01. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal · Tags:

Omens by Kelley Armstrong , 486 pages, read by Angie, on 08/30/2014

Olivia Taylor-Jones has always lived a life of privilege and ease. She is the daughter of a powerful couple and engage to a powerful man. All that changes when it comes out she is adopted and the biological daughter of a notorious serial killer couple, Pamela and Todd Larsen. Olivia flees Chicago and ends up in Cainsville, a place of secrets and unknowns. She is taken in by the residents of this private town and soon becomes one of them. It is in Cainsville that she starts her investigations into her parent’s crimes. She isn’t sure if they are guilty or innocent, but she wants to find out more. Her mother gives her leads to investigate the last couple who were killed. Their killing was a little different from the others. Olivia is joined on her investigations by Gabriel who used to be her mother’s lawyer. He too has ties to Cainsville and the residents there. What they uncover doesn’t necessarily prove Olivia’s parents are innocent, but it does make them wonder what else is going on. 

Obviously as the first book in this series not all the reader’s questions are going to be answered. I am not sure if any of them were actually answered to tell you the truth. There is a lot going on in this book. You have the Larsens and whether or not they committed the crimes they are convicted of. You have the CIA and whatever experiments they were conducting. And then you have the people of Cainsville and whatever they are. Are they even human? Are they descendants of the fair folk from the British Isles or are they the fair folk? No idea. I think it was smart to leave the Cainsville part of the mystery pretty much up in the air. It is just barely touched on in this book and of course Olivia knows nothing of it except the fact that she can identify omens when others can’t. It is an interesting start to a series and one I am eager to read the rest of.

01. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Paranormal · Tags:

Brazen by Kelley Armstrong , 216 pages, read by Angie, on 08/29/2014

Nick is an omega wolf in the pack. He isn’t the smartest or the best fighter but he is an essential part of the pack. He has taken on the role of guardian for the three young werewolves that have joined the pack and has offered to help with the hunt for Malcolm Danvers. Malcolm is the bogeyman of the pack and he needs to be found and put down. Nick enlists the help of a supernatural detective agency and when they get in over their heads he and the lead detective Vanessa head off to Detroit. What follows is a game of cat and mouse between Malcolm and Nick with dead bodies, werewolf hunters, and cabal assassins.

I’m glad Nick has finally gotten a book of his own even if it is a short one. He has always been one of those characters in the background of Armstrong’s series so it is nice to see him take center stage for once. I was highly entertained by the developing relationship between Nick and Vanessa and glad to see Nick holding his own against Malcolm. I know Armstrong has ended the Otherworld series, but I feel like there will definitely be more to this story in future books.

01. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Paranormal · Tags:

Forbidden by Kelley Armstrong , 212 pages, read by Angie, on 08/29/2014

Morgan is on his way to New York to take a look at the North American Pack. He met Clay and Elena when they were in Alaska. He stops at a diner for dinner and starts to feel woozy so he thinks he needs to change. He takes off into the woods and changes into a werewolf. Unfortunately he still doesn’t feel well and he is found the next morning lying naked in the snow. Of course he is hauled off to jail and Clay and Elena are called in to rescue him. Once they get there things get even stranger. The local sheriff is a young woman with something to hide. Could it be all the bodies decomposing in the woods? Or whoever slashed the tires on their cars and broke into their rooms? Something is definitely going on and it is up to Clay and Elena to figure it out. 

This was a fun novella set in Armstrong’s Otherworld series. It gives us a little insight on how Morgan joined the pack and offered a strange mystery for our favorite werewolf pair to solve. The pack is definitely my favorite part of the Otherworld. They are really interesting and entertaining. Fans of Armstrong’s books will surely enjoy this one. 

29. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Mystery · Tags: ,

Murder Mysteries by Neil Gaiman, 112 pages, read by Courtney, on 08/18/2014

A young man is stranded in LA around Christmas time. After a brief tryst with an old acquaintance, the man feels like he isn’t ready to go back to the place he’s staying. He sits on a bench for a smoke when an older man walks up to him, asks him for a smoke and then offers him a story. The story is about a time before humans when the angels were still working out things like the concepts of “green” or “love”. The angels all lived in beautiful city in the sky. Each has their purpose as dictated by God. One day, an angel is found dead. It appears that the death is not from natural causes. Some say it might be suicide, but Raguel (the angel of vengeance and justice) thinks otherwise. Who could possibly have killed the angel and why?
This isn’t just any murder mystery. It’s the original murder mystery. The first murder, ever. And since it’s Neil Gaiman writing it, you know it’s going to be tragic and slightly humorous. The artwork is gorgeous and this particular edition has bonus features with commentary by artist P.Craig Russell, as well as early drafts of the artwork. Just because you think you know how it might end, doesn’t mean that there won’t be some completely unexpected twists and turns by the end. It’s a lovely graphic novel, even if it is a touch disturbing.

29. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books · Tags:

Friday Never Leaving by Vikki Wakefield, 352 pages, read by Courtney, on 08/10/2014

Friday Brown has lived her entire life on the road with her mother and in near-constant fear of the family “curse” of the women all dying in or near water on a Saturday. She’s never had an actual home to call her own. When her mother dies of cancer, Friday is left on her own. Her mother tried to get Friday to stay with her wealthy grandfather, but Friday isn’t comfortable there. Friday runs away to the city where she finds a silver-haired boy that doesn’t speak. He goes by the name of Silence and agrees to take her to the spot where he’s living. As it turns out, he is part of a community of homeless teens who all live in a squat and answer to an older teen known as Arden. Friday suspects that Arden might be manipulative, but she also makes Friday feel as though there is someone looking out for her. Still grief-stricken over her mother’s death, Friday decides to make life with these kids work. All of them live beneath the radar and get by on busking, turning tricks and petty theft. Things go relatively smoothly until Arden decides it’s time for the group to move. To a ghost town in the middle of the outback. A ghost town that’s been abandoned with good reason.
This Australian import offers the reader a rare glimpse into the lives of disenfranchised, homeless teens without feeling like a “problem novel”. None of these kids have had what amounts to an ordinary life. Most of them have experienced some kind of abuse, which actually sets Friday apart from the rest of the kids. While Friday hasn’t lived an enviable life, she did have a mother who loved her, something the kids in her new “family” dream of. These kids live their lives at the mercy of those around them. Friday and Silence have a beautiful and unique friendship that centers itself around protecting each other’s well-being. Arden, the “matriarch” of the group, is both fascinating and intimidating. She cares for the kids on a certain level, but is also manipulative and controlling. This character-driven novel may not move quickly, but the lure of the characters will draw readers in. The writing is lovely, which somehow seems to be endemic to all the authors I’ve read who hail from Australia (seriously, what is it about that country that produces such amazing YA authors?). The emotional pain and discomfiting nature of Friday’s circumstances feel uncomfortable, but her growth as a person is palpable. Readers will be hoping and praying that these kids make it into adulthood unscathed.

29. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Fantasy, Teen Books · Tags: ,

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, 181 pages, read by Courtney, on 08/02/2014

Gaiman wins again with this gorgeous little gem of a book. The story opens with a man on his way to a funeral in Sussex, the town of his youth. Upon his return, he is inexorably drawn to a house at the end of his lane. A house that he didn’t really remember until he was already walking up to it. As he gets closer, the memories resurface and he recalls a past so strange and mysterious that he can’t really fathom how he forgot it all in the first place.
You see, an evil was released in this sleepy little English town and the only person who could help our young narrator was a girl who lived at the end of the lane. Her name is Lettie Hempstock. She lives with her mother and grandmother. Lettie insists that the pond behind her house is, in reality, an ocean. Our narrator slowly recalls the details of this strange episode in his past as he sits by Lettie’s “ocean” as a grown man.
I don’t even really want to give away any of it, since this book is such a delightful journey to make on one’s own. Fans of Gaiman will naturally love this one. I sensed echoes of Sandman, Neverwhere and Coraline throughout and since these are works that I love through and through, these likenesses only served to make me even more enamored. Gaiman is such a wonderfully skilled writer, he doesn’t need hundreds of pages to create a fully realized tale. Indeed, this can easily be read in one or two sittings, though the atmosphere of the novel will linger long after the last page is turned.

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

Torn by David Massey, 288 pages, read by Angie, on 08/28/2014

Ellie is a 19-year-old medic in the British Army on her first tour of Afghanistan. She is stationed at a remote outpost and must figure out how things work very quickly. This involves becoming one of the guys to the guys in her squad, dealing with the irrational commanding officer who happens to be the only other medic and woman and figuring out how to handle herself on patrols through hostile territory. On her first patrol she has to help a squad-mate who has stepped on an IED and she gets her first glimpse of the mysterious Aroush, a young Afghan girl who seems to show up when death is coming. On the next patrol the squad captures a young Afghan boy, Husna, who is a member of the Young Martyrs, a group of young boys who fight everyone from the Taliban to the Afghan security forces to the coalition forces. Ellie and Husna develop a friendship as she questions him to try and find out more about the Young Martyrs and a weapons cache they stumbled across. Then they set out into the mountains to find Husna’s village and the cache accompanied by a group of U.S. Navy Seals. But there is more to this mission then they are told and there is more to Aroush than anyone knows. 

There were parts of this book I really liked. I liked the story of a young, naive, inexperienced soldier trying to figure things out in a war zone. Ellie’s reactions to the things happening around her seemed very appropriate for the most part. I actually enjoyed the conspiracy theory aspect of the mission as well. I especially liked the story of Husna and his village and his friendship with Ellie. I even thought the slightly supernatural Aroush worked with the story. What I thought was completely unnecessary was the budding romance between Ellie and the Navy Seal Lieutenant. The book only takes place over the span of about a week so the fact that this romance was even included in the story seems a bit farfetched. Every time Ellie got all dopey-eyed over the hotness of Ben I rolled my eyes. She seriously thought about his hotness while they were out on patrol and the Taliban were following them…really! I think the book could have been much stronger without this romance plot.

28. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Paranormal, Short Stories · Tags:

Otherworld Nights by Kelley Armstrong, 320 pages, read by Angie, on 08/27/2014

This is a fabulous collection of short stories and a novella set in Armstrong’s otherworld universe. It has been a while since I read a lot of the books in this series so placing the stories and characters was something of a challenge at times. However, these stories reminded me of how much I enjoy the world Armstrong has created. 

I received this book through NetGalley.

28. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Judy, Science Fiction · Tags:

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, 336 pages, read by Judy, on 08/27/2014

When Fat Charlie’s dad named something, it stuck.  Like calling Fat Charlie “Fat Charlie”.  Even now, twenty years later, Charlie Nancy can’t shake that name, one of the many embarrassing “gifts” his father bestowed–before he dropped dead on a karaoke stage and ruined Fat Charlie’s life.

Mr. Nancy left Fat Charlie things.  Things like the tall, good-looking stranger who appears on Charlie’s doorstep, who appears to be the brother he never knew.   A brother as different from Charlie as night is from day, a brother who’s going to show Charlie how to lighten up and have a little fun . . . just like Dear Old Dad.   And all of a sudden, life starts getting very interesting for Fat Charlie.

Because, you see, Charlie’s dad wasn’t just any dad.  He was Anansi, a trickster god, the spider-god.   Anansi is the spirit of rebellion, able to overturn the social order, create wealth out of thin air, and baffle the devil.    Some said he could cheat even Death himself.

 

28. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Judy, Romance · Tags:

Fifty Shades Freed by E L James, 579 pages, read by Judy, on 08/20/2014

When unworldly student Anastasia Steele  first encounters the driven and dazzling young entrepreneur Christian Grey, it sparked a sensual affair that changed both of their lives irrevocably.  Shocked, intrigued, and, ultimately, repelled by Christian’s singular erotic tastes, Ana demands a deeper commitment.  Determined to keep her, Christian agrees.

Now, Ana and Christian have it all–love, passion, intimacy, wealth, and a world of possibilities for their future.   But Ana knows that loving her Fifty Shades will not be easy, and that being together will pose challenges that neither of them would anticipate.  Ana must somehow learn to share Christian’s opulent lifestyle without sacrificing her own identity.  And Christian must overcome his compulsion to control as he wrestles with the demons of a tormented past.

Just when it seems that their strength together will eclipse any obstacle, misfortune, malice, and fate conspire to make Ana’s deepest fears turn to reality.

28. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Judy, Romance · Tags:

Fifty Shades Darker by E L James, 532 pages, read by Judy, on 08/10/2014

Daunted by the singular tastes and dark secrets of the beautiful, tormented  young entrepreneur Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele has broken off their relationship to start a new career with Seattle publishing house.

But desire for Christian still dominates her every waking though, and when he proposes a new arrangement, Anastasia cannot resit.  They rekindle their searing sensual affair, and Anastasia learns more about the harrowing past of her damaged, driven and demanding Fifty Shades.

While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her, and make the most important decision of her life.

28. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Judy, Romance · Tags:

Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James, 514 pages, read by Judy, on 08/04/2014

When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating.   The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him.  Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her too — but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates.  For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control.   When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Autobiographies, NonFiction · Tags:

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai, Christina Lamb, 327 pages, read by Angie, on 08/27/2014

While I think Malala’s story is an inspirational one I think this book was very poorly written. Malala is the Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban and became an international icon for girl’s schooling. She and her father had both been very outspoken opponents to the Taliban’s closing of girl’s schools and the reduced opportunities for education for girls in Pakistan. After she was shot she was taken to England to receive treatment. I believe in her cause and think more people need to stand up to the Taliban as she does. However, this book was pretty hard to listen to. Maybe if I had read it instead of listening to the audio I might have been able to brush off the weaknesses of the text; however, listening to the story just highlighted how poorly written the book really was. The book is set up as her autobiography where she talks about her family history, her childhood, her fight for education and the aftermath of the shooting. Interspersed with that is a lot of Pakistan history and especially history of her beloved Swat Valley. The problem with this book was the lack of cohesive storytelling. It was almost like the co-author took notes as Malala was speaking and instead of putting those notes into a cohesive story she just typed them up verbatim. So the story jumps topics and is more of a stream of consciousness telling than anything else. It may or may not get back to the point or it just might start on another tangent and completely abandon original topic. And this stream of consciousness will be broken up as a part of Pakistan history has to be explained so the reader will understand where her opinion is coming from. Some of this may have been translation but I think most of it has to be the responsibility of the co-author Christina Lamb. I had high hopes for this story and was deeply disappointed. I would not recommend it. If you want to be inspired by Malala I would probably recommend finding some of the articles about her and reading those.

26. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Graphic Novel · Tags:

Signal to Noise by Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean (Illustrator), 96 pages, read by Angie, on 08/25/2014

A filmmaker is dying. He is retreating from everyday life as he gets worse. He is also working on a film he never believes to see made. It is the end of the world; the last day of the last month of the millennium; 999 AD. This book explores the noise of the world and what it means in our lives. It is an interesting concept and book. The noise between the chapters seems like just a jumble of words but does seem to represent the noise of the world that can distract us from what is important.

26. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Graphic Novel · Tags:

The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch by Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean (Illustrator), 96 pages, read by Angie, on 08/25/2014

A little boy recalls a time when he stayed with his grandparents. His grandpa owned an arcade and a strange Punch and Judy man came to the arcade to put on a show. It is a strangely beautiful story told from the perspective of a boy who doesn’t necessarily know what all is going on. The illustrations are compelling and interesting.

25. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Mystery, Steam-punk, Tracy · Tags:

Grandville Bête Noire by Bryan Talbot, 104 pages, read by Tracy, on 08/24/2014

The baffling murder of a famed Parisian artist in his locked and guarded studio takes the tenacious Detective Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard and his faithful adjunct, Detective Sargent Ratzi, into the cut-throat Grandville art scene to track the mysterious assassin. As the body count mounts and events spiral out of control, the investigation points to Toad Hall, where a cabal of industrialists and fat cats plot the overthrow of the French State . . . by use of steam-driven automaton soldiers A Victorian anthropomorphic thriller, Grandville Bete Noire signals the welcome return of master storyteller and graphic-novel pioneer Bryan Talbot to his Eisner and Hugo award nominated steampunk detective series.

25. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Mystery, Steam-punk, Tracy · Tags:

Grandville Mon Amour by Bryan Talbot, 104 pages, read by Tracy, on 08/23/2014

Convicted psychotic killer and extremist fanatic Edward “Mad Dog” Mastock violently escapes the guillotine’s blade in the Tower of London to once again terrorize the Socialist Republic of Britain. But dogging Mastock’s bloody footsteps is his longtime adversary and nemesis, Detective Inspector Archie LeBrock, at odds with Scotland Yard and intent on bringing Mastock’s horrific murder spree to an end, once and for all. Aided by his friend and colleague Detective Roderick Ratzi, LeBrock follows the trail of carnage to Paris, otherwise known as Grandville, the largest city in a world dominated by the French Empire that is the prime target of Mastock’s sadistic terrorism. Can LeBrock capture the Mad Dog before he can mete out his final vengeance, or will LeBrock’s own quest for redemption be dragged to ground by the demons of his past?

25. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Mystery, Steam-punk, Tracy · Tags:

Grandville by Bryan Talbot, 104 pages, read by Tracy, on 08/22/2014

Two hundred years ago, Britain lost the Napoleonic War and fell under the thumb of French domination. Gaining independence after decades of civil disobedience and anarchist bombings, the Socialist Republic of Britain is now a small, unimportant backwater connected by a railway bridge, steam-powered dirigible, and mutual suspicion to France. When a British diplomat’s murder is made to look like suicide, ferocious Detective Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard stalks a ruthless murder squad through the heart of a Belle Epoque Paris, the center of the greatest empire in a world of steam-driven hansom cabs, automatons, and flying machines. LeBrock’s relentless quest can lead only to death, truth… or war.

25. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Graphic Novel · Tags:

The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch by Neil Gaiman, 56 pages, read by Angie, on 08/22/2014

This is the story of a group of friends who attend a Night of Dreaming, a strange and fantastical circus. During the performance Miss Finch disappears and reappears as someone else. It is a strange tale and one I am not 100% sure I understand.

25. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Graphic Novel · Tags:

Violent Cases by Neil Gaiman , 64 pages, read by Angie, on 08/22/2014

A young boy goes to see an osteopath who just happens to be the doctor who worked with Al Capone. Their paths cross several times as the boy’s recollection changes and his perception of events differs. It is a strange and wonderful story with beautiful illustrations.