Reviews by Kristen H. (Hagerstown, MD)

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The Personal Librarian
by Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray
Hiding yet in plain sight (2/24/2021)
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was very enlightening to read. Everytime I sat down to read, it felt like I was sitting down with a good friend. I really took my time with this book because I didn't want it to end.

The two authors really complimented each other and did a great job with being as historically accurate as possible.

I myself cannot imagine having to hide who or where I came from and it really opened my eyes as to how fortunate I am.

Love this book and would recommend it to book clubs for a great discussion in a most proper way.
The Mystery of Mrs. Christie
by Marie Benedict
Missing or not (11/12/2020)
I have always enjoyed reading Agatha Christie's books and I really enjoyed this one about Agatha herself. It held my attention and kept me turning pages. Just when I thought I had figured out it would take another twist. Very well written. Great for Book club discussions. Highly recommend.
Catherine House: A Novel
by Elisabeth Thomas
Experimentation (3/3/2020)
For this being a first book by this author it is well written. The story line is good and it does draw you in and keeps you interested in the story.
The characters are introduced well and their story lines are interesting. Entering Catherine House apparently, you need to meet certain requirements. It leads one to believe that the application process is one that you would fill out for an elite private school. However, once you learn about the characters you notice that they all have lots of similarities that aren't extraordinary and none have a rich background. This one is a good one for a book club discussion.
The Prisoner's Wife
by Maggie Brookes
Sacrifices for Love (2/15/2020)
I have read a lot of war books regarding WWII lately and honestly, to say I liked this one more than others is not something any one should say. With that being said, war in itself is a true debasing of a person's character, what a person is pushed to do all to make it to see another day is painful to read let alone actually experience it. Izabela and her soldier Bill push them through some extremely harrowing moments all in the name of love and survival. I honestly cannot imagine going through what they did. We truly downplay what living through a war really does to a person. Maggie Brookes captures the rawness of war without trying to romanticize it. Yes, on one hand one can interpret this story as a love story, however, it is more of a survival and true companionship story. What Izzy and Bill witness, live through and yet still manage to have optimism is nothing short of amazing. I hesitate to say "I really liked this book" because truly to like a story such as this is something none of us should.
The Sun Down Motel
by Simone St. James
Vacancy (10/25/2019)
Wow! This book definitely drew me in and held me captive right up to the last page. I hated that it ended but yet could not stop turning the pages. This was the first book that I have read by this author and I am looking forward to reading more.
I liked how each chapter went back between 1982 and 2017 it did keep the story interesting. SImone St. James has a great knack for excellent storytelling, she sets up her story very well, introduces each character very richly and you feel like you have known them for a long time. Her description of the motel was spot on that you could drive anywhere in the United States and find "The Sun Down Motel." Just hope that there is No Vacancy,,,
Father of Lions: One Man's Remarkable Quest to Save the Mosul Zoo
by Louise Callaghan
Humanity Prevails (10/10/2019)
Louise Callaghan did a wonderful job writing a story that is over a thousand miles away yet it can certainly be applied anywhere in the world and still seem so foreign to many of us. The story is very well written in where you can certainly sympathize with all the characters. Each one has a story that intertwines with Abu Laith - the main character in the story. His love of animals began at a young age and it allowed him to be passionate during a most tumultuous time in his life. This story took a nasty part of war and showed us a small bit of humanity, that at times was torn apart but still prevailed.
The Secrets We Kept: A novel
by Lara Prescott
Can't Keep This a Secret (7/20/2019)
Upon receiving the book I thought that this would be the story of espionage during the cold war between US and Russia. I had no idea that it would be regarding the novel Dr. Zhivago and how the author had to turn down any monies or royalties from the book. I had no idea that it was not to be published in Russia during Stalin's time. I had read the book and seen the movie, however this novel sheds a whole new light on the backstory of the author who wrote the book. I was duly impressed with this author and look forward to reading more by her.
Never Have I Ever
by Joshilyn Jackson
Read So Quickly (4/10/2019)
This is my first book by this author and it was quite good. I was immediately drawn into this book. The characters were very well described by the author so much so that I felt like I had known them for a long time. The ending was definitely a twist that I did not see coming. This author has a great knack for drawing you in to the story and just when you think that you know what is about to happen she pulls the rug out from under you! A very thrilling read. I hope to see more of these kinds of stories from this author.
The Last Romantics
by Tara Conklin
Romance Lives On (12/19/2018)
I loved Tara Conklin's first novel The House Girl and she didn't disappoint with this novel. The manner in which she introduces the characters is fascinating. She introduces them in such a way that you feel like you have known them all your life. Renee, Caroline, Joe and Fiona were all siblings who went through many phases of love, disappointment, and forgiveness. As the novel follows the four of them though their lives you experience all of their emotions as they grow. The youngest Fiona is the narrator of this story and she describes her siblings with great emotion. I found this novel to be very well written and I would highly recommend it to any book clubs.
Golden Child
by Claire Adam
Lost Child (10/26/2018)
I enjoyed the book but found it difficult at times to finish, but not due to the author. I just had lost interest in the story line.
Sold on a Monday
by Kristina McMorris
Not the Right Sale (8/25/2018)
This is the first book by this author that I have read. I found her writing to be very good and I thoroughly enjoyed the story. It seemed that the Ellis the journalist who took the original picture of the children for sale sign along with the children seemed like a good thing to report. However, the picture was ruined and Ellis needed to recreate the picture. Seemed innocent enough except that when he returned the children had already been sold. He noticed that there were children next door, Ruby and Calvin, so he approached them and asked if he could take their picture. Unfortunately, these 2 children were not for sale. The story is well written and the characters are described so well that one feels that you know them like they were your best friends. I am excited to read more from this author.
The Travelling Cat Chronicles
by Hiro Arikawa, Philip Gabriel
Bitter sweet Journey (5/6/2018)
I wasn't sure what I was going to think when I received this book to review. I have to admit I had my doubts. All that quickly changed within the first 10 pages. This was a great book to read! So much soul searching and past reflection was in these pages. I wasn't sure again where this journey was going to take me and honestly I don't think I saw it coming. I can't say much more without spoiling the story for any one else who would read it.
The way the author details Saturo's life is beautiful, I felt so much a part of his journey that I never wanted it to end.
Highly suggest this to book clubs or to anyone who loves and cherishes their pets.
Meet Me at the Museum
by Anne Youngson
Romance Long Distance (4/22/2018)
Meet me at the Museum is a wonderful literary read. The author did a wonderful job with introducing the 2 main characters. The letters between the two start out as a lady who remembers following a professor who writes a blog. She reaches out to the professor years later when she reads about an exhibit in Denmark that she is interested in going to see. As she continues to write to the current curator, a relationship develops.

This is a very good read and bookclubs would certainly have great discussions in Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson.
The Chalk Man
by C. J. Tudor
Hard to Erase (12/5/2017)
Great thriller! Just when I thought that I had it figured out, there was a great plot twist. I loved how it went from past to current and it wasn't confusing at all. This author was excellent in setting up the scene in each chapter - well written and definitely pulled you in to read just one more chapter no matter how late it was. This was one of those books that keeps you up and turning the next page but yet you hate to have it end.
Never Coming Back
by Alison McGhee
Too Close to Home (9/18/2017)
Wow. That pretty much sums up my feelings of this book. I didn't realize how much this book would actually hit home for me. I have a mother who is diagnosed with dementia/Alzheimer's. At first I had no problems reading the book but as it went on, it became more apparent that it was too close for comfort. I had a great deal of difficulty finishing the book but I made my way through it. I have actually lived through it twice - once with my paternal grandmother and now my mother. I don't think I quite understood what was happening with my grandmother while it was happening but it is all too clear and real with my mother. The author did a superb job in writing this story and I was glad that I did not give up on it. Very well written.
The Gypsy Moth Summer
by Julia Fierro
What a Summer (4/26/2017)
This is the first novel that I have read from this author, Julia Fierro. I enjoyed her style of writing and enjoyed this book. The main character(s) reminded me of a modern Romeo and Juliet, although without the long standing family feud. Just a difference in opinions and mental instability among the generations that have lived on the island for many years. I would recommend this to book clubs as I feel the discussions surrounding this novel would be very worthwhile.
The Essex Serpent
by Sarah Perry
English Myth (2/28/2017)
I know you are not supposed to judge a book by its cover but... It is a beautiful story. The characters are so well developed and their stories are so rich. Susan Perry did a great job of developing the characters in this book that they practically come right out of the book. She captured the human spirit in the search to dispel a myth.
I liked how Perry included letters written by the characters to each other. I recommend this book. I believe it to be a most beautiful read.
A Piece of the World: A Novel
by Christina Baker Kline
Wonderful World (12/27/2016)
A Piece of the World was a wonderful read. I felt that I was right there in the house with Christina just like Andrew Wyeth. Wonderfully developed characters made them seem like I have known them for a long time. Christina Baker Kline has a true talent as an author, she breathes life into her characters. I am excited to read more by this author. I rate this book 5 stars!
The Book That Matters Most: A Novel
by Ann Hood
Books can Make a Difference. (6/28/2016)
I found this book to be very well written and I liked how the author gave you a glimpse of the past so that the present day made sense. The struggles that this family went through are very real and can be applied to any family present day as well as the past. The fact that a book can hold so much memories for people is absolutely wonderful and I can see why the title is so appropriate. I would most definitely suggest this for a book club. I would also suggest that each member of the club chose a book that matters most.
The Secret Language of Stones: A Daughters of La Lune Novel
by M. J. Rose
Not So Secret Language (4/4/2016)
This book was a good read and would be a good selection for a book club. However, I found it predictable at times and strugled to read it. I do agree that it was suspenseful at best and she is a good writer of this genre.
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