Adult Book Reviews

Cry, the Beloved Country
Paton, Alan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Cry, the Beloved Country is a very good novel. It depicts the lives of Reverend Stephen Kumalo and white landowner, James Jarvis, during a time of turbulence in their lives. All of the characters in the novel are extremely well written and the character development is superb. The conflict in the novel feels very realistic and thrills the reader. The moral decisions and emotions faced by the two protagonists feel very weighty and captivate the reader. Overall, the book is a great novel that I would recommend to anyone.

Reviewer's Name: Steven
Awards:
Escape Clause
Sandford, John
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Escape Clause is a fast paced mystery book about the search for two missing tigers from a local zoo. This book features Virgil Flowers who is the main investigator in charge of finding the tiger thief and must hold him accountable before it is too late. This book not only focus on the tiger case but takes a deep dive into Virgil Flowers background and personal affairs. I chose this book as it was suspenseful and had many twists and turns. Escape Clause is a thriller and will keep the reader up all night.

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
The Reversal
Connelly, Michael
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Are you looking for an escape route out of these tough times that the world is facing right now? Then try reading this crime fiction thriller " The Reversal". Mickey Haller is a prominent defense lawyer who surprisingly decides to be part of the prosecution team for one of the most brutal crimes ever committed. Jason Jessup is convicted of a heinous crime that was committed nearly 20 years ago but the evidence was inconclusive to put him behind bars in the first trial. Can Mickey Haller and the Los Angles Police Department gather some crucial clues and evidence to find out whether Jason Jessup is the mastermind behind this crime or not? Mickey Haller must find out before it too late.The Reversal is a legal thriller that has an excellent plot and forces the reader to pay close attention to every single detail. I would highly recommend this book and it's a great read.

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
Doyle, Arthur Conan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes is a masterpiece of short stories. Sherlock Holmes continues to dazzle readers with his incredible deductions in these eleven short stories. From the beginning of Holmes' career in "The Gloria Scott" to large-scale crimes in "The Naval Treaty," the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. The introduction of Sherlock's brother, Mycroft, and his most notorious nemesis, Professor Moriarty, ensure that readers will be captivated by these stories. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes is phenomenal and I highly recommend it for any fan of Sherlock Holmes or crime fiction.

Reviewer's Name: John
Educated
Westover, Tara
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Growing up on the prairie in the past meant you were mostly isolated from the rest of society for better or worse. In the 1990s growing up in isolation in the U.S was very rare. Most people lived in cities, or suburbs, or small farming communities. Tara Westover was part of this abnormality. She grew up in rural Idaho and was homeschooled and rarely spent much time without her family. Which causes her to believe almost everything her parents and,siblings believed but when she began college she learned a lot more about the world than what she ever knew before.

I don’t typically pick up a memoir but this one was very highly recommended so I decided to give it a read. I thought the beginning was a bit slow but once you get through some of the background it becomes important in later portions of the book. I thought the book had a really good message and very unique perspective. It made me think a lot about how the school system could be improved and how outdated some of the typical school experiences are. I would recommend this book to teachers, school administrators, parents and students since they are so involved in education. I think it would be a good book to read at school and discuss as well.

Reviewer's Name: McKenzie
Real Artists Don't Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age
Goins, Jeff
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I’m a little conflicted with this book’s message, mostly because it downplays its definitions at the beginning of what an “artist” really is. It would be nice to make a living on my writing, but this book isn’t about how to do that. In fact, I’m already the artist that this book describes: someone who sells their creative hobby while pursuing it on weeknights and weekends. I have a full-time job, so my art isn’t my primary profession like the term “starving artist” is meant to invoke. Sure, there are bits of useful advice sprinkled throughout this book, but it wasn’t anything I hadn’t already picked up by now.

Perhaps the audience for this book is the individual who is thinking of taking a considerable risk and quitting their job to jump wholly into being an artist? Any more, the current Millennial mindset of “hustles” makes this an old way of thinking. We don’t have just one job: we have many, which we also juggle with our relationships and our hobbies. Furthermore, with online communities bringing together like-minded creative individuals with no limitations of geographical separation, some of the advice in this book is already dated three years after it was published.

Even if I already knew a lot of the advice in this book, it was encouraging to know that I’m on the right track for the artist I want to be. There are plenty of examples of successful artists in this book that give me hope that I’m doing the right things to advance my artistic career. It even filled in a few gaps that connected pieces of information I had learned but hadn’t put together yet. In the end, being an artist is a mindset, and it’s not a binary “all or nothing” that we used to consider it. Hopefully, we can soon retire the “starving artist” moniker because many artists don’t make a living on their art.

Fairly evident advice for a redefined group of artists, I give Real Artists Don’t Starve 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Gaiman, Neil
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

It’s nice to know that Neil Gaiman can write engaging, modern fairy tales that are longer than the short story format. The Ocean at the End of the Lane was a delight to read, and I can see some parallels to other famous middle-grade fantasies (the Narnia series came to mind here and was mentioned in the book). Everything about this story made sense, and the character and the world-building were top notch—which I’ve just come to expect from Gaiman’s work. Truly, he continues to be the modern fairy tale maestro. One of the unique aspects of this story was how it seamlessly integrated the magical and the mundane. So often, these types of fairy tales transition to a world of magic and leave the boring, ordinary world behind. Not so in The Ocean at the End of the Lane. If anything, using the supernatural to explain some of the challenges of our childhoods helps sell the storytelling here. Sure, there are moments in magical places, but the majority of the book has cleverly-hidden magic present in the real world. It’s easy to have everything in a realm be magic; it’s much more challenging to mix the two.

I will warn those who would want to read this to their children that perhaps the children should be a little older, or you should be prepared to explain some of the content in it. Nothing is graphic, per se, it’s just better to know how to answer any questions when adult situations are described through the lens of a young boy’s experience. Of course, anyone who’s read any amount of Gaiman would know that his fairy tales are more on the “adult” side of things. However, if you haven’t dipped your toes into Gaiman’s writing before, this is an excellent place to start.

A wonderful fairy tale mixing of fantasy and reality, I give The Ocean at the End of the Lane 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
Book Cover
Strauss, Ethan Sherwood
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

If you are even mildly interested in sports then The Victory Machine is a must read for you. The Victory Machine is a humorous, firsthand account about the cut throat and ruthless business of professional basketball. This book in particular covers the rise and fall of the Golden State Warriors dynasty. It features some unforgettable and colorful conversations between management and the players. The Victory Machine covers the ins and outs of the complexity of running and managing a pro basketball team.

This book makes the readers feel as if they were also present when big decisions were being made in the war room. I disliked that the author focused too much on Kevin Durant and not as much on the overall team. Overall The Victory Machine is an easy and straightforward read and I highly recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: Ananth S.
Genres:
The Couple Next Door
Lapeña, Shari
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is so good full of suspense and mystery every chapter having me on my toes. The book starts off with a small get together at the neighbors house with two couples one with a baby. But then a crime was committed at Anne and Marco house but have been blamed for the crime. The book has so many twist and turns containing so many secrets. Just such a really good book.

Reviewer's Name: Miguel
Almost Home
Debbie Macomber
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Almost Home is comprised of four short stories detailing 4 people who take risk of opening their hearts to new relationships. "Whale Island" is about a children's writer who is resisting falling in love with the reporter who interviews her because she has a big family secret to hide. In "Queen of Hearts', a man who was a real geek in high school has become successful and handsome as an adult and has run into the woman who he had a crush on in high school but felt out of her league. "The Honeymoon House" is a story of a photographer who finds a bridesmaid of a halted wedding destroying his house. And finally "The Marrying Kind" reunites two high school sweethearts who has a very brief marriage right when they got out of high school but were cruelly torn apart by family members. A great read if romance novels are your genre!

Reviewer's Name: Susi W.
Homegoing
Gyasi, Yaa
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi follows two bloodlines, from half sisters in Ghana. Each chapter is about one descendant, switching between families somthat two chapters in a row are one generation. The book is well written and includes details that tie well into real life history or beliefs, and each chapter is in fact written in correlation with a major historical event. Through these tie-ins, the book is able to remain exciting, and each chapter could be read as a standalone short story. Each character has an important story, and is revisited in following chapters from their bloodline, either from memory or real life interactions between their children or grandchildren. In addition to the basic storytelling and history included in the book, there is also an aspect of mysticism, and values/traditions that are native to African culture, making it a solid read for increasing knowledge or understanding of Ghanan culture. For me, there are moments in the book that seem unnecessary to the general plot and sometimes vulgar, but they end up being essential in the consistency of the way the story is told. Readers are able to attach themselves to each character, story arc, anddetail, then follow them throughout the series of stories.

Reviewer's Name: Malachi
Genres:
Book Cover
Zusak, Markus
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is my favorite book of all time. The story follows a young girl named Liesel Meminger growing up in Nazi Germany. Her love of books progresses throughout the plot, and the cast of characters she meets along the way help make the story the loveable masterpiece I know it as (personally, my favorite characters include Max Vandenburg, Rudy Steiner, and Hans Hubermann). This book is historical fiction, but I recommend it for most (if not all) readers. I typically read fantasy books, but I adore The Book Thief. The plot isn’t fast paced like adventure stories, and the events are on the ordinary side, but in my opinion the author does a brilliant job with descriptions and human connections within the book. Another reason I love this book is the use of the narrator--the way colors are described and the story is told is unique and wonderful to read. It’s a story about WWII told in a different perspective than other books we typically read at school, such as Night by Elie Wiesel or The Diary of Anne Frank. Even if you don’t particularly like the historical fiction genre, I would recommend giving this book a try. I first read it in 6th grade, but it is definitely not a story for just children. It is good for any age, and common sense media rates it for kids 13+.

Reviewer's Name: Cora G.
Leviathan Wakes
Corey, James S. A.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

For years, my co-worker has been suggesting that I read the Expanse series of books. Before I finally got around to the audiobook for Leviathan Wakes, I took a slight shortcut and watched the television series on Amazon. This came in handy because I was able to pick up this book and immediately be able to visualize what was happening and who the characters were. Sure, the actors cast in the show are slightly different from their literary counterparts. Still, overall there was a lot in this book that I had already experienced with the television show.

I will applaud this book for being a hard science fiction story, but not shoving the calculations in the reader’s face. Sure, The Martian did an excellent job of explaining all the scientific challenges of interplanetary travel. However, Leviathan Wakes took this a step further and created a universe that’s still controlled by the same physical laws we encounter in the real world. Unless you know what you’re looking for, you’d never realize that the little ways to make life livable in outer space would manifest in the forms presented in this series. Basically—to quote the title of a Heinlein book—Gravity is a Harsh Mistress.

And while the television show had lots of different plotlines to follow through its four seasons, I do like how Leviathan Wakes focused on just two main characters and the discovery of the Protomolecule. Although—even though both characters came from different backgrounds—I would have expected their reactions to situations would have been more drastically different than they were. Still, even if both Miller and Holden felt like very similar characters, they were both written well enough that it was an entertaining ride, nonetheless.

A perfect blending of story and hard sci-fi, I give Leviathan Wakes 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains
Gaiman, Neil
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

As I’d realized in previous works of Neil Gaiman’s that I’ve read, he excels at (at least) two things: short stories and fairy tales. One could argue that the latter is a subset of the former, but longer works like Stardust cause me to separate the distinction. Perhaps this book was made all the more magical by its audiobook production. Not only did the author himself read it, but it was accompanied with some great atmospheric music to enhance the mood produced by Gaiman’s words. I missed the illustrations this book sports, but I think the words can speak for themselves.

In terms of a fairy tale, The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains manages to contain the usual flare of morality and truth against a backdrop of riches and mysterious wonder. I’m almost surprised there aren’t more authors writing modern fairy tales as Gaiman has since there is a precise formula here that Gaiman has consistently used to create these fantastical narratives. After all, most fairy tales are trying to teach something intrinsically human, and this one touches on the oft-repeated moral of greed versus the consequences of obtaining wealth.

Of course, much like Gaiman’s other “fairy tale” works, this story is intended for adults. Sure, traditional fairy tales are gruesome and are used to scare children into submission. Regardless, the lesson contained in this story is something most adults need to hear. We all love the idea of the “get rich quick” scheme, but there are often secondary effects that we overlook when we head out to seek our fortunes. Perhaps if the more adult aspects were toned down a little, it could be used to teach children about these moral pitfalls before they encounter them, instead of after the fact.

Another superb adult fairy tale, I give The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Awards:
In Her Shoes
Weiner, Jennifer
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Maggie and Rose are sisters with very different lives and personalities. The two common things they share are their mother's tragic death, a "car accident" when they were kids and the same shoe size. Rose is an attorney, practical, responsible and has her own apartment. Maggie, the younger of the two, is good looking (which she uses to her advantage), impetuous and manipulative. They live together for a short stint, until a major falling out causes them to go their own ways. Thus begins a journey of self discovery for each woman and the surprise of a grandmother who they thought was long gone. The love/hate relationship of sisters is well captured, along with humor and sharp observations.

Reviewer's Name: Susi W.
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself
Singer, Michael A.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Wow...reading this book will take you on a spiritual journey unlike any other. If the idea of becoming more mentally and emotionally free, mindful, concious, happy and self-actualized interest you, then give this #1 New York Times Bestseller a read today!

Reviewer's Name: Alyssa
Awards:
The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed On Your Own Terms
Lakhiani, Vishen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Written by the founder of the successful online learning platform MindValley, this book will change your life, or at least spark a bit of self-reflection. Vishen takes the reader through 10 life-redefining laws leading to success, which are then divided into 4 parts. Part I explains how we have each been shaped, for better and for worse, by our culture and childhood. In Part II, the reader is challenged to either accept or modify what was brought to the surface in Part I. Part III is entitle "Recoding Yourself" and delves into mindfulness, discipline, "bending reality," goal setting to lead to lasting fulfillment every time and other compelling topics. Finally, Part IV provokes the reader to find their quest, and change the world. This is one of the most worthwhile self help books I have ever read and I recommend it to anyone wanting to change their life, thinking patterns, or habits for the better.

Reviewer's Name: Alyssa
Awards:
Travel As Transformation: Conquer the Limits of Culture to Discover Your Own Identity
Diehl, Gregory
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Part travel, part philosophy, part self help, this book is certainly a compelling read. Gregory Diehl shares his unique perspective and riveting accounts from his time spent traveling around the world. He describes in depth how his experiences and sometimes dark and uncomfortable lessons he learned while living in multiple countries around the globe have shaped his unique identity. He also challenges readers to examine the lessons in self discovery they too have encountered when traveling and to experience immersion in other cultures in order to develop a more well-rounded identity and life experience.

Reviewer's Name: Alyssa
The Bat
Nesbø, Jo
2 stars = Meh
Review:

While this is the first book (1997) in the wildly popular Harry Hole series, it was actually the fourth translated into English. After reading it, I had assumed it was the first book and the publisher had been cheap -- poor translation and editing --- but hoped to piggy back on Stieg Larsson's success in the U.S.. I began reading the series with Harry Hole No. 9, The Phantom (2011) as a Why Not? purchase during a lengthy flight delay. I am thankful I did not start with The Bat or I might have missed out on one of my favorite Nordic Noir authors and a compelling character in Hole (prononced HO-Lay in Norwegian). The Bat gets off to an uncharacteristically slow start but later delivers the gritty thriller action Nesbo fans enjoy in later works. In the novel, the troubled police detective travels to Australia to investigate the murder of a Norwegian, then discovers and solves a series of homicides while running amok of local authorities eager to send him back to Oslo. If you are a series reader who wants to start at the beginning, then read The Bat. But don't feel bad if you start with Cockroaches (1998) or even The Redbreast (2000), the third Hole book, which won The Glass Key award for best Nordic crime novel.

Reviewer's Name: Joe P.
Awards:
The Book of Polly
Hepinstall, Kathy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Polly is a southern mother who doesn't put up with anybody. She is a confident individual who knows everything there is to know about gardening. The life she knew soon changed when her husband (Captain) dies, and she is left with an unexpected baby. Willow was born when Polly was in her late fifties, and death has always been a constant fear. Besides the fear of her mother's passing, there's only one other thing that pesters Willow.....secrets. Polly's past is a closed book, even a slight mention of the topic is forbidden. As the novel continues, Willow races against time to both save her mother and learn about the wounds from the past. The Book of Polly is filled with twists and turns, with times of tears and roars of laughter. Every page is filled with surprises. From aggravating neighbors to the love-hate relationship with squirrels, the book truly emphasizes the bond between mothers and daughters. I highly recommend this book! I have read it twice, and it truly is incredible.

Reviewer's Name: Isabella
Genres:

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