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Book Reviews Summer 2017

This is the page where you can find book reviews from other readers taking part in Adult Summer Reading 2017 with the Morrill Memorial Library.

To submit your own review, please click here.

Dream-thieves-book-cover“The Dream Thieves” by Maggie Stiefvater
YA Fantasy – 5 stars

It is an epic second book to an epic quartet I am working my way through. I would recommend the whole series starting with the first book Raven Boys. I love the characters with each passing book and excited to start the next book Blue Lily, Lily Blue!!!

Full-house-book-cover“Full House” by Janet Evanovich
Romantic comedy – 5 stars

Entertaining! A fun book to read!


Beautiful-mystery-book-cover“The Beautiful Mystery” by Louise Penny
Memoir Fiction – 5 stars

Love this author!


In-this-grave-hour-book-cover“In This Grave Hour” by Jacqueline Winspear
Mystery – 5 stars

A return to peak form by the author of the ongoing Maisie Dobbs series (book 13). Set during the outbreak of the second World War, Winspear reintroduces her roster of characters with a mystery that delves into the perils and ongoing trauma of refugees. Winspear’s best book in several years, In This Grave Hour finds sleuth Maisie Dobbs getting back to what she does best at the beginning of the second World War. The threat of the Blitz constantly hangs over the reader and the case, which centers on murdered Belgian refugees from the previous war, feels timely and devastating.

The-you-Ive-never-known-book-cover“The You I’ve Never Known” by Ellen Hopkins
YA Fiction – 5 stars

I have read and loved every book Ellen Hopkins has wrote. She is an amazing writer and all her books are great and this was no exception. You usually know very little about what the book will be about when you start reading but you always know that she covers very heavy subjects (and does it beautifully). This book was mainly about kidnapping but it also touched heavily on the topics of domestic violence and LGBTQT issues. It discussed these issues in such a real world, relatable way that any person that reads this could relate. The story had a bit of a “twist” ending which I loved and was a quick and enjoyable read. Overall it was another great book by one of my favorite authors.

Sonata-book-cover“Sonata, A memoir of pain and the piano” by Andrea Avery
Memoir – 5 stars

A powerful memoir of a young woman living with a chronic illness (rheumatoid arthritis) and its impact on her musical career. Ms. Avery weaves a relationship between composing music and composing literature. Life affirming, at its ultimate.

My-enemys-cradle-book-cover“My Enemy’s Cradle” by Sara Young
Historical Fiction – 5 stars

A poignant tale of the sacrifices we make in the darkest of times, My Enemy’s Cradle tells the story of Cyrla, a young woman forced to assume her cousin’s identity to escape capture by the Nazis. Young’s story also sheds light on a relatively unknown part of WWII history, the Lebensborn, maternity homes for girls carrying Jewish babies.

Life-in-parts-book-cover“A Life in Parts” by Bryan Cranston
Memoir – 5 stars

As someone who didn’t know Cranston was the lead on Breaking Bad, I enjoyed gaining insight into his life (like going with the flow with marrying a couple because a reverend had booked two weddings on the same day) and how he delved into and created his character as an actor. It’s a popular audiobook for a reason. Cranston has lived his life with much gusto, committed to both his family and his career. Poignant, funny, and inspiring, this book is still a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Carry-on-book-cover“Carry On” by Rainbow Rowell
YA Fantasy – 5 stars

It is an amazing story that keeps you entranced until you reached the end. Carry On told from different characters perspectives. The characters are exciting. The story is fast passed and enchanting. It brings an interesting point of view on mages and their dependence on the Normal world. I would advise anyone to read it. I am ready to reread it again even now!!!

You-cant-touch-my-hair-book-cover“You Can’t Touch My Hair” by Phoebe Robinson
Essays – 5 stars

A poignant and profoundly funny collection of essays, addressing racism, sexism, and pop culture from comedian Phoebe Robinson. In each essay, Robinson’s take on important issues, drawing from history and personal experience, is presented in her unique voice, which blends hard-hitting insight with a rambunctious style of humor and on-point pop-culture references.

The-break-down-book-cover“The Break down” by B.A. Paris
Thriller – 5 stars



Its-kind-of-a-funny-story-book-cover“It’s Kind of a Funny Story” by Ned Vizzini
Fiction – 5 stars

It was a great novel and illustrated common problems in our society that are not usually addressed.


Between-Friends-book-cover“Between Friends” by Amos Oz
Short stories – 5 stars

Amazing stories by acclaimed Israeli author.


Fact-of-a-body-book-cover“The Fact of a Body” by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
True crime / Memoir – 5 stars

Amazing true story/memoir mixed with murder.


Wallflower-christmas-book-cover“A Wallflower Christmas” by Lisa Kleypas
Historical Romance – 5 stars

A wonderful story revisiting characters from four previous books and catching up on their lives.



Son-book-cover“Son – A Psychopath and his victims” by Jack Olsen
True Crime – 5 stars

Ultimate page turner. I read it in less than a week. What a horrific time for the women of Spokane.


Hunger-games-book-cover“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins
YA Adventure Fiction – 5 stars

Sad, but incredibly amazing. I definitely reccomend it.


Other-wordly-book-cover“Other-Wordly: Words both strange and wonderful from around the world” by Yee-Lum Mak
Nonfiction graphic novel – 5 stars

A very delightful book. I’m so happy a book like this exists. Recommend for anyone who enjoys nerdy word trivia. My only criticism is that I wish there was some sort of pronunciation guide, perhaps at the back, but I can understand the choice to not include something like this.

Wives-of-war-book-cover“Wives of War” by Soraya Lane
Historical Fiction – 5 stars

This was a captivating story following three women who joined the war efforts in London as nurses. Their journey is both uplifting and heartbreaking. This book provided great insight into the nature of war and it’s effects on everyone involved and back home and followed three strong, committed women who embraced their friendship to endure the pressures, chaos and tragedy of war.

Ways-to-spend-the-night-book-cover“Ways to Spend the Night” by Pamela Painter
Fiction, short stories – 5 stars

Short stories – talented (local) author!!


Mary-mary-book-cover“Mary Mary” by James Patterson
Thriller – 5 stars

Keeps you guessing, don’t know the killer till the very end.



The-child-book-cover“The Child” by Fiona Barton
Psychological Thriller – 5 stars

Told in a style similar to that of Girl on a Train and Barton’s other novel, The Widow, The Child follows the stories of 4 women, a set of unearthed baby remains, and the secrets we keep.


The-boston-girl-book-cover“The Boston Girl” by Anita Diamant
Fiction – 5 stars

Such an enjoyable read with local flavor and characters that made me feel as if they were my friends by the end of the book. Wonderful!


Whered-you-go-bernadette-book-cover“Where’d You Go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple
Fiction – 5 stars

A delightful tale a a mother that essentially goes missing and abandons her child. Sounds just delightful, doesn’t it? It really was. The characters were over the top, but I really liked how much humor the author infused into this book. Was it believable? No. Was it enjoyable? Hell yes.

NewsPrints-book-cover“NewsPrints” by Ru Xu
Children’s graphic novel – 5 stars

A fun adventure somewhere between Newsies and a steampunk Tamora Pierce, Xu Ru cleverly blends manga elements with a more traditionally western coming of age story. There’s a clear message about pacifism, friendship, and gender that comes through despite a fast paced story full of secrets and a bit of age-appropriate romance.

Lords-of-the-north-book-cover“Lords of the North” by Bernard Cornwell
Historical Fiction – 5 stars

The third book in the Saxon Series follows Uhtred of Bebbanburg into the 880s as he navigates the complicated relationships between Saxons and Danes in northern England. Violence ensues.


Killers-of-the-flower-moon-book-cover“Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” by David Grann
True Crime – 5 stars

A little-known case of mass murder from the 1920s highlights our country’s cruelty and indifference to American Indians. Relocated onto reservation lands that turn out to be rich with oil, hundreds of wealthy Osage are poisoned, shot, or burnt to death over the course of a decade known in Oklahoma as the Reign of Terror. The book alternately follows a family member of the victims, the FBI agent who investigates the crimes under the direction of J. Edgar Hoover, and the author himself who interviews descendants of the victims.

Nightingale-book-cover“The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah
Historical Fiction – 5 stars

A thoughtful, heartfelt, and poignant tale of two sisters living in Occupied France during the Second World War, The Nightingale explores familial relationships, the power of love and forgiveness, and the sacrifices we make in the darkest of times. This is a wonderful story that you will not soon forget.

Before-we-were-yours-book-cover“Before We Were Yours” by Lisa Wingate
Fiction – 5 stars

A heartwrenchingly poignant story based on the true story of Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, Wingate offers a gripping story about the memories of May Crandall, the present day story of Avery Stafford and the way their lives will intersect in unexpected ways. A story of love, loss, courage, and sisterhood, Before We Were Yours is not to be missed.

Keeper-of-lost-causes-book-cover“The Keeper of Lost Causes” by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Mystery – 4 stars

The start of a Murder mystery series, this mystery follows Carl Moeck as he tries to solve a cold case involving a political that disappeared years earlier. Once I started this book I had a hard time putting it down. It’s very dark, but easy to read! If you’re looking for a new murder mystery series, start here!

Crow-trap-book-cover“The Crow Trap” by Ann Cleeves
Mystery – 4 stars

Great mystery.


Borne-book-cover“Borne” by Jeff VanderMeer
Science Fiction – 4 stars

Less exciting than his earlier Southern Reach trilogy, Borne still provides lush descriptions of a dystopian future teeming with biotechnology run amok and human characters fighting to redefine themselves and the world around them.

Wires-and-nerve-book-cover“Wires and Nerve” by Marissa Meyer
YA Graphic novel- 4 stars

I was a big fan of the Lunar Chronicles series from the beginning so I was very much looking forward to this companion book. I did enjoy the book a lot, though I kind of wish it wasn’t a graphic novel. Not because I don’t like graphic novels, I do. I just feel like it might have been better as a regular novel like the other books in the series. I also enjoyed the story line, it picked up almost exactly where the last book left off. That was nice because the last book left you with a lot of questions about what would happen next. However, though I liked the overall story line I did feel like the writing was a little less mature than the rest of the series. Overall though, good book. I give it 4.5 stars. Oh, and one last thing, I didn’t realize the book was a part one in a series. I guess that’s good and bad because the book ended on a cliff hanger with a lot of unanswered questions but at the same time I now have another book I can look forward to reading.

Comfort-and-joy-book-cover“Comfort and Joy” by Kristin Hannah
Romance – 4 stars

I enjoyed it, a dream come true!


Keep-moving-book-cover“Keep Moving” by Dick Van Dyke
Memoir – 4 stars

Dick van Dyke’s memoir is a delightful read with a positive spin on life. He graciously warms us up to the idea that getting older is something to look forward to and not dread. It can be a nice gift for anyone in our lives who could use a little more pep in his or her step. I only knew of the Dick van Dyke show growing up, and now I’m inspired to go watch at least an episode to see what it’s all about.

Being-mortal-book-cover“Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande
Nonfiction – 4 stars

The book brings to light what end of life discussions could look like. Being mortal means that we will inevitably die, and when we look to medicine and technology to extend our lives, we have to ask what makes life worth living for the few extra months or years. Sometimes having these conversations in a graceful way by asking what’s most important to us (e.g. being able to watch football and eat ice cream) will make decisions down the road much easier both for the family and for the people administering treatment or procedures. It’s a worthy read to start considering items we put off simply because we can.

Two-by-two-book-cover“Two by Two” by Nicholas Sparks
Fiction – 4 stars

Contains really good father and daughter moments, a must read for Dads with daughters.


Scandal-in-spring-book-cover“Scandal in Spring” by Lisa Kleypas
Romance – 4 stars

The last in a series of books about 4 wallflowers seeking husbands. It’s fun to read a book where everyone ends up happily ever after.


Again-the-magic-book-cover“Again the Magic” by Lisa Kleypas
Romance – 4 stars

A story set in Hampshire, England in 1832 where two people in love get separated but reunite for a happy ending 12 years later.


Nothing-to-declare-book-cover“Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a woman traveling alone” by Mary Morris
Memoir, travelogue – 4 stars

Excellent and inspiring book. At times emotional and at other times breathtaking. The book inspires this reader to take more solo trips and to turn her listening ear more inward.


You-are-a-badass-at-making-money“You Are a Badass at Making Money” by Jen Sincero
Nonfiction – 4 stars

I’m not sure if this book is simply a swift kick in the rear end to simply get going, or if the author is giving bad advice. I’m going to think the former because books can’t predict the needs of people reading this book. The book reminds of The Secret by Rhonda Byrne whereby the law of attraction or the magic of the universe can help you. What’s useful about this book is that the author introduces you to the rich/abundant mindset. Overall, it’s an enjoyable read that’s not stoic and didactic so much as it’s personable and reads almost like a conversation.

Poetry-linc-book-cover“Poet-Linc Poetry Slam” by Black Dog Publishing
Poetry – 4 stars

These are works authored and read by students at a poetry slam, and there are jewels here and there. There are narratives that provide us a glimpse into what issues students face, a respect for their perspective, an admiration for how descriptive they can be. Some are confessions that takes guts to say aloud, and some are heartwarming and inspiring. Their works make me think of what these young authors want others to know, as their voices are important to nurture and listen to.

American-grown-book-cover“American Grown” by Michelle Obama
Nonfiction – 4 stars

As a casual gardener myself, I loved learning that the White House has its own garden and how they’ve used it – to inspire children, build community (organically), provide food for themselves and to local organizations and as gifts to important visitors. It’s peppered with a number of other voices and endearing stories like the fig tree that disappeared. It’s a wonderful easy read that probably was better in book form for the pictures than as a audiobook.

Stiff-book-cover“Stiff” by Mary Roach
Nonfiction – 4 stars

This was an enjoyable read oddly enough, as I was cringing as much as I was fascinated. For example, there were numerous proposals for how to determine whether someone was dead, including releasing an insect in someone’s ear. There is indeed another life these bodies live, and this book asks us to consider a number of questions that we otherwise easily overlook.

Man-called-Ove-book-cover“A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman
Fiction – 4 stars

A feel good story that anyone will enjoy.


Be-more-chill-book-cover“Be More Chill” by Ned Vizzini
Fiction – 4 stars

This novel showed common problems that teenagers face in high school.


Tale-of-emily-windsnap-book-cover“The Tale of Emily Windsnap” by Liz Kessler
Fiction – 4 stars

It’s a wonderful book, good for all ages.


Gunslinger-book-cover“The Gunslinger” by Stephen King
Fantasy – 4 stars

A great start to King’s seven volume epic, The Dark Tower series. He wrote this novel when he was 19 so it’s not quite as polished as later works, but it’s classic King. The movie version is coming to theatres this July, so there’s still time to pick up this quick read before you see the film. Recommend!

Hillbilly-elegy-book-cover“Hillbilly Elegy” by JD Vance
Memoir – 4 stars

I liked this book! It tells the story of a young boy growing up in poor, rural Kentucky as he rises up the social ladder and eventually attends Yale Law School. This is a wonderfully told and relevant read for today’s society.


Red-pyramid-book-cover“The Red Pyramid” by Rick Riordan
Mythology – 4 stars

My grandson got me involved with Percy Jackson books. This book is based on Egyptian mythology and it took me on an adventure. As a side note, it talked about a pyramid in Tennessee and that sent me on a google search to find out about this as I had never heard of that, although I did know about the Luxor pyramid in Las Vegas. Learn something new every day!

The-pursuit-book-cover“The Pursuit” by Janet Evanovich
Mystery – 4 stars

I really enjoyed reading this book. The story was interesting and funny.


Nightingale-book-coverThe Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah
Fiction – 4 stars

I love this author. She researches her subject matter and in this book she takes you back to occupied France and the terror of the time. Set mostly in the forties. Good read!


Sharp-objects-book-cover“Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn
Psychological Thriller – 4 stars

Fans of Gone Girl will recognize Flynn’s fast paced style of twists and turns that end with an explosive conclusion.


Of-mice-and-men-book-cover“Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck
Fiction – 4 stars

Something I should have read in high school, but never did. While I am glad I read it now, I am totally unsure of how to unpack the ending. Why did George think that he only had one choice? Not my favorite Steinbeck, but a good one.


Black-on-blue-book-cover“Black on Blue” by Michael Connelly
Crime fiction – 4 stars

This novella was a short jaunt into the world of one of my favorite characters, Harry Bosch. As always, Harry does not disappoint.


Fates-and-furies-book-cover“Fates and Furies” by Lauren Groff
Fiction – 4 stars

A character-driven story about a lengthy marriage and the outside forces that shaped it. The ending was rather abrupt, so I cannot give the book 5 stars.


Velopedia-book-cover“Velopedia: the infographic book of cycling” by Robert Dineen
Nonfiction-sports – 4 stars

Filled with interesting facts about cycling presented in a very visually interesting way. I love, love, love how this book gives female cyclists the credit they deserve.

Thirteen-reasons-why-book-cover“Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher
YA fiction – 4 stars

A unique way to tell the story of a young woman’s suicide. I enjoyed the format, but sound it a bit unbelievable at times.


Everything-I-never-told-you-book-cover“Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng
Fiction – 4 stars

Not the mystery/thriller it was billed to be, but I like a character driven story. This was certainly that.


Heidi-book-cover“Heidi” by Johanna Spyri
Children’s literature – 4 stars

Heidi is a heart warming story that I definitely missed out on as a kid. The description beautifully paints the setting of Switzerland in the 1800s.


Sleepwalker-book-cover“The Sleepwalker” by Chris Bohjalian
Mystery/Suspense – 4 stars

When their mother, a diagnosed sleepwalker, vanishes one summer evening, older sister, Lianna, and younger sister, Paige are left to unravel the mystery of their mother’s disappearance and a lifetime of family secrets. A fast paced look at the secrets we keep to protect the ones we love, The Sleepwalker is sure to stick with the reader long after its conclusion.

Kings-curse-book-cover“The King’s Curse” by Philippa Gregory
Historical Fiction – 4 stars

In The King’s Curse Gregory once more delves into the lives and lies of the Tudor court. This story focuses on Margaret Pole, daughter of the Duke of Clarence and cousin to Elizabeth of York who watches from the wings as her family is murdered, made low, and brought high once more in service to Henry VIII and Katharine of Aragon. An entertaining look at one of the less well known players of the Tudor court, it is a fast paced read (though it can get a bit confusing keeping track of all the Henry’s, Arthur’s and Edward’s!) and fans of Gregory’s other books in the Tudor and Cousin’s War series will enjoy this as well.

Sweet-potato-queens-guide-to-weddings-book-coverSweet-potato-queens-guide-to-divorce-book-cover“The Sweet Potato Queens’ Wedding Planner/Divorce Guide” by Jill Connor Browne
Nonfiction, humor – 4 stars

As someone who’s never spent a day in Mississippi, I enjoy the “Sweet Potato Queens” books. They’re over the top and funny, and you can get some real life lessons too. This is really two books in one, and while there’s a lot in there about cooking way-too-fattening things and loving yourself to the point of conceit, there are also real gems about self worth and friendship.

Bakers-secret-book-cover“The Baker’s Secret” by Stephen P. Kiernan
Historical Fiction – 4 stars

A quick read about a young woman’s care for the people in her Nazi occupied village right before the Allied forces landed in Normandy. Kiernan explores questions of the sacrifices we make for the ones we love, the judgments we make about others, and how we hold onto our faith in the darkest of times.


“Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History – Without the Fairy Tale Ending” by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
Nonfiction – 3 Stars

The premise of Rodriguez McRobbie’s book is that being a princess probably isn’t the best life ever. The introduction discusses how she’s trying to dispel the myth of the “Disney Princess,” and that there are other princesses to look up to if you want to. Some of them fall in that genre, some don’t. She discusses how some princesses were able to forge their own destiny, while some made the best with what they had. I feel she was trying to include princesses that would be better role models, but I think many of them didn’t fit the bill. In that way, I don’t feel she fully achieved her goal, but she was successful in making a history book that was interesting to read while highlighting that being a “princess” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be! Just a quick warning: I would not say this is a good book for a younger audience. The book discusses adult themes, and occasionally more adult language.

Voyage-of-the-basilisk-book-cover“The Voyage of the Basilisk” by Marie Brennan
Fantasy Fiction – 3 Stars

The author is skilled – the book reads much like a 19th century travelogue, which is different than modern writing. Once you get used to that, the story picks up. By the climax of the book I had a hard time putting it down, but the first half or so was a little slow. That being said, I’ve enjoyed Brennan’s other books in this series and will continue to read them!

Come-sundown-book-cover“Come sundown” by Nora Roberts
Fiction – 3 stars

Good summer read.


Emma-book-cover“Emma” by Jane Austen
Comedy of errors, classic literature – 3 stars

Although Emma proved to be fun and entertaining, the plot was fairly predictable. However, it was easy to empathize with the characters, and despite being written over 200 years ago, the novel still hits on prevalent topics today.


Liza-of-lambeth-book-cover“Liza of Lambeth” by W. Somerset Maugham
Classic fiction – 3 stars

This book brought me back to the days of high school when we read Tess of the d’Urbervilles (except not quite the same). It’s about a working class girl going through a downward spiral, in part because of her own choices and in part because of societal pressures. The local speech made it harder to get through, but adds to the authenticity and realism as shown in the portrayal of life in the slums – not all dark and glum. While the ending was predictable, it was also rather terse.

Portrait-of-Jennie-book-cover“Portrait of Jennie” by Robert Nathan
Fiction – 3 stars

The book has its moments where it’s beautifully written, but it’s also boring for someone like me who’s younger and wants explanations. I’m sure this love story was breakthrough for the time when it was published. This could be a spoiler, but it was only at the ending where I better understood why the book was described as haunting.

Why-we-march-book-cover“Why We March: Signs of Protest and Hope: voices from the Women’s March”
Nonfiction – 3 stars

It’s inspiring to see what democracy looks like. With provocative and uplifting signs stating “When Injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty”, “Science is not a liberal conspiracy”, #HeForShe and more, we see in pictures the scope of the movement and can transport ourselves to a time when we cared. Maryum Ali said “Don’t get frustrated, get involved. Don’t complain, organize.” It makes me wonder what is happening now. If anything, this political event has planted seeds that may take months or years to sow to see our follow up response.

MWD-book-cover“MWD: Hell is Coming Home” by Brian Johnson
YA Graphic novel – 3 stars

This novel about a veteran who bonds with two dogs – one who saves her on the field and another who helps her reclaim her life at home – skims the surface about a number of issues like homosexuality and treatment of women in the military, PTSD, and euthanasia. It helps provide a glimpse about what veterans go through in an easy-to-digest way as a graphic novel, but the dialogue wasn’t too profound. Also, it might help to know that MWD stands for military working dog – something you might be confused about while reading this book.

Day-in-Tuscany-book-cover“A Day in Tuscany” by Dario Castagno
Memoir – 3 stars

The story is at its richest when he is recounting his own memories.


Nothing-daunted-book-cover“Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West” by Dorothy Wickenden
Nonfiction, Western – 3 stars

This book was a quick read, and once it was in my hands I had a hard time putting it down. However, it’s one of the books I felt was building up to something bigger and never got there. I found the writing style accessible and if you’re looking for a quick read you can put this on your list.

Confidence-book-cover“Confidence: overcoming low self-esteem, insecurity, and self-doubt” by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic
Nonfiction – 3 stars

This is a self-help book that comes down to something that it cannot teach you to do (with good reason) — namely, be competent in order to be confident. The author ensures that we shouldn’t be overconfident either, as low confidence serves its purpose of being realistic about risks and motivating us to act in ways we otherwise might not (e.g. preparing for a presentation). I’m not surprised by anything said in this book, but it serves as a good reminder.

Art-and-science-of-aging-well-book-cover“The Art and Science of Aging Well” by Mark Williams
Nonfiction – 3 stars

This book is informative from a practitioner’s perspective (the author did let us know upfront) and shifts our thinking from how do we stay looking young to how can we maintain our faculties so that we can be independent (and not require a senior home to help with all our needs). I always prefer books that are more conversational and engaging, so this was a dry read for me. At least it gives me something to think about — namely that how I feel about the elderly is how I feel about myself in the future.

The-child-book-cover“The Child” by Fiona Barton
Mystery/Thriller – 3 stars

It was an interesting story, but the pace of this book was too slow.


Whoever-fights-monsters-book-cover“Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Hunting Serial Killers for the FBI” by Robert K. Ressler and Tom Shachtman
Nonfiction/ True Crime – 3 stars

Fans of the podcast My Favorite Muder will enjoy this book, as they reference Ressler frequently. This book is about how the FBI creates profiles of murderers based on crime scenes that can assist with catching a murderer. It was fascinating to read, but being published in 1992 not completely up to date. If you’re interested in true crime you’ll enjoy this book.

Great-and-terrible-beauty-book-cover“A Great and Terrible Beauty” by Libba Bray
YA fiction – 3 stars

So meh it hurts. This story of a Victorian girl at boarding school with magical powers was just mediocre to the core.


Age-of-wonder-book-cover“The Age of Wonder: how the romantic generation discovered the beauty and terror of science” by Richard Holmes
Nonfiction-history – 3 stars

One of my favorite topics made dull. I love reading about gentlemen scientists and budding naturalists going out on expeditions, but somehow these adventurous tales were told in a dry and long-winded way.


Inglorious-royal-marriages-book-cover“Inglorious Royal Marriages: Demi-Millenium of Unholy Mismatrimony” by Leslie Carroll
Nonfiction – 3 stars

I have read at least three other Leslie Carroll books before, usually on similar topics or royal scandals that are all a little tongue in cheek. This one was a little different – it was darker than expected. The chapters are a bit longer and more discussion of politics of the day (which I liked!), but the author frequently repeated something in each chapter that more careful editing would have caught. But if you’re looking for a introductory book into the politics of royal marriages from 1400 on this is a good start.

Whered-you-go-bernadette-book-cover“Where’d You Go Bernadette” by Maria Semple
Fiction, comedy – 3 stars

An unrepentant narcissist refuses to socialize with others, sabotaging the life of her daughter and husband. Her husband is an unsympathetic, conflict avoidant workaholic who allows his house to fall into ruin, attempts to institutionalize his wife, and then cheats on her rather than actually talk with anyone about their problems. Their daughter is an adorable know-it-all who is going to need a bucketload of therapy to avoid becoming the same kind of snobbish “genius” as her parents. The comedy, lampooning Bernadette’s gauche inferiors in Seattle, starts out satisfying, but begins to grate as the book wears on and the protagonist’s teflon-coated self-regard remains untouched by the disasters unfolding around her.

Boy-in-the-striped-pajamas-book-cover“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” by John Boyne
Fable, Children’s fiction – 2 stars

I thought the viewpoint expressed through this book was an interesting window into the world of Nazi Germany, but in reading many reviews afterwards I am dismayed by many parts of the book. I do believe the book gives children a greater understanding of racism and how children can be blind to racism if they are not influenced by others. At the same time this book makes light of a very troubling and disturbing time in our history and makes the main character lacking of a basic understanding of the world he finds himself in. I think readers of this book need to delve deeper into the history books of the time, to really understand the enormity of the destruction of the Jewish people. This book is listed as summer reading for our schools and I am hoping that it opens up a dialogue about the real horrors of this time and the falsehoods of this story and how it was, in fact, so much worse. I do not think this book gives a clear view into the horrors of concentration camps, but it does speak to friendship and a lack of racial bias in children.

Underground-railroad-book-cover“Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead
Historical fiction – 2 stars

Book started out well but focused way more on lyrical sentences than plot or character………….not what I thought it would be.. disappointing as Oprah picks usually good but this disappointing. Disappointed in this Oprah pick. Started out well but lyrical rather than any real plot, weak characterization. Writing good but out of focus.

Scrappy-little-nobody-book-cover“Scrappy LIttle Nobody” by Anna Kendrick
Memoir – 1 star

I’m not sure why this is a popular book to download as an audiobook, other than the fact that Anna Kendrick is a prominent actress (whom I never knew). She remarked how she omitted stories only she and her best friend thought were funny but realized later that the stories would’ve only been funny to them. There were stories in this book that I don’t care much about, especially her talk about sex (e.g. how her friends and she would explore the idea of sex but have no interest in doing it). I got very little out of this book other than her fleeting mind going from one topic to another and not really creating a narrative to follow.

Island-house-book-cover“Island House” by Nancy Thayer
Fiction, Light summer read – 1 star

Not happy with this book. I like light summer reads but the solution and problems were just plain silly.


Piece-of-the-world-book-cover“A Piece of the World” by Christina Baker Kline
Historical fiction – 1 star


Liz Reed

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