Thursday, February 28, 2013

Trouble Don't Last by Shelley Pearsall 239 pages

This is a tale about how a young slave boy named Samuel and an old slave named Harrison runaway to Canada during the time of the Underground Railroad.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel (310 pages)

This is the sequel to This Dark Endeavor, and I really can't even describe this storyline without completely ruining the ending of the first book, so I'll just say that this book was even darker than the first.  I can't get enough of this series!!

This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel (298 pages)

I have to admit, the whole Frankenstein story never interested me.  It seems gory and creepy to me, so I was never interested in reading the book or anything.  But then a few weeks ago, I was reading some magazine, I don't even remember what it was, and I came across a book entitled Such Wicked Intent. I don't know why, but the title caught my eye.  Long story short, I figured out that was the second in a series of prequels to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.  This is the first in the series, called This Dark Endeavor. (Aren't these titles so wonderfully dark and mysterious?)  After the first chapter, I was obsessed.  To the point that I'm actually thinking about reading the original Frankenstein now!  This Dark Endeavor is the story of 16 year old Victor Frankenstein, who, after his twin brother falls mysteriously ill, takes it upon himself to find a cure.  With the help of his beautiful cousin Elizabeth and their friend Henry, he sets out on a dangerous mission to find the Elixir of Life in hopes of saving his brother's life.

Lidia's Favorite Recipes, by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, 221 pages

Foodies, especially those who love Italian cuisine, are quite familiar with Lidia Bastianich. A long-time chef, restaurateur and cookbook author (as well as TV star, thanks to PBS), Lidia become the face of Italian food in this country long before Mario Batali popped up. I've read some of her other cookbooks, and, while lovely, I never got much from them, as they were heavy on the meat and featured somewhat complicated recipes and inaccessible ingredients. But "Lidia's Favorite Recipes" is a cookbook that everyone can enjoy. There are plenty of vegetarian options, recipes are fairly uncomplicated and most ingredients are readily available. Lots of pasta dishes, as well as seafood, beef and poultry, desserts, sauces, salads and soups. It's not fancy, frou-frou food; it's family cooking. I've already made one dish -- Ziti with Roasted Eggplant and Ricotta -- twice. OMG. Sooo good. Plus it was easy and fast to prepare. This one will impress dinner guests without too much effort on your part, so my friends need to beware: It might make an appearance at my next dinner party! I can't wait to try several other dishes, included a tempting appetizer: Egg-Bsttered Zucchini Rollups.

Lover's Lane: the Hall-Mills Mystery by Rick Geary, 80 pages

I've never requested an ILL, but I think I'm going to do so for the rest of this graphic novel series, The Treasury of XXth Century Murder. Sorry, Jason! :-( Although I stay away from books about contemporary killers, I do have a weakness for books about historical murder cases. I'd not heard of the Hall-Mills murders, but it's definitely an unsolved mystery, though the possible perpetrators are strongly implied. The affair between two lovers, a married pastor and a married member of his choir, ends when both are found dead on a country road, their love letters strewn around them. The book delves into the case and examines all the potential suspects.

Eat Your Vegetables by Arthur Potts Dawson, 304 pages

Do what this book says and eat your vegetables. They're good for you. And the nice thing about "Eat Your Vegetables" is that it's pretty diverse. Even for picky eaters, there has to be something in here that will appeal. Lovely pictures, and recipes that don't intimidate. My only frustration: some of the vegetables and herbs required aren't usually available in area grocery stores or farmer's markets, so access might be an issue.

Saga, Volume 1, by Brian K. Vaughan, 160 pages

Loved this graphic novel. Sat down to read it and didn't look up until I'd finished. Two soldiers, Alana and Marko, on opposing sides of a galactic war fall in love and flee the conflict that has befallen their cultures. The book opens as Alana is giving birth to the couple's child. The fledgling family is pursued by bounty hunters and soldiers from both factions as they seek a safe place to be together and raise their daughter. "Saga" is fast-paced and action-packed, with gorgeous artwork. The writing is equally vivid and at times poetic. Alana and Marko will hold your attention, and I definitely want to see more of the bounty hunter The Will in future editions. Just a heads up: probably not one for the kiddos, as "Saga" contains salty language, nudity and sexual content.

My Heart Is An Idiot by Davy Rothbart, 307 pages

Collection of essays that I found depressing and a little loosey-goosey with morality, so not really my cup of tea.

The Falstaff Vampire Files by Lynne Murray, 275 pages

I'm not a huge, huge Shakespeare fan, so I wasn't really up on who John Falstaff was, but I do know the actually person he was based on, Sir John Oldcastle (which I know because of a recent book "The Tower") so I was able to understand the time period the vampire was from. This was an odd vampire book and not my favorite.

Young Miss Holmes (Casebook 1-2) by Kaoru Shintani, 384 pages

This was my first official manga book, and I must say, they're hard to read. I had to keep remembering right to left, right to left. The artwork was a sometimes creepy with the big eyes (I kept thinking they were using belladonna drops) and evidently the storyline of Sherlock Holmes' 10-year-old niece being as smart and deductive as him was enough, they had to throw in a vampire twist. Still, it was an entertaining read, and I can see why they're so popular with teens and tweens.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Easter Bunny Murder by Leslie Meier, 263 pages

Hard to believe that this is the 21st in this holiday murder mystery series. I've been reading them since almost the very beginning, and if and when Miss Tilly dies, I will be heartbroken.

Playing Dirty by Francine Pascal, 180 pages

There is nothing like teenage drama to make for some fun, mindless reading.

Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz (359 pages)

Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sanez
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe has been on my To Read list for a while.  It got a bump after winning the Stonewall Book Award and getting a Printz Honor, but it didn't get to the top of the list until my mother (who is a former English teacher now working in school libraries, so she has creds beyond being my wonderful Momma) told me, "Read it.  It'll make you joyful."

Set in the late 1980s, Ari(stotle) and Dante meet the summer between sophomore and junior year at the swimming pool.  Ari can't swim, so Dante teaches him.  This begins a friendship both boys desperately need though neither is completely willing to admit it.  As they learn to trust each other and their friendship, Life throws all kinds of curve-balls their way.  Family secrets, illness, death, hospitalizations, kissing, questions about sexuality, falling in love, etc, etc, etc. 

Ari's narration is painfully and beautifully honest.  Even though he is questioning and is angry about so much, his story never gets bogged down or melodramatic.  I think Saenz's character development helps.  Both boys are fully realized characters and both sets of parents are refreshingly complex.

Ari and Dante did make me joyful, just like Momma said they would.  This is a quiet kind of book.  One that is so full of real--real life events, real characters, real dialogue--that its impact quietly sneaks up on you.  You cry, you laugh, and you feel joyful in the end because you know everything's going to be alright.

Underage drinking, pot smoking, fights, kissing, other mild sexual situations, and some swears make this one for teens who can handle them. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Easter Island by Jennifer Vanderbes, 308 pages

This was a book club book that all but one person enjoyed. Very rare for us to have that must consensus.

The People Code by Dr. Taylor Hartman (301 pgs.)

I read this book as a follow up to the Motives/ Colour Code training we had at the library.  It's all in there, but, I have to say, it's much more interesting to listen to than to read about.  I also find the idolizing of Dr. Hartman to be quite annoying (moreso than the in person presentation).

However, I do find the general information about various personalities and their interactions to be helpful and interesting... as long as they are used as guides and not rules. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Freak Show (304 pages).

by James St. James.

Don't judge this book based on this cover. It is as cheesy as this cover, but it's classier too, at the same time, somehow. If that makes sense...

This is probably one of my top five books of all time and this is the first time I've read it, and you guys KNOW I don't take top five lists lightly! I wish James St. James would base a whole series on the flamboyantly wonderful main character in this book. His name is Billy and he's a high school drag queen. I found his story to be realistic and his voice is FABULOUS, frank, and optimistic.

If you've ever wanted to know what it's like (or want to relive your experience) to survive high school being called a freak whilst knowing how fabulous you truly are, read this book immediately (we have it at the library). It's SOOOO much fun.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Beware the Ninja Weenies by David Lubar, 188 pages

David Lubar's short stories are always some of the funniest and most twisted that I've read. Scott Meeker's short stories for Halloween reminded me a little of his work. If you like your juvenile short stories odd, creepy and hilarious, this is a great book to pick up.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Faces from the Past by James Deem (154 pages)

Faces from the Past by James Deem
This book is neat, you guys!  It details the history and process of facial reconstructions--finding a skull and recreating the face that used to be on it. 

The book begins with Spirit Cave Man, a man who died 10,500 years ago and was found in the Nevada desert in 1940 and takes readers through the facial reconstructions of several other people who died in North America from 1000 AD through 1881. 

Deem also covers the beginnings of facial reconstruction (all the way back in 7000 BC) and how anatomists, doctors, and artists worked together in the 1890s to make the charts for average depth measurements of specific areas of the face. 

With lots of pictures, maps, and boxes with additional and interesting information, Faces from the Past is an interesting and quick read.  If you're at all into the crime shows like Bones, this is a good book to check out!

The End by Larua Barcella (157 pages)

The End: 50 apocalyptic visions from pop culture that you should know about... before it's too late is a really long title to a pretty fun book.  With the popularity of apocalyptic and dystopian fiction, especially in teen lit, this book is timely.  Barcella takes 50 works (movies, songs, books, TV series, art pieces, plays, comic books, etc) that have an apocalyptic theme of some sort and summarizes them very thoroughly--including the ends, so spoiler alert.

With each summary, Barcella includes several other features that add depth to her work.  She discusses the inspiration for the work, its impact on pop culture, notable moments, quotes, other works by the creators, and "Reality Factor" boxes.  These boxes talk about how likely the events are to happen in real life.  The entries also include a picture with very clever and sometimes snarky captions.

The End is a good example of a work with multiple access points--sometimes a helpful feature for reluctant readers.  You don't have to read the whole book to enjoy it and you certainly don't have to read it in order.  Barcella orders her apocalyptic events alphabetically, so there's no reason not to skip around.

She includes a nice mix of recent works and older works that shows exactly how long society has been thinking about its end.  Most of the books included are older--only 3 were published post 2000--and are decidedly adult (as are the movies), so some teens may be limited on what they can explore further.

My only quibble is that the pictures are black and white and poor quality.  This only matters when the entry is about a work of art, but for those entries, it matters a lot.  In order to fully appreciate the artwork, I had to find other sources and I'm not sure teens will make that effort.

All-in-all though, I'd recommend this one for anyone obsessed with or confused by the apocalyptic/dystopian craze that has hit the library (and bookstore) shelves.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Restless in the Grave by Dana Stabenow, 371 pages

I really enjoy the Kate Shugak books. It's an interesting look at Alaska and they always grab me.

Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet -- 226 pages

I have a little confession to make: I have a very unsophisticated way of choosing the books I read.

It gets even more unsophisticated when I go online to download an e-book or audiobook from our collection. When I do that, it generally means that I need something to read right now.

There is a nifty feature on the Joplin Public Library's online portal (www. that makes my decision easier. By checking a box labeled "Available Now," readers can filter results to show only titles that are available immediately.

When I bring up the titles, I search for a title (and accompanying cover) that catches whatever whimsy I am feeling that day, as was the case recently. The book that caught my fancy was "Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Mind of an Autistic Savant" by Daniel Tammet.

Although it's been around for a long time, autism began to be written about in the 1940s. Asperger's syndrome didn't become an official diagnosis until 1992. When my children were born in the '80s, I had heard of autism but didn't know of anyone on the autism spectrum.

That's all changed now. I dare say everyone knows a person or family affected by autism. Joplin is fortunate to be home to the Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism. When I saw the subtitle of the book, I was intrigued.

"Born on a Blue Day" is written by a man considered an "autistic savant," because of his mathematical prowess and linguistic abilities. Born in 1979, Tammet was a difficult baby. He cried continually, day and night. Doctors were unable to give his parents any reason for his incessant crying other than colic.

His behavior was equally challenging. He reports banging his head against the living-room wall to the point of bruising, despite his parents' efforts to stop him. Along with head banging was rhythmic rocking, violent tantrums, head slapping and screaming.

I can only imagine from a parent's point of view how utterly frustrating and exhausting this must have been.

When Tammet began to speak about his parents and how they handled his issues, I thought, "Oh boy, here it comes." I imagined he was going to describe the parents from hell. Instead, throughout the book he only has positive things to say about the way his parents championed him and encouraged him.

Tammet describes how he sees the world. For example, he sees Wednesdays as blue. He was born on a Wednesday, hence the title of his book.

He sees numbers as having shape, color, texture and motion. For example, "The number 1 ... is a brilliant and bright white ... Five is a clap of thunder ... 37 is lumpy like porridge, while 89 reminds me of falling snow."

Mathematical calculations are favorites of his, particularly power multiplication -- multiplying numbers by themselves a particular number of times. He sees patterns in his head that give him the correct answer. For example, 37 to the 5th power (69,343,957) is a large circle composed of smaller circles running clockwise from the top around.

Tammet is also gifted linguistically. He talks about learning languages and how he masters them easily. He speaks about 10 different languages, even going as far as mastering Icelandic in one week.

The book is interesting because he gives examples of how his sight translates to the rest of us. This, however, is also one of the weaknesses of the book. There are times the explanations and examples go into too much detail.

The book is also one of triumph, showing the transition Tammet makes as an outsider who is known for being weird and having no friends, to someone who has learned to cope with the world and make the most of his special abilities.

This book was also educational for me. It was fascinating to see why autistic children perform certain actions. It gave me a glimpse into a different world.

Joplin Public Library has "Born on a Blue Day" in print, on CD and in downloadable audiobook formats.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz (260 pages)

Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz
Teen Fiction
4/5 Stars

Yanek is 10 years old when Krakow, Poland falls to the Nazis. He and his parents live in the neighborhood that the Nazis wall off as the Jewish ghetto so they don't have to relocate, but they do have to take family after family into their small apartment to make room for everyone who is relocated.

After three years of living in constant fear that they will be taken by the Nazis for a work detail and not returned, that their apartment will be raided for valuables (including food), that they will be shot dead in the street, Yanek sees his mother and father in a group of Jews who are being "deported" by the Nazis. He is filled with the terrible certainty that they are being taken to their deaths.

Yanek, now 13, decides at this moment that he will survive. He will survive at all costs for his family who did not. Yanek makes this decision over and over throughout the next three years as he survives death marches, starvation, beatings, cattle cars, and loss after loss in and between 10 concentration camps.

Prisoner B-3087 is based on the true story of Jack Gruener.  Jack's story is even more amazing and remarkable than the fictionalized version, but Alan Gratz does an excellent job of detailing Yanek's survival and the atrocities of the Holocaust. Gratz has a gift for finding the balance between writing about historical events in a factual way and keeping Yanek's voice true and realistic as he endures and survives horror after horror.

Prisoner B-3087 was not an easy book for me to read because there is no separation between this book and reality--these events really happened to real people. While I read, I kept questioning how it is possible to survive what Yanek survives and whether or not I would have the strength to do so.  I am still not sure.

There is certainly no lack of books about the Holocaust in Children's and Teen Lit. Alan Gratz has written one that can proudly stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the best.

(Prisoner B-3087 is due out March 1, 2013.  I read an advanced reader copy sent to me by the author.)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Gross America by Richard Faulk, 262 pages

This was an entertaining look at some of the grossest things in America broken down by state. America has a poop-powered street lamp (dog poop), we've found one of Lewis & Clark's latrines, and museums devoted to medical oddities galore. This book had me laughing, cringing, and wanting to travel America. One word of warning, not a good book to read while eating.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fables:Cubs Willingham, Buckingham, Leialoha, & Ha, 192 page

Just when I thought Fables couldn't get any darker, BAM, it does. This one featured two of Bigby's cubs and had me wanting to put the book down throughout, just to almost relieve the tension. This was gripping, heartbreaking, and extremely well done.

EAT THIS, NOT THAT by David Zinczenko, 319 pages

Did you know that the FDA allows for canned pineapple to contain up to 20% moldy fruit, that canned tomatoes may have 5 fly eggs or 2 maggots per 500 grams, or that 400 insect fragments and 11 rodent hairs may be found per 50 grams of ground cinnamon? GROSS!!! But don't discount this title, as it's much more than a tale of grossness. It's a guide to your supermarket and that which is within. It expounds on why markets are arranged as they are and why food is marketed as such. The bulk of this book, however, is as simple as the title states: eat this (Breyer's YoCrunch yogurt with Oreo pieces), not that (Horizon Organic Fat-Free Strawberry yogurt). Why? Read the book to find out! 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Tower: An Epic History of the Tower of London by Nigel Jones, 456 pages

This was a dense nonfiction look at the history of the Tower of London, and the history of England itself, with the very beginning stonework to the last execution. It's unbelievable how much history is tied up in this location. This book left me even more determined to go to England someday.

CREEPY CUTE CROCHET by Christen Haden, 96 pages

Zombies, Ninjas, Robots & MORE! ...So much more that I've accrued $2.00 in overdue fines absorbing it all...

Ender's Game (352 pages)

If I had to pick one favorite book, this would be close to the top of my list.  I've read it before, but it's our book club pick for February, so I listened to the audio again.  It's just as good as it was the first time around.  If you haven't listened to it before, you should check out the audio, it's superb! 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (533 pages)

This was a very different concept for a book but it was also a  great story. Even if you have seen the movie before reading the book like I had,  we all know books are usually better than the movies!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dry (320 pages).

By Augusten Burroughs.

Memoir about alcoholism. Deeply moving and difficult. I typically don't do deeply moving and difficult, but this was also honest and insightful without being too "woe is me". I've never had the experience of being an addict, but this book makes me feel like I have, but you know, in a good way...

Rules by Cynthia Lord (200 pgs.)

The story of a "normal" 12 year old girl and the challenges she faces having an autistic younger brother.  She learns to face how she acts to protect her brother... and finds maybe sometimes she's really protecting herself.

The titles comes from helping her brother learn how to function "normally" by giving him rules to follow, which is something he can relate to.  My favourite one is "no toys in the fishtank".

Flow by Elissa Stein and Susan Kim (270 pgs.)

I found this an interesting read from the cultural history standpoint, but I'm afraid I don't have much of the feminine anger over the treatment of menstruating women that the authors were assuming or hoping for.  I'm also not ashamed or embarrassed.  I have done my best to make sure my daughter also considers her period nothing more or less than a normal part of being a female. 

I found some of the authors' arguments against medical treatments to be sort of one-sided, but that may be because I fall outside of what is considered the "norm".  (I was often fitting in with the mentions of "some women experience...")

Nonetheless, interesting and, perhaps, empowering if that is something that you need.

Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick (518 pages)

Shadows is the second installment in the Ashes trilogy, and surprisingly, it was pretty much as good as the first book.  Rarely does that happen, but Shadows kept me up reading til the middle of the night on a few occasions.  Like Ashes, this one ended with a crazy cliffhanger that left me seriously ticked off. I need the next book, now.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Infects by Sean Beaudoin, 346 pages

Yes, I've read another zombie novel. I have become more particular in which ones I read, however. These days there are so many available, and not all are what I'd call quality works, or even entertaining. "The Infects" is one about which I feel ambivalent, but ultimately I'd give it a thumbs up, though not an enthusiastic one. The title and cover illustration immediately attracted me. The plot centers around Nick, a teenager who commits an act of vandalism in his workplace, a chicken processing plant, and is sent to an Outward Bound-type program for juvenile offenders. He's barely on his way with the group when things start to go horribly awry -- as in people freaking out and eating other people going awry. From that point on, it's a fight for survival for Nick and the other group members. The plot itself seemed familiar to me (think "Holes" meets "Devil's Wake"), and until I got used to it and the action kicked in, I was ready to dismiss the author's writing style as "self-conscious hipster." But it grew on me, and I stuck with the book. I enjoyed the twisted sense of humor throughout "The Infects," as well as the theme of subversion running throughout. Fight authority. Speak up. It's okay to be different, it's okay to dress or talk or act differently from the flock. I figured out the cause of the zombie epidemic pretty early on, so there were no surprises there. Even so, I loved the ending, as well as all the gore leading up to it. Let's just say that while reading "The Infects," I was especially happy to be a vegetarian.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (205 pages)

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Okay.  I've made myself some hot tea*, I looked at some cute animal pictures that made me lol (this one and this one to be specific) and I've spent a few minutes taking up space...**  I think I'm ready to write this review and I think I can do it without crying.

Conor's mother is battling Cancer.  The battle is an ugly one, as they always are, and Conor is understandably having a hard time.  He is plagued by a nightmare.  The Nightmare.  So when the monster comes, it's not the one he was expecting--the one from The Nightmare.  This monster takes the form of a Yew tree and comes on various nights to tell Conor three stories.  In return, Conor must tell a 4th.  The 4th story, Conor's story, will be Conor's Truth.  The truth he is unwilling to face and unwilling to admit even to himself.

Patrick Ness is a gifted, gifted writer.  His previous works, the Chaos Walking Trilogy, is a series that was gut-wrenching, but so good that I couldn't not read it.  A Monster Calls wrenches guts like no other book I've ever read.  I started crying at about page 15 and didn't really stop until well after the book was finished.  But it was a good cry.  And the book is so good.  It's so important.  Especially if you've ever felt guilt over a loss. 

I'm not sure I can ever read A Monster Calls again, but there are lines from it that I will carry with me from now on: 
"Stories are the wildest things of all. Stories chase and bite and hunt."
"Stories are wild creatures. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?"
"You do not write your life with words. You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do."
"If you speak the truth, you will be able to face whatever comes."

Sometimes the right book shows up at the right time.  I will add A Monster Calls to my home library because, for me, this was the right book at the right time.

* It's impossible to cry while drinking something hot.  Promise.

** Moments of anxiety and/or depression often manifest physically as your body folding in on itself--shoulders get tense and hunch, posture gets bad, etc.  To combat this, take up space. Stretch, hold your arms in a T formation, sit up straight with shoulders back.  Take deep breaths to expand your lungs.  It doesn't cure the anxiety or depression, but it helps.

The Doctor Wore Petticoats by Chris Enss, 125 pages

This was an interesting and entertaining look at the early women physicians of the Old West. It was kind of amazing how many of these women even started treating people before they went to medical school.

Too Late by Francine Pascal, 182 pages

Nothing like over the top teen drama to almost make you look back on your own teen years fondly.

Giant George by Dave Nasser and Lynne Barrett-Lee (225 pgs.)

This is the story of George and how he came to be (at one time) the World's Biggest Dog.  But mostly it is the story of him and his family and how a non-dog person came to love this wonderful dog who is first and foremost a family pet.

Good reading, especially for dog lovers.

Drizzle by Kathleen Van Cleve (358 pgs.)

Drizzle is a story of an 11 year old girl who has to decide for herself who she is and what she believes in and whether or not she will choose to overcome her own fears for the sake of herself, her family and their farm.

It took a little bit for me to get into the book, but it was a good story.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Wall and the Wing by Laura Ruby, 327 pages

Cari had reviewed this book months ago and I've been meaning to read it, and finally got around to it. I just didn't love it as much as Cari did, but it wasn't a bad book. Just not my favorite cup of tea.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Zombie Whisperer by Jesse Petersen, 447 pages

I'm a huge fan of Jesse Petersen's zombie books. I've had this book on my Nook but have been waiting to read it, because once it's done there's no more. But the anticipation finally got to me. This fourth book in the Dave & Sarah series was wonderful. I know there are people still planning on reading it so I won't go into plot details, but it was great.

Letters on an Elk Hunt by Elinore Stewart, 65 pages

Our book club had read a book by this author called Letters of a Woman Homesteader and I'd really enjoyed it. My husband was nice enough to track down this book for me.

The Sweet Life #1 by Francine Pascal, 105 pages

This is the first entry in a six part novella that continues Sweet Valley High after Sweet Valley Confidential.

A Lady's Point of View by Jacqueline Diamond, 134 pages

This was a fun regency romance e-book.

Lady in Disguise by Jacqueline Diamond, 126 pages

This was a Night Owl review e-book. It reminded me a lot of Georgette Heyer.

Shambling with the Stars by Jesse Petersen, 33 pages

This was a short story e-book by one of my favorite zombie authors. It looked at the very beginning outbreak of the zombie plague and how it would have maybe hit LA. As always, a lot of fun to read.

Old Testament -- 800 pages?

Made up of 39 individual books, (that Danya will only count as one....  :-) ) I used an audio version to listen to the Old Testament from start to finish.  I'm guessing at the number of pages, since I used an audio version.  I checked several print versions we have in the library; and the page count runs from 700+ - 1400+.  So I kinda of averaged.

Telling the beginning of the story of God's saga with man, the Old Testament can read like a racy novel at times.  It tells the story of people, warts and all.  It tells of God's desire to have people follow him.  The Old Testament points to the coming of Jesus through its prophecies.

I used a dramatized audio version which made it interesting.  It was the direct text of the NKJV, but used actors for voices and used music and sound effects.

Born on a blue day : inside the extraordinary mind of an autistic savant : a memoir by Daniel Tammet -- 226 pages

This is an autobiography of a high functioning man with Aspberger's syndrome who is also considered a savant.  With Asperger's Syndrome becoming more well-known and diagnosed, it was interesting the read the account of one who lives with it.  Temmet is able to articulate how and what he was feeling and thinking on the inside while growing up. 

It was a fairly interesting book, but one without a conclusion.  He basically finished one account of his life and said, "Ok that's it.  This is the end of the book."  Not in those exact words, but it was a jarring and abrupt end to the book.

Reached by Ally Condie -- 512 pages

This is the third and final book of the Matched trilogy -- another YA dystopian fiction series.  The story-line was initially interesting, but this series should have ended about 500 pages sooner than it did.  I finished it with grit and determination -- mainly to see who ended up with whom at the end.  You might enjoy it -- I just wish it had been condensed into one long book.....

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory (120 pages)

Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory
Tony Chu is a by-the-books detective.  He is also a cibopathic--he has a psychic sort of connection to the things he eats.  If he eats fruit, he gets an idea of where the fruit was grown, when it was harvested, what pesticides were used on the plant, etc.  If he eats meat... it's not as pleasant.

When Tony uses his cibopathic talents to get the names of the victims of a serial killer, he is transferred to the Special Crimes Division of the FDA (yep, that FDA), gets a new partner, and has to eat a lot of really disgusting stuff in the name of justice.

Chew is good.  It's gross, but it's really good.  It is certainly not for the faint of heart (cannibalism in graphic novel form is never pretty), but a detective story in a world where the government has outlawed all poultry products because of the bird flu (did I mention that?) and the controversies inspired by the new laws is fascinating.  Add to that cibopathic characters and characters who can write about food so vividly that you taste it (saboscrivners) and I'm way in.

The bloodgutsandgore of this title make it for mature readers.

Revival vol 1: You're Among Friends by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton (124 pages)

Revival by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton
This is not your typical zombie story.  Yes, people are coming back to life, but they aren't the mindless, brain-craving creatures we think of when we think of the reanimated dead.  Instead, these people are simply themselves... for the most part.  And the reanimation, or revival, is limited to a single day and a specific geological area.  It's all very mysterious and weird.

Officer Dana Cypress (daughter of the Police Chief) is the head (and only member) of a new revival task-force (The Revitalized Citizen Arbitration Team) who must deal with the representatives from the CDC, religious groups, and any and every thing that has a connection to a reviver.  She's got a lot to deal with.

Revival is good stuff.  In addition to being a police procedural and the story of an overworked single mother who is trying to juggle her priorities, Revival also explores the question of what you do when someone you have mourned and let go of suddenly returns to their old life.  Oh, and there's a weird ghost thingy that might not be a ghost... but looks like a ghost... but...

This is definitely an adult title with adult situations and themes (drinking, serious making out, swears, blood guts and gore, etc), but teens who can handle The Walking Dead series should find an interesting contrast in Revival.

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (164 pgs)

Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
I really liked Brian K. Vaughan's Y the Last Man series, so I knew I had to read Saga. I was not disappointed.

Marko and Alana are soldiers on opposing sides of a long-lasting war that has touched every world.  Marko and Alana's love is forbidden, for obvious reasons, but their child (who is delivered in the opening pages of the book and narrates the broader story), is sought by both sides of the conflict.  Marko and Alana must outrun and outwit both fellow soldiers and bounty hunters who are charged with killing the lovers and taking their child.

One such bounty hunter, The Will, is a complex and dark character whose story is only tangentially related to the lovers' in this volume.  I am very excited to see how things develop in volume 2 (due out in July)!

Some graphically depicted sexy-times makes this a title for mature readers.

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (581 pgs)

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
I will limit my summary so as to not spoil too much.  Matthew and Diana travel back in time to 1590.  There, they (eventually) find a witch to help Diana learn about her powers, discover some really interesting things about Ashmole 782, and meet a whole bunch of fascinating (and sometimes real) people.  Like A Discovery of Witches, I both read and listened to Shadow of Night (one format was not fast enough).  I recommend both formats. 

This is book two of the All Souls Trilogy.  Reading book one, A Discovery of Witches is a little like being in the beginning of a relationship--new, full of discovery and adventure, and exciting to the point you think your heart might swell to bursting.  Shadow of Night is like the second phase of the relationship where some of the newness, adventure, and excitement wear off and things slow down.  There are still places when you're so excited you think you might burst, but those times are fewer and farther apart. 

In this phase of a relationship, you discover if the relationship has the stuff to last.  I think my relationship with the All Souls Trilogy has the stuff to last, but that may also depend on when book 3 comes out.  Book 2 will sustain me for a while, but I know I will explore relationships with other books and series between now and the time book 3 comes out... I just hope these explorations don't make me forget about the special, exciting times I've had with Diana and Matthew.

I still think this series has some appeal to a teen audience who likes very detailed historical fiction mixed in with their well done paranormal romance, but the sexy-times in book two are ramped up enough to warrant a mention.  They're married sexy-times, if that makes a difference to people (as I know it did with Breaking Dawn), but they are still very much sexy-times.