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Name : Ms. R.

My Reviews

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Fun
A book of modest length offering a lot for discussion

Our club read this book after I had watched the British TV Series, "Island at War". Despite equivalent hardships, the characters in this story have a unique, optimistic approach to their situation.

The Quickie by James Patterson, Michael Ledwidge
Pointless, Unconvincing, Interesting
One book we were glad to finish and move on

An uninspiring writing style, some characters difficult to get emotionally invested in, and a plot that makes for limited discussion.

The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Slow, Romantic
Someone in the discussion who understands the culture portrayed in the book would be helpful ...

The reason I mention this is that the story itself is as simplistic as the traditional values this particular tribe has followed for ions. The story also evolves at a slow pace. As a book leader, I try to create discussion topics or questions on my own and I didn't feel confident that I knew enough about African culture or even my own concerning philanthropy in Africa. However, if someone in the club had relevant experience or knowledge it would definitely spark a lot of conversation. It took me a long time to finish this book because the story does move quite slowly; however, I wouldn't give it up. I'm glad I did not. The last 30 pages are the best part of the book and an ending I did not anticipate that made the read worthwhile.

Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Dramatic, Inspiring
An ending no one will be able to agree on ...

This book generated a lot of philosophical discussion which was a valuable discussion in itself. However, some of the characters and portions of the story seem quite unrealistic or unbelievable when factored as a whole.

One member remarked she felt the author reached a point toward the end where she rushed to finish the book. Although infamous for unusual and often controversial endings, "Keeping Faith" has an ending that doesn't really bring many readers any sense of satisfaction.

The Hunger Games (Book 1) by Suzanne Collins
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Dramatic, Interesting
A book that definitely has me thinking and comparing ...

I found it difficult to pick adjectives from the list I felt matched this book. It's dramatic that's for sure. Since it's a dystopian novel where people in power thrive on control over the majority, describing the plot as dramatic seems too tame.

The book is graphic, but not in what that adjective usually implies. There's nothing explicitly detailed about sex, gore or violence. What I found graphic were the physical, emotional and environmental threats most of the populace in the imaginary country of Panem were subjected to.

Gloomy is close to describing how I felt it was like to be a lower-class citizen in this book. However, there are several characters in the book that seem headed for a more promising outcome by the time the book (or trilogy) ends.

Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Dramatic, Romantic
"Catching Fire" caught my attention

After I got over the initial shock of the premise behind "The Hunger Games" I was intrigued to learn where this book was going to lead me. Ms. Collins interpretation of the reality game theater was very clever and could almost be considered a character because of the suspense it generates for the reader.

Something about the book -- perhaps the maturity in Ms. Collins' writing style, or that the young adult characters have matured, or I could even speculate it was because I was no longer naive about the premise of the "Hunger Games" made this book more enjoyable to read than the first.

The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Insightful, Interesting
No one in our group regretted reading this book

Beautifully written, believable characters, a plot that builds suspense, and a heart-wrenching story. As well as a very believable 13-yr old protagonist. One can't ask for more.

"The Dry Grass of August" isn't laced with the humor found in "The Help"; however, I feel this book is equally powerful in conveying the 1950's culture and attitude about segregation in the South.

Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Romantic
Enjoyable, interesting read with limited group discussion

None of us regretted (or quit) reading this book, even though the plot offers limited discussion if you aren't familiar with early 1400-era history. Despite Queen Elizabeth and King Richard having lived a life always in the shadow of treachery, the first-person narration doesn't offer much suspense.

The subplot about Queen Elizabeth and her mother gifted with "Sight" and the practice of magic/witchcraft is an entertaining aspect of the story.

One criticism some of our members had was the redundancy of portions of the narration or repetitive dialog. One might find both make for a less fulfilling read.

As far as a book club selection goes, if you are looking for an interesting story with limited character development with not much detail about life as a royal or citizen in that era, "The White Queen" should be a successful choice for discussion.

The Language of Flowers: A Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Beautiful, Interesting
A beautifully, well-written debut novel

It is difficult to find fault with this book. Most of our club members read it very quickly because they just had to know how it ended.

We read this book following our discussion of "Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. Although each story is completely different, I think the two books complement each other in some ways concerning theme, occasional writing techniques, and character interests.

Loving Frank: A Novel by Nancy Horan
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Dramatic
A thumbs up from our reading group

Loving Frank was informative to several readers in our group who were not familiar with the life or architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. This well written story generated a diverse conversation about life choices and relationships.

Home Front: A Novel by Kristin Hannah
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Inspiring
The affects of PTSD on our military and their families

Although the book starts out somewhat slow, its pace picks up mid-way. This book would be an excellent starting point to share personal experiences as well as help educate club members who have not been affected by a loved one suffering from PTSD or raising their family alone while their partner serves overseas.

Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dramatic, Adventurous
An amnesiac solving a murder .. interesting premise

Our group hasn't discussed many mysteries over the years; however we enjoyed this book very much. Plenty to discuss comparing social and lifestyle between the Victorian era and now, as well as character development and plot.

Book Club Recommended
Life Changing, Informative, Insightful
A book I will not forget

At first I wondered what the cover had to do with the book itself. What does one do at a wedding? Dance. How can someone forget they are living in a difficult world not of their making? Dance. In 25 chapters, the difficulties endured by the Iraqi population are revealed after the author visited Iraq in 1997 and her return in 2003. Lack of food and just about any basic necessity, medicine, medical textbooks, sheet music, clean water, constant electricity, a steady job, a comfortable home with adequate furnishings are commonplace. The author is able to physically place you visually through her writing. Many emotions surfaced for me while reading this book: sorrow, sadness, hope, pride, shame, guilt, anger, and many more.

Book Club Recommended
Conflicted by secrets, haunted by the past

Despite not reading the first two books in the series first, the story was not lacking because I did not have prior knowledge of the characters or plot. Reading the first two books beforehand will undoubtedly make this book a richer reading experience.

Part of the historical elements in the story are about the establishment of the Catholic and Methodist settlements. Although there is a spiritual influence in the plot, it is not overdone or overbearing. The intention of the author is to accurately retell the lifestyle, culture and history of the French Prairie Country in Oregon during mid-1800s.

There are 12 discussion questions listed in the back of the book that I was not able to find posted on a virtual source.

Because there is potential for a meaningful discussion about this book, I have posted the questions below:

1. What threads did Marie hang on to in her life? Which of the threads served to keep her from getting lost, and which led her astray?

2. What scenes portray the threads of landscape, family, and faith? How do these three threads remain consistent amid the inevitable changes of her life? Do you find them in your own?

3. Which qualities of the character, Marie, are reflected in those of her children? As you think about your own life, which qualities of your mother or father are alive and well in you? Are these characteristics you particularly admire? Have others recognized them? What did your parents do to transfer those qualities to you? What family story do you remember about one of those qualities?

4. Are the threads that sustained Marie different for her as a mother and wife and friend than as an individual woman? Can a woman separate herself from those relationships that seek to define her?

5. Why do you think the former Astorians and others from the French Prairie community chose to bury this Indian woman inside the church rather than in the cemetery where ordinary people and even the priests were buried?

6. Have you experienced a false memory, something that you know did not happen to you and yet you have a memory of it or an event that was later brought to your consciousness by a sibling or parent, which then triggered the memory of the event for you? What were your stages toward trusting that memory or denying it?

7. Did the reading Marie had, the unveiling of her mystery of John, ring true? Why or why not?

8. Did Paul kill Louis Venier? What makes you think that? How does the lack of certaintoy Marie has affect her feelings toward Paul? Toward herself as his mother?

9. Was the French-speaking community of French Prairie safer than the larger outside community, or were they as isolated as they thought from political dissension? What threads bring safety from family conflicts, neighborhood disagreements, changing demographics, or the rumors of war?

10. In fiction, characters are drawn forward by their desires. The quality of their character is revealed by how they overcome the barriers keeping them from those desires. What are the desires of Marguerite? of Marianne? of Baptiste? of Paul? of Francois? of Jean Toupin? Can you identify some of the barriers in their lives?

11. Some say that human desire is the longing for past pleasures. Such desires suggest they are never attainable as they belong to memory and the past. But the proverb reads: Desire realized is sweet to the soul.

How would you define desire? What gets in the way of your achieving the desire of your heart?

12. Did Marie achieve the desire of her heart? Why or why not?

Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Interesting, Adventurous
Marrying a sea captain has its consequences

The story has a slow start, simple in setting and vocabulary. Like others have mentioned in their reviews, the plot thickens in the middle chapters and reading about the excitement, struggle and dangers of life at sea is very intriguing.

Discussion questions are available on the website.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Dramatic, Interesting

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