31. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Leslie

Ungifted by Gordon Korman, 288 pages, read by Leslie, on 10/21/2013

Ungifted

Due to an administrative mix-up, troublemaker Donovan Curtis is sent to the Academy of Scholastic Distinction, a special program for gifted and talented students, after pulling a major prank at middle school.

Another engaging, fun book by Mr. Korman.  I haven’t seen too many books that deal with the gifted end of the student spectrum but this book kind of nails it.  Add an ungifted student to the mix and the kids realize there is more to school than just studying.  Very recommendable.

31. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Leslie

Jump Into the Sky by Shelley Pearsall, 352 pages, read by Leslie, on 10/19/2013

Jump into the Sky

In 1945, thirteen-year-old Levi is sent to find the father he has not seen in three years, going from Chicago, to segregated North Carolina, and finally to Pendleton, Oregon, where he learns that his father’s unit, the all-Black 555th paratrooper battalion, will never see combat but finally has a mission. Includes historical notes.

A great, historical fiction account of the 555th parachute battalion, this would be a great read-aloud, leading into black history month.  Add to it, a young boy’s first experience with segregation and the prejudice that accompanied it.  I recommend this to any of my younger readers.

31. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Pamela, Romance

Secrets by Jude Deveraux, 310 pages, read by Pamela, on 10/30/2013

secretsHaving harbored an unrequited love for a man she met in childhood, Cassandra impulsively breaks an engagement to become the now-widowed man’s nanny, but realizes that her chance for winning his heart is threatened by dark secrets.

A cute little romance with lots of secrets and mystery sprinkled throughout.

31. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense

Deadly Stillwater by Roger Stelljes, 378 pages, read by Jane, on 10/24/2013

Deadly Stillwater, where Mac McRyan is confronted with the kidnapping of Shannon Hisle, taken in a brazen daylight attack outside a restaurant on one of St. Paul’s busiest streets. And Shannon Hisle isn’t just anyone. She’s the only daughter of St. Paul’s most prominent, successful and politically connected lawyer. Mac knows that every political lever will be pulled, that the FBI will be coming in, that the St. Paul Mayor, not his biggest fan, will be scrutinizing his every move and that the media storm will be every bit as intense as the heat wave blazing the Twin Cities. What’s more, while all of the signs point to a straightforward kidnapping for ransom, Mac’s instincts tell him otherwise, especially after the kidnappers call just hours after the abduction and skip the ransom demand. “Why not ask for the ransom?” he wonders.

31. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense

Gone by James Patterson, 386 pages, read by Jane, on 10/17/2013

Manuel Perrine doesn’t fear anyone or anything. A charismatic and ruthless leader, Perrine slaughters rivals as effortlessly as he wears his trademark white linen suit. Detective Michael Bennett once managed to put Perrine behind bars, the only official in the US ever to accomplish that. But now Perrine is out, and he has sworn to find and kill Bennett and everyone dear to him.

Detective Bennett, along with his ten adopted children, their nanny, and his grandfather, are hidden safely on a rural California farm, with guards courtesy of the FBI’s witness protection program. Perrine begins to embark on an escalating series of assassinations across the country, killings whose brazenness and audacity bring into question the possibility of safety and law in the US. The FBI has no choice but to ask Detective Bennett to risk it all in Perrine’s war on America.

With explosive action and fierce villainy that rivals James Bond movies at their best, GONE is the next astounding novel by James Patterson.

31. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense

Tell Me by Lisa Jackson, 328 pages, read by Jane, on 10/10/2013

The most hated woman in Savannah, Georgia, is about to be set free. Twenty years ago, Blondell O’Henry was convicted of murdering her eldest daughter and wounding her two other children. The prosecution argued that beautiful, selfish Blondell wanted to be rid of them to be with her lover.

Now Blondell’s son, Niall, has recanted his testimony and demolished the case in the process. Reporter Nikki Gillette is determined to get the true story, and not just for professional reasons. Blondell’s murdered daughter, Amity, was Nikki’s childhood friend. The night she died, Amity begged Nikki to meet with her, insisting she had a secret to tell, but Nikki didn’t go. Her guilt is compounded by other complications–Nikki’s favorite uncle, Alexander, was the attorney who helped save Blondell from execution. And rumors swirl that he was one of her many lovers.

Nikki’s fiancé, Detective Pierce Reed, is concerned she may be compromising the case. As she digs for answers during one of the most sweltering summers in Savannah’s history, he also worries for her safety. Everyone involved seems to have secrets, from Blondell’s old boyfriend and his fundamentalist, snake-handling in-laws to the cop who led the original investigation. And somehow, the events of that tragic night connect to Nikki’s own fractured family. But now the killing has begun again. Is Amity’s murderer still at large, or is this a new, darker danger? Soon Nikki will discover what really happened twenty years ago, but the answers may come too late to save her life.

31. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense

Red Knife by William Kent Krueger, 310 pages, read by Jane, on 10/03/2013

The newest book in William Kent Krueger’s award-winning Corcoran O’Connor series finds the charismatic private investigator caught in the middle of a racial gang war that’s turning picturesque Tamarack County, Minnesota, into a bloody battlefield.

When the daughter of a powerful businessman dies as a result of her meth addiction, her father, strong-willed and brutal Buck Reinhardt, vows revenge. His target is the Red Boyz, a gang of Ojibwe youths accused of supplying the girl’s fatal drug dose. When the head of the Red Boyz and his wife are murdered in a way that suggests execution, the Ojibwe gang mobilizes, and the citizens of Tamarack County brace themselves for war, white against red.

Both sides look to Cork O’Connor, a man of mixed heritage, to uncover the truth behind the murders. A former sheriff, Cork has lived, fought, and nearly died to keep the small-town streets and his family safe from harm. He knows that violence is never a virtue, but he believes that it’s sometimes a necessary response to the evil that men do. Racing to find answers before the bloodshed spreads, Cork himself becomes involved in the darkest of deeds. As the unspeakable unfolds in the remote and beautiful place he calls home, Cork is forced to confront the horrific truth: Violence is a beast that cannot be contained.

In “Red Knife,” Krueger gives his readers a vivid picture of racial conflict in small-town America, as well as a sensitive look at the secrets we keep from even those closest to us and the destructive nature of all that is left unsaid between fathers and sons, husbands and wives, friends and lovers.

31. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kira, Literary Fiction, Paranormal · Tags:

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley, 539 pages, read by Kira, on 10/30/2013

The-Firebird-CroppedNicola’s Russian grandfather was persecuted for his paranormal abilities, thus she has kept her paranormal talent hidden.  By holding objects she is able to retrieve memories of people who have held the object.  However, she decides to track down the origins of a family heirloom said to have been a gift from the Russian Empress Catherine.  Nicola knows that the family tale is true, but will need to find proof for the object to have any value.  She enlists the help of Rob a man she previously dated, but ran away from when their psychic talents got them noticed.

On the negative side: Rob is way too perfect, always there, super talented.  Even worse though is the love-interest in the parallel tale firbirdof Anna and Edmund.  Anna is repeatedly humiliated by Edmund and finds herself falling for him. Yuck! Gross!  There are 2 surprises towards the ending of blueariPicFirebirdAnna’s tale.  You can see the first one from a mile away.  The other one surprised me.

I really enjoyed the atmosphere, the coziness of the settings – London, Scottland, Russia…

I also enjoyed the amount of authentic detail worked into the background of the book.  For example, in the book Slains Castle was being renovated into apartments – which when I looked online, is actually the case.  In the book Nicola and Rob visit a Russian chain restaurant named Stolle that serves pies (meat pies I think).  Turns out such a chain actually does exist in Russia.  Just neat!


firebird redtumbr Firbird

31. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

The Wager by Rachel Van Dyken , 299 pages, read by Jessica, on 10/31/2013

Lose a bet, lose your heart…

What is it about a junior-high crush that can send an otherwise intelligent woman into a tailspin? TV reporter Char Lynn wishes she knew. Jake Titus is too rich, too handsome, too arrogant: a trifecta that once lured Char into the best night-and worst morning-after-of her life. Now they’ve been thrown together in a wedding party. It’s awkward, but survivable . . . until Jake stops acting like a jerk, and starts acting like the man she’d always hoped he could be.

If watching your brother marry your best friend is weird, being attracted to your best friend’s other best friend is downright bizarre. Unfortunately for Jake, Char hasn’t forgotten how he once tossed her aside. Worse still, Jake’s already-nutty grandma is even crazier about Char. Cue meet-cute shenanigans and all manner of meddling, and somehow, Jake’s falling. For Char. Now all he has to do is make her believe it .

31. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Eye of the Storm by Kate Messner, 304 pages, read by Leslie, on 10/09/2013

Eye of the Storm

In the not-too-distant future, huge tornadoes and monster storms are a part of everyday life. Sent to spend the summer in the heart of storm country with her father in the special StormSafe community his company has developed, Jaden Meggs is excited to reconnect with her dad after he spent years researching storm technology in Russia.

While excited to be spending time with her dad, Jaden learns some uncomfortable truths about him and what he has to do with all of the powerful storms that avoid the community that he helped build.  Jaden has to decide if family is more important than doing the right thing.  Very good book to recommend to my younger readers.

31. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Seizure by Kathy and Brendan Reichs, 491 pages, read by Leslie, on 10/03/2013

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Ever since Tory Brennan and her friends rescued Cooper, a kidnapped wolf pup with a rare strain of canine parvovirus, they’ve turned from regular kids into a crime-solving pack! But now the very place that brought them together – the Loggerhead Island Research Institute – is out of funding and will have to shut down. That is, unless the Virals can figure out a way to save it!

I find myself enjoying this series more with each book that comes out.  In this one, Tory and her pack of friends go on a treasure hunt and find themselves being hunted by others who want that treasure.  I like the way she weaves the viral powers the teens find themselves with, into the storylines.  This will keep you on the edge of your seat, at times.

The Lovecraft Anthology is a graphic collection of Lovecraft’s tales, adapted and illustrated by a variety of authors and artists. Featured in this first volume are several classics, including Call of Cthulhu, and The Shadow Over Innsmouth.

Beyond the artwork, these adaptations also are quick verbal sketches of Lovecraft’s work. I enjoyed them, but often regretted the stories weren’t covered in more detail. Creating artwork is very time consuming, though, and being exposed to the styles of multiple artists was worth missing out on a few story details. As with any multiple-artist anthology, I had style preferences (D’Israeli!), but this will vary by reader. Recommended as an introduction to dark Lovecraftian worlds.

30. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo, K.G. Campbell (Illustrator), 233 pages, read by Angie, on 10/30/2013

She is a natural born cynic. He is an unassuming squirrel. Together they are magical superheroes. If you are going to be a superhero you must be prepared for Holy unanticipated occurrences! Especially those from The Criminal Element. If you consult Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, you will be prepared for anything. Although it might not prepare you for the Ulysses Super-Suction, Multi-Terrain 2000x which you can use to vacuum your yard, and it just might give super powers to a squirrel. Said squirrel, now known as Ulysses, becomes Flora’s best friend. He loves to write poetry, throw cats down hallways and he is always hungry (giant donuts!). Of course a superhero must have an arch-nemesis and Ulysses’s is Flora’s mom who wants to hit him on the head with a shovel.

Holy Bagumba was this book fun to read. The cast of characters alone is worthy of admiration. Of course we have Flora and Ulysses, but there is also Tootie Tinkham, owner of the vacuum cleaner, and her nephew William Spiver, who is temporarily blind. We also meet Flora’s dad, George Buckman, and Dr. Meescham from Blundermeecen where there might be trolls. I loved the language: sepulchral gloom, treacle, euphemistically: all words not usually found in children’s books. I also really enjoyed the comic panels that are scattered throughout the book. I didn’t think I was going to enjoy a book about a super squirrel as much as I did, but I found I couldn’t put it down.

30. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction, Science

Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age by Cheryl Bardoe, 40 pages, read by Angie, on 10/29/2013

Mammoths, mastodons and elephants are all cousins. They all appeared around the same time, but for some reason 10,000 years ago mammoths and mastadons went extinct. Scientists don’t know why they disappeared. The two leading theories are global warming or over hunting by humans. It is hoped that by studying mammoths and mastodons and why they went extinct a way can be found to help elephants who are endangered. This is a very informative, interesting and well-researched read.

30. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Bryan, Fiction

The Lions of Lucerne by Brad Thor, 512 pages, read by Bryan, on 10/29/2013

lucerneIf you are into political thrillers, you’d certainly recognize the genre here.  This is Brad Thor’s first book and he follows the pattern perfectly — from the hero that gets shot multiple times and can still scale a mountain in the same day to the poorly-executed punchlines after someone gets killed.  OK, I really did like the book, but it was what it was.  A fun read.  Available from MOBIUS.

29. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Eric, NonFiction · Tags: , ,

The Necronomicon Files: The Truth Behind Lovecraft's Legend by Daniel Harms, 342 pages, read by Eric, on 10/29/2013

Fans of H.P. Lovecraft are familiar with the Necronomicon, a mystical book of arcane power which features in several of his stories. Over the years, many have claimed this book to be real, and that Lovecraft was aware of its veracity. In Files, Authors Daniel Harms and John Wisdom Gonce III explore these claims, as well as the many versions of the book which have been published, its impact on occult thinking, and its influence on film culture.

I’m a fan of Lovecraft’s work, and many of the genre films featuring the Necronomicon, so was glad to come across this title on our shelves. Of the two authors, I found Harms’ writing to be the most effective and factual- personal asides and commentary are at a minimum. I was interested in Gonce’s chapters on “magick,” but felt they were included more for their interest to Gonce rather than their importance to Lovecraft and his creation of the Necronomicon. He also is quite disparaging of opposing views, often without facts to explain why. Overall, an interesting read for fans of Lovecraft, but little more.

29. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Tracy

Kings Mountain by Sharyn McCrumb, 336 pages, read by Tracy, on 10/25/2013

John Sevier had not taken much interest in the American Revolution, he was too busy fighting Indians in the Carolinas and taming the wilderness. But when an arrogant British officer threatened his settlement—promising to burn the farms and kill families—the war became personal.

That arrogant officer is Patrick Ferguson of the British Army—who is both charmingly antagonistic and surprisingly endearing. Inventor of the Ferguson rifle, and the devoted lover to his mistress, Virginia Sal, Patrick becomes a delightful anti-hero under McCrumb’s watchful eye.

Through varying perspectives, King’s Mountain is an elegant saga of the Carolina Overmountain Men—the militia organized by Sevier (who would later become the first governor of Tennessee) and their victory in 1780 against the Tories in a battle that Thomas Jefferson later called, “The turning point of the American Revolution.”

Peppered with lore and the authentic heart of the people in McCrumb’s classic Ballads, this is an epic book that will build on the success of The Ballad of Tom Dooley and her recent return to the New York Times bestseller list. Featuring the American Revolution, this is a huge draw to readers old and new, and special to McCrumb who can trace her lineage to the character John Sevier.

29. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Tracy

The Ballad of Tom Dooley by Sharyn McCrumb, 311 pages, read by Tracy, on 10/27/2013

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley; The folk song, made famous by the Kingston Trio, recounts a tragedy in the North Carolina mountains after the Civil War. Laura Foster, a simple country girl, was murdered and her lover Tom Dula was hanged for the crime. The sensational elements in the case attracted national attention: a man and his beautiful, married lover accused of murdering the other-woman; the former governor of North Carolina spearheading the defense; and a noble gesture from the prisoner on the eve of his execution, saving the woman he really loved.

With the help of historians, lawyers, and researchers, Sharyn McCrumb visited the actual sites, studied the legal evidence, and uncovered a missing piece of the story that will shock those who think they already know what happened and may also bring belated justice to an innocent man. What seemed at first to be a sordid tale of adultery and betrayal was transformed by the new discoveries into an Appalachian Wuthering Heights. Tom Dula and Ann Melton had a profound romance spoiled by the machinations of their servant, Pauline Foster.

Bringing to life the star-crossed lovers of this mountain tragedy, Sharyn McCrumb gifts understanding and compassion to her compelling tales of Appalachia, and solidifies her status as one of today’s great Southern writers.

29. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Romance, Tracy

The Black Opal by Victoria Holt, 384 pages, read by Tracy, on 10/28/2013

Abandoned as a baby, her exotic beauty prompted hushed whispers of gypsy blood. But lovely Carmel March remained shrouded in mystery….

When tragedy struck her adopted home of Commonwood House, little Carmel had been bundled off to Australia. Returning to England as a young woman, she became haunted by questions from her past, as well as the shocking revelation that she had been rushed from a murder scene those many years ago.

Yet she was convinced that the wrong man had been sentenced for the crime. Was the answer locked away in her childhood memory—or in the dark, secretive behavior of her old childhood friend, Lucian? And what fateful role did the opals—always present at crucial moments of her life—play? For only when she released the dark secrets imprisoned at Commonwood would she find the freedom to love….

29. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Judy, Thriller/Suspense

The Blood Gospel by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell, 671 pages, read by Judy, on 10/28/2013

A gothic tale about an ancient order and the hunt for a miraculous book known only as The Blood Gospel.

An earthquake in Masada, Israel, reveals a tomb buried in the heart of the mountains.   A trio of investigators – Sergeant Jordan Stone, a military forensics expert; Father Ruhn Korza, a Vatican priest; and Dr. Erin Granger, a brilliant but disillusioned archaeologist – are sent to explore the macabre discovery, a subterranean temple holding the crucified body of a mummified girl.

But a brutal attack at the site sets the three on the run, thrusting them into a race to recover what was once preserved in the tomb’s sarcophagus; a book rumored to have been written by Christ’s own hand, a tomb that is said to hold the secrets to His divinity.  But the enemy who hounds them is a force of ancient evil directed by a leader of impossible ambitions and incalculable cunning.

 

If you like books about devil, angels, vampires, and werewolves, you may really enjoy this book.      It was too much constant fighting with strange creatures for my liking.