Adult Book Reviews
"McCann has created a stunning work that sets up a resonance between heart and mind that sustains until the very last word. 'Zoli' is a world filled with music alien and remote - yet ultimately as familiar as a mother's lullaby." -Terry Cooper (from Amazon review) This is one of the best books I have ever read. The writing is so beautiful, it made me cry. McCann hits on truths long forgotten and rarely pondered. It is a story of a Romani writer/singer who became famous, but was alienated from her people for it. It is a beautiful story about love, hope, desire, despair, and redemption. Read it!
A.J. Jacobs sets out on a quest (of sorts) to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. His stated objective was to get more intelligent. Over the course of the year it took him to finish this task he revealed a bit of competition with his father, a very accomplished man. His father had started to read the EB in the 1970s and didn't get past the B volume. There may have been a little one-upsmanship in the quest. Jacobs' book gives you the Cliffs Notes Encyclopedia Britannica along with his observations, an introduction to his family, his job and his attempts to prove he is indeed getting more intelligent as he progresses through the hugh task he set for himself. He enters a crossword puzzle tournament, takes part in a debate with a college debate team, joins Mensa and appears on the television game show Who wants to be a Millionaire. The book is by turns funny, thoughful, touching and educational. There were times I laughed outloud. At the end he draws some life lessons from what he learned, but I really think it was about the journey, not the destination.
This book had me in tears many times. It is such a clear, unclothed picture of the gospel. I loved it, and I think everyone should read it because it speaks of things that resonate with anybody. It's been called a modern-day "Pilgrim's Progress", and I think that sums it up pretty well.
This book is so amazing because it offers a unique view of Zimbabwe's history. Seeing it through the eyes of a British child lets you experience the trials of the country in a more sheltered way. This book was very honest and funny and interesting and sad. I loved it. Also available in Audio Format.
I don't really know why I picked this book up. I'm not particularly interested in Japan or Akita dogs but there was just something that seemed so other worldly about the book. Published in 2008 the book details the life of Morie Sawataishi and his wife Kitako and to a lesser degree their children. To a large degree it explores Morie's relationship with the dogs we now know as Akitas. Morie grew up in the mountainous snow country but Kitako was a pampered daughter of a prosperous Toyko family. She fell for Morie, who had quite good prospects, and was completely taken aback by his decision to move back to the mountains. In the years after World War II life in Japan was hard, in the mountains it was doubly so. Kitako had to learn to cook and clean and get by on very little and with no modern conveniences. Morie was gone much of the time and when he was home he was consumed by his growing passion for snow country dogs. It was a passion that seemed to come out of nowhere, but one that has stayed with him to this day. Akitas were on the brink of extinction after World War II. They had been exterminated for their thick pelts for use in lining the winter gear of soldiers. Morie's quest takes the reader into an old Japan that is largely non-existant today. Old customs, old traditions and things done the way they had been done for centuries. No electricity, no roads, no cars, no trains. Morie helped change all that too with his work as an engineer constructing the first power plant in the area. It's a really fascinating read and a glimpse into a world I would never otherwise have known anything about.
An epic journey, disparate travelers, World War II as the backdrop, a love story, death, birth, cruelty, kindness and a growing awareness of the atrocities that have actually been happening in Germany and it's conquered lands are all part of this compelling novel. The story of a motley group of refugees including a traditional German frau, her daughter and son, a Scottish POW and an escaped Jewish man masquerading as a German soldier make up the core characters in the book but along the way they encounter German soldiers, German citizens, Russian soldiers. They endure cold, hunger, and constant danger. There are many losses along the way and much despair but somehow this story is hopeful and life affirming. Also available in Audio Format (CD) and Large Print.
Many people do not realize that the Godfather movies are actually based on Mario Puzo's book. Most people are familiar with the plot of The Godfather, it is a novel that follows the Corleone family as they live a Mafia life. What many people may not realize is that this book is about people like themselves, dealing with issues of family, love and business, just probably not the family, love and business situations they have experienced. You may think you know the story from watching the movies, but until you read the book, you have no idea how much more complete the story can be. If you are having withdrawal symptoms now that the Sopranos is off the air, I think The Godfather will more than satisfy you. Also available in Audio Format and on DVD.
This is a great effort of singer/songwriter Josh Ritter's first novel. If you've ever listened to his music, the novel is reminiscent of his songwriting. It's quite beautiful, yet very down-to-earth. It is a strange journey of a man named Bright, his horse, and his newborn son who could very possibly be the next saviour of heaven. There are angels, war, love, and vengeance. He keeps you guessing the whole way through.
It may be North Carolina, but it sure ain't Mayberry, in Wiley Cash's powerfully written debut. Instead, we get secrets, snake handlers and tragedy that ripples forward and back in all the character's lives. A great first effort from a writer to watch!
An extraordinary book written about a beautifully illustrated codex that survived over 500 years. A rare book conservator goes to Sarajevo to report on the book and make repairs to it. Within the pages, she finds an insect wing, missing clasps, a drop of salt, a wine stain, and a white hair. Sprinkled throughout the modern story of this woman trying to find out what happened to the book, a love story, and much political intrigue, you are also taken back through the books' history to find out where these clues came from. If you have enjoyed books such as "Girl in Hyacinth Blue" by Susan Vreeland, you will enjoy this book. Also available in Audio Format (CDs) and Large Print.
If you are looking for a fun cozy mystery, this is a great book for you! You will meet a wonderfully spunky aristocrat named Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie who is 34th in line for the throne, but completely broke. She travels to London to find a job, but instead ends up finding a dead body in her bathtub (who is coincidentally trying to take her brothers' ancestral home in Scotland). A fast and hilarious read. Also available in Large Print.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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