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All Book Reviews

Book Review: The Perfume Collector
Tessaro, Kathleen
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This book I happened upon from a review in a Woman's magazine. The title intrigued me as well as the plot of a woman who inherits money from an unknown benefactor. I would be proud to own this book so I could highlight many of the clever quotes within. I had to backtrack a little like I did with the DaVinci Code, but once you are hooked - you'll be glad to read and re-read this clever, witty and woman-inspiring story!!! Enjoy!

Rebecca H.
Book Review: The Book Thief
Zusak, Markus
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This book is AMAZING. On my first read-through, I'll admit I did not have high expectations for it, and it started off a bit slow and confusing. The story quickly picks up though, and it's even more impressive (and makes more
sense) on rereads. It's about a girl growing up in Germany during World War II, and the story is brilliantly told. It's narrated by Death; a completely original idea. If you enjoy reading and writing, you should read this book: It describes the power of words and shows how a book can save your life - literally.

Annie
Book Review: Special Topics in Calamity Physics
Pessl, Marisha
4 stars = Really Good

This is the strangest book I have ever read. I usually do a summary, but the summary for this would be long and confusing. I am still thinking it over. It took me awhile to figure out that I really liked it. Special Topics in Calamity Physics is one of those books that you either love or hate. Either you finished it or at some point put it down and gave up on it. If you like novels written in the Nabokovian style - characterized by a lush descriptive style and intricate wordplay - then Special Topics in Calamity Physics is the book for you! Also, you have to like open ended/ambiguous endings. This book will definitely challenge you and give you something to think about!

Melissa
Book Review: Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why
Gonzales, Laurence
2 stars = Meh

I only read half of this book. The writing style was too jumpy/jumbled for me. I felt that Laurence Gonzales was repeating the same things over and over. I did like the survival (or in some cases non-survival stories) and wished there had been more of those with the follow-up to the incident instead of so much description of the brain functions of survival. This was just an okay book for me.

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

This was a fast read. I enjoyed it, but I can't say that I enjoyed it. Meaning it was hard to read a novel that brought to life what a war can do to people and how they have to live. I liked all of the characters, but I liked Kenan and Dragen the best. They were just two men trying to survive and not be shot by snipers as they tried to get water and bread. I was engrossed when their stories were told. Overall a good book. Highly recommended.

Melissa
Book Review: Sweeping Up Glass
Wall, Carolyn
4 stars = Really Good

I really liked this book. At times it was hard to put down. In the beginning I wasn't sure where the story was going and knew a big secret would be revealed. I totally guessed wrong as to what the secret was, but that was okay. This is a great book for a book group. There is lots to discuss! I highly recommend it!

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

I love any and all things Sherman Alexie, but this book really stands out among his work. "True Diary" is totally relatable to anyone who has ever felt like they didn't quite fit in.

Monterey
Book Review: Carrie
King, Stephen
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

I've never really been a Stephen King fan. I liked Night Shift, but read it a long time ago. However, I decided to give him a try again and go old school. WooHoo!! This was a superbly crafted work of fiction. The premise and plot development was textbook and the narrative was engaging. I flew through this book, feeling for Carrie the whole way. Perhaps the post prom narrative could have delved farther into Carrie's mind, but that's my only suggestion. Perfect horror novel. I'm reading The Shining next.

vfranklyn
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