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jspoelker

jspoelker

Joined December 2021

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jspoelker
All In: An Autobiography | Maryanne Vollers, Billie Jean King, Johnette Howard
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BJK… WHAT A LIFE! This memoir is an incredible journey of tennis, love, self discovery, equality, social justice, and self acceptance. I cannot get over the layers of wows BJK holds for me. I feel so grateful for her work and now a chance to know her personal story.

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Solito: A Memoir | Javier Zamora
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A first hand account of a, Javier, 9 year old boy who lived in El Salvador with his grandparents and cousin after first his father then is mother migrated to the US. They waited until they could afford to pay for Javier‘s passage through Guatemala and then Mexico to join them. This story is an incredible and real journey of love, luck, and unlikely friendship. Only the desperate attempt… So many come and so few make it.

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Open: An Autobiography | Andre Agassi
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This story is both incredible and astonishing. Andre Agassi is someone I have liked but now completely respect and have well of compassion for. I remember cheering both for and against him and now I will only cheer for him. What a life he was first forced to lead and now chooses to do so. Don‘t need to be a fan to enjoy it.

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Our Missing Hearts | Celeste Ng
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Mehso-so

A timeless story about secrecy and race that could take place in any time period minus occasional use of smartphones and internet. It great central plot and describe language but over used with many characters that become hard to discern who ti focus on and important moments. 1/2 to a third too long. It‘s worth reading a few of the beginning, middle , and end chapters.

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This is a modern story of unique friendship through video gaming & is both compelling and touching. The story bravely shows difficulties, challenges, & tramas a girl at 11 and boy at 12 years old live through while also cleverly couching gaming strategies & gaming jargon. The friendship between Sadie & Sam is tested over and over showing the beauty of exposing one‘s authentic self and how love and support bloom like a video game brought to life.

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Malcom Gladwell does it again. This time he focuses on WWI and the lesser known intricacies of the bombing strategies and human back stories. Originally written as an audiobook with actual footage of high level conversations and digital support via the net. The audio version transports the reader to the exact conversation complete with tel tail 1940‘s recording sounds. It‘s incredibly powerful to hear it first hand.

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The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois | Honore Fanonne Jeffers
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I want to give this a 5 star rating but it was a sweeping saga with several simultaneous story lines but only one caught my attention. It is incredibly well researched to enhance the ficticios story to be as real as possible. Although dense, confusing, & uncomfortable to read at times, it is well worth sustaining until the end of the main storyline. If it is ever pared down to a YA version, the book would be required reading for Middle Schoolers

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Dad in a Cheer Bow | Patrick Riccards
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This first hand account of a father who bravely became a “boy” cheer coach for his 10 year old daughter just because she asked him to do so. The story encompasses the love of a father who ended up emotionally supporting 19 tween girls through years of practice,competition, adversity, and success. Each account has insightful glimpses of the human experience and real people all the while on a roller coaster of ups and downs. Hard to put down!

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Meant to Be | Emily Giffin
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I LOVED this book. Emily Giffin has a gift for voicing internal experiences for all characters while balancing and forwarding the storyline in unexpected ways… all the while guiding the reader cheer for the greater good and romance

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Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family | Ron Howard, Clint Howard
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A memoir written from the child actors and bothers Ron and Clint Howard and how their loving father and mother guided and protected them. From their farming Oklahoma roots to their days on the red carpet these two Hollywood legends lead the reader in tandem on the personal journey from boyhood to the present. Fun, heartfelt, and personal. Lovely.

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The Maid | Nita Prose
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Molly, highly functioning maid on the spectrum works in a fancy hotel finds her job highly satisfying and befriends a rich guest, Giselle, who confides in Molly about her bereft life to Mr Black. Things take a turn when Molly finds Mr Black dead in his room. The ever clean, neat, and eager to please Molly finds herself tangled up in and arrested for his murder. This delightful story has one pulling for Molly just like we did for Amelia Bedelia.

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Horse: A Novel | Geraldine Brooks
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An epic tale weaving the long pasts and the present revolving around an unmatched horse of his time and the spokes of his relations to humans, paintings, and his off spring. Being from the area (S. Ohio with family roots in Louisville horse racing), the story slowly swallowed me whole. The plausible, personalized discrimination of blacks & the unthinkable choices they were forced to make/still endure is important for society to understand.

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An in-depth look at the influential Mothers of contemporary men who shifted the world‘s view of black America. Much of this history has been lost so the meticulous research and careful crafting of the stories of each of these women is astounding. We‘ll done!

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Although very well written and detailed, I found myself jumping to sections that interested me most. A truly comprehensive history and commentary on the reign of Queen Elizabeth with engaging stories and behind the scene details that one may have missed on the media when it occurred.

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The Love Hypothesis | Ali Hazelwood
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This Romcom is super endearing and fun! It takes place in an academic setting complete with all the trails and tribulations of a scientific grad student‘s journey complete with living on a shoe string finances and ride or die friendships forms through similar experiences. Olive is all these & more when she finds herself fake dating a broody profesor for mutually beneficial reasons. A bit predictable but a intimate peek into the psyche of us all.

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Mehso-so

A story of the world‘s most famous mystery writer and her marriage and otherwise. Fair attempt at fleshing out Ms Christie‘s life, but it fails short with confusing drama before actually making the emotional connection to the characters. Not my cup of tea but maybe yours.

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The Reading List: A Novel | Sara Nisha Adams
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A story of of the human condition that inadvertently spark unlikely friendships & heal family relationships. Reading is primarily a solo act that can be deemed selfish “me time,” this novel shows how stories and books change us and open us up to a better understanding of ourselves and others. The characters and quandaries from beloved books are woven together with those in the new story show us how they heal and create incredible connection.

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Finding Me: A Memoir | Viola Davis
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Not always an easy read, but so well written, compelling & worth the journey. Ms Davis shares incredible vulnerability & gritty transformation through her bumpy ride through life, starting with her impoverished childhood, her time at Juilliard to her incredible career. Memoirs often hide pain with witty storytelling, but Ms Davis shares the darkness & the emotional journey she painfully faced and healed. A story of modern warrior black woman.

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At first glance this appears to be another female empowerment thriller complete with an international backdrop between Portugal and the US. But it is way more than that! The surprise twist propels this one into its own category of mystery and intrigue. Before the roller coaster turn, it reads like a female Robert Langdon (Dan Brown) pager turner. Buckle up. You are in for quite a ride!

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The famous newscaster Anderson Cooper interviews his famous mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, about her both scandalous and public life as a child through her 92nd year. It reads more like a conversation than an interview with Anderson responding with his own reflections to the same events like the loss of his father and brother. Both show grit and resilience in the face of abrupt and emotional upheavals.

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Ashley Ford shares her incredible story of growing up in Indiana with inside views of her family, love, and self acceptance within the social construct of being black and just being. Her parental circumstances were challenging as her father was incarcerated for most of her life while her mother struggled making ends meet and coming to terms with her own issues. Grandmother was a constant and an inner compass. Well written and well worth reading.

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A memoir of singer/songwriter/actress Jewel who grew up with her father among what she describes as “growing up always camping”and a divorced, hippie, manipulative mother. It is her journey both inward and outward of performing, singing, struggling with finances and relationships to her current mature outlook as a single divorced mother. Jewel is as resilient as they get & this memoir is well worth reading for those on their own journeys.

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A delightful story of discovery of self and the romantic other. Chloe and Red are two very different and emotional bag handlers who are both sweet and innocent at the same time. The insight into self reflection is tasteful and on point while revealing their honest vulnerabilities which keeps the reader cheering on this unlikely pair as they navigate self image, family issues, and personal failures. Lovely read.

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This super fun book about a mega movie star who shares her personal story with an unknown writer is intriguing but gets more and more interesting with each chapter. The author ties up every last end yet leaves us wanting to read 3 more chapters! Very readable and modern take on society‘s norms on relationships

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Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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An interesting fictional account of a young 20 something who is an artist at heat but is trying to juggle a job, living in NYC, dating, her sexual desires, & being an African modern woman with few choices. She finds herself living with her married lover‘s family in suburban, NJ. This raw, straight forward first person POV brings the reader in twists and turns of a modern, artistic young black woman in a world of white privilege.

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This single mom in the middle of a new divorce turned detective mystery sequel is just as entertaining and attention grappling as the first… if not more so. Finlay and her babysitter turned partner keep the pages turning. And if they didn‘t hold your interest the steamy relationship with the cop and law student will. Very fun book.

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Betty is so down to earth and lovable and this 6th book is no exception. Easy to read/listen to and makes me feel like we are now friends.

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The Book of Lost Names | Kristin Harmel
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4/5 stars Essentially a love story of Eva a young woman who is daughter of Polish immigrants. Due to luck, Eva‘s artistic talents, and fast thinking, she and her mother are saved from the Jewish round ups in Paris. Unfortunately, her father is sent to Auschwitz, & Eva eventually convinces her mother that he is dead. The high stakes decisions keeps the reader engaged as well as the many plot twists. An emotional and beautiful story. Well worth it.

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Ghost Boys | Jewell Parker Rhodes
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A story of 12 years old Jerome who is shot and killed by a police officer who mistakes a toy gun for a real one. He tells his story as a ghost watching his family and the trial. The officer‘s daughter can see him and the two 12 year olds attempt to help the officer confront his racial biases. As a ghost, Jerome also interacts with other ghosts lost to Gun. Violence.

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This suspenseful novel is about a travel journalist who is robbed before leaving on a coveted and luxury Norwegian cruise ship North Sea. Even though the trip is a work related, she quickly finds herself in an awkward then dangerous position. The reader is lead through an intriguing yet unpredictable week long journey filled with astute observations from the first person POV. Pay close attention or end up rereading passages! Very Well written.

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The Guncle | Steven Rowley
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A truly delightful book with humor, angst, and love. Patrick‘s adulthood best friend married his brother, had 2 kids, and lived on the other side of the country. But her death set in motion and unforeseen trip to rehab for the brother and a 3 month stint of caring for a niece and nephew who took over Gay Uncle Patrick‘s house and heart. Great insights to the heart about grief and loss and living through it…just what snarky Patrick needs.

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Great historical fiction on WWII and Polish/German Jews with an extraordinary girl stolen at birth and raised in the woods and grew up learning lifesaving skills and honing her intuition/6th sense. As many historical fiction books are, this is based on many true instances. Wonderful read.

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A solid fast paced crime and women lead story. What a ride!! It had it all with sophisticated plot twists with a back drop of a down to earth Finely Donavan, a a regular mother/gilded wife/reliable friend/romantic partner who is struggling as a new single mom and author. The cheeky approach to regular life and a surprising series of adventures kept this plot racing. Easy to read and engaging.

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Leaving Time | Jodi Picoult
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This book has it all: unpredictability, dual timeline, love story multi dimensions, and elephants as characters. The human journey is beautifully reflected in the elephants spanning the US and South Africa. One is easily engaged and swept up in the various twists and turns of the multilayered plot. The author skillfully reveals and communicates the inner working of a character and the subtle and intricate interactions among each main player.

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Wish You Were Here | Jodi Picoult
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A story that authentically and accurately depicts what happened in the news, jobs, households, and internationally during the Pandemic. The author‘s insightful character reflection create an authentic and well developed plot, which allows for a strong emotional connection among characters and reader with a dual setting. The author‘s creative research is able to artistically highlight a real yet unique aspect of Covid 19 and the pandemic fall out..

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A delightful time piece set in China when people were. Punished for the slightest offense against the government. It‘s a story of friendship and love and managing a normal life among it all.

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The Last Black Unicorn | Tiffany Haddish
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An honest and hilarious account of Tiffany Haddish‘s life. She is incredibly talented and forth coming with her life experiences and less than perfect journey to fame. The audiobook is the bomb. Definitely something to catch and not miss.

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Twice in a Blue Moon | Christina Lauren
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This is a coming of age story about a girl/woman who finds herself, her talent, her father, and her first love under the guise of a huge personal secret. Well written and not easily anticipated twists and turns even though you are rooting for her!

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A fascinating coming of age book about a unique boy on an Indian reservation and his observations of his family, friends, and tribe. The story focuses on friendship and a bit of romance but always with a character driven plot line. It gives an insiders view of life on the res and what it means to lead a double life between the white world and the res as a teen boy.

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This humerus yet honest and vulnerable peek into Chrissy Metz‘s life and journey to the TV show This Is Us. She is upfront about her experiences as a plus sized woman growing up and in show biz. She shares both her struggles and triumphs both personally and professionally. While her childhood and upbringing were rough, it gives us insight into our own perseverance and a sense of self.

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This memoir is an endearing and touching account of the rock star /drummer, Dave Grohl who played for Scream, Nirvana, and founded FuFighters. He is a son of a single mother school teacher who supported her son‘s choice to play drums in place of going to college. What a bold choice in the 90‘s! Yes, he is incredibly fortunate and he shares his gratitude and awe at every turn. His is an amazing story only believable from the storyteller himself.

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Enjoying the outdoors with a beer and this gem of a book! This memoir is a roller coaster ride of incredibly relatable life scenarios with a straightforward no nonsense approach including very vulnerable and real accounts of Amanda de Cadenet‘s life. Although I‘m not familiar with her or her British famous family, the juxtaposition of upper crust life and the literal gutter is badass in itself. Additionally, she uplifts the feminine as a whole.

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THE WISH | Nicholas Sparks
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A beautifully written story about one teenage girl‘s seemingly normal coming of age journey. Told as a flashback, it holds the reader‘s Interest as it bounces between timeframes. But this extraordinary young woman‘s story is presented in the most tender and emotionally intimate way with unexpected but lovely turns. I don‘t like romance novels, but this is a more… soooo much more.

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Love Brene Brown and her findings on the innate human desires. This book is a journey of 10 guideposts with authentic examples of living/not living the Wholehearted Life. It is information supported by the research and life experience from the lady who scientifically studies, interviews, lives and breathes these human condition questions. This info allows us to discover through reflection what is best in our own lives to living wholeheartedly.

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This fictional story portrays a futuristic AI (artificial intelligence) who observes and learns from human interactions, decisions, and physical reactions. Klara‘s journey from a store to home brings her deep insights to the human race which transfer time & cultural boundaries. Her abilities like showing affection and disappointment, being supportive, and compassionate are at the heart of Klara‘s learned skills and are extraordinarily relatable.

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A unique topic of a family that meets adversity through death and mental illness featuring a mother and son wading through the aftermath of Kenji‘s death. Also, The reader is able to take the perspective and know the thoughts and feelings of inanimate objects including books. The universal theme of seeking love & acceptance is pervasive and describes a journey of mentally ill person as they live through real and relatable issues.

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This Tender Land: A Novel | William Kent Krueger
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A wonderfully written story about a band of vagabond children bonded through escape from a quasi school/orphanage who travel a River. The 4 are bonded through loyalty, love, and painful experiences. The characters and writing transport and push the reader to suspend reality as we cheer on he children through adventures, complex emotions and even to break laws be free.

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Lincoln Highway | Amor Towles
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The multi POV that allows the reader key insight into every character. At times the plot moves fluidly or jumps forward and back Revealing just enough to uncover interesting character facts at the perfect moments. Age is secondary but a surprising background character juxtaposed to the drama that unfolds when each character unveils the perfect trait to match the moment.

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A Little Hope: A Novel | Ethan Joella
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A Fri night in Jan

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Will | Will Smith
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This vulnerable and unique journey from the streets of Philly to stardom is a reflection on standard life lessons and his personal reactions. As a reader we get to reminisce or be introduced to his iconic talent in music, tv, & movies. The audiobook provides clips of actual music and dialogue along with Will‘s famous quick whit, timing, and timber.