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

I loved this story. It takes place in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi. Skeeter Phelan comes home after graduating from college. All of her friends are married and starting families. She wants to be a journalist. She is advised to look for a topic that is different, thought-provoking. So, Skeeter begins to observe her friends and their interactions with their black maids. She decides to try to interview maids and write a book about their stories (good and bad). This is a dangerous undertaking for both her and the maids. They could lose everything, but they could also make a difference with the interactions between blacks and whites. Excellent book. A page-turner.

The Saffron Kitchen by Yasmin Crowther
 
Book Club Recommended
Slow, Informative, Beautiful
The Saffron Kitchen

Maryam returns to her homeland of Iran after being disowned by her father and spending her adult life in London. She leaves behind her London family to find herself and the life she lost.

The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Romantic, Inspiring
The Last Song

As usual, Nicholas Sparks delivers a sad, but touching love story. It's a story of two children who reunite with their dad after years apart and a story of a young girl falling in love. Sweet, beautiful setting, bittersweet ending.

Eclipse (Twilight, Book 3) by Stephenie Meyer
 
Book Club Recommended
Boring, Adventurous, Dark
Eclipse

I'm a sucker (no pun intended) for the Twilight series books. This is book 3 and I was glued to it for five days. It is a gut-wrenching story and features Bella's torn heart between Edward and Jacob. It was a great story, but left me with a sadness inside. I couldn't resist starting the next book the very next day and probably won't come up for air for a few more days!

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Dramatic, Romantic
Breaking Dawn

I'm actually sad to write this review because it means that I have finished reading the Twilight series. Breaking Dawn proved to be everything I hoped it would be. After finishing the previous book, I just wondered how everything would be resolved so that everyone would be happy. (I'm such a sucker for happy endings.) I loved this book. So many unexpected twists and turns and the the happiest of endings for Edward and Bella.

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Informative, Interesting
Geography of Bliss

This book starts out a little slow, but is quite funny and informative about life in several different countries. It made me really think about this concept of "happiness" and brought me to the understanding that happiness is a temporary thing that is determined by outside forces. It is contentment or having a meaningful life that is far more important than being "happy."

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

This is a tough book to review because it has a surprise ending and I wouldn't want to spoil it for future readers. In a nutshell, though, Towner Whitney returns to her hometown of Salem after the death of her great aunt. In Salem she is faced with the truth and memories of her traumatic childhood.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Adventurous
Even Silence Has an End

This was a difficult book to get through, but for good reason. It is the story of Ingrid Betancourt who spent six years as a prisoner in the jungles of Columbia. The story was repetitive—awful experiences, try to escape, get captured, awful experiences, try to escape, get captured. But it was true and that's how her life was for so many years. Not an easy read, but interesting and leads to good discussion.

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Optimistic, Inspiring
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

This is a sweet story of 12-year-old CeeCee who, after growing up with her mentally ill mother, goes to live with her great aunt in the South after her mother dies. The characters are quirky and funny and they all envelop CeeCee as she heals from her early years and begins to start a new life.

Into the Beautiful North: A Novel by Luis Alberto Urrea
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Adventurous, Interesting
Into the Beautiful North

This was a fun book with great characters. Even though the book was mostly light and fun, it inspired great discussion about the realities of illegal immigration.

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

While this is a pretty dark story, it is another very informative and thought-provoking book about the holocaust.

People of the Book: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
People of the Book

This was a fascinating book about the history of a Jewish document, how it was created, whose hands it fell into, etc. Inspired some great conversation.

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
 
Book Club Recommended
Dark, Dramatic, Interesting
The Reliable Wife

This book was somewhat dark, but had a nice ending. It led to great discussion in our group.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Informative
Part-Time Indian

I wasn't sure I would like this book, but I did. It's written from the standpoint of a 14-year-old boy, so there is some juvenile humor, but it shed light on some pretty intense cultural issues and led to a lot of lively discussion in my book club.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
 
Insightful, Interesting, Gloomy
Olive Kitteridge

This was a hard book to rate. I didn't hate it, but I also didn't like it a whole lot. Most of the time, I couldn't figure out where it was going. For book clubs, this wasn't a bad choice because it generated some good discussion about people, life, relationships, etc. I think I enjoyed our discussion more than the book. Hard to believe it was a Pulitzer Prize winner.

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

Gosh, I liked this book. So much different from others I've read and a great historical fiction novel that led to some really terrific discussion.

The Lifeboat: A Novel by Charlotte Rogan
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Poorly Written, Insightful
Survival in a Life Boat

This is an interesting story of what 40 people do to survive in a life boat after the sinking of their ship. It wasn't my favorite book ever, but it was definitely interesting.

The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Insightful, Interesting
The Dry Grass of August

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Difficult, Dramatic
Overcoming Oppression

This was a difficult book to read, but one I knew I should read. Leymah overcomes adversity to rally her people to oppose and finally put an end to war in Liberia.

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Fun, Insightful
Quirky and Fun

This is a story of three sisters, very different from one another, but deeply connected. Their family interactions were interesting and fun.

Flight Behavior: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Interesting
Migrating Monarchs

When thousands of monarchs change their migration pattern and settle in a small town in Appalachia, life for Dellarobia changes. She learns about the dangers of climate change on the butterflies, but also gains insight to the direction of her own life.

After the Rain by Karen White
 
Book Club Recommended
Coming Full Circle

This is a rather simple book, but a fun read. While it is not a terribly heavy story, it does have some interesting themes for discussion.

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

This book was a pleasant read, but there's not a lot to it. A bit of a mystery, a little bit of romance, a happy ending. Not the most thrilling book, but it wasn't a waste of time.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dark, Beautiful
Surprisingly Good

I really wasn't interested in reading this book when it was chosen for my book club. Even downloaded the audiobook because I thought it would be easier to get through. After all that, I really loved this book. Very touching, insightful, and heartwarming in the end.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Adventurous
Forgotten Garden

I really enjoyed this book from the very beginning. It's a mystery in a broad sense, a love story in a sense, a tragedy in a sense, and tale of discovery. It was just extremely intriguing and kept me interested from beginning to end.

 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Interesting, Adventurous
Realistic Fairtale

This was a very interesting book about a childless man and woman who make a child out of snow. Then the child comes to life. In some ways she seems real. In other ways she is like an illusive child from a fairytale. Set in the Alaskan wilderness, the descriptions are rich and beautiful. The story is confusing, but not because of how it is written, but rather because of the nature of the story itself. It is a story of finding hope in hard times.

The Lace Reader: A Novel by Brunonia Barry
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dramatic, Confusing
Get Ready to Be Surprised

This is the second time I've read this book. I enjoyed it the first time, but just had to read it again because the ending is a surprise and I just didn't know where I missed the "turn" that led to the ending. Can't give away more than that, but it's worth the read.

The Paris Wife: A Novel by Paula Mclain
 
Interesting, Informative, Insightful
He Was a Creep!

Wow, this book didn't do any favors for Ernest Hemingway. I didn't know much about him before and now my opinion of him has lowered. The author did a great job of telling the story of Ernest's life with his first wife, Hadley, but it was a tough one to read.

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