28. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Eric, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Short Stories · Tags:

M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman, 260 pages, read by Eric, on 01/25/2014

“M is for magic. All the letters are, if you put them together properly.” This tasty tidbit is from Neil Gaiman’s introduction to the book, and wonderfully sums up my view of most of his writing. He has a way of stringing letters together which makes the mundane magical, or at the least, a bit odd. I like a bit odd, and so enjoyed this collection of short stories. It also was interesting to compare stories written earlier in his career to more recent ones, both of which are in this collection. I had read a couple of these tales before, and one in particular (The Witch’s Headstone) became a chapter in Gaiman’s 2009 Newbery winner, The Graveyard Book. Short stories are a great introduction to an author, and so if you are one of the five people not familiar with Neil Gaiman, this collection is a decent place to start. Although it is a collection intended for younger readers, the content is pretty mature, including older cultural references I doubt young readers will understand.

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

The Sasquatch Escape by Suzanne Selfors, 224 pages, read by Angie, on 01/27/2014

Ben is being forced to spend the summer with his grandpa in Buttonville. Buttonville is a dying town since the button factory closed. Ben is positive this is going to be a horrible summer spent with his grandpa at the senior center then he sees a giant bird, as big as a helicopter, flying over the town. Pearl Petal, known troublemaker, saw it too and is convinced it landed at the old button factory. Ben isn’t so sure about Pearl’s ideas until his grandpa’s cat deposits a bat on his bed. Turns out it isn’t a bat but a baby dragon. They head off to the button factory to discover what is going on in Dr. Woo’s Worm Hospital. Then the sasquatch escapes and Pearl and Ben are tasked with capturing it and returning it to the Imaginary Lands. Chaos ensues.

I really enjoy fantasy that takes place in the normal world. You don’t have to build a whole new world you just use ours and tack on an Imaginary Land where things like dragons and sasquatch and fairies live and occasionally visit our world. This book is a fun adventure that I am sure kids will enjoy. I loved the humor and the illustrations. And of course there is pudding…who can resist pudding?

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

Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody, 272 pages, read by Angie, on 01/27/2014

This is the story of William Shackley, son of Rodric who is off on crusade with King Richard. Geoff Shackley is regent for his nephew Will. Will is a boy on the cusp of manhood who is not really sure how to make the leap. Circumstance force him to grow up however when Sir Guy of Gisborne comes to the castle and forces a fight that leads to Geoff’s death. Will and his mother escape but become separated. Will finds himself a hostage of the Merry Men led by Gilbert. Of course there are other Merry Men: Rob the drunk with a secret in his past, John Little the bear of a man who is also a good friend, Much the Miller’s son who is actually Much the Miller’s daughter, treacherous Stout and others. Will convinces the group to raid Shackley Castle for its treasure which sets off events beyond their control.

Matthew Cody explains in the author’s note that there are many variations on the legend of Robin Hood. Sure he took some liberties with the story but the basics are here and they work. I really enjoyed the fact that the story was told from Will Scarlet’s point of view instead of Rob’s. This is really Will’s story and the group becoming the Merry Men of legend is just part of that story. Will has to grow up and realize his past life is in the past; there is no way to get back what he has lost. He has to move on and create a new life. A life with Rob and the Merry Men in Sherwood Forest, robbing the rich to help the poor.

28. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Pamela · Tags:

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg, 229 pages, read by Pamela, on 01/20/2014

redbird christmasOswald Campbell has been given less than a year to live.  He moves from Chicago, Illinois to Lost River, Alabama hoping the warmer weather will ease his passing. Lost River is a quaint little town, full of all sorts of characters.  A little girl with a crippled leg and a lame little redbird bring all the town’s residents together to usher in a Christmas miracle.  The characters are endearing; the town happenings are charming.  This is a book about hope and friendship.

27. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, History, NonFiction

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel, 473 pages, read by Angie, on 01/26/2014

This book has been on my “to read” list for a while, but with the movie coming out I thought I had better move it to the top of the list. It was definitely worth the read. While this is a work of nonfiction it reads like a mystery. Robert Edsel makes sure the reader connects with the men and women who were part of the Monuments Men during WWII. You get to know them and their families and their motivations.

I find it fascinating that not only did Hitler want to conquer Europe he also wanted to conquer its culture and artifacts. Hitler believed himself to be a connoisseur of art and set about acquiring as much as possible to build his collection and the collections of the museums he wanted to create. This meant the pillaging of Jewish art collections and the pillaging of museums in conquered lands. No one really knew the extent of his acquisitions and the acquisitions of his men until near the end of the war.

While the creation of the Monuments Men came from the top of the military brass, it was never fully staffed or given the materials needed to do the job properly. However, with little to help them out the Monuments Men were able to find and restore thousands of pieces of stolen art. I really enjoyed reading about how little conversations or bits of information would lead them to more bits which would lead them to a cache of stolen treasure. The Monuments Men were detectives on the trail of the biggest art heist in history. The fact that all of the stolen materials were found doesn’t not in any way diminish their acts of heroism and determination. These men and women were and went on to be some of the pillars of the museum and art world and I am glad they are finally getting the recognition they so richly deserve.

27. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Informational Book, NonFiction

Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health by Gene Stone, T. Colin Campbell, Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., 213 pages, read by Angie, on 01/26/2014

I recently watched the documentary Forks over Knives and decided to see what else the book had to offer. It is basically a narrative of the movie, but it still has some really good information on why you should change the way you eat. Forks Over Knives promotes a plant-based whole foods (vegan) diet. Doctors Campbell and Esselstyn have been researching the connections between nutrition and health for decades and their research has led them to this diet. Removing animal products and processed foods from the diet has been shown to greatly reduce the risks of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other health issues according to their studies. The book highlights why the diet is better for you, the environment and animals. It also provides a lot of recipes to get you started. I’m not sure if I could ever go completely vegan, but it does make me think about what I eat and how I eat.

27. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody K, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Killing Game by Toni Anderson, 366 pages, read by Melody, on 01/26/2014

Wildlife biologist Axelle Dehn isn’t about to let anyone harm her endangered snow leopards—not the poacher intent on killing them, nor the soldier who wants to use them as bait. But Axelle is unknowingly entangled in a conflict that stretches back three decades, a conflict that could spark a war between two of the world’s great nations.

​British SAS soldier, Ty Dempsey, is on a mission to hunt down an infamous Russian terrorist in a remote region of Afghanistan. Dempsey hasn’t failed a mission yet, but when Axelle is kidnapped by the Russian, he is forced to choose between duty and his heart. He risks everything to save the determined, prickly woman he’s fallen for, but in doing so sparks a deadly series of events that threaten to expose the most successful spy in history. A spy who will destroy anyone who gets in his way.

27. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody K, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Storm Warning by Toni Anderson, 266 pages, read by Melody, on 01/25/2014

Sorcha Logan is looking for peace.

Recently returned to her hometown on Scotland’s craggy coast, Sorcha wants to tame the spirits that made her flee. When she finds a corpse in the surf, however, she can’t suppress the memory of discovering her father’s body. Nor can she suppress the ghosts that haunt her-or the town’s conviction that she’s dangerous, and a witch.

Ben Foley is looking for a killer.

An American DEA agent, Ben is in town to investigate the suspicious death of his partner. He’s sure that Sorcha knows more than she’s letting on-but the more time he spends with the sexy suspect, the less he can fight their illicit attraction. And the less certain he is she’s involved with a drug cartel.

But can Ben protect Sorcha from being set up? Or worse-killed?

27. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody K, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Edge of Survival by Toni Anderson, 272 pages, read by Melody, on 01/24/2014

Dr. Cameran Young knew her assignment wouldn’t be easy. As lead biologist on the Environment Impact Assessment team, her findings would determine the future of a large mining project in the northern Canadian bush. She expected rough conditions and hostile miners—but she didn’t expect to find a dead body her first day on the job.

Former SAS Sergeant Daniel Fox forged a career as a helicopter pilot, working as far from the rest of the human race as possible. The thrill of flying makes his civilian life bearable, and he lives by his mantra: don’t get involved. But when he’s charged with transporting the biologist to her research vessel, he can’t help but get involved in the murder investigation—and with Cameran, who awakens emotions he’s desperate to suppress.

In the harsh and rugged wilderness, Daniel and Cameran must battle their intense and growing attraction while keeping ahead of a killer who will stop at nothing to silence her…

24. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody K, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Sea of suspicion by Toni Anderson, 315 pages, read by Melody, on 01/24/2014

Marine biologist Susie Cooper traded her life in America for a dream job on the rugged Scottish coast

Now all she lacks is the right man to start a family with. After their first meeting, she knows sexy Detective Inspector Nick Archer isn’t what she’s looking for. He’s the type of guy whose idea of commitment is staying the whole night.

Nick has returned to St. Andrews for one reason only—to fulfill his vow to find his wife’s killer. Relentless in his twelve-year quest for justice, he has no problem using Susie to get close to his primary suspect, her boss. But the passion between them smolders, and as it ignites, Nick finds himself torn between his past and his present—with Susie.

When one of her boss’s students is murdered, Nick’s investigation draws Susie into a web of madness and betrayal. They will have to learn to trust each other if they’re going to catch a killer…and come out of this alive.

24. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Lick by Kylie Scott, 286 pages, read by Jessica, on 01/23/2014

Waking up in Vegas was never meant to be like this.

Evelyn Thomas’s plans for celebrating her twenty-first birthday in Las Vegas were big. Huge. But she sure as hell never meant to wake up on the bathroom floor with a hangover to rival the black plague, a very attractive half-naked tattooed man, and a diamond on her finger large enough to scare King Kong. Now if she could just remember how it all happened.

One thing is for certain, being married to rock and roll’s favourite son is sure to be a wild ride.

24. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Fairest in all the Land by Bill Willingham, 160 pages, read by Brian, on 01/23/2014

fairestBill Willingham writes these wonderful novels based off fables and he puts his own twist to it which makes is so much fun. Willingham takes these characters who live in Fabletown and delves into their secret pasts which is mighty surprising and fascinating. 

23. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

My Summer of Pink & Green by Lisa Greenwald, 272 pages, read by Angie, on 01/22/2014

Lucy’s dream summer is not turning out the way she planned. Her sister Claudia is back from college, but instead of spending all summer sharing secrets by the pool Claudia is hanging out with her boyfriend Bean. Lucy’s best friend Sunny is wrapped up in her boyfriend Eric and the boy Lucy likes is giving her mixed signals. Lucy thought she would be helping turn the Pink and Green Spa into a reality, but feels pushed out by all the adults working on the project. To make things even worse she is stuck with Bevin, who is embarrassing and hangs around Lucy all the time. Can Lucy turn things around?

This is the sequel to My Life in Pink and Green and picks up shortly after the ending of that book. The spa is becoming a reality and Lucy is still trying to make things happen. She has a lot going on in this book and learns some lessons about herself and those around her. Lucy definitely grows up a bit in this book. I enjoyed the first book and I enjoyed this one as well. I think this is a good series for girls. The situations are all pretty realistic and there is also information about green initiatives.

22. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Children's Books, Classics, Fantasy, Fiction, Rachel, Teen Books, Teen Books

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, 189 pages, read by Rachel, on 01/21/2014

Four adventurous siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie—step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.

Journey into the land beyond the wardrobe! The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the second book in C. S. Lewis’s classic fantasy series, which has been captivating readers of all ages for over sixty years. This is a stand-alone novel, but if you would like journey back to Narnia, read The Horse and His Boy, the third book in The Chronicles of Narnia.

22. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction

The Tell-Tale Start (The Misadventures of Edgar & Allan Poe #1) by Gordon McAlpine, Sam Zuppardi (Illustrations), 179 pages, read by Angie, on 01/21/2014

Edgar and Allan Poe are identical twins. They are so identical that no one can tell them apart, not even Edgar and Allan. Same boy, different identity; same identity, different boy. Edgar Allan Poe was their great, great, great, great uncle and they share many of his interests. They love spooky tales of horror and are generally smarter than everyone else. Turns out their identicalness has made them a target of a mad scientist who wants to study them. They are lured to Kansas by Professor Marvel and must figure out what is going on before it is too late. They have a little help from their great, great uncle in the great beyond. Things don’t turn out quite how you expect.

This is a fun tale. I really liked the inclusion of Edgar Allan Poe and his attempts to help the twins. Edgar and Allan are genius and inventive, which makes for excellent storytelling. I think kids will enjoy the mystery and the humor.

22. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, 439 pages, read by Kira, on 01/19/2014

Wow!  I was so impressed with this 2nd book of the Raven Cycle trilogy.  Definitely, a book that stands on its own (well the background stoThedreamthievesbluery would be nice to have). tumblr_mswuqaIkXF1r181heo1_500135343_10202156284849292_698349595_oBlack Prince effigycabes water  Part of the credit goes to the awesome narrator of the Audiobook – Will Patton.  Patton manages unique and appropriate voices for each character.  The other part I really loved about this book, is the way it takes comaurora lynchmon narratives and breaks them, oh oh, the mother and aunties are letting the Hit Man into their house! danger danger, oh, but these women aren’t stupid, no they’re just braver and more clever than women usually get dreamthivscredit for.  This story focusesThe-Raven-Boys-IB2(pp_w573_h441) on Ronin and his abilties to dream objects and bring them back.  Also: Great Worldbuilding!

Pics include: Blue, the gang, Kavinsky’s car, Glendauer, Cabes Water, Aurora Lynchtumblr_mqgw0pp1ej1s2qitso1_500 tumblr_mdmygfZaTa1qmbg8bo1_500 and 2 collages.

22. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Classics, Fiction, Kira

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote, 80 pages, read by Kira, on 01/18/2014

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s seemed to be mostly a character sketch of Holly Golightly (Gloria Vanderbuilt is one of many supposed models for the character).   The narrator and Holly both live in a brownstone Manhattan apartment building.  Holly was a vivacious country girl, who has become a society girl, socializing with wealthy men, who give her expensive gifts and money.  The narrator seems to be a version of Truman Capote, observer and writer.

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21. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Trouble by Samantha Towle , 326 pages, read by Jessica, on 01/21/2014

Mia Monroe is running. Running from a person she doesn’t ever want to find her. Running from a past she doesn’t ever want anyone to know. Desperate to find a future, that yesterday, she could only dream of having.

Jordan Matthews likes easy. Easy women. Easy life.

Then he meets Mia.

She’s damaged, troubled and has more baggage than any person can carry. But the more Jordan gets to know Mia-for the first time in his life-he finds himself wanting to try hard for something … for someone … for her.

And then life isn’t so easy anymore.

Jordan is everything Mia shouldn’t want. A whole bunch of dirty hotness, tattooed, cocky bad boy, who made his money at poker tables and picked his women up in bars. Yet, Mia finds herself falling for him. Then the past Mia was running from, quickly starts to catch up with her. Because that’s the problem with running … you have to stop sometime.

And when you stop, you get caught.

21. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody K, Romance

Perfect Escape by Maddie James, 328 pages, read by Melody, on 01/20/2014

A changed identity. A secluded beach. A sniper. Megan Thomas is running for her life. From Chicago, from the mob, from her husband. She runs to the only place she feels safe-a secluded cottage on an east coast barrier island. Smyth Parker is running from life. From work, from society, from a jealous ex-wife-his only consolation the solitude of Newport Island. He doesn’t need to anyone to screw up that plan. And he sure as hell doesn’t need to complicate it with Megan Thomas. But when Megan fears she’s been found, she runs to the only safe place she knows, and straight into the arms of the one person who might be able to help, Smyth. Her escape might yet still be perfect. Or is it?

21. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody K, Mystery, Romance

Her last chance by Toni Anderson, 340 pages, read by Melody, on 01/19/2014

Eighteen years ago the Blade Hunter found his first victim on the streets of New York City.

As a child Josephine Maxwell was attacked and left for dead. She learned the hard way that life is a constant struggle for survival. She can’t waste time pining over a man she can’t have. Now the killer has returned, and the only person who can save her is the FBI agent she deceived and betrayed six months ago.

Now he’s back to finish the job.

Special Agent-in-Charge Marshall Hayes has made it his life’s work to fight on the side of law and order, even though it cost him the only woman he ever loved. The return of a serial killer gives him the excuse he needs to force his way back into her life. But in order to catch the killer and safeguard Josie’s life, he has to break all the rules and risk losing his heart again.