Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Crazy U: One Dad's Crash Course in Getting His Kid Into College

Author: Andrew Ferguson
Stars: 5
Review by: Bob E

Very funny and informative account of the college application process and its effect on families.  Well written.
 
 

Home: a Short History of an Idea

Author: Witold Rybczynski
Stars: 5
Review by: Mary NK

When did "house" become "home"? How did it evolve from solely protection from the elements, into a sanctuary? Beginning with pragmatic necessities, we humans gradually added beauty and comfort until our (cold, hard) castles became our Homes.
 

Bossypants

Author: Tina Fey
Stars: 3
Review by: Mary NK

Alternately silly & insightful, the audiobook read by the author is candid without stooping to gossip.
 

Man of War

Author: Charlie Schroeder
Stars: 3
Review by: Mary NK

Reminiscent of Confederates in the Attic, the author joins reenactment groups to get a feel for history and war in many countries and times, including Roman Legion, Polish Falcons, German infantry, Revolutionary war musketeer, French & Indian War cannoneer, etc.
 
 

The Perfect Fake

Author: Barbara Parker
Stars: 4
Review by: Jeanette

Good suspense, mystery. 

Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street's Post-Crash Recruits

Author: Kevin Roose
Stars: 3.5
Review by: Miss Lucy

NYT reporter Kevin Roose gets behind-the-scenes views of the life of young recruits on Wall Street today. 

The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge

Author: David McCullough
Stars: 5
Review by: BKF

The book details all the politics and problems surrounding the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. After reading the book you can't help but be amazed that it was actually completed! Thoroughly enjoyed this book. The Brooklyn Bridge is a beautiful bridge, and all the more so once you know the back story.
 
 

Providence Rag

Author: Bruce DeSilva
Stars: 4
Review by: BigDa

Slowly builds to a suspenseful denouement.
 

The 5th Wave

Author: Rick Yancey
Stars: 5
Review by: Marianne S.

So what happens when the space aliens show up and they aren't friendly? First book in a YA series, wonderfully executed. Looking forward to book two coming out in the Fall.
 
 

The Sun Also Rises

Author: Ernest Hemingway
Stars: 5
Review by: Julie

Wonderful, fast summer read. So many memorable lines.
 

Jane Eyre

Author: Charlotte Bronte
Stars: 5
Review by: Julie

Why not?
 
 
 

20 Grand

Author: Rebecca Curtis
Stars: 3
Review by: Julie

Okay short stories; I had loved one of her pieces in the New Yorker.
 
 

The Rosie Project

Author: Graeme Simsion
Stars: 4.5
Review by: English Teacher

Don Tillman is a quirky character.  He is highly intelligent and set in his ways.  He has set standards and expectations for his future wife and thinks his wife choices can be narrowed by a questionnaire that he creates.  Simsion developed the characters well.  I loved the variety of characters and the way the story unfolded.  My only critique was that the ending was a bit predictable.  You will laugh and cry as Don Tillman learns about himself.  A fun summer read!
 
 

Gone Girl

Author: Gillian Flynn
Stars: 5
Review by: Passionate About Books

I absolutely loved this book! One of the best novels of the year. It's a thriller intertwined with brilliantly written characters; it's the kind of book that's nearly impossible to put down. The surprises and twists keep the reader on their toes up until the final page, and my first thought upon finishing the novel was that I wanted to read it a second time. There was many times I wanted to just take a peek at the end to see what happens to Nick and Amy. But I didn't. I survived the heart pounding suspense and made it to the end of a very satisfying read. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!
 
 

My Wish List

Author: Gregoire Delacourt
Stars: 1.5
Review by: BookWorm2

The writing was good and the premise (a woman wins the lottery, but tells no one while she decides what, if anything, to do with the money) promising, but as with so many other books, there is the stereotypical spouse who is a rat.  So sad that the second half could not sustain the quality of characters that the first half had.
 
 

Keep Quiet

Author: Lisa Scottoline
Stars: 4
Review by: tandtmom

Another page turner from Scottoline, one of those gut-wrenching, tough decision-making series of events.  Story revolves around a family consisting of a mother, father, and teenage son.  The mother is a judge and an over-involved mother who is consumed by her son's grades, athletic endeavors, etc.  The father is a self-employed financial planner who is trying desperately to develop a relationship with his son because of the years he missed while building his business.  An accident, lots of secrets, twists, further complicate the story.  Although the topics are tough, it was a good read.
 
 

Just Jennifer

Summer of the Dead by Julia Keller (Minotaur, August 2014)


Summer in Acker’s Gap, West Virginia is hot and sultry, and a killer has struck, seemingly at random and the residents of this once thriving coal mining town hold their breath waiting to see if county prosecutor Bell Elkins and Sheriff Nick Fogelsong can bring someone to justice before the killer strikes again.  Bell is also dealing with the release from prison of her sister Shirley, who served time for a crime she committed to save her younger sister from their father and all the emotions she has kept repressed for so long.  Add in a coalminer’s daughter who will do anything to protect her disturbed father and it becomes a volatile situation just waiting to explode.   When the inevitable happens, an unthinkable crime is revealed, but the results are oddly redemptive, restorative and healing for those involved.  The people of Acker’s Gap are fiercely protective of their loved ones, their secrets and their pasts.  Many long to escape, some do, never to return, while others, like Bell, feel the strong pull to return to home.  Whether they choose to go or to stay, Acker’s Gap is indelibly etched on the souls of its residents who will carry it with them wherever they go.  This is the third entry into a series filled with memorable characters, each one flawed in their own way, will stay with you and such a strong feeling of place Acker’s Gap will remain in you long after the last page is turned.

Just Jennifer

One Kick by Chelsea Cain (Simon & Schuster, August 2014)

Chelsea Cain has terrified readers for year with serial killer Gretchen Lowell pursued by detective Archie Sheridan.  She now turns her attention to Kick Lannigan, a twenty-one-year-old woman who was kidnapped as a child of six, rescued five years later but unable to escape the demons that still hold her captive.   Kick turned to boxing and martial arts as a way to release her past; combined with the unique skills she learned while being held captive (bomb making, lock picking and escaping) Kick is in a word, dangerous.  She also has what it takes to help locate two children who go missing within weeks of each other.  John Bishop, a former weapons dealer, approaches Kick and convinces her that with his contacts and money and her knowledge of the inner workings of child kidnappers and abusers, they are an unstoppable team.  But John has a hidden agenda, as does Kick, and the one thing she may not be equipped to do is to revisit a past that she has successfully fortressed herself from in the past ten years---or so she thinks. Kick is a fascinating character: she is someone who could escape from almost any situation, shoot accurately from any distance, or throw a knife to kill yet there is an unexpected vulnerability about her.  No one gets inside the mind of her characters the way Chelsea Cain does, keeping her readers guessing and off balance until the final sentence. 
  

Just Jennifer

Remains of Innocence by J.A. Jance (William Morrow, July 22, 2014)


Out in Bisbee, Arizona a differently able man is found dead, presumably murdered, but the ME is out of town for the weekend and no determination will be made until Guy Machett makes his ruling.  Guy is found murdered in his home before he can come back to work.  Over two-thousand miles away, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts his step-mother has just died of emphysema, his half-sister Liza has just refurbished the house neither had lived in for over eleven years with hundred dollar bills she found hidden throughout the house and then disappeared the night after the house burned to the ground and her landlord was murdered.  On the lam from what or who, Liza doesn’t know, but she’s trying to get to Bisbee to find out what Guy knows.  Sheriff Joanna Brady does know that the trail ends in Bisbee and that she has two murders to get to the bottom of and needs the help of officials in Massachusetts to get to the bottom of at least one.  With as many twists and turns as a canyon creek, Joanna manages to untangle lies and deceit more than two decades old.  A hot, dusty setting brings Arizona to life while Jance does the same for her characters, as subtly as calling on Joanna’s step-father, the ex-ME for help, to show the difficult relationship Joanna has had with her mother.  Joanna was elected Sheriff after her husband was killed in the line of duty and her new husband Butch accepts his wife’s avocation and never feels as if he is living in another man’s shadow.  Fully realized characters and a complex case make this fast-paced read one to add to a must-read list this summer. 

Just Jennifer

Season of the Dragonflies by Sarah Creech (William Morrow, August 2014)

Beginning with Serena Lenore, the matriarchal dynasty has been producing some of the most beguiling scents for centuries.  Tucked away in the Blue Ridge mountains is a perfumery that is worth millions of dollars owing to a signature perfume whose wearers are hand-picked, sign a contract and are willing to hand over a fortune for the success it guarantees.   Something is not right, though, with the Lenore women.  Willow, the current CEO and granddaughter of Lenore is beginning to forget things; Mya, the heir apparent is willing to tamper with the formula for the sake of even greater success, or so she thinks; the youngest, Lucia, left the family fifteen years ago to seek her fame and fortune as an actress in New York City.  Newly divorced, Lucia is returning to the place of her birth where she will learn she has more of the family traits than she realized, maybe even more than Mya, and may be the key to saving the generations’ old business.  Led, or announced, by a swarm of dragonflies, Lucia and Willow quickly come to learn that Lucia is the only thing that can save the family business, but at what cost?
Told with a magical realism, Season of the Dragonflies is an atmospheric debut that explores or relationship to our family, especially the women in our family, and to generations that have come before and the ones that are yet to come.  As Lucia is willing to accept her gifts and find her place within her family and the company, Mya also learns to redefines her place in both, and learns what overreaching and not taking responsibilities can sometimes cause.  A perfect sultry read for the late summer.


Just Jennifer

Just My Typo: From “Sinning with the Choir” to “The Untied States” compiled by Drummond Moir (Three Rivers Press)

My life is rife with typos and as is the case with most people, I can easily spot others’ typos while missing my own egregious mistakes.  Most recently, a famous typo came up while preparing for a weekly Internet radio show I co-host http://hunterdonchamberradio.com/library.htm We often do a “today in history” and back in June, something caught my eye.  In the second (1934) edition of Merriam’s New International Dictionary, the word DORD got through, defined as “Density”.  Someone caught it five years later and began to investigate.  What had happened was, and editor ran together the phrase “D or d, cont./density” creating this new word.   But, and here’s the part I found interesting, Dord is actually a word: it is a bronze horn from Ireland dating back as far as 1000 BCE.  Huh.

Drummond Moir, who started his career as a proofreader in London, catching a missing “r” in the word “opprobrium”, has compiled a collection of typos, public and not so public, humorous and embarrassing, and put then on display for the world (or at least word geeks) to see.  Separated by type and source, the typos rage from “From his left ear to the corner of his mouth ran a long scar, the result of a duet many years before.  Flight from Germany, William le Queux” to “Arthur---was serious burned Saturday afternoon when he came into contact with a high voltage wife.  Albuquerque paper” and includes favorite typos of famous authors and editors (not necessarily their own).  The chapter featuring typos from children is less endearing as the words are often more likely to be malapropisms rather than typos.  A fun book to pick up and flip through at random with an invitation at the end to e-mail the editor with other humorous typos to be included future editions. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Congratulations to...

... our Week # 8 Prize Winners:

  • Kim H.
  • Liza

Progress So Far

Click on image to enlarge.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Steal the North

Author: Heather Brittain Bergstrom
Stars: 4
Review by: ADAR

First novel set in the West, present day.  Tells a lot about American Indians, their lives today and relations with "the white man".  Also a love story.
 
 

Lights Out

Author: David Bain
Stars: 2
Review by: BigDa

Lightweight, easy reading.
 
 

Lucky Dog

Author: Dr. Sarah Boston
Stars: 2
Review by: pages of summer

Did not like the veterinarian's attitude that pets are hobby.
 
 

Loss of Innocence

Author: Richard North Patterson
Stars: 4
Review by: DeckReader

A reminder of the turmoil of the late 1960s with a sweet love story and a woman coming of age.
 
 

Separate Beds

Author: LaVyrle Spencer
Stars: 4
Review by: DeckReader

Couldn't identify with main character's problems, but found the story interesting.

Still Life with Bread Crumbs

Author: Anna Quindlen
Stars: 4
Review by: Rainbow

It was interesting to see so many different opinions and meanings behind the art pieces.  I enjoyed the ending. 

Defending Jacob

Author: William Landay
Stars: 4
Review by: EAM

In addition to keeping readers wondering who committed the murder of the teen in the park, Landay delves into issues of how cases are brought to juries and their impact on families - impacts that are significant and detrimental whether the defendant is guilty or not.  Honest and thoughtful insights here.  Good discussion book - did Jacob do it or not? 

Fourth of July Creek

Author: Smith Henderson
Stars: 4
Review by: BigDa

Weird.  Disjointed. Sad. Hopeful. And yet it coalesces into a riveting tale.  Couldn't put it down.
 

The Wedding Bees

Author: Sarah-Kate Lynch
Stars: 5
Review by: libraryaimee

As sweet as Sugar Honey!  I loved every second of this book. Great summer beach read...and you will learn about beekeeping!
 
 

Gotcha (Sisterhood)

Author: Fern Michaels
Stars: 2.5
Review by: Saraswati

Starting at book 21 in a series seems like a strange plan, but this book does stand on its own.  The story is about a mother seeking revenge for her son's death and how the Sisterhood helps this along. The Sisterhood is ruthless! There are some supernatural things going on along with some very highly unlikely scenarios.  It was an OK read, but I am intrigued enough to look up some of the earlier books.

Flora and Ulysses

Author: Kate DiCamillo
Stars: 4
Review by: tandtmom

I enjoy keeping up to date with middle grade novels because they're fun and light-hearted.  This was an adorable story about a young girl who describes herself as a cynic, caught in a very unusual situation.  Her parents are divorced; her mother writes romance novels and her father, well, is quite unusual in that he is quite quirky, but a good-hearted man.  Flora observes a squirrel in her neighborhood being vacuumed up.  Not your typical day.  What happens after the vacuum incident is strange, but DiCamillo ties everything in quite nicely.  Should be a must read for middle grade students.  
 
 

Frozen: Heart of Dread

Author: Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati

Being the first book in a new series, I didn't know what to expect. The more I read the more I was convinced I saw this before.  I really mean saw it.  It felt like I was reading a compilation of post-apocalyptic and fantasy movie scripts.  The story is about a woman trying to escape from her current life, harder in this future than it sounds, and find the "Blue."  The Blue is like our Atlantis.  The story had some very dark moments, but I was surprised by the ending.  Take a chance and read the book and let me know what you think!
 
 

Good Things I Wish You

Author: A. Manette Ansay
Stars: 3
Review by: Ginger

This book has a unique format. The main character is writing a non-fiction, historical book about a love relationship from the mid 1800s. She finds parallels with a new love relationship developing in her own life. You will read an eloquent blend of fiction and history accompanied by photographs and notes from the past.
 
 

Everything I Never Told You

Author: Celeste Ng
Stars: 4
Review by: Ann M

The story takes place in the mid 1970s in Ohio.  Lydia, a teenage girl of a Chinese American family, disappears and is found dead.  The family falls apart as they try to decipher the mystery of her death.
 
 

Don't Shoot

Author: David Kennedy
Stars: 3
Review by: maggie

David Kennedy writes of his experiences in reducing the number of homicides in urban areas.  While his focus is on the criminal justice world, he forgets that the key to sustainable success are the people who work these programs.  Without dedicated people and those who believe, there is little hope for continuation of the initial success.
 
 

The Sense of an Ending

Author: Julian Barnes
Stars: 5
Review by: Shannan Seely

The book is part philosophy, part mystery and part mid-life crisis. Julian Barnes writes such excellent prose. The middle-aged man's life is changed when he receives a gift from an acquaintance of many years ago.The book will appeal to all genders. While reading, you will reflect and think about what you have done (or failed to do) to affect the people around you. A great read!
 
 

One Night

Author: Debbie Macomber
Stars: 3
Review by: E.L.

Romance and mystery.
 
 

The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge

Author: Carlos Castaneda
Stars: 3
Review by: Maya

 An interesting yet logically challenging account of the potential for a non-ordinary reality in which a Mexican "sorcerer" teaches the author about the hidden powers of certain plants and animals and how to access them. The author was a Master's student at UCLA at the time. The author describes his spiritual journey and the fears and challenges that he confronts along the way.  Not for everyone. Must keep an open mind and/or treat this book as fiction even though it is written as non-fiction. You decide.

Knit Two

Author: Kate Jacobs
Stars: 4
Review by: Maya

Excellent sequel to The Friday Night Knitting Club, which you MUST read first. A wonderful extension of the story. It will pull you in and want you to keep reading.
 

The Hidden Child

Author: Camilla Lackberg
Stars: 4
Review by: iambetsyw

A must read for fans of Scandinavian mysteries! The narration shifts from the present day Sweden to 1944 when the world was in the grip of World War II. A woman makes a shocking discovery in a box of her late mother's belongings. A Nazi medal, a child's bloodstained dress and a collection of personal diaries. It's all somehow connected to a recent murder...I don't want to say anything further because it will spoil the ending. If you like Jo Nesbo, Steig Larsson, Jussi Adler-Olsen you will love this book!
 

All Fall Down

Author: Jennifer Weiner
Stars: 3
Review by: iambetsyw

 Allison Weiss seems to have it all: a successful career as a blogger, a nice husband, a beautiful house in the 'burbs of Philly,a daughter. What most people (including Allison) don't realize is that she is slowly becoming addicted to prescription painkillers. It starts as a way to cope with her complicated life; a challenging child, a father who is in the early stages of dementia, a husband who is also overwhelmed by life. Allie winds up in rehab and is resistant to facing the fact that she is in the grip of addiction. Her road to recovery is not easy, but the conclusion of the story paints a picture of her constant struggle to deal with her desire to remain sober. Not as light a read as the author usually writes.
 
 

Rashi's Daughters, Book I: Joheved: A Novel of Love and the Talmud in Medieval France

Author: Maggie Anton
Stars: 4
Review by: Smudge

Life in a Talmud scholar's house in the early Middle Ages, France.
 
 

Air Bound: Sisters of the Heart

Author: Christina Feehan
Stars: 2.5
Review by: Saraswati

This is a book long in the making.  It has been years since the last "Sea Haven" book has been released.  Unfortunately,  it's the same 'ol, same 'ol.  They are not the Drakes, but...almost just the same...Sorry, but I read this before.   If you want an easy summer read with no background then it's ok, but otherwise....
 

Cat's Claw

Author: Susan Wittig Albert
Stars: 3
Review by: BusyMom

An entry in the Palm Springs mystery series - if you're a Stephanie Plum fan, you'll enjoy this.  Albert changed her writing approach in this story with point of view and I found it somewhat confusing until I figured out who was speaking.
 
 

Surgeon in Blue: Jonathan Letterman, the Civil War Doctor Who Pioneered Battlefield Care

Author: Scott McGaugh
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar

A long deserved biography of Dr. Johnathan Letterman, the PA born physician who is credited with standardizing battlefield medicine. Letterman grew up in a humble, but slightly well off family and was able to afford an excellent education despite the early death of his father. Possessed of excellent common sense, he began traveling upon graduation all over the country and applied that good sense to barracks and bases all over. Early highlights included tackling malaria ridden swamps in Florida, an act which caught the eye of several persons in the right places. So after Lincoln's appointed medical adviser left, Letterman found himself, with little actual tactical experience, head of the 100,000 plus Army of the Potomac on the eve of the Civil War. His abilities were first tested at Antietam, where his basic sense applications (baths, not eating moldy food, etc.) on the field cut illness down by 3/4 and deaths by an immeasurable amount. By Gettysburg he had become involved in planning parts of the battles.  After the war was over he married, fathered two daughters, and ended his brief life as a coroner. 

Superman versus the Ku Klux Klan: The True Story of How the Iconic Superhero Battled the Men of Hate

Author: Richard Bowers
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


 Admit it - you want to read this for the title alone.
 
Back in the 30s when Superman was created by Jewish teenagers Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, they mixed a lot of their heritage into the character. Hints and nods to Moses and other individuals are in his backstory so things seemed appropriate that he should be chosen a half generation later to take on the KKK. Concerned by increasing Klan recruitment of youngsters, it was decided to do a 16 part storyline on the Superman radio show about how Jimmy Olsen (alias the world's worst sidekick) attempts to infiltrate the KKK and gets caught immediately, necessitating a timely rescue. The series was written by and done in cooperation with numerous individuals including a muckraking journalist who the Klan had already threatened multiple times for doing the simple task of making them look like idiots. But the series was completed to near universal acclaim and won multiple awards, as well as to be marked later by several organizations as a key part of declining enrollment in the years after it was released. A very good book for comic enthusiasts, although many will probably agree with me in saying Jimmy Olsen should've just been bumped off. Would've saved Superman so much stress in the future.
 
 

I Invented the Modern Age: The Rise of Henry Ford

Author: Richard Snow
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy Apgar

A biography of Henry Ford, I got it for two reasons - one, I knew nothing of the man other than that he was rumored to have been a terrible anti-Semite, and two, for being such a famous personality of his time little is said of him today.  The book does a very good job of telling his origins and childhood in a way that explains most of his motivations later in life. The kicker is that, although the book acknowledges his anti-Semitism repeatedly, it doesn't really explain why he got to be that way. Especially in the light of retelling how his immediate family was at odds in their opinions, things fell rather flat there other than a brief explanation of "he read it in books when he was a kid and the idea must have stuck." So that part seemed rather a cop out granted how often it was brought up. However; when the book is its best is during the time when he was beginning his automotive empire so one can learn quite a bit about early engines, construction, etc. as things are explained rather well. So it was a bad / good situation.
 

A Terrifying Taste of Short and Shivery

Author: Robert San Souci
Stars: 2
Review by: Mandy Apgar

The overall worst of the series I think. A collection of darker folktales retold from global locations, it would have been a lot better if the editor had forgone adding silly urban legend type stories in. Where the book follows the usual series format we get classic stories like The Lutin and the usual one or two really obscure ones, but this volume has several "mad killer hiding behind the back seat" type things and is a small book at that. Also contains a retelling of a paranormal event known as the Dartmooor Terror and the same applies there - it is not written very well having been dumbed down a bit for the younger readers. The art as well is not the best of the series either.
 
 

Cape May's Gingerbread Gems

Author: Tina Skinner
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar

Cute. Very compact (postcard sized) and hardbound, this contains snapshots of various Cape May area Victorian buildings and a sentence or two of information. Not exactly what I was hoping for due to the lack of extra information, but it made up for it in showing structures not found too often in other books. A nice pocket sized surprise but nothing really past that. 

The Yellow Fairy Book

Author: Andrew Lang
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy Apgar

One of the many collections of folk and fairy tales by Andrew Lang, this one I had never read before and although I liked it I think the general reader would not. Coming from a very traditional German family I was more or less raised on the obscure stories instead of the more common ones. Out of several dozen stories in the book I would say only two (Emperor's New Clothes and Thumbelina) have actual name recognition among the general public today whereas another 7 would be vaguely familiar to a more studied reader. I like having the variety of unusual stories, but for many persons today whose knowledge of folk life consists of Disney films it would not be the best book. 

The Bones of Paris

Author: Laurie R. King
Stars: 5
Review by: Marianne S.

Searching for a missing American woman in Paris, 1929, including an astonishing cast of literati, Surrealists, and Dadaists, plus several visits to the Grand-Guignol.
 

Mr. Mercedes

Author: Stephen King
Stars: 3
Review by: Marianne S.

I found the protagonist, Det. K. William Hodges (Ret.), to be so annoying that I was really hoping for a different outcome to the story. I gave it an extra star for King's throw-away reference to Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box.
 

Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators

Author: William Stolzenburg
Stars: 5
Review by: Marianne S.

A lively look at the work of ecologists, over the past fifty or so years, who have proposed that the shrinking diversity to be found in ecosystems around the world is attributable to the lack of apex predators. Includes a thought provoking analysis of the consequences of a lack of predators here in the land of the white-tailed deer.
 
 

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

Author: Elizabeth Kolbert
Stars: 5
Review by: Marianne S.

Life on Earth is currently undergoing what may very well be the sixth major mass extinction. The author examines twelve animal and plant groups and species, tracing how human interference led to the eradication of these fauna and flora. Sobering, with a decent bibliography for follow-up.
 
 

Blood Red

Author: Mercedes Lackey
Stars: 4
Review by: Marianne S.

A quirky take on the Red Riding Hood tale. Red survives and grows up to become a hunter of all things that go bump in the night, but especially of werewolves. A quick, fun read.
 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cthulhu Cymraeg: Lovecraftian Tales from Wales

Author: Mark Howard Jones & Kate Evans
Stars: 4
Review by: Marianne S.

When I'm feeling unwell, eldritch horror featuring tentacle elder gods tends to make me feel better. This collection of nine short stories fit the bill nicely. 

Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan

Author: Melanie Dobson
Stars: 3
Review by: Jambob

A sweet little romance in the 1890s when young ladies bemoaned the tradition of an arranged marriage to save the family fortune. This is one of many books in the Love Finds You series. I always had an interest for Mackinaw Island ever since I saw Somewhere In Time. I hope to visit there one day.

The Goldfinch

Author: Donna Tartt
Stars: 3
Review by: EAM

I enjoyed the story-telling nature of this book, but the ending did not pull things together for me.  Very long and convoluted story, which kept my interest, but didn't seem to lead anywhere.
 
 

And Then There Were None

Author: Agatha Christie
Stars: 3
Review by: pages of summer

Trying to read books that were made into movies.....
this one's ending is not like the movie at all and the butler did not do it.
 

The Beach House

Author: Jane Green
Stars: 3.5
Review by: Barb

A nice summer listen to. 

Wanted

Author: Julie Kenner
Stars: 2.5
Review by: Saraswati

This is another book in the the Shades-like genre but lighter.  This is the first book in this new series. As with the other books in this style, there is a couple that has more issues than People magazine and are drawn together against others' advice.  The characters are all true adults and not as violent as in other texts. The series breaks the Shades way since the book comes to completion and book 2 is about another gentleman in the trio of friends.  Easy summer read.
 
 
 
 

Botany for Gardners, 3rd Ed.

Author: Brian Capon
Stars: 4
Review by: Saraswati

This is another book I had to read for a class that I am taking.  Although the book is being used for a "non-science major" class it contained a lot of scientific information.  This is a great book if you really want to learn about plant life.  By knowing the basic science you can understand why plants do what they do and how to help your garden.  I enjoyed the refresher information but I also had a lot of "AHA" or "REALLY?" moments.  Great book if you want to get more details about plants.
 
 

Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification: An Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families of North America

Author: Thomas J. Elpel
Stars: 5
Review by: Saraswati

I had to read this book as part of a class I am taking, but I really enjoyed using the guide and information.  The book provides a brief biology course about plants at the beginning, but the majority of the book is a key to help you ID plants.  I had a great time searching out the unknown plants around my home. The funny part was finding out that my herb garden contained mostly plants from the mint family even though I thought I had a pretty diverse garden.  A very fun book!
 
 

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Good Thing

Author: Alfie Kohn
Stars: 4
Review by: laz

I think that Alfie Kohn should be required reading for any parent and/or educator, and this one is no exception. A great look at the myth so many have bought into, and why we need to examine it more closely! 

Peter Pan Must Die

Author: John Verdun
Stars: 3
Review by: BigDa

Needed a GPS to follow the intricate plot.
 
 

The Well of Lost Plots

Author: Jasper Fforde
Stars: 5
Review by: BookWorm2

Book 3 in the Thursday Next series and an amazing read.  This series is fantastic for any true lover of books.  Fforde weaves a believable tale with fantastical back stories.
 

No Stone Unturned

Author: James W. Ziskin
Stars: 4
Review by: BigDa

A modern day man writes about an avant-garde feminist detective in the 1960's and nails it.
 
 

Smokin' Seventeen

Author: Janet Evanovich
Stars: 4
Review by: Smudge

The Stephanie Plum series makes me laugh.
 
 

A Stitch in Crime

Author: Betty Hechtman
Stars: 3
Review by: E.L.

Interesting murder mystery.
 
 

The Romance of Tristan and Iseult

Author: Joseph Bedier & Hilaire Belloc
Stars: 5
Review by: Cecily Smith

I have always wanted to read this story, and now I am eager to read it again in its original French!
 

The Emperor's Children

Author: Claire Messud
Stars: 3
Review by: 1stYearInTheClub

I thought this book read like a Woody Allen film without the humor.  It gets better if you stick with it.  It's about the lives of a group of people living and working in NYC.  I didn't care for the characters.  It must have been the author's intent.
 
 

Watching You

Author: Michael Robotham
Stars: 4
Review by: Bookworm mamma

A good, suspenseful read.
 
 

The Night Circus

Author: Erin Morgenstern
Stars: 2
Review by: Ginger

Other club members enjoyed the book so I read it only to find out, I don't care to read fantasy. The plot was weak and I was disappointed with the ending. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Congratulations to...

... our Week # 7 Prize Winners:

  • Jeremy
  • Karen


Progress So Far

Click on image to enlarge.

A Pickpocket's Tale: The Underworld of Nineteenth-Century New York

Author: Timothy J. Gilfoyle
Stars: 4
Review by: Matriarch

This non-fiction book by a noted historian is well researched and very informative. It focuses on a man who lived in late nineteenth century NYC and his life in the underworld. Gilfoyle also goes to great length to detail the criminal "justice" system at the time. If you enjoy the fiction of Caleb Carr, you'll love this. 

Expat: Women's True Tales of Life Abroad

Author: Christina Henry De Tessan (editor)
Stars: 4
Review by: Matriarch

This collection of essays by women who have lived abroad was a great read. From Japan to England to Spain, the women had vastly different experiences and some surprising ones as well. If you've ever dreamed of living in a foreign country and experiencing a totally new way of life, you'll enjoy this.
 
 

Aunt Dimity & the Wishing Well

Author: Nancy Atherton
Stars: 4
Review by: Saraswati

I really enjoy this series because the stories usually leave me feeling content.  This story is about making wishes come true and what makes them good or bad.  It also makes you think about who your friends and neighbors really are.  The stories take place in a small hamlet called Finch, England.  The town has all the things that one would expect regarding a small town.  This time a quiet member of the community passes, and not murdered, and so starts the wishing well story line.  This is an enjoyable read for the summer or just when you want to feel good.
 

V is For Vengeance

Author: Sue Grafton
Stars: 4
Review by: mystery lover

I enjoyed this book and series.  This book is more about crime.  The author got away from the usual outline that a lot of mystery writers use, to me that's a plus.
 

Bloom and Doom

Author: Beverly Allen
Stars: 3
Review by: laz

First in a new murder mystery series. Very predictable, but not too much to take away from its easy reading charm. Thumbs up. 

Boy, Snow, Bird

Author: Helen Oyeyemi
Stars: 1
Review by: BKF

One word.... UGH!
 

Loving Frank

Author: Nancy Horan
Stars: 4
Review by: MidnightReader

This is the fictional account of Mamah and her illicit love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright between 1907 and 1914. The novel is based on research done by a first time novelist and is a touching account of life and mores in America and Europe. I wasn't sure about it when I started it, but as I got deeper into the book I was really hooked.
 

Thrill

Author: Jackie Collins
Stars: 1
Review by: Passionate about Books

This book was so boring! Yes it had sex, drugs, and the glamorous life. But to be honest, I felt extremely bored while reading it, and the characters annoyed me! Sorry, but this book was a snoozer for me.
 
 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Booty Bones

Author: Carolyn Haines
Stars: 4
Review by: Saraswati

This book takes off right after the last where we find our main character trying to recuperate with her fiance.  There is no rest for the weary as our lady PI is asked to help free a man in jail and investigate a murder.  Just to add fun into the mix there is a hunt for a pirate's treasure and the always expected near-death experience. Unfortunately, things still don't go well for our PI but there is hope on her horizon.  Easy summer read and the hope that things work out better in the future.
 

The King: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood

Author: J.R. Ward
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati

I forgot how many story lines Ward can put into one novel.  I almost felt like I needed a spreadsheet to keep track.  When I first saw that this novel was coming out I thought, wasn't there already a book about the King???  There was.  However, this is both the far past and the present combining.  This book focuses more on the politics of the vampire society then the wars of past.  It has some true current event points of view about the divide between the people that consider themselves the top few versus the rest of us. What happens when you embrace the many versus indulging the few?  Once you get the stories straight, this is a nice read.  Enjoy!
 
 

Born of Fury

Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Stars: 4
Review by: Saraswati

I had to reacquaint myself with the cast of characters and the wars going on in the story line but once I was on board it read fast.  You get the gist of which characters will be coming together right at the very start.  Two trained assassins are thrown together in a non-combat situation and fall in love and save the day.  Throw in a few rescues, fights, and side story lines and have a fun, exciting, summer read.
 

Ordinary Grace

Author: William Kent Krueger
Stars: 4
Review by: ADAR

Kept me going all the way never knowing the culprit.  A mystery but not scary.
 

The Lost Wife

Author: Alyson Richman
Stars: 4
Review by: ADAR

Has to do with the Holocaust so it is very real.  Skip it if you do not like this topic.  It was very good.
 
 

Shopaholic Ties the Knot

Author: Sophie Kinsella
Stars: 3
Review by: Amy R.

A light-hearted summer read.  Somewhat predictable, but enjoyable none the less.

Falling For Her Fiance

Author: Cindi Madsen
Stars: 4
Review by: LateNightReader

This was an enjoyable story about two long-time friends who pretend to be engaged to help each other out. As their charade continues, they realize that they may have deeper feelings for each other. The question is whether either is willing to give up that friendship to pursue a relationship. 

One Doctor: Close Calls, Cold Cases, and the Mysteries of Medicine

Author: Brendan Reilly, M.D.
Stars: 5
Review by: Miss Lucy

My book group chose this book. As I started reading, I enjoyed it very much, but wondered what the rest of the group would think. After all, my daughter is doing her residency, and it was interesting to me to "live through" a day in her life. But the more I read, the more I became totally fascinated, and realized that anyone who has been hospitalized, or has had a family member hospitalized, or might someday be hospitalized, would have an interest in what this book has to say. The author is not only someone you would wish to have as your own doctor, he is a talented writer, who managed to make a page-turner out of the day-to-day life of a doctor.
 
 
 

Black Moon

Author: Kenneth Calhoun
Stars: 1
Review by: Miss Lucy

It had a great premise - an epidemic spread across the country which prevented people from sleeping. But the execution fell flat. It seemed to just go on and on, with very little variation.
 
 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Author: Maya Angelou
Stars: 5
Review by: iloveHCL

This book fits the summer reading theme of literary elements beautifully, I think. It's rare that I read a book and focus on the use of language as much as the story. The reader is dropped into 1930s life in a small southern town and feels what life was like for the black population.
 
 

Seven Flowers and How They Shaped Our World

Author: Jennifer Potter
Stars: 1
Review by: Mandy Apgar

The author has done some other, much better, books on plants and botanical history, such as the one on the rose. Here she is concerned with tulips, orchids, poppies, roses, sunflowers, lilies, and the lotus in terms of how each plant has impacted history. Some of the events are a bit of a stretch with how she overemphasizes their global importance, and her language gets pretty florid at times. Would have benefited better from an author with a less verbose style & not as prone to be poetic.

300

Author: Frank Miller & Lynn Varley
Stars: 1
Review by: Mandy Apgar

I really wanted to like this, but with the exception of the Dark Knight series have never been a big Frank Miller fan. About the battle between 300 outnumbered Spartan soldiers at Thermopylae against the Persian army, there is plenty for him to have gone into. But his art is unusually blocky here, and the figures look static and posed. Writing is not his best at all either, or even very good. Stilted would describe it. And while not a historical stickler for these things following the battle itself more so would have been interesting than all the asides he took - and how bloody often did he have to say "Sparta?" OK, so it's one side of the fight, but it's awfully irritating at times. Inspired the film of the same name and I have no idea how they got one from the other as they're fairly different and this was just overly dull, inartistic, and uninspired. Not that the movie was good, but still.
 
 

Making Make-Believe Real: Politics as Theater in Shakespeare's Time

Author: Garry Wills
Stars: 1
Review by: Mandy Apgar

This was a boring one. Concerned about the Elizabethan attitude towards drama as a political tool, it falls pretty flat at times going on and on about the various Shakespearean plays involved instead of the time itself.

Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War

Author: Mark Harris
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar

In an attempt to help justify WWII to the public, 5 Hollywood directors - Capra, Ford, Huston, W. Wyler, and J. Stevens - all journeyed to the battle front to photograph and document major events and battles all the way up to the war's end. An account of their lives during this time, period attitudes of film making, as well as an account of the war itself told from their perspective. Being present for Midway, aerial combat, the liberation of Dachau, and other events, all 5 came back home with a slightly to severely different sense of purpose that permanently affected their careers. 

Hunterdon in my Heart

Author: Walter Choroszewski
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy Apgar

Mostly photos with a few sparse captions, it was produced to celebrate the tricentennial. Being a newer resident (2½ years) I was still able to recognize all the places, and actually I would have preferred something a little bit different. Was not even that much on the Red Mill for example, lots of outdoor shots, and commentary by local persons and elected officials. Pretty but very little substance to it.
 
 

The Great Silence: Britain from the Shadow of the First World War to the Dawn of the Jazz Age

Author: Juliet Nicolson
Stars: 1
Review by: Mandy Apgar

Reading the dust jacket, the book seemed like it would be a lot more interesting. Instead what it turned out to be is a series of accounts of persons dealing with grief after losing loved ones during WWI. A serious, noteworthy subject of course, but with time after time of X person did this or Y person was never the same it got to be rather depressing instead of a more scholarly account of the transition to the jazz age like the book implied.
 
 

In the Blood

Author: Lisa Unger
Stars: 3
Review by: PKB

A new author for me and a nice change. A psychological thriller about a girl finishing college and taking a job, but she has a past that you won't believe.
 
 

The Tale of Halcyon Crane

Author: Wendy Webb
Stars: 3
Review by: Jambob

A book about family secrets, murder, mystery, ghosts, and witches. Set on Grand Manitou Island which is disguised name of Mackinac Island in the Great Lakes. Ms. Webb is a good writer weaving past and present into a haunted tale with a happy ending.
 

Eye of the Needle

Author: Ken Follett
Stars: 5
Review by: Need to Read

Eye of the Needle is the first Ken Follett book I have ever read.  I wasn't sure I would like it it, but once I got into it, I was hooked on Follett.  Great book. Will certainly read more of his work!

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Author: Ransom Riggs
Stars: 3
Review by: Julie

The accompanying photographs are what carried the storyline - oddities captured in black and white.  The end got a little sci-fi, but the beginning captured a lonely teen boy's desire to get to know his grandfather through a time travel experience.
 
 

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Author: Jamie Ford
Stars: 5
Review by: Smudge

A story of the relationships between fathers and their sons, of a first love, and of racism during the time of Japanese internment of WWII.

Eyes on You

Author: Kate White
Stars: 5
Review by: bookhunter

A great thriller with many twists and turns.
 
 

The Wedding Letters

Author: Jason F. Wright
Stars: 5
Review by: Woman on the Go

Another wonderful read. A great hidden love story. His stories are magic for me. I am really enjoying this author. I can get through his books quickly. Looking forward to another of his books to read.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains

Author: Neil Gaiman
Stars: 3
Review by: Autumn

This book is a novella originally written to be performed at the Sydney Opera House in Australia.  It was recently published and set to illustrations by artist Eddie Campbell.  While I generally enjoyed the story, I found that sometimes the graphics clashed and somewhat distracted from the text.  This story is not Gaiman's best, but I think that it would make for a very interesting performance piece.  He just performed this work last weekend at Carnegie Hall and I'm sorry I wasn't able to attend!
 
 

Explosive Eighteen

Author: Janet Evanovich
Stars: 5
Review by: PK

I've never been disappointed by any of Janet's "Stephanie Plum" books.  Another brilliant and fun summer read.
 
 

Coyote Waits

Author: Tony Hillerman
Stars: 5
Review by: Bob E

Incorporates intimate knowledge of Navajo tribal customs and a deep appreciation of the beauty of the American Southwest in a page turning mystery.

Whiskey Beach

Author: Nora Roberts
Stars: 5
Review by: Passionate About Books

When reading this book, I thought Abra was really annoying, however as I kept reading on I really enjoyed her personality. She is a very quirky, eccentric, bubbly, and vivacious person. I'm glad Eli and her became an item so to speak...haha!
The storyline and plot of this book was simply amazing! It had me hooked. Whiskey Beach was definitely a page-turner! I could not put this book down. Whiskey Beach is an exciting, yet thrilling novel built on the foundation of an alluring setting that easily encourages readers to lose themselves for hours at a time in its pages. (IT DID FOR ME!) Nora Roberts just hits the note with the perfect blend of romance and suspense in her latest work. This is an absolute must read for sure! 

A Dark and Stormy Knit

Author: Anne Canadeo
Stars: 3
Review by: laz

Fun. Love this series. Perfect summer reading mystery. Young girl depends on the help and love of her older knitting circle friends to get through solving a murder and losing a friend. 

Saving the World

Author: Julia Alvarez
Stars: 2
Review by: Smudge

The sub story was good, but I didn't see the link to the main story, and found the main story a bit tedious.
 

The Sonnet Lover

Author: Carol Goodman
Stars: 4
Review by: Smudge

Shakespeare, the dark lady, a villa in Tuscany, and mystery.
 

Five Days Left

Author: Julie Lawson Trimmer
Stars: 3
Review by: Tartu

The two disparate stories never came together for me and I felt the characters of the subplot were better developed than the characters of the main plot.  The book received high praise from Jodi Picoult so I may try again when it is released in September. 

Summer Wind

Author: Mary Alice Monroe
Stars: 5
Review by: Kee Read

This is book #2 in The Lowcountry Summer Trilogy (#1 is Summer Girls.) Both books are very good, interesting characters. This is one of my favorite authors! 

The Invention of Wings

Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Stars: 5
Review by: Cyndie W

I have 2 new feminist heroines - Sarah and Angelina Grimke!
 
 

Nantucket Sisters

Author: Nancy Thayer
Stars: 1
Review by: Kee Read

Very slow moving, boring story. I usually like her books, but not this one. 

Reconstructing Amelia

Author: Kimberly McCreight
Stars: 3
Review by: Cyndie W

Really sad if this is what our young girls lives are like today.
 
 

The History of White People

Author: Nell Irvin Painter
Stars: 5
Review by: Cyndie W

I highly recommend; it provides a context for a lot of the division in our country today!

Drowning Ruth

Author: Christina Schwarz
Stars: 2.5
Review by: 1stYearInTheClub

It took me two attempts to finish Drowning Ruth.  I put it down,  but decided to give it another try after about a week.  It's well written, but I didn't like it enough to give it a 3.
 
 

A Quiet Belief in Angels

Author: R.J. Ellory
Stars: 5
Review by: BigDa

I couldn't wait for the ending, yet I didn't want it to end.
A tour de force of the English language.
 
 

Love Life

Author: Rob Lowe
Stars: 4
Review by: bandit

I enjoyed the honesty in this biography and listening to it on audio with Rob Lowe reading made it that much better.

On Such a Full Sea

Author: Chang-Rae Lee
Stars: 2
Review by: Michelle D.

Hard to explain - about a girl who lives in a future society and leaves her community in search of her boyfriend who has gone missing.  But the writing is long and convoluted and it is not always clear what is happening to the characters.  The ending doesn't feel like a conclusion at all.
 
 

Mockingjay

Author: Suzanne Collins
Stars: 5
Review by: BusyMom

I started the Hunger Games series anticipating my daughter would want to read it -- and I got sucked into the tough world of Panem and Katniss.  I remember thinking it was a horrible premise when I saw the trailer for the first movie; after all, children were killing children.  However, you quickly realize there are very few in the nation who really enjoy the Games and the brewing revolution builds.  While it's hard to separate each book, this final chapter was satisfying, even if I might not have agreed with all the conclusions.  It's an interesting commentary on politics and how no one gets it just right. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Bend in the Road

Author: Nicholas Sparks
Stars: 5
Review by: Passionate about Books


This book is absolutely heart wrenching! Nicholas Sparks is my all time favorite author, and his books are simply terrific! Although A Bend in the Road was a sad book, it was also a love story. The love that these characters shared for one another is merely joyous and overwhelming! I really enjoyed how Sparks uses flashbacks in his novels. Flashbacks are vital because it makes the story much more enjoyable to read, rather than straight narrating the novel. Great job Nicholas Sparks as always! Can't wait to read another novel by him. I highly recommend this book, as well as his other novels!!!

The Undomestic Goddess

Author: Sophie Kinsella
Stars: 5
Review by: Passionate about Books


I love Sophie Kinsella's novels, they are a light hearted comedy that makes you laugh out loud at times. I was very intrigued by this book.
I found the main character Samantha to be very real, she was a young successful professional who has never turned on a stove or knows where to put the bag in her vacuum. With that being said I was wondering how Samantha was going to possibly be a housekeeper? In a series of funny mishaps, Samantha gets lessons and starts to realize there is more to life than high powered stress.
I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it!

True North

Author: Jill Ker Conway
Stars: 3
Review by: BKF


Picks up where The Road from Coorain leaves off. Author leaves Australia to attend college in the United States, meets her husband-to-be, and establishes herself in the world of academics.

The Road From Coorain

Author: Jill Ker Conway
Stars: 3
Review by: BKF


Jill Ker Conway, a scholar, author and the first woman president of Smith College, writes of growing up in the Outback of Australia, family struggles and her need to be her own person.

Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster - the Creators of Superman

Author: Brad Ricca
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


Combining stories of Moses, Tarzan, Jesse Owens and others, Cleveland teens Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman. More so a biography of the pair, which is more than well deserved, reflected through their struggles with their creation. Selling the character for $130 under a cloudy agreement, the two were left destitute at times while DC Comics and others in charge reaped massive benefits. I have sold comics for nearly 26 years and no two other figures have gotten the shaft as much as these. Although Superman is not nearly the world's most popular character, he is the most iconic probably, and the book's greatest strength is when it details their fight to be recognized and just plain survive. What keeps it from being a 5 is a final chapter on concerned parties and how they relate to the ongoing legal issues surrounding ownership, it doesn't mesh well. You have the two eventually passing after so long and then it hits a wall almost.

Russians: The People Behind the Power

Author: Gregory Feifer
Stars: 1
Review by: Mandy Apgar


It was very well written but I didn't like it as it was so bloody depressing. An account of Russian attitudes and thought in the modern age, it boiled down all too often to "our economy is in the toilet so we drink a lot." Just so repetitive.

Walt Before Mickey: Disney's Early Years, 1919-1928

Author: Timothy S. Susanin & Diane Disney Miller
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy Apgar


About the career of Disney before he invented Mickey Mouse. Does not go into his childhood much, which I didn't like as it left out a lot of his motivation, and ends abruptly when his then animators defected for the man who bought out his first famous character of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Thomas' "An American Original" is still the best bio on Disney there is, but this one was good in giving a few extra details on his early collaborators - especially Ubbe Iwerks, and also his courtship of wife Lilly.

Walt Disney: Conversations

Author: Kathy Merlock Jackson
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy Apgar


The author did not really write anything, instead the book is merely a collection of interviews of Walt Disney. His statement before the House Un-American Activities Committee, an article of his eldest daughter, interview by Cecil B DeMille and others.

Spinning Disney's World: Memories of a Magic Kingdom Press Agent

Author: Charles Ridgway
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


A well written, neatly done account of the actions of the former head of Disney PR written by the man himself. None of today's made up nonsense about Walt Disney, Ridgway got to know him the last 3 years of his life and spent the rest of his career thinking "what would Walt have done?" Really good for the little details he gives, but fails to not go into detail about the Eisner/ Roy E Disney falling out that shaped the company so much in recent years.

July 1914: Countdown to War

Author: Sean McMeekin
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy Apgar


A history of the events of that time relative to WWI. Goes into uncanny depth, too much so at times, which is its major flaw. Overburdened with detail often, it loses its focus then. Also I think it doesn't cover why the events happened as much, starts up pretty fast but doesn't always explain why certain events took place earlier that impacted others at the core time.

Poison: Sinister Species With Deadly Consequences (American Museum of Natural History)

Author: Dr. Mark Siddall & Megan Gavin
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


I liked this one. A rarity of museum books, it covers topics behind the current AMoNH exhibit on poisons with the focus of toxic animals. Well written with good commentary and insight, it is also a bit snarky at times. Seems to fit the subject as the book often goes into detail of what x doofus did wrong to find themselves dead or nearly so. In that aspect it also carries a definite "nature can still whup us" tone throughout.
 

George Washington: The Crossing

Author: Jack E. Levin & Mark R. Levin
Stars: 1
Review by: Mandy Apgar


Note to readers - a small book with large print and numerous pictures not all relating to your subject means two things - one, the author doesn't have much of substance to say and what he does have to say is very little and basic. It also does not look good if your insightful introduction is written by your son. Probably because he couldn't get much anyone else to pay attention. Very dull and boring, it does indeed do a good job of summarizing the events leading to the crossing but fails to really explain why it was so valuable and how he did it other than a basic "it was cold" and exaggerating certain aspects of the Delaware itself. A book more so on the image behind the famous painting instead of what really happened.

Vikings: Life and Legend

Author: Gareth Williams, Peter Pentz, Matthias Wemhoff, & Her Majesty Queen Margrethe of Denmark
Stars: 1
Review by: Mandy Apgar


This is one of those books that makes me want to go back to crosswords. Ample and well illustrated, this coffee table type edition goes into the history of the Viking people from a standpoint of that they really were not as all nasty as they are portrayed. Written by a mass of museum educators in preparation for a large exhibition, it falls into the trap of so many other museum volumes - all pretty pictures and no meat. Very little insight, or even thematic focus, is offered. Little information to a knowledgeable reader is new and several subjects are quickly glossed over - like religion, which I wanted more on but the section on it paid it little mind and seemed like mostly background.