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Reader Review: "The Wife Between Us"

Top Reader Reviews - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 06:00
by Steph (Charlottesville): I want to avoid as much plot as possible because I don't want to ruin a single thing. There are some fantastic twisty bits to The Wife Between Us that genuinely run you over like a semi truck and I don't want to offer any hints. I did have to go back and reread some portions to try and suss out exactly what was going on. You'll need to use your brain a bit for this one.

Vanessa, ex-wife to Richard, is down on her luck and living in a small apartment with her aunt. Post divorce, she's gone from housewife to retail hell at Saks. She's an addict, alcohol being her drug of choice. I think that was one major thing that bothered me about The Wife Between Us. It's very en vogue these days to use alcohol issues as the perfect foil to create an unreliable narrator. It's been done several times and ways and every time I'm left feeling a little cold.

Nellie, Richard's soon to be new wife, is the anti-Vanessa. She's bright, teaches pre-school and is a genuinely happy and refreshing interval every other chapter. Where Vanessa is dark and brooding, Nellie is light and joyful… until Richard's ex starts to turn up. Or so it seems.

Initially I gave The Wife Between Us three stars. Then I thought about the book for a few days, always a good sign, and bumped it to 3.5. And then I sat down to review it today and thought "what the heck" and put it up to four. The fact that I'm still thinking about it even two weeks later means it has stuck with me, and with as many books as I read that's quite an accomplishment.

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Reader Review: "The Great Alone"

Top Reader Reviews - Tue, 02/20/2018 - 06:00
by Susie J (Indiana): I so looked forward to this new book by Kristin Hannah because her previous title was so rewarding and satisfying. Unfortunately, this one is far from that - at least for me. The repetition in this book is unbelievable - how could an editor have allowed this to pass? In addition, many of the events in the book are simply too far-fetched to actually occur under the circumstances. Too much happens in too short a time or space. There are brief segments where the prose literally sings, and once I arrived at that point I took a deep breath and hoped I had passed the worst - only to be disappointed again and again. The publishing house fell far short on this one, I feel. Either that or I am asking myself who really wrote Kristin Hannah's great World War II novel of a short time ago.

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Reader Review: "The Great Alone"

Top Reader Reviews - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 06:00
by Veronica: I read this book in one setting. I couldn't put it down. The characters just captured me and kept me enthralled. I visited Alaska in the 70's and the descriptions of the state are right on. Beautiful, but brutal. Just as the characters were beautiful, but brutal. I believe Kristin Hannah did it again.

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Reader Review: "Only Child"

Top Reader Reviews - Thu, 02/15/2018 - 06:00
by Carole: Only Child is amazing! Once I started reading it I was unable to put it down. The writing flows and the characters are well-developed .It is intense, heartbreaking and uplifting. While it starts with a school shooting, that is not what it is about. There is so much more to this story. If you read one new book this year, make it this one. And really I rate it a 10.

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Read, Watch & Discuss! Five great book club books that are now movies

Editor's blog - Sun, 02/11/2018 - 20:09
Of course, we think any season is the right season to read, but winter can be a perfect time to read and watch! What better way to keep busy in these cold, dark months than reading with your book club, watching the movie version and then discussing both? It's always fun to watch characters you know and love come to life on the screen, and book club discussions can be broadened to explore comparisons between the book and movie. If you love books that delve into relationships, Our Souls at Night, and Call Me by Your Name are great choices. If you're interested in broader, social issue focused novels, we recommend Mudbound, Thank You for Your Service and The Colour Bar: The True Story of a Love That Shook an Empire (movie title: ... [More]
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Reader Review: "The Women in the Castle"

Top Reader Reviews - Sun, 02/11/2018 - 06:00
by Nancy: 'Commander of wives and children" is the title given to Marianne when she makes a promise to her husband and other German conspirators that plan to assassinate Hitler. When their plot fails, the men are executed. Committed to her promise, Marianne finds two other resistance wives, Benita and Ania, and brings them and their children to live in her decaying family castle.

This is not just another WWII story as the perspective is of three very different German women with very different experiences of loss, guilt, survival and recovery before, during and decades after the war.

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When Fantasy is More Real Than Nonfiction

Editor's blog - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 00:01
Ask me with a gun to my head if I believe in them, all the gods and myths that I write about, and I'd have to say no. Not literally. Not in the daylight, nor in well-lit places, with people about. But I believe in the stories we can tell with them. I believe in the reflections that they show us when they are told. And forget it or ignore it at your peril, it remains true: these stories have power. - Neil Gaiman, from Reflections on Myth It is through fantasy that we have always sought to make sense of the world, not through reason…It is through the fictive projections of our imaginations based on personal experience that we have sought to grasp, explain, alter, and comment on reality. This is again why such staples as the... [More]
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Reader Review: "The Women in the Castle"

Top Reader Reviews - Sun, 02/04/2018 - 06:00
by Roberta (Albuquerque): I loved this book. It is the story of three widows whose lives become intertwined during WWII in Germany. They are brought together as a result of the failed resistance plot to assassinate Hitler in July 1944. Marianne von Lingenfels promises one of the resisters that she will find and protect the other wives. She brings them together and from then on we learn about their joint and individual past and present struggles.

For me this book was deeply personal. My mother was a German war refugee and at so many points in the book I was reminded of her "story". Millions of Germans had similar stories and I was once again reminded of their suffering and the atrocities of war.

I also loved that this story was about and told by women. Their experiences and the ripple effects of war as well as their own actions and decisions makes this narrative even more compelling.

I do have some minor criticisms. The narrative goes back and forth in time and sometimes it is confusing to keep track of what has or has not happened as you read it. (Why are so many authors using this technique these days?) And there is a chapter after the book ends that the author did not include in the main narrative. I think it should have been included.

I highly recommend this book.

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Reader Review: "The Walking Dead"

Top Reader Reviews - Fri, 01/26/2018 - 06:00
by Dick Minim (Essex): Gerald Seymour sure knows how to cook up a tale but this gooey confection may be over-egged for even the hungriest of his fans, your reviewer included. A suicide bomber arrives in England from Saudi Arabia and the central plot involves the efforts to track him down before he causes carnage, a theme given more urgency by last year's shocking attack in Manchester. Mixed in with this are ingredients including the trial of two old-school cockney villains, complete with the most stupid (and unbelievable) juror ever and the incident-packed last days of an intelligence officer's career. Not Seymour at his best but a tasty treat all the same.

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A Few Outstanding Women War Correspondents

Editor's blog - Tue, 01/23/2018 - 14:55
Souad Mekhennet is one of many women journalists who have entered dangerous situations to try to inform the world about conditions in a war zone. A few of the most influential and best-known, now deceased, are listed below. [More]
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Six Debut Novels for Book Clubs in 2018

Editor's blog - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 20:34
As we settle into 2018, here are six of the best debut novels to read and discuss during the year. If you love books about place and community, Golden Hill, The Big Dry and If the Creek Don't Rise all transport readers to the streets of small towns and big cities and into the hearts of the people who struggle to make their lives there. Secrets are held – and readers' attentions are held too! – in both The Second Mrs. Hockaday and The Mothers. And, finally, readers can't help but root for quirky, clever teenager Ginny Moon even as she resists the loving family that finally wants to bring her home. All of these debuts are sure to spark emotion and conversation and are great bets for your book club! Read on for information on each... [More]
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Reader Review: "Ginny Moon"

Top Reader Reviews - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 06:00
by Ellen F: I wasn't prepared to like this book or the main character. I thought it was going to be a very different type of book. The author brings the reader into Ginny's world as the story develops. I could empathize with all of the characters in her life and begin to understand how Ginny has invented ways to cope with the life she has been dealt. I found myself rooting for her dysfunctional mother despite what had gone before because the deep ties of family were apparent. I ended up loving the book and came away wiser having read Ginny's story.

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Reader Review: "The Immortalists"

Top Reader Reviews - Fri, 01/12/2018 - 06:00
by Becky H (Chicago): THE IMMORTALISTS follows four children throughout their lives. The children visit a woman who tells them their death date. That knowledge compels each of the young people to follow a different pathway through life. A gay boy who is uncertain of his sexuality and self-worth, a girl who may be suffering from a mental illness and infatuated by magic, a girl who is intellectually brilliant but socially inept and a boy who is the family's "golden child" intent on doing everything perfectly make up this group of siblings.

Each one's story is told in succession with little interaction between the siblings until each one's death. Each story is compelling on its own. The characters are well developed. Each life story has a clear beginning, middle and end. The place and time each sibling's story covers is detailed and distinct.

An intriguing, well written, and aware novel delineating the difference between belief and science, reality and fantasy. The choices each sibling makes will resonate long after you finish reading.

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Reader Review: "Ginny Moon"

Top Reader Reviews - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 06:00
by M. Kassapa (Minneapolis): Ginny Moon, fourteen years old with autism, is trying to make sense of her world and with her as the narrator we are on a wild adventure following in her footsteps, watching how her mind works in navigating the zigzag path of her life. From the very first moment of this roller coaster of confusion and her desire to be reunited with her birth mother we want her to succeed. Once you understand the parameters of the journey Ginny is on, there is no way you can put this book down until reaching its culmination. Though at times you feel her fear and desperation, you hang in there with her. She holds our attention, our empathy and compassion as we cheer her through the obstacles that confound reaching her goal. And maybe she's not the only one who doesn't understand what's going on.

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