17. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction

Earthling! by Mark Fearing, Tim Rummel , 248 pages, read by Angie, on 07/14/2012

So Bud misses the bus to school, but a bus just happens to come and he jumps on hit. Unfortunately, the bus takes him to a school in OUTER SPACE! At this school Earthlings are hated and feared so Bud pretends to be a Tenarian. His new school is just like any other: there are bullies and outcasts and Bud has to learn to fit in. Soon he and his new friends are trying to figure out a way to get him back to Earth.

This was a fun outer space romp. I loved the illustrations and the story. Great aliens that reminded me a bit of the variety of aliens from Star Wars. This was a fun story that I think middle schoolers are going to really enjoy.

17. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags: ,

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, 316 pages, read by Tammy, on 07/14/2012

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

He inherited this job from his father as well as Dad’s deadly athame, after his father was killed by a ghost. Cas and his mom and their spirit-sniffing cat travel the country following local legends and destroying the murderous dead. Cas doesn’t have time to worry about what he’ll do next year when he graduates from high school or to make friends. He just wants to learn more, grow stronger and avenge his father.

Following a local legend of a ghost called Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects things to go as usual: track, hunt and kill the ghost. What he finds instead is a spirit of a girl trapeed in a curse and rage. A powerful ghost like nothing he’s ever faced, Anna has killed every person who has dared step into her Victorian home.

Cas follows some local teens to Anna’s house and is tricked into confronting her before he is ready. Yet she doesn’t kill him. Why? She did kill one of the other teens and now Cas has to race against time to figure out where Anna’s power comes from, why she didn’t kill him, how to save his new friends from Anna and why he has this overwhelming since of doom.

17. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Breathing Room by Marsha Hayles, 256 pages, read by Angie, on 07/14/2012

Evvy has tuberculosis and is sent to the Loon Lake Sanatorium to recover. She is put into a room with other girls her age: Dena, Bethany, Pearl and Sarah. Together they struggle with their disease and the ever present fear that death is just around the corner.

All I have to say about this book is Wow! I loved it. It was such a powerful look and how these girls struggled every day with the certainty that death could take them. There was death around them always. And the author was not afraid to be truthful and let death enter the story. This is not a happily-ever-after kind of book. People die from tuberculosis especially in the 1940s. It was a deadly disease with some awful treatments that didn’t always work. I think this book was pretty truthful in its look at sanatorium life. I especially appreciated the authors note at the end explaining more about the disease and its treatment. The entire time I was reading this book I kept thinking that I needed to learn more about TB and how it was treated. Fascinating, well-written book.

17. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction · Tags:

Bliss (The Bliss Bakery #1) by Kathryn Littlewood, 374 pages, read by Angie, on 07/13/2012

The Bliss Family Bakery offers wonderful baked treats with a bit of magic. Mr. and Mrs. Bliss are called away to help fight a mysterious flu in a neighboring town and they leave the Bliss children in charge of the bakery. Thyme, Rosemary, Sage and Parsley (Leigh) have varying reactions to being left alone with the bakery to run, but you know that disaster is going to loom. They have one rule…no magic. And of course that just makes the magic that much more tempting. Then comes a mysteries Aunt Lily into the picture to seduce them all and tempt them with more magic. What follows is magical mayhem.

This was a fun, magical story. The Bliss kids all have their own unique personalities that shine throughout the book; although Rose is really our heroine. She is the one that struggles with Lily’s seduction, but is very tempted by the magic. I thought the magical mayhem was really fun and a bit crazy. That backwards spell was pretty unusual. However, Lily always seem to play a little one-dimensional to me. Even when she was being nice you always knew she had other motives. The ending wasn’t really a surprise after all the set up of Lily being the villain. I think book two should be pretty interesting after the end of this one. Definitely a fun series to watch.

13. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Thriller/Suspense, Tracy

Running Blind by Lee Child, 486 pages, read by Tracy, on 07/13/2012

I’ve read a lot of mysteries.and there are a lot of ways of killing people.  This book has the strangest one yet. Jack Reacher is a loner who likes to fix problems on his own. When he helps a restaurant owner, who is threatened for protection money, he is profiled by the FBI as a serial killer who kills ex military women. He eventually is ruled out but they ask him to help with the cases. Four women die until he does figure it out. As usual the ending of these books is very intense. Can’t wait to read the next one.

13. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction, Teen Books, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

Cinder by Marissa Meyer, 387 pages, read by Andrea, on 07/13/2012

This book was Disney’s Cinderella and Anastasia combined with a futuristic twist. Cinder, a cyborg (part human, part robot), has been an outcast ever since she can remember. Her stepmother considers her to be a filthy burden. Living in a futuristic Beijing she spends her days a lowly, second class citizen working at her mechanic booth in the city market as payment to her stepmother for living in her home. She has no one who cares about her aside from another robot and one of her stepsisters who treats her as a true friend. Ironically, her status says nothing of her talent as a mechanic for she is considered to be the best in New Beijing’s Eastern Commonwealth. This talent leads her to Kai, the heir to the emperor’s throne, who needs mechanical advice and ultimately leads her to understand who she really is. I thought this book was a fun twist on the two Disney fairy tales with a tougher main woman. Looking forward to Book #2.

11. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tammy

The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe's Very First Case by Alexander McCall-Smith, 73 pages, read by Tammy, on 07/08/2012

Precious has her first case while in grade school and first thinks that being a detective might be a good job for her and how being a detective looking for the truth and not jumping to conclusions could help people.

11. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Tammy

Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown, 65 pages, read by Tammy, on 07/07/2012

Meet Stanley Lambchop. He’s an ordinary boy, four feet tall, about a foot wide and oh yeah only half an inch thick. Stanley has fun with being flat at first. He can slide under doors and go through the mail to visit friends in California, but he soon learns it’s not easy being different.

The library PR staff was inspired by Flat Stanley to get Flat Dewey’s that our patrons could check out. Our mascot is Dewey the library dog and now besides his personal appearances we have a four foot tall flat Dewey on the main floor of the library and 3 smaller flat Dewey’s that patrons can check out and take with them on adventures or just every day errands. Check out his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dewey-the-Library-Dog/184327928341390.

11. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags:

The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks, 362 pages, read by Tammy, on 07/10/2012

Think being a vampire would be cool? You’d be all powerful and beautiful? Not so, learns our teen narrator, Nina who was changed or “infected” as her support group calls it, at the age of 15, fifty-one years ago. She hasn’t changed much. Unfortunately, she wasn’t one of the popular glamorous girls to start with and her support group friends help her satisfy her bodies need for blood by growing their own furry food supply. But since it’s not human blood they are all physically weak. Nina attends the same support group meeting each week and is soooo bored until one of them is murdered and the others must try to solve the crime and prevent anyone else in the group being detected.

11. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Contemporary Fiction, Romance

The Innocents by Francesca Segal, 288 pages, read by Andrea, on 07/11/2012

A witty, intelligent story of love, The Innocents is all about accepting what you cannot change and embracing what you already have. Adam Newman has dated Rachel Gilbert since they were both sixteen. Now 28 years old, Adam is beginning to wonder if Rachel’s steady, constant personality is really what he wants. After thirteen years of dating, the picture perfect Jewish wedding is being planned but Adam is unsure it is what he wants. Ellie, Rachel’s eccentric and beautiful younger cousin has just returned from New York to stay in London. The black sheep of the family, her life has had its ups and downs. Staying with Ziva, Rachel and Ellie’s grandmother, Adam begins to have feelings for Ellie. He has total stability among the Gilberts, a strong, traditional Jewish family, but he has total freedom and unpredictable excitement with Ellie. Although this was Francesca Segal’s first book, it seemed so complex in thought. Each plot was intertwined into yet another plot and I felt she made it easy to fall in love with all of the characters. I felt this book was not only about Adam growing up and understanding himself as a man and husband. It was also about the value of family and how much each of us is willing to do to protect those within our own circle.

11. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull, 351 pages, read by Angie, on 07/11/2012

On one hand I really didn’t like this book. The characters were horrible children and really unlikeable. On the other hand I kind of wanted to find out how everything was going to turn out so I just kept reading the book.

Kendra and Seth get dropped off at their grandparents for a couple of weeks while their parents go on a cruise. Grandpa isn’t really thrilled to have them visit, but he doesn’t really tell them why. Just tells them that they have to stay in the house and the yard; they can’t go in the woods or the barn. Of course, Seth being the inquisitive kid he is doesn’t listen and soon ventures out into the woods to discover all sorts of things. Turns out that Grandpa is the caretaker for Fablehaven, a safe haven/refuge for all kinds of magical creatures. The children are finally let in on the secret, but of course Grandpa still doesn’t explain everything to them. He only tells them that the woods are dangerous and they shouldn’t enter them. Then on the most dangerous night of all Seth disobeys and bad things happen.

Basically this book is about a kid who doesn’t listen and who always does what he is told not to do and who never gets in trouble for it. Seth is not likeable; there are no consequences for his actions and he doesn’t seem to learn any lessons from his errors. Kendra seems like a nonentity for most of the book. She basically does nothing until the last 50 pages. Grandpa could be more open and really explain the rules and the reasons behind them, but he doesn’t and he doesn’t really punish the kids when they break the rules. I am not sure what the point of this book is. It is entertaining in parts, but the lack of really good characters makes it a hard sell. I know it is a popular series but I will not be reading any more of it.

11. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri, 224 pages, read by Angie, on 07/09/2012

Cole has pushed his mom to her limits so she decides to take him to his father in Philadelphia. A father who he has never met. When she drops him off she accidentally runs into a horse that is running wild in the streets and Cole’s father has to put the horse down. Cole learns that the horse is part of the neighborhood stables that Cole’s father takes care of. Stables that the city wants to shut down. At first Cole is resistant to his father and the horses, but he forms a bond with a horse called Boo and learns to appreciate the stables as much as his father. Then when the city comes Cole, his father, and the entire neighborhood must fight to keep the stables and a beneficial part of their neighborhood alive.

Who knew there were horses in the ghetto? But there are and this story is based on true events. Neri read and article in Life magazine about the ghetto cowboys of Philadelphia and Brooklyn and how those cowboys help keep their neighborhoods productive and alive. I really enjoyed the urban setting of this story and how it showed a different side of the ghetto. These people care about their neighborhood and their neighbors. They are trying to make a difference and to keep their neighborhood safe. The characters all seem real and they all had their own unique voices. My one complaint would be the language of the book. I know that it is probably how the people in those neighborhoods would speak but it sometimes made it a little difficult to read even if it made it more authentic. Minor quibble though. Overall I thought this was a great story on a subject I knew nothing about.

09. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: History, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , ,

Jefferson Bible: by edited by Thomas Jefferson with essays by Harry R. Rubenstein, Barbara Clark-Smith & Janice Stagnitto Ellis., 123 pages, read by Tammy, on 07/06/2012

Thomas Jefferson created his own telling of the life of Jesus by literally cutting out verses from the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and pasting them together in his own book. He kept only the words of Jesus which Jefferson felt “There will be remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.”

To preserve the original text photocopies have been made of the original and then printed. You can still see the marks of the pieces of text he cut and pasted together. Jefferson used a variety of texts to create his placing the mostly English texts right next to some taken from French, Greek, and Latin versions of the Bible.

I read the history of this work but did not do a side-by-side comparison of the 47 pages of scripture to see what Jefferson decided to leave out of each section of Jesus’ life as related in the Gospels.

09. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Tammy · Tags: , ,

A Good American by Alex George, 387 pages, read by Tammy, on 07/08/2012

Growing up in a small Missouri town with a family history of German immigrants coming to Missouri (my great-great grandparents)I was surprised at how well the author captured life in a small German-heritage town, since he is an immigrant to the US as well – from England. But we all search for what it means to call a place home and to find a place we fit in… in our communities and in our own families.

You follow a young couple in 1904 who flee her disapproving family to America. They plan to settle in New York but end up taking a boat to New Orleans… not realizing how different that could be and end up taking a journey up the Missouri River and finally settle in the fictional small town of Beatrice, Missouri, a town with many other German immigrants.

The story is narrated by the couples’ grandson, James who discovers at the end that he doesn’t really know his own story and his own family at all. You follow the family through prohibition, WWII when Frederick joins up because he wants most of all to be a “Good American”, the Kennedy assassination and beyond. Throughout the story, music plays an important role in how the family members relate to the community and to each other. Each member of the family has to find their place in this new country, in their town and in their family and what it means to be a “Good American.” If you’ve ever felt like an outsider in your own hometown, your school or even your own family you will relate to these characters search for a place to call home.

08. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction

Seeing Cinderella by Jenny Lundquist, 240 pages, read by Angie, on 07/07/2012

Callie is starting 7th grade at a new school. She is ready for a new start. But she finds out she has to get glasses. As if her red frizzy hair and freckles aren’t enough, now she has to wear big dorky glasses! But these aren’t just any glasses; when she puts them on she sees bubbles over people’s heads that show their thoughts. Her glasses let her read people’s minds! Suddenly she knows what her best friend, her crush, her mom and everyone else thinks. But knowing what others think isn’t always a good thing. Callie must learn to navigate junior high and everything that goes along with it and figure out how to deal with the power of the glasses.

Oh 7th grade, what a terrible time for girls. Your body is changing, your emotions are changing, your friends are changing, suddenly boys become important…Callie does a great job of embodying all I remember about being in 7th grade. Of course, I didn’t have magic glasses to tell me what everyone was thinking. Callie has to deal with her best friend who is suddenly not such a good friend afterall. She starts hanging out with new people and taking advantage of Callie. She has to deal with her parents splitting up and her dad not being around. And she has to deal with her new friend Ana who is definitely hiding something from her.

I really enjoyed Callie’s journey in this book. She starts out as a very self-conscious loner who is afraid of making friends and talking to new people and ends up more self-assured and confident in who she is. She also learns that you can’t always trust your first impressions of people and your true friends are those that act like friends and don’t take advantage of you. And she learns that everyone has secrets and no one says exactly what they are thinking. The magic glasses helped her realize all of this but in the end she realized she didn’t need the glasses anymore. She had grown enough to live without them. Callie is a very special character and one that was a joy to read about. I highly recommend this book.

08. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton by Elizabeth Speller, 407 pages, read by Tracy, on 07/08/2012

This is the second book involving Lawrence Bartram a veteran of the Great War in England. Several characters are in this story that were in The Return of Captain John Emmett. This story is about the Easton family and their estate. It’s a very sad story with part of the mystery revolving around the disappearance of young Kitty Easton. No one knows if she died or was kidnapped. Also when the family starts restoring the chapel they find a body hidden below. Is she part of the mystery or another puzzle. Very well written but a bit depressing at times.

07. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Paranormal · Tags:

The Wish Stealers by Tracy Trivas, 281 pages, read by Angie, on 07/06/2012

Griffin is given a box of old pennies by a strange woman. The pennies turn out to be wish pennies that were stolen long ago and because Griffin has them she is a Wish Stealer just like the woman who gave them to her. Wish Stealers take the wishes of others and make bad wishes on others. Griffin must learn how to control her power of bad wishing, find a way to return the stolen wishes all while trying to survive middle school.

This was an enchanting story. I like the idea of stolen wishes and the fact that Griffin has to return them to their original wisher or to someone who wishes the same thing. Griffin acts like a real girl; she struggles with doing the right thing. When confronted with mean girl Samantha she she makes a bad wish, which she regrets when she sees it come true. After that she has to curb her urge to wish bad things on people and try to become the bigger person. I also really enjoyed Griffin’s relationship with her mom and Grandma. These were both great relationships and showed strong women role models for Griffin and the readers. In the end, Griffin learns about doing good, helping others, and becoming a better person.

07. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin, 160 pages, read by Angie, on 07/06/2012

Sasha Zaichik dreams of being a Young Pioneer. He is devote to Stalin and the Communist Party. He practices to be a Young Pioneer and writes letters to Stalin. But the day before he is to join his father is arrested, turned in by a neighbor who wants their larger room. At school Sasha acts like nothing has changed but then he accidentally breaks the nose off a stature of Stalin. Will he be sent to prison with his father? What is he going to do?

This was an engrossing read. I read it pretty much in one sitting. Sasha is a wonderful protaganist with a powerful voice. He truly believes in the Communist Party and is completely under its power. He wants to be part of Stalin’s machine. But when things start to fall apart he starts to question things. Why was his father arrested? Why hasn’t Stalin realized his mistake and let him go? He has never had any reason to question his faith before and now he is alone and questioning. This book is a powerful look at just how deep Stalin’s power went and how pervasive it was. Neighbors turned on each other, teachers asked students to turn on each other, even young children were arrested. I think the book is even more powerful because the author lived in Russia after Stalin’s reign. He knows what he is describing and he described it very well.

07. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

The Servant's Tale by Margaret Frazer, 234 pages, read by Tracy, on 07/07/2012

It was Christmastide in 1434 and the sister’s routine at St. Frideswide is disrupted when a group of players brings in a wounded man found under a cart in a ditch. The man’s wife, Meg, is a servant at the church so Sister Frevisse takes charge. In those day groups of players travel around and perform but have a reputation of not being trusted. Frevisse is sympathetic towards the group when they are accused of another death, Meg’s son Sym. While waiting for the crowner to arrive Frevisse plays detective. I enjoyed this book and will continue to read the rest of the series.

06. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, NonFiction · Tags: ,

American Grown by Michelle Obama, 272 pages, read by Brian, on 07/05/2012

Michelle Obama has written a gardening book that details her adventures in gardening at the White House.  Obama, not only talks about her garden but gardens from the past at the White House.  She also shows us other gardens grown in unusual places to help inspire all of us would be gardeners.  There are designs in the book to show where to plant and how to create a compost.  Anyone who loves gardening will enjoy this book.