Sunday, August 16, 2015

Summer reading update

Schiottz-Jensen, Niels Frederik. Lady Reading in the Garden1894. 
WikimediaCommons. Painting.15 August 2015.

by Alida Hanson

A quick update on what your steadfast librarian has been reading this summer. July was glorious, spent reading the first three volumes of My Struggle by Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard. My Struggle sounds ominous, but it's funny, thoughtful, and utterly sincere.

Since then I've decided to concentrate on nonfiction. Factory Girls by Leslie T. Chang was a highlight. Expecting a description of horrible working conditions and exploited women, I was surprised to meet young women who, just like me at that age, want to be independent and are motivated to work for it. I highly recommend it.

If you're interested finding out about what I've been reading see my reviews below. I'm getting most of my reading these days from our excellent Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners collection. I haven't encountered a dud yet. This collection has a permanent display in the library, and we have lots of audio and ebooks that you can access from home if you don't get a chance to stop by and get a book during the school day.

Happy last few weeks of summer. There's still time left for a book or two.

I can't wait to see you in September!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

by Alida Hanson

Jam's first boyfriend dies, sending her into an emotional tailspin. Her parents enroll her in a therapeutic boarding school (no, it's not called Belzhar) to stabilize. She is chosen to be in the legendary English: Special Topics class where they read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and complete a nightly journaling assignment.

The students, each victims of trauma that led them to the school, start to form relationships based on experiences they have during journaling. I won't spoil it, but plot twists make Belzhar a satisfying read.

Meg Wolitzer is a pro. She knows how to write a compelling, artful story. This is hypercritical, but it was a tad too polished for me--I felt manipulated. I read The Interestings this year and felt the same way--like I was in the hands of a master who knows how to anticipate what her audience wants and gives it to them. I haven't gotten any feedback from students yet on this one. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

by Alida Hanson

Travis enlisted in the Marines right after graduation and is serving in Afghanistan. His ex-football pro father is a jerk. His little brother is on a perpetual free ride. His mother frantically tries to keep everything together. And his "girlfriend" just broke up with him--for his little brother. Basically almost everyone in his "home" life is not emotionally available to him--or anyone else. He can't depend on them like his comrades in Afghanistan.

Now he's home on leave in Ft. Meyers, FL, for a few weeks to "pull himself together" as his superior advises--because he watched his best friend get killed in Afghanistan. Good luck with that, Travis!

But the amazing thing is, Travis does it. He lets go of hurtful people and accepts healthy people into his life. There is no magically beautiful ending to this story, but you get the sense that Travis is making the right choices and listening to the right people. The Florida setting is evocative and a major part of the book. The romance between Travis and Harper is healing and realistic.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Your Face in Mine by Jess Row

by Alida Hanson

A unique, challenging novel about race identity. Kelly Thorndike is born white and lives in Baltimore as a teen. He studies Chinese in college, goes to China, marries a Chinese woman, and has a baby. He meets a black man on the street in Baltimore who turns out to be his old band mate from high school, Martin.

When Kelly and Martin played in the band together, Martin was white. He has undergone race reassignment surgery, a practice he has developed with a surgeon in Thailand, and is launching as an international company. He's trying to brand the process and introduce it to the world. He hires Kelly to write a think piece for a national publication about himself and his company.

Your Face in Mine has two sides to it. The first is a thoughtful exploration of race and race identity, and what make us who we are. The second is a fast paced, cerebral and science-fiction-y caper that I had trouble following. It reminded me sometimes of Philip K. Dick and J.G. Ballard, two of my all time favorite authors.

I'm glad I read it, and I think it's important. I suppose I would have to read it again to get all the nuances in the solipsistic conversations of the characters.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

by Alida Hanson

Terry Pratchett has written 40 famous novels set in the mythical kingdom of Discworld, and is one of the best loved English language writers of the 20th and 21st centuries. So, it was silly that I had never read anything of his. I chose <i>Small Gods</i> on the recommendation of Mr. Gacs. And I am so glad I did! It's a hilarious book, kind of Monty Python-esque, about what happens in religion and the competitive ordeal gods have to endure to achieve and keep worshippers.

We learn about this through a downtrodden turtle and a dimwitted monk-novice who turns out to be a prophet. If you want to read something that treats big ideas with a fantastic sense of humor coming from a truly happy place, look no further than <i>Small Gods</i>--and probably every other one of Pratchett's 40-odd novels!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

by Alida Hanson

The kingdom of Lumatere is destroyed by enemies and all inhabitants are exiled, hiding, or murdered. Finnikin, the son of the chief of the king's guard, roams with his mentor Sir Topher, trying to find friends, family, and royalty to restore their kingdom. At one point, a silent young nun joins their band.

I won't tell you much more except that Marchetta is a convincing world-builder, and Finnikin is a sympathetic, vital character whom I enjoyed getting to know. I'm not a huge fantasy reader, but I was compelled to finish this book in one sitting (granted, I was on a plane ;)). The book has some satisfying twists, and has a glorious Lord of the Rings feel to it.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Persepolis II by Marjane Satrapi

by Nick Khavandgar

Persepolis II
, the sequel to Persepolis, a graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi, tells the tale of her childhood in revolutionary Iran and follows the beginning of her new life in Europe. The reader goes along with Marjane throughout her experiences and watches her change, grow and develop. From going to a shy and introverted girl to a crazy teenager, to eventually a wife, the reader feels as if they know Marjane personally by being there every step of the way. 

High school students in particular can get a lot out of this book because watching Marjane mature in age but not necessarily in terms of her attitude can serve as a lesson to kids who are starting to think about the life they want to live and who they want to be. Marjane makes some rash decisions for the sake of feeling self-sufficient, so the reader can learn from this before they make some of the same mistakes that she did. After all, she is just a kid going through life's journey, and in this sense the reader is easily able to identify with her.

Dr. Franklin's Island by Ann Halam

by Benton McCanne

The story takes place with 50 or so teenagers on a plane. They are there because each of them has won an environmental science award. The plane they are on crashes and there are only 3 survivors: Semi, Arnie, and Miranda. They seek safety on a nearby island. They think they are alone on the island, and don’t know what secrets it has. 

This story is a great for anyone who is looking for a quick, science fiction book. It is really easy to read, and really easy to follow. The book is 251 pages long, so it shouldn’t take too long to read. It was one of my favorite books that I have read in high school, I hope all of you get the chance to read it!

Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement

by Anna Rolde

Prayers for the Stolen
by Jennifer Clement was interesting. The book is relatively short and engaging all the way through. It touches on important issues that are, sadly, relevant today, and presents them realistically to readers in a poetic, melancholy way. The novel takes place in the mountains of Guerrero, Mexico and covers societal dilemmas such as human and sex trafficking, poverty, immigration, religion, and gender issues and expectations. The subject matter in these pages are heavy and serious, but Clement delivers them to us in a natural, meaningful, and truthful way. 

From the very first sentence I was drawn into this book. It begins with our main character and narrator, a young girl named Ladydi, being made to look like a boy by her mother to avoid being captured by human traffickers. This is a theme in the novel introduced immediately, and the reader is reminded of it almost constantly; almost infamously, there are no girls on this mountain. Everyone is a boy until they can no longer hide it. 

In terms of the writing style that Clement uses, it is a matter of opinion whether or not a reader will take to it. There are no quotation marks around the dialogue; sentences are interspersed throughout the paragraphs. This technique, although I am not often a huge fan of it, worked well. Because Ladydi is a child in this book, it seemed accurate in portraying her voice as a narrator. This way of speaking in a stream of thought and dialogue gave the writing personality and made the words flow poetically throughout. This style made it easy and enjoyable to read. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I would definitely recommend it to someone if they could deal with reading about dark, graphic issues. Prayers for the Stolen, although fiction, captures the very real experiences of people today, and brings awareness to them powerfully and elegantly.

Nothing by Janne Teller

by Shalini Sreedhar

Nothing, translated from Danish, is a very dark novel. The main characters are seventh graders who go through a disturbing path in trying to prove that life has meaning. Although the characters are young, it becomes clear within the first couple chapters that this is not a book meant for children because of the slightly morbid themes.

The novel is also philosophical, and requires you to consider different sides of arguments about meaning. It will definitely make you think about meaning in your own perspective and in your own life. In addition, the translation was very good, so it did not feel choppy. It’s a pretty short novel so it can be read in a matter of hours.

I would recommend this novel to someone looking for a thought provoking novel with a dark twist.

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

by Laura Kee

This book tells the story of a courageous girl who stood up to the Taliban. Her determination to be strong in the face of danger speak volumes to her personality. I am Malala puts education (something that we all take for granted) in perspective. Most students in America wake up every morning and assume they will go to school and be safe. Half way around the world from us, girls are prohibited and threatened if they attend school. The Taliban have created a war-zone in Pakistan, and daily life has changed dramatically.

This eye-opening book speaks to the person that Malala truly is. Her mission is to help girls not just in her community, but in all countries. An assassination attempt has not (and will not) stop her from working to attain her goals. Malala Yousafzai is an incredibly well-spoken girl who is a symbol of peace and hope. Speaking at the United Nations on her sixteenth birthday is an example of how much of an impact she has on lives around the world. I strongly recommend this book for anyone who is eager to be inspired learn about a new culture, and rethink parts of our culture that we take for granted.

Cereus Blooms at Night by Shani Mootoo

by Matt Beaudry

While Cereus Blooms at Night is most definitely an interesting read and well structured, I do not think it would appeal to a lot of people. The plot is engaging and has a good mystery element; an elderly woman everyone dismisses as crazy brutally murders her father and sets her house on fire. Instead of being committed to a prison, Mala Ramchandran is sent to a nursing home, with only Tyler, her male nurse looking out for here. Tyler and Mala are both outsiders in the community. Tyler is marginalized for his sexuality and his profession, while Mala is feared and misunderstood. It is through their isolation that the two begin to develop a relationship. Tyler shows support and understanding, and Mala returns it. The relationship that develops is heart-warming and well written, and as it forms Tyler learns more about Mala and slowly reveals her story and what drove her to murder her father.

One of the biggest strengths of Cereus Blooms at Night in my opinion, is the prose. Mootoo delicately weaves vivid description, believable vernacular, and stirring character voice. It reads quite well, never feeling too lofty or dense. The biggest turn-off would have to be the pacing. While the initial setup is intriguing, it takes a while for conflict and development to develop. This was most likely deliberate, as the beginning astutely establishes the culture and the characters. After page 70, though, the plot gets moving and becomes more engaging. Another aspect of the novel that could be a turn-off are its themes. The book deals heavily with sexuality and gender identity. The symbolism for the themes can seem esoteric, and such themes might evoke indifference. Overall, I definitely enjoyed the book, but it is a heavier read that requires analytic thinking and consideration of uncommon themes.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

by Maurice Blake

The Kite Runner is a very well written novel that gives insight into the struggles faced by two boys. While addressing serious issues, the author is able to tap into the truths of human nature. After winning a kite running event, one of the boys is forced to give the trophy to a few bullies. After resisting this boy is penetrated by these bullies while the best friend of the boy watches. This presents two serious problems and the reactions that follow relate to real life situations.

The author is able to fully portray the difficulties of dealing with the problems that occur in this book. After the incident turmoil reigns in the lives of the boys. The fact that they are dealing with this at a young age also plays a big role into the chaos that ensues. The immaturity mixed with the seriousness of this problems allows things to fall apart quickly. The author fully portrays human nature in a bad situation.

I recommend this book to others because it is very interesting. I didn't give it a 5 because it's not the best book I've ever read, but it's still something to look forward to. I hope others enjoy this book as much as I did.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon

by Olivia Meikle

In Carrier of the Mark, readers follow Megan as she transitions to a new life in Kinsale Ireland; the good, the bad and the even better. Megan's move was effortless, as she immediately makes friends with Caitlyn and Jennifer and is intrigued by a boy named Adam DeRis. She lives with her father, with whom she has a very close relationship ever since her mother passed away in a car crash when she was six. 

Adam is immediately drawn to Megan and Megan is doesn't understand why. She comes to realize that he is interested in her when he confesses that she is "the carrier of the mark." The carrier of the mark is one of the four “elements” that take human form in each generation (Air, Water, Fire, Earth). Adam is another element so that is why he is so attracted to her. Fionn, the DeRises' guardian, says that they must participate in a ceremony that would in turn create peace for the world. 

This back and forth between romance and mystical world create a good story and one that is engaging for all audiences. There is a fluidity between the pages and the characters. All the characters are very interesting and complex. I really liked this book because for me, I love cheesy love movies and stories and this was somewhat similar but also had a plot that was different and out of the ordinary. 

I recommend this book to anyone who shares my fondness for romantic stories as well as people who enjoy mysteries and science fiction!

The Woman Who Walked Into Doors by Roddy Doyle

by Caitlyn Tellier

In The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, Paula Spencer is a young Irish woman who recounts her memories of when she was younger. The novel begins when she receives news from police officers of her husband’s death. 

Miss Spencer then begins to recall her childhood as well as her teenage years. She describes the harassment she endured during her childhood along with the lack of expectations people held for her. Although Paula does not seem think that her past has affected her, it certainly foreshadows her future. Miss Spencer not only struggles with an abusive husband, but she turns to alcohol when trying to deal with her problems. 

Doyle does a great job keeping the reader emotionally involved in the book. The book contained some very intense issues, which one would not often experience. Doyle managed to add certain lines and a few scenes in the text to lighten the mood. Although some readers will not be able to relate to a lot of the issues in the book, most will be able to relate to many of the underlying messages.

Atonement by Ian McEwan

by James Sacco

Atonement takes place during World War II in England and France and is told through the point of view of 13 year old Briony Tallis. The novel follows its story by switching time periods throughout the book, which is one of the things that made it so interesting. The narrator and the main character take the reader on a journey through all of the mistakes she made and the interesting life she lived. The book was full of twists and turns. There were also multiple disturbing instances shown through the eyes of Briony.

Briony's choices following these acts cause conflict between herself, her family, and as she grows older, her conscience. These conflicts are what makes the book so page-turning and exciting. World War II provides the drama and tragedy of war. 

The concept of changing time periods throughout the novel gives the reader the illusion that you are living the entire lives of the characters, up until death. Reading through the eyes of a naive girl in the beginning of the book made it much more interesting than if it had been told from the perspective of her mother, for example. The author's choice to use Briony as a narrator allows more exaggeration, and her mistakes make a more interesting story.

I recommend this to those who are interested in reading about the life and hardships of World War II, as well as anyone who likes reading about stories that put life in perspective and make you cherish the good things in life. 

Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid

by Michaela O'Laughlin

This is a great and easy read. It sheds light on cultural diversity and how challenging it can be to experience a new culture.

Lucy is a young adult, almost 20 years old, with a dream to leave her little Caribbean home. Her dream is quickly achieved as she goes to America in search of an education. She becomes a nanny during the day for a wealthy family and attends school at night. She learns very quickly how different America is from her home and it turns out to be not what she expected.

Soon after her arrival to the States she feels extremely unwelcome and gets very homesick. She experiences culture shock and yearns for all the things at home she misses. Her character begins to show through this and it becomes evident that she is not materialistic at all and prefers simplicity and kind people to an elaborate and unhappy life. 

Read this book to discover Lucy's journey and the sacrifices she is willing to make in order to get an American education.

The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory

by Kamina Nixon-Townsend

I truly enjoyed reading this book not only because it's one of my favorite genre, historical fiction, but because of how likable Gregory makes the protagonists, sisters Mary and Anne Boleyn. Although the story is set in the Tudor reign of England, I felt as if the story could have taken place in modern times. This is due to its themes of sibling rivalry, obeying your parents' wishes, and falling in love with someone of different social standing. I think these common experiences help make the book relatable and enjoyable to read.

I really like how Gregory took the time to give each of her characters a genuine voice and an authentic personality while maintaining a realistic historical perspective. I was able to form a connection with all the characters, even the ones who were undeserving of affection, like ambition-crazed Anne and ruthless King Henry. 

I recommend this book to someone who likes reading historical fiction and doesn't mind reading from a female perspective. I give it a five star rating for its entertaining plot story and unique twist on a major historical event. However, while it is a good read, sometimes it is too romanticized. Other than that, the amazing character development, exciting imagery and compelling story make this a definite page turner!

Brida by Paulo Coelho

by Jen Howard

I found Brida by Paulo Coelho to be a little slow moving, but engaging. The book explores the unseen things in the world and the reasons for them. It also explores the different parts of being a human: feelings, faith, and family.

I was able to relate to the book through some of the questions that Brida raises while exploring the world of magic. The questions Brida raises are many of the same questions that young adults are exploring themselves whether they are playing with magic or not. 

Some of the questions that Brida explores are: how do I know who my soulmate is? Are people reincarnated from other people? What happens after death? What does being human mean? What is religion? Which religion do I believe? I liked how the author leaves the reader lots of room to interpret the answers to these questions. 

The lessons that the readers learn are told in a very creative way, most often through a memory Brida has from her childhood. It is more engaging for the reader to learn about lessons through a story from a character instead of being told in a straight forward fashion. However, I did find the flipping back and fourth between Brida and her visions to be a little confusing and abrupt. I found the events that occurred in Brida’s visions to be mostly unrelated to the rest of the book and what Brida was doing. 

I also thought that the book was a little to centered around God, but that is part of the Irish culture. The book does not give a lot of context about the culture in Ireland during the time when the book is taking place. This makes finding your bearings in the beginning of the book challenging.

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

by Aaron Gacs

Gardens of the Moon is the first of a ten-book series known collectively as the Malazan Book of the Fallen. The novel introduces a vast array of characters and locations in the world of the Malazan Empire, a place of powerful magic, rich history, and complex cultures. Although the genre is undoubtedly fantasy, similarities to other great works of popular fantasy (such as Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings) are limited. There are no heroes or villains, no noble quests, and no simple morals to be drawn from this story. The plots are complex and varied, the characters are often morally gray, and the world itself feels like a living, breathing character with deep historical roots.

Reading Gardens of the Moon is not for the faint of heart. The writing is beautiful and rich, but also occasionally difficult to follow, and it can be hard to keep track of the many characters as their stories intersect and meander through the various times and places the novel visits.
But making a commitment to this book and the other nine in the series is incredibly rewarding. In reading them, I have often laughed out loud at the characters' conversations, and I have just as often been brought close to tears by the poignancy of their suffering. If you like fantasy but wish it were more like serious literature, this book is for you. If you like being drawn into an epic work so deeply that you wish it would never end, this book is for you!

Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang

by Gina Chaimanis

Set during the Boxer Rebellion in 1890s China, Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang is composed in a two volume graphic novel boxed set and is a jarring experience in duality. Boxers follows the point of view of Little Bao, a young man entranced by the noble allure of combatant rebels, and Saints is told from the viewpoint of Four-Girl, an outcast who finds comfort in the company of Christian missionaries. Though their life choices seem vastly different, both Little Bao and Four-Girl share many common experiences that take the reader off guard. The development of each character further surprises the reader as one is persuaded to feel sympathy for seemingly unforgivable acts.

As he did so well in American Born Chinese, Yang validates the coming of age experience by craftily revealing how the challenges and joys of growing up are a microcosm of the world these young characters live in. In both graphic novels, this is an emotional tale of the difficulty that universally ensues when young people grow up. Yet it is also a stark political commentary of how violent change can break down family, culture and identity.

While composed in a highly symbolic style similar to American Born Chinese, the plot also reminds one of dystopian YA literature popular today, such as The Hunger Games. I recommend this book for anyone who can stomach a bit of violence and has patience decoding unfamiliar symbols.

Monday, March 30, 2015

I'll Be Right There by Kyung -Sook Shin

by Alida Hanson

An enigmatic, poetic, ultimately tragic tale of love, literature and loss set during a period of time in Korea with which I was not familiar before I read this book. In the 1980s, South Korea was socially and politically unstable after the ending of an authoritarian regime. University students protested seriously and often. This is our setting.

Students Yoon, Dahn, Myungsuh, and Miru form a strong bond. We watch how this relationship grows, and then witness how it changes, and ends. Stories are told in alternating chapters, with a journal speaking one of the voices. I wonder what this book would read like if I could read it in the original Korean. The tone reminds me a lot of Murakami's novels: very interior, noticing details, sensitive.

While there is a mystery that pulls you along, for me, the strength of the book is its descriptions of meaningful relationships between people: how they start, grow and end. If you like books about relationships and have an interest in Asian literature or Korea, this book is for you.

Panic in a Suitcase by Yelena Akhtiorskaya

by Alida Hanson

An absolutely hilarious novel about a Russian family who settles in Brooklyn in the 80s/90s during an era when it seems like the entire population of Odessa has recreated their city in Brighton Beach. The novel focuses on three generations of the Nasmertov family, including the uncle/son Pasha, a famous poet, who stays in Odessa.

The author has a gift for description, juxtaposition, and blending plot elements to make a point.  I laughed at loud at the scene in the banya (bath house) where mother Marina and daughter Frida spend an afternoon:

"For those who have only imagined the scene inside a ladies' locker room, the actuality was a handful of half-squatting women struggling with their locks. The key never fit, and then the key got stuck. There was an atmosphere of stifled panic. Bathroom doors were left flung open, as if the occupants had fled."

I love the literature of the of this generation of Russian immigrants: Gary Shteyngart, Lara Vapnyar, Masha Gessen, the literary magazine N+1 (I know I'm leaving some out). The author of Panic in a Suitcase, Yelena Akhtiorskaya, deserves a place in the pantheon. I recommend this to anyone who is looking for a funny read and has an affinity for Russian literature and culture.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

by Grace Wang

Without a doubt, this is one of the most powerful books that I have ever read.  

One damaged girl. 

A summer on her family’s private island. 

The story is told through the voice of an emotionally distraught eighteen year old girl. Her distinctive voice echoed in my head until the very last page. I could relate to her character because I felt all her pains, joys and griefs. It was like she was part of me. 

My favorite part of the book was the author’s writing style. The poetic phrases and powerful words weaved together to create an unforgettable story. Also, the sentence fragments were effective because the short phrases conveyed important messages. In addition, I liked the design of the book, as the blank space allotted room for imagination and acted as transitions to the next line. 

The plot was so sophisticated that I questioned everything. The author cleverly unveiled a little bit to us at a time—from sparse details until suddenly reaching the climax; everything spilled out, erupting like a volcano. This story was a heartbreaking read that twisted with my mind until the very end. It took my breath away—leaving me speechless and in shock.

This is unlike any book I have ever read because of its unique, powerful style and complex plot. I could not stop turning the pages and finished the book in one day.  It was too good to put down. 

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.  An out-of-the-box read for sure!

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Martian by Andy Weir

by Bailey Fidler

The Martian is a gripping novel about a manned mission to Mars gone awry, by newcomer Andy Weir. His first novel, The Martian is a truly thrilling account of a mission to the red planet where one man, taken for dead by the rest of his team, must survive on limited resources and attempt to contact earth. His plight depends on his ability to problem solve and get creative.

This book is one of my favorites in years, and Weir writes with a passion that only a true space nerd could muster. With just enough technical information to inform the reader without getting bogged down, Weir manages to craft the most effective page turner since The Da Vinci Code.

 If you liked the movies Interstellar or Apollo 13, you’ll love The Martian. Weir has spun a masterpiece here, and you’ll want to read this one before next Thanksgiving, when acclaimed sci-fi director Ridley Scott’s (Alien, Blade Runner, Prometheus) adaptation of the book arrives in theaters, starring Matt Damon as astronaut Mark Watney.

All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu

by Alida Hanson

The body of African diaspora literature is growing, and this highly praised addition is set in Uganda and the American midwest during the 70s. The story is told in alternating voices: Isaac, a young man (in his 20s) living on a temporary visa in the midwest after being involved in a bloody Ugandan coup, and Helen, the social worker assigned to his case. They fall in love.

If the story were as simple as that you would be reading a different book. The themes here are love, loss, dislocation, and loneliness (it's heartbreaking). And, because of the first person alternating viewpoints, you're always working to figure out what's really happening. You have to be comfortable drawing your own inferences especially when it comes to character motivation.

I recommend this to readers who are interested in Africa, historical fiction or who like to keep up with the latest in serious literary fiction. Mengestu has written several other highly praised novels and I am interested in reading more.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Wolf in White Van

by Alida Hanson, Librarian

A unique and thought provoking piece of fiction about a strategy game conducted through the mail, a few of the players who took the game too seriously, and the creator of the game, Sean, who started the game when he was 17 after a disfiguring accident. You don't know the why of the accident until the very end.

Although short, it is dense and enigmatic. The plot would seem to be evenful, but somehow when you're reading it takes a back seat to beautiful language. One point of resistance for me was a pervading feeling of an oddly flat and one-dimensional world. The flap copy told me that the author is a famous lyricist. Could that be informing his fictional style? And is that a bad thing?

My favorite parts of the book were about the creation and maintenance of the game. We learn about the flow chart Sean used to make the game, and how infinite possibilites from the players' perspectives are in fact predetermined, limited choices. This is a major theme of the novel: what do we do with our choices?

Wolf in White Van doesn't remind me of anything I've ever read, but I am not a big fantasy reader and perhaps there are some comparisons there. I recommend this to readers who like to be challenged by literary fiction as well as those who have an interest in gaming (who doesn't like to play games?). Shortlisted for the National Book Awards, it has gotten a lot of critical attention this year.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

by Peter Noonan

This book tells the tale of the hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. As you read you will watch Bilbo change from quiet and cautious to adventurous and outgoing. Tolkien immerses you in an unearthly world as Bilbo journeys with thirteen dwarves and a wizard. Watch as these fifteen brave creatures skillfully avoid trolls, goblins, wolves, dragons, and giant spiders. Overall, this book outstandingly places the reader in a world that is full of rich and vivid details.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes to read books with rich descriptions and exciting adventures. This book has a strong and exciting plot. The Hobbit also has rich characters, but it can be difficult to keep track of all thirteen of the dwarves. If you are a person who does not like having to remember a lot of characters, this might be frustrating for you.

The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

by Erica Williams

The Beautiful and Damned is a story of privilege, love, gluttony, and tragedy in the roaring 20’s. Set in New York City in what is now known as the Jazz Age, Fitzgerald tells the tale of a wealthy man named Anthony Patch. Although orphaned over the course of his childhood, he spends his early years travelling around Europe and eventually attends Harvard, where he is a successful student.

At the time that the story is set, Patch is 25 years old and living in the great city. He is idly waiting for the death of his rich grandfather, a businessman who made a fortune in the early railroad industry. Patch is the only living heir and moves to New York to await this amazing inheritance. Meanwhile, he has enough money to live comfortably and lacks the motivation to rcreate or do anything productive, despite his insistence that he is working on a historical novel about medieval Europe. He occupies much of his time socializing and drinking with fellow young elites living in the city.

He soon meets Gloria Gilbert, famous among New York’s upper social stratum as a woman so beautiful “men have desired since she was sixteen.” In a similar way to Anthony, she lives in a state of lavish, luxuriant boredom. Her main occupation in life is to be physically beautiful and to attract a rich, financially secure, upper-class young man as a husband. She accomplishes just that after Anthony courts and marries her. But can their marriage last after their attraction to each other is confirmed and acted upon, and they have nothing better to fill their time with than to stay out late every night and slowly become more alcoholic?

The Beautiful and Damned is a cautionary tale about the dangers that opulence brings to those who are over-accustomed to it, and especially to those who were given it, rather than earning it. Read the novel that first brought F. Scott Fitzgerald to popular recognition as he tells the tragic satire of his own early marriage, and what made it fall to pieces.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

by Sera Sidhom

I loved this book. The first hundred pages get boring because it sets up the scene for the big plot twist that comes in the middle of the book. However if you endure these pages and pay attention to them you will be able to make connections throughout the rest of the book.

I liked how this book had multiple plot twists and was written in the opposing points of views of both protagonists. I liked how different this book was from other books I usually read as it combines mystery, drama and murder. In addition, this story seemed real (although horrific) and not as far-fetched as The Hunger Games or The Maze Runner.

I recommend this book to anyone who is willing to dive into a good mystery and drama. Get ready for the plot twists--this book keeps you guessing!

Five Days At Memorial by Sheri Fink

by Alexandra Barry

This is one of the most gripping accounts of a natural disaster I have ever read. I loved that the book tackled a controversial issue of assisted suicide and lack of preparation when emergency hits. Hurricane Katrina will always be remembered by the shocking footage of people standing on the roofs of their houses waving for help, but perhaps the most controversial news of Katrina was the scandal of Memorial Hospital. The nation went into a frenzy after allegations of murder went public against three of the hospital's doctors. Five Days At Memorial is a riveting account that shows the many different sides of a story and exposes the true air of desperation at Memorial during the week Katrina hit.

This book didn't remind me of any other book I had ever read before, because of its honest and raw portrayal of the thoughts behind the three doctors' actions of lethally injecting patients to aide them into a peaceful death. It is a unique account that shows the opposite side of a scandalous story that was not portrayed by the media. Five Days At Memorial humanizes the doctors at Memorial Hospital and shows their true good intentions to help patients in need. 

I recommend this book to anyone looking for a different story that shines a light on the controversial questions society often asks and who wants to question their own opinions as well as the basis on which they were founded. A must read!

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

by Kym Darby

Lies We Tell Ourselves follows the life of Sarah Dunbar, an African-American girl who, along with a few other students, integrates an all-white high school in 1950 Virginia. It was interesting to get a view of what the life of a young African-American woman might have been like, which kept me interested in the book. The author's writing style was also incredibly intriguing and kept me engaged through the whole novel.

I recommend this book to anyone who is simply looking for a good read! It's filled with a rollercoaster of emotions and events that keep the reader on their toes and wanting more! Definitely read it!!

Dead Man's Grip by Peter James

by Andre Chang

Dead Man's Grip
 is an entertaining novel. Although the plot wasn't that original, it captivated my attention from the very start and I did not put it down until it was finished. Peter James paces the story well and inserts pop culture references to help the readers connect with the characters and narrative. His style of writing is clear, new, and refreshing for me so I'm looking forward to reading more of his works. 

Dead Man's Grip is actually the 7th book of a series and I didn't realize this until after I finished the novel. Because of this, the only gripe I had with the plot was a small side story which probably would have been easier to understand if I had read the previous books in the series. Other than that, Dead Man's Grip is compelling and I recommend it to anyone looking for a simple, predictable, yet ultimately entertaining novel.

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

by Ally Anderson

This book was compelling, enlightening and empowering. It discusses two different childhood stories and outcomes of two different guys with the same name who grew up close to each other but never knew one another until the book was written.

One Wes Moore is imprisoned for life while the other is free and experiencing things he never dreamed of as a kid. This book is an easy read while being very encouraging and interesting; it contains good and bad memories to which many people can relate. 

I personally liked the book because, growing up in a similar situation (but not the same) and hearing about different experiences through my brother, I could empathize with many of the stories and reflections. It reminded me of A Girl Like Me by Ni-Ni Simone because the boys in both books seem relatable and go through similar situations. 

I recommend this book to anyone who can handle it. It has some strong and vivid memories and can be sad at times but also very quotable and inspiring. Anyone can read it but everyone should.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

by Ryan Doorandish

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell dives into the world of your subconscious and rapid cognition. It reveals when and when not to rely on your snap judgments. Gladwell uses many examples from racism to success of married couples as case studies in rapid cognition. Coming in to this book I knew very little about rapid cognition, but after reading this, my future decisions and my worldview will be impacted. 

The main thing that fascinated me about this book was Gladwell’s exploration of racism. Gladwell beautifully explains through statistics and examples that most of us are subconsciously racist. This changed my whole view on racism. People have often put blame on certain people for being racist. Gladwell reveals that this is not necessarily the case. Everyone, to different levels is subconsciously racist based on society’s portrayal of minorities. Therefore it is not important to identify racism, but to fix society’s portrayal of minorities. Readers will definitely be fascinated by Gladwell’s discussion on racism, and if more people have this knowledge than racism will definitely decrease. 

I would highly recommend reading the afterword because it books the entire book into perspective and outlines the lessons of the book. Without the afterword, the book is sort of incomplete, and just lists a bunch of examples without summing them up together. All in all Blink is a fascinating book that will definitely change your view of society.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

by Drew Goulart

Brave New World was honestly incredible. If you are at all interested in books like The Giver, regarding utopian societies and the interesting themes and concepts that come along with them, you will thoroughly enjoy this book. The book was written in 1932 by Englishman Aldous Huxley, a renaissance man of literature who was a playwright, poet, novelist, short story writer, travel writer, essayist, critic, philosopher, mystic, and social prophet. At the time of release the book was not popular because of it's uncensored and radical ideas that did not fully align with the global problems of the time. However his predictions of the future, to many's disbelief, are becoming more and more accurate, and the world that he envisioned six hundred years from now is terrifyingly coming far sooner.

The book is enlightening because it speaks about matters that you will most likely not hear elsewhere. I was completely captivated by his writing, and have never been so eager to reach the end of any other book as I was for this one. (Trust me the ending does not fall short in absolute brilliance!) There is not much else I can say about the book because I truly believe it puts you through a philosophical maze, and I don't want my ideas to interfere with your own discoveries of the meaning of it.

I recommend it to anyone who is interested in philosophy, science, politics and true uncensored uniqueness.

Enjoy it!

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

by Emma Rodgers

Adventure, romance, murder and revenge...oops. Wrong book!

How about, rowing, poverty, school, rowing, WWII, rowing, Hitler, rowing, rowing, dating, WWII, rowing.... Well if that sounds like your kind of book then The Boys in the Boat is for you! The book follows Joe Rantz through his struggles of growing up in poverty and isolation from his family, motivating himself through school and into college. Once in college, The University of Washington, the tale of Joe's time on the Washington rowing team, the fight to improve, to continue attending school, and to grasp the true meaning of rowing captivates the reader and has him/her holding their breath during each race! The ultimate goal: to row in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, under the ever present eyes of Adolf Hitler.

This wonderful novel struck a personal string for me. Being a rower myself, I understood many of the struggles Joe and his teammates face; competition, frustration, boat rankings, and all the other the demanding aspects of this unique sport.

The Boys in the Boat is an excellent choice for all who enjoy a heart warming and wrenching tale. A story of triumph and failure, of love and hardships. It is especially suited for those who row, as it will teach them much rowing history and many incredible insights on this challenging sport.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

by Nick Camp

I really liked this book because not only was it a mystery (my favorite genre) but it also was a true story, which made it much more interesting. Also, the way the story of the murder mystery worked was very new to me, as the author chose to tell the story differently than your typical story. In this book, you found out who the murders were very early in the story, making one wonder, what kind of mystery is this? The real thrill of the book is following the detectives as they hunt for clues as to who did it, because they don't know, as well as following the killers themselves and looking into the minds of the murderers to really understand how they were feeling, their motivations, and their plans.

The story is filled with real people being quoted, as the author actually went to the town where the murder took place and talked to the townspeople, getting their side of the story. The author also was able to get the murderer's side of the story, which allowed for the author to write the book in the way he did. The way Capote did his research for his book meant that this book was able to document a national news story while at the same time write a thrilling story where you find out what mistakes were made and what clues were found in order to catch the killers, making this book one of my top five.

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Rachael Crunkleton

This book is an interesting read because it walks you through the daily life of a woman prisoner. Being a huge fan of the television series, I was expecting the book to be about drama and fights between the inmates, but to my surprise the book really focused on positive relationships and eye opening moments that Piper experiences first hand. From her former middle class life to roughing it in prison, Piper tells a story of perseverance, questioning society's tendency to label others and its fear of the blatant truth.

While reading the novel, it almost feels like a diary because of the specific events and personal details that make the story so real. I recommend this book to anyone over the age of 13 or 14, just because of the language. Overall, I enjoyed this book and I loved how truly honest it was.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

by Elise Wirth

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is great because it makes you want to continue reading. Not once during the book did I feel bored. The thing I liked most was the language and writing style. Stockett chose to use improper grammar, spelling words in a way that creates a southern accent when reading. This made the book more fun to read because you imagined yourself down south watching the events happen and giving each character a defined voice, something you usually only get in movies. Another great quality of the book were its descriptions. They were not overdone or dragged out. They were to the point and created imagery where you could have your own interpretation of what everyone and everything looked like but you also had a good deal of detailed descriptions with which to work.

Another reason this book is so fabulous is its structure. Each chapter is in the life of a different character just like a movie is sometimes structured. There is no single perspective from which you experience the story. Of course you mostly get the main character, Aibileen's perspective. However you also get a feel for everyone else’s emotions and lives. Last, this book is great because it is historically accurate without being a boring nonfiction book. You get to see many different views on black people during the early 60s in the South, bringing light to the fact that not all white people were horrible during this racially oppressive era.

Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer

by Sophia Daphnis

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer tells the story of Christopher McCandless and his travels throughout America. McCandless left home during the summer, without leaving a trace. His parents hired private investigators to locate him, but he could not be found. McCandless hitch hiked to the West where he worked odd jobs before continuing his travels. Many people felt a strong connection with him, letting him stay with them. His goal was to have a great Alaskan adventure, the kind Jack London wrote about.

His presence left a meaningful mark on many people, who told Krakauer about them. The book also contains McCandless’ own journal entries, which depict someone who isn’t sure what he is doing in the world, but wanted to find out.

Monday, January 12, 2015

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

by Zane Cassum

When most hear the title One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, they aren’t quick to associate it with Ken Kesey; if anything, the first name to come to mind is Jack Nicholson, the actor who portrays the protagonist in the film adaptation of the novel. After seeing the movie, most would dismiss reading the book as unnecessary. Perhaps it’s because I experienced them in the opposite order, but I’m one of the few who will insist that the book puts the movie to shame. Kesey himself agrees with me; in fact he was so frustrated with the film that he walked off the set--and if you take the time to read and then watch, you’ll understand why.

But on to the book. The story is told from the perspective of Chief Bromden, a half-Indian man believed to be deaf and dumb by his fellow inmates in the mental ward in which he’s institutionalized (although early on, we find out it’s merely an act). Through the eyes of the silent Chief Bromden, Kesey paints the world with the images of a man brought to insanity by constant trauma and abuse from society, which he nicknames “The Combine”, from things like over-analysis of human tendencies to outlandish night time hallucinations.

The humdrum life of the mental institution is disrupted by the arrival of Randall McMurphy, a rowdy troublemaker who doesn’t appear to be insane as much as he does out of place. The challenges that McMurphy poses to the autocratic rule of Head Nurse Ratched, the director of the ward, are exactly the troubles that Chief Bromden wants to see the Combine face. Kesey uses Bromden to reflect his analysis of the systematic American society through the simple, mind-numbing procedures of the ward, while building a cast of characters in the institution that a reader can become personally invested in.

Apparently there’s all sorts of allegory between Kesey’s characters and psychological identity, but, to be honest, I don’t know about any of that stuff and I’m not going to act like I do. The book is great, the movie’s also worth a watch, and if it doesn’t make you think too much you’ll at least enjoy seeing the characters interact in the ward. I recommend One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to any reader, particularly those who feel like they’re having issues with their identity.

The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook by Ben Mezrich

by Brendan Garfinkel

The Accidental Billionaires turned out to be a great read. Through the depth of analysis explained through the book, I was able to tell that the author, Ben Mezrich, put much research into the telling of the founding of Facebook. This research clearly pays off as Mezrich describes the beginning and growth of the most popular social networking site on the Internet today.

Mezrich paints a clear picture of founder Mark Zuckerberg's relationships on both a business and personal level. He gives great detail of the setting in which the story takes place, and living in Massachusetts and having been to many of the places around Harvard he writes about, I could visualize many of the scenes in my head. Also I row crew for the school team and really enjoyed Mezrich’s unique detail as he describes the Winklevoss twins practicing for rowing and actually competing in a race. I could clearly pan out each rowing scene in my head as well. The book is a fairly easy read as the realistic writing style can be quickly read through and understood.

I have not read any other books about the startup of popular companies or popular businesses so it does not really remind me of any other books that I have enjoyed.

Although Mezrich tells the story through the point of views of people he has interviewed (Eduardo Saverin, Cameron/Tyler Winklevoss, Sean Parker), the book can be categorized as both nonfiction and fiction. Mark Zuckerberg declined to be interviewed by Mezrich while writing this book. The book can be classified as both nonfiction and fiction because while some of the events did indeed occur, some of them were only told through one person’s point of view and not two, so the full story can never be told, the reader is limited to one point of view, depending on the character and scene. 

If you are a fan of nonfiction like me, you will enjoy the content of the book, and maybe not the realistic writing style. If you are into rowing, Facebook, or entrepreneurship I also recommend this book to you. The book clearly reflects the start and growth of Facebook in a compelling way, and also shows the struggles of becoming an entrepreneur and the risks it takes personally and professionally to start a business. If you are an everyday Facebook user, this book clearly explains the start of the social networking tool you use everyday. If you saw the movie, it has some similarities, but I would say that the book is much better, as the movie stretches out the truth in some scenes unlike the book which goes into much more depth.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

by Catherine Argyrople

Fahrenheit 451 takes place in a futuristic American society that has prospered and cultivated total control by censoring information from the general public. The purpose of government forces like the police and fire departments are altered from their current position in our lives today, solely present in the book for the purpose of cultivating universal conformity. To restrict knowledge, firemen in  burn books and ignite flames on the homes of those who disobey the rules additionally. Although firemen are supposed to extinguish flames, Bradbury twists their obligations to promote fear and conformity within society. The ironic firemen paradox is Bradbury’s underlying warning to the future of America, alluding to his belief that people should develop an identity of their own and not rely solely on official forces to control their lives. By burning books, Bradbury suggests that future Americans will try to hide knowledge and keep the greater population ignorant to the real problems going on.

Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 is acknowledged as an American classic and I was surprised that I had never read it before. It is a short book compared to other classic novels, but Fahrenheit 451 in my opinion is much more interesting to read than other American literature that is required to read in school. If I were a teacher, I would take other books off of the required reading list to add Fahrenheit 451 on because it is a really deep and symbolic book.

This book reminds me a lot of The Hunger Games, not really for the plot but regarding the whole idea of a futuristic society with total control over its people.  I think that everybody should read this book every 20 years or so....  Fahrenheit 451, similar to Catcher in The Rye in this sense, is a timeless book that alters your perspective and makes you think about your life and society in general.

West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life by Jerry West and Jonathan Coleman

by Nathan Luu

West by West was a great read. I learned new things about Jerry West and found out that celebrities like him, did not live the life everyone expected him to live. He went through many hard times but became successful in the end. His flaws on and off the court strongly affected the way he lived.

Jerry West is known for being a very quiet guy but in this book he expresses his feelings and pours out everything that’s been bothering him since he was a kid. If you are a huge basketball fan like I am, I strongly recommend this book as Jerry West is known for his silhouette image on today’s NBA logo.
Highly regarded as one of the greatest all-time basketball players to ever play the game, Jerry West does a great job of guiding you through his harsh life. Jerry West played on the Lakers for his whole career (14 years) winning an NBA Championship, Olympic Gold Medal, and being named fourteen times to the NBA All Star Game. Not only was he a great player but he was also well known for his achievement as an executive being a six time NBA Champion and winning NBA Executive of the Year twice. 

Throughout this book Jerry West takes you on his life’s journey and describes all the challenges that he went through. This book is perfect for anyone who loves the game of basketball and enjoys reading about one of the NBA’s all-time greats.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

by Nick Miller

Mark Haddon's mystery novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is written from the perspective of a 15 year old autistic boy by the name of Christopher John Francis Boone. When Christopher's neighbor's dog is murdered, he sets out to discover the truth about what happened. 

This novel, told from the perspective of a person with autism, is very different from any book I have ever read. It is filled with patterns, maps, illustrations and many other things that differentiate it from the standard mystery novel. In addition, this novel allows you to see into the brain of somebody with autism. This perspective reveals a completely different way of looking at the world. 

I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

by Celine Zhu

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is all about family. Although it's a family drastically different from many other families, it's a family nonetheless. What begins as a how-to guide for western parents to tailor their parenting to produce prodigies transitions into an authentic human story of a unique collection of lives. I enjoyed the realism of the story and how the growing tension between family members escalated subtlety and realistically. The book also shows you the inner workings of Asian family dynamics, which from the exterior may appear robotic and factory-like, but suffers (or enjoys) the same mushy sentimentality of all other families. Although it may be veiled within appreciative grunts or permission to events that all other parents would accept with the blink of their eye, Amy Chua is able to display the esoteric language of love in a Tiger family.

I’ve never read a book quite like it. The transforming voice of the author was an interesting element to pick up on. Chua’s reaction and change in writing depending on the action of her daughters was able to paint the image of the push-and-pull relationship between parents and their children. I would strongly recommend this to parents and children alike. Parents, because they can relate to the perils of adolescent angst and rebellion. Children, because it’s enlightening to realize the humanity of your own parents. Needless to say, the book is an eye opening experience for any member of the diverse family dynamic.

Unfortunately, if you have a rigid parenting philosophy and a narrow mind, this book will be infuriating. Translating seemingly appalling actions into their loving messages can be a challenge to the monolingual. However, if you’re willing to listen and learn, the book will tell you a tale you already know: a tale of ignorance, realization, love, family, and of course--Tigers.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

by Maddie Hayes

Taking place in the mid to late 1920's, Tender is the Night brings the splendor, passion, and culture boom of the period to life. It is an account of a love affair between a young actress, Rosemary Hoyt, and an established doctor, Dick Driver. Showing the views of both, it illustrates the freedom one feels in love and the emotional suffocation that indifference brings in relationships. Not only is it a love story, but a cautionary tale of what happens when in love, one forgets who they are for the sake of the other person.

Those who enjoy romance, foreign backdrop, and emotional honesty, give it a read!

Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich

by Austin Critchlow

Bringing Down the House is a non-fiction thriller about the MIT blackjack team in the 90’s as they use team card counting to reap rewards from Las Vegas casinos. If you have seen the 2008 movie 21, this book was the inspiration for the screenplay. While Mezrich takes several liberties with the “true events” that inspired the story, including the use of composite characters and the embellishment and fictionalization of major events, the book is mostly based in truth. One unique aspect of the book is that it reads like a fictional novel. This keeps the story very engaging and it kept me on the edge of my seat as I was reading. I also found the premise of the story fascinating: MIT students using math algorithms and statistical analysis to make thousands of dollars every night from a system designed to make the player lose. Equally interesting was the aspect of secrecy and intrigue that the students had to use to evade casino managers and constant video surveillance. They not only had to be able to keep track of all the cards in a six-deck shoe, but also be a skilled actor to fit the part of "high rolled" forking down thousands each hand, and deter the suspicions of dealers and casino management.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a relatively quick, interesting, entertaining, and thought provoking read. Don’t feel like you need to have any prior knowledge of blackjack or card counting, speaking from personal experience, the story is easy to follow. Mezrich’s detailed descriptions, fast-paced dialogue, and suspenseful peaks of action put the reader into the shoes of Kevin Lewis, the main character who is drawn into the captivating world of card-counting.

American Sniper by Chris Kyle, Jim DeFelice, and Scott McEwen

by Henry Hall

American Sniper is an autobiography by Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. While it isn't the most elegantly written book, the amazing and breathtaking stories from this soldier's time in service makes up for the writing style. The general public is often sheltered from the true details and atrocities of war and in his book Chris has no filter when describing the battles in which he fought.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in how modern warfare works or simply wants to know more about what our soldiers overseas are doing in the wars to which we send them.