16. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Guinea Dog 3 by Patrick Jennings, read by Angie, on 09/15/2014

Rufus is looking forward to the annual camping trip to White Crappie Lake with his family and his best friend Murph’s family. Then his mom goes and invites his enemy Dimitri and strange girl Lurena. Dimitri is always trying to steal Murph as his best friend and Lurena is just strange. At the campground they meet Pablo and get to talking about their pets. Rufus has a guinea pig (Fido) who thinks she is a dog and whose daughter thinks she is a squirrel (Lurena got the guinea squirrel). Fido came from a pet store called Petoria which seems to have disappeared until Pablo says he thinks he saw one. So off they go to find Petoria and another guinea pig. Turns out this one is a guinea otter?

Such a strange little book. Even though this is the third in the series I don’t think you have to have read the other two to figure it out. I think younger readers will really enjoy this story. It has a lot of humor and fun in it. I liked the mystery of what exactly Petoria is and why the animals there turn out so different. I also like that the answers are not given to us in this book.

16. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery · Tags:

The Maid's Version by Daniel Woodrell, read by Angie, on 09/15/2014

The Arbor Dance Hall exploded in West Table, Missouri on a summer night in 1929. No one knows for sure who or what caused the explosion, but 42 people lost their lives and many others were destroyed by grief. Many years after the events, Alma DeGeer Dunahew tells the story to her grandson Alek. She lost her beloved sister in the fire and has always believed she knew who did it. No one was ever prosecuted for the explosion or the deaths. Was it because the person responsible was a powerful man in the community and those in power protected him?

I am not really sure what I think about this book. It is a very short book, but yet it took me a long time to read. It is a meandering story that floats from the present to different parts of the past and back again. It is primarily told from Alek’s point of view, but skips narrators throughout. You are never really sure what is going on or how the different view points will relate to the whole story. I was never really able to get sucked in to the tale nor relate to any of the characters. By the end of the book I really just wanted to finish it and be done. Then the last chapter departed from the rest of the book and basically just told us what happened. So strange. Definitely not my favorite.

In 1986, the Chernobyl Reactor 4 exploded and spewed radioactive material over a wide swath of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. The people were relocated from numerous towns and villages. There is controversy over how many people exposed to the radiation suffered from it. The area around Chernobyl was cordoned off and became the Exclusion Zone. Today the Exclusion Zone is a place empty of humans except for a few people who went back to their homes and scientists studying the effects of radiation on the animals and plants in the area. Some animals seem to have adapted to the radiation while others have abnormalities caused by the radiation. This book is an honest look at a couple of the studies done on animal populations in the Exclusion Zone. It is extremely readable and informative.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

how-we-learn-by-benedict-careylearn_3019445a mgtjVsu 0824-bks-Hurley-master495 download After reading the book The Smartest Kids in the World: and How They got that Way, I started wondering how much can pedagogy be taught, and how much of it is just having a good personality.  And by “good personality” I was thinking of the charismatic “hail fellow well met type”.   I should have remembered that people with  “hail fellow well met” type of personalities, usually get more credit than they deserve see the book Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  Should teachers be required to get a good education or does getting a degree in physical education, qualify you to teach math in high school.  How much can Blond girl learning Chinese 4training benefit a teacher?

Well, given that I learned several ways to study better, to learn faster, and retain more, from this book, I think getting a good education is necessary for teachers as well.  Some of the methods I learned seemed intuitively correct, but I didn’t know why, I was unaware of other things.  I did know that studying for two hours all at once was less effective than studying 1 hour on one day, and then another hour, a couple of days later.  Why does this work better? because the deeper we have to dig to retrieve a piece of information, the more likely it is to stick.  That is why Comprehensive Exams are better for you, though less popular, because you have to study more.  It also helps explain why pop quizzes are good for students, its Not that they tell you so much about what the student knows, its that it is a good tool to help students learn.  Trying to find the answer in your brain is helpful.  Students dislike pop quizzes, yet maybe if they didn’t count for lots of points, student’s wouldn’t object to them as much.  I did know that when you reach an impasse, you should stop, take a break, then go back to the problem.  I advise my husband to do this all the time, now I have evidence to back me up.

I also  didn’t realize how important it is to mix things up, Carey call interleavement.  Drills are fine, but you don’t want to spend a long period of time on the same one, or same type, do some scales, then some etudes, then play a piece through, then work on tone, then back to scales, etc.  This is really critical in math, because you need to be able to figure out which type of formula to apply to different problems.  Often in school, a student does fine on an individual section, but then fails the comprehensive test, because, now they have to select a given formula.  Another way to mix things up, is to study in different places, under different conditions, though if you can study in the room where you will take the test, that can benefit you for the test, but Not for the long run.    part of it boils down to, do you want to just pass the class, or do you really want to learn, do you want to challenge yourself.

I enjoyed this book a lot, and wish more of my professors had imparted this type of knowledge.

When you think about the Arctic you probably see an icy expanse with polar bears hunting seals and the occasional ice breaking ship making its way through the treacherous waters. In reality the Arctic ice is melting with little hope of renewal to previous levels. This is opening up the Arctic to all kinds of things from ship traffic to oil wells. Nations around the north pole are trying to stake their claim on these new areas and resources and environmentalists and native peoples are concerned for the Arctic way of life. Arctic Thaw does a fabulous job of explaining what is happening in the Arctic and providing information on what may happen in the future. It is a well-balanced look at an area that has seen little exploration or development.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

Zoom download (3) 513k+gGpDAL._SY300_ j=0125_UBobBerman Berman explain the scientific workings of things that move.  From the movement of the Big Bang, to the sound that moving sand makes at the base of a dune, to the speed of different insects, Berman explains the science of movement.  This was an engaging read that I enjoyed.

15. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Christian, Fiction, Sarah

The Family of Jesus by Karen Kingsbury, read by Sarah, on 09/13/2014

This book was amazing.  Karen Kingsbury brought the gospel story of Jesus Christ to life by telling it from the different viewpoints of the closest family members of Jesus.  She researched, studied, and tried to make it as true to the Bible as possible.  It opens with Joseph courting Mary from his viewpoint, and goes other close family members such as his uncle, Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, and his brother, James.  This was heart-moving even thought I knew how it would end!!  I highly recommend it.  I listened to it as a book on cd.

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

Lug, Dawn of the Ice Age by David Zeltser , read by Angie, on 09/14/2014

Lug isn’t like the other caveboys in his village. He doesn’t care about headstone or getting the biggest jungle llama. He really likes spending time in his art cave and drawing pictures on the cave walls. He is also concerned about the fact that it is getting colder. He is banished from the village along with Stony, a boy more interested in his frog than anything else. He meets Echo, a girl from the rival village who wants him to help her with Wooly, a young mammoth. Wooly and Lug train to be the best headstone pair so they can get back in the village. Unfortunately, the cold has sent more than mammoths south. A group of saber-tooth tigers is also on the prowl and wants to take over the village’s caves. The two villages have to work together to survive.

This was a fun book, a bit silly perhaps, but with a nice message about accepting people’s differences and not having to conform. It was a bit different to read a book about cavepeople where they spoke in modern language for the most part. It makes it more relatable for young readers anyway. I thought the story was fine, but did think it was strange when the fantasy element of talking animals was introduced. I wish that element could have been left out, but with it in I wish it would have been used consistently. In the beginning Lug and Echo are special because they can understand animals, but by the end the animals are talking to everyone.

15. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance

Tender Deceit by H.Y. Hanna, read by Melody, on 09/14/2014

First love. Second chance. All they have to do is stay alive…
Following her father’s mysterious death in Singapore, Leah leaves her life in London and returns to the island that was her childhood home. Toran James may have been the boy her fourteen-year-old heart yearned for, but the enigmatic man she meets upon her return is nothing like her memory, and the past holds more secrets than she realised. Was her father’s death really an accident? Someone is out to silence Leah – and that someone might be the man she is rapidly falling in love with…again.

Fast-paced, action-packed romantic suspense filled with intrigue and sizzling tension – a perfect summer read!

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

Senseless by Mary Burton , read by Kim, on 09/13/2014

Every Serial Killer Knows. . .

The vicious burns scarring the victims’ flesh reveal the agony of their last moments. Each woman was branded with a star, then stabbed through the heart. With every death, a vengeful killer finds a brief, blissful moment of calm. But soon it’s time for the bloodshed to start again. . .

The Perfect Time. . .

Ten years ago, Eva Rayburn and her sorority sisters were celebrating the end of the school year. That party turned into a nightmare Eva can’t forget. Now she’s trying to start over in her Virginia hometown, but a new nightmare has begun. Every victim is linked to her. And Detective Deacon Garrison isn’t sure whether this mysterious woman needs investigating–or protecting. . .

To Make His Mark

Only Eva’s death will bring peace. Only her tortured screams will silence the rage that has been building for ten long years. Because what started that night at the sorority can never be stopped–not until the last victim has been marked for death. . .

15. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal

Visions by Kelley Armstrong , read by Angie, on 09/14/2014

Book 2 of the Cainsville series. So in the first one Olivia finds out she is adopted and her real parents are the serial killers Todd and Pamela Larsen. She escapes Chicago and the media frenzy and hides away in Cainsville. There she hooks up with Pamela’s lawyer Gabriel Walsh and starts investigating the killings her parents are convicted of. Crazy things happen. Book 2 picks up after the events of book 1. Olivia and Gabriel have proven that Todd and Pamela didn’t kill one of the couples, but there are still three more to investigate. This book takes a bit of a break from the Larsen case and focuses more on other concerns, mainly what the heck is Cainsville.

Olivia finds a body in her car that mysteriously disappears before anyone else sees it. She then discovers the body’s head in her bed, which also disappears. Someone is clearly messing with her. Turns out the body belongs to a young who also has Cainsville connections. Olivia and Gabriel set out to figure out what those connections are and why someone is targeting Olivia. In the mean time, Olivia has tried to reconcile with former fiance James Morgan, but decided it wasn’t going to work out. He is not taking it well and will not leave her or Gabriel alone. Olivia has moved on to hot, young thing Ricky Gallagher, heir to the biker gang Satan’s Saints. They are hot and heavy whenever and wherever they can. Of course Gabriel doesn’t approve even though he and Olivia are not like that (anyone can see it is heading that way of course). Things get complicated as they figure out more about Cainsville’s secrets and what those secrets have to do with Olivia and Gabriel.

I like the fact that this series is not dragging out the mystery. We learned a lot about Cainsville in this book; definitely not all the secrets but enough to know a little about what is going on. I am a big fan of stories about the fae so this book is really up my alley. I like all the hints throughout which made me get online and look up the words in a Welsh dictionary so I could figure out what they heck they were talking about. It seems there are factions who want Olivia’s particular skill set of seeing omens and visions. Will she go with the elders of Cainsville or the sexy Wild Hunt or with the mysterious Tristan and his unknown faction? Can’t wait to see where this book goes.

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

Magic in the Mix by Annie Barrows, read by Angie, on 09/13/2014

Magic in the Mix is the sequel to The Magic Half. Miri and Molly have settled in the present were everyone believes they are the middle twins in the Gill family. Only Miri and Molly remember that Molly is originally from 1935 and was rescued by Miri. When their dad tears off the back porch of the house he opens another portal to the past, specifically 1918 where the girls again see the evil Flo and meet Molly’s mom Maudie. A broken window opens another door into the past this one to 1864 and the Civil War. The girls rescue a couple of Yankee prisoners from the evil Clark, but find out they are not the only ones who can time travel when their brother Roy and Robbie end up in 1864 as well. Of course they are dressed as Yankee soldiers since they were on their way to a Civil War reenactment. It is up to Miri and Molly to rescue the boys and get back to the present time.

This was another nice book by Annie Barrows. I found it interesting that the littlest changes to the house opened up portals to different times and different openings went different times. I liked that all the kids had to think on their feet and figure out how to get out of a dangerous situation. I wish there had been more parental presence in the book. The mom and dad are barely around and barely make an impression throughout. Not a very realistic or likely story but one I am sure kids will enjoy.

I received this book from Netgalley.com.

Somebody on this bus is going to be famous, but who? That is the story of this book. Almost all the action takes place on the bus which is interesting. There are three mysteries to solve. One: who is going to be famous? Two: who lives at the empty bus stop? Three: what happened during the class of 85 graduation? During the course of the school year we get to learn about the nine middle schoolers who are on the bus. Shelly wants to be a famous singer and is very self-centered. Miranda wants to be a writer and a good friend. Spencer is worried he isn’t the genius everyone thinks he is. Jay is worried about his Poppi who is suffering from dementia. Bender is good with numbers and wants to solve the mystery of the empty bus stop. Igor wants to discover more about his dad who is in prison. Kaitlynn becomes obsessed with helping people and starts a fundraiser on the bus to help a family in need. Matthew becomes interested in physics and wins the science fair. Alice is hiding who her family is and what their connection to the mystery of the class of 85. The bus driver Mrs. B also has secrets.

The book begins with the bus crash in May and then works its way through the school year. It is an interesting way to increase the drama as the reader wants to know how they get to the bus crash. This book reminded me a bit of Because of Mr. Terupt with the alternating student chapters. However, unlike Mr. Terupt there doesn’t seem to be a lot of character growth for the kids. For the most part they all end up the same as they started. I was hoping for a little bit more. I thought the story was interesting, but the ending left a lot to be desired. The mystery of who is going to be famous was almost a throw away that negated the rest of the story. It was like oh well we couldn’t think up a good ending so it turns out Mrs. B writes a book. Really? I wanted more details about the aftermath of the bus crash and what it did to the characters, but instead everything is wrapped up in about a page. The book was much better without that ending and could have been a lot better with a stronger one.

12. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Noelle · Tags:

Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh, read by Noelle, on 09/09/2014

“The Dane family’s roots tangle deep in the Ozark Mountain town of Henbane, but that doesn’t keep sixteen-year-old Lucy Dane from being treated like an outsider. Folks still whisper about her mother, a bewitching young stranger who inspired local myths when she vanished years ago. When one of Lucy’s few friends, slow-minded Cheri, is found murdered, Lucy feels haunted by the two lost girls–the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn’t protect. Everything changes when Lucy stumbles across Cheri’s necklace in an abandoned trailer and finds herself drawn into a search for answers. What Lucy discovers makes it impossible to ignore the suspicion cast on her own kin. More alarming, she suspects Cheri’s death could be linked to her mother’s disappearance, and the connection between the two puts Lucy at risk of losing everything. In a place where the bonds of blood weigh heavy, Lucy must decide where her allegiances lie”

12. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Informational Book, Noelle, NonFiction

The Carb Sensitivity Program by Dr. Natasha Turner, read by Noelle, on 09/02/2014

My doctor prescribed a low carb diet and this was one of the books I picked up to learn more about it.   The main thing I garnered from the book was that some incredibly lucky people with incredibly efficient endocrine systems can eat carbs all the livelong day without negative side effects.  However, the vast majority of us are not that lucky.  And I am included in the vast majority, making the book depressing.    I feel like her system of going incredibly low carb and then slowly testing out various kinds of carbs to see how sensitive you are is great in theory, but difficult to follow.  Her program is incredibly detailed and restrictive.  I feel I could be successful at this if I was wealthy enough to hire a private chef, or retired with absolutely nothing else to dedicate my life to but food preparation.

12. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Tammy

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett, read by Tammy, on 09/03/2014

raising steamA thoroughly enjoyable visit to Ankh-Morpork. This time the steam engine has been discovered. An engineer creates the first train and it soon expands beyond his dream to railways being built out to far-lying areas and other countries involving the Watch, the patrician, the press, Henry King as the financial backer and Moist Von Lipwig trying to organize and facilitate it all while not getting killed by angry dwarfs, scoundrels in the desert, rogue goblins or the first steam engine itself, Iron Girder.

Can be a stand alone story though I think readers of earlier Disc-world novels will enjoy it more as they will know the background stories of many of the characters and how they have interacted in past stories.

 

downloadimages (12 Bassahs7  This is a short biography of a African American born into slavery, then emancipated with his family, who loved working with horses, and ended up owning his own stables and showed horses at major events.  Bass was able to overcome a number of racial barriers because of his great skill with horses, and because other people, whites, stood up for him.  He was a quiet, gentle man, and one wonders if an African American with a different temperament would have succeeded in his place.

I liked the fact that so much of the story took place here in Mid-Missouri, in Columbia, Boonville, etc.  download (1) download (2) images

12. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira

Blood Ties: Spirit Animals Bk 3. by Garth Nix and Sean Williams, read by Kira, on 09/11/2014

blood ties elephantlarge_1download (2)This time the team heads to an Asian jungle with nasty leeches, snakes, crocodiles, and deadly insects, in search of the elephants talisman.

This book, was Not as well written as others, the tension was problematic, where I just wanted to skip ahead, and Not endure the will this person succeed at jumping high enough, or some such thing.  I suspect Garth Nix didn’t contribute as much as Sean Williams, having read Nix before.  Still I’m looking forward to the next in the series.

11. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction · Tags:

Grounded by Kate Klise, read by Angie, on 09/10/2014

Daralynn Oakland survived because she was grounded. She had gone fishing at Doc Lake without permission so her mom grounded her and she didn’t get on the plane that crashed and killed her dad, sister and brother. After the funeral, her mom starts doing hair at the funeral home and takes over the local hair salon. Her mom becomes more and more withdrawn as time goes by and everything seems to irritate her. The biggest irritant is Aunt Josie. Aunt Josie runs the Summer Sunset Retirement Home for Distinguished Gentlemen out of her home and is always taking care of old men with no family. Her new beau is Mr. Clem who has just opened the new crematorium in town. Daralynn and her mom are unhappy because Mr. Clem steals their idea for living funerals and they are afraid he will put the funeral home out of business.

This book contains an interesting case of characters. They are all eccentric and just a little bit different. The story is a bit over the top but it is fun and definitely keeps you interested. I thought the reveal about Mr. Clem was easy to spot and just a bit predictable but kids might not be able to spot it. I did like the glimpse into how people deal with grief in different ways. It would bring up several good discussion points for parents and kids to talk about. I think my favorite moment in the book was when Daralynn was talking about her brother and his love of peanut butter and tomato sandwiches. I had no idea anyone outside of my family ate such a thing! Guess it must be a Missouri thing.

10. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Biographies, NonFiction, Paula

James Dean The Biography by Val Holley, read by Paula, on 09/10/2014

On September 30, 1955, en route to a car race in Salinas, James Dean, in a Porche Spyder, crashed head-on with a Ford and died instantly; he was 24 years old. This year he will have been dead 40 years; Holley’s biography is the most definitive biography yet written, and it is quite interesting without being sensational. Holley does take off into flights of verbosity at times, but his general style is so forthcoming that his work gains in credibility, albeit slowly, as the very first chapter, “A James Dean Primer,” is too breathless, dazzling readers with his subject’s legendary achievements and controversies. But then the pace slows, and Holley begins building his portrait with fine use of the 100 or so interviews with people who have never before spoken on record. His presentation of Dean’s career in New York onstage is surprising in that for most people his image is filmic. But, like Brando, he worked well on the stage, gained notoriety, and became a member of the Actors Studio. Holley reveals that Dean’s television work was extensive and continued after he became a Hollywood star. It seemed before that James Dean came from nowhere, a total myth, who in the last 18 months of his life acted in three films–East of Eden, Rebel without a Cause, and Giant, and only East of Eden had been released when he crashed. Now it’s different; an icon has human dimensions. Bonnie Smothers

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

This year he will have been dead 59 years.  From reading this book I learned so much about the “real” James Dean, not the Hollywood version of the man.  His mother died at the age of 9 and he was sent to live with his Aunt and Uncle in Indiana.  Feelings of abandonment followed him his whole life.  There is much controversy about his sexuality, which I never knew.  From various accounts of people, he was an enigma. He changed his persona to fit the person he was with.  Giving them the version of himself he thought they wanted to see.  Extremely interesting and intriguing man.  I recommend anyone who has ever watched his films to read this book.  You will see him in a whole new light.