20. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Christian, Fiction, Kristin, Teen Books

Roadside Assistance by Amy Clipston, 280 pages, read by Kristin, on 07/19/2013

Sixteen year old Emily Curtis has had a tough year.  Her mother dies, her father loses his auto-repair business and subsequently their home and Emily’s boyfriend breaks up with her.  Now, they have moved in with her over-bearing wealthy aunt and uncle.  Could her life get any worse?  Oh yeah, her once deep relationship with God is now non-existent.  Christian author, Amy Clipston draws the reader into Emily’s struggles and attempts to rekindle her relationship with God.  This book was an easy read and if you are a very emotional reader, grab that box of Kleenex.  By the end of the book, I had puffy eyes and a stuffed up nose!  I highly recommend this book (and also her other book series, The Kauffman Amish Bakery).

19. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Janet, Teen Books · Tags:

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer, 563 pages, read by Janet, on 07/19/2013

New Moon   This  was my first time to read any of this series where a teenage girl is drawn to a werewolf and a vampire.  Both love her and are enemies.  There are good descriptions of how they use their special powers and how the characters feel about those around them.  Bella loved life, but is temped to end it so she can join Edward, who is a vampire.  She has many adventures that endanger her life, such as learning to ride a motorcycle while listening to voices in her head, and crashing.  Of course her dad doesn’t appreciate her friends and strange adventures, but they come to agreements.  I will have to check out the next book, Eclipse, to see what is pahhening next and if Bella graduates from high school and goes to college as she planned.

18. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Falling Into Us by Jasinda Wilder, 515 pages, read by Jessica, on 07/17/2013

Nell Hawthorne is in love with her life-long best friend, Kyle Calloway. Their young love is invincible and life is full of promise; then one night Kyle dies suddenly in a tragic accident and Nell is forever changed. She meets Kyle’s older brother Colton for the first time at the funeral. They both struggle to move on with life as best they can. Years later, they meet again in New York City, and Colton realizes that Nell has never really gotten over Kyle’s death. She seems to be harboring a deeply rooted pain, a heavy weight of guilt and regret. He knows he shouldn’t get involved, but he can’t help himself. Trust doesn’t come easily for either of them, and they both have demons. Together, they learn the purpose of pain and the meaning of healing, and the importance of forgiveness.

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

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine, 224 pages, read by Angie, on 07/17/2013

Caitlyn is different from those around her. Her connection to the world, her brother Devin, is gone. Taken in a tragic school shooting on The Day Our World Fell Apart. Caitlyn’s dad isn’t handling the loss very well; neither Caitlyn nor her father have found Closure. With the help of her school counselor, Caitlyn tries to navigate making friends, being empathetic and finding closure. It is not easy for her and she has a lot of missteps, but in the end they do find a bit of closure for themselves and the community.

This was a wonderful book and highly deserving of the National Book Award. It really does give a glimpse into the life of a child with Asperger’s. Caitlyn doesn’t think or act like we do. She has a set of rules that helps her deal with other people and the world around her. She takes everything literally and doesn’t understand a lot of what people are saying because they don’t say what they mean. Caitlyn’s story is a touching one and beautifully written. The story really draws you in and makes you want to keep reading. I highly recommend this one.

18. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Cloaked by Alex Flinn, 341 pages, read by Angie, on 07/15/2013

Johnny works for his family shoe repair business in a swanky hotel in South Beach. One day Princess Victorianna comes to stay. She is rich and beautiful and Johnny is enchanted. Turns out so is her brother; Prince Philipe has been turned into a frog by a witch and Victorianna needs Johnny’s help to rescue him. Of course, she promises to marry him if he succeeds. So Johnny sets of on his quest to find the frog prince; to help him along the way he has a magical cloak that will transport him anywhere, magic earbuds to speak to animals who were once people, and lots of talking animals who were once people. His best friend Meg turns up just when he is captured by the evil witch and together they continue the quest. Of course, once the curse is broken (by Meg) Prince Phillipe promises to marry her and Johnny realizes he is in love with Meg not Victorianna.

This book combines a lot of obscure fairy tales that readers may nto be aware of, like the six swans or the golden bird and the fox. They tie together nicely in this story. It is a fun, fantastical romp that will keep readers interested throughout. My problem with it was that it seemed to be written by a man and aimed at young males. Everyone is “hot” and the story is very much a teen fantasy: Poor boy meets princess who promises him love and riches. I didn’t think it was the best written even though the story itself was ok

18. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Elizabeth, Fantasy, Fiction

Hunted by Kevin Hearne, 384 pages, read by Elizabeth, on 07/16/2013

I just finished Hunted by Kevin Hearne, the sixth in the Iron Druid Chronicles. It was, like the previous books in the series, absolutely fantastic. This is urban fantasy at its best.
Hearne’s series tells the story of Atticus O’Sullivan (an alias for Siodhachan O Suileabhain), a 2100-year-old Druid who finally stands up to one bully only to find himself in deeper and deeper trouble. Atticus has a faithful companion in his Irish Wolfhound Oberon, whose hilarious comments provide much-needed comic relief in the midst of Atticus’s life running from one disaster to the next. Atticus and Oberon also have a new companion, a newly minted Druid named Granuaile with whom Atticus is in love. In Hunted, Atticus, Oberon and Granuaile find themselves in the familiar position of running, this time from angry Olympians out for blood.
The story is action-packed, full of twists and turns, smart and funny. I absolutely loved it. My only complaint is that now that I’ve finished it, I have to wait for the next Iron Druid story.

18. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Elizabeth, Fiction, Science Fiction

Old Man's War by John Scalzi, 355 pages, read by Elizabeth, on 07/15/2013

 

I’ve been reading John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, the first in the series by the same name. It is, as expected, fantastic. Fans of hard sci fi and character-driven sci fi are sure to love it.
Scalzi, the mind behind Star Gate Universe, successfully blends the cold logic of military science fiction with the emotionally driven character drama he brought to SGU. This is a mix that could go horribly wrong, but Scalzi gets it right. The only thing I would change is the long build-up, but even that isn’t terrible.
Old Man’s War is a fantastic story. It combines action, adventure, war, friendship, exploration and even love. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

17. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Russell, Science Fiction

Freedom! by Martin H. Greenberg & Mark Tier (editors), 516 pages, read by Russell, on 07/14/2013

Freedom book cover      This book is a compilation of two previous anthologies: “Give Me Liberty” and “Visions of Liberty,” containing 17 short stories in total. They contain a mixture of old classics by renowned science fiction writers, and newer stories with the same theme: the pursuit of freedom and liberty in the near and distant future, both on Earth and in outer space.  The stories tend towards a libertarian or anarchist outlook, though are not limited to those philosophies.  Some of the stories show how a truly free and cooperative society could operate, and these speculations, though not always practical in the real world, are intriguing.  Other stories show how a “primitive” society could successfully resist a large Empire.

Most of these stories were new to me, though several of them (“And Then There Were None” by Eric Frank Russell, and “The Weapon Shop” by A.E. van Vogt) are old favorites and are some of my favorite stories of all time.  The quality of the stories in this collection is consistently high, and other featured authors include Lloyd Biggle, Jr., Vernor Vinge, Murray Leinster, Frank Herbert, Robert Sawyer, Michael Stackpole, Jack Williamson, and James P. Hogan.  I highly recommend this collection!

16. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

If I Stay by Gayle Forman, 201 pages, read by Kira, on 07/14/2013

If i staySeventeen year old Mia has a prolonged out-of-body experience after a devastating car accident, that leaves her body wrecked and bereft of most family.  She then considers whether life is worth hanging on to, whether it will be worth living.  The majority of the book recalls her relationships with key people in her life.  I enjoyed reading the book and didn’t want to put it down.200px-If_i_stay_book_cover

15. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Kristin · Tags:

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard, 244 pages, read by Kristin, on 07/13/2013

An escaped convict enlists the help of a mentally unstable woman and her 13 year old son to help him evade law enforcement over the Labor Day holiday.  During those six days, the man and woman fall in love and the make a plan for the family to escape to Canada.  The story, told from the view of the boy, has as much to do with him coming of age as it does with the relationship between mother and convict.

I found the story engaging (enough so that I read the book in two sittings) although the whole time I was reading, I kept thinking that the plot was completely unbelieveable.  Who in their right mind would willingly allow a convict into her home, live with him for 6 days, then make plans to run away together?  But, then again, I’m neither super adventurous nor diagnosed as mentally ill.  That could be the difference.

The movie, based on the book, will be released on December 25th and stars Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin.

15. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Losing Hope by Colleen Hoover, 336 pages, read by Jessica, on 07/14/2013

Haunted by the little girl he couldn’t save from imminent danger, Holder’s life has been overshadowed by feelings of guilt and remorse. He has never stopped searching for her, believing that finding her would bring him the peace he needs to move on. However, Holder could not have anticipated that he would be faced with even greater pain the moment they reconnect.

In Losing Hope, Holder reveals the way in which the events of Sky’s youth affected him and his family, leading him to seek his own redemption in the act of saving her. But it is only in loving Sky that he can finally begin to heal himself.

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

Discovering the Iceman by Shelley Tanaka, 48 pages, read by Angie, on 07/12/2013

In 1991, a couple hiking in the Alps discovered the frozen remains of a man. At first many thought the man was a lost hiker, but it turns out he was 5300 years old. His body had been preserved in the ice on the mountain for all those years. It was only discovered because the ice had been retreating and melting. Scientists studied the remains and learned a lot about this prehistoric man. He died where he was found and had many artifacts with him, including jewelry, weapons, tools and clothing. We may never know exactly what happened to this man, but his discovery was very interesting.

This book talks about the discovery of the man, his possible life and what we learned from him. Tanaka did a great job researching the find and its importance. I especially enjoyed the side items explaining things that were discussed in the text; like prehistoric tools, glaciers, and animals.

15. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction

Fallout by Todd Strasser, 272 pages, read by Angie, on 07/12/2013

What if the Cuban Missile Crisis didn’t end with both sides backing down? What if Russia really did drop bombs on the US? And what if your family was the only one with a bomb shelter?

This is the premise for Fallout by Todd Strasser. The neighbors think Scott’s dad is crazy when he installs a bomb shelter under a new addition to the house, but when the bombs start dropping everyone wants in. In the end, several neighbors manage to push their way into the shelter with Scott’s family. His mom gets hurt in the process. So now the shelter, which was meant for four, holds ten and tensions are on the rise. There isn’t enough food or water or air for everyone. One of the other men keeps pushing at Scott’s dad and his mom is suffering from a head injury. They have no idea what has happened above or who has even survived.

The story is told in alternating chapters with the current events in the bomb shelter and the events leading up to the present. Scott and his friends are normal kids at that time. His friend Ronnie is all about the girls…he is only interested in girls and boobs and Playboys. He and his mom and dad have made it into the shelter. The one girl on the block also made it in with her dad (who is causing all the tension), but her mom and brother did not. Scott’s brother and their housekeeper are also present. After who knows how many days, they are out of food, too tired to do anything and running out of time. They must get out, but is it safe above?

I really enjoyed this book. It seemed very true to the time with the paranoia and indifference. I thought the tension in the shelter was spot on. These people were confined in too tight quarters with not enough supplies and no idea what is happening in the outside world. Tensions are bound to rise. I think my only complaint, and it is a minor one, was the names for the neighborhood kids. Besides Scott and Ronnie, no one has a normal name! They have names like: Freak O’ Nature, Sparky, Why Can’t You Be More Like Johnny, Puddin’ Belly Wright and so forth. Seriously! It got confusing and old. Other than that I really liked the book. It is set up as a series as this one ends on a question mark.

I received this book from the Publishers on Netgalley.com. Thanks!

15. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kim, Mystery

Nuremberg: The Reckoning by William F. Buckley, Jr., 366 pages, read by Kim, on 07/07/2013

Nuremberg’s Palace of Justice, 1945:
the scene of a trial without precedent in history, a trial that continues to haunt the modern world. Leading the reader into the Palace is Sebastian, a young German-American whose fate is to be intimately involved with the lives and deaths of others: the father who disappeared mysteriously, the ancestors whose stories become vitally relevant, and some of the towering figures of twentieth-century legal history, including Justice Robert Jackson, Albert Speer, Hermann Goering, and the dark, untried shadow of Adolf Hitler. In a gripping account of warmakers who must face the consequences of their actions, Nuremberg: The Reckoning flows through Warsaw, Berlin, Lodz, Munich, Hamburg, and finally Nuremberg, as Sebastian, an interpreter-interrogator, comes to terms with his family legacy and his national identity. With his customary authority and audacity, William F. Buckley Jr. has taken a pivotal moment in history and shaped it into absorbing and original fiction. The result is a riveting novel of insight and deep understanding exploring the characters and issues that made history.

Great Book!!!!!

15. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Inspirational, Kim, NonFiction

The Ancestral Continuum: Unlock the Secrets of Who You Really Are by Nalalia O' Sullivan and Nicola Graydon, 280 pages, read by Kim, on 07/06/2013

The Ancestral Continuum is an extraordinary investigation into the spiritual and emotional legacies we inherit at our birth from our ancestors, and a powerful and revolutionary blueprint for transforming how we feel about ourselves. The book takes you on a journey to discover how humanity, throughout time and around the world, acknowledges loved ones who have died and honors those who came before them. And it will give you the tools to explore your family tree, meet your ancestors anew and find your way through the labyrinth of your own legacy. You will begin to see yourself as just one strand in a never-ending tapestry of history and emotion, personality and achievement, tragedy and death, that will continue through your family into eternity.There is a massive interest worldwide in people tracing their roots. But researching into our forebears’ lives often unearths surprising or turbulent histories. The past 250 years have seen more change and upheaval than at any other point in history, and almost everyone alive now will have ancestors whose lives were touched by war, migration, mass upheavals and major turning points in society. Although we may not know their names, the stories of these ancestors have an impact on our lives now and will in the future. We are all connected. By remembering those who have gone before us, we can step into our true power and realize our highest potential.

This book is a great addition in helping to discover your family tree.

15. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Kim

The Storyteller by Jodi Piccoult, 460 pages, read by Kim, on 07/14/2013

Sage Singer becomes friends with an old man who’s particularly beloved in her community after they strike up a conversation at the bakery where she works. Josef Weber is everyone’s favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses, but then he tells her he deserves to die. Once he reveals his secret, Sage wonders if he’s right. What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who’s committed a truly heinous act ever redeem themselves with good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren’t the party who was wronged? And most of all–if Sage even considers his request–is it murder, or justice?

I absolutely loved this book. It brings together everything I love about fiction writing.

12. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

This Man Confessed by Jodi Ellen Malpas, 501 pages, read by Jessica, on 07/11/2013

THE STUNNING CONCLUSION TO THE THIS MAN TRILOGY!

The Manor, the very place where their passionate love affair began, fills with guests on what should be the happiest day of Ava and Jesse’s lives. She has accepted that she’ll never tame the fierceness in Jesse-and she doesn’t want to. Their love is profound, their connection powerful, but just when she thinks that she’s finally gotten beneath his guarded exterior, more questions arise, leading Ava to believe that Jesse Ward may not be the man she thinks he is. He knows too well how to take her to a place beyond ecstasy . . . but will he also drive her to the brink of despair? It’s time for this man to confess.

12. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, NonFiction

Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee, 32 pages, read by Angie, on 07/12/2013

This is a wonderful collection of mini-biographies of women who have made history. Cynthia Chin-Lee offers glimpses into the lives of a wide variety of women from different time periods and locations throughout the world. These women made strides in science, literature, politics, society and many other areas. They were pioneers of their times, many risked imprisonment and persecution for their work. All were brave, intelligent and determined. I especially loved the mixed media collages that accompany each bio. They are beautiful!

12. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense, Tracy

The Black Country by Alex Grecian, 384 pages, read by Tracy, on 07/11/2013

This is the second novel with Inspector Walter Day and Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith of Scotland Yards Murder Squad. It’s 1889 and the pair are sent to a coal mining town to find some missing villagers. Although I don’t really like murder mysteries that involve children I guess there are good and bad children out there. I do like all the main characters in this series including the forensics doctor
Bernard Kingsley. If you like Martha Grimes books you might like these. Alex Grecian has a good way of presenting the characters good and bad.

12. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Tracy

The Night Train by Clyde Edgerton, 224 pages, read by Tracy, on 07/04/2013

It’s the early 60’s in rural North Carolina. Two teenage boys, Dwayne is white Larry is black, have the same passion for music. Larry plays the piano and Dwayne wants to perform like James Brown. It’s a short story about how music brings everyone together whether it’s in church, on tv or a local bar.
It’s just society that tries to keep people apart.