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My Reviews

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
 
Dramatic, Insightful, Interesting
On a Mississippi Delta farm just after World War II, the lives of two families, one black and one white, are tragically entangled.

We all enjoyed reading and discussing this book despite the painful subject matter. Issues discussed included racism, feminism, and maintaining silence. One of our members told us about another book club's telephone conversation with the author, who had confessed struggling with the development of one of the six narrators of the novel. We spent some interesting time guessing which character it was---and one of us got it right! Although some of us found this novel a bit heavy-handed and derivitive, we all appreciated our reading and discussion. We can recommend it to other book clubs without reservation.

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

Members of our club loved this book. They found it cleverly written and historically interesting. Some of us felt the characters were a bit two-dimensional, but everyone enjoyed the unfolding of the story. We liked the theme of the transformational potential of reading groups!

Purple Hibiscus: A Novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Dramatic
Purple Hibiscus

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Brilliant, Inspiring
Outcasts United

This factual account of refugee kids in Georgia and their persistent, energetic coach helped us understand refugees in Clarkston, Georgia, and, by extension, refugees in our own community, Boise, Idaho. Our discussion was greatly enriched by our guest, a high school student here in Boise who has been organizing an annual soccer camp for refugee kids for the past four years.

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

We could have discussed this book for a week. Everyone liked it, and everyone participated in the discussion. We are a club of white women who lived through the Civil Rights era, although few of us were from the South. The attitudes and behaviors portrayed in the book rang true for us and triggered many memories.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Interesting
Cutting for Stone

The instant I finished this book I wanted to return to page one and begin again. When I did, I found I was enjoying it even more, if possible, than on the first read. Verghese weaves recent history, distant culture, and modern medicine into an epic novel. A partial list of issues raised includes conjoined twins, female genital mutilation, religious ecstasy, supernatural intervention, adoption, love, guilt, revenge, forgiveness....I am better and wiser for having read this book.

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

Most of our group liked this book a lot. I appreciated the history but found the book itself somewhat contrived and romanticized. Still, it was good to learn about this shameful chapter in the history of France.

The Hunger Games (Book 1) by Suzanne Collins
 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Dramatic, Interesting
The Hunger Games

Most of the ladies in our club found this futuristic book very difficult to read because of the violent premise, particularly because it involved children. However, our discussion was terrific. When we started digging for themes, we just couldn't stop. The book's relevance to contemporary life was fascinating, too. Then when we began predicting what might happen in the next two books (none of us had read them), we got really engaged. Several of the "I hated this book" readers declared that they would be finishing the trilogy after all. It may not have been a favorite read, but it was surely a conversation starter!

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

We agreed that Rebecca Skloot turned what could have been a very dry subject into a fascinating narrative. We were especially intrigued by how she wove herself into the story, so that learning how she tracked down all the facts was as interesting as the facts themselves. We also agreed that the book raises question after question regarding bioethics. We could go on discussing it for a very long time!

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
A Novel that Touched us Deeply

Several of our members were moved to tears as we reflected on the issues raised by this engaging and skillfully written novel. While we found no easy answers to the moral dilemmas faced by the characters, we all agreed that we had been riveted and challenged by one of the best reads of the year.

Ripper: A Novel by Isabel Allende
 
Pointless, Confusing, Slow
Ripper

For most of us, only Isabelle Allende's excellent writing style saved this book from being a complete loss. We understand that she ventured away from her usual genre, but wish that she had not! I gave it a "three" because of the writing style but can't really recommend it otherwise.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Mornings on Horseback

McCullough uses vivid cultural and historical detail to illuminate Teddy Roosevelt's childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. I found the first two-thirds of the book more interesting than the last third, mostly because the political detail grew tedious for me. This book would be a great selection for a book club whose focus is on history. (Note to ebook readers: you don't reach 100% completion until you have gone through the copious endnotes, covering about 30% of the total pages.)

 
Book Club Recommended
Dark, Slow, Interesting
The Goldfinch

Most of us agreed that the first part of The Goldfinch was stunning, that the writing was amazing, and that the last third of the book was much longer than it needed to be. About a third of us loved the book, another third hated it, and the remaining members liked the first part and got bogged down (or stoppied reading) at the end. We all found the characters and situation engaging and the writing style splendid.

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