Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Sabrina and Daphne Grimm might be orphans, but they are no pushovers. About a 18 months before the book takes place, the girls arrived home one day to find that their parents had mysteriously vanished. Now street-wise and no-nonsense from their experiences in one bizarre foster family after another, they simply don't buy the story that their grandmother, they had long believed to be dead, is not... and wants to raise them.
From the moment the girls arrive in Ferryport Landing and are greeted by their eccentric but seemingly genuine "grandmother", strange things begin to happen. The more we learn about this quaint little town and the characters within, who will all seem very familiar to you (perhaps because they were the stars of your childhood bedtime stories), the more beautiful, rich, and funny the story becomes.
This book was wonderful, the best juvenille fiction I have read in awhile. I had known several of my co-workers loved the series and I finally read this first title. The story has such a huge heart, belly-laughs, plenty of excitement for the kids while still having enough intrigue and off-the-cuff humor to keep adults engaged. The Playaway audio was wonderfully narrated L.J. Ganser. I definitely recommend this for any kid or kid-at-heart who loves a good fairy tale with a modern twist.
I'll admit it, I became hooked on HBO's "True Blood" and saw the first two seasons before I even knew it was based on a book series. Which is hard for a book-nerd for me to divulge. So, "True Blood" and the love of Playaway audios, (which I slip into my pocket while doing chores) brought me to this collection of short stories.
This is was my first exposure to Sookie Stackhouse from the written word and now that I see that HBO really has captured the essence of the character dead-on (no pun intended). I loved these short stories, all featuring the innerworkings of the complicated mind of telepathic waitress Sookie. They were funny, ironic, and saucy, just like the show. She works out many of the same problems we all do. Family dynamics, relationship highs and lows, annoyances on the job, etc-just in a much stranger and more interesting way. This results from the fact that her world is filled with vampires, werewolves, faeries, and other various oddities.
The playaway was narrated by Johanna Parker and I swear I actually thought it was Anna Paquin's voice at times. She is narration perfection.
If you are the type that likes a campy, funny, steamy romp and doesn't get grossed out by a little (ok, a lot) of gore, do yourself a favor and check out this book series or the TV show. I'm hooked. However - do take note- this particular collection of short stories did hold a couple of spoilers for me, having seen only seasons one and two of the show.
In this 4th installment of the Mortal Instruments series, we are again plunged into the hidden fantastical world of Downworlders that live unseen by humans in modern day New York City. I have been excited to read this title, I enjoyed the previous three and at the end of the third, City of Glass, it seemed as if all of our weary characters had finally overcome all obstacles and would live happily ever after. But this is never the case, is it?
In this installment, our heroine Clary is still fighting dark forces with mysterious agendas ripping apart her happy world. She is also battling the quintessential conundrum that perplexes all teenage girls: Why doesn't he call? Between all her relationship and otherworldly dramas, this book is mostly angst and little payoff.
Overall, I liked the book. As with the others, it is a fun and entertaining adventure. The distinct personalities of each character still shine through. Although it seems that with each 400 page novel in the series, you take one step forward and two steps back toward plot resolution. If you ever read these, and don't care for the characters, don't waste your time, because love for them is what will keep you enjoying the series.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Sookie Stackhouse is just trying to recover from the insane twists and turns her life has taken but the calm is just a momentary quiet before everything in life starts to go crazy again. Her vampire lover Eric is keeping something from her, someone has firebombed the bar she works out, and an enemy from the past has reappeared. All in all, Sookie's life is back to normal.
This was a great book to read to just enjoy a fun dose of what I call mind candy. I have enjoyed this series from book one, I watch the tv show (new season next month, yippee) and I'm even collecting the comic books. Charlaine Harris is a great author with multiple series, now I just need to get her to come to the Joplin Public Library.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
I have read this book a few times over the years and love it every time. I really hope they don't screw it up when they make the movie, but what I've seen so far doesn't bode well.
I'm not going to go into a lot of description on this book. I mainly wanted to just get it posted so I can check it in and I don't have internet at my house right now because of the tornado.
This is the newest Goldie catering mystery and isn't one of the best. The series is slowing down and isn't as good as the early ones were. I found myself reading this just to finish it.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
One of the strictest rules in the Wakefield house is "No motorcycles." Ever since their cousin was killed in a crash, Elizabeth and Jessica have been forbidden to go near them. So when Elizabeth's boyfriend Todd drives up on a shiny new Yamaha, she knows there's trouble ahead. She can't ride Todd's bike, but other girls can-and do. And the sight of those girls riding with their arms around Todd is making Elizabeth crazy with jealousy. Todd tells her not to worry, but Elizabeth's scared of losing him. Will Todd's new bike drive them apart?
This one has an especially dramatic ending, whatever will happen in the next book? Still campy and fun.
Elizabeth Wakefield knows her beautiful twin can handle almost any guy-most boys are just no match for Jessica's seductive charms. But Scott Daniels, Jessica's latest love, is more of a man than a boy, much older and much more experienced than anyone Jessica's ever dated.
When Jessica sneaks off to a college beach party with Scott, Elizabeth's afraid of what could happen. And when her twin isn't back by morning, Elizabeth's fear turns to alarm. Where's Jessica? Why has she stayed out all night long?
by Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz, 369 pages.
First of all, I HATE the word diet. The title of this book makes me cringe...but if you ignore the word diet and a lot of the cheesy language employed within the book, it's a pretty useful guide for how to eat and how much to exercise to be at your "factory settings", the term the authors call each person's ideal healthy self. They even suggest that your factory settings are probably the weight/shape you were in at the ages of 18-21, as that's when your body was most likely at its most metabolically efficient. There's a LOT of detail on digestion and brain chemicals related to eating. It can get tedious to read and the writing style is weird to follow, but the main ideas in the book seem pretty logical and helpful. There's recipes, meal plans, and exercise routines. I might even try some of the recipes and I will definitely employ some of the main ideas, such as walking 30 minutes per day and eating more nuts and fruits. I'm always trying to be healthier, so this book was a good reminder for me.
This is the 2nd book in the Sweet Valley High Series. I think for the posts from now on I'll just list the description on the back. Jessica would stop at nothing... Beautiful and ruthless Jessica Wakefield is determined to be chosen queen of the dance at Sweet Valley High. If she can win the contest, she's sure to win Bruce Patman, the most sought after boy in school. The only person standing in Jessica's way is Enid Rollins. When Jessica discovers the truth about Enid's past, she is sure the crown is within her grasp. She doesn't care that Enid is her twin sister Elizabeth's best friend-or that revealing the secret may cost Enid both her reputation and the boy she loves. Only Elizabeth can stop Enid from Jessica's vicious gossip-but can she stop her scheming twin in time...
These books are completely hooky, but still lots of fun.
I just had to mention that I've had 2 authors see the reviews I'd written about their books and comment about it. I got so excited thinking "Actual authors are reading something I wrote, whoo-hoo!" Stephen Fried of Appetite for America and Randy Russell of Dead Rules totally rock!
Thursday, May 19, 2011
This is the 16th book in the Aunt Dimity mystery series and I've enjoyed every single one. Aunt Dimity is a ghost who only shows up as writing in a lovely diary that Lori can see. With Aunt Dimity's help, Lori always manages to solve the mystery, but usually stirs up one or two more mysteries along the way. These are fun, light, tea cozy English mysteries, perfect for a rainy afternoon with a spot of tea.
This is probably one of the oddest books I have read so far this year. I saw it mentioned on my Unshelved library comic strip and was intrigued. The premise of this graphic novel is that on February 3, 1979, chickens gained intelligence. There were massive uprisings at some places with chickens running rampant and killing people (but considering how chickens are killed at a poultry plant do you blame them?) People reacted to the chickens talking by killing many of them. It took about 6 months for the world governments to give chickens equal rights to humans. That is till about 20 years later when the bird flu hit, and chickens were killed by the hundreds of thousands, if not millions.
This was extremely well-written and well-drawn, if you've enjoyed the graphic novel Maus you would like this. If you haven't read Maus, you should!
This is the 3rd Sweet Valley High Book in the series. I read the brand new Sweet Valley Confidential book which features everyone all grown up and felt a need to revisit my middle-school years, which I spent reading every single one of these. I won't go into plot details in these books, but they are nice light fluff, and fun for remembering reading for the first time.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Up until now Lena has been happy that her future is mapped out, and that she does not have to worry about falling in love, however, after meeting a mysterious young man named Alex she begins to see loop holes in the governmental-way of thinking.
Stanislas-Adelaide, known as Lili, is the daughter of Emilie du Chatelet, has grown up knowing very little about her her mother, who died when Lili was only six days old. Her father has handed her care off to others, contributing only a stipend towards her upkeep, but never seeing her. Lili grows up with two women, adopted aunt Julie de Bercy who is known for her Paris salon and Baronne Lomont, a prudish religious aunt. Both women contribute different aspects to Lili's upbringing. As Lili gets older, she starts to learn more about her shocking and talented mother. Emilie was responsible for translating Newton's Principia Mathematica and providing mathematical proofs to make Newton understandable. She was also known for her scandalous relationship with famed writer Voltaire. Lili must decide what of her mother she will emulate and what of Julie and Baronne Lomont, while still staying true to herself.
"Finding Emilie" by Laurel Corona is an imaginative telling of what might have happened to Emilie du Chatelet's youngest child if she had survived childhood. It is always interesting to read about some of woman's eternal struggle to gain the ability to use their intellect and make choices about their life. This is a sweeping novel, filled with interesting characters, and tumultuous ideas. For fans of great historical fiction, this will be a welcome addition to their collections.
Jana Webster has much of her life and personality tied up in being half of the couple known as Jana Webster/Michael Haynes. She knew that they were meant to be together forever, that is until she dies from a tragic bowling accident while on a double date with another couple. Jana then wakes up on the bus to Dead School, without Michael. She knows that she must work hard to figure out how to kill Michael so they can be together again. Nothing will stop her, not even her attraction to the darkly handsome and mysterious Mars Dreamcote.
This is an advance reader's copy that Renee had sent to her to review. I picked it up because I was stuck in a slow drive-thru lane and this was in the van. I figured I would read just the first few pages until I was done waiting. But this book was so funny that I kept reading the book. It's a teen Romeo and Juliet retelling, with a hilarious twist. My daughter knew that she would be one to die from a bowling accident! I really recommend that Cari get this for the teen department when it comes out next month.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
The subtitle for this book describes it perfectly: The Lynching and Expulsion of Blacks in the Southern Ozarks, 1894-1909. I had heard about the mobs that had drove blacks out of Joplin at the beginning of the 1900s but didn't know much about it, so I was interested in reading this book when I found it at the library. It covers Peirce City, Monett, Springfield, southern Arkansas, and Joplin. There were lynchings of blacks pulled out of jail cells, including 3 in Springfield on Easter morning, 2 of which are believed to be innocent men. Mobs after most of the lynchings drove black communities out of the towns, leaving this area empty of the African American population. This is a good look at one of the most shameful times of this area. While dry at times, this is still an interesting read for anyone who wants to learn more about this time period.
Monday, May 16, 2011
The story starts out at the beginnings of a town in 1750 and follows the years as it grows and new people settle there. I especially liked the story of the Fisherman's Wife.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Saturday, May 14, 2011
by Tina Fey, 275 pages.
This book was feminist hilarity from start to finish. I literally laughed out loud twice as often as I ever have reading a book, and I'm not a laugh-out-loud kind of person. It was really really super awesome. Read it. I know I will do so several more times in my life.
An excerpt (this is an entire chapter):
What Turning Forty Means to Me:
I need to take my pants off as soon as I get home. I didn't used to have to do this. But now I do.
A young woman is found dead, and police detective Milo Sturgis comes to his friend and consultant Alex Delaware, to gain the psychologist's insight into the case. What is shocking is that Alex saw the victim the night before at the closing of the Fauborg Hotel, with the beautiful woman sitting alone at the bar waiting for someone. As Milo and Alex try to discover her identity, each clue they find seems to stir up even more confusion. This case promises to be one of their more difficult to solve.
This was a dark but fun mystery, like all of Kellerman's books. I've read all of his mysteries and it's a toss up on if I enjoy his or his wife's books more (Faye Kellerman). His books always have a dark undertone, but still make for a fast read.
This is the latest book in the Body Farm novels by Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson who write under the pen name Jefferson Bass. Dr. Bass is the creator of the University of Tennessee's Body Farm that is mentioned in the Patricia Cornwell books.
Dr. Bill Brockton, creator of the body farm at U of Tennessee is leading a training session for law enforcement when one of the participants gets some disturbing news. Her sister has committed suicide, but Angie St. Claire, forensic analyst in Florida is sure it's murder. Dr. Brockton heads down to Florida to help out, and quickly finds himself embroiled in a decades old murder case. A reform school that burned down years ago proves to be the site of young boys' bodies, who may have met a early death at the hands of the people who were supposed to keep them safe. Dr. Brockton finds himself trying to not only solve this crime but also stay alive long enough to do so.
This is one of my favorite series, it's similar to Patricia Cornwell, but her books have gotten odd over the years, so I don't enjoy them as much. It's also a lot like Kathy Reichs "Bones" series, with some CSI thrown in. Great plots, interesting characters, and well-written, what more can you ask for in a series.
Friday, May 13, 2011
Although I'm not a big fan of reality shows, I always tune in to Bravo TV's "Tabatha's Salon Takeover," in which hairdresser Tabatha Coffey marches in, takes over a salon in trouble, and whips the owners and staff into shape, all in a week's time. And, to quote the title of her memoir, it's not really about the hair. It's about being a good business owner, employer, and employee. I love her take-charge attitude and her willingness to call someone on their BS, and I always learn something from her. I also adore her bitchy attitude. She spends this entire book embracing the word "bitch"; in fact, she turns it into an acronym: Brave, Intelligent, Tenacious, Creative and Honest. Sing it, sister. I find her inspiring. And her story about how she got to where she is today is an interesting one. From spending her childhood in the transexual strip clubs that her parents ran in Australia, to opening her first salon in the aftermath of 9/11, in a town devastated by the attacks, to unexpectedly finding fame as a TV personality, she'll keep you interested. Reading her book is like watching her on TV. It's blunt, short on BS, and peppered with f-bombs. And so fun.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Emmaline Farnum is the only family that Winnie has, but Devlin St. Just has been given the estate they live on, and feels a responsibility to Winnie. His care for Winnie quickly deepens, and Devlin finds himself fighting an attraction to the not appropriate but oh so attractive Emmaline. Emmie knows that she can never have a future with Devlin, and that he can provide a better future for Winnie, but it doesn't keep her heart from falling for both. Secrets from the past threaten Emmaline and Devlin's future happiness, if they aren't willing to sacrifice everything for their hearts.
"The Soldier" by Grace Burrowes is another entry in this fun Regency romance series featuring a crotchety and determined duke, intent on seeing his sons married, and the succession secured. Each son is just as strong willed, falling in love on their own terms. With lots of humor and steamy romance, these books are always a delightful read, a treat for fans of Regency romance at it's best.
Emma longs to fit in and she thinks she might get the chance after a mysterious letter arrives inviting her to The Freke Family Reunion, in Wisconsin. Emma has never met her father, nor his relatives, but as she sets off for a long weekend in Wisconsin, she thinks she might finally discover where she fits.
Fred Harvey created the first chain of restaurants, and was the first famous brand name before Coca-Cola even become a household name. This book explores the man who created this chain of railroad eating houses, gave us the phenomenon Harvey Girls, and changed America forever. This book was a fascinating read. I hadn't realized that the Kansas City Union Station was pretty much completely designed by "Fred Harvey", with them owning every shop in it. Joplin had even had a Fred Harvey restaurant up to 1930. If you love history, Americana, and lots of information, this is a must read.
Richard no longer wants Anita to be lupa of his werewolves, a new leader for the wereleopards is in town, and Anita finds herself overwhelmed by the ardeur, a thirst that must be fed by blood or lust. All in all, another normal time for Anita.
This is the book that took this series from a fun and dark vampire/werewolf series to an almost sexually disturbing series, but I still read the books. Now, I'm just creeped out when I see my mother-in-law reading them.
The Palio is a dangerous, no holds barred horse race ran a twice a year in Siena. Pia Tolomei has been informed that she is to be married to one of the riders, a brute who evil is surpassed only by his brother's and father's. When her fiance is killed during the race, Riccardo, another racer, jeopardizes his chance at winning to try to save him. Because of his act, Riccardo is drawn into a plan to take over the city, and Pia and Riccardo are thrown together into a dangerous attraction. Who, if any, will survive the next race just a month away, and do Riccardo and Pia have any chance for a life together?
"The Daughter of Siena" by Marina Fiorato is a rich, lush novel covering a time filled with intrigue, violence and interesting characters. Weaving a tender romance with a plot to overthrow the Medicis rule of Siena, this is a book that keeps you reading, eagerly turning pages.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
by Shari Graydon, 115 pages.
I knew a lot of the information contained within these pages, but it's nice to remind myself every once in awhile. I like to think that because I don't watch television (I watch TV shows and movies, but I don't do so at the time they're broadcast, with the commercials spliced in. However, I occasionally watch PBS, but that totally doesn't count) I am unaffected by ads, but they are ubiquitous. This book helped me look at the world more critically to see the ads I've become complacent to everywhere around me. I've always been really label-averse, ripping all signs of branding from my clothing and accessories, so this book is really preachin' to the choir. That said, I learned some really basic "no-duh" type information one doesn't normally think about. For example, the fact that items cost more that are advertised more is something painfully obvious I was never consciously cognizant of before reading this book. My label-loathing no-name-grocery-brand lovin' instincts feel even more justified and less cheap now!
As a side note: I really like reading kid's nonfiction when I want to get a quick no-nonsense summary of a topic. It's definitely a guilty pleasure of mine to read about nerdy topics via this fast-track vehicle of elegant simplicity. They don't screw around with fluffy details in these books, and I admire that!
Monday, May 9, 2011
Gregor is a poor 11 year old boy living in New York City with his mother two sisters (Boots, age 2 and Lizzie, age 7) and senile grandmother whose father has been missing for 2 years. One hot summer day, he and his younger sister Boots are in the basement of their apartment building doing laundry when Boots falls down a vent shaft. Gregor, like any good big brother, falls down after her. They fall for a long, long, long time. When they finally (gently) hit bottom, they're in the Underland where cockroaches, bats, and rats are all big enough to ride on (though you don't really want to mess with the rats) and can all talk. There are people in the Underland too. Pale, violet eyed people who think Gegor is the "warrior" of their prophecies come to save the Underland from certain doom. And maybe he can find his dad on the way?
This was Suzanne Collins' (of Hunger Games fame) first novel and it's just brilliant. As Jeana put it, "If you don't like this book, I don't think I can help you find books that you do like..."
And this completes the Chaos Walking trilogy. It was a good read with a satisfying ending even if it too many gasps and tears to get there. I highly recommend this series to fans of The Hunger Games trilogy, fans of science fiction, fans of good literature, etc. Beware: bad things happen in these books that will make you curse Patrick Ness and his evil ways. But it's worth it.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
by Eleanor Brown, 314 pages.
I was very drawn into the lives of these three women and their parents. I liked their lazy reading habits. I also really enjoyed the writer's description of everything from the characters' enjoyment of food to their free-flowing way of reading and running through the woods, and conversely, their lives. I was a little annoyed by the religious stuff towards the end, but it wasn't terribly intrusive. I think this one has already been reviewed, so this is all I'll say. It was a very nice spring book.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
I love all things Victorian England and all things zombie, so Danya's daughter Renee was kind enough to lend me this graphic novel. The book opens with a mysterious comet lighting the sky in mid-19th century England; soon after, people start dying, then immediately re-animating and attacking anything that moves. (I couldn't help but think of one of my favorite cheesy '80s films, "Night of the Comet," which features Valley Girls battling comet zombies.) Flash forward about 45 years to Sherlock Holmes' day. Life has long since returned to normal after the "cholera" epidemic decades earlier. But Holmes and Dr. Watson soon discover that things are not what they seem, and an old foe might be behind new attacks. Like all graphic novels, this was a fast read. The story clips along, and the artwork is great. I love the cover, which features a zombie in traditional Holmes garb, albeit with plenty of flies and maggots. There are also some steampunk elements, which I wasn't expecting. Overall, it's a good read, though for more in-depth zombie storytelling, you should pick up the granddaddy of zombie comics, Robert Kirkman's "The Walking Dead."
Thursday, May 5, 2011
While the story seems to be a simple tale revolving around Rosalind James' ability to get into trouble while helping other, it is also the tale of India's push for its freedom from England in 1918.
The opening line is perfect. "How can kindness get you into so much trouble?" That basically sums up Rosalind's life, but despite all the trouble she seems to bring on herself she is never detered from helping others and readers are sure to appreciate this quality the most.
Siobhan Dowd's use of Ted to narrate the story, makes for interesting mystery tale. While it is only mentioned that Ted's brain "runs on a different operating system", readers will assume that he has Asperger's Syndrome, though this is not the major focus of the story. There is much more to Dowd's chapter book, with family relationships getting top billing.
Another entry in the Anita Blake series. Significantly darker, with some scenes of child abuse, lots of blood and gore, this is not a book for the faint of heart.
This was an examination of some actual murder cases from Victorian and Edwardian England. It covers the crime, the investigation and trial. It's amazing how people never change and there really is nothing new under the sun. But when it's English, murder seems more civilized.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Southern Plate: Classic Comfort Food That Makes Everyone Feel Like Family by Christy Jordan, 272 pages
I was kind of ambivalent about this cookbook when I checked it out. I knew that, as a vegetarian, I most likely wouldn't find a lot of meat-free recipes. (I'm also a bit of a food snob, which I freely admit.) And I was right, but I'm OK with that because I can easily adapt most recipes to suit my diet. However, I'm not really fond of recipes that involve Velveeta, vegetable shortening, peaches from a can, and the liberal use of mayonnaise. And there were plenty of those to be found here. Reading this book was like flipping through "Taste of Home" magazine or reading Cheryle Finley's supposed "food" column in the Joplin Globe. (I live for her white-trash cooking tips.) The quaint, cutesy names annoyed me: meme's mashed potatoes, ms. millie's best coleslaw, daddy's rise-and-shine biscuits. I did enjoy the writer's explanation of the origins of some of the food. And a few of the recipes brought back memories of my grandmother's blackberry cobbler and fried potatoes with cream gravy. But there were very few things in this cookbook that I'd care to replicate. The okra with tomatoes and the fried green tomatoes look yummy, so I can't wait to hit the farmer's markets this summer. Other than that, this book was a waste of my time.
The King Of France sent his daughter Princess Alais to England to marry Prince Richard, one of King Henry's sons.
She was met by Queen Eleanor of England, her father's ex-wife. As soon as they met each other they bonded and forever loved each other as mother and daughter. Since she was so young, Queen Eleanor sent Alais to a nunnery for a couple of years. When the queen sent for her to come to the castle she introduced her to her betrothed, Richard. It didn't take long for the two of them to fall in love. But things change when Princess Alais found Richard with one of his mistresses. She was so upset that she set her sights on King Henry who by now was enamoured with her...and the story goes from there.
Thanks to Danya for telling me about this book. I really liked it and can hardly wait for the author to write another.