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My Reviews

 
Adventurous, Dramatic, Interesting
Very interesting - both past and present life of characters.

Brings back the wonderful carnival /circus experiences had as a child...the ambiance of the Big Top and animals, etc was extremely well done. Sara Gruen does a great job of doing her homework with respect to investigating the world of the circus in preparation for writing this novel. Her characters are interesting and human. Jacob and Rosie parallel each others live with their love/hate relationship with August. And they both love Marlena.
Great read- throughly enjoyed it! Surprising ending, not really plausible but loveable just the same.

Beachglass by Wendy Blackburn
 
Having a personal connection seemed to lead to positive reading experience.

Our Book Club just finished reading this book and 4/6 thoroughly enjoyed it. We felt that personal / emotional connection to the story was a factor for all those that did enjoy it. Those that did not like it- did not bond with the character or feel that the author's writing was very sophisticated. This is Wendy Blackburn's first novel- so this is a valid point.

We thought that Delia had gone full circle from her days in the Unit. Her ability to help others was a positive result of her time spent there and her relationships were critical to her success in staying sober. Support groups and family make the difference for sobriety.

Some felt Delia's maturity at age of 19 was unrealistic. While other's felt that her real life experiences had given her a maturity beyond her years.

Her divorce from Raphael was the separation from her past and her final relationship in LA from the Unit. Zodiac, Matt, Raphael and James were all in her past as she left to go to Seattle with Simon.

However, Timothy was her lifeline and she continued to be connected to him while she lived in Seattle. All the others she had removed from her life. Timothy was the only one that shared her life Seattle with visits. He also was Unca Tim to her daughter. He was her family.

Her husband, Simon, seemed to understand the complexity of Delia's relationship with Timothy. He also knew that her return to LA was critical to her moving forward with her life and having closure with her past.

Timothy's death was symbolic of the 'death' of her addictions. There were no more temptations that she could not handle. Delia had weathered every storm and survived.

She was a survivor........like the Beach Glass. Battered and bounced around and ultimately turned out to be a treasured jewel.

 
Informative, Dramatic, Interesting
Enjoyed the customs and history in story; also relationships with women

Found the story to be interesting and full of history about topics previously unknown. Footbinding very painful part of culture and necessary evil for young girls of that time. Nu shu became art form and way for women to communicate their private language via fans, embroidery, etc. Challenging time in which to live. All members enjoyed the novel and how the author, Lisa See, pulled it all together in the end. However, we all experienced a point in the novel where we were ready to put it down. But we persisted and were glad that we did. It did generate a lot of discussion about the topics of hardships of women and the dynamics of their relationships.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
 
Informative, Dramatic, Insightful
As wonderful, if not more so, than the Kite Runner! Truly a must read.

Hosseini surely has continued with his gift of writing in his second novel. As much as Kite Runner was about Fathers/Sons and friendships between men; he has followed up with this novel about Mothers/Daughters and friendships between women.

Influenced by the Taliban, as in Kite Runner, the lives of the main characters are oppressed by the regime of the time. Although their experiences are harsh and painful, Hosseini has a way of making the reader want to push on through the story.

Such love and courage is demonstrated on a day-to-day basis between the two main character: Mariam and Laila.
Although their own relationships with their Mothers were not great, they find a way to forge the strongest bond, as if they were Mother and Daughter.

Together they unite to overcome the oppression and hardships in their lives. At what cost, does one person sacrifice for another...

Our Book Club loved Kite Runner. We were not sure if this second novel would be as good. We were pleasantly surprised to see that 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' is well-written, direct and an emotional journey of the characters.

We highly recommend this book to other clubs! It prompted great discussion. Our Book Club will be looking forward to Hosseini's next novel, when it is written,

 
Inspiring, Insightful, Beautiful
Dog's Eye View

Enzo (dog) is looking back over his life he had spent with his master (ie: all the joy, trials and tribulations they have shared together). It lets the reader know that there is so much more to the bond of pet and owner.

For avid pet owners--the story reaffirms a lot of what we already know. The connection and relationship is pure and true. That all the feelings of shared love, sadness, etc is real and that the journey is not alone.

I loved the ending---so symbolic and beautiful that I cried until I smiled.

Highly recommend to anyone that has /had that special bond with their pet...or for someone that might be unsure it really exists.

 
Dramatic, Interesting, Beautiful
Enjoyed it - an interesting and easy read

All members enjoyed the book and rated it a '3'.

There were many characters and the development was good by the author. Story of 3 families and how their lives were changed forever by the Virgin of Small Plains.

The reader was trying to figure out who the murderer was and the plot had you guessing who it was. Very unusual ending, but was very consistent with the plot.

Overall recommend. Not the club's favorite but still a good read.

Bride Island by Alexandra Enders
 
Easy read, however no depth to writing style

Our Book Club enjoyed reading the book - fairly easy and quick. However, lack of complexity in the writing style was problematic for some members.

Story was interesting- the author makes the reader want to see the main character succeed by overcoming her daemons. However, members disagreed over whether she should succeed in getting custody of her daughter again.

The family was completely dysfunctional and there was a soap opera like quality to the relationships and story telling.

The Island was a respite for the main character. Interesting that she went back there to resolve her issues with alcohol, given they probably started for her on the island originally.

Would recommend to other clubs--but not if you're looking for a cerebral read.

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Insightful, Beautiful
Art of Racing in the Rain----magnificent

This book I could not put down. The narrator, Enzo, the family dog is so moving and in touch with the lives of his family members, that I was drawn in immediately. There is more than one
good thing to say about this book----share it with everyone you know. It's about love, loss and the art of living.

Three Junes by Julia Glass
 
Book Club Recommended
Slow, Interesting, Inspiring
The Three Junes

Each section of the book (Paul, Fenno, Fern sections as I like to call them)----were in June when they were in the present tense.

Paul was in Greece during summer months, 6 years later they are gathered after his death presumably same time of year, and Long Island they are there in June. If I had a Kindle, I'd do a word search on 'June' just to see. The Three Junes are just three views of these peoples lives (3 different years in June).


Fenno was my favorite character. I think that his section of the book is the largest, since he is the main character. He ties all the people together throughout the story of the three different Junes. He is the only character in all three sections. I agree he is a good person and very interesting.


About Mal---he represents the good things about pure true emotional love. Tony represented how love could be a bad thing without the emotional connection....not really 'love' without it. Demonstrates the two different ways someone can be loved.


Fern was an interesting intersection between Paul and Fenno, although those pieces are not tied together for us. I don't think that Fern knew this either. It was odd that the author didn't bring that full circle. I wonder if she had, would it have made a difference or would it have been awkward? It seems like it would have impacted the plot in a significant way. Possibly have brought Paul more into the last section of the book more also.


Fern was a female character and told Fenno things that she had never told anyone else, given the short time they knew each other. It is interesting Fenno's relationships with women were (his mother, Lil and Fern). He was very unguarded and down to earth with them. Something he was not able to attain with his father or brothers.

Fenno and Fern had the Tony connection. Each had been loved physically by him without any emotion. They both had feelings for him, but knew it would never progress into anything else. Due to this 'bond', it seems Fenno was able to enlighten Fern about how she is really feeling about Stavros.

I thought, the overall thrust of the book was this quote "Mind what you love. For that matter, mind how you are loved".
For me, that was what the whole book was about----loves (past, present, good and bad, in all different shapes/sizes/types).

I think the Three Junes are just observations (from three different perspectives Paul, Fenno and Fern) of all that they have loved and how they have been loved.

I think this book prompted good discussion and interesting and diverse perspectives from all of us. A good Book Club selection....

It was uplifting in that there were bad 'love' experiences but were balanced by good 'love' experiences. Life is a mix of many things.


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