12. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa, Mystery

Everything I never told you by Celeste Ng, 297 pages, read by Lisa, on 03/11/2015

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins this debut novel about a mixed-race family living in 1970s Ohio and the tragedy that will either be their undoing or their salvation. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart.

From Goodreads.com.

12. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Kaleidoscope Hearts by Claire Contreras, 306 pages, read by Jessica, on 03/11/2015

91oF5o8n5vL._SL1500_He was my older brother’s best friend.

He was never supposed to be mine.

I thought we would get it out of our system and move on.

One of us did.

One of us left.

Now he’s back, looking at me like he wants to devour me. And all those feelings I’d turned into anger are brewing into something else, something that terrifies me.

He broke my heart last time.

This time he’ll obliterate it.

09. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman, 208 pages, read by Angie, on 03/09/2015

Twig has a secret, a secret that means she keeps her distance from everyone. She lives with her mother in the town of Sidwell where Johnny Appleseed gave her family a rare pink apple. Her mother’s pink apple recipes are famous. Twig has no friends her age, but immediately likes Julia when her family moves in next door. Her mom doesn’t want her to be friends with Julia however. It seems that 200 years ago their family was cursed by a witch who just happens to be Julia’s ancestor. The curse is that every male member of the family is born with wings. Twig’s secret is her brother James who has been hidden his entire life because of the wings on his back. James is getting tired of hiding though and starts leaving the house more and more often. Twig and Julia become determined to somehow break the curse and start researching their ancestors for the answer.

I wanted to like this book more than I did. I enjoyed the story and thought it was really interesting, but I also thought it lacked something. There isn’t a lot of character development for pretty much everyone except Twig. There is a whole plot line involving saving the woods from development that seemed like an after thought to get a character into the story. I also thought the ending was just a little too perfect. Even though magical realism is not really my favorite thing I did think it worked fairly well in this story.

I received this book from Netgalley.com.

09. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Mariah, Mystery, Teen Books, Thriller/Suspense

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry, 213 pages, read by Mariah, on 03/09/2015

Cady wakes up on the floor of a cabin, listening to a man tell someone else to take her out back and finish her off. She has no memory of who she is or why she is in this situation. Once she manage to escape (after some impressive defense skills set off instinctively), Cady spends the rest of the book looking for answers about who she is and why people want to kill her. This is made more difficult as she realizes that whoever is after her is powerful enough to have sway over the police and can trace her movements.

This is a fast, easy-to-read suspense. The heroine is a teen and it might be hard to believe that a 16-year-old is incapacitating people after studying kung-fu for a couple months, but this is a teen fiction. It’s less important that it’s believable, and more important that the hero be easily associated with. Nancy Drew was never that believable either. The Girl Who was Supposed to Die is thoroughly enjoyable. There is a small, romantic part to the book, but, luckily, it stays far, far in the back ground. It’s as if the author knows she needs to put something romantic in to fill a quota or check off a list, but did not want it to interfere with her fast-paced plot.

09. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody K, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Scream for me by Karen Rose, 448 pages, read by Melody, on 03/08/2015

For her exciting debut in hardcover, New York Times bestselling author Karen Rose delivers a heart-stopping suspense novel that picks up where DIE FOR ME left off, with a detective determined to track down a brutal murderer.

Special Agent Daniel Vartanian has sworn to find the perpetrator of multiple killings that mimic a 13-year-old murder linked to a collection of photographs that belonged to his brother, Simon, the ruthless serial killer who met his demise in DIE FOR ME. Daniel is certain that someone even more depraved than his brother committed these crimes, and he’s determined to bring the current murderer to justice and solve the mysterious crime from years ago.

With only a handful of images as a lead, Daniel’s search will lead him back through the dark past of his own family, and into the realm of a mind more sinister than he could ever imagine. But his quest will also draw him to Alex Fallon, a beautiful nurse whose troubled past reflects his own. As Daniel becomes attached to Alex, he discovers that she is also the object of the obsessed murderer. Soon, he will not only be racing to discover the identity of this macabre criminal, but also to save the life of the woman he has begun to love.

From Goodreads.com.

09. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody K, Romance

The unwanted wife by Natasha Anders, 215 pages, read by Melody, on 03/06/2015

All Alessandro de Lucci wants from his wife is a son but after a year and a half of unhappiness and disillusionment, all Theresa de Lucci wants from her ice cold husband is a divorce. Unfortunate timing, since Theresa is about to discover that she’s finally pregnant and Alessandro is about to discover that he isn’t willing to lose Theresa.

From Goodreads.com.

09. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Mariah, Science Fiction, Steam-punk

The White City by John Claude Bemis, 400 pages, read by Mariah, on 03/08/2015

This is the third book in a steampunk trilogy. The White City wraps up a fable that is loosely based on the tall tale of John Henry and the nine pound hammer. In this world, though, the railroad now cutting through America, is part of an evil take-over by mechanics and technology. A black-coated, top-hatted, evil industrialist is using a machine called the Magog to control humanity. Anyone who is too close to where it is in operation begins to fade. At that point, if the infected person tries to leave the vicinity, they begin to cough up black oil and die. The only hope to fight this mechanized evil is the natural magick of Ramblers. They use spell components from nature to work an earth friendly magic. The White City finishes a battle that began in the first book of the trilogy, The Nine Pound Hammer.

I read this together with my eight year old son. I thought it was alright. I have not come across a lot of steampunk that I thought was appropriate for younger children. That seems like a serious lack! The mix of magic and robots hooked my son immediately and he loved the entire trilogy.

06. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Mariah, Science Fiction, Teen Books

The Program by Suzanne Young, 405 pages, read by Mariah, on 03/05/2015

The Program is set in yet another dystopian future, but this time the plague racking the Earth is suicide. A type of death that once was a choice, has become a sickness that affects a large percentage of the teenage population. Worse still, it appears to be a communicable disease. In order to deal with this, governments are turning to The Program. Teens who are flagged with depression are involuntarily admitted to a center which attempts to cure their illness by wiping away any memories that might make the teens sad. The hero and heroine of this book both suffer through the trauma of The Program, but once they are released as having been cured, they fight to regain their memories. No one has ever accomplished this before and they must try while forced to run away from parents, watchers, and government officials who would lock them back up. Sloane and James, lovers prior to the program, not only find each other, but slowly piece together some memories of their past together because “[she] may not remember him, but [her] heart does.” The story ends as they break ties with their family and start running.

I was not impressed with this book. The plot was thin and, as a reader, I really had to put in a lot of effort to suspend disbelief. Important parts, that do not flow smoothly in any kind of arranged sense, are left up to the reader to find some excuse for. Many parts seemed added solely to add a shock value to the narrative. It is a decent book, but if you have a limited amount of time to read, I would not bother with this one.

06. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Poetry

Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Gluck, 71 pages, read by Brian, on 03/06/2015

poetryLouise Glück is one of the finest American poets at work today. Her Poems 1962–2012 was hailed as “a major event in this country’s literature” in the pages of The New York Times. Every new collection is at once a deepening and a revelation. Faithful and Virtuous Night is no exception.
You enter the world of this spellbinding book through one of its many dreamlike portals, and each time you enter it’s the same place but it has been arranged differently. You were a woman. You were a man. This is a story of adventure, an encounter with the unknown, a knight’s undaunted journey into the kingdom of death; this is a story of the world you’ve always known, that first primer where “on page three a dog appeared, on page five a ball” and every familiar facet has been made to shimmer like the contours of a dream, “the dog float[ing] into the sky to join the ball.”Faithful and Virtuous Night tells a single story but the parts are mutable, the great sweep of its narrative mysterious and fateful, heartbreaking and charged with wonder. (GoodReads)

 

06. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

The Forgotten Sisters by Shannon Hale , 323 pages, read by Angie, on 03/05/2015

The Forgotten Sisters is the final book in the Princess Academy trilogy. It picks up after the events of Palace of Stone. Miri and the other girls are ready to head back to Mount Eskel. Miri can’t wait to see her family and become betrothed to Peder. Just as she is about to leave she is summoned to the king and asked to go to Lesser Alva and train three royal cousins to be princesses. War is coming to Danland and the only way to prevent it is to offer the enemy king a bride. Miri heads off to the swamp expecting to find a much different situation than she does. The three sisters live in an empty stone house; they are not educated; they have no concept of what it means to be royal. Once their mother died their support dried up and they are forced to spend their days hunting for food in the swamp. Miri takes up the challenge to get the girls ready for their debut in Asland. This involves more than teaching the girls to read and write; she must also figure out a way to get their allowance back from the unscrupulous headman of the village. Unfortunately, war comes before the girls are ready and they are not safe even in the swamp backwater where they live.

Every time I read one of these books I remember how much I like Shannon Hale’s writing. I could not put this book down. I loved getting to see Miri on her own in an unfamiliar situation. The swamp offered a great background to the story as Miri learns to catch caimans and survive in the mud and the muck. I liked the royal cousins, but didn’t think they were developed as well as they could have been. Miri is really the focus of the story as she teaches the girls how to survive as princesses and she learns how to survive in the swamp. I actually loved the ending of the book and really didn’t see the twist coming. I had other ideas about the girls that ended up not being true. I thought the ending really suited the spirit of this series and wrapped up the characters’ stories really well.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.com.

06. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Katy, Mystery

Dead Red by Tim O'Mara, 308 pages, read by Katy, on 03/05/2015

DRJacket_WebShadowNew York City school teacher Raymond Donne has no idea how bad his night is going to get when he picks up the phone. Ricky Torres, his old friend from his days as a cop, needs Ray’s help, and he needs it right now—in the middle of the night. Ricky picks Ray up in the taxi he’s been driving since returning from serving as a marine in Iraq, but before Ricky can tell Ray what’s going on, the windows of the taxi explode under a hail of bullets killing Ricky and knocking Ray unconscious as he dives to pull his friend out of harm’s way.

Ray would’ve done anything to help Ricky out while he was alive. Now that he’s dead, he’ll go to the same lengths to find out who did it and why. All he has to go on is that Ricky was working with Jack Knight, Ray’s old nemesis, another ex-cop turned PI. They were investigating the disappearance of a PR giant’s daughter who had ties to the same Brooklyn streets that all three of them used to work. Is that what got Ricky killed or was he into something even more dangerous? Was there anything that Ray could’ve done for him while he was alive? Is there anything he can do for him now?

From www.goodreads.com.

05. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie

Chasing the Milky Way by Erin E. Moulton, 283 pages, read by Leslie, on 02/24/2015

 Lucy Peevy has a dream–to get out of the trailer park she lives in and become a famous scientist. And she’s already figured out how to do that: Build a robot that will win a cash prize at the BotBlock competition and save it for college. But when you’ve got a mama who doesn’t always take her meds, it’s not easy to achieve those goals. Especially when Lucy’s mama takes her, her baby sister Izzy, and their neighbor Cam away in her convertible, bound for parts unknown. But Lucy, Izzy and Cam are good at sticking together, and even better at solving problems. But not all problems have the best solutions, and Lucy and Izzy must face the one thing they’re scared of even more than Mama’s moods: living without her at all.

Lucy is a very strong female character and this is a great read for girls especially.  Lucy and her neighbor Cam try to overlook that fact that Lucy’s mom is on the brink of a breakdown and are determined to try and fulfill their dreams of college by winning a robot competition.  Lots of action for boys here, too, as Lucy, Cam, her sister and mother take off on a road trip that they will never forget.  This book reminds us that everyone has a journey and not all of them run smoothly or as we hope they will.  Perseverance and love are the main messages that everyone will take away from this read.  Highly recommended.

05. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Leslie

The Eighth Day by Dianne K. Salerni, 309 pages, read by Leslie, on 02/23/2015

 In this riveting fantasy adventure, thirteen-year-old Jax Aubrey discovers a secret eighth day with roots tracing back to Arthurian legend. Fans of Percy Jackson will devour this first book in a new series that combines exciting magic and pulse-pounding suspense.

With lots of books with ties to the King Arthur legend, this one is refreshing in its portrayal.  Jax is orphaned and living with a guardian he does not like, who is barely older than he is, and he doesn’t understand why he can’t live with his relatives.  He doesn’t like where he lives, his guardian’s friends and he is determined to figure out how to get out of the situation.  Unfortunately, he has inherited his father’s power of persuasion and his guardian, trying to protect him from his destiny as much as possible, does Jax a disservice by keeping him in the dark.  And by doing so, Riley Pendare almost destroys that which he is charged with protecting.

A great book for reluctant readers of the male persuasion, this has just about everything they could like in a book.  It has magic, King Arthur, good guys, bad guys trying to overthrow the world as we know it, a girl to protect, and a teenage boy who keeps trying to figure it all out.  Highly recommended for all.

05. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie

Sojourn by R.A. Salvatore, 309 pages, read by Leslie, on 02/16/2015

Far above the merciless Underdark, Drizzt Do’Urden fights to survive the elements of Toril’s harsh surface. The drow begins a sojourn through a world entirely unlike his own–even as he evades the dark elves of his past.

In this 3rd and final book of the trilogy, Drizzt leaves the Underdark for a life on the surface, or so he hopes.  At first, he again lives the life of a hermit and although the sun makes it difficult for him, he is determined to find his place in this world.  He eventually meets a blind Ranger, who befriends and teaches him what he needs to know about his new world.  Drizzt comes to the conclusion, with some help, that not all deities are bad, and that living the life of a Ranger is what he is meant to do.  Although tragedy dogs him through the first part of the book, he learns his way and finds the place he is meant to be.

A very good conclusion to the trilogy, in my opinion.  While it does leave open the chance for his character to appear in other Forgotten Realm books, it was finished in a satisfactory manner.  I thoroughly enjoyed the whole series and recommend it to anyone.

05. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

Bigger Than a Bread Box by Laurel Snyder, 223 pages, read by Lisa, on 03/04/2015

A magical breadbox that delivers whatever you wish for—as long as it fits inside? It’s too good to be true! Twelve-year-old Rebecca is struggling with her parents’ separation, as well as a sudden move to her Gran’s house in another state. For a while, the magic bread box, discovered in the attic, makes life away from home a little easier. Then suddenly it starts to make things much, much more difficult, and Rebecca is forced to decide not just where, but who she really wants to be. Laurel Snyder’s most thought-provoking book yet.

Description from Goodreads.com.

05. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Teen Books

Circle of Stones by Catherine Fisher, 298 pages, read by Angie, on 03/04/2015

Bladud is a Druid king forced out into the wilderness because of an illness. After wondering in the wilderness he finds a healing spring that cures his illness. He builds a temple to the goddess Sulis in appreciation for her healing. He erects a circle of stones and his people return to him.

Zac is apprenticed to architect Jonathan Forrest who is going to build the King’s Circus in Bath. Forrest is obsessed with druids and designs the Circus to mimic ancient druid structures. Zac is down on his luck after his father gambled away their fortune. He resents his lack of means and being the assistant to a mad man like Forrest. He has to decide if he is loyal to his master or to his idea of who he should be.

Sulis has just moved to Bath and into one of the houses on the Circus. There was a tragedy in her past that has put her in witness protection for the last ten years. Bath offers a fresh start with new foster parents in a new city and a new name. However, she believes she is being stalked by the man from her past. She has to come to terms with the truth of her past in order to create a new future.

These three stories all revolve around the same place but are very different. I thought some of the stories worked better than others. I loved Sulis’s tale and thought the reveal about the tragedy in her past was really well done. I like how her story tied in the story of the Circus and the other two characters. I wasn’t that interested in Zac’s story mainly because I really didn’t like him as a character. I wanted more information about Forrest and less whining from Zac. Bladud’s story was the briefest with the least amount of details. The three characters each had their own style of chapters with different fonts and styles of writing. I was also occasionally thrown by the probably historically accurate spelling, punctuation and writing of the Zac chapters. I thought this was an interesting, different type of novel and quite enjoyed the uniqueness of it even if I didn’t enjoy every part as much as the whole.

05. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie

Exile by R.A. Salvatore, 343 pages, read by Leslie, on 02/11/2015

 “As I became a creature of the empty tunnels, survival became easier and more difficult all at once. I gained in the physical skills and experience necessary to live on. I could defeat almost anything that wandered into my chosen domain. It did not take me long, however, to discover one nemesis that I could neither defeat nor flee. It followed me wherever I went-indeed, the farther I ran, the more it closed in around me. My enemy was solitude, the interminable, incessant silence of hushed corridors.”

In this second book of the trilogy, Drizzt decides that his only way to escape his family and the dark elves way of life, is to live by himself in the depths of his underworld.  He is afraid to interact with any others he meets, until he comes to the realization that he is slowly becoming that which he hoped to avoid.  He decides that he needs to reverse this by hoping that if he goes to the dwarven city and living with whatever fate they decide for him.  He had saved the life of one of them and wants desparately to find out if he is the good person he wants to be.  After living with them for a time, he and his companions learn that his mother has sent someone after him, to try and appease their goddess. Drizzt then decides that he needs to set out again, hoping to outrun his heritage and his mother’s determination.

I enjoyed this book, as much as the first, and it was much faster to read, maybe because the tempo of the book was not as much set up and explanation as it was actual action.  You get to really feel for Drizzt and the fate of his life.  It’s easy to see parallels in real life, to compare what people you know have overcome to be the people they want.  A very good read if you enjoy fantasy settings.

 

05. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Mystery · Tags:

The Mist-torn Witches by Barb Hendee, 326 pages, read by Kira, on 03/02/2015

mist tornTwo sisters living in a small village are barely hanging on.  The elder Celine, pretends to be a seer like her mother (though her mother was a real seer).  The prince of the realm bribes Celine to tell a rich girl that marrying him will be a good choice.  As Celine pretends to read for the rich girl, she has her first real vision, in which the girl is brutally murdered, if she marries the prince.  Will the sisters survive the wrath of the evil prince?  so begins the tale.  This book was much more enjoyable than the 2nd in the series (which I read beforehand).  
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05. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Thoughtful by S.C. Stephens, 561 pages, read by Jessica, on 03/04/2015

91OMupwGzVL._SL1500_The only place Kellan Kyle has ever felt at home is onstage. Gripping his guitar in a darkened bar, he can forget his painful past. These days his life revolves around three things: music, his bandmates, and hot hookups. Until one woman changes everything . . .

Kiera is the kind of girl Kellan has no business wanting-smart, sweet, and dating his best friend. Certain he could never be worthy of her love, he hides his growing attraction . . . until Kiera’s own tormented heart hints that his feelings might not be one-sided. Now, no matter the consequences, Kellan is sure of one thing-he won’t let Kiera go without a fight.

04. March 2015 · 1 comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Mariah

Haunted by Kelley Armstrong, 495 pages, read by Mariah, on 03/02/2015

Eve Levine was a witch who practiced black magic when she was alive. Her reputation proceeded her throughout the supernatural world. When she died attempting to escape a prison for supernaturals, Eve left behind a teenage daughter, Savannah. Most of her time since death has been spent trying to continue to watch over her daughter, though they live in separate worlds. Now, however, the Fates have a different, and far more dangerous, task for her. Eve has been asked to track down and help capture a demonic creature known as a Nix. As the tale progresses, it turns out that Eve was not quite the dark magic practitioner she had been painted by her peers. While willing to cross a lot of lines and stand up for herself among the magical crowd, Eve has a strong moral code. During her job, Eve mends hurt feelings and regains lost trusts that occurred while she was alive. She comes to terms with her new place in the universe and, by the end of her quest, Eve realizes she can let go of the past. The book ends with Eve starting an exciting new future with a job that many might consider the polar opposite of her earthly work. Eve Levine now guards the earth as an angel.

This is the fifth book in Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series. It takes a darker turn than her previous books because of the characteristics of the Nix that Eve is hunting. While Armstrong has always been happy to explore the mayhem that allowing a werewolf or sorcerer to revel in their baser instincts can cause, Haunted focuses on a serial killer. Darker and much more intricate, Armstrong arranges a plot line that brings more mystery and suspense into her fantasy world.