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My Reviews

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
 
Dramatic, Insightful, Beautiful
Haunting tale of young girl and her family in WWII Germany

Death narrates this story and at first it is a bit uncomfortable for the reader to get in touch with Death in this way. But as the story progresses, you realize that using Death as the narrator was an excellent choice.

Lisle Meminger's story is a bit difficult to get into at first, but after a few chapters, I believe the read will become enthralled with the book. Meeting Rosa and Hans, Lisle's foster parents is memorable and even though Rosa seems to be a bitter, angry woman, you will come to find another side of her.

Hans world of trying to appear sympathethic to the Nazi's around him and within his family is offset by what the reader learns is the true Hans.

Max, the jewish young man that is hidden in the Hubermans cellar will leave you wanting to know more.

All is all it is a transfixing book. The words and language that this author uses as mesmerizing. Please read this book -- you will come away awed and amazed.

 
Fun, Optimistic, Inspiring
Funny, touching, southern humor - Fannie has done it again.

Fannie Flagg continues her saga of Elmwood, Missouri and you really get to know Aunt Elner Shimfissel and her niece Norma. If you've read Welcome to the World, Baby Girl, then you already know these characters are "really characters". This time, Elner falls from a ladder, makes a brief trip to heaven and practically gives her niece and friends a memorable week in Elmwood. You'll laugh out loud in places. If you grew up in a close neighborhood in th 50's - 70's, I'll bet you knew a few Elner and Normas in your own town. Definitely worth the read. As soon as I finished, I went out and got Welcome to the World ... and Standing in the Rainbow so that I could get to know the Elmwoodian's even better.

 
Dramatic, Insightful, Interesting
Thirteen year old girl applies for medical emancipation in order to no longer be used as an "organ" donor

This Picoult book will keep you reading and questioning all the way through the book. What is Anna's REAL reason that she doesn't want to donate a kidney to her critically ill older sister, Kate? How is it that the son of a Fire Captain is a pyromaniac? Will Anna's Mom, Sara, ever realize that she is "using" her younger daughter at the cost of her whole family? What the heck is Campbell's medical reason for his dog Judge -- a service dog? The ending will really throw readers for a loop, but in the end a "happy" family does remain.

 
A laugh filled romp through small West Texas town with love as an outcome!

Paige is a spoiled little rich girl who has been indulged by her Daddy for years. but it suddenly thrust in the everyday world where money doesn't grow on trees. Spur is a hard-working recent Texas A&M graduate, focused on taking over a veterinary practice in the small town of Salt Lick, Texas. Add a horse thief, two local ladies who run a combination beauty shoppe and detective agency (specializing in spying on staying spouses) and together with several other memorable characters and you've got My Heart May Be Broken, But My Hair Still Looks Good. Paige and Spur both learn lessons about money, love, margaritas and sex while the reader learns what the horse thief has in mind and how the folks from Salt Lick plan to bring him or her down. Laughs throughout the book - from Paige working at McDonald's, to weating a risque apron that she hasn't bothered to read. Readers who like light mysteries will probably enjoy this second book in the Dixie Cash mystery series.

 
Excellent book about the murder of Frank Lloyd Wright's lover and several associated during the early part of the 20th Century.

True crime genre may be a late 20th century phenomena, but the crimes that are written about have often taken place long before. This book delves into the life and loves of Frank Lloyd Wright, reknownee America architech and the murder of this lover, her children and several associates of Wright's. While the reason for the murder has never fully been understood, if you enjoy true crime, I think you'll enjoy this intriguing story of a moneyed man who couldn't be saved from tragedy and sorrow.

 
True look at the family from Cheaper By the Dozen and life of matriarch Lillian Moller Gilbreth before and after the death of her husband Frank

If you've ever wondered about the "REAL" story behind Cheaper By the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes, then you'll enjoy this in-depth biography of the mother of the brood of 12. Lillian Moller Gilbreth was a pace setter and educated woman long before she met Frank Gilbreth. Together they had 12 children (11 lived to adulthood) and together they changed how many companies and corporations through cutting edge methods of time management. After Frank's sudden death, Lillian had to face and change the world's view of what a single mother was capable of being and doing.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
 
Insightful, Dramatic, Interesting
Excellent book about disturbed young man who goes on a shooting rampage

I was reading this book the week the Virginia Tech shooting occurred and that made it quite eerie. Still, like many other Picoult books, it keeps you on the edge of your seat waiting to see what happens next. The violent act portrayed by the protaganist is unfortunately happening more and more often throughout our country. You will feel for both the victims and for the family of the shooter.

My Antonia by Willa Cather
 
Slow, Pointless, Insightful
Story of hard life and times on the plains of 1890's Nebraska

Cather is considered a "classic" American writer and I had never read any of her works. Now I'm glad we picked this. It was quite enjoyable and had a lot of relevance to how women lived in the late 19th Century and how they live now. The hard life was well described and the plains, both flat and beautiful come alive with Cather's words and descriptions. The immigrant situation and problems of the previous centuries are still somewhat true today. Maybe not in exactly the same way, but the attitudes towards migrants and the things they must do in order to survive are still occuring today. All in all, an excellent read with lots of characters to discuss.

 
Optimistic, Inspiring, Fun
Small Alabama town and miracles the residents find there

Fannie Flagg has more than done it again. This sweet, warm little book will renew your faith in humanity. While the book seems to be set in an earlier time period (perhaps the 1960's) the love of family and friends will appeal to most anyone who likes a story with lots of heart and a good moral. Also, lots of laughs and humor and if that isn't enough, like in many of her books, some really good recipes in the back.

Apache Autumn by Robert Skimin
 
Fictional account of Chihenne Apache Indians in 1800's U.S.

Overall the book was quite interesting. We chose it because one of our members was acquainted with the author, Robert Skimin. Mr. Skimin "joined" our meeting via telephone from his home in El Paso, Texas. Mr. Skimin really, really researches his stories. This book, the story of Lazaro, a Chihenne Apache chief is not based on a real person, but many real people are brought into the story the way E.L. Doctorow tends to do. Very interesting to learn about the Apache clans relationship with the "White Eyes" and how they tried to stick to the treaties, when the Americanos broke the treaties then they struck back. We learned quite a bit about history of New Mexico during the late 1800's. Another main character, Andres, the half breed son of Lazaro and his Mexican mother, Carlota is fascinating. Mr. Skimin talked with us for almost an hour. He is also the author of numerous other historic fiction and also has a new children's series, Danny Drumm's Heros in the work.

 
Insightful, Inspiring, Interesting
Memoir of mixed race man and his Jewish, White Mother

Wow, what a book. I was intrigued by the title, but even more intrigued as I read the book. I had never read this book when it first came out and am so glad that I found it recently and recommended it to our little group of readers. Very powerful stuff. James McBride is quite a man. Lots of hard roads to have walked to get where he is today. And, I was fortunate enough to be able to hear him speak about his new novel, Song Yet Sung just last Friday night when he was at a Barnes & Noble store in Dallas. He is even more impressive in person than in print. Overall, there are many lessons to learn from this book that covers racism and many other isms. The main theme of the book is that family and God and love are the overpowering things that can get us all through the bad and good times. Would definitely recommend this book and hope that his other novels are half as good.

A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve
 
Big Chill like setting with less happy outcomes

This Anita Shreve didn't live up to my expectations. It was OK, with the biggest problem being that I wanted to slap some of the characters because 20+ years out of school they still hadn't grown up to take adult responsibilities. Also, Shreve throws a "story within a story" into the book with one of her characters writing a story about an historical disaster in Halifax, Canada. The "story within the story" was distracting at best and several of our Club members chose to skip those portions of the book and focus on the contemporary story. Still and all, the discussion was pretty lively. The couples in the story had more than enough troubles to go around. The only really happy couple in the book was the gay couple.
If you really, really like Shreve and The Big Chill, you'll probably enjoy. Otherwise, there are plenty of other books that are awaiting reading.

 
Wife finds out that husband can be romantic after all

This was a fun little book. Addie was a slightly bored empty nester that thought the reason she was so unhappy was because husband Lucky didn't pay enough attentio to her and instead spent his time collecting junk in what Addie termed his "Kingdom of Krap" in the garage. Lucky "wins" a trip to Costa Rica (through plenty of hard work selling auto parts) and then as they prepare to leave, Lucky messes up his back and instead of finding "Paradise", Addie finds herself having to wait on Lucky while he heals from his injury. This additional stress of being "put upon" for Addie is just too much and she and Lucky separate. But wait, all is not lost. Through some very fund scenes and adventures, Lucky manages to turn around not only himself but several of the men in Parker, PA and eventually this brings the marriage / separate to a resolution. Do they stay together or divorce. Read it and see. Only the last chapter of the book (the fall bash that is invaded by pirates) seems a bit out of place. Otherwise a fun read that will give you some pause for thought.

The Reading Group: A Novel by Elizabeth Noble
 
Interesting, Confusing, Adventurous
Very British read about 1 year in the life of a group of women in a book club

Book was basically a good and fun read. It took a little time to get used to the "Queen's English" and British terms that appear throughout. Ladies of the "Reading Group" are an interesting group that manages to go through almost every trial and tribulation possible during a one year period. Once you get a feel for which character is friends with which other character, who is married to who, etc. then it is easier to like the book. The book centers around each month of the year with a different book being "reviewed" each month. The actual book reviews and comments are secondary to the story. The real story is the events in the womens' lives and how they come together to help each other.

Wish You Well by David Baldacci
 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Optimistic, Insightful
Almost as inspiring as To Kill a Mockingbird

Twelve year old Lou and little brother, Oz, find themselves moving from fast paced NYC in 1940 after a car accident has left their writer father dead and their mother in a catatonic state. With no where else to go, they move to Virginia to live with the Great-Grandmother who raised their father, but whom they have never met. Lou (the girl) is named for her Great-Grandmother Louisa May. Life in the hills is quite different for the children where there is no electricity, no running water, no big stores & very few "comforts". But, they meet extraordinary people like Diamond, a young orphan who shows them how wishes can come true, Eugene, a young black man who lives on Louisa May's homestead and helps her with the farm and, Cotton Longfellow, a lawyer who comes to be the savior of the family when the bad guys -- the coal companies and local bootleggers try to steal the family property. All in all, through trials and tribulations, the children come through this dark period of time and learn many, many life lessons.

Small Island: A Novel by Andrea Levy
 
Dramatic, Beautiful, Epic
Small Island -- Interesting take on racism in post WWII England

I wanted to read this because the BBC version on Masterpiece (PBS) was wonderful. Book was more tedious w/seemingly endless histories of 4 main characters. Still, worth reading either before or after watching the DVD. Quite eye opening in learning of rampant racism in England after WWII. Guess after seeing To Sir With Love which was set less than 20 yrs after this bk it was a surprise to learn racism happened & happens all over the world.

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