Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Son of A Witch, by Gregory Maguire, 768 pages

The sequel to Wicked. I loved it. Gregory Maguire has a way with language that is just absolutely enrapturing.

Too Much Information: An Unshelved Collection, by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes, 127 pages

Hilarious library comic that I bought directly from Gene & Bill when they visited JPL. What's not to love about Unshelved?

Glass, by Ellen Hopkins, 681 pages

The sequel to Crank, this continues the tale of a high school girl's walk with "The Monster" a.k.a methamphetamine. Written in poem form, the story reads quickly. The only thing I didn't like about it was that sometimes it came across as preachy: the author based it on her own experience with her "once-perfect" daughter and tries to show how drugs alone seemed to ruin her life. Still, I liked it overall.

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King by William Joyce & Laura Geringer, 228 pages

This is the first book in the Guardians series that the holiday movie, Rise of the Guardians is based on. While it's different from the movie, it's still a good childrens' read.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick, 327 pages

This was a wonderful fairy tale for the modern age, a version of Catskin updated to our tabloid reading, gossip hungry, beauty worshipping society. Becky travels to New York after her mother dies. She is offered the chance at impossible beauty, but she must find love and marry in one year. As Rebecca, she turns heads, and finds herself within reach of all she ever dreamed of, including marriage to a handsome young prince. But, as heroines so often find out, not all fairy tales end with a "happily ever after".
This book was wickedly funny, sweet and touching, and ended perfectly. I will eagerly be looking for more books by this author.

Hunting for Hidden Gold by Franklin Dixon, 177 pages

Book 5 of the Hardy Boys. I'm working my way through some of the early books in the series.

Elemental by Antony John (326 pgs)

In Thomas's village, everyone has the power of an element and can influence, sense, and sometimes wield fire, water, earth or wind. Everyone except Thom, that is. Because he lacks this great power, he feels like he has nothing to contribute to his community and the village Guardians do little to dissuade him of this notion.

When a storm approaches that the Guardians didn't sense, the villagers scramble to prepare. The last thing the Guardians do is send all 7 young people and elderly Guardian Lora to the storm shelter on nearby Roanoke Island. Once there, the children and teens settle in to wait out the storm knowing that in the morning, the Guardians will come to tell them it's safe to go home.

The storm passes and morning comes, but Guardians never do. By the time Thom and the others reach their village the next day, everyone is gone and the village is burning down. Thom spots a ship in the distance that's sailing away from the island. As soon as he tells the others, they realize that the ship belongs to pirates and is turning back toward the island presumably to collect the villagers they missed.

Now the teens must survive on their own and be smart enough to evade pirate capture.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, 278 pages

This was the October book club book and it was a delight to read. WWII is over and English writer Juliet Ashton is unsure about what her next book is to be. A random letter from someone who picked up a book she once owned starts a correspondence between Juliet and an island full of reader and characters. This is one of the sweetest books I've read in a long time, and I actually cried a little at the end because it was such a perfect ending.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate Dicamillo (240 pages)

"Holy unanticipated occurrences!" The squirrel never saw the vacuum coming, but thankfully, Flora Bella is there for the rescue.  The squirrel is reborn anew as Ulysses and now has superpowers--flying, writing poetry and best of all, the power to turn cynical Flora into a believer.  Don't miss this fun tale of a rodent superhero!

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Walking Dead, The Fall of the Governor by Robert Kirkman & Ja7 Bonansinga, 245 pages

A book covering the Walking Dead, kind of a mishmash of the graphic novel and the tv show. Extremely dark, especially the end. Not a feel good sort of book.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Haunted Graveyards of the Ozarks by David Harkins, 126 pages

This dealt very little with ghosts but was more of a nonfiction look at some interesting and little known graveyards in the surrounding area, and the interesting characters buried in them. I really enjoyed this book because I like nonfiction, especially when it's tinged with a little bit of the paranormal. While I don't plan on hanging out in these places after dark, it's fun to read about them, especially this close to Halloween. What made this book even more enjoyable was getting to hear the author talk at the library earlier in the month.

Stone Soup, the Comic Strip by Jan Eliot, 189 pages

The first comic collection featuring the early strips. This family is hilarious.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Gift of Dragons by Anne McCaffrey (291 pgs.)

This is a collection of 4 short stories -- 3 of them are backstories on beloved characters from the Pern series and 1 is a brand new story. 

How I missed that JPL had this book, I do not know, but I was thrilled when I found it.  I have been a fan of Anne and her Pern for decades.  I would only recommend this particular book to someone familiar with the Pern series.

Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison (295 pgs.)

This was a re-read for me for a bookclub.  (It had been several years and I wanted it to be fresh.) 

John's story is fascinating.  He grew up in very difficult circumstances (for extra details on his crazy parents, read books by his brother, Augusten Burroughs) as an undiagnosed Aspergian.  There was no such diagnosis when he was growing up and autism wasn't recognized as a "spectrum".  You were either Rainman or you were just weird and uncooperative.

John tells his life story from his perspective that let's others see what might be going on in an Aspergian mind.  He also tells us what it was like to receive a diagnosis as man and how that affected him.

I have no problem saying that this book is a must read for anyone who may find themselves working with or for an Aspergian.  I would put it high on the "required" list for teachers.

Goth Girl Rising by Barry Lyga (390 pgs.)

This book is a sort of sequel to "Fanboy and Gothgirl" (yes, I shortened the title).  It takes place about 6 months later, but, this time is told from "goth girl's" perspective.

Kyra is a fascinating and fantastically maddening person.  I have no trouble AT ALL believing that she is real.  There were times that I was in tears with/for her and times when I wanted to reach into the pages and shake some sense into her. 

That a grown man can write such an amazingly realistic teenage girl only confirms AGAIN what amazing talent Barry Lyga has.

All the Dave Barry You Could Ever Want by Dave Barry (370 pgs.)

This is a 4-in-1 book that includes "Dave Barry's Guide to Marriage and/or Sex", "Dave Barry's Babies and Other Hazards of Sex", "Dave Barry's The Taming of the Screw", and "Dave Barry's Claw Your Way to the Top".

Dave Barry is one of my favourite humourists.  I have made friends with folks via internet and then meeting in person simply because of having this one starting point in common.  Okay, maybe calling us a cult is a bit harsh, but we may be a bit more rabid than the average fan...

Anyhow, Dave's stuff is funny stuff.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

No So Picture Perfect by Jan Eliot, 317 pages

This collection has Val starting a book club that features the women of different comic strips, Joan and Wally adjusting to being married, and the girls being just as bickery and argumentative as ever. One of the funniest strips out there.

Road Kill in the Closet by Jan Eliot, 190 pages

This Stone Soup collection has Wally the next door neighbor wooing Val's sister Joan, and ends with their wedding. These strips are hilarious, and as the mother of two daughters, I really relate to the strip.

Stone Soup by Jan Eliot, 128 pages

This is the first collection for Stone Soup, a comic my family has gotten hooked on in the newspaper. Val is a single mom after her husband died, raising two girls. Alix is 9 and Holly 13, and Val also has her mother, sister and 2-year-old nephew living with her. These comics are hilarious, and it's been really neat seeing how the characters were different in the beginning of the strip. You wouldn't believe how many different strips had myself or another family member making everyone else read it.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, 387 pages

Several have already blogged about this book so I'll just give you a quick opinion. I thought this title was BEAUTIFUL and unlike anything I have ever read. However, I find my reflections a bit bittersweet and my attitude slightly frustrated. Even though the plot jumps back and forth from at least a dozen points of view and hip hops thru time, the effect is still methodical. The mysteries are deep and revealed steadily throughout in tiny ingenious increments, never giving you the whole picture.  Even the end was left slightly shrouded in mystery and left to the viewer to interpret. But, I guess a magician never gives away their best secrets.... I liked this book a great deal, any book lover should give it a try if not only for its completely fresh but classic approach at modern storytelling.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (181 pgs)

Our unnamed main character has just delivered the eulogy at the funeral of a loved one and is aimlessly driving before the reception that follows. He finds himself driving down the lane of his childhood home and, not finding what he needs there, he continues down to the end of the lane to the Hempstock farm. There he sits by the pond that his friend Lettie Hempstock insists is an ocean and remembers the harrowing events of his childhood he had forgotten.

When our narrator was seven, the tenant in his home used the family car to commit suicide near the Hempstock pond. This suicide begins a chain of events that unleashes an Old creature who runs amok and must be stopped.

Lettie vows to protect our narrator, which proves more difficult than either of them thought it would.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Bones of the Lost by Kathy Reichs, 324 pages

Another Temperance Brennan mystery, I haven't missed one yet.

Pollyanna Grows Up by Eleanor Porter, 270 pages

This is a sequel to Pollyanna that I just recently found out about. Pollyanna has returned home after her long year away learning to walk again, but she is soon in Boston spreading her glad game as only she can. But when Dr. Chilton dies, Aunt Polly finds it almost impossible to play the game, and even Pollyanna has a hard time.
I love the book Pollyanna (and the movie) so I was excited to find out that there had actually been a sequel penned by the author. This one takes Pollyanna up to adulthood. While it was as outstanding as the first book, it's still a pretty good read.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Christmas Carol Murder by Leslie Meier, 262 pages

Christmas themed murder mystery featuring mortgage lenders Jake Marlowe and Ben Scribner in Tinker's Cove, who have been foreclosing on properties right and left, especially before Christmas. When Marlowe is killed by a mail bomb disguised as a present, Lucy Stone wonders which of their many victims was angry enough to kill...and will they strike again?
Evidently the people who live in Tinker's Cove are idiots, because no one caught the resemblance (or at least mentioned it) between Marlowe and Scribner, and Marlow and Scrooge from A Christmas Carol. That kept me from enjoying the book as much as I should have.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Good Life for Less: giving your family great meals, good times, and a happy home on a budget by Amy Ann Clark (227 pages)

I really enjoyed this book and felt like I came away with some good money savings tips and tricks to try in my household. I read a lot of books on how to live a fuller life on a small budget and often times the books are all mainly the same and meld together,  this one was different. I also enjoyed how the author had a whole section full of the recipes that she use with her family to stay on budget. They were easy to make, were affordable and sounded yummy. It was also full of great tips and ideas to save money, live on a budget and yet not feel deprived.

Peas and Thank you: Simple meatless meals the whole family will love by Sarah Matheny (255 pages)

I found some great recipes in this book! I also really enjoyed the stories she put in there regarding her families switch to not eating meat and  the stories behind some of her recipes as well.

After the Armistice Ball by Catriona McPherson, 477 pages

If you like your mysteries utterly British, this is a must read. I'm a little bit of an Anglophile when it come to my mysteries, and I found myself having to google different things that I'd never heard of. The mystery dragged just a little in one or two places, but it was still a pretty good read.
Dandy Gilver is trying to find her place in life after the end of WWI, her war work over, husband home, and the stiff upper lip that can now be relaxed. When she's asked by a fellow society matron to look into the disappearance of the Duffy diamonds, little does she expect it to lead to murder. But Dandy is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, no matter what.

What the Heart Sees by Kathleen Fuller -- 432 pages

This is a typical Amish book with three, short novellas.  Light, fluffy reading.

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa Tawn Bergren -- 418 pages

Glamorous Illusions features Cora Dial, a rancher's daughter from the wilderness of Montana.  Upon her father's second stroke, she discovers she is not who she always thought,.  Within days of learning her parentage, she is swept off upon a Grand Tour of Europe. 

Unaccepted by her biological half-siblings, she struggles to discover who and what she is and values.  This is the first book of a series.  It, of course, leaves one only semi-satisfied at the end.

It also features the type of heroine I just hate -- she's always waffling between two extremes and worries extensively over every little detail. 

It was a nice book to hear, but I rather doubt I'll go back for seconds.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Eleanor & Park (328 pages).

By Rainbow Rowell.

Cute little misfit love story with lots of '80s pop culture references. I totally dig it.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (448 pages)

This. book. was. so. good.

I listened to it, and the reader was fantastic, so that really helped a lot. But honestly, this book ranks very high in my mind compared to all of the other teen books I have read, and I've read a lot of them.

This book takes place in a fantasy world, but it has a heavy Spanish vibe, and that was very refreshing and new. There were a lot of Spanish words, names, foods, clothing, landscapes, skin coloring, etc. etc. Not to mention how incredible it was to have an overweight, food-addicted heroin!

Here's a bit about the actual plot. Elisa is the younger sister and princess in her country. The book opens on her wedding day, she is being married off to the king of a neighboring country, but it's a rushed wedding. She's never even met him, and she doesn't fit into her wedding dress. She is also the bearer of the godstone, a stone that is placed by god into the navel of god's champion once every 100 years. This person is supposed to do a great service, to rise up and conquer some mysterious, unknown evil.

Elisa has a lot of self-doubt and she eats her feelings. She is young and I love her. I'm not a religious person, but the religious themes in this book did not bother me at all, as it is a made-up religion and is not pressing anything on the reader. 

The other thing I love about this book is that even though it is a trilogy (aren't all books trilogies these days?) it has a satisfying conclusion. Also, this series has been completely published so no waiting years to read the next book! 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Against Medical Advice by James Patterson -- 298 pages

I recently traveled out west to visit the in-law side of the family and attend the wedding of a family friend.

Airline travel is no longer the luxury that it used to be. It is better than a 24-hour drive, but being crammed into seats with way too little leg and knee room (no, I don't get to travel first class) makes even short flights seem much longer than they really are.

On our flight back home, as I was wedged into the steerage section of the plane, I was prepared with my iPad, an audiobook and other mind-numbing activities to try to make the time pass. Choosing none of those, I decided to dig through the seatback pocket to see what treasure might be within.

To my surprise, I actually found one! Nestled down within the seatback pocket was a copy of "Against Medical Advice" by James Patterson and Hal Friedman.

I was intrigued because this didn't seem to be one of his usual thriller-type books. After reading the blurb just inside the cover -- "One morning É just before my fifth birthday, I woke up as a normal, healthy boy. By that afternoon, I had as irresistible urge to shake my head -- continually -- and the course of my life changed in ways few people had ever seen or could begin to understand" -- I was hooked.

Between that leg of our trip and the next (yes, I took it with me), I devoured the true story of Cory Friedman, who, with that urge to shake his head, began his journey into the hellish nightmare of life with Tourette's Syndrome, OCD and alcoholism.

Patterson and Friedman used the extensive journals kept by Cory's mother, along with the memories of both Cory and his family, to weave the tale of this horrific journey. They opted to write the book in the first person, from Cory's point of view. This made the book come alive and increased the emotional impact of the story.

The title, "Against Medical Advice," comes from an episode when Cory was checked into a psychiatric hospital for treatment of his alcohol addiction. It wasn't long into the check-in process that Cory realized he was being locked up in a place from which he saw no escape. He began to panic, ticcing more than usual.

After much debate, his father told the hospital they had changed their minds and did not wish to admit Cory. The hospital refused, saying he had already been admitted and must stay for at least 72 hours.

After a quick call to Cory's therapist, his family requested the release of their son AMA (against medical advice). When the hospital did not respond, Cory's father emphatically stated they were leaving the hospital AMA.

The journey through Cory's Tourette's and OCD takes his family and him through more than 60 different medications, a host of different doctors or therapists, treatment via a wilderness boot camp experience, dropping out of high school and an eventual re-admission to school.

However, it ends with hope. At the back of the book are actual images of pages from his mother's journal outlining Cory's symptoms and treatments, as well as lists of the various medications, vitamins and minerals he took.

The book is a fascinating and quick read, and serves as an education about a little known or understood syndrome.

Joplin Public Library has the title in both print and audiobook. Or, if you are lucky, you might find my copy. I found it "in the wild," and I plan to "release it into the wild" (i.e. leave it in a public place for someone else to read). 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Reason I Jump (176 pages).

by Naoki Higashida.

A short question and answer book wherein the questions are about autism and the answers are from a boy with autism. Originally published in Japanese. I think something was lost in translation here although I did identify with a lot of it and it is very highly reviewed among people without autism so I suspect it would be useful for anyone who wanted to understand a person (especially children) with autism.

The Beast by Faye Kellerman, 371 pages

Another mystery that was good but not outstanding, at this point I'm willing to admit it's a reading addiction but I don't plan on seeking help for it.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (387 pages)

Megan already reviewed this one so I won't say much.  Basically, I really liked it and thought that it was beautifully written.  It meanders for a little while in the beginning, but the ending was perfect!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers (400 pages)

I read Chelsey's blog about this series and decided it was worth a try. When I enjoyed the first, I moved on to the second! While it's set in the same time period, this is the story of a different character.This one was much darker (hence the title?) and had some pretty disturbing themes, but I assume it is an accurate portrayal of the time period (Game of Thrones, anyone?) I enjoyed this book perhaps more than the first, and look forward to the third.

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (576 pages)

I read Chelsey's blog about this series and decided it was worth a try. I do not regret picking up this book, aside from having to wait now for the third book to come out. I won't re-blog about it, but I will say it was enjoyable, though a tad predictable. I loved the time period, I love that there is actual history included in the storyline (so I learned something!) and the women are strong and independent.

Emily the Strange: Lost, Dark, & Bored, 142 pages

I knew Emily the Strange was extremely dark and creepy so I picked it up to give it a read. It was too odd to really suit my taste. But I can now mark this off my list of "want to read" books.

Hershey by Micahel D'Antonio, 305 pages

This was an indepth look at Mr. Hershey, the man who created American chocolate as we know it, along with a whole city based on his chocolate bar. It was a really good read, covering an extremely interesting man and business. I finished the book and really wanted a Hershey's bar.

The Missing Chums by Franklin Dixon, 175 pages

These fast reads are a childhood classic. The Hardy Boys never go out of style.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, 531 pages

While this book wasn't as creepy, page turning, or just downright scary as The Shining, it was a good solid sequel. It was interesting to see what happened to Danny Torrance when he grew up, and Stephen King did a good job of bringing it into today's time.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Murder & Mayhem in Missouri by Larry Wood, 126 pages

Larry Wood came and did a presentation at the library on his new book, so I had to pick it up myself and give it a read. It's a historical look at some of the bloody history of bad guys (and girls) in Missouri. If you like your history with an edge, this is a must read.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Brabenstein, 291 pages

Imagine winning a contest to get to spend opening night in a brand new, state of the art, library with a contest involved. Finding clues using the Dewey Decimal system, your knowledge of authors and books, and ability to solve riddles are part of the game. AWESOME!!! This book was read not only by my 11-year-old daughter, but also by my husband and myself. We all loved it and wished we could have participated. A great read for book nerds.

Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli (208 pages)

Thanks to Debbie for her recommendation of this title! 

This book is told through the eyes of a young boy during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw during WWII and it will tug at your heart.  I listened to it and despite the sad circumstances, it was excellent.  Jerry Spinelli is a master storyteller! 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen, 342 pages

This book was also a free download this summer from Sync Audio (thanks again Cari!) and I just got around to listening to it and simultaneously reading the book from our Juvenille Fiction collection.

Sage is living in an orphanage in an undefined middle age in the nation of Carthya. One day, a man named Conner purchases him from the caretaker and he is thrown onto a wagon with three other boys toward an unknown fate. It is revealed that Conner is a wealthy and prominent member of the kingdom of Carthya and has a very risky plan to convince the entire court that one of these boys is in fact the long-lost prince, so that he may claim the throne.

This, being a book written for the late grade school, early junior high crowd can be predictable at times, but is mostly really compelling. The characters were multidimensional for the most part, which is always really appreciated. I really liked it and will read the second book. This series is called the 'Ascendance Trilogy', though I don't believe the third has been released yet. The second book should be interesting because, without giving anything away, the setting and plot will be radically different.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Children Learn What They Live: Parenting to Inspire Values, by Dorothy Law Nolte and Rachel Harris, 224 pages

Based on the wonderful poem "Children Live What They Learn." This book is a no-brainer, but still a valuable reminder that children are a product of their environment--good or bad. The Poem: If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn. If children live with hostility, they learn to fight. If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive. If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves. If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy. If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy. If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty. If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence. If children live with tolerance, they learn patience. If children live with praise, they learn appreciation. If children live with acceptance, they learn to love. If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves. If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal. If children live with sharing, they learn generosity. If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness. If children live with fairness, they learn justice. If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect. If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them. If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Revolution: the story of John Lennon by John Duggleby, 155 pages

I love the story of John Lennon. He was absolutely fascinating and incredible.

The Secret of the Old Mill by Franklin Dixon, 174 pages

I have to say that the parents' of Frank and Joe Hardy have a very la-de-da attitude about the danger their boys get into. Did Child Protective Services exist back then?