Biography/Memoir

Book Review: Skyfaring

Skyfaring
Author: 
Vanhoenacker, Mark
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This book was one of the best books I have read this year. I
would strongly recommend this book to anyone who would be interested in working in the travel or airline industry. This book really does make you see how it is like to fly a plane through the eyes of a pilot. The author explains it almost poetically and nicely splits the book into nine chapters that all compare flying to the name of the chapter. These chapters are: Lift, Place, Wayfinding, Machine, Air, Water, Encounters, Night, and Return. You will really realize that flying is an almost completely different experience for the pilot than it is for the passenger. For example, he points out that as a passenger, you spend the entire flight looking out a small window in the side of the plane but as the pilots, you get a different experience as you are looking out the front and have a better view of the earth. All in all, I thought that this was one of the best books I have read this year and I am sure you would enjoy it too.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: 
Kai K.

Book Review: In the Sanctuary of Outcasts: A Memoir

In the Sanctuary of Outcasts: A Memoir
Author: 
White, Neil
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

I admit, I didn't know much about leprosy before reading this book. I didn't realize that patients were segregated from society. I thought the disease had been eradicated decades ago! I was impressed with how Neil White told the story of the patients at Carville. Unlike the prisoners housed there, they didn't feel sorry for themselves. They just went on with their lives despite their disease. There was no reason to feel sorry for them.

What I didn't like about the book was Neil White's personal story. I do feel he was remorseful for taking money from innocent people to pay for his big dream of being a magazine publisher and living large. I just didn't like the examples he used when he was trying to express regret like when the first black family moved into his neighborhood or how he blackballed fellow students from joining his fraternity. The worse example was when White discussed how the patients had been disfigured by the disease and how he could "relate" because of the scar on his forehead. That passage really bothered me.

Reviewer's Name: 
Melissa

Book Review: Empire of Deception: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation

Empire of Deception: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation
Author: 
Jobb, Dean
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Leo Koretz was a con man operating in Chicago in the 1920s - he was basically like a 1920s version of Bernie Madoff. His crimes have faded into obscurity, so Jobb has decided to tell his story. Leo's story is juxtaposed with that of Robert Crowe, the would-be political climber who was sort of responsible for chasing Leo down and prosecuting him.

I listened to this book, and while it starts off pretty slow, it picks up when Leo starts his swindling, and stays somewhat fast paced and consistently interesting until the very end, when the author reveals the fates of all of the "players", and I didn't really care. I read somewhere that this book reads like a "fiction" book, and I wouldn't really agree with that statement - while it was interesting and paced considerably more quickly than many non-fiction books, if a fiction book spent several minutes/pages outlining the costs of jewelry that a con man gave to his wife (boooooooring), I'd throw that book across the room. Basically, this book was meticulously researched, but at something of a cost - there were a lot of details that felt pretty superfluous, and the details often interrupted the otherwise somewhat narrative flow of the book. I also could've done without the Robert Crowe parts...while Leo was a "real piece of work", Crowe just seemed like a massive jerk. All that aside though, it was a fun, fascinating listen. I liked it - 3 stars.

Reviewer's Name: 
Britt

Book Review: The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle
Author: 
Walls, Jeannette
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This memoir follows the tumultuous childhood of the author with upheaval and hardships almost too extreme to believe. Through living in extreme poverty, being in real danger medically, emotionally, and physically, Jeannette expresses her constant determination and shows how she copes with and still has deep love for her dysfunctional family. I finished this book very quickly because it is very hard to put down.

Reviewer's Name: 
Melissa

Book Review: Night

Night
Author: 
Wiesel, Elie
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Elie Wiesel is a twelve year old Jewish boy living in Sighet, Romania in 1944 who loves to study the Talmud. When his instructor warns the people of the Nazi aggressors coming to threaten their peaceful lives, it is too late and Elie’s family is forced into ghettos. Elie and his father, Shlomo, are separated from the rest of their family and are sent to multiple concentration camps, just trying to survive. This is my second favorite book ever because it is written by Elie Wiesel himself and is about his life as a Holocaust survivor. I can’t even describe
how good this book is because once you realize it is nonfiction, it gives the book a whole new meaning. I highly recommend this book to everyone, but especially those interested in the Holocaust or books about it such as The Diary of Anne Frank. I picked this book because I love autobiographies about the Holocaust and it just really shocked me at how life for Jews during that time was.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe T.

Book Review: Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love
Author: 
Gilbert, Elizabeth
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

Elizabeth Gilbert has everything a normal person wants: loving husband, country home, a great career, and much more. But for some reason she was not happy, instead she felt confused and lost in her own world of thoughts. So, through a painful process, she leaves behind everything (her marriage, job, home) and plans a year round trip to Italy, India, and Indonesia, hoping that traveling to these places will help her find herself. I began reading this book this year for a school assignment and I have to say I didn’t like it from the cover and the first few pages. What made it interesting was that Eat, Pray, Love is an auto-biography by Elizabeth herself about her journey for self-actualization and also that you are able to learn a little bit more about the culture of these countries. I recommend this book to those who are having trouble about knowing who they are in the world, but while I was able to be intrigued by the book and it did grab my attention, let’s just say it didn’t have me standing on the edge of my seat and isn’t one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe T.

Book Review: Night

Night
Author: 
Wiesel, Elie
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas was a heartbreaking story, but it was a work of fiction. This story is just as sad, but is written by a holocaust survivor himself. This story will make you cry so beware. It made me cry, but was a complete eye opener to the history of WWII. This book is a classic and will satisfy all audiences with its moving story.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: 
Gerilyn M.
Awards: 

Book Review: American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History

Book Review: American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History
Author: 
Kyle, Chris
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Anyone who knows me may realize that this is not my normal topic of interest. However, I do enjoying reading about different perspectives and life experiences from mine. That said, Chris Kyle and I have almost nothing in common as far as beliefs and interests go, but we do have love for country and loyalty to friends and family in common. Of course, he's about as tough as they come. Way tougher than me. I'm sure I would not have been able to do what he did even if I had wanted to. However, I found as I was reading this book that Kyle had a lot of interesting observations about the Iraq War from a front lines perspective. The stories were intense and engaging. I didn't get into the weapons geekery at all, but I'm guessing his target (har!) audience did. Really, a very good book about the front lines experience of a Navy SEAL.

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: 7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness

Book Review: 7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness
Author: 
Metaxas, Eric
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

A great book with mini biographies of 7 men who made choices that changed their society and left legacies for us. The writing style is informal. I learned things about these famous men that I hadn't known before.

A great inspirational book for teens and adults.

Reviewer's Name: 
Julie

Book Review: The Last Lecture

Book Review: The Last Lecture
Author: 
Pausch, Randy
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

What an amazing book in simplicity and intensity written by Randy Pausch.

Having learned that he had terminal cancer, Mr. Randy Pausch talks about important things in his life and how he had lived. He writes about love, respect, pursuit of dreams and appreciation. This book is not about dying, it is about living every single moment in life and reminds the readers about the beauty of life :) Mr. Pausch's last lecture was about, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" living not only your dreams but of others as well. The book is about "seizing the moment" and "Really Achieving your Childhood dreams."
This is one of the most inspiring books I've ever read!

Reviewer's Name: 
Shivani

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