12. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Children's Books, Dystopia, Eric, Fantasy, Fiction

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann, 390 pages, read by Eric, on 02/07/2015

In the walled, dystopian city-state of Quill, each year brings the Purge, when children turning thirteen are sorted into two groups. The Wanteds are allowed to stay in Quill, and continue training at the university. The Unwanteds, those displaying any sort of artistic creativity, are taken from Quill to the Lake of Boiling Oil, as a death sentence for their transgressions. When Alex Stowe is taken with other Unwanteds to their fate, they instead discover their salvation- the Lake of Boiling Oil is a front for Artime, a magic refuge and school, where the artistic talents of the Unwanteds become spells capable of amazing things, including the inevitable defense of Artime when the High Priest Justine of Quill discovers the ruse.

At first, the similarities to Harry Potter were distracting, and I found some of the magical artistic powers and creatures to be a bit silly. As the story progressed, though, I was drawn in a little more with each chapter. By the end, I was enjoying it all, and wanting to continue to the next book. I just needed to keep the intended audience in mind, and let fantasy be wild. This Mark Twain Award winner is a great beginning for a creative series.

12. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Steam-punk, Tammy, Teen Books

Curtsies and Conspiracies (Finishing School #2) by Gail Carriger, 310 pages, read by Tammy, on 02/11/2015

curtsies The second book in the Finishing School series. Our young heroine, Sophronia has now been attending Mademoiselle Geraldines Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality for six months and her first major reviews are coming up. Will she pass the normal reviews of social skills of a high class Victorian lady to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s satisfaction? How will she do with the reviews of the real lessons of the school – being a spy? Sophronia enjoys sneaking around the school, a floating dirigible with multiple levels and ships connected together, at night to visit the ship’s boiler room as well as eavesdrop on the teachers’ quarters. Who among her friends can she trust? What about the teachers? Who is the schools secret patron? Someone high up in the queen’s inner circle, a vampire, a werewolf or other business interests?

12. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Cats, Humor, Tammy · Tags: , , ,

The Grumpy Guide to Life: Observations from Grumpy Cat by Grumpy Cat, 112 pages, read by Tammy, on 02/10/2015

grumpy cat Grumpy Cat lends her grumpiness to every situation… even rainbows. Her she presents her de-motivational guide to life, love and friendship. With new photos of her famous Grumpy face and a couple of her in normal cute cat poses (Shhh! don’t tell Grumpy Cat). For anyone with an inner grouch, dark humor or sarcastic streak.

If you are a Grumpy Cat fan you may also want to check out the library’s copy of the Christmas movie, Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever on DVD. The movie is actually a little sweeter than I expected but still had some grumpy moments as well as holiday cuteness.

11. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Lisa, Mystery

Death of a Gossip by M.C. Beaton, 179 pages, read by Lisa, on 02/09/2015

Scottish highland village cop Hamish Macbeth must find which target was provoked enough to strangle and drown nasty fat widowed tabloid reporter Jane Winters, who revealed many others’ guilty secrets. Much is from the viewpoint of a naive secretary seduced by a blue-blood playboy. Icy blond beauty, aristocratic Priscilla Halburton-Smythe, lends a hand.

Description from Goodreads.com.

11. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Lisa, NonFiction

Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From a Top New York Dermatologist by Debra Jaliman, 208 pages, read by Lisa, on 02/04/2015

Skin Rules is a concise and practical instruction manual from a renowned Fifth Avenue dermatologist on how to attain beautiful skin, a taut and sculpted body, and a much younger appearance. Actors, models, and newscasters go to Dr. Jaliman for her cutting-edge technology and the latest in skin care, as well as for her reputation for being the “last stop” doctor, the one who fixes what others can’t.

Skin Rules has something for everyone, no matter where they live or how much money they have to spend. This small, invaluable guide supplies the same advice Dr. Jaliman gives to her celebrity patients, from lasers to remove sun damage and turn back the clock to suggestions for simple products and  habits anyone can adopt for a small outlay of time and money.

In Skin Rules readers will learn:
• about the one ingredient that should NEVER be in sunscreens, but often is
• how to use inexpensive Aquaphor to heal wounds and prevent scarring
• which drugstore products really work for acne and wrinkles

Description from Goodreads.com.

11. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

The Opportunist by Tarryn Fisher, 278 pages, read by Jessica, on 02/10/2015

81fNp4iqbUL._SL1500_Olivia Kaspen has just discovered that her ex -boyfriend, Caleb Drake, has lost his memory. With an already lousy reputation for taking advantage of situations, Olivia must decide how far she is willing to go to get Caleb back. Wrestling to keep her true identity and their sordid past under wraps, Olivia’s greatest obstacle is Caleb’s wicked, new girlfriend; Leah Smith. It is a race to the finish as these two vipers engage in a vicious tug of war to possess a man who no longer remembers them. But, soon enough Olivia must face the consequences of her lies, and in the process discover that sometimes love falls short of redemption

10. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, History, Informational Book, NonFiction, Teen Books

Patient Zero: Solving the Mysteries of Deadly Epidemics by Marilee Peters, 166 pages, read by Angie, on 02/10/2015

Patient Zero is a look at epidemics of the past and how doctors and scientists found what or who was causing them. The epidemics covered were the plague, cholera, yellow fever, typhoid, Spanish flu, ebola and AIDS. Each chapter focused on the “patient zero” who was the first to get the disease and start spreading it. It is a pretty interesting read with lots of good historical information. However, it is not a book for research. The diseases are covered pretty thoroughly but in a more surface way than would be needed for reports or assignments. I think kids who are interested in this type of thing will really enjoy this more for pleasure reading.

My one gripe with the book is actually the illustrations. There are clip art type pictures throughout the book instead of actual photos or historical data. I thought the pictures didn’t fit with the text and actually distracted me from the seriousness of what I was reading.

I received this book from Netgalley.

10. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh, 352 pages, read by Angie, on 02/09/2015

GiGi (Galileo Galilei) and her big sister DiDi (Delta Dawn) have moved from South Carolina to Long Island after DiDi won a million dollars. Their mom died when GiGi was a baby and DiDi has been taking care of her. She doesn’t want GiGi to be like her, never finishing school and a hairdresser, so she pushes GiGi to do well in school and has enrolled her in a prestigious prep school. GiGi decides this is the perfect time to reinvent herself so she changes her name to Leia and decides to make friends. She starts out by tripping over cute boy Trip and immediately becomes part of the popular crowd. She also becomes enemies with mean girl Mace. The only thing GiGi and DiDi have from their momma is a recipe book full of very unhealthy recipes. They know she was also Delta Dawn and a hairdresser and that she loved Revlon’s Cherries in the Snow lipstick. This is the story of GiGi’s new life in Long Island, how she discovered who she really is, and how she came to find out what really happened in her past.

This book is full of recipes which might interest some young readers; however, I found I just skipped them whenever they popped up. I would never make any of them so I wasn’t really interested in finding out what was in a twinkie pie. I did like GiGi’s story even if she wasn’t always the most likeable character. Mace is portrayed as the mean girl, but she actually turns out to be fairly nice. GiGi however is horrible to both her sister and Mace throughout the story. The revelations about GiGi’s past aren’t that surprising, but I think kids will find them interesting. This is a book that is going to appeal more to girls than to boys.

I received this book from Netgalley.

10. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Sarah, Teen Books

If I Stay by Gayle Forman, 201 pages, read by Sarah, on 02/09/2015

Mia is out for a family drive and her whole life changes in an instant.  Her stresses about life choices, music vs boyfriend, are all put on hold as she has to make the most important decision of her life.  Will she stay or will she go on to be with her family?  This was a memoir of sorts as Mia flashes back to memories and re-lives her life so far.

This dark tale emphasizes how important family is to your back story and how music can infuse your life and influence it like nothing else can.  This was another one I was wishing I had the cd to while I was reading!

10. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Sarah, Teen Books

Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff, 281 pages, read by Sarah, on 02/09/2015

Sam’s best friend, Hayden, commits suicide after a fight at a party.  He leaves a playlist of music for Sam to listen to and a note that says the playlist will explain everything.  Sam is hurt, confused, guilty, and wondering what he missed that night that could have changed the way things turned out.  A friend of Hayden’s, who Sam doesn’t know anything about, shows up and starts to shed some light on that last night’s events.

This was a sad mystery of sorts as I tried to figure out who was behind the “paying back” of the bullies that let this escalate so drastically.  It needed to come with a cd of the music referenced to help me understand it even better.  I was tempted to go to i-tunes more than once!  It was a good book.

09. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Tammy · Tags: , , , , ,

Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society by Amy Hill Hearth, 259 pages, read by Tammy, on 02/01/2015

miss dreamsville A group of social misfits join together to form a book club at their small town library. Set in the south in a small town in Florida during the sixties the group is made up of a divorcee, an old maid, a gay man, a Northerner, a young black woman, an ex-con and the librarian with secrets of her own. The way these quite different individuals become friends and end up affecting each other’s lives is a lovely tale.

09. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Unlit Star by Lindy Zart, 299 pages, read by Jessica, on 02/09/2015

81k38vwjRbL._SL1500_We are not guaranteed anything, not even this life.

Rivers Young is the popular guy untouchable by reality. He is like a star—bright, consuming, otherworldly. The thing about stars, though, is that they eventually fall, and he is no different.

He falls far and he falls hard.

Delilah Bana is the outcast enshrouded in all of life’s ironies. Alone, in the dark, like dusk as it falls on the world. When Rivers hits the ground, she is the night that catches him. In the darkness, they meld into something beautiful that shines like the sun.

Only, the greater the star is, the shorter its lifespan.

09. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody K, Romance

Overwhelmed by You by Nashoda Rose, 321 pages, read by Melody, on 02/06/2015

Love is ugly and secrets will destroy you.

KAT

I don’t beg.
I don’t cry.
And I don’t give second chances.

Ream, the lead guitarist of the rock band Tear Asunder, deserves a gold medal for best dick move ever when he ran the moment he discovered my secret after two days of hot sex. Then he brings some chick to my coming home party from the hospital—after being shot.
I hate him.

Until …

Ream’s six foot two frame unfolds out of the car after being gone on tour for eight months. I stared. And in my defense, any girl would stare. It would almost be rude not to because Ream was the type of guy who stood out. Not because he was loud and obnoxious. No, it was because he was the complete opposite. Subtle and dangerously quiet. If he spoke, you’d better hope he liked you because otherwise you’d be falling at his feet begging for mercy. Except me … I don’t beg—ever.
But when our eyes locked, it was Ream’s steady confidence that had my nerves shooting off like jet sprinklers.

Then…

Ream told me he didn’t need a second chance because he was still working on his first.

REAM

Sex is ugly. It’s using someone for your own narcissistic pleasure. I did it, but hated it—until her. She was unfuckinexpected. Then I had to wreck our beginning with my screwed up past. I don’t deserve her, but I’m selfish and I’m taking her anyway. This is who I am and it’s too late to change me.

Description from Goodreads.com.

09. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kim K, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Stay by Karyn Lawrence, 274 pages, read by Kim K, on 02/06/2015

A gunshot rings out and interrupts Laurel Hayward’s first steps on stage as a professional dancer, and witnessing an assassination is just the beginning of her horrific night. The ruthless killer is determined to either have her or to silence her, landing Laurel in the protective custody of Deputy U.S. Marshal Jason Dunn.

His cocky, indifferent attitude gets under her skin, but worse yet, there’s undeniable attraction. Jason can claim he’s not interested in her all he wants but once he’s got her tucked away in a safe house his actions say otherwise.

She needs his help to stay alive and he needs her to catch the killer that has eluded him for years. Forced together and on the run, the attraction flares out of control and develops into more just as the obsessed killer comes for Laurel . . . and threatens to destroy everything.

Description from Goodreads.com.

09. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Horror, Science Fiction

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, 195 pages, read by Angie, on 02/08/2015

A team of women set off on the twelfth expedition to Area X. They are an anthropologist, a biologist, a psychologist and a surveyor. They do not go by names, but by titles. Expeditions into Area X are dangerous and most people don’t return or return different. The biologist narrates this tale. The expedition discovers a tower or a tunnel with strange biological writing on the walls. The biologist feels she is being changed by something. Soon the anthropologist and the psychologist disappear. We learn that the biologist’s husband was on the previous expedition and she believes a bit of him may still be in Area X. This is her story; how she came to be here and why and what happens to her as a result.

I have no idea what to think about this book. I don’t really know what happened even after reading it. Is Area X the southeastern part of the U.S.? How far in the future does this take place? What is the Southern Reach organization? This is the beginning of a trilogy and I suppose I will have to read the other two books to have my questions answered. The biologist is an unreliable narrator and the reader can’t know how much of the story is fact and how much comes from the mind of the biologist. It is a strange and horrible book that left me confused, but interested.

09. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Humor, NonFiction

My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places by Mary Roach, 160 pages, read by Angie, on 02/08/2015

My Planet is a collection of writings Mary Roach did for Reader’s Digest. They are short, humorous stories about her life and her experiences. While I found them funny and enjoyed listening to this book I don’t think it lives up to her other books. It is a worthwhile read (or listen) but if you are looking for the quality of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers or Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex you will be disappointed. The one thing I did enjoy was the husband Ed. He and Mary must be absolutely perfect for each other.

09. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos, 160 pages, read by Angie, on 02/06/2015

This is the fifth and final book in the Joey Pigza series and the first I have read. Joey’s mother is suffering from postpartum depression and decides to check herself into the hospital. She pulls Joey out of school to take care of his baby brother. The dad had plastic surgery that ruined his face, ran off and is now stalking the family and wants to kidnap the baby. Joey’s blind girlfriend Olivia arrives after being suspended from blind school and moves in with Joey and baby Carter. Joey cleans up the roach-infested house, takes care of Carter, does the grocery shopping and is basically the man of the house.

This is a fairly dark book for one aimed at the middle grade reader. Joey has to deal with a lot of things he shouldn’t have to and there is no parental or adult support. I had a hard time believing that he would be able to leave school like he did or that there would be no social services involvement with the family. Both the parents seem like horrible people and truly bad parents. The mom hides Joey’s medication and undercuts his self-esteem at every chance. The dad has basically abandoned the family but wants to start over with the perfect baby. He too is not very nice to Joey. I am not sure how many kids would be able to relate to this story and I am not sure how many fans it will find outside of the Joey Pigza ones. However, I did find there were lots of funny parts to the story and Olivia in particular was a hoot.

07. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Kira, Paranormal, Steam-punk · Tags:

Soulless by Gail Carriger, 373 pages, read by Kira, on 02/06/2015

alexia_tarabotti_and_conall_maccon_by_ulalah-d5jh1kz VictorianPaperDoll images hqdefault 89275d0c54278ce11844f73cb88ce2d3-d31xw43Ms Alexia Tarabotti age 25  is considered an unmarriageable spinster.  In an alternate steampunk Victorian England inhabited by werewolves, vampires, and a few gosts, Ms Tarabotti is able to neutralize these supernatural creatures of the night by touching them, because she is soulless.  After she is attacked by a vampire and kills him with her hairpin and parasol, she becomes a suspect in the disappearance of supernatural creatures.  She starts investigating.  I enjoyed this book.  I liked the humor, the fast pace, and the romance wasn’t overdone.

07. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Mystery, Paula, Teen Books

Paper Towns by Green, John, 305 pages, read by Paula, on 02/03/2015

When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night;dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge;he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q.

Printz Medalist John Green returns with the trademark brilliant wit and heart-stopping emotional honesty that have inspired a new generation of readers.

 

06. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Madeline

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, 343 pages, read by Madeline, on 01/10/2015

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel.

Description from Goodreads.com.