Soul Circus, By George P Pelecanos

soul.jpgMost people know how much I love HBO’s The Wire (watch it, love it, then watch it again), and Pelecanos wrote a few episodes for the show. I’ve never thought I would like hard-boiled crime fiction, but his stuff is fantastic. You find empathy for the characters, even the street-level bangers who are in a situation they just don’t know how to get out of (another theme of “The Wire”). His main character, private investigator Derek Strange, is a terrific, complicated character to build a series around. The themes of one book are similar to the next, but the characters are so well-written, and the urban setting is so descriptive and well-established, you feel like he’s writing pure poetry of the streets. I can’t wait to read more of his novels.

4 out of 4 Stars

Reviewed By: Erin Payton, Library Services

Lost Cosmonaut, By Daniel Kalder

lost-cosmo.jpgDaniel Kalder, a young travel author, takes comfort in the dilapidated state of the countries and republics that he visits throughout Lost Cosmonaut. He can be a bit abrasive, but it makes for interesting reading! For every time he offended my delicate sensibilities (not really, though) he also taught me something new about places I had never even heard of before picking up this book.

One thing I learned: The president of Kalmykia is the youngest president of a free republic in the world, he’s 30 years old. He spends a third of their national budget on their soccer team and posts billboards featuring pictures from his many photo-ops with international leaders and celebrities. Lucky for us, Kalder includes pictures of said billboards to prove it. Alongside his discussion of the current situation, Kalder also lays out the distant history of each country to give some perspective as to how it got that way.

Again, he has a penchant for making fun of the places he visits, but also takes the time to research them and bring to light how they got that way. I respect that and am glad he took the time to be a tourist in such unpopular places. I’d say this book is a keeper.

4 out of 4 Stars

Reviewed By: Steve Osler, Library Services

Eat, Pray, Love, By Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat Pray LoveI’ve had several friends recommend this book to me. I’ve had several co-workers say they enjoyed the book. But for whatever reason I was not enthusiastic about the book. A friend of mine said you must read this book and gave it to me for Christmas. In February I read the book and then my book club said they were going to read it in March. WIT LIT met last night at Park Road Books in Park Road Shopping Center.

Elizabeth Gilbert found herself very unhappy in her marriage in her early thirties. She decided to divorce her husband and spent a year traveling. She spent 4 months in Italy, 4 months in India, and 4 months in Bali. She spent her time in Italy eating good food, she spent her time in India praying, and in Bali she found Love, hence the title of the book. It was interesting that when I was reading the book my favorite part was Italy, but when we were discussing the book last night my favorite part was India. I still have mixed feelings about Bali. I did enjoy the book, I’m glad I read it, but I found the book uneven.

3 out of 4 Stars

Reviewed By: Anne Egger, Library Services

How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk, By John Van Epp

How to Avoid Marrying a JerkA terrific book for dating singles–I learned a lot! Basically all the bad relationships a person has have one thing in common–that person. Dr. Van Epp’s book has a terrific scale that determines how to find a good partner, how to break bad habits of past relationships, and how to really see a bad partner for who they are, and not who you want them to be. The book gives you the tools you need to judge your partner’s character based on compatibility, relationship skills, friends, and patterns from family and previous relationships. I wish I’d read it ten years ago!

4 Out of 4 Stars

Reviewed By: Erin Payton, Library Services

Kept, By D. J. Taylor

I had requested this book through the Public Library. I got halfway through the book and knew I wouldn’t finish before it was time to return it, so I went to Border’s and purchased it. This book is set during the Victorian period. There are several mysteries involved in this book. I was really impressed by the writing, the characters, and the different layers of the stories. The characters stay with you and you wonder how they are doing. This is not only a wonderful book, but a piece of literature.

4 Out of 4 Stars

Reviewed By: Anne Egger, Library Services

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, By J.K. Rowling

It seemed Book 7 would never get here! Would Harry die? Was Snape good or bad? I had to know. I wanted to read it, but I didn’t want to pay for it. The library has two copies. I tried very hard not to bug Martha Taylor. I feel the book is too long. I feel it dragged quite a bit in the beginning. It really does not get off the ground until half way through. I only cried for one character who I felt was a faithful servant. I was quite happy to see one character be vindicated. I really enjoyed the epilogue. I don’t think it is her best. My favorite is Book 1. But I thank J. K. Rowling for creating a world and characters I was truly fond of.

3 Out of 4 Stars

Reviewed By: Anne Egger, Library Services

In an Instant, By Bob and Lee Woodruff

I am still upset Peter Jennings is dead. How could he do this to me? Who can I now trust to tell me the truth? ABC News went without a regular anchor for quite a while. Then David Westin decided to make Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff co-anchors of ABC Nightly News. The idea was that one of the co-anchors would be reporting from the field as much as possible. On January 29, 2006 Bob Woodruff was supposed to be reporting from Iraq. A homemade bomb exploded on the road he was traveling on. The bomb caused major damage to his brain. Bob Woodruff should not be alive. He should not be able to go back to work. He is alive and he is back at work. This book was written by both Bob and his wife Lee. It is a remarkable book about their love for each other. The amount of love and support Bob got was remarkable, his own will to live was remarkable. Yet, without a doubt the smartest thing Bob Woodruff ever did was to marry Lee. She is a remarkable woman who held together her family and her marriage in extraordinary circumstances.

3 out of 4 Stars

Reviewed By: Anne Egger, Library Services