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Aquarium
David Vann
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Added: 3/27/2015

The Girl on the Train: A Novel
Paula Hawkins
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Added: 3/1/2015

When Mystical Creatures Attack! (Iowa Short Fiction Award)
Kathleen Founds
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Added: 1/14/2015

Mermaids in Paradise: A Novel
Lydia Millet
Very Unleashable
Added: 12/29/2014

Florence Gordon
Brian Morton
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Added: 11/10/2014

The Paying Guests
Sarah Waters
Mildly Unleashable
Added: 10/30/2014

Station Eleven: A novel
Emily St. John Mandel
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Added: 9/24/2014

The Hundred-Year House
Rebecca Makkai
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Added: 8/31/2014

Landline
Rainbow Rowell
Very Unleashable
Added: 7/30/2014

The Good Luck of Right Now
Matthew Quick
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Added: 6/28/2014

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel
Gabrielle Zevin
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Added: 5/22/2014

The Enchanted: A Novel
Rene Denfeld
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Added: 4/30/2014

Annihilation: A Novel (Southern Reach Trilogy)
Jeff VanderMeer
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Added: 3/7/2014

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
Jonas Jonasson
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Added: 3/2/2014

And the Mountains Echoed
Khaled Hosseini
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Added: 2/1/2014

The Goldfinch
Donna Tartt
Very Unleashable
Added: 1/1/2014

Inferno: A Novel (Robert Langdon)
Dan Brown
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Added: 11/7/2013

The Circle
Dave Eggers
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Added: 11/1/2013

The Maid's Version: A Novel
Daniel Woodrell
Mildly Unleashable
Added: 11/1/2013

Cryptic Spaces: Book One: Foresight
Deen Ferrell
Very Unleashable
Added: 9/30/2013

Lexicon
Max Barry
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Added: 9/1/2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel
Neil Gaiman
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Added: 7/9/2013

The Kings and Queens of Roam: A Novel
Daniel Wallace
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Added: 6/28/2013

The Humanity Project
Jean Thompson
Mildly Unleashable
Added: 5/8/2013

Life After Life: A Novel
Kate Atkinson
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Added: 4/5/2013

Three Graves Full
Jamie Mason
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Added: 3/26/2013

The Good House: A Novel
Ann Leary
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Added: 1/31/2013

The Phantom Tollbooth [Unabridged] (Audio CD)
Norton Juster
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Added: 1/29/2013

This Is How You Lose Her
Junot Diaz
Mildly Unleashable
Added: 1/3/2013

Gone Girl: A Novel
Gillian Flynn
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Added: 12/30/2012

Unscribbling: the art of problem solving and fulfilling your desires
Kristin Neperud Merz
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Added: 11/13/2012

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel
Robin Sloan
Very Unleashable
Added: 11/4/2012

The Casual Vacancy
J.K. Rowling
Very Unleashable
Added: 10/24/2012

Something Wicked This Way Comes
Ray Bradbury
Mildly Unleashable
Added: 9/10/2012

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel
Rachel Joyce
Very Unleashable
Added: 8/17/2012

The Age of Miracles: A Novel
Karen Thompson Walker
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Added: 7/1/2012

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir)
Jenny Lawson
Very Unleashable
Added: 6/1/2012

Farsighted
Emlyn Chand
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Added: 5/5/2012

The Professionals
Owen Laukkanen
Very Unleashable
Added: 3/30/2012

Until the Next Time
Kevin Fox
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Added: 2/28/2012

The Anatomy of Ghosts
Andrew Taylor
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Added: 1/27/2012

The Angel Makers
Jessica Gregson
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Added: 12/30/2011

The Sense of an Ending (Borzoi Books)
Julian Barnes
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Added: 12/1/2011

Nightwoods: A Novel
Charles Frazier
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Added: 11/1/2011

The Leftovers
Tom Perrotta
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Added: 10/11/2011

The Most Dangerous Thing
Laura Lippman
Mildly Unleashable
Added: 9/1/2011

The Borrower: A Novel
Rebecca Makkai
Very Unleashable
Added: 7/29/2011

In Leah's Wake
Terri Giuliano Long
Very Unleashable
Added: 7/15/2011

Bossypants
Tina Fey
Very Unleashable
Added: 5/31/2011

The Pale King
David Foster Wallace
Do not Unleash
Added: 4/27/2011

The Paris Wife: A Novel
Paula McLain
Very Unleashable
Added: 3/31/2011

The Other Life
Ellen Meister
Mildly Unleashable
Added: 3/31/2011

The Weird Sisters
Eleanor Brown
Very Unleashable
Added: 3/1/2011

The Radleys: A Novel
Matt Haig
Very Unleashable
Added: 1/31/2011

Cleopatra: A Life
Stacy Schiff
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Added: 12/31/2010

Our Tragic Universe
Scarlett Thomas
Very Unleashable
Added: 11/26/2010

A Dog's Purpose
W. Bruce Cameron
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Added: 11/3/2010

The Gerbil Farmer's Daughter: A Memoir
Holly Robinson
Very Unleashable
Added: 10/1/2010

The Thieves of Manhattan: A Novel
Adam Langer
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Added: 8/31/2010

Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster
Scott Stevenson
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Added: 7/1/2010

Walking to Gatlinburg: A Novel
Howard Frank Mosher
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Added: 6/29/2010

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Rebecca Skloot
Very Unleashable
Added: 5/31/2010

Angelology: A Novel
Danielle Trussoni
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Added: 4/30/2010

The Pursuit of Other Interests: A Novel
Jim Kokoris
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Added: 3/24/2010

Blonde Roots
Bernardine Evaristo
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Added: 2/21/2010

The Hierophant of 100th Street
Cullen Dorn
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Added: 1/26/2010

The Red Velvet Turnshoe
Cassandra Clark
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Added: 12/29/2009

April & Oliver: A Novel
Tess Callahan
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Added: 11/29/2009

The Year of the Flood: A Novel
Margaret Atwood
Very Unleashable
Added: 10/30/2009

The Angel's Game
Carlos Ruiz Zafon
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Added: 9/29/2009

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Alan Bradley
Very Unleashable
Added: 9/24/2009

Couch
Benjamin Parzybok
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Added: 8/9/2009

The Art of Racing in the Rain
Garth Stein
Very Unleashable
Added: 8/9/2009

The Middle Place
Kelly Corrigan
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Added: 8/9/2009

Downtown Owl: A Novel
Chuck Klosterman
Very Unleashable
Added: 8/5/2009

Olive Kitteridge: Fiction
Elizabeth Strout
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Added: 8/5/2009
 
 
Keep track of all your book ratings and reviews. They will show up here for your quick reference. Remember, your ratings and reviews greatly help your fellow clubies in making their book pick decisions. We appreciate your book opinions.

A Dog's Purpose
Date Posted: 11/3/2010 | Go To Book Page

Cute story, but it will make you cry. Very moving, but the dog dies I think 3 times... but then gets reincarnated, so it is not so sad.
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And the Mountains Echoed
Date Posted: 2/1/2014 | Go To Book Page

I must admit, I judged this book by its cover and its title. Neither of those appealed to me and made me not even want to bother with the description… and that was a mistake. There is a line in the book description that says it is, “a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations.” This line is spot on… How we love… kinds of love… the bonds of love… what happens when separated from a love… how love can hurt or heal… how love can cause you to hurt and heal… unrequited love… and most of all the impacts of the choices we make in the name of love. All these aspects of love are told in such a real and touching way. A truly enjoyable read, and so many talking points that there is no way that it won’t be a great discussion. Perfect for a book club.
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Angelology: A Novel
Date Posted: 4/30/2010 | Go To Book Page

When you pick up this book to start reading, make sure you have a good chunk of time set aside. First, because it will help everything to make sense and gel in your brain. Second, because you will not want to put it down! Totally sucked me in and I could not wait till I had a free moment to pick it up again. Tied so well to real life facts, this novel will really leave you thinking, "Is it real?" The only thing that slows it down is a little excessive visual descriptions, but that is easy to skim and get to the good stuff! And there is a LOT of good stuff. Interesting story and back stories, not to mention a good little twist at the end. One part thriller, one part religion and spirit, a smidge of a couple love stories, a secret society, throw in some history, combine that all with great writing and you have one FABULOUS book! 

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Annihilation: A Novel (Southern Reach Trilogy)
Date Posted: 4/3/2014 | Go To Book Page

This was one weird book. The writing is so unique and well done I seriously felt creeped out the entire time I was reading it not knowing what to expect next. So, for the writing alone, I think this book is worth a read. That said, the story did not have me waiting with anticipation for my time each night to read it again. I thought it was interesting and it had me curious, but not that engaging with the plot. For book clubs, there is enough here to discuss (especially if your a teen or mother daughter book club. P.S. Why do teens all seem to love dystopian novels?). Topics like: How people handle life or death situations. What the F# was actually happening in Area X? The roles of manipulation in activities. The impersonalization of the group members (i.e. “the Surveyer” vs. their real name). The idea that they only sent all men or all women. Why would anyone volunteer for such a mission? Why all the old technology to explore instead of newer technology? The concept of our potential integration with the world around us upon death. How people deal with marriage, change and death. So, LOTS to discuss. Ultimately I thought it was a beautiful love story that would never admit it was a love story. The ending though kinda killed it for me though. It was appropriate, but left way too much hanging. But I guess that is what you do when you write a trilogy. But I am starting to really dislike trilogies that leave books feeling incomplete… Great writing, lots to discuss…not really my cup of tea, but I bet anything that my 15-year-old nephew is going to LOVE it!
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April & Oliver: A Novel
Date Posted: 12/1/2009 | Go To Book Page

Oh what a life our Miss April has had! She is definitely a survivor and it was fun to watch her strength and self pride develop as the story went a long. Delving into the dynamics of family and relationship, 'April and Oliver' is a testament to the importance of family, honesty, and having each other's back. My emotions and what I wanted to see happen at the end of the book kept going back and forth between several options. (What a great conflict to ride.) So my only wish is that the book did not end as it did. I actually think I would have preferred a "Choose your own adventure" ending with like three different scenarios to fit your mood.... 1. April and Oliver get together. 2. Oliver stays with Bernadette 3. Oh, I have so many thoughts I could put here, but they would reveal way too much about the book. So I will refrain. It is fun to think about the possibilities!
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Aquarium
Date Posted: 3/27/2015 | Go To Book Page

I teetered between a full 5 and a 4 star/“open book” rating for this one. I’d give it a five as the themes and discussion points are overflowing - death, family, emotional escape, romantic love, parental love, how a child loves their parents, parental choices, what is "abuse," homosexuality, economics, survival, child care, understanding of others, forgiveness, second chances, crazy imaginations… the list goes on and on. I also think it was well written from a 12 year old girl’s perspective (though the author is a guy). Even the parts where they talk about fish a lot. It didn’t slow the book down, so “well done” on that. I also like the originality of this book. Very refreshing! I’d put this as a 4 for the ending - it was a little too tied up in a bow. And part of the ending was just inappropriate (Without giving things away, 12 year olds should not be allowed THAT much freedom in my opinion - even in the name of "love".) Overall good read, interesting, and lots to discuss - so a great pick for book clubs.
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Blonde Roots
Date Posted: 3/1/2010 | Go To Book Page

What a fascinating and VERY well written book. Bernardine creates a world so well thought out and put together it just flows. She makes it look effortless to turn the tables on history and give us a glimpse into what an alternate history could be - when it had to be anything but effortless. From the cover design of the book to subtle and not so subtle language changes throughout the book, this book is just so well thought out. It is filled with great moments that just really make you think & makes for a great discussion. I was surprised that such a heavy subject could be written in such an easy read.  Seriously, I was surprised at how fast it moved along. Great book for book clubs. 

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Bossypants
Date Posted: 6/29/2011 | Go To Book Page

Boosypants is the PERFECT SUMMER READ for a book club! It is light, yet fun, and is packed with all kinds of interesting things to talk about at your book club gathering. Just what I wanted for this busy time of year…  In many instances I was laughing out loud. But, of course, it IS Tina! Tina is so approachable and real I wish we were both still living in Roger's Park so I could call her up and go grab a drink at Morseland with her… yeah, that's right, I used to live in the same area of Chicago as her… although not at the same time. ;) But that was a fun element that made the book even more fun for me. Anyway, I liked Tina before, but now I think I have a little girl crush on her. She is truly inspiring and I love, love, love her style. I found the book very inspiring and actually full of good advice. Loads to discuss. And, Tina, call me! ;)

The only thing I did NOT like was the cover - is it just me or is that way to freaky to look at. That gave me the creeps. 

Very Unleashable

Cleopatra: A Life
Date Posted: 12/31/2010 | Go To Book Page

Oh my Zeus and Isis, I did not think I would be able to get this one done in time for book club! Half like a text book and half like a story told that rambles around making sure that we can understand all of the backstories in it, this is not a skim-able book in any way, shape, or form. (Not that I am a skimmer anyway.) It is a fascinating book and I am glad I made the effort and did not give up on it, but ugh! I don't think I could get through 3 pages before I was asleep in the beginning. It did somehow pick up after about about page 100… or maybe that was because I jacked myself up on coffee and was cramming the last two thirds of the book into 4 days of reading. ANYWAY - this seemed very well researched and I feel like I learned a lot about an amazingly resourceful and misunderstood woman, the roll of women in history, sexual politics vs. romance, royalty, class systems, governments, ancient civilizations, and a ton more. For these reasons I highly recommend this book. But make sure you read it during a month when you do not have a lot of stuff going on at the same time. ;)

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Couch
Date Posted: 8/9/2009 | Go To Book Page

Ahhh, a fun little romp with 3 very likeable and "unique" gentlemen. Loved how they used each of their talents to survive this crazy journey. Ending was a bit odd, but overall I liked traveling with you boys.
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Cryptic Spaces: Book One: Foresight
Date Posted: 10/3/2013 | Go To Book Page

Adventure awaits in the 2013 winner of "The Book Pick" contest! With exceptional writing and a truly imaginative storyline this epic tale does not disappoint… until the cliff hanger at the end! Doh! Now we must wait until the next books come out. In the meantime we will sit here mouth agape as we try to figure out how Ferrell came up with such an elaborate story. Ferrell does what I love in a book - mix reality with myth and fantasy to make reality make sense in a way you never imagined. Not only is he tackling the tough concepts of time travel (and so far I have not seen any flaws), but he also covers prehistoric animals, Loch Ness, Nostradamus, the US Dollar design, architecture, subplot after subplot, love, friendship, mentorship, trust and truth, and complex math to name just a few of the interesting points in this book… it makes you want to spend a day inside Ferrell's mind to see how he came up with it all.

Having read each of the 5 finalists (and just looking for the time to review them all) I've decided I am going to hand out my own awards this year too. And Cryptic Spaces receives:

Best Teen Book Club Book
Most likely to be turned into a TV Series (a movie would be too short)

Questions to contemplate:
Does intelligence breed boredom? Does boredom breed the craving for adventure that Willoughby seems drawn to? Or is adventure in his blood? Or why do you think Willoughby decides to join the organization?

If someone were to recruit you to a secret organization by bringing you to an area in time and space that interests you, where would they bring you? And what would your "super power" be that you would bring to the team?

Why do you think so many people in the story are interested in time travel (team members and opposing forces)? What are the team member's individual motivations for being in the organization?

How is the sudden interest of girls in Willoughby's life influencing his actions? What influence is each of the girls having? 

P.114 suggests you "Turn your book upside down and read right to left. Forcing yourself to read this way will burn critical information into the semi-conscious resources of your brain." So… did you immediately try that too? What did you think?

Is Willoughby's attitude typical of teens, or a result of his intelligence? Personally, I did want to knock him down to size a few times as he was a tad too full of himself for me, BUT… I can think of a few teenage kids that rock that can be the same way.

Do you think there is any truth to Dr. J's theory that, "I believe there's a certain path in time and space that has your individual name carved in it. To stray from it weakens your aura and makes you more susceptible to illness and disease. To be at peak of health and vitality, you've got to find and follow your true path."?

Who do you think is truly "good" and who is "bad" and how do you determine that or recognize it when you see it? Is using someone's intellect and abilities to your advantage a bad thing? Is "the tall man" really any different from H.S.?

H.S. says, " If you don't understand yourself – what you believe, who you are, what you want to do with your gift… You could be tricked into using it in ways you never intended."  Do you agree or disagree? Why? Do you think this is foreshadowing things to come for Willoughby in the future?

What is to come next?… ah, the million dollar question that will keep us looking for the next book!

Very Unleashable

Downtown Owl: A Novel
Date Posted: 8/5/2009 | Go To Book Page

Small town life from a teenager, a twenty something teacher and a pick-up truck driving-coffee drinking-widower getting on in his years. I enjoyed this romp through the 80s very much. But if you are reading it and think where the heck is this going, hold tight, cause the ending is one heck of a ride!
Very Unleashable

Farsighted
Date Posted: 5/21/2012 | Go To Book Page

I must admit, I have not read YA in… well, I can't remember the last YA book I have read, so I might not be the best judge of the book. There were definitely things I liked - the general storyline, the psychic abilities, the adolescence discovering their true selves, some of the plot twists, and the family issues. But the main character was so angry and seemed to become more and more unlikeable as the story went along. Thinking back to high school, I know the fact that he was blind would not have stopped me from being his friend, but his anger would have. But perhaps more YAers are angry and live with that angst more than I am aware. Or, perhaps the anger is just his way of dealing with the situation. I guess that could lead to some pretty good discussions to go with the book. I would really like to hear the perspective of someone in the target age group and would recommend it for teen book clubs. It seems to me like this book is going to be a great foundation book for the rest of the series. I think YAers especially will get into the almost graphic novel aspect of the books (which is slightly ironic given that there is no visual descriptions in the book - interesting aspect of the writing BTW). I am looking forward to reading more of the series, but am glad to see that Alex, the main character, will not be the focus going forward. Great foundation for the series though.

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Florence Gordon
Date Posted: 11/10/2014 | Go To Book Page

I loved this book. I thought the characters were interesting, the conflicts they were dealing with were thought provoking, the dialogue was entertaining and the writing style was just so fun that I just wanted to keep reading and reading… BUT, I WANT MY MONEY BACK! We only got half a story. The writer established the characters well. Then he set up the conflicts for each character to deal with. Then he FREAKIN’ ended the story!!!!! Seriously? I loved these characters and wanted to know how they were going to DEAL with everything and whamo - story done and we did not get to learn how they handled ANYTHING.

I mean MAYBE he was making a commentary on how people influence us and leave us… maybe, I mean when you reread the last few pages you can see that is what he is trying to get away with. But, more than anything I felt the author got lazy and didn’t finish the job he set out to do. I’ve seen stories that leave a few things to the imagination, but this was ridiculous. It could be an incredibly “clever” way to make a point, but… It is more like you could see how the author was working away (or wasn’t) and then got a letter from their publisher that said something like, “Finish this book in the next two days or pay back your advance,” so the author just ends the story in a couple of pages.

I can not tell you how disappointed I am. I was really enjoying the story and the characters! I was shocked the night I finished it, then I moved on to anger and now I am just sad. Well, I take that back, I am still going back and forth between disappointed and plain pissed off. Seriously? That is how you end an interesting and thought provoking book? It was NOT a clever ending. It was a copout. I am giving the author the benefit of the doubt and since I liked everything I did read so much I am giving this a 3. But it should have been a 5 out of 5 if only he had finished the story…. "sniff," "sniff," tear rolling down the check… "Grr!"... book thrown across the room!
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Gone Girl: A Novel
Date Posted: 12/30/2012 | Go To Book Page

Fascinating and complex in a way that makes you look at the small simple moments of life in the weirdest way. I've been struggling with what to say about this book. It is hard, as I don't want to give anything away… Although I originally did not want to read this, as I thought "trouble marriage? yeah, that is NOT what I want to fill my head with at all." Thankfully, and weirdly, that is not what your head really gets filled with (even though that is infused into every page) - instead you get sucked into the thought process of these two… um, without giving anything away, "interesting" people. The character development and crafting of this story are truly extraordinary! (Though I would have hacked down some of the first 140ish pages. That just kind of dragged on a bit.) I loved getting into the heads of these two, even if once inside I did not always like what I saw. But what I ultimately found the most talkable was in looking at this extreme couple, we see… um, "points to discuss" about marriage in general. So, yeah, not your typical book in any way, but great to read and lots to discuss. Really, really good pick for a book club for sure!

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In Leah's Wake
Date Posted: 1/30/2012 | Go To Book Page

Ok, I was a "Justine." Because of this… this book was a little hard to read. (Though my situation was NO WHERE near as extreme, and I think I made wiser decisions.) On that note, the author does a great job of seeping into the thought patterns of all of the characters, and bringing the reader along for the ride. All flawed personalities, and yet highly relatable at the same time. Of course I did want to slap-upside-the-head EVERY character at some point. Seriously, "think!" But all the oh-too-human choices they made just added to the journey.

My only complaint - the ending. I would have liked to see more of the "after" part explored more… which I guess is good, because I wanted to stay with the characters longer. 

Overall, this is an EXCELLENT book for book clubs. Lots of talking points. "What would you do?" - "Can you relate to their actions & thoughts?" Those two questions along will give you hours of things to talk about. 

Very Unleashable

Inferno: A Novel (Robert Langdon)
Date Posted: 11/7/2013 | Go To Book Page

Fascinating concept! Interesting facts... but this is the same old same old formula of his other books again... kinda boring.
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Landline
Date Posted: 7/30/2014 | Go To Book Page

I love the concept of this book - what if we could change the past to make things right in the present? I really enjoyed the unique way we got to watch the main couple’s early relationship develop. See how they fell in love and how they decided to be together, but then be with them as they questions if that love was enough to sustain and keep them together. Very clever and very fun presentation. Overall, it was a quick and fun read. A tad predictable, and took a bit to really get in the flow, but fun. I do think it brings up some good book club discussions: What if you could change the past? Are WE the best people for our significant others? Both in the past and now? How could we pledge to be better to them? Why are those mysterious boys that are withdrawn so appealing? Who would you want to talk to from your past? Who would you want to “make things right” with? What would you advice your past self to do or not to do? What is the best way to balance career and family? Is it fair to a spouse to work with an old crush/love? Is love enough? … ah, a nice easy breezy book that is sure to bring up some fun conversations.
Very Unleashable

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir)
Date Posted: 7/9/2012 | Go To Book Page

Word of warning: if you have insomnia do not read this book - it will be of no help what-so-ever. It was about 3 am, and I was trying to read a few pages to get myself to sleep and all of a sudden "Chalupa!" and I was laughing uncontrollably! On more than one occasion I just burst out into giggles. A lot of occasions actually. 

Warning number 2: After you read this book you will start to say, "F@ck," "Y'all," and "I'm feeling stabby." Not necessarily all at the same time, but those words will definitely become part of your inner monologue… because let's face it not many of us could pull off saying those things out loud. Yet Jenny does. Which is another reason to really enjoy this book. 

The book actually seems to be a an interesting inner look at someone who grew up with, well let's just say "issues" yet we get to watch her start to embrace herself, laugh at herself and take us along for the journey. With TONS of laughs yet much to discuss this is a great book pick for book clubs. 

Very Unleashable

Lexicon
Date Posted: 9/2/2013 | Go To Book Page

You have to love a book that is packed with adventure, moves a long at a pace that makes you not want to put it down, has a touch of a romance (and a bromance) and makes you think so much! That last part really is my favorite. I love-love-love a book that uses story yet sneaks in profound thoughts that just make you go, "whoa!" This book has several of those moments and a couple of them will leave you totally freaked out. Initially reading the description of the book I thought, "ah, sounds kinda interesting, but teens in a school for gifted kids… been there done that." But that first impression based on the back cover description was wrong-wrong-wrong. Once the book got rolling I found it to be fascinating and brought up so many interesting discussable points. 

Questions I found to ponder:

How pursuable do you think you are? Are people really trying to persuade each other all the time? 

In what ways do you persuade others?

In what ways are you being persuaded right now that you might not be aware? (Check out his whole monologue on the internet and the reporting of incidents in the news.) 

What desires define you? How could someone use that against you? Is it good to hide your desires so people can not manipulate you as much? 

Do we try to hide and alter ourselves in everyday life, or do we really want our desires and our true personality to be seen and secretly hope we are seen and exposed for exactly who we are? 

What good or ill comes from denying your desires? 

Is love the like a bare word?

What do you think about the reasoning Mr. Barry places on the "Tower of Babel" story in the bible? Have you ever heard of a better explanation? (Personally, the Tower of Babel story has bugged me forever, so this explanation knocked a few neurons.)

What power do words have? Have you ever become charmed or spellbound after you hear or read words? (Ever have a "book hang-over," anyone?)

What difference do you think it makes that "your brain converts the word into meaning, and that's a physical action" on your interpretation of the things you hear?

I have friends who study NLP, which this book often reminded me of, which sometimes make me not trust them because I know they COULD be messing with my head. How would, or does, it change your relationship with others if you think they MIGHT be able to mess with your mind?

Do you need to say something to make it real?

What persuasion, marketing gimmicks are you aware of and have seen in action? Since you knew about them ahead of time, do you feel you made UN-persuaded decisions instead when you were faced with them?  

Would it be good if we all knew how to manipulate and persuade so as not to fall victim, or if all knew these tactics, what kind of world would we live in?

If you could manipulate anyone to do what you wanted, what would you do with those abilities?

 

If I was the editor:

I would change that back cover description somehow to make it not seem like such a teens book.

Overall:

Read it! It is a fun mind bender that will give you a lot to discuss at your book club.

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Life After Life: A Novel
Date Posted: 4/23/2013 | Go To Book Page

Wow, how many ways can a person die? Answer: Lots! Which makes you think about the "vulnerability of your own life" thing.

And how many ways and different directions can/could a life go in? Answer: Infinite! Which just makes you wonder about soo many different things…

What if we are all in that loop and we are doing things differently this life time vs last? What from this life would you do differently next time around? Who would you make sure you could save or influence? Or, who would you come back and kill before they could do evil? If you were living the "same" life over and over, what things would you make sure you did every time? What happens when you get a life exactly as you want it? Do you keep repeating it, or take a few different routes for the sake of variety? 

This book had to be so much fun to write as the writer was able to explore so many different directions that Ursula's (and other's) lives could go in and the ripple effect that each of their individual choices could make. 

This is one of those books that is just pleasant to read, yet when you are done reading it is when it really gets good. It gets good afterwards because it opens your mind to a million questions. Which makes this a GREAT book club book. The ending is a little abrupt, but at the same time perfect and thought provoking too. It's a long book, but worth the pick for your next book club discussion.

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Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster
Date Posted: 1/30/2012 | Go To Book Page

With a glimpse into the private lives of Scott, Susan, Beth et. al. we get to know these beautiful people and witness how using the philosophy of "The Magic" can transform how you see and go through your life. I'm a fan of the magic, so I enjoyed that part and how the story reinforced the beliefs. On top of that there is a lot to enjoy and discuss here - some VERY humorous moments that had me laughing out loud - some very serious and emotionally complicated issues to deal with and overcome - some helpful construction techniques - and more. Though at times Scott seems a little too good to be true, and sometimes the dialogue a little contrived, overall this is good book and I agreed with reviewer that said it "is the 'Eat, Pray, Love' for guys - which women will adore." A fun read that is sure to get your club chatting. 

Side note: After laughing very hard at Scott and his piss ants. Karma came a knockin and I dreamt I was getting bitten by them too! Woke up itchy all over, but I had to laugh.

Another Side Note: Knowing that Scott started this book as a love letter to his wife was very heartwarming, and made the story a little extra special in my eyes.

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Mermaids in Paradise: A Novel
Date Posted: 12/29/2014 | Go To Book Page

This books sails likes the breeze off a tropical island… Well, a breeze that ebbs and flows over a ton of snarkiness at first. (Snarkiness that will have you giggling and OMGing and realizing that NO ONE IS SAFE from it!) For the most part though, the book is just a lighthearted and would be perfect to take as a vacation read. Then WHAMO! The ending throws in a twist from left field that makes you go, “Huh?! Well that changes the context of a few things.” And also TOTALLY bumps up the books discussable-ness. But upon reflection, even before you get to the ending twist, there are several discussion topics that this book will help facilitate, like: Our acceptance of the unbelievable. Our acceptance of information from others. How our opinions can change of people as we get to know them. How others can influence us. How far we will go to help another (or species). The angels and devils on our shoulders. Who is “Middle America” and what do they stand for and believe? What group fascinates you like Middle America fascinates Chip? Where do you find happiness? How do your differences with your significant other effect you? And how would those differences effect where you would go on vacation? Okay, those a just a few of the discussable points. Then the whamo twist happens at the end… and there is SO MUCH MORE to discuss, but I won’t spoil it for you. All in all, a nice easy read that will give your book club lots to discuss. I was going to give this book a 3 rating, as it was just kind of there yet fun, but the ending pulled this up to a 4. It is a good ending that will make you think.
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Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel
Date Posted: 11/26/2012 | Go To Book Page

I don't think I have ever read a book that felt so contemporary. It just touches on technology in such a way that it is a freaky snapshot of our time right now. I mean RIGHT NOW. Where other books might try to be a little more timeless, this one grabs the present and shakes it for all it is worth.

Definitely a book I looked forward to getting back to every night as it was just fun, breezy and intriguing.Though if you have the time, don't be surprised if as soon as you pick it up you have whipped though it because you didn't want to put it down.  It is not literary genius, though it is well written and well put together. The ending was a little, "ehh" for me, but in hindsight there is some brilliance to that too. DON'T let that dissuade you though, if you are looking for a light and fun read that has good talking points, this is it. And wow, did it make me completely intrigued about Google - and a little afraid of them all at the same time. ;) 

Love the geeks in the book. Love the archetypes. Loved the read. Looking forward to discussing it.

(Pick this for a busy month when you want a fun read that still has plenty to discuss.)

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Nightwoods: A Novel
Date Posted: 11/30/2011 | Go To Book Page

Um… huh… weird one. I mean I liked it, but… it seemed to meander a bit. Which made me want to scream "get on with it!" a few times. But I did liked the story. Really well written, except for the meandering. Which probably always served a point, but I just like to get to the point faster. :) And the characters really stick with you. Especially the language patterns. (I found myself giving a lot of one syllable answers to people this month.) As far as book clubbiness…. didn't seem like a lot to discuss. Not a book that you can't stop reading, but not a book you wan to throw across the room either. Read it for the characters and their development, then get some moonshine and THEN discuss with your club. I reckon that would spark things up a bit! 

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Olive Kitteridge: Fiction
Date Posted: 4/30/2010 | Go To Book Page

Olive, so complex, so misunderstood... with these little snippets from other's perspectives we sure were able to get into your life, and see your softer side! Not that you needed one, as you are perfectly fabulous in your misunderstood way. Definitely a good book to discuss with a book club!
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Our Tragic Universe
Date Posted: 11/26/2010 | Go To Book Page

How fun! Reading Scarlett Thomas' writing was a like a literary charged combo of Tom Robbins and Nick Hornby. I loved the stream of conscious jumping all around style. It can be difficult to follow if you put the book down, but if you can set aside some time, it can be so interesting and a dynamic ride. Lots of points to ponder woven through some fun characters and interesting shorelines. I think writers will really enjoy the references and education in story structure (or storyless stories). I found it all interesting, but I feel like if I was an English major I would have been tickle pink. As someone who was NOT an English major… it was, umm, interesting. And, of course, I loves the parts of the story that got into magic. A little romance, a little relationship conflicts (with some approachable characters), little bits of magic, writing lessons… no real tragedy, but that is ok by me - my head is still spinning from all of the ways to think about this book. I am looking forward to reading more of her work, and discussing the book.

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Room: A Novel
Date Posted: 10/27/2010 | Go To Book Page

What a fascinating book. At first it takes a bit to get into the language and flow, but once you do you find yourself thinking like Jack even when you are not reading. (At least I did.) The author creates such a vivid and real world inside of Room it is easy to feel like you are there. But since you are looking through Jack's eyes it is a world you don't necessarily want to leave. With subtleties like this we are really transported into the mind of Jack. Once they get to the outside world I had a harder time believing Jack's reactions. But, none the less, it was an interesting exploration of adapting to the "real" world. Definitely a good book for book clubs! Lots to talk about and explore.

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Something Wicked This Way Comes
Date Posted: 9/10/2012 | Go To Book Page

At times the language and rhythmic structure of the book were just beautiful… yet at others it was annoying, confusing, non-sensical and made me want to shout, "get on with it!" Granted, this book was written at a different time, but I thought the characters were cliche and the story wasn't very scary. (I think it would have been more intense and scary had it not had all the stream of conscious overly flowering rambling descriptions.) Perhaps I am a low-brow literature idiot, but this just did NOTHING for me and I could not wait for it to be done. If you need to read it for a class, it's not bad in that regard; however, if you are not being forced to read it, skip it.

Mildly Unleashable

Station Eleven: A novel
Date Posted: 9/24/2014 | Go To Book Page

Now this is a book that will make you think - I love that! I’m normally not a “post-apocalyptic” kinda girl, but this book just had a different feel to it. Really good writing. Interestingly woven together story lines and just tons of things to discuss. I found thoughts of the book kept coming to mind even though I finished it weeks ago. There is not only the content of the book to discuss; there is the “what would you be like? Where would you go? What would you do? Could you survive? IS survival insufficient? Would you kill to survive?” concepts to discuss; then there is the “how likely is this kind of situation?” question; plus the whole “does it make you appreciate your current life more and in what ways?” to contemplate; or, “how is the life in the book actually better in ways than life as we now know it?” Oh, and as far as content discussions go, be sure to bring up the, “are you a sleepwalker? and if so, what are you going to do about it?” because I actually think a lot of people should think about that. And finally, don’t forget to discuss the, “are you doing anything to prepare for such an event? If so, what?Or, can you even prepare for an event like that?” And, finally, don’t forget to bring up the “email gun” ha! love it! It’s a good read that will keep you thinking about it long after you are done read it!
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The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
Date Posted: 3/2/2014 | Go To Book Page

This was a nice light read. Fun enough, but not “can’t put it down” read. I would say, “pure entertainment,” but that is not correct. There was actually a nice history refresher course built into the entrainment. Other than the history refresher course though, as you are reading, there is just not a lot to have to wrap your brain around. Which, I guess, is good for the entertainment factor, but I was a little worried whether or not it could lead to a good book club discussion. So, I was happy to see that there are already discussion questions written… but I’m sorry to say, those seemed a tad lame. I mean seriously, one of the questions was if you had read any books by other Swedish novelists, and another was “did you laugh [at all]?” Seriously? Doesn’t say much for the discussability factor if even the publisher is stretching it to come up with something to discuss! So let me add a few questions here that just might spice up your discussion and turn this into a good book club book after all: 1. At the age of 100, Alan was able to jump out a window and dare to have a new life. If you were as unhappy as Alan, would you have the guts to do the same? 2. Alan has the attitude that, “Things are what they are, and whatever will be will be.” What truth do you think that holds for Alan? What about for you? How would your life change if you tried to adopt Alan’s attitude and just go with the flow? 3. “…Alan considered that in general it was quite unnecessary to be grumpy if you had the chance not to.” I totally agree! Do you? Do you follow that advice? Do you really? What tricks have you learned to snap YOU out of the grumps? Or, would you say being grumpy has it’s advantages? What advantages have you seen come out of being grumpy? (There has to be some.) So, is Alan right, or wrong? Is being grumpy “quite unnecessary” or can it be good? 4. What do you think of Alan’s philosophy that “The solution [to most disagreements] was often to down a bottle of vodka together and then look ahead”? What roll does vodka serve as in this story? In history? In resolution of conflicts? Does anyone else want to recommend that our current government do this? What do you think would result? 5. Politics. Alan hates politics. Would there be advantages if all of just just stopped caring about politics, or anarchy? 6. What did you think about the typo found in the misprinted bibles? (I totally laughed out loud there.) Any truth to it? Or what thoughts did that bring up for you? 7. Alan does not let age stop him. Are you letting age stop you from anything? What makes you say, “I’m too old for this ____”? Are you really? Whew! That should spice up the discussion a bit! I feel better now. It might not necessarily be questions about the book, but I would love to hear some of your answers! So if you are looking for a nice light read one month, where you need to reveal a bit about yourself by answering the discussion questions above, this would be a good pick. If you really want to “discuss the book” though, I’d look for a different book.
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The Age of Miracles: A Novel
Date Posted: 7/9/2012 | Go To Book Page

This book is brilliantly written, well conceived, and incredibly discussable. BUT the instant I started reading it I want it to be done. I have an overactive imagination that just makes things seem real and this was WAY too real feeling. I do not want the thoughts of this book in my head… but now they are here. It is a book that will freak you out and that I am going to try to forget every word, but I know they will leach into my thoughts at all the weirdest of times from now until the events in the book actually take place and I will probably die. Ugh! See? Horrible thoughts. If you are into end-of-time scenarios give the book a whirl - like I said, plenty to discuss. But if your imagination is like mine - SAVE YOURSELF!!! 

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The Anatomy of Ghosts
Date Posted: 2/29/2012 | Go To Book Page

Writing style = great - the language of the time was excellently done. This is the best part about this book.
Writing = a tad wordy and over descriptive for me… on more than one occasion I just thought, "get on with it, we don't need to know these details…"
Story = interesting enough. Lots of layers which did make for a rich unpredictable story.
Discussable point for book club = ah, overall, mildly discussable. Though I love how he discussed how both the future and the past seemed to haunt the characters. This is a very discussable topic and I think will make for a good book club discussion.
Ending = truly made me mad. I just invested how much time reading this story and you only really let me know what happened to a couple characters!!! You got to be kidding me! Yes, the "mysteries" were wrapped up, but what is going to happen to the characters?! Some authors love to do this, thinking, "Well, this way you get to decide for yourself what happens…." COP OUT! I read so the author can tell me a story. Not so I can make one up myself!  Some authors may leave the conclusion for the characters open ending to set up a sequel, but if that is what is going to happen with this book, I'm afraid finding out what happens to them will not be worth the wordy time.

All that said, overall I did enjoy the reading and the concept of the "hauntings" that each character was dealing with, but I just wish he would have finished writing the book!

Oh, one more word for warning - this book starts out weird… and about 30% through I thought, "something better happen soon or I'm going to go crazy" - but it does pick up and the weird beginning is not so weird once you get into the book.
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The Angel Makers
Date Posted: 1/30/2012 | Go To Book Page

Book club gold!! Interesting story line with sooo much to talk about and really great writing. What more can you ask for? Well, in the case of this town… not to get on anyone's bad side! What starts out as "necessity" and self defense turns into the ultimate power trip for some of these ladies, who will off you if you look at them cross ways. Oh, baby, is this a juicy book - and it's based on a real story!! What a kicker! Addressing such topics as: self respect, abuse, social conventions, the roles of the sexes, war, survival, friendships, lovers, love, motherhood, and oh yeah…. all the killings - you will not be bored reading this book. I can't wait to discuss this one at book club… especially the idea that Judit puts out there that "you always have a choice." But does she? Oh, it is going to be a fun discussion!

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The Angel's Game
Date Posted: 9/29/2009 | Go To Book Page

Perhaps I am a tad slow, but the story left me saying, "Heh?" That's right, not, "Huh?" but "Heh?"... I loved the writing and really did enjoy reading this, but I felt like a lot of things wrapped up and I was not exactly clear what happened. The dialogue between the boss and David was VERY interesting, but I imagine a lot of people are not going to like it. But for me that was my favorite part. Overall, interesting read and if it was not so freakin long I would reread it just so I could "get it" a tad more... Oh, and I'd advice reading it on a Kindle as the book is ha-eavy! Metaphorically and in weight. ;)
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The Art of Racing in the Rain
Date Posted: 8/9/2009 | Go To Book Page

How can you not like this book? Seriously cute and such a tear jerker. Enzo, I just want to give you a big belly rub! You did such a good job of taking care of the family and especially Denny.
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The Borrower: A Novel
Date Posted: 9/2/2011 | Go To Book Page

Things to like about this book: 
1. Ian - OMG, could this precocious little guy be any more lovable? 
2. The writing - I was just about jumping up and down in my seat as started reading this. Some books are just fun to read. This is one of them. 
3. Taking on the issue of "converting" homosexuals. There are soooo many different people in the world - ACCEPT OTHERS FOR WHO THEY ARE!!!! Ok, now you know where I fall on this discussion. ;)
4. The reference and promotion of several different fun books for kids. Lots of fun blasts from the past that made you realize how books HAVE influenced us.
5. The ending. Though initially I was disappointed, I quickly realized the point that we can never really know how we touch another's life. Good point to hold in mind.
6. And taking on the topic of how our up-bring influences us. Interesting discussion point again.

Things that were ahh… "so-so" about this book:
1. The Mr. Shadey plot line was a tad too predictable. 
2. The book does seem to meander a little longer than it need be.
3. I would have liked to know more about the rally anyhow one missing boy effected a movement. (But that could just be me.)

Overall:
Read it! Such a hot issue to discuss presented in SUCH a fun way. Easy fun read that you will not be disappointed with at Book Club. 


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The Casual Vacancy
Date Posted: 10/29/2012 | Go To Book Page

Talk about diving into small town politics - wowza! She nailed that! But more than that, I think J.K. Rowley proves her writing brilliance by picking such a simple and relatable backdrop to tell so many good messages through. There were a ton of good messages and thoughts, but what I love about this book most is how it demonstrates how so many lives can affect one and how one can also affect so many around them. Sometimes directly, and sometimes by degrees of separation. 

This is well worth the read and filled with tons of talking points for your book club. It is long - and my guess is if it was any other writer the publishers would have insisted it be cut by 200 pages - luckily for us J.K. has enough clout to create a long book that can get past the publishers and we can savor. (There are maybe only 2 characters I would have edited down a bit.) I will suggest that as soon as you start reading you create a cheat sheet of the characters on a book mark. I'll admit it, I did this and was happy I did. So many characters! But the quantity of characters really does help make the point of the book (or at least the main point I got) and shows how our interweaving of our lives and the causes and effects of our actions spread out into the world. 

This is one of those books that as you are reading it will seem like, "ah, this is a good book. Not great, but good." Then, the more you think about it, the more you will appreciate it. The tangling and intersecting of the story lines was brilliantly executed, and the writing is excellent - sure to be a book club hit!

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The Circle
Date Posted: 12/2/2013 | Go To Book Page

Wowza, this book will get you thinking and wondering if you've drunk the "internet social media kool-aid" yet. This book is a PERFECT book club book with TONS to discuss. Written in a fast-fun style that makes it an easy read and keeps you wondering what is going to happen next - to the point you won't want to put it down. I really loved all the conversation points it brought up around our internet and social media usage, issues around current romantic connections, dating, friendships, privacy, and especially how much do we really want to know about other, and how much do we want to be known? Everyone seems to crave that feeling of being known or seen… but do we really want to have EVERYTHING known? This book explores all that and more! Just a FEW questions to contemplate: Mae is evaluated and scored in all her activities at work. Ratings and ranks giving her non-stop instant feedback as to how she is doing. Do you think this would be productive and helpful in the work environment? How would you like that kind of non-stop instant feedback on your work performance? (What do you think about Francis' request for feedback on his "performance"?) How does this compare to our "Likes" "Dislikes" and comments on Facebook? How do they influence your social media activity and most of all - your mood? Mae's online and offline social involvement is considered vital to her work. Should that (being technically more of a private aspect of life) be even considered as a factor in her "work" performance? What would you think if there was SeeChange cameras everywhere in real life? Would that change YOUR behavior? What about the other monitoring systems that were proposed? The neighborhood watch? The in house "violence" level? Do you view your social media activity as an "act of community" as Gina implied in her initial "scolding" of Mae's lack of social media presence? Mae seems to constantly change her behavior based on the feedback of her superiors. Is she just super needy and have a need to please everyone, or is she absorbing feedback and improving at her job? Would you "take" all the feedback from her superiors as constructive? or is some of it over the line? If "The Circle" environment requires that kind of social media activity of their employees to fit in with their culture, would you step up YOUR game and participate more, or leave such an "amazing opportunity"? Was Alister in any way justified in his reaction to Mae not responding to his invitation to brunch? Have you ever had a similar experience on social media or through an evite event? Do you think a service like LuvLuv would be good for dating, or does it take away from the whole"getting to know you" experience of dating? Mae was upset that LuvLuv presented an essence of her that was incomplete. Does the social media tools we have now give us a better understanding of our friends, or are we only seeing the parts of them they want us to see? Do you think this incomplete view of Mae helped her make her decision to go transparent? When she is transparent, do we really get a complete view of her though? Or the censored version of her? Do your thoughts sway team Mercer, or team Mae? (Keep your life private or participate in every way social?) Mercer talks about a new neediness that is developing because of social media? Any truth to that? Mercer also mentions that a social media binge is like eating a bag of chips - afterwards you know you have done nothing good for yourself. Any truth to that? Do you think this book is a true predictor of where the internet and social media are going? Does it make you want to run to the woods and hide too? Wow, I could keep going and going and going with the questions!!! This book just raises a ton of good talking points. It is GREAT for book club discussions. I mean I did not even get into the whole romantic relationships and friendship relationship questions this book raises!!! Fun, fast read that really will make you think - definitely pick it for your next book club.
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The Enchanted: A Novel
Date Posted: 4/30/2014 | Go To Book Page

Now this is a really good book club book! So many topics to discuss - the prison system, corruption, the making of criminals, the social services system, the roll of assault, the roll of imagination, resilience, the power of books, who is sane and who is sick, how are things can be interpreted differently when the names were “lady” vs. Joanna, and so much more. The writing had a rhythm that was just beautiful. There were a few times that left me a little confused, but I was not sure if that was because it had been a few days since I had picked up the book though… (I recommend reading it in a short time span.) Overall, VERY interesting read and perfect for your book club. I found myself being quite moved and horrified by the prison system.
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The Gerbil Farmer's Daughter: A Memoir
Date Posted: 1/30/2012 | Go To Book Page

Of all the books that I have read while being involved in book clubs, I think this would have to rank in the top 5 as being PERFECT for books clubs... and right now I can't think of what the other 4 would be... It is such a unique story that at the same time I think everyone can relate to. Holly writes in such an engaging way that makes you know her and her family and feel like they are your family. So many discussable points - growing up, fitting in, following your dreams, animal research, family dynamics, parenting styles - you name it, there is something good to discuss for anyone. 

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The Girl on the Train: A Novel
Date Posted: 3/1/2015 | Go To Book Page

Interesting enough story. Good writing. Plenty to discuss. But, man, did this story progress slowly. (Honestly, the first 70% of this book should really be condensed.) The super slow pace and the just stupid decisions that the main character kept making, just made me not want to get back to the story… which just made the whole thing draw out longer. I mean, you definitely feel for the main character, especially at the end, but for most of the story she just irritated me. And, basically, everyone is a little off their nutter in the story. I know that makes for drama, but wowza, these people have ISSUES, and none of them really made me care about any of them. And really, there is some underlying issues with men in this writing. I do think there is a lot to discuss: alcoholism, reality vs impressions people make, reality vs what you are swayed to believe, reliability of memories, dealing with your issues, depression, dealing with people with issues, wanting babies, not wanting babies, the reality of having a baby, desires, infidelity - seriously, a lot to discuss. So, all in all a good book club read. And it might seem strange with all that going on, but (yawn)… too slow making it a tad boring and in ways predictable.
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The Goldfinch
Date Posted: 1/1/2014 | Go To Book Page

This is the “How I Met your Mother” of books. I mean, I like that show, and I liked this book, but it is one loooooong convoluted way to tell a story. I mean looooong… but I did enjoy it. The writing really sucked you in and made you happy to get back to it each night, but it also had me mentally screaming at it, “Shut up! Shut up already!! We get it. This is what was happening at that point in his life. We get it. Now, MOVE ON!” …then a bit little bit later, “Seriously, shut up already!!!” …then it would move on and be quite lovely. I also loved that I had no real idea where it was going, but I knew it would all intertwine in a wonderful way. Which it did, only to reach the end and get to these wonderful philosophical points that that made you think - which I just love love love in book… but also just had me about in tears because the FREAKIN’ Kindle would not seem to get off 98% and I thought it would NEVER END! Oh-my-gosh! Seriously, “SHUT UP already!”… but great thoughts that one day I will want to revisit by reread the last 3% of this book to really absorb…. but at a much later date when I am not so sick of it. Total love-hate with this book. Really enjoyed it, but by the end really hated how long it was. All kidding aside the editor should have forced the writer to condense it by at least 15% - which would have been very easy to do. Move it along, we get the point. (Oh, you are sick of me saying that? Well, now you get my point.) I highly recommend the book, but only if you are NOT reading it for a book club that meets monthly. It is just toooooooo long for a one month reading (especially one with the holiday distractions). If you force yourself to do that, I think you just get too overwhelmed and sick of the massive amount of reading to cram in at the end (like I did). BUT, if you are looking for a nice long book to enjoy for a long time - this is great! Intricate story with interesting characters. The main character, Theo, though fascinating to “watch” as an adolescent dealing with tragedy and making poor choices, quickly becomes cringe worthy but all so human and easy to relate to as his behaviors continue. Which I think creates a lot of good talking points that will lead to some good book club discussions. Other great talking points including: class, alcoholism, art, the foster system, death, tragedy, work ethics, the value of objects, parenting, friendship and love to name just a few. Plenty to discuss, but give yourself a lot of time to meander through the reading to really enjoy the entirety of the book.
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The Good House: A Novel
Date Posted: 2/28/2013 | Go To Book Page

The Good House was GOOD! I was expecting a fun quirky story, and it was delivered. I was not expecting such an interesting exploration of alcoholism… but got it! But those deep thoughts don't really hit you fully until the end. Which I loved, because you really got to get into and enjoy the story and then were filled with thoughts at the end that will lead to some very interesting book club discussions. LOVE IT! What I loved even more was Hildy. She reminded me so much of one of my sexagenarian friends. Not the alcohol part, but the sassy fun loving part. The author really wrote a very believable character in my eyes. The whole time I felt like my friend was just telling me one of her crazy stories. (I love my friend so much that that this fact may be slanting my opinion here. As I felt like I got to spend a lot of time with a good friend.) Good writing, fast read, fun story and one that will make you think and have a great book club discussion. Don't hesitate to pick it for your book club.

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The Good Luck of Right Now
Date Posted: 6/28/2014 | Go To Book Page

I really liked the concept of this book. I loved the end of it. And there is plenty to discuss - What is normal? How can pretending something is true (Richard Gere’s friendship and the Aliens) help you cope with tragedy? What roll does faith play in our lives? Is there any validity to the theory of “the good luck of right now” Bartholomew’s mom told him about? How is the “tangent that has led us away from the past into the now” handled by the characters? How do YOU handle it? Bartholomew uses an equation of what happened in his life and what his life now equals (p.217), what would your equation be? Does God do coincidences? What constitutes family? What did you think of the beauty Max saw in the Cat Parliament? What is your “life goal” and how did the character’s goals help them progress? - For all the good things there was to discuss, I gotta say, I did not care for the writing. The whole thing is written in various letters to Richard Gere. Which is clever, but felt “too clever” if you know what I mean. It felt like a writing student being overly clever to get the easy A instead of really developing the story in it’s natural state. And the main character, and writer of the letters, is suppose to be “mentally challenged” but the language and some of the concepts and observations he makes seem way above the mental level that the character is suppose to be at accruing to the narrator. Which, maybe there is some deeper message in that… but I just could not “buy it” - it did not read genuine to the character’s description. This highly irritated me for a long time (especially when you have read something like “Room” in the past), well it irritated me for as long as the story just kind drug on in the beginning. But once the story started to pick up (about half way through) then I just gave myself permission to let go of this irritation and go with the story. Then it all became much better. Overall, easy read, fun discussion is possible, but don’t read this one for the writing.
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The Hierophant of 100th Street
Date Posted: 4/30/2010 | Go To Book Page

What a fascinating look at the reactions and actions of a handful of people growing up in a economically deprived neighborhood. Some into the pits of drugs and crime while Adam finds a home in spirituality. I really enjoyed the interconnectivity of the characters and story lines. And of course, I enjoyed the spirituality angle. Very interesting, though at the end it got a tad much for even me. Though I think it will bring up some good conversations about people's personal beliefs in book club's discussion. I would advise to somehow put out of your head that this book is semi-autobiographical. When I thought of it as just a story, I was fine with everything & really enjoyed the book. As a autobiography tough, I found myself irritated with Adam's interpretations of his own life. So, if you can, try to put that out of your head. Or better yet, bring all those thoughts to your books club meeting and share and discuss! Overall what makes this book for me is the characters and how it becomes so easy to empathize with them and really feel their story.
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The Humanity Project
Date Posted: 5/8/2013 | Go To Book Page

If you are looking for a redemptive story that will make you feel good about humanity… this is not it. This is more, "let's dive into a bunch of sad stories so you can feel as bad as the main characters do." On that note, the author does do a very good job of making you feel and understand the actions and circumstances of the characters and the writing is very good. But personally, I don't want to feel like crap the entire time I am reading a book. The book started out and I was like, "okay, you have to establish a starting point for the character, feel their sadness & understand what brought them to these low points…" but it just never switch over to any redemption of humanity or answered any of the compelling questions that the "Humanity Project" was suppose to tackle. Maybe I should not have expected that, but then why even have the whole "Humanity Project" sub-plot in the book at all? 

The characters face some very current and timeless issues. For that reason I think there could be some good book club discussions to go along with the book. But the characters are a little cliche in my opinion. Especially the men, who seem desperate to see a "little action" and make bad decisions because of this. Come on. Not all men are sex starved lazy idiots who can't seem to help themselves much. Actually that is probably why I really did not like this book. There is only one character that is actually trying to make a change for themselves - Conner. Even though he does it in some not so good ways sometimes. The rest are just all, "duh, okay life handed me these lemons, so I will pucker up now" people. Screw that! Make some lemonade people!!  If you like lemons, pick this book. If you aspire to lemonade and redemption of humanity… find another.

Mildly Unleashable

The Hundred-Year House
Date Posted: 8/31/2014 | Go To Book Page

This is a book that the minute you get done reading you will want to pick up and read all over again just to see the unfolding in new light. It fills in the pieces as it goes… but they are pieces that you did not even realize were missing until the puzzle comes clear and you then truly see the picture. But now the details that make EVERYTHING make sense is such a beautiful way. Wonderfully written, cleverly presented and just an overall good read. It was so much more than what I was expecting when we picked it, and how often can we say that in an industry that so often allows formulas, predictability and “books that have sold like this” to determine our reading fates. (But it is the books that break the mold, like this, that capture our hearts.) One of my favorite lines of the book came in the acknowledgments. At the very end, Ms. Makkai says, “This book started as a short story about male anorexia. I have no idea what the hell happened.” Ha! Love it! So like the book that captures a place that seems to bring about destinies that only the house already knows, has determined, and facilitates if things are not going according to plan. Very much a book worth reading and allowing yourself to become haunted by! Change your fate by reading the book, or realize it was your fate to read the book all along. Either way, read the book. ;o)
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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Date Posted: 5/31/2010 | Go To Book Page

What a story! What issues to be discussed! And it's all real! This story will make you look at medical research, profits & loses, race, culture, social classes, and education in a whole new conflicting light. Most of all it will make you thankful to Henrietta for her contribution to the world. And thankful to her family for putting up with this crazy world. Fast read with so much to talk about - perfect for book clubs or just interesting to read just for your own knowledge.


Very Unleashable

The Kings and Queens of Roam: A Novel
Date Posted: 6/28/2013 | Go To Book Page

This book has a couple things that I absolutely love in books: 1. It is quirky and fun. (But that's to be expected from the author of Big Fish.) 2. It is filled with "thought bombs" sure to provoking great discussions. (Seriously, I Kindle highlighted this book more than just about any other fiction book ever.) And last but not least… 3. The writing is goooood. (More on the wonderful flow of the language later. ) Loved it! Though I was not too sure about the end… but that in itself brings up lots to discuss, so I'll take it. ;) 

With crazy characters, both dead and alive, this book raises questions like: What does it mean to love and protect another? What is the harm in lying? What does it really mean to "create your own world" either in reality or in your mind? How much of our lives is shaped by the interference of others? What does it mean to forgive another? And so much more! It is a perfect book club pick for the club that gets into quirky stories and characters.

Speaking of quirk, anyone remember that show Pushing Daisies? For whatever reason, as soon as I started to read this book, the voice in my head was the narrator from Pushing Daisies.  I have not even seen that many episodes of the show, but there the voice was from the beginning telling me yet another quirky story. Which made the whole book that much better!  If you can, Google the show to remind yourself of the voice before you start reading. It is sure to enhance the story and make you smile. Enjoy!

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The Leftovers
Date Posted: 1/30/2012 | Go To Book Page

I… liked it. I pause because, it's kind of a book where when it ends you ask, "What the h#ll just hit me?" COMPLETELY original story line. I was truly amazed at where all the characters went (the ones who "survived" the sudden departure that is). The concept overall was just intriguing. The writing was great. The ending - not at all what I was expecting, but not an ending that leaves you mad at the book and wanting to throw it against the wall by any means. I just was not expecting that ending. (I love that when writers can just surprise you like that.)  Early on I kept having dreams about what was going on in the book, so it is definitely a book that gets into your psyche. It dragged on a bit in the middle, but no worries there…. it's worth the read. It's just one of those books that make you think. Thereby, it is GRAT for book clubs. Lots to discuss. 

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The Maid's Version: A Novel
Date Posted: 11/1/2013 | Go To Book Page

I would call this a good book for a writer's class. It has excellent writing and tone, and presents a story in a unique fashion. After that… um, it was just kind of boring. Now I fully admit, my opinion of this book may be being tainted since I am super swamped this month, but I just never got to the point where I was excited to pick this book up again. I could not even use it as a distraction. In fact, most nights I'd crawl in bed eager to do some reading, then realize, "Oh, crumbs, I'm still reading this book." But, like I said, my opinion may be tainted this month. But… even looking back on it, I don't find it to be discussable. I mean I am trying to come up with a relevant discussable question right now, maybe about poverty and ramification, etc. and I got NOTHING. Because none of that was really that relevant to the "mystery of the explosion." The interweaving of the story lines and how they all came together to create the conditions of the explosion is interesting and well conceive, but even that was anti-climactic. If you are a fiction writer, definitely give this a go. Otherwise… I'd pass on this one.

Mildly Unleashable

The Middle Place
Date Posted: 8/9/2009 | Go To Book Page

SOOO good. One minute crying, the next laughing. Greenie, I love how you make everyone feel so special. Kelly, I love how you just find the humor and joy in so much of life.
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The Most Dangerous Thing
Date Posted: 9/28/2011 | Go To Book Page

Ba-Ba-Booooorrrrriiing! Sorry to be so cranky about it, but this book was just boring.  It SOUNDS interesting, and I think there will be some good things to discuss at book club, but… it was just boring. My husband asked me what it was about, so I explained (I'll spare you, because you can read the author's description). He said, "That sounds really interesting." And to my amazement, it DID sound interesting… but it just wasn't. Even the climax was a snooze. TOOOOO much back story. Not enough action and the action - though not predictable - was lame. Go-Go was the most interesting character of the lot, but we only were able to see glimpses of him through the other's eyes for the most part. I think following HIS story from his eyes would have been much more interesting then all these lamos. Because there is actually enough to discuss (though you might not realize that at the time of reading) I'll give it a "Mildly Unleashable." But, if you are looking for a truly enjoyable read, leave it on the shelf. 

Mildly Unleashable

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel
Date Posted: 7/9/2013 | Go To Book Page

The things I liked about this story: 
1. The writing. Nicely done. 

2. With the right discussion questions I think there is going to be some very interesting discussions that go along with this book, as there are some very interesting points sprinkled in the book. 

3. The view from the seven year old perspective for much of the story. 

Some things I did not like so much: 
1. The view from the seven year old perspective for much of the story.
I know I just said that I liked it, but I both liked and disliked that. Mr. Gaiman does a good job of writing from the seven year old perspective… so I kind of wish he just wrote a children's book. Primarily that is how this book read to me - as a kids book. A good kids book at that, but a kids book. With a wild imagination that kids could really get into… but as an adult, well… it was little too over the top fantasy for me. Totally reminded me of, "Something Wicked This Way Comes." Which I also read as an adult, and did not enjoy so much. But even though I think this whole book would be a fascinating read for a kid, there is one scene that is included which makes me say, "Don't have your kids read this!" It is not gratuitous, but that is just NOT the kind of book discussion I would be looking for from this book.

If I was the editor: I would reframe this as a kid's book. Just tame down that one scene and you have a better market for the book. (Love the book cover though.) 

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The Other Life
Date Posted: 3/31/2011 | Go To Book Page

If you like romance novels, you will like this book. … but I am not a fan of romance novels. From the description, I was not expecting this to be one, so I felt DUPED! And I was more than a little annoyed by that too. There is still plenty to discuss at a book club gathering, but there was a little too much "oh, I desire him AND I still desire to be with him too", when there was really no contest and there was not even a conflict for the main character Quinn. So that was a little pointless to me. The mother-daughter angle was much more interesting… But overall, this was not half as interesting or heartwarming as I was expecting. The portals to these alternate lives with different choices made is such an interesting concept- which is totally up my ally, but even that wasn't working for me here. And the main character, Quinn, was not that interesting either… Overall, interesting concept that just did not have the guts, plot, depth of characters… anything. I'd give this a 2 star personally, maybe even a 1, but I think it will still provide enough content for good conversation, so that brings it up a 3 for me. BARELY. You know what, no it's a 2. Sorry. If you aren't, poo-poo on romances, as I am, and want an easy read that will still give you enough to talk about, you might like this - but … this was not for me. 

Mildly Unleashable

The Pale King
Date Posted: 5/27/2011 | Go To Book Page

Life is too short. That is my conclusion. I did not come to this conclusion from the content in this book, rather… from fighting to stay awake after a couple pages of reading. BORING!!!! So 7% (Kindle reading) into this book, I decided "life was too short" and that there were a lot of other things I would rather read. Perhaps even the back of the Lysol can… So, I know this is suppose to be some "brilliant novel" according to all the "real" reviewers out there…. well, call me stupid, 'cause this was just boring. So yeah, 7% into a 560 page book put me at 39.2 pages in. Normally I give a book at least 50. I stopped reading it… then I started to feel bad about not upholding my commitment here (and perhaps a little stupid for not liking it when it is suppose to be brilliant), so I got a copy of the audio book from ww.audible.com. Which is cool, cause I can listen to it on my Kindle. This was much better in the fact that the reader was prepared enough to put good inflections into his reading. Which definitely made it easier to digest. For this book, DEFINITELY get the audio…. but here again, as of now I am only about 3 hours into it, from the little line at the bottom of the page it looks like there are about 24 hours in total… and I am not going to get there. Moments of humor, for sure. But just moments. Worth the time? NO! But at least with the audio version I can get other things done at the same time. Like wash the dishes, or put myself to sleep. Big SNOOZE. Life is too short. DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME! … can we sell Kindle books and audio downloads we don't want? Anyone know? Or can we give them away? If you know how, let me know and I'll give them to you for free!

Do not Unleash

The Paris Wife: A Novel
Date Posted: 4/29/2011 | Go To Book Page

This book has some of the most beautiful phraseology I think I have ever read. The author really has done a wonderful job of melding the language of the time with descriptions that make you just want to reread some of the copy outloud as you go along. Seriously I had to stop reading and say, "Wow, you have to hear how she said this…" several times. Beautiful! On top of that the story is woven together very well. It's not a "can't put down" kind of book, but it definitely held my interest. I think the foreshadowing at the start kept me more in anticipation and was a brilliant way to go about things. Hadley herself… well, she… followed her dream of being the best wife she could be. Though I so so wished she had done something more with her talents, versus just letting herself take a supporting role to Earnest… that did seem to be her dream, so - I guess, good for her. (That's just not my cup of tea.) Earnest you just wanted to slap and tell him to stop being such a spoiled brat much of the time! At other times his charming nature was irresistible. I can see why Hadley fell for him.What I absolutely LOVED about the book is how it demonstrated that there is no "self made man" that there is always a slew of people influencing and supporting these stars in becoming who their potential allows them to become. We would not have the books of Earnest Hemingway had there been no Hadley in the picture. Her love and support (financial support too) allowed him to explore and really follow his passion. It was nice to see the story of a character who normally is the side character and see life through their eyes. Beautiful read, with LOTS to discuss. I give it a 4.5.

Very Unleashable

The Paying Guests
Date Posted: 10/30/2014 | Go To Book Page

There is tons to discuss in this book. Tons! Which makes it perfect for a book club pick, but if you are not in a book club, SKIP IT!!= I mean, the writing is very good and quite fitting for the time period. The Lesbian love scenes were pretty steamy, so if you are into any kind of romance this should work for you. The overall falling in love part was nicely handled. The “murder” and mayhem were quite sufficient. That said… ugh! This book was way too long and I could not wait for it to end.

Actually, first I could not wait for it to START - as in nothing that interesting happened until 38% into the book! That is correct. THIRTY-EIGHT percent! Now, when we pick the official book pick each month for BB we look at several books before the final decision is made. So, by the time I actually get to reading the book, I have often forgotten what it is all about. As was the case with this book. It is kind of fun to read like that, as you don’t know if you are reading a ghost story or a romance or a thriller or what. So as I started to read the book, a scene would start, and I would get all excited thinking, "THIS is the scene that something dramatic is going to happen and start to propel this story forward…" But time and time and time again it was, "nope, nothing that interesting happen there either." This happened again and again until 38% into the book, and this was a 568 page book! Did you notice how I said time and time and again and again twice and then now am talking about it again. Well if you like that sort of thing then you might like this book. Jiminy Crickets, we get the point, move on!

Okay, back to the 38%… well, that is a lot of blah blah blah to get to some juicy bits. Then there was a ton of drama, then there was a ton of “will they get caught?… nope, Oh, but will they get caught?…. nope…oh, will they confess? Nope… Oh, will they confess?… Or, will they get caught? (You’ll have to read it to see if they get caught or confess),” but basically replay and replay that loop for the rest of the book. Agh!

By the end I wanted them caught, murdered or something in-between because I couldn’t even stand these whinny girls anymore. Talk about over thinking, over analyzing, over saying the same thing over and over again, and narrating too many details! Agh! I kept wanted to tell them to “shut up (their thoughts) and get on with it!” Send them to the chair I just did not care anymore! Actually, sit in an electric chair while you read this so you can zap yourself every once in awhile to stay awake while you read it. Snooze! I’ve never been so thankful for insomnia in my life as it allowed me to get through the book.

…. um, I don’t mean to be this mean about it… If they had chopped out at least 100 pages I think it would have made the book into a REALLY good book. So if you have more patience than me, pick it up. It is highly discussable. And, the book cover is gorgeous, so props for that.
Mildly Unleashable

The Phantom Tollbooth [Unabridged] (Audio CD)
Date Posted: 11/4/2013 | Go To Book Page

This book is so fun and clever! Seriously brilliant. The wording just made me want to read it out loud. Loved it! (Not necessarily for book clubs, but you must read this to your kids.)
DEFINITELY Unleash it

The Professionals
Date Posted: 4/30/2012 | Go To Book Page

Give it an "Unleash It" or a "Very Unleashable" rating is the question I am pondering for this book… It was good writing that just zipped along. Seriously, this was a super fast read & enjoyable, but not earth shattering or that stimulating either. (A good vaca-don't-really-need-to-think book.) It kept me interested. I wasn't really a mystery since you knew what was going on the whole time by being inside everyone's head. The question was more of "what is going to happen"… actually, I think the main thought that was running through my mind as I read this was, "who am I routing for?" Which I think was only answered by the fact that I did not like the ending. But I only got to that conclusion at the end. I think the fact that you are really allowed to get in all of the character's heads was the best part about this book. You got to sympathize with all of them and feel their real and vulnerable selves. Which is why I think it will make for a pretty decent book club discussion. And now that I have reach the end of the review, I think I have decided to go with the "Very Unleashable" rating - don't expect to contemplate it for years to come, but have a fun fast read and light-hearted discussion with your clubies over it. 

Very Unleashable

The Pursuit of Other Interests: A Novel
Date Posted: 3/24/2010 | Go To Book Page

This is a very humorous book, but at the same time.... so much of it I wanted to yell at Charlie BEFORE he did half the things he did and tell him to, "Stop! Don't do it!" Reading all the... well, I'll call them "stupid" things he did made me uncomfortable, but I guess that helps set up the drama/conflict/etc.  (But I also can't watch "Meet the Fockers" cause I get too embarrassed for the Ben Stiller character. So take my opinion with a grain of salt.) All that said, there were moments that I just busted out laughing. Jim takes a very sad situation and makes it quite entertaining. That is what ultimately saved the book for me. And there are definitely good messages hidden in the hijinks, and I, of course, like that. I think it can definitely bring about some good discussion as it is such a timely piece that really addresses a lot of issues without smacking you over the head with them and making you depressed. Overall - Fun! Good book club pick. 

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The Radleys: A Novel
Date Posted: 1/31/2011 | Go To Book Page

I absolutely devoured this book! It was the bit of light fun that I did not know I was looking for. I honestly was not expecting to like this one bit from the description… but I guess you can't judge a book by its description… just like you can't judge the suburbanite sickly Radleys by their appearances. Underneath lies unspeakable (and speakable) passions & power repressed. Powers and passions that may not be that horrible if managed correctly… but "managed" to "out of control" can be a slippery slope, so is it better to deny and resist it all? Here you get to explore all the angles from vamps of every thought pattern trying to wrestle with their impulses and their consciouses. Cleverly written with an incredibly fast pace, this book had me not wanting to put it down. 

Very Unleashable

The Red Velvet Turnshoe
Date Posted: 1/1/2010 | Go To Book Page

As a mystery, I think this was suppose to be a story about an intriguing nun who befriends an accused murderer and navigates the Medieval twists and turns with enough finesse to make you say, "move over 'Murder, She Wrotes' Jessica Fletcher - you got some competition!" It was that, but there was so much more! There is a mystery and also: an adventure, some violence, some threatening diseases, more murder, a romance of sorts (with other possible multiple love interests to boot - pretty damn good for a nun), a stalker, politics, the church politics, and all this told through the eyes of an intoxicating nun trying to unspin all the spin and figure out what was what. What a world and time to explore! What fun! With all that going on, the mystery in fact was pretty much irrelevant to the book but merely served as the loose backbone of a story that wove together so much more. It's loose story plot is on par with what I call "comic porn style" - Comic porn style being funny scenes loosely tied together with a flimsy plot (sort of like porn). But this wasn't a comedy, so I guess this would be more of a "Medieval History Porn Style" with a backbone of a mystery... or was it a backbone of the adventure to get the cross? Or was it the backbone of all the historical references that tied together the pieces of the mystery? I'm not sure. Either way, it's a whopper of an interesting story set in a fascinating time.
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The Sense of an Ending (Borzoi Books)
Date Posted: 12/30/2011 | Go To Book Page

I'll start off by saying that I really did enjoy the writing. I loved the style and, of course, I loved the sprinkling in of these deep thoughts. (I love that stuff!) But, the story was so unbelievably predictable that the book irritated me. And the fact that we never really get to dip into Adrian's journal was annoying, as I thought Adrian's perspective would be more interesting than Tony's. I really loved the concept of the character having to go back into his memories to make sense of the present (and the past). There is definitely interesting things to discuss for your book club get-together, and the book is short and reads super fast. So if you have a busy month I say pick it. It is enjoyable and will lend itself to great discussion. But don't expect to be shocked at the ending.

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The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel
Date Posted: 5/31/2014 | Go To Book Page

This is the perfect summer read! It is one of those super fast reads that is just enjoyable from start to finish. There are plenty of fun and interesting things to discuss, but it is not like a “contemplate the seriousness of whatever serious act has happened” kind of book club discussion book. Serious acts happen in the book, but even death et. al. feels natural and light somehow. This is more a “ah, didn’t you love when (fill in the blank) happened?” Even better, we get to indulge all of our secret fantasies through the main character - we get to own a book store in a small town for a bit, we get to have miraculous events happily change the course of our lives, we get to have wonderful supportive friends come into our lives at the perfect times, we get to fall in love, ah… it just makes all those serious moments in between so much more passable. Life does go on after tragedy. Life can take new and amazing twists. And this is a fun book to twist with. Enjoy!
DEFINITELY Unleash it

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Date Posted: 12/9/2009 | Go To Book Page

Intrigue with stamps! Yes, you read that correctly. Doesn't sound possible, but Alan Bradley pulled it off! Not quite Dan Brown in suspense and thrill, but I'd put Flavia in a head to head with Langdon for character interest any day - and I think Flavia would WIN! She really does make this a book worth reading.
Very Unleashable

The Thieves of Manhattan: A Novel
Date Posted: 8/31/2010 | Go To Book Page

What I thought was going to be a predictable story line turned out to have way more twists and turns then I expected. Which I absolutely loved. And what I thought might be a lot of Ian dealing uncomfortably with the repercussions of his lies turned out to be a fun adventure. I did not want to put down, so ended up whizzing through it. Not necessarily the best book for a book club discussion, but such a fun read that it did not matter. I am just looking forward to some fitgeralds at book club while we gush about how much we enjoyed it.

DEFINITELY Unleash it

The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise: A Novel
Date Posted: 9/29/2010 | Go To Book Page

I think if I had to sum up this book I would have to call in, "Charming" - it was absolutely lovely. The writing style was a lot of fun. It felt to me like a children's book author writing for adults, but in a good way. Aside from that there did not seem much to discuss. It does take a difficult issue (death of a child) and approach it in easy to digest manner, but... It was just cute, charming, fun, delightful, but I really did not feel like I got much out of it. Read it for it's unique voice at a time when you just don't want to think too much. 


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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel
Date Posted: 8/22/2012 | Go To Book Page

This book was just… pleasant. I enjoyed it every time I picked it up. The writing had such an easy flow that just felt... nice. It's a big warm fuzzy of a book that looks at a lot of disfunction and sorrow all at the same time. The story naturally progressed and you could really feel like you were in the mind of Harold and taking this journey with him. I loved how the writer incorporated the backstory into the journey. It never felt forced, but skipped around as anyone's mind does. Parts were predictable but there are a few twists I did not see coming. Well done Ms. Joyce. Couple all that with some good underlying lessons about getting outside of our normal and quieting the mind to really work through things was great. Harold seems so real and approachable with his regrets, growth and hope. I loved watching him evolve. This is a sweet read that is sure to bring about some good book club discussions. 

Very Unleashable

The Weird Sisters
Date Posted: 3/1/2011 | Go To Book Page

I just about squealed with delight when I started reading this book. I could not identify why, but as the story continued it became clear - good writing. And the author threw in a twist by writing the narrative voice as all three of the sister's thoughts mushed into one collective- Very interesting. It creating almost a fourth observing character. I loved that. I loved the little Shakespearian thoughts used to convey what each was thinking. The store lines were good, not can't put down interesting though. But it really did not matter, I still enjoyed reading it.  And in that "Sex and the City" style, "Barney" became as much of a character here as NY did in SATC. Which made me totally fall in love with Barnwell and want to move there and make friends with each of these lovable characters. Great writing with lots to discuss. I think it is a book club winner.

Very Unleashable

The Year of the Flood: A Novel
Date Posted: 10/30/2009 | Go To Book Page

Holy thought provoking, Batman! It's a read that fries the noodle and could make anyone look for a hallucinogenic afterwards. A transportation into a world that is an amazing commentary on life and a disturbingly realistic vision of where we could be headed. There are some interesting interpretations of religion that may turn some people off, but even if you skip all the Adam One rants (I did at the end just cause they were a tad boring), the book's core thoughts are interesting and make this a bewitching read. It is absolutely mesmerizing what a complete and well thought out - down to the details - world Ms. Atwood has created.
Very Unleashable

This Is How You Lose Her
Date Posted: 1/27/2013 | Go To Book Page

Let me preface this with, "Once again this is an award winning author who I just could not get into." There. I have been upfront about my reading tastes, so you can take the rest of this review with whatever all that means.

The description of the book implies it is all about love, but don't let that suck you in… this was just BORING. This is how you lose her? Yeah, being boring is how you lose me. You might as well have named this book, "All the women I have had sex with and a few other random stories about people from the Dominican Republic"… I'm no prude, but please, get some meat in the story! (Hehe) Or actually talk about LOVE. I found very little actual love discussed in the book, but maybe that is discussable all in itself… hmmm. Nope, not worth wasting my time thinking about. Too boring.

I will admit that the writing itself is quite nice. But you are going to have to do more than turn a good phrase to turn this chica's head. Is this book discussable? I guess so, but DON'T go into thinking  your book club will have a profound discussion on love… it is just not there if you ask me.

P.S. Sorry to be so negative. It's not THAT bad. It just was not at all what I was expecting. I mean I did not want to throw it across the room as I have other books (mostly because I read it on my Kindle), but I just never wanted to pick it up and get back to reading it either.

Make me think, people! Make me think or give me some good meat (hehe) and I will love your book! Bore me and I'll chuck ya! This book is pretty close being a chucker!

Mildly Unleashable

Three Graves Full
Date Posted: 3/26/2013 | Go To Book Page

This book was pretty good, but seemed to have multiple personalities (3 to be exact). Part one was this intense story where we feel tons of tension, and get the understanding of how a man can be driven to kill another. Very interesting and at times hard to read as the writer was really able to make you feel what the guys was going through. The second part read with the intensity of the first, until I watch part of an episode of "Threes Company." Part two turned into a comedic play or sitcom without the comedy. It was all misunderstanding and heightened thinking about "how bad things will be if X happens" and all I could picture was how Jack thought one thing was going on and Janet thought another and "oh my, look at the mess everyone got in because no one was communicating!" So there was humor in the second part of the book for me, but I don't think it was intensional at all. Then tilt your head as far as you can to the right (my dog does this when she is confused)- the third part of this book turned into "The Art of Racing in the Rain" and the dog's thoughts seem to dominate everything… when we had not heard a whimper from her before. Again, intense writing, but now I had "Threes Company" and "Art of Racing in the Rain" in my head which really made all the intensity just kind of fly out the window and I could not help but laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. And, IF this is going to be turned into a series with this detective… ummm, you might actually want to show him playing a part in the detecting and not just stumbling on things. He was kind of lame as a detective. I will say, the writer shows a lot of potential. That is why I am giving this a 3 instead of a two. She just needs to nail down the type of book she wants to write before writing it. 

Unleash it

Unscribbling: the art of problem solving and fulfilling your desires
Date Posted: 1/29/2013 | Go To Book Page

This is a zippy little book that will get you thinking and moving your booty all at the same time. Seriously it will take away any excuse you've been giving yourself to not pursue your dreams. It's easy to read and I think it could make for some great book club discussions too!
DEFINITELY Unleash it

Until the Next Time
Date Posted: 3/30/2012 | Go To Book Page

I loved it! Great writing, big topic with lots to discuss (reincarnation), interesting story lines - this is, all around, a great pick for book clubs. Great pick for an individual too, just because it is good! It got a little "lecturey" in the middle, but even that was fascinating - kind of "Da Vinci Code" for reincarnation.  The whole time I was reading it I kept thinking that this could be a great basis for a TV show. Which makes sense since the writer writes TV shows. (I really hope they do turn it into a series.) And the whole time I read it I could not stop calling people "feckin' eejits" in my mind - it was great fun. ;) Once you start reading it the language becomes quite addictive. Don't let the lame cover fool you, this is a good book. Definitely a book I couldn't wait to get back to reading each night. Pick it up. It is great fun, and interesting too!

DEFINITELY Unleash it

Walking to Gatlinburg: A Novel
Date Posted: 6/29/2010 | Go To Book Page

A strange read that I like to think of as Alice in Wonderland for men. It had all the crazy plot line of Wonderland and tons of blood and violence (oh, and of course, an 18 year old virgin of a guy who was a fabulous love maker his first time out)... definitely Wonderland for men. ;) But a very interesting writing style. Characters straight out of a psych book. Maybe too many characters, cause I found myself being a little "who's on first?" much of the time... read it for the writing style and just to get your inner crazy world on for a bit. On that note, I gotta say I think my favorite character was the elephant. Hehehe, I'll leave you with that.
Unleash it

When Mystical Creatures Attack! (Iowa Short Fiction Award)
Date Posted: 1/14/2015 | Go To Book Page

This book is written in the most interesting way. I absolutely LOVED the unique approach. The author tackles mental health issues with humor that at times reminded me of The Bloggess. And there are several non-mental health related parts that were quite humorous too. The story is revealed in a nice way through various methods. But… one of my biggest ways to judge a book is how excited I am to get reading it every night before I go to bed… and I just wasn’t that thrilled to get back to this one and was pretty happy when it was done… but I can’t put my finger on why that is. I have a few possibilities: 1. Maybe it was that it explored a dark topic (mental health) yet I feel I came away with no profound revelations. I read it on a Kindle, and I have never seen so FEW “popular highlights” - there was one, and that one is only highlighted by 3 people, and it wasn’t THAT interesting. And my few highlights when I reread them were not even that thought inspiring. Honestly, if I am going to read about someone suffering a “nervous breakdown,” even if it is humorous, I want more profound insights into life. 2. The book description - The book description makes it sound really good, but I don’t feel the actual content quite lived up to the hype of the description or the cleverness of the presentation. It was a pretty fun read that could probably generate some book club discussion, but I am guessing not a ton. Definitely read it for the unique approach (it is short and it isn’t going to hurt). But better than the book, check out the author’s blog: http://www.kathleenfounds.com there is a lot of funny stuff there that is not so depressing. I would read this author again, but hope deeper insights are one their way in any upcoming books.
Unleash it
 
 

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Lemony Crab Salad with Baby Greens
Date Posted: 11/4/2013 |

Prep: 10 minutes; Total: 10 minutes
Servings: Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:
1 pound fresh crab meat, picked over
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
1 5-ounce package mixed baby greens (about 8 cups)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation:
In a large nonmetallic bowl, toss first 4 ingredients to combine.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Toss greens with 1/4 cup olive oil in a large bowl; season to taste with salt.  Divide among 4 plates. Mound crab on greens and serve.

Garlic Shrimp and Shells
Date Posted: 11/4/2013 |

Peel & de vein shrimp and save shells. 

(1 lb for 2 people) 

Saute shrimp shells with chopped:
1 stick celery,
4 baby carrots,
1/3 onion, &
Olive oil
till just brown.

Add: 
4-5 cloves of mashed garlic, 
1 1/2 C. Chardonnay
Reduce

Add:
1/2 C. white clam juice, 
1/2 C. marinara,
1 sprig oregano,
Chili flakes, salt and pepper.

Strain juices (keep the juice, toss the rest).

all while...

Blanching (15 seconds in the water) 1 bunch cherry tomatoes once cool, peel off skin. Salt and Pepper. 

Saute shrimp in olive oil. 

Chop tomatoes in half and cook with 2 more garlic cloves, add shrimp.

Combine all ingredients and add:
Parsley
Basil, 
salt and pepper
2 cloves of slivered garlic

Add all together with shells pasta!


 
 

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She's got legs!
By: Book Junky
Date: 11/19/2013
I'm bringing this wine to our next book club!

Yoga
By: Book Junky
Date: 11/19/2013
These are the yoga poses I was telling you about in book club.

My favorite!
By: Book Junky
Date: 11/14/2013
Fresh crab!
 
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