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

Boundaries: How the Mason-Dixon Line Settled a Family Feud and Divided a Nation by Sally M. Walker, read by Angie, on 07/13/2014

Sure everyone has heard of the Mason Dixon line. A lot of people may know that it was used to divide the country into slave and nonslave states. Few people might know that it all started because of a boundary dispute between Pennsylvania and Maryland. I had some vague knowledge about the Mason Dixon line before reading this book, but I really had no idea about its true origins. Mason and Dixon were hired to survey the true boundaries between Pennsylvania and Maryland because no one really knew what they were. It took them years to do the survey, but the border lines are still those used today. 

Obviously the information in this book was really interesting and I am a big fan of Sally Walker; however, I felt the execution of this book fell short. The first big issue is the side bars. Children’s nonfiction always has sidebar information which is usually little tidbits about different aspects of the subject discussed. I love them and wholeheartedly think they should be in children’s nonfiction. They generally add a depth to the information that was missing. However, the sidebars in this book are terrible. Instead of being nicely separated by a box or off in the margins they are just big block paragraphs in italics. To make things even worse they are always placed in the middle of text; sometimes in the middle of a paragraph that splits between pages. It was horribly distracting and a terrible way to set up a book. 

The second issue was how technical this book got which made it boring! I really enjoy history and this was a story I wasn’t aware of. The bits about William Penn and George Calvert and why they founded their colonies was interesting. The story of Mason and Dixon was interesting. The long paragraphs about how you measure by the stars and what the instruments did was boring. It got so technical that my eyes glazed over. I found myself skimming long paragraphs of technical crap until the story picked up again. If I can’t take it then I am sure the intended audience of kids won’t be able to either. 

I had high hopes for this book and was soundly disappointed. Thankfully I did learn something from it.

12. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, History, NonFiction

Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure by Don Kladstrup, Petie Kladstrup, read by Angie, on 07/10/2014

I, like many people, have a fascination for the horrible things the Nazis did in Europe during WWII. I am especially fascinated by their large-scale looting operations. I knew about the looting of art throughout Europe but had no idea just how far their pillaging went. This book looks at how the wine makers of France were subject to just as much Nazi attention as the art collections of Europe. Millions of bottles of wine were sent to Germany. The vignerons and négociants throughout France had to either sacrifice their wine to the Germans or find ways to hide it and fool the Nazis. Many buried their wines behind false walls in their caves or truly buried it under gardens and ponds. Others hid the good stuff in plain site by mislabeling it and labeling the crap as the good stuff. This book was full of fascinating information about the wine industry in France both before and during the war and the major players on both the French and German sides of the struggle. I admit to getting a bit lost in all the French names, but didn’t let that detract from my enjoyment of the story. I think my favorite part came at the end when the French and American armies were liberating France. The French Army made sure to send the Americans through secondary vineyards so that the prime ones would not be destroyed. The French Army went slow and carefully forward making sure to preserve their heritage whereas the American army simply went through the vines. I thought it said a lot about a culture that prized wine so much it was sent to the soldiers on the front and the lack of it and its destruction helped bring the French Resistance to power. Very powerful story that I would recommend to any history lovers out there.

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

They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, read by Angie, on 07/07/2014

The KKK was set up after the Civil War by white Southerners who felt they needed to protect their way of life from the Northern Reconstructionists and the uppity Blacks. They used intimidation, fear, beatings and murder to try and get what they wanted, which was for blacks to go back to being subservient to whites. Bartoletti takes a hard look at how the KKK was started, what precipitated its creation, how they grew to include so many members and what those members did. She also details the reaction to the KKK by Southern Blacks, Northern Whites and the governments of both the North and the South. President Grant was successful in disbanding the KKK, but he was not successful in creating equality in the South. It is sad that the same practices of the KKK during Reconstruction existed for many up until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The KKK was truly a terrorist group and it is pretty scary that some people today don’t see them that way. 

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

The World Made New: Why the Age of Exploration Happened and How It Changed the World by Marc Aronson, John W. Glenn, read by Angie, on 07/07/2014

The Age of Exploration began with Columbus “discovering” America in 1492. After his trip many other explorers set out to discover the riches America had to offer. Their expeditions brought many things to Europe: the potato and tomato, spices, gold and silver and new ways of life. These explorers changed the world in both good and bad ways. They opened up trade routes and new lands for exploration, but the native peoples suffered greatly as their way of life came to an end. The explorers were generally not friendly to the natives. They saw them as savages to be tamed with riches to be taken. They brought death and disease and destruction to the natives. This book provides a good overview of why these explorations took place, what they found and the consequences of their discoveries. 

07. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, NonFiction, Self Help · Tags:

Grieving the Death of a Mother by Harold Ivan Smith, read by Brian, on 07/07/2014

motherAnyone who has to deal with the death of their mother knows you never get over just deal with it a positive manner. Smith’s book is written in an honest and kind way.  I thought I was prepared for my mother’s passing but after she died I was fill with so many emotions my mind became a jumbled mess.  This book helped me realize my jumbled mess is normal and showed me how deal with the sorrow.

07. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, History, Informational Book, NonFiction

The Jesuits: A History from Ignatius to the Present by John W. O'Malley S.J., read by Angie, on 07/04/2014

This book covers the history of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) from its inception to the present day pope. The history of the Jesuits is an interesting and controversial one. They were disbanded by the Catholic Church at one time and made many enemies throughout history. They also did a lot of good as their missions spread throughout the world and they opened thousands of schools and universities. The book is written by a Jesuit priest and his bias does show through. The Jesuits are never shown in anything but a positive light and their controversies are always glossed over. The book was interesting but I think a more unbiased look at the Jesuits would have been just as interesting if not more so. 

I received this book from Netgalley.

This is an excellent overview of the history of women serving in Congress. It begins with Jeannette Rankin in 1917 and goes through the present day roster of women in the House and the Senate. It’s interesting that the majority of the women who broke ground in Congress came into their positions through a husband or father dying. The congressman died and the women were able to fill the seat. I like the fact that the book also give the political and social background of what was happening at the time of each woman entering Congress. This book is very readable and entertaining. There is not a lot of information on the different congresswomen, but it is a good starting point. 

07. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Graphic Book, NonFiction, Tracy

The Fifth Beatle by Vivek Tiwary, Philip Simon (Editor), Andrew C. Robinson (Illustrations), Kyle Baker (Illustrations), read by Tracy, on 06/14/2014

The Fifth Beatle is the untold true story of Brian Epstein, the visionary manager who discovered and guided The Beatles from their gigs in a tiny cellar in Liverpool to unprecedented international stardom. Yet more than merely the story of “The Man Who Made The Beatles,” The Fifth Beatle is an uplifting, tragic, and ultimately inspirational human story about the struggle to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Brian himself died painfully lonely at the young age of thirty-two, having helped The Beatles prove through “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” that pop music could be an inspirational art form. He was homosexual when it was a felony to be so in the United Kingdom, Jewish at a time of anti-Semitism, and from Liverpool when it was considered just a dingy port town.

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Kristy, NonFiction, Self Help

The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke by Suze Orman, read by Kristy, on 06/05/2014

The world’s most trusted expert on money matters answers a generation’s cry for help-and gives advice on

- Credit card debt
- Student loans
- Credit scores
- The first real job
- Buying a first home
- Insurance facts: auto, home, renters, health
- Financial issues of the self-employed

And much more advice that fits the realities of “Generation Broke.”

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

Pure Grit: How WWII Nurses in the Pacific Survived Combat and Prison Camp by Mary Cronk Farrell, read by Angie, on 07/02/2014

Pure Grit tells the story of the American nurses in the Philippines during WWII. These nurses join the Army and the Navy because there were a lot of opportunities, but they never expected to actually be part of the war. We are taught a lot about WWII and the battles that took place in Europe. Unfortunately, a lot of history books minimize the war in the Pacific, which was just as deadly as the European front. I had no idea that hours after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor they attacked the Philippines. I had no idea that American forces were forced to surrender and became prisoners of war. The nurses that were on the island were also forced to surrender and be placed in internment camps. The nurses continued to care for their patients both before and after the surrender with dwindling supplies of both medication and food. They agonized over leaving gravely injured patients to the mercies of the Japanese. Once the war was over the nurses received little to no recognition for their efforts and suffered life-long physical and mental disabilities. It wasn’t until recent years that their history has come to light and they have been recognized for their heroics. This was a very readable book, in fact it was hard to put down. The story is gripping and because it is true very moving. I would definitely recommend it. 

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, NonFiction, Science

Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love, and Language from the Insect World by Marlene Zuk, read by Angie, on 07/01/2014

Sex on Six Legs is a fascinating look at the world of insects. This book covers not only their reproduction but also communication, social systems and much more. Insects are the most numerous animals on the planet and their variety testifies to that fact. Zuk is obviously a big fan of the insect world and has a lot of knowledge about the studies that have taken place regarding insects. I found this book a lot more interesting than I thought I would. It is a great read, educational and entertaining.

Muller’s book is divided into four sections framed by the following four questions:

1. Who am I? what is my identity.

2. What do I love?

3. How Shall I live, knowing that I shall die?

4. What gifts shall I leave behind to the Earth?

 

Muller then took these meaningmaking questions and explored the questions.  I particularly liked question number three.  howlive ua2020-final-report-cover-shothow-then-should-we-live 10-truths-before-happiness how-to-stay-on-track-to-a-meaningful-life-L-Yzz2TS images Though, love-my-way-out-lI didn’t agree with all of his statements/thoughts, for example, he said that EVERY single moment is a gift, I found these food for thought.  I highly recommend this title!

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Humor, Kira · Tags:

Downton Tabby by Chris Kelly., read by Kira, on 06/28/2014

I had so much fun reading Agent Gates, a parody of Downton Abbey, I decided I needed to read Downton  Tabby.Downton-Tabby-2 This was a fun quick read, with humor not just satirizing the TV series, but also grabbing puns from a variety of sources.
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01. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Sarah, Teen Books

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu, read by Sarah, on 06/21/2014

16068341Alice is not an innocent teenage girl, but she’s not a killer.  This book explores bullying from the viewpoint of the bullies, friends or ex-friends of the victim, and eventually, the Alice herself.  I like how the author doesn’t give you all of the information upfront.  You have to piece together what really happened the night of Brandon’s death from the snippets of info given by the other characters.  It was a pretty typical teen flick, but I enjoyed it anyway!

30. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Madeline, Memoirs, NonFiction

Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures by Robert K. Wittman, John Shiffman, read by Madeline, on 06/29/2014

The Wall Street Journal called him “a living legend.” The London Timesdubbed him “the most famous art detective in the world.”
 
In Priceless, Robert K. Wittman, the founder of the FBI’s Art Crime Team, pulls back the curtain on his remarkable career for the first time, offering a real-life international thriller to rival The Thomas Crown Affair.   
 
Rising from humble roots as the son of an antique dealer, Wittman built a twenty-year career that was nothing short of extraordinary. He went undercover, usually unarmed, to catch art thieves, scammers, and black market traders in Paris and Philadelphia, Rio and Santa Fe, Miami and Madrid.
 
In this page-turning memoir, Wittman fascinates with the stories behind his recoveries of priceless art and antiquities: The golden armor of an ancient Peruvian warrior king. The Rodin sculpture that inspired the Impressionist movement. The headdress Geronimo wore at his final Pow-Wow. The rare Civil War battle flag carried into battle by one of the nation’s first African-American regiments.
 
The breadth of Wittman’s exploits is unmatched: He traveled the world to rescue paintings by Rockwell and Rembrandt, Pissarro, Monet and Picasso, often working undercover overseas at the whim of foreign governments. Closer to home, he recovered an original copy of the Bill of Rights and cracked the scam that rocked the PBS series Antiques Roadshow.
 
By the FBI’s accounting, Wittman saved hundreds of millions of dollars worth of art and antiquities. He says the statistic isn’t important. After all, who’s to say what is worth more –a Rembrandt self-portrait or an American flag carried into battle? They’re both priceless. 
 
The art thieves and scammers Wittman caught run the gamut from rich to poor, smart to foolish, organized criminals to desperate loners.  The smuggler who brought him a looted 6th-century treasure turned out to be a high-ranking diplomat.  The appraiser who stole countless heirlooms from war heroes’ descendants was a slick, aristocratic con man.  The museum janitor who made off with locks of George Washington’s hair just wanted to make a few extra bucks, figuring no one would miss what he’d filched.
 
In his final case, Wittman called on every bit of knowledge and experience in his arsenal to take on his greatest challenge: working undercover to track the vicious criminals behind what might be the most audacious art theft of all. 

30. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Madeline, Memoirs, NonFiction

Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty by Diane Keaton, read by Madeline, on 06/21/2014

From Academy Award winner and bestselling author Diane Keaton comes a candid, hilarious, and deeply affecting look at beauty, aging, and the importance of staying true to yourself—no matter what anyone else thinks.
 
Diane Keaton has spent a lifetime coloring outside the lines of the conventional notion of beauty. In Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty, she shares the wisdom she’s accumulated through the years as a mother, daughter, actress, artist, and international style icon. This is a book only Diane Keaton could write—a smart and funny chronicle of the ups and downs of living and working in a world obsessed with beauty.
 
In her one-of-a-kind voice, Keaton offers up a message of empowerment for anyone who’s ever dreamed of kicking back against the “should”s and “supposed to”s that undermine our pursuit of beauty in all its forms. From a mortifying encounter with a makeup artist who tells her she needs to get her eyes fixed to an awkward excursion to Victoria’s Secret with her teenage daughter, Keaton shares funny and not-so-funny moments from her life in and out of the public eye. 
 
For Diane Keaton, being beautiful starts with being true to who you are, and in this book she also offers self-knowing commentary on the bold personal choices she’s made through the years: the wide-brimmed hats, outrageous shoes, and all-weather turtlenecks that have made her an inspiration to anyone who cherishes truly individual style—and catnip to paparazzi worldwide. She recounts her experiences with the many men in her life—including Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, and Sam Shepard—shows how our ideals of beauty change as we age, and explains why a life well lived may be the most beautiful thing of all. 
 
Wryly observant and as fiercely original as Diane Keaton herself, Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty is a head-turner of a book that holds up a mirror to our beauty obsessions—and encourages us to like what we see.

30. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste by Carl Wilson, read by Madeline, on 06/15/2014

Non-fans regard Céline Dion as ersatz and plastic, yet to those who love her, no one could be more real, with her impoverished childhood, her (creepy) manager-husband’s struggle with cancer, her knack for howling out raw emotion. There’s nothing cool about Céline Dion, and nothing clever. That’s part of her appeal as an object of love or hatred with most critics and committed music fans taking pleasure (or at least geeky solace) in their lofty contempt. This book documents Carl Wilson’s brave and unprecedented year-long quest to find his inner Céline Dion fan, and explores how we define ourselves in the light of what we call good and bad, what we love and what we hate.

30. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Madeline, Memoirs, NonFiction

Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line by Michael Gibney, read by Madeline, on 06/05/2014

The back must slave to feed the belly. . . . In this urgent and unique book, chef Michael Gibney uses twenty-four hours to animate the intricate camaraderie and culinary choreography in an upscale New York restaurant kitchen. Here readers will find all the details, in rapid-fire succession, of what it takes to deliver an exceptional plate of food—the journey to excellence by way of exhaustion.

Told in second-person narrative, Sous Chef is an immersive, adrenaline-fueled run that offers a fly-on-the-wall perspective on the food service industry, allowing readers to briefly inhabit the hidden world behind the kitchen doors, in real time. This exhilarating account provides regular diners and food enthusiasts alike a detailed insider’s perspective, while offering fledgling professional cooks an honest picture of what the future holds, ultimately giving voice to the hard work and dedication around which chefs have built their careers.

In a kitchen where the highest standards are upheld and one misstep can result in disaster, Sous Chef conjures a greater appreciation for the thought, care, and focus that go into creating memorable and delicious fare. With grit, wit, and remarkable prose, Michael Gibney renders a beautiful and raw account of this demanding and sometimes overlooked profession, offering a nuanced perspective on the craft and art of food and service.

30. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, How To's, Humor, NonFiction · Tags:

Box Lunch by Diana Cage, read by Brian, on 06/28/2014

boxBox Lunch is an adult oriented book.  It deals with the taboo subject of sex.  Why sex is taboo is beyond me. Oral sex is the subject matter of this piece of work.  This could be one of the funniest books I have read and yet instructional too.  If you do not like explicit sexual books then stay away from this one.  Diana approaches Box Lunch from her own experiences.  If you’re not familiar with the author it’s because she edits and writes for the lesbian magazine, On Our Backs.  I would recommend this book.

 

23. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Autobiographies, Humor, NonFiction

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling, read by Angie, on 06/23/2014

I will admit to not watching The Office, but I have seen Mindy Kaling in interviews and other things and enjoyed her. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is an entertaining look at her rise through Hollywood and other aspects of her life. She narrates the audiobook herself and has a witty way of telling her story. The book is short and jumps topics quite a bit which does help keep your attention. No one topic is so long that it will bore you and some of the shorter ones are the funniest. I think Kaling fans will enjoy this book.