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OFF-TOPIC: The Story of an Internet Revolt by G.R. Reader - G.R. Reader ... a sad state of affairs... and shame on you GR/Amazon.

I will admit that I'm not on GR all that much. Sadly, I don't read as much as I would like and I'm not articulate enough to write good, helpful, lengthy reviews of the few books that I do read. But I love(d) GR because it was a place where I could read honest reviews and even get to know the people that made up this incredible community on a more personal level through what they wrote - whether it was a straight forward review or an off-topic sharing of their heart and/or head.

I am saddened and angry that GR/Amazon has put censorship in this place. And, yes, that's what I feel it is. Others may not, but I do. GR/Amazon not only started this censorship campaign but did it in a way that says, "we don't really care about you or what you think about us." I guess that's big business-corporate America for you. And we, the peons - the consumers, are supposed to just accept it. Even if we speak up, or protest, or revolt, it usually doesn't put a dent in the situation. I can only hope and pray that this situation might be different, that GR/Amazon hear the voices shouting and pleading and search their own hearts and ask, "what have we done to this community - to ourselves?" I really don't have much faith, though, that this will happen.

So... I'm off to check out booklikes...

Added consequence to this... I will no longer trust the reviews I read here and I will no longer review the books I read. I may not be here much longer.
The Casual Vacancy - J.K. Rowling I would actually give this book three and a half stars. For me, five stars are my absolute favorites and four would be for good reads. This was just below that only because it was hard to read, at least at times.

The vernacular was hard at times as was the subject matter. I'm a realist and feel like Ms. Rowling did a good job of not sugar coating what true life can look like at times. It was just hard, for me, to not get emotional reading about hurting children or abusive parents.

The Racketeer

The Racketeer - John Grisham Another good John Grisham book.
Island of Lost Girls - Jennifer McMahon A good quick read. I enjoyed the mystery of it, keeping me guessing until the end.
Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe - Larry Osborne This was a book my small group worked through. It was good for the group and challenged us all to think through what we believe and why. I gave it a rating of three stars only because I personally agreed with most of what was written. Still, a good read and thought provoking.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail - Cheryl Strayed I thoroughly enjoyed this book. They say that books take you on a journey. Well, Cheryl took me on a journey - not only on the Pacific Crest Trail, but through the recent trial of losing her mother and her life that then spiraled out of control.

I appreciated the way Ms. Strayed wrote, giving enough details about the PCT to keep me interested (even looking at maps and reading more about the trail) but not going overboard with descriptions of the flora and fauna. She also did a good job of weaving the story of her mom and personal life through her walk on the trail and the people she met along the way.

**note: I read the e-book version that included Oprah Winfrey's comments throughout the book. Although I'm an Oprah fan and I enjoyed her comments, there really weren't that many and in the end, I don't really think it was worth it.

Private Games (Private Novels)

Private Games (Private Novels) - James Patterson I listened to this book during two consecutive road trips. It was read by an English chap which, at times, was hard to understand and listen to, but also made sense since the story takes place in London during the 2012 Olympic Games.

It was a little eery to listen to the book and then go in and watch some of the games - and keeping the two separate in my mind. But I think having it take place during the current games made it more interesting to me. It was a decent story but more in the style of a comic book and not the suspense novel I was expecting from a highly acclaimed novelist.
Moloka'i (Moloka'i #1) - Alan Brennert I try not to read too many reviews before picking and reading a new book or if I do, not to put too much stock in what those reviews say because in the end, a book one person loves, the next person hates, and visa-versa.

I write that because I'm glad I didn't read some of the reviews written here about this book, especially those who have complained that the author didn't get the historical facts right. Maybe he didn't but in the end - at least to me - it didn't matter.

This is a sweeping story, with a main character but many delightful and insightful added stories, of what life was like in a leper colony on a lush and beautiful, yet secluded, Hawaiian island. It spans Rachel Kalama's life, from when she was embarrassingly and shamefully taken away from her family at the age of seven to her final days as a released survivor of Hansen's disease.

There were a couple of reasons I really enjoyed this book. One was for the factual information it gave me, through fictional characters based on what was, or could have been, real people, about leprosy/Hansen's disease and the colony on Moloka'i. I had very limited knowledge of this disease and the book really opened my eyes to what it would have been like not only physically to live with it, but socially and emotionally. I thought the author did a great job with the character of Rachel as I found her very believable and never contrived. The secondary characters, whether inflicted with this horrible disease or not, gave real depth to the story.

The other reason I enjoyed it is because I'm a cancer survivor and this story had many parallels to what I felt during diagnosis and treatment. Sometimes a person feels isolated by what ever inflictions they encounter - whether real or perceived, no matter how serious or incidental. This story shows us that it's not what inflicts us, it's what we do with our lives while living with the infliction that matters.

My only complaint would be that I wanted to hear more about some of the events that made up Rachel's life, but I understand that the author couldn't linger on any particular one in order to move on with the story. In the end, I felt like I knew Rachel and her community personally. I laughed and I cried and I was sorry to see the story end.

The Best of Me - Nicholas Sparks I would probably give this book three and a half stars. It was good, but just okay good.

I guess what I didn't like was at the point of knowing Amanda's son would need a heart transplant, I knew the way the rest of the story would go. Nicholas Sparks did his best in the way he wrote it to try to keep the reader in suspense, but it just didn't work. Saying that though, I don't know how it could have been written where the reader would have been kept in the dark.

I enjoy Nicholas Sparks' books and I did enjoy reading this one.
Lit: A Memoir (P.S.) - Mary Karr I enjoy reading memoirs and enjoyed Mary Karr's very much. So much so, I plan to read at least her first memoir (The Liar's Club) and maybe her second (Cherry).

I may not have understood every complex word the author used, but enough to get a feel for the events she wrote about and even more importantly, the emotions involved with being a wife, mother, daughter, as well as an alcoholic.
The Diary of Mattie Spenser - Sandra Dallas I would actually give this a 4 1/2 stars because I really enjoyed it.

One of my favorite genres is historical fiction and the period I like most is the late 1800s and reading of the early settlers and their journeys west. This book was exactly that. Not only did it depict the hardships of homesteading on the harsh plains of the Colorado territory, but shared a broken love story as well. I was sorry to have to say good bye to the characters who became so real to me.
Same Kind of Different as Me - Ron Hall, Denver Moore I loved this book and would highly recommend it as a moving and inspirational read.
Room - Emma Donoghue "Room is a book to read in one sitting. When it's over you look up: the world looks the same but you are somehow different and that feeling lingers for days."

I totally agree with this quote, which is stated on the book/author's home page. It makes you think about what we take for granted and makes you look at the world through different eyes. I loved the journey this book took me on.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer This will be one of my all-time favorite books. Harper Lee's quote, "the book to read is not one that thinks for you but the one which makes you think" perfectly applies here. I loved the journey it took me on and I was sorry to see it end. As a rule, I don't reread books but I will probably make an exception with this book. I lauged, I cried, I reflected on the smaller details of life, imagination, and relationships. Thank you Jonathan Safran Foer for giving us such a delightful story and told in such a creative way.

sidenote: I don't know how the movie will be able to convey the story the way the book did but I don't really care. I'm sure it will be a good movie but I feel like I have a genuine treasure from reading the book.
Lost and Found - Carolyn Parkhurst I think one reason I liked this book so much was because I'm a big reality TV show fan, especially The Amazing Race and Survivor.

The book is about a group of contestants in a reality TV show called Lost and Found (very much like The Amazing Race). They each have their own secrets, and as much as they want to keep them secret, the show wants to expose them - on camera.

I also liked that each chapter was written in first person by a different contestant of the game show. There was intrigue and conflict, and good ole fashion fun and humor.
The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold I know many people didn't enjoy this book because of something that happens late in the story. I don't understand why Alice Sebold wrote it this way, but she did, and it wasn't enough to ruin the book for me.

In fact, there was so much in this book I did like. Although it was a very sad event that sent Susie to heaven, I enjoyed hearing her voice as she lived in her heaven, watching life go on with her friends and family, and even her killer. Don't we all wish we could do something like that; watching someone else's life as a fly on the wall.

I'm looking forward to seeing how they do the book justice in movie form.