24. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Award Winner, Brian, Fiction, Science Fiction

Ready Player One by Ernist Cline, 390 pages, read by brian, on 04/23/2015

I read the book, Ready Player One, liked it.  A friend suggested listening to Wil Wheaton read to book and I love the book even more than I thought I could.  Wheaton has a knack of reading something and making it sound better and he is very good at knocking himself when the book calls for it.  If you like puzzles with references to other decades and especially classic video games, this is the book for you.

ready

23. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Fiction, Mystery, Paula, Thriller/Suspense

Dark Rooms by Lili Anolik, 323 pages, read by Paula, on 04/22/2015

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The Secret History meets Sharp Objects in this stunning debut about murder and glamour set in the ambiguous and claustrophobic world of an exclusive New England prep school.

Death sets the plot in motion: the murder of Nica Baker, beautiful, wild, enigmatic, and only sixteen. The crime is solved, and quickly–a lonely classmate, unrequited love, a suicide note confession–but memory and instinct won’t allow Nica’s older sister, Grace, to accept the case as closed.

Dropping out of college and living at home, working at the moneyed and progressive private high school in Hartford, Connecticut, from which she recently graduated, Grace becomes increasingly obsessed with identifying and punishing the real killer.

Compulsively readable, Lili Anolik’s debut novel combines the verbal dexterity of Marisha Pessl’s Special Topic in Calamity Physics and the haunting atmospherics and hairpin plot twists of Megan Abbott’s Dare Me.

 

23. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Apocalyptic, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books

Loki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr., 358 pages, read by KIRA, on 04/22/2015

loki's wLokithor swing  220154-apocalyptic-and-post-apocalyptic-fiction-ragnark ragnrtMatt Thorson discovers that Not only is he (as well as his family) descended from Thor, but that he is the designated or chosen Champion for the coming Ragnarok.  He needs to enlist the help of the local punk Fenn whom he has disliked from childhood.  I really enjoyed the storyline.  I’d think it would be headed off in one direction, and be delighted when it would take a different tack.  I enjoyed the way the relationships changed for the characters.

22. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Dystopia, Eric, Fantasy, Fiction

The Unwanteds: Island of Fire by Lisa McMann, 451 pages, read by Eric, on 04/17/2015

The magic of Artime is gone, and the surviving students and faculty are looking to Alex Stowe for answers and hope. He must find a way to restore what has been lost, including Lani and Samheed, who have been imprisoned on Warbler Island.

This is the third adventure in the Unwanteds series, and quite possibly my favorite so far. While I’m not sure why the far more experienced teachers would rely so heavily on a leader in his early teens, the intended readership most likely welcomes the empowerment of someone their age. Including other islands and societies provides welcome mystery, adventure, and danger to the story. Experience brings changes to budding love, which also is handled well. As with the second novel, the story ends right when it most needs to continue, which I would find frustrating if I hadn’t already grabbed the next two books. Bring ‘em on.

22. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Award Winner, Brian, Fiction, Science Fiction

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, 371 pages, read by Brian, on 04/15/2015

Ready Player One is has won many awards:  Year 2044 and the world pretty much sucked and many of the younger people live in the virtual world, theOasis,  Wade Watts is one of those who spent his days in a virtual world.  When a wealthy computer programmer dies, he leaves his wealth and power to those who can solve his puzzle.  A puzzle filled with clues from past decades, especially the 1980’s.

ready
21. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Paranormal, Teen Books

The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen, 144 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/30/2015

The world of The Wicked + The Divine is one where every 90 years, 12 gods and goddesses are reincarnated. The become pop stars, beloved and reviled by the public. Their godhood bestows them with unusual powers. It sounds like a great gig, but there’s a major catch: they will die within two years. This particular iteration of reincarnation is not going well for Luci, the incarnation of Lucifer. She finds herself being framed for murder and the culprit can only be one of the Pantheon. Laura, a fan girl, takes it upon herself to find who just who is behind Luci’s incarceration.
This is both an intriguing concept and a beautiful comic. Well paced and plotted, with gorgeous, full-color artwork – there’s little not to like. This is the first trade volume, so there are quite a few characters whose motivations and personalities are vague, but I fully expect subsequent volumes to round them out.

21. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books

The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith, 336 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/29/2015

Ariel’s first life was lived somewhere in the Middle East. He had the distinction of being the only survivor in his village when the rebel forces clashed with the military. His path leads him first to a refugee camp and later to a foster home in America. Ariel’s new life is with a family in Sunday, West Virginia. His new father works for a large biotech firm and had found a way of bringing animals back from extinction as evidenced by the family pet: a bionic crow suffering from severe depression named Alex. Ariel and his new brother Max are sent off to a summer camp run by the company their father works for. It probably wouldn’t be so bad if the camp was a normal one. Instead it is a camp designed for technology-addicted teenaged boys, an affliction that affects neither Ariel nor Max. Needless to say, the camp is less than idyllic.
In the meantime, a man named Leonard is slowly making his way across America in a beat-up U-Haul. Leonard suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and consequently finds himself doing the bidding of a voice belonging to Joseph Stalin (his more destructive urges are kept more or less in check by another voice known only as 3-60). Leonard has also managed to get his hands on some nuclear material and has constructed a bomb, which rides cross-country with him in the back of the van. Since being around unstable nuclear material isn’t particularly good for one’s health, Leonard is, quite literally, falling apart.
In between these two narratives are the journals from an ill-fated 19th century Arctic excursion aboard the ship Alex Crow. They tried to find passage through the North before becoming trapped by ice. It doesn’t go well.
All three of these seemingly disparate narratives manage to fit together in Andrew Smith’s newest novel, which, in all honesty, is not the least bit surprising after reading last year’s excellent and unusual Grasshopper Jungle. Not only is this one completely unpredictable, it’s utterly hilarious. It easily captures the tone and character of teenage boys, for better and for worse. The writing is reminiscent of one of my all-time favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut, which only makes it better in my opinion. My only criticism is that the biotech angle is so similar to that in Grasshopper Jungle that it feels almost derivative. The stakes here aren’t quite as grave in this one either. Still, plenty of food for thought and a thoroughly engaging read.

21. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Fantasy, Graphic Novel

Rat Queens, Volume One: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis Wiebe, 128 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/24/2015

In the post-apocalyptic fantasy world of Rat Queens, there are plenty of mercenaries, but none more easily identifiable or notorious than the Rat Queens. The Rat Queens consist of four very distinct ladies, each with her own enviable talents. They’re strong, smart and snarky. They’re also fond of liquor, swearing and fighting, which makes for a very entertaining comic.
The story is hilarious and the girls are indeed awesome. I wish that there had been a bit more plot development, but I’m willing to overlook it for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being the characters themselves. The artwork is certainly eye-catching with bright colors and a distinctive style. My only real criticism here is the costuming of the Queens. Seriously, strapless corsets? Low-cut armor? Talk about impractical. There’s only one character who even remotely looks like she’d be ready and able to fight, the rest look like they’re on the way to a cosplay convention. In other words, I seriously doubt they’d have been portrayed this way if it were a woman writing/illustrating. That being said, the rest of the comic was awesome enough for me to find a place in my heart for it and I eagerly await Volume 2.

21. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction · Tags:

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann, 390 pages, read by Angie, on 04/06/2015

Quill prevails when the strong survive is the motto of the isolated island of Quill. Children are taught that anything artistic and creative is seen as unacceptable, and only those that conform to the rules of Quill are allowed to survive and succeed. When children reach the age of thirteen they participate in The Purge and are sorted into three groups – Wanteds (who will go on to study at Quill’s university and become members of government), Necessaries (who will do the menial labor), and Unwanteds. The Unwanteds are immediately loaded on a transport and sent to the Great Lake of Boiling Oil to be killed, so they will no longer a blight on Quill’s perfect society. Alex has always known that he will be deemed an Unwanted, but he is still shocked and terrified when he hears his name called during the Purge. Meanwhile, his twin brother, Aaron, has surpassed their Necessary parents and has become a Wanted. Alex steels himself for his fate and with the rest of the Unwanteds leaves Quill forever and faces imminent death.

Except Alex doesn’t die. When they reach the Great Lake of Boiling Oil, the horrifying landscape melts away to reveal a luscious paradise where emotions and artistic abilities are honored and magic is part of the way of life. Alex and his new friends discover that Unwanteds have not been killed as everyone in Quill believes, but have taken refuge in Artimé under the protection of Mr. Marcus Today. Mr. Today is a powerful mage that has been defying High Priest Justine, the leader of Quill, for years. As Alex grows in his skills as an artist in Artimé, becoming a powerful mage in his own right, he cannot shake the feeling of longing he has for his beloved twin brother Aaron, and he vows to find a way to save him and bring him to Artimé. But to do so puts all the Unwanteds and Artimé itself at terrible risk – because if Aaron refuses to come with his twin, Quill and its mighty Quillitary will come to destroy the safe haven that Mr. Today has built.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the ones that follow it in the series. However, I did have a few issues with the world itself. As with any dystopian novel, I want the world to make sense and this world just didn’t at times. For one thing, Quill has fallen into disrepair and segregation within 50 years. The world is crumbling around them, yet the citizens of Quill have become emotionless automatons obeying every doctrine delivered by High Priest Justine. They are so indoctrinated that they see nothing wrong with sending their children off to die. Quill is a desolate wasteland falling into disrepair and Artimé is a land of plenty filled with magic and magical creatures. How do these two worlds exist side by side on a small island? Sure it’s magic, but I wanted a bit more explanation than that. That being said I really enjoyed the story. I love the characters and I enjoyed the magic of Artimé. I enjoyed the creativity of the magic and loved that that the magic spells are those created from the arts: deadly rhyming couplets, invisible paintbrushes, origami dragons, etc. I also really liked that the kids in Artimé were real kids with real emotions and problems. Alex truly loves his brother and wants to be with him despite the obstacles in his way. In order to accomplish that he makes mistakes and alienates his friends. The other kids are equally flawed and perfect as are some of the adults. The Unwanteds is a magical ride that will leave readers wanting to immediately start the next book and the next.

Lisa McMann will be speaking at Missouri River Regional Library on Wednesday, April 22nd at 7 pm.

 

 

18. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction

The Amazing Wilmer Dooley: A Mumpley Middle School Mystery by Fowler DeWitt, 256 pages, read by Angie, on 04/16/2015

Wilmer is extremely excited to go to the science fair weekend with his friend Ernie and his crush Roxie. He has a whole experiment planned on bacteria. Once he gets there his excitement dims. His rival Claudia his there with his cousin Vlad and Mrs. Padgett, his biology teacher who hates him, is a judge. The hotel where the science fair is being held is in the middle of nowhere and falling apart and there are these strange announcements all the time over the loudspeaker. Wilmer begins to suspect something is going on and has to figure it out before all the kids turn into zombies.

I am sure this book will find fans with younger readers. However, I thought it was pretty terrible. The story was impossible and the characters were terribly unlikable. It was really hard to get through and I almost gave up on it. Definitely not my favorite.

18. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kim K, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Someone Like Her by Sandra Owens, 293 pages, read by Kim K, on 04/17/2015

Known to the K2 Special Services team as Romeo, ex-Navy SEAL Jake Buchanan may spend his downtime living up to his nickname, but there’s one woman who sets his heart racing like no one else can: Maria Kincaid. Unfortunately, his boss – her brother – has made it crystal clear that she’s off-limits. Jake doesn’t do commitment, while Maria is the type of woman who deserves a promise of forever. Yet Maria finds herself drawn to Jake, the man who stares at her with a desire she wishes he’d act on.

Still haunted by her horrific childhood, Maria goes searching for the father she’s never met and stumbles into a nightmarish experience. With her life in grave danger, she reaches out to Jake, her brother’s second-in-command. Jake figures he can help Maria without giving in to temptation. But some things are easier said than done.

–from Goodreads.com.

18. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody K, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

For you by Kristen Ashley, 583 pages, read by Melody, on 04/17/2015

Lieutenant Alexander Colton and February Owens were high school sweethearts. Everyone in their small town knew from the moment they met they were meant for each other. But something happened and Feb broke Colt’s heart then she turned wild and tragedy struck. Colt meted out revenge against the man who brought Feb low but even though Colt risked it all for her, Feb turned her back on him and left town.

Fifteen years later, Feb comes back to help run the family bar. But there’s so much water under the bridge separating her and Colt everyone knows they’ll never get back together.

Until someone starts hacking up people in Feb’s life. Colt is still Colt and Feb is still Feb so the town watches as Colt goes all out to find the murderer while trying to keep Feb safe.

As the bodies pile up, The Feds move in and a twisting, turning story unravels exposing a very sick man who has claimed numerous victims along the way, Feb and Colt battle their enduring attraction and the beautiful but lost history that weaves them together.

–From Goodreads.com.

17. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Graphic Novel, Tammy · Tags: ,

Queen and Country, Vol. 1: Broken Ground by Greg Rucka, 362 pages, read by Tammy, on 04/13/2015

queen and country An adult graphic novel that places the reader inside a special section of British Ministry of Intelligence. Tara Chace is the main character you follow but the reader is also with the leaders of her division. She is a special agent called in to clean up a mess or sometimes create a new one. Morals and the greater good are defined by governmental goals and trading with other countries rather than asking is killing right or wrong. Now she has to deal with the consequences of her assignments in a very personal way. 

17. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, 213 pages, read by Tammy, on 04/16/2015

perks A moving and deeply touching teen novel. Charlie shares his thoughts and feelings with us through diary style writing as he experiences his freshman year of high school. Charlie is a sensitive, naive teen who is unsure how to join in. His English teacher encourages him to get more involved and to work on his writing. With the teacher’s encouragement he makes friends with a couple of seniors and now has a social life. He feels emotions deeply and often internalizes what happens around him including the death of his aunt when he was a child in a car accident. He holds himself responsible. This book does deal with other realities of teen experience including drugs and sex. One of the main characters is also a homosexual but the book presents his story as Charlie’s friend. His being gay is simply part of who he is. None of the topics brought up in the story are treated as taboo, but rather the reader experiences Charlies thoughts and feelings about them and the lessons he learns whether happy or painful ones.

17. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Mariah

The Unwanteds: Island of Fire by Lisa McMann, 464 pages, read by Mariah, on 04/13/2015

In book three of this series, the magical world of Artime is gone. It disappeared when its leader, Mr. Today, was killed by Quillians. The Quillians would like to keep Artime destroyed and the Unwanteds enslaved or dead. The book follows several different plot lines. Alex, the new leader of Artime, must somehow figure out how to bring Artime back. The Unwanted who have not deserted to become Quillian slaves (at least they’ll get food and water!), are slowly losing hope. Alex is also struggling with the guilt over his friends who were captured by the Warblerians and have not been rescued yet. However, there is no way to do that until he can reconstruct Artime and bring back the magic. There’s a tension that is continuing to build between him and his twin brother that must eventually clash and be resolved, for better or worse.

McMann finishes some plots arcs, develops others, and starts a few brand new ones that leave some fine cliff-hangers. It’s a fun series. Though the plots involve death and kidnapping, the book keeps everything light enough to be kid-friendly. If you’ve enjoyed the first two books in the series, you’re bound to enjoy this one also. If you have not read the first books, I would suggest reading them first. I’m reading it with my 9 year-old son who has already read the series, but loved it so much he wanted to read it again together.

17. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa

I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits, 302 pages, read by Lisa, on 04/15/2015

Sweeping from the Central European countryside just before World War II to Paris to contemporary Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I Am Forbiddenbrings to life four generations of one Satmar family.

Opening in 1939 Transylvania, five-year-old Josef witnesses the murder of his family by the Romanian Iron Guard and is rescued by a Gentile maid to be raised as her own son. Five years later, Josef rescues a young girl, Mila, after her parents are killed while running to meet the Rebbe they hoped would save them. Josef helps Mila reach Zalman Stern, a leader in the Satmar community, in whose home Mila is raised as a sister to Zalman’s daughter, Atara. As the two girls mature, Mila’s faith intensifies, while her beloved sister Atara discovers a world of books and learning that she cannot ignore. With the rise of communism in central Europe, the family moves to Paris, to the Marais, where Zalman tries to raise his children apart from the city in which they live.

When the two  girls come of age, Mila marries within the faith, while Atara continues to question fundamentalist doctrine. The different choices the two sisters makes force them apart until a dangerous secret threatens to banish them from the only community they’ve ever known.

A beautifully crafted, emotionally gripping story of what happens when unwavering love, unyielding law, and centuries of tradition collide, I Am Forbidden announces the arrival of an extraordinarily gifted new voice and opens a startling window on a world long closed to most of us, until now.

from Goodreads.com.

16. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

When I'm Gone by Abbi Glines, 273 pages, read by Jessica, on 04/15/2015

81qwwkd9gwL._SL1500_I had an urge to fix all her problems. Which was stupid. She was doing fine without me. But something about those big eyes…

Mase Colt-Manning has always preferred his humble life as a Texas rancher to his birthright as the son of a legendary rock star. In fact, he rarely visits his father’s rarefied world in Rosemary Beach, especially if it means bunking at his vile half-sister Nan’s house—until one visit leads to a chance encounter with a young, gorgeous house maid who awakens him with her off-key but spirited imitation of a country music star…

Reese Ellis finally has her freedom. After escaping a lifetime of abuse from her parents and classmates for an undiagnosed learning disorder, she seizes the opportunity to be a house maid to some of the richest families in Rosemary Beach. But her job is in jeopardy when she causes an accident at the home of her most important client, Nan Dillon. When a hot, half-naked stranger with a cowboy’s swagger comes to her rescue, she’s intrigued—then afraid once he shows his own interest. Reese has never met a trustworthy man in her life. Will Mase be any different?

15. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Children's Books, Drama, Fiction, Mariah, Mystery

The Danger Box by Blue Balliett, 306 pages, read by Mariah, on 04/13/2015

Blue Balliett’s Danger Box explores the topic of evolution while investigating crime in a small town. Zoomy and his new friend, Lorrel, have a lot of”firsts” this summer. Zoomy makes his first friend. Lorrel starts her first gig as investigative reporting. Together they research an old notebook that has dropped into Zoomy’s life. It soon becomes clear the notebook has something to do with explorer and scientist, Charles Darwin. Excited, the children both start researching Darwin and decide they want to share their newly learned information with the rest of the town. They secretly write and print copies of a newsletter describing Darwin, but not revealing who he is. The town enjoys finding the papers stuffed into books at the library or sitting on benches around town. Hardship hits Zoomy’s life when his grandparents, who are also his guardians, lose their family business in an unexplained fire. Zoomy and Lorrel turn to their mysterious notebook as a source of comfort. It becomes clear that the notebook actually belonged to Charles Darwin and was one of many he kept notes in. There are a few other small mysteries taking place at the same time to add a little more to the plot.

Mostly, this book seems to be an introductory biography of Charles Darwin. Having read Balliett’s work before, I was expecting more. This book seemed fare more simplistic than Chasing Vermeer, but perhaps it was intended for a younger audience. I read it with my nine-year-old son and he was kept focused and interested throughout the book.

15. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Drama, Fiction, Mariah

Whatever Happened to Janie? by Caroline B. Cooney, 199 pages, read by Mariah, on 04/12/2015

This was a very odd book. It opens to a teenage girl packing up and getting ready to move across state lines to live with her biological parents. She is in a state of shock and sadness. The story reveals why this is happening in the form of memories and reflections as the teenage girl is getting used to her new family. The girls name is either Janie or Jennie depending on which family she is in. It turns out, Janie was kidnapped as a toddler and brought up by a family that had no idea she had been kidnapped. It was only when Janie saw her face on a milk carton thirteen years later that she realized she was a missing child. How is this possible? This is where they story dates itself and becomes rather strange. It turns out little Janie was kidnapped by a cult member probably to fulfill some bizarre cult requirement. However, Hannah, the cult member, must have had second thoughts or cold feet. She ends up bringing the child to her estranged parents and telling them a wild tale about how the child is hers, but she wants them to raise her. Then she disappears the next morning. Janie grows up with wonderful parents and a exciting, fulfilling life. Now she must move back to her true home and live among her real family who are, of course, strangers to her.

The issues regarding cults are hard to connect with. The book was written in 1993, and at that time cult fear was probably alive and thriving in America. A more timely device would make the story more relevant.. It does not leave it just as a plot device, though. The book explores the mindset of a person who joins a cult, self-esteem issues, and repercussions. Trying to cover both the emotional aspects of what Janie is going through and how cults work and effect people stretches the book too thin. It ends up covering nether issue satisfactorily. It also seems strange to label it as a child’s mystery novel, which is were I found it. It was not badly written, it just struck one odd chord after another.

15. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Paranormal

Undead Pool by Kim Harrison, 423 pages, read by Brian, on 04/12/2015

poolRachel Morgan, a Day-walking demon just saved the World and did I mention she is a witch too? But saving the world came with a price and now Ohio is being hit by some pretty nasty magic which causes spells to go wrong and the stress between the humans and nonhumans is boiling over.