30. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Literary Fiction, Tracy

Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani, 272 pages, read by Tracy, on 11/30/2012

Ave Maria Mulligan is considered a “furriner” in the town of Big Stone Gap Virginia. She was born there but her mother was from Italy. In a small town there is a lot of gossip. So when Ave learns her father wasn’t her biological father she feels even more a foreigner. The author grew up in Big Stone Gap so she knows all about life in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Ave is a self proclaimed spinster at 35 and runs the towns pharmacist. She keeps busy with the local theatre group and her friend Iva Lou Wade the bookmobile driver. Big Stone Gap is a nice place to live but Ave wants to find her real father some day. I enjoyed this book and want to go to The Carter Fold and see what it’s all about with the music and atmosphere.

30. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Informational Book, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , ,

Pot Roast, Politics, and Ants in the Pantry: Missouri's Cookbook Heritage by Carol Fisher, 235 pages, read by Tammy, on 11/30/2012

This cookbook starts off with a brief history of cookbooks in the United States and then moves into Missouri written and published cookbooks. It shows how early cookbooks where a record of our cultural heritage. How the cooks of the day would move from recipes for a fine dinner on one page to recipes to keep ants out of the house and add color to a flowers bloom on the next then back to recipes for every day meals.

The authors used more than 150 publications to discuss Missouri’s cookbook heritage. They started with manuscript cookbooks from 1821 in St Louis including those from the William Clark family. Yes, that’s Clark from the Lewis and Clark Expeditions. They continue on to modern days including the popularity and fundraising efforts of community and civic group cookbooks and how the state’s beef council has put recipes on the Internet.

An informative, fun history of cooking, every day life and even politics in Missouri.

30. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: How To's, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags:

Tea with Jane Austen by Kim Wilson, 108 pages, read by Tammy, on 11/29/2012

A history of tea and tea-time in England with emphasis on Jane Austen’s lifetime as well as examples of different tea traditions from different levels of British society and quotes from Austen’s novels that illustrate these traditions.

Did you know that coffee appeared in England before tea? Some households even served coffee or hot cocoa instead of tea at tea time but since tea had become the fashionable drink of high society and royalty this afternoon or evening repast became refered to as “tea.” The book includes recipes for tea treats and other drinks served at tea time with both traditional recipes and modern forms of the same recipes.

Son

30. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Tammy

Son by Lois Lowry, 393 pages, read by Tammy, on 11/29/2012

A satisfying conclusion to The Giver series that ties all the main characters together from all 3 previous stories, The Giver, Gathering Blue and Messenger. Claire’s story could also be a strong story on it’s own but it was great to finally found out what happened to baby Gabe. : )

30. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

My Life in Pink and Green by Lisa Greenwald, 272 pages, read by Angie, on 11/29/2012

Lucy works in her family pharmacy with her mom and grandma. Business isn’t going so great and things are looking grim. Mom and Grandma fight all the time about how to handle the finances and the pharmacy. Lucy wants to help out so she starts doing makeup for people and puts together a Relaxation Room for customers. She also applies for a going green grant from the city. She works really hard to help save the family business even if Grandma and Mom think it is hopeless. In addition to the family drama, Lucy is also dealing with school and boy drama. She and her friend Sunny join the Earth Club to be near Sunny’s crush and Lucy finds out she has a crush on Sunny’s brother.

I like Lucy, she is positive, enthusiastic and motivated. I think she is a good role model for girls. The book had plenty of fun girly stuff and drama to make for an entertaining read. I didn’t really care for the adults in the book. Grandma and Mom were always fighting and didn’t really seem to pay that much attention to Lucy until the end. I liked that the story showed how kids can make a difference in both big and small ways.

29. November 2012 · 1 comment · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags:

Hidden by P.C. Cast, 302 pages, read by Tammy, on 11/26/2012

At last, Neferet’s evil has been exposed and the High Council is no longer on her side. But it’s not that easy to get rid of Neferet. She tries to involve humans in the vampyre world and the running of the House of Night including reaching out to Aphrodite’s father the mayor. The twins are still barely speaking and now Kalona is supposed to a warrior for the House of Night. Can they trust him? And what does the visions Zoey sees through the Seer Stone mean? Grandma Redbird also plays an important part in this continuing saga of the House of Night.

 

 

29. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags:

Destined by P.C. Cast, 325 pages, read by Tammy, on 11/23/2012

Zoey is finally home at the House of Night in Tulsa. She along with Stark, Stevie Rae and Rephaim must now battle Neferet. Can they convince the High Counsel of Neferet’s true nature? What will become of Kalona now that he has separated from Neferet?

Other changes are taking place at the House of Night. Humans are being employed for the first time, including a handsome horse whisperer that haunts Lenobia and the mysterious young teen, Aurox. But is he really human? What is his destiny and how will affect Zoey and her friends?

27. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Food, Mystery, Tracy

The Vintage Caper by Peter Mayle, 223 pages, read by Tracy, on 11/27/2012

Danny Roth has a lot of money and an expensive wine collection. When he decides to give an interview to a local newspaper letting the world know that he has a 3 million dollar wine collection you can guess what happens next. He gets a lot of attention from other wine collectors and one of them decides to steal his wine. After the robbery Danny contacts his insurance company to get his money. They hire Sam Levitt, former lawyer and wine connoisseur. The difference between the two men is Sam enjoys drinking wine while Danny collects it to impress people. Sam takes a trip to France to meet with former contacts and find out who stole the wine. And also to eat oysters, caviar and sample lots of wine.

27. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Finally (11 Birthdays #2) by Wendy Mass , 304 pages, read by Angie, on 11/27/2012

Rory has been waiting for the day she turns 12 forever! She has a long list of things she can do when she is 12; things her parents have promised her like getting a cell phone, staying home by herself, getting her ears pierced. Her parents are very overprotective so they haven’t let her do a whole lot. But now they have to. So Rory starts working on her list and nothing turns out the way she thought it would and one mishap after another takes place. Her cell phone is a nightmare, she has one allergic reaction after another…first her face from makeup then her ear from the gold earring, she maims herself trying to shave her legs, her new bunny tries to kill her. It is all just going down hill fast. And to top things off a movie is being shot at her school with Jake Harrison, the cutest movie star ever! Will Rory survive turning 12?

I really enjoyed 11 Birthdays and 13 Gifts (yes I read them out of order) so I had pretty high expectations for this book. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t read the other two first. Both of those books have a bit of magic and mystery woven into the stories whereas this one is more of a straight story. 11 Birthdays had the Groundhog Day style, 13 Gifts had the quest for the 13 items and this one has Rory who injures herself at every turn. I guess I was just expecting more. Sure there is a moral to what happens to Rory, but it barely fits in with the others in the series.

If I would have read this as a stand alone book I think I would have enjoyed it more. Rory is a fun character and all her mishaps are cringe-worthy but hilarious. You really feel sorry for her after so many things go wrong. Her parents go from being helicopter parents to very hands-off which I thought was strange, but made for a good story. I enjoyed her friends as well and thought everyone acted pretty much like typical preteens. I know from 13 Gifts that Rory and Jake become friends and I wish there would have been more of that in this book since it really isn’t touched on, but they have a great relationship in the next book. I like the lessons Rory learned even if some of them were a little heavy handed. Wendy Mass definitely knows how to write for her target audience and I think her writing is fun.

27. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Food, Janet, Mystery

Cream Puff Murder by Joanne Fluke, 310 pages, read by Janet, on 11/26/2012

     I have never before read a book that had delicious recipes for items mentioned in the story.  There are twenty-two sweet recipes scattered through the book.  The story is an interesting murder of a woman who enjoyed men (perhaps too much!) and all the people involved in her life.  Hannah Swenson, who owns a bakery and always seems to have extra sweets around to share with people (which we can bake from the recipes provided), has solved murders before, so this was a good opportunity to use her wisdom and attention to details to find out who did what.

As she is working on the case of the woman found floating in the pool, Hannah is also working out in the gym and dieting to lose weight so she could fit into a dress her mother had chosen for her to wear to a book launch party.  Food seems to always be on everyone’s mind, but they do discuss the murder with enough people to bring out the guilty one.  In fact, he almost does away with Hannah before she is rescued.

Now to try those recipes!!

26. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Dystopia, Science Fiction, Teen Books, Thriller/Suspense

Ship Breaker (Ship Breaker #1) by Paolo Bacigalupi, 352 pages, read by Andrea, on 11/23/2012

Ship Breaker tells the story of Nailer, a teenager living in a futuristic society where large, beached ships are stripped for their materials. Nailer works on the “light crew,” pulling copper out of the abandoned ships to meet the quotas of his boss. One day he finds a large clipper that has only one survivor–a beautiful, young, swank (rich) girl. Suddenly Nailer has to make the decision to break the ship down for all its worth and become instantly rich, or save the girls’ life.

I enjoyed this book as it is the first dystopian novel I’ve read that actually made me think the way Nailer lives could possibly be the US in the near future. A loose representation of the decline of culture, government, and social classes, this was a very interesting dystopian novel. I look forward to seeing what happens to Nailer in the next book.

26. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller/Suspense

Watcher in the Woods (Dreamhouse Kings #2) by Robert Liparulo , 292 pages, read by Andrea, on 11/17/2012

The first book left off with the kidnapping of Mrs. King. In Watcher in the Woods, the King Family commences their search for her, quickly realizing that they must learn more about the worlds behind the mysterious doors and have a well thought out plan before they just jump to the task. Unfortunately, they must also pretend everything is normal at home and go about their daily lives to avoid attracting unwanted attention. When a stranger appears and tries to force them to sell the house, their desperation to find Mrs. King is doubled. This second book was just as good as the first. Full of suspense and of course ending in a really exciting cliffhanger, I am looking forward to reading the third one.

26. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Science Fiction

Circus Galacticus by Deva Fagan , 304 pages, read by Angie, on 11/25/2012

Tris is an orphan in a boarding school. She feels like she doesn’t fit in and is just waiting for the day she can leave. Her parents were astronauts and she dreams of the stars. The only thing she has from her parents is a black rock, a meteorite and it seems a strange man in a gas mask wants it. One day the Circus Galacticus comes to town and Tris joins the group. She is running from her boring life and the strange man, Nyl. But the Circus isn’t just any circus…the Big Top is actually a space ship and all the players are from planets throughout the universe. They are all Tinker touched in some way with special abilities. Tris tries to fit in with this motley crew all the while wondering what makes her special. But even running away with the circus has not stopped her pursuer. Nyl is still on her trail and she is putting the whole Circus in danger.

Tris is a fun character. She doesn’t always use her head and think things through or ask enough questions but she is smart and brave and heroic. I really enjoyed the cast of characters from the Circus. They are all unique and interesting. I wish we would have gotten more information on the Tinker/Mandate conflict. But this is a really fast paced book and some of those details just seemed to fall away. I liked the conflict between the Ringmaster and Nyl and I would definitely like to know more about them. Not sure if Fagan has plans to write more about this world but it seems like there is a lot more to explore.

26. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

The Storm Makers by Jennifer E. Smith , 384 pages, read by Angie, on 11/24/2012

Ruby and Simon are twins living on a farm in Wisconsin. It is a hot dry summer with a drought scorching the land. one day Ruby sees a stranger coming out of the barn. Simon is having an electrifying effect on appliances as he shorts out the toaster and the car battery. It turns out that the stranger, Otis, is in town to tell Simon that he is a Storm Maker. he is part of a group that helps control the weather. Otis is not the only storm maker in town; Rupert London also wants to get a hold of Simon. It seems the storm makers are divided on how to handle the weather. Ruby and Simon must figure out what is going on and get control of Simon’s powers before it is too late.

Ruby and Simon are interesting characters, they are twins who have always done things together but are now growing apart. They are caught between two sides in a conflict they know nothing about. Because Simon is the youngest storm maker ever both sides want to use him. They have to figure out which side to trust and where to turn. I like the conflict in this book it kept the pace going throughout the story. I do think things could have been tightened up a bit though as this was a fairly long book. I liked the storm maker plot, but I found the rest pretty predictable. I don’t think this book is covering any new ground, but it was fun to read.

26. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, 224 pages, read by Angie, on 11/24/2012

Carley Conners has had a difficult life so far. She used to live with her mom in Las Vegas; they would shop for clothes from the Salvation Army dumpsters. Then her mom moved them to Connecticut and married Dennis who hated her. Now Carly finds herself in foster care after Dennis beat her and her mother and they both ended up in the hospital. She is placed with the Murphy family. Mrs. Murphy is kind and loving and wants the best for Carly, Mr. Murphy is distant, the three Murphy boys react to Carly’s presence in the house in different ways from resistance and resentment to loving acceptance. Carly has to find her way with a new family, a new school, and new friends.

Carly’s story is heart-breaking and heart-warming. I felt like she reacted like a normal kid in that situation would; she was distant, sarcastic, guarded and hopeful. She finds herself in a safe, stable loving home for the first time. She finds herself falling in love with the Murphys and feels conflicted about her mom. Carley’s journey in this book is a wonderful one as she finds her strength and learns to stand on her own. While I feel like Carley could definitely be a real kid in this situation I wonder about the other circumstances in the book. I can’t believe her mom got out of criminal charges and got custody of Carley back so easily. You would think there would have been counseling for both of them at some point. I also can’t believe how uninvolved the social worker is. I think she would take a more active role in Carley’s situation. But Carley’s story is wonderful and I would definitely recommend this book.

26. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Autobiographies, NonFiction

Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good by Kevin Smith, 272 pages, read by Angie, on 11/23/2012

I have always been a fan of Kevin Smith…Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Red State. I enjoy his humor and his commentary on life and the world around us. This book is perfectly Kevin Smith. It is full of profanity and profound wisdom. He gives us an inside look into the indie movie business (Mirimax specifically) and how he makes movies. If you don’t like to see sex or profanity in your books this is definitely not the one for you. Kevin Smith wrote this book like he talks on his SModcasts; in fact it reads just like a really long SModcast. Even though this book touches on all aspects of his career, Smith is really telling the world of movies good-bye with this book. He outlines the reasons why he is retiring from movie making: his idol/mentor Harvey Weinstein has gone to the dark side, he endured horrible “celebrity” movie stars for a movie, he made the movie he was passionate about (Red State), and he has embarked on a new enterprise (Smodcasting). I love the insider knowledge Kevin Smith gives us about moviemaking. It is interesting to know that Bruce Willis is a diva, Quentin Tarrantino is genuinely a great person and that the Weinsteins have changed and the big studios aren’t all bad. I really enjoyed his rationale for how he marketed Red State and his ode to his wife Jen. The Southwest Airlines section made me cringe…he was treated horribly and I can’t believe they embarrassed a young woman just to make their point. I think we are going to miss Kevin Smith at the movies, but I am going to enjoy seeing what he comes up with in the future.

26. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition by Karen Blumenthal, 154 pages, read by Angie, on 11/23/2012

Bootleg is a brilliant look at the prohibition era. It details life before prohibition and how it came about, life during prohibition and how it was repealed. There is a lot of good information here about the people of the time and what they wanted. I was fascinated to learn that many people thought of Prohibition as a social experiment, an experiment that ultimately failed. The “Drys” wanted to sober up the population and get rid of crime, they wanted to get kids back in school and make homes safer. The prohibition amendment was partially successful. The consumption of alcohol did decrease and more kids did go to school. But crime rates rose and Prohibition saw the influence of the gangster grow to unbelievable heights. Al Capone, Bugs Moran and others came to power during this era as they supplied the alcohol to a thirsty population. Blumenthal did a great job imparting the feelings of the people at that time. I love how she focused on the women who brought about Prohibition. She also provided a lot of additional sources at the end of the book. This is definitely a good first look at the Prohibition era and it makes you want to read more about these people and the time the lived.

26. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Paranormal

Tricked by Kevin Hearne, 352 pages, read by Angie, on 11/22/2012

TrickedAtticus and Granuaile are on the run after the events in the last book (killing Thor and some other Norse gods). They faked their deaths and got the heck out of Tempe. They end up with Coyote on a reservation. Atticus made a deal with Coyote so they are going to hide out on the reservation for a while. Of course Coyote has ulterior motives for Atticus’s visit. There are vampires and skin-walkers and gods to take care of.

I am really enjoying this series. It is fun and witty and there is a talking dog. Once again Oberon stole the show in this book. I really can’t get enough of that dog. I loved the whole Schwarzenegger Pun Treaty and the penalty of 20 sausages. I enjoyed how that plot ran throughout the whole book in subtle ways as Oberon kept trying to get out of his sausage deficit. I think this is the first book that Granuaile is finally becoming a main character. She has been in the sidelines for a while now but I think she really came into her own here. I enjoy their flirtations and the master/student relationship that has developed. We are getting more and more insight into Atticus’s past and his behavior which I enjoy. I like how Hearne keeps giving us little bits to keep us interested. I can’t wait for the next book.

26. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Paranormal

Hammered by Kevin Hearne , 310 pages, read by Angie, on 11/21/2012

Atticus and company are going after Thor, the Norse god of thunder. He gave his word to Lief that he would help him kill Thor and he is going to keep it. Atticus is a man of honor and will not turn his back on Lief even when he is warned by none other than Jesus (over beer and fish and chips) himself that this is a bad idea. Of course nothing goes exactly as planned. We learn a lot about why everyone hates Thor (he is a big douche bag and deserves to be killed). I really enjoyed the glimpse into Atticus’s past as we heard everyone’s stories. I wish there was more Oberon in this book because he really is the heart of this series, but we get a giant squirrel who is almost as good! This series is a fun, fast-paced adventure and very enjoyable to read.

22. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Science, Tracy

City of Ravens by Boria Sax, 206 pages, read by Tracy, on 11/22/2012

Every country has it’s historical myths and legends. England has the Tower of London which is know as the Bloody Tower. It’s said that if the ravens leave the Tower Britain will fall. The author of this book did a lot of research about the birds and their relationship with British history. Since they have to clip the ravens wings to keep them from flying away there is no evidence that proves they won’t leave willingly. So for the tourists sake they keep several in cages at night and let them roam the Tower grounds during the day. Since humans are so willing to believe animals and birds are approachable they also have named the Ravens and let the tourists feed them.  Ravens are black so some superstitions say they are evil while others think of them as scavengers helping to keep the streets clean. Most say they are a nuisance but with tourists flocking London every year I doubt they will get rid of them.