13. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Kira

Goodbye For Now by Laurie Frankel, read by Kira, on 11/12/2013

goodbyenow4nowProtagonist Sam works for as a programmer for an online dating company.  As he is filling out an online application in the hopes of meeting the right one, he realizes  that none of the questions really tap into really meaningful issues.  Even if meaningful questions were included, most people would lie.  So, proposes that he writes a new software algorithm that taps into people’s financial statements.  The good news is that it works really successfully in matching up couples.  The bad news is that it is too successful and long term monthly signups drop.  He is fired, then the grandmother of his new girlfriend Meredith – the perfect match from his algorith – dies.  Meredith spends HUGE amounts of time moping and mourning her grandmother’s death.  In an effort to return his love Meredith to her usual self, Sam creates another algorithm based on digital conversations between Meredith and her grandmother to recreate a digital version of the grandmother.

The book seems more like a mouthpiece to explore these complicated issues.  Unfortunately, there is a HUGE amount of whining by most of the characters (I’m usually pretty sympathetic, but the characters are so hopeless and pathetic). Might have been better reading the book instead of listening to it.

29. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Drama, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kristin, Science Fiction

Risked: Book 6 in The Missing Series by Margaret Peterson Haddix, read by Kristin, on 10/25/2013

As soon as I saw this on the new book shelf, I snatched it up.  I read books 1-5 in a couple weeks around Easter and was excited to see that Book 6 was out.

General premise of the series: Famous children from history have been kidnapped during their own time and taken to the future to be adopted. Guardians of time are trying to return those kids to the time they belong and “fix” the wrinkles in time.

Jonah, along with his sister, Katherine, and best friend, Chip, and two other children get taken back to 1918 where they discover that the two kids with them are really Alexei and Anastasia Romanov and they have arrived hours before the entire Romanov family is going to be executed.

Will they be able to repair the time rift and still save the two Romanovs so they can continue their lives in the 21st century?

I was sort of hoping that this book would wrap up the series, but unfortunately Jonah still does not know his true identity from history.  I have enjoyed the series, but I thought this book lacked some of the period detail that the previous books contained.  Still, Risked is a good book and if you are a fan of futuristic books, then The Missing series is a must read.

30. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Children's Books, Drama, Eric, Fiction · Tags: , ,

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, read by Eric, on 08/29/2013

13-yr-old Salamanca retraces with her grandparents the route taken by her mother when suddenly she left Sal and her father, and went to Lewiston, Idaho. Along the way, Sal tells her grandparents the story of moving from Kentucky to Ohio, and of how Phoebe, a new friend, also had a mother leave. The journey west combines with stories of the past to determine the future of Sal’s family.

This novel won the Newbery Award in 1995, and deserves all the praise it has gotten over the years. It is a powerful exploration and celebration of life, loss, new love, and mature love. Creech gives Sal’s voice an aching, coming-of-age truthfulness that should be experienced by everyone, and not just middle readers. If you’ve not done so already, read this book!

28. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Pamela, Romance

The great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, read by Pamela, on 08/21/2013

The great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature.gg

This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession, it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.

30. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Mystery, Pamela · Tags:

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, read by Pamela, on 07/30/2013

gone-girl-book-cover-med2-23664_186x186Marriage can be a real killer.
One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl‘s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

15. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Kristin · Tags:

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard, read by Kristin, on 07/13/2013

An escaped convict enlists the help of a mentally unstable woman and her 13 year old son to help him evade law enforcement over the Labor Day holiday.  During those six days, the man and woman fall in love and the make a plan for the family to escape to Canada.  The story, told from the view of the boy, has as much to do with him coming of age as it does with the relationship between mother and convict.

I found the story engaging (enough so that I read the book in two sittings) although the whole time I was reading, I kept thinking that the plot was completely unbelieveable.  Who in their right mind would willingly allow a convict into her home, live with him for 6 days, then make plans to run away together?  But, then again, I’m neither super adventurous nor diagnosed as mentally ill.  That could be the difference.

The movie, based on the book, will be released on December 25th and stars Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin.

22. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

Eva moves the furniture by Margot Livesey, read by Kira, on 05/21/2013

jacket-eva-moves-the-furniture If you liked the book “A Certain Slant of LIght” you will like Eva Moves the Furniture.  It has the same eevavocative feel to me, slightly haunting.

Growing up,Eva has 2 companions a girl her age, and a grown woman, eva moves furnthat no one else can see.  Her Mom died right after she is born, and she experiences a certain degree of loneliness, and is less than successful forming friendships at school.  The companions meddle in her life, sometimes to Eva’s delight, sometimes to her disappointment.

It is Never clear whether the ghosts are real, or a figment of Eva’s imagination, because the ghosts don’t always behave well.  It could be that Eva blames her bad behavior on these ghosts, which are nothing more than a figment of her imagination.  But I lean to the other possibility, that they really are present.  But you can see where either narrative makes sense.

01. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Pamela, Romance

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani, read by Pamela, on 04/13/2013

shoemakers wifeAdriana Trigiani’s “The Shoemaker’s Wife” is a must read if you enjoy historical fiction.  The book was 20 years in the making and what a book it is.

The book spans two continents, four decades, two world wars, and two families whose chance meeting on a mountaintop in the Alps sets the pace for the adventures and misadventures of the main characters.  It follows the Lazzari and Ravanelli families, most specifically Ciro Lazzari and Vincenza (Enza) Ravanelli from childhood through adulthood. The day to day life is enriched with the colorful and detailed descriptions of home, work and life for Ciro and Enza. The newly married couple strike out on their own to the Upper Midwest of America to the town where Ciro’s father lost his life. In the end, father provided for son in a most fitting way.

My father was a shoemaker for 30 years, so the title intrigued me immediately. Not to mention, Adriana Trigiani has become one of my favorite authors, also.

15. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Mystery, Sarah

Truth Stained Lies by Terri Blackstock, read by Sarah, on 04/12/2013

hw7.plTerri Blackstock does an excellent job of weaving a tangled web of clues for the reader to use in figuring out who framed Jay in his soon-to-be ex-wife’s murder.  Jay’s three sisters and ex-cop guy-friend form a motley crew who take in all the clues and head in a totally different direction than the police.  Can they figure it out in time to save Jay’s five-year-old son?  This book was a page turner.  I would say more, but I don’t want to ruin anything!!  Enjoy!

05. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Pamela

Home to Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani, read by Pamela, on 03/18/2013

The fouhome to big stone gaprth and final in the Big Stone Gap series brings to a meaningful and comfortable close this segment of Ave Maria’s life.  Etta begins her new life in Italy, a family emergency makes both Jack and Ave Maria take a look at what’s really important in life, Jack and Ave Maria travel to the home of his ancestors, and long buried secrets emerge. These lovable characters, Theodore, Fleeta, Iva Lou, Pearl, and even Pete make appearances. They are like family by now to the reader. The ending is warm and emotional. There’s nothing complicated about the book or the characters, just a nice comfortable read.  Five stars for the series.
30. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Pamela

Milk Glass Moon by Adriana Trigiani, read by Pamela, on 02/28/2013

milkglassmoon-hardcoverMilk Glass Moon, third in the Big Stone Gap series, continues the life story of Ave Maria Mullilgan MacChesney. Her family and friends grow up, experience heartache and crisis, and fall in love. Mother and daughter, Ave Maria and Etta, move to a new level in their relationship, one of love and leaving. The characters continue to be as ordinary as they come, making you think you could look within your own circle of friends and see some just like them. Trigiani brings these characters alive with down home humor and everyday happenings written with that southern tone that sets the mood for a good read, once again.

30. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Pamela

Big Cherry Holler by Adriana Trigiani, read by Pamela, on 02/16/2013

big-cherry-holler-adriana-trigiani-paperback-cover-artThis second book in the Big Stone Gap series focuses on Ave Maria Mulligan’s life after several years of marriage to Jack MacChesney, two children, and a shift in their relationship. A trip to Italy, the “old country”, brings her face to face with who she is and who she wants to be. The characters are endearing; some odd, some ambitious, some just like friends we all have. Their experiences are normal, although Trigiani writes as if they are special and unique. Five stars, again.

30. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Pamela

Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani, read by Pamela, on 01/26/2013

Big Stone

Ave Maria Mulligan, the self-proclaimed town spinster of Big Stone Gap, is the town pharmacist, part of the Rescue Squad, and director of the town’s outdoor drama. She discovers a family secret after her mother passes away and life changes for her forever. She has much to learn about her family and herself. And, for most of us, it’s never too late for that.

You’ll love how Trigiani intertwines the ancient art of face reading into her book and weaves the characters lives together. This is a delightful read. I’ve read the series (four in all) and couldn’t wait to get the next one in my hands to see where these characters were going. Five stars.

I sincerely wish someone had suggested Adriana Trigiani to me before I just happened to stumble upon her at Missouri River Regional Library.  I am truly transported to the place and era for which she is writing and it’s so refreshing to escape the toils of the world we live in today with characters such as these.

21. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Mystery, Pamela

6th Target by James Patterson, read by Pamela, on 03/01/2013

6thTarget

When a horrifying attack leaves one of the four members of the Women’s Murder Club struggling for her life, the others fight to keep a madman behind bars before anyone else is hurt. And Lindsay Boxer and her new partner in the San Francisco police department run flat-out to stop a series of kidnappings that has electrified the city: children are being plucked off the streets together with their nannies– but the kidnappers aren’t demanding ransom.

I like these books, even though they aren’t particularly deep, they are fun.

28. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Christian, Drama, Fiction, Romance, Sarah · Tags:

Don't Tell a Soul by Tiffany L. Warren, read by Sarah, on 02/21/2013

dont tellThree best friends whose lives are intricately tied together through a Sister to Sister group in their church have been through some real trials in their lives.  A cheating, wife-beating husband, recent divorce, tempting potential lovers, an 11 year old son with serious anger issues, a possible threat to one’s marriage, being stranded on an island in a storm with the choir director….these are just a few of the issues that Pam, Taylor, and Yvonne have to deal with.  When a lovely girl, Eva, shows up at their church meeting needing food, Yvonne is more than happy to assist her and reach out with kindness.  But can Eva’s past derail all that Yvonne has hoped for?  Can Taylor forgive her baby’s daddy?  Can Pam stay strong in the face of temptation?

This book surprised me with its frankness in dealing with serious problems in relationships.  It was a bit confusing at first because each chapter is told from a different woman’s point of view and you don’t really know the connection between the ladies early on.  It mixes street-wise folk with shouting-hallelujah folk and is heavy on pushing that Jesus will help you through it all.  All in all, it was a good read that kept you guessing.

Crossovers-1 cover

The two volumes of this book are a fascinating and highly enjoyable read for anyone interested in the interactions between various pulp, mystery, adventure, and science fiction characters with real people throughout history.  The premise of this book is inspired by SF writer Philip José Farmer’s “Wold Newton” concept which he developed in the 1970s:  a “radioactive” meteorite crashed near Wold Newton, England in 1795 and affected several carriages full of people who were passing by.  Their descendants became highly intelligent and powerful heroes (or villains) such as Sherlock Holmes, Professor Moriarty, Dr. Fu Manchu, Doc Savage, Lord Greystoke (aka Tarzan), and many more.  Farmer wrote popular and detailed biographies of Tarzan and Doc Savage in which he detailed the family trees of many “Wold Newton Family” characters.  Over time, the concept has been expanded and continued by others into the Crossover Universe.  Win Scott Eckert has done a fantastic job of compiling references to literary heroes who have met each other (or “crossed over”) and had adventures together, and thus co-exist in the same fictional universe.  Volume 1 covers the dawn of time up through 1939, and Volume 2 covers 1940 into the far future.  Reading these two books is a fun and highly addictive experience!

 

21. September 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Drama, Graphic Novel · Tags: , , , , ,

Zahra's Paradise by Amir & Khalil, read by Andrea, on 09/21/2012

With all of the negative media attention the Middle East has gotten lately, it is sometimes hard to separate the good people from the evil. Zahra’s Paradise, although fictional, is a good way to bring what is happening over there back into perspective. This story served as a representation of what many Iranian families went through during the revolution and are going through now under a corrupted Islamic Republic. Most of the Middle East we see in the media is a bunch of angry extremists yelling and marching and burning the American flag. This story is an attempt to show Iranians are a compassionate people (no matter their religion, age, or sex) and have a strong desire to live in freedom. Their leaders are the ones who have turned religion into a cover for gaining wealth and power. Not everyone in Iran likes their country, not even Muslims as the book reveals, but they are forced to, or risk possible prison time or execution.

Basically, this heart-wrenching story is about a mother and her son (the narrator) who journey together throughout Tehran in search of Mehdi, their son and brother. Along the way, the reader is introduced to the horrors of Iran. From prisons to hospitals, morgues to cemeteries, the reader is reminded that what is shown on American news is unrelated to what Iranians go through every day. Most have no time to “hate America” or protest in the streets about the Western world. The book actually makes light of this generalization at some point. Many, as we do here in the US, are simply trying to live. What this book does is show that humanity lies even in the darkest corners of the world despite the way it is represented as a whole.

The two authors withholding their names (for very obvious reasons) kind of makes the fear Iranians live in every day that much more realistic for me. In the end of the book is a large list of people who have died under the Islamic Republic. Kinda goes to show that as far as the effects of war on a country go, we haven’t even seen the tip of the iceberg yet domestically.

20. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Brian, Drama, Fiction, Horror

The Walking Dead Compendium Vol. 1 by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn , read by Brian, on 03/09/2012

I love the television show, The Walking Dead on AMC, so it stands to reason I would want to read the graphic novels too.  This compendium covers the first eight novels into one economical book.  This means you can sit in your chair, grab a beverage, read all night long then call in sick for work.   The story follows Rick Grimes who awakens from a coma alone in a hospital to find the world ruled by the undead.  Rick finds his family with a group of people and they embark on a journey for survival and trying to find a way to have as normal as a life possible in this hideous world.  Even though the story involves zombies it is more human interaction and how people relate to one another in desperate times.  I enjoyed it very much.

14. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Tracy

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards, read by Tracy, on 03/13/2012

The Memory Keeper's DaughterWe all have secrets we keep to ourselves. Dr. David Henry lived with a secret all his life. When his wife gives birth to twins he discovers the girl has Down’s syndrome while the boy is normal. In the 60’s it was believed that any one with Down’s would have many medical problems and would be labeled retarded. So he gives his daughter to his assistant Caroline and tells her to take her to an institution. He then tells his wife their daughter has died. Caroline also has a secret. She keeps the baby and raises her as her own. It’s a bittersweet story about life and why we live the lives we choose to live. We have to except the choices we make.

 

06. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Drama, Fiction, Teen Books

Hate List by Jennifer Brown, read by Andrea, on 03/04/2012

Hate ListAlternating between the time of the actual shooting in May and in September when Valerie goes back to school (the present), this book is about a school shooting, but mostly about a teenage girl and her struggle to understand herself. Valerie is just like any other outcast. She dresses in dark colors, wears heavy eyeliner, likes the opposite of what other students enjoy. However, she is also just like any other teenage high school student as well. She is madly in love with a guy who seems to share the same interests with her and get what she is going through. She likes to go to parties, hang out with friends, go to movies. The only problem Valerie has is, the guy she is, was in love with murdered around 6 of her classmates and permanently scarred dozens more. What’s worse, most blame her for the shooting, saying she played a crucial role in the horrible event, feeding her guilt about the whole situation.

This book makes you think about who you were at age 16, who you hated, who hated you, if you were made fun of, how it made you feel. Pretty much all the insecurities you experienced at that age are dredged up. This book made me understand how serious and out of control bullying can be and that sometimes, it’s not just the bullies that are wrong. Valerie, relentlessly picked on suffers from intense anger issues as a result of her being bullied. Coming up with a hate list, as a way to “deal with” her anger, she writes down anyone or anything in the book that ticks her off. Sadly, her self absorbing and selfish personality fails to understand the effect her anger has on her boyfriend, Nick, who takes the bully victim thing to a whole other level. It outlines Valerie’s hatred for herself after the shooting, her guilt and pain, and the realization that she has to be able to accept and forgive herself before others are willing to do so. Although everything ended up being sunshine and rainbows and she was accepted back into the fold just in time for graduation, the book was very good overall. Even though things may have not worked out so perfectly in the end for someone like Valerie if she really existed, this book would really connect with someone who has been bullied or has been a bully as a teen.