07. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Teen Books

The Hit by Melvin Burgess, read by Courtney, on 03/29/2014

Take it. Live it. F*** it.

A new drug is out. Everyone is talking about it. The Hit. Take it, and you have one amazing week to live. It’s the ultimate high. At the ultimate price.

Adam is tempted. Life is rubbish, his girlfriend’s over him, his brother’s gone. So what’s he got to lose? Everything, as it turns out. It’s up to his girlfriend, Lizzie, to show him…

07. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance

Lady Sundown by Nancy Bush, read by Melody, on 04/05/2014

As beautiful and reckless as the Oregon wilderness, Lexie Danner was determined to become an animal doctor and wed the man of her choice. But when she and her infuriating stepbrother were forced to fight a scheming land baron, they discovered a love as boundless as the mountain skies.

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

Paperboy by Vince Vawter, read by Angie, on 04/05/2014

A young boy in 1959 Memphis takes over his friend Rat’s paper route for the month of July. For any other boy this would not be a problem, but this boy stutters and has a hard time communicating with people. They often assume he is slow or stupid or try to finish his sentences for him. On the paper route he meets Mr. Spiro, a merchant marine. Mr. Spiro likes to chat with the boy and doesn’t mind that it might take a while to get the words out. Each week with the paper collection he gives him a piece of a dollar bill with a word on it: Student, Servant, Seller, Seeker: the four parts of your soul. He also meets a beautiful but sad housewife who drinks too much and is in an unhappy marriage. Then there is TV boy who just stares at a silent TV all day long; it isn’t until the end of the summer that we learn he is deaf and learning to read lips.

The paper route is set against the backdrop of this boy’s home life. His parents are gone a lot and he is being raised by Mam, the Black housekeeper. Mam doesn’t treat him any different because of his stutter either. She helps him and guides him. There is trouble with a junk man who seems to be connected to Mam and who is taking the boy’s things. He also finds his birth certificate and realizes the man he calls his father is not his father. But he realizes this man makes the time to play pitch and catch with him and be his father even though he doesn’t have to. We finally learn the boy’s name at the end of the book. He never says it because it is impossible for him to say with his stutter.

This is a wonderful story about a young boy dealing with a difficulty. I like the fact that it is based on the author’s own life and struggles with his stutter. He never overcomes it, but he does learn to live with it. I thought the racial issues worked themselves into the story very well. This was the segregated South on the eve of integration and racial tensions were everywhere. I did think the story with the junk man seemed a little extraneous to the main story, but it didn’t take away from the story. I would recommend this book.

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

Lawless by Jeffrey Salane, read by Angie, on 04/05/2014

M Freeman has gotten accepted to the Lawless School. After a very strange interview, she is whisked away from her mother and her home. Her life before of tutors and homeschooling is over. But the Lawless School is not what it seems. The classes are not your normal classes and this is not your normal boarding school. It is a school where the children of exceptional criminals come to learn their craft. Turns out her parents aren’t art restorers and dealers, but art thieves. Her dad was a graduate of Lawless and may have been killed because of something he learned there. M (yes that is her full name) discovers that her tutors have been preparing her for this life of crime her entire life. She has been born a thieve and she is good at it.

This is a crazy thrill-ride of a book. The school itself is insane in the extreme, but really fun. M never knows who she can trust and that seems to change on a daily basis. There is of course a huge mission, a secret code, a message from her dead dad, and an end of the world scenario. The story is in no way believable or possible and the twist at the end is just a little too strange for my tastes. However, it is a fun book if you don’t think about the improbability of it all.

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

Finding Zasha by Randi Barrow, read by Angie, on 04/06/2014

Ivan is a 12 year old boy living in Leningrad when the Germans start bombing the city during WWII. Soon the city is cut off and supplies are running out. People are starving and freezing every day. Ivan lives with his mother in an apartment building in the city. Their upstairs neighbor Auntie Vera moves in with them when her apartment is damaged during a bombing. Auntie starts teaching Ivan all about how to survive during wartime, lessons she learned during WWI. Soon Auntie and Ivan are going to leave the city. Ivan’s mother works in a factory that is being moved to the Ural Mountains. Auntie and Ivan are going to take the ice road over the lake and out of Leningrad. They end up with Auntie’s sister-in-law in Vilnov. Soon they have joined the partisans, the people fighting against the Germans throughout Russia. Ivan catches the attention of Major Axel Recht because he plays the concertina so well. Ivan is moved into the Nazi headquarters and also starts taking care of Recht’s two German Shepherd puppies Zasha and Thor. Ivan is completely attached to the puppies and wants to save them from Recht. When the time comes to leave Vilnov, Ivan and the partisans take the puppies with them. They escape to Uncle Boris’s cabin in the woods where they spend the rest of the war.

I didn’t realize this was a prequel to another book until I was finished reading it. I guess the sequel takes up the story of Zasha and what happens to her after she is taken at the end of this book. I found the historical aspects of this story interesting. The Russian side of WWII is not one we in the west hear about a lot so a different perspective was nice. However, I didn’t find Ivan that great of a character. He was fine except for the role he had to play. I didn’t believe he could be a partisan; he just wasn’t sneaky or calm enough. He acted on his emotions too much and put the mission in danger several times. I also found it a little far fetched that this group would welcome him in so quickly and completely. I enjoyed his attachment to the dogs but also thought that was a bit over the top as well. The first part of the book was all excitement and adventure, but the back half really slowed down as the final years of the war passed. Some kids will stick this one out but it is not for everyone.

03. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery · Tags:

The Shadow Collector's Apprentice by Amy Gordon, read by Leslie, on 03/31/2014

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In the summer of 1963, after his father has inexplicably disappeared leaving Cully with his three eccentric aunts on their barely profitable apple farm, Cully goes to work for a mysterious antiques dealer who has the strange hobby of collecting shadows.

Another good read for both boys and girls, from Amy Gordon.  A bit of mystery rolled in with suspense and history.  Some of it is a bit far-fetched for me, but not for kids.  They will enjoy this one as a Mark Twain nominee.

03. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery · Tags:

Capture the Flag by Kate Messner, read by Leslie, on 03/30/2014

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When the original Star Spangled Banner is stolen, seventh-graders Anne, José, and Henry, all descendants of the Silver Jaguar Society, pursue suspects on airport carts and through baggage handling tunnels while stranded at a Washington, D.C., airport during a snowstorm.

A great first in a mystery series for young readers.  While easy for me to see where the plot is heading, kids will definitely enjoy the twists and turns the author takes them on.  A Mark Twain nominee, I can recommend this to both boys and girls.

03. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Paranormal, Teen Books

Snakeroot by Andrea Cremer, read by Leslie, on 03/28/2014

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Bosque Mar haunts Adne and Logan’s dreams, trying to turn Adne to the dark side as he attempts to escape the Nether, where Calla, Shay and the other Guardians trapped him in the final battle of the War of All Against All.

If you enjoy this series, you will like the way she continues the story of this world. I was hoping that the trilogy was not the finish and this book does not disappoint.  Now I can only wonder how the wolves will play a role in this next chapter of the saga.

02. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle

Icy Sparks by Gywn Hyman Rubio, read by Noelle, on 03/30/2014

Icy Spark sis the sad, funny and transcendent tale of a young girl growing up in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky during the 1950’s.Gwyn Hyman Rubio’s beautifully written first novel revolves around Icy Sparks, an unforgettable heroine in the tradition of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird or Will Treed in Cold Sassy Tree. At the age of ten, Icy, a bright, curious child orphaned as a baby but raised by adoring grandparents, begins to have strange experiences. Try as she might, her “secrets”—verbal croaks, groans, and physical spasms—keep afflicting her. As anadult, she will find out she has Tourette’s Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder, but for years her behavior is the source of mystery, confusion, and deep humiliation.

Narrated by a grown up Icy, the book chronicles a difficult, but ultimately hilarious and heartwarming journey, from her first spasms to her self-acceptance as a young woman. Curious about life beyond the hills, talented, and energetic, Icy learns to cut through all barriers—physical, mental, and spiritual—in order to find community and acceptance.

02. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

The Black Belt Librarian by Warren Graham, read by Madeline, on 03/30/2014

Sharing expertise gleaned from more than two decades as a library security manager, Graham demonstrates that libraries can maintain their best traditions of openness and public access by creating an unobtrusive yet effective security plan. In straightforward language, the author shows how to easily set clear expectations for visitors behavior, presents guidelines for when and how to intervene when someone violates the code of conduct, including tips for approaching an unruly patron, offers instruction on keeping persistent troublemakers under control or permanently barred from the library, gives library staff tools for communicating effectively with its security professionals, including examples of basic documentation. The Black Belt Librarian arms librarians with the confidence and know-how they need to maintain a comfortable, productive, and safe environment for everyone in the library.

02. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Madeline, NonFiction

Julia's Cats: Julia Child's Life in the Company of Cats by Patricia Barey, Therese Burson, read by Madeline, on 03/22/2014

The world knows Julia Child as the charismatic woman who brought French cuisine to America and became a TV sensation, but there’s one aspect of her life that’s not so familiar. Soon after the Childs arrived in Paris in 1948, a French cat appeared on their doorstep, and Julia recalled, “Our domestic circle was completed.” Minette captured Julia’s heart, igniting a lifelong passion for cats equaled only by her love of food and her husband, Paul. All the cherished feline companions who shared Julia’s life—in Paris, Provence, and finally California—reminded her of that magical time in Paris when her life changed forever.
From Julia’s and Paul’s letters and original interviews with those who knew her best, Patricia Barey and Therese Burson have gathered fresh stories and images that offer a delightfully intimate view of a beloved icon.

02. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Thriller/Suspense

The Accident by Chris Pavone, read by Madeline, on 03/20/2014

As dawn approaches in New York, literary agent Isabel Reed is turning the final pages of a mysterious, anonymous manuscript, racing through the explosive revelations about powerful people, as well as long-hidden secrets about her own past. In Copenhagen, veteran CIA operative Hayden Gray, determined that this sweeping story be buried, is suddenly staring down the barrel of an unexpected gun. And in Zurich, the author himself is hiding in a shadowy expat life, trying to atone for a lifetime’s worth of lies and betrayals with publication of The Accident, while always looking over his shoulder.

Over the course of one long, desperate, increasingly perilous day, these lives collide as the book begins its dangerous march toward publication, toward saving or ruining careers and companies, placing everything at risk—and everyone in mortal peril.  The rich cast of characters—in publishing and film, politics and espionage—are all forced to confront the consequences of their ambitions, the schisms between their ideal selves and the people they actually became.

The action rockets around Europe and across America, with an intricate web of duplicities stretching back a quarter-century to a dark winding road in upstate New York, where the shocking truth about the accident itself is buried.

Gripping, sophisticated, layered, and impossible to put down, The Accident proves once again that Chris Pavone is a true master of suspense.

02. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Mystery

Death of the Black-Haired Girl by Robert Stone, read by Madeline, on 03/14/2014

In an elite college in a once-decaying New England city, Steven Brookman has come to a decision. A brilliant but careless professor, he has determined that for the sake of his marriage, and his soul, he must extract himself from his relationship with Maud Stack, his electrifying student, whose papers are always late and too long yet always incandescent. But Maud is a young woman whose passions are not easily contained or curtailed, and their union will quickly yield tragic and far-reaching consequences.

As in Robert Stone’s most acclaimed novels, here he conjures a complex moral universe where nothing is black and white, even if the characters—always complicated, always compelling—wish it were. The stakes of Brookman and Maud’s relationship prove higher than either one could have anticipated, pitting individuals against one another and against the institutions meant to protect them.

Death of the Black-Haired Girl is a powerful tale of infidelity, accountability, the allure of youth, the promise of absolution, and the notion that madness is everywhere, in plain sight.

02. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Madeline, Memoirs, NonFiction

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor, read by Madeline, on 03/07/2014

An instant American icon–the first Hispanic on the U.S. Supreme Court–tells the story of her life before becoming a judge in an inspiring, surprisingly personal memoir.

With startling candor and intimacy, Sonia Sotomayor recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench, a progress that is testament to her extraordinary determination and the power of believing in oneself.  She writes of her precarious childhood and the refuge she took with her passionately spirited paternal grandmother. She describes her resolve as a young girl to become a lawyer, and how she made this dream become reality: valedictorian of her high school class, summa cum laude at Princeton, Yale Law, prosecutor in the Manhattan D.A.’s office, private practice, federal district judge before the age of forty. She writes about her deeply valued mentors, about her failed marriage, about her cherished family of friends. Through her still-astonished eyes, America’s infinite possibilities are envisioned anew in this warm and honest book, destined to become a classic of self-discovery and self-invention, alongside Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father.

02. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Madeline

Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen, read by Madeline, on 03/05/2014

Still Life with Bread Crumbs begins with an imagined gunshot and ends with a new tin roof. Between the two is a wry and knowing portrait of Rebecca Winter, a photographer whose work made her an unlikely heroine for many women. Her career is now descendant  her bank balance shaky, and she has fled the city for the middle of nowhere. There she discovers, in a tree stand with a roofer named Jim Bates, that what she sees through a camera lens is not all there is to life.

Brilliantly written, powerfully observed, Still Life with Bread Crumbs is a deeply moving and often very funny story of unexpected love, and a stunningly crafted journey into the life of a woman, her heart, her mind, her days, as she discovers that life is a story with many levels, a story that is longer and more exciting than she ever imagined.

02. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Driven by K. Bromberg, read by Jessica, on 04/01/2014

Rylee Thomas is used to being in control. But she’s about to meet the one man that just might make her enjoy losing it…

I am the exception to the rule.

In a world full of willing women, I’m a challenge to the roguish and achingly handsome Colton Donavan. A man used to getting exactly what he wants in all aspects of life. He’s the reckless bad boy constantly skating that razor thin edge toward out of control, on and off of the track.

Colton crashes into my life like a tornado: sapping my control, testing my vulnerabilities beyond their limits, and unintentionally penetrating the protective wall around my healing heart. Tearing apart the world I rebuilt so carefully with structure, predictability, and discipline.

I can’t give him what he wants and he can’t give me what I need. But after a glimpse beneath his refined exterior into the dark secrets of his damaged soul, can I bring myself to walk away?

Our sexual chemistry is undeniable. Our individual need for complete control is irrefutable. But when our worlds collide, is the chemistry enough to bring us together or will our untold secrets and battle of wills force us apart?

02. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Duke by Kirby Larson, read by Angie, on 04/01/2014

It is the height of World War II and everyone is being asked to do their part. Hobie Hanson is already buying victory stamps and collecting scrap metal. His dad is flying bombers over Europe and he is the man of the house. Hobie has a wonderful German shepherd dog named Duke that he adores. He is struggling with whether or not to donate Duke to the Dogs for Defense program. As soon as he lets Duke go he immediately regrets it, but there is nothing he can do to get him back. Duke is partnered with a marine and sent to the Pacific. At home, Hobie is dealing with the fact that his best friend has moved away and a new kid is being picked on for having a German name. Hobie has a lot of growing up to do and has to figure out if he is strong enough to stick up for what he knows is right.

I thought this was a book that kids will really be able to relate to. Hobie is just your average kid trying to do what is right and not always succeeding. He struggles with his mixed feelings about Duke and his inability to stand up to the local bully. I liked the fact that the story is based on real historical facts even though the characters are fiction. There really was a Dogs for Defense program where people could donate their dogs to the military. It must have been very difficult to let a beloved pet go to war and I am sure a lot of kids handled it just as badly as Hobie.

02. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Sarah, Teen Books

The In-Between by Barbara Stewart, read by Sarah, on 04/01/2014

  This was a haunting book that will keep you guessing until the very end.  A family of three (mom, dad, and Ellie) are in a terrible car wreck on their way to their new home and one of them doesn’t survive.  How would you cope if one of your parents died?  Ellie’s mind is a beautiful and terrible thing.  I would love to tell you more, but you have to read it for yourself.  It will touch your heart and leave its mark on you forever.

01. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Horror, Teen Books

Daylighters by Rachel Caine, read by Brian, on 04/01/2014

daylightersMorganville, Texas not really a fun place to live, sure they have a college but that’s about it, unless, you like vampires.  In this chapter of the Morganville saga, a group called the Daylighters Foundation have gathered up the vampires to either cure them or kill them. The normal people like this idea of freedom from the vamps but Claire, Shane and Eve feel different about the vampires and feel humans and vamps can live in peace.

 

01. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Fortunately, the Milk. by Neil Gaiman , read by Kira, on 03/31/2014

milkA cute piece of froth wherein the father goes out to purchase some milk for his children’s cereal, and when he arrives later than expected he spins a tale of time-traveling dinosaurs flying in balloons visiting talking volcanoes, purple ponies, vampires, and GaimanMilk_1_photo_Brady_Hall080713pirates.  Not Neil Gaiman’s usual fare.