Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cruise Control by Francine Pascal, 179 pages

Jessica is sad again, the drama never ends.

It Takes Two by Francine Pascal, 181 pages

It's hard to believe that I'm almost at the end of this series. Still some light fluffy reads.

The Kadin by Bertrice Small, 441 pages

While rearranging some bookshelves I came across some old favorites. This is a historical romance that travels between Scotland and Turkey in the late 1400s and takes place mostly in a harem. Sometimes there is nothing better than an old
fashioned bodice ripper.

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis -- 223 pgs

Another of the Chronicles of Narnia.

Prince Caspian flees from his uncle, the "king" of Narnia when a son is born to the evil king.  Caspian is the true king of Narnia after his uncle murdered his father, but his evil uncle has the throne and will kill Caspian to insure the throne for the new child.

Caspian manages to summon Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmund from our world to help.  Battles ensue, the kingdom is saved.

As in my previous review, I love the Chronicles and I love Lewis' allegorical writing.

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis -- 224 pgs

I'm revisiting all the Chronicles of Narnia.  I haven't actually *read* them since high school, although when my kids were small they had the movies.

The Horse and His Boy tells the tale of how Shasta, an boy abused by his fisherman "father" goes on an adventure to save the kingdom from invading barbarians.

He meets and deals with all kinds of situations before he is able to accomplish his task.  Along the way he meets the High King Peter as well as Lucy, Susan, Edmund, and of course, Aslan.

We find out his true father as well.

I have always loved the chronicles and it was a delight to revisit this book.

Princess and the Peer by by Tracy Anne Warren -- 533 pgs

Emma is a princess unwillingly engaged to an older king to insure the safety of her brother's kingdom.  She is resigned to do this, but runs away to London in hopes of a week of fun before her "imprisonment" into a marriage she does not desire.

She is robbed in London and rescues by the handsome former navel captain, Nick.  You can guess the rest of the story from here.  It's pretty formulaic.  I'm not really glad I spend as much time on this book as I did.....

Monday, April 29, 2013

Unshelved: Large Print by Gene Ambaum & Bill Barnes, 127 pages

Last Unshelved book so far, sad, sad.

Unshelved: Frequently Asked Questions by Bill Barnes & Gene Ambaum, 135 pages

These strips are even funnier the 3rd or 4th time reading them.

Touch and Go by Francine Pascal, 178 pages

It's kind of nice to see Melissa get hers in this book, but I'm kind of sick of Alana and Conner. But only 6 more in this series.

The Seven-Percent Solution by Nicholas Meyer, 224 pages

I was moving some books around on my bookcases and came across this old favorite that I had to re-read. Sherlock Holmes' cocaine addiction has gotten to the point where it will kill him before much longer, and Watson is desperate to help him. The only man in Europe who may be able to help him is Sigmund Freud, but the issue is getting Holmes there. This is an outstanding book and a must read for any Sherlock fans.

The West End Horror by Nicholas Meyer, 192 pages

I'm a big fan of Sherlock Holmes and this is a "lost" manuscript showcasing a never before published case. A killer is stalking the theater world in 1895 and this case comes closer to being the end of Sherlock and Watson than any other. This one also featured Oscar Wilde, Bernard Shaw, Bram Stoker and other literary icons. I've read this a few times and always enjoy it.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Unshelved: Library Mascot Cage Match by Bill Barnes & Gene Ambaum, 120 pages

Unshelved just totally rules. That's all I'm going to say.

Unshelved: Read Responsibly by Bill Barnes & Gene Ambaum, 135 pages

It's wonderful reading these books after meeting Gene and Bill in person.

Lenore: Noogies by Roman Dirge, 108 pages

This is a collection featuring the first 4 issues of Lenore.

The Dance by Dan Walsh & Gary Smalley (325 pgs.)

I picked up this book as a bit of a "palate cleanser" between some of the heavier books that I have been reading.  "Inspirational" books tend to be light, which this mostly was, though it did have a fair story to it.  It wasn't just fluff. 

I also think that many folks who have been in relationships for a long time -- even good ones -- will find some food for thought on dealing with challenges that are inevitable.

Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde (416 pgs.)

This is the fourth book in the incredibly fascinating and fun Thursday Next series.  Mind-bending and must continue through the series.

Can't Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg (375 pgs.)

This was simply one of the most delightful books that I have read for some time.  I can usually get "into" a book, but rarely have I so desperately wanted the characters to be real.  I wish that Elner Shimfissle was my next door neighbour.

Having read "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe", I wanted to read another by Fannie Flagg.  I chose this one because it is set in a small town in Missouri.  The characters are real and lovable and frustrating and relateable and it was just a really enjoyable read.

Pretties by Scott Westerfield (370 pgs.)

This is book 2 in a series.

Tally has become a Pretty, but will she remember why?  In a place and time where the population is controlled by being pretty faced AND pretty minded, what will happen?

Continues to be an excellent series and can't wait to read book 3.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Terrible Axe-Man of New Orleans, by Rick Geary, 80 pages

While I love the penny-dreadful title, "The Terrible Axe-Man of New Orleans" is not among my favorite of Rick Geary's explorations of famous murder cases in graphic novel form. Like his other books, it's well illustrated and clearly told, but it just didn't grab me. Around the end of World War I, a series of brutal axe murders and assaults occurred in New Orleans. During the course of two years, six people were killed and another six badly wounded. The attacks seemed to be related: victims were usually Italian immigrants who ran and lived behind grocery stores; door panels had been carefully removed to allow entry to the home; and the weapon of choice was an axe found in the victim's home. There were suspects, but no one ever faced trial or was determined to be the culprit. In the end, the axe crimes remain unsolved to this day.

The Beast of Chicago, by Rick Geary, 80 pages

Thanks to Jason Sullivan's ILL prowess, I'm working my way through writer and illustrator Rick Geary's body of work. Heh, heh. "Body" is an appropriate word, considering he pens two series called "A Treasury of Victorian Murder" and "A Treasury of XXth Century Murder." If you've read Erik Larson's remarkable and horrifying "Murder in the White City," you know the story of "The Beast of Chicago." During the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, a time of great excitement and progress, a darkness fed on the people who visited the fair. Pharmacist H. H. Holmes, considered by many to be the world's first modern serial killer, set up an efficient trap in the form of a rooming house that hid chutes for dead bodies, gas chambers, a furnace turned crematorium, and surgical rooms. In the end, he is thought to have killed up to 200 people, many of them women, before his arrest, trial and execution. Creepy stuff, and Geary covers it adequately. If you want more details, I suggest picking up Larson's book, but I thought the illustrations in Geary's book of the house were superb and had great visual impact.

The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook, by Melissa Costello, 241 pages

Cookbooks are one of my favorite things. Not only am I constantly checking them out of the library, but I have an entire bookcase at home filled with them, despite an annual weeding. I'll read almost any cookbook, but the ones with meatless recipes appeal the most because I've been a vegetarian for nearly 20 years. I'm lacto-ovo, meaning I eat dairy and eggs. I've tried to be vegan but never last more than a few weeks; there's just too much good cheese out there! But after reading "The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook," I might seriously reconsider. Many vegan cookbooks feature dishes that seem impossibly bland or unappealing, or are made with difficult to acquire ingredients. However, that's not the case with "Karma Chow." The recipes feature excellent instructions and ingredients that you can mostly find in local specialty or regular grocery stores. Last weekend I made an amazing Veggie Loaf with Tomato Glaze. I have tried for years to convert my mom's meatloaf to a meatless version, and this recipe is as close as I've come. It features French lentils as the protein, as well as brown rice, numerous vegetables, and seasonings. I made a couple substitutions -- regular eggs for flax seed eggs, zucchini for celery, regular breadcrumbs instead of gluten free -- and added toasted walnuts and tomato sauce. It. Was. Delicious. Savory and filling, with a texture meaty enough to satisfy but not enough to gross out a vegetarian. And there was so much of it that I shared leftovers with a friend, who, upon receiving them, squealed with delight, then tore off the container's lid, grabbed a fork out of her desk drawer, and dug right in, eating it cold. Guess she liked it, huh? I've already flagged other recipes to try very soon: Thai-Style Tempeh Lettuce Wraps, the Vegan Caesar Salad, Karma Burgers, and Creamy Tahini Kale. It all sounds sooo yummy.

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger, 307 pages

Gail Carriger is the author of the Parasol Protectorate series, and this book in the first in a teen series set in the same world. Sophronia is 14-years-old and the despair of her family due to her interest in mechanical things, her penchant for climbing and her inability to curtsey. So, they ship her off to finishing school but within hours, Sophronia discovers that Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality isn't your normal finishing school. Instead of being taught to be proper young ladies of society, they also seem to be learning skills better suited to spies and assassins. Sophronia quickly finds herself involved in an intrigue that could be more than she could handle.
This was a really fun book, and a great read. I love Gail Carriger's books and was really sad when the Parasol Protectorate series ended. At least this way I get some more of that universe, and set with some really hilarious characters.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Encounters of Sherlock Holmes edited by George Mann, 352 pages

This was a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories with a steampunk twist. The one featuring Mrs. Hudson as the true brains behind solving the crime was my favorite.

Lenore: Swirlies by Roman Dirge, 108 pages

My whole family is a fan of Lenore, the cutest little dead girl ever. Roman Dirge writes the creepiest stuff ever that is hilariously odd. This was one we didn't own in our own personal collection. One of the great things about this collection is it explored how Lenore came to be. It also features the best birthday party EVER.

What Do You Mean, I Still Don't Have Equal Rights? by Cathy Guisewite, 124 pages

I knew Cathy had been around for a while but I didn't realize she dated from the late 70s. It was really interesting to read this early collection and see Cathy's beginnings.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Storyteller by Jodi Piccoult -- 460 pages

All I have to say is, "WOW".  Jodi Piccoult is what the title of this book says -- an incredible storyteller.  

This book intertwines the stories of multiple people along with a story in a story.  Each person whose story is being told has their secrets and their secrets are sometimes on a collision course.  The book deals with good and bad and forgiveness and humanity.

Josef Weber meets Sage at a grief support group.  They become friends.  Josef is a 95 year old beloved community member; Sage is a 20-something virtual recluse.  They become friends and one day Josef asks Sage to help him die. 

The questions begin.  The stories begin.  I wasn't ready for it to end when it did.  This has been the first book I've read for a long time that I didn't want to put down.  Well, actually, quit listening to.  The audio version uses different voice actors for different characters, but while each character was doing his/her narration there were times they used other voices for characters in their narration.  All the narrators were great.

This is a thought provoking book.  The storytelling is so good and on-point you almost think that one of the main "stories" is autobiographical.  Two thumbs up.  I'd give it more thumbs, but that's all I have.

Mystic City by Theo Lawrence, 416 pages

---Confession: I listened to this title on audiobook so all the names of places and people are spelled the way they would be if I would have written the book. I apologize :)---

Much of a futuristic Manhattan, New York is under water after Global Warming and other factors caused the island to be nearly consumed by the river and sea. Therefore, what remains is divided into two sections; The Aeries:the above-ground world where the wealthy reside in their high-rises, and The Depths:stinking water-logged areas and tunnels where reside the poor, homeless, downtrodden, and banished Mystics (a band of magical people). Mystics are forced to be drained of their magical powers and the resulting energy is then used to power the city and also to make an illegal drug called "stick".

Aria Rose has just awakened to the knowledge that she has overdosed on stick and it has erased some of her most important memories. She is informed that she carried on a secret romance with the son her rich and powerful family's hated enemy, the Fosters; and that once it became known, their love forged a political alliance and personal truce between the families. Aria does not remember ever even meeting Thomas Foster, much less falling in love with him. The secrets of Aria's past slowly unravel with help from a gorgeous unregistered, mystic-rebel dude, and details of the truth may just shatter the perfect, shiny life that her parents took such great measures to create.

I really liked this book and can't really explain why. It is pretty typical of most teen books I have read lately but this one really grabbed me and I couldn't stop listening to it. We only have the playaway format of this book but I would really recommend it. Hopefully I'll be able to get #2 of the series somewhere, ILL?

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (310 pages or 7 discs)

From Amazon:  "One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, Will Grayson crosses paths with . . . Will Grayson. Two teens with the same name, running in two very different circles, suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, and culminating in epic turns-of-heart and the most fabulous musical ever to grace the high school stage."

This book is written in alternating viewpoints -- John Green wrote one Will Grayson's chapters, and David Levithan wrote the other Will Grayson's chapters. (I just gotta say, I love John Green's writing so much.  I would read the back of a cereal box if I knew he wrote it.)  Anyways, I liked this book but it wasn't like OMG-this-is-so-good-read-it-now!!! kind of good.  I gotta say I did love Tiny Cooper though, one of the Will Graysons' best friend, who is described in the book as "the world's largest person who is really, really gay."  He's pretty funny and very fabulous :)

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (432 pages)

I expected to love this book, but I was really disappointed.  I think the main problem I had was that I didn't like any of the characters.  I didn't care if Amy (the wife in the story) was gone.  I didn't care if Nick (her husband) had killed her.  I just wanted this predictable, depressing ride of a story to end as soon as possible.  I probably would have stopped reading if my book club was not going to discuss it next week.  At least, I'll probably have an opposing viewpoint to share, because from what I can gather, most everyone else on the planet loves this book.

Queue Tips: Discovering Your Next Great Movie (168 pages)

I wish there had been more about recent movies in this ALA publication.  Many titles were from very early on--like the 1950's.  I know there are great movies from that era, I just wanted something a little more recent, even the 80's and 90's would have been good.  The "Reasons to Love Nicholas Cage" chapter was about as current as it got.

Fix It & Freeze It & Heat It & Eat It (320 pages)

A Southern Living cookbook detailing make head meals.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Asperger's on the Job (156 pages).

By Rudy Simone.

Quick resource for anyone with AS or working with someone with AS (which is most of you, as I was recently diagnosed).

To sum up: we're weird and we may not understand things the way that you do, but we work really hard if you let us do what we're good at doing. Oh, and whenever possible, written instructions work better than verbal.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sin With a Scoundrel by Sara Bennett, 375 pages

Another historical romance set to me by Night Owl Reviews. It was so-so.

The Foreign Student by Susan Choi, 325 pages

The April book for Readers Without Borders Book Club. I'm not sure how much of me not feeling real excited about this book is from my heavy cold and how much is from the book itself. Wasn't a horrible read, it just didn't grab me.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What Would Dewey Do? by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum, 127 pages

These are always a delight.

Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum, 127 pages

Since I bought the Unshelved books at their recent appearance at the library, I'm working my way back through them again.

He's Back by Francine Pascal, 177 pages

Another notch on my Sweet Valley High Senior Year tally.

World War II: The War at Home by Stuart Kallen, 111 pages

Sammi needed some nonfiction books about the Holocaust and WWII for a school project so I took her to the library to get some. She left them in the van and while running some errands yesterday I had 30 or so minutes in the van with nothing to do, so I picked one to kill some time. This was actually really interesting and I learned some new facts about WWII. I had never realized that Japan released bomb balloons, they floated to America, and while most were a bust, one actually went off and killed an American woman and her 5 kids. The news about the bombs wasn't released during the war so Japan wouldn't know they were effective and the American people wouldn't be demoralized. I may actually look at the other books Sammi picked up in this series to see what other facts I didn't know about WWII.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The $64 Tomat: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crises in the Quest for the Perfect Gardeno by William Alexander, 265 pages

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, almost as much as I enjoy eating fresh-from-the-garden heirloom tomatoes! The author voices his personal joys, hopes, and frustrations of his "dream garden." Anyone who has ever tried their green thumb at horticulture can relate to, or at least sympathize with his plight. My garden is a little more humble in origin, and probably a lot more wild, but I could empathize with many of his stories. This book was hilariously written and well worth the read.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Requiem by Lauren Oliver (432 pages)

The third and final book in the Delirium series.  Lauren Oliver is a pro!  She did a great job wrapping this series up and I really enjoyed all three books.

Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan, 347 pages

This was a hilarious zombie book with the twist that animals become zombies. Well worth the read.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Arsenic and Old Puzzles by Parnell Hall, 308 pages

Another fun mystery featuring puzzles.

Spies of Mississippi by Rick Bowers (120 pgs)

Spies of Mississippi by Rick Bowers
In the height of the Civil Rights Movement, a secret network of government funded spies was at work in Mississippi. They targeted NAACP meetings and members, convinced neighbors to spy and inform on neighbors, and generally terrorized anyone trying to push the Civil Rights Movement through Mississippi.

This is a well written account of a very scary time. Bowers, a former journalist, takes a very journalistic approach to the topic and explains things in great detail without overwhelming readers. Each chapter is short, easily accessible, and thorough. While Spies of Mississippi doesn't read like a novel, it certainly doesn't read like a text book.

I also listened to the Spies of Mississippi. It's a well produced audiobook, but isn't one that kept my attention very well. The narration is similar to the unobtrusive narration of a good documentary, but the audiobook doesn't have the benefit of a documentary's visual appeal to keep my focus and interest. However, I think my problem with this audiobook is a product of my reading style and audiobook preferences and would not affect readers who like this type of narration.

Rust: Visitor in the Field by Royden Lepp (192 pgs)

Rust by Royden Lepp
In the last World War, humans built robots to do most of the fighting. These robots came in regular human size and giant size and were programmed with enough intelligence and agility to use tools and win the war. Now that the war is over, robots are mostly sold by wreckers to be repaired and reprogrammed for other uses. Roman Taylor is trying to do just that--repair and reprogram an old fighting machine into a farming machine in order to save his family's farm. For the time being, he has some help--his younger brother Oz and the mysterious boy Jet Jones who literally crashes into the Taylor's barn--but his obsession with how this robot can help may keep him from seeing the sinister signs all around him.
Not many answers are revealed in this first volume, but Lepp's masterful storytelling gives us some very intriguing questions. I already have the next volume on order for my personal collection.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Zits: Chillax by Jerry Scott & Jim Borgman, 85 pages

I'm a big fan of the Zits comic strip (many times we're positive the creators must be our house) so I was intrigued to see this new offering, which is a book with drawings interspliced. It was funny and touching, and a great read.

Life Below Stairs by Alison Maloney, 192 pages

I love anything about the Regency through Edwardian time periods in England, so this was a must read for me. It was interesting and a fast read, with short chapters subdivided in easy to read subsections, but all in all, the book was almost too light and fluffy. There are much better books out covering this topic.

Never Give Up by Francine Pascal, 183 pages

I keep getting closer and closer to the end of Sweet Valley High Senior Year.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Beauty Myth (348 pages).

By Naomi Wolf.

This book has changed the way I think about myself. I no longer feel guilty when eating ice cream. I no longer feel animosity towards women I deem "prettier than me" in my soo not objective mind. It taught me that I don't have to be pretty. I don't have to care if I am pretty. I don't have to put up with people telling me whether or not I'm beautiful because my appearance is my business, however I wish to conduct it.

The text is dense and kind of difficult to slog through (y'all know it doesn't usually take me three weeks to read a book!) but it is worth its weight in gold, let me tell ya, and very quotable. Read it if you want to subvert beauty forever! Sooo worth it.

Driving the Saudis by Jayne Amelia Larson, 208 pages

This was an interesting behind the scenes look at being a temporary driver for the Saudi royal family on one of their trips to California. The mind-boggling amount of money that they spend is unbelievable. This was an fast read, and kept me entertained.

Vanished by Irene Hannon 328 pgs

I just finished a book by an author I hadn’t read before, but found I really liked. Irene Hannon (a Missouri author) is an award-winning author specializing in romantic and suspense novels. (I’ve told you I like to read “brain candy” when I’m on my own time.)

She writes what is considered “Christian” or “inspirational” fiction. Today’s inspirational fiction differs from that of the past. In Hannon’s words, her “books aren’t preachy. The faith content is subtle and reflected more in characters’ actions than in words. I prefer to show characters living their faith rather than talking about it.”

“Vanished” by Irene Hannon features Moira, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated investigative journalist. Moira is lost, at night, on an isolated, rain-slickened road when a woman frantically waving runs out in the road right in front of her car. She slams on her brakes and fishtails, but it is too late. The last image she sees before she feels a solid thump on the side of the car is that of the woman with glazed, terror-filled eyes.

Moira careens across the road, crashing into a tree. From nowhere, a man appears, promising to call 911 and to help the person she hit. After losing consciousness and finally coming to, she gets out of the car and realizes the man has not called 911. There also is no body and no man; there is only the image of the woman’s terror-filled eyes burned in her memory.

Even though she calls the police and the deputy can’t find any evidence of her hitting a woman, she can’t let go of the memory. The authorities believe she only hit a deer and that she sustained a concussion. They are of no help.

She decides she cannot leave this alone; the woman’s terrified eyes and her own journalistic instincts will not allow it. So, she takes steps to solve the mystery. Enter a handsome P.I. That’s all I’ll tell you. No spoilers here.

Moira does a couple of things that remind me of the TV shows where the background music is ominously bum-bum-bumming in the background. It’s dark and storming. The heroine is obviously about to do something really stupid and dangerous. You are thinking, “You idiot!! Don’t (you fill in the blank)!” But she does anyway, and the results make you want to jump out of your skin.

The characters here are well-developed. I like it when I can understand what motivates both the good guys and the bad guys. Also, this title had one of the most important qualities for my brain-candy reading: a satisfying conclusion.

This is the first title of Hannon’s new series, “A Private Justice.” I intend to go back and pick up titles from her others, “Guardians of Justice” and “Heroes of Quantico.” Hannon writes in such a way that each book in a series can also be read as a stand-alone.

Joplin Public Library carries Hannon’s titles in print, on CDs, and as downloadable e-books.