Staff Book Reviews

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
Book Review: The Lost City of Z
Grann, David
4 stars = Really Good

This is a non-fiction book about explorer Percy Fawcett who, along with his son, disappeared in the Amazon while looking for “Z.” Using information from journals and other sources, the author makes his own trip to the Amazon in an attempt to figure out what happened to Fawcett. I really enjoyed reading this book. Along with being entertaining, I found it very educational. I definitely recommend it!

Heather
Book Review: Bossypants
Fey, Tina
4 stars = Really Good

Tina Fey's account of her journey to become a successful writer/comic/actress is funny and interesting. With sincerity, warmth and wit, she tells about her life without glossing over the awkward and challenging moments. BTW, she's awesome!

Jenny P.
Book Review: Fear Not Tomorrow, God Is Already There: Trusting Him in Uncertain
Graham, Ruth
4 stars = Really Good

Very encouraging book. Lots of examples from her life and the Bible about trusting God about the future and hope for the hard times.

Colleen
Sh*t My Dad Says
Halpern, Justin
4 stars = Really Good

A very funny portrait of a son's relationship with his eccentric father. I loved that the author was able to draw out the love his father had for him through these ridiculous things he said. A clever book and a quick read.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Radical Survivor
Saltzman, Nancy
4 stars = Really Good

This was an interesting book. I liked that it takes place in Colorado Springs. Nancy Saltzman is a very resilient woman. I'm not sure I would have the kind of strength she had if the unthinkable ever happened to me. I guess I was expecting more of a direct 'how to' on grief and loss, but instead the book was more of a teach by example. That's not a bad thing, just not what I was expecting.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Ready Player One
Cline, Ernest
4 stars = Really Good

Great book , I love all the references to the 1980 and 1990.

Mary
Book Review: Dune
Herbert, Frank
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This is my all time favorite book. To quote the book. plots with in plots. Every time I read it (6 times) I find more and more subtly plot lines.

Eric
Book Review: The Casual Vacancy
Rowling, J. K.
2 stars = Meh

I wanted to like this book. Rowling is a good writer and there are some interesting plot lines. However, there were too many stories, with no central story or character to root the reader. I also found myself either not liking or being apathetic toward most of the characters. The common factor to all the characters and plot threads is the shared geographical location; it doesn't seem to be enough to pull it all together. It felt like a slice-of-life account rather than a novel. The Casual Vacancy would be a good read for a book group--perhaps discussion with more enlightened readers would help make sense of it.

Karen
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Shaffer, Mary Ann
4 stars = Really Good

This epistolary novel is a quick read. At the beginning of 1946 a young newspaper columnist named Juliet receives a letter from a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. She soon finds herself on the Channel Island of Guernsey meeting the members in person to learn about their island and find out the impact the recent German occupation has had on each of their lives.

Kelley
Book Review: Notorious Nineteen
Evanovich, Janet
4 stars = Really Good

Stephanie is at it again – blowing up cars, breaking and entering, being pursued by a lunatic, landing in a grave, and being rescued by Ranger among other things. She and Lula, once again, are searching for someone who has mysteriously disappeared, while at the same time are dealing with some of the nut-jobs from the Trenton area. Steph does have a tender heart toward them though. Grandma Mazur is once again instrumental in her successful sleuthing. Stephanie is slightly less conflicted this time about Ranger and Morelli. Hmm…

It’s a fun and easy read, and some parts made me laugh out loud

Robin
Book Review: Loving Frank
Horan, Nancy
4 stars = Really Good

LOVING FRANK is the dramatic story of architect Frank Lloyd Wright's affair with a married woman in the early 1900s. Based on real facts, the novel explores their love and motivations. The ending is jolting and unexpected...gripping, but true.

Karen