16. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books · Tags:

Witch & Wizard by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet, 314 pages, read by Kira, on 11/14/2014

Witch_and_Wizard_CoverA fantasy novel by one of the most popular (if Not the MOST popular author – I think he has the broadest appeal).  I’d had such good luck with David Baldacci, and Nora Roberts.  Well this time I struck out.  There was way more freaking out than was necessary and also too much immediate foreshadowing “my next decision was stupid, and unfortunately, so was my next”.  I would think someone like Patterson would be good at straight out telling a story, without so much dancing around with the thoughts of the main characters.  Basically two teens wake up in the middle of the night and are taken to jail, after a new order has been elected into office.  Oh, yeah, and they both apparently have major powers, which their parents explained to them, except they weren’t listening.

13. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tammy · Tags: ,

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, 373 pages, read by Tammy, on 11/02/2014

sweetness at the bottom of the pieThe first book in a series of British mystery novels. But our detective is non-other than a plucky, whip-smart 11 year old girl. Who loves chemistry, scientific exploration, and especially poisons. I believe Flavia and Sherlock Holmes could have had some interesting conversations. Though smart and curious Flavia still remains an 11-year-old girl and tormented younger sister of two older sisters.

Set in the summer of 1950 at the decaying mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce finds herself surrounded by curious happenings. First a dead bird appears on their doorstep with a postage stamp pinned to its beak. But more worrisome is how this unnerves her usually steadfast father. Just hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in their cucumber patch and hears him utter his last words.

Flavia is both appalled and delighted as she says “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”

12. November 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Clariel: the Lost Abhorsen by Garth Nix, 382 pages, read by Kira, on 11/08/2014

index2In this prequel to the Sabriel series, protagonist Clariel, is forced to move to the city of Belisaire with her parents.  Her mother is moving to the capital, because it provides better opportunities for her work as a goldsmith.  Clariel hates being cooped up in the city – and is desperate to escape.  She is subjected to having to act properly, and decide whether or not to step into the political machinations.  There is a very funny scene at her first class at the academy – the subject “drinking tea”, where all sorts of etiquette and protocols are to be observed, where the instructor struggles in vain to rein his 5 students in. Throughout the novel, Clariel struggles with doing the right thing versus escaping and gaining her own freedom.  Returning readers will be delighted that Moggett the sarcastic cat-like creature has an extended role.

 

30. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books · Tags:

The Finisher by by David Baldacci, 497 pages, read by Kira, on 10/29/2014

index2 I hadn’t read anything by popular author David Baldacci, so when I saw this book in my favorite genre I thought I’d give it a try.  This strategy paid off when I discovered Nora Roberts’ fantasy trilogy Morrigan’s Cross.  It is a very fast-paced read with a rather different world, some sort of apocalypse, I believe, with perhaps magic or maybe its technology.  Things are Not as they seem, it took me awhile to figure out how this universe/world worked.  The main character Vega Jane (an orphan of course) sees her coworker being chased by tracking hounds followed by the City Council members.  Her friend is headed into the Quag – wherein there are only monsters and no sane member ventures into.  Yet things are Not as they seem.  Vega Jane’s transformation seemed a lot more believable than a number of heroes, I’m Not sure why.  I cannot wait for the sequels!

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12. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction · Tags:

Tell Me by Joan Bauer, 272 pages, read by Angie, on 10/12/2014

Anna is a twelve year old drama kid. She is currently starring as a dancing cranberry at the mall. Unfortunately, her parents are not getting along right now and need a little space. They decide to send Anna to Rosemont to stay with her grandma Mimi for a little while. Rosemont is getting ready for its famous flower festival which Mimi founded and runs. Anna jumps right in to life in Rosemont. She meets Taylor and Taylor’s horse Zoe and she gets a role as a dancing petunia at the local library. While at the library one day Anna notices a sad girl who seems to be in trouble. Anna can’t get the girl out of her mind and is determined to help her. She enlists the help of Mimi, the librarian, and the everyone she can think of including the librarian’s grandson Brad who works for Homeland Security. Anna spends her days helping with the festival, being a petunia at the library and trying to remember more details to help this mysterious girl.

Joan Bauer does a good job writing these types of books. They have strong female lead characters who kids can identify with. Anna is smart and determined and dedicated. Things don’t always work out for her but she does the best she can with what she has. Human trafficking is a pretty dark subject but it is handled with a gentle touch in this book. It is a good introduction of the subject to kids who have probably not heard about it before. I like the fact that the case wasn’t solved like magic but through investigation and determination. Tell Me is a good read and another winner for Bauer.

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

Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop, 369 pages, read by Angie, on 09/01/2014

There are certain series I love but really wish I hadn’t discovered until the entire series is out. Why? Because I want to devour them all in one sitting of course. After having read the first two books in this series I was disappointed to find out I am going to have to wait until next year to read the next one. Ugh!!

Murder of Crows picks up where Written in Red left off. The citizens of the Lakeside Courtyard have successfully fought off the mercenaries who were coming to kidnap Meg and young Sam and take them back to the Controller. So one problem has been solved, but the bigger issues still remain. There are still lots of places with tensions running high between the terra indigene and the humans. There are more instances where the drugs gone over wolf and feel good have caused havoc. And now there are reports of tainted meat causing the same kinds of problems the drugs did. For those who know where the drugs are coming from this is disturbing news. The humans don’t seem to realize how tenuous their place is in the world and how short their time might be if they keep pissing off the Others. Meg’s prophecies are dark indeed and the future doesn’t look very good for the human population. Simon and the rest of the Lakeside Courtyard are trying to solve the problems before they escalate past the point of no return. They are working closely with the local police to find solutions and peace. It is not escaping the notice of other Courtyards or terra indigene. They are on the hunt for the Controller and the cassandra sangue he is using to poison the world. 

I think I might have loved this book just as much as Written in Red. Anne Bishop does such a fantastic job of building the worlds she creates and making them come alive. She also does a fantastic job of creating characters you come to love and cheer for. I thought it was interesting that in this book, as in the last, the Others are not the bad guys. The bad guys are the humans. Sure the Others do terrible things, but they are not human and the reader isn’t expected to look at them through a human lens. They are other and for the most part think of humans as prey and meat. They tolerate humans because humans provide some of the things they enjoy, but they do not need humans and most of them never want to be around them. That is why I love the dynamic between the Lakeside Others and the humans who work with them. It is meant to show an ideal; it is an experiment to see if humans and Others can tolerate each other enough to live peacefully. It makes for thrilling storytelling. 

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

Written in Red by Anne Bishop, 448 pages, read by Angie, on 08/31/2014

Namid created the world and all those in it. When Namid created humans they were given a small part of the world; it was only after they ventured out of their area that they realized they were not the dominate species. The rest of the world was controlled by the Others and the humans had to learn to live with them. The Others are shapeshifters, vampires, elementals and others who you really don’t want to know about. As the humans moved out into the world they negotiated settlements with the Others who controlled the areas. Soon there are human towns surrounded by the terra indigene who control the world. There are also human cities with terra indigeneCourtyards. The Others control the world and everything in it; they decide where the humans live, how long they live there and what resources they get. It is up to the humans to become more than prey. 

Meg is a cassandra sangue, a blood prophet, who sees prophecies when her skin is cut. She has run away from the Controller who operated the compound where she lived and controlled all aspects of her life. She ends up at the Lakeside Courtyard where she meets Simon Wolfgard and is given the job of human liason. It is her responsibility to take in all the mail and packages the residents of the Courtyard receive and make sure they are properly distributed. Lakeside isn’t like other Courtyards in that they interact more with the humans. They have stores the humans can use and they have human employees. Meg’s presence changes the dynamic of the Courtyard in a way no one could have foreseen. She forms relationships with the Others and with the humans in their employee. But Meg has powerful enemies and they are not willing to let such valuable property fall through their hands. They are determined to return her to the Controller not matter the cost. 

Anne Bishop has again created a world and characters that suck you in and don’t let go. I loved the world she created in Namid and the creatures that inhabit it. It is very much our world with a different history. I like the new take on shapeshifters and vampires and the fact that we get to know their motivations and what they think of humans. I LOVED the elementals; they are my favorite characters in this series. The action of the book was great and I liked that this is a planned series so nothing was really tied up at the end of this book. It isn’t a cliff hanger, but there is a lot more story to tell in the future books in the series. I think the relationships between the charactesr and the world building are going to make this one of my favorite series. 

01. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags: ,

Dragon Avenger: Book Two of the Age of Fire by E.E. Knight, 400 pages, read by Kira, on 08/31/2014

index wistala_by_3l3ctr0head-d46r954 51pxnUyqBPL._ In this 2nd book, we hear the story of the dragon sibling Wistala, the female clutchling who survives the attack of the nest.  She attempts to rescue her father whom she finds near death on an outcropping.  She has an adventure with a cat, and eventually takes up  residence with a wise old elf named Rainfall, from whom she learns great wisdom and a gentleness of spirit.  She spends some time in a traveling circus learning to tell individual’s fortunes. Eventually she is able to manipulate the downfall of her parent’s and sister’s murder by gaining the trust of her enemy and setting him up for a fall.

04. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

Grave Dance: an Alex Craft novel by Kalayna Price, 400 pages, read by Kira, on 08/01/2014

GraveDance grave_witch_cover_by_leafofsteel-d4v7vbqprice  In this second book of the series Alex Craft, raiser of “shades” is tasked with finding the killer who has only left feet as remains.  She also has to keep from being captured by various Fae courts.  Then there are the 2 guys competing for her, one is a grim reaper named Death, the other Falin Andrews is the Winter Court’s Assassin.  Another rousing fast-paced mystery!  I look forward to imagesDSC_0036the next book in the series.

22. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books · Tags:

Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington, 278 pages, read by Kira, on 07/14/2014

livfor  Liv is a scholarship student at a rich school. You know that Liv has been killed at the start of this novel.  The question is why did she die, and why have there been so many mysterious deaths in the past.  This was a fun read, not particularly deep, but I like ghost characters.  The ending of the book leaves the possibility of sequel, but this probably won’t happen.Huntingdon-College-CC-Spyder-Monkey-e1351559840834The_Haunted_Mansion

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kira, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, Thriller/Suspense · Tags:

Grave Witch by Kalayna Price, 336 pages, read by Kira, on 06/30/2014

Grave Witch UK aus Kapaklar3 germangravewitchKapaklar1 0cb4f2ec-7b89-4ba2-a12e-20c9d13192a1biopicIn this paranormal murder mystery, private investigator, Alex Craft is able to raise shades and talk to them about how they died.  She stumbles upon some dark ritual murders, and now she needs to track down the killer to save her own life.

Captivating World-building. Some Romance, complicated but well structured plot twists.

19. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Mystery, Teen Books · Tags:

Shadows by Robin McKinley, 356 pages, read by Kira, on 06/01/2014

shadows tp edot warp realiztMaggie lives in a world being torn apart by cohesion breaks – aka cobeys, which are breaks in reality, where chunks of space are missing.  Magic has been outlawed in the Neworld where she lives, in order to cut down on the number of cobeys, which seem attracted to magic.  Her own family has had there genes chopped, so that magic doesn’t become active.  Then Maggie’s Mom remarries, and Maggie knows that there is something wrong with her new step-dad, (who’s come from the OldWorld where magic is still practices) – he seems to be surrounded by shadows.  Then all of a sudden some huge cobeys appear right where Maggie lives.  The police come out, and start hauling people away.  Maggie and her friends need to figure out what is happening and how they can stop the cobeys.  Like most of McKinley’s books this title could easily be continued in a series, but she doesn’t seem to pursue the potential series.

03. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books · Tags:

Fire : tales of elemental spirits by Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson, 297 pages, read by Kira, on 05/29/2014

fire1 hellhound5 stories around the motif of fire beings.  I preferred Robin’s tales over her husband Peter’s (big surprise, since I’d never heard of him before).  The best tale was called Hellhound, about a demon who changed sides.  Peter’s tales had some very excellent sections, and then other parts seemed liked they needed fleshing out (also, could have done without the sexism – no it was a made-up time, so did Not need to be part of the context).

28. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle · Tags: , ,

Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, 373 pages, read by Noelle, on 05/16/2014

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

 

A fairy tale-like story.  The rulers of Montagne have been rumored to possess and use magic.  But this has been only a rumor.  Grandmonther (queen mother) Benificence, her two daughters Wisdom and Temperance, along with an orphan named Fortitude and a miller’s son Tips all end up at Wisdom’s wedding to the neighboring and coveting kingdom.  Its a pretty fast paced, fun tale, written mostly in letter, epistolary format. wisdom's kiss wisdom-s-kiss

14. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

House of Ivy and Sorrow by Natalie Whipple, 362 pages, read by Kira, on 05/13/2014

Jo Hemlock has spent her life hiding, hiding the fact that she’s a witch, and hiding from the evil clan of witches that killed her mother, that are now pursuing her and her grandmother.  Now that she’s about to have a regular boyfriend, is when the evil clan strikes again, sending her innocent father (whom she had never met) searching for her Mom and then for Jo.   Fast paced, and engaging book (not deep though).  house ivy s grimoire House-Ivy-Sorrow-BannerI would enjoy a sequel.

01. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags: ,

Murder of Crows: a Novel of the Others by Anne Bishop, 354 pages, read by Kira, on 03/29/2014

murdcrows Mexican Wolf Peeking Over the Snow c.murder.crows.poland.TNIn the first novel, Written In Red Meg Corbin cements her place among the Others (vampires, werewolves, Medusa-plague-causer, elementals, etc).  In this book Murder of Crows, Meg and her Lakeside community confront additional attacks on their community and attempts to recapture Meg.   The Others are reminiscent of Native Americans, and I like the fact that they don’t get pushed around here and are able to deal with the intruders on their own terms… also that the polluters get their comeuppance.   I really enjoy this series – definite page-turners and full of atmosphere!

 

“Near perfect…Written in Red isn’t just the best urban fantasy of the year, it may be one of the best ever.”—All Things Urban Fantasy

01. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls by Jane Yolen, 116 pages, read by Kira, on 02/28/2014

This was a mixed bag of tales.  Some lived up to the advertising, others were less successful.  One of the problems I had with some of the tales, is telling me how smart the protagonist is, and then all she did was sprinkle magic fairy dust that she had from somewhere to solve all the villages problems.  I realize it is more difficult to show instead of tell, in short tales, but maybe you Not-One-Damsel-in-Distress-9780152020477can’t have short fairy tales that cannot 5c6beb7d1455d9712297b6c80feb8533be shown, but paladinbyxiaji777xj3must be told. strng il_570xN.541902331_kzpc images I did enjoy the story Janet Burd (a Tam Lin variation), as well as the Mollee Whoppee story.

22. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, 439 pages, read by Kira, on 01/19/2014

Wow!  I was so impressed with this 2nd book of the Raven Cycle trilogy.  Definitely, a book that stands on its own (well the background stoThedreamthievesbluery would be nice to have). tumblr_mswuqaIkXF1r181heo1_500135343_10202156284849292_698349595_oBlack Prince effigycabes water  Part of the credit goes to the awesome narrator of the Audiobook – Will Patton.  Patton manages unique and appropriate voices for each character.  The other part I really loved about this book, is the way it takes comaurora lynchmon narratives and breaks them, oh oh, the mother and aunties are letting the Hit Man into their house! danger danger, oh, but these women aren’t stupid, no they’re just braver and more clever than women usually get dreamthivscredit for.  This story focusesThe-Raven-Boys-IB2(pp_w573_h441) on Ronin and his abilties to dream objects and bring them back.  Also: Great Worldbuilding!

Pics include: Blue, the gang, Kavinsky’s car, Glendauer, Cabes Water, Aurora Lynchtumblr_mqgw0pp1ej1s2qitso1_500 tumblr_mdmygfZaTa1qmbg8bo1_500 and 2 collages.

30. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Terrier (Beka Cooper #1) by Tamora Pierce, 581 pages, read by Angie, on 12/29/2013

Beka Cooper is a puppy. A Provost’s Guard in training. She has been assigned to the best dog pair in the evening watch and is ready to get to work. Beka has a good feel for the lower city and its people. She also hears the ghosts of the dead who are carried by pigeons. Through her little birdies she learns about two crimes: someone is hiring people to dig and the killing them and someone is kidnapping children and require ransom from the parents to get them back. Beka becomes a terrier with these two cases and convinces her dogs to investigate.

I have been reading Pierce for years and love how her novels have evolved. The Beka Cooper books are more well written than the Alanna books simply because she has more room to work. When the Alanna books were written there was no way they could be the length these books are today. The length gives Pierce more room to develop the plot and the characters.

I love the fact that Beka is not a high born character like so many of the Tortall characters are. She is from the lower city and that is where she will stay. She is an amazingly strong female and a good role model. The secondary characters are great as well. The rogues and dogs fit together wonderfully and Pierce has created another wonderful rascal in Rosto – I can’t wait to see how he turns out.