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Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Dark
Literary

Shades of Hamlet! What a powerful story... beautifully written. Might be too long for the taste of some readers.

Same Kind Of Different As Me by Ron Hall, Denver Moore
 
Inspiring, Insightful, Life Changing
Could skip this one!

Just don't bother unless you are feeling a great need to spend more time in Sunday School. The book is preachy and self-congratulatory in a way that casts a shadow on faith-based charity. Not my cup of tea at all! There are far better inspirational books out there.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Dark
Terrific mystery!

Has a Jane Eyre quality but is appealing to the contemporary reader as well. Great fun!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Fun, Interesting
Sets the stage for a book club plus history!

Our group really enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society! It made for a great first read of the year.

Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Insightful
Little-known page of WWII history

The Vel' D'Hiver roundup of Jews in Paris has not made its way into many history textbooks, so this novel was illuminating for our book club readers. Discussion was excellent!

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Brilliant
Magnificent Puzzle

 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Interesting, Insightful
20 Years

Two lost young Brits somehow maintain a long-term connection despite setbacks and side trips. Emma and Dexter may have been meant for each other, but they waste years avoiding the main tasks of emerging adulthood: committing to a love relationship and finding meaningful work. It's their journey that makes up most of this story. The book is not for everyone -- some readers couldn't stomach the very obvious flaws in these two characters. But I felt sorry for them and hoped for some kind of mutual redemption. You'll have to decide for yourself if that happens.

Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
Story of Survival

This is the most amazing story I've read in a long time! The voice of Jack, a five-year-old who has never left the room where he and his mother are held captive, is completely convincing. I read it in a single day because I just could not put it down until I knew what happened to the two central characters. This book is simply brilliant!

 
Fun, Inspiring, Optimistic
Not so great for discussion

Our club members found this book so shallow that it did not sustain their interest. It might be interesting for younger readers.

The Kitchen House: A Novel by Kathleen Grissom
 
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
Frankly, My Dear, There's Too Much Melodrama in This Plantation Story

This first novel could have used less plot and better writing. The reader is propelled from one tragic episode to another, and characters are cardboard cutouts whose actions are often inexplicable. The novel's minimal dialogue contributes little and Lavinia's voice is inauthentic. Events lack a historical or geographical context (naming a city is not a context, my dears) and details to flesh out the plot are missing. The tired old soil of the antebellum South has been tilled many times before, often better. It would seem the author rushed to tell the story and get it published. It does succeed in engaging the reader but otherwise is not worth your time. A better book club selection would be Gone With the Wind. I hope Grissom will step off the publishing merry-go-round and write a good book.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Insightful, Interesting
Not Just for High School

This 2011 Big Read selection is timeless in its themes of status-, wealth-, and love-seeking as motivators. Over a summer in the 1920's, Fitzgerald's unforgettable characters slowly move toward tragic outcomes as a result of their misplaced values, and are forever captured by his flawless prose. If you've seen either of the movies, don't imagine that you've had the full experience. This story must be read in its original form if it is to be fully understood.

 
Dramatic, Interesting, Dark
Not Conroy's best

I would recommend The Great Santini over this one -- Pat evidently has not enforced writerly self-discipline.

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