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.

05. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Lisa, Memoirs, NonFiction

I Forgot to Remember by Su Meck , read by Lisa, on 07/07/2014

In 1988 Su Meck was twenty-two and married with two children when a ceiling fan in her kitchen fell and struck her on the head, leaving her with a traumatic brain injury that erased all her memories of her life up to that point. Although her body healed rapidly, her memories never returned. 

Yet after just three weeks in the hospital, Su was released and once again charged with the care of two toddlers and a busy household. Adrift in a world about which she understood almost nothing, Su became an adept mimic, gradually creating routines and rituals that sheltered her and her family, however narrowly, from the near-daily threat of disaster, or so she thought. Though Su would eventually relearn to tie her shoes, cook a meal, and read and write, nearly twenty years would pass before a series of personally devastating events shattered the normal life she had worked so hard to build, and she realized that she would have to grow up all over again.

In her own indelible voice, Su offers us a view from the inside of a terrible injury, with the hope that her story will help give other brain injury sufferers and their families the resolve and courage to build their lives anew. Piercing, heartbreaking, but finally uplifting, this book is the true story of a woman determined to live life on her own terms.

04. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Humor, NonFiction · Tags:

Dear Luke, We Need to Talk, Darth: And Other Pop Culture Correspondences by John Moe, read by Brian, on 08/03/2014

dearIt is so hard to write good comedy.  This is why listening to comedians is much better than reading their books.  Listening and watching gives you more insight into the joke. John Moe’s book on pop culture just isn’t funny.  Sometimes being in the right frame of mind helps, so, I will read the book at a later date to see if my opinion changes but for now…..

 

02. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Business, Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age by Astra Taylor, read by Madeline, on 07/29/2014

From a cutting-edge cultural commentator, a bold and brilliant challenge to cherished notions of the Internet as the great leveler of our age

The Internet has been hailed as an unprecedented democratizing force, a place where all can be heard and everyone can participate equally. But how true is this claim? In a seminal dismantling of techno-utopian visions, “The People’s Platform” argues that for all that we “tweet” and “like” and “share,” the Internet in fact reflects and amplifies real-world inequities at least as much as it ameliorates them. Online, just as off-line, attention and influence largely accrue to those who already have plenty of both.

What we have seen so far, Astra Taylor says, has been not a revolution but a rearrangement. Although Silicon Valley tycoons have eclipsed Hollywood moguls, a handful of giants like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook remain the gatekeepers. And the worst habits of the old media model–the pressure to seek easy celebrity, to be quick and sensational above all–have proliferated online, where “aggregating” the work of others is the surest way to attract eyeballs and ad revenue. When culture is “free,” creative work has diminishing value, and advertising fuels the system. The new order looks suspiciously like the old one.

We can do better, Taylor insists. The online world does offer a unique opportunity, but a democratic culture that supports diverse voices and work of lasting value will not spring up from technology alone. If we want the Internet to truly be a people’s platform, we will have to make it so.

02. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Madeline, Memoirs, NonFiction

An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-Year-Old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny by Laura Schroff, Alex Tresniowski, Valerie Salembier, read by Madeline, on 07/14/2014

Stopping was never part of the plan . . . 

She was a successful ad sales rep in Manhattan. He was a homeless, eleven-year-old panhandler on the street. He asked for spare change; she kept walking. But then something stopped her in her tracks, and she went back. And she continued to go back, again and again. They met up nearly every week for years and built an unexpected, life-changing friendship that has today spanned almost three decades. 

Whatever made me notice him on that street corner so many years ago is clearly something that cannot be extinguished, no matter how relentless the forces aligned against it. Some may call it spirit. Some may call it heart. It drew me to him, as if we were bound by some invisible, unbreakable thread. And whatever it is, it binds us still.

02. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Madeline, NonFiction

I Forgot to Remember by Su Meck, Daniel de Vise, read by Madeline, on 07/07/2014

In 1988 Su Meck was twenty-two and married with two children when a ceiling fan in her kitchen fell and struck her on the head, leaving her with a traumatic brain injury that erased all her memories of her life up to that point. Although her body healed rapidly, her memories never returned. 

Yet after just three weeks in the hospital, Su was released and once again charged with the care of two toddlers and a busy household. Adrift in a world about which she understood almost nothing, Su became an adept mimic, gradually creating routines and rituals that sheltered her and her family, however narrowly, from the near-daily threat of disaster, or so she thought. Though Su would eventually relearn to tie her shoes, cook a meal, and read and write, nearly twenty years would pass before a series of personally devastating events shattered the normal life she had worked so hard to build, and she realized that she would have to grow up all over again.

In her own indelible voice, Su offers us a view from the inside of a terrible injury, with the hope that her story will help give other brain injury sufferers and their families the resolve and courage to build their lives anew. Piercing, heartbreaking, but finally uplifting, this book is the true story of a woman determined to live life on her own terms.

02. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Madeline, Memoirs, NonFiction

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast, read by Madeline, on 07/01/2014

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.

31. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Claudia, Inspirational, NonFiction

Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World by Bob Goff, read by Claudia, on 07/01/2014

Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World

As a college student he spent 16 days in the Pacific Ocean with five guys and a crate of canned meat. As a father he took his kids on a world tour to eat ice cream with heads of state. He made friends in Uganda, and they liked him so much he became the Ugandan consul. He pursued his wife for three years before she agreed to date him. His grades weren’t good enough to get into law school, so he sat on a bench outside the Dean’s office for seven days until they finally let him enroll.

Bob Goff has become something of a legend, and his friends consider him the world’s best-kept secret. Those same friends have long insisted he write a book. What follows are paradigm shifts, musings, and stories from one of the world’s most delightfully engaging and winsome people. What fuels his impact? Love. But it’s not the kind of love that stops at thoughts and feelings. Bob’s love takes action. Bob believes Love Does.

When Love Does, life gets interesting. Each day turns into a hilarious, whimsical, meaningful chance that makes faith simple and real. Each chapter is a story that forms a book, a life. And this is one life you don’t want to miss.

Light and fun, unique and profound, the lessons drawn from Bob’s life and attitude just might inspire you to be secretly incredible, too.

Review provided by publisher Thomas Nelson

31. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

Globish: How the English Language became the World's Language by Robert McCrum, read by Kira, on 07/31/2014

It seems unlikely that a small island conquered repeatedly would provide the world with a global language.  McCrum provides a historical review of how the English language developed, how its fluidity and subversive nature allowed it to flourish and become the lingua franca of the world.  He also details all the colonizing by the Brits. index globishpiespeakers   I wish only one timeline of history had been provided, I got a little confused going through history periods a couple of times, while focusing on other aspects of the language development.

31. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, NonFiction · Tags:

Gothic art now by Jasmine Beckett-Griffith, read by Brian, on 07/30/2014

artGothic Art Now, is an exceptional look at Gothic art in media, sculpture, advertising, photography and digital form.  The imagery is amazing and so is the insight you get from the artist on their work.

 

30. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Cats, Fiction, Humor, Tammy

The Devious Book for Cats: A Parody by Fluffy and Bonkers, read by Tammy, on 07/30/2014

devious book for catsA funny book of advice for cats from cats. But seriously, it’s a parady of the popular Dangerous Book for Boys and Daring Book for Girls that tells the kids how to do stuff that used to be common knowledge for most people. Everything from building a fire safely in the woods to how to play marbles to the importance of writing a letter (yes, with pen and paper) for certain situations. The books also feature lesser known but important men and women from history that the authors felt could be good role models for children.

This book advises cats on how to train their human, how to be the best hunter they can be and also gives them “histories” of famous and important cats. If you love cats and especially if you have a house cat you will recognize a lot of these behaviors and they way the authors interpret what the cats are thinking is hilarious.

30. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

How They Choked: Failures, Flops, and Flaws of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg, read by Angie, on 07/29/2014

How They Choked explores the failures of fourteen historical figures. Obvious failures like Anne Boleyn and Benedict Arnold and George Custer are compared to some less obvious failures like Susan B. Anthony and Isaac Newton and Thomas Edison. I am not sure you can compare the failure of Montezuma to realize Cortez wasn’t a god which led to the death of his people to the fact that Susan B. Anthony failed to get women the vote in her lifetime. Some of the facts were really interesting however. I knew Amelia Earhart hadn’t learned how to read her instruments correctly, but I had no idea she wasn’t really that great of a pilot and had crashed a lot. I don’t think I even realized that Magellan hadn’t actually made it all the way around the world but had died in the Philippines. I think fans of gruesome history will enjoy this one as well as those who like to learn obscure trivia about people. Definitely not as interesting as How They Croaked, but a fun read nonetheless. 

29. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Kira, NonFiction, Science · Tags:

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell., read by Kira, on 07/20/2014

davgol  Malcolm_GladwellBoy with menacing shadowAnother great book by Gladwell!  In this title he explores how our wounds our struggles can be the source of our strengths.  Interesting pieces that I learned: apparently Goliath was suffering from acromegaly (due to pituitary tumor) that caused him visual difficulties (thus he had another person guide him to the battle field) in addition to his giantism; Marching Day in England is where the Protestant march and celebrate their victory over the local Catholics! imagine if the Northerners came down to the South and celebrated the South’s loss in the Civil war!   He talks about the advantages that come from being a big fish in a small pond.  For example, the same percentage of Science majors switch over to Humanities in a Top School as compared to a medium school, despite the fact that the ATC test scores of students at the top school are generally way above those at medium schools (unless all these schools are grading on a curve, which wasn’t clearly discussed).

When the impressionists were shunned from the high art society in France, they created their own art show. And their art became more popular.  The most interesting take-away message is, if you’re going to fight the big and powerful, you don’t play by their rules.  You change the game.

Negatives: Though Gladwell holds up Jay Freireich’s cure of childhood leukemia as admirable, Freireich violated the physicians oath – do NO harm

25. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, NonFiction, Sports

Tiger, Meet My Sister by Rick Reilly, read by Brian, on 07/24/2014

reillyRick Reilly is a sports writer who is very funny.  His writings are so good, people who hate sports loves his books.  Tiger, Meet My Sister, Reilly compiles his best writings from ESPN for past five years.  I enjoy Rick because he doesn’t hold back.  He even has list of the nasty people he has interviewed.  Enjoyable read.

 

25. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction

Hades Speaks!: A Guide to the Underworld by the Greek God of the Dead by Vicky Alvear Shecter, read by Angie, on 07/24/2014

I really enjoy this series by Vicky Alvear Shecter. The Anubis one was certainly entertaining and this Hades follow-up is just as fun. Hades takes us on a personal tour of the Land of the Dead. He is sarcastic and funny and very informative. In between tales of how his younger brother Zeus causes him no end of misery, he imparts all kinds of historical stories from Greek and Roman times. There is a lot of humor mixed in with all the historical information. I think kids will appreciate the fact that they are being entertained and educated at the same time. I can’t wait to see who comes next in this series. 

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

21. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming, read by Angie, on 07/20/2014

Everyone knows the story of the doomed Romanov family. How they were all murdered during the Bolshevik Revolution. How there were claims that Anastasia or Alexei still lived. How once the tsar fell the country became communist under Lenin and Stalin. What you might not have known were the events leading up to the revolution and the murders. Or how truly oblivious Tsar Nicholas was to what was happening around him. Candace Fleming does a wonderful job telling this story. She gives us insight into the imperial family through historical details and primary sources. She gives us details about what the common people were going through both before and during WWI. She also shows the politics behind the revolution and the rise of Lenin. What surprised me most about this book was how doomed the Romanov’s seemed from the beginning. Nicholas and Alexandra were so wrapped up in themselves and their children and Rasputin that they really had no idea what was happening in their country or how their actions set them on the path of destruction.

21. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Humor, Tammy · Tags:

I am Pusheen the Cat by Claire Belton, read by Tammy, on 07/08/2014

pusheenHumorous collection of drawings of Pusheen the cat and pointers on day to day activities in the life of a cat. I first saw Pusheen on Facebook as an a collection of emoticon art you can add to private messages then saw the book.