27. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa

Nine Open Arms by Benny Lindelauf, read by Lisa, on 08/26/2014

An intriguing novel with a classic feel, featuring three vividly alive young sisters, an eccentric family struggling against the odds, and the slowly revealed story of a house with a past.

At the end of the world, near the border with Germany, stands a house as long as nine open arms. Half hidden behind trees and shrubs rises a wide brick wall, topped with two attic windows, each no bigger than a dishcloth. The walls have been whitewashed and the wooden floor is bare, as if the house is waiting. Waiting for someone to move in. 

It is the summer of 1937, and it hasn’t rained for seven weeks when Fing and her family of nine move into Nine Open Arms, along with their handcart of meagre belongings. ‘The Dad’ is a man who does all kinds of jobs and none of them well, while Oma Mei courageously holds everything together, including the family’s history in her Crocodile bag full of pictures and stories. But as the year progresses, the family just gets poorer.

Meanwhile, Fing and her two sisters, wild Muulke and fearful Jess, begin to discover strange mysteries…a bed that looks like a tombstone, and an unmarked grave in the cemetery.

Nine Open Arms is an exceptional imagined historical mystery – the story of a very special home, the eccentric families who have lived within it, and the unexpected ties that emerge between the two..

27. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

Sea-Cat and Dragon King by Angela Carter, Eva Tatcheva (Illustrator), read by Lisa, on 08/13/2014

This is a magical story of the love between mother and child and the gifts of kindness and understanding. Dragon King and Sea-Cat both live under the sea. Sea-Cat lives with his mother who sews him fabulous jewel-encrusted suits that shimmer and capture the attention of all who see him. Dragon King, the ruler, lives a sad and lonely life as he is so ashamed of his ugliness. When he sees Sea-Cat in his beautiful suit, he is overcome with jealousy and wants the suit for himself. But Sea-Cat is clever and kind and befriends Dragon King. Sea-Cat knows his mother can turn the Dragon King’s ruby tears into a most dazzling suit, just for him! 

Where’d You Go, Bernadette meets Beautiful Ruins in this reverse love story set in Paris and London about a failed monogamist’s attempts to answer the question: Is it really possible to fall back in love?

Despite the success of his first solo show in Paris and the support of his brilliant French wife and young daughter, thirty-four-year-old British artist Richard Haddon is too busy mourning the loss of his American mistress to a famous cutlery designer to appreciate his fortune.

But after Richard discovers that a painting he originally made for his wife, Anne -when they were first married and deeply in love-has sold, it shocks him back to reality and he resolves to reinvest wholeheartedly in his family life . . . just in time for his wife to learn the extent of his affair. Rudderless and remorseful, Richard embarks on a series of misguided attempts to win Anne back while focusing his creative energy on a provocative art piece to prove that he’s still the man she once loved.

Skillfully balancing biting wit with a deep emotional undercurrent, debut novelist Courtney Maum has created the perfect portrait of an imperfect family-and a heartfelt exploration of marriage, love, and fidelity.

27. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier, read by Lisa, on 08/15/2014

This much-anticipated follow-up to Jonathan Auxier’s exceptional debut,Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, is a Victorian ghost story with shades of Washington Irving and Henry James. More than just a spooky tale, it’s also a moral fable about human greed and the power of storytelling.

The Night Gardener follows two abandoned Irish siblings who travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. With Auxier’s exquisite command of language, The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making.

27. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Biographies, Lisa, NonFiction

Papa: An Intimate Biography of Mark Twain by Susy Clemens, read by Lisa, on 08/08/2014

Olivia Susan Clemens, known as Susy Clemens was the eldest daughter and second child of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) and his wife Olivia Langdon Clemens. Susie is said to have inspired some of the character traits for Joan of Arc, in her father’s historical novel: Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc. 

At the age of thirteen, Susy Clemens began work on a biography of her famous father, Samuel Clemens who wrote under the pen name, Mark Twain. Susie’s brief biography of Twain was eventually published as Papa: An Intimate Biography of Mark Twain in 1988. The book includes a brief recollection of young Susie meeting a dying Ulysses S. Grant as the former Civil War General and United States President worked on his personal memoirs for Twain’s publishing house. Twain included some passages from his daughter’s biographical sketch of him into his own autobiography. 

27. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Lisa

Revenge of the Flower Girls by Jennifer Ziegler, read by Lisa, on 08/01/2014

In this middle-grade Bridesmaids, hilarity ensues as triplets have to stop a wedding!

One bride. Two boys. Three flower girls who won’t forever hold their peace. What could go wrong with this wedding? Everything!

The Brewster triplets, Dawn, Darby, and Delaney, would usually spend their summer eating ice cream, playing with their dog, and reading about the US Presidents. But this year they’re stuck planning their big sister Lily’s wedding. Lily used to date Alex, who was fun and nice and played trivia games with the triplets, and no one’s quite sure why they broke up. Burton, Lily’s groom-to-be, is not nice or fun, and he looks like an armadillo.

The triplets can’t stand to see Lily marry someone who’s completely wrong for her, so it’s up to them to stop the wedding before anyone says “I do!” The flower girls will stop at nothing to delay Lily’s big day, but will sprinklers, a photo slideshow, a muddy dog, and some unexpected allies be enough to prevent their big sister – and the whole Brewster family – from living unhappily ever after?

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

Fire & Ash by Jonathan Maberry, read by Angie, on 08/26/2014

I am not sure why it took me so long to get around to reading this final book in Jonathan Maberry’s Rot & Ruin series. I love this series and I loved this book. It was the perfect ending to the series. 

Benny and the gang have made it across the desert and to the safe haven of Sanctuary. Of course nothing is quite what it seems. The military staff at Sanctuary is very secretive and won’t tell them anything about what is happening. The Reapers led by Saint John are still out there and headed to the Nine Towns. Chong was bitten in the last book and is becoming more and more like a zombie. This is the first time Benny, Nix, Lilah and Riot have a chance to take a moment and take stock of themselves and what they have discovered in the Rot & Ruin. They are not the same people they were when they started this trip to find the mysterious plane. They thought they would find all the answers and all they found were more questions. There is also the case of the missing Dr. McReady. She was supposed to be on the plane they found in the desert and she supposedly has a cure for the reaper plague. The teens set off with Captain Joe Ledger to find her and the cure and bring an end to the zombie nightmare. 

What I love about this series is the fact that even though it is about zombies it really isn’t about zombies. It is about the inhumanity of man and how without society’s strictures man becomes the monster. Zombies are just mindless disease carriers. They have no thought or rationale, but man chooses to do evil or good. This theme is more explicitly stated in this book than in some of the others, but it is an important theme. Benny has to find the person who can fight and win against Saint John. He has to do decide if doing what has to be done to win will make him cross that line in becoming a monster himself. In some ways this book is about redemption; the redemption of Benny, Chong, Nix, Lilah, Riot and even Joe and the redemption of mankind. Is mankind worthy of saving? Or should they allow everyone to be released to the darkness. I really loved how this series ended; it was perfect and felt natural. Humanity is worth saving and there is hope in the world.

indexindex2Estes guides you in how to interpret your dreams.  First she gives you guidance in remembering your dreams, including writing them down, having a tape recorder near your bed, and vowing to remember your dreams.  She discounts, using standard dream dictionaries to interpret symbols.  She advises paying attention to the nouns in your dreams, and then looking for synonyms to figure out what they might represent. Often, I find there is a major difference in the tone or feeling of my dream, compared to what actually happens in my dreams.  Sometimes, there are really yucky feelings, without anything ominous actually happening.  So I wasn’t sure the noun approach would really work for me.

She also covers specific dream narratives that lots of people experience, like flying dreams, or waking up late for a test, of finding yourself without your clothes.  The one recurring dream that I have that she didn’t cover is the one where I am choosing my bed in a dorm room, or some variant thereof.

I tried her methods and got some advice from my subconscious that I’ve ignored, that I know I should take care of, but don’t really want to.  So much for amplifying my subconscious.

butterfly-dreams goddess3 images4indexpI have really enjoyed this authors work and will continue to keep an eye out for her.

26. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Graphic Novel · Tags:

Signal to Noise by Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean (Illustrator), read by Angie, on 08/25/2014

A filmmaker is dying. He is retreating from everyday life as he gets worse. He is also working on a film he never believes to see made. It is the end of the world; the last day of the last month of the millennium; 999 AD. This book explores the noise of the world and what it means in our lives. It is an interesting concept and book. The noise between the chapters seems like just a jumble of words but does seem to represent the noise of the world that can distract us from what is important.

26. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Graphic Novel · Tags:

The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch by Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean (Illustrator), read by Angie, on 08/25/2014

A little boy recalls a time when he stayed with his grandparents. His grandpa owned an arcade and a strange Punch and Judy man came to the arcade to put on a show. It is a strangely beautiful story told from the perspective of a boy who doesn’t necessarily know what all is going on. The illustrations are compelling and interesting.

25. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Mystery, Steam-punk, Tracy · Tags:

Grandville Bête Noire by Bryan Talbot, read by Tracy, on 08/24/2014

The baffling murder of a famed Parisian artist in his locked and guarded studio takes the tenacious Detective Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard and his faithful adjunct, Detective Sargent Ratzi, into the cut-throat Grandville art scene to track the mysterious assassin. As the body count mounts and events spiral out of control, the investigation points to Toad Hall, where a cabal of industrialists and fat cats plot the overthrow of the French State . . . by use of steam-driven automaton soldiers A Victorian anthropomorphic thriller, Grandville Bete Noire signals the welcome return of master storyteller and graphic-novel pioneer Bryan Talbot to his Eisner and Hugo award nominated steampunk detective series.

25. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Mystery, Steam-punk, Tracy · Tags:

Grandville Mon Amour by Bryan Talbot, read by Tracy, on 08/23/2014

Convicted psychotic killer and extremist fanatic Edward “Mad Dog” Mastock violently escapes the guillotine’s blade in the Tower of London to once again terrorize the Socialist Republic of Britain. But dogging Mastock’s bloody footsteps is his longtime adversary and nemesis, Detective Inspector Archie LeBrock, at odds with Scotland Yard and intent on bringing Mastock’s horrific murder spree to an end, once and for all. Aided by his friend and colleague Detective Roderick Ratzi, LeBrock follows the trail of carnage to Paris, otherwise known as Grandville, the largest city in a world dominated by the French Empire that is the prime target of Mastock’s sadistic terrorism. Can LeBrock capture the Mad Dog before he can mete out his final vengeance, or will LeBrock’s own quest for redemption be dragged to ground by the demons of his past?

25. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Mystery, Steam-punk, Tracy · Tags:

Grandville by Bryan Talbot, read by Tracy, on 08/22/2014

Two hundred years ago, Britain lost the Napoleonic War and fell under the thumb of French domination. Gaining independence after decades of civil disobedience and anarchist bombings, the Socialist Republic of Britain is now a small, unimportant backwater connected by a railway bridge, steam-powered dirigible, and mutual suspicion to France. When a British diplomat’s murder is made to look like suicide, ferocious Detective Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard stalks a ruthless murder squad through the heart of a Belle Epoque Paris, the center of the greatest empire in a world of steam-driven hansom cabs, automatons, and flying machines. LeBrock’s relentless quest can lead only to death, truth… or war.

25. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Short Stories, Tracy

Small Plates by Katherine Hall Page, read by Tracy, on 08/15/2014

Agatha Award winner Katherine Hall Page presents a book of short stories featuring her famed heroine Faith Fairchild.

For years, Katherine Hall Page has delighted readers with her Faith Fairchild series, each book like a delicious, satisfying meal. Now, Page has whipped up a tasty collection of appetizing bites.

In “The Body in the Dunes,” Faith’s vacation offers more excitement than she and her husband bargained for when a terrified woman knocks on their hotel room door looking to hide from her husband. A case hits close to home in “The Proof is Always in the Pudding,” when Faith investigates a generations-old superstition that has been passed down in her husband’s family. Faith and her sister, Hope, counsel a bride-to-be suffering a number of alarming “accidents” before the big day in “Across the Pond.” In “Sliced,” Faith switches from contestant to detective when a killer reality television cooking competition turns deadly.

Small Plates also includes some irresistible standalone treats, including the Agatha Award–winning “The Would-Be Widower,” about a husband who longs to be rid of his wife, and “Hiding Places” in which a young wife’s new husband may not be all that he appears.

These stories and more will entice Faith Fairchild fans and new readers alike. Filled with the charm, wit, and the appeal of her beloved novels,Small Plates is a feast for every lover of traditional mysteries.

25. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

The Christie Curse by Victoria Abbott, read by Tracy, on 08/08/2014

In 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared—making headlines across the world—only to show up eleven days later at a spa under an assumed name. During those eleven days, did she have time to write a play?

Jordan Kelly needs a new job and a new place to live. She’s back in Harrison Falls, New York, living with her not so law-abiding uncles, in debt thanks to a credit card–stealing ex and pending grad school loans.

Enter the perfect job, a research position that includes room and board, which will allow her to spend her days hunting down rare mysteries for an avid book collector. There’s just one problem: her employer, Vera Van Alst—the most hated citizen of Harrison Falls. 

Jordan’s first assignment is to track down a rumored Agatha Christie play. It seems easy enough, but Jordan soon finds out that her predecessor was killed while looking for it, and there is still someone out there willing to murder to keep the play out of Vera’s hands. Jordan’s new job is good…but is it worth her life? 

25. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Tracy

Ancient Highway by Bret Lott, read by Tracy, on 08/01/2014

From the bestselling author of Jewel and The Difference Between Women and Men comes a haunting novel of home, family, and the pursuit of lost dreams. Ancient Highway brilliantly weaves together the hopes and regrets of three characters from three generations as they reconcile who they are and who they might have been.

In 1925, a fourteen-year-old boy leaves his family’s farm and hops a boxcar in a dusty Texas field, heading for Hollywood and a life in the “flickers.”
In 1947, a ten-year-old girl aches for a real home with a real family in a wide-open space, far from the crowded Los Angeles streets where her handsome cowboy father chases stardom and her mother holds a secret.
In 1980, a young man just out of the Navy visits his elderly yet colorful grandparents in Los Angeles, eager to uncover his family’s silent history.

For the Holmeses, a longing for something else–another place, a second chance–seems to run in the family DNA. From Earl’s journey west toward Hollywood glory, to his daughter Joan’s wish for a normal existence away from the bright lights, to his grandson Brad’s yearning for truth, this deep-rooted desire sustains them, no matter how much the goal eludes them. But ultimately, in each generation, a family crisis forces a turning away from the horizon and the acceptance of a reality that is by turns harsh and healing.

Inspired by stories of his own family, Bret Lott beautifully renders the lives of ordinary people with extraordinary faith in a mesmerizing and finely wrought tale of love and letting go.

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

Die for Me by Cynthia Eden, read by Kim, on 08/24/2014

Katherine Cole thought her fiance was the perfect man until he turned out to be the perfect killer. He left his victims stabbed through the heart holding a telltale single red rose and was deemed the Valentine Killer. Three years ago he vanished. Now he’s back. And he’s hunting the one who got away. In New Orleans, Katherine dared to hope she was finally safe, yet somehow he found her. This time, Katherine won’t just sit silently by; she’ll do anything to stop the monster she once loved, even trust the sexy cop promising to keep her safe? Detective Dane Black never lets his emotions interfere with the job, even as the Valentine Killer surfaces in New Orleans to stalk his prey. But when Dane agrees to protect the killer’s ex-fiance, he can’t ignore the passion kindling between them. After a single unforgettable night binds them body and soul, Dane won’t rest until Katherine is safe in his arms and the Valentine Killer is dead.

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

After the Night by Linda Howard, read by Melody, on 08/24/2014

FAITH DEVLIN: A poor, outcast child in Prescott, Louisiana, she’d always adored the town’s golden boy from afar. But he called her white trash that sultry Southern night when his rich, respected father disappeared, along with her pretty Mom. Now Faith wanted to hate Gray Rouillard…not to feel a powerful surge of desire. But she couldn’t quench her passion, any more than she could hide the truth about the past she had waited so long to unravel. 
GRAY ROUILLARD: Even when he raised hell, he did it with style. Reckless, charming, and backed by Rouillard money, Gray controlled the town of Prescott — and Devlin was a name he never wanted to hear again. But when he gazed at Faith Devlin, all he saw was a swirl of tangled sheets and her silken flesh beneath him. To care for her was impossible, unthinkable…because Gray Rouillard planned to use all his power to ruin her.

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

A lot like Love by Julie James, read by Melody, on 08/23/2014

The FBI wants her cooperation…

As the daughter of a billionaire and the owner of the city’s top wine store, Jordan Rhodes is invited to the most exclusive parties in Chicago. But there’s only one party the FBI wants to crash: the charity fundraiser of a famous restaurateur, who also happens to launder money for the mob. In exchange for her brother’s release from prison, Jordan is going to be there—with a date supplied by the Bureau.

Agent McCall just wants her…

As the top undercover agent in Chicago, Nick McCall has one rule: never get personal. This “date” with Jordan Rhodes is merely an assignment—one they’re both determined to pull off even if they can’t be together for five minutes before the sarcasm and sparks begin to fly. But when Nick’s investigation is compromised, he and Jordan have no choice but to pretend they’re a couple, and what starts out as a simple assignment begins to feel a lot like something more.

25. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black , read by Angie, on 08/24/2014

Tana wakes up the morning after a party hungover in a quiet house. She discovers a house full of corpses, all murdered by vampires apparently. In her desperate dash to leave the house she stumbles upon her ex-boyfriend Aiden tied to a bed and a chained up vampire. Aiden has obviously been bitten and is going Cold (first stage to becoming a vampire). Tana frees both of them and they all three escape the other vampires in the house. The group decides to head to the nearest Coldtown. Coldtowns were set up after the vampire outbreak 10 years ago. They are basically parts of cities, or whole cities, where the vampire outbreak ran out of control. Officials walled off the infected and the non-infected alike and made sure no one could leave. Tana, Aiden and Gavriel pick up a brother/sister pair who are also headed to Coldtown. They make their way in and chaos ensues. Tana is just trying to survive, but things don’t always work out how you want them to. 

I thought this was an interesting take on a vampire book. I like the fact that it is set in our world and that the actions of one rogue vampire changed the face of society. Vampires were hidden for centuries until this one started a feeding without killing spree across the U.S. Tana is kind of stupid during the book. She is in shock for the first half and just flying by the seat of her pants in the second. Not sure she ever really had a decent plan as she just kept heading into danger. I thought the most interesting aspect of the story was Gavriel and the revelations from his past. I liked the flashbacks of both Gavriel and Tana but did feel like they sometimes pulled the reader away from the main story at the wrong times. This was a fun book and a nice change of pace from some of the other vampire books out there.