Cast Off by Eve Yohalem, 312 pages, read by Eric, on 10/03/2015
It is April, 1663, and 12-year-old Petra has stowed away on the Dutch merchant vessel, Golden Lion. She is escaping her abusive father, but if discovered, she may be in even greater danger. Luckily, she befriends Bram, the son of the ship’s carpenter, and he agrees to help her remain hidden from the rest of the crew. It is a long way to East Indies, however, and much can go wrong along the way.
Alternating between Petra and Bram’s accounts, Cast Off is an unflinching look at the harsh conditions typical of merchant vessels of the era. There are a few moments when it is difficult to believe certain shipmates can miss obvious clues as to Petra’s identity, but as a tale for middle readers, I am able to forgive them. A convenient ending caps the adventure a little too well, but not enough to spoil the read.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Haddon, Mark, 226 pages, read by Paula, on 09/30/2015
Narrated by a 15-year-old autistic savant obsessed with Sherlock Holmes, this dazzling novel weaves together an old-fashioned mystery, a contemporary coming-of-age story, and a fascinating excursion into a mind incapable of processing emotions.
Terror Red by Colonel David Hunt & Christine Hunsinger, 372 pages, read by Judy, on 10/06/2015
A violent arm of the Muslim Brotherhood is about to bring hell to the American homeland. Only two people can stop them: David Gibson, a retired US Special Forces colonel, and Christina Marchetti, a political consultant. Together this unlikely pair of comrades-in-arms must face a terrorist organization bent on hijacking planes, blowing up cities, and worse.
This book really keeps you in suspense. It also is scary to think what could happen here in America.
Howard Dean's Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform by Howard Dean, 137 pages, read by Paula, on 09/15/2015
“What would real healthcare reform look like? And how can everyday Americans trump big money and put healthcare back on track? Howard Dean speaks out.”The success of healthcare reform legislation rises and falls on whether the American public is allowed to opt into a universally available public healthcare program, like Medicare, or not. If Congress issues a bill that gives Americans a public option, then there will be real healthcare reform. If not, we could be back fighting about it for another 20 years before anybody tries again.”
Americans have pondered how to reform healthcare since the days of Harry Truman. But, for most Americans, little has changed–except that healthcare costs have soared, health insurance companies have grown richer, and, today, even those Americans who pay dearly for health insurance frequently find that their policies don’t adequately cover them when they need their coverage most.
Something has got to give. In his bold, new book, Howard Dean-the physician and former governor widely credited for reviving the Democratic Party after the 2004 elections-tells Americans what needs to be done to successfully reform healthcare. One key, he writes, is to offer Americans the option to participate in a public healthcare program, much like Medicare. “America has had ‘socialized’ medicine since 1964,” says Dean. “It’s called Medicare; it covers every American over 65, and the majority of them are happy with the program. The rest of America deserves a similar option.”
In this straight-talking guide to rising above today’s healthcare crisis, Dean spells out:
- What Obama’s healthcare plan is all about
- How other countries handle healthcare
- Which special interests are standing in the way of progress and why
- How healthcare reform will help American businesses prosper
- Why Americans need choice–between private or public health coverage
Millions of Americans lack health insurance; millions more pay for coverage that doesn’t protect them from serious illness; and the status quo leaves Americans at the mercy of corporate interests. In this persuasive argument from a passionate political strategist, Americans learn how to take back the healthcare reins.
Woman with a Secret by Sophie Hannah, 374 pages, read by Sarah, on 10/04/2015
This book lures you in until you can’t stop reading it to figure out the connections between characters and their histories. You must read it. It will make you crazy trying to figure out “who dunnit.”
The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood, 320 pages, read by LisaC, on 10/05/2015
A copy of this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest view.
Taking place in a future society, which didn’t seem that distant from our own, Stan and Charmaine are struggling to survive. The economy has tanked, leaving Stan jobless and Charmaine working in a cheap bar for very little money. Living in their car with the danger of being mugged or worse, Charmaine hears an advertisement for a closed community that guarantees a house, job, safety and security. There is a catch, however, every other month they live in prison and share their living space with “alternates”.
As you might expect, not all is as it seems and it is here the story takes some very surreal turns.
I don’t really know what to think of this book. I understand the message Atwood was trying to convey (I think) but I had difficulty with some aspects of the story. It seemed to me that the aspects of all the betrayals were easily and readily forgiven and those betrayed were even eager to help the ones that betrayed them. Maybe that was to show the desperation within the community but I don’t really feel that is human nature. At least not in my experiences. Another issue to me was the likability of the characters and lack of character development. There was not one character in this book that I liked or was rooting for. Charmaine probably came closest but in the end all of the characters were ruthless and terribly flawed people. Was it a result of their situation….maybe. Atwood alludes to some terrible things that happened to Charmaine in her early life but never expands on it. You don’t find out much about Stan’s past at all except the inclusion of his brother in the story. Once they get into the community, there is no real character development of the people they meet inside.
With Sexbots, Elvis and Marilyn impersonators, fixation on inanimate objects, scheming and betrayals this book just wasn’t for me.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, Christina Lamb, 327 pages, read by Madeline, on 09/18/2015
I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.
Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.
I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world.
Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family's Heroic Resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris by Alex Kershaw, 304 pages, read by Madeline, on 09/11/2015
The leafy Avenue de Foch, one of the most exclusive residential streets in Nazi-occupied France, was Paris’s hotbed of daring spies, murderous secret police, amoral informers, and Vichy collaborators. So when American physician Sumner Jackson, who lived with his wife and young son Phillip at Number 11, found himself drawn into the Liberation network of the French resistance, he knew the stakes were impossibly high. Just down the road at Number 31 was the “mad sadist” Theodor Dannecker, an Eichmann protégé charged with deporting French Jews to concentration camps. And Number 84 housed the Parisian headquarters of the Gestapo, run by the most effective spy hunter in Nazi Germany.
From his office at the American Hospital, itself an epicenter of Allied and Axis intrigue, Jackson smuggled fallen Allied fighter pilots safely out of France, a job complicated by the hospital director’s close ties to collaborationist Vichy. After witnessing the brutal round-up of his Jewish friends, Jackson invited Liberation to officially operate out of his home at Number 11–but the noose soon began to tighten. When his secret life was discovered by his Nazi neighbors, he and his family were forced to undertake a journey into the dark heart of the war-torn continent from which there was little chance of return.
Drawing upon a wealth of primary source material and extensive interviews with Phillip Jackson, Alex Kershaw recreates the City of Light during its darkest days. The untold story of the Jackson family anchors the suspenseful narrative, and Kershaw dazzles readers with the vivid immediacy of the best spy thrillers. Awash with the tense atmosphere of World War II’s Europe, Avenue of Spies introduces us to the brave doctor who risked everything to defy Hitler.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, 176 pages, read by Madeline, on 09/04/2015
“This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”
In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?
Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.
Reagan's redemption by Cate Beauman, 496 pages, read by Melody, on 10/05/2015
Doctor Reagan Rosner loves her fast-paced life of practicing medicine in New York City’s busiest trauma center. Kind and confident, she’s taking her profession by storm—until a young girl’s accidental death leaves her shaken to her core. With her life a mess and her future uncertain, Reagan accepts a position as Head Physician for The Appalachia Project, an outreach program working with some of America’s poorest citizens.
Shane Harper, Ethan Cooke Security’s newest team member, has been assigned a three-month stint deep in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, and he’s not too happy about it. Guarding a pill safe in the middle of nowhere is boring as hell, but when he gets a look at his new roommate, the gorgeous Doctor Rosner, things start looking up.
Shane and Reagan encounter more than a few mishaps as they struggle to gain the trust of a reluctant community. They’re just starting to make headway when a man’s routine checkup exposes troubling secrets the town will do anything to keep hidden—even if that means murder.
Forever with you by Jennifer L. Armentrout, 384 pages, read by Melody, on 10/04/2015
In the irresistibly sexy series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout, two free spirits find their lives changed by a one-night stand…
Some things you just believe in, even if you’ve never experienced them. For Stephanie, that list includes love. It’s out there. Somewhere. Eventually. Meanwhile she’s got her job at the mixed martial arts training center and hot flings with gorgeous, temporary guys like Nick. Then a secret brings them closer, opening Steph’s eyes to a future she never knew she wanted—until tragedy rips it away.
Nick’s self-assured surface shields a past no one needs to know about. His mind-blowing connection with Steph changes all that. As fast as he’s knocking down the walls that have kept him commitment-free, she’s building them up again, determined to keep the hurt—and Nick—out. But he can’t walk away. Not when she’s the only one who’s ever made him wish for forever .
Falling for her by Sandra Owens , 290 pages, read by Melody, on 10/03/2015
Known to the K2 Special Services team as “Saint,” Jamie Turner lives by his own strict rules to compensate for his past sins and the two-ton boulder taking residence in his heart. He doesn’t drink or smoke. He never swears. And he only dates nice, safe women until he meets Sugar Darling, the fill-in receptionist at K2. She’s as sweet as her name, but this wild woman is definitely trouble, with something to hide. He knows he should avoid her…but can he?
Sugar isn’t hiding something—she’s hiding everything. And K2 seems like the perfect place to lie low, thanks to the big, protective guys who work there. The drop-dead-handsome Saint makes her heart race, yet he keeps his distance. When Sugar’s traumatic past rises up to haunt her again, she desperately turns to Saint for help, and he has to decide what’s more important: playing it safe or risking everything for love.
Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen, 262 pages, read by Leslie, on 09/30/2015
Stuck at the bottom of the social ladder at pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren’t paid to be here,” Maya Van Wagenen decided to begin a unique social experiment: spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell. Can curlers, girdles, Vaseline, and a strand of pearls help Maya on her quest to be popular?
The real-life results are painful, funny, and include a wonderful and unexpected surprise—meeting and befriending Betty Cornell herself. Told with humor and grace, Maya’s journey offers readers of all ages a thoroughly contemporary example of kindness and self-confidence.
Ever wonder what it takes to be popular and how can you get to be popular? Maya Van Wagenen’s memoir takes us on her journey to find out what it takes. Along the way she learns many interesting things about herself, her friends, and the other kids in school, including some she didn’t realize until she ended her one year journey. Good read, but probably not going to interesting to boys!
True Grit by Charles Portis, 215 pages, read by Kira, on 10/03/2015
Mattie’s father hired on a man down on his luck, who turned around, stole her father’s possessions and then killed her father. The townspeople didn’t bestir themselves and the killer makes his way into Indian Territory. Mattie hires Rooster Cogburn, a man of “true grit” to help her track down the killer.
This book kept my attention, but is Not something I’d give more than 3 stars, just Not my cup of tea.
Grandmaster by David Klass, 240 pages, read by Leslie, on 09/25/2015
Freshman Daniel Pratzer gets a chance to prove himself when the chess team invites him and his father to a weekend-long parent-child tournament. Daniel, thinking that his father is a novice, can’t understand why his teammates want so badly for them to participate. Then he finds out the truth: as a teen, his father was one of the most promising young players in America, but the pressures of the game pushed him too far, and he had to give up chess to save his own life and sanity.
A bit slow-paced if you like to read exciting books with lots of action, but this story is more about the relationship between father and son than it is chess. It’ll make you think about how well you really know your parents. Good read.
Codename Zero by Chris Rylander, 368 pages, read by Leslie, on 09/22/2015
Seventh-grader Carson Fender finds out there’s more to his sleepy North Dakota hometown than meets the eye in this hilarious mash-up of middle-school story and spy adventure novel from the author of The Fourth Stall.
Carson lives to think up his next big prank. He even has an understanding with the principal that he will serve the detention because he has no desire to be expelled, even though the principal can’t prove Carson is the mastermind. He does it to break up the boredom of living in a small North Dakota town. Until the day he is thrust into a world of spies and secret missions that he has no idea existed in his little boring town. Good read, especially for reluctant-to-read boys.
No Place by Todd Strasser, 262 pages, read by Leslie, on 09/17/2015
When Dan and his family go from middle class to homeless, issues of injustice rise to the forefront in this relatable, timely novel from Todd Strasser.
It seems like Dan has it all. He’s a baseball star who hangs with the popular crowd and dates the hottest girl in school. Then his family loses their home.
With so many homeless and near-homeless children, this novel is sure to resonate with some of them. The struggle to understand the situation, coping with friends who don’t understand and how quickly it can happen to anyone makes this a good read for teens and tweens.
Crave by Ward, J.R., 454 pages, read by Leslie, on 09/14/2015
Isaac Rothe is a black ops soldier with a dark past and a grim future. The target of an assassin, he finds himself behind bars, his fate in the hands of his gorgeous public defender Grier Childe. His hot attraction to her can only lead to trouble—and that’s before Jim Heron tells him his soul is in danger. Caught up in a wicked game with the demon who shadows Jim, Isaac must decide whether the soldier in him can believe that true love is the ultimate weapon against evil.
In the second book of the series, the angels fight against the demons to win game 2 in a game of save the lost souls, save humanity. A good second book, you’ll have to read it to see if they win or lose.
I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora, 166 pages, read by Leslie, on 09/07/2015
When Lucy, Elena, and Michael receive their summer reading list, they are excited to see To Kill A Mockingbird included. But not everyone in their class shares the same enthusiasm. So they hatch a plot to get the entire town talking about the well-known Harper Lee classic. They plan controversial ways to get people to read the book, including re-shelving copies of the book in bookstores so that people think they are missing and starting a website committed to “destroying the mockingbird.” Their efforts are successful when all of the hullabaloo starts to direct more people to the book. But soon, their exploits start to spin out of control and they unwittingly start a mini-revolution in the name of books.
I thought the book started out with a great plot but it rather fizzled at the end as the author tried to finish the book and have it make a little sense. Others may think it makes perfect sense and kids who read it will find it interesting enough to try and plan their own revolutionary plots with literature.
Covet by Ward, J.R., 482 pages, read by Leslie, on 09/04/2015
Redemption isn’t a word Jim Heron knows much about—his specialty is revenge, and to him, sin is all relative. But everything changes when he becomes a fallen angel and is charged with saving the souls of seven people from the seven deadly sins. And failure is not an option.
First in a companion series to the Brotherhood of the Black Dagger series by J.R. Ward, it has a couple of cross-over characters and in familiar settings, but is entirely apart from the original. A pretty good spin-off, you find yourself rooting for the good guys, or as good as they can be, considering. Not as many adult situations, but enough to make it an adult read. I recommend it if you enjoy the slightly supernatural stuff.