Winter Tales Book Reviews

Looking for reading inspiration? Check out these book reviews submitted as part of our Winter Tales winter reading program.

Winter Tales

 

 

*Reviews are published as submitted by the author. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of East Central Regional Library. In the spirit of community, ECRL reserves the right to not post reviews that contain: profanity or hate speech, advertisements or solicitation, deceptive or misleading, specific endorsement or non-endorsement of candidates or issues or partisan statements. Thank you.

 

1) Book Title: The Unhoneymooners

Author: Christina Lauren

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: Minnesota based story. Fun and lighthearted read. Great Characters.

 

2) Book Title: Defy

Author: Sara Larson

Rating: 4 – Fresh Lingonberry Jam

Review: Good read. Looking forward to reading next book in series.

 

3) Book Title: Without a Trace

Author: Colleen Coble

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: How long would you look for a husband and child, if you knew they crashed in the mountains? Would you let others tell you to stop looking? A young mother of a 3 year old uses her K-9 tracking skills to find her son & husband. Great read.

 

4) Book Title: Fair Play

Author: Eve Rodsky

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: Nonfiction book on the “fair” division of household chores and responsibilities. Great book that outlines how to organize your home life so both you and your partner are less stressed and more organized. As I read thru the book I kept thinking things like, “This is my life! This is exactly why I’m stressed! She is speaking directly about my life!”

Witty, funny, engaging with practical applications to improve your life, especially when you are busy with children, jobs and life activities. Look forward to implementing her “rules.”

 

5) Book Title: Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off my Parents

Author: Zac Bissonnette

Rating: 3 – Tolerable (like a trip to IKEA)

Review: I went back and forth on what rating I should give this book. Zac Bissonnette writes well and explained his opinions in a very readable and thorough way. I did not, however, agree with all of his opinions. His belief that all colleges are equal in the education they provide is absurd. Overlooking that, I was able to enjoy the other aspects of his book that focused on real and practical advice for keeping the cost of college manageable.

 

6) Book Title: Candide

Author: Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire

Rating: 4 – Fresh Lingonberry Jam

Review: I thought Candide was a very enjoyable book; I wonder why it took me so long to read it. When thinking about classics, “funny” and “quick read” don’t often come to mind, but both were true for Candide. I read the Easton Press edition with illustrations by Sylvain Sauvage. They fit the book perfectly. I’ll be recommending this book to others, especially those who want to start reading classics.

 

7) Book Title: Rules of a Godly Life

Author: Anonymous

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: I really love this book. I don’t recall how it came into my life, but I’m so glad it did. It was written in the early 18th century as a guide for Christian living. Today, it is mainly used by the Amish. I wish more people would read and use it, though. The 47 proverbs that make up this book are just as important for Christians today as they were 300 years ago.

 

8) Book Title: Unspeakable Things

Author: Jess Lourey

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: The Jacob Wetterling story was the inspiration for this book, so I was uncomfortable with starting it. But, I love Jess Lourey books and it was free from Amazon Prime, so I gave it a try. I’m glad I did. It’s a compelling story from the eyes of a pre-teen girl in a small town where boys seemed to be getting abused. Finding adults that would believe the kids and the events around them made it an interesting read.

 

9) Book Title: One of Us is Next

Author: Karen M. McManus

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: “One of us is Next” is the brand new sequel to “One of us is Lying.” Both novels are murder mysteries that will keep you guessing right up until the very end.

The premise of murder is edgy enough to keep you quickly page turning through the novel but is grounded enough to be very believable and relatable, which just makes “One of us is Next” that much more engaging.

Summary from Goodreads:
A ton of copycat gossip apps have popped up since Simon died, but in the year since the Bayview four were cleared of his shocking death, no one’s been able to fill the gossip void quite like he could. The problem is no one has the facts.

I recommend this novel to fans of “Truly Devious” by Maureen Johnson.

 

10) Book Title: The Lager Queen of Minnesota

Author: J. Ryan Stradal

Rating: 2 – Cardboard Lefse

Review: **Spoilers**This book was the January selection for my book club. I generously gave it 2 out of 5 stars. The writing needed work. There were several problems with the story I felt a better writer would not have had. For example, one of the main characters states she knew her husband liked her new boss because he always remembered her name (despite his having Alzheimer’s). Anyone who has witnessed someone they know deal with Alzheimer’s knows their problems with recall have nothing to do with whether or not they like someone. Many problems also stood out in the storyline dealing with a teenage girl’s experiences with theft. She chooses to steal high-end power tools with no explanation of how, exactly, a teenage girl would know which brands of power tools were high end. She also flees her burglaries on foot, storing the items in a backpack with a hard hat. Power tools are heavy and can be big. This girl would only be able to steal one or two power tools at a time and yet was able to make thousands of dollars selling them in just a few months. When she was caught by a future boyfriend’s mother, the mother failed to recognize her just a short time later. This episode also had a Minnesota woman warming up her car in a closed garage (something a woman in Minnesota would never do because it would cause the house to fill with carbon monoxide). The entire book set-up a reunion which fell flat when it finally commenced. My conclusion: the story needs work; you can skip this one.

 

11) Book Title: The Map Thief

Author: Michael Blanding

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: This is a fascinating look at the rarified world of map collectors and map dealers. While chronicling the rise and fall of a well-respected dealer who succumbed to stealing and defacing maps to support his expensive lifestyle, we are also treated to the history of maps and the explorers/artists who admired and created them. In addition, the writer explores how maps helped fuel the past five centuries of discovery.

 

12) Book Title: You, Me, and the Sea

Author: Meg Donahue

Rating: 3 – Tolerable (like a trip to IKEA)

Review: Touted as a “modern take on Wuthering Heights,” I would have to say Wuthering Heights Lite, at best. It’s a romance novel best suited for a read on the beach, a some what pleasant tale, unrealistic but it has its place as a love story for those who like the idea of soul mates and the attraction of the ocean-side setting of northern California.

 

13) Book Title: After the Flood

Author: Kassandra Montag

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: Post-apocalyptic story that grabs you by the throat and does NOT let go until the surprising conclusion.

Mother and daughter (on a boat in a watery world) search for the eldest daughter who was taken many years earlier by her father. Action, adventure, realistic-can totally imagine this happening!!!!

Do not start before bedtime unless you do not want to sleep because you are reading this book!

 

14) Book Title: To Obama, With Love, Joy, Anger, and Hope

Author: Jeanne Marie Laskas

Rating: 4 – Fresh Lingonberry Jam

Review: I am so glad I read this book. Reading letters various Americans sent President Obama during his 8 years in office was a powerful reminder of the troubles our nation faced during that time. It was also a powerful reminder of the amazing man we had guiding us through it all. His thoughtfulness, kindness, and unending desire to serve was displayed again and again in the letters he wrote in response to praise, criticism, and cries for help.

 

15) Book Title: The Importance of Being Earnest

Author: Oscar Wilde

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: After reading this play for her Honors English class, my daughter insisted I read it as well. It was intelligent and hilariously funny. A very quick read, but none-the-less charming in its wit. This would be a great choice of play for anyone to read, but especially those who don’t consider plays their type of reading material.

 

16) Book Title: The Guardians

Author: John Grisham

Rating: 4 – Fresh Lingonberry Jam

Review: This was one of Grisham’s best, involving a non-profit group (Guardian Ministries) that works to free innocent prisoners. The underpaid lawyers work hard and sometimes in life-threatening situations to find evidence that rule in favor of the wrongly accused. It was heartwarming to read of innocent people finally being freed after many years serving time in prison. Good characterization and well-written. Loosely based on a real story.

 

17) Book Title: Salt To The Sea

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: This is a historical fiction novel based on Operation Hannibal. This was an effort during WWII to bring German civilians and military personnel to safety from Prussia to German-Occupied Denmark and Germany and out of the threat of the Russian Army. Each chapter is told from the vantage point of a character. I found myself cheering for some and disliking others. It was a great page-turner of a very important historical event I had not known about previously.

 

18) Book Title: Call of the Wild

Author: Jack London

Rating: 4 – Fresh Lingonberry Jam

Review: A classic tale told from the perspective of Buck, a dog forced to come to terms with the wild Alaskan-Yukon wilderness and his own ancestral wildness. After touring the Gold Rush Trail from Skagway, Alaska to Dawson City, Yukon, this past August, the book took on a deeper meaning for me with the setting being just that. The cruelty of man’s greed and nature’s fury drive an easy-going domestic ranch dog down the path of survival of the fittest and an ultimate choice. Read this classic again, “for the first time.”

 

19) Book Title: Little Lovely Things

Author: Maureen Joyce Connolly

Rating: 4 – Fresh Lingonberry Jam

Review: I decided to give this book a rating of “Fresh Lingonberry Jam” instead of “Swedish Meatballs” because I had some unanswered questions after reading it. It was a really good read– hard to put down– it just left me wanting more. BUT, maybe that’s a good thing and there’ll be a second book to follow! I would recommend it to a friend.

 

20) Book Title: Bound For Oregon

Author: Jean Van Leeuwen

Rating: 4 – Fresh Lingonberry Jam

Review: This story reminds me of the Little House on the Prairie books. It was a great book for a family read aloud!

 

21) Book Title: Night

Author: Elie Wiesel

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: Elie Wiesel’s story begins where Anne Frank’s ended. He is a 15-year-old boy taking you along as a witness to his experiences during the Holocaust. In Night he tells of his family’s forced move into the Jewish ghetto, the awfulness of the train ride they endured, and the horrors of the concentration camp. It is a difficult book to read, and because of its difficulty, necessary to read.

 

22) Book Title: Controlling Vice, Regulating Brother Prostitution in St. Paul, 1865 – 1883

Author: Joel Best

Rating: 1 – Lutefisk Gone Bad

Review: Arghh. He make it sound as if being a sex worker in 19th century St. Paul was a reasonable occupational choice. This is a fine example of why good research of both the hard and soft sciences are tested by peer research. Certainly he could have spent some time reviewing records of the U.S. Census or the well compiled records easily accessed at the Minnesota Historical Society. I think I may have learned almost as much truth about the brothels in St. Paul at that time by reading Swede Hollow by Ola Larsma last week.

 

23) Book Title: Coya Come Home

Author: Gretchen Beito

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: If you think women have a hard time getting elected to political office today, imagine what it would be like in the 1950s! Coya Knutson, first female from Minnesota elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, overcame the odds in an admirable way, only to be defeated in her third run by the infamous “Coya Come Home,” letter, perceived to be written by her estranged husband, which reached a media frenzy beyond the shores of the USA. Despite rumor and gossip and the persistent “Women belong at home with husband and hearth” Coya persisted in her goals to help farmers, students and medical advances until she had to pack up her Washington, D.C. office and head out in another direction–not home!

 

24) Book Title: Lake Season

Author: Denise Hunter

Rating: 4 – Fresh Lingonberry Jam

Review: This was more than just a sappy romance; it had a mystery and the conclusion was very touching.

 

25) Book Title: The Story of Arthur Truluv

Author: Elizabeth Berg

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: I’ve always enjoyed Elizabeth Berg’s writing, and this novel did not disappoint. The story involves the unlikely friendship that develops between an elderly man and a troubled teen. The characters are engaging, and the plot is realistic but hopeful. I would recommend this book!

 

26) Book Title: Anxious for Nothing

Author: Max Lucado

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: I love this book. I’ve read it 3 times in the last year and a half. It provides the reminders I need to let go of my desire to control my world and trust in God to be in control. Max Lucado’s books are a gift.

 

27) Book Title: The Lost Brothers

Author: Jack El-Hai

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: This was a very well-written account of three young boys that went missing in 1951 from North Minneapolis and the hope that their parents held out of them coming home one day.

 

28) Book Title: The Dead Lands

Author: Benjamin Percy

Rating: 4 – Fresh Lingonberry Jam

Review: I would have loved to give this book the “Swedish Meatballs” rating BUT there were parts in the story that really could have been more developed. It was imaginative, held my interest, I couldn’t wait to pick it up each night, but I was left wanting more. More explanations, more depth, more closure.

 

29) Book Title: Where The Crawdads Sing

Author: Delia Owens

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: Great read! The author’s descriptive writing style made me feel like I was right there in the marsh with the main character, feeling the nature that surrounded her as well as her pain, loneliness, and hard-earned emotional growth.

 

30) Book Title: A Higher Call

Author: Adam Makos

Rating: 4 – Fresh Lingonberry Jam

Review: This is a true story of a WWII German fighter pilot who chose to escort a badly shot up American bomber plane out of Germany rather than shooting it down. The reader sees the war from an American view and also the German’s point of view. Any fan of flying or WWII stories will especially enjoy this book. It’s a heart warming reminder that we are all brothers and sisters in this world.

 

31) Book Title: Barack Obama: His Essential Wisdom

Author: Carol Kelly-Gangi

Rating: 4 – Fresh Lingonberry Jam

Review: It’s refreshing to read the words of a president and not be ashamed. Too often, lately, I feel disgust when our current president speaks. His absolute ignorance on every subject and bliss at spewing hatred is unrelenting. I needed to hear Obama’s intelligence, kindness, and inspiration more than I realized.

 

32) Book Title: Wuthering Heights

Author: Emily Bronte

Rating: 1 – Lutefisk Gone Bad

Review: This book wasn’t for me. If it was intended to be a romantic book about undying love, I didn’t feel that at all. Instead, it seemed like the story was about horribly selfish people doing awful things to each other. As I read it I kept thinking, “Why don’t these people move away from all of this misery?” The world is a big place; staying in an incredibly unhappy environment isn’t necessary.

 

33) Book Title: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Author: J.K. Rowling

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: Second reading of the classic Harry Potter series. Yes, it is still as good as the first read through : ) It is fun to compare the differences from the movie to the book.

 

34) Book Title: Bastards

Author: Mary Anna King

Rating: 5 -Swedish Meatballs

Review: It’s been a while since I’ve read a story like this– it was extremely hard for me to put down. Wow. What a story. I thought I was the only one that had a rough childhood. Mine was a cake-walk compared to this woman’s. It was a great read. Would highly recommend.

 

35) Book Title: Dreaming Spies

Author: Laurie R. King

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: It is a Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell suspense novel with many unexpected twists and a trip through part of Japan.

 

36) Book Title: Small Town Minnesota A-Z

Author: Tony Andersen

Rating: 3 – Tolerable (like a trip to IKEA)

Review: From the Minnesota Collection, this is an interesting book IF you live or are from one of the 26 towns featured. After a few towns one will have a sense of, “Haven’t I just read this?” as many of the histories and photos are so similar. Also, being written in 2000, it is a bit outdated.

 

37) Book Title: The Librarian of Auschwitz

Author: Antonio Iturbe

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: Heidi, the wonderful librarian in Pine City, recommended this book to me. It’s phenomenal. Based on the true story of Dita Krause, it tells of Dita’s experiences living in Terezin, Auschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen. As a fellow bibliophile, I sympathized with Dita’s emotional connection to the few books she comes across. The book, however, is so much bigger than her story as a librarian. It tells of the unimaginable conditions in a concentration camp. I’ve read several books about WWII and the holocaust, but this book leaves you with a deeper sense of the absolute suffering people went through. I think it’s a must-read.

 

38) Book Title: The Drop

Author: Dennis Lehane

Rating: 4 – Fresh Lingonberry Jam

Review: Not the type of book I’d normally read, but for the Winter Tales I thought I’d give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised. I found the characters to be really interesting as well as the plot. I thought the ending was a surprise- which to me makes for a good read. I would recommend this book. It’ll be interesting watching the movie. I hope it’s as good as the book.

 

39) Book Title: Happy Today: A Guided Journal to Genuine Joy

Author: Max Lucado

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: I thought this was an excellent book. Because it includes journaling, I wasn’t able to use it fully, but I did take notes. I loved the layout, the pictures, the scripture used, everything. I would definitely recommend this book!

 

40) Book Title: Copper River

Author: William Kent Krueger

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: Corcoran O’Connor mysteries continue in this “can’t put it down” episode. The familiarity of the northern Minnesota setting makes readers feel like insiders to the drama. Great book!

 

41) Book Title: The Girl in the Woods

Author: Camilla Lackberg

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: Lackberg’s 10th in her series based in Sweden did not disappoint! The tragedy of the murder of a 4-year old girl rocked the small community of Fjallbacka, so eerily similar to an incident 30 years prior. The 13-year-old girls who confessed to the old murder were both back in town when the current murder occurred–connection? Interspersed with the detailed detective work is a sad story that took place nearby in 1692, the heyday of witch trials. The personal stories of all the characters involved will capture your interest as well as the police procedural. Lackberg is a top-notch Scandinavian crime writer.

 

42) Book Title: The Alice Network

Author: Kate Quinn

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: Tells of the unsung valor of female spies during World War I. AND set 30 years later in post war Europe about one of them that survived and is facing her fears again. A great read for those who love historical fiction.

 

43) Book Title: Heartburn

Author: Nora Ephron

Rating: 4 – Fresh Lingonberry Jam

Review: This is a 1982 semi-autobiographical book by Nora Ephron about the collapse of a food writer’s second marriage. Although it sounds very depressing, Nora Ephron can make anything interesting and funny. It’s definitely worthy to read if you are a Nora fan. I listened to the audio book which was read by Meryl Streep which gave it a bit of intrigue. Then I found out that Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson starred in the 1986 Heartburn movie which I was very excited to watch because I adore her other movies. But…this movie was so bad! The book was written in just a way I could picture a Nora Ephron movie but the movie had none of the fun and wit that any of her other movies do. So read the book and skip the movie.

 

44) Book Title: The Way I Heard It

Author: Mike Rowe

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: I was a fan of Dirty Jobs and have listened to the Way I Heard It podcast for a couple of years now. This book collects the stories those podcasts are about as well as intertwining a memoir of the author’s life in between. I read the book in about a week.

 

45) Book Title: The River Murders

Author: James Patterson

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: James Patterson knows his audience. Fast pacing and characters the reader really cares about move a trio of crimes stories together into a cohesive read. I instantly felt comfortable with the cast of characters and believable tale.

 

46) Book Title: Vengeance Road

Author: Erin Bowman

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: I loved this book! It was very well written and even with the “western slang/accent,” it was easy to understand. I’ve read other westerns that have left me wondering, “What’d they say?” This is a Teen Fiction book but as an adult, I enjoyed it thoroughly. I would definitely recommend to an adult or teen– and if you need to read a western for the Winter Tales contest– this is a really good read.

 

47) Book Title: She Came to Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman

Author: Erica Armstrong Dunbar

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: WOW. I am SO glad I checked this book out. What a story of Harriet Tubman. I never knew very much about her and what an amazingly strong, resilient, brave woman she was. This is a must-read, especially if you’re a history buff. I would HIGHLY recommend.

 

48) Book Title: The Boy from C-11

Author: Harvey Ronglien

Rating: 4 – Fresh Lingonberry Jam

Review: While the writing was more conversational than eloquent, the content far made up for it. Ronglien’s memories of his time at the MN State School are an important glimpse into our state’s not so distant history – and the history of treatment toward dependent children. Harvey was clearly shaped by his experiences and his ability to simply state the positives and negatives of/from his time at the State School is admirable. This book is a must read for anyone who thinks our local social service system should return to an orphanage structure of care for children.

 

49) Book Title: Something Borrowed

Author: Emily Griffin

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: I really liked this book and found it to be better and more comprehensive than the movie. I am glad that the book expounds on two relationships that are very important to the story, but they were hardly mentioned in the movie so this made the book much, much better.

 

50) Book Title: Feared

Author: Lisa Scottoline

Rating: 4 – Fresh Lingonberry Jam

Review: This is another great installment in the Rosato & DiNunzio series. Scottoline is good at writing legal thrillers with quirky characters and a sense of family. It was a fast read with twists and a surprise at the end.

 

51) Book Title: The Great American Dust Bowl

Author: Don Brown

Rating: 4 – Fresh Lingonberry Jam

Review: I never thought I’d enjoy a graphic novel but this was really good. And I learned about a subject I had no idea about. It was nice to have pictures. What a great way to learn about history.

 

52) Book Title: Becoming

Author: Michelle Obama

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: Very interesting and well-written story of her life growing up in a working class family that valued education. I loved it!

 

53) Book Title: Troublemaker

Author: Leah Remini

Rating: 4 – Fresh Lingonberry Jam

Review: I found the book enlightening as far as an insight into Scientology and was appalled at some of her stories of her childhood, she however still speaks of it with respect when she references how it focuses upon improving oneself. It was a memorable read I won’t forget.

 

54) Book Title: The Twenty-Ninth Day

Author: Alex Messenger

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: Surviving a grizzly attack in the Canadian tundra sounded not too interesting – someone gets attacked by a bear and lives. But I dislike bears and wanted to read about surviving an attack. The book starts at the beginning of his month and a half adventure with five other men, one was their guide. Alex was 17 at the time, and would be starting his senior year in high school in the spring. The first 28 days of his memoir were about their trip on the rivers and lakes in their canoes/boats (the words are used interchangeably) and I skimmed over some of it. Then – the attack. The descriptions of caring for his wounds by the guide are very graphic. The guide was prepared for injuries, but not severe injuries from a bear. He has a satellite phone so was able to describe the injuries to them and do what he could.
I could not put the book down until I finished it the same day (night) I started it. Because of the graphic descriptions of the wound care, I would not recommend it for teens or younger.

 

55) Book Title: Cheshire Crossing

Author: Andy Weir

Rating: 3 – Tolerable (like a trip to IKEA)

Review: Not a fan of graphic novels, but this at least had an interesting storyline. Characters from The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan all come together in this tale.

 

56) Book Title: The Child Finder

Author: Rene Denfeld

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: I love page-turners like this book! The main character is a private investigator for missing children who was a lost child herself. It parallels the story of a little girl who was lost in a forest in Oregon that the “Child Finder” is looking for. When I finished this book, I immediately read the sequel (The Butterfly Girl). It turns out that the author has first hand knowledge of this subject. The content can be disturbing at times, but I felt that the story was well told. My favorite character was Mrs. Cottle, who is a wonderful depiction of a loving foster parent.

 

57) Book Title: Costalegre

Author: Courtney Maum

Rating: 1 – Lutefisk Gone Bad

Review: What can I say good about this book? The cover was beautiful and that’s what drew me to it. Otherwise I found it reminiscent of “Mrs. Dalloway” by Virginia Wolf. Terrible. It’ll someday be one of those books students are forced to read like the aforementioned Mrs. Dalloway.

 

58) Book Title: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Author: Katarina Bivald

Rating: 4 – Fresh Lingonberry Jam

Review: This book involves a dying small town in Iowa full of people who welcome a Swedish visitor who was pen pals with one of their own. The story is full of quirky characters, some plot twists & a love of books. There is a great reading list included at the end.

 

59) Book Title: The Vengeance of Mothers: The Journals of Margaret Kelly & Molly McGill

Author: Jim Fergus

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: I loved this book. I picked it up because it fits into the category of “Western” and I liked the cover. Was I surprised that immediately I was hooked! It was a great story, very well-written, and I would actually consider reading it again (if I didn’t have a million other books to read). The main characters were women I’d like to know. Reading some of their “journal entries,” I thought it astounding that this book was written by a man. He is an excellent writer and does a great job describing the feelings a woman would experience. I’m looking forward to seeing what else he’s written.

 

60) Book Title: Hunger Games

Author: Suzanne Collins

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: Wow. Never read this when it was popular before. Intriguing!
Well-crafted characters and interesting read.  Would highly recommend for sci-fi and dystopian lovers.

 

61) Book Title: The Neighbor

Author: Dean Koontz

Rating: 3 – Tolerable (like a trip to IKEA)

Review: I listened to this driving to and from work. It definitely held my attention, made me want to try another Dean Koontz book, but I became a little confused towards the end of the story and had a lot of unanswered questions.

 

62) Book Title: This Tender Land

Author: William Kent Krueger

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: Very interesting book set in the summer of 1932, in Minnesota, about 4 orphan vagabonds. It is a tearjerker at times so have some tissues handy.

 

63) Book Title: Ricochet Joe

Author: Dean Koontz

Rating: 4 – Fresh Lingonberry Jam

Review: Dean Koontz sure has an active imagination! I liked this story– I listened to it on CD while I drove to and from work. After the drive TO, I found myself excited to get back in the car and listen more on my way home. If you like sci-fi, this is a good one.

 

64) Book Title: Lumberjanes Band Together

Author: Stevenson, Watters, Leyh, Allen, Nowak, Laiho

Rating: 2 – Cardboard Lefse

Review: Lumberjanes is definitely a book for those who like graphic novels– one of which I am not. I read it for Winter Tales. I did enjoy the graphics but not the storyline so much. The images were well-drawn and very colorful and that’s one of the reasons I chose this book. I would probably have liked it a lot more when I was a tween or teenager.

 

65) Book Title: Glensheen: Duluth’s Historic Congdon Estate

Author: Dennis O’Hara and Tony Dierckins

Rating: 3 – Tolerable (like a trip to IKEA)

Review: This book was filled with facts about the Congdon family and hundreds of images (new and historic). It was like being on a tour of the house– there were even floor plans included and pictures of the outside and the land on which it sits. If you’ve ever driven along the north shore and have seen the Glensheen Mansion but haven’t had a chance to tour it, check out this book.

 

66) Book Title: The First Lady

Author: James Patterson

Rating: 5 – Swedish Meatballs

Review: A very engaging book, written by an author with a proven track record. The political scene that hovers in the background of this thriller provides a glimpse into the circumstances that could occur if elected officials attempted a cover-up, and did it badly. Is the president’s wife a victim of foul play, a kidnapping, engaging in an illicit romance, or has she committed suicide? Just where is the First Lady? As the story unfolds, the mystery is unveiled, with a fantastic twist at the end. A page turner, to be sure.