15. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Brian, Fiction, Horror

Horns by Joe Hill, 370 pages, read by Brian, on 11/20/2014

hornsJoe Hill’s Horns is so much in a little book it’s amazing.  A black comedy with terror, sex and intrigue, Horns has a little bit of everything.  The main character, Ig, has been in a depressive state after his girlfriend, Merrin, was raped and killed.  Ig, develops horns on his head and eventually powers as vows to track down the monster who killed his love.


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15. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Science Fiction

Interworld by Neil Gaiman, 239 pages, read by Brian, on 11/16/2014

interworldNeil Gaiman and Michael Reaves team up to bring us Interworld, the story of Joey Harker who has discovered his world is one of trillion different earths.  Joey teams up with different versions of himself to battle evil magician lords Dogknife and Lady Indigo to keep the earths balanced.

 

14. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Inspirational, NonFiction, Sarah

Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom, 254 pages, read by Sarah, on 11/13/2014

  Mitch has been asked to by a Rabbi to do his eulogy at his funeral.  What Mitch expects to be a short get to know you better period of a few weeks or months, turns into an insightful 8 years.The Reb (Rabbi Albert) was a remarkable man of God whose faith caused him to lead a simple, generous life.  While Mitch is traveling back and forth to interview Reb, he starts his own not for profit to help the homeless and downtrodden in his home, Detroit.  It is in this town that he learns about Rev. Henry Covington, a former drug addict and criminal, and his contributions to the homeless.

This book is powerful in that you leave it with a strong feeling that God is in everything, whether you are Jewish, Christian, Hindu, or Muslim.  God can work through anyone that is willing to give Him an opportunity.

14. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Cats, Fiction, Humor, Kira · Tags: , ,

A Cat's Christmas by Stefanie Samek, 180 pages, read by Kira, on 11/10/2014

indexThis is a sweet get-yourself-in-the-mood-for-Christmas for Catlovers.  There is both humor here as well as stories traditional Christmas tales told from Cat standpoint.  The humor was gentle and clever, Not the loud guffaw and bust your gut type.  I was impressed at how continually Samek was able to riff on the cat humor, finding all sorts
of puns and ways to have fun.  This book includes feline versions of Christmas Carols, treats and goodies for cats, the poem The Night Before Christmas, as well as Dicken’s A Christmas Carol for cats (eg Bob Scratchit).  Some of the ideas really did seem plausible.

13. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags: ,

The Capture by Kathryn Lasky, 222 pages, read by Kira, on 11/04/2014

gallery_owl_galleryRecommended by one of our regular teen readers years ago, I now have the opportunity to read this series.  The Capture starts with the protagonist, newly-hatched owlet named, Soren, spending a few weeks in the nest, before his elder clutch-mate Klud, pushes him over the edge (reminiscent of E. E. Knights Dragon series).  From there he gets captured by an evil group of owls, who snatch baby owls, and imprisoned at the St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls.  Here Soren meets Gylfie a tiny elf owl, and the two attempt to withstand the brainwashing the academy imposes.

 


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

Nuts to You by Lynne Rae Perkins, 256 pages, read by Angie, on 11/12/2014

Nuts to You begins with an author sitting on a park bench. A grey squirrel sits on the bench with her. The author shares her peanut butter with the squirrel and in return the squirrel shares his story. It is the story of Jed, TsTs and Chai, three amazing squirrels who embark on a harrowing journey and a quest to save their group. The story starts with Jed’s capture by a hawk. As the hawk flies away Jed realizes he is not injured and sets about getting the hawk to let him go. Unfortunately, the hawk drops Jed far away from where he picked him up and a long way up in the sky. Jed lands far from home surrounded by different trees and red squirrels who talk funny. TsTs and Chai witnessed Jed’s abduction and subsequent fall and decide to go after him. They follow the buzzroads to the the third giant spiderweb (power lines to the tower). There they find Jed, but they also discover humans cutting down the trees along the buzzroads. They have to warn their own grove about the danger approaching. They know their families and friends won’t believe them so they make up a game to get everyone to move before the humans arrive.

This was a really cute story. I really enjoyed how the author inserted herself into the story; it made you think it could have been true. I thought the squirrels were fabulous characters and all had very different personalities. I really got a kick out of the red squirrels even though I didn’t understand half of what they were saying. It was just like going to a different place where the people have strong accents and are hard to understand; of course they think the same of you. I am sure animals communicate with each other in some way which made this story more on the believable side. I liked that it was more realistic than fantasy. Other than Jed talking to the author there wasn’t anything about the story that made it seem impossible or implausible. Nuts to you all!

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

The Edge of Courage by Elaine Levine, 370 pages, read by Melody, on 11/12/2014

Step into Elaine Levine’s exciting new series of alpha warriors–products of the government’s secret corps of assassins called the Red Team:

Haunted by memories he cannot reach, stalked by an enemy bent on revenge . . .

Rocco Silas has come home to Wyoming after long years as a Red Team operative in Afghanistan. It isn’t easy returning to civilian life, especially burdened as he is with a staggering case of PTSD or hunted as he is by an enemy determined to seek an eye-for-eye–neither of which can he battle until he confronts the truth of what happened one fateful day in the high mountain ranges of the Hindu Kush.

She alone holds the key to his sanity.

Mandy Fielding’s dream of opening a therapeutic riding center on her family’s ranch is almost within her grasp–until she hires Rocco Silas, a dangerous ex-Spec Ops friend of her brother’s. His haunted eyes and passionate touch promise a love she never dared believe possible. Can they confront the truth of his past and build a future together or will the enemy stalking him destroy them both?

13. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Cats, Children's Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Kristy

Chi's Sweet Home, Volume 4 by Konami Kanata, 152 pages, read by Kristy, on 11/13/2014

In this volume of Chi’s adventures, Chi moves to a new home. At first she isn’t thrilled with the place, but she slowly warms up to the idea. Chi meets fellow animals in her apartment complex, and I can foresee that these animals will play a big role in some of her next adventures.

Like the last books, Chi’s Sweet Home Volume 4 was fun, simple, and delightful. These books always put me in a good mood!

13. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tammy · Tags: ,

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, 373 pages, read by Tammy, on 11/02/2014

sweetness at the bottom of the pieThe first book in a series of British mystery novels. But our detective is non-other than a plucky, whip-smart 11 year old girl. Who loves chemistry, scientific exploration, and especially poisons. I believe Flavia and Sherlock Holmes could have had some interesting conversations. Though smart and curious Flavia still remains an 11-year-old girl and tormented younger sister of two older sisters.

Set in the summer of 1950 at the decaying mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce finds herself surrounded by curious happenings. First a dead bird appears on their doorstep with a postage stamp pinned to its beak. But more worrisome is how this unnerves her usually steadfast father. Just hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in their cucumber patch and hears him utter his last words.

Flavia is both appalled and delighted as she says “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”

13. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tammy · Tags: ,

Darkness at Pemberley by T. H. White, 286 pages, read by Tammy, on 11/10/2014

darkness at pemberleyA little known detective story by the author of The Once and Future King and The Book of Merlyn. Starting off with a closed room mystery Inspector Buller is soon confronted with two other superstitious deaths at a prestigious college. Frustrated by his inability to prove who the murderer is even the villain confesses in private to him, the Inspector decides to resign from Scotland Yard. The story moves to the estate where two of his friends live. Made famous by Jane Austen, Pemberley, is our majestic setting for evil. The killer determines to kill Sir Charles and endangers the life of Detective Buller’s one true love. The action picks up once the killer manages to hide in the house. What follows includes car chases, kidnapping, poison gas, grinning skulls and a dangerous maze of a chimney system. Sir Charles and Inspector Buller must wrestle with their conscious. Could they kill the man if it’s the only way Sir Charles and his sister will be safe?

unleashing your inner dogThough this book came out in 2001 it definitely has a hippie or new age vibe going on especially in the art work. I was expecting a more humorous book, but it is more philosophical and about how to have a relaxed, joyful outlook on life no matter what is happening. Mari Stein shares her observations of her dogs’ joy in the every day: eating, chasing a stick, leaping for a Frisbee are all approached with the same open honesty. Dogs truly are nature’s pure examples of unconditional love and loyalty.

12. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kira · Tags: , ,

Cat love letters by Leigh W. Rutledge , 112 pages, read by Kira, on 11/12/2014

This delightful book features collected correspondence between pairs of cats.  Some of these cats are falling in love, some are having spats, some are desperately searching for their loved ones, atypical relationshipsindex 10-titanic-new-version-lolcats column_021_demotivational-cats perfectly-timed-photos-29    – a wide variety of relationships Ian Wilkinson, from Peterborough, UK who has recieved letters from Royal Mail claiming his three-year-old cat Snowball has attacked the postmanIMG_0930 Dear Kitty Paware  images3  9a5d5e3227147d312c34b494b8f09fb4 thumb  imagesfeindex2cat_1751089catured.  Some were sweet, some were funny.  Another treat by Leigh Rutle????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????dge.

12. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Clariel: the Lost Abhorsen by Garth Nix, 382 pages, read by Kira, on 11/08/2014

index2In this prequel to the Sabriel series, protagonist Clariel, is forced to move to the city of Belisaire with her parents.  Her mother is moving to the capital, because it provides better opportunities for her work as a goldsmith.  Clariel hates being cooped up in the city – and is desperate to escape.  She is subjected to having to act properly, and decide whether or not to step into the political machinations.  There is a very funny scene at her first class at the academy – the subject “drinking tea”, where all sorts of etiquette and protocols are to be observed, where the instructor struggles in vain to rein his 5 students in. Throughout the novel, Clariel struggles with doing the right thing versus escaping and gaining her own freedom.  Returning readers will be delighted that Moggett the sarcastic cat-like creature has an extended role.

 

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

The Orphan and the Mouse by Martha Freeman, David McPhail (Illustrations), 220 pages, read by Angie, on 11/10/2014

The Cherry Street Children’s Home is a pretty nice place to live for both kids and mice. The kids have a safe place to stay, nice meals, schooling and a few chores. The mice have an abundant supply of crumbs to fill their larders, entertainment through the stories they hear told to the children and a wonderful supply of art. The Cherry Street mice are obsessed with art and the accumulation of it. They have specially trained thieves who go out into the orphanage to collect art. Mary Mouse has become one the the thieves after her husband is killed. Unfortunately, one of Mary’s missions goes awry and she is seen by the humans. Caro, a young orphan saves her life, but the exterminators are to be called. The rest of the mice are forced to move, but they leave Mary in exile as punishment. Caro is a perfect example of a model orphan. She is helpful and kind and willing to believe everything the director Mrs. George says.

This book has a lot of references to Stuart Little by E.B. White which really makes me want to read it again. The mice of Cherry Street see Stuart as a hero and someone to emulate. I don’t usually enjoy animal stories, but I like how the mice and the orphans come together in this one. There is a lot going on here: baby snatchings, work house threats, blackmail, despotic rulers, murder. I appreciate that it is all written on a level kids can understand and appreciate. I also really appreciate that Caro didn’t suddenly discover the ability to talk to Mary. It made the story more realistic with the communication barrier.

12. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage, 368 pages, read by Angie, on 11/10/2014

Mo and Dale, the Desperado Detectives, are back with all the quirky characters of Tupelo Landing. They have to learn about the history of their town for a school assignment. Instead of interviewing one of the elders of the town like all their classmates are doing, Mo convinces Dale to pick the ghost of the inn as their subject. The ramshackle inn was recently purchased by Miss Lana and Grandmother Miss Lacy to keep it out of the hands of the horrible Rat Face woman. The inn has been closed since the 1930s when a horrible accident left the family grieving and a ghost in residence. Mo and Dale are determined to find out who the ghost is and what happened to her even as they are stonewalled by the people who were there and know the story. Their investigation uncovers secrets of some of the town residents and explains the connection new kid Harm has to the area.

I really enjoy this series of books. I like that you don’t necessarily have to read Three Times Lucky to enjoy The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing though it does help. I think Mo is a fabulous character full of grit and determination. I really like the family she has created in Tupelo Landing and how they all fit together. I thought the mystery was good; filled with bootlegging, car races and terrible tragedy. I like how the truth unfolded throughout the story. I think Sheila Turnage does a fabulous job of recreating the quirky nature of small town Southern people with her wonderful cast of characters. I can’t wait to see what happens next for Mo and Dale.

12. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky by Sandra Dallas, 216 pages, read by Angie, on 11/11/2014

Tomi is a second generation Japanese-American living in California with her family on their strawberry farm. Her parents are proud of their adopted country and have taught Tomi and her brother’s to be patriotic supporters of America. Then the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and suddenly their neighbors and friends are looking at them like they are traitors and spies. Tomi’s dad is taken away by the FBI and the family is sent to a relocation camp soon after. Tomi tries to make the best of the horrible situation at the camp. Her mom has to step up and become the head of the family since dad is not with them; she is not the meek Japanese wife she was in California. Tomi and her brothers make friends, go to school and make a life in the camp. They even become friends with some of the local kids. Then dad is released from the prison camp and back with the family. Dad is no longer the proud, patriotic man he was; he is now bitter and angry at America for how he was treated. His attitude makes Tomi question what it means to be an American and how she feels about her country.

I like historical fiction books that deal with eras not frequently covered. WWII is a very popular era but not a lot of books tackle the story of America’s treatment of the Japanese during the war. They were held in these camps without trials or even suspicion of anything for the duration of the war. They had to leave their homes, jobs, businesses and most of what they owned behind. I enjoyed this glimpse into what it was like to live in one of the relocation camps, but I especially appreciated Tomi’s story once her dad came home. He had every reason to be bitter and his attitude forced Tomi to look inside herself and figure out how she really felt. She couldn’t just conform to what her dad wanted her to think and believe; she had to find out for herself. That is a wonderful lesson and Sandra Dallas handled it really well.

12. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction

The Paper Cowboy by Kristin Levine, 352 pages, read by Angie, on 11/11/2014

Child abuse, mental illness, bullying, communism and McCarthy, it is all covered in this book. The Paper Cowboy is the story of Tommy who lives with his parents and sisters in Downers Grove, Illinois. Tommy is a well liked kid who never seems to get in trouble except at home. His home life is a mess. Tommy’s mom is extremely abusive and suffers from mental illness. Of course in the 1950s they didn’t talk about these things and really didn’t know a lot about mental illness. Tommy’s mom has lightning flash mood changes and the smallest little thing can set her off to where she beats Tommy with a belt. She has a lot on her plate: her mom died, she just had a baby and Tommy’s older sister was just burned in a horrible accident. The family has to deal with mounting medical bills which they can not pay. Tommy doesn’t talk to anyone about what is going on at home. He just tries to stay out of his mom’s way and take care of his two younger sisters because dad is no help at all.

In the world outside his house, Tommy is kind of popular but really a bully. He particularly picks on Sam McKenzie who’s dad runs the local grocery store. Sam is a bigger kid with a burn scar on his face. Tommy and his friends are terrible to him even though Tommy kind of likes Sam. One day Tommy steals from Mr. McKenzie and gets caught. In retaliation he plants a communist newspaper in the store with devastating consequences. Soon all the neighbors believe Mr. McKenzie is a communist and stop shopping at his store. Tommy wants to help out so he tries to find the real communist. He has taken over his sister’s paper route while she is in the hospital and suspects one of his neighbors. Unfortunately, as he gets to know the people around him he gets more and more confused on what to do with the information he has collected. The real owner of the communist paper surprises him and turns his world upside down. Things also come to a head at home with his mom.

I actually really liked this book. I thought it was a story that doesn’t often get told. I liked the fact that it was set in the 1950s when a lot of things like child abuse and mental illness were a family’s dirty little secrets. Today there would be counselors and social workers and police involved. Tommy was a likable character even though he was horrible at times. I found his growth throughout the story really believable. He starts out very selfish and ignorant and grows up into someone who helps others and forms relationships with those around him. I am also really grateful that Levine didn’t take the easy way out and make the mom’s mental illness and abuse just miraculously disappear. I think it is fairly realistic the way it was handled and I appreciate that. I haven’t read very many middle grade books set in the era of McCarthyism and the communist scares. I’m not sure how concerned your average person was about communists next store, but it does add a certain element to the story.

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

Caught in the act by Jill Sorenson, 387 pages, read by Kim, on 11/11/2014

Some desires are too dangerous to embrace.

As the owner of a flourishing Latin American crafts boutique, Karina Strauss should be basking in her success. Instead she’s worried about her troubled sister, the girlfriend—and prisoner—of drug lord Carlos Moreno. Kari wants no part of that life, but when she helps a friend cross into the United States illegally, two men on opposite sides of the law take notice: Moreno and Adam Cortez, the handsome border protection officer who lets Kari off the hook. It’s not just Kari’s tantalizing flash of skin that catches Adam’s attention—her drug cartel connections bring back the demons of his past.

Moreno demands that Kari smuggle a package for him in exchange for her sister’s freedom. Adam also gets dangerously close, tempting her to surrender and fulfill her wildest desires. As Kari prepares for the drug run, dark secrets, violent criminals, and deadly consequences lurk around every corner. But concern for her sister drives Kari toward a terrifying act, despite Adam’s warnings, despite her overwhelming fears—and despite the odds against coming out alive.

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

Shattered secrets by Karen Harper, 400 pages, read by Melody, on 11/11/2014

Every town has its secrets…

Returning to Cold Creek, Ohio, is an act of courage for Tess Lockwood. Abducted and held captive as a young girl, she is unable to remember anything about the crime that destroyed her childhood and tore her family apart. Now a grown woman with a bright future, she is certain she has put the past behind her. But when she inherits the family home, Tess must confront the demons that still haunt her and the town of Cold Creek.

Gabe McCord has always blamed himself for what happened to Tess. He had been a teenager when she was snatched from the group of children he was responsible for watching. Now Gabe has taken on the role of sheriff and hopes to shed new light on the cold case, especially given his growing feelings for Tess.

Tess isn’t ready to recall what happened to her, and she has no intention of digging up any details that might remind her of the truth. But when another child in the town goes missing, she’s certain it’s related to her return to Cold Creek. Together,Tess and Gabe will have to work to unlock their painful memories in order to save another child and heal their damaged souls, for good…

12. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Biographies, NonFiction, Paula

Boulevard of Broken Dreams: The Life, Times and Legend of James Dean by Paul Alexander, 312 pages, read by Paula, on 11/11/2014

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This is the first biography of James Dean to look beyond the Hollywood-manufactured cliche to the volatile polarities, conflicted sexuality, and childhood trauma of the person himself. James Dean’s legendary status as a Hollywood icon is reconsidered in Boulevard of Broken Dreams, which explores the process by which he became the electric and exciting actor who came to stand for a whole generation’s feelings of rebellion. What no one knew at the highlight of his career was that Dean had suffered agonies of torment over his own sexual ambivalence and the concealment that Hollywood studio mores made necessary. Author Paul Alexander talks to Dean’s contemporaries, unearths all available source material, and re-creates not only the closed and closeted world of Hollywood in the ’50s but the bucolic serenity of Dean’s hometown in Indiana as well. This revisionist, passionate portrait, based on many new and documented sources and featuring shocking photographs, argues that Dean’s angst-ridden compliance–in public–with rigid sexual expectations helped fuel the fury and electricity of his acting. Its conclusions will be a revelation to film buffs, gay readers, pop-culture aficionados, and everyone concerned with the ethics of image versus reality.

Of all the biographies of James Dean I have read recently this one dove into his sexuality more than the others.  Hard to determine if James Dean was gay or bisexual.  Irregardless, a fascinating man gone way before his time.