All Book Reviews

Book Review: The Star Shard
Durbin, Frederic S.
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

I first read The Star Shard in my sister's Cricket magazines. It was a ten part issue with fantastic drawings and a writing style so unlike what I had read in the other short stories in Cricket. We couldn't wait till the next issues came out. Then a year or so later when we heard it was being made into a book, we bought it right away. It was even better than what we saw in the magazine.

The story is about a young girl named Cymbril who lives on a massive moving city-like wagon, called the Thunder Rake, where she is enslaved to a rich man named Rombil. As the Rake moves from town to town, she must sing at the markets to attract customers and gain money for her master. Since she is Rombil's slave and even her clothes are owned by him, her only true possessions are beautiful hair clip from her mother and a smooth turquoise stone from her father. When Rombil one day buys another slave named Loric, her life is changed. She finds that Loric is one of the Fae, a race of elvish magical people. Loric tells her that she is half-Fae and even her hair clip and stone have magical properties. Her stone is a fragment of a star that fell in Fae lands. Now, with this knowledge in her mind and her parent's gifts close, Cymbril promises herself that she will sacrifice everything to grant she and Loric freedom.

Although not too well known, I ask that you give this book a try. You will be surprised. It is a very charming and beautiful book.

Margaret
Book Title: After Visiting Friends: A Son's Story
Hainey, Michael
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

I heard about this book from my cousin who read it in her book club. It is one of the best books I read all year. I wish I was a faster reader but I managed to finish it all the way to the end. You know exactly what the author is thinking. Its a great book!

Karen
Book Review: If You Were Here
Lancaster, Jen
2 stars = Meh

It was okay. The author kind of annoyed me with all the cutsie footnotes. But I did read it fast and it did remind me of a friend of mine, so there's that.

vfranklyn
David Sedaris: Live For Your Listening Pleasure
Sedaris, David
3 stars = Pretty Good

This was a good way to be distracted on my runs. I didn't find it to be laugh-out-loud funny, but it was somewhat engaging, which is good enough for my needs.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Where'd You Go, Bernadette?
Semple, Maria
4 stars = Really Good

Not bad. I liked Bernadette and Bee's voices. I also liked that while Bernadette seemed unhinged, she really just needed something spectacular to create in order to function. I liked how the author resolved that need. I'm not familiar with Seattle or Microsoft, but the book made me feel like I was there. I liked that Audrey was not a two dimensional character. Overall, I enjoyed the book

vfranklyn
Book Review: Our Dumb World: The Onion's Atlas of the Planet Earth
Dikkers, Scott
4 stars = Really Good

Very funny, especially on eAudio. I liked the Luxembourg section the best but they were all good.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me
Handler, Chelsea
3 stars = Pretty Good

Let me just say that I cannot understand why anyone would want to work for Chelsea Handler. My God, I'd be in hell. It was entertaining but not hilarious until the chapter about Standards and Practices and the chapter written by her dog. This makes me want to read another book by Chelsea herself. This one was written by her cronies.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Chomp
Hiaasen, Carl
4 stars = Really Good

I really enjoyed this book. It was textbook Hiaasen, which is a good thing. It's aimed toward younger readers and I plan to give it to my nephew for his birthday.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Skulduggery Pleasant
Landy, Derek
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Skulduggery Pleasant throws you into a magical universe where the classic fight between good verses evil is exercised. Thrown into a new world, Stephanie learns to adapt and explore magic with the help of her mentor Skulduggery Pleasant, a dry humor irish detective skeleton.
It's simplistic enough that a 12 yr old can understand but advanced enough for a teenager to enjoy as well. Kept me laughing all the way.

Kyoya
Book Review: City Of Fire
Yep, Laurence
2 stars = Meh

It was alright- especially in the beginning. I thought that is was interesting with all the fantasy with San Francisco a few decades ago. The main characters have to go and leave San Francisco after they are attacked and travel across the sea to avenge the deaths of certain people who were very important in their lives. They are attacked even more and come up against a lot of roadblocks. Laurence Yep incorporated a Hawaiian goddess who was crazy and nice. Yet, I thought the story was just a little undeveloped, maybe because it was the first book in a trilogy. I felt like it was trying to wrap up everything while introducing new ideas and plot twists at the same time. I didn't connect with the book, but that it just my opinion. It is good for the ages eleven to twelve or thirteen.

Carli
Book Review: The Magician's Nephew
Lewis, C. S.
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Favorite book EVER! Great characters! Good, good, good! Great story, characters, and moral. Great fantasy mixed with our world and putting the Bible retold into it. Amazing story, good for all ages.

Carli
Book Review: Among The Brave: A Shadow Children Book
Haddix, Margaret Peterson
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

One of my favorite books of all time! Great characters with good development. A very interesting story line with lots of bumps and twists and turns. Good for all ages, from ten to adults in my opinion. But it is in a series of books and is near the end of the series, so reading it without the other books would definitely put a damper on how good it is. But really amazing book!

Carli
Book Review: Mockingjay
Collins, Suzanne
4 stars = Really Good

Great book! I made me cry. Exciting and interesting, it really was good. The catch is that it is in a series of books, so it wouldn't be good unless you have read the first two books. But overall, it was good and the characters were very well written.

Carli
Book Review: Salmon Fishing In The Yemen
Torday, Paul
4 stars = Really Good

After having seen the movie, I really appreciated the format of the book. It is written in interview, press release style. So you're only seeing what each character is thinking at a time. The premise is so far-fetched but you begin to really believe it can happen after hearing the thoughts of the main character Dr. Jones and the Sheikh who wants to do the project. There is also the human interest of the relationships between Dr.Jones and his wife Mary and Harriet Chetwode-Talbot, who represents the Sheikh, and her boyfriend who has gone to Afghanistan.

Patricia
Book Review: The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story
Ackerman, Diane
4 stars = Really Good

The Zookeeper's Wife: A war story by Diane Ackerman tells the story
of Polish zookeepers, Jan and Antonina Zabinski and how they saved 300 Jews in the middle of occupied Warsaw in WWII. It is a remarkable story of imagination and fierce resistance, as the Zabinskis harbored Jews in their home and on their zoo grounds, with Nazis all around them. Antonina was especially concerned that the Jews not merely survive but survive with their humanity in tact--at night the house was full of art and music for the hidden Jews. Because Diane Ackerman is the writer of this tale, she draws upon her work as a naturalist to explore the relationship between animals and humans and to explore the odd fascination that the Nazis had with questions of "pure" and "aryan" animals, which the Zabinskis exploited to gain access to
the Jewish ghettos, where they took out Jews and brought in food. A fascinating, bizarre tale. This is a perfect book for book clubs: the questions raised are many and heady.

Roger
Book Review: Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
Lansing, Alfred
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

An incredible true story that details the leadership, skills and experience of Ernest Shackleton and his crew as they survive daunting odds and extreme misery while attempting to cross Antarctica. While the book starts a bit slowly, a few chapters in it is near impossible to set down. It reminds us of the endless capability of man to survive in situations where death seems to be the only option available.

Greg
Book Review: When I Fall in Love
Kurland, Lynn
4 stars = Really Good

If you enjoy historical romance that's more about the relationship and the time period than the bedroom scenes, this is a fabulous book! Part of Lynn Kurland's paranormal romance series with the MacLeods and the DePiagets, this is a fun, light-hearted time travel experience. Jennifer is a 21st century girl who ends up in 1229 England, and lives to tell about it!

Deb
Book Review: Honolulu: A Novel
Brennert, Alan
4 stars = Really Good

This is a gripping tale of four "picture brides" dreams, challenges, and successes set in scenic Hawaii during the early 1900's. This author brings us to places not in the tour books. Instead, he describes the life of everyday and impovished people with a frankness that is both informative, overwhelming, yet hopeful.

Tina Marie
Book Review: A Beautiful Dark
Davies, Jocelyn
3 stars = Pretty Good

While this paranormal romance begins like "Twilight," there's new twists to keep this original. (Spoiler alert--there are no vampires to be found) Perfect for fans of "Fallen," and the "Hush, Hush" saga. It also takes place in Colorado, which is pretty cool.

Shannon
Book Review: Hoot
Hiaasen, Carl
3 stars = Pretty Good

I LOVE Carl Hiaasen but I was a little disappointed in this book. Maybe it was because it was aimed at a younger crowd. It was good, but I've come to expect greatness from Hiaasen. I read this book to see if it was something my 12 year old nephew would like. I'm going to read Chomp next. Hopefully it'll reach the impossibly high standard set by the master of Florida humor.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Me of Little Faith
Black, Lewis
4 stars = Really Good

A very funny book. I kinda was expecting an atheist viewpoint, but the author was a bit more nebulous about the existence of God. But more importantly, this was a very funny book.

vfranklyn
Book Review: The Housekeeper and the Professor
Ogawa, Yōko
3 stars = Pretty Good

This novel was very interesting, especially since it is written from the housekeeper's perception. It is a translation of a Japanese novel about a housekeeper and a professor who has a brain injury. The professor cannot hold memories for long, they start erasing after 80 minutes. The housekeeper and her young son become part of the professor's universe of mathematics and learn about living in the present even as his memory slips away. A very interesting novel.

Duane
Book Review: Writing Creative Nonfiction
Forché, Carolyn
4 stars = Really Good

The first essay opens up with a study of "why I write." From there, the editors take us through myriad teachers and experts of creative nonfiction as they explore the variety of work that is creative nonfiction. There is much to inspire writers, but the essays appeal to avid readers who want to understand the format and learn from masters of the genre. The information is deep at times, and writers will want to explore some essays for longer periods as they process their responses. The essay "why I write" alone will require some introspection and aid in the learning process. It should be required reading for creative nonfiction writers and students.

Cindy
Book Review: River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey
Millard, Candice
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Great for the reader interested in history, science, and adventure. A wonderful insight into Theodore Roosevelt's lifelong love for nature.

Abby
Book Review: Gone Girl: A Novel
Flynn, Gillian
4 stars = Really Good

I really liked the direction this book took in the middle. I found both main characters to be fascinating. It reminded me of another marriage I know in real life that went horrifically south. The book also illustrates the disturbing reality that life isn't fair and bad people rarely get their due.

vfranklyn