Rosie Schaap’s second home is a neighborhood bar. Or maybe it’s her first home since she spends a lot of time drinking and socializing at bars mostly with men. Each chapter is devoted to a bar she became a regular at. She says she isn’t an alcoholic, just likes to be with other people in a bar where everybody knows your name, as the Cheers song goes. She even got married and tried to settle down but it didn’t last. It’s a very honest and tell all book. I couldn’t imagine drinking the amount she says she drinks and not have an alcohol problem.
Drinking with Men: A Memoir by Rosie Schaap, 288 pages, read by Tracy, on 03/05/2013
Double Crossing by Meg Mims , 257 pages, read by Tracy, on 03/01/2013
Nice to find a Western written by a woman. And the main character is a woman who is out to avenge her fathers death. She heads out west by train to California to find the deed for the gold mine her father left her. Other people are interested in the mine so she has hired a young drifter, Ace Diamond, to protect her since her life is always at risk. I enjoyed the train ride and also the main character was very determined and ready to defend herself.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, 330 pages, read by Lisa, on 03/14/2013
Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.
Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.
To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence–creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.
Breathe by Sarah Crossan, 373 pages, read by Angie, on 03/27/2013
In this future world, the trees are gone and the air as well. People are forced to live in pods in order to survive. All are not equal in the pods. Those in zone 1 have the most privilege and the most air. The privileges and air goes down as you go further into the pods. Quinn is from zone 1; is father is very powerful in Breathe, the corporation that runs the pods and controls the air. His best friend Bea is from zone 3. Her family is poor, but she is smart and ambitious. Quinn and Bea decide to go camping in the Outside. They plan a two day excursion but at the border Alina insinuates herself into their group. Alina is a member of the resistance and needs to get out of the pod fast. Together they set off across the wastelands of the past world with only an oxygen tank between them and suffocation. Alina introduces Bea and Quinn to the resistance, who are trying to replant the trees and wake up the citizens about the corruption of Breathe.
This book was ok. I feel like it really didn’t cover any new ground in the dystopian/post-apocalyptic world. You had the typical corrupt corporation/politicians, resistance fighters, innocent teens, and of course a love triangle. The romance in this book was beyond awkward. Bea is in love with Quinn but he doesn’t know it. He becomes infatuated with Alina after a minute, but she doesn’t care. Alina thought she was in love with this resistance guy Abel, but who knows if that was true. Quinn finally wakes up and realizes he loves Bea but they can’t be together because of the class difference. It was pretty ridiculous. I wish there was more about the resistance and the uprising, but Crossan leaves us hanging. Not a terrible book, but nothing new here.
Taking Chances by Molly McAdams, 464 pages, read by Jessica, on 03/28/2013
Eighteen-year-old Harper has grown up under the thumb of her career marine father. Ready to live life her own way and to experience things she’s only ever heard of from the jarheads in her father’s unit, she’s on her way to college at San Diego State University.
Thanks to her new roommate, Harper is introduced to a world of parties, gorgeous guys, family, and emotions. She finds herself being torn in two as she quickly falls in love with both her new boyfriend, Brandon, and her roommate’s brother, Chase. Despite their dangerous looks and histories, both men adore Harper and would do anything for her, including taking a step back if it would mean she’d be happy.
The Butterfly Mosque by G. Willow Wilson, 304 pages, read by Lisa, on 03/27/2013
I read this for book club or I would never have chosen it, but that’s one reason I’m in a book club–to make myself read outside of my comfort zone. It was interesting as far as it goes but I had to make myself pick it up in order to finish it because it just wasn’t that compelling.
This is the story of the spiritual journey of G. Willow Wilson, raised by atheist parents, who in her early twenties, decides to convert to Islam. A fact she doesn’t fully admit even to herself until she has traveled to Cairo, Egypt to teach in an English-language school in order to make use of the Arabic she has been studying at Boston University.
Even for a newly converted Sunni Muslim, life in Egypt is difficult. It’s a very dirty, loud, harsh city, under strict government control. (9/11 happens while she is still studying in Boston and the story takes place throughout the early to mid-2000’s).
Thanks to her friend Ben, who left Egypt just before Willow and her roommate Jo arrive, they have a place to live but they don’t eat much beyond olives for the first several weeks because they can’t figure out how and where to shop for food. Help arrives in the form of Omar, a friend of Ben’s who had promised to check up on the two women. He teaches them many important things about living in Egypt.
Although Willow eventually falls in love with Cairo, (as well as Omar, whom she marries), it was difficult for me to understand her love for such a difficult city. From a purely historical point of view, of course it has to be amazing, but to live there day-to-day, as she describes it, is incredibly difficult.
I did enjoy getting glimpses of a very different way of life and society. I also enjoyed the interactions between Willow and the very large extended family she marries into. But in the end, perhaps because the book is the story of her very personal spiritual journey, and I’m a religious skeptic,or perhaps because the story felt somehow shallow and superficial, her story did not resonate with me.
The Winter Witch by Paula Brackston, 340 pages, read by Kim, on 03/26/2013
Easy by Tammara Webber, 337 pages, read by Jessica, on 03/24/2013
He watched her, but never knew her. Until thanks to a chance encounter, he became her savior…
The attraction between them was undeniable. Yet the past he’d worked so hard to overcome, and the future she’d put so much faith in, threatened to tear them apart.
Only together could they fight the pain and guilt, face the truth – and find the unexpected power of love.
A groundbreaking novel in the New Adult genre, Easy faces one girl’s struggle to regain the trust she’s lost, find the inner strength to fight back against an attacker, and accept the peace she finds in the arms of a secretive boy.
Perfect Game by J. Sterling, 379 pages, read by Jessica, on 03/23/2013
He’s a game she never intended to play. And she’s the game changer he never knew he needed. The Perfect Game tells the story of college juniors, Cassie Andrews & Jack Carter. When Cassie meets rising baseball hopeful Jack, she is determined to steer clear of him and his typical cocky attitude. But Jack has other things on his mind… like getting Cassie to give him the time of day. Sometimes life gets ugly before it gets beautiful…
Twisted by K.A. Robinson, 331 pages, read by Jessica, on 03/20/2013
Torn by K.A. Robinson, 354 pages, read by Jessica, on 03/18/2013
The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop by Kate Saunders, 290 pages, read by Angie, on 03/24/2013
The Spoffard family inherits an old chocolate shop from their late great-uncle. But it isn’t just any chocolate shop and twins Lily and Oz soon find out. They have been summoned to the house by a magical, immortal talking cat and rat who work for a secret agency called SMU, the Secret Ministry of the Unexplained. They recruit Oz and Lily, because of their magical family background, and their neighbor Caydon, because he is a witch, to help stop an evil, immortal genius Isadore Spoffard. Isadore was one of the triplet Spoffard brothers. He turned evil and killed his other two brothers in 1938. Now he has an evil plot to sell his immortality chocolate to terrorists. But first he needs the chocolate molds belonging to his brothers. What follows is pure craziness. There are ghosts and goblins, an elephant ghost, secret agents everywhere, and madcap adventures. Through it all the Spoffard parents are completely clueless and unaware of what their children are doing.
I like books with magic, but I am not sure what to think about this one. On one hand I found the idea of a secret agency working to solve paranormal mysteries fun. They were very James Bond/MI6 in their set up and their adventures. On the other hand I wish this book was a little more thought out. It seemed slapped together at times; like maybe Saunders thought hey wouldn’t it be cool if the cat lost all its hair here or why not have a chocolate barrier that makes rats mutate and die. Interesting ideas that didn’t always fit smoothly into the story. I also found it completely unbelievable how obtuse the parents where. Their kids are basically taken away for days at a time and their are told they are at camps and such. Camps the parents had no prior knowledge of and gave no permission for their children to attend??? I think kids might like this one more than I did, but to me it was just an ok read.
Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross, 336 pages, read by Angie, on 03/24/2013
Mira has spent all of her fifteen years sheltered by her two godmothers. They have raised her since her parents died in a fire when she was a baby. On the eve of her sixteenth birthday, Mira decides to run away to her hometown of Beau Rivage to find out more about her parents and to find their graves. She concocts and elaborate scheme to run away with decoy emails and bribed classmates, but once she gets to Beau Rivage her plans fall apart. She has no idea how to begin her search so she camps out in a casino. There she is discovered by two brothers (separately). Blue, seventeen and surly, warns her away and tries to get her out of the casino. Felix, twenty-two and runs the casino, immediately offers her a room and anything she wants. Of course she falls for Felix, but she becomes friends with Blue and his friends. Turns out the town of Beau Rivage is full of fairy tale characters under curses from actual fairies. At some point in your childhood you will get a mark that identifies what type of character you are and what role you will play. Mira’s mark makes her Sleeping Beauty. She also meets Snow White, the Huntsman, Prince Charming and many others. But it is Blue and Felix’s curse that is the most mysterious. No one will tell her about it other than to warn her to stay away. But of course that doesn’t work mainly because Mira is pretty stupid.
I found this book fairly ridiculous. I love the concept of it. A town with fairy tale characters and curses and more along the lines of the Grimm tales not Disney. I think Once Upon a Time does this much better but it is still a fun concept. But then you get to the characters. Mira is so smart in making her plans to run away, but then once she gets to Beau Rivage it is like she took a stupid pill. She falls in love with Felix after a DAY! And all because he is nice to her and comps a room. No one mentions the fact that she is 15 and he is 22…hello illegal and creepy! Everyone tries to warn her about him (all very vaguely of course), which doesn’t work and only makes her more determined to be with her true love even though she is strangely attracted to Blue too. I will admit that I found Blue and Mira’s weird, mean courtship entertaining, but I still don’t get Mira. Almost all of the side characters were more interesting than her and a whole lot smarter. I can’t emphasize enough how irritatingly dumb she is. Even after Felix tries to kill her she is still starry-eyed and she has pretty much given up on her quest to find her parents. Whatever! I am not even going to mention the stupid ending and how unlikely that was. There are much better fairy tale books out there. Don’t bother with this one.
Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey , 407 pages, read by Angie, on 03/23/2013
Tess has lived her entire life outside of Dragonswood. She has endured an abusive father and the deaths of her sisters and brothers. Tess has always been drawn to Dragonswood, the sanctuary for fey and dragons on Wilde Isle. This pull gets her in trouble when Lady Adele comes to town looking for witches. Tess is accused and tortured. During torture she names her two best friends, Poppy and Meg. Tess escapes and brings Poppy and Meg with her into hiding. They travel the isle disguised as lepers until they find sanctuary with Garth, a huntsman and keeper of Dragonswood. Garth is mysterious and Tess is drawn to him. Poppy and Tess are both drawn to Dragonswood and eventually find themselves with Fey.
There is a prophecy regarding human, dragon and fey. The blending of the three will bring about a new time. They believe the prophecy refers to the current prince and a half-fey girl. The royal family, the Pendragons, are descendants of dragons, each bearing scales as the mark of their heritage. The fey want to entice Prince Arden to marry one of the half-fey girls and bring about the prophecy.
This is a lovely historical fantasy novel. Janet Lee Carey writes beautifully and makes Wilde Isle and Dragonswood come to life. I love the mix of fiction and myth with the inclusion of parts of the Arthur story and Merlin. I assume that Wilde Isle is an island off England, but independent of that country. Tess is an interesting character. She doesn’t seem like she would be historically accurate, way to independent minded, but she is brave and smart and fallible. I admire the fact that she isn’t a perfect heroine. She betrays her friends, she makes judgments about people and situations, but she always tries to do what is right. I also like the relationship between Garth and Tess. You knew there was something mysterious about him and I enjoyed the way his secret came out. This is a fun book and I will definitely be checking out the other book in this series, Dragon’s Keep.
Freakling by Lana Krumwiede , 320 pages, read by Angie, on 03/23/2013
Taemon lives in a Deliverance, a city where everyone uses psi. No one uses their hands for anything, not eating, not opening doors, not putting on clothes. All of these tasks are accomplished through psi, the ability to move things with your mind. If you have very weak psi you are considered a Freakling and if you have no psi you are banished to the powerless colony. Deliverance has been cut off from the world ever since the prophet Nathan created a mountain to hide them.
Taemon is a strong psi user as is his brother Yens. However, Taemon has an additional power that no one can no about. He can also let his mind wonder into things and see how they work or how they are built. Yens is ambitious and jealous of Taemon. He tries to kill him on a couple of occasions. When Taemon has the chance to strike back he doesn’t and looses his psi. He is banished to the Colony. There is learns how to live without psi and how to use his hands for things. Yens is declared the True Son by the temple elders and they start planning a return to the world and psi weapons. Taemon and his new friends in the Colony must stop them before it is too late.
This was a fun middle grade read. I really enjoyed how developed the character of Taemon was. You knew exactly who he was and what he wanted to do. I thought Yens jealousy and ambition also came across really well. I didn’t really get the motivation of the Temple Elders except power and greed; they seemed a little one dimensional. I love the thought of never using your hands for anything and then suddenly having to figure out how to live without your power and do things manually. I thought that was a really interesting twist. Was this the most innovative book I have read? No, it was fairly predictable. I figured out very early what was going to happen, but it was entertaining.
Adaptation by Malinda Lo, 400 pages, read by Angie, on 03/22/2013
Reese and David are in Phoenix waiting to fly home to San Francisco after a debate. While in the airport they hear reports of flocks of birds causing multiple planes to crash. All flights are grounded and they decide to drive home. There are road blocks, traffic jams and violence. Their journey ends in the Nevada desert when a bird causes their car to crash. They wake up a month later in a secret military facility. Their injuries are miraculously healed, but they are not allowed to know where they are or what happened to them. Once they get home stranger things happen. They appear to have strange abilities and it seems that they are being watched.
Back in San Francisco, Reese connects with her best friend Julien who has all kinds of conspiracy theories about what happened really brought the planes down, what the government is covering up and where Reese and David might have been kept. Then Reese meets mysterious Amber and automatically has a connection with her. Their relationship is immediate and intense. Reese has to come to terms with the fact that she is bisexual when she has never had any desire to date previously. She also still has feelings for David that are unexplored.
Then things really ramp up when Reese, David and Julien discover more about what has been happening. David and Reese are taken back into military custody and discover the truth about everything.
There are aspects of this book that are scifi thriller at its best. I love the whole secret military installations, the conspiracy, the aliens (you knew there had to be aliens right?), the secret medical experiments. The first part and the ending of the book were pure scifi thriller. I loved it. The middle part really slowed down. It was all about personal introspection and romance. During this section Reese was figuring out who she is and what she wants. She was exploring her sexuality with Amber and trying to figure out her feelings for David. She was also exploring her new found abilities. I have to admit that this part dragged a bit for me. I didn’t mind the love triangle. I thought it was different and fresh to have a bisexual main character and I thought that part was really well done. I just wish the three sections of the book were integrated a little better.
Close to Famous by Joan Bauer, 250 pages, read by Angie, on 03/21/2013
Foster wants to become the first kid with a cooking show on the Food Network. Her specialty is cupcakes and muffins but she can cook anything. She practices for her show every time she cooks. The only problem is she and her mom just moved to small town Culpepper and who is going to discover her in Culpepper? They had to leave Memphis fast to get away from her mom’s Elvis impersonating boyfriend and Culpepper is where they ended up. Culpepper is a quirky little town with a reclusive Hollywood diva, a young documentarian without a camera and a host of other fun characters.
I love small town books. They always have the quirkiest characters. I think this book has a nice mix of crazy and sane. I like Foster’s ambition and determination to make it big. I also enjoyed the fact that she had a little dimension. She can’t read and she tries to hide that fact with everything she can. Once her secret is out she accepts the help of those around her. I do wish there would have been a little more development for Foster, but overall this was a fun little book.
Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! by Fannie Flagg, 467 pages, read by Kim, on 03/21/2013
I absolutely loved this book! Fannie Flagg knows how to write, she knows what readers want and she delivers! Her characters are so hilarious! Anyone from Missouri reading this book will recognize someone they know in Flagg’s pages!!!! And yet, the author does not shield us from the pain that a person goes through. But she also teaches us how to get through it with a dose of humor, faith, and common sense. I highly recommend it! it is definitely a “feel-good” book!
Hannah's List by Debbie Macomber, 412 pages, read by Pamela, on 03/18/2013
On the anniversary of his beloved wife’s death, Michael receives a letter Hannah had written him. She makes one final request– she’s chosen three women, and asks him to consider them as a new wife. He’s a man who needs the completeness only love can offer– and the list leads him to a woman who can help him find it.
Stung by Bethany Wiggins , 304 pages, read by Angie, on 03/18/2013
Fiona wakes up in her bedroom, but it isn’t her bedroom. Everything is dusty and broken and abandoned. She also realizes she is different herself. She has a weird tattoo on her hand and she seems older. In fact, she is older. She has lost four years of her life. Once she travels outside she realizes the world has gone to hell in that time. Nothing and no one is the same. There are now armed gangs patrolling the streets, a walled compound protecting people and feral groups living in the sewers. Fiona is captured by the militia and taken into custody. Apparently the tattoo on her hand means she is one of the most dangerous people alive and any moment she could turn into a raving beast. Her captor turns out to be her childhood neighbor who has always had a crush on her. They are soon on the run and falling in love.
I have to confess that while I was reading this book I couldn’t put it down. It is fast-paced and entertaining. However, for the most part it doesn’t make a lot of sense. I enjoy dystopians and my biggest pet peeve with them is lack of world-building. The world-building in this book didn’t make the most sense. It only took four years for the world to fall apart and it was all because the bees had disappeared (why do I keep getting Dr. Who flashes???). A vaccine to protect the elite (of course) from some disease caused by the bees disappearing actually turns people into monsters. The vaccine not only comes with a side of beast but a tattoo. And you get additional marks on your tattoo for every shot you get; so of course 10 marks means you are crazy! I didn’t get the militia, the compound, the gangs, etc. Bad world building!
The other thing I had a problem with was Fiona and Fiona and her beau. Fiona had to be the most pathetic, worthless heroine ever. She didn’t seem to have any survival instincts or actual intelligence sometimes. She never tried to escape her captors and at one point thought it would be a good idea to dress up in a pretty sundress and sandals in a world where she has been told women get raped for just being female. And how come men can’t control themselves? Really? It isn’t like the women died. Fiona and Dreyden were another big question mark for me. He starts out hating and fearing her and by the end of the book is ready to die for her. She still thinks she is 13 and lusts after his brother. Doesn’t matter if he holds her captive and is going to turn her over to become a guinea pig in a lab she will still always love him by the end. And the end…ugh! That is all I am going to say about that.
I did receive this book from the publishers on Netgalley and they obviously did not pay me for this review.