Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich

Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich

Death in Disguise by Caroline Graham

Death of a Hollow Man by Caroline Graham

The Killings at Badgar Drift by Caroline Graham

Primrose Convention by Jo Bannister

V is for Vengence by Sue Grafton

The Tale of Castle Cottege by Susan Witting Albert

The Attenbury Emeralds by Jill Paton Walsh

The Forgotten Affairs of Youth by Alexander McCall Smith

The Barbery Dogs by Cynthia Robinson

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow by Joyce Magnin

A Ghost in the Machine by Caroline Graham

Colonel Brandon's Diary by Amanda Grange

Numbers (in English and Hebrew), 95 pp

Much better in Hebrew than in English.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (759 pages)

Well, I have finally finished the Harry Potter series, and I'm now suffering from a horrible case of TEABS (The End of an Awesome Book Syndrome). It's gonna take awhile to get over this one... It's almost as bad as when I finished Mockingjay!

Skull Kickers: 1000 opas and a dead body by Jim Zub, Edwin Huang, and Misty Coats (140 pgs)

Two unnamed heroes for hire--a hairy dwarf and a bald giant of a man--embark on an adventure to reclaim the body of a murdered dignitary. Along the way, they run into a necromancer and sort of break his hold on a very powerful demon which causes all the zombies created by the necromancer to be sucked together into a single undead creature that must be stopped.

This graphic novel is full of action, adventure, banter, and blood. It is fantastic.

Laddertop by Orson Scott Card and Emily Janice Card (190 pgs)

Quiet Robbi and rambunctious Azure are best friends and candidates to go to Laddertop Academy where they will learn how to work on space stations left by an alien race we have dubbed the Givers. These space stations power the entire planet and are constructed in such a way that requires the people of Earth to send children up to do maintenance. Of course, strange and mysterious things surround the Givers and Laddertop. Robbi and Azure stumble upon some of this strange and mysterious and must rely on their wits and friendship to figure things out.

This manga-style graphic novel was a fun read. I've been a fan of Orson Scott Card since high school, so I'm not super surprised. Nor am I surprised that his kids are taking up the family business.

Freshman: tales of 9th grade obsessions, revelations, and other nonsense by Corinne Mucha (112 pgs)

This simply drawn graphic novel is exactly what the subtitle suggests: tales of 9th grade. It revolves around Annie's experiences in 9th grade and is divided into large sections based on seasons and smaller vignettes.

It's a quick and quirky read that's very true to how I remember 9th grade being.

The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight by Kim West (440 pages)

Kim West offers a compromise of the "no-cry" and "cry it out" methods.

Sleep: The Brazelton Way by T. Berry Brazelton (144 pages)

Pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton and child psychiatrist Joshua Sparrow offer techniques on soothing babies and helping them sleep through the night.

The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley (254 pages)

Pantley is the opposite of Gary Ezzo, the author of Babywise. She believes that children should not be allowed to "cry it out" and that responding to your child's needs will allow them to have the confidence to start sleeping through the night.

Unwind by Neil Shusterman; 352 pages

I picked up this book because Neil Shusterman is visiting the library at the end of February and I have heard very good things about his work. I was not disappointed! This was an excellent read, not to mention a leg of the story takes place in our very own Joplin, MO!

On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo (252 pages)

Ezzo offers hope to sleepy parents in the form of a parent-driven schedule.

The Nerdist Way

 By Chris Hardwick, 320 pages.

A self-help book for nerds. Chris compares self-improvement to D & D character tomes and stuff! This book was a lot of fun and inspired me to make lists and reaffirm my cheesy goals for the year. I really recommend it for any nerds that need a little boost. It's on Overdrive! Right now 'cause I just returned it!


"Dog Decoder: The Essential Guide to Understanding Your Dog's Behavior" by David Alderton, 176 pages

I'm always reading books about dog breeds, behavior, health, and training to stay up to date and informed for the puppy and dog obedience classes I teach in my spare time. I think that's why I found this book underwhelming. I was expecting a fairly comprehensive, in-depth book about dog behavior and body language. Instead, the book was heavy on pictures (which can come in handy when interpreting body language, but there wasn't a lot of that here) and had basic information about behavior, breeds, and care. I can honestly say I didn't learn one new thing from this book, and I've read far superior books about dog behavior. Also, I was put off by the author's inflammatory editorializing on some matters. For example, he refers to the "notorious American Pit Bull Terrier, which has been banned in many countries because of its aggression, toward other dogs, and even humans." In reality, most, if not all, terriers are predisposed to dog aggression; they were not bred to be aggressive toward humans because humans had to be able to handle the dogs that worked closely with them. Of all the breeds and mixed breeds I've encountered in 10 years of teaching classes, the nastiest dogs have been the littlest ones: Maltese, Chihuahuas, and Yorkies. The author also fails to mention other breeds that have been banned or restricted, such as German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Boxers, Great Danes, Saint Bernards, and many more. Overall, if you want a superficial look at dog behavior, this book might be worth your time. Otherwise, if you want some solid information, look elsewhere.

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis - 224 pgs.

Book 4 of the Chronicles of Narnia series.

Return to Narnia with High King Peter, Queen Susan, King Edmund, and Queen Lucy many hundreds of years after they first reigned on the thrones of Cair Paravel. They have been called back to help return the throne to the rightful king, Caspian X, and restore Old Narnia.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis - 224 pgs.

Book 2 in The Chronicles of Narnia series.

Follow Lucy and her siblings, Edmund, Susan, and Peter, through the wardrobe into the magical world of Narnia. These 4 face many challenges as they, with the help and guidance of Aslan, fight to defeat the White Witch.

Murder in Paradise by Kate William, 229 pages

Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are living it up on a mother-daughter retreat at Paradise Spa, where their biggest worry is whether to go for a cucumber facial or a splash in the waterfall. And with so many cute guys on staff, the girls decide that what their boyfriends back home don't know won't hurt them! Then Jessica and Lila Fowler go for a late-night swim and find a dead body in the steam bath! The manager insists the death is a freak accident, but when Alice Wakefield disappears, Elizabeth and Jessica are terrified there's a murderer on the loose. Desperate to find their mother, the twins set a deadly trap-with Elizabeth as the bait!

Happily Ever After edited by John Klima, 477 pages

This is an anthology featuring fairytale retellings by some of the best writers in the field. These stories are dark, twisted, sweet, and compelling as the Grimm Brothers collected originally. The stories here aren't your Disney versions to be read to your kids, but instead tantalizing tales to be savored and enjoyed. But watch out, who is that knock-knock-knocking on your door?

The Steal: A Cultural History of Shoplifting by Rachel Shteir, 256

This was a non-fiction look at shoplifting and how it has evolved over the years, along with society's approach to it. The book starts with a look at London as one of the world's busiest mercantile capital, examining who shoplifted and how, along with how the legal field treated them. The author then follows how the development of department stores seemed to foster an explosion of shoplifters and "kleptomaniacs" a term that still isn't accepted by some of the medical field. I had never known that during the 60's shoplifting was a symbol of resistance against "the man" with Abby Hoffman publishing a book called "Steal This Book". Shteir also looks at how even today, shoplifters are treated extremely different based on race and money in their treatment and sentencing. One of the things I particularly enjoyed was the author going into how libraries and bookstores are targets for shoplifters.
While this book was a little dry at times, it was still an informative read.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Death du Jour by Kathy Reichs 379pgs

This is the series of mysteries the TV series "Bones" was based upon. This is the 2nd book in the series. Forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan seems to be finding murders everywhere she turns. There are the murdered babies in Canada, the murdered coeds in North Carolina, the missing college student, her own sister disappearing from the face of the earth. Add to this cults and a side story of a convent trying to get one of their former nuns admitted as a saint.

There are a lot of seemingly independent plot lines in this book. Sometimes the scientific explanations get bogged down, but all in all I didn't have the bad guy figured out until the end.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, 392 pages

Grace, a bookish teen from Minnesota, has always been obsessed with the wolves that prowl the Boundary Woods that edge her backyard. She has an inkling that there might just be a different, perhaps supernatural explanation for their intelligent behavior and knowing human-like eyes. This being a YA novel, you can probably guess what that reason is. Yes, the shaggy wolf with the yellow eyes that she has always been inexplicably drawn to turns into an irresistibly hunky teenage boy who plays guitar and spouts poetry when the weather grows warm.

Let me say, I wanted to like this book! I really did! Especially since the very limited number of books I have read in my later pregnancy have just not been doing it for me. Sadly, this was no exception. I found the characters to be kind of flat and their relationship ho-hum. For me, if it is to be a character and romance driven plot, as this definitely is, thick with moments of tender longing, it better be red-hot. I thought the plot was overly simplified and very predictable with barely enough heat or intrigue to get me through the whole thing. If I had read this when I was sixteen, swooning over the thought of a boy holding my hand, I would have loved this. That being said, the preteen Twilight fans are who I will recommend this one to.

On a side note - how many YA novels are going to have a plot line where the boyfriend sneaks into the girlfriend's bedroom every night, none the wiser to the clueless parents, just to have a PG-rated snuggle?.. Puh-lease

The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau - 289 pgs.

It's an average day in the city of Yonwood. There are political tensions around the world in the mid 21st century when one of Yonwood's respected citizens suffers a terrible vision of fire and destruction. She is unable to escape from the ferocity of it. Her friends decide that is much be a Vision of the future sent to her from God and take it upon themselves to interpret her vague mutterings for the people of Yonwood to help them be "good" so as to avoid the destruction to come.

Jeanne DuPrau does it again! In this 3rd Book of Ember, she tackles how religion can so easily run out of control... especially when the power is in the hands of a few, or only one. Who will stand up to this? Will the whole town allow themselves to be run, with the consent of the law, by fear "for their own good"? What will people accept or give up in order to be "safe"?

Peter and the StarCatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson - 451 pgs.

Two excellent authors of very different genres work together to create this first book in a series that is prequel to Peter Pan. They tell how Peter Pan and Captain Hook and all first came to be. High adventure and danger follow the orphan boy, Peter and his friends across the high seas to a far away island. The mysterious, magical treasure must be kept safe from evil men.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - 355 pgs.

After the high school experiences of forced reading of "classics" and other "good books" that I found to be truly dreadful, I have spent the past couple decades shying away from the genre. However, this particular story came free with my Nook, so I figured I would give it a try. I was quite surprised to find myself well wrapped up in the story by the end of the first chapter.

Though the story is set in a time and culture rather different from our own, it still deals with issues we all can relate to: friendship, family, romance, growing up, responsibility, and so on. In this case the reader wonders whether the individual's pride of self and position and prejudice against those who are seen as lesser will interfere with true happiness in the face of what is considered "proper".

The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau - 338 pgs.

Book 2 in the "Books of Ember" series does not disappoint. Most of the citizens of Ember have made it out of the city and are experiencing the strange surface world for the first time. Exhausted, hungry, and thirsty, they come upon the post-Disaster town of Sparks whose people have never seen such a large group of people before. Though initially agreeing to help, will the wedges of fear and misunderstandings be too much for the people of Ember and the people of Sparks to overcome?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau (288 pgs)

The people of Ember are having trouble with their city...the lights are going out more and more often, leaving them in total darkness. What will they do when the lights never come on again? Is there hope in this city where everyone has their place, but the ones who should listen are refusing to acknowledge the problem? Will 12 year olds Lina and Doon be brave enough to do what needs to be done to save the people?

This book is juvenile fiction, but it tackles some very real issues about following what you believe in and knowing when to do the right thing even though it is the hard thing to do.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Record Collecting For Girls.

 By Courtney E. Smith, 240 pages.

I was a little TOO excited to finally read a music nerd memoir by a girl, so naturally, this disappointed. Courtney loves a lot of the music I love and she makes brash opinionated statements about the music she likes and doesn't like, too. I should have loved this (and I did devour it in less than a week), but I just kept thinking I could do this better. There aren't enough women writing about music. So, I'm not sure how much my disappointment in this book was me simply being jealous that I didn't write it. I saw her as a nemesis, thus judged her too harshly.

She also seems like a person I wouldn't be friends with: sort of trite and gender-generalizing...but, overall a good read if you like music memoirs.


Blameless by Gail Carriger, 374 pages

I am totally in love with this series. I devoured this book after finishing book 2, but I'm waiting just a little bit before reading book 4. It's still a little while until book 5 comes out, and I don't want the series to be over. This book has Alexia dealing with her pregnancy, almost everyone thinking she cheated on her husband, homicidal mechanical ladybugs and a trip to Italy. Oh, and did I mention homicidal mechanical ladybugs!?! That statement alone should have you picking up this series immediately. This is a fun, great new twist on the regency paranormal genre (did you even know such a genre existed) that continues to hold my interest.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

All-Ghouls School by Mark Sumerak & David Bryant, 118 pages

How could I not pick up this graphic novel with such a cool title. It reminded me of the Scooby movie, Scooby and the Ghoul School. Basically, Darkmoor is a school for monsters that is looking to integrate some humans to help the monsters learn how to deal with the real world. Becca is the first human student, but it's up in the air as to how long she'll survive the honor.
This was fun, campy, well-written and drawn (except for the fact that all girls in comics at boarding school have to wear slutty uniforms) and interesting.

Morning Glories Volume 1 by Nick Spencer & Joe Eisma, 189 pages

This graphic novel looked interesting from the cover and blurb but really failed to measure up. While it seems to be Breakfast Club meets X-men, with a little bit of Matrix thrown in, it spends the whole book laying groundwork while not explaining anything at all. If you like a book that leaves you puzzled and confused, be sure to pick this up.

The Declaration by Gemma Malley; 320 pages

What would happen if powerful pharmaceutical companies developed a drug that cured "old age", making the entire world able to live forever? Would that be a good thing?

This book explores a world in which that has happened, a world in which the old never die and it is illegal to have children (for if no one dies, and children are born, the world would quickly run out of room). But of course, children are born, and these children are "surplus", forced to live in surplus halls and be trained to do the dirty work for Legal People, essentially to be slaves.

I really like the idea behind this story, but too much of this story was spent with the main character verbally berating herself and hating her parents for having her. I might read the next in the series, but I probably won't.

Changeless by Gail Carriger, 388 pages

This is the second book in a fun and unusual series that my mother-in-law suggested to me. Alexia is a preternatural, meaning she has no soul and negates supernatural creatures, i.e, with her touch she restores the mortality of vampires and werewolves. But it seems that someone or something else has the same ability, but thrown over a much larger area and lasting longer. Alexia must track down whatever this is before it falls into the wrong hands as a weapon. Throw in a missing werewolf husband, a way too friendly French hatmaker and inventor, and a Queen Victoria expecting results and it might almost be too much for Alexia to handle, even with her handy parasol.
This is Regency meets paranormal with a heavy dash of steampunk thrown in. This is one of the most original books I've read in a long time, with lots of humor and intrigue. As soon as I finished this book I immediately started the next one.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Monsters in the Movies" by John Landis, 320 pages

This book is a must-read for any horror movie fan. Penned by director John Landis, of "An American Werewolf in London" and Michael Jackson's "Thriller" fame, it covers 100 years of movie monsters. From vampires to zombies to atomic mutations, he covers it all. His thorough approach includes well-known films and B-movies alike. The true horror aficionado probably won't learn anything new from the text, which doesn't attempt to be encyclopedic in its scope, but the inclusion of myriad movie posters and photo stills means that it's well worth your time to pick up this book. Just be forewarned: There is some nudity of the female variety, and there is, predictably, lots of gore and grotesque monsters. So don't go givin' this book to the kiddies unless you want them to have nightmares ...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Forgetting Ireland by Bridget Connelly, 263 pages

In 1880, a shipload of starving Irish paupers were brought to America and settled in Minnesota. Just 4 months later, a blizzard hit in October, and a long and bitter winter settled in till April. These Irish immigrants were found in December to be starving and freezing, and blame quickly began to be shifted around. The Irish were removed from their homes and sent to live in cities, with the name "Connemara" denoting shiftless, no-good failures. Over a hundred years later, Bridget Connelly, discovers that she is actually a descendant of these immigrants, and what is known as historical fact may not actually be true.
This was a somewhat interesting read, but the author did have a tendency to be dry and wandering at times. Once I realized that this was the same winter that is featured in "The Long Winter" by Laura Ingalls Wilder, I enjoyed and appreciated the story more.

Return of the Evil Twin by Kate William, 330 pages

Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield have no idea that their world is about to be turned upside down-again. Last Christmas, Margo-a girl who looked, talked, and dressed exactly like Jessica and Elizabeth-arrived in Sweet Valley to take what she considered her rightful place in the Wakefield home. On a dark winter's night, Margo fell to a violent death, and the Wakefields thought their nightmare was over. But they didn't know about Nora, Margo's own twin sister. Nora, separated from Margo at birth, is outraged when she discovers that the sister she'd never known is dead ... and that California's picture perfect twins are to blame. Now Nora wants revenge-and she's capable of evil beyond anything Margo could have ever dreamed.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Longing by Karen Kingsbury 503 pages

This is the third of the Bailey Flanigan series. I always enjoy Kingsbury books, but dislike the fact so much of the back-story in these series is repeated. I enjoyed the book, but I'm really read for the series to be finished.

It still is a good inspirational Christian fiction read.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

MYTH-Fortunes by Robert Asprin & Jody Lynn Nye, 277 pages

Skeeve is back with MYTH Inc. and for his first job, him and Aahz are hired by Samwise the Imp to figure out why there's so many accidents at his construction site. Samwise is building an enormous pyramid and selling blocks as a claim for immortality. Skeeve is shocked when Aahz buys the top stone, and starts getting people to invest in the lower blocks. Skeeve must figure out why Aahz is so worried about the afterlife now, and who is sabotaging the pyramid. Just another normal day for your average wizard.
I've enjoyed every one of Robert Asprin's MYTH books, and "MYTH-Fortunes" by Robert Asprin & Jody Lynn Nye is just as funny and great as all the others. While I'm sad to find out that Robert Asprin has passed away, I'm confident that Jody Lynn Nye will continue to create MYTH books that are hilarious, full of adventure, and fabulous. If you haven't read any of this series, you need to pick them up immediately. This is one fantasy series you don't want to "MYTH" out on!

Brazen by Margo Maguire, 370 pages

Captain Gavin Briggs feels that he is not fit for polite society after serving as a sniper for the British Army, so he is determined to earn the money that will enable him to buy an estate to serve as home for his sister and her small child. All that is standing in the way is Lady Christina Fairhaven. Hired by her grandfather, a bitter duke who is on his deathbed, Gavin has been tasked to bring Christina to the duke's estate. Christina is startled to learn that she is the granddaughter of a duke, but feels no urge to meet the man who abandoned her mother after a marriage against the duke's wishes. Christina agrees to go though, in exchange for Gavin first helping her find her missing brother. The only snag is that he's supposed to be dead. The trip to London is filled with burglars, a conniving cousin, adventure, and lots of passion. The heat between Christina and Gavin soon blazes into a maelstrom of romance, but will it continue to simmer and boil or soon burn out?
"Brazen" by Margo Maguire was hot and steamy while being sweet and funny. Filled with tons of adventure and intrigue, the plot keeps the reader engaged, while the romance advances. This was a great read for fans of historical bodice rippers.

The Walking Dead, Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman & Jay Bonansinga, 308 pages

This is a prequel to the Walking Dead graphic novels, showcasing how the character known as The Governor got his start and explaining his link to the zombie he keeps in his apartment. I thought it would be hard for this book to measure up to the graphic novels and television show, but it was superb. This story was full of action and suspense, and illustrated how people are changed by traumatic and stressful events, like a zombie outbreak. I wouldn't recommend this book if you aren't familiar with the world of The Walking Dead, but for fans of it, this is a fantastic read.

Close to Home Uncut by John McPherson, 143 pages

A funny and sarcastic comic collection.