Adult Book Reviews by Genre: Biography/Memoir

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
Silverman, Sarah
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was clever and entertaining, just like Sarah Silverman. I listened to it on audiobook and it was read by the author, which I highly recommend. A very sincerely sweet and funny book.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Criswell, Jennifer
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Stumbled across this title through Goodreads, and I am so glad I did!
The author gives and honest, sometimes sad, sometimes hilarious view of her experiences moving to Italy rather impulsively. I didn't realize she had a blog, now I'm going to go through the photos to match faces with people I feel I've met through her book! Highly recommend.

Reviewer's Name: Krista
Angelou, Maya
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is a compilation of essays on a variety of subjects. Thought provoking and beautiful, I highly recommend this quick read. I especially appreciated Angelou's observation that instead of "you can't go home again", it's more accurate to say you can't ever leave home, meaning your first home, where you grew up. I find this to be very true as I often think of where I grew up and the friends I had there as a child. Thankfully, I'm able to keep in touch with the most dear of them on Facebook.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Kerasote, Ted
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I love dog books, and stumbled on this one while looking for ebooks. What a wonderful book, written by a man who obviously loved his dog-friend. Reading it felt like I was with them on their adventures! However, make sure you have tissues handy!

Reviewer's Name: Lorna
Angelou, Maya
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I find that sometimes I give 5 stars to what are clearly very good books, but then something like 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings' comes along and I realize that there are very few books I've read that are as important and wonderful as this one. I wish I could give it more than 5 stars. Maya's voice is beautiful, honest, and so very observant and wise. I recommend this book to everyone in the world, period.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Burnett, Carol
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I listened to Carol Burnett read this on audio and it was very good. I didn't watch her show as it was before my time, but I liked hearing stories about her life in show business. Thumbs up, especially on audio.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Renn, Crystal
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Crystal Renn's memoir is very powerful. Her description of her battle with anorexia is riveting and her realization that she was killing herself and her decision to become a plus size model was awesome. I love her positive body image. She encouraged me to find my 'set point' and love my body for what it is. Thanks Crystal!

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Book Review: Rock the Kasbah
Loerzel, Marie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Rock the Kasbah is an entertaining book written by a Colorado Springs local author. Marie and her family lived in Morocco. This book had me laughing out loud more than once. It is personal and touching and brutally honest. I highly recommend it. (p.s. It may not be for the faint of heart)

Reviewer's Name: Jan
Yousafzai, Malala
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A powerful look at a young girl's fight for education in Pakistan. Malala starts by filling us in on her country's history, from before colonization by the British through the Taliban takeover. All the while she and her father fight for girls' education. It's hard not to despair for her as she is fighting against such great odds, but her positive attitude reminds us that good can overcome evil. She wants every person in the world to be educated. Amen to that!

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Brosh, Allie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This book is a funny look at a woman's neuroses, with great drawings. I could relate to her constantly feeling like she wanted to trip strangers, throw sand at beachgoers, and otherwise behave inappropriately. It got three stars because while it was funny, it was a bit disjointed as well. Still, worth the quick read.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
LeDuff, Charlie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I've never enjoyed an obituary so much. Charlie LeDuff sure knows how to cozy up to his readers, even if the tales he's telling are less than happy, quaint musings set in Paradise. An easygoing, narrative style meant I had serious trouble putting this book down. Partially, I'm fascinated by the empty shell that is now the city of Detroit- and I'd much rather hear about it from the bottom, up than vice versa. Real stories from real people put things into a much clearer perspective, while also lending a definite desperation to the tone. Detroit has died, and after ignoring its death throes, we didn't even have the decency to give it a proper funeral.

Charlie is ready to breathe one last breath of life into a city that has been burned down by its own residents no less than three times in history. It's a city that in fact gave birth to the American worker, the American sound, and American progress. It's hard to escape the irony that it's also where all of those things have gone to die.

Reviewer's Name: Evan
Seal, Mark
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Could. not. put. this. down! I literally read it in about 27 hours. I was amazed by the story itself and also by the fact that I don't remember anything about it when it happened (2008). You, too, will be transfixed by the web of lies and false persona this man has been able to weave. It's truly fascinating that he was able to get away with it for so long. If you get as interested as me, there are Youtube videos that show some of the interviews with him after all was said and done.

Reviewer's Name: Evan
Davidson, Jim
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Absolutely amazing! This is not at all the type of book I usually read, but the author is going to be coming to speak at our library so I wanted to learn more about him. I could NOT put it down (even thought it was about 12:30 a.m.)! Will be highly recommending this book.

Reviewer's Name: Krista
Stimson, Ellen
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

I was really looking forward to this book, and it started off very well - there were quite a few laugh-out-loud moments. But toward the middle, the author seemed to start rambling. The stories jumped around and it was more of the author flitting around her memory for cute stories rather than one cohesive tale. It got to the point that I had to put the book down. Her habit of ending a paragraph with a telling "clue" of the next story became annoying as well.

Reviewer's Name: Krista
Hawa Abdi
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I undertook Dr. Abdi's book with some trepidation. The glossy photos of her mugging with such celebrities as Katie Couric and one of my least favorite presidents made me doubt whether or not I could handle the political angle of the work. However, the book's straight forward style and charming asides soon won me over. It's a tale of a horrific slide into anarchy of once-promising country and the struggles of people who refuse to let go of their dream of what things could be, rather than the harsh realities they suddenly find crowding in on all sides. While shocks and tragedies to permeate the book, Dr. Abdi's consistency of spirit and her practical approach to medicine and everyday life leave the reader with a sense of what can be accomplished, not by believing in what everyone else is saying, but rather by believing that people have it in them to be great, no matter what evidence you are currently observing in their behavior.

Reviewer's Name: Robert
Crystal, Billy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Listen to the audio version of this book. Billy Crystal reads it and it's awesome. He's got such a great attitude about his life and his gratefulness permeates the pages. Thumbs up!

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Hillenbrand, Laura
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Wow. This book was gripping! The resilience involved with surviving as a POW in Japan was amazing to me. Louie Zamperini is one-of-a-kind. There was a dogfight towards the beginning of the book which ended the life of "Super Man" that was so astonishingly realistic I literally could not put down the book. Awesome. I highly recommend this book as a portrait of the World War II psyche.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Dugard, Jaycee
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Wow, this book was at times disturbing, perplexing, and heart-wrenching. It was interesting to hear about Jaycee's abduction from her point of view. I can see how it lasted 18 years as she was afraid of what would happen if she defied her abductor and as she wanted to protect her daughters. I couldn't help but feel for her mother, who must have been beside herself with worry. Jaycee is a very strong, brave, and resilient woman and I wish her the best.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Glanville, Brandi
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Yes. I read this. I know. But, it didn't suck. It was actually pretty entertaining and the parts about her having to watch a new mother-figure enter her children's lives was downright heart-wrenching. Not bad at all.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn

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