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Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Interesting
New insights in WWII

You learn about behind-the-scenes events that were classified until recently when you read Agent Zigag. Eddie Chapman (Agent Zigzag) was a fascinating and complex person. Our discussion was especially fabulous because one member worked on radar communications in England during the war. Her memories really added to our discussion.

The Gendarme by Mark T. Mustian
 
Book Club Recommended
Brilliant, Informative, Fantastic
Very literary

This is a beautifully written book about an imporant and often overlooked historical event.

 
Unconvincing
cliched romance

Nothing about this book captured my interest. The characters felt flat; the plot had no twists that surprised. A few lines meant to be romantic were so pathetic I actually groaned aloud when I read them.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Informative, Interesting
Fine read

This is a novel that immerses readers into anotehr world thoroughly. I learned from it and enjoyed the characters and locale.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Interesting historical fiction

I enjoyed learning about two women who defied what society expected of them to pursue their interest in fossils. Their discoveries shook up the world of science and religion in ways that still reverberate today.

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Epic
Worth Reading

This book was so instrumental in changing the views of Americans and even was credited with leading to the Civil War it is worth a read for that reason alone. Stowe has an expansive vocabulary and some lovely prose passages as well. While many characters are somewhat flat, either glorified perfection or evil incarnate, others are more fully developed. Through her characters, Stowe presents all the arguments of her time both for and against slavery but leaves the reader with the inevitable conclusion that all humans were created by God and thus should be treated with respect and dignity. I was also impressed to learn the events of the novel all took place and were amassed and arranged in fiction form.

The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Informative, Interesting
Intriguing read

I enjoyed the suspense of the story, as well as the beautiful descriptions of VEnice and glassblowing. The only thing I disliked was the author's use of frequent italicized "thoughts" of the point of view characters. They were set off in separate paragraphs and felt intrusive in the narrative. Otherwise, waht a fun story spanning the generations.

Hannah Coulter: A Novel by Wendell Berry
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Slow, Beautiful
A book about ordinary lives

The book is somewhat slow-moving as it is a woman recounting her life, very nearly a monologue in technique, a storyteller's voice. yet it is full of insights into the things that matter in life. I would have read it gladly for the beauty of this line alone: "And then, after Pearl Harbor, our voices sounded different to us, as voices do in a house after an outside door has blown open."

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Inspiring
Changed my thinking

This book modified my views on Islam somewhat. I still feel sure that not all Muslims hate Christians and Jews, but Ali offers a perspective from inside the faith that I have to consider now. I believe so strongly in tolerance and freedom to choose your own beliefs. She paints a picture of a culture that rejects those ideas. I will be thinking about her story for a long time. I was already aware of the Islamic views on women's submission, but I found her story riveting.

 
Confusing, Slow, Interesting
Lovely prose, weak structure and characterization

There were some lovely lines of prose in the novel with beautiful rhythm. Yet the characters, for the most part, remained unengaging and weakly developed. The novel meanders off into long digressions and backstories. Our book club members, overall, didn't enjoy the novel. We had an interesting discussion that perhaps helped us get closer to understanding the author's intent. But if you expect to read a book once and have an understanding of it, this isn't the book for you. You would need to read it several times and dissect it to unravel the threads to get to the point.

 
Informative, Interesting, Inspiring
full of information

I read the "really" short history by accident--and kept thinking it would be great for my grandson. Duh! Didn't realize there were two versions and I had the young people's version. Recommend it highly anyway. Bryson is a fine writer and the book is well researched. Only comment to book clubs: it is difficult to discuss because of the variety of information. You can't possibly tackle it all. It works better as in individual read than as a book club selection.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Explores darkness of human nature

I've read a considerable number of books concerning the rise of the Nazis, but learned quite a bit from this one. The story of the American ambassdor and his family was fascinating. I also particularly was interested in the politics and intrique inside the Third Reich. The book is well-written and thoroughly documented.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Interesting
Excellent, but . . .

This is a beautifully written memoir, combining humor and the pain of a child's exile from his parents. Yet I found myself wishing at times that the editing had been tighter, that there had been a little less blowing up of lizards and firecrackers. Also the repeated references to Kant fell flat, for me. But the language, the humor, the tale of exile are handled beautifully.

State of Wonder: A Novel by Ann Patchett
 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Dramatic
Original and Thought-Provoking

The moral questions raised by this novel are worth considering. Patchett does an expert job of maintaining that "heart of darkness" atmosphere throughout the story.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Amazing stories of daily life in North Korea

I am so glad this was recommended to my book club. The author lets us walk a mile in the shoes of six ordinary North Koreans. It's one thing to read in a newspaper that there is a famine. Quite another to go on a journey up a hillside to pick grass to eat and climb a pine tree to cut away the bark to expose the inner layer as food. The brainwashing, the insanity of allowing your people to starve so the leaders and political system can save face--it's all exposed in this amazing, heartbreaking book.

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