17. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Tracy

The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri, 224 pages, read by Tracy, on 06/17/2012

This is the first in the Inspector Montalbano mysteries. A local big-shot is found dead of natural causes in his car in a compromising position. The car is in an area of the town Vigata where prostitutes and drug dealers are the norm. The Inspector is good at his job and solves this murder, but with all the political corruption and Mafia problems he is told to quickly close the case. There is a lot of evidence that leads to a possible suspect but could it be a set up. This book was translated from Italian to English but there is a handy section of notes in the back explaining some of the expressions used. It was a fast read and I will probably read more since the Inspector is a likeable character. Definitely an adult book.

17. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Tracy

A Matter of Magic by Patricia E. Wrede, 448 pages, read by Tracy, on 06/16/2012

When you are a girl living in the streets of Victorian London it’s better to dress and act like a boy. Kim, the main character, got away with it for years before a Wizard discovered her secret. When she was paid to search Mairelon the Magicians wagon she is caught and discovers that he isn’t what he appears to be either. He offers her a chance to learn about magic and she helps him with her skills she learned living in the streets. This is a double book. The first introduces Kim and Mairelon and the second continues with her apprenticeship. When Mairelon takes her in and makes her his ward she isn’t sure she fits in with London’s society crowd.

15. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: How To's, Tracy

Mr. Food's Meals in Minutes by Art Ginsburg, 165 pages, read by Tracy, on 06/15/2012

If you hate to cook, like me, this cookbook is for you. Most of the recipes use ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. Just a few fresh ingredients make a quick trip to the store which is another job I hate. Art’s instructions are easy to follow and he even gives tips on each page to make the recipe even more convenient. I tried the stove top meatloaf and it took 30 minutes and he recommended using instant mashed potatoes. What’s hard about that. My next recipe will be carrot cake cookies. Everything goes in one bowl, bake and your done. There is a section for Dinner for Two. There are no recipes with more than eight ingredients. Spend less time cooking and have more time to do fun things like eating.

14. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King, 336 pages, read by Leslie, on 03/08/2012

Please Ignore Vera DietzVera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

 

I read this book on a recommendation, it probably would not have caught my eye, otherwise.  I enjoyed this story very much.  What do you do when a friend turns on you, how do you feel when they die and you know the truth of what happened, how do you cope with life after that?  Vera manages to come to grips with what’s happened but it nearly undoes her in the process.  A good book to recommend for teens who have issues dealing with the death of a friend.

14. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Paranormal

Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs, 300 pages, read by Leslie, on 03/05/2012

Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson, #4)By day, Mercy is a car mechanic in the sprawling Tri-Cities of Eastern Washington. By night, she explores her preternatural side. As a shapeshifter with some unique talents, Mercy has often found herself having to maintain a tenuous harmony between the human and the not so human. This time she may get more than she bargained for.

 

Once again, Mercy finds herself drawn into issues she would rather avoid.  This time, it’s the vampires of the community.  This character seems to have had a fairly quiet past, staying out of the preternatural spotlight, the last of her kind but as she slowly collects friends, she feels more and more responsible for helping them.  Another page-turner to find out what happens to Mercy and those she cares for.  A world to lose yourself in, to be sure.

14. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Paranormal

Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs, 287 pages, read by Leslie, on 03/01/2012

Iron Kissed (Mercedes Thompson, #3)I could smell her fear, and it satisfied something deep inside me that had been writhing under her cool, superior gaze. I curled my upper lip so she could get a good look at my sharp teeth. I might only weigh thirty or so pounds in my coyote shape, but I was a predator…

 

In the third book of the Mercy Thompson series, Mercy is drawn again into a situation not of her making.  She feels compelled to help her former boss clear his name, even though he has forbidden her to do so.  She also has to make a choice between a love from her past and the man she keeps turning to now.  Another good book, easy to get lost in it and a fast read.  You want her to stand on her own but keep rooting for the friends who help her out, wanting to know what happens to them all in the end.

14. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, 472 pages, read by Leslie, on 02/25/2012

Revolution

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession.

 

When Andi can no longer seem to handle the death of her brother and is on the verge of being expelled from school, her father takes her to Paris with him.  While there, she is drawn into the past through the diary of a girl from the past. I love the way the author intertwined the lives of the 2 girls and how the parallels of the pain in their lives makes Alexandrine so real to Andi, it makes you wonder if she isn’t really going back in time!  This is another example of how I love to see an author take an idea and put such a twist on it that you have to keep reading to see how all the threads are drawn together.  A great teen read for any fan of historical fiction.

14. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Paranormal, Teen Books

Rot & Ruin (Benny Imura #1) by Jonathan Maberry, 458 pages, read by Leslie, on 02/20/2012

Rot & Ruin (Benny Imura, #1)

In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half.

 

This is the first zombie book I have gotten myself to read, mainly because it was a Gateway nominee this year.  Zombies have not held the same interest for me that vampires and other denizens of the paranormal world have held, but I enjoyed it greatly.  It had all the basic zombie lore, they don’t run, they’re attracted by noise, no glittery skin to make them stand out but the author did throw in some new tricks.  There was a bit of romance to it, death, of course, and learning new ways to avoid zombies, should they ever really exist.

14. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Paranormal

Lenobia's Vow by P.C. Cast, 160 pages, read by Leslie, on 02/11/2012

Lenobia's Vow (House of Night Novellas, #2)

The second in the enthralling new mini-series of novellas from the #1 bestselling authors of the House of Night, Lenobia’s Vow tells the gripping story behind the House of Night’s enigmatic riding instructor – and one of Zoey’s closest allies against evil.

 

Lenobia’s Vow is the second companion book to her House of Night series and tells the story of Lenobia, the horse instructor for her House of Night.  This tells the story of how she came to be Marked, finds her purpose and the love of her life.  This ties in nicely with the first novella, especially since the 2 characters are tied together in the House of Night books.  I always find it interesting how authors can take their characters and not just make them live in one story but give them more depth by creating a past history for them.  A very quick read indeed, it made me wish for a longer story.

 

 

14. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Paranormal

Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs, 292 pages, read by Leslie, on 02/06/2012

Blood Bound (Mercedes Thompson, #2)

Under the rule of science, there are no witch burnings allowed, no water trials or public lynchings. In return, the average law-abiding, solid citizen has little to worry about from the things that go bump in the night. Sometimes I wish I was an average citizen…

This is the second of the Mercedes Thompson series by Briggs.  I guess if you have supernatural powers, you wish that you were normal like most people and can just ignore the things that go bump in the night, but they seem to come in handy when you really need them.  No matter how hard she tries, Mercedes keeps finding herself drawn into problems from the supernatural community.  In a great review, I could say that the characters are believable, the plot superb, but I am not a great reviewer.  I just know what I like in a book.  This is another great read for those who love the paranormal.  Patricia Briggs has created a world where we can lose ourselves in it and wonder what would it really be like.

14. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Teen Books

Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers, 549 pages, read by Angie, on 06/14/2012

Ismae has been marked by Death since before she was born. She is sold by her father then abused and abandoned by her husband. She is taken to the Convent of St. Mortain to train with the nuns there. Her training consists of poisons and ways to kill a man. Her first assignments put her in conflict with Gavriel Duval and she is soon sent to court with him to pose as his “cousin” (read mistress). The court of Brittany is full of intrigue and danger. The Duchess Anne is besieged on all fronts. France doesn’t want her crowned and is trying to control who she marries, she has been betrothed to just about every possible ally and her friends and allies are dwindling as her enemies get closer. Ismae and Duval must work together to help Anne and keep their country independent.

This book was recommended to me and I was intrigued…assassin nuns, 15th century Brittany, death gods…sounded awesome. And for the most part it was. I really enjoyed reading the story of Ismae, Duval and Anne. They are wonderful characters from a time and place in history that I really didn’t know much if anything about. I love the thought of these nuns worshiping the old god of death, Mortain, and training to do his bidding, which basically means killing people. I wish there was more in the book about the training. Basically Ismae’s time at the convent is skipped over and that is a shame. I think her training in all the assassin arts would have been fascinating.

But really this book is less about the assassin nuns and more about the court intrigue and that is where the plot really takes off. Once Ismae and Duval get to court and become embroiled in the politics of Anne’s betrothal and crowning things start to pick up. You never really know who is on whose side. There are so many things going on and so many people trying to get their way (just like I imagine court life would be). Unfortunately, even though a lot happens in this book, one of my critiques of the book would be that we are told about the action instead of shown it. Since this is my first LaFevers book I don’t know if she always does this or if this book is not her norm. But I could have used a few more actual action scenes instead of just being told about them. And the language used in the book is a little repetitive. However, the book sucked me in and I loved it. I love the characters of Ismae and Duval, especially Ismae. I loved watching her growth through the book as she started to question her teachings at the convent and really came to know her god and find her place in the world. It was a treat to read and I can’t wait to read the next book in this fascinating series.

14. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Paranormal

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs, 288 pages, read by Leslie, on 02/01/2012

Moon Called (Mercedes Thompson, #1)

Mercy Thompson’s life is not exactly normal. Her next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she’s fixing a VW bus for a vampire. But then, Mercy Thompson is not exactly normal herself–she’s a shape-shifter.

 

Moving from teen paranormal to adult paranormal books with this one.  If you enjoy paranormal stories, Patricia Briggs has created a great, easy-read, with this series.  I enjoy comparing different authors’ approaches to the explanations concerning the known vs. unknown worlds when they come together. This is the first book in this series and Ms. Briggs has gotten me hooked on it.

 

14. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Paranormal

Dragon's Oath by P.C. Cast, 145 pages, read by Leslie, on 01/28/2012

Dragon's Oath (House of Night Novellas, #1)

The first in an enthralling new mini-series of novellas from the #1 bestselling authors of the House of Night,Dragon’s Oath tells the story behind the House of Night’s formidable fencing instructor – the love that will transform him, and the promise that will haunt him.

 

I’ve enjoyed all the House of Night books by Ms. Cast and this is a great companion book to that series.  It gives the reader a history of the characters and why they are who they are.  A very quick read, it gives a the reader a little more of that world of hers.

14. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie, Paranormal

Shadow Heir by Richelle Mead, 400 pages, read by Leslie, on 01/27/2012

Shadow Heir (Dark Swan, #4)

Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham strives to keep the mortal realm safe from trespassing entities.

This is the final book in the Dark Swan series by Richelle Mead.  By the time I was finished, I thought she had tied up all the threads in her series very nicely.  There were a few twists I had not seen coming.  Mead writes as though her characters could really exist and it makes you wonder, as do lots of great fantasy writers.  Other than the fact that the world of Faerie is not real, her characters behave in very natural ways to the obstacles in front of them. I would suggest this series to anyone wanting a great fantasy read.

14. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Leslie

Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LeFleur, 272 pages, read by Leslie, on 01/18/2012

Love, Aubrey

“I had everything I needed to run a household: a house, food, and a new family. From now on it would just be me and Sammy–the two of us, and no one else.”

This book was on the MASL Mark Twain Readers Award list for 2011-2012 and well placed.  This would be a great book to recommend to children who have had the loss of a parent.  Aubrey thinks she has no one who can understand or help her and this book shows how the mind of a child tries to cope with it. Very realistic story and very moving.  I recommend this for readers of all ages.

14. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie

Explosive 18 by Janet Evanovich, 305 pages, read by Leslie, on 01/15/2012

Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum, #18)

Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum’s life is set to blow sky high when international murder hits dangerously close to home, in this dynamite novel by Janet Evanovich.

 

I just love the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich, I laugh through practically the whole book, no matter which one I read.  I thought this book was much better than the previous one, although it did pick up on a sort of cliff hanger note.  Although I can’t imagine any of these things (except maybe cars occasionally blowing up) happening to anyone on a regular basis in that line of work.  I have to say she really isn’t a good bounty hunter, but her luck, which is usually unlucky, seems to come together for her with help from her friends.  A great fun-to-read, no brain needed book.

13. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Shaky Kane's Monster Truck by Shaky Kane, 50 pages, read by Brian, on 06/13/2012

Tag line for Shaky Kane’s Monster Truck is “Get your motor rolling and head out along comic book Route 666!”. This Graphic Novel is like a mini movie of a monster truck going through a short history of pop culture.  When I say mini movie, it’s more like a horrific acid trip through pop culture, which in itself, entertaining.  Only fifty pages the trip is short and makes you want more…except for the clown.

12. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Mystery, Teen Books, Thriller/Suspense

Heist Socity by Ally Carter, 287 pages, read by Courtney, on 06/11/2012

Oh, what fun! Katarina has just gotten out of the family business and conned her way into an exclusive boarding school. She’s done with the whole crime scene. Until her father is framed for the theft of 5 rare and extremely expensive paintings from a bad guy, Arturo Taccone, who is “a whole different kind of bad”. The bad guy wants them back and is giving Kat’s family two weeks to hand them over. Problem is, Kat’s father didn’t steal the paintings; he was too busy stealing a statuette in Paris at the time. Kat now has to find a way to get the paintings back to Taccone before the deadline or her father’s life (and her own) may be on the line. It’s a good thing Kat has friends; talented, sneaky, first-class spy-type friends. She’s going to need them.
In the tradition of Kiki Strike and Ally Carter’s other series, the girl spy/thief motif is a heck of a lot of fun. I’ve never read the Gallagher Girls series, so I can’t comment on how this compares, but I do know that I will probably go out and read the rest of Carter’s books now, or, at least whenever I’m looking for something fun and refreshing to read. Just smart kids doing things the rest of us would only dream of. Witty and fast-paced, it’s no wonder this made the list of Truman Award Nominees. One of my favorites from the short-list this year.

11. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Historical Fiction, Tracy

The Truth of All Things by Kieran Shields, 401 pages, read by Tracy, on 06/11/2012

This book was a little disappointing. I had a hard time following the story line. It’s set in Portland Maine in 1892 and the main characters are Deputy Marshall Archie Lean, Helen Prescott a historian and Percival Grey a criminalist. Grey is part Indian and I think the author was trying to give him a Sherlock Holmes type personality. The story involves the murder of a prostitute by “sticking”, a method of killing a witch with a pitchfork. Archie Lean is under pressure by the mayor to solve the crime with little publicity. A lot of research is involved in finding the Black Book which may prevent more killings. This book , for me, could’ve been shorter and less complicated but others might disagree. If you’re into the Salem witch trials and the history of Portland Maine you might enjoy it.

11. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Romance

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, 514 pages, read by Angie, on 06/09/2012

So I finally caved and read the book everyone seems to be talking about. As I started it I have to say I was not impressed. The writing was average, the characters were unlikable and I wasn’t really into the storyline. After I finished it I liked it a bit more but the writing is still average and the characters are still unlikable. But the story does kind of suck you in; I immediately read the rest of the trilogy. Basically this is just one big book broken up into three. And it is kind of a compelling romance, but it could have been better written. These are supposed to be American characters but they used a lot of language that sounded British (EL James is British). So she definitely needs to work on her language skills. And the characters even at the end of book 3 still are not that likable…they are just too messed up to be really enjoyed.

Ana is a young college student who meets Christian, a very wealthy business man. They have an instant connects but he has different tastes (and she is a virgin). He is into the whole dominant/submissive roles and likes a little pain with his pleasure. She really wants to play but doesn’t want a lot of pain. There are a lot of back and forths in this relationship. Are they going to get together? Can she be submissive? Will it work? Is he just too messed up for her? Can he give her more like she wants?

The first book deals with Ana and Christian starting their relationship and ends abruptly with them breaking up. In between there is a lot of sex. I would say that about a third of this book is sex. And for a book that is supposed to be all about BDSM there is a lot of “vanilla” sex. I was expecting to be really educated and have to admit to being just a bit disappointed. Sure there are bondage scenes but not a lot of truly kinky stuff happens in these books. I was frankly expecting more.
UPDATED REVIEW:
So I have been thinking more about these books and I just had to rereview them. I found out that they are based on Twilight fan fiction and thinking of them in that light totally makes sense. These characters are very much in the Bella/Edward line. They are desperate for each other but horrible for each other. They have terrible, needy personalities so in that way they are perfect for each other. This book is so unrealistic that it is unbelievable. I have read science fiction/fantasy that I find more believable. I can’t believe that anyone would really act like these characters or put up with the crap that goes on in these books. I also can’t believe how popular this series is. Seriously! They are bad and not worth the money.