Book Reviews

 Welcome to my Book Reviews page!  Click on the title to read my full review.

 * = favorite.  To get a sense of my general book taste, read this post, What I Love and Hate in Books

Kid Lit: Middle Grade

The Amulet of Samarkand, by Jonathan Stroud.  A magical fantasy with lots of action.

*Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer.  A 12 year old (slightly) evil genius plots to steal gold from fairies.  Very fun, and over the course of the serious, Artemis gets a conscience!

The Eighth Dayby Dianne Salerni.  Arthurian legend comes to 21st century kid lit as Jax Aubrey discovers his magical powers and a mysterious eighth day of the week, set up by Merlin himself.

El Deafo, by Cece Bell.  Award winning graphic novel about the difficulties of being a child with hearing impairment.

File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents, by Lemony Snicket.  13 mini-mysteries with solutions in the back.  Clever book with lots of great word play.

The Green Glass Sea, by Ellen Klages.  Historical fiction about the children of scientists working on the Manhattan Project in 1940s Arizona.

Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud.  Fantasy/ adventure about a misfit young boy and his quest. Interesting theme on the value of stories and legends and the role they play in our lives.

*Liar and Spy, by Rebecca Stead.  Middle schooler Georges joins a spy club with his curious new neighbor “Safer”.

*The London Eye Mystery, by Siobhan Dowd.  Ted’s brain “runs on a different operating system,” but that doesn’t stop him from solving the mystery of his cousin’s disappearance.

*The Ranger’s Apprentice, by John Flanagan.  This series is set in a world similar to medieval Europe – great adventure for middle grade readers.

*Wonder, by R.J. Palacio.  August Pullman, a ten year old boy with a severe facial deformity, attends his first year of school, and it changes him and almost everyone around him.

Kid Lit: Young Adult

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher.  A novel about teen suicide that inspired a controversial series on Netflix.

An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green.  Colin Singleton is a genius, but he can’t figure out why Katherines keep dumping him.

Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein.  The story of two courageous young women and their unlikely friendship during WWII.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart.  Frankie teaches her boarding school friends not to underestimate her as she secretly masterminds a series of hilarious pranks.  Fun book, good message.

Dream Boy by Mary Crockett and Madelyn Rosenberg.  A girl dreams of the perfect guy, and then he walks into chemistry class.  But she learns that if her dreams can come true, so can her nightmares.

*Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell.  Two misfits fall in love over punk music.  Set in the 1980’s, it’s a very well written story of first love.

*The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. Two teens entertain the idea of romance despite the shadow of cancer which hangs over both of their lives. Must read; bring tissue.

Looking for Alaska, by John Green.  Hard core teen novel that explores loss and suffering.

Matched, by Ally Condie.  A dystopian novel about a girl who discovers her perfect society isn’t so perfect. Good intro to the dystopian genre.

*Mosquitoland by David Arnold.  Mim travels across country to find and help her mom who is suffering from an unknown (to Mim) illness.  Funny and thoughtful.

Paper Towns, by John Green.  “Q” needs to learn to expand his comfort zone.  He does so in three journeys involving the elusive Margo Roth Speigleman.

*The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky.  15 year old Charlie changes from a “wallflower” to someone who really knows “how to be there.”  Warning: lots of “content”.

See You At Harry’s, by Jo Knowles.  Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible, but when tragedy strikes, her crazy family must learn to pull together.  Bittersweet kidlit.

Since You’ve Been Gone, by Morgan Matson.  A great book about tackling awkwardness and rising above doubt.

Skinny, by Donna Cooner.  An overweight teen learns not to listen to the vicious voice inside her head.

Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson.  A tough but worthwhile read about a girl recovering from sexual assault.

Ultimatum by K.M. Walton. Two brothers who don’t understand each other and don’t get along must learn how to as they face their father’s impending death.  Well written, obviously sad, but with a hopeful ending.

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart.  Beautiful writing in this YA thriller, although the surprise ending left me a bit unhappy.

Adult Fiction

11/22/63, by Stephen King. A story of time travel that asks, if you had the power to change the course of events, would you?

Fahrenheit 451by Ray Bradbury.  A banned book about banned books!

Folly Beachby Dorothea Benton Frank.  A light beach read about a middle aged woman who survives a horrific marriage and starts to rebuild her life in Folly Beach.  Funny.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.  This novel combines historical fiction and mystery with a dash of fairy tale for a compelling read about family history.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.  A thriller told from the viewpoints of three different women.

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn.  A thriller about a marriage gone wrong.

Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens.  An orphan mysteriously inherits a fortune, which dramatically changes his life.

*The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien  A story of adventure, courage, and a curious little creature named Bilbo.  Dwarves, elves, wizards and goblins too.

The Host, by Stephenie Meyer.  Aliens, body snatching, and a bizarre love triangle.

The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom.  A white servant girl struggles to find her place in plantation society.
The Kite Runnerby Khaled Hosseini  A young boy from Afghanistan struggles to find acceptance and redemption in his war torn country.
*The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  Victoria has spent her entire life in foster care.  Through the language of flowers, she learns to heal, forgive, and love.
Little Bee, by Chris Cleave.  No one wants to say much about this book except that it involves an African girl, a wealthy British couple, and a brutal scene on a beach.
Lord of the Flies, William Golding.  A classic study of human nature in the absence of order and civility.  It’s short; you should read it.
Me Before You by Jo Jo Moyes.  A thoughtful examination of assisted suicide.  Moyes keeps the story from getting too dark with her vivacious, funny, and compelling characters.

*The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern.  Two magicians compete and fall in love in the dazzling setting of a night circus.  One of my favorite books.  

The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah.  Two sisters resist the Nazis in very different ways during WWII in occupied France.

Run, by Anne Patchett.  This novel covers 24 hours in the life of a Boston family after a heated argument and an accident in a blizzard.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.  College Professor Don Tillman likes order, structure, schedule.  Enter Rosie, who treasures none of these things.  A fun read.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult  A thought provoking examination of race via relatable characters and a medical dilemma.

*The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.  Henry suffers from Chrono Displacement, a disorder that unexpectedly pulls him around in time.  This has touching and thought provoking ramifications on his relationship with the love of his extraordinary life.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple.  A hilarious and thoughtful story of an intelligent, talented woman who gets lost in motherhood and marriage- and how she finds herself again.

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah.  Two sisters reunite after their father’s death to care for their difficult mother, and they learn new and startling things about her past in Russia.

Adult Non-Fiction

The Glass Cage: How Computers Are Changing Us by Nicholas Carr.  A caution on the dangers of letting technology have too much say in our lives.

Glitter and Glue, by Kelly Corrigan.  Great memoir about a daughter learning to appreciate her mother.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.  An excellent read for aspiring authors or fans of Mr. King.

Suburban Haiku, by Peyton Price.  A humorous collection of Haiku about suburban life.

Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand.  This is a true story about a delinquent turned track star turned Army hero and his amazing war time journey after his plane crashes over the Pacific.

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.  Six little words from her older sister challenge Shonda to do the things that scare her.  The result? A much happier Shonda.

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler.  Funny and insightful memoir from a successful comedienne.

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