's Daughter, a gothic gem of historical fiction. Morton cleverly frames her novel with a ghost's narration, taking readers back to the summer of 1862 when Edward Radcliffe, brilliant young artist, invites his fellow members of the Magenta Brotherhood to his bewitching house on the banks of the upper Thames, Birchwood. But a quiet summer does not a good story make, so the idyllic interlude shatters when one woman is shot dead, another goes missing, and a family heirloom jewel disappears, leaving Edward's life ruined.

Fast forward to the present when archivist Elodie Winslow discovers an old leather satchel containing a photograph of a beautiful woman and a sketchbook with a drawing of an oddly familiar house. Why does Elodie feel so drawn to the house in the sketch? Who is the woman in the photograph?

The story of Birchwood and, ultimately, the fateful summer of 1862 is intriguingly told by various narrators connected to the house through time. Morton explores the importance of place, the purposes of art and story, and the fluid nature of time, but mostly she tells a ripping good story that captures the imagination. Her fans will not be disappointed in her new novel, and she stands to gain many new readers with her tale of art, love, and loss. #TheClockmaker'sDaughter #NetGalley

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an egalley of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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