05. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie

Chasing the Milky Way by Erin E. Moulton, 283 pages, read by Leslie, on 02/24/2015

 Lucy Peevy has a dream–to get out of the trailer park she lives in and become a famous scientist. And she’s already figured out how to do that: Build a robot that will win a cash prize at the BotBlock competition and save it for college. But when you’ve got a mama who doesn’t always take her meds, it’s not easy to achieve those goals. Especially when Lucy’s mama takes her, her baby sister Izzy, and their neighbor Cam away in her convertible, bound for parts unknown. But Lucy, Izzy and Cam are good at sticking together, and even better at solving problems. But not all problems have the best solutions, and Lucy and Izzy must face the one thing they’re scared of even more than Mama’s moods: living without her at all.

Lucy is a very strong female character and this is a great read for girls especially.  Lucy and her neighbor Cam try to overlook that fact that Lucy’s mom is on the brink of a breakdown and are determined to try and fulfill their dreams of college by winning a robot competition.  Lots of action for boys here, too, as Lucy, Cam, her sister and mother take off on a road trip that they will never forget.  This book reminds us that everyone has a journey and not all of them run smoothly or as we hope they will.  Perseverance and love are the main messages that everyone will take away from this read.  Highly recommended.

05. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Leslie

The Eighth Day by Dianne K. Salerni, 309 pages, read by Leslie, on 02/23/2015

 In this riveting fantasy adventure, thirteen-year-old Jax Aubrey discovers a secret eighth day with roots tracing back to Arthurian legend. Fans of Percy Jackson will devour this first book in a new series that combines exciting magic and pulse-pounding suspense.

With lots of books with ties to the King Arthur legend, this one is refreshing in its portrayal.  Jax is orphaned and living with a guardian he does not like, who is barely older than he is, and he doesn’t understand why he can’t live with his relatives.  He doesn’t like where he lives, his guardian’s friends and he is determined to figure out how to get out of the situation.  Unfortunately, he has inherited his father’s power of persuasion and his guardian, trying to protect him from his destiny as much as possible, does Jax a disservice by keeping him in the dark.  And by doing so, Riley Pendare almost destroys that which he is charged with protecting.

A great book for reluctant readers of the male persuasion, this has just about everything they could like in a book.  It has magic, King Arthur, good guys, bad guys trying to overthrow the world as we know it, a girl to protect, and a teenage boy who keeps trying to figure it all out.  Highly recommended for all.

05. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie

Sojourn by R.A. Salvatore, 309 pages, read by Leslie, on 02/16/2015

Far above the merciless Underdark, Drizzt Do’Urden fights to survive the elements of Toril’s harsh surface. The drow begins a sojourn through a world entirely unlike his own–even as he evades the dark elves of his past.

In this 3rd and final book of the trilogy, Drizzt leaves the Underdark for a life on the surface, or so he hopes.  At first, he again lives the life of a hermit and although the sun makes it difficult for him, he is determined to find his place in this world.  He eventually meets a blind Ranger, who befriends and teaches him what he needs to know about his new world.  Drizzt comes to the conclusion, with some help, that not all deities are bad, and that living the life of a Ranger is what he is meant to do.  Although tragedy dogs him through the first part of the book, he learns his way and finds the place he is meant to be.

A very good conclusion to the trilogy, in my opinion.  While it does leave open the chance for his character to appear in other Forgotten Realm books, it was finished in a satisfactory manner.  I thoroughly enjoyed the whole series and recommend it to anyone.

05. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

Bigger Than a Bread Box by Laurel Snyder, 223 pages, read by Lisa, on 03/04/2015

A magical breadbox that delivers whatever you wish for—as long as it fits inside? It’s too good to be true! Twelve-year-old Rebecca is struggling with her parents’ separation, as well as a sudden move to her Gran’s house in another state. For a while, the magic bread box, discovered in the attic, makes life away from home a little easier. Then suddenly it starts to make things much, much more difficult, and Rebecca is forced to decide not just where, but who she really wants to be. Laurel Snyder’s most thought-provoking book yet.

Description from Goodreads.com.

05. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Teen Books

Circle of Stones by Catherine Fisher, 298 pages, read by Angie, on 03/04/2015

Bladud is a Druid king forced out into the wilderness because of an illness. After wondering in the wilderness he finds a healing spring that cures his illness. He builds a temple to the goddess Sulis in appreciation for her healing. He erects a circle of stones and his people return to him.

Zac is apprenticed to architect Jonathan Forrest who is going to build the King’s Circus in Bath. Forrest is obsessed with druids and designs the Circus to mimic ancient druid structures. Zac is down on his luck after his father gambled away their fortune. He resents his lack of means and being the assistant to a mad man like Forrest. He has to decide if he is loyal to his master or to his idea of who he should be.

Sulis has just moved to Bath and into one of the houses on the Circus. There was a tragedy in her past that has put her in witness protection for the last ten years. Bath offers a fresh start with new foster parents in a new city and a new name. However, she believes she is being stalked by the man from her past. She has to come to terms with the truth of her past in order to create a new future.

These three stories all revolve around the same place but are very different. I thought some of the stories worked better than others. I loved Sulis’s tale and thought the reveal about the tragedy in her past was really well done. I like how her story tied in the story of the Circus and the other two characters. I wasn’t that interested in Zac’s story mainly because I really didn’t like him as a character. I wanted more information about Forrest and less whining from Zac. Bladud’s story was the briefest with the least amount of details. The three characters each had their own style of chapters with different fonts and styles of writing. I was also occasionally thrown by the probably historically accurate spelling, punctuation and writing of the Zac chapters. I thought this was an interesting, different type of novel and quite enjoyed the uniqueness of it even if I didn’t enjoy every part as much as the whole.

This is the story of chocolate from its beginnings in South and Central America to its trip across the pond into Europe. It is the story of how chocolate went from being a bitter, ceremonial and medicinal plant to the candy we all love today. The history of chocolate is complex with ties to colonialism, slavery, the industrial revolution and climate change. I really enjoyed the history of chocolate, but was less than thrilled by all the scientific information packed into the book. This is geared towards middle grade readers who I am not sure will care about the chemical make up or how those chemicals were found to affect humans. This is a pretty long book for the age it is geared towards as well. I think it could have been paired down a bit to focus more on the historical and modern parts of chocolate’s story which would have made it a little bit more readable for its audience.

I received this book from Netgalley.com.

05. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie

Exile by R.A. Salvatore, 343 pages, read by Leslie, on 02/11/2015

 “As I became a creature of the empty tunnels, survival became easier and more difficult all at once. I gained in the physical skills and experience necessary to live on. I could defeat almost anything that wandered into my chosen domain. It did not take me long, however, to discover one nemesis that I could neither defeat nor flee. It followed me wherever I went-indeed, the farther I ran, the more it closed in around me. My enemy was solitude, the interminable, incessant silence of hushed corridors.”

In this second book of the trilogy, Drizzt decides that his only way to escape his family and the dark elves way of life, is to live by himself in the depths of his underworld.  He is afraid to interact with any others he meets, until he comes to the realization that he is slowly becoming that which he hoped to avoid.  He decides that he needs to reverse this by hoping that if he goes to the dwarven city and living with whatever fate they decide for him.  He had saved the life of one of them and wants desparately to find out if he is the good person he wants to be.  After living with them for a time, he and his companions learn that his mother has sent someone after him, to try and appease their goddess. Drizzt then decides that he needs to set out again, hoping to outrun his heritage and his mother’s determination.

I enjoyed this book, as much as the first, and it was much faster to read, maybe because the tempo of the book was not as much set up and explanation as it was actual action.  You get to really feel for Drizzt and the fate of his life.  It’s easy to see parallels in real life, to compare what people you know have overcome to be the people they want.  A very good read if you enjoy fantasy settings.

 

05. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Mystery · Tags:

The Mist-torn Witches by Barb Hendee, 326 pages, read by Kira, on 03/02/2015

mist tornTwo sisters living in a small village are barely hanging on.  The elder Celine, pretends to be a seer like her mother (though her mother was a real seer).  The prince of the realm bribes Celine to tell a rich girl that marrying him will be a good choice.  As Celine pretends to read for the rich girl, she has her first real vision, in which the girl is brutally murdered, if she marries the prince.  Will the sisters survive the wrath of the evil prince?  so begins the tale.  This book was much more enjoyable than the 2nd in the series (which I read beforehand).  
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05. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, NonFiction · Tags:

American Farmer: The Heart of Our Country by Katrina Fried, 276 pages, read by Brian, on 03/03/2015

farmerPaul Mobley, traveled across the country to get into the heart of the farmers of American, not corporate farming but generations of farmers who have worked through the weather, economy and other hardships.  This book displays beautiful pictures of the people in their natural settings and the verse wonderful and striking.

 

05. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Thoughtful by S.C. Stephens, 561 pages, read by Jessica, on 03/04/2015

91OMupwGzVL._SL1500_The only place Kellan Kyle has ever felt at home is onstage. Gripping his guitar in a darkened bar, he can forget his painful past. These days his life revolves around three things: music, his bandmates, and hot hookups. Until one woman changes everything . . .

Kiera is the kind of girl Kellan has no business wanting-smart, sweet, and dating his best friend. Certain he could never be worthy of her love, he hides his growing attraction . . . until Kiera’s own tormented heart hints that his feelings might not be one-sided. Now, no matter the consequences, Kellan is sure of one thing-he won’t let Kiera go without a fight.

04. March 2015 · 1 comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Mariah

Haunted by Kelley Armstrong, 495 pages, read by Mariah, on 03/02/2015

Eve Levine was a witch who practiced black magic when she was alive. Her reputation proceeded her throughout the supernatural world. When she died attempting to escape a prison for supernaturals, Eve left behind a teenage daughter, Savannah. Most of her time since death has been spent trying to continue to watch over her daughter, though they live in separate worlds. Now, however, the Fates have a different, and far more dangerous, task for her. Eve has been asked to track down and help capture a demonic creature known as a Nix. As the tale progresses, it turns out that Eve was not quite the dark magic practitioner she had been painted by her peers. While willing to cross a lot of lines and stand up for herself among the magical crowd, Eve has a strong moral code. During her job, Eve mends hurt feelings and regains lost trusts that occurred while she was alive. She comes to terms with her new place in the universe and, by the end of her quest, Eve realizes she can let go of the past. The book ends with Eve starting an exciting new future with a job that many might consider the polar opposite of her earthly work. Eve Levine now guards the earth as an angel.

This is the fifth book in Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series. It takes a darker turn than her previous books because of the characteristics of the Nix that Eve is hunting. While Armstrong has always been happy to explore the mayhem that allowing a werewolf or sorcerer to revel in their baser instincts can cause, Haunted focuses on a serial killer. Darker and much more intricate, Armstrong arranges a plot line that brings more mystery and suspense into her fantasy world.

03. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Fiction, Paula, Romance, Teen Books

Where She Went by Forman, Gayle, 264 pages, read by Paula, on 02/28/2015

It’s been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future-and each other.

Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

03. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Autobiographies, Brian, NonFiction

Revolution by Russell Brand, 299 pages, read by Brian, on 03/03/2015

brandYou say you want a revolution….Russell Brand’s new book is informative, well researched and funny.  Russell brings sharp wit as he talks about societies ills and ways to fix them.  Never left hanging, I read this book pretty much straight through to the end.  Bravo Mr. Brand.

 

03. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, NonFiction, Sports

Sportsmans Park: The Players, the Fans & the Game by Dan O'Neil, 160 pages, read by Brian, on 03/02/2015

parkStories and never-before seen pictures of the greatest ballpark in the greatest baseball city, St. Louis, Missouri.

 

03. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Black Panther: The Man Without Fear by David Liss, 144 pages, read by Brian, on 03/02/2015

blackDaredevil is gone who is going to protect us from Vlad the Impaler?  Black Panther, of course, the smooth moving superhero who gets down and dirty.  By the way, he never asked for Spider-Mans help.

 

03. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe by Cullen Bunn, 96 pages, read by Brian, on 03/02/2015

marvelDeadpool is a sick sick sick individual, yet at the same time, very funny.  What would happen if Deadpool’s twisted mind wanted to kill all the Marvel superheros?  This might be a problem.

 

03. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

Good Catholics: The Battle Over Abortion in the Catholic Church by Patricia Miller, 344 pages, read by Madeline, on 02/22/2015

Good Catholics tells the story of the remarkable individuals who have engaged in a nearly fifty-year struggle to assert the moral legitimacy of a pro-choice position in the Catholic Church, as well as the concurrent efforts of the Catholic hierarchy to suppress abortion dissent and to translate Catholic doctrine on sexuality into law. Miller recounts a dramatic but largely untold history of protest and persecution, which demonstrates the profound and surprising influence that the conflict over abortion in the Catholic Church has had not only on the church but also on the very fabric of U.S. politics. Good Catholics addresses many of today’s hot-button questions about the separation of church and state, including what concessions society should make in public policy to matters of religious doctrine, such as the Catholic ban on contraception.

From Goodreads.com.

03. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense

The Racketeer by John Grisham, 340 pages, read by Madeline, on 02/20/2015

Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered.

Judge Raymond Fawcett has just become number five.

Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise? His name, for the moment, is Malcolm Bannister. Job status? Former attorney. Current residence? The Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland.

On paper, Malcolm’s situation isn’t looking too good these days, but he’s got an ace up his sleeve. He knows who killed Judge Fawcett, and he knows why. The judge’s body was found in his remote lakeside cabin. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies: Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. And one large, state-of-the-art, extremely secure safe, opened and emptied.

What was in the safe? The FBI would love to know. And Malcolm Bannister would love to tell them. But everything has a price—especially information as explosive as the sequence of events that led to Judge Fawcett’s death. And the Racketeer wasn’t born yesterday . . .

Nothing is as it seems and everything’s fair game in this wickedly clever new novel from John Grisham, the undisputed master of the legal thriller.

from Goodreads.com.

03. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Madeline, NonFiction, Travel

World's Best Cities: Celebrating 220 Great Destinations by National Geographic Society, Keith Bellows, 336 pages, read by Madeline, on 02/15/2015

Delving into the heart and soul of more than 225 cities around the globe, World’s Best Cities is a glossy, glorious tribute to cosmopolitan life. In photos and words, this irresistible volume showcases long-established great cities like Paris, Rome, New York, London, and Tokyo, as well as exciting up-and-comers, including Denver, Asheville, Oslo, and Abu Dhabi. As readable as it is beautiful, this expansive travel guide offers a playful, informative mix of inspirational personal narratives; photo galleries, and fun facts; plus sidebars on oddities; where to find the best food and shopping; novels that capture a particular city’s atmosphere; local secrets; and more. Many additional cities appear in illustrated lists, such as eco-friendly cities, foodie cities; and happiest cities. The twenty-first century is the Century of the City, and on-the-go visitors and armchair travelers alike will make World’s Best Cities a must-have volume to accompany all their urban adventures.

From Goodreads.com.

03. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Madeline

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, 384 pages, read by Madeline, on 02/10/2015

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty-five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.
As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

From Goodreads.com.