Thursday, February 26, 2015

a matter of days by Amber Kizer 269 pages

I would best describe this novel as a pre-dystopian novel.  A pandemic has wiped out most of civilization.  There is no form of communication, no water, no electricity.  You must scrounge and scavenge for your needs.  This is the world of sixteen-year-old Nadia and her brother Rabbit.  But they have one advantage: their uncle, Bean, was military and they were injected with a serum.  Now they must make their way from Seattle to West Virginia and the family compound where Bean and Pappi are waiting for them. Their deceased father taught them to "be the cockroach".  After all, you kill one cockroach and 10 more appear, right?  So he taught them to adapt and never give up.  To persevere.  But there are other survivors out there.  Friend or foe?  It makes for an interesting journey.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Crash and Burn by Lisa Gardner 386 pages

This is a psychological thriller that will have you guessing to the end.  Nicky Frank has a serious car accident.  But was it an accident? How did she manage to escape and claw her way to the top of the ravine in the rain?  Why did she reek of alcohol but have a blood level way below the legal limit?  And most of all, who is Vero, the child she insisted law enforcement try to save?  The husband is always the most logical suspect, especially when this is Nicky's 3rd concussion in the past few months.  Nicky cannot remember much of her life, but she suffers the effects anyway.  Be prepared for a wild ride through this page turner!

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt 771 pages (I gave up at 603)

This book received rave reviews and I have talked to patrons who loved it.  I rarely give up on a book, but I just could take no more of this.  Too many good books were calling my name!  Theo is 13-years-old when he is a victim of a terrorist attack.  He is at the art museum with his mother when bombs go off.  His mother does not make it, but Theo manages to escape the devastation, with a painting.  Thus begins Theo descent into a world of drugs, thievery, deception and the desire to be loved again.  Everything that can go wrong in life went wrong for Theo.  Just when you think he is going to get on the right path, he chooses the wrong one.  After 603 pages I could take no more.

Fairest: The Lunar Chronicles: Levana's Story by Marissa Meyer, 272 pages

Levana is the evil Lunar Queen we love to hate.  This novella, which is being touted as Volume 3.5 in the Lunar Chronicles series, tells her story.  I listened to this book, but am putting myself on hold for the print version, because I hear it has stunning artwork.

Did this book make me sympathetic toward Levana?  Heck no, she is one evil B.  But she did grow up with parents who didn't care and a crazy and cruel older sister who maimed her.  The poor little princess only wanted to find love . . . which didn't work out too well for any involved, by the way.

If you haven't started the young adult, sci-fi series, don't begin with this one.  There are some spoilers in the book.  However, if you follow the series, don't miss out on this volume, just because it's a novella.  It did a great job with the back story and is a nice preview to "Winter" the story of Levana's stepdaughter, and the final book in the Lunar Chronicles.  Bonus: it also includes the first 3 chapters of "Winter" which is scheduled for release in November 2015.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, 369 pages

Will Traynor was a high flying corporate raider, adrenaline seeking adventurer and lover of the good life until the day two years ago when he was hit by a motorcycle and is now a quadriplegic, who can barely move one hand.

Louisa Clark just lost her job of six years as a waitress at a local eatery and needs to find another job because, at age 26, she still lives at home and helps her parents pay the bills.

Lou is hired by Will's Mom, Camilla, to be his caregiver from 8 am to 5 pm daily.  Will is not a happy man and doesn't want a babysitter, but Lou needs this job.

What starts as a very difficult working relationship turns into friendship and more.  When Lou finds out that Will doesn't want to live life as a quadriplegic she does everything she can to make Will see that his life is still worth living.  Will it be enough?  I am not telling.

Oh, this was a good book and I can't wait to discuss it in book club.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Iron Trial : Magisterium Book 1 by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare 295 pages

There are a lot of books out there that you start and say, "Ah, another Harry Potter-ish book", maybe you give it a shot, maybe you abandon it.  Either way, you probably feel a little disenfranchised by the formula being used over and over.  I thought this might be like that, but I couldn't have been more wrong.  Is there a school for magical children to attend once they come of age?  Yes.  Is our hero, Callum Hunt, excited about attending?  Not at all.  His father has warned him his whole life that magic is dangerous, that the Magisterium cares nothing for its students' safety, only their ability to train soldiers.  His father even blames the Magisterium for Call's mother's death.  Call does everything he can to flunk the entrance exam.  Unfortunately, he is still chosen to attend.
Once within the Magisterium's tunnels, Call finds his life changing in unexpected and not so terrible ways.  He has friends for the first time in his life.  He is able to do things that his peers can do, sometimes even better.  His confusion and discomfort are palpable and understandable.  The end was completely unexpected and so NOT a Harry Potter ending that my jaw actually dropped.  I highly recommend this book for fantasy lovers.  Nothing can ever sway my love for the Potter series, but I give this one full props for originality and a very good read.

Friday, February 13, 2015

YES PLEASE by Amy Poehler, 352 pages

YES PLEASE is Amy Poehler's first, and maybe last book.  I listened to the book, that she read with the help of Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Kathleen Turner, Patrick Stewart, Mike Schur, along with her parents Eileen and William Poehler.

Amy made no bones about the fact that a book is hard to write, hence it might be her last.  However, I hope it's not because it was darned good. The book is part memoir and part her philosophy of life.

If you have to choose between reading and listening on this one - I am going to recommend that you listen.  Patrick Stewart reading funny haiku poetry?  Loved it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Private Vegas by James Patterson and Maxine Petro 361 pages

"Private Vegas" is the latest in the Private series by James Patterson and this one hits a bit close to home for Jack Morgan.  Someone blows up his Lamborghini!  Right in his own drive way.  Not only that, but Private employee Rick Del Rio is on trial for beating up a former girlfriend, 2 seedy men with diplomatic immunity are drugging and assaulting unsuspecting women, and someone is recruiting young beautiful women, fixing them up with much older millionaires, and teaching them to kill.  Just your typical page turner Patterson novel.  Hang on for a quick read.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion 292 pages

Don Tillman is a brilliant geneticist, but a socially awkward man.  He leads a VERY orderly life.  So when he decides to find a wife, he develops a very orderly process to do so.  He develops a questionnaire meant to weed out the smokers, drinkers, the consistently tardy ones.  Then Rosie enters his life.  She is definitely NOT Don's type.  She wants his help finding the father she never knew, but Don thinks she wants to fill out the Wife questionnaire.  An unlikely friendship begins to bloom.  Don soon discovers that love is not an orderly thing. The perfect story for February, the month of love.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein 320 pages

Kyle Keeley is the youngest boy of three. His oldest brother excels at sports and his middle brother at smarts. Kyle excels at games, especially video games. Kyle’s town gets a new library thanks to Luigi Lemoncello, a creative game maker.

Since it has been 12 years since the last library in town, Mr. Lemoncello is granting 12 twelve-year-olds a chance to spend the night in the library before it is open to the public. Kyle and his two friends are selecting with 8 other kids. Everyone thought it would be a night of fun and games, until the next morning when they are given the ultimate game, escaping from the library. The only catch – they can’t use the front door or fire exits. Kyle and the others must solve riddles and clues to see who will be the winner.

This was read by Jesse Bernstein. 

Doll Bones by Holly Black 244 pages

Zach, Poppy and Alice are best friends, but they are growing up.  Being friends at 6-years-old doesn't attract as much attention as being friends at 11.  The three of them don't really care, though.  They continue to play a game that is full of fantasy and adventure, each day pushing their creativity further.  All three get lost in the story and do so happily.  Then, one day, disaster strikes and Zach is unable to play anymore.  Faced with having to tell the others why, putting it into words, makes him sick, so he tells the girls that they are too old and he doesn't want to play anymore.  He doesn't count on The Queen, a bone-china doll, demanding service that drags the three of them into one more very real adventure.  This was a very well told story that showcases how hard it is to remain friends with people as you grow up and interests begin to diverge.  It's also a nice little only-barely-scary ghost story.
This was a preliminary nominee for the Mark Twain award, but it didn't make the final cut.  I listened to it on CD, read by Nick Podehl.  He did a really good job and was pleasant to listen to.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Cane and Abe by James Grippando 353 pagesd

I am just not sure where to begin with this book.  It has more twists and turns than a carnival ride!  Abe Beckham is one of Miami's top prosecutors, but that does not make him a smart man.  He had a beautiful wife that he deeply loved and he cheated on her.  Then when she died of cancer, he married an old girlfriend he basically dumped when he met his wife.  And that is just how messed up his personal life is.  In Miami, there is a serial killer loose.  Someone who uses a machete, like the ones used to cut sugar cane.  Well, guess what, Abe's former father n law used to cut cane.  He is in a nursing home now, but when Abe's ex-lover is found murdered and his current wife, Angelina suddenly disappears, Abe seems to be the number one suspect.  FBI Agent Santos is investigating him relentlessly.  Abe needs to help solve this murder but he is definitely persona non grata to law enforcement.  Good luck, Abe.  You will need it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal by Ben Macintyre, 384 pages

Ben Macintyre begins this book by saying lots has already been written about the English Spy Kim Philby, who was recruited by the Soviets while he attended Cambridge University, prior to World War II.

Philby was hired at MI6 during the war and worked there until the early 1950s when he was ousted because of questions of his loyalty.  He finally admitted he was a double agent in the early 1960s and fled England for the Soviet Union.

The book focuses mostly on his relationship with Nicholas Elliott, a fellow MI6 agent, who practically had to be hit over the head with the evidence against Philby before he would believe "the old boy" could possibly be a spy.

The implications of Philby's long spying career rocked not only British, but also American intelligence agencies.  Philby was well liked on both sides of the pond and had cultivated many friends in order to pass on as much information as possible to the Soviets.

Philby spied for ideological reasons, but even faced with the reality of the failures of communism refused to change his mind or his ways.  Quite the interesting read!

Monday, February 2, 2015

What We Found In The Sofa And How It Saved The World by Henry Clark 355 pages

Where do I begin?  What We Found in the Sofa and How It Saved the World is easily one of the most fun reads I've had in a while.  I am so happy it is on the list of Mark Twain Award nominees next year, because it really deserves it.  The characters were not only believable, but likable.  There was adventure and silliness, danger and tessering sofas.  Trust me, you just have to read the book.  Several passages, usually conversations between the three main characters, made me laugh out loud.

Three kids discover an abandoned (so it seems) sofa near their bus stop.  They find things in its cushions, a domino, a crayon, a two-headed coin, but they have no idea that those things will lead them to being the only three in the world who may stop the enslavement of Earth.  I highly recommend this to anyone who likes a well-told story that will make them laugh.

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen 291 pages

This is another magical book from Sarah Addison Allen.  First Frost is coming!  The magical time when the apple tree bursts into full bloom.  However, the time leading up to first frost is fraught with anxiety and stress.  It is a time when the strangest things can blow in on the wind.  

Claire has given up her catering business and is now making candy.  She is so successful, she barely has time for anything else.  But success is not always synonymous with happiness.

Sydney, the hairdresser extraordinaire, cannot control the color of her hair, which is getting redder by the day.  Nor can she control her urges to give husband Henry a namesake.

Sydney's daughter, Bay, knows she should be with Josh.  She can see it.  But Josh is forbidden fruit.  

This is once again a fun book but one caution:  The recipe at the end for fig and pepper bread is missing an ingredient:  The pepper!  Please add 2 tsp. cracked black pepper.