Finding the Dragon Lady: The Mystery of Vietnam’s Madame Nhu by Monique Brinson Demery

51FyxhuxApL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_0 Loved It
3 Liked It
1 Neutral
1 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• The book was more focused on the time period than it was about Madame Nhu. I also thought she was supposed to be more evil but that didn’t really come through. – Sarah
• I thought the book was so very interesting, I learned so much. She was a very complicated person. I plan on finishing it. – Steph
• I was really looking forward to reading this book, but I had a hard time getting into it. At about a third of the way, it’s starting to grab my interest. – Kerry
• This was very interesting learning about the time period, but didn’t feel it was really about Madame Nhu or the interview with her. I did enjoy learning about the pre-war period though. – Carrie
• I was interested in learning about this time period but found all the same info in this book in the Wikipedia article about Madame Nhu and felt it didn’t gain any deeper understanding of her character or motives. – Shannon
• I learned a lot about Vietnamese history and the situation that set up the Vietnam war but I didn’t feel like I learned very much about Madame Nhu. I think I would have been much more satisfied if the title didn’t have her in it. – Danica

Conclusion: We definitely liked the added history knowledge that we gained from this, just don’t expect a huge revelation about Madame Nhu.

The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit

51iQT2TJ5LL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_0 Loved It
0 Liked It
5 Neutral
3 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• I could not get into the writing style. It was trying to give too many perspectives that made it feel like it was not saying anything. At least it was short. – Sarah
• Not sure if I like the writing style. I did not feel attached to any characters mentioned, very vague. – Vicki
• It was an easy read. It is a period in history I don’t know much about – and I still don’t. – Melissa
• It used a writing style that I didn’t like and so it seemed like a non-start about totally ordinary non-characters. – Shannon
• Easy to read, but no one to connect to. Don’t feel like I know anymore about them than I did before. – Carrie
• It was a quick read, but I thought it could have been written so much better. The amount of info I got about the wives could have been done in a magazine article. I would have liked to get to know individual wives better. – Kerry
• I really disliked the writing style! I missed character development. – Steph
• It was very hard to get past the writing style. I felt like I got a good picture of the environment and general feeling of the women but because there was absolutely zero character development, it was hard to care. – Danica

Conclusion: The consensus was that because of the writing style, there was a massively missed opportunity for some good historical fiction. To call this a novel is a bit of a stretch.

My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass

Unknown2 Loved It
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Comments:
• I really liked the book and was very impressed with the writing style. I was amazed that someone from his humble beginnings could be so articulate. It does not happen so much like that nowadays. It did get a little repetitive at the end. – Sarah
• I loved this book and feel that this should be required reading for everyone living in this country. It was heart breaking, triumphant and thought provoking, he is an American hero. I wish that his actual escape story was documented and added as an addendum but I am not sure that it was ever told. Skipping the foreword and some of the speeches at the end make this a better read. – Danica
• I enjoyed parts of this book. I did not like the writing style, thought it could have developed differently. Opening and ending was repetitive and dry. Though very interested by the biography. – Carrie
• This book made a tremendous impact on me when I read it in college, and I found it equally enjoyable this time around. Douglass is an amazing writer, especially given his start in life. I particularly love a first person account of history, and there aren’t too many of those from former slaves. – Marlo

Conclusion: Although most didn’t get through it, we all could participate in the discussion which was great and lasted quite a bit.

The City Center by Simone Pond

city-center1 Loved It
4 Liked It
2 Neutral
0 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• It was a fast read and an interesting take on the post apocalyptic world. I felt a few things were hanging but overall good. – Sarah
• It was a fast, interesting read. Really enjoyed the creativity and ideas, but felt some developments happened too easily. – Carrie
• Fun evening with the author! – Kerry
• I really enjoyed this. It was fast and easy to read. Really enjoyed meeting the author. – Tami
• This was a really fun read. Having it set in Los Angeles was great and I felt there were some great creative elements to the plot. – Marlo
• A super fun, fast read with great ideas and world building. I wish some of the plot would have actually been slowed down a bit to allow for more character development. – Danica
 
Conclusion: We loved meeting Simone and had a a great night with her discussing the book and life. Thank you Simone for joining us!

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

9780316204361_p0_v9_s260x4200 Loved It
1 Liked It
2 Neutral
1 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• This book was not as good as some of his other books, although it was short. – Sarah
• What I like about Malcolm Gladwell books is you always get food for thought. I liked it. -Kerry
• I argued with the book – every page for the 50% that I got through. – Steph
• Although this wasn’t as solidly good as some of his other books. There were chapters that I really liked and others I could have done without. I love how I always think about his ideas months and years later. – Danica

Conclusion: While not as liked as some of his other books that we have read, we did have a lively conversation about certain chapters, so I would call that a success.

Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard

200px-EmpireOfTheSun(1stEd)0 Loved It
2 Liked It
2 Neutral
0 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• It was OK. I could not really get into it and am not really sure why. It was a little unbelievable that it ties up with a bow and everyone lives. – Sarah
• I wasn’t able to finish, but enjoyed the little boy point of view, and the mixture of child-like innocence and cunning survivalism. – Kerry
• I picked this because I really loved the movie as a child. It was not quite what I expected and I had a hard time rooting for any one character. There were elements I did enjoy but it felt like a real slog to get through. – Danica
• I wanted to read this, but wasn’t able to get into it, didn’t get past the first few chapters. – Carrie
• I liked the writing style and how he showed the horrors of war – but in a peripheral kind of way. – Steph

Conclusion: It felt really long for most, our discussion was quick but we did talk mostly about the parts we did like as opposed to the elements we didn’t.

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

181047590 Loved It
5 Liked It
1 Neutral
0 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• So far, I’ve enjoyed it. – Melissa
• It was very whimsical. I liked the story and the relationships between the characters. – Sarah
• The fairy tale concept was fun, and I enjoyed the Grimm element. However, I actually thought it would have been a better book without the happy ending. – Marlo
• It was an easy read, but the story didn’t really impress me. – Carrie
• I was torn. There were elements that I really enjoyed and others that could have been really interesting but weren’t exploited. – Danica

Conclusion: Overall, this was liked and we spoke about a few elements about the book but it didn’t spur any big philosophical conversations.

Defending Jacob by William Landay

113677262 Loved It
5 Liked It
1 Neutral
0 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• I really enjoyed this book. Loved the legal dialogue and twists/turns in the storyline. And oh the ending! – Rachelle
• I’m not done yet… but liking it so far. – Melissa
• Really easy read. Different than most mysteries. Interesting twist at the end. – Carrie
• This was definitely a page turner. I really enjoyed some of the morality questions that it explores. – Danica
• I enjoyed this book! It brought up a lot of questions and issues, and was definitely food for thought. I wished the ending had delved into some of the issues raised throughout. – Kerry
• I really enjoyed the first few chapters. However, after that when it got to the trial everything felt very contrived and unrealistic. – Sarah
• I couldn’t put it down! I thought it was a good read. – Steph
• I really enjoyed it! I didn’t expect the ending and was sad when it was over. A lot of stuff to talk about. – Tami

Conclusion: We had a really great conversation and it seemed like everyone got caught up in this quick read.

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