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The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old by Hendrik Groen: A Review

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According to Hendrik Groen, "Old is in".  It seems as if he is right.  Many books and movies that have recently been released have older protagonists.  Groen's diary is very reminiscent of A Man Called Ove but Groen is likeable from the very first page.  He and a few of his fellow "inmates" have decided to start the Old-But-Not-Dead Club.  Each member of the group take turns planning an outing that helps the others experience life a little more fully.  The group begins to form a close friendship and stick together as their members encounter health problems and lack the comfort that they could receive from loved ones.

This was such a sweet book and some of the parts were more funny than any of the other books I have read this year.  When Mr. Groen is pulled over for driving his mobility scooter too fast, I just about spit out my tea!  The author has a delightful attitude even with his sad past.  Speaking of this sad past, it is not a huge part of this story.  …

If The Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss

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In a small town in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, a newcomer with a mysterious past comes to educate the youth of the town and ends up learning many new things, herself.  Kate is a teacher who was terminated from her previous position but travels to Baines Creek to work as the town teacher.  Sadie Blue is a young woman who becomes pregnant to a man who is cruel and controlling of her.  Roy and Billie were abused as youngsters and take out their frustration on Sadie and other women.  Eli Perkins is a preacher who wants the best for his community but his sister, Prudence, is as mean as Eli is kind.  Weiss tells each character's story in a fair and impartial way.  She leaves no stone unturned and lets readers know that there are often untold reasons for crimes as heinous as spousal abuse and murder.  Oftentimes, that reason is simply poverty and a hopelessness that one will never escape it. 

I really enjoyed this book for its brave honesty and Weiss' refusal to all…

I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella

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I read my first Lisa Scottoline novel in April of this year.  This book is so much different from One Perfect Lie. This book is more of a comedic memoir than a mystery or thriller.  Scottoline and her daughter, Francesca Serritella, write about their funny lives in a series of essays.  Serritella writes about her hiatus from men and the insanity of forcing guests to make wedding dresses from toilet paper at bridal showers.  Scottoline writes about her disabled dog that is in a wheelchair and how she only wears a bra when she absolutely has to.  Both women write about their daily lives in a way that is both self-deprecating but also empowering to women.

There were definitely some very funny parts in this book but I wouldn't say that it was the funniest thing that I have read.  I have read a lot of comedic essay books by authors like Jen Lancaster who have me laughing from the first page to the last.  What I did really like about this book was the very endearing relationship that S…

Still Here: A Novel by Lara Vapnyar: A Review

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Sergey has been living, and struggling, in the United States for awhile.  His wife, Vica, is perpetually angry at him because he can't seem to keep a job, despite his PhD earned in Russia and his MBA earned in the US.  Vica is frustrated because she gave up medical school in Russia so that she could follow Sergey to the US and now she works in a cancer hospital, where she can't seem to fit in.  Sergey has an idea for an app which will keep a person's online persona alive once a person has died.  Vica desperately wants Sergey to develop and pitch the app so that she can be a rich man's wife like her friend, Regina.

Regina is married to Bob, a wealthy American who develops web applications.  She used to be a respected translator but has since become depressed since losing her mother to cancer.  She spends her days watching TV and eating foods that an app recommends to her based on her viewing habits.  Her mother's best friend, Masha, wants her to adopt a child but R…

The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian: A Review

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Richard's life begins to unravel when he hosts a bachelor party for his younger brother, Philip.  One of the guests booked strippers for the party that happened to be captive prostitutes.  The sex slaves, Sonia and Alexandra, end up killing the men who were holding them captive at the party.  This brings unwanted attention to Richard and his family and professional life is greatly affected. 

This story is more than just about exploitation of young women.  It is also about the disintegration of a marriage.  The story could be uncomfortable, at times, but I think that it was an important story for readers.  Sex slavery is such a horrible, but current, topic and one that is important for people to be informed about.  Some of the story could be a bit slow but I really enjoyed reading it, anyway.  The characters were not the best, in this book.  I really enjoyed the characters in Bohjalian's The Sleepwalker but the characters is The Guest Room were very awkward.  When Alexandra sp…

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

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Cass, a teacher who lost her mother after a long struggle with dementia, is driving home from a party on a stormy night.  Her husband, Matthew, warns her against taking a shortcut home because he worries for her safety in such weather.  Cass decides to take the shortcut anyway and sees a woman who appears to be broken down on the side of the road.  Cass stops for a moment to help the woman but is frightened when she thinks it might be a scam and drives away.  After she arrives home, Cass learns that the woman in the car was murdered and someone she had met before.  Cass is deeply disturbed by the tragedy and feels guilty that she didn't try to help the woman.  Soon, Cass begins to suffer from bouts of memory loss, making plans and purchases that she can't remember later.  Then there's the phone calls.  Almost every day, sometimes multiple times a day, Cass answers a call from an unblocked number and a caller who is ominously silent.  Is Cass experiencing a nervous breakdo…

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica: A Review

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I first heard of Mary Kubica's books when I had finished Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and was looking for similar fiction.  Kubica's books came recommended and I picked up The Good Girland fell in love with Kubica's thrillers.  I was so excited when I heard that she would be writing another book and got my hands on it as soon as I could.  I was not disappointed!

Clara is mother to Maisie and Felix, a four-day old infant, and wife to Nick, a dentist at an upscale dental office that is bleeding money.  Nick takes Maisie to dance class one day to give Clara time to rest and take care of Felix but he ends up in an accident that leaves him fatally injured while Maisie is virtually unharmed and seems to be unaware of what happened.  Clara is understandably heartbroken and believes that there may have been foul play when Maisie starts to have nightmares and flashbacks involving a man in a black car.  Not getting the attention she would like from the police, Clara decides to invest…