23. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira

Hunted by Maggie Stiefvater , read by Kira, on 08/23/2014

I love Maggie Stiefvater’s work.  So when I discovered that she had written one of the stories in the Spirit Animal series, I had to read it.  In the series, some individuals are able to bond with animals at their 11th birthday.  4 young children have bonded not just with any animals but with the great beasts from the legends.  Abeke has bonded with a leopard, Connor a shepherd boy bonded with a giant wolf, Meillinthb82245f4ab30dd370f3e95ec7e3954eeeeth kh Animal Spirit Guides 2-T 9th rrth bonded with a giant Panda, and Rollan a street urchin bonds with a falcon.llth eth the This was a fast-paced  enjoyable story.

23. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books · Tags: , ,

Bras & Broomsticks by Sarah Mlynowski, read by Kira, on 08/22/2014

home_hdrbras-and-broomsticks-sound41eB3vGFWRL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_   9789892310312 Cute story.  Protagonist Rachel learns her younger sister is transitioning into witch powers.  Rachel pressures her younger sister to use her magic for things like making Rachel more popular, getting their dad to Not marry the Stepmonster… Problems are neatly wrapped up, with authentic relationships the prize.home_nav_spellsimages

22. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

The Smartest Kids in the World : and How they Got that Way by Amanda Ripley, read by Kira, on 08/22/2014

on-the-shelfPISA 2009ChartQuoteTime Magazine journalist, Amanda Ripley, examines the superpowers of education thru the stories of 3 American foreign exchange students.  Kim goes to Finland, Tom to Poland,screen shot 2013-12-03 at 5.29.16 am and Eric to South Korea.    She asks why do US students continue to lag behind other developed countries.

So, do you think parental involvement with extracurricular activities helps children in school? actually there is a slight negative correlation with parental extracurricular involvement and children’s education scores.  However, reading to your kids, or reading at home (books, magazines) and discussing books, social issues, etc with your kids, is associated with higher educational scores.

 

Why is education so uforeign_exchange1nder-valued in the US? and whyAugust 8 I phone, last of Korea, Groths 987 d9789863204275oes this field get so mdownload (3)uch more respect in other developed score-testscountries?  Why do we as Americans think Mathematics is really an optional topic.   An interesting example was of the Bama pie making factory.  They couldn’t find smart enough people to work in their factory, so they opened another factory in Poland (okay, they can probably get skilled and cheap labor there).  Another example, was that even Head of Maintenance jobs require a fair amount of skill these days.  One needs to be able to be able to read blue-prints, perform applied mathematical equations, motivate subordinates, and communicate well, including writing reports.

I wish she has examined the effect of students studying in groups.  I had one prof who clearly believed in it, and it was a practice that I took up, finding other motivated students to study with.

She claims to only be transmitting information, and letting the reader decide, but she does seem to have a something of political agenda (though it is neither right nor left).  She advocates stronger requirements for both teachers (of which we seem to have a plethora) and for students to pass classes.  She dismisses technology and gadgets.

22. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, How To's, NonFiction · Tags:

Twitter for Dummies by Laura Fitton, read by Brian, on 08/19/2014

twitterTwitter for Dummies is all encompassing book on Twitter.   Twitter is used by millions of people around the World to communicate with each other.  From the casual friends to use in the business sector Twitter is a hit and this book tells you the ins and outs of the media.

 

21. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Marsha, Memoirs, NonFiction, True Crime · Tags: ,

Last Day On Earth: a portrait of the NIU school shooter by David Vann, read by Marsha, on 08/21/2014

Hard to read, but absolutely fascinating, this book not only tells the story of a school shooter, but also is written by someone who considered it before his life got turned around.  The parallels between Vann and Kazmierczak’s early lives are staggering.  The line between mass murder and living a normal life is surprisingly easy to cross, a point brought up by the author.  Anyone interested in true crime, psychology, sociology and related fields will find this book difficult to put down.  It brings a very human element to a seemingly otherworldly type of crime.  Very informative.

21. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Crafts, How To's, Marsha, NonFiction · Tags:

Dreamscapes: creating magical angel, fairy, and mermaid worlds in watercolor by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, read by Marsha, on 08/19/2014

download (1)This is a fantastic book for the beginning fantasy watercolorist with information on faces, hands, feet, and everything in between.  It also has beginning watercolor instruction for those not well-versed in it already.  I absolutely loved this book and plan to add it to my personal collection soon.  It was exactly what I was looking for!

21. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Crafts, How To's, Marsha, NonFiction · Tags:

Fantasy Art for Beginners: create fantasy beings step-by-step by Jon Hodgson, read by Marsha, on 08/12/2014

indexThis is a great book especially for those wanting to begin with oils, acrylics, or digital media.  Watercolorists would have to adapt the shades of the washes from lightest to darkest.  Hodgson lays it all out step-by-step as the title implies, instructing the artist on drawing out and painting fantasy characters and backgrounds.  He walks the artist through six different paintings, all using various methods, creatures, and poses.  A good reference to keep on hand as well.  Just wished it was geared a little more for watercolor too.

21. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Crafts, Marsha, NonFiction · Tags: ,

10 Secrets of the Laidback Knitters by Vicki Stiefel and Lisz Souza, read by Marsha, on 08/03/2014

downloadA fun read for knitters everywhere.  While the secrets are not necessarily new revelations to those of us knitting for awhile, the book brings humor and good-hearted advice to the craft.  Some of the patterns are truly delightful and I can’t wait to knit them up.  I ended up adding this book to my personal collection because I just enjoyed it that much.  Sit back with a cuppa and read Stiefel and Souza.  You won’t regret it.

21. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Crafts, Marsha, NonFiction · Tags:

Joy of Scrapbooking by Lisa Bearnson and Gayle Humpherys, read by Marsha, on 08/02/2014

This is nice for beginning scrapbookers as it gives a list of essential tools one needs to begin this craft.  It is also good for intermediate scrappers because the book contains a refresher course on some of the techniques for scrapping as well as pages and pages of inspiration.  This is the updated and expanded edition that came out a decade after the original and it has so much more as well as updated pages for inspiration since tools and techniques have changed somewhat.  A great reference for anyone to have on hand!

20. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, How To's, Informational Book, NonFiction · Tags:

Twitter Book by Tim O'Reilly, read by Brian, on 08/19/2014

twitterWant to learn how to use Twitter?  Tim O’Reilly gives a fun and easy to read book on how to use the 140 character social media tool.   This book is useful if you are a casual user or wanting to promote your busy.

 

19. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Science Fiction, Teen Books, Teen Books · Tags: ,

Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves., read by Kira, on 08/19/2014

interworld-by-neil-gaiman-and-michael-reaves Inter_World917 itrs 8dd7103b2bb3074baa5d7ad59f963f3a Interworld-neil-gaiman-1548448-258-410 interwrld Interworld_by_Neil_Gaiman_and_Michael_Reaves_200_312 50130_interworldThe setting is the Multiverse or all the different possible versions of realities our world could have taken. Two factions at opposite ends of the multiverse continuum are fighting for supremacy, destroying worlds with impunity.

In our world Joey Harker takes a wrong turn, and first winds up in a world very similar to our own, except that his mother has a fake arm, and her offspring is a girl Josephine, who looks very much like him, just a female version.  In the next world, it turns out he drowned in the river a couple years ago, instead of having a close brush with death, and getting a huge lecture from his father on water safety.  Another look-alike Joe Harker look-alike J is sent to rescue Joey Harker before the warring factions can use his soul for energy in their never-ending war.  The Joe Harker look-alikes vary widely from girls with wings, to cyborgs with implants.  This was a quick and enjoyable read.  It leaves room for a sequel.  Lastly, I liked the mudluff sidekick.

Adolf Eichmann was a Nazi commander in charge of emptying Europe of its Jews. He commanded the transportation of Jews from their homes to the ghettos to the camps and to their extermination. He was an essential part of the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem. At the end of WWII, he escaped Germany and ended up in Buenos Ares, Argentina. He lived there in freedom for 15 years before he was identified by a local girl and her Jewish father. Israel was contacted and soon a team of Mossad agents where in Buenos Ares with a plan to capture Eichmann and bring him back to Israel to stand trial. This is their story. It is a compelling story of how the Israelis tracked down Eichmann, confirmed his identity, captured him, and secreted him out of Argentina. The trial of Adolf Eichmann brought the story of the Holocaust into the public consciousness. Survivors were able to tell their stories and the world was ready to listen. This trial was a turning point in the story of the Jews. It is a powerful story and one I hadn’t heard before. Definitely worth the read.

16. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Fiction, Humor, Kira, NonFiction

Diary of a Mad Diva by Joan Rivers, read by Kira, on 08/15/2014

Wow! If you think Tina Fey’s humor is scathing, you need to check out Joan Rivers.  I’d heard snippets of her on TV years ago, and didn’t think she was all that much.  But I heard another snippet more recently and all I can say is OUCH!  Well, I do find her funny, well mostly, some of her numbers are pretty harsh.  But she does direct a lot of the really nasty stuff at herself.  And by nasty I mean in both senses of the word, more offensive terminology and raunchy scenes than perhaps anyone else (though often I can’t understand the words of some of the raunchier comics, so I don’t bother).  She is entirely shameless and unapologetic.  51tATqwNyvL._SL500_AA300_PIaudible,BottomRight,13,73_AA300_Joan-Rivers-4

15. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Fiction, Kira, Memoirs, NonFiction · Tags:

Bossypants by Tina Fey., read by Kira, on 08/14/2014

Another downloadable title, that wouldn’t have been my first choice of something to read, but hey it was available and looked interesting.  It was a bit slow to start and I put it down, then didn’t have anything else on my tablet, came back to it, and it got better.  She details her life and experiences infused with her social commentary humor.The best piece was her SNL skit as Sarah Pallin, so funny!tfey downloadSNL_Palin_Clinton

The Venus Fixers is the story of the monuments men in Italy. If you have read and enjoyed The Monuments Men by Robert Edsel then you will probably enjoy this one. Whereas The Monuments Men was very much the story of the the looted artwork from France and the treasure hunt to find it, this is the story of how the Venus Fixers were on the front lines trying to save monuments and art as soon as they are destroyed. It is the story of Florence and the terrible price that city paid during WWII. It is the story of the Italian superintendents who worked within and around the fascist government and the Nazis to protect their treasurers. It is a fascinating look at a fascinating time of history. 

12. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Graphic Book, History, NonFiction

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman, read by Angie, on 08/11/2014

Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman and his experiences during World War II. His son Art listens to the story in order to create this book. Along the way we learn not only what happened to Vladek before the war and how he met his with Anja, but also during the war and after they came to America. Vladek’s story is not dissimilar to other Holocaust survivors in that he survived and most of those he knew did not. He was very good at working the system and always finding the best possible way to survive. His story of survival is at times hard to read but not as hard has his present life. Vladek as an old man has lost the confidence and gusto he had as a youth. He hoards things and doesn’t get along with his second wife Mala who he believes is after his money (we don’t really learn if she was or not). He and his son Art love each other but have a hard time being with each other. You get the sense that Vladek wants nothing more than to be with his son and Art wants nothing more than to not be there because his father drives him crazy. He would drive me crazy as well, but I also felt very sorry for him. I was moved by how personal this story ended up being. I thought it was going to be just an Holocaust survivor’s tale, but it ended up being so much more. It is really about the relationship between a father and son both racked with survivor’s guilt. Vladek because he survived when so many others didn’t and Art because he never suffered. It is a deeply moving story and well worth the read. 

11. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Memoirs, NonFiction · Tags:

Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala, read by Angie, on 08/09/2014

Wave is a book I couldn’t put down. I was enthralled by the story and wanted to read it without stopping. Wave is Sonali Deraniyagala’s memoir of the 2004 tsunami in which she lost her husband, two sons, her parents and her friend. This is a book about grief and loss and how those things make you a little crazy. It isn’t an easy book to read by any means. And Sonali doesn’t always come off as the most likable of people. However, her grief is real and visceral throughout the pages of this book. Sonali obviously suffers from PTSD after the tsunami (even though it is never mention); her actions are clearly those of someone who is not able to work through her grief for years. She harasses the family that moves into her parents house, she can’t return to her own home for two years, she treats her family who survived and his helping her with disinterest and disdain. I do wish there was more information or acknowledgement of the others who were suffering as well or the people who helped her survive or even more on her recovery. That is not what this book is about however. It is a personal memoir about what one woman experience during and after the tsunami of 2004. It is a compelling read but may not be for everyone. 

10. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Kira, Teen Books

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, read by Kira, on 08/09/2014

Before I FallBefore I Fall picI loved this book!  If you liked Replay by Ken Grimwood, or the Time Traveler’s Wife by Niffenegger, or Singing the Dog Star Blues by Allison Goodman or even the movie Groundhogs Day, you need to read this book.  Protagonist Samatha Kingston, part of the popular and MEAN girls at her highschool repeatedly lives through an eventful Friday trying to get it right.  You see her grow from a shallow, rationalizing unlikeable character to a deeper person, who comprehends what it means to live life well.  I so wish they’d make a movie from this book.  I could read this book a couple of times.Kent and Sam a5caa651fe239a6675b249209c9d08c9

07. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, NonFiction, Pamela · Tags:

Jim the wonder dog by Clarence Dewey Mitchell, read by Pamela, on 08/07/2014

jim 1   jim 2jim 3Jim the wonder dog was known around Missouri and the continental United States for his uncanny ability to do anything his master asked him to do.

His breed, Llewellyn English Setter, was known for being a bird dog.  His master Sam Van Arsdale sent him to a kennel for training, but Jim decided that unless there were birds about, he saw no need to alert his trainer.  The trainer noted that he was a smart dog of unusual intelligence because in the heat of the day with no birds about, Jim decided to seek shade rather than run about in the fields.  This was only the beginning of Jim’s demonstration of his intelligence.

Mr. Van Arsdale tested Jim quite frequently in front of various audiences.  He asked Jim to identify people with certain hair color, specific colored clothing, and people who were skeptics in the crowd.  Jim never failed a test.

This book details many instances where Jim performed unfailingly throughout his twelve year life.

His life is celebrated in Marshall, Missouri where he lived most of those years.  In 1999, the town built and dedicated a park in Jim’s honor.

This book is a nice piece of Missouri animal history.

05. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Graphic Book, Humor, Lisa, Memoirs, NonFiction

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast, read by Lisa, on 07/30/2014

In her first memoir, Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast’s memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents.

When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz held to the practices of denial, avoidance, and distraction. But when Elizabeth Chast climbed a ladder to locate an old souvenir from the “crazy closet”—with predictable results—the tools that had served Roz well through her parents’ seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed.

While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies—an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia and a former assistant principal mother whose overbearing personality had sidelined Roz for decades—the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; managing logistics; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care.

An amazing portrait of two lives at their end and an only child coping as best she can, Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant will show the full range of Roz Chast’s talent as cartoonist and storyteller.