23. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books · Tags: , ,

Bras & Broomsticks by Sarah Mlynowski, read by Kira, on 08/22/2014

home_hdrbras-and-broomsticks-sound41eB3vGFWRL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_   9789892310312 Cute story.  Protagonist Rachel learns her younger sister is transitioning into witch powers.  Rachel pressures her younger sister to use her magic for things like making Rachel more popular, getting their dad to Not marry the Stepmonster… Problems are neatly wrapped up, with authentic relationships the prize.home_nav_spellsimages

on-the-shelfPISA 2009ChartQuoteTime Magazine journalist, Amanda Ripley, examines the superpowers of education thru the stories of 3 American foreign exchange students.  Kim goes to Finland, Tom to Poland,screen shot 2013-12-03 at 5.29.16 am and Eric to South Korea.    She asks why do US students continue to lag behind other developed countries.

So, do you think parental involvement with extracurricular activities helps children in school? actually there is a slight negative correlation with parental extracurricular involvement and children’s education scores.  However, reading to your kids, or reading at home (books, magazines) and discussing books, social issues, etc with your kids, is associated with higher educational scores.

 

Why is education so uforeign_exchange1nder-valued in the US? and whyAugust 8 I phone, last of Korea, Groths 987 d9789863204275oes this field get so mdownload (3)uch more respect in other developed score-testscountries?  Why do we as Americans think Mathematics is really an optional topic.   An interesting example was of the Bama pie making factory.  They couldn’t find smart enough people to work in their factory, so they opened another factory in Poland (okay, they can probably get skilled and cheap labor there).  Another example, was that even Head of Maintenance jobs require a fair amount of skill these days.  One needs to be able to be able to read blue-prints, perform applied mathematical equations, motivate subordinates, and communicate well, including writing reports.

I wish she has examined the effect of students studying in groups.  I had one prof who clearly believed in it, and it was a practice that I took up, finding other motivated students to study with.

She claims to only be transmitting information, and letting the reader decide, but she does seem to have a something of political agenda (though it is neither right nor left).  She advocates stronger requirements for both teachers (of which we seem to have a plethora) and for students to pass classes.  She dismisses technology and gadgets.

22. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, How To's, NonFiction · Tags:

Twitter for Dummies by Laura Fitton, read by Brian, on 08/19/2014

twitterTwitter for Dummies is all encompassing book on Twitter.   Twitter is used by millions of people around the World to communicate with each other.  From the casual friends to use in the business sector Twitter is a hit and this book tells you the ins and outs of the media.

 

22. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Dystopia, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Expiration Day by William Campbell Powell, read by Angie, on 08/22/2014

The year is 2049 and humanity is becoming infertile. Very few babies are being born which has led to “the troubles”. In order to end the troubles, a company called Oxted started manufacturing robot babies. Parents can adopt the babies and pretend everything is normal. The children go back to Oxted periodically for upgrades so they can seem to grow. No one is supposed to know who is a robot and who is a human kid even the kids themselves. However, during the teen years the robot kids sometimes do something that breaks the veneer of humanity and the parents can’t deal so they send them back to Oxted. Doesn’t really matter anyway because all the kids have to be returned at 18 to be recycled. What a lovely future!

Tania is 11 when the book starts. She thinks she is human until she falls into the Thames and doesn’t drown. Once she realizes she is a robot she embraces her robothood (after a few days of cranky). She has made friends with John and Sian and together they form a band; later they are joined by Kieran to round out the sound. Tania starts exploring the TelNet (internet) to see what she can find out about Oxted and what is going on with humanity; however, this plot point doesn’t last very long. The novel is told through Tania’s diary entries in which she writes to a future alien Mr. Zog. Of course Mr. Zog answers her posts from the future where he is reading about earth in some kind of archive. 

The story is pretty slow and drags a lot as we are just hearing Tania’s side of the story and she is mostly talking about her day-to-day life. The idea of the book was an intriguing one but the execution was pretty terrible. None of the characters actually seemed like real people to me; they didn’t talk like real people or act like real people. Maybe it was because most of them were robots but I think it was more poor writing. The world building was atrocious. This is set only 35 years in the future, which isn’t really that long, and yet the world has fallen apart. There is no explanation as to why fertility has disappeared or how the robot babies were accepted so quickly. Other than the robots, technology doesn’t seem to have advanced very much either. Other than the fact that there doesn’t appear to be any real book or music or movies anymore because everything is digital. I also thought it was really interesting (kind of dumb) that everyone seemed to only listen to 70s rock bands???? Lots of music was mentioned throughout the book but very little of it was post-1980. Why? The end did not make reading the whole book worth it at all. I wanted more from this story and was really disappointed that I didn’t get it.

21. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker, read by Jessica, on 08/21/2014

Kacey Cleary’s whole life imploded four years ago in a drunk-driving accident. Now she’s working hard to bury the pieces left behind—all but one. Her little sister, Livie. Kacey can swallow the constant disapproval from her born-again aunt Darla over her self-destructive lifestyle; she can stop herself from going kick-boxer crazy on Uncle Raymond when he loses the girls’ college funds at a blackjack table. She just needs to keep it together until Livie is no longer a minor, and then they can get the hell out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

But when Uncle Raymond slides into bed next to Livie one night, Kacey decides it’s time to run. Armed with two bus tickets and dreams of living near the coast, Kacey and Livie start their new lives in a Miami apartment complex, complete with a grumpy landlord, a pervert upstairs, and a neighbor with a stage name perfectly matched to her chosen “profession.” But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle all of them. What she can’t handle is Trent Emerson in apartment 1D.

Kacey doesn’t want to feel. She doesn’t. It’s safer that way. For everyone. But sexy Trent finds a way into her numb heart, reigniting her ability to love again. She starts to believe that maybe she can leave the past where it belongs and start over. Maybe she’s not beyond repair.

But Kacey isn’t the only one who’s broken. Seemingly perfect Trent has an unforgiveable past of his own; one that, when discovered, will shatter Kacey’s newly constructed life and send her back into suffocating darkness.

21. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kim, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

You're not safe by Mary Burton, read by Kim, on 08/20/2014

He Will Never Forget
The broken body hanging from a tree in Texas Hill Country. . .the frozen figure huddled in a meat locker. . .only at second glance does the truth become apparent. What seems like suicide is far more sinister, and the terror is only beginning…

Never Forgive

One devastating moment changed Greer Templeton’s life and ended two others. Now, with a body found on her property and Texas Ranger Tec Bragg on her doorstep, Greer’s nightmare has returned. With each new victim, her link to Tec’s case grows, and soon it will be too late to run.

And Never Let Them Live. . .

Greer hoped the past was behind her, but an obsessed killer has never forgotten the bond that unites them. One by one, he will track down his victims, finish what was started–and make Greer’s dying wish come true. 

21. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance

Something about you by Julie James, read by Melody, on 08/20/2014

Fate has thrown two sworn enemies…

Of all the hotel rooms rented by all the adulterous politicians in Chicago, female Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde had to choose the one next to 1308, where some hot-and-heavy lovemaking ends with a death. And of all the FBI agents in Illinois, it had to be Special Agent Jack Pallas who gets assigned to this high-profile homicide. The same Jack Pallas who still blames Cameron for a botched crackdown three years ago—and for nearly ruining his career.

Into each other’s arms…

Work with Cameron Lynde? Are they kidding? Maybe, Jack thinks, this is some kind of welcome-back prank after his stint away from Chicago. But it’s no joke; the pair is going to have to put their rocky past behind them and focus on the case at hand. That is, if they can cut back on the razor-sharp jibes—and smother the flame of their sizzling-hot sexual tension.

21. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz, read by Angie, on 08/20/2014

Splendors and Glooms is a 2013 Newbery Honor Book and kind of reinforces my idea that the Newbery Award is not about books that kids would choose to read themselves. It is about books that adults think kids should read or need to read. Which means the books are generally not popular and are not going to be books kids will pick up on their own. Splendors and Glooms is a heavy book that deals with some very tough topics like child abuse, unwanted male attention, death and evil all the while set in Victorian England. It is a long read with a lot of descriptive language reminiscent of Victorian literature. It is a book that I would actually say is more geared towards older kids because of the situations and language (there are a couple of swear words). 

Splendors and Glooms is the story of three children: Clara, Lizzie Rose, and Parsefall. Clara is a privileged girl who is the only surviving child of a cholera epidemic that killed all her brothers and sisters. Her house is one of mourning even years after the fact. Lizzie Rose is a child of the theater who was orphaned when her parents died who plays at being a lady. Parsefall is another orphan who was rescued from the workhouse, loves being a puppeteer and picks a pocket or two. Lizzie Rose and Parsefall live with Grisini the puppeteer. He doesn’t treat them very well, barely feeds them and makes them work for him. The three meet when Clara begs to have Grisini do a show at her birthday party. She disappears the next day with no trace. Then Parsefall and Lizzie Rose discover a new puppet who looks just like Clara and come to believe that Grisini is a magician who turned her into a puppet. Grisini disappears leaving the children on their own until they discover a letter from Cassandra asking them to come live with her. Cassandra is a witch who has visions of being consumed by fire because of the fire opal she possesses. Grisini tells her that a child must steal it from her in order to free her (thus the request for the kids). The kids arrive at her country castle and start trying to figure out what is going on and how they can get out of it. 

So not my favorite book. The story was overly dramatic and gruesome at times for a children’s book. The ending was way too simple to be realistic and diminished the drama of the previous 400 pages. And the plot got a little convoluted and a bit boring to tell you the truth. 

21. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction · Tags:

The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection CD by Neil Gaiman, read by Angie, on 08/19/2014

Four short children’s stories by Neil Gaiman are contained in this collection and they were all wonderful: Crazy Hair, Cinnamon, The Wolves in the Walls and the Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish. I think my favorite might have been the Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish just for the plain fun and silliness of the story. The Wolves in the Walls was a bit scary. Cinnamon was a touching story. Crazy Hair was just fun with its rhyming text. I think the best part was the fact that Gaiman read the stories himself and the fact that his daughter interviewed him at the end. Wonderful collection. 

Neil Gaiman is a master storyteller and listening to him tell this tale was chilling and thrilling. It is a story taken out of legend and the mists of time. It is a story about adventure and greed and revenge and evil and what causes all of the above. Gaiman has a hypnotising voice that makes the story come alive in a way just reading it would not have accomplished. His telling is accompanied by music which really helps to set the mood in this dark tale.

Hard to read, but absolutely fascinating, this book not only tells the story of a school shooter, but also is written by someone who considered it before his life got turned around.  The parallels between Vann and Kazmierczak’s early lives are staggering.  The line between mass murder and living a normal life is surprisingly easy to cross, a point brought up by the author.  Anyone interested in true crime, psychology, sociology and related fields will find this book difficult to put down.  It brings a very human element to a seemingly otherworldly type of crime.  Very informative.

download (1)This is a fantastic book for the beginning fantasy watercolorist with information on faces, hands, feet, and everything in between.  It also has beginning watercolor instruction for those not well-versed in it already.  I absolutely loved this book and plan to add it to my personal collection soon.  It was exactly what I was looking for!

indexThis is a great book especially for those wanting to begin with oils, acrylics, or digital media.  Watercolorists would have to adapt the shades of the washes from lightest to darkest.  Hodgson lays it all out step-by-step as the title implies, instructing the artist on drawing out and painting fantasy characters and backgrounds.  He walks the artist through six different paintings, all using various methods, creatures, and poses.  A good reference to keep on hand as well.  Just wished it was geared a little more for watercolor too.

21. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Crafts, Marsha, NonFiction · Tags: ,

10 Secrets of the Laidback Knitters by Vicki Stiefel and Lisz Souza, read by Marsha, on 08/03/2014

downloadA fun read for knitters everywhere.  While the secrets are not necessarily new revelations to those of us knitting for awhile, the book brings humor and good-hearted advice to the craft.  Some of the patterns are truly delightful and I can’t wait to knit them up.  I ended up adding this book to my personal collection because I just enjoyed it that much.  Sit back with a cuppa and read Stiefel and Souza.  You won’t regret it.

21. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Crafts, Marsha, NonFiction · Tags:

Joy of Scrapbooking by Lisa Bearnson and Gayle Humpherys, read by Marsha, on 08/02/2014

This is nice for beginning scrapbookers as it gives a list of essential tools one needs to begin this craft.  It is also good for intermediate scrappers because the book contains a refresher course on some of the techniques for scrapping as well as pages and pages of inspiration.  This is the updated and expanded edition that came out a decade after the original and it has so much more as well as updated pages for inspiration since tools and techniques have changed somewhat.  A great reference for anyone to have on hand!

20. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, How To's, Informational Book, NonFiction · Tags:

Twitter Book by Tim O'Reilly, read by Brian, on 08/19/2014

twitterWant to learn how to use Twitter?  Tim O’Reilly gives a fun and easy to read book on how to use the 140 character social media tool.   This book is useful if you are a casual user or wanting to promote your busy.

 

20. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Brian, Fiction, Horror

Gingerbread Girl by Stephen King, read by Brian, on 08/20/2014

runAfter the devastation of her baby dying, Em could only relieve pain by running. Em would run and keeping all the way to Florida.  Making her new home in the Vermillion Key she ran every day and everything was fine until the day she stopped to see what was in her neighbor’s trunk.  Time is running out for Em.

 

 

19. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Science Fiction, Teen Books, Teen Books · Tags: ,

Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves., read by Kira, on 08/19/2014

interworld-by-neil-gaiman-and-michael-reaves Inter_World917 itrs 8dd7103b2bb3074baa5d7ad59f963f3a Interworld-neil-gaiman-1548448-258-410 interwrld Interworld_by_Neil_Gaiman_and_Michael_Reaves_200_312 50130_interworldThe setting is the Multiverse or all the different possible versions of realities our world could have taken. Two factions at opposite ends of the multiverse continuum are fighting for supremacy, destroying worlds with impunity.

In our world Joey Harker takes a wrong turn, and first winds up in a world very similar to our own, except that his mother has a fake arm, and her offspring is a girl Josephine, who looks very much like him, just a female version.  In the next world, it turns out he drowned in the river a couple years ago, instead of having a close brush with death, and getting a huge lecture from his father on water safety.  Another look-alike Joe Harker look-alike J is sent to rescue Joey Harker before the warring factions can use his soul for energy in their never-ending war.  The Joe Harker look-alikes vary widely from girls with wings, to cyborgs with implants.  This was a quick and enjoyable read.  It leaves room for a sequel.  Lastly, I liked the mudluff sidekick.

19. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books

Wings by Aprilynne Pike, read by Kira, on 08/07/2014

Protagonist Laurel discovers that she isn’t human, but rather a plant belonging to the fairy kingdom.  Her family has recently moved into town, in part so that Laurel attend a school (instead of being homeschooled), and in part so her father can open and run his dream business a bookstore.  At school she meets David, a calm, smart, good-looking guy.  Then she starts growing a flower from her back.

This was a nice book, a bit predictable, in the plot line, and David and Laurel modeled near-perfect interpersonal interactions, a nice change, if a little unrealistic.  I will Not be reading further into this series, and only “picked up” this book, because choices in downloadable books are limited.wings  XMix7p6N50lraY1LfPibuO3H1Os wings-aprilynne-pike-5966588-348-500th

18. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Exposed by Laura Griffin , read by Melody, on 08/17/2014

Every picture tells a story. But not all of them have happy endings.

As a forensic photographer at the Delphi Center crime lab, Maddie Callahan is used to seeing violence up close, but she’s never before been the target of it. When a freelance photo shoot goes awry, she realizes she may have seen, and perhaps photographed, the kidnapping of a key witness in a federal probe. And although her camera was stolen, Maddie knows she has something that could be even more valuable to investigators. 

FBI agent Brian Beckman has spent months investigating a vicious criminal known as the Doctor, only to have a key witness abducted on his watch. Worse, he’s falling for the woman who may be the Doctor’s next target. Maddie’s aloof facade hides a world of hurt that he wants to heal, no matter how much she keeps him at bay. But first he has to protect her from the danger that’s just out of focus, drawing close enough to shoot . . . and kill.