Category Archives: Book Review

Book Review – Talking as Fast as I Can

Talking as Fast as I Can book coverTalking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

If this book is even a modicum of what it’s like inside Lauren Graham’s mind, I want to live there. Charming, fast-paced, interesting, crazy, funny, smart, and honest. I would recommend Lauren Graham’s memoir to fans of Gilmore Girls, fans of Parenthood, and fans of fun.

Book Review – Alex, Approximately

Alex Approximately book coverAlex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Bailey “Mink” Rydell is pretty sure her soul mate is a fellow film geek she only knows online as “Alex.” When she moves across the country to live with her dad, it just happens to be the same town where Alex resides, but since they agreed to keep the personal stuff to a minimum, she doesn’t know how to find him. But, she does find the annoying, yet charming, Porter Roth. As Bailey and Porter grow closer, she begins to wonder if finding Alex is still a priority. She just doesn’t know she’s already found him. Jenn Bennett creates a delightful YA take on You’ve Got Mail with Bailey and Porter. Their quips back and forth create an undeniable chemistry as does the snippets of their online conversations that intertwine with the story. That chemistry is what pulls the whole story together and kept me reading when I should have been sleeping.

The Waterfall Traveler Blog Tour

The Waterfall Traveler book coverThe Waterfall Traveler by S.J. Lem

When Ri ventures out into the forest to find some food for her adoptive father, she never imagines that she will be saved by a charming boy and swept up in a battle against an evil that threatens humanity. Filled with adventure, drama, provocative characters and fantasy lore, The Waterfall Traveler is the tale of a girl willing to risk it all to save those she cares about. This novel is a good fantasy read. It moves along at an expeditious pace with an original story and satisfying ending. The writing is above average with descriptive scenery and good word selection. If anything was lacking, I wanted more character growth from the main protagonist, Ri. At times, she felt a little wishy-washy and I think she should have been learning more from the admittedly extraordinary situations she into which she was continually thrust.

*Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of this novel with a request for an honest review.*

You can enter to win a signed copy of this book here or purchase a copy here.

Book Review – The World According to Star Wars

The World According to Star Wars book coverThe World According to Star Wars by Cass R. Sunstein

Is there anything more culturally central than Star Wars? Sunstein examines Star Wars as lessons into everything from rebellions and religion to fathers and constitutional law. He also explains why Star Wars is so universal and enduring. He argues that Star Wars, while also benefiting from good timing and some luck, became hugely popular because it is ultimately a story about freedom of choice and making the right decisions. Well-written and supremely interesting, The World According to Star Wars is an accessible and enjoyable look into, let’s face it, a rather nerdy topic. The book keeps a steady pace and is surprisingly informative but still light enough not to get bogged down in complex analysis. Sunstein claims that the book is written for everyone, even those people who don’t like Star Wars (really, who are you people?) but since I’m very far from that demographic, I can’t comment on how enjoyable it would be for them. I can say that I recommend this charming and educational delve into the Star Wars universe.

Book Review – Dead White Guys

Dead White Guys book coverDead White Guys: A Father, His Daughter and the Great Books of the Western World by Matt Burriesci

Matt Burriesci takes the “great books of the Western World,” everything from Plutarch and Aristotle to Shakespeare, John Locke and Karl Marx, and distills them down into short lessons for his daughter. Each chapter focuses on a different lesson and Burriesci connects these classic works to modern times through what amounts to a literary lecture and usually contains some anecdote from Burriesci’s life. The book, meant for his daughter to read when she turns eighteen, succeeds in making the “dead white guys” feel relevant to today’s society, but I felt there was something lacking. I appreciated the laid back tone of a father writing to his daughter but I wanted more analysis or discussion of the literature.

Book Review – Chasing Polaris

Chasing Polaris book coverChasing Polaris by Erica Cope and Autumn Doughton

Imogen Shaw is leaving Florida for college in Boston in 34 hours and she’s more than ready. But, she’s not ready for Seth Cavanaugh. When Seth and Imogen are thrown together for a one-night scavenger hunt, both of them will find what they are missing and will have to take a chance on each other. I liked this YA novel but it was not anything new or unique. The writing is very competent and the story, while predictable, kept my attention. I liked the scavenger hunt and the rapport between the main characters is believable and mostly natural. All in all, a fun, easy read.

Book Review – The Girl from Everywhere

The Girl from Everywhere book coverThe Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Nix has spent her sixteen years sailing with her father on his ship, The Temptation. She has been across the globe and through the centuries. Her father can sail to any time and place if he has a map from that period. But he has spent Nix’s lifetime looking for one specific map. One that will take him back to Honolulu in 1868; back to before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix has been helping her father obtain various versions of the map even though it could erase her entire existence as she knows it. The premise of The Girl from Everywhere intrigued me right from the start. This book is incredibly creative mixing the time travel with adventure, a modern sensibility with fantasy, and nineteenth-century Hawaiian politics with mythological stories. I found Heidi Heilig’s ability to blend many different themes from addiction to fate to the inevitable love triangle of a YA novel into a cohesive story to be impressive. Her character development is also top-notch. Overall, this novel was refreshing.

Book Review – Attachments

Attachments book coverAttachments by Rainbow Rowell

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that someone monitors their work email (it’s company policy) but that has not stopped them from sending each other endless personal emails. Lincoln O’Neill is the man whose job it is to read those flagged emails and yet he cannot bring himself to send these two funny, smart women warnings. To make things more complicated, he begins to fall for Beth through the emails. How do you tell a woman “Hi, I’m the guy who reads your email, and also, I love you…” Told mostly through Lincoln’s point-of-view and Beth and Jennifer’s email exchanges, Attachments, is delightful. Lincoln is a refreshing protagonist. He’s flawed but also unique and adorable. His authentic insecurities and problems make him relatable and encourage the reader to root for him. Being Rainbow Rowell’s first novel, it is not as fully nerdy as Fangirl or as deeply emotional as Eleanor & Park but do not let that stop you from enjoying the lighthearted fun of this book.

Book Review – The War on Science

The War on Science book coverThe War on Science: Who’s Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It by Shawn Otto

Science is knowledge and knowledge is power and power is political. Otto draws a direct line from science to democracy. He deftly argues that they need each other to survive. Democracy requires an informed electorate and science needs an open, free society. But the United States is now deeply embroiled in a war on facts and science. Otto describes the history of how we have transformed from a nation where the founding fathers revered science to a place where many falsely believe that science is subjective and the source of problems rather than a search for truth. This book is well-written and thoroughly researched. Otto provides detailed explanations and examples for his assertions. He also ends the book with an incredibly complete, multi-pronged plan to combat the current war on science. I not only recommend this book but heartily encourage anyone who can vote to read it. The fate of our democracy is at stake. “If knowledge does not have primacy in public decision making, then no truth can be said to be self-evident, and we are left with tyranny of ideology, with shots called by the wealthy and enforced by might.”

Book Review – Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here book coverWish You Were Here: The Official Biography of Douglas Adams by Nick Webb

While this biography is tedious to read, it is clear that the subject matter is worth the effort. Douglas Adams was a unique talent. He was a technophile, incredibly creative, and full of life. Yet, he was also difficult to live with, egocentric, and a perfectionist. Mostly, he was gone too soon.

“He loved philosophical ideas, and had a natural grasp of them, but he knew that plonking them unadorned into the text would induce instant tedium followed by the heterodyne squeal of a million radios being retuned…Douglas’s genius was to sneak them into the reader’s brain camouflaged as a series of extremely good jokes. It is this serious underpinning of dazzling notions and intellect that made Hitchhiker’s so extraordinary.”

Author Nick Webb brings Adams to life while seemingly trying to emulate Adams’ irreverent writing style. But Douglas Adams he is not and the book ends up being too long and meandering with only flashes of Adamsesque flair. Still, I enjoyed learning more about the author that brought us the answer to life, the universe, and everything.