Staff Reviews

 

 

 

“Give me a room whose every nook is dedicated to a book.”

 

Breaking Wild

By Diane Les Becquets (Penguin Random House)

Amy Rae a distinguished bow hunter goes on a hunting trip one winter.  She is scouting an elk, find its, shoots it but the elk does not die.  She follows the tracks of this elk to kill it but becomes completely lost.  Pru Hathaway, a law enforcement deputy’s job is to find Amy.  She and her dog spend months searching clues, scant as they are, to find Amy. When all gives up, Pru cannot as she believes Amy is woods-smart and will survive.  Told in alternating voices, this book keeps the reader guessing right to the end.  Set in NW Colorado, one of this book’s characters is the terrain of the area. 


 

Celine

By Peter Heller (Penguin Random House)

Peter, a master storyteller and elegant writer, has written a marvelous story about an older PI, Celine who reunites family members.  Gabriela is looking for her dad who disappeared and was pronounced dead many years ago.  His body was never found and was presumed to have been eaten by a bear in Yellowstone National Park.  Celine and her husband Pete, borrow their son’s run-down camper and go on a journey through gorgeous countryside, meeting up with all sorts of funny, dangerous and unique characters on their search for Gabriela’s dad.  Celine reminded me of the wit of Sherlock Holmes.  Peter’s writing style is one which flows.  I felt as if I were traveling the back roads of Wyoming along with Celine and Peter.  Another great novel by this amazing author.


 

News of the World

By Paulette Jiles (Harper Collins Publishing)

Want a story with little violence, no sex and realistic characters, then this book is for you. Captain Kidd is bringing a young girl back to her family after being rescued from a Kiowa tribe who kidnapped her 4 years earlier.  Captain Kidd is a reader of news.  As he travels from Wichita Falls to just west of San Antonio, he stops at small towns to read from newspapers for 10 cents admission.  He and “JoHanna learn to trust each other as the journey lengthens.  The story of this friendship, the journey itself and the land make for an amazing read.


 

The Lucky Hat Mine

By J.v.L. Bell (Hansen Publishing Group)

Local author J.v.L. Bell has written a well-researched historical mystery fiction novel that takes place in the late 1800s in the Colorado Territory. Millie Virginia answers a wife-wanted ad and survives the perilous journey across the Great Plains to the mining town of Idaho Springs, only to find her intended husband in a pine box. Will she stay in this foreign territory where someone is trying to kill her as well? Will she try to solve her fiancé’s murder? Who can she trust in this mining town? Bell has left us hungry for more, so we’re hopeful it will become a series of books since we are attached to the characters and want to know more. It’s also a great read for book clubs and contains book club questions and topics for discussion at the back of the book.


 

The Virus

By Janelle Diller (Worldtrek Publishing)

I just finished this novel written by a local author.  The plot is set in Colorado, Nebraska and California but involves the whole country.  Smallpox has killed a prisoner in a Colorado prison and the government has developed a new vaccine requiring all residents of the country to receive.  Is it a vaccine?  Follow Maggie and her husband Eddie as they try to solve this epidemic or perhaps stop the government from nasty actions.  I could hardly put this book down.


 

Boys in the Boat

by James Daniel Brown (Penguin Putnam)

This non-fiction title grabbed me from the onset.  Set in Washington State and in Berlin, Germany, one learns about a crew team from University of Washington during the years up to and including the 1936 Olympics.  I enjoyed learning about the building of the shell of the crew boat, the coaches but particularly about the young men who gave their all to win the Olympic Gold Medal at the “showcase” Olympics of Hitler’s Berlin. 


 

 All the Bright Places

by Jennifer Niven (Random House)

This young adult book follows two teenagers, Finn and Violet who meet on the ledge of a water tower both thinking of jumping.  Finn falls in love with Violet a popular girl who has had a tragedy in her life.  These two teens have so many emotions that will tear your heart apart but yet there is plenty of laughter to be had as the reader devours this novel.  Finn, a loveable but mentally ill boy and Violet a girl scarred from an accident.  I could not wait for each evening to come so I could read this tale of young love.


 

The Shock of the Fall

By Nathan Filer (Macmillan)

This is a story of Matt, a schizophrenic and his brother, Simon.  The novel is written partly during Matt’s time in an institution with flash backs to his younger life.  Very raw in the jumbled journal entries. 


The Orphans of Race Point

By Patry Francis (Harper Collins)

Set on Cape Cod, this  is a story  of three friends and their “friendship” over the decades.  Gus witnessed his mother’s brutal abuse and killing; Neil his best friend and Hallie the town’s doctor’s daughter’s lives are, also, affected by this brutal murder.  Full of tragedy but also deep love.  I could feel the abracos given by these friends during their trials and joyful moments. 


 

 Badluck Way

by Bryce Andrews (Simon & Schuster)

A memoir, a love story of the west,  a discussion on eco-agriculture, a love of wolves.  This story of Bryce’s year on the Sun Ranch in Montana has it all but mostly it has heart.  Bryce is hired on to help ranch the cattle for a season.  He describes the hard, back-breaking work of mending fences, laying down salt licks, keeping the cattle safe.  Bryce is enthralled with the idea of domestic animals co-existing with wild and has faith that he and his co-workers can keep the wolves from killing the stock.  This is rugged land owned by a man with much wealth but nature rules the land.  I felt I was mending fences, bleeding on my jeans while doing it right along with Bryce.


The Cellist of Sarajevo

by Steven Galloway ( Penguin Putnam)

Steven Galloway has written a very powerful first novel.  Set in Sarajevo during the four year siege and based on a true story, Steven puts the reader right in the middle of the conflict.  The reader follows four citizens in this battered city.  Emotions of anger, futility, desperation and love shine through the pages.  The generality of the story creates great discussion on war in general and one’s response to danger.  This book moved me as deeply as did Kevin Powers The Yellow Birds.


The Here and Now

by Ann Brashares (Random House)

I do not read a lot of time travel so cannot compare my experience but I did enjoy the trials Prenna, a 17-year old experiences as she tries to lead a “normal” life while following the “rules” of her immigrated society.  I loved Prenna and her struggles along with Ethan, the boy who falls in love with her.


 Benediction

by Kent Haruf (Random House)

Kent has delivered another masterpiece of the eastern plains of Colorado.  Kent returns to the fictional town of Holt.  Dad Lewis is dying of cancer.  He is well-known in the town.  Kent develops his characters so deeply and fully that one is saddened by completely this novel.  A much more somber book from Plainsong but the reader comes to love and honor Kent’s display of fine literature.


 The Mirrored World

by Debra Dean (Harper Perennial)

Debra has written another period piece set in Russia during the 1700s.  Xenia, a lower class nobility, is the center of this story.  An exhuberant young woman, she falls in love with Andrei, an imperial choir member.  Tragedy strikes and Xenia becomes morose and then becomes, what some people would call, a saint.   This is, also, the story of the narrator, Dasha, Xenia’s cousin and her life in the shadows of Xenia.  Descriptions of the imperial life of Catherine and the lives of the poorest citizens make for a vivid read.


The End of Your Life Book Club

by Will Schwalbe (Random House)

Will and his dying mother have almost two years to read books together.  The book club formed during Mary Ann’s chemotherapy sessions and continued up until the day she died.  Mary Ann was an amazing woman but Will’s compassion and love shines right along with her personality.  The list of books and comments from each of them were very enlightening.  I special ordered one of the titles immediately upon reading the segment in this book.  Touching, insipiring and lovely.


 Legends Lost

by Charlie Mac (Filter Press)

What if Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid did not die in Bolivia?  This debut novel by a local author ponders this question.  From Bolivia to Colorado and New York and Oregon, this adventure-packed story brings these two western figures back to life.  Butch and Sundance have married and become upstanding citizens in America but are in possession of a journal which could incriminate various well-known and rich families.  This is a story of the pursuit of this journal by these families.


A Good American

by Alex George (Amy Einhorn Books)

I picked this book up and emerged three days later!  This is a story of one family through two generations. An old-fashioned epic of immigrants landing in New Orleans in 1904 and settling into a life in Beatrice, Missouri.  This is a story told by Jette and Frederick’s grandson, James.  There are people to love, to hate, to questions but throughout the story, one can feel the love of America and of family.  Alex George, a naturalized citizen captures the wonder of the immigrant experience.


Remarkable Creatures

by Tracy Chevalier (Penguin Putnam)

Set in the 1800s in SW England, Tracy captures the time perfectly.  Mary and Elizabeth, women of different social status, become friends.  Mary, a poor lower class citizen of Lime Regis, has a gift for finding fossils.  Elizabeth, a transplant from London’s higher society quickly becomes addicted to fossil hunting.  These two women’s lives are portrayed in alternating chapters.  Themes of gender and social discrimination are well told as is the questions of extinction, evolution and religion.  Well-written historical fiction.


Left Neglected

by Lisa Genova (Simon & Schuster)

Lisa’s newest book after Still Alice is as well-written and informative.  A 30-year old woman has a severe accident leaving her with a neurological condition known as Left Neglect which leaves the woman without any knowledge of the left side of her body.  This book was totally engrossing and eye-opening.