29. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Buried Beneath Us: Discovering the Ancient Cities of the Americas by Anthony Aveni, Katherine Roy, 96 pages, read by Angie, on 05/28/2014

This book takes a look at the cities of four American cultures: Cahokia, Inca, Aztec, and Maya. The author goes over what cities are, how they developed, what life was like and the religions of these cultures. I really wanted to like this book more than I did. The author gives us a lot of good information, but unfortunately the organization of the book makes it very difficult to distinguish when the city changes. I think it might have better served the reader to perhaps do a chapter on each culture and its cities instead of breaking the chapters up like they were. I also thought the illustrations were horrible. There are no actual pictures of the ruins of these cities or their artifacts instead all the illustrations are a horrible gray block type that is a bit too abstract for the audience to appreciate. This is a fascinating subject that wasn’t served well by this book.

29. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Cats, Fiction, Pamela · Tags:

The Cat Who Came in from the Cold by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, 128 pages, read by Pamela, on 05/28/2014

the-cat-who-came-in-from-the-coldCats are loners, and Billi is no exception. He wanders through the ancient Indian countryside among other animals, enjoying a sense of freedom. Holiday season approaches; the Monsoon, when the skies go dark and the rains come, has arrived. At a time when everyone is eager to be home with family and friends, Billi is alone… and lonely. Walking into a village, Billi gazes through windows and sees a cozy fire, a content dog, a happy family with children. Inspired, an untamed soul begins the transformative journey to a new life of warmth and togetherness. With his inimitable storytelling gifts and unparalleled ability to penetrate the feline psyche, Jeffrey Masson captures Billi’s aloofness, mischievousness, and ultimately his new perspective on the deep connection shared by humans and their feline friends.

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

False Impression by Jeffrey Archer, 375 pages, read by Pamela, on 05/16/2014

false imprWhy was an elegant lady brutally murdered the night before 9/11?   Why was a successful New York banker not surprised to receive a woman’s left ear in the morning mail?   Why did a top Manhattan lawyer work only for one client, but never charge a fee?   Why did a young woman with a bright career steal a priceless Van Gogh painting? Why was an Olympic gymnast paid a million dollars an assignment when she didn’t have a bank account?   Why was an honors graduate working as a temporary secretary after inheriting a fortune?   Why was an English Countess ready to kill the banker, the lawyer and the gymnast even if it meant spending the rest of her life in jail?   Why was a Japanese steel magnate happy to hand over $50,000,000 to a woman he had only met once?    Why was a senior FBI agent trying to work out the connection between these eight apparently innocent individuals?   All these questions are answered in Jeffrey Archer’s latest novel, False Impression, but not before a breathtaking journey of twists and turns that will take readers from New York to London to Bucharest and on to Tokyo, and finally a sleepy English village, where the mystery of Van Gogh’s last painting will finally be resolved.   And only then will readers discover that Van Gogh’s Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear has a secret of its own that acts as the final twist in this unforgettable yarn.

28. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Paranormal, Teen Books

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake, 333 pages, read by Angie, on 05/28/2014

The old gods are dying. Hermes is wasting away, Athena has feathers growing inside her, and Demeter has become the floor of the desert. Athena and Hermes are on a quest to find out why they are dying. Demeter tells them to find Cassandra to help them. Cassandra is not an old one, she is a reincarnated prophetess living the life of a teenage girl with no idea who she once was. She is happy predicting sporting events and coin toss. She is happy with her boyfriend Aiden, her best friend Andi and her brother Harry. Her world is turned upside down when she starts having visions of gods dying or being attacked. She has no idea what is going on. Athena and Hermes track Cassandra through the witches of Circe (where they find Odysseus). Along the way they are attacked by Hera, Poseidon and Aphrodite who are waging war against them in the hopes of stopping their deaths. Cassandra is awoken to her true heritage once Athena gets a hold of her. She also finds out that Aiden is Apollo and he doesn’t appear to be dying like the other gods. She will have to decide whether to run or fight as war wages around her.

I absolutely loved Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares so I had high hopes for this book. I didn’t hate it, but I also didn’t love it. I thought it moved pretty slow. It is the beginning of a series so it is setting up who everyone is and what is happening, but not a whole lot happens other than that. It also ends in a bit of a strange place where you are not sure how things are going to play out in the future. I really enjoy books that put the old gods in the modern world and I enjoyed seeing how Athena and Hermes and the rest had adjusted to life today. I wish we would have gotten more backstory on what they had been doing for the last 2000 years and why they are suddenly dying after all this time. Maybe those questions will be answered in future books.

28. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kim, Romance

Gypsy Lord by Kat Martin, 375 pages, read by Kim, on 05/28/2014

He was Dominic Edgemont, Lord Nightwyck, heir to the Marquis of Gravenwold. But he was also a dark-eyed, half-gypsy bastard…

When tall, handsome Dominic sees one of his Romany band whipping a beautiful, flame-haired captive, he never dreams she is a pampered heiress stolen fro the English court. To have her, he will pay a king’s ransom and make himself her lord.

Lovely Catrina forbids Dominic her bed, but her fiery temper is no match for his cool determination to take her as his lover. Still, she will not be passion’s slave forever. She and her Gypsy Lord will meet again-in a glittering London setting, far from the rustic tent they shared. Will her desire for revenge overwhelm her natural urge to love?

28. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, 546 pages, read by Noelle, on 05/27/2014

I swear I’m not trying to read all of the books from Oprah’s club, it just so happens to be working out that way recently.  I loved this book, and I particularly loved the character Adah’s narration.

In 1959, Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist, takes his four young daughters, his wife, and his mission to the Belgian Congo — a place, he is sure, where he can save needy souls. But the seeds they plant bloom in tragic ways within this complex culture. Set against one of the most dramatic political events of the twentieth century — the Congo’s fight for independence from Belgium and its devastating consequences — here is New York Times-bestselling author Barbara Kingslover’s beautiful, heartbreaking, and unforgettable epic that chronicles the disintegration of family and a nation.

 

28. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle · Tags: , ,

Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, 373 pages, read by Noelle, on 05/16/2014

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

 

28. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: How To's, Humor, Inspirational, Marsha, Memoirs, NonFiction · Tags: ,

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott, 238 pages, read by Marsha, on 05/27/2014

birdLamott gives us an inside peek at her writing processes and the advice she gives to her workshop students.  Hilariously written, as one reviewer notes, the book is “a warm, generous and hilarious guide through the writer’s world and its treacherous swamps.”  Lamott is not shy about telling her students and readers that writing is hard work and what we think of as reward, publication, may not ever happen.  And yet, we should keep on writing about ourselves, our lives, our very ups and downs.  She encourages us all to just keep writing day by day.  A good dose of humor is thrown in to keep us from getting too despondent.  Lamott tackles libel, beginning writing, taking classes, and finding writing partners with a good dose of reality and fun in her text.  I highly recommend it for any creative person who needs a good laugh.

 

28. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Sarah, Teen Books

The Battle of Jericho by Sharon Draper, 297 pages, read by Sarah, on 05/27/2014

   Jericho has a chance to pledge with the Warriors of Distinction, a club in his school that seems to have it all going on.  The pledges are told all or none so they have to stick together through pledge week through all types of challenges to prove themselves worthy of the group.  At what point do the challenges cross the line?  Should Jericho and his friends stick together and endure the worst?  Or band together to stand up for what is right?

This book was very intense at times when the kids were pledging.  I was disgusted by what they were asked to do and wondered how this type of hazing could ever be allowed.  Obviously, the adults didn’t know the full extent of what was going to transpire that week.  This was a powerful book that serves as a reminder to always listen to that little voice in your head that tells you if something doesn’t feel right…or if you need to get the heck out of a situation.  It was well told, but predictable.

27. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books

Unthinkable by Nancy Werlin, 400 pages, read by Angie, on 05/26/2014

Fanella has been trapped in Faerie for 400 years. The curse on her family has finally been broken, but she finds she is under another curse and she cannot die. Because Fanella started the curse on the Scarboroughs and doomed each generation of Scarborough women to be sent to Faerie, she feels she should die now that the curse has been broken by Lucy. The Faerie queen tells her she too must perform three acts in order to break her curse. Fanella jumps on the chance before she is told the acts must be of destruction and on her family in the human world. Fanella will do anything for the chance at death so she agrees. Then she is also told if she doesn’t complete the acts the original curse will be reinstated. Fanella goes to her family and convinces them she has been freed from Faerie. She begins her acts of destruction; first destroying safety, then love, then hope. All the while she is trying to work through her feelings for her family and her new feelings for Walker, the handsome friend of the family who has taken an interest in her. 

I didn’t love this book. Perhaps if I had read the first book where Lucy broke the curse I might have been more invested in it. I found I got really frustrated with Fanella’s tendency to just jump into things and not think them through. I loved her Faerie companion though. The Queen turns Ryland (her brother) into a cat and sends him into the human world to advise Fanella. He is full of snarky comments and truly adds a humorous touch to the book. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed in the ending as well. Fanella spends all her time working towards her death, but in the end chooses to live out her life (with Walker of course). I found it typical and not surprising but a bit of a muddle to the story. Not a bad book, just not my favorite.

27. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery by Steve Sheinkin, 352 pages, read by Angie, on 05/24/2014

What did I know about Benedict Arnold before reading this book? Very little. I knew he was a traitor, but I had no idea what he had actually done or who he was other than that. Turns out Benedict Arnold was a hero before he was a traitor and if he had been treated a little better history may have remembered him as the former instead of the latter. Benedict Arnold was a successful business man before the Revolutionary War. When the colonies decided to rebel against Britain he was one of the first to sign up and fight. He became a general in the army and led many successful campaigns. However, he was not well liked by some of the military authorities or by the colonial government. He was passed over for promotions, accused of crimes and even forced to stand trial. This was all partially his own fault as he was reckless and went against authority. He became embroiled in the plot to give Westpoint to the British because of the poor treatment he received. While his accomplices may have been caught, Arnold made it to British territory and eventually to England. His treatment was not all that much better however and his treachery may have been for naught. This book reads like an action/adventure novel. It is a bit long, so younger readers might find its size daunting. However, I think they would enjoy it once they get into it. Fans of history and adventure will enjoy this nonfiction work.

27. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Eric, Fiction

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein, 291 pages, read by Eric, on 05/17/2014

Eccentric billionaire Luigi Lemoncello, creator of the most popular board games in the world, has designed the most amazing library in the world. 12-yr-old Kyle Keeley and eleven other fellow students have been chosen to be the first to experience the library during an overnight lock-in event. The thrills of that night are nothing compared to the challenge given by Lemoncello the following morning- the first tween able to discover a secret exit from the library will earn a very special prize.

I’m sure nearly everyone reviewing this book makes an instant connection between this adventure and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The influence is obvious, but not in a negative way. The library is a fantastical place which any fan of reading and puzzles would die to visit for a lifetime or two. The array of characters also are familiar, from the win-at-any-cost rich kid to the bookworm more interested in keeping her nose in a book than solving any sort of riddle. Kyle lands squarely in between, and has a small, likeable group of friends, as well. Several of the trivia challenges the author has the tweens solve are quite out of time for a younger generation, but they work as a whole, and keep the game hopping. References to popular (and slightly dated) books are peppered throughout the adventure. I’m not twelve anymore, but I would be happy to join these kids.  Time to build a library!

27. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance

Set the dark on fire by Jill Sorenson, 432 pages, read by Melody, on 05/27/2014

In a southern California town ablaze with sordid secrets, a free-spirited biologist and a straitlaced sheriff join forces to investigate a suspicious killing—and find themselves getting a little too close to the flames… 

Shay Phillips knows her way around Dark Canyon. She’s handy with a gun and can track a wild animal with the best of them. It’s humans who usually give her the most trouble. And with a hormonally charged teenage brother to raise—and an admitted weakness for the wrong kind of man—they’re giving her plenty of trouble these days. Then there’s the matter of murder. As an expert on mountain lions, Shay is skeptical when a local prostitute turns up mauled without a drop of blood near the body.

Now, together with the town’s newly arrived sheriff, Luke Meza—a Las Vegas city boy with his own dark secrets—Shay must navigate a dangerous valley filled with angry ex-lovers, unfaithful spouses, and poisonous snakes in a desperate search for the killer. But when suspicion falls on her own brother, and her attraction to Luke rages into a full-on erotic affair, can Shay quell the fires inside her long enough to uncover the truth?

27. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kim, Romance

Natchez flame by Kat Martin, 422 pages, read by Kim, on 05/27/2014

A woman of courage and honor. She sold everything she owned to go west and marry a powerful land baron she’d never seen. But Priscilla Wills hadn’t counted on the gunfight or the gunfighter who would change her life: the tall, broad-shouldered man who killed her guardian in self-defense. Reluctantly he agreed to take her through the dangerous Texas back country to her fiance’s ranch. She hadn’t planned on a journey that would take her into a stranger’s soul as he delivered her into another man’s waiting arms.

A man who lived by the gun. He was an outlaw yet Brendan Trask unleashed in the prim and proper Priscilla a fiery passion that matched his own. But a man running for his life couldn’t afford a woman who hungered for the security that only her wealthy fiance could provide.

27. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance

Tempted by his target by Jill Sorenson, 224 pages, read by Melody, on 05/25/2014

Wanted for the murder of a Mexican drug lord’s son, party girl Isabel Sanborn fled to Oaxaca. Now she owes her life to Brandon Knox, a passing tourist who just saved her from a hit man.
But Knox is no accidental hero—he’s an undercover U.S. marshal assigned to bring Isabel to justice. Instead, wanting to protect her, he joins her on the lam…with cartel goons and corrupt police in hot pursuit!

And as the danger escalates, sexual tension sizzles. For the first time in his career, Brandon considers jeopardizing his mission to safeguard his target. And though Isabel can elude the authorities,she can’t escape her feelings.

27. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance

Heartbreaker by Linda Howard, 256 pages, read by Melody, on 05/25/2014

Michelle Cabot has inherited her father’s Florida cattle ranch — and a mountain of debt. To make matters worse, a huge chunk of that debt is owed to the neighboring rancher, her nemesis John Rafferty.

Nothing shocks Rafferty more than discovering that the spoiled, pampered rich girl he once despised is painstakingly trying to run the Cabot ranch herself, working the land with desperation the only thing she has left. He likes this new Michelle and decides to make her his woman. What he doesn’t know is that underneath Michelle’s cool, polished façade lies heartache, secrets and the raw determination to live life as her own woman. But Rafferty isn’t about to take no for an answer.

27. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kim, Romance

Savannah heat by Kat Martin, 448 pages, read by Kim, on 05/25/2014

Despite her disguise as Silver Jones, tavern maid, Lady Selena Hardwich-Jones was captured by bounty hunters combing the Georgia cost for the runaway with hair pale as spun silver and eyes like soft brown velvet. Forced onto a ship headed for her home in the West Indies, Silver vowed to make her break for freedom. But in the vessel’s brash owner she found a will to match her own. Major Morgan Trask was determined to deliver his lovely human cargo safely to the aristocrat he had long admired.

Was the ship’s dashing captain Silver’s stern captor–or her gallant protector? Tormented by doubts, tantalized by desire, Silver’s emotions were in turmoil. For a secret shame kept her from telling Morgan. Trask the real reason for her flight, all the while fearing–and yearning –to trust him.

As they sailed into treacherous waters, their very lives in peril, Silver and Morgan could no longer deny their hunger for each other … as they surrendered to a passion that burned hotter than the Savannah heat.

27. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Melody, Romance

Stranded with her ex by Jill Sorenson, 219 pages, read by Melody, on 05/24/2014

An exotic wildlife preserve is a dream come true for conservation biologist Daniela Flores. Until she finds out her ex-husband is leading the research team. World-famous shark expert Sean Carmichael has only grown more ruggedly appealing in the time they were apart…the passion between them more intense than ever. But how could Daniela forgive Sean for betraying her when she needed him most?Sean had come to the remote Farallon Islands to study killer sharks. Now a real killer is on the loose, threatening the woman he’s never stopped loving. And this time, he knows he can’t walk away. Marooned together during a deadly storm, Sean vows to go to hell and back to save Daniela…and for the chance to begin again.

27. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kim, Romance

Creole Fires by Kat Martin, 432 pages, read by Kim, on 05/24/2014

When a former Southern debutante arrives at the plantation of a wealthy New Orleans landowner, as his servant no less, a fire is ignited in this steamy historical romance.

27. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kim, Romance

The fire inside by Kat Martin, 408 pages, read by Kim, on 05/23/2014

Kassandra “Kitt” Wentworth was no ordinary young woman. Headstrong and rebellious, this daughter of a viscount had no intention of obeying her father, submitting to a husband … or falling in love. But she never thought a man like Clayton Harcourt would pursue her. As the bastard son of a wealthy duke, Clay was no stranger to scandal. Taking a wife was not his plan, but Kitt’s wild spirit drew him like a flame in the darkness, and the gossip swirling around her awakened a desire to tame and protect her. When Clay lays a trap for marriage, Kitt can’t help but surrender to the passion he stirs within her. But will a secret from her past keep her from trusting her heart to the magnificent rogue who arouses her most burning desires?