Monday, October 31, 2016

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling, 734 pages

Things are heating up for Harry Potter.  He's in his 4th year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and though he is only 14, is mysteriously entered and chosen to be a participant in the Triwizard Tournament.  Who could have entered his name?  Who indeed?

Another rousing adventure brought to us by J.K. Rowling.  These books never get old.  Come fall, I feel the urge to pull them out again.  Maybe one of these years I will outgrow them, but not yet!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko 278 pages

This is my first Choldenko book.  I never got around to the Al Capone series, I'm sure to my own loss.  I picked this one up after reading an interview with the author.  Something about her explanation of character development just drew me in.  I'm so glad I did read it, because this is an excellent book.  Even though it is a book for a juvenile audience, it successfully addressed racism, classism and sexism (all the bad -isms) in a realistic way.  It was never heavy-handed, but very natural.  The main character, Lizzie, is the daughter of a doctor in turn-of-the-century San Francisco.  Rumors of the plague reaching the states are running around and Chinatown is being blamed.  Lizzie is a smart, skilled girl, but being a girl, she has a lot of difficulty getting men to answer her questions.  She is determined to rescue Jing, a Chinese servant who has been with her family since before she was born, but keeps hitting walls trying to get answers or help from those around her.  I loved that the characters had some hidden qualities that weren't revealed all at once.  I also appreciate that it had a relatively unexpected ending.  Life doesn't always turn out the way we want it to, but it does have a way of resolving itself.  This book really showed the resiliency of the human spirit and I enjoyed it a lot.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, 530 pages

Three of the library's book clubs read this Pulitzer Prize winning book this year.  Set
in World War II, the novel tells the stories two main characters.  A brilliant German boy, Werner Pfennig, who gets caught up in the Hitler Youth and a blind French girl, Marie-Laure LeBlanc, who leaves Paris with her father when it falls to the Germans and spends the war in Saint-Malo, a walled port city in Brittany.

This is a beautifully written novel and is one of those books that I rushed to finish because I couldn't put it down and was sad to finish because it was so good.  It was a pleasure to listen to it again to get ready to discuss it in book club.

Grimm's Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

This is a 3-disc audiobook of 21 different Grimm's Fairy Tales including Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.  Every tale has a different reader, including Jim Dale and Scott Brick.  Two of my favorites.

This is the Grimm version of the fairy tales, not the Disney-fied version many of us are used to.  Death or dismemberment is often a consequence for the baddies in these tales.

Fabulous listen!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood 390 pages

At fifteen, Mila attended her father Sean’s fiftieth birthday celebration with his newest wife, her twin half-sisters Ruby and Coco and several well to do friends. Before the end of the celebration, Mila, still angry at her father’s defection left early, a new stepmother was on the horizon and three year old Coco disappeared with life altering consequences.

Now twelve years later, most of the same cast of unlikeable, characters return this time to the home of his fourth wife for Sean’s funeral. Mila is asked to bring Ruby whom she hasn’t seen since that fateful night all those years ago. It doesn’t take long for the lies and secrets to surface.

Alex Marwood won an Edgar for her first novel The Wicked Girls a book I still think about even though it’s been couple of years since I read it. She won a Macavity for her second, The Killer Next Door. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a third.  

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty, 415 pages

Liane Moriarty's latest chick lit epic involves three couples and an infamous weekend barbecue. Something happens at the get-together and everyone there feels they are to blame, even the kids.

The actual event is shrouded in mystery and more than half of the book builds up to the big reveal.

Complicated relationships, difficult parents, strained marriages . . . pretty much life.  This wasn't my favorite Liane Moriarty book but it was definitely fun and worth the listen.

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, 69 pages

This is a slim gem of a Neil Gaiman fairy tale.  On the eve of a Queen's marriage there is a mysterious sleep that is overtaking the kingdom.  The Queen sets out with her trusty dwarf companions to find the culprit.

Adventure, strong women and homages to Snow White and Sleeping Beauty follow. 

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling, 435 pages

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is book 3 in the 7-book series by J.K. Rowling.

Harry, Hermione and Ron are now 13 and in their 3rd year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  In this volume, crazed murderer Sirius Black has escaped from the wizard prison, Azkaban - a feat that no one has ever pulled off before.  He seems to be after Harry . . . and maybe Hogwarts isn't even safe.

Another great installment in the series.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling, 352 pages

"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" is book two of the wildly popular seven book series by J.K. Rowling.

I've read and listened to the books before, but just don't seem to get tired of the story.  I'm especially drawn to them in the fall.  It's been a long time since I've read, instead of listened to them but so far I'm reading this time.

Harry is back for his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  With the help of his friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, he is able to thwart the evil wizard Lord Voldemort (He Who Must Not Be Named, for you squeamish folks.)

On to the Prisoner of Azkaban . . .

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen, 269 pages

This is one of those books I re-listen to periodically just because I enjoy it. 
I recently had a solo road trip and this little gem was the perfect companion.

Set in Mullaby, North Carolina, there are two main characters.  Emily is a 17 year old whose mother recently died and who just moved in with the grandfather she never knew she had.   Julia is a 36 year old who has reluctantly returned to Mullaby.  She left when she was 16 and never planned to live there again.

It's a magical little tale I never get tired of revisiting.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton 343 pages

Several women are killed and Hamish Wolfe, a young and handsome doctor is convicted of the crimes and sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars. Hamish swears a blue streak he is an innocent man. And sometimes you believe him and sometimes not. Maggie Rose is a true crime writer and an attorney notorious for getting serial killers released independent of guilt, or innocence. She only cares that the conviction was just. Or at least that’s how it seems.  And Detective Constable Pete Weston is the officer who arrested Wolfe and gained a promotion because of it. So maybe he’s just concerned because he has a vested interest in protecting his conviction. Hard to tell.

All three characters are entangled in a web of lies, secrets and their own agendas. Along with several just as intriguing supporting characters, Daisy in Chains is an atmospheric, fast paced, psychological mystery that will entertain from the first page to the last. Seriously good read!

The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell 309 pages

Marnie and her younger sister Nellie live in a housing estate in Glasgow. Their parents have disappeared. Which isn’t really a problem for the girls, they like it like that. Marnie only has to make it through the year without anyone knowing to avoid going into foster care and being separated from her sister. If it were not for Social Services, a long lost relative recently found, a drug dealer who wants his money back and an odd assortment of wacky characters, the girls lives wouldn’t seem nearly so bleak.

But then an elderly neighbor with issues of his own and inexplicably, a Russian mobster on the run, reach out to the girls and once again hope is on the horizon and just maybe everything will work out.

The Death of Bees is a beautifully written, achingly sad, raw at times, hilariously funny and always hopeful, read in one sitting, book. I absolutely loved it!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman 368 pages

Garrison Griswold is the Willy Wonka of the publishing business. He created a book scavenger game where people hide books all over the world and they use puzzles through a database to find them. So when Emily and her family move to San Francisco, she cannot wait to participate in his newest game. When Mr. Griswold was attacked and put in a coma, the existence of his new game is in jeopardy. Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they believe to be part of Mr. Griswold’s game. As they follow the clues, they learn that someone is following them.

This was read by Jessica Almasy.

Sugar Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke 384 pages

It’s the holiday season for the people of Lake Eden, Minnesota and there has been another murder. Everyone has come together for a holiday potluck in the community center. Gossip is running rampant when Martin Dubinski brings his new wife of two days, Brandi Wyen. Brandi was a Las Vegas dancer that Martin met just hours before the wedding. When Brandi is murdered in the parking lot, Hannah must solve the murder before the blizzard lessens and before people can leave the community center.  

This was read by Suzanne Toren.

Fudge Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke 320 pages

Hannah Swensen has once again come across another death body. While taking out the trash after her baking class, Hannah finds the body of Sheriff Grant. Hannah sister, Andrea, needs Hannah to find Sheriff Grant’s killer, to clear Andrea’s husband. Hannah takes the case and uncovers some very juicy secrets. When Hannah comes across the killer, she uses a unique way of capturing them.

This was read by Suzanne Toren.

Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt 224 pages

In 1948, Tate P. Ellerbee’s teacher gives the class the assignment of writing to pen pals. The students get to pick their pen pals and Tate decides to write to Hank Williams, an up-in-coming country star. Even though Tate never gets a response from Hank, she continues to write to him. In her letters to Hank, Tate tells him of her life in Rippling Creek and of her brother, Frog, that never talks ever since their mother went to jail. The ending has a surprising twist that I never saw coming.

The Doublecross: (And Other Skills I Learned as a Superspy) by Jackson Pearce 304 pages

Twelve-year-old Hale Jordan lives in an underground facility for an elite group of super spies. Everyone who lives there are born to be spies; they are not recruited.  Even though Hale can speak eleven languages and can defuse bombs, he is not your average spy. Hale is a bit heavier in weight than a spy should be, but Hale’s goal is to be a field agent. When his parent’s go missing, Hale becomes a double agent working for the League, a rival agency. Hale needs to prove to himself and to everyone else that he has what it takes to become a spy.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Fast N’ Loud: Blood, Sweat, and Beers by Richard Rawlings 224 pages

Fast N’ Loud is an autobiography of Richard Rawlings, the owner of Gas Monkey Garage in Dallas, Texas. Richard shares the story of his earlier days being a policeman and a firefighter to getting shot over his 1965 Mustang fastback. He also gives readers insight into creating Gas Monkey and how it almost never-was. Richard also takes readers behind the scenes of some of Gas Monkey’s famous car builds, as well as the people who make up Gas Monkey.

This was read by Alexander Cendese and Richard Rawlings. 

Took: a Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn 272 pages

Daniel and his family move to a new house in Brewster’s Hill, Massachusetts from Connecticut. However, this house is nowhere near new. Starting a new school, Daniel and his sister Erica, are picked on all the time. The only time other kids will talk to them, is to tell them about how a girl disappeared from their house. They also told them stories about an old witch who haunted the woods with her monster Bloody Bones, a man-eating razorback hog. While, Erica is scared of the woods, Daniel does not believe the stories.

After a while, Erica becomes distant from everyone but her doll, Little Erica. After a fight with Daniel, Erica runs away from him into the woods. After searching for her, Daniel heads back home thinking that Erica will be there waiting for him. When their parents return home from work, Erica is still missing. The whole town joins in the search until Selene, the last girl taken over fifty years ago, appears. The townspeople believe that Erica was taken by Auntie and they give up looking for her. Daniel tries to do everything he can to get back Erica, even facing Auntie. 

The Only Game by Mike Lupica 320 pages

Jack Callahan is a star pitcher and short-stop for his baseball team. When his first practice of the new season is over, Jack tells his coach that he is quitting the team. No one understands why Jack made such a big decision when the Little League World Series is on the line. Ever since his older brother passed away, Jack feels that baseball is just not a big deal anymore.

Cassie Bennett is a star pitcher and short-stop for her softball team. She is the only person who believes that if Jack doesn’t want to play ball, then he doesn’t have to. Jack and Cassie form a friendship which leads Jack into coaching Cassie’s team. Along the way, Teddy joins the friendship. Jack starts to learn that he was not the cause of his brother’s death and he is allowed to play a game that he loves.

This was read by Keith Nobbs. 

Witherwood Reform School by Obert Skye 240 pages

After Tobias and Charlotte Eggars play a horrible prank on their nanny, they find themselves being left on the side of a road in the middle of nowhere by their father in the pouring rain. In since for shelter, Tobias and Charlotte stubble upon the Witherwood Reform School. This is not your typical reform school. There are creatures roaming the grounds at night and the students are locked in their rooms. When Tobias and Charlotte try to escape, they are sent to see Marvin, someone with the power of mind control.

Tobias and Charlotte think that their father left them, but he actually felt so bad about leaving the kids on the side of the road. After turning around and heading back for them, he gets is a car wreck and gets amnesia. He cannot remember who he is or that he has any children. Tobias and Charlotte must safe themselves before they forget who they really are. 

The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall 288 pages

Arthur Owens is given 120 hours of community service after he threw a brick at the Junk Man. His community service must be completed by helping the local trash picker. When Arthur reports for his Saturday of helping the Junk Man, he is given a shopping cart and a list of the Seven Most Important Things: glass bottles, foil, cardboard, pieces of wood, light bulbs, coffee cans, and mirrors. Arthur cannot believe that he was sentenced to digging in other people’s trash cans.

While gathering the items, Arthur learns that the Junk Man is more than just his junk. He takes all the items that Arthur collects and is turning it into an amazing piece of art. When Arthur learns of the Junk Man’s poor health, Arthur promises to keep the structure from being destroyed. Arthur and best friend Squeak, do everything they can by setting out coffee cans for donations. When a museum offers to take the structure, Arthur and Squeak are glad that everyone can now see the amazing art by the Junk Man.

This was read by Nick Podehl.