Staff Book Reviews

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: Nation
Pratchett, Terry
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Just when Mau has completed the ritual of surviving on an island apart that should mark his transition to manhood, the tidal wave hits. Before he can reach the festival on the shores of home, his entire village is destroyed. As the sole survivor, Mau must learn how to rebuild the Nation. At first this is just a physical rebuilding, but as castaways begin to wash up on shore, Mau is compelled to reconstruct the community and spiritual aspects of his heritage as well. Pratchett weaves an engaging story that is sometimes somber, frequently humorous, and as smart as his resourceful characters.

Renee
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: Cinder
Meyer, Marissa
4 stars = Really Good

As a cyborg--part human, part technology-- sixteen-year-old Cinder is the lowest of the low and an embarrassment to her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interface gives her the ability to tell when people are lying to her, and to access to a netlink with news, and manuals that help her be the best mechanic in New Beijing. Being the best mechanic comes in handy when the Prince needs his android repaired and this is how Cinder and Prince Kai meet. This story's contains elements familiar to the fairy tale: evil stepmother, prince, a small foot, and a ball; but the resemblance ends there and takes the story a million miles beyond the original tale. The story has one small flaw, but it is barely noticeable in this can't-wait-to-see-what-happens-next retelling.

Renee
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: Matched
Condie, Ally
3 stars = Pretty Good

This is a teen melodrama romance so there's a bit of navel gazing going on. It seemed to me that the main character tried too hard to be poetic, which was somewhat annoying. But it picks up towards the middle and becomes a more interesting. I plan to read the second in the series. If I were a teenage girl, I would probably give this book a higher rating, so apologies to the author.

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: Anna Dressed in Blood
Blake, Kendare
4 stars = Really Good

Anna was sixteen and on her way to a school dance when she was killed. Someone cut her throat...someone nearly cut her head clean off! They say she was wearing a white party dress, and when they found her the whole thing was stained red. Anna Dressed in Blood is Scary, but you won't have to sleep with the lights on. Ghost hunter, Cas Lowood provides a witty perspective on ghosts, but the story keeps you wondering what happened to the end.

Renee
Book Review: Anna Dressed in Blood
Blake, Kendare
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Such a great book to read around Halloween! It sucked me in from the very beginning, and I almost read it all in one sitting! (Adult responsibilities were the only thing keeping me from it!). Suspenseful, spooky, and fast-paced, this book has a great story, likable characters, and a mystery that will keep you guessing.

Highly recommend for those that love ghost stories! (may be a little too much for those that are easily frightened).

Becca
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: The Watson's go to Birmingham - 1963
Curtis, Christopher Paul
4 stars = Really Good

This was a good book. The narrator was very entertaining and the weird Watsons were fun to get to know. The characters had some depth, especially the Byron character, and I think if this book had been an adult novel the characters could really have been explored. It's a kids chapter book and so it's not as fleshed out as it could be, but was enjoyable nonetheless. I would have liked to see a bit more focus on the events towards the end of the novel, but I can see that the purpose of focusing on Byron in the beginning was to show his growth toward the end.

vfranklyn
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