26. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Romance

The Last Boyfriend (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy #2) by Nora Roberts, read by Angie, on 03/23/2012

This is the second of the Montgomery brothers trilogy and is the story of Owen and Avery. This is a nice little romance novel. It is a quick light read. There is nothing really wrong with it; it is just a bit boring. The problem is that nothing really happens in the book. Of course they fall in love and there is a happily ever after, but the rest of the book is a lot of description of the inn and its construction. There is one moment of dramatic tension but it doesn’t last very long and it isn’t necessary for the plot. I did like the progress on the ghost story and I can guess where it is going in the next book. Overall this is a nice little romance book not a lot of substance but a quick light read.

I received the arc from the publisher. The library doesn’t have a copy yet, but they will soon.

26. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Melody, Paranormal, Teen Books · Tags:

Paranormalcy by Kietsten White, read by Melody, on 03/23/2012

So often when you read an award nominee you think “why was this nominated?” but Paranormalcy is very deserving.  Evie lives and works in a paranormal detection center, finding and neutralizing the things that go bump in the night before they can harm others or themselves.  She yearns for all the things that “normal” teenagers have; lockers, proms, and driver’s licenses.  All she has ever known is the agency, who she is and where she is from is a mystery.  All that she knows for sure is that she can see things that no one else can see.  A mystery boy drops into her world and changes how she thinks of her world.  Is he connected with the rash of paranormal murders?  What hasn’t the agency that is her whole life told her?  And who and what is she really?  Wonderful characters and great action.  I highly recommend Paranormalcy.

26. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , ,

Pavement Chalk Artist: The Three-Dimensional Drawings of Julian Beever by Julian Beever, read by Tammy, on 03/24/2012

Pavement Chalk ArtistA collection of photos of the amazing 3-D pavement chalk drawings by Julian Beever. The drawings truly only have all their 3-D affects when seen from one particular angle but the detail he is able to draw is amazing. He shares some information on how he draws the designs but doesn’t go into all the math calculations he does to calculate some of the drawings perspective correctly. He also shares where he gets his ideas and how he got started.
Just amazing drawings.

26. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Graphic Book, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , ,

The Complete Peanuts, Volume 13: 1975-1976 by Charles Schulz, read by Tammy, on 02/02/2012

The Complete Peanuts, Volume 13 1975-1976Part of the Complete Peanuts Collection with all the dailies and Sunday comic strips from 1975 to Dec. 1976. I remember reading some of these in little paperback book collections I bought in elementary and junior high school. It was a nice trip down memory lane plus several new stories for me to read about Charlie, Snoopy and the rest of the gang.

 

 

 

 

26. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Melody, Paranormal

Working Stiff by Rachel Caine, read by Melody, on 03/23/2012

Great recommendation Brian.  Working Stiff is a fun fast paced read.  Bryn Davis is a tough Iraq War vet who starts a new career as a mortician.  Too bad her boss is reanimating corpses in in the basement.  A whole lot of zombie story with some corporate espionage thrown in and a splash of romance.  I really enjoyed the character of Bryn but I couldn’t shake a feeling of sadness that terrible things were happening to her.  I know that events were intended to be unfair to her but it still rankled me.  I am looking forward to the next in the series but I just can’t see how there can be a happy ending.  

 

 

26. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Tammy · Tags: , ,

Soul Music by Terry Pratchett, read by Tammy, on 03/24/2012

Soul MusicDiscworld # 16

Death gets preoccupied with the meaning of existence at the same time a living force of music enters Discworld and “Music with Rocks In It” is born. Death’s “granddaughter” discovers who her grandfather is when she suddenly inherits his job. Quite a lot for a young teen to take on, but Susan is up to the challenge especially with some help from Binky and the Death of Rats (yes, it’s a rat in a black cloak with scythe). Lots of fun references to early rock legends like Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Rolling Stones etc., as well as early rock songs. Also, shows how rock and roll changed the culture and everyday life of it’s fans in of course an exaggerated way

26. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Tammy · Tags: , , ,

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, read by Tammy, on 03/25/2012

Night CircusThis beautifully written novel, flows and pulls you into the story despite the chapters switching place, time and narrator. I instantly cared about the two main characters and wanted to find out what happened to them next and to the other cast of characters as well. It is difficult to explain so I will leave that to the professional summary below but it’s one of the my favorite books I’ve read in a very long time.

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

 

26. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Teen Books

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green, David Levithan, read by Angie, on 03/16/2012

Two Will Graysons live in Chicago. They don’t know each other and they are very different guys. Will Grayson is a funny, sarcastic straight guy with a huge gay best friend (Tiny Cooper) and maybe a crush on a girl named Jane. Other Will Grayson is a moody, depressed in the closet gay guy being stalked by his friend Maura and involved in an online relationship. Then through a strange set of circumstances the two Will Graysons meet one night. Their worlds merge and change.

Each Will’s story is told by a different author: Will Grayson is John Green’s narrative and Other Will Grayson is David Levithan. They have very distinct voices but the different authors do not take away anything from the book. In fact, it adds to the narrative and they are very cohesive. The two Will Graysons are both interesting characters each likeable and not likeable in their own way. They have their real issues with friends and lovers. They have real parents who actually love them and listen to them (which I really appreciated).

But the real star of this show is Tiny Cooper. He might be my favorite character in any book I have read in a long time. Tiny steals the thunder and the spotlight from the Wills. He takes over both narratives and just shines. He is exactly what both Wills need to wake them up and help them get on with their lives and he just jumps off the page. I would really love to see his musical Tiny Dancer (I think it would be awesome!). And you can tell the story is really about Tiny and friendship and who is really important in our lives by the ending of this book…which was truly touching and made me sad that the book was over.

25. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Literary Fiction, Tracy

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, read by Tracy, on 03/25/2012

The Art of FieldingHenry Skrimshander lives and breathes baseball. His favorite book is “The Art of Fielding” written by Aparicio Rodriguez a St. Louis Cardinal legend. When he enters Westish college it’s the only book he takes with him.  Henry is a short stop with a lot of potential. He also has a lot of growing up to do. If you are a baseball fan like me this book will make you laugh and cringe. It’s an honest look at college sports and relationships. Henry’s story is bittersweet.

25. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban, read by Angie, on 03/17/2012

Zoe is going to be the next piano prodigy to play at Carnegie Hall. All she needs is a piano and to learn how to play. But she is determined. Then her dad buys her an organ…not a piano…an organ. It doesn’t play Bach or Beethoven it plays tv show theme songs with a samba beat. But Zoe learns to play the organ and she is determine to perform in the Perform-o-Rama competition. Only problem is that her dad is agoraphobic and can’t really leave the house and her mom works all the time. So what is a girl to do? She is determined and will find a way.

Zoe is awesome! I listened to this book on audio and I think the narrator nailed her voice. She is spunky and she really puts up with a lot. Her home life is not the easiest but she does the best she can with what she is dealt. She learns the organ that her father bought instead of the piano she wanted. She manages her father and all his craziness. He doesn’t leave the house; he is always taking some kind of course whether baking or scuba diving or flying (yes from the living room). And her mother is absent a lot because she works to support the family. Then there is her friend?? Wheeler who just followed her home one day and doesn’t seem to want to leave.

This is a book about hope and family and perseverance and making do with what you have and enjoying it. Zoe does all that and more.

25. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Classics, Fiction

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, read by Angie, on 03/17/2012

Such a fun book. This book was just as fun to read as an adult as it was as a kid. I love all the puns and the silliness of the world Juster has created and I imagine kids today enjoy it just as much as they did when I was a wee lass. This is such a clever book but it is written so that the cleverness does not go over the heads of the intended audience. I love the Milo has to find Rhyme and Reason because the land is just not the same without them. I loved all his adventures. This is truly a timeless classic.

25. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction · Tags:

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea, read by Angie, on 03/14/2012

Mr. Terupt is a new teacher for the 6th grade class. Is his class excited? Not really. He has a new way of doing things and they aren’t really looking forward to breaking in a new teacher. We get to hear all about it from each of the students throughout out the book in alternating chapters. The students reveal what’s going on among their friends, at home, at school and with themselves all set against the backdrop of Mr. Terupt’s classroom. The kids learn about themselves, they learn to be strong, who they are and who they are going to become. They learn to think for themselves and to stand up for what is right and for each other.

I thought this was a wonderful book. I loved the alternating narrators; I thought that really gave the book a unique and full voice. Each of the kids had their own voice and characteristics and it was very easy to keep them straight. They all seemed like real kids with real problems too. They faced things that I think kids reading the book can identify with. I can’t wait for the next book by Mr. Buyea.

This is a 2012-13 Missouri Mark Twain Award Nominee.

25. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Romance, Teen Books

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, read by Angie, on 03/25/2012

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a richly detailed, beautifully told novel that you just want to pour over and you really don’t want the story to ever end. I was sucked into the world of Karou. Her life in Prague as an art student and errand girl for Brimstone, the Chimera who deals in teeth and wishes, was fascinating and intriguing and really made me want to travel to Prague. The descriptions of Prague were so real that I could imagine walking the streets of Josefov and eating goulash in Poison. And Karou was just a wonderful character. She was spunky and intelligent and heroic and sarcastic and she has blue hair that she wished for! I loved her! I loved the cast of characters around her as well. I was fascinated by the chimeras: Brimstone, Issa, Twiga, Yasri and Kishmish. I wanted to know more about them; where they came from; who they were; what they did with the teeth? Then we have Akiva, the seraphim out to kill the chimera. Sure he is a bit of your typically angsty, paranormal romancy guy, but he isn’t completely gone to the dark side. I liked the relationship and the mystery between Karou and Akiva.

And there is plenty of mystery in this book that is slowly revealed to the reader and to Karou. I like that Taylor reveals the mystery to both her character and the reader at the same time. I thought that was a nice was to write the book. There is the mystery of the chimera/serphamim war, the mystery of Akiva, the mystery of who or what Karou is, and the mystery of what happened when all the portals burned. They are all answered by the end of the book and the answers just leave you wanting more! I really can’t wait for the next book in this series.

23. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Tammy · Tags: , , , ,

The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai , read by Tammy, on 03/22/2012

The BorrowerLucy Hull, a young children’s librarian in Hannibal, Missouri stumbles into a moral dilemma when she finds her favorite patron, ten-year-old Ian camped out in the library after hours with a knapsack of provisions and an escape plan from his homophobic parents.The precocious Ian is addicted to reading, but needs Lucy’s help to smuggle books past his overbearing mother.  Lucy allows herself to be hijacked by Ian. The odd pair embarks on a crazy road trip from Missouri to Vermont, with ferrets, an inconvenient boyfriend, and upsetting family history thrown in their path. Lucy is running away from as much or more than Ian.

There is a love of books and reading throughout this book which is quite enjoyable. How books can open new world’s to the reader and even rescue a person dealing with an overwhelming situation in their life is a wonderful message. Lucy’s relationships with Ian, her family and her friends will keep you interested but for a character who claims to be open-minded she is very preachy about her personal beliefs and why everyone else is wrong. I found the repetitive restatements of why Ian’s parents are in Lucy’s words  “completely wrong and prejudice” annoyingly ironic.

23. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Horror, Mystery

Outbreak by Robin Cook, read by Angie, on 03/22/2012

There are outbreaks of Ebola all over the country. The CDC sends Dr. Blumenthal to take care of it. Of course she doesn’t get the support she needs from the upper echelon of the CDC because her superior wants to sleep with her. All the outbreaks seem to be connected. All the patient zeros attended the same conference and they were all mugged. No one will listen to Dr. Blumenthal. Then she goes rogue and she is hunted across the country by this shadowy medical group behind the outbreak.

The book was a bit lame with bits of excitement in between. It wasn’t horrible though. I have definitely read worse books. I found it hard to believe that the doctors at the CDC would be so petty that they would sexually harass and let personal feelings and grudges interfere with Ebola outbreaks around the country. I will suspend believe about the medical group behind the outbreaks. But I had a huge issue with the turnaround at the end. It was like Cook just gave up writing and decided he needed to finish the book and needed a happy ever after. Poorly done. Subject was interesting just poorly executed.

I read the ebook version of this book available through Overdrive.

23. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Classics, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume, read by Angie, on 03/22/2012

I am not sure how I went through childhood not reading this book since it seems like it is such a classic coming of age ritual now, but somehow I did. I kind of wish I would have read it as a 10 or 12 year old. I think Margaret’s story, while a little dated, has such universal appeal that all young girls can relate to it. I can see why it has become the classic it has.

Margaret is just like every tween girl I have ever known or was. She is worried about growing up, school, boys, friends, her body. The unique thing about Margaret is that she wonders about religion. She comes from a mixed religion family: her mom is Christian her dad is Jewish but really they don’t practice any religion. Her parents are going to let her decide what she wants to believe when she is old enough. Margaret talks to God all the time but she doesn’t have a religion.

I really enjoyed Margaret’s story and her journey. I think her her struggles are ones that all young girls can identify with. Who didn’t worry about getting boobs or what your friends were wearing or what boys were cute? I understand putting the period in a positive light but I am not sure I know of any girls who actually looked forward to getting their period or were that excited about it. That might have been the only part I found the least bit unrealistic. The rest of the book seems like a look at a typical 6th grader. Sure it was a bit dated in parts, but that added to the charm. I think it definitely stands the test of time.

22. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Fiction, Teen Books

Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson, read by Courtney, on 03/20/2012

This is my first time reading Jacqueline Woodson’s work, though not, by any stretch, my first time reading about addiction. Laurel is a girl from coastal Mississippi who loses her mother and grandmother in a hurricane and eventually moves north with her father and brother to start a new life. Laurel starts out well in her new town. She joins the cheerleading team, makes a new best friend and meets a basketball player that makes her swoon. Unfortunately, as in so many rural areas, the kids like to “party” and Laurel’s crush-turned-boyfriend introduces her to meth (“moon”, as they call it). Within a few months, Laurel is living on the street, busking for change to feed her habit.
This novel is written more as an elegy. Laurel is a writer and continues her craft even through the lowest points of addiction. Laurel is one of the more sympathetic addict-characters I’ve come across. She is a young woman in a lot of pain, seeking acceptance and love from new and potentially dangerous sources. She will do anything to numb the pain of loss, even as she realizes that her new habit is destroying her. Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it resides in her father, her brother and a young graffiti artist who paints memorial portraits for families who have lost children to addiction. This is a solid story that rises above “problem novel” status. Laurel’s story feels very real and nuanced. The writing has a lovely dream-like quality to it in spite of the tough subject matter.

22. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Melody

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan, read by Melody, on 03/18/2012

One of the best books I have read this year, When She Woke is a thought provoking channeling of The Scarlet Letter and The Handmaidens Tale.  Set in the near future, Hannah Payne lives in an America where women have few rights and the church and state are synonymous.  Instead of imprisonment for most crimes, the offender is genetically altered to be a color to match their crime, murderers are crimson, sex offenders blue, other criminals orange and yellow, and then they are sent back into society.  Hannah was caught after having an abortion and is a now a Red.   Her religious family is horrified, her lover is a up and coming married minister, and she is left on her own to find her way in a hostile and dangerous world.    When She Woke is both very prescient and pertinent in our current political climate.  The novel is a retelling of The Scarlet Letter and closely follows to classic’s plot, which inevitably leads to serious foreshadowing, whether that was the author’s intention or not, I am undecided.  To be clear, I found When She Woke to be a great read but not a literary classic like either A Scarlet Letter or The Handmaiden’s Tale.  When She Woke is a definite book to be read and discussed.

22. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Melody, Paranormal, Teen Books

Fairy Tales and Nightmares by Melissa Marr, read by Melody, on 03/09/2012

Melissa Marr is one of my favorite young adult writers and Fairy Tales and Nightmares did not disappoint.  Very good collection of fantasy and paranormal short stories.  Two of the stories deal with characters from her Wicked Lovely series of book so someone who hasn’t read the series might not enjoy them as much as some of the other stories.  She is a good writer with a deft hand and great character and plot development. 

22. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Melody, NonFiction, Travel

Frommer's Cruises and Ports of Call by Matt Hannafin and Heidi Sarna, read by Melody, on 03/14/2012

Very informational and useful.  While rather out of date, 2007, most of the information still seems to apply.  The first section of the book is general cruise information; what cabin to choose, where to go, what to pack.  The middle section discusses the different cruise lines and ships, their strengths and weaknesses, programs, how many pools, ect.  The last section, which was the most useful to me, is about ports of call in the Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii, and the continental US.  It lists some of the sites in each port, restaurants, shopping, and the best, how accessible is the port.  Some ports are in warehouse districts with a mile or two walk to any sort of site and some are close to town or even better, the beach.  It was very helpful to be able to know whether I should book an excursion with the ship or if my family would be able to walk to somewhere.