Book Reviews

“Camp Nine” by Vivienne R. Schiffer

Cecilia Morton—“Chess,” as everyone calls her—is an average, gangly girl growing up in the 1940s Arkansas Delta. When her father died a few years ago, she became heir to his land and the massive holdings of his father as well. But her grandfather is not ready to relinquish control yet, and when he sells off some of Chess’s father’s land to the US government to build a Japanese American detainment camp, he sets in motion events that no one in their small town could have fathomed.

“Wings” by Karl Friedrich

Sally Ketchum has had a hard life. Her father, a dirt-farming alcoholic and religious fanatic, made her childhood living hell. At eighteen, she meets a young, charming man named Tex Jones who frees her from the prison of East Texas, but their incredible bond is broken when he dies in a tragic airplane accident.

“Maman’s Homesick Pie” by Donia Bijan

In the wake of a tragic accident that claims the life of her mother, Donia Bijan finds herself lost in memories of her family’s history—from pleasant memories of growing up on the second floor of her parents’ hospital in Tehran to fearfully fleeing Iran for their lives.

“Holy Ghost Girl” by Donna M. Johnson

Donna Johnson had an unusual childhood. Her mother brought Donna and her younger brother, Gary, into the inner circle of David Terrell, a very popular big tent revivalist in the 1960s and 70s. Donna spent her childhood under the wing of the charismatic and megalomaniacal minister; the only home she knew was under the “largest tent in the world.”

“The Subversive Copy Editor” by Carol Fisher Saller

In addition to her position as senior manuscript editor at the University of Chicago Press, Carol Fisher Saller is editor of the Chicago Manual of Style Online‘s Q&A.

During her tenure, she has received tens of thousands of grammar and style questions pertaining Chicago’s complex rules for publishing. Somehow, she reads every single one, no matter how esoteric or absurd, and she posts answers to the most common and/or difficult questions in the online Q&A.

“The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde

Basil Hallward, an artist, is in love with his latest painting–and his subject, Dorian Gray. In fact, Hallward firmly believes that Gray’s indisputable beauty and charm have taken his art to an entirely new level, to the point that all who gaze upon his image are compelled to fall in love.

“American Gods” by Neil Gaiman

People have described Neil Gaiman’s American Gods as one of the true new classics of fantasy. I generally scoff at such claims, since it is virtually impossible to tell which works will stand the test of time; many books and movies are widely heralded upon their release, only to be quickly forgotten. But the description is actually quite fitting for American Gods. The book has a patient, almost meandering approach that echoes the slower pace of classical movies like “Citizen Kane” or “The Maltese Falcon.”

“The Rules of the Tunnel” by Ned Zeman

What is madness? How does one distinguish between a behavioral disorder and a really bad day?

Ned Zeman, a journalist who has written for Vanity Fair, Newsweek, Spy, GQ, Outside, and Sports Illustrated, turns his eye to the one subject that has constantly eluded him: himself. His zany memoir of madness and memory loss reads like one long feature piece—a profile of himself.

Guest Review! “Russian Winter” by Daphne Kalotay

“It wasn’t that she didn’t believe in love; but she no longer believed in it for herself.” This simple proclamation, uttered by Drew Brooks, a character in Daphne Kalotay’s first novel, reveals an ingrained belief that haunts all three protagonists of Russian Winter. Kalotay, whose short fiction is gathered in Calamity and Other Stories, illustrates how the lives of three seemingly disconnected people become intertwined amidst a jewelry collection that the central protagonist, Nina Revskaya, has put up for auction.

“Cakes from Scratch in Half the Time” by Linda West Eckhardt

A guest review (and recipe!) from Ruth! Title: Cakes from Scratch in Half the Time: Recipes That Will Change the Way You Bake Cakes Forever Author: Linda West Eckhardt ISBN: 9780811842402 Pages: 196 Release date: July 2005 Publisher: Chronicle Books Genre: Cookbook Format: Paperback Source: Ruth’s collection Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Linda West began her journey into baking more than a decade ago. As time went by, she came to the conclusion that there had to be a better way to []

“The Irresistible Henry House” by Lisa Grunwald

Henry House is the practice baby everyone falls in love with. There have been and will be other babies, orphans who stay in the Wilton College Home Economics course for two years each to teach young women how to care for children. The practice house is “a testament to the belief that women could replace the mysteries of child rearing with mastery.”

“Just My Type” by Simon Garfield

“Comic Sans walks into a bar and the bartender says, ‘We don’t serve your type.'”

This joke–printed in, of course, Comic Sans–encapsulates the tone and content of Simon Garfield’s Just My Type. Garfield sprinkles his history of typefaces with humor and pop culture references, creating a fresh and insightful reference book for type novice and design geek alike.

“Hot” by Mark Hertsgaard

Title: Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth Author: Mark Hertsgaard ISBN: 9780618826124 Pages: 352 Release date: January 2011 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Genre: Nonfiction; environmental science Format: eBook Source: Personal collection & Netgalley Rating: 2.5 out of 5 In Hot, Mark Hertsgaard approaches global warming through the prism of a parent concerned about the world his little girl will inhabit by 2050. A disappointed Melody Wilson hoped to read more solid advice. In 2005, American author and journalist Mark []

“My Year with Eleanor” by Noelle Hancock

Noelle Hancock was on vacation in Aruba when she received the phone call that changed her life. Her coworker at the website where Hancock pulled nearly six figures as an entertainment blogger was on the other line, and bursting with bad news: The website was being shut down and Hancock was laid off.