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7/31/19 7:38 P

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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath 4 stars

It's harder to talk about the writing with this because I know what happens in real life after. The book ends on a note of hope.

When I was able to forget about real life, I liked the way she wrote. There were some really nice prose throughout. She should've been a poet. Yes. I know. Anyway... Given the time this was written and published, this was new this talking about things like electric shock therapy.

I don't want to talk about all of what I could relate to, but I thought some of the self talk was dead on. I liked the book. I wish her life had been longer and better managed for her than it was. It's hard to reconcile the novel with reality.

~ Cheryl

Co Leader of A Book Club team


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7/29/19 9:12 P

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Revenge of the Middle Aged Woman
By Elizabeth Buchan
3 stars
This was our Book Club pick for July, 2019. See below for the thread.
This book just did not click for me, but if you like contemporary romance/family drama I think this is a rather enjoyable one. Just wasn't my cup of tea...

~ Joanne

Location: Stettler, Alberta, Canada


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7/29/19 7:50 P

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Equal Rites (Discworld, #3) by Terry Pratchett 5 stars

I don't know. There is just something about Terry Pratchett's worlds that work for me. I wavered between 4 and 5 stars and decided it gets 5 because I laughed out loud and I've been in a pretty low point lately.

This is the 3rd book in the series. Or the first. You could definitely read it as a stand alone.

~ Cheryl

Co Leader of A Book Club team


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,278
7/29/19 4:03 P

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A Year Down Yonder (A Long Way from Chicago #2) by Richard Peck (5*)
The Depression hits 15-year-old Mary Alice's Chicago family hard in 1937 and her parents can't support her, so she and her cat must go stay with her Grandmother in a small town full of bizarre characters, and the most unforgettable character of all is her Grandma Dowdel. This is such a great trilogy and this was the best book in the series. The characters are more fully developed and humanized than the first book, and Grandma has grown in wiliness and subtlety. Grandma may not do neighbor in terms of social duty, but she has neighbor in the Biblical sense down pat. She also doesn't do church or Christian or mind some creative fibbing for a good cause, but she enables those harmed by bullies to be good Christians who can turn the other cheek because Grandma will see to the justice. It isn't just coincidence that Grandma has the only outhouse in town that survives every Halloween.

A Long Way from Chicago (A Long Way from Chicago #1) by Richard Peck (4*)
The first book in the series is a collection of short stories from 1929 until 1935 when Joey and his little sister Mary Alice are sent from Chicago to spend each summer in the small town home of their eccentric and formidable Grandma Dowdel. It may have been a mistake to read the second book before the first since the second was so much better. However, the first story in this collection is so awful that if I hadn't already fallen in love with Grandma Dowdel in book 2, I'd have taken the book 1 back to the library without reading further. The stories and character development did get much better after the first story. It was also enjoyable because this book was narrated by brother Joey where the second was by sister Mary Alice, which gives us two different viewpoints on life with Grandma.

A Season of Gifts (A Long Way from Chicago #3) by Richard Peck (5*)
The third book of the trilogy jumps 20 years to 1958 with Grandma Dowdel now pushing 90 but without slowing down or changing a bit. The children who fall under her protection are those of the new Methodist pastor next door who's been sent to plant a church in the village. The story is told by the hapless son Bob whose fearless oddball little sister Ruth Ann becomes Grandma's MiniMe. Although it starts in the summer, the novel coalesces into a Christmas story in which Grandma, who doesn't do neighbor, doesn't do church, doesn't mind a few fibs for a good cause, and doesn't turn the other cheek because after four turns you run out of cheeks, shows that she has the loving and giving part of life down pat. This is a YA novel filled with laughs, life lessons, and Grandma justice.

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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7/29/19 3:12 P

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The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike #2) by Robert Galbraith (4*)
An unpopular avant-garde author disappears after rumors spread that his latest book tells nasties about poorly disguised icons of the publishing world. Strike is hired by the author's wife to find him, and does, hideously murdered and mutilated. I enjoyed the development of this whodunnit so much more than A Cuckoo's Calling, where the writing and character were wonderful but the mystery story not so much. This time the writing and character are even better, and we actually have an intriguing page turner of a whodunnnit. The characters from the publishing world were such hideously pretentious, narcissistic, artsy-smartsy swine that I was able to keep hoping throughout the story that a few more of them would bite the dust.

Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike #3) by Robert Galbraith (4*)
A serial killer sends a woman's leg to Strike's secretary Robin, who is being stalked by the brutal psycho. There are four women-haters in Strike's past who might be capable of these murders, who also swore revenge against Strike, and Robin appears to be an easy means. The police arrest one, but the murders continue, leaving the cash-strapped Strike to work without pay to save the future victims. This one is better than your average whodunnit, and I personally liked it more than A Cuckoos Calling but not as much as The Silkworm. The gruesome factor is high, but the detective story well-developed. The suspects were all so rank that I wished Strike would find that they each did at least one of the murders and get the whole pack of garbage put away for life. For me the best thing about this series isn't the crime-solving but Strike himself, such a great character for a not-the-world's-luckiest detective.

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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7/28/19 6:39 P

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Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson (5*)
As the narrative alternates between the mundane lives of the passengers and crew steaming from NY to Liverpool, the German u-boat commander stalking his prey in the seas around the British Isles, and the social and political background of the day, including Woodrow Wilson courting his next wife, we wait anxiously for the inevitable to happen. This was a gripping and haunting book told in very human terms about real people. If I had one complaint, it was that there were too many stories that were too mundane and could have been eliminated without significantly affecting the book. We can assume that many of the people thus profiled will manage to survive since someone had to live to tell their tales, however many of them will have their tales told by surviving family and friends.

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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7/28/19 5:37 P

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In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
by Erik Larson (4*)
The book concentrates on a year in the life of American ambassador to Germany William Dodd and his family and associates during 1937-1938, as a seismic shift occurs in Nazi Germany as Hitler consolidates power and ramps up control and terror. A biography of real people getting a close-up view of this unique and terrible period of history sounded mesmerizing, but this book fell short. The parts about the ambassador, his contacts, and the political quagmire he was dropped into were indeed fascinating, but too much of the book was taken up by the idiotic sexual exploits of his brainless daughter, which became eye-rollingly monotonous. I wished Larson would have spent more time on how life in Nazi Germany affected the wife and son and other non-Germans trying to make sense of what was happening around them and way less on a slutty twit's affairs.

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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7/28/19 5:14 P

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The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje (5*)
An 11-year-old boy from Ceylon is traveling by steamer to join his mother in England in the 1950's. He is given the worst accommodations including dining at the cat's table where the least prestigious passengers dine. However, the least prestigious table contains the most interesting and mysterious characters, as well as two other unaccompanied minors who join him in hair-raising adventures. Some might find this book slow but I am a big fan of bildungsromans told from the child's point of view. The things he observes and experiences will eventually coalesce into an intriguing mystery plot.

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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7/28/19 4:57 P

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The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene (4*)
Since I didn't have access to books as a youngster, I wondered if I was the only old lady who's never read a Nancy Drew novel, so I decided to remedy that. I had guessed them to be for a tween/young teen market but this first one probably would appeal to younger girls since the characters were all stereotyped white hats/black hats, and so much of the clues used to solve the case just fell into Nancy lap by luck. On the plus side it was clean, witty, and entertaining, and I would find it rather wholesome reading for young ones, although I suspect kids raised on Harry Potter would probably just roll their eyes at how easy the author made it for Nancy.

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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7/28/19 4:34 P

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The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (4*)
Lale, a young Slovak Jew is taken to Auschwitz/Buchenwald, where he tattoos the ID #s on the arms of fellow prisoners, and he falls in love with a young girl he meets there. He establishes a lucrative smuggling operation within the camps with gems and currency stolen by the women who sort through prisoners' valuables. This was certainly an intriguing story, supposedly dictated by an elderly Lale before his death, but frankly I found the story of the smuggling operation unbelievable and in conflict with other things I've read by survivors of Auschwitz.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (5*)
An up and coming artist is accused of the murder of her fashion photographer husband, but she has withdrawn into herself and quits speaking. She is adjudicated insane and placed in a psychiatric hospital. The story is told by alternating past entries from the patient's diary with the present narration by a psychiatrist who joins the staff because of his obsession with her case. This is definitely a most intriguing page turner. I found a few plot holes, but it was generally a well-developed narrative and better than the average suspense novel.

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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7/27/19 10:40 P

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Educated
By Tara Westover
4 stars
This book is more about abuse than about anything else, and the extent of that abuse is absolutely harrowing at times. That Tara Westover was able to survive the upbringing she endured, and then go on to achieve all that she has is quite amazing. Undoubtedly, she was suffering from PTSD when she completed her PhD.
'Educated' is a condemnation of the patriarchal nature of the Mormon religion. There are many exposés out there that undertake to illustrate the misogyny that is such a big part of organized religion - this one paints a criminally bleak picture.

~ Joanne

Location: Stettler, Alberta, Canada


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7/25/19 9:54 P

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Television Is the New Television by Michael Wolff
2.5 - 3 stars
Kind of dull.

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7/25/19 12:38 P

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Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
4.5 stars

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7/25/19 9:10 A

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Chickadee
By Louise Erdrich
(A Junior Novel)
5 stars
This entire series - The Birchbark House series - is delightful. Indigenous peoples meets Little House on the Prairie.

~ Joanne

Location: Stettler, Alberta, Canada


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CDCSMITH2013's Photo CDCSMITH2013 Posts: 2,213
7/24/19 4:49 P

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White Nights (Shetland Island #2) by Ann Cleeves 4 stars

Quick pet peeve first - I stumbled across several typos in this book. If it had been an ARC, that wouldn't have phased me, but in an officially released novel, it kinda bugs me.

I didn't really see the end coming, which was nice. It all made sense and I thought there was something fishy going on, but not *that*. Sorry. Trying not to give anything away.

This is the 2nd book in the series and I have to say I quite enjoy it. I find the only thing keeping me from wanting to run away to the Shetlands is the murder rate. ;) I think I'd quite like the long days and long nights.

~ Cheryl

Co Leader of A Book Club team


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7/24/19 4:42 P

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Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers Who Helped Win World War II by Liza Mundy 4 stars

This is another one of those read/audio book reviews. I listened in the car, read at home. The audibook was good. I can't complain. Of course, you miss out on pictures and sometimes it's just easier for me to recall names when I read them rather than just listen.

This was an easy read. The material was fascinating and I was sucked in and wanting to know more. It's not told in exactly a linear timeline, but I didn't find that to be a problem. There may be other books out there about these women, but I don't know of them. I think this is one of those subjects more people should read about. It's a great book for conversation. I can imagine it being taught in a class, students and teachers, male and female, engaging in discussion and debate.

~ Cheryl

Co Leader of A Book Club team


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JOANNEJI's Photo JOANNEJI Posts: 5,519
7/23/19 8:33 A

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Light From Other Stars
By Erica Swyler
5 stars
I loved this book about space travel, time, the nature of time, time manipulation, friendship, family love, loss, and what happens when science fails. The characters resonated with me, but it was 9 year old Nedra that fully captured the fascination with space and science, and her wonderment - and confusion - carried the story to a beautifully crafted ending.

~ Joanne

Location: Stettler, Alberta, Canada


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7/20/19 9:39 A

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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fu*k
By Mark Manson
3 stars
If you read a lot of books about pursuing a happy, satisfying life, then there is really nothing new here. Manson is just making his points seem more profound by inserting a great number of expletives. Not a bad read at all; also not a great one.

~ Joanne

Location: Stettler, Alberta, Canada


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7/20/19 7:50 A

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Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero 3 stars


I fluctuated between 3 and 4 stars for this one. It's a stretch to call this a horror story. Parallels are being drawn between this book and Stranger Things. That would be accurate. It's nostalgic for people of my age who grew up watching Scooby-Doo.

The gang is all grown-up. They may have been successful teens (in the book the oldest was 13 back in the day, the youngest 11) but as adults, they're struggling. Their last unmasking wasn't like the rest and it's haunted them. They go back to the scene of the crime to solve the mystery for real this time.

I won't give away what happens, but I will say this, once I realized this wasn't a full-blown horror story, but more of a dark comedy, I enjoyed it much more. I think anyone starting this book should go in thinking the same way. Yes, the danger is real this time, but the banter, the one-liners, it's better just to sit back and enjoy the ride I think.

~ Cheryl

Co Leader of A Book Club team


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7/20/19 12:37 A

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The Rosie Effect
3 stars
Not as good as The Rosie Project, but still enjoyable.

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7/18/19 8:42 A

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The Last Year of the War
By Susan Meissner
3 stars
I didn't really start to enjoy this book until I was almost finished it... I just never got drawn into the characters' lives, and for whatever reason just did not find the narrative to be compelling. Let me add, that often when this happens it has as much to do with my own frame of mind as with the book's content or writing style or whatever. I really wish I had enjoyed this book more - I truly wanted to!

~ Joanne

Location: Stettler, Alberta, Canada


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7/18/19 12:25 A

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The Devourers by Indra Das 3*

I know I am behind...it took me awhile to get into this one. I was a bit the narrative "frame", but I enjoyed the story of the auxiliary characters (Cyrah and Gevaudan).

JCMSMILE, Weight Warriors, Fall 5% Challenge 2018


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7/14/19 1:26 P

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The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (4*)
When an astronomer picks up radio signals of music from another solar system, the Jesuits launch a mission to that planet. This book is both science fiction and spiritual ruminations as the protagonists seek to find their own understanding of God in the joys, tragedies, and cruelties they encounter on their mission. On the plus side is an original story, well-developed characters, well-wrought prose, and some interesting POV's. On the negative side are too many implausibilities and setting the book in 2019--which means it is now obsolete and causes some eye-rolling over what kind of 2019 the author pictured back in 1996 when she wrote it.

Children of God (The Sparrow #2) by Mary Doria Russell (4*)
Upon finishing the first book, I discovered the story is not completed without reading the next book. This book shared the good points of the first (writing, story, character), but I did not enjoy it as much. The bothersome implausibilities felt worse in this one and the theology was heavily into repetition about what a jerk God is because He let me suffer. That viewpoint was needed to forge the way into more spiritual depth, but the amount of repetition was so excessive and tiresome before we started getting anywhere. Both volumes are intriguing and entertaining books, but not without eye-rolling if you thought about some of the sillier stuff.

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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7/14/19 12:04 P

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My Secret Life as a Ping Pong Wizard by Henry Winkler
4.5 stars emoticon
Just read this with my grandson. We both liked it. I laughed out loud throughout the book. Some life lessons to be learned.

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7/13/19 8:27 A

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The Kitchen Boy by Robert Alexander
3.5 stars.
Historical fiction, the story of the last days of the Romanovs. Well written and interesting. Just too violent for me. Guess I should have expected it given the subject. Had to skip some parts.

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7/12/19 3:32 P

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Ghost Story by Peter Straub 3 stars

I read this one a long time ago. My memory of reading it was that I really liked it. When I started on Goodreads, I remembered it as a 4 star book. I've knocked it down one.

Some of the writing reminded me of Stephen King. I don't mind endless descriptions of stuff. People being haunted, towns becoming Hell, I'm good with it all. But then I found myself getting so bored that I'd lose my place because my mind was drifting - sometimes to other stories, sometimes to wondering what to make for supper. I'm not the kind of reader who generally does that. I fall into books. They become my universe to the point that I forget to eat if they're good enough.

I felt like to was trying to do/be too many different things. In the end, I just wanted to be done with it.

~ Cheryl

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7/11/19 4:48 P

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In a Different Key was a 5 star book for me too. Interesting by itself, but having a 31 year old son with it and matching his dx and treatment to the timeline was fascinating.

~ Cheryl

Co Leader of A Book Club team


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7/11/19 4:46 P

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Sugar Pop Moon (Jersey Leo, #1) by John Florio 3 stars

** spoiler alert ** I was told, after I put it on my reading challenge list, that this was a young adult book. It's a short book, so that makes sense I guess. I'm totally against banning of books, but I can imagine this one being challenged, particularly if it is in fact a young adult book. Not sure I'm a fan of the name of the genre. I never know if it should mean it's about young adult characters or if the writing is such that it is "geared down" for the younger set. If it's the second, I'm not a fan and that is a little bit like this felt to me.

I liked the story line, but it felt oddly less anxiety inducing than it should have been. I mean there is this kid, this outsider based on his looks alone, who accidentally crosses the mob boss he works for. There's prohibition era speakeasies. There's a crazed guy looking for the femur bones of albino's. We got star-crossed lovers that happen to be different races in a time when that wasn't allowed. I should have been stressed out of my mind and I wasn't at all.

The albino murder storyline wasn't fleshed (probably should've picked another word) out enough to feel any vested interest in. It wasn't almost comic in the way it was brought out (not counting the hostage scene). I feel like there must have been a lot of albinos in Philly to make that a news story. I don't know if it was accurate to the time. Maybe there was a reason for a higher concentration? If so, that might have been mentioned, i.e. there was a doctor who specialized in the treatment. Keeping with this story line, am I supposed to believe this gangster sending femur bones to Cuba believed in the magic? Because if he is a counterfeiter of everything else, why wouldn't he also be of albino femur bones?

Jersey's friend who died, I should have felt weepy over, but there wasn't enough about him to make me feel it very deeply. I felt more for his father.

This feels like a good starter story that needed more work. Yes, that would have made it longer than 214 pages, but if it was written well, it would have made it better.


~ Cheryl

Co Leader of A Book Club team


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7/11/19 8:44 A

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In a Different Key: The Story of Autism by John Donovan and Caren Zucker.
Excellent book, very well written and readable.
5 stars

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7/11/19 8:40 A

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CDC, I’m gonna put this on my to-read list!, de Grasse Tyson is so readable.

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7/10/19 4:13 P

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A Dangerous Act of Kindness by L.P. Fergusson (4*)
Englishwoman managing dairy farm during WWII after husband's suicide cares for injured German pilot who bailed out of plane before its crash, with many perilous consequences ensuing. This was better than average historical fiction with very human characters, well written and developed, and much research to insure historical accuracy.

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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7/8/19 6:37 A

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Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson 3 stars

It's a good summary of things. It might be a good one for people just looking at the topic for the first time.



~ Cheryl

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JOANNEJI's Photo JOANNEJI Posts: 5,519
7/4/19 11:09 P

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We Are Okay
By Nina LaCour
5 stars
This is such a beautiful book. Marin is lonely, and damaged, and deeply disappointed in her life and in the people she thought she loved and she thought loved her. She is afraid of the future; she is broken by the past. So this is a book about healing, and no matter how big or small your own hurt is, this book will help you heal.

~ Joanne

Location: Stettler, Alberta, Canada


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CHIPPEE's Photo CHIPPEE Posts: 18,218
7/2/19 10:28 P

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The Day of the Storm by Rosamunde Pilcher
3 stars

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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,278
7/2/19 2:06 P

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One Summer: America, 1927, by Bill Bryson (5*)
I imagine Bryson could take any year and write up its major events into a fascinating history, having a talent for capturing the humanity of the people involved as well as the significance of the events for generations to come. But 1927 was undoubtedly an exceptionally eventful year. Americans lived in a cesspool of greed, corruption, racism, eugenics, and crime, yet America was also filled with greatness and innovation. It was the year of Lindberg, Ruth, Gehrig, Dempsey, major advances in automotive, aviation, and electronic technology; talking pictures, pulp fiction, and very yellow journalism. This book took me forever to read, well, not the book itself but the amount of time I spent googling the people mentioned to find out more about them--to me, that is the sign of non-fiction at its best.

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


 current weight: 186.0 
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CDCSMITH2013's Photo CDCSMITH2013 Posts: 2,213
7/1/19 8:37 A

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Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn 3 stars

This is a kid book. It's definitely scary. I like that Molly acting the way a decent person would even though she didn't really like Heather. I could see more of myself in Michael. What drives me crazy about a lot of books for kids is how stupid the parents are. If you really think Molly was so awful to Heather, so much so that you take her out to eat for supper to keep her away from the siblings, but then you make 100% of her care taking during the day to those same kids.

~ Cheryl

Co Leader of A Book Club team


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CDCSMITH2013's Photo CDCSMITH2013 Posts: 2,213
6/27/19 7:56 A

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This is where we can keep track of the books we read this month and rate them. This is similar to the “what are you reading” thread, but we will include only those books we finish reading in the month. If you start a book the previous month but finish in the current month, it counts for the current month. Please list the title, author, and your rating. You can also add a short review if you’d like.

Let’s use a 5-star rating system:

1 star * Hated it~Not worth your time
2 stars ** OK~There were some redeeming qualities
3 stars *** Liked it~Enjoyable read
4 stars **** Really liked it~Definitely worth reading
5 stars ***** Loved it~Great read and would recommend to others

~ Cheryl

Co Leader of A Book Club team


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