01. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Kristy, Teen Books

The Selection by Kiera Cass , read by Kristy, on 09/25/2014

While this book was by no means a literary masterpiece, it was nice and fluffy and a fun read in general. The main character gets drafted to be one of the 35 selected girls from across the country to compete for the prince’s hand. However, she is in no way interested in the prince because she has a love back home. The Selection felt rather Hunger Games-ish without the bloodshed and with lots of estrogen.

If you’re looking for a book with substance, turn away. But if you want an easy, fluff-filled read with lots of romance, this is the book for you.

01. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, History, Kira, NonFiction

The Mental Floss History of the World : An Irreverent Romp through Civilization's Best Bits by Erik Sass and Steve Wiegand with Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur., read by Kira, on 09/23/2014

3242424mental-floss-forbidden-knowledgeMentalFloss500mentalfloss   This was a far more interesting history of the world, or most any history than I’ve previously read. The downside, is that I will have difficulty remembering all the individual facts.  The narrative was constructed more like Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader including Harper’s Magazine Index-type lists of comparative statistics that really make you think. Much more attention is given to Asia, Africa and South America than your standard Euro-centered histories of the past.   Did you know that the Khan that Marco Polo visited was the same Kubla Khmentalfloss2an mentioned in Coleridge’s poem?  I listened to this title and thus missed some formatting and organization that would have been communicated on the page.   Apparently, they had sidebars that listed who-or-what was up at a given point in time, who/what was down. They also had important events listed within a given time-period.  These interesting tidbits didn’t translate as readily to the audio version, they needed more verbal placemarkers, such as these highlights apply to this time period.  Still I really enjoyed this book, and will look for more Mental Floss titles.

01. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Biographies, History, Lisa, NonFiction

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, read by Lisa, on 09/30/2014

For readers of Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit and Unbroken, the dramatic story of the American rowing team that stunned the world at Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics

Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled  by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together—a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boat is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate story of nine working-class boys from the American west who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world what true grit really meant. It will appeal to readers of Erik Larson, Timothy Egan, James Bradley, and David Halberstam’s The Amateurs.

01. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

She can hide by Melinda Leigh, read by Melody, on 09/29/2014

Abby Foster just wants a quiet, normal life. The high school teacher left everything about her past behind when she moved to the mountains of Pennsylvania, but only three years after surviving a brutal attack, Abby awakes in an icy river, facing death once again. This time, though, she doesn’t have to face it alone if she can manage to trust the sexy cop who just risked his life to save her.

Officer Ethan Hale’s gut tells him there’s more to Abby’s “accident” than meets the eye. When his investigation uncovers a fresh string of murders tied to her old case, he’s driven to do anything to keep Abby safe. But Abby’s former assailant is in prison, so who else wants her dead?

As a killer shows no sign of stopping, Abby has no choice but to trust Ethan with the truth about her past and any hope she has for a future.

01. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove, read by Angie, on 09/30/2014

At some point in our future the Great Distortion takes place and the world is unstuck from time. What does this mean? It means that different eras/time periods co-exist throughout the world. You have the Prehistoric Snows in Canada, Late Patagonia in South America, the 40th Age in the Philippines area and here in the United States you have New Occident in the east and the Baldlands in the west. Some areas are so disrupted they are closed, but many others are open to exploration and trade. Sophia lives with her uncle in Boston in New Occident. Her parents were explorers who disappeared when she was three. Uncle Shadrack is one of the foremost cartologers (mapmakers) in the world and is teaching her about maps. Then Shadrack is kidnapped and leaves a message for Sohpia to find Veressa. She teams up with Theo and heads off to the Baldlands. Turns out Shadrack was kidnapped by the mysterious Blanca and her Sandmen. She wants Shadrack to help her find the carta mayor, the water map of the world, and revise it so the world is whole again. Everyone meets up in the Baldland capital of Nochtland, but there they discover that the world is not static like they thought. A glacier age is making its way north and wiping out every other age it crosses. Sophia, Theo, Shadrack and the friends they have made have to figure out how to stop it and stop Blanca.

So if the description confuses you, you are not alone. This is a very complex story that while fascinating requires a suspension of belief to enjoy. The description of the world is amazing, but it really doesn’t answer a lot of questions. For instance, no one knows what age the great disruption occurred in; however, there are ages from the distant past and the distant future. How can there be an age from a future after the great disruption if the great disruption occurs? Why are some ages closed and others open? Why can you travel and trade among some but have no idea what is going on in others? If this is earth, why are there people with feathers or metal bones? How can ages move and expand? It kind of makes your head hurt when you think about it. I think one of my biggest headaches was the language. There are lots of made up words that are like our words but not. Things like Baldlands (which I always read as Badlands) and cartologer (which I read as cartographer). It made a confusing story even more confusing. There is also the issue of the maps. Seems in this world you can make way more than paper maps. There are water maps, glass maps, cloth maps, metal maps and these maps contain not just geographical features but memories from people. No explanation on how these maps were created or how people learned to make them. Of course there was no explanation on the carta mayor and how and why it was created either.

Then you have the book itself. It is rather long and the age it is aimed at is questionable. It is complicated and has some nasty bits (torture and such) which seem to point towards a more teen reader, but the main character is obviously young and there is no romance between Sophia and Theo which points toward a more middle grade reader. I’m not really sure who I would recommend this book to. Of course there is the story itself which got even more far-fetched the longer it went along while at the same time remaining completely predictable. That isn’t to say I didn’t like the book or enjoy it. I couldn’t put it down and really wanted to know how everything ended up. I was disappointed by the ending and still very confused when I finished.

self-portraitsThis is a wonderful book for anyone who works in mixed-media.  The idea of doing a self-portrait may make many people put the book down before they even crack it.  This book is something you should at least flip through as it gives you clues of what to look for when trying to define yourself and how you are unique.  This is useful study for any type of portraiture as it makes the artist pay attention to things like eye placement and lip shape in comparison to other portraits.  The portrait does not have to be an exact image of the artist.  It can also be a representation or it can be a portrait of the person the artist wants to be.  The main thing for artists to keep in mind when creating a portrait of the self is to be introspective.  The book walks the artist through the importance of a self-portrait, knowing yourself, and revealing yourself.  A lot of the things talked about in the book are good for artists regardless of the medium they choose.  I highly recommend this book to anyone more curious about discovering what makes them unique.

30. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Paula · Tags:

The Maid's Version by Woodrell, Daniel, read by Paula, on 09/30/2014

The American master’s first novel since Winter’s Bone (2006) tells of a deadly dance hall fire and its impact over several generations.

Alma DeGeer Dunahew, the mother of three young boys, works as the maid for a prominent citizen and his family in West Table, Missouri. Her husband is mostly absent, and, in 1929, her scandalous, beloved younger sister is one of the 42 killed in an explosion at the local dance hall. Who is to blame? Mobsters from St. Louis? The embittered local gypsies? The preacher who railed against the loose morals of the waltzing couples? Or could it have been a colossal accident?

Alma thinks she knows the answer-and that its roots lie in a dangerous love affair. Her dogged pursuit of justice makes her an outcast and causes a long-standing rift with her own son. By telling her story to her grandson, she finally gains some solace-and peace for her sister. He is advised to “Tell it. Go on and tell it”-tell the story of his family’s struggles, suspicions, secrets, and triumphs.

Come, come and hear of the strange and terrible tale of Miss Finch, an exacting woman befallen by mystery and abduction deep under the streets of London! New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman delivers another stunning hardcover graphic novel with longtime collaborator Michael Zulli (Creatures of the Night, The Sandman). This is the first comics adaptation of his popular story “The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch,” which saw print only in the U.K. edition of Gaiman’s award-winning work Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions and was recently interpreted for his Speaking in Tongues CD. The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch is a “mostly true story” that combines the author’s trademark magic realism with Zulli’s sumptuous paintings, and has been newly rewritten for this hardcover. Join a group of friends, with the stern Miss Finch in tow, as they enter musty caverns for a subterranean circus spectacle called “The Theatre of Night’s Dreaming.” Come inside, get out of the pounding rain, and witness this strange world of vampires, ringmasters, illusions and the Cabinet of Wishes Fulfill’d.

30. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle, Paranormal

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, read by Noelle, on 09/26/2014

When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt, only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers-with seemingly little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cozy home in the suburbs of Chicago, and with an abnormally intense attachment to one another. They are twenty. .

The girls move to Elspeth’s flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery in London. They come to know the building’s other residents. There is Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword puzzle setter suffering from crippling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Marjike, Martin’s devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth’s elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. As the girls become embroiled in the fraying lives of their aunt’s neighbors, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including-perhaps-their aunt, who can’t seem to leave her old apartment and life behind..

Niffenegger weaves a captivating story in Her Fearful Symmetry about love and identity, about secrets and sisterhood, and about the tenacity of life-even after death..

30. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Jessica, Paranormal, Romance, Teen Books, Thriller/Suspense

Providence by Jamie McGuire, read by Jessica, on 09/29/2014

91UPFBetXiL._SL1500_In the old world shadows of Providence, Rhode Island, Nina Grey finds herself the center of a war between Hell and Earth.

Struggling with her father’s recent death, Nina meets Jared Ryel by chance…or so she believes. Although his stunning good looks and mysterious talents are a welcome distraction, it soon becomes clear that Jared knows more about Nina than even her friends at Brown University. When questions outnumber answers, Jared risks everything to keep the woman he was born to save—by sharing the secret he was sworn to protect.

When her father’s former associates begin following her in the dark, Nina learns that her father is not the man she thought he was, but a thief who stole from demons. Searching for the truth behind her father’s death, Nina stumbles upon something she never expected—something Hell wants—and only she holds the key.

indexcat-housecats-in-sinkcat-reading-newspaper-445x299    nosy-dogThis was a delightful tale written in the form of diary entries by a cat.  The cat introduces us to the various neighbors on the block.  These include a squabbling mother & teenage daughter next door, an agoraphobic older woman desperately trying to get her shoes to walk her more than a few feet down the block, a crazy cat lady, with a house full of cats, and an abused young boy 26-dta-markhillary-2826736533and his unsparing father.  There is humor a-plenty, though its Not all fluff.  I really enjoyed this book, and look forward to reading Rutledge’s other titles.

29. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Eric, Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction

Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix, read by Eric, on 09/07/2014

An unscheduled, pilot-less passenger jet arrives at an airport gate. In each seat is an unattended baby. Thirteen years later, cryptic messages are being sent to these children, many of which don’t realize they were adopted, let alone that they are connected to the mysterious plane. Jonah and Chip have received messages, and are determined to find out why.

The search for answers to the children’s mysterious beginnings makes for a decent mystery adventure. The payoff isn’t quite what I had hoped for, but it certainly sets the stage for many sequels, and adventures through time. I’m interested in continuing, but not with much enthusiasm.

A powerful, poetic, and haunting myth set in Scotland, and spun by a master storyteller. A small man tells the tale of an earlier journey, during which he hired a guide to lead him to a treasure-filled cave. Being a Neil Gaiman story, however, the trek is much more than a search for riches. The tale slowly twists as truths about the past are revealed. Highly recommended.

29. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Immortal Max by Lutricia Clifton, read by Angie, on 09/28/2014

Sammy wants nothing more than to have a puppy. Unfortunately, he is stuck with Max, a smelly mutt his sister brought home. Even though Max is loyal and well trained, Sammy doesn’t want to have anything to do with him. Sammy starts working as a dog walker at CountryWood, the nearby gated community. He has to earn the money for the puppy himself. His single-mom doesn’t have any extra money for a puppy and doesn’t want one since they have Max. At CountryWood, Sammy has to deal with bully Justin who terrorizes him every time he is walking the dogs.

I’m not sure why this book took me so long to read since it is less than 200 pages. It was a nice story about a boy learning to appreciate what he has. I also liked the fact that Sammy’s friends are a nice mix of cultures and personalities. I just found the book to be a bit heavy-handed in its message. I also found Sammy to be a bit selfish and self-absorbed. I identified more with poor Max than with any of the people characters. I am sure it will find appreciative readers, but I wasn’t one of them.

Murder. Vice. Pollution. Delays on the Tube. Some things never change…

London 1859-62. A time of great exhibitions, foreign conquests and underground trains. But the era of Victorian marvels is also the time of the Great Stink. With cholera and depravity never far from the headlines, it’s not only the sewers that smell bad.
Novice detective, Campbell Lawless, stumbles onto the trail of Berwick Skelton, an elusive revolutionary, seemingly determined to bring London to its knees through a series of devilish acts of terrorism.

But cast into a lethal, intoxicating world of music hall hoofers, industrial sabotage and royal scandal, will Lawless survive long enough to capture this underworld nemesis, before he unleashes his final vengeance on a society he wants wiped from the face of the Earth?

Lawless & The Devil of Euston Square
 is the first of a series of historical thrillers by William Sutton set during the mid-nineteenth century, featuring Metropolitan policeman, Campbell Lawless, aka the Watchman, on his rise through the ranks and his initiation as a spy.

Before Holmes, there was Lawless…

Before Campbell Lawless, the London streets weren’t safe to walk.

The musical adventure of a lifetime. The most exciting book on music in years. A book of treasure, a book of discovery, a book to open your ears to new worlds of pleasure. Doing for music what Patricia Schultz—author of the phenomenal 1,000 Places to See Before You Die—does for travel, Tom Moon recommends 1,000 recordings guaranteed to give listeners the joy, the mystery, the revelation, the sheer fun of great music.

This is a book both broad and deep, drawing from the diverse worlds of classical, jazz, rock, pop, blues, country, folk, musicals, hip-hop, world, opera, soundtracks, and more. It’s arranged alphabetically by artist to create the kind of unexpected juxtapositions that break down genre bias and broaden listeners’ horizons— it makes every listener a seeker, actively pursuing new artists and new sounds, and reconfirming the greatness of the classics. Flanking J. S. Bach and his six entries, for example, are the little-known R&B singer Baby Huey and the ’80s Rastafarian hard-core punk band Bad Brains. Farther down the list: The Band, Samuel Barber, Cecelia Bartoli, Count Basie, and Afropop star Waldemer Bastos.

Each entry is passionately written, with expert listening notes, fascinating anecdotes, and the occasional perfect quote—”Your collection could be filled with nothing but music from Ray Charles,” said Tom Waits, “and you’d have a completely balanced diet.” Every entry identifies key tracks, additional works by the artist, and where to go next. And in the back, indexes and playlists for different moods and occasions.

29. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Thriller/Suspense, Tracy

The Lost Island by Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, read by Tracy, on 09/04/2014

Gideon Crew–brilliant scientist, master thief–is living on borrowed time. When his mysterious employer, Eli Glinn, gives him an eyebrow-raising mission, he has no reason to refuse. Gideon’s task: steal a page from the priceless Book of Kells, now on display in New York City and protected by unbreakable security.

Accomplishing the impossible, Gideon steals the parchment–only to learn that hidden beneath the gorgeously illuminated image is a treasure map dating back to the time of the ancient Greeks. As they ponder the strange map, they realize that the treasure it leads to is no ordinary fortune. It is something far more precious: an amazing discovery that could perhaps even save Gideon’s life.

Together with his new partner, Amy, Gideon follows a trail of cryptic clues to an unknown island in a remote corner of the Caribbean Sea. There, off the hostile and desolate Mosquito Coast, the pair realize the extraordinary treasure they are hunting conceals an even greater shock-a revelation so profound that it may benefit the entire human race . . . if Gideon and Amy can survive.

29. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kim, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Thread of fear by Laura Griffin, read by Kim, on 09/28/2014

Forensic artist Fiona Glass is the best in the business — which is precisely why she’s quitting. Her skill at mining victims’ memories to re-create the faces of sadistic criminals has left her haunted and wary, and only Jack Bowman’s dogged persistence convinces her to help him. The rugged police chief is hunting a serial killer who’s targeting teenage girls. But what seems like a simple assignment is fraught with complications, including a searing attraction to Jack that’s tempting Fiona to let her guard down in potentially dangerous ways.

Jack never intended for Fiona to become so deeply involved in the case — or in his life. But every instinct tells him she’s his best hope for finding a psychopath who’s lurking in plain sight, growing more ruthless with each passing day. And now that Fiona is right in the killer’s crosshairs, the only way to keep her safe is to unravel a small town’s darkest secrets, one terrifying thread at a time.

29. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

She can tell by Melinda Leigh, read by Melody, on 09/27/2014

Rachel Parker never planned on going back home. But when a terrible accident abruptly ends her riding career, she has little choice but to return to Pennsylvania and rebuild the family horse farm. Not everyone is happy to see Rachel though ? someone is vandalizing her property, leaving ominous warnings she can’t ignore. It’s as if the creep knows her. As if he’s watching her. Police Chief Mike O?Connell never counted on Rachel Parker getting in his way. Mike is frustrated as his investigation turns up too many suspects and a shockingly turbulent past Rachel refuses to discuss. There’s no denying the passion igniting between them, but Mike can’t ignore his instincts, or the escalating violence against Rachel. He senses she has a secret, one she refuses to share. A secret that is going to get her killed?

29. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Mine to have by Cynthia Eden, read by Melody, on 09/27/2014

Is he a hero…or the villain?

When Elizabeth Ward sees Saxon Black rushing into the backroom of The Blade—a low end bar in Miami—she isn’t sure if he’s there to save the day…or just to raise some hell. But she’s being held hostage, and he’s her best hope of survival. Within minutes, she’s away from the jerks with the guns and riding fast and hard on the back of Saxon’s motorcycle.

Death stalks them.

Saxon has been working undercover for far too long. When he finds sexy Elizabeth—with a gun to her head—he knows he will do anything to keep her safe. But once he gets her away from her abductors, the threat to her isn’t over. Someone has put a price on Elizabeth’s head, and if Saxon can’t keep her safe from the danger stalking her, then she’ll be dead.

Their lives are both on the line.

As their enemies close in, Elizabeth and Saxon must go on the run. And the longer they are together, the hotter their attraction for one another seems to burn. Saxon vows not to let anyone hurt her, no matter what he has to do, because he’s falling fast for Elizabeth. He’ll stop the killers on her trail, and then he’ll have her. Forever.

MINE TO HAVE.