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? 

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender 304 pages

Collette cannot wait to be in Paris, Francis. She'll be spending the next nine days sight seeing with her French class. When the class gets to France, they learn about series of gruesome murders, where people are losing their heads. As Collette moves around Paris, she keeps seeing a pale woman in the a ball gown and a powdered wig. She figures out the figure that she is seeing is Marie Antionette. Collette learns of her family's connection to Paris. Collette is a descendant of Mario Antionette's closest friend, a member of the group who brought Marie Antionette to her beheading. The queen's ghost is ready to strike again, but she is leaving the worst for Collette - she must lose her heart, before the queen takes her head. Can Collette make it out of Paris alive? 

This was read by Elea Oberon and Erin Spencer.