22. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Dystopia, Fiction, Graphic Novel · Tags:

The Walking Dead, Compendium 2 (The Walking Dead #49-96) by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, read by Angie, on 01/19/2013

walking dead 2Rick and Carl have escaped from the prison massacre and made their way back to the farm with Michonne. There they find Andrea and Dale and Maggie and Glen and the kids. Soon they join another group who are heading to Washington to find the remnants of the government. Along the way the pick up Morgan, who we haven’t seen since the first issue, and Father Gabriel. They also encounter zombies and cannibals. They end up at the Community, a place that is trying to rebuild society; a place a little like Woodbury without the violent dictator. The Rick Grimes gang has to find a way to fit into this new society. Can they leave the violence of the open road behind? Can they become normal again?

This series grabs you and really doesn’t ever let go. I find myself so invested in these characters that I don’t want to stop reading. This series is about more than zombies; it is about what it means to be human and retaining your humanity when you are forced to do terrible things. I especially enjoyed that this edition explored the relationships of our survivors. Carl and Rick are dealing with the death of Lori and how Carl is growing up in this world. Maggie and Glen’s relationship has its ups and downs as the apocalypse and its consequence drags them down. There is a lot of heartbreak in this book but there is also hope. Hope that they can survive and rebuild. I really like that this book ended on an upbeat note, but I am sure our band of survivors will be kicked down again before long.

My one complaint about this series is the drawings. I love the text and think it really conveys the story well. It is sparse and haunting and real. However, I don’t think this is the best drawn book. I found myself confused as to which character was in the frame as several of them look very similar. When Jesus appeared I was thoroughly confused thinking we had already met him, but then I realized he looks a lot like the Governor. I don’t know if it is the lack of color or just a lack of skill, but I wish the illustrations were better. Of course there are panels that will blow you away and suck you into the story; it is really just the characters that I have a problem with.

22. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Teen Books

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber, read by Angie, on 01/19/2013

Au Revoir, Crazy European ChickPerry is your typical over-achieving high school kid who is pressured to succeed by his over-bearing father. His family takes in a Lithuanian exchange student named Gobi. Gobi is strange and quiet and doesn’t really fit in. Strangely, Gobi wants to go to the prom and Perry gets pressured into taking her. He figures it will be a quick night and he can get out of it early and meet his band in NY to play a concert. Little does he know how his night is going to end up. Gobi forces him on a madcap adventure through NY. Turns out Gobi is not the strange, plain high school student he thought she was. She is much older, more sophisticated and hotter than she has let on. And she has spent the last nine months undercover at Perry’s house as she plans a streak of assassinations on prom night. Perry is forced to go along with her criminal spree. Along the way we learn more about Perry and Gobi and what motivates them.

This is a quick, mad-cap read. I really couldn’t put it down. The story is so crazy and fast-paced that at times you can’t believe what is happening. I think my favorite part of the book was the chapter titles. They are all essay questions from college applications and fit with the story perfectly. I hope they are actual questions because that would make your college application much more interesting. I like Perry’s journey in this book. At the beginning he is basically under the thumb of his father doing anything asked. By the end of this adventure he has grown a backbone and is able to stand up for himself and what he wants out of life.

22. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Dystopia, Fiction, Teen Books

Shift by Charlotte Agell , read by Angie, on 01/18/2013

shiftBoston has been nuked; the north is a radiation wasteland; the government is a religious cult called HomeState. This is the world of Shift and Adrian Havoc. In the not to distant future the world has fallen apart and been put back together by religion. The government preaches daily through “Raptures” and is predicting “Shift” or the end of the world. Adrian lives with his mother, who is a scientist for the government, and his little sister Shriek, aka Melody, who is somewhat psychic. His father has not been seen in a long time; the last they knew he was on the moon. His mother has to go on a secret mission and disappears. Shriek is obsessed with the zoo and the last penguin. Soon Adrian finds himself of a mission, a mission to rescue the penguin and take it north. Adrian, Shriek, the penguin and a young zookeeper kidnap the penguin and head into the Deadlands. They travel through the radiation wasteland before reaching Maine. There they have to confront the end of the world and their own secret mission.

There is a lot going on in this little book. I enjoy these types of post-apocalyptic dystopians. The more plausible the story the more intriguing it is. While I am not sure a religious group would nuke a city just to come into power, I did find this society eerie and pretty realistic. It has aspects of Nazi Germany with its persecution of other religious groups. The characters are all well developed; you really understand who Adrian and Shriek and Lenora are and what they want to accomplish. Where I think this book falls apart a little is the ending and the secret mission into the mountain. I found this part a little ridiculous, but it did make for an exciting end to the book.

22. January 2013 · 1 comment · Categories: Claudia, Fiction, NonFiction

Christmas memory : One Christmas ; The Thanksgiving visitor by Truman Capote, read by Claudia, on 11/19/2012

I was fortunate enough years ago to help someone on the Reference Desk who was searching our shelves for these stories.  The patron explained to me she read them every year around the holidays.  I thought how special these stories must be for someone to make a point of reading them every year.  I decided to read them myself three years ago, and I can honestly say reading Capote’s stories is one of the best gifts I’ve given myself.  I don’t remember the patron who recommended them, but if I could, I would love to thank her for sharing her holiday tradition with me….which has now become one of mine.

Novelist and playwright Truman Streckfus Person was born in 1924 in New Orleans to a salesman and a 16-year-old beauty queen. His parents divorced when he was four years old and was then raised by relatives for a few years in Monroeville, Alabama.  His mother was remarried to a successful businessman, moved to New York, and Truman adopted his stepfather’s surname.   Capote said that some of his happiest memories are of his childhood in Alabama and with his beloved Aunt Sook. This single volume gathers Truman Capote’s three most beloved holiday stories. These short memoirs and tributes carry the strong, delicious scent of holiday nostalgia.  When reading these short stories,  I felt as if I were literally  transported back in time when life was simpler and where people like my own grandparents lived their lives.  Truman is 7 years old in The Christmas Memory and shares an elaborate tale of his and his aunt and their holiday fruit cake making adventures.  One cannot help but laugh out loud when they contact the local moonshiner about buying whiskey for their cakes (instead of taking their handfuls of saved pennies he asks for “one of them cakes”) instead.  Another funny moment  is when Truman and Sook are making their recipient list and include President and Mrs. Roosevelt.  They muse about the possibility of their fruitcake being served at the White House Christmas dinner.  Thanksgiving Visitor is another delightful tale of the local bully being invited to Truman’s home for Thanksgiving and the drama that ensues. One Christmas is a more sobering tale of young Truman being forced to spend Christmas away from his beloved Sook and his Alabama clan and instead travel to New York to visit the Father he does not know.  It’s a heartbreaking story with moments of humor infused throughout.  These stories are among my very favorites, and I hope if you give them a chance they become part of your Christmas tradition as well.

20. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Classics, Eric, Fiction

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, read by Eric, on 01/19/2013

tarzan of the apesUndoubtedly, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ most famous literary creation is Tarzan, John Clayton, Earl Greystoke. As a teenager, I became obsessed with the many adventures of this hero. I collected an entire paperback set, and even reproduced the cover art from one as a pencil project when I was taking art lessons.

This is my first revisiting of the original tale in nearly two decades, and although it’s still a wonderfully pulpy read, my ability to overlook its faults has waned. Racially and sexually, Tarzan’s adventure has its share of swooning women and “noble savages.” Luckily, it also has adventure on a grand scale, and a wonderful sense of humor as balance. This classic is far removed from the various filmed versions attempted over the decades, and worth a look as the origin of an iconic figure.

17. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction

Lulu Walks the Dog by Judith Viorst, Lane Smith (Illustrator), read by Angie, on 01/17/2013

Lulu is back! After her adventures in Lulu and the Brontosaurus with Mr. B., she has vowed not to be as big of a pain but only a sometimes pain. In this adventure Lulu wants a super special thing. Her parents tell her no over and over no matter what strategies Lulu uses to convince them. The finally tell her she will have to pay for it herself. So what is Lulu going to do? Walk dogs of course. Does Lulu know anything about dogs? Not a thing but how hard can it be? Lulu gets three dog walking jobs: first there is Brutus, an enormous, bigheaded, bad-breathed brute. Next is Pookie (rhymes with duke not book!) a teeny-tiny white puffball who has to be held. Finally there is Cordelia, a dachshund who loves to hide. Lulu is in trouble from the very first day but luckily she has Fleischman to help her. Fleischman is the most perfect kid in the world and Lulu can’t stand him, but she also can’t work without him so he becomes her assistant. Together they make a great team, but Lulu is still a pain so of course there are problems.

I absolutely love Lulu. These books are hilarious; mainly because the author interjects throughout the story. I love the timeouts and the “I really don’t feel like discussing that right now” interjections. Lane Smith’s illustrations perfectly complement Judith Viorst’s text. I think this is a wonderful collaboration and I can’t wait to see what these two come up with next. This is a very short book and can be read pretty quickly so I urge everyone to fall in love with Lulu!

17. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction · Tags:

The Familiars (The Familiars #1) by Adam Jay Epstein, read by Angie, on 01/16/2013

The Familiars is the tale of three magical familiars and their adventure to save their loyals (their humans). Aldwyn is a scrappy alley cat from the city who hides in a familiars store and becomes the familiar for Jack. He has to hide the fact that he is not magical like the other familiars: know-it-all blue jay Skylar and friendly tree frog Gilbert. When their loyals are kidnapped they decide it is up to the three animals to rescue them. What follows is a wild adventure through Vestia.

This is a wonderful fantasy book for middle grades. I enjoyed the journey aspect of the book as the familiars travel throughout the land encountering one narrow escape after another. Along the way they learn more about themselves and their abilities. This book is similar to other fantasy novels. You have the quest aspect, the trials and tribulations along the journey, and the discovery of abilities you didn’t know you had. It works really well with animals as the main characters. This is a great series for kids who like fantasy and animals. 2012-13 Mark Twain nominee.

16. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Precious Bones by Mika Ashley-Hollinger, read by Angie, on 01/15/2013

Precious BonesBones and her family live in the Florida swamps in 1948. She and her best friend Little Man are creatures of the swamp; they know the land and the animals and people for miles around. She likes to catch mullet with Little Man and sit on the porch of the Last Chance store with Mr. Speed. The small community is shook up when two murders take place in a matter of days. Nolay, Bones’s daddy, is the prime suspect for the murders and Bones starts doubting her daddy. But the sheriff is investigating and they have hope that Nolay’s name will be cleared. Precious Bones is filled with an interesting cast of characters (with even more interesting names). There are also big issues discussed here: child abuse, racism, mental health. Ashley-Hollinger isn’t subtle in her opinions of these things but the message is still good. Bones is a fabulous character full of whit and charm and know-how about the swamps she calls home.

16. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Memoirs, NonFiction · Tags:

Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler, read by Angie, on 01/15/2013

Chelsea Chelsea Bang BangThis book is very typical Chelsea Handler. I really enjoy her humor and her personality. I can’t imagine the craziness that always encircles her. She is wild, crazy and hilarious and this book is a reflection of that. Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang is a collection of interludes in the life of Chelsea Handler. There are stories about her childhood, her relationships, her friendships, and her family. She pulls no punches about herself or those around her. If you like Chelsea Lately you will probably enjoy this book; I did.

14. January 2013 · 2 comments · Categories: Angie, NonFiction, Paranormal · Tags:

A Haunted Love Story: The Ghosts of the Allen House by Mark Spencer, read by Angie, on 01/13/2013

A Haunted Love StoryMark Spencer and his family live in the Allen House in Monticello, Arkansas. The Allen House is one of the most haunted houses in the United States. When the Spencers moved to Monticello they were fascinated by the Allen House, not because of the stories, but because of the house itself. It took years but they finally convinced the owner to sell it to them. Once they moved in they discovered that the ghost stories were real. The Allen House was inhabited by at least four Allen family members and several others who they are unable to identify. The Spencers allowed paranormal investigators into the house and were able to verify the existence of the ghosts. However, Mark Spencer also discovered a cache of letters belonging to Ladell Allen Bonner who killed herself in the master bedroom. These letters revealed the reasons behind her suicide.

I really enjoyed this book. Spencer does a great job in describing what happened to them in the house and what the paranormal investigators discovered. However, the real jewel is the cache of letters from Ladell. These were a true treasure and allowed Spencer to tell the tragic story of Ladell. It is a story of love and heartbreak and depression and suicide. I am glad the story didn’t rely on the few words the ghost hunters heard but on real background information about the family. Spencer did a fabulous job researching the Allen’s and the history of Allen House.

09. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Claudia, Fiction

Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey, read by Claudia, on 11/12/2012

I discovered this book in an online interview with Gillian Flynn….the interviewer asked her to list the best books she had read so far in 2012.  This title topped her list, and did not disappoint!  Flynn is an amazing writer in her own right and Marcus Sakey looks like an author to watch as well.

A man wakes up naked and cold, half-drowned on an abandoned beach in Maine of all places…
The only sign of life for miles is an empty BMW. Inside the expensive car he finds clothes that fit perfectly, shoes for his tattered feet, a Rolex, and an auto registration in the name of Daniel Hayes, resident of Malibu, California.
None of it is the least bit familiar. How did he get here? Who is he? While he searches for answers, he is being chased to down too, but has no idea beginning with the cops who kick in the door of his run-down motel with drawn guns. All he remembers is a woman’s face and that face is the star of a very popular television show…  he leaves Maine for California in search of this strangely familiar face in hopes of uncovering his true identity. But that raises the most chilling question of all…
What will he find when he gets there?

 

09. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Graphic Novel, Janet

The Story Teller by Jim Henson, read by Janet, on 09/21/2012

This is a very interesting collection of stories that could be shared with children (if they are not easily scared).  Actually, the stories are not as scarey as the pictures.  Animals are involved in many stories and often a good lesson is taught or wise advice given.  “A Storyteller is not only a teller of stories, but a collctor of them as well.”

08. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction, Science, Self Help

The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us by Chabris, Christopher F., read by Kira, on 01/08/2013

invis gorilaYou probably think you would notice if a Gorilla came onto a basketball court, and beat its chest-center stage right? Actually chances are pretty good that if you were counting bounce passes versus aerial passes, you would miss the gorilla – yep 50% of people don’t notice the gorilla.  We think we know how our minds work, but this proves to be an illusion.  Know exactly where you were at, and who you talked to on 9/11?  We feel pretty certain about our memories for these things, but again, the more certain we are about our memories, the less likely they are to be accurate. Read this book to figure out where your blind spots are!

08. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Historical Fiction, Teen Books

Ladies in Waiting by Laura L. Sullivan, read by Courtney, on 01/03/2013

This is the story of three women living and working in the court of King Charles II. All three are maids of honor to Queen Catherine and all three are named Elizabeth. That’s about where their similarities end. Zabby grew up with her father in and around Barbados. She’s finally coming back to London with the intention of living with her aunt and continuing her scientific studies. She finds herself in service instead. Eliza’s father is wealthier than most nobles, but lacks a title. Eliza has managed to convince her father that she’s been putting off marriage out of naive prudishness. In reality, she is determined to become a playwright, but views her appointment to the Queen’s side as a convenient way to stave off a miserable marriage. Beth is the only one of the three Elizabeths to have grown up in court. She is the daughter of a noble lady, albeit an aged, syphilitic widow who is far more concerned with keeping Beth a virgin until a profitable marriage can be made than seeing Beth happy. The three quickly became fast friends and trusted maids to the queen. When their hearts begin to yearn for what they cannot have, things become both complicated and dangerous.
The writing is impeccable and the characters mulch-dimensional. I was happy to see that the focus of this novel was not the queen, but those who worked with her. The queen is only a minor player, albeit a sympathetic one. The other three women are very, very distinct. The world building is gorgeous and the plot completely absorbing.

08. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books

My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt, read by Courtney, on 12/31/2012

Oh. Wow.
Angel was a normal girl who lived in a “pretty house, with pretty parents”. But she liked to steal shoes. Not pairs, just the single ones from displays. She’d been busted a few times, but the last was by Call. Call took Angel under his wing and introduced her to “candy”. He asks her is she loves him. Because if she really loved him, she’d help him earn money. So she does. She works the streets now. Then Serena went missing. Angel knows she’s dead because her “going-away money” is still where Serena left it. Angel wants out and begins to quit the candy. Then Call brings Melli home. Melli is eleven. Just a little girl. Angel is determined to keep Melli from the fate that has befallen her. Angel has to earn “enough for two” or train Melli to earn. Angel just wants to get Melli back home, but Call tells her that he’ll hurt Angel’s little brother, Jeremy, if she does anything other than what she is told. Bit by bit, Angel kicks the candy and attempts to save both herself and Melli.
A brutal story told in some of the most beautiful language I’ve seen in a long time. The poetry format adds to the hallucinogenic quality of Angel’s narrative and makes it all the more human. Angel is a character that will haunt you. She may be fictional, but her story is not. This is a deeply affecting novel. Recommended for fans of Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott, Ellen Hopkins, and Sold by Patricia McCormick.

08. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Teen Books · Tags:

The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress, read by Courtney, on 12/29/2012

Meet Cora: an inventor’s apprentice. Highly skilled and an exceptional problem-solver. Loves explosions and gadgets.
Meet Nellie: a magician’s assistant. Capable of hiding anywhere, even in plain sight (especially in plain sight). Talented with sleight-of-hand and an excellent performer.
Meet Michiko: the assistant to a self-defense teacher (who, in spite of his bluster, is not nearly as brilliant as he suspects). One of the few girls accepted into training as a samurai. A genius with weaponry. Doesn’t quite understand these crazy Brits, but these other two girls seem worth knowing.
When a series of mysterious deaths unfolds in London, three women find themselves drawn together. In a man’s world, they have difficulty being taken seriously (in spite of their obvious skills and talents). When they realize that the whole of London may be threatened, they join forces to to save the day.
The Friday Society is a fun, stylish romp through an alternate turn-of-the-century London. The girls each bring something unique to the table. The mystery at hand gets a bit convoluted at times, but characters never disappoint. I particularly love Michiko. She doesn’t speak much English, so her perspective is that of a distinct outsider, but her assessment of situations is spot-on. The repartee is always witty (even if more modern than it probably should be) and the girl-power vibe is palpable through and through. The mystery may be solved by the end of the book, but it’s clear that the adventures of these three ladies are nowhere near complete.

08. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

How I Made it to Eighteen: A mostly true story by Tracy White, read by Courtney, on 12/26/2012

This is the mostly-true story of a teenaged girl who checked herself into a mental institution and got stuck there until realizing that she has to actively try to get better. Stacy had already been to rehab for her drug use, but it didn’t stop the depression. Now that she’s in the hospital, she’s falling back into old habits; withdrawing and withholding. It takes months and several different hair cuts before Stacy begins to open up and begin to talk. When she finally did, she turned it into a comic.
The main storyline is interspersed with questions about Stacy directed at her friends (2 from her old life, one from rehab and one who is currently in the same hospital). These little vignettes provide insight into Stacy’s life; insight that would be very difficult to come by without and alternate perspective. It’s clear that her friends care about her, but none of them are perfect either. Stacy’s voice rings true and her plight is relate-able. This is graphic novel that the vast majority of teens could benefit from reading, even if they don’t suffer from any form of mental illness.

08. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Teen Books

Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould, read by Courtney, on 12/20/2012

When Laura Della Scala’s sister, Beatrice, drowns in the canals of her hometown of Venice, Laura is plucked from the convent she’s been living in for the past six years. Thinking her life is going to become more exciting and comfortable, she is happy with the change. At least, that is, until she is finally told that her sister is dead and that she will be taking Beatrice’s place in the marriage that their father had arranged. Laura must now attempt to take her late sister’s place in high society as their father’s wealth continues to dwindle. He is convinced that the only thing that can possibly keep the small family afloat is a good marriage. Unfortunately, Laura’s betrothed is an elderly, disgusting and mean man. Laura is appropriately horrified, much as her sister must have been. Then Laura gets an invitation that just might turn her life around. There is a secret society of women in Venice known as “La Segreta” who wield more power than anyone can possibly fathom. In exchange for getting Laura out of her situation, she must give up a secret. With that, Laura is made a member of the secret society, but quickly begins to realize that they may not be a group Laura can trust. In this world, secrets can be deadly and powerful.
This is a surprisingly short novel that rarely relents in its pacing. Enter the enchanting world of 16th century Venice and dabble in its secrets. My only issue is the naming of the main character. Isn’t there something more…Venetian…sounding aside from Laura? Everything else feels so authentic, but the name “Laura” feels too modern to me. Anyway, a mildly intoxicating read.

08. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Mystery, Paranormal, Teen Books

Break My Heart 1,000 Times by Daniel Waters, read by Courtney, on 12/18/2012

Veronica has been seeing ghosts ever since the Event. She’s not alone. In fact, since the Event, everyone can see the ghosts. They show up at the same places at the same times; trapped in some sort of metaphysical loop. It doesn’t really frighten anyone, even if it does cause unease. It’s been happening for a few years now, so no one’s too surprised when a ghost suddenly appears in their path. The thing is, there are now more and more ghosts appearing. Veronica even has one that appears in her bathroom. What really freaks her out though, is the creepy English teacher that lives down the street from her. He’s got a ghost of a former murdered student who appears on his doorstep every morning. And now the teacher appears to be fixating on Veronica. Shaken, Veronica and her new boyfriend, Kirk begin investigating the murder and discover that several other girls were all killed on the same day, four years apart: February 29th. Leap day.
In the course of the mystery and tension that “Break My Heart” presents, there is also a considerable amount of discussion on the nature of ghosts and what it means to those who are alive. Are the ghosts really just “images”, recorded on a medium we haven’t yet discovered? Are they trying to tell us something? Does their appearance in the real world mean that they don’t have an afterlife? What happens to those who do not turn into ghosts? And is there some meaning to the increasing number of ghosts making their appearance? A lot to think about.
I really enjoyed this book, even if I wasn’t particularly surprised by the ending. The only thing that really bugged me was the unnamed “Event” that is constantly mentioned, yet never explained. It’s obviously a catalyst for the ghosties, but is a bit of frustration for the reader.

08. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Eve and Adam by Micheal Grant and Katherine Applegate, read by Courtney, on 12/17/2012

Eve Spiker has just been hit by a truck. Her leg is nearly severed and her arm is crushed. Her mother whisks her out of the county hospital to move Eve to the family’s biotech facility where Eve will, ostensibly, heal better. A few blurry days later, Eve is surprised to find that not only is her leg intact, it doesn’t really even hurt anymore. To bide the time while Eve is recuperating, her mother gives her a task that involves testing the facility’s new genetic manipulation computer program. It’s set up like a game or puzzle and every component of the human is able to be controlled by the creator. Eve begins to build the perfect (simulated) boy.
In the meantime, a boy around Eve’s age, Solo, has been living in the biotech facility and planning its downfall. Solo knows as much or more about the facility that its own creators, which means he knows not only all the good they are capable of, but all the bad as well. His plans seemed so straightforward before meeting Eve…Both of them are about to discover that Spiker Biotech has more secrets than anyone could have dreamed possible.
And then there’s Adam; a further complication for all parties involved.
Fast-paced and humorous, Eve and Adam is an entertaining and occasionally thought-provoking novel about what makes us human, right down to our DNA.