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

Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James, 532 pages, read by Angie, on 06/10/2012

Fifty Shades Darker picks up right after Fifty Shades of Grey. Ana and Christian have broken up but find they can’t live without each other so they give it another try. But they both have to change in order to make their relationship work. Christian has to give up certain parts of his life and realize that Ana will never be submissive. Ana has to learn to embrace her sexuality and realize she likes certain parts of Christian’s lifestyle.

I had the same issues with this book that I had with the first installment. Writing could have been better, characters are still unlikable and the sex is pretty vanilla. It seems like there is a lot of back and forth between Christian and Ana: I love you, you are too messed up, I can’t live without you, I can’t stand you, You should leave, I will never leave. It does get a bit repetitive, but again the story kind of sucks you in despite all the flaws. You want to see where these two are headed and if they can make it work.

Even as compelling as the book is…it is like watching a car accident…you just can’t look away…it is not a good book. I will probably never recommend these books to anyone and I can’t imagine why people want to read them so desperately.

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

Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James , 579 pages, read by Angie, on 06/10/2012

Fifty Shades Freed is a good ending to this really bad trilogy. Ana and Christian are finally married and starting their life together. But they still have a lot of the same issues to work out. In this book Ana’s old boss Jack has a vendetta against the family and starts coming after Christian and the Greys. Because of course a romance novel has to have an element of psycho danger in it to be complete. Why not!?!?

I have to say that I read these books all together and that is probably how they should go. They are one long story broken into three parts. I wish the story was better written; it really could have used a lot of work. And for a series that is supposed to explore BDSM it holds back a lot. I have read other books that are a lot more explicit and/or adventurous sexually than this series (Laurell Hamilton has orgies and weird crazy sex in her books for instance). I understand where the nervousness about these books comes from…there is a lot of sex in them, but I don’t really think there is anything that shocking or perverse. I think there are a lot of books out there that push the limits much further than this series does. I think because these are advertised as BDSM books there is a lot more hoopla surrounding them then they really deserve. For me they were a “meh” story with horrible characters. I probably would never have picked them up without all the hype.

11. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Human.4 by Mike A. Lancaster, 240 pages, read by Angie, on 06/09/2012

Kyle and three others agree to be hypnotized in their village talent show what happens next changes everything. While they are in their altered state everyone else is getting an upgrade. They quickly realize they are not like the rest of the world any more. And the rest of the world definitely doesn’t like them.

This was a fascinating sci-fi edge of your seat kind of book. It is very reminiscent of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The book is told through a series of tapes Kyle has made recounting the experience. And the tapes are filled with little asides from the people listening to them analyzing references made by Kyle to a world that no longer exists. Kyle’s narrative is quite good and gripping and entertaining. This is a very fast read. The asides/analysis I was a little meh on. Some of them were really interesting and I could see how people in the future would look back and wonder about parts of our culture, but others just seemed silly and really broke up Kyle’s narrative. I get why they are in there; it is a good example of historians not really having any idea what they are talking about when they theorize about the past, but I am not sure they were always necessary. Other than my little quibble about the asides, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to sci-fi fans.

09. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Thriller/Suspense, Tracy

Tripwire by Lee Child, 559 pages, read by Tracy, on 06/08/2012

There are two tough guys in this book. One bad and one good. Jack Reacher, the good one, is pretty tough and he is usually up for the challenge. To understand  the bad guy, Hook Hobie, Jack has to go back through military paperwork to the war in Viet Nam. His parents were told he was MIA but they think the government is hiding something. Jack uses his contacts from his career as an MP to help find out if Hook is alive and why he won’t contact his parents. He also is reunited with Jodie the daughter of his CO who recently passed away. He inherits his house and has to decide if he wants to give up his nomadic lifestyle. I made sure I had enough time to read the ending in one sitting since it was action packed.

08. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet · Tags:

As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me by Josef M. Bauer, 275 pages, read by Janet, on 06/08/2012

This is a marvelous true story of a man who was a German soldier captured by the Soviets during World War II and forced to work in a Siberian lead mine.  Conditions there were horrible and he decided he must escape to survive.  No one wanted to face the 8000-mile journey through trackless wilderness with him, but two people gave him things of great importance – a compass and a map.  With the help of a doctor (who also wished to escape but knew he was physically unable to make it), he was able to get out of the prison hospital and start his flight to freedom.  It took him three years of mostly walking, over mountains and across deserts, being always aware of the danger of recapture, humger (he had to learn to steal any kind of food), and the bone-freezing cold.  For awhile he had the companionship of a Russian dog, but most of his trip was alone.  His steady strength of character is amazing!

08. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Teen Books

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch, 278 pages, read by Angie, on 06/07/2012

The world as we know it has collapsed through war and disease. It is in this post-apoclyptic world that we meet Stephen. He is a scavenger with his father traveling the paths of the old world looking for things to trade and sell. Then his father has an accident and Stephen meets some new people; people who don’t live on the open road but have created a new town and are trying to rebuild their old lives.

Post-apocalyptic teen fiction is everywhere and there aren’t a lot of original stories left to tell. This one is definitely not an original; there isn’t anything really ground-breaking about this tale, but there also isn’t anything wrong with it. Stephen is an interesting character who wants to find a place to belong; he is struggling with who he is now that his grandfather is dead and his father is injured. He has to stand on his own for the first time. The rest of the characters aren’t quite as interesting. They all seem to be your typical archetypes for the post-apocalyptic world: evil slavers, people just trying to get by, family that wants to rule what little is left of their domain. Of course there is conflict, but it all gets resolved rather easily.

This book could actually be recommended for younger audiences (tweens) or your more innocent teens. It is a very clean read. There is only a bit of very clean kissing, no swearing that I can remember and even the violence is very non-violent. I would almost classify this as a gentle post-apocalyptic read. All the conflict is resolved at the end and everyone has their happily ever after.

07. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror

Black Dawn by Rachel Caine, 367 pages, read by Brian, on 06/07/2012

Rachel Caine’s, Black Dawn, is twelfth book in the Morganville Vampire series and unlike some series with many books to it’s name, Morganville keeps getting better. In the last installment of the series, Last Breath, both the humans and vampires are being threatened by a new enemy, the Draug.  The draug are the one thing vampires scurry away from as they drain the life out of their victims.  Black Dawn is the continuation of the fight to save Morganville.  The vampires can not defeat the draug and must rely on the human citizens to save them.  Of course, there are the constant struggles between humans vs vampires, vampires vs vampires and humans vs humans.  If you haven’t tried this series, I would recommend it.

06. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Tracy

In My Life by Debbie Geller, 174 pages, read by Tracy, on 06/06/2012

I grew up during Beatlemania. The Beatles are amazingly talented musicians and song writers. But I didn’t realize how much Brian Epstein contributed to their success. He grew up in Liverpool in a family that owned a furniture store. He didn’t want to be a part of it but when they opened a record store he quickly took to it and made it a success. The customers came to his store to listen mostly to the latest songs of the 60’s. When he went to the Cavern, a popular club in Liverpool, and saw The Beatles perform he knew that he wanted to be their manager. They agreed and the rest is history. Everyone loved Brian but he had a lot of emotional ups and downs. Being homosexual in England at the time was illegal and he also took advantage of the easy access to drugs. Despite all his problems he developed a new way of managing musicians that changed their appearance, attitude and took care of the details that touring required. His life came to a sad end too early.  This book is made up of commentary by people who knew Brian and lived through his life. After his death The Beatles refused to have any other manager because Brian was just too good.

05. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Short Stories

Zombies Vs. Unicorns by Justine Larbalestier, Holly Black, 415 pages, read by Angie, on 06/03/2012

It is an age old question.

Zombies or Unicorns?

Are you on team Zombie or team Unicorn?

I assumed going into this collection I would definitely fall into the team Zombie category. I love zombie stories and movies and unicorns have always just seemed to girlie to me. And I have to admit that I am still on team Zombie, but the unicorns might have turned my head just a little bit.

This is a pretty solid collection of stories from some of the best teen authors of today. I love the back and forth banter of our team captains before each story. Yes, it could seem annoying to some but I thought it brought a lightness and a sense of fun and illustrated the challenge of the book. Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black were clearly having fun with this book and we should too.

As for the stories…some were better than others. Some were great short stories, some were not that great and a few I wish were the start of an actual book. So bring on the zombie apocalypse or the invasion of the unicorns. I am ready!

05. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance

Saving Grace by Julie Garwood, 407 pages, read by Angie, on 05/30/2012

Johanna was married to an abusive husband but now that he is dead King John wants to marry her off to one of his favorite Barons. Her brother helps to marry her to Highland Lord Gabriel McBain. He is as different from her husband as can be. They don’t start off well. She seems timid and cowardly and he just wants her to “rest”. But eventually she stands up for herself and takes charge and wins the hearts of her people and Gabriel.

This is a fun historical romance set in the 1200s. I like the time period since it is different from your regular historical settings. Johanna and Gabriel are your typical romance characters. He is big and gruff but softens when he realizes he loves her. She starts of quiet and shy but becomes strong and independent because she is secure in her love for him. Of course there are hurdles that they must overcome but that is the fun of one of these books. This is an enjoyable escape.

05. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance

Come the Spring by Julie Garwood, 384 pages, read by Angie, on 05/29/2012

Come the Spring is the final book about the Clayborne family. Finally, we get to find out what happens to Cole and we meet Daniel Ryan, the US Marshall who stole from Mama Rose. In this book Cole finds himself appointed US Marshall by Ryan and on the trail of a group of blood-thirsty bank robbers. They have three potential witnesses to the latest bank robbery and they have to figure out which of the women is their actual witness. Along the way there is murder, intrigue and of course romance.

Come the Spring is a nice historical romance and a good wrap-up to this series. The mystery and intrigue of the bank robbers works pretty well in the story. I have to say that I had a little difficulty with the romances. With the multiple romantic plots going on it was sometimes difficult to keep the women straight. The three females in the book really didn’t seem all that different personality wise. For that matter, Cole and Ryan were awfully similar as well but I never got them confused. I think the mystery saved this book because the romances definitely brought it down a little bit. But there was a good ending, justice was served and everyone lived happily ever after.

05. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, NonFiction

Thank You Notes by Jimmy Fallon, 176 pages, read by Brian, on 06/04/2012

Jimmy Fallon, the host of television show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, has written a book, Thank You Notes.  Fallon is not one of my favorite comedians but with the lack of funny books, I gave him a shot.  The book is a bunch of thank you cards written to different people or things to express his true feelings.  Some of the notes are sarcastic while others…ok, they are all sarcastic but some are wittier then others.  If you want a quick read that will bring a smile to your lips and maybe a ha or two then check out Thank You Notes.

04. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Horror, Science Fiction

Alien vs Predator: Three World War by Randy Stradley, 144 pages, read by Brian, on 06/02/2012

The graphic novel, Aliens vs Predator: Three World War, combines three of the deadliest creatures alive: Man, Predator & Aliens fighting for survival. Using Aliens like hunting dogs  a Predator clan  wants to wipe out another Predator clan and anything else in their way.  Man, by the way of a woman who use to fight with one of the Predator clans must unite together to destroy Predator/Alien clan or perish.  This graphic novel is colorful and full of action.  Anyone is a fan of either the Predator or Aliens will enjoy this piece of work.


04. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Informational Book, NonFiction

Element Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells by Judika Illes, 1108 pages, read by Brian, on 06/01/2012

I’m very proud of myself, I read a book that contained five thousand spells.  Yes, it is a reference book but an important book if you are interested in the magical arts.  The books give you all the spells and rituals.  There is a formulary index, botanical classifications to help avoid any confusion.  There is a warning saying this book is an overview and doesn’t mean someone should actually perform some of these spells.  The really interesting part is how the spells come from different traditions, places and eras. Finally, each section the history and use of certain items, such as, candles.

04. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Mystery, Tracy

Cooking the Books by Kerry Greenwood, 266 pages, read by Tracy, on 06/04/2012

Corinna Chapman bakes the best bread in Melbourne. When she takes a holiday one of her friends, who is a caterer, blackmails her into helping with a soap opera job. This is a mystery with several story lines but food is the main character. Corinna’s boyfriend Daniel is a PI and they collaborate on cases and other things. The film studio has a saboteur who uses food to make the star of the show miserable. Who is the guilty person, why are they doing it and what is that secret ingredient in the Thousand Island Dressing. If you aren’t hungry before reading this book you will be at the end.