25. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Sarah

Laugh with the Moon by Shana Burg, read by Sarah, on 11/24/2013

  Clare is raw after the death of her mother.  Her dad, a doctor, has decided to take her with him to Malawi for a nine week stay while he works for a hospital there.  Clare is immersed in the culture going to a local school and making friends with the natives.  She struggles with how to carry on and discovers she is more like her mother than she realized.

This touching story was pretty slow at first with lots of Malawian vocabulary words thrown in.  It improved as Clare opened up, and made friends with the locals, and I got more drawn into the story.  It was pretty good.

25. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Memoirs, NonFiction, Tracy

Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir by Linda Ronstadt, read by Tracy, on 11/24/2013

In this memoir, iconic singer Linda Ronstadt weaves together a captivating story of her origins in Tucson, Arizona, and her rise to stardom in the Southern California music scene of the 1960s and ’70s.

Born into a musical family, Linda’s childhood was filled with everything from Hank Williams to Gilbert and Sullivan, Mexican folk music to jazz and opera. Her artistic curiosity blossomed early, and she and her siblings began performing their own music for anyone who would listen. Now, twelve Grammy Awards later, Ronstadt tells the story of her wide-ranging and utterly unique musical journey.

Ronstadt arrived in Los Angeles just as the folk-rock movement was beginning to bloom, setting the stage for the development of country-rock. After the dissolution of her first band, the Stone Poneys, Linda went out on her own and quickly found success. As part of the coterie of like-minded artists who played at the Troubadour club in West Hollywood, she helped define the musical style that dominated American music in the 1970s. One of her early back-up bands went on to become the Eagles, and Linda would become the most successful female artist of the decade. She has sold more than 100 million records, won numerous awards, and toured all over the world. Linda has collaborated with legends such as Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Aaron Neville, J.D. Souther, Randy Newman, Neil Young, Bette Midler, and Frank Sinatra, as well as Homer Simpson and Kermit the Frog. By the time she retired in 2009, Ronstadt had spent four decades as one of the most popular singers in the world, becoming the first female artist in popular music to release four consecutive platinum albums.

In Simple Dreams, Ronstadt reveals the eclectic and fascinating journey that led to her long-lasting success. And she describes it all in a voice as beautiful as the one that sang “Heart Like a Wheel”—longing, graceful, and authentic.

25. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Tracy, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

The Glass Lake by Maeve Binchy, read by Tracy, on 11/14/2013

Kit MacMahon, growing up in the lakeside village of Loughshee, seems to lead a charmed life. She is the loved daughter of Martin MacMahon, the kindly local pharmacist, and Helen, his beautiful wife. She has a little brother, Emmett; a best friend, Clio, and a host of other friends.

But Kit worries about her mother. Helen MacMahon does not fit in with the people and the ways of Loughshee. She wanders alone by the lake night after night—until the dark windy night when she disappears and only her overturned rowboat is found near Loughshee’s shore.

Kit grows up in the small village without the mother she has loved and so staunchly defended, determined to carry out her mother’s last wishes that she should make something of her life. Though she moves to the city, Kit is constantly drawn back to Loughshee and the people who live there—Clio Kelly and their love/hate relationship; Clio’s father, Dr. Kelly, whose sister-in-law Maura has her eyes on Kit’s father; Philip O’Brien, who has loved Kit since childhood; and roguish Stevie Sullivan, who runs the garage and rules the affections of every woman for miles around.

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

White Fire by Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, read by Tracy, on 11/22/2013

Special Agent Pendergast arrives at an exclusive Colorado ski resort to rescue his protégée, Corrie Swanson, from serious trouble with the law. His sudden appearance coincides with the first attack of a murderous arsonist who–with brutal precision–begins burning down multimillion-dollar mansions with the families locked inside. After springing Corrie from jail, Pendergast learns she made a discovery while examining the bones of several miners who were killed 150 years earlier by a rogue grizzly bear. Her finding is so astonishing that it, even more than the arsonist, threatens the resort’s very existence.

Drawn deeper into the investigation, Pendergast uncovers a mysterious connection between the dead miners and a fabled, long-lost Sherlock Holmes story–one that might just offer the key to the modern day killings as well.

Now, with the ski resort snowed in and under savage attack–and Corrie’s life suddenly in grave danger–Pendergast must solve the enigma of the past before the town of the present goes up in flames.

25. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

Black Out by John Lawton, read by Tracy, on 11/19/2013

In the tradition of John le Carré, Eric Ambler, and more recently, Joseph Kanon, Black Out is a stunning wartime thriller. As the Luftwaffe makes its last, desperate assaults on the battered city, Londoners take to the underground shelters amidst the black out. Detective-Sergeant Troy starts with the clue of a neatly dismembered corpse leading him into a world of stateless refugees, military intelligence, and corruption all the way to the top of Allied High Command.

25. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson, read by Tracy, on 11/15/2013

Case one: A little girl goes missing in the night.

Case two: A beautiful young office worker falls victim to a maniac’s apparently random attack.

Case three: A new mother finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making – with a very needy baby and a very demanding husband – until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape.

Thirty years after the first incident, as private investigator Jackson Brodie begins investigating all three cases, startling connections and discoveries emerge .

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

Crooked Letter Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin, read by Tracy, on 11/12/2013

In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas “32” Jones were boyhood pals. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry, the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother. Yet for a few months the boys stepped outside of their circumstances and shared a special bond. But then tragedy struck: Larry took a girl on a date to a drive-in movie, and she was never heard from again. She was never found and Larry never confessed, but all eyes rested on him as the culprit. The incident shook the county—and perhaps Silas most of all. His friendship with Larry was broken, and then Silas left town.

More than twenty years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has returned as a constable. He and Larry have no reason to cross paths until another girl disappears and Larry is blamed again. And now the two men who once called each other friend are forced to confront the past they’ve buried and ignored for decades.

25. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Tracy

The Winter Witch by Paula Brackston, read by Tracy, on 11/08/2013

In her small Welsh town, there is no one quite like Morgana. She has never spoken, and her silence as well as the magic she can’t quite control make her a mystery. Concerned for her safety, her mother quickly arranges a marriage with Cai Bevan, the widower from the far hills who knows nothing of the rumours that swirl around her. After their wedding, Morgana is heartbroken at leaving, but she soon falls in love with Cai’s farm and the rugged mountains that surround it, while slowly Cai himself begins to win her heart. It’s not long, however, before her strangeness begins to be remarked upon in her new village. A dark force is at work there—a person who will stop at nothing to turn the townspeople against Morgana, even at the expense of those closest to her. Forced to defend her home, her love, and herself from all comers, Morgana must learn to harness her power, or she will lose everything.

25. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Thriller/Suspense, Tracy

Mortal Bonds by Michael Sears, read by Tracy, on 11/01/2013

William von Becker ran one of the largest privately held investment banks in North America, until the bottom fell out, and the whole edifice was demonstrated to be a fraud.

After von Becker dies in prison, financial investigator Jason Stafford is hired by his family. There is still a lot of missing money out there, he’s told, and they want Stafford to find it before the Feds do—and certain other parties, some of whom are nowhere near as scrupulous in their methods. Bad things start happening to the people Stafford talks to. Soon bad things are happening to him as well.

Making it worse, his treacherous ex-wife has come to town, ostensibly to visit their young son. Stafford suspects there’s more to it than that, but even he has no idea how much that visit is about to change all their lives—and send him off to the next chapter of his life.

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

To Trust a Stranger by Karen Robards, read by Melody, on 11/24/2013

Mac McQuarry’s newest client is his oldest enemy’s wife. When his older brother vanished at the same time Sid Carlson’s first wife disappeared, young Mac swore that someday he’d discover his brother’s fate. After he became a cop, Mac’s probe triggered a nasty frame-up that sent his career down in flames. Now a struggling private eye, Mac can’t believe his luck when the second Mrs. Carlson, whose rags-to-riches marriage is headed for disaster, seeks his services to get the goods on her cheating husband. Mac’s not about to reveal he’s anything but a stranger to his quarry and miss this prime chance to pump Sid’s neglected trophy wife, Julie, for inside information about her slimy spouse. With no one to trust but each other, and danger closing in on every side, the gorgeous ex-beauty queen and the sexy ex-cop are soon sharing much more than just information. Karen Robards has packed this story with adventure, intrigue, and steamy sensuality.

25. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein, read by Angie, on 11/24/2013

Alexandriaville has been without a public library for 12 years. Luigi Lemoncello is a famous inventor of games and puzzles who grew up in Alexandriaville. He has turned the old bank into the most amazing library ever and in order to celebrate its opening he holds a contest for 12-year-olds. The winning 12 12-year-olds get to attend a lock-in at the library. It turns out to be more than a lock-in though. The library is full of games and puzzles the kids have to solve in order to find the way out of the library. The winners get to be Lemoncello’s spokesperson.

This book is a librarian’s dream book full of puzzles that require library knowledge to solve. The kids learn about the dewey decimal system and how the library is set up. The games are tricky using books and rebuses and library cards. The library itself is more wondrous than any library could ever be. I love how the characters are constantly referencing book titles; you could create a pretty good reading list from the titles listed in these pages. My only complaint was the characters. They are all pretty stereotypical with little depth. I think this is a book kids will gravitate towards though…who doesn’t love puzzles!

24. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Mystery, Pamela, Thriller/Suspense

House Rules by Jodi Picoult, read by Pamela, on 11/14/2013

house rulesWith Asperger’s syndrome, teenager Jacob Hunt is unable to have the same kind of social life other boys his age have. However, like other kids with AS, he has honed in on one particular interest: forensic analysis. He normally shows up to crime scenes and helps solve the case, but this time he is the prime suspect.  When a murder leads police to question Jacob, they interpret his AS symptoms as a sign of guilt and cast a very public spotlight on Jacob and his family.

The characters are well developed and intriguing to listen to.  Picoult is known to research her topic thoroughly which helped with understanding Asperger’s syndrome and the main character.  A very interesting story.

24. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder, read by Kira, on 11/18/2013

Maria Snyder crafts almost perfect fantasy novels featuring strong female protagonists.

Avry of Kazan is one of the last healers alive in the lands, she has been moving from town to town attempting to hide her gift because the healers have been blamed for spreading the devastating plague.  Healers work by absorbing the injuries into their own bodies, but then healing 5 times more quickly.

Marauders and despots have followed in the wake of the devastation.  Prince Ryne appears to be the only king capable of taking on the nefarious evil-doers.  Unfortunately, he has contracted the plague, but is in frozen stasis, in case a healer can be found.  Prince

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a touch of power

Kerrick is searching for a healer to bring Ryne back to life.

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22. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, NonFiction

The Butler: A Witness to History by Wil Haygood, read by Angie, on 11/22/2013

Eugene Allen was a butler in the White House for eight (8) presidents from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan. He was a witness to some of the biggest historical events of the 20th century. He lived a fascinating life and his story deserves to be told. However, it is not really told in this book. Unfortunately, this book is more the story of how Wil Haygood found out about Allen and how he wrote his article about him at the time of Obama’s election. We get snippets of Allen’s life, but the full story is not told here. The first half of this audiobook is Haygood’s story really. It is about his instincts about the election, his meeting Allen and its aftermath. The second half is a history of African Americans in cinema, which while fascinating really doesn’t fit in this story. The only link is the fact that a movie called The Butler was made about Eugene Allen’s life.

I found Eugene Allen to be a fascinating character and I am sure he has tons of stories to tell about his years in the White House. I think it is a missed opportunity on the part of the author not to tell more of those stories and a more complete story of Allen’s life.

22. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Jake Undone by Penelope Ward, read by Nikki, on 11/22/2013

Jake UndoneNina Kennedy was alive…but not living…until she met him.

Planes, trains, heights…you name it, Nina was afraid of it and led a sheltered life ruled by irrational fears and phobias. When she moves to Brooklyn for nursing school, that life is turned upside down, as she develops an intense but unwanted attraction to her gorgeous roommate, who’s pierced, tattooed and just happens to be the smartest person she’s ever met.

Behind Jake Green’s rough exterior and devilish smile, lies a heart of gold. He makes it his mission to change Nina’s outlook on life. When he agrees to tutor her, they forge a bet and the stakes are high as Jake forces Nina to face her demons. He just wasn’t expecting to fall hard for her in the process.

What Nina doesn’t realize is, that Jake has been living his own private hell. Once he drops a bombshell, will their love survive it?

Told in two parts from both Nina and Jake’s points of view, Jake Undone is a STANDALONE story and a companion to the novel, Gemini.

22. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Gemini by Penelope Ward, read by Nikki, on 11/19/2013

GeminiDiner waitress Allison Abraham had no idea her mundane life was about to dramatically change the day she serves a devastatingly handsome customer.

Allison is immediately captivated by the mysterious man who stared through her soul with his electric blue eyes. After he abruptly leaves the restaurant, she can’t get him out of her head.

She has no idea that he had actually come on a mission to find her.

Cedric Callahan wasn’t expecting to fall in love at first sight with the pretty waitress he’d set out to find. In fact, she was the last woman on Earth he should be having feelings for. But his selfish heart had other plans. Feeling compelled to know her before revealing himself, he makes her believe their meetings are coincidental.

After a passionate romance ignites, Cedric’s lies and secrets are finally revealed, changing both of their lives forever.

22. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Dystopia, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Insignia by S. J. Kincaid, read by Courtney, on 11/11/2013

Tom and his father have been traveling from place to place, grifting along the way to keep themselves fed. When Tom’s talent for virtual reality simulation games gets noticed, he is tapped by the those in the highest echelons of the US military to join their elite group of combatants who are currently fighting World War III. Tom agrees and is quickly shuttled off to the Pentagonal Spire, where these new types of soldiers are trained. He’s in for a bit of a shock when he gets there though. While the military aims to get the best and brightest, natural traits just aren’t enough in this brave new world. Each plebe (combatant-in-training) must receive a neural transplant. The brain is altered in such a way as to enhance memory and processing, while also allowing plebes and combatants to directly connect to the space ships that are doing the actual fighting in the war. Tom isn’t crazy about the transplant and realizes that he’s been manipulated, but eventually agrees to it on his own terms.
At first, Tom kind of loves his new transplant; he’s faster, smarter, better looking – everything that he wasn’t before arriving at the Pentagon. It isn’t long, however, before the drawbacks of the technology become glaring apparent. For instance, Tom learns rather quickly that the brain can be easily accessed and hacked by others, including curmudgeonly teachers, bullies, enemy combatants and the corporations that finance a plebe’s promotion to combat. Naturally, in a school full of teenagers with the same type of implant, hijinks ensue.
For me, this book had a kind of Ender’s-Game-meets-Harry-Potter (or Percy Jackson, if you prefer)vibe. Tom and his friends were, to me, strongly reminiscent of the Harry-Ron-Hermione trio. His programming professor reminded me of Snape. The bully? Total Draco potential. The virtual training and manipulation of children comes across as an updated rendition of Ender’s battle school. It’s both fun and thought-provoking. I read this with my middle school book group; everyone in the group loved it. Interestingly enough, roughly half the group said they’d love to have similar implants while the rest shuddered at the thought.

22. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Steam-punk, Teen Books

Soulless: The Manga, vol. 1 by Gail Carriger, illustrated by Rem, read by Courtney, on 11/06/2013

I can’t help but think that this manga is really more for established fans than those new to the Soulless series. I haven’t read any of the series, so I didn’t really know what to expect when I picked up the manga-style adaptations. I was not terribly impressed. In fact, I was kind of annoyed at the whole experience.
The story is lacking in detail and world-building, but that’s probably the result of it being an adaptation. The artwork is merely OK; it uses a lot of manga tropes, which, in an American comic, feels off somehow. I’m honestly getting very tired of popular series being turned into “manga”. Particularly annoying to me in this particular volume is the depiction of the female characters. The ridiculously large breasts and plunging necklines come across as entirely superfluous.
I wanted to like this series; I really did, but ultimately it just fell flat.

I was so excited to read this that I did something I rarely ever do: read an entire ebook on my phone. For real. I hate reading on my phone, especially for extended periods of time, but I don’t have a tablet or e-reader, so there you go. I received an e-copy of the book via NetGalley and promptly downloaded it to my phone. I had intended just to begin the book and then patiently wait for a print copy, but couldn’t ultimately could not stop reading. And laughing. So much laughing. Allie Brosh’s book is painfully honest and laugh-out-loud-hilarious. And her mastery of MS Paint for dramatic effect is unparalleled.
Anyone who has ever read and enjoyed “Hyperbole and a Half” ought to pick this up right away and read it cover to cover. Anyone who has never checked out “Hyperbole and a Half” has serious deficiencies in their life and they need to start reading the blog and/or this book immediately.

While the library doesn’t own a copy yet, we probably will sooner or later.  Until then, check out the blog at: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

You won’t be disappointed.

21. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Jake Undone by Penelope Ward, read by Jessica, on 11/20/2013

Nina Kennedy was alive…but not living…until she met him.

Planes, trains, heights…you name it, Nina was afraid of it and led a sheltered life ruled by irrational fears and phobias. When she moves to Brooklyn for nursing school, that life is turned upside down, as she develops an intense but unwanted attraction to her gorgeous roommate, who’s pierced, tattooed and just happens to be the smartest person she’s ever met.

Behind Jake Green’s rough exterior and devilish smile, lies a heart of gold. He makes it his mission to change Nina’s outlook on life. When he agrees to tutor her, they forge a bet and the stakes are high as Jake forces Nina to face her demons. He just wasn’t expecting to fall hard for her in the process.

What Nina doesn’t realize, is that Jake has been living his own private hell. Once he drops a bombshell, will their love survive it?

Told in two parts from both Nina and Jake’s points of view, Jake Undone is a standalone story and a companion to the novel, Gemini.