Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Christmas Cat by Melody Carlson (169 pgs.)

This story met my expectations of light and fluffy predictability.  Easy, effortless sort of reading.  Protagonist doesn't like/ is allergic to cats.  Grandma dies and leaves him in charge of cats.  Incredibly specific requirements for re-homing the cats.  Pretty girl doesn't qualify.  You can figure it from there.

I am trying to figure what bothered my about this book.  I don't have anything against fluff, really.  Sometimes it is just what is needed.  Part of it is that the author did not write a convincing male character.  There was also a bit too much of everything turns out neat and pretty in the end. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave...(320 pages)

by Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein

This book is organized like a playlist. Each chapter a popular song from New Wave with interviews and reminiscing about the era. It was total book candy for me. I learned a few things too.

Both "If You Leave" and "(Don't You) Forget About Me" (the songs at the end of "Pretty In Pink" and "The Breakfast Club", respectively) were written FOR the last scenes of those movies. I've long thought "If You Leave" is the perfect prom-end-of-an-eighties-movie song ever and now I think it even more so. The original song written for the original ending of "Pretty In Pink" (the ending with Andy and Duckie dancing together at the dance instead of her getting together with creepy Blaine) isn't as good so now I have cognitive dissonance. I would have preferred Andy never date Blaine because he was sort of a poo-face, but if the ending hadn't changed to that we wouldn't have "If You Leave". I suppose good art comes out of bad decisions sometimes.

I had great fun reading this book while looking up all the songs referenced on Spotify. I even discovered a few new songs and albums!!

El Deafo, by Cece Bell, 233 pages

I enjoyed this graphic novel about a young deaf girl very much. It was laugh-out loud funny and touching at the same time. Young Cece, or El Deafo, is a unique heroine whose Super Sonic Deaf ear gives her great powers (including the ability to hear her teacher tinkle down hall!)

The Road to Grace by Richard Paul Evans, 271 pages

These have been a great read. The only drawback was finding out there is still 2 more books and someone else has them checked out. I don't want to wait to find out what happens with Alan.

Miles To Go by Richard Paul Evans, 335 pages

Book 2 in The Walk series. I devoured this book pretty quickly. I can't wait to see what happens to Alan next. This character has really grabbed me.

The Walk by Richard Paul Evans, 289 pages

This is my book club book for this month. I had put off reading it until just 2 days before book club because I didn't want to read it, and then I thought it might take me a little bit longer to get through this short book because I wouldn't like it. I was completely wrong. I finished it during just 2 15-minute breaks and an hour lunch that day. It grabbed me from almost the first page, and when I finished it, I immediately went and got the next two books. This was not sappy and sickeningly sweet like I thought it would be, it was very well done. Definitely one I would not have picked up unless for book club.

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger, 444 pages

Set in 1385 London, featuring a book prophesying the death of King Richard II, this was a must read for me. This is definitely not for the light of heart, it's a heavy read, but was really good. I think I most enjoyed learning about the maudlyns (hookers) working in London and the history involved.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos, 341 pages

I'd had this on my list forever and finally got around to reading it. It was fun and quirky, and just a treat to pick up.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland, 310 pages

I picked this book up from the new fiction shelf, and from the description and picture I didn't expect much of it, but thought I'd give it a go. I'm delighted to say I was mistaken, it was a great and fresh take on the zombie genre. Angel is a believable character and I loved seeing her try to grow (but not too much to keep it true to her) and it was great seeing her try to come to terms with what she had become. I've already requested the second book in this series, and I'm hopefully that they're all as funny and great to read as this one.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Hell on Wheels by Sue Ann Jaffarian, 288 pages

I really enjoy this series, and not just because I'm a plus-size gal myself. Odelia Grey is a fun and enjoyable character, always stumbling across dead bodies. I feel like the interesting and varied characters in these books really lend to the series. I can't wait to see what happens to Steele in the next book (no spoilers, lol.)

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm (195 pages)

Another Newbery contender.

Fantasy combines with science to create a likeable tale about thirteen-year-old Ellie and her grandfather Melvin, who is in search of the fountain of youth. 

This is one of the top titles on my list, though I think it might be too down to earth for most Newbery committee members.  I hope I'm surprised and it at least garners an Honor Award.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The First Family Detail by Ronald Kessler, 258 pages

I'm a sucker for nonfiction books, especially ones with interesting (and especially sordid) history. This looks at the Secret Service agents that protects the President and his family. It was interesting to see how different Presidents and their relatives treated the men and women protecting them. It made me seriously reconsider how I might vote in the next election.

This Book is Overdue! by Marilyn Johnson, 272 pages

From the title I was intrigued by this book. It covers the libraries' (and librarians') role in the changing information technology field. While it was a little dry for my taste, it was still interesting. I don't think it would appeal to many outside the library field though.

Belzhar (264 pages).

by Meg Wolitzer

Read about this on Forever Young Adult's best books of 2014 list and they were right. This book made me take a look at my life and restart a hobby that used to be very important to me. It wants to be, and sort of is, "The Bell Jar" for our era.

El Deafo by Cece Bell (233 pages)

Another Newbery contender--in graphic novel format.

From Amazon: "Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful—and very awkward—hearing aid.

The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear—sometimes things she shouldn’t—but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become “El Deafo, Listener for All.” And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she’s longed for."

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion (341 pages)

The sequel to "The Rosie Project".  I enjoyed this witty, funny and rather charming story about Don and Rosie "unexpectedly expecting".   

Saturday, January 17, 2015

I'll Pass for Your Comrade by Anita Silvey (115 pgs.)

It has become evident in recent years that there were a fair number of female soldiers who fought, disguised as men, in the Civil War.  This book skims the stories of some of the better known women, and points out that, if this many have been discovered, how many more made it without discovery?  How many stories have been buried by history?

The accounts are very interesting, but the writing is occasionally confusing.  Silvey may talk about a different soldier from paragraph to paragraph with no real warning that the reader is learning about a different person.  Visual indicators/breaks between paragraphs might have helped.  Other than that, learning the various reasons a woman may have chosen to dress as a man and become a soldier and photographs of these women are fascinating indeed.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (260 pgs.)

The stories of A.J. Fikry's adult life are told in short story like chapters, each one prefaced by A.J.'s own description of a real story/author that seems to suit the upcoming chapter.  It is an interesting way to pique the reader's interest as well as provide a bit of foreshadowing.

It took a couple of chapters for me to really get into the book, but I soon reached the "don't want to put it down" phase.  

I am likely to look for more by this author.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Hook's Revenge by Heidi Schulz, 290 pages

This is a juvenile book telling the story of Captain Hook's daughter, Jocelyn. I thought this was extremely well-done. It was a fun read, with a great take on how a girl who doesn't need saving and doesn't want to "mother" anyone would look at Peter Pan.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Death of Pie by Tamar Myers, 200 pages

This is the latest murder mystery featuring Magdalena Yoder. I generally love all of these books, but this one just felt different and a little off. It seemed more frantic and convoluted, and while it wasn't a bad read, it just didn't seem to measure up to the previous books. And I do have an issue with recipes being listed that while "related" to the book, weren't actually mentioned in the book.

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers, 464 pages

Mortal Heart is the third and final book in the 'His Fair Assassin' Trilogy. I've been excited to read this one since it is interconnected to the first two which I really liked. Each of the three books focuses on a different daughter of Mortain, an old (Pagan?) God who represented Death.

These books are set in 1400s Brittany when 14 year old Duchess Anne was trying to control her duchy as the French troops were moving in for a hostile takeover. This book stars Annith, who has been at the convent (which trains the beautiful daughters of Mortain to be assassins in his name) since birth and is excited to practice her skills to carry out Mortain's lethal will. However, the abbess is set on keeping her at the convent to be their seeress so Annith decides to strike out on her own. Adventures ensue.

I feel like LaFevers always has slow beginnings to her books, she gives you plenty of development and description before getting to the heart of the action. I accept that style but this book seemed especially slow for me to get into. It was a satisfying end to the story, her characters are always very strong and likeable and she has such interesting and complicated plot twists. Overall, I liked but not loved this one, if you are a fan of old court life and historical fiction with some supernatural/modern elements give this series a try. I think the glimpse into the time period is worth it. The story of Duchess Anne is SO INTERESTING, I was on Wikipedia the rest of the night comparing facts to fiction. Awesome stuff!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wonder Woman Unbound the Curious History of the World's Most Famous Heroine by Tim Hanley, 304 pages

As a huge Wonder Woman fan with a pretty massive comic collection, I'm always interested in learning more about this famous Amazon. This was a truly fascinating and scholarly look at Wonder Woman's history. It was especially interesting to look at her as compared to the other comic book heroes at the same time. I was glad to see that the author had the same poor opinion of the time period during the 60s when Wonder Woman gave up her powers. It was a very hokey and poorly done time period in Wonder Woman's history. I'm always glad to see her get the attention she deserves as a symbol of girl power, especially during a time when girls had few, if any, role models to look up to.

Sherlock Holmes, the Missing Years: Japan by Vasudev Murthy, 288 pages

I'm a fan of Sherlock Holmes and am always excited to find a new entry in the field. This one covers part of the time frame of Sherlock's missing years while he was supposedly dead. It has Watson and Sherlock making their way to Japan to shut down Moriarty's entry into the opium trade. While I will read just about anything with Holmes in it, this just didn't read true. I felt that Watson's letters to his publisher were a little hokey, and the segments of the stories told from the notes of the other characters weren't true to Doyle's writing style. I would say that I would be hesitant to pick up another Sherlock Holmes book by this author.

Undead and Unwary by MaryJanice Davidson, 303 pages

I have to say that I love this author. Betsy is just a fun, irreverent character who rings so true to me. My only drawback with this book was the love scene at the very end seemed a little forced and kind of pulled me out of the book. But other than that, this was a great read, and I can't wait to see what happens next to Betsy and the rest of her family.

Danny The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl, 205 pages

Danny and his father live together in a covered gypsy wagon where they run a filling station and do mechanical work. Life is simple yet magical, and there is always an adventure around the corner. In my opinion, Dahl was one of the best children's writers ever; and I was glad to read this title for the first time.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Hallowed Halls by Hannah Alexander -- 269 pages

I can't get the image to upload, but you can go to Amazon to see the cover.

Dr. Joy Gilbert is fired from her pain-pill-pushing position in a suburb of Kansas City, KS.  She returns to her roots (near Hermann, MO) to deal with her mother who is having health issues.  There at the local hospital is her former fiance, Zack, who broke off their engagement without telling her why.

When she arrives home, a stowaway in the form of her ex-employer's 15 year old daughter emerges from the backseat of her car.

Can Joy rebuild her life?  Can she help the teenager who ran away with her?  Will she and Zach mend fences?  Will she even keep her medical license?

Empty mansions : the mysterious life of Huguette Clark and the spending of a great American fortune by Bill Dedman -- 468 pages

This book had me at the introduction.  It tells the story of Hugette Clark, a reclusive heiress that at one time owned 5 mansions (or really large apartments), yet had not lived in ANY of them for more than 20 years.  In fact, one of them she NEVER set foot in.  Another she hadn't been in for more than a half-century.  She lived the last twenty-plus years of her life in a hospital room (and she wasn't even sick most of those years!) until her death at almost 105 years of age.

Fascinating book.  The audio book has recorded conversations with her.  The print copy has pictures!

West of the Moon by Margi Preus (224 pages)

Another Newbery Medal contender.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (642 pages)

My book club's selection for January.

(A note for myself:  This is the first book I read in 2015. The books I posted last week were catch up from 2014 list.)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Wool (58 pages).

by Hugh Howey

What just happened?! Weird little story that didn't leave me wondering anything about the rest of the series, but it seems to be a very well-liked book on the internet, so probably don't listen to my opinions on it.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes (240 pages)

A short and sweet chapter book about an elementary boy.

Pioneer Girl the Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by Pamela Smith Hill, 400 pages

This is a look at Laura Ingalls Wilder first attempt at writing about her childhood, a novel called Pioneer Girl. It was aimed more at the adult market, and contains more mature topics including a couple running away together and premarital hanky-panky. I have to say that I love anything Little House on the Prairie related and this was fascinating. It was great to see Laura's original story and see how it differed from the books and how it was the same. The only fault with this book is the size, it's too big and wide to read comfortably unless you have the book supported. Definitely not a book to read in bed for very long.

All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner (400 pages)

I'm a sucker for anything by Jennifer Weiner.  Not her best, but worth a peek.

The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls (288 pages)

A friend recommended this to me during the summer and I'm so glad he did.  Though hard to read at times, I thought it was one of the best memoirs I've ever read.

The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos (256 pages)

According to Amazon: "A severely burned teenager. A guitar. Punk rock. The chords of a rock 'n' roll road trip in a coming-of-age novel that is a must-read story about finding your place in the world...even if you carry scars inside and out." 

I thought it was a good read!

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson (416 pages)

Second book in The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy.

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson (448 pages)

Final book in the The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy. 

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (432 pages)

Read it thanks to rave reviews from Cari.  Loved it!

Four Perfect Pebbles by Marian Blumenthal Lazan (144 pages)

I read this before the author visit (so long ago) and was so glad I did.

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens (432 pages)

If you like Jim Dale as a narrator this is one for you!

Poison Study by Maria Snyder (440 pages)

Was a previous book club selection.  It's been so long I can't remember for what month.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (336 pages)

Another Newbery contender.

The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata (304 pages)

Another Newbery contender.

The Last Wild by Piers Torday (336 pages)

Newbery Award buzz for 2015 is alive and well and this is one of the titles that is being talked about.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Carnival at Bray (235 pages).

by Jessie Ann Foley.

Perfectly ok YA love story set in 1994.

Gutenberg's Apprentice by Alix Christie (406 pgs)

This historical fiction is told from the viewpoint of Peter Schoeffer, a scribe who becomes the apprentice (however involuntarily) of the man known as Gutenberg.  It is a fascinating account of how Gutenberg's invention of movable type progressed from quite crude into a fine and beautiful art.  We get a glimpse of the life and politics (government and church) of the times that were the background of the very focused life inside the secret workshop.

The story is told as Peter narrating it to a young abbott when he himself is a much older man, well after the events of the story.

The work that went into the creating that very famous first Bible and what was expected of books at the time was mesmerizing to me.  Not just the setting of the type, but the immense work of determining the layout for each page and the space needed for the expected addition of the personalized art, such as the large first letters and the art in the border and column spaces.

I was also intrigued by the initial reactions of fear and superstition that many, including Peter himself, had about this new thing.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, by Jeff Kinney, 217 pages

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck, by Jeff Kinney, 217 pages

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, by Jeff Kinney 217 pages

A funny series that is popular for a reason.

The Professor's Daughter by Joann Sfar & Emmanuel Guibert, 64 pages

Another staff person had read this and the title and cover looked interesting. It's a graphic novel set in Victorian England, with Imhotep IV as a walking, talking mummy who has fallen in love with the daughter of the archeologist who discovered his tomb. This was odd and not my favorite.

The One by Kiera Cass -- 336 pages

The final installment of the Selection series, tells whether or nor America Singer wins the position of Princess in this series cross between The Bachelor and Survivor.  She vacillates and worries and overthinks things so much I just wanted her to get over it.  I finished the series, mostly enjoyed it, but just wish she wasn't so wishy-washy.

North of normal : a memoir of my wilderness childhood, my unusual family, and how I survived both by Cea Sunrise Person -- 339 pages

The memoirs of Cea Person, raised in the wilderness of Canada by hippie grandparents and a hippie mother.  Raised during the culture of drugs and free sex, Cea recounts her quest for normalcy.  She tells of watching her family members doing drugs what seems like constantly and tells of the sexual exploits often. 

Cea left the wilderness at age 13 to become an international model.  Her life begins to resemble that of her mother and grandparents.  You'll have to read the book to see if that's where she ends up.

The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop, 179 pages

This was on a list of children's classics that adults should read. It was okay, but not nearly as good as The Indian in the Cupboard. A selling point is that it's a fast read.

Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix, 184 pages

This is the book that the movie The Village was based on.