Tag Archives: bookclub

an america tragedy…


america tI borrowed “An American Tragedy” by Theodore Dreiser from the library.  I didn’t love this book, but I didn’t hate it either.  The main character, Clyde, was very interesting, but so unbelievably mislead.  There were so many times I could not understand his decision making skills.  Is this something from the way he was raised?  Was he truly demented?  Or, was he always in the wrong place at the wrong time (doubtful).  Although it was quite long and at times very dull.  I would recommend it.  It was worth the read.

Goodreads describes the book:

A tremendous bestseller when it was published in 1925, “An American Tragedy” is the culmination of Theodore Dreiser’s elementally powerful fictional art. Taking as his point of departure a notorious murder case of 1910, Dreiser immersed himself in the social background of the crime to produce a book that is both a remarkable work of reportage and a monumental study of character. Few novels have undertaken to track so relentlessly the process by which an ordinary young man becomes capable of committing a ruthless murder, and the further process by which social and political forces come into play after his arrest.
In Clyde Griffiths, the impoverished, restless offspring of a family of street preachers, Dreiser created an unforgettable portrait of a man whose circumstances and dreams of self-betterment conspire to pull him toward an act of unforgivable violence. Around Clyde, Dreiser builds an extraordinarily detailed fictional portrait of early twentieth-century America, its religious and sexual hypocrisies, its economic pressures, its political corruption. The sheer prophetic amplitude of his bitter truth-telling, in idiosyncratic prose of uncanny expressive power, continues to mark Dreiser as a crucially important American writer. “An American Tragedy,” the great achievement of his later years, is a work of mythic force, at once brutal and heartbreaking.

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me talk pretty one day…


me talk

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris was HILARIOUS!!!!!!  (Yes, lots of exclamation points!!!)  I laughed out loud so many times!  I did not read the back of the book and actually thought I was borrowing a totally different type of book, perhaps about someone new to America?   My mind went everywhere but where the book went!  This is a memoir, of sorts, about David’s life.  They way he describes himself (very self deprecating), his family (beyond funny) and friends was so humorous!  This was a quick and funny read and I would totally recommend reading it.  If you do, let me know what you think!

Goodreads describes the book:

David Sedaris’ move to Paris from New York inspired these hilarious pieces, including the title essay, about his attempts to learn French from a sadistic teacher who declares that every day spent with you is like having a caesarean section. His family is another inspiration. You Can’t Kill the Rooster is a portrait of his brother, who talks incessant hip-hop slang to his bewildered father. And no one hones a finer fury in response to such modern annoyances as restaurant meals presented in ludicrous towers of food and cashiers with six-inch fingernails.

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the bluest eye…


bluest eyeThe Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison was such a sad book.  It was about an abused little girl that was hurt by her family and disliked by her classmates.  She was sure that if she had blue eyes that everything would be better.  It was a good book, but so depressing to read.  That said, I would still recommend reading the book.

Goodreads describes the book:

The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison’s first novel, a book heralded for its richness of language and boldness of vision. Set in the author’s girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America. In the autumn of 1941, the year the marigolds in the Breedloves’ garden do not bloom. Pecola’s life does change- in painful, devastating ways.  What its vivid evocation of the fear and loneliness at the heart of a child’s yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment. The Bluest Eye remains one of Tony Morrisons’s most powerful, unforgettable novels- and a significant work of American fiction.

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divergent, insurgent, and allegiant…



I LOVED THESE BOOKS!  I bought the series for my daughter and ended up reading them myself.  I would recommend reading all three and THEN seeing the movie(s).  The first two books were my favorite.  I did not like the ending of the third book, so that was my least favorite.  I wish there was a fourth…. great books!

Goodreads describes the book:

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

InsurgentGoodreads describes the book:

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.


AllegiantGoodreads describes the book:

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

orphan train…


orphan trainOrphan Train by Christina Baker Kline was a great book.  The book goes back and forth between the past and the present, between Vivian and Molly.  Molly, a foster child, helps Vivian clean out her attic.  They go through each box and Vivian remembers a story about each item.  As they go box through boxes both Molly and Vivian bond.  It was very moving and I would recommend reading this book.

Goodreads describes the book:

  The author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be delivers her most ambitious and powerful novel to date: a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.

Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from “aging out” of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.

Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

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yup, i’ve been reading…


I’ve been reading (and not blogging) and now it’s time to play catch-up and recommend some books!

I will start with the best books I’ve read recently and work my way downward:


A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick was a great book.  I was surprised by the twists and turns and completely enjoyed every moment reading this book.  I would have never guessed the beginning, middle, or end — glad to have read this one!

Goodreads describes the book:

Rural Wisconsin, 1909. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt, a successful businessman, stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who answered his newspaper advertisement for “a reliable wife.” But when Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she’s not the “simple, honest woman” that Ralph is expecting. She is both complex and devious, haunted by a terrible past and motivated by greed. Her plan is simple: she will win this man’s devotion, and then, ever so slowly, she will poison him and leave Wisconsin a wealthy widow. What she has not counted on, though, is that Truitt a passionate man with his own dark secrets has plans of his own for his new wife. Isolated on a remote estate and imprisoned by relentless snow, the story of Ralph and Catherine unfolds in unimaginable ways.
With echoes of “Wuthering Heights” and “Rebecca,” Robert Goolrick’s intoxicating debut novel delivers a classic tale of suspenseful seduction, set in a world that seems to have gone temporarily off its axis.


Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons was a great book, as well.  I’ve read other books by Kaye Gibbons and loved them (Ellen Foster and A Virtuous Woman) and I was not disappointed with this one either.  I loved hearing the story of three generations of amazing and interesting women and how they lived their eccentric lives in rural North Carolina during WWII.

Goodreads describes the book:

A family without men, the Birches live gloriously offbeat lives in the lush, green backwoods of North Carolina. Radiant, headstrong Sophia and her shy, brilliant daughter, Margaret, possess powerful charms to ward off loneliness, despair, and the human misery that often beats a path to their door. And they are protected by the eccentric wisdom and muscular love of the remarkable matriarch Charlie Kate, a solid, uncompromising, self-taught healer who treats everything from boils to broken bones to broken hearts.

Sophia, Margaret, and Charlie Kate find strength in a time when women almost always depended on men, and their bond deepens as each one experiences love and loss during World War II. Charms for the Easy Life is a passionate, luminous, and exhilarating story about embracing what life has to offer … even if it means finding it in unconventional ways.


Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin was a really good book.  It was available for “immediate download” on my Kindle from our public library, so I decided to borrow it.  It was interesting and detailed and I’m glad I read it — enjoyed it thoroughly!   I thought it was a horror book because of the name — nope, I’m just slow — the book is based in Mississippi.

Goodreads describes the book:

Tom Franklin’s narrative power and flair for characterization have been compared to the likes of Harper Lee, Flannery O’Connor, Elmore Leonard, and Cormac McCarthy.

Now the Edgar Award-winning author returns with his most accomplished and resonant novel so far; an atmospheric drama set in rural Mississippi. In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas “32” Jones were boyhood pals. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry, the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother. Yet for a few months the boys stepped outside of their circumstances and shared a special bond. But then tragedy struck: Larry took a girl on a date to a drive-in movie, and she was never heard from again. She was never found and Larry never confessed, but all eyes rested on him as the culprit. The incident shook the county—and perhaps Silas most of all. His friendship with Larry was broken, and then Silas left town.

More than twenty years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has returned as a constable. He and Larry have no reason to cross paths until another girl disappears and Larry is blamed again. And now the two men who once called each other friend are forced to confront the past they’ve buried and ignored for decades.


The Expats by Chris Pavone was a good book.  This is not a genre I normally read, but it was a nice change.  We are reading this for my neighborhood bookclub.  It was  a quick and fun read.  There is nothing to re-read as you go or think too hard about.  It was a bit predictable, but I still enjoyed it.

Goodreads describes the book:

Kate Moore is a working mother, struggling to make ends meet, to raise children, to keep a spark in her marriage . . . and to maintain an increasingly unbearable life-defining secret. So when her husband is offered a lucrative job in Luxembourg, she jumps at the chance to leave behind her double-life, to start anew.

She begins to reinvent herself as an expat, finding her way in a language she doesn’t speak, doing the housewifely things she’s never before done—play-dates and coffee mornings, daily cooking and unending laundry. Meanwhile, her husband works incessantly, doing a job Kate has never understood, for a banking client she’s not allowed to know. He’s becoming distant and evasive; she’s getting lonely and bored.

Then another American couple arrives. Kate soon becomes suspicious that these people are not who they claim to be, and terrified that her own past is catching up to her. So Kate begins to dig, to peel back the layers of deception that surround her. She discovers fake offices and shell corporations and a hidden gun; a mysterious farmhouse and numbered accounts with bewildering sums of money; a complex web of intrigue where no one is who they claim to be, and the most profound deceptions lurk beneath the most normal-looking of relationships; and a mind-boggling long-play con threatens her family, her marriage, and her life.


Not My Daughter by Barbara Delinsky was another book that was available for “immediate download” from the library, so I borrowed it.   It was a quick read.  The premise of book is a pregnancy pact between 17 year old daughters.  I have three daughters of my own, so it was a bit traumatizing to think about.  This may be a good book to discuss at bookclub and get other people’s thoughts about how to prevent something like this from happening, were the mother’s (and father’s) at fault, why did the teens think this was a good idea, etc…

Goodreads describes the book:

When Susan Tate’s seventeen-year-old daughter, Lily, announces she is pregnant, Susan is stunned. A single mother, she has struggled to do everything right. She sees the pregnancy as an unimaginable tragedy for both Lily and herself.

Then comes word of two more pregnancies among high school juniors who happen to be Lily’s best friends-and the town turns to talk of a pact. As fingers start pointing, the most ardent criticism is directed at Susan. As principal of the high school, she has always been held up as a role model of hard work and core values. Now her detractors accuse her of being a lax mother, perhaps not worthy of the job of shepherding impressionable students. As Susan struggles with the implications of her daughter’s pregnancy, her job, financial independence, and long-fought-for dreams are all at risk.

The emotional ties between mothers and daughters are stretched to breaking in this emotionally wrenching story of love and forgiveness. Once again, Barbara Delinsky has given us a powerful novel, one that asks a central question: What does it take to be a good mother?


Riversong by Tess Thompson was a book I got for free from http://www.bookbub.com.  It sounded interesting, so I downloaded it.  It was a bit predictable, but it still has some good merits.  It is a quick read and I don’t feel like I wasted time by reading it.  Unfortunately, I have read a few books that I was happy to be finished and I was disappointed I read it — this was not one of those books.

Goodreads describes the book:

Author Tess Thompson assembles a colorful cast of endearing small-town characters and takes you on a journey that will make you believe in the possibilities of life – even in the face of overwhelming adversity and unimaginable grief.

Lee Tucker is the kind of woman you find yourself rooting for long after the last page is read. When her husband commits suicide, he leaves her pregnant and one million dollars in debt to a loan shark. Out of options, she escapes to her deceased mother’s dilapidated house located in a small Oregon town that, like her, is financially ruined, heartbroken and in desperate need of a fresh start. Lee’s resilience leads to a plan for a destination restaurant named Riversong, to new chances for passion and love, and to danger from her dead husband’s debt as her business blooms.

A surprising mix of romance, humor, friendship, intrigue and gourmet food, Riversong entertains while reminding you of life’s greatest gifts.

good grief

Good Grief by Lolly Winston is a New York Times Bestseller.  It makes me doubt every book on that list.  It is about a woman who looses her husband and it is supposed to be a comedy…?  The things that happen to the main character and the situations the author tries to portray as funny — were absolutely not funny to me.  When your spouse dies and you can’t regroup… there is nothing funny about that.  The book takes a turn and I was able to appreciate it more, so I ended up being okay with the book and actually enjoying it towards the end, but I didn’t love it.

Goodreads describes the book:

Thirty-six-year-old Sophie Stanton desperately wants to be a good widow-a graceful, composed, Jackie Kennedy kind of widow. Alas, she is more of the Jack Daniels kind. Self-medicating with ice cream for breakfast, breaking down at the supermarket, and showing up to work in her bathrobe and bunny slippers-soon she’s not only lost her husband, but her job, house…and waistline. With humor and chutzpah Sophie leaves town, determined to reinvent her life. But starting over has its hurdles; soon she’s involved with a thirteen-year-old who has a fascination with fire, and a handsome actor who inspires a range of feelings she can’t cope with-yet.

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