06. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Classics, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Short Stories, Tammy · Tags:

Shen of the Sea: Chinese Stories for Children by Arthur Bowie Chrisman, read by Tammy, on 05/29/2013

This collection of Chinese folktales made for a fun read. You can almost hear the voice of the storyteller telling the stories around a campfire or more appropriately a father or mother telling their children’s these fables and tales at bedtime that their own parent told them. The stories cover a wide range of characters from peasants to princesses and kings. There are some morality tales as well with the man character being someone who is not too bright or who is lazy or stubborn. Some of the tales are similar to the fairytales including some dragons making an appearance.

Winner of the Newbery Award Winner 1926.shen

06. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Classics, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Tammy · Tags: , ,

The Dark Frigate by Charles Boardman Hawes, read by Tammy, on 05/19/2013

This tale of adventure on the high seas is a rousing tale for teens. Set in 17th century England our young hero, orphan Philip Marsham must flee London in fear for his life. His father was a sailor so he decides to head to the sea. He signs on the “Rose of Devon” a dark frigate bound for Newfoundland. The story does take some time to get “underway” and into the action as we follow Philip on his walk to the sea, but he does meet some of his fellow shipmates along the way. Once aboard ship the story picks up. If the reader is unfamiliar with nautical terms he may need to look up some of the words to really be able to picture what is happening on the ship.

Philip soon wins his captain’s regard and is enjoying his new life when the ship is seized by buccaneers. With the bloody battles, murderous pirates and our brave hero this is a story for any reader in search of seafaring adventure.

Newbery Award Winner in the 3rd year of the award’s history in 1924.dark frigate

06. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Classics, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Tammy · Tags:

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis, read by Tammy, on 05/31/2013

Thirteen year-old Young Fu and his mother must move away from their farm in central China after his father dies and move to the city of Chungking (now spelled Chongqing. Young Fu and his mother have never been to the city before. While he is full of excitement and looking for adventure she is afraid of all the strange customs of the city and the foreigners who live there. Young Fu is apprenticed to Tang, a master coppersmith. The book is set in the 1920s a turbulent time for China it is after the fall of the Imperial government and factions are vying for power.

Chinese traditions are introduced to the reader through the eyes of Young Fu including crooked streets to catch and confuse evil spirits, payment of debt on New Year’s Day, the debate over whether a priest should be called or a doctor for a sick family member. The reader travels with Young Fu as he grows up and goes from apprentice to journeyman, or an experience craftsman. The book is told by stories of events that happen to Young Fu and usually there is some new experience or knowledge that he gains though sometimes it is by making costly mistakes.

Overall an enjoyable look at a troubled time in China’s history and the lessons one needs to learn as they grow from boy to man which won the Newbery Award for children’s literature in 1933. young fu

25. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Tammy · Tags:

Tricked (Iron Druid Chronicles # 4) by Kevin Hearne, read by Tammy, on 05/05/2013

Book 4 of the Iron Druid series with lots of Oberon! Atticus and Granuile fake their deaths so he can escape from the angry Norse gods and have 12 undisturbed years to train Granuile to be a druid. But first he has to payback Coyote, the Navajo trickster god, for his help in faking Atticus’ death and Coyote always has a way to trick you into doing more than you realized you were signing up for. And Leif shows up to complicate matters even more.tricked

23. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Mystery, Tammy

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, read by Tammy, on 05/20/2013

Gillian Flynn’s wildly popular novel does pull the reader right into the psychological mystery of the disappearance of Amy Dunne on her 5th wedding anniversary. Did Amy runaway? Did her husband, Nick, kill her? Did one of her stalkers kidnap or kill her? As the inspiration of a wildly successful children series, Amazing Amy, Amy has had a number of stalkers during childhood and adulthood or has she? Switching narrators between Amy’s diary and Nick’s thoughts and conversations with the police, his in-laws and his twin sister, Margo, the reader is led on a series of events that slowly unwind into a tangled, twisted web. Nick is definitely not husband of the year material either. Pushed by Amy’s doting parents and her best friend, that Nick didn’t even know Amy had, the police follow the winding trail of clues back to Nick. But is he the real killer? And if he didn’t kill her, where is Amy?
gone girl
Though the writing is quick and clever and the mystery definitely sustains your interest some of the author’s details are out of whack. There really is a town of Carthage, Missouri, but it is on the opposite side of the state from St. Louis and it is not a river town. The Mississippi River features prominently in the story as do St. Louis and Hannibal and their proximity to “Carthage” is important in the plot. The Ozarks are described as flat land, while the region is well known for it’s hills and valleys. If you enjoy details of the setting of a story and know this and also know that the author is from Missouri, which I did, these repeated inconsistencies are grating. Also, the authors description of people who live in the Midwest is far from complimentary. Most of these descriptions do come from Amy, who loves her previous life in New York City and did not want to move to Missouri, but even general descriptions aren’t kind. As a well-educated and life-long resident of Missouri, who does not consider herself in any way a “hick” this grew very tiresome too.

For me the conclusion was also very unsatisfying. I didn’t guess what was going to happen, which is usually a plus for me. The more mysteries I read the harder it is for an author to surprise me, but what does happen was so upsetting to me that it totally ruined the surprise factor for me.

23. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Classics, Fiction, Tammy · Tags:

Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright, read by Tammy, on 05/19/2013

Thimble SummerNewbery Winner 1939

A few hours after nine-year-old Garnet Linden finds a silver thimble in the dried-up riverbed, on her family’s Wisconsin farm, the rains come and end the long drought on the farm. The rains bring safety for the crops and the livestock and money for Garnet’s father. Garnet’s good luck continues throughout the summer and she’s convinced its because of her lucky thimble. Though not a long book, it is easy for the reader to picture Garnet’s family farm, their small town and the close-knit farming community. Garnet clearly loves the farm, but her older brother is determined to never be a farmer as he watches their father struggle to pay the bills. He realizes the famiy income is based on the weather and things beyond his control no matter how hard dad works. But through the eyes of a stranger and Garnet he also grows to appreciate the benefits of farm life.

16. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Tammy · Tags: ,

The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman, read by Tammy, on 05/12/2013

This Newbery Award winning children’s story follows the life of an orphan girl, who can’t even remember having a real name, let alone a real home. She is taken in by a medieval village midwife but not out of kindness. The midwife wants an assistant who will do all the chores and be thankful for a roof over her head and a few scraps of bread. But by the end of the story our young woman has found a name and made a place for herself in the world. An interesting look at a part of historymidwife rarely covered in children’s literature.

06. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Horror, Tammy, Teen Books, Thriller/Suspense · Tags:

Bitter Blood by Rachel Caine, read by Tammy, on 05/06/2013

bitter blood Book 13 in the Morganville series and Rachel Caine is back on her game. After a couple of books in the series seeming to drag, this one flew by and had several surprises and concentrates on Claire and her relationships and her feelings of growing up.

02. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Tammy

Trapped: Iron Druid Chronicles # 5 by Kevin Hearne , read by Tammy, on 04/09/2013

trappedThe further adventures of druid, Atticus O’Sullivan, his apprentice Granuaile and faithful wolfhound, Oberon. For twelve years Atticus has been training Granuaile and the world believes he has died. Now that he has to come out into the open to bind Granuaile to the earth and complete her training as a druid a whole host of supernatural beings are upset that he’s still alive.

02. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Mystery, Poetry, Tammy

Who Killed Mr. Chippendale by Mel Glenn, read by Tammy, on 04/13/2013

who killed mrA collection of poems that start with the thoughts of our murder victim, high school teacher, Mr. Chippendale, right before his untimely demise. Each poem that follows is the thoughts or police interview with students, teachers, neighbors and the police detectives themselves. The finale poem reveals who the murderer is with clues along the way in the poems to point you in that direction.

02. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Poetry, Tammy

Songs of a Sun Lover by Robert Service, read by Tammy, on 04/30/2013

A collection of poems from Robert Service who is best known for his poems set in the Yukon such as “The Shooting of Dan McGrew” and “The Cremation of Sam McGee”. Most of the poems in this collection are set around his home in Ireland and with everyday experiences and people. They still tell a clear story and he pulls you into the lives of the poems’ narrators.

01. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: History, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: ,

The Real Life Downton Abbey by Jacky Hyams, read by Tammy, on 04/15/2013

real life downtonThis was a fun, informative book. Great for all Downton Abbey fans. It is written by a British author so occasionally a British term or two. Each chapter covers a different section of life in a wealthy home usually starting with how the lord and lady and their family were expected to behave then the upper servants down to the lowly kitchen maid, poor Daisy.

01. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Tammy · Tags:

Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick, read by Tammy, on 04/21/2013

Meet Pat. He believes in “silver linings”. That everything in life will turn out all silver liningsright and have it’s silver lining. This is a moving story of two people emotionally damaged by their early choices in life and the loss of someone close to them. This novel tells how they deal with loss and betrayal, how it affects their friends and family and finally how they are able to move on.

upstairs & downstairsThis illustrated book takes you on a guided tour of a single day in an wealthy English home of the Edwardian era. Starting with the servants hard at work while the family is still asleep in their beds, and ending with a lavish dinner party, this book includes accounts from actual masters and servants. It also contains feature pages on famous figures like Winston Churchill and Virginia Woolf and their comments about their home life and their servants.

01. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Tammy, Teen Books

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, read by Tammy, on 04/20/2013

This was an amazing novel. A young Scottish woman volunteers to be a spy for Britian in France during WWII and is captured by the Germans. Her captors break her and she shares information about British defenses and her training but really it’s the story of her best friend, female pilot, Maddie. A well-written wonderful story of friendship and bravery that shares parts of British, French and German history durcode name veritying WWII.

03. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Tammy, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay by Beverly Jensen, read by Tammy, on 03/30/2013

This story of two sisters growing up in the harsh environment of a Canadian fishing/farming town started out well. You meet Idella and Avis in 1916 as children surrounded by their close knit fishing community, mom, dad and an older mother. Their older brother is always distant and prefers being out on the boat to helping around the farm and dad’s mood depends on how much he’s been drinking leaving mom to be the center of their world. Shortly into the book she dies in childbirth and now young Idella must step-up and take over the household duties and raising her caring but wild younger sister. After several missteps with hiring girls in their teens to help raise the girls and take care of the household chores dad sends the girls off to live with their aunt and uncle on a farm in Maine. Both girls love going to school and are amazed at how deep dark and rich the earth of their aunt’s farm is compared to the dust brown, dry, rocky dirt of home.

But then their dad is injured in a hunting accident and the girls must return home to take care of him and “the place.” Their brother leaves the house as soon as the girls arrive, not able to stand their father’s moods any longer. Still by this time I was invested in the characters and wanted to see how Idella and Avis managed.

Then it felt like the author didn’t know how to continue the story and decides to jump ahead to when the girls are adults and living in America. Idella and Avis continue to make one poor decision after another especially with men. Then the book switches into each character telling their memories of life as an adult and Idella’s children and husband sharing memories of what it was like to live with her.

I discovered after reading the book that it is a compilation of short stories about the same family written by the author who died unpublished at the age of 49. This explains so much! The first part of the book was published as “Gone” and the chapters dealing with Idella and Avis returning home to bury their father was published as “Wake.” The beginning was the best part of the book I thought and I wonder what the author could have accomplished if she’d live to weave all her stories into one cohesive novel.

28. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Tammy · Tags:

The Truth (Discworld #25) by Terry Pratchett, read by Tammy, on 03/23/2013

truthThe Truth tells how Anhk-Morpork’s first newspaper got it’s start and how the second son of a wealthy family found his own way while he wrestles with what IS truth and why does it matter. William de Worde is an ethical writer and publisher who stumbles onto a group of dwarves and their new purchase from their hometown, a printing press. His once a month newsletter to the uppercrust soon becomes a daily newspaper angering the engraver’s guild and sparking rival publications including the Inquirer which cares more about selling papers and putting the de Worde’s Times out of business that bothering about the truth. But William has an inside informant about the charges of attempted murder against city leader Vetinari and soon hires a whole staff to run the newspaper including lots of dwarves, a troll, a zombie and my favorite vampire from Discworld, Otto von Chriek a photographer who has to watch how strong a flash he uses or the light evaporates him.

28. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: History, NonFiction, Tammy, Travel · Tags: , ,

50 Years of Making Memories: Silver Dollar City 1960-2010 by Jan Peterson, read by Tammy, on 03/10/2013

This is mainly a photo collection of the history of theme park, Silver Dollar City and Marvel Cave starting with the cave’s discovery. The photos also feature the theme park’s festivals, craftsman and visitors having fun in the park. It was a fun read for me, since I first went to Silver Dollar City as a sophomore in high school with my aunt and uncle, then when in college Branson was only an hour away so it was a great get-away spot for a day of fun with friends. So, the area holds lots of good memories for me.

 

27. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tammy

Who Could that be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket , read by Tammy, on 03/07/2013

Book 1 of the new children’s series, All the Wrong Questions, by Lemony Snicket. The main character is a young Lemony Snicket relating his adventures. Instead of heading off to a boarding school Lemony has found himself an apprenticeship with an unusual secret organization. He thinks his first adventure will be assisting a friend of his but instead he is sent to an isolated town separated from everyone else by an inland sea that is now dry. He starts by asking questions that shouldn’t have even been on his mind. Will he think of the right questions in time to find the real answers?

who could that be

14. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Tammy · Tags: ,

Sula by Toni Morrison, read by Tammy, on 02/10/2013

This is a wonderfully written tale of not only the life of Sula but also the lives of many of her neighbors in her hometown, Medallion, Ohio. The story brings up differences in how the blacks living in “The Bottoms” live and the white folks in town live; and not just about their jobs, or status, but in how they approach life and conflict and difficulties. It’s a fast read with real to life characters. Unfortunately for me, I chose this book, because a friend was named after the main character so I wanted to see what in the character inspired her mother to name her daughter, Sula. Going into the book with this viewpoint was a mistake. The character of Sula is a strong, independent soul from childhood on but as she grows older she becomes disconnected with other people and becomes mean. She does not enjoy being mean or causing others pain she just doesn’t seem to care one way or the other. I think I would have enjoyed this book more had I approached it like any other title.