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Lincoln in the Bardo
by George Saunders
Avant garde (5/12/2020)
I find myself in the minority. A little too avant garde for my taste, the style took away from the insurmountable grief LIncoln suffered. Hidden gems were few and far and I was needless to say disappointed. I enjoy Saunders immensely but not at all this time.
Never Let Me Go
by Kazuo Ishiguro
Unconventional narrative (12/24/2019)
Unconventional story with themes of memory and dignity. The story leaves you reflecting on its emotional aftermath as well as memories of close friends and foes from past who left an impression and situations both finished and unfinished.

The three main characters' contrasting personalities captured my attention. Their differences made them compelling and authentic.

I found myself considering the possibilities of science/medicine with a new lens - undoubtedly thought provoking.
Goodbye, Vitamin
by Rachel Khong
More than I expected (8/21/2018)
I enjoyed the main protagonist Ruth. Coping with many issues at one time, Ruth hangs in there and manages wonderfully. Touching story of the thief dementia, unresolved family concerns along with unpleasant disclosed family matters. Love, forgiveness and deeper sides of parents uncovered. Endings and beginnings probed with tact.

Story felt authentic, the roller coaster of emotions from all family members truly affecting. The sadness and really tough times dealt with sporadic humor. Loved the way Ruth's dad kept a journal of moments of her childhood - pure tenderness. Moving story with lighthearted moments.
The Kennedy Debutante
by Kerri Maher
Great book (8/14/2018)
Kick is illustrated as a vibrant, strong, independent, at times rebellious young lady possessing a huge heart. She is animated on every page, her story is heartbreaking and admirable. I felt her struggle dealing with family, religion, and love. Kick went with her heart despite realizing her choice would have great ramifications. Kick and Billy's story is bittersweet, the ravages of war more than painful and devastating.

Solid writing, Kick felt real, authentic, charismatic. Looking forward to Maher's next novel, the bar is set high based on this well done newcomers impressive effort. Highly recommend.
Clock Dance: A Novel
by Anne Tyler
Simplistically beautiful (6/11/2018)
Great story of family dynamics, relationships, self sacrifice. Willa's metamorphosis was a pleasure to witness. Finally she discovered her wants and needs mattered. No doubt many women out there will understand Willa's ultimate decision, a woman who gave finally realizing taking and receiving is equally important, thanklessness is no longer an option, appreciation is the norm. Selfish men surrounded this quiet soul, pangs of empathy poured out of my heart. One enjoyable read, inspiring to boot.
Baby Teeth
by Zoje Stage
Creepy (5/13/2018)
I found this book to be creepy. As a mother myself the thought of a child with psychological issues strong enough to want to harm their mother is downright scary. The family is dysfunctional, the mother stressed and overwhelmed by motherhood as well as trying to figure out her troubled daughter demonstrates appalling behavior. I understand the mother is on the brink, still not an excuse for her barbed words, gestures or approach. The dad is in deep denial, despite the volatile apex, he still can't comprehend his little girl has issues only professionals can help with, fingers crossed Hanna can be rescued and her thoughts and actions halted for good. I asked myself several times why this couple elected to have a child knowing it would alter their relationship dynamic. The couple views Hanna has an infiltrator as opposed to a welcomed edition to the family fold. Parents seemed a bit self absorbed and you can't tell me Hanna with her acute perception didn't pick up on this fact and run with it. Book runs along the lines of parenting albeit with a creepy edge. I am curious to find out what becomes of this wounded family and of Hanna's future. Fast read, your curiosity is piqued by Hanna and what will happen. Narrative reads as both believable and unbelievable.
Some Luck
by Jane Smiley
Some Luck (4/16/2018)
Absolutely wonderful family saga. I fell in love with all the characters, the transitions between each one was incredibly well done, no make that flawless. The narrative has an easy, natural flow - simple yet detailed drawing the reader into the family fold. The beauty of the book - it takes an ordinary family dealing with everyday life and the roller coaster life can be. I could not put this book down, I cannot wait to continue the journey. Smiley is one incredible storyteller.
Beautiful Animals
by Lawrence Osborne
Beautiful Animals (4/15/2018)
As always I find Osborne's writing intelligent, beautiful and fluidly absorbing. Narrative runs more on the psychological side.

Naomi is pure sociopath. Calculating, manipulative not to mention predatory, this young lady scares me. Her iciness is palpable, she is emotionless and I loathe her - true sign of great writing and characterization. I empathized with Faoud greatly. Sam certainly got more than she bargained for, summer to remember.

The unhurried pace, the twists and turns and the disturbing characters create a fabulous psychological thriller. Lush descriptions of Hydra makes me want to escape right now.

Continually enjoy Osborne and this book is no exception. Looking forward to this established authors' next undertaking.
The Flight Attendant
by Chris Bohjalian
Lively read! (4/13/2018)
Great book! Cassie was one hot mess, I cringed at her behavior and poor decision making. A majority of the time I wanted to slap sense into her as she fuels the train wreck she is and her life. This woman possesses serious flaws.

The only negative I have is the epilogue was disappointing and unbelievable, otherwise one heck of a read. Bohjalian is on a roll, can't wait to read his next offering.
The Wife Between Us
by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen
Disappointing (4/12/2018)
Disappointing. No suspense and the twists were silly. There was no real chemistry between the characters, they felt wooden. The tempo of the plot dragged on, and I realized early on the direction of characters and plot. The ending was flat and safe. The bones of the narrative has been written countless times before, nothing special in this interpretation. Totally not what I was hoping for.
The Woman in the Window: A Novel
by A. Finn
Psychologically gripping (4/9/2018)
Gripping, intriguing only scratch at the surface of Finn's neophyte psychological thriller. Talk about a roller coaster ride - the chapters are written in such a way you are left in great suspense, more than teasing the reader. The unfolding of how Anna is the way she is grabs at your curiosity with an absolute need to know what the heck happened to such a complicated woman, along with what exactly occurred furiously grips your attention without a doubt, the build up nothing less than exciting. The constant second guessing Anna wrestles with, her current state, not to mention her love of old movies creates such a distortion as the reader you begin to question whether you in fact know where the plot is headed, like Anna you begin to second guess your suspicions, backtracking what happened or what you thought happened. Certainly a psychological maze along with fascinating characters and their roles in the narrative.

A read mesmerizing from the start, you'll gobble it up in one fascinating sitting. Anxiously awaiting Finn's next project, my interested piqued from this cleverly crafted debut.
A Place for Us
by Fatima Farheen Mirza
Breathtaking (3/14/2018)
Absolutely stunning book. I was absorbed in the characters and plot, I simply couldn't put the book down. The characters truly stick with you long after the turn of the last page. Mirza takes the reader on a detailed journey by showing different views of faith, love and family. This book will stake its claim emotionally, a perfect story dissecting family life, old and new ways, expectations and disappointments, most of all love.

Wonderful book, Mirza is a force to reckon. Must read with all certitude.
A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America
by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong
Raw (3/8/2018)
It is a shame a few rape victims are questioned in their authenticity. Victimized twice by the system and their mistreatment. Such a disgrace, those conjuring up false rape allegations, absolutely abhorrent. My heart broke for Marie despite the fact there was compensation let alone her name cleared in the end. For all the other survivors it is a shame the rapist wasn't apprehended sooner all because a young girl with a turbulent background was branded an attention seeker known to embellish the truth. I am curious to know the number of women filing false claims of rape, certainly would be interesting to learn. I hope the percentage is incredibly low. A book all should read, an eye-opener to say the least.
The French Girl
by Lexie Elliott
Lacking thrill (2/26/2018)
I found this book to be highly uninteresting, by no means a myster/thriller. The entangled friendships gave characters a tiresome feeling as well as a never ending monotonous revisiting of past and present interactions of 'what was' or 'could be.' I felt Severine's 'presence' more a nuisance than a sensible addition. I kept waiting for momentum which never appeared. Bread crumbs early on led me to the villain.

Fast paced read albeit humdrum.
Ginny Moon
by Benjamin Ludwig
Authentic feel (2/18/2018)
Ginny will tug at your heart. What a wonderful depiction and authentic feel seeing the world through an autistic young lady. You are immersed in Ginny's world - seeing, feeling and hearing in her special way as well as her frustrations. Touching story, rocking your emotions. Ludwig crafted a real gem.
Stay with Me
by Ayobami Adebayo
Impressive (7/31/2017)
Instantly pulled in by the emotional turbulence Yejide is dealing with. You feel her pain and heartbreak, betrayal cutting with the sharpest blade. Her plight and pressure upon herself as well as from outsiders is affecting. She is a character stealing your every ounce of sympathy and empathy.

Yejide faces an array of emotions towards her husband. Her adoration tested by lies and betrayal. Finding herself walking a emotional tightrope she never imagined.

Yejide and Akin desire children beyond measure. The narrative alternates perspectives demonstrating the strain and leaps each will take to forge a family. Akin stretches your imagination, uncomfortable decisions and choices made in desperation and want.

The story unravels slowly with precision possessing incredibly strong punctuated twists. The rawness of this marriage garners your interest with the turn of every page.

Nigeria's 1980's political turbulence sets the backdrop for this evocative and emotionally rousing glimpse of a couple facing challenges conceiving as well as cultural and familia pressure in regards to this easily assumed expectation and obligation.
The Garden of Small Beginnings
by Abbi Waxman
Wonderful read (4/10/2017)
Waxman creates a tearful and humorous narrative dealing with the delicate topic of grief.

Outstanding characters, dialogue and smatterings of wisdom make this a quietly poignant read.

I loved all the characters but Lili stole the show along with her two daughters. Waxman uses gardening in a clever way, you will apply her snippets of information in both life and gardening. The dialog is extremely well done, you'll find yourself warming to all the characters as well as their individual stories. The humor will leave you laughing out loud, not over done but clearly balancing the deep emotional weight of grief in which the plot is based on. The whip smart banter is well executed and appropriately placed.

A heart warming read, those who have lost a loved one will relate to the struggles of Lili and of grief in general.

I would love to see a follow up to this magical and moving story. Waxman weaved a touching tale excelling on all levels, a gifted authoress without a doubt.
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
by Kathleen Rooney
Fabulous (9/12/2016)
Instantly drawn to Lilian just as the people familiar with her and those she encounters on her walk. As Lillian shares her life story, I could identify with her as well as various people in my life. We journey with her not only through her life experiences but we revisit New York's early years not excluding the crime riddled eighties playing an important part. Feminist, intelligent, independent, creative, authentic, a woman attempting to balance career and family during a time when it was next to impossible. Lilian is a woman you want to be, hope to be, dare to be, her rawness, brutal honesty and ownership is mesmerizing. Memorable, disarming protagonist combined with a sophisticated narrative spawning an irresistible read.

Rooney impresses, completely dazzled with both content and writing. Definitely looking forward to future projects from this immensely gifted authoress.
I'm Thinking of Ending Things
by Iain Reid
Stirring (9/7/2016)
Brilliant. You are on the edge immediately, the momentum builds. Reid takes the reader down a sophisticated labyrinth path only leading to one ingenious stunning ending. Well crafted, memorable, whetted my appetite and curiosity for more from this dexterous atypical author. Impressive, cunning.
North of Crazy: A Memoir
by Neltje
Inspiring Memoir (6/6/2016)
I found Neltje's story incredibly uplifting and inspiring. A woman finding peace and healing through her art and her adopted home of Wyoming. Despite her wealth and name she was not immune to heavy challenges. Possessing a gift of self awareness she was determined to conquer her issues and strive for betterment. Suffering numerous setbacks throughout her life, she finally finds her authentic self and inner peace. An unflappable woman in the worst of times, she manages to claw her way out of sticky predicaments, learning from mistakes and of others underhanded actions. Demonstrating strength, independence while striving to be the best she can be, Neltje is testament anything is possible when you discover who you are and what you want, self validation despite trials and tribulations endured.

Insightfully candid, well written memoir of a fascinating, courageous and complicated woman appealing to my feminist core.

Including photographs of Neltje's art would have been lovely.
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