Mini Book Reviews


News of the World by Paulette Jiles

This is my favorite read of 2018. In many ways it's a delightful old cowboy yarn. In the subtlety of the writing it's entirely new. A man who makes a living by reading the news throughout rural Texas in the late 1800s takes on the assignment of returning a ten-year old girl, captured by the Kiowa and recently released, to her aunt and uncle who live in a small town near San Antonio. The trip is harrowing, but what is truly wonderful is the bond that develops between the girl and the man. What is also wonderful is that Jiles is able to set the scene and tell the tale in 240 pages, a clear example of how less is often more. The book was a National Book Award Finalist. 




Marie and Pierre Curie 

A Tale of Love and Fallout

by Lauren Redniss

This very graphic novel got mixed reviews. Some found it intriguing both in content and layout. Others found it simply difficult to read and not worth the effort. I was in the first camp, as I had no idea what kind of life Marie led outside of her scientic one. Very illuminating so to speak.



A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Bakman

Some found this book charming. Others found it a little slow. All agreed it was the unusual story of a curmodgeon one grows to love as his life story unfolds.

Also by Bakman: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell you She's Sorry. The story of a precocious seven-year old and her outrageous grandmother intent on hiding a multitude of secrets. It was a book I found delightful.



The Boys in the Boat (2013) by Daniel James Brown

This is the surprising best-seller of how blue-collar oarsmen overcame exclusive Eastern college teams and then went to Berlin’s Olympic games during the Great Depression and the upsurge of Nazi Germany.

I especially loved this book because of how the individuals struggled, and yet learned, to be a cohesive team unit. 

Sally Byrne


  Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance 

Vance presents an aspect of diversity often unconsidered. Growing up low-income doesn’t mean poor. Childhood experiences influence our path in life.  I loved the book as it showed  a positive outcome for the author as he grew from  "white trash”. 

Sue Eliason 


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot 

Why didn’t I ever learn about this in high school biology?  Henrietta’s cells grew and grew in test tubes for medical research while all other cells died.Shortly after the discovery of her cells in 1951, the polio vaccine was born. Her cells are still alive in laboratories all over the world.Imagine where we would be today without her? 


Joanne Koch