29. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson, 194 pages, read by Angie, on 07/27/2013

Chasing Lincoln’s Killer is a fast-paced, exciting read. It details the plot to kill Lincoln and the manhunt for Booth afterwards. There is a lot of details about why John Wilkes Booth wanted to kill the president, how he set it up, and how he escaped into the Maryland/Virginia countryside. There are also a lot of details about how General Stanton took over the death watch for Lincoln and the manhunt for Booth. This book reads like fiction even though it is nonfiction. I listened to the audio and Will Patton has the perfect voice for this type of material. It was compelling and fascinating.

29. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Helen

The Ocean at the end of the lane by Neil Gaiman, 259 pages, read by Helen, on 07/18/2013

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

29. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Thriller/Suspense

Stay close by Harlan Coben, 399 pages, read by Helen, on 07/11/2013

Megan is a suburban soccer mom who once upon a time walked on the wild side. Now she’s got two kids, a perfect husband, a picket fence, and a growing sense of dissatisfaction. Ray used to be a talented documentary photographer, but at age forty he finds himself in a dead- end job posing as a paparazzo pandering to celebrity-obsessed rich kids. Jack is a detective who can’t let go of a cold case-a local husband and father disappeared seventeen years ago, and Jack spends the anniversary every year visiting a house frozen in time, the missing man’s family still waiting, his slippers left by the recliner as if he might show up any moment to step into them.

Three people living lives they never wanted, hiding secrets that even those closest to them would never suspect, will find that the past doesn’t recede. Even as the terrible consequences of long-ago events crash together in the present and threaten to ruin lives, they will come to the startling realization that they may not want to forget the past at all. And as each confronts the dark side of the American Dream- the boredom of a nice suburban life, the excitement of temptation, the desperation and hunger that can lurk behind even the prettiest facades- they will discover the hard truth that the line between one kind of life and another can be as whisper-thin as a heartbeat.

29. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Thriller/Suspense

Darkness under the sun by Dean Koontz, 62 pages, read by Helen, on 07/04/2013

The chilling account of a pivotal encounter between innocence and ultimate malice, ‘Darkness Under the Sun’ is the perfect read for Halloween — or for any haunted night — and reveals a secret, fateful turning point in the career of Alton Turner Blackwood, the killer at the dark heart of ‘What the Night Knows’, the forthcoming novel by #1 New York Times bestselling author Dean Koontz.

There once was a killer who knew the night, its secrets and rhythms. How to hide within its shadows. When to hunt.

He roamed from town to town, city to city, choosing his prey for their beauty and innocence. His cruelties were infinite, his humanity long since forfeit. But still . . . he had not yet discovered how to make his special mark among monsters, how to come fully alive as Death.

This is the story of how he learned those things, and of what we might do to ensure that he does not visit us.

29. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Helen

Quail Crossings by Jennifer McMurrain, 310 pages, read by Helen, on 07/24/2013

Tragedy has struck the small town of Knollwood, Texas and Dovie Grant finds herself dealing with the loss of her husband and daughter. Despite her grief, she still must fight to bring her remaining family through the already trying times of The Great Depression. Her father needs help on their struggling farm, Quail Crossings. She isn’t thrilled that he’s hired a young 18 year old boy who’s caring for his three younger siblings. Surviving her grief, as well as the constant dust storms that plague the plains, will Dovie be able to put her pain aside to care for these children or be forever trapped in the darkness of the loss in her family.

29. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Thriller/Suspense

A Good and happy child by Justin Evans, 322 pages, read by Helen, on 07/17/2013

Thirty-year-old George Davies can’t bring himself to hold his newborn son. After months of accepting his lame excuses and strange behavior, his wife has had enough. She demands that he see a therapist, and George, desperate to save his unraveling marriage and redeem himself as a father and husband, reluctantly agrees. As he delves into his childhood memories, he begins to recall things he hasn’t thought of in twenty years. Events, people, and strange situations come rushing back. The odd, rambling letters his father sent home before he died. The jovial mother who started dating too soon after his father’s death. A boy who appeared one night when George was lonely, then told him secrets he didn’t want to know. How no one believed this new friend was real and that he was responsible for the bad things that were happening. Terrified by all that he has forgotten, George struggles to remember what really happened in the months following his father’s death. Were his ominous visions and erratic behavior the product of a grief-stricken child’s overactive imagination (a perfectly natural reaction to the trauma of loss, as his mother insisted)? Or were his father’s colleagues, who blamed a darker, more malevolent force, right to look to the supernatural as a means to end George’s suffering? Twenty years later, George still does not know. But when a mysterious murder is revealed, remembering the past becomes the only way George can protect himself–and his young family.

29. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Mystery

Sacrifice fly by Tim O'Mara, 307 pages, read by Helen, on 07/10/2013

Raymond Donne wasn’t always a schoolteacher. Not only did he patrol the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, as one of New York’s Finest, but being the nephew of the chief of detectives, he was expected to go on to bigger things. At least he was until the accident that all but destroyed his knees. Unable to do the job the way he wanted, he became a teacher in the same neighborhood, and did everything he could to put the force behind him and come to terms with the change. Then Frankie Rivas, a student in Ray’s class and a baseball phenom, stops showing up to school. With Frankie in danger of failing and missing out on a scholarship, Ray goes looking for him only to find Frankie’s father bludgeoned to death in their apartment. Frankie and his younger sister are gone, possibly on the run. But did Frankie really kill his father? Ray can’t believe it. But then who did, and where are Frankie and his sister?

29. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Historical Fiction

Benjamin Franklin's bastard by Sally Cabot, 353 pages, read by Helen, on 07/03/2013

Sixteen-year-old Anne is an uneducated serving girl at the Penny Pot tavern when she first meets the commanding Benjamin Franklin. The time she spends with the brilliant young printer teases her curious mind, and the money he provides keeps her family from starving. But the ambitious Franklin is committed to someone else, a proper but infatuated woman named Deborah Read who becomes his common-law wife. At least Anne has William, her cherished infant son, to remind her of his father and to soften some of life’s bleakness.

But growing up a bastard amid the squalor of Eades Alley isn’t the life Anne wants for her only son. Acutely aware of the challenges facing them, she makes a heartbreaking sacrifice. She will give up William forever, allowing Benjamin and Deborah Franklin to raise him as their own.

Though she cannot be with him, Anne secretly watches out for her beloved child, daring to be close to him without revealing the truth about herself or his birth, and standing guard as Deborah Franklin struggles to accept her husband’s bastard son as her own.

As the years pass, the bustling colonies grow and prosper, offering opportunities for wealth and power for a talented man like William’s father. Benjamin’s growing fame and connections as a scientist, writer, philosopher, businessman, and political genius open doors for the astute William as well, and eventually King George III appoints Benjamin’s bastard son to the new position of Royal Governor of New Jersey. Anne’s fortunes also rise. A shrewd woman of many talents, she builds a comfortable life of her own;yet nothing fills her with more joy or pride than her son’s success and happiness.

But all that her accomplished son has achieved is threatened when the colonies led by influential men, including his own father; begin the fight for independence. A steadfast, loyal subject of the British Crown, William cannot accept his father’s passionate defense of the patriots’ cause, and the enduring bond they share fractures, a heart-wrenching break that will forever haunt them and those they love.

26. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman, 104 pages, read by Angie, on 07/21/2013

Odd and the Frost Giants is the tale of young Odd who meets a bear, a fox and an eagle while out in the woods. Turns out they are Thor, Odin and Loki transformed into animals by a Frost Giant. A Frost Giant tricked Loki into stealing Thor’s hammer and giving it to the giant. They were then transformed and kicked out of Asgard. So it is up to Odd to defeat the Frost Giant and return the gods to their rightful place.

This is a fun little Norse Mythology tale. It does incorporate several traditional aspects of the Norse Mythology. I listened to the audiobook and Neil Gaiman narrates it beautifully; he is a natural storyteller. Even though this is a children’s book, it does hint at some more adult themes, which I am sure will go over the kids’ heads. It was a fun read and one I am sure fans of Gaiman will enjoy.

26. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction

North of Nowhere by Liz Kessler, 272 pages, read by Angie, on 07/25/2013

Mia comes to Porthaven because her grandpa has gone missing. Her grandma and mom are devastated. In Porthaven, there isn’t a lot to do but worry and work in the pub her grandparents own. While she is out exploring one day, Mia discovers a boat and on the boat is a diary of a young girl, also frustrated with how she is spending her days. Mia starts writing to Dee in the diary and even though they have never met, Dee responds. Then Mia meets Peter, another teen vacationing in Porthaven. They become friends and Mia shares her frustration with never seeing Dee. Peter decides to take the boat and pick her up on the island she lives on. Then Peter disappears, or did he? Mia and Peter’s sister Sal set out to discover what happened to Peter and why things seem to appear different when they are on the boat.

I wasn’t sure where this book was going when I started reading it, but it ended up being a nice little time travel story. The mystery of it kept me turning the pages as I really wanted to know what happened to Peter and Mia’s grandpa. I loved the twist at the end. Didn’t see it coming and thought it made the story really interesting.

I received a copy of this book from the publishers on Netgalley. Thank you!

24. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Janet, Romance · Tags:

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks, 240 pages, read by Janet, on 07/23/2013

A Walk to Remember     Although this is written as the thoughts and actions of a seventeen year old boy, it was very easy to feel a part of the story.  Landon was ready to enjoy his senior year in high school and certainly didn’t expect to have special feelings for the quiet daughter of the town’s Baptist minister.  Life works in strange ways, though, and he found himself in a play where she was the Christmas angel.  Somehow this girl who always wore a brown sweater and her hair in a bun on her head changed completely and was radiently beautiful!  As he got to know her better he realized how kind and cheerful she always was and his feelings deepened.

Things don’t always work out the way we would like, though, and Landon learned to accept heartbreaking fate with adult decisions.  The ending was sad, but with understanding of the deep feelings that would stay with Landon the rest of his life.

23. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction

The Last Present by Wendy Mass, 256 pages, read by Angie, on 07/22/2013

The Last Present is the final book in the Willow Falls series. In this one we finally learn what Amanda and Leo are supposed to do and we get Angelina’s history. Connor’s sister Grace falls into a coma and no one can figure out why. No one except Angelina of course. She never got the chance to finish her benediction/blessing on Grace when she was born and every year she has been thwarted from doing it. Now time is up and it is up to Amanda and Leo to fix things. They must travel back in time to each of Grace’s birthdays and try to fix things.

This has been a fun series. I really enjoyed all the characters and how their lives where affected by Angelina’s meddling. I especially enjoyed learning more about Angelina’s history and how she came to be able to do what she does. I think kids will really appreciate how Mass wrapped up her storylines in this finale.

I received an ARC of this book from Scholastic at the 2013 ALA Conference. Thank you!

23. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Romance, Teen Books

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls #1) by Ally Carter, 284 pages, read by Angie, on 07/21/2013

Everyone thinks the Gallagher Girls Academy for Exceptional Girls is a boarding school for snooty rich girls. They are wrong. Gallagher Girls have a long and distinguished history, one that requires very high security clearance. Gallagher Academy is a boarding school for girls, but the classes they teach are much different; here they learn espionage and spy craft. The Gallagher Girls are training in weapons, covert ops, and languages; all in the hopes of preparing them for lives as spies. Cammmie Morgan is a Gallagher Girl legacy, her mom is the head of the school. Cammie is known as the Chameleon because she can blend in anywhere. So what happens when a boy notices her on a mission. Can Cammie and her friends deal with dating? Not the same way a normal girl would!

I think Ally Carter is a wonderful writer. Her books are extremely entertaining and funny. I loved the thought of these teen girls using a crush to practice their skills. They use everything from surveillance to hacking to going through garbage and more. This book is light-hearted, entertaining and laugh-out-loud funny at times. I would definitely recommend it and plan on reading more of the series.

23. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

The Death Catchers by Jennifer Anne Kogler , 352 pages, read by Angie, on 07/19/2013

Lizzie is your normal girl; surviving high school, crushing on a cute boy, putting up with her crazy parents and grandma. Then one day the paper she is reading morphs into something else. It predicts the death of her best friend. Suddenly, Lizzie’s world is turned upside down. She learns she is a descendant of the Ladies of the Lake, the sisters charged with protecting Avalon and King Arthur. Her grandma Bizzy is also a Death Catcher. Because of their heritage they are shown the possible deaths of those they care about and it is up to them to stop it from happening. So Lizzie saves her friend fairly easily, but the next death is her crush and it turns out more is going on.

I thought this was a fun read. I like how the history of Arthur and Morgan le Faye was tied into Lizzie and Bizzie’s gift/curse. I wish their was more info on Drake’s legacy, but that may come up in another book. I enjoyed the fast pace and the mystery of this story. Bizzie especially is super entertaining…I loved her pearls throughout.

2013-14 Truman Award Nominee.

23. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Biographies, History, Kim B · Tags:

Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project by Jack Mayer, 382 pages, read by Kim, on 07/19/2013

Based on the true story of Irena Sendler, a Holocaust hero, and the Kansas teens who ‘rescued the rescuer’.

I loved this book. Couldn’t put it down!

23. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Historical Fiction, Kim B

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, 216 pages, read by Kim, on 07/22/2013

Bored and lonely after his family moves from Berlin to a place called “Out-With” in 1942, Bruno, the son of a Nazi officer, befriends a boy in striped pajamas who lives behind a wire fence.

This was also a very short read but very powerful.

23. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Historical Fiction, Kim B · Tags:

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, 165 pages, read by Kim, on 07/21/2013

World War I has started and the military needs horses to move equipment, charge the enemy, and carry wounded soldiers off the battlefield. Joey, a farm horse is sold to the Army. Joey misses the farmer’s son, Albert, and spends the war years wondering if the war will ever end and if he will ever see Albert again.

It was a short but very powerful read. I loved the story.

22. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Science Fiction

Under the Dome by Stephen King, 1074 pages, read by Brian, on 07/19/2013

Under the Dome takes place in Chester’s Mill, Maine, a town King uses in his novels from time to time.  The lives of the people of this small quaint town are abruptly torn apart when a giant dome falls over their town.  No way in and no way out and it’s worse if the dome came down upon you.   Like caged animals, you learn the true nature of your fellow neighbor when there is no place to hide.   How did the dome come to life?  Is it a government study or maybe aliens…man made or mass hysteria…read and find out.


22. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Children's Books, Pamela

Maria von Trapp: Beyond the Sound of Music by Candice F. Ransom, 112 pages, read by Pamela, on 07/22/2013

von trappAnyone who has seen The Sound of Music knows how Maria von Trapp’s life began–but what happened after the final scene? Discover what Maria’s life was like after fleeing Nazi-occupied Austria for America. With intriguing facts about her life in the nunnery, her romance with Captain von Trapp, their ten children, and their singing careers, this inspiring story reaches beyond The Sound of Music–and reveals the courage and determination of a kind, energetic, and very real woman.

I watch the “Sound of Music” every winter, but did not realize how much of a life Maria von Trapp lived after the movie ended.  A wonderful read for young and old.

22. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Brian, Fantasy, Fiction

Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, 181 pages, read by Brian, on 07/11/2013

I finished this book around the midnight hour and after I read the last page, I yelled, “More! More! More!”. Gaiman has the most vivid imagination of any writer today.  His books always makes the reader yearning for his next novel.  This book takes place Sussex, England, where the narrator, a middle aged man, tells the magical story of his youth.  We are told about a nasty nanny, dangerous bird like creatures and an unusual family who has an ocean on their farm.