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Adult Summer Reading


Why should kids have all the fun this summer? You too can have fun by participating in the Bozeman Public Library's Adult Summer Reading Program “Literary Elements”
June 14–August 18.


Pick up a reading log at the Reference Desk, read 6 books per log, and enter your completed log (or logs) for a drawing to be held August 19. Also, this year we giving you the opportunity to write short reviews for books you have read. For every review you drop off you will receive a $1 fine forgiveness coupon. Reviews will be posted (with just your first name listed) to the Library’s website for others to read.

There is no limit on the number of logs or reviews you can turn in. So pick up a log, a stack of review forms, and start reading for your chance to win some great prizes.  

Book Reviews - 2014

 

 

 

 

 

  

BOOK REVIEWS - 2013

Horse Boy by Rupert Isaacson (5 Shovels)
I loved this book! It was amazing on so many levels. As a parent, I could relate to wanting to do the best for your child, but I cannot imagine going literally to the ends of the earth (outer Mongolia) in search of shamans, on horseback no less, to heal an autistic child. This book is a fantastic read but Rupert’s voice on the audio version makes it all come to life on a new level.
Review by Claire E

Foundation by Mercedes Lackey (5 Shovels)
Foundation is my favorite story about the kingdom of Valdemar. Young Mags, a slave from a gem mine, is rescued by his Companion and is carried away to the new Heralds’ Collegium to begin his training. The book is full of intrigue and is foundational for the early history of Valdemar.
Review by Elise T

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson (5 Shovels)
Brandon Sanderson never ceases to amaze me with his brilliant ideas. In a steampunk style world, where the USA is the United Islands, the Master chooses men and women as Rithmatists. With their trusty sticks of chalk, they form defenses and mount attacks against terrifying wild chalklings, 2-D chalk creatures who can rip the skin from you if they get on you.
Review by Elise T

Storm Warning by Mercedes Lackey (4 Shovels)
Storm Warning is almost my favorite of Lackey’s Valdemar books. Karal is not a great mage or warrior. He has no special powers. He is simply the secretary to a Priest of Karse and yet he is a vital support to many “stronger” people. Altogether a delightful read!
Review by Elise T

Storm Rising by Mercedes Lackey (4 Shovels)
This was a wonderful read! The key characters in this were all engaging and fun to read. The serious focus of survival, both on a personal and world-wide scales, made good reasons to keep turning the pages.
Review by Elise T  

Inferno by Dan Brown (0 shovels)
Inferno is Dan Brown’s third installment of the tag-team due Robert Langdon and whoever the girl that has a name that starts with “S” sidekick. Robert, a Symbologist working at Harvard University, finds himself in another only-he-can-save-the-world scenario. It is a lot like The Beautiful Mind except Robert never realizes how absurd the situations he finds himself are. Ultimately, the book makes the reader infer that Dan Brown has an agenda against stopping the world population. But that simply reflects the reality that Dan Brown and other rich individuals typically think that more people will take away from what they have, even though they have it all now.
Review by Gregory G.

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund (5 shovels)
This book is a futuristic rendition of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. The main character, Elliot, is forced to make a choice between her allotted role & love. The world is changing & classes are explored as the story & romance evolve. I loved this book!
Review by Renee G.

Matched by Ally Condie (3 shovels)
Matched is the first in the trilogy by Ally Condie. Comparable to The Hunger Games or Divergent series, and especially The Giver this book introduces a dystopian society where three main young teenage characters begin to question what “the society” has always insisted is the one and only way. Again, there is a triangular love story that is introduced but not solved. I hurried to read the second book in the series, but was not captivated until the third and final of the series. My teenage daughter read this series quite quickly, but agreed that the second, Crossed, was difficult to get through.
Review by Renee G.

Reached by Ally Condie (2 shovels)
Reached is the final book in the trilogy by Ally Condie. This book concludes the attempt of the Pilot (and others) to save the world from a crazy, controlling government. This book fills in all the questions, completes the cliff-hanging love triangle, and gives closure to the series. I enjoyed the symbolism and thought-provoking issues that this series, and especially this final book, presented.
Review by Renee G.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult (5 shovels)
One of my guilty pleasures is reading novels by Jodi Picoult. While The Storyteller was quite comparable to her style of writing, with multiple voices, it was quite historically thought-provoking. The majority of the stories told in this book are from multiple perspectives from World War II. While there are love stories, and even fantasy (vampire) stories, the most memorable and influential are the ones that told different sides and views of being either a Jew or a German, and what belonging to that sect entailed during the war. Sibling affection and family honor were both apparent themes. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it is one I would love to have on my shelves. Obviously, in discussing the holocaust, it is more of a mature book and does include horrific details of war crimes.
Review by Renee G.

Collateral by Ellen Hopkins (4 shovels)
When I first opened this book, I was surprised to see that while it was a novel, each chapter was written in the form of a poem. However, I quickly adjusted and found that it was still very readable. The story is the account of one main, and several other, relationships between women and their military husbands. This book explores the change war inevitably causes in lives and love. Not having had experience with close family members serving our country in that fashion, it was a door to a whole new world of which I knew little about. I found it interesting and complicated, and a very quick read. There is lots of sex for those who may be persuaded or dissuaded due to this fact. Overall, it was quite different from most books I have read and I find that endearing.
Review by Renee G.

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (5 shovels)
This work was difficult to get through, but overall extremely rewarding. The tragic tale of land inheritance & family struggle, The Good Earth explores extremely interesting themes, especially in light of the United States move away from farming. Although the ending was disheartening it was also beautiful.
Review by Sarah G.

Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes (4 shovels)
Beginning with the factual distortion caused by the tobacco industry and its scientific hire-ons and working its way through weaponry to climate change, this book tackles complex subjects and attempts to answer the question of why “scientific fact” is not fact at all. Extremely useful and thought provoking, especially in the light of current events.
Review by Sarah G.

Wine Wise by Steven Kolpan (4 shovels)
I checked this book out because I have always been curious about what makes a Pinot Grigio different from a Chardonnay. And how can you tell quality? And what does place of origin matter? This book answered all these questions and more. I highly recommend this book for someone interested in becoming an amateur wine expert! Easy to read with great visuals.
Review by Sarah G.

Snapper by Brian Kimberling (3 shovels)
While this book has some interesting qualities, the plot fell flat for me. The main character never speaks up for himself, never tells the girl he loves unrequitedly that she has hurt him, and simply continues his quiet existence in Indiana. I did enjoy Peter’s job as an ornithologist and his descriptions of the birds. Many of the flashback stories are vary fascinating as well. All in all, not as good as it should have been.
Review by Sarah G.

East of the Mountains by David Gutterson (2 shovels)
I was drawn to this book because of how much I had enjoyed Snow Falling on Cedars and because I had heard so much about this book. While I greatly enjoyed the meticulous descriptions of Northern Washington, I found the main plot to be hard to relate to. Beautiful writing, just not my style.
Review by Sarah G.

The Reluctant Mr. Darwin by David Quammen (5 shovels)
The Reluctant Mr. Darwin has been on three class syllabi thus far in my college career so I figured I had better finally read it. It was superb!!! A beautiful blend of the complex scientific proof of evolution mixed with a fascinating history about Charles Darwin. I absolutely adore science & history so this book was an easy favorite. Especially enjoyed the segment on Alfred R. Wallace! New scientist/hero.
Review by Sarah G.

Mozart Season by Virginia Euwer Wolff (5 shovels)
This is the fascinating coming of age story of a young violinist preparing for a major international competition and learning about her family & herself in the process. Sensitively & delicately written with lovable characters, this book was definitely a winner for me.
Review by Milou

Body & Soul by Frank Conroy (5 shovels)
This book was absolutely wonderfully written and full of lyrical prose. I loved following Claude’s amazing story from the NY slums to Carnegie Hall & being able to really see the thoughts of a young genius musician. Body & Soul was hard to put down and kept you entranced from start to finish! A must read for all musicians and music lovers alike.
Review by Milou

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown (5 shovels)
This book was a fantastic thriller that will hold you in suspense the whole time but it also reached deeper than that & made you question and re-evaluate the connections between religion, science, and humanity. Facinating!
Review by Milou

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (5 shovels)
This is the story of a Christ-like hero who becomes entangled in the scheming corrupt power-plays of a kept woman and a virtuous young girl. The lush descriptions and sweeping grandeur of the Russian setting are breathtaking. This story is a must read for all! A true, rich, deep, and lovely classic.
Review by Milou

Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan (5 shovels)
I absolutely loved this book because of Michael Pollan’s detailed, middle of the road, approach. I particularly enjoyed the section on Joe Sallatian’s farm because of my interest in sustainable farming! Also, the section on the organic industry was extremely informative on an elusive subject. Discussions on the possible benefits of mushrooms, migrant worker’s rights, and what a meal represents, made this book a favorite.
Review by Sarah G.

The Human Stain by Phillip Roth (3 shovels)
This novel was good, but not my favorite. While I enjoyed the deep exploration of individual characters, the plot dragged at times. Roth’s strengths lie in his intricate descriptions of time & place. Ultimately The Human Stain was enjoyable due to the big secret that is more scandalous than any affair or accidental racial comments!
Review by Sarah G.

The Roadless Yaak by Rick Bass (4 shovels)
I loved The Roadless Yaak! The flow of narrative from poetry to short story, completely captivated me. I had never even heard of the Yaak Valley before reading this book but now I must visit it! One specific poem near the end of the work, “Latitude/Longitude” moved me to tears through its description of backpacker’s travel.
Review by Sarah G.

The Satanic Verse by Salman Rusdie (5 shovels)
The Satanic Verse was my favorite book this summer. The story was as fantastical as it was deep. The juxtaposition of two ordinary Indian men, Chamcha & Gibreel, being thrown into a religious frenzy while living in London was hilarious & thought provoking. While Midnight’s Children is Rusdie’s most famous work, I think The Satanic Verse is even more thought provoking & accessible.
Review by Sarah G.

The Invention of Air by Steven Johnson (3 shovels)
The Invention of Air takes a close look at the life of Joseph Priestly. One of the world’s most famous scientist and friends with prominent revolutionary figures, such as Benjamin Franklin, Priestly contributed an overwhelming amount to the fields of chemistry, biology, understanding electricity & preeminent ecology. His story touches on how these discoveries are made & What such a brilliant man looks like. Very interesting, but at times a little dry.
Review by Sarah G.

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse (5 shovels)
Siddhartha is a very easy, small read. However, its philosophical depths are astounding. This work is perfect for anyone interested in Theravada & Mahayana Buddhism. Following the story of the Brahmin Siddhartha, this story relates his life as he transitions from his time as a begging Samana, to an exorbitant wealthy merchant & lover, to ferryman, to father, to Buddha. Perfect summer read.
Review by Sarah G.

Genealogy by Maud Casey (2 shovels)
Another crazy family trying to recover from a childhood trauma. The really creepy part is Bernard’s obsession with middle-aged mystic women, as in the kind who bleed from the hands and feet like Jesus on the cross. He confuses his daughter with one of them.
Review by Christy S

Love and Shame and Love by Peter Orner (4 shovels)
Popper is easy to love. He grows up Jewish in Chicago in a crazy family. The real joy is the unorthodox structure – a novel in vignettes with illustrations.
Review by Christy S

The House in Paris by Elizabeth Bowen (5 shovels)
A modernist masterpiece by an under-read novelist. This contemporary of V. Woolf tells the story of two wayward children meeting by chance in a disturbed house in Paris. All takes place in one afternoon, with a long middle “aside” spanning 20 years or so.
Review by Christy S

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead (4 shovels)
The story of the Van Meters – Winn, Biddy, Daphne, and Livia the summer Daphne gets married on a fictional Nantucket. The pleasure of this novel is watching Winn stew in his own horrid personality only to see how lucky he has been. A great, fast read.
Review by Christy S

Dream Chasers of the West by BL Wettstein (5 shovels)
A fascinating look at Clara Augusta Miller, who in 1913 left Minnesota to homestead in Montana. The book weaves Montana’s homesteading history with Clara’s story to create an in-depth look at the life of a pioneer; the hardships and the joys of settling in the Montana wilderness.
Review by Katie T

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver (5 shovels)
Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors and this book does not disappoint. In Flight Behavior she weaves a complex story that encompasses the nature of relationships, our unanswered dreams, and global warming, all in a beautifully written novel.
Review by Katie T

Destiny’s Road by Larry Niven (4 shovels)
A great science fiction book that explores the settling of a world and the creation of a new society as it faces isolation and the hardships encountered when all contact with Earth is lost. Through the journey of the protagonist we learn of the world’s history and secrets kept by some of Earth’s descendants.
Review by Katie T

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre (4 shovels)
Ben Goldacre writes science articles in the UK, and this is a sort of compilation of those. It’s a dryly humorous and somewhat frightening overview of all the lies and misinformation found in medicine and popular nutrition. Very interesting and rather unnerving
Review by Kristin H

 

Book Reviews - 2012

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen (4 stars)
Julie Klassen did a wonderful job of telling the story of Margaret Macy a high society lady who goes into hiding to escape being married to a dishonorable man. Disguising herself as a housemaid she accidently gains employment at Fairbourne Hall, the home of two of her former suitors, Nathaniel and Lewis Upchurch. I really enjoyed this book because Margaret underwent a big change for the better, all while trying to remain invisible and avoid traps set to force her from hiding. It was a great read and I really enjoyed it.
Review by Paige L

The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen (5 stars)
The Apothecary’s Daughter is about Lilly Haswell. Lilly dreams of traveling and seeing the world. She receives an opportunity to move up in status when her Aunt and Uncle “adopt” her and introduce her to society in hopes to marry her to a wealthy young man. However, after a year she receives distressing news about her father and returns home to care for her father and keep his shop from going under. This book is full of surprises and high action. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a great book.
Review by Paige L

The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen (4 stars)
In The Girl in the Gatehouse, Mariah Aubrey is banished to the estate of a distant relative when a scandal threatens to ruin her reputation. While there she decides to publish her novels under an assumed name in order to support herself and her devoted maid. This book has several similar aspects to Jane Austen’s life as well as her book Sense and Sensibility along with Klassen’s own style. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it as a great read.
Review by Paige L

Getting Near to Baby by Audrey Couloumbis (1 star)
Being a Newbury Honor book, it caught my eye and I like to keep up with what my kids are reading This book spent so much time setting up the story that I just couldn’t get into it. It came together only in the very last few pages, which was great, but up to that I was wondering why I was reading it. After I finished the book, I re-read parts of the beginning and now was very much able to enjoy the story about two girls, who lost their toddler sister and about their reflections.
Review by Christa M

Dragonwings by Laurence Yep (5 stars)
I was impressed by this book. The story is narrated from the point of view of a Chinese boy, who arrives in San Francisco in 1903 to join his father. We learn about some Chinese customs, beliefs, stereotypes, and about San Francisco. The book covers several years, including the earthquake. This book is in the middle of a series and I look forward to reading books before and after this one.
Review by Christa M

Big Sky Ghosts by Debra Munn (5 stars)
It had some awesome ghost tales. I love anything paranormal both volumes captured my attention but the one that jumped out at me was the Chico Hot Springs ghost. You see I can sense paranormal stuff and a year ago, long before I read this book, I went to Chico with some friends. The place gave me the creeps and I’ve never returned! After reading that story, I know why I felt what I felt.
Review by Gloria I

Yellowstone Ghost Stories by Shellie Larios (4 stars)
This book gave me so much insight into the Park and its history, including paranormal sightings. It is an awesome book. I loved two stories on Old Faithful Inn.  I would love to stop at all the places in the book but mostly those two. There’s tons of history, paranormal activity, and excitement to be found in Yellowstone.
Review by Gloria I

Evil Serial Killers by Charlotte Greg (4 stars)
I am an avid true crime reader and this author really gets into the minds of the killers like no true crime writer has done before. My interest was in the cases of Ted Bundy, who was finally put to death in Jan 1989; Ted Bundy, who was convicted of 15 counts of murder in 1992; Ed Gein, who used his victims’ skin to make items in his house; and John Wayne Gacy who killed dozens of victims and buried them in his crawl space.
Review by Gloria I

Marley and Me by John Grogan (5 stars)
This book was awesome! It’s about this insane Lab that is a monster. He tears up anything and everything he can get his mouth on. He’s badly behaved and has no manners. But he has a very patient family and they love him. He mellowed some as he grew older but sadly he was just too sick and they had to put him to sleep. They buried him in the back yard and said good-bye to their clearance dog.
Review by Gloria I

We Shall not Sleep by Anne Perry (4 stars)
The last of a series of 5 novels set before and during WWI. Main characters are the Reavleys, two brothers and two sisters. While written as novels, the books paint an accurate picture of the horrors and heroes of the war, life in the trenches, life back home in England for those coping with the home front, the courage and friendship’s formed during combat, as well as the despair and faith challenges. This series both educated me and has caused me to learn more of the WWI era.
Review by Licia B

Chicken Soup for the Golden Soul by Jack Canfield (5 stars)
This is a collection of inspirational and heartwarming stories about senior citizens. These stories are from real life and teach us that kindness, caring and a positive attitude enhance the quality of our lives.
Review by Pauline P

Dear Senator by Essie Mae Williams-Washington (4 stars)
This is a memoir by the daughter of Senator Strom Thurmond. At the age of 16, Essie Mae Williams learned who her real father was. Essie’s mother was black but her father was a white Senator. In this book, Essie discusses her black background and the influence Senator Thurmond had on her life.
Review by Pauline P

Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron (5 stars)
As turmoil erupts in Rwanda, Jean Patrick Nkuba “runs the rift” between the separation of the Hutu and Tutsi. Running was what he uses to fight for peace and along his journey is amazing courage and love.
Review by Karissa T

I, Robot: To Protect by Mickey Zuker Reichert (5 stars)
If you’ve ever seen the movie I, Robot, this book is a prequel. Dr. Susan discovers the foundations of robotics, while treating sociopaths. Susan Calvin finds a love, but may only have a limited time before disaster.
Review by Karissa T

A Gracious Plenty by Sheri Reynolds (3 stars)
A Gracious Plenty stirs interests in the idea of afterlife and how the body may live while the soul has decayed or left. Although intriguing, the story line is quite flat and the main message covered was not clear and persuasive.
Review by Karissa T

Heft by Liz Moore (3 stars)
Heft tells the story from the point of view of a reclusive hermit and a young socially popular boy. Although not a page turner, the story keeps you wondering about the mysteries of loneliness and lost love.
Review by Karissa T

Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (5 stars)
Great coming –of-age novel set in the baseball culture. Very likeable characters and great storyline. Overall, a very enjoyable read. Previous baseball knowledge not necessary to enjoy this novel
Review by Carmen C

At Large by Ellen Goodman (4 stars)
I picked up this older book at a library book sale, since I always enjoyed Ellen Goodman’s column until she retired. This is a compilation of her columns from ca 1978-1985. Besides enjoying reading these columns, I was surprised to find several aspects of American culture, which I found different and surprising when I moved from Europe in 1980, taken up in these columns since, apparently, they were as different and surprising to Americans at the time.
Review by Christa M

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Hardt (4 stars)
I found this book very interesting. Jonathan Hardt takes the reader through a logical development of concepts, along with many explanations how the data were generated (e.g. how intuition trumps conscious thought.) Ultimately, he describes that the conservative mindset rests on 6 legs, while the liberal mindset on only 3. Thus, liberals find it difficult to understand the aspects of conservative morality that are based on the other 3 legs. Very much worth reading.
Review by Christa M

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (4 stars)
Compelling story set in Barcelona. Refreshing to read a Spanish author and his slightly different take on life. Wonderful writing made this book even more fun to read. I loved the comparisons (often unusual but so accurate it was humorous) and well stated universal truths. Beware though, it is a bit macabre.
Review by Pam B

The Silence of the North by Olive Fredrickson (3 stars)
Powerful tale of a mother/woman surviving in Canadian territories, but the writing is quite plain.
Review by Pam B

The Seat Beside Me by Nancy Moser (5 stars)
An excellent, hard to put down book about a plane crash and how our lives impact the lives of those around us.
Review by Amy F

Never Fear, Never Quit by Joe Tye (3 stars)
Interesting book about looking at your life with a different perspective with the help of faith.
Review by Amy F

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce (3 stars)
Mastiff is a great addition to Tamora Pierce’s world of Tortall. While a few points of the conclusion felt a little forced, the humor, the drama, and the overall colorfulness of the world made it fun to read. The final entry links right up with Ms. Pierce’s Lioness series, bringing everything full circle.
Review by Elise T

Raven Calls by C.E. Murphy (4 stars)
While not my favorite book in The Walker Papers, it still was a great read. Full of unexpected twists as Joanne goes all over Ireland, both present and past, in order to rescue her dead mother and cure herself of a werewolf’s bite.
Review by Elise T

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (5 stars)
Great book! Brown knows how to weave fiction and reality seamlessly and the action and suspense continues throughout the book. This would be a good book for anyone interested in our Capitol.
Review by Amy F

Railsea by China Mieville (4 stars)
Railsea is a steampunk retelling of Moby Dick. Instead of ships, there are trains. Instead of the vast ocean, there is a twisting array of rails over quick sandy soil in which live vicious blood rabbits, naked mole rats, antlions, and the great moldywarpes. Instead of Captain Ahab, there is Captain Naphi, with her mechanical arm. But the story is really about Sham Yes ap Soorap, a doctor’s assistant who discovers what is at the edge of the railsea.
Review by Elise T

The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard (not rated)
The Fates Will Find Their Way is a very unique telling of a murder/missing mystery. The girl who goes missing, Nora Lindell, lingers in the minds of her classmates, never forgotten. Narrating the story are the guys who loved Nora, and they imagine what may have happened to her the night of Halloween. Keeping Nora’s memory alive, even as they grow up and have their own kids, the stories of what Nora Lindell may have done or disappeared to star in their irrelevancy.
Review by Karissa T

The Anointed by Randall J Stephens and Karl W. Giberson (5 stars)
This is not a hastily written book, thrown together as a reaction to some current hot topic. It has been well-researched and the arguments are well-developed. The authors are gracious towards four representatives of conservative evangelicalism with whom they disagree. They do not degenerate into ad hominem attacks and do their best to represent their four views accurately. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to better understand conservative evangelicalism or who is concerned with the current seemingly blind acceptance of the message of the likes of Ken Ham, David Barton, James Dobson, and Tim LaHaye.
Review by Carol K

The Daughter’s Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick (3 stars)
Based on actual historical events, this is the story of a Norwegian American mother and 18 year old daughter in the late 1800’s who walk from Washington State to New York in an attempt to save the family farm. Though the writing is not especially lyrical, the story is compelling especially as it explores the choices we make in life and the consequences, for better or for worse, of our actions. The two women around whom the book is centered did something truly remarkable for their time period. It was a fascinating read.
Review by Robin M

The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner (5 stars)
Part travelogue, part insightful, this book is full of wonderful tong-in-cheek humor from a self-described “grump” who searches to world for the happiest places. With glimpses into various societies throughout the world, the author offers both thoughtful and humorous evaluations of the happiness of individual cultures. I loved this book and didn’t want it to end! (And I rarely read non-fiction!)
Review by Robin M

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (5 stars)
A master at creating totally believable characters, Ann Patchett once again crafts a compelling novel, set in the Amazon, of an aging researcher, Annick Swenson, who will go to remarkable lengths to prove a point to a young, but brilliant research assistant, Marina, who treks to the Amazon to uncover the mystery of a fellow researcher’s death while working with Dr. Swenson. A fascinating page turner, I loved this book except for the ending, which I found disappointing. Still, I would highly recommend this book and another of hers entitled Bel Canto.
Review by Robin M

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (4 stars)
This book focuses on the touching story of Victoria, a young woman just aging out of foster care. Her difficult life has left her main form of communication the Victorian “language of flowers.” Great characters!
Review by Maria T

Nothing Daunted by Dorothy Wickenden (4 stars)
Nothing Daunted is a fascinating account of two privileged women moving to rural Wyoming in 1916 to teach school. Both women are feisty and their adventures inspiring!
Review by Maria T

Thunder and Rain by Charles Martin (5 stars)
Five stars because the author has captured the essence of the characters. Not just the actions of the people are described but their heart and character that makes them who they are. The ending is unexpected.
Review by Robin C

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (5 stars)
Water for Elephants is a captivating book about an old man telling his story of how he ran away and joined the circus. With lots of action and adventure, it was a fun read! I especially like the ending!
Review by Amy F

Call of the Wild by Jack London (5 stars)
A wonderful story about a dog named Buck and his adventures in Alaska as a sled dog and answering the call of the wild.
Review by Amy F

The Anatomist’s Apprentice by Tessa Harris (4 stars)The Anatomist’s Apprentice was a fun and interesting mystery. I especially liked how the story was inspired by an actual murder in England where an anatomist was called as a witness for the first time. Dr. Silkstone was clever and used what we now call forensic science to solve the mystery.
Review by Amy F

Nose to Nose: A Memoir of Healing by Barry Schieber (4 stars)
A great memoir about a dog that becomes a therapy dog. The people they meet at their weekly hospital visits are inspired by Moritz, a huge Bernese Mountain dog, and in turn are inspired by them. Written by a Montana author, it makes you want to have a therapy dog
Review by Amy F

The Summer of the Bear by Bella Pollen (5 stars)
Part family saga, part mystery, The Summer of the Bear, is set on the outer islands of the Scottish Hebrides. This book explores the relationships of family members, parents and siblings especially, in response to secrets kept and family tragedy. Captivating in both plot and setting, I couldn’t put it down! Having spent a summer on the Scottish Isles, including the Outer Hebrides, I felt the author totally captured the windswept landscape and unique play of light in this part of the world. The effects of secrets kept from those closest to us affected some great food for thought as well. I highly recommend this book!
Review by Robin M

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (4 stars)
Olive Kitteridge is a book about both Olive and the folks in her town of Crosby, Maine. Olive is a strong-willed, sometimes abrasive, and surprisingly thoughtful woman who we get to know through her story and her interactions with others’ stories. Both Olive’s story and that of the other characters remind us of the fragility of life with its joys, sorrows and mundaness.
Review by TK T

Montana Behind the Scenes by Durrae Johanek (4 stars)
Montana Behind the Scenes tells us of the many unique places to visit in Montana. These are not the usual tourist stops! Instead you will be enticed to get off the beaten path and see and learn something new about the great places in Montana.
Review by TK T

The Martians by Kim Stanley Robinson (3 stars)
The Martians is a series of short vignettes about Mars and its colonization. Some of the stories are great but some are tedious. It’s a bit of a hodge-podge. The Mars Trilogy by the same author is a really good series and I would recommend that for a great read and The Martians as a not as great but interesting book.
Review by TK T




BOOK REVIEWS - 2011

 

Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs (5 out of 5 suitcases)
Like nearly every other book I’ve read by Patricia Briggs, this one seemed to end too soon because I love reading her books. The plot was fun and moved quickly, the characters were loveable, and, although not everyone’s story met a happy ending, the world seemed a better place by the end, and the heroine landed safely in the arms of her love after saving his life.
Review by Julia

B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton (5 out of 5 suitcases)
I’ve read a lot of mysteries lately, and typically halfway through, I know (or rather have guessed) half if not more of what will happen. With this book, I was delighted to find that it took me much longer to figure out the surprise ending. I also appreciate that this mystery series feels realistic, unlike some where I wonder if the amateur detective would really be allowed in on the case, given her lack of credentials.
Review by Julia

The First Cut by Dianne Emley (4 out of 5 suitcases)
The First Cut is a gruesome who-done-it that follows a victimized female cop as she chases down not one but two cold-hearted serial killers who target women. At the end of the book, only one of the serial killers has been uncovered, leaving Emley material for a sequel. It was well-written but too horrific for my tastes, so I doubt I’ll read anymore in the series.
Review by Julia

Raven’s Shadow by Patricia Briggs (5 out of 5 suitcases)
After reading Raven’s Shadow, I wished I could forget it just so I could read it again like new. To me, it rates among the best high fantasy I’ve ever read. Every character is given a turn to shine, even those others think little of. This is a story about big decisions, coming of age, love, family, nations, and power. One of the great parts of the story is that although some of the characters have power, and others should but don’t, none of them defeat the enemy single-handedly, nor are they able to. This story shows that changing the world takes more than just good will, it takes courage and companions. Also, it shows that there is something special in each of us, even if we haven’t named it yet.
Review by Julia

This Witch for Hire by Kim Harrison (4 out of 5 suitcases)
This book is actually two novels sold together, the first and second in an urban fantasy series about a brash red-headed witch in an alternative world very similar to our own, except that we never made it to the moon because a virus spread through genetically engineered tomatoes has killed off a large percentage of humans, allowing the things in the night to gain dominion. Ironically, the main “bad guy” is committing the terrible crime of making bio-drugs to help cure cancer (also killing people, but still – curing cancer is now bad) and just like in the dark ages, people are afraid to eat tomatoes because of what they may carry Although I enjoy reading about fantastical creatures, the main character is too rash for me to relate to and most of her troubles seem brought on by her own lack of forethought or even basic precautionary measures. She has a boyfriend, but the real sexual tension is between her and her female vampire roommate.
Review by Julia

The Private Patient by P.D. James (3 out of 5 suitcases)
I have just discovered P.D. James, an English mystery writer. After a full career with the British Government, Ms. James celebrated her 80th birthday in 2000. This book published in 2008 proves she is still writing wonderful fiction. This Adam Dalgliesh mystery is well written, with imaginative characters and plot development that made this both an enjoyable and fascinating read. This author is not writing “fluff” but excellent fiction that will endure.
Review by Lucia

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (5 out of 5 suitcases)
This novel won the Pulitzer Prize 2011, which means it depicts American life. I’ve read several other Pulitzer Prize winners: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry and American Pastoral by Phillip Roth. A Visit from the Goon Squad is so original in structure, hopping back and forth in time, that it really challenges the reader to pay attention. The characters are fascinating and the dialog is so natural, it’s only after reading it that you realize how brilliant it all is. I was sorry to finish it and will look for more by this author.
Review by Beth

The Sherlockian by Graham Moore (4 out of 5 suitcases)
This witty and engaging novel appeals to anyone who has ever read and loved Sherlock Holmes. The alternating chapters jump back and forth in time to follow Arthur Conan Doyle and Harold White, a Sherlock Homes fanatic to the extreme. The detailed mystery keeps the pages turning by asking two questions: What happened to Arthur Conan Doyle before he resurrected Holmes from Reichenbach Falls? and What would a Sherlockian fanboy do when faced with a real murder mystery?
Review by Katy

The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman (4 out of 5 suitcases)
An amazing true story of a couple in Warsaw all through WWII. Author had diaries and interviews to compose this biography and the abundance of info helps this read like fiction – flowing and vivid. Ackerman often uses awkward, overblown phrases, which are annoying, but the story is worth persevering through these.
Review by Pam

Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith (2 out of 5 suitcases)
I know these are meant to be light, quick reads but geeze – this one was really a bunch of nothing. Perhaps I should have stopped at 2 books by this author. The mystery was underwhelming, the topics were old hat. If it’s the only book you can get your hands on, then go head and read. Otherwise avoid.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (5 out of 5 suitcases)
I really enjoyed this book. Lauren Oliver is one of my favorite authors. Her books never have super happy, perfect endings. And I like that. I like it because it shows that not everything in your life is going to end with a kiss, a hug, and a smile. Before I Fall is an excellent book for teenage girls. It is a realistic fiction and was totally worth the read.
Review by Courtney

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (4 out of 5 suitcases)
This was a great book. It’s not my favorite but I would recommend it. It had lots of action and exciting moments. I enjoyed the tiny bit of love store and the great friendships. I didn’t like the repetition. The content wasn’t the same but the violence and action was the same. There was violence in every chapter. It was suspenseful lots of times and my overall review is positive. I would definitely recommend this book.
Review by Courtney

Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (5 out of 5 suitcases)
This book was fantastic! It’s the second book in the Raised by Wolves series. This book was so suspenseful and mysterious and, of course, romantic. I like the main character Bryn because she’s strong, smart and independent. A lot of the sci-fi action books I read are somewhat needy and whiny. But not Bryn because she was, well, raised by wolves.
Review by Courtney

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (5 out of 5 suitcases)
I recommend this book. Of course it’s fantastic. I love all of Stephanie Meyer’s books. I love the characters of Edward and Bella. I love the twisted romance and the immediate Romeo and Juliet love story. It’s frustrating at parts when Edward tells himself that Bella’s not good for him and Bella things the same. But the second half and towards the end are great. The beginning was slow. However, I love this book!
Review by Courtney

The Keepers Tattoo by Gill Arbuthnott (5 out of 5 suitcases)
This book was fantastic the whole way through. IT was unpredictable, suspenseful, and thrilling. Nyssa, the main character, was dead set on what she wanted and she would go to ridiculous measures to see it through. The author was somewhat confusing at times but over all this book was fantastic. Caution: it was somewhat gruesome at times. I would definitely recommend it.
Review by Courtney

Once by Morris Gleitzman (4 out of 5 suitcases)
This book was based in the year of 1942 so it was very sad but truly a fantastic book. At some parts it was frustrating because Felix (the little boy and the main character) didn’t even know about the war and he would walk right into immediate danger. But because of his stories and bravery he becomes a little hero. This is a very sad story but because it’s through a child’s eyes you can see the innocence and confusion of the children. PS. Violent and gruesome at some parts.
Review by Courtney

The Violin of Auschwitz by Maria Angels Anglada (5 out of 5 suitcases)
This book is awesome. It will definitely move you emotionally and help you to never forget what happened. It’s also a beautiful story about how the making of a violin saved this one man to survive the awful, unthinkable cruelty of the camps. As a violinist myself, it was wonderful to read about what went into making a violin and then the overall impact it made on his daughter later on. Beautiful story. I highly recommend it for everyone to read and remember
Review by Jessica

The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark (4 out of 5 suitcases)
Spanning 100 years between two very descript stories, The Sandalwood by Elle Newmark tells the tale of one woman struggling in her marriage while weaving another tale, a sort of mystery to our main characters, as she uses her obsession of the old story as her escape of the now. I loved the vivid detail of the time periods (1840’s-1940’s) in India. Well written, tender, honest, and a lovely read.
Review by Becky

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King (5 out of 5 suitcases)
Twisted and definitely demented in that Stephen King fashion, Full Dark, No Stars, threads a common theme through four stories of darkness – the conniving person within all of humankind and makes us ponder – do we really know everything about a person? Being the first Stephen King book I have made it through, King’s writing is deep and keeps you hooked, although the story content itself makes me wonder how I got through! His afterword brings it all home in King’s own words.
Review by Becky

Widower’s Tale by Julia Glass (3 out of 5 suitcases)
I liked the widower the best. The voice of the 19 year old boy was less interesting. Still, a good read.
Review by Christy

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny (3 out of 5 suitcases)
I loved Armand Gamache. This one is set at a secluded posh resort in the Quebec woods – perfect for murder! The ending is kinda rushed and a bit far fetched (you’re never gonna guess because you can’t) but this is a fun read.
Review by Christy

Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines (2 out of 5 suitcases)
Easy, fast read. Another dystopian tale on the world. This one is a cheap knock off from the Hunger Games series. I would not recommend this book.
Review by Carmen

Touched by Venom by Janine Cross (4 out of 5 suitcases)
Touched by Venom is a dark fantasy which describes impoverished life in detail and requires the reader to keep track of many made-up wards which deepen the richness of the culture. I wondered if I shouldn’t have picked up a reality-based novel about hardships in a real-life third-world country instead – it would have been education. Cross does a great job of depicting her culture, inserting her language, and describing atrocities, but not a very good job creating a plot. More questions are raised than answered.
Review by Julia

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo (4 out of 5 suitcases)
Very compelling evidence of heaven. Written in a person and professional manner. After reading, you feel like meeting the family to ask questions yourself.
Review by Mariann

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne (4 out of 5 suitcases)
Was a great read. It was an easy short read, but lots packed in. Having a 9 yr old myself, I could understand and relate to Bruno. I have heard the movie is amazing also. I think everyone should read this book who doesn’t understand who so many people could follow Hitler.
Review by Mariann

In her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner (not rated)
I watched the movie first and, just like every book to movie, the book was much better. Having 5 sisters myself, I have felt every emotion that Rose and Maggie have with each other and their step-mom. Weiner’s books are all personal to any female that struggles with her image.
Review by Mariann

Target by Stella Cameron (2 out of 5 suitcases)
The story of Colin having a cult and killing most of the community was not very suspenseful. Neither was the love affair between 2 of the survivors. I kept hoping for more of a story line between Buck Dupiere and the town of St Louis.
Review by Mariann

The Man Who Invented the Computer by Jane Smiley (3 out of 5 suitcases)
In this book, Jane Smiley, tells the fascinating story of how electronic computers were invented. While ostensibly a biography of John Atanasoff, it is more properly a “biography” of the computer and the numerous people who contributed to its development. Unfortunately, the book is marred by significant errors in technical descriptions such as the definition of quantum mechanics on p. 16 or the equating of “operating memory” with “CPU” on p. 48. The story was also difficult to follow at times as the author jumped around between leading characters, moving forward and backward in time.
Review by Carol

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (5 out of 5 suitcases)
If 19th Century English novels bring to mind visions of slow drawing room scenes and boring English classes, then read this book to see an entire new world open to you. It has almost the whole of human relations in it: unrequited love, making mistakes and becoming better (or not), the difficulties of growing up, and public &private selves. It has moments of great drama and tender exchanges. Pip, Miss Havisham and company will also stay with you forever. So settle back, relax into the roomier stretches of Great Expectations and give it the time it deserves
Review by Karen

Dark Jenny by Alex Blesdoe (4 out of 5 suitcases)
Perhaps you enjoy detective stories that have enough plot twists to keep the pages turning? Perhaps you enjoy Arthurian legend or fantasy set in the middle ages that parallels our own? Either way, you are in luck since Dark Jenny delivers a swiftly plotted mystery/fantasy mash-up that manages to stay true to both genres and provide characters with dash. If you are afraid of the Science Fiction section, but like mysteries, this would be a good book to entertain and open up new reading possibilities.
Review by Karen

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan (4 out of 5 suitcases)
A full history of how the food industry made it to today with insights never heard before and advise on how to eat better without being a diet.
Review by Laura

Food Matters by Mark Bittman (5 out of 5 suitcases)
The best “diet” book out there. Not just another one full of strict recipes and deprivation but a refreshing list and menu that celebrates food and nature.
Review by Laura

Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan (5 out of 5 suitcases)
The perfect mixture of fact and story that leaves you knowing more about food and yourself.
Review by Laura

Animal Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (5 out of 5 suitcases)
Not just a “how to” but a joyful story full of wisdom and promise. Kingsolver loves the land and what grows from it and you can feel it in every sentence.
Review by Laura

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan (4 out of 5 suitcases)
An interesting and sometimes surprising account of plants that have become commonplace. It brought new life and mystery to my garden.
Review by Laura



 BOOK REVIEWS - 2010  

Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier (3 out of 5 watering cans)
Set in 18th Century London, this historical novel chronicles the adjustments of the Kellaway family to life in the big city. The Kellaways move in next door to poet and revolutionary William Blake. Jem, in particular, befriends him and Maggie Butterfield in a beautifully told coming of age tale.
Review by Claire E

My Lobotomy by Howard Dully (5 out of 5 watering cans)
Very moving autobiography of Howard Dully. As a 12 year old (!), he received a transorbital (ice-pick) lobotomy at the hands of Dr. Walter Freeman. His story is both very sad and very uplifting at the same time. A must-read!
Review by Carmen C.

Wicked Plants
by Amy Stewart (5 out of 5 watering cans)
Excellent! Very interesting and fascinating facts about “wicked plants.” Reads like fiction. I liked it so much that I bought 4 additional copies for Christmas presents.
Review by Susan I.

The Pretend Wife by Bridget Asher (4 out of 5 watering cans)
A real “beach read” – light but not stupid, with real insight into love, grief and self-trust. There is a mother-daughter tension here. Gwen Merchant is coming to terms with the loss of her mother, decades ago, when she was 5 – that feels genuine and has a lot to say about forgiveness. Interestingly, this author is the same as N.E. Bode, writer of The Nobodies, which my daughter, son and I are currently loving. She’s also by the way, Julianna Baggott, a fascinating, brilliant writer – versatile to say the least.
Review by Christy S.


The Power of Respect by Deborah Norville (5 out of 5 watering cans)
This book emphasizes the importance of respect in all areas of life evidenced by consistency and sensitivity of civility and manners. Respect is the pre-cursor for success personally, at home and in the workplace.
Review by Anonymous


The Help
by Kathryn Stockett (not rated)
What a read. Don’t start this unless you plan to do little else for about 3-5 days – you can NOT put it down. While the novel challenges little about what we know of this period in history, it is astounding the tension created by race and class. Also, the thrill and suspense surrounding the book within the book. I can’t recall the level of hope I felt for the success the publication of an imagined book – what triumph is the written word!
Review by Christy S.


Hercule Poirot's Christmas
by Agatha Christie (4 out of 5 watering cans)
The works of Agatha Christie have always been amazing. This book is no exception. One of the best mystery books, it keeps the reader guessing constantly to who had done the crime. It’s a good mystery but also a light read. You have to really be paying attention to details to figure out the culprit. Overall a very entertaining read!
Review by Audya D.


The Food Revolution
by John Robbins (4 out of 5 watering cans)
An eye-opening book about nutrition and the flaws in our politically driven food system. The book starts out interesting, but soon delves into details that will probably only intrigue me most and nutrition readers. The lay-out of the book makes it easy to reference details. However, Robbins is very pro-vegetarianism and you wonder if he’s leaving out details.
Review by Kelan S.


Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight
by Alexandra Fuller (3 out of 5 watering cans)
An interesting array of storie

 

 

 

 

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