22. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Katy, Mystery

Invisible City by Julia Dahl, 295 pages, read by Katy, on 11/17/2014

Dahl_1024x1024“Just months after Rebekah Roberts was born, her mother, an Hasidic Jew from Brooklyn, abandoned her Christian boyfriend and newborn baby to return to her religion. Neither Rebekah nor her father have heard from her since. Now a recent college graduate, Rebekah has moved to New York City to follow her dream of becoming a big-city reporter. But she’s also drawn to the idea of being closer to her mother, who might still be living in the Hasidic community in Brooklyn. Then Rebekah is called to cover the story of a murdered Hasidic woman. Rebekah’s shocked to learn that, because of the NYPD’s habit of kowtowing to the powerful ultra-Orthodox community, not only will the woman be buried without an autopsy, her killer may get away with murder.”

It was tough to put this one down! A great debut novel and good read for Gillian Flynn fans.

17. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction

Space Case by Stuart Gibbs, 352 pages, read by Angie, on 11/14/2014

Dash is one of the first kids to live on the moon. He and his parents are part of the science team on Moon Base Alpha. Life on the moon isn’t everything they were promised; the food is bad, the accommodations are cramped and the bathrooms are all the way across the base! There also isn’t a lot to do since you can’t go outside the base which makes even school work seem exciting. One night in the bathroom, Dash overhears a conversation Dr. Holtz was having with someone about a big discovery. Dr. Holtz told whoever he was talking to that he was going to reveal his discovery the next day. The next day Dr. Holtz is dead on the surface of the moon. Everyone thinks he went crazy or just had an accident, but Dash thinks he was murdered. Dash is determined to investigate even though the base commander forbids it and everyone else is satisfied by the official explanation. Dash is assisted in his investigation by new arrivals Kira and Zan Perfonic. The investigation gets Dash into all kinds of trouble, but also reveals startling information about life beyond Moon Base Alpha.

Fans of Stuart Gibbs’ books will enjoy this new mystery as will space aficionados. Space mysteries are always fun and the setting of this one on a moon base adds a claustrophobic element to the story. I think kids will particularly enjoy all the cool space facts about life is really like in space. They will be grossed out by the food and how they use the bathroom.The mystery is one that will intrigue readers with its many twists and turns before the surprising reveal of who really killed Dr. Holtz and why. I think my big challenge with the story was the actual ending and the revelation of Dr. Holtz’s discovery. It took the story out of the realm of reality which I didn’t think it needed.

17. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery

Loot by Jude Watson, 272 pages, read by Angie, on 11/15/2014

March McQuin is the son of notorious thief Alfie McQuin. He is used to a life on the road going from one heist to the next. Then one night in Amsterdam, a heist goes horribly wrong and Alfie falls from a roof. March is caught and sent back to the states to a group home along with the twin sister he didn’t know he had, Jules. Jules is also used to a life on the road and neither of them adjust well to the group home. The escape along with their two new friends Izzy and Darius. The four of them are out to find the mysterious moonstones. The moonstones were stolen by Alfie, his wife (and March and Jules mom) and Owen several years ago. It was a heist that went wrong when Owen was captured and the mom was killed. The moonstones are cursed and gave a prophecy the night they were stolen. If they don’t find them before their thirteenth birthday March and Jules may die. They are pursued by Owen, Carlotta who used to own the moonstones, and Mike Shannon a disgraced cop turned reality tv star. The four must follow the clues left by Alfie and pull off some major heists to get all seven moonstones back together.

This was an action-packed thrill ride. The story goes from one heist or chase to the next with very little down time in between. The kids are fabulous characters with March and Jules being experts in living on the run and conning people. Darius and Izzy offer their own skill sets to the group. It is amazing what they pull off. I liked how everything seemed so fantastical, but yet could be possible. The only really iffy part was the prophecy and the magic of the moonstones. I almost wish the story would have stayed in the realm of reality. I think kids are really going to enjoy this book.

17. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery

Ollie and the Science of Treasure Hunting by Erin Dionne, 269 pages, read by Angie, on 11/16/2014

This is the follow up to Moxie and Art of Rule Breaking. Ollie’s family is swamped by all the media attention and decides to send him away to camp until things die down. Ollie becomes a probationary member of a scout troop and heads to Wilderness Camp on one of the Harbor Islands outside Boston. He doesn’t know any of the guys in his new troop but quickly becomes friends with Chris, a talkative but likeable guy. He also makes an enemy of troop leader Derek. On the island they meet Ranger Johnson who is obsessed with the possibility of pirate treasure on the island. He enlists Ollie’s help in finding it, but Ollie is not sure he can trust Ranger Johnson. Johnson’s daughter Gray is also looking for the treasure and Ollie isn’t sure he can trust her either.

Ollie was the side-kick in Moxie’s story, but the star of this one. I like that he got to branch out on his own and come into his strength. He is smart and pretty creative. I thought the scout troup was pretty realistic. They play together and work together but there are also rivalries involved. I thought Ranger Johnson was a pretty creepy villain of the story. You knew all along there was something shady about him, but just weren’t sure what it was. I kind of wish there had been more development in the Ranger Johnson and Gray characters. It would have made it a little easier to care about them and their situation. This was a fun mystery that was again based on real historical events and places.

The young women at St. Etheldreda’s School for Young Ladies might not really like the headmistress Mrs. Plackett, but it is better than their homes. When Mrs. Plackett and her brother are poisoned one night at dinner the girls decide to conceal their deaths so they won’t be sent home. Everything would have worked perfectly except people just keep showing up at the house. Smooth Kitty takes charge and makes sure everyone keeps the story straight. Stout Alice starts impersonating Mrs. Plackett to keep the neighbors and Mrs. Plackett’s suitor at bay. Pocked Louisa is investigating the deaths and believes they were poisoned with cyanide, but who killed them?

I had mixed feelings about this book. I really like the mystery aspect of it. I like the seven independent girls trying to live on their own and figure out what is going on. I laughed several times at the comedy of errors and the constant troupe of visitors to the house. The thing that annoyed me the most however was the girls themselves. Each of them have an adjective attached to their name and that is used repeatedly throughout the book. It got to be pretty annoying and I felt it was used instead of character development. The girls were hard to distinguish between except for their adjective. I also thought it was hard to place their ages. They seemed much older than I am guessing they were. A couple of times it was mentioned someone was 12 (can’t remember which one), but they all were terribly interested in suitors and seemed so much more mature. Maybe it was the Victorian setting, but it just seemed a bit odd. That is not to say I didn’t enjoy the book and stay up way too late reading it to find out who the murderer was and why they were killed.

13. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tammy · Tags: ,

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, 373 pages, read by Tammy, on 11/02/2014

sweetness at the bottom of the pieThe first book in a series of British mystery novels. But our detective is non-other than a plucky, whip-smart 11 year old girl. Who loves chemistry, scientific exploration, and especially poisons. I believe Flavia and Sherlock Holmes could have had some interesting conversations. Though smart and curious Flavia still remains an 11-year-old girl and tormented younger sister of two older sisters.

Set in the summer of 1950 at the decaying mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce finds herself surrounded by curious happenings. First a dead bird appears on their doorstep with a postage stamp pinned to its beak. But more worrisome is how this unnerves her usually steadfast father. Just hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in their cucumber patch and hears him utter his last words.

Flavia is both appalled and delighted as she says “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”

13. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tammy · Tags: ,

Darkness at Pemberley by T. H. White, 286 pages, read by Tammy, on 11/10/2014

darkness at pemberleyA little known detective story by the author of The Once and Future King and The Book of Merlyn. Starting off with a closed room mystery Inspector Buller is soon confronted with two other superstitious deaths at a prestigious college. Frustrated by his inability to prove who the murderer is even the villain confesses in private to him, the Inspector decides to resign from Scotland Yard. The story moves to the estate where two of his friends live. Made famous by Jane Austen, Pemberley, is our majestic setting for evil. The killer determines to kill Sir Charles and endangers the life of Detective Buller’s one true love. The action picks up once the killer manages to hide in the house. What follows includes car chases, kidnapping, poison gas, grinning skulls and a dangerous maze of a chimney system. Sir Charles and Inspector Buller must wrestle with their conscious. Could they kill the man if it’s the only way Sir Charles and his sister will be safe?

12. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage, 368 pages, read by Angie, on 11/10/2014

Mo and Dale, the Desperado Detectives, are back with all the quirky characters of Tupelo Landing. They have to learn about the history of their town for a school assignment. Instead of interviewing one of the elders of the town like all their classmates are doing, Mo convinces Dale to pick the ghost of the inn as their subject. The ramshackle inn was recently purchased by Miss Lana and Grandmother Miss Lacy to keep it out of the hands of the horrible Rat Face woman. The inn has been closed since the 1930s when a horrible accident left the family grieving and a ghost in residence. Mo and Dale are determined to find out who the ghost is and what happened to her even as they are stonewalled by the people who were there and know the story. Their investigation uncovers secrets of some of the town residents and explains the connection new kid Harm has to the area.

I really enjoy this series of books. I like that you don’t necessarily have to read Three Times Lucky to enjoy The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing though it does help. I think Mo is a fabulous character full of grit and determination. I really like the family she has created in Tupelo Landing and how they all fit together. I thought the mystery was good; filled with bootlegging, car races and terrible tragedy. I like how the truth unfolded throughout the story. I think Sheila Turnage does a fabulous job of recreating the quirky nature of small town Southern people with her wonderful cast of characters. I can’t wait to see what happens next for Mo and Dale.

09. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery

Once Upon a Midnight Eerie: The Misadventures of Edgar & Allan Poe, Book Two by Gordon McAlpine, Sam Zuppardi (Illustrations), 192 pages, read by Angie, on 11/08/2014

Edgar and Allen Poe are back in their second adventure. This time they are in a movie about Edgar Allen Poe in New Orleans. They meet another set of twins Em and Milly Dickinson who are descendants of Emily Dickinson and also starring in the movie. Together the twins meet a couple of ghosts who can’t pass on because they have unfinished business. The kids help them with their quest to expose their murderer. Edgar and Allen don’t know it but they are also under surveillance by Professor Perry’s daughter who wants to stop her father’s plans, but not by helping Edgar and Allen. This second adventure is a bit better than the first actually. It isn’t quite as implausible or ridiculous. It is an interesting mystery series. Not sure how much it will appeal to kids, but it does have a certain kind of charm.

08. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Courtney, Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, 440 pages, read by Courtney, on 10/14/2014

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .

For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again .

04. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

The Haunting of Gabriel Ashe by Dan Poblocki, 288 pages, read by Leslie, on 10/22/2014

The Haunting of Gabriel AsheGabe and Seth used to play make-believe games in the woods behind Seth’s family farm. It was the perfect creepy landscape for imagining they were up against beasts and monsters and villains.

Just as Gabe’s decided he’s outgrown their childish games, though, it appears that their most monstrous creation could be real.

Gabe and his family move in with his grandmother after their house burns in a fire.  Eager to escape the labels he endured at his old school, Gabe makes friends over the summer with Seth, who lives nearby.  After school begins, Gabe is accepted into the somewhat popular crowd but learns that his friendship with Seth may cause those labels to begin again.  Gabe and Seth had spent the summer playing a game in the woods, that Seth used to play with his brother, until he disappeared.  Gabe and Seth find themselves caught up in something that pulls Seth’s new friends into it’s evil.  Can the boys figure out the mystery and bring it to an end?  This is going to be very popular with both boys and girls, despite the main characters being boys.  Very suspenseful and it keeps you on the edge of your seat.

31. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery

The Mummy's Curse by Penny Warner, 182 pages, read by Angie, on 10/30/2014

The Code Busters Club is a group of four friends who love to solve puzzles and codes. Cody, Quinn, Luke and ME are in 6th grade and learning about hieroglyphics. Their classes are taking a trip to the local Egyptian museum. At the museum they meet Ms. Cassat, the museum director, and Dr. Jordan, a forgery expert. The kids notice that an eye of horus appears to be fake and they start investigating what happened to the real one. Did Dr. Jordan create the perfect forgery or did Ms. Casset’s love of Egyptian jewelry get the better of her?

This is an interesting book. In some ways I really liked the fact that there are actual puzzles for the reader to solve along with the Code Busters. In others I became really frustrated by the fact that I had to keep flipping to the back of the book to find out the answers. I thought the mystery was good and not as obvious as some kid’s mysteries. I liked that all the kids were smart and did their parts to solve the mystery.

30. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Mystery

The Code of the Hills by Nancy Allen, 480 pages, read by Jane, on 10/24/2014

To uncover the truth, she’ll have to break the code of the hills …

In the Missouri Ozarks, some things aren’t talked about … even abuse. But prosecutor Elsie Arnold is determined to change that.

When she is assigned to prosecute a high-profile incest case in which a father is accused of abusing his three young daughters, Elsie is ready to become the Ozarks’ avenging angel.

But as Elsie sinks her teeth into the case, everything begins to turn sour. The star witness goes missing; the girls refuse to talk about their father, who terrorizes the courtroom from the moment he enters; and Elsie begins to suspect that their tough-as-nails mother has ulterior motives. To make matters worse, Elsie receives gruesome threats from local extremists, warning her to mind her own business.

While Elsie swears not to let a sex offender walk, she realizes the odds—and maybe the town—are against her, and her life begins to crumble. But amidst all of the conflict, the safety of three young girls hangs in the balance …

A powerful debut, with the haunting atmosphere of Winter’s Bone and the page-turning suspense of Alafair Burke’s thrillers.

29. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Tracy

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris, 305 pages, read by Tracy, on 10/26/2014

FIRST IN A NEW TRILOGY

From Charlaine Harris, the bestselling author who created Sookie Stackhouse and her world of Bon Temps, Louisiana, comes a darker locale—populated by more strangers than friends. But then, that’s how the locals prefer it…

Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.

There’s a pawnshop (someone lives in the basement and is seen only at night). There’s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).

Stop at the one traffic light in town, and everything looks normal. Stay awhile, and learn the truth…

29. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense, Tracy

Personal by Lee Child, 392 pages, read by Tracy, on 10/23/2014

Jack Reacher walks alone. Once a go-to hard man in the US military police, now he’s a drifter of no fixed abode. But the army tracks him down. Because someone has taken a long-range shot at the French president.

Only one man could have done it. And Reacher is the one man who can find him.

This new heartstopping, nailbiting book in Lee Child’s number-one bestselling series takes Reacher across the Atlantic to Paris – and then to London. The stakes have never been higher – because this time, it’s personal.

23. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Mystery, Paula, Thriller/Suspense

One Of Us by Tawni O'Dell, 295 pages, read by Paula, on 10/23/2014

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“From the New York Times bestselling author of Back Roads comes a fast-paced literary thriller about a forensic psychologist forced to face his own demons after discovering his small hometown terrorized by a serial killer. Dr. Sheridan Doyle–a fastidiously groomed and TV-friendly forensic psychologist–is the go-to shrink for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office whenever a twisted killer’s mind eludes other experts. But beneath his Armani pinstripes, he’s still Danny Doyle, the awkward, terrified, bullied boy from a blue-collar mining family, plagued by panic attacks and haunted by the tragic death of his little sister and mental unraveling of his mother years ago. Danny returns home to Lost Creek, a town grappling with its own ghosts, and comes face-to-face with the town’s legacy of violence–when a dead body is discovered at the famous gallows where a band of rebellious Irish miners was executed 100 years ago. The body also has an eerie connection to the wealthy mining family behind the miners’ deaths. When he teams up with a veteran detective and father figure to get to the bottom of these heinous crimes, Danny realizes that he’s dangerously close to uncovering haunting secrets from his own past… In this masterfully told psychological thriller in the vein of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, the past and present collide to put Lost Creek’s long-lived ghosts to bed”

22. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Lisa, Mystery

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald, 247 pages, read by Lisa, on 10/21/2014

When Theodora Tenpenny spills a bottle of rubbing alcohol on her late grandfather’s painting, she discovers what seems to be an old Renaissance masterpiece underneath. That’s great news for Theo, who’s struggling to hang onto her family’s two-hundred-year-old townhouse and support her unstable mother on her grandfather’s legacy of $463. There’s just one problem: Theo’s grandfather was a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she worries the painting may be stolen.

With the help of some unusual new friends, Theo’s search for answers takes her all around Manhattan, and introduces her to a side of the city—and her grandfather—that she never knew. To solve the mystery, she’ll have to abandon her hard-won self-reliance and build a community, one serendipitous friendship at a time.

14. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Katy, Mystery

The Round House by Louise Erdrich, 317 pages, read by Katy, on 10/13/2014

42afd0889f68f5933f522791e7e57a34When his mother, a tribal enrollment specialist living on a reservation in North Dakota, slips into an abyss of depression after being brutally attacked, 14-year-old Joe Coutz sets out with his three friends to find the person that destroyed his family.

14. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Horror, Lisa, Mystery

The Dreadful Revenge of Ernest Gallen by James Lincoln Collier, 240 pages, read by Lisa, on 10/13/2014

In the quiet town of Magnolia, someone is a’ haunting, making people do awfully weird things. Eugene knows because he’s being haunted, too. His friend Sonny’s dad walked right off of a building and fell to his death, and then another friend’s dad crashed his car into a tree. The same “specter” that was haunting them is inside Eugene, talking to him, telling him to do crazy things! Along with the help of their friend (conveniently, the daughter of the town’s newspaper editor) Eugene and Sonny pledge to get to the bottom of the haunting.  But not before uncovering a bigger mystery that will affect nearly every townsperson in sleepy little Magnolia…

12. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Mystery

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald , 247 pages, read by Angie, on 10/11/2014

Theodora Tenpenny is not having a good summer. Her grandfather Jack died in a freak accident and she is left caring for her reclusive mother and their aging house. When Jack was alive they were just scraping by with his salary from the Museum of Modern Art, but now they have no income and very little left to live on. She makes due with food from her garden and treasures she finds around New York. Jack was an artist and when he died told Theo to look for a treasure under the egg. There is a painting of an egg in the house and Theo is obsessed with finding the treasure. One day she spills alcohol on the painting and finds another painting underneath. This painting looks old and probably stolen. Theo spends the rest of the summer trying to figure out if the painting is really a lost Raphael and how Jack ended up with it. She finds help throughout the city from a variety of people including the daughter of two actors, a priest, a fun librarian, and a guy selling nuts on the street. Turns out the painting has an amazing back story.

I have become kind of obsessed with the Nazi art looting of Europe and the Monuments Men story in the last year or so. This book really brought that obsession to life in a wonderful middle grade novel. I loved Theo and her determination and resilience. She is a fabulous character who is stuck at the beginning of the novel. Throughout the book she becomes more and more unstuck as she meets wonderful, helpful people around the city and realizes she is not alone. The thing I liked best about the book was the fact that the mystery of the painting was believable. So many mysteries for kids take a huge leap of faith on the part of the reader and this one did not. Sure there was a huge coincidence at the end, but the rest of it made sense. I highly recommend this one. Loved it!