14. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Cowgirls Don't Cry by Lorelei James, 304 pages, read by Nikki, on 05/08/2012

Ok! Hold on to your boots here while I explain this wild dramatic story! Jessie McKay married Luke McKay, a cowboy that works on his large family ranch. Jessie’s husband Luke was anything but faithful during their marriage. Luke died in a car accident and 2 years later Luke’s younger brother Brandt approaches Jessie asking for help in raising his young son he fathered while he was married to her. The mother of the young boy has to serve time in jail for 2 DUI’s. Jessie agrees on a few conditions…one being that Brandt sleeps with her and only her during the duration they watch her dead husbands illegitimate son.

This was my first ever romance book and boy was it all I expected and more!! Typically romance books don’t interest me one bit, but this one actually had a really good story line that I liked, plus a few love scenes that were shocking but oh so enjoyable at the same time! This book was actually the 10th in the Rough Rider series. I did not read the other books in the series, but was able to follow along with all the characters without having to read the whole series.

14. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Fiction

A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron, 320 pages, read by Andrea, on 05/19/2012

I read this book in one day, it was that good in my opinion. It kept me wondering where the dog in this book would reincarnate to next. It was interestingly written in that the book was narrated by the dog, but to keep things interesting, human conversation and situations were added even though the dog didn’t quite understand exactly what was going on. The dog has an unabashed way of looking at life. Its undying love for pleasing its owners throughout the book is touching. I don’t really care for sappy books, but was pleasantly surprised when I found myself getting drawn into this one.

This book could actually be looked upon as a good life lesson for humans. Like the dog, everyone lives their days often wondering what his or her purpose is in life and why he or she is actually on this earth. Although our situations are much more complex than the dog’s, it also often wondered what role it played in its masters’ lives and why it kept being reincarnated. It was interesting how the dog’s story flowed and eventually came full circle. I laughed out loud in many parts and felt myself tearing up a mere paragraph later. Full of ups and downs and ups again, dog lovers would love this book. I’m not really a huge fan of dogs, but it actually made me look at them in a different light.

14. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal, Teen Books, Thriller/Suspense

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, 352 pages, read by Andrea, on 05/11/2012

Creepy photos, strange deserted island with a creepy haunted looking house, weird children with possible magical powers. Although I knew I could be creeped out from reading this book, I couldn’t help myself. From the strange vintage photos to the storyline, this book was interesting from beginning to end. It reminded me of Alice in Wonderland in a way. Jacob’s experiences and adventures had that same surrealist quality that Alice had. What interested me the most was the story behind the haunting vintage photos found throughout the book. The author actually found the photos and wrote the story to “fit” the photographs he found. He wanted photos that stirred various emotions from the reader, so he and a group of friends scoured anything from flea markets to estate sales looking for the oddest and creepiest photos to help him write his story.

Full of suspense, I couldn’t seem to put this book down. With a little bit of romance and a whole lot of strangeness, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was made into a Tim Burton movie.  Readers who like Alice in Wonderland adventure and Tim Burton quirkiness would love this book.

12. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Horror, Teen Books

Morning Glories by Nick Spencer, 352 pages, read by Courtney, on 05/11/2012

6 kids have been selected to become students at the prestigious Morning Glory Prep School. It’s a boarding school that claims to prepare its students for a “better future”, but one of the students notices that something is awry almost immediately when she realizes that not only do all 6 of the newcomers have the same birthday, they also cannot reach their parents or anyone from home. These kids have no idea why they’ve been selected, other than for their sheer over-achievement and no idea what the school is trying to accomplish. What they do figure out, quite quickly, I might add, is that the school has a deeply sinister side with motivations yet to be seen. As the arc progresses, we find out more about each student and their troubled pasts.
I’m still not sure how everything fits together yet, but this is a pretty exciting beginning to a story that will undoubtedly have much more to offer

12. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Dystopia, Fiction, Teen Books

Thumped by Megan McCafferty, 304 pages, read by Courtney, on 05/09/2012

Thumped picks up about 8 and 1/2 months after Bumped, which naturally means that some babies are on the way and quite soon. Harmony is back in Goodside with her husband, Ram. Melody is by now one of the most famous young women in the world. The press is positively rabid for any details about either twin. They’re scheduled to deliver twins on the same day and in a world where babies are some of the most expensive commodities, it’s no surprise that Melody and Harmony are the focus of nation-wide attention. Unfortunately for the girls, this fame does not come without its difficulties, especially since there are certain secrets that could take the girls from famous to infamous in a split second.
Now that the world-building from Bumped is out of the way, McCafferty is free to dig deep into the implications of such a world. It remains a humorous indictment of fame, pervasive media, advertising and gender politics. It’s as clever as the first book, only with more growth from the characters. The ending may be a bit too tidy, but fans of the first book will ultimately be satisfied by the conclusion of this quirky story.

12. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Mystery, Tracy

Aunt Dimity & the Family Tree by Nancy Atherton, 229 pages, read by Tracy, on 05/12/2012

Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity mysteries just keeps getting better. Based in the little village of Finch in England the local people are just what you would expect in a cozy mystery. Not much gets by them. Lori Shepard inherited Aunt Dimity’s cottage and lives there with her husband and twin boys. Whenever something mysterious happens Lori converses with Aunt Dimity in a blue journal because she is a ghost. In this episode Lori’s wealthy father in law buys a country estate that needs fixing up. He is a widow so the local women are anxious to help out in any way. He hires a young married couple to do housekeeping and grounds work but they seem too good to be true. It’s a fun read but if you are interested in the series I suggest reading Aunt Dimity’s Death first.

11. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Memoirs, Tracy

I'm With Fatty by Edward Ugel, 244 pages, read by Tracy, on 05/11/2012

When Edward Ugel’s wife plays a recording of his nightly snoring he decides to go to a doctor. He realizes what he’s known all along that he is overweight and has sleep apnea. This book is about his decision to lose 50 pounds in a year. Edward has a happy family, a nice house and a sense of humor.  But his food addiction is ruining his health. Finally after going through denial he hires a personal trainer, a nutritionist and goes for a cleansing and a colonic irrigation. Things go pretty good for a while until his wife and kids go on a trip and leave him alone.  He can’t control himself and has a food bender. It’s an honest and amusing journey which eventually leads to a Weight Watchers meeting where he feels like he’s suppose to be there.

11. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Thriller/Suspense, Tracy

Cold Vengeance by Preston & Child, 356 pages, read by Tracy, on 05/11/2012

Cold Vengeance is the continuing story of Special Agent Pendergast’s search for his wife Helen’s killers. In an interesting twist he discovers that she isn’t dead. A few new characters are brought in and the story begins in Scotland where Pendergast and his brother in law Judson are hunting in the moors. But it turns out they are hunting each other. Lots of action and secrets revealed. Can’t wait for the next episode.

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

Belladonna (Ephemera #2) by Anne Bishop, 448 pages, read by Angie, on 05/10/2012

This book is all about discovering your strengths and who you are and who you are meant to be. Belladonna has always known she is the only one who can take on the Eater of the World. She is the only Guide of the Heart and Landscaper with the power and the connection to Ephemera to take It out of the world and stop it from destroying the Light. She thought when the Eater destroyed the Landscapers school (in book 1–Sebastian) that she was the only Landscaper left holding Ephemera together, but what she discovers in this book is that there are others in distant parts of the land. Others who do not know who they are or what their true power is. They have been holding their parts of the world together without training and knowledge. She meets two of these in Caitlin and Michael. She must help train and guide them as they help hold the Ephemera against The Eater of the World. Along the way she discovers that Michael is her dream lover, the man she has always wanted, the other half of her heart, and he shows her the knowledge of just how to destroy the Eater. But that knowledge may also destroy her.

How I love Anne Bishop’s books. She weaves this world and these characters together and makes them into such a rich story. I love the uniqueness of this world. Belladonna is a wonderful, strong, beautiful woman who knows what has to be done, is scared yes, but does it for the good of the world. I love that she has a great support system and family because this book is about family and being accepted for who you are and loved for who you are in your heart. That love and acceptance will ultimately save you and the world. I can’t wait to read the next book!

10. May 2012 · 1 comment · Categories: NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , ,

Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean, 324 pages, read by Tammy, on 05/05/2012

Susan Orlean follows Rin Tin Tin’s journey from orphaned puppy to movie star and international icon and follows the lives of his ardent fans that kept the lineage alive and documented but shows the appeal of the character across generations of fans and puppies. So much so that some say Rin Tin Tin has never died because there is always a Rin Tin Tin or Rinny.

The story begins on a battlefield in France during World War I, when a young American soldier, Lee Duncan, discovered a newborn German shepherd in the ruins of a bombed-out dog kennel. Duncan brought Rinty home to California, where the dog’s athleticism and acting ability drew the attention of Warner Bros. Over the next ten years, Rinty starred in twenty-three blockbuster silent films that saved the studio from bankruptcy and made him the most famous dog in the world. At the height of his popularity, Rin Tin Tin was Hollywood’s number one box office star. During the decades that followed, Rinty and his descendants rose and fell with the times, making a tumultuous journey from silent films to talkies, from black-and-white to color, from radio programs to one of the most popular television shows of the baby boom era, The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin. The canine hero’s legacy was cemented by Duncan and a small group of others—including Bert Leonard, the producer of the TV series, and Daphne Hereford, the owner of the current Rin Tin Tin—who have dedicated their lives to making sure the dog’s legend will never die. A heartfelt story.

10. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Romance, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

Cleaning Nabokov's House by Leslie Daniels, 322 pages, read by Andrea, on 05/09/2012

Barb is a divorcee who has lost everything. She has no money, and the car she drives needs more oil than a Mac truck. To make matters worse, her children have been taken away from her. Her controlling ex-husband (or experson according to Barb) has taken what she wants most, continuing to lord over her even after their disastrous marriage. A series of strange events leads Barb to make more money than she would have thought possible. She moves into a house once lived in by Vladimir Nabokov and finds what she believes to be a lost manuscript of his. A very odd entrepreneurial opportunity presents itself, giving her the strength and, oddly enough, the resources, to fight back for what she wants instead of always listening to what everyone else thinks she needs.

This book was rather odd. I didn’t love it, but the messages within the book were good. What was interesting for me was it was written in the voice of Barb. It is almost like the ramblings that go on inside your own head, so although she did come off as sounding a little crazy, it wasn’t too strange, as everyone has those crazy inner thoughts. It presents Barb as a 40 year old mother who is trying desperately to fit into a community that sees her experson as a god. She is just a woman who wants her children back, and is willing to try anything to make that happen. I liked the parallelism between Barb and how the book was written. In the beginning of the book, the writing seems very unorganized, as is her life. As the story progresses, Barb begins to understand herself and what she wants in her life. The book becomes more structured and clear, which to me was an interesting way to write a book.

08. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Mystery, Tracy · Tags:

The Dog Who Knew Too Much by Spencer Quinn, 308 pages, read by Tracy, on 05/08/2012

Bernie Little and Chet are partners in the Little Detective Agency. Chet being a dog handles the biting and smelling part. Chet is  the narrator of this story although like most dogs he does get distracted with squirrels and food smells quite a bit. But Chet and Bernie are a team. In this fourth book in the series they get involved in a missing child case which leads to money laundering and murder. One thing I learned from this book is that if you are a private detective you might want to get a remote starter for your car just in case. I especially like these books because Chet looks just like my dog Rugby.

08. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Teen Books, Thriller/Suspense · Tags:

Girl, Stolen by April Henry, 213 pages, read by Courtney, on 05/06/2012

When Griffin stole the Escalade from the mall parking lot, the last thing he expected to find was a blind teenaged girl lying down in the backseat. The girl, Cheyenne, was equally surprised to be accidentally kidnapped while waiting for her stepmother to return with medicine for the pneumonia that had Cheyenne huddled under blankets in the back seat in the first place. Griffin decides to take her and the car back to his father’s property and then figure out what to do. He knows Cheyenne can’t identify him if she can’t see him, but also knows that she’ll call the police as soon as he lets her out. Shortly after settling Cheyenne into the remote house, a news report airs describing Cheyenne and mentioning her full name. As it turns out, her father is an extremely wealthy CEO, which gives our greedy antagonists a few ideas as to how to handle this unexpected turn of events.
This book reminds me a lot of the Hepburn movie, “Wait Until Dark”, though Cheyenne does not have the advantage of being in a familiar environment. She does however, use every bit of information at her disposal to keep herself as safe as possible under the circumstances. Her kidnapper Griffin, a teen himself, slowly becomes more likeable and less threatening as he begins to sympathize with Cheyenne’s plight as the consequence of his poorly conceived actions. The real villains here Griffin’s dad and his associates who represent some of the worst aspects of humanity.

This title is on the 2012-2013 Truman Reader’s Award Nominee List and is the May 2012 Novel Ideas selection.

08. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books

Crank by Ellen Hopkins, 537 pages, read by Courtney, on 05/05/2012

I can’t believe I didn’t review this the first time I read it. But then, it was at least 5 years ago and I can’t remember if I was writing reviews by then or not. It doesn’t matter though, I’d probably want to rewrite it anyway.
So, this is my second time reading Ellen Hopkins’ debut, Crank. I’m pleased to say that it holds up to repeated readings. It’s the story of Kristina, a relatively normal, well-adjusted high school student. During the summer, she decides to go visit her estranged father. She quickly discovers why her mother divorced him. Her father is something of a deadbeat. He works for under-the-table pay at the local bowling alley, lives in a seedy apartment and has a penchant for illegal substances. During this trip, she also meets a boy. He’s not her type (she keeps telling herself), and yet she finds herself completely drawn to him and him to her. In spite of his girlfriend. Kristina lets another part of herself take over; the part she calls Bree. Bree is everything Kristina is not. It is Bree and not Kristina that takes the first dance with the Monster, aka meth. Over the course of time, Bree takes over Kristina’s formerly perfect life. Mind you, Kristina does not suffer from multiple personalities; she has merely created an alternate persona. Bree loves meth and will do anything to get it. Which naturally leads to all kinds of serious problems.
The descent into drug addiction portrayed here is a bit like a car crash. It’s profoundly disturbing and yet impossible to look away. Hopkin’s poetry adds to the surreal nature of Kristina’s downward spiral. There are no easy answers here either. Why is Kristina predisposed to let Bree take over? Why does her family stay in denial for so long? What will Kristina do after the book ends (a question answered in the sequel, Glass)? It’s difficult to make a character who so readily makes bad decisions a character that the average reader can relate to, but Hopkins pulls it off. This book is far and above the average “problem” novel.

07. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Melody, Teen Books

The Centaur's Daughter by Ellen Abbott, 320 pages, read by Melody, on 05/03/2012

Sequel to Watersmeet. Abisina has found her father and a new home where all people and creatures are welcome but in the battle with the evil White Worm, her father has died.  Can Abisina be the leader her new people need and can she form alliances between Watersmeet and the humans when she cannot forgive them?  Not quite as engaging as the first book in the series but a worthwhile read. 

07. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffennegger, 546 pages, read by Janet, on 05/07/2012

What an unusual but attention-keeping story!  Henry is a time-traveler who vanishes from one moment in time to appear in another – earlier or later in his life, then returns (naked).  He may be gone moments, days, or years at a time.  He meets his wife, Clare, when she is 6, in a meadow near her house.  Through the years he visits her often and teaches her many things about life, nature, music, art – all things she remembers throughout her life.  He sometimes leads a rough and hectic life away from her, but always loves and protects her.  They marry when she is 22 and she knows that he will always return from his travels no matter how long he is gone.  Her age progresses naturally, but his changes in his travels and sometimes he meets himself in another age.  Most of the time he is a librarian – could this happen to us?

07. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Melody, Teen Books

Watersmeet by Ellen Abbott, 341 pages, read by Melody, on 05/01/2012

I really enjoyed this book.  Absina is an outcast in a hostile society.  Saved from being put outside her villages walls as an infant to die only by her mother’s standing as the healer, she has lived a life of abuse and degradation.  Her mother loves and shields her the best she can but when a charismatic leader comes and call for the death of all outcasts, she escapes to find her father.  Great storytelling with very real characters and nuanced worldbuilding.  

07. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Melody, Memoirs, NonFiction

Fifty Acres and a Poodle by Jeanne Marie Laskas, 272 pages, read by Melody, on 05/02/2012

A delightful book about an avowed city girl with closet dreams of owning a farm.  When the farm of her dreams comes up for sale, complete with an Amish barn and beautiful vistas, she and her boyfriend buy it and trade a life of walking down the street for a paper and a bagel for bulldozing multiflora roses and pond mucking.  Wonderful memoir about how when your dreams come true, then the real work begins. Thanks Tammy for the recommendation. 

07. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Melody, NonFiction, Science

Carnivores of the World by Luke Hunter, 240 pages, read by Melody, on 05/06/2012

Beautiful illustrations in a catalog of the the world’s carnivores.  Each entry has information on habitat, feeding ecology, social behavior, demographics, mortality, and status and treats.  Very informative and user-friendly.  And beautiful illustrations, can’t sell the illustrations enough.

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

Sebastian (Ephemera #1) by Anne Bishop, 436 pages, read by Angie, on 05/06/2012

Ephemera is a shattered world of broken landscapes connected by bridges. A war long ago with the Eater of the World shattered the world. Now Landscapers and Bridges hold the world together. To get from one landscape to another you have to find a bridge and sometimes you are unable to cross if your heart does not resonate with that landscape for Ephemera is a living world and can be shaped by heart’s desire.

Belladonna is the most powerful Landscaper; she can do things no other landscaper can do and for that she is shunned and declare rogue. Sebastian is an incubus who lives in the Den of Iniquity, a landscape created by Belladonna specifically so he could have a home. It is a nighttime playground for those looking for a good time (think a little naughtier Vegas). As an incubus Sebastian trolls dreams and one night he hears someone asking for help for a place to be safe and he tells her to come to him. Soon Lynnea finds her way into the Den. She doesn’t fit in but there is something about her that Sebastian can’t resist. And in the Den Lynnea finds her strength and her heart; she becomes who she is meant and she finds love with Sebastian.

But all is not well in Ephemera. The Eater of the World has escaped is prison. He kills all the Landscapers and Bridges except Belladonna. She alone must hold onto the world and try to stop It from spreading darkness throughout the land. Unfortunately, the Wizards in Wizard City don’t want to believe the Eater is free and blame Belladonna for all the troubles. They try to use Sebastian to capture Belladonna.

I really enjoy Anne Bishop books and this one does not disappoint. Ephemera is an intriguing land with all its broken landscapes that resonate with different people. I like the idea that you have to find a place that fits you and that other places might reject you because of what is in your heart. It is a wonderful concept. The characters fit the landscape as well. Sebastian with is dark incubus powers but his desire for a home and love. Lynnea the little mouse who becomes the tigress when she finds her home. Belladonna so strong, trying to balance the fate of the world. Lee the bridge that hold them all together. Koltak, the wizard, ashamed to have fathered an incubus son (Sebastian) but so blinded by ambition that he doesn’t see the darkness around him. I loved it all. Wonderful series!