05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction · Tags:

Lost in Bermooda by Mike Litwin, 140 pages, read by Angie, on 12/03/2014

Chuck Porter wants nothing more than adventure. Unfortunately, his island home of Bermooda offers none. The hu’mans are gone and all the treasures from their time in the world are collected. Then he finds Dakota marooned on a sandbar. Dakota is one of the dreaded hu’mans. Chuck is determined to help his new friend so he disguises him as a cow, one from the sea, and brings him home as a guest. Everything is not alright on Bermooda however and it is up to Chuck and Dakota to figure it out and stop it before it is too late. This was a really cute beginning chapter book. It will be a nice transition series between easy readers and more complex chapter books.

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books · Tags:

Blue Lily, Lily Blue Book 3 of the Raven Boys Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, 391 pages, read by Kira, on 12/01/2014

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Maggie Stiefvater hits another out of the stadium!  Wow, this book is so much better than the last title I read by Stiefvater – that being Sinner.  Stiefvater creates so much atmosphere and the setting itself is sort of alive.

Blue’s mother, Maura, is missing, she went underground looking for Artemis (Blue’s father), but hasn’t returned for weeks.  The Professor from Britain, whom Gansey studied with, has joined the boys on their hu
nt for Glendower.  Gray Man’s boss, Greenmantle comes to town, along with his wife Piper, looking for vengeance against Gray abandoning the job he was supposed to complete for him (in the last book).  Adam and Ronan work together on a project.  And where is Neve?

I thought this might be the conclusion to the series, however, the epilogue lets you know differently.  I’m so glad there will be more to this series!

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04. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Noelle

Wonder by R.J. Palacio, 315 pages, read by Noelle, on 12/02/2014

I wanted to see what all the hype was about this book, and I was certainly not disappointed.  It is now one of my all time favorite chapter books!  If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it.

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid–but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

“Wonder is the best kids’ book of the year,” said Emily Bazelon, senior editor at Slate.com and author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” –indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

04. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Children's Books, Fiction, Noelle · Tags:

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, 305 pages, read by Noelle, on 12/03/2014

This was one of those children’s books I meant to read when it came out, and just hadn’t gotten around to it.  In enjoyed it, but be warned:  if your heart is tender towards animals, be prepared to shed a few tears with this one!

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home–and his own art–through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.

04. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Marie Antoinette Serial Killer by Katie Alender, 296 pages, read by Leslie, on 11/30/2014

16139598 Colette Iselin is excited to go to Paris on a class trip. She’ll get to soak up the beauty and culture, and maybe even learn something about her family’s French roots.

But a series of gruesome murders are taking place across the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours museums and palaces, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks suspiciously like Marie Antoinette.

Colette knows her popular, status-obsessed friends won’t believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they uncover a shocking secret involving a dark, hidden history. When Colette realizes she herself may hold the key to the mystery, her own life is suddenly in danger . . .

I enjoyed this story more than I thought I might.  A definite first for me, bringing back the ghost of a queen to take revenge on the descendants of those she thought of as friends.  While they did not exist in her real life, it makes for a great storyline.  Definitely will appeal to girls more than it will to boys, not enough blood and gore to make up for the definite female storyline!

04. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie

Sidekicked by John David Anderson, 384 pages, read by Leslie, on 11/24/2014

16248141 Andrew Bean might be a part of H.E.R.O., a secret organization for the training of superhero sidekicks, but that doesn’t mean that life is all leaping tall buildings in single bounds. First, there’s Drew’s power: Possessed of super senses – his hearing, sight, taste, touch, and smell are the most powerful on the planet – he’s literally the most sensitive kid in school. There’s his superhero mentor, a former legend who now spends more time straddling barstools than he does fighting crime. And then there’s his best friend, Jenna – their friendship would be complicated enough if she weren’t able to throw a Volkswagen the length of a city block. Add in trying to keep his sidekick life a secret from everyone, including his parents, and the truth is clear: Middle school is a drag even with superpowers.

Of all the superpowers you could ask for, enhanced senses would not be among them.  Drew not only has, in his opinion, the worst superpower you could ask for, but he finds himself assigned to be the sidekick of a super hero who no longer wants to be a super hero.  He and his friends are all sidekicks for super heroes, and they train at school in a secret basement during lunch periods.  Their city seems to be a magnet for evil super powers and it’s up to him and his friends to try and figure out what is going on.  However, there is a traitor in their midst and none of them are safe.  I can see that boys might find this appealing more than girls, but there is plenty of attraction for the girls to pick this up and read it.

03. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Inhuman by Kat Falls, 375 pages, read by Leslie, on 11/16/2014

13517617 America has been ravaged by a war that has left the eastern half of the country riddled with mutation. Many of the people there exhibit varying degrees of animal traits. Even the plantlife has gone feral.

Crossing from west to east is supposed to be forbidden, but sometimes it’s necessary. Some enter the Savage Zone to provide humanitarian relief. Sixteen-year-old Lane’s father goes there to retrieve lost artifacts—he is a Fetch. It’s a dangerous life, but rewarding—until he’s caught.

Desperate to save her father, Lane agrees to complete his latest job. That means leaving behind her life of comfort and risking life and limb—and her very DNA—in the Savage Zone. But she’s not alone. In order to complete her objective, Lane strikes a deal with handsome, roguish Rafe. In exchange for his help as a guide, Lane is supposed to sneak him back west. But though Rafe doesn’t exhibit any signs of “manimal” mutation, he’s hardly civilized . . . and he may not be trustworthy.

Lane is a typical teenage girl, lots of friends, worried about school and peer pressure.  She and her friends don’t think too much about what’s on the other side of the wall that surrounds their half of the country, but when she is arrested after helping her friends send a drone camera over the wall, she thinks, she learns more about the other side than she ever thought she would.  All her life, her father has trained her how to survive, without explaining why.  After being told that he has been arrested for going through the wall and given the option to go on a mission to save him, she knows why she was trained.  Things are not as she imagined on the other side of the country and she finds herself torn between two boys, one with connections and one with street smarts.  A good start to a series, both boys and girls will find themselves enjoying this story.

03. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Rapunzel Untangled by Cindy C. Bennett, 294 pages, read by Leslie, on 11/06/2014

16225157 For one thing, she has a serious illness that keeps her inside the mysterious Gothel Mansion. And for another, her hair is 15 feet long. Not to mention that she’s also the key to ultimately saving the world from certain destruction. But then she meets a boy named Fane, who changes all she has ever known, and she decides to risk everything familiar to find out who she really is.

In this Rapunzel story, the author approaches it as if there was never a fairy tale, at least from the characters’ view.  Rapunzel has the long hair, she is kept isolated from the world, and she is, unknown to her, a kidnap victim.  Rapunzel is home schooled because of a supposed illness, but she has the Internet to connect herself to the outside world.  She finds herself investigating FaceBook and ends up friending Fane, a boy her own age.  Without any friends, this proves too tempting to her to resist.  As Rapunzel begins to question her loneliness and her life up to this point, she learns more about her mother than she could have ever imagined.  After a while, her luck in keeping her mother in the dark, runs out.

A definite winner for girls to read, it is different enough to keep the reader engrossed.  A good read to recommend.

03. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Tandem by Anna Jarzab, 431 pages, read by Leslie, on 11/01/2014

15829686  Sixteen-year-old Sasha Lawson has only ever known one small, ordinary life. When she was young, she loved her grandfather’s stories of parallel worlds inhabited by girls who looked like her but led totally different lives. Sasha never believed such worlds were real–until now, when she finds herself thrust into one against her will.

If you’ve ever spent time wondering if there was a parallel universe and you might have a better life, this might be the book for you.  Sasha is taken to a universe that isn’t quite the same as the one she lives in.  She is a match in looks to a princess in this other world, but it’s nothing like she could have imagined.  Sasha spends a lot of time trying to figure out how to get home again but finds herself caring for some of the people she meets, including the boy who kidnapped her.  A thoroughly enjoyable story, very imaginative and appealing.

03. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Fleabrain Loves Franny by Joanne Rocklin, 288 pages, read by Angie, on 12/02/2014

It is 1952, the height of the polio epidemic, Franny is 11-years-old and suffering from polio. She is confined to a wheelchair and all her friends have abandoned her. She is bored and lonely and frustrated until she starts receiving notes from Fleabrain. Fleabrain is the only surviving flea on Alf the dog. He is super intellectual and a voracious reader. Fleabrain becomes Franny’s only source of entertainment during her recovery. Fleabrain also has magical powers and is able to shrink Franny or take her around the world during the night.

This was probably one of the worst books I have read in a long time. I pretty much disliked the story from the beginning. I kept waiting for the Fleabrain storyline to be part of a dream or Franny’s imagination or something. The fact that it was treated as real just made the story so very unbelievable. I think a book about a young girl suffering from polio and everything she had to deal with would have been really interesting on its own and something we haven’t really seen in middle grade fiction. However, the entire flea storyline just ruined the entire book.

02. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Kristy, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Specials by Scott Westerfeld , 384 pages, read by Kristy, on 11/28/2014

24765I greatly enjoyed the last book in the Uglies Trilogy. I love how Tally transforms in each book, and seeing her as a fierce and beautiful Special was intriguing. The end of the book wrapped up the series quite nicely. I can’t believe I waited so long to read these books! They are definitely one of my favorite dystopian series to date.

02. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, NonFiction, Paula

Heath Ledger Hollywood's Dark Star by Brian Bobb, 207 pages, read by Paula, on 11/30/2014

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Heath Ledger was one of the most charismatic actors of his generation. After establishing a high-profile Hollywood career at the age of 21 with the lead in A Knight’s Tale, Ledger pursued a series of increasingly diverse, often subversive roles that belied his image as a teen idol. Edgier films such as Monster’s Ball gave tantalizing hints of his talent, but it wasn’t until Brokeback Mountain that he proved beyond question the full extent of his abilities. His sudden death rocked the film industry and threw a poignant shadow over the body of work that has now become his legacy. Here, Brian J. Robb explores Ledger’s relationships with actresses Michelle Williams, Naomi Watts, and Heather Graham, recounts the making of Brokeback Mountain and the film’s impact, and charts Ledger’s increasingly troubled state of mind. Heath Ledger: Hollywood’s Dark Star paints a memorable portrait of a compelling and intense young man whose loss will be felt for years to come.

Heath Ledger is far and away my favorite actor of his generation.  I was devastated when he died almost 7 years ago.  I still cry when I think about it.  An amazing talent gone far too soon.

01. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

Cookie Dough or Die by Virginia Lowell, 295 pages, read by Tracy, on 11/28/2014

Olivia Greyson is the proud owner of The Gingerbread House—a quaint shop that specializes in all things cookie—and her best friend, Maddie, is her sidekick, baking up scrumptious treats for their cookie-themed parties. But now they must take a break from baking and turn their attention to recreating a recipe for murder…

No one is more shocked than Olivia when prominent business owner Clarisse Chamberlain is found dead. It was Clarisse who encouraged Olivia to open The Gingerbread House—and she was one of her best customers. The sheriff is ready to call the case a suicide, but Olivia’s convinced there’s a murder to solve.

Then word spreads that Clarisse left Olivia a large sum of money, along with a collection of valuable, antique cookie cutters. Suddenly, Olivia is the prime suspect, with some fingers pointing to Maddie when the local postman falls ill after sampling one of their cookies. If the cookie-loving duo doesn’t find the real killer, their reputation—and quite possibly their lives—will be battered for good…

01. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: How To's, Informational Book, NonFiction, Tracy · Tags:

Tricks and Games to teach your dog by Sophie Collins, Suellen Dainty, 192 pages, read by Tracy, on 11/20/2014

Who doesn’t want to spend more time playing?! Tricks and Games to Teach Your Dog is the how-to book for dog owners looking to improve their “fun factor” in their dogs’ eyes. Author Sophie Collins, assisted by Suellen Dainty, promise that any owner of a dog—no matter what age, breed, activity level, size or personality—can transform his pooch into an accomplished performer in brief daily five-minute training sessions. In all, the book offers 80 tricks and games, from the tried-and-true rainy-day tricks like “roll over” and “play dead” to out-of-the-box surprises like “lion tamer” and the “commando crawl.” Fully illustrated with color photographs and drawings, Tricks and Games to Teach Your Dog serves as a game plan for busy owners who wish to spend more quality time with their dogs, engaging them in educational games to improve their obedience skills while deepening the dogs’ bonds with their owners. Readers can teach their dogs helpful household tasks, such as the “laundry service,” “fetch my keys” and “answer the door,” as well as games that expand their repertory of manners, such as “say please,” “learning a ‘stop’ signal,” and “dinner time.” The authors emphasize the importance of safety in teaching tricks and games and caution owners to only work with safe objects when teaching fetching or finding games. The book is filled with practical training tips that owners can use throughout their dogs’ lives. Once an owner is confident and aware of his own technique, he will be better prepared to give the dog specific direction and not confuse the dog by giving false cues or misusing body language, tone of voice or hand signals. The level of difficulty in the lessons range from the simplest (“high five” and “stand ten”) to more challenging tricks like “shut the door,” “push the ball” and “freeze.” The unmistakable focus of the book is fun and activity, and no dog (or owner) ever wants to lead a dull, boring existence. To that end, the authors discuss some great fun outings to bring an owner’s play sessions with his dog to an all-time high: camping, volleyball, biking and hiking for starters. And for really adventurous overachievers, the authors provide a brief introduction to the ever-popular obstacle-course sport known as dog agility.

01. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy · Tags:

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, 560 pages, read by Tracy, on 11/15/2014

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

01. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Horror, Tracy

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin, 334 pages, read by Tracy, on 11/10/2014

When struggling riverboat captain Abner Marsh receives an offer of partnership from a wealthy aristocrat, he suspects something’s amiss. But when he meets the hauntingly pale, steely-eyed Joshua York, he is certain. For York doesn’t care that the icy winter of 1857 has wiped out all but one of Marsh’s dilapidated fleet. Nor does he care that he won’t earn back his investment in a decade. York has his own reasons for wanting to traverse the powerful Mississippi. And they are to be none of Marsh’s concern—no matter how bizarre, arbitrary, or capricious his actions may prove.

Marsh meant to turn down York’s offer. It was too full of secrets that spelled danger. But the promise of both gold and a grand new boat that could make history crushed his resolve—coupled with the terrible force of York’s mesmerizing gaze. Not until the maiden voyage of his new sidewheeler Fevre Dream would Marsh realize he had joined a mission both more sinister, and perhaps more noble, than his most fantastic nightmare…and mankind’s most impossible dream.
Here is the spellbinding tale of a vampire’s quest to unite his race with humanity, of a garrulous riverman’s dream of immortality, and of the undying legends of the steamboat era and a majestic, ancient river.

01. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy · Tags:

Dick Francis's Damage by Felix Francis, 400 pages, read by Tracy, on 11/01/2014

Felix Francis is back with another edge-of-your-seat thriller, in the classic Dick Francis tradition.

Undercover investigator Jeff Hinkley is assigned by the British Horseracing Authority to look into the activities of a suspicious racehorse trainer, but as he’s tailing his quarry through the Cheltenham Racing Festival, the last thing he expects to witness is a gruesome murder. Could it have something to do with the reason the trainer was banned in the first place—the administration of illegal drugs to his horses?

Then many more horses test positive for prohibited stimulants, and someone starts making demands, threatening to completely destroy the integrity of the racing industry. In order to limit the damage to the sport, it’s critical that Jeff find the perpetrator . . . but he’ll soon learn he’s up against someone who will stop at nothing to prevail.

01. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Mean Streak by Sandra Brown, 409 pages, read by Jane, on 11/28/2014

Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears on a mountain road in North Carolina. By the time her husband Jeff, miffed over a recent argument, reports her missing, the trail has grown cold. Literally. Fog and ice encapsulate the mountainous wilderness and paralyze the search for her.

While police suspect Jeff of “instant divorce,” Emory, suffering from an unexplained head injury, regains consciousness and finds herself the captive of a man whose violent past is so dark that he won’t even tell her his name. She’s determined to escape him, and willing to take any risks necessary to survive.

Unexpectedly, however, the two have a dangerous encounter with people who adhere to a code of justice all their own. At the center of the dispute is a desperate young woman whom Emory can’t turn her back on, even if it means breaking the law.

As her husband’s deception is revealed, and the FBI closes in on her captor, Emory begins to wonder if the man with no name is, in fact, her rescuer.

01. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Thriller/Suspense

Chasing Darkness by Danielle Girard, 368 pages, read by Jane, on 11/15/2014

The most dangerous place to hide is in the dark… A tough special-agent with the Department of Justice, and a dedicated single mother to her orphaned nephews, Samantha Chase is unbreakable. Until two women, both from the shadows of Sam’s past, are discovered strangled. For Sam, the most unnerving detail is the eucalyptus branch tucked behind the victims’ ears–the signature of a notorious serial murder already convicted and executed for his crimes. To detective Nick Thomas, the only link to the copycat killings is Sam herself. And when she becomes the target of threats–each one more menacing than the last–his feelings for her just might jeopardize the case. But to understand the killer’s twisted motive is to explore Sam’s past–and a crime she’s spent a lifetime trying to bury…

01. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Mystery

Love you More by Lisa Gardner, 368 pages, read by Jane, on 11/01/2014

WHO DO YOU LOVE?

One question, a split-second decision, and Brian Darby lies dead on the kitchen floor. His wife, state police trooper Tessa Leoni, claims to have shot him in self-defense, and bears the bruises to back up her tale. For veteran detective D. D. Warren it should be an open-and-shut case. But where is their six-year-old daughter?

AND HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO . . .

As the homicide investigation ratchets into a frantic statewide search for a missing child, D. D. Warren must partner with former lover Bobby Dodge to break through the blue wall of police brotherhood, seeking to understand the inner workings of a trooper’s mind while also unearthing family secrets. Would a trained police officer truly shoot her own husband? And would a mother harm her own child?

. . . TO SAVE HER?

For Tessa Leoni, the worst has not yet happened. She is walking a tightrope, with nowhere to turn, no one to trust, as the clock ticks down to a terrifying deadline. She has one goal in sight, and she will use every ounce of her training, every trick at her disposal, to do what must be done. No sacrifice is too great, no action unthinkable. A mother knows who she loves. And all others will be made to pay.

Love you more . . .