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My Reviews

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
 
Informative, Insightful, Inspiring
Interesting and pertinent to current events.

Almost every person in our book club rated this as a 10 or 9. It was interesting and intense all the way through. The author of this book is facinating, brave, and intelligent. The author grew up in Islamic cultures mosly in Africa and grew to question her religion and way of life, where doing so can be a death sentence. She escaped to Holland where she was eventually, amazingly, voted to the Dutch Parliament. You can find interviews with her on the internet and up to date information about her whereabouts and way of life now.

 
Interesting, Confusing, Beautiful
Well written, lots of discussion material

Beautifully written, haunting story. I was pulled into the story which alternates back and forth from the present to the past, each time going deeper into the story where more information is weeded out. The main character is a man in his 60s, his wife has recently died, and he has moved to a country setting to be alone. He reminisces about his past and sorts through his feelings about his father and their relationship. As the story continues, you find out more about his father's life during World War II, and more about his own recent past. This is a story about seemingly unemotional people, but it is a very emotional story.

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
 
Informative, Insightful, Inspiring
Incredible true story, loads to discuss

The author tells her life story about growing up in muslim communities in Africa, mostly. She escapes that way of life and becomes a member of the Dutch parliament. A very informative book pertaining to today's events.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
 
Informative, Fun, Interesting
Wonderful discussion

Very enjoyable book about one of England's islands, the Isle of Guernsey, which was occupied by the Germans for 5 years during WWII. The characters are lifelike and lovable and make the sad and frustrating parts of the book easier to read about. It is in letter form, which I usually don't care for, but I was drawn into this story. This book is one of the top rated books (if not the top rated book) our club has read this year.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Interesting
Blood is thicker than honesty

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Interesting
Still Hopeless

While this disease is "still hopeless" to those who have it, this book did give a positive step one can take if they are young enough to have children. Do as the main character's daughter did and have her embryos checked for the Alzheimer's gene. This would at least ensure that your children would not get it and help eradicate the disease. Other than this, the book did not offer much hope. It did examine the reactions to this disease by loved ones as well as the victim. Who is to know how you would try to cope with a spouse having it, and is trying to keep a future alive for yourself selfish or just trying to survive? This book packs an emotional punch.

Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
Creative perspective

This was a very creative, imaginative book. I couldn't put it down. The writer puts herself in the mind of a child who has been kept in a room all his life. I kept wondering how I would have been in that situation when I was four or five, and what would I have done if I were the mother?

Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel
 
Boring, Slow
No where'sville

Nothing much happens in this novel. Just a boring family's life that just goes on and on. Ok if there is nothing else to read.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Too much daughter

The first part of the book was really fascinating, but the daughter tried to make it all about herself and the last part of the book was boring.

Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Insightful, Interesting
Good discussion book

While I didn't care for any of the character's personalities, it was one of those books that had me letting out my breath when I finally closed the last page. Interesting discussion about immigration laws, Africa, and why the lttle boy's mother let him wear a Batman suit all the time.

 
Insightful, Informative, Inspiring
Slow story

I got so bored reading this that I finally gave it about halfway through. I skimmed it to see if I missed anything, but I don't think so.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Idealism or death

This book follows 6 people from their early life in North Korea until 2005 when they escaped. From the 1940\'s, through the famine of the 90\'s with no electricity until now, these people show nothing but idolatry for their leader, but is it always as real as it seems? This is a very interesting book, I read it in three days. Can\'t wait for the discussion.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Informative, Interesting
Words Of Comfort

Set in Ethiopia,a nun dies giving birth to twins. They are abandoned by their doctor father, raised by two missionary doctors and become doctors themselves. This book is about doctors, their work and the relationship between their work and their life. A very complicated book. The author "wanted the reader to see how entering medicine was a passionate quest, a romatic pursuit, a spiritual calling, a privileged yet hazardous undertaking."

Bossypants by Tina Fey
 
Fun, Boring, Interesting
Boooring

Quit reading it after a few chapters. It doesn't interest me to read about a woman who thinks she knows everything thinking that it is OK to be mean and rude to someone with a different point of view. Our book club rated it a 4 out of 10, the second lowest book rating we have had in 10 years. She is apparently a much better actress than writer.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Interesting
No self-made outliers

The author states that highly and famously successful people had hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities that allowed them to achieve success. That and 10,000 hours of work, practice, study, etc. He picks case studies to prove his point. The studies are very interesting, some fascinating. Not everyone in our group is in agreement that luck and a helping hand is more important in all cases than hard work and sheer genius, but that's what made a good discussion.

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Dramatic, Informative
Broken

Our club overwhelmingly loved this book, even though some thought some of the incidents may have been embellished since Loui Zamperini couldn't possibly have remembered everything that happened to him. Some also said the title wasn't apt since he really was "broken", then was able to make a come back after many years. All in all, it was an inspiring story about an amazing man. Loui Zamperini wrote his own book entitled "Devil At My Heels" for anyone wanting to read his own words written earlier in life.

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

The characters in this story were just a little too unbelievably patient and nice to the main character, Victotia. In the real world, maybe one person would stick with you after being treated like you don't exist, but not a whole support group of friends that you have just met. Other than that, it was a good read, it looked at the foster care system and introduced the readers to the language of flowers.

The Paris Wife: A Novel by Paula Mclain
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Insightful
For Hemingway lovers only

Our book club had a great discussion since the Hemingway lovers loved the book and everyone else thought it was slow and dull. If it weren't about Ernest Hemingway, it would have been a real sleeper. There were mundane details about Hemingway and his first wife's life in Paris, but also insight into what it would have been like to be Hemingway's wife. The book read as though it were retelling "A Moveable Feast" through Hadley Hemingway's eyes, and the reader can see how Hemingway decended into a more uncontrollable bohemian life the more famous and richer he became. He was totally commited to his writing.

 
Book Club Recommended
Difficult, Gloomy, Dark
Life is disappointing, then you die


This is a good book club book because of all the unanswered questions. We talked about what the theme of the book might be, why it has that title,the complexity of the characters and how they all seem so real, and what makes this family so disappointed and bored with life. The book seemed like a series of short stories about a family in Iowa and it stretches into a saga that covers about 30 years or so. The characters didn't seem to fit in anywhere and seemed to be searching for a place to belong. Our members either really liked it or really couldn't stand it, which always makes for a good discussion.

Driftless by David Rhodes
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Beautiful, Interesting
Small Town Drama

As I read this book I felt like I actually lived in this town and became aquainted with the neighbors and gradually got to know them. All the characters got better as the book went on. Each character could have had his or her own novel written about them and I got involved in everyone's life. Great escapism.

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Inspiring
Toenails and Self Respect: Who Needs 'Em?

A memoir by 25 year old woman who hikes the Pacific Crest Trail all alone with an unbelievably heavy pack and no preparation, supposedly as a catharsis or healing from the loss of her mother, to get over drug addicions, possible sex addictions, and to learn something. I'm not sure she healed during the trip since she was very promiscuous and did whatever drugs were offered to her on the trail. I don't know if I believe her claims of superhuman strength, but a good read nevertheless. We had a great book club discussion.

Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Dark, Interesting
Fun entertainment

Our book club thought this book was gripping, for the most part, and fun to read. A few couldn't get into it, but those who finished, which was all but two of us, enjoyed it.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
Good people, bad choices.

Is it ever OK to cause harm to someone in order to protect someone you love? When a boat carrying a dead man and a baby washes up onto the shore of an isolated island with a lighthouse run by a childless couple, the actions by the couple have far-reaching consequences. Our book club had a great discussion about this book, with three out of twelve not liking the book or the ending. The rest loved it.

 
Fun, Interesting, Adventurous
Unique and humorous

The book seemed to appeal more to the people in our book club who had lived in Seattle. Most thought it was funny and a light read, a little avante-guarde and exaggerated, but not all that memorable. We didn\\\'t have all that much to discuss with this book, but some thought it captured the essence of the Microsoft mentality as it was first developing, impersonal and intellectual. Many people said they laughed out loud while reading the book.

 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Informative, Insightful
The Gift Of Rain

Our book club rated this one highest this year so far, with a 9 out of 10. Everyone thought it was beautifully written, like reading art, one member said. Most thought the characters were believable. Even those who thought it dragged in the middle gave it high ratings.

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Slow
Tedious but good story

This was a great discussion book for our book club. Most people thought it was too long and tedious, but the story was great.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
The Intriguing Rich

Very well researched account of Huguette Clark and her father's lives. Self made "Copper King" miner, W. A. Clark amassed a huge fortune, which is left to his daughter, Huguette, who becomes reclusive and rather eccentric. She has mansions that she hasn't been to for over 40 years, but still maintains a staff and keeps it ready in case she wants to visit. She has an apartment full of dolls and dollhouses, and lives her last 20 years in a hospital, even though her health is fine.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Boring
No normal families

A look at everyday life of a Baltimore family reveals dysfunctions amid memories and family secrets. Ann Taylor can make the mundane interesting to many, though some in our book club thought the book was boring. Some thought it was absorbing, others thought it was just too ordinary.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Insightful, Dark
Like waking from a dream

Twenty years after ninety nine percent of the population has died of the flu, people survive without electricity, gasoline, health care. We follow the lives of characters whose common thread is an actor who dies while acting in the play King Lear. the author brilliantly uses symbolism and perception to construct a story line that is not obviously a puzzle.

 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Informative
Circling Danger

This is the personal story left out of "West With The Night" by Beryl Markham. Her personal achievements were all but obliterated by the gossip about her personal relationships. She was a strong willed woman who faced adversity simply because she was a woman in the 1920s, and she was lucky she lived in Kenya, probably the only place she could practice men's occupations. The descriptions of the countryside in Kenya are beautiful and her personal story is well told.

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Interesting, Optimistic
Find The Good

This is a sweet little book about finding happiness wherever and whenever it finds you.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Inspiring, Interesting
Inspiring story, laborious read

This book chronicles the invention of flying. The Wright brothers created a flying machine with virtually no help, nothing to study from, no financial backing and with the possibility of being killed. Strong work ethics, obsession and intellectual curiosity ruled their lives. They were geniuses, figuring out flying physics by watching birds fly. Too much detail marred this inspiring story.

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Inspiring, Interesting
Left wanting

We had a good discussion in our book club. Many members hadn't heard of the "left neglected" condition that is suffered from a brain injury and leaves the brain unable to remember the idea of left or right, depending on where the injury on the brain is. This book took too long to get started with the interesting stuff, and it did seem contrived, not great writing. But the concept of forgetting "left" is really intriguing.

The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dramatic, Addictive

The Hours Count: A Novel by Jillian Cantor
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dramatic, Addictive
Domestic Spy Novel

Once I started this novel, I couldn't put it down. The Rosenburgs play a small background role in this book about a woman married to a Russian immigrant in the late 1940s. She is blamed for her child being mute, she is in a loveless marriage, and she becomes friends with her neighbor, Ethel Rosenburg and an acquaintance of Ethel's, a doctor who says he wants to help her son. She questions his motives, she wonders if the Rosenburgs are spies, she questions her husbands activities, and she can trust no one. The author claims that she wrote this book with the intent to explore motherhood and women's friendships, but the looming Rosenburg trial makes this about much more.

The Nightingale: A Novel by Kristin Hannah
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Informative, Inspiring
Women and Bravery

This is about the women who were left to cope with the German occupation of France while their men were at war. Many of them joined the Resistance and displayed unbelievable bravery. This story is about two sisters who helped in different ways, both heartwarming and dramatic.

 
Inspiring, Beautiful, Informative
Untrue Story of Modoc

Many of our book club members enjoyed reading this book but were so disappointed to find out it isn't true that they couldn't even rate it. They felt cheated. It is like an adventure story with a boy and elephant who were both born on the same day to a circus family. They make their way to America with a sea mishap and time working in Burma on a teak plantation. It is very touching as trainer and elephant have a relationship and are parted then reunited. If you know it is fiction before you read it, you will enjoy it more.

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Dramatic
Pissarro's Mother

This book was more about the life of the painter Pissarro's mother than his life. Beautifully written, it is a saga of the life of Pissarro's family, who were Jewish immigrants to St. Thomas in the 1800's. It centers on the life of Rachel, Pissarro's mother, who was a kind of free spirit, but had to life within the societal norms for women of the day. She was a strong woman who probably shaped Pissarro's artistry in a way.

A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner
 
Book Club Recommended
Optimistic, Romantic, Dramatic
A Fall Of Marigolds

Enjoyable read, at least for the first 2/3 of the book. Then the woman in the past, Clara, carried on a little too much of the "Pity Myself" thing. The rest of the book was pretty good and highlighted the Ellis Island Hospital and Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of the early 1900s.

The Dovekeepers: A Novel by Alice Hoffman
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Inspiring, Dramatic
Soap Opera in the Desert

Everyone in our book club was glad they read this book, but most thought it was too long and convoluted. The thing that made this book gripping was the last 100 or so pages and the fact that it is based upon a true even, controversial as it may be.

The Circle by Dave Eggers
 
Book Club Recommended
Scary, Informative, Insightful
The Circle

This is a satire of internet technology and how it seems to be taking over, and how a high tech company (The Circle) could take over the country. This company insists that people be "transparent", meaning they have to wear body cameras at all times. Their influence extends to politicians. The main character of this book starts working for The Circle, and in her attempt to excel, becomes obsessed with the company.

 
Boring, Inspiring, Optimistic
Wake Up Happy

Nothing original as far as advice. His life is interesting.

News of the World by Paulette Jiles
 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Beautiful
New of the World

Easy to read novel about a retired soldier after the Civil war who makes a living reading the news to small towns in Texas for 10 cents per person. He tackles the job of returning an orphaned kidnapped girl to her relatives. She wants to stay with the Indians and doesn't want to go back to white man's ways. Very good relationship between the two main characters. Brings up the situation of real life captured white people who, upon being rescued, were never able to assimilate into white society, even after being held for less than a year.

A Man Called Ove: A Novel by Fredrik Backman
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Insightful, Beautiful
A Man Called Ove

Touching and funny. An unhappy eccentric man unwillingly is pulled out of his depression by neighbors.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Adventurous, Interesting
A Great Unknown

None of us had even heard of this Irish Revolutionary who was banished from Ireland to Tasmania for orating against British rule. He escaped and came to America, led his fellow Irishmen in the "Irish Brigade" during the Civil War and eventually became Governor of Montana. He did all that by the time he was 41, when he died under suspect circumstances in Montana. Long read, you can't miss a paragraph as there is so much information.

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Adventurous
Red Notice

Our book club loved this book. It brought a great discussion. It read like a thriller, but it was a true memoir by a man who started a hedge fund in Russia right after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Dramatic, Informative
The Underground Railroad

This mistreatment of the slaves was nothing knew for any of us, was hard to read about again, and we were very disappointed that the railroad was depicted as a real railroad. We did have a good discussion, though, which ranged from the book's times to the current NFL anthem disrespect.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio
 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Insightful, Beautiful
Wonder

We rated this as a children's book. Not realistic, but it may help kids understand a little about bullying and kindness. The book also dealt with the sister not being in the spotlight for most of her childhood.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Inspiring
Unbelievably criminally negligent employers

No one in our group actually enjoyed reading this book, but we had a good discussion. It is hard for any of us to imagine an employer so stuck on profits that they could not let the girls working for them know that they were in danger. The book was a little tedious, but important to read.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Interesting
Young China

A memoir from a 20 something man who went over to China as a student, learned to speak Mandarin, and made friends with other people his age. It deals with how the younger generation is coping with all the change China has gone through in the past 2 decades. Really an eye-opener for those who haven't spent much time reading about China now, and it is relevant to the times since China is in the news almost daily.

 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Interesting, Addictive
Where the Crawdads Sing

Beautifully descriptive novel of the marshlands, the novel evolves into a murder mystery/ love story.

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Dramatic
Amazing women divers

We thought the women divers were amazing and the research into the history of this Korean island was exhaustive. The overall theme to the book, though, was how much you miss when you don't forgive. The book followed for eight decades the lives of two fictional friends who were divers in the same collective of women divers on the Island of Jeju, with the background of historical events that took place there. Women divers there are real and can be seen on the Internet.

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