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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Where I Belong (YA)

Book #126 Read in 2014
Where I Belong by Mary Downing Hahn (YA)

Brendan is having trouble fitting in at school; he is considered the weird kid.  He would rather hang out in the treehouse he built than hang with the other kids.  He meets a man who he believes to be the mythical Green Man and Brendan eventually makes another friend of the new girl from summer school--Shea.  Brendan is bullied and feels as if his foster mother does not understand him.  He finds solace in nature and books.  Nothing really prepares him for the understanding that not fitting in can actually put him at great risk.  This was a good, quick read and I think middle schoolers would enjoy it.  I borrowed this book from my town library.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Noggin (YA)

Book #125 Read in 2014
Noggin by John Corey Whaley (YA)

The premise of this book is an interesting one.  Travis is a teenager with cancer.  He decides he wants to try experimental treatment which consists of his head being removed from his body and frozen.  Eventually, doctors hope to have the technology to attach his cancer-free head to a healthy body.  After five years, Travis wakes up and it feels as if no time has passed.  His new body is healthy.  But fitting back in to his life is not as easy as he thought it would be.  Travis is still in high school and his friends are now in college.  His girlfriend has moved on with other relationships.  This book details the difficulty Travis has with getting his life back.  Overall, a good read.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Reading in the Wild

Book #124 Read in 2014
Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller

This is a book that readers will love.  It is about books, reading and why readers read what they read.  A Middle School Teacher, Miller shares her love for books and reading with her students and strives to instill a life-long love of reading within her students.  She gives tips about how to recommend books, how to find genres that students might want to try and how to value reading, both in school and at home.  Her writing style is not preachy or textbook-like; this book flows like a good fictional read.  The appendices in the back have great resources to use in classroom.  A colleague and I will be offering a book study on this book to faculty in the summer; I look forward to hearing how our teachers find things to read, how they became readers and how they instill a love of reading in our students.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Lending a Paw

Book #123 Read in 2014
Lending a Paw by Laurie Cass

This is the first in a cozy mystery series.  Minnie is a small-town librarian who has just introduced a bookmobile.  She also has just found Eddie, a stray cat.  Eddie seems wise beyond his feline abilities, which will come in handy as Minnie tries to solve the murder of Stan, the bookmobile's benefactor.  The mystery was well-written; I was not sure of the murderer's identity until the reveal in the storyline.  Minnie is an intelligent and interesting character and the town is a wonderful setting, as is the library and the bookmobile.  Of course, I love Eddie.  I highly recommend this to cozy mystery readers and book #2 is in my TBR pile.

Girl Before a Mirror

Book #122 Read in 2014
Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer

Anna Wyatt is in advertising.  She likes to control things (work, family, personal life).  Anna decides she wants to land a shower gel account and try to move up the ranks in the agency.  With help from artist Sasha, Anna heads to a romance books convention to try to land the account...and a cover model for the campaign.  Along the way, she meets Lincoln and that is more than she bargained for.  Anna begins to take stock of her life and realizes that control doesn't always mean happiness.

This was my first book by Palmer; I liked her writing style and read others by her.  This was more substantial than chick lit, which is sort of ironic since it is heavily set on romance novels and their readers.  Anna is a character women can relate to and understand. 

I received a copy of this book in exchange for a honest review from the Amazon Vine program.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Case of the Missing Moonstone (YA)

Book #121 Read in 2014
The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford and Kelly Murphy (YA)

This is the first book in a young adult/middle readers mystery series.  Based on real people, the main characters are Ada Lovelace and Mary Godwin.  The two, paired up to share a tutor, decide to open their own detective agency.  They get their first case and use their intelligence and wits to solve it.  This book had a good plot and humor in it.  I enjoyed viewing the historical figures as they were portrayed in this book.  This was a good, quick read and I will continue this series.

I received an advanced copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a honest review.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Good, The Bad, and the Witchy

Book #120 Read in 2014
The Good, the Bad and the Witchy by Heather Blake

This is the third book in a paranormal cozy mystery series. Darcy is a Wishcrafter....she can grant other people's wishes.  Set in a magical village, this series is a comfort read for me; I enjoy the characters and the setting.  In this book, local crafter Michael is murdered and his ghost has imprinted on Darcy.  To help him find peace, she wants to solve the murder.  To try to do so puts her at risk.  This series has the cozy mystery element, a paranormal element, humor and romance.  I enjoy it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Testing (YA)

Book #119 Read in 2014
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau (YA)

This is the first book in a young adult dystopian trilogy.  Similar to the Hunger Games, there is a completion or a "testing" of young people selected from each colony.  Those people are tested on a variety of elements and the failing of such tests can have dire, even deadly, results.  Cia is one of the forerunners of the testing.   Will she be able to retain herself and her humanity and survive the selection process?

The book was engaging and kept my interest.  Cia was a brave and intelligent main character.  The plot had good twists and turns and the story had a complex set of secondary characters.  I will read the other two books in the series.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Maggot Moon (YA)

Book #118 Read in 2014
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner (YA)

This book is a young adult dystopian book.  It is a "what if" in regards to putting man on the moon...detailing what could have happened in that ended differently.  Standish is a 15 year old who can barely read or write, but he is intelligent (he has a great vocabulary), brave and resourceful....all traits that come in handy in this "Big Brother" like world.  Standish lives with his grandfather; his parents disappeared after his mother was physically abused for speaking out against the government. 

I read this book in one sitting.  The chapters are short and interesting; this book would be ideal for a reluctant reader, especially males.  It flows well and has a lot of action throughout the book.  I recommend it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

All Fall Down (YA)

Book #117 Read in 2014
All Fall Down by Ally Carter

This is the first book in the Embassy Row series.  Grace's grandfather is the American Ambassador and she has grown up in the political scene.  Three years ago, her mother died and Grace is convinced that she was killed by a man with a scarred face.  When she goes to live with her grandfather, she doesn't expect to find that man there...but is he really a killer?  Or is this a way that Grace has made up to cope with the loss of her mother.  At times, Grace was unlikable but overall she was an interesting character.  The plot had good elements of mystery and humor and had an interesting cast of secondary characters. 

I received an ARC of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a honest review.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Fallout (YA)

Book #116 Read in 2014
Fallout by Todd Strasser (YA)

This book takes the premise of a nuclear bomb being dropped in 1962; only Scott's family has built a bomb shelter.  What happens when neighbors want to stay in it too?  Will Scott's father, who took the threat seriously enough to build the shelter, have stocked in adequately in preparation?  What happens when a group of adults and children are stuck in a bomb shelter for a few weeks in close  quarters?  This book reminded me a bit of Lord of the Flies set in a bomb shelter.  It was a good, quick read.  I think this book is more geared towards boys.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Tombquest: Book of the Dead (YA)

Book #115 Read in 2014
Tombquest: Book of the Dead (YA)

This is the first book in a new YA series.  Besides the book, there is a companion game that I can see kids getting into.  In the book, Alex is a sickly youngster.  When he takes a turn for the worse, his mother, who is a Keeper, uses the book of the dead to bring Alex back to life.  But this also brings other things back to life that probably should have remained dead.  Alex's mother is kidnapped so Alex, along with Ren (his best friend) try to find his mother and figure out a way to stop more dead things from coming back to life. 

This was a good, quick read.  Reluctant readers would enjoy this fast-paced book.  Alex and Ren are intelligent and brave characters who are interesting to read about; this book also has elements of history and paranormal to it.  I will read more of this series.  I received an ARC of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a honest review.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Book #114 Read in 2014
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

This classic novel has been on my shelf for years.  In the mood for a meaty read, I decided it was time to read it and I enjoyed the gothic novel.  Rebecca was the first wife of Maxim de Winter and she died.  Max seems to be moving on when he meets a young lady and marries her shortly after.  He brings her home to Manderley and she realizes that not everyone is happy about there being a new Mrs. de Winter.  As layers are pulled back, revelations that are not necessarily cheerful occur.  This book reminded me of another favorite of mine, Wuthering Heights.  I found both books to have lush writing.

Monday, December 1, 2014

November Reads

November Reads:

1.  Under the Egg (YA)  4.5/5  library book
2.  First Frost (5/5)
3.  Blood of my Blood (YA)  5/5  3rd in series
4.  End Times (YA)  4/5
5.  Lantern Sam and the Blue Streak Bandits (YA)  5/5
6.  The Graveyard Book (YA)  4/5
7.  Quarantine #2:  The Saints (YA)  5/5
8.  The Here and Now (YA)  4.5/5  Kindle
9.  The Spiritglass Charade (YA)  5/5  2nd in series  Kindle
10.  How to be a Heroine (5/5)

113 books read in 2014

Saturday, November 29, 2014

How to be a Heroine

Book #113 Read in 2014
How to be  Heroine by Samantha Ellis

This is a non-fiction book, where the author reflects back to her literary heroines that she revered as a younger reader...and she decides to revisit them by re-reading the books and seeing if she still feels the same about them.  Ellis does a nice combination of more mainstream books (Gone with the Wind, Little Women) and more obscure titles.  It was an interesting read to me; I enjoy reading about readers reflecting on their reading.  I read this book in a day; it flowed well.

I received a copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a honest review.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Spiritglass Charade (YA)

Book #112 Read in 2014
The Spiritglass Charade by Colleen Gleason (YA)

This is the second book in a young adult steampunk series.  This series features the niece of Sherlock Holmes, Mina, and the sister of Bran Stoker, Evaline.  The two pair up to solve mysteries of a supernatural nature using their talents of intelligence, bravery and the occasional vampire slaying.  In this book, a young lady is trying to find her missing brother and is convinced that her dead mother is trying to help her do so.  But is someone trying to make her believe that she is crazy?  Additionally, vampires have returned to London and have begun preying on victims.

I enjoy this series a lot.  The steampunk element (modern things set in past times) is not jarring but well done.  The pair of main characters are gutsy and smart.  The mystery was well done and had good twists and turns.  I hope there will more in this series. 

I received an e-ARC of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for a honest review.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Here and Now (YA)

Book #111 Read in 2014
The Here and Now by Ann Brashares (YA)

This is a young adult dystopian book.  The main character is a teenage girl who, when a young child, traveled back in time from a future where a blood plague has killed many people.  There are rules that these "travelers" must follow in order to live safely among the people truly from the present. Prenna begins to break these rules when she becomes very close to Ethan; Ethan knows her true story.  The two try to save a life and create a new future.  Will they be able to do so without hurting everyone more?

This was a quick reading; the writing flowed well.  It had mystery, action, science fiction, romance and humor in it.  I enjoyed it.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Quarantine 2: The Saints

Book #110 Read in 2014
Quarantine 2:  The Saints by Lex Thomas (YA)

This is a sort of modernized Lord of the Flies set in a high school.  This book, the second in the series, picks up right where the first book ends so I recommend that they be read in order.  Will and Lucy are trying to keep the Loners connected but their numbers have greatly dwindled and the teens are looking for other factions to join.  The Saints are newcomers who quickly take control of the chaos in the high school.  These books are full of action, humor and some graphic scenes but they will definitely keep readers engaged.  I loved the first two books and have the third book in my TBR pile.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Graveyard Book (YA)

Book #109 Read in 2014
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (YA)

Nobody (or Bod) escapes from his family's murderer as a toddler by wandering into a graveyard.  The graveyard residents decide that Bod can live in the graveyard and they will protect him.  Also protecting him is his graveyard guardian Silas.  He makes sure that the boy has food and clothes as he grows.  As Bod grows though he wants to experience life outside of the graveyard....but is it safe?  I enjoyed this book.  It would make a good Halloween read with werewolves, vampires, ghosts and mummies in it.  I enjoyed it.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lantern Sam and the Blue STreak Bandits (YA)

Book #108 Read in 2014
Lantern Sam and the Blue Streak Bandits by Michael D. Beil (YA)

This was a cute read.  Lantern Sam is a cat who can telepathically speak to certain people....two of which are train conductor Clarence and train passenger Henry.  Henry meets Ellie, a young girl who comes from a rich family and who eventually gets kidnapped on the train ride.  Henry teams up with Sam to find her and figure out the identity of the kidnappers.  I loved Lantern Sam; he was a great character.  I would recommend this book upper elementary and middle school readers. 

End Times (YA)

Book #107 Read in 2014
End Times by Anna Schumacher  (YA)

This book was a good, quick read. Daphane moves from her mother's abusive household to her aunt and uncle's religious one in a town that is financially dying.  Daphane is soon seen as making miracles when she finds oil on her uncle's property.  The town is beginning a renewal of sort and her cousin's unborn child is deemed to be a prophet in the making.  On the flip side, there seems to be a religious cult that is heading the town's way.  The ending of this book screams for a sequel.  While the religious parts got a bit much for me at times, overall it was a good read and kept my interest.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Blood of My Blood (YA)

Book #106 Read in 2014
Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga (YA)

This is the conclusion to the trilogy that began with the book I Hunt Killers and it is a more than satisfying end.  While these books can be graphic, they are also haunting.  In this one, Jazz is hunting down Billy Dent, his serial killer father, who has kidnapped Jazz's girlfriend Connie.  Billy wants Jazz to become a killer like his old man.  Jazz has reconciled himself that this may indeed have to happen to save those he loves.  While close to 500 pages, this book races along with a plot full of twists and turns.  I am sorry to see this series end, but love that this book does such a good job of bringing closure to this storyline.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Under the Egg (YA)

Book #105 Read in 2014 (YA)
Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

This book would be recommended for fans of Chasing Vermeer or Manhunt.  Theo is a resourceful 13 year old whose grandfather has recently died so she is now taking care of her reclusive mother, the house, the garden and the chickens.  Her grandfather told her to look for treasure under the egg and Theo realizes that the painting of the egg above the mantel has another painting that she believes may be worth a lot of money.  Her new friend Bodhi helps her try to solve the mystery.  There is a lot of art history in this book as well as history about World War II.  

I enjoyed this book.  It was a quick read that had great characters.  The mystery plot was an interesting one.  I borrowed this book from my town library.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

First Frost

Book #104 Read in 2014
First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

One of my favorite authors, Sarah Addison Allen's soon-to-be-released book First Frost does not disappoint.  Claire Waverly returns in this book and is questioning her Waverly gift.  Her sister Sydney is dealing with her daughter Bay getting older and having her heart set on a boy...the son of Sydney's high school sweetheart who broke her heart.  The family bands together when unity is threatened and the magical realism that this author does so well is throughout the book.  The apple tree and Claire's house are characters in their own right and this was the perfect book to read around Halloween, with the weather getting colder.  I received a copy of this book from BookBrowse, in exchange for a honest review. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

October Reads

October Reads:

1.  Aviary Wonders Inc. (YA)  3/5  library book
2.  Rites of Passage (YA)  4/5  Amazon Vine review book
3.  Nest (YA)  4/5  library book
4.  All the Light We Cannot See (4/5)
5.  Freakboy (YA)  5/5  library book
6.  Harlem Hellfighters (YA)  3.5/5  library book
7.  Loot (YA)  4.5/5  Amazon Vine review book
8.  Counting by 7s (YA)  5/5
9.  Sisters (YA)  3.5/5  Kindle book
10.  The Gospel of Winter (YA)  3/5
11.  Prisoner B-3087 (YA)  5/5
12.  Never Ending (YA)  3/5  Amazon Vine review book
13.  Manhunt (YA)  5/5  library book  3rd in series

103 books read in 2014

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Manhunt (YA)

Book #103 Read in 2014
Manhunt by Kate Messner (YA)

This is the third book in a young adult mystery series but I was able to have no issues with not reading the two prior books (though I did order the first book in the series to read because I enjoyed this one so much).  Henry, Anna and Jose are junior members of a secret society committed to keep artistic masterpieces safe.  Their parents or aunts and uncles are adult members of this society and are trying to recover multiple stolen pieces while protecting those not yet taken.  This book had a good mystery to it and good literary and artistic allusions.  Fans of Chasing Vermeer would like this series.  I would recommend it for middle school to high school students.  I borrowed this book from my town library.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Never Ending (YA)

Book #102 Read in 2014
Never Ending by Martyn Bedford (YA)

Shiv is in therapy at a clinic; she is trying to recover from the death of her brother, Declan.  Shiv blames herself for his death, which happened while the family was on vacation in Greece.  Through flashbacks, readers begin to get the picture of Shiv's relationship with her brother and where things began to fall apart.  This book bogged down a bit for me in the middle and at times I thought about putting it down unfinished, but I had to keep going to find out how Declan died and if Shiv really was to blame as she believed.  This is definitely geared toward high school students.  I think a reluctant reader would have a hard time finishing this book.

I received a copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a honest review.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Prisoner B-3087

Book #101 Read in 2014
Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz (YA)

I read this book in one sitting.  It is based on the true story of Jack Gruener, a holocaust survivor.  Detailed in this book are the pain and suffering he and his family endured throughout World War II.  This book is extremely powerful and while graphic at times, I believe high school students could handle this book.  Adults will find it a worthwhile read as well.  No matter how many books about the holocaust I read, I am still blown away by what the Nazis did to fellow human beings.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Gospel of Winter (YA)

Book #100 Read in 2014
The Gospel of Winter by Brendan Kiely

The first 50 pages of this book sucked me right in...I knew there was something horrible that happened to Aidan and he wasn't dealing with it and I wanted to know how it would work out in the end.  Then the majority of the rest of the book left me pissed off that the parents were so clueless.  These boys were showing obvious signs of something traumatic happening to them, but no adult seemed to noticed...or if they did, they definitely weren't trying to address the issue.  I'm sure that is how it is in real life more often than not, but it pissed me off nonetheless.  I found the ending a bit abrupt; I would have liked to see more resolution.  That being said, I had to finish the book because I needed to know what happened to Aidan.  Due to subject matter, I would say certain high school students could handle this book.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sisters (YA)

Book #99 Read in 2014
Sisters by Raina Telgemeier (YA)

This graphic novel is a sequel to Smile, also a graphic novel.  I really liked Smile but Sisters left me a bit disappointed.  In Sisters, Raina and her sister and brother and mother are driving cross-country to visit family.  Raina and her sister never get along so neither are really looking forward to being trapped in a moving vehicle together for a week.  There is sparring back and forth.  This book had potential to be a bit more meaty (mother and father having marital problems) but that potential was never really addressed and the ending felt left me wanting more.  That being said, I think a middle school reader would be ok with it.  Cute read.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Counting by 7s (YA)

Book #98 Read in 2014
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

I loved this book, though it was not without it's emotionally heartbreaking parts.  Willow is a bit different...intelligent, set in her routines, not very socially adept.  Her parents, who adopted her, are loving, caring and work with Willow's glitches.  Then Willow's world is turned upside down when her parents are killed in a car accident.  While Child Services are searching for a foster home for Willow, she begins a very unlikely new family of sorts....full of people with their own glitches. 

The writing is superb and the characters are wonderfully unique.  I loved Willow.  There is enough humor, emotion and mystery (will she find a good home?) to keep readers engaged.  I would recommend this to readers from middle school to high school to adults.  Loved it!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Loot (YA)

Book #97 Read in 2014
Loot by Jude Watson (YA)

March is the son of Alfie, a jewelry thief.  After Alfie's death, March finds his estranged sister Jules and the two try to steal a complete set of seven moonstones to get enough money to live independently.  But they need to outwit other jewelry thieves who are after the same prize.  They hope they can do so, with the help of fellow "at-risk" teenagers Darius and Izzy. 

This book was a good, quick read.  It would definitely keep the interest of both boy and girl readers, from the upper elementary grades, to middle school grades, to even reluctant readers in high school.  The plot was full of action; the characters were interesting.  I enjoyed it.

I received a copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a honest review.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Harlem Hellfighters (YA)

Book #96 Read in 2014
Harlem Hellfighters by J. Patrick Lewis

I don't really know how to categorize this book so here it goes:  it is a graphic novel about true events...that makes sense, right?  This book details the contribution of African-American soldiers during World War I.  It contains beautiful illustrations, short verse poetry and power messages.  This is a very quick read and can be used as an introduction to historical events on a K-12 level.  I borrowed this book from the public library.

Freakboy (YA)

Book #95 Read in 2014
Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark (YA)

This is a young adult verse novel about a transgender teenager.  Brendan feels that things are not right within his body.  He feels drawn to a female identity.  His girlfriend, Vanessa, knows that something is going on with him but he doesn't confide in her.  Brendan meets Angel, a transgender young adult, and Angel begins to help him try to figure things out.  This was a good, quick read.   I borrowed this book from the public library.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

All the Light We Cannot See

Book #94 Read in 2014
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This book takes place during World War 2 and is told in alternating chapters from the viewpoint of Werner, a young boy in the Nazi Party, and Marie-Laure, a blind French girl.  Both viewpoints detail the effects of war and the trials that people had to go through.  Near the end of the book (quick moving even though it is over 500 pages long) the two intersect for a brief but meaningful period of time. 

The writing of this book is lush and excellent.  The characters are wonderfully developed and leap off the page.  As I said, this book is long but the chapters are short and the book's pace is quick moving.  I would recommend this book to high school students and adults alike. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Nest (YA)

Book #93 Read in 2014
Nest by Esther Ehrlich (YA)

Naomi (otherwise known as Chirp) is a young girl who is intelligent, curious and interesting.  Life hasn't dealt her an easy hand with a depressed mother but Chirp finds a way to get through.  Joey is her neighbor who seems to be living in an abusive home.  Chirp and Joey strike up an unlikely friendship which ends up being a good thing for both of them and helps get them through the hard times. 

I liked the writing and character development in this book.  Chirp reminded me a bit of Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird. There is a lot of layers to this book; I would recommend it to middle school readers.

I borrowed this book from my town library.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Rites of Passage (YA)

Book #92 Read in 2014
Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley (YA)

Sam McKenna has grown up in a military family--her father is a highly ranked officer and her two older brothers were headed for military careers.  Then tragedy struck their family and on one last dare from her brother Amos, Sam enters a military academy as one of the first five female recruits.  The females are not wanted at the academy--by the bigwigs or by most of the others at the academy.  Sam is forced to endure physical and emotional humiliation as the others try to break her and get her to quit.

This was a good read.  It had a lot of action to hold a reader's interest.  Sam was an interesting character and a strong female protagonist.  I enjoyed it.  I would recommend it to both male and female high school students.  I received a copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a honest review. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Aviary Wonders Inc.

Book #91 Read in 2014
Aviary Wonders Inc. by Kate Samworth

This was a cute, quick read detailing how to order and assemble parts to make your own bird.  Set up as a catalog, it is a comment on endangered species done in a way that younger readers can understand.  Through the catalog, one can choose body type, wings, beaks etc of the bird that they are creating.  Sprinkled throughout the book are tidbits about types of birds that are no longer around. 

Melissa's September Reads

Melissa's September Reads:

1.  Thursdays in the Park (5/5)
2.  The Dog Stays in the Picture (4/5)
3.  The Goddess of Kitchen Avenue (4/5)  library book
4.  Death Coming Up the Hill (4/5)  YA
5.  How to Fall (4.5/5)  YA  library book  1st in series
6.  Anatomy of a Misfit (4/5)  YA
7.  365 Days of Wonder (4.5/5)  YA

90 books read in 2014

Monday, September 29, 2014

365 Days of Wonder (YA)

Book #90 Read in 2014
365 Days of Wonder by R.J. Palacio

This is a companion book to Wonder, which I loved.  This book has a precept for each day of the year.  Additionally, there are emails and letters and postcards from Mr. Browne's former students (who were characters in the book Wonder)...this would make a great gift book for those in education.  It shows the effect that educators can have on students, even if they don't know it at the time.  

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Anatomy of a Misfit (YA)

Book #89 Read in 2014
Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes (YA)

This book details the pressure of being one of the popular kids, maintaining that popularity and the affect that bullying can have on high school students.  Anika is most likely the third most popular girl in her class and, to keep her standing, she bows to the whim of Becky, the most popular girl.  Anika begins a secretive relationship with Logan; this relationship must be hidden because Logan isn't deemed a cool boyfriend by Becky.  Add in to this some dysfunctional familial relationships as well as stealing and domestic violence and you have a book full of edgy teenage angst.  This book was well written and just flowed.  I recommend it.

I received a copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a honest review.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

How to Fall (YA)

Book #88 Read in 2014
How to Fall by Jane Casey

This was a decent young adult mystery.  Jess and her mother go to visit relatives over the summer and Jess is drawn into trying to solve the death (suicide?) of her look-alike cousin, Freya.  Jess begins to wonder if it was suicide or murder and begins an investigation, which of course puts herself at risk.  There were decent twists and turns to this book that kept me engaged.  It is the first in a series and I will read book #2 at some point.  I borrowed this book from my town library.

Death Coming Up the Hill (YA)

Book #87 Read in 2014
Death Coming Up the Hill by Chris Crowe (YA)

This is a verse novel about the Vietnam War.  It follows 17 year old Ashe and how his world is changing.  His mother is protesting the war; his father supports it.  His girlfriend is more along the political lines of his mother but her brother is fighting in the war so it affects her greatly.  Ashe watches the marriage of his parents fall apart and feels helpless in so many ways....while the backdrop of this story details the weekly number of those killed in the war, racial tensions etc.  

I read this book in one sitting.  The verse format flows well and sort of keeps the book from being overwhelming with such a heavy topic.  I would recommend it to high school students, especially boys who are reluctant readers.  I received a copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a honest review.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue

Book #86 Read in 2014
The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue by Barbara Samuel

This was a good women's fiction read.  It details the lives of four women who are neighbors and who are dealing with issues.  Roberta's husband just died.  Trudy's husband cheated on her.  Jade's ex-husband is in jail.  Shannelle's husband does not understand her desire to be a writer.  Told in alternating chapters, the women work through their issues and help out each other.  This was my first book by this author but I will read more of her work; I enjoyed her writing style.  I borrowed this book from my town library.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Dog Stays in the Picture

Book #85 Read in 2014
The Dog Stays in the Picture by Susan Morse

This book tells a different type of love story....between a woman and her rescued greyhound.  Susan is an actor's wife whose children are heading off to college.  To fill a void, she adopts a rescued greyhound, Lilly, whose racetrack career has come to an end.  Lilly bonds with Susan and cannot bear to be separated from her.  With patience, Susan's husband wins Lilly's over, and with finesse, Susan gets Lilly to be able to stay home alone with wrecking the place.  This was a nice read.  I received a copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a honest review.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Thursdays in the Park

Book #84 Read in 2014
Thursdays in the Park by Hilary Boyd

Jeanie's husband of many years pulls away from her, emotionally and physically.  She continues to go through the motions, trying to figure out where things went wrong.  Her light is her granddaughter, Ellie.  When babysitting her and taking her to the park, Jeanie meets Ray, who is there with his grandson, Dylan.  The two connect and Jeanie begins to realize that she could have more in her life but she is torn with guilt about wrecking her family.  Will she sacrifice her own happiness to keep her dysfunctional family intact?

I enjoyed this book a lot.  The characters were ones you cared for...even though they were flawed.  The writing style flowed well and made this a quick read.  I would recommend this for fans of chick lit and "hen" lit since the main character is turning 60. 

I received a copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a honest review.

Monday, September 1, 2014

August Reads

August Reads:

1.  The Madman's Daughter (YA)  4/5  Kindle  1st in series
2.  The Blood Gospel (5/5)  1st in series
3.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (re-read)  (YA)  5/5  1st in series
4.  Innocent Blood (4/5)  2nd in series
5.  Mortal Danger (YA)  library book  1st in series
6.  Falling into Place (YA)  4/5
7.  The Big Kitty (4/5)  1st in series
8.  Signed, Skye Harper (YA)  4.5/5
9.  The Book of Life (5/5)  Kindle  3rd in series
10.  Harriet Spies Again (YA)  4/5
11.  Rogue (YA)  5/5
12.  brown girl dreaming (YA)  4.5/5  library book
13.  Reading Women (4/5)  library book

83 books read in 2014

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Reading Women

Book #83 Read in 2014
Reading Women by Nanci Milone Hill

This book is a guide to over 100 women's fiction books and can be used as a guide for book clubs.  Titles are picked, with a short author biography and plot summary included.  Also, there are discussion questions given and similar titles suggested.  It was a good collection of titles. 

Brown Girl Dreaming (YA)

Book #82 Read in 2014
brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (YA)

This book, told in verse, is a telling of Woodson's childhood, time spent in the South with her family, time spent in NYC with her family and the working on her family.  Growing up in a time of the civil rights movement, Woodson recounts sitting in the back of the bus, watching the Black Panthers on tv, and feeling different from those around her.  Woodson always had a love for words and that was the driving force of her becoming the wonderful author she is today.  This was a quick, interesting read.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Rogue (YA)

Book #81 Read in 2014
Rogue by Lyn Miller-Lachmann (YA)

Kiara has Asperger's Syndrome and is having a hard time fitting in to middle school.  Due to some of her behavior, she has been suspended from school for the remainder of the school year and is being homeschooled.  Kiara meets her new neighbors Chad and his younger brother Brandon.  Kiara really just wants to make friends and find her superpower (she is slightly obsessed with the XMen characters).  Her mother has left her family to do some singing gigs so Kiara feels abandoned by her and even more lost.  This causes her to grab a hold of Chad as a potential friend, even though that friendship is pretty unhealthy. 

I enjoyed this book, which was written by a local author.  The author created interesting and complex characters and did a good job portraying a character with Asperger's Syndrome.  I could see middle to early high school students enjoying this book.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Harriet Spies Again (YA)

Book #80 Read in 2014
Harriet Spies Again by Helen Ericson (YA)

This is a companion novel to the children's classic book, Harriet the Spy, and continues Harriet's story.  Ericson stays true to the original writing style and character development.  Harriet is still a quirky young detective, about to turn 12 and trying to figure out the mysteries around her.  Ole Golly, her nanny of sorts, has returned to New York and Harriet feels there is more to that story than she has been told.  Thanksgiving arrives and Harriet has set things up to try to solve all of the mysteries.

Reading this book was like visiting a childhood friend.  Harriet's voice was the same.  It was a good, quick read.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Book of Life

Book #79 Read in 2014
The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

The third and final book of this series is a satisfying conclusion to a great series.  Books 2 and 3 picked up where the previous book left off, so reading in order is key.  In this book, Matthew and Diana stand up to the Congregation who opposes their marriage and their babies-to-be.  Matthew has to hunt his insane "son" Benjamin.  The characters that readers enjoyed in the first two books return, along with some interesting new additions. 

Harkness has a masterful wave of weaving stories of several paranormal creatures.  These books has engaging plots, great mystery elements, romance, humor and action.  I truly loved this series.  I received an e-ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Signed, Skye Harper (YA)

Book #78 Read in 2014
Signed, Skye Harper by Carol Lynch Williams (YA)

This is a young adult book in the realistic fiction genre.  Winston is 15 and wants to become an Olympic swimmer.  She lives with her grandmother and has ever since her mother took off to become a star when Winston was four years old.  Winston has a crush on neighborhood jock Stevie.  Unexpectedly, Winston's mother writes that she wants to come home but has no way to get there.  Winston's grandmother steals the RV which belongs to Stevie's parents.  She does not know that Stevie has stowed away.  The trio, along with black lab Thelma and one-legged rooster Denny, set off for a trip to Texas to get Winston's mother.  Winston isn't really sure if it is a good idea or not for her mother to come home with them.

Told in quick chapters, this book was a good, fast read.  Winston is a likeable character--intelligent, spunky and funny.  Nanny, Thelma, Denny and Stevie are all good secondary characters.  This book has elements of romance and humor in it as well as angst.  I enjoyed it.

I received a copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a honest review.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Big Kitty

Book #77 Read in 2014
The Big Kitty by Claire Donally

This is the first book in a cozy mystery series.  Sunny returns to her hometown after her father suffers a heart attack.  She finds an office job while still trying to free lance as a reporter.  Her first story is about the town's cat lady, who claims to have hit the lottery but she cannot find her ticket.  The cat lady dies.  One of her cats, Shadow, adopts Sunny.  Sunny decides that the cat lady was really murdered and teams up with local police officer Will to investigate.  This is not without danger and Sunny gets herself into some jams.

The Big Kitty was a decent cozy.  Sunny predictably got herself into some hot water and needed rescuing but that's par for the cozy course.  Shadow was a great sidekick.  Overall, a good read and I have book #2 in my TBR pile.