24. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction, Science

Fossil Fish Found Alive by Sally M. Walker, 64 pages, read by Angie, on 10/24/2013

The coelacanth was a fish that many thought had went extinct 70 million years ago. No fossils of this fish have been found since then. Imagine the surprise when a live specimen was found in 1938. It turns out the coelacanth is not extinct at all but lives off the southern coast of Africa and India. Since 1938 researchers have been looking for and studying these amazing fish. There are still lots of things we don’t know about the coelacanth, but researchers and ichthyologists are still looking for answers. Sally Walker did a great job detailing the hunt for these prehistoric fish. The way this book was written really builds anticipation for each discovery. I loved the many photos and illustrations and the details included by Walker. Highly readable nonfiction.

24. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Multicultural Fiction

Flying the Dragon by Natalie Dias Lorenzi, 233 pages, read by Angie, on 10/23/2013

Hiroshi, his parents and Grandfather are leaving Japan to move to Washington, DC. Grandfather has cancer and is seeking a new treatment in America. They are moving close to Grandfather’s first son. Skye is happy living in Washington and playing soccer. Then she learns that her Japanese relatives are moving here. Her father has never talked much about Japan and Skye barely speaks Japanese or knows much about the culture. Hiroshi and Skye both have to change their lives and learn new things. For Skye this means giving up on all-stars soccer during the summer so she can go to Japanese school, but it also means she gets to know a grandfather for the first time. Hiroshi has to learn to fit in an American school and learn English; he also has to give up his dreams of rokkaku battle and share his grandfather. Skye and Hiroshi both resent the other and neither really does much to help the other. But grandfather and kites brings them together. Grandfather has always been a champion kite builder and rokkaku battler. Hiroshi is learning form him and he slowly starts to teach Skye. As Grandfather gets sicker, the cousins are brought closer together.

What an excellent book! I loved the dual narrators as Skye and Hiroshi both got to tell their stories. I loved learning about rokkaku as I had no idea kites could battle. This book really made me want to go to the Cherry Blossom festival in Washington, DC. I think this is a good book to introduce kids to the issues facing new immigrants and mixed race kids. I thought the mix of cultures and the problems that arose were really wonderfully written.

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

Anubis Speaks! A Guide to the Afterlife by the Egyptian God of the Dead by Vicky Alvear Shecter , 116 pages, read by Angie, on 10/22/2013

Anubis finally gets to tell his story, or rather Ra’s story, in this entertaining and highly readable nonfiction book. The book details Ra’s journey through the underworld each night, what each hour of the journey entails and how Apophis tries to stop Ra. Along the way, Anubis also gives the reader a lot of detail on ancient Egyptian life, who the gods are and how they came to be and Egyptian myths and stories. Anubis must have been a pretty entertaining god because he is funny! I loved how he speaks directly to his audience and even includes them in the journey through the underworld. I thought his asides were hilarious. Books on Egyptian mythology are always popular and I think kids will respond really well to this one. I hope there is an entire series like this!

22. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Lisa, Teen Books

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, 318 pages, read by Lisa, on 10/18/2013

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

22. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Lisa

Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons, 126 pages, read by Lisa, on 10/09/2013

“When I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy. I would figure out this or that way and run it down through my head until it got easy.” So begins the tale of Ellen Foster, the brave and engaging heroine of Kay Gibbons’s first novel, which won the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Institute of Arts and Letters. Wise, funny, affectionate, and true, Ellen Foster is, as Walker Percy called it, “The real thing. Which is to say, a lovely, sometimes heartwrenching novel. . . . [Ellen Foster] is as much a part of the backwoods South as a Faulkner character—and a good deal more endearing.”

22. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Classics, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery, 276 pages, read by Lisa, on 10/02/2013

At sixteen, Anne is grown up…almost. Her gray eyes shine like evening stars, but her red hair is still as peppery as her temper. In the years since she arrived at Green Gables as a freckle-faced orphan, she has earned the love of the people of Avonlea and a reputation for getting into scrapes. But when Anne begins her job as the new schoolteacher, the real test of her character begins. Along with teaching the three Rs, she is learning how complicated life can be when she meddles in someone else’s romance, finds two new orphans at Green Gables, and wonders about the strange behaviour of the very handsome Gilbert Blythe. As Anne enters womanhood, her adventures touch the heart and the funny bone.

22. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Dystopia, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction

Punk Rock Jesus by Sean Gordon Murphy, 224 pages, read by Angie, on 10/21/2013

Punk Rock Jesus is about the second coming of Christ. In the not so distant future, Jesus is cloned from the Shroud of Turin. His birth and life are all part of a new reality tv show called J2. Chris and his mom Gwen are basically prisoners on the J2 island. Gwen becomes more and more unhappy with the J2 life and repeatedly tries to escape. Finally, evil Dr. Slate, the head of the project, has her fired from the show and subsequently killed. Chris rebels, escapes the island, becomes lead singer of a punk band, and becomes an atheist. His life polarizes the population pitting atheist scientists against right-wing Christians.

I found the premise of this book fascinating and not all that unbelievable. This is the perfect combination of our adoration of reality tv and the rise of the Christian right. I thought it was drawn really well and I rather liked the message of the book. I just wish the story was a little stronger. The characters all seem very one-dimensional and caricatures of who they are supposed to be. The only one with a little bit of personality and backstory was Thomas, the IRA henchman turned security guard. I thought it was a little sad that all the scientists were shown as brilliant atheists and all the religious were militant crackpots. I kind of felt like Murphy was trying to make this story as controversial as possible, not that controversy is bad or wrong; however, the strongest controversial messages are those that make you question and think. This story is so in your face that it doesn’t leave any room for anything else.

21. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Tammy, Teen Books

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner, 361 pages, read by Tammy, on 10/12/2013

scorch trialsThe continuing adventures of Thomas and the Gladers. They escaped the maze and thought that they were safe only to wake up to a scarier and more confusing world. A few questions are answered but many more remain. Can Thomas and the rest of the boys from the maze survive their latest test through the hot, dry scorched desert terrain?

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

Justice for Sara by Erica Spindler, 352 pages, read by Melody, on 10/19/2013

When seventeen-year-old Katherine McCall awakened one morning to find her beloved sister, Sara, brutally murdered, her whole life changed in the blink of an eye. Kat was named the prime suspect and, on a string of circumstantial evidence, charged and tried. While the jury found her innocent, not everyone else agreed, and her only choice was to go into hiding. But she carried a dark secret with her, one that made her worry she might actually have had something to do with Sara’s death . . .

Now, years later, Kat is still haunted by her sister’s unsolved murder and continues to receive chilling anonymous letters, but she has tried to move on with her life. Until, on the tenth anniversary of Sara’s death, she receives a letter that makes the past impossible to ignore: “What about justice for Sara?” What about justice for Sara? And for herself? Kat realizes that going back to Liberty, Louisiana, might be the only way to move forward and find some peace. And there’s a killer out there who was never caught.

But the town she’s come back to is hardly different from the one she left. The secrets and suspicions still run deep. Kat has an ally in Detective Luke Tanner, son of the former Liberty police chief, but he may be her only one. With plenty of enemies, no one to trust and a killer determined to keep a dark secret buried, Kat must decide if justice is worth fighting—and dying—for.

21. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Beachcomber by Karen Robards, 452 pages, read by Melody, on 10/12/2013

Hot summer passion. Cold-blooded fear. When Christy Petrino discovers that her fiance, Michael DePalma, and the law firm where she works are linked to the mob, she breaks her engagement and quits her job. But no one walks away from the DePalma family so easily. Christy’s freedom comes on one condition: She must deliver a locked briefcase to a motel on North Carolina’s Ocracoke Island. Her late-night drop-off is only the beginning of a tide of terror: In the shadows of the Outer Banks, Christy senses she is being followed…and suddenly she is a witness in a police investigation of a serial killer known as the “Beachcomber” — who targets young women who all resemble “her.” Handsome surfer Luke Rand offers the best kind of shelter in his strong arms. But as their sensual attraction flares, Christy hears warning bells telling her “if you want to survive a hot and deadly summer, trust no one.

21. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Whispers At Midnight by Karen Robards, 456 pages, read by Melody, on 10/06/2013

Carly Linton returns to her hometown of Benton, Georgia, to open a bed-and-breakfast in the house she inherited from her grandmother. She’s also dead-set on burying her former good-girl image – by seducing the one man who can give her a guided tour of the wild side…Matt Converse, the local sheriff, was once the town’s bad boy who shared one magical night with Carly at her senior prom. But igniting the sparks of the past can lead to a blaze of danger: First her house is burglarized, then someone comes after her. A mysterious enemy wants Carly out of Benton for good, and now she needs Matt more than ever – to keep her alive.

21. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Justice by Karen Robards, 342 pages, read by Melody, on 10/01/2013

Hired by a prestigious D.C. law firm after barely surviving witnessing the murder of the First Lady, attorney Jessica Ford is deliberately keeping a low profile as she gets a sensational rape case involving a senator’s son, whom she is defending, is abruptly dismissed because the victim recants on the stand. The problem is, Jess suspects that the victim recanted because she was threatened. Meanwhile, she has an uneasy feeling about the beautiful young associate she replaced: where is Allison Howard? No one has seen her since she left the firm. Taking over Allison’s position, Jess becomes more and more haunted by her predecessor. Then she discovers that the victim in the rape case has also disappeared. With the help of her former lover, hunky Secret Service Agent Mark Ryan, Jess starts searching for both women. Soon she uncovers the case of a missing teenage girl who knew Allison. Is there a link? When someone tries to kill her, Jess knows she is getting too close to something — but what? She and Mark race to come up with answers before time runs out.

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

Canary in the Coal Mine by Madelyn Rosenberg, 140 pages, read by Angie, on 10/21/2013

Bitty is a miner; he is a canary that goes into the mine to check that the air is good. He lives in a big cage with a bunch of other canaries. Life is hard in the mines; miners and canaries die and no one seems to be doing anything about it. Bitty decides he needs to go to Charleston and get the legislature involved. He escapes and makes his way to the big city. He meets lots of different birds and animals and gets them all behind him and his cause. He even brings together an inventor and a legislator to help the mines.

I think the story is fairly decent here, but it just seemed too easy to perfect to me. Bitty somehow manages to communicate with people and bring them around to his cause. Everything ends up happily ever after at the mines. Sure there is a little bit of danger and a little bit of adventure, but you always knew nothing truly bad was going to happen. I think my biggest gripe is with the book itself. It is a small book, perfect size for kids; however, the type is very small and there is hardly any white space on the pages. Most children’s books have a larger type and lots of space. This book looks like something that was printed 50 years ago when they didn’t want to waste paper. It made it a little more difficult to read and made it seem like a denser book than it really was.

21. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Humor, NonFiction

Grumpy Cat by Grumpy Cat, 96 pages, read by Brian, on 10/20/2013

If you decide to read the Grumpy Cat book, you are stupid and no one cares.  This book is filled with unwanted and provoked sarcasm and I love it.  Finally an opponent worthy of my wit.  If you’re not miserable then you are not living your life right.  I hate morning people…I hate mornings and I hate people.   Frankly, I hate this cat.

21. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Fairest, Vol. 1: Wide Awake by Bill Willingham, 160 pages, read by Brian, on 10/10/2013

I enjoy reading the FABLES graphic novels. These stories have a great balance of humor, action and horror.  Fairest explores the secret past of Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzul, Cinderella, The Snow Queen, Snow White, Thumbelina and others.  Forget Disneys’ Once Upon a Time and read Bill Willingham’s FABLES.

 

 

21. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Dystopia, Fiction, Teen Books

Divergent by Veronica Roth, 487 pages, read by Brian, on 10/03/2013

divergentDivergent, is Veronica Roth’s first book in a trilogy. Beatrice Prior lives in a dystopian world of Chicago, where society is divided up into five fractions: Candor is the honest people, Abnegation is the selfless, Dauntless is the brave, Amity is the peaceful and Erudite are the intelligent .Every year on a special day, the sixteen year old children must decide which fraction to belong to.  Many stay with the one they grew up in but others leave to a stranger environment.  Beatrice leaves her family to try to become a Dauntless.  After going through a very tough initiation, Beatrice renames herself and begins the very hard journey into this new world.

 

 

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

An Army of Frogs: A Kulipari Novel by Trevor Pryce, Sanford Greene (Illustrations), 288 pages, read by Angie, on 10/20/2013

Darel is a young wood frog who dreams of being a warrior. He lives in the Amphibilands protected by the Veil from the Scorpions and Spiders in the Outback. The scorpions and spiders have teamed up under the leadership of Queen Jarrah and Lord Marmoo to finally bring down the Veil and control the Amphibilands. Darel and his friend Gee are the first to notice the advancing army and must warn their people and bring help. Darel finally becomes the warrior he has always dreamed as he is put through test after test, always proving his bravery.

I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. Once I started reading it, I really didn’t want to put it down. I thought Darel and Gee were amazing characters. As wood frogs they don’t have the poison and skills of the legendary Kulipari frogs, but they prove those things are unnecessary when you have the heart of a warrior. I think this is going to be a fun series and one kids will really like.

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

Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917 by Sally M. Walker, 160 pages, read by Angie, on 10/20/2013

On December 6, 1917, the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia was devastated by the largest man-made explosion. Two ships collided in the harbor, one carrying explosives. The shockwave and tsunami destroyed most of the town and left thousands dead, injured and homeless. Sally Walker takes us through the events leading up to the explosion, the aftermath and the recovery. She introduces us to several families whose lives were devastated and irrevocably changed that day. This is the kind of nonfiction I like to read. Walker gives us all the facts, but she includes personal accounts and writes in a narrative style that is extremely easy to read. I loved all the photos of the destruction that she included in this book. They really help illustrate just how destructive the explosion was. What really got me though was the stories of help from near and far, the doctors and nurses who worked around the clock, the soldiers and sailors who tirelessly searched for survivors, the workers who collected the dead and carefully cataloged them. All of these stories break your heart, but they also help you realize just how wonderful human beings can be when they see someone in need.

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

The Confessor by Daniel Silva, 416 pages, read by Tracy, on 10/19/2013

Munich: The writer Benjamin Stern entered his flat to see a man standing there, leafing through his research, and said, “Who the hell are you?” In response, the man shot him. As Stern lay dying, the gunman murmured a few words in Latin, then he gathered the writer’s papers and left.

Venice: The art restorer Gabriel Allon applied a dab of paint carefully to the Bellini, then read the message thrust into his hands. Stern was dead; could he leave right away? With a sigh, the Mossad agent began to put his brushes away.

The Vatican: The priest named Pietro paced in the garden, thinking about the things he had discovered, the enemies he would make, the journey before him. Men would surely die, and he wished another could take it for him. But he knew that was not possible. In the weeks to come, the journeys of all three men will come together, following a trail of long-buried secrets and unthinkable deeds, leaving each one forever changed. And with them, the lives of millions . . .

Filled with rich characters, remarkable prose, and a multilayered plot of uncommon intensity, this is the finest work yet by a new master of the art.

20. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

Fatal Likeness by Lynn Shepherd , 384 pages, read by Tracy, on 10/12/2013

A mystery that explores the dark lives and unexplained secrets of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and his wife Mary, author of Frankenstein.

In the dying days of 1850 the young detective Charles Maddox takes on a new case. His client? The only surviving son of the long-dead poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and his wife Mary, author of Frankenstein.

Charles soon finds himself being drawn into the bitter battle being waged over the poet’s literary legacy, but then he makes a chance discovery that raises new doubts about the death of Shelley’s first wife, Harriet, and he starts to question whether she did indeed kill herself, or whether what really happened was far more sinister than suicide.

As he’s drawn deeper into the tangled web of the past, Charles discovers darker and more disturbing secrets, until he comes face to face with the terrible possibility that his own great-uncle is implicated in a conspiracy to conceal the truth that stretches back more than thirty years.

The story of the Shelleys is one of love and death, of loss and betrayal. In this follow-up to the acclaimed Tom-All-Alone’s, Lynn Shepherd offers her own fictional version of that story, which suggests new and shocking answers to mysteries that still persist to this day, and have never yet been fully explained.