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Username/Login : carolkaskin
Gender : Female
Occupation : retired English teacher

My Reviews

 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Insightful, Dramatic
Venice Fl Ladies Loved This One

Our nine-member book club of 55-70 yr. old women was unanimous (doesn\\\'t happen too often) in their praise of this book.

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Insightful, Slow
We Are Not Ourselves

While not all members of the book club enjoyed this book as much as I did, the discussion was lively. Those who disliked the book focused on the book's pace as being too slow and its main female character as being an unsympathetic one. Those who liked the book, however, saw the book as more of a character study of a family in a given situation, and they enjoyed the realistic actions and speech of the characters. I would say that the 3 stars I gave the book above would be an average of the groups' responses to that question.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Dark
Provided a Launching Pad for Discussion

My club has all female retirees, so the most interesting discussions last night centered on how we ourselves had felt the stigma of being a minority in some setting. Our group has a former high school principal, a retired business owner, several retired teachers, a former attorney; the stories we shared about how it felt to be "other" then led us back to discussing all the ways in which each character in the book felt that same "outsider" status.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Confusing
Great look at first love

What the book club members liked best about TO BE SUNG UNDERWATER was its look at first love. The portions of the book that took place in Nebraska rang true with the regional color and the veracity of the passion of first love. The California setting brought the story up-to-date, but left the reader saddened at the disappointing choices the main character makes as an adult.

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Interesting, Insightful
Light Without Being Superficial

Our club members appreciated the humor of the book and the delightful main character, so reminiscent of a THE BANG THEORY character. The innocence and naivete that are part of his Asperger's syndrome made him an appealing protagonist, and the support characters' more worldly traits played off well against his innocence and threw them into relief, to both comic and dramatic effect. After a winter of heavier reading, THE ROSIE PROJECT seemed like the perfect summer read, light without being superficial.

The Children Act by Ian McEwan
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Interesting
Mixed review

I liked the book a lot, but many others in the club found the book predictable and unappealing.

The Nightingale: A Novel by Kristin Hannah
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Informative, Inspiring
Club Favorite

Every club member praised this book and felt touched by the characters. They thought the book was well-plotted and enjoyed the wrap-around of the today chapters interspersed with the war ones. A few had questions about Antoine's disappearance in the today chapters and wanted to know how the narrator got to America. On the whole, however, these were tiny flaws that did not mar the overall effect of the book.

 
Informative, Interesting, Dark
Very slow going

Several of the book club ladies found this book redundant and slowly paced. While we all learned some interesting facts, we also felt that the book could have been greatly condensed. Also, not having a clearer picture of what could have caused the evil in Holmes disturbed several members.

Our Souls at Night (Vintage Contemporaries) by Kent Haruf, Alan Kent Haruf
 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Insightful, Inspiring
A real look at seniors

The thing my book club liked best about OUR SOULS AT NIGHT is its realistic look at seniors and their need for intimacy. What we liked least was how Addie's need for her grandson's security dictated how intimate she could be with Louis.

The Boston Girl: A Novel by Anita Diamant
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Insightful
An Easy Read

The ladies all liked this book because of its engaging narrator whose spunk and honesty endeared her to the reader. The immigrant experience in the novel caused us to examine our own family's immigrant story and how it shaped our parents and grandparents.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Dramatic
Liked by all members

This was a popular choice because of its parallel storylines linked by the portrait.

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Dramatic, Inspiring
A Crowd Pleaser

Everyone in the book club enjoyed this selection. We liked the deeply developed characters and the integration of the setting into the plot. Some found fault with the red herrings in the plot, but that seemed a minor quibble. The discussions about religion that evolved during our meeting gave us all a better understanding of each other, something author William Kent Krueger probably would have liked about his book's effect on its readers.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Insightful
Cultural Awareness

No one in my book club is from Afghanistan, so this was a look into an unknown culture for all of us. We all remarked on the authentic voice of the narrator and the sense of everyday life in Afghanistan that this book revealed. We all had a difficult time with the concept of so many women being as mean to their own gender as men were, and we tried to figure out why that was so. We also expressed some despair at the little progress made over the one hundred year stretch of the book. There was a lot of discussion of male/female roles, nature vs nurture, fight vs flight, and other topics that the book presented. It was a good night for discussion because the book gave us a fresh look at an unknown culture and made us examine ourselves and our own ways of doing things.

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Dramatic
life in St. Thomas during 19th century

Most of the book club members liked this look at life in St. Thomas during the 19th century. The vivid descriptions, some long, gave one of the members a good case of "ants in her pants" because she wanted more action, less description. We had good discussion of the life of Jews during that century in both the islands and in Paris, as well as the effect of class and race on life in both places. We liked the book, but we liked other books better.

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Informative
A Kenyan Adventure Tale

Set in Kenya, CIRCLING THE SUN tells part of the life story of Beryl Markham, an aviatrix and friend of Karen Blixen, who wrote OUT OF AFRICA under the pseudonym Isaak Dineson. While Patchett's book lightly touches on the flying, it goes more deeply into the life of Beryl before those adventures, showing how she became so independent and confident. My club liked this book, but not all the characters in it, finding them out of our experience for the, to us, shocking way parents abandoned their children.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Insightful, Interesting
allegory abundance

Ann Patchett's THE PATRON SAINT OF LIARS abounds in allegorical references, from the names of the characters to their physical traits. The main character, Rose, frustrates the reader with her closed, secretive nature, always a powder keg waiting for ignition. Sissy and Son's relationship appears so much more open and healthy, by contrast, yet the last portion of the book shows the limits that Son will place on full disclosure. The setting of the book offers rich symbolism for the reader to ponder. I think a reader from a Catholic-school background might enjoy the book more for all its allegorical and symbolic underpinnings than a reader without that education.

Lila: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Inspiring, Difficult
Half loved, half disliked

LILA was not a universal success with my club, but those who liked it really did enjoy the book. Some found the book too confusing to follow clearly, thus frustrating the reader. Others liked the back-and-forth plot structure, however. The club also split on the overall effect of the book, which some found depressing and others inspirational. I personally loved the book, and I admired Robinson's ability to weave the storylines so deftly and keep the Biblical portions quite down-to-earth. We did all admire John Ames for his humility and Lila for her courage. It was fun to listen to other viewpoints as we discussed.

 
Book Club Recommended
Epic, Dramatic, Brilliant
Not for everyone

This long, beautifully-written book will not please everyone, but I personally felt it was worth the effort. The main characters are not loveable at all, but their stories (and those of their ancestors) help the reader understand their make-up and often their motivations. A retired English teacher, I yearned to tackle this book in an AP English class where its language, allusions, and structure could be discussed and analyzed. A two-hour, book club discussion did not do it justice.

The Summer Guest by Justin Cronin
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Epic, Fantastic
Variety of narrators keep it fresh

The changing narrators allow the reader to get a full perspective on the plot. Many parallel characters/foils for readers to use to see all sides of story. The book club members liked this book a lot for its overall positive outlook on life.

What She Knew: A Novel by Gilly Macmillan
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Addictive, Interesting
Formulaic but held our attention

When we only had 2 weeks between meetings, this book proved a Godsend because of its pace and who-done-it plot. While there were loose ends we would have loved for the author to have tidied up, on the whole we liked the book.

A Gentleman in Moscow by AMOR TOWLES
 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Brilliant, Insightful
Mixed reception

My book club members were split in their opinions of this book between those who absolutely loved it and those who thought it digressed too much from the main story. After discussion, some of those holding the latter opinion appreciated the book more, but still were unconvinced that it was as great a book as those loving it thought all along.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Very engaging novel

This book met with the approval of all of the book club members because it flowed beautifully and told two compelling stories.

Saints for All Occasions: A novel by J. Courtney Sullivan
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Insightful, Informative
Great St. Patrick's Day pick

This book met with universal appeal from my book club because the plot, characters, setting, and writing style kept our interest.

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