Staff Book Reviews
This suspenseful book has great character and plot development without sacrificing "the surprise" ending. The setting on Cape Cod makes it more memorable and enjoyable. Mary Higgins Clark's earlier books were great, but I feel this one is among her highest achievements.
Historic books are so tough to get right. The history might be accurate but the prose downright boring, or the prose might be fantastic, but the facts totally off-base. For "Hattie Big Sky" the author took bits of her grandmother's past, combined it with several trips to Montana, and countless hours of research, to create a fantatic heroine with the flavor of the Old West who lives in that remarkable era of the 1918-1920 where there was still the possibility of obtaining manifest destiny. Hattie's a plucky little 16-year-old whose uncle left her a claim in Montana, all 300+ acres of claim, that she has to 'prove up' by a certain date if she wants to keep the land. She heads out, on her own, for Montana to make good on her uncle's claim. This is literally one of THE BEST historic novels I have read in I don't know how long. It's what you would call 'clean' teen historic lit. It's even got a spiritual angle since Hattie does an awful lot of praying, but you never feel preached at, which is refreshing. Teens and adults alike will enjoy this book, not only because of its heroine, but because it feels fresh and original, and it's always fun knowing a story is inspired by real-life events.
Dellrobia Turnbow and the migrating butterflies that show up in Feathertown have something in common. They are both just surviving their circumstances. The butterflies had their habitat destroyed and inexplicably chose to winter in TN. Dellrobia has married into a family that doesn't understand her or her stifled dreams. She planned an act of desperation that would disgrace her when she happened into the "valley of fire" ablaze with millions of monarch butterflies. Her discovery is perceived differently by the locals, the urbanites and the academics who are drawn to this phenomenon. The ensuing events help Dellarobia to find her voice. Barbara Kingsolver has a reputation for writing about issues relating to the degradation of the planet's natural resources. Readers of her environmental writings will not be disappointed.
This is a great read for preschoolers who are learning their colors. The illustrations are simple and eye-catching as is the refrain "WOW!" said the owl. It keeps kids interested, teaching not only colors, but also about night and day. It's a keeper.
The Hunger Games is the first book in this trilogy and it really sets the stage for a different kind of world. This world is a tough and brutal environment for this population, especially the children who are of age to be picked for the annual Hunger Games. Katniss is the main character in the trilogy and she is a complex young woman. I really enjoyed all of the books in the series and highly recommend them!
I chose this book for my book group to read not knowing much about it. As one person in my book group put it "An unexpected pleasant surprise of a book". Lynne Bryant told a gripping story of a small town in the south that even though things in our country have progressed, they really haven't. It is the story of Roxanne who has her own secrets and how she becomes friends with an elderly black woman and her life is changed forever. Lynne Bryant really knows how to write characters that are so life-like, that you just want to meet someone like Grace, Adelle, and Mattie in person. This is a wonderful book for book groups because there is lots to discuss.
I really loved this book and highly recommend it. I listened to it on CD, but Rhoda Janzen's writing style is just fantastic. She made me laugh and she gave me lots to think about. Even a Mennonite History Primer was funny, but I did learn a few facts about the Mennonites while laughing. I really loved the stories that involved her mom. Even though lots of the book was funny, it was also tough at times to hear how badly her ex-husband had treated her. Rhoda was very lucky she had her family to rely upon. The best line from the book is "I suddenly had the feeling you get when, after a long sea swim, you touch bottom and draw a breath of relief: you made it, land ho, sharks from this point on extremely unlikely." It made me think of some of my hard journeys in life and feeling that same sense of relief.
I liked Bond Girl even if parts of it were formulaic. Erin Duffy did a great job at describing how Wall Street was right before the economy meltdown as well as what is like for a woman to break into the "good old boys network". At times I felt sorry for Alex how she was treated and at other times, I couldn't help but laugh. I do wish Erin Duffy had fleshed out Kate Katz a.k.a Cruella. I would have loved to know more about her. Overall I thought it was a good first effort and I do hope Erin Duffy has plans to write more books.
*Me Before You* had thoughtful meditations on what constitutes a well lived life.
The mom who had taken care of her family and given endless love was missing. She vanished in the crowd in the Seoul station. She was illiterate and elderly. She came to Seoul to celebrate her birthday to save her children's time and money. After her disappearance, the story starts with a view from each family member (daughter, son and husband). Each family member follows her trace to find her. While they are struggling to find her, they realize that the mom was ignored and neglected. For example, they found out about her stroke through their doctor, remaining unaware of her illness since then. In the end, they realize that she holds a crucial role in all of their lives. Her name was Park So-nye; like meaning of her name, she was an ordinary girl like all of us who had many dreams for her future. As time passes by, her name and her dreams were sacrificed for her to take the role of a mother without her children's knowledge. Each narrator describes how he or she saw the mother in their point of view. Throughout this book, we come to question the true meaning of family.
Classic literature. This book deeply engages the issue of intellectual freedom.
Writer and musician Stephen Wade plumbs the deep river of American traditional music as he explores the back stories of 12 field recordings from the Library of Congress’ Archive of Folk Culture. Beginning in 1928, the Library of Congress established the Archive of American Folk Song with the goal of collecting “all the poems and melodies that have sprung from our soil or have been transplanted here, and have been handed down…from generation to generation as a precious possession of our folk.” Passionate collectors such as Robert Gordon, John and Alan Lomax, Zora Neale Hurston, and many more, traveled the nation’s back roads, and beyond, with cumbersome recording equipment to capture the voices and music of everyday folk. In so doing, they created what is arguably the most valuable archive of the American experience.
In his book, Wade examines 12 musical performances, from among the Archive’s more than 150,000 sound recordings, tracing the stories of the performers and the songs, placing them in the social and cultural context of their time, and following the remarkable influence they have had on our modern culture. Using historical sources and well as recent interviews with family descendents and friends of the performers, Wade gives these largely unknown men, women, boys and girls the recognition they have so long deserved as bearers of real American culture. The lives of these performers often were tragic or bittersweet and the recordings they made in coal camps, prisons, churches, front porches and schoolyards both bear witness to the circumstances of their lives and transcend them. We are fortunate that these recordings were made in rural America during the 1920s-40s and that they have been diligently preserved in our national library. We are also fortunate that Stephen Wade has taken the time to dig deeply into the lives of these performers and write about what he has found.
The book is accompanied with a CD containing the performances captured in the original field recordings and discussed in the book’s 12 chapters.
A fairly balanced look at Scientology, its founder, its impact on its adherents, and its influence on Hollywood and beyond. I think anyone who is tempted to investigate this religion further should take a look at the information contained herein.
This book chronicles the traumatic brain injury of Bob Woodruff, an ABC News Anchor, suffered from an I.E.D. when on patrol with our soldiers in Iraq in 2006. Lee describes the many surgeries and therapies her husband endured resulting in an amazing recovery! I feel this book offers much hope to families with loved ones who have a traumatic brain injury.
You either like this book or you don’t. The people who don’t like it seem to criticize the writing style, story line, etc. Really people? This book isn’t popular because it’s a well written book. Personally, I liked it. I liked the story. I liked Anna. I liked Christian. He’s her first boyfriend. He’s hot. She’s naïve. Just go with the flow and read it for what it is.
Aliens have visited the Earth, and departed, leaving behind a number of artifacts of their incomprehensibly advanced technology. The places where such artifacts were left behind are areas of great danger, known as "Zones."
The Zones are laid out in a pattern which suggests that they resulted from the impact of an influence from space which struck repeatedly from the same direction, striking different places as the Earth rotated on its axis.
A frontier culture arises along the margins of these Zones, peopled by "stalkers" who risk their lives in illegal expeditions to recover these artifacts, which do not obey known physical laws. The one most sought after, the "golden sphere", is rumored to have the power to fulfill the deepest human wishes.
Written during the height of the Soviet rein of Russia, the Strugatsky brothers spin a tale that philosophically looks at what true freedom is and the price some are willing to pay for that freedom. One of the best sci-fi novels of its time and a true favorite of mine.
For people wanting to learn more about teh 16th president, this is an eye opening book. Mr. DiLorenzo uses original sources to show the truth about Mr. Lincoln's worldview and agenda. Many people will be scratching their heads, wondering why the history of Lincoln has been so misrepresented.
The book is very readable, and engaging, causing the reader to want to see the whole extent of Lincoln's atrocities, from the suspension of habeus corpus to the destruction of newspapers critical of him and his war to prevent southern independence.
I highly recommend this book, especially for the defenders of Lincoln, as it will show them the truth about Abraham Lincoln.
It was an interesting look into the life of a woman who moved with her husband to the Kansas prairie to homestead land. The difficulties and hardships put a new perspective on life of a homesteader. When she first came she didn't even speak the language. Her and her husband lived in a dirt cave for the first year or so and eventually built a home. The story was written like a diary. Her great granddaughter wrote the book and included pictures of her great grandmother and other relatives. The writer actually grew up in the homestead.
This book mixes western, historical fiction, fantasy, adventure, and romance in a unique and exciting way. The main character gets transported to a different time and has to figure out a way to make it back, all while trying to stay alive. This author is also from Colorado and has based the story in the local area.
I listened to this book on cd, and I loved it! Cas and his friends are a hodgepodge group who ban together. I just couldn't stop listening to this one and I can't wait until I am able to start the second one. The author did a great job telling a wild story involving ghosts and teens. I definitely think people should give this one a try! :)
I loved this book. It is a Historical Novel covering the period in US History after the start of World War II when the government gathered Japanese citizens living across America and placed them into camps. This is a sad time in our history. Japanese Americans were forced out of their homes and their businesses and had to live like Prisoners of War. Colorado had one of these such camps. This book covers the history of the camp and follows families through their horrible ordeal. The actual families are fictional but the history is true and a learning experience within a great read. This book led me to read other great historical fiction books or biographical fiction such as The Day the Falls Stood Still, and The Paris Wife, The Dressmaker, and Loving Frank. All great books that tell you historical truth with fictional characters or fictional conversation surrounding truth. A genre that I have discovered I love and it is all started with Tallgrass.
I absolutely loved this book. This is one of those novels where you wish you could just jump right in and sit next to this group of women at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat. Also possibly one of the funniest weddings ever written! Definitely one of my favorite books of the year.
This was the book Crichton was working on at the time of his death. Preston is known for such books as The Hot Zone, a non-fiction thriller. The premise of this book is the ability to shrink humans down to half an inch in size to do research in rain forest conditions to find new medications. A group of graduate students from New England is invited to tour the facility. They fall victim to the owner of the corporation funding the research , who has ulterior motives and uses his technology for other purposes. A long book, but suspenseful and skillfully executed.
This is a wonderful story that mixes mystery and romance with the world of art and artists. What I found especially interesting were the details about the forgery of paintings and the inner workings of art galleries and museums.
This book captured my attention from the very first page.
Chevalier's first-person style and descriptive writing made for an easy and enjoyable read! The idea that the "girl with a pearl earring" in Vermeer's famous painting was employed in the household as a maid was very intriguing. Chevalier obviously did her research, since her descriptions of Delft in the 17th century coincides with historical accounts/writings. This is a must-read for historical fiction lovers!
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