21. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, 400 pages, read by Nikki, on 11/14/2012

For years Grace has had an obsession with the wolves that live in the woods behind her house. Especially a wolf with yellow eyes. One night after the wolves were being hunted for an attack and death of a local teenager, Grace found a boy lying on her back porch naked, wounded from a gunshot with the same yellow eyes.

Let me first start out by saying that I love how you have multiple narrators. I like to see everybody’s point of view and thoughts on whats happening. And for the most part I like the story. What I am confused about is Grace’s personality. She is suppose to be introvert and shy, but once she meets Sam (the boy with the yellow eyes), she’s anything but. Although I do like the book, I wasn’t all that eager to read it, which was actually quite nice. At least this way, I was able to read the book without neglecting my children.

21. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Paranormal, Teen Books

The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer, 288 pages, read by Angie, on 11/20/2012

This book starts with Mia, possessed by a demon, destroying her house and beating up her family. She is rescued by relatives from Italy who remove the demon and then convince Mia and her family that she needs to go back to Milan with them. In Milan, Mia learns about her family legacy (the fight demons)and about the family’s place in Milanese history. Mia learns the language and the culture and how to fight demons. We are introduced to her wonderful extended family, all of whom are involved in the family business in one way or another. Mia also learns that her demon has been terrorizing the family for a long time and will come for her again. She must be strong enough to fight the demon or she will not survive.

This is definitely the first in a series because nothing is really resolved at the end of this book. I have a feeling this series is one I am going to wish I could read all at once instead of waiting between books. However, I did enjoy Mia’s story. I loved the look into Milanese life. And this book definitely made me hungry…the food described throughout sounded wonderful. More than anything this book made me want to go to Italy, to explore the cities and the culture and the food. I can’t wait for the next book.

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

Hexed by Kevin Hearne , 320 pages, read by Angie, on 11/19/2012

Book 2 of the Iron Druid Chronicles finds Atticus fighting demons and evil witches (again). He has to unite with the Zoyra witches to ensure victory. He also teams up with Coyote to fight a fallen angel and Laksha is back to help with the Baccants. There is a lot of action in this book, but it moves the story along nicely. We learn more about Atticus’s history and the history of the coven; and we find out exactly how powerful Melina and her group are. I like the fact that these books are a fun, clean read. The sex is all off-screen; there isn’t really a lot of language; there is violence but it isn’t truly gory like some books. I think these books are definitely fun to read and I would recommend them to adults and teens.

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

Ice!: The Amazing History of the Ice Business by Laurence Pringle, 80 pages, read by Angie, on 11/20/2012

Ice tells the story of how the ice business began and how it ended. It was a fairly short-lived business only lasting a little over 100 years. Ice began as a luxury item for those wanting cold drinks and treats during hot months. It also helped with the preservation of food. Two men were essential in making the ice business a mainstay of American life: Frederic Tudor and Nathaniel Wyeth. Tudor had the ideas and Wyeth had the mechanical inventions that made chopping ice easier and a big business. This book focuses on the ice business in New York mainly; it does mention other areas but only in passing. The most sought after ice came from Rockland Lack and the Knickerbocker Ice Company was formed to bring it to the people. Weather and the invention of the electric refrigerator put the ice business out of business.

This book was really informative and interesting. I can’t imagine not having ice, but it wasn’t that long ago that it was a complete luxury and one you might not be able to get year round. This book is filled with old photographs, advertisements and pictures of tools; it is very visually appealing.

20. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Tammy · Tags: , , ,

Preschool Gems: Love, Death, Magic, and Other Surprising Treasures from the Mouths of Babes by Leslie McCollom, 111 pages, read by Tammy, on 11/09/2012

A collection of funny, thoughtful and sometimes surprisingly grown-up comments from preschoolers collected and organized by a preschool teacher on all sorts of topics. Quick, fun read.

20. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Poetry, Tammy

Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey , 51 pages, read by Tammy, on 11/10/2012

A beautiful collection of poems that paints word pictures so clearly that you can see the battlefield with the civil war soldiers and you can feel the fear and anger of the poet’s family dealing with prejudice in the south. This collection is not only a Pulitzer Prize winner but also by the current U.S. Poet Laurette.

20. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags: ,

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake, 332 pages, read by Tammy, on 11/10/2012

The sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood with all the heart-thumping suspense and clever quips you would expect from main character Cas and his friends. The ghost girl, Anna saved ghost-hunter Cas and his friends in the first book by dragging the voodoo monster, Obeahman, down into Hell. But now she’s reappearing in Cas’ dreams and in his room and her voice is coming from other ghosts. Cas realizes she is being tortured and he’s determined to rescue her despite all advice to the contrary. This sequel takes Cas and his friends to Britain and explains the creation of the athame and Cas’ connection to it.

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

Rocky Road by Rose Kent, 304 pages, read by Angie, on 11/18/2012

Tess Dobson has been uprooted from her life in San Antonio and moved across the country to snowy Schenectady. Her mom has a wild idea about opening an ice cream shop there. So she packed up the car and moved Tess and her brother Jordan, who is deaf, to New York. Tess finds herself living in an assisted living facility surrounded by old people. She is worried that her mom’s scheme will not pan out and they will be broke and homeless. Her mom suffers from “Shooting Stars” (bipolar disorder) but refuses to go to the doctor or be medicated. Tess is more of an adult in this family than her mom. She takes care of her mom and her brother. And her mom can’t even really communicate with Jordan; she doesn’t know sign language very well and relies on Tess to relay information.

Tess is such a strong, creative young woman. She has the weight of the world, or at least the weight of her family, on her shoulders. Her mom is pretty useless and sick. Tess and her mom work their tails off on “A Cherry on Top” even though Tess isn’t sure about the venture. Tess is a character you can really admire. She is only a young girl yet she is parenting her mom and her brother. I really enjoyed how Kent integrated Jordan’s story into the book. In San Antonio, he never got the support or help he needed to cope with the world. In Schenectady he attends a school with a deaf program and is surrounded by people who truly want to communicate with him. You can really track his progress through the book as he becomes more comfortable and less likely to turn into FrankenJordan. Tess’s mom’s story is less heartwarming. Sure she finally gets the help she needs at the end of the book, but I don’t find her story quite as believable. She has resisted medical help for her entire life, but one event from Tess and she is suddenly gung ho to fix herself. I think it is great, but I find it a little hard to believe her transformation.

I haven’t even mentioned all the wonderful supporting characters in this book. They really add a depth to the story and bring a lightness that is a nice contract to the Dobson family drama. Tess’s new friends Gabby and Pete are wonderful and different and supportive. The people who live in Mohawk Valley Village are a great cast of quirky characters. Winnie, a retired nurse who now sings in a band, and Chief, an old Navy Man who takes charge and helps wherever he can, become like family to Tess and Jordan. This is a good read, but some of the drama may get you down a bit.

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

Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale, 323 pages, read by Angie, on 11/17/2012

Palace of Stone is the sequel to Princess Academy and it was worth the wait. it has been a year since the events in Princess Academy and the girls are on their way to Asland for Britta’s wedding to Stefan. Asland is not the magical city Miri imagined. Things are not perfect in the capital. The royal family is stiff and distant and taxing the people into poverty. The people are getting poorer and starving and things are ripe for revolution. Miri becomes involved with the revolutionaries and is torn between what she believes is right and her friends.

It is great to see the old familiar characters back again. Miri is really the star of this book and I love her journey. She comes to the city innocent but ends up the heart of the revolution. She learns a lot about herself and others and helps others do the right thing. This is a much more political book than the first one. It is all about revolution and the rights of people and the tyranny of the nobility. Miri and Britta’s have significant roles in this book but the other girls are barely present. If you didn’t know them from the previous book you would barely be able to keep track of who is who. They are really background characters wi nothing significant to say and no growth. This book also has the inevitable love triangle. It is not as obnoxious as in some books and really does seem to move the story along. Timon introduces Miri to the revolution and is very forward in his feelings for her. This is in contrast to Peder who is more quiet and steady. Miri is exposed to a new social and political climate and it changes who she is. But it also helps her realize exactly what she believes in and what is most important to her. Her journey is an interesting one and made for a good read

19. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Historical Fiction, Janet

A Good American by Alex George, 613 pages, read by Janet, on 11/19/2012

  Having a German heritage, I really enjoyed this story about a young couple who escaped from their family and home in Germany before the war by coming to America in 1904.  Frederick and Jette arrived in New Orleans with just the bags they could carry, a possible job to look for, a small amount of English language, and a baby on the way. They took a steamboat up the Mississippi River to St. Louis.  Due to the arrival of their baby, they didn’t make it all the way to the possible job, but found themselves in a small German town on the Missouri River named Beatrice, after the stubborn wife of the founder.  The local bar needed help, so Frederick got a job there, which led to him eventually buying it.  The building stayed in the family through three generations and several changes.  At the last, ut becane a Mexican restaurant, still owned by a member of the original family.  This is a good story of a family of true Americans – from another country, but dedicated to America.

19. November 2012 · 1 comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Poetry

May B. by Caroline Starr Rose , 240 pages, read by Angie, on 11/17/2012

May lives on the Kansas prairie with her family. In order to earn some extra money her family sends her to live with a neighbor for a few months. The Oblingers are newlyweds and the misses does not like life on the prairie. May keeps house for them and does chores. Everything is fine until the day Mrs. Oblinger runs off and Mr. Oblinger follows her. May is left alone in their sod house with little food or fuel and winter approaching. She has to rely on herself to survive.

This is a novel told in verse and that format works really well for May’s story. The sparse poems really help to invoke May’s sense of isolation and loneliness. The novel not only deals with her isolation on the prairie, but also her reading problems. May is very smart, but has dyslexia and has lots of problems reading. One of her teachers was very supportive, but her other does nothing but humiliate her. May wants to be a teacher but how can she if she can’t read.

May is a strong determined young lady who is in an impossible situation. Her story told in verse is engrossing and charming. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of verse and historical fiction.

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

It's Raining Cupcakes by Lisa Schroeder, 208 pages, read by Angie, on 11/17/2012

Isabel dreams of traveling the world but she has never left Oregon. She is envious of her friend who gets to go to summer camp and family vacations. Her mom has decided she wants to open a cupcake shop and she has moved the family to an apartment over the store. Isabel is not sure about the cupcake store but she wants to support her mom. Her mom is very enthusiastic about the store but she also suffers from depression and doubts. In addition to the cupcake store drama Isabel is determined to win a baking contest; the prize of $1000 and a trip to New York.

This is a great book for kids. Isabel is a strong determined young girl who has a lot going on in her life. I really enjoyed how she handles her family problems. She is very supportive of her mom even she has doubts. I like how she seems to roll with the punches but still has normal preteen reactions to things. Definitely a great fun read.

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

Murder in the Rue Dumas by M. L. Longworth, 296 pages, read by Tracy, on 11/19/2012

The director of theology at the Universitie d’Aix has been murdered. There could be several reasons why. First, he was about to retire and not only the job is available but his rent free apartment. Also he has a large collection of expensive glass vases. And he was about to name the recipient of an elite fellowship that several students were hoping for. In this second book in a series of Judge Antoine Verlaque mysteries the crime is the main subject but also the food and wine of the Provence area of France. Verlaque also has the help of his girlfriend Marine Bonnet a professor at the Universitie. Bon Apetit!

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

A Christmas Garland by Anne Perry, 194 pages, read by Tracy, on 11/15/2012

Anne Perry is another author who writes a special Christmas story every year. This story is based in India in 1857. Future Barrister Victor Narraway is serving in the military and is asked to defend a fellow soldier who is accused of murder even though he swears he never did it. It seems a hopeless case with no witness or evidence that says John Tallis did it or didn’t do it. He just happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s Christmas and all the service men are thinking of England and home. Victor befriends the family of one of the victims in the crime and helps them decorate their home hoping to keep the Christmas spirit alive.

15. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact by A.J. Hartley, 448 pages, read by Andrea, on 11/13/2012

After the death of his parents, Darwen Arkwright moves from his home in England to live with his aunt in Atlanta. From the prestigious school he attends to the bullies he must deal with, everything is different than the life he once had. On a shopping trip to the local mall, Darwen meets Mr. Peregrine, owner of Mr. Octavius Peregrine’s Reflectory Emporium: Mirrors Priceless and Perilous. He gives Darwen an old mirror that turns out to be a magical portal into Silbrica, a world that turns out to be full of magical creatures, beautiful scenery and several portals that connect special mirrors on Earth to Silbrica. But, like Earth, life in Silbrica isn’t perfect and Darwen, along with his new friends Alexandra and Rich, finds himself caught up in a dangerous adventure to save both his world and Silbrica.

This fast paced adventure was certainly a page turner, suitable for children and adults alike. It kept me interested to the last page. Although this was A.J. Hartley’s first book for younger readers, I hope it isn’t the last one.

15. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Romance

Austin and Emily by Frank Turner Hollon , 310 pages, read by Andrea, on 11/08/2012

Austin and Emily is a very strange love story within a twisted Wizard of Oz tale. Emily (Dorothy) is a 23 year old stripper stuck in a rut. She does her job, but she feels like she is missing something (and it’s not her clothes). Austin, a 347 pound man with a very dry sense of humor and a special love for canned ham (his job as a canned ham salesman provides him with an endless supply) stops in the gentleman’s club Emily works at and notices her beauty. From there it is love at first sight. Emily leaves her life as a stripper behind and decides to travel with Austin to California (their Oz). Emily has a friendly demeanor with a sunshine outlook on life, while Austin is very cowardly and withdrawn (cowardly lion). Hopping into Austin’s car they begin what becomes a very strange and somewhat disturbing journey to the west coast. They pick up a few friends along the way, who oddly resemble characters from Oz as well. At some point I almost stopped reading this strange novel, but was glad I finished it. It is certainly charming in its own weird way, leaving readers with the age old message that love almost never turns out to be what one expects.

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

Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, 409 pages, read by Tammy, on 11/13/2012

Scorpio RacesAn atmospheric blend of Celtic folklore, adventure, a coming of age story. Each fall water horses rise out of the Scorpio sea on to the island and are captured by the men of the island who attempt to train and tame them to ride. On November 1st a race is held along the beach. Some riders make a name for themselves for winning, for their bravery or by dying in the race.

Sean Kendrick is the 19 year old returning champion having won the race 4 times. He works as horse trainer for the wealthiest man on the island but all Sean really wants is a place of his own and Cor, the water horse, who he has trained for several years but belongs to his boss. Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. Her parents never allowed her to even watch the races. But the future for both Puck and Sean depend on winning the race.

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

Saving Armpit by Natalie Hyde , 160 pages, read by Angie, on 11/13/2012

Saving ArmpitHarmony Point is a losing town. None of their sports teams win, they are being swallowed up by a megacity, and even their town sign has been vandalized (it now reads Arm Pit). The Terriers are the town little league team and they haven’t won a game in years; they also don’t hit or really score at all. But this year they have a new coach, Mr. Blackmore the postmaster. He actually knows something about baseball and the team actually starts doing better. Then they find out that the post office may be closed and mail sent to the city. They decide to embark on a scheme to flood the post office with letters so it can’t be closed down. Their campaign works as the town is inundated with free magazines, recipes and information. They are even able to get some things done for the town. They get the roads paved, sponsorship and uniforms for the team, an area protected for a rare bird, a new playground and even a new town sign. And they have actually won a couple of games too.

This is a fun quick read. The kids are all well done and typical kids. I loved how their efforts to keep their coach actually benefit the whole town. It is really remarkable to see kids taking such an interest and to realize what can be accomplished when you just speak up. There is a lot of baseball in the book but it is not heavy handed or too technical so even non-sports fans can still enjoy this one.

12. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction

North: The Amazing Story of Arctic Migration by Nick Dowson, Patrick Benson , 56 pages, read by Angie, on 11/12/2012

When you think of migration you think of birds flying south for the winter. I never really thought about the northern migrations for the summer months until I read this book. This is a beautifully illustrated sparse look at migration to and from the Arctic. It starts with those animals like polar bears who spend all year long in the Arctic. They travel over the frozen tundra during the winter months. But once spring begins and plants start to break through the ice they are joined by more and more animals from birds to whales to caribou to wolves. In all 180 species migrate to the Arctic each year. There isn’t a whole lot of text on these beautiful pages, but there is enough to tell the story. I really appreciated the end matter at the back that gives a little more information on the animals and northern migration.

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

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, 278 pages, read by Tracy, on 11/11/2012

This is the third book in The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series. I read the first, The Shadow of the Wind, and was instantly hooked. The second book, The Angels Game, didn’t keep my interest and I didn’t finish it.  I did finish this one and really enjoyed it. Daniel Sempere works at the book store his father owns in Barcelona in 1957. He is married and has a son. One day a man visits the shop and buys an expensive book. He asks Daniel to deliver it personally. It’s for a  friend and co worker Fermin. Fermin is getting married soon but he has a story to tell Daniel about his years in prison.   Some of it involves Daniel’s mother who died when he was young. A lot of men were imprisoned wrongly after the war. This isn’t the end of the story so I have another book to look forward to.