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My Reviews

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dramatic, Informative
Fictional tale with historical insight

No matter what you think about the early LDS church, this book will provide insight into one of its most influential founders, Brigham Young. This a historical tale with a fictional story about a sister wife from a small Mormon sect who is accused of murdering her husband when he has abandoned her for a new wife. While trying to determine the truth about the murder of his father, the protagonist uncovers an autobiography of Eliza Young, Brigham Young's 13th wife. Much of her story shows her fight to change the LDS church's view of plural marriage. It was very informative about the early history of the LDS church, as well as the 19th century struggle for women's rights.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Inspiring, Interesting
For all of you who were raised by your family housekeeper

This book takes place during the time of early civil rights unrest in the south. Privileged southern families had Negro housekeepers who rode the bus to their white family's home, who prepared meals, polished silver, washed laundry and cared for the children, but who were not permitted to use the indoor toilet. Young Skeeter is an aspiring journalist whose eyes have been opened to the society that she has grown up in as a child of privilege. She befriends her society friend's maids, in an effort to gather their personal stories. As more maids come to tell their tales, she is horrified with the treatment they have had to endure over the years from some of her closest family friends. And as the reaction in Memphis to the assassination of Medgar Evars causes riots, she witnesses the emotions these women go through as they are torn in their loyalties between the white and black families they love.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Epic, Interesting
World War I epic

Ken Follett has achieved a wonderful 20th century historical narrative, focused on families in Great Britian, Russia and the US during the opening and subsequent years of World War I. The reader becomes part of each family as they struggle with their lives and the impact of the war on them as well as get a behind the scenes view of politics and culture. Each family and their live are intertwined in the delicate fabric of the times. Mr. Follett's writing style is detailed, yet not overly burdensome. You really get a sense of each character and understand their reactions to the events of the times that shape their destiny. I cannot wait for the next book. My only complaint was the length of the book. It was a lot to read over one month.

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Inspiring
Great story of self discovery

In the autobiography, you feel you are right there with Cheryl on the Pacific Crest Trail. Cheryl tells her story of hiking the trail for several months as she strives just to survive the aches and pains of the trail, as she learns to move past the aches and pains of her life following the death of her mother and the disintegration of her family and marriage. She engages in some behaviors that could have been very self destructive, but her time on the trail leads to the birth of a new person who discovers she is courageous and tough. I really enjoyed her journey.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Interesting
Excellently written but difficult subject to learn about

The average age of our members is over 60 so reading about memory loss was difficult. Some of our members had difficulty getting through the book because it made them think they had symptoms of the disease. However, it was excellently written and informative.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Addictive, Interesting
Some people create their own problems, or do they?

Paula Hawkins has crafted a fine drama with multiple points of view. The novel does leave you guessing whose point of view is true. Every day on her way to work on the local train, Rachel sees a couple enjoying time together. She begins crafting a fantasy based on them. But one day she sees something disturbing only to learn shortly afterward that the woman in the fantasy relationship has been murdered. Will what Rachel witnessed reveal the truth concerning the murder? Or will you learn why Rachel cannot be trusted? Very psychological thriller! The truth is always somewhere in the middle and perhaps not what you thought.

 
Book Club Recommended
Brilliant, Insightful, Inspiring
It is a classic still meaningful today

Rereading Mockingbird today took me back to the first time I read it. But I picked up on things I had overlooked the first time. Reading it through my much older eyes helped me realize how special and yet horrible growing up during that time was. There is so much to talk about with this book.Timeless is what this book is. So much more than the movie.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Slow
Good opprotuntiy to compare with To Kill A Mockingbird

The book, if written before To Kill A Mockingbird, shows an older Scout returning home after time away to a different world than the one she grew up. She sees her family through a different lens and is not pleased with the changes, especially with her father. She struggles to try to understand how her family and town is reacting to the early civil rights movement, especially in the changes she experiences when trying to reconnect with the black woman who raised her. It was a much different book than To Kill A Mockingbird. But you do hear the same voice of Harper Lee in the narrative.

KnockOut (An FBI Thriller) by Catherine Coulter
 
More fantasy than good reading

Catherine Coulter is known for creating fast moving crime thrillers in which the reader can follow along and root for the protagonist. But this book was too unbelievable to be real. it was believable that FBI agent Dillon Savich could be pursued by teenaged bank robber bent on revenge for the death of her mother, but is was not believable that he received the thoughts of a 6 year old child in trouble with a religious cult. The pace of the book was suitable in some areas and yet dragged in others. Overall not a suitable book for book club discussion.

Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller
 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Inspiring, Insightful
More than a memoir of a marriage

Alexandra Fuller has crafted another insightful non-fiction story of her life and her relationship with her husband. But her story is also one of her coming to grips with who she is at the level of her soul. She profoundly recalls additional events of her childhood as influencing the adult person she became and how they impacted her choice in a life partner. Her tenacity in the face of adversity is one of the things that endears her most to the reader. You feel as if she is in the room imparting the story of her marriage. Another thing that I love is that she does not bash her husband for things he did not do, but carefully explains how her expectations of the relationship could not meet his. There was much to learn from her story.

The Hummingbird: A Novel by Stephen P. Kiernan
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Interesting
Learning to Live and Learning to Die

Deborah Birch is a hospice nurse who cares deeply for her patients and helps them transition through their final days, but she cannot seem to help her veteran husband recover from his last deployment as a sharpshooter. Her husband's anguish is destroying her relationship and she cannot seem still his rage. In the meantime she is assigned to former history professor Barclay Reed, who proves to be a difficult patient who is not ready to die. Dr, Reed has been discredited for plagiarizing a book and her dares Nurse Birch to read one of his manuscripts without researching the subject, Japan's attacks on the Pacific Northwest. What she learns from reading the manuscript and talking with her patient could change both of their lives.

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Informative

The Nightingale: A Novel by Kristin Hannah
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Informative, Inspiring
Another dark side to war

This was a well written tale of two sisters and their actions during World War 2. what they each did for love to protect their families and the country they loved was truly phenomenal. And while this is a fiction tale, I am sure those who lived the true stories were even more phenomenal. Lots to discuss about the political climate of the first years of the war and some current situations in the world.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Inspiring, Dramatic

The Cove: A Novel by Ron Rash
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Dark, Beautiful
The place is also a character in this novel

Ron Rash writes poignantly about Madison county North Carolina. His prose is beautiful and is as much a love letter to that area as it is a love story. The setting of the story in a dark cove in the Great Smoky Mountains between the town of Mars Hill and Marshall creates an isolated place for a run away prisoner, guilty of nothing except his nationality in a foreign country during a time of war.
Brother and sister Hank and Laurel Shelton live on their family's deteriorating homestead. Hank, newly returned veteran has suffered an injury that would be debilitating to most men. But he has found a local girl that he wants to start a life with, but he has to repair the homestead so that Laurel can live there. Laurel hears a flute one day and discovers a homeless man who cannot speak. She brings him back to her home and he works for while assisting her brother. The town folk think Laurel is a witch and want nothing to do with her and they strive to stay away as much as possible from the cove. After a while, Laurel falls for the stranger despite his muteness, But the stranger is hiding a secret that could bring disaster on Laurel and Hank.

 
Adventurous, Romantic, Unconvincing
Disappointed in Sara Gruen

I have been a fan of Sara Gruen for some time and I realize it can be difficult for an author to follow up after a best seller such as Water for Elephants, but this book was no different than any other "bodice ripper" romance novel. The characters were not well developed and the story line "love triangle" was trite. The main redeeming part of the story was the setting of Scotland during World War 2.

A Man Called Ove: A Novel by Fredrik Backman
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Insightful, Beautiful
We all know a someone like Ove

This book was a delight to read. We all know someone just like Ove, who is steadfastly set in their ways and lives by a very strict code of expectations for every one they interact with. But you get to know the person who Ove is underneath and you come to love him. Bless the people who don't give up on him and see the redeeming soul that he is underneath the gruff exterior. And bless the poor cat who adopts Ove despite his lowly opinion of the creature that he comes to love. Ove alternates between tickling your funny bone with his inflexible opinions and inciting tears at the obstacles he has had to overcome.

Twain's End by Lynn Cullen
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Insightful
Beloved Mark Twain was an imposter!

After almost 5 years of faithful service to America's most beloved author, Isabel Lyons was dismissed and slandered by Mark Twain as a fraud, cheat and woman of lose morals and she did not fight back. The story that Lynn Cullen has crafted was insightful into the persona that Samuel Clemons created and the magnitude of the personality of Mark Twain. The author presents information based on Isabel's own diary about her life while serving the Clemons family and her own weakness in falling in love with him. There was much to discuss about all the relationships - Clemons and his daughters, Clemons and his wife, his daughters to Isabel and also the strange relationship Clemons had with his "Angels" of which Helen Keller was the most well known.

Page from a Tennessee Journal by Francine Thomas Howard
 
Book Club Recommended
Difficult, Graphic, Dramatic
Interesting story line but the author made it vulgar

White farmer Alex McNaughton become sexually attracted to the wife of his black sharecropper tenant, Annalaurel Wells following the sudden disappearance of her husband John. She, having few choices in the matter, allows Alex into her bed in exchange for food for her starving children.She dies not count on Alex becoming obsessed with her and his efforts to take care of her family. John in the meantime left so that he could earn money so that he could buy property for Annalaurel and his family. Events come to a boil when John returns home after a year away to a pregnant wife. While the concept of the story and the angst the characters was well developed, the author included some unnecessary sexually graphic scenes that detracted from the story and the writing. But this book would provide a lot to discuss for a book club.

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun
Just plain funny!

I f you like the "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" series, you will love the mis-adventures of Professor von Igelfeld. As a professor at the Institute of Romantic Philology in Germany, he wants to be considered the best in the world at his special knowledge of romantic languages, but his rival professors seem to get all the respect. His misadventures provide dry amusement in recounting his stories of overthinking his situations to the advantage of his rivals. A quick, light hearted read for times when you don't want to engage a deep, serious novel.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Optimistic, Inspiring
Just plain funny!

Libby receives a difficult diagnosis the same day as her adored husband comes out of the closet. This news send her on a trip to Puerto Rico to spend the money she gained when liquidating her joint assets following her sudden departure from a job she hated. As she wrestles with her decision to not seek treatment because of what she witnessed during the slow death of her mother, many life affirming events occur to her, including falling in love. I laughed and cried with Libby and rooted for her to make the right decisions about her future.

If You Find Me: A Novel by Emily Murdoch
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Dark, Dramatic
Imagine Reuniting with your father after being abducted as a child

Carrie Blackburn survived by her wits as a young teen carrying for her 5 year old sister as they lived off the land waiting for her bi-polar mother to return when they were found by her father. Now Carrie must learn to adjust to her new life with her father and his new family including a step sister. Her life in the wilderness does not prepare her for life in high school. Her sister Jenessa is mute due to an event when she was five and Carrie won't speak of it because she is protecting her sister. I generally like coming of age stories and I enjoyed the voice of Carrie. But the plot could have been enhanced so much more if the author would have brought more drama into the story by teasing the reader more about the event that led to Janessa and Carrie's trauma. Also some of the characters were not as fully developed as they could have been. This might be a difficult story for anyone who has lived with or had to endure foster care as a result of a bipolar parent.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Adventurous
Tales of two people who experienced a forgotten war

Alexandra Fuller has an insightful way to conveying her remembered events in comic and yet tragic ways that demonstrate the effect her childhood experiences have had on her formation. Her prior books recount her growing up in Rhodesia during Apartheid and her family having to deal with losses. This book is slightly different in that it is her account of a trip through Zambia and Mozambique with a former soldier and demonstrates the effect war had on both as they relive the horrors and the humor that K experienced as a soldier from the losing side. Overall I enjoyed the ride with them, but this is a deeply psychological book and should be examined from the point of looking at the after effects that war creates - not just from the Rhodesian war but from any war.

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Brilliant, Dramatic
Not Just For Middle Grades but Middle Agers will love it

Fans of Harry Potter will like this book. This is a modern telling of old fable based characters - a wicked witch, a tower,, a dragon, a swamp monster, a mourning mother, a town who has done the same thing every year without questioning why and a special little girl. While the tale was not a deep as Potter books, it does manage to convey a moral tale about doing what is right and not hiding your magic. I would look forward to more tales featuring Luna,

Dime by E. R. Frank
 
Book Club Recommended
Addictive, Dark, Insightful
Teen point of view about sexual slavery

Dime is thirteen and living in a foster home. She can barely remember someone who read to her. She is quiet and loves school. But when her foster parent begins drinking and her foster brother begins touching her inappropriately, she flees the home. An older girl, LA, sees her shivering and lends her a coast and buys her food. Soon she meets LA's Daddy. Daddy welcomes her to his place and buys her clothes and makes sure she is cared for. Only living with Daddy will cost Dime her innocence and her freedom. This book makes yoou think about sexual slavery, especially those young girls who cannot escape the thugs who control all aspects of their lives and who desperately want to escape but have no means of doing so. This was a riveting, very fast and heartbreaking book that will make you think "what can I do to help these young children"?

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Insightful, Informative

 
Book Club Recommended
What a hoot!

Katie Brenner is just a country girl from Somerset trying to make her dream of working in London come true. As a lowly research assistant in a marketing company, she is in awe of her female boss, Demeter Farlowe and falling for the handsome VP. But when Demeter fires her, she seeks solace in Instagram and reluctantly returns to the family farm to assist with turning it into a "glamping" vacation destination. When Demeter arrives on holiday with her family, it is Katie's turn at payback. I laughed so much while reading this fun book!

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Optimistic, Informative
Why isn't this a movie?

William Kamkwamba grows up during a difficult time in Malawi, Africa. His father and mother do their best to provide food for their three children, but work is scarce and food is not easy to obtain following multiple years of drought. William cannot afford to go to secondary school despite getting good grades. He spends his days reading in the library. He is fascinated with electricity and reads about how wind turbines can power a generator. With parts salvaged from the local garbage dump, he creates a wind powered turbine that can create enough electricity to power his home and he starts making money charging cell phones. He is discovered by a computer programmer and gets to come to America to present a Ted Talk. Overall great story of how necessity can be the mother of invention. All young people should read this!

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Addictive, Interesting
Definitely a page turner!

Laurel Hack has three children, a loving husband and a somewhat normal life. But she loves her 15 year old daughter Ellie the most. Laurel's life falls apart when her daughter disappears. She gets some final closure when remains are discovered which support the theory that her daughter ran away and died. But when Laurel meets Floyd and his daughter Poppy, she is disturbed because Poppy is identical to her daughter Ellie. As she gets to know Floyd and fall in love, there are little incidents that feed into her discontent and she starts to investigate Poppy's absent mother, who was also Ellie's tutor. What happened to her and what part did Floyd play in the disappearance of her daughter?

 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Fun, Dramatic
A great story of the love of mothers and daughters

Picasso spent time in the south of France in 1936 under the name of Mr. Ruiz, as he was trying to escape the drama of his life. Ondine is the daughter of a local cafe, who is sent to cook for Picasso. Ondine is in love with Luc and patiently waiting for his return from the sea so they can marry. Picasso, always with an eye for pretty girls, asks Ondine to pose for him. What transpires is kept secret for over 70 years. Now Ondine's granddaughter Celine, must travel to the same area where her grandmother lived in order to determine if the secret painting of her grandmother really does exist. But time is running out and she must discover it before her step family keeps her from seeing her mother one last time.

 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Optimistic, Fun
A book that lifts your spirit!

Three couples visit Rome for different reasons. One couple, who are sisters-in-law, are there to scatter the ashes of a husband and remember being in Rome many years earlier. Another couple are there to look for a special ceramic tile for a home remodel, but realize that there is more at stake for their marriage than securing the source for the elusive tile. And the third are two college students from different parts of the world who are trying not to fall in love over the weekend. A fast read and delightful story that will lift your spirit.

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