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

Operation Yes by Sara Lewis Holmes, 256 pages, read by Angie, on 11/20/2013

Everyone you know is fighting a great battle.
Time to step up. Time to step in. Time to say yes.

Bo’s dad is the commander of the Air Force Base they live on. Bo is in sixth grade and has a new teacher this year. Ms. Loupe is an Air Force brat so she knows all about life on the base. Her entire family is in the military including her brother Marc who is stationed in Afghanistan. Ms. Loupe is unlike any teacher the class has had before. She comes from a theater background and starts teaching them improv from day one. She has a TAPED SPACE where anything can happen and she brings in a ugly green couch for a prop. Gari is Bo’s cousin. She is forced to leave her home in Seattle and move in with Bo’s family when her mom, an Army nurse, is deployed to Iraq.

Marc is reported missing from his squad and when he is found he is gravely injured. This puts Ms. Loupe off her game and makes her step back from her class. In order to get Ms. Loupe back and to show how much they care for her, Bo, Gari and the rest of Class 208 enact Operation Yes. The plan is to get 100,000 LGM (little green men) and deploy them throughout the school. Each LGM can be purchased for a $1 donation and all proceeds will go to help wounded soldiers. Soon the students have started a nation-wide campaign and written a play about the soldiers. But best of all they have brought Ms. Loupe back to herself.

I didn’t think I would like this book as much as I did. The second reading was just as good as the first. It seems like such a simple story about kids on a military base, but it ended up being more than that. It was about hope and learning to accept the life you are given and making something of that life. It is about learning to say yes and what happens when you do. It is about being present in the lives of others and how your presence can affect others lives. I thought the kids were fantastic and very realistic. Their reactions were exactly like I would expect kids to react. I would definitely recommend this one to kids.

21. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Science Fiction

The Nine Lives of Alexander Baddenfield by John Bemelmans Marciano, Sophie Blackall (Illustrations), 144 pages, read by Angie, on 11/20/2013

Alexander Baddenfield is the last of the Baddenfields. Each member of the family has died in some very unpleasant way at a young age. At age 12, Alexander is sure he is going to end up the same way despite the fact that he has been protected and coddled by his man Winterbottom (a Winterbottom has always taken care of the Baddenfields). So he concocts a plan to implant the nine lives of his cat into himself. He finds a mad scientist to do the operation and it is successful. Alexander now feels invincible and quickly wastes his lives by touching the third rail, being thrown head first into a wall during a car crash (he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt), being swallowed by his python, being gored by a bull repeatedly and drowning. When he is down to his last life he finally starts to take precautions, or goes completely off the deep end depending on your point of view. However, a simple allergic reaction finally gets him in the end.

This book had the feel of Lemony Snicket or Roald Dahl, but didn’t quite live up to its ancestors. Alexander really has no redeeming qualities, not even in the end, that would make you want to cheer for him. The true hero of the book is Winterbottom, but he seems so one note that you don’t want to cheer for him either. The book is a quick read, but not necessarily a fun one. The first half is a family history of the Baddenfields and how they died. The second half is all about how Alexander keeps dying. Some of the deaths are fully fleshed out and described and others are not. I found it a little uneven and repetitive.

21. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Autobiographies, Humor, NonFiction

If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't) by Betty White, 258 pages, read by Angie, on 11/20/2013

This short book was very entertaining to listen too. Betty White narrates the audiobook herself and is as funny as ever. She talks about a lot of things from her career to her love of pets to the people she has met. All stories are told with humor and the Betty White whit. It does seem a little random the way she jumps from topic to topic, but it is Betty White so all is forgiven.

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

Edge of Always by J.A. Redmerski, 464 pages, read by Jessica, on 11/18/2013

Five months ago, Camryn and Andrew, both dealing with personal hardships, met on a Greyhound bus. They fell in love and proved that when two people are meant to be together, fate will find a way to make it happen.

Now, in the highly anticipated sequel to The Edge of Never, Camryn and Andrew are pursuing their love for music and living life to the fullest as they always swore to do. But when tragedy befalls them, their relationship is put to the ultimate test. As Camryn tries to numb her pain, Andrew makes a bold decision: To get their life back on track, they’ll set out on another cross-country road trip. Together they find excitement, passion, adventure-and challenges they never could have anticipated.

19. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff, 240 pages, read by Angie, on 11/18/2013

A Tangle of Knots illustrates just how connected we are to the people around us. This book takes a seemingly unconnected set of people and shows just how much their lives are tied together. You have an old man looking for a suitcase he lost years ago. A woman who takes care of orphans and finds them homes. An older woman who has lost her voice and her words. A young girl looking for her talent. A boy who thinks he’s worthless and can’t seem to do anything to stop. A young adventurer who loves monsters and cake. A woman hanging onto her past glory. But most of all you have a young baker who wants to bake the perfect cake for everyone. These lives might not seem to be connected but they all end up living at the Lost Luggage Emporium and becoming a family.

The world of A Tangle of Knots is one in which everyone has a Talent. It might be a talent for baking or knitting or spitting or floating. You never know what you talent is and some of them are more useful than others. The Talents aren’t really explained very well they are just part of the world and the story. The other mystery in the book is the large man in the gray suit who appears to each of the characters throughout the book. He seems to show up just when things are happening and helps set the characters on their path. Who is he? What does he know? That isn’t really answered.

If you are looking for a fully developed world and a straight-forward story this book isn’t for you. If you enjoy just going along for the ride and enjoy a little magical mystery I think you will enjoy this tale.

19. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, History, NonFiction

The Lost Museum: The Nazi Conspiracy To Steal The World's Greatest Works Of Art by Hector Feliciano, Tim Bent (translator), 336 pages, read by Angie, on 11/18/2013

Hitler loved art and it was one of his goals to return many of the masters to Germany and to set up one of the best museums in the world. In order to do that he pillaged and plundered Europe. This book covers Paris and its stolen art and is based on an article written in France. I knew about the Nazi’s agenda to steal art, but I didn’t realize how systematic it was. Hitler and Goering were determined to find and send to Germany as much art as possible, most of which was taken from wealthy Parisian Jews. As in other areas during WWII, there was a lot of collaboration from the Paris art dealers. In fact the Paris art world was booming during this period. Art was going for outrageous prices (both high and low) and dealers were becoming really wealthy. None of the activities during the war really surprised me. What surprised me most was what happened after the war when the owners tried to get their possessions back. Barely half of the art stolen by the Nazis has been found and returned. There was a great deal of effort immediately after the war, but there was also a lot of stonewalling and dead ends. If the art ended up in Eastern Europe, it became the spoils of war or reparations for the Soviet Union. Most of that art has never been seen. If it ended up in Switzerland, a supposed neutral country, there was no recourse to get it back. Swiss law was such that it was almost impossible to claim stolen goods there even if you knew where they were. I think what really surprised me was the French museums and the auction houses. There are some 2000 pieces in French museums that are Nazi contraband and have never been claimed; however, the museums have made almost no effort to find the owners. The auctions houses are even worse. Places like Christie’s and Sotheby’s have sold stolen art repeatedly with little or no investigation into their provenances.

Of course all this information is from The Lost Museum. While I found the information really interesting, the book was not. It was not well written or easily readable. Part of this may be the translation, but that does not explain how boring it was in parts. I found myself skimming probably half of the book just to get through it. There are paragraphs long lists of paintings. The author also gives biographies of the Jews whose art was stolen, but spends very little time on the actual story of the theft. Instead of a laundry list of paintings, I would have preferred more on the actual story about the journey the art took and what happened to it after the war. There is some of this but not enough.

18. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Humor, NonFiction, Sarah

Fakebook by Dave Cicerelli, 306 pages, read by Sarah , on 11/16/2013

Ever feel like you life is in a rut?  Wonder what it would be like to quit your job and start hiking across America?  Dave Cicirelli does just that, on his facebook profile.  Only a few people know the truth, he is still employed and has not “travelled” anywhere!  This book is good fun for the facebook addict.  Dave plays on people’s emotions and gets real responses to each of his updates.  Some people applaud him and others cajol and reprimand him.  This experiment to see what would happen if he made everyone believe he had jumped off of the deep end, takes over his life for about 6 months.  He discovers through this process that his previous perception of facebook aka fakebook, may be a little off.

This was a great read complete with fakebook updates and pictures to fill out the story.  It has some strong language at times, but it doesn’t detract from the story.

17. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction · Tags:

Secrets of a Civil War Submarine: Solving the Mysteries of the H.L. Hunley by Sally M. Walker, 112 pages, read by Angie, on 11/17/2013

The H.L. Hunley was the first submarine to sink a ship in wartime. It was built during the Civil War and actually sank twice before completely a mission successfully. On February 17, 1864 the Hunley sank the USS Housatonic off the Charleston Harbor. Unfortunately, the Hunley never made it back to shore nor was it ever seen again. The Hunley was found buried in the mud in 1995. It took several years and lots of work before the Hunley revealed its secrets. Scientists still don’t know exactly why the Hunley sank with all eight crewmen aboard. However, the crew have now been put to rest while the investigation into the Hunley continues.

17. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Gingersnap by Patricia Reilly Giff, 160 pages, read by Angie, on 11/16/2013

Jayne, Gingersnap, and her brother Rob are orphans living alone. Rob is old enough now to take Jayne in, but it is the 1944 and Rob is about to ship out to the Pacific. Jayne goes to live with their landlady, but isn’t happy there. Before he left, Rob showed Jayne a book in French that he believed to be from their grandmother. When she receives a telegram saying Rob is missing, Jayne decides to head to Brooklyn and find her grandmother. She does make it to Brooklyn and Elise’s bakery, but it turns out Elise isn’t her grandma. She stays anyway and makes it her home.

I found this story a little thin with lots of holes. There is an unidentified ghost who helps Jayne out. Elise isn’t really Elise she is Madeline, but goes by Elise who was really Jayne’s grandma. This is one book I wish was a little longer so the story could have been explored a little more.

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

Mine by Katy Evans, 320 pages, read by Jessica, on 11/13/2013

He’s mine, and I’m his. Our love is all-consuming, powerful, imperfect, and real…

In the international bestseller REAL, the unstoppable bad boy of the Underground fighting circuit finally met his match. Hired to keep him in prime condition, Brooke Dumas unleashed a primal desire in Remington “Riptide” Tate as vital as the air he breathes… and now he can’t live without her.

Brooke never imagined she would end up with the man who is every woman’s dream, but not all dreams end happily ever after, and just when they need each other the most, she is torn away from his side. Now with distance and darkness between them, the only thing left is to fight for the love of the man she calls MINE.

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

Good as Gone by Douglas Corleone , 304 pages, read by Madeline, on 11/12/2013

Former U.S. Marshal Simon Fisk works as a private contractor, tracking down and recovering children who were kidnapped by their own estranged parents. He only has one rule: he won’t touch stranger abduction cases. He’s still haunted by the disappearance of his own daughter when she was just a child, still unsolved, and stranger kidnappings hit too close to home.

Until, that is, six-year-old Lindsay Sorkin disappears from her parents’ hotel room in Paris, and the French police deliver Simon an ultimatum: he can spend years in a French jail, or he can take the case and recover the missing girl. Simon sets out in pursuit of Lindsay and the truth behind her disappearance. But Lindsay’s captors did not leave an easy trail, and following it will take Simon across the continent, through the ritziest nightclubs and the seediest back alleys, into a terrifying world of international intrigue and dark corners of his past he’d rather leave well alone.

16. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, History, Madeline, NonFiction

Sugar changed the world : a story of magic, spice, slavery, freedom, and science by Marc Aronson, Marina Budhos, 166 pages, read by Madeline, on 11/06/2013

When this award-winning husband-and-wife team discovered that they each had sugar in their family history, they were inspired to trace the globe-spanning story of the sweet substance and to seek out the voices of those who led bitter sugar lives. The trail ran like a bright band from religious ceremonies in India to Europe’s Middle Ages, then on to Columbus, who brought the first cane cuttings to the Americas. Sugar was the substance that drove the bloody slave trade and caused the loss of countless lives but it also planted the seeds of revolution that led to freedom in the American colonies, Haiti, and France. With songs, oral histories, maps, and over 80 archival illustrations, here is the story of how one product allows us to see the grand currents of world history in new ways. Time line, source notes, bibliography, index.

16. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Romance, Teen Books

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, 328 pages, read by Angie, on 11/15/2013

Eleanor and Park is the story of two teenagers in 1986 Omaha. They are both different and don’t quite fit in. They bond over comic books and music. Each day on the bus they become closer and closer without even speaking. Then one day they realize they can’t get enough of each other. It is first love in all its intensity. They are everything to each other and don’t need anyone or anything else.

I couldn’t get enough of this book. Eleanor and Park are both so intense in their own ways. Their love for each other is so all consuming. It is that first love where you don’t think you can go on without the other, where nothing else matters but being with that person. It is the first love where you don’t think anything else will ever compare. Their feelings were palpable and actually made me cringe at times because they were so intense. Her relationship with Park is a very good contrast to her horrible home life with a mother who has emotionally abandoned her children and an abusive step-father. I think I held my breath during the last few chapters of the book when everything came to a head. The ending left me wanting more and just a little bit heartbroken, but hopeful for the future.

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

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes, 240 pages, read by Angie, on 11/15/2013

The Year of Billy Miller is the story of Billy’s second grade year; his interactions with his teacher, his sister and his parents. Even though this is a longer book, it is still geared towards those beginning readers in second and third grade. The language is simple and easy to read and the stories are relatable to younger readers. I liked Billy and his family and thought all the stories were nice, realistic tales.

16. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, NonFiction, Science

The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle, 48 pages, read by Angie, on 11/14/2013

The Doctor: Donna, come on, think: Earth, there must have been some sort of warning. Was there anything happening back in your day, like… electrical storms, freak weather, patterns in the… sky?
Donna Noble: Well, how should I know? Um, no. I don’t- I don’t think so. No.
The Doctor: [disappointed] Oh, OK, nevermind.
Donna Noble: Although, there were the bees disappearing.
The Doctor: [dismissive] The bees disappearing.
The Doctor: [sarcastic] The *bees* disappearing.
The Doctor: [revelational] The bees disappearing!

Of course the bees are disappearing, any fan of Dr. Who knows that. In fact it is true that honeybees at least have been disappearing. Colonies have collapsed and scientists have been trying to work out why. They have explored changing habitats, overwork, diet, mites, fungus, pesticides, and cell phones. Luckily cell phones have been cleared, but the others have all been found to contribute to colony declines. I didn’t realize how important bees were to our way of life. They are the main pollinators for not just flowers but many of the foods we rely on. This book is a wake up call to the role bees play in our lives and what we should do to protect them.

16. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Autobiographies, Children's Books, History, NonFiction · Tags: ,

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson, 240 pages, read by Angie, on 11/14/2013

I couldn’t put this book down; I didn’t want to put it down. Leon Leyson captured my attention and held it throughout his entire story. We learn a lot about the Holocaust and what happened during those years, but I haven’t ever really read an autobiography about it. Leon Leyson was just a young boy when Germany invaded Poland. He and his family lived in Krakow and quickly began to feel the effects of the Nazi machine. Because his father had a job, most of his family was protected, but they were never really safe. His father worked for Oskar Schindler at his enamel factor and was one of the first on “the list”. Leon, his mother and his brother David also had their names added to the list. Unfortunately, two of his brothers did not; one fled to the country and one was rounded up during one of the ghetto cleansings. His sister worked for another factory and was protected until the end. Being on Schindler’s list did not necessarily mean full protection however. The family was still subjected to the ghetto and the guards who terrorized it. They were also all sent to concentration camps during the move from Krakow to Brunnlitz. This is a very compelling story of one family’s survival during the atrocities of WWII. Leon didn’t die horribly like so many others during that time. He survived, moved to America and became a teacher. It wasn’t until the release of Schindler’s List that he started to speak about his experiences. Leon Leyson was the youngest person on the list, but he was not the only one. Oskar Schindler’s bravery and dedication to saving his Jews was amazing. Reading this book made me want to learn more about Schindler (beyond what I remember from the movie!).

16. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Teen Books

A Grimm Legacy by Janna Jennings , 249 pages, read by Angie, on 11/13/2013

Andi, Quinn, Frederick and Dylan are all sucked from their lives and into another world. It is a world where fairy tales are real. They are assisted/kidnapped by a mysterious Mr. Jackson who is reluctant to turn them over to his boss. The four must figure out why they are in this world and what role they need to play. It turns out each of their grandparents escaped from Elorium many years ago and they are back to finish the abandoned tales.

I really enjoy fractured fairy tales and this one didn’t disappoint. The girls’ tales were easy to figure out. Andi had a magical cloak and shoes, Quinn’s hair grows at an alarming rate. The boys were a little more difficult and less obvious. I liked the mystery of the story and the open-ended ending that allows for more tales.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.com.

13. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Kira

Goodbye For Now by Laurie Frankel, 289 pages, read by Kira, on 11/12/2013

goodbyenow4nowProtagonist Sam works for as a programmer for an online dating company.  As he is filling out an online application in the hopes of meeting the right one, he realizes  that none of the questions really tap into really meaningful issues.  Even if meaningful questions were included, most people would lie.  So, proposes that he writes a new software algorithm that taps into people’s financial statements.  The good news is that it works really successfully in matching up couples.  The bad news is that it is too successful and long term monthly signups drop.  He is fired, then the grandmother of his new girlfriend Meredith – the perfect match from his algorith – dies.  Meredith spends HUGE amounts of time moping and mourning her grandmother’s death.  In an effort to return his love Meredith to her usual self, Sam creates another algorithm based on digital conversations between Meredith and her grandmother to recreate a digital version of the grandmother.

The book seems more like a mouthpiece to explore these complicated issues.  Unfortunately, there is a HUGE amount of whining by most of the characters (I’m usually pretty sympathetic, but the characters are so hopeless and pathetic). Might have been better reading the book instead of listening to it.

13. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Judy, Thriller/Suspense

Oath of Office by Michael Palmer, 371 pages, read by Judy, on 11/11/2013

What if a well respected doctor inexplicably goes on a murderous rampage? When Dr. John Meacham goes on a shooting spree at the office, his business partner, staff, and two patients are killed in the bloodbath. Then Meacham turns the gun on himself. The blame falls on Dr. Lou Welcome. Welcome worked with Merriman years before as a counselor after John’s medical license had been revoked for drug addiction. Lou knew that John was an excellent doctor and deserved to be practicing medicine and fought hard for his license to be restored. After hearing the news of the violent outburst, Lou is in shock like everyone else, but mostly he’s incredulous. And when he begins to look into it further, the terrifying evidence he finds takes him down a path to an unspeakable conspiracy that seems to lead directly to the White House and those in the highest positions of power

This heart stopping thriller will have you questioning everything you know about those entrusted with our health, our country, and lives.

This book will keep you in suspense the whole way through to the very end.    If you love a good mystery thriller, you will love this book.


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

No Escape by Mary Burton, 384 pages, read by Melody, on 11/08/2013

He Was Taught How To Kill

Even behind bars, serial killer Harvey Day Smith exudes menace. Psychologist Jolene Granger has agreed to hear his dying confession, vowing not to let the monster inside her head. And Harvey has secrets to share—about bodies that were never found, and about the apprentice who is continuing his grisly work…

And Now He’ll Teach Them

He buries his victims alive the way his mentor Harvey did, relishing their final screams as the earth rains down. And as one last gift to the only father he knew, he’ll make the most perfect kill of all.

How To Die

Everything about this investigation is unnerving Jo, from Harvey’s fascination with her to the fact that she’s working alongside Texas Ranger Brody Winchester, her ex-husband. Harvey’s protégé is growing bolder and more vicious every day. And soon the trail of shallow graves will lead them to the last place Jo expected, and to the most terrifying truth of all.