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

The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer Blakemore, 320 pages, read by Angie, on 10/07/2014

Hazel lives with her parents in the small Vermont town of Maple Hill. Her parents are the caretakers of the local cemetery and Hazel has free reign over the cemetery. It is 1953 and the height of the Joseph McCarthy Red Menace where communists seem to be everywhere. Hazel believes what she hears. She is building a bomb shelter in one of the mausoleums and investigating the new gravedigger Mr. Jones. She believes that since the FBI is investigating the local factory there must be other commies in town. Hazel thinks Mr. Jones is suspicious and wants to catch him in the act. She enlists the help of her new friend Samuel who is new in town and has a mysterious past. Together they have to figure out the mystery of Mr. Jones and the communist threat.

I liked this book. Hazel is spunky and smart and a bit full of herself. She loves the mysteries of Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon and wants to solve mysteries herself. Since she lives in a small town there aren’t really a lot of mysteries, which doesn’t stop Hazel. She sees things as she wants them to be in a lot of ways. She doesn’t have a whole lot of parental supervision, but this is the 1950s so maybe parents were a bit more lax back then. I like the fact that this book is set in a time period that doesn’t get a whole lot of attention with middle grade novels. There is also McCarthyism which is not something a lot of kids know about it. It is a fascinating time in our history when there was a lot of fear-mongering going on. While the Mr. Jones mystery wasn’t really that interesting, Samuel’s story was as was how Hazel resolved it.

06. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Mystery, Teen Books

Far From You by Tess Sharpe, 352 pages, read by Courtney, on 09/25/2014

Nine months. Two weeks. Six days.

That’s how long recovering addict Sophie’s been drug-free. Four months ago her best friend, Mina, died in what everyone believes was a drug deal gone wrong – a deal they think Sophie set up. Only Sophie knows the truth. She and Mina shared a secret, but there was no drug deal. Mina was deliberately murdered.

Forced into rehab for an addiction she’d already beaten, Sophie’s finally out and on the trail of the killer – but can she track them down before they come for her?

06. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal, Steam-punk, Teen Books

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson, 378 pages, read by Courtney, on 09/09/2014

Joel has always wanted to be a Rithmatist, but he wasn’t chosen. He still gets to go to the prestigious Armedius Academy and, while he can’t take the courses that the Rithmatist students do, he can still sneak into the occasional class. His obsession with Rithmancy earns him a summer assistantship with his favorite Rithmancy professor, Fitch. When students studying Rithmancy start disappearing with no trace save for some drops of blood, the whole school is in an uproar. It’s believed that someone or something is targeting Rithmatists. The likely weapon is a set of oddly drawn Chalklings that have the ability to attack physical forms rather than chalk lines, the sort that are typically only seen far away on the war-torn isle of Nebrask. Professor Fitch is charged with assisting in the investigation and Joel is eager to help. The artistically-gifted-but-geometrically-disinclined Melody, also assigned to help Professor Fitch over the summer, teams up with Joel as they work to solve the mystery of their missing classmates.

Author Sanderson has created a fascinating and original world where battles are drawn in chalk. A working knowledge of geometry is every bit as important as a steady hand. Joel excels in geometric strategy, but ultimately can do little more than watch from the sidelines. The ability to become a Rithmatist is not one that can worked towards; either one is a Rithmatist or one is not. The setting is the United Isles of America (a detailed map of which appears at the beginning of the book). The Rithmatist is interspersed with illustrations featuring chalk-drawn defenses and Chalklings. Joel and Melody both break the mold of the middle-grade magic novel. Joel has no magical abilities. Melody, while a Rithmatist, is at the bottom of her class. She doesn’t particularly enjoy being a Rithmatist either. She is, however, an excellent artist, which winds up being far more useful than she had previously believed. This book works on a number of levels: it’s a mystery/fantasy/steampunk/action/adventure story. And it does all of these things quite well.

06. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tammy · Tags:

Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh, 302 pages, read by Tammy, on 09/18/2014

The Dane family’s roots tangle deep in the Ozark Mountain town of Henbane, but that doesn’t keep sixteen-year

-old Lucy Dane from being treated like an outsider. Folks still whisper about her mother, a bewitching young stranger who inspired local myths when she vanished years ago. When one of Lucy’s few friends, slow-minded Cheri, is found murdered, Lucy feels haunted by the two lost girls-the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn’t protect. Everything changes when Lucy stumbles across Cheri’s necklace in an abandoned trailer and finds herself drawn into a search for answers. What Lucy discovers makes it impossible to ignore the suspicion cast on her own kin. More alarming, she suspects Cheri’s death could be linked to her mother’s disappearance, and the connection between the two puts Lucy at risk of losing everything. In a place where the bonds of blood weigh heavy, Lucy must decide where her allegiances lie.

True to life descriptions of life in rural small town Missouri deep in the Ozarks.

06. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Short Stories, Tammy · Tags:

The Outlaw Album: Stories by Daniel Woodrell, 176 pages, read by Tammy, on 09/28/2014

I enjoyed this collection of short stories all set in rural Missouri more than any short story collection I’ve read in years. The main characters, setting and plots are fully fleshed out to tell you their story. There is a wide range of emotions experienced as you read these stories. There is tenderness and loyalty between family and friends but also some desperate and psychologically damaged characters.

This is my second favorite book of his, second only to Winter’s Bone.

06. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tammy · Tags:

Tomato Red by Daniel Woodrell, 225 pages, read by Tammy, on 09/15/2014

Daniel Woodrell depicts the rough existence of a three young adults born into poverty in rural Missouri. Jamalee just wants a chance out of her tiny home town of West Table where everyone knows her family history and what side of town she’s from. She wants to bring along her brother, Jason, a sweet beautiful seventeen-year-old boy. Then along comes Sammy Barlach, a young drifter who doesn’t always go looking for trouble but sure seems to find him. The damage this unlikely trio does is mostly to themselves and the novel is full of the harsh realities of broken dreams.

06. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Claudia, Fiction, Mystery · Tags:

The Weight of Blood by McHugh, Laura, 302 pages, read by Claudia, on 09/13/2014

The Weight of Blood

Overview from the Publisher

Missouri River Regional Library’s 2014 Capital READ

For fans of Gillian Flynn, Scott Smith, and Daniel Woodrell comes a gripping, suspenseful novel about two mysterious disappearances a generation apart.
 
The town of Henbane sits deep in the Ozark Mountains. Folks there still whisper about Lucy Dane’s mother, a bewitching stranger who appeared long enough to marry Carl Dane and then vanished when Lucy was just a child. Now on the brink of adulthood, Lucy experiences another loss when her friend Cheri disappears and is then found murdered, her body placed on display for all to see. Lucy’s family has deep roots in the Ozarks, part of a community that is fiercely protective of its own. Yet despite her close ties to the land, and despite her family’s influence, Lucy—darkly beautiful as her mother was—is always thought of by those around her as her mother’s daughter. When Cheri disappears, Lucy is haunted by the two lost girls—the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn’t save—and sets out with the help of a local boy, Daniel, to uncover the mystery behind Cheri’s death.

What Lucy discovers is a secret that pervades the secluded Missouri hills, and beyond that horrific revelation is a more personal one concerning what happened to her mother more than a decade earlier.

The Weight of Blood is an urgent look at the dark side of a bucolic landscape beyond the arm of the law, where a person can easily disappear without a trace. Laura McHugh proves herself a masterly storyteller who has created a harsh and tangled terrain as alive and unforgettable as the characters who inhabit it. Her mesmerizing debut is a compelling exploration of the meaning of family: the sacrifices we make, the secrets we keep, and the lengths to which we will go to protect the ones we love.

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

Hunter Moran Digs Deep by Patricia Reilly Giff, Chris Sheban (Illustrations), 120 pages, read by Angie, on 10/05/2014

Hunter and his twin brother Zack are out to find the treasure left by the town founder Lester Dinwitty. They team up with Sarah Yulefski and look for clues. They are followed and assisted by little brother Steadman. Bradley the Bully and their sister Linny are also looking for the treasure. They keep getting mysterious clues and help from someone. Their search leads them from the cemetery to the school basement and drum lessons to the train station and certain doom. Even though the characters in this book are older, it is clearly written for the beginning chapter book reader. The story is in some ways simple and in others completely uncomprehending. The whole treasure hunt scenario doesn’t make the most sense. And there are certain other things that really had me scratching my head in puzzlement. It takes a bit to find the story believable or possible. I think it is a good series for younger readers but can’t image anyone much older than 2nd/3rd grade enjoying it.

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

Revenge of Superstition Mountain by Elise Broach, Aleksey & Olga Ivanov (Illustrator), 304 pages, read by Angie, on 10/05/2014

The Barker brothers are back in the final installment of the Superstition Mountain trilogy. They and their friend Delilah found the mine in the mountains before it was buried by an avalanche in the last book. In this book they are trying to figure out what the mysterious historical society group is up to. They are back at the ghost town trying to find clues about the deathbed gold of Jacob Waltz and trying to figure out all the clues their uncle left them. The clues lead them to his long-time girlfriend and a plot in the cemetery. They also have to get back up to the mine and return the gold they took before the curse takes hold.

I read the first book in this series but not the second one. I am sure I missed out on some details but this final book does a nice job reminding the reader what has happened in the past. I like the fact that the mystery is based on actual historical events even if the contemporary people are not. I think that lends an aura of authenticity to the events in the books. I also enjoy the fact that this is also a book about family and the Barker family is very present although the parents do not seem to be as aware of their children’s actions as they probably should be. Overall this is a fun mystery series for middle grade readers.

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

Terminal City by Linda Fairstein, 384 pages, read by Jane, on 09/25/2014

Linda Fairstein is well-known for illuminating the dark histories in many of New York’s forgotten corners—and sometimes in the city’s most popular landmarks. In Terminal City, Fairstein turns her attention to one of New York’s most iconic structures—Grand Central Terminal.

Grand Central Terminal is the very center of the city. It’s also the sixth most visited tourist attraction in the world. From the world’s largest Tiffany clock decorating the Forty-Second Street entrance to using electric trains since the early 1900s, Grand Central has been a symbol of beauty and innovation in New York City for more than one hundred years.

But “the world’s loveliest station” is hiding more than just an underground train system, and in Terminal City Alex Cooper and Mike Chapman must contend with Grand Central’s dark secrets as well as their own changing relationship.

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

Windigo Island by William Kent Krueger, 352 pages, read by Jane, on 09/15/2014

Cork O’Connor battles vicious villains, both mythical and modern, to rescue a young girl in the latest nail-biting mystery from New York Timesbestselling author William Kent Krueger.

When the body of a teenage Ojibwe girl washes up on the shore of an island in Lake Superior, the residents of the nearby Bad Bluff reservation whisper that it was the work of a mythical beast, the Windigo, or a vengeful spirit called Michi Peshu. Such stories have been told by the Ojibwe people for generations, but they don’t solve the mystery of how the girl and her friend, Mariah Arceneaux, disappeared a year ago. At the request of the Arceneaux family, Cork O’Connor, former sheriff turned private investigator, is soon on the case.

But on the Bad Bluff reservation, nobody’s talking. Still, Cork puts enough information together to find a possible trail. In Duluth, Minnesota, he learns from an Ojibwe social worker that both Duluth and the Twin Cities are among the most active areas in the US for sex trafficking of vulnerable women, many of whom are young Native Americans. As the investigation deepens, so does the danger. Cork realizes he’s not only up against those who control the lucrative sex enterprise, he must also battle government agencies more than willing to look the other way.

Yet Cork holds tight to his purpose, Mariah, an innocent fifteen-year-old girl at the heart of this grotesque web, who is still missing and whose family is desperate to get her back. With only the barest hope of saving her, Cork prepares to battle men whose evil rivals that of the bloodthirsty Windigo and who are as powerful, elusive, and vengeful as the dark spirit Michi Peshu.

02. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Jane, Mystery, Teen Books, Thriller/Suspense

Game by Barry Lyga, 520 pages, read by Jane, on 09/04/2014

Billy grinned. “Oh, New York,” he whispered. “We’re gonna have so much fun.”

I Hunt Killers introduced the world to Jazz, the son of history’s most infamous serial killer, Billy Dent.

In an effort to prove murder didn’t run in the family, Jazz teamed with the police in the small town of Lobo’s Nod to solve a deadly case. And now, when a determined New York City detective comes knocking on Jazz’s door asking for help, he can’t say no. The Hat-Dog Killer has the Big Apple–and its police force–running scared. So Jazz and his girlfriend, Connie, hop on a plane to the big city and get swept up in a killer’s murderous game.

29. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Eric, Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction

Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix, 314 pages, read by Eric, on 09/07/2014

An unscheduled, pilot-less passenger jet arrives at an airport gate. In each seat is an unattended baby. Thirteen years later, cryptic messages are being sent to these children, many of which don’t realize they were adopted, let alone that they are connected to the mysterious plane. Jonah and Chip have received messages, and are determined to find out why.

The search for answers to the children’s mysterious beginnings makes for a decent mystery adventure. The payoff isn’t quite what I had hoped for, but it certainly sets the stage for many sequels, and adventures through time. I’m interested in continuing, but not with much enthusiasm.

29. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

Lawless and the Devil of Euston Square by William Sutton, 528 pages, read by Tracy, on 09/25/2014

Murder. Vice. Pollution. Delays on the Tube. Some things never change…

London 1859-62. A time of great exhibitions, foreign conquests and underground trains. But the era of Victorian marvels is also the time of the Great Stink. With cholera and depravity never far from the headlines, it’s not only the sewers that smell bad.
Novice detective, Campbell Lawless, stumbles onto the trail of Berwick Skelton, an elusive revolutionary, seemingly determined to bring London to its knees through a series of devilish acts of terrorism.

But cast into a lethal, intoxicating world of music hall hoofers, industrial sabotage and royal scandal, will Lawless survive long enough to capture this underworld nemesis, before he unleashes his final vengeance on a society he wants wiped from the face of the Earth?

Lawless & The Devil of Euston Square
 is the first of a series of historical thrillers by William Sutton set during the mid-nineteenth century, featuring Metropolitan policeman, Campbell Lawless, aka the Watchman, on his rise through the ranks and his initiation as a spy.

Before Holmes, there was Lawless…

Before Campbell Lawless, the London streets weren’t safe to walk.

16. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery · Tags:

The Maid's Version by Daniel Woodrell, 164 pages, read by Angie, on 09/15/2014

The Arbor Dance Hall exploded in West Table, Missouri on a summer night in 1929. No one knows for sure who or what caused the explosion, but 42 people lost their lives and many others were destroyed by grief. Many years after the events, Alma DeGeer Dunahew tells the story to her grandson Alek. She lost her beloved sister in the fire and has always believed she knew who did it. No one was ever prosecuted for the explosion or the deaths. Was it because the person responsible was a powerful man in the community and those in power protected him?

I am not really sure what I think about this book. It is a very short book, but yet it took me a long time to read. It is a meandering story that floats from the present to different parts of the past and back again. It is primarily told from Alek’s point of view, but skips narrators throughout. You are never really sure what is going on or how the different view points will relate to the whole story. I was never really able to get sucked in to the tale nor relate to any of the characters. By the end of the book I really just wanted to finish it and be done. Then the last chapter departed from the rest of the book and basically just told us what happened. So strange. Definitely not my favorite.

13. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Mystery · Tags:

Somebody on This Bus Is Going to Be Famous! by J.B. Cheaney, 296 pages, read by Angie, on 09/12/2014

Somebody on this bus is going to be famous, but who? That is the story of this book. Almost all the action takes place on the bus which is interesting. There are three mysteries to solve. One: who is going to be famous? Two: who lives at the empty bus stop? Three: what happened during the class of 85 graduation? During the course of the school year we get to learn about the nine middle schoolers who are on the bus. Shelly wants to be a famous singer and is very self-centered. Miranda wants to be a writer and a good friend. Spencer is worried he isn’t the genius everyone thinks he is. Jay is worried about his Poppi who is suffering from dementia. Bender is good with numbers and wants to solve the mystery of the empty bus stop. Igor wants to discover more about his dad who is in prison. Kaitlynn becomes obsessed with helping people and starts a fundraiser on the bus to help a family in need. Matthew becomes interested in physics and wins the science fair. Alice is hiding who her family is and what their connection to the mystery of the class of 85. The bus driver Mrs. B also has secrets.

The book begins with the bus crash in May and then works its way through the school year. It is an interesting way to increase the drama as the reader wants to know how they get to the bus crash. This book reminded me a bit of Because of Mr. Terupt with the alternating student chapters. However, unlike Mr. Terupt there doesn’t seem to be a lot of character growth for the kids. For the most part they all end up the same as they started. I was hoping for a little bit more. I thought the story was interesting, but the ending left a lot to be desired. The mystery of who is going to be famous was almost a throw away that negated the rest of the story. It was like oh well we couldn’t think up a good ending so it turns out Mrs. B writes a book. Really? I wanted more details about the aftermath of the bus crash and what it did to the characters, but instead everything is wrapped up in about a page. The book was much better without that ending and could have been a lot better with a stronger one.

12. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Noelle · Tags:

Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh, 306 pages, read by Noelle, on 09/09/2014

“The Dane family’s roots tangle deep in the Ozark Mountain town of Henbane, but that doesn’t keep sixteen-year-old Lucy Dane from being treated like an outsider. Folks still whisper about her mother, a bewitching young stranger who inspired local myths when she vanished years ago. When one of Lucy’s few friends, slow-minded Cheri, is found murdered, Lucy feels haunted by the two lost girls–the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn’t protect. Everything changes when Lucy stumbles across Cheri’s necklace in an abandoned trailer and finds herself drawn into a search for answers. What Lucy discovers makes it impossible to ignore the suspicion cast on her own kin. More alarming, she suspects Cheri’s death could be linked to her mother’s disappearance, and the connection between the two puts Lucy at risk of losing everything. In a place where the bonds of blood weigh heavy, Lucy must decide where her allegiances lie”

05. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

Top Secret Twenty-one by Janet Evanovich, 341 pages, read by Leslie, on 08/31/2014

19004663  Trenton, New Jersey’s favorite used-car dealer, Jimmy Poletti, was caught selling a lot more than used cars out of his dealerships. Now he’s out on bail and has missed his date in court, and bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is looking to bring him in.

Another good book to laugh through, Janet Evanovich has done it again.  Stephanie manages to avoid marriage to either Joe or Ranger, blow up several cars and her apartment, have a run-in with a naked bail jumper and find homes for a pack of Chihuahuas.  Lulu is at her finest, as is Grandma, who is working her way through a bucket list.  Love this series.

04. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Jane, Mystery, Teen Books

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, 359 pages, read by Jane, on 08/30/2014

What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad?

Jasper “Jazz” Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal’s point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

04. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction

The Time of the Fireflies by Kimberley Griffiths Little, 368 pages, read by Angie, on 09/03/2014

Larissa is bitter about the scar on her face. The scar that was caused when she was pushed through the old Bayou Bridge by Alyson Granger and her friends. Larissa and her family have a long history in Bayou Bridge but her mamma doesn’t like being back in town. She is bitter about Larissa’s accident and the fact that her own sister drowned in the bayou when the bridge was hit by lightning. Larissa gets a mysterious phone call from someone telling her to trust the fireflies. Only problem is the phone isn’t connected to anything. The fireflies keep trying to lead her across the bridge to the island where her family used to live. When she makes it to the island she discovers she has been transported to 1912 and witnesses events in the life of her ancestor Anna. She also witnesses events in the life of each subsequent generation. In each generation there is some kind of tragedy and the creepy doll Anna Marie is always present. Larissa has to figure out what it all means before the doll strikes again and hurts her mamma who is pregnant with her baby sister. 

This was a pretty captivating mystery if you suspend your disbelief a bit. There is no explanation given for the magic of the fireflies or how Larissa receives the phone call from the future. The doll also doesn’t really get a very good explanation, but I did enjoy the journey Larissa went on to figure everything out. I think more important than the mystery of the doll and the family tragedies was Larissa coming to terms with her scar. She was so fixated on the scar and her hatred for Alyson that it blinded her to actual events. Once she came to terms with everything things started to become clearer. It was a nice added part of the story. 

I received this book from Netgalley.