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

Alpha by Jasinda Wilder, read by Jessica, on 05/23/2014

The first time it happened, it seemed like an impossible miracle. Bills were piling up, adding up to more money than I could ever make. Mom’s hospital bills. My baby brother’s tuition. My tuition. Rent. Electricity. All of it on my shoulders. And I had just lost my job. There was no hope, no money in my account, no work to be found. And then, just when I thought all hope was lost, I found an envelope in the mail. No return address. My name on the front, my address. Inside was a check, made out to me, in the amount of ten thousand dollars. Enough to pay the bills and leave me some left over to live on until I found a job. Enough to let me focus on classes. There was no name on the check, just “VRI Inc.,” and a post office box address for somewhere in the city. No hint of identity or reason for the check or anything. No mention of repayment, interest, nothing…except a single word, on the notes line: “You.” Just those three letters.

If you receive a mysterious check, for enough money to erase all your worries, would you cash it?

I did.

The next month, I received another check, again from VRI Incorporated. It too contained a single word: “belong.”

A third check, the next month. This time, two words. Four letters. “To me.”

The checks kept coming. The notes stopped. Ten thousand dollars, every month. A girl gets used to that, real quick. It let me pay the bills without going into debt. Let me keep my baby brother in school and Mom’s hospice care paid for. How do you turn down what seems like free money, when you’re desperate? You don’t. I didn’t.

And then, after a year, there was a knock on my door. A sleek black limousine sat on the curb in front of my house. A driver stood in front of me, and he spoke six words: “It’s time to pay your debt.”

Would you have gotten in?

I did.

It turns out $120,000 doesn’t come free.

27. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry, read by Nikki, on 05/26/2014

image.axdSo wrong for each other…and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth.

But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can PUSH THE LIMITS and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her HOW TO LOVE AGAIN.

27. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Slammed by Colleen Hoover, read by Nikki, on 05/14/2014

SlammedFollowing the unexpected death of her father, eighteen-year-old Layken becomes the rock for both her mother and younger brother. She appears resilient and tenacious, but inside, she’s losing hope. Then she meets her new neighbor Will, a handsome twenty-one-year-old whose mere presence leaves her flustered and whose passion for poetry slams thrills her.

Not long after a heart-stopping first date during which each recognizes something profound and familiar in the other, they are slammed to the core when a shocking discovery brings their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together and the forces that tear them apart. Only through the poetry they share are they able to speak the truth that is in their hearts and imagine a future where love is cause for celebration, not regret.

27. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover, read by Nikki, on 05/11/2014

81rCityicgL._SL1500_At twenty-two years old, Sydney has a great life: She’s in college, working a steady job, in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her best friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers Hunter’s cheating on her–and she is left trying to decide what to do next.

Sydney becomes captivated by Ridge, her mysterious neighbor. She can’t take her eyes off him or stop listening to the passionate way he plays his guitar every evening out on his balcony. And there’s something about Sydney that Ridge can’t ignore, either. When their inevitable encounter happens, they soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one…

27. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Rush too Far by Abbi Glines, read by Nikki, on 05/08/2014

Rush-Too-FarbRush has earned every bit of his bad-boy reputation. The three-story beach house, luxury car, and line of girls begging for time between his sheets are the envy of every guy in Rosemary Beach, and Rush handles it all with the laid-back cool of a rock star’s son. All he needs are his best friend, Grant, and his sister, Nan.

Until Blaire Wynn drives into town in her beat-up pickup truck with a pistol under her seat. The Alabama farm girl instantly captures Rush’s attention once he discovers that the angelic beauty is his new stepsister, but he vows to keep his distance. Even if she needs his help. Even if he craves her.

Because Rush knows why Blaire is all alone in the world, forced to ask for help from the father who abandoned her three years ago. And he knows if he gets too close it will destroy Nan, who has a secret connection to Blaire.

He has every reason in the world to stay away from her. Find out why he doesn’t.

27. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Forever with You by Laurelin Paige, read by Nikki, on 05/05/2014

forever-with-you-by-laurelin-paigeAlayna Withers relationship with Hudson Pierce has tested both her and his ability to trust. They decide that the only way they can move forward together is with open doors and transparency. It won’t be easy for the scarred lovers, but they’re committed to each other more now than ever. Alayna, in particular, has grown through their trials, and has emerged more confident and faithful to the man she loves.

But while the pair is focused on the future, their past shows up again to threaten their fragile bond. Promises that were made are broken, and Alayna learns that Hudson still has very potent secrets—secrets that will tear them both apart. As much as she feels for him, her ability to forgive and forget is tested beyond her limits.

Even though she found the only man who could fix her, a forever with Hudson seems more and more out of reach.

27. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Found in You by Laurelin Paige, read by Nikki, on 05/03/2014

found-in-you-coverAlayna Withers has only had one kind of relationship: the kind that makes her obsessive and stalker-crazy. Now that Hudson Pierce has let her into his heart, she’s determined to break down the remaining walls between them so they can build a foundation that’s based on more than just amazing sex. Except Hudson’s not the only one with secrets.

With their pasts pulling them into a web of unfounded mistrust, Alayna turns to the one person who knows Hudson the best–Celia, the woman he almost married. Hoping for insight from someone who understands all sides of the story, Alayna forms a bond with Celia that goes too far–revealing things about Hudson that could end their love for good.

This is the first relationship where Alayna hasn’t spiraled out of control. And she might lose Hudson anyway…

27. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Fixed on You by Laurelin Paige, read by Nikki, on 05/02/2014

fixed-on-you-cover-finalStalking and restraining orders are a thing of Alayna Wither’s past. With her MBA newly in hand, she has her future figured out–move up at the nightclub she works at and stay away from any guy who might trigger her obsessive love disorder. A perfect plan. But what Alayna didn’t figure on is Hudson Pierce, the new owner of the nightclub. He’s smart, rich, and gorgeous–the kind of guy Alayna knows to stay away from if she wants to keep her past tendencies in check. Except, Hudson’s fixed his sights on her. He wants her in his bed and makes no secret of it. Avoiding him isn’t an option after he offers a business proposition she can’t turn down and she’s drawn further into his universe, unable to resist his gravitational pull. When she learns Hudson has a dark history of his own, she realizes too late that she’s fallen for the worst man she could possibly get involved with. Or maybe their less than ideal pasts give them an opportunity to heal each other and finally find the love their lives have been missing.

23. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Graphic Book, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: ,

To Teach: The Journey in Comics by Willliam Ayers, read by Tammy, on 05/04/2014

to teachGraphic novel of the true life adventures of William Ayers as an elementary school teacher. Ayers obviously loves teaching and loves his students but has to struggle with administration and paperwork. His approach to teaching is for lots of group activities and lots of kinetic interaction with the learning items. He believes that kids learn best when having fun and feeling like they are playing instead of working. His class is very busy and loud. As an introvert who likes structure I would have been overwhelmed by such a classroom environment, but my niece would love it. I’m sure she and many others students could benefit from this active and social learning process.

23. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction, Tammy · Tags:

Serenity: The Shepherd's Tale by Joss Whedon, read by Tammy, on 05/02/2014

serenityThe third graphic novel in the Serenity series. The Shepherd’s Tale gives the back story of one of my favorite Firefly characters, Shepherd Book. The high points and low points of his life are told from childhood to where he joins the crew of Firefly. To say anymore would give too much away
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22. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Horror

Fatale Vol 4.: Pray For Rain by Ed Brubaker, read by Brian, on 05/22/2014

fatale4A woman with no memory stumbles upon a Grunge band in 90s. As demons try to track her down along with psycho killer, Josephine must find her memory before she destroys the people closest to her or the demons find her.

 

22. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Horror

Fatale Vol. 3: West of Hell by Ed Brubaker, read by Brian, on 05/22/2014

17689064Volume 3 of Fatale follows our heroine through the Great Depression, Middle Ages and the Wild West.  We learn more about our main character as she tries to evade the demons that chase her..

 

21. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Teen Books

The F- It List by Julie Halpern, read by Angie, on 05/20/2014

Alex is not speaking to her best friend because she slept with her boyfriend the night of her dad’s funeral. So she spends the whole summer dealing with her grief over her dad. She goes back to school ready to forgive Becca only to find out she has cancer. So the friendship is back on and Becca shares her bucket list with Alex. They call it the f*** it list. Becca has been working on this list since she was 12 and it has a wide range of things she wants Alex to take care of for her. While Alex is working on the list, she starts hanging out with Leo. And when I say hanging out I really mean making out. Alex is obsessed with horror movies and Leo shares her love of the genre. But Alex is a very closed off person who comes off as not very nice. She doesn’t want to open herself up to her feelings for Leo and drives him away instead. 

This book didn’t end up being exactly what I thought it was going to be. I assumed it would be more about Alex and Becca’s relationship and dealing with Becca’s cancer. Instead it was more about Alex and Leo’s relationship and Alex dealing with her feelings. That was fine, but I felt like it was a little misleading. This is also not a book for the younger teen crowd. There is a LOT of language and a lot of talk about sex and a lot of well described make out sessions. Nothing wrong with that either, but it might shock (or educate) younger readers (and their parents). I enjoyed the story of Alex as she dealt with her grief over the loss of her dad, her fears about Becca and her new relationship with Leo. It was a fast read just not suitable for younger audiences. 

21. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Eric, Fantasy, Fiction

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett, read by Eric, on 05/10/2014

A new era is arriving on the Discworld, in the form of a steam-belching engine running along tracks. When Mr. Simnel begins demonstrating his new invention, even Lord Vetinary is surprised by the inexplicable draw Iron Girder has on the populace. One thing is for certain- the city needs to be part of this enterprise, and the Patrician believes Moist von Lipwig is the right (if not upright) man to oversee things. Meanwhile, dwarfs are revolting, and so the new train is tasked with getting the Low King of the Dwarfs to Schmaltzberg in time to put things right.

This is the 40th book in the Discworld series, which I adore. Unfortunately, my reaction to this entry is similar to the one I had for Unseen Academicals. All the familiar faces are here, but the Pratchett magic is a faded shade of octarine. There are plenty of dwarfs doing dwarfish things, and an interesting new invention for the world, but it simply isn’t as humorous or satirical as usual. Even the footnotes seem a shadow of their former selves. I will continue reading every bit of output Sir Terry manages to produce before being unable, but also hope for a bit of the old spark next time.

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

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper, read by Eric, on 05/03/2014

Melody is a bright, confident 11-yr-old, blessed with a photographic memory and the ability to “taste” music. She also has cerebral palsy, is unable to speak, and has extremely limited movement. Nearly everyone in her life assumes she is “slow,” and the frustration of not being able to prove otherwise is overwhelming. When a device to help Melody communicate finally is available to her, her intelligence is obvious to everyone. But, will she finally gain acceptance?

I appreciate how Draper refuses to take the easy, expected path with Melody’s story. Melody knows she is one of the smartest girls in any room, and she’s not afraid to make that fact known. Children (and adults) can be cruel when faced with someone deemed “different,” and Draper doesn’t wrap everything in a neat bow of acceptance. Making your place in the world can be tough, and Melody shows she is exactly that. A worthy award-winner.

21. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, History, Informational Book, Marsha, NonFiction, Science · Tags: ,

The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic by Darby Penney and Peter Stastny, read by Marsha, on 05/19/2014

livesThis most excellent book is both sad and fascinating at the same time.  I could hardly put it down.  In fact, I have started writing stories about each of the people featured in the book, using fiction to fill in the gaps that nonfiction couldn’t find answers for.  The authors do a wonderful job of painting ten portraits of people who spent decades of their lives in a state hospital for the mentally ill.  Using the items found in their long abandoned suitcases along with interviews from a few staff members and medical records, the authors try to piece together the life of each person before and during their stay at Willard State Hospital in New York.  Along with the chapters on the individuals, the authors provide interesting factual information about what it took to admit someone to such a place, how they were treated during their stay, and what the diagnoses were at the time.  The book focuses on the early part of the 20th century, before deinstitutionalization became a way of doing business.  The ease with which an individual could be locked away for decades of his or her life is staggering.  I hope that by writing more about these individuals I can do some justice to their lives, which would have been forgotten had it not been for Penney and Stastny.

bibliocraftThis book is excellent for anyone who wants to learn more about the different types of libraries and how to use them.  Even if the reader is not a crafter, there is much information to be gleaned from this book about how to make the most out of library resources and how to find what you are looking for.  The author gives a lot of tips and websites for various types of collections that might interest crafters, as well as sites for digitized collections.  Tips are also given for what to expect when viewing rare books and what some of the policies may be for libraries who hold them.  The second half of the book has a lot of information about projects and how the creators for each project used their libraries as inspiration.  Inspiration can come from images from books or even from the architecture of the library itself.  While many of the projects are not to my personal taste, I did think the explanations for making something similar were clear enough.  The projects had information about the original images that inspired each piece so that the reader could see just how the designers’ minds worked.  Very interesting book.  Even if the reader doesn’t craft, the first half is a must read for any library patron.

 

21. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Graphic Novel, History, NonFiction

Witch Hunts by Rocky Wood, read by Brian, on 05/19/2014

witchhuntWitch Hunts is a graphic novel that follows history as people were convicted of being a witch.  This book examines the brutality put on these people and what others had to gain by portraying people as witches.  Witch Hunts has been nominated for a Bram Stoker Award in the Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel category.

 

21. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Horror, Mystery, Paranormal

Fatale Vol 2: The Devil's Business by Ed Brubaker, read by Brian, on 05/20/2014

fatale2Ed Brubaker’s second book in the “Fatale” series focuses on Los Angeles in the 1970s.  Our leading lady, Josephine, is trying to escape the Satanic Cults.  All seems fine until she comes across an actor crosses her path.

 

20. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, History, Informational Book, NonFiction

For the Good of Mankind?: The Shameful History of Human Medical Experimentation by Vicki O. Wittenstein, read by Angie, on 05/19/2014

How can you resist a title about human medical experimentation? This short little book was full of all kinds of information on medical experiments done on people with and without their knowledge. The majority of the experiments took place during the last century but there were a few from the 19th century mentioned. The book covers everything from Nazi concentration camps to radiation experiments during and after WWII to the Tuskegee Syphilis experiments. I think the most disturbing information however was the fact that there are still questionable experiments being done today. Regulations are much stiffer here in the United States so drug companies are outsourcing their medical experiments to 3rd world countries. I was fascinated by everything talked about here, but I did wish there had been a little bit more detail about some of the instances.