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Staff Book Reviews

The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
MacArthur, John
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception by John MacArthur is a must-read for Christians concerned with truth. In a politically correct world, “truth” tends to be described as relative to each person. Whether a person believes that gravity is “true” or not, the apple WILL fall from the tree. With the same certainty, MacArthur states that the Bible is God’s unambiguous truth - whether one believes that or not.

His introduction is titled “Why the Truth is Worth Fighting For.” The following eight chapters describe aspects of what is happening in our world today, especially with regards to Postmodernism, the Emergent Church Movement, and False Teachers.

I found John MacArthur’s book refreshingly honest, courageous, and like a drink of cool water. The book reminded me that Christianity is all about truth, not personal opinion. After reading this book, I am resolved that truth will always be important, and worthy to defend.

Gwenda
Book Review: The Book of Old Houses
Graves, Sarah
4 stars = Really Good

Maine towns are always a quaint setting for an adventurous tale and this book delivers. The remodeling situations that arise are hilarious and the book has useful "tool time" like hints sprinkled in at the beginning of most of the chapters. I found myself really looking forward to reading the next hint. There are quirky characters that you get to know, care about, and even want to emulate. The plot moves forward at a steady pace but sometimes for me mysteries throw in too many details and drag on just a little too long.

Patti
Book Review: Darth Bane: Path of Destruction
Karpyshyn, Drew
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

A very gripping Star Wars Novel that provides insight and historical background into the origins of the Sith. Written in a suspenseful manner, this is the first of a 3 book series that is one of my favorites in the Star Wars universe.

Chris
Book Review: Boot & Shoe
Frazee, Marla
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This is my daughter's new favorite! Two cute pups, a pesky squirrel, and a funny sweet reuinion. We've read it many times and still love it!

J.F.
Book Review: Shades Of Grey: The Road to High Safron
Fforde, Jasper
4 stars = Really Good

Incredibly entertaining book, with quintessentially British humor - convoluted, mocking and a bit dark. Though Jasper Fforde’s other books are enjoyable (the Thursday Next and Nursery Crime series, for example), I found this one more coherent and the concepts more intriguing.

Read it to discover why spoons are a highly prized personal possession; why “chasing the green” is discouraged; whether the “Something That Happened” is ever explained; and why Eddie, the protagonist, is sent to do a chair census in a town on the edges of civilization.

Mary
Book Review: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Sloan, Robin
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

At the crossroads of book lovers, code-cracking, and the digital future of data (and the power of the Google empire), you'll find Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. Set in San Francisco, this story follows a book store clerk and his Googler love-interest as they try to solve a secret society's ancient mystery with all the tools at hand, both antique and innovative. If you consider yourself both a book nerd AND a tech nerd, you will love this book.

Esti
Book Review: Ashenden
Wilhide, Elizabeth
4 stars = Really Good

I did enjoy this story of a house and the people who lived in it and loved it. The book opens in present day when the current owners are trying to decide what to do with it after inheriting it from their aunt. We then go back in time to 1775 and the building of the house, and then each subsequent chapter deals with another point in the history of the house, tying together nicely at the end. The house itself is the main character in the story, and you are actually rooting for it to survive and flourish.

Of course, some of the chapters were much more interesting than others, and I had to do a bit of flipping back to remember who characters were as they occasionally would pop up several chapters apart.

All in all, I give this book a solid 4 stars. Fans of similar books such as The Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland should enjoy this.

Krista
Let's Pretend This Never Happened
Lawson, Jenny
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This book was hilarious. It's the book I wish I was clever enough to write. At one point I was laughing so hard I was crying. It might very well be the funniest book I've ever read. I highly highly highly recommend this book! Oh, and it's sweet and sad, too. But mostly funny. Did I mention it was funny?

vfranklyn
Book Review: This World We Live In
Pfeffer, Susan Beth
3 stars = Pretty Good

As the third book in the Last Survivors series, I was looking forward to how to characters from the first two books would come together following their own experiences of the disaster. I found myself disappointed in this respect. While the book was engaging, it was missing the "can't put it down" quality of the other two and, after finally having the first book's main character meet the second book's main character, I was left feeling that I could have skipped the second book without really missing anything. That's not to say that the second book isn't good, it just isn't necessary to read it before reading this book.
Where this book did a good job was in tying up the loose ends from the first book. I definitely felt that the story was complete and, as such, am a little confused by the fact that there appears to be a fourth book in this series now.

Erin
Book Review: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
Grahame-Smith, Seth
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

I read this book before I saw the movie. It is much better then the movie, books usually always are, LOL. It has much more in it and is way more cooler.

Erin
Where'd you go, Bernadette
Semple, Maria
4 stars = Really Good

Where'd you go, Bernadette is part comedy, part mystery, but definitely all enjoyable. Bernadette lives in Seattle with her daughter and husband (who works at Microsoft.) She is somewhat agoraphobic and when faced with a trip to Antarctica with her family, starts to behave erratically and disappears.
The book uses many email messages to tell the story and in this case, it works very well.

Amy
Book Review: The Invention of Everything Else
Hunt, Samantha
4 stars = Really Good

This book tells the story [historical fiction] of final years of Nickola Tesla's life. I was swept up in the journey and couldn't wait to see what happened next.

Nina
Book Review: The Diviners
Bray, Libba
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

The Diviners is the amazing first part of a new series by Libba Bray (Going Bovine, Gemma Doyle trilogy, etc.) about Evie, a young flapper who is sent to NYC to live with her uncle after getting in trouble back home in Ohio. It turns out that Evie has special powers...and she's not the only one. A serial killer has been terrorizing the citizens of New York, committing ritualized murders, and Evie, along with her uncle and a couple of pals, must catch the killer before he can commit the final murder that will bring about the end of the world. Recommended for older teens...this book is scary! (And scary
good!)

Jenna
Book Review: The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again
Tolkien, J. R. R.
4 stars = Really Good

I quite enjoyed this book. I listened to it on audio, BBC version. The music was very cheesy, but I ended up laughing at it instead of being annoyed. The acting was very good, except Gandalf didn't sound nearly as good in this portrayal as he does in the movies. Still, thumbs up!

vfranklyn
Book Review: Sh*t My Dad Says
Halpern, Justin
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Not for the easily offended, this book is a real gem of modern comedy. It is episodic, which allows easy reading in the few minutes you have while waiting in line someplace, or any time you need a good chuckle. It is obvious that the author's father cares about him and his happiness, but he definitely shows it through heavy doses of "tough love" that will have you laughing out loud as you read. Seriously, don't read this anywhere you need to stay quiet!

Adam C.
Book Review: Texas Gothic
Clement-Moore, Rosemary
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Amy Goodnight's family is far from normal. She comes from a line of witches, but tries her best to stay far outside the family business. Her summer gig? Ranch-sitting for her aunt with her wacky but beautiful sister. Only the Goodnight Ranch is even less normal than it normally is. Bodies are being discovered, a ghost is on the prowl, and everywhere she turns, the hot neighbor cowboy is in her face.

I've read this book twice, which is really saying something. This book has everything I like- a little mystery, romance, fantasy, and a lot of humor. I actually laughed out loud in public, especially at the part when Amy, our heroine, chases a 'delinquent cow' through a field wearing only her underwear and a pair of over sized galoshes. She's very snarky and I love it. I highly recommend this for fun read!

Cara
Book Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Alexie, Sherman
4 stars = Really Good

The main character of this book is Arnold "Junior" Spririt. Junior lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation where getting a good education isn't as important as Junior thinks it should be. During his Freshman year of high school, Junior decides to to transfer from the rez school, Wellpinit, to Reardan, where the only other Indian is the school mascot! As you can imagine those first days and weeks are tough for Arnold at Reardan. But, eventually he does start to develop some important relationships. Junior's overcomes so many obstacles throughout this book and Alexie tells a wonderful story through compassion and humor.

Russ
Book Review: Secrets
Heitzmann, Kristen
4 stars = Really Good

This author has been recommended to me for a while and I've finally started reading fer books. Why did I wait???? She is an excellent writer, and her books are full of suspense, connectedness, and the search for meaning. I am reading two of her series now, and find that every book of Kristen Heitzmann's is an excellent read!

Barb
Book Review: The Time Keeper
Albom, Mitch
4 stars = Really Good

This fictional book creates an interesting entwining of 3 peoples lives, each with unique circumstances, and brings them all together in unexpected ways. Most intriguing was the fictional character who created the concept of how we keep time, and his demise because of this.

Deborah
Book Review: The Night Circus
Morgenstern, Erin
4 stars = Really Good

I really enjoyed this book. It was very descriptive and I felt like I was in a dream when I was reading it. The only issues I have with it were the disjointed timeline was confusing at times and the ending dragged on for too long. Still, I'd recommend it.

vfranklyn
Book Review: The Book Thief
Zusak, Markus
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Great book! I wasn't interested in the subject matter at first, but had to read for a book club. After I started it, I was hooked! I love that the book is written from the perspective of death. Zusak has a magical way with words.
Highly recommend!

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

Fantastic book! Lots of fun, with great 80s references, as seen from a dystopian future in which most of reality has been supplanted by the far more pleasant world of OASIS (a VR interface). This book will appeal to gamers and fans of 80s pop culture.

There were a few moments where I felt like some elements of the story were being brushed over (without giving away too much, there were some deaths that I felt were not acknowledged much in the text, though this is completely in character with the POV character's detachment from reality). But these were powerful elements that might have been more character-defining and perhaps might have demonstrated more about his motivation. This is why I could not, in good conscience, give the book the 5 stars. It could be just my own personal preferences coming through. Some people might be totally fine with that.

I listened to the audiobook version, narrated by Wil Wheaton, who does a great job with the characterizations and is completely believable as the first-person narrator. Not only that, but it really sounded like he was enjoying himself while narrating the book. And of course, that always makes it more fun as a listener.

Shannon
Book Review: The Thieves of Ostia: A Roman Mystery
Lawrence, Caroline
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

When Flavia's neighbor's dog is killed, she insists on finding the culprit.

She gets help from her neighbor, Jonathan; freed slave, Nubia; and mute beggar boy, Lupus. Together these friends explore first-century Roman life and culture while solving an intricate mystery. Details of the time period are woven into the story seamlessly. But the friendships and dialogue are timeless and relatable. Every chapter is a cliffhanger and the action is non-stop in this excellent series (The Roman Mysteries). Some violent themes may be too mature for younger readers; I recommend these fantastic reads for nine to ninety. My whole family can't put them down! You'll be glad there are seventeen sequels.

Elisabeth
Book Review: The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth
Robbins, Alexandra
3 stars = Pretty Good

This book was interesting but took too long to wade through. I read as much of it as I could but it seemed to be repeating itself. Meh. It did make me afraid for my daughter when she eventually goes to school and has to deal with the politics and drama of girl culture. I also didn't think the portion of the book about teacher cliques was necessary, when the title implies a book about students.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Divergent
Roth, Veronica
4 stars = Really Good

I liked it. It started off a bit slow for my taste and it took awhile for me to immerse myself in its reality, but once I did I quite enjoyed it. It gets good about two thirds of the way through and has a very good ending, although I'm left with a spoiler question I won't address here, except to say, why the heck didn't she...?

vfranklyn