20. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, NonFiction, Tracy

Wild tales : a rock & roll life by Graham Nash, 360 pages, read by Tracy, on 10/08/2013

From Graham Nash–the legendary musician and founding member of the iconic bands Crosby, Stills & Nash and The Hollies–comes a candid and riveting autobiography that belongs on the reading list of every classic rock fan.
Graham Nash’s songs defined a generation and helped shape the history of rock and roll–he’s written over 200 songs, including such classic hits as “Carrie Anne,” “On A Carousel,” “Simple Man,” “Our House,” “Marrakesh Express,” and “Teach Your Children.” From the opening salvos of the British Rock Revolution to the last shudders of Woodstock, he has rocked and rolled wherever music mattered. Now Graham is ready to tell his story: his lower-class childhood in post-war England, his early days in the British Invasion group The Hollies; becoming the lover and muse of Joni Mitchell during the halcyon years, when both produced their most introspective and important work; meeting Stephen Stills and David Crosby and reaching superstardom with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; and his enduring career as a solo musician and political activist. Nash has valuable insights into a world and time many think they know from the outside but few have experienced at its epicenter, and equally wonderful anecdotes about the people around him: the Beatles, the Stones, Hendrix, Cass Elliot, Dylan, and other rock luminaries. From London to Laurel Canyon and beyond, “Wild Tales” is a revealing look back at an extraordinary life–with all the highs and the lows; the love, the sex, and the jealousy; the politics; the drugs; the insanity–and the sanity–of a magical era of music.

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

Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill, 376 pages, read by Tracy, on 10/06/2013

Aging, self-absorbed rock star Judas Coyne has a thing for the macabre — his collection includes sketches from infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy, a trepanned skull from the 16th century, a used hangman’s noose, Aleister Crowley’s childhood chessboard, etc. — so when his assistant tells him about a ghost for sale on an online auction site, he immediately puts in a bid and purchases it.

The black, heart-shaped box that Coyne receives in the mail not only contains the suit of a dead man but also his vengeance-obsessed spirit. The ghost, it turns out, is the stepfather of a young groupie who committed suicide after the 54-year-old Coyne callously used her up and threw her away. Now, determined to kill Coyne and anyone who aids him, the merciless ghost of Craddock McDermott begins his assault on the rocker’s sanity.

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

Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson, 336 pages, read by Tracy, on 10/01/2013

Ruby Lennox begins narrating her life at the moment of conception, and from there takes us on a whirlwind tour of the twentieth century as seen through the eyes of an English girl determined to learn about her family and its secrets.

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

The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus #4) by Rick Riordan, 597 pages, read by Angie, on 10/20/2013

Oh Rick Riordan, how you break my heart and put it back together in a completely different way. I have been reading basically everything Riordan has written and I am never disappointed. I will admit that when starting House of Hades I had pretty much forgotten everything that happened in Mark of Athena. Don’t ask me why, but I can’t remember that book. Doesn’t matter because House of Hades was AWESOME!

First of all, this was the character book. Sure lots of things happen but they all led to character development for all of our seven heroes, which I loved.

Frank basically becomes a man instead of a pudgy boy. He takes charge, bulks up, kills an army of poison-gas cows, then leads a ghost legion army. Jason names him praetor and Frank becomes “The Man”.

Jason has been mister rule-follower, goody-two-shoes, but we actually get more from him. Turns out he doesn’t want to follow the rules; he is all about change and making things better. And he decides he would rather be Greek!

Leo has always been one of my favorites and that didn’t change. Leo is crazy inventor man and does all kinds of things in this book (like building a personal helicopter while falling from the sky). The best thing he does is fall in love. That’s right…Leo and Calypso are going to open Leo and Calypso’s Garage: Auto Repair and Mechanical Monsters. They are too cute for words and I hope Riordan brings them back together soon.

Piper became kind of a bad ass instead of comic relief. She is always shooting things from her cornucopia (muffins anyone?), but her magic hasn’t ever been strong as some of the others. Then she wakes up Festus with charmspeak and defeats a goddess. She still loves Jason and her and Hazel become besties.

Hazel learns to control the Mist. She can now trick gods and goddess and mortals alike. I loved how she learned magic, with a little help from a farting weasel (there was a lot of gas in this book!). She is also seriously digging on the new and improved Frank. Hazel is basically the one to lead them to the Doors and Death and save the day. Go Hazel!

That leaves us with Percy and Annabeth who took a wonderful vacation tour of Tartarus. Tartarus is basically as horrible as the brochure promised. They have to drink fire water to stay alive and fight monsters every time they turn around. Thankfully, they have tour guide Bob the Titan and his skeleton kitten Small Bob to help them out. Bob and Small Bob might have been my favorite characters in this book and I really hope they come back.

Those are our main seven questers, but lets not forget Nico. He might not be a member of the quest but he is along for the ride and his revelation was a pretty big one. Turns out he is grumpy because he is in love with Percy and having trouble dealing with it. I loved how Riordan handled this revelation. Nico is hiding his feelings mainly because they are unrequited and he doesn’t know how his friends will handle it. But Jason is super supportive and accepting and I think the rest of them will be too. It is great to have a character like Nico in children’s books so that kids reading it who are feeling the same thing know they are not alone. I loved Jason’s line about how Nico can’t help how he feels or who he is. Basically, he needs to decide how he is going to go forward. Nico has always been kind of a shadow character and I think this explains a little bit why he sets himself apart. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book with him.

I really enjoy the fact that these characters are not really kids any more. They are older teens and they are starting to become the heroes they will be as adults. They are forming relationship and they are much more mature than in previous books. I wish I could say I have grown up with these characters, but unfortunately I am a little old to make that statement. I have really enjoyed watching the progression of this series however. Riordan writes awesome characters and stories. I love the mix of mythology and adventure. I love that I feel like I learn something as I am reading these books. He is always throwing in minor gods or monsters that most people haven’t heard of. Reading these books is like getting a really entertaining Greek/Roman mythology lecture. Can’t wait to see what happens in The Blood of Olympus.

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

Worth The Fight by Vi Keeland, 380 pages, read by Jessica, on 10/18/2013

It didn’t matter that the ref called it a clean hit. Nico Hunter would never be the same.

Elle has a good life. A job she loves, a great apartment, and the guy she’s been dating for more than two years is a catch and a half. But it’s boring…and she strives to keep it that way. Too many emotions are dangerous. Her own past is living proof of what can happen when you lose control.

Then Nico walks into Elle’s office and everything changes…for both of them. But what can the tattooed, hard-bodied MMA fighter and the beautiful and always steady attorney have in common? A lot more than they bargained for.

19. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Science Fiction

Aliens in Disguise by Clete Barrett Smith, 240 pages, read by Angie, on 10/18/2013

David and Amy are enjoying their summer working at the Intergalactic Bed and Breakfast. David’s Grandma runs the place and really enjoys hosting alien tourists in small town Washington. She is so good at her job that she wins an award from the Hoteliers Association and gets to finally travel to the stars. Head of Security Tate follows her which leaves David and Amy in charge. Things are fine except for the couple that keeps snooping around and trying to pose as aliens. David and Amy have to take care of the B&B, make sure the tourists are happy and keep the snoopers from discovering their secret.

This was a fun book to read. I didn’t realize it was part of a series until they kept alluding to previous adventures. I think kids will really enjoy the humor of this one and the kids in charge aspect. David and Amy are smart and innovative. They are able to think their way out of all the situations they find themselves in.

18. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel

The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman , 240 pages, read by Angie, on 10/17/2013

A wizard tries to capture Death and gets Dream instead. Dream is imprisoned in a glass cage for a century. When he finally escapes he must find his tools of office. This quest takes him to Hell and beyond. Dreams are running wild and havoc reigns while Dream isn’t fully in control. This is the introduction to the Sandman tale and it is a good one. It is entertaining and fascinating. I can’t wait to read more.

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

In Front of God and Everybody (Confessions of April Grace #1) by K.D. McCrite, 298 pages, read by Angie, on 10/15/2013

April Grace is a country girl from the Ozarks and proud of it. She lets her new neighbors know what she thinks of them from the beginning even if she does get in trouble for it. Isabel and Ian St. James are from California and snooty; they have bought a run down place down the road from April Grace’s family. The place is in such bad shape that April’s parents invite Isabel and Ian to move in with them until it is habitable. Cultures clash between the St. Jameses and the Reillys and hilarity ensues. But through it all the Reillys (at least mom and dad) handle the situation with grace and kindness; they are an example to their daughters and their neighbors. The St. Jameses are not the only new additions to the neighborhood. Grandma has a new beau; Jeffrey Rance is a hard-of-hearing Texan who looks to sweep Grandma off her feet and clear out her pocketbook. It is up to April to find the evidence to prove her dislike of Mr. Rance right.

Being from the Ozarks, I enjoy books that show good honest country people and don’t make fun of them for being hicks or hillbillies. In this book it is the citified St. Jameses who come off looking bad and the Reillys with their simpler ways and good living who shine. April Grace is funny and sarcastic and honest and really enjoyable to read. I loved how involved her parents were in their children’s lives and what good examples they were for April and Myra. They are definitely part of the lead by example school of parenting. This is a great book with a great lesson on treating others with kindness.

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

Stickman Odyssey, Book 1: An Epic Doodle by Christopher Ford, 208 pages, read by Angie, on 10/15/2013

Zozimos just wants to go home. Unfortunately for him he has been banished by his evil witch of a stepmother. Try as he might he can’t seem to find his way back to Sticatha. He encounters golems and princesses and heroes and monsters on his journey. He seems to always be in trouble, mostly his own fault. I guess I will have to read book two to find out if he ever makes it home. It has been a while since I read The Odyssey, but I am sure this is a pretty close retelling. :) Telling the story in doodles with a stickman as the main character definitely makes it more accessible for kids.

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

Carter Reed by Tijan, 302 pages, read by Jessica, on 10/16/2013

Emma decided to skip the gym and went home early. It was the last easy decision she made because she found her roommate being raped by the boyfriend. She had two choices. Call the cops and be killed by his family’s mafia connections or kill him first and hope to survive. There was no choice to her. She killed the bastard first and went to the one person who could protect her. Carter Reed. He’s a weapon for the rivaling mafia family, but he’s also Emma’s secret. Not only was he best friends with her brother, but she’s the reason he became that weapon in the first place.

16. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Kira, NonFiction, Science

My Beloved Brontosaurus : On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs by Brian Switek, 256 pages, read by Kira, on 10/14/2013

mbb cover and flap  brontosauronator_LargeWide sauropods-990x576    Paleontologists have done for Dinosaurs as Astronomers have done for the Ex-Planet Pluto.  Pluto is No longer considered a planet, and Brontosaurus is No longer the name of a dinosaur, rather it is the Ex-Name of Apatosaurus.  What happened is that overly enthusiastic paleontologists discovered “new” species or even new genuses when they found slightly different skeletons. Othniel Marsh was quiet prolific in this respect.

Brian Swintek weavpteranodaones the story of his childhood fascination witUCMP_Pteranodon_left pterah dinosaurs into this scientific history of dinosaurs and our knowledge about them.  Like Swintek, I was myself was interested in dinosaurs as a kid, especially pterodactyls.  I was entranced with the mural and skeleton of pteranodons in the New York Natural History Museum.  You turned around a corner and entered a 3-story high exhibition room with a pteranodon skeleton aloft in the air, then as your rounded the corner fully you saw this 3 story mural of pteranodons perched on a cliffside with the beach and ocean behind them.  I visited this museum 3 different times in my life separated by 10 years each time, and I always found myself entranced with this display.

Also, did you know that Dinosaurs still roam the earth? or should I say flit about.  All birds are a subgroup of dinosaurs.


15. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery

The Case of the Missing Dinosaur Egg by Martha Freeman, 115 pages, read by Angie, on 10/14/2013

Cammie and Tessa and Nate live in the White House. Cammie and Tessa’s mom is the President of the United States. They solve mysteries and call themselves the First Kids. This mystery involves a dinosaur egg that disappeared from a museum. Their investigation leads them to many different places and people, but in the end they are able to return the egg to the museum. I think this is a great mystery for the beginning chapter book reading child. The story is fun and keeps you guessing. I like all the White House facts included in the book.

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

Queen of the World! (Babymouse #1) by Jennifer L. Holm, 96 pages, read by Angie, on 10/14/2013

Babymouse has to deal with all kinds of things like curly whiskers and homework and a stuck locker. She dreams of being Queen Babymouse with a tiara and everything. She also wants to be friends with Felicia Furrypaws, the most popular girl in school. She does everything she can think of to get invited to Felicia’s slumber party. But once she is there she realizes how boring these girls are and goes back to her best friend Wilson. I think this graphic book has a lot of appeal to younger girls. The story is very approachable and has a great message. I love the black, white and pink drawings. I also think the Babymouse asides where she imagines greatness for herself are awesome and funny.

15. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Graphic Novel · Tags:

Kick-Ass by Mark Millar, 216 pages, read by Angie, on 10/14/2013

Kick Ass is the story of a guy who wants to be more than he is. Dave is tired of his life and decides he is going to be a superhero like the people in his comics. He puts on the suit and goes out to fight crime. Then he gets his ass kicked repeatedly. One night he is in over his head and Big Daddy and Hit Girl show up and slaughter ensues. BD and HG are superheroes like KA, but they are a lot more violent. Instead of reasoning with people or getting them to stop their behavior, BD and HG just kill them. Their backstory is that BD was a cop and the mob killed his wife. He decides to go after them and trains his 10-year-old daughter HG to be a killing machine. They decide to team up and go after the head of the mob with the help of another superhero Red Mist. Of course Red Mist betrays them and more killing and torture ensue.

This is a very violent book. The killing is graphic and seems to be there for the sake of violence. Big Daddy and Hit Girl seem to enjoy their killing sprees and are as far from superheroes and they can get. Kick Ass wants to be a superhero so he can get the girl of his dreams, be more popular and have a ton of friends on myspace. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of redeeming qualities in any of these characters. However, if you don’t think about that fact, the book is entertaining.

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

The Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia, 230 pages, read by Angie, on 10/13/2013

Aliya is a young Muslim Indian trying to navigate the 5th grade. She struggles with lessons from school and Sunday school, with being a fraidy-cat, with not standing out. She starts really questioning things when Marwa moves to town. Marwa is so self-assured whereas Aliya is always scared to stand out. Marwa wears her hijab with confidence, it is just part of who she is; Aliya can’t keep hers on her head during prayers and wouldn’t dream of wearing it all the time. The girls might come from different cultures but their religion brings them together and allows Aliya to become more confident in who she is. She starts writing letters to Allah. At first they are complain-filled pages, but soon she is working on getting out of the hole (as her mother tells her). She starts standing up for herself and becoming more confident in who she is. Aliya is surrounded by a multi-generational family who helps her with her questions and explorations. She also has good friends both at school and at Sunday School.

I respected the fact that Zia didn’t shy away from the hard questions and the discrimination that many Muslims face after 9/11. She illustrates how it affects everyone at every age and how their is no real reason for it. I enjoyed the glimpse into Muslim life since I really have no first-hand knowledge of the religion or its practices. I thought it was great to illustrate that Aliya is really no different than any of the other kids in her class. She may be Muslim, but she still worries about bullies, boys and being popular just like everyone else. I think we sometimes forget that not being Christian doesn’t make you un-American; it just means you practice a different faith. On the inside we all worry about the same things no matter what age we are. A great lesson for readers of any age.

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

Terracotta Army and Other Lost Treasures by John Malam, 32 pages, read by Angie, on 10/13/2013

Another great offering in the Lost and Found series. This one deals with lost treasurers such as the terracotta army and the dead sea scrolls. We also learn about the Mildenhall Treasure found in a Suffolk field. A chest of Roman silver hidden under the ground was unearthed by a farmer. It was a rare hoard of highly decorated silver that was 2000 years old.

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

Pompeii and Other Lost Cities by John Malam, 32 pages, read by Angie, on 10/13/2013

I really like the format of this series. There is a two page spread on the history of the lost city and then a two page spread on how it was found. There are great little nuggets of history that will whet your appetite for more information. Everyone has heard of Pompeii and Machu Picchu, but little is known of Skara Brae or Akrotiri. It really made me want to find out more.

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

What We Found in the Sofa and How it Saved the World by Henry Clark, 368 pages, read by Angie, on 10/13/2013

Freak, Fiona and River live in Cheshire. Cheshire is just your normal small town except for the fact that there is a giant wasteland eating up the middle of it. Years ago the Rodmore Chemical plant ignited the coal under the ground and it has been burning ever since. It has created the Hellsboro area and the kids are the only people living on one side of town because all the houses were destroyed. One day while waiting for the bus they find a sofa sitting at the bus stop. The sofa leads them to the Underhill House across the road where they discover Alf. Turns out Alf is an alien from Indorsia, their is a AI computer named Guernica, Alf’s dead sister Miranda’s consciousness lives in the computer and the sofa can tesser. Alf’s father is trying to take over Earth through mind control and flash mobs and they must stop him with the help of a rare zucchini crayon.

If you think this sounds ridiculous you would be right, but it is also a lot of fun. There are tons of fun details in this book and they are what makes it so special. I loved the references to books like Lord of the Rings and A Wrinkle in Time. I loved strange things like the zucchini crayon and Jackson Pollock’s coloring book. I especially loved the intelligent sofa and the ax-weilding crazy ghost. There is a ton of things going on in this book and you really have to pay attention to appreciate them all.

12. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston, 389 pages, read by Kira, on 10/11/2013

Bess starts off life in the 16th century, her happy peasant family life is disrupted when plague breaks out.  After her older brother, her sweet sister, and father die of the plague, Bess’ Mom makes a deal with the local and evil warlock Gideon, which brings Bess back from the door of death.  Then a witchhunter is called and accuses Bess of witchcraft, since she survived the plague, her mother confesses in order to spare her daughter and directs her daughter to study with Gideon.    But when the town comes for her and plan to burn her the next day, she speaks invocation by the light of her cell windows. wit cautrwitch daughterThe_Witchs_Daughter_Poland   300 years later she is still on the run from Gideon, who wants her to combine their powers.  She is able to settle down for brief periods before he tracks her down.

Paula Brackston’s books are so captivating.  I can’t wait for her next book in 2014, The Midnight Witch.  Make sure you have plenty of time to read, because her books are hard to put down.  This book was originally released as the Book of Shadows in 2009.

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

The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski, 452 pages, read by Jessica, on 10/10/2013

Twenty-year-old Camryn Bennett had always been one to think out-of-the-box, who knew she wanted something more in life than following the same repetitive patterns and growing old with the same repetitive life story. And she thought that her life was going in the right direction until everything fell apart.

Determined not to dwell on the negative and push forward, Camryn is set to move in with her best friend and plans to start a new job. But after an unexpected night at the hottest club in downtown North Carolina, she makes the ultimate decision to leave the only life she’s ever known, far behind.

With a purse, a cell phone and a small bag with a few necessities, Camryn, with absolutely no direction or purpose boards a Greyhound bus alone and sets out to find herself. What she finds is a guy named Andrew Parrish, someone not so very different from her and who harbors his own dark secrets. But Camryn swore never to let down her walls again. And she vowed never to fall in love.

But with Andrew, Camryn finds herself doing a lot of things she never thought she’d do. He shows her what it’s really like to live out-of-the-box and to give in to her deepest, darkest desires. On their sporadic road-trip he becomes the center of her exciting and daring new life, pulling love and lust and emotion out of her in ways she never imagined possible. But will Andrew’s dark secret push them inseparably together, or tear them completely apart?