All Book Reviews

Book Review: Good Omens
Gaiman, Neil and Pratchett, Terry
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Unexpectedly charming and funny with just a dose of mind bending. The story leads up to the end of the world, starting with the birth of the Antichrist. An angel and a demon who have resided on Earth since the beginning of time aren't quite ready for everything to end. With many quirky characters, a plot that twists and turns and in the end, connects very well, it's definitely worth a read. The wisdom that comes from the 11 year old Adam Young (aka The Antichrist, the Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast that is called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan and Lord of Darkness) is my favorite part of the entire book.

Cassie
Book Review: Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
Bach, Richard
3 stars = Pretty Good

Back in my younger days I may have given this book 4 or 5 stars. Now I'm older and know better. A lot of the wise and enlightened sayings were really just a bunch of hooey. But I did get two things out of it. The first was the story in the beginning about the creature in the river letting go of the bottom and rising up to be carried along by the current. The second was the comparison of death with jumping into a cold, deep lake. It is scary because you don't know what's down there along with the initial shock of the cold water. But once you're in it's okay, even refreshing.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Drinking and Tweeting: And Other Brandi Blunders
Glanville, Brandi
3 stars = Pretty Good

Yes. I read this. I know. But, it didn't suck. It was actually pretty entertaining and the parts about her having to watch a new mother-figure enter her children's lives was downright heart-wrenching. Not bad at all.

vfranklyn
Book Review: The One and Only Ivan
Applegate, Katherine
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This was such a great novel. So sweet and life affirming. I loved Ivan and Ruby and wanted them to be happy. I thought the novel might have gone a darker route, but I'm glad it didn't. A sweet, quick read.

vfranklyn
Book Review: The Power of Habit
Duhigg, Charles
3 stars = Pretty Good

I finished this book a couple of weeks ago. It was interesting, but I can't remember too much about it now, which is why it's only getting 3 stars. I do remember the cue -> action -> reward loop that makes up habit and am half-heartedly applying it to my nail-biting habit. Just knowledge of the cues has already helped me be aware that I'm biting or am about to bite my nails. We'll see what happens. I also plan to implement the habit loop in Zoe's violin practices.

vfranklyn
Book Review: City of Bones
Clare, Cassandra
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

When I grabbed this book I could not put it down. It sent you into another world that was very different and very similar. One word to describe it: Amazing.

Kileigh
Book Review: The Other Typist
Rindell, Suzanne
4 stars = Really Good

Gone Girl meets Gatsby in this story set in a 1920s Manhattan police station. A fashionably "unreliable" narrator, Rose Baker tells the tale of her introduction to life in the Jazz Age fast lane, led by the other typist at the station house, Odalie. Good girl Rose ends up in luxurious surroundings, sinful speakeasies, and oceans of bathtub gin before becoming involved in various criminal activities. But is it really Odalie at the helm of Rose's loss of innocence and eventual institutionalization? I can honestly say I'm not sure what the "truth" of the story is, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. A highly recommended first novel.

Alan
Book Review: The Cellist of Sarajevo
Galloway, Steven
4 stars = Really Good

A compelling narative through the eyes of the individuals effected by the war. Each had a deeply emotional pull on how we live and deal with such trauma.

I recommend this as an eye opener for anyone seeking the perspective of others who've had to endure hardships in their lives.

Deborah
Book Review: The Mouse-Proof Kitchen
Shah, Saira
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

I thought this would be a light(ish) book about a couple's jaunt to France with a crumbling home and the challenge of a baby with a disability, somewhat similar to the film Under the Tuscan Sun. Ummm, wrong. This was heartrending, difficult, but beautiful book. The couple are overwhelmed, angry, irrational, awful toward each other, and altogether too flawed to fully like, but the whole time I was wondering what I would do/how I would feel in their situation. There are many metaphors in the book, but what I came away with was that life doesn't always turn out the way you want it to, but it becomes what you make of it, which sometimes turns out even better than imagined.

Krista
Book Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Alexie, Sherman
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Loved, loved, loved it!

Krista
Book Review: Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger
Harbison, Elizabeth
3 stars = Pretty Good

3 1/2 stars. As an Audrey Hepburn buff, I saw this as a modern retelling of Sabrina (well, more modern than the Julia Ormond version). With a couple of references to Ms. Hepburn in the book, this could have been intentional. I enjoyed reading about the work Quinn did with brides on finding their perfect wedding dress, even if it was unconventional. I also loved the daily challenges put forth by Quinn's friend Glenn - those were probably the best, and funniest, parts of the book! The main characters just fell a little flat for me.

Krista
Book Review: The Girl You Left Behind
Moyes, Jojo
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Loved this book! The dual storylines worked well together - when things were getting so bleak in Sophie's time, we switch over to Liv's fight for the painting. I love books and stories about the history of objects, such as The Girl in Hyacinth Blue or The Red Violin. Both stories were heartbreaking and real - Sophie's willingness to do anything to reconnect with her husband, and Liv's difficulty letting her husband go after death were engrossing, I didn't want to put the book down!

Krista
Book Review: My Fair Lazy
Lancaster, Jen
2 stars = Meh

Borderline 1 star. Jen Lancaster really annoys me. It could be because she writes super clever banter between herself and everyone else. Puhleeze. It's like she has a big sign on her back that says, 'Gee, aren't I witty? Don't you wish you were friends with me?'. Not really. Oh God, and the footnotes! Lame way to try to be clever. She just tries too hard. But I did finish it, but no more Jen Lancaster for me.

vfranklyn
Book Review: High Rhulian
Jacques, Brian
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

I thought that this book had really good characters and gradual development of the plot. It's a really good read and keeps you interested.

Like the other books in the Redwall series, it gives really interesting plots to the characters. The story line isn't too fast or confusing and you can usually figure it out halfway through the book, but it is still a great read.

Caitlyn
Book Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Alexie, Sherman
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Life on the Spokane Indian Reservation is tough for Junior. Not only is he small and easy to pick on, but he "was born with water on the brain" and has developed differently because of it. After Junior decides to transfer to a school off the reservation to try and find hope (which is completely unheard of), his life on the reservation becomes even harder. Illustrated with Junior’s witty cartoon sketches, this book is a quick read that makes you laugh in the midst of pain and brings to life the hardships of others.

Tori
Book Review: Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment
Patterson, James
4 stars = Really Good

Okay...I had heard about this book, and then I read it. I thought it was AMAZING. Characters were very good. First person was great, but very funny and realistic. I loved it. I loved Fang, Iggy, Nudge, and the Gasman. I felt like Angel was just a character I personally didn't connect with (she is the kind of character I never like- the kind of character who everyone just adores and dotes over, when, in reality, they are kind of annoying) and Max was great too- tomboyish, but not so much that she was super annoying. I read this book in two or three days (it is around four hundred pages) and the only reason I would say it isn't a five star, is that there is language. Now, mind you, there isn't very much. But what there is is not polite and offensive.
They say Oh my _ , which is extremely offensive to me, and it is used very often in this book. I just wanted to tell you, great book except for these words. I would suggest this book for thirteen years old at the very youngest. I myself am a teen, but I did not enjoy reading the language James Patterson uses. Still, I like the series A LOT, even though some of the characters annoy me more now than when I first started. Great, great, great book! I loved the characters and story!

Carli
Book Review: Free Will
Harris, Sam
3 stars = Pretty Good

For a small book, it was definitely intense. Sam Harris is a great American intellectual and advocate for reason. In "Free Will", he really brings up an issue that really makes you reconsider everything you ever thought about what drives us as human beings. It leaves you to chew on what you just read and think more about why we do what we do. He inserts in some of his sense of humor too, which helps break up the pace. I only wish he could've expanded a little bit more, and gave more insight into opposing viewpoints.

Cassie
Book Review: Sweeping Up Glass
Wall, Carolyn
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This book was incredible. The voice of the protagonist was so engaging I was sucked right in and had a hard time putting it down. There were some instances in the book that were so intense I kept thinking to myself, 'Oh God, make it stop!', but in a good way. It left me with some questions about Ida's motivations and the extent of what she knew about the secret. Beautiful and hauntingly written, I can't recommend this book enough!

vfranklyn
Book Review: Disclosure
Crichton, Michael
1 star = Yuck!

Someone used Crichton's name to get this book published. It is too technical and slow to take off. Crichton knew how to mix tech with exciting, fast-paced storytelling. I am so disappointed.
I knew it was too good to be true; a new Crichton novel after his death.

Moderator's Note: From the Michael Crichton official website (http://www.michaelcrichton.com/books-disclosure.html), Disclosure was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1993 prior to the author’s death in 2008.

Gee
Book Review: The Cuckoo's Calling
Galbraith, Robert
4 stars = Really Good

Galbraith (er, I mean, Rowling) constructs a very interesting protagonist, Private Detective Cormoran Strike, a British veteran who lost part of his left leg in Afghanistan. The book is a bit slow at times, but still incredibly captivating as you follow the investigation of a prominent model's apparent suicide. It's a great whodunnit for anyone, even those who aren't into murder mysteries. This was a straight trough read for me, and I only paused while I cooked dinner. I dearly hope to read more adventures of Cormoran Strike!

Casey
Book Review: The Cellist of Sarajevo
Galloway, Steven
3 stars = Pretty Good

This book didn't grip me like I expected it to. It was a good book, but because it was fiction I had a hard time really believing that that could have happened in real life. It made me want to know more about the siege of Sarajevo. I'm still not sure why it happened.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Pretty Little Liars
Shepard, Sara
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Pretty Little Liars is about a teenage girl named Alison, who goes missing. One year later they find her body. The day of her funeral her four friends Hannah, Aria, Emily, and Spencer get a text from an anonymous person but after the message it say -A. After that they keep getting strange text messages from -A. Whoever A is knows everything they're doing.

Sammi
Book Review: The Circle Maker
Batterson, Mark
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This book was another hit by Mark Batterson. It teaches you how to pray circles around your biggest dreams and fears. An inspiring read that I will read more than once.

Kylee
Book Review: Golden
Kirby, Jessi
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Golden is a spectacular book with an unexpected ending. I could read it over and over again!

Alison
Book Review: Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry
Taylor, Mildred D.
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Wow. This book was amazing. It was so well-written that I felt like I was there experiencing everything with Cassie. I wonder if I could be as brave as the Logans when faced with bodily harm. The courage of all civil rights activists blows my mind. My mother's family lived in Mississippi in the 1930s and were white. I hope they were sympathetic to the plight of African Americans, and not racists. But in reality, they were likely racists like most other whites during that time. What would I have been like if I was born during that time period? I like to think I'd be sympathetic and would stand up for what's right, but if you're raised with inequality as your reality how do you overcome it? I guess with education and experience and a knowledge of right and wrong, justice and injustice. But still, would I have had the bravery to stand up for what's right if it means physical harm? I hope so. Brilliant book. Perhaps my favorite children's novel of all time.

vfranklyn