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A Sundog Moment by Sharon Baldacci
 
Beautiful, Interesting, Optimistic
A Sundog Moment

A well-written and thoughtful story. Elizabeth Whittaker is leading the "perfect" life until a disgnosis of MS tilts her and her husband's equilibrium way out of balance. Elizabeth's journey through the classic stages of grief until a final acceptance of a new "normal" is at the crux of the story. Relationships change, new people enter her life, all with something unique to offer Elizabeth. In addition to coming to terms with a chronic incurable debilitating illness; the author brings one food for thought on a variety of issues such as the everyday obstacles in daily lving for people with disabilities, the medicinal use of marijuana, suicide, the use of genetic testing for hereditary diseases and what should an individual do with that knowledge. There are a few stereotypical characters and contrived situations, but not enough to hinder the lovely unfolding of the story.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Romantic, Interesting
Garden Spells

A lovely little story with "magical" components a la Practical Magic and The Girl with No Shadow. Slow in the beginning, but quickly became an absorbing nice read with interesting storylines and framing of the story. Throughly enjoyed this entertaining novel.

Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos
 
Book Club Recommended
Boring, Dramatic, Romantic
Love Walked In

I thought the book was a lovely story with some thought provoking moments. It started slow (about 100 pps), but after that point I was hooked and became invested in the characters. Its worth sticking with it!!!

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

A women ahead of her time, Skeeter seeks to gather stories from the black maids of well-to-do white women of JAckson, MS at the cusp of the civil rights movement. All of the maids and Skeeter brave job loss, ostracization, injury and perhaps death as they meet in secret to share their stories for a book. An insightful book on race relations in the south among this group of people.

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

I couldn't put this book down!!! I became invested in many of the characters but one definitely wanted to know what happens to Sarah and Julia as events unfold in their lives. A poignant story for one and a journey of discovery for the other.

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

Recommend for book clubs interested in reading mysteries. As many others have described, it's a very slow start unless you are knowledgable & into financial criminal activity. Once the two main characters' lives intersect, the book begins to move as they research clues to Harriet's murder and uncover more about the dysfunctional Vanger family. Once the story moves back to the financial sector in the end, it is somewhat unbelievable, but overall a good read if you don't mind some graphic descriptions of a sex and torture.

Brick Lane: A Novel by Monica Ali
 
Book Club Recommended
Slow, Difficult
Brick Lane

I only recommend this for book clubs for discussions on fate vs. self-determination, the plight of immigrants and/or differences in western and Muslim cultures, specifically the role of women. It was a slow and sometimes difficult read r/t many Bangladeshi, Hindi or Arab words. It was hard to invest in many of the characters and their story.

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dramatic, Adventurous
Look Again

This is an quick read with a provocative core/moral dilemma wrapped up in a suspense format. Everyone enjoyed this read and could identify with the main character's wrestle with her conscience and desire to do the right thing. Good discussion questions, in addition it led into moral questions r/t some current stories in the news.

Life Sentences: A Novel by Laura Lippman
 
Book Club Recommended
Slow, Boring, Pointless
Life Sentences

I personally didn't like the book and it was a slow read. Many in our club did enjoy it; and we did find many of the questions in the reading guide great discussion starters. The themes in the book are worth discussing and for that reason I'd recommend for other book clubs

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Interesting
Shanghai Girls

Set during a slice of history I was unfamiliar with; Japanese invasion of Shanghai in 1937 and subsequent Chinese immigration to the US. A story unfolds about the relationship between two sisters as they face a fall from an affluent lifestyle due to their father's debts, are sold into marriages, escape the Japanese and start lives as poor immigrants in LA. Although never living apart, each of them faces this new life and the choices before them in an entirely different manner. This story makes one face the ugliness of how we treat each new wave of immigrants in this country; and it also begs us to think about what makes up a family.

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Interesting, Insightful
The Friday NIght Knitting Club

A book about the relationships that develop between a diverse group of women and how they hep each other through the ups & downs of life. A slow start, but begins to move along about 1/3 of the way through. Some characters are developed more than others, yet each brings forward a unique perspective on their life. Plenty to discuss with or without the questions in the back of the book

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Insightful, Beautiful
Gift from the Sea

A small but powerful book primarily aimed at women, about taking the time for introspection in our hectic lives. Although written in 1955, Linbergh's words are still resonant today. I read this at age 20 and realize now why I didn't connect with this gem then....I had limited life experiences! She eloquently uses various shells she finds on the beach as analogies to different times/phases of our lives. Lindbergh gets to the heart of finding inner peace and living life in a state "of grace" more quickly and beautifully than currently popular books such as Eat, Pray, Love or Tolle's A New Earth. A must read and keeper to refer to again and again.

Domestic Affairs by Eileen Goudge
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Unconvincing, Insightful
Domestic Affairs

An easy read. Although I enjoyed the book it had too many story lines and too neatly tied up in the end. Yet had some thought-provoking themes which gives a club something to discuss in addition to writing style and character development.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Informative
Year of Wonders

It surprised me that I really loved the book despite the less than intriguing excerpt/description; which normally makes you want to pick up the book. I thought the characters were interesting and the author really was able to make you feel you were going through the events with them. Lots of group dynamics and character strengths/flaws are illuminated when the community is forced into an isolated environment.

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Fun
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dance

Thoroughly enjoyed this well-researched and interestingly constructed book that tied a modern day heroine with connections in the past. How she discovers and tracks down information about a litle known woman from the Salem witch trials and the lingering mystery surrounding her story.

 
Unconvincing, Poorly Written, Pointless
The Front

A mystery that goes no where with characters that are difficult to invest in. A disappoointing read.

 
Book Club Recommended
Optimistic, Inspiring, Fun
A Redbird Christmas

A lovely story set in a time and place of a strong welcoming community of people who look out for one another. Quirky characters that you'd love to know and would depend on. How they come together to help a young girl bestows not only a healing opportunity for her but also for each other.

 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Inspiring, Interesting
The Whistling Season

A slow-paced but beautifully written story of a hard scrabble life in rural Montana at the turn of the 20th century. Two people come into the lives of a motherless family and impact them in their own unique ways. The prose is a marvel. The wonderful use of language in describing landscape, framing dialogue & action alike is worth reading this book for alone!

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
 
Boring, Confusing, Interesting
The Maltese Falcon

I personally thought the book was OK, but the book club did not like the book; including both content and writing style.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Dramatic
Peace Like a River

Beautifully written story exploring the universal themes of good and evil, love of family, revenge and justice. It took me on an unexpected journey that kept me interested, thinking and savoring the words.

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Dramatic, Interesting
Water for Elephants

Most everyone in our book club liked the book. I had a difficult time with it due to the animal abuse throughout the story. I actually thought the most interesting & insightful sections were those that involved Jacob's life in the nursing home. If you are an animal lover, skip the book otherwise it's a good read.

The Wednesday Sisters: A Novel by Meg Waite Clayton
 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Interesting, Fun
The Wednesday Sisters

An easy read about women who started out their adult lives in a time when opportunities and expectations for women were limited; yet through their bond negotiated and grew with the changing times. It will resonate with women of a certain age

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Adventurous
The Forgotten Garden

An intensely satisfying read. Epic or saga type story with a mystery to boot. Although long and early on difficult to keep track of what time period the story was being narrated from (3 different eras), it was compelling and the last 200 pps were a page turners. Most everyone in our group really enjoyed the book

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Romantic, Interesting
The House at Riverton

Overall, I liked the book's overarching theme of the plight of upper class women in the early 1900's and the way of life changing in the wake of WWI; but it was difficult to invest in most of the characters. It was slow moving and the story didn't begin to "hook" the reader until the latter third or even last quarter of the book. The conclusions were not very satisfying. Her next book The Forgotton Garden was much much better.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Beautiful
The Descendants

The book club had mixed reviews for the book, some loved it, a few didn't like it at all & some were nonplussed. It did have lots of things to talk about, both with the help of the publishers reading questions and our own insights/comments/questions about characters & events. Had a good discussion.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes

An easy read. Although I did like the book (it had an interesting storyline), I felt there were many parts, especially the CeeCee section that were poorly written. It was hard to feel alot of sympathy for many of the characters. Some actions of the characters were not explained (i.e. girlfriend's suicide); the ending was unconvincing and too neatly tied up.

 
Unconvincing, Poorly Written, Confusing
How the Garcia Girls Lost Thier Accents

It definitely had potential, but I thought the sequencing led to confusion and boredom. If she had started with the last quarter of the book to set up the story & then go backwards; it all would have made more sense and understanding of characters & action. I was very disappointed

The Peach Keeper: A Novel by Sarah Addison Allen
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Romantic, Beautiful
The Peach Keepers

A lovely story and quick, easy read. As with all of her books, a little magic & whimsy provides additional interest.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy, Baroness Orczy
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Romantic, Adventurous
The Scarlet Pimpernel

A light romantic adventure novel written in 1905 and set at the time of the French Revolution. A couple of our members thought it was a slow start but enjoyed the book once they got into it. Despite the "lightness" of the writing there was plenty to discuss about the setting, story and characters.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Killing Lincoln

Thoroughly enjoyed this telling of the story. Tension from the very beginning, read like a novel. Engages the reader throughout despite knowing "the story". Excellent!!

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Beautiful
The Red Tent

Fascinating re-imagining of the life of Jacob and his wives, told through the eyes of his only daughter, Dinah. The author goes further in creating a whole storyline for Dinah after parting from her family. Interesting details of life in Old Testament biblical times. Relational motifs especially among women. Worth the read.

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Dramatic, Informative
Unbroken

An amazing story!!! Another truly incredible telling of the resilience of the human spirit. Almost like reading 3 books in one: the story of growing up and athletic achievements; the war experience; and his integration back into society upon liberation. Although I read alot of history, there is always something new to learn and this does not disappoint. It could be difficult to read at times r/t atrocities perpetrated by the Japanese military personnel and had to take some "time off" from reading it periodically. Well worth keeping at it.

 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Insightful, Inspiring
The Samurai\\\'s Garden

One of my favorite books. Lyrical prose, delicate in presentation, heartfelt story and complex, intersting characters

The Paris Wife: A Novel by Paula Mclain
 
Interesting, Informative, Insightful
The Paris Wife

The 8 that gathered to discuss this book were all in agreement- boring at times & had to force oneself to finish the book. There si certainly plenty to discuss. Heminway was completely unsympathetic as were many of the other people in the book as they drifted through life in an apparent acoholic haze! The last couple of chapters were probably the best written & interesting of the whole book. Very disappointing overall

The Lace Reader: A Novel by Brunonia Barry
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dramatic, Confusing
The Lace Reader

A slow-paced drama set in Salem MA. yet the last 50 pp is a wild ride, and unveiling of secrets. Wonderful description of the locale, some history thrown in also, interesting characters, wounded souls, empowered and vulnerable women, domestic violence/sexual assault...what one does to survive both physically & mentally. Stick with the journey, it\\\'s worth it.

The Kitchen House: A Novel by Kathleen Grissom
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
The Kitchen House

A thoroughly engrossing, although tragic, story set in the South on a plantation. Orphaned young white girl is brought to plantation by the owner and made to work and live with a slave family. Very complex characters & relationships. Twists & turns to the story. Deeply moving.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Beautiful
The Distant Hours

I enjoyed the lovely descriptive writing, but admit it could have been 200pp+ shorter!!! Very interesting story & characters. The last 150pp flew as all was revealed.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
 
Book Club Recommended
Scary, Adventurous, Brilliant
Fingersmith

If you like Dickens, solid writing and a story with twists & turns throughout, you will love this book. Set in London/England during Victorian times, a plan is being formulated to bilk a wealthy man out of his money. Although there are lots of characters, it focuses on two girls- the "heiress" and her maid. The book can be slow in parts but the reader will be rewarded for sticking with it. It's a con gone in unpredictable directions.

 
Beautiful, Romantic, Insightful
The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

I think this book would fall under the genre of magical realism or fairytale. There is a beautiful love story here, and some lovely writing. However, I thought the characters, motivations, & cultural underpinings needed to be fleshed out more. I was left with too many questions and parts of the story were tedious. I would have loved more historical detail also. So overall, a little disappointing.

Bel Canto (P.S.) by Ann Patchett
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Romantic, Slow
Bel Canto

Brilliant writing, wonderful character transformation during a 4 month hostage crisis. The story focuses on the relationships that develop between hostages, and hostages & captors. How we communicate is also highlighted as many of the hostages are form different countries with limited language skills. I will say our book club was split between those who really were taken with the writing and those who thought it was just TOO SLOW, losing interest easily.

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