Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, 390 pages

Read this title again because I could not remember it very well and the horrible cliff hanger ending of Catching Fire almost requires it. The book is frustrating and so dreary and dark, but oh so compelling, I couldn't put it down. I wish there had been a slightly prettier end to this series, but I respect the book... very mixed feelings on this one.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, 391 pages

Read this title again to get reacquainted and excited for the movie. LOVE the book, LOVED the movie.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (462 pgs.)

This isn't the sort of book that I usually read and found it a bit difficult to get into, however, once I did, I needed to finish the story even though I wasn't enjoying it.  It is dark and the main character, Victor Frankenstein, is a miserable excuse for a human being.  My sympathies are with the "monster" he created.  The last two pages of the book were the best part.

The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim (373 pgs.)

This story, a modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter, is set in a contemporary Old Order Mennonite community in Tennessee.

I read the original story once, decades ago, so only remember the basics of the story.  That made some of this storyline predicatable, yet there was enough to the characters and other stuff that was going on that I found it be pretty interesting.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright, 326 pages

I've been wanting to read this book for ages since it's such an old classic (1907) and a standard in Branson. It was definitely a reflection of it's time and is filled with a good, solid, Christian message. I can't see my children or husband reading it but it wasn't bad.

Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge, 87 pages

Cari had reviewed this retelling of updated and slightly twisted fairytales and it sounded intriguing. I'm glad I picked it up, these were a lot of fun and different.

A Catered Christmas Cookie Exchange by Isis Crawford, 312 pages

While these cooking themed mysteries are somewhat far-fetched at times, they are still enjoyable.

Duck the Halls by Donna Andrews, 310 pages

Another mystery featuring Meg Langslow and her wacky and kind of crazy family. I would have to say that I would seriously consider moving away from this town considering how many people end up dead. This is a funny and light-hearted series though, and always entertaining.

Geektastic (278 pages).

Edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci.

Collection of short stories centered around geek culture. Like most of these kinds of books, some stories are great and some are boring. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, 533 pages

This is the first time I've become acquainted with Jane Eyre, but having done so I know I will read it again and probably watch a film version (or two) of it as well. I love the language, ideas, plot, characters, and themes in this book. The lead character is steadfast, plucky, sincere, and strong. I began reading it just after a significant breakup, and corny as it sounds, this book helped me through it. It took a long time for me to read it all; at one point I almost gave up on the book (somewhere near the middle) because it started to lose my interest & get lost in the details, but a friend assured me that it picks back up, and it did. I liked being immersed in Jane's world for several weeks. Great classic novel.

Monday, November 25, 2013

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy, 337 pages

This was the Readers Without Borders book club book for this month. It's basically a collection of essays covering people who have introduced him to great books or writers, and the books that have touched him and/or changed his life. I really liked the passion the author has for the written word, he talks about how some words just fascinate him, wanting to be rolled around in the mouth and enjoyed. I finished this book with a list of authors and books I wanted to try. I've avoided 'War and Peace' up to this moment, considering it a dry, overblown, never-ending dull book, but I now am seriously contemplating picking it up.

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer (263 pages)

Synopsis taken from "In the small city of Strattenburg, there are many lawyers, and though he’s only thirteen years old, Theo Boone thinks he’s one of them. Theo knows every judge, policeman, court clerk—and a lot about the law. He dreams of being a great trial lawyer, of a life in the courtroom.

But Theo finds himself in court much sooner than expected. Because he knows so much—maybe too much—he is suddenly dragged into the middle of a sensational murder trial. A cold-blooded killer is about to go free, and only Theo knows the truth.

The stakes are high, but Theo won’t stop until justice is served."

I listened to it and thought that the narration was good, however, the story was only so-so and the ending left a lot to be desired so I probably won't be listening to the sequels. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dragon Games (The Books of Umber) by P. W. Catanese (384 pages)

Since I already blogged the first, I won't say more about this one. It continues immediately after the first finishes, and I still love it.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Shore Road Mystery by Franklin Dixon, 178 pages

Another Hardy Boys book since I'm working my way through some of the early ones again. It's amazing how much stuff they have considering the time period the books were written in.

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, 549 pages

This had been read and reviewed by numerous staff members, so it's been on my read list for a while. I always start to feel bad for the books that sit there on the list, just waiting for their turn, some of them for years.
Ismae has always been an outcast, marked by scars that show her as a daughter of Death. Given in marriage to a crude pig farmer by her abusive father, Ismae manages to escape her wedding night and make her way to the convent of St. Mortain, where she is trained to become a handmaiden of Death, handing out his will. She becomes an avid student, ready to show her devotion. As a final test before her final vows, Ismae must go to court and help look for a traitor. To do so Ismae must pose as the mistress of Gavriel Duval, who quickly starts to gain a place in heart. Ismae must decide which is more important, her heart or her devotion to Death?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lies Knives and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge, illustrated by Andrea Dezso (88 pgs)

Do you remember Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner or even "Twisted Fairy Tales" from the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show? They take our traditional fairy tales and make them fresh by making fun of them or making them silly. Tongue firmly in cheek with these types of retellings.

Koertge isn't giving readers anything like that with Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses. Instead, he takes an even more traditional approach--a dark and decidedly sinister approach. There is murder and blood and death in these verses. Settings and situations are modernized, new perspectives are explored and new light is shed on traditional characters.

Stories like "The Emperor's New Clothes," "Little Red Riding Hood," and "Cinderella" get an afterward. Characters like Goldilocks, Bluebeard, and The Ugly Duckling are seen from new angles and with new depth. The Little Match girl is strung out and selling CDs on the street corner. Hansel and Gretel are disturbingly evil. The Beast often longs for his non-human form...

Accompanying most tales are black and white (no gray) silhouette illustrations that accentuate Koertge's tone and words. They are perfect in their simple darkness with sharp teeth, encroaching trees, and dripping blood. They are also subtle enough to warrant more than a passing glance. 

This book does not contain happy endings. Nor does it contain happy beginnings or middles. Koertge's fairy tales are dark and foreboding and disturbing and impossible to put down.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Retro Makeup: techniques for applying the vintage look by Lauren Rennells (103 Pages)

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, 419 pages

This was a darkly delicious vampire story, featuring a world with vampires exist in walled off cities, with humans allowed to enter but never leave. Tana rescues an ex-boyfriend, a chained up vampire, and possibly herself in the start of what promises to be a life-changing event.
Holly Black has created a new twist on the vampire story, that is sure to sink it's teeth into readers.

Dancing Barefoot by Wil Wheaton, 115 pages

I've been a fan of Wil Wheaton since he was Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Then when he started showing up on The Big Bang Theory, I kind of fell in love with him again. This collection of 4 short stories is kind of an insight into the person behind the characters, and is funny and quirky.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Happenstance Found (The Books of Umber) by P. W. Catanese (342 pages)

I've been feeling like I needed to get back into reading children's books, since I get a lot of Reader's Advisory questions. I picked up this one while I was out wandering the stacks and I have NO IDEA why everyone isn't reading it. It was fantastic, it has the same feel as all of those boy adventure fantasy type books, like Gregor the Overlander and Percy Jackson. Happenstance is a boy with green eyes who just woke up and has no memory. None. He is found by a man named Umber and taken in as his ward. The thing is, Happenstance is not an ordinary boy. He has green eyes that are incredibly strange and unusual in this world, he does not sleep, and he can jump incredibly high! These are all incredibly unusual traits, even though this is no ordinary world? This is a magical, fantasy world. But Umber is not from this world. Umber is from OUR world! And our civilization is a complete mess.  Happenstance is a different sort of hero, he's timid and unsure of himself, he doesn't like adventure or confrontation. He would much rather just stay home and read. Have I given away too much? I don't think I have. I'm reading the second book right now, and I plan to read the third as soon as I'm done with the second. I love it when a book series is completed before I start reading it.

Peekaboo Planet by Pat Brady, 128 pages

My very last comic collection until I discover another series. Bedtime won't be as sweet for awhile.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Declaration by Gemma Malley, 301 pages

Imagine a future where you can live forever, but to keep the world from overflowing, people aren't allowed to have children anymore unless they opt out of eternal life. The worse crime would be having children that weren't allowed. Those children born are considered surplus, unable to take longevity drugs and trained to become servants to the "legals" as a means of giving their life some meaning. Anna is one of these surplus children, never daring to think of herself as anything else. That is until a new boy shows up and tells her of another life, if she is willing to reach for it.
This book was reviewed by other staff people who really loved it, so it's been on my read list for almost a year. I'm glad I finally picked it up. It reminded me a lot of some of Vonnegut's work.

This Might Not Be Pretty by Jan Eliot, 191 pages

This hits really close to home at times with our two daughters. Very hilarious!

Not Just Another Sweetheart Deal by Pat Brady, 128 pages

One of our last collections, I'm not sure what I'll read before falling asleep now.

Rose is Rose: Running on Alter Ego by Pat Brady, 128 pages

I don't think my alter ego looks like Rose's, lol.

Enchanting Rose by Pat Brady, 128 pages

A great way to fall asleep.

High-Spirited Rose is Rose by Pat Brady, 128 pages

My whole family has enjoyed these collections.

Peace of Mind is a Blanket That Purrs by Pat Brady, 128 pages

Another cute book.

It Takes Two to Tickle by Pat Brady, 128 pages

This features some of the earliest strips.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Exile to Babylon, David Lapham and Patric Reynolds, 96 pages

If I see a graphic novel when I'm unpacking boxes of new books, I usually put it on hold, especially if I've never heard of it. Meh. Not always a good idea. "Exile to Babylon" is set in a futuristic United States, where natural resources are scarce and highly valued. A private security company comprised of reformed gang members is tasked with keeping the peace. It's kind of like "Mad Max" meets "Escape from New York." I wanted to like this graphic novel, I really did, but I found the narrative structure confusing, and, frankly, all the male characters looked the same to me -- bald, scarred and tattooed. It was hard to tell them apart sometimes. Evidently this graphic novel has been optioned for a movie or TV show. It sounds like something Jason Statham would star in.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Desperate Households by Jan Eliot, 128 pages

One of my last Stone Soup collections. It's been interesting to see how the characters have changed and developed over the years.

The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot, 392 pages

This is just a fun murder mystery series featuring dorm supervisor Heather Wells. It's been a long haul, but her and her fiance', Cooper, are about to tie the knot. That is if Heather can stay alive long enough to walk down the aisle. This funny series is best read starting at the beginning.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Terrier (The Legend of Beka Cooper, Book 1) by Tamora Pierce; 608 pgs

I was wandering the stacks looking for a new book to read, when I decided to finally give in and read a Tamora Pierce book. She has a very loyal following, but I'd never given her a chance. I'm glad that I finally did.

This book series takes place about 200 years before her other novels, and it is set in Pierce's fantasy world, Tortall. Beka Cooper is a girl in training, training to be a Dog. That's the slang for the guards in this world. She is a strong, independent bad-ass teenager AND she hears the voices of the dead. Pretty sweet, right? Her biggest flaw is that she is painfully shy.

This book is written in a journal style, which I didn't love, but it grew on me over time. I'm definitely going to read the next book, Bloodhound (did you notice the "dog" themed title? So clever).

Let's Explore Diabeted with Owls, by David Sedaris, 275 pages

Do you have a literary “bucket list?” You know, a list of writers whom you hope to meet face-to-face, or at least attend a crowded reading? Because Joplin Public Library frequently invites authors to present programs, working here has granted me many opportunities to geek out over folks producing the written word. But a few months ago – forgive the cliché – a dream 17 years in the making finally came true in a small, independent Omaha bookstore. At long last, I met humorist and essayist David Sedaris. Back in the mid-‘90s, while driving to Joplin from Columbia, I came across a National Public Radio station on which Sedaris was reading a piece entitled “Drama Bug,” from his then-upcoming book “Naked.” I laughed so hard that I drove off the road and almost wrecked my car. From that near accident, I was hooked. Sedaris is not shy when it comes to book tours, so through the years several of my friends have heard him speak, much to my everlasting envy. My sister in Omaha attended one of his readings a couple years ago. I was unable to make it, so she bought a copy of his first book, “Barrel Fever,” and had him inscribe it for me. One of my favorite authors on the entire planet wrote, “Lisa, I’m very angry that you’re not here.” I squealed with delight when I read that. Last spring, I’d planned to visit this same sister, and then she revealed that David Sedaris would again be appearing at an independent bookstore in Omaha. Being the good, supportive sibling that she is, she acquired tickets and a book in advance, and suggested we show up a couple hours early to get a good seat. We scored third-row center seats, which meant we were mere feet from the object of my affection. On that warm, humid May evening, I happily sat on an uncomfortable folding chair for three hours, a huge smile on my face, and then waited in line for a few hours more to have my book signed, planning in my head what I’d say when I came face-to-face with Sedaris. And what were my first words? “I’ve waited 17 years and drove six hours for this moment.” I’m such a dork. He looked concerned and asked, “Well, my goodness, where did you drive from?” When I told him, he helpfully informed me that they were going to be in St. Louis the next night and I could have gone there, but then I explained that I was visiting my sister and had to stay in Omaha for the weekend. He was very kind and gracious, taking several minutes to talk not just to me, but everyone who waited in line to meet him. I’ve spent the past week listening to an audio recording of his most recent book, “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls,” and it’s been a joy during an otherwise stressful time. Hearing Sedaris read his own work takes me right back to those hours in that Omaha bookstore, particularly when it’s a piece he read that night or one detailing what he does on his book tours. In “Author, Author,” he explains his habit of giving small, practical gifts to people who attend his signings. Sometimes it’s a small bottle of shampoo from his hotel, or a Band-Aid or packet of pain reliever that he buys in bulk. This gift-giving practice results in a hilarious but embarrassing trip to Costco with his brother-in-law, who is oblivious to the strange looks people give them when they see the huge box of condoms in their shopping cart. The night that I met him, the gift was a sticker from a sticker book he found next to the store register. On the title page of my copy of “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls,” he inscribed “To Lisa: I P(imagine a sticker of a manta ray here) we meet again.” Then, moving his finger over the page, he read it aloud a couple times, hoping that I understood. “Get it? I ‘pray’ we meet again.” So cute. Listening to the audiobook, I was again struck, as I have been after reading his last couple of books, how he has grown as a writer. When Sedaris started publishing, it was mainly short, funny pieces, many of them fictitious. Now, the personal essays predominate, and while, they are still humorous, but there is much heart in them, particularly when he writes about his big, crazy family or long-time partner, Hugh. Many have a wistful, somewhat melancholy tone to them, such as “Standing Still,” “Guy Walks into a Bar Car,” and “Loggerheads.” His imagery has become richer, as well. A telemarketer’s voice is described as having “snakes in it. And dysentery, and mangoes.” A McDonald’s bag is “vomiting its contents onto the pavement.” Guinea pigs are “big – like furry slippers, sizes nine and ten and a half.” If you keep a journal, I highly recommend the piece “Day In, Day Out.” It will It’s refreshing to review a writer’s body of work and see that they have grown in their craft. Far too many seem to produce the same thing over, and over, and over again. But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself. Joplin Public Library has several of David Sedaris’s books, both on audio and in print.

Dead Ever After, by Charlaine Harris, 338 pages

Yeah, I think I'm ready for this series to end now. While I was glad that Harris wrapped things up in this final Sookie Stackhouse novel, she just hasn't seemed particularly invested in the last couple of books. Even this one seemed kind of forced. The best thing about "Dead Ever After"? The final line in the book. It just seemed to fit.

Feathering the Nest: Tracy Hutson's earth-friendly guide to decorating your baby's room by Tracy Hutson (167 pages)

Vamprie Haiku by Ryan Mecum (137 pgs)

William Butten sets sail on the Mayflower in 1620 when his haiku journal begins. While on the ship, a beautiful (married) woman begins flirting with him each night. Then one night, they kiss... and she turns him into a vampire. William is now thoroughly enthralled with Kathrine and learns everything he can about his new life from her and her husband as they journey across the ocean.

Once the Mayflower lands, William chronicles his life as a vampire in the New World 1621 to 2009. William witnesses big events and meets famous Americans. He feasts on dying soldiers in all of America's homeland wars, he thoroughly enjoys the Great Depression's homeless population, and he explains that Davy Crocket didn't die at the Alamo... nor did he die as the head of the Branch Davidians, for that matter.

Undecorate: the no-rules approach to interior design by Christiane Cemieux (256 pages)

The Simple Living Handbook by Lorilee Lippincott (151 pages)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan, 274 pages

I'm a fan of Jim Gaffigan's standup, so I was interested in reading his book. He definitely has an irreverent look at parenthood that I appreciate.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Five Little Peppers Midway by Margaret Sidney, 176 pages

I hadn't known there were more books in the Little Peppers series. I'm going to enjoy reading these newly discovered classics.

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney, 164 pages

I have to go back sometimes and reread childhood favorites. This is one that I really liked because it reminds me of Little Women and so many people have never heard of it.

Another Scandal in Bohemia by Carole Nelson Douglas, 465 pages

I LOVE the Irene Adler series by Carole Nelson Douglas, it brings a new new side to the Holmes canon. I've read this book more than once, have a ton of other books I need to read, and still had to pick this one up. If you're a fan of Sherlock Holmes literature and haven't read any of this series, you're missing out on a serious treat.

You Can't Say Boobs on Sunday by Jan Eliot, 189 pages

Another totally hilarious comic collection featuring the characters of Stone Soup.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Lenore, Purple Nurples by Roman Dirge, 111 pages

Sometimes I get to review totally awesome for Night Owl, and this is one of those items. Somehow we came across these comics by Roman Dirge and my whole family is now totally hooked. They are completely creepy, sometimes downright gross, and have a tendency to make us laugh at completely inappropriate stuff. So how could we not love them.

We'll Be REally Careful! by Jan Eliot, 191 pages

Stone Soup comics have a tendency to result in my husband and me turning to each other and saying, "You've got to read this! Isn't this our family?" It's been fun to see how my youngest has gone from being a lot like Alix to becoming more and more like the hormonally challenged Holly. This comic at least gives me hope that I'm not alone.

100% Whole Grin Rose is Rose by Pat Brady, 128 pages

I like comics, what can I say.

Rose is Rose in Loving Color by Pat Brady, 128 pages

I have like Rose is Rose since I lived in Jefferson City and took the St. Louis newspaper, mainly for the huge comic page. Glad to revisit an old friend.

Rose is Rose 15th Anniversary Collection by Pat Brady, 128 pages

I especially like the family based comics, they hit closer to home. There really is nothing more relaxing than reading a nice comic collection before falling asleep to help you have pleasant dreams.

Brace Yourself by Jan Eliot, 191 pages

This Stone Soup collection features the newest addition to the Stone clan, Joan and Wally's baby. I'd started following this comic after this, so it was interesting to get this back story. Still one of the funniest comics I've read, especially with two teen daughters myself.

A Soul of Steel by Carole Nelson Douglas, 395 pages

The best recommendation I can make for this book is that I had a huge pile of books to read, including library and review books, and I still picked up this book I've read before to enjoy. Nell Huxleigh continues to narrate her life with Irene Adler and her dashing husband Godfrey Norton, enjoying their new life in France. A figure from Nell's past stumbles into her arms, propelling Nell and Irene into what could be their deadliest mystery to date. And what's a mystery without Sherlock Holmes showing up?

A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George, 413 pages

I'd had this book on my want to read list for about a year and finally got around to it. I don't remember what put it on my list, but I can't say I would have been upset to have missed it. It was an extremely dark and depressing, and didn't wrap as happily and nicely as I like.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum -- 192 pages

I have never read the Wizard of Oz.  We had a large copy with lots of pictures in it when I was a child, but it was before I could read, so I only knew the pictures.  Then, my later experiences with the story were through the classic movie.  I have to admit though, I never got to see the movie all the way through until I was an adult.  It was shown every year on TV on a Sunday night beginning a 5pm.  Our church's youth group began at 6pm, so I only got to watch up until the time it was time to go to church.  (Before the days of VCRs, DVRs -- almost back to Noah's time....)

My other experience with the Wizard is through Maguire's book, Wicked.  I hated the book; it took me about three months to finish; I just couldn't get into it.

Anyway, with that background I decided it was time to listen to the original.  It deviated from the movie version here and there (duh...), but many point of it were pretty close.  It made a diverting read on my commute home.