30. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Paranormal, Tammy

Ghoul Goblin by Jim Butcher, 152 pages, read by Tammy, on 01/05/2014

ghoul goblin   The first graphic novel in the Dresden Files series that is not based on one of the original novels. Harry Dresden, a Chicago private investigator and wizard is contacted by a small-town police deputy from an isolated town in Missouri. A local family has suffered for generations from a curse with family members dying in strange unfortunate accidents. The deputy wants to protect the remaining family members including two children but the sheriff is convinced it’s all coincidence so he turns to Harry for help. Can Harry save them? Is it just the family curse or are other supernatural creatures at work in this small town? Can Dresden cleanse the Talbot bloodline of its curse without a blood sacrifice of his own?

30. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Pamela

Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani, 332 pages, read by Pamela, on 01/26/2014

bravaThis is the second book in the Valentine trilogy.  Be sure to read Very Valentine first – lots of back story that’s necessary to make this book more enjoyable.  Valentine Roncalli is nearly on her own now that her grandmother has married and moved to Italy.  Her grandmother has teamed Valentine with her only brother, Alfred, in the family shoe business, Angelini Shoes.  The dynamics of this Italian family are hilarious and probably a lot like many families in America.  A family secret leads Valentine to Buenos Aires, where she meets a long lost cousin, who, not surprisingly, is a shoemaker, too.  There’s a love story woven throughout the pages of this novel as well as lots of family drama.  Very enjoyable.

29. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Pamela, Romance · Tags:

White Christmas by Diana Palmer, 365 pages, read by Pamela, on 01/28/2014

white christmasTwo romantic little Christmas stories to warm your heart – even after the holidays.

29. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense

Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner, 416 pages, read by Jane, on 01/28/2014

My name is Dr. Adeline Glen. Due to a genetic condition, I can’t feel pain. I never have. I never will.

The last thing Boston Detective D.D. Warren remembers is walking the crime scene after dark. Then, a creaking floorboard, a low voice crooning in her ear… She is later told she managed to discharge her weapon three times. All she knows is that she is seriously injured, unable to move her left arm, unable to return to work.

My sister is Shana Day, a notorious murderer who first killed at fourteen. Incarcerated for thirty years, she has now murdered more people while in prison than she did as a free woman.

Six weeks later, a second woman is discovered murdered in her own bed, her room containing the same calling cards from the first: a bottle of champagne and a single red rose. The only person who may have seen the killer: Detective D.D. Warren, who still can’t lift her child, load her gun, or recall a single detail from the night that may have cost her everything.

Our father was Harry Day, an infamous serial killer who buried young women beneath the floor of our home. He has been dead for forty years. Except the Rose Killer knows things about my father he shouldn’t. My sister claims she can help catch him. I think just because I can’t feel pain, doesn’t mean my family can’t hurt me.

D.D. may not be back on the job, but she is back on the hunt. Because the Rose Killer isn’t just targeting lone women; he is targeting D.D. And D.D. knows there is only one way to take him down:

Fear nothing.

29. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Sleepwalker by Karen Robards, 384 pages, read by Jane, on 01/16/2014

It’s not that Micayla Lange is afraid of the clinking she hears coming from the first floor of the empty McMansion she’s housesitting for her uncle Nicco. She’s a cop, after all. It’s just that finding out her boyfriend was cheating on her was enough drama for one night. Now she’s alone on New Year’s Eve, wearing flannel pajamas and wielding a Glock 22 as she zeroes in on the unmistakable source of the sound: Uncle Nicco’s private office.

Jason Davis steals things for a living, so unexpected developments are a natural part of the job. Getting caught red-handed by a hot, pigtail-sporting police officer in what is supposed to be a gangster’s deserted house is just one more twist in the game. Kind of like finding incriminating photos in Nicco Marino’s safe, only to discover the cop—and the security cameras—have gotten a real good look at his face.

Unfortunately for Mick, she also got a good look at the damned pictures. Her “uncle” might love her like family, but if he knows she’s seen evidence that implicates him in the murder of a city councilman, she doesn’t like her chances. Which is why she’s having a hard time reconciling her professional instincts with what she is rapidly concluding is an inescapable fact: She’s about to help a criminal get away with a suitcase full of stolen money. And she’s going with him.

Mick and Jason’s race for their lives hurtles them through the dangerous Michigan wilderness on speedboat and snowmobile. As their adventure heats up and their enemies close in, Mick is torn between her duty to the force and the combustible passion engulfing her and her unlikely partner in crime. She’ll have to turn Jason in sooner or later…if they survive. But will they ever get a second chance at love?

29. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Deadline by Sandra Brown, 410 pages, read by Jane, on 01/09/2014

Dawson Scott is a well-respected journalist recently returned from Afghanistan. Haunted by everything he experienced, he’s privately suffering from battle fatigue which is a threat to every aspect of his life. But then he gets a call from a source within the FBI. A new development has come to light in a story that began 40 years ago. It could be the BIG story of Dawson’s career–one in which he has a vested interest.

Soon, Dawson is covering the disappearance and presumed murder of former Marine Jeremy Wesson, the biological son of the pair of terrorists who remain on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. As Dawson delves into the story, he finds himself developing feelings for Wesson’s ex-wife, Amelia, and her two young sons. But when Amelia’s nanny turns up dead, the case takes a stunning new turn, with Dawson himself becoming a suspect. Haunted by his own demons, Dawson takes up the chase for the notorious outlaws. . .and the secret, startling truth about himself.

29. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Literary Fiction, Teen Books

A Wounded Name by Dot Hutchison, 320 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/28/2014

I believe this is officially the 4th or 5th Hamlet retelling I’ve read and it’s one of the better ones. Summarizing the plot here is kind of pointless, because it’s Hamlet told from Ophelia’s point of view. What might be more helpful is to highlight some of the choices made in this adaptation. First off: the setting. Elsinore has gone from castle to elite boarding school with Hamlet Sr. as the headmaster. Overall, it works. It’s insular enough to evoke the same claustrophobic feel of Elsinore castle. Then there are the characters: Ophelia, everyone’s favorite girl-gone-crazy, evidently nearly drowned as a child and has since been seeing ghosts, bean sidhe and the morgens (of which her late mother is one). It does add another dimension to poor Ophelia, but ultimately doesn’t do her any favors. The timing of the plotline is more or less the same, though this one starts a bit earlier – right after the death of Hamlet Sr.
The narrative is very stylized and tends to incorporate actual phrasing from the original text where it fits. Overall, it works pretty well. The pace is rather slow, so patience will be required on the reader’s behalf. The writing is lyrical, though occasionally repetitive, which might turn some readers off. I personally was on the fence with this one. At times, I really loved it and then at others, I found myself getting sick of the whole thing. No real surprises here, but still an interesting take on a classic.

29. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books

Lily and Taylor by Elise Moser, 224 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/24/2014

In spite of the cute cover, this is not a book for the faint-of-heart. It opens on Taylor acting as a witness to her sister’s autopsy after her sister dies in a horrible domestic abuse accident. Since Taylor and her nephew had been living with her sister, they must now move to their grandmother’s house and attempt to move on with their lives. Taylor leaves behind an abusive boyfriend and finds that life is actually bearable when she doesn’t have to fear the safety of her nephew or herself. She meets Lily, another “girl with Baggage”. Lily lives with her mother, who was brain-damaged in an accident years ago. It’s left Lily’s mother jobless and largely dependent on Lily for the day-to-day running of the house. The first time Taylor invites Lily over to her grandparent’s house for dinner, her abusive boyfriend Devon turns up and demands that Taylor come with him. Lily, recognizing that something is off, hops into the car with them. Devon has brought a driver, a guy named Conor, who clearly owes Devon a favor. The foursome drive off to a cabin deep in the woods, far out of cellphone range and even farther from civilization. Things go from bad to worse as the girls wait to see if they’ll survive this unexpected trip.
Domestic abuse is not exactly uncommon in YA lit, but rarely is it presented in such a frank way. It’s clear that Taylor has been around abuse her entire life and sees submission as a survival mechanism. She rarely, if ever, thinks about herself. She has devoted her life to others, whether they treat her well or not. She also sees in herself the potential for the same type of anger and violence, which disturbs her. Lily is less prone to letting a guy call the shots for her; she’s been witness to her mother’s failed relationships and recognizes the signs of a person about to become violent. She still has trouble speaking up for herself, however.
This is a heart-breaking little book. It took me days to read it simply because it was hard to face the circumstances of the young women in the book. Still, Lily and Taylor are women of potential. The reader can sense that there’s more to them than the abuse and neglect they’ve endured. The reader will cheer these girls on as much as they’ll want to shake them for not fighting back. There are no easy answers in situations like these and this book does not pretend to have answers. Strings are left untied at the end, but there’s a note of hope that this fragile friendship may bloom into salvation for both young women.

29. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, True Crime

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker, 399 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/21/2014

The last anyone saw of Shannon was as she ran panicking from house to house in a small suburban neighborhood near New York. The police were called, but the girl was gone. So was the SUV seen in the neighborhood. As it turned out, Shannon was an escort and the SUV was her driver. She had placed an ad on Craigslist and met up with a resident of the neighborhood. At some point in the night, she freaked out and called the police (something escorts don’t do very often). She ran from the house she had been working at and ran from her driver. She knocked on door after door, hoping to be let in and helped. The last anyone saw of her was her slight form darting off into the shadows.
Shannon’s family pushed for the investigation, in spite of the police’s clear reluctance due to her profession. The search turned up a body, but it wasn’t Shannons. More searching revealed four complete skeletons, all wrapped in burlap, as well as a number of body parts and unidentified remains. Still no Shannon. Police soon pieced together the identities of the burlap-wrapped girls. Each of them was an escort, just like Shannon. They could only conclude that this was indeed the work of a serial killer.
Lost Girls is, as the title implies, the story of an unsolved serial murder case. Kolker begins by letting the reader get to know the victims. Each of their stories are told in detail and without judgement. Each woman’s life is different. The one thing they all have in common is that they all found their way to the Craigslist escort game. From the girls to the circumstances of their last known whereabouts to the family, community and press response, Lost Girls tells a heartbreaking story of a broken society. To blame the women for their circumstances would be only addressing a miniscule part of the equation. Lost Girls is exceedingly well-researched and humane. The lack of resolution will frustrate, but it may also serve as a catalyst for change in how crimes like this are handled.

29. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Science Fiction, Teen Books

A Stranger Thing (Ever-Expanding Universe #2) by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal, 288 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/17/2014

When we last saw Elvie, she was just giving birth to a baby girl. An Almiri baby girl. Because being a teen mother isn’t hard enough without your baby turning out to be an alien race. Turns out that that the alien-baby business is far less of a concern than the fact that the baby is a girl. The whole thing about the Almiri race is that they’re all male and incapable of reproducing on their own. So they go to other words and secretly impregnate their females, who, in turn, give birth to little baby Almiri boys. Except in Elvie’s case. The Almiri panic and send Elvie, her father, her bestie Ducky and her baby-daddy, Cole off to the secure facility they keep as a sort of prison for Almiri who broken the strict reproduction codes. Elvie isn’t thrilled that she’s going to essentially be a prisoner at the hands of the Almiri. She’s even less thrilled that the facility they’re being sent to is in Antarctica. Elvie and co. don’t really have a choice though, so off to Antarctica they go. Things are tense, but palatable until some unexpected visitors show up and let Elvie in on the real reason the Almiri are so upset about a baby girl.
This book is essentially the polar opposite of the first book (see what I did there?). All the action takes place on ice, but Elvie maintains her characteristic snark to keep things light. There’s something quite entertaining about the idea of a teen attempting motherhood while surrounded by alien men (and a few human men) in the subarctic conditions. I mean, sure, it’s all a little preposterous, but it’s a fun ride. Not quite as thought-provoking as the first installment, so there’s every chance that some of the themes that made the first book so clever will be further explored later on.

29. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Paranormal, Teen Books

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, 416 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/14/2014

Blue comes from a long line of women with psychic abilities. Unfortunately for Blue, the only ability that seemed to manifest for her is the ability to amplify the abilities of others. For this reason, her mother takes her to the church road on St. Mark’s eve so that her mother can speak to the soon-to-be-dead. They do it every year, but this is the first year where Blue actually sees one of the ghosts. It’s a boy around her age and the only thing she can find out about his is that his name is “Gansey”. Her mother and some of the other women in their house of psychics tell her it must be because she is going to fall in love with him, which is a problem since there’s been a prophecy going around that if Blue kisses her true love, he’ll die.
Meanwhile, at Aglionby Academy, Richard Gansey and his friends have devoted their time to finding the grave of a lost Welsh king. According to Gansey’s research, there’s ample evidence that this king would be buried along ley lines, lines of energy and power. Gansey is positive that that he’s close to his goal, which, if found, will grant them a favor of epic proportions. As it turns out, however, Gansey is not the first to search here and the other person searching doesn’t have intentions nearly as kind as Gansey and his pals.
In an effort to find out what the local psychics know about ley lines and sources, Gansey pays a visit to Blue’s mother. Once these two paths cross, things start to get really interesting.
I wasn’t very excited going into this one as I was not a fan of the Mercy Falls series. I had heard enough good things about this series that I decided to assign it to one of my bookgroups so that I’d have to give it a try. Fortunately, I found it to be a pleasant surprise. The premise is fascinating and very unexpected. I found some of the trajectory to be a bit predictable, but still found some surprises along the way. I did have some issues with Blue only being able to act as a tool for others. I wanted her to have more power on her own. The amplification thing starts to make Blue seem like a passive character, when I believe that she’s got more going for her. I’m still a little sketchy on some of the smaller details and I felt like it took way too long for our protagonists to meet, but this may all be rectified with further installments in the “cycle”. Overall, a nice, fresh take on the paranormal genre.

29. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books · Tags: ,

Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark, 448 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/10/2014

This novel-in-verse rotates through three different perspectives. First, there are the high school kids, Brendan and Vanessa. Brendan and Vanessa have been a couple for a long time. They’re both fairly popular and are athletes. Vanessa is a fairly normal girl, with the exception being that her sport of choice is wrestling. Brendan is the star of the wrestling team, so the two spend a lot of time together. On the surface, their relationship is perfect, but under the surface, they’ve got some serious issues that neither one wants to talk about. Vanessa has thrown everything she is into this relationship, to the point where she is in danger of losing the few female friends she has left. Brendan is secretly questioning his gender identity. He can’t understand why he sometimes feels as though he would rather be his girlfriend than be with her. When he learns the word “transgender”, it sends shock-waves through the core of his being. Deep down, he realizes this is a word that might apply to him. In a fit of confused angst, he throws a rock through the window of a local GLBTQ teen center where our third narrator, Angel, works. Angel is a male-to-female transgendered person who has seen some incredibly difficult times. As a result, Angel has found a calling in helping young people come to terms with their sexual orientation and identities. Can Angel help Brendan, even if Brendan isn’t really sure who he is?
Freakboy takes on a whole host of issues, though the transgender one obviously takes front and center. Brendan and Vanessa’s relationship issues are painfully realistic. Vanessa has clear self-esteem issues and frequently misinterprets Brendan’s actions. She defines herself through having a boyfriend and, while she’s obsessed with her relationship, she remains surprisingly self-absorbed. Brendan is by far the most well-developed character in the book; he’s not the type of person who definitively knew his identity from a young age and he doesn’t always hate being a boy. Angel, on the other hand, seems like she’s there to provide the reader with a more traditional transformation story or to show how an adult might handle being trans rather than contributing to the overall plot. Angel is a great character, but her integration into the narrative feels rough and somewhat forced.
Overall, a decent, if heavy-handed, tale of teenagers dealing with a tough and under-addressed issue.

29. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Informational Book

The Black Belt Librarian by Warren Graham, 104 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/08/2014

Black Belt Librarian is a practical guide to making sure your library is a safe space, both for you and your patrons. Written not by a librarian, but by a security professional, this slender book is filled with tough questions and great advice. This should probably be required reading for anyone in a supervisory or managerial role and highly recommended reading for front-line staff. I, for one, am really glad I read it and am currently encouraging all of my colleagues to do the same.

29. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books

This is How I Find Her by Sara Polsky, 272 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/07/2014

All of Sophie’s life has been about her mother. As long as she can remember, she’s been taking care of her mother through all of the ups and downs that a bi-polar disorder can bring. Until one day, when Sophie gets home from school to find the house much quieter than usual. She finds her mother barely alive on the bed with a nearly-empty bottle of pills nearby. After 911 has been called and the house cleaned up, Sophie packs her things and heads to her aunt’s house. She hasn’t seen her aunt’s family in years, but was always told that she could call them if she really needed to. This time, Sophie had no choice. As her mother slowly recovers, Sophie reflects back on the life they’ve been living together (and why her aunt’s family has been kept at a distance) as well as what it means for their futures. For the first time in her life, Sophie is not the one who has to take care of everything and she’s not sure how to feel about it.
This is more or less a traditional “problem novel” where a main character has an issue that they have to deal with by the time the book is over. In this case, it is the mentally-ill parent and the teenaged daughter who does more of the actual parenting. Sophie’s love for her mother is obvious and palpable, but later revelations about her mother’s behavior make one wonder why no one stepped in earlier. The reader will feel empathy for Sophie, but she’s not a particularly nuanced character.

29. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, 374 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/06/2014

In the not-too-distant future, things are looking pretty grim. Poverty is at an all-time high and the earth’s resources are nearly gone. The only good thing going, as far as most folks are concerned, is the OASIS, an immersive web application that has become synonymous with the internet. It’s how everyone interacts in the future, from going to classes to hanging out on elaborately themed planets. The OASIS is the brainchild of one James Halliday, an eccentric with a 1980’s obsession. When Halliday dies, his avatar informs the world that he has hidden an easter egg somewhere in the OASIS. To find it, one must first uncover three keys and find/pass through their respective gates. It’s the contest of a lifetime; history in the making. Then five years ago by with no one even having a clue as to the whereabouts of the first key.
All across the world, egg hunters (or “gunters” for short) dedicate their entire lives to finding the egg. A multi-national corporation has hired scores of the best hackers money can buy for their “oology” division. Exhaustive research about ’80’s pop culture is undertaken by anyone who has even thought about looking for the egg. Wade Watts is just an average guy living in a stack of trailers like so many other poor folks. He’s too poor to even buy credits to search “off-world”; all he can do is practice old video games, watch John Hughes movies and brainstorm the solitary clue Halliday gave the world. He doesn’t really think he has a chance, but, like the rest of the world, he feels he owes it to himself to give it a shot. Imagine his surprise and excitement when becomes the first person to find the first key. Suddenly, Wade’s avatar becomes the most famous name in the OASIS, which is both really cool and really dangerous. And the egg hunt? Oh, it’s on.
Ready Player One is a blast to read. It’s the ultimate geeky read with references to all sorts of retro pop culture liberally used throughout. It’s also both funny and action-packed. Readers will have just as much fun cheering Wade on throughout his quest as they will nodding knowingly at all the song/movie/game/tv references. I was slightly worried that younger audiences might not get everything in the book, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the readers in my high school book group got most, if not all of the references and loved the book all that much harder for them. Thus, Ready Player One is a book I will readily recommend to geeks of all ages. Because they will love it. And so will you. So go read it already

29. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books · Tags:

Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian, 304 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/03/2014

Evan has been moving around his entire life. Thus, he has perfected the art of being the New Guy. As the New Guy, Evan focuses entirely on meeting girls. He has no male friends to speak of and goes from girl to girl. He’s always had good luck with girls and views them as little more than conquests. Friendship with girls who won’t sleep with him aren’t really worth his time. Then Evan sleeps with the wrong girl. She’s a girl with a violent ex-boyfriend (who is unfortunately friends with Evan’s roommate). Evan gets beaten up so badly that he’s pulled out of school by his father and taken to live in the small rural community in Minnesota that his father grew up in. There, everyone knows everyone else. Evan quickly discovers that he cannot simply spend the summer hiding from everyone and everything. Slowly, bit by bit, Evan begins to make actual friends, both male and female. Still, Evan is haunted by the repercussions of his beating and has trouble even thinking about going back to his old way of living.
Evan’s perspective is a unique one in YA lit. Evan isn’t really the most likeable of characters, but it doesn’t take the reader long to figure out that it’s not entirely Evan’s fault. Evan’s mother is long absent and his wealthy father is more comfortable with computers than people. As Evan begins to open up to his new friends, he begins to reassess the way he thinks about both women and relationships.
The ending is little on the tidy side and the final chapters portraying Evan at the public school feel like they’re rushed and possibly unnecessary. Otherwise, it’s compelling read about issues rarely addressed from the male perspective. This would likely make a very interesting book for discussion groups.

29. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake, 272 pages, read by Angie, on 01/28/2014

It is 1871 and the year the pigeons came to town. They descend on Placid and nest nearby. It is also the year that Georgie’s sister Agatha disappears. The sheriff brings back a body wearing Agatha’s dress, but Georgie is positive it isn’t Agatha. She sets off on a quest to learn the truth. Billy, Agatha’s beau, goes with her. Together they travel the same path as Agatha and try to discover what happened to her. There are cougars and counterfeiters and kidnappers along the way, but they do eventually learn some if not all of Agatha’s story before they return to Placid.

Georgie is an outstanding narrator. She is sure of herself and her abilities even though she is just a little girl. I like the fact that she ends up saving the day and Billy and solving most of the mystery. I am not sure how much appeal this will have to kids as it did get a little bogged down. The kids reading this might appreciate the ending and how everything was neatly tied up, but I thought it was a little too neat. Everything gets explained and Agatha’s story is brought to light, but I think it would have been better to leave a bit of mystery. I didn’t buy that Georgie would never shoot a gun again even though she is a sharpshooter. I thought that was out of character and didn’t make a lot of since. I got a little bored with all the information on the pigeons, but it is a fascinating part of our history so I appreciated the information.

2014 Newbery Honor Book.

29. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction

The Adventures of a South Pole Pig: A novel of snow and courage by Chris Kurtz, 288 pages, read by Angie, on 01/28/2014

Flora is a pig ready for adventure. As a little piglet in her pen she was always looking outside and trying new things. More than anything she wants to pull a sled. She idolizes the sled dogs she sees training on the farm. One day she sees her chance and gets taken to a ship. She thinks her time is now; she will finally get to have the adventure she has always wanted. Unfortunately, she soon finds out she is on the ship for a completely different reason. Then the ship hits an iceberg and sinks and now Flora, the captain and crew, the surviving sled dogs and one adventurous cat are stranded in the Arctic. Flora has to prove she is more than food if they are all going to survive.

This book reminded me a little bit of Charlotte’s Web. It is a fun adventure story with a pig lead. I like the fact that Flora has to prove her worth, but she is always confident in herself and her abilities. There are some good messages in here about being yourself and living up to your potential and doing things even when others say you can’t.

28. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Multicultural Fiction, Noelle · Tags:

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, 336 pages, read by Noelle, on 01/23/2014

One of fiction’s most audaciously original talents, Neil Gaiman now gives us a mythology for a modern age — complete with dark prophecy, family dysfunction, mystical deceptions, and killer birds. Not to mention a lime.

Anansi Boys
God is dead. Meet the kids.

When Fat Charlie’s dad named something, it stuck. Like calling Fat Charlie “Fat Charlie.” Even now, twenty years later, Charlie Nancy can’t shake that name, one of the many embarrassing “gifts” his father bestowed — before he dropped dead on a karaoke stage and ruined Fat Charlie’s life.

Mr. Nancy left Fat Charlie things. Things like the tall, good-looking stranger who appears on Charlie’s doorstep, who appears to be the brother he never knew. A brother as different from Charlie as night is from day, a brother who’s going to show Charlie how to lighten up and have a little fun … just like Dear Old Dad. And all of a sudden, life starts getting very interesting for Fat Charlie.

Because, you see, Charlie’s dad wasn’t just any dad. He was Anansi, a trickster god, the spider-god. Anansi is the spirit of rebellion, able to overturn the social order, create wealth out of thin air, and baffle the devil. Some said he could cheat even Death himself.

Returning to the territory he so brilliantly explored in his masterful New York Times bestseller, American Gods, the incomparable Neil Gaiman offers up a work of dazzling ingenuity, a kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth that is at once startling, terrifying, exhilarating, and fiercely funny — a true wonder of a novel that confirms Stephen King’s glowing assessment of the author as “a treasure-house of story, and we are lucky to have him.”

28. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Cookbooks, Fiction, How To's, Humor, Informational Book, Noelle, NonFiction

I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris, 303 pages, read by Noelle, on 01/08/2014

Cute. Quirky. Weird. Adorable.  INAPPROPRIATE!  Charming. Hilarious. Delicious.  Those are just a few words that come to mind when reading this book, which was a great deal of fun.  If you’re familiar with Amy Sedaris, then you’d expect nothing less.

Are you lacking direction in how to whip up a swanky soiree for lumberjacks?  A dinner party for white-collar workers?  A festive gathering for the grieving? Don’t despair. Take a cue from entertaining expert Amy Sedaris and host an unforgettable fete that will have your guests raving.  No matter the style or size of the gathering-from the straightforward to the bizarre-I LIKE YOU provides jackpot recipes and solid advice laced with Amy’s blisteringly funny take on entertaining, plus four-color photos and enlightening sidebars on everything it takes to pull off a party with extraordinary flair.  You don’t even need to be a host or hostess to benefit-Amy offers tips for guests, too!  (Number one: don’t be fifteen minutes early.)  Readers will discover unique dishes to serve alcoholics (Broiled Frozen Chicken Wings with Applesauce), the secret to a successful children’s party (a half-hour time limit, games included), plus a whole appendix chock-full of arts and crafts ideas (from a mini-pantyhose plant-hanger to a do-it-yourself calf stretcher), and much, much more!