Staff Book Reviews

Book Review: Ready Player One
Cline, Ernest
2 stars = Meh

I read most of it. I was listening to it on eAudio, but it was so long I just couldn't make it to the end. I think this book is aimed at an audience to which I do not belong. Mainly, gamers. I liked the 80s references, but I just couldn't get into the book. Meh. Others may like it, it just wasn't my taste.

vfranklyn
Book Review: The Shadow of the Wind
Ruiz Zafón, Carlos
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This book was amazing! Shadow of the Wind has something for everyone. It is a book within a book and has many parallel stories. It is shadowy, but not vulgar and emotionally disturbing. You will be transported to Barcelona and will be kept on your toes wondering at how the details will work out.
It is great for a book discussion group. Part thriller, mystery, historical fiction with much character development. Not too wordy or detailed.
Enjoy!

Lisa
Book Review: The Shack: A Novel
Young, William
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

The imagination of the author is awesome. After Mack gets an invitation to go to the shack, he encounters a turn-of-events that changed his outlook on life. He was raised with an abusive and left home at an early age. He joined the military got married and life began to happen for him in his senior years. This book has a touch of theology and a connection with God that speaks to anyone's heart. At times I had to keep looking at the fact that this is a fiction book. It made you want to get in touch with God yourself. It kept my attention and anticipation for what was going to happen. I recommend this book for people who need to heal from bad experiences and for those who just want to talk with someone about a good book they have just read.

Gwen
Book Review: One Tuesday Morning
Kingsbury, Karen
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

One Tuesday Morning was recommended to me from my hair dresser and I am thankful to her that she did. Although my husband is not a firefighter, he was an active military man (as a matter of fact reenlisted a month before this attack to the ARMY again) and I knew it would change our personal live very much.
This is the first book I've ever read by Karen Kingsbury, and it was a good one to start with. The story is EXCELLENT and absolutely captivating. It was probably the most heart-wrenching thing I have read in a VERY long time. I can't remember the last book that literally had me choking back tears through a good portion of it!

Set against the backdrop of 9/11, the story is fiction, but could very possibly have happened. In the wake of the 9/11 tragedy and a case of mistaken identity, two families’ lives are completely turned upside down and changed forever. Changed in a way for the worse, but so many ways for the better. Both families learn how to cope. One family must learn how to be a family, while the other family (a close knit family) must learn how to live with sudden and permanent loss. This book will have you giggling one minute and sniffling the next, and then send chills down your spine. I HIGHLY recommend you pick this one up and take the journey I did in a matter of just two weeks (which for me is a very fast read).

That said, I ran out right after the 1st sequel and crapped Beyond Tuesday Morning, and started it right ahead.

Marion
Book Review: The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition
Alexander, Caroline
4 stars = Really Good

Ernest Shackleton and a crew of twenty-seven set sail for the South Atlantic in August of 1914. Their goal was to complete the first crossing on foot of the Antarctic continent. This expedition was one of history's greatest epics of survival. Original glass plate negatives of the expedition survived and provide unforgettable images of the adventure.

J Beck
Book Review: The Hangman's Daughter: A Historical Novel
Pötzsch, Oliver
4 stars = Really Good

Set in the mid-1600, this story revolves around young children who go missing from a small Bavarian village, turn up dead, and a local woman accused of being a witch. The hangman, his daughter, and a local physician become involved in solving this intriguing and suspenseful tale. I love mysteries, suspense, thrillers and historical novels, so this was a fast read that included all elements to my satisfaction. Very much recommend this book!

Margaret
Book Review: Explosive Eighteen
Evanovich, Janet
4 stars = Really Good

I really enjoy this series by Janet Evanovich. This book is easy to read and fun. Great humor and wit! Very fast paced and the characters are interesting. I'd recommend starting with the first book, One for the Money, and if you like it continue on to Two for the Dough, Three to Get Deadly, etc. etc. I tend to laugh out loud when reading the books. They make me smile! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Bobbi
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