04. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Katy, NonFiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Beyond magenta : transgender teens speak out by Susan Kuklin, 161 pages, read by Katy, on 04/03/2015

18166920Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference. Portraits, family photographs, and candid images grace the pages, augmenting the emotional and physical journey each youth has taken. Each honest discussion and disclosure, whether joyful or heartbreaking, is completely different from the other because of family dynamics, living situations, gender, and the transition these teens make in recognition of their true selves.

From www.goodreads.com. 

03. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Kim B, Poetry

The Opposite House by Claudia Emerson, 61 pages, read by Kim Bolton, on 04/03/2015

With graceful lines swooping like a bird in flight, Claudia Emerson’s newest collection explores the harsh realities of aging and the limitations of the human body, as well as the loneliness, fear, and anger that can accompany us as we live.

Keenly observed and beautifully executed, these poems move from the grim facade that hides beauty – prosthetic eyes – to the beautiful scene that conceals violence – a rural retreat. Emerson also considers once common things that are fast becoming obsolete: cursive writing, telephone booths, barbers.

At once hopeful and cognizant of all the reasons why humans might despair, these poems echo with remarkable insight into the true nature of life.

From Goodreads.com.

03. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Kristy, Romance, Teen Books

Divergent by Veronica Roth, 487 pages, read by Kristy, on 03/30/2015

Divergent (Divergent, #1)In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

(goodreads.com)

03. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Kristy, Romance, Science Fiction, Teen Books

The Program by Suzanne Young, 405 pages, read by Kristy, on 03/03/2015

Envision a world where teen suicide is an inexplicable national epidemic. One in three teenagers is affected, and the explosive teen suicide rate sends the world into a panic. Adults will do anything to keep the remaining teenagers alive and well, even if it means sending them away to mental institutions to have their minds irrevocably altered. This is the world that 17-year-old Sloane lives in. She and her peers are under relentless surveillance in case they show signs of depression, despair, or any other negative emotion. Teenagers who display these undesirable emotions are submitted to The Program, where their negativity is completely expunged. Unfortunately, most of their memories of adolescence are erased as well.  Sloane and her boyfriend James are desperately afraid of losing their memories to The Program, and they vow to keep each other safe. However, the epidemic soon looms over them, and it is not long before they too fall prey to its fatal grip.

When their close friend commits suicide, James becomes inconsolable and is taken away by The Program. This spirals Sloane into her own depression. Sloane had already lost her brother to the epidemic, and her parents will do anything to keep her alive. Despite her adamant protests, Sloane is dragged from her home and forced into The Program, where she is slowly stripped of her memories. Will she be able to remember James and her past or will her mind be completely reset?

“The Program,” written by Suzanne Young, is both a New York Times bestselling novel and a Gateway Award Nominee. While there are several questions left unanswered in “The Program,” this provides ample opportunity for more plot twists and excitement in the next book in the series, “The Treatment.” There are some sections in the book that are rather slow, but the fascinating plot, strong characters, and resilient, sexy romance between Sloane and James more than make up for this. “The Program” is an intriguing novel that is ideal for readers who enjoy similar dystopian novels such as Delirium by Lauren Oliver and Divergent by Veronica Roth.

03. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Kristy · Tags:

Owly, Vol. 2: Just a Little Blue by Andy Runton, 120 pages, read by Kristy, on 03/11/2015

Owly, Vol. 2: Just a Little BlueThe second graphic novel in the breakout, all-ages series, Owly. Owly is a kind, yet lonely, little owl who’s always on the search for new friends and adventure. Relying on a mixture of symbols, icons, and expressions to tell his silent stories, Runton’s clean, animated, and heartwarming style makes it a perfect read. Owly learns that sometimes you have to make sacrifices and work at things that are important, especially friendship.

(Goodreads.com)

03. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: How To's, Informational Book, Kristy, NonFiction, Self Help · Tags: ,

Zero Belly Diet: Lose Up to 16 lbs. in 14 Days! by David Zinczenko, 336 pages, read by Kristy, on 03/13/2015

24180113NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Zero Belly Diet
is the revolutionary new plan to turn off your fat genes and help keep you lean for life! Nutrition expert David Zinczenko—the New York Times bestselling author of the Abs Diet series, Eat This, Not That! series, and Eat It to Beat It!—has spent his entire career learning about belly fat—where it comes from and what it does to us. And what he knows is this: There is no greater threat to you and your family—to your health, your happiness, even your financial future.

(goodreads.com)

03. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Inspirational, Kristy, NonFiction, Self Help · Tags:

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey, 223 pages, read by Kristy, on 03/17/2015

78427The success stories speak for themselves in this book from money maestro Dave Ramsey. Instead of promising the normal dose of quick fixes, Ramsey offers a bold, no-nonsense approach to money matters, providing not only the how-to but also a grounded and uplifting hope for getting out of debt and achieving total financial health.

Ramsey debunks the many myths of money (exposing the dangers of cash advance, rent-to-own, debt consolidation) and attacks the illusions and downright deceptions of the American dream, which encourages nothing but overspending and massive amounts of debt. “Don’t even consider keeping up with the Joneses,” Ramsey declares in his typically candid style. “They’re broke!”

The Total Money Makeover isn’t theory. It works every single time. It works because it is simple. It works because it gets to the heart of the money problems: you.

(Goodreads.com)

03. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Kim B, NonFiction · Tags:

A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France by Caroline Moorehead, 374 pages, read by Kim Bolton, on 04/01/2015

They were teachers, students, chemists, writers, and housewives; a singer at the Paris Opera, a midwife, a dental surgeon. They distributed anti-Nazi leaflets, printed subversive newspapers, hid resisters, secreted Jews to safety, transported weapons, and conveyed clandestine messages. The youngest was a schoolgirl of fifteen who scrawled “V” for victory on the walls of her lycée; the eldest, a farmer’s wife in her sixties who harbored escaped Allied airmen. Strangers to each other, hailing from villages and cities from across France, these brave women were united in hatred and defiance of their Nazi occupiers.

Eventually, the Gestapo hunted down 230 of these women and imprisoned them in a fort outside Paris. Separated from home and loved ones, these disparate individuals turned to one another, their common experience conquering divisions of age, education, profession, and class, as they found solace and strength in their deep affection and camaraderie.

In January 1943, they were sent to their final destination: Auschwitz. Only forty-nine would return to France.

A Train in Winter draws on interviews with these women and their families; German, French, and Polish archives; and documents held by World War II resistance organizations to uncover a dark chapter of history that offers an inspiring portrait of ordinary people, of bravery and survival—and of the remarkable, enduring power of female friendship.

From Goodreads.com.

A beautiful well written story about a group of courageous women!

03. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Kim B, NonFiction · Tags:

The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler's Men by Eric Lichtbau, 266 pages, read by Kim Bolton, on 04/02/2015

Thousands of Nazis — from concentration camp guards to high-level officers in the Third Reich — came to the United States after World War II and quietly settled into new lives. They had little trouble getting in. With scant scrutiny, many gained entry on their own as self-styled war “refugees,” their pasts easily disguised and their war crimes soon forgotten. But some had help and protection from the U.S. government. The CIA, the FBI, and the military all put Hitler’s minions to work as spies, intelligence assets, and leading scientists and engineers, whitewashing their histories.

For the first time, once-secret government records and interviews tell the full story not only of the Nazi scientists brought to America, but of the German spies and con men who followed them and lived for decades as ordinary citizens. Only years after their arrival did private sleuths and government prosecutors begin trying to identify the hidden Nazis. But even then, American intelligence agencies secretly worked to protect a number of their prized spies from exposure. Today, a few Nazis still remain on our soil.

Investigative reporter Eric Lichtblau, relying on a trove of newly discovered documents and scores of interviews with participants in this little-known chapter of postwar history, tells the shocking and shameful story of how America became a safe haven for Hitler’s men.

–From Goodreads.com.

I was truly shocked about how many Nazi criminals made into America after WWII and our own government’s participation and cooperation in bringing them to and keeping them in our country. This is a very well-written and researched book. I enjoyed it for its historical truth and content and its shocking revelations.

03. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Kim B, Poetry · Tags:

Late Wife: Poems by Claudia Emerson, 54 pages, read by Kim Bolton, on 04/02/2015

In Late Wife, a woman explores her disappearance from one life and reappearance in another as she addresses her former husband, herself, and her new husband in a series of epistolary poems. Though not satisfied in her first marriage, she laments vanishing from the life she and her husband shared for years. She then describes the unexpected joys of solitude during her recovery and emotional convalescence. Finally, in a sequence of sonnets, she speaks to her new husband, whose first wife died from lung cancer. The poems highlight how rebeginning in this relationship has come about in part because of two couples’ respective losses. The most personal of Claudia Emerson’s poetry collections, Late Wife is both an elegy and a celebration of a rich present informed by a complex past.

–From Goodreads.com.

Claudia Emerson is a wonderful poet. From the moment you read her first poem “Natural History Exhibits” on page one, she has you! This poet does what I think every poet should do: make poetry appealing to everyone on every level!

02. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Eric, Fantasy, Fiction · Tags:

Dragons at Crumbling Castle: and Other Tales by Terry Pratchett, 336 pages, read by Eric, on 03/28/2015

If any good should come from the loss of the legendary Sir Terry Pratchett, an increased interest in his wonderful writing would be best. It’s also fitting to read this collection of stories written during Pratchett’s youth, if only to see the honing of skills which would serve him so well in the decades to come. These are tales intended for young readers, written by a very young author. They may lack some polish, but with few exceptions, they are filled with inventiveness. I particularly enjoyed The Great Speck. Your results may vary.

02. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Eric, Fantasy, Fiction

The Unwanteds: Island of Silence by Lisa McMann, 406 pages, read by Eric, on 03/21/2015

The second book in the Unwanteds series deals with the aftermath of conflict between Quill and Artime, as life without the magical barrier between them brings twins Alex and Aaron Stone ever closer to a confrontation which will threaten the existence of Artime, and magic itself.

This is a darker novel than the original, with suitably-grave consequences.  Protagonists are put to the test, with a bleak, cliffhanger of an ending. Exploration of a neighboring island opens the world nicely, promising further trials and adventures ahead. I may not have enjoyed it as much as The Unwanteds, but as a setup for things to come, it is effective.

02. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fantasy, Fiction

Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones, 307 pages, read by Brian, on 04/02/2015

secondCharley Davidson part-time private investigator and full-time Grim reaper with her best friend, Cookie, have another mystery to solve.  Cookie’s friend, Mimi is missing,  Reyes Alexander Farrow, Son of Satan, protecting Charley from demons and whatever else should pop on the way.  Another entertaining book by Darynda Jones.

 

01. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle

The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton, 318 pages, read by Noelle, on 03/19/2015

A timeless American classic rediscovered–an unforgettable saga of a heartland family

On a farm in western Missouri during the first half of the twentieth century, Matthew and Callie Soames create a life for themselves and raise four headstrong daughters. Jessica will break their hearts. Leonie will fall in love with the wrong man. Mary Jo will escape to New York. And wild child Mathy’s fate will be the family’s greatest tragedy. Over the decades they will love, deceive, comfort, forgive–and, ultimately, they will come to cherish all the more fiercely the bonds of love that hold the family together.

01. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Multicultural Fiction, Noelle

The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar, 317 pages, read by Noelle, on 03/12/2015

This novel explores the interpersonal dynamics and consequences brought about by an unlikely friendship between two women from vastly different walks of life and cultural backgrounds. Lakshmi is a recent immigrant from rural India who finds herself isolated and depressed in a country she struggles to understand while also struggling in an unhappy arranged marriage to an emotionally abusive man. A series of circumstances leads Lakshmi into the care of Maggie, an accomplished African American psychologist who is well established and known for her professionalism. As their therapy sessions progress, Maggie becomes increasingly compassionate towards Lakshmi’s struggles. Maggie is drawn (along with the reader) into the vibrant stories Lakshmi tells about life in her village in India. The women also come to realize they share deep bond as both suffered the loss of their mother at a young age. Soon the boundary lines between patient and doctor become blurred. As their friendship develops, Maggie empowers Lakshmi to realize her potential, despite worry over the ethicality of their relationship as patient and doctor. Just as their relationship seems at its most positive and productive, the plot twists unexpectedly. When unseemly truths from both women are revealed, the consequences are detrimental and challenge the women’s perceptions and acceptance of one another.
As a reader, I especially enjoyed the depth of character development and the author’s ability to weave life truths and human complexity into the story from both Maggie and Lakshmi’s perspective. I found Lakshmi’s narration rich and engaging, although the author’s choice to write in broken English might be a hurdle for some readers. I can see how the author meant the ending of the novel to complete a circle in Lakshimi’s narrative. However, to me the resolution felt abrupt and untethered, leaving the reader and characters with uncertain absolution. In any case, I thought the book was well written and I particularly relished the author’s exploration of storytelling and emotional intricacies in human relationships.

01. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

The Brilliant History of Color in Art by Victoria Finlay, 120 pages, read by Kira, on 03/01/2015

index (1)Have you ever wondered how colors that artists and craftspeople use, how they’re made? what goes into them.  After reading Christopher Moore’s book Sacre Bleu about a magical ultramarine shade of blue I became curious, combined with the very attractive cover of this title, made me want to read this book Though nowadays you can just purchase many bright colorful art supplies, this didn’t use to be the case.
Producing these colors could be an elaborate process and a closely guarded secret.

For example, to make ultramarine blue, you start with lapis lazuli, grind it into a powder, then for 3 days work it with pine resin, wax, and linseed oil.  Then add lye, repeat. Lead white produced an otherworldly shade of white, but as we know, it is toxic.  Iron makes  “red ocher” red comes and comes from dying stars or supernovas!  Some of the colors required excrement to produce the desired shade.  I found this book fascinating!some_noname_oil_pastels_by_pesim65-d6egpkoSymbolic-Colors-Tika-Powders1download

01. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Beth's Story, 1914 by Adele Whitby, 148 pages, read by Angie, on 03/31/2015

Beth can’t wait for her 12th birthday. On that day she will finally get the famed “Elizabeth” necklace that has been passed down to every Elizabeth in her family for generations. She is also excited because her French cousins, the Troufants, are coming for her party. Her excitement changes when they arrive however. Her cousin Gabby is a snot with very little time for Beth. Beth has also had to deal with her lady’s maid leaving unexpectedly. She promoted Shannon, one of the housemaids, even though there were other maids with more experience. Then Gabby’s necklace goes missing and Shannon is accused of stealing it. Beth is determined to find out what really happened before Shannon is dismissed.

So little girls and fans of Downtown Abbey might enjoy this book, but it was a bit too simple for me and it seemed very historically inaccurate. First the mystery of the stolen necklace. I had it figured out immediately and actually couldn’t believe it took Beth as long as it did to figure out. Then there is a mystery that keeps being alluded too. Great-grandma Cicely keeps confusing the twins who started the family (Elizabeth and Katherine). It seems obvious that the two probably switched places before Elizabeth married and Katherine went to America. As for the historical inaccuracies, they made me cringe. First you have the butler basically ordering Beth around. Even I know that wouldn’t not have been done in 1914. She is the heir to the house and will one day be her boss so there is no way he would have gotten away with treating her the way he does in the book. The other things are quibbles like Shannon dressing up her uniform and the other maids sabotaging her. Plus you have the behavior of Gabby’s maid Helena, who was just horrible. I knew we were in for an interesting ride when she started giving orders to the housekeeper in front of the family. Stuff like that was just not done. I made it hard to take the book seriously and to continue reading. I think Whitby should have done a bit more research before she started writing this book. I am positive there are lots of books out there that talk about how servants behaved at the beginning of the 20th century.

01. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Confess by Colleen Hoover, 320 pages, read by Nikki, on 03/30/2015

Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…

From Goodreads.com.

01. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Thoughtful by S.C. Stephens, 560 pages, read by Nikki, on 03/15/2015

Every story has two sides, and in this new book, the epic love story between Kiera and Kellan is shown through his eyes.

All Kellan Kyle needs is his guitar, and some clean sheets of paper. Growing up in a house that was far from a home, he learned a hard lesson:You’re worthless. Now his life is comfortably filled with passionate music, loyal band mates, and fast women… until he meets her.

Kiera makes him ache for more. Makes him feel for the first time that he’sworth more. But there’s one problem— she’s his best friend’s girl.

Just when Kellan thought his emotional defenses were rock solid, Kiera’s indecisive heart wreaks havoc on his soul, changing him forever. Losing Kiera is not an option.

From Goodreads.com.

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

Chilled by Kendra Elliot, 354 pages, read by Kim K, on 03/31/2015

As a forensic nurse on a search and rescue team, Brynn Nealey braves a dangerous blizzard to find the survivors of a plane crash in the Cascade Mountains. Joining her is Alex Kinton, a former US marshal with self-destructive tendencies. Alex lies his way onto Brynn’s team to find the man who killed his brother—and then return the favor. But once the team members reach the plane’s wreckage, they discover everyone aboard has perished…except for the man Alex is hunting. Alex will do whatever it takes to track his target through the vast, snowy wilderness.

As the temperatures drop, however, so do Alex’s defenses. His contact with the sharp, kindhearted Brynn makes his lust for vengeance difficult to reconcile with his growing feelings for a woman who risks her life to help others. What will happen to Alex’s savage instincts when he finally has the opportunity to confront his brother’s killer?

In Chilled, the next thrilling tale in the Bone Secrets saga, Golden Heart finalist Kendra Elliot weaves an icy tale of cold nights, cold hearts, and cold-blooded killers.

From Goodreads.com.