Staff Book Reviews

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
Book Review: The Emerald Atlas
Stephens, John
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This book had everything a good fantasy needs - magic books, time travel, and orphans - and has a crazy magician thrown in for good measure.

When Kate finds a magical book that allows you to travel through time with the help of a photograph, she and her younger siblings find themselves being abducted by an evil witch more than 30 years earlier. If you like Harry Potter, you'll love this book!

Mary Beth
Book Review: The Beekeeper's Apprentice
King, Laurie R.
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

After reading the classic Sherlock Holmes stories, Laurie R. King wondered what would a woman with a mind like Sherlock Holmes be like? Then she wondered what would happen if they met each other? And so the Mary Russell series of mysteries was born.... The story begins with Holmes retired from London and keeping bees in the country. Russell is walking across the fields with her face in a book, preparing for her university entrance exams. She very nearly steps on him. This is a wonderful book for anyone who enjoyed the original stories, but would like to consider how Holmes would function during the years before, during, and after World War I.

First in the Mary Russell series. Mystery--Historical Mystery--Psychological Suspense.

Karen
Book Review: Letters From Berlin
Dos, Margarete
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

I loved this memoir of a young girl growing up in Berlin in World War II. It is told in a way that makes you feel that you were there, running for the shelters during raids, watching the city you loved decimated by bombs, working in the hospitals and seeing the advance of the Russians. She even spent time in a Russian gulag for reasons unknown, she and her mother were just trying to get to safety. It is a different perspective from many World War II-era books that I've read, and it was an interesting insight into what the German citizens were thinking and feeling.

I appreciated the way that the story was told - it felt like I was sitting next to someone and having them just tell me their life history. The author did a wonderful job transcribing her mother's story, adding little footnotes when necessary and pictures throughout.

Krista
Book Review: Taft 2012: A Novel
Heller, Jason
3 stars = Pretty Good

Timely in publication date if not when I read it, Taft explores politics and the state of America as seen through the eyes of a freshly woken William Howard Taft. The alternate reality aspects of the story are glossed over, which I was disappointed by, and the author seems to have a personal vendetta against processed foods, which seemed shoehorned into a story where it didn't belong, but overall, I don't want the time it took me to read this story back, which is fairly high praise.

Dennis
Book Review: The Forgotten
Baldacci, David
4 stars = Really Good

This book was full of twist and turns. Held my attention and couldn't wait to pick it up again.
Highly recomended.

Rhonda
Book Review: Short Nights Of The Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Phot
Egan, Timothy
4 stars = Really Good

Many readers may have seen Edward Curtis's turn-of-the-last-century sepia photographs of Native Americans--the photograph of Chief Joseph or that of a line of Indians on horseback, small in comparison with the monumental rock formations of the southwest, traversing Canyon de Chelly in Arizona.
Born in 1868, Edward Curtis devoted his life to documenting in photographs and text the life of the North American Indian--in the end, producing a twenty-volume collection of books. Egan's fascinating and informative book narrates the story of Curtis's life and life work, time spent with Indians of the southwest, the northern plains, the northwest coast, and Alaska. Egan relates Curtis's association with, among other well-known Americans, Teddy Roosevelt and J. P. Morgan. Readers interested in the history of photography, in the history of the United States, and in the history of Native Americans would enjoy this book.

Bill
Book Review: River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey
Millard, Candice
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Explore an uncharted tributary of the Amazon River with President Theodore Roosevelt in The River of Doubt by Candice Millard. The adventure encompasses United States history, South American politics, native populations along the Amazon, and the relationship that President Roosevelt had with his son. Learn about the animals and plants along the dangerous Amazon and the near death of the President.

Janie