Saturday, September 29, 2012

Anatomist's Apprentice by Tess Harris - 304 pgs

Set in 1780, Dr. Thomas Silkstone is an American physician and anatomist living in London.  He is asked to investigate the death of Lady Lydia Farrell's brother Sir Thomas Crick.  Silkstone is the 1780's "Bones" and shows an interesting look at the beginnings of forensics.  The death/murder/mystery(ies) sometimes kept me guessing.  It was an enjoyable read.

Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall, 438 pgs

This was an interesting look into the FLDS sect, the polygamist sect in the Western U.S.  Married against her will at age 14, Elissa is the woman who eventually brought down sect leader Warren Jeffs.  It was quite an interesting book as you see Elissa grown into a strong woman refusing to allow others to shape her destiny.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Some Like It Hawk by Donna Andrews, 344 pages

I always enjoy these bird themed mysteries, they're light and funny. Because of the back story, I do recommend starting from the beginning.

Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Woman Behind the Legend by John E. Miller (306 pgs.)

I have been a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder for more than 30 years and have read much that she wrote and has been written about her.  I have rather mixed feelings about this particular book.  There was not much new to me information about Laura in here, but, rather, this book has the author's unusual interpretations and focus on her daughter Rose Wilder Lane.  At the end of the day, his intention seems to be NOT showing us the "real Laura" behind the legend of Laura Ingalls, but that ROSE is the woman behind the legend of Laura.  Much of this book seems really to be about her making me wonder why the author didn't simply choose Rose as his subject.

I have always found Rose a negative and unpleasant person.  This book confirms it while seeming to try to find ways to blame her problems on her mother based on Rose's letters to friends and her diary, both of which tend to sound like an over-dramatic teenager... something quite unpleasant in a woman in her 30s, 40s, and 50s.

While worth reading simply because it is another book about Laura Ingalls Wilder, it is not one that I'll be adding to my Laura bookshelf.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas by 406 pages

This book was reviewed on the Friday book page for Unshelved and it looked intriguing. Starting it, I was reminded a lot of the Starcrossed series by Elizabeth Bunce. Celaena was the top assassin before she was betrayed and sent to a prison camp to die. She's been given a chance to gain her freedom, a competition to become the King's Champion, if she survives and wins. But Celaena doesn't know who she can trust, not only with her friendship and life, but also her heart.
This book had a lot of fantasy, adventure, intrigue, and magic. I found it very hard to believe that it was the author's first book. I will be anxiously awaiting the next one. Well worth picking up.

Autobiography of a Fat Bride by Laurie Notaro, 257 pages

I found this book when a patron placed a hold on it. It looked entertaining so I gave it a whirl. The author wrote about getting married, and entering the world of grown-ups, at least somewhat. It was funny, but her and her husband seemed a little too immature at times for me to really enjoy it a lot.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Monster Nation by David Wellington, 285 pages

This is the sequel to Monster Island, and this was an interesting zombie book. I know it's been out for a while, but I'd never read it before. David Wellington did a great job laying the groundwork with multiple layers to the story, and I'm intrigued to see where he goes with the next book.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Every You, Every Me.

by David Levithan, 250 pages.

“You don't know me. You know one me, just like I know one you. And you can't know every me, and I can't know every you.” 

This book is full of photographs sent to the author one by one while he created a story to go with it.  It's disjointed and beautiful.  I feel like this book portrays depression and schizophrenia in a very poignant way.

Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey (512 pgs.)

The stunning adventures continue in this 6th book in this series by Todd McCaffrey.  Set in Pern's 3rd Pass, extraordinary measures must be taken to save the dragons from illness and death and to help the small numbers survive to save the planet from Thread!  Journeying more than ever into the dangers of Timing, Todd manages twist and turns that will leave your brain tired ... and craving more!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart, 282 pages

This was the September book for the library book club "Readers without Borders" and I really enjoyed it. It's the letters of a woman who went out to the Wyoming Territory in 1909 to prove up a homestead claim. She always tried to keep a positive outlook and had some interesting adventures. This reminded me somewhat of the Little House books meet Little Women. I'm think I would have picked this up on my own, but I truly enjoyed this book.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (254 pgs)

Once again turning to my Nook for reading while traveling, I opted for another Jane Austen title.  While I did not enjoy this story so much as Pride and Prejudice, it did still draw me in.  I did need to know how it turned out... or, more precisely, how it got to the point that I was pretty sure how it was going to end.

The ending itself was a bit too brief.  It was like Jane Austen got to where she wanted the characters to be and just said DONE.  No detail once the difficulties were overcome.  Still, a pleasant story to read.

Seeing that Alan Rickman plays the Colonel in a movie version, chances are I will have to watch it, too.

Simplicity Fabric Guide: The Ultimate Fiber Resource (174 pgs.)

This book is an excellent resource for sewers and is exactly what I have been looking for.  It provides an alphabetical listing of different fabrics from Batiste to Voile with photo samples and descriptions of the fabric and its care and uses.  This one has already been added to my own personal library before returning the borrowed book to JPL!

Though the fabrics descriptions are my main need for this book, it also discusses threads and needles and gives suggestions/tips for how to work with various fabrics and much more!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Summon Up the Blood by R. N. Morris, 229 pages

This was set in 1914 London, and Jack the Ripper isn't that distant of a memory. A new killer is stalking the streets, but his victims are all "rent boys", making this crime not necessarily the highest on the police list. But due to outside influences, the case is assigned to Detective Inspector Quinn, who's motives might not be the cleanest.
This was very dark, covering a section of London, geographic and society-wise that I'd not read a lot of. Quinn is not a feel-good character, but this was a disturbing read that I couldn't put down. I'll be interested to see if there are more in this series.

Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood by Tony Lee, 160 pages

This graphic novel was recommended in one of the Friday Unshelved Book Reviews. I always enjoy Robin Hood stories so I gave it a try. This was very dark, and a little depressing but a good read. If you like your Robin Hood grown-up, but as a graphic novel, you should read this.

Paper Towns by John Green (305 pages)

Margo Roth Spiegelman.  Quentin has been in love with her since they were in elementary school.  Back when they were neighbors and best friends, before Margo got popular, they did everything together. But one day in the park, they came across a man lying against a tree, dead.  After that day, Margo stopped talking to Quentin.  Now seniors in high school, she is still all he ever thinks about.  Then one night, she crawls in his window, dressed like a ninja, and tells him they're going on an adventure.  And in one crazy night, the two of them take revenge on Margo's "friends" and cheating boyfriend, then proceed to break into Sea World, and for one more night Quentin feels like he has his best friend back.  But then Margo goes missing, and it's up to Quentin to figure out the clues she's left and piece together where she is and what has happened to her.

Oh, John Green.  After reading The Fault in Our Stars, I knew I would forever be a fan, even if I later discover his other books are total crap.  Not surprisingly though, Paper Towns was even better than I expected.  I literally could not put this book down, it was that good.  So tonight I have a ton of homework to catch up on, thanks to Mr. Green. :P

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy (438 pages)

You've heard of Prince Charming, right? Well, I bet you didn't know that there are actually four Prince Charmings (or Princes Charming, whichever you prefer). There's Prince Liam, who was Sleeping Beauty's Prince Charming; Prince Frederic, who was Cinderella's; Prince Duncan, who married Snow White; and Prince Gustav, who "saved" Rapunzel from her tower.  Unfortunately, no one can remember their real names because the stupid bards who wrote the stories just called them all Prince Charming. In this enchanting tale, the Princes' paths humorously intertwine when the bards - and Cinderella - go missing.  Now it's up to these four very different princes to battle dragons, ogres, trolls, and an evil witch in order to save their kingdoms.

This book was fantastic!  I loved how the author put a totally different spin on these classic fairytales.  Every one of the characters had wonderfully developed personalities, even though a few of them were not at all the way we would have thought of them in the original stories.  For example, Sleeping Beauty? She's a spoiled, rude, little brat who drives kind-hearted Prince Liam insane.  Cinderella is constantly looking for adventure after spending her life practically imprisoned by her stepmother; whereas her prince, Prince Frederic, has lived a life of ease and has been taught to be afraid of anything that could possibly harm him.  I just loved how the author made the stories more realistic by creating flawed characters.  Maybe the prince that rescued Rapunzel wasn't actually her soul mate.  Maybe Cinderella and her prince just aren't compatible.  That's real life, folks.  Although it was presented in a comical way (and don't worry, everything turns out fine in the end), I feel like that was one of the main themes of this story.  Sometimes, people don't turn out to be who we thought they were before we got to know them. And you know what? Sometimes that's totally okay. :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman (284 pages)

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the insight into the differences between how middle class people in France (namely Paris) and middle class Americans raise their kids. Truthfully I feel we could learn a thing or two from other cultures about parenting. I was kind of surprised that I naturally leaned towards what I called I loving and yet laid back style of parenting, letting my Son be independent even at a young age, because I viewed him a little short adult versus a helpless baby. Turns out this is a very "French" style of thinking, that I have been doing along. Even though my son was too old for some of the tips in the book, it  was still enjoyable cover to cover.

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese (295 pages)

This book would be a great resource to use, I plan on purchasing it. Jennifer the author does cost comparisons and tells you if you should make something versus buying it. She factors in cost for supplies, labor...etc It includes many wonderful recipes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Batman: Joker's Asylum, by various writers, 128 pages

I snagged this graphic novel mainly because it featured a story written by Jason Aaron, whose work we don't have enough of in our collection, in my opinion, and who will be appearing at the library next summer, if Cari's plans go well. "Batman: Joker's Asylum" has multiple "short stories" starring Batman's classic foes: The Joker, The Penguin, Poison Ivy, Two-Face and Scarecrow. Great artwork and fast-paced, creepy, and violent stories that are fast reads

Camp Nine by Vivienne Schiffer, 198 pages

I consider myself a fairly intelligent person who is familiar with American history, but I had no idea that there had ever been Japanese concentration camps in Arkansas during WWII. I just thought they were all in California. This book is a fictionalized look at one of those camps, as told by a young white girl, friends with some of the inhabitants. This was well-written and a good read. The ending suited, but left me a little sad.

Monster Island by David Wellington, 282 pages

Dekalb is with the UN as a weapons inspector in Somalia when the zombie outbreak hits the world. Somalia, due to the large number of guns in the hands of the general population and lack of stable government has survived better than many large nations. He is given the chance for him and his daughter to have a decent life if he can track down medicine for the local warlord. The best chance for finding it... New York City. But New York City is completely overran. Can Dekalb make it in and out with the medicine, and his life?
This was a great entry in the zombie genre. I can't believe I've never read it before. I've got the other two checked out and can't wait to read them.

Monday, September 17, 2012

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb, 465 pages

Two pages into this book and I was hooked. The author writes in a mesmerizing way, sucks you in so that you cannot put the story down. A tremendously satisfying read. The protagonist, Dolores Price, is someone that you want to see succeed. You feel for her, are drawn to her character. Even though she's extremely obese, even though she lies and manipulates people and situations, her story is gripping and the reader feels invested. The characters in the story are well developed, the prose colorful and the plots woven together seamlessly. This was a book I couldn't put down; I felt satiated upon completion of the novel and immediately checked out another Wally Lamb title, which I shall blog about in the future.

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella, 310 pages

This book is so-so, in my opinion. It's kind of funny, sometimes, but mostly it's too shallow to be truly humorous. The main character, Becky Bloomwood, is a neurotic liar who suffers from affluenza (too much stuff, yet left always wanting). From a psychological perspective, people do have a tendency to create more debt the more that they get in debt. In Becky's case, she's so paralyzed by fear that she refuses to face her financial troubles, and tries to cheer herself by her unnecessary purchases while daydreaming that her bank account will magically fix itself. The most absurd aspect is that she is a freakin' financial journalist, yet doesn't have a clue about economics.

Twice Upon a Tale: Rapunzel by Wendy Mass, 205 pages

Wendy Mass has written some really fun juvenile fiction books that are retellings of fairy tales. One of the best parts about the book is how the viewpoint switches between the main male and female characters. The bad part about the books is beating off my youngest to try to read them first.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, 139 pages

When asked which my favorite children's book is, as far as chapter books or juvenile fiction for we library types, I say this book: Tuck Everlasting. But to be honest, I hadn't actually read this book for at least ten years so I thought I'd again give it a try. I was not doing myself a dishonor by citing this as my favorite, it is incandescent. Simple, poignant, and beautiful. Perfect for the target age. An absolute classic. Do yourself a favor and treasure the very short 139 pages as much as I do. Lovely.

Every Day.

By David Levithan, 322 pages.

Wow. How would your understanding of your life change if you witnessed it as an outsider for only one day? How would your conception of self form if you woke up in a different person's life every day? This book is phenomenal. I have definitely found a new favorite author in David. I can't stop reading his words, and this is the book to start with, if you're at all intrigued by the premise.

Boneyard, Volume One in Full Color by Richard Moore, 92 pages

I'd actually picked this up for my teenager to read and ended up reading it myself. Michael Paris has inherited some property from his grandpa in Raven's Hollow, and it turns out to be a boneyard inhabited by some unusual residents. The townspeople want to buy the land to tear down the boneyard, but Michael isn't sure he wants to sell.
This was an interesting graphic novel. I may try to find more in the series.

Aftershock by Kate William, 227 pages

Olivia Davidson is dead. Friends and relatives lie in the hospital, homes have been reduced to rubble, and Elizabeth Wakefield and Ken Matthews must lay Olivia to rest. Will they have the strength to pull together and pay tribute to Olivia's memory? Enid Rollins is sure Devon Whitelaw saved her life, and will do anything to repay the debt. But Enid has the wrong guy...and only Devon know who the real hero is. How far will Devon go to keep the shocking truth from coming out?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Red Chamber by Pauline Chen, 381 pages

This was a historical fiction set in China that I was glad to get from NightOwl Reviews. I always enjoy reading well-written historical novels set in China, and I liked how this was focused more on family relationships.

The Color of Heaven by Kim Dong Hwa, 320 pages

This book ended with Ehwa getting married. I finished this series a complete fan. While it's, at times, frank approach to a girl's sexuality could be offensive to some, I considered these book a great read. I totally recommend these.

Dear Mr. Darcy by Amanda Grange, 391 pages

I was very excited to get this book from NightOwl Reviews, and discovered a great new author. I will be eagerly searching out her other books for my own bookshelves.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Dead Mann Running by Stefan Petrucha, 339 pages

I'm a fan of Stefan Petrucha's original take on the zombie genre. He's only written two books in this series so far, but I will be looking forward to his next ones. I'm totally recommending them to Lisa and my husband. I think they'll totally enjoy them.

The Color of Water by Kim Dong Hwa, 318 pages

This is the second graphic novel is this series that I started because a patron complained about it, and it's on the top 10 list for banned books last year. Because of the way it truly portrays a teen girl's search for love and a grasp on her burgeoning sexuality in Korea in the middle 1900s (I think), it could scare some people. The artwork is beautiful and the storyline is outstanding. I really recommend this series as a great read.

The Wild Princess by Mary Hart Perry, 417 pages

This was a historical fiction book about Queen Victoria's daughter, Princess Louise. I always enjoy getting great books from NightOwl Reviews to read, and this was a wonderful addition to my bookshelves. I can't wait to read this author's next book.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Realm of Possibility.

By David Levithan, 210 pages.

Breathtaking. The poetry of teenagers and their overflow of frontal-lobe-developing feelings. Sometimes its nice to go back there for a minute. 

The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa, 319 pages

This was brought to my attention first when a patron complained about the books because they were inappropriate for the library. That right there always makes me want to read a book. Then I saw that they're on the top 10 list of challenged books for 2011. These graphic novels are set in Korea, about 60 years ago, I believe, and follow a young girl living with her widowed mother, from the age of seven up, as she discovers her blossoming sexuality. The artwork is wonderful, and the storyline is great, very true to even girls today, discovering what makes them a woman, and different from men. I don't consider the stories gross or inappropriate, even though there is some pages that could be considered a little racy. I will gladly fight the fight against censorship against these books.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Death of a Neighborhood Witch by Laura Levine, 261 pages

The Jaine Austen books are always some of my favorite mysteries, especially when I need a laugh. No matter what her intentions, things always fall apart, usually in a totally embarrassing way. One of the highlights of the books are Jaine's emails from her parents. This book had me hopeful that Jaine would find a romantic interest, but of course it didn't work out. I would like to see her start dating someone and not have it fall apart. These are well worth the read, though much more enjoyable if you start from the beginning.

Twice Upon a Time: Sleeping Beauty by Wendy Mass, 172 pages

This was a cute retelling of Sleeping Beauty that tells the story from both Sleeping Beauty and the Prince's point of view. I'd picked this up for Samantha at the library, and ended up needing something to read on my break, so I started this. It was was enjoyable and a fast read.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sandman: Fables & Reflections.

by Neil Gaiman, 168 pages.

This installment was slightly disappointing, as it was mostly retellings of Bible stories, Greek myths, etc with the Endless sprinkled in, but not enough (the reasons I like Sandman are the Endless and Gaiman's stories, and this had little of both).  It took me forever to read it, and I skimmed through a few of the "fables".  My hopes are still high for the rest of the series, but this one didn't do it for me.

A Gathering of Days by Joan W Blos (144 pages)

I just happened to see this book when I was cleaning and for some reason it caught my eye. It is historically based and written from the point of year girl in the years of 1830-1832. It was mainly about the day to days living back then (much simpler and a lot of hard work) and a girl becoming a young lady and dealing with hardships.  This book was also awarded the 1980 Newbery Award for excellence in American Children's literature.

Fire by Kristin Cashore, 461 pages

Truth time, my dear daughter is 7 months old now and I started this audio book before she was born. That being said, I really kind of liked this book. It is a companion and quasi-prequel to Graceling, taking place in a different area of a medieval-esque make-believe land. Fire is a female Monster, the last living human monster. But contrary to our ideals of them, in this book Monsters are beautiful creatures with special talents. Fire is so beautiful that no one can resist wanting to have her or harm her, she can also read minds. She combines these talents to help a king and his family survive a war between neighboring lands. I really liked this book, it is a very good atmospheric read if you like princes and princesses, archery, castles, so on. The characters are mostly loveable and well rounded. The only thing that got on my nerves (with this book and Wither that I reviewed earlier) was that the female characters are so blisteringly beautiful that they are constantly in danger of violent passion from every man they meet. I'm a bit partial to flawed characters, so I have a hard time relating to them. I feel like they spend the whole book like, "Oh Lord, why did you have to make me so beautiful, it is such a terrible curse!" and so on, which annoys me to no end.

Fever by Lauren DeStefano, 341 pages

This book is the sequel to Wither, which I really liked. It is a teen dystopian novel that follows a character named Rhine in a world where pollution and biological tampering has caused women to die at 21 and men to die at 25. Everything in the world has basically gone to heck and women are kidnapped and sold into prostitution or to rich men as "wives". This installment follows Rhine as she navigates the ruins of North America to find her twin brother. Everything I liked about Wither, the elegance, the suspense, the forbidden love, is all dulled down or absent from Fever. I thought it was depressing and slogging. I feel like she spends most of the book in a drug induced haze which does not advance the plot much over 341 pages. Definitely a placeholder for the 3rd book. Is it just me, or does it bother anyone else that every teen book seems to be a trilogy these days and half of them barely have enough plot and content for one book? Also, the audiobook's narrator is quite cheesy in my opinion. The first sentence she read made me burst out laughing because of how over-dramatic she was.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Anno Dracula: The Bloody Red Baron by Kim Newman, 587 pages

I was very excited to see a new Anno Dracula book and eagerly requested it for reading through Night Owl Reviews. All I will say here is, while interesting, it was too war-based for me to love it.

Dolled Up For Murder by Jane Cleland, 243 pages

I would really hate to be Josie Prescott's friend since odds are, we would either stumble over a dead body together or she would find my dead body. These are really fun mysteries, very much Antiques Roadshow meets Agatha Christie. I always finish the books knowing a little bit more about some time of antique and ready to go hit the flea markets.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Red Rain by R. L. Stine, 369 pages

I got sent this to review for Night Owl Reviews, and I have to say that I'm excited that he's writing grown-up horror books. I've read a ton of Goosebumps over the years, as I'm sure other people did, so he's got a built in fan base.

Caution Speed Bump by Mike Peters, 144 pages

Another comic collection, since I read one a lot of nights before falling asleep.

This is Your First Rock Garden, Isn't It, by Adrian Raeside, 128 pages

I picked up this up at a garage sales years ago, it's I believe a Canadian comic strip.

Downloaded by Rich Tennant, 144 pages

This was a comic collection I picked up at a garage sale for my husband because it was computer related. I was desperate for something to read that didn't involve getting up out of bed.

Only love can break a heart, but a shoe sale can come close by Cathy Guisewite, 128 pages

I always enjoyed reading Cathy and I'm kind of sad that there aren't any new strips coming out. But I can still enjoy reading the old ones. AAACK!

Readers Advisory (Unshelved) by Bill Barnes & Gene Ambaum, 128 pages

The anticipation of getting to see Barnes and Ambaum in person next year may just kill me.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Boy Meets Boy.

By David Levithan, 185 pages.

Perfectly wonderful. The kind of book that makes me wonder why I ever stray from teen fiction.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Your Farm in the City: An Urban Dweller's Guide to Growing Food and Raising Animals, by Lisa Taylor, 336 pages

I've been reading this book for what seems like eternity, I've checked it and rechecked it out from the library at least three times. I found it to be extremely fascinating and useful; in fact, I'd like to own my own copy as a reference. It covered a range of topics including compost, plants, seeds, fertilizer, pests, beneficial creatures, livestock, landscaping, and more. It was easy to follow and inspiring.