All Book Reviews

Book Review: At Least You're in Tuscany: A Somewhat Disastrous Quest for the Swe
Criswell, Jennifer
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Stumbled across this title through Goodreads, and I am so glad I did!
The author gives and honest, sometimes sad, sometimes hilarious view of her experiences moving to Italy rather impulsively. I didn't realize she had a blog, now I'm going to go through the photos to match faces with people I feel I've met through her book! Highly recommend.

Krista
Book Review: The Angel Makers
Gregson, Jessica
2 stars = Meh

I would start this novel and read a few chapters, then lay it down for a day or so, then pick it back up and have no idea what the book was about. The beginning doesn't grip at all. It gets better towards the middle. I'm not sure why I kept reading it, to be honest. The storyline is interesting, but the writing is disconnected.

vfranklyn
Letter to my Daughter
Angelou, Maya
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This book is a compilation of essays on a variety of subjects. Thought provoking and beautiful, I highly recommend this quick read. I especially appreciated Angelou's observation that instead of "you can't go home again", it's more accurate to say you can't ever leave home, meaning your first home, where you grew up. I find this to be very true as I often think of where I grew up and the friends I had there as a child. Thankfully, I'm able to keep in touch with the most dear of them on Facebook.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Elizabeth is Missing
Healey, Emma
3 stars = Pretty Good

Loved the concept of the book, it showed the confusion, frustration, and fear that comes with diminishing memory. I liked the switching back and forth between the past and present and how they started getting blurred. It's just the ending I had a problem with - I don't think it lived up to the rest of the book.

Krista
Book Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Walton, Leslye J.
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Umm. Wow. This was an amazing book - it was weird, and beautiful, and horrible all at the same time. Reminded me somewhat of Far Far Away as it was like the original versions of fairy tales, dark and disturbing, but awe-inspiring at the same time. I had to keep reminding myself that this is cataloged as a teen book - I think adults would love it and appreciate the writing as well. Anyone who argues that YA novels are not sophisticated or that they are written at a lower level should pick up a copy of this book. Fantastic.

Krista
Book Review: All The Light We Cannot See
Doerr, Anthony
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Lyrical and beautiful and an absolutely stunning book. I couldn't put it down!

Krista
Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars
Green, John
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

The best book I have ever read!

Samantha
Book Review: The Bear
Cameron, Claire
3 stars = Pretty Good

When 2 young children have to survive after a bear attacks and kills their parents you wonder if this could really happen. How long could they survive and how the whole experience will effect the rest of their lives.

Jennie
Book Review: Alias Grace
Atwood, Margaret
4 stars = Really Good

I really enjoyed this masterful work of historical fiction. Atwood did a great job researching the historical accuracy of her characters and admits when she was led to "invent" to fill in the blanks. Her creative use of imagery leaves you stunned, amused, thrilled, and pleased. I really enjoyed this novel.

Donna
Book Review: Radiance
Noël, Alyson
4 stars = Really Good

Loved this series about a preteen ghost who wants to grow up so badly and finds her path after alot of adventures. Have to order the set for my school--it will be very popular with the girls!

Lorna
Book Review: Merle's Door
Kerasote, Ted
4 stars = Really Good

I love dog books, and stumbled on this one while looking for ebooks. What a wonderful book, written by a man who obviously loved his dog-friend. Reading it felt like I was with them on their adventures! However, make sure you have tissues handy!

Lorna
Book Review: The Invention of Wings
Kidd, Sue Monk
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This is a book that captures you immediately and you can't put it down. I loved this book. I truly cared about the 2 main characters, one of whom is based on abolitionist and suffragette Sarah Grimke.

Trish
Book Review: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Angelou, Maya
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

I find that sometimes I give 5 stars to what are clearly very good books, but then something like 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings' comes along and I realize that there are very few books I've read that are as important and wonderful as this one. I wish I could give it more than 5 stars. Maya's voice is beautiful, honest, and so very observant and wise. I recommend this book to everyone in the world, period.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Matched
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
Book Review: The Maid's Version
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
Book Review: The Girl Who Came Home : A Novel of the Titanic
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
Book Review: What She Left Behind
Wiseman, Ellen Marie
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Wow. This is easily one of my favorite books of the year so far. I highly enjoy books with dual storylines, but sometimes one story is much, much stronger than the other. I actually think these two stories of girls close to the same age but in very different time periods could have each stood fantastically on their own, and work even better together. Clara's story of being forcibly committed due to her falling in love with the "wrong" type of man was heartbreaking, and the look inside the psychiatric asylum of the early 1900s was truly painful. The author mentioned that the story came together after hearing about the Willard Suitcase Exhibit, and there is a book based on it - "The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic" by Darby Penney and Peter Stastny. Already have it on hold at the library - I am completely fascinated. Wonderful book.

Krista
Book Review: The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street
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
Book Review: A Good Year for the Roses
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
Book Review: The Painter
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
Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars
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