11. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

NPR: Laughter Therapy: a Comedy Collection for the Chronically Serious. by Sagal, Peter, read by Kira, on 11/10/2013

nprThought I’d try some high-brow humor.  It was light fare, nothing gut-splitting like Lewis Black, but lots of chuckles.  Plus there were a number of news stories, that eventually I decided they were fake ones like the Onion, but I wasn’t entirely sure, if they were reporting on stories, “Facts stranger than Fiction” sorta thing.  Joan Rivers and Phyllis Diller were the funniest (imho).npr

06. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags: , ,

Lamp Black, Wolf Grey by Paula Brackston, read by Kira, on 11/05/2013

lampblackLaura and her husband Dan’s attempts to conceive a child have taken a toll on their marriage.  They move out to the countryside in Wales to remove some stress.  Then Laura start interacting with characters from the past (some are ghosts invisible to others, while some are characters seem to be enacting past lives).

No – this book is Not as good as other Paula Brackston books I’ve read.  It was difficult to identify with the main character Laura, and the parallel story was Not upbeat at all.

lampblck

31. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kira, Literary Fiction, Paranormal · Tags:

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley, read by Kira, on 10/30/2013

The-Firebird-CroppedNicola’s Russian grandfather was persecuted for his paranormal abilities, thus she has kept her paranormal talent hidden.  By holding objects she is able to retrieve memories of people who have held the object.  However, she decides to track down the origins of a family heirloom said to have been a gift from the Russian Empress Catherine.  Nicola knows that the family tale is true, but will need to find proof for the object to have any value.  She enlists the help of Rob a man she previously dated, but ran away from when their psychic talents got them noticed.

On the negative side: Rob is way too perfect, always there, super talented.  Even worse though is the love-interest in the parallel tale firbirdof Anna and Edmund.  Anna is repeatedly humiliated by Edmund and finds herself falling for him. Yuck! Gross!  There are 2 surprises towards the ending of blueariPicFirebirdAnna’s tale.  You can see the first one from a mile away.  The other one surprised me.

I really enjoyed the atmosphere, the coziness of the settings – London, Scottland, Russia…

I also enjoyed the amount of authentic detail worked into the background of the book.  For example, in the book Slains Castle was being renovated into apartments – which when I looked online, is actually the case.  In the book Nicola and Rob visit a Russian chain restaurant named Stolle that serves pies (meat pies I think).  Turns out such a chain actually does exist in Russia.  Just neat!


firebird redtumbr Firbird

28. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, read by Kira, on 10/26/2013

Another wondocean enderful tale by Neil Gaiman.  The 7 year old protagonist has his world turned upside down and inside out, when malignant forces seep/invade his world.  At the end of the Lane is the Hempstock farmhouse live the 3 crones who protect the world and keep problematic forces where they belong.

I foundNEIL GAIMAN.indd it delightful how central books were to the protagonists life, the part about jumping into trees or onto poles, reminded me of myself, I thought jumping into a tree would be quite feasible, though I’d never seen a real person do so.  I wonder at Gaiman’s connection to his parents during Gaiman_McKean_OceansAtTheEnd_1childhood, given that so many of Gaiman’s tales feature disconnected parents.  Especially since the dedication to his new wife Amanda Palmer, something to the effect – so you can understaocean end lanend … hmmm.

At the end of the novel, I had to return to the beginning chapter in an attempt to fill in a couple blanks.  Was it his Father’s funeral?

mbb cover and flap  brontosauronator_LargeWide sauropods-990x576    Paleontologists have done for Dinosaurs as Astronomers have done for the Ex-Planet Pluto.  Pluto is No longer considered a planet, and Brontosaurus is No longer the name of a dinosaur, rather it is the Ex-Name of Apatosaurus.  What happened is that overly enthusiastic paleontologists discovered “new” species or even new genuses when they found slightly different skeletons. Othniel Marsh was quiet prolific in this respect.

Brian Swintek weavpteranodaones the story of his childhood fascination witUCMP_Pteranodon_left pterah dinosaurs into this scientific history of dinosaurs and our knowledge about them.  Like Swintek, I was myself was interested in dinosaurs as a kid, especially pterodactyls.  I was entranced with the mural and skeleton of pteranodons in the New York Natural History Museum.  You turned around a corner and entered a 3-story high exhibition room with a pteranodon skeleton aloft in the air, then as your rounded the corner fully you saw this 3 story mural of pteranodons perched on a cliffside with the beach and ocean behind them.  I visited this museum 3 different times in my life separated by 10 years each time, and I always found myself entranced with this display.

Also, did you know that Dinosaurs still roam the earth? or should I say flit about.  All birds are a subgroup of dinosaurs.

mbbrontEvolution_of_dinosaurs_EN.svgarchaeopteryx,_bambiraptor,_chicken_comparison

12. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston, read by Kira, on 10/11/2013

Bess starts off life in the 16th century, her happy peasant family life is disrupted when plague breaks out.  After her older brother, her sweet sister, and father die of the plague, Bess’ Mom makes a deal with the local and evil warlock Gideon, which brings Bess back from the door of death.  Then a witchhunter is called and accuses Bess of witchcraft, since she survived the plague, her mother confesses in order to spare her daughter and directs her daughter to study with Gideon.    But when the town comes for her and plan to burn her the next day, she speaks invocation by the light of her cell windows. wit cautrwitch daughterThe_Witchs_Daughter_Poland   300 years later she is still on the run from Gideon, who wants her to combine their powers.  She is able to settle down for brief periods before he tracks her down.

Paula Brackston’s books are so captivating.  I can’t wait for her next book in 2014, The Midnight Witch.  Make sure you have plenty of time to read, because her books are hard to put down.  This book was originally released as the Book of Shadows in 2009.

07. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kira, Science Fiction · Tags:

Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik, read by Kira, on 10/06/2013

Another Grand Adventure in the Temeraire series.

The action starts in Japan, as Captain William Lawrence finds himself shipwrecked and has lost his memories of the last 8 years.  Eventually Temeraire and the others find the Captain and they head off to China to enlist the help of the Chinese in the Brits fight against Napoleon.  Then its off to Russia to help the Russians against Napoleon’s invasion.  Unfortunately, the book ends on a cliffhanger, so hold on for the next volume in this wonderful series.

Iskierka is on hand to provide some of the levity.temeraireTemeraire_and_gang_VS_kraken_by_sandaraToddLockwood-temeraire  These books are fun, engaging and sprinkled with humor. novik-blood temeraireTEMERAIRE2

30. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction, Science, Self Help

The Autistic Brain : Thinking across the Spectrum by Temple Grandin and Richard Panek, read by Kira, on 09/28/2013

Temple Grandin does for Autism what Susan Cain did for Introversion.  Grandin shows us the strengths associated with Autistic and Asperger’s syndrome, citing research showing superior ability to focus on details.  She suggests that we quit seeing only the deficits, but acknowledge that some characteristics are actually strengths.  Her attention is limited to high-functioning  end of the spectrum while, the lower end of the spectrum is given short shrift.  She backs up most of her arguments with scientific research (though a few times, she just says “That doesn’t make sense” without showing why).  IntertempleGesting, but not as enjoyable asclaire-danes-and-temple-grandin_original Anibrainmals in Translation.

30. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kira, Women's Fiction (chick lit) · Tags:

Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg, read by Kira, on 09/27/2013

standingrainbstandrainbow  A slice of Americana, specifically here in Missouri. Flagg tells her story through multiple vignettes.  Its a charming story of small-town America, of radio announcer Neighbor Dorothy, and her family and neighbors.  Next time someone asks for a gentle read, I need to remember Fannie Flagg, though there are some sad parts 80% of the way through.   Its an engaging stanrnbowstndrnbfannieread.

12. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Science Fiction, Thriller/Suspense · Tags:

Divergent by Veronica Roth, read by Kira, on 09/09/2013

Enthralling and Exciting.  I did Not want to put this down.  And the book stayed with me for days afterwards.

It also reminded me of several other books – the initiation and bullying kept reminding me of Ender’s Game, and The Giver, as well as somewhat like Tamora Pierce’s Alana series (and also Tom Brown’s Schooldays, and Lord of the Flies, but Not that bad).  I enjoyed this book a lot, and look forward to the 2nd and 3rd books.  I’m even considering purchasing Amazon’s companion minibooks told from Four’s perspective – and normally, I don’t buy books, I keep my collection at the Library.

DivergentFactionsdivergent junpdivergDIVERGENT

03. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction, Science

The Cancer Chronicles : Unlocking Medicine's Deepest Mystery by George Johnson, read by Kira, on 08/31/2013

canc chronThis book starts out interesting enough.  Did you know they’ve found cancer in Dinosaurs brains? and that mammals are more likely to get cancer than reptiles.  But it ends there.  No mysteries were unlocked, no important information to take away.  I was really hoping for something along the lines of Racing to a Cure, where the author looks at a type of vaccine, where they take your fighter blood cells, expose them to the cancer and then inject them back in your body, and the fighter blood cells, then do a much better job of attacking the cancer.

This book didn’t leave you with any take-away information (just stuff you likely already knew).canchron

30. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags: , ,

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman., read by Kira, on 08/30/2013

seraphnaseraphinacover serrafinasrafinaserafina This is a delightful tale set in a world, where both Dragons and Humans are chaffing under the peace treaty they signed 40 years ago.  Before that, they were at war fighting over the dragons’ hunting grounds.

Seraphina is born into this conflicted empire trying to make her way.

 

Fast paced and great atmosphere!  I really enjoyed this book.

26. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags: , ,

The Dark Mirror. by Juliet Marillier, read by Kira, on 08/25/2013

the-dark-mirror  Bridei, is taken from his family at age 4 to live with the Pictish druid Briochan, a strict taskmaster.  His education starts at dawn, and ends late into the evening; what he is being educated to be he does Not know, and doesn’t get an answer when he asks.  A fairy infant is left on their doorstep one auspicious night when Briochan is away on travels.bridei__tuala_the_dark_mirror

Bridei names the infant Tuala, and they become close friends.  When Briochan returns, against his better judgement he lets Tuala stay, but makes it clear to her that any mistep, will result in her banishment.

 

This was a very engaging story – {though the first chapter was a little slow}.  I very much enjoyed the tale, and can’t wait to read the next title in the series.

20. August 2013 · 1 comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop, read by Kira, on 08/19/2013

daught of bloodd of b2I loved Anne Bishop’s newest book Written in Red, and thought I’d try another of her books while I wait for the sequel to Written in Red.  Wow! what a difference 15 years can make.  Don’t get me wrong, it was still an engaging story, but Written in Red was so much better.  There was a great deal of cruelty by the characters that perpetuated more cruelty, rather distressing.  Spicyness level of 4 out of 5.d of b3

Paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Neil Shubin presents a dazzling exploration of how life co-evolved with the changes in our planet.

Cool things I learned:

Camp Century, a U.S. Army cave city carved inside Greenland’s glacier before they realized that glaciers move and would ultimately crush the base.

The impact of carbon dioxide. The cycle of carbon. “The rise of thA man gazes at the Milky Way outside his housee Tibetan Plateau led to the shift from a warm Earth to a cold one; it did so by pulling carbon from the air via erosion of rock”

How algae made the earth habitable for other organisms because they produce oxygen.

Blake’s quote ‘To see a world in a grain of sand, / And a heaven in a wild flower, / Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, / And eternity in an hour’ is an apt description of this book, encompassing both the awe and wonder of the universe and life.]

Very cool and very reader friendly!unv wi  univ withnCT neil_shubin02.jpg Neil-Shubin-the-universe-within   universe_withinuni withn2

20. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Poetry, Reviewer, Short Stories · Tags: ,

Welcome to Bordertown : new stories and poems of the Borderlands by ed Holly Black and Ellen Kushner ; introduction by Terri Windling. Neil Gaiman, read by Kira, on 08/18/2013

wel bordtbordt lives  The premise of the series of bordtown wallinterlinked short stories is that the in-between town aka Bordertown where elves essential_border_cover_artand hret bordumans can co-exist has been closed to travel between the realms for the last 13 bordtown livesyears, and has now opened up again [its also been 13 years since the previous Bordertown collection of short stories].  What was 13 days in bord townBordertown itself, was 13 years in the World (of humans).  The short stories are really a mixed bag.  A couple focused on the theme of immigrants in the US.  Many focused on the problem of Elf borderland_cover_secondSuperiority – or the racism of the elves.

I didn’t care for  Ours bordtonnis the Prettiest by Nalo Hopkinson (didn’t really fit in this world), nor We do NOT come in Peace by Christopher Barzak (protagonist is soo depressed).  But most disappointing was the Neil Gaiman piece was just a short poem, and imho not a very good one, I couldn’t wait til black-coat-elfit ended.bordertown__when_you_give_an_elf__

05. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Flight behavior : a novel by Barbara Kingsolver., read by Kira, on 08/03/2013

Barbarflight bwaviora Kingsolver presents an engaging story of a young woman named Delarobia stuck in a hopeless marriage in rural Tenessee.  By getting us to identify with the rural protagonist (or at least see the world through her eyes)  Kingsolver challenges our stereotypes of rural Americans.  By focusing on the plight of the Monarch butterflies, Kingsolver addresses global climate flight beavrioschange (climate weirding) as well asflight behav issues of rural poverty.Kingsolver-photo1  I loved the way she wove together several themes, that all tied together, the sheep, the kinship ties, the weather, web 2.0 the butterflies, etc.

I also LOVED the medium twists and surprises.  I highly recommend this title!

05. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal, Reviewer, Romance · Tags: , ,

The Demon's Librarian by Lilith Saintcrow, read by Kira, on 08/04/2013

Head Librarian, Francesca Barnes, has discovered a treasure cache of sorcery books in a secret room in the sub-basement of the old city library.  When a monster starts attacking cats and then children, she uses the knowledge to track down and kill the beast.

This alerts the evil ones to the growing presence of a new gifted “Golden One” coming into her powers.  Ryan, and his keeper Paul of the Order (the good side), are trying to track down this cache of books.  Since Ryan is half-demon/half man, lacking a soul, he cannot trust himself around women, and especially not around sorceresses.

However, his hdemon's librarianorn-dog handler/keeper Paul takes off on a false lead, because this other woman is good looking and Ryan ends up investigating Chess (Francesca), keeping tabs on her,  rescuing her, and before its too late, he is hooked/imprinted on Francesca.

This book was a quick enjoyable read, nothing taxing or extraordinary.

05. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal, Reviewer · Tags: , ,

Written in Red. by Anne Bishop, read by Kira, on 08/03/2013

writ redI was tempted to stay home and use a personal day to finish reading this book (but I did NOT), I did end up staying awake late into the night/morning though.

All Things Urban Fantasy said “Written in Red isn’t just the best urban fantasy of the year, it may be one of the best ever.”

It is a captivating tale of a young woman escaping enslavement and finding a new community composed of Others (werewolves, werebears, vampires, medusa, werecrows) aka terra indigenous who live bordering humans, and tolerating them.  The humans come with an attitude of superiority akin to the Europeans confronting the Native Americans, however, in this world the Humans do Not hold the upper hand, just the arrogance.

cs759, names herself, Meg Corbyn – she is a blood prophet or Cassandra Sangue – and is kept locked up to be cut for her prophecies which pay her Controllers big bucks, thus when she escapes they will want her back. written-in-red Great characters, world-building, and fast paced.

 

 

01. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Christian, History, Inspirational, Kira, NonFiction, Reviewer · Tags:

The heart of Christianity: rediscovering a life of faith by Marcus J. Borg., read by Kira, on 07/31/2013

Renowned Jesus SeminarBorg_Heart_of_Chrty mborg_arms_raised scholar, Marcus Borg, distinguishes between “Earlier Christianity” and “Emerging Christianity”.  He discusses how Christianity limited its focus in reaction to Enlightenment Science challenging aspects of the Bible.  Christianity narrowed its focus to a set of beliefs (atonement theology) focused around sin and the afterlife.  Borg shows how much deeper and richer Christianity is than merely believing certain doctrines or the literalness of certain biblical passages.

I was impressed.

If you’re interested and want to see a video-clip of him go to: