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Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
Let The Great Wold Spin

Let The Great World Spin: A Novel" by Colum McCann
It’s August 7, 1974, New York City. Philippe Petit performs on a tight rope placed high above the city streets between the World Trade Center Towers. This one event, which actually took place on this day in history, is the touchstone the author uses to weave together this masterpiece of fiction. The novel takes the reader back to the days of bra burning feminists, the remnants of Vietnam, the Nixon resignation, and the infancy of computer technology.

Colum McCann, a brilliant writer, assembles a colorful collage of characters in an allegory of profound depth. He uses pragmatism and poise to demonstrate his piercing observations and his keen understanding of the world. We not only get a glimpse into the life and planning of Petit’s aerial ‘crime’, we also get a peek into the lives of 10 other people whose lives are somehow inter-connected by this one spectacular event. A monk, a prostitute, a judge, a group of mothers who lost sons in Vietnam, and an artist are just a few of the disparate lives that keep the pages turning.


The ‘real life’ photograph on page 237 is quite affecting; a shivering sensation for me. And on page 325, (which takes us to October, 2006) Jaslyn looks at the 1974 photo she purchased at a yard sale. Taken on the day her Mother died, she reflects: “The world delivers its surprises.”…”A man high in the air while a plane disappears, it seems, into the edge of the building. One small scrap of history meeting a larger one.” " …the intrusion of time and history.” ... "The collision point of stories.”

I really, really enjoyed this book. Curiosity kept my interest piqued. This is a book to peruse; one that will permeate your mind; one that will linger about long after the book is closed.

Get it! Read it!
from my blog @ http://www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm

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

The Help” by Kathryn Stockett

I loved this book! I was drawn into it so quickly and so completely, it was difficult to take a ‘time out’ to eat, sleep, or tinkle! I find myself unable to find words that adequately express the beauty that lies within the pages of this wonderful tale. There are no superlatives great enough to describe the unrivaled talent of this exciting new author. For me, it is literary perfection! Perhaps a classic in its infancy.

“The Help” is what I refer to as a “4-H” book, filled with heart, humor, honesty, and hope. If I were able, I would hire ‘sky writers’ to tell the world about this lovely novel. I’d shout from roof tops and mountain tops, “The Help” is a must read; get into it today!

I want to sit in Minny’s kitchen~ listen to her ‘sass’ and eat her scrumptious food. I want to have coffee and conversation with Aibileen~ listen to her stories and grow from her wisdom and inner beauty. I want to hug “Skeeter”~ congratulate her for following her heart and dreams. I want to tell her how much I admire her spunk and spirit; how I am proud of her courage for taking a step outside social norms, all the while hoping it’s all so contagious.

If you’ve browsed my website, you know I’ve been a loyal TaB drinker since the ‘60’s. While I was reading on page 175, and I read the following sentence: “The room is full of cake-eating, TaB-drinking, cigarette-smoking women all about my age.”, I became Ms. Stockett’s greatest fan. I was thrilled at her authentic representation of TaB during its infancy.

“The Help” is Ms. Stockett’s debut novel and she is a marvelous talent. I have no doubt it will be the best book of 2009. I’m sure it will one day be a blockbuster hit on the big screen as well.
GET IT! READ IT! LOVE IT! KEEP IT!!!
(from my 'book bagg' at http://www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm )

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

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: A Novel" by Stieg Larsson

Wow! What a wonderful book! My friend, Debbie, chose this book for book club and I loved it! It is an intelligent and ‘addictive’ crime thriller which grips the reader on page one. I must warn readers, however, to carve out a space in time for reading this captivating tale, because nothing else will be accomplished once the book is open. Ask my husband; I did not cook, I did not clean, I did not speak! All I did was read, read, read, and read some more!

Mikael Blomkvist is hired by Henrik Vanger to investigate the 1966 disappearance of his niece, Harriet. The investigation is done under the guise of writing the Vanger family history. Mikael is a financial journalist, an all around good guy, and one who protects the privacy of his sources. As the story proceeds, his life and investigation becomes entangled with the unique and complex Lisbeth Salander. Lisbeth is a thorough researcher and genius hacker who is ‘her own person’. The author did a marvelous job of vividly describing her charm and complexity as well as her tattoos and body piercings.

Sweden has brought us Ingrid Bergman, Bjorn Borg, ABBA, and now, an author extraordinaire, Stieg Larsson. Mr. Larsson has passed on, but he left behind three unpublished books, and this is the first of the trilogy.
If you enjoy crime thrillers, digging into the cold case process, and lots of twists, turns and surprises, this book will thrill you without insulting your intelligence. It is total satisfaction!

Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Insightful, Interesting
Little Bee


“Little Bee”, by Chris Cleave

When you pick this book up while browsing in your favorite book store, you’ll open it and read the inside flap of the dust cover. Here, nothing is given away; the author and publisher provide just enough information to pique your interest. So, I’m going to follow suit because “the magic is in how the story unfolds.”

I will tell you it is about two women from two completely different worlds. They meet on a beach in Nigeria under extraordinary circumstances. Two years later, they meet again in London, after a long and exhaustive search by one for the other. The chapters of this book are narrated by both women in alternating style, and the story is filled with plenty of ‘gasp’ moments.

The author, Chris Cleave, is a man of remarkable talent, and it surprises me that the men in this story are weak, selfish, and sly, while the women possess strength, courage, insight, and the capacity of stamina. They are extraordinary.

I have never read a book quite like this and I’ll tell you, the ladies and their stories are quite affecting. It is a feat of remarkable strength, and a mesmerizing work of art.

(from my 'book bagg' blog @
http://www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm )

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Fun
What a Treat for Bibliophiles~

"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

What a treat for the bibliophiles of the world. This novel, beautifully written in epistolary form, gives us a peek at life in Guernsey, on The Channel Islands, while under the German Occupation during World War II.

The characters in this novel are quirky and lovable. We are able to observe just how the power of books enables these lively characters to transcend the barriers during a time of war.

While reading this book, you will discover the importance of friendship and the human spirit that connects us to one another. You will see how during the good times as well as the tougher times, we get through it all so much better with humor and optimism.

My favorite character in this book is Isola Pribby. She is one original piece of work, yet we’ve all known someone like her. She’s a ‘hoot’ and just thinking about her brings a smile to my lips!

Please, pick up this book that you cannot put down! Get it! Read it!!

(from my 'book bagg' blog @
http://www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm )

Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Insightful
"Desparately Seeking Sarah"

“Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana De Rosnay

“Sarah’s Key” will unlock and open your heart and soul in ways they’ve never lain open before. I embrace this book which so vividly transports the reader back to a time we must “Remember. Never Forget.” This novel tells two stories, about two women, who live in two different worlds.
We meet Sarah, a ten year old girl whose innocence is shattered by tragedy in July, 1942. We meet Julia as she approaches mid-life when she discovers a 60 year old secret, in May, 2002. The novel is delicately written and each chapter about Sarah is written in an ‘old world’ typeface font, while chapters about Julia are written in a modern-day font. I sat, riveted, as Julia began desperately seeking Sarah.

The story not only portrays Sarah and Julia, but is also a portrait of France and its behavior toward French Jewish families when France was under German Occupation during World War II. “Sarah’s Key” is historical fiction at its finest. This is one emotional frenetic book, full of shocking details and horrifying incidents. It places the reader in morally challenging positions as bigotry, collaboration, hatred, indifference, fear, and most of all, helplessness are observed.

“Sarah’s Key” is one excellent and thought provoking novel. Open this book and you explore the good, the bad, and the ugly that exist in the real world. This is a story that will remain ‘locked’ in your memory banks always. Get it!! Read it!!!
(from my 'book bagg' blog @
www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm )

Loving Frank: A Novel by Nancy Horan
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Dramatic
Loving Frank

“Loving Frank” by Nancy Horan

I loved this exploration into the lives of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah B. Cheney. This novel is a work of fiction that intertwines fact and the many unanswered questions of the often dismissed “scandalous” affair between the famous architect and his intellectual and independent lady friend.

Ms. Horan’s meticulous fact finding mission combined with her seemingly accurate historic imagery, make for one great read. I knew little of Mr. Wright and nothing of his mistress. Needless to say, I could not turn the pages fast enough!

This is not really a romance, but a story about love; Mr. Wright encouraged Ms. Cheney to pursue her passions and independence, while she was always supportive of his every endeavor. Once you plunge into this tale you will find yourself totally immersed until the last word has been read. Get this book! Read it!!

(from my 'book bagg' blog @ www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm)

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Interesting
Lovely

“Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel” by Lisa See

Enticing! I bought this book because it was pretty! Lucky for me, this book, judged by its cover, was a good one. Ms. See has written a lovely story about life long friends, Lily and Snowflower. Because it takes place in early 19th Century China, we are exposed to the many rituals, customs, and ceremonies of the women in this culture. Because of the rigid codes of conduct for the women of this time period, we learn of their secret written code known as “NuShu”, which dates back 1,000 years.

We feel the pain of food binding and learn why it was a custom: “Only through pain will you have beauty. Only through suffering will you have peace.”

This beautifully written novel will touch your heart, educate your mind and remain in your memory for years to come.

Get it! Read it! Devour it today!!!
(from my 'book bagg' blog @ www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm)

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Informative
One Thousand White Women

“One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd” by Jim Fergus

It is fascinating to me that this novel was written by a man! It is a work of fiction but the book’s premise is based on the true 1854 “pact” between Cheyenne Chief Little Wolf and the U. S. Government: “An exchange of 1,000 white women to be brides of Cheyenne Warriors for 1,000 horses for the U. S. Calvary. To Chief Little Wolf, this was the only way his “people” could assimilate into white man’s society.

Mr. Fergus writes with such insight into the perceptions of women, their strength and emotions. This is an action adventure and love story. It is a tale of a group of women who are “outcasts” in white society. Together, with their determination to overcome the odds, they finally regain their freedom. Get it! Read it! You’ll surely love it!
(from my book bagg blog...www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm)

The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Inspiring, Dramatic
The Glass Castle

“The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls

“The Glass Castle” is a memoir unlike any other I’ve read. Once you open this book you will find yourself so completely enthralled, you won’t be able to put it down until you’ve read the last word. The author writes about her upbringing as an adventure. Not only were her parents non-conventional and non-conforming, they were also extremely motivated by ‘whims’. They had a knack for making their hardships feel like adventures. Even when they lived in squalor and experienced hunger on a daily basis, there was always humor and hope, magic and love.

Even though her parents were a bit ‘eccentric’, they did expose their children to music and art, principles and values, freedom and pride, and self worth. The children never felt like victims until they were teenagers, when they developed a plan to ‘escape’ life as they knew it. This memoir is written with love and respect for her parents and is a true testament to the courage and determination of the author and her siblings to ‘make it on their own’. I loved this book; it held me ‘spellbound’. According to the author, the books title, “The Glass Castle”, could mean ‘hope for the future’ or ‘drunken promises’, and she let’s you decide what, exactly, the title means for you.
Get it! Read it! You won’t be sorry!
from my book bagg blog @ www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Dramatic, Interesting
As Colorful as a Circus Tent

“Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen

As colorful as a circus tent! I loved the circus lingo…the quirky characters…the little bits and pieces of circus life… Rosie, the onerous elephant….and I adored Jacob Jankowski, the story’s protagonist.

We meet Jacob as a young man, just “one exam” away from being a Veterinarian. After a tragic event, he hops a train (haven’t you always wanted to do that??) and joins the circus. We meet Jacob again as a 90 something year old nursing home resident. The story is told from both vantage points: Jacob, the young man and Jacob, nearing the end of his life. An ingenious way to tell a story.

So, “All Aboard!! Hop on this circus train, sit back and enjoy the ride! You’ll love the ending! Hurry…Get it! Read it! Word on the street says it’s being made into a movie. I’m so curious as to whom will play the character’s of Jacob Jankowski! Enjoy
(from my book bagg blog @ www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm)

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Insightful, Beautiful
I loved Enzo <3

The Art of Racing in the Rain” ~ by Garth Stein

First of all, I want to thank my “best book budd”, Kathy, for telling me about this book! “You sure know how to pick’em, Kath! Thanks!” ~ ‘bark-bark’ ~ :)

I’ve never understood all the hoopla surrounding race car driving. Drivers flirting with danger, crashes, the smell of burning rubber, all the noise, and the ‘need for speed’! But what I do understand is the immediate ‘need for speed’ to rush out and BUY this book. It’s one you’ll want to keep. It’s one that will leave paw prints and tire traks all over your heart!

The narrator is Enzo. He’s a dog, a lab-terrier mix, chosen as a puppy by Denny, his ‘alpha-human’ master. It’s a story of their life together, into which much rain will fall. Together, they steer the course through an intricate maze of unforeseen circumstances.

Enzo has a spirited personality and is ‘pedigreed’ narrator. He is a wise old soul; a philosopher, whose intellect develops through his perceptions. All Enzo has are his senses; his abilities to see, hear, feel, taste, and smell. He is frustrated by his speechlessness and decides it is necessary, at times, to make good use of his gestures. My favorite of Enzo’s gestures occurs in Chapter 49. Denny is about to do the unthinkable….to give up! When the ‘zebra appears’, it is then Enzo decides he must do something, anything, to prevent Denny from making this ill-fated decision. Enzo makes the snatch, and the chase, the lunge, the leg-lift, and the laughter ensue, causing Denny to snap back to his senses. It’s one great scenario, created by this gifted author! ‘Two barks’ for you, Mr. Stein, and this wonderful story!

The book is a pure delight. It’s also full of wisdom. The one ‘tidbit’ that’s of greatest significance to me is written on page 43 as Enzo internalizes what Denny has just taught him: “That which we manifest is before us; we are the creators of our own destiny. Be it through intention or ignorance, our successes and our failures have been brought on by none other than ourselves.”

“The Art of Racing in the Rain” is one memorable, high-speed ride. Sure, there are some bumps in the road; some skids and detours along the way; and at the finish line, change will occur. But, it is one satisfying journey that will leave you ‘panting’ for more. I loved Enzo and I loved this book. ~Hankies required~

Get it! Read it! Love it! Keep it!!!
from my book bagg blog @ www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Adventurous, Interesting
Tingling with Excitement~


“The Girl Who Played With Fire”, by Stieg Larsson

“The Girl Who Played with Fire” is the second novel in which Stieg Larsson couples the wit and wisdom of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. It is another sensational read, one that keeps the reader tingling with excitement, as each page is turned. Salander continues her illicit ‘hacking’ ways when she sees a picture of herself splashed on the front pages of local newspapers announcing that she is ‘WANTED’ for triple murders and there’s a ‘police hunt for her, a psychotic mass murderer.’

Salander then hacks into Blomkvists laptop, finds a message he’s left for her, and their quest to prove her innocence by locating the actual murderer begins. This novel exposes the ‘sex trafficking trade’ in Sweden and is filled with twists, turns, deceit, and betrayal. Much is also revealed surrounding the mysterious circumstances and the obscurity of Salanders past. She is a smart, strong, stubborn, and flawed protagonist, one about which the reader is inclined to care.

If you haven’t read this book or ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, “Why,” may I ask, “are you waiting”? “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”, the third and last novel about Lisbeth Salander, goes on sale May 25th, and I can hardly wait to curl up with this last Salander saga.

from my book bagg blog @ www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm

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


“Pope Joan: A Novel” by Donna W. Cross

OK! I have to admit it now…I did not want to read this book; a book about a female Pope in the Dark Ages???? Really, nothing about it piqued my interest. But, because it was a book club selection, I had to read it. And, gosh, I’m really glad I did. I could not put this book down. By book’s end, I wanted to rush out and buy copies of this book for all my female friends and family members!! Yes, it was that good!

It is “awe-inspiring”….a true inspiration to women. A masterpiece! And I think Ms. Cross is a genius. “Pope Joan” is a fictional account of the widely held belief that Pope John Anglicus may have been a female. The novel represents well, I think, the Dark Ages and what life was like for women. Joan possessed a passion for knowledge and was blessed with a “male’s intellect”…but was “trapped” in a female’s body. The story shows how Joan overcame the obstacles dealt to her and how her quick mind and ambitious spirit allowed her to secretly lead a man’s life.

The portrait Ms. Cross paints of the Dark Ages and the lives of women seems to be an accurate representation of the time. It is a true depiction of the female empowered! Get it! Read it! Feel empowered!
from my book bagg blog @ www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Adventurous
The Forgotten Garden


“The Forgotten Garden: A Novel” by Kate Morton
In a word, ‘enchanting’! I loved this book ~ could not put it down. “The Forgotten Garden” is one unforgettable tale. I was enthralled as “Nell” began her quest to trace the roots of her true identity. It's a fascinating story of past and future; a compelling mystery of one family, their roots, distorted history, and deep-dark secrets.

While reading this novel, I felt like a companion to each of the three determined women, in their own time and place.

Eliza is a free spirit, full of life and imagination; she has a gift for creating meaningful fairy tales.

“Nell” is the heart and soul of her ‘family’ until she finds out she isn’t exactly who she thinks she is. On her 21st birthday, a secret is revealed and she extricates herself from her ‘family’ and is filled with great sadness.

Cassandra is “Nell’s” granddaughter with whom she shares a great bond. Out of love and respect for her grandmother, Cass pieces together the puzzle when she discovers the forgotten garden and unlocks the secret of the book of fairy tales.

Ms. Morton has a great imagination and has spun a most delightful piece of fiction. I was entrapped, like prey, as the network of delicate strands of the tangled web of deceptions became unraveled. Don’t let this one pass you by!

from my book bagg blog @ www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm

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

“The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, translated by Lucia Graves

The premise of this wonderful novel is original and creative. The first line captured my attention: “A secret’s worth depends on the people from whom it must be kept.” I was definitely hooked when 10 year old Daniel expressed his concern that he could no longer remember the face of his deceased Mother. This conversation between Father and son led to a visit to “The Cemetery of Forgotten Books”, where “according to tradition, the first time someone visits this place, he must choose a book, whichever he wants, and adopt it, making sure that it will never disappear, that it will always stay alive.”

The Shadow of the Wind” is one mysterious book within a book, where characters mirror characters. It is a thriller, a mystery, a love story and historical fiction all wrapped-up into one fabulous read.


Mr. Zafon writes with humor and has thrilled this reader with his unusual style. He has created wonderfully odd and whimsical characters. I got a real kick out of Fermin. Get it! Read it! You’ll love it!
from my book bagg blog @ www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm

When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin
 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Insightful, Beautiful
When Crickets Cry

“When Crickets Cry” by Charles Martin

In a word, charming! My heart was touched on page one of chapter one, when I met Annie, a delightful “seven year old in a yellow dress selling lemonade in a sleepy southern town,” I was captivated. This is by far the most heart-warming novel I have ever read. I read it on a lazy summer day and it shall forever linger in the recesses of my mind.

Get it! Read it! Annie’s spirit is contagious! You’ll love it!
from my book bagg briefs @ www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books/htm

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
 
Book Club Recommended
Dark, Adventurous, Informative
Child 44

Child 44” by Tom Rob Smith

“Child 44” is a debut novel by British Author, Tom Rob Smith. It is historical fiction based on the 1950’s Russian serial killer, Andrei Chikatilo, also know as “The Rostov Ripper”. This book is gripping, intense, and down right bone chilling! It is a completely original piece of work and is masterfully penned by Mr. Smith. The reader is immediately absorbed in this action-packed thriller. The story takes place in the 1950’s Stalinistic Russia at a time when people were controlled by fear. The reader is witness to the best and worst of humanity, and is exposed to a “terrifying look at a paranoid world where no one can be trusted.” I read this book at a breathless pace, though I did not want to miss one written word. From cover to cover, “Child 44” is one flawlessly executed novel
from my book bagg briefs @ www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Adventurous
The Historian

“The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova

When my friend Barbara chose this book for our book club, I was horrified! Not only was it 656 pages long, it was about the legendary vampire, Dracula!!!! Not my cup of tea!!!! However, I bought the book and found it to be quite engaging.

The book is a suspenseful thriller, a delightful mystery, and a unique blend of history, travel and vampire legend. Ms. Kostova researched this book for 10 years. Her writing style is unique as she weaves together diary entries, letters, and published articles to tell her story.

I could NOT read this book after dark and often times I felt chills up and down my spine. Reading “The Historian” was truly an experience I will never forget. It may well one day find itself ranked among other great works of classical literature. Ms. Kostova is an extraordinary writer.

Thank you, Barbara, for expanding my horizons! I understand that a movie of “The Historian” will come to a theater near you sometime in the not so distant future! Read it! Enjoy it!
from my book bagg briefs @ www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm

Rain of Gold by Víctor E. Villaseñor
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Adventurous
Rain of Gold

“Rain of Gold” by Victor E. Villasenor

A non-fiction book that reads like a novel. This is a story of a family’s struggle for survival during the Mexican Revolution and their escape to America. The book is written with much candor and reminds me of a folk tale that has been handed down from one generation to another in oral tradition, though it was not.

I “fell in love” with each Grandmother. I love their anecdotes…their timeless wisdom and guidance…their unwavering courage, faith and love….and most of all, I admired their strength! It was wonderful to witness their evolution into the position as the family matriarchs.

My book is littered with “post-it” notes! So many pieces of wisdom to refer back to! It is an adventure in overcoming oppression. A journey that will stay with you long after it’s over. Get it! Read it!
from my book bagg briefs @ www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm

Women of the Silk: A Novel by Gail Tsukiyama
 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Insightful, Informative
Women of the Silk

"Women of the Silk” by Gail Tsukiyama

This is a really sweet book. The author’s prose is both simple and elegant at once. It is the compelling story of Pei, whom we meet at the tender age of 8. She is spirited and inquisitive and is the oldest daughter of poor peasant farmers in early 20th Century rural China.

The story is about Pei’s “unexplained abandonment”, when her parents are forced to consign her to a silk factory and her wages are sent back home to help support the family. We watch Pei’s life unfold and get to “hang out” with her for about 20 years. The novel gives a sneak-peek into the life in rural China, some of its rituals, ceremonies, and the struggles facing China at a time when they are dealing with economic change.

I must say, I was not quite ready for this book to end…but days later, I discovered there was a sequel. “The Language of Threads” continues the saga of Pei as she travels to Hong Cong when China becomes occupied during WWII. May you be compelled to read both of these amazing novels. They will stay with you long after you have read the last page.
from my book bagg briefs @ www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm

Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Inspiring, Interesting
Broken for You

"Broken For You" by Stephanie Kallos

Explore this book and you’ll experience a plethora of emotions. “Breakage” is a metaphor throughout this beautifully written, multi-layered novel. With each new chapter, a life lesson is learned.

You will instantly latch onto this incongruous cast of characters. Each has been “broken” in one way or another. As paths cross and meet, we are able to observe and celebrate the risks and rewards of human connection. Each character has built a ‘wall of protection’. We are able to watch as these walls crumble and lives mesh as they begin to ‘let each other in’.

In a nutshell, the theme of this novel goes something like this:

What is broken can be fixed, repaired, and mended;
What is broken can be reconstructed, transformed,
and made into something stronger and more beautiful.

I was immediately drawn to Margaret when she was told she had terminal cancer. She politely excused herself and walked down the street to the nearby ‘Sweet Shop’. She walked inside, sat down and ordered a cup of tea and a table full of desserts! An ideal way of handling stress, don’t you think? I very much enjoyed what I refer to as the ‘china therapy’ episode! But you’ll have to ‘Get it’ and ‘Read it’ to see what I’m talking about!
from my book bagg briefs @ www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Dark
The wonder of Canines

“The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel” by David Wroblewski

“The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” is a novel for the serious open-minded reader. While this novel entertains and enthralls, it also provokes thought and elicits emotion. This is one deep and powerful story of choice and consequence.

This is the debut novel of Mr. Wroblewski, and his prose is spare as he writes with an understated elegance. I believe him to be a master storyteller who has a gift for seducing his reader into the bewildering world of Edgar Sawtelle, the young mute hero of this poignant tale.

The novel takes a peek into the human heart and all its mysteries. It also explores the canine world and all its wonder. The story realizes the importance of communication and how we try to articulate that which is impossible to convey through language. It then becomes necessary for facial expressions, body gestures, eye contact, and actions to speak for us.

Many have compared this brilliant novel to “Hamlet” and I agree with this analogy. This book will stay in my heart and in my mind for a long, long while. So, if you are looking for a book that moves you emotionally, Get it! Read it!
from my book bagg briefs @ www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Interesting, Inspiring
Bright Idea #101: Read this book!


“The Book of Bright Ideas” by Sandra Kring

Bright Idea #101: Read this book!
Bright Idea #102: Give this book to your BFF!

Reading this book was a pure delight. From the first sentence, … ”I should have known that summer of 1961 was gonna be the biggest summer of our lives.”, ….. to the very last sentence of this sweet novel, …. “That you have to go on believing anything’s possible, or else, what’s the point?”…. I was charmed by this coming of age tale.

Life was simple in 1961: family picnics, fireworks, climbing trees, bicycle rides, roller skating, hula hoops, camp outs, homemade ice cream, and family car rides were some of what we did for fun. This book takes you back to that place in time.

The story is narrated by Button: 9 years old, shy, insecure, mature, wise for her age, responsible, and perhaps a bit lonely. When into the neighborhood arrives Winnalee: 9 years old, spunky, imaginative, spontaneous, carries her mothers’ ashes in an urn wherever she goes, plays in ‘dress up’ clothes, and writes in her ‘book of bright ideas’.

We watch as dull lives become colorful and exciting; as life lessons are learned; and as two young girls, pure in spirit and sheer in innocence, become best friends. Its one summer place you’ll want to revisit.

Part of the fun reading this novel was waiting to see what the next bright idea was, and how it came about. Here’s an example: “Bright Idea #90: After you play beauty shop, your husband might say you look like a beauty queen, or he might just ask you where the Phillips screwdriver is. Either way, it doesn’t matter, as long as your new hair makes you think nice things about yourself.”

Sandra Kring is an incredible writer. She writes this lovely story in the voice of 9 year Button. The following is how ‘Button’ describes the sky, upcoming storm, and her stomach: “….the clouds were piling up like giant marshmallows stacked on a white plate….the sky was blinking like Christmas and my stomach was swirling with scared.”


I loved this book! Get It! Read It! I understand Ms. Kring is working on a sequel! :)
from my book bagg brief @ www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm

North River: A Novel by Pete Hamill
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Insightful, Pointless
North River...a gift from Pete Hamill

“North River” by Pete Hamill

Mr. Hamill is a gifted storyteller. His descriptions of time, place, and humanity are vivid and real. I loved “Snow in August” and “Forever”, (I highly recommend both!) by Mr. Hamill, so I bought this book a couple of years ago, when it was first published. Because there are “so many books and so little time”, I just recently took a day to read it. “North River” is perhaps his most thought provoking and worthwhile read of the three.

The story takes place during The Great Depression years of 1934-1935 in New York City, a Greenwich Village neighborhood. I was drawn into the story on the fifth page when Dr. Delaney arrives home from a house call at 11:00pm on New Year’s evening, finding a baby stroller on his doorstep. As I continued reading, I came across the most profound sentence in the book; one that was at once simple and complex; one that provided such clarity and provoked much thought. On page 46, Mr. Hamill wrote “The cause of death was always life.” That one short sentence spoke volumes to me.

The story is a good one. Dr. Delaney is a lonely man, numbed by the disappearance of his wife, abandoned by his daughter. He is a man who lives by his principles, with great integrity, believing in human goodness. He has a big heart and cares for the indigent. The story is the beginning of the end of his loneliness. This novel so richly captures the essence of the gray and gloomy days of The Depression era, the reader feels the chill in the air, stands in the bread lines, smells the aroma and stench of the soup kitchen, and feels the pain and suffering of those who lived through this time in history. It is a story well worth the short time it takes to read. It is an eye opening ‘history lesson’ from one man’s perspective.
from my book bagg briefs @ www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm

Boomsday by Christopher Buckley
 
Book Club Recommended
Brilliant, Fun
Boomsday...the day the 'wrinklies' retire!

Boomsday: A Novel” by Christopher Buckley

This book is a political satire. Before beginning my ‘brief’ of this book, I must tell you I am not politically motivated, and I’m not a political commentator. I am a ‘stay at home’ Mom whose nest is empty, so I read, I write, I love, and I laugh. I’m not a real fan of satire. I like stories with heart and a bit of depth. That said, I read this book in April, 2008, when my good friend, Ginger, announced it was her ‘pick’ for our book club. I’ve decided to ‘brief’ this book now, because of the political atmosphere in our country. I think we all feel a bit uneasy and maybe reading this funny little book will help….maybe not. It will promote thought.

I reluctantly opened this book during an early spring beach trip with my sister and Mother. They were “curious” about what I was reading because of the outbursts of giggles and laughter the book elicited from me.

Much to my surprise, I enjoyed it! “Boomsday” refers to “the day” the first of Baby Boomers begin to retire and the tsunami of debt to follow. The novel is a political satire that doesn’t lean ‘left or right’. Instead, through his characters, the author pokes good fun at everyone tied to the politics of our day and the circus like atmosphere on Capital Hill. Some of his characters include:

a potty mouth President’;
a jammie clad, blear-eyed blogger;
power hungry, pompous, puffed-up politicians;
a meddling, melodramatic, milking media;
a loitering, loco, lobbyist;
a renowned religious reformer;
a bullish, ‘bon vivant’ billionaire;

It’s a fun little romp about serious issues. Baby Boomers are referred to as ‘wrinklies’, ‘resource hogs’, and the ‘UN-greatest’ generation. Cassandra Divine, the novel’s protagonist, is from the “Whatever” generation, and she light-heartedly suggests on her blog that the U.S. government should provide incentives to U.S. citizens over the age of 75 to euthanize themselves. (called voluntary transitioning) Well, the idea is met with frenzy. The media throws more fuel to the fire and millions of outraged citizens respond; politicians rush about “re-posturing” themselves, and plenty of demonstrations break out on golf courses and retirement villages around the nation.

Even though this is a ‘laugh a minute’ book, it does provoke thought. It shines a spotlight on the concealed scheming of our politicians. It brings to the light of day the enormity of the tidal wave of debt that will inevitably destroy our economy. The novel opens our eyes to the fact that our politicians continue to ‘table’ the social security issues. They have seemingly done nothing to amend or solve the predicament of the social security problems facing both ‘boomers’ and ‘whatevers’. They seem to think ‘slapping on a band-aid’ and hoping for a quick fix will suffice.

This book, although a satire, is an engaging narrative on the greatest challenge facing our nation, our leaders, and their dereliction of duty in real problem solving. This book might not be for those who take themselves or politics too seriously. Otherwise, Get it! Read it
from my book bagg briefs @ www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm

The Girl with No Shadow by Joanne Harris
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting
a delectable treat....sequel to 'Chocolat'

“The Girl With No Shadow” by Joanne Harris

My ‘page turning’ friend, Nan, selected this ‘delectable treat’ for our book club. It is the sequel to ‘Chocolat’, and though it is a bit darker than its predecessor, it is a delicious fairy tale that seduces the reader. I, personally, was drawn into the book during its first pages.

Vivanne Rocher and her daughter, Anouk, (of Chocolat) have reinvented themselves and their lives as they move to a Paris neighborhood and become the young widow, Yanne Charbonneau, and daughter, Annie, along with baby Rosette. They left the magic of their previous lives to become ordinary and accepted, hoping that conformity will bring peace and safety to their lives.

Well, enter ‘Zozie’, along with her whimsical footwear, (especially her ‘magical’ Red Lollipop Shoes) and everything begins to change. Zozie’s larger than life personality brightens their world as she seduces the Charbonneau’s with her vivaciousness and zest for life. This is when Yanne realizes how boring and passive she has become; Annie becomes a bit restless and rebellious; and Rosette’s ‘accidents’ become a bit more potent.

This is a book filled with themes of good vs. evil, deception, and magic. It is mouthwatering good; a smorgasbord of literary confections. Though this book may lack the ‘sweetness’ of “Chocolat”, it is completely satisfying.

Get it! Read it!!

from my book bagg briefs @ www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Adventurous, Brilliant
a perfect puzzle

“Await Your Reply” by Dan Chaon

This is one puzzle that will require ingenuity and patience, but all will be revealed once the puzzle is solved. “Await Your Reply” is literary suspense at its finest. I got all wrapped up in this original and compelling novel during the first few attention grabbing pages. The author, Dan Chaon, intrigued me and charmed me as he led me into a labyrinth of identities he so artfully created.

Mr. Chaon used a trio of story lines to weave together a tapestry of individuals searching for new identities. He scatters small threads of subtle connections among the characters, causing the reader to lose himself within the pages of this book. It is an ‘existential quagmire’ of sorts, where ‘Will overpowers Reason’; where who we are and how we define ourselves comes front and center as the characters ‘reinvent’ themselves in one way or another….or not!

I was mesmerized by the complexity of this book. If you decide to pick it up (and I hope you do) pay close attention to the details. Secrets, surprises, and mysteries are masterfully revealed, leaving the reader amazed. It’s brilliant! I must admit, however, there are still a few little question marks ???? dancing around my mind. I want to thank my good ‘page turning’ friend, Dana, for selecting this one for book club! :) This just might be one book to read a second time.

Get It! Read It!!

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo
 
Book Club Recommended
Slow, Boring, Pointless
Mid-life Musings

“That Old Cape Magic: A Novel” by Richard Russo

In life you can’t get everything you want, but not so with Jack and Joy Griffin. They mapped out their future on a bright sunny day during their honeymoon. They wanted Jack to quit his screenwriting job and secure a future in the world of academia…done! They wanted to move back east…done! They wanted a family…done! They wanted a ‘professor’s home’…done! Then why, oh why, was ‘Griffin’, at age 57, suddenly asking himself, “What do I really want?” When he had only himself to please, he couldn’t make a decision. He was having doubts about his life, his choices, his desires, and his worth. Why was he so discontent?

We spend a year with Griffin, framed between two weddings, one year apart. To the first wedding he totes along an urn of his father’s ashes, which he fully intends to scatter along the waters of Cape Cod. To the second wedding, the first urn is accompanied by a second one containing the ashes of his mother.

The novel is full of musings between Griffin and his Mother and he dwells constantly on his relationship (or lack of?) with his parents. Griffin also ponders his adolescent summers at The Cape and wonders if his recall is genuine or somewhat distorted. The author created some original, hilarious, laugh aloud incidents sprinkled throughout the story as well as some family ‘ties-that-bind’ moments that may or may not ring true to the reader.

I read this book on the beach and that was a perfect paring. All in all, ‘That Old Cape Magic’ is an easy read. There is some depth, however, and perhaps some familiarity, as Griffin comes to realize that happiness is not necessarily a destination. A very worthwhile read~
Get it! Read it!
from my book bagg briefs @ www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm

The Doctor's Wife by Elizabeth Brundage
 
Book Club Recommended
Dark, Gloomy, Difficult
oh my racing heart <3


“The Doctor’s Wife: A Novel” by Elizabeth Brundage

Once again, my book club pal, Barbara, selected a page turning novel that pushed me to a literary genre I’ve tried to avoid. “The Doctor’s Wife” is a psychological thriller that will astonish and surprise the reader page after page. It is an impressive debut novel from Ms. Brundage, first published in 2004. This author has painted a canvas of artfully drawn characters depicting an interesting range of humanity and all its foibles. The characters are flawed beings, each making selfish choices that culminate into the intricate meshing and complexity of their lives.
Annie is the doctor’s wife, a feminist, former journalist, and professor at the local college. She feels emotionally abandoned by her husband.

Michael is a principled OB-GYN doctor, committed to his work, his wife, and his family. He makes a choice that places him in harms way.

Lydia is a loyal wife, much younger than her husband, who’s devoted to Jesus and her evangelical church. She is, at once, fascinating and frightening.

Simon is an infamous artist turned art professor at the local college. He is a bit of a rebel, a non-conforming and controversial presence on campus. He is a man who flusters Annie.

The author tackles some really big issues in this piece of fiction: infidelity, insanity, manipulation, murder, religion, abortion, small town politics, love, family and emotional abandonment. If you are particularly sensitive and easily offended, OR, if you don’t wish to be morally challenged, this novel may not be for you. (There are some ‘x’ rated moments and profane language)

I found this book absorbing and riveting. I was so engaged, I could not stop reading. I must tell you that I’m a bit of a ‘wimp’! When I finished this book, my hair was standing on end, my heart was palpitating uncontrollably, and I was left trembling. The intensity of this book left my extremities weak and unreliable, and the cataclysmic ending jarred me mentally and left me physically feeble

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Optimistic, Interesting
Everything Italian <3

"Playing for Pizza" by John Grisham

You don’t need to love football or even know much about it to enjoy this wonderful Grisham novel. I am a huge John Grisham fan. I have read each and every one of his novels and I love them! This one is no exception.

“Playing for Pizza” was especially interesting to me because it was everything Italian. As I read, I could hear the melodic language and music of Italy. I could smell the food, taste the wine, and see the people celebrating life.

After finishing this fun, fictional escapade, I wanted to ‘hop’ onto the next flight bound for Italy, and I don’t fly!!! If you have a few hours with nothing much to do, pick up this beauty of a book! Enjoy this trip to Italy with John Grisham and his cast of characters. Trust me, you won’t want to leave the intoxicating European world that Mr. Grisham has so deliciously created.
from my book bagg [email protected] www.keepitsimplesweetee.com/books.htm

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