Staff Book Reviews
AMAZING book. They say "never judge a book by its cover" but that's exactly what I did. I randomly selected this book based on the cover and it did not disappoint. It has been a long time since I have read a book that kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. A great psychological thriller with a lot of unexpected twists and turns. I finished the book in one day! Since then, it has been brought to life on the big screen and is currently playing in theaters. I have not gone to watch the film yet, but it has also gotten great reviews. Of course, read the book first and then go see the movie.
I am embarrassed to admit that I had not heard of this book, expedition, or the theory behind it all, but I am glad I corrected that. Basically, Norwegian anthropologist/botonist/zoologist/other-titles-ending-in-ists Thor Heyerdahl, after living in Polynesia conducting graduate level research, hypothesized that the islands were populated by Peruvians from traveling from the east -- and not from peoples of Asia, which was the widely-accepted belief. The main argument against Heyerdahl's theory was that ancient Peruvians did not have boats -- they had balsa wood rafts. It was not believed that rafts could make a journey of that magnitude. To prove his theory, Heyerdahl built a craft using materials exactly like the ancient Peruvians (no metal -- nails. wire,etc) and set off on the 4000 mile journey with 5 other explorers and a parrot. It was so exciting -- read like a novel more than a nonfiction memoir. The only thing preventing me from giving it 5 stars is that I thought it was a bit "too happy." I am sure these men suffered on this journey (sunburn, salt sores, homesick, hunger, tired of being trapped on a small raft for 100 days, etc...) yet other than a brief mention of someone getting seasick, it sounded more like a summer camp experience. Still, I really liked it!
Strayed's memoir of her hike from California to Oregon on the Pacific Coast Trail reads like a novel. She opens with a scene more than midway through the book and leaves the reader wondering how she'll overcome such a major obstacle, but that's pretty much how the whole book reads. Her younger self is unprepared for such a grueling hike, and makes mistakes and misjudgments the entire way, but that makes you root for her to make it (and makes you worry that something bad will happen before she does). She's a flawed character, struggling and imperfect, which makes the internal journey as fraught and interesting as the hike.
This is a great book for readers who enjoy biography and memoir, but fiction readers who enjoy stories of strong women in challenging situations will be drawn to the character. It is well-written by someone who knows how to draw the reader into their world.
A great read for those interested in Mt. Everest. While "Into Thin Air" is the classic book about the deadly 1996 climbing season on Mt. Everest, there are some factual inaccuracies that Jon Krakauer neglected to correct. In "The Climb," Anatoli Boukreev tells the story of the deadly storm from his perspective, correcting some mistaken views of his actions during the climb. With the recent deaths and rising controversy about guided tours on Everest, "The Climb" provides a unique perspective on the topic.
After reading all of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, I decided to try another series by Charlaine Harris. Real Murders is the first book in the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries and I am hooked. The writing is fun to read and easy to get involved in. Harris has a way of creating characters that come to life on the pages. I would recommend this for anyone who just wants an enjoyable read.
I would say I have a pretty large fascination/genuine interest in prison, the criminal justice system, and prison culture and I sincerely enjoyed reading Piper Kerman's book from cover to cover. Not only does she provide a detailed account of her experience in a federal women's prison, but she does so without catering exclusively to the gritty details and instead offers an in-depth experience for the reader.
Instead of feeling like you're reading a tragic soap opera of events, I finished this book feeling thoughtful and more than a little sad about America's prison system. One can't help but wonder about those still incarcerated, especially in the federal prison system, and wonder what we are really doing by warehousing humans the way we do.
While Piper doesn't attempt to guide the book into long diatribes against our prisons, she does make some very meaningful observations such as this one:
"Great institutions have leaders who are proud of what they do, and who engage with everyone who makes up those institutions, so each person understands their role. But our jailers are generally granted near-total anonymity, like the cartoon executioner who wears a hood to conceal his identity. What is the point, what is the reason, to lock people away for years, when it seems to mean so very little, even to the jailers who hold the key? How can a prisoner understand their punishment to have been worthwhile to anyone, when it's dealt in a way so offhand and indifferent?"
I hope this book can be more than a tastefully offensive miniseries and maybe a watershed to actual change.
By the time I finished this book I was numb. It is so beautifully written that you can't help but commit to it entirely. While the contents are far from pleasant, the characters are explored to such a degree of depth that the reader becomes entwined in the often confusing points of view shared by the protagonists.
Dubus seems to slip almost effortlessly between male and female characters with internal dialogue that is achingly realistic. After Kathy Nicolo loses the house she inherited from her father in a bureaucratic mistake, the house is snatched up at auction by a deposed Iranian Air Force Colonel. In the fight that ensues to recover (and retain) the house, it becomes apparent that the stakes are much higher than anyone ever imagined.
Just as sand shifts beneath our feet, the ground that holds us is often not as stable as it seems. Fog obscures the vision, preventing us from seeing things as clearly and clouding our judgment. The House of Sand and Fog combines those two elements in this dark and deeply moving story.
Another amazing book by Jodi Picoult. Absolutely fantastic. Just.... wow.
p.s. I love books that make me want to learn more about a topic, and this book gave me a new awareness and appreciation for these amazing animals (elephants) and the people who care and advocate for them.
I just thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Light and sweet, but with enough substance to not make me gag. I happen to love clutzy protagonists, and Rosie got into enough scrapes to make me laugh out loud. Aunt Lilian's story kept the whole novel grounded for me, if it was a stand-alone novel, it would be quite depressing. In my opinion, their stories balanced each other to make a wonderful story. The supporting cast was great as well, I particularly loved when Edison came around!
This was a fascinating look at an Indian epic, which I do not know much about. Told from the point of view of a woman was a very clever way to put a new twist on a story! I wavered between 3 1/2 and 4 stars for this one, primarily due to the fact that I was occasionally completely confused as to who she was talking about at any given moment. Many of the names are very similar, and although she gave a short list in the front of the book, it did not come close to capturing all of the players in the epic. If I had to do it again, I'd probably make a cheat sheet bookmark of who everyone is!
However, it makes me want to learn more about the Mahabharata, which as I've always said is the mark of a good book!
Varied between 3 1/2 - 4 stars. I actually enjoyed the stories of the ghosts more than the Walkers. I didn't really care for anyone in the family except Amy. The writing is wonderful as with all the Lauren Oliver books I've read, even when I wasn't sure I wanted to continue, I was compelled to finish the book just because of the way she describes things (in this case, not always pleasant, but still interesting).
Read this book in about 1 day, I couldn't put it down! I felt "uncomfortable" reading it - watching someone spiral into deeper and deeper problems is a little difficult, I just wanted to shout at her "Sophie, STOP IT!!!" Fun book to read, I look forward to this author's next book!
This book was clever and entertaining, just like Sarah Silverman. I listened to it on audiobook and it was read by the author, which I highly recommend. A very sincerely sweet and funny book.
This book was really good. The story was engaging and the characters were interesting and multi-dimensional. It was about a week ago that I finished this book, so really I don't remember what I was going to review. But it was good. The only problem I had was that something major happened towards the end of the book that I didn't feel was addressed enough or resolved completely.
This book was incredible. The narrative was so powerfully written I felt transported in time to the antebellum south. I'm embarrassed that I'd never heard of Sarah and Nina Grimke before this book. They are inspirational heroes of their time. Handful was so beautifully and hauntingly drawn that I felt she was as real as Sarah and Nina. I can't recommend this book enough! Sue Monk Kidd did her research, that's for sure. The story was so realistic it could pass for nonfiction. Awesome!
Not exactly a meticulously researched volume on the women in the West. Lots of speculation. However, it was very readable and interesting. I liked that the author tried to make the subjects as human as possible. It's so strange to me that these women lived in a West that was so raw and untamed little more than a century ago. Good, quick read.
Stumbled across this title through Goodreads, and I am so glad I did!
The author gives and honest, sometimes sad, sometimes hilarious view of her experiences moving to Italy rather impulsively. I didn't realize she had a blog, now I'm going to go through the photos to match faces with people I feel I've met through her book! Highly recommend.
I would start this novel and read a few chapters, then lay it down for a day or so, then pick it back up and have no idea what the book was about. The beginning doesn't grip at all. It gets better towards the middle. I'm not sure why I kept reading it, to be honest. The storyline is interesting, but the writing is disconnected.
This book is a compilation of essays on a variety of subjects. Thought provoking and beautiful, I highly recommend this quick read. I especially appreciated Angelou's observation that instead of "you can't go home again", it's more accurate to say you can't ever leave home, meaning your first home, where you grew up. I find this to be very true as I often think of where I grew up and the friends I had there as a child. Thankfully, I'm able to keep in touch with the most dear of them on Facebook.
Umm. Wow. This was an amazing book - it was weird, and beautiful, and horrible all at the same time. Reminded me somewhat of Far Far Away as it was like the original versions of fairy tales, dark and disturbing, but awe-inspiring at the same time. I had to keep reminding myself that this is cataloged as a teen book - I think adults would love it and appreciate the writing as well. Anyone who argues that YA novels are not sophisticated or that they are written at a lower level should pick up a copy of this book. Fantastic.