Latest Reviews

smarter than you think - clive thompson
neutrino hunters cover
Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins
one-step-too-far-tina-seskis
sculptor-scott-mccloud

Book Review: Hush, Hush – Laura Lippman

hush-hush-laura-lippmanTitle: Hush Hush
Author: Laura Lippman
ISBN: 9780062083425
Pages: 320
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Mystery
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

Tess Monaghan is at her wits’ end. She loves her daughter, but can barely keep up with the busy schedule of being a working mom, not to mention the extra bills that are coming her way. As a result, she takes a case she wouldn’t normally be interested in: A controversial woman, Melisandre, with a past has returned home to reunite with her estranged family, and Tess has been asked by her friend and mentor Tyner to evaluate her security. As Tess digs deeper into Melisandre’s past, she discovers things that intrigue and disturb her and begins to wonder about the complexities of motherhood.

Review:

Let’s start with this: If you haven’t read a Tess Monaghan novel, then Hush Hush probably isn’t the place to start. This is a complex series, full of interweaving characters and plots. Can this novel stand alone? Yes, probably. You can get the story, be horrified by Melisandre’s antics, wonder about the truth behind the central plot, and all in all enjoy the book. And if that niggling feeling that you’re actually missing a lot of the story doesn’t bother you, than you should do that. But as a person who enjoys the richness of characters built over multiple books, who likes seeing how Tess is coping with motherhood after years of waffling commitment to Crow, who has hungered for a another installment in this series, forced to be content with tantalizing glimpses of Tess in Monaghan’s other novels, I’d say that this book needs to be appreciated as part of the larger series it has a home within.

Clearly, I’m a huge Tess Monaghan (and Laura Lippman) fan. So now the question becomes: Was Hush Hush worth the wait? My answer is definitely a yes. It’s never a doubt that Lippman is going to do a great job with her characters, taking them in fresh and unexpected directions, and of course she does that in this novel. But the real fascination of this book is in Melisandre; in her thoughts, actions, and the truth behind what she did all those years ago.

Through Melisandre, Lippman turns Hush Hush into a psychological novel. I hesitate to call it a thriller, because the Tess novels have always had a laid back vibe, one that this book shares. That’s a good thing; it allows Lippman to take her time unfolding Tess’s discoveries, while also focusing on secondary characters and storylines. But the narrative always comes back to this mysterious woman. What hold does she have over Tyner? What is she really doing back in Baltimore?

If you’ve been a fan of Tess Monaghan’s for as long as I have, don’t hesitate to pick up Hush Hush; it will, as always, leave you clamoring for more, but Lippman’s written a great novel here. It’s an entertaining, suspenseful read that leaves thought-provoking questions in its wake. If your book club doesn’t mind missing out on some character development, the juxtaposition between Tess and Melisandre would make for a great and poignant discussion on motherhood.

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Book Review: Smarter than You Think – Clive Thompson

smarter than you think - clive thompsonTitle: Smarter than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better
Author: Clive Thompson
ISBN: 9780143125822
Pages: 352
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Nonfiction, Social/Psychological Studies
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

Is technology changing the way we think? The answer is most certainly yes, but most people would bemoan that technology is, in fact, making us dumber, more reliant on our smartphones than our own brains. But Clive Thompson argues the opposite: that technology actually makes us smarter, more productive, and more creative.

Review:

It’s easy to fear that technology is, in fact, making us dumber. I know I’m not the only one who can’t really remember what I did before I could just Google something. Relying on my smartphone means I’ve stored less in my brain, I worry. But is that actually what it means? Clive Thompson (thankfully) says no.

Thompson makes some very good points in Smarter than You Think, but there’s one that has stood out to me, that I always tell people when I recommend the book to them (and I’ve been doing a lot of that lately; this is absolutely a book worth reading) is Thompson’s example of the invention of writing. When writing was first invented, and people stopped having to remember so much, the way they thought changed. Writing became a tool they could use, but it didn’t make them less smart. It just changed the way they think. Just like that, technology doesn’t think for us; it’s a tool we use that has changed the way we think.

The examples and anecdotes provided in Smarter than You Think are fascinating. This is a short read, packed to the brim with interesting information. From epic computer–human chess matches (with surprising results) to people who record every second of their lives, Thompson takes the reader through how technology is making us better, smarter, and more productive. It’s well-written, with an engaging narrative that readers will really become invested in. His results are surprising, often delightful, and the conversational tone keeps the story from ever becoming dry. If you enjoy reading about how we think, a subject I’ve been reading about more and more frequently, (or perhaps just worry that technology has made you dumber) this book is a must-read.

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Book Review: Neutrino Hunters – Ray Jawardhana

neutrino hunters coverTitle: Neutrino Hunters: The Thrilling Chase for a Ghostly Particle to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Ray Jawardhana
ISBN: 9780374220631
Pages: 256
Release Date: December 10, 2013
Publisher: Scientific American / Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Genre: Nonfiction, Science, History
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

In this history, astrophysicist and historian Ray Jawardhana traces the  hunt for the elusive particle known as the neutrino.

Review:

It seems strange to called a nonfiction work about science a “thriller,” and yet Ray Jawardhana accomplishes exactly that with his book about the neutrino. Scientists throughout modern history have chased this particle, trying to pin it down, and Jawardhana manages to tell their stories with suspense, keeping the reader hooked on the tale and looking forward to what’s coming next.

Neutrino Hunters features a lot of science, but Jawardhana does a great job breaking it down and explaining it in an easily digestible way. Not only that, but because of his focus on the scientists just as much as the science, the reader gets a balanced read, full of personalities and interesting figures as much as hard science. Jawardhana also does a great job setting his scenes in Neutrino Hunters, using vivid descriptions to really bring the settings to life.

If you enjoy scientific history as much as I do, then Neutrino Hunters should absolutely be on your list. Jawardhana is a talented writer, and he writes very well for the lay person, making concepts accessible and interesting, while managing to flesh out his book with an entertaining narrative that keeps readers invested. This was a great, suspenseful read that I highly recommend. If you aren’t a science reader normally, this is also a good starting point, as the science isn’t too complicated, and it’s just as much about the people as it is the concepts.

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Book Review: The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

Girl on the Train - Paula HawkinsTitle: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
ISBN: 9781594633669
Pages: 336
Release Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

Rachel is a pretty big mess. She doesn’t have a job anymore because of her drinking, but she still takes the train into London every morning because she doesn’t want to admit this to her roommate. On the trip, she passes by a row of homes, and she’s begun to imagine she knows the inhabitants of one particular home—a “perfect” couple she nicknames Jess and Jason. But when Rachel wakes up bruised and broken with little memory of the previous night, she begins to wonder whether what she experienced is connected to something fateful that has happened to this perfect couple.

Review:

The Girl on the Train seems to be the book everyone is talking about. They’re calling it the new Gone Girl and it’s been getting so much hype. So, the question is, does it live up to what everyone is saying about it?? It’s a thrilling, entertaining, compulsive novel, and while I don’t like the Gone Girl comparison (simply because I feel that creates unrealistic expectations), I found this book well-written and fascinating.

Rachel is not a likable character in The Girl on the Train. If you need your characters to be sympathetic and likeable, well, keep on moving. This is not a book for you. Rachel is a complete and utter mess. She’s an alcoholic, she’s dealing with the emotional situation of a failed marriage, a failed career, and perhaps a failed housing situation, and she doesn’t know what to do anymore. The one constant she has in her life is this couple, Jess and Jason.

Rachel’s obsession with this couple and the situation surrounding them in The Girl on the Train is more than a little creepy. If you take a step back and think about where she’s coming from, it’s understandable, but it’s not healthy at all. This is one of those novels where you’ll find yourself wanting to reach through the pages and physically restrain Rachel from doing what you know is coming. It’s great, because she’s infuriating and pathetic and makes horribly bad decisions, but the reader is completely and utterly invested in her story. It’s a fine line to walk and Hawkins does it very very well.

So, if you enjoy psychological thrillers, then Girl on the Train should absolutely be on your list. It’s a book people will probably be talking about for awhile, and for good reason. It’s compelling and compulsive, and even when you hate everything that’s happening, you just won’t be able to put it down.

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Book Review: One Step Too Far – Tina Seskis

one-step-too-far-tina-seskis

Title: One Step Too Far Author: Tina Seskis ISBN: 9780062340078 Pages: 304 Release Date: January 27, 2015 Publisher: William Morrow Genre: Psychological Thriller Source: Publisher Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Summary: Cat has buried her past, so deep that she hopes no one will ever unearth it. No one in her current life would know that, not too long ago, she […]

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Book Review: The Sculptor – Scott McCloud

sculptor-scott-mccloud

Title: The Sculptor Author: Scott McCloud ISBN: 9781596435735 Pages: 496 Release Date: February 3, 2015 Publisher: First Second Genre: Comics, Contemporary Fiction Source: Publisher Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Summary: David Smith is a sculptor, but he hasn’t been able to catch a break and he feels like his chance is slipping away. He makes a […]

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Book Review: The Immortals of Meluha – Amish Tripathi

immortal of meluha - amish

Title: The Immortals of Meluha Author: Amish Tripathi ISBN: 9781623651435 Pages: 448 Release Date: December 2, 2014 Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books Genre: Historical Fantasy Source: Publisher Rating: 4 out of 5 Summary: The year is 1900 BC and the idyllic empire of Meluha, located in India, is under siege. The Suryavanshis, the rulers of the land, aren’t sure […]

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Book Review: The Other Wes Moore – Wes Moore

other wes moore - wes moore

Title: The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates Author: Wes Moore ISBN: 9780385528191 Hours: 6 Hours, 12 minutes / Pages: 256 Release Date: Publisher: Audio: Random House Audio / Print: Spiegel & Grau Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir Source: Personal Copy Rating: 4 out of 5 Summary: Wes Moore is a White House fellow and a Rhodes scholar […]

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