Playing With Books is a book about altering other books.  This a terrific source of ideas for the reader who wants to take old books and make them into something new.  There are project ideas packed onto every page. The projects range from simple to more complex with an artists’ gallery for further inspiration if the projects aren’t enough.  Most of the projects use tools that the reader might already have at home or can easily find in craft and hardware stores.  The steps are explained fairly well, but the reader might need other books to explain some of the sewing or other skills used in making the projects.  The photography is wonderful and shows the projects at their best while demonstrating the techniques being taught in the written instructions.  There are even ideas for sources of free books the reader can use for the projects.  This was an exciting book to read and I have already put it on my wish list to add to my library at home.  I can’t wait to get started!

playing

24. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Crafts, How To's, Marsha, NonFiction

Making Books by Hand: A Step-By-Step Guide by Mary McCarthy and Phillip Manna, read by Marsha, on 04/23/2014

Making Books by hand takes the time to show the reader steps not often shown in other books, such as how to fold the corners of bookcloth on a cover.  This is a nice little reference book to keep nearby for that reason. The text contains instructions for several different types of books including accordion books, journals and scrapbooks, photo albums, and box books.  Some instructions are more detailed than others and some of the photos really need to have been taken closer up so that the reader can see the details of what the author is referring to.  But many of the instructions are well-written and the photography does not interfere with the reader getting a grasp on the content.  There is even a chapter titled, “New Directions: Trends and Traditions” that has a more uncommon accordion book and a scroll.  Included is also an artists’ gallery, which is sure to generate lots of new ideas.  While this is not necessarily a book I plan to add to my library, it is one that I will probably check out and peruse again once I start making my own books.

 

24. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery

When the Butterflies Came by Kimberley Griffiths Little, read by Angie, on 04/23/2014

Tara Doucet is devastated when her Grammy Claire is killed in a car accident. Then she starts receiving letters from Grammy Claire. The letters point to a mystery that has to be solved about the nipwisipwis (butterflies). Grammy Claire’s study of the butterflies had taken her from her home in Louisiana to an island in the Pacific. Tara and her sister Riley are taken in by Claire’s butler Reginald and whisked away first to her Louisiana home in the swamp and then to her tree house on the island. Tara continues to receive letters and clues and mysteries keys from Grammy Claire. She has to solve the clues, figure out what the keys open and find out who is trying to endanger the nipwisipwis. 

This is a fabulous mystery for kids. I think they will really enjoy following the clues along with Tara. I loved the relationship between Tara and Riley. Even though it is prickly it is still very sisterly and they do truly care for each other. I did find it a little strange that the girls just went off with Claire’s butler leaving their mother at home suffering from melancholy. I liked the fact that we are left guessing a little bit about the true power of the nipwisipwis. It made it a little more believable. There are many mysterious plants and animals in the world so who knows if butterflies could really have restorative properties.

24. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance

Jesse's renegade by Nancy Bush, read by Melody, on 04/23/2014

Beautiful, headstrong Kelsey Garrett is determined to make a new start in Portland under an assumed name. But everything changes when she runs into Jesse Danner, the hot-blooded, stubborn black sheep of the Danner family whom she has secretly loved for years. Devastated to find he doesn’t even recognize her, she nonetheless agrees to help him seek revenge against a brutal land baron who once left him for dead. 

Drawn into a web of greed and intrigue, Kelsey and Jesse struggle against the desire they feel for one another; a raging fire that threatens to overwhelm them both. Too proud to admit their longings, their chance for happiness is nearly destroyed when Jesse’s plan for vengeance puts their lives in jeopardy. Then they must risk all they have in a battle to survive – and to claim a magnificent future together.

23. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction

The Hypnotists by Gordon Korman, read by Angie, on 04/22/2014

Jackson Opus has strange eyes. They seem to change color depending on his mood. When they are purple strange things can happen; it is almost like he has a special power. Turns out he does; he has the power to hypnotize people. He is recruited by Dr. Mako at Sentia to learn more about and develop his power. Everyone believes Dr. Mako only wants to learn more about hypnotism, but is he truly good? Jax meets some people who don’t believe he has the world’s best interests in mind. Unfortunately, Jax doesn’t believe them until it is almost too late. 

I think the topic of this book was interesting, but the plot just went a bit over the top. Sure it will appeal to kids, but it doesn’t have a lot of crossover appeal. I wish the characters would have been a bit better. Jax is a contradiction; he is really smart but also super naive. His parents are dimwits and very one-dimensional. Dr. Mako is your typical bad guy out to rule the world. I thought the story of Jax being a descendant of two powerful mesmer families was a bit of a stretch. I like my characters to have a few flaws and Jax just seemed a little too perfect at times.

I enjoy books like this. Christine Liu-Perkins did a fantastic job researching Lady Dai and her time period and sharing it in an accessible way for children. There are all kinds of mummies out there: Egyptian  bog, etc. All of these mummies are desiccated remains. What I found truly fascinating was that Lady Dai wasn’t desiccated. Her skin was still soft, her joints still worked, her organs had not decayed. She looked like a recently dead person instead of someone who had died 2200 years ago. Her tomb contained many treasures like still recognizable food and silks and some of the first books. Her tomb and those of her husband and son are truly treasures.

stealKleon has written a fantastic little book that may be a quick read, but should be read again and again as it is jam-packed with content.  The book lists 10 things the writer wishes he had known when he started creating and they are fairly universal no matter what the reader makes (and everyone should be making something).  Kleon is a writer and artist but this advice applies to anyone who has the least bit of a creative streak, which is EVERYONE.  Don’t miss out on this little gem because of it’s size.  There are many things the reader can learn from reading and re-reading Steal Like An Artist.  This book is now on my Kindle!

23. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Crafts, Marsha, NonFiction

Expressive Handmade Books by Alisa Golden, read by Marsha, on 04/21/2014

handmadeIf the reader is looking for a new way to express oneself, look no further!  Golden has written a wonderful guide that not only gives some bindings to consider, but also has many different forms of accordion folds to experiment with.  In addition, the author presents a preparation section for most projects that includes a prompt for doing a book similar to the one featured in the project.  The steps are easy to walk through and the diagrams are fairly clear.  The prompts give a detailed look at the author’s processes as she developed her idea.  Overall, this is a great book and one I am thinking of adding to my personal collection.

23. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Judy, Thriller/Suspense

The Witness by Nora Roberts, read by Judy, on 04/14/2014

Daughter of a cold, controlling mother and an anonymous donor, studious, obedient Elizabeth Fitch finally let loose one night, drinking too much at a nightclub and allowing a strange man’s seductive Russian accent to lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive.

Twelve years later, the woman now known as Abigail Lowery lives alone on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks.   A freelance security systems designer, her own protection is supplemented by a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms.   She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing.    Unfortunately, that seems to be the quickest way to get attention in a tiny southern town.

The mystery of Abigail Lowery and her sharp mind, secretive nature and unromantic viewpoint intrigues local police chief Brooks Gleason, on both a personal and professional level.   And while he suspects that Abigail needs protection from something, Gleason is accustomed to two-bit troublemakers, not the powerful and dangerous men who are about to have him in their sights.   And Abigail Lowery, who has built a life based on security and self-control, is at risk of losing both.

22. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Rogue by Lyn Miller-Lachmann, read by Angie, on 04/22/2014

Kiara is an 8th grade girl with a lot going on. She has been kicked out of school and is being homeschooled. It is just her and her dad at home since her mom moved to Montreal and her brothers are off at college. Kiara has Asperger’s and has problems in social situations and controlling her emotions. She has been called, freak, weirdo, and more and decides she is like Rogue of the X-Men. She never makes friends or keeps them because she is always doing something strange. When a new family moves in next door she tries to make friends with the two boys. Chad and Brandon have secrets of their own however. Soon they have become friends with Kiara, but Chad is drawing her into his family troubles. Chad likes doing BMX stunts and they are soon hanging out at bike trails with a bunch of older kids. Kiara for the first time has friends and she doesn’t want to give that up even if it means messing up her family or school life. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Rogue. I learned a lot about Asperger’s from Kiara and her approach to life. I thought Chad and Brandon’s home life was also a timely topic. Their parents are cooking meth and making the kids help on top of some abuse.  I thought the X-Men obsession would be weird, but it actually really worked with the story. In many ways, Kiara is a lot like Rogue. I found myself smiling at times when she was trying to convince Chad he was Gambit or Antonio he was Wolverine. This is a touching story about family and friends and learning to accept who you are. It is a story about trying to change your circumstances and who exactly becomes our families.

22. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Romeo Blue by Phoebe Stone, read by Angie, on 04/21/2014

Flissy lives with her American relatives in Maine. She has been shipped off from Britain because of WWII. Her parents, Winny and Danny, are both spies and missing in France. Flissy lives with the Gram, aunt Miami, Uncle Gideon who is actually her father and Derek who has been unofficially adopted by the family. All of the Bathburns seem to be in some type of spy/government work. Gideon is getting ready to head to France and try and rescue his brother Danny and Winny his first love. Miami is being courted by the mailman who is also being shipped off. Derek has decided to try and find his father, but is the man claiming to be his dad really his dad? Flissy loves Derek but does he love her back? Will Winnie and Danny ever make it home?

I haven’t read The Romeo and Juliet Code so I wasn’t up on this story. I don’t think it hurt this book however since the past was rehashed fairly well. This was a slower read and one I am not sure kids will stick with. There is a TON of 1940s slang throughout the dialog which makes it a little more difficult to understand what exactly is going on. I do like the story of Flissy and her family, but I am not sure how kid friendly it is.

22. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Sunny Sweet Is So Not Sorry by Jennifer Ann Mann, read by Angie, on 04/21/2014

Masha wakes up one morning with plastic flowers stuck to her head. Turns out her little sister glued them on during the night. Sunny is a genius and thought the flowers would help Masha make friends. After repeated attempts at home (washing, peanut butter, freezing) to remove the flowers mom gives up. Masha is allowed to stay home from school until they figure something out. Soon after mom and Sunny leave, Masha hears a racket and finds her neighbor collapsed in the street. She calls an ambulance which takes Mrs. Song, Masha and a newly arrived Sunny to the hospital. A comedy of errors then takes place as Masha and Sunny might have caught whooping cough, Masha gets a cast on her arm in a case of mistaken identity, and various hospital personnel try to remove Masha’s flowers all the while calling her Marsha. Genius sunny becomes a mini-doctor during their stay in the hospital, always offering Masha advice and annoying her to no end. 

I found this book charming and fun. I really enjoyed the relationship between Masha and Sunny. You could feel the sisterness of it. They love each other, but they really can’t stand each other at times. Having two sisters myself I knew exactly what was happening. Masha’s experience was a bit extreme, but it made for a good story. I especially enjoyed the ending when their true feelings for each other came out. I think this is a fun book that kids will enjoy.

21. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Melody, Romance

Miracle Jones by Nancy Bush, read by Melody, on 04/19/2014

SEEK…
Searching for a past that was more lore than truth, part-Indian healer, Miranda “Miracle” Jones, drove her peddler’s cart toward Rock Springs, Oregon — straight into danger. Before she could learn anything about her missing and mysterious father, and carrying the tin box he’d left her – her only memento – she was attacked by highwaymen and sold to Harrison Danner at a drunken bachelor party on the eve of his wedding. Danner meant only to save her. But Miracle, frightened and trusting only in herself, stabbed him – and then, with her herbal potions, desperately sought to save the compelling stranger’s life!
AND YOU SHALL FIND…
Danner was pledged to the daughter of his bitterest enemy; their wedding was meant to end a generations-old feud. Yet he could not resist his attraction for the strong-spirited beauty who had attacked him – and then stole his bartered heart. Though they both fought the wave of passion that threatened to overtake them which could only leave devastation and betrayal in its wake, the truth of their love was undeniable, a force of nature they willingly succumbed to within each other’s arms.

21. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction

Treasure Hunters by James Patterson, Chris Grabenstein (Co-author), Mark Shulman (Contributor), Juliana Neufeld , read by Angie, on 04/18/2014

Tommy, Storm, Beck and Bick are the four Kidd children. Their mother has disappeared in Cyprus and their father disappeared off their boat, The Lost, during a storm. This is a family of treasure hunters and the kids continue the hunt for the next treasure just like their dad had planned. They are beset by shady dealers, pirates, surfer pirates, sneaky girls, a shady uncle and a whole gaggle of other dangers. They have to figure out the clues their dad left them and get to the treasure before someone else does. 

This book was a chore to get through. The writing isn’t that great and it is just too unbelievable in every aspect. Then there were the “twin tirades”. Beck and Bick are twins and they like to have twin tirades; they even keep track of how many they have had. The twin tirade is basically them yelling at each other and saying mean things for about a minute and then making peace. The first one was sort of entertaining, the sixth one was sort of annoying and by the twelfth I was ready to skip it entirely. I think some kids will enjoy this story and the ones that follow (because of course it is a series), but it was definitely not for me. 

This was a fascinating look at the connections between football and concussions. The first thing you read about in the book is the history of the sport of football. One of the things I found most interesting was the fact that conversations about the dangers of concussions with football players started at the beginning of this game. Football has always been a dangerous sport and it started out even more dangerous than it is today. I knew players didn’t start out with the padding and helmets of today. What I didn’t realize was that they started out with no padding or helmets and that it was a fairly common occurrence for players to die. From the time football started in the 1890s to when it was reformed in the 1900s it seems between 10-20 players died each year as a result of injuries sustained playing football. The fact that the game persists to this day is astounding!

The other thing I found really interesting was the fact that brain injuries are so very common among all ages of football players. The book gets into the science pretty heavily which I think will go over some kids heads, but they will understand the injuries and deaths that football players have sustained. Concussions and football have been in the news a lot lately, but the connection actually started in the 1980s. Repeated concussions and repeated blows to the head without concussion have resulted in dementia, ALS, Alzheimers, and death among football players. And it isn’t just the professional players that have to worry about it. Brain damage has even been found in high school and college football players. The fact that we let our boys start playing at a very early age and then have them continue into their teens means they are likely to get hit thousands of times. This means there is a greater chance they will sustain brain damage or injuries. I’m glad I never played football, but I worry about those who have and will.

19. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction

In Search of Goliathus Hercules by Jennifer Angus, read by Angie, on 04/18/2014

Henri Bell has been sent to America to live with his Great Aunt Georgie. His father has disappeared in British Malay and his mother has gone to look for him. While staying with his aunt Henri discovers that he can communicate with insects. He suspects Georgie can too. Georgie’s neighbor is the sinister Mrs. Black who takes a peculiar interest in Henri. Henri runs away with the circus and starts working with the flea circus. He decides that he wants to travel to Malay to find his father and to capture Goliathus Hercules, a giant beetle of legend. On this journey Henri starts a metamorphosis of his own…he is turning more and more insect like. He is pursued always by Mrs. Black in one guise or another.

I really enjoyed the first part of this book where Henri learns about his new skills with insects and works with the flea circus. I loved the other characters he met at the circus: Tony, Billy and Robin. I thought it was really interesting how he kept enhancing the show with more varieties of insects with different abilities. Where I thought this story fell apart a bit was the end where they get to Malay and start looking for Goliathus Hercules. First there is Henri’s transformation which is never fully explained. The mystery of his father is cleared up, but we have no idea why the insect communication gift has seemed to occur differently with the members of the family. Then there is the evil Mrs. Black. Her desire for Goliathus Hercules and her pursuit of Henri are never explained at all and we are left wondering what it was all about. Jennifer Angus is a new author and I think she has some really interesting ideas; she just needs to work out the details a little better.

17. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

The Ghost of the Mary Celeste by Valerie Martin, read by Tracy, on 04/16/2014

In 1872 the American merchant vessel Mary Celeste was discovered adrift off the coast of Spain. Her cargo was intact and there was no sign of struggle, but the crew was gone. They were never found.

This maritime mystery lies at the center of an intricate narrative branching through the highest levels of late-nineteenth-century literary society. While on a voyage to Africa, a rather hard-up and unproven young writer named Arthur Conan Doyle hears of the Mary Celeste and decides to write an outlandish short story about what took place. This story causes quite a sensation back in the United States, particularly between sought-after Philadelphia spiritualist medium Violet Petra and a rational-minded journalist named Phoebe Grant, who is seeking to expose Petra as a fraud. Then there is the family of the Mary Celeste‘s captain, a family linked to the sea for generations and marked repeatedly by tragedy. Each member of this ensemble cast holds a critical piece to the puzzle of the Mary Celeste.

These three elements—a ship found sailing without a crew, a famous writer on the verge of enormous success, and the rise of an unorthodox and heretical religious fervor—converge in unexpected ways, in diaries, in letters, in safe harbors and rough seas. In a haunted, death-obsessed age, a ghost ship appearing in the mist is by turns a provocative mystery, an inspiration to creativity, and a tragic story of the disappearance of a family and of a bond between husband and wife that, for one moment, transcends the impenetrable barrier of death.

17. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Thriller/Suspense, Tracy

Bloody River Blues by Jeffery Deaver, read by Tracy, on 04/10/2014

Hollywood location scout John Pellam thought the scenic backwater town of Maddox, Missouri, would be the perfect site for an upcoming “Bonnie and Clyde”-style film. But after real bullets leave two people dead and one cop paralyzed, he’s more sought after than the Barrow Gang. Pellam had unwittingly wandered onto the crime scene just minutes before the brutal hits. Now the feds and local police want him to talk. Mob enforcers want him silenced. And a mysterious blonde just wants him. Trapped in a town full of sinister secrets and deadly deceptions, Pellam fears that death will imitate art, as the film shoot — and his life — race toward a breathtakingly bloody climax.

17. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Tracy

Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson, read by Tracy, on 04/03/2014

Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford wants to travel the world, pursue a career, and marry for love. But in 1914, the stifling restrictions of aristocratic British society and her mother’s rigid expectations forbid Lily from following her heart. When war breaks out, the spirited young woman seizes her chance for independence. Defying her parents, she moves to London and eventually becomes an ambulance driver in the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps—an exciting and treacherous job that takes her close to the Western Front.

Assigned to a field hospital in France, Lily is reunited with Robert Fraser, her dear brother Edward’s best friend. The handsome Scottish surgeon has always encouraged Lily’s dreams. She doesn’t care that Robbie grew up in poverty—she yearns for their friendly affection to become something more. Lily is the most beautiful—and forbidden—woman Robbie has ever known. Fearful for her life, he’s determined to keep her safe, even if it means breaking her heart.

In a world divided by class, filled with uncertainty and death, can their hope for love survive. . . or will it become another casualty of this tragic war?

17. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Fixed On You by Laurelin Paige, read by Jessica, on 04/16/2014

Stalking and restraining orders are a thing of Alayna Wither’s past. With her MBA newly in hand, she has her future figured out—move up at the nightclub she works at and stay away from any guy who might trigger her obsessive love disorder. A perfect plan.

But what Alayna didn’t figure on is Hudson Pierce, the new owner of the nightclub. He’s smart, rich, and gorgeous—the kind of guy Alayna knows to stay away from if she wants to keep her past tendencies in check. Except, Hudson’s fixed his sights on her. He wants her in his bed and makes no secret of it.

Avoiding him isn’t an option after he offers a business proposition she can’t turn down and she’s drawn further into his universe, unable to resist his gravitational pull. When she learns Hudson has a dark history of his own, she realizes too late that she’s fallen for the worst man she could possibly get involved with. Or maybe their less than ideal pasts give them an opportunity to heal each other and finally find the love their lives have been missing.