All Book Reviews by Genre: Nonfiction

Killing the SS
O'Reilly, Bill, Dugard, Martin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard are known for writing some fantastic historical novels, and Killing the SS upholds that idea. It is the latest installment in O'Reilly and Dugard's Killing series. This novel tells the story of the global postwar hunt for Nazi war criminals and how they were brought to justice, or how they escaped altogether. The big four written about were Josef Mengele, known as the Angel of Death, who was the physician at Auschwitz and performed horrific medical experiments on the prisoners; Adolf Eichmann, charged with managing the mass deportation of millions of Jews to death camps; Martin Bormann, who was in charge of legislation and domestic matters regarding Nazi Germany; and Klaus Barbie, who was known as the Butcher of Lyon due to the fact that he personally tortured and killed thousands of Gestapo prisoners in Lyon, France. The book itself is a fantastic read, as it is suspenseful, engaging, and is the history buff's dream. I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves history, or anyone who is a fan of the Killing series.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Genres:
The Nazi Hunters
Bascomb, Neal
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Adolf Eichmann, a notorious Nazi responsible for the deaths of millions of people during the holocaust, disappeared without a trace after the war ended. An Israeli group of spies, known as the Mossad, along with other key allies carefully locate and capture Eichmann in an attempt to bring him to a fair trial in front of the entire world. Several of the members of the mission survived concentration camps and nearly all of them had lost family there. Thus, they were determined to complete their mission, even if it lasted fifteen years and took them to the other side of the world. I highly recommend this non-fiction adventure to anyone interested in the holocaust or looking for great a spy thriller.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
Genres:
Covered in Water
Lawrence, Ellen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

If you’re looking for a good introduction to the study of water, this may
be the book for you. You’ll learn about the water on earth – salt &
fresh. You’ll learn where our water comes from and why it’s limited, how
rivers are formed, and frozen water. You’ll also learn about the water
cycle. Try the experiment at the end of the book and resolve to use water
wisely.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
The Unofficial Guide to Learning with LEGO
Buckley, Danielle
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Does your child love LEGO? This book offers a variety of ways to
build on their interest to inspire learning. From simple math activities and
reading readiness to complicated STEM challenges, this book has something for
learners of all ages!

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Genres:
Book Review: Dream Differently
Bertram, Vince M.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Written by the president and CEO of Project Lead the Way (PLTW), Dr. Vince M. Bertram, Dream Differently provides excellent advice. Directed at mainly high school students thinking about college and their future, Dream Differently provides insight about many confusing aspects of today's economy.

Dr. Bertram explains the best way to follow your dreams while still being practical. Topics such as what is your dream, what college to attend, what to major in, and what other classes to take besides required classes. While Dr. Bertram encourages STEM courses, he also explains how to pursue your dream in other areas. Overall, Dream Differently was very helpful advice on what to do to ensure your success in today's world.

Reviewer's Name: John B
Genres:
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print
Browne, Renni
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Even though this book was published 25 years ago, its advice for aspiring authors is timeless. From those just starting to veterans still polishing their craft, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers is perhaps even more relevant today than when it was initially released. After all, the pre-eminence of self-published authors has spawned a plethora of poorly-written and amateur works that seriously need some form of editing. On the plus side, the more self-published authors who take the advice in this book and put it to good use, then perhaps there will be less of a stigma against them in the future.

Breaking down the editing process into 12 distinct parts, this book shows the reader—through numerous examples—how a lousy piece of prose can be edited into something much more palatable. That being said, there are a lot of examples, some of which take up multiple pages. Occasionally, the errors are
shown in bold print, which would probably have been helpful in other sections as well, instead of relying on the reader to pick out the problems they just learned how to fix. It also would have been beneficial if the answers to the exercises were placed immediately after each section instead of in an appendix.

It is encouraging to note that this early-90s book recognizes that writing conventions change over time. While many authors want to write “the great American novel,” the definition of what that is has morphed over time as different forms of media have shaped the landscape. Despite all this, there were certainly many chapters that I was able to use to recognize weaknesses in my writing, as well as techniques that I have since become proficient in, merely to be reminded what my writing used to be like.

An excellent guide for authors of all skill levels, I give Self-Editing for Fiction Writers 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
Irena's Children
Mazzeo, Tilar
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book tells the true story of Irena Sendler, a Polish woman who saved 2,500 children during the purging of Jewish people from Warsaw during World War II. This book details the trials and tribulations faced not only by Irena but the people and children of Warsaw. The underground network formed by Irena and her many friends allowed thousands of children to be placed with different families and continue living rather than being sent to German camps. I was truly awed by the courage described in this book and the measures taken by the people of Warsaw to save the lives of children who weren't even theirs or their friends. The horrors of World War II are indescribable but the necessity of remembering it is imperative, especially when stories like this are nearly unheard of

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Survival of the Sickest: A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease
Moalem, Sharon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Survival of the Sickest, by Dr. Sharon Moalem, is a book that talks about the surprising connections between disease and longevity. The author does a great job of changing the reader's understanding of illness and presenting a new view of our bodies. While some people may find biology and other sciences boring, the book applies to everyone. The information is conveyed well and in a way that isn't just straight facts and boredom.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those who are into biology.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right
Hochschild, Arlie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This is a must read for those seeking to understand the current political climate in the United States: particularly how those who support Donald Trump and often vote against their own well-being view the world. Hochschild is a sociologist from UC Berkeley who set out to resarch this very circumstance and connundrum. Hochschild gains access to Tea-Party and Trump Supporters in Lake Charles, Louisiana, establishes relationships with several people far from her West Coast and intellectual liberal leanings, and manages to get deep enough into their lives and personal histories to develop and describe empathic understanding of their political views. Hochschild remains objective as she delves deeply into attitudes and feelings of those with whom she disagrees culturally and politically. Her effort to help the reader understand that the most important wall we face is an Empathy Wall is enlightening and highly interesting reading.

Reviewer's Name: Jay
Genres:
Chinese Cinderella: the True Story of an Unwanted Daughter
Mah, Adeline Yen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The true story "Chinese Cinderella" is about a young Chinese girl named Adeline who faces the struggles of being unwanted and unloved. Adeline is seen as bad luck because her mother died after she was born. Her stepmother, Niang, hates her and favors all other siblings besides Adeline. Adeline achieves academic awards and good grades in hopes to make her family proud however they still see her as nothing. Throughout the book she faces many different problems all relating to her family mistreating her. Adeline is even sent to an orphanage at one point due to her friends coming to her house to throw a party for her. Not only does she face physical issues, but Adeline faces mental and emotional issues. Despite these issues, Adeline stays strong until the end and continues to try her best.

I read this book for a book report and was not at all disappointed."Chinese Cinderella" was sad but heartwarming. During multiple points in the book I cried. Adeline's feelings are very relatable and real. I thoroughly enjoyed the book."Chinese Cinderella" is in a genre of books I do not generally read however I was surprised and actually liked it. It is one of the best books I have read this year; I would definitely recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana O.
Awards:
How to Raise the Perfect Dog
Millan, Cesar
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

How to Raise the Perfect Dog is a great book for those looking to raise a dog. Whether your skeptical about getting a dog or have problems with your current one, this is the perfect book for you. While it's quite a weird book to review, the book gets across its point. It teaches the fundamentals of raising a dog and even elaborates very well on some aspects of dog raising. Overall, it's a pretty good book, but I would only recommend it to those who have a dog.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Genres:
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin
Mosca, Julia
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Do you ever feel different from the people around you? Are you struggling
with figuring out how you fit in? If so, read the story of Temple Grandin.
Although struggling with autism, her unique way of thinking allowed her to
become an amazing scientist who invented farm improvements used around the
world. This biography, set it rhyme, encourages all to STAND TALL.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
The Book of Massively Epic Engineering Disasters
Connolly, Sean
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

History tells us of many engineering disasters from the Colossus of Rhodes to the “Unsinkable” Titanic and more. While some of these engineering disasters are merely embarrassing, others had deadly consequences. Learn about what happened in these events and then try out the hands-on experiments demonstrating why the event happened. Learn not just the “what”, but also “why” and have some fun doing it.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
When God Winks at You
Rushnell, Squire
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A few months ago, I received an e-mail from my mother that passed along a suggestion from my grandmother that I read this book. While not a long book by any means, my wife and I read a story each night after dinner and finished it in a few months. Basically, this collection of inspiring stories goes so far as to suggest that all the fortuitous coincidences we experience in our lives are evidence of a loving and all-powerful Creator. As a Christian, I did see most of these stories as supernaturally-influenced, even if my scientific mind was skeptical at times.

Separating the coincidental with the God-influenced can be difficult. While some stories seemed like mere coincidence, there were still quite a few contained in this volume that had no other explanation other than God showing off what He can do. Collected into a few different categories, many of these stories had us in tears as they were filled with touching moments that spoke to our ability as individuals to be God’s vessels to impart His timing in the lives of others, either to save their lives or to bring blessing into them.

In the end, the book does highlight how our lives can either be seen as a series of coincidences or as God-inspired plans. If we live our lives with the mindset that any lucky break or prescient reminder is just random chance, then we might miss out on some of the truly spectacular coincidences that have no other explanation than being orchestrated by a higher power. On the other hand, if we recognize even the smallest connections in our lives as God acting through the slightest details, we can be comforted in the fact that He cares about us, even down to the minutia.

A little book filled with inspirational stories, I give When God Winks 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Beyond the Checkup
Voytas, Luke
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM A GOODREADS GIVEAWAY***

While I do not have children yet, I am doing my best to prepare my knowledge for when they do become a part of my life. Consequently, books like Beyond the Checkup seem to be a perfect resource for parents, as it is written by a pediatrician. That being said, I think I'm probably a little biased in wanting an older, more grandfatherly pediatrician writing books like this. After all, a lifetime of experience seems to speak more than just 15-years-worth of it.

Regarding the book's content, Luk Voytas does a reasonably good job of presenting the big problems that might come up in a child's first four years. While he does use scientific studies to back up his suggestions, there are some instances where it's unclear whether or not there is any science behind his opinion, or if it's his own personal thoughts. I did appreciate the "case studies" in the back of the book, as I could see each of the ailments contained therein being something I'd want to reference in case it would happen with my child.

My only other qualms with this book have to do with the "asides" and the gender of the baby being referenced. Occasionally, Voytas will have a box with a little bit of extra information about a topic, but these boxes will often break the flow of a paragraph and seem to be more in the way than they should be. I also didn't particularly like how Voytas switched between male and female pronouns to describe the generic "baby" that the reader should have. I'd either say be consistently male or consistently female or at the very least use gender-neutral pronouns to describe the reader's baby.

An OK reference for parents with or expecting babies, I give Beyond the Checkup 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
The Interpretation of Dreams
Freud, Sigmund
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Years ago, I tried picking up this book and reading it so I could become
educated about dreams and their interpretations. Back then, I lost interest
within the first hundred pages. This time, as I prepare to write my own
fictional series of books about dreams and the parallel world they inhabit, I
was much more focused and able to finish this daunting book. While many will
say what they will about Freud and his theories, this book was the definitive
and groundbreaking work that helped us all understand a little more of what
influences our dreams.

Written mostly as an academic examination of the influencing factors of
dreams, Freud includes a plentitude of examples from his patients and his own
life to help prove his point. This can be a little tedious at times, as it
feels like he’s banging the reader over the head with multiple examples
that don’t add much to the explanation. Of course, Freud does go on to
reference these examples in later sections of the book, which is why they are
so heavily weighted toward the front of the text.

While this book isn’t meant to be used as a reference to understand the
direct meanings of specific dream elements, it does provide some thoughtful
reasoning behind some of the most common ones like falling, appearing naked
in public, and the “school dream.” That being said, the more I read, the
more I realized we truly know nothing about dreams. Analysts have to rely on
the fallible memory of the dreamer, and Freud often tries to explain away
inconsistencies by “reversing” the dream’s symbolism. I also found
Freud’s penchant to regularly resort to sexual meanings behind dreams seems
to be a case of “if you have a hammer/phallus, every problem is a
nail/phallus.”

A proper examination of the basics of dream interpretation, I give The
Interpretation of Dreams 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Berendt, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A word of warning: This book contains discriminatory and vulgar language, including the N-word and other severe cusses. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil follows a quirky, discombobulated town. The residents are an amalgam of a depressed inventor who's secret poison could kill the entire city, a drag queen who dances exotically and drops bombs of dirtiness, a wealthy and closeted gay antiques dealer who loves to corrupt social norms, and a voodoo priestess who sneaks into graveyards at midnight, among other deranged, hilarious, and nonconforming people. This town is so dysfunctional and dark that it functions. The first half of the book was devoted to charting and describing the mysterious lives of the residents of Savannah, Georgia. The second half followed the conviction and multiple trials of one particular resident after he 'murdered' someone else. However, I would encourage you to read the Author's Note at the end, but only after you finish the book. It left me dazed for days at the major plot twist snuck at the very end.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Math & Magic in Wonderland
Mohr, Lilac
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Do you like math & logic puzzles? If so, you can solve puzzles along with twins, Lulu and Elizabeth. They’re on a grand math adventure inspired by Lewis Carroll’s poetry. Do you have the ability to solve the puzzles and outwit the Bandersnatch? Check out this book and find out.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Hazelet's Journal
Hazelet, George Cheever
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This review is really about a spread of books I found or was able to access through PPLD. After an enjoyable visit to Skagway, AK, I became interested in Klondike Gold Rush history. Through the PPLD catalog and an interlibrary loan I accessed: Hazelet's Journal by George Cheever Hazelet: If you enjoy history from original sources, this book will draw you in as the author writes honestly about a business failure that led him to seek gold in Alaska. The arduous travels searching for gold are documented both by journal and amazing photographs. It is a slow read for someone who enjoys more of a "story." Although Cheever fails in the gold rush, as well, the stage was set for eventual successes that were instrumental in Alaska frontier development.

Journey (fiction) by James Michener: A quick read that will be more enjoyable to the reader looking for a story within the historical background of the gold rush. Four Englishmen and an Irishman push their way across Canada to Dawson City, fulfilling the image of the phrase "Mad dogs and Englishmen."

Gold! The Klondike Adventure by Delia Ray: Young Adult book that provides an easy-to-read purview with photographs of the rush, perils, commercialism, and subculture that arose between Skagway and Dawson City. Prospectors and merchants alike sought riches on the Alaskan frontier within a very short timeframe: 1897-1900.

Klondike Fever by Pierre Berton: Subtitled The Life and Death of the Last Great Gold Rush, this book provides an exhaustive and interesting read about the gold rush from many different angles. This book was accessed through an interlibrary loan. However, the book was so old it was not pleasant to read so I am hoping PPLD will purchase a new edition. It is a very good book!

Reviewer's Name: Rita
The Secret
Byrne, Rhonda
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne reveals the science behind the Law of Attraction and how to apply it to every day life. I'm not kidding when I say this book changed my life. After discovering how I have personal power to positively change my life using the Law of Attraction just by thinking positively, everything opened up. I learned that life doesn't simply happen to us; we can make our lives extraordinary. Incredibly well written and very powerful, this book is full of inspirational quotes and success stories used to motivate you towards achieving your goals. I highly recommend this book if you want to affect positive change in your life.
Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.

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