Adult Book Reviews by Genre: Nonfiction

Book Review: Peace In The Storm: Meditations On Chronic Pain And Illness
Pratt, Maureen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Millions of Americans experience pain every day of their lives. Maureen Pratt, who has lupus, is intimately aware of the toll chronic pain takes on people and their families. In this practical and spiritual guide, she shares how she navigates through the frustrations, fears, and complexities of living with chronic pain and illness. Pratt provides help on such issues as finding meaning in suffering, feeling guilty for being a burden to others, and resolving unmet expectations. The chapters are short and concise, written with honesty and humor. The book can be read from cover-to-cover or just choosing individual topics.

Reviewer's Name: George H.
Book Review: Show Dog
Dean, Josh
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Very interesting inside look at the world of show dogs. You follow the progress of Jack, the Australian Shepherd, but the author also gives you a brief history of dog shows in general, different breeds, and even the evolution of the dog from wild animal to domesticated pet. Well written and fun to read (I finished it in just a couple of days), this is a great book!

Reviewer's Name: Krista
Genres:
Book Review: When Fraser Met Billy
Booth, Louise
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is a very heartwarming book about the relationship of an autistic boy, Fraser and his rescued cat, Billy. Louise Booth, who is Fraser's mother as well as the author, describes the impact of Billy in terms of helping Fraser overcome many of his physical and emotional challenges.
Fraser comes out of his shell and Billy is a tremendous part of this positive change. Sometimes cats are portrayed as being standoffish, but Billy disproves this stereotype with his friendship with Fraser. A wonderful story!

Reviewer's Name: Lisa
Book Review: Homeschooling FAQs
Orr, Tamra
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

By far the absolute best and most resourceful homeschooling book I have read on our journey. Very Informative!

Reviewer's Name: Jill
Genres:
Book Review: Crazy for God
Schaeffer, Frank
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I grew up in the evangelical world. I witnessed first-hand the fanaticism of the believer. This book was interesting to me because it pulled back the curtain on the religious right, particularly in the 80s. Frank Zappa was right, there was indeed "50 million dollars in his heavenly bank account". I just wish there had been more pages devoted to this time in the author's life. Nonetheless, the author was honest and forthright about his upbringing and wrote with charisma.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Kim, Suki
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A very unique perspective of North Korea. Kim's descriptions are hauntingly beautiful and poignant. I found this book hard to put down once I started, the suspense of Kim's situation will pull you through her story. I became so attached to the student's stories that it made this book both gut wrenching and heartfelt.

Reviewer's Name: Mary N.
Cain, Susan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

As an introvert, reading this book felt like coming home. There were many times when I so identified with the feelings and behaviors Susan describes it was like looking into a mirror. Cain examines different facets of personality and why we as a society value certain traits over others. She also looks at what introverts can offer to businesses and in leadership positions. Great read for introverts and extroverts alike!

Reviewer's Name: Becca
Robison, John Elder
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I put off reading this book because I didn't want to read yet another sad story about someone's rough time growing up. Finally, after seeing all the wonderful reviews about it, I decided to go ahead and read it. I am ever so grateful that I did.

John Elder Robison grew up having Asperger's before it had a name or had been widely recognized. In his book, John tells the story of how he figured out how to fit in with "normal" people without knowing why he didn't see things the way they did. The book is often hilarious, especially in terms of how John worked his way through various phases of growing up not being able to pick up on social cues then mastering self-developed workarounds to succeed in life.

I recommend this book to all adults, those who have Asperger's, who have relatives with the syndrome, or not because sooner or later, you're likely to encounter and try to communicate with someone who does. That's why I'm so glad I read this book. Asperger's isn't a disease, it's a way of perceiving that is different from most just like a left handed person has to learn to live in a right handed world...sometimes things don't fit right and adjustment needs to be made. Try using left handed scissors if you are right handed and see right away what Aspergians deal with in a "nypical" (neurotypical) world. The book is a GREAT read on its own, but has the added bonus of understanding. Such a rare gift in a book these days.

Reviewer's Name: Pauline
MacDonald, Matthew
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Your Brain: The Missing Manual is the book for "the rest of us" who don't want to or can't take in all the medical jargon that usually infests books about how the "little grey cells" work.

Matthew MacDonald takes the information about how the brain functions and breaks it down into usable chunks. He gives a brief but thorough explanation of several functions the brain performs in simple English, then explains how the brain's owner can make the best use of how the brain works. An analogy would be that instead of someone trying to explain what's under the hood of that great car, he shows you the control panel and HOW TO USE the car. Chances are, you don't need to know how many cylinders there are, what kind of oil it uses etc. because all you plan to do is USE the car and maybe do a bit of maintenance. Matthew MacDonald's approach is that of someone explaining just enough of how the brain functions so that it can be used more efficiently and to the owner's benefit. I heartily recommend the book, especially to staff and teens who could use the problem solving techniques the author includes in the book for learning, school problem solving, etc.

Reviewer's Name: Pauline
Book Review: God'll Cut You Down
Safran, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

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!

Reviewer's Name: Melissa M.
Wizenberg, Molly
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

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!

Reviewer's Name: Vickie S.
Ricketts, Angela
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

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!

Reviewer's Name: Vickie S.
Saget, Bob
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

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.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Frankl, Viktor
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

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.

Reviewer's Name: Virginia
Brown, Helen
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

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.

Reviewer's Name: Krista
Heyerdahl, Thor
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

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!

Reviewer's Name: Laura
Strayed, Cheryl
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

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.

Reviewer's Name: Cindy
Weathers, Beck
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

Honestly, only read this book if you really really really like books about mountaineering and/or Mt. Everest and absolutely need to read his book because of who the author is. The first few pages are interesting as Beck tells about his extremely near death perspective, and then the rest of the book is filler about how he got into mountaineering and the toll it took on his marriage, with some at the end about after Everest. I was hoping for more story about his experience on the mountain and what it took to recover from it.

And to be honest, I don't much care for Beck as a person. Several sections throughout the book have made me stop and go "WHAT?!?," such as a comment about how Anatoli acted inappropriately as a guide during the 1996 storm that Beck almost died in, even though at the time the book was written, this was shown to be inaccurate information. He also doesn't seem to be particularly apologetic for everything he put his family through while he was pursuing his obsessions all around the world for most of his life.

So, in summary: it may be interesting for diehard Everest/mountaineering fans, probably will be terribly boring for everyone else

Reviewer's Name: Becca
Bukreev, Anatoliĭ
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

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.

Reviewer's Name: Becca
Kerman, Piper
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

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.

Reviewer's Name: Evan

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