31. December 2013 · 1 comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Science Fiction

The Ninja Librarians by Jennifer Swann Downey, 384 pages, read by Angie, on 12/31/2013

Dorrie and Marcus accidently open a portal to Petrarch’s Library. The Library connects to many other libraries in many other times. Their portal is the first in the 21st century and they are greeted with suspicion by some. They are still able to start apprenticeships though. Marcus follows his true love into the world of plants and Dorrie learns swordcraft from Cyrano de Bergerac. Petrarch’s Library is filled with librarians whose mission is to save those throughout history who are persecuted for speaking out. The head of the library is Hypatia of Alexandria and many other historical characters inhabit this world. Dorrie and Marcus learn that there is also a secret society called the Foundation who works against Petrarch’s. They must decide if they want to go home to their world or learn how to become Ninja Librarians themselves!

What could be better than ninja librarians? I can’t think of a thing. This story is filled with adventure, sword fights, espionage and all kinds of craziness. But it also tells the story of some of history’s persecuted. Characters like Socrates and Hypatia and Saul of Tarsus (Paul of the Bible). There is a message throughout the book about speaking the truth and being persecuted for it. I loved Dorrie’s spunk and Marcus’s humor and fascination with Star Wars (he even gets Cassanova to do a play based on the movie). I think it would be amazing to travel to a place connected to so many other times and places and where you get your meals by reading them from a book. So very imaginative. Now I must go and practice my ninja skills. Never know when you might be called upon to be a ninja librarian.

I received a copy of this ARC from Netgalley.

31. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Sarah

Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker, 275 pages, read by Sarah, on 11/23/2013

Stella loves living with Great-aunt Louise in her big old house near the water on Cape Cod for many reasons, but mostly because Louise likes routine as much as she does, something Stella appreciates since her mom is, well, kind of unreliable. So while Mom “finds herself,” Stella fantasizes that someday she’ll come back to the Cape and settle down. The only obstacle to her plan? Angel, the foster kid Louise has taken in. Angel couldn’t be less like her name—she’s tough and prickly, and the girls hardly speak to each other.

But when tragedy unexpectedly strikes, Stella and Angel are forced to rely on each other to survive, and they learn that they are stronger together than they could have imagined. And over the course of the summer they discover the one thing they do have in common: dreams of finally belonging to a real family.

31. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Noelle, Romance, Teen Books

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, 328 pages, read by Noelle, on 10/02/2013

Eleanor & Park

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.

Oh God! This book broke my heart into a million little pieces and I loved every awkward, tender second of it!  Set in 1980’s Omaha Nebraska, this book follows the unlikely love story of two teens who gradually but surely fall in love, bonding over comic books and alternative 80’s music on the school bus. It is incredibly raw, poignant and wonderful.  Written with such a truthful take on the painful ecstasy of experiencing of first love, I wonder how much of this story was taken from the author’s own life experience.  Get out your old Smiths albums and read this book.  Highly Recommended!

 

 

 

 

 

31. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Lisa · Tags: ,

A Christmas Memory: One Christmas; The Thanksgiving Visitor by Truman Capote, 107 pages, read by Lisa, on 12/24/2013

Taking its place next to Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood on the Modern Library bookshelf is this new and original edition of Capote’s most famous short stories: “A Christmas Memory, ” “One Christmas, ” and “A Thanksgiving Memory.” All three stories are distinguished by Capote’s delicate interplay of childhood sensibility and recollective vision.

From one of the foremost authorities on education in the United States, former U.S. assistant secretary of education, “whistle-blower extraordinaire” (The Wall Street Journal), author of the best-selling The Death and Life of the Great American School System (“Important and riveting”—Library Journal), The Language Police (“Impassioned . . . Fiercely argued . . . Every bit as alarming as it is illuminating”—The New York Times), and other notable books on education history and policy—an incisive, comprehensive look at today’s American school system that argues against those who claim it is broken and beyond repair; an impassioned but reasoned call to stop the privatization movement that is draining students and funding from our public schools.
​In Reign of Error, Diane Ravitch argues that the crisis in American education is not a crisis of academic achievement but a concerted effort to destroy public schools in this country. She makes clear that, contrary to the claims being made, public school test scores and graduation rates are the highest they’ve ever been, and dropout rates are at their lowest point. ​She argues that federal programs such as George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and Barack Obama’s Race to the Top set unreasonable targets for American students, punish schools, and result in teachers being fired if their students underperform, unfairly branding those educators as failures. She warns that major foundations, individual billionaires, and Wall Street hedge fund managers are encouraging the privatization of public education, some for idealistic reasons, others for profit. Many who work with equity funds are eyeing public education as an emerging market for investors.
Reign of Error begins where The Death and Life of the Great American School System left off, providing a deeper argument against privatization and for public education, and in a chapter-by-chapter breakdown, putting forth a plan for what can be done to preserve and improve it. She makes clear what is right about U.S. education, how policy makers are failing to address the root causes of educational failure, and how we can fix it.

​For Ravitch, public school education is about knowledge, about learning, about developing character, and about creating citizens for our society. It’s about helping to inspire independent thinkers, not just honing job skills or preparing people for college. Public school education is essential to our democracy, and its aim, since the founding of this country, has been to educate citizens who will help carry democracy into the future.

30. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Out of Line by Jen McLaughlin, 214 pages, read by Nikki, on 12/30/2013

Out of LineDesperate to break free…

I’ve spent my entire life under my father’s thumb, but now I’m finally free to make my own choices. When my roommate dragged me to my first college party, I met Finn Coram and my life turned inside out. He knows how to break the rules and is everything I never knew I wanted. A Marine by day and surfer by night, he pushes me away even as our attraction brings us closer. Now I am finally free to do whatever I want. I know what I want. I choose Finn.

Trying to play by the rules…

I always follow orders. My job, my life, depends on it. I thought this job would be easy, all the rules were made crystal clear, but when I met Carrie Wallington, everything got muddy. She’s a rule I know I shouldn’t break, but damn if I don’t inch closer to the breaking point each time I see her. I’m ready to step out of line. And even worse? I’m living a lie. They say the truth will set you free, but in my case…

The truth will cost me everything.

30. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Romance, Teen Books

Defy by Sara B. Larson, 336 pages, read by Angie, on 12/27/2013

Alex/Alexa is a girl pretending to be a boy. When her parents are killed her twin brother helps her become a boy so she can avoid being sent to the rape houses. Because in this world little girls are sent to rape houses and raped until the become pregnant so their kids can either become breeders (girls) or soldiers (boys). Alexa has worked her way up to become one of Prince Damien’s personal guards. She is one of the best with a sword and a bow. However, she can’t stop thinking like a girl when she sees Damien’s dreamy abs. The country is at war with Blevin and the king is determined to wipe them out (thus the rape houses). Prince Damien gets kidnapped and takes Alex and another guard Rylan along with him. Turns out he is in with the resistance and wants to take down his dad. Also turns out Alexa is torn between her hot feelings for Damien and her slow burn for Rylan. There are battles, sorcerers and lots of longing looks.

I had issues with this book from the beginning. I have an intense dislike for love triangles, especially love triangles that really have no point and do nothing for the story. I thought this was going to be more of a fantasy adventure book, but it turned into a lot of long paragraphs about how Alexa can’t decide her feelings about Damien and Rylan. Doesn’t matter that Damien lied to her repeatedly throughout the book. He’s dreamy end of story. Rylan is long suffering and loves her from afar. My other issue was Alexa pretending to be a boy. It is a HUGE deal in the beginning of the story. It saves her from the rape houses and she has been doing it for three years. Yet is seems like everyone knew she was a boy and was perfectly fine with it. So what was the big deal.

I love fantasy books that have amazing worlds built into the stories. You feel like you know exactly where and who the people of the world are. That was not the case here. There is a jungle and sorcerers. That is about all I know about this world. It seemed like the story and world building were second to the love triangle. This could have been an amazing book. The premise was fantastic, but it really went no where and was pretty tedious to read.

I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley and from the publisher.

30. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Hunter Moran Hangs Out by Patricia Reilly Giff, 134 pages, read by Angie, on 12/28/2013

There are only a few days left in summer vacation and Hunter and his twin brother Zack are trying to make the most of it. Then Sarah Yulefski tells them she overheard someone talking about kidnapping a Moran. They have to figure out who it is before the kidnappee gets kidnapped. There is a bully in the woods, a weird stranger in the abandoned house across the street and a gymnastic freak friend of their sister. Who is going to be kidnapped and who is going to do it. This was a fun, quick read. There is a lot here kids are going to enjoy. It was easy to read, had lots of adventure and mystery and the characters were fun.

30. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Terrier (Beka Cooper #1) by Tamora Pierce, 581 pages, read by Angie, on 12/29/2013

Beka Cooper is a puppy. A Provost’s Guard in training. She has been assigned to the best dog pair in the evening watch and is ready to get to work. Beka has a good feel for the lower city and its people. She also hears the ghosts of the dead who are carried by pigeons. Through her little birdies she learns about two crimes: someone is hiring people to dig and the killing them and someone is kidnapping children and require ransom from the parents to get them back. Beka becomes a terrier with these two cases and convinces her dogs to investigate.

I have been reading Pierce for years and love how her novels have evolved. The Beka Cooper books are more well written than the Alanna books simply because she has more room to work. When the Alanna books were written there was no way they could be the length these books are today. The length gives Pierce more room to develop the plot and the characters.

I love the fact that Beka is not a high born character like so many of the Tortall characters are. She is from the lower city and that is where she will stay. She is an amazingly strong female and a good role model. The secondary characters are great as well. The rogues and dogs fit together wonderfully and Pierce has created another wonderful rascal in Rosto – I can’t wait to see how he turns out.

30. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Forever Jack by Natasha Boyd, 372 pages, read by Jessica, on 12/29/2013

Keri Ann Butler’s life changed on the night she met movie star, Jack Eversea. She thought she knew a Jack that was very different to the man adored by fans the world over. In the wake of his betrayal and abandonment, Keri Ann has had to pick up and move forward with the life she was supposed to live and has put off far too long.

Suddenly Jack is back, and his explanations for why he left seem more and more plausible, and his declarations more seductive. But being Jack’s latest tabloid accessory isn’t on Keri Ann’s career agenda, no matter how much she is attracted to him. And how can she can ever trust him again?

Jack knows he let the only ‘real’ thing that ever happened to him slip through his fingers. And his hands have been tied to try and stop it. Until Now.

Jack is now fighting to save his relationship with Keri Ann, even as his crazy life threatens to tear them apart. Again. The question is, can he convince her she can have it all? And have him? Forever?

30. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Until You by Penelope Douglas, 368 pages, read by Nikki, on 12/28/2013

Until YouHave you ever been so angry that hitting things felt good? Or so numb that you actually felt high? The past few years have been like that for me. Traveling between fury and indifference with no stops in between.

Some people hate me for it, while others are scared of me. But none of them can hurt me, because I don’t care about anything or anyone.

Except Tatum.

I love her so much that I hate her. I hate that I can’t let her go. We used to be friends, but I found out that I couldn’t trust her or anyone else.

So I hurt her. I pushed her away.

But I still need her. She centers me, and I can pool all of my anger into her. Engaging, challenging, bullying her–call it what you will–but it’s my food, my air, and the last part of me that feels anything human.

But then she went and screwed everything up. She left. She went to France for a year and came back a different girl.

Now, when I push, she pushes back.

30. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Bully by Penelope Douglas, 333 pages, read by Nikki, on 12/24/2013

BullyMy name is Tate. He doesn’t call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all. No, he’ll barely even speak to me.

But he still won’t leave me alone.

We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life. I’ve been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to stay out of his way. I even went to France for a year, just to avoid him.

But I’m done hiding from him now, and there’s no way in hell I’ll allow him to ruin my senior year. He might not have changed, but I have. It’s time to fight back.

30. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Beautifully Broken Rules by Kimberly Lauren, 374 pages, read by Nikki, on 12/22/2013

Beautifully Broken RulesWhat happens when you create rules to keep others out?

One thing Emerson Moore has come to terms with is that she is the school slut. She knows her way around a frat house and how to get what she wants. She doesn’t make any excuses for her actions and she doesn’t pretend to be anything different. She is who she is and with that she knows how to have a good time. She’s made rules to keep relationships at bay and avoid the demons of her past.

When her best friend, Cole has his two friends from back home move in with him she begins to think she has met her match with Jaxon Riley. Jax is the perfect mixture of tattooed muscle and a sweet-talking mouth. With “hand” written notes, a voice that exudes sex and knowing just how to get under her skin, Jaxon learns how to break all the rules. But will he just end up breaking her heart anyway?

30. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Before Now by Cheryl McIntyre, 245 pages, read by Nikki, on 12/20/2013

Before NowPark Reed is a bastard in every sense of the word. He hasn’t always been this way. But after his heart was broken by the only girl he ever loved, being heartless gets him through the day and allows him to fill his nights with the nameless girls he has no intentions of seeing again. He now lives his life following the ever-growing list of “life lessons.”

Lucy Braden is everything Park is not. She’s sweet, caring, and an all-around nice person. She tries to follow Lucy’s Rules to Live By every day.

When Park moves in with Jessie, which happens to be the floor below Lucy, Jessie’s one stipulation: Lucy is off limits to Park. The problem with that is Lucy is determined to be a good friend to Park and see past the drinking and random girls to find the man beneath it all. The other problem: Park follows his own rules.

30. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Simple Perfection by Abbi Glines, 273 pages, read by Nikki, on 12/18/2013

Simple PerfectionWoods had his perfect life mapped out for him. Rise up the ranks of the family business. Marry the rich girl of his parents’ dreams. Pretend that wealth and privilege was all he’d ever wanted. Then a girl named Della breezed into town, a beautifully imperfect stranger who captured his heart and opened his eyes to a new kind of future. Woods is ready and willing to sacrifice everything for her when the sudden death of his father leaves him with his mother to care for and a business to manage.

Della is determined to be strong for Woods, even as she’s quietly falling to pieces. No matter how far from home she’s run, the ghosts of her past have never stopped haunting her. Struggling to hide her true feelings from Woods, Della fears she can’t be his rock without dragging him down into the darkness with her. But is she strong enough to let go of the last thing holding her together?

30. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Forever Too Far by Abbi Glines, 292 pages, read by Nikki, on 12/16/2013

Forever Too FarRush promised her forever…
but promises can be broken.

Torn between his love for his family and his love for Blaire, Rush has to find a way to save one without losing the other. In the end one has to be more important. Letting go isn’t easy.

Blaire believed in her fairytale…
but no one can live in a fantasy.

Her love for Rush and desire to have a family keep her believing that they can find a way for this to work. Until she has to make the right decision for her and the baby. Even if it breaks her heart.

Can they find the forever that they both want or has it all just gone… too far?

30. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Remy by Katy Evans, 272 pages, read by Nikki, on 12/06/2013

RemyUnderground fighter Remington Tate is a mystery, even to himself. His mind is dark and light, complex and enlightening. At times his actions and moods are carefully measured, and at others, they spin out of control.

Through it all, there’s been one constant: wanting, needing, loving, and protecting Brooke Dumas. This is his story; from the first moment he laid eyes on her and knew, without a doubt, she would be the realest thing he’s ever had to fight for.

30. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Mine by Katy Evans, 336 pages, read by Nikki, on 12/03/2013

MineIn 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.

30. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Eric, Fiction, Science Fiction · Tags:

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman, 101 pages, read by Eric, on 12/27/2013

When late returning home from a trip to the market for milk, a father explains to his children why he was delayed. A simple setup for an inventive (and hilarious) science fiction adventure story, told as only Neil Gaiman can. Or, possibly, as Douglas Adams would have, because Gaiman seems to be channeling his spirit. The adventures take the father through familiar time-travelling tropes, but the fun is in how Gaiman ties it all together with a neat bow at the end. I especially like his various descriptions for gelatinous aliens. The illustrations are by Skottie Young, and are as funny as the text.

30. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Classics, Eric, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Jules Verne's Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Gary Gianni, 64 pages, read by Eric, on 12/20/2013

Jules Verne’s undersea adventure novel gets the graphic novel treatment by artist-author Gary Gianni, best known for his illustrating work on the Prince Valiant comic. Gianni’s beautiful retro art style is perfectly suited for Verne’s stories, so I’m not surprised he was interested in adapting Leagues. The narrative is necessarily pared down, but the tone and major plot points of the original are here, and the art is wonderful. A reprinting of a 1962 essay by Ray Bradbury serves as an introduction, and alone is worth picking up this book. Also included is the full text of Sea Raiders, by H.G. Wells, which Gianni also illustrates. Highly recommended for those appreciative of classic adventure writing and illustration.