Adult Book Reviews

Book Review: Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears
Chödrön, Pema.
4 stars = Really Good

This great, little book is packed with transformative insight. With the author's lighthearted, down to earth style, she encourages us to take a bold leap toward a new, positive way of living in a troubled world.

Chris
Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Chbosky, Stephen
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

A fantastic read for teens and adults. It's written as letters to an anonymous reader, by a boy who is learning all about life. The boy, Charlie, is shy and emotional and just entering high school, when he meets two people that change his life. It's a great perspective and a very touching story. I recommend reading it before watching the movie!

Cassie
Switching Time: A Doctor's Harrowing Story Of Treating A Woman With 17 Personal
Baer, Richard K.
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

A fascinating look into the mind of a woman with multiple personality disorder. The difference is that this book is written through the eyes of the psychiatrist, Dr. Richard Baer. He worked with Karen Overhill for many years to meld her seventeen distinct personalities back into one. He includes snippets of letters that each of the personalities wrote, as well as a drawing that one of them made with portraits of each personality. The story of how each of the personalities came into being is heartbreaking, and when Karen reveals the extent of the abuse that she suffered at the hands of her father and grandfather and their friends, the stories are chilling. If you are fascinated by psychology and the way that the mind works, this book is a must read.

Krista
Pretty Birds: A Novel
Simon, Scott
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

A starkly compelling book with a memorable teenage protaganist, Irena, a very modern non-traditional Muslim girl. She loves Madonna, western fashion and basketball. In fact, she's a star on her high school basketball team. Until the spring of 1992 when the Serbian army brutalizes Muslims in Sarajevo and Irena, her parents and her pet bird must flee across the river to relative safety. Life becomes quite tenuous and dangerous. Irena steals to survive until a chance meeting leads her to a job. Eventually she is recruited to be a sniper. This is not an easy book to read but the author is a journalist who covered the civil war and writes with some authority on the subject. Also available in Audio Format.

Debbie
A Voyage Long And Strange: Rediscovering The New World
Horwitz, Tony
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

So you think you remember what you learned about the discovery of the new world and the people who got here first. From the Vikings in the far north to the Spanish in the Caribbean. You'll travel with the author as he retraces (to the best of his ability & the information from old journals and other records) the journey of these men in the new world. Along the way he not only discovers these early explorers and native Americans but some very interesting contemporary Americans. This is history at it's best. Entertaining and educational. Also available in Large Print and Audio Format (CD).

Debbie
Keep Your Mouth Shut And Wear Beige
Seidel, Kathleen Gilles
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This is a beautiful, funny and touching book about a woman going through the wedding preparations of her eldest son. Complicating matters include her future in-laws, her recent diagnosis of adult ADD, her floundering youngest son, and most of all, her ex-husband's new girlfriend, who decides that she will take over the mother of the groom role. I thought this book was very enjoyable. Also available in Large Print.

Krista
Book Review: The Tenderness of Wolves
Penney, Stef
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

The author of this debut novel set in 1860s northern Ontario Canada is from Scotland. She has never been to Canada but so credibly evokes the icy cold desolate landscape that many very familiar with the area could not believe she had not been there. The novel is a mystery, suspense, poignant love story, historical fiction character filled wonder. A murder sets the story in motion and sends several of the characters on long arduous treks through the wilderness in winter. They endure snow, wind, freezing temperatures, wolves, bogs and blistered feet. Numerous characters including native Indians, Hudson Bay Company men, settlers and trappers and all their story lines converge in the end without seeming forced or rushed. The book won the prestigious Costa Award for first novels.

Debbie
Book Review: Matrimony
Henkin, Joshua
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Interesting characters! A novel with a beginning, middle, and satisfying ending. Matrimony starts when the characters begin their freshman year at a small college in Massachusetts, but this is not a party-hearty college kids story. The characters grow and Henkin keeps introducing new information about their past that contributes to the progress of the plot rather than making the reader feel like he/she is lost in a time warp. The irony of the plot is that the main character is a writer who is writing a novel...

Linda F-J
Book Review: Three Bags Full
Swann, Leonie
4 stars = Really Good

A very unusual crime mystery! Takes place in Ireland. A flock of sheep find their shepherd murdered and go about solving the crime. Very funny at times, poignant, and surprisingly suspenseful. Lots of red herrings. You have to think like a sheep to read this book. Also available in Large Print.

Leslie
Book Review: A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana
Kimmel, Haven
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

I've been very lucky recently to have found quite a few very good books. This book is no exception. It is very well written. I loved Zippy's voice and the way the author manages to convey the thoughts of a child believably.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Little Children
Perrotta, Tom
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

I loved this book. I thought it was really well written and paced. I grew attached to the characters and found in each one flaws that were sympathetic. I was satisfied with the ending, even. I saw the movie and really enjoyed it as well. Also available in Audio Format and as a DVD.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Infidel
Hirsi Ali, Ayaan
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This book is amazing. The author has a powerful voice and through all the events in her life she remains humble. Ali is a very brave woman who is not afraid to speak her mind. Some of the things she went through were so profoundly disturbing that I had a hard time continuing to read (especially while eating). I loved her strength and willingness to question and examine every aspect of her life.

vfranklyn
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
Myron, Vicki
4 stars = Really Good

This is an absolutely beautiful story of a small kitten who was left in a book-drop on a freezing morning of the Spencer Public Library, and ended up becoming not only the library mascot, but a source of pride for the small town. Dewey's personality shines through in this touching memoir written by the former library director. Not only do you learn about Dewey, you also get a peek into the history of the small farming town of Spencer, Iowa. Also available in Large Print.

Krista
My Father's Paradise : A Son's Search For His Jewish Past In Kurdish Iraq
Sabar, Ariel
4 stars = Really Good

I'm not sure why I picked this book up, but I'm really glad I did. The subject matter; a man's life long commitment to documenting a quickly disappearing language; might not sound interesting but it is! There is so much more to the story of Yona Sabar. The diaspora of the Kurdish Jewish population was the opposite of what we commonly understand. Instead of being sent out of the Jewish state they were removed to the Jewish state. The transition was difficult in many ways including economic, cultural and socially. But for a 12 year old boy in 1951 who loved his home in Zakho where he fit into a larger community of Jews, Muslims and Christians it was especially difficult. The transition to Israel was even more difficult for his parents. He eventually found his place; they never really did. The relocation paved the way for his move to America where he built a successful life. His son, Ariel, was typical of children born to immigrants. He was embarrased by his father and didn't understand his ways at all. Through a long struggle with many ups and downs the man and his son build a strong relationship. They travel back to Zakho together and to Israel. These trips provided a basis for understanding that finally helped the son understand his father and his bigger family. A very human story and pertinent now with the immigration issues facing America.

Debbie
Book Review: Alone Together
Turkle, Sherry
4 stars = Really Good

If you’ve ever found yourself spending “quality time” with your family or friends while you check your email on your iPhone, your teen checks Facebook on her iPad, and your friend reads the news on his Android, this book may give you something to think about. As the digital age sparks increasing debate about what new technologies and increased connectivity are doing to our brains, comes this thought provoking examination of what our iPods and iPads are doing to our relationships. In this third in a trilogy that explores the relationship between humans and technology, Turkle argues that people are increasingly functioning without face-to-face contact. She interviewed high school students, computer programmers, young professionals, and people of the pre-Internet generation asking them about their use of technology and its effect on their lives. For all the talk of convenience and connection derived from texting, e-mailing, and social networking, Turkle found dissatisfaction and alienation among users: teenagers whose identities are shaped not by self-exploration but by how they are perceived by the online collective, mothers who feel texting makes communicating with their children more frequent yet less substantive, Facebook users who feel shallow status updates devalue the true intimacies of friendships. Turkle's book makes a strong case that what was meant to be a way to facilitate communications has pushed people closer to their machines and further away from each other.

Chris
book cover for The Fault in Our Stars
Green, John
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Great book! The story is about a girl named Hazel who has cancer and she meets a guy named Augustus in a support group. It's a sad story in a way, but it's also story about love and hope. I really liked this book! Keep a box of tissues handy!

Sandy
Ventures 2
Bitterlin, Gretchen
3 stars = Pretty Good

The book id very good and helped me alto.

Mi Y.
A Grown-Up Kind Of Pretty
Jackson, Joshilyn
4 stars = Really Good

Every 15 years, major issues crop up in the lives of the Slocumb women. The author writes from three points of view, highlighting the trials and tribulations of three different generations of women as they overcome life obstacles.

Casey
World War Z: An Oral History Of The Zombie War
Brooks, Max
4 stars = Really Good

Just so we're clear on this, zombies totally freak me out. I do read a considerable amount of horror and suspense fiction, but there is something about zombies that just push me into panic (I cannot handle "The Walking Dead"). That being said, this book kept the gross-out factor (the one that gives me the willies whenever I see TWD featured on Sci-Fi magazine) to a minimum, and focused on the world impact, and the human element. This book was about the survivors, how humanity managed to make it through. I really enjoyed it.

Shannon
Fractured
Slaughter, Karin
4 stars = Really Good

I was looking for a suspense book to read and I was drawn to Karin Slaughter. I was engrossed right away into the story of a murder at the home of a wealthy couple. I was also drawn to Will Trent and how good of a detective he is, despite having dyslexia. I plan on reading the rest of the series. I really want to know how Will develops over time. A great suspense/mystery book that is character driven!

Melissa
Book Review: Kushiel's Dart
Carey, Jacqueline
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This is a fantastic debut by one of the best authors around today. Her use of language is fantastic, and the end makes you want to run right out and pick up the second book-regardless of the fact that the first one is over 900 pages!! I devoured this series, and have now read everything that this author has ever put out. I've not been disappointed by her yet, though this trilogy is still my favorite of all her works.

Kimberly
The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes And How We Can Do Better
Ripley, Amanda
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

The Unthinkable, by Amanda Ripley, is one of the All Pikes Peak Reads books based on a survival theme. The author examines disasters from 9/11 to Katrina to lesser known events, and attempts to analyze who survives and why. This is fascinating stuff! I couldn't put it down. Though it's painful to revisit such events, the psychology of those who made it through, as well as the responses of many victims, first-responders, and eye witnesses is stunning. Of course, the inevitable thought process that occurs is "How would I respond in such an unthinkable situation?" No one knows for sure, but it's a mesmerizing scenario to consider.

Marie
The Tortilla Curtain
Boyle, T. Coraghessan
4 stars = Really Good

Although this isn't a "new" book it's still current today. It contrasts an immigrant family that lives in a canyon ditch to a rich American family.

T.C. Boyle really did a great job of showing both sides of the story. I had to read the last couple of pages a few times ... I just couldn't believe how it ended. I highly recommend it!

Jan
Winter Of The World
Follett, Ken
3 stars = Pretty Good

Winter of the World is the second of three volumes in Ken Follett's fictional history of the twentieth century. The story begins in 1933 and ends in 1949, and traces the interlocking story of people from Britain, Germany, the United States, and the Soviet Union. As is often the case with Follett's novels, the villains are almost all irredemably bad and the heroes make poor choices but never abandon virtue. Eventually there is a (more or less) happy ending.

Given the years it covers, you won't be surprised to know that the Nazis and World War II feature prominently in the book. Follett does attempt to explain how Hitler and his gang were able to take over a modern comopolitan country like Germany and how both Hitler and Stalin clamped down ruthless tyrannies on their unfortunate peoples. He also concentrates on the spies who tried to resist the Nazis, often recruited by and working on behalf of the Soviets, disguised as the brotherhood of all mankind.

There is a large cast of characters, so large I had to keep referring to the cheat sheet at the front of the book to remember who is who. also, although the novel stretches around the planet, the characters keep meeting each other in ways that really strain a person's sense of disbelief after awhile.
Finally, even though the book is more than 900 pages long, there is a feeling it was edited from an even longer manuscript by removing all the adjectives and adverbs.

Follett has a reputation for including a sizzling sex scene in each of his novels, but there was really nothing too hot here.

If you have a grounding in the history of the period and enjoy this kind of panoramic novel, go ahead and borrow a copy. Otherwise, let it sit on a library shelf.

Peter
Book Review: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Brontë, Anne
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Anne seems to be the Bronte that time forgot and I can't imagine why. This novel is absolutely stunning from start to finish. The heroine is a newcomer to this small hamlet and keeps herself and her son very isolated to the annoyance of the townsfolk. A young landowner named Gilbert Markham, however, takes a liking to her. She doesn't fall in a faint at his feet which he finds unusual plus there's an air of secrecy about her that appeals to him. The more he gets to know her, the more he genuinely appreciates her grace and her upstanding character. Little does he know she has a secret more terrible than he could ever imagine. This book is gothic literature like all of the Brontes and deals with some heavy issues like spousal abuse. That would have been an amazing topic for the time in which it was written. Plus, I enjoy that most of the book is from the hero's perspective, a rare viewpoint from the female authors of that time. I literally gulped it down. I just couldn't stop reading. Before I read the book I loved the miniseries but now I realize that miniseries simply does not do Anne Bronte's marvelous work any justice at all. The book is a gem.

Carissa