30. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis, 384 pages, read by Angie, on 01/29/2015

This is a companion book to Elijah of Buxton and takes place several years after the events of that book. Red and Benji are two boys who live around Buxton. Red is an Irish lad who lives with his father and grandmother. Father is a judge and grandmother is a irritable racist who hates pretty much everyone and everything. Benji is a black boy who wants to be a newspaper man. He writes headlines for the big events in his life and even gets an apprenticeship at a newspaper. The two independently meet the Madman of Piney Woods who is a hermit living in the woods. Benji and Red meet about half-way through the book and become friends despite the differences in their backgrounds.

It took me a long time to read this book. It was pretty slow going and I just didn’t find it that interesting. I wanted to like it more. I enjoyed Benji and Red, but found their just wasn’t enough going on in the book to keep me reading. For being the title of the book the Madman didn’t play nearly as big a role as I thought he would. I also wasn’t sure how this tied to Elijah of Buxton except the setting until the very end when Elijah was introduced again. There is a lot of good historical information in this book and as always Curtis’ writing is wonderful. I just wasn’t feeling this book however.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

30. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Harley Quinn: Night And Day by Karl Kesel, 192 pages, read by Brian, on 01/30/2015

quinnHarley, has a problem, she is fed up with crime and wants to switch sides.  The bat crusaders are none to happy with this idea and when Harley dons a batgirl cape, the world implodes.

 

30. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Mystery

Die Again by Tess Gerritsen, 352 pages, read by Jane, on 01/22/2015

Boston Detective Jane Rizzoli is on the case of a big game hunter found dead in his apartment, alone with a the body of a beautiful white snow leopard he had recently been commissioned to procure and stuff for a high-profile museum in the area. Medical examiner Maura Isles connects the case to a number of seemingly unrelated deaths where the victims have all been found hanging upside down, the hallmark of a leopard’s kill. Rizzoli follows the puzzling trail of clues all the way to Botswana, where she uncovers the unsolved mystery of a deadly camping safari four years prior. When she realizes the two cases are connected, Rizzoli must track down the sole survivor of the tragic trip to discover who – or what – is behind these gruesome deaths.

Description from Goodreads.com.

30. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Mystery

Hope to Die by James Patterson, 400 pages, read by Jane, on 01/15/2015

Detective Alex Cross is being stalked by a psychotic genius, forced to play the deadliest game of his career. Cross’s family – his loving wife Bree, the wise and lively Nana Mama, and his precious children–have been ripped away. Terrified and desperate, Cross must give this mad man what he wants if he has any chance of saving the most important people in his life. The stakes have never been higher: What will Cross sacrifice to save the ones he loves?

Description from Goodreads.com.

30. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Mystery

Private India: City on Fire by James Patterson, Ashwin Sanghi, 474 pages, read by Jane, on 01/08/2015

In Mumbai, seemingly unconnected people are dying, strangled in a chilling ritual and with strange objects carefully arranged with the corpses.

For Santosh Wagh, head of Private India, the Mumbai branch of the world’s finest investigation agency, it’s a race against time to stop the killer striking again.

In a city of over thirteen million, he’d have his work cut out at the best of times, but this case has him battling Mumbai’s biggest gang lord and a godman who isn’t all he seems.

And then he discovers there may be an even greater danger facing Private India. Hidden in the shadows is someone who could destroy the whole organisation – along with thousands of innocent Mumbai citizens…

Description from Goodreads.com.

30. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Mystery, Romance

Smoke Screen by Sandra Brown, 398 pages, read by Jane, on 01/01/2015

When newswoman Britt Shelley wakes up to find herself in bed with Jay Burgess, a rising star detective in the Charleston PD, she remembers nothing of how she got there…or of how Jay wound up dead.

Handsome and hard-partying, Jay was a hero of the disastrous fire that five years earlier had destroyed Charleston’s police headquarters. The blaze left seven people dead, but the death toll would have been much higher if not for the bravery of Jay and three other city officials who risked their lives to lead others to safety.

Firefighter Raley Gannon, Jay’s lifelong friend, was off-duty that day. Though he might not have been a front-line hero, he was assigned to lead the investigation into the cause of the fire. It was an investigation he never got to complete. Because on one calamitous night, Raley’s world was shattered.

Scandalized, wronged by the people he trusted most, Raley was forced to surrender the woman he loved and the work to which he’d dedicated his life. For five years his resentment against the men who exploited their hero status to further their careers — and ruin his — had festered, but he was helpless to set things right.

That changes when he learns of Jay Burgess’s shocking death and Britt Shelley’s claim that she has no memory of her night with him. As the investigation into Jay’s death intensifies, and suspicion against Britt Shelley mounts, Raley realizes that the newswoman, Jay’s last sexual conquest, might be his only chance to get personal vindication — and justice for the seven victims of the police station fire.

But there are powerful men who don’t want to address unanswered questions about the fire and who will go to any lengths to protect their reputations. As Raley and Britt discover more about what happened that fateful day, the more perilous their situation becomes, until they’re not only chasing after the truth but running for their lives.

Friends are exposed as foes, heroes take on the taint of criminals, and no one can be trusted completely. A tale about audacious corruption — and those with the courage to expose it — Smoke Screen is Sandra Brown’s most searing and intense novel yet.

Description from Goodreads.com

29. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody K, Romance

Beautiful disaster by Jamie McGuire, 319 pages, read by Melody, on 01/28/2015

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

Description from Goodreads.com

29. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction

The Last Wild by Piers Torday, 336 pages, read by Angie, on 01/28/2015

Oh how I hate a cliffhanger! Mainly because I don’t have the next book on hand to immediately start reading. I have wanted to read The Last Wild ever since I heard about it and it did not disappoint.

Kester is a boy who has been taken from his home and imprisoned in Spectrum Hall. He is unable to speak ever since his mom died several years ago. He hasn’t heard from his dad in the six years he has been in Spectrum Hall. Kester’s world is one in which there was a plague that destroyed all the animals and the food of the world. The people of the island where he lives are confined into four cities and the island is controlled by the powerful Factorium. One ordinary day in Spectrum Hall Kester discovers he can hear animals. First it is a cockroach and then pigeons. They break Kester out and take him to the last wild. There he meets the last stag and many other animals that have survived the plague. Unfortunately, they are in danger because the plague has reached the last wild. Their only hope is Kester and finding a cure. Kester sets off with the stag, cockroach, pigeons and a courageous wolf-pup to the city to find his father and a cure. Along the way he is joined by other animals and Polly, who has lived in the quarantine zone with her parents until they disappeared. They are chased by the evil henchmen of the Factorium who wants to destroy all animals no matter if they are sick or not. Kester has to find his courage and his voice in order to succeed.

It isn’t often that you read a book where the main character cannot talk. While Kester can talk to the animals, he is unable to communicate with the people he meets. This leads to some pretty interesting situations. As much as I liked Kester and Polly, it was really the animals who were the stars of this story. There is the only white pigeon who repeats everything the gray pigeons say only in a different order and often with completely different and hilarious meanings. There is the brave wolf-pup who is super courageous and let’s everyone know about his bravery. There is the cockroach named “General” who seems to sleep more than most put still claims to be the leader. There is the mouse who has a dance for every occasion. And finally the majestic stag who saves them time and again. The book is a mix of fantasy and dystopian and road novel mixed with coming of age. I loved every page of it!

29. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Brian, Fiction, Paranormal

Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones, 310 pages, read by Brian, on 01/29/2015

thirdThird Grave Dead Ahead is the third book in the Charley Davidson series.  Charley is a grim reaper and paranormal detective.  In this book Charley is helping Reyes Farrow, part human, the other part supernatural as he is Satan’s son.  Reyes has escaped from prison and he wants Charley to prove his innocence.  What could possibly go wrong?

29. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Eric, Fiction · Tags:

A Nest for Celeste by Henry Cole, 342 pages, read by Eric, on 01/27/2015

The year is 1821, and Celeste is a mouse living a harrowing life at Oakley Plantation in Louisiana. John James Audubon is staying at the home, as well, using it as a base and studio as he hunts and poses birds for his life study paintings. Accompanying the artist is a teenage helper, Joseph. He also is a budding artist, but one with a far gentler approach. Celeste’s growing friendship with the boy provides her with opportunities to explore the world around the plantation, and the chance to meet other animals living there.

Celeste is a gentle, loving protagonist with a skill for weaving baskets. Her  adventures are quite short, but seem just about right for the intended middle reader audience. The novel is heavily illustrated with beautiful pencil sketches by the author, and combine well with the narrative. Audubon’s flawed methods are shown for what they are, yet Cole doesn’t diminish the importance of the works of art to the study of birds. Enjoyable.

rescue artist On the morning of the 1994 Olympics in Norway, two thieves entered the National Gallery in Oslo. They stole one of the world’s most famous paintings, Edward Munch’s The Scream. Humiliated the Norwegian police called on Scotland Yard and one of their art detectives, Charley Hill.

Charley Hill is a half-British, half-American policeman who was currently working undercover in the small art team of Scotland Yard. He has since become and independent detective recovering art and other national treasures.

In this narrative Edward Dolnick takes us inside the art underworld. Briefly discussing some well-known cases in the past and leading up to more current crimes which now often involved crimes of opportunity and organized crime members. He follows Charley along on his search for The Scream sharing the successes and failures of other police inquiries along the way as well.

28. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kira, Mystery, Paranormal

Cast-Off Coven by Juliet Blackwell, 336 pages, read by Kira, on 01/27/2015

WM2The second in the Witchcraft Mystery series.  I’m Not sure how the titles relates to the story.  Lily is helping to investigate a haunting at the Art College her employee Maya attends.  A big donor gets murdered the night they go to investigate.  Did the ghost kill the rich man? or was it the ghost?  This was a good tale, I was unable to guess the killer.  I enjoyed the story and getting to know a bit more of the main characters backstory (how Max’s wife
died).

28. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

Over my Dead Body by Kate Klise, 116 pages, read by Kira, on 01/15/2015

klise dead This is the sequel to Dying to Meet You.  An evil idiot, Dick Tater, throws Seymour into an orphanage, I.B.Grumpy into an insane asylum, when he finds that Seymour is being raised without his parents, and that I. B. Grumpy believes in ghosts.  He also bans Halloween and has people burn books about ghosts.  Maybe, the initial charm has worn off a bit.  I liked th
is 2nd book, but Not as much as the first.

27. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction

The End of the Line by Sharon McKay, 119 pages, read by Angie, on 01/27/2015

Beatrix is left on a tram in Amsterdam when her mother is pulled off by the Nazis. She is taken in by older brothers Hans and Lars who operate the tram. They claim she is their niece and take her into their home. Together with their elderly neighbor Mrs. Vos they risk their lives to protect the little girl. Another neighbor Lieve helps teach Beatrix catechism so she can pass as Catholic. Hans and Lars do their best to make Beatrix a part of their family and love her dearly. The new family survives the deprivations and starvation of the war until they are finally liberated.

There is something about holocaust stories that always tug at my heart. This is a wonderful little story about two brothers who saved a young girl. I loved the humor of the two old bachelors trying to figure out how to handle having a little girl in their midst. Mrs. Vos was an awesome character as well, full of take-charge attitude and good sense. This book would serve as a good introduction to the deprivations suffered during war. The horrible things that happened are hinted at but not explicitly shown. War is horrible and that comes through loud and clear without a lot of terrible details that might scare young readers.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

27. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Horror

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier, 350 pages, read by Angie, on 01/26/2015

Molly and Kip are headed to their deaths. At least that is what everyone keeps telling them. They have taken a job at the Windsor estate in the “sour woods”. It is a place the locals refuse to enter and has a bad history. But Molly and Kip are desperate. They had to flee Ireland because of the potato famine and their parents are no longer with them. They are not prepared for what the find at Windsor. It is an island with a big creepy house with a dark tree growing beside and into it. The Windsor family looks worn down and everything in the house has a sickly air about it. Soon they discover the reason. The mysterious Night Gardener, who cares for the tree, enters the house every night and visits the sleepers. He collects their nightmares to feed to the tree. It also turns out the tree has the power to grant your heart’s desire. The payment is only a little bit of your soul. Molly soon becomes bound to the tree as much as the Windsors. Her heart’s desire? Letters from her parents. Seems Molly hasn’t told Kip the truth about what happened to them and doesn’t want to accept the truth herself. She has been making up stories about their travels and the letters help her continue the deception. Before too long they realize that more than their health and souls are in danger from the Night Gardener. It seems he eventually needs more to feed the tree. They have to find a way to escape his clutches and perhaps save the Windsor family too.

This book was super creepy. So creepy I wanted to turn away from it at times, but really couldn’t put it down. I love the concept of the Night Gardener who collects the sweat of your nightmares to water the tree that gives you your heart’s desire. The question of whether what you wish for is really what you need is an interesting one and plays out so very well. I also loved the whole bit about the difference between stories and lies. Molly is a wonderful storyteller and the kids meet the local storyteller Hester on their travels to the estate. The conclusion they come to is that stories give you the courage to face things whereas lies help you hide from them. There is so much to love about this book and I can’t recommend it more. I loved it!

27. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, 343 pages, read by Lisa, on 01/26/2015

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel.

I thought it was incredible. I highly recommend it.

27. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Fiction, Judy, Thriller/Suspense

Soul Murder by Daniel Blake , 552 pages, read by Judy, on 01/23/2015

When Pittsburgh homicide detective, Franco Patrese, and his partner, Mark Beradino, are called to a domestic dispute at the lawless Homewood estate, events quickly spiral out of control.  With two dead, Patrese believes he’s got his killer – but things aren’t always what they seem.

On the other side of town, the charred body of Michael Redwine, a renowned brain surgeon, is found in one of the city’s most luxurious apartment blocks.     Then a Catholic bishop is set alight in his cathedral’s confessional.  But they are just the first in a series of increasingly shocking murders.

Patrese’s investigation uncovers high-class prostitution, medical scams and religious obsession, but what Patrese doesn’t realize is how close to the case he really is – and how it will take a terrible betrayal to uncover the truth.

26. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Fiction, Humor, Kira · Tags:

Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art by Christopher Moore, 403 pages, read by Kira, on 01/23/2015

sacbindexsacre_bleu Does it really make sense that Vincent Van Goph shot himself in a wheatfield, then walked miles to see a doctor?  Christopher Moore takes this as the starting place for a mystery and a madcap romp with Impressionist  Great Master painters in Paris.  To accompany Henri Toulouse Lautrec, he creates the baker/painter Lucien Lessard who try to unravel the mystery of the Ultramarine paint supplied by the menacing “colorman”.   Beware woadfin5aHadrians_Wall_03there is a fair amo7330lascaux1unt of bawdy humor.  asacbindexVincent_van_Gogh_(1853-1890)_-_Wheat_Field_with_Crows_(1890)study___the_laundress_by_henri_de_toulouse_lautrec_by_iyasha-d6qjoal I was really impressed by Moore’s ability to tie disparate historical events like the disappearance of the 9th Roman Legion and the discovery of Lascaux-type caves.  A very enjoyable read, that gave me some exposure to famous impressionist painters and made me curious about how paints are/were made.

26. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Mystery, Teen Books · Tags:

There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake, 464 pages, read by Angie, on 01/24/2015

Shelby Cooper tells us from the beginning what is going to happen to her. We know she will get hit by a car. What we don’t know is why or what will happen as a result. She gets hit by a car because she is deaf and did not hear it coming. What happens is that she and her mom go on the run and are chased by the FBI across Arizona. There is also a whole thing where Shelby has waking dreams where she is in “The Dreaming”, a Native American type spirit walk where she has to kill the crone and save the child. She has a spirit guide in Coyote, who also happens to be the cute boy Mark she meets at the library. The dreaming helps her come to terms with her life in the real world.

I am not sure what I think about this book. Part of me was really frustrated with the whole dreaming bits and how they kept pulling me out of the story. The other part of me really kind of enjoyed the real bits of the story. While I might not have liked Shelby as a character, she is sarcastic and rude and has definite body image problems. I did like the path her story took. I never knew what was coming next in this crazy ride Nick Lake created. I know his big thing is dual storylines (In Darkness), but I don’t think it was really necessary in this case. I didn’t believe the dreaming like I thought I was intended to and I just wanted those parts to end so we could get back to the real story. It was a compelling read however and I really couldn’t put it down.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

26. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Dragons at Crumbling Castle: And Other Tales by Terry Pratchett, 352 pages, read by Angie, on 01/23/2015

Dragons at Crumbling Castle is a collection of short stories from Terry Pratchett’s youth. In them you can see the beginnings of Pratchett’s signature snarky style and irreverent humor. These fourteen tales are fun and funny and slightly silly. Fans of Pratchett will certainly enjoy this peak into his early work.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.