17. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa

I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits, 302 pages, read by Lisa, on 04/15/2015

Sweeping from the Central European countryside just before World War II to Paris to contemporary Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I Am Forbiddenbrings to life four generations of one Satmar family.

Opening in 1939 Transylvania, five-year-old Josef witnesses the murder of his family by the Romanian Iron Guard and is rescued by a Gentile maid to be raised as her own son. Five years later, Josef rescues a young girl, Mila, after her parents are killed while running to meet the Rebbe they hoped would save them. Josef helps Mila reach Zalman Stern, a leader in the Satmar community, in whose home Mila is raised as a sister to Zalman’s daughter, Atara. As the two girls mature, Mila’s faith intensifies, while her beloved sister Atara discovers a world of books and learning that she cannot ignore. With the rise of communism in central Europe, the family moves to Paris, to the Marais, where Zalman tries to raise his children apart from the city in which they live.

When the two  girls come of age, Mila marries within the faith, while Atara continues to question fundamentalist doctrine. The different choices the two sisters makes force them apart until a dangerous secret threatens to banish them from the only community they’ve ever known.

A beautifully crafted, emotionally gripping story of what happens when unwavering love, unyielding law, and centuries of tradition collide, I Am Forbidden announces the arrival of an extraordinarily gifted new voice and opens a startling window on a world long closed to most of us, until now.

from Goodreads.com.

18. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Lisa

The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh, 352 pages, read by Lisa, on 03/18/2015

Take two sisters making it on their own: brainy twelve-year-old GiGi (short for Galileo Galilei, a name she never says out loud) and junior-high-dropout-turned-hairstylist DiDi (short for Delta Dawn). Add a million dollars in prize money from a national cooking contest and a move from the trailer parks of South Carolina to the Gold Coast of New York. Mix in a fancy new school, new friends and enemies, a first crush, and a generous sprinkling of family secrets.
That’s the recipe for The Truth About Twinkie Pie, a voice-driven middle grade debut about the true meaning of family and friendship.

From Goodreads.com.

At first I didn’t like this because there was too much telling, not enough showing, but about halfway through it finally hooked me and held me to the end. It had some pretty good recipes in it too.

18. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

No Flying in the House by Betty Brock, Wallace Tripp (Illustrator), 157 pages, read by Lisa, on 03/17/2015

Most little girls have parents to take care of them, but not Annabel Tippens.She has Gloria, a tiny white dog who talks and wears a gold collar. Annabel never thought it was strange that she had Gloria instead of real parents. Until one day a wicked, wicked cat named Belinda comes to tell her the truth — she’s not just a little girl, she’s a half-fairy!
And she can do lots of things that other kids can’t do, such as kiss her own elbow and fly around the house. But being a fairy isn’t all fun and games, and soon Annabel must make a choice. If she chooses to be a fairy, she’ll have to say good-bye to Gloria forever. How can she decide between her newly found magic and her dearest friend?

From Goodreads.com.

18. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa

Seven Stories Up by Seven Stories Up, 240 pages, read by Lisa, on 03/16/2015

In this companion to Bigger than a Bread Box, a leap back in time and an unlikely friendship changes the future of one family forever.

Annie has never even met her grandmother before.  In fact, she’s never had much family to speak of.  So when she and her mother pull into the drive of her grandmother’s home in Baltimore, Annie can hardly contain her excitement!

But when she actually meets her grandma, the bitter old woman doesn’t seem like someone Annie could ever love, or miss.  Until one magical, stormy night changes everything.

It’s impossible that Annie could have jumped back in time. . . right? But here she is in 1937— the year her grandmother was just her age!

Molly is an invalid. She lives by herself, on the top floor of a hotel.  She seems a little lonely, but friendly and fun, nothing like the horrible old woman Annie just met.

Annie entices Molly down from her room, and together the two girls roam. They sneak around the grand hotel, and explore the brick streets of old Baltimore. Carnivals and taxis, midnight raids on the kitchen.  The two grow closer.

But as Molly becomes bolder, and ventures further from the safety of her room, Annie begins to wonder how she’ll ever get back home. Maybe she’s changed the past a little too much.

From Goodreads.com.

12. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa, Mystery

Everything I never told you by Celeste Ng, 297 pages, read by Lisa, on 03/11/2015

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins this debut novel about a mixed-race family living in 1970s Ohio and the tragedy that will either be their undoing or their salvation. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart.

From Goodreads.com.

05. March 2015 · Comments Off · 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.

03. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Lisa

The Croc Ate My Homework by Stephan Pastis, 221 pages, read by Lisa, on 03/02/2015

The Pearls Before Swine crew is back in their second collection of cartoons for the middle-grade crowd!

Always witty and clever, and sometimes irreverent, Pearls Before Swine‘s sarcastic take on life appeals to fans of all ages. In this second collection of cartoons specially chosen for young readers, the troupe of characters is back to entertain with dark humor and off-the-wall puns. Know-it-all Rat is always at the center of the action, accompanied by slow-witted Pig who is innocently oblivious to most of Rat’s jabs. Rounded out with high-browed Goat, the mild and vulnerable Zebra, and the hilariously inept Crocs, the cast is ready to provide hours of reading fun.

Description from Goodreads.com.

03. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Graphic Novel, Lisa

El Deafo by Cece Bell, 233 pages, read by Lisa, on 03/01/2015

Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.

Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school–in the hallway…in the teacher’s lounge…in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it’s just another way of feeling different… and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?

This funny perceptive graphic novel memoir about growing up hearing impaired is also an unforgettable book about growing up, and all the super and super embarrassing moments along the way.

Description from Goodreads.com.

26. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, 384 pages, read by Lisa, on 02/25/2015

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.

Description from Goodreads.com.

19. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, History, Lisa, NonFiction

Searching for Sarah Rector by Tonya Bolden, 80 pages, read by Lisa, on 02/18/2015

Sarah Rector was once famously hailed as “the richest black girl in America.” Set against the backdrop of American history, her tale encompasses the creation of Indian Territory, the making of Oklahoma, and the establishment of black towns and oil-rich boomtowns.
Rector acquired her fortune at the age of eleven. This is both her story and that of children just like her: one filled with ups and downs amid bizarre goings-on and crimes perpetrated by greedy and corrupt adults. From a trove of primary documents, including court and census records and interviews with family members, author Tonya Bolden painstakingly pieces together the events of Sarah’s life and the lives of those around her.
The book includes a glossary, a bibliography, and an index.

Description from Goodreads.com.

11. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Lisa, Mystery

Death of a Gossip by M.C. Beaton, 179 pages, read by Lisa, on 02/09/2015

Scottish highland village cop Hamish Macbeth must find which target was provoked enough to strangle and drown nasty fat widowed tabloid reporter Jane Winters, who revealed many others’ guilty secrets. Much is from the viewpoint of a naive secretary seduced by a blue-blood playboy. Icy blond beauty, aristocratic Priscilla Halburton-Smythe, lends a hand.

Description from Goodreads.com.

11. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Lisa, NonFiction

Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From a Top New York Dermatologist by Debra Jaliman, 208 pages, read by Lisa, on 02/04/2015

Skin Rules is a concise and practical instruction manual from a renowned Fifth Avenue dermatologist on how to attain beautiful skin, a taut and sculpted body, and a much younger appearance. Actors, models, and newscasters go to Dr. Jaliman for her cutting-edge technology and the latest in skin care, as well as for her reputation for being the “last stop” doctor, the one who fixes what others can’t.

Skin Rules has something for everyone, no matter where they live or how much money they have to spend. This small, invaluable guide supplies the same advice Dr. Jaliman gives to her celebrity patients, from lasers to remove sun damage and turn back the clock to suggestions for simple products and  habits anyone can adopt for a small outlay of time and money.

In Skin Rules readers will learn:
• about the one ingredient that should NEVER be in sunscreens, but often is
• how to use inexpensive Aquaphor to heal wounds and prevent scarring
• which drugstore products really work for acne and wrinkles

Description from Goodreads.com.

04. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Lisa, Mystery

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley, 392 pages, read by Lisa, on 01/31/2015

Hard on the heels of the return of her mother’s body from the frozen reaches of the Himalayas, Flavia, for her indiscretions, is banished from her home at Buckshaw and shipped across the ocean to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Toronto, her mother’s alma mater, there to be inducted into a mysterious organization known as the Nide.

No sooner does she arrive, however, than a body comes crashing down out of the chimney and into her room, setting off a series of investigations into mysterious disappearances of girls from the school.

Description from Goodreads.com.

27. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, 343 pages, read by Lisa, on 01/26/2015

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel.

I thought it was incredible. I highly recommend it.

26. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede, Peter de Sève (Illustrator), 255 pages, read by Lisa, on 01/23/2015

Daystar never thought he’d be walking through the Enchanted Forest with a magic sword, a fire-witch, and a baby dragon. He never dreamed his mother, Cimorene, would tell him to leave their home and not to return until his task was complete. Or that he alone held the power to release King Mendanbar and the Enchanted Forest from the wizards’ evil spell. He doesn’t even know who King Mendanbar is.

But Daystar learns quickly — and that’s good, because he’s about to encounter magic and wizards and dragons. Quite a deadly combination.

Description from Goodreads.com

13. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa, Mystery, Paranormal

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein , 416 pages, read by Lisa, on 01/12/2015

In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant, whole trees, and is set on a huge estate overlooking Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch Grandpa Samuel—who is flickering in and out of dementia—to a graduated living facility, sell off the house and property for development into “tract housing for millionaires,” divide up the profits, and live happily ever after.

But Trevor soon discovers there’s someone else living in Riddell House: a ghost with an agenda of his own. For while the land holds tremendous value, it is also burdened by the final wishes of the family patriarch, Elijah, who mandated it be allowed to return to untamed forestland as a penance for the millions of trees harvested over the decades by the Riddell Timber company. The ghost will not rest until Elijah’s wish is fulfilled, and Trevor’s willingness to face the past holds the key to his family’s future.

A Sudden Light is a rich, atmospheric work that is at once a multigenerational family saga, a historical novel, a ghost story, and the story of a contemporary family’s struggle to connect with each other. A tribute to the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, it reflects Garth Stein’s outsized capacity for empathy and keen understanding of human motivation, and his rare ability to see the unseen: the universal threads that connect us all.

Description from Goodreads.com.

06. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede, 224 pages, read by Lisa, on 12/24/2014

They’re back! Except Princess Cimorene is now Queen Cimorene of the Enchanted Forest, and she is on a very important mission with Kazul the dragon king, Morwen the witch, Telemain the magician, two cats, and a blue, flying donkey-rabbit named Killer. It’s not going to be easy.

The wizards have become very smart (sort of) and have found a way to capture the most powerful source of magic in the Enchanted Forest — King Mendanbar’s sword. If the sword is not returned to the forest in due time, the forest will begin to die. And you can bet your last dragon scale that Cimorene won’t stand for that!

Description from Goodreads.com

06. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

Pennyroyal Academy by M.A. Larson, 304 pages, read by Lisa, on 12/12/2014

Pennyroyal Academy: Seeking bold, courageous youths to become tomorrow’s princesses and knights….Come one, come all!

A girl from the forest arrives in a bustling kingdom with no name and no idea why she is there, only to find herself at the center of a world at war.  She enlists at Pennyroyal Academy, where princesses and knights are trained to battle the two great menaces of the day: witches and dragons. There, given the name “Evie,” she must endure a harsh training regimen under the steel glare of her Fairy Drillsergeant, while also navigating an entirely new world of friends and enemies. As Evie learns what it truly means to be a princess, she realizes surprising things about herself and her family, about human compassion and inhuman cruelty. And with the witch forces moving nearer, she discovers that the war between princesses and witches is much more personal than she could ever have imagined.

Set in Grimm’s fairytale world, M.A. Larson’s Pennyroyal Academymasterfully combines adventure, humor, and magical mischief.

Description from Goodreads.com

19. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Lisa, NonFiction

Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay, 320 pages, read by Lisa, on 12/11/2014

A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation, Roxane Gay.

Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to becool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.”

In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.

Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better. (from Goodreads.com)

19. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa, Mystery

The Swallow: A Ghost Story by Charis Cotter, 318 pages, read by Lisa, on 12/04/2014

 In 1960s Toronto, two girls retreat to their attics to escape the loneliness and isolation of their lives. Polly lives in a house bursting at the seams with people, while Rose is often left alone by her busy parents. Polly is a down-to-earth dreamer with a wild imagination and an obsession with ghosts; Rose is a quiet, ethereal waif with a sharp tongue. Despite their differences, both girls spend their days feeling invisible and seek solace in books and the cozy confines of their respective attics. But soon they discover they aren’t alone–they’re actually neighbors, sharing a wall. They develop an unlikely friendship, and Polly is ecstatic to learn that Rose can actually see and talk to ghosts. Maybe she will finally see one too! But is there more to Rose than it seems? Why does no one ever talk to her? And why does she look so… ghostly? When the girls find a tombstone with Rose’s name on it in the cemetery and encounter an angry spirit in her house who seems intent on hurting Polly, they have to unravel the mystery of Rose and her strange family… before it’s too late. (from Goodreads.com)