Adult Book Reviews

The Cozy Life
Edberg, Pia
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

It's so easy to get caught up in daily life and, in my case, neuroses. The Danish concept of hygge offers a way to enjoy the simple things by making an change to coziness. It's a conscious change and can be applied to all walks of life. Now I find myself asking if something is hygge throughout the day. I plan to use some of the suggestions, such as keeping a clean, cozy house, thinking more positive, and restarting my gratitude journal. Good book.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Messenger's Legacy
Brett, Peter V.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In a series that’s full of exposition and backstory, I found it a little odd that these extraneous details weren’t relegated to side-story novellas so the plot of the main series of books could focus on the current action. What’s even more curious is that Messenger’s Legacy, a side-story novella in this series, doesn’t explore anything new or interesting that hadn’t already been covered in the main books. The only new information I learned in this novella was slightly more detail about bog and swamp demons, which seems unnecessary with all things considered.

Following somewhat minor characters from The Warded Man (who haven’t appeared in the series since), Messenger’s Legacy shows it is easier to survive in demon-infested nights than the series initially indicated. While I’m not sure if any of these details will come into play in the main-line books, it does help expand the world-building just a little bit more than if this story hadn’t been included at all. As always, the demon-infused action is exciting and a strength of the author’s writing.

I’m sure there are much more interesting backstories and side-stories to tell in this series, so it’s curious that this one was written about at all. I’d much rather read about the original Deliverer or the society that crumbled away in the desert (leaving behind powerful wards in the process). Sure, there’s some personality explored in this story that helps pull the reader back to less god-like individuals and their struggles against the demons. However, with so many more interesting stories to tell, I’d suggest that anyone reading this series can skip this novella and not miss anything important.

A curious side-story that doesn’t add anything to the series, I give Messenger’s Legacy 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
The Daylight War
Brett, Peter V.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I’m glad to see that it only took two books for Peter V. Brett to cut down on some of the extraneous flashbacks and exposition in the Demon Cycle series. While whole chunks of The Warded Man could have been cut with nothing significant lost in the process, and The Desert Spear had what appeared to be an unrelated storyline that weaved through the narrative, The Daylight War has a minimal amount of this “fluff.” Granted, there is still some amount of world-building that helped to explain yet another aspect of this setting, but it’s minimal in comparison to its predecessors.

Additionally, I already knew this series was an adult fantasy from my experience with The Warded Man and The Desert Spear. These are tame when compared to the third entry in the series. The sex in this book made the previous two look like nuns in comparison. Sure, it could be argued that it “adds to the plot” in a few spots, but I’m just used to it at this point. At any rate, the differences between the two different cultures hearken back to the European and Middle-eastern cultures that undoubtedly influenced them, which also would explain the adult nature of these books.

As for the plot, the first two books seemed to set up the far superior plot in this book. While The Warded Man followed one deliverer’s path, and The Desert Spear explored an equally-gifted deliverer from a different culture, The Daylight War revealed how similar—and how different—these two men are. I don’t know if I liked the “mindreading” aspect of these individuals’ new power, as it seemed a little like lazy writing at times, but the addition of the warded skills to take on a severe threat from the demons was entertaining as always.

An adult fantasy that has finally cut a lot of the fluff of its predecessors, I give The Daylight War 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
Mecha Samurai Empire
Tieryas, Peter
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM THE PUBLISHER***

For a genre that’s usually associated with Japanese anime and manga, I haven’t seen many “mecha” novels (or movies, for that matter, with Pacific Rim (2013) being the only notable example). Consequently, when I received an advance reader copy of Mecha Samurai Empire, I was looking forward to reading it. While there were still a few grammatical and proofreading errors in this book—of which I’m sure have been fixed in the final version—portions of the plot didn’t sit well with me. My main qualm is the main character who really isn’t good at anything but still gets to pilot a huge and complicated piece of machinery just because he wants to.

A clear and obvious mix between The Man in the High Castle and Neon Genesis Evangelion, the few strong elements of this book were in the mecha battles themselves. The problem is that the references sprinkled throughout are so obvious (I had to roll my eyes at the Mega Man 2 reference) as to distract from the story. I don’t mind if other stories influence writers, but at least make their influence less obvious when crafting something “new.” At its worst, Mecha Samurai Empire holds to all the tropes and clichés present in mecha anime and manga. If you're into that kind of thing, this probably isn't a problem.

While I still enjoy the spectacle of giant robots fighting, a good story needs to come down to its characters. Since I didn’t particularly like the main character, I tried to grab onto some of the minor ones. Unfortunately, while some of the character arcs were highly predictable, most of the minor characters didn’t stand out either (and the one that did was super annoying). Just like Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018) made me lose faith that we’ll see live-action adaptations of mecha anime like Evangelion or Gurren Lagann, Mecha Samurai Empire shows we still have a way to go before novels of this genre are prevalent.

An obvious mashup with pretty good action, I give Mecha Samurai Empire 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Awards:
Book Review: A Woman Is No Man
Rum, Etaf
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Wow. This book blew my mind! So gripping and powerful, a glimpse into a culture I would otherwise never be privy to. Isra and Deya were both so brave. One doomed and the other prevailing. I learned a lot from them and from this book.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Les Misérables
Hugo, Victor
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

One of the most profound pieces of literature ever crafted, simply due to the fact that the main character is a metaphor for Jesus Christ. This masterpiece of prose has been well documented, however, it relates human tragedy and a profound love as only Mr. Hugo himself could have imagined the reader could absorbed. Cosette is a wonderful character as well as lil' Gavroche and he introduces unknown things to an American audience if they ever read books anymore.;)

Reviewer's Name: Mike S.
The Remedy for Love
Roorbach, Bill
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The story was cute enough, lawyer meets girl, girl is eccentric, lawyer has conflicting feelings about his ex. However, the dialogue was sometimes vexing to get through.

Reviewer's Name: C. Sandoval
The Honeymoon Effect
Lipton, Bruce H.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In his book The Honeymoon Effect, Dr. Bruce Lipton speaks about the cellular effects of love. He teaches readers that what the brain interprets as being in love, or loving someone very deeply, causes a cascade effect of enhanced cellular healing, release of a higher level of positive chemicals throughout the body, and a notable increase in general well-being of the body, mind, and spirit. After reviewing the science behind the emotion of love and its effects, Dr. Lipton teaches readers how to create more love in their lives. Thus, he makes the case that they can create happier, healthier lives for themselves and those they care about through fostering this important emotion.
I enjoyed this book for its sensible science, interesting premise, and useable teachings. I would recommend this book to readers age 16 and up who wish to gain a greater understanding of the science of the emotion of love.

Reviewer's Name: Rebecca D
EFT

EFT

Evans, Janet
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In her book EFT, Janet Evans describes one of science's biggest breakthroughs in stress-relief: the Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT. EFT is a method of processing and releasing emotions which combines the latest in modern psychology with Eastern acupressure points. Research has shown that by describing what one's emotions are, or the problem being experienced and how it makes one feel, while tapping on a series of acupressure points, the cortisol response in the body is significantly reduced.
After describing what EFT is and how to do this stress-relief technique, Ms. Evans provides readers with a list of 10 experiments to try in stress-relief to prove that, as she says, "Your mind creates your life." This book is interactive, with the experiment portions comprising most of the book. After a brief introduction to each challenge by giving the scientific backing for it, Ms. Evans invites readers to try for themselves and see how their mind helps them create, or re-create, their life.
I enjoyed this book. Ms. Evans's writing style is concise, clear, and her EFT experiments are enjoyable as well as helpful. This book is useful for all ages, as stress-relief is important for everyone.

Reviewer's Name: Rebecca D
E2

E2

Grout, Pam
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

E2 is a book about the fusion of the common wisdom of positive thinking with modern-day science. The premise Mrs. Grout lays out for readers begins with her book's prologue, Albert Einstein's famous theorem e = mc2 (energy = mass* the speed of light)(squared). In her book, Mrs. Grout presents the scientific energetic evidence for why actions such as positive thought so incredibly shape people's lives. By teaching readers how easy it is to influence the energies around them thorough positive thought and belief, she shows how to change one's life for the better.

I enjoyed this book very much, because it is so inspirational and helpful in creating a more positive life. I would recommend this book to any reader looking to influence their life positively. The age range appropriate would be from 15 to any adult age.

Reviewer's Name: Rebecca D
The Tapping Solution
Ortner, Nick
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In his book "The Tapping Solution", Nick Ortner introduces readers to a valuable tool for, as he says, "stress-free living". While unfortunately, no life is free from stress, the Tapping Solution (or EFT) is a method in which modern psychology is combined with eastern acupressure points on the face, chest, underarms, and hand to release stress when tapped upon them. Why does this method work? Multiple studies have shown that one of the greatest benefits of acupuncture and acupressure is cortisol reduction in the body (the stress hormone). When tapping these EFT points while saying aloud the emotion one is experiencing, the cortisol has been shown to significantly drop in the body.
This has multiple applications, as Mr. Ortner goes on to explain, including aid with anxiety relief, stress relief, and even help for those days that don't go right. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to reduce the stress in their life and re-wire their brain.

Reviewer's Name: Rebecca D
The Biology of Belief
Lipton, Bruce H.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In this book about the effect of thoughts and belief on the body's cells, Dr. Lipton compellingly shows the science of positivity. A fascinating and encouraging read for teens and above, this book encourages positive thinking for all. The case Dr. Lipton makes, backed by his own research, is "the more we put happiness into our thoughts, the more happiness our bodies experience", meaning release of positive chemicals, less stress, and better healing. This is an important book that encourages positive thinkers and those working to change their thinking. This is because as Mr. Lipton says, positivity heals.

Reviewer's Name: Rebecca D
The Drawing of the Three
King, Stephen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

While it took me a while to get used to The Gunslinger , I was able to dive right in with The Drawing of the Three as I continue reading this Dark Tower series. Personally, I think the simplicity of the story and the immediacy of the danger helped to hook me from the start. Unlike the first book in the series, The Drawing of the Three has a solid set of relatable characters that are introduced just fast enough to get used to their unique personal challenges. If anything, these individuals piqued my interest, and I’m curious to see where their story goes from here.

One aspect of this book I found to be extremely entertaining was the action sequences. When there were stakes on the line, and things had to happen, the resulting action in these plot-moving points was both intense and hilarious. Generally, I am not much of a fan of the “fish out of water” approach to characters, but King makes it work here with The Gunslinger traveling back and forth between the worlds to take advantage of our modern wonders that help him survive in the fantastical world of the Dark Tower.

I also have to give kudos to the narrator of this work, Frank Muller, as his voice acting brought every character to vibrant life via their accents and verbal tics. I had no doubt who was speaking as he wove the story through his reading. Although, the one qualm I had with this book was that one of the characters was a bit grating on the nerves. While this added some excellent conflict to the story, it was annoying having to hear their manic voice for as long as I had to. I’m just glad that they weren’t the first character pulled into the Gunslinger’s world. Otherwise, I don’t know how I could have kept listening.

A superior and straightforward story in the Dark Tower series, I give The Drawing of the Three 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
Roadwork
Bachman, Richard
2 stars = Meh
Review:

I wasn’t aware of Stephen King’s Richard Bachman pseudonym until I picked up this book to read on a whim. While it’s clear all of King’s technical prowess is still present in Bachman’s work, the “king of horror” gained a chance to write outside his genre. Of course, King has done this before with a few different books (like Hearts in Atlantis , The Green Mile , and The Dark Tower series), but writing under a pseudonym seemed to unleash an amount of cynicism I’ve hardly seen in King’s writing before.

Written in the early 1980s, Roadwork exhibits all the identifying marks of a cynic who has been over-saturated with consumerism. The need to have a job to support a family by buying a house that needs to be filled with the accouterments of modern living is a bit too much for some people. This is especially true for those who don’t quite meet the standard of the "American dream” in their own mind and have no other course other than to wallow in self-pity. By now, it’s practically a tale as old as the industrial revolution. Unfortunately, this means Roadwork doesn’t stand out much in my mind as an original story.

Perhaps Roadwork was one-of-a-kind back when King wrote it, but I doubt that was the case. Heck, the beat poets of the ‘60s and ‘70s certainly wrote about separating themselves from the toxic consumerism shoved down their throats. Roadwork almost felt like a “paint by number” novel that covered all the basic items in a story of this kind, checking each box until it reaches its obvious and inevitable conclusion. While it was nice to read something by Stephen King that wasn’t necessarily beholden to the fame of his name, I’m not sure if I would have read it if he wasn’t attached to it at all.

A so-so cynical work that is hardly original enough to mention, I give Roadwork 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
BlacKkKlansman
Stallworth, Ron
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

As someone who lives in Colorado Springs and calls this town my home, I was intrigued by Ron Stalworth's story after watching the 2018 Spike Lee movie based on the undercover investigation into the local Ku Klux Klan. Sure, I didn’t live in the Springs during the period covered in this book, but I did have enough understanding of the town to know the locations referenced throughout. To think that I live close to some of the areas that could have been affected by cross burnings or other Klan events is a little eerie to me, mostly because it’s something I rarely think about.

For those who have seen the movie first, this book covers everything that made it to the big screen but also adds some details about other events not directly linked to the Klan (but were still relevant to the discussion of race in the area). I’ll admit that Colorado Springs is pretty white when it comes right down to it. However, there’s still plenty of diversity in this town due to the large military population that occupies Colorado Springs’ five military installations. I know some residents were offended that such a story about the Springs could exist, but the book puts quite a bit of it into perspective (the Klan only had a few dozen people in town).

Admittedly, this book was more of an eye-opener to how the Klan evolved from the violent organization from the reconstruction era of the Civil War to the "political” party that it is today. Sure, they are trying to make the focus more on racial segregation than straight-up genocide like they used to endorse, but it really comes down to old thinking in a new world. It’s like mixing different colors of Play-do: once they’re mixed together, they aren’t going to separate back out to the individual colors.

An eye-opening look into the evolution of the Klan, I give BlacKkKlansman 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Prentice Alvin
Card, Orson Scott
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

As I’ve been reading through the Tales of Alvin Maker series, I have found it interesting to see what big societal issues have been covered so far. While Seventh Son tackled religion and Red Prophet delved into politics and war, Prentice Alvin bit off a big chunk of racism and tried to address it in a way that’s half fantasy and half historical fiction. Sure, there’s still some semblance of the religion content present in this book that informs the racism dialogue. Still, these large issues end up taking a back seat to the more fascinating aspects of the titular character learning how to control his incredible powers.

In fact, this might be my favorite book of the series so far. It’s always more entertaining to watch a character come into the depth of their abilities, and Prentice Alvin has this in spades (both metaphorically and literally). While there weren’t many instances of Alvin directly being affected by a conflict that would require him to grow as a character, there were enough inevitable plot points that made me wonder how he would handle the situation. These twists helped to enforce the world-building that Orson Scott Card has excelled at for some time.

Perhaps the reason why I like this book as compared to its two predecessors comes down to how it focused more on the “magic” of this alternate history and less on the similarities to the American historical context. I’ve never been much of a fan of historical fiction, but I do appreciate explaining the events of the past through the lens of magical realism or fantasy. It’s likely why I’ll keep reading this series for the time being. At the very least, I’m curious how Alvin will grow from here, as he’s developed into a strong character who can basically do anything he wants.

A magical take on addressing the racism of America’s past, I give Prentice Alvin 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Cover
Lutz, Lisa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Alexandra Witt doesn’t take a position as an English teacher at the not-that-illustrious- boarding school Stonebridge with the aim to turn the institution on its head, but that’s exactly what she does. After witnessing some distressing interactions between the boys and the girls at school, Witt encourages the women to stand up for themselves. The boys, of course, aren’t having that, and before they all know it,an all-out gender war is taking place at Stonebridge and all involved are hurtling toward an unhappy ending.

This was so much fun! First, the gender politics were spot on. This is definitely a book for the “Me Too” era. I went to a public school, but I can totally see a scaled down version of this sort of thing happening there, or, unfortunately, anywhere. Lutz handles some very sensitive topics pretty deftly, and creates engaging and authentic characters. Foreshadowing early in the book makes it pretty clear that things will end badly, and I found myself racing through the book to find out what happened. The end was pretty weak: the story, while not exactly grounded, felt believable until suddenly it felt like an episode of Riverdale or Gossip Girl or…pick any teen show on the CW, I guess.

TLDR: If you are looking for a suspenseful read with some feminist flavorings, you won’t go wrong here. Older teens will find a lot to like here as well. 4 stars – I really enjoyed it.

Thanks to Ballantine Books and Netgalley for the eARC which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. The Swallows will be released on 13 August, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Hart, Rob
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Imagine a world where Amazon controls pretty much everything (its really not hard to do, right?). They are the only large employer, and they have managed to put just about every other retail company out of business. Most folks who need employment have to head to their nearest Cloud center (Amazon = Cloud), apply, and hope against hope they are accepted. This is the fate of our two main protagonists, Zinnia and Paxton. Paxton wants more than anything to keep his head down until he can get patent money for his invention, a business that was going well until Cloud forced him out of business. Zinnia’s reasons for working at Cloud are a bit more inspired (it would depend on your perspective) as she’s been hired to try to take Cloud down from the inside. As Paxton and Zinnia are thrown together, both will come to realize that the Cloud was more insidious than they thought and they’ll have to sacrifice more than they’re comfortable with the bring it down.

I read this book right after watching John Oliver’s sendup of this sort of corporate culture and dang, Rob Hart did his research. His version of Amazon matches quite closely with what Oliver presents as the actual version of Amazon. I mean, it’s not great. Its really fascinating to read this near-future take on what Amazon and their ilk could mean for our country and economy as, like I said, this is a future that is really easy to imagine.

The book takes turn between Zinnia, Paxton and Gibson Wells’ (think Jeff Bezos) narratives. The characters are believable and likable enough (save Wells, but that’s obviously intentional) that I was not overly fond of one perspective over the other and never found myself racing through one perspective to get to a different one. Nonetheless, the book ends up being a quick read. It was sort of John Grisham meets Brave New World, and I was not mad about it. It’d make a fantastic movie, and clearly someone agrees with me as the author thanks Ron Howard and Bryan Glazer in his afterword.

If you are looking for a quick summer read that’ll make you think (but not too hard), this dystopian thriller will suit your needs. 4 stars – I really liked it!

Thanks to Crown and Netgalley for the free eARC which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. The Warehouse will be release on 20 August, and you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
Brooks, Max
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Max Brooks is an agent of the United Nations, tasked with collecting the stories of those who lived through the Zombie War. Having broken out when a young Chinese boy was bitten while swimming, it spread through illegal organ and human trafficking, hidden by governments, until a massive outbreak occurs in South Africa, shining a light in a plague that would bring humanity to the brink of extinction. Max Brooks’ World War Z chronicles the stories of people from all walks of life, from military scientists, to blind old Japanese men, to astronauts aboard the ISS, and their stories of how they survived the terrors of the assault of the living dead.

Reviewer's Name: Ryan P.
Awards:
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Twain, Mark
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A classic piece of literature, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is a wonderful depiction of life along the Mississippi river and times past. Huckleberry Finn is a wild, adventurous, and self-sufficient young man who finds his way along the river with an escaped slave. Stealing, superstitions, and deception all describe the journey Huck Finn and Jim take together. They encounter rivaling families, con artists, and Tom Sawyer in their attempt to get north. Mark Twain paints a vivid picture of life in the South with slavery in a way that shows that not everyone believed the same thing. A truly fun and interesting story, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a book that will interest even the most disinterested reader.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K

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