Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Seven Wonders: The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis 348 pgs.

I picked this audiobook up because it was coming back with good reviews from my kids here at the library.  It is a fantasy series that draws upon a new idea.  Where Rick Riordan plays on Greek and Egyptian mythology creeping into modern day life, Lerangis opted to go with Atlantian lore.  Honestly, I can't say I was really taken with this story.  I fear it might have been because of the reader, Johnathan McClain, who too often made characters' voices sound ridiculous and cartoonish.  That's great for picture books, but very distracting in a book like this one.  There was a heck of a lot of Deus ex machina and that got on my nerves.  Again, was it the reader?  It's difficult to say.  The story was not gripping, but the idea was interesting.  It ended with a distinct cliffhanger, but I don't care to continue it.  I think this is one that kids may find way more compelling than adults do, so I will still pitch it to kids who like Harry Potter and The Lightning Thief series.

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis 303 pages

The Mighty Miss Malone is by the author of Bud, Not Buddy and The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963.  This was such a great book.  It is just a slice of life story about a family that barely gets by during a time when hardly anyone was doing much more than just getting by.  Deza Malone is the youngest member of the Malone family.  She was such a believable and lovable character.  She was sassy and funny, but such a good kid, I was pulling for her the whole book.  Even when tragedy strikes, this little family just keeps on going.  Making the best of the worst and trying to keep on track.  Deza, who is 12-years-old, discovers that while they are "a family on a a journey to a place called Wonderful", that journey may be a difficult one and Wonderful may be something she didn't expect.
I kept waiting to be driven to tears.  There was certainly plenty in this book that could have moved me there, but Curtis did such a fantastic job of making these characters resilient and charismatic, I just enjoyed the ride.  No tears, just a sense of okay, maybe this is all going to be alright now.  I loved it!
This is a nominee for the Mark Twain award this year and would be great for kids 4th grade and up.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie, 288 pages

The full title of this book is "Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings."  I downloaded this audiobook from Missouri Libraries 2 Go on a whim.  It looked like a fun book and I enjoy history.   

The book provides mini-biographies on many royal women throughout modern and ancient history.  It is well-written and in an irreverent voice that I really enjoyed.  The author begins by stating she wrote this to counteract the Princess Culture that is so prevalent today thanks to all the Disney princesses.  She wanted to tell the stories of real women, who did not, for the most part, live "happily ever after."  I might have checked this out on a whim, but I'm happy I did so.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Headmaster's Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene 277 pages

The first part of this book, “Acrimony”, is told by Arthur, the headmaster of a boarding school.  “Expectations” is told from the point of view of his wife, Elizabeth.  The final third, “After”, is quite short and is told by another character in the book, Russell.

Once I started this book I could not put it down.  The setting of a small boarding school is intricately described and, while the story seems simple, it is very complex and contains ambiguous (to me) outcomes.

Arthur and Elizabeth have a son, Ethan, who makes choices diametrically opposed to those his father wishes for him.  Russell plays an important part in the lives of this family. It is difficult to say much about this book without giving the whole story away.

I would highly recommend this book and I think it would be an excellent book club book.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner, 400 pages

"Fear Nothing" is the 7th Detective D.D. Warren book.  I found author Lisa Gardner last year, with a push from Carolyn Cunningham.  We'd just gotten a batch of new audiobooks in at the Downtown Library and I selected one to checkout and Carolyn told me I also needed to listen to the Lisa Gardner book.  Since that time, I have listened to all of Lisa Gardner's books that I can find.

D.D. Warren is a tough female homicide detective in Boston.  In "Fear Nothing" she is injured on the job after returning to a gruesome crime scene after dark.  She has no memory of what happened, but is unable to return to work due to the injury.  The crime harkens back to a long dead serial killer, Harry Day.

The other major character in the story is D.D.'s pain doctor, Adeline Glen, who happens to be the daughter of serial killer Harry Day.  Adeline has a rare genetic condition that makes her unable to feel pain.  Adeline's sister, Shana Day, is also a notorious murderer who seems to know something about this new killer.

I thought a couple of times towards the end that I was going to be disappointed in the outcome.  I was wrong.  Lisa Gardner has produced another great suspense story.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How to be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman 273 pages

My first reaction, after finishing this book, was to write a short review that simply said, “somebody tell me what this book means!”  However, after a day has gone by, I think the purpose of the book was to tell a story in such a way as to show how difficult it is to determine the truth, when someone’s mental stability is in question.

Marta has been married to Hector for years and the story of their meeting and early days seems ordinary until Marta begins to have flashes of memories which disturb her.  She has been taking pills, although who prescribed them, and what they are meant to treat, is not made clear.  She deceives Hector into thinking she is still taking them, but we find that she has actually been off them for some time.

We meet Hector’s mother who gave Marta a copy of “How to be a Good Wife” when she was married to Hector.  We meet the couple’s son and his fiancĂ©.  All the story is told from Marta’s point of view, and I have to say I was rooting for her throughout the book.

The book is a fast read but the further I got into it, the more I felt I did not know who was mentally unstable and who was fine.  The ending is expected, in a way, but wait, on the other hand, what really happened?  I am eager for some other readers to experience this book and tell me what they think happened.

Witches!: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer 144 pages

I found this book a bit difficult to read, which makes it a good thing that I listened to it instead. It seemed to be jammed pack with dates and was constantly cycling with characters. I understand that it is about the Salem Witch Trials and many people were accused, but spread it out a bit more.

The pictures of the book were a bit distracting. Since I listened to the book, I never had to worry about the pictures, but I went back and flipped through them. They seemed to be over the top and at times, a bit weird.

I like reading about the Salem Witch Trials and this book was interesting, but I can’t say that I would have read it without it being required for my Children’s Literature class.

This was read by Jessica Almasy.

A Chorus Lineup by Joelle Charbonneau 299 pages

This paperback is the third of a series.  I picked it up because I like to sing, I like mysteries and I really had little else to read.  It was okay.  An opera singer wanna be, Paige Marshall,  who just has not made it big yet, s coaching a high school show choir.  They have been invited to a big contest but murder and mayhem are distracting the teams. Paige becomes involved in solving the mystery because she has had experience doing this before.  It was a nice little distraction, but I doubt I will read any more of the series.

Private L. A. by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan 425 pages

This book is the 6th installment in the Private series.  A famous Hollywood couple suddenly disappears.  Have they been kidnapped or murdered and what has become of their 3 adopted children?  In typical James Patterson style, this book was a fast and thrilling read.  The short and action packed chapters keep the pages turning.  What struck me most about this book were the similarities to another real-life Hollywood couple, "Brangelina".  The couple in this book, like the real couple, are stars in their own right, writing and producing films, also.   They are huge philanthropists, visiting 3rd world countries, adopting special needs children and truly trying to make a difference amongst all the glitz and glamour.
However, in this story it all takes a dark turn.  Mega celebrities Thom and Jennifer Harlow have just returned from making an epic film in Vietnam.  Home less than a week, the whole family disappears, despite state of the art security systems.  That is when Private is hired to find the missing family. Will they be found alive?  Why have they disappeared? Sex? Greed? or some other darker reason....you will have to read to find the answer.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Trapped by Irene Hannon 380 pages

"Trapped" is the 2nd in the "Private Justice" novel by Irene Hannon, a Missouri author.  In Nora Roberts style, this series centers around three male characters, partners in the Private Justice P.I. firm.  In each book of the series, one of the partners aids a damsel in distress and,  in the process, falls in love. This book, features the female protagonist, a librarian, Laura Griffith.  Her 16-year-old step-sister has run away and she hires the handsome James Devlin to find her.  Laura's life is also jeapordized by the crazy Mark Hamilton, who volunteers in homeless shelters, trolling for young runaway girls he can "save".  This is where he comes in contact with Laura's step-sister. As a library employee, I guess the thing that bothered me about this book was Hannon's references to Laura being the "stereotypical" librarian.  You know, she always wears her hair in a french twist, she's very conservative...yada yada yada.  There is no such thing as a "typical" librarian and I hate the stereotypes!  Really ruined this book for me.