Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Lake Hous by Kate Morton, 494 pages

Detective Constable Sadie Sparrow is on a month's forced leave from the London Police because she got too close to a murder case.

She goes to Cornwall to visit her grandfather and stumbles on an abandoned manor house and a 70 year old mystery. 

The novel weaves between 1911, the early 1930s and 2003.  A story of war, tragedy and suspense unfolds.  Quite the satisfying read.

Atchison Blue: A Search for Silence, a Spiritual Home, and a Living Faith by Judith Valente, 181 pages

My sister lent me this book.  I am happy to say you can also check it out from the library.  Judith Valente has spent a lot of time at Mount St. Scholastica monastery in Atchison, Kansas.  I have been to Atchison many times since moving to St. Joseph, but never visited Mount St. Scholastica.

This is a memoir of Judith Valente's time at the monastery with the sisters, and her struggles to be a better person.

It was a lovely little read and I really do need to visit someday . . .

Monday, September 18, 2017

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley 316 pages

Ada and her brother Jamie life in a tiny flat in London with their mother.  It is right before WWII is really getting going, Hitler is threatening Europe, but hasn't invaded yet.  Ada, who is 10, has never stepped foot outside her flat.  Her mother forbids it, saying that Ada is a disgrace because of her club foot.  She is horribly abusive to both children, especially Ada.  When children are evacuated out of London, Ada forces herself to leave the only room she's ever known.  She and Jamie end up with Susan in a smaller village by the sea.  Ada falls in love with the resident pony, Butter and learns that she has much more to offer the world than simply sitting by a window and wishing for better.  This was a heartbreaking book, you kept wanting to tell Ada that she was misunderstanding, that she was not bad or stupid, but the book never cheated.  It was told from Ada's perspective, which added the majority of heartbreak to the story.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  I absolutely loved it!  It is a nominee for the Mark Twain Award this year.  I listened to it on audio read by Jayne Entwistle, who did a wonderful job bringing so much warmth and believable voice to all the characters.

Ghost Story by Peter Straub 483 pages

This is classic horror at its best.  I finally got around to reading it, because in researching horror trivia, it kept coming up as a must read.  I'm very glad I did!  This was one of those books that was difficult to stop reading...chapter breaks or not.  I found myself staying awake far later than I should to carry on with it.  A group of older men has a club called the Chowder Society.  They get together in their finery and tell each other ghost stories.  They are driven to tell these stories, but they share a terrible secret from their youth.  It seems the past is coming to haunt them and people in their tiny New England town begin dropping like flies.  There were some wonderfully spooky bits and some downright terrifying.  I highly recommend this one to anyone who loves a good horror story, especially ghostly.  It's dated, but still holds up really well.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Witherwood Reform School by Obert Skye 231 pages

Well, this story proves that sometimes you don't get the happy ending you want from a children's book.  Poor Charlotte and Tobias have found themselves trapped at Witherwood Reform School.  It wasn't their fault...well, okay, there were the tadpoles in the gravy, but honestly...did they really deserve this?  Witherwood is awful.  Backbreaking chores, frightening staff, deadly animals in the garden, these are all most distressing. But they don't even get pillows on which to rest their heads at night!  Well, Tobias is determined to break out.  With luck, he and his sister will escape, track down their dad and live happily ever after.  Too bad luck seems to be in short supply these days.  I highly recommend this book to 4th graders and up.  It's funny, and like the blues, it kind of makes you realize your own situation isn't so bad after all.

Tuesday Club Murders by Agatha Christie 256 pages

The Tuesday Club Murders is a collection of short stories, but the premise is pretty fun.  A group of people get together for dinner, one of them a former Scotland Yard detective, and the conversation turns to murder.  Miss Marple is there with her nephew and no one really thinks much about the fact.  They decide to make a game of the murder talk.  They introduce particularly baffling mysteries and take turns trying to solve them with the clues at hand.  Only the one telling the story knows the truth, but Miss Marple unerringly arrives at the correct answer every single time.  Shocked and a bit amused, the group must acknowledge that hers is a mind you wouldn't want to try to match wits with.  Later in the book, a new group is gathered, with much the same outcome.  Then an actual murder occurs and Miss Marple knows, just knows, who the killer is, but can't prove it.  Never fear, she has friends in high places and justice will be served.  Joan Hickson read this audiobook.  It was quite enjoyable.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Beartown by Fredrik Backman (translated by Neil Smith), 432 pages

Swedish author Fredrik Backman is one of my favorite authors.  He tends to write sweet tales about eccentric characters who find love and validation through friends.  That is not this book.

Beartown is a dying town deep in a forest and they have one point of pride - the hockey club and its various teams.  Something bad happens to someone and the aftermath threatens to destroy the club and the town.

Yowza, this was brutal and powerful.  Racism, rape, bullying and peer pressure are all explored.  I loved this in a whole different way from my normal awe of Fredrik Backman.  We have this in print, ebook and on audio at the library, and if I have my way we'll have it as a book club selection soon too.

Dangerous Minds by Janet Evanovich, 319 pages

This is book #2 in Evanovich's new Knight & Moon series.  The series name refers to the two main characters, eccentric gazillionaire Emerson Knight and his Girl Friday, Riley Moon.

In this outing they are trying to find an island stolen from Knights' friend, Wayan Bagus, a Buddhist monk.  It turns out the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service, in particular, might have something to do with the island's theft and later disappearance.

The book never really caught my attention, but I slugged through.  I think Evanovich might have phoned this one in from her own tropical island escape.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley 292 pages

Micah has grown up listening to his grandpa Ephraim's stories about Circus Mirandus.  That's why even though his grandfather is seriously ill, he has lots of hope.  Circus Mirandus wasn't just an ordinary circus, it was magic.  In fact, one of its performers is the most magical person Micah can imagine.  The Light Bender was the highlight of all of Grandpa Ephraim's stories.  The best part, the part that gives Micah hope is that the Light Bender owes his grandpa a miracle.  They just have to find him before it's too late for the miracle to matter.  This story is so beautiful.  It was unexpected and heartbreaking, but also so much fun.  You will love Micah and his grandfather, you will hope right along with them that the Light Bender comes in time.  More than anything, you will strain to hear the music composed of pipes and drums calling you to magic.

I listened to this on audio read by Bronson Pinchot.  It was wonderful.

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks 216 pages

Ravi has just moved to the US from India.  In India, he was a bit of a star at his school.  He was an exceptional student and gifted athlete.  He has high expectations for how brightly he will shine in his new school.  However, his teacher can't understand him.  And his classmates laugh at him.  He is still confident that all he really needs is a friend.  He's sure that the coolest kid in class, also Indian, but born in America, will see his worth and everything will be fine.  Unfortunately, there's more to the cool kid than first meets the eye.

Joe has gone to the same school since Kindergarten.  For most of that, he's been pretty miserable.  He has been picked on and struggled with a learning/hearing difference.  Fifth grade is looking even less promising than any other now that his mother has taken a job as lunch monitor.  As if this wasn't all bad enough, his only two friends moved away.  The coolest kid in class finds delight in tormenting Joe.

This story spans just the first week of school for these two boys.  If they recognize they have a common enemy and learn to appreciate one another, it might work out.

This was such an amazing story.  I loved the two main characters and really enjoyed listening to it on audiobook.  Chapters alternated between the two boys' perspectives and handled both of them wonderfully.  I highly recommend this for anyone who likes real life stories.

Restart by Gordon Korman 243 pages

How much of who we are is by design and how much is by influence?  We may never really know.  This book was an interesting look at that very subject.  A boy who has literally terrorized a school, so much so that one of his classmates had to move to a boarding school to escape the torment, takes a serious tumble and ends up with amnesia.  He doesn't know his parents or his friends.  He also doesn't know himself.  He doesn't remember the terrible things he's done, he doesn't understand why people at school give him lots of space when they see him coming.  Slowly he learns about some of the horrible things he's done and can't square that Chase with the Chase he has become.  Worse, there are people who would rather he returned to being the brutish thug he'd been.  A new circle of friends (former victims) and his family hope he can hold on to who he is at his core, this new Chase who hates the things he did in his old life.  As his memories start to return and his friends try to rope him into misdeeds, it becomes difficult to know how to steer himself through his new existence.  This was such a fascinating story.  It brings the nature vs. nurture question to the forefront and also makes one wonder what makes a bully.  I recommend this for all ages and think it would be a great book for a classroom discussion.

Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor 335 pages

St. Mary's is full of historians.  Sounds drab to some, I'm sure.  However, these historians aren't your stuffed shirt, elbow patch stereotypes.  In fact, they are a highly trained, physically powerful crew who put themselves in danger with every research project they are assigned.  Why?  Because they use time travel to study history.  Max is new to the facility, but she's well suited to it.  Right up until sabotage and double crossing can make the whole thing fall apart.  This book was so well written.  The dialogue was fast and smart, and the story itself was highly engaging.  I recommend this to folks who love science fiction with humor.  History buffs might like it, too...but don't get hung up on the accuracy!  It's great if you just want to jump on and enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Alphabet Sisters by Monica McInerney, 437 pages

The "Alphabet Sisters" is the story of three estranged sisters and their grandmother who finagles them back in the same room again by demanding they attend her 80th birthday party.

Set in Australia, it is the story of the sisters relationship with each other and the men in their lives.  It is also the story of the sisters being on their own for the three years they didn't speak and how that changed them.

This book was okay but I would have been happier if it ended 100 pages earlier than it did.  

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett 389 pages

If you've ever read any Pratchett, I don't need to tell you that you'll enjoy this book.  With his usual wit and vivid writing, he tells the story of Polly.  Polly is a young woman who lives in a war torn country.  Not many people are left to join the army, Polly's brother joined up some time ago and has never returned.  Many of the men who do return, don't come back whole.  It's a real mess and Polly is very worried about her brother.  There's nothing for it but to pretend to be a man and join the army herself.  Remarkably, there's a whole set of new recruits lining up the day she goes to sign up.  It becomes less surprising how there were so many young "men" still around to join pretty soon, though.  If you liked Mulan, you'll love this!  Pratchett does an excellent job of writing female characters with depth and range, too.  It's so refreshing!  

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie 194 pages

This Agatha Christie title is quite unusual.  For one thing, there is no detective.  It was a one-off.  A group of people are invited to an island for a weekend under different pretexts.  They don't know one another, or their hosts, for that matter.  Upon arrival, they find that their hosts are mysteriously absent, with a message mentioning a delay.  After dinner, a record is placed upon a gramophone, the voice booming out a list of charges against everyone in attendance.  Every one of them in the group is accused of murder in one form or another.  Then a dangerous game begins as one after another is mysteriously killed.  At first, it is suspected to be an accident or suicide, but soon enough, they realize they are sharing the island with a ruthless killer, bent on meting out a sort of revenge or justice against them all.  This book ends significantly differently from the movie and in many ways is more satisfying for it.  It is amazing how many other movies and books have used this set up.  I highly recommend it.  I listened to it on audio read by Hugh Fraser, who always does such a great job with Christie titles.

Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie 220 pages

I listened to this classic read by the ever exceptional David Suchet.  Poirot is staying on an island for holiday.  Of course a range of characters abound, dropping hints and suggestions all along.  In this story, the lovely victim is envied by many, reviled by more and there is no shortage to suspects.  Rest assured, the incomparable Hercule Poirot will be able to sort it out, using only his little grey cells.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman 162 pages

In preparation for a cosplay of Other Mother, I listened to Coraline read by Neil Gaiman.  What a treat!  Coraline is an average girl, she enjoys wandering around outside and watching nature, she likes exploring inside, too.  In her new home, she finds a door that covers a brick wall, but is always locked.  Not one to leave a mystery unchecked...and hearing mysterious noises from beyond the door, she steals the key and opens the door.  The brick wall is gone, replaced by a hallway, incredibly old and pulsing with magic.  This hall leads to her "other" home, with her other mother, and other father and other neighbors and other resident animals.  Nothing is quite the same, some is quite distressing and all Coraline wants is to return to her real mother and father.  Other Mother won't hear of such nonsense and punishes Coraline.  In her temporary prison, she discovers ghosts of other children.  Coraline is determined to not only return home, but to rescue the ghost children and her parents all at once.  I highly recommend this story. It's just creepy enough and I love listening to Neil Gaiman read his own stuff.  By the way, the cosplay turned out great!

The Fix by David Baldacci, 432 pages

"The Fix" is book #3 in Baldacci's Amos Decker series.  Amos and his FBI crew are back.  This time, instead of working on a cold case, they work to solve a murder that happened right in front of Amos.  The team ends up in an uneasy alliance with an agent from the Defense Intelligence Agency as they all work together to solve the crime, or do they?

I enjoyed listening to this book.  It was a thriller that kept me entertained throughout.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Camino Island by John Grisham, 290 pages

Camino Island is off the Florida coast and home to a charismatic book store owner who may also deal in stolen rare books a bit on the side.

This is a slight departure for John Grisham in that this is not a legal thriller, though it is still a thriller. 

This is a great summer read.  It's pretty light, has a story that clips along and there is an ending the wraps up the story nicely.  Not Grisham's most thrilling, but it is fun.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Dear Reader by Mary O'Connell, 295 pages

Flannery Fields' favorite teacher doesn't show up for school one day. Miss Sweeney left behind her purse containing Flannery's favorite book, Wuthering Heights. When Flannery flips through the book and starts to read she realizes it isn't the text of the book but Miss Sweeney's real-time diary showing her that Miss Sweeney is in Manhattan. The normally good girl Flannery skips school to track Miss Sweeney down. Which isn't an easy task. Along the way she meets a boy that Heath who seems eerily familiar. Will she let a handsome stranger distract her from her mission of finding her teacher?
This book is perfect for teens and adults. I think it would pair greatly with the classic that it is based on. It's almost reminiscent of Gilmore Girls...with a hint of Mean Girls. It covers important topics that do need discussed so it'd be great for a mother daughter read.
A friend that hadn't read Wuthering Heights read it and she admitted some of stuff confused her because she wasn't familiar with Wuthering Heights so I highly recommend pairing it with Wuthering Heights if you haven't read it (or at least watch a movie version. There's a version starring Tom Hardy. *swoon*).

The Past by Tessa Hadley, 362 pages

This is a book club book for the library.  Some of the book club members didn't like it.  Not much happens.  It's about four adult siblings, three sisters and one brother, who spend three weeks at their grandparents house in the English countryside.  The group has to decide if they are going to keep the house or sell it. 

I liked the family dynamics and one dramatic part in the book, okay really, one line saved the whole thing for me. 

So, if someone is looking for a mostly calm, well written book with not a whole lot of action then this just might be the book for you.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, 343 pages

I listened to this book that was read by lots of people and many whom I recognized from Hollywood or other books I've listened to.  The story tells the tale of tale of the night after Willie Lincoln's burial in the Georgetown cemetery. 

Not surprisingly, Willie and his father, President Abraham Lincoln, are both struggling with Willie's death.  It was an interesting book.  And while I didn't love it I am glad I read it.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Kids of Appetite by David Arnold, 331 pages

It starts in two interrogation rooms at the Hackensack Police Department...

In one room sits Vic (short for Victor).Two years ago, Vic's father died of cancer. Two years later, Vic is still missing him so much it hurts. So on a fateful evening in early December, when Vic storms out of his house, he takes his father's urn with him. In doing so, he sets in motion a quest that will lead him to closure, friends, the girl of his dreams, and a murder.

In the other sits Mad (short for Madeline). Her uncle has just been murdered.

As Vic and Mad tell their stories (or avoid telling their stories), they unpack the events of the past eight days. In sentences that read like poetry, author David Arnold shows us all the ways Vic and Mad overlap. If Vic and Mad were a Venn diagram, their overlap would be the truth. And it's the truth that protects the innocent.

The writing is spectacular. Arnold's sentences read like poems, and there is plenty of deep stuff that will leave you contemplating your place in the universe, and the universe itself. There are some places where the plot doesn't quite work, but all in all, the writing helps you suspend your disbelief. I highly recommend this book.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman, 522 pages

This is a collection of author Neil Gaiman's selected speeches, introductions to books, essays and articles.  It starts with an homage to books and libraries and includes other various topics like authors past and present, music, storytelling, comics, bookshops, travel, fairy tales, America, inspiration and ghosts.

I listened to the book, which was read by the author himself.  It provides wonderful insight into his smart and creative brain.  Very enjoyable and I added several books and authors to my "to be read" list

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, 462 pages

Loved. This. Book.  Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest for life in 1922 due to a seditious poem.  He is sentenced to live in the same luxury hotel he has been living in for four years, but is moved from his suite to small servants quarters.

Alexander is in his early 30s when he is sentenced and quite a man of the world.  We follow his life for the next 30 years or so, all lived out in the hotel.  The book is full of friendship, love, coping, humor and a cast of wonderful characters. 

I listened to the book, which was read by Brit Nicholas Guy Smith.  Pure heaven.  I stopped listening for a few days because I didn't want it to end.  Alas, I had to finish it because ultimately, I had to know how it ended. 

Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst, 278 pages

In the mood for a bit of psychological thriller?  Interested in a book about the autism spectrum?  Like a good family story?  This book has all that and more.

The story unfolds from the perspective of three characters: Alexandra (mom), Tilly (on the spectrum) and Iris (Tilly's sister).  Alexandra and Josh, parents to Tilly and Iris, are looking for help with raising Tilly the best way possible.  They think the find the answer in Scott Bean, who has a blog about how to have a harmonious family with a child on the autism spectrum.  Scott Bean has the idea of starting Camp Harmony, a camp where families will spend a week, learning how to better interact with each other.

Alexandra, Josh and the girls leave their life and head to Camp Harmony to help start the camp with two other families, along with Scott.  Unfortunately, things end up being not so harmonious at the camp . . .

Monday, June 5, 2017

Hidden Figures: The Untold True Story of Four African American Women Who Helped Launch Our Nation into Space by Margo Lee Shetterly, 240 pages

The hit movie "Hidden Figures" is based on the book "Hidden Figures" and I listened to the Young Readers Edition because that is what we had available through MissouriLibraries2Go.

A little known fact is that the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics based in Langley, Virginia recruited women during WWII to work as mathematicians, known as computers.  NACA also recruited black women to be computers.

This is the true story of four of those black women, who were all brilliant mathematicians, and their journey at NACA, which became NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick 400 pages

Britt has been training to hike the Teton Range over spring break with her best friend Korbie. Britt knew that Korbie's boyfriend Bear was going to join them, but she was unprepared for Korbie's brother, Calvin who is Britt's ex-boyfriend. As Britt and Korbie head up to the mountain, they get stuck in a snow storm in the middle of the road. The girls decide to get out and look for help. They come across a cabin where two men are staying. At first, they seem like they are going to help until the hold the girls hostage. Britt is forced become their guide off the mountain. Britt must do what she has to, to survive. She tries to escape, but is caught by Mason. When they walk back to the cabin where they were staying, Britt sees Calvin kill her other kidnapper. Britt just thinks that Calvin is worried about her and will do anything to find her. But when Britt arrives to Korbie's and Calvin's family cabin, learns a secret while on the  her in more danger than before. Who will make it off the mountain alive?  

The Stars of Summer by Tara Dairman 352 pages

Gladys Gatsby is turning twelve and for her birthday, she receives a counselor-in-training position at the day camp in town from her friend Charissa. Gladys did not envision her summer at day camp. She would rather be at the library looking through cookbooks or thinking about her next restaurant review for the New York Standard. At least she gets to work in the kitchen, however, she and the cook have opposite views on good food. So while Gladys is dealing with the camp cook, she learns that her next review is to find the best hotdog in New York. How is Gladys supposed to visit all the different hotdog vendors in New York and still make her deadline with her editor?

This was read by Kathleen McInerney. 

All Fall Down by Ally Carter 320 pages

When Grace was thirteen, she witnessed the death of her mother. Everyone believes that she died because of a fire, but Grace is adamant that her mother was killed by a man with a scarred face. When Grace moves to Embassy Row to live with her grandfather, she believes that she has found her mother's killer, but no one believes her. Not her grandfather, her new friends, or Alexei, the boy Russian boy next door. When Grace starts to follow the scarred man, she discovers things about herself that she is not ready to face. Grace confronts her grandfather but he keeps declaring that her mother's death was an accident. She finally learns the truth about her mother's death. 

This was read by Eileen Stevens. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman, 324 pages

Britt-Marie first turned up in another Fredrik Backman book "My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry."  She was the fussy neighbor who never had anything nice to say and was not very likeable.

Fredrik Backman specializes in writing about curmudgeonly people with a heart of gold.  These folks might not have family that consists of relatives, but by the end of the book, they have family that consists of people who love and appreciate them. 

Britt-Marie had to leave home to find her place and that family, but she does so with satisfying results.  Verdict: heartwarming, sweet and uplifting; another winner from Swedish author Fredrik Backman. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Eagle's Quill by Sarah L. Thomson 224 pages

After finding Benjamin Franklin's original key that he discovered lightning with, Sam, Marty, and Theo are headed to Glacier National Park in search of their second Founding Fathers' key. They are lead to a Montana Ranch in search of Thomas Jefferson's quill that he used to sign the Declaration of Independence. Not far behind them is Gideon Arnold, who kidnaps their chaperone and the ranch owners. Sam, Marty, and Theo must work together with Abby, the daughter of the ranchers. In order to get the adults back, the group must find the quill and give it to Gideon. They enter the wilderness where they encounter a bear, a mountain lion, and the waterfall. Will they be able to find the quill and keep everyone save? Again, this was another fast read with interesting historical facts. 

The Eureka Key by Sarah L. Thomson 240 pages

Sam is a master at puzzles. When he wins a contest, Sam learns that he will get to travel across America for the summer. What Sam didn't know is that he would be taking this trip with Martina, a history buff, and Theo, a descendant of George Washington. Sam was recruited to help solve puzzles and clues that were left behind by the Founding Fathers of America. The Founding Fathers left seven keys that will unlock an invention created by Benjamin Franklin, a secret weapon that would help defend the U.S. While Sam, Marty, and Theo are looking for their first key in Death Valley, they come across a group of thugs who are working for Gideon Arnold, a descendant of Benedict Arnold. Together, Sam, Marty, and Theo must work together to make it out of a secret cave while searching for the key. This book is a fast read and reminds me of National Treasure

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Rules by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie 352 pages

The best of Callabrese High have come together for a final scavenger hunt put on by August DeYoung and he wants to make sure that it is one that they remember. August believes that many of the invitees played a part in his sister's death and he wants them to admit to it. Secrets are coming to light when the teens start completing their tasks. But after a while, players start turning up dead. After witnessing a fellow player being pushed out of a loft from a hangman's noose, the remaining members of the scavenger hunt learn that they are playing by the rules of someone else's game. They have to break the rules to survive but can they make it out alive?

This was read by Robbie Daymond and follows multiple point of views.

Twisted by Hannah Jayne 320 pages

Bex Andrews is moved across the state of North Carolina to escape her past of being Beth Anne Reimer, a daughter of a serial killer. Beth Anne was seven years old when her father went on the run from the law, leaving her with her grandmother. In Raleigh, Beth Anne was picked on by other kids and was called a murderer like her father. When Bex moves to Kill Devil, she wants no one to know about her past. She has become a normal girl with two foster parents who treat her like their own and friends. She is afraid to let them know who she really is, because she knows that they will hate her like everyone else has. But you can never really escape your past and there are girls turning up murdered. Bex is approached by Detective Schuster, who she knew back in Raleigh. Detective Schuster wants Bex to reach out to her father and bring him out off hiding. Bex takes to the internet and is approached by her father. Her father is in Kill Devil and wants to take Bex with him and run away again. Who should Bex trust her father or Detective Schuster? 

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy, 295 pages

This is one of those books that has a story happening now (2007 in the United States) and then (1945 in Germany.)  Then details the life of Elsie Schmidt, who is 17, working in her family bakery in the middle of Nazi Germany.  Now mostly focuses on Reba, a reporter who meets Elsie and her daughter Jane.  Reba comes to Elsie's German Bakery to get a feel-good Christmas story about Christmas in Germany.

Most World War II related books I read tell the story of the Holocaust or life in England during the war.  This told the story from the perspective of Germans and their lives under Nazi propaganda and rule.  It also had a nice juxtaposition dealing with modern life and illegal immigration in America.  When do we get passes for how we treat people?  This is a book club book for the library this year and I am looking forward to our discussion.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Dare by Hannah Jayne 288 pages

Erica was Brynna's best friend. When Brynna dares Erica to jump off the pier into the ocean, Erica never resurfaces. Brynna blames herself and she goes off the deep end into drinking and drugs. After wrecking her mother's car, Brynna is sent to rehab. Brynna's parents feel that a move is what is best for Brynna. Brynna decides to stay off the radar at her new school, but plans change when she meets Evan on the first day. For the first 6 weeks of school, Brynna thought she could be normal again. All of a sudden, Brynna receives a tweet from Erica, asking if Brynna remembers her. How can she receive a tweet from a dead girl? Brynna is convinced that Erica is alive. So much that she is driving herself crazy. Is Brynna crazy or is Erica really alive? And if it isn't Erica, then who is terrorizing Brnna?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

What Waits in the Woods by Kieran Scott 228 pages

Callie and her two friends go on a camping trip for 5 days in the woods. Callie's boyfriend Jeremy tags along, even though it was supposed to be a girls-only camping trip. Callie is a city girl and this is her first time camping. When Penelope and Lissa tell her the tale of the Skinner, Callie freaks out. Why would these girls bring her on a trip, when there is a killer in the woods? Ever since then, Callie believes that someone is following them. After getting lost on the trails, the group comes across a stranger, Ted, who agrees to help them. Strange things start to happen, Callie helps hearing a laughter, 5 dolls appear in the fire pit, and they have even seen a figure moving in the trees. When Lissa comes up dead, no one knows who they can trust. Will Callie make it out of the woods alive and will the killer be found?   

Friday, May 12, 2017

In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem and Fun in the Sandbox, 288 pages

I am a fan of Carol Burnett and try to listen to all of her books.  This book is about the 11-year run of her musical variety show The Carol Burnett Show.

She lovingly tells stories about the cast, crew, guest stars and sketches.  I listened to this book, which I recommend, because included are interviews from actors Vickie Lawrence, Harvey Korman, Tim Conway and costume designer Bob Mackie, among others.

Carol Burnett is good people and this book was totally enjoyable. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Pants Project by Cat Clarke 267 pages

Liv is 11 years old.  Liv is starting a new school.  A school with a very strict dress code, including that girls must wear skirts.  There's one big problem with this.  Liv is not a girl.  Finding a way to tell her moms that she is trans is hard enough without discovering that her best friend is more interested in being popular than being her friend anymore.  One thing that Liv absolutely cannot let go is getting the stupid dress code changed.  Why can't people dress in the clothes that make them feel like themselves?  Liv finds unlikely friends and the end of the book is not just hopeful, but really lovely.  The nice thing about this book was that, while it dealt with the issue of transgender, it wasn't so unrealistically optimistic as Gino's George.  This had a much more believable timeline for its characters.  I loved it.  I thought that Liv was a truly cool and strong character, and I appreciated the message that we are who we are and that's something we should all appreciate.

The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan 401 pages

Yikes.  If you don't like horror, don't read this book!  I got almost halfway through it several years ago and had to stop because it was giving me nightmares.  No joke.  It was really good, though, so I wanted to finish it and finally made the effort.  I only read it at lunch, at work.  It was still very unsettling.  This is not your average vampire novel.  It is desperate and terrifying and the vampires are not even remotely sexy, so forget that nonsense.  I'm pretty proud of myself for making it all the way through, but I don't know how soon I'll be able to tackle the sequels!  I highly recommend this to people who love to not be able to sleep at night.

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos 341 pages

"In the historic town of Norvelt, Pennsylvania, twelve-year-old Jack Gantos spends the summer of 1962 grounded for various offenses until he is assigned to help an elderly neighbor with a most unusual chore involving the newly dead, molten wax, twisted promises, Girl Scout cookies, underage driving, lessons from history, typewriting, and countless bloody noses."

This book has a lot of appeal for a wide audience.  It won the Newbery Award a few years ago for good reason.  It's like opening a time capsule and being able to vicariously experience a childhood that would be completely unimaginable these days.  Gantos has such a believable voice, and his characters, while bigger-than-life, are not absurd or out of the realm of possibility.  I really enjoyed this book.  I think it will appeal strongly to boys of all ages and most girls, too.

Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore 335 pages

At the end of the first book, Charlie Asher (beta male death merchant) finds himself without a body.  No worries, his new girlfriend has a solution...of sorts.  This book finds the death merchants in a state of unusual inactivity.  It seems the need to collect souls died with the Morrigan in the first book.  You know that's not going to hold for long though.  With his characteristic whimsy and goofiness, Christopher Moore turns phrases that will make you laugh out loud.  While I confess that I liked the first book better, I still really enjoyed this one and hope that someday Christopher Moore hires me to be his proofreader so that I get to read all his stuff without the irritating wait for it to hit the shelves.

True Son by Lana Krumwiede 277 pages

This was the final book in the Psi Chronicles trilogy.  One thing that really bummed me out about the Hunger Games books was that there was a LOT of murder and despair.  This series, in contrast, had a lot more hope and problem solving.  Taemon finds himself taking a lead role for his community.  He will need to use all his intelligence and heart to determine a path that will save his people from war, or worse, complete annihilation.  Fortunately for everyone, he has no shortage of either.  I highly recommend this entire series to anyone who enjoys dystopian, but is pretty much over the hopeless and desperate direction it tends to go.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg, 402 pages

The Whole Town's Talking tells the story of the citizens of Elmwood Springs, Missouri, somewhere not too far from Joplin.

The story begins in the 1880s with Lordor Nordstrom, the founder of the little community of Swedish immigrants.  By the time the story ends it is 2021 and we've learned the life and death stories of generations of community members, along with the life and death of the community itself.

I am not often a reader of gentle fiction and I would put this book in that category, but I do enjoy Fannie Flagg.  I doubt someone less than 40 would enjoy the story, but since I breezed by that a decade ago, I was good.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Naturals Series (The Naturals, Killer Instinct, All In, and Bad Blood) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 1,472 pages

Cassie is considered a "Natural". At seventeen, Cassie is recruited to the Naturals program in the FBI, to become a profiler. Cassie is assigned to help with cold cases. She moves into a house with four other kids in Quantico, Virginia. Everyone has something that they are good at. Michael can read people's emotions, Lia is a human lie detector, Sloane is great with numbers and statistics and Dean, like Cassie, can read people. 

Cassie recognizes that a serial killer is killing women that look similar to her mother. Soon, Cassie is being targeted by that killer. It turns out that Cassie mentor, is her mother's younger sister as well as the killer. Soon, Cassie and the others are soon given active cases that tends to put them in dangerous situations. As the books progress, Cassie learns more about her mother's murder. 

These books had me hooked within the first chapter. These books are intense and they get into the minds of serial killers. I had a hard time putting them down. Heck, I read the first 3 books within a week! If you like the t.v. show Criminal Minds, this is book series for you. 

The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein 329 pages

Zac and his family move to his father's hometown. On their property is a tree that has a mean-hearted spirit. Fifty years ago, Clint ran a bus off the road killing everyone but one person. Since then, their spirits have haunted the town of North Chester. It is up to Zac and his new step-mother, Judy, to rid the town of Clint's spirit. 

When I first heard of Chris Grabenstein, I only thought that he wrote funny books, but I was wrong. When I met him back in March, I learned that he also wrote ghost stories. I was excited to see another side of Chris Grabenstein. The Crossroads was a hard book to put down. 

The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 400 pages

Tess Kendrick has lived with her grandfather ever since her parents died, but when he gets dementia, Tess is sent to live with her older sister, Ivy. Tess has no idea that her sister is the famed "fixer" of Washington, D.C., however, when she school at Hardwicke, she soon learns what it means to be a fixer. After Tess helps a girl with her problem, everyone starts coming to Tess for help. 

When a Supreme Court Justice dies in surgery, Tess's friend Vivvie comes to Tess and to confess that she believes that her father killed him. Tess brings Ivy into the investigation and secrets start coming to light. When Tess is kidnapped by a secret service agent, she learns her biggest truth yet - Ivy is really her mom. Ivy exchanges herself for Tess and Tess must make a deal with the devil to get her back. 

If you like the t.v. show Scandal, you will like this book. 

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry 224 pages

The first thing that Cady hears when she wakes up is "take her out back and finish her off." She has no idea who she is, where she is, and why someone is wanting to kill her. Cady is able to overcome one of her kidnappers and makes a run for it. When Cady learns that she is from Portland, Oregon, she decides to head there with her savior turned companion, Ty. 

When Cady meets a woman posing as her aunt, she learns the real reason why she was kidnapped. Cady's parents work for a bio-tech company that works with viruses. They learn that the company is creating a virus that could harm many people unless they can pay for the antidote. When Cady's parents decide to expose them, the company tries to keep them quiet. Will Cady be able to save her parents and will her memory come back? 

This was read by Cristina Panfilio. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 400 pages

Claire is a girl that nobody ever notices. She has spent her whole life invisible, even her parents have forgotten her at times. Nix is a Nobody, a boy who was raised as an assassin because he blends into everywhere. When Nix is assigned to kill Claire, he thought she would be is twelfth kill. What Nix did not expect was that Claire could see him, even when he was in the fade. Nix cannot follow through with hit. When he realizes that the Society sent more people after Claire, Nix decides to take Claire to a cabin in the woods. Nix realizes that some of his kills were of Normals, instead of Nulls (psychopaths). Nix starts to learn more about the Society that changes how he views things. Can Nix help save Claire from the Society or will he be their next victim?