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My Reviews

Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Inspiring
Tainted Memories?

I felt very much for Lily in the first half of the book but lost her in the second, when she appeared to have gone over the deep end with her actions and behaviors. That part coincided with her daughter, who was the main source for Jeannette Walls, having been born and already "experiencing" Lily, and possibly she painted Lily worse that she really was, or at least did not recognize nor describe her reasonable and also emotional sides. All in all, Lily was a very strong, no-nonsense person, who was determined to not only survive but also succeed - physically as well as mentally -, despite her upbringing, lack of education, parental guidance and support as well as the overall situation in the 20's, 30's and 40's. I am planning on reading The Glass Castle, to see how much of Lily's odd behaviors and emotional flatness could have been Rosemary's doing, i.e. her tainted memories of a mother she had problems with, and how much was perhaps Jeannette Walls's writing skills, her failure to better develop her character, even if embellishing. And also to hopefully fill in the blanks regarding Lily's last 10 years.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Adventurous
"Secret Garden" for Adults

This book reminded me a lot of the childrens' book "The Secret Garden", though much darker and more mature. There is beautiful imagery so sometimes too lengthy. The back and forths along the time line keeps the readers attention and interests. The author manages to open many story strings, mix them up into a tangle but manages at the end to straighten out every single one of them, leaving the reader exhausted and at the same time happy, that every mystery, secret and question was resolved.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
 
Adventurous, Dramatic, Interesting
Lethal Big Brother House...

If you like Bladerunner, Big Brother House and enjoy gory video games, this is the book for you. I don't. That's why I found the idea of the book quite tasteless and never got into the mode of not being able to stop reading - on the contrary, I had to force myself to move from chapter to chapter. I don't care for shows, movies, games or books where the objective is to kill the other contestants, especially if they are adolescents, while the world is watching the arena via ubiquitous cameras and the game is controlled for maximum enjoyment of the audience... Sound familiar?

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
 
Insightful, Dark, Interesting
Back to School?

Yeah, it's a classic. But for a book club? Not unless there are 3 months time to read the thing (700+ pages or 34+ hours for the audio version). And maybe I am too much of a Gen X to appreciate this opus - or too much of realist; I found it boring, wordy and quite unrealistic, and not at all inspiring or life changing. I guess that makes me the individualist? ;-)

 
Book Club Recommended
Dark, Interesting, Confusing
Complex and Dark

The reviews I had read on Wicked usually berated the book as being completely different than the musical and horrible. Having read the book and watched the musical, I liked the musical only as a performance but not as the story based on the book as the musical story oversimplified the complex and multi-layered story of the book, took out policital undertones, showed Elphaba as a really good person, and ended with a Disney-style happy ending.
The book ain't so: The first 3 parts are very entertaining, with a not-so-fairy-tale world having been created by the author, and interesting characters. I thoroughly enjoyed those parts, though it was not an easy read, with all the different characters and such a different world. The later parts became increasingly hard to reae because not only did Elphaba become madder by the page (but in my opinion not "wicked"), but also the narration became very long-winded. Nevertheless, I do not regret having read the book before watching the musical!

Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Insightful
background view

Laura Bush provides a glimps into the world of presidency and the white house. Because of her politeness, good heart and also utmost respect for their and her position, she only allows the reader short but endearing insights to all those famous and truly powerful people she encountered throughout her life. She never talks ill of anybody, not even the press, Reed and Pilosi, which in itself is quite an achievement. While reading, I had moments of tears, laughter and also of shouting out "yes, I remember that!".

The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Graphic, Insightful
Suspense

I really enjoyed the story, as creepy as the murderer was. Interesting insights into the mind of people with psychological problems. I only found out after finishing the book that Ted Dekker is considered a major Christian Author. While I didn't notice anything in his writing style or story line where that was evident, I am glad I did not know it before I read the book as I would probably have not read the book as open-mindedly as I did. I did some research and found out that this book is considered a mainstream thriller which I fully agree with.

You Lost Me There by Rosecrans Baldwin
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Unconvincing
The importance of grieving

First off: the story was not what I expected after reading the publisher's notes on Amazon... The book is less about the differences about perception of certain events/scene but about grieving, bad communication and the effects that lack of grieving can have. Victor, the main character, is a scientist with limited social graces and communication skills. His wife Sara was on the other hand an artist, with all the emotions and self-doubts that are usually associated with creative people. So part of the story deals with their rift because of miscommunications and false impressions. Mainly the story is about how Victor never was able to grieve Sara's death, because as a scientist he never really dealt with his feelings. So he repairs the car in which she died after a horrific car accident. He hasn't touched her office. He hangs out mainly with her relatives. And he finally loses it when he finds out things about Sara's perception of him and their marriage.
All in all, an interesting read, insightful, well written, though not necessarily a page-turner.

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Dramatic
Good, but not his best

I've read several of Dan Brown's books, and this is not his best. If one takes out the pages over pages of explanations and ramblings about sybolism and religion and believes, the book would be much shorter than 639 pages. I don't remember this rambling on from the other books: Langdon would explain information on these topics relevant for the task/ puzzle at hand, but not over so many pages. Is Dan Brown now so successful that his editor no longer dares to edit down his work?
Nevertheless, this is a good book for a book club as it allows very interesting discussions about the Freemasons, belief systems, symbols etc. And I can't wait to travel back to DC to check out several of the things he's talking about - even though I used to live in DC and know most of the locations!

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Graphic, Interesting
Do guys like that really exist?

Considering the novel was written by a guy, I am hoping that there are funny, smart, lovable and loving guys like the protagonist, Judd. I was laughing out loud many times while reading the book and though I guessed the outcome quite early into the shiva, I nevertheless enjoyed the journey tremendously.

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Optimistic, Inspiring
Modern Fairy Tale

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is a beautifully written story about a young girl's healing process after emotionally and physcially draining years of family drama, mental illness, bullying and general misery. She learns again to trust, be optimistic, enjoy the world, to be a child. And this transformation is set against the background of beautiful Savannah, southern hospitality and graciousness and strong women. This is also a book a teen can read and enjoy, since it deals many of the angsts teens experience themselves.

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