15. April 2015 · Write a comment · 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 · Write a comment · 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.

14. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Paula, Teen Books

I Was Here by Forman, Gayle, 270 pages, read by Paula, on 04/11/2015

Cody and Meg were inseparable…
Until they weren’t.

When her best friend, Meg, drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything;so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, and some secrets of his own. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open; until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is a pitch-perfect blend of mystery, tragedy, and romance. Gayle Forman has given us an unflinchingly honest portrait of the bravery that it takes to live after devastating loss.”

 

Third of book of Gayle Forman’s that I have read.  I love her style.

10. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Humor, Mariah, Romance

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, 295 pages, read by Mariah , on 04/04/2015

Don Tillman is a scientist who is socially inept. He does not pick up on social queues and does not hear irony. He is extremely intelligent, though, and moves fairly comfortably through life because he can judge reactions, if not facial expressions, and plan his behavior accordingly. He works at a university and keeps a very specific schedule down to what he eats each night of the week and at what time. He has exactly two friends. His life moves on day by day. Several dating disasters had convinced him that marriage would never be in his future. However, when helping with some research, it suddenly occured to him that a questionnaire, utilized appropriately, might help him find a wife. After an exciting start to the Wife Project, he meets Rosie. She does not fit any of his criteria, but his friend Gene convinces Don to ask her on a date as a “wild card.” After a wonderful evening, Don says goodbye to Rosie feeling that he has enjoyed himself, but not planning on seeing her again because she is unsuitable as a prospective wife. A conversation they had, sticks with Don, though, and he offers to help Rosie search for her father. This becomes the Father Project. Spending time with Rosie becomes one of Don’s favorite activities as the research throws them together and throws off his schedule. Neither Rosie, nor Don, find what they thought they were looking for, but they do find a happy ending.

This is, by far, my favorite book read this year. Don narrates the book, so the reader sees what he is thinking and feeling along the way. When he fails to grasp the implied meanings of important questions, you groan for him. When he bounces back with well thought out plans and decisions, you cheer for him. Written with humor and charm, this will definitely stay at the top of my “feel good’ book list.

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

Where Sea Meets Sky by Karina Halle, 384 pages, read by Jessica, on 04/07/2015

81YrmXk94jL._SL1500_Joshua Miles has spent his early twenties spinning his wheels. Working dead-end jobs and living at home has left him exhausted and uninspired, with little energy to pursue his passion for graphic art. Until he meets Gemma Henare, a vivacious out-of-towner from New Zealand. What begins as a one-night stand soon becomes a turning point for Josh. He can’t get Gemma out of his head, even after she has left for home, and finds himself throwing caution to the wind for the first time in his life.

It’s not long before Josh is headed to New Zealand with only a backpack, some cash, and Gemma’s name to go on. But when he finally tracks her down, he finds his adventure is only just beginning. Equally infatuated, Gemma leads him on a whirlwind tour across the beautiful country, opening Josh up to life, lust, love, and all the messy heartache in between. Because, when love drags you somewhere, it might never let go—even when you know you have to say goodbye.

01. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Multicultural Fiction, Noelle

The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar, 317 pages, read by Noelle, on 03/12/2015

This novel explores the interpersonal dynamics and consequences brought about by an unlikely friendship between two women from vastly different walks of life and cultural backgrounds. Lakshmi is a recent immigrant from rural India who finds herself isolated and depressed in a country she struggles to understand while also struggling in an unhappy arranged marriage to an emotionally abusive man. A series of circumstances leads Lakshmi into the care of Maggie, an accomplished African American psychologist who is well established and known for her professionalism. As their therapy sessions progress, Maggie becomes increasingly compassionate towards Lakshmi’s struggles. Maggie is drawn (along with the reader) into the vibrant stories Lakshmi tells about life in her village in India. The women also come to realize they share deep bond as both suffered the loss of their mother at a young age. Soon the boundary lines between patient and doctor become blurred. As their friendship develops, Maggie empowers Lakshmi to realize her potential, despite worry over the ethicality of their relationship as patient and doctor. Just as their relationship seems at its most positive and productive, the plot twists unexpectedly. When unseemly truths from both women are revealed, the consequences are detrimental and challenge the women’s perceptions and acceptance of one another.
As a reader, I especially enjoyed the depth of character development and the author’s ability to weave life truths and human complexity into the story from both Maggie and Lakshmi’s perspective. I found Lakshmi’s narration rich and engaging, although the author’s choice to write in broken English might be a hurdle for some readers. I can see how the author meant the ending of the novel to complete a circle in Lakshimi’s narrative. However, to me the resolution felt abrupt and untethered, leaving the reader and characters with uncertain absolution. In any case, I thought the book was well written and I particularly relished the author’s exploration of storytelling and emotional intricacies in human relationships.

30. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Kyland by Mia Sheridan, 272 pages, read by Jessica, on 03/27/2015

81RWZSGarTL._SL1500_Dirt poor. Hillbilly. Backwoods hick. Mountain folk.

Tenleigh Falyn struggles each day to survive in a small, poverty-stricken, coal mining town where she lives with her sister and mentally ill mother. Her dream of winning the college scholarship given to one student by the local coal company and escaping the harshness of her life, keeps her going.

Kyland Barrett lives in the hills, too, and has worked tirelessly–through near starvation, through deep loneliness, against all odds–to win the Tyton Coal Scholarship and leave the town that is full of so much pain.

They’re both determined not to form any attachments, but one moment changes everything. What happens when only one person gets to win? When only one person gets to leave? And what happens to the one left behind?

Kyland is a story of desperation and hope, loss and sacrifice, pain and forgiveness, but ultimately, a story of deep and unending love.

26. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Withering Hope by Layla Hagen, 262 pages, read by Jessica, on 03/24/2015

91sXt2gX6UL._SL1500_Withering Hope is the story of a man who desperately needs forgiveness and the woman who brings him hope. It is a story in which hope births wings and blooms into a love that is as beautiful and intense as it is FORBIDDEN. ***

Aimee’s wedding is supposed to turn out perfect. Her dress, her fiance and the location–the idyllic holiday ranch in Brazil–are perfect.

But all Aimee’s plans come crashing down when the private jet that’s taking her from the U.S. to the ranch–where her fiance awaits her–defects mid-flight and the pilot is forced to perform an emergency landing in the heart of the Amazon rainforest.

With no way to reach civilization, being rescued is Aimee and Tristan’s–the pilot–only hope. A slim one that slowly withers away, desperation taking its place. Because death wanders in the jungle under many forms: starvation, diseases. Beasts.

As Aimee and Tristan fight to find ways to survive, they grow closer. Together they discover that facing old, inner agonies carved by painful pasts takes just as much courage, if not even more, than facing the rainforest.

Despite her devotion to her fiance, Aimee can’t hide her feelings for Tristan–the man for whom she’s slowly becoming everything. You can hide many things in the rainforest. But not lies. Or love.

Withering Hope is the story of a man who desperately needs forgiveness and the woman who brings him hope. It is a story in which hope births wings and blooms into a love that is as beautiful and intense as it is forbidden.

20. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Pocketful Of Sand by M. Leighton, 318 pages, read by Jessica, on 03/20/2015

81nN7kO2EWL._SL1500_“She’s beauty for my ashes. And I’m hope for her heartache.”—Cole Danzer.

I don’t know what makes a great love story. Is it that instant attraction when boy meets girl? The passionate kisses and the fairy-tale ending? Or is it a lifetime of tragedy, paid in advance, for a few stolen moments of pure bliss? The pain and the suffering that, in the end, you can say are worth it for having found the missing piece of your soul?

The answer is: I don’t know. I don’t know what makes a great love story. I only know what makes my love story. I only know that finding Cole when I did, when Emmy and I were running from a nightmare, was the only thing that saved me. That saved us. He was more broken than I was, but somehow we took each other’s shattered pieces and made a whole. If that is what makes a great love story, if that is what makes an epic romance, then mine…ours is the greatest of them all.

05. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Thoughtful by S.C. Stephens, 561 pages, read by Jessica, on 03/04/2015

91OMupwGzVL._SL1500_The only place Kellan Kyle has ever felt at home is onstage. Gripping his guitar in a darkened bar, he can forget his painful past. These days his life revolves around three things: music, his bandmates, and hot hookups. Until one woman changes everything . . .

Kiera is the kind of girl Kellan has no business wanting-smart, sweet, and dating his best friend. Certain he could never be worthy of her love, he hides his growing attraction . . . until Kiera’s own tormented heart hints that his feelings might not be one-sided. Now, no matter the consequences, Kellan is sure of one thing-he won’t let Kiera go without a fight.

26. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Jessica

Nine Minutes by Beth Flynn, 320 pages, read by Jessica, on 02/21/2015

91zsHPSE5wL._SL1500_On May 15, 1975, fifteen-year-old Ginny Lemon is abducted from a convenience store in Fort Lauderdale by a member of one of the most notorious and brutal motorcycle gangs in South Florida.

From that moment on, her life is forever changed. She gets a new name, a new identity and a new life in the midst of the gang’s base on the edge of the Florida Everglades—a frightening, rough and violent world much like the swamps themselves, where everyone has an alias and loyalty is tantamount to survival.

And at the center of it all is the gang’s leader, Grizz: massive, ruggedly handsome, terrifying and somehow, when it comes to Ginny, tender. She becomes his obsession and the one true love of his life.

So begins a tale of emotional obsession and manipulation, of a young woman ripped from everything she knows and forced to lean on the one person who provides attention, affection and care: her captor. Precocious and intelligent, but still very much a teenager, Ginny struggles to adapt to her existence, initially fighting and then coming to terms with her captivity.

Will she be rescued? Will she escape? Will she get out alive—or get out at all? Part psychological thriller, part coming-of-age novel, filled with mystery, romance and unexpected turns, Nine Minutes takes readers into the world of one motorcycle gang and inside the heart of a young girl, whose abduction brought about its

19. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

The Thief by Tarryn Fisher, 295 pages, read by Jessica, on 02/16/2015

91GdSWwNckL._SL1500_Caleb Drake never got over his first love. Not when he got married. Not when she got married. When life suddenly comes full circle Caleb must decide how how far he is willing to go to get the aloof and alluring Olivia Kaspen back. But for every action in life there is a consequence, and soon Caleb finds out that sometimes love comes at an unbearably high price.

17. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Paula, Teen Books

If I Stay by Forman, Gayle, 201 pages, read by Paula, on 02/13/2015

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck…

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make–and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

 

17. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty, 394 pages, read by Katy, on 02/16/2015

husbansImagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

From www.goodreads.com

12. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Jessica, Romance

Dirty Red by Tarryn Fisher, 276 pages, read by Jessica, on 02/12/2015

81EWtzckbeL._SL1500_Leah Smith finally has everything she has ever wanted. Except she doesn’t. Her marriage feels more like a loan than a lifelong commitment, and the image she has worked so hard to build is fraying before her eyes. With a new role and a past full of secrets, Leah must decide how far she is willing to go to keep what she has stolen.

11. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

The Opportunist by Tarryn Fisher, 278 pages, read by Jessica, on 02/10/2015

81fNp4iqbUL._SL1500_Olivia Kaspen has just discovered that her ex -boyfriend, Caleb Drake, has lost his memory. With an already lousy reputation for taking advantage of situations, Olivia must decide how far she is willing to go to get Caleb back. Wrestling to keep her true identity and their sordid past under wraps, Olivia’s greatest obstacle is Caleb’s wicked, new girlfriend; Leah Smith. It is a race to the finish as these two vipers engage in a vicious tug of war to possess a man who no longer remembers them. But, soon enough Olivia must face the consequences of her lies, and in the process discover that sometimes love falls short of redemption

09. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Unlit Star by Lindy Zart, 299 pages, read by Jessica, on 02/09/2015

81k38vwjRbL._SL1500_We are not guaranteed anything, not even this life.

Rivers Young is the popular guy untouchable by reality. He is like a star—bright, consuming, otherworldly. The thing about stars, though, is that they eventually fall, and he is no different.

He falls far and he falls hard.

Delilah Bana is the outcast enshrouded in all of life’s ironies. Alone, in the dark, like dusk as it falls on the world. When Rivers hits the ground, she is the night that catches him. In the darkness, they meld into something beautiful that shines like the sun.

Only, the greater the star is, the shorter its lifespan.

31. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle, Teen Books

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, 471 pages, read by Noelle, on 12/30/2014

An angry, grieving seventeen-year-old musician facing expulsion from her prestigious Brooklyn private school travels to Paris to complete a school assignment and uncovers a diary written during the French revolution by a young actress attempting to help a tortured, imprisoned little boy–Louis Charles, the lost king of France.

31. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Becky, Drama, Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal, Thriller/Suspense

Haunted by Kay Hooper, 310 pages, read by Becky, on 12/28/2014

hw7.pl5

When Deacon James’s younger sister Melanie calls him, terrified, he goes to her aid in the small Georgia town of Sociable. What he finds is a scared young woman in the grip of what she insists is a paranormal nightmare–and murder. Two local men have been killed under mysterious circumstances. And Melanie is the prime suspect. Trinity Nichols left a high-stress job for quiet, small-town life. But news of the murders has left her–and the town–on edge, especially when there is nothing remotely ordinary about how the men died. And her investigation is yielding more than she bargained for, including a group of strangers who have descended on Sociable, some with abilities Trinity finds hard to believe, and agendas she refuses to trust. For some reason, they know a lot more than they should about what’s happening in town. And what’s happening is growing stranger by the minute. Now Trinity, Deacon, and this odd band of FBI agents must work together to solve a series of disturbances so incredible that Trinity, and the town of Sociable, will be changed forever. She just isn’t certain who–or what–will be left standing when it’s all over

26. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Noelle

Sleepwalking by Meg Wolitzer, 215 pages, read by Noelle, on 11/23/2014

So, I like Meg Wolitzer and thought I’d give her first novel a go.

Published when she was only twenty-three and written while she was a student at Brown, Sleepwalking marks the beginning of Meg Wolitzer’s acclaimed career.  Filled with her usual wisdom, compassion and insight, Sleepwalking tells the story of the three notorious “death girls,” so called on the Swarthmore campus because they dress in black and are each absorbed in the work and suicide of a different poet: Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and Wolitzer’s creation Lucy Asher, a gifted writer who drowned herself at twenty-four.  At night the death girls gather in a candlelit room to read their heroines’ work aloud.

But an affair with Julian, an upperclassman, pushes sensitive , struggling Claire Danziger—she of the Lucy Asher obsession-–to consider to what degree her “death girl” identity is really who she is.  As she grapples with her feelings for Julian, her own understanding of herself and her past begins to shift uncomfortably and even disturbingly. Finally, Claire takes drastic measures to confront the facts about herself that she has been avoiding for years.