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All Book Reviews

Fall of Giants
Follett, Ken
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Fall of Giants is a long but worthwhile book to read. I "read" this via audio-book and enjoyed the narration very much. Ken Follett never fails to write in a historically accurate method and this is no exception. The introduction to the characters takes a bit of time to get through, but it's worth it due to the intricate nature of their lives and how they will intersect later in the book and the following related novels. This book combines elements of politics, revolution, war, love, social injustices and reforms, and insight into daily lives of people living in WWI era Russia, England, Germany, Wales and America.

Reviewer's Name: Merry
Genres:
Handle With Care
Picoult, Jodi
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors, as her stories always involve a complex moral dilemma her well-developed characters are grappling with. This story in particular tugs at the heart strings of mothers who would do anything to protect their suffering child. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about the deeper, melancholy moments of life.

Reviewer's Name: Bethany P.
Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
Noah, Trevor
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Trevor Noah's autobiography, which focuses on his childhood in South Africa, gives audiences a funny yet insightful look into life in South Africa before and after apartheid. The book is also a compelling mother-and-son love story. Noah's astute and comedic storytelling makes "Born a Crime" is a very smart and enjoyable read.

Reviewer's Name: Melina
Awards:
Have You Seen Elephant?
Barrow, David
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

An adorable tale about a small boy and a very large elephant combined with an exciting game of hide and seek. This elephant is very good at hiding as you will see in the subtle but wonderful illustrations. This story ends with a new friend and new game, and will have your kiddo delighted with giggles. This is a very worthwhile, silly, and fun story. (JEasy...Grades PreK-2)

Reviewer's Name: Alicia
Claude in the City
Smith, Alex T.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Claude is an adorable dog that wears a beret, a red sweater, and loves adventure. When his owners go to work the fun begins. Claude and Sir Bobblysock, his best friend, visit the city for the very first time. They have an exciting time going shopping for more berets, and having tea, but the most fun happens when they visit a museum. This charming adventure continues and more antics ensue. Claude in the City is a joy to read and sure to entertain. (Grades 3-5)

Reviewer's Name: Alicia
The Bear and the Nightingale
Arden, Katherine
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A perfect winter read! A beautiful atmospheric retelling of the fairytale Jack Frost set in a wintry town on the edge of the Russian wilderness in Medieval Russia. Plus a strong independent female protagonist who risks everything to save her family from the evil forces all around her! What's not to love! Katherine Arden's The Bear and the Nightingale is a must read! This novel has it all mystery, magic, adventure, and love! With well developed characters and beautiful, atmospheric, lyrical writing that makes you almost feel the cold wind on your skin and see the snow flakes falling this book cannot be passed up! I cannot wait for the next book in the series to come out, The Girl in The Tower!

Reviewer's Name: Tawnie
'Twas Nochebuena
Thong, Roseanne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is a really well-done version of Clement Clarke Moore’s “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” that incorporates the traditions of Guatamala and Mexico by using key words in Spanish. Even this non-speaker can easily interpret the Spanish, as it is woven so seamlessly into the text. The bright illustrations add to the overall enjoyment of this multi-cultural portrayal of Christmas celebrations. A nice addition to all your Christmas favorites! Best for 5+.

Reviewer's Name: Kristin
Crenshaw
Applegate, Katherine
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Anyone who’s loved the movie, Harvey, will be instantly hooked by Crenshaw. Crenshaw is a giant cat who shows up in Jackson’s life just when he can use a good friend. Jackson doesn’t always appreciate Crenshaw’s presence and tries to grapple with Crenshaw’s appearance with logic. But with the writer’s eye for detail and empathy, Katherine Applegate creates a believable world where the unbelievable happens and where magic dovetails into reality.

Reviewer's Name: Kristin
The Things They Carried
Tim O'Brien
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Things They Carried is a collection of short stories, written by the protagonist (Tim O’Brien), of self reflection about his experiences during the Vietnam War. O’Brien itemizes a list of the things, both tangible and intangible, that members of his platoon have brought with them to war. The plot follows the fate of the Alpha Company members both during and after the war, as well as adding O’Brien’s personal comments on the events he transcribes.

This book humanizes war. It’s no longer one side versus another, but actual people with lives and stories beyond the war. I really enjoy the style O’Brien uses, inserting himself into the story gives the novel verisimilitude. This book is very unlike books I normally read, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much it made me think.

Reviewer's Name: Emma
You're All My Favorites
McBratney, Sam
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

What a fabulous way to assure your little ones that they are all your favorite! Three bears wonder if their mom or dad likes one of them better than the others. But the parents give really good answers to their questions. A perfect book to snuggle up with and comfort all your little bears.

Reviewer's Name: Kristin
Stick and Stone
Ferry, Beth
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

COMPLETELY ADORABLE! Stick and Stone is so simple and accessible for shy, retiring children. Stick and Stone start out alone. But when Pinecone comes and Stick defends Stone, a friendship blossoms. With lovely illustrations and clever text, Stick and Stone will worm their way into your heart – and you will become friends with them, too.

Reviewer's Name: Kristin
The Lump of Coal
Snicket, Lemony
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

With the snarkiness that we’ve come to expect, this is a story of miracles – sort of. It’s a story of a lump of coal that can think, walk, and talk – which is a miracle – sort of. We read this out loud and couldn’t stop laughing; which is a certain kind of miracle. Pick up The Lump of Coal to laugh while you discover miracles – despite the omnipresent snark of Lemony Snicket.

Reviewer's Name: Kristin B.
The Widow
Barton, Fiona
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is dark, and it addresses most of the situations of what is happening in the present. However it gives the reader another view besides the victims, but everybody that is affected by the circumstances. It is really good, I could not put it down.

Reviewer's Name: Lourdes C.
We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement that Defied Adolf Hitler
Freedman, Russell
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Russell Freedman's book chronicling the White Rose Resistance Movement is a brief but enlightening overview of the resistance to the Nazi's in WWII that will sure to spark interest in history for teens and adults. Freeman's work is always well researched, well written and he includes many interesting historical photos as well as an index, notes and a great selected bibliography for further exploration. Spoiler alert to parents, readers will encounter gruesome facts about the execution of the movements members, so parent pre-reading is advised. For ages 12 - 18.

Reviewer's Name: Barbara
Three Pennies
Crowder, Melanie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Marin was abandoned at 4 years of age by her mother. On her journey through the foster care system she keeps her ambition to find her biological mother alive as she encounters disappointment, loneliness, turmoil about her abandonment, and finally the perplexing new feelings of real family love. Three Pennies, by Melanie Crowder, is a lovingly written and thoughtful book for ages 9 - 14.

Reviewer's Name: Barbara
The Song From Somewhere Else
Harrold, A.F.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

He was bigger than anyone else in Francesca's class. He was funny looking and he smelled weird. Why, oh why did he have to be nice to her and get her bag for her that the bullies had thrown into the stinging nettles? When the bullies chased them both to Nick's house, why hadn't she run somewhere else? Ugh, she would never live this down at school. A.F. Harrold's novel, The Song From Somewhere Else, will enchant readers age 9 - 12 with a story of another world, just waiting to be discovered.

Reviewer's Name: Barbara
Gentle Discipline : Using Emotional Connection-Not Punishment-to Raise Confident, Capable Kids
Ockwell-Smith, Sarah
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Gentle Discipline seeks to provide an alternative approach to the mainstream philosophy regarding the disciplining of children. I appreciated many of the tips and suggestions found in this book. It is very helpful to remember how immature a child's brain is, and just because they can understand adult language, does not mean a child has adult responses or even the ability to think like an adult. It is also helpful to remember that to discipline is to teach, not to punish. Disciplining children gently is not an instant fix, but is a long-term approach to changing kids' behavior as well as our own. We can start wherever we are with our kids and we don't have to be perfect, because NO ONE is.The narrator is nauseatingly calm and peaceful, so much so, that I almost didn't listen to the book.

Reviewer's Name: Robin
Sweetbitter
Danler, Stephanie
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Some really beautiful thoughts and quotes stuck in between such vulgar language. Too many drug and sex scenes that were unnecessary.

Reviewer's Name: Lisa
Genres:
Book Review: Their Eyes Were Watching God
Hurston, Zora Neale
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book started off a bit slow and the vernacular was initially somewhat challenging to read, but once Janie meets Tea Cake the book explodes into a vivid account of life in the "muck." There were parts of the book that I couldn't put down. Hurston's prose is nothing short of voluptuous and the final paragraph was a triumph of the soul.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Awards:
Forest Dark
Krauss, Nicole
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

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

I’ve read a lot of books this year, but very few of them I would consider “literature.” Forest Dark is the rare exception. The flowery language and high-concept imagery invoked in this book would certainly make it a prime candidate for some art-house film. Author Nicole Krauss doesn’t just tell a story (or two) in this book; she crafts them out of the very essence of the human condition with expertly chosen words. There’s little to no “fluff” in this book, which somewhat explains it somewhat shorter length, especially considering it’s two stories in one.

While I am not Jewish, the two, intertwining narratives in Forest Dark pull out the cultural identity from two very different characters. From an aging man who wants to make a legacy without relying too much on his heritage to a woman who has been given an opportunity to use her skills as a writer to further expound the life of one of the greats of Jewish literature, both characters interact with Israel in a way that ties them both together, even if they don’t actually meet until the end (or at least, that’s what I assume happened).

Regarding pacing and distribution of these two stories throughout the book, there was never a point where I felt the plot was beleaguered. Each section advanced the plot of the two individual characters in such a way as to explore not only their motivations but how their cultural heritage either tied them down or influenced them to continue. While this whole book was well written, because it is a little more on the “artistic” side, there were many scenes, especially near the end, that didn’t seem to make sense other than as a neat “image” for the reader. At the very least, I know more about Kafka now than I did before reading this book.

A great piece of Jewish-themed modern literature, I give Forest Dark 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Genres:

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