28. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle

The Museum of Extraordinary Things: A Novel by Alice Hoffman, read by Noelle, on 08/14/2014

Mesmerizing and illuminating, Alice Hoffman’s The Museum of Extraordinary Things is the story of an electric and impassioned love between two vastly different souls in New York during the volatile first decades of the twentieth century.

Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island boardwalk freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father’s “museum,” alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River.

The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father’s Lower East Side Orthodox community and his job as a tailor’s apprentice. When Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the suspicious mystery behind a young woman’s disappearance and ignites the heart of Coralie.

With its colorful crowds of bootleggers, heiresses, thugs, and idealists, New York itself becomes a riveting character as Hoffman weaves her trademark magic, romance, and masterful storytelling to unite Coralie and Eddie in a sizzling, tender, and moving story of young love in tumultuous times. The Museum of Extraordinary Things is Alice Hoffman at her most spellbinding.

28. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Judy, Science Fiction · Tags:

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, read by Judy, on 08/27/2014

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.

 

28. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Judy, Romance · Tags:

Fifty Shades Freed by E L James, read by Judy, on 08/20/2014

When unworldly student Anastasia Steele  first encounters the driven and dazzling young entrepreneur Christian Grey, it sparked a sensual affair that changed both of their lives irrevocably.  Shocked, intrigued, and, ultimately, repelled by Christian’s singular erotic tastes, Ana demands a deeper commitment.  Determined to keep her, Christian agrees.

Now, Ana and Christian have it all–love, passion, intimacy, wealth, and a world of possibilities for their future.   But Ana knows that loving her Fifty Shades will not be easy, and that being together will pose challenges that neither of them would anticipate.  Ana must somehow learn to share Christian’s opulent lifestyle without sacrificing her own identity.  And Christian must overcome his compulsion to control as he wrestles with the demons of a tormented past.

Just when it seems that their strength together will eclipse any obstacle, misfortune, malice, and fate conspire to make Ana’s deepest fears turn to reality.

28. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Judy, Romance · Tags:

Fifty Shades Darker by E L James, read by Judy, on 08/10/2014

Daunted by the singular tastes and dark secrets of the beautiful, tormented  young entrepreneur Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele has broken off their relationship to start a new career with Seattle publishing house.

But desire for Christian still dominates her every waking though, and when he proposes a new arrangement, Anastasia cannot resit.  They rekindle their searing sensual affair, and Anastasia learns more about the harrowing past of her damaged, driven and demanding Fifty Shades.

While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her, and make the most important decision of her life.

28. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Judy, Romance · Tags:

Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James, read by Judy, on 08/04/2014

When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating.   The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him.  Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her too — but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates.  For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control.   When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Thriller/Suspense

All Day and a Night by Alafair Burke, read by Madeline, on 08/15/2014

A murder case with ties to a convicted serial killer leads a young defense lawyer and an NYPD homicide detective into parallel investigations with explosive and deadly results in this superb mystery.

The latest story dominating the tabloids – the murder of psychotherapist Helen Brunswick-couldn’t be further from Carrie Blank’s world handling federal appeals at an elite Manhattan law firm. But then a hard-charging celebrity trial lawyer calls Carrie with an offer she can’t refuse: Anthony Amaro, the serial killer police blamed for the murder of Carrie’s older sister, Donna, has new evidence related to Brunswick’s murder that he believes can exonerate him. Determined to force the government to catch Donna’s real killer, Carrie takes on Amaro’s wrongful conviction claim. 

On the other side of Amaro’s case is NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher, who, along with her partner, JJ Rogan, is tapped as the “fresh look” team to reassess the investigation that led to Amaro’s conviction. The case is personal for them, too: Ellie wonders whether they got the assignment because of her relationship with the lead prosecutor, and Rogan has his own reasons to distrust Amaro’s defense team. 

As the NYPD and Amaro’s lawyers search for certainty among years of conflicting evidence, their investigations take them back to Carrie’s hometown and secrets left behind there. And when Carrie falls victim to a brutal attack, it becomes clear that the young attorney got too close to the truth.

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Informational Book, Marsha, NonFiction

Evolution of a Missouri Asylum: Fulton State Hospital, 1851-2006 by Richard L. Lael, read by Marsha, on 08/27/2014

downloadThis text provides a lot of basic information about the formation of the asylum in Fulton as well as present day status and everything in between.  Very informative if the reader is interested in some of the politics surrounding the state hospital throughout history.  Lael gives a lot of factual information, including patient statistics.  However, I feel that the book is lacking in one very important aspect: the lives of the patients who lived/live there.  In order to give an accurate history, this reviewer feels that conditions within the asylum should have been included, not just what was happening on the outside.  Though the author makes note of three patients who lived there, this is a very small and seemingly insignificant portion of the book.  An interesting read, but not what this reviewer was looking for.  So many of the treatments used were just glossed over or barely mentioned.  This is, then, truly only a PARTIAL history of this facility.

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Jane, Science Fiction, Teen Books

In The After by Demitria Lunetta, read by Jane, on 08/21/2014

They hear the most silent of footsteps.
They are faster than anything you’ve ever seen.
And They won’t stop chasing you…until you are dead.

Amy is watching TV when it happens, when the world is attacked by Them. These vile creatures are rapidly devouring mankind. Most of the population is overtaken, but Amy manages to escape—and even rescue “Baby,” a toddler left behind in the chaos. Marooned in Amy’s house, the girls do everything they can to survive—and avoid Them at all costs.

After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living in a former government research compound. While at first the colony seems like a dream with plenty of food, safety, and shelter, New Hope slowly reveals that it is far from ideal. And Amy soon realizes that unless things change, she’ll lose Baby—and much more.

Rebellious, courageous, and tender, this unforgettable duo will have you on the edge of your seat as you tear through the pulse-pounding narrow escapes and horrifying twists of fate in this thrilling debut from author Demitria Lunetta.

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Mystery

Sinister by Lisa Jackson, Nancy Bush, Rosalind Noonan, read by Jane, on 08/14/2014

A Killer’s Patience

Twenty years ago, a fire ravaged the Dillinger family’s old homestead, killing Judd Dillinger and crippling his girlfriend. Most people blamed a serial arsonist who’d been seen around town. But strange things are happening in Prairie Creek, Wyoming, again.

Will Be Rewarded

Ira Dillinger, the family’s wealthy patriarch, has summoned his children home for his upcoming wedding. Eldest son, Colton, and his siblings don’t approve of their father’s gold-digging bride-to-be. But someone is making his displeasure felt in terrifying ways, setting fires just like in the past. Only this time, there will be no survivors.

In Blood

As fear and distrust spread through Prairie Creek, soon all the Dillingers, and those closest to them, are targets–and suspects. A killer has been honing his skill, feeding his fury, and waiting for the moment when the Dillingers come home–to die. 

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Mystery

Remains of Innocence by J.A. Jance, read by Jane, on 08/07/2014

Sheriff Joanna Brady must solve two perplexing cases that may be tied together in New York Times bestselling author J. A. Jance’s thrilling tale of suspense that brings to life Arizona’s Cochise County and the desert Southwest in all its beauty and mystery. 

An old woman, a hoarder, is dying of emphysema in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. In cleaning out her house, her daughter, Liza Machett, discovers a fortune in hundred dollar bills hidden in the tall stacks of books and magazines that crowd every corner. 

Tracing the money’s origins will take Liza on a journey that will end in Cochise County, where Sheriff Joanna Brady is embroiled in a personal mystery of her own. A man she considers a family friend is found dead at the bottom of a hole in a limestone cavern near Bisbee. And now there is the mystery of Liza and the money. Are the two disparate cases connected? It’s up to Joanna to find out. 

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Autobiographies, NonFiction · Tags:

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai, Christina Lamb, read by Angie, on 08/27/2014

While I think Malala’s story is an inspirational one I think this book was very poorly written. Malala is the Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban and became an international icon for girl’s schooling. She and her father had both been very outspoken opponents to the Taliban’s closing of girl’s schools and the reduced opportunities for education for girls in Pakistan. After she was shot she was taken to England to receive treatment. I believe in her cause and think more people need to stand up to the Taliban as she does. However, this book was pretty hard to listen to. Maybe if I had read it instead of listening to the audio I might have been able to brush off the weaknesses of the text; however, listening to the story just highlighted how poorly written the book really was. The book is set up as her autobiography where she talks about her family history, her childhood, her fight for education and the aftermath of the shooting. Interspersed with that is a lot of Pakistan history and especially history of her beloved Swat Valley. The problem with this book was the lack of cohesive storytelling. It was almost like the co-author took notes as Malala was speaking and instead of putting those notes into a cohesive story she just typed them up verbatim. So the story jumps topics and is more of a stream of consciousness telling than anything else. It may or may not get back to the point or it just might start on another tangent and completely abandon original topic. And this stream of consciousness will be broken up as a part of Pakistan history has to be explained so the reader will understand where her opinion is coming from. Some of this may have been translation but I think most of it has to be the responsibility of the co-author Christina Lamb. I had high hopes for this story and was deeply disappointed. I would not recommend it. If you want to be inspired by Malala I would probably recommend finding some of the articles about her and reading those.

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa

Nine Open Arms by Benny Lindelauf, read by Lisa, on 08/26/2014

An intriguing novel with a classic feel, featuring three vividly alive young sisters, an eccentric family struggling against the odds, and the slowly revealed story of a house with a past.

At the end of the world, near the border with Germany, stands a house as long as nine open arms. Half hidden behind trees and shrubs rises a wide brick wall, topped with two attic windows, each no bigger than a dishcloth. The walls have been whitewashed and the wooden floor is bare, as if the house is waiting. Waiting for someone to move in. 

It is the summer of 1937, and it hasn’t rained for seven weeks when Fing and her family of nine move into Nine Open Arms, along with their handcart of meagre belongings. ‘The Dad’ is a man who does all kinds of jobs and none of them well, while Oma Mei courageously holds everything together, including the family’s history in her Crocodile bag full of pictures and stories. But as the year progresses, the family just gets poorer.

Meanwhile, Fing and her two sisters, wild Muulke and fearful Jess, begin to discover strange mysteries…a bed that looks like a tombstone, and an unmarked grave in the cemetery.

Nine Open Arms is an exceptional imagined historical mystery – the story of a very special home, the eccentric families who have lived within it, and the unexpected ties that emerge between the two..

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

Sea-Cat and Dragon King by Angela Carter, Eva Tatcheva (Illustrator), read by Lisa, on 08/13/2014

This is a magical story of the love between mother and child and the gifts of kindness and understanding. Dragon King and Sea-Cat both live under the sea. Sea-Cat lives with his mother who sews him fabulous jewel-encrusted suits that shimmer and capture the attention of all who see him. Dragon King, the ruler, lives a sad and lonely life as he is so ashamed of his ugliness. When he sees Sea-Cat in his beautiful suit, he is overcome with jealousy and wants the suit for himself. But Sea-Cat is clever and kind and befriends Dragon King. Sea-Cat knows his mother can turn the Dragon King’s ruby tears into a most dazzling suit, just for him! 

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Lisa

I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum, read by Lisa, on 08/22/2014

Where’d You Go, Bernadette meets Beautiful Ruins in this reverse love story set in Paris and London about a failed monogamist’s attempts to answer the question: Is it really possible to fall back in love?

Despite the success of his first solo show in Paris and the support of his brilliant French wife and young daughter, thirty-four-year-old British artist Richard Haddon is too busy mourning the loss of his American mistress to a famous cutlery designer to appreciate his fortune.

But after Richard discovers that a painting he originally made for his wife, Anne -when they were first married and deeply in love-has sold, it shocks him back to reality and he resolves to reinvest wholeheartedly in his family life . . . just in time for his wife to learn the extent of his affair. Rudderless and remorseful, Richard embarks on a series of misguided attempts to win Anne back while focusing his creative energy on a provocative art piece to prove that he’s still the man she once loved.

Skillfully balancing biting wit with a deep emotional undercurrent, debut novelist Courtney Maum has created the perfect portrait of an imperfect family-and a heartfelt exploration of marriage, love, and fidelity.

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier, read by Lisa, on 08/15/2014

This much-anticipated follow-up to Jonathan Auxier’s exceptional debut,Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, is a Victorian ghost story with shades of Washington Irving and Henry James. More than just a spooky tale, it’s also a moral fable about human greed and the power of storytelling.

The Night Gardener follows two abandoned Irish siblings who travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. With Auxier’s exquisite command of language, The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making.

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Lisa, NonFiction

Papa: An Intimate Biography of Mark Twain by Susy Clemens, read by Lisa, on 08/08/2014

Olivia Susan Clemens, known as Susy Clemens was the eldest daughter and second child of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) and his wife Olivia Langdon Clemens. Susie is said to have inspired some of the character traits for Joan of Arc, in her father’s historical novel: Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc. 

At the age of thirteen, Susy Clemens began work on a biography of her famous father, Samuel Clemens who wrote under the pen name, Mark Twain. Susie’s brief biography of Twain was eventually published as Papa: An Intimate Biography of Mark Twain in 1988. The book includes a brief recollection of young Susie meeting a dying Ulysses S. Grant as the former Civil War General and United States President worked on his personal memoirs for Twain’s publishing house. Twain included some passages from his daughter’s biographical sketch of him into his own autobiography. 

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Lisa

Revenge of the Flower Girls by Jennifer Ziegler, read by Lisa, on 08/01/2014

In this middle-grade Bridesmaids, hilarity ensues as triplets have to stop a wedding!

One bride. Two boys. Three flower girls who won’t forever hold their peace. What could go wrong with this wedding? Everything!

The Brewster triplets, Dawn, Darby, and Delaney, would usually spend their summer eating ice cream, playing with their dog, and reading about the US Presidents. But this year they’re stuck planning their big sister Lily’s wedding. Lily used to date Alex, who was fun and nice and played trivia games with the triplets, and no one’s quite sure why they broke up. Burton, Lily’s groom-to-be, is not nice or fun, and he looks like an armadillo.

The triplets can’t stand to see Lily marry someone who’s completely wrong for her, so it’s up to them to stop the wedding before anyone says “I do!” The flower girls will stop at nothing to delay Lily’s big day, but will sprinklers, a photo slideshow, a muddy dog, and some unexpected allies be enough to prevent their big sister – and the whole Brewster family – from living unhappily ever after?

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Fire & Ash by Jonathan Maberry, read by Angie, on 08/26/2014

I am not sure why it took me so long to get around to reading this final book in Jonathan Maberry’s Rot & Ruin series. I love this series and I loved this book. It was the perfect ending to the series. 

Benny and the gang have made it across the desert and to the safe haven of Sanctuary. Of course nothing is quite what it seems. The military staff at Sanctuary is very secretive and won’t tell them anything about what is happening. The Reapers led by Saint John are still out there and headed to the Nine Towns. Chong was bitten in the last book and is becoming more and more like a zombie. This is the first time Benny, Nix, Lilah and Riot have a chance to take a moment and take stock of themselves and what they have discovered in the Rot & Ruin. They are not the same people they were when they started this trip to find the mysterious plane. They thought they would find all the answers and all they found were more questions. There is also the case of the missing Dr. McReady. She was supposed to be on the plane they found in the desert and she supposedly has a cure for the reaper plague. The teens set off with Captain Joe Ledger to find her and the cure and bring an end to the zombie nightmare. 

What I love about this series is the fact that even though it is about zombies it really isn’t about zombies. It is about the inhumanity of man and how without society’s strictures man becomes the monster. Zombies are just mindless disease carriers. They have no thought or rationale, but man chooses to do evil or good. This theme is more explicitly stated in this book than in some of the others, but it is an important theme. Benny has to find the person who can fight and win against Saint John. He has to do decide if doing what has to be done to win will make him cross that line in becoming a monster himself. In some ways this book is about redemption; the redemption of Benny, Chong, Nix, Lilah, Riot and even Joe and the redemption of mankind. Is mankind worthy of saving? Or should they allow everyone to be released to the darkness. I really loved how this series ended; it was perfect and felt natural. Humanity is worth saving and there is hope in the world.

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, How To's, Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

The Beginner's Guide to Dream Interpretation by Clarissa Pinkola Estés , read by Kira, on 08/24/2014

indexindex2Estes guides you in how to interpret your dreams.  First she gives you guidance in remembering your dreams, including writing them down, having a tape recorder near your bed, and vowing to remember your dreams.  She discounts, using standard dream dictionaries to interpret symbols.  She advises paying attention to the nouns in your dreams, and then looking for synonyms to figure out what they might represent. Often, I find there is a major difference in the tone or feeling of my dream, compared to what actually happens in my dreams.  Sometimes, there are really yucky feelings, without anything ominous actually happening.  So I wasn’t sure the noun approach would really work for me.

She also covers specific dream narratives that lots of people experience, like flying dreams, or waking up late for a test, of finding yourself without your clothes.  The one recurring dream that I have that she didn’t cover is the one where I am choosing my bed in a dorm room, or some variant thereof.

I tried her methods and got some advice from my subconscious that I’ve ignored, that I know I should take care of, but don’t really want to.  So much for amplifying my subconscious.

butterfly-dreams goddess3 images4indexpI have really enjoyed this authors work and will continue to keep an eye out for her.

26. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Graphic Novel · Tags:

Signal to Noise by Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean (Illustrator), read by Angie, on 08/25/2014

A filmmaker is dying. He is retreating from everyday life as he gets worse. He is also working on a film he never believes to see made. It is the end of the world; the last day of the last month of the millennium; 999 AD. This book explores the noise of the world and what it means in our lives. It is an interesting concept and book. The noise between the chapters seems like just a jumble of words but does seem to represent the noise of the world that can distract us from what is important.