Between, Georgia (Good ***)
The Pillars of the Earth (Very Good ****)
Other books I enjoyed reading (since beginning of 2008):
Kristin Hannah's Firefly Lane was a bit cliche and predictable at times, but entertaining in a "Beaches" sort of way (if you like those kinds of friendship stories). Good (***)
Galaxy Craze's Tiger Tiger is a fairly entertaining novel. It's a story of a mother and daughter's tumultuous journey from an unstable home life in England to an even more unstable life in a cult (as well as the daughter's journey through young adulthood). Don't know if I would want to read more of this author's work. Kind of Good (** 1/2).
Carolyn Parkhurst's Lost and Found was pretty good. I was not too into the soap opera-like drama and the multiple narrators, but the author continuously redeems herself by exploring a deeper perspective on life and its common struggles. Good (***).
This novel by Billie Letts didn't impress me much...From the very beginning, I was hoping this writer had more talent than this limiting story revealed. Mediocre (*1/2).
This is the first book by Anita Shreve that I have read, and it was enjoyable. Although it took me a little while to get used to her writing style, it was still a fast, satisfying read. I'm interested in reading more of her novels, particularly Sea Glass and Pilot's Wife. Very Good (****).
The Mermaid Chair, by Sue Monk Kidd
The Memory of Water was great. I want to read it again, and I'll definitely read more novels by this author. It spoke to me emotionally without being too sentimental and melodramatic, and though it had 4 narrators (4 characters speaking in first person), it worked. One of the characters has bipolar disorder, and for anyone who has experienced the struggle of loving someone with bipolar disorder, this book hits the mark. Very Good (**** +1/2)
Beside a Burning Sea required effort for me to complete, because though the plot was engaging, the presentation of the story was a bit one-dimensional. The author's intent to create a romantically poetic drama resulted in a novel with too much sappy dialogue and descriptive detail. In other words, I really wasn't too impressed with the author's writing style--it felt too much like summarizations and lacked the depth required to pull me into the world within the pages of the book. The engaging aspects of this novel included its historical setting in the South Pacific during World War II, in which 9 survivors of a sunken hospital ship are stranded on an uninhabited island. The plot focuses on how and if they get off the island, as well as the love developing between some of the survivors. Ultimately, it is a love story... just a bit too "overdone" for my tastes. Okay (**+1/2)
Great entertainment, including history lessons on World War II from the candid perspectives of the wives of soldiers. The Future Homemakers of America is a great read one can pick up and put down for a while, yet not lose interest. Good (***)
The Girls is a fictional yet realistic story of conjoined twins: the rare bond between the sisters and the story of their upbringing from birth to death. Good (***+1/2)
Ann B. Ross presents Fannie Flagg style storytelling with all the southern charm. Good (***)
Graphic account of a young addict's life; read "Beautiful Boy" first, and this one will be easier to swallow. Also, the parallels between "Beautiful Boy" and "Tweak" will be more apparent if read in this order, since the former has a more structured series of events as told from the eyes of an addict's father. Both are memoirs (true stories). I'd give both a Very Good (*** +1/2)