All Book Reviews

Book Review: Angelfall
Ee, Susan
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This book takes a refreshing approach to the theme of angels vs. humans that in now way leaves you thinking you just read a young adult story. Great drama, excellently managed with great timing and suspense. A 17 year old is responsible for her emotionally challenged mother and physically challenged younger sister in a post apocalyptic era brought on by...warrior angels. The younger sister is kidnapped by two of the angels and the 17-year old has to find her while her mother deals with her emotional issues as best she can..good read.

Pauline
Book Review: Revolution
Donnelly, Jennifer
4 stars = Really Good

This was an engaging read. The parts about revolutionary France were particularly interesting. The protaganist was only mildly annoying which is good for a teen book. I also liked that it touches on music history and theory, French Revolution, and genetics. Overall, I'd recommend this book.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Inferno
Brown, Dan
4 stars = Really Good

Dan Brown has done it again! In Inferno, he has blended a concoction of cultural history, shadowy power brokers, and cutting-edge apocalyptic science into an intriguing potboiler.

Our hero, Robert Langdon, is tossed headfirst into a violent, shifting conflict between European authorities and a brilliantly mad scientist who is obsessed with Dante's Divine Comedy.

Naturally, said mad scientist is bent on world destruction/domination and the key to stopping him lies in deciphering clues hidden in the medieval masterpiece and the art and architecture of Florence, Italy.

Most readers either love or hate Dan Brown's writing. If you enjoyed his signature style in the Da Vinci Code and his other novels, Inferno will be a great read. If you find a lot of art history and cultural background boring, it might seem like the Seventh Circle of Hell. The addition of some thought-provoking scientific threats that reminded me of Michael Crichton were a definite plus for me.

All in all, a worthwhile addition to the series, even though Langdon fails to save the world! Or does he? Hmmm.

Alan
Book Review: The Greater Good
Mitchell, Sandy
4 stars = Really Good

As my first Ciaphas Cain novel, I was really impressed. This book will show new readers what the universe of the year 40,000 is like. The main plot has the imperial navy and the main character, Commisar Cain, fighting to drive off the hive fleets of the tyranid invasion.

Matt
Book Review: Ender's Game
Card, Orson Scott
1 star = Yuck!

I despised this book. Although I respect Card's mastery in the sci-fi genre, this was not one of his wonder-books. He failed to capture the personality of the childrens' ages, and parts of it were beyond gruesome, especially after you realized it was a 6-11 year old participating in those actions. The time-frame was speedy; the child went from 6 to eleven years old within 100 pages. Also, the Locke and Demosthenes part was plain confusing. Not a fan.

JBird
Book Review: Leviathan
Westerfeld, Scott
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This book is the best in the entire world. A mixture of steampunk, history, and mystery, it made me fall instantly in love. I loved how it took World War I and turned it into a sci-fi-ish adventure following the perspective of two teenagers from completely different backgrounds and motives. You should most definitely give this one a try!!!

JBird
Book Review: The Bully Book
Gale, Eric Kahn
4 stars = Really Good

This book was really good. It was a fast read and was very engaging. There's even some advice to parents to ask their kids if they are being hurt or made fun of in school. Asking specifically may open the door for a hurting teen to confide. But mostly this is a great mystery for young people about bullying.

vfranklyn
Book Review: The Longest Way Home: One Man's Quest for the Courage to Settle Dow
McCarthy, Andrew
2 stars = Meh

This book was okay. There was quite a bit of navel-gazing going on. But there was also the occasional interesting bit. Meh.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life
Russell, Rachel Renee
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This book is funny and strong willed. It is a diary of a girl who has just started in a new school and she has no friends. She has to deal with a bully and an embarrassing family. I loved this book!

Ariel
Book Review: How to Draw More Manga
Coope, Katy
1 star = Yuck!

I checked this book out because I thought I could get a good tip or two out of it. I was sorely dissapointed.It was positively full of misinformation!Avoid this one-definitely.

TW
Book Review: White Butterfly
Mosley, Walter
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Walter Mosley knows how to tell a story like no one else. He captures life in the fifties in Southern California for black folks in Watts and surrounding areas shortly after WW1. Boy Oh Boy...His books are actually stories told to him by his father when he was a young man growing up in that era. Humor and suspense await anyone who has the pleasure to pick up any of his well written books.....

Melinda
Book Review: The Raft
Bodeen, S. A.
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

When you start reading this, you can't put it down, kinda like the Hunger Games. I would recommend this to people who like to read action/adventure. This is about a girl who goes on a plane and it crashes and all she has is a raft, a total stranger named Max, and a bag of Skittles.
They have no water and there are sharks in the area and no sign of help. Will they survive?

Rachel
Book Review: I Suck at Girls
Halpern, Justin
4 stars = Really Good

This book is very clever, funny, and sweet. The author talks about his misadventures with girls in a very self-deprecating manner. His father even makes a showing in the book, to hilarious effect. Thumbs up!

vfranklyn
Book Review: Halfway Home
Sheldon, Mary
4 stars = Really Good

This is an awesome book! I found myself laughing out loud and just couldn't put it down. Ms. Sheldon's style of writing is one that will get you caught up in the lives of mothers and daughters everywhere. Highly recommend for a great read.

Rebecca
Book Review: Out of the Easy
Sepetys, Ruta
4 stars = Really Good

Out of the Easy follows the story of Josie, a sixteen-year-old girl living in 1950's New Orleans whose mother just happens to be a prostitute. But don't let that turn you away! This book is far from gross; it's actually really good. You see, Josie desperately wants to lose the title of "The Prostitute's Daughter", so she applies for college and tries to scrounge up all the money needed for such an endeavor. However, to find out what happens next, you'll have to read the book!

I loved this book because it really showed how strong of a character Josie is. The plot line was very well-developed and its obvious the Ruta Sepetys knows how to write! I highly recommend this book to kids older than twelve.

Lily
Book Review: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel
Joyce, Rachel
3 stars = Pretty Good

Setting: Modern day, southern coast of England. Quite unexpectedly, after twenty years, Harold Fry receives a letter from Queenie Hennessy (a former co-worker), who informs him that she is dying of inoperable cancer and is in hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed, located in northern England. He writes her a note and sets off to post it. Along the way he meets a young woman who tells him that knowing someone cares can mean all the difference to a person with cancer. Harold hadn't known he would walk the 600 miles to Queenie, but after that short conversation, he phones the hospice (he has left his mobile phone at home) to tell Queenie to "hold on. I'm walking to you." He just kept walking, buying her souvenirs and sending his wife postcards along the way. He endures blisters, hunger, sleeping outside, and publicity-seekers. As he walks, he remembers his parents, his job, his wife and his absent son. And his wife remembers him. It's a simple story, but also extraordinary.

Vickie
Book Review: A Free People's Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Futur
Guinness, Os
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

America's Suicide?

Suicide as a personal or a social phenomenon is never a comfortable conversation, as tragedy seldom is. When presented on the level of civilization itself, suicide is a challenging subject indeed, particularly when it is your own society at stake. Yet, in his 2012 volume "A Free People's Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future," this is precisely what Os Guinness invites us - even commands us - as Americans, to think hard on. It is a penetrating read. It is a vital read.
As an Irish descendant of a certain beer magnate and as a self-described "resident alien" in the U. S. A., Guinness brings to his argument the presumed objective detachment of a third party looking in at America. He holds a doctorate in philosophy from Oxford, is widely published in American social studies, is founder of the Trinity Forum and past member of the Brookings Institute and Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies. He is a dedicated and very empathetic observer of the contemporary American scene and is highly informed of the trajectory of American history, the foundations of our political success as an independent nation, our internal struggles to maintain our freedoms and suggests what we might do to halt our suicidal plunge into incoherence.
Guinness comes armed with the full panoply of some 200 of history's observers and participants in the rise and fall of societies, from Thucydides, Sophocles and Xenophon among the ancients, through the Revolutionaries of Voltaire, Montesquieu, Jefferson, Madison and Adams to the moderns of Keynes, Weber and Wilson. All of this collective "wisdom of the ages" testifies to the hard fact that every civilization known to history has disappeared. While foreign invasions have precipitated many of these social catastrophes, Guinness insists with volumes of evidence that it is the internal decay of societies that universally explains their devolution. It is not the "wolves at the door" that today threaten our survival, but the "termites within" that will inevitably do the job.
The footnotes should not scare off the American reader. The inevitable conclusion should. Guinness' journalistic style is aimed at the concerned citizen, not the PhD.
Guinness first establishes his baseline for understanding the current American condition with a review of the American Founding, the forceful riddance of external control begun in 1776. This was the revolutionary startup of 1776, the first stage of the three-phased cycle of freedom. The second phase was the creation of ordered freedom manifested by the constitutional structure that provided the perimeter fence against any future government tyranny and the internal "checks and balances" to prevent internal anarchy. Here the Founders combined the negative freedom from excessive government intrusion and the equally important positive freedom to believe in what we will and to act on those beliefs. This was history's first attempt at structuring a society from scratch on specific ideas and tenets. This took time, as the Constitution was only ratified in 1787 together with the original Bill of Rights. This Constitution was a "covenant" among freely consenting partners as much as it was a document, a "covenant" that manifested the Founders' understanding of how "freedom" was to be defined and commonly understood.
The third phase of Guinness' freedom is the sustaining of freedom. This has become the critical phase, a continuing one over the decades and is the principle theme of "A Free Peoples' Suicide." Simply put, Guinness pictures an American society that has disintegrated to a level of incoherence and spends most of his pages explaining why. Pick your metaphor: a physician attempting to heal his living patient; a coroner dissecting a carcass looking for clues of the cause of death. The reader might suppose that Guinness himself is unsure which one he represents.
"Freedom" alone, Guinness claims, is not an ultimate value. It is a vacuum into which we import values. Freedom is an identifiable structure, a "golden triangle" consisting of three equilateral corners, freedom, virtue and faith. Removing any one corner and the structure falls to the ground.
The virtue he proclaims is that of "personal restraint," the consensus among mature citizens that there are essential norms of behavior that can be agreed upon. This was the Jeffersonian notion of "reason" and "sentiment,"
the "aristocracy of virtue" of John Adams and de Tocqueville's "habits of the heart" that together enabled citizens to govern themselves rather than be subjected to the destructive dependancies of "monarchy" and an all-consuming government.
The faith that Guinness proclaims is one essential source of that virtue, an interdependency that results in "morality" itself. This is the Christian/Judeo faith that acknowledges something superior to the individual, something that offers guidelines of behavior that all citizens can agree on voluntarily without government dictat. The loss of this faith in the "invisible" unhappily is the "completest revolution" of the American experience since we also have no faith in anything "visible."
The challenge to the reader of "A Free Peoples' Suicide" is whether to continue with Guinness' excruciating depiction of the collapse of that "golden triangle," of American society itself, or to retreat ignominiously under his security blanket of "I can have it all" at the hands of beneficent and ever-expanding government.

Whitney
Book Review: Assholes: A Theory
James, Aaron
4 stars = Really Good

If language doesn't offend you, this is one of the more thought-out, funny and smart books about certain members of our society. While reading, it seems more like entertainment, but you catch yourself noticing patterns in reality that apply. It's both fun and educational!

Cassie
Book Review: Rant
Palahniuk, Chuck
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This is one of Chuck Palahniuk's best novels. It's everything you love about any of his other books, but it's nothing you'd expect. It's written in an interview-esque style, detailing the life of Buster "Rant" Casey, one of the most notorious and mysterious serial killers. It's funny, it's shocking, it's utterly mind-blowing. One of those novels you'd hate to ever put down.

Cassie
Book Review: Black Bird
Sakurakōji, Kanoko
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

the black bird series has fifteen books so far and they are really good i have read them over and over again. the sixteenth one is coming out on may 7th. i would suggets reading them if you like romance.

Cecilia
Book Review: Heaven is for Real
Burpo, Todd
4 stars = Really Good

Good.

Kim
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