15. December 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books · Tags:

Lirael by Garth Nix, 487 pages, read by Kira, on 12/10/2014

index    lirael 2This is the 2nd book in the Sabriel trilogy.  It picks up 14 years after Sabriel killed Kerigor and takes the viewpoints of Sabriel’s son, Prince Sameth, the Abhorsen-in-waiting, and of Lirael a daugher of the Clayr who are able to see into the future.  We meet Lirael at age 14 long after most Clayr have obtained the “Sight”, who has given up hope that she will ever become a ‘normal’ Farseer, like the rest of her community.  Lirael eventually becomes a librarian (and what a kick-butt occupation this is in this world), and has adventurous encounters in the library with her newly acquired magical companion “the Disreputable Dog”.  At the same time Prince Sameth tries to study the Book of the Dead in order to master the bells, to help his mother and eventually to become the Abhorsen.  However, he experiences panic attacks when he tries to interact with the book.  Eventually the 2 characters 3e091473a6324c21a9932889449091b6cross paths.  Their interactions are delightful.  Some of the index2surprises were easy to foresee, but I found this a very enjoyable read.  Beware,it ends 91GqNS1Oc2L._SL1500_on a cliffhanger.

rock breaks rock-paper-scissors-lizard-spock-stein-schere-papier-eidechse-echse-the-big-bang-theory RANTBLEimages outguessing machine Even when people try to be unpredictable, they usually fall into patterns.  William Poundstone shows readers how to make the best odds for yourself, whether this be a game of rock/paper/scissors, gambling, fixing the books, or investing in the stock market.  Poundstone writes in an engaging and accessible style.

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

In a heartbeat by Rita Herron, 378 pages, read by Kim, on 12/14/2014

With that brief, terrifying phone call, Lisa Langley’s nightmare began again. Four years ago she was the sole survivor of the Grave Digger, a madman who buried his victims alive. Now a copycat killer is on the loose and she’s the only chance Special Agent Brad Booker has of stopping this twisted psycho before more women — including Lisa — die.

Hard-edged and always in control, Booker has never forgiven himself for failing to save Lisa from falling victim to the first Grave Digger. Whatever it takes, this time he’s not going to let her down. Because almost losing Lisa is not something he can live through twice.

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

Cold light of day by Toni Anderson, 340 pages, read by Melody, on 12/14/2014

Physicist Scarlett Stone is the daughter of the man considered to be the most notorious Russian agent in FBI history. With her father dying in prison she’s determined to prove he’s innocent, but time is running out. Using a false identity, she gains access to the Russian ambassador’s Christmas party, searching for evidence of a set-up.

Former Navy SEAL, now FBI Special Agent, Matt Lazlo, is instantly attracted to Scarlett but life is too complicated to pursue a politician’s daughter. When he discovers she lied to him about her identity, he hunts her down with the ruthless efficiency he usually reserves for serial killers.

Not only does Scarlett’s scheme fail, it puts her in the sights of powerful people who reward unwanted curiosity with brutality. The FBI—and Matt—aren’t thrilled with her, either. But as agents involved in her father’s investigation start dying, and the attempts to stop Scarlett intensify, Matt and his colleagues begin to wonder. Could they have a traitor in their midst?

As Scarlett and Matt dig for the truth they begin to fall passionately for one another. But the real spy isn’t about to let anyone uncover their secrets, and resolves to remain firmly in the shadows—and for that to happen, Matt and Scarlett have to die.

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

A breath away by Rita Herron, 376 pages, read by Melody, on 12/13/2014

Ever since Violet Baker’s childhood companion was brutally murdered, she’s been plagued with visions of the girl’s last hours. Now, on the twentieth anniversary of Darlene’s death, Violet’s father is found dead, a note beside him confessing to the murder. But something doesn’t feelright, and Violet returns to Crow’s Landing looking for answers.

Facing the judgmental town as a murderer’s daughter is difficult enough, but with the scalding tension between her and Sheriff Grady Monroe, Darlene’s half brother, is worse. As the two of them race to unravel the mystery, it quickly becomes clear that Violet is in grave danger…and Grady suddenly knows that he’ll do anything to protect her, no matter what the cost.

15. December 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers, 444 pages, read by Angie, on 12/14/2014

Mortal Heart is the conclusion to one of my favorite trilogies. I am not sure you can go wrong with a series about medieval assassin nuns. This is Annith’s story. We have seen Annith get left behind each time one of her sisters has gone out on a mission. Now she wants to know why. Annith is the most skilled of all the initiates of Mortain. When a young, unskilled sister is sent out in her stead Annith rebels and confronts the Abbess. She learns she is meant to be the order’s seer and locked in the convent for the rest of her life. Annith wants none of that and sets out on her own to find answers. Along the way she rides with the Hellequin (Death’s riders) and the followers of St. Arduinna. She joins her sisters Sybella and Ismae in the service of the Duchess of Brittany. She discovers the truth of her origins, why she was held back at the convent and true love on her journey.

Annith is a fantastic character. She is strong and righteous and a true believer in the old gods. It is her faith that plays the biggest part in this book as she comes face to face with the old gods and learns what her role is. I love how this series ties actual historical events into the story. Duchess Anne really was besieged by the French and on the brink of losing her country. I thought the fantasy elements really worked with this story. I loved the Hellequin, which seemed like a wonderful mix of a biker gang and an old west posse. I wasn’t sure how the whole romance thing was going to turn out but I loved how it did. My only complaint about the book was the loose ends. I wanted everything tied up by the last page and it wasn’t. We never found out what really happened to Matelaine for instance. Those are just small quibbles though as this was a wonderful end to the series. I do hope the author returns to this world in future books as she really made this time period come alive and I want to know more.

15. December 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Teen Books

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, 227 pages, read by Angie, on 12/14/2014

So I’m not exactly sure how I feel about this book. I found the story itself intriguing, but there were aspects of it that were kind of annoying. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t truly hate it either. We Were Liars is the story of four cousins who spend their summers on a the family’s private island. So yes they are the rich elite of the East Coast. Grandma and Grandpa Sinclair have built houses on the island for all their pretty daughters and grandchildren. But of course the daughters are not happy with their lots in life basically because they are selfish, self-centered and living off daddy’s money. Their children aren’t as bad yet but you can see the potential. For of the kids are all the same age: Cadence (the oldest), Johnny (the first boy), Mirren and Gat (the sort of Indian step-cousin). Cadence and Gat fall in love the summer they are 15, but something happens that summer. Something no one will talk about to Cadence. All she knows is that she woke up on the beach with some kind of head trauma and now suffers from amnesia and migraines. She heads back to the island two years later and tries to figure out what happened and what no one is telling her.

So that all sounds intriguing and it is. However, you are told from the beginning that there is some kind of twist; the book was marketed that way so of course you know there is some kind of twist. I figured out the twist early on but not the how or the why of it. The truly annoying thing about the book was Cadence herself. She is our narrator and a very unreliable one. She is also prone to being overly dramatic and imaginative. The first time she describes being shot and bleeding out on the lawn you wonder what the heck just happened. When it keeps happening in different ways you realize she is talking about her feelings. Then there is the way the book is written. I listened to the audio which I think helped tremendously as you don’t notice the weird structure of the prose as much. It seems to be written in a very conversational tone with streams of consciousness and lack of punctuation or sentence structure. I can definitely see where that would get old fast. The other problem with the book, and this could have been completely intentional, was that the characters were not likeable. Cadence is a poor little rich girl who did something stupid and got away with it. She is almost as selfish and self-absorbed as her mother and aunts. All the adults in the book are manipulative and greedy. I am not sure who we are supposed to empathize with if anyone but I found I really could have cared less about the beautiful, special Sinclairs.

15. December 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

By the Grace of Todd by Louise Galveston, 240 pages, read by Angie, on 12/12/2014

Todd’s room has got to be the grossest ever. There are dirty clothes and dishes everywhere, he has food stashed under his bed, and I am not sure he has ever cleaned. All this filth leads to new life however when Todd discovers his gross gym sock has created a race of tiny people. The Toddlians worship Todd as their supreme creator. Todd has no idea what to do with them so he enlists the help of is homeschooled neighbor Lucy. Unfortunately, Todd is also bullied and has to let bully Max Loving use the Toddlians for their science project to survive middle school. Max, being the bully he is, also bullies the Toddlians. Todd has to come to terms with his responsibility towards the Toddlians and save them from the evil clutches of Max.

This book is definitely geared towards boys as I think girls would just be grossed out. It reminded me a lot of other books with tiny races like The Indian in the Cupboard, The Carpet People or The Borrowers. I liked Todd’s struggle with his role in the lives of the Toddlians. I also really enjoyed his younger sister Daisy and the three main Toddlian characters. I thought the bullying story seemed pretty realistic but I wanted more repercussions for Max at the end. Definitely not my favorite book, but not the worst thing I have read either.

street cat named bob The moving, uplifting true story of an unlikely friendship between a man on the streets and the ginger cat who adopts him and helps him heal his life. Bob the world-wise street cat helps James change his life for the better and teaches him how to relate to other people better too.

world according to bobJames and his street cat, Bob, have been on a remarkable journey together. James was a homeless drug addict before meeting Bob. Bob helped James see important truths: friendship, loyalty, trust and happiness. This book picks up where “A Street Cat Named Bob” left off. James shares how Bob has been his protector and guide through illness, hardship and danger. James has taught Bob tricks such as how to high five but he knows he has learned so much more from his street-wise cat. Not just an animal story but the story of one man and his animal companion.

15. December 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Cats, Short Stories, Tammy · Tags: ,

Christmas Cats by Shirley Rousseau Murphy, 246 pages, read by Tammy, on 12/14/2014

christmas catsAll cat lovers will enjoy these 19 short stories, essays and poems. Some are new while others are previously published. Murphy, the serious editor is the author of the popular mystery series featuring a cat detective. There’s something for everyone, including an informative piece by Christine Church on holiday safety for cats.

15. December 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Tammy · Tags:

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle , 167 pages, read by Tammy, on 12/13/2014

last unicorn

A beautifully illustrated graphic novel version of the story of the last unicorn. I first encountered this story as a movie inspired by the story also by Peter S. Beagle. The story leads our heroes to question what their purpose in life is and what is worth fighting and possibly dying for.

15. December 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Tammy · Tags: ,

Favole: Stone Tears by Victoria Francés, 48 pages, read by Tammy, on 12/12/2014


favole
An English translation with beautifully detailed Gothic illustrations. Victoria Frances relates the memories of a vampires and the ladies that haunt him including his one true love through time. Full of forbidden love, magic, lost innocence and longing.

14. December 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Maybe Not by Colleeen Hoover, 129 pages, read by Jessica, on 12/14/2014

71plHWxokBL._SL1500_Colleen Hoover, the New York Times bestselling author of Maybe Someday, brilliantly brings to life the story of the wonderfully hilarious and charismatic Warren in a new novella, Maybe Not.

When Warren has the opportunity to live with a female roommate, he instantly agrees. It could be an exciting change.

Or maybe not.

Especially when that roommate is the cold and seemingly calculating Bridgette. Tensions run high and tempers flare as the two can hardly stand to be in the same room together. But Warren has a theory about Bridgette: anyone who can hate with that much passion should also have the capability to love with that much passion. And he wants to be the one to test this theory.

Will Bridgette find it in herself to warm her heart to Warren and finally learn to love?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

downloadThis innovative book teaches you how to rediscover the delightful curiosity you had as a child.  Wahl walks the reader through how we were when we were younger, how we are now, and how we can find our Picasso.  Picasso is an acronym Wahl uses to describe his methods for rediscovering creative genius.  Wahl gives examples of each step, as well as quotes and inspiration.  Wahl is not some professional psychologist.  He is someone who has walked this path to Picasso himself.  Wahl gives us very poignant questions to ask ourselves as we consider where we are in our current life and who we hope to become in the future.  This book deserves more than one reading in order to glean all of the information you can out of it.  I recommend this for anyone struggling with who they are and where they fit in at home or at work.  Great read!

11. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Paula, Teen Books

Dorothy Must Die by Paige, Danielle, 452 pages, read by Paula, on 12/11/2014

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Amy Gumm thought life was tough in the trailer park with her druggie, depressed mother and the mean girls in school. But that was before before she was carried to Oz by a tornado, before she was rescued by a series of strange individuals, and before she was instructed, Dorothy must die. Sweet Dorothy returned to Oz only to rule it with an evil, greedy hand, gradually stealing all its magic for herself. Amy, also from Kansas and arriving on a tornado, has to reverse the earthling’s power by killing her. Paige has spirited readers back to The Wizard of Oz, fracturing the already strange classic by having good and wicked witches exchange places, amputating the flying monkeys’ wings, and creating a fear-eating lion, a nefarious Dr. Jekyll scarecrow, and a vicious tin soldier. Amy’s assignment? Navigate through magical defenses, while struggling with her own values of good and evil, to get to Dorothy

11. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Deadpool: Dead Presidents by Brian Posehn, 136 pages, read by Brian, on 12/11/2014

deadThe fun loving wisecracking superhero from the Marvel Universe, Deadpool, is back in a new adventure.  A well meaning necromancer summons up the dead presidents of the United States but these guys have been underground too long and are in a foul mood.    The usual Marvel heroes can’t handle the situation, they need someone who is fearless and easy to blame if things go wrong, enter Deadpool.

 

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

Worth dying for by Rita Herron, 279 pages, read by Kim, on 12/09/2014

One man wants to kill her the other will die to protect her.

Just when the residents of Slaughter Creek think they’re safe, a sadistic serial killer strikes. Someone they’re calling The Dissector. Someone who keeps his victims’ body parts as gruesome trophies.

Special Agent Liz Lucas has been on leave, recovering from the trauma of her last case. But returning to find the Dissector will demand extra caution especially with her former lover Special Agent Rafe Hood leading the investigation. The last time the two worked together, passions ran high and Liz nearly lost her life.

Now, even though their attraction is more magnetic than ever, Liz and Rafe must resist getting involved again and focus on stopping this crazed killer. But as the body count rises and the Dissector’s kills become more personal, Rafe soon realizes that Liz may be his next victim.

10. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Multicultural Fiction

Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj, 249 pages, read by Angie, on 12/10/2014

It has always been just Abby and her mom, but an allergic reaction to coconut makes Abby wonder about the father she has never met. Turns out he never knew she existed and has become a huge Bollywood start in the past fourteen years. Naveen wants to meet Abby and arranges for her to travel to Mumbai during Thanksgiving break. India is a completely different world than Abby is used to in Houston. She discovers a second family with Naveen, his mother and his loyal staff. However, the world doesn’t know about Abby either and they have to be careful how the reveal the truth to the press. Naveen has a movie premiering and the plan on reveal the secret at the same time. Of course things don’t go according to plan.

The cover and description of this book led me to believe it was going to be a lighter read. And while it does have its humorous moments it is really a touching story about a girl connecting with her father for the first time. I really enjoy books that give the reader a glimpse into a new culture and this look at Mumbai was wonderful. The book doesn’t shy away from revealing the good and the bad of Indian culture. Abby is exposed to the extreme poverty of India as well as the wealth of her actor father. I like that even though Naveen was an absent father for most of her life (not by choice of course), he doesn’t come across as disinterested. This is really a story about a girl with very loving parents and a good home life, one just happens to be half a world away.

10. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Multicultural Fiction, Poetry

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Shane Evans (Illustrations), 336 pages, read by Angie, on 12/09/2014

Amira lives with her family in a village in South Darfur. She is envious of her friend Halima who gets to attend school in a neighboring city. Even though her family is fairly prosperous in the village they do not have the money to send her to school, nor would her conservative mother allow it. Their idyllic life is destroyed when the Janjaweed invade the village killing many of the people including Amira’s father. The survivors trek through the Sudanese desert to a refugee camp at Kalma. The camp is nothing like their village and Amira has a difficult time adjusting until she receives a red pencil and a pad of paper from one of the refugee workers. Suddenly Amira’s dream of learning to read and write becomes a possibility.

I really enjoy novels in verse. I think they are a beautiful way of telling a story. I think Pinkney’s verses are lyrical and really illustrate Amira’s thoughts and environment. I also appreciate stories that take place in settings or deal with situations or events that are not often covered in middle grade books. I can’t say I have ever read a middle grade book about the situation in Darfur and it is not one you hear about in general. This was a good introduction to the genocide that has been taking place there for the past decade. I only wish more information could have been included about the conflict, the Janjaweed and what is actually happening to thousands of people. Because the book is told from Amira’s point of view, and she has little knowledge of the conflict, readers do not get a lot of information.