13. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Science Fiction

Earth Unaware (The First Formic War #1) by Orson Scott Card, Aaron Johnston , 368 pages, read by Angie, on 08/10/2012

Earth Unaware takes place prior to the events of Ender’s Game and tells the story of the first Formic War. I love Ender’s Game and its sequels, but I can’t say that I truly love this book. It seems very disjointed and there is a LOT of info dumping. I wish there was a lot more show and a lot less tell in this book. It is obviously the beginning of a series and reads like an opener. There is a lot of introduction of characters and explaining of the environment. Unfortunately, it doesn’t all work. We don’t know how all of these people and events are going to play out and most of them are dead by the end of the book. I wish there was a tighter story going here but it really just feels like a lot of setup and filler.

13. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Fiction, Thriller/Suspense

The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly, 336 pages, read by Andrea, on 08/12/2012

How far are you willing to go to protect your family’s best interests? Can you justify your actions no matter how far you go or will you let it eat away at your sanity? Karen has spent the last 10 years trying to figure that out. Dark and very suspenseful, The Poison Tree is about her struggle to keep her best friends’ secrets as well as a few of her own. Even a brief summary would ruin this book. I really enjoyed the unfolding of Karen’s story and how it went back and forth between her future story and how the past 10 years got her to that point in life. The psychotic manner of all three main characters is quite unsettling. Even Karen, who I thought was the sanest one in the book, ended up having a dark side. I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a good psychological thriller. My husband, who reads zero books a year, said it sounded good. I could see someone making a movie out of this.

11. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Tracy

Behind Sad Eyes by Marc Shapiro, 235 pages, read by Tracy, on 08/11/2012

There are a lot of books and documentaries about the Beatles. I’ve read and viewed most of them. George Harrison was always my favorite Beatle so I picked this biography since the author kept it short and honest. The problem with famous people is you really don’t know what is really going on since the press’s job is to sell papers and books. George’s life is full of ups and downs but his belief was  “I don’t want to be famous but I do want to be successful” After the Beatle’s split he was free to write, record and perform his own music. Alcohol and drugs were part of the scene of musicians and George unfortunately went along with. His personal life was an open book since it involved other musicians namely his friend Eric Clapton. He recorded and produced a lot of albums, this book lists them all. I knew when I started reading this there would be parts that would change my image of George. But he was only human and that’s what made him a great musician.

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

The First Mountain Man by William W. Johnstone, 368 pages, read by Tracy, on 08/10/2012

A lot of the settlers who rode the Oregon trail had no idea what they were facing. If not for the mountain men most of them would’ve lost their way, been  attacked by Indians or robbed and left for dead. This is the first in the Mountain Man series by Johnstone who has written many books about the west. Preacher, he won’t tell his real name, is a very likeable guy who respects the wilderness and the Indians. When he finds a group of lost settlers being  attacked by Indians he helps them make it to the nearest Fort. He discovers their trail leader left them and probably planned to steal their gold.  Preacher has lived in the wilderness since he was twelve years old and enjoys his solitude. But he also cares about people and animals.

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

Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt, 333 pages, read by Tracy, on 08/08/2012

Living in the 1600’s was hard if you were poor. But what if you had the knowledge and power to heal people and animals. Normal people would be grateful for your help and give you food for payment. But what if your supposed healing didn’t always work for the good. Then you were labeled a witch and like most you were sentenced to hang. In this book the main character Bess Southerns has the power and uses it to help others. Her daughter and grandchildren also have inherited these traits. The author based her story on the Lancaster witch trials of 1612. King James I wrote a witch hunters manual that sparked witch hunters everywhere to find those who had satanic powers and hang them. Sadly Bess Southerns was a just a healer and could control her powers while her family didn’t.


07. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction

Astro Boy by Osamu Tezuka, 424 pages, read by Courtney, on 08/07/2012

Here’s one I’ve been meaning to read for some time now. I’m familiar enough with the history of manga and anime to know the significance of Tezuka’s work, specifically Astro Boy. I’ve even read a different series that’s based on Astro Boy, but I’ve never really known where to start. This is just volumes 1&2 put together in one book and even that appears to be somewhat of an editorial decision. The story arcs in this book are mostly from the early ’60’s. The storylines range from silly action to poignant absurdity (I’m referring to the Pero story in this case). Modern manga readers may note that the artwork has only begun to develop the trademark manga/anime “look”.
Astro Boy is a fun read, with many goofy jokes and puns. The action is almost a constant as Astro Boy and his teacher, Mr. Mustacio manage to get themselves into all manner of predicaments. Be prepared for some major suspension of disbelief, as there is some serious deus ex machina going on in some stories.  Appropriate for all ages.  Oh, and Astro Boy has machine guns in his butt, so that’s a plus, right?

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

Life as I Blow It by Sarah Colonna, 256 pages, read by Brian, on 08/06/2012

Anyone want to read a funny book?  Me too.  Unfortunately, Life as I Blow it, isn’t the funny book I’ve been looking for to cheer me up.  Sarah Colonna, a stand-up comedian from Arkansas who, on her good days can be amusing at best, writes a tale of her short life.  Having a lack of judgement, I thought maybe her book my be funnier then her stand-up.  I was wrong.  The title is a little amusing, doesn’t that count for something?  Granted, Sarah is talking about her mishaps in life, so I should give her break but I won’t because I never gave Chelsea Handler a break, so she won’t get one either.  If you are interested in a person who never really grew up and keeps making the same bad decisions over and over again…then this might be your book.  However, if you want entertainment or an interesting biography, check out my blog.

06. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Romance, Teen Books · Tags:

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin, 319 pages, read by Angie, on 08/05/2012

Araby lives in a world filled with disease and despair, forced to wear a mask covering her face so she won’t catch the plague. She is cold and frozen from the death of her twin brother Finn years before. She spends her nights with her friend April at the Debauchery Club trying to find oblivion. It is at the Debauchery Club that she meets Will, the handsome club attendant taking care of his younger brother and sister, and Elliot, April’s reckless revolutionary brother. Elliot convinces her to join the resistance against his uncle, the ruler of the city, Prince Prospero. Araby must come to terms with her father’s role in the plague and her own desires.

This book is based on Poe’s Masque of the Red Death, which I have not read. But that did not diminish my enjoyment of this story at all. In fact, I might have to go back and read Poe’s version and compare. I loved the world created by Griffin. It is dark and dreary, filled with tattered clothes and steam carriages. Araby is an interesting narrator and a great heroine for our story. She has to balance her grief and guilt over her brother’s death, her parents’ apathy and her own desires. I like that the love triangle wasn’t a trite, messy thing (I HATE love triangles). This one worked because of the political messiness of the story. I do wish we would have gotten more information on Prince Prospero and Malcontent, but I foresee that coming up in the sequel. This is a fun book with lots of dystopian, steampunk angst.

I received a copy of this from the publisher at PLA 2012.

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

Dormia by Jake Halpern, 528 pages, read by Angie, on 08/04/2012

Alfonso walks in his sleep and climbs trees and does amazing things. He never knows where he is going to wake up. One day a man shows up at Alfonso’s home in World’s End, Minnesota claiming to be his long lost uncle Hill. Hill tells Alfonso that he comes from a people who lives deep in the Ural Mountains in a place called Dormia. In Dormia everyone does things in their sleep. And they are all dependent on the Founding Tree to survive. The Founding Tree is dying and Alfonso just happens to have grown its replacement. They must get the tree to Dormia before the original dies or else. Alfonso and Hill embark on a trip around the world to save Dormia. Along the way they team up with a longshoreman named Bilblox and a slave girl named Resuza. Along the way they meet smugglers and pirates, Dormia’s enemy the Dragoonye and many other strange characters. But they need all the help they can get to find a hidden city deep in the mountains.

Dormia was a great adventure novel with lots of action, suspense and drama. I like the mythology of Dormia and its sleepers; it was different and entertaining. Alfonso is a great character and I liked that we weren’t always sure about the motivations of all the other characters. Who will betray the group? Who has ulterior motives? I like the suspense of not knowing what is going to happen until it happens. I think I will probably have to read the sequel…World’s End.

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

Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce, 256 pages, read by Angie, on 08/03/2012

Liam Digby is lost in space. How did a 12-year-old get to space? Well Liam is not your average 12-year-old. He is really tall and has facial hair. He gets mistaken for an adult all the time. He gets to ride amusement park rides, they thought he was a new teacher and he almost got to drive a Porsche. Then Liam wins a trip to a wonderful new amusement park in China. But it is only for dad and kids and Liam’s dad doesn’t want anything to do with it. So Liam pretends to be the dad of his friend Florida. Together they travel to China and find out that the Rocket isn’t a ride but a trip into space. So Liam becomes the chaperone for four kids on their first ride into outer space. It is supposed to be a quick trip up and back but things don’t work out how they are supposed to when you have kids driving the rocket.

I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand I thought it was funny and entertaining, but on the other hand I just found it completely ridiculous. Liam is a fun character who is really smart and addicted to World of Warcraft. Florida is a bubble head who finds her place in the rocket training. Together they make a great team. There are also some great scenes were Liam is trying to be the dad of Florida and referring to a self-help book. But really a trip into space as an amusement park ride? Letting kids who have had a couple days training go into space by themselves? Being mistaken for an adult just because you are tall? Some of the main points of this story just seemed so ridiculous and unlikely that it made it difficult to buy into the story. But if you don’t think about those things it was entertaining.

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

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex , 423 pages, read by Angie, on 08/03/2012

This might be one of the best audiobooks I have ever listened to. Bonnie Turpin completely captured the book in her narration. I didn’t even mind not seeing the illustrations. Her voice was spot on for Tip and J.Lo. There were times when I laughed out loud as I was driving…sure I looked like a crazy person but the book was that funny.

The True Meaning of Smekday is an essay by Gratuity (Tip) Tucci written for a time capsule to be opened in 100 years. The essay (or essays as she revises often) detail the invasion of Earth by the Boov. They rename Earth Smek after their leader Captain Smek. Since the invasion begins on Christmas Day they rename that Smekday. After destroying lots of important things and people, the Boov decide to be generous and create human preserves. They give Americans Florida, but then decide they like oranges and change it to Arizona.

Tip’s story begins with her mother’s abduction by the Boov. Instead of going with the other humans on the rocket to Florida she decides to drive from Pennsylvania. Along the way she meets a Boov named J.Lo. He fixes up her car, Sloushes, and they road trip together all the way to Arizona. Along the way they are chased and shot at by other Boov, meet a group of resistance fighters (kids calling themselves Boob) in Happy Mouse Kingdom, go to Roswell and find a bunch of crazies, and get attacked repeatedly by aliens.

I can’t truly describe how much I loved Tip and J.Lo. They are like some awesome comedy duo. Both are fantastic characters and the audiobook truly captured them. Sure this story has a lot of political and historical commentary (forced relocation of native peoples anyone?) and the satire of the book is wonderfully inventive and non-preachy. Not sure kids will get all the references, heck I’m not sure I got them all, but they are nice and subtle and don’t take away the fun of the book. How could any road trip beat driving cross country in a souped up flying car with Tip, J.Lo (a urinal cake eating alien) and the cat Pig. I don’t think it can.

06. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Fiction, Mystery, Teen Books

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly, 396 pages, read by Andrea, on 08/05/2012

Sixteen-year-old Mattie Gokey wants to go to college and be a writer. Today that is reachable, but for Mattie in the early 1900’s this was nearly impossible. After her mother death, Mattie was left with 3 younger sisters to watch over and chores to do, all of which do nothing to get her closer to her dream. Her father, heartbroken by the death of his wife and loss of his son, who leaves the family after her death, becomes hardened toward everyone, especially Mattie. When her father finally decides to let her work at the Glenmore, a hotel near her farm, Mattie receives more than just money. Hotel guest Grace Brown asks her to burn a bundle of letters for her. Just a few hours later, her drowned body is found in the lake, and Mattie decides to read her letters to find out the truth about Ms. Brown’s untimely death. The truth she uncovers inspires Mattie to follow her dreams. I found this book interesting because it was based upon the murder of a young woman named Grace Brown’s that happened in the Adirondack Mountain area. Alternating between the two time periods, each chapter focuses on Mattie before the murder and the day of the murder (Mattie’s present time). it kind of compares her before she realizes who she wants to be and how important her goals are to when she still thought she would never leave home.

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

Advent by James Treadwell, 450 pages, read by Tracy, on 08/05/2012

I haven’t read a lot of fantasy novels but this one sounded good. It was a little confusing at first since it went back and forth in time. The present time was easier to follow but when I got half way through things started to make sense. Gavin Stokes is fifteen and has what his parents call an imaginary friend Miss Grey. When his Aunt Gwen invites him to spend a week with her at Pendurra an estate in the country, he meets a lady on the train who apparently can see Miss Grey also. When he arrives Aunt Gwen is missing. The chapters that go to the past involve a box with a mirror and a ring that contains all the magic in the world. The owner Johann Faust loses the box in a ship wreck close to Pendurra. As you can see by the cover there is a large scarey bird in the story also. This is the first of a trilogy.

03. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Science Fiction, Tracy

Star Wars by George Lucas, 220 pages, read by Tracy, on 08/03/2012

Before the blockbuster Star Wars movie came out the book was cleverly released so that Science Fiction fans would spread the word and fill the movie theaters. George Lucas gets the credit for writing the book but it was ghost written by Alan Dean Foster.  You can’t help but like the personalities and relationship of the robots Artoo Detoo and See Threepio as they search for Obi-Wan Kenobi on the planet Tatooine. I’ve seen the movie several times but reading the book makes me want to see it again. “A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…..”

02. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction

Celebrity in Death by J.D. Robb , 389 pages, read by Angie, on 08/01/2012

Hollywood has come knocking on Eve and Peabody’s doors. They are making a movie about the Icove Case. During an dinner party with the cast the actress playing Peabody is murdered. It is up to Dallas and Peabody to figure out which of the movie people killed her. The fact that K.T. Harris was a horrible person and no one liked her just complicates the case.

This is your typical In Death book. Good murder mystery, lots of fun interaction between Dallas and Peabody and Dallas and Roarke. There are several references to the Icove case which occurred in a previous book. So if you didn’t read that book or you don’t really remember it (like me), you may be a little lost in regards to those references. But it doesn’t really spoil the story. Nice edition to the In Death series.

01. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Dystopia, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Uglies: Shay's Story by Scott Westerfeld, 208 pages, read by Courtney, on 08/01/2012

I’m a huge fan of the Uglies series, so when I found out that there would be a graphic adaptation, I was intrigued. Thankfully, this new version is not attempting to rehash the plot of Uglies. Rather, it is fleshing it out by telling Shay’s story (as the title obviously implies). It’s an interesting enough read, but I ultimately didn’t feel that it captured the excitement or urgency of the original. Shay is a great character, but I’m not really feeling like this does her many favors. In other words, this isn’t exactly a revelatory perspective. It is nice to see Shay’s back story and it was fun to see Tally through her eyes. The artwork is vaguely manga-inspired, which honestly makes all the characters look way too pretty (even if they’re still “ugly”).
This is definitely geared towards those who are already familiar with the Uglies story. Much would be lost without the original series’ world-building and character development. I still can’t help but think that this could have been so much better.

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

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, 343 pages, read by Courtney, on 07/31/2012

Oh. Wow. This book is amazing. Genuinely amazing. I’m not even a huge fan of historical fiction or war novels, but this completely grabbed me and still hasn’t really let go. I felt compelled to check it out due to the bevy of starred reviews and found that each and every one of those stars is well-earned.
The story opens with a young Scottish woman (“Verity”/”Eva”/Julie) who is a Special Operations Executive that has been captured by Germans after crash landing in occupied France. She has been charged with writing out a full confession and agrees to do so in order to buy herself time. Interspersed with her “confessions” is the the story of her friendship with another young woman, Maddie, a WAAF/ATA pilot. As the novel-like confession progresses, we catch glimpses of the conditions that Julie is being kept in. She is tortured and starved, but never loses her sardonic sense of humor. She remains defiant in even the most extreme circumstances.
Just when you think that you know what’s going on, the narrative shifts and the real magic happens. I’m not going to spoil it, however. I would encourage just about everyone I know to pick this book up and dig in. The characters are timeless, brave and smart. The writing is exquisite. The pace, unrelenting. I loved this book through and through. Just go read it already!

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

Crossed (Matched #2) by Ally Condie, 367 pages, read by Andrea, on 07/30/2012

Cassia and Ky are separated. At the end of Matched, Ky is taken by the Society to the Outer Provinces somewhere. Cassia and her family are transferred from their Borough to a new city outside of Oria. Heartbroken, Cassia decides to find Ky. This book focuses on Cassia’s journey to find Ky and Ky’s journey to find Cassia. Narrated from both characters’ points of view, this book was all about Cassia’s desire to find the Rising, a revolutionary group against the Society, and Ky’s battle to forgive himself and decide how important Cassia really is to her. The love triangle among Cassia, Ky, and Xander is stronger than ever as Ky has a secret about Xander he believes will change Cassia’s choice between the two of them. Ky knows he must decide whether he should let Cassia make her own choice about Xander and him, but doesn’t want to lose her.

I feel like most dystopian novels I’ve been reading lately are about the same things. The Matched series has strongly reminded me of The Silenced by James DeVita.

01. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, 528 pages, read by Nikki, on 07/12/2012

With this trilogy you either love it or hate it, and I loved it! At first I was a little freaked out with the “Red Room of Pain” but once I continued to read on and get more obsessed with Christian and Ana’s love story the BDSM grew on me. This book is not all about sex, not that I see anything wrong with a book all about sex, but it also has an intense love story, and a few fun scenes. I think one of the reasons this book is so popular is because a lot of woman can relate to Anastasia Steel, being that she’s this ordinary young woman. The thought that an ordinary young woman can intrigue a CEO of a multimillion dollar company who is also extremely good looking creates fantasy into reality for women.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book was how possessive Christian Grey was over Anastasia Steele. I didn’t find that attractive at all. I actually took offense when he would tell her what she could and could not wear or whether she could go out or not. Not that she listened to anything he told her to do anyway, it still bothered me that he thought he had the right to tell another adult how to act or live.

I personally could not relate myself to Anastasia Steele at all, however I did enjoy the love story and all of the many many sex scenes. I would recommend this book to all of my female friends, mostly so we can just talk about it all the time, and impatiently await the movie that will hopefully be coming out.