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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 “Exercise Your Mind” June 11–August 15.


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 16. 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.

 

REVIEWS 2016

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner (5 stars)
Well written and an excellent plot. This is the second book in the series. Read the 1st book Homecoming before reading this one. This book gives away the plot and identity of the killer in the 1st book.
Review by Mary M.

Blind Corral by Ralph Beer (3 stars) 
Well written and a very real portrayal of the loss of ranching land and the loss of the ranching way of life in Montana. Should be especially interesting to those who grew up near Helena, but it is not for those who like happy endings.
Review by Dan C.

Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury (5 stars)
This book gives great advice for anyone involved in formal or informal negotiations, providing both specific how-to instructions and psychological background information. I think this information falls into the Good Life Information category and just about everyone could benefit from it.
Review by Linzy B.

Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss (3 stars)
This book takes you into the art world of NYC in the 1980's where the stories of Paul Lucy and James converge. It was an interesting read, although not quite gripping enough to keep me hooked.
Review by Carmen C.

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande (5 stars)
Everyone over 30 should read this book for wonderful perspective on aging and end of life decisions both from personal and medical perspectives. Reads smoothly; not a typical dry non-fiction book. I hope this book inspires changes.
Review by Pam B.

The Little Paris Bookshop (3 stars)
A light read and well written, but to girly. Too much discussion of emotion and examining fine details of behaviors. Too many overwrought characters. I only bothered finishing because I was listening to audiobook on a car-trip.
Review by Pam B.

She: A History of Adventure by Haggard (2 stars)
I read this because it was on a list of best-selling books of all time. Though imaginative, it is a cumbersome read full of Old English vocabulary. It's like a Victorian Age Indiana Jones.
Review by Pam B.

Sidartha by Herman Hesse (4 stars)
A quick novel set in India about the life of a boy seeking enlightenment progressing through many changes towards self discovery. Full of themes that everyone needs to revisit occasionally - ways to find peace, remember knowledge must be gained through experiences (positive and negative.) A simple writing, though it can be a little dry and obvious.
Review by Pam B.

A Bird’s Eye View by Rod Villemaire (4 stars)
This book is a very diverse collection of bird-related stories. It doesn’t offer much in the way of practical advice for bird owners but is a very interesting and entertaining batch of tales. A huge portion of the stories are about wild birds, so I felt the book’s description on the back cover was a bit misleading about it having pet bird stories.
Review by Alyson B.

Felicity: A Sparrow’s Tale by Loralee Evans (4 stars)
I read this book to my bird-loving 10 year old son and we enjoyed it. It is a cute little fantasy tale about a house sparrow that likes to read and how she helps some fairies in the nearby woods. The plot is predictable but it is an enjoyable book.
Review by Alyson B.

Birds Off the Perch by Larry Lachman (5 stars)
Out of the many bird owner advice books that I have read, this was my favorite. I thought it was a good mix of care advice, personal stories, and behavior modification techniques. I also liked that it was written by a team including a vet, a therapist, and a long-time animal behaviorist.
Review by Alyson B.

Love and Feathers by Shannon Cutts (5 stars)
I thought this was a touching and well written book about a woman and her relationship with her pet cockatiel with special needs. The book was a very funny and a lot of the stories about her bird really reminded me of our rescued sparrow. You could tell that the author is a professional writer and not just a pet owner with good stories.
Review by Alyson B.

Forget Me Not by Jennifer Love-Anker (5 stars)
A beautiful love story times two. An interesting ‘behind the scenes’ look at the life, love and loss of Alex Lowe, world class climber. Because the characters lived and/or live in Bozeman it was engaging. An open and honest account of love, loss, moving on, and thriving in-spite of great odds.  I learned a lot more about the climbing ‘culture’ as well.
Review by Jen D.

Family Jewels by Stuart Woods (3 stars)
A fun, quick summer read. Stuart Woods always delivers great characters with just enough mystery to keep you reading. A glimpse into the lives of the uber wealthy is always a fun, guilty pleasure, and Stoen Barrington doesn’t disappoint.
Review by Jen D.

Dishonorable Intentions by Stuart Woods (3 stars)
Though I like the Stone Barrington series and characters, this one seemed to be a bit predictable and focused on his love life. It was very similar to previous Stuart Woods’ novels – Stone gets into a predicament with another man and uses his wealth and contacts to prevail.
Review by Jen D.

15th Affair by James Patterson (3 stars)
The newest in James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club series – great characters, though, this book focuses mainly on Lindsey and her husband, so I missed the others and there was very little interaction with the rest of the club. A good, quick summer read that kept me guessing and eagerly awaiting #16 as it is a bit of a cliffhanger.
Review by Jen D.

The Home Place by Carrie La Seur (5 stars)
Great debut novel by Billings Lawyer, Carrie La Seur. Her characters are believable and the plot is perfectly paced. There is enough mystery and romance to keep the reader hooked to the end.
Review by Carmen C.

The Sharing Knife. Vol 1. Beguilement (4 stars)
I felt like this book had a very strong beginning. It did an excellent job of providing a good background for the characters and the fantasy world in which it takes place. However, I feel like the book got side-tracked and spent too long describing Dag and Fawn’s stay-over at her parent’s house. It was important that they get married for the long haul, but it felt like the book lost the momentum from the first half of the book.
Review by Sarah D.

The Sharing Knife. Vol 2. Legacy by Lois McMaster Bujold (4 stars)
This book acted as if it was the second half of the first book in the series. It was another enjoyable fantasy book and it certainly had a lot more action than the first book. I did enjoy the background that we learned in this book as they stayed at the Lakewalker camp. This is certainly not the world’s best fantasy series but it was still enjoyable.
Review by Sarah D.

Wishes are Like Horses by Robert Barclay (3 stars)
This was an enjoyable read and had excellent character development. However, the ending felt very rushed and there were a few time jumps at the end of the book that felt abrupt; as if the author suddenly realized they needed to finish the book in the last 30 pages. Overall, I would recommend this book to someone looking for a light read.
Review by Sarah D.

The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall (4 stars)
I felt that this was a very well done book. The character development was sufficient and the author did a great job of creating a nice ending to the book that sets it up for a sequel. The author did a good job of describing the historical context and the background of China during this time period and connecting it to events happening in other parts of the world. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading historical fiction.
Review by Sarah D.

Spy Dust by Antonio and Jonna Mendez (5 stars)
This book is written by Antonio and Jonna Mendez, Two former CIA operatives. In the book they recount key undercover operations they were involved in during the Cold War. Although it is a memoir, it contains everything you expect in a good suspense novel. There is danger, intrigue, clever spy craft, romance, betrayal, and tech gadgets enough to make Q jealous. It makes the current crop of TV spy dramas seem trite in comparison. I highly recommend Spy Dust.
Review by Carol K.

The Advocate by Randy Singer (3 stars)
Randy Singer weaves a tale that inspires, informs, and entertains about the creatively imagined life of Theophilus, the mysterious figure to whom the biblical books of Luke and Acts are addressed. Set in the first century A.D. Rome, The Advocate opens with Theophilus as a young boy studying under Seneca. The story follows him into adulthood as a young lawyer trying to make his mark. Later, Theophilus’ life is changed forever when he is asked to defend the apostle Paul who is imprisoned in Rome.
Singer obviously put extensive research into this book which shows in his detailed descriptions of many aspects of Roman culture and history. He carefully crafted the story to fit within the boundaries of history and the Bible. Unfortunately, it often feels as though Singer included those sections to make use of his research rather than because they were needed to advance the story line. Nevertheless, The Advocate is worth checking out.
Review by Carol K.

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (4 stars)
If you have anything that 100% absolutely has to be done, finish that before starting Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall. I read the book from start to finish and only missed a Drs. appt. On the evening of August 23, 2015, a private jet leaves Martha’s Vineyard for a short trip to NYC. But only minutes after take-off, the private plane drops off the radar and plunges into the Atlantic Ocean. Only two survive, Scott Burroughs, a washed up painter, and JJ the 4-year old son of a multi-billionaire. Immediately, both are celebrities in an age when the media eats survivors of tragedies as snakes for lunch. Hawley writes briskly, using short bios of each person on the flight as before the fall and to the aftermath and survival of Scott and JJ. Each episode makes the reader suspect another member of the flight or a terrorist until the final pages. Before the Fall studies the lives of individuals who survive vs the “right of the public” to know everything. The simplicity of the truth is a tragedy in itself.
Review by Danita T.

The Magician King by Lev Grossman (1 star)
I hated this book. I didn’t like the first one so I’m not sure why I read this one. It seems like Grossman is just trying to be disturbing without the plot necessitating it. Do not read this.
Review by Wren G.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (3 stars)
I don’t think I understood this well enough to give it a rating; but, it was very well written and I enjoyed being confused. So, I gave it 3 stars.
Review by Wren G.

More William by Richmal Crompton (4 stars)
William is the Best! These short little stories are all very enjoyable. I love that William is always totally convinced that he is in the right and acting in the name of Justice! Great for all ages!
Review by Wren G.

The Treasure of Plunderell Manor by Bruce Clements (3 stars)
This is a very classic middle-grade fiction book. There’s a strong Catholic message and a lot of God talk, which isn’t really my thing. But, Resourceful servant girl and nice people in a gloomy castle setting. The villains were so scary!
Review by Wren G.

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin (4 stars)
I wish I had read this in 5th grade or middle school because it would have easily become one of my favorite books. However, reading it as an adult was still very enjoyable. Le Guin is amazing and I certainly look forward to reading more of her works as well as the rest of the series!
Review by Wren G.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (5 stars)
This might be the very best book out of all the books. I can’t think of another heroine so good and worthy, nor of another love story so completely consuming. Bronte is clearly an incredible writer and a strong feminist. A great story for men or women of any age, focusing on the strength found in self-reliance as well as the luck of love.
Review by Wren G.

A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore (3 stars)
This was a quick, funny, and slightly disturbing, summer read. Not much to it but comedy and witty-mean banter. Fans of the book Good Omens would likely enjoy his style.
Review by Wren G.

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (2 stars)
Booo! This story was engaging, certainly, but quite disturbing and gory.  Oddly, the yuckiness is right there with smarmy nonsense about stories in general. Ti think he was maybe going for a modern Grimm Fairy tale, but sadly missed the mark. Too Yucky!
Review by Wren G.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (4 stars)
I can see why this has become such a modern classic. Good, clean fun, adventure and a little romance. A realistic world and some really bad bad-guys make you quickly invest in the protagonists.

Review by Wren G.

Run by Ann Patchett (3 stars)
This was my least favorite so far of Patchett’s books. That said, it’s still great! She’s an excellent writer and gets you fully involved with, and attached to, a big family of characters. She creates a lot of poignant images and predicts Obama’s election. Woo!
Review by Wren G.

Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons (4 stars)
Hilarious and painfully, painfully accurate, this book is a clear picture of life at a technology start-up. It would be great catharsis for someone in a similar situation and serves as a welcome wake-up call for those of us on the brink of cultish devotion to any internet company.
Review by Wren G.

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt (4 stars)
As with any collection of essays, there were some I really loved and some that were pretty off-putting. Patton Oswalt is my very favorite stand-up and his writing is also engaging. I do think he has matured as a writer since this book’s publication and look forward to more from him.
Review by Wren G.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2 stars)
NYT bestseller, National Book Award Winner, Pulitzer Prize Finalist, etc. While this book deals with a very important topic (racism in America), I just couldn’t get over how disorganized the writing is.
Review by Carmen C.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (3 ½ stars)
Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy deals with the failures of our justice system and the importance of mercy. Extremely thought provoking as the real life stories of wrongly convicted death row inmates, child lifers, and police misconduct, strikes relevance in today’s race conflicts. Stevenson makes the controversial seem straight-forward. At the end of the book, you will leave much more informed and be left to make you own choice of mercy.
Review by Karissa T.

Make Me by Lee Child (4 stars)
The Jack Reacher series continues with Make Me, the 20th in the series, but easily read as a stand-alone novel. Quick wittedness, unseen dangers, gathering of clues, and MacGyver-like problem solving are all hallmarks of a Reacher novel and are present in spades in this one. Fast paced and lots of action. One of the better Reacher novels.
Review by Michael P.

All the Light We cannot See by Anthony Doerr (5 stars)
Took me a while to get into it but then couldn’t put it down. Not usually a fan of the broken time-line and that’s part of what the initial problem was for me. The book is set in Nazi Germany and occupied France. I resonated with both main characters but particularly the boy conscripted by the Nazis, who just wants to please, doesn’t want to make waves. Eventually he realizes that in playing it safe, one loses oneself. So even though it took a while for me to warm up to it, and the ending felt somewhat forced, I am rating it 5 stars because I am haunted by the language and the characters.
Review by Michael P.

The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony (5 stars)
Lovely read of man running an animal preserve in Africa. Such a Kind-hearted man and story full of action, elephant interactions and the interesting details of daily life on Thula Thula reserve. I wish it was  a longer read; loved it.
Review by Pam B.

The Land of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon (4 stars)
Great characters and writing in this book about horse racing, but no quotation marks (which irked me a bit).
Review by Pam B.

A Dangerous Fortune by Ken Follett (3 stars)
A pretty predictable and formulaic novel. Set in England around the beginning of the 20th Century. Less a mystery than historical romance. Characters and plot are entertaining, but rather one dimensional. A let-down for a Follett novel.
Review by Pam B.

Them by Jon Ronson (not rated)
This book is great. Jon Ronson interviews KKK members and radically conservative talk show hosts. He is very funny while interviewing people with seriously harmful and/or silly beliefs.
Review by Sarah B.

Soup Night by Maggie Stuckey (5 stars)
Soup Night’s author, Maggie Stuckey, has assembled a heart-warming collection of stories recipes, and pointers that will inspire you to either search out a soup night in your area or crate one yourself. I enjoyed the stories from the recipes’ contributors. Also thought the section at the end illustrating tips and checklists for starting your own soup night seemed handy. Overall, this book was practical and enlivening.
Review by Tisha G.

Woodland Knits by Stephanie Dosen (5 stars)
The knitting projects in this book are so much fun. She labels the designs under one of 3 skill levels that seem to be pretty accurate. I am an intermediate knitter and have thoroughly enjoyed the projects without any frustration. Her instructions are easy to follow. Her stitch guide is adequate, although I did need to search out an online tutorial for one of the terms, for lack of a better explanation in the book. I’ve completed a handful of projects, all of which knitted up quickly and beautifully. The finished garments look more advanced than the knitting felt, and for that, I highly recommend this book.
Review by Tisha G.

Additional Adult Summer Programs










 

 Book Reviews - 2015

And the Mountains Echoed by Khalen Hosseini (5 stars)
Best book of the year for me – heart-breaking story – see how futile so much of what we do in life is – how much we do for the ones we love and they never know, remember or care. There are no happy endings, no romanticizing here – brutal life told magnificently through many eyes, many voices. Story line is disjointed – jumps in time and geography yet intricately woven together for the close reader.
Review by Secilia M

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee (4 stars)
I really enjoyed Samantha because I could feel for her pain. Annamae really helped Samantha act like a boy. My favorite part is during the stamped when Samantha’s tree caches fire and she drops into West’s arms to get out of the tree.
Review by Isabel A.

Black Helicopters by Blythe Woolston (5 stars)
Fast-paced, gripping book that tells the story of Valley (or now Valkyrie) and her family. They are on the run from ‘those people’ and their black helicopters. The rest of the country doesn’t believe that the government is killing American citizens, but Valley and her family do. Did Valley win in the end? Or did ‘those people’ get her?

The Kitchen House by K. Grissom (3 stars)
Overly dark, overly emotional take on a story of Southern plantation life with slaves. Author is often redundant and characters are one-dimensional (easy to love or hate.)
Review by Pam B.

Big Little Lies by L. Moriarty (4 stars)
Moriarty writes with great perception of human behavior. This story of elementary school parents is a must read if you are a parent of young ones. Hilarious, and quite serious, mystery that kept me enthralled until the last chapter. The very end was a little disappointing, but otherwise solid enjoyment.
Review by Pam B.

Everything is Illuminated by J. Safran Foer (4 stars)
Endearing, humorous and original story of a young man’s trip to Ukraine to find the family that aided his grandfather in World War Two. I loved the narrator, Alex, and his use of thesaurus – laughed out loud
Review by Pam B.

Me Before You by J. Moyes (3 stars)
Entertaining story of caregiver for a quadriplegic. I think the British writing kept me hooked more than the author’s skills. In the end, a tear-jerker and so obvious.   I couldn’t give it more stars.
Review by Pam B.

The Rosie Project by G. Simsion (4 stars)
Adorable. Light, humorous story of man searching for a perfect mate through surveys. Reads fast. Well designed plot.
Review by Pam B.

600 Hours of Edward by C. Lancaster (4 stars)
Billings, MT author writing on a character with Asperger’s and OCD. Style of writing was the best I’ve seen for illuminating the life led by Edward and story line was enough to keep me interested.
Review by Pam B.

Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (3 stars)
While the story of this rower and team is pretty amazing, and the interlaced activities of Germany pre-WWII were interesting and covered well, the description of every race was just too detailed, or too many included, to keep me enthralled in this book. I had to put effort into finishing.
Review by Pam B.

The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn (5 stars)
Great Book! Written as fiction, but showing Biblical prophecy and how it corresponds to where our nation is headed. A ‘wake-up call’ to all who read and understand what it means.
Review by Kandi T.

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel (5 stars)
A compelling book full of evidence for not only the existence of Jesus, but also for his deity – He is the true and living Son of God.
Review by Kandi T.

Divergent by Veronica Roth (5 stars)
Roth writes fluidly and with simplistic confidence that lends to the intrigue and profundity of Divergent. It is almost impossible to stop reading as the plot drives forward so continuously and provoking. Divergent thus guides the reader’s vivid imagination through an artfully, yet strikingly realistically, created world of Roth’s faction society. It will be almost impossible for readers to not fall in love with all of Roth’s characters, or in some case strongly despise them, as Roth’s character development is straightforward and emotionally profound.
Review by Karissa T.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth (5 stars)
With a clear and direct, yet amazingly fluid, writing style, Veronica Roth’s Insurgent is a book that you will never be able to put down. Not too packed and overly descriptive, Roth allows the imagination to run wild and at the same time guides the reader through an intriguingly complex and riveting plot lie. Thus, Insurgent will definitely stay at the top of my favorites list for many years to come.
Review by Karissa T.

Four by Veronica Roth (5 stars)
So skillfully crafted in the voice of Tobias Eaton, Four, successfully complements Roth’s Divergent trilogy. By describing Four’s life before Divergent that continues through half of Divergent, Roth gives the reader a sense of satisfaction as the book effectively underlines the major development of Four’s character and fills  in the holes of perspective that were often missing in both Divergent and Insurgent.
Review by Karissa T.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (5 stars)
John Green captures the reader with his uncanny ability to write on the authentic point of view of a young person while added just enough deep contemplation of older ‘wisdom.’ The book makes the reader question their own lives and contemplate the unanswerable complexities of life and its hardships and joys. The entire story is truly a privilege to read.
Review by Karissa T.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (3 stars)
Set in the 1700’s, this book is reminiscent of Gone with the Wind and The Help. The author uses vivid description and frequent dialogue to keep the reader involved and in anticipation of the fate of Belle, Lavinia, Ben, and Marshal. It is well-written with easy prose that makes me want to keep reading.
Review by Jennifer S.

Gray Mountain by John Grisham (4 stars)
Grisham does in this novel what he does best: takes the reader along as a witness through some seemingly God-forsaken part of the South where evil, corruption, and greed threaten the lives of otherwise anonymous Americans. This particular novel had me emotionally involved not only because the recession of 2008-2009 remains vivid in my memory, but because the greed and gross misconduct of large coal companies has personally affected my family.
Review by Jennifer S.

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry (4 stars)
Kira, with her physical deformity, must learn to survive on her own since she comes from a society that shuns the handicapped. She must find a reason for the elders to keep her in the community. With learning how to dye thread the color of blue for the special ceremony robe be enough to grant her pardon?
Review by Kelsey V.

A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer (5 stars)
Repeatedly beaten, starved, and placed in a bathroom turned into a homemade has chamber, Dave is emotionally, physically and mentally abused by his mother. This torturous game playing mother targeted only Dave while the Dad sat idly by and watched. From indescribable torture to awe-inspiring bravery, the reader wonders who this tortured child made it out alive.
Review by Kelsey V.

The Lord of the Flies by William Golding (3 stars)
A British plane crashes on a deserted island, leaving a group of young boys stranded. Ralph is elected chief for gathering all the survivors together. They hunt, create shelter and use the very basic survival skills they can think of. Creating alliances among one another, Ralph gets shunned. Will the boys find Ralph and the rescue they so desperately need?
Review by Kelsey V.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (3 Stars)
Holden attends a prestigious private school in which he gets expelled for losing the fencing team’s equipment on the subway. He returns after Christmas. After deciding he’s done there he journeys out on his own. After various encounters with people that reveal something to him, he decides to live a s a deaf-mute. What will this part of his life’s journey reveal about himself?
Review by Kelsey V.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (5 stars)
Harper Lee takes us on an amazing journey of one black man’s trial in racism-stricken Alabama in the 1930’s. We follow Scout, Jem, and their pure-hearted, lawyer dad, Atticus, as he tries to defend the innocence of Tom Robinson. Infused with social tribulations, heart-wrenching emotions, and the brutal realities of not loving each other, this book is a must read.
Review by Kelsey V.

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzui (4 stars)
An eye-opening revelation told by a young girl standing up for female education rights in Pakistan. With a dad starting the schools and a mom in full support, Malala is allowed to attend. Speaking out about fair rights and the importance of education for all ages, gets her shot in the head by the Taliban. It also gets her a Nobel Peace Prize.
Review by Kelsey V.

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich (5 stars)
An introduction to Stephanie Plum, One for the Money gives us insight into an unlucky bounty hunter. Her first assignment is a cop, Joe Morelli, who was also a one-time love of hers. Blackmailing Vinnie, the bail bondsman, gets her on the job. On her hunt for Morelli and her percentage of the $100,000 she attracts a heavyweight boxer involved in the murders of many women.
Review by Kelsey V.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (4 stars)
Unlike any apocalyptic tale ever written, Station Eleven is strangely intriguing and profoundly bewildering. Emily takes the horrors of societal collapse and channels the reminiscent beauty that it incurs. Instead of emphasizing the exciting sci-fi fantasy aspects of an apocalypse, Emily captivates the reader by evoking thoughts of human nature. You won’t be able to stop as the novel draws you in like a complex jigsaw puzzle draws a curious child.
Review by Karissa T

Much Ado about Nothing by Shakespeare (not rated)
In this story, Claudio is going to marry Hero, the daughter of Leonato. The Prince’s brother, however, concocts a plan to discredit Hero to Claudio and Claudio falls for it. Hero faints when Claudio accuses her of unfaithfulness, in front of everyone, so her family pretends she has died to find out who framed her. In the end, the reality of what has happened is uncovered and everyone lives happily ever-after. This work of Shakespeare’s was fun to read and had much humor in it, though I like Twelfth Night better.
Review by Paige L

Legend by Marie Lu (not rated)
Set in the future, America has been divided into the Republic in the West and their enemies, the Colonies, in the East. June is a 15 year old prodigy who scored a perfect 1500 on her exam. When her brother is murdered, all the clues point to the criminal mastermind, day. She wants justice for her brother but as she hunts for Day, her search begins to reveal secrets of the Republic they have worked so hard to keep hidden. I really enjoyed reading this book. It is an exciting read.
Review by Paige L

Confessions of a Slacker Mom by Muffy Mead-Ferro (2 stars)
Not quite funny enough to keep my interest, but I do appreciate her insight into how materialistic child rearing has become. She considers being a ‘slacker’ the reason why she doesn’t buy into the hype of needing extravagant baby gear and kids toys. I do appreciate her ideas for simplifying – it’s all about balance!
Review by Jen D

A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children by James T. Webb (4 stars)
An informative guide to raising gifted children. An eye-opening look into the challenges specific to kids who are gifted, different definitions of giftedness, the lack of support for this specific group of kids and what we, as parents and educators, can do to help prevent and treat problems as they arise. A well written and organized books that was interesting enough to keep my attention due to its relatability and practicality.
Review by Jen D

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman (5 stars)
A story so unbelievable that it is hard to believe it is true , yet so relatable that it could happen to you. A fascinating first person account of a woman’s time in prison – insightful, educational, entertaining and surprisingly uplifting. Kerman gives a real ‘face’ to the women she was incarcerated with and, as a result, a ‘voice’ to women in prison everywhere.
Review by Jen D

Motive by Jonathan Kellerman (4 stars)
A great Alex Delaware novel – fun characters and a very real, believable psychological analysis from Dr. Delaware. Kellerman does a good job of weaving together crimes and unpredictable connections to create suspenseful mysteries. His actual background in psychology shines through.
Review by Jen D

Brain on Fire by Sara Cahalan (4 stars)
A great story written about her experiences with a rare virus that caused her to show symptoms of mental illness. I really enjoyed this story – it was suspenseful, insightful and eye-opening. The thought that many people could be wrongly diagnosed with a mental illness is frightening – this book could save many lives!
Review by Jen D

Naked Greed by Stuart Woods (3 stars)
A Stone Barrington novel, great characters, a bit suspenseful, but not one of his best stories. This one focused more on Stone’s playboy lifestyle and was less entertaining than usual. I do love the characters though the plot was a bit thin this time.
Review by Jen D

The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy (3 stars)
The tale of this book is as simple as it gets. McCarthy has an astoundingly large vocabulary and a distaste for typical writing conventions. His books are almost epic prose poems. It’s a good book for summer in that it should be read slowly – with a dictionary at hand. The book tells the story of a bootlegger, a teenager whose father, the bootlegger, killed in self-defense, and the boy’s uncle – a backwards hermit. The book follows the intertwined lives of the 3 men as the world is changed by a modern society they must bear witness to and (futilely) try to fight.
Review by Christopher M

Unless by Carol Shields (3-5 stars)
This book was tragic, but not in the traditional sense, no deaths, no disease. What is tragic is the narrator’s thoughts and reflections regarding the role of woman in this world and especially the literary world. It was touching and heartfelt. The familial relationships were well-developed. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone!
Review by Amber P

History of Western Science by David Lindberg (5 stars)
A very interesting and accessible discussion of how Western Science developed. Although this book was written as a textbook, I very much enjoyed reading it and learned so much. Particularly interesting was to learn that the Romans appropriated Greek science, didn’t really develop it too much further, but maintained the knowledge so that the Renaissance could, much later, build on this. The author ‘apologizes’ in many places, how science then can’t be judged by our standards today. I thought this unnecessary and unfortunate.
Review by Christa M

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (4 stars)
I read this book because my children had read and liked it. I really enjoyed the book and the complex feelings it tackles. In a way it was gratifying how all the threads converged in the end, but my overwhelming feeling was that it happened overly neatly and therefore felt contrived.
Review by Christa M

From Pompeii by Ingrid Rowland (4 stars)
Viewing Pompeii through the eyes of historic visitors and what their experiences was/might have been like. Interesting was to learn that the modern town of Pompeii didn’t exist until the 18th century. It was also interesting to learn how the excavations were handled differently throughout the centuries.
Review by Christa M

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear (4 stars)
I’m not always a fan of Steampunk (it can seem overdone very easily) but I really enjoyed the setting of this book. Karen is a fun character to read and the secondary characters are great as well. The villains are a little too one- dimensional, but overall the story was fun and had some twists that I didn’t expect.
Review by Kristin H

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (5 stars)
Nimona is a graphic novel that started out as a web-comic. It follows the struggles and hi-jinks of Lord Blackheart and his shape-shifting sidekick, Nimona, as they work to overthrow the secretive and possibly evil Institute. It’s funny and just a little bit heart-breaking as well.
Review by Kristin H

Three Dog Road by Joseph Boyden (4 stars)
This book enriched my knowledge of both WWI foot soldiering and Canadian native peoples. Two young men of the Oji-Cree tribe enlist to fight overseas in WWI. You take the journey with him and his Aunt, also an Oji-Cree, down the river home and the stories of both their rich lives unfold. A series of revelations unfold along the way. Very rich in historical context!
Review by Sarah D

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (5 stars)
Amazing read about a period of time (WWII), a place (France), and the people who lived through it (a young German boy and a blind French girl.) The research Doerr put into this along with the exquisite storytelling make it a truly memorable and Pulitzer-prize winning worthy.
Review by Paula B

Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller (5 stars)
Having read her first memoir Don’t Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight and the beginning of the 2nd Scribbling the Cat, this 3rd is the best. I would recommend reading Dogs first, which is a raw account of her African upbringing and provides context to her life as an adult.
Review by Paula B

Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (5 stars)
Fascinating true story about a sport – rowing – that few people understand. The lives of college boys at University of Washington during the Dust Bowl and Depression were beautifully told while relaying the back story of the sport and boat-building. The added twist of the Berlin Olympics and world in turmoil made this a remarkable tale of determination and hope.
Review by Paula B

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty (not rated)
Enjoy this author’s books. The author seems to describe feelings that are exact. Didn’t know anything about Louise Brooks and needed to Google her information. Just proof that talent can come from anywhere. Have read her other books about orphans coming out west, Orphan Train. Can’t imagine the heartache of those kids.
Review by Mariann A

The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty (not rated)
Loved this book because the main character, Evelyn, is similar in age to myself so I have had similar experiences and feelings to her. Liked the parts where she believes her Grandma and church lessons, but was amazed that not all believe and lessons don’t follow each other, so confusion on her part.
Review by Mariann A

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier (not rated)
This author’s books always have strong female characters. Don’t know what I would do in any of their circumstances, but understand all their points of view. Don’t know if she was glad to move further out West. She would have liked husband more when away from his mom/
Review by Mariann A

All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (not rated)
Amazing book. The stories of each character was amazing. Wanted to know if Werner decides whether the mines or the Nazi’s were better. The story of Fredrick was sad. I decided he was the strongest of character of all the boys. We need to find our strengths like he did and hope no one breaks us down.
Review by Mariann A

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (not rated)
I think this was actually the second or third time I have read this book. It is a great read, full of humor and life lessons. I admire Elizabeth for rebelling against some of her society’s beliefs on how woman should behave while still respecting social graces. Jane Austen was a great writer, skillfully using humor, irony, and the quirks of human nature to produce an engaging story.
Review by Paige L

The Selection by Kiera Cass (not rated)
America Singer lives in a future America known as Illia. In a cast system labeled 1-8 she is a five, one step above the servant cast. The prince, Maxon, is of age to marry and as a result America and 34 other eligible girls are chosen to participate in the Selection. Each will be flaunting their stuff to win his attention and to be crowned princess of Illia. An amazing read and if you enjoyed Divergent, you will love the Selection.
Review by Paige L

Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke (not rated)
This book is set in WWII. Rachel Kramer is the daughter of a prominent Eugenist from New York and while she doesn’t feel his work affects her she feels it going in a dark direction. In a sudden twist of fate on a trip to Germany she ends up partnering with an American journalist to save her friend’s deaf daughter from her SSR father. It is an amazing story of love and the value of human life.
Review by Paige L

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (not rated)
Conrad’s book recounts the journey of Marlow, a European man, into the heart of the Congo. Africa is a strange new land that Europeans have been going to for Ivory. Marlow is on a quest to locate Kurtz, an Ivory trader. This book displays the greed that ravaged the men who hunted Ivory and the poor treatment they gave the natives. It is a glimpse into a dark past.
Review by Paige L

Think Twice by Lisa Scottoline (3 stars)
Only have read one other book by this author and liked it better. Can’t relate to Alice’s character but liked reading the lines from Italian characters. If read out loud it sounded just like them.
Review by Mariann A

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman (4 stars)
Love this author’s books. Didn’t know anything about Pissarro’s work so researched and admired art after book was done. Rachel changed after having children and knew to put them first. It was odd not to let Rachel & Frederic marry and live lawfully.
Review by Mariann A

Carry on Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham (5 stars)
A delightful literary journey through early America and the Age of Exploration. This book should be on every child’s summer reading list and a favorite on the shelves of historians nation-wide.
Review by Fabia K

America the Beautiful by Ben Carson (5 stars)
A concise and detailed analysis of key factors that directly contributed to the early success of our nation. This should be mandatory reading on an annual basis for every American citizen!
Review by Fabia K

Beyond the Mist by David Thompson (5 stars)
A thrilling journey through sub-Saharan Africa at the turn of the century. Rich with geography, two cultures meeting, human transparency across language barriers, and more. A most delightful read!
Review by Fabia K

On Call by David Thompson (5 stars)
A heart-wrenching autobiography of one American physician’s quest to use his skills, training, and knowledge in line with his passion of helping the forgotten people of Gabon, Africa. A revealing glimpse into the over-consumption of our N. American way of life compared to how others live.
Review by Fabia K

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer (5 stars)
A descriptive and informative work on all things related to classical education. Includes thorough summaries, as well as highly-detailed and structured recommendations for each age/grade/stage. Rounded out with an impressive list of resources!
Review by Fabia K

Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis (5 stars)
A delightful autobiography of a young American girl who gave up the pursuit of the “American Dream” and all of her parents and peers expectations of her in order to pursue a grander purpose in Uganda.
Review by Fabia K

Elegy for a Lost Star by Elizabeth Haydon (3 stars)
I really like this series as it is really inventive and the author does an excellent job of creating a diverse and vivid character set. However, I did not like this particular book as much as the first three in the series. The story-line was a little too unbelievable and it doesn’t quite have the same momentum and build up as the original three books did.
Review by Sarah D

The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter (4 stars)
I thought this was a very inventive story. I liked how she created an alternate reality in England with the alternative religious and magical culture while still maintaining many aspects of the original reality. She had a very good character development and kept the pace of the story moving along nicely without being too predictable.
Review by Sarah D

Murder on K Street by Margaret Truman (4 stars)
I thought it was a very engaging story about the reality in Washington D.C. It kept me guessing the whole time. However, it felt that the ending was a little rushed. But the character development was really good and it wasn’t too predictable.
Review by Sarah D

Stardust by Neil Gaiman (4 stars)
Stardust was a very enjoyable story that really grabs your attention from the first chapter. A very accurate yet whimsical tale of love and maturity and all the heartache along with it. Mr. Gaiman is one of my favorite authors and this book is a great example of why.
Review by Amma S

Winter in the Blood by James Welch (4 stars)
Winter in the Blood was my first James Welch experience and I loved it! He’s the Hemingway of Native American Literature in both voice and importance. This book was a very intense look into modern Native American culture and how the past is all too real for some. An incredibly beautiful, heart-wrenching novel
Review by Amma S

The Mayor of Lexington Avenue by James Sheehan (5 stars)
This book was a quick and intriguing read. The author pulled together three timelines of different periods and stories of the multiple characters and pieced it perfectly together at the final courtroom showdown. Great thriller action with great vindication for justice at the end - that those who practice law are not above it.
Review by Lisa L

The First Patient by Michael Palmer (4 stars)
This was a great political thriller and a fascinating look into the insider view of being in the President’s circle. The role of President is such a powerful one that so many groups/parties/influences could want him removed for their own gain and political control. The book’s perspective of letting you know before the main characters which of the President’s protectors was actually causing him harm was such a page turner to the final ultimate reveal which still had a twist of an extra antagonist so much closer than you were thinking. Great read!
Review by Lisa L

The Damned by Andrew Pyper (4 stars)
Absolute page turner! This book was a totally different genre and topic – about crossing to the other side and near death experiences. Really creepy to think about lingering spirits, especially malevolent ones! Really great imagination came to play about what someone’s personal hell or heaven would be once they die and how to survive. The sibling interactions were so scary and sinister and manipulative, gave chills!
Review by Lisa L

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks (5 stars)
Such a great novel – knowing Thibault’s secret but reading the development of love between him and Elizabeth was hard, you knew she was going to find out but how, and how would she react? He was such a sweet guy doing chores and miscellaneous project for her family. The ending with the storm was impossible to put down and a nail biter.
Review by Lisa L

Stars Go Blue by Laura Pritchett (5 stars)
Inside a family with all its messy stuff. Western rural mountain setting I relate to, with its wind and cold weather a big part of it – and family secrets and pain. You are inside Ben’s head, thinking what he has to do, ways to remember – he knows he has dementia and he must do some things before he can’t remember what they are to avenge his daughter’s death.
Review by Secilia M

Book Reviews - 2014

March by Geraldine Brooks (5 atoms)
In March, we follow what happens to Mr. March at war, while his “little women” are at home in Concord. This book, decidedly an adult’s view, follows him through the horrors of war and how to keep going despite pain, mistakes, and remorse. Beautifully written and meticulously researched, March brings the reader through all this and to a conclusion that acknowledges sorrow and fear, but also embraces joy.
Review by Karen F.

A Thief of Time by Tony Hillerman (5 atoms)
Hillerman always supplies his Navajo-based mysteries with a large dollop of history and culture. In this one, Joe Leaphorn, must grapple with grief, find a killer, and recover his sense of purpose. The intricate plot ties up widely dispersed threads for a satisfying conclusion, but the book also brings in themes and information that make it an especially good read.
Review by Karen F.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters (5 atoms)
Beautiful Ruins manages to say interesting things about the nature of love, aging, and our choices with a story that time-shifts between the 60’s and current times, with stops in between. Who knew that a book involving movie stars, Hollywood, a tiny Italian town, and a large cast of characters could be so engaging?
Review by Karen F.

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Galbraith (4 atoms)
Great classic mystery style with good character development. Well developed plot fits together as Rowling is famous for.
Review by Pam B.

Demon Camp: A Soldier’s Exorcism by Jennifer Percy (3 atoms)
I enjoyed the author’s description of this soldier’s personal history narrative and description of his paths into and during the army. She gives an in-depth look at the struggles of an enlisted soldier with few other options. I also appreciated the soldier’s honesty to the author regarding his PTSD experiences. It was a good eye opener as to the epidemic of PTSD in our soldiers. The demon possession parts and exorcisms got to be a bit far out there for me and made the book seem more like fiction at times – that is why I only rated it a 3.
Review by Jennifer D.

They Say that I am Broken by Svann Langford (4 atoms)
The author gives a brutally honest glimpse into her tragic past, the toll years of abuse had on her emotionally and spiritually, and her struggles to overcome such trauma. She is inspirational in her recovery and resilience. She gives a great personal narrative regarding self injury and is a wealth of information for anyone struggling with or interested in treating the self-injury population.
Review by Jennifer D.

Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia by Jean Sasson (5 atoms)
A great glimpse into the life of those so far removed from our own culture,  that it is hard to believe people still live this way today. I enjoyed the “Princess” Mavery in opening up about her life and experiences. It reminds us not to judge a book by its cover when encountering those who have vastly different beliefs and cultures than our own, it is a great eye opener into life and traditions in Saudi Arabia and how different their way of life is.
Review by Jennifer D.

Journeys of Simplicity by Phillip Harden, Ed. (3 atoms)
Thomas, Merton, Basho, Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard and others share their pared-down packing lists. They prove that traveling light is the best way to journey through life. The hard part was reading only reading a couple of pages at a time.
Review by Laura B

All Saints by Liam Callahan (not rated)
A 50 year old teacher of Saints & Sinners at a Catholic school in California falls for a student, gets mixed up in a suicide, and finally decides how she feels about abortion. Not a light read!
Review by Christy S

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (4 atoms)
I was late to this book – everybody read it 2 years ago. I admired the page turning quality – I love a thriller. Especially when you can figure out the sick twist right in the middle. Haven’t met such a demented villain in a long time
Review by Christy S

Talkativeness by Earl Craig (not rated)
You think you can’t sit down and read poetry. You can, especially with Earl’s poetry. A farrier poet in Livingston, this poet gets the tiniest details of life to shed their profound truths.
Review by Christy S

The End of the Point by Elizabeth Graver (not rated)
I discovered this writer last year when I came to the library and played my favorite trick – read the 1st book I touch, randomly. It was The Honey Thief, brilliant. This is her new book, the history of a piece of ground on Buzzard’s Bay and that ground’s attendant family. Moving, with utter gettable characters.
Review by Christy S

The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst (not rated)
The havoc wrecked by one character’s intersection with a family. Multigenerational and devastating, this is still fun to read. He is a prose master.
Review by Christy S

In the After by Demetria Lunetta (5 atoms)
Great, fast-moving story. Great characters, suspenseful ending (there is a sequel.) Great for fans of YA dystopian fiction.
Review by Carmen

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (4 atoms)
This novel follows a Jewish religious book through history as a modern day story unfolds as well. Great research done by Brooks, engaging story with amazing details and knowledge. I thoroughly enjoyed this book as I like some facts with my fiction.

 

 

 Groundbreaking Reads

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

 

 

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