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Staff Book Reviews

Book Review: The Chiru of High Tibet: A True Story
Martin, Jacqueline Briggs
4 stars = Really Good

Chiru are small animals that look like antelopes, but are related to wild goats or sheep. Their wool is the softest, finest and warmest in the world. They are endangered because they must be killed to get the wool.
Color photos and paintings tell the true story of a man who traveled 200 miles to find their breeding grounds in Tibet, and received government protection for the area, making a heroic and interesting adventure story.

Nancy
Book Review: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
Roach, Mary
4 stars = Really Good

Although some may consider the subject matter a bit macabre, this book is absolutely fascinating. It lets you in on a secret world few of us dare to think about. Grave robbing? Check. Scientists searching for evidence of the soul? Check. Cannibalism? You bet.

If you're brave enough to pull the curtain back on the dead, you really should check this book out. You won't be disappointed.

Chris
Book Review: You Don't Want to Know
Jackson, Lisa
4 stars = Really Good

This is a fantastic novel. It will keep you guessing and keep you reading.
Ava is crazy. She started losing her mind after the loss of her son, Noah, two years before the start of the novel. After a stay in a mental hospital, she is back at the family home and trying to put back together her memory. Is Noah still alive?

Raluca
Book Review: A Season of Angels
Kinkade, Thomas & Spencer, Katherine
4 stars = Really Good

In this final book from Thomas Kinkade's "Angel Island" series, Adele Morgans heart is heavy because of a family dispute that has torn her family apart.
She returns to Cape Light at Christmas with hopes of mending the broken relationship between her sons and bringing their families together for the holidays.

Grad student Jonathan Butler also arrive , determined to reveal the fraud surrounding Angel Island’s legend. He meets Tess Wyler, a local undergrad who helps him gather information but it’s only a matter of time before he too falls under the island’s spell and realizes that the proof of Angel Island and Cape Light’s magic lies within.

The Angel Island series is not as spell binding as the Cape Light series but nevertheless, it is an uplifting story that reminds us that God is in control and faith will carry us thru.

Marsha
Book Review: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Strayed, Cheryl
4 stars = Really Good

I recently read the book "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed. The book lended itself to a glimpse into a young womans' adventure as she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail by herself. The beginning chapters showed how inexperienced and innocent she was and as I continued reading other chapters, she had become quite the seasoned hiker with physical scars to prove it. Her marriage had ended and her mom had died, so as we hiked along with her, she came to grips with her life journey. Very entertaining and a page turner to boot!

Sue
Book Review: The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined
Khan, Salman
4 stars = Really Good

I heard Salman Khan speak about The Khan Academy (khanacademy.org) on a TED Talk a while back, and ever since I did I've been intrigued by his idea of flipping the traditional teaching model. Using inexpensive technology, let's have the students "learn" the lesson at home via online course materials and moving at their own pace. Then use the classroom time for practice and asking questions. The book, obviously, explains this much more eloquently. And while the book may be a bit short on possible cons of such a plan, it's convinced me to be very proactive with my daughter's education.

Dave
Book Review: The Silver Linings Playbook
Quick, Matthew
4 stars = Really Good

A very well-written book from the perspective of a mentally disturbed man. I like how details gradually came to light about his life and the series of events that led to his current situation. I'm not the biggest football fan, so that storyline fell a little flat for me. I'm a bit peeved that he ruined the endings of A Farewell to Arms and other great literary works that I haven't read yet. Uncool, but I guess the writer has to freedom to do what he wants with his character. It's almost as if the author wanted to add spoilers for great works of literature as a twisted joke. I'm just sayin'...

vfranklyn
Book Review: Over Sea, Under Stone
Cooper, Susan
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This is a great read for anyone: a perfect read-aloud, a super book for the independent reader, or coupled with one of the library’s sound versions, an ideal listen-to. Four English children are sent to the country to live with a distant uncle – I know; you’ve heard that before! But before you know it, they are embroiled in a Grail Quest of grave proportions! The mystery and suspense carry the reader into the Dark is Rising series with the excellent writing that earned Susan Cooper two Newbery awards.

Kristin
Book Review: Grace for the Moment: Inspirational Thoughts for Each Day of the Ye
Lucado, Max
4 stars = Really Good

Max Lucado is one of my favorite authors. "Grace" is a wonderful read because of the examples given, easy reference and the way it is written. You will never go wrong with any of this author's books.

Diana
Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars
Green, John
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This is one of the best novels I have ever read, and is easily on my top 5 list of favorites. The author, John Green, earned my respect like Garcia Marquez, Faulkner, and Nabokov have. He is a brilliant writer and storyteller.
What struck me the most about this novel was Green's ability to blur the lines between intangibles that we typically think of as opposite, and clear-cut: pain and comfort, life and death, humor and sadness, rememberance and loss are all topics that Hazel and Augustus and me, myself, as a reader, ponder throughout the narrative. And I shouldn't forget love! What a beautiful and awkward, but intense and unique love. You might find yourself laughing and crying at the same time.
So the novel touched me emotionally...But too intellectually challenge me as well is something that most novelists have a hard time doing. This is the reason I liken Green to great authors whose works are cemented in our history. He questions inevitable death with wit and perception, and in doing that, he examines with a microscope the life that leads us to it.

Mallory
Book Review: Creative Weaving
Howard, Sarah
3 stars = Pretty Good

I'm a new weaver, and found this book to be quite inspiring. It has great photos that really give you great ideas about using color in your weaving. This book is a good resource for new and experienced weavers alike.

Jan
Book Review: The Bully Book
Gale, Eric Kahn
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Eric Haskins’ life is suddenly completely miserable in sixth grade. It seems the entire class is conspiring to bully him. In fact, it is a carefully organized scheme by a few who have chosen him as the “Grunt.” They take their orders from The Book—an instruction manual in power passed down to each year’s sixth graders. Eric’s only chance is to find The Book and dismantle the plot against him. On the way, he’ll also discover the most important weapon against bullying. Pages from The Book and Eric’s journals are interwoven to create an intricate, exciting, and insightful book for everyone over ten years old.

Elisabeth
Book Review: Insurgent
Roth, Veronica
2 stars = Meh

This book was okay. I read the whole thing and it was long, so that says something. But it wasn't great. I found keeping track of the characters was confusing and the storyline was delivered with a heavy hand. Meh.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Revolution
Donnelly, Jennifer
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

I don't usually read teen fiction but when this book was recommended to me, I gave it a try and just couldn't put it down. The story is about Andi Alpers, a gifted musician and student at a Brooklyn prep school, who struggles with the death of her younger brother Truman. When Andi's estranged father forces her to accompany him to Paris, Andi stumbles across the diary of Alexandrine Paradis, a young girl who lived during the French Revolution.
As Andi experiences Alexandrine's life through the pages of the journal she finally can come to terms with Truman's death.

Heidi P.
Book Review: Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope
Ryan, Kevin
4 stars = Really Good

This book tells about stories from several young people who used to be young homeless. They came across to know Covenant House, which have led and supported young people throughout the North America to become responsible adults. They provide resources, connections and programs. Their mentoring supports have impressive impacts on such youth and longer positive effects on their future lives. These stories help us understand situations, many of which are intense, that young homeless in this diverse society are facing, and give us hope that young adults can gain healthy choices thorough available and friendly resources such as the Covenant House.

Chi
Book Review: Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files
Butcher, Jim
4 stars = Really Good

While not as good as previous Dresden adventures Cold Days is a welcome return to Harry's universe. It's always nice to visit with Harry and his friends. He always manages to find himself in the most precarious of situations. And even though it's no surprise that he always gets out of trouble it's still nice to see how he accomplishes it.

Michael
Book Review: Bless Me, Ultima
Anaya, Rudolfo
4 stars = Really Good

This is a fantastic experience of Mexican American culture and the richness and differences it presents. Antonio shares his many "growing up" experiences and dificulties with Ultima, an old curandera (healer) who has insight, influence and wisdom.

Lisa
Book Review: Calling Me Home: A Novel
Kibler, Julie
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

When I finished this book, I just sat back and said "Wow." That pretty much sums up the entire novel. What an amazingly beautiful and sad love story, not only between Isabelle and Robert, but also the friendship between Dorrie and Isabelle. This is definitely a book I will be recommending!

Krista
Book Review: Ashes of Honor: An October Daye Novel
McGuire, Seanan
4 stars = Really Good

The most recent in the October Daye series, Ashes of Honor was incredibly difficult to put down. Like all of the books in the series, McGuire keeps the action going with a mixture of faerie mythology and mystery with Shakespeare references thrown in. A great read for fans of urban fantasy with an awesome heroine. I also loved that the author includes a pronunciation guide at the beginning of each book.

Becca
Book Review: Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio
Kehert, Peg
4 stars = Really Good

Peg Kehert told you in her own words what it was like to be a child with polio. She writes how deadly and dangerous polio was in 1949. It was heartfelt and she made friends along her hard journey. I think that kids and adults should read this book.

Manjula
Book Review: The Happiness Project
Rubin, Gretchen
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Even though I loved this book and wanted to eat it up as quickly as possible, I tried to take it slow, absorbing as much as I could. It is packed full of fascinating facts about happiness, and examples of how she improved her life through big and small changes. It inspired me to start my own small happiness project, tracking it daily as she and Benjamin Franklin did.

One of my favorite bits is her four stages of reveling in a moment of
happiness:
+ anticipate with pleasure,
+ savor the moment as I experience it,
+ express my happiness to myself or others, and reflect on a happy memory.

Morgan
Book Review: Rogue Town
Griffin, Dennis N
4 stars = Really Good

It is amazing how just a few people with the right attitude were able to change a city, a county, and impact the entire country for the better. This is a good, and real life story by a man who was in the battle of good vs bad, and the good won in Stamford, CT in this battle that went into the 1980's.

Jim
Book Review: The Compound Effect: Multiplying your Success, One Simple Step at a
Hardy, Darren
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

"The Compound Effect is the principle of reaping huge rewards from a series of small, smart choices. These small, seemingly insignificant steps completed consistently over time will create a radical difference." Darren Hardy does an excellent job in outlining the steps to success. He provides examples that make the concepts very clear as well as recommended action steps in order to help you make right choices and develop the habits and behaviors that will lead to success.

Nancy
Book Review: Articles of War: A Novel
Arvin, Nick
4 stars = Really Good

This book offers a interesting look into the terrifying world that young Americans encountered during WWII warfare. The story is told from a 18 year old small-town Iowa farm boy who is sent to combat in France. Fear quickly consumes George's world as he reacts to the unimaginable devastation around him. I immediately became intrigued with George's situation making it hard to put this novel down. The book is a short but powerful read, and there is much to be said about its honest look at the harrowing realities that people, turned soldiers, experience during wartime.

Curtis
Book Review: The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True
Dawkins, Richard
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Great book. Dr. Dawkins takes everyday questions and answers them both via myth and via science in a manner that is accessible to the average layperson. The height of the book for me was the discussion of "Sod's Law" and the understanding that reacting as if there is a threat when the possibility arises assures survival. Also, I thought it was interesting that we are living the good life (at least I am), and natural selection favors a struggle. The illustrations were also great. A big thumbs up!

vfranklyn