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Book Reviews

Our patrons and what books they loved

(reviews in alpha order by author’s last name)

Would YOU like to submit a book review? Send an email to:  info@abbielibrary.org


Nemesis by Isaac Asimov is one of his later works and I think it speaks better to our time than his robot books which miss the mark about how robots would interact with modern society or his Foundation series which is set in the far future and describes an extremely unlikely galactic empire. Nemesis describes the discovery and exploration of a nearby world.  (In real life we just discovered that the closest star to our sun has an earthlike planet in its habitable zone making this a timely read.)  Asimov describes an intriguing intelligence which is entirely different from the “little green men” common in the genre. — Robert


My Grandmother Asked Me to Say She’s Sorry by Fredrick Backman

This novel was simply delightful yet thought provoking! The “almost eight-year-old” narrator, Elsa, took me inside her “almost awake” world through her Grandmother’s stories where it’s okay to be different. These tales and the delivery of her Grandmother’s letter give her courage, understanding and acceptance of individuals who are not so perfect. What a gift to leave her granddaughter and reader as well! Compassion, humor, love, loss, forgiveness and acceptance are just a few of the themes that I reflected upon in this humorous, yet tender story. —Dorothy


Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg

Although I have read this book before, I could not resist reading it again. Ms. Berg is a wonderful and prolific author and each of her books strike the chord that has us sighing, “Ah, yes. . . I know this.” But Talk Before Sleep is my favorite. It is the story of four disparate friends and the way they cope when one of them is dying of cancer. Even with their differences, they are true sisters filled with humor, despair, harsh language and joy. I highly recommend Ms. Berg’s other books also. —Harriet


Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlan

Both Mimi and her mother’s lives, reflect the adhesive nature of family and home. I found both to be independent women whose courageous choices shaped their future. Mimi realizes, like many of us do, that although we may spend years finding faults with our mothers, we wind up being very much like them anyway. Like Mimi, I also found “The Grays” by Mary McCarthy a memorable read, and will pick that up again for a second look, perhaps a look back. —Dorothy


Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein is excellent hard sci-fi.  If you enjoyed Andy Weir’s The Martian, I recommend you read this. Sandford and Ctein present a realistic picture of what first contact with alien intelligence might look like in this exciting adventure. —Robert



Welcome to the Universe by Neil de Grasse Tyson, Michael Strauss, and Richard Gott

This book provides an overview of our current understanding of astrophysics and our universe. In the first part Tyson and Strauss do an excellent job of describing our solar system, the lives of stars, and the search for life. Upon reading Tyson’s clear explanations I decided I should review this book. In the second part Strauss does pretty well at explaining the history of the universe and the galaxies we see in it. In the third and final part Gott attempts to explain the ramifications of Einstein’s theories of general and special relativity and the implications they have on the shape of the space time continuum. As someone who has advanced degrees in mathematics and has taken a graduate level course in topology I found this part difficult to understand. I think it would be completely beyond the scope of the average reader. I highly recommend the first part, the second part is a worthwhile continuation, but I cannot recommend the third part. — Robert 11/16


In a Different Key—The Story of Autism by John Donvan and Caren Zucker

This book covers all the developments in research and treatment of Autism, starting in the 1930s. Before retirement, I worked in Special Education for 30 years, so much of the material covered was familiar to me, and I did not expect to read it fully. However, it is so well organized and engagingly written that I did actually read it cover to cover. The authors tell the story of Autism through the experience of pioneers in research and treatment, specific families and their search for help and answers. As they follow the various theories, treatments, and controversies around the mysterious condition, the people involved are brought to life as truly interesting and engaging characters. —Cynthia


Dark Money by Jane Mayer, is a well researched and well written history of the rich and powerful families that have built the Radical Right into a force that has turned back the clock on social progress in this country.

The Koch brothers are not only the heart of that endeavor, their efforts greatly exceed those of everyone else, and for that reason they are at the center of this book. You’ll learn about their influence in killing progress on climate change, in helping warp the election system via the Citizen’s United decision, and their influence on virtually every important social and political struggle of the last forty years. The book reveals a network of front groups with an abundance of cash. Mayer shows exactly how the Koch brothers have all but succeeded in dismantling our once great democracy and promoted an ideology that puts profit ahead of human lives and the future of the planet.

If you feel as I do that this book is a worthwhile read, I’d like to recommend another well researched and written book. Although on a different topic, it is equally as eye opening as Dark Money, and is titled The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi. —Jeff



Lucy & Andy Neanderthal by Jeffrey Brown

Brandelwyn’s review:
I liked it.  My favorite part was when the cat jumped
on Andy’s butt. And the part where they outran the cave lion.
When they made stone tools the rock banged on his thumb.
And I liked the chapter “Meet” where they met some new people
(early humans).

I tried to crack a glass rock (obsidian) and it shattered all over the place.
That was fun!

Parent’s review:
A fun engaging story about Neanderthals.  Each chapter ends with
a quick science lesson about what historically happened in that chapter.

I recommend a brief safety lesson following the chapter on stone tool
making.  Perhaps a warning that chipped stone can hit your eyes and that
it is best done outside with supervision.  The converse unfortunately
happened to me.  11/16

Greek Myths

Brandelwyn’s review:
I liked the underworld.  Hades lived there.

I really liked when Cronus swallowed the stone wrapped in baby clothes.
Then he ate the magic herb that made him vomit Hades and Zeus and other

I liked when Perseus stole the Grey Sister’s eye.

Parent’s review:
This was an unabridged reading of D’Aularies’ Book of Greek Myths performed
by some big names (Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman, and others).

Brandelwyn definetly had some favorite chapters: The battle of the Titans,
the story of Perseus and Andromeda, Persephone and Hades.

The chapters read by Sidney Poitier were stunning.  Lots of emotion put
into powerful Zeus for example.  Matthew Broderick’s reading was a bit
lacking.  Can you picture Broderick as an Olympic god?  Not so much. 11/16


The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham

I have almost read all three books in the series and each time I read one it surprises me how different it is from the others and it is scary with mystery and cliffhangers. The book has

some very heart felt and tough characters Mr. Durham has a very cool style in writing and I really love his books. I bet if anybody who likes his kind of writing won’t be able to stop reading. — Elaina


A Time Apart by Diane Stanley is about a thirteen year old girl named Virginia(Ginny) Dorris, who has to move to England to her father’s living archaeology project when her mother gets cancer. Her father’s project is on the Iron Age, so Ginny has to live in a world where there is no modern appliances or technology. There she makes friends with a little five year old girl named Daisy, a boy named Corey, and many others. I really liked this book because you get to learn about the Iron Age a little bit and I think that you get to see Ginny grow up and understand things better.  She grows to understand her father’s reserve and stuck up behavior, she also comes to understand her parents divorce, her mother’s dream of a childhood.  — Lily

Some other books I’ve read and liked are:

Chinese Cinderella and the Secret Dragon Society -Adeline Yen Mah

Along The River (the sequel to the book above this one)

Magk (The 1st book in the Septimus Heap series. A series which you should read) – Angie Sage

Boston Jane – Jennifer L. Holm