Book Reviews Channel

Civil Disobedience – by Henry David Thoreau

Civil Disobedience is an essay that is usually published inside a book that contains other writing by Henry David Thoreau.  The reason is because Civil Disobedience is extremely short.  There’s enough room to put it at the end of Walden.  My copy of Walden was a Barnes & Noble version that included not only Civil disobedience,  but also a timeline of Thoreau’s life, an introduction, and a detailed section that described the meaning behind some of Thoreau’s references that were commonly understood at the time, but mysterious and confusing today.

Civil Disobedience was written in response to real life events that Henry David Thoreau experienced.  In 1846, he traveled through Massachusetts.  His purpose was to go to Concord, to run an errand.  (He needed to got to the cobblers to pick up his shoe that the cobbler repaired).  A man named Sam Staples was the tax collector and warden of the county jail.

Thoreau had been refu...

Read More

Walden – by Henry David Thoreau

Walden is a book that some people are first introduced to when they are forced to read it in school.  I didn’t around to reading it until long after I’d finished school. The book came to me as a prize in a contest that was held during a meeting at work.  It took me years before I got around to actually reading the book.

To me, Walden was a difficult read.  I say this as a person who has dyslexia, and who also has a B.S. degree in Education. Take from that whatever you will.  I recommend that people pick up the Barnes & Noble version of Walden because it has a lot of “extras” in it that helped me to understand the background history of Thoreau and some of the references he mentioned.

The most difficult part of ...

Read More

The Girl Next Door – by Jack Ketchum

I did not enjoy this book. The monsters in it were too real.

I prefer stories where the monsters are imaginary creatures: Ogres, Dementors, Ring Wraths, Demons, and other non-existent beings that you wouldn’t have to worry about bumping into on the bus or working beside at your place of employment. There is some comfort in knowing that the things that happened in a scary book could not possibly happen in real life.

In The Girl Next Door, Jack Ketchum gives us a story about a sociopath that starts out appearing to be as safe and stable as anyone else. Ruth might even be described as “the cool mom”. She drives her sons and their friend to the carnival and frequently offers the boys beers. Readers watch her become less human as she gives in to her worst tendencies.

The c...

Read More

The Year of Loving – by Traci L. Slatton

Sarah Paige’s life is stressful. She has two daughters, and has very strained relationships with both of them. Her youngest, Alex is a high schooler who is constantly in trouble. Her oldest, Dani, is in college and seems to want absolutely nothing to do with her mother.

Sarah believes that her cantankerous, narcissistic, ex-husband, George Calhoun, is intentionally trying to turn their daughters against her. His attitude probably has something to do with Sarah’s second ex-husband, Clifton Perini, whom Sarah left George for. It feels like he wants to “make her pay” for that humiliation.

Clifton, on the other hand, gets along with Sarah. His beautiful, realist, paintings are the centerpiece of her art gallery. Her love of art makes her very selective about what she will display. The modern stuff other galleries sell simply will not do. As such, her gallery is on the edge of grave financial difficulties.

Out of the blue, Sarah accidentally meets a handsome man – in the goofiest “meet cute” I’ve ever read. There is an instant, smoldering, attraction between them. This impromptu moment turns out to be the start of Sarah’s “year of loving”.

The Year of Loving is what I would describe as a romance novel wi...

Read More

My Year in Books – 2016

Goodreads is a social media site for book lovers.  People who use it can opt-in to a yearly challenge called “My Year In Books”.  It is a reading challenge that encourages people to read more books.  Each person gets to choose for themselves how many books they want to have read by the end of the year.

I like that this challenge is individuated.  You pick your own goal.  You spend the year competing against yourself to complete that goal.  One of these years, I hope to be able to successfully complete the challenge.

The first t...

Read More

Things That Never Were – by Matthew Rossi

One of the things I love about books is that they are an excellent place to escape to when the real world seems dark and dire.  In Things That Never Were, Matthew Rossi gives the reader plenty of interesting, incredibly detailed, glimpses into what the world might have been like if you take what we know of history, twist it around, and see where it goes from there.

The full title of the book is: Things That Never Were: Fantasies – Lunacies –  & Entertaining Lies.  I like to think of it as a series of essays that could be described as “intelligent conspiracy theory”.  That being said, Rossi is not really trying to convince you that the essays in this book are factual (and this is where he differs greatly from actual conspiracy theorists).  These are “things that never were”, after all.   ….Right?

It took me a long time to read through Things...

Read More

Blood Sky – by Traci L. Slatton

Blood Sky is the fourth part of The After Series.  I highly recommend that you read the first three books: Fallen, Cold Lightand Far Shore.  You will get much more out of Blood Sky if you take the time to read through the earlier portions of the story first.  Relationships are made, and broken, and sometimes repaired along the way.

Traci L. Slatton does a good job of reminding readers about the most significant things that happened in the previous books.  This is not meant as a replacement for reading them, though.  It is important that you “live through that” with the characters before jumping into the fourth book of the series.  One of the things I love about Slatton’s books is that she makes the reader truly care about what happens to the characters (both major and minor).

In Blood Sky, t...

Read More

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Camille Preaker works for a daily paper in Chicago that can be described as “second-rate”.  Her editor, Frank Curry (who is also a friend in a parental kind of way) sends Camille on her very first assignment.

A murder happened in Wind Gap, Camille’s hometown.  This wasn’t news, as the murder happened long enough ago to have already passed through the news cycle.  A pre-teen girl was found dead in a creek with a rope around her neck and all of her teeth missing.  Now, another pre-teen girl has disappeared.

Editor Frank Curry sends Camille back to Wind Gap, where she is expected to stay with her mother, as she investigates what happened.  Just the thought of returning home puts Camille’s mind back into unhealthy places.  She is freshly out of a stay in a psychological hospital, and it is clear from the start that returning to Wind Gap is going to do bad things to Camille’s mental health.

Sharp Objects is the perfect name fo...

Read More

Ms. Marvel #3 – Super Famous (Part 3)

Ms. Marvel #3- Super Famous is the third part of a three part story.  You should go read part 1 and part 2 before reading this one.  This issue was published in March of 2016.

It’s hard to write about the third part of any trilogy without giving away too much.  I will say that the story line comes to a nice conclusion while leaving some things open just enough to perhaps be developed in future issues.

In this issue, Ms. Marvel gets to beat up some bad guys by using her superpowers.  One important part of this story is that Ms. Marvel ends up working with her best friend Bruno’s new girlfriend, Mike, on something very important.  Mike, like everyone else in Jersey City, knows who Ms. Marvel is – but she doesn’t have any idea that Ms. Marvel is Kamala Khan...

Read More

Ms. Marvel #2 – Super Famous (Part 2)

Ms. Marvel #2 – Super Famous – is the second part of a three part story.  It was published in February of 2016.  You should read #1 before reading #2.

In this issue, Ms. Marvel returns to the office of the Hope Yards Development and Relocation Association for the purpose of doing some more investigating. Everything looks normal, until she finds some strange goo in a mini fridge.  That goo turns out to be a key part of the story.

In addition, Kamala Kahn is still struggling with social problems. She’s remained friends with Bruno (but absolutely does not want to meet his new girlfriend).  Her mother wants her to stop being Ms. Marvel now that a group is protesting the super hero...

Read More