MADreads

A review of The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok

Mira Bartok was born Myra Herr. She changed her name in order to escape from her deeply mentally ill mother. And that’s what this memoir is about. To tell her story, Mira starts at the end-- bedside as her mother is dying in hospice (and still schizophrenic.) For over 17 years Mira had not seen or spoken to her mother. And quite quickly in the narrative we find that her childhood was bad. But the reader doesn’t know exactly what led to this level of disconnect between Mira and her mother ...read more

Reviewed by Liz - Central Library on
December 10, 2012 | 0 comments
A review of Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I could not put this book down--it was an engrossing, emotional rollercoaster ride. Ten-year-old August (Auggie), is going to school for the very first time after being homeschooled by his mother. He is apprehensive about entering the 5th grade because of the way he looks. Auggie was born with severe facial deformities that have required extensive surgeries, but he still doesn’t look “normal.” At one point, Auggie says, “I won’t describe what I look like.  Whatever you are thinking, it’s ...read more

Reviewed by Lesley K on
December 7, 2012 | 1 comment
A review of Grace Grows by Shelle Sumners

Grace Grows is an extremely apt title for Shelle Sumners' lovely new novel. I came into this thinking it was one thing; light, gal-in-the-city, chick-lit. But instead got an angsty, witty, emotional read that really grew on me. Just as Grace grew between the pages. Grace Barnum thinks she has her life pretty figured out. She has a good job editing educational textbooks (even if she occasionally gets frustrated by the politics of the process - you'd be surprised), she has a solid ...read more

Reviewed by Jane J on
December 6, 2012 | 0 comments
A review of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

I'm not super into dragons and I probably never will be. But Clay Jannon, the new clerk at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore in San Francisco, was obsessed with them in 6th grade and developed his most enduring relationship because of them. Clay and his best friend Neel bonded over the "The Dragon-Song Chronicles" and have remained tight ever since. "The Dragon-Song Chronicles" are referenced over and over again and ultimately help solve the puzzle that is this book, but you do not need to know ...read more

Reviewed by Molly - Central on
December 5, 2012 | 0 comments
A review of Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

A cliff top factory deep in the Norwegian wilderness. A beautiful, isolated ranch deep in the New Mexico wilderness that suddenly becomes a hub of government activity. Clandestine meetings, secret messages in invisible ink, scientists disappearing to points unknown on secret missions. It sounds like it could be a mid-seventies James Bond film, but all of these elements can be found in the remarkable story of the world’s most dangerous weapon—the atomic bomb. In his history of one of the ...read more

Reviewed by Katie H. on
December 4, 2012 | 1 comment
A review of Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard

The Central Library book group met last week to discuss Candice Millard's 'duel biography' Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President. To a person, it was much appreciated. Mainly the book covers the lead-up to James Garfield taking office as president and his assassination. More broadly, however, it is a window into a time not-so-long ago in some ways (130 years) that was both quite similar in some respects and shockingly different in others. ...read more

Reviewed by Liz - Central Library on
December 3, 2012 | 0 comments
A review of Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

I'm a huge fan of Oliver Jeffers' illustrations and stories, so when I noticed this on the shelf, I had to take a look. Jeffers again comes through with a laugh-out-loud story about a boy whose kite gets stuck in a tree. As the boy attempts to get the kite out, he throws everything at the tree, including the kitchen sink... although the kitchen sink is really just the beginning! This is a ridiculously silly and funny book that adults and kids will both love. I think I've actually found my new ...read more

Reviewed by Trent on
November 30, 2012 | 0 comments
A review of Where the Bodies are Buried by Christopher Brookmyre

"Detective Catherine McLeod was always taught that in Glasgow, they don't do whodunit. They do score-settling. They do vendettas. They do petty revenge. They do can't-miss-whodunit. It's a lesson that has served her well, but Glasgow is also a dangerous place to make assumptions." This description of Brookmyre's book captures the tone of his new series perfectly. Gritty with a touch of very dark humor and a very strong sense of the less touristy parts of Glasgow. Catherine McLeod is ...read more

Reviewed by Jane J on
November 29, 2012 | 0 comments
Year End Best Lists As 2012 winds down the evaluations begin. Just what were the best, most notable, most popular books of 2012? Everyone has an opinion. Take a look at some of these lists and see what you think. New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2012Amazon's Best Books of ...read more

Reviewed by Jane J on
November 28, 2012 | 0 comments
A review of Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral

"Chopsticks" pretty much sums it up for me, with Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" coming in a close second. There's something about the repetitiveness of "Chopsticks" that echoes lunacy. When I realized that Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral's unusual teen mad romance utilizes this waltz to demonstrate how the main character, a piano prodigy, is careening off course, I immediately understood. No more words required. The name of this instantly recognizable tune conveys the message loud and ...read more

Reviewed by Molly - Central on
November 27, 2012 | 2 comments
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