Newest Reviews

 

Books are reviewed on a 4-Star system

See Drop Down menu for previously reviewed books.

New Books reviewed since last update          
Title Author Type Rating Description Date Reviewed
Startup Nation Dan Senor and Saul Singer Non-Fiction **** (Bradley) Dan Señor and Saul Singer provide an in-depth look at why Israel,  a nation of 7.1 million mostly immigrants, surrounded by sworn enemies who refuse to trade with them, and no natural resources lead the world in many areas of business development.  This is a fascinating book that provides lots of great business insights and some wonderfully fascinating statistics. While the authors do not prove their premise in a scientific fashion, they do an outstanding job of pulling together some wonderful theories as to why the Israeli economy has successfully been able to overcome 7 wars since its founding and still continues to perform in such a hostile environment.    2014-04
The Eighty Dollar Champion Elizabeth Letts Non-Fiction **** Along the lines of Sea Biscuit, this book recounts the story of Snowman, a horse literally rescued from a slaughterhouse truck and taken home to become a school horse for teaching students at a girls school. When Snowman is sold to a neighbor, he keeps turning up back “home”, despite a series of high fences between properties. When it becomes clear that Snowman is jumping these fences on his own, he begins training as a show jumper and soon captures the heart of the nation. Snowman was a champion jumper in the late 1950’s, a little before my time, but I remember him as a legend during my equestrian days and many of the characters in the book who make up the US Equestrian Team were my childhood idols. I truly enjoyed the details of the story.  2014-04
Into the Light  Dave & Jaja Martin Non-Fiction *** (Bradley) As a sailor and adventurer, I enjoyed Dave & Jaja’s exploits.  It is a well written and fun book to read, especially for anyone interested in northern latitude sailing.  It also provides those who do not seek adventure offshore, an accurate look at some of the challenges faced.   Yes, their boat may have been a little on the small side and less complex to operate than the average ocean cruising boat, but we have met people who crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific on even a smaller boat with a 3 to 6 year old.  I can also say, that while some people might unfairly be critical because they did all of this with 3 children, I have yet to meet any boat children who are not light years ahead of their peers in intelligence, maturity and personality, while still being children appropriate to their age.   My only criticism is that in this day and age, there were not a few more pictures or at least a valid link to current website.  This book is worth your time to read if you enjoy real life adventure. 2014-04
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Rebecca Skloot   Non-Fiction *** A well research and detailed account of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black woman whose cervical cancer cells were the first human cells to be successfully grown in a laboratory and subsequently revolutionized medical research. It is also a sad story of Henrietta’s family, who were never told the truth about the cells and the lack or privacy and regulation over patients rights during that time. The book is a bit tedious at times, but overall a very well done story.  2014-04
The Sandcastle Girls Chris Bohjalian Historical Fiction *** Beautifully written historical fiction novel covering the story of several people in Armenia during the genocide in 1915 and the granddaughter of two of those people who knew little of the events of that time until she began researching her family history. Somewhat autobiographical, this is an engaging story set in a very real and brutal time. Well worth a read.  2014-04
Dressed for Death Donna Leon Fiction *** Set in Italy, a detective is assigned to investigate the death of a transvestite. Refusing to believe the obvious conclusions, he becomes obsessed with finding the truth. A nice change from the standard US murder mystery as this introduces a different culture but with some great characters.  2014-04
The Last Refuge  Chris Knopf Fiction *** A reclusive and cynical resident of a small town is thrust into an investigation when his neighbor dies and he assumes responsibility for administering her estate. Good characters and well told story. An enjoyable read.  2014-04
 Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight Alexandra Fuller Non-Fiction ** Author’s memoir of growing up white in Africa during turbulent times. Colorful and interesting, the book focuses mostly on personal issues and tragedies within a somewhat eccentric family with the historical events of the times in the background. Personally I would have enjoyed the historical events to be in the forefront, but otherwise enjoyed the book.  2014-04
Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness Eric Metaxas Non-Fiction ** Eric Metaxas approaches his topic with such a personal agenda and religious bias, that I felt he was unable to objectively define what makes great men.  He elected to write 7 short Bios’ on George Washington, William Wilberforce Jackie Robinson, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Eric Liddell, Pope John Paul II and Charles Colson.  While I will grant him the first three, and stand on the fence regarding Bonhoeffer, the last three do not qualify as great men.  They may have done a great deed or two, but they certainly did not lead an exemplary life. Part of my issue with his selection process is Eric’s putting on a pedestal those men who were able to recruit new believers in his religion.  While I gladly accept anyone’s personal belief structure, I feel this need by most of the worlds major religions to continue to prove themselves by actively and sometimes force ably recruiting new converts is one of the fundamental problems the world faces today. In addition I felt Eric missed several men who had a far greater positive impact on the world than Colson, Pope Paul II, Liddell and Bonhoeffer. What about Sam Adams, Benjamin Franklin,  Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Winston Churchill; just to name a few of the more obvious candidates.     2014-04
Killer Jonathan Kellerman Fiction ** I love Kellerman and his Alex Delaware series but this one just didn’t do it for me. A fairly obvious perpetrator with a pretty unbelievable (silly) motive overcomes the characters and otherwise good writing. 2014-04
           
Previously reviewed books          
Title Author Type Rating Description Date Reviewed
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness Susannah Cahalan Non-Fiction **** The author, a journalist, with no history of mental illness, suddenly begins displaying serious behavior changes, including paranoia and amnesia, along with physical deterioration. The cause,finally diagnosed as Anti-NMDA-Receptor Autoimmune Encephalitis, is an autoimmune disease rather than a mental illness. After a long recovery, of which the author has little memory, she pieces together the story, which is both fascinating and terrifying.  2013-12
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth Reza Aslan Non-Fiction **** Written by a religious scholar, this book focuses on Jesus the man and the historical time in which he lived. It neither attempts to confirm or deny whether Jesus is the son of God; rather it provides a look at the politics and environment during his lifetime and explains much about how and why stories in the bible were contracted the way they were. I found it a fascinating book, revealing much about the times that I did not know.  2013-12
A First Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness  Nassir Hhaemi Non-Fiction *** The author, a psychiatrist, theorizes that sane or mentally healthy individuals do not function as leaders in times of crisis as well as individuals with a history of depression or bipolar disorder. He uses a number of examples, including Lincoln, Sherman, JFK, FDR, Churchill and others. His premise is that these men, who all suffered some form of mental illness, developed certain traits such as empathy and resilience, which enhanced their ability to provide leadership during times of crisis. While it is a fascinating book and the author makes a good case, I’m not sure I completely buy into the conclusions. There are likely hundreds of other examples 2013-12
And the Mountains Echoed Khaled Hosseini Fiction *** From the author of the Kite Runner, this is another wonderful novel set in Afghanistan. This one centers around love, family, and difficult choices. Though there is little violence or mention of war, the novel is gripping and moves along at a good pace. Beginning with a bit of folklore about a man forced to give up one of his children to an ogre, the story continues with a poor family forced to make difficult decisions.  2013-12
Me Before You Jojo Moyes Fiction *** A waitress finds herself unemployed and is convinced to take a job caring for a young quadriplegic man injured in an accident. Initially not liking one another, they evolve to a deep friendship and help each other to grow and change in many ways. A book about humanity and personal growth it also focuses on the rights of individuals to make their own choices about how and when to exit with dignity. A very good book. 2013-12
The Cuckoo’s Calling Robert Gabraith (aka JK Rowling) Fiction *** A down and out private investigator is engaged to look into a supposed suicide. His assistant ,by way of a temp agency, turns out to have a knack for the business. An interesting and entertaining book, though a bit long in parts. This was clearly meant to test the waters for a new series – I would read more if there is are sequels.  2013-12
The Gods of Guilt Michael Connelley Fiction *** Another in the Lincoln Lawyer series, Mickey Haller is again defending a client accused of murder. The victim is also a former client and Haller works to untangle a web o f past and present deceit. He races against time to convince the jury – the Gods of Guilt – that his client is innocent.  2013-12
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle   Fiction *** A wide ranging novel, this story focuses on an average Japanese man whose wife leaves him. In the process of searching for her and evaluating his life, he meets a variety of interesting characters, including a mysterious teenage girl, veterans of WWI who provide great and sometimes gory details of events of the war, and a pair of pseudo-supernatural sisters who have unusual powers. An international best-seller, this is a pleasant change from the average English language novel. Though I would have preferred it to be a bit shorter and to have a more neatly packaged ending/conclusion, I found it very entertaining and enjoyable. 2013-12
Inferno Dan Brown Fiction ** Robert Langdon, hero of the DaVinci Code, races to piece together a mystery based on Dante’s Inferno. At times the book seems more of an art history lecture than a thriller but it has its good points. A bit disappointing at the end, but a good read.  2013-12
King and Maxwell David Baldacci Fiction ** Former Secret Service agents King and Maxwell take on a young client whose father has disappeared following a secret mission in Afghanistan. Working both with and against other agencies, not know who to trust, the pair help to unravel a deadly mystery. A decent read. 2013-12
The Forgotten David Baldacci Fiction ** The second in the John Puller series, the hero. a military investigator, is on leave to recover from events in the last book when he learns his aunt is dead. Riuled an accident. Puller learns from his father that his aunt wrote a letter telling of some strange happenings in the town of Paradise. Puller sets off to investigate and uncovers some very strange things indeed. While there are some holes, its a good book for this genre and a likable and believable hero.  2013-12
Troubleshooter Greg Hurwitz Fiction * I have enjoyed a couple previous books in this series but this one was a bit ridiculous. Former US Marshall Tim Rackley chases a motorcycle gang that murders people left and right (I think over 40 in the course of the book). All other law enforcement are bumbling idiots and Rackley is again the hero.Someone described this book as “cartoonish” and that’s an apt description. I’ll scratch this series off my list. 2013-12
  1. #1 by click here on October 17, 2013 - 10:41 pm

    Everyone would benefit from reading this post

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