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Name : Stephanie S.

My Reviews

Dramatic, Interesting, Beautiful
We are reading the book in three sections so have only read 1/3 of it. So far very interesting.

If this "novel disquised as a memior" can be believed for it's historical content, a lot can be learned about the Japanese culture in general and the geisha culture specifically. This was my first exposure to the world of geisha and I find it facinating. Told from the 1st person, the reader really gets the "down and dirty look" at the society surrounding the giesha. It is really a story of contradictions: slavery/freedom, female dominance/female subservancy, "best day of my life"/"worst day of my life." So far, a great read.

Memoirs of a Geisha Uk by Arthur Golden
A very good book club book.

Our book club read the book in 3 parts. We found many discussion points from many and varied themes. Learning about the Japanese Geisha culture was interesting in itself. After we finished the book, we watched the movie. Of course the book was better than the movie but we thought that having read the book really helped with understanding the movie.

(FYI: We reserved the media room of our local library and were able to view the movie after hours. We all brought comfortable chairs, had pizza delivered and snacked on popcorn and other treats while we watched the movie. It was really fun! Something your book club might want to try.)

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Insightful, Dramatic, Brilliant
A wonderful story of good vs evil that inspires great discussion.

We had book club members who didn't like the book because it was too violent and the ending was not satisfying but the majority of us found it very enlightening regarding the chaos and terror that takes place in the middle east. Many of us had no idea just how horrible living there was. This story really puts a face on what is happening. Even though this is a novel, it reads like a memoir. The writing is superb. The author's descriptions of life in Afganistan during the Taliban reign took the reader right there and evoked a real gut reaction. Some of the members found the descriptions haunting and disturbing, the feeling staying with them long after they read the book. And isn't that the purpose of good literature? Learning, enlightenment and feeling what another person feels. It is a wonderful way to help us understand the human condition beyond our own backyards.

Fun, Interesting, Inspiring
Every one of our members loved the book! The characters are so unique yet so familiar.

Being the oldest in our group at 58, I felt as though this book was the story of my life! Oh, how I remember being a young mother and needing, really NEEDING, my girlfriends. The story of these women was and continues to be played out everyday in every town; women supporting and encouraging each other through life's difficult and challenging times. A timeless story. Landvik uses humor in ways that made me laugh out load. The characters become so real that you find yourself thinking you actually know these women (or at least someone just like them). But just like your real life girlfriends, there is more beneath the surface that you ever imagined! This book had me hooked from the start to the very last page. I loved it so much that I read it twice before our meeting and I learned as much about the women of AHEB the second time as I did the first.

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Insightful, Interesting, Dramatic
Thought provoking, good discussion topics.

Overall, we found this selection an excellent book club choice. Some members found some of the themes to be confusing and it was fun to "talk them out of each other." By the end of our discussion we mostly agreed we liked the book. One consistent comment was how beautiful the writing was. Almost like poetry.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Dark, Dramatic, Gloomy
Father and son find humanity amongst the aftermath of armageddon

If you are looking for a feel good book with sunny characters, this is not the book for you. But if you want to read the story of a father and son's journey through an unthinkable, barren landscape as they discover the humanity and inhumanity in others as well as their selves, try "The Road."

I must admit that some of our book club members hated the book saying it was too dark and dismal. However, during our discussion, we found that the story was not really about the end of the world, but rather a classic father and son tale. If you can get past the horror of the post-apocalyptic world, you will find a tender and poinyant story of a loving a father/son relationship.

Roots by Alex Haley
A real eye opener about slavery in America.

Although there is controversy surrounding the author as to whether this story is fact or fiction, I do think that Alex Haley's story is a true telling of slavery in America and how generations of African-Americans struggled to rise above their circumstances and find freedom in the United States. There is a lot to learn for the reader and it raises many questions for excellent discussions for the bookclub group.

Matrimony: A Novel by Joshua Henkin
Beautiful, Insightful, Informative
The highs and lows of relationships, love and life.

Our reading group received "Matrimony" in a Book Movement drawing. We received copies of the book directly from the author, Joshua Henkin and he was in touch with our group from the beginning. We were delighted when he offered to join our group, via speaker phone, for our discussion. This was a unique opportunity that we took full advantage of. We had discussed the book before meeting with Joshua and we shared with him questions we had about his writing style, his characters and writing in general. It was a wonderful exchange and gave us insight into the story of "Matrimony" as well as the world of writing and publishing. I would recommend this book for it's sensitive and moving portrayal of young love and the complexities of maintaining marital love while being bombarded by the realities of the outside world. Joshua Henkin has a wonderful knack for speaking from both the male and female perspective. This book is worth the read.--Stephanie Skarohlid, Women with Minds Book Club

Tomboy Bride (The Pruett Series) by Harriet Fish Backus
Beautiful, Informative, Adventurous
A woman's memoir of being a new bride living in the mining towns of the American West during the early 1900's

We all really enjoyed this book. The writer gives real insight into what it was like living in the mining towns of the West in the early 1990's. Harriet Fish Backus was quite an adventurous woman and was happy to endure all the hardships of mining life as long as her beloved husband George was by her side.

A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell
Informative, Adventurous, Insightful
Full of good, evil, love, hate, triumph, disappointment and grief

So many good themes to talk about for book clubs. Would be helpful to have some knowledge of WWII but not necessary. The story is heartbreaking yet the goodness of the people of Italy is a shining example of the best of humanity prevailing over the worst.

Funny, sad, touching, ultimately unlifting.

Our members enjoyed this book very much. Written clearly from a feminist viewpoint, it portrays strong women in challenging circumstances who overcome obstacles and come out on the other side showing courage and insight. What sets this book apart from other novels with this theme is the author's skill at making these character come alive and she shows them from from every side.You end up feeling like you really know them. I admit that I especially identified with this story because I grew up in Minnesota in a home with a beauty shop in the same era. My mom was a hairdresser for many years and had clients just like Patty Jane's. We had a German housekeeper who became a second mother to us kids, just like Ione. I feel that I knew all the women from "The House of Curl." I was like Nora, listening and learning from these much older women and enjoyed every minute of it. Lorna Landvik hit it right on!

Slow, Dramatic, Beautiful
A story of a friendship between an odd little child/man and his motherless friend.

This novel,told from the perpective of John, an English teacher in Canada, tell of John's life in New Hampshire with his best friend, Owen Meany. Owen is an odd, diminutive boy with a high voice who sees himself as having a God given destiny that must be fulfilled.

The writing is wonderful! Irving uses many literary techniques to show the reader the complex relationship between the two main characters. He advances many questions about religion, mental health, politics, fate, and more. This book is rich with topics for discussion in any bookclub.

Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Interesting look at America at the turn of the century.

Our group really liked this book. We found it interesting to compare the morals and justice system of the time to how it is now. The role of women in the early 1900's was especially fasinating. We've come a long way, Baby!

Barefoot: A Novel by Elin Hilderbrand
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Dramatic, Fun
Barefoot: A Novel

A novel about 3 women, each with their own problems, who spend the summer together in a beach house. The story is interesting but somewhat predictable. I would consider this a good 'summer, laying on the beach' book.

Run by Ann Patchett
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Dramatic, Addictive
Run: A Novel

The story is of a politically motivated man and his mixed race family as they try to deal with each of their coming of age. The story gets a twist when one of the children is involved in an accident and we are introduced to new characters who change everything.

There are many good discussion points to draw from the themes in the book. We all thought it was well worth the read.

Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Interesting
The Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

Our book club thought this was a wonderful book to read and discuss. It is a story of mothers, daughters, and sisters and how they complete the circle for each other. Set is pre-WWII China and the USA, the historical content was stunning. Many of use did not know what was going on politically in China at that time. Wonderfully written and thoughtfully told by Lisa See.

Moloka'i: A Novel by Alan Brennert
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Inspiring, Interesting
Molola'i by Alan Brennert

We all loved this book. Historic as well as great story teilling. Made us want to learn more about the history of Hawaii. It is over 400 pages but is a fast read.

Blindness (Movie Tie-In) by Jose Saramago
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Brilliant, Interesting
Blindness by Jose Saramago

Our book club had one of our best discussions ever with this book. This allegorical story had different meanings to each of our members. I would suggest that the leader of the discussion find a study guide (I used the one from Grade A online)in order to get some insight beforehand regarding themes and analysis. Don't let the unconventional writing style scare you off. This is a wonderful book with a profound message.

Pope Joan: A Novel by Donna Woolfolk Cross
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Informative, Interesting
Pop Joan: A Novel

We found Pope Joan to be very interesting as historical fiction. Set in the 9th century, the book shows how bleak life was for the poor, how women were devalued, and how corrupt the Catholic Church was. The author blurred the lines between fact and fiction with regard to whether Pope Joan really existed as an historical figure. However, she explained in the Author's Note what dates and events she changed to enhance the story.

Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Dark
Dual stories, both interesting in their own regard. Together, they make for informative, interesting reading.

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

You will get hooked on the characters in this book and want to go out and read the rest of the series. The plot is well developed and keeps you guessing. The murder mystery and multiple other themes make this a great book club book.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Insightful, Beautiful
The Book Thief

I fell in love with the characters in this intimate, sad, horrific yet inspiring story of a young girl living in a small German village during WWII. Amid the blare of air raids and the fear of Hitler's machine, Leisel manages to bring comfort and solice to her neighbors, her best friend, and to the German Jew hiding in her basement. And she does this with books, stolen books. Through the narration by the character Death, we see that even in the face of unspeakable horror, the human spirit can prevail.

Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
A Tale of Two Cities

This was not an easy read initially for some of our members but turned out to be well worth the effort. The tale of redemption set during the French Revolution draws the reader in and the ending ties everything and everbody together. I would be highly recommend 'A Tale of Two Cities' to any book club interested in reading classic literature.

A Salty Piece of Land by Jimmy Buffett
''A Salty Piece of Land' is pure escapism

If you read this book with the understanding that it is a fantasy, you may find it interesting and a good read for escaping to the islands. However, as a book club choice it is a little weak with regard to discussion. I would definitely put it is the category of 'beach novels.' The writing is a bit ragged and plot and character development leave much to be desired.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Dramatic, Brilliant
The Shadow of the Wind

A book within a book, could describe this novel. Set in post-war Barcelona in the 1940's, it is the story of two men who live parallel lives. It has a mystery that is addicting, a real page turner. This translation is from Spanish is very good.

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

Set in the 1960's in Jackson, Mississippi, this novel tells the story of how society was divided by lines--racial, socioeconomic, gender--and how men and women were tragically effected. Although the racial divide is the most glaring 'line' in this story, so much inborn discrimination, whether subtle or obvious, is protrayed that the reader is challenged to look at how these biases continue in 21st century American society.

This beautifully written book will make you laugh and cry. But, ultimately, it holds a mirror up to us, as individuals and as a society, so that we can see both our blemishes and our beauty.

The 19th Wife: A Novel by David Ebershoff
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

This book provided seed for a lively discussion about Mormonism and other organized religion. The blurring of the line between fact and fiction left us somewhat unsure about the beliefs and practices of the present day church but the history presented was very interesting. We found the story of Anna Elisa Young, Wife Number 19, more compelling than the fiction part of the book. A great book club book with potential for great discussion.

Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Informative, Beautiful
The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Everyone in our book blub loved the book. There are many themes to discuss and it provided interesting insight into the lives of Japanese Americans during and after WWII.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Inspiring, Beautiful
The Color Purple

This iconic book has so many themes and so much symbolism that we had one of our best book discussions. This novel is the perfect book club book.

Insightful, Interesting, Pointless
The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.

Our book club was not impressed with the confusing mix of themes of this book. We usually read books featuring strong characters, especially women, and many of us felt that these characters were not developed enough to transform them.

Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Dark, Interesting
Gone Girl

I think this is a good summer read. The writing is very good and the author is very clever with her story telling.

Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Adventurous, Insightful
The Sparrow

This book evoked a lot of lively discussion at our book club meeting. Wonderful writting coupled with thought provoking themes. I would highly recommend!

Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
The Light Between Oceans

We had a great discussion about the characters and events from the book. Refreshing that the author portrayed her main protagonists as people with good intentions but also flawed.

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