08. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction

The Girls of Gettysburg by Bobbi Miller , 151 pages, read by Angie, on 12/06/2014

The Girls of Gettysburg is the story of three girls who experience the Battle of Gettysburg in different ways. Annie is a Southern girl who has disguised herself as a boy and joined the Confederate Army. She has run away from her mother and set out to live up to the hopes of her brothers who have died in the war. Grace is a free black living in Gettysburg. She has the chance to flee North but stays and helps two runaway slaves. Tillie is a rich white girl living in Gettysburg. Her world changes the most as her life of privilege is swept away with the tide of battle. Each of the girls goes through a lot and I really appreciated the different perspectives of the battle. I thought Annie’s tragic story would have been the one to move me the most, but it was actually Tillie’s growth from a snobby girl to a battlefield nurse and helper that really touched me. This book reminded me a lot of Will at the Battle of Gettysburg 1863 with its detailed descriptions of what life was like before, during and after the battle.

08. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction

The Sittin' Up by Shelia P. Moses, 240 pages, read by Angie, on 12/06/2014

Mr. Bro. Wiley is the last former slave in the Low Meadows of North Carolina when he dies in 1940. He has been living with the Jones family and when he dies they are devastated as is the rest of the community. The area starts planning for his sitting up (a week of gatherings before the burying). Twelve-year-old Bean is pretty excited about the sitting up even though he is sad at the passing of Mr. Bro. Wiley. This will be his first sitting up and proof that he is becoming a man. His friend Pole will also be able to attend and they get to help with the preparations. As everyone gathers for the sitting up a storm is approaching. Since the Low Meadows is right on the river this is cause for concern. Mrs. Jones is also heavily pregnant which of course complicates things even more.

This is a story about a community coming together over a man that was loved by all, even the degenerates of the area. It is a story of a forgotten time when people came together and knew each other intimately. The entire Low Meadows population is almost more like a family than a community. It is also a coming of age story as Bean and Pole take their place in the community as adults and become familiar with what that entails. I enjoyed the story, but had a few issues with it. I wish Mr. Bro. Wiley’s name would have been explained. I assumed it was Brother, but have no idea if that is right or not and it is not his real name. The other nicknames are explained in the book but not this one. I also had very skeptical reactions to all the carrying on in the book. Maybe that is how people in the Low Meadows really reacted to a death in the family but it seemed so extreme to me. I think the dialect the book was written in could also throw off younger readers. I didn’t have any trouble with it but the book is geared towards elementary age readers and they might have some trouble. They might also think the book is a little slow as there isn’t a lot of action until the very end.

08. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kim, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Virtue falls by Christina Dodd, 448 pages, read by Kim, on 12/06/2014

Twenty-three years ago, Misty Banner was brutally slashed to death in her home in Virtue Falls, Washington. Her husband was convicted of the murder. Their four year old daughter Elizabeth witnessed the crime, but has no memory of the killing. Now, two decades later, Elizabeth is back in Virtue Falls. She soon discovers her father is innocent. The real killer is still out there. And her investigation has stirred dark and deadly resentments that could provoke in another bloody murder—her own—in this riveting novel from bestselling author Christina Dodd.

08. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Say you love me by Rita Herron, 378 pages, read by Melody, on 12/06/2014

A columnist for the Big Easy’s hottest erotic magazine, Britta Berger has heard her share of wild, hidden desires. But beneath her sophisticated facade, Britta is running from much darker secrets… including the terrifying night she barely survived. Now someone from her past has returned to play a merciless game. And only one man can help her… . Detective Jean-Paul Dubois knows instinctively that Britta is the key to ending the string of vicious ritualistic murders that plague his city. But still haunted by his past, he must resist the dangerous attraction between them. For lurking deep in the shadows of the bayou, a killer waits to end her life– and their future– with one devastating final strike.

08. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Informational Book, NonFiction · Tags:

Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck by Amy Alkon, 304 pages, read by Brian, on 12/13/2014

mannersGood Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck is an informative and funny look on how normal people should handle everyday affairs.  The loud cell phone person in the library or elevator, the neighbor who is loud all night long, Amy gives practical/funny advice on handling those situations.

 

08. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Humor

All My Friends Are Still Dead by Avery Monsen, 108 pages, read by Brian, on 12/01/2014

friends2All My Friends Are Still Dead takes off where the first book ended and if you have controlled yourself from laughing, you my precede to the next book.  Enjoy!

 

08. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Humor

All My Friends are Dead by Avery Monsen, 96 pages, read by Brian, on 12/01/2014

friendsIt’s a simple concept, what if you are the last dinosaur?  Your friends would all be dead.  this funny little book examines zombies, cassettes and other things that may all be dead.

 

06. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Cats, How To's, Informational Book, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: ,

Catification: Designing a Happy and Stylish Home for Your Cat (and You!) by Jackson Galaxy, 291 pages, read by Tammy, on 12/05/2014

catification Ideas from the “Cat Daddy” for making your home more cat friendly and still looking nice. Has ideas that range from expensive to stuff you can make yourself with little or no tools. Also discussed some tips on understanding your cats behavior. Also, gives examples from his tv show, My Cat from Hell.

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Cats, Inspirational, Tammy

Two Cats and the Woman They Own: or Lessons I Learned from My Cats by Patti Davis, 96 pages, read by Tammy, on 12/05/2014

two catsAuthor Patti Davis shares how she became the owner of a cat and found out how fulfilling having cats as pets can be. Though she formerly considered herself a dog person and was unprepared for the differences between cats and dogs. Soon she discovers how cats are actually in charge and the life lessons they can teach humans if only we listen.

 

Sixty-five of the world’s leading writers open up about the books and authors that have meant the most to them

Every Sunday, readers of The New York Times Book Review turn with anticipation to see which novelist, historian, short story writer, or artist will be the subject of the popular By the Book feature. These wide-ranging interviews are conducted by Pamela Paul, the editor of the Book Review, and here she brings together sixty-five of the most intriguing and fascinating exchanges, featuring personalities as varied as David Sedaris, Hilary Mantel, Michael Chabon, Khaled Hosseini, Anne Lamott, and James Patterson. The questions and answers admit us into the private worlds of these authors, as they reflect on their work habits, reading preferences, inspirations, pet peeves, and recommendations.

By the Book contains the full uncut interviews, offering a range of experiences and observations that deepens readers’ understanding of the literary sensibility and the writing process. It also features dozens of sidebars that reveal the commonalities and conflicts among the participants, underscoring those influences that are truly universal and those that remain matters of individual taste.

For the devoted reader, By the Book is a way to invite sixty-five of the most interesting guests into your world. It’s a book party not to be missed.

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

Twee: The Gentle Revolution in Music, Books, Television, Fashion and Film by Marc Spitz, 352 pages, read by Madeline, on 11/25/2014

New York Times, Spin, and Vanity Fair contributor Marc Spitz explores the first great cultural movement since Hip Hop: an old-fashioned and yet highly modern aesthetic that’s embraced internationally by teens, twenty and thirty-somethings and even some Baby Boomers; creating hybrid generation known as Twee. Via exclusive interviews and years of research, Spitz traces Generation Twee’s roots from the Post War 50s to its dominance in popular culture today.

Vampire Weekend, Garden State, Miranda July, Belle and Sebastian, Wes Anderson, Mumblecore, McSweeney’s, Morrissey, beards, artisanal pickles, food trucks, crocheted owls on Etsy, ukuleles, kittens and Zooey Deschanel—all are examples of a cultural aesthetic of calculated precocity known as Twee.

In Twee, journalist and cultural observer Marc Spitz surveys the rising Twee movement in music, art, film, fashion, food and politics and examines the cross-pollinated generation that embodies it—from aging hipsters to nerd girls, indie snobs to idealistic industrialists. Spitz outlines the history of twee—the first strong, diverse, and wildly influential youth movement since Punk in the ’70s and Hip Hop in the ’80s—showing how awkward glamour and fierce independence has become part of the zeitgeist.

Focusing on its origins and hallmarks, he charts the rise of this trend from its forefathers like Disney, Salinger, Plath, Seuss, Sendak, Blume and Jonathan Richman to its underground roots in the post-punk United Kingdom, through the late’80s and early ’90s of K Records, Whit Stillman, Nirvana, Wes Anderson, Pitchfork, This American Life, and Belle and Sebastian, to the current (and sometimes polarizing) appeal of Girls, Arcade Fire, Rookie magazine, and hellogiggles.com.

Revealing a movement defined by passionate fandom, bespoke tastes, a rebellious lack of irony or swagger, the championing of the underdog, and the vanquishing of bullies, Spitz uncovers the secrets of modern youth culture: how Twee became pervasive, why it has so many haters and where, in a post-Portlandia world, can it go from here?

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, History, Madeline, NonFiction

Celia: A Slave by Melton A. McLaurin, 192 pages, read by Madeline, on 11/20/2014

Celia was an ordinary slave–until she struck back at her abusive master and became the defendant in a landmark trial that threatened to undermine the very foundations of the South’s “Peculiar Institution.”

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Humor, Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

I Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan, 157 pages, read by Madeline, on 11/15/2014

Straight from the library–the strange and bizarre, ready to be checked out!

From a patron’s missing wetsuit to the scent of crab cakes wafting through the stacks, I Work at a Public Library showcases the oddities that have come across Gina Sheridan’s circulation desk. Throughout these pages, she catalogs her encounters with local eccentrics as well as the questions that plague her, such as, “What is the standard length of eyebrow hairs?” Whether she’s helping someone scan his face onto an online dating site or explaining why the library doesn’t have any dragon autobiographies, Sheridan’s bizarre tales prove that she’s truly seen it all.

Stacked high with hundreds of strange-but-true stories, I Work at a Public Library celebrates librarians and the unforgettable patrons that roam the stacks every day.

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Madeline, Romance, Teen Books

The Swiss Affair by Emylia Hall, 384 pages, read by Madeline, on 11/10/2014

From the highly acclaimed author of The Book of Summers comes a tale of love, lies and innocence lost.

For Hadley Dunn, life has been predictable and uneventful. But that is before she spends her second year of college abroad in Lausanne, a glamorous Swiss city on the shores of Lake Geneva. Lausanne is imbued with the boundless sense of freedom Hadley has been seeking, and it is here she meets Kristina, a beautiful but mysterious Danish girl. The two bond quickly, but as the first snows of winter arrive, tragedy strikes.

Driven by guilt and haunted by suspicion, Hadley resolves to find the truth about what really happened that night, and so begins a search that will consume her, the city she loves, and the lives of two very different men. Set against the backdrop of a uniquely captivating city, The Swiss Affair is an evocative portrayal of a journey of discovery and a compelling exploration of how our connections with people and with places, make us who we are.

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Madeline, Memoirs, NonFiction

Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado, 195 pages, read by Madeline, on 11/05/2014

We in America have certain ideas of what it means to be poor. Linda Tirado, in her signature brutally honest yet personable voice, takes all of these preconceived notions and smashes them to bits. She articulates not only what it is to be working poor in America (yes, you can be poor and live in a house and have a job, even two), but what poverty is truly like—on all levels.  Frankly and boldly, Tirado discusses openly how she went from lower-middle class, to sometimes middle class, to poor and everything in between, and in doing so reveals why “poor people don’t always behave the way middle-class America thinks they should.”

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Madeline, Memoirs, NonFiction

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward, 256 pages, read by Madeline, on 11/01/2014

“We saw the lightning and that was the guns; and then we heard the thunder and that was the big guns; and then we heard the rain falling and that was the blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped.” —Harriet Tubman

In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five young men in her life—to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: Why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth—and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Jesmyn says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own.

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Humor, Poetry, Tammy · Tags:

I Could Chew on This: And Other Poems by Dogs by Francesco Marciuliano, 110 pages, read by Tammy, on 12/04/2014

i could chew on thisA collection of poetry that express dogs devotion to their owners, their food and what makes them happy. Things like squeaky toys, naps, bones. Funny and heartfelt. For anyone who has ever loved a dog.

 

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Science Fiction, Tammy

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind by Zack Whedon, 152 pages, read by Tammy, on 12/05/2014

leaves on the windThis graphic novel picks up after the Serenity movie. I really enjoyed the story line and the artwork. I don’t want to give anything away. For all fans of Firefly!

 

 

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books

Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFevers, 444 pages, read by Courtney, on 11/25/2014

Mortal Heart concludes the amazing “His Fair Assassin” series. This time it’s Annith’s story. Annith was brought to the convent of Mortain (a pagan god of death) as a baby and has been living and training there ever since. She’s easily one of the most accomplished initiates, particularly in archery. Annith has been frustrated lately as her sisters Ismae and Sybella were sent out before her in spite of their minimal training. When a 15-year-old initiate is sent out instead of Annith, Annith begins to seriously question the abbess’s judgement. Then Annith finds out that the abbess intends to make her the next Seeress, a role that will necessarily sequester Annith in a closed room for the rest of her life, she is livid. The abbess gives her only one other option: if Annith won’t do as she’s bid, she will be forced to leave the convent for good. After a brief stint nursing the current Seeress back to health, Annith leaves the convent to track down the abbess, who is seeing to the duchess’s affairs. It’s time the abbess knew what Annith really thinks about the plans for making her Seeress. Of course, there will be more than a few surprises, revelations and adventures along the way. I’ve been loving this series from the moment I heard “assassin nuns”. Each one has centered on a different sister in the convent of St. Mortain and all three stories center around the court of Duchess Anne and their struggles to maintain Breton independence from the French. What is even cooler is that Anne was a real person and her fictional character dovetails nicely with her historical one. There are a few minor anachronisms/liberties taken with the course of historical events, but these are noted in an author’s note at the end of the book. Annith’s story was everything I had hoped it would be. She is every bit as strong, intelligent and skilled (even more so, really)as any of her predecessors, though her story is completely her own. It is, of course, fun and edifying to see Ismae and Sybella again, though through the eyes of someone else. Part of the joy of this series is how well-constructed and well-written it is. The books are long, but the pacing is swift. The voice of each character rings true and distinct. For fans of the previous two books, this is a no-brainer. For newcomers, well, they’ll be missing out on a couple of levels, but this book would even work as a stand-alone.

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Teen Books

Mortal Gods (Mortal Gods #2) by Kendare Blake, 341 pages, read by Courtney, on 11/21/2014

Mortal Gods is the second book in the Goddess Wars trilogy and, as such, picks up shortly after Antigoddess ends. At this point, the gods are not doing well. It turns out that forces more powerful than Hera and Poseidon are at work and continuing to drive the gods into their painful physical decline. Athena et al. may have won the first battle (barely), but the war is just beginning. Cassandra wants revenge on Aphrodite. Athena wants to find the other human weapon, Achilles, before Ares and Aphrodite do. What Athena and her crew don’t know yet is that Hera isn’t actually dead. In fact, she’s been healing ever since the battle. Which goes to show: never assume a mostly-immortal being is dead, even if it seems like they couldn’t possibly survive whatever befell them. Odds are good they’re still alive and plotting how they’re going to get you once they get their strength back. As the gods feel their bodies giving up on them, the reincarnated versions of Cassandra, Hercules, Odysseus and Achilles seem to be getting stronger and faster.

While I didn’t hate Mortal Gods, I didn’t really love it either. I do enjoy the characterization of the Greek gods, even though it’s really nothing new at the point. Blake’s versions feel much more true to their origins than other incarnations I’ve come across. There’s plenty of fighting and action, but now, easily a year after reading Antigoddess, I’m having trouble remembering what the whole war thing is about in the first place. I spent the first half of the book struggling to remember what happened in the first book and the second half waiting for something exciting to happen. There’s a lot of travel, speculation and training for fights throughout this installment, which is all fine and good, but I guess I felt like I needed more from this series. This is absolutely a “middle book” in the series; I doubt it would work as a stand-alone. Perhaps I’m just tired of series at this point, but it almost always feels like the second book in a series/trilogy/quartet/etc. winds up being somewhat disappointing. Time will tell if I decide to pick up the final book in this series.