15. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

Amano : the complete prints of Yoshitaka Amano by Amano, Yoshitaka , read by Kira, on 03/11/2012

Amano has a really cool style,  I don’t like a number of his subjects, however, Not the most woman friendly stuff.  But I love the swirling/driving flow of his style.  I wish all of the prints were full-sized, a number of them are pretty small.  The colors in this book seem more garish, than what I’ve seen online.

Interesting

15. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction, Science

This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Levitin, Daniel J., read by Kira, on 03/16/2012

This Is Your Brain on MusicAwesome book!  the brain psychology of how music affects us.  Music is like language, you’re open to many styles when you’re young, but like a language you respond to the musical culture that you grew up in.

 

You have gazillions of neurons, did you know that if you handed out a dollar bill every second, you’d be 2/3rds of the way through the number of neurons you possess, If you started at about the time Jesus was born.  Trippin!

 

Nitpicks – you do NOT share 50% of your genes with your siblings, you share 50% of your genes with your bio parents, you share less than 50% with your sibs (unless you’re an identical twin).

The author ignores the fact that Rosalind Franklin is one of the discoverers of the shape of the double-helix DNA structure – plenty of time has passed for science to catch up on this theft of her material (its true).

Tell me about the science, please omit the personalities and hero-worshiping involved.

But these are really MINOR nitpicks.

15. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

Matched by Ally Condie, read by Andrea, on 03/15/2012

MatchedCassia is just a normal teenager excited about growing up and finding love, getting a job, and starting a family. The only problem is, she will never have the freedom to choose any of that. The Society, through decades of shaping and perfecting a sophisticated Matching system based on character traits of each individual, chooses everyone’s life for them. Utopia in disguise, the Society’s decisions are all a ruse to fully control the people of the different Provinces within Society. When Cassia receives her ideal husband at her Match Banquet, she can’t believe her luck. However, a small Society mistake makes her question whether their choice for her lifelong love could be wrong.

A 2012 Gateway Readers Award Nominee, this book is a strong reminder of how valuable the ability to choose in life is and how it feels when that gift is taken away.

15. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Cats, Crafts, How To's, Kira, NonFiction

Crafting with cat hair : cute handicrafts to make with your cat by Tsutaya, Kaori , read by Kira, on 03/09/2012

Loved the little cat puppets.  I suspect my short-haired cats fur would be difficult to work with.  Its interesting to note that most of the projects used felt as a background for felting a picture on top of.

15. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Multicultural Fiction, Romance

Habibi by Craig Thompson, read by Andrea, on 03/14/2012

HabibiThere is not enough space or time to describe how much I enjoyed this book. I can pretty much see myself prattling on about this book for years to come. Chock full of symbolism, parallelism, comparisons and contrasts, Habibi (my love) is a tale of loss and pain, but most importantly (I know it’s cliche) the power of love. Dodola, a child bride, is captured by slavers who murder her older husband. On the run, she rescues a younger slave boy, Zam, and the two become refugees together. They find a wrecked ship they decide to call home in the middle of the desert between where they escaped and the large city/corporation of Wanatolia. Dodola raises Zam as her son, and to feed them both, she prostitutes herself to the caravans that pass by their hiding place. The bond between these two becomes unbreakable even when they become separated. The Arabic calligraphy throughout the book is very interesting and the connections made between reader and Thompson’s pen can pretty much (in my humble opinion) be described as nothing less than epic.

14. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Tracy

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards, read by Tracy, on 03/13/2012

The Memory Keeper's DaughterWe all have secrets we keep to ourselves. Dr. David Henry lived with a secret all his life. When his wife gives birth to twins he discovers the girl has Down’s syndrome while the boy is normal. In the 60′s it was believed that any one with Down’s would have many medical problems and would be labeled retarded. So he gives his daughter to his assistant Caroline and tells her to take her to an institution. He then tells his wife their daughter has died. Caroline also has a secret. She keeps the baby and raises her as her own. It’s a bittersweet story about life and why we live the lives we choose to live. We have to except the choices we make.

 

13. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Romance, Teen Books · Tags:

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White, read by Courtney, on 03/12/2012

A fun take on the paranormal genre. Evie has spent most of her life living with and working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency. She’s got a special talent that enables her to see through the glamours projected by paranormal beings. Which is handy, since her job entails tracking them down, knocking them out and tagging them so that they can be tracked (or killed if they attempt to do any harm). Most of these paranormals wind up living at and working for the IPCA, so they make up that majority of Evie’s company. All Evie really wants is a chance at being a normal teenager, not that it’s going to happen. One night, a strange shape-shifting being breaks in and life as Evie knows it begins to change.
It’s certainly entertaining enough. The storyline is considerably different from the rest of the paranormal genre, which is refreshing. Evie’s a fun character with a good sense of humor and her relationship with Lend is sweet and squeaky clean. While this is a book with fairly broad appeal, it’s not particularly thought-provoking and the cover is atrocious. I have a hard time envisioning any boys picking this one up, but since it’s on the Truman Awards list, maybe they will. Still, it’s a pretty girly pick.

13. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet

The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell & Dustin Thomason, read by Janet, on 03/01/2012

The Rule of FourThe hypnotic power of a 500 year old Renaissance diary carries from father to son and other Princeton students as they try to solve the hidden mysteries in it.  Due to the age of the volume and the unique way clues are given, the students must seek a lot of information from other sources to understand the secret message divulged by the Hypnerotomachia.  The reader is carried into campus activity, the life of maturing students, love and death, and many references to the knowledge of ancient philosophers.  I found it very educational as well as hard-to-put-down.

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

Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin , read by Angie, on 03/12/2012

Jason has autism and sees the world differently than everyone else. He struggles with communicating with the NTs, he doesn’t like looking people in the eye, he sometimes has strange movements. But what he does like is to write stories and post them on the Storyboard website. Then one day he makes a friend on the website, a girl friend, and he thinks she could be his first girlfriend. They chat and read each others stories and everything is great until Jason finds out they are both going to the Storyboard Convention. What will she think when she finds out he isn’t a typical boy?

I found Jason’s story heartbreaking, enlightening, and wonderful. I thought it was a pretty accurate look into the life of an autistic boy even if I don’t know that much about autism. I thought Baskin probably nailed the characteristics of autism and the mannerism and what a typical day would be like for someone with autism. They see the world differently than “normals”. It isn’t a bad way to see the world it is just different and for that they are often mistreated and misunderstood. I thought Jason’s story opened a window into that world and I really enjoyed my peak into it.

13. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Janet, NonFiction

William Augustus Bowles, Director General of the Creek Nation by J. Leitch Wright, Jr., read by Janet, on 03/07/2012

William Augustus Bowles, Director General of the Creek NationThis is the biography of a very busy young man who was born in Maryland to British parents, joined the Maryland Loyalists when the American Revolution broke out, became unhappy with military life and joined the Indians, then spent the rest of his short life working with both sections.  He married two Indian women and a white woman and had a family with each.  He was talented in theater, art, baking, trading, and outdoor sports.  He tried to establish an independent Indian Nation aligned with Britain, but was unsuccessful.  He was captured by Spanish-American-half-breed soldiers at a council meeting and placed in a fort cell in Havana.  There, Bowles was chained in a dungeon and eventually starved to death.  This was a tragic end of a colorful and controversial figure who was a natural leader and was both admired and disliked by many political groups,  He had wide-spread interests and was at home in both a London drawing room or an Indian village

12. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fantasy · Tags:

Hidden by Kelley Armstrong, read by Brian, on 03/12/2012

Kelley Armstrong is one of my favorite authors and she is known for her “Otherworld” series. Hidden is book for the fan of the series as it a way to say goodbye to some characters.  However, if you have never read an Otherworld novella then is a nice treat and fun to read.  The story centers around Clay and Elena and their twins, Kate and Logan as they are in wilderness celebrating the Christmas holiday.  The special thing about this family is they are werewolves [the twins are too young to know this] and Clay is the Alpha and Elena is his mate.  Wherever these two go, trouble soon follows and personal time is hard to come by and this trip is no exception.  Enjoying time with their family, Clay and Elena are thrown into mystery and mayhem when a mutt enters their family circle.  Trying to keep their identities secret and protecting the family the couple go an investigation which leads them to mysterious deaths of some local citizens.  This  is a good quick read.

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

Chewing Gum, Candy Bars & Beer: The Army Px In World War II by James J. Cooke, read by Tammy, on 03/12/2012

Chewing Gum, Candy Bars & BeerThis book is full of facts about groups supplying American troops with comfort items from the civil war forward of course the main emphasis is WWII.
Private citizens followed troops around from campsite to campsite selling items for whatever prices they wanted to the soldiers during the civil war. Once World War I started the government didn’t want the soldiers to be cheated like they often had been in the past so they started letting only a few approved vendors sell items like chewing gum, candy, beer, ice cream, razors etc., to the troops. The logistics of keeping supplies with the men, often meant things had to be shipped with the military supplies and the army determined it would be easier and better if they were in charge of all moral booster shops or “post exchanges” or PX’s.
The book also talks about day to day life of the troops and of citizens in both the Pacific and European theaters but mainly in Europe where the soldiers and citizens mingled more often. European civilians often thought all Americans were rich because they had luxury items like chocolate when the civilians had been on strict rations for years for basics like floor and milk. Much stricter rations than the U.S. civilians had at the same time.
I thought it was touching that the majority of soldiers stationed in Germany at the end of the war tried to help the German civilians they encountered and the regular German soldiers. They knew that these German citizens had been victims of the Nazis and the government and they felt that giving humanitarian aid to the citizens would also improve relations between the countries later (taken from several soldiers personal letters back home — not official statements.) It is sad that “fresh” soldiers who never saw battle sent in to replace the war-battered troops for “peace keeping” often treated all the Germans the same and regarded all of them as the enemy, whereas the men who had actually been fired upon by German troops forgave the common soldier and knew the civilians should not be blamed

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

The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice, read by Angie, on 03/12/2012

Groovy dreams of going to cooking school. She cooks for her family and keeps a book of all her recipes. Her life is going well until the day her dad is arrested right in front of her. She finds out that her mom turned him in because he stole and gambled away Groovy’s inheritance. Now Groovy has to come to terms with her anger and sense of betrayal at her parents actions.

This is a wonderful story about a girl coming to grips with her situation. She has to grow up and face the fact that her parents are perfect and that they make mistakes. She has to decide if she can forgive those mistakes, which is not an easy decision. Groovy is a wonderful character and this is a really well written book. The chapters are short but packed with a lot of information. There is a lot more going on than just Groovy’s problems. The pacing of the story keeps you turning the pages and wanting more. By the end of the book, you are ready to face the world with Groovy no matter what comes.

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

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper, read by Angie, on 03/11/2012

Melody is not like other children. She has cerebral palsy (CP), she can’t talk, she can’t walk, she can’t feed herself, she is completely dependent on those around her. However, she is extremely smart even if no one realizes it. She has a photographic memory; she remembers everything she has ever heard or seen. Melody has always been in the “special” class at school, but this year in 5th grade she is integrated into normal classes. She has also always been limited in her what she can say by her speech board, but that will all change when she gets a MediTalker to help her speak for herself. This is Melody’s story. It is about how she deals with life and how those around her deal with her.

I really enjoyed this book. I think Draper did an excellent job of showing what it is like to live with CP. I believe her daughter has CP so she does have personal experience to draw from. Melody is an inspirational character and one you really want to cheer for. She does not let her disability get her down even though she does have bad days. Her story makes you look at yourself a little differently and how you live your life and how you treat those around you.

As wonderful as I thought this book was I don’t think it is without flaws. I wonder about Melody’s situation in regards to real life. Would she really be in a special ed classroom until 5th grade when she is as bright as she is? She has a speech board but there are several times that she can’t tell her family things…why couldn’t she spell it out? Maybe this was just left out of the book but even as smart as she was wouldn’t she need some kind of language therapy or something to learn speech if she has never spoken or written language? Like I said maybe that is not written but it is implied but it really did seem like Melody was super smart (a little too smart maybe to be realistic) and didn’t need any help figuring things out; all she needed was something to help her talk.

The other thing I thought was really out of place was the ending with Penny. I thought that was thrown in out of no where and didn’t fit with the rest of what was going on at that point in the book. At that point the school drama was front and center and should have been the climax of the book. Then you throw in this chapter about Penny that just throws things off. I didn’t think it fit and I really didn’t think it was needed. I thought Draper should have stuck to the school issues and ended there.

Overall this was an excellent book despite my issues with it. It raises awareness of a disability that is not often discussed in children’s literature and it does it in a respectful and powerful way. I think kids will enjoy Melody’s story and be moved by it. 2012-13 Missouri Mark Twain Award Nominee.

11. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction · Tags:

Half Upon a Time by James Riley, read by Angie, on 03/10/2012

Poor Jack. He is not having a good day. He failed his princess rescuing training, but who cares because there aren’t a lot of princesses anyway and royalty is a pain. His father has disappeared (Jack of Jack and the beanstalk). And he has to listen to his grandfather go on about all his adventures. Then a princess falls from the sky…a Punk Princess to be exact (it says so on her shirt). May isn’t like a normal princess, but her grandmother has been kidnapped and they must go on a guest to find her. Thus begins a journey into fairy tales (but fairies don’t have tails insists Jack) where we meet the Big Bad Wolf, Red Hood, Snow White, the Wicked Queen, Rapunzel and more.

I love stories that take things we think we know and turn them on their head. This one takes traditional fairy tale characters and tweaks their stories a bit. It puts them all in a world where they coexists and interact and which seems as real as our world…although it does take May a little while to come to grips with it. This is a fast pace adventure novel that throws one fairy tale after another at you. But it works. I think the characters and the plot are all woven together pretty well. I think Jack is a wonderful Hero; he is not the best Hero to be sure but he has courage and spunk even if he can’t pass all his tests. Phillip, the prince they pick up along the way, is your typical prince; he is perfect at everything he does. He gets on Jack’s nerves but it really works for the story and I enjoy his back story and how it intersects with Jack’s. If there is one character I wasn’t as fond of it is probably May. She seems inconsistent. At times she was wonderful and spunky and just the type you wanted in your heroine; at other times she was spoiled and too caught up in princesses/princes.

The ending of this book does not wrap up the storylines. There is another book coming out called Twice Upon a Time which will hopefully take care of at least some of the dangling threads from this one. This is a very creative series and a fun adventurous read. 2012-13 Missouri Mark Twain Award Nominee.

10. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Mystery, Tracy

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley, read by Tracy, on 03/10/2012

I Am Half-Sick of ShadowsI guess you could call Flavia De Luce a child prodigy. Not many girls aged 11 have their own laboratory full of test tubes and chemicals. But she also is unsure if there really is a Father Christmas. In this book a film crew has arrived at Buckshaw, the family estate, to film a movie and help keep the bill collectors at bay.  Of course there is a murder and Flavia who is very observant and knows all the hiding places is anxious to help. The star of the film,  Phyllis Wyvern, has agreed to recreate a scene from Romeo and Juliet for the villagers on Christmas Eve. But a snow storm keeps everyone at the estate while the murder occurs.  The timeline is post WWII so there aren’t many modern conveniences. A house full of suspects keeps Flavia busy but she also shares her finding with the local police Inspector.  This is the fourth book and they just keep getting better.

09. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, read by Andrea, on 03/09/2012

Artemis FowlWhile looking for another book, I came across Artemis Fowl and couldn’t resist reading it again. I read it when it first came out several years ago and sadly my interest for the series tapered off. I decided to reread the first one and finish up the series. Artemis is basically a 12 year old technologically advanced and tactically intelligent child prodigy. Much to Artemis’s dismay, the Fowl family fortune has been tainted by years of poor choices and a few criminal run-ins. Although still quite rich, Artemis is bent on stealing a massive amount of gold from “The People” or magical fairies, dwarfs, goblins and sprites that live underground in order to fund his quest to restore the Fowl name. Dry humor is worked into the storyline through Foaly (my favorite character), a technology savvy centaur working to rescue Holly, a LEPrecon fairy who has become a kidnapping victim as part of Artemis’s scheme to snatch some fairy gold. Along with Foaly, the other members of Holly’s LEP team work frantically to save her and their people’s secrets. The book, from what I remember, was as good as the first time I read it.

09. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Mystery, Tracy

The Highly Effective Detective Crosses the Line by Richard Yancey, read by Tracy, on 03/09/2012

The Highly Effective Detective Crosses the LineTeddy Ruzak has all the things he needs to be a detective. An office,  a secretary that he is in love with and business cards. Other than that he is clueless. A former security guard at a bank he inherits some money from his mother and decides to try his hand at detecting.  This is the fourth book in the series and it starts out very tongue in cheek but gets serious quickly.  A friend hires him to keep an eye on his daughter whose former boyfriend is out of prison for assaulting her. Most of this book is made up of dialogue. It makes for a fast read. Just a warning, you may want to skip this book if you are a dog person.

08. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocolyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Teen Books

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, read by Angie, on 03/08/2012

I have been on the Hunger Games bandwagon from the very beginning and my love of this book does not diminish with the second reading. Katniss is a great character. She isn’t the strongest, smartest or prettiest girl, but she is a strong character with excellent survival instincts. I really enjoyed how she learned to play the game. It was all about survival for her but she didn’t comprise who she was as a person. I think she is a much better role model for young readers than some of the other female protagonists that appear in teen literature today.

I also appreciate the fact that this book doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending and everything isn’t perfect at it’s conclusion. I also like the fact that the love story isn’t front and center to this book. It is present but it isn’t what this book is about. This book is so much more than a teen angsty love story and I for one am glad. I also like that none of the horror of the world or the Games is whitewashed; it is a brutal world and we get to see it in all its guts and glory. We see exactly what lengths the Capital will go for entertainment and to keep the districts in line.

Suzanne Collins created something truly wonderful in this series and I am glad that it caught on with the public.

07. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Mystery, Tracy

Death of a Kingfisher by M.C. Beaton, read by Tracy, on 03/07/2012

Death of a KingfisherHamish MacBeth is perfectly happy being the bobby in a small village in Scotland. He knows all the villagers and who has the latest gossip. When a kingfisher is killed he suspects it’s a publicity stunt for the tourist attraction Buchan’s Wood. Than the murders start and Hamish is determined to find the killers. I’ve read all the Hamish MacBeth books and they are all good. The author M.C. Beaton seems to enjoy putting him in danger of bad guys and women who fancy him. She also is good at describing the scenery and climate of the Scottish highlands. If it weren’t for all the murders you almost  want to go visit the charming village of Lochdubh.