Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Book Reviews | Book Club Selections

The last three library book club selections I've read are fiction books that are fairly quick reads.



My favorite, and the most interesting read, is Lisa Wingate's Before We Were Yours. This historical fiction is based on the atrocities committed by Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children's Home from the 1930s to the 1950s. Children from poor families were stolen (right off their porches or while walking along the street) or signed over to the home's custody (by parents who were lead to believe they would be able to retrieve their children at a later date) and then sold/adopted out to rich families (or in some cases given to law enforcement officials for looking the other way). 

Before We Were Yours is told from alternating perspectives. In the present day, we meet Avery Stafford, a young lawyer who is being groomed to take her father's Senate seat. A chance encounter with a resident at a nursing home (during a press conference) leads Avery on a quest to find our more about her grandmother Judy, who is currently in an elite nursing care facility and suffering from dementia.

Back in 1939, we meet Rill Foss, the oldest sibling of Queenie and Briny, a young couple who live on a shanty boat on the Mississippi River. When Queenie goes to the hospital because she's having trouble birthing twins, Rill and her brother and sisters are taken from the house boat to the Tennessee Children's Home. As this story alternates between Avery's life of wealth and privilege and Rill's struggle to keep her siblings together, we are introduced to a myriad of other characters and situations that kept me wondering until well into the book how the stories would eventually intersect. A great, although disturbing, read.


At first, I really didn't like My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella. The story is divided into two parts: "Book One" follows Katie Brenner's life in London, where she works at a marketing firm. She's struggling to make ends meet, is trying to change who she is to better fit in to the London marketing scene, and is faking a perfect life on her Instagram account by snapping beautiful photos as she wanders around London. Honestly, she's not very likable; however, in "Book Two", she returns home (after being fired from her job) to help her dad and step-mom open a new glamping retreat. Here, she's more in her element and able to just be herself. She's much more likable, although the story takes some unbelievable routes (as she gets even with her old boss). At our book club meeting, we had a great discussion about social media, glamping, and not judging others by appearances.


The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick is the story of a widower living in the UK and begins one year after the death of his wife. As he begins cleaning out her things, he finds a charm bracelet that he's never seen and ends up going on a search to learn more about her life before they met. This is a quick easy read, although not quite believable. Arthur is in his 60s and is retired from a job as a locksmith, but he seems somewhat naive as he absentmindedly rents a bed in a hostel in London and spends another night sleeping on a vagabond musicians' couch. Then there's his visits to Graystock Manor where a tiger mauls him, the French writer who turns out to be gay, and the jewelry artist who wouldn't return his phone calls. I like the concept of the story (searching for the meaning behind each charm), but the somewhat unrealistic turn of events made this too much of a fluff read for my tastes. 

Have you read any of these books? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


  1. Although Before We Were Yours has been on my radar for quite some time, the only one of these three that I've read is Arthur Pepper . . . I agree with your assessment, but I did enjoy it.

  2. Always appreciate book referrals & reviews. I did read "My not so perfect life" I would not say this book was a favourite nor highly memorable. I do like the concept of Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper but since neither you or Karen thought much, I'll pass & imagine my own charm hunting story :)

  3. I thought Before We Were Yours was an excellent read - I reviewed it in my March 2018 round-up here:
    I might put My Not So Perfect Life on my waiting to be read list ... thanks for the recommendations.

  4. I listened to Before We Were Yours as an Audible book and enjoyed it very much.


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