29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Madeline, Mystery

Six Years by Harlan Coben, 351 pages, read by Madeline, on 04/25/2013

Six years have passed since Jake Sanders watched Natalie, the love of his life, marry another man. Six years of hiding a broken heart by throwing himself into his career as a college professor. Six years of keeping his promise to leave Natalie alone, and six years of tortured dreams of her life with her new husband, Todd. But six years haven’t come close to extinguishing his feelings, and when Jake comes across Todd’s obituary, he can’t keep himself away from the funeral. There he gets the glimpse of Todd’s wife he’s hoping for . . . but she is not Natalie. Whoever the mourning widow is, she’s been married to Todd for more than a decade, and with that fact everything Jake thought he knew about the best time of his life–a time he has never gotten over–is turned completely inside out. As Jake searches for the truth, his picture-perfect memories of Natalie begin to unravel. Mutual friends of the couple either can’t be found or don’t remember Jake. No one has seen Natalie in years. Jake’s search for the woman who broke his heart, and who lied to him. soon puts his very life at risk as it dawns on him that the man he has become may be based on carefully constructed fiction.

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Madeline, Poetry

This is my Body; poems by Terry Song, 69 pages, read by Madeline, on 04/22/2013

This first book of poems dwells in lived experience-women and farms, women and men,raising kids, cooking bread, the front porch, the marriage bed. Terry Song has an uncanny ear for real voices.

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Madeline, Mystery

The Boyfriend by Thomas Perry, 298 pages, read by Madeline, on 04/17/2013

Jack Till, who has retired from the LAPD after a respected career as a homicide detective, now works as a private investigator, comfortable chasing down routine cases while visiting his 24-year-old daughter, Holly, who has Down Syndrome. But when the parents of a recently murdered young girl, about Holly’s age, ask for his help when the police come up empty, Till reluctantly takes the case. It was discovered after her death that the victim had been working as a high-class prostitute, and the police are content to assume she was killed by a client, common in such a dangerous line of work. Yet as Till digs deeper, he realizes that the victim is just one of several young female escorts killed in different cities in the exact same way–all had strawberry blonde hair, and all were shot with a 9mm handgun in the sanctity of their apartments. Till must find his way around the tawdry and secretive online escort business, and decode ads placed by young women who all use false names, sometimes advertise using other women’s pictures, and move from city to city every few months. Yet when Till is finally able to catch up with the killer, he finds that the man he’s after is far more dangerous and volatile than he ever could have imagined. As the body count rises, Till must risk his life to find this seductive and ruthless killer whose murderous spree masks a far deadlier agenda.

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

Pandora's Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal by Melanie Warner, 267 pages, read by Madeline, on 04/14/2013

From breakfast cereal to frozen pizza to nutrition bars, processed foods are a fundamental part of our diet, accounting for 65% of our nation’s yearly calories. Over the past century, technology has transformed the American meal into a chemical-laden smorgasbord of manipulated food products that bear little resemblence to what our grandparents ate. Despite the growing presence of farmers’ markets and organic offerings, food additives and chemical preservatives are nearly impossible to avoid, and even the most ostensibly healthy foods contain multisyllabic ingredients with nearly untraceable origins. The far-reaching implications of the industrialization of the food supply that privleges cheap, plentiful, and fast food have been well documented. They are dire. But how did we ever reach the point where ‘pink slime’ is an acceptable food product? Is anybody regulating what makes it into our food? What, after all, is actually safe to eat? Former York Times health columnist Melanie Warner combines deep investigatory reporting, culinary history, and cultural analysis, to find out how we got here and what it is we’re really eating. Vividly written and meticulously researched, Pandora’s Lunchbox blows the lid off the largely undocumented world of processed foods and food manipulation. From the vitamin “enrichments” to our fortified cereals and bread, to the soy mixtures that bolster chicken (and often outweigh the actual chicken included), Warner lays bare the dubious nutritional value and misleading labels of chemically-treated foods, as well as the potential price we–and our children–may pay.

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

Behind the Kitchen Door by Saru Jayaraman, 191 pages, read by Madeline, on 04/11/2013

How do restaurant workers live on some of the lowest wages in America? And how do poor working conditions-discriminatory labor practices, exploitation, and unsanitary kitchens-affect the meals that arrive at our restaurant tables? Saru Jayaraman, who launched the national restaurant workers’ organization Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, sets out to answer these questions by following the lives of restaurant workers in New York City, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Miami, Detroit, and New Orleans.

Blending personal narrative and investigative journalism, Jayaraman shows us that the quality of the food that arrives at our restaurant tables depends not only on the sourcing of the ingredients. Our meals benefit from the attention and skill of the people who chop, grill, sauté, and serve. Behind the Kitchen Door is a groundbreaking exploration of the political, economic, and moral implications of dining out. Jayaraman focuses on the stories of individuals, like Daniel, who grew up on a farm in Ecuador and sought to improve the conditions for employees at Del Posto; the treatment of workers behind the scenes belied the high-toned Slow Food ethic on display in the front of the house.

Increasingly, Americans are choosing to dine at restaurants that offer organic, fair-trade, and free-range ingredients for reasons of both health and ethics. Yet few of these diners are aware of the working conditions at the restaurants themselves. But whether you eat haute cuisine or fast food, the well-being of restaurant workers is a pressing concern, affecting our health and safety, local economies, and the life of our communities. Highlighting the roles of the 10 million people, many immigrants, many people of color, who bring their passion, tenacity, and vision to the American dining experience, Jayaraman sets out a bold agenda to raise the living standards of the nation’s second-largest private sector workforce-and ensure that dining out is a positive experience on both sides of the kitchen door.

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Madeline

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, 218 pages, read by Madeline, on 04/08/2013

Eleven-year-old Delphine has it together. Even though her mother, Cecile, abandoned her and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, seven years ago. Even though her father and Big Ma will send them from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to stay with Cecile for the summer. And even though Delphine will have to take care of her sisters, as usual, and learn the truth about the missing pieces of the past.

When the girls arrive in Oakland in the summer of 1968, Cecile wants nothing to do with them. She makes them eat Chinese takeout dinners, forbids them to enter her kitchen, and never explains the strange visitors with Afros and black berets who knock on her door. Rather than spend time with them, Cecile sends Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern to a summer camp sponsored by a revolutionary group, the Black Panthers, where the girls get a radical new education.

Set during one of the most tumultuous years in recent American history, one crazy summer is the heartbreaking, funny tale of three girls in search of the mother who abandoned them-an unforgettable story told by a distinguished author of books for children and teens, Rita Williams-Garcia.

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Madeline

The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Baumeister, 275 pages, read by Madeline, on 04/04/2013

Lillian and her restaurant have a way of drawing people together. There’s Al, the accountant who finds meaning in numbers and ritual; Chloe, a budding chef who hasn’t learned to trust after heartbreak; Finnegan, quiet and steady as a tree, who can disappear into the background despite his massive height; Louise, Al’s wife, whose anger simmers just below the boiling point; and Isabelle, whose memories are slowly slipping from her grasp. And there’s Lillian herself, whose life has taken a turn she didn’t expect. . . .Their lives collide and mix with those around them, sometimes joining in effortless connections, at other times sifting together and separating again, creating a family that is chosen, not given.

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Madeline

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, 335 pages, read by Madeline, on 04/01/2013

Set in New York City in 1938, Rules of Civility tells the story of a watershed year in the life of an uncompromising twenty-five-year- old named Katey Kontent. Armed with little more than a formidable intellect, a bracing wit, and her own brand of cool nerve, Katey embarks on a journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool through the upper echelons of New York society in search of a brighter future.

The story opens on New Year’s Eve in a Greenwich Village jazz bar, where Katey and her boardinghouse roommate Eve happen to meet Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with royal blue eyes and a ready smile. This chance encounter and its startling consequences cast Katey off her current course, but end up providing her unexpected access to the rarified offices of Conde Nast and a glittering new social circle. Befriended in turn by a shy, principled multimillionaire, an Upper East Side ne’er-do-well, and a single-minded widow who is ahead of her times, Katey has the chance to experience first hand the poise secured by wealth and station, but also the aspirations, envy, disloyalty, and desires that reside just below the surface. Even as she waits for circumstances to bring Tinker back into her orbit, she will learn how individual choices become the means by which life crystallizes loss.

Elegant and captivating, Rules of Civility turns a Jamesian eye on how spur of the moment decisions define life for decades to come. A love letter to a great American city at the end of the Depression, readers will quickly fall under its spell of crisp writing, sparkling atmosphere and breathtaking revelations, as Towles evokes the ghosts of Fitzgerald, Capote, and McCarthy.

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Promise Me Darkness by Paige Weaver, 350 pages, read by Nikki, on 04/29/2013

Promise Me DarknessMaddie is the typical good girl next door. She goes to college, lives with her best friend, dates only gentlemen and is still a virgin at 21. The only not perfect thing in her life, is Ryder. Her best friend since she was 6. Ryder grew up next door and they’ve always been close. They knew everything about eacother, shared ever secret and were always there for eachother. The only thing Ryder didn’t know, was how madly in love Maddie was with him. Maddie would never admit to Ryder she was in love with him. After all the years he spent insisting he would never fall in love, there was no way she would tell him. But after much talk of an impending war, and attacks on the US, war finally breaks out. Now Maddie and Ryder can only think of surviving and making it back home.

Oh God! I loved this book! I feel like I haven’t read a good book for so long! It’s like breathing in a clean cold breath of fresh air. The plot was completely different from what I’m used to. It’s still a smut book, but with more of a story to it. Of course it’s another cliffhanger, but I’m almost ok with it, since the book was so good. I cannot wait for the second book to come out!

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

The Ivy Lessons by SK Quinn, 342 pages, read by Nikki, on 04/25/2013

Ivy LessonsSophia wins a post grad scholarship to Ivy College in London. It’s one of the most difficult colleges to get in to. It’s owned by Marc Blackwell, a very famous actor. He’s arrogant, rude, cold and very strict. He’s also very handsome and young. Sophia is immediately attracted to him. Marc is intrigued by Sophia, and has decided to leave the college to keep himself a safe distance from Sophia. He soon returns and takes Sophia regardless of the college rules and backlash of the public for their relationship.

Ugh, I’m so glad this book was short. I read it because it suggested that if you enjoyed the Fifty Shades books and the Crossfire Series, then “you would just love this book!” Terrible! This book was almost impossible to finish. I actually started re-reading a book I enjoyed in between this book just to make it through. Sophia was a pushover and rarely ever stood up for herself, Marc was an arrogant prick, and there was no real story with the two of them. It was boring and I’m glad it’s over. There is another book after this one, the I refuse to waste my money on.

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Real by Katy Evans, 266 pages, read by Nikki, on 04/20/2013

RealBrooke was an Olympic competitor and had everything going for her. Until that fateful day she injured her leg in her Olympic competitions. Since then she has given up competitive running and decided on a career rehabilitating injured athletes. She ends up meeting Remington Tate, a bad boy underground fighter. She is quickly overwhelmed with desire upon first seeing him. He approaches Brooke with a kiss and gets her number. A week later, Remington has requested to meet with her and propositions her to go on tour with him as his employee. Quickly the fall for eachother, but not without some much added drama.

Let me first say that I read this book because of a review. I’ll quote the review “I am officially claiming Remington Tate as my book husband. I want to have little book babies with him.” Yes, after reading this review I knew I had to read it. While the plot was good, the main character Remington, was almost too scary for my liking. He had serious mental health issues, and it was just to bizarre to me that when he became manic for days, he wouldn’t remember what he did in that manic state. I don’t know, I mean even if the dude is incredibly good looking, I just don’t know if I could look past the mental issues. Seemed a little extreme to me. What I loved was the way they used songs to express what they were feeling for eachother. I though that was sweet and romantic, and I loved to find new songs.

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Damaged by H.M. Ward, 340 pages, read by Nikki, on 04/17/2013

DamagedSidney has left her life behind for a new life at college in Texas. Nobody knows the horror she lived with, with her ex-boyfriend back home. Her friend is constantly trying to get her to open up and live a little by setting her up on blind dates. On the latest blind date, Sidney decides to try to force herself to have fun and finally let go of her past. But she ends up meeting a man she instantly falls for. Peter who has taken a job at the university is also running away from his past. What neither of them realize is that Peter is soon to be Sidney’s new professor.

This book was mediocre. I felt like I already read this same book twice already. Though some of the scenes in this book were laugh out loud hilarious. The squirrel scene, I could hardly contain my laughter. Which was enjoyable to read. So many of the same books I read are too serious, so it was fun to have a character that was accident prone and constantly embarrassing herself. Of course like many of the other books I read, this one was a cliffhanger, with the second book not out yet. Rather frustrating, but I do this to myself. I liked this book, but what I hated was the fact that Sidney never tried to do more about her abusive ex-boyfriend. Once she got the brush off from her family about him she never considered going to the police. I feel like that’s a bad influence for other women or young adults to read. Of course it’s just a fiction book and for enjoyment, but it worries me that women would find that acceptable.

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Kim B, NonFiction · Tags:

Worth Fighting For: Love, Loss, and Moving Forward by Lisa Niemi, 323 pages, read by Kim B, on 04/27/2013

This is the story of Patrick Swayze’s struggle with pancreatic cancer. It is a very moving story by his wife of thirty-four years, Lisa Niemi. I promise that this book will make you laugh AND cry.

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Kim B, Poetry

News From Down to the Cafe by David Lee, 145 pages, read by Kim, on 04/28/2013

Even if you don’t read much poetry I guarantee you will love David Lee’s poems!!! He is absolutely hilarious!!!!!

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Janet, Poetry

Class Dismissed! by Mel Glenn, 96 pages, read by Janet, on 04/27/2013

Class Dismissed

This a very good selection of teen-age poems showing their thoughts and feelings. Some mentioned others who were writing, but most were entirely about their own thoughts. These poems show how teens work out changes from childhood to growing into adulthood – the problems in between. There were teen pictures also, that seemed to fit the poems, but were really taken by an assistant principal for science in a different high school. It is easy to go mentally back into that age while reading these poems.

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

A Smidgen of Sky by Dianna Dorisi Winget, 195 pages, read by Angie, on 04/29/2013

Piper Lee’s mama is getting married. She is going to marry Ben. Piper Lee isn’t real happy about this. Her daddy disappeared in a plane crash several years ago and she still hopes that one day he will come home. Ben’s daughter Ginger is happier about the marriage. Her mama left when she was a baby and she really likes Piper’s mom, Heather. Piper decides that something must be done. She tracks down Ginger’s mama, which causes all kinds of excitement. She also has a plan to find out more about her daddy’s disappearance. Piper gets into all kinds of trouble and causes problems in the family, but it isn’t until tragedy strikes that she realizes what she really wants.

I enjoyed this story. I thought Piper was pretty realistic for a ten year old. She doesn’t always do the smart thing and she is often selfish, but she is definitely real. I liked the relationship between Ben and Heather and between Ginger and Piper. I thought everything was pretty realistic and could easily happen (and probably does happen). I did think there was a lot of extras thrown in. I am not sure we needed the whole stranger danger episode; sure it isn’t out of the realm of possibility but it didn’t seem necessary. Overall, this was a fun, quick read and I would recommend it for middle grades.

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Helen, Thriller/Suspense

A Land More Kind than Home by Wiley Cash, 309 pages, read by Helen, on 04/28/2013

For a curious boy like Jess Hall, growing up in Marshall means trouble when your mother catches you spying on grown-ups. Adventurous and precocious, Jess is enormously protective of his older brother, Christopher, a mute whom everyone calls Stump. Though their mother has warned them not to snoop, Stump cant help sneaking a look at something hes not supposed to–an act that will have catastrophic repercussions, shattering both his world and Jesss. Its a wrenching event that thrusts Jess into an adulthood for which hes not prepared. While there is much about the world that still confuses him, he now knows that a new understanding can bring not only a growing danger and evil–but also the possibility of freedom and deliverance as well.

Told by three resonant and evocative characters–Jess; Adelaide Lyle, the town midwife and moral conscience; and Clem Barefield, a sheriff with his own painful past–A Land More Kind Than Home is a haunting tale of courage in the face of cruelty and the power of love to overcome the darkness that lives in us all. These are masterful portrayals, written with assurance and truth, and they show us the extraordinary promise of this remarkable first novel.

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Fiction, Helen, Horror, Science Fiction

The Remaining by D.J. Molles, 220 pages, read by Helen, on 04/25/2013

In a steel-and-lead-encased bunker 40 feet below the basement level of his house, Captain Lee Harden of the United States Army waits. On the surface, a plague ravages the planet, infecting over 90% of the populace. The bacterium burrows through the brain, destroying all signs of humanity and leaving behind little more than base, prehistoric instincts. The infected turn into hyper-aggressive predators, with an insatiable desire to kill and feed. Some day soon, Captain Harden will have to open the hatch to his bunker, and step out into this new wasteland, to complete his very simple mission: Subvenire Refectus.

To Rescue and Rebuild.

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Helen, Historical Fiction

Then like the Blind Man: Orbie's Story by Freddie Owens, 324 pages, read by Helen, on 04/18/2013

A storm is brewing in the all-but-forgotten backcountry of Kentucky. And, for Orbie Ray, the swirling heavens may just have the power to tear open his family’s darkest secrets. Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie’s Story is the enthralling debut novel by Freddie Owens, which tells the story of a feisty wunderkind in the segregated South of the 1950s, and the forces he must overcome to restore order in his world. Evocative of a time and place long past, this absorbing work of magical realism offered with a Southern twist will engage readers who relish the Southern literary canon, or any tale well told.

Nine-year-old Orbie has his cross to bear. After the death of his father, his mother Ruby has off and married his father’s coworker and friend Victor, a slick-talking man with a snake tattoo. Now, Orbie, his sister Missy, and his mother haven’t had a peaceful moment with the heavy-drinking new man of the house. Orbie hates his stepfather more than he can stand; a fact that lands him at his grandparents’ place in Harlan’s Crossroads, Kentucky.

Orbie grudgingly adjusts to life with his doting Granny and carping Granpaw, who are a bit too keen on their black neighbors for Orbie’s taste, not to mention their Pentecostal congregation of snake handlers. And, when he meets the black Choctaw preacher, Moses Mashbone, he learns of powers that might uncover the true cause of his father’s death. As a storm of unusual magnitude descends, Orbie happens upon the solution to a paradox at once magical and ordinary. Question is, will it be enough?

Equal parts Hamlet and Huckleberry Finn, it’s a tale that’s rich in meaning, socially relevant, and rollicking with boyhood adventure. The novel mines crucial contemporary issues, as well as the universality of the human experience while also casting a beguiling light on boyhood dreams and fears. It’s a well-spun, nuanced work of fiction that is certain to resonate with lovers of literary fiction, particularly in the Southern tradition of storytelling.

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Helen, Historical Fiction

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis, 243 pages, read by Helen, on 04/11/2013

In 1923, fifteen-year-old Hattie Shepherd flees Georgia and settles in Philadelphia, hoping for a chance at a better life. Instead, she marries a man who will bring her nothing but disappointment and watches helplessly as her firstborn twins succumb to an illness a few pennies could have prevented.  Hattie gives birth to nine more children whom she raises with grit and mettle and not an ounce of the tenderness they crave.  She vows to prepare them for the calamitous difficulty they are sure to face in their later lives, to meet a world that will not love them, a world that will not be kind. Captured here in twelve luminous narrative threads, their lives tell the story of a mother’s monumental courage and the journey of a nation.