27. February 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Noelle, Thriller/Suspense

Micro by MIchael Criton and Richard Preston, 429 pages, read by Noelle, on 02/23/2015

http://origin.syndetics.com/index.php?isbn=9780060873080/LC.gif&client=mirip&type=hw7Umm… this book is SILLY :)  It’s Honey I Shrunk the Kids meets Lord of the Flies meets nanotechnology.  It wasn’t particularly well written and the narrator must have had a previous stint as a sports announcer.  That being said, my hubby and I had fun to listening to this on a car trip and it kept us awake while driving.  Hurray for safe driving!  It also ignited a lot of imaginative conversations on our trip.  Also, I have a fondness for beetles and I think Michael Crichton did as well.

Three men are found dead in the locked second-floor office of a Honolulu building, with no sign of struggle except for the ultrafine, razor-sharp cuts covering their bodies. The only clue left behind is a tiny bladed robot, nearly invisible to the human eye. In the lush forests of Oahu, groundbreaking technology has ushered in a revolutionary era of biological prospecting. Trillions of microorganisms, tens of thousands of bacteria species, are being discovered; they are feeding a search for priceless drugs and applications on a scale beyond anything previously imagined. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, seven graduate students at the forefront of their fields are recruited by a pioneering microbiology start-up. Nanigen MicroTechnologies dispatches the group to a mysterious lab in Hawaii, where they are promised access to tools that will open a whole new scientific frontier. But once in the Oahu rain forest, the scientists are thrust into a hostile wilderness that reveals profound and surprising dangers at every turn. Armed only with their knowledge of the natural world, they find themselves prey to a technology of radical and unbridled power. To survive, they must harness the inherent forces of nature itself.

Scandal, love, family, and murder combine in this gripping mystery by critically acclaimed author Emily Arsenault, in which a young woman’s life is turned upside down when her brother is arrested for murder and she must prove his innocence.

The Battle siblings are used to disappointment. Seven years after starting her PhD program–one marriage, one divorce, three cats and a dog later–Theresa Battle still hasn’t finished her dissertation. Instead of a degree, she’s got a houseful of adoring pets and a dead-end copywriting job for a local candle company.

Jeff, her so-called genius older brother, doesn’t have it together, either. Creative and loyal, he’s also aimless, in both work and love. But his new girlfriend, Kim, a pretty waitress in her twenties, appears smitten. When Theresa agrees to dog-sit Kim’s puggle for a weekend, she has no idea it will be the beginning of a terrifying nightmare that will shatter her quiet academic world.

Soon Kim’s body is found in the woods, and Jeff becomes the prime suspect.

Though the evidence is overwhelming, Theresa knows that her brother is not a murderer. As she investigates Kim’s past, she uncovers a treacherous secret involving politics, murder, and scandal–and becomes entangled in a potentially dangerous romance. But the deeper she falls into this troubling case, the more it becomes clear that, in trying to save her brother’s life, she may be sacrificing her own

27. February 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: How To's, Informational Book, Noelle, NonFiction

Bright bazaar : embracing color for make-you-smile style by Will Taylor, photographs by Andrew Boyd, 191 pages, read by Noelle, on 02/19/2015

I love color and I love Will Taylor’s style.  Bright and beautiful!

Known for his bold and refreshing take on color, Will Taylor, the founder of Bright Bazaar, one of the world’s leading interior design blogs, shares his secrets to choosing colors that work for every room in your house. Structured around the different spaces within the home, the book breaks down the how, when, and where of using different shades and color combinations. Will’s fun and lighthearted approach shows the reader how to look around for color inspiration and how to start to incorporate colors into both the smaller and larger components of a room like walls, floors, furniture, fabrics, and accessories.Beautifully photographed inspirational examples will be accompanied by “Color Scrapbooks” which break each room down to the individual elements drawing the reader into the details that make each colorful space successful. With pearls of “Will’s Wisdom”, like top painting tips or how to add temporary color, and recipes for “Color Cocktails” in a range of palettes, Taylor’s vibrant and easy-to-follow guide to color and its ability to transform our homes and our lives offers readers the confidence they need to perfect their color choices.

content provided by Syndetics™, a Bowker service.

 

03. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle

We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg, 187 pages, read by Noelle, on 01/30/2015

Set in Tupelo Mississippi during the Freedom Summer of 1964, We Are All Welcome Here by acclaimed author Elizabeth Berg chronicles the effects of one mother’s indomitable spirit from the blossoming perspective of her thirteen year old daughter, Diana.
After contracting polio at the age of 22 while pregnant, Diana’s mother, Paige Dunn, becomes the only woman to survive successful childbirth in an iron lung. Abandoned by her husband, paralyzed from the neck down, and dependent on breathing apparatuses and caretakers, Paige exhibits incredible courage and willpower to raise Diana as a single mother.
Although others in their small Mississippi town find their family’s situation pitiable, life is nothing less than full in the Dunn household. Diana is raised in part by Paige’s steadfast caretaker, Peacie, whose caring intentions but sharp remarks are often misunderstood by Diana. The bond between Peacie and the Dunn women drives the storyline into deeper themes of equality and humanity. As events unfold throughout the Freedom Summer of 1964, Diana’s understanding of life is taken beyond the selfish whims of her childhood as she develops a deeper respect for the ideals shared by Peacie and her mother.
Readers can find inspiration in the remarkable strength, love and determination demonstrated by characters throughout the book. In a forward by the author, the reader learns how this book was inspired by the real lives of mother and daughter Pat Raming and Marianne Raming Burke.
As a reader, I was particularly taken with the human detail of Berg’s writing. Her descriptions of physical sensations and everyday emotional occurrences were often so spot-on; they left little echoes in my own body. I also enjoyed the strong and undeniably adolescent voice given to Diana, the narrator. Although there were some plot elements at the end which tied together a little too neatly for my liking, I very much enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more of Berg’s work.
Fans of The Help and The Secret Life of Bees will enjoy this unique and enlightening coming of age novel.

14. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Humor, Memoirs, Noelle, NonFiction

Yes Please by Amy Poehler, 329 pages, read by Noelle, on 01/08/2015

In a perfect world . . .

We’d get to hang out with Amy Poehler, watching dumb movies, listening to music, and swapping tales about our coworkers and difficult childhoods. Because in a perfect world, we’d all be friends with Amy—someone who seems so fun, is full of interesting stories, tells great jokes, and offers plenty of advice and wisdom (the useful kind, not the annoying kind you didn’t ask for, anyway). Unfortunately, between her Golden Globe-winning role on Parks and Recreation, work as a producer and director, place as one of the most beloved SNL alumni and cofounder of the Upright Citizens’ Brigade, involvement with the website Smart Girls at the Party, frequent turns as acting double for Meryl Streep, and her other gig as the mom of two young sons, she’s not available for movie night.

Luckily we have the next best thing: Yes Please, Amy’s hilarious and candid book. A collection of stories, thoughts, ideas, lists, and haikus from the mind of one of our most beloved entertainers, Yes Please offers Amy’s thoughts on everything from her “too safe” childhood outside of Boston to her early days in New York City, her ideas about Hollywood and “the biz,” the demon that looks back at all of us in the mirror, and her joy at being told she has a “face for wigs.” Yes Please is chock-full of words and wisdom to live by.

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31. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle, Teen Books

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, 471 pages, read by Noelle, on 12/30/2014

An angry, grieving seventeen-year-old musician facing expulsion from her prestigious Brooklyn private school travels to Paris to complete a school assignment and uncovers a diary written during the French revolution by a young actress attempting to help a tortured, imprisoned little boy–Louis Charles, the lost king of France.

04. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Noelle

Wonder by R.J. Palacio, 315 pages, read by Noelle, on 12/02/2014

I wanted to see what all the hype was about this book, and I was certainly not disappointed.  It is now one of my all time favorite chapter books!  If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it.

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid–but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

“Wonder is the best kids’ book of the year,” said Emily Bazelon, senior editor at Slate.com and author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” –indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

04. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Children's Books, Fiction, Noelle · Tags:

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, 305 pages, read by Noelle, on 12/03/2014

This was one of those children’s books I meant to read when it came out, and just hadn’t gotten around to it.  In enjoyed it, but be warned:  if your heart is tender towards animals, be prepared to shed a few tears with this one!

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home–and his own art–through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.

26. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Noelle

Sleepwalking by Meg Wolitzer, 215 pages, read by Noelle, on 11/23/2014

So, I like Meg Wolitzer and thought I’d give her first novel a go.

Published when she was only twenty-three and written while she was a student at Brown, Sleepwalking marks the beginning of Meg Wolitzer’s acclaimed career.  Filled with her usual wisdom, compassion and insight, Sleepwalking tells the story of the three notorious “death girls,” so called on the Swarthmore campus because they dress in black and are each absorbed in the work and suicide of a different poet: Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and Wolitzer’s creation Lucy Asher, a gifted writer who drowned herself at twenty-four.  At night the death girls gather in a candlelit room to read their heroines’ work aloud.

But an affair with Julian, an upperclassman, pushes sensitive , struggling Claire Danziger—she of the Lucy Asher obsession-–to consider to what degree her “death girl” identity is really who she is.  As she grapples with her feelings for Julian, her own understanding of herself and her past begins to shift uncomfortably and even disturbingly. Finally, Claire takes drastic measures to confront the facts about herself that she has been avoiding for years.

25. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Noelle, NonFiction, Science

The Self Illusion by Bruce Hood, 349 pages, read by Noelle, on 11/20/2014

Prone to existential depressive episodes related to identity?  Me too!  Feel like delving further into such quandaries?  If you answered, “Why not?”, then read this book!  I personally find it exciting/ weirdly comforting when science challenges traditional Western thought.

Summary from Publisher:  Most of us believe that we are unique and coherent individuals, but are we? The idea of a “self” has existed ever since humans began to live in groups and become sociable. Those who embrace the self as an individual in the West, or a member of the group in the East, feel fulfilled and purposeful. This experience seems incredibly real but a wealth of recent scientific evidence reveals that this notion of the independent, coherent self is an illusion – it is not what it seems. Reality as we perceive it is not something that objectively exists, but something that our brains construct from moment to moment, interpreting, summarizing, and substituting information along the way. Like a science fiction movie, we are living in a matrix that is our mind.
In The Self Illusion, Dr. Bruce Hood reveals how the self emerges during childhood and how the architecture of the developing brain enables us to become social animals dependent on each other. He explains that self is the product of our relationships and interactions with others, and it exists only in our brains. The author argues, however, that though the self is an illusion, it is one that humans cannot live without.
But things are changing as our technology develops and shapes society. The social bonds and relationships that used to take time and effort to form are now undergoing a revolution as we start to put our self online. Social networking activities such as blogging, Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter threaten to change the way we behave. Social networking is fast becoming socialization on steroids. The speed and ease at which we can form alliances and relationships is outstripping the same selection processes that shaped our self prior to the internet era. This book ventures into unchartered territory to explain how the idea of the self will never be the same again in the online social world.

25. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle, Paranormal

Rooms by Lauren Oliver, 320 pages, read by Noelle, on 11/06/2014

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family, bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna, have arrived for their inheritance. But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls.

28. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty, 396 pages, read by Noelle, on 10/28/2014

So, once I realized that the secret would not be revealed in the first few chapters, I was entirely too impatient to wait.  I’m not proud, but I looked up “the secret” online.   I was worried it would be one of those books where the secret was NEVER revealed and I just couldn’t take it any more.  Of course, soon after I looked it up, it was revealed in the book.  So, if you decide to read this, you might want to be a tad more patient than I was.  The secret IS revealed a little less than halfway through.

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.

 

25. October 2014 · 1 comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Horror, Noelle, Paranormal

Sunshine by Robin McKinley, 416 pages, read by Noelle, on 10/17/2014

There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it’s unwise to walk. Sunshine knew that. But there hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake for years, and she needed a place to be alone for a while.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t alone. She never heard them coming. Of course you don’t, when they’re vampires.

They took her clothes and sneakers. They dressed her in a long red gown. And they shackled her to the wall of an abandoned mansion–within easy reach of a figure stirring in the moonlight.

She knows that he is a vampire. She knows that she’s to be his dinner and that when he is finished with her, she will be dead. Yet, as dawn breaks, she finds that he has not attempted to harm her. And now it is he who needs her to help him survive the day.

25. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Humor, Informational Book, Inspirational, Noelle, NonFiction

Bossypants by Tina Fey, 277 pages, read by Noelle, on 10/04/2014

LOVED THIS BOOK!

Before Liz Lemon, before “Weekend Update,” before “Sarah Palin,” Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon — from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.

25. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Noelle

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff, 264 pages, read by Noelle, on 10/07/2014

AWESOMELY FUN CHILDREN’S BOOK!
In a magic kingdom where your name is your destiny, 12-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone’s joke.nbsp;But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. Rump discovers he has a gift for spinning straw into gold. His best friend, Red Riding Hood, warns him that magic is dangerous, and she’s right. With each thread he spins, he weaves himself deeper into a curse.

To break the spell, Rump must go on a perilous quest, fighting off pixies, trolls, poison apples, and a wickedly foolish queen. The odds are against him, but with courage and friendship–and a cheeky sense of humor–he just might triumph in the end.

30. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Horror, Noelle

The facts in the case of the departure of Miss Finch by Neil Gaiman, 51 pages, read by Noelle, on 09/18/2014

Come, come and hear of the strange and terrible tale of Miss Finch, an exacting woman befallen by mystery and abduction deep under the streets of London! New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman delivers another stunning hardcover graphic novel with longtime collaborator Michael Zulli (Creatures of the Night, The Sandman). This is the first comics adaptation of his popular story “The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch,” which saw print only in the U.K. edition of Gaiman’s award-winning work Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions and was recently interpreted for his Speaking in Tongues CD. The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch is a “mostly true story” that combines the author’s trademark magic realism with Zulli’s sumptuous paintings, and has been newly rewritten for this hardcover. Join a group of friends, with the stern Miss Finch in tow, as they enter musty caverns for a subterranean circus spectacle called “The Theatre of Night’s Dreaming.” Come inside, get out of the pounding rain, and witness this strange world of vampires, ringmasters, illusions and the Cabinet of Wishes Fulfill’d.

30. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle, Paranormal

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, 406 pages, read by Noelle, on 09/26/2014

When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt, only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers-with seemingly little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cozy home in the suburbs of Chicago, and with an abnormally intense attachment to one another. They are twenty. .

The girls move to Elspeth’s flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery in London. They come to know the building’s other residents. There is Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword puzzle setter suffering from crippling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Marjike, Martin’s devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth’s elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. As the girls become embroiled in the fraying lives of their aunt’s neighbors, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including-perhaps-their aunt, who can’t seem to leave her old apartment and life behind..

Niffenegger weaves a captivating story in Her Fearful Symmetry about love and identity, about secrets and sisterhood, and about the tenacity of life-even after death..

12. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Noelle · Tags:

Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh, 306 pages, read by Noelle, on 09/09/2014

“The Dane family’s roots tangle deep in the Ozark Mountain town of Henbane, but that doesn’t keep sixteen-year-old Lucy Dane from being treated like an outsider. Folks still whisper about her mother, a bewitching young stranger who inspired local myths when she vanished years ago. When one of Lucy’s few friends, slow-minded Cheri, is found murdered, Lucy feels haunted by the two lost girls–the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn’t protect. Everything changes when Lucy stumbles across Cheri’s necklace in an abandoned trailer and finds herself drawn into a search for answers. What Lucy discovers makes it impossible to ignore the suspicion cast on her own kin. More alarming, she suspects Cheri’s death could be linked to her mother’s disappearance, and the connection between the two puts Lucy at risk of losing everything. In a place where the bonds of blood weigh heavy, Lucy must decide where her allegiances lie”

12. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Noelle, NonFiction

The Carb Sensitivity Program by Dr. Natasha Turner, 472 pages, read by Noelle, on 09/02/2014

My doctor prescribed a low carb diet and this was one of the books I picked up to learn more about it.   The main thing I garnered from the book was that some incredibly lucky people with incredibly efficient endocrine systems can eat carbs all the livelong day without negative side effects.  However, the vast majority of us are not that lucky.  And I am included in the vast majority, making the book depressing.    I feel like her system of going incredibly low carb and then slowly testing out various kinds of carbs to see how sensitive you are is great in theory, but difficult to follow.  Her program is incredibly detailed and restrictive.  I feel I could be successful at this if I was wealthy enough to hire a private chef, or retired with absolutely nothing else to dedicate my life to but food preparation.

28. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Multicultural Fiction, Noelle

All I Love and Know by Judith Frank, 422 pages, read by Noelle, on 08/28/2014

Absolutely fantastic.  I give this book a starred review- Noelle

With the storytelling power of Wally Lamb and the emotional fidelity of Lorrie Moore, this is the searing drama of an American family on the brink of dissolution, one that explores adoption, gay marriage, and true love lost and found.

For years, Matthew Greene and Daniel Rosen have enjoyed a contented domestic life in Northampton, Massachusetts. Opposites in many ways, they have grown together and made their relationship work. But when they learn that Daniel’s twin brother and sister-in-law have been killed in a Jerusalem bombing, their lives are suddenly, utterly transformed.

The deceased couple have left behind two young children, and their shocked and grieving families must decide who will raise six-year-old Gal and baby Noam. When it becomes clear that Daniel’s brother and sister-in-law had wanted Matt and Daniel to be the children’s guardians, the two men find themselves confronted by challenges that strike at the heart of their relationship. What is Matt’s place in an extended family that does not completely accept him or the commitment he and Daniel have made? How do Daniel’s complex feelings about Israel and this act of terror affect his ability to recover from his brother’s death? And what kind of parents can these two men really be to children who have lost so much?

The impact that this instant new family has on Matt, Daniel, and their relationship is subtle and heartbreaking, yet not without glimmers of hope. They must learn to reinvent and redefine their bond in profound, sometimes painful ways. How does a family become strong enough to stay together and endure when its very basis has drastically changed? And are there limits to honesty or commitment–or love?