20. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Horror, Tracy

Alice in Zombieland by Lewis Carroll and Nickolas Cook, read by Tracy , on 01/19/2012

Alice in ZombielandAlice in Wonderland is a favorite classic of mine. I was a little worried when I saw this version but actually read it all in one sitting. A condensed version with a creepy twist. Alice follows a black rat down a hole in an open grave and finds Zombieland. It has a lot of the same twisted dialog that makes Alice in Wonderland so enjoyable to me. Although it  was a fun read I don’t recommend it  for those with a weak stomach. All the characters are flesh eating Zombies who are ruled by The Queen. Not a good bedtime story for children. It did make me want to read the original again.

20. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Informational Book

Joplin 5:41 : when a monster storm shattered a Missouri town but didn't break its spirit by Staff of the Kansas City Star, read by Brian, on 01/06/2012

Joplin 541Joplin 5:41 is one of many books about the devastating 2011 tornado that demolished Joplin, Mo.  The book has many pictures that are not only beautiful but show the destruction of Joplin in an awe dropping fashion.  The stories of the survivors is  heart wrenching and enlightening.  This is a book I will look at from time to time and remember those who were stricken by this awful storm.

20. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction, Science · Tags: ,

Shipwrecks: Exploring Sunken Cities Beneath the Sea by Mary M. Cerullo, read by Angie, on 01/14/2012

This book explores two different shipwrecks on the coast of the United States. It is a nice mix of science, exploration, history and adventure. The first shipwreck discussed is the Henrietta Marie a slave trader that sunk off the Florida Keys in 1700 during a hurricane. The information gleaned from the wreck is from a dark period in our history when hundreds of slaves where crammed into the hold of a ship. Shackles and other artifacts from the slave ship are found among the wreckage. The Portland is a completely different ship. It was a large, luxurious paddle wheel ship that just made short trips along the Northeastern Coast. It went down in a Nor’easter. The wrecks are very different. The tropical wreck has been thoroughly explored and artifacts brought to the surface. The wreckage is home to tropical fish, coral, and other tropical sea life. The Portland hasn’t been explored nearly as well; it is in very deep water and covered in fishing nets. The cold water means fewer fish and wildlife cover the wreckage.

Two very different shipwrecks but thorough research and information on each. Very interesting facts and photos. I really enjoyed the sidebars and the photos of the wreckage and artifacts.

20. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction · Tags: ,

The Lowdown on Denim by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Clayton Hanmer (Illustrator) , read by Angie, on 01/13/2012

This was a good history of denim and jeans. I liked the quirky narrative of the detention kids; it added a bit of interest throughout the story. The history was very brand specific, but did contain a lot of information. I especially enjoyed the early history. The later stuff didn’t seem as detailed or as interesting.

19. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, NonFiction, Science

The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth by Kathleen Krull, Greg Couch (Illustrator) , read by Angie, on 01/10/2012

This is an interesting picture book biography. The story of Philo’s invention of TV is told in a narrative style that is easy to read. The illustrations are ok and do help the story. I enjoyed the book, but wish there was more somehow. I found the author’s note at the end about his fight with RCA very interesting and am not sure why this wasn’t included in the text of the story.

19. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction · Tags: , ,

Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto by Susan Goldman Rubin, Bill Farnsworth (Illustrator) , read by Angie, on 01/09/2012

There is just something about WWII stories that really pulls at my heart. I find the people who worked for the underground movements and helped the Jewish people fascinating. There is something about their courage and heroism that really makes you look at your own life and wander what you would have done in a similar situation. Not everyone was strong enough to stand up for what was right, but Irena Sendler was definitely one of those heroes. Her story is similar to others who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, but it is definitely worth knowing. I thought this picture book biography did a good job of showing her courage and dedication to doing what is right. She is a hero from a very dark time in our history and her story deserves to be told.

19. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction · Tags: ,

The First Lunar Landing by Dennis B. Fradin , read by Angie, on 01/09/2012

This is a nice introduction to the space race. Details the history of man’s attempts to land on the moon. The information is very good and written at an elementary school level. This is a good resource for kids wanting information for reports or pleasure.

19. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction · Tags: ,

Mysterious Bones: The Story of Kennewick Man by Katherine Kirkpatrick, Emma Stevenson (Illustrator) , read by Angie, on 01/09/2012

Interesting look at how the discovery of ancient man changed the way we think of our native american beginnings. I found the controversy around kennewick man fascinating but parts if this book were very dry and hard to get through. I am not sure how kid friendly this book is but it will find an audience with history buffs.

19. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction · Tags: ,

Buried Treasures: Uncovering Secrets of the Past by Stephane Compoint, read by Angie, on 01/09/2012

This book gives brief glimpses of buried treasures of the past. And they are brief usually only 4 to 6 pages each. The sections give just enough information to wet your appetite about the subject. Fir more information you will have to consult other sources. If you are just looking for snippets of information this book is for you. I enjoyed each of the sections; I learned something aboutthe every thing covered in the book. The photos and illustrations really bring the subjects to life and enhance your experience reading the book.

19. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction · Tags:

Duped!: True Stories of the World's Best Swindlers (It Actually Happened) by Andreas Schroeder, Remy Simard (Illustrator) , read by Angie, on 01/09/2012

This is an interesting collection of tales of people being duped. The stories are really quite fascinating. The people behind the scams are very intelligent and crafty. The book can be read as a whole or individual chapters chosen based on their subject matter. I think kids would get a kick out of the stories and the fact that they are true makes them even more fun to read.

I had high hopes for this book and unfortunately it didn’t pan out. I thought it was too broken up; I really didn’t like how separated everything was in the book. I was also hoping for more information on what to plant and when and this one doesn’t really give you information on plants like I wanted it to. It also doesn’t have illustrations or photos to show you the different plants. Definitely could have been better.

19. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, How To's, NonFiction · Tags:

The Kitchen Garden by Alan Buckingham, read by Angie, on 01/02/2012

This is a really good guide on how to plant your kitchen garden. I liked the month-by-month steps on what you should do and the illustrations/photos were excellent. I liked the information on different crops and when you should plant what. I thought that was really helpful. I do wish there was more information on actually setting up a garden, but the book assumes you have a working garden space already. Overall, a very good reference book for gardeners.

19. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction · Tags: ,

Big Wig by Kathleen Krull, Peter Malone (Illustrator) , read by Angie, on 01/09/2012

This is an interesting look at hair trivia. I love the illustrations…they are fun and whimsical and really bring the hair facts to life. I think the trivia is really interesting too and a lot of kids will get a kick out of some of the things people did to their hair and put in their hair in the past. I’m not as sure about the “facts” presented in some of the timeline sections. Some seem very generalized and hard to prove. It does have additional notes in the back of the book and a list of resources. But overall this is a fun book and will wet the appetite of kids interested in hair.

19. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books

Abarat (Abarat #1) by Clive Barker, read by Angie, on 01/07/2012

I really wanted to like this book more than I did. I love the premise of it and it reminds me a little of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making, which I loved. The problem I had with the book was that it was sooo long and it really dragged story-wise in a lot of places. I also thought it was kind of repetitious and there was just way too much going on. I enjoyed the character of Candy Quakenbush from Chickentown; she is spunky and fun as are many of the other characters. It just seemed like some of it got lost in the shuffle. I know this is part of a series, but I also wish there was more resolution to the plots of this book by the end. You definitely have to read the rest of the series to find out what happens.

19. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction · Tags: ,

Before Columbus: The Americas of 1491 by Charles C. Mann, read by Angie, on 01/10/2012

I thought that Mann’s look at pre-Columbus America was interesting and brought forth some very intriguing ideas (like the fact that Indians may have planted the trees in the Amazon or that their populations may have been higher than previously thought). That being said the text was a bit dry for me and I am not sure that kids will really pick this up for pleasure reading. It is a been dense and dry compared to other nonfiction history books aimed at kids. I am also a little concerned about some of the things that were treated as facts in the book without backup. It was hard to tell on certain things if it was fact or Mann’s opinion. Overall, intriguing book, but not that well written.

19. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Mystery, Teen Books

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol, read by Angie, on 01/02/2012

Anya’s Ghost is the story of a teenage Russian immigrant who falls down a well and befriends a ghost. This book has a lot going for it. First of all the illustrations are wonderful and really enhance the story. I love the almost black and white feel of it, even though it is more violet in color. The little pops of color thrown in are really striking and standout more with the monochromatic color scheme. The story is also very well done. It shows Anya as a typical teenager…embarrassed by her family, not great at school, kind of a loner, only one friend, crushing on the hot sports star of the school. All these things were done very realistically. Emily the ghost is also interesting. She and Anya become friends in a way to help Anya deal with all the things in her life. I thought the first parts of the book were fantastic with Anya trying to fit in and change so that she could belong in the world she wants to (with Emily’s help of course). I thought the story got a little shakier towards the end when Emily started turning evil. I liked the angst-ridden teenager plot; the ghost/horror part not so much. But this is still a great read and a very engaging story.

19. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Romance, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

The Next Always (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy #1) by Nora Roberts, read by Angie, on 01/01/2012

This was a nice light romance and a good start on a new trilogy for NR. These trilogies all kind of follow a formula, but it is a formula that works pretty well. We meet the three Montgomery brothers and their potential love interests in this book. I liked all the characters; they were well developed and had their own distinct voices. I can definitely see how the romances are going to play out and it should be interesting. The story was a good one; I liked the rehabbing of the inn as the main plot point. I also enjoyed the supernatural plot…the ghost in the inn. It worked with the story and didn’t seem too out of place. I didn’t think the whole stalker storyline worked though. It just seemed like it was thrown in there to add tension that I don’t think the book needed. It seemed out of place with the rest of the story and I didn’t think it worked. I don’t think every romance needs some psycho to strengthen the bond between the couple. It was working just fine without it, but NR does like to throw in a psycho or two so I guess it couldn’t be helped. Otherwise the book was fun and enjoyable.

19. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Multicultural Fiction · Tags: ,

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, read by Angie, on 01/07/2012

This is a wonderful book about a young girl (Sal) coming to terms with her mother leaving her and her father. She relives her mother’s journey through a roadtrip with her grandparents and comes to terms with it through the story of her friend Phoebe. Phoebe is a bit crazy and overdramatic but I liked her as I liked all the characters in this book. It is a beautiful story about sorrow and loss and forgiveness. The language just flows so beautifully as you read it; you can almost hear someone telling the story to you as you travel. Very enjoyable.

19. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

Chime by Billingsley, Franny, read by Kira, on 01/11/2012

Lush and lyrical story our protagonist, Briony discerns the lies and truth of her own identity and of her family.  Strong female protagonist.  Can’t wait to read more by this author.

19. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, Westerns

Cowboys and Aliens by Fred Van Lente, read by Courtney, on 01/06/2012

Well, the title really does sum up the story pretty well. We start out in the 19th century wild west where the US cavalry are doing their best to realize their “manifest destiny”. Which, of course, includes fighting with the Native Americans who naturally aren’t too keen on the violent white invaders. So far, pretty accurate. And then a spaceship crashes. And its inhabitants view humans as primitive (and highly disposable) life forms. Irony! Now it’s up to the humans to put aside their quarrels in the name of preserving the human race.  A bit obvious, but a lot of fun.