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

Interworld by Neil Gaiman, 239 pages, read by Brian, on 11/16/2014

interworldNeil Gaiman and Michael Reaves team up to bring us Interworld, the story of Joey Harker who has discovered his world is one of trillion different earths.  Joey teams up with different versions of himself to battle evil magician lords Dogknife and Lady Indigo to keep the earths balanced.

 

14. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Cats, Fiction, Humor, Kira · Tags: , ,

A Cat's Christmas by Stefanie Samek, 180 pages, read by Kira, on 11/10/2014

indexThis is a sweet get-yourself-in-the-mood-for-Christmas for Catlovers.  There is both humor here as well as stories traditional Christmas tales told from Cat standpoint.  The humor was gentle and clever, Not the loud guffaw and bust your gut type.  I was impressed at how continually Samek was able to riff on the cat humor, finding all sorts
of puns and ways to have fun.  This book includes feline versions of Christmas Carols, treats and goodies for cats, the poem The Night Before Christmas, as well as Dicken’s A Christmas Carol for cats (eg Bob Scratchit).  Some of the ideas really did seem plausible.

13. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags: ,

The Capture by Kathryn Lasky, 222 pages, read by Kira, on 11/04/2014

gallery_owl_galleryRecommended by one of our regular teen readers years ago, I now have the opportunity to read this series.  The Capture starts with the protagonist, newly-hatched owlet named, Soren, spending a few weeks in the nest, before his elder clutch-mate Klud, pushes him over the edge (reminiscent of E. E. Knights Dragon series).  From there he gets captured by an evil group of owls, who snatch baby owls, and imprisoned at the St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls.  Here Soren meets Gylfie a tiny elf owl, and the two attempt to withstand the brainwashing the academy imposes.

 


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

Nuts to You by Lynne Rae Perkins, 256 pages, read by Angie, on 11/12/2014

Nuts to You begins with an author sitting on a park bench. A grey squirrel sits on the bench with her. The author shares her peanut butter with the squirrel and in return the squirrel shares his story. It is the story of Jed, TsTs and Chai, three amazing squirrels who embark on a harrowing journey and a quest to save their group. The story starts with Jed’s capture by a hawk. As the hawk flies away Jed realizes he is not injured and sets about getting the hawk to let him go. Unfortunately, the hawk drops Jed far away from where he picked him up and a long way up in the sky. Jed lands far from home surrounded by different trees and red squirrels who talk funny. TsTs and Chai witnessed Jed’s abduction and subsequent fall and decide to go after him. They follow the buzzroads to the the third giant spiderweb (power lines to the tower). There they find Jed, but they also discover humans cutting down the trees along the buzzroads. They have to warn their own grove about the danger approaching. They know their families and friends won’t believe them so they make up a game to get everyone to move before the humans arrive.

This was a really cute story. I really enjoyed how the author inserted herself into the story; it made you think it could have been true. I thought the squirrels were fabulous characters and all had very different personalities. I really got a kick out of the red squirrels even though I didn’t understand half of what they were saying. It was just like going to a different place where the people have strong accents and are hard to understand; of course they think the same of you. I am sure animals communicate with each other in some way which made this story more on the believable side. I liked that it was more realistic than fantasy. Other than Jed talking to the author there wasn’t anything about the story that made it seem impossible or implausible. Nuts to you all!

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

The Edge of Courage by Elaine Levine, 370 pages, read by Melody, on 11/12/2014

Step into Elaine Levine’s exciting new series of alpha warriors–products of the government’s secret corps of assassins called the Red Team:

Haunted by memories he cannot reach, stalked by an enemy bent on revenge . . .

Rocco Silas has come home to Wyoming after long years as a Red Team operative in Afghanistan. It isn’t easy returning to civilian life, especially burdened as he is with a staggering case of PTSD or hunted as he is by an enemy determined to seek an eye-for-eye–neither of which can he battle until he confronts the truth of what happened one fateful day in the high mountain ranges of the Hindu Kush.

She alone holds the key to his sanity.

Mandy Fielding’s dream of opening a therapeutic riding center on her family’s ranch is almost within her grasp–until she hires Rocco Silas, a dangerous ex-Spec Ops friend of her brother’s. His haunted eyes and passionate touch promise a love she never dared believe possible. Can they confront the truth of his past and build a future together or will the enemy stalking him destroy them both?

13. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Cats, Children's Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Kristy

Chi's Sweet Home, Volume 4 by Konami Kanata, 152 pages, read by Kristy, on 11/13/2014

In this volume of Chi’s adventures, Chi moves to a new home. At first she isn’t thrilled with the place, but she slowly warms up to the idea. Chi meets fellow animals in her apartment complex, and I can foresee that these animals will play a big role in some of her next adventures.

Like the last books, Chi’s Sweet Home Volume 4 was fun, simple, and delightful. These books always put me in a good mood!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

unleashing your inner dogThough this book came out in 2001 it definitely has a hippie or new age vibe going on especially in the art work. I was expecting a more humorous book, but it is more philosophical and about how to have a relaxed, joyful outlook on life no matter what is happening. Mari Stein shares her observations of her dogs’ joy in the every day: eating, chasing a stick, leaping for a Frisbee are all approached with the same open honesty. Dogs truly are nature’s pure examples of unconditional love and loyalty.

12. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kira · Tags: , ,

Cat love letters by Leigh W. Rutledge , 112 pages, read by Kira, on 11/12/2014

This delightful book features collected correspondence between pairs of cats.  Some of these cats are falling in love, some are having spats, some are desperately searching for their loved ones, atypical relationshipsindex 10-titanic-new-version-lolcats column_021_demotivational-cats perfectly-timed-photos-29    – a wide variety of relationships Ian Wilkinson, from Peterborough, UK who has recieved letters from Royal Mail claiming his three-year-old cat Snowball has attacked the postmanIMG_0930 Dear Kitty Paware  images3  9a5d5e3227147d312c34b494b8f09fb4 thumb  imagesfeindex2cat_1751089catured.  Some were sweet, some were funny.  Another treat by Leigh Rutle????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????dge.

12. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Clariel: the Lost Abhorsen by Garth Nix, 382 pages, read by Kira, on 11/08/2014

index2In this prequel to the Sabriel series, protagonist Clariel, is forced to move to the city of Belisaire with her parents.  Her mother is moving to the capital, because it provides better opportunities for her work as a goldsmith.  Clariel hates being cooped up in the city – and is desperate to escape.  She is subjected to having to act properly, and decide whether or not to step into the political machinations.  There is a very funny scene at her first class at the academy – the subject “drinking tea”, where all sorts of etiquette and protocols are to be observed, where the instructor struggles in vain to rein his 5 students in. Throughout the novel, Clariel struggles with doing the right thing versus escaping and gaining her own freedom.  Returning readers will be delighted that Moggett the sarcastic cat-like creature has an extended role.

 

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

The Orphan and the Mouse by Martha Freeman, David McPhail (Illustrations), 220 pages, read by Angie, on 11/10/2014

The Cherry Street Children’s Home is a pretty nice place to live for both kids and mice. The kids have a safe place to stay, nice meals, schooling and a few chores. The mice have an abundant supply of crumbs to fill their larders, entertainment through the stories they hear told to the children and a wonderful supply of art. The Cherry Street mice are obsessed with art and the accumulation of it. They have specially trained thieves who go out into the orphanage to collect art. Mary Mouse has become one the the thieves after her husband is killed. Unfortunately, one of Mary’s missions goes awry and she is seen by the humans. Caro, a young orphan saves her life, but the exterminators are to be called. The rest of the mice are forced to move, but they leave Mary in exile as punishment. Caro is a perfect example of a model orphan. She is helpful and kind and willing to believe everything the director Mrs. George says.

This book has a lot of references to Stuart Little by E.B. White which really makes me want to read it again. The mice of Cherry Street see Stuart as a hero and someone to emulate. I don’t usually enjoy animal stories, but I like how the mice and the orphans come together in this one. There is a lot going on here: baby snatchings, work house threats, blackmail, despotic rulers, murder. I appreciate that it is all written on a level kids can understand and appreciate. I also really appreciate that Caro didn’t suddenly discover the ability to talk to Mary. It made the story more realistic with the communication barrier.

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

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

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

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

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

Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky by Sandra Dallas, 216 pages, read by Angie, on 11/11/2014

Tomi is a second generation Japanese-American living in California with her family on their strawberry farm. Her parents are proud of their adopted country and have taught Tomi and her brother’s to be patriotic supporters of America. Then the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and suddenly their neighbors and friends are looking at them like they are traitors and spies. Tomi’s dad is taken away by the FBI and the family is sent to a relocation camp soon after. Tomi tries to make the best of the horrible situation at the camp. Her mom has to step up and become the head of the family since dad is not with them; she is not the meek Japanese wife she was in California. Tomi and her brothers make friends, go to school and make a life in the camp. They even become friends with some of the local kids. Then dad is released from the prison camp and back with the family. Dad is no longer the proud, patriotic man he was; he is now bitter and angry at America for how he was treated. His attitude makes Tomi question what it means to be an American and how she feels about her country.

I like historical fiction books that deal with eras not frequently covered. WWII is a very popular era but not a lot of books tackle the story of America’s treatment of the Japanese during the war. They were held in these camps without trials or even suspicion of anything for the duration of the war. They had to leave their homes, jobs, businesses and most of what they owned behind. I enjoyed this glimpse into what it was like to live in one of the relocation camps, but I especially appreciated Tomi’s story once her dad came home. He had every reason to be bitter and his attitude forced Tomi to look inside herself and figure out how she really felt. She couldn’t just conform to what her dad wanted her to think and believe; she had to find out for herself. That is a wonderful lesson and Sandra Dallas handled it really well.