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Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Inspiring, Beautiful
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes is one of the best books I’ve read in a very long time. Ms. Moyes demonstrates the ability to write about serious subjects within a touching love story and more than do justice to both. She proves my long-held belief that fiction provides an excellent way to examine real-life issues. The themes of Me Before You include a woman’s journey of self discovery, a man’s fight for self determination, the everyday differences between poor and rich in today’s society, the daily struggles of the physically challenged, and the value of a life – both who decides what that value is and what goes into making that decision. Ultimately, Me Before You is about love in its many forms. I will wholeheartedly recommend this book to my 15 member book club.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Inspiring
How To Be A Friend To A Friend Who Is Sick

Although the subject matter is a serious one, Ms. Pogrebin wrote a book that is full of hope and positivity - and even humor. Her stories and tips illustrate practical ways a friend can support a friend who is sick, whether the person is physically, mentally, or emotionally sick. Ms. Pogrebin gives advice on what to say and do, as well as what not to say or do. She offers suggestions on supporting the caregivers and family members - often one and the same - of the sick person. Realizing that sometimes sick friends do not recover, Ms. Pogrebin also wisely includes guidelines on how to be a friend to a friend who is dying or to a friend who is mourning. The book is even more powerful when she writes about her personal experiences, both as a cancer patient and as a caring friend. Ms. Pogrebin ends the book with an excellent list of additional resources. I would not hesitate to strongly recommend this book to anyone who is facing this aspect of friendship.

Daily Wisdom for Women by Barbour Publishing Inc.
 
Book Club Recommended
Daily Wisdom for Women

This book makes a wonderful addition to every woman's prayer life. It allows women to take a spiritual breath in their busy days and spend a few minutes with God. I've added it to my own daily prayer life and will recommend it to the 15 women in my faith-sharing group. Many of those women are in the field of religious education, and I know they will share this book with their colleagues and friends.

Bonyo Bonyo by Vanita Oelschlager
 
Bonyo Bonyo

This was a beautifully illustrated, inspirational, true story. I think children - and their parents - will find the story of the Kenyan boy who becomes a doctor in the U.S. as fascinating as I did. I will wholeheartedly recommend it to the 10 teachers who are in my book group for their students.

Calling Me Home: A Novel by Julie Kibler
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Beautiful, Inspiring
Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler is the story of the remarkable Isabelle McAllister. Through her relationship with her family, her romance with Robert Prewitt, and her friendship with Dorrie Curtis, Kibler takes readers on the journey of Isabelle's life. It is a life that is affected by racism in both overt and covert ways at every step. Book groups will have much to discuss. I will recommend it to my 15 member book group.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Inspiring, Optimistic
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Harold Fry\'s pilgrimage is one man\'s search to find understanding, meaning, acceptance, and forgiveness in his life. The strangers he meets along the way both help and impede him on his quest. The story of this gentle, flawed man is touching and at times heartbreaking. It is well worth the trip to journey with Harold Fry. There is much for book groups to discuss. I will recommend this book to my 18 member book group.

I Am Forbidden: A Novel by Anouk Markovits
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Insightful, Informative
I Am Forbidden

God is on the Cross by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
 
Book Club Recommended
God is on The Cross: Reflections on Lent and Easter by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I have a confession to make. I've always avoided reading noted theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, putting him on my way-too-scholarly-for-me list. I was wrong. After reading Bonhoeffer's reflections every day since Lent began, I learned he is far more relatable than I thought. In God Is on the Cross: Reflections on Lent and Easter, each day's readings contain a reflection from Bonhoeffer on that week's theme, a short scripture reading, and a second, shorter reflection. This book is a good choice for anyone looking to do a little extra spiritual reading on their Lenten journey. I will recommend it to my faith-sharing group.

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

I'm only sorry this is Ms. Binchy's final book. Rest in peace, and thank you for many years of enjoyable reading.

Defending Jacob: A Novel by William Landay
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
Defending Jacob by William Landay

Defending Jacob starts out as a typical murder-to-trial mystery. Soon the twists and turns begin. Innocent teen or born to kill? Upholder of the law or protective father? The last twist will knock your socks off!

The Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie dePaola
 
The Lady of Guadalupe

The Lady of Guadalupe introduces young readers to the well-known Catholic story of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Beautifully illustrated by the author and available in Spanish, The Lady of Guadalupe is a wonderful account of the Blessed Mother’s appearance to a poor Indian farmer in Mexico.

 
Book Club Recommended
Called to Serve: A History of Nuns in America

Called to Serve: A History of Nuns in America by Margaret M. McGuinness is an in-depth study of Roman Catholic nuns in the United States. This fascinating account of dedicated women who were far ahead of their time will appeal not only to Catholics but also to anyone interested in women’s studies, American history, ministry, immigration, education, healthcare, and social services. I highly recommend Called to Serve.

My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Fun, Optimistic
My Basmati Bat Mitzvah

My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman is a delightful coming-of-age story of Tara Feinstein. Tara seems to do everything in twos. She has two best friends, two boys interested in her, and two cultural traditions in her family. While Tara studies for her bat mitzvah and wonders if she needs to believe in God, she also tries to figure out how to bring together her East Indian and Jewish American heritages. Tara is such a great character and so well written that readers can’t wait to see what happens next. I highly recommend My Basmati Bat Mitzvah and hope some television producer is smart enough to turn this book into a series.

 
London Underground’s Strangest Tales

As a New Yorker who rode the subway every day for 25 years, I developed a love/hate relationship with it. I was curious to learn how Londoners feel about their Tube. London Underground’s Strangest Tales did not disappoint me. Stories ranged from the history of various stations to the role of the Underground during World War II’s London Blitz to urban legends to commuter quirks. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who is interested in trains, London, and history. For added enjoyment, read it the subway, the loop, the T, the metro, or on your own town’s subway.

 
Book Club Recommended
Rose Harbor in Bloom

Rose Harbor in Bloom is the second book in the prolific Debbie Macomber’s Rose Harbor Inn series, which follows her very popular Cedar Cove series and is also set in Cedar Cove. Although it can be read as a stand-alone book, readers will get more out of it if they read the books in order. In Rose Harbor in Bloom, innkeeper Jo Marie and handyman Mark butt heads; guest Mary tries to find George so she can tell him a secret before it’s too late; bickering Kent and Julie try to put on a happy face for the 50th wedding anniversary; and their granddaughter Annie questions why she’s throwing them the party and why they brought her enemy Oliver with them. Fans of Debbie Macomber will know just what to expect as she continues to bring them enjoyment through her books.

Mishan's Garden by James Vollbracht
 
Optimistic, Inspiring, Beautiful
Mishan\'s Garden

Mishan’s Garden is the charming tale of young Mishan a kind-hearted innkeeper’s daughter, who is determined to cultivate a garden on land that won’t allow anything to grow. Through her attempts at gardening, Mishan has a positive influence on everyone she meets in her village. Beautifully illustrated by Janet Brooke, Mishan’s Garden is a magical story for young readers.

 
Book Club Recommended
It\'s Probably Nothing

I never thought a memoir about a cancer patient could possibly be funny, but Micki Myers proved me wrong. Her honest, down-to-earth, politically incorrect attitude toward her situation tells the world she isn’t going down without a fight. This is a good read about a hard subject. Cancer patients and those who love them will appreciate this book.

 
Book Club Recommended
World Religions in America

This well-written book is the only one you need to get a solid, broad education on the various faith traditions of the majority of Americans. I was particularly interested in Chapter 20, “Religion and Women in America” written by Eleanor J. Stebner. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about religious traditions in the United States.

 
Book Club Recommended
Life Changing, Informative, Inspiring

I never review books unless I can send them to my Kindle, but I am very glad I made an exception for Yoga XXL. I'm someone who stopped practicing yoga when I became XXL and misses it terribly. This book shows me how I can make accommodations for my size and still enjoy the benefits of yoga. Thank you Dr. Kollack for acknowledging the needs of a population often overlooked. I highly recommend this book.

The Baker's Dozen by Heather Forest
 
Book Club Recommended

The Baker's Dozen is a delightful tale with beautiful illustrations and a good message or two. It would make a great gift for little children.

 

I really wanted to like this book chosen by my book group, because I’m not familiar with the Polish culture. However, after reading about 50 pages, I just couldn’t get past the particularly foul language and had to put the book down. I do not recommend this book.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Dramatic

This wonderfully written book about the patients, families, and staff of Memorial Hospital in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina is an outstanding account of their experiences. Sheri Fink raises legal, medical, ethical, and moral issues. It investigates the responses of the government, police, and hospital administration, among other institutions, to a natural disaster. For all the deadly serious issues this book raises, it is never dry or boring, but always fascinating and thought provoking. I highly recommend this book.

 
Book Club Recommended

This delightful little book makes a perfect gift that any girl will treasure, especially when it comes from her grandmother. The life lessons are invaluable and not heavy handed. The pictures by Lou Guarracino are simply charming. I highly recommend this book.

 
Book Club Recommended

Although geared to children, this introduction to chess held the attention of at least one adult who doesn’t know how to play the game. The instructions are easy enough to understand, and children will enjoy the illustrations. I recommend this book.

 
Book Club Recommended

Ariel Gore’s mini-memoir is a funny, sometimes dark, always painfully honest (or at least that’s how it reads) account of a daughter caring for her difficult mother, Eve, during her mother’s final year of life. Ariel and Eve’s story is told in more detail in Gore’s book, The End of Eve: A Memoir.

 
Book Club Recommended

Su Meck was only 22 years old when a ceiling fan fell on her head and gave her a life-altering traumatic brain injury. How she learned to deal with her amnesia, while raising two children, dealing with a husband she didn’t know, moving several times, changing jobs, and all the other daily activities most of us take for granted, makes for a fascinating memoir. I recommend this book.

 
Book Club Recommended
Life Changing, Romantic, Fun

Adriana Trigiani is one of my favorite authors, but this was not one of my favorite books. The Supreme Macaroni Company, a terrible title, started off in Trigiani fashion, and I settled in for a good read. However, the middle third of the book dragged terribly. A dramatic twist toward the end of the book was once again pure Trigiani, but ultimately, it was too little, too late. I would rather reread her stellar Lucia, Lucia. A rare miss by Trigiani, although I still would not hesitate to read her next book.

 
Book Club Recommended

I loved this book! The mouth-watering recipes reminded me of my childhood and will serve as a handy reference when I cook some of my favorite dishes. I’m looking forward to reading the other books in the Gracie series.

 
Book Club Recommended

I came upon this book at my local library and was immediately attracted to it, as it reminded me of Jan Karon’s Mitford series. Neil Fisher arrives in Dunbridge as the new curate, and his adventures and misadventures begin. Fisher of Men is flled with likeable characters and uplifting storylines. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

 
Book Club Recommended

In this second book in the delightful Dunbridge Chronicles, Neil Fisher has become a newly ordained Anglican priest. The book focuses on his relationships with his parishioners as well as on his personal relationships. There is an unexpected twist at the end of the book which sets the stage for book three, If You Follow Me, due out in October. I hope this charming series has a long life.

 
Book Club Recommended

Coming from a 25 year career as an executive assistant, I can say with some degree of experience that this handbook by Sue France will be very useful to new assistants everywhere. With tips on time management, communication skills, ergonomics, and everything in between, The Definitive Personal Assistant & Secretarial Handbook is makes for a handy reference book. I recommend it.

 
Book Club Recommended

Those assistants who are beyond Sue France’s The Definitive Personal Assistant & Secretarial Handbook will find The Definitive Executive Assistant and Managerial Handbook a good book to read next as they advance on the corporate ladder. This book combines an introductory business management course with an introductory psychology course. Although I didn’t like it as much as The Definitive Personal Assistant & Secretarial Handbook, it is still a small, first step into thinking and acting like a manager. I recommend it.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Optimistic


To my mind, nothing Mitch Albom writes will ever top Tuesdays with Morrie. Having said that, The First Phone Call From Heaven is a light, harmless read. While not Albom’s best work, it captures the emotions of all of us who wish we could hear a deceased loved one’s voice again.

The Sleeping Dictionary by Sujata Massey
 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Adventurous, Addictive

This is a terrific, thoroughly engrossing book! It tells the mesmerizing life story of Pom, a Bengali girl who survives a tidal wave in 1930 that wipes out her family and Bengali village. Tied in with Pom’s personal experiences is a fascinating account of India’s journey toward independence. I wholeheartedly recommend The Sleeping Dictionary to individuals and book clubs alike.

Stella Bain by Anita Shreve
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Beautiful, Dramatic

I was attracted to this book because of the amnesia, World War 1, British / American, psychiatry, and mystery themes. The story was somewhat interesting, but ultimately, it didn’t satisfy me. I found it to be an average read, at best. Not one of Shreve’s best.

Longbourn by Jo Baker
 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Interesting, Beautiful

Billed as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from the below-stairs point of view, Longbourn by Jo Baker is so much more. The story of orphaned maid, Sarah, and mysterious, new footman, James, captivates the reader, while at the same time shines a light on the class differences in Regency England. Sarah, James, and the other characters are well developed, and the reader is truly interested in them. Longbourn is a story I loved reading and didn’t want to end. I highly recommend it.

 
Book Club Recommended

Roman Catholic Father James Martin is incapable of writing a bad book. Between Heaven and Mirth follows his usual, engaging style of teaching theology and spirituality in a straightforward, user-friendly way. I highly recommend this book, as well as all of his previous books.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful

Barbara Demick has written a thorough engrossing account of life in North Korea, one of the world’s most isolated countries. By following the daily lives of ordinary people, she demonstrates the seemingly limitless power of the government over its citizens. Yet, as the reader will learn, the human spirit doesn’t give up without a fight. I highly recommend this book.

 
Book Club Recommended

Hilma Wolitzer has written a charming book about middle aged love and loss from the male point of view. Edward Schuyler is down-to-earth, average man character who is easy to root for. His story is told realistically with humor, sadness, hopefulness, and melancholy. This is an enjoyable read, and I recommend it.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful

The Light Between Oceans tells the post World War I story about a lighthouse keeper and his wife and the decisions they make when a dead man and living baby wash ashore. The moral questions they face and answer aren’t easy, and therein is the heart of the story. This is a great book for book clubs, and I highly recommend it.

The Language of Flowers: A Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Beautiful, Interesting

Troubled former foster child Victoria Jones has a unique relationship with flowers and the meanings they convey. This relationship helps her navigate life after the foster care system. Victoria is a character you will alternately want to hug and shake. Vanessa Diffenbaugh has written a compelling story, with the added benefit of offering a course on the meaning of flowers that was so popular in the Victorian age. I highly recommend The Language of Flowers.

The Namesake: A Novel by Jhumpa Lahiri
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Insightful, Beautiful

The Namesake tells the story of the Ganguli family – parents, son, and daughter. The parents are immigrants from Calcutta to the United States. While the parents’ story is very interesting in and of itself, this is really son Gogol’s story. As a first generation Indian-American, Gogol tries to navigate his life between the old and new ways as best he can. With characters the reader cares about, The Namesake is a solid read, and I highly recommend it.

Where We Belong by Emily Giffin
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Dramatic

Where We Belong is the first Emily Giffin book I read, and it was wonderful! Imagine being a successful, happy, single career woman and opening your door to the daughter you gave up for adoption 18 years ago. That’s what happens to Marian when Kirby arrives. Told from alternating points of view, this story about the ripple effect of making choices is a terrific read. Book clubs, chose Where We Belong, and you won’t be disappointed.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

Susannah Cahalan’s memoir of the terrifying illness that affected her reads more like a horror story than a medical mystery. It’s scary to realize how an illness can change the very essence of what makes someone who they are. Brain on Fire is an interesting read, and I recommend it.

 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Inspiring, Romantic
The Fault in Our Stars

Never did I think a novel about teenagers fighting cancer would be so heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. Hazel and Augustus are two characters who focus on living, not dying. They will remain with you long after you finish The Fault in Our Stars. I highly recommend this book.

 
Book Club Recommended
The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully

Sister Joan Chittister thoughtfully reflects on the gifts and burdens that come with growing older. Some of the topics she explores are spirituality, limitations, fear, joy, freedom, and adjustment. In a culture where youth is revered, The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully reminds us of the value of older persons. I highly recommend this book.

 
Book Club Recommended
Invisible City

Invisible City by Julia Dahl is a top-notch murder mystery set in the always-fascinating world of Hasidic Judaism. The main character is reporter Rebekah Roberts, daughter of a Hasidic mother and Christian father. Rebekah investigates the murder of a young mother and uncovers secret after secret, while at the same time she begins to learn about her own past. I highly recommend Invisible City and look forward to Dahl’s next featuring Rebekah Roberts.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Graphic, Insightful
The Midwife of Hope River: A Novel of an American Midwife

The Midwife of Hope River left me with mixed feelings. I was fascinated with the birthing stories, Patience’s life as a midwife during the Depression, the union theme, and the evolving interracial relationships. I didn’t care for the way Patience’s back story was told in bits and pieces. Still and all, I recommend this book.

The DASH Diet to End Obesity: The Best Plan to Prevent Hypertension and Type-2 Diabetes and Reduce Excess Weight by William M. Manger, Jennifer K. Nelson, Marion J. Franz, Edward J Roccella
 
Book Club Recommended
The DASH Diet to End Obesity: The Best Plan to Prevent Hypertension and Type-2 Diabetes and Reduce Excess Weight

If you want to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, improve or prevent Type 2 diabetes, lower your salt intake, and/or just improve your overall health, The DASH Diet to End Obesity is the book for you. Chock full of medical and practical information, this is the only reference book you’ll need. I highly recommend it.

 
The Butler: A Witness to History

The Butler is a brief but intriguing look at the life of Eugene Allen, who became a White House butler and served for more than three decades before, during, and after the civil rights movement. On one level, it is Allen’s personal story, and on another level, it is the story of African-Americans in the 20th century. Although the book left me wanting more – something the movie did not provide – The Butler is worth a read.

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Optimistic, Interesting
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

Encompassing a somewhat improbably storyline, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is a tribute to books that will resonate with those of us who adore books and reading, and who have fantasized about owning a small bookstore one day. For that reason alone, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is an enjoyable read, and I recommend it.

 
Book Club Recommended

Although not for the faint of heart – nor faint of stomach – Working Stiff is a fascinating look at the world of medical examiners. Dr. Judy Melinek details both the everyday deaths that occur from illness, old age, accidents, and foul play, as well as the horrific deaths caused by terrorists in New York on September 11, 2001. I recommend this book.

 
Book Club Recommended

Jane Christmas received a midlife desire to exploring a calling as an Anglican nun. And Then There Were Nuns is a memoir of her exploration. How she deals with her very understanding fiancé, her children, a traumatic event in her past, and her spiritual, religious, and practical questions – both big and small – makes for an absorbing read. Told with humor, honesty, and deep feeling, Jane’s spiritual quest will resonate with everyone who has ever wondered how they can best serve their God. I highly recommend this book.

 
Book Club Recommended

Cut Me Loose, a memoir by Leah Vincent, describes her life both in and out of the ultra Orthodox world of Hasidic Judaism. While still a teenager, Leah is deemed to be too questioning and is sent away by her parents. As Leah struggles to support herself, she explores her sexuality and her beliefs. It is not an easy journey. Her experiences can be transferable to just about any fundamental religion. Cut Me Loose is an interesting book, and I recommend it.

 
Book Club Recommended

For anyone who has experienced clinical depression or knows someone who has, Hope Again: A 30-Day Plan for Conquering Depression will prove invaluable. That Sutton and Hennigan both deal with depression personally is clear. They describe thoughts and feelings that will be familiar to those who contend with this heartbreaking condition. Told from a Christian perspective, Hope Again offers practical, medical, and spiritual advice to help heal body, mind, and soul. It is a book that will be read over and over again. I highly recommend Hope Again.

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