Monday, June 30, 2014

Bone by Jeff Smith, 1332 pages

Title: Bone
Author: Jeff Smith
Pages: 1332
Date: June 30th
Found: on my personal bookshelf - it is well-worn
Motive: one of my favorite books ever
Summary: Fone Bone and his two cousins have finally been run out of Boneville by one of Phoney's greedy schemes. They get separated in the vast desert by a swarm of locusts, and Fone finds himself in a beautiful valley. Unfortunately, there are dangerous creatures living in the valley as well. 
Verdict: Best best best. This is truly an epic graphic novel.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, 662 pages

Title: The Name of the Wind
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Pages: 662
Date: June 29th
Found: While checking in
Motive: People have been recommending this for years
Summary: This is the story of Kvothe, the most legendary, notorious wizard ever known. "I have stolen princesses from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during the day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me."
Verdict: Absolutely brilliant. There were moments during the story where I was positive this was one of the most beautiful books I've ever read. Very well constructed, gorgeously described, worthy of legend.

Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee, 356 pages

Title: Emily and Einstein
Author: Linda Francis Lee
Pages: 356
Date: June 23rd
Found: Book club! After the Princess Bride party
Motive: Everyone else was doing it.
Summary: Emily and her husband Sandy are very well-off in the Dakota, living seemingly perfect lives. When Sandy is killed suddenly on his way to meet Emily, this facade begins to crumble. As Emily shakily begins to pick up the pieces, a strange little dog named Einstein pushes his way into her life.
Verdict: Sandy is the biggest jerk of a main character I've ever had the misfortune of reading. It was hard to get past that, although I can see how that was well done. There were a lot of interesting things and layers going on during the story, and it was well done, it just made me sick at times.

Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks, 220 pages

Title: Friends with Boys
Author: Faith Erin Hicks
Pages: 220
Date: June 20th
Found: While checking in
Motive: Flipped through it and it looked like the type of graphic novel I have an interest in
Summary: Maggie has been homeschooled her whole life, but now she's going to public school for the first time. Her big brothers have paved the way some, but she's going to have to start making her own friends. How can she know who to trust?
Verdict: There's a lot more to it than that, but you know. I liked it quite well, actually. Well done, with a surprising twist that wasn't as jarring as I initially thought it would be. 

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey, 192 pages

Title: Dragonsong
Author: Anne McCaffrey
Pages: 192
Date: June 17th
Found: On hold
Motive: Fire lizards! Also summer reading.
Summary: Menolly just wants to make music, unfortunately being a girl in her father's hold makes this difficult, and after several increasingly frustrating situations, Menolly runs away. What she finds on the shore is amazing, but things become dangerous when she's caught out during Threadfall.
Verdict: This was great. Like comfort food.

A Case for Solomon by Tal McThenia & Margaret Dunbar Cutright, 436 pages

This was the about the kidnapping of a little boy in the early 1900s, but it wasn't the kidnapping that transfixed a nation but the aftermath. Two mothers claimed the boy was theirs, and a court had to decide what his name and his family truly was. It wasn't until very recently that DNA testing was able to determine who this little boy actually was for sure.

Deadly Attraction by Laurie John, 229 pages

Don't date Jessica or Elizabeth, you won't do well.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman, 117 pages

Title: Odd and the Frost Giants
Author: Neil Gaiman
Pages: 117
Date: June 16th
Found: While checking in. 
Motive: I've liked some of Gaiman's other work, and I've heard he's a masterful storyteller.
Summary: Odd is the crippled son of a viking. When the winter doesn't end as it should, Odd goes off by himself into the forest, where he encounters a bear, a fox, and an eagle.
Verdict: This felt so much like a fairy tale to me, it was fun to read. I enjoyed the layering of Norse mythology throughout.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, 213 pages

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author: Stephen Chbosky
Pages: 213
Date: June 14th
Found: While shelving
Motive: Keep hearing the name, was like, oh okay.
Summary: Charlie is a shy, introspective freshman, attempting to navigate the complexities of life.
Verdict: I don't know if I can properly express how disappointing this book was to me. In a way, it's the epitome of introspective teen books, something I've been looking for, but having to wade through that book was just miserable. Nothing was handled with care, it's like they picked every sexual crisis that teens could possibly deal with and unceremoniously dumped them all together in one story. It wasn't even a tragedy sort of sadness, just a flat, empty sadness with nowhere to go. Also the writing was terrible.

I'm just gonna leave this here:

The Answer! by Mike Norton, 96 pages

Title: The Answer!
Author: Mike Norton, Dennis Hopeless, Mark Englert
Pages: 96 pages
Date: June 14th
Found: While checking in. 
Motive: Well, the cover caught my eye, then I read the back and it said something about a librarian, so I was like, well now I have to read it.
Summary: I'm actually just going to copy and paste this because it's perfect. "Insomniac librarian Devin MacKenzie is yanked into a maelstrom of mayhem and mystery by the punctuation-faced crime fighter known as the Answer! Can this unlikely team take on the sinister BRAIN TRUST?"
Verdict: It definitely had very interesting moments, cleverly done at times, but by the end it just felt like it was missing something crucial. It didn't feel finished, or clearly explained at all, just kind of jumbled together. I'd hoped for more, but it was a quick read. 

The Secret Science Alliance by Eleanor Davis, 160 pages

Title: The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook
Author: Eleanor Davis
Pages: 160
Date: June 14th
Found: While checking in. 
Motive: Took one look at the cover, and the title, and decided it looked awesome. Also, science.
Summary: Julian Calendar is a nerd. Not only a nerd, a super nerd. This leads to kids in his school not liking him very much. When his parents inform him that they're moving, and he'll have to switch schools, he has high hopes for convincing his new classmates that he's a normal, average kid. Can he make a fresh start? Better yet, can he finally make friends?
Verdict: Brilliant, and brilliantly done. The artwork is meticulous and awesome. The ideas are clever and fun, and childlike. The emphasis and morals are great. I highly enjoyed this.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy, 241 pages

Title: The Road
Author: Cormac McCarthy
Pages: 241
Date: June 11th
Found: While shelving.
Motive: We had just watched The Road on Netflix. I didn't know there was originally a book until I ran across it.
Summary: The apocalypse has come. It is more grey and desolate than you could have imagined.  The animals and plant life have long gone to dust. We join in the journey of a father with his young son, following the road.
Verdict: Emotionally devastating. It was excellently written, and has thoughtful layers and intense discussion points, but it was just flat and sad. We did discover that the movie was extremely dedicated to the integrity of the story. That's probably the most accurate book to movie adaptation I've ever seen.

M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman, 260 pages

Title: M is for Magic
Author: Neil Gaiman
Pages: 260
Date: June 9th
Found: While checking in. 
Motive: I've liked some of Gaiman's other work, and I've heard he's a masterful storyteller.
Summary: A collection of Gaiman's own short stories of all varieties.
Verdict: Very well done. I didn't like all of them, but as he says, that's the neat thing about short stories, you can quickly move on until you find one you like. Very creatively done.

Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan, 144 pages

Title: Runaways, vol. 1: Pride and Joy
Author: Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona
Pages: 144
Date: June 7th
Found: Had on hold, because a month or so beforehand, I had picked up a graphic novel, started reading it, and then realized it was actually the fourth in a series, though it didn't say so anywhere on the cover, so I had to put the first one on hold and then that was missing for a couple weeks after it was supposed to have been returned.
Motive: The premise is super interesting. I (often) like creative takes on superheroes.
Summary: Basically, a group of teens suddenly realize that their parents are actually super villains. Also they may have powers of their own. If that's not enough to hook you, I don't know what is.
Verdict: Enjoyable. Not perfect, but definitely an interesting idea.

No One Noticed the Cat by Anne McCaffrey, 128 pages

Title: No One Noticed the Cat
Author: Anne McCaffrey
Pages: 128
Date: June 6th
Found: While shelving
Motive: Summer Reading program, also cats
Summary: Young prince Jamas is suddenly the ruler of Esphania, after the former Regent Mangan's death. Strangely, Mangan's peculiar cat has now attached herself to Jamas and begins directing him through various new difficulties.
Verdict: Enjoyable. The intelligence and aloofness of the cat was well done.

Miss Marple by Agatha Christie, 346 pages

Title: Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories
Author: Agatha Christie
Pages: 346
Date: June 4th
Found: While shelving
Motive: Summer Reading program
Summary: Miss Marple is simply an elderly lady from St. Mary's Mead village, but somehow this gives her incredible observational insight into the lives of people, and their motives.
Verdict: Very clever, enjoyable read. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Joshua with Commentary, NRSV, Harper Collins Study Bible. 42 pages

Sure everyone knows about Jericho, but the taking of Ai, the deception of the Gibeonites, the disputes among the tribes, the sun staying still for a time, and the memorials of monumental stone piles in river beds and at border sites "that are still there to this day" are all vital and memorable elements of the book of Joshua.  Of course, the appointment of Joshua as the Israelite leader after Moses, the spying on the land, the betrayal of Jericho by the prostitute in exchange for sanctuary, etc. at the beginning of the book are all vital, but more well known elements as well.  The listing of the divisions of geographical residence of the tribes at times was as monotonous as Numbers, but the accompanying maps and commentaries made it much more interesting and historically focused.

Dead Strange by Matt Lamy, 141 pages

Examines some strange mysteries from around the world, including the Bermuda Triangle, Loch Ness Monster, Voodoo, crying statues and many others.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss, 377 pages

I'd been trying to introduce my youngest to some classics and came across an old copy of this book I had. Reading it, I'd forgotten just how lucky this family was, basically every tool, seeds and trees they would want were on the ship and the island had basically every animal in the world on it, along with every useful plant. Then you combine the father and mother's ability to make anything, and you have the perfect life. But it was still a really great book, and I enjoyed it as a Disney-esque read.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Emily & Einsten by Linda Francis Lee, 356 pages

The latest book club book. Everyone really enjoyed it and it was a different read.

Bald Nobbers: Chronicles of Vigilante Justice by Vincent Anderson, 191 pages

This book is a compilation of actual newspaper articles from the time covering the Bald Nobbers, a vigilante group that started to combat the lawlessness of the area but soon became just as big a problem. I knew a little bit about them, aside from the ride Fire in the Hole at Silver Dollar City, but was interested in reading about them, especially as they were seen at the time.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cress (550 pages).

By Marissa Meyer.

Loved "Cinder" and liked "Scarlet", but was a bit bored by "Cress". I'm always in for a faery tale retelling, but this book was about 200 pages too long...maybe more. The romance element feels too typical and the females are a little too meek for my taste. There's a lot of "he wrapped me in his big, manly arms" going on. Ew. 

I'm in SUCH a book rut, you guys!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Saga, volume 3, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, 144 pages

I became a fan of this series as soon as I picked up volume 1. “Saga” is the story of Marko and Alana, two soldiers whose cultures are at war with another. They fall in love and go on the run, and Alana later gives birth to the couple’s daughter. Their fledgling family is threatened by bounty hunters, assassins and soldiers.
In volumes 2 and 3, their journey continues as they encounter Marko’s family and search for a reclusive author who might have some answers for them. New characters are introduced, such as Marko’s former fiancée, and old ones’ roles are expanded – namely The Will, a mysterious bounty hunter and my favorite character thus far. This science fiction/fantasy series has something for everyone. On the surface, there’s romance, monsters, violence, adventure. Beneath, there are meditations on family, child abuse, war and peace, and bigotry. The artwork is colorful and gorgeous, the writing sharp and witty. I look forward to more volumes in the “Saga” series.

Saga, volume 2, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, 144 pages

I became a fan of this series as soon as I picked up volume 1. “Saga” is the story of Marko and Alana, two soldiers whose cultures are at war with another. They fall in love and go on the run, and Alana later gives birth to the couple’s daughter. Their fledgling family is threatened by bounty hunters, assassins and soldiers. In volumes 2 and 3, their journey continues as they encounter Marko’s family and search for a reclusive author who might have some answers for them. New characters are introduced, such as Marko’s former fiancée, and old ones’ roles are expanded – namely The Will, a mysterious bounty hunter and my favorite character thus far. This science fiction/fantasy series has something for everyone. On the surface, there’s romance, monsters, violence, adventure. Beneath, there are meditations on family, child abuse, war and peace, and bigotry. The artwork is colorful and gorgeous, the writing sharp and witty. I look forward to more volumes in the “Saga” series.

Good Dog, by Graham Chaffee, 80 pages

We see them all too often in our community: stray dogs wandering the neighborhood, running in and out of traffic, scavenging for food and water. It’s not uncommon for people to look the other way and assume that the dog will be okay. Reading “Good Dog” might make you think twice before turning away next time. Ivan is a good dog. He just wants to figure out where he belongs. Is it on his own? Too lonely, and too hard to find adequate food and water. With a human? He’s not sure he’s cut out for the domesticated life. With other dogs? In his quest to find his place, Ivan joins with a pack of dogs and, while he enjoys the companionship and benefits, finds the personalities and politics difficult to accept. Don’t worry – I’ll tell you right now that Ivan’s ending is not a sad one, so no need to break out the Kleenex. And the story is not a complicated one with extremely detailed, colorful drawings and dialogue bubbles popping up everywhere. In fact, I found that the black and white illustrations and low-key, to-the-point language were a refreshing change that added to the retro feel of “Good Dog.”

Lost Cat, by Jason, 150 pages

Graphic novel. Loved this. A detective meets a woman after he returns her lost cat. A connection is made, and they make a date. She fails to show for the date. He begins to search for her, and her cat.

Number Cruncher, by Si Spurrier and PJ Holden, 90 pages

Graphic novel. Intriguing story -- a brilliant mathematician finds a way to cheat death by repeatedly getting reincarnated so he can be with the woman he loves, all while a Karmic agent tries to stop him.
Found the artwork difficult on my eyes. It was too busy for me and difficult to follow. Then again, I was tired ...

Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosch, 369 pages

Although this one is more of an episodic memoir with lots of cartoons by the author, I regard it as a graphic novel because the illustrations convey so much of the story. I hadn’t read this prior to its selection by my book club, nor was I familiar with the author’s blog that is the source for most of this book’s material, but I fell for it from the first page. You have to love someone who re-creates a drawing she made when she was 5 years old because she doesn’t really know what else to use as an introduction. The subtitle of “Hyperbole and a Half” is “unfortunate situations, flawed coping mechanisms, mayhem, and other things that happened.” This lengthy description pretty much sums it up. Brosch lays it all out there, from her quirky behavior as a child (obsessed with sugar, she once crawled through the window of a locked bedroom to gain access to her grandfather’s birthday cake, all of which she ate) to her battle with chronic depression. Dogs figure prominently in Brosch’s world. When she was a kid, her family decided to adopt a Helper Dog to keep their other one, Simple Dog, company. Unfortunately, Helper Dog turned out to have some issues. This story’s title says it all: “Helper Dog Is an ---hole.” As an adult, she acquired her own Simple Dog and Helper Dog. Her tale of moving across the country with them and their difficulty adjusting had me laughing with sympathetic understanding. And if you’re ever having a bad day, flip to “Dinosaur (The Goose Story),” about a wayward goose that finds its way into Brosch’s yard and house. It’s epic. And lest you think she’s making everything up, she provides screen shots of video she took of the goose.

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis, 294 pages

I love the comic Pearls Before Swine so when I heard the cartoonist had written a children's book I had to pick it up. Basically, think Big Nate meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid with a lot more attitude. I will definitely be reading the other ones. This was a great piece of book candy, nom, nom, nom.

My Jesus Yeary by Benyamin Cohen, 252 pages

Basically, the story is that the son of Rabbi is feeling far from his Jewish faith and decides to spend a year investigating Christianity. This was interesting, and while it wasn't as funny as "A Year of Living Biblically" it was pretty good.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Secrets of Moon Astrology: using the moon's signs and phases to enhance your life by Teresa Moorey, 144 pages

I've read this before and I'll probably read it again. I think the phases of the moon are fascinating, and astrological moon signs are interesting. Also, the illustrations in this book are fantastic.

Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry, 156 pages

A great story about friendship and bravery during WWII.

Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi, 185 pages

I loved this classic story as well as the beautiful pictures. Couldn't believe I'd never read it.

Charles and Emma, by Deborah Heiligman (123 pages read)

In an effort to become more familiar with teen literature, I checked out this interesting biography about Charles and Emma Darwin, who held very different theological beliefs. Unfortunately, I didn't get to finish it, but the 123 pages I did read were good.

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi, 432 pages

I'd seen this book recommended on a daily email I get, Hot at Harper's. It looked really intriguing so I did a suggestion for purchase. This book had me outraged, sad, and eagerly turning pages, all signs of an outstanding read. The novel covers an Afghanistan practice of girls living as boys until they come of age in families that have no sons. The emotional toll is superbly done and the character and plot development had me feeling for the daughters. I think the thing that outraged me most is the fact that women still live under these strict regulations, endangered and pushed down, all in the name of religion. I'm really wanting my husband to read this, especially in light of the recent hoopla going on via the Internet and the "Not all men" sites. Women have come so far but as long as any women live under these conditions, it's not far enough.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, 184 pp, by Jennifer Lynch (David Lynch's daughter)
Wow!  And I thought David Lynch took things to the extremes with the film "Fire Walk with Me", doing everything he could in a movie that he couldn't do on TV.  The book is even stranger, more risque, and more disturbing.  Blindfolded orgies in the woods after stealing a bunch of cocaine, anyone? Time for me to go back to reading the Bible! 

Daughters of the Gods by Stephanie Thornton, 442 pages

After reading this book for a Night Owl review, I'm a definite fan of Stephanie Thornton. She did an outstanding job of bringing ancient Egypt alive, and putting a new twist on what is one of the most misunderstood and ignored woman in history. I can't wait to read her newest book on the daughters and wives of Genghis Khan.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Fatal Enquiry by Will Thomas, 293 pages

The newest Will Thomas book is treat that comes much too rarely. I got to meet him in person when he came to the Joplin Public Library for an author visit, and he and his wife are just as nice in person as they seem. I really loved getting to know more of Barker's back story in this book and I'm hopefully we'll see him and Llewelyn come to America in the next book. These are well done mysteries, very action packed with great plot and character development. Fans of Doyle won't want to miss these books.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo -- 208 pages

I was in a hurry through the Children's Department and needed and audiobook for my ride home.  I just grabbed this, knowing DiCamillo is a good author.

A young orphan spends money he was given to buy food for supper for his guardian and him on a fortune teller who tells him his sister is alive and that an elephant will show him the way.  Thus begins a fantastic story, involving a policeman, a soldier, a nun, a socialite, and a magician.

The World of Veronica Roth's Divergent Series - 47 pages

This little booklet has interviews with Roth, along with additional information about the factions.  It includes Faction Manifesto for each faction.  Also included is a quiz to see which faction best personifies you.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

You Can Date Boys When You're Forty by Dave Barry, 224 pages

I've liked Dave Barry for ages and ages and happened to come across this book when shelving new books. I picked it up for my husband because he likes to tell our daughters that they can date when they're 30. Then I ended up stealing this book from my husband.

It Happened in Missouri by Sean McLachlan, 157 pages

Interesting events that happened in Missouri. Includes a extremely tough marathon during the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis, Jesse James impersonators, the Dred Scott case, and building the Arch.

Ma, I've Got Myself Locked Up in the Mad House by Martha Long, 444 pages

I've totally gotten hooked on this series. It's heartbreaking but Martha keeps pushing on, knowing that someday she'll have the life she wants.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Selection by Kiera Cass, 352 pages

Don't judge me, I know what I am doing with these dystopian love triangle/impossible love situation books but I just... can't... stop...

America Singer is a 16ish year old girl living with her family in a dystopian (of course) world that has instituted a form of a caste system. Her family belongs to a mid/bottom level, scraping by but usually not starving. She is absolutely stunningly beautiful but completely unaware of it (Who Me? But I'm so plain.. yawn) and secretly in love with a boy who is of a lower caste, which is quite frowned upon but they are mad for each other and he is beyond hot (of course). Cue the complication: the prince of this wasted land, which used to be the USA, has come of age and needs to choose a Princess Bride, therefore all girls of acceptable age are encouraged to volunteer and be drawn "at random" for The Selection. A competition VERY REMINISCENT of the TV show 'The Bachelor': live in the castle, cheesy dates, fancy dresses, so on, so on. America does not want to enter, but to placate her family who dreams of a better life, she enters thinking she has no chance and GASP! She is chosen!!!

She thinks she will hate the prince, hate the situation, think it is awful, and of course the prince is Dreamy McDreamerson (you are shocked, I know). So now, what is a girl to do. The worst part of all of this is that I was hopelessly intrigued by all of it and the ending is RIDICULOUSLY cliff hanger, so now I'm going to have to read the whole goofy trilogy. By the way, tween girls love them. I just had one with stars in her eyes gush to me about how much she loves these books last week.

Someone help me... :)

Allegiant by Veronica Roth, 526 pages

The third and final book from Veronica Roth in the Divergent Trilogy did not disappoint on shock factor, as I heard it would not, but did seem to drag in some places for me. The book shifts on viewpoint between (slight spoiler alert) Tris and Tobias and I found that a bit distracting. Also, Roth seems to write, at least the last two books in this series, as a bit of a slog of mundane (sometimes remotely interesting) every day occurrences and then BAM!! Chaos, battle, and more often than not, death or dismemberment of popular characters. So, I would guess you could say that this book stays true to life during war, but makes it a bit hard to read at times. I'm glad I finished this series, but still have mixed feelings about it. Not due to the author's risky choices, because I respect that, but more for her plot lines and character developments and endings which left me with a bit of feeling of, "Hmm... what was the point of that?" (character, situation, etc).

SVU The Other Woman by Laurie John, 232 pages

Oooh, is the new professor Jessica is falling for being stalked? Intrigue abounds in another Sweet Valley University book.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Fear in the Sunlight by Nicola Upson, 412 pages

This murder mystery features English mystery writer Josephine Tey along with Alfred Hitchcock. I'd read Shilling for Candles recently and this book features Hitchcock wanting to turn her book into a movie. I had no idea of who the killer was until the author laid it out at the very end.

Behind Closed Doors by Laurie John, 230 pages

Another Sweet Valley University book. I better get in gear if I'm going to get done this year.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Maze Runner by James Dashner -- 375 pgs

Thomas awakens in the strangest society and place he can imagine.  Is it up to him to figure things out?  He's in a giant maze from which there seems no escape -- a place where lives are threatened by stranger monsters.  Book 1 of a trilogy, plus a prequel.  I'll read them all.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth -- 525 pgs

I messed up in May and didn't post when I thought I had, so I'm getting this one up early....

This is the second book in the Divergent Trilogy.  It wasn't quite-as-I-can't-put-this-book-down as the first, but it was close.  I can't give many details.  Just that you will want to read the whole series.