Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, 325 pages

Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Pages: 325
Date: April 29th
Found: While checking in books
Motive: Just read Attachments, after reading Fangirl, thought I may as well round it out.
Summary: Park is a pretty regular high school kid, if he keeps his head down. When Eleanor walks onto the bus, hair flashing, clothes all wrong, he knows she's a train wreck waiting to happen. He grudgingly offers up the seat next to him, desperately hoping the bullies will just let it slide. Little does he realize how this odd, impossible girl will challenge him, how much she'll need him, how deeply he will fall for her, and how hard it will be to forget her.
Verdict: The level of foul language was really uncomfortable for me, but it was impossible to put this book down for very long. The characters felt so real, and relatable. A lot of their feelings and experiences struck a chord, and even the ones that were unfamiliar brought up strong empathy.

What the Moon Saw, by Laura Resau, 252 pages

Luna is a 14 year old Mexican-American girl who feels restless and pulled to something she can't quite put her finger on. She travels to Oaxaca alone to meet her paternal grandparents, whom she knows nothing about. I loved this coming of age story and the poetic way the author tells it.

Secret Lives of the Tsars by Michael Farquhar, 282 pages

I love how Farquhar spices up history by showcasing it through sex and scandals. It brings it alive in a way traditional books don't. I've read all his books so far and enjoyed them all.

My Thomas by Roberta Grimes, 368 pages

A look at Martha Jefferson and her relationship with Thomas Jefferson as told through her journal entries.

Madam by Cari Lynn & Kellie Martin, 326 pages

A historical retelling of a true story based on the creation of the red light district in New Orleans.

The Scientific Sherlock Holmes: Cracking the Case with Science & Forensics by James O'Brien, 175 pages

We have the author of this book coming to the library for a summer reading presentation so I had to read his book of course. I love anything Sherlock related and this was a great nonfiction behind the scenes look at the Holmes canon. I can't wait for the presentation.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Beach House by Jane Green, 341 pages

This month's book club book. I really didn't want to enjoy it but really did.

A Smile as Big as the Moon by Mike Kersjes -- 274 pages

I became familiar with this title when I was out with a stomach virus a few weeks ago.  Finally, I was able to sit up without becoming sick, but that was about it.  I actually succumbed to watching sappy Hallmark Channel movies.  A movie by this title was one.  It was "based on a true story" which I liked.  I found the story intriguing enough I wanted to read the book to see how accurate the movie was.

It was surprisingly accurate.  This is the story of special-education teacher, Mike Kersjes, who got it into his mind that his high school special ed class should be allowed to participate in Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.  Space Camp was designed for gifted and talented kids, and did not have a special ed component.

Kersjes had to fight EVERYONE to get his kids the opportunity -- his local school administration and the Space Camp itself.  He finally succeeded and commenced preparing his class of 20 kids with diagnoses ranging from Downs Syndrome, to ADHD, to dyslexsia, and a host of other problems.

The kids went to camp.  How they did, I cannot tell you.  You'll have to get the book through ILL and read it yourself.  :-)

Divergent by Veronica Roth -- 487 pages

I was on hold FOREVER for this book.  I'd placed it on hold in any format at JPL, Barton County Library, and MoLib2Go, and was way down the list everywhere.  My daughter finally just bought the set, so I got her copy when she was done.

This was a read-in-almost-one-sitting book.  It grabbed and didn't let go. Beatrice lives in a dystopian society (located where Chicago used to be).  Her future was to be one of five paths, decided by an aptitude test every teen was to take at age sixteen.  Unfortunately, her test did not have a clear result.  She was considered to be a Divergent.  If she were to be found out, she would be eliminated, because Divergents are a danger to society.

What does she do?  What should you do?  Read it.  I haven't gotten the second volume yet, which I understand is just as much a page turner.

The Bitter Kingdom -- Rae Carson -- 433 pages

The final book of The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy.  Read the set; you won't be mad at the author or the book when you are done.

Crown of Embers by Rae Carson -- 410 pages

The second in The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy.  I loved the series.  Fantasy, but not too fantastical.  Kind of like a historical trilogy.  The setting and the characters seem like they could have happened.  I'm glad I spent the time with this book.

Killer by Jonathan Kellerman, 335 pages

The Alex Delaware books are pretty much formulaic but still are good reads.

SVU Take Back the Night by Laurie John, 230 pages

What university would have a sexual assault case open to the public and basically put the victim on trial?

SVU No Means No by Laurie John, 233 pages

Sweet Valley University basically replaces the storyline featuring Lila and her sexual assault but features Jessica this time.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

ALMOST ANXIOUS by Luana Marques, PhD, 294 pages

This excellent resource (re)defines and describes the anxiety spectrum in lay terms, as well as provides readers with assessments and advice.

...A word on the series:
"The Almost Effect series presents books written by Harvard Medical School faculty and other experts who offer guidance on common behavioral and physical problems falling in the spectrum between normal health and a full-blown medical condition. These are the first publications to help general readers recognize and address these problems."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, 336 pages

Title: Attachments
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Pages: 336
Date: April 23rd
Found: While checking in books
Motive: I remembered Fangirl being particularly insightful and poignant, and the summary said this is about a romance that begins over computer, which personally interests me, true love before physical attraction and all, so I read the first few pages and then I couldn't stop.
Summary: Lincoln has been hired as the office's "internet security officer", which really just means he's paid to read people's email, which makes him feel weird. Beth and Jennifer misuse their company's email to send personal messages to each other - hilarious, and highly personal messages. Lincoln can't bring himself to turn these two in, but he can't make himself stop reading their emails either. He's captivated, and lonely, and in an uncomfortable position. How do you introduce yourself to the love of your life?
Verdict: I kept wanting to stop, because a lot of the relationships in there made me want to cry, and shake people, and set up a counseling office, but the personal insight was too much and kept drawing me in. I was inevitably disappointed by their relationship partway through, because it somehow ended up being about physical attraction anyway even though that's what I was hoping to avoid. The other idea, of love being a lifelong commitment, followed through though, so I was content.

My Bad by Jerry Scott, 264 pages

Title: A Zits Treasury 07: My Bad
Author: Jerry Scott
Pages: 264
Date: April 16th
Found: while checking in
Motive: I don't even know, just started reading
Summary: A collection of comics detailing the life of a teenage boy.
Verdict: For some reason I found it amusing and kept reading it, even though my teenage years are far, far apart from these. I probably empathized with the parents.

Bunnicula Meets Edgar Allan Crowe by James Howe, 160 pages

Title: Bunnicula Meets Edgar Allan Crow
Author: James Howe
Pages: 160
Date: April 15th
Found: the children's section
Motive: Apparently haven't read the series since this was published, so it's new to me
Summary: Pete, Toby's older brother has won a contest, bringing his favorite author into their home. Chester becomes suspicious of the man, and begins working to foil his plans.
Verdict: Not as good as the other books, probably because I didn't grow up with it.

Bunnicula Strikes Again by James Howe, 144 pages

Title: Bunnicula Strikes Again
Author: James Howe
Pages: 144
Date: April 14th
Found: the children's section
Motive: One of my favorite books growing up, wanted to revisit the series
Summary: After the Monroe household finally settles into a comfortable rhythm, Bunnicula becomes restless once more. Chester begins to put a plan into action that may rid the world forever of the bunny menace, and Harold's friend.
Verdict: Humorous, but not quite the same as the earlier books.

Return to Howliday Inn by James Howe, 192 pages

Title: Return to Howliday Inn
Author: James Howe
Pages: 192
Date: April 14th
Found: the children's section
Motive: One of my favorite books growing up, wanted to revisit the series
Summary: The Monroe's are on vacation again, leaving Harold and Chester boarding with strangers once more. They discover a set of buried bones with the voice of a murder victim.
Verdict: Always humorous, imaginative and lovable.

NIghty-Nightmare by James Howe, 128 pages

Title: Nighty-Nightmare
Author: James Howe
Pages: 128
Date: April 13th
Found: the children's section
Motive: One of my favorite books growing up, wanted to revisit the series
Summary: The Monroes have gone camping, taking their animals along for the ride. When the gang run into a pair of suspicious guys, Chester reveals a chilling legend.
Verdict: Always humorous, imaginative and lovable.

The Celery Stalks at Midnight by James Howe, 144 pages

Title: The Celery Stalks at Midnight
Author: James Howe
Pages: 144
Date: April 13th
Found: the children's section
Motive: One of my favorite books growing up, wanted to revisit the series
Summary: Bunnicula has gone missing, and Chester fears for the entire neighborhood, no, the world! Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of artichokes?
Verdict: Always humorous, imaginative and lovable.

Howliday Inn by James Howe, 224 pages

Title: Howliday Inn
Author: James Howe
Pages: 224
Date: April 12th
Found: the children's section
Motive: One of my favorite books growing up, wanted to revisit the series
Summary: Harold and Chester are left in a boarding kennel while the Monroe's go on vacation. Sinister events put the pets on the case: what is that unearthly howl? why are pets disappearing? will they last the night?
Verdict: Always humorous, imaginative and lovable.

Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe, 128 pages

Title: Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery
Author: Deborah and James Howe
Pages: 128
Date: April 12th
Found: On my personal bookshelf
Motive: One of my favorite books growing up, wanted to revisit the series
Summary: Harold and Chester are perfectly average housepets. Chester the cat likes to spend his evenings reading literature in the brown armchair, and Harold the dog always spends Friday nights in Toby's room (Toby is 8 and always shares his chocolate cupcakes with him). When one night the Monroe family comes home from a movie with a tiny, oddly patterned bunny, Chester declares that the family is in grave danger.
Verdict: Always humorous, imaginative and lovable.

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan, 336 pages

Title: A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent
Author: Marie Brennan
Pages: 336
Date: April 12th
Found: Has caught my eye on many an occasion, shelving and checking in, finally made time for it
Motive: Realistic dragons, oh yes.
Summary: Young Isabella is not as ladylike as her mother would prefer. She has a deep, profound obsession with dragonkind. She follows this thread throughout her adult life, through many hardships and ecstatic moments, to become one of the world's pioneering dragon naturalists, truly wanting to understand how these powerful and beautiful creatures work and behave.
Verdict: Absolutely brilliant. It really felt like a memoir, combined with an adventure novel; kind of Indiana Jones and Jane from Tarzan. I loved it.

SVU Sorority Scandal by Laurie John, 233 pages

Already up to book 9, only 71 more to go. Whoo hoo!

The Last Dragon by Silvana De Mari, 368 pages

Title: The Last Dragon
Author: Sivana De Mari
Pages: 368
Date: April 7th
Found: Browsing the Teen section
Motive: Dragon in the title, the back cover summary looked intriguing, went for it
Summary: A very young elf, one born lately, named Yorshkruntsquarklerstrink is struggling to survive in a world gone dark and flooding. After latching onto some unlikely friends, and bringing danger upon their heads at every turn, he learns that he is part of a prophecy that he must fulfill. 
Verdict: Brilliant. I actually prefer the first portion of the book as a story all on its own, but the book as a whole was well done, and highly enjoyable. Reminded me vaguely of Cornelia Funke. Definitely more about the elf and the people around him than the dragon, but he's got a good moment.

Super by Matthew Cody, 304 pages

Title: Super
Author: Matthew Cody
Pages: 304
Date: April 4th
Found: Put on hold
Motive: Sequel to Powerless
Summary: Daniel and his friends have another mystery to solve when a new kid moves to town and grows suspicious of their group.
Verdict: A satisfying conclusion.

Dragons Luck by Robert Asprin, 369 pages

This is a great fantasy book by Asprin. I am devastated by the thought that he is dead and there will be no new books from him.

Dragons Deal by Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye, 385 pages

I was sent the first book in this series to read for a review and was hooked. I've read a lot of Asprin's books, including his Phule and Myth series. This was a great read, I especially liked the fact that it is set in our world. I am so craving beignets from Cafe du Monde. Plus, it has be wondering just how many supernaturals are walking around that I don't know about, lol.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Only 127 Things You Need {A Guide to Life's Essentials} by Donna Wilkinson, 372 pages

I've been on a minimalist endeavor for a while now, and so the title of this book really appealed to me, even though it is not a book on minimalism, per se. This book was slow getting into and the first part of it didn't seem relevant to the title, in my opinion. It devoted a big portion at the beginning to certain wardrobe items and gave fashion designers' varying opinions on what clothes were a man or woman's "must haves" which I think is culturally subjective and also strange in a book of essentials. It would have made more sense if clothing in general was listed, but not what type of slacks or skirt is imperative for one's closet, especially with so many differing opinions from "experts." Another thing that made me scratch my head was when it talked about beds. Obviously, a safe and comfortable bed is necessary for quality sleep and health, but what constitutes a good bed is also cultural and personal. The author assumes that everyone must have a traditional western bed complete with mattress and box springs; and she doesn't acknowledge any alternative type of bed. Sleep is definitely an essential, but a Serta mattress (or whatever brand/type) is certainly not a necessity for everyone. This book took a long time to read, mostly because it bored me. After I got past the first third of the book, however, it did get better and made more sense, and I finally finished it.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

MAIL ME ART by Darren Di Lieto, 216 pages

This book showcases mail art by the world's best illustrators and designers, along with some interviews and contact information. It's a must see:
Although it's not available for checkout at the public library, you could make a visit to the Post Memorial Art Reference Library (located in the SW corner of Joplin Public Library) and have a gander. It's worth it!

GOOD MAIL DAY by Jennie Hinchcliff & Carolee Gilligan Wheeler, 128 pages

Lately, I’ve obsessively absorbed all-things-mail-art that I can rest my eyes on. Presently, my favorite mail art book is GOOD MAIL DAY, which is co-authored by Jennie Hinchcliff and Carolee Gilligan Wheeler and looks like this:
This book differs from other mail art books in that it’s not only a gallery of mail art, but a sort of workshop, as it offers oodles of advice, discusses the ‘how-to,’ as well as mail art etiquette. I’d detail the contents, but, unfortunately, I had to return it to the public library, as others have a hold on it. That and I want you to read it. So, a touch on my favorite bits and pieces of Ms. Hincliff’s and Ms. Gilligan Wheeler’s offerings:
  • Mail Art is for EVERYONE. You needn’t be an artist, per se, to participate in mail art.
  • Everyone has time for mail art, even YOU. Think of time spent waiting for the dentist, an oil change or those breaks at work that are long enough to do something but short enough to not do too much. This is an opportunity to create a postcard, decorate an envelope or cut images to use for future (perhaps mail art) collages. Accomplish this by creating a Mail Art Travel Kit.
  • The Mail Art Travel Kit may be as simple or elaborate as you like. The basic idea is to throw together the items that you use most to make mail art, such as a glue stick, a tiny scissors, pens, postcards or cardstock, along with stamps, and put it in your ideal easy-to-carry carrier. Like, a re-purposed envelope, a pencil pouch, a small purse, a Crown Royal bag or whathaveyou.
  • For The Ten Commandments of Mail Art, advice on how to WOO Postal Employees, fantastic projects and much, much more, I suggest reading the book proper.
So, put yourself on hold and check it out!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ma, I'm Gettin Meself a New Mammy by Martha Long, 336 pages

These are the saddest books ever, but I love Martha's determination.

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson (448 pages)

I finally finished this series by Rae Carson. It is one of the best audiobooks I have ever listened to. I will not say anything else, because it should be read/listened to by everyone and I don't want to spoil anything! Plus, I know I'm not the first to listen to it.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, 338 pages

I have been reading a bunch of downers lately so I was craving a little bit of fluff. I had read a year or two ago, Stephanie Perkins' debut novel Anna and the French Kiss, off of a staff members' suggestion. I really liked Anna and I really loved Lola. The way Stephanie Perkins writes is exactly the right amount of unrealistic romantic touches and real world cynicism. Her characters are very loveable and relatable and are always getting into very awkward conversations and situations where you say to yourself, "Been there!"

I would give you the synopsis of the book but it is pretty self explanatory from the cover and title, which I love. Adorable high-school girl with funky fashion-sense who chooses to differentiate herself from her fellow school mate clones is reunited with past and now again current neighbor boy with whom she shares a rocky but emotionally charged past.  She has to sort through these feelings while also navigating her relationship with her current much older rocker boyfriend, and very loveable and concerned same-sex parents in a lovely San Francisco neighborhood. It was compelling, but completely uncomplicated fun. If this is your thing, pick it up :)

Of Witches and Wind by Shelby Bach, 386 pages

I will read pretty much anything that is fairytale based. It's always nice when it's a well-written juvenile fiction book like this series is.

SVU Home for Christmas by Laurie John, 249 pages

You can tell this is a slightly more adult Sweet Valley since they use shinola and the b word.

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer Nielsen, 317 pages

This was the final book in the False Prince trilogy. I got hooked on these books when my youngest daughter read the first one and came to me exclaiming, "You HAVE to read this book. I need someone to talk about it with!!" Poor Jaron has been through so much, and each book has kept me on the edge of my seat. You don't say that with many juvenile books but this was an outstanding series.

SVU Good-bye to Love by Laurie John, 231 pages

I'm back to working my way through the Sweet Valley University. I will finish this series before the end of the year.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Fables: Snow White, Volume 19, 166 pages

I can't believe it's been 19 volumes and I still devour each new graphic novel. This series has gotten darker and darker. While this wasn't as heart wrenching as the last one it was still pretty sad. I finished this on my break and felt like I needed to go home afterwards instead of back to work because I was too traumatized to finish my shift, lol.

The Poioner's Handbook by Deboarh Blum, 319 pages

I'd watched a special on the PBS that dealt with early forensic scientists Charles Norris and Alexander Gettler in New York City and was fascinated. So when I came across this book that covered them as well, it was a given that I'd read it. This covered intentional and accidental poisonings, the government poisoning alcohol during Prohibition and the early days of the FDA. The science and history was great and there was enough murder and death to keep it really page turning.

The Winter Ground by Catriona McPherson, 295 pages

I've become a fan of the Dandy Gilver mysteries. They're set in Scotland after WWII and feature a aristocratic (low level) wife who is willing to go back to her pre-war responsibilities only. After becoming involved in a mystery featuring missing jewels, Dandy is making a name for herself as a woman who investigates discreetly. This newest mystery features a invalid wife, a winter-camped circus, and a girl who might be a member of Russian royalty in hiding. All in all, just another normal mystery to solve.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Freakin' Fabulous on a Budget, by Clinton Kelley, 240 pages

Love him. Not has much as Tim Gunn, but love him. I'd love to have drinks with him someday.

NYPD Puzzle by Parnell Hall, 258 pages

I read a lot of mysteries, that's all there is to it.

The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll (about 50's unnumbered and I'm not counting them)

I don't quite remember how this got onto my reading list.  I imagine it was "if you liked ____ then you'll like ___"

This graphic novel of a poem is Dr. Seuss on drugs meets "Where the Wild Things Are".  A bit too surreal for me.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (220 pages).

By jk Rowling.

I can't do it anymore, guys. I'm stopping mid-book, but I toiled for so many hours that I need credit for my hard work!

Quidditch is borrrrrrrring. Harry is borrrrrrrrrring. Hermione is constantly overlooked and not respected, though she could be the coolest character of the three main characters. I just can't get on board with such a very long series when I don't like the main character. Oooh, Harry is naturally good at this new charm they're learning in class, shocking! Ooh, Harry is the one, shocking! Ooh, Harry is perfect at Quidditch as long as someone doesn't knock him off his broom, shocking! Oooh, Harry can talk to snakes, shocking. Oooh, everyone lovvvves Harry and he's the most important person ever, shocking.

Blegh. Over. It. 

The last straw was when Harry was mean to Hedwig after she flew for like weeks to deliver a letter. He was so ungrateful to her. If I had a snowy owl that delivered my letters for me, you better believe I'd give her some attention and praise after an arduous journey! 

Deck Z: The Titanic by Chris Pauls, 222 pages

Samantha bought this ages ago at a Scholastic Book Fair. I finally got around to reading this and it was kind of a lame zombies on the Titanic mix. Not a great read.

Cemetery Girl by Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden, 128 pages

Lisa reviewed this earlier and I have to say I agree with her opinion. Not a great graphic novel, luckily it was a fast read.

January Thaw by Jess Lourey, 272 pages

Mira James has found a body a month since moving to Battle Lake in May. If I was on the Chamber of Commerce, I would make her leave the town but until then I will enjoy the mystery books. Light and fluffy with just enough serious to make them really enjoyable.