Gotham Central, Vol. 4: The Quick and the Dead by Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, 166 pages, read by Tammy, on 06/26/2016
A gang war has erupted in Gotham. Detective Kelly comes in contact with a strange chemical substance while trying to rescue two teen boys and receives burns over all of his body. Then just when the doctors think he has a chance of getting better he starts mutating into something else. Detective Renee Montoya and her partner travel to Keystone City, home of the Flash, in and attempt to find a cure for Officer Kelly’s strange mutation.
Gotham Central, Vol. 3: Unresolved Targets by Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, Ed Brubaker, 192 pages, read by Tammy, on 06/25/2016
I have been enjoying this series featuring Gotham’s villains but from the viewpoint of the city police officers with only an occasional appearances by Batman. The Joker goes on a shooting spree and locks down the city during the Christmas holiday season. Then he suddenly turns himself in. Can the police figure out what he is really up to before something else worse happens?
Gotham Central, Vol. 2: Half a Life by Greg Rucka, 168 pages, read by Tammy, on 06/23/2016
Renee Montoya is a Grade A detective but her reputation is put on the line when she’s implicated in a murder and her deepest secret is revealed to the entire squad room and her family all in one day. Now her coworkers don’t trust her and her family want nothing to do with her. She knows she’s been set-up but by who and how to prove her innocence?
This acclaimed adventure won the coveted Eisner Award for Best Story in addition to winning the Harvey Award, the Eagle Award, and the Prism Award.
Bonus features include two more Greg Rucka-written tales, both spotlighting Montoya and the tough road she has traveled. Collecting Batman Chronicles #16, Detective Comics #747, and Gotham Central #6-10.
Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor, Vol. 3: Conversion by Al Ewing, 136 pages, read by Tammy, on 06/20/2016
This concludes the Eleventh Doctor’s first comic book series and collects issues 11-15. Alice, ARC, Jones and the Doctor travel back in time to the Roman Empire in Europe and face an unknown powerful entity.
Batman and Son by Grant Morrison, 199 pages, read by Tammy, on 06/21/2016
After reading the new 52 Batman and Robin series featuring Batman’s son, Damian, I decided to read this 2006 version of the story by Grant Morrison. Batman receives a shock when he discovers he may have a son with Talia who is now running her father’s crime empire. She has decided it is time to Batman to continue the boy’s training. But Damian, has been trained by the League of Assassins since he was a toddler and thinks nothing of killing. How can Batman convince him that killing is wrong even if the person has done something illegal and even evil? Tim, the current Robin is also not happy at this new addition to the family.
Collecting BATMAN #655-658 and #663-666.
The Free by Willy Vlautin, 320 pages, read by LisaS, on 06/23/2016
Award-winning author Willy Vlautin demonstrates his extraordinary talent for confronting issues facing modern America, illuminated through the lives of three memorable characters who are looking for a way out of their financial, familial, and existential crises, in his heartbreaking and hopeful fourth novel
Leroy Kervin is a 31 year old Iraqi War veteran living with a traumatic brain injury. Unable to dress or feed himself, or cope with his emotions, he has spent the last seven years in a group home. There he spends his days watching old sci-fi movies until he awakens one night with a clear mind and memories of his girlfriend. Realizing what his life has been he decides it would be better to die than to go on living this way. A failed suicide attempt leaves Leroy hospitalized where he retreats further into his mind in order to make sense of his existence.
Freddie McCall is a middle aged father working two jobs. He’s lost his wife and kids, and is close to losing his house. He’s buried in debt, unable to pay the medical bills from his daughter’s childhood illness. As Freddie’s situation becomes more desperate he undertakes a risky endeavor he hopes will solve his problems but could possibly end in disaster. Just as Freddie is about to lose it all, he is faced with the possibility of getting his kids back.
Pauline Hawkins takes care of everyone else around her. She cares for her mentally ill father out of a deep sense of obligation. As a nurse at the local hospital, she treats her patients and their families with a familiar warmth and tenderness. When Pauline becomes attached to a young runaway, she learns the difficult lesson that you can’t help someone who doesn’t help themselves.
The lives of these three characters intersect as they look for meaning in desperate times. Willy Vlautin covers themes ranging from health care to the economic downturn and housing crisis, to the toll war takes on veterans and their families. The Free is an extraordinary portrait of contemporary America and a testament to the resiliency of the human heart.
The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox, 388 pages, read by LisaS, on 06/09/2016
Something is not right at Rookskill Castle, a rundown Scottish manor shrouded in mystery. The castle is a temporary boarding school for children escaping the Blitz, but soon it’s clear there is something terribly wrong. There are clues hinting that a spy is in the house, and there are undeniable signs of a sinister magic. When the children in the castle’s temporary boarding school begin disappearing one by one, it’s a race against the clock for twelve-year-old Kat Bateson, her two younger siblings, and their new best friend.
A Boy Named Queen by Sara Cassidy, 96 pages, read by Angie, on 06/28/2016
Evelyn has a strict mother who controls everything down to the new pair of shoes she buys each year. When new boy Queen arrives at school things change though. Queen is different than anything Evelyn has ever known. He calls himself Queen for one thing and doesn’t dress like the other kids. He gets picked on by the kids at school but doesn’t seem to care. His parents appear to be tattooed rock stars retired from a life on the road. Queen helps Evelyn realize that being like everyone else isn’t what she wants from life and that being different is ok.
I enjoyed the book but thought it was too short. It ends rather abruptly and I actually wondered if I had just gotten an excerpt of the story instead of the whole book. I felt like this was more of a novella or short story instead of a novel. It was a good start but needed a lot more.
Fuzzy by Tom Angleberger, Paul Dellinger, 272 pages, read by Angie, on 06/28/2016
Fuzzy is a new robot enrolled in Vanguard One Middle School. Fuzzy is supposed to learn fuzzy logic and his programmers thought the best place to do that was middle school. Max is a student at Vanguard and asked to help integrate Fuzzy. Max is thrilled with the idea and enlists the help of her friends Krysti, Biggs and Simeon.
Vanguard is a new type of school controlled by a robotic assistant principal, Barbara. Everything is robot-controlled from the janitors to the desks to the hallways. Students are expected to take tests every week and must continue to improve. Barbara can hand out demerits (dtags) for any infraction. Little does Max know that Barbara has it out for her. She believes Max and some of the other students are DownGrading the school instead of UpGrading. So she has been doing everything in her power to make sure they get kicked out of school. This includes extra dtags and changing scores on tests.
Max and Fuzzy become friends and they begin to realize the evil that is Barbara. They concoct a plot to expose Barbara for the cheater she is even if it means they have to cheat themselves. Of course, things do not go according to plan when Barbara finds out about their plot.
I thought this book was wonderfully fun and funny. I loved Fuzzy becoming self-aware and programming himself with new routines like HelpMax(). I really enjoyed the battle between Barbara and Fuzzy at the end. I think my favorite bit was the fact that the assistant principal was evil and out to get the kids. I thought Barbara was an ingenious villain and added a lot of humor to the story.
I got a copy of this book from Netgalley.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, 374 pages, read by Angie, on 06/27/2016
In the year 2044 nearly everyone lives their lives in the OASIS, a virtual reality world. The real world isn’t that great and the Oasis allows users to be whoever they want to be. When the creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, died he left a will and a clue. Whoever can solve the riddles, find the three keys and go through the three gates will reveal Halliday’s egg. The egg is the key to his fortune and the OASIS. Halliday was obsessed with the 1980s, the decade he grew up, and all the clues and riddles pertain to the culture of that time (books, movies, videogames, etc.).
Wade Watts, aka Parzival, is a gunter (egg hunter), who is obsessed with Halliday and the egg. It has been five years since Halliday’s death and no one has made any progress on finding the egg. Until Parzival finds the first key. Then the race is on as more gunters find the key including the dreaded Sixers of IOI, an evil corporation who wants to take over the OASIS. Parzival and the other top five gunters (H, Artemis, Shoto and Daito) must work together to find and solve the other clues and stop the evil Sixers.
This was an interesting dystopian view of the future. I liked that everything basically takes place in virtual reality. That way you don’t have to worry about pesky things like reality. There was a lot of info dumping in the beginning as Parzival details the history of the world and how it ended up the way it did. He also dumps a lot of information about Halliday and the OASIS. I wish this could have been integrated a bit better. I understand that the information needed to be out there but it was a bit tedious. I’m also not really sure I liked Wade/Parzival. He comes off as a bit of an ass for the majority of the book and more than a little cocky. He is like every geeky boys dream of what he wants to be. That being said the book was intense and hard to put down. I listened to the audio and loved Wil Wheaton’s narration. He can read to me any time!
Coffee, Tea, or Murder?: A Murder She Wrote Mystery by Donald Bain (Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain based on the television series), 281 pages, read by Donna, on 06/26/2016
This novel in the series was a very quick read. It is one of the later ones written and reunites Jessica with her one true love interest, Scotland Yard inspector George Sutherland. I have always been envious of anyone who has learned how to fly and the fact that Jessica flies, but doesn’t drive, always amused me. Thankfully, she isn’t the one forced to fly the 767 after tragedy strikes at 30,000 feet, but she does co-pilot. Since I have always been an avid traveler and still love to fly (even though it is so much more trouble now) I would have enjoyed an airline created like the one in the book. Space to be comfortable and to be treated like you matter, would be awesome, but not worth dying over. Some does and as usual Jessica is in the right place to find the clues and unmask the killer.
Dead on Arrival. When Cabot Cove’s own Wayne Silverton wants to debut his new airline, he invites Jessica Fletcher and other locals on the inaugural flight from Boston to London. Jessica is thrilled for the opportunity to visit a dear friend, Scotland Yard inspector George Sutherland. But the reunion hits turbulence when George is called to the airport to investigate the apparent murder of Wayne Silverton. Jessica and George decide to put their finely honed sleuthing skills together and investigate. But there’s a full passenger list of suspects who have something to gain by Silverton’s demise. Now Jessica’s going to have to catch a killer before she can catch a flight home…
Content from back cover. Penguin Press.
Manhattans & Murder: Murder, She Wrote by Donald Bain (Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain based on the Universal television series) , 292 pages, read by Donna, on 06/23/2016
Having recently discovered that I can get the Hallmark Movie and Mystery channel at home, I have been watching Murder, She Wrote as my late night guilty pleasure. This said, it made me want to go back and read some of the novels based on this series that I have collected over the years, but not always got around to reading. First up in my stack was the book which is actually second in the very long list. I find these books read just like watching the shows only you get more insight into what the characters are thinking, but not the dramatic music. Being an avid fan of Jessica Fletcher and company, I hear their voices in my head as I read, even the Maine twang characters often used. This book takes place mostly in New York City, but there is some back and forth, plus characters join Jessica in New York. I’m always amazed how basic some of these murder mysteries are, but still satisfying in the ways the clues are laid out and how the stories are wrapped up. I guess they have always played to the unfulfilled mystery writer in me. If you were a fan of the original series or have found it on reruns, you will enjoy this book and if you aren’t already a fan, you may become one.
Manhattan is murder at Christmastime. Promoting her latest book brings bestselling mystery writer Jessica Fletcher to New York for Christmas. Her schedule includes book signings, Larry King Live, restaurants, department stores…and murder? It all begins with a sidewalk Santa staring at Jessica with fear and recognition. Behind the beard is Waldo Morse, former drug smuggler and the most notorious citizen of Cabot Cove, Maine. Jessica hasn’t a clue as to how he ended up as a street corner Saint Nick, but she agrees to meet him at two o’clock the next day. Jessica shows up with her camera, but in no time at all Santa is dead–a totally unexpected murder in progress. While the police are strangely slow on their feet, and the dead man’t wife uncommonly fast on the run, Jessica, in her no-nonsense way, decides to do what she does best:strategically snoop around and graciously outwit the pros on both sides of the law…doing whatever it takes to stop a murderer from striking again…
Content from back cover. Penguin Press.
Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas, 408 pages, read by Donna, on 06/14/2016
When I picked this book, I was looking for a light romance with a bit of drama. While it was all of that, I didn’t realize it was part of a series, actually the second book. However, this didn’t cause a problem. I may go back and read the first, but the relationship between the first two characters is detailed and continued in this book. It might have helped to give background for the starting point of this book, but that too is done in flashback type conversations. Since I did enjoy it, I will try to catch the next books to keep up with this intriguing group of women. It is not often that single women get much of a say in their destinies in Regency England, but Lady Helen shows insight and determination in finding a way to marry the man she desires.
Walking into Rhys Winterborne’s office, unchaperoned and unbidden, is the hardest thing shy Lady Helen Ravenel has ever done, but she will do just about anything to repair their shattered relationship. Yet convincing Rhys is only the beginning. There’s her family, as well. A wealthy businessman with rough Welsh roots and a gently bred noblewoman who finally takes charge of her life find love and acceptance despite their considerable differences-and a devastating secret. This adventure sweeps its characters from elegant drawing rooms to garbage-strewn slums and provides a callous, delightfully smarmy villain to hate. VERDICT Picking up where Cold-Hearted Rake leaves off, this engaging tale brings class bias, illegitimacy, and assorted social issues of the Victorian era into sharp focus and seamlessly continues the series while hinting at escapades to come. Beautifully done.
Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc.
Troublemaker by Linda Howard, 384 pages, read by Donna, on 06/16/2016
I enjoyed this book for a number of reasons. The covert military aspect is quite familiar to me and reading about how determined Morgan was to get back into fighting shape, just amazed me. Determination and inventiveness are the strong points of a military man. Bo is a self-reliant female who learns from her mistakes and doesn’t want anything handed to her she didn’t earn. However, Tricks, the golden retriever, steals the story and is very true to the nature of a spoiled pet who is often more human than not. The end, while expected, is not totally satisfying, but as in life, the bad guys aren’t always punished the way we would all like.
** Two things saved Morgan Yancy when someone tried to ambush and kill him outside his apartment building. The first was 16 years of intensive combat training as a member of the GO-Team. The second was that Morgan hated losing a fight to anyone. However, Morgan’s unknown assailant did manage to get in a few good shots, and Alex MacNamara, the person in charge of GO-Team, is concerned that, while Morgan is recovering from his wounds, someone might take another stab at eliminating him. Fortunately, Alex has just the place to stash Morgan where no one will ever think of looking: his ex-stepsister Isabeau Bo Maran’s place in the tiny West Virginia town of Hamrickville. Howard’s string of previous bestsellers proves she can write one heck of a white-knuckle romantic thriller, and in Troublemaker she succeeds once again in seamlessly combining top-notch suspense with a super-sexy love story. Graced with a cast of compelling characters (including a golden retriever who threatens too steal the whole show) and seasoned with a deliciously dry sense of humor, this is Howard at the top of her literary game.
John Charles, 2016 Booklist, Copyright American Library Association.
The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel (Volumes 1 & 2) by Neil Gaiman, 364 pages, read by Kayla, on 06/02/2016
It Takes a Graveyard to Raise a Child.
Nobody Owens, known as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a graveyard, being raised by ghosts, with a guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead.
There are adventures in the graveyard for a boy—an ancient Indigo Man, a gateway to the abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible Sleer. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, he will be in danger from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family.
This is actually my first Neil Gaiman book (a tragedy, I know) and I was deeply impressed by how much I enjoyed it. Horror and the like are not my favorite genre, but these two graphic novels gave off a feel more like “Haunted Mansion” ghosts in a graveyard than being threatening spirits. Even Silas the vampire seemed more like a stoic guardian than a bloodthirsty demon out to satiate his own hunger. The different artist for each chapter worked together really well. There was a distinct shift in each style, of course, but the overall Gaiman feel was still present in the story. It’s a wonderful story about growing up and it definitely deserved the Newberry Award for the orginal novel and the Harvey and Eisner awards for this version. Gaiman’s other books are already on my list to read.
The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) by RIck Riordan, 499 pages, read by Kayla, on 06/01/2016
Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.
One day, he’s tracked down by a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.
The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.
When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.
Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . . (-from Goodreads.com)
Once again, Rick Riordan decides that no mythology lore is safe from him. I would say I had a decent grasp of the basics of Norse mythology, but I was definitely drawn to the book with all the mythology included in this new series. There are lots of Norse demigods from different eras, species and ages, but it seems most of them are actually dead….or well, they’ve made it to Vahalla to prepare for Ragnarok. Magnus is the son of Frey, who is more a god of Peace than of War. Though it’s not as engaging as the Percy Jackson, it’s definitely worth reading. Lots of humor and action along with meeting most of the main Norse gods makes for an excellent start to this new Riordan series.
Zachary Taylor by John S.D. Eisenhower, 167 pages, read by Kim B, on 06/27/2016
Zachary Taylor was one of only five U.S. Presidents with a distinguished military career under his belt before taking the oath of office. Nicknamed “Old Rough and Ready” Taylor rose through the ranks to achieve his greatest fame in the Mexican War. Eisenhower writes a definitive biography of Zachary Taylor and his times which include the issue of slavery, the California Gold Rush, and the debate over statehood for California. It is 1849 and one can already see the push toward the bloody civil war that would divide America and Americans while Taylor occupied the highest office in the land.
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova, 336 pages, read by Angie, on 06/26/2016
Alex is comes from a long line of brujas and brujos stretching back 400 years. She is the most powerful witch her family has produced in generations, an encantrix who can control multiple types of magic. The only problem is Alex doesn’t want to have anything to do with magic. On her Deathday, the day her magic will be bound to her, she performs a spell to get rid of her magic. Unfortunately, the spell also sends her entire family, living and dead, to Los Lagos, the land of the spirits. Alex travels to Los Lagos to rescue her family with the help of her best friend Rishi and brujo Nova. They must travel across the wastelands, battling the creatures who live in Los Lagos to reach the Devourer and free Alex’s family.
This was a twisty-turny story that had me enthralled from the beginning. I loved the bruja/brujo culture and all the things we learned about that belief system. I thought Los Lagos was a extremely interesting land and a great setting for Alex’s redemption quest. I also really liked the fact that Alex is caught in a love triangle with Rishi and Nova. It is great to see bisexual characters treated so matter of factly. This was one of the few love triangles I could get behind. I would definitely recommend this book.
The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz, 304 pages, read by Angie, on 06/24/2016
The Inquisitor’s Tale is set in medieval France and follows the stories of three children. Jeanne is a young girl who has fits where she sees the future. William is a Saracen monk with incredible strength. Jacob is a young Jewish boy who can heal with plants. They are accompanied on their journey by Saint Gwenforte the Greyhound. Their story is told through a series of interviews in a tavern as person after person comes forth to continue the tale. The story is told in a style similar to The Canterbury Tales and is quite engrossing. Gidwitz has a real gift for storytelling and creating characters that jump off the tale. I literally could not put this book down. I wanted to find out what happened to the kids as they flee across France first trying to evade the knight sent to capture them then as they try to save the Jewish Talmuds from destruction. I loved the fact that Gidwitz woven historical bits into the story to make it even more real. The author’s note explains these historical bits. I would highly recommend this book.
How to (Un)Cage a Girl by Francesca Lia Block, 119 pages, read by Kim B, on 06/26/2016
Francesca Lia Block’s collection of poems entitled How to (Un)Cage a Girl is about every female’s journey from girlhood to womanhood and all the joys and tragedies, great and small, they encounter on the way. It is a celebration of women, an inheritance to the daughters who follow in our footsteps and releasing women from their “cage” often created by society.