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.

17. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Crafts, Informational Book, Marsha, NonFiction

Bookworks by Sue Dogget, read by Marsha, on 04/17/2014

bookworksBookworks is a text about bookbinding and gives a lot of information about different methods of putting books together.  To begin, I should mention this may not be the best book for a complete beginner.  Some of the diagrams are rather unclear as are the instructions.  The author seems to assume the reader has done some bookbinding prior to picking up her text.  This is not to say the book is all bad, however.  There is a marvelous section accordion folding that I have not seen in other texts of this nature.  It has a lot of different ideas for using the said folds for various applications.  Dogget also keeps the number of bindings she tries to teach to a minimum, thus not overwhelming the reader with all the different ways available to bind a book.  The areas I feel could be improved include embossing covers and cutting recesses.  These features were glossed over and I feel she could have spent more time with them.  There are lots of great ideas in here, including a method for making a clasp for a diary you won’t want to miss.  It is worth picking up Bookworks and giving it a look.

16. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira

The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe, read by Kira, on 04/14/2014

The-Hum-and-the-Shiver-Alex-Bledsoe1Wild and willful Brownwyn Hyatt is back from the Iraq war.  There are omens that her mother is likely to die, and a haint is wanting thumshivo talk to her.  Will it be possible to change the future and keep her mom alive. Or if her Mom does die, will Brownwyn be able to remember her musical skills in order to learn her Mother’s song.  Will she be able to resist the temptation of her old boyfriend, bad-boy, Dwight?  It also includes the storylines of a Christian minister trying to make inroads into this isolated community of people called the Tufa.  And it includes the storyline of Don Swayback, 1/8th Tufa, who comes back to his roots.

I really liked the storyline of the book up until the last chapter, even if it was a bit slow-paced.  I didn’t like the way the protagotuatha_de_danann_by_mirovia-d4h4bx0nist behaved in the end, so totally self-centereeriu_queen_of_tarad.

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

The Misadventures of the Magician's Dog by Frances Sackett, read by Angie, on 04/14/2014

Peter is your typical army brat kid. He lives with his mom and sisters while his dad is deployed flying jets in Afghanistan. Peter is really worried about his dad and a little mad at him too. On his birthday the last thing Peter wants is a party or a big to do, so it is with a lot of surprise that he announces he wants a dog. Peter can’t figure out where the words came from because he is afraid of dogs. But he adopts The Dog from the shelter and takes him home. That is where the fun begins. The Dog is not your normal dog. The first thing you notice is that he talks, the second thing you notice is that he can do magic. Turns out The Dog is a magician’s dog and he needs Peter’s help to free his master. The magician has turned himself into a rock. Peter starts to learn to do magic with The Dog’s help but soon realizes he has to get angry to do it. The more magic he does the angrier he gets. He wonders if magic is worth the price he is going to have to pay.

I really enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. Peter is a great character who seems really real. He is dealing with a lot of things that kids deal with today: absent parent, trying to be the man of the house, taking care of his younger sisters, not showing how scared and frustrated he is. I really enjoyed the struggle he went through when he was deciding about the magic. He had to come to a place where love was more important than anger. That is not a thing a lot of people can do and I thought it was a great lesson in the book. Plus there are dinosaurs. Who doesn’t love magic dinosaurs?

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

Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli, read by Angie, on 04/12/2014

Jack lives in Hokey Pokey; a land inhabited by children and surrounded by places like Snuggler and Stuff and Socks and The Kid. Jack likes to hang with his amigos, giving Tarzan yells and riding his wild bike Scramjet. Then one day Scramjet is stolen by The Girl and Jack is different. He keeps hearing a whistle and the tattoo that every kid gets in Hokey Pokey is fading. His friends try to help him but there is nothing they can do. Things are suddenly different and they don’t know how to handle it.

This is a strange little book that I am not sure I completely understand and I am pretty sure kids will not. I can’t decided if Hokey Pokey is a metaphor for childhood or a dreamland or what exactly. It is definitely not the real world as we see the real world in the latter part of the book. I was not a fan.

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

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen, read by Angie, on 04/15/2014

Mickey Cray has been brought down by a frozen iguana. It has caused a concussion, headaches and double-vision. It also means he hasn’t been able to work as an animal wrangler. Bills are piling up so his wife has gone to China for a job, leaving Mickey and son Wahoo home alone. Then along comes Expedition Survivor and Derek Badger. He is a reality tv survivalist who believes his own hype and wants to film an Everglades episode; he is also a big fake. Mickey and Wahoo hire on to the show and start saving Derek from one animal after another. He is almost drowned by an alligator, bitten on the nose by a snapping turtle, bitten several times by a snake and attacked by a bat he is trying to eat. Mickey and Wahoo are joined on their expedition by Tuna, a girl in Wahoo’s class whose father hits her and who needs a safe place to hide out. The Expedition Survivor shoot is filled with chaos, mainly because of its star. Things get even worse when Tuna’s dad shows up and kidnaps Mickey.

This was a fun book. Carl Hiaasen obviously knows his animal info and is passionate about it. I thought he did a great job of passing along information about wildlife conservation and the plight of animals without shoving it down our throats. I liked how it was just a part of the story. I really enjoyed Mickey Cray, he is a fabulous character and one that was fun to read. His relationship with his son Wahoo was also really good. I liked how they were more partners than father and son, but Wahoo wasn’t the caretaker. I thought Derek Badger was hilarious and just how a reality tv star would be. Of course everything is fake and the star is a diva. The only part I didn’t think worked quite as well as Tuna’s dad. I thought his motivations were unclear and a little over the top. Other than that I really enjoyed it. The audiobook was great!

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

Dark torment by Karen Robards, read by Melody, on 04/12/2014

“I’ve a feeling you’ll soon rue this day…”

These were the fateful words Sarah Markham’s father uttered after she threw herself between the convict lashed to the ship’s mast and the captain’s whip.

Transported to Australia for crimes against the Crown, Dominic Gallagher had been labeled a troublemaker. No humor lightened his handsome face; everything about him looked dark, deliberate, and dangerous. But independent, feisty Sarah couldn’t bear to see any man flogged to death. Instead she insisted her father buy this young Irish rebel and bring him back to their ranch.

Soon a forbidden passion began to blossom between the indentured man and his mistress in this lush, primitive land. A twist of fate swept them together amid betrayal and intrigue as a man faced risking everything for freedom and a woman faced risking everything for love.

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

Crashed by K. Bromberg, read by Jessica, on 04/14/2014

When life crashes down around us, how hard are we willing to fight for the one thing we can’t live without, each other?

Life is full of moments.
Big moments.
Little moments.
And none of them are inconsequential.
Every single moment prepares you for that one instance that defines your life. You must overcome all your fears, confront the demons that chase you, and cleanse the poison that clings to your soul or you risk the chance of losing everything.

Mine started the minute Rylee fell out of that damn storage closet. She made me feel. Made me whole when all I thought I could ever be was incomplete. Became the lifeline I never knew I needed. Hell yes, she’s worth the fight…but how do you fight for someone you know you don’t deserve?

Love is full of ups and downs.
Heart stopping highs.
Soul shattering lows.
And none of them are insignificant.
Love is a racecourse of unexpected twists and turns that must be negotiated. You have to break down walls, learn to trust, and heal from your past in order to win. But sometimes it’s the expected that’s the hardest to hold on to.

Colton has healed and completed me, stolen my heart, and made me realize our love’s not predictable nor perfect—it’s bent. And bent’s okay.But when outside factors put our relationship to the test, what lengths will I have to go to prove to him that he’s worth the fight?

Whoever said love is patient and love is kind, never met the two of us. We know our love is worth it—have acknowledged that we were meant to be—but when our pasts crash into our future, will the repercussions make us stronger or break us apart?

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

Dark of the Moon by Karen Robards, read by Melody, on 04/15/2014

Caitlyn was an orphaned beauty with no future — until the rugged outlaw nobleman rescued her from the streets. And now they ride together in the shadows of the night — on the run from corrupt minions of the law — emboldened by the exhilarating heat of the chase…and by a love as wild and free as the wind on the moors. Caitlyn has vowed she will never forsake Connor, her brave champion, her sensuous lover. But to save Connor, she must now betray him. Yet the proud lady can never betray the passion that joins their hearts…and draws Connor into harm’s way to rescue his cherished love once more.

14. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Fiction, Judy, Thriller/Suspense

The Poet by Michael Connelly, read by Judy, on 04/14/2014

Jack McEvoy specializes in death.   As a crime reporter for the Rocky Mountain News, he has seen every kind of murder.  But his professional bravado doesn’t lessen the brutal shock of learning that his only brother is dead, a suicide.

Jack’s brother was a homicide detective and he had been depressed about a recent murder case, a hideously grisly one, that he’d been unable to solve.   McEvoy decides that the best way to exorcise his grief is by writing a feature on police suicides.     But when he begins his research, he quickly arrives at a stunning revelation.  Following his leads, protecting his sources, muscling his way inside a federal investigation, Jack grabs hold of what is clearly the story of a lifetime.   He also knows that in taking on the story, he’s making himself the most visible target for a murderer who has eluded the greatest investigators alive.

12. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Apocolyptic, Classics, Dystopia, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Rachel, Science Fiction, Teen Books

1984 by George Orwell, read by Rachel, on 04/12/2014

Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.

Spirit AnimalsThe Secret Power of Spirit Animals gives some information on not only learning which animal is the reader’s totem, but also what characteristics those with that totem possess.  Part I is about connecting with a spirit animal and exploring to find out which animal is the reader’s totem.  It also describes topics such as familiars and techniques for working with spirit animals.  In Part II, 200 spirit creatures are described more in depth.  The information given includes characteristics, strengths, weaknesses, how to use the creature’s power, and symbolic meanings of seeing that creature either in a dream or the real world.  Part II makes up the bulk of the book.  As a reader, I myself was hoping to see more information in Part I.  Though some history and mythology is touched on from around the world, it would be nice if the author had gone more in depth with the human-animal connection through time.  Regardless, this is a nice book for those of us who are just curious about the subject matter and want a taste of what spirit animals are all about.  Part II reads much like a dictionary and would be better used as a resource than as something read from beginning to end, but it is still interesting if the reader decides to dive in and read it from cover to cover.  There is a lot of information crammed into each entry and some of the entries made me want to research those animals more thoroughly.  A good book for basic information, but wish it included some resources for further discovery.

10. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Humor, NonFiction

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris, read by Angie, on 04/10/2014

This is my first David Sedaris book and I am glad I listened to the audiobook. Sedaris reads the book himself and his unique voice really brings the stories to life. For the most part they are all tales from his childhood, young adulthood or current life. I especially enjoyed his first colonoscopy (hilarious) and his stolen passport. While not all the stories are laugh-out-loud funny, they are humorous and extremely satirical. I also enjoyed his essays at the end of the book where he takes on conservatives on social issues. The story of the woman who wants to march on Washington with the Tea Party was especially funny. This is a witty and humorous collection that I am sure fans of David Sedaris can appreciate.

10. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction

The Grimm Conclusion by Adam Gidwitz, read by Angie, on 04/09/2014

This is the story of Jorinda and Joringel, twins who were born to a dead father and an absent mother. They move throughout the fairy tales as the lead characters. And these are not your Disney fairy tales, these are the ghastly, repellent, and sinister Grimm tales. These tales will give you nightmares and make you sleep with the light on. Both children die repeatedly throughout the book and in gruesome ways. There is death and destruction and mutilation and monsters. Good doesn’t always triumph in the end. Some facts I learned: Cinderella or Ashputtle actually means toilet cleaner! The people who fell asleep with Sleeping Beauty aged as they slept. Satan lives with his grandma in Hell. I really found these gruesome stories just as awesome as the narrator said they would be and I am sure kids will really enjoy that aspect of it. The one negative I have is actually about the narrator. For the most part the interjections are funny and don’t take away from the story. However, there is a section of the book where Jorinda and Joringel meet the narrator in Brooklyn and he reads the other two books in this series to them. I thought that section really broke up the story and wasn’t necessary. The rest is awesome…especially Hell. I might have to go back and read the others in this series.

09. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kristy, Paranormal, Teen Books

The Diviners by Libba Bray, read by Kristy, on 03/09/2014

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.