23. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody K, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Someone like her by Sandra Owens , 293 pages, read by Melody, on 03/21/2015

Known to the K2 Special Services team as Romeo, ex-Navy SEAL Jake Buchanan may spend his downtime living up to his nickname, but there’s one woman who sets his heart racing like no one else can: Maria Kincaid. Unfortunately, his boss – her brother – has made it crystal clear that she’s off-limits. Jake doesn’t do commitment, while Maria is the type of woman who deserves a promise of forever. Yet Maria finds herself drawn to Jake, the man who stares at her with a desire she wishes he’d act on.

Still haunted by her horrific childhood, Maria goes searching for the father she’s never met and stumbles into a nightmarish experience. With her life in grave danger, she reaches out to Jake, her brother’s second-in-command. Jake figures he can help Maria without giving in to temptation. But some things are easier said than done.

From Goodreads.com.

23. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kim K, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Murder list by Julie Garwood, 425 pages, read by Kim K, on 03/20/2015

When Chicago detective Alec Buchanan is offered a prime position with the FBI, it is the perfect opportunity to leave the Windy City and follow in his brothers’ footsteps to the top echelons of law enforcement. But first he must complete one last assignment (and one that he is not too happy about): acting as a glorified bodyguard to hotel heiress Regan Hamilton Madison. The gorgeous exec has become entangled in some potentially deadly business. Someone has e-mailed her a graphic crime-scene photo-and the victim is no stranger.

Regan suspects that the trouble started when she agreed to help a journalist friend expose a shady self-help guru who preys on lonely, vulnerable women. In fact, the smooth-as-an-oil-slick Dr. Lawrence Shields may be responsible for the death of one of his devotees, which was ruled a suicide. Hoping to find some damning evidence, Regan attends a Shields seminar.

At the gathering, the doctor persuades his guests to partake in an innocent little “cleansing” exercise. He asks them to make a list of the people who have hurt or deceived them over the years, posing the question: “Would your world be a better place if these people ceased to exist?” Treating the exercise as a game, Regan plays along. After ten minutes, Shields instructs the participants to bring their sheets of paper to the fireplace and throw them into the flames. But Regan misses this part of the program when she exits the room to take a call-and barely escapes a menacing individual in the parking lot.

The experience is all but forgotten-until the first person on Regan’s list turns up dead. Shock turns to horror when other bodies from the list start to surface, as a harrowing tango of desire and death is set into motion. Now brutal murders seem to stalk her every move-and a growing attraction to Alec may compromise her safety, while stirring up tender emotions she thought she could no longer feel. Yet as the danger intensifies and a serial killer circles ever closer, Regan must discover who has turned her private revenge fantasies into grisly reality.

“From the Hardcover edition.”

22. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Mariah, Mystery

Small Favor by Jim Butcher, 423 pages, read by Mariah, on 03/22/2015

I am already a fan of Jim Butcher’s writing, and Small Favor is one of the even better stories. The wizard for hire, Harry Dresden, is caught up in a fast-paced adventure from the very first pages. Fae from the court of the Summer Queen begin attacking Harry while he is training his apprentice. Though it is unclear why Summer Fae are after his blood, Harry has upset enough of the Summer royalty to make some pretty good guesses. The Winter Queen appears to be helping the harassed wizard, but her help comes unsolicited and at a very high price. This is all a sideline to the main plot and problem of the tale. Fallen angels, known as Denarians, have come up with a plan that may make it possible for them to bring about the destruction of the world. By kidnapping a little girl known as the Archive, who is receptacle of all written knowledge, the Denarians would be able to wreak massive damage. Harry Dresden must evade the wrath of the Summer Court, neutralize the “help” of the Winter Court, and fight a handful of fallen angels with god-like powers.

Small Favor is book #10 in the series the Dresden Files. Each book in this series has its own plot arc and resolves by the end. However, the characters are well written, well developed, and return in most books. The familiar characters and plot elements which cause character growth make it more enjoyable to read the books in order. I would recommend the Dresden Files to any fantasy reader. Butcher uses tried and true fantasy creatures and adds in new ideas, also. He also has a nice mesh of fantasy and modern crime, since the main character works as a detective specializing in missing items. I would caution, though, that the first book has a very slow start. The series is worthwhile if given a chance.

21. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Award Winner, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Mariah, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense

Doll Bones by Holly Black, 244 pages, read by Mariah, on 03/19/2015

Three friends, Zack, Alice, and Poppy, play an imaginary game that seems to have all the best elements of fantasy. Making their own rules and using action figures, they write adventures that span weeks, months, and years. However, when Zack’s fathers decides Zack is too old for games with girls and dolls, everything changes. Zack is so angry and hurt that he handles the matter by refusing to deal with it. He tells Alice and Poppy that he no longer wishes to play their pretend epics and shuts himself off. The girls are hurt and bewildered. Then, late one night, Poppy and Alice show up at Zack’s window. Poppy has been suffering from evil dreams in which one of the dolls visits her. The doll, known as the Queen, claims she was made from the bones of a murdered child, and she will not leave them in peace until they bury her body in the proper place. Not knowing whether they really believe, the children set off on a dangerous adventure.

Children’s horror is not an overly populated genre, but Holly Black enters it with style and skill. The tale picks up quickly and keeps pace throughout the book. Revelations regarding the nature of the children’s changing relationships are woven seamlessly throughout the drama of being terrorized by a ghost. Dealing with the changes of life and maturity can be almost as frightening as supernatural events. In the end, the book was never too scary, too ridiculous, or too boring. I would recommend it to an older child, probably around middle school, who enjoys horror.

20. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

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

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

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

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

20. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Tammy

Annihilation (Southern Reach #1) by Jeff VanderMeer, 195 pages, read by Tammy, on 03/17/2015

annihilation  Book one of a trilogy. Annihilation is set in Area X. An area cut off from the rest of the continent for decades that has been reclaimed by nature. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

Now the twelfth expedition is entering Area X. This group is made up of four women, an anthropologist, surveyor, psychologist a biologist. The biologist is our narrator and the psychologist is the leader of the group. Their mission is to map the terrain, collect specimens, record all their observations of their surroundings and one another. And most importantly avoid being contaminated by Area X and watch for signs of contamination in others.

This mystery/adventure story is wonderfully written. The text moves you along quickly and pulls you right into the world of Area X. It is different to read a whole novel and never learn the characters names or much about what they look like. This first book brings up lots and lots of questions. I checked with other staff who have finished the trilogy and some questions are answered but not a lot. If you can enjoy reading for the way it is written and pondering about the mysterious of life and our universe then this is for you. If you need solid answers by the end of the series, skip this one.

 

20. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Mystery, Tammy, Teen Books

Inherit Midnight by Kate Kae Myers, 392 pages, read by Tammy, on 03/06/2015

inherit midnight   Seventeen-year-old Avery has been sent to a boarding school by her outlandishly wealthy Grandmother who has raised her. She is the ostracized illegitimate granddaughter of a drunk son and has no love for her cousins or uncles. She rarely sees her father. Now her Grandmother has set up a competition to see who deserves to inherit the entire VanDemere fortune. It’s family member against family member as they race around the globe and solve puzzles from the mines of Venezuela to the castles of Scotland. Since she is under 18 Avery has to be accompanied by an adult. Riley the son of her Grandmother’s lawyer goes along. But is her to help her or just protect his father’s interests at staying employed by Grandma. Is she falling in love with him and further complicating things? If Avery loses she knows she’ll have to go back to the horrible boarding school but is that motivation enough to get her through all the challenges? Who will the one and only heir be? Who can Avery truly trust? And is winning worth her life?

19. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Award Winner, Children's Books, Dystopia, Fiction, Science Fiction · Tags:

The Giver by Lois Lowry, 179 pages, read by Angie, on 03/18/2015

It seems that utopian societies always have a dark side. The community in The Giver is no different; the perfect society is balanced by an absence of so many things – colors, feelings, choice. Jonas discovers this absence when he becomes the new Receiver of Memories. In this capacity he learns what really happens in his community and he finds that he can’t live with it. He has to make changes to his circumstances.

This is a really interesting book and a great book for discussions. There is the sameness of the community, the regimented lives of the citizens, the lack of choice in everything they do and the release of people from the community. I thought Jonas’s story was one many could relate to; he really grew up and into himself in the book. He learned to think and act for himself and as an adult.

I did find that when I finished the book I wanted to know more though. I wanted to know how they created the sameness — do they genetically engineer all the people to be color blind? The colors are still there obviously but the people just don’t see them. How did they get rid of the weather, the sun, the hills, the animals? I assume they have climate control, but they aren’t under a dome or anything so how does it work? How did the Receiver of Memories gather all the memories in the first place? They seem to be from many different people and places and times and at least one seemed to come from an animal (the elephant). How are they gathered and stored and tied to the community? Jonas looses them so they are obviously tied to a place. Lots of unanswered questions!

The ending is also very ambiguous and left a lot of questions. Was it real? Did he live or die? How will the community deal with the memories? Will the Giver be able to help them? Will the community change? And should the community change? Even with all the sameness and lack of choice was the community bad? Is release bad?

19. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

Carousel Tides by Sharon Lee, 432 pages, read by Kira, on 03/19/2015

Carousel Tides Carousel-Tides-shirt5-outlined I almost gave up on this book, while reading the first chapter – but if you persist it gets better, way better.  The protagonist Kate has returned to the beach town in Maine where she grew up with her Gran, her Gran who runs the carousel, her Gran who has disappeared for several months now.  Kate had pledged herself to be a Guardian of the Land, but after she misused the power of the Land and a friend got killed, Kate fled the land, awaiting a slow death (by breaking away from the land).  This is a magical and inventive world, with a great backstory, that slowly gets filled in, as the narrative unfolds.  I’m really glad to have discovered another fantasy author like this!IMGP1751

19. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction

The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher by Jessica Lawson, 224 pages, read by Angie, on 03/15/2015

Becky Thatcher has just moved to St. Petersburg, MO. The family is grieving the death of her brother Jon. Mrs. Thatcher has withdrawn almost completely from her family and Judge Thatcher has thrown himself into work. Becky is determined to honor her promise to Jon and have as many adventures as possible. She becomes friends with Amy Lawrence and Sid Sawyer almost immediately. She also makes an enemy of Tom Sawyer when he tattles on her and gets her in trouble. Becky takes part in a bet the boys have about who can steal something from the Widow Douglas who everyone believes is a witch. Trouble starts when Widow Douglas is accused of grave robbing. Becky and Amy know it was actually the notorious Pritchard Brothers who did the grave robbing and Becky decides she has to find a way to clear Widow Douglas’s name.

This was an interesting alternative preview to Mark Twain’s books. Lawson takes a lot of aspects of the the Mark Twain and Huckleberry Finn stories and gives them a backstory. Sam Clemens himself is staying at the Widow Douglas’ house while his steamboat is being repaired. He collects the stories around him for his future books. I liked the fact that a lot of the adventures Tom Sawyer ends up having in Twain’s books are imagined as the adventures of Becky Thatcher. In this book, Tom Sawyer is a tattle tale and brown noser who has no friends whereas Becky is the adventurer who brings down the Pritchard Brothers. It was a nice twist.

19. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Mariah

A Gracious Plenty by Sheri Reynolds, 205 pages, read by Mariah, on 03/18/2015

Finch Noble pulled a pot of boiling water down on her face when she was a toddler. This left her face horribly disfigured. As she grew up, she found that other children were either scared of her or made fun of her. To escape from this treatment, Finch pulled away from society and played in the cemetery where her parents were caretakers. As Finch pulls further away from society, she finds she can speak to the ghosts of the cemetery. Among the specters, she finds friends enough to support, encourage and complete her. Finch does not feel that her life is lacking in any way. Throughout the book, though, Finch finds herself pulled into the drama of human lives. A local Baptist do-gooder has decided Finch is her next project. A local police officer, who has also never felt right in his own skin, takes an interest in Finch and tries to heal old wounds and create a friendship. Then there are the ghosts who are working through the problems they did not resolve while alive. As Finch helps others, both the dead and living, she begins to heal herself.

19. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Mariah, Teen Books

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien, 362 pages, read by Mariah, on 03/16/2015

Gaia is a teenage girl who is pushed into an adult world, with adult problems, when her parents are suddenly arrested by the Enclave. This coming of age story is set in a dystopian future where global warming (called the cool age) has already scarred the Earth and several generations of survivors have hashed out a new way of life. Gaia follows in her mother’s footsteps as a midwife for a group of outsiders who live an archaic life. Bakers, carpenters and weavers are at odds with technological leftovers like movie theaters. Gaia’s life is fairly happy, despite that fact that the Enclave requires that a percentage of all babies delivered be “advanced” to the Enclave. These children are adopted into Enclave families. Though they will never see their birth parents again, it is considered a privilege because the children will go on to live rich, fulfilled lives. Gaia has no qualms with the situation until the evening her parents are arrested with no warning or explanation. As she begins to investigate, Gaia discovers a less savory side of the Enclave and starts questioning the rituals that have always been a part of her life. Leaving behind a prosperous job and the safety of ignorance, Gaia sets off to rescue her parents.

Birthmarked is neither the best, nor the worst, teen dystopian I have come across since the explosion of popularity in the genre began. The protagonist, Gaia, is a bit annoying in her blind devotion followed by startlingly sudden and inept actions. However, most of the characters are likable and the plot is simple and clear. It is an easy and fun read.

19. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

One Night Stand by J.S. Cooper, 223 pages, read by Jessica, on 03/17/2015

91rUQuQtsFL._SL1500_It was only supposed to be one night!

We met at a wedding. He was hot. And I’d been in a year’s drought.

He smiled. We got drunk.We flirted. We hooked up. I left early the next morning without saying goodbye. It was only meant to be a one night stand. I didn’t want the awkward morning after moment. Not at all.

Then I went home for the weekend. And he was there. Sitting on the couch chatting to my dad. Turns out he was more than just a stranger. Turns out that my one night stand was about to cause a whole heap of trouble. Turns out that it never just stops with one night.

18. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction

The Zoo at the Edge of the World by Eric Kahn Gale, 240 pages, read by Angie, on 03/14/2015

Marlin is a stutterer and has a lot of problems communicating with people. He has no problems talking to the animals in his father’s zoo however. Marlin’s dad is the famous adventurer Ronan Rackham and he created The Zoo at the Edge of the World in the Amazon jungle. The Zoo attracts wealthy tourists from Europe who come to see the amazing jungle animals and wild circus. Ronan’s latest capture is a jaguar the locals believe is a man-eater. Marlin is drawn to the jaguar and one evening while he is talking to it the jaguar talks back. Suddenly, Marlin can hear all the animals talking and they can understand him as well. This comes in handy when he has to save the zoo from his tyrannical, bullying brother, his crazy father and the scheming duke who is trying to encroach on the jungle.

I was intrigued by the premise of a zoo in the jungle during Victorian times. It is an interesting and plausible idea as the world was expanding for people during that time. Adventurers were discovering parts of the world never before seen by Europeans. I also liked the idea of a Marlin learning to deal with his communication problems and the fact that he is bullied by his brother. Talking animals I can do without, mainly because I thought it took away from the reality of the rest of the story.

18. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, 416 pages, read by Angie, on 03/17/2015

Feyre is the youngest daughter of an impoverished merchant. She is the sole provider for her family. When her mother died she charged Feyre with taking care of her older sisters and her father and Feyre has tried to fulfill that promise. One day when she is out hunting in the forest she shoots a wolf. Turns out the wolf was a shapeshifted faerie and she has to pay for his life. She is whisked off over the wall by Tamlin, High Lord of the Spring Court. Hundreds of years ago there was a war between mortals and fae that divided the world. The fae courts stayed behind the wall in the north and the mortals were relegated to the southern most part of the island of Prythian. Recently the fae have been venturing beyond the wall and attacking humans. Feyre finds life in the Spring Court different from what she expected. Tamlin and the other faeries treat her with respect and she is better fed and clothed than she has been in years. She finds herself falling in love with Tamlin. But things are not right in Prythian. There is a blight on the land that seems to be spreading and endangers both fae and humans alike. Feyre has the power to stop the blight if only she would realize it.

I am a big fan of Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series so I was really excited when I saw this new series. A Court of Thorns and Roses is a Beauty and the Beast retelling with a different twist. Maas has gone back to the old story of Beauty and the Beast, but instead of a troll queen we have an evil faerie queen. The beauty is a mortal girl and the beast is a faerie prince. It is a fabulous story with a fabulous set of characters. My only little quibble is that it is marketed as a teen book, but it has some fairly sexy sex scenes with a bit more detail than teen books usually have. Didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the book, but I might be a bit hesitant to give it to younger, more innocent teens (not that I don’t think they get more graphic information elsewhere). I can’t wait to see where this series goes as this book wrapped most of the storylines up pretty nicely; although there is a nice twist at the end.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for letting me read the ARC of this book. I loved it!

18. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Lisa

The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh, 352 pages, read by Lisa, on 03/18/2015

Take two sisters making it on their own: brainy twelve-year-old GiGi (short for Galileo Galilei, a name she never says out loud) and junior-high-dropout-turned-hairstylist DiDi (short for Delta Dawn). Add a million dollars in prize money from a national cooking contest and a move from the trailer parks of South Carolina to the Gold Coast of New York. Mix in a fancy new school, new friends and enemies, a first crush, and a generous sprinkling of family secrets.
That’s the recipe for The Truth About Twinkie Pie, a voice-driven middle grade debut about the true meaning of family and friendship.

From Goodreads.com.

At first I didn’t like this because there was too much telling, not enough showing, but about halfway through it finally hooked me and held me to the end. It had some pretty good recipes in it too.

18. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

No Flying in the House by Betty Brock, Wallace Tripp (Illustrator), 157 pages, read by Lisa, on 03/17/2015

Most little girls have parents to take care of them, but not Annabel Tippens.She has Gloria, a tiny white dog who talks and wears a gold collar. Annabel never thought it was strange that she had Gloria instead of real parents. Until one day a wicked, wicked cat named Belinda comes to tell her the truth — she’s not just a little girl, she’s a half-fairy!
And she can do lots of things that other kids can’t do, such as kiss her own elbow and fly around the house. But being a fairy isn’t all fun and games, and soon Annabel must make a choice. If she chooses to be a fairy, she’ll have to say good-bye to Gloria forever. How can she decide between her newly found magic and her dearest friend?

From Goodreads.com.

18. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa

Seven Stories Up by Seven Stories Up, 240 pages, read by Lisa, on 03/16/2015

In this companion to Bigger than a Bread Box, a leap back in time and an unlikely friendship changes the future of one family forever.

Annie has never even met her grandmother before.  In fact, she’s never had much family to speak of.  So when she and her mother pull into the drive of her grandmother’s home in Baltimore, Annie can hardly contain her excitement!

But when she actually meets her grandma, the bitter old woman doesn’t seem like someone Annie could ever love, or miss.  Until one magical, stormy night changes everything.

It’s impossible that Annie could have jumped back in time. . . right? But here she is in 1937— the year her grandmother was just her age!

Molly is an invalid. She lives by herself, on the top floor of a hotel.  She seems a little lonely, but friendly and fun, nothing like the horrible old woman Annie just met.

Annie entices Molly down from her room, and together the two girls roam. They sneak around the grand hotel, and explore the brick streets of old Baltimore. Carnivals and taxis, midnight raids on the kitchen.  The two grow closer.

But as Molly becomes bolder, and ventures further from the safety of her room, Annie begins to wonder how she’ll ever get back home. Maybe she’s changed the past a little too much.

From Goodreads.com.

18. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kim K, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Trust no one by Jayne Ann Krentz, 352 pages, read by Kim K, on 03/15/2015

It’s no coincidence when Grace Elland finds a vodka bottle next to the lifeless body of her boss, motivational speaker Sprague Witherspoon. The bottle is a terrifying–and deliberate–reminder of the horrors of her past. Grace retreats to her hometown to regroup and tries to put everything she’s learned about positive thinking into practice–a process that is seriously challenged on the world’s worst blind date. Awkward doesn’t begin to describe her evening with venture-capitalist Julius Arkwright.

She has nothing in common with a man who lives to make money, but the intense ex-Marine does have some skills that Grace can use–and he’s the perfect man to help her when it becomes clear she is being stalked.

As Witherspoon’s financial empire continues to crumble around them, taking a deadly toll, Julius will help Grace step into her past to uncover a devious plan to destroy not only Grace, but everyone around her…

From Goodreads.com.

18. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody K, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Concrete evidence by Rachel Grant, 323 pages, read by Melody, on 03/14/2015

A year ago she lost everything. Now she wants revenge…

Accused of stealing artifacts from a five hundred year-old shipwreck, underwater archaeologist Erica Kesling is determined to clear her name. She’s concealed her past and taken a job certain to give her access to the buyer of the missing antiquities. She’s finally closing in on her goal, when she’s distracted by a sexy, charismatic intern who makes her want something other than revenge.

But Lee Scott is no intern. He’s looking for the lead conspirator in an international artifact smuggling scheme, and Erica is his prime suspect. He’ll do whatever it takes to win her trust and get her to reveal her secrets, even seduce her.

As Erica and Lee struggle to conceal their real agendas, the one thing they can’t hide is the attraction that burns hot between them. When Erica’s quest puts her life in jeopardy, Lee must choose between old loyalties and a woman he never expected to fall for.

From Goodreads.com.