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

Sunny Sweet Is So Dead Meat by Jennifer Ann Mann, read by Angie, on 10/11/2014

Masha and Sunny are back in their second adventure. This time it is a trip to the science fair where it turns out Masha is Sunny’s project. The project involves red dye exploding all over Masha and observing how people treat her once she looks different. Masha of course is not happy about this at all. The day ends up with Masha sneaking through the school and meeting Batman and Robin, Masha and Sunny taking the wrong bus home and ending up at a graveyard, Masha getting lost in the graveyard and falling into an open grave, and of course Sunny winning the science fair. I really enjoy these stories. While you do have to suspend a bit of belief to believe a six-year-old could accomplish everything Sunny does the interaction between Masha and Sunny are very true to life. Little sisters can be annoying but you do love and support them…even if they spray you with red dye!

Susan Marcus is leaving New York and heading to St. Louis, Missouri. It is 1943 and the family is moving so her dad can start a new job. Living in St. Louis is much different than New York. Susan has a hard time accepting the Jim Crow laws of Missouri. She doesn’t like the fact that her new friend Loretta can’t go to the movies, the swimming pool or to restaurants just because she is black. Susan, Loretta and Marlene concoct a plan to fight Jim Crow when they realize that public transportation is not segregated.

I like the fact that this book is set in Missouri and it was interesting to read about the Jim Crow laws that affected this state. Most historical fiction dealing with this time period is set in the South not the Midwest so this is a new and different perspective. I think Susan’s confusion over the difference between New York and St. Louis came off completely realistic. I am sure there were a lot of kids who didn’t really see color if they didn’t grow up being told to notice it. It is a nice message for kids today. However, I did have a couple of issues with this book. There is a lot packed into this very short novel, yet strangely not enough. A lot of the book is taken up with the Jim Crow laws and the issues facing people who are not white. Very little is actually mentioned about the war and the rationing and how this affects every day life. There are a few instances, but you would have thought it would have more of an impact on the characters. I also truly hate the cover of this book and think it will turn kids off. I know you are not supposed to judge a book by its cover but we all do and this one looks too old fashioned for kids today.

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

Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny by John Himmelman, read by Angie, on 10/11/2014

This is a very nice beginning chapter book that teaches kids about Eastern philosophy without them even really knowing it. Isabel is the best bunjitsu bunny and each chapter of this little book teaches a different lesson. While each chapter is about Isabel they are all independent stories and don’t need to be read in order. Isabel is a wise bunny who shares many lessons she has learned through bunjitsu with the readers and the other characters in the book. It is a nice lesson on sharing and thinking of others and doing your best. Lots of white space and illustrations and short chapters so even the youngest readers can handle this one.

11. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Sparkers by Eleanor Glewwe, read by Angie, on 10/11/2014

Ashara is a place ruled by magic. The powerful kasiri wield the magic and have all the power. The magicless halani are relegated to subservient positions and living in slums. Marah Levi is a 14 year old halani girl who dreams of a better life. She wants to study music in secondary school, but she also has a passion for books and languages. It is through her love of obscure languages that she meets Azariah a kasiri boy who also enjoys languages. Together they start exploring ancient books in a forgotten language. All the while a plague starts ravaging their city. The plague turns people’s eyes black and kills them. So far no cure has been found and the powerful kasiri government doesn’t seem to be doing much about it. Marah and Azariah stumble upon the cure and the cause of the plague in the book they are studying. Together they set out to create the cure and save those they love.

This is an interesting book. Because it is set in another land with magic it is able to make quite a few comments on racism and elitist governments. It is pretty heavy stuff for a middle grade book. The kasiri are the minority in Ashara, but wield all the power over the halani. Anytime the halani try to stand up for themselves they are labeled subversive and either killed or sent to prison. It is very reminiscent of some places and periods of history in our own world. I enjoyed the story and the quest Marah and Azariah take in order to figure out the cure for the black eyes plague but at times I felt the story almost took a backseat to the political/social commentary. I am sure a lot of that message will go over the heads of the intended readers so I wish the story would have been just a bit stronger.

11. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Stay by Karyn Lawrence, read by Melody, on 10/11/2014

A gunshot rings out and interrupts Laurel Hayward’s first steps on stage as a professional dancer, and witnessing an assassination is just the beginning of her horrific night. The ruthless killer is determined to either have her or to silence her, landing Laurel in the protective custody of Deputy U.S. Marshal Jason Dunn.

His cocky, indifferent attitude gets under her skin, but worse yet, there’s undeniable attraction. Jason can claim he’s not interested in her all he wants but once he’s got her tucked away in a safe house his actions say otherwise.

She needs his help to stay alive and he needs her to catch the killer that has eluded him for years. Forced together and on the run, the attraction flares out of control and develops into more just as the obsessed killer comes for Laurel . . . and threatens to destroy everything.

unwrittenOrpheus in the Underworld is the 8th volume of a critically series.  Tommy ventures into the land of the dead to ue Lizzie.  During his journey, Tommy finds more than he expected.

 

10. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Katy, Science Fiction · Tags:

The Good, the bad, and the Goofy by Jon Scieszka, read by Katy, on 10/10/2014

9780670843800_xlgThis is the third book in the Time Warp Trio series. While enjoying a western on television, Fred, Joe, and Sam are transported back to the old west after reciting a spell. Based on knowledge from their previous time travel adventures, they know the only way they can get back to current day is by locating their magical book in the Wild West. They have some close calls with a flood, stampedes, and almost get scalped! They manage to survive by finding the book and using a Time Freezer spell to get themselves out of a dangerous situation and back to the present day.

I don’t read many juvenile books but I thought this was cute and had good illustrations.

10. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Graphic Novel · Tags:

Coffin Hill by Caitlin Kittredge, read by Brian, on 10/10/2014

coffinCoffin Hill is a graphic novel about Eve Coffin, a young witch who must confront the secrets of her families past to solve a modern disappearance.

 

10. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Jessica, Romance

Stepbrother Dearest by Penelope Ward, read by Jessica, on 10/10/2014

91F-ojYyF8L._SL1500_You’re not supposed to want the one who torments you.

When my stepbrother, Elec, came to live with us my senior year, I wasn’t prepared for how much of a jerk he’d be.

I hated that he took it out on me because he didn’t want to be here.
I hated that he brought girls from our high school back to his room.
But what I hated the most was the unwanted way my body reacted to him.

At first, I thought all he had going for him were his rock-hard tattooed abs and chiseled face. But things started changing between us, and it all came to a head one night.

Then, just as quickly as he’d come into my life, he was gone back to California.

It had been years since I’d seen Elec.

When tragedy struck our family, I’d have to face him again.

And holy hell, the teenager who made me crazy was now a man that drove me insane.

I had a feeling my heart was about to get broken again.

index mq1 20101218-Dear Tabby get-attachment deartabby dear-tabby-header-jan-14-2013Another book by Leigh Rutledge.  This one is a Dear Abby type series of letters that cats (& 1 dog), have written in to Dear Tabby.  Tabby answers a range of questions from how to get your humans to change the stupid funny name they’ve given the cat, to love of birds.  Rutledge, seems familiar with the types of letters that might get written in to an editor, including portraying diverse reactions to a given topic.  Dear Tabby is above all funny, with sharp sarcasm ending most replies.  Now on to find more cat titles by Rutledge.

09. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Katy, Memoirs

The Big Tiny: a Built-It-Myself Memoir by Dee Williams, read by Katy, on 10/08/2014

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After being diagnosed with a heart condition, Dee Williams decided to downsize and de-clutter her life, and build a tiny house to live in. This is the story of how she designed and built the house, and the benefits and difficulties of living a minimalist lifestyle.

09. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, read by Kira, on 10/03/2014

emp imagesssThis was a delightful, enjoyable read.  It is the tale of an old jinni, released from his flask after 1000’s of years imprisonment.  He is released by a tinsmith in New York at the turn of the century in New York.  At the same time, a golem created to be the wife of a ship passenger who dies en route to New York, struggles to pass as human in New York in a nearby neighborhood.   I really enjoyed this tale of historical fiction with a touch of magic.  You get a lot of backstory on several of the characters.  I heartily recommend this title. golemandjinni_pbk  772720 istock_000009314476small.jpg NOL-Read-Sliders-The-Golem-and-the-Jinniimages

09. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

The Vanishing Coin by Kate Egan, Eric Wight (Illustrations), Magician Mike Lane, read by Angie, on 10/09/2014

Mike is always getting in trouble, not because he is a bad kid but because he just can’t sit still. The first week of school he is sent to the principal’s office twice! He and new girl Nora have to spend every afternoon together this year too. Nora is smart and good at everything. One day they find The White Rabbit magic shop and Mike discovers he is good at something too. Mr. Zerlin challenges Mike and Nora to a riddle and only Mike can figure it out. Mr. Zerlin teaches Mike a magic trick. Soon Mike is learning tricks on his own and doing great. He still isn’t doing that well at school, but the magic gives him the strength to stand up to bully Jackson.

This is a fun book that I am sure kids will enjoy whether they like magic or not. I do wish there was a bit more resolution to the story though. It seems to end abruptly which I guess is to get the reader interested in the next book in the series. I also think Mike’s problems could have been handled better by his parents. They are present during the book but don’t seem to take a lot of interest in Mike. It does have a good message about finding what you are good at and standing up to bullies.

09. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction

What the Moon Said by Gayle Rosengren, read by Angie, on 10/09/2014

Esther’s mom is extremely superstitious. Any little thing can be bad or good luck. Esther never knows when she is going to do something wrong and it seems like her mom doesn’t love her like she does the other kids or like other moms love their kids. Esther never gets hugs and kisses or “I love yous”. She is always trying to think of ways to earn her mom’s love. It is the height of the Depression and things are not looking good in Chicago. When Esther’s dad loses his job, the family decides to buy a farm in Wisconsin and start over. Esther loves the farm and all the animals. She has made a new friend and likes the community. However, her new friend has a mole on her face which to Esther’s mom means she has been marked. She tells Esther they can’t be friends anymore. Esther can’t obey her mom in this as Bethany is her best friend and so very nice. Esther wonders if her mom could be wrong for once about the signs.

This is a nice story about a girl living in the 1930s depression. I liked the story of surviving on less and learning to appreciate what you have. I think the heart of the story is really Esther trying to understand her mom and learning to live with the restrictions her mom’s superstitions place on the family. It is a gentle and slower story than many that are written today; more heart than action.

09. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kira

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, read by Kira, on 10/05/2014

This is the story of Alma Whiteacre a scientist of moss and evolution.  It starts with her father’s life, an unscrupulous lad, who starts prospering by stealing botanicals. byss42134 2dsafdsafasdfdetail-of-tahitian-man-from-man-with-an-axe-by-paul-gauguin2165949indexs29kingsolver-final-articleLarge4 His life is interesting, though he is not a likeable character.    The next 3 segments of the book cover Alma’s life, a very intellectual but very lonely life.  Her mother and secondary mother figure, are all about being tough, and stoic.  Her father is pretty self-centered, and behaves however he pleases.  An interesting, if uneven read.

09. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Jessica, Paranormal, Thriller/Suspense

Edan by Jamie McGuire, read by Jessica, on 10/08/2014

41l705K7mGLShe had seen the unspeakable. She would learn the unknowable. Now, she would fight the invincible. In the third and final installment of the Providence series, Nina Grey will marry the wrong man, carry the child that was never supposed to be born, and fight a war she can’t win. Faced with the impossible task of protecting his new wife and unborn child against the throes of Hell, Jared Ryel is allowed no mistakes. Pressured to return the Naissance de Demoniac to Jerusalem, he revisits St. Ann’s to learn the answers were in front of him all along. Together, they must survive long enough to let their child save them – and the world.

08. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

The Magician's Boy by Susan Cooper , read by Lisa, on 10/07/2014

Only a child can find the way to bring Saint George back to the play.

The Boy works for the Magician, and he wants more than anything to learn magic. But the Magician always says, “Not yet, Boy. Not till the time is right.” So the Boy has to be content with polishing the Magician’s wand, taking care of the rabbits the Magician pulls out of hats, and doing his favorite job: operating the puppets for the play Saint George and the Dragon, which the Magician always performs as part of his act.

Until one day the Saint George puppet disappears, and the angry Magician hurls the Boy into the strange Land of Story to find Saint George. His quest is full of adventures with oddly familiar people, from the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe to the Giant at the top of Jack’s beanstalk. But the Boy’s last adventure is the most amazing of all — and changes his life forever.

08. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Avengers, Vol. 2: The Last White Event by Jonathan Hickman, read by Brian, on 10/08/2014

avengersThe Avengers must face off against an enemy from another universe.  This volume also shows us some hidden connections between the Avengers and the New Avengers.

 

08. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer Blakemore, 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.

08. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance

Opal's Jubilee by Leslie Lynch, read by Melody, on 10/07/2014

Fresh out of prison after twelve years, Opal McBride must find a job in order to meet parole requirements. Failure means she’ll serve out the remainder of her sentence behind bars. The system has seen fit to drop her in Louisville, Kentucky, a far cry from her hometown of Jubilee in the Appalachian hollows. Scrambling to adapt, Opal finds more than a potential job in May Boone’s quilt shop; she finds acceptance and perhaps even friendship.

That is, until May’s son recognizes her. A detective, Josh Boone is not about to let a felon work for his soft-hearted mother. Though Opal’s crime was against a sheriff’s deputy, his innate sense of decency prods him to break ranks and defend her from the disdain of his fellow officers. Then he finds she may have light to shed on a cold case—and discovers there is more to Opal’s story than it seems.

Josh risks his professional reputation (and his heart) as he digs into Opal’s past. When secrets are exposed, will justice prevail? Will Opal and Josh find redemption—and maybe even love—where they least expect it?