31. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Autobiographies, Graphic Novel · Tags: , ,

Persepolis: The Story of a Return (Persepolis #2) by Marjane Satrapi, 192 pages, read by Andrea, on 08/30/2012

Marjane is back with her black and white drawings to tell the story of her growing up. It opens with her school experiences in Austria and eventually going back home to Tehran. It showed the struggles she went through knowing her family and friends were still in a war-stricken country while she was safe in Europe and the transition she had to go to when she got to Europe and then when she finally came home. Just as she got used to the fudamentalism of Iran she went to Europe where everything was open and more liberal. Then just as she got used to Europe, she had to go back to Iran where Islamic law was already in place. As Marjane understood more in this era of her life, it was a little more depressing than the first book. She knew what it meant to be under a regime and understood the consequences of disobeying it. Due to her experiences in Austria, Marjane is not a naive little girl anymore and is almost bitter when she returns to her home country. It was interesting to read a little more about Iranian history during the 80s and 90s and see how Marjane uses her experiences in a positive way to become the stronger and more independent woman she wants to be.

30. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Autobiographies, Graphic Novel · Tags: , ,

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Persepolis #1) by Marjane Satrapi, 160 pages, read by Andrea, on 08/28/2012

With simple black and white drawings, Marjane Satrapi explains a very painful part of her childhood. Persepolis is a memoir of what it was like for her growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution, while explaining what the country’s people went through during the war with Iraq and with the religious revolutionaries. It chronicles Marjane’s struggles from about the time she is 10, when the revolution begins, to age 14, when she moves away at her parent’s request from the dangers in Iran to live and go to school in Europe.

Although it was a little slow in some parts and the illustrations didn’t really intrigue me, Persepolis really did give me a quick glimpse of Iran in its early days before it became the country everyone knows now. Marjane explains very simply the major transitions Iran has gone through over the last 4 decades and how it has divided its people from one another and the country as a whole from the rest of the world. The thing I like most about graphic novels is how simplistic yet powerful they can be. If Persepolis was simply a nonfiction book, it wouldn’t have had the same impact for me as the graphic novel was able to give. Overall, a good, quick read with a bit of educational info about Iran.

30. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Tracy, Westerns

The Warrior's Path by Louis L'Amour, 226 pages, read by Tracy, on 08/30/2012

This is the continuing story of Louis L’Amour’s Sacketts clan. In this book the two brothers Yance and Kin search for two girls who were kidnapped with the intention of selling them as slaves in the West Indes. When Kin discovers that they aren’t the first he decides to travel to Jamaica and stop any future abductions. Kin learns that the Sackett name is well known and helps him in his quest. One of the girls Diana is rumored to be a witch but that doesn’t stop Kin from falling in love.

30. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Science Fiction, Tammy

Shades of Grey # 1: Road to High Saffron by Jasper Fforde, 390 pages, read by Tammy, on 08/19/2012

Part I of a new series from Thursday Next author, Jasper Fforde, Shades of Grade: Road to High Saffron introduces you to a future society after the “Great Something” happens. You follow young adult Eddie Russett as he tries to decide on a career and marriage and moves into adulthood. As long as anyone can remember, society has been ruled by a colortocracy: a social hierarchy based upon one’s limited color perception. In this world, you are, what you can see.

Eddie Russet, with his better-than-average red perception, could marry Constance Oxblood and inherit the string works; he may even have enough red perception to make prefect.

But everything changes when he is sent to East Carmine for “humility training.” There, he falls in love with a Grey named Jane who opens his eyes to the painful truth behind his seemingly perfect, rigidly controlled society.

30. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Memoirs, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , ,

If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor by Bruce Campbell, 304 pages, read by Tammy, on 08/30/2012

Bruce Campbell is probably best know for his “sidekick” roles in Burn Notice, Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules tv series. He also starred in a couple of short-lived action comedy series: The Adventures of Brisco County Jr and Jack of All Trades. In this autobiography, Bruce Campbell takes you along on his journey from a kid in Detroit, Michigan who loved to make 8mm movies with classmate Sam Raimi to his “blue-color” career in Hollywood. Detailed chapters take you along for the ride as he and other Detroit “boys” make their first feature-length horror film, they produced, Sam directed and Bruce acted in, Evil Dead. If your a fan of his tv career you won’t be surprised that Campbell opts for humor over deep reflection in his descriptions of his work in Hollywood. 

28. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Graphic Novel, Paranormal, Teen Books

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol , 221 pages, read by Andrea, on 08/27/2012

Think back to the good old days of high school. Wouldn’t you love to have the answers to the exams, to know when the principal was coming around the corner while sneaking cigarettes or a forbidden cell phone? Anya has that and more. After falling into an uncovered well in the park while trying to cut class, Anya finds herself trapped and, surprisingly, not alone. Lacking in the friend department, Anya is pretty desperate for companionship. Finding a ghost in the bottom of a well who looks like she could be a pretty good friend is not really the type of friend Anya had in mind, but when her new friend helps her find a way out of the well, their frienship starts to blossom. However, as time passes, Anya begins to wonder just how literally her new friend means to take the title BFF.

Very interesting book. I actually found myself really creeped out with the ghost’s obsessive, maniacal behavior. A good read, I think Brosgol did a good job convincing the reader (well at least me) that it is ok to be a little quirky and not be exactly like everyone else. It is normal to feel a twinge of jealousy for someone as well. But it is very important to remember that someone you envy may have more problems than you think and, in all actuality, he or she may be wishing for your life. That message is so important in my opinion.

28. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Biographies, NonFiction · Tags: , ,

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers, 342 pages, read by Andrea, on 08/27/2012

I had randomly selected this book to read and, since it was nonfiction, decided to find out a little more about Mr. Zeitoun and his family and see how nonfiction it really was. After reading Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea, I have been skeptical of nonfiction books. I stumbled upon a news article about Abdulrahman Zeitoun stating he is no longer the man portrayed in the book. Zeitoun was convicted earlier last week of abusing his wife. However, that did not really interest me. What intrigued me was the controversy surrounding this man and the book Zeitoun by Dave Eggers about Zeitoun’s experiences during Katrina in Louisiana.  Although the book was well written, I found myself annoyed by Zeitoun throughout the entire story. Eggers portrays Zeitoun as a God-like man who helps out people (and even dogs) in need who is the victim throughout the entire book. The way Eggers wrote the book almost seems as if he is sugar coating the story, so it makes it pretty hard for me to believe all the events happened exactly as they were represented in this nonfiction book.

Overall, I like that it was written in story form, not stuffy like some autobiographies and biographies can sometimes get. However, making it in story form may have taken away from the realness of it all and made the nonfiction story seem just a little bit fictitious and exaggeratory. Will never look up a person if I don’t know his or her story before reading his or her biography ever again. I think that maybe I was biased since I already thought Zeitoun was a bad man for his crimes.I have not read any other books by Eggers, but he seems like a good writer.

28. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Janet

Charles Darwin, The Life of a Revolutionary Thinker by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, 144 pages, read by Janet, on 08/28/2012

Charles Darwin had great interest in science, but he was expected to become a pastor.  Before going into this field, he had an opportunity to go on a trip around the world on a government-sponsored survey ship, the Beagle.  The sailing ship didn’t give anyone much room, but wherever they stopped, Charles gathered many items of interest that he wanted to study.  Most things were skinned or dried and sent back to England after careful notes and drawings were made.  He noted all changes in plants, birds, and animals in different regions and habitats and theorized on what caused these changes.  He spent most of his life reading, writing, experimenting and working on understanding the functions of the changes.  He documented the importance of Natural Selection.  He was also a loving family man who had great sadness in the loss of children and siblings and often suffered from illness himself.  Through it all, he was a dedicated scientist.

24. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Contemporary Fiction, Dystopia, Romance, Teen Books

Divergent by Veronica Roth, 525 pages, read by Andrea, on 08/20/2012

Oh my, what a great book. A really fast read and very memorable characters. I fell in love with Beatrice, the star of the book, immediately. Beatrice was born into the Abnegation faction, where each member is expected to be selfless and think of others’ needs before his or her own. At 16 years old, citizens of what seems to be a dystopian version of Chicago are able to decide to keep with the faction they were born into or turn to another one. Beatrice, believing she does not fit into the Abnegation faction, is torn between putting her family first or embracing a faction more suited to her personality. She goes through a kind of “graduation test,” which determines what the best faction is for 16 year olds. Although her test results are inconclusive (which makes her Divergent according to members of the factions), she decides to go with Dauntless, the faction in charge of security and law enforcement. All Beatrice is able to get from her test results is she could not be honest at all times (Candor), she is not completely enthralled with learning a ton of stuff every day(Erudite), and being nice and happy 24/7 is not for her (Amnity). To top off being a Dauntless initiate, which is most definitely not easy, Beatrice also has to deal with a few bullies. On a lighter note, for readers who like romance, she has a cute relationship with Four, a top Dauntless initiate from a few years back. Looking forward to reading the second one, as this one left me hanging and begging for more.

24. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Classics, Fiction · Tags:

Julie of the Wolves (Julie of the Wolves #1) by Jean Craighead George, 176 pages, read by Angie, on 08/24/2012

Miyax/Julie is torn between living the eskimo way and living the white man “gussak” way. She has been torn from her father and forced to live with others. She marries Daniel and eventually runs away after he tries to force himself on her. In the Alaskan wilderness she bonds with a wolf pack and is accepted as one of them. The alpha wolf, Amaraq, teaches her how to survive and speak with the wolves. They become the family she no longer has.

Julie is a very strong, independent girl who has a fascinating story. At times I did find her voice a little preachy when she was talking about the eskimo way of life and the wolves. However, her relationship with the wolves was fascinating. I am not so sure about the end of the book. I haven’t read the sequel so I don’t know how George resolves this, but the end was a little unsatisfying. I have to admit that I had tears in my eyes when Amaraq gets killed, which is a sure sign of a good book!

24. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Poetry, Teen Books

Hidden by Helen Frost, 160 pages, read by Angie, on 08/24/2012

Wren was accidentally kidnapped when she was 8 years old. She hid in the back of the car when it was stolen. Then she hid in the garage for two days before she escaped. Darra’s dad was the kidnapper. Darra knew Wren was in the garage and helped her as much as she could. When Wren escaped Darra’s dad went to prison. Six years later the two girls end up in the same cabin at camp. Neither wants to acknowledge what happened but slowly they come to terms with it and with each other.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this book. It is told in verse and that doesn’t always work. However, I ended up really loving this book. The two poetry styles work really well for the different narrators. And for the most part it doesn’t read like verse; it seems very narrative and I never felt like I was missing part of the story.

I was disappointed to learn that Darra’s chapters had a second story running through them. We only learn about this in the notes at the end of the book. I was frustrated that I then had to go back and reread all her parts to get this second story. I think the narrative would have been better served if this would have been included in an introduction instead of an epilogue. This second story adds to her narrative.

This is a beautifully told story and well worth the read even with the hidden story.

24. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Barn Boot Blues by Catherine Friend , 142 pages, read by Angie, on 08/23/2012

Taylor is new to the farm. Her parents packed up and moved to the country from Minneapolis and Taylor is not having fun. Her dad still commutes over an hour and is never home. Her mom is trying to learn how to run the farm and is always busy. And Taylor has had one misadventure/embarrassing incident after another: she wore barn boots to the first day of school, showed up to school with chicken poop in her hair, wore a skirt that didn’t fit into the school dresscode. Taylor has had enough with farm life even if she does like some of the animals. She hatches a plot to get her parents off the farm and back in the city, but will she really want to leave?

This was a fun, light read. Taylor is a wonderful character and seems very true to life. I loved all the animal antics and embarrassing moments. And some of the kids at school remind me of ones I went to school with. I think young readers will laugh or cringe at Taylor’s mishaps, but cheer with her during the triumphs.

23. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

The Unseen Guest (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #3) by Maryrose Wood, 340 pages, read by Angie, on 08/23/2012

In this installment of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Ms. Lumley and the children are back at home and ready to get back to work. But then Frederick’s mother comes for a visit and brings her beau Faucet. Faucet is clearly after Widow Ashton’s money to set up his ostrich racing business. When the ostrich gets loose the children help him track it and he develops an interest in racing wolves with half-human riders (namely the Incorrigibles). A seance must take place to speak to Mr. Ashton beyond the grave (the widow can’t decide if she can marry Faucet). Ms. Lumley has to try and keep the children safe and her wits about her.

Basically a whole lot of nothing takes place in this book. There is no advancement of the overarching storyline about the Incorrigibles and Lumley’s parentage or Ashton’s mysterious wolf issues. There are the same side note dialogues about random things in this book but they seem a lot longer and more pointless than other installments. I was completely charmed by this series until I read this book. I like the quirkiness of the characters and the story, but I expect my series to make some progress and this one seems stalled.

23. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin , 282 pages, read by Angie, on 08/21/2012

This is a wonderful story about a young girl, Minli, who travels to ask the Man in the Moon how to change her family’s fortune. Along the way she meets many different characters and hears their stories.

I have to admit that I don’t think I got everything out of this book by listening to it on audio. I would get distracted, not pay attention, do something else, so I am not sure my review is completely accurate. I might have had a much different experience if I would have read the book itself. However, I did enjoy Minli’s story. I like the setup of this book with the stories within the story. I like that the stories all contain a lesson or a moral of some sort. And I really liked how it all tied together at the end. One day I may have to read the book and find out all the parts I missed.

23. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Janet

The Woman Warrior, Memiors of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston, 209 pages, read by Janet, on 08/16/2012

This is the story of Brave Orchid, a Chinese girl raised among the old ways, where sons were appreciated in a family, but daughters were usually to be sold or married as soon as possible.  There were many deaths mentioned in the story – the background of ghosts that were always with the people.  Many warnings about life were usually told as stories to children about how the gods expected certain actions and gifts.  Her mother sliced the frenum under her tongue when whe was a baby, which caused her great difficulty in speaking clearly, so as a child, she rarely spoke at all. The Chinese say “a ready tongue is an evil.”  There are actually many stories of the women in the family.  Brave Orchid attended college and got her medical degree.  She treated many people in China before coming to America, but when she and her husband moved to California, they made their living with the hard work of a laundromat in the Chinese quarter.

21. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Thriller/Suspense, Tracy

Echo Burning by Lee Child, 420 pages, read by Tracy, on 08/21/2012

Jack Reacher is not the kind of guy a women would pick up hitchhiking on a desert highway. He weighs about 250 and is over 6 feet. But lucky for Jack a lady in a cool car picks him up on a hot day in the Texas desert. He isn’t the first she’s picked up. But maybe she got lucky this time and he is willing to help her out of an abusive situation. Carmen Greer is married to a controlling violent husband and lives with his family near the town of Echo. He is about to be released from prison and she is desperate for some way out of the relationship. Jack is hired as a ranch hand despite having no experience with horses and as usual is in control of the situation. Another winner by Lee Child.

21. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Mystery, Tracy

Guns in the Gallery by Simon Brett, 202 pages, read by Tracy, on 08/21/2012

Carole and Jude are neighbors and friends despite their opposite personalities. Carole is  retired and enjoys walking her dog by the beach while Jude is outgoing and  does healing and massages for a living. The one thing they enjoy is exchanging gossip about their fellow Feathering townsfolk at the local pub the Crown and Anchor. This is the 13th book in the series. The guns in the gallery is an art exhibit at the local gallery by an obnoxious artist Denzil Willoughby. The murder victim is a former girlfriend of his who apparently committed suicide. Or did she. Simon Brett has written other mystery series and keep you on the edge of your seat.

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

Jefferson's Children: The Story of One American Family by Shannon Lanier, 144 pages, read by Angie, on 08/19/2012

This is a very interesting book about Thomas Jefferson’s legitimate and illegitimate families. It explores the controversy of the Sally Hemmings relationship through interviews with family members. Shannon Lanier is a descendant from the Sally Hemmings side of the family and wants to get to know all of his new cousins after the revelations about the relationship were announced and the family attended the reunion at Monticello. I found it fascinating to hear all the stories of this blended family, how many of them passed for white instead of black, how some have always know they were descendants of Jefferson and how some just found out. I found it sad that some of the descendants from Jefferson’s daughters deny there was any relationship between Jefferson and Hemmings. I have to admit that I believe there was a relationship between the two. It isn’t that hard to believe that Jefferson could love his slave. Her devotion to him seems indisputable. She tended his grave until she died and wouldn’t leave the area. I know some people find it hard to reconcile the Jefferson who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Jefferson who had slaves, but he was a product of his time. Slavery was a part of life and he could not have done many of the great things he did without his slaves (build U.Va. and Monticello). He also educated his slaves and made sure they knew a trade, at least the ones that were his children. There are many twists and turns to this family’s history and it is all very interesting and fascinating to read about.

20. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Beyond the Deepwoods (Edge Chronicles #1) by Paul Stewart, Chris Riddell , 288 pages, read by Angie, on 08/19/2012

Twig doesn’t fit in with his woodtroll family. He is very different from everyone else in the village and has a hard life because of that. One day his family decides that he must leave the village and venture out into the Deepwoods. The Deepwoods are filled with all kinds of creatures and dangers but if you stay on the path you should be fine. Of course Twig strays from the path and has one adventure after another. It seems like he gets out of one situation and instantly falls into another. He has no clear idea of where he is going and just continues to travel through the Deepwoods looking for a path out.

There is a lot going on in this book. I enjoyed Twig and his adventures but I wish there was more to the story than Twig going from one dangerous situation to another. It makes the book seem like a bunch of short stories tied into one. The adventures are all fun and interesting; I especially enjoyed his travels with the banderbear and his time with the Mag and the termagents. I think the ending was a satisfying one and answers questions about Twig’s identity. It is also a nice way to set up the next book. This is an entertaining fantasy adventure book.

20. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Paranormal, Teen Books

Spell Bound (Hex Hall #3) by Rachel Hawkins , 336 pages, read by Angie, on 08/19/2012

This third and final book in the Hex Hall series was a satisfying ending if maybe not as good as the previous books in the series. Spell Bound picks up right after the events in Demonglass. Sophie’s powers are bound, her dad has no powers and is missing along with Archer and Cal. There are lots of things revealed in this book about Sophie’s family and the evil Casnoffs. The plot is very fast-moving and busy. The language is fabulous and just as witty and snarky as the previous books. I think the problem with this book was that there was so much going on that nothing was really explored in depth. But it is still a page-turner and entertaining. I actually liked the resolution at the end and found it a very satisfying ending to the series. I just wish the ending battle wasn’t so rushed.