Friday, February 28, 2014

Roy G. Biv by Jude Stewart (153 pgs.)

This is in interesting book of factoids, tidbits, and stories about colours and how they are used, identified and the meanings they have from one culture to the next throughout history.

The Ship Who Searched by Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey (250 pgs.)

Book 3 in the Brain & Brawn Ships series.

Tia was a healthy girl growing up in a unique setting with archaeologist parents.  At age 7 she encountered an alien virus that was more serious than she, as intelligent as she was, realized.  By the time the bug was stopped, she was completely paralyzed from the neck down.

It was thought to be impossible with someone so old, but with enough pressure from the right people, Tia was found to be acceptable to the shellperson program.  Instead of a short life, locked away, she becomes a powerful brainship with a lifespan of hundreds of years. 

Now to find the source of the virus that changed her life.

Partnership by Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball (263 pgs.)

Book 2 in the Brain & Brawn Ships series.

As a newly graduated Brainship, Nancia's first experience with non-family member "normal" humans is a blow to her idealistic beliefs.  Left in the awkward position of not being able to act on the criminal information she overheard, she continues on through jobs and the quest for the perfect brawn partner until, eventually, her work brings her full circle and she able to face those persons who dented her optimistic outlook.

The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey (248 pgs.)

Having finally found all seven books in this Brain & Brawn Ship series, I decided to read it through from beginning to end.  There are various combinations of 5 different authors that make up the series.

Anne McCaffrey starts it all with the 1969 story of Helva, the Brainship.  In this future time, babies (and eventually young children) who are physically handicapped beyond any decent quality of life, but have fully functional brains are put into "shells" that are are eventually connected to spaceships, space stations, cities, hospitals or any other thing that would benefit from the combination of human and computer who are one and the same.

Helva is a hard worker who suffers some horrible tragedies.  She becomes famous for her unique hobby of singing.  She struggles to find the right partner, or "brawn", to share her work and life with and find the perfect person in the last place that she expected.

 This is a story that I have re-read so many times that I had to purchase a new that didn't have pages falling out all over.

Zom-B Baby by Darren Shan, 160 pages

This is one of the darkest zombie book series I've read. Darren Shan does dark, creepy and twisted like very few others. I mean, zombie baby, that is creepy.

Scrum Bumbs by Darby Conley, 128 pages

The bad thing about a Get Fuzzy collection is that you keep telling yourself "just one more comic strip" and before you know it, you've stayed up late and finished the whole thing. Bucky, you're an evil little tempter.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Footprints under the Window by Franklin Dixon, 177 pages

I've made it through 12 of the Hardy Boys now in my re-reading of the series. It's interesting how the time period is reflected in the attitudes towards foreigners.

Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson, 275 pages

Jeana had reviewed this book and made it sound sweet and touching so I had to pick it up. Halfway through I went to Jeana and told her the book should have come with a warning label and some kleenex because it made me want to cry repeatedly. The ending was a good wrap up without being too sappy.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins -- 485 pages

I've already read this once as well as watched the movie, but I wanted to read it again.

I enjoy dystopian novels and this fits the bill.  If you are one of the few people who haven't read this, get it today.

Mockingjay (400 pages).

by Suzanne Collins.

When I first read this series, it was 2011. Having been through trauma (nowhere NEAR as severe as Katniss') that year, I related to this character deeply. I huddled by the fire that winter, reading the entire series in a very short time. I have never been so emotionally involved in any book series. I read it at just the right time and it is impeccably written.

And so dark.

I cried during many moments of watching the second movie and I predict I'll cry for most of the last two movies as well. I've never been so into a story that's so hopeless. A story that piles on death and mental destruction, wave after wave. Every wave of darkness makes you genuinely think there's nothing worse that could happen, and then it does. In a weird way, seeing Katniss deal with this trauma, terribly most of the time, helped me sputter through the year after my own.

The first time I read this, I hated the ending. It felt rushed and there wasn't enough light in the darkness. But this time I know it's realistic, and those tiny sprouts of life pushing through the ashes at the end are enough. They're all you could hope for, really. I like that Collins doesn't downplay any of the aftereffects of injury and trauma. The characters don't recover emotionally and they take forever to recover physically, like real people would react to these circumstances. This series, though set in a dystopian future, is more real to me than any books I've ever read. And the movies have been done so well so far. I can't wait to see this book in movie form.

The Future Homemakers of America by Laurie Graham, 385 pages

This book starts off with a group of Air Force wives making friends with a local woman when their husbands were stationed in England. Circumstances and postings soon separate the women, but letters and phone calls keep them connected over the years.
This book was the February book club book and reminded me a lot of Angry Housewives Eating BonBons. I enjoyed it and look forward to seeing what the other club members thought.

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs, 399 pages

I've been waiting for the sequel to Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children for a long time. This was dark, gripping, and left me hanging just like the first one.

Bury Her Deep by Catriona McPherson, 313 pages

I've gotten hooked on these mysteries featuring Dandy. They're utterly Scottish and I like how she bumbles around into solving the mysteries.

While the Clock Ticked by Franklin Dixon, 174 pages

Another blast from my childhood, a Hardy Boys book. These take just about 2 hours to knock out, and are a nice reminder of reading them voraciously in elementary.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith (272 pages)

I'm pretty sure Cari already reviewed this one because she's the one who recommended it to me so I'll be brief.

I loved this one.  It's the story of Charles Darwin (doubter/questioner of religion) and his wife Emma (believer in God and very religious) and how they made their marriage a thing of beauty despite (or maybe because of) their opposite beliefs.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Of Giants and Ice with Shelby Bach, 346 pages

I love fairytale books, especially the Sisters Grimm series. This book is very similar with the "Characters" running a school for children to help train them to deal with their tale. It was funny, filled with intrigue and adventure, and I can't wait to read the next one in the series.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey, 403 pages

A fantasy novel set in what I believe was 1100-1300 Wales, peopled with witch hunters, fey folk and dragons. Lots of action, some plot confusion at times, but not a bad read.

Sister of the Bride by Beverly Cleary (288 pgs.)

I wanted to re-read this old favourite of mine for a specific reason...I remembered a painting that is mentioned in it and I haven't been able to find an image of it, so I thought I would try to figure out what the problem was.  (Two painting were mentioned and I was mixing and mismatching artist and the art title.)

What I was thinking would be light and entertaining was a bit.  It was quite interesting to read this 1963 story from an adult perspective on the society and the ideas that Cleary, a favourite author of mine, was putting into print.  I definitely read it in a different light than I did a couple decades ago.

Unimportant side note:  the image displayed is the cover that I am familiar with.  The lending library actually has the original.

The Dragonbards by Shirly Rousseau Murphy (249 pgs.)

Book 3 in the trilogy.  The bards, dragons, and talking animals, with the help of those they have freed, move to the final battle to drive evil out of their world.  Lessons are learned...often the hard way.  Perhaps pride is one of the greatest evils.

The Ivory Lyre by Shirley Rousseau Murphy (250 pgs)

Book 2 in the trilogy.  More bards and dragons, with the help of the talking animals,
continue the fight to drive evil out of their world.

Nightpool by Shirley Rousseau Murphy (250 pgs.)

Book 1 of a trilogy from the 1980s.  A classic battle of good vs. evil in a world where singing dragons (and their human bards) are the keepers of history.  The key idea in this book is that evil doesn't win so much just by fear, but by erasing history.  How can you have an identity when all you have is the present moment...and not much of that?

Also...talking otters.  Hard to beat. 

Bad Kitty: Drawn to Trouble by Nick Bruel (127 pages)

This is a young readers' book, but as an adult I found myself cackling aloud at the clever visual humor in this fun new book that is a companion to the "Bad Kitty" series.
Nick Bruel is both author and illustrator of said series.  This book's object is to take the reader through the process, mechanics, and elements of creating and illustrating a story.
He starts by introducing himself and sharing a personal photo or two.
(He gets extra geek-out points from me when on the first page, he encourages you to smell the book).
Next, we get treated to a basic lesson in how to draw Bad Kitty.
Throughout, the illustrations and wording make the pages come alive.

It's all written in an interactive, conversational style where you are spoken to as the reader.  Sometimes he speaks to Bad Kitty, and she reacts to the events in the story as they happen to her.  Hijinks are interjected, and hilarious distractions abound.

At the end, the book also includes an Appendix of terms, and a special recipe.
It didn't occur to me until writing this post, but the illustrations are so vivid, I was never conscious that the pages were in black & white instead of color.
All-in-all a quick and entertaining read!

*Find it at the Joplin Public Library in the Children's Department!

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (384 pages)

This my review for Sunday's edition of the Joplin Globe (a big thanks to Lisa for helping with the editing). 

Several years ago I had the honor of hearing Nancy Pearl speak at a library conference.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, she is a celebrity in the world of libraries.  She is an author, a book critic, a former library director, and a readers’ advisory genius, and the Librarian Action Figure was modeled in her likeness. 

Her conference talk centered on recommending books and, more specifically, the “doorways” through which readers enter books.  She believes that when a reader opens a book and starts reading it, he or she “enters the world of that book,” hence the term “doorway.”  According to her, there are four major “doorways” to enter through, and they include: story, character, setting and language. 

Her talk really struck a cord with me because I recommend books to library users every day, and I am always looking for that next great book to read myself.  From her talk, I discovered that my “doorway” is through the characters.  If you ask me about a favorite book, I will always mention the characters.  And while reading a great book I get so caught up that I feel like the characters are real—that they are my friends, enemies, family, etc.  And this is exactly what I experienced while reading “Counting by 7s.”

Willow Chance, the lead character of “Counting by 7s,” is not your typical 12 year old.  Ever since she was dubbed highly gifted in kindergarten, her teachers have struggled to engage, much less challenge, her.  In her free time she reads medical textbooks, studies skin conditions and cultivates a beautiful garden in the middle of her California desert backyard.  Her adoptive parents, James and Roberta, are supportive and loving, and it is thanks to them that Willow has had such a happy childhood.  In an effort to allow her to make a new start, they enroll Willow in a brand-new school at the start of her sixth-grade year.  Willow hopes to fit in and, more importantly, connect with someone her own age. 

However, thanks to finishing a state standardized test in record time, plus getting all the answers correct, Willow is labeled a cheater by her teacher and later the principal.  Willow does not tell her parents about any of her school trouble even after she is sent to see school counselor Dell Duke once a week.  Willow is attending one of these weekly sessions, along with two other teenagers, Mai and Quang-ha Nguyen, when tragedy strikes and she is left without parents for a second time in her short life.

Willow’s world is completely shattered, but thanks to her new school acquaintances she is not left completely alone.  Mai, Quang-ha and Dell become unlikely allies for Willow and soon she is surprising even herself with the changes and choices she is making. 

If readers enter books through the character “doorway,” then author Holly Goldberg Sloan does not disappoint.  She has crafted a beautifully moving chapter book that readers are sure to devour.  Willow herself is enough to keep the pages turning, but Sloan’s book has a well-rounded and diverse mix of characters, plus a heartfelt and engaging story.           

Fed up with Frenzy by Susam Sachs Lipma (342 pages)

We live in a fast paced world, we all know this but throwing a children in the mixture just takes it up a notch and time flies by even faster. This book had a short introduction and then really got down to the nuts and bolts of how to change your parenting style to a much slower paced one. Even someone just looking  for some new and  fun playtime ideas for both indoor and out would enjoy this book.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte 406 pages

I don't really know what to say about this book. I didn't particularly like it and I thought it was hard to figure out. I didn't care about the characters and I didn't like the style of it. But, now I can say that I've read it.

Coreyography by Corey Feldman, 280 pages

I've been a fan of Corey Feldman since my childhood. Goonies and The Lost Boys were two of my favorite movies. I even watched him on the Surreal Life and My Two Coreys with him and Corey Haim. So it was a no brainer about picking up this book. I hadn't realized just how messed up his childhood had been, and how damaged Corey Haim was as a teenager. It's shocking that Feldman came through it as well as he has. If you want to be able to watch the Coreys in their movies without any regret or pity tainting it, don't pick up this book. You'll never see them in the same innocent viewpoint again.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Intervention by Terri Blackstock -- 324 pages

An inspirational fiction book about a mother trying to save her child from drug addiction.  The mother stages an intervention with her 18 year old daughter.  The daughter agrees to go to rehab, however, on the way to rehab, the interventionist is murdered, and the daughter is the prime suspect.

The daughter is missing and on the run.  Can the police and the mother find her?  Are there other players in the game?

I enjoyed the book, although the mother's inner monologues got a bit tiresome at times.

Bad For You: Exposing the War on Fun by Kevin Pyle & Scott Cunningham, 189 pages

I came across this in the teen department, and it's an expose/tongue in cheek look at the stupid things adults try to prevent children from having or doing in the name of keeping them safe. Covering topics such as the comic book code, playground safety, and zero tolerance laws, it kind of gives you the impression that adults are idiots a lot of times.

Sultana by Alan Huffman, 300 pages

The Sultana tragedy was the greatest maritime disaster in American history, and almost nobody knows about it. So when I saw this book I had to pick it up and give it a read. I was disappointed in the fact that it dealt more with before and after, rather than the actual event. It was still informative but not what I call an intriguing read.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Charming by Elliott James, 391 pages

This falls under the genre of urban fantasy, with knights killing supernaturals, and a knight/werewolf combo who may be an abomination or a step forward in the fight against evil.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Allegiant by Veronica Roth (544 pgs)

This book was amazing and horrible at the same time. I loved this entire series, so it was definitely hard to come to the end. But Roth did something that made me so mad I had to look up interviews with her to find out exactly why she did what she did. I can usually predict how a book will end, and even though there was a lot of foreshadowing, I did not believe that Roth would really do what she did. I just knew she wouldn't and then she did! GAH! And I haven't found anyone else that has finished this book yet. I need to talk to someone about it!!!! So, run out and read this book and then come find me so we can talk!

Beyond This Moment by Tamera Alexander -- 396 pages

Young woman who hold a doctorate in Romance Languages heads West to become a teacher for a newly formed school.  She holds a secret and is trying to reinvent her life.  Will the life she is beginning to build unravel when her secret is revealed?  What about her burgeoning relationship with the hunky sheriff? 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Boleyn Bride by Brandy Purdy, 264 pages

I'm a huge fan of anything Tudor based in historical fiction, but I've never read anything from the viewpoint of Anne Boleyn's mother. This was one of the best historical fiction books I've read. It had me captivated from almost the very first page, outraged and heartbroken, and the author really brought the time period alive. I put the book down exhausted and sorrowful for the cruel fate suffered by Anne Boleyn and her brother George.

What a Reckless Rogue Needs by Vicky Dreiling, 400 pages

I was sent this to review for NightOwl Reviews. I enjoy historical romances and this was a solid read. It wasn't my favorite and I found the ending a little unbelievable, but it wasn't bad.

The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester, 329 pages

I'd seen this book on Unshelved's Friday book talk and thought it looked intriguing. A girl with the ability to fly (the one power I've always wanted), townspeople who fear and scorn her, and a mysterious government agency who promises to train and protect her. What could go wrong? This was really a sweet and good read, and I even got my husband to read it. The only drawback is there isn't a sequel and it needs one.

The Great American Dust Bowl by Don Brown, 80 pages

This was a really well-done graphic novel looking at the causes and impact of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s.

You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack by Tom Gauld, 160 pages

Meghan had reviewed this book and it looked interesting. I ended up driving my husband crazy by repeatedly saying, "You've got to look at this one. It's hilarious." I felt snooty and high class when I got the comics and lowbrow and slow on the few I didn't. I've even included my favorite comic out of the book.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley, 315 pages

This was one of the best mysteries I've read, not just in a long time, but ever. I've loved the Flavia de Luce series from the very beginning but this one was outstanding. What's not to love about a 12-year-old girl in 1951 England who not only has a passion for chemistry but a specialized knowledge of poisons, and then you couple that with outrageously tormentive (yes, I'm using it as word) sisters, and an absentee father to create a series that grabs hold of you. This book has me in tears by page 9 and it was a roller coaster ride after that. I can't decide if I love this author or hate him for how much he's made me care about these characters.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Second-Hand Stiff by Sue Ann Jaffarian, 302 pages

Yet another big and fabulous mystery featuring Odelia Gray. I love the character development that has happened over the books, including Odelia finding long-lost relatives. These are always funny and suspenseful.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Sister's Grimm by Michael Buckley (284 pages)

Skirt-A-Day Sewing by Nicole Smith (240 pages)

Potty Training Boys, the easy way by Caroline Fertleman (126 pages)

Wonder by R.J. Palacio, 315 pages

Title: Wonder
Author: R.J. Palacio
Pages: 315
Date: February 5th
Found: While checking in books
Motive: Everyone says it's really good.
Summary: A ten-year-old boy, who does not look like other boys, is going to a real school for the first time. These are his experiences, and the views of the people around him.
Verdict: Incredibly compelling and convicting.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce (608 pages)

Finally finished this series. It was excellent. My only regret is concerning the epilogue. I think it was there for fans of Pierce's previous work, so I did not understand any of the references. I guess I have to go read them all now!

Fizz, How Soda Shook Up the World by Tristian Donovan, 282 pages

Covers the history of soda from the early days of mineral springs up to today's cola wars. There was a lot of history I knew nothing about, and it was really interesting to read about how much Coke and Pepsi have affected world economies and governments, including Presidential races. It was also neat to be reminded of some of the soda ad campaigns from the 80s and 90s. Made me have a craving for Dr. Pepper.

You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack: Cartoons by Tom Gauld, 160 pages

Title: You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack: Cartoons
Author: Tom Gauld
Pages: 160
Date: February 1st
Found: While checking in books
Motive: Flipped through it and recognized a comic I'd seen online. Interest piqued.
Summary: Collection of intellectual and ridiculous comics.
Verdict: Very amusing. I even laughed out loud a few times. It has rather unconventional humor, and some of it went over my head because I was unfamiliar with the subject matter, but I really enjoyed it.