Latest Reviews

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Book Review: Lies that Bind – Maggie Barbieri

lies-that-bindTitle: Lies that Bind
Author: Maggie Barbieri
ISBN: 9781250011701
Pages: 336
Release Date: February 17, 2015
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Mystery
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

Maeve’s life has settled down since the events of Once Upon a Lie, and she’s making ends meet and providing for her two daughters at her bakery. But when the unthinkable happens, and Maeve’s ailing father dies, she’s bereft. When she learns that her father may have been keeping secrets from her, secrets that could change Maeve’s life, she’s determined to follow the trail and discover the truth, no matter what it may lead to.

Review:

The other day, I was in the mood for a good mystery, one that would capture me from the very first page and that I’d want to read in one sitting. I enjoyed the first book in Barbieri’s Maeve Conlon series, so picking this up seemed like a sure thing, and I’m glad to say my instinct was right. Barbieri pulled me right back into Maeve’s world, and I raced through this novel, eager to see where Maeve ended up.

Can you pick Lies that Bind up if you haven’t read the first in the series? Yes, definitely. I appreciated that Barbieri made her book stand on its own; I read enough such that the details of books often fade, and if the author is relying on me to remember 100% of the nuances of the story of a previous book, well, I’m usually somewhat lost. Not only did Barbieri write an excellent thriller that can stand alone, but she didn’t ruin the ending of the first book. This means you can easily read this novel, and then go back and read Once Upon a Lie if you wish.

Maeve’s a great character who’s a bit of an enigma in Lies that Bind. Does she always make the best decisions? No. She’s a bit of an absent parent, and her priorities don’t always make sense. But Maeve’s compulsive personality is part of her charm. She has to see things through, no matter what happens, and oftentimes the cost is dear. It’s interesting to watch the different threads of this novel come together to make Maeve’s already difficult life even more complicated.

Want a great series of novels featuring a strong, but imperfect and messy, woman? Then Maggie Barbieri is who you should be reading. Barbieri expertly balances plot and character, making these quiet and contemplative mystery novels. I enjoyed these first two books and am very much looking forward to what comes next.

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The 2015 Pen/Faulkner Awards

This Saturday, at 7 PM, the Pen/Faulkner awards ceremony and dinner will take place at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. Being the fancy book ladies that we are, Book Riot Managing Editor Amanda Nelson and I will be in attendance. Pen/Faulkner puts on amazing events and focuses on diverse authors, so I’m a huge fan of what they do and am really excited to attend.

If you are in the DC area and would like to be a fancy book person along with Amanda and me, you can purchase tickets to the Pen/Faulkner awards at their website. It should be a pretty great time!

Book Review: Undeniable – Bill Nye

undeniable-bill-nyeTitle: Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation
Author: Bill Nye
ISBN: 9781250007131
Pages: 320
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Nonfiction, Science
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

In this book, Bill Nye discusses the ins and outs of evolution.

Review:

I grew up watching Bill Nye, the Science Guy. I’ve followed him through my adult life. I followed the Bill Nye–Ken Ham debate on Evolution vs. Creationism. It’s not a surprise, then, that Nye’s book, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation went to the top of my list when it released in November. It took me awhile to get to it, but when I finally did it was absolutely and completely worth the wait.

Anyone who’s familiar with Bill Nye knows his style. He explains difficult concepts in a clear and breezy way, with a healthy sense of humor attached. He brings that to Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation. This book is about science, from beginning to end, yet it is always completely fascinating. What I appreciate most about this book is that it’s a great introduction to evolution for people who only know the basics. Nye gets into the nitty gritty of evolution, explaining how it works and why. He doesn’t treat the reader like an idiot, but also recognizes that these concepts can be difficult. It’s a delicate balance, but Nye’s had years of practice getting it just right.

One aspect of Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation that I found interesting is that Nye isn’t really interested in having a dialogue about Creationism. He’s done that already, in his debate with Ken Ham. He absolutely wants to address evolution with both people who believe in Creationism and people who don’t, but his goal isn’t to debate the specific merits of one versus the other. No, this is a book about evolution, first and foremost. The title of the book, Undeniable, says it all.

I love science-y books that are written in a pop culture sort of way, so Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation was pretty much perfect for me. It’s definitely an intriguing, thoughtful read that had a lot of humor and warmth mixed in–a perfect balance!

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Book Review: Meet Me in Atlantis – Mark Adams

meet-me-in-atlantisTitle: Meet Me in Atlantis: My Obsessive Quest to Find the Sunken City
Author: Mark Adams
ISBN: 9780525953708
Pages: 320
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Nonfiction, Travel, History
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

Fascinated by the Atlantis legend, and the current work being done to locate the famous lost city, Mark Adams traveled around the world to meet the people advocating different theories on the locations of Atlantis, to learn about the sites that are purported to be Atlantis, and above all, to understand what Atlantis means on a personal level to both himself and the world around him.

Review:

Atlantis. Just the name evokes thoughts and feelings, a mythical lost city, perhaps the most famous city of all time. But did it ever exist? And if so, where was it? That’s what Mark Adams sets out to discover once and for all in Meet Me in Atlantis.

Adams visits many different sites and speaks with countless people in Meet Me in Atlantis, and indeed the personalities flavor the book just as much as the stories do. He does a wonderful job conveying each of these people’s enthusiasm (or in some cases, distinct lack of enthusiasm) for the lost city. Adams really gets under each of their skin, telling us what Atlantis means to them: a source of hope, a hobby, a lifelong career. Each of these people is invested in the legend for one reason or another, and it’s really interesting to see Adams fall in love with the legend, to become invested in the outcome of his search, as the book progresses.

There’s also a huge travel and archaeology component to Meet Me in Atlantis, which is fascinating. Visiting each of these sites, hearing the stories behind them, seeing it through Adams’ eyes; it’s simply incredible. He lays out the evidence for each claim before going on to offer any refutations. I’m apparently a bit gullible, because with every site Adams visited, I became convinced that THIS was Atlantis, that he had actually found the lost city.

Adams is on a quest, plain and simple, but for what? Atlantis, yes, but the reader can be fairly sure he’s not going to find the lost city, in all its glory, at the end of this book. Atlantis is so rooted in myth as to have become something intangible; it’s the search itself that matters. It says something about us, about our need to hope and to dig and to give meaning to the things around us. All that is encapsulated in this wonderful, warm book; if you enjoy history, myth, travel, archaeology, or any combination of the former,  I can’t tell you how much you need to pick up this book.

Other books by Mark Adams:

Turn Right at Machu Picchu

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Where Have You BEEN?

Where have I been? What do you mean where have I been? No, seriously though. I know I haven’t been posting here much, and there’s a good reason for that. I started a new job at the beginning of February in a new-to-me industry, and there’s been a bit of a learning curve and a lot […]

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Book Review: Written in the Stars – Aisha Saeed

written-in-the-stars

Title: Written in the Stars Author: Aisha Saeed ISBN: 9780399171703 Pages: 304 Release Date: Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books Genre: Teen/YA, Cultural Fiction (South Asian) Source: Publisher Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Summary: Naila is a 17-year-old Pakistani American girl, living a life that may not be normal to outside eyes, but it’s normal to her. […]

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Book Review: The Interstellar Age – Jim Bell

interstellar-age

Title: The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission Author: Jim Bell ISBN: 9780525954323 Pages: 336 Release Date: February 24, 2015 Publisher: Dutton Genre: Nonfiction, Space/Science/NASA, History Source: Publisher Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Summary: The Voyager missions have been some of the most successful in NASA’s history. They began in 1977, but are still […]

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Book Review: The Buried Giant – Kazuo Ishiguro

the buried giant - kazuo ishiguro

Title: The Buried Giant Author: Kazuo Ishiguro ISBN: 9780307271037 Pages: 336 Release Date: March 3, 2015 Publisher: Knopf Genre: Literary Fiction Source: Publisher Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Summary: Axl and Beatrice are a happy elderly couple living in post-Roman Britain. But Axl notices there are things around them that don’t appear to be quite right. […]

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