04. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Children's Books, Fiction, Noelle · Tags:

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, 305 pages, read by Noelle, on 12/03/2014

This was one of those children’s books I meant to read when it came out, and just hadn’t gotten around to it.  In enjoyed it, but be warned:  if your heart is tender towards animals, be prepared to shed a few tears with this one!

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home–and his own art–through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.

04. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Marie Antoinette Serial Killer by Katie Alender, 296 pages, read by Leslie, on 11/30/2014

16139598 Colette Iselin is excited to go to Paris on a class trip. She’ll get to soak up the beauty and culture, and maybe even learn something about her family’s French roots.

But a series of gruesome murders are taking place across the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours museums and palaces, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks suspiciously like Marie Antoinette.

Colette knows her popular, status-obsessed friends won’t believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they uncover a shocking secret involving a dark, hidden history. When Colette realizes she herself may hold the key to the mystery, her own life is suddenly in danger . . .

I enjoyed this story more than I thought I might.  A definite first for me, bringing back the ghost of a queen to take revenge on the descendants of those she thought of as friends.  While they did not exist in her real life, it makes for a great storyline.  Definitely will appeal to girls more than it will to boys, not enough blood and gore to make up for the definite female storyline!

04. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie

Sidekicked by John David Anderson, 384 pages, read by Leslie, on 11/24/2014

16248141 Andrew Bean might be a part of H.E.R.O., a secret organization for the training of superhero sidekicks, but that doesn’t mean that life is all leaping tall buildings in single bounds. First, there’s Drew’s power: Possessed of super senses – his hearing, sight, taste, touch, and smell are the most powerful on the planet – he’s literally the most sensitive kid in school. There’s his superhero mentor, a former legend who now spends more time straddling barstools than he does fighting crime. And then there’s his best friend, Jenna – their friendship would be complicated enough if she weren’t able to throw a Volkswagen the length of a city block. Add in trying to keep his sidekick life a secret from everyone, including his parents, and the truth is clear: Middle school is a drag even with superpowers.

Of all the superpowers you could ask for, enhanced senses would not be among them.  Drew not only has, in his opinion, the worst superpower you could ask for, but he finds himself assigned to be the sidekick of a super hero who no longer wants to be a super hero.  He and his friends are all sidekicks for super heroes, and they train at school in a secret basement during lunch periods.  Their city seems to be a magnet for evil super powers and it’s up to him and his friends to try and figure out what is going on.  However, there is a traitor in their midst and none of them are safe.  I can see that boys might find this appealing more than girls, but there is plenty of attraction for the girls to pick this up and read it.

03. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Inhuman by Kat Falls, 375 pages, read by Leslie, on 11/16/2014

13517617 America has been ravaged by a war that has left the eastern half of the country riddled with mutation. Many of the people there exhibit varying degrees of animal traits. Even the plantlife has gone feral.

Crossing from west to east is supposed to be forbidden, but sometimes it’s necessary. Some enter the Savage Zone to provide humanitarian relief. Sixteen-year-old Lane’s father goes there to retrieve lost artifacts—he is a Fetch. It’s a dangerous life, but rewarding—until he’s caught.

Desperate to save her father, Lane agrees to complete his latest job. That means leaving behind her life of comfort and risking life and limb—and her very DNA—in the Savage Zone. But she’s not alone. In order to complete her objective, Lane strikes a deal with handsome, roguish Rafe. In exchange for his help as a guide, Lane is supposed to sneak him back west. But though Rafe doesn’t exhibit any signs of “manimal” mutation, he’s hardly civilized . . . and he may not be trustworthy.

Lane is a typical teenage girl, lots of friends, worried about school and peer pressure.  She and her friends don’t think too much about what’s on the other side of the wall that surrounds their half of the country, but when she is arrested after helping her friends send a drone camera over the wall, she thinks, she learns more about the other side than she ever thought she would.  All her life, her father has trained her how to survive, without explaining why.  After being told that he has been arrested for going through the wall and given the option to go on a mission to save him, she knows why she was trained.  Things are not as she imagined on the other side of the country and she finds herself torn between two boys, one with connections and one with street smarts.  A good start to a series, both boys and girls will find themselves enjoying this story.

03. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Rapunzel Untangled by Cindy C. Bennett, 294 pages, read by Leslie, on 11/06/2014

16225157 For one thing, she has a serious illness that keeps her inside the mysterious Gothel Mansion. And for another, her hair is 15 feet long. Not to mention that she’s also the key to ultimately saving the world from certain destruction. But then she meets a boy named Fane, who changes all she has ever known, and she decides to risk everything familiar to find out who she really is.

In this Rapunzel story, the author approaches it as if there was never a fairy tale, at least from the characters’ view.  Rapunzel has the long hair, she is kept isolated from the world, and she is, unknown to her, a kidnap victim.  Rapunzel is home schooled because of a supposed illness, but she has the Internet to connect herself to the outside world.  She finds herself investigating FaceBook and ends up friending Fane, a boy her own age.  Without any friends, this proves too tempting to her to resist.  As Rapunzel begins to question her loneliness and her life up to this point, she learns more about her mother than she could have ever imagined.  After a while, her luck in keeping her mother in the dark, runs out.

A definite winner for girls to read, it is different enough to keep the reader engrossed.  A good read to recommend.

03. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Tandem by Anna Jarzab, 431 pages, read by Leslie, on 11/01/2014

15829686  Sixteen-year-old Sasha Lawson has only ever known one small, ordinary life. When she was young, she loved her grandfather’s stories of parallel worlds inhabited by girls who looked like her but led totally different lives. Sasha never believed such worlds were real–until now, when she finds herself thrust into one against her will.

If you’ve ever spent time wondering if there was a parallel universe and you might have a better life, this might be the book for you.  Sasha is taken to a universe that isn’t quite the same as the one she lives in.  She is a match in looks to a princess in this other world, but it’s nothing like she could have imagined.  Sasha spends a lot of time trying to figure out how to get home again but finds herself caring for some of the people she meets, including the boy who kidnapped her.  A thoroughly enjoyable story, very imaginative and appealing.

03. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Fleabrain Loves Franny by Joanne Rocklin, 288 pages, read by Angie, on 12/02/2014

It is 1952, the height of the polio epidemic, Franny is 11-years-old and suffering from polio. She is confined to a wheelchair and all her friends have abandoned her. She is bored and lonely and frustrated until she starts receiving notes from Fleabrain. Fleabrain is the only surviving flea on Alf the dog. He is super intellectual and a voracious reader. Fleabrain becomes Franny’s only source of entertainment during her recovery. Fleabrain also has magical powers and is able to shrink Franny or take her around the world during the night.

This was probably one of the worst books I have read in a long time. I pretty much disliked the story from the beginning. I kept waiting for the Fleabrain storyline to be part of a dream or Franny’s imagination or something. The fact that it was treated as real just made the story so very unbelievable. I think a book about a young girl suffering from polio and everything she had to deal with would have been really interesting on its own and something we haven’t really seen in middle grade fiction. However, the entire flea storyline just ruined the entire book.

02. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Kristy, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Specials by Scott Westerfeld , 384 pages, read by Kristy, on 11/28/2014

24765I greatly enjoyed the last book in the Uglies Trilogy. I love how Tally transforms in each book, and seeing her as a fierce and beautiful Special was intriguing. The end of the book wrapped up the series quite nicely. I can’t believe I waited so long to read these books! They are definitely one of my favorite dystopian series to date.

01. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

Cookie Dough or Die by Virginia Lowell, 295 pages, read by Tracy, on 11/28/2014

Olivia Greyson is the proud owner of The Gingerbread House—a quaint shop that specializes in all things cookie—and her best friend, Maddie, is her sidekick, baking up scrumptious treats for their cookie-themed parties. But now they must take a break from baking and turn their attention to recreating a recipe for murder…

No one is more shocked than Olivia when prominent business owner Clarisse Chamberlain is found dead. It was Clarisse who encouraged Olivia to open The Gingerbread House—and she was one of her best customers. The sheriff is ready to call the case a suicide, but Olivia’s convinced there’s a murder to solve.

Then word spreads that Clarisse left Olivia a large sum of money, along with a collection of valuable, antique cookie cutters. Suddenly, Olivia is the prime suspect, with some fingers pointing to Maddie when the local postman falls ill after sampling one of their cookies. If the cookie-loving duo doesn’t find the real killer, their reputation—and quite possibly their lives—will be battered for good…

01. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy · Tags:

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, 560 pages, read by Tracy, on 11/15/2014

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

01. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Horror, Tracy

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin, 334 pages, read by Tracy, on 11/10/2014

When struggling riverboat captain Abner Marsh receives an offer of partnership from a wealthy aristocrat, he suspects something’s amiss. But when he meets the hauntingly pale, steely-eyed Joshua York, he is certain. For York doesn’t care that the icy winter of 1857 has wiped out all but one of Marsh’s dilapidated fleet. Nor does he care that he won’t earn back his investment in a decade. York has his own reasons for wanting to traverse the powerful Mississippi. And they are to be none of Marsh’s concern—no matter how bizarre, arbitrary, or capricious his actions may prove.

Marsh meant to turn down York’s offer. It was too full of secrets that spelled danger. But the promise of both gold and a grand new boat that could make history crushed his resolve—coupled with the terrible force of York’s mesmerizing gaze. Not until the maiden voyage of his new sidewheeler Fevre Dream would Marsh realize he had joined a mission both more sinister, and perhaps more noble, than his most fantastic nightmare…and mankind’s most impossible dream.
Here is the spellbinding tale of a vampire’s quest to unite his race with humanity, of a garrulous riverman’s dream of immortality, and of the undying legends of the steamboat era and a majestic, ancient river.

01. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy · Tags:

Dick Francis's Damage by Felix Francis, 400 pages, read by Tracy, on 11/01/2014

Felix Francis is back with another edge-of-your-seat thriller, in the classic Dick Francis tradition.

Undercover investigator Jeff Hinkley is assigned by the British Horseracing Authority to look into the activities of a suspicious racehorse trainer, but as he’s tailing his quarry through the Cheltenham Racing Festival, the last thing he expects to witness is a gruesome murder. Could it have something to do with the reason the trainer was banned in the first place—the administration of illegal drugs to his horses?

Then many more horses test positive for prohibited stimulants, and someone starts making demands, threatening to completely destroy the integrity of the racing industry. In order to limit the damage to the sport, it’s critical that Jeff find the perpetrator . . . but he’ll soon learn he’s up against someone who will stop at nothing to prevail.

01. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Mean Streak by Sandra Brown, 409 pages, read by Jane, on 11/28/2014

Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears on a mountain road in North Carolina. By the time her husband Jeff, miffed over a recent argument, reports her missing, the trail has grown cold. Literally. Fog and ice encapsulate the mountainous wilderness and paralyze the search for her.

While police suspect Jeff of “instant divorce,” Emory, suffering from an unexplained head injury, regains consciousness and finds herself the captive of a man whose violent past is so dark that he won’t even tell her his name. She’s determined to escape him, and willing to take any risks necessary to survive.

Unexpectedly, however, the two have a dangerous encounter with people who adhere to a code of justice all their own. At the center of the dispute is a desperate young woman whom Emory can’t turn her back on, even if it means breaking the law.

As her husband’s deception is revealed, and the FBI closes in on her captor, Emory begins to wonder if the man with no name is, in fact, her rescuer.

01. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Thriller/Suspense

Chasing Darkness by Danielle Girard, 368 pages, read by Jane, on 11/15/2014

The most dangerous place to hide is in the dark… A tough special-agent with the Department of Justice, and a dedicated single mother to her orphaned nephews, Samantha Chase is unbreakable. Until two women, both from the shadows of Sam’s past, are discovered strangled. For Sam, the most unnerving detail is the eucalyptus branch tucked behind the victims’ ears–the signature of a notorious serial murder already convicted and executed for his crimes. To detective Nick Thomas, the only link to the copycat killings is Sam herself. And when she becomes the target of threats–each one more menacing than the last–his feelings for her just might jeopardize the case. But to understand the killer’s twisted motive is to explore Sam’s past–and a crime she’s spent a lifetime trying to bury…

01. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Mystery

Love you More by Lisa Gardner, 368 pages, read by Jane, on 11/01/2014

WHO DO YOU LOVE?

One question, a split-second decision, and Brian Darby lies dead on the kitchen floor. His wife, state police trooper Tessa Leoni, claims to have shot him in self-defense, and bears the bruises to back up her tale. For veteran detective D. D. Warren it should be an open-and-shut case. But where is their six-year-old daughter?

AND HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO . . .

As the homicide investigation ratchets into a frantic statewide search for a missing child, D. D. Warren must partner with former lover Bobby Dodge to break through the blue wall of police brotherhood, seeking to understand the inner workings of a trooper’s mind while also unearthing family secrets. Would a trained police officer truly shoot her own husband? And would a mother harm her own child?

. . . TO SAVE HER?

For Tessa Leoni, the worst has not yet happened. She is walking a tightrope, with nowhere to turn, no one to trust, as the clock ticks down to a terrifying deadline. She has one goal in sight, and she will use every ounce of her training, every trick at her disposal, to do what must be done. No sacrifice is too great, no action unthinkable. A mother knows who she loves. And all others will be made to pay.

Love you more . . .

01. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kim, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

The marshal's witness by Lena Diaz , 224 pages, read by Kim, on 11/28/2014

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.

01. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Worth dying for by Rita Herron, 279 pages, read by Melody, on 11/28/2014

One man wants to kill her the other will die to protect her.

Just when the residents of Slaughter Creek think they’re safe, a sadistic serial killer strikes. Someone they’re calling The Dissector. Someone who keeps his victims’ body parts as gruesome trophies.

Special Agent Liz Lucas has been on leave, recovering from the trauma of her last case. But returning to find the Dissector will demand extra caution especially with her former lover Special Agent Rafe Hood leading the investigation. The last time the two worked together, passions ran high and Liz nearly lost her life.

Now, even though their attraction is more magnetic than ever, Liz and Rafe must resist getting involved again and focus on stopping this crazed killer. But as the body count rises and the Dissector’s kills become more personal, Rafe soon realizes that Liz may be his next victim.

01. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Melody, Romance

Logan's outlaw by Elaine Levine, 338 pages, read by Melody, on 11/30/2014

Confident and coolheaded, nothing shakes a Man of Defiance—except a woman he can’t resist…

Sarah Hawkins survived capture by the Sioux, but after her escape she faced public scorn. Now, she’ll do anything to start over, and the dusty town of Defiance promises the anonymity and security she needs. Before she melts into the shadows, though, it’s her mission to put a great injustice to rights, and that means jeopardizing her safety once more.

But this time, she’s not alone. Without meaning to, Sarah has fallen under the protection of Logan Taggert, a rough-and-tumble trader unused to caring for others—and yet unable to ignore the tempting, tenacious woman’s plight. Though she refuses to trust him, Logan won’t leave her side, keeping her one step ahead of danger…even as she takes hold of the very thing he never thought he’d risk: his heart.

01. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

In a heartbeat by Rita Herron, 378 pages, read by Melody, on 11/30/2014

A Heartbeat Is All It Takes . . .

With that brief, terrifying phone call, Lisa Langley’s nightmare began again. Four years ago she was the sole survivor of the Grave Digger, a madman who buried his victims alive. Now a copycat killer is on the loose and she’s the only chance Special Agent Brad Booker has of stopping this twisted psycho before more women — including Lisa — die.

Hard-edged and always in control, Booker has never forgiven himself for failing to save Lisa from falling victim to the first Grave Digger. Whatever it takes, this time he’s not going to let her down. Because almost losing Lisa is not something he can live through twice . . .

01. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Melody, Romance

Audrey and the maverick by Elaine Levine, 346 pages, read by Melody, on 11/29/2014

In Elaine Levine’s stunning novel of the American West, a proud rancher and a determined young woman are drawn together in the lawless town of Defiance.

Virginia financier Julian McCaid has put his troubled past behind him. His plans for the future don’t include Audrey Sheridan, the extraordinary frontier woman he met just once. But it’s because of her that he’s come to the Dakota Territory to investigate problems at his ranch. And it’s all the more surprising when he discovers she isn’t the innocent he believed. Now nothing but her complete surrender will purge her from his soul.

If it weren’t for the children she cares for in her makeshift orphanage, Audrey would have left Defiance long ago. Now the sheriff is blackmailing her to distract the man who might derail his corrupt schemes—a man who can offer Audrey not just protection, but a passion bold enough to make them claim their place in this harsh and beautiful land.