Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Walking Dead, volume 3: Safety Behind Bars, by Robert Kirkman, 136 pages

Volume 3, the journey to find a safe place continues. Rick and crew end up at a prison, where they learn some brutal lessons about who is more monstrous, the zombies or their fellow humans.

The Walking Dead, volume 2: Miles Behind Us, by Robert Kirkman, 136 pages

Volume 2 of Kirkman's awesome zombie series. Rick and the gang push on, fighting to survive and looking for a safe place. They lose some members of their crew and gain some, which is the way Kirkman's universe rolls. You never know what's going to happen. In this volume, they narrowly escape an infested housing development
and wind up at Hershel's farm.

The Walking Dead, volume 1: Days Gone By, by Robert Kirkman, 144 pages

I've been in zombie world lately -- watching "Walking Dead" on TV and talking to friends about it, reading "The Walking Dead: the Road to Woodbury," plus catching other zombie movies on TV in preparation for Halloween. So even though I've read the first several volumes of Kirkman's acclaimed graphic novel series a few times now, I went back in again. I. Love. This. Series. It's shocking, violent, frightening. No one is safe in the WD universe, which I like. Volume 1 kicks off the whole series, as Rick Grimes awakens from a month-long coma and discovers that the zombies have taken over. If you've never read these graphic novels, what are you waiting for?

The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury, by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga, 277 pages

I loved "The Walking Dead: the Rise of the Governor," Kirkman's first traditional WD novel, so much that I stal
ked Amazon for months, hoping that a sequel would be published. As soon as it was announced, I asked Linda to buy it. It was worth the wait. By now, the Governor, or Phillip Blake as he was known pre-zombie apocalypse (if you've read the first book, though, you know there's more to the story), has the protected town of Woodbury firmly under his dictatorship. The first part of the book depicts the struggle of Lilly Caul and the group with whom she's joined forces to survive. They're a large group under the influence of a not very effective leader. Eventually, Lilly and a smaller group splinter off on their own before ending up in Woodbury. Their journey is horrifying, violent and bloody. Several times, especially at the end, I wondered how in the heck they were going to get out of the situation they were in. You also witness the growth of Lilly from a frightened young woman crippled by anxiety to a courageous, vengeful, angry woman capable of doing whatever it takes to survive. Well worth the read if you're a fan of the TV series, the graphic novels, or "The Rise of the Governor."

Wallace by Jim Gorant, 261 pages

The subtitle of this book is "The Underdog Who Conquered a Sport, Saved a Marriage, and Championed Pit Bulls -- One Flying Disc at a Time," and it makes the dog sound like a superhero. He is, at least to his owners, pit bull fans, and admirers of dog athletes around the world. Roo Yori and his wife first met the young dog when volunteering and working in their local animal shelter. Over time, when his behavioral problems became so severe that the shelter manager was considering euthanizing him, Roo and his wife fought to foster him. Roo worked hard with him, exercising him for hours a day to channel his energy and improve his behavior. Eventually, they learned to manage his behavior, though Wallace still was not without problems, so Roo and his wife decided to keep the dog lest he end up in the wrong hands. Knowing the dog was a tremendous athlete, Roo started entering him in weight-pull competitions, a common sport for pit bulls. Wallace was successful, but things really started moving when Roo discovered his aptitude for catching flying discs -- aka, Frisbees. The two worked together tirelessly, forming a partnership that took them to the top of a sport usually dominated by more agile, lightweight dogs such as Border Collies. "Wallace" details the dog's journey from the day he was discovered abandoned in a house, to his world-wide fame as a dog athlete. Sadly, since retiring, Wallace has been diagnosed with a form of cancer. The Yoris are choosing to treat him holistically, knowing his body can't handle the stress of chemo and radiation, and are working on checking items off a Wallace "bucket list." So far, according to his Facebook page, Wallace remains happy and healthy. By the way, if you haven't read Gorant's other dog book, "The Lost Dogs," about the effort to save the Michael Vick dogs, go read it. Now.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Broken Angel by Francine Pascal, 181 pages

Sweet Valley High, senior year.

The One That Got Away by Francine Pascal, 181 pages

Sweet Valley High, senior year.

Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams (355 pages)

Growing up, London and Zach were as close as could be. And then Zach dies, and the family is gutted. London’s father is distant. Her mother won’t speak, and acts as though London doesn't exist. The days are filled with what-ifs and whispers: Was it London’s fault? Alone and adrift, London finds herself torn between her brother’s best friend and the handsome new boy in town as she struggles to find herself and ultimately, redemption.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Maria Who? by Francine Pascal, 178 pages

Sweet Valley High, senior year.

The Provincial Lady in America by E.M. Delafield, 170 pages

The Provincial Lady goes on a book tour through America. One of the highlights for me was how she insisted on going to Alcott House while in Boston, and almost started crying while touring. That would so be me if I ever got to go and see the Alcott House. These books are really funny and a real testament to what makes the inter-library loan system amazing.

The Provincial Lady Goes Further by E. M. Delafield, 206 pages

I'd finished the first book "Diary of a Provincial Lady" and was a big fan, I was delighted to see that there were 3 more books in the series. It's 1930s England, as seen as a money-strapped English lady, as shown through her diary entries. It's hilarious and and can be considered a long-forgotten treat.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, 420 pages.

Possible spoilers ahead, so discontinue reading if you'd like to read this book eventually.

WTF? Serrrriously. I'm disturbed with myself for reading this book. I feel dismal upon finishing it. I didn't like any of these characters and being inside their heads was awful. Why does everyone love this book? Someone explain it to me. Serrrrriously.

I Love Ranch Dressing (and Other Stuff White Midwesterners Like) by C. L. Freie, 177 pages

Lisa had reviewed this book just a few days ago and it sounded hilarious. She was nice enough to loan it to me so I could read it. It had me laughing out loud throughout it. It was filled with a ton of stuff that had me going, "Yes, I do love that!" and feeling a little ashamed about it. If you're from the Midwest, this is a definite must read. I might even buy a few copies to give as Christmas presents.

Too Good to Pass By by Ross Malone, 148 pages

This book looks at some Missouri little known treats, buildings and special spots that you may have driven by a 100 times without ever knowing it was there. I discovered some places I really want to see and learned a little bit of history about some places I've been to. I really like the shout out for Central Diary icecream which is probably some of the best icecream in Missouri. Ross Malone is coming to the library in December and I'm looking forward to his talk.

The Hero's Guide to Saving the Kingdom by Christopher Healy, 438 pages

Everyone has heard the story of Cinderella and Prince Charming, Snow White and Prince Charming, Sleeping Beauty and Prince Charming, Rapunzel and Prince Charming. But did you know that each Prince was a different person and wasn't named Prince Charming? No, you didn't. That's because the bards didn't name the princes. But when an evil witch threatens those bards, the princes see their chance to get their names known. But these princes may not be as heroic as the stories imply.
This book was funny and really enjoyable. I really enjoyed this children's book. If you like fairy tales with a twist, I recommend this book.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Things Cooks Love, by Marie Simmons, 342 pages

The subtitle of this book is "Implements. Ingredients. Recipes," and it delivers. A publication of the Sur la Table culinary stores (which I adore and visit every time I travel), it offers beautiful photography, yummy recipes ... and heavy promotion of the gadgets that Sur la Table sells, of course. The store and cookbook are a foodie's dream. I could go overboard and snatch up a mandoline, food mill, juicer, stand mixer, tagine, and pasta machine, but I have neither the room nor the money to indulge. I'll just have to make due with my immersion blender, fondue pot, potato ricer, wok, food processor, rice cooker, waffle iron, and mezzaluna. Frankly, a lot of the tools they offer aren't necessary. You can still make delicious food without them, and an experienced, innovative cook can always rig something to serve multiple purposes. But if you want to salivate, and dream, check out "Things Cooks Love."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I Brake for Yard Sales... By Lara Spencer (174 pgaes)

The official title of this book it " I Brake for Yard Sales and Flea Markets, Thirst Shops, Auctions, and the occasional Dumpster" My first thought was this book has a super long title, however I enjoyed it. I enjoy trying to be "green" and shopping used is one of those ways. What I liked about Lara is even though she is a celebrity and "has money" she stills knows the beauty of buying used, not only is it Eco friendly and cheaper, but most often the things bought are better made and come with a story. She has some great tips and good ideas for how to look for a bargains.

Revelations by Melissa De La Cruz (264 pages)

This is the Third book and another great addition to the Blue Bloods Series.

Masquerade by Melissa De La Cruz (304 pages)

This is the second book in the Blue Bloods series, which I really like. I really like the different approach and story behind the vampires, its a lot different than the "Hollywood vampires" we have been seeing a lot of lately. This is a great fun read.

Martha's American Food, by Martha Stewart, 430 pages

I know she can be a bit of a cold fish, but there's something about Martha Stewart that I really like. She's kind of a Jane of all trades. I mean, the woman keeps her own chickens, gardens, has mad crafting skills, and can throw together a deliciously simple or elegant meal. Her newest cookbook, "Martha's American Food," while not a comprehensive study of American cuisine, does offer a broad array of recipes. Stewart (or her editor) does a terrific job of organizing the book. It's divided into regions, then subdivided by ingredients. There are solid explanations of the origins of the dishes, and there is a helpful section in the back that relays information on everything from cleaning mussels to washing leeks. Although I don't generally cook much "American" food because it's so heavy on meat, I did find some things I'd want to try. The Autumn Squash with Sage-Cream Sauce looks fantastic. I do quibble with some of her choices, though. I mean, does the world really need more recipes for Pigs in a Blanket, Corn Dogs, or Seven Layer Dip? Not so much. Leave that stuff to "Taste of Home" magazine, Martha. Then again, for the novice cook, or someone with zero
cooking skills, these recipes might be less intimidating to tackle.

The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie, 334 pages

This was the very first Miss Marple book and I thought this would be a good starting point for our book club read, which was to be any Miss Marple book. I've heard how petty and gossipy Miss Marple was but I really didn't see it. I think it might be because of how much we're alike and I could totally see myself as her when I'm older. Except for the fact that I never guessed the murderer right.

Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch by Alice Hegan Rice, 160 pages

This old book (1901) had been mentioned in another book I'd read (Letters of Woman Homesteader) for book club. I'm one of those that becomes easily intrigued by just the mention of another book. Think Pollyanna or the Five Little Peppers but a lot more depressing, and the poor people a little more upbeat and naive. Not a great read but still interesting.

Enormously Foxtrot by Bill Amend, 256 pages

A comic collection that I really enjoyed.

Fox Trot en masse by Bill Amend, 256 pages

Another comic collection to help lull me off the sleep.

Bones are Forever by Kathy Reichs, 480 pages

Another Temperance Brennan mystery, this one featuring dead babies. As always, really depressing and a complete change up at the end.

Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie, 296 pages

This was the last Miss Marple mystery and I thought it would be good to compare Miss Marple from the first mystery to see how much she had changed. I really didn't notice much of a difference, which is because I think Agatha Christie had created such a wonderful character to begin with. If you've never read an Agatha Christie book, you're missing out.

Mama for President by Thelma Harper with Vicki Lawrence & Monty Aidem, 196 pages

I'd read this book during the last election and thought it was funny, and we need something funny during these elections. Mama's Family was always good for a laugh and the thought of Thelma Harper as President is just what this country needs to pull us together.

Miss Marple The Complete Short Stories by Agatha Christie, 243 pages

For our book club this month we read any Agatha Christie book featuring Miss Marple. I thought reading all the short stories would be a good way to get a picture of this sweater-clad, knitting detective. I've heard that Miss Marple is supposed to be a mean gossipy old woman but I didn't see her that way. She was funny, and always figured out the solution.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I Love Ranch Dressing (And Other Stuff White Midwesterners Like), by C. L. Freie, 177 pages

My best friend gave me this book for my birthday, and I laughed all the way though it, mostly in recognition of traits and behaviors I see in myself and those around me. Among the things that white Midwesterners like, aside from the obvious ranch dressing: novelty sweaters, meth, craft stores, Jesus, being monolingual, homeschooling, hating evolution, Bill O'Reilly, and crab rangoon. OK, maybe none of those things reflect who I am, but I've met plenty of people who don't just like but LOVE those things, except maybe the meth. Me, I'll admit to liking big portions of food, talking about the weather, expensive pet care, Casey's General Store (where I can score some free air for my tires), free refills, and pantyhose. I will also confess to appearing in an old-timey photo, taken during a childhood trip to Branson. And before you think the author is being an elitist b-word, know that she grew up in Columbia, Missouri, raised by parents from Iowa, and now lives in Kansas City. She knows what she's talking about.

Atomic Kitchen: Gadgets and Inventions for Yesterday's Cook, by Brian Alexander, 176 pages

Oh, how I lurve these retro-themed books: hair, makeup, clothes, what have you. My all-time favorites are the ones about food, featuring colorful and disgusting pictures of Jell-O molds, ham casseroles and pickles speared by toothpicks. "Atomic Kitchen" is in that same vein, featuring gadgets and appliances marketed to the '50s housewife. There seemed to be a real emphasis on color: pink appliances, multi-colored tea kettles, and those cool aluminum cups in a rainbow of hues that my grandparents had and my sisters and I always fought over. Much of book features advertisements for a variety of refrigerators. Did you know you could get one that you covered with fabric to match your curtains or that came with different colored metal plates to place on the handle? Or that there was a fridge that would dispense orange juice and other liquids? And I thought I was
frivolous because I can't live without my immersion blender, garlic press, or zester. Those '50s housewives put me to shame.

The Compassion of Animals by Kristin von Kreisler (257 pgs)

A collection of stories about animals interacting with each other and with humans, von Kreisler shows that animals do have emotions and compassion for others.  Though most scientists disagree with her and explain away the actions of the animals with this instinct or that, it does seem to those who know and love animals that it is more than that.  (Perhaps, she says, the reason is that scientists who use animals for testing need to believe that they have no feelings.)

This book is full of many short stories... many of which will make you cry.  Some are happy and some are heart-breakingly sad.  All are fascinating.  I know that I find myself watching my animals (and always have) for unusual behaviour to be aware if they are trying to tell me something.  I have also experienced the love and comfort of animals when hurting the most and the laughter they can provide with their silliness.  Like young children, I believe that laughter encourages them to do the same thing even more.

Rumspringa: to be or not to be Amish by Tom Shachtman (272 pgs.)

The first thing that catches the eye about this book is the cover (it's why I picked it up).  It is a close up of a young woman's face.  You can see her head covering and cape dress, but what you really see is the cigarette that she is lighting.  Looking closer, you see that the view behind her is through a car window.

In this book, the author discusses the practice of Rumspringa in the Old Order Amish church.  What is it, why is it, and what is the effect of it on the church.  From there, the  author then goes in to a bit more detail on the practices of the Old Order Amish and contrasts it a bit with other Amish and Mennonite practices.

This was interesting and well written.  It seems to be quite accurate and not just the observations of an outsider.  It also confirms what I have heard from many who live near Amish settled areas... never let your daughter run around with an Amish boy during rumspringa.

Dragon's Time by Anne & Todd McCaffrey (424 pgs.)

Book 7 in this Pern series keeps readers working to keep up as Todd (working with his mom, Anne) continues to move through time in an effort to save Pern from Thread.  After the devastation of the dragon sickness, there are too few dragons to properly fight thread... which leads to more injuries and deaths.  It's only a matter of time until there are no dragons left to defend the planet from destruction.

But Time is what they have and use.  Going back in time yet again to heal wounded dragons and give young ones a chance to grow up until they are old enough to fight. 

Lorana also learns that while you cannot BREAK time, you CAN CHEAT it...

My Two Moms by Zach Wahls (234 pgs.)

Zach Wahls is an Eagle Scout who testified before the Iowa House Judiciary Committee as they were considered an amendment to ban gay marriage in that state.  He spoke as a healthy, intelligent, successful young man who happened to have been raised by two women.  A YouTube video of that testimony became famous in hours and he found himself  taking a road that he didn't expect... becoming an advocate for families like his and defending their right to exist.

This book is written in an interesting way.  The chapters are ordered by the Scout motto, law, oath and slogan.  He uses each part of the Scout law to show how well he was raised and that it wasn't because he had a mom and dad or because he did NOT have a mom and dad, but because he was had loving parents who raised him well.  It is not a perfectly written book, but written so that it feels like he is in the room telling his story to you.

If you have any concern about the rights of gay people to marry and raise families, this is a good read for you.  (And even if you don't, it is still a good read. )  His open, honest  presentation of his growing up years and the challenges of his family (having lesbian parents is not the primary one) will provide food for thought.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Abandon by Meg Cabot (304 pages)

When Pierce was 15, she hit her head, fell into a pool, and drowned. Although the doctors were able to resuscitate her, she can't seem to return to the normalcy she knew before the accident. She isn't able to forget what happened after she died.  Now 17, her mom has moved her from her home in Connecticut to an island off the coast of Florida to "make a new start."  But she still feels cut off from the rest of world, like she's no longer really a part of it.  And even though she's moved halfway across the country, he still finds her.  The man who she first met in a cemetery when she was just a child, who recognized her in the Underworld, the place she went when she died. The man who keeps showing up to protect her just when she needs him most... And unless she's careful, she may end up back in the very last place she would ever want to be... the Underworld.

I haven't read a Meg Cabot book since the Princess Diaries a few years back, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect.  As a huge fan of novels involving re-imagined Greek myths, the premise of this Persephone/Hades story sounded fantastic.  But I wasn't really that impressed.  The narrator of the audiobook was annoying, although I eventually got used to her whiny tones.  But my main disappointment in this book was the relationship between Pierce and John.  He's dark and angry and sometimes almost cruel, not to mention very controlling of Pierce.  She hates and fears him at first, but during one heated argument when he suddenly kisses her, she goes all ga-ga over him.  Gag.  Can we not have a teen book with a strong heroine who doesn't have a scary controlling but oh so handsome boyfriend?  Anyways, besides their weird relationship, I thought the book was fairly decent once the story got going.  Some interesting twists at the end even convinced me to check out the next book in the series.

Size 12 and Ready to Rock, by Meg Cabot, 375 pages

Oh, how I adore Meg Cabot's writing. And I've been a fan of the Heather Wells mystery series since the first book was published several years ago. After the third book, I was convinced the series was over, as the ending had a happily-ever-after glow to it that seemed to signal that all was right in Heather's world. Then, to my great joy, a fourth book, "Size 12 and Ready to Rock," was released this fall. While not as fluffy and fun as the first two books in the series, I still enjoyed "Size 12." Heather is happily in a relationship with her beloved Cooper, to whom she is planning her wedding. Then her ex-boyfriend and his pop star wife come back into the picture because the wife is being stalked by someone with murderous intentions and they need Cooper and Heather's help. Overall, a light read, despite the stalking element. It was nice to revisit characters from
a series I love.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hiss and Hers by M. C. Beaton, 294 pages

I'm a fan of pretty much everything M. C. Beaton writes, but I'm especially glad to see a new Agatha Raisin book. I have to say I'm really feeling for Agatha, and hope she gets to find a little bit of happiness soon. It would be nice to see her have someone who really cared for her.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling, 341 pages

I'm reading the first few Harry Potter books just to make sure they're appropriate for Samantha now that's she old enough to read them. I will probably let her read them up through the Goblet of Fire, but I just wanted to enjoy them again and make sure of the violence level.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling, 309 pages

Samantha got this book for her 11th birthday and I felt an urge to read it again. It's the 5th or 6th time I've read it, but it's still really good.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer, 438 pages

I'd seen that Kurt from Glee had written a children's book and I was intrigued. I started it with low expectations, and I was shocked to discover just how good it was. Alex and Conner are twins who have had all the happy in their lives die when their father died. They have little hope of a happy birthday, but their grandmother gives them the book containing many of the stories their father told. Little did they expect to find that the storybook contained a magical land where the fairytales were true.
From almost page one, this book captivated me. I'm a fan of fairytale books, and I have to say that I believe this was better than the Sisters Grimm books and that is saying a lot. I would be interested in seeing if Colfer is going to write a sequel. I believe this book is so good I will most likely be buying a copy as a Christmas present for my daughter.

Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield, 388 pages

This was reviewed on the Unshelved Friday strip, and I'm always a sucker for books about England, and English country life. This was hysterical, a look at the life of a country lady, with all her obligations but little money to go with it. The expectations, the social mores, and the changing viewpoints were all perfectly captured. It says there are one or two sequels and I think I'm going to try to track them down.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Formula for Murder by Carol McCleary, 336 pages

I've been a fan of Nellie Bly for a long time. She wasn't afraid to try to make her own way as a reporter in a man's world, and had a lot of adventures, including traveling around the world to try to beat Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days challenge. So I was excited to see this murder mystery that featured not only Nellie Bly, but also Oscar Wilde (another literary favorite), Arthur Conan Doyle, and H.G. Wells. This was a enjoyable read, and I will be eagerly picking up the first two books that I managed to miss somehow.

Beauty and the Beast by Wendy Mass, 282 pages

I've really enjoyed these Twice Upon a Tale books that are retellings of some fairy tales. The only drawback is fighting off my kids so I get a chance to read them.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

by John Green & David Levithan, 337 pages.

Another beautiful book having something to do with David Levithan.  I officially have an author crush on this man.  Someone buy me everything he's ever written!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fables 17: Inherit the Wind, 143 pages

I'm now at the sad point of being completely caught up on this graphic novel series until the next one comes out. It kind of makes me want to cry a little because I really like this series, it might be my favorite one out there.