Friday, November 29, 2013

The Diamond of Darkhold (Book of Ember #4) by Jeanne DuPrau

Read: November 25-29, 2013
read in 4 days
pages: 285

The Diamond of Darkhold (Book of Ember, #4)

Book blurb:

It's been several months since Lina and Doon escaped the dying city of Ember and, along with the rest of their people, joined the town of Sparks. Lina knows they are lucky to be there, but life aboveground is hard. Instead of opening a can for dinner, they must plant and harvest their food. And while there was no sun or moon in Ember's sky, neither was there rain, sleet, or wind. Now, in the middle of their first winter, Lin finds herself feeling homesick for her old city.

It's during this dark time that Doon finds an unusual book. Torn up and missing most of its pages, it alludes to a mysterious device, a piece of technology from before the Disaster. Doon becomes convinced that the Builders of Ember meant for them to find the device when they left the city, to help them in their new lives. Together, Lina and Doon must go back underground to retrieve what was lost and bring light to a dark world.

In the fourth Book of Ember, bestselling author Jeanne DuPrau juxtaposes yet another action-packed adventure with powerful themes of hope, learning, and the search for truth.

The final book to the series was a nice wrap up of all that had been happening in the series. This was an ending full of hope and shows the wonder of the human spirit and the ability to overcome moments of true darkness. With this final novel we return to Sparks and find Lina and Doon worry once again about the people and their chances of surviving the winter months. They are tired of the struggle and believe there has to be a better way to overcome the hardships they are facing. Once again the two set out to save everyone from disaster and while they bring trouble in their quest they are able to prove they are plenty capable of getting the job done. Overall the series is a nice little escape that proves to be heartwarming as it speaks of hope and of finding the happiness and goodness that is in life. Helps to make you realize that there are hardships in life that are necessary. These are what make life's easy moments so much more happier and special.

The Prophet of Yonwood (Book of Ember #3) by Jeanne DuPrau

Read: November 23-24, 2013
read in two days
pages: 289

The Prophet of Yonwood (Book of Ember, #3)

Book blurb:

It’s 50 years before the settlement of the city of Ember, and the world is in crisis. War looms on the horizon as 11-year-old Nickie and her aunt travel to the small town of Yonwood, North Carolina. There, one of the town’s respected citizens has had a terrible vision of fire and destruction. Her garbled words are taken as prophetic instruction on how to avoid the coming disaster. If only they can be interpreted correctly. . . .

As the people of Yonwood scramble to make sense of the woman’s mysterious utterances, Nickie explores the oddities she finds around town—her great-grandfather’s peculiar journals and papers, a reclusive neighbor who studies the heavens, a strange boy who is fascinated with snakes—all while keeping an eye out for ways to help the world. Is this vision her chance? Or is it already too late to avoid a devastating war?

In this prequel to the acclaimed The City of Ember and The People of Sparks, Jeanne DuPrau investigates how, in a world that seems out of control, hope and comfort can be found in the strangest of places.

This along with the first book would have to be my favorite in the series. This was removed from the series by 50 years all prior to the City of Ember and was an attempt to show some of the things that lead up to the need for Ember. Although I really expected to read of the actual events that LEAD to the City of Ember instead this book was a really a sanitized version of what may be happening in one little town that is in the grips of the threat of war. This was a bird's eye view of one town and their way of coping with what could be the end of days. I enjoyed the characters in this story a little more than the characters in the rest of the series, but too it could have been that there was a bit of a change of pace in this book and a change of scenery. I can see the need for this book, but think the placement in the series feels a little awkward as it broke up the continuation of what was happening in Sparks.


The People of Sparks (Book of Ember #2) by Jeanne DuPrau

Read: November 17-23, 2013
read: in a week
pages: 338

The People of Sparks (Book of Ember, #2)

Book blurb:

When Lina and Doon lead their people up from the underground city of Ember, they discover a surface world of color and life. The people of a small village called Sparks agree to help the Emberites, but the villagers have never had to share their world before. Soon differences between the two groups escalate, and it's up to Lina and Doon to find a way to avoid war!

In the riveting sequel to the highly acclaimed The City of Ember, Jeanne DuPrau explores the nature of conflict and the strength and courage necessary to overcome it.

While the second book did not pull me in quite the same way the first book had, this book was really good as well. It was a nice continuation of the story and really explores the trouble the people of Ember face when they become part of the city of Sparks. With this book there are more characters introduced than just the Doon and Lina. With this installment more people of Ember as well as people of Sparks become more important to the overall story. All of the characters are nice additions to the story and really round things out adding more perspective and views of things as they happen around Sparks.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Four to Score (Stephanie Plum #4) by Janet Evanovich

Read: November 2-17, 2013
read in 15 days
pages: 313

Four to Score (Stephanie Plum, #4)

Book blurb:

Stephanie Plum, Trenton, New Jersey's favorite pistol-packing, condom-carrying bounty hunter, is back - and on the trail of a revenge-seeking waitress who's skipped bail. With the help of 73-year-old Grandma Mazur, ex-hooker Lula, a transvestite musician named Sally Sweet, and the all-too-hospitable, all-too-sexy Joe Morelli, Stephanie might just catch her woman. Then again, with more mishaps than there are exits on the Jersey Turnpike - including murders, firebombs, and Stephanie's arch-rival bounty hunter chasing after the same fugitive - Stephanie better watch her back big-time if she wants to live to crack this case.

These are just humorous little fluffy books that are fun to read when you want something light that requires no brain power whatsoever to really enjoy. I am getting into the series, but admit so far this was not my favorite of the ones I've read. I did like to see Stephanie and Joe have some time together though finally. The wait was long overdue!!

The City of Ember (Book of Ember #1) by Jeanne DuPrau

Read: November 2, 2013
read in a day
pages: 270

The City of Ember (The Ember Series, #1)

Book blurb:

The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to flicker. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save the city. She and her friend Doon must decipher the message before the lights go out on Ember forever! This stunning debut novel offers refreshingly clear writing and fascinating, original characters.

Wow. I can't believe I was so into this book. I really had no idea what to expect, but I was completely blown away and sucked in. The dystopian aspect was a large part of what sucked me in. I love the idea of someone imagining a world different from ours and creating a whole new place. The characters are great. I loved following Lina around and seeing things through her eyes. This is the classic young children/teens taking on the world around them with little help from adults because the adults just don't see the world the same way the young people do. They attempt to get the adults involved, but are turned away and are even hunted as fugitives who are going against the way of Ember. After finishing this book I couldn't wait to start the next book and to get the whole series. I look forward to seeing just what happens to these people as they explore the new world before them. This is highly recommend especially to those who don't really get into science fiction. This is not heavy on the sci-fi but has just enough touches to get you into that world without being overwhelming.


The Testament by John Grisham

Read: October 18- November 1, 2013
read in what felt forever
pages: 535

The Testament

Book blurb:

In a plush Virginia office, a rich, angry old man is furiously rewriting his will. With his death just hours away, Troy Phelan wants to send a message to his children, his ex-wives, and his minions, a message that will touch off a vicious legal battle and transform dozens of lives.

Because Troy Phelan's new will names a sole surprise heir to his elevan-billion-dollar fortune: a mysterious woman named Rachel Lane, a missionary living deep in the jungles of Brazil.

Enter the lawyers. Nate O'Riley is fresh out of rehab, a disgraces corporate attorney handpicked for his last job: to Rachel Lane at any cost. As Phelan's family circles like vultures in D.C., Nate is crashing through Brazilian jungle, entering a world where money means nothing, where death is just one misstep away, and where a woman-- pursued by enemies and friends alike-- holds a stunning surprise of her own....

This was a good read. It was very long, and took me some time to get into. I tried to leave it at work as something to read on my lunch so I wasn't devoting much time to the novel. It was fairly interesting early on though so it held my attention at first. It lost steam and wasn't until I got to the part with Nate on his search in Brazil that I finally took the book home to see what was going on here. I enjoyed the story until I was beat over the head with the importance of Rachel's missionary work and the importance of not being controlled by greed. The family's excessive nature and concerns with Phelan's money was a nice contrast but I just didn't need the overwhelming morality aspect. This was not the ending I was entirely expecting, but it was a good end to the story. Not sure if I'll read more Grisham, I like the law aspect of his writing I could just really do without the strong emphasis on morals.

Touch by Jennifer Snyder

Read: October 6-7, 2013
read in an couple hours
pages: 74

Touch (Reaper, #1)

Book blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Rowan Harper knows her life is forever changed the moment her schizophrenic mother commits suicide. 

What Rowan doesn't realize is how much her mother’s choice altered her own fate. It’s not until after meeting Jet, a sapphire-eyed dead boy, Rowan begins to learn of her new destiny as becoming her mother’s replacement for something she never knew existed. 

I don't really remember too much of this since it has been a while since I read it. I know it was very short and was frustrated that I got tired and stopped at like 85%, stopped and went to bed then when I started reading again I only had a few more pages. Guess I didn't realize there was a bonus story. Either way I didn't read the bonus story because the story I read felt too much like everything else I've been reading lately in the young adult books. Strange boy and slightly out of touch girl fall in love. Nothing new. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Final Descent (The Monstrumologist #4) by Rick Yancey

Read September 19-22, 2013
read in 4 days
pages: 310

The Final Descent (The Monstrumologist #4)

Book blurb:

Will Henry has been through more that seems possible for a boy of fourteen. He’s been on the brink of death on more than one occasion, he has gazed into hell—and hell has stared back at him, and known his face. But through it all, Dr. Warthrop has been at his side.

When Dr. Warthrop fears that Will’s loyalties may be shifting, he turns on Will with a fury, determined to reclaim his young apprentice’s devotion. And so Will must face one of the most horrific creatures of his monstrumology career—and he must face it alone.

Over the course of one day, Will’s life—and Pellinor Warthrop’s destiny—will lie in balance. In the terrifying depths of the Monstrumarium, they will face a monster more terrible than any they could have imagined—and their fates will be decided.

And so the story ends.

I won't begin to really give a thorough review because I've never been able to do so and give this series any justice. I will say that I enjoyed this book as much as I have enjoyed any other in the series and am sad that it has to come to and end. I'm glad to see however that it was able to get the ending it deserved when there were rumors of this series to end long before this final book made it to print.

This book is written in a flashback sequences. From the final monster escapade with Wathrop and Will Henry as well as years later when Will Henry is forced to return to Wathrop as it is becoming painfully obvious that Wathrop is losing his mind and quite possibly his humanity.

The ending is as I always expected. I didn't look forward to this ending, but I knew, much as other readers of the series know, this was the ending that was inevitable. Do I dislike the ending? No, not at all. Did I find it sad? Sure in a way. But it was a long time coming.

I highly recommend this entire series to anyone looking for a great monster story as well as a coming of age story that spans four novels. You will not be disappointed. Trust me. This is a story that is well worth the journey and time it takes to reach the end.

Eternal by Kristi Cook

Read: September 14-19, 2013
read in 5 days
pages: 410

Eternal (Winterhaven, #3)

Book blurb:

True love and destiny collide in the conclusion to the Haven trilogy, which Booklist called “a blend of the Gemma Doyle trilogy, the Twilight saga, and Lois Duncan’s thrillers.”

Forced to endure the violent punishment of the Tribunal for murders he has no recollection of committing, Aidan is slowly rotting away in a Paris dungeon. Violet is all but an unreachable dream to him now.

But unlike Aidan, Violet has not given up hope as she works tirelessly with Matthew, her guardian and protector, to prove Aidan’s innocence and unravel the haunting vision that plagues her thoughts—the death of someone closest to her.

Determined to set Aidan free, Violet discovers that a dangerous vampire war is brewing—and that Aidan may be at the center of it all. It’s only when the war reaches the doors of Winterhaven and tragedy strikes the school that Violet has to finally accept her fate. But that could mean losing Aidan—forever.

With no other option, Violet must choose between true love and fulfilling her destiny…unless she can find a way to have them both.


Well Violet returns to Winterhaven for her senior year completely heartbroken after Aidan having turned himself over to the tribunal for the horrible murders he was accused of committing without his knowing. Violet was so mopey it was a bit annoying. She still has her moments where she is overcome with a vision or dream of something potentially destructive happening to one of her friends or loved ones. The connection with Aidan somewhat remains and she has flashes where she believes she can feel the torture that Aidan is being forced to endure in Paris.

If my review sounds a bit blah, well that would be because it is. While I got into the novel alright I was not as excited to read the story. I didn't like the way things were going and I can honestly say I did not like the way things turned out in the end. I think it was quite a twist that I was not expecting. And I don't think it made the story a great ending because of the twist. I won't give away the ending, but I'll just say I was unhappy with it.

I'd only recommend this to others who have read the story and are interested in reading to see where things end up in the end. If you do read it, I'd be very much interested to hear what you thought of the ending.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Updated To-Read List

Just a few updates to the To-Read list:

Love Minus EightyLove Minus Eighty

Years in the future, dead women in cryogenic dating farms await rich, lonely suitors to resurrect them and take them home. LOVE MINUS EIGHTY follows interconnected lives touched by these dating farms. There's Rob, who accidentally kills a jogger, then sells everything to visit her, seeking her forgiveness but instead falling in love. Veronika, a socially-awkward dating coach, finds herself responsible for the happiness of a man whose life she saved against his will. And Mira, a gay woman accidentally placed in the heterosexual dating center near its inception, desperately seeks a way to reunite with her frozen partner as the centuries pass. In this daring and big-hearted novel based on the Hugo-winning short story, the lovelorn navigate a world in which technology has reached the outer limits of morality and romance.






Long Live the Queen (The Immortal Empire #3)

Long Live the Queen (The Immortal Empire, #3)Xandra Vardan thought life would be simpler when she accepted the goblin crown and became their queen, but life has only become more complicated. Everyone -- vampires, werewolves and humans -- wants the goblins on their side, because whoever has the goblins -- wins. 

Queen Victoria wants her head, Alpha wolf Vex wants her heart, and she still doesn't know the identity of the person who wanted her blood. What she does know is that a project from one of the 'secret' aristocrat labs has gotten free and she's the only one who can stop the perfect killing machine -- a sixteen year-old girl. With human zealots intent on ridding the world of anyone with plagued blood and supernatural politics taking Britain to the verge of civil war, Xandra's finding out that being queen isn't all it's cracked up to be, and if she doesn't do something fast, hers will be the shortest reign in history.






Jumping Off SwingsJumping Off Swings

Ellie remembers how the boys kissed her. Touched her. How they

begged for more. And when she gave it to them, she felt loved. For a
while anyway. So when Josh, an eager virgin with a troubled home life, leads her from a party to the backseat of his van, Ellie follows. But their "one-time thing" is far from perfect: Ellie gets pregnant. Josh reacts with shame and heartbreak, while their confidantes, Caleb and Corinne, deal with their own complex swirl of emotions. No matter what Ellie chooses, all four teenagers will be forced to grow up a little faster as a result. Told alternately from each character’s point of view, this deeply insightful novel explores the aftershocks of the biggest decision of one fragile girl’s life — and the realities of leaving innocence behind.






Anna Dressed in Blood
Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)
Cas Lowood, armed with his late father's athame knife, kills ghosts. In Thunder Bay, Anna, forever 16, drips blood on her white dress from throat slit in 1958, and rips apart anyone who enters her house - except Cas. He makes new friends - high school queen Carmel, jock Will, admiring nerd Thomas and Tom's voodoo grandpa Morfran - to fight this demon.













AND THE LONG AWAITED......

The Final Descent (The Monstrumologist #4)The Final Descent (The Monstrumologist #4)

Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop have encountered many horrors together—but can Will endure a monstrumological terror without his mentor?

Will Henry has been through more that seems possible for a boy of fourteen. He’s been on the brink of death on more than one occasion, he has gazed into hell—and hell has stared back at him, and known his face. But through it all, Dr. Warthrop has been at his side.

When Dr. Warthrop fears that Will’s loyalties may be shifting, he turns on Will with a fury, determined to reclaim his young apprentice’s devotion. And so Will must face one of the most horrific creatures of his monstrumology career—and he must face it alone.

Over the course of one day, Will’s life—and Pellinor Warthrop’s destiny—will lie in balance. In the terrifying depths of the Monstrumarium, they will face a monster more terrible than any they could have imagined—and their fates will be decided.

It's Hard not to Hate You by Valerie Frankel

Read: September 8-13, 2013
read in 6 days
pages: 242

It's Hard Not to Hate You

Book blurb:

From the author of THIN IS THE NEW HAPPY comes a hilarious new memoir about embracing your Inner Hater. In the midst of a health and career crisis, Valerie uncorks years of pent up rage, and discovers you don't have to be happy to be happy. You don’t have to love everyone else to like yourself. And that your Bitchy Twin might just be your funniest, most valuable and honest ally.

“The hate in you has got to come out.” After being advised to reduce stress by her doctor, humorist Valerie Frankel realized the biggest source of pressure in her life was maintaining an unflappable easing-going persona. After years of glossing over the negative, Frankel goes on a mission of emotional honesty, vowing to let herself feel and express all the toxic emotions she’d long suppressed or denied: jealousy, rage, greed, envy, impatience, regret. Frankel reveals her personal History of Hate, from mean girls in junior high, selfish boyfriends in her twenties and old professional rivals. Hate stomps through her current life, too, with snobby neighbors, rude cell phone talkers, scary doctors and helicopter moms. Regarding her husband, she asks, “How Do I Hate You? Let Me Count the Ways.” (FYI: There are three.) By the end of her authentic emotional experience, Frankel concludes that toxic emotions areactually good for you. The positive thinkers, aka, The Secret crowd, have it backwards. Trying to ward off negativity was what’d been causing Frankel’s career stagnation, as well as her health and personal problems. With the guidance of celebrity friends like Joan Rivers and psychic Mary T. Browne, Frankel now uses anger, jealousy and impatience as tools to be a better, balanced and deeper person. IT'S HARD NOT TO HATE YOU sends the message that there are no wrong emotions, only wrong ways of dealing with them.

This was just a unique and interesting find at the library. I once in a while will stroll over to the memoir section and in this instance happened to find a really funny title. So I pick it up to check it out. It was comical and at times I did literally laugh out loud. I could relate once in a while to some of the instances the author referred to, but like her what can you really do about it. I'd like to take one example though and apply it to my own personal life. For instance she describes a lunch with a friend in which the friend kept checking her phone for messages and such, which I have happen to me on a regular basis when I go out with one particular friend. Like the author I find this to be very rude and insulting. I'd like to say to said friend, "How about next time I bring a book along to read so we can both be entertained if the other is so boring?" I mean really. Put your darn phone away and interact with the person you went to lunch with for crying out loud. It is common courtesy after all. I'm not sure I'd really recommend the book to anyone since I don't really know someone who would be interested, but maybe readers of Chelsea Handler would find humor here as well.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Read: August 31-September 8, 2013
read in 9 days
pages: 326

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Book blurb:

Meet Oskar Schell, an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, pacifist, correspondent with Stephen Hawking and Ringo Starr. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York. His mission is to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.

An inspired innocent, Oskar is alternately endearing, exasperating, and hilarious as he careens from Central Park to Coney Island to Harlem on his search. Along the way he is always dreaming up inventions to keep those he loves safe from harm. What about a birdseed shirt to let you fly away? What if you could actually hear everyone's heartbeat? His goal is hopeful, but the past speaks a loud warning in stories of those who've lost loved ones before. As Oskar roams New York, he encounters a motley assortment of humanity who are all survivors in their own way. He befriends a 103-year-old war reporter, a tour guide who never leaves the Empire State Building, and lovers enraptured or scorned. Ultimately, Oskar ends his journey where it began, at his father's grave. But now he is accompanied by the silent stranger who has been renting the spare room of his grandmother's apartment. They are there to dig up his father's empty coffin.

Wow, this was so good. I did make the mistake of reading a few reviews while I was in the middle of this book, but I have to say the reviews did not sway me away from this book. I read a couple that just gave this book 1 star and called the book cheesy and simple. I have to disagree. This was  a great book in my opinion. The movie was actually recommended to me, and the person that I am....I ALWAYS want to read the book BEFORE the movie. After having read this book though, I don't honestly think I can watch the movie no matter the actors in it or how well a job they do in the portrayal. I just know I'll be disappointed. And I was very satisfied with the novel. I don't want the enjoyment of reading the novel to be tinged with the dissatisfaction of watching the movie. I've found too often that elements and characters are changed. And not just the small stuff, but things that I felt were important to the story and how it was told and more importantly that cause a character to react the way they do. It can completely change the hole story and I'd rather not have that happen with this one.

For me this was a great novel because it literally had me moved to tears. I don't think I can say that of any other novel I've read. EVER. So to me that in itself was a big deal. I had to put this book down because I was crying so much. I highly recommend this book to others. I think this will encourage me to read more by Foer because I enjoyed this one so much. 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Read: August 27-31, 2013
read in 5 days
pages: 256

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Book blurb:

A brilliantly imaginative and poignant fairy tale from the modern master of wonder and terror, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Neil Gaiman's first new novel for adults since his #1 New York Times bestseller Anansi Boys.

This bewitching and harrowing tale of mystery and survival, and memory and magic, makes the impossible all too real...


This book was not what I was expecting at all, but I can't honestly say what I was expecting from it. I don't tend to read reviews because I end up letting them sway me away from reading when one person posts a bad review of a novel I'm interested in. I also did not read too deeply into the book blurb to figure out what to expect, so I'd say my expectations were unbiased aside from the fact that I generally enjoy Neil Gaiman's novels on the whole.

I'd say this was no different a situation in that I enjoyed the novel and it reads very quickly. Especially once I was sucked into the plot. It is unique as most of Neil Gaiman's books are, and the story has a very creative and interesting cast of characters. The events that take place are unlike anything you read in other novels because they are tinged with this child-like imagination and a hint of fantasy that make Gaiman's writing so unique.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Read: August 22-27, 2013
read in 6 days
pages: 288

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Book blurb:

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.

With irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan has crafted a literary adventure story for the twenty-first century, evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or a young Umberto Eco, but with a unique and feisty sensibility that’s rare to the world of literary fiction. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave, a modern-day cabinet of wonders ready to give a jolt of energy to every curious reader, no matter the time of day.

This was a great find for me. There is mystery, intrigue, relevance with the times and a bookstore!!! A wonderful group of elements for me all in one little package. Oh and what a package!! This book literally glowed in the dark which was a funny little discovery as I walked to my bedroom, book clutched in hand, in the dark! After getting interested once again in this pursuit to solve an intellectual mystery I started searching Goodreads frantically for other books similar in nature, however the recommendations are just books that people who enjoyed Penumbra also enjoyed these other books....which sadly are not like Penumbra. So glad to have found this book and welcomed this story into the stories within my mind!

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Read: August 14-17, 2013
read over three days
pages: 162

Coraline

Book blurb:

Coraline lives with her preoccupied parents in part of a huge old house--a house so huge that other people live in it, too... round, old former actresses Miss Spink and Miss Forcible and their aging Highland terriers ("We trod the boards, luvvy") and the mustachioed old man under the roof ("'The reason you cannot see the mouse circus,' said the man upstairs, 'is that the mice are not yet ready and rehearsed.'") Coraline contents herself for weeks with exploring the vast garden and grounds. But with a little rain she becomes bored--so bored that she begins to count everything blue (153), the windows (21), and the doors (14). And it is the 14th door that--sometimes blocked with a wall of bricks--opens up for Coraline into an entirely alternate universe. Now, if you're thinking fondly of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, you're on the wrong track. Neil Gaiman's Coraline is far darker, far stranger, playing on our deepest fears. And, like Roald Dahl's work, it is delicious.
What's on the other side of the door? A distorted-mirror world, containing presumably everything Coraline has ever dreamed of... people who pronounce her name correctly (not "Caroline"), delicious meals (not like her father's overblown "recipes"), an unusually pink and green bedroom (not like her dull one), and plenty of horrible (very un-boring) marvels, like a man made out of live rats. The creepiest part, however, is her mirrored parents, her "other mother" and her "other father"--people who look just like her own parents, but with big, shiny, black button eyes, paper-white skin... and a keen desire to keep her ontheir side of the door. To make creepy creepier, Coraline has been illustrated masterfully in scritchy, terrifying ink drawings by British mixed-media artist and Sandman cover illustrator Dave McKean. This delightful, funny, haunting, scary as heck, fairy-tale novel is about as fine as they come. 
Interesting little story. Not what  expected at all. I tend to expect the unexpected with Gaiman's work, and he did not disappoint here. I believe this was turned into an animation movie as well. I'm not likely to check it out, but was glad I finally got around to reading this little book.

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, Louis Slobodkin (Illustrations)

Read: August 17, 2013
read in an hour
pages: 80

The Hundred Dresses

Book Blurb:

Eleanor Estes’s The Hundred Dresses won a Newbery Honor in 1945 and has never been out of print since. At the heart of the story is Wanda Petronski, a Polish girl in a Connecticut school who is ridiculed by her classmates for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. Wanda claims she has one hundred dresses at home, but everyone knows she doesn’t and bullies her mercilessly. The class feels terrible when Wanda is pulled out of the school, but by that time it’s too late for apologies. Maddie, one of Wanda’s classmates, ultimately decides that she is “never going to stand by and say nothing again.” This powerful, timeless story has been reissued in paperback with a new letter from the author’s daughter Helena Estes, and with the Caldecott artist Louis Slobodkin’s original artwork in beautifully restored color.

Great little book with a very important lesson on standing up to bullying as well as how to behave when faced with bullying. Highly recommended reading for children and adults as well (some could be reminded of this important topic).

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cliffhanger (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels #19) by Stefan Petrucha

Read: August 10, 2013
read in a half hour
pages: 96

Cliffhanger (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels, #19)

Book blurb:

Nancy Drew is in a tight spot! It all starts when Nancy trails a masked jewel thief in the woodlands around River Heights. After running into a group of hikers, Nancy asks if they’ve seen anyone, only to find that one of the hikers is also the thief! When Nancy breaks off from the group to make a phone call, she is pushed from behind and ends up dangling from a tree root, afraid to call for help lest the crook find her. This time, its up to Bess and George to help their dear friend Nancy Drew.

What Goes Up... (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels #16) by Stefan Petrucha

Read: August 10, 2013
read in a half hour
pages: 96

What Goes Up... (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels, #16)

Book blurb:

After Stealing a million in investment cash, a desperate robber commandeers a hot air balloon at the local exposition, only to be lost in a raging storm.  The balloon was tracked to a high mountain area before going down.  When Police Chief McGinnis refuses to take Nancy on the recovery effort, she and the girls stowaway with the investment bankers, also climbing the mountain, in an effort to recover their funds.  Unfortunately, once the balloon is found, they learn that they’ve hung out with the wrong group – the bankers were in on it with the robbers!

City Under the Basement (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels #18) by Stefan Petrucha

Read: August 10, 2013
read in a half hour
pages: 96


City Under the Basement (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels, #18)

Book blurb:

Nancy and her father Carson find themselves in an ancient city long buried below a luxurious estate, the sale of which has brought them to Turkey. Thieves led by a mysterious rich man named Harold Severino search frantically for a priceless artifact somewhere in the city as Nancy and her father are taken prisoner. Severino, who previously attempted to purchase the estate with suspicious motives, has been led to the archeological treasure by none other than Professor David Sever, the crooked archeologist from Nancy Drew #2: Writ in Stone!  It’s up to Nancy to halt the plundering of this living museum and somehow make it out in one piece!

Night of the Living Chatchke (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels #17) by Stefan Petrucha

Read: August 9, 2013
read in a half hour
pages: 96

Night of the Living Chatchke (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels, #17)

Book blurb:

Nancy Drew travels to Turkey with her father, attorney Carson Drew, who plans to negotiate the sale of an ancestral estate belonging to one of his clients. When Nancy finds that mysterious artifacts have been disappearing from the estate, she turns her suspicions to Harland Severino, a rich man who desperately wants to purchase it. Nancy does some sleuthing that leads her beneath the property into an environment no one could’ve guessed what lay there: the ancient ruins of a city long forgotten by time, filled with priceless ancient artifacts that grave robbers will do anything to get at!

Tiger Counter (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels #15) by Stefan Petrucha

Read: August 9, 2013
read in a half hour
pages: 96

Tiger Counter (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels, #15)

Book blurb:

Nancy and her best friends, Bess and George, have volunteered at the River Heights Animal Protection Center, never dreaming that they might soon need protection from the animals But that's exactly what happens when a truck delivering circus tigers breaks down by the woods and the big cats escape. Nancy and her friends are nearby responding to a call from Mrs. Eartha--one of her pet cats was attacked by a coyote--when they're suddenly swept up in the deadly mystery of the missing tigers. 

Sleight of Dan (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels #14) by Stefan Petrucha

Read: August 1, 2013
read in a half hour
pages: 112

Sleight of Dan (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels, #14)

Book blurb:

Nancy, Ned, and George attend magician Dan Devil’s show, and witness his assistant’s magical  disappearance—except she doesn’t reappear!  Seems Nancy can’t even go on a date without stumbling upon a mystery.  In searching for the missing assistant, Nancy goes on a magical mystery tour of Dan Evil’s home and runs into a very hungry anaconda!  Rather than become snake food, she agrees to become Dan’s new assistant—but what if she vanishes too?

Doggone Town (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels #13) by Stefan Petrucha

Read: July 31, 2013
read in a half hour
pages: 112

Doggone Town (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels, #13)

Book blurb:

When Nancy Drew and Ned Nickerson attempt to return a lost dog named “Togo” to its owner in the small town of Nevershare, they stumble onto a much bigger mystery—where did all the people go?  The entire population of Nevershare is missing, except for one person, and she’s mean and not very helpful. Will Nancy solve this mystery before she and Ned also disappear?

Monkey-Wrench Blues (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels #11) by Stefan Petrucha

Read: 29-30, 2013
read in under a half hour
pages: 112

Monkey-Wrench Blues (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels, #11)

Book blurb:

"The High Miles Mystery," winds up with a race that could spell life or death for the girl detective!  Hinkley is able to build a prototype for a new high-efficiency car based on a recently recovered engine. After seeing Nancy drive a tank and stop a speeding train, he wants her (and mechanic Bess) to drive the prototype in a government-sponsored race. The car with the best fuel efficiency wins a government development contract, money Hinkley and Credo would need to bring the car to production. But someone is determined that Nancy and Bess lose-- at any cost!

Global Warning (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels #8) by Stefan Petrucha

Read: July 28, 2013
read in a half hour
pages: 112

Global Warning (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels, #8)

Book blurb:

Nancy Drew battles the Abominable Snowman! It happens at a new Bio-dome facility in River Heights, where Nancy, Bess and George get swept up in a mystery involving five different world environments encased withing giant domes, animals and all. It's funded by famed environmentalist billionaire, Cheri Goale. But before the Bio-Dome officially opens, Sasquatch appears within the Arctic dome creating havoc and endangering the future of the facility. Nancy Drew investigates, but is soon trapped within the dome with the legendary Bigfoot.

The Disoriented Express (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels #10) by Stefan Petrucha

Read: July 28, 2013
read in a half hour
pages: 112

The Disoriented Express (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels, #10)

Book blurb:

On its journey to Professor Hinkley's research facility, Nancy Drew must protect an amazing creation that could possibly end the world's energy crisis.  Unstable and dangerous, the super fuel-efficient engine must be transported by a private train.  But dark forces are at work, attempting to shanghai the miracle machine - literally at every turn by using computers to jam the switches!  But while Nancy, and her friend George, attempt to determine which sinister suspect is behind these despicable acts, they soon realize that if their adversaries can't succeed at stealing this miraculous machine, they'll destroy the train, along with everything, and everyone on it!  "The Disoriented Express" is the second in a series of three Nancy Drew adventures entitled "The High Miles Mystery."

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The To Read List

It's been a while and I think I only have one book left on my Anticipating for 2013 list, but I have put a few more on hold at the library that I'm looking forward to reading....



Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to SeeIn her tour-de-force first novel, Juliann Garey takes us inside the restless mind, ravaged heart, and anguished soul of Greyson Todd, a successful Hollywood studio executive who leaves his wife and young daughter and for a decade travels the world giving free rein to the bipolar disorder he's been forced to keep hidden for almost 20 years. The novel intricately weaves together three timelines: the story of Greyson's travels (Rome, Israel, Santiago, Thailand, Uganda); the progressive unraveling of his own father seen through Greyson's eyes as a child; and the intimacies and estrangements of his marriage. The entire narrative unfolds in the time it takes him to undergo twelve 30-second electroshock treatments in a New York psychiatric ward. This is a literary page-turner of the first order, and a brilliant inside look at mental illness.






Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour BookstoreThe Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.


With irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan has crafted a literary adventure story for the twenty-first century, evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or a young Umberto Eco, but with a unique and feisty sensibility that’s rare to the world of literary fiction. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave, a modern-day cabinet of wonders ready to give a jolt of energy to every curious reader, no matter the time of day.


The Ocean at the End of the Lane



Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.


Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Laneis told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.



CoralineCoraline's often wondered what's behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her "other" parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes. When they make it clear, however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures.


Arcadia





In the fields and forests of western New York State in the late 1960s, several dozen idealists set out to live off the land, founding what becomes a famous commune centered on the grounds of a decaying mansion called Arcadia House. Arcadia follows this lyrical, rollicking, tragic, and exquisite utopian dream from its hopeful start through its heyday and after. The story is told from the point of view of Bit, a fascinating character and the first child born in Arcadia.







The Love ChildrenIt is the late 1960s in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Grateful Dead is playing on the radio and teenagers are wearing long hair and blue jeans. Jess Leighton, the daughter of a temperamental painter and a proto-feminist Harvard professor, is struggling to make sense of her world amid racial tensions, Vietnam War protests, and anti-government rage. With more options than her mother's generation, but no role model for creating the life she desires, Jess experiments with sex and psychedelic drugs as she searches for happiness on her own terms. In the midst of joining and fleeing a commune, growing organic vegetables, and operating a sustainable restaurant, Jess grapples with the legacy of her mother's generation.











Evermore (The Immortals #1) by Alyson Noel

Read: July 4-27, 2013
read: took far too long
pages: 301

Evermore (The Immortals, #1)

Book blurb:

After a horrible accident claims the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever Bloom can see people's auras, hear their thoughts, and know someone's entire life story by touching them. Going out of her way to avoid human contact to suppress her abilities, she has been branded a freak at her new high school — but everything changes when she meets Damen Auguste.

Damen is gorgeous, exotic and wealthy. He's the only one who can silence the noise and random energy in her head - wielding a magic so intense, it's as though he can peer straight into her soul. As Ever is drawn deeper into his enticing world of secrets and mystery, she's left with more questions than answers. And she has no idea just who he really is - or what he is. The only thing she knows to be true is that she's falling deeply and helplessly in love with him.


I'm finding more and more that I really can't tolerate some of this Young Adult stuff that is out there. Some are decent reads and I am not at all put off by the fact that it is Young Adult. But THIS, this is the kind of stuff that annoys the crap out of me. I finished it. It was a terrible struggle, but I did finish it. I'm not the target audience sure, but then I know even if I were I wouldn't have enjoyed this. I mean jeez a guy who is completely mysterious who really does not share anything with you, who flirts with other girls and really isn't all that great to you, but somehow you fall madly in love with him?!?

What annoys me the most about these books is there is nothing remotely original to this story or this book. I found myself thinking of other books I've read that had similar concepts that I enjoyed much more! The idea of reincarnation is interesting, but I enjoyed the book series The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller MUCH more. And the falling for a mysterious boy has been done time and time again. He rarely eats, he drinks this strange red liquid....can we say hints of Twilight by Stephanie Meyer here?

At least now I'm done and I can mark the book off my list, AND the entire series for that matter. So I've cleaned up my reading list a bit just by reading one book! I guess I'd recommend this to the target audience, but even then I'd hope the girls could find something with a bit more substance to read. I really hate to think girls would model themselves after this character or even wish they could live a life like hers. I cringe at that thought.

The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene

Read: July 22-24, 2013
read in 3 days
pages: 180

The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew, #1)

Book blurb:

Nancy Drew's keen mind is tested when she searches for a missing will.

This was my first read of the Nancy Drew novels. I've been reading some of the graphic novels that are bit more updated than this series that was originally released in the 1930's and they are decent little reads. The novel format is much the same with a little more detail than the graphic novels which has to do with the different format I believe.

Either way this was a nice short read and I may continue with the series, I see there are many more books and many more different series, but I think I'll start with some other reading in between these. This could get a little boring if I were only reading strictly these books. They are junior fiction and sometimes my adult brain likes these little books that don't require much brain power, other times my brain needs something with actual substance!!

What I find to most interesting about these books is that the entire series was written by a group of ghost writers and that the books were published but then re-edited and re-released starting around 1959 to eliminate racist stereotypes. I find that annoying. It was a piece of literature, while not high literature mind you but literature, that was and is still like a time-capsule that showed the time period in which it was written. I hate how things have to be changed due to people's sensitivities to such things. It reminds me of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by Orwell. Let's not scrub our history and hide what things were really like. Let's let it be so children of the future can see what times were really like.

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

Read: July 16-21, 2013
read in 7 days
pages: 475

Dead Ever After

Book blurb:

Sookie Stackhouse finds it easy to turn down the request of former barmaid Arlene when she wants her job back at Merlotte's. After all, Arlene tried to have Sookie killed. But her relationship with Eric Northman is not so clearcut. He and his vampires are keeping their distance...and a cold silence. And when Sookie learns the reason why, she is devastated. 
Then a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime.
But the evidence against Sookie is weak, and she makes bail. Investigating the killing, she'll learn that what passes for truth in Bon Temps is only a convenient lie. What passes for justice is more spilled blood. And what passes for love is never enough...

Finally the last novel. I wasn't even aware this was out until I was doing some random book researching and discovered it was to be out a couple months ago. So I log into the library app and request it. Quite surprised to only find 28 people on hold before me and that the library had bought so few copies. Strange given how popular the series was or at least I thought it was.

This was an ok book. I didn't find it fabulous, but it wasn't terrible. I guess I'm ok with the way things turned out. Some of the aspects were a little disappointing and I expected a slightly different end to things, but as Charlaine Harris explains in the notes at the beginning of the book she could not make everyone happy; she had to follow through with the ending she believed to fit. Course that didn't stop her from writing yet ANOTHER book to show what happens after the FINAL book. I have that book on hold too and may just flip through it when it comes in at the library. It sounds like it is more a guide book to what happens to the characters not an actual novel. I don't care for guide books or a recounting of the characters in a series. If it is not story that actually progresses the overall story then I don't spend time on it.

I'd recommend to others who have been reading the series if for nothing else than a conclusion as to what happens. Its much like the other novels so if you at all enjoyed them, then you're likely to enjoy this one as well. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Read: July 4, 2013
read in a day
pages: 97

84, Charing Cross Road

Book blurb:

It all began with a letter inquiring about second-hand books, written by Helene Hanff in New York, and posted to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London. As Helene's sarcastic and witty letters are responded to by the stodgy and proper Frank Doel of 84, Charing Cross Road, a relationship blossoms into a warm and charming long-distance friendship lasting many years.

I picked this up because after having watched the movie You've Got Mail for I don't know the millionth time (one of my all-time favorites) I saw that there was a reference to this book on IMDB. This was a collection of letters written by Helene Hanff and a group of workers and others who worked for a book store. Helene lived in New York and was writing for particular copies of books at a better price and condition than what she was finding should she traipse all the way down to the local used book store. Being the 50's times were tough and it didn't appear that she had a car, so for the books to be delivered right to her door that was a great deal!

These letters show incredible friendships form after these letters in a pen-pal like nature that continued for 20 years. This was a very quick light read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I look forward to finding more books similar to this!


Joyland by Stephen King

Read: June 30-July 3, 2013
read in  4 days
pages: 283

Joyland

Book blurb:

"I love crime, I love mysteries, and I love ghosts," says Stephen King, who has combined these elements into a wonderful new story. Joyland is a whodunit noir crime novel and a haunting ghost story set in the world of an amusement park.

It tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a 'carny' in small-town North Carolina and has to confront the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the way both will change his life forever. It is also a wonderful coming-of-age novel about friendship, loss, and your first heartbreak. Who dares enter the funhouse of fear?

This was not the typical Stephen King novel I'm used to, there was  no horror to speak of and very little tension. This was very much a coming of age story with a great backdrop. I loved the 70's feel and the circus. I'm interested in books with a circus. Why? I'm not sure but I do!

Likable enough characters with a few not so likable. Overall a good read. I was not disappointed reading it and was glad I picked it up from the library. You really can't go wrong with Stephen King. 

Inferno by Dan Brown

Read: June 23-29, 2013
read in 6 days
pages: 465

Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4)

Book blurb:
In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.

Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered.

I always look forward to this Robert Langdon series and I'll be very interested to see what follows in this series. This just left me wondering what will happen next. I would think there would be another book to follow this plot since sure some things were wrapped up but not entirely.

It has been too long for me to write a decent review on this aside from saying I enjoyed it. Makes me want to pick up a copy of Dante's Inferno because I've never read it. I feel like that should have been something required at some point in my career as an English major, but sadly it was not. I'll pick it up myself one of these days! Sooner rather than later!