Monday, November 20, 2017

I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll 287 Pages

I Am Watching You is the first novel I’ve read by Teresa Driscoll, and it did not disappoint. I was hooked from page one, and found myself reading a chapter here and there, every chance I could. The way that Driscoll switched between characters for every chapter had me on the edge of my seat the entire book, and the way she would end each chapter had me reading as fast as I could so I could get to that particular character's next chapter. And to top it all off... you will never see this ending coming. 

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick, 331 pages

This sweet little tale tells the story of 69 year-old Arthur Pepper and the physical and emotional journey he embarks on a year after he is widowed.

He begins the story feeling helpless, abandoned and alone.  By the end, Arthur has come into his own.  He finds he is not helpless, not abandoned and not alone.

This would be a great book to read during the frenzy of the holidays.  Need to relax?  Sit down, pour a cup of tea, and embark on a journey with our friend Arthur.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, 286 pages

The Owens women are witches and unlucky in love.  So it has been for over 200 years.  Two young sisters lose their parents and move across the country to be raised by two elderly aunts they've never met.  Thus begins Alice Hoffman's "Practical Magic."

I missed the book the first time around and read it after reading the excellent prequel, "The Rules of Magic."  Both are entertaining chick lit reads.  I'm glad I went back and read this one, though my heart remains with the Rules.  It was great fun to see how Alice Hoffman has matured as a writer between the 1995 publication of "Practical Magic" and the 2017 publication of "The Rules of Magic."

The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein 329 pages

Chris Grabenstein is well-known for his Mr. Lemoncello series and for working with James Patterson on books like I, Funny.  You can imagine my surprise, then, that he could be such an effective and chilling horror writer.  This story is still very accessible to children, probably 5th grade and up would be the recommendation, but there were some very spooky bits.  This is the first in a series where the protagonist, Zach Jennings, not only sees ghosts, but interacts with them and solves mysteries with his super cool stepmom.  Grabenstein has proven that he can write exceptional stories for all ages.  I think teens and adults who enjoy a ghost story with personality and lots of atmosphere would enjoy this one, too. 

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling 652 pages

This installment in the Harry Potter series was one of the most fascinating to me.  I loved that they were learning so much about Tom Riddle (the man who became Lord Voldemort) and there was so much scary stuff going on.  It was thoroughly enjoyable...even with the ending it had.  Death is but another adventure to the curious mind.  When you get to the end of this (if you haven't before,) just remember that.  There are worse things to fear than death.  I think Harry understands this better than many and certainly better than Voldemort. Oh, and romance is in the air in this installment, too.  I would put this toward the top of my favorites.  Harry definitely grew as a character at 16.  Such a welcome development after book 5!  I listened to this one read by Jim Dale...still not crazy about the hard t on the end of Voldemort, but enjoyable nonetheless!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor, 322 pages

I happen to love WWII related fiction. I picked this book up thanks to a recommendation from an online book club that I participate in. I was hooked from page one. Alternating chapters with different time periods normally bugs me but it really worked with this story. It's an interesting and intriguing tale about something I hadn't heard of before...stamp engraving. I know it doesn't sound that interesting but I was so fascinated by it.There's an AHA moment in this book. When I got it I texted a co-worker that I wasn't coming to work until I finished the book (I finished in time for work). I also instantly recommended this book to a ton of people. Plus I instantly put it on hold for patrons at my library that I knew would love it. I will definitely read everything this author writes from now.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan 416 pages

This is yet again another novel that made me fall back into love with Scotland. A time where I spent most of my Christmas Break my Sophomore year. With the twist of summer hinting in and out of the book, this made me feel like I was home. An interesting read with a plot line that was so unpredictable and characters that felt like they were my own best friends, left The Cafe by the Sea a novel that I could not put down.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Coraline by Neil Gaimen 208 pages

Initially I saw this movie and was astounded by the amount of production that went into it. I soon learned that the movie was based off of a book (like any movie anymore). I read this only because it was needed for one of my college courses. I ended up loving it. If you are one that is expecting the book to be like the movie, well I won't be the one to make that judgement for ya. But if you love Coraline and the adventures that she goes on in the world - then this book is for you. A feel of suspense of what comes next and yet, excitement for what is yet to come. That's what Coraline really brings you.
Coraline Book Cover

Coraline Movie Poster

The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton 304 pages

The Cracked Spine is just what happened to this book once I was done reading it. It was the best mystery book I have read in a long time (and I don't ever really read mysteries). The setting was one that I loved only because my inner wanderlust was wanting to be in Scotland right next to this shop, in front of a bakery. A mystery that is hard to solve is well worth the read. I cant wait to read the second book in A Scottish Bookshop Series.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill 388 pages

Oh, my goodness!  This was a gorgeous book in every way.  It totally deserved to win the Newbery Award.  I loved that the world, though different from ours, was still accessible and believable... it was just born of magic.  Every year, a baby is left in a clearing for the witch.  The parents have no idea what happens to that baby, but one year, the witch accidentally enmagics the child by feeding her moonlight.  There's too much to tell, but I guarantee you will fall in love with Glerk, Xan, Fyrian and Luna.  This book had an extraordinary story to tell with a simply enormous amount of heart.  If you love fantasy, you will adore this one, no matter how old you are.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling 870 pages

Where Goblet of Fire was my favorite, this is easily my least favorite of the HP series.  Harry is riddled with so much teen angst, I just want to slap him most of the time.  Also, knowing what's coming makes it hard to get through.  On top of that, Delores Umbridge is such an overwhelmingly terrible person that the whole book feels like an attack on my psyche.  When I started listening to the series again, I was dreading getting to this book, and now that I'm on the other side of it, I can still say the overall effect is unpleasant enough to still call it my least favorite.  AND my biggest issue with the audiobook is that for some unfathomable reason, Jim Dale started pronouncing Voldemort with the t at the end.  The first four books, he pronounced it with the intended French pronunciation and this was an awkward and unwelcome change.  Sadly, it carries on through the last two books in the same way.  All that being said, my least favorite HP is still way up on my favorite books of all.  Totally worth the teen angst, torture and doom and gloom to experience the whole series. 

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

People argue with me on this a lot, but this is my favorite of the HP series.  I really loved the overall mystery of who had gotten Harry into the Tri-Wizard Tournament, the hints at the return of Voldemort and I thought that Harry was possibly at his most vulnerable in this one.  There was enough realistic friction between characters to be believable that this was a bunch of teenagers we were dealing with.  The end makes me cry like a baby every time, but I still think the ride is worth it. 

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

This is the first book in the series that really starts hinting at just how dark things can get.  Harry is the focus of everyone's concern, because a dangerous criminal has broken out of the wizard prison of Azkaban.  It is assumed that he is coming to finish off Harry, since Voldemort was unable to before.  Of course, things are never quite what they seem.  It's a rough year for Harry, but surprises are in store.  This is one of my favorites of the series, partly because you get to meet Sirius, who is seriously cool and because I love Remus Lupin, also introduced in this book. 

I listened to this read by Jim Dale. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman, 369 pages

I listened to "The Rules of Magic" by checking it out through one of our download services, Axis360. It is the prequel to "Practical Magic" and tells the story of Franny, Bridget and Vincent Owens.  They are raised in New York City by a mother who has rejected her magical background and their logical psychiatrist father.

Franny is called to the family home in Massachusetts the summer she turns 17 and her siblings come along.  During the summer with their Aunt Isabelle, they begin to understand how and why they are different.

The story follows them into adulthood and is an engaging and fun read.  I never read "Practical Magic, " or saw the movie, for that matter.  I will be remedying that tout suite.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham, 352 pages

John Grisham's latest tells the story of three students in their last semester at law school.  They are at a for-profit school that is not preparing them for the difficult bar exam and are deeply in debt.  A fellow law student and friend starts them on the trail of possible fraud related to the school. 

They drop out, begin practicing law without licenses and run into big problems. The protagonists are not very sympathetic, though that didn't stop me from enjoying the book. 

There is an interesting subplot involving illegal immigrants and that plays well with the story and gave the characters an opportunity to not be jerks.  Bottom line: I enjoyed it.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann, 320 pages

In the 1920's the Osage Indians of Oklahoma were quite wealthy.  Their land was oil-rich and they owned the mineral rights.  All was not rosy however.  Dozens of Osage Indians were murdered and somehow those cases couldn't be solved locally.

Finally, the Bureau of Investigation stepped in and found out who was behind at least some of the murders.  The why was easy - greed. 

In the first part of the book, author David Grann explores the story of one of the families whose members were murdered.   The second part details the investigation into the murders by the Bureau of Investigation, which became the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The third part details the authors own investigation into this story, the additional information he found and the closure he was able to provide to some of the families whose relatives were murdered. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling 259 pages

This, the second book in the series, begins to let the reader in on some of Lord Voldemort's history.  Harry returns to Hogwarts in spite of warnings from a mysterious visitor, who claims that danger awaits him.  The alternative is staying with his horrible aunt and uncle, so Harry ignores the warnings.  New professors, new students and new dangers do indeed await the students at Hogwarts.  The Chamber of Secrets, rumored to hold an unspeakable monster, is opened by an unknown person and attacks begin occurring in the halls of Hogwarts.  Harry is suspected of being in league with the monster or responsible for the attacks and he will have to rely on his friends and his wits to solve the mystery, clear his name and hopefully (ha) survive to be the hero once again.  Read by Jim Dale.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling 309 pages

It was time to revisit the Potter-verse.  I always have so much fun going back and listening to these books.  I get new connections to the later books every time.

Harry discovers he's a wizard after living with his non-magical aunt and uncle who treated him quite unkindly for about 10 years.  He's accepted at Hogwarts, a school that educates and trains young witches and wizards, but he begins to suspect all is not well.  This is the first book in the Harry Potter series and is a very fun and engaging start to one of my most beloved series of all time.  I am listening to the whole series on audio read by Jim Dale, who is one of my favorite readers.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz, 294 pages

The book begins with Tanya Dubois on the run because her husband has just died and she can't afford to be around if any difficult questions are asked. 

Through this fast paced story, the true story of Tanya Dubois is revealed, along with the reasons why she ran (it turns out) for the second time.

This is one of the fast, suspenseful books best read in one quick sitting so you don't think too much about the story.  It was a fun, suspenseful romp, with plenty of twists and turns. 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, 224 pages

This little book doesn't advocate not caring about anything.  It advocates that we should pick and choose what we care about instead of being emotionally invested in every darned thing.

There's much more in the book - not all of us are special, happiness is hard work, etc.  It was a nice rah rah book.  I think if I was in my 30s and not my 50s it would have been more life changing.  Mostly, I said "yep" as I listened.  Definitely worth the time it took to listen to it.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman, 304 pages

Neil Gaiman has never disappointed me and his streak is still alive.  I listened to this book, read by the author. 

Norse Mythology is the retelling of many stories about Odin, Thor, Loki and more.  Pretty much all I knew about Norse Mythology I learned from movie trailers.  Neil Gaiman filled in my knowledge gap with his entertaining stories about the Norse gods.

Recommended for anyone who likes Neil Gaiman or mythology. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore, 442 pages

Jane, Unlimited focuses on Jane, who has just dropped out of college after her aunt/guardian's death. While working in the campus bookstore, she runs into her former tutor, the wealthy Kiran Thrash. Before she died, Jane's Aunt Magnolia made her promise that if she was ever invited to Tu Reviens, Kiran's eccentric island home, she would go. When Kiran invites her to a gala her family hosts every year at their house, Jane remembers her promise, packs her things, and goes, and in the process steps into a half dozen mysteries.

Jane must choose which mystery she wants to unravel, and it is that decision that unlocks unlimited possibilities, including quantum mechanics, missing stepmothers, sentient houses, talking dogs, art theft, spies, carefully constructed artistic umbrellas, miniature velociraptors, and pirates dressed like sad clowns.

It is weird, and it is wonderful.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Lake House 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.