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The Cranes Dance

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**3 1/2 stars** I found this book to be incredibly interesting. It's like a behind the scenes look at a ballet company and one dancer's life. Fascinating! Kate Crane is a very reliable, likeable narrator. I felt her pain, drive, guilt. I liked that we followed Kate through both the ups and downs. This is not a book that glorifies ballet or ballet dancers. It is a real look at what it takes to be a ballerina.For those of you who crave a little extra drama you will not be disappointed in Gwen's appearances in The Cranes Dance. I feel like that story line is one better left explored on your own.As an extra bonus, as I hang my head in shame, I now know the story line of Swan Lake. I have never seen Swan Lake but am now looking forward to an opportunity to arise for me to do so.If you are interested in performing arts, family dynamics, and enjoy a compelling read I would suggest picking up The Cranes Dance. If you do, I would love to know what you thought of it!
Calling Invisible Women: A Novel

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What a novel! It brought forward so many points to ponder in such an open way. It was such a quick easy read that I finished it in one day! I will be thinking about it for many more.You must go into this novel being able to give a little suspension of disbelief. Some things, no matter how you look at them just don't fit, are hard to picture. However, for me, this took nothing major away from the rest of the story. What is the definition of invisible? Is it not being seen, not being able to be seen? What can cause one to be invisible? What does one do when one is invisible? Where does a person's worth stand? In them or in the fact of their visibility? All questions brought to light in the fairly unassuming character of Clover, who could actually be many of us. This is story for any woman.Ray even manages to bring in the subject of big pharmaceutical companies and their ethics without being overbearing. Does the end justify the means? Are there such things as acceptable casualties? Can "Invisible" people make a difference? This is an incredibly engrossing and thought provoking read! I highly recommend that you pick it up, read it, and take a look in the mirror! Enjoy!
The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat: Craig Claiborne and the American Food Renaissance

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This was a fascinating book. My friends consider me a "foodie", though I don't agree. I love to eat at nice restaurants, try new dishes, and experiment with my cooking club. None of those things however make me a true "foodie". I am just not that knowledgeable. Craig Claiborne was a "foodie", perhaps the first in our country, and he brought a desire for that knowledge to a large percentage of people just like me. I never read one of Claiborne's columns but had I, I would have been one of his devoted followers. Learning about the life and career of such a man was a wonderful discovery for me.McNamee makes Claiborne come alive. As I was reading the book I found myself making the journey with Claiborne and wishing that I was more than just a voyeur. I wanted to be a part of the lavish dinner parties, on the trips to Europe to explore the newest restaurants, and to have written some of the amazing cookbooks which carry the Claiborn byline.However, as is true with anyone, Claiborne was not just his public persona. He had an unseen, and for that time period, scandalous personal life. He lived with the same demons a lot of us do and had the same character flaws too. This does not distract from the persona of Claiborne but serves to make him someone that more of us can relate to.If you are interested in food at all I think that this biography is definitely worth the time to read. I not only learned a lot about the food revolution in America but I was left with a respect for what it took to make it come about, not to mention a compelling need to go out and buy The New York Times Cookbook.
Temptation: A Novel

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Douglas Kennedy takes his readers on a roller coaster ride in Temptation. It comes complete with ups, downs, twists, and surprise turns. Temptation was an easy read but I found that I never knew what to expect next and that kept me turning the pages. The ending came as a surprise but not an unwelcome one.As a character I found Armitage to be shallow, selfish, weak, and over the top. These are traits that are usually not good in a character but I think they work here, and he does eventually redeem himself. Don't let the cover fool you. This is not a book about sex. It is about control and the lack of it, fame and the cost of it, money and the effects of it.There was one character where I felt the bad language was a bit much. I know what Kennedy was trying to do with it but I found it a bit off-putting. On the other hand, I absolutely loved the character of Alison, Armitage's agent. She also had some off colored language but it did not seem as out of place.This was an enjoyable read and more like 3 1/2 Smiley, but I haven't figured out how to do that yet. I would suggest giving it a try yourself if it sounds at all interesting to you. Temptation was an interesting peak into Hollywood and it's players. A Library of our Own
The Underside of Joy

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I really, really enjoyed this book! It was well written and an easy read. The subject matter was not easy but the writing pulled you in and made this book extremely readable. I loved Ella. She was real. I could see myself doing a lot of the things that she does which made me relate to her even though I have not had the same experiences. This is a story about family in it's many forms, about loss, about not being perfect, and about forgiveness. Do yourself a favor and read this book! I don't think you'll be disappointed!
A Night to Remember

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I picked this book up for the Kindle on 4/13/12 during the Kindle Daily Deal. I had never read a book about the Titanic before and as this had gotten great reviews and it was the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking I thought that it was a good time to change that.I found this book engaging, engrossing, gripping and simply fascinating! It was a well written and, from what I could tell, thorough account of that night. I felt connected to the passengers and crew that were on the Titanic during this horrific time. One of the things I liked best about this book is that there weren't liberties taken, drama wasn't added to make the book more exciting. This was simply the story of the Titanic's last night. I felt that Lord also did a good job of discussing the social expectations at play when the Titanic sunk and how they were changed as a result of that tragedy.I would not hesitate to recommend this book to anyone interested in the story of the Titanic.
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle

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If you are looking for Downton Abbey in book form than this is not the book for you. I had a hard time with that at first. I was looking for the same feel of the Downton Abbey television series. I wanted the stories of both those living in the castle and those whose job it is to keep it running smoothly. There is obviously some of that in this book but as it is not a fictional story written for drama, it can not be the same.It's well written and a good history. There are lots of interesting pieces of information and connections. I found both Lady Almina and her husband, the 5th Count of Carnarvon, very compelling subjects. The Count in particular played a large part in a wonderful, historical find of that time period. This story is not solely about Lady Almina and Highclere castle which I felt actually added something to the book. However, I think I frequently got side tracked by the many names thrown out there not pertinent to the story. Names that were obviously important names in that time in English history, but since they were often not more than a mention it did as much, if not more, to distract from the book than it did to add to it. If you are interested in this time in English history I am sure you will enjoy this book.
The Language of Flowers: A Novel

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I really enjoyed this book. I found myself fascinated with the language of flowers. I will admit that a few parts of the book were not quite believable and/or disturbing. However because the book was easy to read, well written, and had an interesting story line I was able to employ the suspension of disbelief. I would actually rate this a 3.5 but since that is not possible I will ere on the positive side.
Shelter: A Novel

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:I would say that the title Shelter appropriately sums up what this book is about. It's the search for physical shelter, monetary shelter, emotional shelter. Maggie, Jennie, their mother, and many of the other characters are all searching for it in different ways. Will they find it? You have to read the book to find out.This book was beautiful in many ways but I found myself having a hard time with the narrative coming from a preteen girl. It just never rang quite true to me. The story it self never became a completely cohesive work for me. I still think that the book has interesting things to say. I especially liked the peek into the life of a logger and the interactions we see with the Indian community in the area. The beautiful friendship between Maggie and Vern is a heart melting coming of age tale.I'm left with the feeling that I missed something in my reading of this story. A link, an event, a remark that tied it all together. I didn't find it but the book, was still worth the read. Many of the sub-stories made for good stories. I would love to hear others' thought after they've read it.
When Morning Comes: A Family Affair Novel

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I have very conflicting thoughts on this book. This novel is actually two different stories woven together through the two female protagonists being best friends. Other than that, and the very unrealistically ending, which tied everything up into a nice, neat, happy little package, they are almost completely separate. I not sure how I would normally feel about this arrangement but in this book it worked OK because I was really irritated by the secondary female lead character and it was nice to be able to separate the two in my mind.Sabrina and Cade's story was one I would have really enjoyed. There were two strong characters, engaging plot, very interesting subplot, and who doesn't love a happy ending?Kara and Tristan's story was not at all enjoyable. Tristan was an awesome male lead, strong, supportive, rich, handsome, trustworthy, etc. Kara on the other hand drove me crazy. I understand what Ray was trying to do with her character but it just angered me. Kara was such the victim and continuously allowed it to happen. It was to the point where I didn't believe she deserved the guy. There was even a fairly substantial plot point that was never wrapped up.Ray would have done well to keep the two stories separate. Unfortunately she didn't. I give When Morning Comes as a whole 2 1/2 Smiley, Sabrina and Cade's story 3 1/2 Smiley. If you like chick-lit and romances I wouldn't say don't read it. Give it a try yourself. I think everyone will probably have a different reaction to this story. If you read it I would love to hear your opinions on it!I will definitely read another book by Francis Ray if given the chance!
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