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My Reviews

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Dramatic, Interesting
A really good tale!

Most of the members in our club thought this book was a really good story, and several of us couldn't put it down. The details about life in a circus during the Depression seemed to dominate our discussion - we talked about redlighting and jumping on moving trains. The details were fascinating to us, including the story of the lemonade and the visuals that came to mind when reading the first scene with Barbara. Most thought that the author did a really spectacular job of writing from a male perspective. Some members of our group thought the plot tied itself up too neatly at the end, even though we all agreed upon the cleverness of the plot twist at the very end.

Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Insightful, Interesting
Middle-of-the-Road vote for Little Bee

Our book club members were mixed with their reviews. Some really liked the story, but others thought it was rather depressing. Most of us agreed that we didn't care too much for the characters of Sarah and Lawrence. We really liked Charlie and Little Bee. There were some discrepancies in Little Bee's character that we thought were odd, particularly how she became so forceful with Lawrence when telling him her story about Andrew ... no one could figure out why she would tell Lawrence this story. The end of the story as the author wrote it was inconclusive, but it was surprising how six of the eight of us agreed that Little Bee was killed by the soldiers.

Matched by Ally Condie
 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Fun
We Were Left Waiting for the Next Book!

Our book club generally liked this book. We thought it had a slow start, but by the end we were all "into it". Our discussion centered around the Society and how it seemed to be so manipulative. We were all of the opinion that the ending seemed abrupt and unfinished, and it was obvious that there will be a second and/or third book to come. Note to book clubs that this falls under the category of "teen lit".

 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Insightful, Pointless
A Sweet Story

This is one of the sweetest stories I've read in a long time. Don't be put off by the "math" in the story - you will love the Professor, his care and concern for the Housekeeper's 10 year old son, and his mysterious relationship with his sister-in-law. Did I also mention that baseball is part of the story? You will be unable to put this book down.

Sing You Home: A Novel by Jodi Picoult
 
Insightful, Informative, Interesting
Mixed Reviews for "Sing You Home" from our group

Our club members had mixed reviews for this book. Of the seven who read it, two liked it and five did not. The ones who liked it thought it was a good story, liked the main characters and appreciated the controversial topics! The members who did not like this book had various reasons for the dislike: too many controversial topics in one book; the situations seemed contrived; did not like any of the main characters except for Vanessa; the characters did not seem authentic or true to themselves throughout the novel - which leads to the "poorly written" comment; several of the situations seemed stereotypical in their portrayal (right wing religious groups); and, the homosexuality of the main characters did not seem believable.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Inspiring
A Haunting but Inspiring Novel

This novel is ostensibly written for teens, although much of the subject matter would almost be too graphic for young teens and 'tweens. It tells the story of a 15 year old Lithuanian girl who was deported with her family to Siberia at the beginning of WWII. The stories of deprivation and cruelty ring authentic and true, thus leading to the comments regarding wariness for a younger audience. However, there is much inspiring hope and incipient young romance in this novel, too, which brings light to the dark subject matter. I find it to be historically accurate and, despite the heavy subject matter, to contain much hope and love ... "true courage in the face of despair".

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Dark
A Great Gothic Tale

I really liked this book. I thought the plot twists were fascinating; I kept trying to figure out exactly what was going on! I did figure out the secret before the author revealed it, so that was fun .... this book isn't too "long" on character development but it certainly has a great story. The only complaint I have is that the narrator's story was not fully developed; I was left wanting "more" from her story. But the main characters of the book were fascinating, interesting and all together engrossing.

 
Gloomy, Dark, Interesting
A very literate, well-written but ultimately depressing tale

"Caribou Island" is undoubtedly very well written. The characters are authentic, the descriptions of the scenery are very poignant and realistic, and the symbolism of the cabin as it relates to the failed marriage is really quite striking. The juxtaposition of the failing mother's marriage with her daughter's engagement is very clever. However, despite the fine literary crafting of this tale, the story itself is dark, depressing and somewhat horrific. I didn't like one single character in this novel, with the exception of perhaps Rhoda - and all I wanted to tell her to do was "Get a life and dump Jim!" Don't read this if you want to be uplifted or inspired; quite truthfully you might fall into somewhat of a depression. However, I can't deny that this book does fall into the category of "literature", so if you are interested in exploring symbolism, meaning and depth of character you might give this a whirl.

Pym: A Novel by Mat Johnson
 
Pointless, Boring, Confusing
Couldn't Get Into This

I only got through about 70 pages in this story before I gave up. The story jumped around between too many characters and plot devices - I coudln't figure out what was going on.

 
Inspiring, Optimistic, Beautiful
Mixed Reviews for "Heaven is for Real"

Most of the people in our group were disappointed with this book. While the story seemed genuine, most thought that there wasn't enough "meat" to the story. Some were very skeptical of the content, considering that the boy's father was a pastor and might have inadvertently tainted his depiction of events. Nevertheless, most thought it was a quick, easy read and contained some pieces of inspiration.

Housekeeping: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson
 
Dramatic, Beautiful, Gloomy
A Meadering Read

This book was hard to follow. It seemed to wander from thought to thought and I had a hard time figuring out what the characters were doing at any given time ... the story jumped from present tense to memories without much warning. I didn't find the main character to be very endearing, either.

 
Book Club Recommended
Persuasive, Inspiring
A Good Old-Fashioned Story!

I very much enjoyed Silas Marner. It has some amazingly relevant themes and situations to current times, despite being written in the 1830s. I thought it was truly inspiring how Silas Marner changed himself from being mean and miserly to warm and loving. I highly recommend this novel.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Beautiful, Inspiring
The stories in this book were well loved and provided a fascinating glimspe of how society has changed.

Our book club loved this book! Although we all agreed that there really wasn't much of a plot, most of us just loved the stories and found some of the side characters (such as Aunt Sissy) to be really funny and inspiring. Several of us were reminded of stories told by our grandparents of their lives growing up as immigrants in the "inner city", and that aspect alone made the book endearing and nostalgic. One or two of us thought that it was all too convenient that everything worked out so well in the end, but despite that it was well-loved. We discussed the vindictiveness of the women and children towards each other, and the reluctance of the main characters to accept charity even when it was obviously needed. We also noted the frank talk about sex in this book and thought it was probably considered quite shocking for its time, considering the book was written in 1943.

Caleb's Crossing: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Slow
A good portrait of the Seventeenth Century, but with a little too much modernism.

This book portrays the 17th century in a very convincing manner.
I think, however, that the character of Bethia is too modern. Some of the situations felt
contrived, especially when she was present at the final examinations. Her love affair with Samuel also felt too good to be true. Overall, though, it was an interesting read.

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

Our book club members really liked this book. We all could not believe that the children from this family turned out as well as they did. We discussed the stories that were in the book, and were a bit incredulous that Jeannette stayed so loyal to her father and professed her love for him so strongly, despite all that had happened.

In Leah's Wake by Terri Giuliano Long
 
Poorly Written, Interesting, Unconvincing
Definitely Not Recommended by our Book Club

Unfortunately, it was fairly universal amongst the members of our book club that this was our least favorite book selection so far. Some members thought the story was interesting at first, but it rapidly degenerated into a poorly written, confusing montage of characters and stories that did not resolve nor seem to be authentic. The subject matter was difficult and not one of the characters was likable. Compounding the problem was poor editing; several members noted erroneous words and multiple prepositions placed together.

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Insightful, Informative
A Real Surprise!

I admit that most women would probably take one look at this book and think "Oh how boring - who would want to read about highway construction?" I promise you, however, that this is a truly fascinating story about the recent growth and development of the United States. Not one of us has been untouched by the development of the automobile, and the story of how roads evolved after the advent of the car is really quite compelling. Earl Swift brings to life several very colorful characters that were instrumental in improving early auto transportation, and also reminds us that the questions we have today about the environmental and societal impact of our transportation system were originally asked at the outset of the 20th century. This is an informative and well-written non-fiction offering which I wholeheartedly recommend.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Insightful, Interesting
A Very Enjoyable and Informative Book!

Our club really enjoyed this book; a few of us used the edition which showed Vermeer's paintings alongside the text which really helped set the scene for the time and place of the story. The historical aspects of the narrative (such as Delft china, the Netherlands, the clothes and homes of the time) really captured the imagination of our group. Our discussion centered more around the environment of the times rather than the plot or characters, similar to the experience of one of the other Book Movement clubs. We all found the story to have a satisfactory ending and the characters seemed realistic and likeable, except for Vermeer's wife and Vermeer's patron (ugh!)

 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Informative, Beautiful
A Pleasant Read

Our book club members generally liked this book; it wasn't one that we "loved" but rather simply "liked". Several members thought it was a bit unrealistic to think that Henry was only twelve when he started his relationship with Keiko - his actions and thoughts were more appropriate for an older boy. It also seemed as if the events in the story were too coincidental. Despite these plot anomalies, we did like the book and learned something about this phase of American history.

Bossypants by Tina Fey
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Boring, Interesting
A Great Pick-Me-Up!

Our book club members really liked this book and thought it was "laugh out loud" funny. Several of us have been through some trying times lately and this light, bright, funny book was exactly what we needed. We enjoyed relating our favorite funny stories; so many of them were reminiscent of our own experiences as children or young adults. We all thought that Tina Fey was a very down-to-earth person and thoroughly enjoyed this book.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Inspiring
A portrait of a woman that many do not know about ...

I found this biography of Catherine the Great to be very well written and interesting .. and also very informative! Catherine was a fascinating woman and was very liberal and forward-thinking in her views. I learned quite a bit about Russian history and was able to better understand the implications of her policy on today's country. This is not a typical Book Club pick, since it is history and is very factual; also, as in most non-fiction the writing is grouped into themes, not in a chronological order. Therefore, it is a confusing to follow if you seek a timeline of events. Overall I found it to be a very good read. But, you must be prepared to learn along with obtaining your entertainment!

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
An interesting and though-provoking read!

Our book club really liked this book. Most of us were fascinated by the medical ethics ... the fact that the family had no idea that Henrietta's cells has become so widespread and "famous". We enjoyed learning about the science and thought it was a very interesting book.

Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Difficult, Dramatic
An inspiring, hopeful story of loss and redemption

This is a very interesting, inspiring and ultimately hopeful story of loss and redemption. This is a biography of a young medical student from Africa who is caught up in the violence that engulfs his home country of Burundi (and Rawanda) in 1993. He manages to escape to New York but has no other help or support once he arrives in the US. The story describes both his quest to resume his medical education in the US and his narrow escape from Burundi, which is told in a series of flashbacks. He ultimately returns to Burundi to build a health clinic. I found this story to be both overwhelming in its horrific description of man's inhumanity to man, but also joyful and radiant as it describes the courage of this young man who overcomes all odds to rebuild his native homeland.

Fiction Ruined My Family by Jeanne Darst
 
Book Club Recommended
Pointless, Graphic, Fun
A Mixed Bag for our Club's Review!

The members of our book club were very divided on their opinion of this book. Some really liked it because it was laugh-out-loud funny in several parts, and others thought the story of the main character's triumph over alcoholism was inspiring (it reminded them of "The Glass Castle"). However, all agreed that the main character was a very unsavory, unlikable person and some of the stories that were contained within were vulgar, crass and really had no point in being included. Some thought the story of the child overcoming her "crazy" parents was inspiring, but others grew weary of reading yet another story of a person with a troubled upbringing. Therefore, it's a Mixed Bag - you either love this book or hate it. There's no middle ground!

Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Dark, Interesting
Couldn't Put It Down

The reviews from our book club members were unanimous - they couldn't put the book down. It was a captivating, thrilling and sometimes morbidly fascinating read. We also decided that neither main character was very likeable, and that they both deserved each other in the end. A great read - we highly recommend this book.

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Dramatic, Informative
An Inspiring Account of Endurance and Hope

This was the most fascinating book I have read in a long time. It is hard to believe that one person could survive so much hardship and tragedy .... one thinks of a James Bond novel except it is true! I found the description of the time spent in the South Pacific to be the most beautiful and inspiring part of the story. If you ever think that you are up against impossible odds. you should read this book ... it might just change your mind!

 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Interesting, Adventurous
A good read - but mysterious!

Our book club enjoyed this selection. We had a long discussion over whether or not Faina was real and/or had magical powers ... or what actually happened to her at the end of the novel! (Trying not to spoil it for future readers.) Most members of our club thought that the author intended Faina to be a magical, mystical snow creature who wasn't fully human. We debated as to whether or not she caused the snowstorm in which Garrett almost perished. Some of us thought Faina was nothing more than a real person and there was no mystery about her being. Overall, this is a good selection and it's recommended by our club.

The Blue Star: A Novel by Tony Earley
 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Interesting
A sweet coming-of-age story

This novel is a very sweet story about a seventeen year old boy growing up in 1941 / 1942. We watch Jim as he goes through the uncertainty of breaking up with his first girlfriend, then as he falls wildly in love with his second. The novel is set in North Carolina during Jim\'s senior year in high school... so you can only guess what happens when Pearl Harbor thrusts its ugly face into the scene! I found the characters to be very realistic and accurate; I especially thought the portrayal of Jim and his friends was authentic and real. Prejudice, wartime fervor and fears, a mother\'s love for her son, a boy\'s love for his girl ... all make for a very good read.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
An interesting, fast read

The members of our club who read this book generally liked it. We were a bit bothered by the historical inaccuracies, and there was mixed opinion on the inclusion of the long description of the Civil War battles (some of us found that very intriguing; others found it very boring and skipped all those pages). However, as a general rule, we really liked the book and the picture that it gave us of Lincoln and the race relations that existed at that time.

Sisterland: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dramatic, Dark
Loved the St. Louis setting; great story!

Our book club really enjoyed this selection. We are from St. Louis so it was very enjoyable to read a novel that is set in our town. We discussed whether or not we believed that ESP exists (most of us do), whether or not we liked the characters, and if the plot itself was believable. It's a fast read and a choice we all really liked.

 
Informative, Interesting, Dark
Interesting description of the 1893 World\'s Fair and a thrilling story about a very creepy murderer!

Our book club enjoyed this selection. The story of the murderer was fast-paced and interested everyone in our group. Some thought the sections of the book that dealt with the World\'s Fair were a little long and tedious, but others in the group found the descriptions and information of this fair to be fascinating. The juxtaposition of the two stories were appreciated by several in the group. We personally found it interesting that so many of the things that we thought had been introduced at the St. Louis World\'s Fair in 1904 had actually first appeared in 1893 at Chicago\'s Fair!

 
Book Club Recommended
Unsavory characters and a disjointed chronology led to a less than enthusiastic reception from our group

The reviews for this book were decidedly mixed amongst our club members. All agreed that the main characters were generally unlikable, and because of that distaste several members did not finish reading this selection. Some thought it was written in the style of normal non-fiction, but after discussion most changed their opinion and agreed that it was hard to follow the story. It\'s difficult to give this book a great review; it might be a better use of time to read the Vanity Fair articles that formed the basis for this book. On the surface the story is interesting, but it\'s not interesting enough to warrant reading the book.

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright
 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Insightful, Informative
A quick read with a positive, uplifting message

Our book club really enjoyed this selection. The setting of the book might seem a bit off-putting at the outset (it\\\'s set in a garbage dump in Cambodia), but the story itself is one that gives hope. We found the main characters to be interesting and realistic, and really loved the insertion of Cambodian culture into the story line. This is not a long book, so if you are looking for a shorter selection it will fit the bill. It\\\'s an inspiring story that everyone in our group recommends.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
Eerily appropriate for our club during this month!

All members of our book club really enjoyed this book. We spent much time discussing the racial tension in this book, especially as it related to the recent events in St. Louis MO (August 2014). The mystery around the actual murderer was not discussed, since we spent so much time discussing the relationship between 32 and Larry and their parents.

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Insightful, Confusing
A good read!

Our book club liked "And the Mountains Echoed"; we found it enjoyable and a good read. It was the general consensus that the book should be read twice, because there are a lot of characters and intertwining stories; it can be tricky to keep it all straight. Unlike Hosseini's earlier books, this one does not go into great depth into any of the Afghanistan fighting ... but it does present a nice merging of stories and is ultimately hopeful and uplifting.

What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman
 
Dramatic, Informative, Addictive
Like / Hate for this book from our club!

Our book club had mixed reviews for this book. Half thought it was poorly written with very unlikeable characters; the other half thought the story line was interesting enough to keep going until the end. All agreed that the characters were not very sympathetic and that the two "boyfriends" were exactly the same - all in all, not very interesting. In the opinion of one member, it seemed as though the author ran out of ideas as the book ended ... all agreed that the ends could have been tied up a bit nicer. It was interesting to read how insane asylums operated in the early part of the twentieth century and we were horrified at the treatment and incarceration of some of the patients.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Addictive, Interesting
A mysterious and fun read, but not as good as "Gone Girl"

Our club liked this book; the mystery behind which character committed "the deed" was what kept everyone reading. However, almost everyone thought that there was not one likable person in the story (the main character really annoyed several of our members) and the plot, while very similar to "Gone Girl", was not as compelling. Overall, though, it was a fun and quick read.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Slow
Mixed reviews

Our book club gave this book mixed reviews. Most thought the story was interesting and wanted to find out what happened, but there was almost general consensus regarding the main characters: we didn't like them. Thus, it was hard to give an enthusiastic thumbs up to a book where you really didn't root for the participants.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Enjoyed the book - an interesting portrayal of prison life

Our Book Club enjoyed this book. Several members watch the series, too, so much time was spent during our meeting comparing the book with the show. The consensus is that the book was enjoyable and interesting, but it was hard to follow the characters ... the author could have done more to develop this in her writing. The show does a better job of showing the back stories to the characters, but then again the show is a fictionalized account, rather a memoir, so more license could be taken with actual events. We recommend this book.

In the Woods: A Novel by Tana French
 
Book Club Recommended
Slow, Dramatic, Interesting
We liked the book, but were unhappy with the lack of resolution

Members of our Book Club enjoyed this book, but we spent a lot of time discussing the main character (whether we liked him or not) and his actions (why was he so tired? why did he treat Cassie so poorly?). We also discussed whether or not we were able to figure out what ultimately happened. We decided we were a bit angry with the author for not tying up all the loose ends.

The Martian by Andy Weir
 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Dramatic, Fun
Despite the In-Depth Math, our club really liked this book!

Our members really enjoyed this book, despite all the intricate technical details about computers, chemistry and botany. The main character, Mark Watley, was endearing and funny and when the math got to be too much - we just skipped it without losing any of the story. Our club also watched the movie after we discussed the book. It's a good, quick read!

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
 
Interesting, Insightful, Beautiful

 
Dark, Dramatic, Interesting

Lilac Girls: A Novel by Martha Hall Kelly
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Inspiring
Interesting and Though-Provoking Description of a Difficult Time

Our Book Club really enjoyed this book, dspite the somewhat difficult subject matter. We thought the characters of Caroine and Kasia were very well depicted, and it sparked interest among the group to learn more about these historical figures. Really made us think about this terrible time in history.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
 
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful

And Again: A Novel by Jessica Chiarella
 
Book Club Recommended
Dark, Adventurous
An interesting read

Our book club liked this book, but we were all hard pressed to like any of the main characters. The subject matter provoked a lot of discussion, so you may find it a good conversation starter for Book Club!

 
Insightful, Dramatic, Gloomy

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
 
Dramatic, Addictive, Dark

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
A heart-breaking story with a happy ending

This novel is based on the true story of the Tennessee Children's Home Society scandal from the 1920s - 1950s. The families and children portrayed in this novel are realistic (some parts seem just a tad unlikely to have happened) and you can't help rooting for the 'good guys'. It is a gripping read. I highly recommend this book.

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