All 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.

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!

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.

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.

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).

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.

Book Review: Twilight: A Novel
Meyer, Stephenie
4 stars = Really Good

In this terribly suspenseful novel our heroine moves to Forks, Washington to live with her father. She is in a new high school, and finds herself the center of attention. She only has eyes for the beautiful and mysterious Edward, however. What is his secret? Can he return her love despite his family's history, and the torment of Bella's scent? Also available in Audio Format and as an eBook. Read it and find out!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

Book Review: Junie B. Jones Series
Park, Barbara
1 star = Yuck!

The books about this kindergartner and then first grader may be funny, but they do not help any child learn or improve in reading. Junie B. Jones is disrespectful and says things that her parents don't like. I read these when I was about six or so and will never forget them. I colored the "bad words"
(stupid, dumb, hate, etc.) over in black!

Emma S.
Book Review: Ring of Five Trilogy
McNamee, Eoin
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

In this trilogy, the boy Danny leaves his parents to be trained at Wilsons School of Spies--but that wasn't the school his parents thought they were sending him to! As the trilogy progresses, Danny is caught in webs of truth vs. treachery when he is discovered to be the fifth member of the Ring of Five, an evil group of people trying to take over the Upper and Lower Worlds.

Emma S.
Cover of the book The Outsiders
Hinton, S. E.
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

The rift between social classes in thirteen-year-old Ponyboy Curtis's world grows stronger each year. He's a greaser, which essentially means that he's a hood, even though he gets excellent grades and his idea of acting out is going to the movie theater without one of his brothers or a buddy. The social elite, known as the socs, hate the greasers and vice-versa. But for Ponyboy he can't quite make the connection for the reason to hate. Not when he meets the pretty and friendly Cherry at a drive-in-theater. Not when he knows his oldest brother Darry would be a soc and have gone on to college if it weren't for the fact that their parents are dead and he's taken on the responsibility to keep the Curtis family together. The difference between the two worlds explodes in Ponyboy's face when he and his best friend are confronted in the park one night by a gang of socs out for blood. Not even Ponyboy can imagine away this horrific turn of events that puts him and Johnny on the run. "The Outsiders" is the very first book ever that I would recommend to every reader, as soon as they hit their teens. It doesn't matter if it's a thirteen-year-old or a sixty-five year old reading it, just so long as they do. S. E. Hinton was published when she was 16 years old and I cannot praise her highly enough. Realistic fiction is difficult enough to master at the best of times let alone when you're only sixteen. Ponyboy's world is tough and gritty and terrifying but it's a place that people need to realize exists.

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.

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!

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.