Saturday, April 30, 2011

Behind the Palace Doors: Five Centuries of Sex, Adventure, Vice, Treachery, and Folly from Royal Britain by Michael Farquhar, 307 pages

With all the hoopla over the wedding in Britain, this was a perfect time to read this book. This covers some of the misadventures of the British royal family starting with Henry VIII and working all the way up to the present queen, Elizabeth II. It's filled with lots of little chapters, making it a fun and light read. I've read the author's four other books and really enjoyed them, and this was just as fun. Nothing better than reading about the sex scandals of people who have been dead for centuries, lol.

In the Land of the Lawn Weenies by David Lubar, 240 pages

This is the final short story collection by David Lubar that I hadn't read yet and it was just as funny as the other books. He has a strange and odd sense of humor that really appeals to me. In fact, this is the type of short stories I would write if I had any writing ability. I pretty much had to beat my kids off so I could read them first (one of the advantages of being the parent.)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Walden Two.

by B.F. Skinner, 138 pages.

I say 138 pages because that's all I read of this book. I don't know if that counts, but I'm at the halfway point and I've been really trying to persevere with this one, but the book is just too drawn out. I can't stay focused on the content of this Utopian idea. I was hoping it would become dystopian at some point, perhaps later it does, but it just insisted upon dragging on and on and on forever. It's supposed to be a big "controversial" book, but it's just not interesting enough to be controversial. It's becoming a waste of my time, so I'm moving on.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal, 293 pages

I read a ton of Sweet Valley High books through middle school and somewhat in high school. So I was interested when I heard there was a new book that takes place 10 years after the last one. Jessica has betrayed Elizabeth and Elizabeth is now living in New York City. Can these two sisters ever patch this up and become the twins and friends they were before? I can't go into any more details without giving too much of the plot.
This book isn't what you would call fine literature but fit the Sweet Valley High mood exactly. The books were always fun pieces of fluff (I still remember slam books going around my school because we read about it in SVH) but that is all they weren't meant to be. For anyone who grew up with Jessica, Elizabeth, Steven, Todd, Bruce, Lila and the rest of the gang, you should pick this book up and enjoy a walk down memory lane. It's a little more grown up than the originals but so are the characters. I broke out laughing when Mom Wakefield dropped the f-bomb in this book!

The Trouble with Chickens by Doreen Cronin (119 pages)

Poppy and Sweetie are missing and J.J. Tully is on the case. Actually, he is supposed to be enjoying his retirement from being a search and rescue dog, but when Millicent the chicken solicits J.J.'s help in finding her missing chicks, he cannot so no.

Doreen Cronin's first book in the J.J. Tully Mystery series is short, witty and the perfect book for an elementary student who wants a fast-paced, quickly read mystery chapter book. Also, as you can see from the cover, Kevin Cornell's drawings, which are dispersed throughout, add a nice dimension to the story.

Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories by Simon Winchester, 495 pages

This book covers the Atlantic Ocean, with the author using Shakespeare's speech "All the world's a stage" from As You Like It, with man's seven stages of life illustrating the ocean, the infant, the school boy, the lover, the soldier, the justice, pantaloon, and second childishness. He covers the creation of the Atlantic ocean, the exploration, the military battles, and even man's destruction towards the ocean. This was a slow read at times but very intriguing and interesting. I had read The Professor and the Madman by this author so I knew he liked a lot of details, which this book had tons of. If you enjoy non-fiction, this is a great read. Just plan on devoting a big chunk of time to it.

Dead by Midnight by Carolyn Hart, 282 pages

Annie and Max Darling find themselves investigating yet another murder (remind me never to go Broward's Rock since everyone seems to drop dead under mysterious circumstances) that seems to be piling up bodies and suspects galore. With cat philosophy pictures and friends contributing investigating tips, Annie finds herself knee deep in a mystery that may have Annie as the final dead body.
This is the 21st book in the series so there weren't a lot of surprises, but this was still an enjoyable read. I think I enjoy these books even more after getting to hear Carolyn Hart speak at the library last summer. If you haven't read any of her mysteries, you are really missing out. I always finish one of the Death on Demand books with a list of new mystery authors to read due to Annie's mystery bookstore.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Twenty Wishes, by Debbie Macomber, 360 pages

Anne Marie owns a bookstore and holds a reading group that consists of widowed women. During a meeting one night they decide that they will each make a list of things they want to do. They make a list of 20 things...twenty wishes. The wishes are from going to Paris, falling in love again, buying a pair of red cowboots to going hot air ballooning. The story follows the women as they start to make their wishes reality.

I really liked this book.

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris, 8 discs or 312 pages

This book is the ninth installment in Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire mystery series, which serves as the inspiration for HBO's hit show, "True Blood." I actually read it when it first came out, but I wanted to revisit the most recent books in the series before the release of number 10 in May, so I picked up the audio version. I thoroughly enjoy this series. I'm not a die-hard fan of vampire fiction (no pun intended), as it's usually way too serious and angsty for me, but I adore the Sookie Stackhouse books. They're funny, populated by other creatures besides vampires, and the vamps aren't what you're used to in popular fiction. Plus, the heroine is a telepathic waitress in a bar who doesn't take any crap from anyone, including the vampires. "Dead and Gone" takes the series in a much darker direction. It opens with a particularly grisly murder, and simmering tensions in the fae world erupt into an all-out civil war that spills over into Sookie's life in unsettling ways. Be prepared to say good-bye to some minor characters in the series. If you're already a fan of the TV series, I encourage you to pick up the books (but read them in order); likewise, if you're a fan of the books (and not offended by some sexual content), check out the TV series. Each differs from the other enough that they can be enjoyed equally.

43 Old Cemetery Road: (Book 1) Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise (154 pages)

Bestselling children's author Ignatius B. Grumply has not written anything in 20 years, but this summer he decides to move into a Victorian mansion at 43 Old Cemetery Road to get some peace and quiet and hopefully, do away with his writer's block. However, I. B. Grumply is unaware that the mansion at 43 Old Cemetery Road is already occupied by an 11-year-old boy named Seymour Hope, his cat, Shadow, and a ghost named Olive C. Spence, who has vowed to haunt the mansion until one of her manuscripts is published.

The story is told through a combination of letters, newspaper clippings and drawings. Author Kate Klise and her sister, illustrator M. Sarah Klise have used this format for previous books, and it works exceptionally well for this series. The white space on each page is significant, making for a quick read, plus, the combination of intriguing characters, humor and ghostly activities, will hook readers and leave them clamoring for book two, which is introduced at the end of the book. Recommend this one to the scores of Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans and give them a fun, new series to devour.

And to sweeten the pot, not only was this a great book, but the Joplin community will have an opportunity to meet the author of this remarkable new series this summer. Bestselling children's author Kate Klise will be visiting the Joplin Public Library on July 7th. She will arrive at the Library in the morning and conduct a workshop with 4 to 8 year-olds at 11:00 am and then in the afternoon, at 3:30 pm, she will make an auditorium style presentation for kindergarten through fifth graders at Joplin Memorial Hall--212 W. 8th Street. Kate's books will be on sell following both events and she will be available for a book signing.

For more details visit or call 417-623-2184.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Death of a Chimney Sweep by M. C. Beaton, 247 pages

Hamish Macbeth is the constable for Lochdubh and the surrounding area in Scotland. When Captain Davenport is found stuffed up his chimney, it's believed that local chimney sweep Pete Ray is the culprit but Hamish quickly turns his attention to the captain's past looking for suspects. The captain managed to anger and steal from many people in his past. Hamish is sure that one of the people he defrauded is responsible for the death, especially when bodies start piling up.
I've even M. C. Beaton's series over the years, including her Agatha Raisin series. If murder mysteries with odd characters, intriguing plots and lots of humor appeal to you, this is one author you don't want to miss.

Land of the Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel, 1248 pages

I've read all the book in the Clan of the Cave Bear series many time over the years ever since I picked the first one up when I was thirteen. There was almost a ten year wait for the next to last book and then about 9 years for this final book. I must say this last book just didn't measure up to the first books but was still a read I wouldn't have missed. Ayla and Jondalar have made it home to his people and Ayla is training to be a Zelandonia, a spiritual leader. But they still love each other deeply. Jean Auel has brought to life prehistoric people with this massive series. I recommend starting with the first book in the series and working your way through before you pick this up.

Abraham by Bruce Feiler, 234 pages

Abraham is a central figure in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, with all three religions co-opting him as the father of their religion. How can one man be the starting point for such three different religions? Bruce Feiler does an excellent job exploring how each of the three religions came to adopt Abraham as their father, making him a good starting point for discussions on how we can come together. I hadn't realize how little is actually know about Abraham, and how he had kind of sank into the background of history for centuries. This was the book club book for the Readers without Borders book club and I'm very glad I read it.

Blue Moon by Laurell K. Hamilton, 418 pages

Anita Blake gets a call that her former fiance, Richard, has been arrested in Tennessee on charges of rape. Knowing that there is no way Richard could have done it and the full moon is only days away, Anita races to Tennessee to help find a way to clear Richard. It quickly becomes apparent that Richard has been framed to remove him from the scene. But what do the locals not want them to find out, so badly that they are willing to kill for it.
It has been years since I'd read this book in the Anita Blake series, so I had pretty much forgotten everything it. It was a treat to enjoy it again for what seemed like the first time. This book had werewolves, wereleopards, vampires, and even a demon. If you like dark and delicious vampire books, this is the series for you.

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai (262 pages)

Ten-year-old Hà does not want to leave Vietnam, but in 1975, when the war reaches Saigon, she and her family have little choice but to board a ship and flee their homeland. Once on the ship they wait more than a month to be rescued and when they finally are, they are taken to a refugee camp on the island of Guam. From there Hà's mother chooses to relocate the family to the United States, because she believes it holds the most opportunities for her children, and they stay in a camp in Florida until a man from Alabama agrees to sponsor them.

Once in Alabama they live with the "Cowboy," as Hà affectionately nicknames their sponsor, until he generously finds them a place of their own. Soon Hà's oldest brother is working as a mechanic and she and her two other brothers are enrolled in school.

School proves difficult for Hà, not only because she does not speak English, but because her classmates make fun or her and treat her differently based solely on the way she looks. Thankfully, one of the neighbors--who happens to be a retired school teacher--welcomes Hà and her family to their new neighborhood and begins tutoring Hà privately. Eventually, she makes two friends in her class and things become a little easier for her, though she still has many challenges to overcome.

Debut author, Thanhha Lai perfectly captures Hà's voice and emotions. And in an author's note at the end of the story, readers will discover that Lai used much of what happened to her in real life as the basis of Hà's story. Written in a beautiful, prose format readers will devour this short, touching novel.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

HomeSong, By Thomas Kinkade and Katherine Spencer, 377 pages

This is the second book in the Cape Light Novels. The story starts back up with Emily running for Town Mayor. She is running against Charlie, the owner of the Clam Box Restaurant. Emily's sister Jessica and Sam are planning their wedding, but their mother refuses to accept the marriage. She feels Jessica could do better in her life than marrying Sam. Sara, Emily's daughter, finally decides to tell her who she is. One of the newcomers to Cape Light wants to start a place for kids that need a second chance. Some of the townspeople are against it and it makes a hot debate for the two running for mayor. I'm looking forward to reading the next book.

Get Real: What Kind of World Are You Buying?

by Mara Rockliff, 112 pages.

I SOOO need to be a better hippie. I knew when I picked up this book about eco-friendly life that I was going to get all self-righteously angry and make some changes. This book should be required reading for all American CONSUMErs. Here are the new radical things I put on my list to change because of this book:

*I will never buy bottled water again (a lot of it is just filtered tap water, a lot of it has more chemicals in it than regular water, and a lot of the really fresh and exotic water is taking water away from the locals, man!). When we have perfectly good regulated water coming straight from the tap, why would you pay $1 for bottled water anyway? Remember when we thought bottled water was ridiculous 10 years ago? Well, it is.

*I will get my compost going again. I have it all set up, but we set it up in the backyard with the dogs. What were we thinking? It'll take ten minutes to move the little fenced-in compost area to the front yard and start makin' soil, baby!

*I will buy used clothes. It sounds like a lot of work to research companies to find sweat-shop free stuff, so I will simply get all my clothes from hand-me-downs, the DAV, and vintage clothing shops. No more mall-threads for me!

*I will buy only fair-trade coffee and chocolate from now on.

*I will start thinking more about packaging. Like, for example, when I need a Sharpie I can buy one for $1.50 at a craft store instead of the 2-pack at Target that comes with cardboard and plastic waste.

*I will simply try to appreciate what I already have more. Use everything until it breaks or falls apart. If I simply can't resist the latest gadget (and sometimes I won't be able to) I'll give away my old model to a friend.

*I will start going to the farmer's market and spending more money on healthy, whole, happy foods.

I loved this book. Sometimes I hate knowing the truth, and it is really hard to purchase responsibly in the United States, but gosh darn it, I'm going to try real hard!


by Anne Rice, 353 pages.

This book was an insufferable bore. Rice doesn't seem to be capable of writing compelling female characters (except Akasha); perhaps she wasn't capable of writing compelling narrative at ALL past "Queen of the Damned". I can't even believe I made it through this book. It's akin to that feeling when you, for some reason, see a dreadful movie through to the end and then lament those lost 2 hours of your life that you will never get back. I will never get the hours back it took me to trudge through this wretched novel. Pandora is a very trite woman who fits into all kinds of terrible female stereotypes. Most of the time, Rice ignores females altogether, but when she mentions and/or writes for them, she makes them into listless wanderers full of whim and "feminine wiles", without merit. Ick!

The worst part is that I read this book as a teenager and I had fond thoughts of it! What was wrong with me then? Pandora could have been so much more interesting and varied, like Lestat.

This book effectively turned me off to Anne Rice. I think I'll stick to the first three novels of the Vampire Chronicles and pretend the rest don't exist.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead; 208 pages

I have been wanting to read this book for a long time, since it won the Newbery award, and I finally got to it!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (360 pages)

The Scorch Trials is the second book in the Maze Runner Trilogy. Thomas and the other Gladers are back and despite what the people running WICKED told them in the final chapters of The Maze Runner, they are about to be tested again.

This time the testing takes place in a part of the world where sun flares have baked the earth and most of the inhabitants have been infected with a disease known as "the Flare." They have two weeks to make it through this virtual wasteland, without getting killed by bloodthirsty Cranks or destroyed by the elements. If they do, WICKED has promised them that they will receive the cure for "the Flare" and be given their freedom.

James Dashner has written another nail-biter that is sure to hook teen and adult fans alike. The pacing is excellent, with another challenge always looming just off in the distance. Mind games abound in this second book and readers will be left with way more questions than answers in the final chapters, but The Death Cure, the final book in the trilogy, is scheduled to be released in October so all should be cleared up then.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sex: A Book for Teens by Nikol Hasler, 190 pages

This book was found by one of our pages hidden behind books in the nonfiction section. Looking it over, I decided I wanted to read it before giving it to my 15-year-old to read. With such chapters as Sexual Identification; Kinks, Fantasies, and Fetishes; Foreplay; and The First Time, I was at times embarrassed and shocked (there was stuff I didn't know about) but felt it was information that I would rather my teen got from the book instead of her friends or the internet. I am hoping that this will encourage Renee to come to me with any questions she has (OMG, do people really do that?) but if nothing else it will serve as a conversation starting point. At times I felt like the book went too far in the premise of promoting teen sex, but I realized that it was written mainly for teens who are having sex or about too. If anything, the book may scare Renee off the thought of sex for a while. This is also a good resource for gay teens and their parents. The author included lots of information with humor. I just wish the book had a different cover. I sat in my car and read it during my youngest daughter's ballet class because there was no way I was sitting in the waiting room reading it in front of the other parents. I am sure we will get complaints about this book but that is all part of being a public library.

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (260 pages)

It's Christmastime in NYC, and Dash is at his favorite bookstore looking through some books by his favorite author when he discovers a red notebook on the shelf. So what does he do? He opens it, of course! And what he finds in the afore-mentioned notebook leads to a scavenger hunt of sorts throughout New York City with a feisty, peculiar, lovable girl named Lily.

I've read some pretty negative reviews about this book, but I really liked it. I almost read the entire thing in one sitting (but unfortunately, sleep was calling my name last night so I had to finish it this morning...). Lily is adorably quirky and Dash is, well, dashing. But I think what I really loved about this book was the plot. Getting to know each other by trading a notebook full of thoughts and challenges back and forth? Yes, please! Where can I find one?!

The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey, 424 pages

Lisa reviewed this book just under two weeks ago, so I won't go into a much of details. This was much darker than the first book and that's saying a lot. There is much more blood, skin, and gore galore in this book. I agree with Lisa in that you shouldn't read this book while you're eating. I've read an another book that talked about the Wendigo myth so I was familiar with the lore. This is one of the creepier creatures of mythology. It's basically a human that is turned into a animalistic cannibal creature who is cursed with a hunger for human flesh that is never sated. Makes for delightful bedtime reading.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis (398 pages)

Amy and her parents have been cryogenically frozen and are supposed to wake up 300 years in the future on a new planet called Centauri-Earth. But someone unpugs her chamber and she wakes up, 50 years before she is supposed to, in a world where people blindly follow - and practically worship - a man called Eldest, the tyrannical ruler of the spaceship. With her pale skin and flaming red hair, she is soon labeled a freak in the frightening world in which she has found herself, a world where every single person has the same olive skin and dark hair. Then there is Elder, the next leader of the spaceship Godspeed. He is fascinated with Amy's beautiful looks and fiery personality. Elder and Amy soon discover that not everything is as it seems and Eldest will stop at nothing to ensure his lies and secrets are never uncovered.

This book is a hard one to describe without making it sound far-fetched and ridiculous, but I did enjoy it. Although somewhat predictable at times, it was a very interesting read and I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of teen science fiction mixed with a little romance.

By the way, isn't the cover fantastic?? :)

Death On Demand, by Carolyn G. Hart, 213 pages

Annie Laurance inherited a bookstore on Rock Island, South Carolina from her Uncle Ambrose. Her favorite books were mysteries. The island had many mystery writers that lived there and every Sunday night a talk was given by one of them . On this particular Sunday a murder occurred. Elliot, a famous mystery writer was telling everyone how he was going to write a book about the writers on the island...tell their secrets to the world. The light suddenly went out and when they came back on, there was Elliot, dead on the floor, with a poisoned dart in his neck. Everyone became suspect, but the police chief was so sure that it was Anne herself that committed the murder. Her Uncle Ambrose had been found months before floating in the harbour, apparently having fallen off his boat. Anne had inherited his bookstore and used all her money to fix the store. Luckily for Anne, her friend, Max Darling, shows up to help her clear her name and find the real murderer. ..but there are more killings and it gets even more dangerous rooting into other people's lives.

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult (466 pages)

Jodi Picoult's latest book deal with numerous tough topics: infertility, marriage, the power of music, gay rights, religion, the true meaning of family and much more.

As usually, the chapters are alternatively narrated by the story's three main characters, making for a well-rounded viewpoint, not just one. I always appreciate this aspect of her writing, but it also means that if you leave off in the middle of a chapter you have to remember (or look back to see) who was narrating when you resume reading. Well worth the bit of effort though.

Zoe and Max Baxter have been trying for over ten years to have a baby. When the story opens Zoe is 24 weeks and headed to a surprise baby shower, however, during the shower, she starts cramping and has to be rushed to the emergency room where her baby is pronounced dead.

Afterward Zoe wants to try to conceive gain, but Max has had enough of the infertility roller coaster ride so he leaves Zoe and eventually files for divorce. Both Zoe and Max have a lot of healing to do and while both struggle to put their lives back together after the divorce, they eventually find paths that work for them. That is, until certain events pit them again one another in a legal battle.

Jodi Picoult is a master storyteller and her books are always timely and sensitive. I highly recommend this one.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, 559 pages

It seems like everyone has reviewed this book so I won't say much. I didn't plan on reading this book since it seemed like everyone in America was reading it but one of my sisters is reading it and wanted my opinion. I started the book planning on disliking it but to my surprise I really enjoyed it. It had a gripping story, interesting characters, and takes place in a circus. So to my shock, I must say, this was a good read, one I totally recommend picking up.

The Book of Tomorrow, by Cecelia Ahern, 312 pages

Sixteen year-old Tamara Goodwin is a spoiled rich girl whose life falls apart when her father commits suicide. Gone are the fancy clothes, the house by the sea, and every thing else money could buy. She can't take back the last words she shouted to her father, she couldn't save him. Tamara and her mother have to go live in the country with her mother's brother Arthur and his wife, Rosaleen. Arthur is the grounds keeper of a ruined castle that is close by. Tamara finds the castle comforting and it feels like home to her. As she explores her new surroundings, her mother just sleeps or sits in a chair for hours on end. One day a traveling library stops at her house. Inside she finds a book that has a lock on it and decides to check it out. A friend of hers, Sister Ignatius is able to break the lock and opens it for her. It's not really a book at all, it's pages are all blank. Sister Ignatius suggests to her that it may help if she used it as her diary.The next day Tamara decides to write in her new diary, but it has already been written in, and in her own handwriting. As she starts to read, she notices the date,the date is for the next day. Every day she goes to write it, it already shows what happened for that day.Tomorrow..she never thought of tomorrow before and what the consequences may be based on what she did in a day that would affect other people. She starts questioning events going on around her. She knows there are secrets and she will find out what they are.

I really enjoyed this book. I didn't put it down until I finished it.

Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman's Skiff by Rosemary Mahoney, 273 pages

MSSU has chosen Egypt as their next country and Rosemary Mahoney is the author who is coming to do an author talk. She spent 3 days rowing down the Nile by herself and this book features her adventures. More of the book is spent on her trying to buy a book than on her actual rowing time but it's an interesting look at Egypt. It's amazing how different their culture treats women, and how foreign women are treated not as women but a different being completely. I have dreamed about traveling to Egypt for years but I'm not sure if I would be comfortable going on my own after reading this. I look forward to the Egypt semester at MSSU and getting to listen to Rosemary talk about her time in Egypt.

Devil's Food Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke, 479 pages

This is like the 10th Hannah Swensen mystery and each one has been a fun read. When the local minister goes on a honeymoon his replacement is an old friend of the minister's family who spent some time as a teenager in the town. He seems like the ideal fill-in until Hannah finds him dead. Investigating his murder, Hannah realizes that the perfect Reverend may not have been as perfect as he seems. Hannah also must deal with her beau Norman being distant ever since his ex-girlfriend Bev has joined his dental practice. Has Norman deserted Hannah for the all-too-beautiful Bev or is there something else bothering Norman?
I always like this murder mysteries that contain lots of fun recipes. I prefer these to the Diane Mott Davidson cooking mysteries because I generally have the ingredients and ability to cook Joanne Fluke's recipes. My favorite recipe so far has been her Chocolate Highlander Cookies in a previous book. My mother-in-law even asked for the recipe!

What I Did For A Duke by Julie Anne Long, 371 pages

Alexander Moncrieffe, Duke of Falconbridge, has called off his engagement after catching his fiance in bed with Ian Eversea. Alexander is determined to get revenge and how better than by seducing Ian's sister Genevieve. The only thing Alexander didn't count on was falling for Genevieve. Genevieve has been in love with her best friend Lord Harry for years, and believes he feels the same way. When he announces his plans of proposing to someone else, Genevieve believes that her heart has been broken forever. Little does she expect to feel an attraction to the darkly sardonic Duke of Falconbridge. When these two cross paths, sparks fly and they instantly find themselves fighting against an instant attraction. But can they put aside the past to face a future together?
I've read a few in the Pennyroyal Green series so far and have enjoyed them all. "What I Did For a Duke" by Julie Anne Long may be my favorite to date. Alexander is dark, moody, and able to laugh at himself while Genevieve is spirited, controlled, and sarcastic, a combination that kept me eagerly turning pages and reading this book in one setting. With steamy seduction weaved with witty dialogue and lots of humor, this was a wonderful read that is a welcome addition to my book shelves.
This was a review book sent to me and sometimes nothing is more enjoyable than a total mind candy book. This was funny, sexy, and really enjoyable.

The Second Duchess by Elizabeth Loupas, 376 pages

The Duke of Ferrara, Alfonso d'Este, is rumored to have killed his first wife Lucrezia but on her wedding day, Barbara, his second duchess is determined to ignore those rumors. But Barbara finds her curiosity piqued and she decides that her safety lies in finding out the truth along with providing a heir. Lucrezia is an immobila, a spirit not yet moved on, who is unable to affect the living except to watch. Barbara suffers attempts on her life as she moves closer to discovering who killed Lucrezia but she may not survive long enough to learn the truth.
"The Second Duchess" by Elizabeth Loupas was a rich and sumptuous read, bringing history to life. The use of Lucrezia as an immobila was a creative plot device, she was able to give background and plot development without distracting. Barbara's spirit and strength was enjoyable but still suitable for the time period. Elizabeth Loupas has earned a place as one of my new favorite authors!
This is one of my review books and I very much recommend this book if you enjoy historical fiction. One of the nice additions at the back is the author interview and the reader's guide.

Shipwrecks, Monsters, and Mysteries of the Great Lakes by Ed Butts, 80 pages

I love books about ghosts, monsters, or any kind of unexplained mysteries so I had high hopes for this book. Unfortunately, it fell short of my expectations. It was a little dry in places and dumbed down in others. It covers the Great Lakes and some of the disappearances of ships, ships that have wrecked with major loss of life, and monsters (think American Loch Ness) that may inhabit the Great Lakes. If you want a fast, fast read, this would fit, but there are better books out there.

Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, by Richard Bach, 192 pages, 1977.

This lesser known novel by the author of Jonathon Livingston Seagull, is a great quick read for people who believe in everyday miracles and the powers of subconsciousness to create things and events in one's life. This is the second time I've read this book; it was originally given to me by a hippie girl in Springfield in 2005, with the challenge, "Let's see how long it takes to find your blue feather!" In the second reading, I see more how the story of the two freelance $3 a ride pilots is the story of a spiritual master and disciple, and much an allegory of such spiritual relationships as those of Krishna and Arjuna, Buddha and Kaundinya, and (most apparently to me) Christ and Peter. Having studied the Gospel of John extensively, I noticed many parallels between this book and that one, though there are similarities to holy books of several religions. In short, the protagonist, Richard, meets his to-be guide to enlightenment, Donald, who takes him through a series of exercises, tests, and experiences to raise his awareness and show him how to bring small miracles into his everyday life, such as visualizing a blue feather until it appears in his world. The book contains many koan-like stanzas that get the reader's mind in the proper state for using the exercises oneself, such as: "The simplest questions in the world are the most profound. Where were you born? Where is your home? Where are you going? What are you doing? Think about these once in a while, and watch your answers change."; "You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true. You may have to work for it, however."; and "What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly." I found my blue feather within a week of finishing this book the first time, and I still have it in my "Memories Window." We have this book at our library, so if you have a free afternoon, why not pick it up and find your blue feather.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater; 400 pages

I listened to this audiobook using Overdrive and I thought that it was very well read. There are actually two readers because the author switches POV between the two main characters.

This is a clever twist on werewolves, in the same vein as Twilight was a clever twist on vampires. In this story, a werewolf becomes a werewolf when they are bitten by another werewolf, but they do not change with a full moon as mythology would leave you to believe. Instead, they change with the climate. Cold weather=wolf. Warm weather=human. That is, until you no longer change, staying a wolf forever.

This is the way it is for everyone who is bitten, except for Grace. Grace was attacked by wolves as a small child, and saved by her wolf, the wolf with the yellow eyes. But she never changed. Years pass, and Grace's obsession with her yellow-eyed wolf grows and grows.

I really don't want to say much more, as I think it was a very good listen and I don't want to spoil the story more than I have to. If you enjoy a paranormal love story, this is a good one for you to check out.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, 350 pages

I know that several of my library coworkers have already read and reviewed this book, so I'll make it short and sweet. Already a past New York Times Bestseller, this title is getting new life and becoming very popular again because the movie version, starring a certain hunky, sometimes sparkly vampire, Robert Pattinson, is being released April 22nd.

The story follows a young veterinarian, Jacob, that due to certain tragic circumstances ends up joining a dysfunctional depression-era circus, the Benzini Brothers.

This book was at times shocking, slightly disturbing, and gritty but also incredibly entertaining. It seemed that you never really knew how to feel about certain characters, and I always really enjoy reading books that do not clearly define the good guys vs. bad guys scenario. I recommend the book, it is a quick and sumptuous read about a fascinating time period. I don't yet know whether to tell you to watch the movie, but I certainly will be. The trailers they are showing with a Florence and the Machine song as the background track have been giving me chills.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, 226 pages

Andrew "Ender" Wiggin is an extraordinary six year-old boy living in an undefined year in our future. In this world's past, the humans had been attacked by an alien race, known as "the buggers" and since have been drafting young children into military service and training them to be super soldiers in order to combat space wars unavoidable in the near future. Ender, the perfect combination of compassion and natural fierce ruthlessness when provoked, seems to be the perfect hope for the Earth's future and is inducted into battle school: training ground for turning children to military commanders. Here he faces many obstacles, mental and physical, and is tested to his absolute limits. And after a few years, essentially the fate of the human race placed into his preteen-aged hands.

Even though this story highlights a young child, this is definitely an adult novel. It is a brutal no-holds-barred story with sometimes extreme violence and very deep and dark themes. All that being said, I really did enjoy it. It is a classic in the Science Fiction genre and even though it was more melancholy than my usual choices, I am glad I read it. The story, however, seemed complete to me and I am surprised to find that there are multiple sequels. I have not decided yet whether to read book two, Speaker for the Dead. But check this out if war based sci-fi is your passion.

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare, 453 pages

City of Ashes is book two of the popular Mortal Instruments series. Book four was just released on April 5th.

This edition again follows Clary Fray, an unlikely but effective heroine, as she navigates through her now very complicated world as a Shadowhunter, or evil downworlder -werewolf, vampire, demon, faerie, etc.- hunter extraordinaire. She has become more effective battling these dark forces, but is still struggling with battling inappropriate feelings for a certain teammate.

This volume, although the lacking massive surprises that book one: City of Bones, gave readers, was very entertaining. The characters were more fully developed and the action was more exciting and consistent throughout.

I am absolutely devouring these books, am midway through the third, and will probably buy the fourth before the library gets it in on order. Definitely give this series a try, its a fun, steamy ride.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Blood Roses.

by Francesca Lia Block, 129 pages.

This is a collection of very short stories. I've officially overloaded myself with Block's work, though I have one more ILL to get through of hers. There is a little too much tragedy in her world for my taste.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

101 Places Not To See Before You Die by Catherine Price, 249 pages

I saw this book on the shelf and had to get it based completely on the title. As the author says, there is so much pressure in all of those books that list 1001 places to see before you die, 100 foods to eat, 100 books to read, 1001 places to pee (actual book) so it's nice to have a list of places you shouldn't even bother going to. The list is very varied, including a few places in history, and a place in outerspace. What I found really funny is that Picher, Oklahoma is number 50 on the list. There were a few places that I would actually like to see just because they sound so horrible. This book was a fun read, filled with lots of snarkiness and humor. I hate to say it but this book should go on your list of books to read before you die.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman (196 pages)

What starts out as a fun, snow day drive for seventeen-year-old Mia and her family changes her life forever.

I know that doesn't really describe the book very well, but that's all I'm going to say about the storyline of the book because I don't want to ruin the plot for anyone. However, I will say that the cover of the book is awful, and in this case you definitely should not judge a book by its cover.

Silent Mercy by Linda Fairstein, 387 pages

This is the 13th book in the Alexandra Cooper series. Alexandra Cooper is a special victims prosecutor in New York City. She is called to Mount Neboh Baptist Church because of a body found on the church steps, decapitated, and set on fire. The only clue is a Star of David necklace, signifying that it might be a religious hate crime. A second corpse is found at a Catholic church in Little Italy soon after. Alex must work together with her friends Mike and Mercer, detectives, to solve these murders before more outspoken religious women are silenced.
I really enjoy these books, but they are not for the faint of heart. With Linda Fairstein having the background as an actual sex crimes prosecutor in New York, she is able to draw on her experience to create mysteries that are horrifying and terrible.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Monstrumologist by Rick Yancy, 434 pages

Lisa brought this book to the Creatures of the Night book club and did a great job promoting it. With that and her blog posting, I decided I really wanted to read this book. I won't go into to much since Lisa has already reviewed it. This book is really dark, with a main character that has suffered much, and he's only 12. The doctor that he lives with and serves as an assistant is pretty much an ass. Even with his background, I don't have much sympathy for him. I raced through this book and I'm putting myself on hold for the sequel. If Harry Potter was too upbeat for you, you'll love this book.

The Curse of the Campfire Weenies by David Lubar, 199 pages

This is another collection of short stories by David Lubar that my kids got me hooked on. These are some very twisted, kooky, twisted stories, a lot like my kids. If you are looking for a fun and fast kids book, pick this up, you won't be disappointed.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Is It Just Me? or is it nuts out there?, by Whoopi Goldberg, 200 pages

Whoopi gives us a frank look at things people do and what they say. She talks about privacy, role models, people's behavior on planes and many other subjects. It's about respecting other people and treating them better. It also has sections of questions and scoring sections to see where you stand. (I did like the part where she thought more people needed to go to the library).

Beastly by Alex Flinn, 304 pages

Kyle is the prince of his high school, beautiful, arrogant, and selfish. When he invites a weird, goth girl to the high school dance as a joke he doesn't expect the night to end with him cursed. Kyle's now a beast, unloved by his father, living alone with only a maid and a blind tutor. The witch who cursed him has given Kyle a chance to break the curse. He must find someone who loves him and who he loves, within two years. But as a hairy beast Kyle knows that he'll never find love.
This book is one of the newest teen book sweeping the literary world, especially with the new movie that has come out. I put off reading this book thinking it would be teen fluff but I really enjoyed it. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales and this was a fun adaptation. I liked the fact that it had a witch, the rose, and the magic mirror and was set in modern day New York City. I'm interested in seeing how the book translates to the big screen.

Burnt Offerings by Laurell K. Hamilton, 392 pages

The vampire council has shown up to decide if Jean-Claude deserves punishment for killing council member "Earthmover." It's up to Richard, Jean-Claude and Anita to work together to save not only themselves but all the vampires and lycanthropes in St. Louis. But Richard's anger towards Anita and Jean-Claude for their relationship threatens to pull them all apart when they need to pull together more than ever.
This is probably the book in the series where the Anita Blake series started to get weird sexually. But the vampires, werewolves and zombies make it worth reading.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Stories from the Growing Years by Arleta Richardson, 128 pages

The final book in the Grandma's Attic saga. Mabel and Sarah Jane may be grown up with children of their own, but their lives aren't any less interesting. Exploding beans, bright red children, an unexpected train trip are all part of the fun and trouble they continue to find themselves in.
I was sad to see these books come to an end. One of the things I've enjoyed is the morals and Christian beliefs that run through the books without being preachy. These were good books that any age could enjoy.

New Faces, New Friends by Arleta Richardson, 171 pages

Gossip is soon swirling around North Branch about Mabel and Hudson Curtis, the minister in a neighboring town. Why does he seem to show up whenever she's in town, and was he seen at her house? Mabel learns that the best intentions doesn't always protect you from gossip.

At Home in North Branch by Arleta Richardson, 176 pages

Mabel is happily married to Len, but she soon discovers that being a preacher's wife isn't always smooth sailing.

Nineteen and Wedding Bells Ahead by Arleta Richardson, 156 pages

Mabel is engaged to Len Williams, the town minister, and figures the next year of teaching should be peaceful and calm. But Mabel's life is nothing but filled with unexpected events. A storm, a long-lost will, old history and new rumors combine to give Mabel a year she'll never forget.

A School of Her Own by Arleta Richardson, 173 pages

Mabel is 18 and ready to teach her first school. Between dealing with students, an overbearing father of students, town gossip, and an attraction for the young minister, Mabel may find herself overwhelmed.