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

Blizzard by Jim Murphy , read by Angie, on 08/19/2012

This book is an excellent example of how great Jim Murphy is at writing children’s nonfiction. His depiction of the events leading up, during and after the Blizzard of 1888 are fantastically detailed and easy to read and understand. He takes personal accounts, newspaper articles and photographs and makes this storm come alive. Hundreds of people were killed in this storm and many changes came about because of it. The National Weather Service was formed and weather forecasting was removed from the Army’s responsibility. It also became a 24 hour operation instead of taking the Sabbath off. Subways were created in New York and many other cities. Utility lines were placed underground instead of in the air above major cities. And most major cities created an emergency plan to deal with disasters of this sort. I really enjoyed the first-hand accounts and the period photos; I think they made the story come alive.

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

Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes , read by Angie, on 08/18/2012

Every other day Kali becomes something else. One day she is a human teenager with all the issues and problems that involves; the next day she is an indestructible hunter of all the supernatural baddies out there. In Kali’s world, Darwin’s trip on the Beagle not only helped us understand evolution but it also revealed that there are many other types of beings in our world. Things like hellhounds, zombies, chupacabras all exist to be studied and protected.

One day when Kali is human she notices that mean-girl Bethany has the mark of the chupacabra on her. Kali convinces the beastie to transfer to her body believing that it will die when she turns the next morning. However, things don’t work like she plans and the chupacabra actually makes her stronger and gives her a connection to another of her kind, Zev. It seems that chupacabras come in matched pairs and they form a connection between their hosts. Kali and her gang (Bethany and Skylar who is kind of psychic) must fight the evil corporation that is infecting innocent people with supernatural beings and rescue Zev.

The entire time I was reading this book I was getting a Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibe. Kali has supernatural powers and fights bad things. Her scooby gang has a psychic, a snarky popular girl and a reluctant boy just tagging along. I loved the interactions between these teens. The dialog is witty and fast-paced. I have to admit that Kali’s inner dialog got old and repetitive after a while but the rest of the story made up for it. I really enjoyed the revelations about Kali and her beginnings and the resolution at the end. But there are some unanswered questions and some things could have been explained in a little more detail (like Zev’s connection). Overall, I really enjoyed this book and will be looking for more from Barnes.

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

The Shadows by Jacqueline West, read by Angie, on 08/18/2012

Olive Dunwoody doesn’t fit in with her mathematical genius parents or any of the kids at school. She has moved around too often to make real friends. But her parents decide to settle down and they buy the spooky, quirky house where Ms. McMartin died at the age of 104. The house has many mysterious knooks and crannies and creepy paintings. The house came with lots of interesting things left over from the McMartin family. Olive discovers a pair of glasses that allow her to see into the paintings; for these paintings are not your normal run of the mill paintings. When you have the glasses on the paintings come to life and you can enter them. Olive discovers and rescues Morton from one painting and she finds the guardians of the house are three peculiar talking cats: Horatio, Harvey and Leopold. They must find a way to fight the darkness that wants out of the paintings and to take back the house.

I loved Olive. She is a spunky, courageous little girl and a great heroine for our story. I thought the cats really added a great comic relieve to the story and they were great at imparting the history of the house and information we needed to know. This is a dark and spooky book with a battle between light and dark as the climax. It is definitely a compelling read.

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

Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser, read by Nikki, on 08/16/2012

Four teenagers (two sets of siblings), Alex and Kyle, Katie and Julie, meet every summer in upstate New York to escape harsh realities and live a different care free life. Until one summer when everything changed.

This book was raw, emotional, aggravating, depressing and true. Typically not so happy ending books are not my think. Which is exactly what this one is, although at the end of the book it leaves you with some hope. The author definitely doesn’t sugar coat issues, such as depression, eating disorders, rape, bullying. Which is nice to read in small doses. The only thing I didn’t like about this book was the character Katie or Katya (her Russian name). I hated how she never stood up for herself, never said anything, I almost found that more disturbing than all the other issues going on in the book.

If you’re about to have kids in high school I would suggest reading this. People to often overlook issues that go on everyday in high school or teenagers lives. This book was all to true to what really can and does go on.

 

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

The White House Kids: The Perks, Pleasures, Problems, and Pratfalls of the Presidents' Children by Joe Rhatigan, Jay Shinn (Illustrator) , read by Angie, on 08/17/2012

Really interesting look at the lives of the First Kids. Tells about their schooling, their antics, their social activities and what they thought about living in the White House. There is a lot of really interesting stuff in this book. I think I was most fascinated by the Roosevelt kids both FDR’s and Teddy’s. These kids seem like they actually enjoyed life in the White House.

17. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Tracy

The Thirteen Hallows by Michael Scott and Colette Freedman, read by Tracy, on 08/17/2012

Sarah Miller doesn’t know why she felt compelled to help an elderly women who is being attacked by two men in front of the library in London. The women, Judith, is one of 13 people who were give 13 artifacts to protect. They were evacuated to an island near Wales as children during WWII. Sarah discovers that one by one the people are being brutally murdered and the artifacts are the reason. This book is a real page turner and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Despite the violence and gore it’s a good story about Sarah and Judith’s nephew Owen as they try to keep all the Thirteen Hallows from destroying the world. A good Halloween tale since it all ends on October the 31st.

15. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: NonFiction, Tammy, Travel · Tags:

The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America (Paperback) by Bill Bryson , read by Tammy, on 08/06/2012

After the death of his father, Bill Bryson gets nostalgic for the family driving vacations he took as a child from their home in Des Moines Iowa. He decides to come back to the states (he lives in England) and start from his mom’s house and drive across America looking for the perfect small town. He visits some places that the family went to when he was a child, some places, Dad wouldn’t stop for and some because he got lost. He sees some of the best and some of the worst of America and shares it all with ironic humor. This book was published in the late 1980s some obviously some things have changed, but you’ll still learn some fun facts and enjoy the ride with Bryson as he sees the U.S. as both a native son and as a foreigner since he has lived abroad so many years.

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

The Stationmaster's Farewell by Edward Marston, read by Tracy, on 08/15/2012

This is the latest mystery with the Railway Detective Inspector Robert Colbeck and his partner Victor Leeming. It’s 1857 when the  body of the Stationmaster of Exeter England is found murdered. Joel Heygate was very popular by the townspeople and he also was an avid bird watcher. Colbeck finds that a canary and owl hold the key to finding the murder. He hopes to solve the case quickly so he can return to London for his marriage to Madeline. Colbeck and Leeming make a good team and try to eliminate the three suspects in the case. Edward Marston has written ten of these enjoyable Railway Detective book.

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

The Mysterious Howling (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #1) by Maryrose Wood, Jon Klassen (Illustrations) , read by Angie, on 08/14/2012

Three young children are found in the woods by a wealthy landowner, Frederick Ashton. They need a governess so along comes Miss Penelope Lumley from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females. She believes she is going to teach Alexander, Beowulf, and Cassiopeia Latin and Geography and such, but really she ends up teaching them to talk and not chase squirrels. They are bright children and she soon finds herself caring for them. This is the beginning of a series and it is certainly delightful. There is a lot of mystery surrounding both Lumley and the children and really the Ashtons. Non of these mysteries are solved by the end of the book, which I usually hate, but in this case found was ok. Hopefully these questions will be answered in the next few books: Who are the children and where did they come from? Where did Penelope come from? Who set up the children at the party? What is behind the mysterious wall? Why is Penelope and Cassiopeia’s hair the same color? What does Old Timothy know? I guess I’ll have to read the rest of the series to find out.

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

Diego: Bigger Than Life by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, read by Angie, on 08/14/2012

Diego: Bigger than Life tells the story of Mexican artist Diego Rivera through a series of poems and illustrations. The entirety of his life is illustrated in the poems from birth to death. I loved that the poems conveyed all the emotion and actual situations of each subject. I feel like I learned all about Diego Rivera through these few poems. Everything from his upbringing, to his art to his many wives and mistresses were covered. I really enjoyed the illustrations as well, but I do wish that more of Rivera’s actual art could have been used.

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

Black Elk's Vision: A Lakota Story by S.D. Nelson, read by Angie, on 08/14/2012

Black Elk’s Vision is the true story of Lakota Medicine Man Black Elk. When he was young he had a vision of six grandfathers offering him the choice between a life of peace and a life of violence. Throughout his life he tried to tell people of his vision and bring it forth. Unfortunately, the White Men or Wha-shi-choos didn’t allow for a life of peace. Black Elk was part of many battles that wiped out the Indians and left them on reservations. He traveled with Wild Bill’s Wild West Show across the country and to Europe but he still didn’t find the peace for his people he sought. The imagery and story of this book suck you in from the very beginning. There are wonderful period photos and illustrations the highlight the story being told. Nelson does a great job of showing the freedom the Indians had and how it was taken away by the White Men. Wonderful book!

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

Under Siege!: Three Children at the Civil War Battle for Vicksburg by Andrea Warren, read by Angie, on 08/13/2012

Truly fascinating look at the Battle for Vicksburg during the Civil War. Warren takes the lives of three children two in Vicksburg and Grant’s son with the Union Army and shows how the siege affected them. Lots of interesting details about the battle and the siege and lots of photographs and illustrations. The story isn’t just about the three children though; there are details about others who lived in Vicksburg. Lots of great information about this pivotal battle during the Civil War. I also loved all the back end stuff…what happened to the people in the book, details about the War, and lots of references. Well researched and written book.

14. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Graphic Novel · Tags: ,

Zombies Hate Stuff by Greg Stones, read by Brian, on 08/13/2012

Zombies get a bad wrap.   They sort of have feelings and like every other creature, they should be acknowledge for their feelings.  Zombies hate stuff and not just all stuff, particular stuff, such as, mermaids and archery.  Our flesh eating friends also kind of like certain stuff like mimes and outhouses, so they aren’t just negative creatures.  However, zombies really hate penguins, ninja and of course clowns.  The most important thing to remember is….Zombies love YOU!  I found this book amusing and illustrations funny, if yyou can spare a couple of minutes pick this book up and enjoy.

14. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Graphic Novel · Tags:

Zombies Hate Stuff by Greg Stones, read by Courtney, on 08/13/2012

Did you know that Zombies hate hippies? And kittens? They do. They don’t seem to mind Canadians or teddy bears. But they really hate trees. And they love you.
This is a hilarious little book that can be read in about 2 minutes.  The illustrations are priceless.  So if you have a couple minutes to spare, find out what else Zombies hate. It could mean the difference between life and death during the Zombie Apocalypse. Or not.

14. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Historical Fiction, Teen Books

A Plague Year by Edward Bloor, read by Courtney, on 08/09/2012

Tom’s story begins on September 10th, 2001. This is the first day he and his sister Lilly join their after-school drug counseling group at the behest of their parents, who feel that both kids are genetically predisposed to addiction. The topic on everyone’s mind at the meeting is the appearance of meth in their small Pennsylvania community. The next day, the planes crash in New York, DC and in a field near Tom’s town. Bolstered by his English teacher, Tom begins a journal of the events that take place in the year following 9/11. The year has been described as a “plague year”, similar to those throughout history. The plague this time is meth. Tom is seeing the evidence of it everywhere in his town, from the the rash of thefts at his father’s grocery store, to the number of “meth zombies” walking the streets. Tom, his cousin and his sister continue to remain die-hard members of the drug counseling group and strive to find ways to help fight the plague that has pervaded their town.
It’s an interesting story, particularly since it is juxtaposed against the tragedy of 9/11. What 9/11 has to do with the overall storyline, however, is still unclear to me. Triggers for using drugs are discussed and 9/11 is mentioned as an event that could be a trigger, but it is also clear that meth has already invaded rural Pennsylvania. As the story continues, the theme of 9/11 fades into the past as Tom watches his town sink into ruin. The counseling group serves a device to explain the drug itself, but becomes a strange source of tension when the counselor’s PhD husband is exposed as a pot-smoker. I can’t help but be a little confused at the two drugs being discussed as though they were on the same level. I understand the kids being upset at potential hypocrisy, but meth is so much worse than any plant-based drug and so addictive/deadly that comparing it to pot might lead some kids to assume one is as bad as the other (or, conversely, that if one isn’t that bad, then the other likely isn’t either). These details make the book feel less cohesive and more naive. The emphasis and then loss of the 9/11 theme feels disjointed and potentially unnecessary, except for proximity (both in time and place). I wanted so much more for this book, but it ultimately had too many flaws for me.

13. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Fiction, Janet

The Best Cat Ever by Cleveland Amory, read by Janet, on 08/10/2012

The Best Cat EverThis is another of Cleveland Amory’s humorous stories about a special cat.  He is very knowledgeable about cats and prides himself on taking good care of his pets as well as feeling personal friendship with them.  He expects his friends to appreciate them, too.  Polar Bear was a stray kitten when found and his life until the old-age problem of uremic poisoning, kidney failure, took him away was enjoyed and reviewed by the author with a great deal of humor.  Mr. Amory admits learning many things while living with Polar Bear – some of which came in handy with his associates.

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

Bury the Dead: Tombs, Corpses, Mummies, Skeletons, & Rituals by Christopher Sloan, read by Angie, on 08/12/2012

There is a certain fascination with the dead and how they are treated and this book does a great job of looking at how cultures have buried their dead throughout history. Some are very elaborate like the Chinese and Egyptian and others are more simple. This book looks at a wide variety of tombs from prehistoric Neanderthals to modern day burials. Definitely worth the read.

13. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Children's Books, Fiction, Science Fiction

A Hero For WondLa (WondLa #2) by Tony DiTerlizzi , read by Angie, on 08/11/2012

Hero for Wondla picks up right where Search for Wondla left off. Eva Nine and Rovee have been picked up by pilot Hailey and are taken to the human city New Attica. Now of course nothing is what it seems in New Attica (is it ever?) and Eva and Rovee soon find themselves on the run again. This delightful book is filled with interesting characters and just enough sci-fi to keep us wanting more. I love all the creatures that now inhabit Earth or Orbana. I love the sinister leader of New Attica and his bubble-headed daughters. But most of all I love the relationship between Eva and Rovee and the rest of the planet. This is truly a gem.

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

Palace Beautiful by Sarah Deford Williams , read by Angie, on 08/12/2012

Sadie and Zulu have just moved with their dad and stepmom into an old house in Salt Lake City, UT. They live down the street from Grandma Brooks and next door to Bella and her control-freak mother. While exploring their new home they discover a hidden room in the attic with a journal and the words Palace Beautiful written on the wall. The journal is written by Helen in 1918 and tells the story of her family during the influenza outbreak. The girls set out to discover what happened to Helen and her family since the journal ends abruptly.

This was a wonderful book and well deserving of the Mark Twain nominee. All three of the girls are delightful characters. Sadie grieving for her mom, Zulu throwing tantrums and Belle just wanting to be loved by her mom. I really enjoyed that the story was set in the 1980s but could take place at any time. Helen’s story worked really well intertwined with the girls. Very satisfying ending as well. Definitely recommend.

2012-13 Missouri Mark Twain nominee.

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

The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon by Carla Killough McClafferty, read by Angie, on 08/10/2012

We think of George Washington as the president on the dollar bill or the quarter; little do we realize that those pictures really do not show the true face of George Washington. This book follows the progress of the creation of three statues of Washington during various phases of his life: as a surveyor, as the General during the Revolutionary War and as President. The book tells us what he was doing during those times and explains the process of recreating his face. There are some really interesting things in this book. I liked knowing more about Washington since I don’t feel like I knew a whole lot about him before the Revolution. I do have to admit that while the process of creating the statues was interesting it got a little long-winded and tedious for me. But the results were fabulous and it is nice to know what Washington really looked like.