Biography/Memoir

Book Review: No Man's War

Author: 
Ricketts, Angela
Rating: 
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.

Book Review: Cleo: The Cat who Mended a Family

Author: 
Brown, Helen
Rating: 
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

Book Review: Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft

Author: 
Heyerdahl, Thor
Rating: 
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

Book Review: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Author: 
Strayed, Cheryl
Rating: 
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

Book Review: Left for Dead

Author: 
Weathers, Beck
Rating: 
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

Book Review: The Climb

Author: 
Bukreev, Anatoliĭ
Rating: 
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

Book Review: Orange is the New Black

Author: 
Kerman, Piper
Rating: 
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

Book Review: The Bedwetter : Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee

Author: 
Silverman, Sarah
Rating: 
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

Book Review: At Least You're in Tuscany: A Somewhat Disastrous Quest for the Sweet Life

Author: 
Criswell, Jennifer
Rating: 
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

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