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My Reviews

Moloka'i: A Novel by Alan Brennert
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Inspiring, Interesting
Slow to Start and a Real Tear Jerker

We found the book a bit slow on character development with a bit too much history and information crammed into the beginning. The book seemed to develop into an interesting read at different points for different people. Almost all of our readers had no idea that such a place as Moloka\\\'i even existed and found the history, medical quarantines, and time period to be very interesting. This book was a real tear jerker for a few members, but most commented that they didn\\\'t feel connected enough to the characters. All enjoyed the read and some had similar comments about Honolulu.

The Lifeboat: A Novel by Charlotte Rogan
 
Dramatic, Poorly Written, Insightful
Disturbing and Too Much Left Unexplained

There were so many points in this book that were unclear. Many were confused about whether the cargo had any significance to the crash and escape. There were those of us that thought the main character killed her husband, while others thought the incident was just a delusion. The number of characters made it difficult to follow and difficult to discuss. The book, while short in length, just seemed to dredge on in the lifeboat. I am sure some of these aspects would be true to life, but the disturbing nature was not something that I would clutter other's minds with, so I do not recommend this book.

 
Book Club Recommended
Fantastic, Dark
Short, Sweet, and Sick

I didn\\\'t like that this book was so short. The sweet comes in as we find out more about Zach. The sick is what you\\\'ll be feeling by the end of this action-packed book. Broken seems to really have left you hanging in the action more than the others. I\\\'m looking forward to continuing on.

The Art Forger: A Novel by B. A. Shapiro
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Lacking Historical Facts and Believability

I was pleasantly surprised that most of the women in the book club found the book intriguing and believable. While I studied art in college, I found the process of forgery fascinating. Others in our book group came away with a new appreciation for art and artistic ability. However, I thought that many of the story lines, characters, and the descriptions of events were unconvincing.

Perhaps Shapiro tried to create too much of the story herself instead of incorporating historical facts into the storyline. While I know the book isn\\\'t labeled as historical fiction, the book was inspired by the actual robbery of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. As a former resident of Cambridge, I\\\'d hoped to conjure up more descriptive pictures of the Boston. I hoped to learn more about Isabella in the process as well, but it seems most of the events in the book that involved her were fictional. I think the book is unconvincing because it lacks so much in historical fact.

I picked up the book hoping that it would be a great read about art and the art world. However, after our book club discussions I think it was perhaps more a book based on Shapiro\\\'s history as a Sociologist. When reading about how she was rejected from many publicists on the basis of the book not really being in a certain category or genre, I now understand why. While I enjoyed the book, it wasn\\\'t what I expected when I chose it to read. I wish she would have been persuaded to base the book more in reality than fiction, less on sociology and deviant behaviors, and more in a place of further informing the reader about the history surrounding Degas and art during his time.

 
Book Club Recommended
Not Recommended for Young Adults

I'm not sure why this is considered young adult literature. I would recommend it to the 30-somethings crowd. It does have an X-men type feel to it, but then there's the dark side that's a little too intense for young adult literature I think. The dark side is more closely related to "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." A little too sexually oriented and a little too dark for young adults in my mind.

Age recommendations aside, I highly recommend this series of books and I can't wait for the last book to be written.

 
Confusing, Pointless, Poorly Written
Lost in Translation??

If you are reading this very short book, be prepared to take notes and have a Spanish/English dictionary on hand. No one in the book club was able to keep track of characters or follow how they were connected except for one who had taken notes. Usually books of this length take me one or two days to read. This book took me almost three weeks. I couldn't get into the writing style, and the characters were not developed enough to keep me engaged. Our group was confused about the cementing theme and disappointed that so many of the exciting elements were cut off right in the middle of the action with little to no resolve. We kept expecting that there would be more in the later chapters about the death of certain characters, but it never happened. I think this story could have been lost in translation, but I am not really sure. P.S. We were all pissed and even less amazed by the book when we found out the author's note was not even true. The whole book seemed a bit hard to believe.

The Gin Lovers by Jamie Brenner
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Romantic
Less Sex Would Be Good

Apparently the author writes erotic novels as well. That did come through and, since I don't enjoy reading romance novels, I felt like it took away from a great story. I really enjoyed reading a novel that was based in the prohibition. The historical aspects were very enjoyable. The characters seemed to be a bit spotty at times, but overall the writing was pretty good.

 
Insightful, Interesting, Slow
Not as Interesting as We Had Hoped

Almost everyone (12 young moms) agreed that the storyline was just took too slow a pace. I can appreciate that was somewhat the affect the author had hoped for, because I get the feeling that her point was many of us find our everyday lives and challenges quite interesting. The fact that there were so many opportunities for drama that never played out also seems to speak to this theory. I really saw how Meg\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s inspirations rang true in her book: http://m.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2014/03/inspiration-information-the-interestings.html. I found the movie reference to be spot on - so if you like this book you may want to check out the \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\"Seven Up\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\" documentary series which follow the lives of the same people every seven years. It is interesting to read or watch the story of our lives play out, yet if we were to write a book about it then it may not be all that exciting.

I did find the characters interesting, I\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'m just not sure I would recommend this book to others on account of the slow narrative.

 
Book Club Recommended
Brilliant, Addictive, Epic
It All Comes Together in the End

I feel like Irving is such a great writer to be able to take so many elements from a book and weave them all together. Only four of the twelve members in our book club completed the book because it\\\'s long. They wanted us to tell them the ending. Since they hadn\\\'t read a good portion of the book the ending just didn\\\'t have the meaning that was intended. We had to keep explaining a lot more throughout the book than just the ending because the ending just weaves together all the chapters into one final bang.

I really enjoyed the writing style and some of the surprises that came along as you read. Like why Owen\\\'s dialog is in capitals, who John\\\'s biological father was, how his father was revealed, why they keep practicing the shot, etc. I felt like there were endless surprises that all brought together God\\\'s plan for Owen\\\'s life. I highly recommend this book.

 
Book Club Recommended
Life Changing, Insightful, Optimistic
It's All in the State of Mind

After having given birth to my first child naturally I wanted to read this book because I felt as though I naturally brought myself into a state of hypnosis to manage pain. I can't say that I've ever been hypnotized or would care to be, but this book is more about using the power of your mind to manage a complete state of relaxation throughout birth and better manage any fears or pain that you might be experiencing. While the idea is to have a completely pain-free birth, I feel that there can be circumstances outside your control in a hospital setting that may interfere with your ability to have the perfect pain-free birth, which is apparently the goal (however lofty). However, I agree with many of the ideas and techniques in this book and hope to use them in my upcoming labor.

I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to have a natural birth. Though I hadn't read it before my first, I feel that I used similar techniques to manage pain. I also feel that giving birth naturally will empower you throughout the rest of your life. I often say to myself in a tough situation, "I gave birth without any pain medication. I can do this." It is an achievement that I will never regret. I am a total advocate of natural births and water births after my experience, but I do feel that you must have the right environment, including your psychological environment to be successful. This book will help guide you (with great relaxation techniques, exercises, birthing positions, and more) toward your ultimate goal of giving birth to a healthy, unmediated, alert baby. A baby that will look you in the eye and have a complete connection from the moment he or she emerges. It's a beautiful experience.

The Silent Wife: A Novel by A. S. A. Harrison
 
Dark, Interesting, Dramatic

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Informative
Missing the Mystical

Many other book club members had read other books by Alice Hoffman. They said they enjoyed how she combined many stories into one (which "The Museum of Extraordinary Things" kind of did) and the mystical (which they felt she only did in the dream portions of the book that we all could hardly remember come meeting time). Many of us enjoyed the historical fiction aspects of this book, which included workers rights and two major fires in New York. Unfortunately, I feel Hoffman should be upset with her publisher and graphic designer because many of us could hardly read the sections in italics. A book should always be designed with the reader in mind. It was a slow read for all of us with "I didn't hate it" being the most quoted comment. Not raving reviews, mostly because it was very dark and approaches many difficult subjects from sexual and physical abuse to horrific deaths. However, if you are interested in New York history this could be the perfect book to read. It did have many extraordinary events.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Addictive, Dramatic
Interesting Commentary

Our book club of about fifteen stay-at-home-moms all agreed that we enjoyed "Big Little Lies" even more than "The Husband's Secret." While both have similar plots the comments from characters throughout the bigger story really kept us engaged and added an element of humor that wasn't present in "The Husband's Secret." Being that many of are children are about kindergartener age we also enjoyed the setting of young children in school. There were plenty of controversial topics to discuss, by capturing some of the zeitgeists of our time on subjects like bullying, child trafficking, abuse, yoga, parenting and more. It will provide your book club with plenty more commentary to add to the discussion.

 
Confusing, Pointless, Poorly Written

Bossypants by Tina Fey
 
Fun, Boring, Interesting
Surprisingly, Not Funny

I'm not sure why this didn't resonate with my funny bone more. I enjoyed watching 30 Rock with my husband and I tend to like Tina Fey. I think my expectations were just not in line with the actual book. There seemed to be a lot of complaining about being a woman even with her valid feminist points. This brings me to believe that this title really is perfect for the book. If you think Bossypants is a funny title, then this book might be a great read. If you find it too straight forward and a little odd then you might agree with me. If you're curious about Tina Fey and her life, dig in and you'll enjoy, but it's a bit of a flop if you're looking for a laugh-out-loud read.

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Dramatic, Informative
Gut Wrenching Inspiration

Overall, I highly recommend this book to other book clubs. Nearly unbelievable events happen in war and so often these terrible things are not even touched on in our education. I understand that veterans have difficulty reliving events like these through retelling their stories and it becomes clear why in this book. There were areas that I had to quit reading because my stomach was getting too upset. The harsh realities of POWs is too much for me to read about and yet it was good to know the truth. Louie's memories were a great honor to read, in part because he had the ability to tell so many stories that go untold. His ability to conquer and forgive are a lesson we can all benefit from reading about. It's amazing to me that his own memoirs never took off, but I'm glad that Hillenbrand was able to make this into a popular novel.

The book reads like a well-researched novel, which is the only reason I give it four out of five stars. I quite enjoyed the statistics throughout, yet at time the drama was perhaps overshadowed by the research. I'm sure that largely the author wanted to prove that these events are what actually occurred, but it felt forced at times. Certain events seeming to last too long and others abbreviated too much due to lack of proof perhaps.

Though largely focused on the wartime period, I wish there would have been more about his coming to Christ and his work after the war. This man lead an unbelievable life and it is stunning that he not only came through the other side unbroken, but truly inspiring and unrelenting in his love for humanity. I can't wait to see the movie.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Insightful, Dark
Eleven Mehs

There were sections of the book that really did make you wonder how you would survive a flu pandemic that would wipe out most of the humans of the world. There were very interesting sections that brought to the surface a number of unanswered questions such as, "Why is there always a dead person in the bathroom?"and "Why was there no currency and such a communal aspect of sharing rather than selfishness accentuated?" Overall, the group seemed to agree that the book was only alright. There were a lot of interwoven aspects, (such as a comic book of "Dr. Eleven") that were strange and interesting and yet somehow inconsequential. The affect being that you were able to follow the interwoven stories from before the flu, after and how they came together, but never in a very intriguing way. It left us all looking for a bit more to chew on and think about and feeling like we lacked emotional attachment to something that would be very emotional to experience.

The Saving Graces: A Novel by Patricia Gaffney
 
Pointless, Boring, Slow
Let's Save You from Reading this Book

I don't think a single person in our book club of about fifteen women enjoyed "The Saving Graces." Perhaps, in part, because we are part of a mom's group and the book just seemed like ordinary life. The problem being that we found many of the dramatic scenes unconvincing. As an example, Rudy's relationship with her husband was difficult to believe. As mothers I think we are looking for a bit of escapism or something larger than life when we spend our time reading. The book wasn't different enough from the every day, and yet a little too fantastic in odd situations to seem believable. There was a disconnect and little emotional connection with the characters. Sadly, the character Isabell, is who seemed most believable and is under the worst circumstances, fighting a battle with cancer and dies. The ending seems to bring everything together, but reveals dying advice from Isabell that any reader might bestow instead of revealing something new or exciting about the characters. The book just didn't resonate on an emotional or spiritual level, which seemed to perhaps be the goal of the author. I don't think any of us would recommend the book. Perhaps this is an ungracious review, but let us recommend you not waste your life reading this book

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Beautiful, Dramatic
An Interesting Perspective on AIDS

A good recommendation for book clubs for the discussion, though I doubt I would recommend to friends. The tone from the perspective of teenager, June, who is uncomfortably close to her uncle, Finn, who's dying from AIDS is convincing, it gets a bit tedious. The language is first person and sounds like a teenager, yet the detail and beauty in the descriptions of some of the situations seems incongruous. I especially liked some of the detail, such as when the snowflake lands on Greta's eye and the description of how it looks and how sad she is that it melts and she can't share that picture with her sister. There are very beautiful details mixed in with teen talk. Many of the relationships seem far fetched and unconvincing. Especially when the hidden partner, Toby enters the storyline. The largest redeeming factor would probably be the beauty in all the turmoil. The messiness, blame and grace involved in a life and family under the cloud of a chronic (or then terminal), contagious illness seems well explored. I enjoyed that the taboo of AIDS was less explored than the ability of love to conquer all.

 
Boring, Poorly Written, Slow
An Artist's Life

Graham does a great job depicting a struggling artist. There are moments that will give you insight into what that life is like. The love interests are interesting and wildly different from one another. Though the book was interesting, there wasn't a lot of depth to discuss. While most of our book club liked it there wasn't anything majorly outstanding about the plot or discussion about the book, which is the only reason I wouldn't recommend it for a book club. The book was a quick easy read, which means everyone that started actually finished. This would probably be a great book for a group in acting or a book club of drama students.

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

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Inspiring
A Better Picture of History

As the author states, these traumatic events seem to be shaded over by Hitler and war. Though the event seem to have been buried and nearly lost in the Unites States I wonder what the history lesson would be like in Russia. Our book club was in shock because many of us came from a heritage in this part of the world and knew little to nothing of these events that are so horrific. We were glad to be more informed, while saddened that the human condition could be so horrible. Thoughts of the book "Unbroken" and movie "Woman in Gold" came to mind in discussion.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Addictive, Interesting

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Addictive, Interesting
Surprise!

Let's just say that no one foresaw the ending. Bazinga!

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Inspiring, Informative

Pretty Girls Intl by Karin Slaughter
 
Book Club Recommended
Graphic, Dark
Stomach Twisting

If you enjoy Jillian Flynn, then Karen Slaughter may be your next author of choice. She takes graphic scenes to a new level with gut wrenching details of horrific acts.

What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Informative, Addictive

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Fun

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Fun

 
Informative, Difficult, Confusing
Too Informative for Bookclub

The book was a little too much like reading a very long college paper with very little narrative. This was not a novel like we had all expected. Very little emotion was created while reading and very cerebral experience.

 
Book Club Recommended
Optimistic, Insightful, Fun
I've Become a Fan

As someone that's experienced depression I know exactly where Chonda Pierce is coming from in her struggles with God and this disease. She's so honest and forthcoming that you just can't help but love the humorous sections.

As a female, Christian I feel like this would be a great gift to anyone you know that fits those categories (and especially if they have or are experiencing depression in their lives). As it says in the book, 1/5 of the population will experience some sort of mental health issue in their lives, yet so many of us feel like it's taboo to talk about until we do and realize how prolific depression really is.

To shed light and laughter on the subject is such a gift. Chonda Pierce, I've become a new fan after reading your book.

 
Insightful, Interesting, Optimistic

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Interesting

Lilac Girls: A Novel by Martha Hall Kelly
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Inspiring

The 19th Wife: A Novel by David Ebershoff
 
Informative, Interesting, Insightful

 
Interesting, Pointless, Addictive

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Adventurous, Scary
Lord of the Flies Meets Walking Dead

Never thought I would say that I enjoyed a "zombie" book. I guess this is a case of "never say never." I watched the movie just before reading the book. It is very good, as well, and I enjoyed both. The movie brought to life what these characters could look like and it haunted me from a psychological standpoint. Which means that it's a good read for those who like horror or thrillers. I found the ending of the movie more powerful than the ending of the book. I think the book should have gone on a bit more to describe how trapped and lonely the teacher, Ms. Justineau, felt. I also liked that the movie left out the romance of the book. Not really a romantic and more of a realist.

The Dutch House: A Novel by Ann Patchett
 
Insightful, Interesting, Brilliant

The book I

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