24. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Thriller/Suspense, Tracy

Your House is on Fire Your Children all Gone by Stefan Kiesbye, 198 pages, read by Tracy, on 01/31/2013

The cover is very creepy and the village the story is set in is full of jealous and vengeful people.
Four young people narrate the tale, two girls and two boys. They all witness death and destruction in Hammersmoor Germany. After the war the village doesn’t have a lot to offer young people so they listen to the folk stories and superstitions and let their imagination take over. It could be any village in the world.

24. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

Ghost on Black Mountain by Ann Hite, 329 pages, read by Tracy, on 01/11/2013

I really enjoyed this ghost story. I learned a lot of folklore superstitions about spirits and how to keep them away. This book is told by five different women. Their lives have all been effected by Hobbs Pritchard an evil man who lives on Black Mountain. It begins during the Depression and continues til modern times. It’s also about mothers trying to protect their daughters from the wrong man.

24. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, NonFiction, Tracy

A Tale of Two Valleys by Alan Deutshman, 221 pages, read by Tracy, on 01/25/2013

The author of this book was fortunate to have several friends who own weekend homes in Sonoma and Napa California. While he was there during the week he got to know some of the people and learn about the politics going on with these two touristy spots. I found the politics of Sonoma boring but loved reading about the history of both wine producing spots. The author discovered that Napa is for the super rich who can afford the expensive wines and 5 star restaurants while Sonoma is mostly bohemian organic foodies.

24. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

One Shot by Lee Child, 376 pages, read by Tracy, on 01/18/2013

Six shots. Five dead. One heartland city thrown into a state of terror. But within hours the cops have it solved: a slam-dunk case. Except for one thing. The accused man says: You got the wrong guy. Then he says: Get Reacher for me. And sure enough, from the world he lives in—no phone, no address, no commitments–ex–military investigator Jack Reacher is coming. In Lee Child’s astonishing new thriller, Reacher’s arrival will change everything—about a case that isn’t what it seems, about lives tangled in baffling ways, about a killer who missed one shot–and by doing so give Jack Reacher one shot at the truth.… The gunman worked from a parking structure just thirty yards away–point-blank range for a trained military sniper like James Barr. His victims were in the wrong place at the wrong time. But why does Barr want Reacher at his side? There are good reasons why Reacher is the last person Barr would want to see. But when Reacher hears Barr’s own words, he understands. And a slam-dunk case explodes. Soon Reacher is teamed with a young defense lawyer who is working against her D.A. father and dueling with a prosecution team that has an explosive secret of its own. Like most things Reacher has known in life, this case is a complex battlefield. But, as always, in battle, Reacher is at his best. Moving in the shadows, picking his spots, Reacher gets closer and closer to the unseen enemy who is pulling the strings. And for Reacher, the only way to take him down is to know his ruthlessness and respect his cunning–and then match him shot for shot.

This wasn’t as good as some of the other Reacher books but I enjoyed it. Always has an exciting ending and an unexpected complication. Can’t wait to read the next one.

24. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

The Hard Way by Lee Child, 371 pages, read by Tracy, on 01/29/2013

In Lee Child’s astonishing new thriller, ex-military cop Reacher sees more than most people would…and because of that, he’s thrust into an explosive situation that’s about to blow up in his face. For the only way to find the truth-and save two innocent lives-is to do it the way Jack Reacher does it best: the hard way….

Jack Reacher was alone, the way he liked it, soaking up the hot, electric New York City night, watching a man cross the street to a parked Mercedes and drive it away. The car contained one million dollars in ransom money. And Edward Lane, the man who paid it, will pay even more to get his family back. Lane runs a highly illegal soldiers-for-hire operation. He will use any amount of money and any tool to find his beautiful wife and child. And then he’ll turn Jack Reacher loose with a vengeance-because Reacher is the best man hunter in the world.

On the trail of a vicious kidnapper, Reacher is learning the chilling secrets of his employer’s past…and of a horrific drama in the heart of a nasty little war. He’s beginning to realize that Edward Lane is hiding something. Something dirty. Something big. But Reacher also knows this: he’s already in way too deep to stop now.

Couldn’t put this one down at the end as usual. All the Jack Reacher books are about helping the victims of bad guys. If you are lucky enough to find Reacher, he has no address or bank account. He likes it that way. He admits he is missing the remorse gene from his DNA. But he grows on you.

24. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance, Tracy

The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno by Ellen Bryson, 331 pages, read by Tracy, on 01/04/2013

Bartholomew is the thin man at P.T. Barnum’s American Museum. Along with the other cast of freaks and oddities he feels they are gifted. People ask if he is hungry but there is something inside him that keeps him from starving. A small portion of beans and tea is all he needs a day. But when a new act arrives one day he realizes he might be able to live a normal life. Also with the help of an exotic root he was given in Chinatown his hunger comes back. It was an interesting story and it made me hungry.

24. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Teen Books · Tags: ,

Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey , 407 pages, read by Angie, on 03/23/2013

Tess has lived her entire life outside of Dragonswood. She has endured an abusive father and the deaths of her sisters and brothers. Tess has always been drawn to Dragonswood, the sanctuary for fey and dragons on Wilde Isle. This pull gets her in trouble when Lady Adele comes to town looking for witches. Tess is accused and tortured. During torture she names her two best friends, Poppy and Meg. Tess escapes and brings Poppy and Meg with her into hiding. They travel the isle disguised as lepers until they find sanctuary with Garth, a huntsman and keeper of Dragonswood. Garth is mysterious and Tess is drawn to him. Poppy and Tess are both drawn to Dragonswood and eventually find themselves with Fey.

There is a prophecy regarding human, dragon and fey. The blending of the three will bring about a new time. They believe the prophecy refers to the current prince and a half-fey girl. The royal family, the Pendragons, are descendants of dragons, each bearing scales as the mark of their heritage. The fey want to entice Prince Arden to marry one of the half-fey girls and bring about the prophecy.

This is a lovely historical fantasy novel. Janet Lee Carey writes beautifully and makes Wilde Isle and Dragonswood come to life. I love the mix of fiction and myth with the inclusion of parts of the Arthur story and Merlin. I assume that Wilde Isle is an island off England, but independent of that country. Tess is an interesting character. She doesn’t seem like she would be historically accurate, way to independent minded, but she is brave and smart and fallible. I admire the fact that she isn’t a perfect heroine. She betrays her friends, she makes judgments about people and situations, but she always tries to do what is right. I also like the relationship between Garth and Tess. You knew there was something mysterious about him and I enjoyed the way his secret came out. This is a fun book and I will definitely be checking out the other book in this series, Dragon’s Keep.

23. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Science Fiction · Tags:

Freakling by Lana Krumwiede , 320 pages, read by Angie, on 03/23/2013

Taemon lives in a Deliverance, a city where everyone uses psi. No one uses their hands for anything, not eating, not opening doors, not putting on clothes. All of these tasks are accomplished through psi, the ability to move things with your mind. If you have very weak psi you are considered a Freakling and if you have no psi you are banished to the powerless colony. Deliverance has been cut off from the world ever since the prophet Nathan created a mountain to hide them.

Taemon is a strong psi user as is his brother Yens. However, Taemon has an additional power that no one can no about. He can also let his mind wonder into things and see how they work or how they are built. Yens is ambitious and jealous of Taemon. He tries to kill him on a couple of occasions. When Taemon has the chance to strike back he doesn’t and looses his psi. He is banished to the Colony. There is learns how to live without psi and how to use his hands for things. Yens is declared the True Son by the temple elders and they start planning a return to the world and psi weapons. Taemon and his new friends in the Colony must stop them before it is too late.

This was a fun middle grade read. I really enjoyed how developed the character of Taemon was. You knew exactly who he was and what he wanted to do. I thought Yens jealousy and ambition also came across really well. I didn’t really get the motivation of the Temple Elders except power and greed; they seemed a little one dimensional. I love the thought of never using your hands for anything and then suddenly having to figure out how to live without your power and do things manually. I thought that was a really interesting twist. Was this the most innovative book I have read? No, it was fairly predictable. I figured out very early what was going to happen, but it was entertaining.

23. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Adaptation by Malinda Lo, 400 pages, read by Angie, on 03/22/2013

Reese and David are in Phoenix waiting to fly home to San Francisco after a debate. While in the airport they hear reports of flocks of birds causing multiple planes to crash. All flights are grounded and they decide to drive home. There are road blocks, traffic jams and violence. Their journey ends in the Nevada desert when a bird causes their car to crash. They wake up a month later in a secret military facility. Their injuries are miraculously healed, but they are not allowed to know where they are or what happened to them. Once they get home stranger things happen. They appear to have strange abilities and it seems that they are being watched.

Back in San Francisco, Reese connects with her best friend Julien who has all kinds of conspiracy theories about what happened really brought the planes down, what the government is covering up and where Reese and David might have been kept. Then Reese meets mysterious Amber and automatically has a connection with her. Their relationship is immediate and intense. Reese has to come to terms with the fact that she is bisexual when she has never had any desire to date previously. She also still has feelings for David that are unexplored.

Then things really ramp up when Reese, David and Julien discover more about what has been happening. David and Reese are taken back into military custody and discover the truth about everything.

There are aspects of this book that are scifi thriller at its best. I love the whole secret military installations, the conspiracy, the aliens (you knew there had to be aliens right?), the secret medical experiments. The first part and the ending of the book were pure scifi thriller. I loved it. The middle part really slowed down. It was all about personal introspection and romance. During this section Reese was figuring out who she is and what she wants. She was exploring her sexuality with Amber and trying to figure out her feelings for David. She was also exploring her new found abilities. I have to admit that this part dragged a bit for me. I didn’t mind the love triangle. I thought it was different and fresh to have a bisexual main character and I thought that part was really well done. I just wish the three sections of the book were integrated a little better.

22. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Mystery, Pamela

5th Horseman by James Patterson, 410 pages, read by Pamela, on 02/28/2013

The members of the Women’s Murder Club face an unspeakable menace in a most suspenseful hospital drama. Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer is shopping with the newest member of the Women’s Murder Club, lawyer Yuki Castellano, and Yuki’s mother, Keiko, when suddenly Keiko collapses. She’s rushed to San Francisco Medical Center where her condition stabilizes. Yet days later, the hospital calls Yuki with devastating news. Keiko was given the wrong medication and it brought on a fatal heart attack. Even more astonishing, this is not the first time SFMC has made this mistake.

 

I like these books, even though they aren’t particularly deep, they are fun.

21. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction · Tags: ,

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer, 250 pages, read by Angie, on 03/21/2013

Foster wants to become the first kid with a cooking show on the Food Network. Her specialty is cupcakes and muffins but she can cook anything. She practices for her show every time she cooks. The only problem is she and her mom just moved to small town Culpepper and who is going to discover her in Culpepper? They had to leave Memphis fast to get away from her mom’s Elvis impersonating boyfriend and Culpepper is where they ended up. Culpepper is a quirky little town with a reclusive Hollywood diva, a young documentarian without a camera and a host of other fun characters.

I love small town books. They always have the quirkiest characters. I think this book has a nice mix of crazy and sane. I like Foster’s ambition and determination to make it big. I also enjoyed the fact that she had a little dimension. She can’t read and she tries to hide that fact with everything she can. Once her secret is out she accepts the help of those around her. I do wish there would have been a little more development for Foster, but overall this was a fun little book.

21. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Mystery, Pamela

6th Target by James Patterson, 390 pages, read by Pamela, on 03/01/2013

6thTarget

When a horrifying attack leaves one of the four members of the Women’s Murder Club struggling for her life, the others fight to keep a madman behind bars before anyone else is hurt. And Lindsay Boxer and her new partner in the San Francisco police department run flat-out to stop a series of kidnappings that has electrified the city: children are being plucked off the streets together with their nannies– but the kidnappers aren’t demanding ransom.

I like these books, even though they aren’t particularly deep, they are fun.

21. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Kim, Women's Fiction (chick lit) · Tags:

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! by Fannie Flagg, 467 pages, read by Kim, on 03/21/2013

I absolutely loved this book! Fannie Flagg knows how to write, she knows what readers want and she delivers! Her characters are so hilarious! Anyone from Missouri reading this book will recognize someone they know in Flagg’s pages!!!! And yet, the author does not shield us from the pain that a person goes through. But she also teaches us how to get through it with a dose of humor, faith, and common sense. I highly recommend it! it is definitely a “feel-good” book!

20. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Pamela, Women's Fiction (chick lit) · Tags:

Hannah's List by Debbie Macomber, 412 pages, read by Pamela, on 03/18/2013

hannahs list

On the anniversary of his beloved wife’s death, Michael receives a letter Hannah had written him. She makes one final request– she’s chosen three women, and asks him to consider them as a new wife. He’s a man who needs the completeness only love can offer– and the list leads him to a woman who can help him find it.

20. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Stung by Bethany Wiggins , 304 pages, read by Angie, on 03/18/2013

Fiona wakes up in her bedroom, but it isn’t her bedroom. Everything is dusty and broken and abandoned. She also realizes she is different herself. She has a weird tattoo on her hand and she seems older. In fact, she is older. She has lost four years of her life. Once she travels outside she realizes the world has gone to hell in that time. Nothing and no one is the same. There are now armed gangs patrolling the streets, a walled compound protecting people and feral groups living in the sewers. Fiona is captured by the militia and taken into custody. Apparently the tattoo on her hand means she is one of the most dangerous people alive and any moment she could turn into a raving beast. Her captor turns out to be her childhood neighbor who has always had a crush on her. They are soon on the run and falling in love.

I have to confess that while I was reading this book I couldn’t put it down. It is fast-paced and entertaining. However, for the most part it doesn’t make a lot of sense. I enjoy dystopians and my biggest pet peeve with them is lack of world-building. The world-building in this book didn’t make the most sense. It only took four years for the world to fall apart and it was all because the bees had disappeared (why do I keep getting Dr. Who flashes???). A vaccine to protect the elite (of course) from some disease caused by the bees disappearing actually turns people into monsters. The vaccine not only comes with a side of beast but a tattoo. And you get additional marks on your tattoo for every shot you get; so of course 10 marks means you are crazy! I didn’t get the militia, the compound, the gangs, etc. Bad world building!

The other thing I had a problem with was Fiona and Fiona and her beau. Fiona had to be the most pathetic, worthless heroine ever. She didn’t seem to have any survival instincts or actual intelligence sometimes. She never tried to escape her captors and at one point thought it would be a good idea to dress up in a pretty sundress and sandals in a world where she has been told women get raped for just being female. And how come men can’t control themselves? Really? It isn’t like the women died. Fiona and Dreyden were another big question mark for me. He starts out hating and fearing her and by the end of the book is ready to die for her. She still thinks she is 13 and lusts after his brother. Doesn’t matter if he holds her captive and is going to turn her over to become a guinea pig in a lab she will still always love him by the end. And the end…ugh! That is all I am going to say about that.

I did receive this book from the publishers on Netgalley and they obviously did not pay me for this review.

20. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Mystery · Tags: ,

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis, 308 pages, read by Kira, on 03/17/2013

enchant

Monday’s child is fair of face
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go,
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

Seventh daughter SUNDAY Woodcutter, befriends an enchanted frog-prince, Grumble, in the forest.  Although her kiss does Not return him to his human form right away, eventually her love for him does the trick.  Unfortunately, when he awakens, he remembers that her family loathes him.

Kontis deftly weaves in narrative themes from multiple fairy tales, from Jack in the Beanstalk, to Sleeping Beauty, to Rumpelstiltskin, to Cinderella, Dancing Princesses.  This is a fast-paced book, that at times fails thoroughly explain all the synchronicities.  Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the book.  Sweet and inventive.

Yes there is at least one vampire or perhaps 2.

20. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction · Tags:

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly, 338 pages, read by Angie, on 03/17/2013

Calpurnia Virginia Tate is the only daughter in a family of seven kids. She is a naturally curious child who loves spending time with her grandfather. Her grandfather is teaching her all about the natural world, evolution and science. They have even found a new species of plant. This wouldn’t be so unusual except it is 1899 and girls are not supposed to be scientists. Calpurnia’s mother wants her to learn womanly arts like tatting and embroidery and cookery. She does not want her to go tromping through the fields and woods looking for bugs or plants. Through all the scientific adventures with her grandfather and the antics of her six brothers, Calpurnia discovers who she is and who she wants to be.

Callie is definitely a spunky young girl. She has a very inquiring mind and isn’t afraid to ask questions even questions that aren’t necessarily appropriate for a girl her age at that time. I found Callie to be very realistic and interesting. She is exactly the type of girl you want to read about: smart, funny and inquisitive. I listened to the book on audio and thought the narrator did a great job. My only real complaint is that I never really felt like I got to know any of the brothers. They all seemed to run together, except for Harry the oldest. I really enjoyed Callie’s relationship with her grandfather. It was really the heart of the book.

20. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Janet, Women's Fiction (chick lit) · Tags:

The Laughter of Dead Kings by Elizabeth Peters, 324 pages, read by Janet, on 03/17/2013

http://origin.syndetics.com/index.php?isbn=9780061246241/LC.gif&client=mirip&type=hw7Who would imagine that the protection of bodies in Egypt’s Valley of Kings would involve several people being killed because of their knowledge of the artifacts?  Elizabeth Peters always give a full description of the people involved, the surroundings, and enough past information to connect the incidents to the present.  One learns a lot of history and an appreciation of those who uncover and take care of these ancient items. In this story, the bones of King Tut had been stolen and were being held for ransom. A hand was sent for proof.  It takes good detectives to be able to identify the thieves, locate the rest of the body, and move it to a safe place.  Good reading (and lots of eating by the participants).

20. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Kira, Romance, Women's Fiction (chick lit) · Tags:

Savannah breeze by Mary Kay Andrews, 434 pages, read by Kira, on 03/19/2013

savannah-breeze-mary-kay-andrewsThe book opens with the protagonist B.B. falling for a rich, good-looking man, with a yacht.  They do boring stuff, like hang out on the deck, and he buys her expensive jewelry.  In addition he does listen to her and fix some of her troubles.  Despite this, it was very difficult to see what the attraction was, surely people are Not that shallow, that they only see the gleam of wealth.  The man  turns out to be a con man, and fleeces B.B.,it was difficult to empathize with her.  Then although he steals/defrauds her of $4mill! they cannot follow him into another state, because she signed a Power of Attorney, to him in the middle of the night, and the law won’t go after him, BECAUSE HE IS IN ANOTHER STATE! seriously?

By the end of the book protagonist BB is making life changing to commitments to with another guy Harry, who is physically attracted to her, but that’s all, oh and he is grouchy.

Is all chick lit this bad?  I chose this author because, she was supposed to be funny, I did Not laugh, nor chuckle, maybe it contained this new-fangled cringe-humor.

20. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Eric, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman, 117 pages, read by Eric, on 03/18/2013

The not-so-odd tale of young Odd, and three of the Norse gods in animal form, attempting to win control of Asgard back from a frost giant. Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors. No matter how short the fiction, he manages to put distinctive twists and touches on the tale. Knowing this, I was surprised to read this rather straightforward mythological adventure. It’s well-told, but if I didn’t know this was Gaiman, I wouldn’t have realized it. Certainly worth a read, however.