Robin’s August Book Reviews

Key for my personal rating system:

5.0 – A book I will never forget, will quote, will tell everyone they MUST read it.

4.0 – An excellent book, and you really should read it.

3.0 – A recommendation, good read, decently written

2.0 – Some redeeming qualities, I finished it, but I’m not likely to seek out more by the author.

1.0 – Don’t wast your time.


One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel. This was a choice for book club that didn’t get enough votes (although I’m told it was a close race) I had already ordered all the books on the list of possibles, something I am prone to do when I think I won’t have enough time to order and read them. This is a quick read, and a first book. The story of two brothers and their father and their “escape” to Albuquerque, New Mexico (which is, of course, why it had my vote) this story is highly emotionally charged and goes straight to the heart. The father who is impacted by drugs, the brothers who try to maintain. A quick, sad, but wonderful read. Rate: 4.0 (I tried to find out more about his author…but, no web page and not much information. Lucky guy! Published and he’s not doing all the platform work.)

Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile: I met this author at a workshop (she was the instructor) and was so impressed I immediately got her book. She is a very talented writer who uses many details—place, interactions, memories—to add so much meaning to the story. This is the story of Charlotte (Charley) Bordelon, a southern California girl who has inherited eight hundred acres of sugar cane land in Louisiana. There is a strong emotional component to the story, including issues of love, parenting, race, and family. Just my kind of story. This book was the inspiration for an Oprah series. Rate: 4.8

The English Breakfast Murder by Laura Childs. Yep, one of those lady detective series mysteries, just what I need after a read a slew of heavy books. Definitely readable, not very deep, genre and pre-scripted. I would read more by this author, so I rate it 3.0.

Stevenson’s Treasure by Mark Wiederanders. (Hopefully you read my interview of this author!)  This was a well done, interesting book about Robert Louis Stevenson. Fictionalized from letters and lots of diligent research, I was captivated. I’ve always had a special fondness of Stevenson because his was the first poem I ever memorized (first grade) to recite aloud. I still know the whole poem! I am hoping that Wiederanders is working on another historical fiction because he is very good at it. Warning…starts a tiny bit slow, but keep going and you will be hooked. Rate: 4.2

The Martian by Andy Weir. Cudos to the author! He made it. Mostly because he wrote an excellent story, but if you read his essay at the end of the book, kind of right place/ right time. But I am happy it worked out for him. I saw the movie when it came out and liked it, but the book is better. Humorous, easy to read, nice rhythm between Watney, stuck on Mars and the earthlings. This is the story of an astronaut who gets left behind on Mars and must use his wits and skills to survive. I love that Weir stated in his essay about writing the story that an author could only get away with making such a smart and resourceful protagonist if that person was an astronaut. There is just enough technical explanation and political pressure to make the story flow, but not so much as to make it unreadable. Rate: 4.8