31. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Teen Books

Paper Towns by John Green, 332 pages, read by NIkki, on 05/27/2012

This book for me was mediocre, I don’t know if that’s because I read The Fault in our Stars first and loved it, so assumed this book would reel me in just as well. The characters to me are easily forgotten. None the less the book was still good.

31. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet, NonFiction · Tags:

One Kingdom - Our Lives With Animals - The Human-Animal Bond in Myth, History, Science, and Story by Deborah Noyes, 128 pages, read by Janet, on 05/31/2012

Mankind has always wanted to know more about the animal kingdom.  Some animals have been feared, some depicted as gods, some made into pets, and others used for food.  The author tells a story of many animals as individuals or as groups, from the ancient past to the present.  Excellent photographs and drawings clearly show the animal being described.  She brings out many questions that have been asked about the relationship of humans and animals through the years.  General information about the situation is given, but readers are allowed to make their own decisions. She describes their lives in the free world and in zoos.  At the end, she lets the reader feel and see the world as an animal would, to help us understand their feelings and actions.  I found this to be a verywarm, clear description, easily understood by young readers.

31. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Teen Books

Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan, 332 pages, read by Andrea, on 05/30/2012

For me, this book was all about being in the right/wrong place at the right/wrong time. Blake, a 16 year old high school freshman, has everything a teenage boy could want. He has awesome parents, a great girlfriend, cool friends and a great girl friend. Blake loves Shannon, but he also cares about Marissa as a friend. Shannon has the perfect home life. Marissa has an awful home life. Marissa, more than anything else, needs a friend who can understand her. Blake finds himself worrying more about Marissa than his own girlfriend. Thus, he has a girlfriend he thinks he loves and needs and a friend who needs him. At the risk of losing his perfect teenage life, he pretty much makes it his mission to get Marissa out of a lot of sticky situations, mainly situations with her meth addicted mother. Although I thought this was a typical YA book, it was pretty interesting how Blake matures as a person through his relationship with Shannon and Marissa and how he struggles to understand what love is and what he feels is the right thing to do.

2011-12 Gateway Readers Award Nominee and Winner of the William C. Morris Debut Novel Award

31. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Teen Books

Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral, 272 pages, read by Andrea, on 05/30/2012

Cliche but true, the Chinese proverb “One picture is worth ten thousand words” comes to life in this book. Chopsticks left my head full of questions. I found myself questioning my understanding of the story. That seemed to be the most interesting part of the book. Everything is subjective to the readers’ interpretations.

My Interpretation — It opens with pictures of breaking news stories about Glory Fleming, a piano prodigy, who has gone missing. Rewind 18 months before and Glory’s story starts to come into focus. Glory lives with Victor, her dad, piano instructor and manager (eek). She and her father have been through a lot of hard situations together, mainly the death of Glory’s mother, Maria. It almost seems like Victor used Glory and her talent as a way to escape his grief. Instead of helping Glory deal with the tragedy of losing her mother, he gets her to focus more on her piano skills, thinking that his way of dealing with death is right for Glory too. Just when you think Glory is going to be forever stuck with her father and a piano, in comes the cute Latino boy next door. All of Glory’s attention goes to Francisco “Frank” Mendoza. Her success as a prolific pianist seems to waver. Victor, thinking he is helping his daughter get over a “distraction,” sets up an international tour for Glory. She keeps in touch with Frank, but like all teenagers in love, is dissatisfied with not seeing him face to face. Glory crumbles mentally and seems drawn to playing Chopsticks during her concerts instead of famous sonatas she is so praised for playing. Her father brings her home and puts her into an institution for piano prodigies (aka. mental institution for piano prodigies gone unstable).

What really threw a wrench in my theory of Glory’s tale was the last few pages. The only thing I am sure of now is that Glory existed. She was a piano prodigy, possibly on her way to international immortality in the pianist world. She was mentally unstable. Other than that, all of my ideas are just my opinion. I think what was so successful about this book is that the authors didn’t spell out anything for you. They left the characters’ stories up to you. The message in this book was so strong I’m not sure words would be able to deliver the authors’ idea as well as the photos did. This was probably one of the most interesting books I have ever picked up. Interestingly enough, there is a digital version of this book where you can actually watch the youtube videos Glory and Frank IM to one another and see some select photos in the book through motion.

30. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Tammy · Tags:

The Last Continent (Discworld #22) by Terry Pratchett , 390 pages, read by Tammy, on 05/22/2012

On the Discworld’s last continent, it’s hot. It’s dry. . . very dry. There was this thing once called the Wet, which no one now believes in. Practically everything that’s not poisonous is venomous. It will all die in a few days, except. . . Who is this hero striding across the red desert? Champion sheep shearer, horse rider, road warrior, beer drinker. A man in a hat, whose Luggage follows him on little legs, Yes . . . all this place has between itself and wind-blown doom is Rincewind, the inept wizard. He was accidentally sent to the fabled continent of xxxx (since people weren’t sure it existed why name it) when the wizards of Unseen University tried to return him from the Counterweight Continent . Now guided by a spirit guide (kangaroo shaped of course) Rincewind tries to stay out of trouble and just get home. The last continent curiously resembles Australia in some rather amusing ways.

 

30. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Tammy · Tags:

Interesting Times (Discworld #17) by Terry Prachett, 400 pages, read by Tammy, on 05/18/2012

Rincewind’s adventures on the Counterweight Continent: the home of Twoflowers. The people think he’s The Great Wizard come to help them start a revolt against the emperor, mayhem and mischief ensue. The story also features the famous barbarian horde leader, Ghenghiz Cohen, known as Cohen the Barbarian. Cohen is a fun, fictional character in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels that began as a parody of the famous pulp hero Conan the Barbarian and Genghis Khan all rolled up into one.

30. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , , , ,

Baking with the Cake Boss: 100 of Buddy's Best Recipes and Decorating Secrets by Buddy Valastro, 337 pages, read by Tammy, on 05/24/2012

TLC Cake Boss host Buddy Valastro insists that baking gets a bad rap only because most home cooks never learn the basics that enable them to build on their talents, as it were, layer by layer. Baking with the Cake Boss gently guides you through; from simple cookie treats to pies, pastries, and, yes, even those ornate decorated cakes that make bridesmaids swoon. Complete with step-by-step instructional photos, how-to boxes and sidebars, and just the tips you need to make your own yummy and beautiful desserts.

30. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Tammy · Tags:

Feet of Clay (Discworld # 19) by Terry Pratchett, 357 pages, read by Tammy, on 05/06/2012

A Golem that thinks for itself? A werewolf and a female dwarf on the Watch? What’s happening in Ahnk-Morpork? Vimes has all this going on and keeping his wife Lady Sybil happy by going to visit the local Heraldry shop about a family coat of arms and trying to figure out who is poisoning the regent and perhaps more importantly how and why?

30. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Literary Fiction, Tracy

The Various Flavors of Coffee by Anthony Capella, 544 pages, read by Tracy, on 05/30/2012

This book is about love, love of coffee. In the year 1896 Mr. Pinker knew that the time was right to expand his coffee business in Victorian London. When he overhears Robert Wallis in a local cafe complain about that “the coffee tastes rusty” he offers him a job developing a guide that would describe various coffees that he blends and sells. Robert is an unemployed poet who doesn’t know anything about money but knows how to describe the taste and smell of coffee. As the story develops we learn a lot about where coffee is grown and how the market works. Robert is very self centered but over time he grows up and falls in love with Emily the bosses daughter. He is sent to Africa to learn how to grow coffee. You can’t help but like him even though he only has two things on his mind. Women and coffee.

30. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance

The Clayborne Brides: One Pink Rose, One White Rose, One Red Rose by Julie Garwood , 464 pages, read by Angie, on 05/29/2012

The Clayborne Brides is three books in one. Three previously published novellas (One Pink Rose, One White Rose, One Red Rose) combined into one book about three of the Clayborne brothers: Travis, Douglas and Adam and how they met their wives. We met these brothers in For the Roses. These are quick little reads and nice romance stories. However, because they are so short there isn’t really a lot of time to develop the stories. The romance seems rushed and the villains seem very one dimensional. These books come off being a bit formulaic and not as fun as one of Garwood’s full length novels. Still for a bit of fluff they are a nice diversion.

29. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Mystery · Tags:

The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley, 162 pages, read by Kira, on 05/18/2012

   I enjoyed Franny Billingsley’s book Chime so much, that I decided to check out her earlier fiction aimed at children.  The protagonist keeps the “folk” at bay in the houses she serves, if she doesn’t she is the first line of defense and suffers intense pain and the possibility of death.  She comes to a new estate where the “folk” are much fiercer than what she is accustomed to.  She is hiding the fact that she is a girl, because “folk keepers” are not supposed to be female.  She discovers other things about herself as she goes along.

Like Chime, the clues to the mystery are all out on display, easy to decipher, IF you know that there is a mystery to be solved, and if you can figure out which is the most important puzzle to solve.

So, you can see that Billingsley has really polished her writing over the years, but the essentials are present in this story.

29. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

Graceling by Kristin Cashore, 471 pages, read by Kira, on 05/16/2012

Great Read! this was recommended by Angie & Courtney a while back, so glad I finally picked it up.  Katsa has a special talent, the talent to kill.  Then she meets Po, also “graced” with the ability to fight.  Join Katsa as she travels across the 5 lands and learns more about her grace and the world and its possibilities.

29. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Mystery, Teen Books

The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison, 325 pages, read by Courtney, on 05/27/2012

Penelope “Lo” Marin has not been the same since her brother died. Not that she was ever “normal” to begin with. She’s always had her rituals, the ones that make it OK for her to face her day. But when Oren died, Lo got much, much worse. She’s now taken to exploring parts of the city and stealing objects that call to her. On one of these expeditions, she is nearly killed by a loose bullet being fired in a nearby house. As it turns out, that particular bullet had already taken the life of another young woman known only as Sapphire, a local stripper. When Lo finds Sapphire’s stolen possessions at a local flea market, she feels an immediate sense of connection and quickly becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened to Sapphire. Unfortunately, someone knows that Lo has been asking questions and begins sending her grim messages to threaten her. Her mental illness makes the police blow her off, which makes Lo realize that she needs to find the killer before Lo shares Sapphire’s fate.
This is a genuinely interesting mystery with a very unusual protagonist. Lo is unlike any character I’ve met and though she seems troubled and clearly in need of a good mental health practitioner, she is also incredibly brave and thoughtful. She understands that the kids living in Neverland, a mecca for squatters, artists and addicts, are not nearly as threatening as those that are out there to take advantage of them. Lo does many things that most of us would not even consider attempting and, while not always well-advised, she makes decisions with conviction and likely understands herself better than most teens her age. A taut thriller with a twist.

29. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Science Fiction, Teen Books

The Obsidian Blade (The Klaatu Diskos, Book One) by Pete Hautman, 320 pages, read by Courtney, on 05/24/2012

Tucker’s life is getting strange. First, his father disappears off of the roof and then walks back to the house an hour later. With a girl that Tucker’s never seen before. And his father looks older too. But this is nothing compared to the shock that Tucker’s father, the town minister, has declared that there is no God and that there’s no point in praying. Things begin unraveling shortly thereafter. The girl is as mysterious as they come. No one believes that Tucker sees what he thinks are ghosts and everyone’s got an answer for that strange blurry circular thing Tucker keeps seeing in various places. Worst of all, Tucker’s mother is going completely, irreversibly insane. Her behavior has altered so dramatically that doctors try to tell Tucker and his father that she’s autistic. None of this will make sense until Tucker is able to figure out what happened to begin this chain of events. And that will involve a much closer look at those odd discs.
Extra-dimensional beings and inter-dimensional portals? Yes, please! And time travel too? Be still my heart. Here’s a series that promises great things and I can’t wait for the next installment.

29. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal, Romance · Tags:

Second grave on the lef by Darynda Jones, 307 pages, read by Kira, on 05/25/2012

  2nd book in the series, where more family background is explained.  Interesting series.  Am waiting for the third book on CD.

29. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Helen · Tags: , ,

The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye, 414 pages, read by Helen , on 05/29/2012

If you like historical fiction, this is a well-written story.  It is set in 1845 in New York during the time that the city formed its first police force. It deals with racism, not only toward blacks, but the Irish immigrants that are fleeing the potato famine. When children’s bodies are discovered, the newly appointed “copper” (The term comes from the copper stars the new police force wore), Timothy Wilde, must use his skills to solve the mystery. The story is set in the most notorious of New York’s wards back then, the Sixth Ward, which lies next to Five Points, a horrible slum.
I really enjoyed this book. It has a lot historical references to New York City politics and how corrupt it all was. But author, Lyndsay Faye had done her homework as far as painting a visual image of the disgusting living conditions that people lived in back then but then wrote an intriguing story as well.

This book was a starred review by Publishers Weekly.

29. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal, Romance · Tags:

First grave on the right by Darynda Jones. by Darynda Jones, 310 pages, read by Kira, on 05/07/2012

Protagonist is a Grim Reaper (yep something different from the vampires, werewolves, etc).  She can talk to the dead who haven’t crossed over yet, which is very helpful in her PI work.  She also has a love interest with supernatural powers (to say the least).  The BCD received great reviews (though I didn’t care for the audio narrator’s voice for the main character).  What the review didn’t mention was just how spicy some of the scenes are. 

29. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance

For the Roses by Julie Garwood , 497 pages, read by Angie, on 05/28/2012

Four young boys are living on the streets of New York when suddenly a woman throws a basket into their alley. The basket will change their world. The basket contains a baby girl. The boys decide to leave the city and raise the girl. They end up in Blue Belle, Montana and the become the Clayborne family: Adam, Douglas, Clay, Travis and Mary Rose. Together they build a life and a family, but it is all going to change when Harrison McDonald comes to town. He is looking for the long lost daughter of his employer and thinks he has found her in Mary Rose. But he has also found the woman he loves and wants to spend the rest of his life with.

This is a fun, easy romance book. I enjoyed the interactions between the characters; everyone has their own voice and they are all interesting and entertaining. The romance and the story progress naturally and in a fun to read way. Mary Rose and Harrison are obviously meant for each other they just have to figure out how to live with each other. Julie Garwood is good for historical romances and this one doesn’t disappoint.

29. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Mystery, Teen Books

Rosebush by Michele Jaffe, 326 pages, read by Angie, on 05/26/2012

Jane is one of the most popular girls in school so why would someone try to kill her? That is the question she is asking herself when she wakes up in a hospital bed after being run over. She has no memory of her accident and she suspects everyone. She has to piece together her memories of that night before the killer strikes again.

This is a seat of your pants kind of mystery. It alternates between the present and flashbacks as Jane slowly regains her memory. At one point or another you can pretty much suspect everyone as the killer. Although when the killer is revealed I am not sure the motives were exactly up to par. (view spoiler)

I enjoyed this book. It was a fun mystery. However, it is very teen-centric. The characters are very CW/Gossip Girl. Very concerned about fashion and gossip. And it was a little annoying that Jane seem to fall in love with every boy that came along some even within a couple of hours of each other. I’m not sure I would have been that concerned about romance when my life was in danger. Other than that I liked it.

29. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Graphic Novel

Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love by Chris Roberson , 144 pages, read by Angie, on 05/25/2012

Cinderella’s happily ever after didn’t work out so well so she became a spy for Fabletown. In this adventure, she has to find out who is selling magical items on the black market. It leads her to Aladdin and they team up and head to Ultima Thule a land where smiling is enforced at gun point. The villain turns out to be someone from Cinderella’s past.

This was an interesting tale. I like fairy tales turned on their head and this one does a good job of showing us modern day fairy tale characters. Cinderella as a spy was awesome and the pairing of her and Aladdin was fun. I also really enjoyed the villain in this story. It made for a nice twist and and exciting showdown. The flashbacks to Cindy’s past were seemlessly woven into the story and offered glimpses into her history. I also enjoyed the alternate storyline of her shoe store back in Fabletown.

I think my negative about this book was that it got preachy in several places and it really jarred you out of the narrative and didn’t seem to fit into the story. It was like the writer really wanted to make sure he stuck a political point in even if it didn’t fit. I think the story suffered for it. Not everything has to have a message about modern day politics. If it doesn’t fit the story don’t put it in! Other than that it was a fun book and very enjoyable.