Adult Book Reviews

Book Review: To Know Her by Name
Wick, Lori
3 stars = Pretty Good

I am not done yet and that's why I am renewing it, but so far it is pretty good.

Book Review: Unwritten
Martin, Charles
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

While I've enjoyed his other books (Thunder and Rain, When Crickets Cry, The Mountain Between us), this book blew the rest of them away! By far the best book I've read in the last few years, by anyone. Martin shows the depth of emotion, a mystery with a twist at the end, and a bit of romance all rolled into a book you can't wait to finish, then are eager to start all over again!

Book Review: WLI: The War!
Rambeau, Erin
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

I read the first book and it was slow, but the second one was fast and fun! I couldn't put it down. I LOVED it! The new characters are funny and creative. I can't wait for book 3 to come out.

Book Review: Far Far Away `
McNeal, Tom
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

I loved this book from the opening lines! I enjoyed all of the characters, the mystical elements of the green smoke and the legend of the cake, the twists and turns, and especially the voice of Jacob Grimm. Utterly unique, dark, and yet fun.

Book Review: Truth in Advertising
Kenney, John
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Although there were quite a few laugh-out-loud parts of this book, it was the deeply emotional part that I enjoyed, possibly more than the openly humorous bits. Wonderful book, great inside look at the real world of advertising (oh, how I loved the Snugglies meetings), and an honest look at how grief can affect a family.

Book Review: The River Of No Return
Ridgway, Bee
3 stars = Pretty Good

I REALLY wanted to love this story - it has everything I usually enjoy in a book, and I was hoping it would come close to Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. But I couldn't bring myself to care too much about the characters when there was SO much going on. I felt like there wasn't enough of anything to appeal - the love story was somewhat tepid, the time travel portion was not utilized as much as it could have been, the politics were too convoluted.
Not to mention that I was horribly disappointed that the ending was left wide open to presumably include a sequel. I did give it three stars as, even with the above comments, I could not put the thing down. The historical aspects of the book were interesting, and the writing was compelling, in my opinion. I am also very curious what is up with Mr. Mibbs, I think he was one of the most interesting characters in the book.

Book Review: The Time Keeper
Albom, Mitch
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

OK, so I picked up this book expecting a fiction novel about, like, time travel or something. But, instead I got the most amazing book in existence! Though there is some religious reference, I would recommend this book to anyone who loves reading! I recommend this to a more mature, advanced audience because it has a pretty advanced story line, but this is probably the most amazing, touching, cool book I've ever read. I read it in 1 1/2 days, just couldn't put it down! A must-read for everybody.

Book Review: It's a Magical World
Watterson, Bill
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Ah, Calvin and Hobbes. What's not to love? It's the best comic strip ever written, IMO. Timeless and super clever. Calvin and Hobbes occupies a special place in my heart.

Book Review: Wedding Night
Kinsella, Sophie
3 stars = Pretty Good

This was textbook chick lit. It was good fluffy fun. Well written, but definitely not deep. But that's okay, sometimes it's good to read a fun book. I could see this being made into a chick flick with JLo or Sandra Bullock. Cute summer read.

Book Review: Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban
Rowling, J. K.
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

I love love loved this book! I've never read it before, and would recommend it for anyone! My second fave out of the Harry Potter series (first is Order of the Phoenix!)

Book Review: Inferno
Brown, Dan
2 stars = Meh

Dan Brown's latest novel is not up to snuff with his previous work, but still has that great mix of culture, art, and history that Brown fans love. Angels & Demons is the highlight of his work for me, and this novel was not developed in the way I would have hoped. Not a big fan of this one, but it was worth a read. Not one for my bookshelf, since with this novel, Langdon's world becomes far more distanced from ours than in previous novels. I don't feel like Brown did a good job in suspending my disbelief, where in his other Langdon novels, I was pulled right in. So, meh. I think Brown is tired of Langdon.

Book Review: Plain Truth
Picoult, Jodi
2 stars = Meh

Meh. I don't know why I keep reading Jodi Picoult books. The twist endings always annoy me. I liked reading about the Amish, but overall was underwhelmed.

Book Review: Ender's Game
Card, Orson Scott
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

While some may despise this terrific sci-fi novel, I absolutely loved it.
Sure it is a bit mature, but it is really for a understanding audience. I enjoyed the battle games and Ender's resourcefulness. This is perhaps one of the best sci-fi novel I have ever read

Book Review: Inferno
Brown, Dan
4 stars = Really Good

Dan Brown has done it again! In Inferno, he has blended a concoction of cultural history, shadowy power brokers, and cutting-edge apocalyptic science into an intriguing potboiler.

Our hero, Robert Langdon, is tossed headfirst into a violent, shifting conflict between European authorities and a brilliantly mad scientist who is obsessed with Dante's Divine Comedy.

Naturally, said mad scientist is bent on world destruction/domination and the key to stopping him lies in deciphering clues hidden in the medieval masterpiece and the art and architecture of Florence, Italy.

Most readers either love or hate Dan Brown's writing. If you enjoyed his signature style in the Da Vinci Code and his other novels, Inferno will be a great read. If you find a lot of art history and cultural background boring, it might seem like the Seventh Circle of Hell. The addition of some thought-provoking scientific threats that reminded me of Michael Crichton were a definite plus for me.

All in all, a worthwhile addition to the series, even though Langdon fails to save the world! Or does he? Hmmm.

Book Review: The Greater Good
Mitchell, Sandy
4 stars = Really Good

As my first Ciaphas Cain novel, I was really impressed. This book will show new readers what the universe of the year 40,000 is like. The main plot has the imperial navy and the main character, Commisar Cain, fighting to drive off the hive fleets of the tyranid invasion.

Book Review: Ender's Game
Card, Orson Scott
1 star = Yuck!

I despised this book. Although I respect Card's mastery in the sci-fi genre, this was not one of his wonder-books. He failed to capture the personality of the childrens' ages, and parts of it were beyond gruesome, especially after you realized it was a 6-11 year old participating in those actions. The time-frame was speedy; the child went from 6 to eleven years old within 100 pages. Also, the Locke and Demosthenes part was plain confusing. Not a fan.

Book Review: The Longest Way Home: One Man's Quest for the Courage to Settle Dow
McCarthy, Andrew
2 stars = Meh

This book was okay. There was quite a bit of navel-gazing going on. But there was also the occasional interesting bit. Meh.

Book Review: White Butterfly
Mosley, Walter
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Walter Mosley knows how to tell a story like no one else. He captures life in the fifties in Southern California for black folks in Watts and surrounding areas shortly after WW1. Boy Oh Boy...His books are actually stories told to him by his father when he was a young man growing up in that era. Humor and suspense await anyone who has the pleasure to pick up any of his well written books.....

Book Review: I Suck at Girls
Halpern, Justin
4 stars = Really Good

This book is very clever, funny, and sweet. The author talks about his misadventures with girls in a very self-deprecating manner. His father even makes a showing in the book, to hilarious effect. Thumbs up!

Book Review: Halfway Home
Sheldon, Mary
4 stars = Really Good

This is an awesome book! I found myself laughing out loud and just couldn't put it down. Ms. Sheldon's style of writing is one that will get you caught up in the lives of mothers and daughters everywhere. Highly recommend for a great read.

Book Review: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel
Joyce, Rachel
3 stars = Pretty Good

Setting: Modern day, southern coast of England. Quite unexpectedly, after twenty years, Harold Fry receives a letter from Queenie Hennessy (a former co-worker), who informs him that she is dying of inoperable cancer and is in hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed, located in northern England. He writes her a note and sets off to post it. Along the way he meets a young woman who tells him that knowing someone cares can mean all the difference to a person with cancer. Harold hadn't known he would walk the 600 miles to Queenie, but after that short conversation, he phones the hospice (he has left his mobile phone at home) to tell Queenie to "hold on. I'm walking to you." He just kept walking, buying her souvenirs and sending his wife postcards along the way. He endures blisters, hunger, sleeping outside, and publicity-seekers. As he walks, he remembers his parents, his job, his wife and his absent son. And his wife remembers him. It's a simple story, but also extraordinary.

Book Review: A Free People's Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Futur
Guinness, Os
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

America's Suicide?

Suicide as a personal or a social phenomenon is never a comfortable conversation, as tragedy seldom is. When presented on the level of civilization itself, suicide is a challenging subject indeed, particularly when it is your own society at stake. Yet, in his 2012 volume "A Free People's Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future," this is precisely what Os Guinness invites us - even commands us - as Americans, to think hard on. It is a penetrating read. It is a vital read.
As an Irish descendant of a certain beer magnate and as a self-described "resident alien" in the U. S. A., Guinness brings to his argument the presumed objective detachment of a third party looking in at America. He holds a doctorate in philosophy from Oxford, is widely published in American social studies, is founder of the Trinity Forum and past member of the Brookings Institute and Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies. He is a dedicated and very empathetic observer of the contemporary American scene and is highly informed of the trajectory of American history, the foundations of our political success as an independent nation, our internal struggles to maintain our freedoms and suggests what we might do to halt our suicidal plunge into incoherence.
Guinness comes armed with the full panoply of some 200 of history's observers and participants in the rise and fall of societies, from Thucydides, Sophocles and Xenophon among the ancients, through the Revolutionaries of Voltaire, Montesquieu, Jefferson, Madison and Adams to the moderns of Keynes, Weber and Wilson. All of this collective "wisdom of the ages" testifies to the hard fact that every civilization known to history has disappeared. While foreign invasions have precipitated many of these social catastrophes, Guinness insists with volumes of evidence that it is the internal decay of societies that universally explains their devolution. It is not the "wolves at the door" that today threaten our survival, but the "termites within" that will inevitably do the job.
The footnotes should not scare off the American reader. The inevitable conclusion should. Guinness' journalistic style is aimed at the concerned citizen, not the PhD.
Guinness first establishes his baseline for understanding the current American condition with a review of the American Founding, the forceful riddance of external control begun in 1776. This was the revolutionary startup of 1776, the first stage of the three-phased cycle of freedom. The second phase was the creation of ordered freedom manifested by the constitutional structure that provided the perimeter fence against any future government tyranny and the internal "checks and balances" to prevent internal anarchy. Here the Founders combined the negative freedom from excessive government intrusion and the equally important positive freedom to believe in what we will and to act on those beliefs. This was history's first attempt at structuring a society from scratch on specific ideas and tenets. This took time, as the Constitution was only ratified in 1787 together with the original Bill of Rights. This Constitution was a "covenant" among freely consenting partners as much as it was a document, a "covenant" that manifested the Founders' understanding of how "freedom" was to be defined and commonly understood.
The third phase of Guinness' freedom is the sustaining of freedom. This has become the critical phase, a continuing one over the decades and is the principle theme of "A Free Peoples' Suicide." Simply put, Guinness pictures an American society that has disintegrated to a level of incoherence and spends most of his pages explaining why. Pick your metaphor: a physician attempting to heal his living patient; a coroner dissecting a carcass looking for clues of the cause of death. The reader might suppose that Guinness himself is unsure which one he represents.
"Freedom" alone, Guinness claims, is not an ultimate value. It is a vacuum into which we import values. Freedom is an identifiable structure, a "golden triangle" consisting of three equilateral corners, freedom, virtue and faith. Removing any one corner and the structure falls to the ground.
The virtue he proclaims is that of "personal restraint," the consensus among mature citizens that there are essential norms of behavior that can be agreed upon. This was the Jeffersonian notion of "reason" and "sentiment,"
the "aristocracy of virtue" of John Adams and de Tocqueville's "habits of the heart" that together enabled citizens to govern themselves rather than be subjected to the destructive dependancies of "monarchy" and an all-consuming government.
The faith that Guinness proclaims is one essential source of that virtue, an interdependency that results in "morality" itself. This is the Christian/Judeo faith that acknowledges something superior to the individual, something that offers guidelines of behavior that all citizens can agree on voluntarily without government dictat. The loss of this faith in the "invisible" unhappily is the "completest revolution" of the American experience since we also have no faith in anything "visible."
The challenge to the reader of "A Free Peoples' Suicide" is whether to continue with Guinness' excruciating depiction of the collapse of that "golden triangle," of American society itself, or to retreat ignominiously under his security blanket of "I can have it all" at the hands of beneficent and ever-expanding government.

Book Review: Assholes: A Theory
James, Aaron
4 stars = Really Good

If language doesn't offend you, this is one of the more thought-out, funny and smart books about certain members of our society. While reading, it seems more like entertainment, but you catch yourself noticing patterns in reality that apply. It's both fun and educational!

Book Review: Rant
Palahniuk, Chuck
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This is one of Chuck Palahniuk's best novels. It's everything you love about any of his other books, but it's nothing you'd expect. It's written in an interview-esque style, detailing the life of Buster "Rant" Casey, one of the most notorious and mysterious serial killers. It's funny, it's shocking, it's utterly mind-blowing. One of those novels you'd hate to ever put down.

Book Review: Heaven is for Real
Burpo, Todd
4 stars = Really Good