20. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Jessica, Romance

Ignite by R.J. Lewis, read by Jessica, on 09/18/2014

81hbRGoVpUL._SL1500_They grew up together as the closest of friends… and then more. When Sara Nolan and Jaxon Barlow decided to be together, their relationship as a young couple was consumed by a love that was both passionate and beautiful. Sara had it all when it came to a boyfriend: romance, trust, and a protector of all things bad. Jaxon had given her his bleeding heart for the keeping.
The last thing Sara expected was to ruin it all. Falling into a darkness that turned her loving relationship into a chaos of deceit and violence, she walked away from the pain she was inflicting on the man she loved, never seeking to return again.
But when Sara is forced to return to her hometown, she didn’t anticipate for Jaxon to be there. Nor does she anticipate the change in him; a change so harsh and callous, he is a stranger with a dangerous agenda of his own. Ignited by her past feelings and the reminder of the guilt she carries in her heart, Sara attempts to avoid Jaxon at all costs… only to find herself trying to pull him out of the same darkness she was once in.

19. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Half a World Away by Cynthia Kadohata, read by Angie, on 09/18/2014

Jaden was adopted by his parents when he was eight years old. He is now twelve and still has issues. He doesn’t feel safe and secure enough in his home to stop hoarding food, stealing, lying and he doesn’t believe he loves his parents. When they decide to adopt a baby from Kazakhstan, Jaden has to go along and deal with his issues of trust and jealousy. In Kazakhstan, the family discovers that the baby they were promised has already been adopted and they are forced to choose another baby in minutes. Jaden doesn’t approve of the process or the fact that the baby is blank with no reactions at all to the family. He meets a toddler named Dimash who is special needs but touches his heart. As Jaden is bonding with Dimash, his parents are trying to bond with the baby and to make Jaden bond as well. Jaden has to deal with his issues and figure out if he can love his parents and new brother and get over his jealousy and security issues.

I loved Jaden’s touching story. You really feel for this little boy who doesn’t think he is capable of love (even though he does actually love his parents). He has a lot of issues that would make it difficult for his parents to love him, but they don’t seem to have any problems in that area. He is jealous of a new baby coming in to the family believing his parents want the baby because they are not happy with him. I thought Jaden’s journey of acceptance was a beautiful one. The one thing I kept questioning the entire time I was reading was the actual adoption process in Kazakhstan. The whole thing seemed so shady and borderline illegal. It seems like you shouldn’t be able to bring just any child back from another country; you should have paperwork for a specific one. And the fact that the parents were shown a parade of babies and forced to choose in minutes was really strange. As I have never adopted a child from a foreign country I don’t know what the process would be, but I have had friends who have and they were always working to get a specific child to adopt. If you can overlook the weird adoption bits and focus on Jaden’s journey this book is a wonderful one.

19. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror

Fat & Bones: And Other Stories by Larissa Theule, read by Angie, on 09/17/2014

Mr. Bald, the farmer, dies and his son Bones is finally free to go after Fat, the fairy in the tree. Mrs. Bald can’t stop crying over her husband’s death. Fat and Bones have been enemies for a long time though it is not explained what made them such. Fat makes a potion for Bones’s pig foot stew and unfortunately Mrs. Bald eats it instead causing her to go flat. Bones tries to cut down Fat’s tree and instead cuts off the cat’s tail. There are other stories interspersed in the Fat and Bones tales. A pig loses her last foot to the pig foot stew. A spider loses some blood to one of Fat’s potions. It is a gruesome little collection of stories that I am sure will find fans among those kids who like horror.

19. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Poetry

Voices from the March on Washington by J Patrick Lewis, George Ella Lyon, read by Angie, on 09/18/2014

This is a collection of poems that capture the spirit of the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. The voices range from young to old and from black to white. They capture the commitment of those determine to make a change in their world. While these are all fictional people it isn’t hard to believe there were those in the crowd who felt the way these characters felt. The poems are interspersed by verses by famous people who were actually at the March. This is an excellent collection of poems that really illustrate just how powerful that day was for those who were there.

19. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction · Tags:

Freaky Fast Frankie Joe by Lutricia Clifton, read by Angie, on 09/17/2014

When his mother is sent to jail Frankie Joe is forced to leave his home in Laredo, Texas and all his friends to move to Clearview, Illinois with a father, step-mother and four half-brothers he has never met or known about. Life in Clearview is different. He doesn’t have as much freedom; he has to go to school, do chores and report his activities to his father. Frankie Joe plans to run away and ride his bike all the way back to Texas. He needs money to take on the road so he starts a bike delivery service. As his business takes off, he starts making new friends in the people he delivers for. He does better in school and he starts becoming a part of the family.

I found this book entertaining and a quick read. Frankie Joe is a likeable character; he is enterprising and smart even if his school work doesn’t reflect it. I liked the small town part of this story and all the characters we meet. I did find some of the family members underdeveloped and a little one-dimensional, but that didn’t take away from the story. I thought all the fish-out-of-water bits were pretty realistic. However, I found it questionable that all of Frankie Joe’s friends, both in Laredo and Clearview, would be old people; he really only has one friend his age (Mandy) who is as big a misfit as he is.

Fun fast read and one I think kids will enjoy despite its problems.

19. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

First Taste of Darkness by Cynthia Eden, read by Melody, on 09/18/2014

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Cynthia Eden’s sexy romance, FIRST TASTE OF DARKNESS, will take you to the dark edge of desire…

It was supposed to be a one-night stand.

Hot sex. No regrets. Jess Delaney has spent her life playing the role of the good-girl. On a trip to Vegas, she decides to walk on the wild side when she meets mysterious Blake Landon. Rich, powerful, and carrying plenty of secrets, Blake is unlike any man she has ever met before.

Blake is also far more dangerous than anyone she’s ever encountered. When enemies from Blake’s past attack, Jess finds herself caught in a deadly cat-and-mouse game. Her only hope of survival? Trusting a man who knows too much about the dark side of life…and a man who—with every sensual touch—binds her to him with a desire that burns red-hot.

Once you step into the darkness, there’s no turning back…

17. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Pink & Green Is the New Black by Lisa Greenwald, read by Angie, on 09/16/2014

Lucy is back in her third adventure. This time she is in 8th grade and wants to make it her best ever. Of course everything isn’t going the way she had hoped. Her proposal to make the school cafeteria go green is approved but she is having issues with her boyfriend Yamir. Yamir is now in high school and he is ignoring her. He doesn’t call or text or even really talk to her anymore and Lucy is getting tired of it. Then there is new boy Travis who seems to like her and does pay attention to her. Plus the 8th grade masquerade is coming up and Lucy has been roped into helping by mean girl Erica.

I think this is a good series for girls who are interested in realistic fiction, makeup and going green. Lucy is your typical teen girl with issues and problems. I like the fact that she seems more like a teen in this one instead of old-beyond her years like she has been in the other books. I’m not sure I always find her voice to be authentic but the issues she is dealing with definitely are. This is a solid addition to this series.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

17. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kim, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Trust Me by Brenda Novak, read by Kim, on 09/16/2014

Four years ago…
Skye Kellerman was attacked in her own bed. She managed to fend off her knife-wielding assailant, but the trauma changed everything about her life. As a result of that night, she joined two friends–also survivors–in starting The Last Stand, an organization to help victims of crime.

But now…
Her would-be rapist is getting out of prison. Skye knows that Dr. Oliver Burke hasn’t forgotten that her testimony cost him his reputation–and his freedom.

Sacramento detective David Willis, who investigated her case, believes Burke is a clear and present danger–and guilty of at least two unsolved murders.

And now Burke is free to terrorize Skye again. Unless David can stop him. Unless Skye can fight back. Because Oliver Burke has every intention of finishing what he started. And that’s a promise.
Trust me.

16. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

One Night Promised by Jodi Ellen Malpas, read by Jessica, on 09/16/2014

81mQx5cxGZL._SL1500_ONE NIGHT WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH . . .

Livy notices him the moment he walks into the coffee shop. He’s heart-stoppingly stunning, with a blue-eyed gaze so piercing she’s almost too distracted to take his order. When he walks out the door, she thinks she’ll never see him again. Then she finds the note he left on his napkin . . . signed M.

All he wants is one night to worship her. No feelings, no commitment, nothing but pleasure. Every defense mechanism Livy has adopted during her solitary life is at risk of being obliterated by this confounding man. He’s obnoxious but well-mannered. He’s a gentleman but aloof. He’s passionate but emotionless. Yet the fascination is so powerful, Livy can’t deny him . . . or herself.

M awakens something in Livy, something deep and addictive that she never knew existed-and that she fears only he can satisfy. But she senses that behind the fast cars, fancy suits, and posh apartment, he’s aching inside. To have him, body and soul, she’ll have to brave his dark secrets. Delving into his world and breaking down his defenses become her obsession-an obsession that could shatter her heart beyond repair . .

16. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

A Million Ways Home by Dianna Dorisi Winget, read by Angie, on 09/15/2014

Poppy’s life has been turned upside down lately. She is living in the local children’s home because her grandma had a stroke. Her grandma is her whole life and Poppy just wants things to get back to normal. Then she tries to go see her grandma and witnesses an armed robbery where a store clerk is shot. Police officer Trey is the one to question her and get her story and he is concerned because she saw the man’s face. So Poppy goes to live with Trey’s mom, Marti, in a sort of witness protection program. Through Marti, Poppy is introduced to Carol and Lizzie who work at a local animal shelter and to Gunner, the most beautiful dog she has ever met. Poppy is determined to help Gunner who has some issues. She is also determined to get back home with her grandma, but things don’t always work out how we want them to.

I loved Poppy’s story. It was touching and so very realistic. Ok, so not many 12 year olds witness robberies, but lots of them live with grandparents and I am sure lots of them have grandparents with health issues. I liked the fact that not everything went Poppy’s way, but she still ending up in a good situation that worked for her. Her relationship with Gunner really made me want to adopt a dog! This is a beautiful, heart-breaking story.

I received this book from Netgalley.com.

16. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Guinea Dog 3 by Patrick Jennings, read by Angie, on 09/15/2014

Rufus is looking forward to the annual camping trip to White Crappie Lake with his family and his best friend Murph’s family. Then his mom goes and invites his enemy Dimitri and strange girl Lurena. Dimitri is always trying to steal Murph as his best friend and Lurena is just strange. At the campground they meet Pablo and get to talking about their pets. Rufus has a guinea pig (Fido) who thinks she is a dog and whose daughter thinks she is a squirrel (Lurena got the guinea squirrel). Fido came from a pet store called Petoria which seems to have disappeared until Pablo says he thinks he saw one. So off they go to find Petoria and another guinea pig. Turns out this one is a guinea otter?

Such a strange little book. Even though this is the third in the series I don’t think you have to have read the other two to figure it out. I think younger readers will really enjoy this story. It has a lot of humor and fun in it. I liked the mystery of what exactly Petoria is and why the animals there turn out so different. I also like that the answers are not given to us in this book.

16. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery · Tags:

The Maid's Version by Daniel Woodrell, read by Angie, on 09/15/2014

The Arbor Dance Hall exploded in West Table, Missouri on a summer night in 1929. No one knows for sure who or what caused the explosion, but 42 people lost their lives and many others were destroyed by grief. Many years after the events, Alma DeGeer Dunahew tells the story to her grandson Alek. She lost her beloved sister in the fire and has always believed she knew who did it. No one was ever prosecuted for the explosion or the deaths. Was it because the person responsible was a powerful man in the community and those in power protected him?

I am not really sure what I think about this book. It is a very short book, but yet it took me a long time to read. It is a meandering story that floats from the present to different parts of the past and back again. It is primarily told from Alek’s point of view, but skips narrators throughout. You are never really sure what is going on or how the different view points will relate to the whole story. I was never really able to get sucked in to the tale nor relate to any of the characters. By the end of the book I really just wanted to finish it and be done. Then the last chapter departed from the rest of the book and basically just told us what happened. So strange. Definitely not my favorite.

how-we-learn-by-benedict-careylearn_3019445a mgtjVsu 0824-bks-Hurley-master495 download After reading the book The Smartest Kids in the World: and How They got that Way, I started wondering how much can pedagogy be taught, and how much of it is just having a good personality.  And by “good personality” I was thinking of the charismatic “hail fellow well met type”.   I should have remembered that people with  “hail fellow well met” type of personalities, usually get more credit than they deserve see the book Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  Should teachers be required to get a good education or does getting a degree in physical education, qualify you to teach math in high school.  How much can Blond girl learning Chinese 4training benefit a teacher?

Well, given that I learned several ways to study better, to learn faster, and retain more, from this book, I think getting a good education is necessary for teachers as well.  Some of the methods I learned seemed intuitively correct, but I didn’t know why, I was unaware of other things.  I did know that studying for two hours all at once was less effective than studying 1 hour on one day, and then another hour, a couple of days later.  Why does this work better? because the deeper we have to dig to retrieve a piece of information, the more likely it is to stick.  That is why Comprehensive Exams are better for you, though less popular, because you have to study more.  It also helps explain why pop quizzes are good for students, its Not that they tell you so much about what the student knows, its that it is a good tool to help students learn.  Trying to find the answer in your brain is helpful.  Students dislike pop quizzes, yet maybe if they didn’t count for lots of points, student’s wouldn’t object to them as much.  I did know that when you reach an impasse, you should stop, take a break, then go back to the problem.  I advise my husband to do this all the time, now I have evidence to back me up.

I also  didn’t realize how important it is to mix things up, Carey call interleavement.  Drills are fine, but you don’t want to spend a long period of time on the same one, or same type, do some scales, then some etudes, then play a piece through, then work on tone, then back to scales, etc.  This is really critical in math, because you need to be able to figure out which type of formula to apply to different problems.  Often in school, a student does fine on an individual section, but then fails the comprehensive test, because, now they have to select a given formula.  Another way to mix things up, is to study in different places, under different conditions, though if you can study in the room where you will take the test, that can benefit you for the test, but Not for the long run.    part of it boils down to, do you want to just pass the class, or do you really want to learn, do you want to challenge yourself.

I enjoyed this book a lot, and wish more of my professors had imparted this type of knowledge.

15. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Christian, Fiction, Sarah

The Family of Jesus by Karen Kingsbury, read by Sarah, on 09/13/2014

This book was amazing.  Karen Kingsbury brought the gospel story of Jesus Christ to life by telling it from the different viewpoints of the closest family members of Jesus.  She researched, studied, and tried to make it as true to the Bible as possible.  It opens with Joseph courting Mary from his viewpoint, and goes other close family members such as his uncle, Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, and his brother, James.  This was heart-moving even thought I knew how it would end!!  I highly recommend it.  I listened to it as a book on cd.

15. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Lug, Dawn of the Ice Age by David Zeltser , read by Angie, on 09/14/2014

Lug isn’t like the other caveboys in his village. He doesn’t care about headstone or getting the biggest jungle llama. He really likes spending time in his art cave and drawing pictures on the cave walls. He is also concerned about the fact that it is getting colder. He is banished from the village along with Stony, a boy more interested in his frog than anything else. He meets Echo, a girl from the rival village who wants him to help her with Wooly, a young mammoth. Wooly and Lug train to be the best headstone pair so they can get back in the village. Unfortunately, the cold has sent more than mammoths south. A group of saber-tooth tigers is also on the prowl and wants to take over the village’s caves. The two villages have to work together to survive.

This was a fun book, a bit silly perhaps, but with a nice message about accepting people’s differences and not having to conform. It was a bit different to read a book about cavepeople where they spoke in modern language for the most part. It makes it more relatable for young readers anyway. I thought the story was fine, but did think it was strange when the fantasy element of talking animals was introduced. I wish that element could have been left out, but with it in I wish it would have been used consistently. In the beginning Lug and Echo are special because they can understand animals, but by the end the animals are talking to everyone.

15. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance

Tender Deceit by H.Y. Hanna, read by Melody, on 09/14/2014

First love. Second chance. All they have to do is stay alive…
Following her father’s mysterious death in Singapore, Leah leaves her life in London and returns to the island that was her childhood home. Toran James may have been the boy her fourteen-year-old heart yearned for, but the enigmatic man she meets upon her return is nothing like her memory, and the past holds more secrets than she realised. Was her father’s death really an accident? Someone is out to silence Leah – and that someone might be the man she is rapidly falling in love with…again.

Fast-paced, action-packed romantic suspense filled with intrigue and sizzling tension – a perfect summer read!

15. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kim, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Senseless by Mary Burton , read by Kim, on 09/13/2014

Every Serial Killer Knows. . .

The vicious burns scarring the victims’ flesh reveal the agony of their last moments. Each woman was branded with a star, then stabbed through the heart. With every death, a vengeful killer finds a brief, blissful moment of calm. But soon it’s time for the bloodshed to start again. . .

The Perfect Time. . .

Ten years ago, Eva Rayburn and her sorority sisters were celebrating the end of the school year. That party turned into a nightmare Eva can’t forget. Now she’s trying to start over in her Virginia hometown, but a new nightmare has begun. Every victim is linked to her. And Detective Deacon Garrison isn’t sure whether this mysterious woman needs investigating–or protecting. . .

To Make His Mark

Only Eva’s death will bring peace. Only her tortured screams will silence the rage that has been building for ten long years. Because what started that night at the sorority can never be stopped–not until the last victim has been marked for death. . .

15. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal

Visions by Kelley Armstrong , read by Angie, on 09/14/2014

Book 2 of the Cainsville series. So in the first one Olivia finds out she is adopted and her real parents are the serial killers Todd and Pamela Larsen. She escapes Chicago and the media frenzy and hides away in Cainsville. There she hooks up with Pamela’s lawyer Gabriel Walsh and starts investigating the killings her parents are convicted of. Crazy things happen. Book 2 picks up after the events of book 1. Olivia and Gabriel have proven that Todd and Pamela didn’t kill one of the couples, but there are still three more to investigate. This book takes a bit of a break from the Larsen case and focuses more on other concerns, mainly what the heck is Cainsville.

Olivia finds a body in her car that mysteriously disappears before anyone else sees it. She then discovers the body’s head in her bed, which also disappears. Someone is clearly messing with her. Turns out the body belongs to a young who also has Cainsville connections. Olivia and Gabriel set out to figure out what those connections are and why someone is targeting Olivia. In the mean time, Olivia has tried to reconcile with former fiance James Morgan, but decided it wasn’t going to work out. He is not taking it well and will not leave her or Gabriel alone. Olivia has moved on to hot, young thing Ricky Gallagher, heir to the biker gang Satan’s Saints. They are hot and heavy whenever and wherever they can. Of course Gabriel doesn’t approve even though he and Olivia are not like that (anyone can see it is heading that way of course). Things get complicated as they figure out more about Cainsville’s secrets and what those secrets have to do with Olivia and Gabriel.

I like the fact that this series is not dragging out the mystery. We learned a lot about Cainsville in this book; definitely not all the secrets but enough to know a little about what is going on. I am a big fan of stories about the fae so this book is really up my alley. I like all the hints throughout which made me get online and look up the words in a Welsh dictionary so I could figure out what they heck they were talking about. It seems there are factions who want Olivia’s particular skill set of seeing omens and visions. Will she go with the elders of Cainsville or the sexy Wild Hunt or with the mysterious Tristan and his unknown faction? Can’t wait to see where this book goes.

13. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction · Tags: ,

Magic in the Mix by Annie Barrows, read by Angie, on 09/13/2014

Magic in the Mix is the sequel to The Magic Half. Miri and Molly have settled in the present were everyone believes they are the middle twins in the Gill family. Only Miri and Molly remember that Molly is originally from 1935 and was rescued by Miri. When their dad tears off the back porch of the house he opens another portal to the past, specifically 1918 where the girls again see the evil Flo and meet Molly’s mom Maudie. A broken window opens another door into the past this one to 1864 and the Civil War. The girls rescue a couple of Yankee prisoners from the evil Clark, but find out they are not the only ones who can time travel when their brother Roy and Robbie end up in 1864 as well. Of course they are dressed as Yankee soldiers since they were on their way to a Civil War reenactment. It is up to Miri and Molly to rescue the boys and get back to the present time.

This was another nice book by Annie Barrows. I found it interesting that the littlest changes to the house opened up portals to different times and different openings went different times. I liked that all the kids had to think on their feet and figure out how to get out of a dangerous situation. I wish there had been more parental presence in the book. The mom and dad are barely around and barely make an impression throughout. Not a very realistic or likely story but one I am sure kids will enjoy.

I received this book from Netgalley.com.

Somebody on this bus is going to be famous, but who? That is the story of this book. Almost all the action takes place on the bus which is interesting. There are three mysteries to solve. One: who is going to be famous? Two: who lives at the empty bus stop? Three: what happened during the class of 85 graduation? During the course of the school year we get to learn about the nine middle schoolers who are on the bus. Shelly wants to be a famous singer and is very self-centered. Miranda wants to be a writer and a good friend. Spencer is worried he isn’t the genius everyone thinks he is. Jay is worried about his Poppi who is suffering from dementia. Bender is good with numbers and wants to solve the mystery of the empty bus stop. Igor wants to discover more about his dad who is in prison. Kaitlynn becomes obsessed with helping people and starts a fundraiser on the bus to help a family in need. Matthew becomes interested in physics and wins the science fair. Alice is hiding who her family is and what their connection to the mystery of the class of 85. The bus driver Mrs. B also has secrets.

The book begins with the bus crash in May and then works its way through the school year. It is an interesting way to increase the drama as the reader wants to know how they get to the bus crash. This book reminded me a bit of Because of Mr. Terupt with the alternating student chapters. However, unlike Mr. Terupt there doesn’t seem to be a lot of character growth for the kids. For the most part they all end up the same as they started. I was hoping for a little bit more. I thought the story was interesting, but the ending left a lot to be desired. The mystery of who is going to be famous was almost a throw away that negated the rest of the story. It was like oh well we couldn’t think up a good ending so it turns out Mrs. B writes a book. Really? I wanted more details about the aftermath of the bus crash and what it did to the characters, but instead everything is wrapped up in about a page. The book was much better without that ending and could have been a lot better with a stronger one.