17. October 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Jessica, Romance

Black Lies by Alessandra Torre, read by Jessica, on 10/16/2014

81NzM11owrL._SL1500_Brant:
Became a tech billionaire by his twentieth birthday. Has been in a relationship with me for 3 years. Has proposed 4 times. Been rejected 4 times.

Lee:
Cuts grass when he’s not banging housewives. Good with his hands, his mouth, and his body. Has been pursued relentlessly by me for almost 2 years, whether he knows it or not.

Go ahead. Judge me. You have no idea what my love entails.

If you think you’ve heard this story before, trust me – you haven’t.

16. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff, read by Angie, on 10/15/2014

Poor Rump. His mother died before giving him his full name. He has always been stuck with half a name and no destiny. He lives with his grandma in The Village on the Mountain. The villagers look for gold in the mines to send to the King (King Barf!). All of their rations come through the fat, greedy miller Oswald. This is a land where names have power, magic exists and pixies and gnomes are everywhere. Rump discovers his mother’s old spinning wheel and discovers he can spin straw into gold. The magic comes at a price and soon he finds himself in the power of the miller. When the king comes looking for the new gold, the miller claims his daughter spun it knowing that Rump would help her. Rump goes to the Kingdom and does help Opal, but at a huge cost. Because of the magic Rump can not give the gold away, he has to receive something for it. He is unable to bargain, he must accept any trade offered to him. When Opal offers her first born child Rump despairs, but he has to accept. He runs away to Yonder to find his mother’s family and to hopefully break the bargain. Alas, it is not to be. Rump has to find his true name in order to overcome the magical curse and be free.

I love fractured fairy tales. There is just something so enchanting about taking a story we all know and turning it on its head. The tales of Rumpelstiltskin are really not that detailed in explaining why things happen. Liesl Shurtliff simply fills in Rump’s backstory for us. She explains his actions and those of the other characters in the story. The miller becomes the true villain in this tale and Rump is simply a boy who has to find his destiny. I loved all the fantastical characters like the pixies, who are attracted to gold, the gnomes, who are messengers, and the trolls who don’t eat people! I thought this was a thoroughly creative and imaginative story and I loved it.

16. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky by Holly Schindler, read by Angie, on 10/15/2014

Auggie lives with her grandpa Gus who is a trash hauler. She and her friends who live on Serendipity Place love going with Gus to the junkyard and seeing what kinds of neat things they can find. They are all poor but proud. Auggie is starting a new school since her old school has been condemned. The school is bright and shiny and full of well-off kids, nothing like their old school. Mean girl Victoria starts tormenting Auggie on the first day and never lets up. She even steals Auggie’s best friend Lexie. Victoria’s father is on the House Beautification Committee and they come after Auggie’s neighborhood with a vengeance. Everyone tries to fix up their houses, but the committee just wants to condemn them all and build a community center. Auggie and Gus spend all the time working on their house. They find materials people no longer want and they turn them into art. Soon their yard is full of metal sculptures of all kinds. They have to figure out a way to stop the House Beautification Committee and save their neighborhood.

I really enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. I loved Auggie and Gus’s relationship and the sense of community between the people who live on Serendipity Place. I didn’t quite understand the rationale for the story about Auggie’s mom, but it fit with the rest of the book. I did want the neighbors to figure out the committee’s plan a little bit sooner, but I really loved the end result. Victoria and her dad are pretty one-dimensional villains in this story, but then most villains are. I liked the lesson on how one person’s trash is another’s treasure.

16. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction · Tags:

The Miniature World of Marvin and James by Elise Broach, Kelly Murphy (Illustrations), read by Angie, on 10/15/2014

James is going on vacation and Marvin is sad that he won’t be able to see his friend for a week. While James is gone Marvin and his cousin discover the fun that can be had in a pencil sharpener. It’s fun until James’s dad starts sharpening pencils. When James gets home Marvin is glad to hear that he was missed. This is a nice beginning chapter book. Short, easy chapters with great illustrations.

16. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Prelude to Infinity by Spencer Hickman, read by brian, on 10/16/2014

preludeAvengers, Vol. 3: Prelude to Infinity is the three book of the trinity.  There is a threat from another galaxy, requiring the Avengers to recruit more superheros to fight this Infinity.

 

15. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Sarah

Deenie by Judy Blume, read by Sarah, on 10/13/2014

Deenie is a young lady who is beautiful and her mother thinks she is destined to be a model.  It is discovered that she has scoliosis (a curvature of the spine) and will need to wear a back brace for about four years.  This book showed the struggles of dealing with an overbearing mother, a disease, and friends who don’t know the best way to support each other.  It was pretty good, but a few scenes would prevent me from recommending it to the younger set.  Recommended for the older teen.

vampyreThis tremendous volume tells the full stories surrounding the night Lord Byron challenged his companions to write ghost stories during a foggy, stormy night in Geneva, Switzerland.  That now famous night led to the creation of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and The Vampyre by John Polidori.  Reading much like a good novel, the book dives right in, explaining why Byron was exiling himself to Switzerland, how he came to hire Polidori as his physician, as well as why Claire Claremont, Mary Godwin (Shelley), and Percy Shelley were also travelling that way.  The book also details the aftermath of that night, ending with an epilogue that explains each of their deaths.  It is a long and very twisted story, the facts of which seem hard to believe at times.  However, the author has faithfully documented each of his facts, once again proving that the truth is stranger than fiction.  It is nice to see a nonfiction book turn out to be such a page turner.  It was difficult to put down.  I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Romantic period, poetry, or Gothic fiction.

15. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, NonFiction · Tags:

Python in Practice by Mark Summerfield, read by Brian, on 10/15/2014

pythonWinner of the 2014 Jolt Award, this book is an excellent resource for both an experienced programmer or someone who is just beginning.

 

 

15. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction · Tags:

Anastasia Romanov: The Last Grand Duchess by Ann Hood, Denis Zilber (Illustrations), read by Angie, on 10/14/2014

Maisie and Felix are off for another adventure through time. This time they are headed to Imperial Russia and the Romanovs. Before they leave they befriend Alex Andropov who is Russian and has hemophilia. Alex smuggles himself along through time and once he gets there he doesn’t want to leave. The three kids spend months with the Romanovs in 1911 traveling from one palace to another. They need to give Anastasia a Faberge egg and get a piece of advice. Unfortunately when they arrived the egg ended up in the Czarina’s possession. Then Alex wanted to destroy the egg so he wouldn’t have to go back to the present time. Felix is also enjoying his time in Russia and bonding with Anastasia. Whereas Maisie is feeling jealous and left out and just wants to get the mission done. There is a lot to figure out.

I still don’t really like this series. I find the kids pretty unlikeable and unrelatable. There are also instances where logic seems to be thrown out the window for no reason. For instance, why does Alex have to destroy the egg? To get back to the future he has to be touching either Maisie or Felix when they give the egg to Anastasia. So instead of trapping them in 1911 he could just not be around when they give her the egg. Seems pretty straight forward to me.

15. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Jessica, Romance

Second Chances by H.M. Ward, read by Jessica, on 10/14/2014

911koX-kHLL._SL1500_I’m not a catch, I’m not even certain I’m what they’d call ‘mentally stable,’ not anymore. Too much has happened too fast and it ripped my soul in half. I’m alone, with a plastic stick in my hand that says the one word we’d been so eager to see.

Pregnant.

Lucky in love once is a miracle, but I lost him, and this baby is all I have left. My life turned to ash in a blink and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Years pass and I’m still here, but it doesn’t feel like it, not until the lawn guy, Daniel Clement, checks me out. Me. A yoga-panting, pony tailing, frumpy-butt, frizzy mommy who’s covered in whatever the baby tossed on me at lunch.

Daniel’s dark eyes linger too long, as if he likes what he sees. I’m shocked and flattered, but he’s too young. The age gap between us is over a decade, but that doesn’t stop him. If I sleep with him everyone will think I’ve lost my mind. Maybe I have, because everyday that I see Daniel’s sexy, toned body glistening in the sunlight, I consider feeling him pressed against me, naked. The few times his fingers grazed my skin were heaven, but once the clothes come off–he’s a god and I’m… me.

I’ve been alone for so long. Surely one kiss won’t hurt anything, one taste of his mouth should be harmless. Things don’t have to go that far, but I’m wrong.

Love only comes around once in a lifetime. Only fools think otherwise, and I’m the biggest fool of them all.

14. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Kira, Science Fiction · Tags:

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, read by Kira, on 10/11/2014

An enjoyable book.  Main character Miranda starts the story off, telling how her neighbor and best friend Sal, quit hanging out with her, after he got punched, as the two were walking home.  A number of other 6th graders enter her life, as space is opened up.  These include AnneMarie, whose best friend Julia “broke up” with her.  Collin joking fellow who’d always been in the background, Marcus the kid who hit Sal, and even Julia, AnneMarie’s long-time best friend.  It also describes Miranda’s relationship with her Mother (single mom) and Mom’s boyfriend Richard.  The heart of the story is how Miranda navigates her friendships.  There is also a time travel mystery, as she receives notes from a9781921656064-1xdllbt person who has already seen the future. images2680954d79bd11915bdcbc13da7008c5 The question is who is doing the time travelling.  All the clue are laid out for you, but I didn’t think it was obvious.  Minor quibble – I didn’t think the explanation for Sal’s jerky behavior really made sense.  But overall enjoyable!

71989-thumb140 YouAreHere.4

14. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Katy, Mystery

The Round House by Louise Erdrich, read by Katy, on 10/13/2014

42afd0889f68f5933f522791e7e57a34When his mother, a tribal enrollment specialist living on a reservation in North Dakota, slips into an abyss of depression after being brutally attacked, 14-year-old Joe Coutz sets out with his three friends to find the person that destroyed his family.

14. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Horror, Lisa, Mystery

The Dreadful Revenge of Ernest Gallen by James Lincoln Collier, read by Lisa, on 10/13/2014

In the quiet town of Magnolia, someone is a’ haunting, making people do awfully weird things. Eugene knows because he’s being haunted, too. His friend Sonny’s dad walked right off of a building and fell to his death, and then another friend’s dad crashed his car into a tree. The same “specter” that was haunting them is inside Eugene, talking to him, telling him to do crazy things! Along with the help of their friend (conveniently, the daughter of the town’s newspaper editor) Eugene and Sonny pledge to get to the bottom of the haunting.  But not before uncovering a bigger mystery that will affect nearly every townsperson in sleepy little Magnolia…

14. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Kim, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Merciless by Mary Burton, read by Kim, on 10/12/2014

In this riveting linked novel, rising romantic suspense star Burton deftly heightens the suspense that began in “Senseless.”

No Pity. Each skeleton is flawless—gleaming white and perfectly preserved, a testament to his skill. Every scrap of flesh has been removed to reveal the glistening bone beneath. And the collection is growing…

No Compassion. When bleached human bones are identified as belonging to a former patient of Dr. James Dixon, Detective Malcolm Kier suspects the worst. Dixon was recently acquitted of attempted murder, thanks to defense attorney Angie Carlson. But as the body count rises, Kier is convinced that Angie is now the target of a brutal, brilliant psychopath.

No Escape. Angie is no stranger to the dark side of human nature. But nothing has prepared her for the decades-long legacy of madness and murder about to be revealed—or a killer ready to claim her as his ultimate trophy…

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

Snapped by Laura Griffin, read by Kim, on 10/13/2014

Sophie Barrett Thinks She’s Lucky To Be Alive.
She May Be Dead Wrong.

On a sweltering summer afternoon, Sophie Barrett walks into a nightmare. A sniper has opened fire on a college campus. When the carnage is over, three people – plus the shooter – are dead and dozens more are injured. Sophie escapes virtually unscathed. Yet as details emerge from the investigation, she becomes convinced that this wasn’t the random, senseless act it appeared to be. No one wants to believe her – not the cops, not her colleagues at the Delphi Center crime lab, and definitely not Jonah Macon, the homicide detective who’s already saved her life once.

Jonah has all kinds of reasons for hoping Sophie is mistaken. Involving himself with a key witness could derail an already messy investigation, not to mention jeopardize his career. But Sophie is as determined and fearless as she is sexy. If he can’t resist her, he can at least swear to protect her. Because if Sophie is right, she’s made herself the target of a killer without a conscience. And the real terror is only just beginning.

14. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance

Keep me safe by Maya Banks , read by Melody, on 10/13/2014

A sizzling story of a woman who risks her life and her heart to find a wealthy man’s missing sister—the first novel in a sexy new romantic suspense series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Maya Banks

When Caleb Devereaux’s younger sister is kidnapped, this scion of a powerful and wealthy family turns to an unlikely source for help: a beautiful and sensitive woman with a gift for finding answers others cannot.

While Ramie can connect to victims and locate them by feeling their pain, her ability comes with a price. Every time she uses it, it costs her a piece of herself. Helping the infuriatingly attractive and impatient Caleb successfully find his sister nearly destroys her. Even though his sexual intensity draws her like a magnet, she needs to get as far away from him as she can.

Deeply remorseful for the pain he’s caused, Caleb is determined to make things right. But just when he thinks Ramie’s vanished forever, she reappears. She’s in trouble and she needs his help. Now, Caleb will risk everything to protect her—including his heart.

14. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Science Fiction · Tags:

Leonardo da Vinci: Renaissance Master by Ann Hood, Denis Zilber (Illustrations), read by Angie, on 10/13/2014

So everyone is now back from the Congo and Kansas respectively and ready for their next adventure. Well Maisie and Felix are the Ziff twins are not included in this one. This time they are heading back to the Renaissance to meet Leonardo da Vinci. They end up with Sandro Botticelli to start out with (neither of the kids have heard of him) before they meet Leonardo. Again they do not ask his name for a few days (seriously what is wrong with these kids!?!). They meet the Medici family and attend carnival before completing their mission. Again the logic of these books just leaves a bit to be desired. Maisie is even more unlikeable in this one than she was the previous book and Felix doesn’t make that much of an impression. The one thing I do appreciate about the books in this series is the backmatter. Ann Hood gives the reader a very nice biography of the famous person we met in the book.

14. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Science Fiction · Tags:

Amelia Earhart: Lady Lindy by Ann Hood, Denis Zilber (Illustrations), read by Angie, on 10/13/2014

Maisie, Felix and the Ziff twins are sent back through time to the Congo to find the missing Amy Pickworth. They get chased separated and Maisie and Felix end up chased by gorillas and stalked by lions. They escape leaving the Ziffs to their fate. They end up with Amelia Earhart as a young girl before she falls in love with airplanes. Of course they don’t realize she is Amelia Earhart because she goes by Meelie and the kids spend a month with the family without asking their names (I’m serious here!). Finally they realize who she is and complete their mission.

So I haven’t read any of the other Treasure Chest books and wasn’t really familiar with the stories or how the time travel works in this series. Apparently, the family has been amassing treasures throughout time and storing them in a room called the Treasure Chest. In order to time travel you have to be a twin and find an object that will take you to the time and place you want to go. Once there you have to give the object to the person you are seeking after getting a lesson in order to go home. Seems a bit complicated and it really is if you never ask a person their name. Not my favorite mainly because I didn’t find Maisie or Felix that likeable and they just seemed a little on the dim side (I really can’t get over the fact that they stayed with Earhart for a month and never found out who they were staying with).

12. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction · Tags:

Tell Me by Joan Bauer, read by Angie, on 10/12/2014

Anna is a twelve year old drama kid. She is currently starring as a dancing cranberry at the mall. Unfortunately, her parents are not getting along right now and need a little space. They decide to send Anna to Rosemont to stay with her grandma Mimi for a little while. Rosemont is getting ready for its famous flower festival which Mimi founded and runs. Anna jumps right in to life in Rosemont. She meets Taylor and Taylor’s horse Zoe and she gets a role as a dancing petunia at the local library. While at the library one day Anna notices a sad girl who seems to be in trouble. Anna can’t get the girl out of her mind and is determined to help her. She enlists the help of Mimi, the librarian, and the everyone she can think of including the librarian’s grandson Brad who works for Homeland Security. Anna spends her days helping with the festival, being a petunia at the library and trying to remember more details to help this mysterious girl.

Joan Bauer does a good job writing these types of books. They have strong female lead characters who kids can identify with. Anna is smart and determined and dedicated. Things don’t always work out for her but she does the best she can with what she has. Human trafficking is a pretty dark subject but it is handled with a gentle touch in this book. It is a good introduction of the subject to kids who have probably not heard about it before. I like the fact that the case wasn’t solved like magic but through investigation and determination. Tell Me is a good read and another winner for Bauer.

12. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction · Tags:

Twice As Nice by Lin Oliver, read by Angie, on 10/12/2014

Charlie’s friends aren’t talking to her ever since she told on two boys who started a fire. Her twin Sammie thinks this is for the best since mean-girl and leader of the pack Lauren isn’t nice at all. Charlie just wants to be part of the in-crowd though. When Lauren decided to form The Junior Waves club she needs Charlie to increase their chances of getting approved. Charlie is excited to be back in the group and will do pretty much anything even if it means going against what she knows is right.

This book was pretty cliched with no likable characters. I know it has a nice message about not giving in to peer pressure and bullying and being true to yourself but the delivery had the subtlety of a sledge hammer. Pretty much any cliche you can think of was in this book and you knew how the story was going to play out from the beginning. There are much better books out there that deal with these topics.