29. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Kira

Silent to the Bone by E.L. Konigsburg, read by Kira, on 06/24/2013

SilentToTheBone   I so loved EL  Konigsburg’s previous award-winning book I read “The View from Saturday”, that I had to read more of her work.  Here the protagonist’s best friend, Branwel, is accused of injuring his half-sister and is struck dumb.  Connor is the only one who figures out how to communicate with Branwel and gets to the bottom of this mystery.  The emphasis is on relationships.  Another very enjoyable read!silent2thebonetop-konigsburg

28. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Drama by Raina Telgemeier, read by Angie, on 06/27/2013

Raina Telgemeier is becoming one of my favorite middle grade authors. I adored Smile and think Drama is a wonderful follow-up. In Drama, Callie is a 7th grade girl going through normal middle school stuff. She is a theater geek who likes life behind the scenes working on the sets. She has a wonderfully diverse group of friends and as all middle schoolers experience…there is drama, drama, drama. Callie is worried/noticing boys, wondering who she likes and who likes her. Others around her are experiencing relationship drama as well. I love how this story takes place over the course of the play production, from inception to wrap party. I especially love Telgemeier’s treatment of homosexuality in this book. Middle school is where some kids start questioning their sexuality and wondering who they are supposed to be with. They may have feelings they don’t understand or can’t deal with. In Drama, there are two boys, one admittedly gay and one just coming out. Telgemeier deals with them in a very positive way, in a way that makes everything seem normal and alright (which it completely is). In her world, there are no differences between being gay and straight; your friends still support and love you; your parents might have issues with it, but they still love you as well and want the best for you. I think this book has an extremely welcome and positive message and is a great read for upper elementary/middle school students.

28. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa

Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn, read by Lisa, on 06/27/2013

After decades of service and years of watching her family’s troubles splashed across the tabloids, Britain’s Queen is beginning to feel her age. She needs some proper cheering up. An unexpected opportunity offers her relief: an impromptu visit to a place that holds happy memories; the former royal yacht, Britannia, now moored near Edinburgh. Hidden beneath a skull-emblazoned hoodie, the limber Elizabeth (thank goodness for yoga) walks out of Buckingham Palace into the freedom of a rainy London day and heads for King’s Cross to catch a train to Scotland. But a characterful cast of royal attendants has discovered her missing. In uneasy alliance a lady-in-waiting, a butler, an equerry, a girl from the stables, a dresser, and a clerk from the shop that supplies Her Majesty’s cheese set out to find her and bring her back before her absence becomes a national scandal.

Mrs Queen Takes the Train is a clever novel, offering a fresh look at a woman who wonders if she, like Britannia herself, has, too, become a relic of the past. William Kuhn paints a charming yet biting portrait of British social, political, and generational rivalries between upstairs and downstairs, the monarchy and the government, the old and the young. Comic and poignant, fast paced and clever, this delightful debut tweaks the pomp of the monarchy, going beneath its rigid formality to reveal the human heart of the woman at its center.

28. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen, read by Leslie, on 06/26/2013

The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy, #1)

In the country of Carthya, a devious nobleman engages four orphans in a brutal competition to be selected to impersonate the king’s long-missing son in an effort to avoid a civil war.

Definitely a book to appeal to the boys, it has a really nice twist at the end that all will enjoy.  Usually I can see the twists before they occur, but the author does a really good job keeping this one under wraps until the end.  I may just read the next ones in this series.

28. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Endangered by Eliot Schrefer, read by Leslie, on 06/24/2013

Endangered

Sophie is not happy to be back in the Congo for the summer, but when she rescues an abused baby bonobo she becomes more involved in her mother’s sanctuary–and when fighting breaks out and the sanctuary is attacked, it is up to Sophie to rescue the apes and somehow survive in the jungle.

I did like this book, I learned more about the conflicts that happen in African countries, as well as more about bonobos and their societies than I had known before.  Any reader interested in animal conservation will be sure to enjoy this one.  I wasn’t quite sure that a young girl making her way across hostile territory would have made it as unscathed as Sophie  did would happen in reality, but it makes it a story appropriate for young readers.  Highly recommendable.

27. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Curveball: the Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick, read by Leslie, on 06/22/2013

Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip

After an injury ends former star pitcher Peter Friedman’s athletic dreams, he concentrates on photography which leads him to a girlfriend, new fame as a high school sports photographer, and a deeper relationship with the beloved grandfather who, when he realizes he’s becoming senile, gives Pete all of his professional camera gear.

This is a great cautionary tale told in a way to appeal to kids in 5th grade on up.  Pete thinks he can wait until the end of the season to tell his parents about his elbow. He thinks if he tells his best friend the truth about his never playing ball again, that he will lose his best friend.  He thinks that if he tells his parents about his grandfather’s troubles, that his grandfather might not trust him.  What Pete learns in the end, as well as his parents, that talking to your friends and families about issues and troubles could prevent a lot of heartache in the future.  He also learned that love transcends it all.  Highly recommendable book.

27. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid, read by Leslie, on 06/21/2013

Insignia (Insignia, #1)

Tom, a fourteen-year-old genius at virtual reality games, is recruited by the United States military to begin training at the Pentagon Spire as a combatant in World War III, controlling the mechanized drones that do the actual fighting off-planet.

In this futuristic view, the world is controlled by conglomerates and wars are fought in space through virtual reality game playing teens.  I like science fiction and the thought that businesses could completely control our world seems more of a reality when you look at what happens in politics today.  The thought that war could be fought in space with no loss of life and destruction of the planet is really appealing but definitely fictional.  I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to explore science fiction as it doesn’t really dive too deeply into technical terminology or seem too futuristic to be believable.

27. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Steam-punk, Teen Books

The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry, read by Leslie, on 06/17/2013

The Peculiars

Eighteen-year-old Lena Mattacascar sets out for Scree, a weird place inhabited by Peculiars, seeking the father who left when she was young, but on the way she meets young librarian Jimson Quiggley and handsome marshall Thomas Saltre, who complicate her plans.

If you like steampunk you’ll probably enjoy this story, it’s got those unusual characters we come to expect and it’s setting is historical but in another land not in our reality.  Lena journeys for Scree to find out whether or not she is really a Peculiar by finding her father.  It was enjoyable enough to read, but I’m not quite sure I enjoyed parts of the book that seemed to lurch through the telling.

27. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

Betrayal of Trust by J.A. Jance, read by Leslie, on 06/14/2013

Betrayal of Trust (J.P. Beaumont, #20)

Seattle P.I. J. P. Beaumont uncovers a crime that has a devastating effect on two troubled teens and becomes even more of a firestorm when it reaches into the halls of state government.

This was my ‘adult’ read of the month and my get-away book.  Not as quick as the teen and childrens books I’ve been reading, but a refreshing change.  Another good book by Jance, I love her characters and getting lost in the story, wherever it takes me.  If you like her books, then you’ll like this one.

27. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen, read by Leslie, on 06/11/2013

Chomp

When the difficult star of the reality television show “Expedition Survival” disappears while filming an episode in the Florida Everglades using animals from the wildlife refuge run by Wahoo Crane’s family, Wahoo and classmate Tuna Gordon set out to find him while avoiding Tuna’s gun-happy father.

While not exactly a survival in the Everglades story, Hiaasen once again focuses on animal conservation, in his own way.  I really enjoyed the story, it had a bit of excitement, a bit of suspense, a little bit of boy meets girl and reality tv. This story made me laugh and I would recommend it to all of my students.

27. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie

See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles, read by Leslie, on 06/10/2013

See You at Harry's

Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible in her family, where grumpy eighteen-year-old Sarah is working at the family restaurant, fourteen-year-old Holden is struggling with school bullies and his emerging homosexuality, and adorable, three-year-old Charlie is always the center of attention, and when tragedy strikes, the fragile bond holding the family together is stretched almost to the breaking point.

If you have students who like to read books that will make them cry, then this is the book for them.  It takes the family a while to learn to lean on each other after tragedy strikes them and even I kept looking for signs that it hadn’t really happened.  A very good, quick read, unless you don’t like sad stories.

27. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie

Wonder by R.J. Palacio, read by Leslie, on 06/09/2013

Wonder

Ten-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive, goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan, which entails enduring the taunting and fear of his classmates as he struggles to be seen as just another student.

You start out by understanding why Auggie’s parents kept him at home, to applauding his decision to immerse himself in a place that he knows will probably not end well, to cheering him on as he slowly gets those around him to look beyond the surface to the person beneath.  This is a book I would recommend to all my students, especially the ones who tend not to be so empathetic to others.

27. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Skinny by Donna Cooner, read by Leslie, on 06/07/2013

Skinny

After undergoing gastric-bypass surgery, a self-loathing, obese teenaged girl loses weight and makes the brave decision to start participating in high school life, including pursuing her dream of becoming a singer and finding love.

Ever is 15 and fat, not that she has always been overweight, but now she lets it rule her life.  Her mother has died, her father remarries and although her stepmother tries to befriend her, Ever imagines that she could never find anything about her stepmother and stepsisters that would make them comfortable with each other.  In order to make her father happy, or so she imagines, she undergoes surgery and not only does she lose weight, but she gains more than she ever imagined she could.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone, skinny or not.

27. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Fitz by Mick Cochrane, read by Leslie, on 06/02/2013

Fitz

Fifteen-year-old Fitzgerald—Fitz, to his friends—has just learned that his father, whom he’s never met, who supports him but is not a part of his life, is living nearby. Fitz begins to follow him, watch him, study him, and on an otherwise ordinary May morning, he executes a plan to force his father, at gunpoint, to be with him.

This is a very quick read, fast-paced as the story takes place during the course of one day in the life of Fitz.  I can see the appeal to boys for this story, although girls could learn something by reading it.  Fitz learns that one side of the story and his imaginings of his father’s motives don’t even come close to the truth.  Anyone reading this should learn that there are always 2 sides to a story and to take time to think before acting upon impulses.

27. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, read by Leslie, on 06/06/2013

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)

Orphaned by the Border Wars, Alina Starkov is taken from obscurity and her only friend, Mal, to become the protegé of the mysterious Darkling, who trains her to join the magical elite in the belief that she is the Sun Summoner, who can destroy the monsters of the Fold.

The book was enjoyable, teen has a deeply buried power that she doesn’t realize she has.  She is the only one who can save her country but can she overcome the evil guy trying to enslave her power for herself while learning she is really in love with her best friend?  A different twist  to the normal teen angst line, a little predictable, but teens will most likely love it if they enjoy this genre.

27. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Award Winner, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Food, Kira · Tags:

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender, read by Kira, on 06/13/2013

On her 9th birthdayparticularsadness cake  Rose discovers that she can taste the emotions of the people who prepared the food she eats; thus discovering the emptiness and discontent her Mother represses.

This is a story of attempting to forge meaningful connections within one’s family and beyond.

The atmosphere reminded me of that found in the title “A Certain Slant of Light”, though Sadness is far more realistic and grounded (yes it contains a small amount of magical realism).

27. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Historical Fiction

Mrs Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini, read by Helen, on 06/20/2013

Presents a fictionalized account of the friendship between Mary Todd Lincoln and her dressmaker Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave.

27. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen

The art of racing in the rain by Garth Stein., read by Helen, on 06/12/2013

Nearing the end of his life, Enzo, a dog with a philosopher’s soul, tries to bring together the family, pulled apart by a three year custody battle between daughter Zoe’s maternal grandparents and her father Denny, a race car driver.

27. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Horror, Mystery

Joyland by Stephen King, read by Helen, on 06/05/2013

Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever.

27. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Beauty From Surrender by Georgia Cates, read by Jessica, on 06/18/2013

How do you move on when he’s every song you sing? After Laurelyn Prescott walks away from the love of her life, she returns to Nashville to pursue the only dream she has left. Determined to find a distraction from the pain of losing Jack Henry, she immerses herself in her music. But with her old life comes old acquaintances and new expectations. When Laurelyn refuses her record producer’s outrageous demands, she finds herself without a career—until an unforeseen opportunity presents itself. From there it’s a rocket ride straight to the top where Laurelyn finds the success she’s always dreamed of. Will it be enough to bring her the happiness she so deserves, or will the absence of Jack Henry leave her wanting more? Jack Henry McLachlan never expected to fall in love with Laurelyn Prescott—but he did. After he foolishly let her slip through his fingers, he spends three months searching for her, but their reunion doesn’t come easy. The woman he finds isn’t the same one who drifted away without a goodbye. No longer an insecure girl on an Australian adventure, this Laurelyn is a successful musician with a promising career. Her dreams are becoming a reality, and Jack is terrified his American girl won’t have a place for him in her new life. With only a month to convince her otherwise, will it be enough time to make her visualize a life beyond the glitz and glamour, a life that includes him?