06. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Literary Fiction, Tracy, Travel

Miles To Go by Richard Paul Evans, 317 pages, read by Tracy, on 07/05/2012

This second book in The Walk series wasn’t as good as the first. The first part of the book the main character Alan is in Spokane Washington staying with a friend after he had an accident on his journey to Key West Florida. It’s winter time so traveling by foot would be a problem. During his recovery he meets more people and his father visits. When he does start again he makes it to South Dakota. I realize these books are meant to be inspirational but I really like the way the author describes his travels and he also gives us some history of the towns he travels through. I don’t know when the next book will be published but I probably will read it.

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

Dragon's Oath by P. C. Cast, 145 pages, read by Tammy, on 07/03/2012

A novella from The House of Night series. It tells the story of how Dragon, swordmaster and teacher met his beloved while in school at the St. Louis House of Night in the late 1800s. Can’t say much more I’d give away too much of the story.

03. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Graphic Book, Memoirs, NonFiction

Smile by Raina Telgemeier, 224 pages, read by Angie, on 07/03/2012

Smile is the true story of Raina Telgemeier’s journey through orthodontia. It was not a pleasant or a short journey. It began with an overbite and a fall resulting in the loss of her two front teeth. The journey consisted of false teeth, braces, surgeries, headgear, and four years worth of visits to various dental professionals…all during junior and high school. Poor Raina! Throughout it all Raina is also dealing with boys, pimples, friends, mean girls, and all the other trials and tribulations of high school. She comes through it stronger and happier, but it is not an easy journey.

As someone who has had braces and retainers (thankfully not four years worth) I completely sympathized with Raina. They are an invented torture to make our teeth look perfect. They work but are definitely not pleasant. I winced with her when her braces were being tightened and when all she could eat was mashed potatoes. I think Raina definitely remembers this time of her life perfectly and she really captured it on the pages of Smile. The story and illustrations embody the torture of braces and the agony of middle and high school. I would recommend this to just about anyone.

03. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship by Russell Freedman, 128 pages, read by Angie, on 07/02/2012

Russell Freedman really knows how to write nonfiction for kids and he does the story of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass justice in this book. This book takes the story of their lives and shows how they intertwined to lead to a friendship. They only physically met three times, but they ended up having a lot in common. This book shows the common threads of their lives and the differences. It shows that they were not always on the same path to equality and in fact Douglass frequently criticized the pace Lincoln set in regards to the rights and freedoms of Blacks. But they had a lot in common even down to the book that changed the way they looked at things, The Columbian Orator. If I have one quibble with this book, I wish it would have spent more time with Douglass. At times it seemed more like a biography of Lincoln than a shared story of the two men. But it is an excellent glimpse into a turbulent time and the lives of two great men.

03. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet · Tags:

Charles Kuralt's American Moments by Charles Kuralt, 255 pages, read by Janet, on 06/30/2012

We have all enjoyed hearing Charles Kuralt take us on a journey around the country, meeting the American people.  This book visits many people and places briefly around this country and lets us see a bit of its backbone from past history to the present. These are very short glimpses (ninely-second-long broadcasts) of America.  Among the people presented were a Vernonter splitting his winter wood, a Tennessee cotton-candy maker, a cable-car driver in San Francisco, a totem pole carver in Alaska, a mailman on the Magnolia River in Alabama, the caretaker of Grant’s Tomb in New York, a whirligig maker in Maine, a basket weaver in South Carolina, and a lady who repairs treadle sewing machines in Massachusetts.  Some of the places and things viewed were:  the Wisconsin home of Ringling Brothers Circus, the New Jersey U.S. flag-making factory, the home of buffalo wings in Buffalo, New York, a toothpick factory in Maine, the home of the Pony Express in St. Joseph, Missouri, a covered bridge in Oregon, sequoias in California, the small key deer in the Florida Keys, stone gargoyles on New York buildings, stained glass windows begun by Tiffany, and a lightbulb that has been glowing since 1901.  There are many, many more parts of our country’s history moments, some of which are still going on, and some just remembered well – all important in their own way in the life of our country.

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

Shoebox Greatest Hits and Misses by Dan Taylor, 229 pages, read by Brian, on 07/02/2012

Shoebox is a greeting card line from the Hallmark Company.  This division of the company tends to be the silly and funny side of Hallmark’s cards.  In 2006, Shoebox celebrated 20 years of hits and misses and probably could have been hits if it would have found the right audience. The humor ranges from adorable to raunchy but most are very funny.  If you want a funny read to and see what greeting cards you should have bought and missed, this is your book.  Very enjoyable.

02. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Memoirs, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , , ,

The Garner Files: A Memoir by James Garner, Jon Winokur, with an introduction by Julie Andrews Edwards, 273 pages, read by Tammy, on 06/29/2012

Best known to people of my generation as Jim Rockford a detective with a big heart and a since of humor, here’s his life story from Garner himself. He left home at the age of 14 after suffering physical abuse at the hands of his stepmother and tried a lot of jobs and served in the Korean War before trying acting. He was part of the end of the studio system where actors “belonged” to a studio and were paid a weekly rate no matter how many movies, tv shows, appearances etc., you were doing that week or how much the studio made from your work. He worked alongside Julie Andrews, Marlon Brando, Clint Eastwood, Audrey Hepburn and Steve McQueen. Garner became a star in his own right, despite struggles with stage fright and depression. He relates his acting career, family life and shares his personal beliefs including that he’s  “a card-carrying liberal—and proud of it,” and much more. Interesting stories from a man who overcame a poor homelife as a child … because what’s the alternative … and became a well-known movie and TV star.

02. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Memoirs, Tammy, Travel · Tags:

No Touch Monkey! And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late by Ayun Halliday, 273 pages, read by Tammy, on 06/30/2012

Ayun Halliday shares her adventures and misadventures around the globe as a backpacking low-budget traveler. Besides humorous stories you can also can some insight into some things NOT to do when traveling overseas. I’ve learned I am definitely NOT a backpacking traveler. I value indoor plumbing, clean sheets and mosquito repellant. Yes, if the monkey steals your shoes it really is better to just let him have them than risk injury AND have to replace them anyway, though you may amuse your fellow travelers and your hosts while you and the monkey chase each other through the rooms and stairways both running and screeching at each other.

02. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

The Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman, 320 pages, read by Angie, on 06/30/2012

Obsidian Blade is one strange book and I really enjoyed it. It is a time traveling sci-fi book that is so different from anything I have read. It is definitely the set up book for a trilogy, but that doesn’t take away the appeal of the book.

The story is about Tucker, a normal 14-year-old boy, whose father disappears from the roof one day. He reappears an hour later looking more ragged and with a strange young girl in tow. But the biggest change is that Tucker’s father, who is a preacher, no longer believes in God and doesn’t want any prayer in his house. He continues preaching in his church but life in the house changes drastically. Tucker’s mother also starts to change. She becomes obsessed with suduko puzzles and slowly starts to lose her mind. Doctors claim she is autistic, but how can someone become autistic so suddenly. Then one day Tucker’s parents disappear leaving only a note saying they are going away to get help for the mom. Tucker must now go to live with his uncle Kosh who he has never met.

Throughout the story Tucker has seen ghosts and strange disks hovering in the air. He believes the disks are responsible for his parents disappearance. One day he gets sucked into one of the disks and discovers it transports him to another time. He resolves to travel through the disks to find his parents. What he finds are different times, both past and present, filled with danger and adventure. He finds times from the past of great calamity and from the future advanced medical civilizations, human sacrificing cults, and more.

This book was fascinating. There is so much going on and so much to think about. Time traveling disks, incorporeal beings, human sacrifice, religious zealots, a disease caused by math and numbers. You name it and it is probably in this book. While a lot does happen in the book, it does seem more like and introduction to a larger story than a self-contained novel. There is a lot of character introduction and set up of the world, but that is fine with me because I found it all fascinating. I loved the character of Tucker; he is a great protagonist. He is strong and brave and adventurous, but he also acts like a normal person. I also loved the characters of Kosh and Lahlia. I am sure we will learn more about them in the future books. I think one of the more interesting aspects of this book is the story of Tucker and his father and their religious beliefs. Tucker’s father, Adrian, loses his religion then regains it through a very interesting journey. The disks caused him to doubt his belief in God but reaffirmed Tucker’s beliefs and made him stronger. I thought this was an interesting contrast.

There is an open-ended ending to this book that makes you hunger for the next one. This is probably one of the more interesting concepts I have read in a long time. I can’t wait for the next one.

02. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Contemporary Fiction, Thriller/Suspense, Travel

Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell, 208 pages, read by Andrea, on 06/29/2012

In my opinion, this book didn’t really deserve all the hype it received. However, Ree Dolly is a memorable protagonist and what she has to go through to protect her family without ratting on anyone else is pretty close to amazing. Ree’s father Jessup has skipped bail. Unfortunately no one can find him and if he does not show up for his court date, the Dolly family will lose their home. 16 year-old Ree knows the task to find her father dead or alive falls on her shoulders if her, her mother, and her two young brothers want a chance to survive.

While reading Winter’s Bone, I actually forgot what approximate time period this book took place. It is obviously set in present day, but the Dolly’s are so poverty stricken, what they have to do to do simple everyday tasks seems to put them about a century behind. Their way of life reminded me of Little House on the Prairie in the 21th Century minus the family values and plus a father in trouble for making “crank” (crystal meth). Ree, the narrator, has a rough Ozark Mountain way of speaking which I think Woodrell conveys pretty well. It drew me into the story and helped me see the grimness of her situation a little more. The dialogue is definitely what I liked most about this book. I usually dislike colloquial dialogue but if it wasn’t present in Winter’s Bone, I don’t think I would have gotten into the book. It kind of enhanced the grittiness of the story for me. Her life was certainly not all sunshine and rainbows, and her use of the English language showed that roughness. Like Charles Portis’ character Mattie Ross in True Grit, or Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games series, Ree Dolly is a tough young girl on a tough quest that someone twice her age would have a high chance of failure. Although I didn’t really think this book should have received all the rave reviews it did, I did lose myself in Ree’s world down in the Ozark Mountains and it certainly made me appreciate my clean bed in central Missouri.

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

Sand in My Bra by Various, 194 pages, read by Brian, on 06/30/2012

Sand in My Bra is a book about the perils of traveling, the good, the bad and the funny.  Each story is told by a women and the stories capture scenes from around the World.  Famous women, such as, Ellen Degeneres, Christine Nielsen and others talk about such things as, being chased by African elephants, meeting the man of your dreams and being bitten by healer most of the stories are interesting and some are amusing.  For a quick entertaining read check this book out.