Staff Book Reviews

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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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
Book Review: Left Neglected: A Novel
Genova, Lisa
4 stars = Really Good

s a neuroscientist, author Lisa Genova uses her knowledge of human brain conditions to weave fiction stories. Her first book, Still Alice, is a moving and accurate depiction of early-onset Alzheimer’s, written from the perspective of the person stricken with the illness. Left Neglected explores a traumatic brain injury, again from the vantage point of the person dealing with the problem. Of course, depending on the area and extent the brain is damaged, symptoms vary widely on this subject and Genova chooses a fairly rare condition called Left Neglect, in which the right hemisphere of the brain in damaged in such as way that while the person is not paralyzed, they are unaware of anything on the left – to include the left side of the body and the left side of the world around them. The story Genova generates, from the main character’s original high-powered, multi-tasking life to her slow recovery, is somewhat bland and predictable. You can guess that she is going to have to learn to slow down and appreciate the little things in life. And you are pleasantly surprised that her marriage remains intact. But what is fascinating about this book is that the reader continuously tries to understand what it would be like to lose everything “left”. The mostly unknown power of our own brains, and the fact that we are all at the mercy of this organ to perceive our world accurately is what makes this book intriguing to read. How do we know what we believe we perceive is all there is? What if there is more out there, but our brains simply don’t know how to register its existence? The vast power our brains have over our entire reality and how we filter information and make sense of it is an individual experience – no two people perceive the world in the same way. No wonder we have so much trouble relating to one another! While the plot didn’t wow me, I found this book incredibly interesting simply because Genova imparts fascinating and thought-provoking information in the form of a very readable story.

Libby
Book Review: Pines: A Novel
Crouch, Blake
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Pines is the story of Special Agent Ethan Burke, who has found himself in the creepy little town of Wayward Pines, Idaho. He wakes with an injury and temporary amnesia. And as he starts to put the pieces together about how he got in a place that is a little too Norman Rockwell for its own good, well, things get really strange. And scary. An action-packed story that is equal parts horror, thriller and science fiction, Pines will keep you up all night turning the pages. Extra kudos because this author is from Colorado. Watch for the TV Series that will be based on this story

Kirk
Book Review: Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers
Lamott, Anne
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

There is no one quite like Anne Lamott to provide an astute, thought-provoking, and humorous perspective on spiritual matters with such simplicity, honesty, humanity, and modest profundity that leaves one convinced that there are truly only three essential prayers that find expression in every human heart. No stranger to heartache, struggle, doubt, addiction, questioning, failure, angst, and chicken-heartedness, Anne’s writings resonate with all who keep an open, inquiring mind and a tender heart. I highly recommend that you read one of her earlier books (such as Traveling Mercies) to understand where Anne comes from and the forces that have shaped her thoughts and inform her wisdom.

Sandy
Book Review: The Age of Miracles: A Novel
Walker, Karen Thompson
3 stars = Pretty Good

How would you react if the rotation of the earth had begun to slow. This is the story of a family and their reaction, from the point of view of the family's young daughter. A good story, but should be in the teen area, not adult fiction.

Toni