Adult Book Reviews

Book Review: Fatal Flaws
Hanegraass, Hank
2 stars = Meh

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Jane
Book Review: A Discovery of Witches
Harkness, Deborah
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

A friend came to the library looking for the third book in this trilogy. It doesn't come out until July 15, 2014. She told me that she really liked the series. I checked out A Discovery of Witches not knowing what to expect, but I love it! It's very well-written and the 579 pages read quickly. I don't want to spoil the plot for you, but there are witches, vampires and demons, lots of interesting history and a "political" (if you are a witch, demon or vampire) issue that make for a spell-binding story. Can't wait to read the second in the series.

Susan
Book Review: This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection
Burnett, Carol
4 stars = Really Good

I listened to Carol Burnett read this on audio and it was very good. I didn't watch her show as it was before my time, but I liked hearing stories about her life in show business. Thumbs up, especially on audio.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Girls in White Dresses
Close, Jennifer
2 stars = Meh

This was the blandest book I've read in awhile. The characters and situations were so similar and uninteresting that they were basically interchangeable. By the end of the book I couldn't have told you which character did what. Nothing of interest happened in the entire book. The writing was good enough, but man, boring!

vfranklyn
Book Review: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Murakami, Haruki
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Went into it with little expectation and came out of it with my mind completely blown. It left me pondering, wondering what would I do if somehow I was left with such a decision as the main character had to deal with. The narrator speaks from two different points of view, one from his ordinary life in Tokyo and the other from the End of the World. Murakami brilliantly brings it all together with beautiful imagery and such a down to earth voice.

Cassie
Book Review: Hungry
Renn, Crystal
4 stars = Really Good

Crystal Renn's memoir is very powerful. Her description of her battle with anorexia is riveting and her realization that she was killing herself and her decision to become a plus size model was awesome. I love her positive body image. She encouraged me to find my 'set point' and love my body for what it is. Thanks Crystal!

vfranklyn
Book Review: Rock the Kasbah
Loerzel, Marie
4 stars = Really Good

Rock the Kasbah is an entertaining book written by a Colorado Springs local author. Marie and her family lived in Morocco. This book had me laughing out loud more than once. It is personal and touching and brutally honest. I highly recommend it. (p.s. It may not be for the faint of heart)

Jan
Book Review: The Next Best Thing
Weiner, Jennifer
3 stars = Pretty Good

This was a good book. It was unapologetically not great literature, just a fun, better than average example of chick lit. I enjoyed it. There. I admit it. I enjoy chick lit.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Ender's Game
Card, Orson Scott
3 stars = Pretty Good

If you can suffer through the prose, the story is quite fascinating. Scott Card's psychological storyline is very interesting, and the ending was unexpected. It's worth trekking through the poor word choices and mucky muck of what is supposed to be "adult conversation" just to see how it all ends.

Cassie
The Martian
Weir, Andy
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Well, of course, since one of the Mars rovers plays a significant part in the story! Mark Watney is marooned on Mars, the victim of a violent sand storm that sent his astronaut colleagues scrambling back to Earth, convinced that he was dead. Now it's all about survival, getting back home, and not going crazy when the only music available is one of the other astronaut's disco collection! Mark is one resourceful guy - kind of a Macgyver on Mars - and he's pretty good with a one-liner as well. He'll need all his skills, because Mars is a very dangerous place. Most of the book is in the form of log entries and they can be kind of technical. Just go with the flow and enjoy the twists and turns. Weir is obviously very conversant with space jargon and procedures and has produced a really authentic description of what could be a fanciful situation. Here's hoping that someone who reads this will be inspired to actually take us there!

Alan
Book Review: Find Momo
Knapp, Andrew
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

In each beautiful photograph, you can find Momo's sweet little face somewhere, sometimes in an obvious place, and sometimes you have to really search for him! Adorable little book - gorgeous photography as well!

Krista
Book Review: A Little Ray of Sunshine
Rich, Lani Diane
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

If you want just a good book to read that is light, funny, and yet poignant, give this one a try. Loved it!

Krista
Book Review: You Should Have Known
Korelitz, Jean Hanff
3 stars = Pretty Good

This book was not at all what I expected - I was thinking it would be more of a suspense novel. Instead it is about a woman coming to grips with her own hypocrisy as well as a horrific turn of events in her life. The beginning of the book was pretty difficult to get into - I was wondering what the author was setting us up for, but apparently it was just to show the shallowness of Grace's world. I also became frustrated at this apparently intelligent woman's complete lack of intuition (which maybe was the point!) Maybe she did "know" on some level and decided to stick her head in the sand.
As the story moved away from the murder and toward her rebuilding a life for her and her son, I actually started liking it more, surprisingly. 3 1/2 stars.

Krista
Book Review: The House Girl
Conklin, Tara
3 stars = Pretty Good

2 heroines, one a 2004 lawyer and the other a slave in the mid 1800's. The author goes back and forth between the 2 leads, the 2 era's and the life situations seamlessly. this was the author's debut novel.

Trish
Book Review: I Am Malala
Yousafzai, Malala
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

A powerful look at a young girl's fight for education in Pakistan. Malala starts by filling us in on her country's history, from before colonization by the British through the Taliban takeover. All the while she and her father fight for girls' education. It's hard not to despair for her as she is fighting against such great odds, but her positive attitude reminds us that good can overcome evil. She wants every person in the world to be educated. Amen to that!

vfranklyn
Book Review: Hyperbole and a Half
Brosh, Allie
3 stars = Pretty Good

This book is a funny look at a woman's neuroses, with great drawings. I could relate to her constantly feeling like she wanted to trip strangers, throw sand at beachgoers, and otherwise behave inappropriately. It got three stars because while it was funny, it was a bit disjointed as well. Still, worth the quick read.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Detroit: An American Autopsy
LeDuff, Charlie
4 stars = Really Good

I've never enjoyed an obituary so much. Charlie LeDuff sure knows how to cozy up to his readers, even if the tales he's telling are less than happy, quaint musings set in Paradise. An easygoing, narrative style meant I had serious trouble putting this book down. Partially, I'm fascinated by the empty shell that is now the city of Detroit- and I'd much rather hear about it from the bottom, up than vice versa. Real stories from real people put things into a much clearer perspective, while also lending a definite desperation to the tone. Detroit has died, and after ignoring its death throes, we didn't even have the decency to give it a proper funeral.

Charlie is ready to breathe one last breath of life into a city that has been burned down by its own residents no less than three times in history. It's a city that in fact gave birth to the American worker, the American sound, and American progress. It's hard to escape the irony that it's also where all of those things have gone to die.

Evan
The Round House
Erdrich, Louise
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

When I heard about this book it had already won the National Book Award for Fiction. The description immediately intrigued me, and even after only a few pages I was engrossed. Louise Erdrich has rolled out a story so rich in emotion, character development, and place that it is almost impossible to stop thinking about the story after finishing it.

The story begins in 1988, with the attack of a woman living on a North Dakota reservation. The woman's reaction to what has happened to her, combined with the reactions of her husband Bazil and son Joe, bring the action to a deeply emotional place. Narrating the story is adult Joe, looking back at his 13 year old self with complete honesty and rawness. Expertly interwoven with details about Native American and Ojibwe culture and history, the reader feels deeply embedded in the lives of the characters as well as a profound sadness at what has come to pass on the original inhabitants of our great land.

This is not an easy book. There is lust, violence, rape, and sadness. Yet there is also strength, honor, and perseverance. And hope, most important of all.

Evan
In the Kingdom of Men
Barnes, Kim
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

My introduction to this book was through an NPR interview with the author. I really connected with the things she was saying about her life in general, though our early lives were nothing alike. Not only did I know that she would be a prolific writer, and she is- using lyrically beautiful phrases that have an almost heart-wrenching clarity, but her ability as a storyteller is almost unmatched by anything I've read lately.

'In the Kingdom of Men' is a fictional tale that, in some truth, describes the lives of Americans living in Saudi Arabia in the 1960s on the Aramco Oil Company compound, which really did exist. The compound is a 'Little America' of sorts, with everything (and more) that the wives and husbands could need while spending their lives in the desert. Virginia Mae McPhee and her husband Mason have escaped Oklahoma to a new kind of withering heat. Virginia, or Gin, is at first uncomfortable with the level of luxury she is now living in:
houseboys, gardeners, a private car to take them everywhere. Even then, it all comes at a price, and Gin soon finds herself wanting much more than the oppressive life she seems destined to lead. In the land of emirs and oil princes, women are even more invisible than they might have been in America.

There is something more to this story, and plenty of colorful characters, adventure, and action to keep the reader fascinated and fully engrossed in the education of Gin McPhee and land where sand meets sea.

Evan
Book Review: Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Un
Boo, Katherine
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

It has taken several days since finishing 'Behind the Beautiful Forevers' for me to put together what I might like to say about it to others. Before now I've basically just resorted to, "Yeah, you should really read this book."

But, yeah, you should really read this book. Even if you're not like me, and you DON'T try to pick at least ONE book about India every time you pile up your requisite stack from the library, you should still really read this book.

Narrative non-fiction books are some of my favorites, and Katherine Boo does an incredible job of telling a true story that reads like a novel. The action takes place in the slum of Annawadi, one of the many shantytowns or slums in the city of Mumbai, India. Mumbai has one of the highest concentrations of people in the world, and nearly 3/4 of the population lives in poverty. Poverty that is abject beyond anything you would see in the United States. No electricity or running water, and diseases that have long been extinct in other developed countries.

Boo has chosen to chronicle the stories and lives of a few of the slum's inhabitants, and it actually gives the reader a closer look at how a specific group of people have inserted themselves into the global market. In a place where so few have so much, and so many have so little, even trash is a commodity that is bought, sold, and traded. Many of the people of Annawadi scrape out a meager existence on the scraps of plastic and metal that are thrown away and discarded by others. I don't think I'll ever look at trash in the same way.

In summary, an excerpt from the advance praise on the book jacket aptly describes the book like this: "There are books that change the way you feel and see; this is one of them. If we receive the fiery spirit from which it was written, it ought to change much more than that." ~Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

Evan
The Shipping News
Proulx, Annie
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Poor Quoyle. The quiet, miserable hulk of a man has lost his two-timing wife in an accident- leaving him with their two daughters to raise. Joining resources with an estranged aunt, he decides to make a new life in their ancestral homeland of Newfoundland. There, Quoyle and his timid girls find a home amongst the briny townspeople and rediscover what it is to love and be loved.

Slow, deliberate pace gives way to lush descriptions of landscape and characters. Nothing much really 'happens,' per se, but the daily lives and emotions of the characters keep the pages turning. I've heard this was made into a movie, but I can't imagine it could soar to the heights that the book does. Proulx is a master of prose and shapes a town, a landscape, and most importantly- a man- into shards we all find within ourselves.

Evan
The Man in the Rockefeller Suit
Seal, Mark
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Could. not. put. this. down! I literally read it in about 27 hours. I was amazed by the story itself and also by the fact that I don't remember anything about it when it happened (2008). You, too, will be transfixed by the web of lies and false persona this man has been able to weave. It's truly fascinating that he was able to get away with it for so long. If you get as interested as me, there are Youtube videos that show some of the interviews with him after all was said and done.

Evan
Book Review: The Road
McCarthy, Cormac
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Scary and haunting. There were times when I actually had to put this book down because I was so terrified by what had just happened or what I thought was going to. Cormac McCarthy can take a sparse, post-apocalyptic nothingness and turn it into a setting rich with emotion and detail. I find myself still thinking about this story; wondering, hoping...unable to let go of the images it leaves behind.

Evan
Snow White Must Die
Neuhaus, Nele
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Snow White Must Die is an excellent police procedural/mystery. It is by German author, Nele Neuhaus, but the translation is flawless. It doesn't read like a stiffly translated book. If this hadn't been the Manitou Library's book club selection, I probably wouldn't have read it since I don't care for translated books. Snow White Must Die is outstanding and I am looking forward to reading Neuhaus' other books. I don't want to give away the plot, so read it for yourself. It is in hardback and on Overdrive.

Susan
Stardust
Gaiman, Neil
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Beautiful little story, full of fantastic imagery and good feelings.

It revolves around the journey of a young man in search of a fallen star for his love. He travels through the magical land of Faerie and encounters many wonderful, strange and malicious beings. A great book with a happy ending.

Cassie