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Reviews by Melissa

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The Edge of Normal
by Carla Norton
Edge of Creepy (7/10/2013)
It's been a long time since I've stayed up to the wee hours to finish a book!! While it started slow for me, it gained momentum and certainly ended with a bang! What a horribly evil antagonist!! The alternating chapters between the antagonist and protagonist kept the story flowing to the climatic ending. Looking forward to more by Ms. Norton!
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President
by Candice Millard
Garfield - who knew? (10/5/2012)
Excellent book and even with the extensive research the author did, it still read like a novel, and not a history book. Interesting to read it in an Election year and to see how far we've come, or not come as the case may be.
Garfield was a fascinating character and would have had an interesting Presidency had he been able to serve his entire term. Yet, maybe his legacy was to turn the world's attention to the field of medicine.
Looking forward to hearing Candice Millard speak locally about this book and will certainly read other books by her.
Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected - A Memoir
by Kelle Hampton
Aspiring to Live an Oscar Worthy Life (2/11/2012)
I laughed, I cried and came away with a deeper appreciation for life. The honesty of this memoir was refreshing. In a world which is so focused on what is "normal" and "perfect", this woman discovered that these terms are defined within your own life and not by society.
It was beautiful to see this woman grow into a deeper and stronger person through the love of her two daughters. It also gave the reader perspective to appreciate the "wild and precious life" we have with all it's pain and heartache and beauty.
In Search of the Rose Notes: A Novel
by Emily Arsenault
Not edge of your seat suspense (6/9/2011)
Rose Notes wasn't quite the psychological thriller that I was expecting. I enjoyed the back and forth of the present and past, and being a child of the 80s I enjoyed the references to that era. I also enjoyed the psychology of the person you are as a child versus the person you are as an adult. The book got me thinking about old high school friends whom I've lost touch with and if it's possible to ever reclaim that friendship. But the suspense wasn't quite there in the book. There were red herrings which weren't all that convincing and while I didn't figure out the "who done it" I wasn't left gasping at each chapter or on the edge of my seat. The book does provide a "what would you do" kind of atmosphere, but because it comes at the end, I don't know how much time a reader would spend thinking about it.
Three Seconds
by Anders Roslund & Borge Hellstrom
Took a long time to get there. (1/3/2011)
The ending of this book was surprising, but not completely unforeseeable. It just took f-o-r-e-v-e-r to get to the ending. I can respect the factual nature of the book which was interesting to learn, but it's possible that due to the real world feel the authors tried to incorporate that it caused the book to drag on and on like realty often can do.
The False Friend
by Myla Goldberg
Expected More (7/24/2010)
While I appreciated Myla Goldberg's beautiful prose and lyrical, descriptive writing I felt this book didn't live up to my expectations. Expectations garnered from the book jacket as well as my reading of Goldberg's other works. For me the characters fell flat and were either one dimensional or simply unrealistic. The suspense of the psychological drama was attempted but never materialized and the ending was sadly dissatisfying.
The Language of Secrets
by Dianne Dixon
Secrets Revealed...or Not! (2/1/2010)
Quick read due to the intriguing plot and the beautiful writing. The interweaving plot is told through past and current narration, keeping the mystery of the secret alive throughout the book. Thought provoking themes on truth, who we are in relation to our past, the sanctity of marriage and the choice to enter into marriage. Look forward to other books by this new writer.
State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America
by Sean Wilsey, Matt Weiland
Story by Story (11/4/2009)
Like most anthologies there were essays I liked and essays I didn't. Many seemed to have a negative tone regarding the state they were selected to write about. Yet there were gems throughout the book that have instilled a desire in me to travel cross country to see some of these wonderful locations!

I enjoyed the different writing styles and formats (i.e. interview, graphic novel) that were interspersed throughout the book.
Night Navigation
by Ginnah Howard
Dark, Sad and Beautiful (3/18/2009)
A dark yet beautiful novel made even more haunting by the knowledge of the story being derived from true events in the author's life.

I could see shades of myself in the characters, as well as others in my life; enablers and addicts alike.

The author's writing style reminded me of modern day poetry. Through her prose she drew beautiful pictures of ugly situations.
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox
by Maggie O'Farrell
What is Madness? (2/5/2009)
Thoroughly enjoyed the mystery. The writing had potential to be very confusing, but Farrell did a great job of tying it all together.
Says much about what behaviors we consider "Mad", maybe they are just abnormal - much like today's prolific diagnosis of autism. maybe being different isn't always wrong or in need of being fixed.
It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: My Adventures in Life and Food
by Moira Hodgson
Expected more (9/4/2008)
This book did not live up to the expectations I had for it. Hodgson wrote very descriptive passages which elicited vivid pictures of the people and places she saw, yet the complete writing was very disjointed. It felt more like a series of postcards from a well traveled friend. In reality I'm sure she learned quite a bit about herself and life, but I never really felt that she got that across to the reader.
The Glass Castle: A Memoir
by Jeannette Walls
Makes you appreciate the life you had/have (7/21/2008)
Really enjoyed this book. Sometimes I questioned the reality of all that happened to Jeanette, but in a post-Frey memoir publishing world, I feel this memoir would have been researched thoroughly. Reading what she and her siblings went through certainly makes me appreciate my life and the life that my mother gave me. The "traumatic" childhood I thought I experienced seems a lot less traumatic in light of some of Jeanette's experiences!! I find inspiration in Jeanette that she could rise from that upbringing to be successful and could find the path in her life that led her to an acceptance of the life her parents chose for themselves and their children
The Jane Austen Book Club
by Karen Joy Fowler
Disappointed (6/18/2008)
I read this because of all the hype surrounding it especially for book clubs. I can't say I was overly impressed. I've read similar books that had better character development and more exciting plots. The ending was disappointingly predictable. Though the read was easy even with the flashbacks and with the lack of explanation of the Austin references, it has sparked my desire to read the classic novels!
An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England: A Novel
by Brock Clarke
Book worth reading, not burning! (4/30/2008)
Great book with statements about book burning/banning - can books bring out the evil in people? Can we blame them for such?
Book also made statements about truth and lies - is it better to live a lie than the truth?

While I found some of the author's statements to be profound, they were told in such an interesting story that it didn't come across as a preachy book, but instead a great tale that had you thinking long after the tale was over.
The Marriage of True Minds
by Stephen Evans
Make a great sitcom! (2/26/2008)
I really don’t like to give poor book reviews and frankly this isn’t really a poor storyline, it just would be a better screenplay than a novel. The novel does have a good message about animal adoption and no-kill shelters, though it took awhile to get to the message. The characters are very one-dimensional; at best we get a one line description of their clothing or a brief mention of their hairstyle, but not enough to be able to formulate a complete character picture. Some of the dialogues make no sense (i.e. Nick & Oscar at the lake) and while they are often incredibly witty, the comedic wit would be better suited for a visual performance than a novel. I would love to see some of Evans original works on film or stage!!
The Pirate's Daughter
by Margaret Cezair-Thompson
Dis a Good-Good Book (10/10/2007)
It is absolutely amazing how Margaret Cezair-Thompson captures the smells, sights and sounds of Jamaica!! I wanted to hop on a plane and time travel to the pre-war era on the island.

The novel was suspenseful and chock full of history not only of the island, but of philandering swashbuckler, Errol Flynn, whom prior to this novel I knew absolutely nothing about him. Now I want to rent his movies!

The characters became such three dimensional figures at the hand of Cezair-Thompson. I loved May’s strength in such personal turmoil and in dealing with the turmoil of her country, during an era of war and drugs. And the reality of her situation and her choices.

Cezair-Thompson vividly shows the picture of poverty, not as I know it in the U.S., but in countries where there is such a vast difference between the classes; the richest and poorest living in such close proximity.

The literary references to Treasure Island not only authenticated (for me) the adventure story of The Pirate’s Daughter, but impelled me to pull out my leather-bound copy and reread the classic!
Cover The Butter
by Carrie Kabak
Uncovered!!! (7/30/2007)
Our book club recently read this book:
Cover the Butter is a story about relationships and honesty with not only one's self but each other. Maybe not so much honesty, but confronting the issues and problems at hand instead of sticking one's head in the sand or "covering the butter". The club had mixed reviews, but overall it was an enjoyable read. There was little analyzing over the book itself, but many discussions were sparked regarding mother/daughter relationships, women's roles in the 60's - 70's, honesty between friends (do you tell them when they are making a mistake?). All agreed it was refreshing to see the main character strengthen throughout the book and be true to herself.
Pardonable Lies
by Jacqueline Winspear
Likeable Characters (6/15/2007)
I find that I thoroughly enjoy the Maise Dobbs series via audio books! I can't say it's my favorite series, but Winspear has gotten me hooked on following the life of Maise. The suspense isn't all that suspenseful, the mystery not all that mysterious, but I've gone from not particularly liking Maise to garnering respect for her and truly caring about what happens to her. Kudos to Ms. Winspear for creating such a dimensional character.
The Mermaid Chair: A Novel
by Sue Monk Kidd
Be True to Yourself (6/4/2007)
Our book club enjoyed reading and discussing this book immensely. It touched each of us in one way or another. Our discussions centered around one of the many book's themes: that one must be true to themselves to be happy, to be loved and to love others.
Beautiful Lies: A Novel
by Lisa Unger
Beautiful Truths (5/16/2007)
I always enjoy a good thriller and while this kept my attention with suspense, little romance thrown in, etc; it was the poignant remarks Unger made throughout this novel and the sequel, Sliver of Truth, which really kept me reading. I first love her writing style that makes you feel like Ridley's best friend and she's talking to you over coffee in your kitchen. Secondly, Unger has so many insights about families, relationships and our own true selves, which really hit home for me.
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