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

Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson , read by Angie, on 05/24/2012

Alison awakes in a strange room; she doesn’t know where she is or why she is there. She has lost almost two weeks of her life. She discovers that she has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution and is a suspect in the disappearance of a classmate. Slowly she begins to remember that she is the last person to see Tori, but her memories can’t be right…because if they are Tori dissolved right in front of her! Thus begins Alison’s journey of discovering who and what she really is. She has always hidden her ability to see the world around her in a different way, but at Pine Hills she finds out that it is a condition called synesthesia. It is the ability to see words as colors and Alison has it in spades. But that still doesn’t explain how Tori disappeared or Alison’s mental breakdown.

This was such an interesting book. You never knew who to trust throughout the entire thing and at the end I am still not sure what to believe. Was Alison a reliable narrator? She had a mental breakdown. Can we trust her version of events? I think Anderson does a marvelous job of leaving that up to interpretation. You can decide for yourself what you believe at the end. I am not going to spoil it, but I think it is up for interpretation. Is is all part of Alison’s mental issues or did it really happen as described? I think that is the most interesting part of this book. We just don’t know for sure. That and the fact that it is beautifully written. I love the descriptions of the the synesthesia. It sounds like a horrible condition to have but Alison describes it beautifully. She can literally taste and see each word and letter and they all have their own personalities.

Very interesting book that you can draw your own conclusions about.

29. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Fantasy, Fiction, Science Fiction

The Eternity Code (Artemis Fowl #3) by Eoin Colfer, read by Andrea, on 05/25/2012

Artemis Fowl and his magical friends are back again after saving his father from a group of thugs. Fowl flags the fairies’ radar when he uses fairy technology to make a computer in an attempt to finally restore the Fowl fortune. Unfortunately, Fowl is compromised and gets his special computer stolen which he finds out could expose the entire fairy race and their location to the world. Once again, Artemis and Holly are partners fighting to keep the fairies’ secrets a secret.

Another fast paced and adventure filled Artemis book, I thought the Eternity Code was just as good as the first two.

 

26. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Tracy, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen, read by Tracy, on 05/26/2012

Summer is almost here and I found a good summer vacation book. It’s a love story and a mystery. Four young people in the town of Walls of Water, North Carolina are united by the mysterious body found under a peach tree. The Blue Ridge Madam is an old home that has been restored by socialite Paxton Osgood. The home was built by Willa Jackson’s great great grandfather but the family lost it after suffering financial problems. A reopening gala is planned when they discover the body under a peach tree that is being relocated. The only two people who really know  what happened are the two grandmothers who live in a retirement home in town. Willa falls in love with Paxton’s twin brother Colin and Paxton falls for Sebastion. It’s a small town but they all feel they belong there. Nice summer read.

26. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Tracy, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray, read by Tracy, on 05/26/2012

If you’ve ever gone to a store or restaurant and felt like you were invisible then you can relate to this book. Clover is in her mid 50′s and when she looked in the mirror one day and she had vanished. The strange thing is that no one noticed. Her husband and kids didn’t notice because she did all the things they expected her to do but they never really looked at her. When she saw an ad in the paper for a monthly meeting of invisible women she realized she wasn’t alone. All the women had one thing in common. They had taken several drugs from one pharmaceutical company for depression, menopause and calcium deficiency. Although Clover found out being invisible wasn’t all bad, she could eavesdrop on people, it was not going away. In the end the women gathered together to bring down the pharmacy and let the world know what they were doing. I kept waiting for Clover to reappear when she was out in public because she usually wore no clothes. But luckily it never happened.

24. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Fear (Gone #5) by Michael Grant, read by Angie, on 05/21/2012

Michael Grant is dark and brutal and pulls no punches and I LOVE it! Fear definitely ramps up the tension for the Gone series. You can tell the end is neigh and I for one can not wait to see how this series is going to play out.

In Fear, we have our two camps. King Caine in Perdido Beach ruling through fear and intimidation and Sam at the Lake just plugging along. There has been peace for about 4 months and both sides are a little bored. But be careful what you wish for because the Gaiaphage is never done with its plots and schemes. And of course Drake/Brittney is always willing to carry them out. They have a lot to deal with in this book. The dome is changing, it is going dark. Soon they will lose all their light, which means no food. That is when the fear and chaos sets in.

I think what I loved most about this book was the character growth. I mean Astrid alone changed so much. She has always been a black/white no gray type of girl which made her not very likeable. Her genius/virgin personality and her unwillingness to compromise her principles really set her apart in this world. But the new Astrid is someone who the people can relate to and seems more human. I also loved that Sam realized that he is not a leader…finally the bumbling can stop! He is their warrior, their champion, but he is not the leader. Quinn stepped up the plate, Diana became more human, Caine learned some humility. Everyone was changing in this book and I loved it. They are growing up. I also loved the look on the outside. For four books we have been wondering what was going on outside the dome and we finally got a glimpse. I have a feeling this is going to be explored even more in the next book.

As I said Grant is brutal. There are scenes in this book that made me cringe but I get it because the FAYZ is a brutal place. I’m a little sad about the treatment of some of our mainstay characters; seems like they were thrown away in this book, but that goes back to the brutality of this world. I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t talk about the ending or what we learn about the dome or Petey but only say OMG!

24. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books

Fire (Graceling Realm #2) by Kristin Cashore, read by Angie, on 05/23/2012

Fire is a monster; a beautiful monster who ensnares peoples minds, who can make them think and do things. But she doesn’t like being the only human monster in the Dells. She doesn’t want to be like her father who enjoyed manipulating and hurting people. She likes living on her own with people she knows and trusts around her. Then she meets the king and his brother and everything changes. Suddenly she is needed at court to help find out who is spying for the realm’s enemies. She is embroiled in court politics and becomes part of the royal family and she finds herself falling in love with Prince Brigan. But can anyone truly love a monster?

As all of Kristin Cashore’s books this is a beautifully written story about a woman trying to find her place in the world. Fire is strong and independent and powerful, but she is also vulnerable because of her power. She really finds her place in this book through her acceptance of who she is and what she can do with her power. I love how Cashore explores the concept of power. Specifically in this book power over people and how different people use it. She contrasts three different uses of very similar powers: Fire, Leck and Cansrel. They all use their powers to manipulate the minds of people but in different ways; only Fire seems to want to use hers for good.

This is a wonderful prequel to Graceling and does help with the backstory of Leck who is a major character in that book and Bitterblue. I love the world building in these books and think Cashore is wonderful. I can’t wait to see what else she comes up with.

23. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Dystopia, Romance, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, read by Courtney, on 05/21/2012

Aria’s life in Reverie has been relatively normal. She spends her time in the Realms, a virtual world accessed via “smarteyes”, hanging with her friends and meeting up with her mother periodically. When the link to the pod that her mother is living goes dead and stays dead for over a week, Aria begins to worry and takes a risk that ultimately gets her kicked out of Reverie and all the other pods. She has effectively become an outsider and is pretty sure that she won’t survive the first day outside the pods. In the meantime, an outsider named Peregrine has managed to temporarily break into Reverie after an aether storm destroyed part of the pod. He’s in search of medicine for his young nephew, Talon, but the same catastrophe that gets Aria in trouble also prevents Perry from succeeding in his risky mission (one that is forbidden by his tribe and has been undertaken in secret). Lucky for Aria, she narrowly misses getting killed by an aether storm due to Perry’s arrival on the scene. Together they must attempt to find common ground so that they can each stay alive long enough to do what they need to do.
In some ways, this felt like a sci-fi version of “Nation” by Terry Prachett. We have the “modern” girl and the “savage” outsider pushed into relying on each other for survival. So the overall storyline really isn’t anything new. I did like the setting and Aria’s transition from being weak and naive to finding her own skills and adapting to her surroundings. Perry is somewhat grumpy at the beginning, but warms up and fleshes out as a character. I never did get the whole “rendering” thing or why it mattered (aside from making Perry do things his character might not otherwise consider). The reasoning behind the outsiders and their special senses is not really explained either, though I suspect it will be developed more in later installments. I’m guessing genetics and natural selection, but we’ll see. An entertaining, but not life-changing, entry into the YA dystopian-romance cannon.

23. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books, Thriller/Suspense

The Children and the Wolves by Adam Rapp, read by Courtney, on 05/17/2012

OK, so I’ve heard that Adam Rapp’s writing is gut-wrenching. When I read the description of this book, I figured I’d see just how disturbing it could really get. Turns out, pretty darn chilling.
Three middle-school-aged kids have kidnapped a 4-year-old girl whom they refer to as “the Frog” and are keeping her in one of their basements. The culprits are Wiggins, Orange and Bounce. Bounce is both wealthy and intelligent, but appears to lack any sense of compassion and is thoroughly manipulative . Wiggins and Orange are both poor and not terribly bright. The boys are completely captivated by Bounce and will more or less do whatever she tells them to do. It is Bounce who has masterminded the kidnapping as part of a larger, darker scheme.
This book is dark, dark, dark. You’re not going to actually like any of the characters, except the Frog. You will, however, hear the story from each perspective, including the Frog (who, by the way, spends her days in the basement playing a super-creepy game that shares the same title as this book). Each voice is sharp and distinct and Rapp holds nothing back. This slim volume proves that, sometimes, even one sentence by a skilled writer can be more evocative than pages and pages of description from another. The brevity of this story only adds to its impact.

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

Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral, read by Courtney, on 05/16/2012

I’m not entirely sure how to begin describing this book. It’s a story told through pictures, IMs, letters, scrapbook memorabilia, artwork and the occasional bit of text (emphasis on the “occasional”). The reader is left to piece together these components to determine what exactly happened in this story. I *think* it’s about a teenaged female piano prodigy who has lost her mother under tragic circumstances. I *think* she falls in love with the boy next door. She is definitely missing; last seen outside the convalescent home she’s been temporarily living in. I *think* she’s a world-renowned pianist, but that the pressure has become too much, rendering her unable to play anything other than “Chopsticks”, even at Carnegie Hall. But when I got to the end of the book, I ceased to be sure of anything. And I love that sort of thing. I immediately began flipping back through to begin reinterpreting and kept coming to different conclusions.
Do me a favor. Read this one and tell me what you think happened. I feel like this is a book that demands discussion.

23. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Graphic Novel

Incorruptible by Mark Waid, read by Courtney, on 05/16/2012

So, Jailbait has run away and Max Damage is continuing to attempt figuring out how to actually be a superhero after all his time as a notorious supervillian. Concerned for Jailbait’s safety while on her own, Max coerces a woman he has recently saved into wearing her costume and posing as her to prevent knowledge of Jailbait’s absence from getting out. Max also starts to realize it’s not particularly heroic to have an underage sidekick and begins to come to terms with letting Jailbait go her own way, whether she wants to or not.
The moral conversion of a supervillian continues…

23. May 2012 · 1 comment · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Teen Books

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore, read by Courtney, on 05/15/2012

It feels like I waited forever for this one to come out. Luckily, it was totally worth the wait. I loved the previous two books in this series and I love that the series isn’t linear. Bitterblue takes place a little while after Graceling ends and many, many years after Fire. Bitterblue is the daughter of King Leck, who is now deceased, which means that Bitterblue is now Queen of Monsea. The kingdom is still reeling from the brutality inflicted upon them by Leck and Bitterblue is determined to make things right. She realizes rather quickly that she’s never going to get the full story from her advisers, so she borrows her servant’s clothing and slips out into the city at night to learn more about it and the people who live there. What she discovers will only serve to make her job all the more difficult as she realizes that 35 years of brutality are not easily undone, no matter how earnest the monarch.
This series as a whole is fantastic, filled with amazing female protagonists, sophisticated social commentary and lyrical writing. Both Katsa and Fire make appearances in Bitterblue, tying the three novels together. Each novel is easily strong enough to stand on its own, though there is some distinct pleasure in revisiting favorite characters which makes the whole body of work that much better. As a whole, the series focuses on varying aspects of power. Graceling deals with physical power; Fire with psychological and emotional power; Bitterblue with political power. Taken together they give the reader a great deal to think about, no matter what their age. Bitterblue served as a satisfying conclusion to a genuinely rich trilogy.

23. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, read by Andrea, on 05/22/2012

Andi is at her breaking point. From having to deal with her parents to coping with the death of her younger brother, she is ready to give in to the sadness and anger she feels. Her pain is lessened with anti-depressants that tend to bring her life out of focus. Her grades drop as a result of the medication’s side effects and her father, concerned she won’t get into a good college, makes her come with him on his business trip to Paris in an attempt to get Andi back on the right track.

Alexandrine, a girl of the French Revolution, is torn between saving herself and saving a little boy she has grown to love as a younger brother. She too is ready to give in to the anger and fear threatening to suffocate her.

Over two centuries separate the two girls, but Andi finds an old diary of Alexandrine’s hidden in a guitar case and eventually discovers they have more in common than she thought possible. Finding solace in her words, Andi forges a connection with Alex through her diary entries, and begins to find that Alex’s life in the past can help Andi decode her own complicated life in the 21st century.

Although the beginning of this book was fairly slow to get to the point and very depressing, I grew to like Andi and Alex. I enjoyed how similar the two main characters were and how parallel their situations seemed. The story within a story writing style kept me interested in both main character’s situtations. However, the references to the French Revolution and music history were a little stuffy to me. That much detailed background (especially the names of revolutionaries and royalty) was irrelevant to the story. By the end of the book, I felt it was a good storyline. It just needed to be a little less of an historical account so it could focus more on the characters of the book.

22. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Graphic Novel, Tracy

Calamity Jack by Shannon and Dean Hale & Illustrated by Nathan Hale, read by Tracy, on 05/22/2012

Just like the title “Jack likes to think of himself as a criminal mastermind…with an unfortunate amount of bad luck”. He gets himself in lots of trouble trying to help others also. When his mother is about to lose her bakery he tries to steal the money and gets caught. Then he buys some magic beans and or course a beanstalk grows uprooting all the buildings. All through the book fairy tale characters appear. The bad guy is Blunderboar who has a Jabberwocky named Mr. Jabbers. Blunderboar also has Ant People who attack with lots of pow’s and tchunk’s. This graphic novel is part fairy tale and super hero. I was reading so fast I forgot to appreciate the artistry of the illustrator. Very colorful and funny.

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

Creatures of the Kingdom by James A. Michener, read by Janet, on 05/21/2012

     Using excerpts from Michener’s books, he writes segments about the animals that were included in the larger stories.  This is a wonderful history of the changes of the Earth through the centuries – the development of land and water features and the beginnings of the animal kingdom – from small to huge, back to medium size, and the coming of man.  Description of each section is so full of information that the reader feels like he/she is actually there, watching the events happening and understanding the feelings of the animals.  One adventure follows two men and a hyena as they explore Africa as friends.  Others told about the lives of a mastodon, an ancesstral bison, a crab, a dinosaur, a salmon, armadillos, the comparison of two hunting dogs – a labrador and a chesapeake – by their competing owners, and several other animals.  All had names and personalities.  I learned so very much about these animals as their stories were told. The last story is told by the author as he visits an old friend who was trying to protect his bird feeder from an invading squirrel, but unwilling to endanger the pest. The squirrel was in no danger.

 

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

The Fault in our Stars by John Green, read by Nikki, on 05/20/2012

Hazel Grace has stage 4 thyroid cancer (diagnosed at age 13), she also has lung tumors and her lungs continue to fill with water basically drowning her. Her mother insists that Hazel joins a support group to deal with the fact that she’s dying. Hazel reluctantly joins just to please her mother and then meets a boy named Augustus Waters. Augustus has osteosarcoma and has had to have part of his right leg amputated. Hazel and Augustus begin a friendship which later progresses into a relationship. They both pursue an author that wrote a book about a teenager who had cancer and died called An Imperial Affliction. Thanks to Augustus they are able to travel to Amsterdam to visit with the author. What happens there you’ll have to read to find out yourself…

This book was pretty amazing! Once I finished the book I had to force myself not to read it again…that’s how good I think it is. I don’t think I have laughed out loud this much reading a book and then cried just as much at the same time. I almost wish everybody I knew would read this book also so that we could constantly talk about it with eachother. This book will stick with me forever. The characters are the kind you won’t forget.

 

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

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway, read by Tracy, on 05/20/2012

“at some time between 1945 and 1980, Joe’s grandfather and grandmother built a bee-machine which is either a rocket ship, a mobile sculpture or a brain-melting lie detector”. Unfortunately Joe made the mistake of activating the device setting lose thousands of mechanical bees. Joe Spork, the main character, repairs antique clocks so when the device was brought to him he had no idea it was so powerful. He does have a lot of friends who help him, most were friends of his gangster father “Tommy Gun” Spork. This book has a lot of Charles Dickenish characters with names like Mr. Titwhistle, Mr. Cummerbund and Billy Friend. It has an evil mass murder The Opium Khan. There are several female geniuses, one is a scientist who builds robots and  another an undercover secret agent.  This book goes back and forth in time a lot and I had a hard time putting it down.

The memoir of a young British girl as she enters the world of work as a kitchen maid and works her way up to a cook serving in a variety of homes in England. Each house and the family “upstairs” is each different and unique. Kindness and generosity depending much more upon the individuals than on their economic means. An interesting look back at the day to day life of a household servant in very class conscious England.

17. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Partials (Partials #1) by Dan Wells , read by Angie, on 05/15/2012

Humanity has been devastated by a war with the Partials (synthetic beings created by man to fight another war who rebelled against their creators). There are less than 50,000 humans left all huddled together on Long Island trying to survive. But humanity is not surviving; they can’t have children. During the war a virus called RM was released that killed 99% of the population and is still killing the babies born today. The survivors are immune but their children are not. In order to combat this disease the government has enacted the Hope Act which decrease all women age 18 and older must give birth as often as possible. It doesn’t matter the babies still die. The harsh dictates of the government have given rise to a rebel regime called the Voice and a civil war is imminent. No one has seen the Partials in 11 years since the end of the war.

Kira Walker is a 16-year old maternity medic. She is tired of watching baby after baby die. She wants to study the RM virus and find a cure. What she discovers is that researchers have studied every possible cure and there is no hope. Everyone is infected. Her idea is to capture a Partial and find a cure through their immunity. The government denies her request but that doesn’t stop her. What she finds will change everything; how she views herself, her world, her government, the Partials.

I have to admit that I had a hard time getting into this book. It starts out pretty slow and the action doesn’t really ramp up until the second half of the book. Once it gets going though it is pretty good. I like the implications of who is responsible for the war and RM and the downfall of humanity. Are humans culpable in their own demise? Where the Partials victims just trying to get a better life when they rebelled? I also really enjoyed the the look at what the human government has become. It is basically a totalitarian regime taking away peoples rights, for the good of the people and the state of course, but isn’t that how all these types of governments start. They send people to work camps, they search people’s homes, people disappear, they force women to get pregnant. I thought the society was fascinating and wish it had been explored a little bit more.

I guess that is my biggest complaint. There was a lot of time spent on the science of RM, which was interesting but not that interesting, but some of the world building/society stuff of the humans and partials was just barely touched on. Even some of the characters could have been more developed. Xochi for instance…why did she hate her mother so much, why did she want to rebel, what were her motivations? Then you have the Partial society which I am sure Wells is saving for book 2, but that was fascinating but just barely mentioned. I did enjoy the fact that this book, unlike other dystopians did not dwell on romantic interests even though they are present, and that the lead Kira was not a weak character. She knew what she wanted and went after it no matter what. She was determined, intelligent, strong and heroic. I liked her as a character. I am interested in this world but I am not sure I will read more about it. We will just have to see.

17. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction

Bridge of Dreams (Ephemera #3) by Anne Bishop, read by Angie, on 05/12/2012

Bridge of Dreams picks up after the events of Belladonna. Lee is trying to deal with the fact that Belladonna has come back but is not the same person she once was. She is now split into her dark and light side (Glorianna and Belladonna). He finds that he resents Michael and doesn’t quite resonate with Belladonna anymore. Then he is attacked and forced to flee from her landscapes. He ends up in Vision, a place far from any where he has ever known. He is under the control of the wizards who torture and blind him and eventually take him to an asylum where he comes under the care of Danyal. The wizards don’t know it but this is his salvation for Danyal is a Shaman, a Voice of the World. Lee also meets Sholeh Zeela a Zhahar, a Tryad, a woman who is three aspects in one person each with their own body (but in the same body too; it is kind of confusing). Under their care Lee starts to heal and they realize that Vision is under the influence of the wizards. They must find a way to stop them from turning Vision into a dark place, to save the light and to save Sholeh Zeela a Zhahar’s homeland of Tryadia as well.

I was extremely glad to find out that there was another book in the Ephemera series. I love Anne Bishop’s books; her world building is top notch. She creates such unique worlds that are rich and lush and full of surprises. Lee has always been a character that has been in the background of her other books so it was interesting to bring him to the front. He is a strong man and a powerful one in this world who learns that he has more power than he thought. I think I liked the introduction of the new characters of Danyal and Sholeh Zeela a Zhahar the most though. Danyal because he was a new kind of Guide and landscaper who was coming into his power. Sholeh Zeela a Zhahar was just fascinating. Trying to figure out how the whole three people sharing a body but having their own bodies worked was really complex and hurt my head sometimes but I loved it.

If I have to nitpick this book I will say that I think the ending was a bit rushed. We don’t know what really happens to anyone. What is going to happen to the Tryads? How are Lee and Sholeh Zeela a Zhahar going to have a relationship? (that is the one I really want to know!) Will Lee ever be a true bridge again? I wish we would have had a few more chapters to learn about these people, but I am hoping that Bishop is now focusing on this world and more books are forthcoming. So maybe my questions will be answered.

17. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Science Fiction, Tracy

Fated by Benedict Jacka, read by Tracy, on 05/16/2012

At the British Museum in London there is a statue that holds a secret. Mortals don’t know anything about it but Alex Verus isn’t a mortal. He is a mage; a diviner. Alex does have the key to the statue and several dark mage’s want it. He has the power to see some of the future and has a magic cloak that makes him invisible. Alex’s friends Luna and Starbreeze have powers also. But the bad guys take control and Alex has to figure out what his future will be.