11. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags: ,

Dragon Strike: Book 4 in the Age of Fire series by E. E. Knight., 353 pages, read by Kira, on 01/10/2015

index age_of_fire_dragon_trio_by_isvoc-d7zqvk5.png   map3_borders_smallHere the tale of the 3 dragon siblings merges together again.2816715wistala_by_3l3ctr0head-d46r954  It is nice to see the 3rd sibling, the crippled one, depicted as such a great leader.

09. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Humor, Informational Book, NonFiction

I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks by Gina Sheridan, 157 pages, read by Angie, on 01/08/2015

Ahh, the joys of working in a public library. You just never know what kind of crazy, sweet, angry, beautiful people you are going to encounter day to day. Gina Sheridan has collected stories about her experiences working in the library in this little gem of a book. I really enjoyed the fact that she categorized the stories by the Dewey Decimal System. While my experiences are not the same as Sheridan’s I can definitely relate to them. Public libraries are open to the public and that just means anyone and everyone can be there. Some days are a delight when you find the right book for a patron or help them with a sticky problem. Other days are a chore when you get yelled at or sneezed on or have to deal with too many frustrating situations. Each day is different and makes coming to work interesting.

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

Ruin Book 3 by Deborah Bladon, 85 pages, read by Jessica, on 01/08/2015

A1LFAAIF2nL._SL1500_Kayla Monroe felt safe in the arms of Dr. Ben Foster. He was helping her move past a broken heart and she was guiding him towards a reclaimed relationship with the brother he’d lost years ago. Their bond was unique, strong and bordering on a love that would change them both forever.

Then Kayla found herself thrust into the middle of a triangle she wanted no part of. She heard things that altered her reality completely. There’s no one for her to rely on but herself and she has to decide whether a familiar voice from the past holds more weight than the promise of a future she can’t quite grasp yet.

Trusting her heart has never been easy for Kayla. Trusting others has never been easy for Ben. Together they have to determine whether the sins of the past are too much to bear or whether a connection that is undeniable is worth the risk.

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

Ruin Book 2 by Deborah Bladon, 81 pages, read by Jessica, on 01/08/2015

91pGKl1ShXL._SL1500_Kayla Monroe had fallen hard and fast for Dr. Ben Foster. He was everything she needed and wanted after being dumped by the man she thought she loved. What started as a one night stand quickly turned into a blossoming relationship. Then the complications of his youth halt everything in its tracks.

The voices around her are telling Kayla that Ben isn’t the man she thinks he is but her heart is telling her something completely different. She’s drawn to him like a moth to a flame and as she listens as he explains his past, she sees the promise of a future with him that she desperately wants.

She’s the thread that will weave a path for Ben back into the family he has lost. She senses it and as she takes on the task of releasing him from his burdens, she discovers that the man she has been sharing her bed with is, more complicated than she ever imagined.

Just as Kayla is about to step into her future with Ben, she ends up in a place where she’s forced to accept a truth that she never knew existed.

08. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Graphic Novel

Snapshot by Jock, Andy Diggle, 104 pages, read by Courtney, on 12/17/2015

Jake Dobson is your typical nerd; works at the Near-Mint Rhino comic-book store in San Francisco. But when he finds a lost cell phone, he’s horrified to discover it’s full of snapshots of a murder victim. Suddenly he finds himself hunted by a vengeful hitman who wants his phone back… and Jake in a body bag! And then things start to get *really* complicated.

Description from Goodreads

08. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin, 256 pages, read by Courtney, on 12/20/2015

Addison was the most promising artist of her generation. Her death, a fall from a bridge, is a crushing blow to everyone who knew her. The prologue explains that the author, Griffin, was intrigued by Addison and thus began interviewing a wide variety of friends, family, exes, teachers, family acquaintances, etc. to gain a better understanding of who Addison was and what led to her death. Did she slip and fall? Was it intentional on her behalf? Did someone want her dead? Accounts of Addison vary depending on who is being asked, though everyone seems to agree that she was a phenomenal artist with some serious mental health issues. The narrative of the book is entirely commentary from the people in Addison’s life and begins more or less at the beginning with Addison’s early elementary school years. Also included are examples of Addison’s artwork and photos of Addison throughout her life.
We may never really know what caused Addison’s fatal slip, but we do get a much better idea of who she was and what brought her up on that bridge. Addison comes across as the quintessential “manic-pixie-dream-girl”. Everyone seems to want to know her, but she’s frequently aloof. Her art is clearly the most important part of her life, so much so that people, even those she cares about, come in at a distant second. Those who don’t like her come across as jealous of her magnetism and talent. She was clearly not the easiest person to be friends with; being her friend involved a lot of work.
I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I don’t really get into books that have this many different narrators. It’s incredibly difficult for me to warm up to any of the peripheral characters as we only know them through their relation to Addison and not on their own terms. While I felt like I learned a lot about Addison, I never felt like I knew her as a person, which was likely the intent. This is, however, an interesting experiment in form. There were a lot of themes at play here: the cult of celebrity, the connection between mental illness and creative genius, the effects of being precocious in a city like New York… As a thought experiment, the novel works, but I didn’t really love it.

08. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Graphic Novel

FBP Vol. 2: Wish You Were Here by Simon Oliver, 144 pages, read by Courtney, on 12/14/2015

The mind-bending science fiction series FBP returns to the strange phenomena all over the world-and beyond.

Federal Bureau of Physics agents Rosa and Adam are invited to take part in an experiment that will test their limits and blur their concept of reality. And after a beautiful moment is shattered, Rosa and Adam get to see firsthand why Nakeet is known as the strangest town north of the 48.

Description from Goodreads

08. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon, 336 pages, read by Courtney, on 12/13/2015

It began as a day much like any other. Tariq Johnson was walking home after a trip to the local market, something he had done dozens of times before. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a car pulls up. A white man gets out of the car and shoots Tariq. Tariq is dead by the time the EMTs arrive. The community, which is predominantly black, is thrown into an uproar. Violence is nothing new to the gang-ridden neighborhood, but this shooting is different. Tariq was only 16 years old and he was, by many accounts, unarmed. As the news picks up the story, it becomes apparent that this act of violence was about far more than just the two individuals involved. The incident quickly becomes national news and the lives of everyone connected with Tariq and his shooter are changed forever.
Tariq’s story is told from multiple perspectives, including his best friend, his family members, old friends, local gang members, the store clerk, the shooter’s friend who lives down the street, the girl who tried to give Tariq CPR…the list goes on. There’s even an Al Sharpton-type character in the mix. It becomes abundantly clear from early on that the narrative of the day’s events shifts significantly depending on who is doing the talking. The gang members want to believe that Tariq did have a gun and that he was planning on joining up with them, so his death signals an act of war to them. Tariq’s best friend wasn’t there, but can’t wrap his head around the idea of Tariq carrying a gun. The friend of the shooter swore up and down that he saw a gun in Tariq’s hand. Others are sure they didn’t see a gun; that Tariq had a Snickers bar in his hand instead. How It Went Down certainly feels timely and does much to emphasize patterns of racism, both conscious and subconscious. As with many other incidents like this (that were not captured on film), what actually happened is difficult to discern. Each narrator has a very specific point of view shaped by their perceptions not only of Tariq himself, but of the neighborhood and the stereotypes associated with young black men in living in poor areas like Tariq’s. Ultimately, there are only two people who have any real answers – the shooter and the shot- and neither one is talking. This is a great novel to teach the ways in which our preconceived notions can shape our interpretation of events, but it’s not the most literary of novels out there. It’s an important read, but only if the reader is willing and able to sort through a very large number of narrators only to find that there aren’t any “real” answers. In the end, I felt that it might have been better to develop fewer characters rather than confuse the issue further with so many individual points of view.

08. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, NonFiction, Teen Books

Girls Standing On Lawns by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman, 64 pages, read by Courtney, on 12/13/2015

This charming little book is a three-way collaboration amongst artist Maira Kalman, writer Daniel Handler and the Museum of Modern Art. The theme is, obviously, “girls standing on lawns” and is illustrated by Handler’s poetic interludes, Kalman’s paintings and photographs of girls who are, quite literally, standing on lawns. Just about everyone who grew up in a household with a camera has one or more pictures of themselves in just such a setting. I know that I personally have many pictures of myself standing on a lawn (first days of school, school dances, etc.), as do my mother and her mother. These particular photos are all from a more distant past, largely the ’30s-’50s. Kalman’s paintings are her own take on some of the photos (the originals of which appear in the back of the book).
A very fast read, Girls Standing on Lawns is an interesting experiment in form. The short vignettes of text evoke a sense of potentiality for the girls in the photos. These girls are going somewhere, preparing for something – just as any of us would have been in our pictures. We don’t know who the girls are or where they’re from, but these snapshots into their lives reveal intriguing bits of personality and remind us of ourselves. Notes from the collaborators and credits for the artwork follow the main text.

08. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Graphic Novel

Hansel and Gretel by Neil Gaiman, 56 pages, read by Courtney, on 12/08/2015

  How well do you remember the tale of Hansel and Gretel? I thought I recalled it pretty well, but then I read Gaiman’s version and realized how much of it had slipped my memory. I won’t likely forget how the story played out again though, because Gaiman’s take on it is exceedingly memorable. It’s one of the traditional variations on the tale, which are all fairly creepy to begin with, but the addition of Lorenzo Mattatti’s chilling black-and-white painted scenes add an even more ominous tone. Blurbs on the cover describe this as a “definitive” rendition, an assessment I can’t find any fault with. Notes at the end of this slim volume tell readers about the history of this classic tale, as well as some of the variations in the narration.
08. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Courtney, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Hinterkind Vol. 1 by Ian Edginton, 144 pages, read by Courtney, on 12/08/2015

In this post-apocalyptic wasteland, humanity has been stricken by a terrible and virulent virus. The remaining humans live in isolated pockets. When a group living in Manhattan loses contact with a group from Albany, a search and rescue party is sent out to see what the trouble is. Turns out that the the rest of the world is populated with fairies, trolls, and a wide variety of other “monsters” previously thought to belong solely to the realm of fiction. With humanity in decline, these creatures can now take back the land that they once ruled.
Considering all the one- and two-star ratings for this book, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t, you know, terrible. It wasn’t all that great either. I really wanted to like the comic that was billed as “Fables meets Walking Dead”. While that’s not entirely inaccurate, it also sets a pretty high bar that this comic ultimately can’t reach. The characters are hit or miss and the transitions between storylines are abrupt, even jarring. The artwork leaves a bit to be desired, but it’s not as bad as other reviewers on here make it out to be. All in all, it’s a clever premise with mediocre execution.

08. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Teen Books

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde, 287 pages, read by Courtney, on 12/08/2015

Once upon a time, magic ruled the world. Now, however, magic is fading and is used more for unclogging drains than battling evil. Jennifer Strange works at Kazam, an employment agency for magicians. She herself is not magical, but she has a certain knack for managing magical people. Things are getting strange though. Feats of magic that shouldn’t have been possible are being accomplished and Jennifer is having some very strange visions. These visions indicate that Big Magic is coming, which will either re-infuse the world with magic or wipe it out all together. It all hinges on the last dragon and the last Dragonslayer. Dragons have been living on their own lands for centuries, in accordance with the Dragonpact. Unless a dragon breaks the pact by causing damage to human life or property, they cannot be slain. If however, they do happen to break the pact, only the Dragonslayer can cross into their territory to kill the dragon. Imagine Jennifer’s surprise when she is told that she is now the last Dragonslayer. Everyone wants her to kill the dragon, but the pact hasn’t been broken for as long as anyone can remember and Jennifer can find no good reason to take the dragon’s life. In fact, the dragon appears quite amicable, if a bit lonely. What’s a girl and her Quarkbeast to do?
The Last Dragonslayer starts off slow, but winds up wonderful. There’s a lot of clever stuff going on here. The world is very much like ours, but with magic. For instance, as the world finds out that Jennifer is the last Dragonslayer, she finds herself inundated with endorsement offers from soft drink companies and marriage proposals from random suitors. The public has gathered at the border of the dragon’s land with the intention of staking a claim on some of the land that will be freed up upon the dragon’s death (for now, crossing the border for anyone other than the dragonslayer and those working for him/her means certain death). Much of the action is informed by the motivations that drive real life people – greed, jealousy, etc. This provides fertile ground for Fforde’s brand of satirical humor. An unexpected ending makes for a delightful and mostly self-contained read, though there are now three books in this series. I read this one with my middle-schoolers for this month’s book club. They all loved it, but agreed that it took some time to get into. Also, we all loved, loved, loved the Quarkbeast. It takes a certain amount of talent to create a character that is described as terrifying to behold but utterly endearing to read about and says only one thing: “Quark.” You know you’ve found a book that your tweens love when they make plans to walk around saying “Quark” at their upcoming orchestra concert.
08. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books

Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho, 366 pages, read by Courtney, on 12/05/2015

Althea and Oliver have been best friends ever since Althea moved in down the street from Oliver at the tender young age of six. Now in their senior year of high school, they are still inseparable, but complications are arising in their usually-easy friendship. Althea is starting to develop a romantic interest in Oliver. Oliver, while not adverse to the prospect of advancing his relationship with Althea, is busy dealing with a strange illness that causes him to fall asleep for weeks, even months, on end. Althea has been helping him through many of his episodes, but finds herself flailing in the meantime. She literally doesn’t know how to live her life without Oliver by her side. Oliver, on the other hand, is profoundly disturbed by the fact that he is missing vast chunks of his life. Even when he wakes up in the midst of a sleeping episode, he has no recollection of what has happened during his semi-conscious state. Right before one of Oliver’s episodes, he and Althea finally become physical. Then, of course, he loses consciousness and they are unable to even discuss what has just happened or what the next step will be. While Oliver is out, Althea does something that she knows she will regret, something that might ruin her relationship with Oliver forever. When Oliver eventually finds out, he is furious and attempts to cut Althea out of his life altogether. He decides to participate in a two-month sleep study in New York for those who have the same disease: Kleine Levin Syndrome, or KLS. When Althea figures out that Oliver has left town, she packs up her old Camry and heads off to New York to apologize and attempt to salvage her friendship.
Althea and Oliver’s story is completely unique. It’s easy to go into this book thinking that you know where it will end up, but this story never seems to go quite where you think it will. It’s not exactly a romance or a love story, but there’s a ton of heart. Althea isn’t always the most likeable of characters, but she’s absolutely relatable and her growth as a person is one of the highlights of this fantastic novel. Oliver’s development comes in fits and spurts, as could be expected for someone who literally loses months of his life at a time. The impact that Oliver’s illness has on Althea is almost as heartbreaking as its effect on Oliver, though I would hesitate to say that the novel is about Oliver’s KLS. In fact, it takes over half of the book to even get Oliver to the sleep study. In the meantime, Althea is learning to live her life on her own terms and not as Oliver’s counterpart. In New York, she makes friends of her own for the first time in her life and begins to realize that it might be possible for her to exist outside of Oliver’s shadow. Oliver begins to learn how to move forward in spite of an exceedingly uncertain future. Moracho takes some major risks with both of these characters, but they come out all the more realistic for it. Nothing is sugar-coated here. Althea and Oliver’s relationship is consuming, messy and complicated, much like real-life. Their story is simultaneously a train-wreck and a heartfelt bildungsroman. It’s not for every reader, but for the right readers, it’s utterly perfect.

08. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Horror, Paranormal, Teen Books

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, 419 pages, read by Courtney, on 12/01/2015

Tana didn’t want to go to the party in the first place, especially since there was a really good chance of running into her ex, Aiden. When she wakes up in the tub the morning after the party, she’s more than a little embarrassed. Embarrassment, however, turns to horror as she walks out of the bathroom to discover that everyone who had been at the party with her is now dead; their blood soaking into the carpets. The only other survivors are the ex that she didn’t want to see in the first place and a trussed-up vampire. Realizing that what killed her friends is likely still around the house, she begins to panic. Fortunately for Aiden and Gavriel (the bound-up vampire), Tana can’t stomach the idea of leaving them to a similar violent fate and helps them escape from the house. The only place she can think of to go to is the nearby Coldtown, a quarantined area for vampires and those who are obsessed with vampires. It is obvious that Aiden has been bitten, so he’ll need to go to the Coldtown for sure. Tana gets scraped by a vampire’s tooth and might have gone “cold” (infected with whatever it is that causes vampirism) as well. The vampire Gavriel? Well, no one really seems to know where he came from, but it would appear that someone is out to kill him and he seems like a nice, albeit odd, fellow, so why not help him? The strange trio makes their way to Coldtown, but not without some difficulty along the way. Things in Coldtown aren’t likely to be any easier, but at least if Tana goes cold while she’s there, she won’t be worried about accidentally killing her father or little sister.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a ton of fun and a smart spin on the vampire genre. This is a world where vampires are known to exist and Coldtowns have cropped up all over the place in an effort to contain them. Since vampires aren’t allowed to leave a Coldtown, they’ve turned them into a giant, nocturnal party scene. Live streams and vlogs keep the general public intrigued by showcasing the most decadent of their parties while the humans who have chosen to live in Coldtowns willingly offer up their blood to feed their vampire hosts. Tana’s journey is a bloody and dangerous one. She has no desire to become a vampire; honestly, she just wants her life to get back to normal. Or what passes for normal for a girl who is now motherless thanks to a rogue vampire. There’s a surprising amount of character development for a person in Tana’s position, which is another refreshing change of pace in this novel. Other characters are diverse and well-written. The story moves fast and it’s not even a series, so there’s really no reason not to spend a bit of time with this one. It doesn’t even matter if you’re still burnt out on the relatively recent glut of vampire novels; this one’s a winner.

08. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody K, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

A Breath Away by Rita Herron, 376 pages, read by Melody, on 01/07/2015

Ever since Violet Baker’s childhood companion was brutally murdered, she’s been plagued with visions of the girl’s last hours. Now, on the twentieth anniversary of Darlene’s death, Violet’s father is found dead, a note beside him confessing to the murder. But something doesn’t feelright, and Violet returns to Crow’s Landing looking for answers.

Facing the judgmental town as a murderer’s daughter is difficult enough, but with the scalding tension between her and Sheriff Grady Monroe, Darlene’s half brother, is worse. As the two of them race to unravel the mystery, it quickly becomes clear that Violet is in grave danger…and Grady suddenly knows that he’ll do anything to protect her, no matter what the cost…

Description from Goodreads.com

08. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, History, NonFiction · Tags: ,

Irish Witchcraft and Demonology by John D. Seymour, 256 pages, read by Brian, on 01/08/2015

irishThis is a fascinating book.  Seymour documents different people who were known for their witchcraft or people thought they were practicing.  He explores the history of when witchcraft first appeared in Ireland.  Fascinating to some people and maybe a bore to others.

 

08. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Ruin Book 1 by Deborah Bladon, 87 pages, read by Jessica, on 01/07/2015

91QQN7zT5zL._SL1500_Sitting next to a stranger on a flight from Boston to New York City alters the entire course of Kayla Monroe’s life. In her quest to escape the pain of rejection she jumps into the bed of an irresistible man who offers her a night that she’ll never forget.

Their connection is fierce and undeniable. When their paths cross again, a twist of fate brings her to the realization that the man she’s using to mend her broken heart is Dr. Ben Foster, a compassionate and respected physician.

Warnings about his past threaten Kayla’s future. She knows she should believe the rumors, but the moments she spends in his arms, and in his bed, wash away any doubt in her mind.

She sees a future with Ben but those closest to her won’t let her forget that the man she’s falling for has left a path of ruin in his wake that may impact her in a way she never saw coming.

08. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Sarah

Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George, 212 pages, read by Sarah, on 01/05/2015

This delightful book is the third in a series about the Castle Glower.  Princess Celie and a few others were sent to where the castle came from originally and find 2 wizards, more griffins, and a tomb of the master builder of the castle.  This is an exciting book that will keep you guessing.  Only problem was I should have re-read the series before picking this one up!  Took a little bit to remember who everyone was.  Enjoy.

08. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Cats, Fiction, Katy · Tags:

Diary of a cat : true confessions and lifelong observations of a well-adjusted house cat by Leigh W. Rutledge, 176 pages, read by Katy, on 12/31/2014

s4262071If cats could talk, here’s what they would say — if they felt like it. Leigh Rutledge (acclaimed by everyone from “Dear Abby” to People magazine as the writer who best understands the feline perspective) presents a cat’s very own diary that reveals the intimate secrets and private reflections of a neighborhood tom. Day by day through a full year, readers will discover just what a cat is thinking when it stares for hours at a speck on the wall; how it feels about a new kitten in the house; why sleeping — preferably in a warn, sunny spot — is such a vital activity; and just what can happen to an unattended Thanksgiving turkey. Along with these playful moments, readers will meet a delightful cast of human characters whose lives are touched by these sleek and special creatures. Diary of a Cat will charm and delight anyone who has ever been enchanted by a feline friend.

From www.goodreads.com. 

07. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Frostborn by Lou Anders, 352 pages, read by Angie, on 01/06/2015

Thianna is half giant half human and doesn’t feel like she fits in with her giant family. She is picked on because she is only seven feet tall instead of the normal 18 feet. Because of this she has become stronger and more sneaky than a regular giant. Karn is a twelve-year-old human who just wants to play his Thrones and Bones board game. He doesn’t want to learn to run the farm like his father, he doesn’t want to learn to barter or do anything. Thianna and Karn meet when their fathers gather to trade. Soon after they both end up on the run and relying on each other for survival. Karn is tricked by his greedy uncle into releasing draugs (zombies) which ends up with his father being turned to stone and his uncle in control of the farm. Thianna is being pursued by three women on wyverns who are after something her mother stole. Their journey across the country brings them closer together and makes them realize just how strong they really are. Karn learns that the strategy he employs playing Thrones and Bones can be used in real life. Thianna learns that her mixed heritage comes in handy in many ways. Together they must find a way to defeat their enemies and save their families.

I had really low expectations for this book (not sure why) when I started it. Those expectations were quickly blown away by the extremely interesting world Lou Anders has created. I loved the mixture of fantasy elements and Scandinavian history. I also really enjoyed Thianna’s character. She is such a strong female who takes pride in her strength and resilience. Karn took a little while to grow on me. I wanted him to look up from his board game long before he did, but he too became a strong character to cheer for. It was a fun story and I look forward to the sequel.