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

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, 295 pages, read by Angie, on 11/19/2014

Call Hunt is probably the only kid who ever tried to fail at getting into the Magisterium. Call’s father is a mage so Call knows about magic, but his father hasn’t done any magic since Call was a baby. Call’s mom was killed in the last mage war, leaving only a note that said to kill the child. Despite all his efforts Call does get into mage school and is whisked off to be an apprentice for the most prestigious mage Master Rufus. Along with Tamara and Aaron, Call studies magic and learns to fit in at school. There are the typical school situations, Jasper the Bully, Celia the Crush, Drew the Bullied and of course the unspeakable evil who wants to destroy everything. Call is also given more information about how his mother died, what his father actually thinks of him and the truth behind his background. The last is a pretty big shocker that is definitely going to play out in future books.

I admit that I thought this book was a bit of a chore to get through. The comparisons to Harry Potter are plentiful and this book just doesn’t compare in terms of story and quality. Call is definitely no Harry. In fact, he is an obnoxious brat a lot of the time and not the easiest character to root for. A lot of the other characters just seemed one dimensional and under-developed. The world building is decent, but I thought the magic and the previous wars could have been fleshed out a bit. It is set in the modern real world, but it doesn’t really explain how magic interacts with the world. It seems that normal people don’t know about magic yet there are all these chaos animals out there and there have been a lot of mage wars. Not sure how they keep all that from the general public. This is the beginning of a five-part series; not sure I’ll read the rest but I do hope it improves.

18. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Lisa, Teen Books

Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho, 366 pages, read by Lisa, on 11/18/2014

What if you live for the moment when life goes off the rails—and then one day there’s no one left to help you get it back on track?

Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley have been best friends since they were six; she’s the fist-fighting instigator to his peacemaker, the artist whose vision balances his scientific bent. Now, as their junior year of high school comes to a close, Althea has begun to want something more than just best-friendship. Oliver, for his part, simply wants life to go back to normal, but when he wakes up one morning with no memory of the past three weeks, he can’t deny any longer that something is seriously wrong with him. And then Althea makes the worst bad decision ever, and her relationship with Oliver is shattered. He leaves town for a clinical study in New York, resolving to repair whatever is broken in his brain, while she gets into her battered Camry and drives up the coast after him, determined to make up for what she’s done.

Their journey will take them from the rooftops, keg parties, and all-ages shows of their North Carolina hometown to the pool halls, punk houses, and hospitals of New York City before they once more stand together and face their chances. Set in the DIY, mix tape, and zine culture of the mid-1990s, Cristina Moracho’s whip-smart debut is an achingly real story about identity, illness, and love—and why bad decisions sometimes feel so good.

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

The Marshal's Witness by Lena Diaz, 224 pages, read by Melody, on 11/17/2014

Everyone has secrets. Hers may get them killed.

Breaking protocol and going on the run with a protected witness wasn’t in U.S. Marshal Ryan Jackson’s plans. And even though Jessica Delaney’s testimony nearly put away a crime boss, Ryan can’t afford to trust her. Still, the duty-dedicated marshal will do whatever it takes to protect Jessica and uncover the mole leaking her new identity. But staying seconds ahead of the ruthless killers on their trail is easier than keeping himself safe from Jessica’s unexpected vulnerability and irresistible determination.

Now, as the net around them tightens, Ryan’s deepest loss may be the one danger he never anticipated.

18. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Letting Go by Molly McAdams, 336 pages, read by Jessica, on 11/17/2014

91tgtfeijzL._SL1500_Grey and Ben fell in love at thirteen and believed they’d be together forever. But three days before their wedding, the twenty-year-old groom-to-be suddenly died from an unknown heart condition, destroying his would-be-bride’s world. If it hadn’t been for their best friend, Jagger, Grey never would have made it through those last two years to graduation. He’s the only one who understands her pain, the only one who knows what it’s like to force yourself to keep moving when your dreams are shattered. Jagger swears he’ll always be there for her, but no one has ever been able to hold on to him. He’s not the kind of guy to settle down.

It’s true that no one has ever been able to keep Jagger—because he’s only ever belonged to Grey. While everyone else worries over Grey’s fragility, he’s the only one who sees her strength. Yet as much as he wants Grey, he knows her heart will always be with Ben. Still they can’t deny the heat that is growing between them—a passion that soon becomes too hot to handle. But admitting their feelings for each other means they’ve got to face the past. Is being together what Ben would have wanted . . . or a betrayal of his memory that will eventually destroy them both?

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

Shattered valor by Elaine Levine, 374 pages, read by Melody, on 11/14/2014

Every step leads her deeper into danger…

Eden Miller has her life arranged exactly as she wants it–until a reunion with her high school BFFs places her in the middle of a turf war with a ruthless prison gang, their terrorist allies, and the hunters tracking them. Her every move draws her deeper into the danger surrounding Ty Bladen and his team of terror fighters, but his seductive charm and engaging smile make her believe his promises of protection.

A secret is a dangerous thing…

When the terrorists Ty Bladen is tracking infiltrate his remote ranch in Wyoming, he learns the past he buried cannot be so easily escaped. Though he’s recovering from a bullet wound he received in Afghanistan and is hunted by an unseen enemy, he knows he can’t leave Eden alone to face the danger swirling around her, danger he and his team have brought to her–even if the has to risk letting her near his frozen heart. But when she learns his terrible secret, will she stay or will she run?

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

Simon says die by Lena Diaz, 416 pages, read by Melody, on 11/15/2014

Madison McKinley knows someone is stalking her. The police tell her she’s imagining things, and they’re too busy trying to find the “Simon Says” killer to investigate. But day by day, hour by hour, Madison’s terror grows stronger, and not even the return of FBI Special Agent Pierce Buchanan into her life can calm her fears. Besides, how can she ask Pierce for his help after the way she ended things between them?

Pierce still wants Madison’s love, and his drive to protect her is more powerful than ever. He believes she’s in danger, even if the cops don’t. Finally, as more people start dying and the evidence mounts, the police turn their attention to Madison—as a suspect. Was Pierce a fool to trust her again, or are they both caught in a complex game that neither will survive?

17. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kim, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Shattered secrets by Karen Harper, 400 pages, read by Kim, on 11/15/2014

Every town has its secrets…

Returning to Cold Creek, Ohio, is an act of courage for Tess Lockwood. Abducted and held captive as a young girl, she is unable to remember anything about the crime that destroyed her childhood and tore her family apart. Now a grown woman with a bright future, she is certain she has put the past behind her. But when she inherits the family home, Tess must confront the demons that still haunt her and the town of Cold Creek.

Gabe McCord has always blamed himself for what happened to Tess. He had been a teenager when she was snatched from the group of children he was responsible for watching. Now Gabe has taken on the role of sheriff and hopes to shed new light on the cold case, especially given his growing feelings for Tess.

Tess isn’t ready to recall what happened to her, and she has no intention of digging up any details that might remind her of the truth. But when another child in the town goes missing, she’s certain it’s related to her return to Cold Creek. Together,Tess and Gabe will have to work to unlock their painful memories in order to save another child and heal their damaged souls, for good…

17. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kim, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Tempted by his target by Jill Sorenson, 224 pages, read by Kim, on 11/16/2014

Wanted for the murder of a Mexican drug lord’s son, party girl Isabel Sanborn fled to Oaxaca. Now she owes her life to Brandon Knox, a passing tourist who just saved her from a hit man.
But Knox is no accidental hero—he’s an undercover U.S. marshal assigned to bring Isabel to justice. Instead, wanting to protect her, he joins her on the lam…with cartel goons and corrupt police in hot pursuit!

And as the danger escalates, sexual tension sizzles. For the first time in his career, Brandon considers jeopardizing his mission to safeguard his target. And though Isabel can elude the authorities,she can’t escape her feelings….

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

Explorer: The Hidden Doors by Kazu Kibuishi, 128 pages, read by Angie, on 11/14/2014

This is the third Explorer book from Kazu Kibuishi. In this book the theme is hidden doors and each of the stories explores different aspects of this theme. You have stories about doorways to a mind, a doorway to the giant’s kitchen, a door that makes you cool, a door a boy and girl must enter together, a haunted door, a door into a tomb, and a door that is not a door. The stories explore friendship, bullying, survival, self-confidence and much more. I enjoyed this collection and love that all the stories while by different authors and artists really fit together as a whole.

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, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake by Julie Sternberg, 192 pages, read by Angie, on 11/15/2014

Eleanor is best friends with Pearl and gets to spend several afternoons with her each week. That all changes when Pearl is assigned to be the buddy of new girl Ainsley. Now Pearl and Ainsley are spending all their time together and Eleanor is feeling left out. She has also been given the lead in the school play where she has to sing and she has to hug Nicholas, a boy she may or may not like. Eleanor his having a hard time dealing with all of this and makes a big mistake. She tells a secret she isn’t supposed to know and may have just ruined her friendship with Pearl forever. She has to work really hard to make up for what she has done.

This is a novel in verse that doesn’t read like one. It reads more like a regular book with very short paragraphs. I really like novels in verse so this style made the book a bit awkward for me, but I think will make it easier for kids to grasp. Eleanor is one of those characters that seems to be pretty common right now. She is a regular girl dealing with regular problems like school and friends and boys. It is a an awkward time for girls and she is a character that I think girls that age can relate to.

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.

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

Nightmares! by Jason Segel, Kirsten Miller, Karl Kwasny (Illustrations), 368 pages, read by Angie, on 11/16/2014

Charlie Laird has been having nightmares ever since his family moved into the purple mansion. Charlie’s mom died several years ago and his dad just married Charlotte. Charlie thinks Charlotte is a witch and haunting his dreams. Every night he battles the witch in the netherworld (the land of nightmares). Because he is not sleeping well he has become crabby and mean during the day. He is driving everyone away including his dad and his little brother Jack. One night Charlie goes through a portal into the netherworld. He realizes he may never get back home unless he faces his fears. He has help from a couple of nightmares, Meduso and Dabney, and from his friends who were also having nightmares. Together they must defeat the evil president of the world and his goblin army as well as face their own nightmares so they can go home.

So whenever I see a book written by a celebrity I am usually pretty skeptical. Did the celebrity really write the thing? Was it only published because the person was famous? Is it going to be as terrible as I think it will be? So I had pretty low expectations when I started reading Nightmares! and boy was I surprised when it turned out to be an entertaining read. It think this is a book that is going to appeal to a lot of readers. It has just the right amount of scariness: not so scary it will give kids real nightmares, but scary enough to keep it interesting. I think a lot of kids will also be able to relate to Charlie as well. This is a story about dealing with your fears and facing what scares you. Everyone is scared of something.

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.

17. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Sarah, Teen Books

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley, 368 pages, read by Sarah, on 11/16/2014

  Sarah Dunbar is one of 10 black students that are integrating into the white high school in Virginia in 1959.  She is a brilliant senior, but gets placed in the remedial classes because they don’t want the black students holding their white students back.  Linda Hairston is a white senior at the school who is oppposed to integration.  In their French class, they are forced with another white student to work together for a class project.  How can they meet without letting Linda’s father know that she is working with a black girl?  How can Sarah make Linda understand that the black people deserve an equal shake at education and other civil rights?

This was a coming of age story that was disturbing to read at times because it mirrored the turmoil that was going on during the civil rights movement.  Told alternately from the perspective of each girl, it puts you in their shoes to see how their background and family helped to shape their beliefs.  Pretty good book, but it had some alternate themes that weren’t what I expected.

17. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Katy · Tags: , ,

A Dog's Journey by W. Bruce Cameron, 336 pages, read by Katy, on 11/12/2014

51k21dVfouL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_This book is the sequel to A Dog’s Purpose. In the first book Buddy is a dog that is reborn several times and in each life he takes care of a boy named Ethan. No matter where or to whom he is born, each new life directs him to Ethan and he finds that it his purpose to look after him. At the beginning of A Dog’s Journey, Ethan has already passed away. Buddy still lives with Ethan’s widow and meets their baby granddaughter, Clarity. Buddy grows old and feeble, and after he is put to sleep he is surprised to find he has been reborn yet again. He is reunited with Clarity and knows it is his purpose to look after her, just like he looked after Ethan. He is reunited with her through several dog lives, and helps her through rough teenage years, a difficult young adulthood, and middle and old age.

 

This is such a sweet story of unconditional love.

16. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books · Tags:

Witch & Wizard by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet, 314 pages, read by Kira, on 11/14/2014

Witch_and_Wizard_CoverA fantasy novel by one of the most popular (if Not the MOST popular author – I think he has the broadest appeal).  I’d had such good luck with David Baldacci, and Nora Roberts.  Well this time I struck out.  There was way more freaking out than was necessary and also too much immediate foreshadowing “my next decision was stupid, and unfortunately, so was my next”.  I would think someone like Patterson would be good at straight out telling a story, without so much dancing around with the thoughts of the main characters.  Basically two teens wake up in the middle of the night and are taken to jail, after a new order has been elected into office.  Oh, yeah, and they both apparently have major powers, which their parents explained to them, except they weren’t listening.

15. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Deadpool the Complete Collection Volume 1 by Daniel Way, 472 pages, read by Brian, on 11/16/2014

deadWhat do you get when you pit Deadpool against Wolverine?  A mess.  Deadpool is hired to rub out Wolverine.  Both dudes can regenerate, so how could you win? I dunno, read the book.

 

15. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Brian, Fiction, Horror

Horns by Joe Hill, 370 pages, read by Brian, on 11/20/2014

hornsJoe Hill’s Horns is so much in a little book it’s amazing.  A black comedy with terror, sex and intrigue, Horns has a little bit of everything.  The main character, Ig, has been in a depressive state after his girlfriend, Merrin, was raped and killed.  Ig, develops horns on his head and eventually powers as vows to track down the monster who killed his love.


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