All Book Reviews

Condie, Allyson Braithwaite
4 stars = Really Good

Going into this book, I expected a typical teenage romance novel. However, Allyson Condie delivers here on a much deeper level. Set in the "Society"--a future utopian community similar to the one from Lois Lowry's "The Giver"--it follows the story of a 17-year-old young woman named Cassia Reyes. Cassia's character development is well-paced and multi-layered. The numerous instances of symbolism throughout the novel reflect Cassia's growing awareness of herself and of the unsettling underpinnings of the Society she has always known. As a welcome surprise, Condie transforms the all-too-typical overt teenage love triangle romance plot thread into a refreshingly subtle choice between not just two young men, but two different ideologies. Another of Condie's refreshing changes to the genre: the Society and Cassia's role in it take the forefront here, so those who aren't fans of romantic plotlines will find plenty to enjoy! The addition of some excellent classic poetry doesn't hurt this novel either. Overall, this book is fast-paced, enjoyable, and much more complex than it first seems. I am looking forward to the next installment!

Monty
Woodrell, Daniel
3 stars = Pretty Good

I loved the way that Daniel Woodrell puts words together, his writing is so lyrical! That said, I had a hard time getting through this very slim book with the jumps in time and the amazingly large cast of characters. The story would have been a bit more enjoyable to me had it been linear, and without quite so many side stories of this small town.

Krista
Gaynor, Hazel
4 stars = Really Good

Wavered between 3 1/2 and 4 stars on this one. I actually liked the end very much, and didn't know it was based on a true story, which made it much more poignant. I have read TONS of books about the Titanic over the years, both fiction and nonfiction, and this is one of the better novels, in my opinion.

Krista
Gilman, Susan Jane
4 stars = Really Good

I expected kind of a "fluff" book based on the cover, but this was anything but. For one, we go through the entire span of Lillian's life, from her and her family coming over from Russia when she was a child, up through her 70s. I do have to say I loved the main character - she was a tough woman! She was flawed, she was very stubborn, she drank too much and was incredibly angry at the world and suspicious of everyone (understandable when you read what she went through). But for all of that, I actually really liked her! I thought it would take me forever to get through this thick book, but I actually flew through it - I couldn't wait to see what she would come up with next!

Krista
McNeil, Gil
4 stars = Really Good

Gil McNeil has a way of creating characters that make you want to climb in their world and be their friends. I loved this kooky cast of characters, and enjoyed spending time with them! If you like this book, give her other book a try: The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club.

Krista
Heller, Peter
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Is Jim Stegner an artist with a violent streak? Or just a violent ex-con with a talent for art? In his second novel, Peter Heller explores this intriguing question with prose both lyrical and muscular. Stegner, a Santa Fe painter with a stint in prison for assault is struggling with deeply embedded grief over the murder of his daughter, Alce. In an attempt to assuage this grief, he flees the New Mexico art scene for a remote cabin in Paonia Colorado where he can paint and also indulge his passion for fly-fishing. Unfortunately, fishing leads him to a situation that explodes in violence that will cause him to question who he is and what he believes. Heller has created a memorable character and, with the first person narrative, never lets the reader lose sight of Stegner's humanity - even when he's engaged in activities more suited to the lawless Old West than the current civilized scene. A great sense of place (I grew up in Paonia, so I should know), and fascinating descriptions of the artistic process and the Santa Fe art world are added bonuses. This is literary writing with a capital L, but also a great suspenseful page-turner. My pick for next year's APPR book!

Alan
Green, John
2 stars = Meh

This book came highly recommended to me by almost everyone who'd read it. I am a bit skeptical of any popular book, but I gave it a go, and that wasn't a great decision on my part. I found the characters to be not very relatable, with their sophisticated speech (minus the very excessive cussing) and incredibly deep intellectual processes. Now, I understand that the book is supposed to be deep, and make readers think about such issues as life, love, and death, but the author's perspective is so hopeless that it's hard to even think about. As a Christian, I believe that there is an eternity after death for every person, and one single choice in their lives determines whether it is an eternity of life or death. In this book, Hazel believes that after death is simply oblivion. What a hopeless way to live! I cannot appreciate a tragic story that doesn't have a redeeming factor.

Tragedy aside, I found the entire love affair sappy and stupid. Gus is the "perfect" boyfriend, and the whole "I don't want to get in a relationship with you because I don't want to hurt you" is so cliche. And why did they have to have sex? I am finding that too many books have pointless sex scenes that don't do anything to further the plot or the audience's connection to the characters. This was another such story.

Despite these very major, debilitating faults, the book was thought-provoking. However, this is one of the last books I would ever recommend someone read.

defenderofgrace
Book Review: How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous
Bragg, Georgia
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This book is hilarious, clever, disgusting, educational, and all-around awesome! I read it during my lunch break at work which I don't recommend as the content is really gross. But seriously, read this awesome disgusting book!

vfranklyn
Book Review: Dress Your Best
Kelly, Clinton and London, Stacy
4 stars = Really Good

This was more of a 3.5 stars. It was very enlightening, but the clothes choices were pretty much way too dressy for my situation. I mean, a blazer for weekend wear? I live in Colorado. Jeans are the norm. But there was welcome advice on fit for my body type.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Daring Greatly
Brown, Brené
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Dr. Brown recounts both her journey through research and the results that she found to bring our daily lives into "wholehearted" lives. Excellent writing that allows the reader to follow her very human journey.

C. Nath
Book Review: The Truth About Style
London, Stacy
3 stars = Pretty Good

I'm not sure I got a lot out of this book. I did like that it had a list of stores in the back of the book that specialize in specific needs. I also liked Stacy's voice. It was warm and honest. It seemed like this book was aimed at city dwellers, which is fine. My style needs aren't that, though. Oh well, I'm still going to read her other book.

vfranklyn
Book Review: The Chosen
Potok, Chaim
2 stars = Meh

This was an interesting book if you like novels or fiction or historical fiction. It talks a lot of the Jewish religion which made it very confusing unless you know a lot about the Jewish. I had to read this book for school but I did not think it was horrible. It was just very boring and slow.
Read this book if you like fiction/ novels/ the Jewish religion.

Caitlyn
Book Review: The Hunger Games
Collins, Suzanne
2 stars = Meh

I did not think that this book was amazing like it is portrayed normally. It was very boring and seemed to make the government a bad thing like many other books do which made it more normal of a teen fiction book. It didn't really have any unexpected twists or changes and was just very boring in general.

Caitlyn
Book Review: Hollow City
Riggs, Ransom
4 stars = Really Good

The story of Miss Peregrine's children just keeps getting better! I enjoyed the first book, but Hollow City, in my opinion, was a more finely tuned and intense story. So many beautiful and unusual images, and I love how the characters continue to grow and reveal hidden aspects of themselves. I can't wait until the final book come out!

Cassie
Book Review: Let the Right One In
Ajvide Lindqvist, John
4 stars = Really Good

Though, it was a very rare situation that I actually preferred the film to the novel, this horror story was very well written and kept my interest the whole way through. Oskar is a 13 year old boy with very few friends and broken home. When along comes the mysterious Eli, who says she's been 13 years old for a very long time. It's unexpectedly touching, terrifying, and psychologically fascinating. I feel that it could've done with fewer chapters, however, focused more on the the primary characters.

Cassie
Book Review: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Gian
Gladwell, Malcolm
4 stars = Really Good

This book was very good. I learned a lot about the mindset and behaviors of the underdog and the necessity of power to promote legitimacy. My favorite part was about the Civil Rights movement and how the leaders used their underdog situation to it's full advantage. So interesting! However, the book ended very abruptly. I would have loved to have seen one more chapter that summed everything up. Oh well.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Crown of Midnight
Maas, Sarah
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This book was one of those rare occurrences when the sequel is way better than the first. I almost didn't read the sequel because they first book was pretty disappointing, but boy am I glad I did. This book is so fast paced that I couldn't put it down. Every page seemed to hold a new surprise and plot twist. It was stuffed with surprises without being overdone and the ending left me panting for the next installment.

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

na

Jane
Book Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Kinney, Jeff
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

diary of a wimpy kid

Matthew
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: Love and Other Four-Letter Words
Mackler, Carolyn
3 stars = Pretty Good

The thing about teen books, especially 'chick-lit' style books, is they all seem to run together. As I was reading this book, I realized that somewhere in my hazy pre-baby past, I'd already read this book. I could just barely remember it. It was like having deja vu while reading. But still it was good, even for the second time around.

vfranklyn
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: The City Of Ember
DuPrau, Jeanne
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Tis' book is truly amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jasper
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