04. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

Beneath the Bleeding by Val McDermid, read by Tracy, on 07/21/2014

The residents of Bradfield are devastated when their star midfielder dies, the victim of a bizarre, seemingly motiveless murder. 

In a hospital, recovering from injuries, criminal profiler and psychologist Dr. Tony Hill struggles to make sense of the fragments of information he can gather in order to help his ally, Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan, bring a killer to justice. Then an explosion rips through a soccer stadium, leaving dozens dead and many more injured, and Jordan finds herself pushed to the margins of the investigation by the intelligence services. 

Despite the dark places in their relationship, Tony and Carol remain the best hope for uncovering the truth about an ever-increasing series of unspeakable crimes. Are they terrorist attacks, a personal vendetta . . . or something even more sinister?

04. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

Vertigo 42 by Martha Grimes, read by Tracy, on 07/14/2014

In her latest Richard Jury mystery, Martha Grimes delivers the newest addition to the bestselling series The Washington Post calls literate, lyrical, funny, funky, discursive, bizarre. The inimitable Scotland Yard Superintendent returns, now with a tip of the derby to Alfred Hitchcock’sVertigo.

Richard Jury is meeting Tom Williamson at Vertigo 42, a bar on the forty-second floor of an office building in London’s financial district. Despite inconclusive evidence, Tom is convinced his wife, Tess, was murdered seventeen years ago. The inspector in charge of the case was sure Tess’s death was accidental, a direct result of vertigo, but the official police inquiry is still an open verdict and Jury agrees to re-examine the case.

Jury learns that a nine-year-old girl fell to her death five years before Tess at the same country house in Devon where Tess died. The girl had been a guest at a party Tess was giving for six children. Jury seeks out the five surviving party guests, who are now adults, hoping they can shed light on this bizarre coincidence.

Meanwhile, an elegantly dressed woman falls to her death from the tower of a cottage near the pub where Jury and his cronies are dining one night. Then the dead woman’s estranged husband is killed as well. Four deaths, two in the past, two that occur on the pages of this intricate, compelling novel, keep Richard Jury and his sidekick Sergeant Wiggins running from their homes in Islington to the countryside in Devon and to London as they try to figure out if the deaths were accidental or not. And, if they are connected.

Witty, well-written, with literary references from Thomas Hardy to Yeats, Vertigo 42 is a pitch perfect, page-turning novel from a mystery writer at the top of her game.

04. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

Dick Francis's Refusal by Felix Francis, read by Tracy, on 07/07/2014

Six years ago, investigator Sid Halley retired for good. He’d been harassed, beaten, shot, even lost a hand to his investigating business, and enough was enough. For the sake of his wife and new daughter he gave up that life of danger and uncertainty, and he thought nothing would ever lure him back into the game.

He thought wrong. Sir Richard Stewart, chairman of the racing authority, begs Sid to investigate a series of dodgy races. Sid adamantly refuses, but the following day, Sir Richard is found dead under suspicious circumstances. And then a man with an Irish accent contacts Sid, telling him to deliver a whitewashed report about the suspected race-fixing . . . or else.

At first Sid ignores these warnings, knowing that once he submits to this criminal bully, he will forever be under his control. But as the intimidation tactics escalate—and Sid’s own family comes under threat—Sid realizes he must meet his enemy head-on . . . or he might pay the ultimate price for his refusal.

04. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Tracy

Good Dog by Graham Chaffee, read by Tracy, on 07/01/2014

Good Dog marks the welcome return of alternative cartoonist Graham Chaffee, who, after his successful 2003 collection of short stories, The Most Important Thing and other Stories, took a detour to devote himself to the art of tattooing, before charging back with his new, beautifully conceived graphic novel. Ivan, who is plagued by terrible nightmares about chickens and rabbits, is a good dog–if only someone would notice. Readers accompany the stray as he navigates dog society, weathers pack politics, and surveys canine-human interactions. Good Dog’s story and pen-and-ink art are deceptively simple, but Chaffee uses the approachability of the subject matter as a device to explore topics such as independence, security, assimilation, loyalty, and violence. Preteen-and-up dog fanciers, especially, will warm to the well-meaning Ivan and his exploits with a motley assortment of Scotties, Bulldogs, and mutts. Chaffee combines illustrative gravitas with cartooning verve and creates a richly textured, dog’s-eye view of the world. The story is a rousing Jack Londonesque adventure as well as a moral parable.

04. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Paranormal, Teen Books · Tags:

Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks, read by Angie, on 08/02/2014

Maggie is getting ready to start high school. She has been homeschooled and now must make the transition to public school. Her three older brothers are already there. Her dad is the new sheriff and her mom has taken off. And there is a ghost following her around. Maggie finds high school overwhelming and has a hard time making friends. The only people who will hang out with her are a brother/sister pair of punks. They become her group and they go to the movies and hang out. Of course her oldest brother doesn’t approve. Maggie has to navigate the mine field of high school and a home life that isn’t what it used to be. 

I really enjoy this graphic book. I thought Maggie’s experience with high school rang true. High school is overwhelming and scary to a lot of people and Maggie’s reactions completely mirrored that. I also liked the fact that Maggie and her brothers were portrayed very realistically. They fight, they have issues, but they stick together. I thought the ghost storyline was a bit confusing and I am not really sure what its purpose was other than to get Maggie and her friends in trouble. 

04. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Monster in his Eyes by J.M. Darhower, read by Melody, on 08/04/2014

Ignazio Vitale is not a good man.

I suspect it, the first time I see him, sense the air of danger that surrounds the man. He has a way of commanding attention, of taking control, of knowing what I’m thinking before I even do.

It’s alarming and alluring. It’s dark and deadly. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted but the last thing I truly need. Obsession.

It doesn’t take him long to draw me into his web, charming me into his bed and trapping me in his life, a life I know nothing about until it’s too late. He has secrets, secrets I can’t fathom, secrets that make it so I can’t walk away, no matter how much I beg him to let me go. I see it sometimes in his eyes, a darkness that’s both terrifying and thrilling. He’s a monster, wrapped up in a pretty package, and what I find when I unmask him changes everything.

I want to hate him.

Sometimes, I do.

But it doesn’t stop me from loving him, too.

04. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Whisper of warning by Laura Griffin , read by Melody, on 08/03/2014

Courtney Glass has been in trouble all her life, but nothing tops being an up-close witness to a brutal murder. Until she’s accused of the crime. 

Every scrap of evidence points to her guilt, and only Courtney knows what really happened. Now she must prove that she’s not a murderer…but is one of the killer’s intended victims. As police investigators hammer her for answers, Courtney knows she has two choices: run, or trust the brooding, sexy detective who’s made it clear she’s his prime suspect. 

Will Hodges doesn’t need Special Forces training to know that, despite Courtney’s killer looks and razor-sharp tongue, her tough-girl act hides a vulnerable woman with a deadly secret. As the body count rises, Will realizes that a lethal enemy has Courtney in his crosshairs. The killer is waiting, watching her every move — and he won’t stop until her fear has grown from a whisper to a scream.

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

Hot rain by Kat Martin, read by Kim, on 08/03/2014

Allie Parker knows her best friend’s death was no accident, and her quest to find the truth soon puts her in the wrong place — at the worst possible time …

An unwilling passenger on a boat carrying deadly cargo and dangerous men, her only ally is mysterious Jake Dawson, who warns her that she must play the role of his reluctant bedmate … if she wants to stay alive.

Before long, the heat rising between Allie and Jake has drawn them into the heart of the steamy Mexican jungle — and into something deeper than they ever imagined. Now, as Allie places her trust — and herself — in the hands of a total stranger, she wonders if this desperate gamble will be her last.

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

Hard to hold by Stephanie Tyler , read by Kim, on 08/03/2014

Lieutenant Jake Hansen has survived some of the riskiest missions known to man. But now the wounded Navy SEAL faces his toughest job yet: smuggling Dr. Isabelle Markham out of Africa without triggering an international incident. Not easy to do when the gorgeous hostage happens to be a senator’s daughter—and about as easy to resist as an oasis in the desert. 

If it weren’t for Jake, Isabelle would still be halfway across the world, where rebel forces left her for dead. The special ops warrior may have saved her life, but she doesn’t need him to protect her now. Tell that to the ruggedly handsome hunk in full battle fatigues who’s just been assigned as Isabelle’s personal bodyguard. Close quarters aside, Isabelle won’t let Jake anywhere near her heart—until danger throws them together again. And nothing in the jungles of wildest Africa could prepare them for a passion this wild. This crazy. This hot…

04. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Humor, NonFiction · Tags:

Dear Luke, We Need to Talk, Darth: And Other Pop Culture Correspondences by John Moe, read by Brian, on 08/03/2014

dearIt is so hard to write good comedy.  This is why listening to comedians is much better than reading their books.  Listening and watching gives you more insight into the joke. John Moe’s book on pop culture just isn’t funny.  Sometimes being in the right frame of mind helps, so, I will read the book at a later date to see if my opinion changes but for now…..

 

03. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Teen Books · Tags: ,

In Darkness by Nick Lake, read by Angie, on 08/02/2014

In Darkness is the dual tale of Shorty and Toussaint at two pivotal points in the history of Haiti. Shorty is a young gang member who is recovering from a gun shot wound in a hospital when the 2010 earthquake traps him in the rubble. While stuck in the darkness he has visions of Toussaint in the past. Toussaint is the slave who brought freedom to Haiti. He learned from the French Revolution and worked to overthrow the French in Haiti and end slavery. He brought both blacks and whites to his side and even though he was betrayed by Napoleon and died in prison, his vision eventually became a reality. Both men tell their stories in alternating narratives; explaining how they came to the end points of their stories. 

I had a difficult time with this book. I had to actually put the book down and do some research on Haiti, both past and present. I will admit that it is not a country I know much about and I had no idea who the people were that were discussed in the book (Aristide, Dread Wilme, Lavalas). I found Toussaint to be a much more sympathetic character than Shorty; at least he was fighting for a goal whereas Shorty admitted he liked killing people. I think the most disturbing thing about the book was the realistic descriptions of what live in Haiti is like. It truly does seem like hell on earth and the UN doesn’t seem to be doing any good there. Not sure what the situation is like after the earthquake, but I don’t expect it has changed all that much. It is sad when the gangs are the ones caring for the people and the UN is killing the gang bangers which leaves the poor with even less than before. I am not sure about the appeal of this book. I can’t see a lot of teens sticking with it or even picking it up in the first place, but then a lot of award-winning books are like that.

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

The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age by Astra Taylor, read by Madeline, on 07/29/2014

From a cutting-edge cultural commentator, a bold and brilliant challenge to cherished notions of the Internet as the great leveler of our age

The Internet has been hailed as an unprecedented democratizing force, a place where all can be heard and everyone can participate equally. But how true is this claim? In a seminal dismantling of techno-utopian visions, “The People’s Platform” argues that for all that we “tweet” and “like” and “share,” the Internet in fact reflects and amplifies real-world inequities at least as much as it ameliorates them. Online, just as off-line, attention and influence largely accrue to those who already have plenty of both.

What we have seen so far, Astra Taylor says, has been not a revolution but a rearrangement. Although Silicon Valley tycoons have eclipsed Hollywood moguls, a handful of giants like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook remain the gatekeepers. And the worst habits of the old media model–the pressure to seek easy celebrity, to be quick and sensational above all–have proliferated online, where “aggregating” the work of others is the surest way to attract eyeballs and ad revenue. When culture is “free,” creative work has diminishing value, and advertising fuels the system. The new order looks suspiciously like the old one.

We can do better, Taylor insists. The online world does offer a unique opportunity, but a democratic culture that supports diverse voices and work of lasting value will not spring up from technology alone. If we want the Internet to truly be a people’s platform, we will have to make it so.

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

The Code of the Hill by Nancy Allen, read by Madeline, on 07/22/2014

To uncover the truth, she’ll have to break the code of the hills …

In the Missouri Ozarks, some things aren’t talked about … even abuse. But prosecutor Elsie Arnold is determined to change that.

When she is assigned to prosecute a high-profile incest case in which a father is accused of abusing his three young daughters, Elsie is ready to become the Ozarks’ avenging angel.

But as Elsie sinks her teeth into the case, everything begins to turn sour. The star witness goes missing; the girls refuse to talk about their father, who terrorizes the courtroom from the moment he enters; and Elsie begins to suspect that their tough-as-nails mother has ulterior motives. To make matters worse, Elsie receives gruesome threats from local extremists, warning her to mind her own business.

While Elsie swears not to let a sex offender walk, she realizes the odds—and maybe the town—are against her, and her life begins to crumble. But amidst all of the conflict, the safety of three young girls hangs in the balance …

A powerful debut, with the haunting atmosphere of Winter’s Bone and the page-turning suspense of Alafair Burke’s thrillers.

02. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Madeline

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell, read by Madeline, on 07/20/2014

Everyone thinks that Sophie is an orphan. True, there were no other recorded female survivors from the shipwreck which left baby Sophie floating in the English Channel in a cello case, but Sophie remembers seeing her mother wave for help. Her guardian tells her it is almost impossible that her mother is still alive, but that means still possible. You should never ignore a possible. So when the Welfare Agency writes to her guardian threatening to send Sophie to an orphanage, she takes matters into her own hands and flees to Paris to look for her mother, starting with the only clue she has – the address of the cello maker. Evading the French authorities, she meets Matteo and his network of rooftoppers – urchins who live in the sky. Together they scour the city for Sophie’s mother before she is caught and sent back to London, and most importantly before she loses hope.

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

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes, read by Madeline, on 07/17/2014

American audiences have fallen in love with Jojo Moyes. Ever since she debuted stateside, she has captivated readers and reviewers alike, and hit the New York Times bestseller list with the word-of-mouth sensation, Me Before You. Now, with One Plus One, she’s written another contemporary opposites-attract love story that reads like a modern-dayTwo for the Road.
 
Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.
 
One Plus One is Jojo Moyes at her astounding best. You’ll laugh, you’ll weep, and when you flip the last page, you’ll want to start all over again.

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

An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-Year-Old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny by Laura Schroff, Alex Tresniowski, Valerie Salembier, read by Madeline, on 07/14/2014

Stopping was never part of the plan . . . 

She was a successful ad sales rep in Manhattan. He was a homeless, eleven-year-old panhandler on the street. He asked for spare change; she kept walking. But then something stopped her in her tracks, and she went back. And she continued to go back, again and again. They met up nearly every week for years and built an unexpected, life-changing friendship that has today spanned almost three decades. 

Whatever made me notice him on that street corner so many years ago is clearly something that cannot be extinguished, no matter how relentless the forces aligned against it. Some may call it spirit. Some may call it heart. It drew me to him, as if we were bound by some invisible, unbreakable thread. And whatever it is, it binds us still.

02. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Madeline

Bletchley Park: The Code-breakers of Station X by Michael Smith, read by Madeline, on 07/12/2014

‘Station X’ tells the true story, as it has never beeen told before, of the amazing achievements of the codebreakers working at Bletchley Park in the Second World War.

In 1939 several hundred people – students, professors, international chess players, junior military officers, actresses and debutantes – reported to a Victorian mansion in Buckinghamshire: Bletchley Park. This was to be ‘Station X’, the Allies’ top-secret centre for deciphering enemy codes.

Their task was to break the ingenious Enigma cypher used for German high-level communications. The settings for the Enigma machine changed continually and each day the German operators had 159 million million million different possibilities. Yet against all the odds this gifted group achieved the impossible, coping with even greater difficulties to break Shark, the U-Boat Enigma, and Fish, the cypher system used by Hitler to talk to his generals.

‘Sation X’ is also the story of the people involved from leading codebreakers such as Alan Turing, father of the modern computer, to the female operators who intercepted the messages. Through interviews with surviving members of Bletchley Park, Michael Smith has discovered what life was like there. In this chaotic and isolated environment they found time for drama performances, music recitals, orchestras and love affairs.

Not only did these people shorten the war by several years – they were essential to victory in the Atlantic and North Africa and to the masterminding of the D-Day landings – ‘Station X’ was also the birth place of the world’s first programmable computer and the successful Anglo-American intelligence partnership.

02. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Madeline

Warburg in Rome by James Carroll, read by Madeline, on 07/10/2014

David Warburg, newly minted director of the U.S. War Refugee Board, arrives in Rome at war’s end, determined to bring aid to the destitute European Jews streaming into the city. Marguerite d’Erasmo, a French-Italian Red Cross worker with a shadowed past, is initially Warburg’s guide to a complicated Rome; while a charismatic young American Catholic priest, Monsignor Kevin Deane, seems equally committed to aiding Italian Jews. But the city is a labyrinth of desperate fugitives, runaway Nazis, Jewish resisters, and criminal Church figures. Marguerite, caught between justice and revenge, is forced to play a double game. At the center of the maze, Warburg discovers one of history’s great scandals—the Vatican ratline, a clandestine escape route maintained by Church officials and providing scores of Nazi war criminals with secret passage to Argentina. Warburg’s disillusionment is complete when, turning to American intelligence officials, he learns that the dark secret is not so secret, and that even those he trusts may betray him.

James Carroll delivers an authoritative, stirring novel that reckons powerfully with the postwar complexities of good and evil in the Eternal City.

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

I Forgot to Remember by Su Meck, Daniel de Vise, read by Madeline, on 07/07/2014

In 1988 Su Meck was twenty-two and married with two children when a ceiling fan in her kitchen fell and struck her on the head, leaving her with a traumatic brain injury that erased all her memories of her life up to that point. Although her body healed rapidly, her memories never returned. 

Yet after just three weeks in the hospital, Su was released and once again charged with the care of two toddlers and a busy household. Adrift in a world about which she understood almost nothing, Su became an adept mimic, gradually creating routines and rituals that sheltered her and her family, however narrowly, from the near-daily threat of disaster, or so she thought. Though Su would eventually relearn to tie her shoes, cook a meal, and read and write, nearly twenty years would pass before a series of personally devastating events shattered the normal life she had worked so hard to build, and she realized that she would have to grow up all over again.

In her own indelible voice, Su offers us a view from the inside of a terrible injury, with the hope that her story will help give other brain injury sufferers and their families the resolve and courage to build their lives anew. Piercing, heartbreaking, but finally uplifting, this book is the true story of a woman determined to live life on her own terms.

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

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh, read by Madeline, on 07/05/2014

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.