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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I picked up this book mostly because I've heard a lot of praise for it. After reading it, I now know why it has received such attention. The plot manages to be incredibly thrilling, frightening, surprising, humorous, clever, and just plain crazy all at once making the reader completely engrossed in the story. I ended up flying through it because I couldn't put it down. It's definitely a recommended read. But be warned that it's very popular - the librarian wasn't surprised to see that "Gone Girl was gone again" when I checked it out.

Reviewer: Jessica

6.13
Goodnight, Nebraska by Tom McNeal

I enjoyed the writing, the setting and the characters of this book.

Reviewer: Nancy Van Camp

7.11
Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams

This is a fun and easy summer read -especially for anyone who has visited Machu Picchu. The author answers all your questions about your trip to Peru- like why the tour guide finally arrived just when you were about to give up hope. Short, fact-filled chapters and lots of humor. Great travel-related book and very timely since Machu Picchu is celebrating the 100th anniversary this year of its "rediscovery" by Yale explorerer Hiriam Bingham.

Reviewer: Gail Rosselot

7.11
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Was a good premise but not well written in some parts. kind of jarring the back and forth between Sarah and the other lead character. The end was odd and should have been cleared up a little more of where people ended up and with who.

Reviewer: Natalie

7.11
The Cage by Ruth Minsky Sender

Kind of unbelievable that it is based on a true story. It's amazing this girl survived the holocaust and was "lucky" in a lot of situations where she could have easily died.

Reviewer: Natalie

7.11
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

I liked the book once you get past the disordered eating. It was chillingly intense and it really made me think about family and control issues in my own life. Unfortunately I had to stop myself a couple times while reading it because it effects eating habits sub-consciously.

Reviewer: Natalie

7.11
Friedrich by Hans Peter Richter

This is a holocaust story but takes a different view on the holocaust and how persuasive the Nazi party was. It was a really good book and very sad.

Reviewer: Natalie

7.11
The Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya

A surreal and often grimly humorous vision of post-apocalyptic Moscow, littered with allusions to classic Russian literature. Tolstaya's absurdist bent renders "The Slynx" more opaque than most other dystopian fables, and after a while, all the linguistic play begins to feel labored. Nonetheless, the narrator -- a mutant manchild with a fetishistic fascination for "oldenprint" books -- has more than enough hapless charm to keep the narrative afloat.

7.11
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

What can you say that's new about GWTW? Well, it was worth a re-read, if only to be surprised by Scarlett. Mitchell makes no bones about how obtuse she is -- Rhett runs circles around her intellectually and emotionally, yet he can't resist her. She is in no way an admirable heroine -- I had forgotten there is little to like about her. But, much like the girl with the dragon tattoo, you always want to see what she does next. Also, when you know the plot so well, you can focus on the historical aspects of the book - especially the siege of Atlanta - which are finely portrayed. It's just plain fun!

Reviewer: Brooke Beebe

9.10
Denial: A Memoir of Terror by Jessica Stern

Jessica Stern, an expert on terrorism and author of Terror in the Name of God and The Ultimate Terrorists, writes in brutally honest detail about her own rape as a 15-year-old in 1973 and its consequences in her latest book, Denial. Itís the story of the author re-visiting the case at the request of a local Concord, Massachusetts police officer in 2006, who suspects that the rapist may still be at large. The ineptness of the police, the subsequent rapes that occurred, and the description of the suspect read like a detective story Ė but itís real, and the most fascinating part is the writer struggling, page by page, to come to grips with what happened to her and dealing with her own denial. A courageous and serious examination of trauma and its consequences.

Reviewer: Brooke Beebe

9.10
Beach Music by Pat Conroy

What I thought would be light summer reading turned out to be one of the best-written books I've read in a long time. The story is about a South Carolinian living in Rome with his daughter after his wife's suicide. His search to understand the events and the people that helped shape his life take him back to South Carolina, where he explores old relationships and how the Holocaust indirectly played a part in his life. The novel, so well-written and intriguing, led me to read all his other works. I look forward to anything else Mr. Conroy writes.

Reviewer: Linda Kaplan

9.10
Too Much Money by Dominick Dunne

This is a roman a clef about high society in comtemporary New York city. It's clever and both cynical and somewhat nasty. Not a bad way to spend a rainy afternoon but also not a work of great depth.

Reviewer: Joan Austin

8.10
Short Stories by Edith Wharton

This Dover edition has seven of Edith Wharton's short stories and they are quite wonderful - both perceptive and witty. I thoroughly enjoyed them. Her modern counterpart would be Louis Auchincloss.

**note: the edition referenced in this review is not available in the Westchester Library system. However, many Edith Wharton short stories are available. The stories in the Dover edition include: Expiation, Dilettante, Muse's Tragedy, The Pelican, Souls Belated, Xingu, and The Other Two.

Reviewer: Joan Austin

8.10
The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto

The island in the title is Manhattan and Russell Shorto tells the often ignored story of the Dutch settlements on the East coast. History is written by the victors and the fact that the English drove the Dutch out of this part of the new world, caused this story to be under rated in importance. Shorto's thesis is that American society of today owes more to the Dutch heritage of tolerance and diversity, rare in the 17th century, than it does to the English. It's well written and eminently readable. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Joan Austin

8.10
The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner

In this book, Tony Wagner takes a hard look at public education in the USA and tries to discern why our students appear to be falling behind students in some other countries in terms of academic achievement and readiness to enter the work place. He's stronger on analyzing the problem than offering any sure fire solutions but perhaps this is inevitable. It's worth reading and thinking about.

Reviewer: Joan Austin

8.10
The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay by Beverly Jensen

This book received a fabulous review in The New York Times. It follows the lives of two sisters who grew up on a "hardscrabble" farm in New Brunswick, Canada. The characters are memorable and believable. I found the earlier portion of the book more interesting than the latter. The author wrote only one book and is now dead. I would have liked to have been able to read other books she wrote.

Reviewer: Joan Austin

8.10
The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

This is the second book in Stieg Larsson's trilogy. It's a real page turner if not quite as good as the first one.

Reviewer: Joan Austin

8.10
Star Island by Carl Hiaasen

Have you ever lived in Florida? Traveled to Florida? Have family in Florida? Well then, you must read any Carl Hiassen book- and certainly his latest that just came out. Star Island is classic Hiassen- a great satiric look at the crazy goings on in our southern most state. All his usual kooky characters are there including Skink (the ex-governor turned roadkill consumer) and his description of South Beach lifestyle and paparazzi ambushes will now be classic…

Reviewer: Gail Rosselot

8.10
The Fever by Sonia Shah

The Fever is a terrific history of malaria for anyone interested in that subject. It is filled with facts and interesting anecdotes about this disease that affects 300+ million per year. If you travel to malaria regions, are involved in health care, or just have an interest in a disease that is as "old as time" it is an easy and interesting read. I think you will be surprised by what you learn!

Reviewer: Gail Rosselot

8.10
Pearl Buck in China by Hilary Spurling

This is an interesting book on two levels. It presents a fascinating portrait of the life and thinking of missionaries in China from about 1880 through the early 1930s. It also explains how Pearl Buck, the daughter of such a missionary used the life she experienced in her writings. It provides a real insight into the creative literary process.

Reviewer: Joan Austin

8.10
Sophie's Choice by William Styron

Excellent book--a new read of an "older" book--with well developed characters and an intriguing plot. If you missed this book, as I had, you will enjoy the depth of writing. The descriptions of historical events that occurred around World War II are riveting. The story of Sophie's survival, her relationships, and her life decisions gives one much to contemplate.

Reviewer: Susan Willner

8.10
Silk Parachute by John McPhee

This is a collection of McPhee's pieces from the New Yorker. It's typical McPhee prose. I enjoyed it although I learned a little more about lacrosse than I really wanted to know.

Reviewer: Joan Austin

8.10
American Pastoral by Philip Roth

Roth won the Pulitzer for this novel. It's the story of a high school hero/athlete who faces the issues of the 1960s when his daugher is involved in a bombing. The story evokes that era beautifully and the characters are memorable. However, for some reason, I found it somewhat tedious.

Reviewer: Joan Austin

8.10
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

This is a wildly popular book and I can see why. It is engrossing in terms of characters and a complex plot. It is undeniably violent in spots; be forewarned. The picture of comtemporary Swedish life is revealing. A good read for summer.

Reviewer: Joan Austin

7.10
Plain Tales from the Hills by Rudyard Kipling

I came upon this volume, published in 1899, in a summer cottage in a remote area of Canada and decided to re-read it on a rainy day. I had read it years ago. Kipling doesn't get much respect these days in part because of his reputation, not alogether undeserved, as an imperialist. None the less, he is a master of the short story form and creates wonderful characters and situations set during the British rule of India. I enjoyed it tremendously.

Reviewer: Joan Austin

7.10
Has Christianity Failed You? by Ravi Zacharias

Zacharias is a Christian apologist with a fundamentalist, evangelican slant. His theology isn't particularly to my taste but it's well thought out. I'ts always worthwhile seeing other peoples' perspectives.

**note: This book is not available in the Westchester Library System.

Reviewer: Joan Austin

7.10
The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens

I find Dickens great for summer reading. The multitude of characters and the complexity of plot make it desirable to have extended periods available for reading and I have this time in the summer. The characters are memorable and the plot, based I believe on Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, interesting.

Reviewer: Joan Austin

7.10
1776 by David McCullough

This is McCullough's account primarily of the miliary events of 1776. Washington is the central figure and the book points out his strengths as a leader and his failures as a general. My admiration for Washington remains strong despite the latter. Very worthwhile book.

Reviewer: Joan Austin

7.10
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

One of the best books I've ever read. Beautifully written and told. An allegory for the struggles we all face in life.

Reviewer: Jacqueline B. Moore

7.10
Burned by Ellen Hopkins

This book was really well written. It was very interesting until the last few pages. If it was up to me i would like a different ending on the book. Other than that it was a fantastic book and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a book they can't put down. Best out of this author's books by my judgement.

Reviewer: Natalie

7.10
Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Not sure why i picked it up. Easy read? - yeah it was but i think it was the cover that caught me. This book was ok. It was interesting but not the best book I've ever read by any means. It does send a good message and give a better understanding of addiction to these types of drugs.

Reviewer: Natalie

7.10
Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy by Sonya Sones

While I don't think it's the best book I've read recently, I would say that it is certainly worth reading. It's well written and steady and it surprises me that it is the author's first book. I'm not so sure that it would be a good book for just any adolescent or adult, however, it was ok. I thought it should have more emotion than it did, but for this author's first book it wasn't terrible.

Reviewer: Natalie

7.10
36 Arguments for the Existence of God by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

This uneven yet ultimately satisfying book is a pungent satire of academia as well as a probing account of one man's search for meaning in the universe. What does Cass Seltzer, professor of psychology and religion at Frankfurter (ie Brandeis) University and author of The Varieties of Religious Illusion, really believe? Is it reason alone, or must there be more? This book will have you working out your answers as well.

Reviewer: Gail R. Sider

7.10
Run Catch Kiss by Amy Sohn

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS I'VE READ!! As much as some of us don't like to admit it, reading about the explicit details of one's sex life (even if they are made up) is interesting. The main character, Ariel Stiener, just happens to earn herself her own weekly column giving details of her actual and made up encounters with men she hardley even knows or just bumped into after knowing them years ago. So she made herself a little money on the side while working as a temp and also captured the attention of thousands of horny readers. How was she supposed to know that she'd turn out to be the woman that people loved and hated in the same token? But when Ariel's sex life starts to burn down and she starts dating Adam seriously, she is forced to fabricate sexual encounters that never or almost happened. What's funny is that when she was caught lying and became the laughing stock of the world of journalists and readers, she just took it with stride and got on with her life. This was a great read. Short, funny, and an attention grabber!

Reviewer: Natalie

7.10
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

It should be required reading by anyone in high school or middle school -- or anyone who has a child in high school or middle school. Basically it tells of Clay Jensen, a high school student who receives a box of audiotapes narrated by a girl who he had a crush on, Hannah Baker, who has recently committed suicide. The book interweaves her words from the audiotapes with his comments and memories. It gives Hannah's reasons why she did what she did and names the people (who also are receiving audiotapes - each person is to mail them to the next person on the list) and why they contributed to what happened. It may have been something big, somewhat small, something seemingly innocent, something not so much. But it all leads up to Hannah not being able to cope by herself even when she reaches out for help. If anyone can read this and see themselves in it and make changes - or even better see someone else and reach out in compassion, this book will have a huge effect.

Reviewer: Natalie

7.10
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

For some reason I thought this would be a continuation of Judy Blume's Forever like the book Just Ella tried to be a continuation of Ella Enchanted by a different author. Anyway to the review - I did not really enjoy this book. I thought it was well written, but I never grew to care about what happened to the characters. All the characters seemed very cookie cutter and I thought it was slow at certain parts. I also wanted a book like Judy Blume's and it just wasn't.

Reviewer: Natalie

7.10
Lost It by Kristen Tracy

Lost It, a book about Tess Whistler and the main happenings in her junior year, is both touching and unoriginal. It seems to fit the typical "coming of age" mold. While the author tries to make it original by adding characters like Tess' grandmother, her somewhat insane parents, and her best friend set on blowing up stuffed animals, the main plot is basically summarized in the first chapter. The book is well-written, just not amazingly original (sexual content - beware, it is about a girl's first time).

Reviewer: Natalie

7.10
Forever by Judy Blume

What a great book, I finished it in a couple of hours. This book cut right to the point of sex. There was no sugar coating what Katherine and Michael were up to. In novels nowadays it seems like sex is put into YA novels, but after reading the book you ask, so did they do anything or not? There is no mistake what went on in Judy Blume's book Forever. She really seems to hit teen relationships head on as well. Katherine and Michael swore they would be together forever and Judy Blume really shows how a teenagers mind works. I remember swearing i would spend the rest of my life with the one i lost it to. A lot of books don't show you the emotional toll sexual experience has on a young person, this was the best portrayal of that, that i have read.

Reviewer: Natalie

7.10
What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones

This book was great but it would have been more believeable if she was a little older. That being said, through Sonya Sones writing, I found parts of me inside of Sophie even if she was 16 years old. As the story progresses, I felt as if I was living through the experiences also. It's mainly because of the format that the book is written in. Sonya Sones tells the mind and feelings of Sophie through direct, bold and honest poems. With so little words she describes the important moments clearly and perfectly but yet the words she chose were also so powerful. You would honestly have to read it yourself to understand what I really mean. I finished this book in no time, because the author really knows how to let me keep flipping onto the next page, wanting to find out what happens next and it is all in short poems. i found it a little less believable also, maybe it was because she is supposed to be young but that she doesn't go further with the boyfriend.

Reviewer: Natalie

7.10
What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones

This is just as good as What My Mother Doesn't Know, if not better. (Don't read this without reading What My Mother Doesn't Know, it'll make sense, but it won't be nearly as good) This book is from Robin/Murphy's point of view. it's a cute book of all "poems", very fast read, can finish in an hour or two. very engrossing.

Reviewer: Natalie

7.10
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

SHUTTER ISLAND is an engrossing, thought-provoking, psychological thriller that cleverly challenges the reader to evaluate the main character's sanity. There are several well-spun storylines weaving the plot into a possible deception of a grand scale. Along with Daniels, the reader also questions what is really happening to him. Readers of SHUTTER ISLAND are immersed in the workings of the mind of Teddy Daniels and must decide what is real and what isn't. It was wonderfully written and played out on the page.

Reviewer: Natalie

7.10
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

This book won the Man Booker Prize for 2009. It is a rich historical novel focused on Thomas Cromwell, a powerful figure in the court of Britain's Henry VIII. Mantel doesn't tell you about life at that time, she shows it to you, largely through dialogue. It's long (650 pages) and I enjoyed every moment of it.

Reviewer: Joan Austen

7.10
A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve

This novel tells the story of a young American couple who spend a year in Kenya in the 1970s. Their two attempts to climb Mt. Kenya explain the title. I enjoyed it but I wouldn't call it a great book. The characters are interesting and the plot absorbing if a little implausible. Anita Shreve usually writes about New England and I think she may be better writing about that area.

Reviewer: Joan Austen

7.10
The March by E.L. Doctorow

Although riveted by one of the author's previous books, "Ragtime," this one was not a compelling read for me. None of the characters were developed enough for me to care about them. They were cogs in the endless, horrible machinery of war, which was described with detached, lucid and precise prose. However, it gave me a picture of Sherman's March, which I knew little about, and intrigued me enough to want to read more books about the Civil War.

Reviewer: Brooke Beebe

7.10
Juliet, Naked by Nick Horby

A great read and very funny. Rock star recluse Tucker Crowe intrigues a small group of passionate internet fans including Duncan, a pedantic obsessive from Gooleness (England). Annie, his partner and the central character, realizes she's wasted 15 years with this jerk, but doesn't know where to go from there. Lives tangle in a somewhat unbelievable way, but I didn't care as I was swept along by the tale. Raised interesting points about love as well as art and what it means to people.

Reviewer: Brooke Beebe

7.10
Troilus and Cressida by Willliam Shakespeare

I'm reading Troilus and Cressida in preparation for seeing it at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival later this summer. It's a strange play. It doesn't really fit into one of the traditional categories - tragedy, commedy, history. It is a bitter bleak portrayal of human nature with a fairly strong anti-war message. Even less Shakespeare is always worth reading!

Reviewer: Joan Austin

7.10
Here if You Need Me by Kate Braestrup

The author is chaplain to search and rescue workers in rural Maine. It's an interesting account of how she seeks to be of service to people working in this field and to the "lost" folks (and their families.) She grapples with the role of religion and spiritual comfort in the quasi public arena. It's also an interesting glimpse into life in this part of the world.

Reviewer: Joan Austin

7.10
The Politics of Deline by Jay Gallagher

The author, Jay Gallagher, died not long ago and that inspired me to read his book. He covered Albany for the Gannet chain for some years and probably knew state government better than anyone. This book, published in 2005, lays bare the disfunctional state government that has plagued us for so long. It's's even worse five years later. I'm tempted to say read it and weep but I won't. Read it and VOTE!

Reviewer: Joan Austin

7.10
Putting Away Childish Things by Marcus Borg

Marcus Borg is a respected theologian of the mainline Protestant variety. He wrote this book to illustrate some of the dilemmas facing people and institutions of this genre. He admits that it is not a great novel, that it is didactic but believes that it raises significant questions. He's right on all points. It's worthwhile if this topic interests you.

Reviewer: Joan Austin

7.10























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Last revised June 4, 2013