24. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Award Winner, Brian, Fiction, Science Fiction

Ready Player One by Ernist Cline, 390 pages, read by brian, on 04/23/2015

I ready the book, Ready Player One, liked it.  A friend suggested listening to Wil Wheaton read to book and I love the book even more than I thought I could.  Wheaton has a knack of reading something and making it sound better and he is very good at knocking himself when the book calls for it.  If you like puzzles with references to other decades and especially classic video games, this is the book for you.

ready

23. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Fiction, Mystery, Paula, Thriller/Suspense

Dark Rooms by Lili Anolik, 323 pages, read by Paula, on 04/22/2015

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The Secret History meets Sharp Objects in this stunning debut about murder and glamour set in the ambiguous and claustrophobic world of an exclusive New England prep school.

Death sets the plot in motion: the murder of Nica Baker, beautiful, wild, enigmatic, and only sixteen. The crime is solved, and quickly–a lonely classmate, unrequited love, a suicide note confession–but memory and instinct won’t allow Nica’s older sister, Grace, to accept the case as closed.

Dropping out of college and living at home, working at the moneyed and progressive private high school in Hartford, Connecticut, from which she recently graduated, Grace becomes increasingly obsessed with identifying and punishing the real killer.

Compulsively readable, Lili Anolik’s debut novel combines the verbal dexterity of Marisha Pessl’s Special Topic in Calamity Physics and the haunting atmospherics and hairpin plot twists of Megan Abbott’s Dare Me.

 

23. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Apocalyptic, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books

Loki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr., 358 pages, read by KIRA, on 04/22/2015

loki's wLokithor swing  220154-apocalyptic-and-post-apocalyptic-fiction-ragnark ragnrtMatt Thorson discovers that Not only is he (as well as his family) descended from Thor, but that he is the designated or chosen Champion for the coming Ragnarok.  He needs to enlist the help of the local punk Fenn whom he has disliked from childhood.  I really enjoyed the storyline.  I’d think it would be headed off in one direction, and be delighted when it would take a different tack.  I enjoyed the way the relationships changed for the characters.

22. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Dystopia, Eric, Fantasy, Fiction

The Unwanteds: Island of Fire by Lisa McMann, 451 pages, read by Eric, on 04/17/2015

The magic of Artime is gone, and the surviving students and faculty are looking to Alex Stowe for answers and hope. He must find a way to restore what has been lost, including Lani and Samheed, who have been imprisoned on Warbler Island.

This is the third adventure in the Unwanteds series, and quite possibly my favorite so far. While I’m not sure why the far more experienced teachers would rely so heavily on a leader in his early teens, the intended readership most likely welcomes the empowerment of someone their age. Including other islands and societies provides welcome mystery, adventure, and danger to the story. Experience brings changes to budding love, which also is handled well. As with the second novel, the story ends right when it most needs to continue, which I would find frustrating if I hadn’t already grabbed the next two books. Bring ‘em on.

22. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Award Winner, Brian, Fiction, Science Fiction

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, 371 pages, read by Brian, on 04/15/2015

Ready Player One is has won many awards:  Year 2044 and the world pretty much sucked and many of the younger people live in the virtual world, theOasis,  Wade Watts is one of those who spent his days in a virtual world.  When a wealthy computer programmer dies, he leaves his wealth and power to those who can solve his puzzle.  A puzzle filled with clues from past decades, especially the 1980’s.

ready
21. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Paranormal, Teen Books

The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen, 144 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/30/2015

The world of The Wicked + The Divine is one where every 90 years, 12 gods and goddesses are reincarnated. The become pop stars, beloved and reviled by the public. Their godhood bestows them with unusual powers. It sounds like a great gig, but there’s a major catch: they will die within two years. This particular iteration of reincarnation is not going well for Luci, the incarnation of Lucifer. She finds herself being framed for murder and the culprit can only be one of the Pantheon. Laura, a fan girl, takes it upon herself to find who just who is behind Luci’s incarceration.
This is both an intriguing concept and a beautiful comic. Well paced and plotted, with gorgeous, full-color artwork – there’s little not to like. This is the first trade volume, so there are quite a few characters whose motivations and personalities are vague, but I fully expect subsequent volumes to round them out.

21. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books

The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith, 336 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/29/2015

Ariel’s first life was lived somewhere in the Middle East. He had the distinction of being the only survivor in his village when the rebel forces clashed with the military. His path leads him first to a refugee camp and later to a foster home in America. Ariel’s new life is with a family in Sunday, West Virginia. His new father works for a large biotech firm and had found a way of bringing animals back from extinction as evidenced by the family pet: a bionic crow suffering from severe depression named Alex. Ariel and his new brother Max are sent off to a summer camp run by the company their father works for. It probably wouldn’t be so bad if the camp was a normal one. Instead it is a camp designed for technology-addicted teenaged boys, an affliction that affects neither Ariel nor Max. Needless to say, the camp is less than idyllic.
In the meantime, a man named Leonard is slowly making his way across America in a beat-up U-Haul. Leonard suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and consequently finds himself doing the bidding of a voice belonging to Joseph Stalin (his more destructive urges are kept more or less in check by another voice known only as 3-60). Leonard has also managed to get his hands on some nuclear material and has constructed a bomb, which rides cross-country with him in the back of the van. Since being around unstable nuclear material isn’t particularly good for one’s health, Leonard is, quite literally, falling apart.
In between these two narratives are the journals from an ill-fated 19th century Arctic excursion aboard the ship Alex Crow. They tried to find passage through the North before becoming trapped by ice. It doesn’t go well.
All three of these seemingly disparate narratives manage to fit together in Andrew Smith’s newest novel, which, in all honesty, is not the least bit surprising after reading last year’s excellent and unusual Grasshopper Jungle. Not only is this one completely unpredictable, it’s utterly hilarious. It easily captures the tone and character of teenage boys, for better and for worse. The writing is reminiscent of one of my all-time favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut, which only makes it better in my opinion. My only criticism is that the biotech angle is so similar to that in Grasshopper Jungle that it feels almost derivative. The stakes here aren’t quite as grave in this one either. Still, plenty of food for thought and a thoroughly engaging read.

21. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Fantasy, Graphic Novel

Rat Queens, Volume One: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis Wiebe, 128 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/24/2015

In the post-apocalyptic fantasy world of Rat Queens, there are plenty of mercenaries, but none more easily identifiable or notorious than the Rat Queens. The Rat Queens consist of four very distinct ladies, each with her own enviable talents. They’re strong, smart and snarky. They’re also fond of liquor, swearing and fighting, which makes for a very entertaining comic.
The story is hilarious and the girls are indeed awesome. I wish that there had been a bit more plot development, but I’m willing to overlook it for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being the characters themselves. The artwork is certainly eye-catching with bright colors and a distinctive style. My only real criticism here is the costuming of the Queens. Seriously, strapless corsets? Low-cut armor? Talk about impractical. There’s only one character who even remotely looks like she’d be ready and able to fight, the rest look like they’re on the way to a cosplay convention. In other words, I seriously doubt they’d have been portrayed this way if it were a woman writing/illustrating. That being said, the rest of the comic was awesome enough for me to find a place in my heart for it and I eagerly await Volume 2.

21. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction · Tags:

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann, 390 pages, read by Angie, on 04/06/2015

Quill prevails when the strong survive is the motto of the isolated island of Quill. Children are taught that anything artistic and creative is seen as unacceptable, and only those that conform to the rules of Quill are allowed to survive and succeed. When children reach the age of thirteen they participate in The Purge and are sorted into three groups – Wanteds (who will go on to study at Quill’s university and become members of government), Necessaries (who will do the menial labor), and Unwanteds. The Unwanteds are immediately loaded on a transport and sent to the Great Lake of Boiling Oil to be killed, so they will no longer a blight on Quill’s perfect society. Alex has always known that he will be deemed an Unwanted, but he is still shocked and terrified when he hears his name called during the Purge. Meanwhile, his twin brother, Aaron, has surpassed their Necessary parents and has become a Wanted. Alex steels himself for his fate and with the rest of the Unwanteds leaves Quill forever and faces imminent death.

Except Alex doesn’t die. When they reach the Great Lake of Boiling Oil, the horrifying landscape melts away to reveal a luscious paradise where emotions and artistic abilities are honored and magic is part of the way of life. Alex and his new friends discover that Unwanteds have not been killed as everyone in Quill believes, but have taken refuge in Artimé under the protection of Mr. Marcus Today. Mr. Today is a powerful mage that has been defying High Priest Justine, the leader of Quill, for years. As Alex grows in his skills as an artist in Artimé, becoming a powerful mage in his own right, he cannot shake the feeling of longing he has for his beloved twin brother Aaron, and he vows to find a way to save him and bring him to Artimé. But to do so puts all the Unwanteds and Artimé itself at terrible risk – because if Aaron refuses to come with his twin, Quill and its mighty Quillitary will come to destroy the safe haven that Mr. Today has built.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the ones that follow it in the series. However, I did have a few issues with the world itself. As with any dystopian novel, I want the world to make sense and this world just didn’t at times. For one thing, Quill has fallen into disrepair and segregation within 50 years. The world is crumbling around them, yet the citizens of Quill have become emotionless automatons obeying every doctrine delivered by High Priest Justine. They are so indoctrinated that they see nothing wrong with sending their children off to die. Quill is a desolate wasteland falling into disrepair and Artimé is a land of plenty filled with magic and magical creatures. How do these two worlds exist side by side on a small island? Sure it’s magic, but I wanted a bit more explanation than that. That being said I really enjoyed the story. I love the characters and I enjoyed the magic of Artimé. I enjoyed the creativity of the magic and loved that that the magic spells are those created from the arts: deadly rhyming couplets, invisible paintbrushes, origami dragons, etc. I also really liked that the kids in Artimé were real kids with real emotions and problems. Alex truly loves his brother and wants to be with him despite the obstacles in his way. In order to accomplish that he makes mistakes and alienates his friends. The other kids are equally flawed and perfect as are some of the adults. The Unwanteds is a magical ride that will leave readers wanting to immediately start the next book and the next.

Lisa McMann will be speaking at Missouri River Regional Library on Wednesday, April 22nd at 7 pm.

 

 

joy of gf cooking This book has inspired me that I can bake for my family members again. There are several diabetics and my young niece has been diagnosed with Celiac’s. I used to love baking but haven’t done much for the last few years. All the recipes in this book are suitable for gluten-sensitive, diabetic and low-carb or low-sugar dieters. The recipes are from legendary bread maker and James Beard Award-winning author Peter Reinhart. The main difference is the type of flour and type of sweeteners used. Carefully crafted for anyone who is gluten sensitive, diabetic, or needs to reduce carbs to prevent illness or lose weight, these forgiving recipes taste just as good as the original wheat versions—and are easier to bake than traditional breads. By using readily available or home-ground nut and seed flours and alternative and natural sweeteners as the foundation for their groundbreaking style of baking, Reinhart and Wallace avoid the carb-heavy starch products commonly found in gluten-free baking. Additionally, each recipe can easily be made vegan by following the dairy and egg substitution guidelines.

20. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Cookbooks, Informational Book, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: ,

Healthy Calendar Diabetic Cooking: A Full Year of Delicious Menus and Easy Recipes by Lara Rondinelli-Hamilton, Bucko Lamplough, Jennifer, 445 pages, read by Tammy, on 04/19/2015

healthy calendar This cookbook teaches people how to transform their diet permanently to one healthy for diabetics. Each month new recipes are added that teach new good habits. Weekly menu lists are included as well as full nutritional information for each meal. This is the second edition of this book from the American Diabetic Association and includes new tips with what medical science has learned about blood sugar in the last couple of years. Most recipes have common ingredients and are easy to prepare. With hundreds of recipes and an innovative design, it’s easy to see why this is one of the American Diabetes Association’s all-time best-selling cookbooks. In addition to new recipes and menus, this updated edition includes dozens of recipes and recipe alterations designed to created gluten-free meals. Like many with diabetes, author and dietitian Lara Hamilton was recently diagnosed with celiac disease and subsequently went on a gluten-free diet. Using her firsthand experience, she gives readers expert tips on how to plan meals, alter recipes, and follow a gluten-free diet.

straw bale gardens This is definitely an intriguing idea for gardening. It eliminates needing a tiller, prepping the soil, composting etc. It also raises the gardening bed up to an easier level similar to raised garden plans but without building frames and buying bags and bags of soil. This book has lovely photographs and good step by step instructions.

18. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction

The Amazing Wilmer Dooley: A Mumpley Middle School Mystery by Fowler DeWitt, 256 pages, read by Angie, on 04/16/2015

Wilmer is extremely excited to go to the science fair weekend with his friend Ernie and his crush Roxie. He has a whole experiment planned on bacteria. Once he gets there his excitement dims. His rival Claudia his there with his cousin Vlad and Mrs. Padgett, his biology teacher who hates him, is a judge. The hotel where the science fair is being held is in the middle of nowhere and falling apart and there are these strange announcements all the time over the loudspeaker. Wilmer begins to suspect something is going on and has to figure it out before all the kids turn into zombies.

I am sure this book will find fans with younger readers. However, I thought it was pretty terrible. The story was impossible and the characters were terribly unlikable. It was really hard to get through and I almost gave up on it. Definitely not my favorite.

18. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kim K, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Someone Like Her by Sandra Owens, 293 pages, read by Kim K, on 04/17/2015

Known to the K2 Special Services team as Romeo, ex-Navy SEAL Jake Buchanan may spend his downtime living up to his nickname, but there’s one woman who sets his heart racing like no one else can: Maria Kincaid. Unfortunately, his boss – her brother – has made it crystal clear that she’s off-limits. Jake doesn’t do commitment, while Maria is the type of woman who deserves a promise of forever. Yet Maria finds herself drawn to Jake, the man who stares at her with a desire she wishes he’d act on.

Still haunted by her horrific childhood, Maria goes searching for the father she’s never met and stumbles into a nightmarish experience. With her life in grave danger, she reaches out to Jake, her brother’s second-in-command. Jake figures he can help Maria without giving in to temptation. But some things are easier said than done.

–from Goodreads.com.

18. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody K, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

For you by Kristen Ashley, 583 pages, read by Melody, on 04/17/2015

Lieutenant Alexander Colton and February Owens were high school sweethearts. Everyone in their small town knew from the moment they met they were meant for each other. But something happened and Feb broke Colt’s heart then she turned wild and tragedy struck. Colt meted out revenge against the man who brought Feb low but even though Colt risked it all for her, Feb turned her back on him and left town.

Fifteen years later, Feb comes back to help run the family bar. But there’s so much water under the bridge separating her and Colt everyone knows they’ll never get back together.

Until someone starts hacking up people in Feb’s life. Colt is still Colt and Feb is still Feb so the town watches as Colt goes all out to find the murderer while trying to keep Feb safe.

As the bodies pile up, The Feds move in and a twisting, turning story unravels exposing a very sick man who has claimed numerous victims along the way, Feb and Colt battle their enduring attraction and the beautiful but lost history that weaves them together.

–From Goodreads.com.

Bart Ehrman is an American New Testament scholar and is currently a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He completed his Masters of Divinity and PhD at Princeton Seminary. He has since then written numerous books looking at the New Testament in a historical and critical manner. On a more personal note, he began his studies as an evangelical Christian, but now considers himself agnostic. As he explains in God’s Problem, it was the problem of suffering that started him down the road he has taken. He was actually researching in an effort to explain and excuse suffering. Instead, what he found finally drove him to renounce his faith.

Ehrman covers several usual reasons that people use to explain why a loving God would allow people to suffer. There is the justification that people have sinned and God uses suffering as a punishment or learning device to lead them back to following his rules. This reasoning traces back to the beginning of the Jewish faith. The Old Testament prophets used this explanation. Later prophets (think Job) believed that suffering is a test that must be passed in order to receive God’s rewards. Another, more pessimistic, view is that suffering is a part of this world because sin is in the world and there is nothing to be done other than accept that. Ehrman explores each answer in miniscule detail with plenty of cited supports for reference.

It is an interesting book, written to be accessible to the layman. I felt Ehrman did a good job validating his stance. In fact, it was almost too much supporting evidence to read without becoming wearied of it. Ehrman did not sway  any beliefs or decisions that I already had in place, but I did enjoy reading it. I would not recommend this book to someone looking for an actual answer to why God allows suffering. Ehrman never finds the answer he was searching for.

simply sugar free This book has lots of healthy recipes with normal ingredients and common cooking techniques and supplies. However, I was hoping to find a book that would give me information on carbohydrates and sugar as well. My husband was recently diagnosed with diabetes and my niece was diagnosed last fall with Celiac’s disease. I was hoping for an “all-in-one book. So, this book is not exactly what I was hoping for but did have some yummy sounding recipes that I may use for the nieces and nephews visits. If you are looking for general healthier eating this book could be for you. If you need specific nutritional information for the recipes you will need to look elsewhere.

17. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Graphic Novel, Tammy · Tags: ,

Queen and Country, Vol. 1: Broken Ground by Greg Rucka, 362 pages, read by Tammy, on 04/13/2015

queen and country An adult graphic novel that places the reader inside a special section of British Ministry of Intelligence. Tara Chace is the main character you follow but the reader is also with the leaders of her division. She is a special agent called in to clean up a mess or sometimes create a new one. Morals and the greater good are defined by governmental goals and trading with other countries rather than asking is killing right or wrong. Now she has to deal with the consequences of her assignments in a very personal way. 

worth it This book gives you quick and direct financial advice from should you use a credit or debit card to how to invest. If you’ve ever wondered if it’s better to rent or buy a house or buy or lease a car this book is for you. It helps you see short-term and long-term benefits in a variety of situations and addresses how some advice has changed in recent years. It is organized by six basic topics: Getting Started, Shelter, Automotive, Investing, Family Matters and Retirement.

17. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, 213 pages, read by Tammy, on 04/16/2015

perks A moving and deeply touching teen novel. Charlie shares his thoughts and feelings with us through diary style writing as he experiences his freshman year of high school. Charlie is a sensitive, naive teen who is unsure how to join in. His English teacher encourages him to get more involved and to work on his writing. With the teacher’s encouragement he makes friends with a couple of seniors and now has a social life. He feels emotions deeply and often internalizes what happens around him including the death of his aunt when he was a child in a car accident. He holds himself responsible. This book does deal with other realities of teen experience including drugs and sex. One of the main characters is also a homosexual but the book presents his story as Charlie’s friend. His being gay is simply part of who he is. None of the topics brought up in the story are treated as taboo, but rather the reader experiences Charlies thoughts and feelings about them and the lessons he learns whether happy or painful ones.