Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Runaway Dragon by Kate Coombs

I had picked up this sequel to "The Runaway Princess" for my 10-year-old daughter. Meg has managed to escape the tower, and convinced her parents to let her have a variety of lessons, but when her dragon flies away from home, it is a struggle to convince them to let her go questing after him. On the adventure, Meg is joined by Dilly, lady-in-waiting; Cam, assistant gardener; Nort, a clumsy and skinny guardsman, and Lex, the second-most powerful wizard in the land. Of course everything soon goes askew. But Meg, with the help of her friends and a little luck, will manage to get everything to come out okay.
This was a delightful romp, light and humorous, with enough adventure and magic to keep the plot entertaining.

The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry, 174 pages

The Willoughbys are old-fashioned children, like the ones in storybooks, except for the fact that they're not orphans. They decide to send their odious parents on a dangerous trip, little knowing that their parents have decided to hire a totally un-Mary Poppins nanny. Who will end up with the storybook ending, the children or the parents?
I had picked this book up for my 10-year-old daughter and decided it looked good myself. It was a funny book, with lots of allusions to some of my favorite childhood books. A great read for those grownups who still have a soft spot for their beloved classics.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Heck:Where the Bad Kids Go by Dale Basye, 288 pages

Heck is the inbetween place for bad kids, a holding stage for them until they hit 18 and can be judged. When Milton and Marlo die in a marshmallow polar bear explosion, this brother and sister duo must figure out the rules of Heck if they hope to have any chance of escaping.

The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart, 304 pages

This was the book club book for Readers Without Borders this month. This was one that I wouldn't have picked up on my own, but I very much enjoyed it. It was filled with obscure trivia, very odd people and sweet stories, making it one of my favorite reads this month.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sarai by Jill Eileen Smith, 317 pages

This book covers Sarah, wife to patriarch Abraham. Sarah is known for becoming a mother at an extremely advanced age, but this book looks at Sarah in a new light. What would her and Abraham's relationship been, why could she choose someone to serve as her womb, and how would Sarah have handled that? The author did a fantastic job of staying true to biblical truth, while breathing new life into the story. I think I will be reading her other books in the Wives of King David series.

I Date Dead People by Ann Kerns and Janina Gorrissen, 127 pages

Nora's family moves into an old house that has a lot of history, and evidently a lot of ghosts. Nora never expected to fall in love with Tom, one of the ghosts. But their love could prove to be eternal.
I've real five of these books in the series, and finally caught on that there is the same counselor and teacher in each one. I like the little subplot twist there. Great reads if you just want something fun and not too serious in a graphic novel.

My Boyfriend Bites by Dan Jolley and Alitha Martinez, 127 pages

This graphic novels are all about girls falling in love with different paranormal creatures. This one has Vanessa falling love with Jean-Paul, who all the signs point to being a vampire. But Vanessa quickly finds out that not all is as it seems.
These are fun, quirky books.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch by Nancy Atherton, 232 pages

For a sleepy little English village, Finch sure seems to have a lot go on. A new neighbor moves in, and Lori Shepherd quickly finds out she is a renowned artist hiding out from her rabid fans. Amelia is also searching for lost pages of a family diary that seems to deal with Mistress Meg, also known as the local children's boogeyman, the Mad Witch of Finch. With Aunt Dimity's help from beyond, Lori is sure to solve this mystery.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Castaway by Lucy Irvine, 288 pages

This is the true story of a woman who replied to an ad looking for a "wife on a deserted island for a year". Lucy responded and ended up spending a year on Tuin, a small island north of Australia, marrying Gerald, fellow castaway to fulfill a requirement insisted upon by the Australian government. They came very close to starvation, dehydration, and even death, but also got to experience stuff that very few white people would ever get to. This wasn't a bad read at all.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lila's New Flame by Kate William, 199 pages

Late one night, an entire wing of Fowler Crest burns to the ground! Lila Fowler, already furious over a long-distance relationship gone up in smoke, swears revenge on the arsonist who left her home in ashes. Will Lila's vow blow up in her face? Steven Wakefield is psyched to intern at the Sweet Valley District Attorney's office. His first assignment? To investigate the Fowler Crest fire! Steven's always considered Lila the flakiest of his sisters' friends. But as he spends time with her, Steven can help feeling a definite romantic spark. Then he finds a clue that points to Lila as the culprit! How can he prove she's guilty after losing himself in the searing passion of their first kiss?

Happily Ever After by Kate William, 199 pages

Elizabeth Wakefield is avoiding Prince Laurent de Sainte-Marie. He may be devastingly cute, but he's engaged to Antonia di Rimini, the daughter of a haughty countess. Then Elizabeth learns that Prince Laurent has refused to marry Antonia-because he loves Elizabeth! Elizabeth doesn't want to cause an international incident...but is running away from Chateau d'Amour Inconnu the answer? Jessica Wakefield's sexy new boyfriend, Jacques Landeau, made an awful mistake. To save himself, he got her mixed up in a major jewel theft. Jacques has apologized a million times, but she's not ready to forgive him. Will Jessica reconsider when he reveals a heart-wrenching secret?

To Catch a Thief by Kate William, 199 pages

Elizabeth Wakefield is furious. She was swept off her feet by Prince Laurent de Sainte-Marie-the most romantic guy she's ever met in her life. But that certainly isn't the problem. The problem is Antonia, his fiancee! And Antonia's mother, the Countess di Rimini, will do anything to keep Elizabeth away from the prince-including locking Elizabeth and her twin in a dungeon! The countess has another reason for imprisoning the twins. Jessica Wakefield stole her precious emerald! Or so the countess believes. Jessica is enraged by the accusation-and miserable about being separated from her brand-new boyfriend, Jacques Landeau. She swears she'll find out who framed her...but will the truth break her heart?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Empire of Death by Paul Koudounaris, 224 pages

This book covers the history of charnel houses and ossuaries. I ordered this book via inter-library loan to use as a resource for my upcoming program on how bodies are treated after death throughout history and around the world. While the book was dry at times, the pictures alone made it a worthwhile read.

Mistress of Mourning by Karen Harper, 399 pages

Queen Elizabeth's two children lost in early childhood, and the Queen's two brothers who vanished from the Tower many years ago. As Varina is escorted back and forth from the palace by the handsome Nicholas Sutton, she starts to develop feelings she long thought dead. Soon after the figures are finished, Varina is sent for again by the Queen. She and Nicholas are requested by not only the Queen but also the King, to investigate the death of Prince Arthur, heir to the throne, and serve as the Queen's chief mourner. As Varina and Nicholas delve into the mystery of not only this Prince's death, but also the death of those two young princes in the Tower so long ago, Varina wonders if she will live long enough to find the answers.
"Mistress of Mourning" by Karen Harper is a wonderful look at a intriguing part of English history. This work of historical fiction brings alive a segment that I hadn't read much of, and deals with the possible reasons for the deaths of the boys in the Tower, along with how their sister might have dealt not only with their death but the long-reaching aftermath. Karen Harper's books have a favored spot on my bookcase, with each one finished leaving me eagerly awaiting her next one.

The King's Damsel by Kate Emerson, 346 pages

Thomasine Lodge was set up as a lady-in-waiting to Princess Mary, daughter to King Henry VIII, after her father died, and her wardship was purchased by the status seeking Sir Lionel Daggett. Thomasine has been told that she must seek favor with the young princess or Sir Lionel will make Thomasine's life more miserable. Thomasine quickly comes to care for the princess, becoming a friend and confidant as the marriage of King Henry and Queen Katherine falls apart due to his obsessive love for Anne Boleyn. Anne becomes Queen, and Thomasine becomes a member of her court, in order to keep Mary informed and watch out for her best interests. But unfortunately, Thomasine catches the eye of the king, who has proven himself unloyal and faithless to the women he loves. Anne is also a dangerous enemy to have, so what is Thomasine to do?
Kate Emerson always does a fantastic job of bringing English history to life, choosing little known characters and creating wonderfully detailed backstories. Fans of Philippa Gregory, Karen Harper and historical fiction, will thrill to this new look at the Tudor Court.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Kiss the Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton, 359 pages

I've been reading the Anita Blake books since the very beginning, and the last 4 or 5 just have been getting way too dark and sexually graphic for me to really enjoy. This one seems to have moved back a little, with not so much sex and extreme violence, making it a more enjoyable read. While I'm a big fan of these books, I hesitate to recommend them a lot, because of just how explicit the series got. If the books continue to ebb in blood and sex (with the two combined) I will be glad of it.

Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs, 402 pages

A.J. Jacobs has decided to pursue the "perfect body" with the same level of obsessive dedication that he showed when going after the ideals of biblical law and reading the entire encyclopedia. Over two years he spends a month concentrating on a different body part or health ideal, culminating in a triathlon. One of my favorite chapters was "The Lower Intestine: The Quest to go to the Bathroom Properly" with him buying a squatting chair. His wife is a long-suffering sidekick, willing to go along with some of his journeys to optimum health.
While I didn't find this book as funny as "A Year of Living Biblically" I did still really enjoy it. It will be interesting to see what will be his next obsessive journey.

R is for Revenge by Kate William, 231 pages

The Sweet Valley High cheerleaders have been kidnapped! Cocaptains Jessica Wakefield and Heather Mallone thought they'd found the perfect faculty adviser for their squad in Nancy Swanson. They're sure he mousy assistant librarian won't cramp their style at all. But neither Jessica nor Heath knows about the dark secret in Nancy's past. Or how dangerous she really is. Until Sweet Valley's cheerleaders start disappearing one by one.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris, 327 pages

This is the latest Sookie Stackhouse book in one of my favorite series. Every book has me feeling sad for Sookie, I would love to see her catch a break just once. But yet again, it seems like the universe has chosen Sookie to be it's whipping boy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man's Smile by Gyles Brandreth, 365 pages

This Wilde mystery features the Parisian theatre scene. I'm a big fan of these mysteries, I especially like the use of Wilde quotations, he was a witty and humorous man.

Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders by Gyles Brandreth, 380 pages

This was the darkest Wilde mystery so far. It alluded to Wilde's fall from grace after his trial with all the dark overtones. I still enjoyed the novel, it's great seeing all the historical figures weaved together, and I particularly enjoyed the fact that the author uses Wilde's actual timeline to make the interactions accurate.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Good Neighbors, Kind by Holly Black & Ted Naifeh, 111 pages

I had left the book I was reading at home and found this in the teen department. Because it was the final book in the trilogy and was a fast read, I went ahead and picked it up.

The Good Neighbors, Kith by Holly Black & Ted Naifeh, 115 pages

I picked up book 2 just to see if it was any better than book 1. I found it still jumpy at times and just wasn't a huge fan. It was a fast read though and I had left the book I was reading at home so I gave it and book 3 a go.

Monday, June 4, 2012

50 Shades Freed by E. L. James, 592 pages

This was the final book in what turned out to be a pretty good series. I especially liked the part at the end when they showed Ana and Christian's initial meeting from Christian's point of view.

50 Shades Darker by E. L. James, 544 pages

I almost hated to start this book because I was worried that Ana would go all "depressed Bella" on me, like the 2nd Twilight book. Luckily, that didn't happen. This book was actually not too depressing, and introduced some intrigue into it. This series has been a lot better than I expected.

50 Shades of Grey by E. L. James, 528 pages

I finally broke down and read this book just to see what all the hoopla was about. It's not nearly as badly written as I'd heard. It reminded me a little of the Sleeping Beauty books by Anne Rice, but not as explicit. I actually kind of enjoyed it.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Good Neighbors b y Holly Black & Ted Naifeh, 117 pages

Rue's mom has disappeared, her dad is arrested for the murder of a student and Rue's mom, and now Rue thinks she's going crazy because she keeps seeing odd things. It turns out that maybe Rue's mom is Fae, making Rue half-fairy.
This was a really odd and dark graphic novel. It looked more interesting than it was, the storyline was a little too jerky and discombobulated for my taste.

Mystery Date by Kate William, 231 pages

Lately, Olivia Davidson has felt lonely. Sweet Valley has a major lack of funky, artistic people like herself. So she's kept busy chatting with cool, imaginative guys in Internet chat rooms. One guy in particular could be her perfect match-he's sweet, sincere, and a poet. Olivia doesn't want to admit it, but she might be falling in love with a guy she's never met! Ken Matthews only uses his Internet account to check football scores and stat. But when he accidentally links it to an artists' chat room, he meets an amazing girl who challenges the creative side he never knew he had. And speaking of challenges, she wants to meet him in person! What will happen when she finds out that he's really a football jock and not the poet he's been pretending to be?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Star Crossed by Elizabeth Bunce, 359 pages

Digger is a thief on the run after from the Greenmen, magical inquisition soldiers. She finds herself a lady-in-waiting in a secluded mountain castle, where everyone seems to have secrets. Digger, now going by the name Celyn, finds herself forced to ferret out everyone's secrets, and she must decide just how far she is willing to go to save her life.
I picked this book up because Elizabeth Bunce is coming to the library this summer. I thought it would just be a fast and fluffy teen read but I was wrong. This was an complex book, with political and religious intrigue galore, with just enough magic to make it really interesting. I'm definitely going to be picking up the next book, because I can't wait to see what happens to Digger and all her friends.