Adult Book Reviews

Book Review: The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving
Evison, Jonathan
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

From the technical aspect, it was fantastic. The prose was warm, conversational and casual, yet intelligent. The characters were well developed and complicated, yet relatable and amiable. The plot was marvelously weaving in and out within itself and came together seamlessly. It was an easy read, yet I took so much away from it. From a personal and emotional aspect, it hit every human emotion so directly and so real, I fell in love with the narrator and every person he encountered during the story.

Many times, I felt I was seeing so clearly from Ben's eyes and connecting so well, and the same with many of the other characters. They were all so human.

When I finished, I almost felt like keeping a secret so that I could have the experience all to myself, but I feel like many other people could find something within this story to help them through whatever life is throwing at them.

Cassie
Safran, John
4 stars = Really Good

I am a fan of true crime, but I have never actually read a true crime book. I just watch alot of Investigation Discovery! I read several reviews of "God'll Cut You Down" and they were all positive. So I had to read it. What an intriguing story about a murder in Mississippi. John Safran was able to convey what living in Mississippi is like - the haves, the have-nots, politics,etc. It made me sad and afraid to realize that people are still upset over the Civil War. That really stuck with me. But the story of Richard Barrett and Vincent McGee is still a mystery as to what really went on and what lead to murder. I just wish we could know about their secret lives and if that was the real motive behind the murder. A really great true crime book! I couldn't put it down!

Melissa M.
Book Review: Murder on the Orient Express
Christie, Agatha
4 stars = Really Good

A classic whodunit. Campy but fun. I'm not really a mystery person, which is probably why I didn't give it 5 stars. I found myself getting bored with the whole process about 2/3 of the way through. But I really liked the ending.

vfranklyn
Book Review: City of Bohane
Barry, Kevin
2 stars = Meh

Once I finally got a hold of the Irish dialect, it just ended, leaving much to be desired. I don't feel like there was any resolution, or even a point to the entire story.

Cassie
Book Review: Beautiful You
Palahniuk, Chuck.
4 stars = Really Good

Glad to have stuck with Palahniuk after reading the Pygmy atrocity. This one was classic Chuck. Shocking, slightly disturbing, darkly humorous, unexpected.

Cassie
Book Review: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage
Murakami, Haruki
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Murakami's quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. This story was exactly what my soul needed. It was so human and it kept me out of my head. When it ended, it left me with so many questions, but as much as that usually bothers me, it was the most perfect of an ending as it could be. Because that's what life does, it leaves you with unanswered questions.

Cassie
Book Review: Wolf in White Van
Darnielle, John
3 stars = Pretty Good

It was an easy read, very down to earth language and kept me interested the whole book through. But when I finished it, I didn't feel accomplished at all. I don't think I really took anything away from it. And that was a little disappointing. I do love how Darnielle's songwriting style transfers over to a novel; Darnielle is a great writer and I loved lyrical way that his story came together.

Cassie
Book Review: Pygmy
Palahniuk, Chuck
1 star = Yuck!

Not even close to some of Palaniuk's best works. The voice was irritating and childish. Couldn't connect to any of the characters or the storyline. Even though I'm used to Palahniuk using shocking themes, but it was like he was trying to justify the use of rape and really pushed the humor of the dildo to the point where I didn't care anymore. I just wanted to get to the ending in hopes that he would redeem himself (since my favorite thing about him is the crazy endings in his writing) but this was so saccharine and Disney-esque I disliked

Cassie
Book Review: Moth and Spark
Leonard, Anne
1 star = Yuck!

I was excited to read this book when I found it on the shelf. The excerpt on the back of the book had beautiful descriptive language, and it indicated a storyline full of dragons and adventure. Unfortunately the best part of the entire book was on the back of the cover to tempt in readers, but the rest of the book did not live up to it's promise. The author was attempting to write a fantasy novel, but it read like a romance. The characters were flat. They behaved in ways no person outside a romance novel would behave. Many of the conflicts set up to create tension and plot lines just fell away with no challenge to the main characters, as if the author was not sure how to resolve them in one books time. The jacket indicated that the author holds an MFA and a phD. She doesn't write like it. Stay away from this one unless you are a fan of sappy romances.

Lisa
The Hound of the Baskervilles
Doyle, Arthur Conan
4 stars = Really Good

The epitome of classic mysteries. A thoroughly enjoyable whodunit. Generally, mysteries aren't my thing, but I very much enjoyed this book.

vfranklyn
Book Review: A Homemade Life
Wizenberg, Molly
3 stars = Pretty Good

Molly Wizenberg, creator of the popular blog, Orangette, has written an intriguing story of her life centered around the kitchen. No chapter is longer than 5 pages, followed by a recipe or two around which that chapter is written. I want to try them all - from Burg's (her father) Potato Salad to Fresh ginger cake with caramelized pears. I'm inclined to purchase this book .... for the recipes alone!

Vickie S.
Book Review: No Man's War
Ricketts, Angela
3 stars = Pretty Good

This book first interested me because the author's husband is still active duty Army, stationed here in Colorado Springs. The sub-title is "Irrevernt confessions of an Infantry wife." I wondered how she could get away with writing such a book, since military dependants are advised that anything said or done could reflect adversely on their sponsor's career. And yet, she writes candidly and humorously. I admired her insistence that she is an "Army brat," who grew up to become an "Army wife," not a "military spouse." The language gets rough in some chapters, but, as an "Air Force wife" myself, I had to keep reading, to see what she said next. Of course, all names have been changed to protect "the innocent, the not-so-innocent, and those who remain in The Fight." Ranger on!

Vickie S.
Book Review: The Boy in the Suitcase
Kaaberbol, Lene
4 stars = Really Good

This was a book club book. It wouldn't have been on my radar otherwise. That's what I love about my book club, I often get to read good books I would otherwise miss. Which makes me think of how many other great books there are out there that I'll never get the chance to read. Anyways, this book was very good. I definitely recommend it. It takes place in Denmark and Lithuania so I was a bit confused on the geographical aspect, but that's my fault, not the book's. The author crafts an engaging storyline with well defined characters. This book is translated, so I bet it's even better in the original language, read by someone who knows the culture and geography.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Dirty Daddy
Saget, Bob
3 stars = Pretty Good

I laughed out loud a few times, so there's that. Sagat's dirty, of course, but he also has heart. It took me a little while to get into his mindset, but once I was there I thoroughly enjoyed it. I recommend listening on audio because he reads it, which is great.

vfranklyn
Book Review: Man's Search for Meaning
Frankl, Viktor
4 stars = Really Good

That something so important could come out of the holocaust is amazing. I can imagine Dr. Frankl studying and analyzing the psychology of survival in his head while a prisoner, and then finally writing and publishing his greatest achievement. Logotherapy is a sound explanation on the meaning of life. Great book.

Virginia
Book Review: Cleo: The Cat who Mended a Family
Brown, Helen
3 stars = Pretty Good

A kitten delivered to a family after a horrible tragedy helps them heal in ways they never would have imagined. The beginning is very sad and yet Cleo is such a wonderful addition to the family. The middle of the story sagged a bit for me, but then picked up at the end. Reminiscent of a feline Marley & Me.

Krista
Book Review: Real Santa
Hazelgrove, William
4 stars = Really Good

Very fun book about an unemployed father determined to keep his daughter's belief in Santa Claus alive. Through an increasingly complex (and expensive) scheme, we encounter wannabe directors, incontinent reindeer, and just a touch of magic. If you like zany but heartfelt holiday stories, pick this one up!

Krista
Book Review: Leaving Time
Picoult, Jodi
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Thirteen-year-old Jenna Metcalf has lived with her grandmother, after her mother disappeared and her father is sent to a psychiatric ward a decade ago when a caretaker at their elephant sanctuary is trampled. Jenna keeps searching online and reading her mother's old journals in search of answers. Desperate, she turns to Serenity Jones, a psychic who had success in the past finding missing persons, and to Virgil Stanhope, a drunken private detective who had originally investigated Jenna's mother's disappearance. The ending caught me completely off guard. A great read!

Vickie
Book Review: Crime and Punishment
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

I think what made this book so amazing to me was my originally misconceptions about it. All I knew about it was that it was "creepy and disturbing", and looking down at the plain orange and black cover with a not-very-interesting name, I thought, "Oh well, I have little to expect out of this book." I then realized that the characters had more personality than expected and that the storyline was, yes, disturbing in many aspects, but very compelling. It is a very philosophical book that is thought-provoking in every chapter. I will not spoil any of this wonderful book as I hope that you will read it yourself! It changed my life and is my favorite book! Audiences recommended are older teen to adult. The themes in this book are not suitable for those younger than high school, and it would be confusing and not as meaningful for those who are younger. Despite this, it is a moving and powerful story about the struggle of identity in man, and I highly recommend it to all in the range of the intended audience.

Frostbite Alchemist
Book Review: Serafina's Stories
Anaya, Rudolfo
4 stars = Really Good

Serafina's Stories shares the folklore of the southwest through the story telling template of Scheherazade's One Thousand and One Nights. Rudolfo Anaya focuses on the time of the Pueblo revolt against the Spanish Conquistadores. The captured Serafina weaves tales from both Pueblo and Spanish tradition that illuminate the similarites and differences of the peoples struggling to coexist in the same land.

Maria
Book Review: All The Light We Cannot See
Doerr, Anthony
4 stars = Really Good

Set during World War II in France and Germany, this beautifully written novel tells story of a young blind French girl named Marie-Laure and a young German boy named Werner, whose paths cross only briefly in the story. For a time, we are caught up in the lives of these two sympathetic characters and the lives of those around them, caught up, like them, in the war itself.

Bill
Book Review: A Discovery of Witches
Harkness, Deborah E.
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Normally I don't read fantasy, but a book store owner and PPLD patron recommend A Discovery of Witches to me. I loved it and the other 2 in the trilogy. Although it has vampires, witches and demons, it isn't the usual blood-sucker massacre. Without giving away the plot, witches, vampires and demons are all looking for The Book of Life to discover what in their genetic makeup makes them different from humans. It is very well written. It's an adult book, but older teens would like it, too.

Susan
Book Review: Gone Girl
Flynn, Gillian
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

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.

Chantal
Book Review: Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft
Heyerdahl, Thor
4 stars = Really Good

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!

Laura
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Strayed, Cheryl
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

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.

Cindy