18. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Saved Jews During the Holocaust by Karen Gray Ruelle, Deborah Durland DeSaix, 40 pages, read by Angie, on 05/16/2013

There are many stories of people helping their Jewish neighbors during WWII, but this is one I had not heard of. The Grand Mosque in Paris was responsible for saving many Jews by hiding them and getting them Muslim identification papers. Of course this only worked on those Jews who could pass for Muslim. There are many individual stories in this book and it all paints a picture of heroism at a time of great risk. The illustrations are wonderful and beautiful. Definitely a book to recommend to those interested in WWII, history or heroism.

18. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto by Susan Goldman Rubin, Bill Farnsworth (Illustrator), 40 pages, read by Angie, on 05/16/2013

There is just something about WWII stories that really pulls at my heart. I find the people who worked for the underground movements and helped the Jewish people fascinating. There is something about their courage and heroism that really makes you look at your own life and wander what you would have done in a similar situation. Not everyone was strong enough to stand up for what was right, but Irena Sendler was definitely one of those heroes. Her story is similar to others who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, but it is definitely worth knowing. I thought this picture book biography did a good job of showing her courage and dedication to doing what is right. She is a hero from a very dark time in our history and her story deserves to be told.

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

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, 137 pages, read by Angie, on 05/16/2013

Annemarie and her family live in Copenhagen; they have been living under German occupation for three years now. Annemarie is best friends with Ellen, who is Jewish. One day the synagogues in Copenhagen tell their people that all the Jews are going to be arrested. So Ellen and her family must hid and try to escape from Denmark. Annemarie’s family hides Ellen and then takes her to the coast so she and her parents can escape to Sweden. Annemarie’s uncle pilots the boat that takes them to Sweden. Annemarie and her family have to hide their Jewish friends and trick the German soldiers in order to get them to safety.

This is a great look at a story of the holocaust that is not often told. How many people realize that the Danish people saved almost the entire Jewish population? This is a more hopeful story of that time period than many other works about the Holocaust. It will make readers want to learn more about the Danish resistance and the rescue of the Danish Jews. I truly enjoyed Annemarie’s story and how she reacted to the danger her friend was in.

16. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kira · Tags: ,

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink, 275 pages, read by Kira, on 05/14/2013


Tom-boy Caddie Woodlawn, is growing up on the froncaddytier in Wisconsin.

I really empathized with Caddie, when her Mom punished her harshly, but Not her brothers, because “she was a girl and should have known better”.  However, her father punishes the boys.

I liked the fact that when Caddie starts doing more domestic activities, that her brothers follow her, because they’re pals.


The author tells more and shows less, leading to a quaint, less accessible read.  The story got better as it progressed.

16. May 2013 · 1 comment · Categories: Fiction, Kira, Romance · Tags:

A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant, 362 pages, read by Kira, on 05/06/2013


Booklist: Starred Review!

This was a fun read!  Unlike most romances where the relationship between the two protagonists is plagued by misunderstandings, and self-doubt.  It is also an unusual romance novel in that the woman propositions the man.  Martha, just widowed, needs to conceive an heir, within the next month, or the country estate falls to her rapist brother-in-law.  Martha is a practical do-gooder.  The rake that she hires to “give” her an heir, Theo, was exiled from London to the country by his father, for being a lay-about, money spender.

Both of them learn to be better people, Theo learns to take an interest in his estate, and start caring for people.  Martha learns to let her hair down a bit, and get to know her neighbors as real human beings, Not charity cases.

There is humor and awkward sex.  3 out of 4 hot chilli peppers, as far as spiciness goes.

This book was recommended to me, by experts at the Reader’s Advisory Workshop I attended.

16. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Janet · Tags:

Crispin, The Cross of Lead by Avi, 262 pages, read by Janet, on 05/14/2013

Crispin  This is a great adventure story of a boy living in the English fourteenth-century countryside whose parents died and not only was he on his own, but accused of a crime and labeled a “wolf’s head” – making him open to death by anyone.  The very large magician, Bear, adopted him and taught him to think for himself.  As they travel through the countryside Bear also teaches Crispin how to defend himself, which will be very necessary when he has to save Bear’s life and his own.

16. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Kim B

Lenin, Stalin, Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe by Robert Gellately, 696 pages, read by Kim, on 05/13/2013

I loved this book for its content and historical value. It gives a fresh new look at the three most infamous dictators of Europe and the havoc wreaked upon the world during their lives and the after effects once they were dead.

16. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Tammy · Tags: ,

The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman, 122 pages, read by Tammy, on 05/12/2013

This Newbery Award winning children’s story follows the life of an orphan girl, who can’t even remember having a real name, let alone a real home. She is taken in by a medieval village midwife but not out of kindness. The midwife wants an assistant who will do all the chores and be thankful for a roof over her head and a few scraps of bread. But by the end of the story our young woman has found a name and made a place for herself in the world. An interesting look at a part of historymidwife rarely covered in children’s literature.

14. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Joyce

Alchemy by Margaret Mahy, 207 pages, read by Joyce, on 04/30/2013

When Roland’s teacher gives him an unusual assignment instead of punishment for shoplifting, he thinks he is home free. All he has to do is find out what he can about a classmate, Jess Ferret, and report back to his teacher. But there is something less than straightforward about this request, especially because the more Roland learns about Jess, the more confused he becomes. Her house is sinisterly tidy, her parents are never home, mysterious books line the bookshelves, and, most intriguing of all, Jess is apparently a student of alchemy. Why is Roland’s teacher so interested in Jess? Why has a shady magician from Roland’s past suddenly come back into his life? What exactly are the voices in Roland’s head cautioning him against? And what is the reason for Jess Ferret’s knowledge about alchemy? In searching for answers Roland finds himself trapped in a mysterious web of magic, power, and greed. This is the story of a terrifying war of magic versus willpower, told only as award-winning author Margaret Mahy can.

14. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Joyce, Poetry, Teen Books

Learning to Swim: A Memoir by Ann Turner, 115 pages, read by Joyce, on 04/25/2013

Six-year-old Annie’s world is shattered when she is forced to carry a horrible secret: Under the pretense of reading to her, an older boy molests her, threatening her if she ever tells. Only when her mother pries out the secret is Annie released from her horror and isolation. Slowly she begins to heal, and before the summer is over, she even learns to swim.

14. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Joyce

Lily's Crossing by Patricia Giff, 180 pages, read by Joyce, on 04/18/2013

This year, as in other years, Lily has planned a spectacular summer in Rockaway, in her family’s cozy house on stilts over the Atlantic Ocean. But by the summer of 1944, World War II has changed almost everyone’s life. Lily’s best friend, Margaret, and her family have moved to a wartime factory town, and worse, much worse, Lily’s father is on his way overseas to the war.

There’s no one else Lily’s age in Rockaway until Albert comes, a refugee from Hungary, a boy with a secret sewn into his coat. Albert has lost most of his family in the war; he’s been through things Lily can’t imagine. But when they join together to rescue and care for a kitten, they begin a special friendship. For Lily and Albert have their own secrets to share: they both have told lies, and Lily has told a lie that may cost Albert his life.

14. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Joyce, Mystery · Tags:

Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn , 187 pages, read by Joyce, on 04/18/2013

Just before summer begins, 13-year-old Ali finds an odd photograph in the attic. She knows the two children in it are her mother, Claire, and her aunt Dulcie. But who’s the third person, the one who’s been torn out of the picture?

Ali figures she’ll find out while she’s vacationing in Maine with Dulcie and her four-year-old daughter, Emma, in the house where Ali’s mother’s family used to spend summers. All hopes for relaxation are quashed shortly after their arrival, though, when the girls meet Sissy, a kid who’s mean and spiteful and a bad influence on Emma.

Strangest of all, Sissy keeps talking about a girl named Teresa who drowned under mysterious circumstances back when Claire and Dulcie were kids, and whose body was never found. At first Ali thinks Sissy’s just trying to scare her with a ghost story, but soon she discovers the real reason why Sissy is so angry. . . . Mary Downing Hahn is at her chilling best in this new supernatural tale that’s certain to send shivers down her readers’ spines.

14. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Joyce, Teen Books · Tags:

Lost in the River of Grass by Ginny Rorby, 255 pages, read by Joyce, on 04/11/2013

Lost in a River of Grass is in the tradition of survival stories like Hatchet or On My Side of the Mountain, where the young protagonist finds herself as she struggles to survive in an unforgiving wilderness. In this case, the setting is the Everglades, and Sarah, the 13-year-old narrator, sneaks away from an overnight school field trip for what was supposed to be a quick airboat ride with Andy, a boy who lives in the preserve. Naturally, disaster strikes and they’re forced to walk out of the Everglades (they’ve got a knife, a small amount of Gatorade and some suspicious Spam). The author also skillfully layers in a story about overcoming prejudice. Sarah is black and Andy is the son of a Confederate-flag waving self-described redneck.

14. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Joyce, Mystery

Following the Mystery Man by Mary Downing Hahn, 180 pages, read by Joyce, on 04/04/2013

He was busy reading the drugstore bulletin board when Madigan first saw him. He sure was good looking! His hair was dark and he had a full beard with a mustache that curled up on the ends and hid his mouth, just as his silver sunglasses hid his eyes. Then he walked right up to the soda fountain where Madigan and her friend Angie were sipping cherry Cokes, and asked for directions to Madigan’s house! Now the handsome “mystery man” is renting a room in her very own home — and Madigan is about to take some dangerous risks to find who he is.

14. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Wednesdays in the Tower by Jessica Day George, 235 pages, read by Angie, on 05/14/2013

Wednesdays in the Tower picks up after the events of Tuesdays at the Castle. Celie finds an egg in a new tower of the castle, which when it hatches turns out to be a griffin. Rufus, the griffin, imprints on Celie and the Castle obviously only wants Celie to take care of it. While Celie is trying to raise a griffin and find out everything she can about the history of griffins in Castle Glower, the Castle is busy making changes. Instead of just changing on Tuesdays and because of the needs of the inhabitants, the Castle starts bringing in more and more new rooms. A prickly wizard is also poking around the Castle and seems to know more than what he should.

I love this series, but if there is one thing I can’t stand it is a cliffhanger. And this book ends on a doozy! I literally exclaimed (insert appropriate words here!) out loud when I realized I had reached the end of the book and there was no resolution. You have a love a castle that has a mind of its own and is magical. I really enjoyed the fact that we learn more about the Castle’s history and what brought it to Sleyne. I thoroughly enjoy this series and would recommend it to anyone.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.com.

14. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Playing Patience by Tabatha Vargo , 425 pages, read by Jessica, on 05/14/2013

Sometimes all you need is Patience. Life’s been hard for Zeke. Being a punching bag for his alcoholic father has turned him into stone. Not even the dodgy trailer park he lives in can scare him. Fighting is his release and sex, drugs, and his guitar bring him peace, but deep down Zeke isn’t quite as hard as he makes himself out to be. When he meets Patience, she finds all his broken pieces and puts him back together, but she’s a ray of light in his shadowed life and the last thing he wants to do is bring her into his dark world. Playing careless is easy, playing the bad guy can be fun, but playing Patience is impossible, especially when she can see right through him. Zeke isn’t the only one who’s broken, and for the first time, in a long time, Patience feels alive. Her black and white world gets a shot of color when she meets Zeke. He’s unlike anyone she’s ever met with his tattoos, piercings, and blunt honesty. She wants nothing more than to let go and ride the wild side with him, but some wounds never heal and the broken pieces of Patience aren’t so easy to find.


14. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Claim Me by J. Kenner, 386 pages, read by Jessica, on 05/13/2013

For fans of Fifty Shades of Grey and Bared to You comes the second novel in the erotic, fast-paced trilogy that started with Release Me. This sexy, emotionally charged romance continues the story of Damien Stark, the powerful multimillionaire who’s never had to take “no” for an answer, and Nikki Fairchild, the Southern belle who only says “yes” on her own terms.

For Damien, our obsession is a game. For me, it is fiercely, blindingly, real.
Damien Stark’s need is palpable—his need for pleasure, his need for control, his need for me. Beautiful and brilliant yet tortured at his core, he is in every way my match.

I have agreed to be his alone, and now I want him to be fully mine. I want us to possess each other beyond the sweetest edge of our ecstasy, into the deepest desires of our souls. To let the fire that burns between us consume us both.

But there are dark places within Damien that not even our wildest passion can touch. I yearn to know his secrets, yearn for him to surrender to me as I have surrendered to him. But our troubled pasts will either bind us close . . . or shatter us completely.

14. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Janet · Tags:

A Gathering of Days, A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-32 by Joan W. Blos, 144 pages, read by Janet, on 05/13/2013

A Gathering of Days    This is a very interesting diary by a thirteen year old girl (Catherine Hall), living on a farm in New Hampshire during the 1830’s.  Her mother died of fever so she is taking care of her younger sister, Mary Martha, and her father, Charles.  She goes to the little one-room school in the winter and has one friend, Cassie, who doesn’t live too far away to visit.  There is an uprising of black slaves in the south, so when she lost her school book one day and it had a message in it when returned a few days later, she guessed who had taken it.  Being winter, the message asked for food and something to keep the person warm.  She took one of her mother’s old quilts, wrapped it around some food, and left it in the woods so her dad wouldn’t see it.  It did dissapear.  Her father remarried and it took awhile to get used to her new mother and brother, but all worked out well.  The difference in life style and communities then, compared to now is quite unique.

11. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Kristy, NonFiction, Self Help

The Normal Bar by Chrisanna Northrup, 290 pages, read by Kristy, on 05/14/2013

The Normal Bar is an insightful book that gives readers the chance to peek into the relationships of thousands of couples in America and across the globe. the normal barCombining statistics and participant comments, this book presents the reader with what is “normal” in relationships today. Highly recommended.

10. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Janet, Literary Fiction · Tags:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, 311 pages, read by Janet, on 05/06/2013

This is a delightful story of a boy who escaped the killer who murdered his parents when he was just a toddler.  He managed to crawl up the hill from his parents’ home to a graveyard.  The spirits there felt sorry for him and took him in, sheltering him from the killer, who was convinced to leave and forget his reasons for being there.   One couple took over as his parents, providing a snug home for him in the forsaken funeral chapel and a half-way person brought him food and clothing and watched over him when he was big enough to leave the graveyard.  Several of the spirits (who appeared real to Bod) taught him math, reading, and understand others.  Not knowing his name, they named him Nobody and called him “Bod”.  He also learned how to fade into invisibility, go through walls, and see in the dark.  Eventually he began to mature and the killer returned for him.  By this time Bod was very aware of how to use his powers.  I had no ideas before this story how helpful the graveyard souls could be!