27. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction · Tags:

More of Monkey & Robot by Peter Catalanotto, 64 pages, read by Angie, on 03/26/2015

The second book in the Monkey and Robot series. This is a good transition book for young readers who are ready to move on from easy readers but not quite ready for chapter books. The four chapters in the book are all independent stories that can be read together or separate. Funny stories that are sure to tickle kids.

26. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

The Missing Pieces of Me by Jean Van Leeuwen, 226 pages, read by Angie, on 03/25/2015

Weezie’s momma says she is a bad kid. Nothing she does ever seems to come out right whether it is making her momma tea or cooking dinner or picking flowers. Momma dotes on Ruth Ann and Jackson, but has nothing good to say to Weezie. Momma also doesn’t talk about Weezie’s daddy. She won’t even say his name or tell Weezie anything about him other than that he was a bad guy. Weezie wonders if finding her daddy would make any difference in her life. She has very little to go on: just a photo with a first name. She enlists the help of her friends Calvin and Louella to help her figure it out.

Weezie’s story seems to be one of heartbreak and loss, but on closer inspection it is one of hope and determination. Weezie is beaten down at every turn, by her momma and by some of her classmates. She doesn’t let that drag her down though. She is positive in spite of everything. She is an artist with true talent and is recognized by her teacher if not by her momma. She is a good friend to Luella and Calvin even when her momma tries to stop her from being their friend. She is a good big sister to Ruth Ann and Jackson even though her momma never recognizes her efforts. And she is a good daughter despite her momma’s indifference. I appreciate the fact that while the ending is hopefully it is not necessarily a happy ending. It is realistic in that momma has not made a big change in her attitude and Weezie’s homelife is still very much the same as it was. Sure she knows who her daddy is, but that has not really changed her circumstances. The Missing Pieces of Me is a wonderful story that I highly recommend.

26. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Lulu's Mysterious Mission by Judith Viorst, Kevin Cornell (Illustrator), 185 pages, read by Angie, on 03/25/2015

Lulu’s parents are going on vacation without Lulu. She is NOT happy about it and is even more unhappy when she learns they are leaving her with a babysitter. She tries everything she can think of to get rid of Sonia Sofia Solinsky, including introducing cats to the highly allergic babysitter, sneaking out the window and blockading herself in her room. It doesn’t matter what she does, Solinsky is always one step ahead of her. After the blockade is destroyed Solinsky lets it slip that she is actually a spy. Of course, Lulu wants to be a spy as well and begs Solinsky to train her. Solinsky demands obedience and once Lulu is on board she has a much better time with her babysitter. The only problem is that her parents missed her so much they are determined to never leave her again. That will not do! Lulu then has to convince them to keep taking vacations so she can have Sonia Sofia Solinsky keep training her. I really enjoyed Lulu’s third outing. This series is very tongue-in-cheek funny. I really enjoy the interjections of the author, which didn’t seem quite as plentiful as they were in other books. However, I liked this story and how Solinsky tames Lulu. I think Lulu fans will enjoy this one as much as the others.

26. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody K, Romance

Where there's smoke by Elizabeth Lee, 230 pages, read by Melody, on 03/25/2015

There is something to be said for letting go. Ryland Roberts knows that better than anyone. He’d let go of his ambitions, of his family and—most of all—of her. He’d perfected the art of putting his past behind him and accepted the fact that the town he wanted to leave in his rearview was the place where he was going to live out his days. But sometimes the past doesn’t just go away. Sometimes it comes back to haunt you.

Piper Jameson convinced herself that she left for all the right reasons. She’d saved people by leaving—made sure that they weren’t tainted by her rebellious ways. When her little sister asks her to come home and say goodbye to their ailing mother, she’s forced to see that things aren’t always as they seem. The people who she’d left behind might not have been saved at all.

In the amount of time it takes a bullet to travel from point A to point B, Piper and Ryland will have to put their feelings for each other aside and make a choice. Forced on the run with Piper’s sister, they begin to understand that the future they thought was gone was never really lost.

climateI liked how this book is organized in presenting it’s story.  Global warming and climate change not the same thing and the author takes the doubters questions and shows how they are wrong about their incomplete beliefs.

 

26. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Tomb Raider Tankobon: Volume 3 by Dan Jurgens, 220 pages, read by Brian, on 03/20/2015

tomb3Adventurer Lara Croft visits exotic locales in search of the world’s greatest treasure. From the archives of Top Cow Productions, one of the leading publishers of comic books in North America, Bandai Entertainment is proud to release a new series of graphic novels featuring the best of Lara Croft’s adventures!

26. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Tomb Raider: Tankobon: Volume 1 by Dan Jurgens, 236 pages, read by Brian, on 03/19/2015

tombAdventurer Lara Croft visits exotic locales in search of the world’s greatest treasures. This title is a part of a series of graphic novels featuring the best of Lara Croft’s adventures.

 

26. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones, 310 pages, read by Brian, on 03/19/2015

graveFirst Grave on the Right is about Death.  I mean the person who sees dead people and takes them to there rightful place after they die.  Charley Davidson, is such Death, a grim reaper if you will, who moonlights as a private investigator. She is kind of lazy, smart-ass, and a heart of gold as she solves the murders of the recently deceased.

 

26. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Brian, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal

Pale Demon by Kim Harrison, 439 pages, read by Brian, on 03/18/2015

paleKim Harrison is a wonderful writer, her books are interesting, funny and suspenseful, Pale Demon is no different.  Rachel Morgan is condemned by the witches society for using black magic.  She has three days to travel across country to prove her innocence and not be sent to the demons.  Travelling with a vampire, elf, pixie and other assorted creatures trying to kill her, this shouldn’t be a problem at all.  Should it?

 

26. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, Business, NonFiction, Self Help

Happy at Work: 60 Simple Ways to Stay Engaged and Be Successful by Jim Donovan, 176 pages, read by Brian, on 03/24/2015

18342410Happy @ Work is a good but not great book.  Jim gives the reader good ways to be more productive, work better with others and of course, to be happy at work.  The suggestions are good but obvious, yes, I like to be reminded of what I strayed away from but I was looking for to get over the next hurdle.

 

26. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Withering Hope by Layla Hagen, 262 pages, read by Jessica, on 03/24/2015

91sXt2gX6UL._SL1500_Withering Hope is the story of a man who desperately needs forgiveness and the woman who brings him hope. It is a story in which hope births wings and blooms into a love that is as beautiful and intense as it is FORBIDDEN. ***

Aimee’s wedding is supposed to turn out perfect. Her dress, her fiance and the location–the idyllic holiday ranch in Brazil–are perfect.

But all Aimee’s plans come crashing down when the private jet that’s taking her from the U.S. to the ranch–where her fiance awaits her–defects mid-flight and the pilot is forced to perform an emergency landing in the heart of the Amazon rainforest.

With no way to reach civilization, being rescued is Aimee and Tristan’s–the pilot–only hope. A slim one that slowly withers away, desperation taking its place. Because death wanders in the jungle under many forms: starvation, diseases. Beasts.

As Aimee and Tristan fight to find ways to survive, they grow closer. Together they discover that facing old, inner agonies carved by painful pasts takes just as much courage, if not even more, than facing the rainforest.

Despite her devotion to her fiance, Aimee can’t hide her feelings for Tristan–the man for whom she’s slowly becoming everything. You can hide many things in the rainforest. But not lies. Or love.

Withering Hope is the story of a man who desperately needs forgiveness and the woman who brings him hope. It is a story in which hope births wings and blooms into a love that is as beautiful and intense as it is forbidden.

25. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, Informational Book, NonFiction

Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow, 192 pages, read by Angie, on 03/24/2015

Typhoid seems like one of those diseases people used to have back in the old days when there wasn’t any antibiotics or good sanitation. It sort of is, but it still exists today. Fatal Fever is the story of typhoid in the early 1900s in New York. New York was not like it is today. There were outhouses and cesspits and raw sewage in the streets. It was very likely you would come in contact with typhoid at some point in your life. This book chronicles the story of Mary Mallon, otherwise known as Typhoid Mary. It is also the story of George Soper and how he tracked down Mary. Mary was a cook for prominent New York families. Soper’s investigation led him from family to family and from typhoid case to typhoid case. Mary was something unknown at that time: a carrier of typhoid who was not herself sick. She spread the disease through the food she handled and served to her employers. Soper and his associates finally caught up with Mary and had her tested. She was then confined to North Brother Island. Mary was never charged with anything or put on trial. She was confined by the Department of Health because she was considered a health risk. She never believed that she infected people with typhoid or that she was a carrier. She fought against her confinement for years. After she was finally let go, you would think she learned her lesson but you would be wrong. She again infected a family with typhoid and was again sent to North Brother Island where she spent the rest of her life.

Gail Jarrow is one of those authors that I am starting to look for. I really enjoyed her book Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat and equally enjoyed this one. This book reads like a detective story with Soper as the detective and Mary as the villain. There are lots of details about typhoid and sanitation in the 1900s, but you kind of forget how educational the books is. You are just reading it for the pure enjoyment and fascination of it.

25. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Paula, Thriller/Suspense

The Girl On The Train by Hawkins, Paula, 323 pages, read by Paula, on 03/24/2015

hw7.plRachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

I loved this book.  I couldn’t put it down.  Rachel is such a believable character.  She is an alcoholic.  And on the night Megan goes missing she’s drunk.  She knows she’s seen something.  But she can’t remember what.  Lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing right up until the end.

 

24. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Autobiographies, Humor, NonFiction

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris, David Javerbaum, Antony Hare (Illustrator), 304 pages, read by Angie, on 03/23/2015

Neil Patrick Harris is at this point unstoppable. His newest venture is his Choose Your Own Autobiography and it is HILARIOUS! It is set up just like the old choose your own adventure books from my childhood and it works. It also works really well just as a book to read straight through (which is what I did). Neil chronicles his life from childhood to present day in an honest, insightful and funny way. He pulls no punches about himself or those around him. I was especially touched by his personal journey to discover his sexual identity. He is honest about how he dated girls but wasn’t that into it, about his first gay experiences and about finding love with his husband David. I laughed out loud when he was talking about his escapades with LA nightlife in his youth and how outrageous it is to be friends with Elton John. The Choose Your Own Autobiography set up allows you to make terrible choices with Neil’s life which ended up with him as a sandwich maker at Schlotzky’s Deli or in a horrible death scene. I also really enjoyed the letters from his friends like Sarah Silverman, Nathan Fillion, Penn Jillette, Seth MacFarlane and many others. They were sometimes touching, sometimes funny, often bizarre, but always perfect. I started my journey with NPH during his Doogie Howser days when he was one of my favorite teen heartthrobs. I rediscovered him as Dr. Horrible and have loved him ever since. He is very talented and funny, but above all seems to be a genuine good guy who deserves all the accolades he gets. His autobiography is definitely worth the read for fans and nonfans, plus it has magic tricks!

23. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Apocalyptic, Fantasy, Fiction, Tammy · Tags:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, 333 pages, read by Tammy, on 03/04/2015

station eleven  This novel set in the future explores what life would be like for the survivors of a world-wide pandemic. Part of the story takes place in the characters past when the illness was just starting, part takes place in their current time and other sections take place in the characters memories of their own past. This may sound confusing but the writing and the way the chapters are organized makes the story flow smoothly. The survivors past lives interconnect in an interesting way and the inclusion of a story within the story set in a graphic novel is unique as well. The novel explores the different ways people react to the same circumstances and how their decisions affect all those around them.

23. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Humor, Tammy · Tags: , , ,

Off the Leash: The Secret Life of Dogs by Rupert Fawcett , 158 pages, read by Tammy, on 03/10/2015

off the leash  Collection of cartoons originally published on Facebook. Rupert Fawcett’s cartoons have developed into a daily online comic.This collection features the secret thoughts and conversations of dogs of every size, shape and breed. This collection will appeal to pet owners and those who just wish they owned a pet.

23. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Humor, Tammy · Tags: , ,

Texts from Dog by October Jones, 100 pages, read by Tammy, on 03/08/2015

texts from dog  Author October Jones shares the text between him and his pet bulldog. His endearing Dog and his alter-ego Batdog were born. Texts from Dog features his attempts to keep the neighborhood safe from the enemy otherwise known as the Postman. Stories about his arch-enemy Cat-Cat are also included. Some stories are laugh out loud funny. However, keep in mind that these texts are between two young adult males (one human, one dog) about whatever it is they are thinking. Not child friendly humor.

23. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Carousel Sun by Sharon Lee, 336 pages, read by Kira, on 03/22/2015

Cover-Carousel-SunThe second book in the Carousel saga.  Though the stakes aren’t as high as in the last novel, I still found this a very enjoyable read.  2270482292_d35dac85e7_z 'Swamp Dweller' merman painting, Jade GengcoKate’s bad neighbor is still running drugs, and seems to have found another Ozali to help him evade the police.  One of the things I like about Sharon Lee’s writing is that she doesn’t spell things out for you, you have to figure things out on your own.  I finally  Scenics_coastal_waters_and_landmassrealized what had become of the bat-winged horse – though the clues had all been there in the previous book.  I also love the way Kate needs to assert herself, if she wants things to develop between her and Borgan.  I’m waiting to see what happens to the other escaped carousel animals in her next book – Carousel Seas.SeaWitch4  Lee also manages to capture the magic of riding a carousel.dragon_0011d39076ffdcd3feb85e89ebbab63c5c7Wild-Cats-Carousel-947741Carousel-4

23. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Historical Fiction · Tags:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, 531 pages, read by Angie, on 03/21/2015

My mom recommended this book to me and I am so glad I finally read it. It is a powerful story, told beautifully. It is a story of love and loss and survival and death. It is the story of two children coming of age during WWII. Marie-Laure is a beloved daughter of a Paris museum locksmith. She has grown up surrounded by the museum and all its treasures. When she goes blind her father builds a replica of their neighborhood so she can find her way around. He also spoils her with little puzzles and treasures. Warner is an orphan living in a children’s home in a mining town in Germany. He is mechanically brilliant, building a radio from scratch and repairing things in the town. He fears being sent to work in the mines and dying like his father. He is protective of his younger sister Jutta, but doesn’t really know how to help them. When he is given the opportunity to attend a Nazi technical school he jumps at the chance. School is a lot more brutal than he thought it would be, but he finds a way to survive.

Marie-Laure and Warner’s stories are told alternatively through their childhood and the present day at the end of the war. They both end up in Saint-Malo on the French coast. Marie-Laure and her father have fled Paris ahead of the Nazi occupation and taken up residence with her great uncle Etienne. Her uncle was traumatized by WWI and doesn’t leave the house; he suffers bouts of PTSD that leave him hiding in his room for days. Marie-Laure’s father again builds a model of the neighborhood so she can find her way about, but then he disappears. Warner has become part of a radio unit that hunts down insurgents. Their quest has led them to Saint-Malo. Little does he know that the radio broadcasts giving out information to the French resistance is the same one he listened to as a child on his homemade radio. Etienne has again taken to the airwaves after being convinced by his housekeeper to join the fight. Warner is intrigued by the blind girl he sees coming out of the house and finds himself protective of her and Etienne. Their stories intersect during the last days in Saint-Malo as it is being bombed by the Allies.

Interspersed with all of this is the story of the Sea of Flames, a singular blue diamond with a heart of fire. It has traveled the world before ending up in the Paris museum. It is said to be cursed, offering immortality to its bearer but death to all those you love. Marie-Laure’s father was entrusted with its safe keeping when he fled Paris. A Nazi officer has been pursuing it across France as he also evaluates other jewels confiscated by the Nazis. He is dying and is determined to get the jewel in the hopes of saving his life. His search leads him right to the door of Marie-Laure.

I loved this book and really had a hard time putting it down. It is beautifully written and Marie-Laure and Warner came alive on the page. I couldn’t wait to see how their stories would finally intersect. This book really brought out the lives of ordinary people in the war. Even though Marie-Laure and Warner are extraordinary in their own ways, there stories are ones shared by others during that time. They are doing what they can to survive and remain themselves. I thought the ending was perfect. It wasn’t a happy ending, yet it was in many ways. This book is definitely worthy of all the praise that has been heaped upon it.

23. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags: , ,

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King, 279 pages, read by Angie, on 03/20/2015

Lucky Linderman isn’t lucky at all. When his grandma died she asked him to find his grandpa. Problem is grandpa was a POW in Vietnam and never came home. Lucky has been dreaming about rescue missions to save his grandpa ever since. Lucky is also being bullied by a horrible kid named Nadar McMillan. Nadar is one of those kids that every kid knows to avoid, but all the adults love. It doesn’t help that his father is a sue-happy lawyer. Nadar started bullying Lucky by peeing on his shoes when he was seven and hasn’t stopped. Lucky’s parents know he is being bullied, but can’t seem to find the energy or the drive to do something about it. His dad is a chef, works all the time and only wants to talk food when he is home. Dad has been so traumatized by growing up without a dad that he can’t seem to become one himself. Mom spends all her time in the pool swimming laps to avoid her unhappy marriage and her unhappy child.

It is not until Nadar physically harms Lucky so that others can see that mom finally does something. She doesn’t call the police or Nadar’s father; she takes Lucky and leaves. They head to Arizona and her brother’s house (mainly because it has a pool). Things seem to be looking up there. Lucky is bonding with his uncle and lifting weights and he meets a girl who helps build up his confidence in himself. Only problem is that the aunt is CRAZY. She is positive Lucky is suicidal and keeps wanting to help him in her own inept way. In Arizona Lucky learns some truths about himself and his family and starts to gain the confidence he needs to stand up to Nadar.

This is a book that might not be for everyone, but if you stick with it you are going to be rewarded. A.S. King always seems to write about the misfit characters who come into their own in her books. Like her other characters, Lucky is a real kid with real problems. He is picked on and bullied and misunderstood. Sure he dreams about rescuing his grandpa from the jungle prisons of Vietnam and sure he has a chorus of ants who offer commentary on his life, but that doesn’t make him crazy. In fact, the dreams and the ants help him work through what is going on around him. The ants offer a bit of light-heartedness to an otherwise fairly dark story.