Reviews by Donna W. (Wauwatosa, WI)

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I'll See You in Paris
by Michelle Gable
II'll See You in Paris (12/23/2015)
"I'll See You in Paris" started with a good premise of exploring the life of Gladys Spencer-Churchill. While her life does seem to be fascinating I never got drawn in to her character. Instead the novel really involved people around her - mainly a caretaker, and an author writing her biography.

The relationship between those two did not ring true to me and consequently their relationships with people around them also seemed stilted. The author rushed a familiarity between the two main characters, and didn't really develop the relationship of those two main characters in a believable manner.
I couldn't get beyond this, and so the book was only an okay read for me.
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson
The Opposite of Everyone (11/13/2015)
In this book a young lawyer's troubled past catches up with her present life. The author seamlessly weaves past and present events together to tell a beautiful story about family.

Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue made this a great book! From the very first pages I couldn't put it down. The characters were so real to me, and their story was so believable that I felt myself immersed in their lives.

I highly recommend this book!!
Maybe in Another Life
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Maybe In Another Life (5/27/2015)
This was a very interesting concept for a story: 2 different pathways for one person's life.The book was an exploration of the difference our choices can make on the outcome of our lives. It was written in such a way that it was really like reading two different books at one time.

The character development wasn't very strong and the story lines were predictable, but I liked the book. It was an easy and quick read, and it kept my interest right through until the end.
Between the Tides
by Susannah Marren
Between the Tides (4/9/2015)
This is basically a sad story of two dysfunctional families. The two main character's Lainie and Jess, were so unsympathetic and self-centered that I couldn't relate to them. In fact, all the adult characters were so superficial and shallow that it left me wondering the fate of their poor children. Even the surprise ending really didn't come as much of a shock. I really can't recommend this book.
Her Name Is Rose
by Christine Breen
Lovely story about Family (1/29/2015)
"Her Name was Rose" had vibrant characters, and was a loving look at what really makes a family. The story was engaging right from the first page, and held my interest until the very end. Even though some unhappy elements were dealt with, It is definitely a "feel good" book.

My only complaint is that everything was tied up way too neatly. But that said, it was beautiful story.
Vanessa and Her Sister
by Priya Parmar
Vanessa and Her Sister (10/10/2014)
This was a very entertaining look into an interesting period in history, and it was written in an engaging style. Diary entries, letters, telegrams and postcards are intermixed in such a way that the reader is drawn into the lives of the characters.

I felt I was given a clear glimpse into the times (early 1900's London) and into the lives of Vanessa Stephen Bell & Virginia Stephen Woolf. A gripping story-line was combined with historical events to create an enjoyable read. I really liked this book, and I think it will appeal to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
The Paris Winter
by Imogen Robertson
The Paris Winter (6/30/2014)
The Paris Winter is a quick and fun read. It gives an interesting look at the seamy side of the early 1900's in Paris. Two art students at the Lafond Academie (one poor and one rich and a model at the Academie make up the three main characters, and they lead us through the glamorous, and into the dark and decadent side of Paris. Robbery, drugs and murder all play a part in this story, and the colorful side characters enrich the tale.

The story starts slowly, but after a complete about face halfway through, the action picks up and the pace quickens so that the reader can't wait to see what happens next. Historical fiction enthusiasts will love this book!
The Devil in the Marshalsea
by Antonia Hodgson
The Devil in the Marshalsea (3/10/2014)
The era and the location are the true stars of this novel. The history of the Marshalsea Goal is fascinating and the author does a good job of bringing 1727 London to life.

Although the characters are a bit flat and underdeveloped, the mystery moves along at a brisk pace. The story has something for everyone; a mysterious rogue, a charming preacher's son, the evil bad guys, and the sweet servant girl to add some love interest. There was some raw language, and some graphic descriptions, but these really just add to the atmosphere.
The Housemaid's Daughter
by Barbara Mutch
A Beautiful Story (10/30/2013)
The Housemaids Daughter is a great read. It is written in the gentle voice of the black heroine, and explores South Africa and its history during apartheid. The author uses such beautiful language that she is able to draw pictures in the reader's mind. It is a fictional story but the characters came to life and I could feel what they were going through. I highly recommend this book.
Lost Luggage
by Jordi Punti
Lost Luggage (8/16/2013)
"Lost Luggage" is a story about 4 boys trying to find the father who abandoned each of them and their 4 different mothers. The main story is quite clever, but the author is so ambitious in his telling of it that he introduces too many side characters and goes off on too many tangents. While this helps to make the story unique, it also tends to weigh the story down. When the story was revolving around the main 5 characters it had a charm to it, but I found my attention wandering during much of the book. It was interesting enough that I wanted to find out what happened to the father and the boys in the end, but a lot of the other characters were a distraction. I had to push myself sometimes to keep going.
Three Things You Need to Know About Rockets: A Memoir
by Jessica A. Fox
Great Memoir (6/6/2013)
I loved this book! It had smart, witty writing, a modern love story, and a heroine that had me routing for her the whole way.

Jessica Fox lets us have a glimpse into her life in this charming memoir, and it is handled in such an intelligent way with such clear writing that I was hooked from the very start. I look forward to more from this author.
The Laws of Gravity
by Liz Rosenberg
The Laws of Gravity (4/5/2013)
A beautiful story full of the joys, disappointments, and love that go into being a family. The characters are set up well, each is real and the author makes us care about them all.
Ari and Nicole are cousins, and best friends since childhood. When Nicole becomes ill she asks Ari a life-altering question and it is this question and the after effects his answer causes that make up the heart of the story.
While there is sadness in the story it is not the main tone. This is truly a beautiful story about family. It would be a good book for a book club to read, as it is bound to lead to a lot of discussion.
Walk Me Home
by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Walk Me Home (3/27/2013)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is well written, the characters are believable, and I felt connected to them right from the very beginning.

Two sisters, sixteen and eleven, are left on their own after the death of their mother. They begin trying to get back to their mother's last boyfriend, the only family they have known, and make their way to a Native American reservation before they are forced to stop. There the 16 year old is forced to make some painful decisions.

It is a heartbreaking and touching story, and the pace of the writing makes it an easy read. It is a feel good story.
Peking to Paris: Life and Love on a Short Drive Around Half the World
by Dina Bennett
Adventurous Trip (3/11/2013)
This was an interesting look at an adventurous road trip. The author conveyed the sense of adventure inherent in driving a vintage car through faraway places. Not an everyday experience by any means! She told her story with humor and wonderful description. I felt like I was along for the ride. This book was part travelog, part exploration of human relationships, and part history lesson. A very well written book.
The Imposter Bride
by Nancy Richler
The Imposter Bride (11/28/2012)
I was hooked on this book from the minute I started reading until the satisfying end.

This was an excellent unfolding of a story from 2 different perspectives- first the actual story of " The Imposter Bride" and second the story through the eyes of the daughter she left behind.

The author has a beautiful way of making the characters come alive, and an interesting way of exploring relationships, particularly between mothers and daughters. The book is not action packed, instead it is a character driven story dealing with family in the aftermath of World War II, and there is a bit of mystery blended. All in all a very satisfying read.
Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen
by Mary Sharratt
Illuminations (9/5/2012)
Hildegard was a fascinating character in the history of the church, and the writing was good but I just couldn't get into this book. Little is known of the events in the period of her 30 year confinement, and the treatment of this section seemed too fictionalized, with sexual innuendos added just to make the book more readable. The second part of the story seemed to have a rushed feeling with only a fleeting look given to events.

I just was couldn't form an attachment to either the characters or the story.
Have Mother, Will Travel: A Mother and Daughter Discover Themselves, Each Other, and the World
by Claire & Mia Fontaine
Have Mother, Will Travel (6/4/2012)
This book was outstanding. It was at times funny, at times insightful, at times a travel guide, and above all it was always a worthwhile reading experience. The mother/daughter team gave corresponding personal reflections not only on their relationship, but on life in general. Many of their observations really hit a true not with me, or else opened my eyes to something I have not thought about in regard to relationships, or life experiences. I recommend it to all women, even if (like me) you are not the mother of a daughter!
Paris in Love: A Memoir
by Eloisa James
Paris in Love (3/7/2012)
I really liked this book. For the most part it is written with short entries much like a diary. Eloisa James has a charming and witty style, and the book is put together in such a way that it gives a delightful look at not only Paris, but also the author's family. It is spot on funny in many places, and tenderly touching in others. It makes me want to go to Paris, and sit down in a cafe to soak up the atmosphere! If you like memoirs, you will love this book!
King Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village
by Peggielene Bartels, Eleanor Herman
King Peggy (12/8/2011)
Peggy Bartels, born in Africa but living in America for 30 years, was awoken one morning with the news that she is to be the next king of Otuam, where her family had originated hundreds of years earlier. What follows is a delightful true story rich with the customs, beliefs, superstitions, and way of life of the people living in this area.

The story of what Peggy accomplishes is nothing short of amazing. The book is full of many interesting characters, and the often dire situations are described with a good deal of humor. This is a wonderful, uplifting story.
Salvage the Bones: A Novel
by Jesmyn Ward
Salvage the Bones (6/28/2011)
Jesmyn Ward uses extensive detail in the writing of her book, and this leaves the reader with a good feeling for the poorness of the people, the texture of the area around Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and the pain inherent in some personal relationships. However, this extensive detail also interfered with the story for me. I felt the writing was at times disjointed, and I had a hard time getting into the book, and a hard time forming an attachment with the characters.

Also, the grittiness of some of the interactions, and the grimness of some of the scenes involving the dogs bothered me.
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