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Name : Stephanie L.

My Reviews

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Fun
Heartwarming with interesting period detail

By no means a literary masterpiece but craftily done only through epistles and revealing an aspect of WWII in a location we knew nothing about.

Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Fast paced, compelling, and thoughtful

The book raises many questions which made for an interesting discussion, though often no answers. At the time, lacking reader questions for the discussion, we mostly just discussed the issues it raises and our own take on them. I've added the topics we raised in question form below for others.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Insightful, Beautiful
Should be read before "Diary of Anne Frank"

Trying to add something new beyond all the previous praise (which I agree with), I think this book should precede "Anne Frank" because it is fiction so it provides an emotional "out" for those making their first foray into Holocaust fiction. I think it also presents German citizens in the depth and range of commitment and belief in the Nazi proposition. They were not all cardboard stereotypes of goose-stepping monsters & I think that detail is often brushed over and ignored in a desire to simplify what was a horrifying time of complex loyalties & forces. This book really made me think about my preconceptions and how much I had fallen into the same traps of sterotyping.

Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Dramatic, Interesting
Better than expected

We all enjoyed this more than we expected to.

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Dramatic
Great, in the appropriate context

You don't read this because you want to read exquisite literature. But, as a fast-paced thriller with intriguing, fact-based elements, Brown does a great job. Set your expectations for what it is, and then you'll find it really enjoyable. The group gave it 8 out of 10.

Book Club Recommended
Dark, Graphic, Dramatic
With brief scenes of sexual violence, a little over-hyped, but not bad.

Some members were really turned off by the sexual assault scenes. But, most said they would probably read the next two anyway. It was easy to keep reading, but I felt personally, that I could have put it down and not finished it at any time if it weren't for the book club. So, a bit of a disappointment considering the mass hysteria over it.

Brilliant, Pointless, Fun
Sympathetic about the loss but couldn't finish

He DOES have a way with language and has the ability to write, but the self-absorbed, ridiculous, pathetic tale just couldn't keep me to finish it. Half way through I was hoping the book was really going to finally become enticing, but when two people told me the best part was the first half, I was done. Most of the group did not finish it either.

The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dark, Persuasive
Fascinating true story... an interesting tie-in to the Amanda Knox case

This was a quick read that really hooked me. It does make you question whether you want to visit Italy after to you learn how unbelievable and corrupt so much of their legal system is.

Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Graphic, Fun
Hilarious while being thought provoking

Sedaris is not everyone's cup of tea, especially those who are not open-minded or comfortable with the slaughtering of sacred cows as that is what he does best. However, there is a cynical realism in his writing. It may be ugly but you don't doubt you could find someone just like his characters. We always enjoy reading his books and add his new books to our list.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Inspiring, Interesting
A very moving and important story of our past

One of the best discussions we've ever had and a book that really lends itself to thoughtful questions and answers.

A Death in Belmont (P.S.) by Sebastian Junger
Book Club Recommended
Graphic, Informative, Dramatic
Thought provoking and educational

It's hard to say that you "really like" a book about a serial rapist/killer. But, Junger's style and personal slant, combined with his great investigative style make it a fast read and educational. Most members only had ever heard of the "Boston Strangler" and the rest of the story was all new. Ours is a coed book club and we read non-fiction and non-traditional titles.

Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Fun, Insightful
A book club classic! A very beautiful story!

Book Club Recommended
It has dry parts but it offers a lot to discuss

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Dramatic, Brilliant
Wonderful, moving literary focused tale!

Beautiful, Confusing, Interesting
Literary...beautiful language, very little plot, more a character study

I think there is a lot to discuss here but only if people are engaged by the book, which is hard. Her word choices are interesting and her characters are complex...but even after finishing it, I'm not sure her intent or whether I like them.

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Informative, Optimistic
A lush story of complex relationships within families, nature and self

Case Histories: A Novel by Kate Atkinson
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Confusing, Insightful
Not a classic mystery but a literary novel with mysteries

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dark, Boring
Complicated situation story

This book is a little bit like watching a car wreck in action. You can't take your "eyes" off the situation even though you can see that nothing good is going to come of it. With the narrator changing halfway through, the author efficiently shifts your loyalties a bit as you sympathize with both of these daughters and what they want and the reality neither of them chose.

Bossypants by Tina Fey
Fun, Boring, Interesting
Really funny & worth reading but tough for book club

Being humorous and tongue in cheek, we're not really intended to take all her statements serious. Therefore, you end up debating accuracy or attitudes that she probably doesn't exactly hold. It can be done and the conversation can be interesting but it takes the right questions, otherwise you end up just talking about how funny it is.

Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
Great book club choice

There is so much to discuss and many interesting discussions can result. There are several moments in this book that are really pivotal and if one thing was done differently, so much could have been different. With a few plot items left unanswered or unresolved, it also leaves some things open to the reader to decide what they think occurred, adding another line of discussion.

Essentially a personal scrapbook made public

Through post-it notes & postcards, doodles & scribbles, a look at the very passionate love between George Carlin & Sally Wade. Only for real fans. Interesting at first but get's boring.

Book Club Recommended
Informative, Fun, Slow
So interesting & fun way to learn

We really liked this book & learned a lot even about things we thought we knew. A great non-fiction choice.

Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Inspiring, Optimistic
A funny way to get some marriage counselling...

It may be the journal of a husband with Asperger's but there are aspects of every man and every marriage in this story. What is a real challenge to Fincher due to Asperger's can be not so difficult practices for the average couple to instill & keep their own marriage on track. Laugh out loud funny at times. Another great non-fiction read that reads very fast & enjoyably!

Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Insightful, Pointless
Lovely novella about unique relationships & memory

It's a short story but was really poignant & and interesting. Sort of like the movie, Memento, it makes you consider what life would be like if you had only memories of a decade or so earlier and then just a short strip of short term memory constantly moving forward. Imagine waking up like the Professor each day not knowing that it's not still the 1970's and that you won't remember this moment two hours from now.

Adventurous, Interesting, Unconvincing
Great writing but uninteresting & pointless story

Not everyone even finished. No emotional attachment by the characters so we don't really care about them either. No resolution. She has a wonderful way with words, so the potential was there but the story just wasn't engaging.

The Book of Joe: A Novel by Jonathan Tropper
Book Club Recommended
Hilarious with poignant insights

Tropper is kind of the king of these kooky dysfunctional family dramas that are always pretty funny but with touching moments about the pains, slights, & disappointments that occur so often in families and can create such dramas.

Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Informative
Imaginatitve and thoughtful, really fun to discuss

The story is really enjoyable but there are other \\\"layers\\\" and we had some fun discussing the things it said about teachers (real vs playing teacher), about Budos view of the world, especially through TV and how he sort of had the black and white \\\"vision\\\" of kids to see things but not understand things, and then to understand things that adults couldn\\\'t see (the relationship of Dee & Sal.)

The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson
Informative, Slow
A really interesting book but difficult to discuss

It would take the right kind of book club group to be able to discuss this book although it had a lot of interesting facts, it's in the the friendly, sometimes humorous voice of the fantastic Bill Bryson but it is very meaty.

Book Club Recommended
Fun, Adventurous, Interesting
Quirky, fun story

Heavy on coincidence. Full of real people, and historical backdrop. Being somewhat light-hearted, it\'s easy to read it at the surface but you could also judge Allan a little more harshy if you want and talk about some of his not so honest or heroic behavior. The discussion has a lot of room to go in different directions.

Neverwhere: A Novel by Neil Gaiman
Adventurous, Brilliant, Fantastic
Surprisingly unfulfilling and disappointing-It was OK.

Knowing this has a cult following, we went in fairly eager, but we all agreed that seemed like a rough draft. I bet we said \\\"unrealized potential\\\" 10 times. The ground work was there, we kept thinking, it was about to get good. Perhaps this needed to be a trilogy and then blow this thing open. We could NOT see Richard as the great hero at the end, when he had barely gotten beyond whin(g)ing and moaning. It was just so unconvincing, though there were some barely realized characters that were good and the upper/lower London thing was compelling as an idea.

Only for the Academic Set...maybe

A Satire/Horror of Academia, there is a lot of "theory" tossed around and not being "inside", it was hard to tell often where reality ended and the hyperbole began. For those inside that world, hard to say if it would be painfully accurate or satisfyingly malicious. The supernatural aspect was maybe unnecessarily overblown and the ending was WEIRD!!!!!!

Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Brilliant
Relevant & Fascinating book that is GREAT for discussion

Maybe the best non-fiction book I\\\\\\\'ve ever read. So topical, so important, and both revealing but with sensitivity, as well as thought provoking & relatively un-biased. Soloman shows us the pain that so many of these families go through, giving them a voice to express their own perspective, and yet honors them for their courage & love.

Insightful, Brilliant, Adventurous
hard to enjoy, wish I'd like more

Vonnegut's reputation precedes him so you expect to really like this modern satirist, especially if one agrees with the commentary he was running on society & the direction we were/are headed. But, even when I knew he was making a point, & I sensed I probably agreed, his way of making it was still hard to grasp. There is no protagonist to get behind. Maybe that was the point.

The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckey-French
Book Club Recommended
not funny enough for farce, but not realistic enough for serious

It's can be enjoyable, at times very funny though dark & we had a good discussion but it's hard to pick who the protagonist is. Life can be very dark & humor is a way through so the combination of black humor with serious topics was not off-putting to our group.

Book Club Recommended
Fun, Interesting, Insightful

Book Club Recommended
Informative, Slow, Insightful
Fantastic book to discuss

Applicable to everyone's lives, and filled with interesting real life examples & research made simple & interesting. Great discussion topics.

Book Club Recommended
Slow, Interesting, Dramatic
Rich, textured story of a family after a brutal incident

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