02. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle

Icy Sparks by Gywn Hyman Rubio, read by Noelle, on 03/30/2014

Icy Spark sis the sad, funny and transcendent tale of a young girl growing up in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky during the 1950’s.Gwyn Hyman Rubio’s beautifully written first novel revolves around Icy Sparks, an unforgettable heroine in the tradition of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird or Will Treed in Cold Sassy Tree. At the age of ten, Icy, a bright, curious child orphaned as a baby but raised by adoring grandparents, begins to have strange experiences. Try as she might, her “secrets”—verbal croaks, groans, and physical spasms—keep afflicting her. As anadult, she will find out she has Tourette’s Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder, but for years her behavior is the source of mystery, confusion, and deep humiliation.

Narrated by a grown up Icy, the book chronicles a difficult, but ultimately hilarious and heartwarming journey, from her first spasms to her self-acceptance as a young woman. Curious about life beyond the hills, talented, and energetic, Icy learns to cut through all barriers—physical, mental, and spiritual—in order to find community and acceptance.

25. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Noelle · Tags: , , ,

The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai, read by Noelle, on 03/18/2014

This book was not bad, but I was hoping it would be a little more exciting and quirky.  I also could have used a little less of the narrator’s self loathing rants.

In this delightful, funny, and moving first novel, a librarian and a young boy obsessed with reading take to the road. Lucy Hull, a young children’s librarian in Hannibal, Missouri, finds herself both a kidnapper and kidnapped when her favorite patron, ten- year-old Ian Drake, runs away from home. The precocious Ian is addicted to reading, but needs Lucy’s help to smuggle books past his overbearing mother, who has enrolled Ian in weekly antigay classes with celebrity Pastor Bob. Lucy stumbles into a moral dilemma when she finds Ian camped out in the library after hours with a knapsack of provisions and an escape plan. Desperate to save him from Pastor Bob and the Drakes, Lucy allows herself to be hijacked by Ian. The odd pair embarks on a crazy road trip from Missouri to Vermont, with ferrets, an inconvenient boyfriend, and upsetting family history thrown in their path. But is it just Ian who is running away? Who is the man who seems to be on their tail? And should Lucy be trying to save a boy from his own parents?

 

15. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle · Tags: , ,

People of the Book: a Novel by Geraldine Brooks, read by Noelle, on 03/03/2014

Inspired by a true story, People of the Book is a novel of sweeping historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity by an acclaimed and beloved author. Called “a tour de force”by the San Francisco Chronicle, this ambitious, electrifying work traces the harrowing journey of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, a beautifully illuminated Hebrew manuscript created in fifteenth-century S pain. When it falls to Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, to conserve this priceless work, the series of tiny artifacts she discovers in its ancient binding-an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair-only begin to unlock its deep mysteries and unexpectedly plunges Hanna into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics.

        

 

 

02. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle, Romance

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani, read by Noelle, on 02/02/2014

I usually don’t pick up something so romantic and fanciful, but I’m glad I did.  I really enjoyed the beautiful imagery even if it was a bit too sentimental at times.  Carb Warning!  It will make you crave fresh pasta…and possibly opera.

Lush and evocative, told in tantalizing detail and enriched with lovable, unforgettable characters, The Shoemaker’s Wife is a portrait of the times, the places and the people who defined the immigrant experience, claiming their portion of the American dream with ambition and resolve, cutting it to fit their needs like the finest Italian silk.

This riveting historical epic of love and family, war and loss, risk and destiny is the novel Adriana Trigiani was born to write, one inspired by her own family history and the love of tradition that has propelled her body of bestselling novels to international acclaim. Like Lucia, Lucia, The Shoemaker’s Wife defines an era with clarity and splendor, with operatic scope and a vivid cast of characters who will live on in the imaginations of readers for years to come.

 

02. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Noelle

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, read by Noelle, on 02/08/2014

WICKEDLY WONDERFUL!

WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart Words are like a road map to reporter
Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory. HARMFUL on her wrist, WHORE on her ankle As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims– a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming. With its taut, crafted writing, “Sharp Objects” is addictive, haunting, and unforgettable.

 

02. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, read by Noelle, on 02/11/2014

“What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to a
n English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war. Does Ursula’s apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can — will she? Darkly comic, startlingly poignant, and utterly original — this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best”

 

04. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle, Thriller/Suspense

Gone Girl by Gillian FLynn, read by Noelle, on 01/28/2014

So, I finally decided to read this book that everyone has been talking about since it was first published.   I have to admit, as cliche’ as it sounds, it did in fact, live up to all the hype.  It was absolutely riveting.  I haven’t been so absorbed in a book in a long time. The visualization while I read was extremely vivid, as it was set in a small Missouri town much like the one I work in daily.   It even had a character with my first name, Noelle, which is quite unusual.  So, you’ve got my attention, Ms. Flynn. Your book was pretty awesome. I’ll be waiting for your next novel.  In the mean time, I need to read Sharp Objects.

28. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Multicultural Fiction, Noelle · Tags:

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, read by Noelle, on 01/23/2014

One of fiction’s most audaciously original talents, Neil Gaiman now gives us a mythology for a modern age — complete with dark prophecy, family dysfunction, mystical deceptions, and killer birds. Not to mention a lime.

Anansi Boys
God is dead. Meet the kids.

When Fat Charlie’s dad named something, it stuck. Like calling Fat Charlie “Fat Charlie.” Even now, twenty years later, Charlie Nancy can’t shake that name, one of the many embarrassing “gifts” his father bestowed — before he dropped dead on a karaoke stage and ruined Fat Charlie’s life.

Mr. Nancy left Fat Charlie things. Things like the tall, good-looking stranger who appears on Charlie’s doorstep, who appears to be the brother he never knew. A brother as different from Charlie as night is from day, a brother who’s going to show Charlie how to lighten up and have a little fun … just like Dear Old Dad. And all of a sudden, life starts getting very interesting for Fat Charlie.

Because, you see, Charlie’s dad wasn’t just any dad. He was Anansi, a trickster god, the spider-god. Anansi is the spirit of rebellion, able to overturn the social order, create wealth out of thin air, and baffle the devil. Some said he could cheat even Death himself.

Returning to the territory he so brilliantly explored in his masterful New York Times bestseller, American Gods, the incomparable Neil Gaiman offers up a work of dazzling ingenuity, a kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth that is at once startling, terrifying, exhilarating, and fiercely funny — a true wonder of a novel that confirms Stephen King’s glowing assessment of the author as “a treasure-house of story, and we are lucky to have him.”

28. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Cookbooks, Fiction, How To's, Humor, Informational Book, Noelle, NonFiction

I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris, read by Noelle, on 01/08/2014

Cute. Quirky. Weird. Adorable.  INAPPROPRIATE!  Charming. Hilarious. Delicious.  Those are just a few words that come to mind when reading this book, which was a great deal of fun.  If you’re familiar with Amy Sedaris, then you’d expect nothing less.

Are you lacking direction in how to whip up a swanky soiree for lumberjacks?  A dinner party for white-collar workers?  A festive gathering for the grieving? Don’t despair. Take a cue from entertaining expert Amy Sedaris and host an unforgettable fete that will have your guests raving.  No matter the style or size of the gathering-from the straightforward to the bizarre-I LIKE YOU provides jackpot recipes and solid advice laced with Amy’s blisteringly funny take on entertaining, plus four-color photos and enlightening sidebars on everything it takes to pull off a party with extraordinary flair.  You don’t even need to be a host or hostess to benefit-Amy offers tips for guests, too!  (Number one: don’t be fifteen minutes early.)  Readers will discover unique dishes to serve alcoholics (Broiled Frozen Chicken Wings with Applesauce), the secret to a successful children’s party (a half-hour time limit, games included), plus a whole appendix chock-full of arts and crafts ideas (from a mini-pantyhose plant-hanger to a do-it-yourself calf stretcher), and much, much more!

07. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout, read by Noelle, on 12/29/2013

Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan–the Burgess sibling who stayed behind–urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has gotten himself into a world of trouble, and Susan desperately needs their help. And so the Burgess brothers return to the landscape of their childhood, where the long-buried tensions that have shaped and shadowed their relationship begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever.
With a rare combination of brilliant storytelling, exquisite prose, and remarkable insight into character, Elizabeth Strout has brought to life two deeply human protagonists whose struggles and triumphs will resonate with readers long after they turn the final page. Tender, tough-minded, loving, and deeply illuminating about the ties that bind us to family and home, “The Burgess Boys” is Elizabeth Strout’s newest and perhaps most astonishing work of literary art.

31. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Noelle, Romance, Teen Books

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, read by Noelle, on 10/02/2013

Eleanor & Park

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.

Oh God! This book broke my heart into a million little pieces and I loved every awkward, tender second of it!  Set in 1980′s Omaha Nebraska, this book follows the unlikely love story of two teens who gradually but surely fall in love, bonding over comic books and alternative 80′s music on the school bus. It is incredibly raw, poignant and wonderful.  Written with such a truthful take on the painful ecstasy of experiencing of first love, I wonder how much of this story was taken from the author’s own life experience.  Get out your old Smiths albums and read this book.  Highly Recommended!

 

 

 

 

 

20. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle · Tags:

The Maid's Version: A Novel by Daniel Woodrell, read by Noelle, on 12/17/2013

I’ve been a fan of Daniel Woodrell for a while, but I honestly wasn’t sure if this book would live up to all of the critical hype.  The subject matter in particular didn’t suck me in at first.  However, I eventually got quite caught up in Woodrell’s savory-rich storytelling style.  I also loved how he threw generous daggers of raw insight into the human condition all throughout the book, making the characters and their plights undeniably fascinating.

29. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Inspirational, Noelle, NonFiction, Self Help · Tags: ,

The Lost Art of Compassion by Lorne Ladner, read by Noelle, on 11/27/2013

Western culture has long sidelined compassion as the province of the saintly or the overly naive. To our great detriment, we have overlooked one of our most powerful inner resources for creating a life of happiness and contentment. In The Lost Art of Compassion, clinical psychologist and longtime Tibetan Buddhist practitioner Lorne Ladner rescues compassion from the margins, and demonstrates its direct and powerful benefits for our day-to-day lives. Until recently Western psychology focused almost exclusively on working with unhealthy emotions and relationships, turning very little of its research or expertise toward understanding positive emotional states. While interest in positive psychology is just dawning in the West, the cultivation of compassion has been a cornerstone of Tibetan Buddhism, studied and developed for over a thousand years. The Lost Art of Compassion is the first book to incorporate the Tibetan Buddhist teachings most suited to Westerners and provides a crucial perspective that is sorely lacking in Western psychology. Bringing together the best contributions of psychology and Buddhism, Dr. Ladner bridges the gap between East and West, theory and practice, in this user-friendly guide for getting through each day with greater contentment and ease. The Lost Art of Compassion offers ten methods for cultivating joy and contentment, bringing directly applicable wisdom to everyday situations. The result is a highly practical, engaging guide that weaves together these two disciplines and encourages readers to reclaim this neglected path to happiness.

29. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Mystery, Noelle, Thriller/Suspense

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, read by Noelle, on 11/21/2013

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

01. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Noelle, Steam-punk, Teen Books

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, read by Noelle, on 10/31/2013

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

01. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Humor, Noelle

The Futurist by James P. Othmer, read by Noelle, on 10/23/2013

Yates is a Futurist.Which is a fancy way of saying he flies around the world, lecturing various conferences, confabs, and conglomerates, dispensing prepackaged bullshit in an attempt to stay just ahead of the latest trend and claim he saw it first. But now Yates has lost faith in the very future that he’s paid to sell and gives what should be a career-ending rant. Instead, a mysterious governmental group hires him to travel the globe and discover why the world seems to hate America. From Middle Eastern war zones to Polynesian superluxe corporate retreats, James Othmer takes us on a mordantly hilarious journey through corporate double-speak and global unrest to find the truth beneath the buzz.

01. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Noelle, NonFiction, Self Help

Your Survival Instinct is Killing You by Marc Schoen, read by Noelle, on 10/20/2013

Thanks to technology, we live in a world that’s much more comfortable than ever before. But here’s the paradox:  our tolerance for discomfort is at an all-time low. And as we wrestle with a sinking “discomfort threshold,” we increasingly find ourselves at the mercy of our primitive instincts and reactions that can perpetuate disease, dysfunction, and impair performance and decision making.

Designed to keep us out of danger, our limbic brain’s Survival Instinct controls what we intuitively do to avert injury or death, such as running out of a burning building.   Rarely are we required to recruit this instinct today because seldom do we find ourselves in situations that are truly life-threatening. However, this part of our brain is programmed to naturally and automatically react to even the most benign forms of discomfort and stress as serious threats to our survival.

In this seminal book we learn how the Survival Instinct is the culprit that triggers a person to overeat, prevents the insomniac from sleeping, causes the executive to unravel under pressure, leads travelers to avoid planes or freeways, inflames pain, and due to past heartache, closes down an individual to love.  In all of these cases, their overly-sensitive Survival Instinct is being called into action at the slightest hint of discomfort.  In short, their Survival Instinct is stuck in the “ON” position…with grave consequences.

Your Survival Is Killing You can transform the way you live. Provocative, eye-opening, and surprisingly practical with its gallery of strategies and ideas, this book will show you how to build up your “instinctual muscles” for successfully managing discomfort while taming your overly reactive Survival Instinct. You will learn that the management of discomfort is the single most important skill for the twenty-first century.    This book is, at its heart, a modern guide to survival.

01. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Noelle, Paranormal, Teen Books · Tags:

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith, read by Noelle, on 10/17/2013

Are you predator or prey?

CLASSIFIED ADS: RESTAURANTS
SANGUINI’S: A VERY RARE RESTAURANT IS HIRING A CHEF DE CUISINE. DINNERS ONLY.
APPLY IN PERSON BETWEEN 2:00 AND 4:00 PM.

Quincie Morris has never felt more alone. Her parents are dead, and her hybrid-werewolf first love is threatening to embark on a rite of passage that will separate them forever. Then, as she and her uncle are about to unveil their hot vampire-themed restaurant, a brutal murder leaves them scrambling for a chef. Can Quincie transform their new hire into a culinary Dark Lord before opening night? Can he wow the crowd in his fake fangs, cheap cape, and red contact lenses — or is there more to this earnest face than meets the eye? As human and preternatural forces clash, a deadly love triangle forms, and the line between predator and prey begins to blur. Who’s playing whom? And how long can Quincie play along before she loses everything? TANTALIZE marks Cynthia Leitich Smith’s delicious debut as a preeminent author of dark fantasy.

01. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Noelle, Paranormal, Teen Books

The Diviners by Libba Bray, read by Noelle, on 10/09/2013

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.