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Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Good House

Book #86 Read in 2012
The Good House by Ann Leary

Hildy Good is a descendant of Sarah Good, Salem witch.  Hildy's curse is alcoholism.  Her family stages an intervention and sends her to rehab.  Little do they know that after rehab, Hildy drinks alone at night from the bottles in her cellar, while declaring herself alcohol free.  But Hildy cannot pull off this farce forever, and it eventually all catches up to her.  Along with Hildy's story, the novel also details an affair between Peter and Rebecca, the trials of a couple with an autistic son and the other happenings of the small town.

I liked the writing of this book.  Leary is good at description of both character and setting.  Hildy was a character that I went back and forth between liking and hating.  Liking won out in the end.  The book was a bit slow in the middle but quickly accelerated and kept my interest until the end.

I received a copy of this book from BookBrowse for review.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Secrets at Sea


Book #85 Read in 2012
Secrets at Sea by Richard Peck

This is a young adult fantasy book.  Three sister mice and one brother mouse have to take a boat trip when their people travel to England.  During that trip, destinies are formed and futures are firmed up.  The mice try to lend a helping paw to the marriage hunt of the Cranston sisters, with varying levels of success.  

This was a cute read.  The mice characters were cute.  There was action, love and humor in this book.  I think this book would appeal to both boy and girl readers, from elementary to middle school range.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Everything I Needed to Know about Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume


Book #84 Read in 2012
Everything I Needed to Know about Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume
edited by Jennifer O'Connell

This book features a variety of authors detailing how the works of Judy Blume affected them as they were growing up.  Blume receives a nice tribute from these authors and acknowledgment that her works were meaningful to slews of readers.  Many of Blume's books are mentioned, but titles such as Forever, Deenie and Tiger Eyes and Are You There God, It's Me Margaret receive several mentions.

Having been a huge Blume fan growing up, this was a nice way to revisit some memorable titles.  It was an interesting read about how literature can affect readers and stay with readers for years and years.  I enjoyed it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Beneath a Meth Moon (YA)


Book #83 Read in 2012
Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson (YA)

This book tells the story of Laurel, a teenage girl, who is addicted to meth.  Laurel's mother and grandmother are killed in a hurricane and that grief spirals Laurel into the grips of a drug addiction that means she risks losing her family, her friends and her life.  This book shows what addiction does to people without going into vivid, gory detail.

Woodson is one of my favorite authors for young adult books.  Her books are well written, have complex characters and deal with difficult issues.  This book continues that pattern.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Cat Who Came Back For Christmas


Book #82 Read in 2012
The Cat Who Came Back For Christmas by Julia Romp

Julia Romp's memoir is about much more than just their wonderful cat, Ben (Baboo).  Julia is a single mother to George, who is autistic.  This book details her struggle to connect with her son and Ben is the key--George connects with this cat in a way that he has never connected before with another living being.  Ben gets George to talk more, to connect with his mother and to get him touch with his emotions--all things that Julia had wanted for years for her son.

Then the unthinkable happens and while Julia and George are away, Ben goes missing.  George blames Julia for this and any progress he had made since Ben came into their lives is immediately erased.  Julia knows that she must find Ben if she is ever going to see that side of her son again.  Julia makes it her daily mission to look for Ben, following up on countless leads and sightings of the elusive cat.  At the same time, Julia finds a sort of new career path for her--pet detective.

This book was a good read.  Ben is a great cat and I loved reading about how the love for this cat really brought George out of his shell.  I give Julia props for doing the difficult task of parenting, hard enough in its own right, made even more difficult with her special needs son.  She craved hearing him tell her that he loved her.  She just wanted to be able to touch him without him freaking out.  She is a strong woman.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Anya's Ghost


Book #81 Read in 2012
Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol

This is a graphic novel which usually isn't my genre of choice but I like this one.  In this book, Anya, a teenager,  falls into a well and finds a set of bones there.  There is a ghost who is haunting the well.  When rescued, Anya realizes she has brought a part of a finger bone out of the well with her so the ghost is now following her around--at school, at home etc.  Anya does see some perks to have a ghostly friend, especially one who can look at test papers of classmates for a test Anya didn't study for.  But the ghost has her own ulterior motive and Anya needs to confront the ghost in order to protect herself and her family.

This was a very quick read and I think that both boy and girl readers would like it.  There was enough of a plot for me that the graphic novel format did not bother me.  I enjoyed this book.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Clobbered by Camembert


Book #80 Read in 2012
Clobbered by Camembert by Avery Aames

This is the third book in one of my favorite cozy mystery series.  Charlotte owns a cheese shop and seems to have a knack for getting involved in on-going police investigations.  This usually results in some threat on her well-being but she handles it with style.  Her partner in crime is her co-worker Rebecca.  In this book, Rebecca's boyfriend is accused of murdering a business woman and Rebecca asks Charlotte to help prove his innocence.  Along with the mystery is some romantic entanglements involving Charlotte's boyfriend Jordan and her ex-boyfriend Chip.

I enjoy this series.  These books have good mysteries, interesting characters, a hint of romance and great animal characters, especially Rags, the Ragdoll.  Charlotte is an intelligent heroine, even though she overstimates her skill at getting herself out of risky situations at time.  The romance is not the main focus and isn't an annoying plot device so that is good.  I recommend this series.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

On the Day I Died (YA)


Book #79 Read in 2012
On the Day I Died by Candance Fleming

This book is a collection of stories told by teenage ghosts.  Each deceased teenager tells Mike, a living teenager, how he or she ended up in the cemetery.  The stories run the gamut from accidents, to suicide, to murder, to monsters.  The ghosts feel that they have to tell their stories in order to be able to rest in peace.

This book was a quick, good read.  The stories were interesting and though short, gave a good snapshot of the lives that these people lived.  This book would appeal to both girl and boy readers.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Daughter of Smoke and Bone


Book #78 Read in 2012
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Karou collects teeth for Brimstone, a magician of sorts.  Little does she know how her past is going to come colliding with her present.  Then she meets Akiva, an angel, and she is drawn to him in ways that she does not understand.  Her world is then rocked when Brimstone, and her connection to the other world, is destroyed.  Karou then truly feels alone and without meaning.  Akiva wants to help change that, but cost may be incredibly high.

This was a good young adult fantasy read.  This is the first in a series.  Karou is an interesting female lead character.  She is tough, intelligent and has a sarcastic sense of humor that I enjoyed. Akiva is a good romantic lead.  He is a flawed hero which draws readers in.  Secondary characters are interesting--the concerned best friend, the slightly odd actor ex-boyfriend and Brimstone, a man of mystery.  I enjoyed this read and hope to get to the sequel soon.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Notorious Nineteen


Book #77 Read in 2012
Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich

This is the 19th book in the Stephanie Plum series, which is my favorite.  In this book, Stephanie is once again trying, usually unsuccessfully, to catch some bond skippers.  She is also still wavering between Morelli and Ranger as her love interests.  In this installment, the main focus is on a man who disappeared from the hospital, and Stephanie is trying to find him to collect on his bond.  No one at the hospital seems to know where he went.  Stephanie and Lula team up with Briggs, the short hospital security guard, to see what they can find out about the missing man.  On top of that, someone is trying to kill Ranger so Stephanie is trying to help him out.  

As usual, this book involves a lot of humor, action, romance and cars blowing up.  The beloved characters (Grandma Mazur, Bob the dog, Connie) are back in full force to share the spotlight with the trifecta of Stephanie, Morelli and Ranger.  These books are comfort reads to me--I enjoy them.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Red Rain


Book #76 Read in 2012
Red Rain by R.L. Stine

Known for his years of writing YA horror, R.L. Stine decides to scare adults--and he does it with this novel.  Lea is a travel blog writer and is on an island when a hurricane hits.  Devastation ensues.  She returns home to her husband and two children with a little more than she left with--she is accompanied by 12 year old blonde twin boys, Daniel and Samuel.  Though her husband Marc is reluctant to have the boys in their family, Lea ignores him and thrusts the boys wholeheartedly into their home and life.  Little does she know that she just unleashed two monsters into her hometown.

This book was one that I could not put down.  It was violent, graphic and disturbing, yet I had to know how it was going to end.  This felt like a YA book to me with the writing style, but since I enjoy reading YA this worked for me.  It was a good horror read.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Kill You Last


Book #75 Read in 2012
Kill You Last by Todd Strasser

This is a great YA mystery.  Shelby's father is a photographer.  Three girls who he did business with have been reported as missing and Shelby's father is a person of interest.  Shelby begins her own investigation to try to clear her father's name.  She gets some help from her best friend Roman and a reporter, Whit, whom she is beginning to trust.  Will Shelby find out who the killer is?  

This book had good twists and turns.  It was a very quick read and kept my interest throughout.  Shelby is a good main characters--she has brains and guts.  There was also some humor and romance in the book but the action and the mystery were the main plot points.  I recommend it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I Hunt Killers


Book #74 Read in 2012
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Jasper (Jazz) Dent is the son of Billy Dent, one of the most evil serial killers ever.  Jazz is not convinced that he is not a serial killer in the making and struggles daily about this.  In his small hometown, another killer is on the loose.  This killer is mimicking the kills of his father, seemingly in some sort of homage to Billy Dent.  Jazz pleads with the sheriff to be allowed to search for this serial killer--because who better to understand this sort of monster than a boy who was brought up by one?

This book was a great read.  It was very intense and at times so disturbing but I could not put it down.  It had a lot of action, humor, some romance and a cliffhanger ending that makes me really want to read the sequel, which is coming out in April 2013.  I recommend this gritty read.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sapphire Blue

Book #73 Read in 2012
Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier

This is the sequel to Ruby Red and picks up pretty much where the first book left off.  Gwen is getting a little more used to time traveling.  She and Gideon are exploring the chemistry between them.  Charlotte is still jealous that Gwen is the Ruby and not her.  Added to this book is more of the history behind the secret order and the enemies that they are facing.  Gwen has a little demon ghost who only she can see and he is becoming her companion.  Gwen's friend Lesley is trying to help by researching and investigating what she can.

This book has good twists and turns in it.  The romance between Gwen and Gideon is beginning to progress.  There is humor in the book and also a good mystery plot.  The third book comes out sometime during Fall 2013 and I look forward to reading that one as well.  

I received this book through the Amazon Vine program to review.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Storyteller (YA)


Book #72 Read in 2012
The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis

This book was hard to put down but also hard to get through.  Anna is drawn to Abel, a mysterious student at her school.  He has a reputation as a hard core drug dealer.  She begins to spy on him and realizes that he is the caregiver for his younger sister, Micha.  Abel spins stories to entertain Micha and uses the stories as a way of talking about what is going on in their lives.  Anna earns her role in these stories as she gets more and more sucked into the lives of Abel and Micha.  This book has raw parts that are incredibly graphic and characters are so complex that it is hard to figure out who is good and who is bad.

This book was interesting in a train wreck, can't put it down sort of way.  Abel is at once hero and villain.  Anna is at once victim and enabler.  They are tough to compartmentalize.  This book is edgy and has powerful elements to it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores


Book #71 Read in 2012
Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores by Jen Campbell

This is a very quick read--it is a collection of questions/comments that customers have been heard saying in bookstores.  Bookstore workers and owners submitted these questions and comments.  Some are funny, some are weird and some are downright sad (one customer asked for a copy of the sequel to The Diary of Anne Frank because she enjoyed Anne's writing. . . sigh).  This book was generated by the author's blog, where these sayings were first collected and publicized.  A cute read that book lovers will get a kick out of--a nice way to spend an afternoon.  I enjoyed it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Code Busters Club (YA)


Book #70 Read in 2012
The Code Busters Club by Penny Warner (YA)

This is the first in a mystery series.  Four young adults form a club where they pass secret messages written in code back and forth.  Their neighbor, whom they call Skeleton Man, is taken to the hospital after his house catches fire.  But was it an accidental fire or set by his newly arrived family members?  The kids decide to investigate.  

This book was a good mystery and used the codes in an interesting way to move the plot along.  I could see readers who liked solving codes really enjoying this book.  There are two male and two female protagonists so I think both male and female readers would be drawn to this book.  It was a good, quick read.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Humming Room (YA)

Book #69 Read in 2012
The Humming Room by Ellen Potter (YA)

This book was inspired by the classic book, The Secret Garden.  Roo's parents are murdered and she is sent to live with her uncle, whom she has never met before.  Roo is exploring her surroundings when she hears humming.  She tries to locate the source but cannot.  She does, however, find a garden that has been so neglected that it is almost dead.  She vows to bring it back to life.  Shortly after discovering the garden, she meets Phillip, her cousin, who is the mysterious hummer.  He is basically trapped in his room and is trying to grapple with his mother's death.  Roo decides that bringing the garden back to life will invigorate Phillip as well.

This was a quick read.  Roo is an interesting character--she is tough yet caring.  She says she is better with animals than people.  She connects though with her cousin Phillip, more than she believes she is capable of doing.  There are good secondary characters in this book such as Violet, Jack and Phillip.  The plot can be a little slow as not much happens on an action level in this short book; the action is more psychological in nature as you see Roo and Phillip change.  The book has an element of mystery and ghost story to it which will interest a certain type of reader.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Undertakers 2: Queen of the Dead

Book #68 Read in 2012
The Undertakers 2:  Queen of the Dead by Ty Drago (YA)

This book picks up right where the first in the series left off--and the action is non stop!  Will Ritter is still fighting the Corpses and is feeling a bit smug about killing Kenny Booth.  But now the Queen of the Dead has come to stop the Undertakers and Will--and she means business.  She will use Will's mother and sister to try to get to him.  But the Undertakers hang tough and have some help for a somewhat unexpected source--a FBI agent that they rescued from the Corpses.

This book has tons of action in it.  Boys would love this series.  Along with the action are great characters such as Will, Helene, Burgermeister, Tom and Sharyn.  These characters are tough, resilient and loyal.  There is humor in the book and a hint of romance between various characters. I enjoy this series and look forward to the third installment.

I received this book from the publisher, Sourcebooks, in exchange for a review.

Now on Twitter

I'm now on Twitter--you can find me as melissapalmer40

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Soldier Bear (YA)


Book #67 Read in 2012
Soldier Bear (YA) by Bibi Dumon Tak

This book was based on the true story of a bear cub, adopted by Polish soldiers during World War II, and his place in their patroon.  The soldiers decide that the bear, named Voytek, is their mascot and they bring them along with him--even though he steals their Christmas dinner, even though he begs for food, even though he takes up most of the bed.  Voytek also brings them joy, love and a connection that they desperately need in a horrific time in their lives.  

This book is geared for younger readers (I would say 6th grade and below).  The chapters are short and the writing is simplistic but it is a good story and would interest reluctant readers.  The book contained pictures of the real Voytek and his soldier family.  I enjoyed this book.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Crow (YA)


Book #66 Read in 2012
Crow (YA) by Barbara Wright

This was a great young adult historical fiction read.  Moses is a young African-American boy.  He has been taught by his value that education is valuable.  He is taught legends and superstitions by Boo Nanny, his grandmother, who was a former slave.  Along with these influences, it is a time of strained race relations, white supremacy and lynchings.  Moses is forced to grow up quickly in this environment.  

This book is disturbing to read, as it is a harsh reminder of a horrible time in our past.  Wright vividly describes the tension and violence of this time period.  She has created wonderful characters in Moses, Boo Nanny, Jack and Sadie.  Readers will feel a connection with them immediately.  Wright has a wonderful writing style that will draw readers into the book.  This was a quick read.  I enjoyed it.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Lions of Litlte Rock (YA)


Book #65 Read in 2012
The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

This is a great historical fiction book for young adults.  This book is set in the late 1950s in the south and address the issue of segregation of races in schools.  In this book, Marlee is very shy and basically doesn't talk to anyone outside of her immediate family.  Then she meets Liz, the new girl at school.  The two strike up a friendship.  Liz wants to help Marlee speak more so they work together on an oral report for class.  Then Marlee finds out that Liz is actually an African American passing as a white person and that Liz will no longer be attending the same school as Marlee.  Marlee does not want to lose her as a friend so she ends up contacting her, not truly understanding the danger that this friendship can cause the girls, their families and their communities.

This book was extremely well written and gave an accurate view of a horrific time in our not so past history.  The characters are well developed and interesting.  This book sucks you right in and is hard to put down.  I really enjoyed it.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dreamsleeves (YA)


Book #64 Read in 2012
Dreamsleeves by Colleen Murtagh Paratore

I enjoyed this book a lot.  This book was written by an author who lives locally and I loved reading about colleges and cities that I know.  Additionally, the characters in this book were ones I immediately cared about and they felt like family.

Aislinn takes care of her younger siblings.  Her father is an alcoholic; her mother tries to keep things peaceful in the house so that her husband does not fly off the handle.  Aislinn's dream is really for her father to stop drinking.  Aislinn comes up with an idea she calls "dreamsleeves", writing one's dream on a label sticker and sticking it on her shirt sleeve.  She does this and her younger siblings do as well.  

One day, she wears a dreamsleeve to church which says her dream of her father stopping his drinking.  The priest comes to their house after church that day and speaks to her father.  He flips out on Aislinn afterwards and accuses her of lying to the priest.

Readers will have their hearts ache for Aislinn, her mother and her siblings.  This book has drama, humor and a touch of young romance.  I enjoyed this book.

Readathon update #2

So for the first readathon I accomplished:

14% Code Name Verity
160 pages (a little over 1/2) of Dreamsleeves (YA)

And some bonding with my new Kindle Fire

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Readathon update #1

So I haven't been reading as much as I should have been--

Watched 2 movies (Sherlock Holmes #2 and John Carter).  
My Kindle Fire arrived so needed to set that up.

However, so far today I have read about 14% of Code Name Verity.

Back to reading shortly--Jack Frost is waiting for me to come snuggle on the couch with him.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon

Tomorrow will be my first time participating in Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon--

Of course I won't read 24 hours straight because I need sleep and food--

And if my Kindle Fire arrives tomorrow like it's supposed to, I'm sure that will distract me :-)

My books for tomorrow will be:
Dreamsleeves (YA) library book
The Undertakers 2:  Queen of the Night (YA) review book
Code Name Verity (YA) Kindle


Monday, October 8, 2012

Sophia's War


Book #63 Read in 2012
Sophia's War by Avi (YA)

This book is excellent young adult historical fiction.  It tells the story of Sophia Calderwood, a young lady who ends up being a patriot spy during the Revolutionary War.  Sophia ends up working in a British household and ends up discovering important information about Benedict Arnold and where his loyalty really is. . . 

Avi is a hit or miss author for me but this book I really liked; I read it in a day.  Sophia is a great character--courageous yet human, intelligent yet self-doubting.  There are interesting secondary characters as well.  The chapters are short which would help a reluctant reader, especially with this genre where readers seem to either love the books or hate the books.  This book was a quick read full of action.  I recommend it.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Wolfishly Yours

Wolfishly Yours by Lydia Dare

Including characters from Dare's other boosk, Wolfishly Yours tells the story of Liviana and Grayson.  Livi is sent to her grandfather so that she can learn how to become a lady.  Grayson would like to teach her other things.  Both share a common trait that they are surprised about--they are both lycans.  They are drawn to each other in spite of themselves. 

Dare's characters are interesting and complex.  Grayson is a scoundrel with a heart of gold.  Livi is a bold young lady who does not want to live by society rules.  Dare strikes a good balance between historical romance and paranormal romance.  There is also humor and action in her storyline.  This book was a fun read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Sourcebooks, in exchange for a review.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Shadowy Horses


Book #62 Read in 2012
The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley

Verity heads to Scotland to take part in an archaeologist dig.  She gets a little more than she bargained for when she meets Robbie, a young boy with psychic abilities, and realizes that his visions are driving the digging locations.  But, the boy seems to be spot on with help from The Sentinel, a ghostly figure overseeing the dig.  Verity, in spite of herself, begins to believe in ghosts.  Along with the ghost story, there is romance brewing between Verity and David, another archaeologist.  

I really liked the writing style in this book.  Kearsley paints a vivid picture of the setting.  She has created wonderful characters who are complex and realistic.  The ghost story is done masterfully.  The romantic element of the book progresses slowly enough to not take away from the primary story of the dig and the ghost.

This is my first book by Kearsley but I look forward to reading others.  I received a copy of this book from Sourcebooks in exchange for a review.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon on October 13th

While I will never read 24 hours straight because I lose sleep for no book, I will try to focus on reading books more than reading email on Saturday, October 13th as part of Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon.  Love Dewey.

To sign up for the Readathon go to:  www.24hourreadathon.com

The Hunger Games (YA)



Book #61 Read in 2012
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This book is the first in a series.  I gave up on it the first time I tried to read.  Friends loved it.  Students loved it.  I figured I would try it again--and this time I ended up loving it.

Katniss lives in District 12, a relatively poor district, with her mother and younger sister.  When contestants are selected for this year's Hunger Games, a contest where children fight to the death, Prim, the younger sister, is selected to be in the Games.  Katniss refuses to allow this to happen and she volunteers to take her sister's place.  Also selected is Peeta, the son of the local baker.  The two form an alliance and Peeta seems to have romantic feelings towards Katniss.

The Games themselves are brutal and horrible.  During the Games, the rules are changed so that two winners from the same district will be allowed.  This means that Katniss can band together with Peeta, who is gravely injured.  But will this rule change really give them a way to survive and win together?

This book had a lot of action, great characters and a decent romance.  Katniss is a tough cookie.  Peeta is a hero whom readers will end up rooting for--to win the Games and get the girl.  I will continue on to book 2.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Bookmark update

Bookmarks (real and virtual) are in the following:

The Shadowy Horses (review book)
Shadow of Night (Kindle)
The Hunger Games (Kindle)
Wolfishly Yours (review book)
One Good Friend Deserves Another (review book)
Dragonfly in Amber

This back to school thing is cramping my reading time :-(

Sunday, September 9, 2012

My Life as a White Trash Zombie


Book #60 Read in 2012
My Life as a White Trash Zombie

This is the first book in a series. Angel wakes up in the emergency room, not really remembering how she got there.  She gets a note telling her that she now has a job in the coroner's office.  She does not know who got her the job but she needs a job and money.  Then she gets a note to eat brains.  She is not sure why but this makes sense to her; she is actually craving brains.  Eventually she realizes that she is a zombie.

There is someone going around killing people and chopping off their heads.  Angel fairly quickly figures out that the victims had all been zombies.  So now she knows that there is a zombie killer on the loose.  To further complicate things, her drunken father destroys her brain stash.  Things escalate quickly from bad to worse.  But help comes from some surprising sources at times.

This book was a good, fun read.  It had mystery elements, a hint of romance, good action and humor.  Angel is a complex, interesting character.  She seems to be hard core but she has a soft center.  There are decent secondary characters in the book as well.  Angel's father is a character that readers will love to hate.

I enjoyed this book and have the second book on my Kindle to read.  Hope to get to it soon.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Psycho Kitty


#59 Book Read in 2012
Psycho Kittty by Pam Johnson-Bennett

The author of this book is a certified Animal Behavior Consultant.  I enjoyed her book Cat vs. Cat.  In Psycho Kitty, problems covered involve litter box issues, aggression, "weird" cat behaviors and scratching the furniture.  As the proud (?) owner of a cat on Prozac, I enjoy reading these cat behavior books to get any tips that I may not be using already with my zoo crew.  This book was a very quick read.  Issues are addressed in a helpful manner.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Kiss of Steel


Kiss of Steel

This book is part of the steampunk genre, which I am relatively new too.  It is sort of a mix of paranormal and science fiction, in my opinion.

In this book, Honora is trying to provide for her younger sister and brother.  Her brother is sick with the craving disease.  In order to be able to afford any medical treatment, Honora turns herself over to Blade, a highly feared man in their neighborhood.  Normally blood or body would be payment for Blade's protection, but the two strike a deal that she will provide him diction lessons to make him sound more like a gentleman.

Of course the two have chemistry and try to fight that.  There are complications in their relationship--Blade's enemies, Honora's pride etc.  This book was a decent read.  I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Sourcebooks, in exchange for a review.

Friday, August 31, 2012

August 2012 Reads

August 2012 Reads:

1.  Ape House (5/5)
2.  The Knights of Derbyshire (4/5)
3.  The End of Your Life Book Club (4.5/5)
4.  Maine (4/5)
5.  Red Velvet Revenge (5/5) 4th in series
6.  The Dog Who Danced (4.5/5)
7.  The Dog Who Knew Too Much (5/5) 4th in series
8.  Julia's Cats (4/5)

Year to date:  58 books read

Julia's Cats



Book #58 Read in 2012
Julia's Cats 

This is a non-fiction book detailing Julia Child's life with cats.  The book tells a bit about Julia, her marriage to Paul, her foray into cooking and her love for felines.  I loved the book and movie of Julie and Julia so I was interested in reading more about Julia and I love cats so I was curious about her interaction with them.  

Julia had several cats throughout her life and she spoiled every one.  She mourned their losses and enjoyed playing with them.  She treated them as members of her family.  As a cat person, I can relate.  I enjoyed this quick read.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Dog Who Knew Too Much by Spencer Quinn



#57 Book Read in 2012
The Dog Who Knew Too Much
by Spencer Quinn

This is the fourth book in the Chet and Bernie series.  Chet is a dog who tells the story of helping his owner, Bernie, on their cases, as Bernie is a private investigator.  In this book, Chet and Bernie are hired by a woman to find her missing son, who was at a wilderness camp and never returned for an overnight hike.  Not a simple missing persons case, as the boy's father has a criminal bent and got involved in some shady dealings with people local to the camp.  Chet and Bernie take a few shots along the way but continue to try to track down the boy.

This series is a fun one to read.  The books are good mysteries.  Chet and Bernie are great characters and have a nice connection.  Secondary characters like Bernie's girlfriend Suzy are also well-developed.  There is a lot of humor in these books, especially in Chet's telling of the story.  I recommend this series.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Dog Who Danced


Book #56 Read in 2012
The Dog Who Danced by Susan Wilson

Justine is heading cross country to visit her dying father.  She has hooked up a ride with a trucker.  Her baggage is just a few bags and her Sheltie, Mack.  The truck driver ends up leaving Justine at a truck stop and he does not know at first that Mack is still in the back of his truck.  He eventually figures that out and drops Mack off on the side of a major interstate.  Mack is found by Alice and Ed, an older couple who have suffered a great loss and are really looking for someone or something to love, though they may not know it at the time.  As Mack, now called Buddy, begins to bond with Alice and Ed, Justine is spending time with her dying father while trying to track down Mack.  Will Justine and Mack be reunited?

This was a great read.  It was obvious how much Justine loved Mack and also obvious as to how much Alice and Ed loved Buddy.  All of the characters were ones that readers were sympathetic to and would care about their happiness.  Mack/Buddy was a great canine character--smart, intuitive and full of personality plus.  I enjoyed this book a lot.

I received this book to review through the Amazon Vine program.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Red Velvet Revenge



#55 Book Read in 2012
Red Velvet Revenge by Jenn McKinlay

This book is the fourth installment in one of my favorite cozy mystery series.  In this book, Mel and Angie decide to bring their cupcake van to a rodeo to sell their cupcakes.  As always when they are involved, there is drama at the rodeo and someone turns up dead.  Mel begins to investigate the death and of  course gets herself in trouble.  Along with the murder mystery, the romance of Mel and Joe moves forward.  Angie and Tate's unspoken love for each other moves forward in its own way as well.  Along for the ride are Oz and Marty.

I enjoy this series.  The characters are interesting and I love how they all care for each other.  There is a good balance between mystery and romance, with humor thrown in for good measure.  I did miss Captain Jack's antics in this book.  Hopefully in the next one, he gets more page time.

I highly recommend this series.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Maine



#54 Book Read in 2012
Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

A beach cottage in Maine is the setting for a family full of issues.  Alice is the matriarch who lives at the beach cottage.  Every summer her children and grandchildren come out for a month (rotating the time through each child and family) to spend time at the beach house.  Alice is a hard woman for them to feel connected to and she is not really enamored with how her children and grandchildren turned out.  The fur really begins to fly when the children find out that Alice has agreed to donate the cottage and land to her church after her death.  Alice's children are devastated; they assumed they would inherit the place and that their children could continue to spend time there in the summer.

But this book is more about a beach house.  This book details the complicated relationships among family members.  Alice's daughter Kathleen is a recovering alcoholic.  She has not come to the beach house for years.  She does this summer after learning that her own daughter, Maggie, is pregnant and no longer with the father of the baby.  Ann Marie, Alice's daughter-in-law, is not happy in her marriage.  She feels taken for granted by her husband and by Alice, as Ann Marie is the one who does the bulk of the domestic matters.

The characters in this book are complicated and sometimes hard to like but they are interesting to read about and to follow.  The description of the setting is well written.  I enjoyed this book.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The End of Your Life Book Club


#53 Book Read in 2012
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

This book details a very small book club, Will and his mother Mary Ann, who is dying of pancreatic cancer.  The pair decide to use the time spent at the hospital during Mary Ann's chemo treatments to read and discuss books together.  Their discussions bring them even closer together.  This book also tells about the effect that Mary Ann had on the people who knew her.  She was an important part in so many people's lives--personally and professionally.  Mary Ann was a humanitarian who served selflessly for years.  She instilled a care and charity into her children and grandchildren.  

This book was well written.  I felt a loss at the end when the inevitable happened to Mary Ann.  I was concerned about how her family would get through this.  I enjoyed this book--the details about the family and the discussions about the book.  

I received this book from BookBrowse in exchange for a fair, honest review.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Knights of Derbyshire



Book #52 Read in 2012
The Knights of Derbyshire by Marsha Altman


This is the fifth book in a series that picks up where Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice left off.  Austen is my favorite author and Altman stays true to Austen's writing style and Austen's characters.


In this book, Geoffrey, George and Georgie (offspring of Darcy and Elizabeth, Jane and Bingley and the Wickhams) take more of a major role.  Geoffrey is kidnapped by a political activist who wants money and land from Darcy.  While the adults begin to make deals with the kidnapper, Georgie decides to take a more direct approach.  This book had good action.  


Besides the action, there is the ability to revisit beloved characters like Brian and Dr. Maddox, and Gregoire Darcy.  It is like reuniting with old friends.  Lizzy and Darcy still are very much in love, as are Jane and Bingley.  Mr. Bennett still is the beloved father figure.  Seeing these characters later in life is comforting to readers.


I enjoyed this book and have read all  the others in the series.  Altman is a great writer.  I received this book from the author in exchange for a honest review.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ape House



Book #51 Read in 2012
Ape House by Sara Gruen


I recently read Water for Elephants (I know, I know, finally!) by this author and loved her writing style.  I immediately requested Ape House from the library and was not disappointed.  I loved this book as well.


In Ape House, Isabel works with bonobos and has taught them to communicate using Sign Language.  There is a fire in the ape location and Isabel is injured in it.  By the time she is on the road to recovery, the bonobos have been moved and are now used in a reality show produced by a porn producer.  He is hoping to score huge ratings by capitalizing on 24 hour visuals on the bonobos.  Isabel is bound and determined to reunite with her "family" and enlists the help of John Thigpen, a reporter who missed the fire by a matter of hours after interviewing Isabel and the bonobos.  They unite forces, along with some others, to get the bonobos out of the "ape house".


This book has it all--great writing, great characters (including the bonobos, who have very distinct personalities, twists and turns, romance and even some humor.  I was rooting for the bad guys to get theirs and for the bonobos to have a happy ending.  Now I have to decide which book by Gruen to read next.

Melissa's July Reads

July reads:


1.  Pride and Pyramids (4/5) review book
2.  Dead in the Family (5/5)  10th in series
3.  These Things Hidden (5/5)  Kindle
4.  What Alice Forgot (4.5/5)  Kindle
5.  Little Shop of Homicide (4.5/5)   1st in series
6.  Lost and Fondue (5/5)  2nd in series  Kindle
7.  Before I Go To Sleep (4/5)  Kindle
8.  Open and Shut (5/5)  1st in series


Books read so far in 2012:  50 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Open and Shut



#50 Book Read in 2012
Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt


This is the first book in the Andy Carpenter series.  Andy is a defense attorney.  His father, right before he dies, asks Andy to handle the second trial of Willie, on death row for brutally killing a woman in a back alley.  As Andy begins to mount a defense, he is set up as a pimp and beaten.  Someone is not happy with the investigation that Andy is doing but why?  And who?  Andy is not one to give up easily and keeps digging with the help of his investigator and sometimes lover Laurie and fellow lawyer Kevin.  


This book was a good mystery.  It had twists and turns that kept me hooked until the end.  Andy is an interesting character--he is not perfect at all, which makes him all the more real.  I liked the chemistry between he and Laurie.  I loved his dog Tara.  I will definitely continue this series.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Before I Go To Sleep



Book #49 Read in 2012
Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson


Christine does not remember anything when she wakes up each morning.  She is in bed with a stranger, she does not recognize the house she is in, she looks 20 years old in the mirror than she remembers--what is happening to her?  A trauma to her head has made it impossible for her retain new memories.  She begins to write in a journal that she reads every day.  This journal forms her memories of her life and her family--but is it true?


This book was a decent mystery with good twists and turns.  Some parts were predictable but overall I enjoyed it.  Readers will want Chrissy to figure out a way of getting back her life and her loved ones.  



Bookmarks are in . . ..

Bookmarks are in the following:


Ape House by Sara Gruen--I loved her book Water for Elephants when I finally read it recently


Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt--good so far


The Dog Who Danced--for review for Amazon Vine


Red Velvet Revenge by Jenn McKinley--love this cozy mystery series


Dead Reckoning--11th in the Sookie Stackhouse books


Before I Go to Sleep--about 75% through--good read


What are you reading????

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lost and Fondue


Book #48 Read in 2012


Lost and Fondue by Avery Aames


This is the second book in a cozy mystery series set in a cheese shop.  This series really makes me regret my lactose intolerance, LOL.


In this book, Charlotte once again dons her amateur detective hat when a local artist is killed at a fundraiser.  The niece of Charlotte's friend is taken into custody and Charlotte wants to clear her name.  However, this puts Charlotte herself at risk as she finds out the hard way.


This series is a good cozy mystery series.  Charlotte and her friend Rebecca are good sleuths.  Charlotte's cousin Matthew is a character that readers care about and when his ex comes back to town to try to take away their daughters from him, readers will root for him to win the custody battle.  Secondary characters are well developed as well, such as Charlotte's grandparents and the Police Chief Urso.  Personally, I love Charlotte's cat Rags, a Ragdoll, since I have three Ragdolls my self.


I have the third book here in the TBR pile.  I recommend this series to cozy mystery fans.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Little Shop of Homicide


#47 Book Read in 2012 
Little Shop of Homicide by Denise Swanson


This is the first book in a relatively new cozy mystery series.  Deveraux has returned to her hometown and taken over a dime store and also has a business making specialty gift baskets.  Also in her hometown is Noah, her ex from her younger years.  Their relationship broke up with Dev's father was convicted of a crime.  


When a socialite is murdered using parts of the gift basket Dev was hired to make for her, Dev becomes a prime suspect--especially when the murdered person is the fiancee of Dev's ex.  Luckily her grandmother has a friend with a US Marshal nephew, Jake, and Jake agrees to investigate the murder to prove Dev's innocence.  Dev and Jake begin a romance.  


There are good twists and turns in the mystery investigation.  The characters are interesting and well-written.  I liked the friendship between Dev and her friends Boone and Poppy.  Dev's grandmother provided some comic relief.  Overall, I enjoyed this book and will continue this series.

Monday, July 23, 2012

What Alice Forgot


#46 Book Read in 2012
What Alice Forgot


Alice Love falls and hits her head while working out at the gym.  When she wakes up, she thinks it is 1998, but it is really 2008.  Alice has forgotten the past ten years of her life, including the birth of her three children, her separation from her husband and her sister's infertility issues.  Alice pieces together from people that her personality in 2008 is very different than it was in 1998, and not for the better necessarily.  Alice tries to regain her memory, tries to figure out her kids and their personalities and tries to understand why she and Nick have parted ways.  


At first I thought this book was going to be chick lit, which I love, and it sort of was but it had more substance than most chick lit books.  Alice really has to decide which way she wants to live her life:  like "young" Alice or the new, go-getter Alice.  The characters were interesting and well-developed and I wanted things to work out for them.  I enjoyed this book.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Liebster Award

The Liebster Award is for bloggers with less than 200 followers.  Award winners share 11 facts about themselves and  answer 11 questions asked by the blogger who tagged them.  They should also ask 11 questions of their own and tag 11 bloggers but that part I am saving for later.

11 facts about me:
1.  I am an English Teacher.
2.  I love to read
3.  I have 5 cats.
4.  I would rather have a stay-cation than a vacation.
5.  I have a quick temper.
6.  The Maury Povich show is my guilty pleasure.
7.  I would hate to live in a city.
8.  I do not cook, except to make prozac chicken for my cat.
9.  I would love to have a full time job reading books for pay.
10. My favorite color is blue.
11.  I suffer from migraines.

My questions from Mocha, Mysteries and More:
1.  Christmas or Halloween?  Neither--we never get any trick or treaters and we don't really decorate for Christmas because the cats would like the tree a little too much.
2.  Favorite pizza topping:  Sausage
3.  Coffee, tea or cocoa:  Coffee or cocoa--not a tea fan.
4.  What is your favorite time of day to read:  During the school year, early evening.  Summer vacation--all day.
5.  What is the first website you go to in the morning:  Either facebook or my school email
6.  Favorite cable channel:  ABC Family or Sci Fi
7.  When you walk in the bookstore what is the first section you visit?  Mysteries
8.  Favorite ice cream flavor:  Vanilla
9.  Do you collect anything besides books?  Tea cups and tea pots (and yes I don't drink tea).
10.  Snowmen or gingerbread men?  Snowmen
11.  Do you believe in ghosts?  No


Sunday, July 8, 2012

These Things Hidden


#45 Book Read in 2012
These Things Hidden


Allison has been released from prison after serving five years for drowning her newborn daughter. She is now at a halfway house and trying to reconnect with her parents and her younger sister, Brynn.  None of that is going well.  Allison begins a job at a bookstore and meets owner Claire and her adopted son, Joshua.  This introduction may very well end up being the surprise of her life.


I thought I had this book figured out 35% through but I did not and I loved that there were so many twists and turns.  Each chapter is told from a different character's viewpoint and this allows readers to really get to know the characters and get a feel for what is going on inside their heads. The twists and turns of this book make it hard to put down.  This is the second book that I have read by this author and she is fast becoming a must read for me.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Dead in the Family



#44 Book Read in 2012
Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris


This is the tenth book in the Sookie Stackhouse series.  In this book, Eric's maker comes to town, bringing Eric's younger "brother" with him.  The brother has quiet the blood lust.  Additionally, Bill is still sick and Sookie feels obligated to do something to help him.  Along with all that is legislation that is in the works to make werewolves and shapeshifters register with the government.  As if that is not enough to keep a girl busy, someone recently buried a body on Sookie's property. 


As always, I loved this book--this is one of my favorite series.  I like Sookie and Eric together.  This book had a good bunch of twists and turns and action, mystery and romance.  Great read!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Pride and Pyramids



#43 Book Read in 2012
Pride and Pyramids by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb


In this book, a continuation of Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice, Mr and Mrs Darcy are heading to Egypt.  Along for the trip are their children, Darcy's cousin Edward, Lizzy's friend Sophie and an artist, Paul, whom they commissioned to memorialize their trip through his art.  But things are not totally pleasant.  Lizzy's mother has managed to get herself on board for the trip.  Meg has a mysterious, creepy doll who seems to put her under some magical spell.  The treasure hunt is not as easily solved and not without pain.  


This book stays true to Austen's style and characters.  There is romance and mystery.  Wickham is still a creep.  Mrs. Bennett is still extremely annoying.  Darcy and Lizzy are still one of literature's greatest couples.  Jane Austen fans will enjoy this book.  It allows them a little more of their beloved characters.


I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Sourcebooks, in exchange for a review.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Water for Elephants



#42 Book Read in 2012
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen


I have put off reading this book for a while now because I was afraid that I would not be able to handle the way the animals were treated in it.  After a few friends read, they assured me that I would be able to handle it, so I added it to the reading list for a class I am teaching this summer.  Boy, am I glad that I did!


Part of this book is set in a nursing home, where an elderly Jacob is living and waiting for his famiy to visit so they can bring him to the circus.  The majority of this book is set in a circus, a second rate circus who really wants to be Ringling Bros.  Jacob joins the circus and is considered their vet, even though he does not have his official degree from Cornell.  He meets the circus folk and instantly forms a love/hate relationship with August and an attraction relationship with August's wife, Marlena.  


Circus life is not easy and this book shows it.  Animals are treated as property and receive basic, minimum care.  There is a huge class distinction between workers and performers.  Money is given out in order of the caste system.  There are nice people like Walter, Earl and Greg.  There are evil people like Uncle Al.  The most despicable character in this book is August.  He abused his wife, his animals and his workers.  I was hoping for justice and felt satisfied with how August ends up.


There is also some not so dark relationships in this book. Jacob and Marlena share a deep connection and they spend time together, even though it is forbidden.  Walter loves his dog Queenie.   Jacob has a connection with the animals, especially Bobo and Rosie.  Camel gets Jacob a job with the show.  There are good people in this book and readers will root for them.


A difficult at times book to read, it was also powerful.  I recommend it.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Meryl Streep Movie Club



#41 Book Read in 2012


The Meryl Streep Movie Club


Lolly owns an inn with her husband.  One New Year's Eve, her sister calls for a ride home from a party.  Lolly sends her husband.  There is an accident and Lolly's husband, sister and brother-in-law are killed.  Lolly ends up parenting her own daughter Kat, and her two nieces, Isabel and June, on her own.  As the girls grow apart from each other and Lolly, their lives are taking interesting turns.  Years later, Lolly calls the three together at the inn for an announcement.  Lolly tells them that she has cancer.  The three girls decide that their individual lives are not the focus now and they band together to take care of Lolly.


This book was a great read.  It was well written chick lit and had characters that readers would care about and feel invested in.  There were good romantic stories woven into the drama of the cancer and some mystery elements as well. The author did a nice job weaving in the films of Meryl Streep to represent what the characters were going through at those points of the book.   I enjoyed it a lot.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street

Book #40 Read in 2012
The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street


This book is the sequel to 84 Charing Cross Road, which I loved.  This one was good but I did not enjoy it as much as the first.  That being said, this was still a nice read.  In this book, Helene has made it to London and sees places that she only dreamed of seeing.  She connects with the wife and daughter of the man who was her correspondent for years.  Helene is a star of sorts and she is overwhelmed with the gifts and fawning people give to her.  She wonders how she will ever settle in back home to her ordinary life.


This book is told in journal format, which works to make readers feel so connected to Helene.  It is a nice, quick read and brings closure to her story nicely.  I enjoyed this book.