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

Odd, Weird & Little by Patrick Jennings, 160 pages, read by Angie, on 12/20/2013

Woodrow has always been the weird kid that gets picked on in school. Then Toulouse shows up. He is even weirder than Woodrow. He is tiny, doesn’t speak much English, wears suits and gloves and hats, and is just plain strange. Woodrow and Toulouse become friends and discover they have a lot in common besides being picked on by bullies. Toulouse also has a secret; a secret that explains a lot of the things he does. Together Woodrow and Toulouse are stronger than they are apart and they become good enough friends to stand up to the bullies.

This is a charming little story about being comfortable with who you are and not letting the bullies win. I loved the unique quirks exhibited by Woodrow and Toulouse. While Toulouse’s secret might not make this book very realistic the situations are and the message is a good one for all those kids being bullied.

I received a copy of this book from netgalley.

20. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, NonFiction · Tags: , ,

Magical Housekeeping: Simple Charms & Practical Tips for Creating a Harmonious Home by Tess Whitehurst, 224 pages, read by Brian, on 12/08/2013

8395989Magical Housekeeping is book to help a person clear clutter from their lives.  The thinking is, too much stuff fogs up the mind and makes it harder to make decisions.  The book talks about by getting rid of old stuff you open yourself up to newer better things is so desire. There is also advice and how to set up the furniture in your home for the appropriate amount of energy.


20. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Dangerous by Shannon Hale, 400 pages, read by Angie, on 12/19/2013

Maisie Danger Brown has big dreams; dreams that seem impossible since she only has one arm. However, she wins a contest and gets to go to a private space camp. While at space camp she meets other kids and becomes part of the fireteam that wins a trip into space. In space, Howell, the director of the program, shows them alien tokens. When the kids touch the tokens they are implanted into them and give the kids special abilities. Now that the kids are superheroes they begin to train together and learn about their powers. The alien technology isn’t safe and it starts changing the kids. Soon they are pitted against each other. When one dies their token gets absorbed by the kid touching them. Maisie accidentally absorbs a second token and takes off scared. There are groups trying to control the kids; there are alien invasion threats; and there are threats to Maisie and her family. She doesn’t know who to trust or if she can trust herself.

This book seemed ridiculous from beginning to end. It was really difficult to finish it because the story was just so out there. I usually love Shannon Hale’s work, but this one just didn’t work for me. The kids are mature way beyond their years. The alien technology thing was just bizarre. The relationship between Maisie and Wilder made me cringe every time they were together. And then came the alien invasion and Maisie’s single-handed work to stop it. I want my science fiction to be at least a little plausible and this one just wasn’t.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

20. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle · Tags:

The Maid's Version: A Novel by Daniel Woodrell, 164 pages, read by Noelle, on 12/17/2013

I’ve been a fan of Daniel Woodrell for a while, but I honestly wasn’t sure if this book would live up to all of the critical hype.  The subject matter in particular didn’t suck me in at first.  However, I eventually got quite caught up in Woodrell’s savory-rich storytelling style.  I also loved how he threw generous daggers of raw insight into the human condition all throughout the book, making the characters and their plights undeniably fascinating.

19. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Rachel, Short Stories, Teen Books

Tales From Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan, 92 pages, read by Rachel, on 12/18/2013

An exchange student who’s really an alien, a secret room that becomes the perfect place for a quick escape, a typical tale of grandfatherly exaggeration that is actually even more bizarre than he says… These are the odd details of everyday life that grow and take on an incredible life of their own in tales and illustrations that Shaun Tan’s many fans will love.

This book is a quick read, but is emotionally exhausting (in a good way!). The short stories play on human emotions and leave you thinking at the end. It reminds me of old-time stories where the meaning was not necessarily written in the words, and the endings left you with nothing but the moral. Some are sad, some are hopeful, and some are just weird!

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

Relic by Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, 473 pages, read by Tracy, on 12/17/2013

Investigating a series of savage murders that disrupt a massive new exhibition at the New York Museum of Natural History, graduate student Margo Green finds a clue in a failed Amazonian expedition.

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

Brimstone by Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, 740 pages, read by Tracy, on 12/13/2013

A body is found in the attic of a fabulous Long Island estate.
There is a claw print scorched into the wall, and the stench of sulfur chokes the air.
When FBI Special Agent Pendergast investigates the gruesome crime, he discovers that thirty years ago four men conjured something unspeakable.
Has the devil come to claim his due?
Some things can’t be undone.

18. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Tracy, Westerns · Tags:

A Big Sky Christmas by William W. Johnstone, J.A. Johnstone, 416 pages, read by Tracy, on 12/10/2013

From the masters of frontier fiction comes a holiday tale set in the very heart of America–a Western saga of courageous souls coming together, with a little help from the Jensen family

18. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Tracy

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe, 376 pages, read by Tracy, on 12/08/2013

Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie’s grandmother’s abandoned home near Salem, she can’t refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest–to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge.

As the pieces of Deliverance’s harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem’s dark past then she could have ever imagined.

Written with astonishing conviction and grace, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane travels seamlessly between the witch trials of the 1690s and a modern woman’s story of mystery, intrigue, and revelation.

18. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Tracy

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon, 465 pages, read by Tracy, on 12/03/2013

As the summer of 2004 draws to a close, Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe are still hanging in there—longtime friends, bandmates, and co-regents of Brokeland Records, a kingdom of used vinyl located in the borderlands of Berkeley and Oakland. Their wives, Gwen Shanks and Aviva Roth-Jaffe, are the Berkeley Birth Partners, two semi-legendary midwives who have welcomed more than a thousand newly minted citizens into the dented utopia at whose heart—half tavern, half temple—stands Brokeland.

When ex-NFL quarterback Gibson Goode, the fifth-richest black man in America, announces plans to build his latest Dogpile megastore on a nearby stretch of Telegraph Avenue, Nat and Archy fear it means certain doom for their vulnerable little enterprise. Meanwhile, Aviva and Gwen also find themselves caught up in a battle for their professional existence, one that tests the limits of their friendship. Adding another layer of complication to the couples’ already tangled lives is the surprise appearance of Titus Joyner, the teenage son Archy has never acknowledged and the love of fifteen-year-old Julius Jaffe’s life.

An intimate epic, a NorCal Middlemarch set to the funky beat of classic vinyl soul-jazz and pulsing with a virtuosic, pyrotechnical style all its own, Telegraph Avenue is the great American novel we’ve been waiting for. Generous, imaginative, funny, moving, thrilling, humane, and triumphant.

18. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Pamela

Prayers for Sales by Sandra Dallas, 305 pages, read by Pamela, on 12/17/2013

prayersSet in the high country of Colorado and during the Depression, this is a story of women’s strengths and friendships amid the harshest living conditions.  Hennie Comfort has lived in Middle Swan for seventy years.  She doesn’t sell prayers, but Nit Spindle, a young wife new to the area, wants to buy one for her little girl who passed away before they moved to Colorado.  This is the segue that Hennie needs to befriend Nit and over the course of the story they share their deepest hardships and secrets while visiting, quilting, and walking the hills in spring.  A few twists and turns in this story line kept me listening to this book.  It’s not all gloom and doom – lots of good things happen to the characters.  Recommended to those who like a little history woven within a story.

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

Remy by Katy Evans, 273 pages, read by Jessica, on 12/15/2013

Underground 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.

16. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Sarah, Teen Books

This is How I Find Her by Sara Polsky, 260 pages, read by Sarah, on 12/13/2013

 How would you like to be solely in charge of your manic-depressive mother at 16?  What would you do if you came home to find her passed out with a bottle of spilled pills all around her?  Sophie has had an interesting life dealing with and managing her mom’s ups and downs.  At this point, her mother is hospitalized and Sophie has to stay with other family.  But the freedom that comes with her new situation makes her wonder….does she really want her mom to come back home?

This is a heart-wrenching story with strong-willed characters and a realization that sometimes we can’t do it all on our own.

16. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Cats, Humor, NonFiction, Tammy

Does this Collar make my Butt Look Big? A Diet Book for Cats by Dena Harris, 119 pages, read by Tammy, on 12/14/2013

cat humorA humorous look at several of the current popular diets from the view point of a housecat. Tongue in cheek diet and cat humor.

16. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Graphic Book, Historical Fiction, Tammy

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, 637 pages, read by Tammy, on 12/16/2013

wonderstruckA beautifully illustrated novel by the author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which the movie Hugo is based on. This novel combines two separate children’s lives into one coherent story through text and full page illustrations. An imaginative book that won’t soon be forgotten. Even though it’s a children’s book the story and drawings may be appreciated even more by adults.

16. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction

The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson, 256 pages, read by Angie, on 12/15/2013

Eel lives in Victorian London. He makes his way working a number of jobs; working in a tavern, cleaning up for a tailor, taking care of the animals for Dr. Snow and occasionally as a mudlark finding useful things in the Thames. Eel is accused of stealing at the tavern and loses his place. He tries to get the tailor Mr. Griggs to vouch for him and discovers he has the blue death, or cholera. Soon hundreds of people in his neighborhood have gotten sick or died. Eel seeks the help of Dr. Snow to figure out what caused the outbreak and what can be done to stop it.

This book is a fabulous mix of fact and fiction. There really was an outbreak of cholera on Broad Street at this time. Dr. Snow really did figure out the cause and help stop the outbreak. He was the first doctor to link cholera with water contamination. While Eel and some of the others in the book didn’t actually exist, their stories mix very well with the historical facts. This is a very fast-paced book with lots of intriguing plot twists.

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

Listening for Lucca by Suzanne LaFleur, 240 pages, read by Angie, on 12/14/2013

Sienna is devoted to her little brother Lucca. She plays with him and takes care of him and reads him stories. She does this because she loves her little brother and because she feels like she is the reason he doesn’t talk. There is nothing wrong with Lucca, he just chooses not to talk at all. He makes noises and acts like a normal boy in all other ways. The parents decide to move the family away from their Brooklyn neighborhood and buy a house on the Maine coast. It is a house Sienna has seen in her dreams and things get even stranger once they move in. Sienna starts having visions of the family that lived there during WWII. She finds a pen that allows her to write the little girl Sarah’s story while in a trance. Sienna believes that Sarah and Joshua’s story is connected to her and Lucca’s in some way. She must solve the mystery of what happened in the past in order to fix the present.

I liked Sienna’s story. For the most part she is a very realistic girl devoted to her brother, scared of making new friends, etc. I even thought her hobby of collecting lost things was quirky and fun. The ghost story/visions of the past however fell a little flat to me. It was a plot line with little reason for being other than to bulk up the story. Sienna’s connection never really made sense to me and I wish there would have been a little more reason for it being there. I also had problems with Lucca. He basically chose not to talk when he was a toddler. At three he has made the conscious decision not to speak to anyone. I am not sure a three-year-old could really make that decision or think that deeply. It would have made more sense if he was a bit older, but the fact that he was so young made it really hard to buy into. However, if you suspend your disbelief when reading this book you will find a charming story about a close family trying to make a fresh start. Even with all its problems I did enjoy the book.

14. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Pamela, Thriller/Suspense

Along Came a Spider by James Patterson, 449 pages, read by Pamela, on 12/10/2013

spiderA missing little girl named Maggie Rose . . . a family of three brutally murdered in the projects of Washington, D.C. . . . the thrill-killing of a beautiful elementary school teacher . . . a psychopathic serial kidnapper/murderer who is so terrifying that the FBI, the Secret Service, and the police cannot outsmart him – even after he’s been captured.

Gary Soneji wants to commit the crime of the century. Alex Cross is the brilliant homicide detective pitted against him. Jezzie Flanagan is the first female supervisor of the Secret Service who completes one of the most unusual suspense triangles in any thriller you have ever read.

Alex Cross and Jezzie Flanagan are about to have a forbidden love affair–at the worst possible time for both of them. Because Gary Soneji is playing at the top of his game. The latest of the unspeakable crimes happens in Alex Cross’s precinct. It happens under the noses of Jezzie Flanagan’s men. Now Alex Cross must face the ultimate test: How do you outmaneuver a brilliant psychopath?

14. December 2013 · 1 comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Judy, Thriller/Suspense

The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly, 538 pages, read by Judy, on 12/08/2013

Book CoverOnce a hotshot in the newsroom, crime reporter Jack McEvoy is now about to be laid off at the Lost Angeles Times.    Deciding to use his final work days to write the definitive murder story of his career, he focuses on Alonzo Winslow, an imprisoned sixteen-year-old drug dealer who confessed to the murder of a young woman found strangled in the truck of her car.  But as Jack delves into the story, he realizes that Winslow’s so-called confession is bogus.   The kid might actually be innocent.  When Jack connects the L.A. truck killing to an earlier murder in Las Vegas, he is on the biggest story he’s had since the Poet crossed his path years before.    But Jack doesn’t know hat his investigation has set off a digital trip wire.  The killer knows Jack is coming and he is ready.

14. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Judy, Thriller/Suspense

The Black Ice by Michael Connelly, 428 pages, read by Judy, on 12/04/2013

Book CoverNarcotics officer Cal Moore’s orders were to look into the city’s latest drug killing.  Instead, he ends up in a motel room with a fatal bullet wound to the head and a suicide note stuffed in his back pocket.   Working the case, L.A.P.D. detective Harry Bosch is reminded of the primal police rule he learned long ago:  Don’t look for the facts, but the glue that holds them together.    Soon Harry’s making some very dangerous connections, starting with a dead cop and leading to a bloody string of murders that wind from Hollywood Boulevard to the back alleys south of the border.  Now this battle-scarred veteran will find himself in the center of a complex and deadly game-one in which he may be the next and likeliest victim.

A terrific story plot and keeps the reader in suspense all the way through.   A book you cannot put down.