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Staff Book Reviews

Book Review: Still Alice
Genova, Lisa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

What a remarkable book! So real and poignant, I can't believe that this is a novel. This book is told from Alice's point of view as she copes her life with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. The title says it all, she's Still Alice in spite of the effects of this devastating disease. Highly recommended.

Reviewer's Name: Lisa
Genres:
5-Minute Palace Pet Stories
Fliess, Sue
2 stars = Meh
Review:

This book is little girl crack. It's unfair. They can't resist it. I mean, princesses and cute little pets with big eyes and impish smiles? Stories about their adventures? And did I mention, princesses?! Zoe ate it up. If it were up to her, this book would get 5,000,000 pink, sparkly stars. But it's not. I had to read it to her. 5 TIMES. Make it stop.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Book Review: Return to the Hundred Acre Wood
Benedictus, David
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

My daughter loves Winnie the Pooh. We read the first collection and she wanted to read more so I found this book, excited to read it to her. Imagine my surprise when I learned this was not written by A. A. Milne. The jacket looks like an A. A. Milne book. The illustrations look like an A. A. Milne book. But it's an imposter! My initial reaction was one of shock, but I decided to give it a try. I got two sentences in before I threw it down in disgust. This is merely a sad attempt at spoofing A. A. Milne's writing. I find it hard to believe that A. A. Milne's family would have agreed to this. If I could give this book less than one star, I would. Yuck!

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Book Review: The Hired Girl
Schlitz, Laura Amy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Newbery winning author Laura Amy Schlitz has written a wonderful story set in 1911 about 14-year-old Joan Skraggs who runs away from a dismal home life on a farm to Baltimore where she finds employment as a hired girl in a Jewish household. The book is written as Joan's diary so it reveals her innermost thoughts and feelings which made me really want her to succeed. Her deep love of literature really hit a nerve for me too! Highly recommended.

Reviewer's Name: Lisa
Genres:
Book Review: The Terrible Two
Barnett, Mac
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A great book for reluctant readers, particularly boys. It started out okay, Miles was a bit lame, but this was the authors' intention. They set him up as the novice prankster. Niles schools both Miles and the reader in the fine art of pranking. Miles schools Niles in how to be a friend. Well played, Terrible Two.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Book Review: Fever, 1793
Anderson, Laurie Halse
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This started off as a typical teen novel, adult writer trying too hard to relate to young people. But as the book went on, either I got used to it, or the narrative improved. I positively enjoyed about the halfway point onward. Good historical fiction. Educational and compelling.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Genres:
Book Review: Half of a Yellow Sun
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

It started off pretty slow, but story continually became more intense and ended in a sadly beautiful way. Great character development and an insight into a war I knew nothing about. Down to earth writing style and loved the varied perspectives from such a wide array of personalities.

Reviewer's Name: Cassie
Genres:
Book Review: The Sex Lives of Cannibals
Troost, J. Maarten
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This one was pretty fun. A white guy's experience living in the Southern Pacific on a incredibly remote island called Kiribati. Definitely had some humorous moments. The most I got out of it though was that I had never heard of Kiribati and that I should do more research on it.

Reviewer's Name: Cassie
Genres:
Book Review: Super Sad True Love Story
Shteyngart, Gary
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This certainly was a super sad, albeit not really true, love story. I really enjoyed the near-future setting with the destruction of the U.S. and the "sci-fi-ish" element with the Post-Human Services idea, and the fact that it was written like journal entries is a plus because that makes any book crazy easy to read. Makes one wonder about the prospect of love and the future.

Reviewer's Name: Cassie
Genres:
Book Review: Normal
Cameron, Graeme
2 stars = Meh
Review:

It started off really intriguing, almost like a Dexter meets Hannibal premise. Ended I don't know where. I couldn't tell how the author was trying to portray the narrator. Was he a psychopath with daddy issues or a hopeless romantic who deserved empathy and compassion? It's a big meh.

Reviewer's Name: Cassie
Genres:
Book Review: Denton Little's Deathdate
Rubin, Lance
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is a totally out-there look at death and dying young. In a world where everyone knows the day that they're going to die, Denton Little has known that he would die when he was 17 for his entire life.

Though this could be more of a tear jerker along the lines of a John Green novel, Rubin has turned a gruesome topic into a hysterical read. Denton's end of life adventures are super funny and irreverent. A great read for anyone who enjoyed "Going Bovine" or "Grasshopper Jungle".

Reviewer's Name: Corrie
Genres:
Book Review: The Animals
Kiefer, Christian
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

There are parts of this book so heartbreaking that I almost hesitate to recommend it, especially to anyone who loves animals. However the writing is so wonderful that it transcends that negative aspect. This is the gritty story of a man attempting to overcome a past filled with addiction, petty crime, and character flaws by running an animal rescue operation in rural Idaho. It's not long, of course, before that past returns to haunt him and threaten his new life. The characters, both animal and human, are brilliantly portrayed and a chapter written from the perspective of Majer the bear is a highlight of the book. A great exploration of the possibility of redemption and the inevitability of heartache when one cares for animals!

Reviewer's Name: Alan
Book Review: Go Set a Watchman
Lee, Harper
2 stars = Meh
Review:

The latest Harper Lee book has had so much publicity and hype and I'm sorry to say that it is not warranted. I was really hoping that I would like it because I enjoyed her earlier book and the movie of To Kill a Mockingbird.
I don't want to give too much away in this review, but this book was missing the magic of the first book. The character of Atticus seemed completely different and not in a good way. Jean Louise (Scout) is now twenty-six and unfortunately was not someone that I could care deeply about. Very disappointing.

Reviewer's Name: Lisa
Genres:
Book Review: American Born Chinese
Yang, Gene Luen
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Not bad. I enjoyed every part of this book except for the monkey god sections. I don't know, those parts just didn't appeal to me. I rarely read graphic novels so maybe certain things were lost on me because of the format. Overall I was somewhat underwhelmed

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Book Review: At the Water's Edge
Gruen, Sara
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This was my first Sara Gruen book and it was thoroughly enjoyable. I have not read many books from this time period set in Scotland, so it was interesting to see how they were living their lives. I liked the characters (well, except for Ellis, but I loved that I disliked him so much). A slight mystical element rounded out a truly good story.

Reviewer's Name: Krista
Genres:
Book Review: As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust
Bradley, Alan
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Not my favorite of the series. SO many characters, I had a hard time remembering them all! I understand it must have been nice to have Flavia visiting his home country (the author is Canadian), but I preferred the books set in Bishop's Lacey, England.

Reviewer's Name: Krista
Genres:
Book Review: Show Dog
Dean, Josh
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Very interesting inside look at the world of show dogs. You follow the progress of Jack, the Australian Shepherd, but the author also gives you a brief history of dog shows in general, different breeds, and even the evolution of the dog from wild animal to domesticated pet. Well written and fun to read (I finished it in just a couple of days), this is a great book!

Reviewer's Name: Krista
Genres:
Book Review: Shadows Over Paradise
Wolff, Isabel
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I love dual timeline novels, as long as they are well done. This one alternate betweens Jenni, who is a ghostwriter who prefers to dig into other people's lives rather than deal with her own past, and Klara, a Dutch woman who was interned in a camp on Java during WWII. Jenni is an interesting character, but I felt like she was more of a foil for Klara's amazing story of survival. Very powerful book, one that will linger in my mind for quite a while, I'm sure.

Reviewer's Name: Krista
Genres:
Book Review: The Sock Thief
Crespo, Ana
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

My daughter and I really enjoyed this book, which was written by a local author. We learned about Brazilian culture and the role football (soccer) plays in various world cultures. Well written and illustrated, we definitely recommend this book!

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Book Review: Circus Mirandus
Beasley, Cassie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is a heartwarming story of the relationship of Micah with his grandpa plus the magical aspect of the mysterious Circus Mirandus. Micah is a wonderful well-rounded character and you really feel his deep desire to help his grandpa at all costs. I loved this book and the writing style of its author, Cassie Beasley.

Reviewer's Name: Lisa

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