Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, 352 pages

Several of you have already reviewed this book so I will not go into much detail. I will say, this book definitely kept my attention. It wasn't as scary or creepy as I thought it would be, but I was impressed by the complex and very creative storyline. It is another book that begins a series. It would be refreshing to one day read a book again that both originates and completes a storyline but, alas, this is not the era we live in. However, I think there are enough new concepts and a fresh enough plot in this read to distinguish this against the million and a half teen books out there that feature a character trying to figure out love and life amidst other-worldly creatures and happenings. I might continue to follow the series.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Highly Effective Detective Crosses the Line by Richard Yancey, 230 pages

This is the 4th book in the series, and was a switch from all the others in how dark it got very quickly. One of the things I loved about Ruzak is how optimistic he is, and that was pretty much destroyed. There were parts of this book that had me almost crying, even though it was still funny at places. The author has done an outstanding job of having the character grow, I'm just not sure how happy I am with it though.

Falling Apart by Francine Pascal, 180 pages

Closer and closer to the end.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, 720 pages

We are trying to read 1 or 2 classics a year for book club. I hadn't read this for over 15 years, and even then I think it might have been an abridged copy. Dumas did intrigue, adventure, and romance like nobody else.

Never Let Go by Francine Pascal, 179 pages

Nothing beats Sweet Valley High, lol.

Straight Up by Francine Pascal, 176 pages

These are really great to read when you don't feel good and don't want to concentrate on anything.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling, 734 pages

I've read this book before, more than once, and will read it again. I picked it up this time because I'm working my way through the series again to see if the books are age-appropriate for my youngest. She has read up through this one, and really wants to read the next one. But I'm making her wait until I've read it to double check just how dark it really was.

Courtney Crumrin:The Night Things by Ted Naifeh, 134 pages

When I went to pick up my comic book subscription at Hurley's Heroes, I made the mistake of looking at the graphic novels for sale. This caught my eye, and because I had a coupon, decided to give it a try. Courtney's status-crazed parents have moved in with their great-uncle to take care of him (and take advantage of the free rent) and Courtney must try to fit into a new school while dealing with the strange events taking place in the house. It seems that Courtney's great (and no one is sure of how many greats it is exactly) uncle is in touch with dark and supernatural creatures. This was a good read, with wonderful artwork. I am going to have to pick up the second book for sure.

Forgotten Tales of Missouri by Mary Collins Barile, 188 pages

I love reading about little bits of Missouri history that have been passed over or forgotten. It's like mini shots of history. This is a new book at the library that caught a coworker's eye, and she asked me to read it and see if it was any good. I really enjoyed it and it's a fast read for someone who wants to just learn a little bit about some of Missouri's interesting people and events.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Flesh & Bone by Jonathan Maberry, 469 pages

This was the third in what has been an outstanding zombie series. Each one is dark, enthralling, and keeps you on the edge of your seat, while eagerly awaiting the next book. Just when you think the world can't get any darker, it does. I now have to wait (and not patiently) for the final book in this quad.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (592 pages)

I read this one for my January book club meeting.  Loved it!  I think Cari reviewed it on here already, so see her review if you want full details.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Highly Effective Detective Plays the Fool by Richard Yancey, 261 pages

Imagine if Barney Fife had a detective agency, and you've got this book down pat. It's sweet and funny, and kind of sad, all at once. This would make a great tv series/

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (419 pages)

From Amazon: On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?
   As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

 Oh my goodness. I haven't read a book that I have been so utterly obsessed with since The Hunger Games. I completely devoured this book. Any free time that I had was spent reading this book, and when I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. The ending wasn't as great as the rest of the book, I will admit, but I think the rest of the book more than makes up for that.

Catch Me by Lisa Gardner (391 pages)

Charlene Grant believes she is going to die. For the past few years, her childhood friends have been murdered one by one. Same day. Same time. Now she’s the last of her friends alive, and she’s counting down the final four days of her life until January 21.
Charlene doesn’t plan on going down without a fight. She has taken up boxing, shooting, and running. She also wants Boston’s top homicide detective, D. D. Warren, to handle the investigation.
But as D.D. delves deeper into the case, she starts to question the woman’s story. Instinct tells her that Charlene may not be in any danger at all. If that’s true, the woman must have a secret—one so terrifying that it alone could be the greatest threat of all.

I don't read many murder mystery type books so this was a nice change from the books I normally read.  There were some crazy plot twists, some I saw coming, but others were definitely a surprise. If you like these detective type novels, I would definitely recommend this one.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Book of Rules by Joshua Belter, 203 pages

A book finally outlining the proper way to do just about everything. Rules ranging from how to properly cross the street, who is in charge of radio choices in the car, sock guidelines, and who is allowed to wear low hanging pants. This book had me laughing and ready to hand out discrepancy forms to those who don't follow these guidelines.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dying to Read by Lorena McCourtney, 313 pages

Cate Kinkaid is working for her uncle as a PI's assistant just until she can find a real job. Her assignment is just to verify a woman's address, little does she expect to stumble across a dead body. Her easy job soon turns into a muddled mystery that Cate may just survive, if she's lucky. The only real drawback to this book was that the title doesn't really fit the story, but other than that it was a good read. I especially like how this author mixes Christian faith into mysteries without being preachy or over the top.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver, 441 pages

I loved Lauren Oliver's book, Before I Fall, so I was curious to begin her other series, the first installment being Delirium. Delirium is told from the viewpoint of Lena, a girl on the verge of her 18th birthday, living in the future in which love is considered a dangerous disease. In her time, when young men and women reach adulthood, around age 18, they are given a "cure" which is a brain surgery to remove the ability to feel love or passion. Lena begins the book excited to get the cure and begin her "happy" uncomplicated life, until she meets Alex, who turns her world upside down and makes her see the terrifying truth of their current way of life. This book was compelling in parts and definitely ended with a cliffhanger. I found Before I Fall so refreshingly real and direct in the plot's approach to teen relationships, that I was a bit disappointed by Delirium. Parts of the love story felt a bit contrived and the plot dragged occasionally. All in all, I guess I liked it enough to find out what happens next.

Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio by Peg Kehret, 179 pages

Peg Kehret is a well-known, frequently awarded author of mainly juvenile fiction. In Small Steps, she gives the auto-biographical account of when she contracted polio at the age of thirteen. A patron asked me where to find this title and I got it off the shelf for her. The content intrigued me and when the patron did not check it out, I quickly did. I have always heard of polio and the terrible after affects of the disease in history, but did not know much about it. This book is a beautifully constructed account based on the feelings of she remembers as a young girl whose life completely changes in a matter of months: going from health, to paralysis, to a slow rebuilding of her body's muscles. Even though it is a short 179 pages, her account was more poignant and pulled more emotion from me than numerous five hundred page books I've been reading. There is a reason this book won the Mark Twain Award, lovely.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Post Secret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God by Frank Warren, 276 pages

I love Post Secret. This art project (started in 2004) involves people from all over the world who send anonymous postcards confessing their secrets to a stranger (Frank Warren). I think the outlet is beautiful, powerful, and raw.

A Natural Woman: A Memoir by Carole King 496 pages

At the insistence of a library patron, and with Tapestry being one of my favorite records of all time, I decided to give this lengthy autobiography a whirl. It took me two check outs, but I finally made it through.

Nothing Is Forever by Francine Pascal, 163 pages

I can't believe I made it through middle and high school without reading these.

As If I Care by Francine Pascal, 179 pages

I keep plugging away, another one closer to the end of this series.

Shooting Victoria by Paul Thomas Murphy, 669 pages

I'm a fan of nonfiction, English history, true crime, and royalty, so this look at the attempts on Queen Victoria during her long reign, was a perfect melding of all of these subjects. Queen Victoria did a wonderful job of rebuilding the English people's love for their rulers, especially through her rides through London. A few crackpots taking aim at her was not going to stop her, and it had the amazing effect of increasing her popularity. One of the amazing things is, that none of the people who tried to shoot her were part of a conspiracy, they were all pretty much crazy and acting on their own. This is a pretty massive read, but very interesting.

DON'T LOOK NOW: STORIES by Daphne du Maurier, 346 pages

Superbly creepy. Check it out!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Running with Scissors (320 pages).

By Augusten Burroughs.

Wow. Very dark, but intriguing.

What Would Wonder Woman Do? by Susan Colon & Jennifer Traig, 128 pages

I got this book for Christmas to add to my Wonder Woman collection. The subtitle is: An Amazon's Guide to the Working World. The chapters take you from The Interview, through the Perils of the Office Romance, up to Vacation, Benefits and Other Perks. It's funny, filled with great Wonder Woman artwork, and talks about how hard being a working woman in today's world is, especially in high heeled red boots.

Garfield gets in a pickle by Jim Davis, 94 pages

Happiness is a new Garfield collection book.

Garfield keeps his chins up by Jim Davis, 95 pages

New Garfield books in at the library that I picked up for Samantha. The hard part is fighting off Samantha and Renee both to get a chance at reading them. It's hard to believe that Garfield has been around for over two decades, and is still funny.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Leave a Candle Burning by Lori Wick (314 pgs.)

Book 3 in the Tucker Mills Trilogy includes favourite characters from the 2 previous books as well as some new ones.  What happens when the new doctor in town falls for a woman before he realizes that she is already spoken for?  An interesting twist of sorts for a good, wholesome bit of romance.

Becoming Sister Wives by Kody, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn Brown (269 pgs.)

This book is written by the 5 adults involved in a plural marriage.  They are presenting the "normal" side of this sort of relationship as compared to the sensational newsworthy bits of sects that encourage child marriage/rape, bride moving, and a general lack of freedom.  In comparison, these are regular, everyday folks that just happen to all be one family: 1 husband, 4 wives, and (I think) 17 children.

I'm still not sure my opinion on the matter, but, in honesty, these folks seem happy.  They write about the good and the bad.  They have also done a reality show to introduce their lifestyle to the world at large.

Stuck in the Middle edited by Ariel Schrag, 210 pages

This graphic novel featured 17 comics all about middle school. Reading it just reminded me of how much I hated middle and high school, and how you couldn't pay me to go through that again. My 11-year-old read it and told me that she thought I probably looked like one of the characters in middle school. It was not a flattering picture and the sad thing is that I did look like that. On that depressing note I will say this was extremely well-done and reflects the feelings that seem to afflict kids at that age.

My Happy Days in Hollywood by Garry Marshall & Lori Marshall, 276 pages

I'd finished Penny Marshall's biography not too long ago, so it was interesting to read about the same show (Laverne & Shirley) from her brother's point of view. This family has created some of the best shows and movies around, I like the fact that they do family friendly very well.

The House of Lost Souls by F. G. Cottam, 343 pages

This was a very odd ghost story, going with the premise that places can be evil. I did like the fact that Crowley was in this book, he was a fascinating character. Very English, if you like that in your ghost stories.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

How to Have a Big Wedding on a Small Budget by Diane Warner (185 pages)

The Modern Bride Survival Guide (259 pages)

Another Faust by Daniel Nayeri (387 pages)

One night, in cities all across Europe, five children vanish — only to appear, years later, at an exclusive New York party with a strange and elegant governess. Rumor and mystery follow the Faust teenagers to the city’s most prestigious high school, where they soar to suspicious heights with the help of their benefactor’s extraordinary "gifts." But as the students claw their way up — reading minds, erasing scenes, stopping time, stealing power, seducing with artificial beauty — they start to suffer the side effects of their own addictions. And as they make further deals with the devil, they uncover secrets more shocking than their most unforgivable sins. At once chilling and wickedly satirical, this contemporary re-imagining of the Faustian bargain is a compelling tale of ambition, consequences, and ultimate redemption.

Every Day by David Levithan (336 pages)

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (579 pages)

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Diana is a witch--a Bishop (like the Salem Witch Trials Bishops)--but she has disavowed her magic.  Instead, she studies history.  Specifically, she studies Alchemy.  During her research at the Bodleian Library (in Oxford), she calls up an alchemical manuscript that is bewitched.  When she opens it, she sets into motion some serious drama involving all the "creatures" of this world--witches, vampires, and daemons.  After she sends the manuscript back to the stacks, the creatures begin showing up at the Bodleian to watch her.  Matthew Clairmont (a hunky vampire) watches her the closest and begins to protect her from the other creatures until they can figure out why this manuscript is so important and how to deal with it.  (We all know where that's going, right?)

You guys! I LOVED this book!  Harkness did her homework.  She weaves history, science, mystery, magic,and intrigue into this tale so well that it becomes engrossing.  Seriously, I didn't want to do anything but read this book.  I barely talked to my family and I hardly slept.  So good.

The only downside: Book 3 hasn't been published yet. Harkness hasn't finished writing it yet!  I don't know how I will make it!

I read and listened to this book.  Both formats are great.

Werewolves of the Heartland by Bill Willingham, 152 pages

I have to disagree with Stephanie because I have been hooked on this series from book 1 and loved every book. I'm seriously considering starting my own collection to own all of these myself.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lauren Conrad Style by Lauren Conrad (230 pages)

John Saturnall's Feast by Lawerence Norfolk, 410 pages

John Saturnall and his mother fled their village after accusations of witchcraft. Trying to stay alive in the woods during the winter, his mother opens a book and shares the story of an ancient feast, passed down through the generations. Unfortunately, it's not enough to keep his mother alive. Put to work in the kitchen at Buckland Manor, John becomes a cook, using the secrets of the feast. The English Civil War and figures from John's past threaten all that John holds dear.
This was a really strange read, with overtones of magic. I have to say that any book that involves Cromwell instantly has me on edge, because I feel such anger for what Cromwell destroyed. I'm not English and I'm far removed from this time period, so I'm not sure why I feel such a sense of ownership but I do. So that may have influenced my enjoyment of this book.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids, 101 ways to get kids outside, dirty, and having fun by Whitney Cohen and John Fisher, 264 pgs

This book was inspiring, educational, practical, creative, and cool! It helped me pass some thyme (sorry couldn't resist...) this winter and to hopefully cultivate my garden dreams to reality come the arrival of spring, all while giving utmost importance to kids in the garden! A few ideas I shall incorporate this year are a bean tee-pee (a perfect kid-hide-away), "three sisters" which is how many Native Americans plant corn, squash, and beans together (the interdependence of these crops is remarkable: the corn stalks provide the beans a trellis to climb, the beans put nitrogen back in the soil for the squash & corn and the squash provides ground covering around the corn and beans!) While reading this book I created a backyard birdbath from a stump and a sledding disk (totally awesome, it looks like a mushroom) and have plotted out my next garden even more extensively than last.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), by Mindy Kaling, 222 pages

Meh. I was expecting more. Perhaps I was spoiled by the comedic brilliance of Tina Fey's "Bossypants," but Mindy Kaling's book left me cold. Parts made me laugh quietly, but overall, she's just not that interesting, nor are her observations and experiences. She's strikes me as an average nerdy girl who is striving to be a hipster. I read the book because I needed something light, and I got it.

Crossed by Ally Condie -- 367 pgs

The second in a dystopian society teen novel, Crossed continues the story from Matched.  In this book, Cassia sets out to find Ky in the Outer Provinces.  In the process she discovers more about The Society, and discovers a rebellion.

This isn't my favorite dystopian novel by any means, but I will probably finish the triliogy with Reached when my name percolates to the top of the holds list.  It took me a long time to get into this book -- even to the point of returning it  unread and having to wait to get it again.  By then I could get it for three weeks and it even took me one renewal period to finish it.  I just didn't find it compelling enough to trump Christmas and families activities....

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Revolution Was Televised (388 pages).

By Alan Sepinwall.

Great analysis of the evolution of television in the last 15 years with coherent writing and unique details on the behind-the-scenes creation of the following shows: Oz, Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, The Shield, Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 24, Battlestar Galactica, Friday Night Lights, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad. The cover could be a lot cooler, but I tore through this book in three hours (ok, I skipped parts of the chapters about shows I haven't seen, but still)!

That first sentence was the longest sentence ever to punctuate a very long day, so I will leave it at, as they say, that.

It's My Life by Francine Pascal, 178 pages

Each book is another one closer to the end of this series. These have been a great read when I want something quick and mindless.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Illusion of Murder by Carol McCleary, 352 pages

This book had Nellie Bly trying to travel around the world in 72 days to beat Jules Verne's literary character in "Around the World in 80 Days". But of course Nellie is incapable of doing anything without getting involved in murder and intrigue.

The Alchemy of Murder by Carol McCleary, 364 pages

This book was a mystery featuring Nellie Bly, along with Pasteur, Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde and other historical characters. I love the mix of intrigue with actual people, it makes for a great literary read.

The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen, 311 pages

I've become a big fan of these series because it's funny, intriguing, well-written and just plain fun to read.

Style Me Vintage by Naomi Thompson, Belinda Hay, and Katie Reynolds (272 pgs.)

I love vintage style, so was happy to find another new book on the topic.  Subtitled "Step-by-Step Retro Look Book", this book does just that.  It explains how to define and recognize vintage vs. retro (for nitpickers) vs. vintage/retro styled.  There are also sections on era appropriate hairstyles and make-up with step-by-step illustrations.

It is geared more towards purchasing actual vintage items than re-creating a look, though the information is useful for that as well.

The authors are apparently British, so there are some vocabulary quirks (such as clothing having "zips" and "poppers", which I think are snaps), but nothing too difficult. 

The editing in the book, however, is quite bad in that there are quite a number of "see pg. #" references that are nowhere near the correct page.