03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Lisa

I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora, read by Lisa, on 06/30/2014

When Lucy, Elena, and Michael receive their summer reading list, they are excited to see To Kill A Mockingbird included. But not everyone in their class shares the same enthusiasm. So they hatch a plot to get the entire town talking about the well-known Harper Lee classic. They plan controversial ways to get people to read the book, including re-shelving copies of the book in bookstores so that people think they are missing and starting a website committed to “destroying the mockingbird.” Their efforts are successful when all of the hullabaloo starts to direct more people to the book. But soon, their exploits start to spin out of control and they unwittingly start a mini revolution in the name of books.

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Lisa

Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin, read by Lisa, on 06/25/2014

Fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson wants a home, food on the table, and a high school he can attend for more than part of a year. But as the son of a single father working in warehouses across the Pacific Northwest, Charley’s been pretty much on his own. When tragic events leave him homeless weeks after their move to Portland, Oregon, Charley seeks refuge in the tack room of a run-down horse track. Charley’s only comforts are his friendship with a failing racehorse named Lean on Pete and a photograph of his only known relative. In an increasingly desperate circumstance, Charley will head east, hoping to find his aunt who had once lived a thousand miles away in Wyoming — but the journey to find her will be a perilous one.

In Vlautin’s third novel, Lean on Pete, he reveals the lives and choices of American youth like Charley Thompson who were failed by those meant to protect them and who were never allowed the chance to just be a kid.

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Kristy

Drama by Raina Telgemeier, read by Kristy, on 06/20/2014

PLACES, EVERYONE!

Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she can’t really sing. Instead she’s the set designer for the drama department stage crew, and this year she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen. And when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Kristy

Smile by Raina Telgemeier, read by Kristy, on 06/15/2014

From the artist of BSC Graphix comes this humorous coming-of-age true story about the dental drama that ensues after a trip-and-fall mishap.

Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Kristy, Teen Books

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, read by Kristy, on 06/01/2014

Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country.

30. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Madeline

Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin, read by Madeline, on 06/18/2014

Fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson wants a home, food on the table, and a high school he can attend for more than part of a year. But as the son of a single father working in warehouses across the Pacific Northwest, Charley’s been pretty much on his own. When tragic events leave him homeless weeks after their move to Portland, Oregon, Charley seeks refuge in the tack room of a run-down horse track. Charley’s only comforts are his friendship with a failing racehorse named Lean on Pete and a photograph of his only known relative. In an increasingly desperate circumstance, Charley will head east, hoping to find his aunt who had once lived a thousand miles away in Wyoming — but the journey to find her will be a perilous one.

In Vlautin’s third novel, Lean on Pete, he reveals the lives and choices of American youth like Charley Thompson who were failed by those meant to protect them and who were never allowed the chance to just be a kid.

29. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Romance, Teen Books

The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel, read by Angie, on 06/28/2014

Becca Williamson is a singleton in a high school full of couples. She was dumped by her best friend when Huxley entered coupledom and now her new best friend Val wants nothing more than to be part of a couple. Becca’s sister was dumped on her wedding day and has entered a state of depressed hibernation. Becca fights against the world of couples by taking on the role of The Break-Up Artist. Through an anonymous persona online she will break up a couple if she is paid and she has a very high success rate. Her skills are challenged however when she is hired to break up Huxley and Steve, the golden couple of Ashland High. Things get even more complicated when she starts having feelings for Val’s new BF Ezra. Becca just might be in trouble herself on this one.

I had mixed feelings about this book. I thought the premise was interesting, but I found the story a bit unbelievable. I also thought it was exactly how a man would see teenage girls, knowing nothing about how they think or act or what their lives are like. Every single girl in this book wanted nothing more than to be with a boy. If you didn’t have a boy you were a social outcast. Once you had a boy you moved up the social ladder depending on who the boy was. It is seriously degrading to girls to think this has anything to do with reality. Sure some girls are boy crazy and obsessed with being in a couple, but not all girls and certainly not an entire high school of them. I also thought it was terrible the way Becca was portrayed. Sure she ends up fine in the end, but really the majority of the book she comes off as a bitter, jealous girl who isn’t a couple and can’t stand it. She even makes out with her best friend’s boy friend and thinks its ok. Maybe my feelings aren’t as mixed as I thought. I think this could have been a vastly different book if it had been written by a woman who had actually experienced life as a teenage girl. 

I got a copy of this book from Netgalley.

27. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Skies Like These by Tess Hilmo, read by Angie, on 06/26/2014

Jade is spending her summer in Wyoming with her aunt Elise who she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl. She meets Roy Parker who styles himself as a true cowboy and a descendant of Butch Cassidy (real name Roy Parker). Roy’s family is going through some hard times since his father had to close his hardware store. Roy blames Kip Farley for all the troubles because he built a giant franchise store not far from the Parker’s store. Roy devises all kinds of schemes to get back at Farley; everything from fish heads hidden throughout the store to planning to sell his stuff on ebay to robbing the local bank (Roy only actually does the fish). Jade wants to be supportive of Roy, but isn’t comfortable breaking the law. All Jade’s previous summers have been quite, but this one is full of adventure and fun. 

I thought this was an excellent book about family and adventure and finding yourself. Both Jade and Roy go through transformations during their summer together. Jade loosens up a bit and learns that real adventure can be a lot of fun. Roy has to come to terms with his family situation and his heritage. The bonus with the book is that you also learn a lot about Butch Cassidy and star gazing. I think there is something for everyone here. 

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

24. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Teen Books · Tags:

Burning Blue by Paul Griffin, read by Angie, on 06/23/2014

Nicole Castro is a pretty, popular girl who seems to have it all. She is athletic, has a perfect boyfriend, has won a beauty contest, is smart. This all changes when someone throws acid in her face scarring her and ruining her perfect beauty. Nicole doesn’t see who throws the acid and seems to retreat into her home with her mom as her only companion. Jay Nazarro is coming back to school after a humiliating experience. Jay suffers from seizures and had a horrible one during a school assembly. Jay is super smart and a skilled hacker, but a bit of a loner and definitely from the poor side of town. Jay and Nicole meet in the counselor’s office and Jay becomes obsessed with figuring out who threw the acid. The police don’t seem to be making any headway so Jay thinks he can use his hacking skills to do better. Jay and Nicole start hanging out and become friends which pushes Jay even more to figure out the mystery.

This was a compelling read. Once the story really got started I didn’t want to put it down. The story is told from Jay’s point of view and he has a fantastic voice. I liked how much depth these characters had. I thought their friendship was pretty believable as was the reactions of those around them. We get additional glimpses into Nicole’s life through her diary entries and the notes from her psychiatrist. I thought the mystery of who actually threw the acid and why was also interesting. Looking back I can see the clues, but during the reveal it was a surprise. I like that there were twists and turns in the investigation that left the reader wandering what was really going on. I guess my only big complaint was a storyline that seemed to go nowhere. Nicole has a young friend who is dying in the hospital. She visits her and is upset when she dies. However, we never really learn who this girl is and what her connection to Nicole is. Seemed like a storyline with no point and pulled the reader from the real story taking place. I think it could have been eliminated with no issues to the plot. Other than that I really liked the book. 

20. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Multicultural Fiction · Tags:

The Young Healer by Frank N. McMillan III, read by Angie, on 06/18/2014

Feather and her grandfather set out on a quest to heal her young brother Peter. Spotted Eagle is a Lakota medicine man and he wants to teach Feather the traditions of their people. Their quest leads them throughout New York City during a raging snowstorm as they meet a Chinese herbalist, a homeless woman, a bear at the zoo and a grandfather at the Empire State Building. Their journey is full of magical coincidences that help making the vision quest more special. Feather’s mom, Ann, is resistant to the old ways and doesn’t want anything to do with a traditional healing ceremony, but Feather and Spotted Eagle are determined to help Peter. 

I really enjoyed the fact that this book highlights a culture not seen in children’s realistic fiction very often, the Native American culture. I also liked that it was not only set in modern times, but also in a modern city. It highlighted how Native Americans can adapt their cultural traditions to fit a modern world, but still honor those ancient customs. I thought Feather and her grandfather were both fun, dedicated, interesting characters throughout the book. I did think Feather’s parents were a little one-dimensional, but they didn’t play a very big role in the book. I liked how the reader was left wondering if there was really magic playing a part or if it was just coincidences. A very special book that I am sure would be great for discussions.

13. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Noelle, Teen Books

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams, read by Noelle, on 06/13/2014

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters. That is, without questioning it much—if you don’t count her visits to the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her secret meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that Kyra must marry her sixty-year-old uncle—who already has six wives—she must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.

12. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Award Winner, Brian, Contemporary Fiction, Paranormal, Romance

O My Darling by Amity Gaige, read by Brian, on 06/12/2014

darlingO My Darling was described to me as one of the best supernatural books, a comedy and a romance.  I saw no comedy, a hint of the supernatural and did see the romance even in a tragic sense.  The writer wrote with great imagery which made it a joy to read.  There were parts I thought were not necessary and other parts that confused me.

 

 

11. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Sarah, Teen Books

November Blues by Sharon Draper, read by Sarah, on 06/10/2014

This is the sequel to “The Battle of Jericho” that fills you in on Josh’s girlfriend, November, after he’s gone.  Within a couple of months of Josh’s passing, November finds out that she is pregnant.  All of her friends rally around her to support her, but her Mom’s disappointment is almost too hard to bear.  Jericho (Josh’s cousin) feels like he is responsible to help November through this but he is still aching over Josh, too.  Complications and ugly high school life make this very believable and heart wrenching.  November has to find the courage to do what is right by the baby, regardless of what others think.  This was a good book, but I enjoyed the first one more.

02. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Tracy

Whitethorn Woods by Maeve Binchy, read by Tracy, on 05/08/2014

Maeve Binchy once again brings us an enchanting book full of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that have made her one of the most beloved and widely read writers at work today.

When a new highway threatens to bypass the town of Rossmore and cut through Whitethorn Woods, everyone has a passionate opinion about whether the town will benefit or suffer. But young Father Flynn is most concerned with the fate of St. Ann’s Well, which is set at the edge of the woods and slated for destruction. People have been coming to St. Ann’s for generations to share their dreams and fears, and speak their prayers. Some believe it to be a place of true spiritual power, demanding protection; others think it’s a mere magnet for superstitions, easily sacrificed. Not knowing which faction to favor, Father Flynn listens to all those caught up in the conflict, and these are the voices we hear in the stories of Whitethorn Woods men and women deciding between the traditions of the past and the promises of the future, ordinary people brought vividly to life by Binchy’s generosity and empathy, and in the vivacity and surprise of her storytelling.

Maeve Binchy is at the very top of her form in this irresistible tale.

02. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

The Cherry Cola Book Club by Ashton Lee, read by Kira, on 05/17/2014

cherry cola {FCEA40D7-9A5C-40B1-B52F-3A568A25D2C3}Img400 9781611737134_p0_v1_s260x420Small town librarian MauraBeth tries to ramp up programming and usage at her library, in an attempt to keep the city council-members from closing the library in order to fund development in the town.  I thought this would be a little more interesting, being a librarian, but it wasn’t very.  Too much HANDWRINGING and really, 1 book club that meets every 6 weeks?

01. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Best Kept Secret by Ann M. Martin, read by Angie, on 05/31/2014

This book tells the story of Francie as she grows up in the 1970s and 80s. She has to deal with her parents’ divorce, her disabled uncle moving in, new friends, new schools, family feuds and all the things that come with growing up. This is the third book in this series; the previous two followed Francie’s mom and grandma. A lot of time is covered in this short novel. It starts with Francie starting school and ends with her married with a baby on the way. Unfortunately, the span of years really cuts down on the storytelling. Each chapter is basically a different year in her life so very little is actual told about what happens to her on a daily basis. It is more like a collection of vignettes than a fully fleshed-out story. There are things like the feud between family members that is mentioned but never really explained. And there is an incident when Francie is young where she is almost kidnapped and another girl disappears. This is mentioned several times but really never goes anywhere. I think the book would have been better served to tell Francie’s story through childhood with more attention to detail than to try and tell her entire life story in 200 pages. 

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley. 

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

Stranded with her ex by Jill Sorenson, read by Melody, on 05/24/2014

An exotic wildlife preserve is a dream come true for conservation biologist Daniela Flores. Until she finds out her ex-husband is leading the research team. World-famous shark expert Sean Carmichael has only grown more ruggedly appealing in the time they were apart…the passion between them more intense than ever. But how could Daniela forgive Sean for betraying her when she needed him most?Sean had come to the remote Farallon Islands to study killer sharks. Now a real killer is on the loose, threatening the woman he’s never stopped loving. And this time, he knows he can’t walk away. Marooned together during a deadly storm, Sean vows to go to hell and back to save Daniela…and for the chance to begin again.

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

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

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

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

19. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Seeing Red by Kathryn Erskine, read by Angie, on 05/19/2014

Red Porter comes from a long line of Porters. He is proud of his family heritage and his place in the world and his community. Then his daddy dies and suddenly mom is talking about moving them from Virginia to Ohio. Red doesn’t want to leave his home or the shop and store his daddy owned. He tries everything he can think of to stop his mom from selling even if that includes enlisting the help of Darryl Dunlop. The Dunlops have been the Porter’s neighbors for a hundred years and there has always been bad blood between. The Dunlops and Porters couldn’t be more different. The Porters are pillars of the community whereas the Dunlops beat their kids and cause trouble. 

Red is also having trouble reconciling the racism he sees in his community with his own beliefs. Red is learning that just because it is the 1970s that doesn’t mean racism is gone. There are still people who want to put Blacks in their place and keep them separated from the whites. Red is friends with Ms. Georgia, an old Black lady who lives up the road from his family. Her grandpa was murdered 100 years ago on land he was buying from the Porters. Red decides to try and solve the mystery of where the Freedom Church was and what really happened the night George Freeman was murdered. This leads him to some hard truths about his family and the Dunlops. 

There is a lot going on in this book. It is a book that would spark a lot of discussions on civil rights, women rights and racism. It is also a good discussion book on grief and how different people deal with a loved ones death. Red wants to hold onto everything related to his father, but his mother can’t stand being around everything without his father. I liked the progression of the characters. Red grows up a lot during the course of the book. He learns to stand up for what he believes in and not to give in to the bigots and racists. His mother also changes. She is devastated with grief at the beginning, barely able to function, but by the end she is strong and more than what she was.

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

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover, read by Jessica, on 05/15/2014

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

Sydney becomes captivated by her mysterious neighbor, Ridge Lawson. She can’t take her eyes off him or stop listening to the daily guitar playing he does out on his balcony. She can feel the harmony and vibrations in his music. And there’s something about Sydney that Ridge can’t ignore, either: He seems to have finally found his muse. When their inevitable encounter happens, they soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one…