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My Reviews

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
 
Book Club Recommended
Difficult, Boring, Confusing
Screwtape Letters offers so much to discuss!

Our book club had the best discussion ever after reading the Screwtape Letters. The author truly describes people who would be possible subjects for the young devil to convert to the dark side. Unfortunately, many of us saw ourselves in some of the descriptions! Great personal insight and a quick and easy read.
Also, quite humorous.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
 
Difficult, Interesting, Slow
Not my thing

Columbine by Dave Cullen
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Correcting Misconceptions

As the Columbine story unfolded, most if not all of us were taken in by a story created by the media. Much of what we remember about the Columbine incident, the individuals involved and perpetrators was created by the media to fill time during the standoff and is not accurate. A very fine investigative look at what really happened and what the real motives were. As fascinating for it's indictment of the media as for the story is reveals. So much possibility for discussion.

Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie, Bob Mayer
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Romantic
Break from all the serious books - have a laugh!

I did not have high expectations of Agnes and the Hitman. I am not generally interested in reading chicklit. But, it was summer and we were looking for something light. This fit the bill. Funny, full of coincidence, silly in places, but witty in most. Discussion will probably center around believability and "what would you do?".

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Insightful, Beautiful
What is your dog really thinking?

As a dog lover, I am fascinated by the relationships between dogs and humans. The unique feature of this book is that it is told from the dog's perspective. Beautiful story.

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Dramatic, Interesting
Romance and an Elephant at the Circus

I love the current day story of the elderly man, and his recall of his early years as a vet for a circus.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Beautiful, Brilliant
This Must Be the Place

Gorgeous descriptive writing. So vivid. Unusual plot, but definitely a book about characters and their development. Did not want it to end.

Megan's Way by Melissa Foster
 
Book Club Recommended
Brilliant, Inspiring, Interesting
Megan's Way

A mother and daughter as they share the time left before cancer separates them. Secrets and a psychic connection play a role in their relationship. A beautiful story of relationships, family and the secrets that can tear them apart.

 
Interesting, Dark, Dramatic
Did Not Care for the Characters

I am one of those people who hated the Lucille Ball television program. I always felt if she just told the truth, unplugged the machine, etc. her problem would be solved. Same in this book. The secrets kept were kept for stupid reasons. The characters ruined each others lives by keeping these secrets. I just didn't find all this secrecy necessary or believable.

Blood Harvest by S. J. Bolton
 
Dark, Interesting, Dramatic
Blood Harvest - Good to read, not so much to discuss

I found Blood Harvest to be a fast paced, interesting read. The characters were unusual, the situation unusual, and the resolution surprising, but not impossible. As with the prior reviewer, I do not think I could recommend this for a book club as there is little for discussion. We did talk about hypothyroidism and psychiatry, but the discussion stalled.

 
Book Club Recommended
Optimistic, Inspiring, Fun
Redbird Christmas

A sweet Christmas story to give your book club a break from all the serious material we read during the year. Fannie Flagg has again filled her story with wonderful characters living in small-town Alabama. This story is full of humor and heart. Each character has a flaw or two, and several are handicapped in some fashion. Many are stuck in the past. Through the example of an injured cardinal or redbird, and the love of a damaged little girl, the townsfolk learn to let go and to live again.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Dark
Faithful Place

Francis Mackey planned to run away with Rosie Daly from their poor street, Faithful Place, in Dublin 22 years ago. Both come from dysfunctional families which disapprove of their relationship. But, Rosie is a no-show, and when Francis finds a note she has written he believes she has gone to England without him. But, Rosie's suitcase has been located, and Frank (Francis) has learned that no one has ever heard from Rosie since that day. Frank has joined the Guards (Dublin police) and is now an undercover investigator. He returns home to his family to seek answers and closure. I very much loved the characters of Frank and Rosie, as well as the story of their families and what took place decades before. The puzzle is just difficult enough to waylay you on your way to the answer. Fascinating Irish family life. And, just a touch of romance. Fun to discuss.

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Fun
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

This book was enjoyed by all in our small book club. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it and how easy it was to discuss. We see some depths to this title with allusions to the holocaust and the lives of persecuted individuals. It demonstrates that inaction, in some cases, may not be the safest choice to make. And, in some cases, this choice is taken away through the violence of others. We all look forward to the sequel (and we look forward to the movie with Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Peregrine and Johnny Depp as Dr. Gorlan).

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Adventurous
Forgotten Garden

Let me start with my one major negative. Actions taken by some of the characters seemed unrealistic at times. I found it hard to believe some of the motivations. But, when I decided to take a leap of faith and buy into the story line, I became hooked. This is an epic tale of multiple generations of women struggling basically to find out who they are, what they believe, and what matters to them. There is a secret to be discovered, and a quest to solve this puzzle. However, the greater puzzle to be solved is that within each women. So, if you identify the answer before it is revealed in the story, look instead to the discoveries each woman makes about herself, and you will find the true purpose of their quest.

 
Book Club Recommended
Optimistic, Inspiring, Insightful
Thought and Discussion provoking

Excellent book for a book club. The author suggests that giving a small something away each day for 29 days in a row changes your perspective and encourages a more giving and grateful spirit. This makes for a very interesting discussion - does giving change your attitude? does it change your likelihood of receiving? what actually is a gift? is it a gift if you get something in return? should these gifts be given secretly or in contact with the receiver?

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Beautiful, Difficult
Not my cup of tea, but good for book clubs

Although I did not care for the Elegance of the Hedgehog, I believe it offers great opportunity for discussion. I found the characters to be very difficult to like, and the discussions of philosophy to be just a bit too much for my taste. Others in my books club liked the book, but said they skipped over the philosophy discussions!

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Inspiring, Insightful
Mothers and Sons

Two mothers; one who gives up all she has to help her son, and one who gives her son nothing to help him grow; one who has little and keeps it amazingly organized, and one who has too much and hoards it; one who has lived a life sacrificing for others, and one who has done exactly what she pleases. These women come together to clear out the home of the hoarder. They see the world from very different perspectives. Will they learn from each other, or will they kill each other first?

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Adventurous, Informative
The Invention of Hugo Cabret

We have intentionally been selecting children\\\'s books for our last few book club meetings. This title won a Caldecott award for illustration. I felt the story was interesting, the concept unique, and the end result satisfying. The underlying story deals with the early days of the film industry. The use of black and white illustrations gives a real sense of viewing an early film. The characters were well written, with some based on real individuals. Surprisingly for us as a book club, we found lots to discuss - more than usual!

The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
 
Slow, Interesting, Insightful

Happily Ever After: A Novel by Elizabeth Maxwell
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Graphic
Surprisingly fun for the book club to discuss

We were given free copies of this by the publisher through Bookmovement. We weren't really sure about this as it was not like anything we had ever read. But we all enjoyed it and found quite a bit to discuss. It is erotica, but it is also quite funny. The main character is a middle-aged woman with many issues in her life we could relate to.

 
Book Club Recommended
Pride and Prejudice Fan Fiction - Darcy\\\\\\\'s view

It is very fun to read a book written by a man telling the story of Pride and Prejudice from Darcy\\\\\\\'s point of view. This is well written, very well researched, and presents a very believable and fascinating retelling of P&P from a man\\\\\\\'s perspective. Jane Austen admitted she did not write any scenes of men alone or together where women were not present as she felt she could not express the male view. Stanley Hurd has done what Jane could not, while staying true to Jane\\\\\\\'s story, characters, and intent.

Dashing Through the Snow by Mary Higgins Clark, Carol Higgins Clark
 
Unconvincing, Interesting
Not a book club kind of book - nothing to discuss

This was a nice little mystery with decent characters, but with a ton of filler. You can skip through the book quite easily and still get the gist. I would recommend for someone who likes cozy mysteries, but it is not really a book that allows for much discussion.

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

Amazingly beautiful language and an unusual narrator of Death makes this an unusual book. As the Book Thief is from the perspective of the Germans who opposed Hitler, it is also very insightful. Sad story, as all are about World War II, but provides great discussion opportunities.

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Fantastic, Beautiful
Cold Sassy Tree

A story of family, love, romance and reconciliation. Made a very good discussion book.

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy
 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Beautiful, Slow
Vintage Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy writes about ordinary people, doing ordinary things, brought together in ordinary places, but repairing their souls in extraordinary ways. Week in Winter follows her usual method. Each story draws us in and gives us a glimpse at how being together and sharing time heals us. Great opportunity for discussions.

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Dramatic, Inspiring
Losses Often Demonstrate the Ordinary Graces of Life

Beautiful book that pulls you in from the beginning and keeps you at it until you finish. Life is full of pain and loss. It changes us, and we become different people from prior to the loss. One of the things we note are the small things that mean so much to us due to our loss; the small kindnesses, the small bits of wisdom, the Ordinary Grace. Some have criticized the story for not containing a very strong mystery, but I don't believe the mystery is the main reason for this book. The story is about growth and loss and pain and lost innocence. Wonderful story.

 
Interesting, Pointless, Confusing
We all hated it.

Not much more can be said. Several of us found ourselves repeatedly falling asleep while reading. Only one person actually finished the book. We found it absurd and very odd. That in itself is not bad, but it was then poorly executed.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Beautiful, Dramatic
An Amazing Book

I would give this more stars if I could. This is an amazing story of grief, remorse, pain, but also redemption, forgiveness and support. Clegg has written one of the best books I have ever read about what it means to go through loss. I can't recommend this more highly.

The Bridge: A Novel by Karen Kingsbury
 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Unconvincing, Boring
Poorly Written but engendered a lot of discussion

Although I would not recommend this book to a friend to read, I have to admit we got a lot of discussion out of it. We didn't care for the book, and we had to spend some time exploring what it was about it we didn't like. We did not believe the characters and the choices they made.

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Dark
Library of Souls

The third book in the Miss Peregrine series did not disappoint. I don't know if any other book clubs did this, but we actually read all three books together. We all really enjoyed the series. We agreed the first books was the best, but this one was a great finally to the series. At least, I think it ended....

The Rosie Project: A Novel by Graeme Simsion
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Interesting, Insightful
Looking at Asperger's from a different perspective.

We see Asperger's syndrome as a handicap in our society. Told from the perspective of a professor of genetics who displays many of the aspects, this romantic tale kind of puts that on its head. Don is seeking a wife and has created a questionnaire which he determines is a more efficient way to find a mate than random dating. Besides, he doesn't really have the social skills to date. But, then he meets Rosie....

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Dramatic, Brilliant
Complex yet compelling

The Shadow of the Wind is a dark, gothic, compelling, complex, amazing story. Lots to discuss for a book club.

 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Interesting, Adventurous
Snow Child gave us lots to talk about!

Snow Child is based on an old folk tale. Because of this, you have the sense of a Greek tragedy - you can see it coming from the very beginning of the book. And, yet, the book is about living life to its fullest. The writing is beautiful and you have this sense of joy with a background of inevitability. This is definitely a story that allows for a lot of questioning and discussion.

 
Book Club Recommended
Addictive, Fun, Adventurous
First Book in New Series was Fun Read

Our book club unanimously loved Veronica Speedwell in her first book in the series The Curious Beginning. This book introduces us to the butterfly loving Veronica and the mystery surrounding her. Why is she the most dangerous woman in England? Stoker has been unwittingly brought into the mystery but is not willing to let Veronica seek the answers on her own. He knows she is in danger. The two scientists make a wonderful pair and although only a platonic relationship now, there is something building there. This is a very strong first book in a new series with lots of discussion regarding Veronica and the life of women during the Victorian era. The book is fun and full of adventure.

 
Interesting, Confusing, Difficult
No one in our club liked it

This is the kind of book that is supposed to be so quirky and different that it just wows the reader. Well, this reader was not wowed and neither were the other members of our book club. We did not care for the characters and did not really care about the lies they told each other for decades. Not the kind of people we would want as friends and not the kind of people we care to read about. I learned nothing from reading the book that I didn't already know - be yourself, be honest, don't shut people out of your lives, don't expect your marriage partner to be the one to make your life fulfilling - do it for yourself. I would not recommend this book for a book club.

 
Book Club Recommended
Unconvincing, Insightful, Dramatic
Strange but very good

Not all in our book club agreed, but I really found this story fascinating. We found a lot to discuss, however. Under the Harrow follows the recent trend of less than likable characters. Nora is visiting her sister Rachel in the small village where she lives in England. She has traveled from London to see her. When she arrives she finds Rachel stabbed to death. Years earlier Rachel was attacked, and since then has been consumed with finding her attacker. Has she found him, and did he do this to Rachel? Although the book is superficially about the question of Rachel's murder and "who done it?", it is deeper than that. It is about the tremendous anger and compulsion Nora and Rachel share regarding Rachel's attacker and men who rape, attack and abuse women. They abnormally read every news story about a woman attacked, and even attend court proceedings trying to find the man who almost killed Rachel in her teens. Nora intently searches for Rachel's killer, stalking the man she thinks did it, while suffering the grief and guilt she feels. The author twists the story multiple times, keeping you in suspense. There are other abusers and attackers Nora seeks out trying to find the answer. When it came, I personally was surprised, but should not have been. The author gives plenty of clues. This is Berry's first title, but I think I am already a fan.

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Adventurous, Epic
Silly and fun and highly recommended.

Carrying Albert Home is a charming book that is a combination of stories told to Homer Hickham by his parents and a great deal of family mythology. This is southern storytelling at its finest. It is kind of like reading a bit of Forrest Gump and a bit of Fannie Flagg. But is is also its own animal.

Elsie Hickham married Homer senior with both of them knowing she settled for second best. In a move to Florida, Elsie fell in love with a charming, sophisticated dancer named Buddy Ebsen. Yes, that Buddy Epsen. But, he was pursuing a career in show business and left for New York. Elsie returned heartbroken to Coalwood and was convinced to marry coal miner Homer, who very much loved her. As a wedding present, Buddy sent Elsie a live alligator which she named Albert.

Homer, Elsie and Albert made an uncomfortable trio. Elsie lavished all her love on Albert and there was little affection between Homer and the now large alligator. Homer gave Elsie an ultimatum - either the alligator went or Homer did. Elsie agreed to keep Homer, but on the condition they took Albert home to Florida. Thus the title of the book.

Along the way to Florida, Homer and Elsie have many adventures and meet many interesting characters. Hilarity ensues.

Carrying Albert Home is written in the great tradition of tall tales. You know there is the possibility that a kernel of truth is hidden in each part of the story, but it's hard to identify! This is the type of book written with a tongue firmly in cheek. At times it is even a bit over the top. You will smile and smile and occasionally laugh out loud. In our crazy high speed world, this very light set of tales allows you to sit quietly and listen to this southern collection of whoppers. Silly and fun and highly recommended.

The Dinner by Herman Koch
 
Dark, Interesting, Slow

Baby, It's Cold Outside by Susan May Warren
 

 
Addictive, Dramatic, Dark

 
Inspiring, Beautiful, Insightful

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
 
Insightful, Informative, Interesting

This is a book that provides a totally different perspective on Alzheimer’s and dementia since it is from the point of view of the person experiencing the illness. As those in our book club are all in their 60’s, the story may someday be our own. I think this made the book more immediate and important to us.

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