Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James

Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades Trilogy #2)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Daunted by the singular tastes and dark secrets of the beautiful, tormented young entrepreneur Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele has broken off their relationship to start a new career with a Seattle publishing house.

But desire for Christian still dominates her every waking thought, and when he proposes a new arrangement, Anastasia cannot resist. They rekindle their searing sensual affair, and Anastasia learns more about the harrowing past of her damaged, driven and demanding Fifty Shades.

While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her, and make the most important decision of her life.
This book is intended for mature audiences.

My thoughts:
I still cannot get into this series.  A friend suggested that the second book was better than the first, but I just found myself getting frustrated with Ana.  She starts the book saying that she knows Christian is bad for her and she should stay away, but she can't.  It is like he is a drug and it seems the furthest thing from a healthy relationship. I don't think I will ever finish the series and actually let a friend tell me all about the last book in a five minute conversation so I don't even feel like I need to read it.  This series just isn't for me.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345803498
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/17/2012
  • Series: Fifty Shades Trilogy , #2
  • Pages: 532

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks (audio book)

The Longest Ride

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

In the tradition of his beloved first novel, The Notebook, #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks returns with the remarkable story of two couples whose lives intersect in profound and surprising ways.

Ira Levinson is in trouble. Ninety-one years old and stranded and injured after a car crash, he struggles to retain consciousness until a blurry image materializes beside him: his beloved wife Ruth, who passed away nine years ago. Urging him to hang on, she forces him to remain alert by recounting the stories of their lifetime together - how they met, the precious paintings they collected together, the dark days of WWII and its effect on them and their families. Ira knows that Ruth can't possibly be in the car with him, but he clings to her words and his memories, reliving the sorrows and everyday joys that defined their marriage.

A few miles away, at a local bull-riding event, a Wake Forest College senior's life is about to change. Recovering from a recent break-up, Sophia Danko meets a young cowboy named Luke, who bears little resemblance to the privileged frat boys she has encountered at school. Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes of survival and success, ruin and reward — even life and death - loom large in everyday life. As she and Luke fall in love, Sophia finds herself imagining a future far removed from her plans — a future that Luke has the power to rewrite . . . if the secret he's keeping doesn't destroy it first.

Ira and Ruth. Sophia and Luke. Two couples who have little in common, and who are separated by years and experience. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys: beyond despair, beyond death, to the farthest reaches of the human heart.

My thoughts:
I usually listen to Nicholas Sparks instead of reading his books on my own.  They flow easily and for awhile I had felt that they all had a sort of sameness to them.  I was listening and waiting for when someone would make a sacrifice or die in order to allow another character to go on, but this time was a bit different.  There were sacrifices and heartache, but the book flowed differently and came together in a different way.  It took quite some time before Ira and Ruth intersected with Sophia and Luke and even then, things went a bit differently than I thought they would.

There were all sorts of questions and musings about life.  Regrets, heartache, desires for the future, obligations for the present, dangers and perceived obligations all mingled together to form the lives of these four people and those around them.  Jumping back and forth from Ira and his image of Ruth as they relived their life together from meeting and marriage, war and business, work and togetherness, dreams and heartaches and then Luke and Sophia as they got to know each other with their different backgrounds and future plans, falling in love but wondering if it could work between and art history major from New Jersey and a rancher and rodeo cowboy from North Carolina.

Everyone has some secrets and comes with baggage from the past, but what matters is how you go into the future together.  This was the case for both Ira and Ruth and their long marriage and Luke and Sophia and their new relationship.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781455520633
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/30/2014
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 496

Friday, August 29, 2014

Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock & Roll by Ann & Nancy Wilson

Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Two sisters. Two voices. One Heart.
The mystery of "Magic Man." The wicked riff of "Barracuda." The sadness and beauty of "Alone." The raw energy of "Crazy On You." These songs, and so many more, are part of the fabric of American music. Heart, fronted by Ann and Nancy Wilson, has given fans everywhere classic, raw, and pure badass rock and roll for more than three decades. As the only sisters in rock who write their own music and play their own instruments, Ann and Nancy have always stood apart—certainly from their male counterparts but also from their female peers. By refusing to let themselves and their music be defined by their gender, and by never allowing their sexuality to overshadow their talent, the Wilson sisters have made their mark, and in the process paved the way for many of today's female artists.
In Kicking and Dreaming, Ann and Nancy, with the help of critically acclaimed and bestselling music biographer Charles R. Cross, recount a journey that has taken them from a gypsy-like life as the children of a globe-trotting Marine to the frozen back roads of Vancouver, where they got their start as a band, to the pinnacle of success—and sometimes excess. In these pages, readers will learn the truth about the relationship that inspired "Magic Man" and "Crazy On You," the turmoil of inter-band romances gone awry, the reality of life on the road as single women and then as mothers of small children, and the thrill of performing and in some cases partying with the likes of the Rolling Stones, Stevie Nicks, Van Halen, Def Leppard, and other rock legends. It has not always been an easy path. Ann struggled with and triumphed over a childhood stutter, body image, and alcoholism; Nancy suffered the pain and disappointment of fertility issues and a failed marriage but ultimately found love again and happiness as a mom. Through it all, the sisters drew from the strength of a family bond that trumps everything else, as told in this intimate, honest, and uniquely female take on the rock and roll life.
Throughout their career, Ann and Nancy have never found an answer to the question they are most frequently asked: "What is it like to be a woman in rock and roll?" Kicking and Dreaming puts that question to bed, once and for all.

My thoughts:
It was interesting to listen to this book because Ann and Nancy both read their own parts of the story, so you got the story in their own words and in their own voice.  Some parts were a bit repetitive, but it all circled around to what they went through to be successful when it was a lot less likely for a female rock group to make it.  They had ups and downs as a group and as individuals, but their family bond kept them together and helped them be successful and come back from problems, issues and setbacks.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062101679
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/18/2012
  • Pages: 288

Meet the Author

Ann & Nancy Wilson are the leaders of the rock band Heart, whose albums have sold thirty-five million records worldwide. They continue to tour all over the world. In 2013, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Ann & Nancy Wilson are the leaders of the rock band Heart, whose albums have sold thirty-five million records worldwide. They continue to tour all over the world. In 2013, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Charles R. Cross is the author of seven books, including the New York Times bestsellers Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain and Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Are you there God? It's Me, Margaret. by Jody Blume

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Being eleven-going-on-twelve is hard enough, but when Margaret Simon's family moves to New Jersey she knows she needs to talk to someone. Is God listening?
Faced with the difficulties of growing up and choosing a religion, a twelve-year-old girl talks over her problems with her own private God.

My thoughts:
I decided to do a reread of this book months ago to see if it was like I remembered it.  Margaret and his friends preoccupation with getting their periods and growing breasts was all still there.  Some of it felt a little dated but it was still nice to go back and visit a book I remembered reading as a child.   I must have let a little too much time pass as I can't really think of too much else to say about it. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth

Four: A Divergent Collection

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Two years before Beatrice Prior made her choice, the sixteen-year-old son of Abnegation's faction leader did the same. Tobias's transfer to Dauntless is a chance to begin again. Here, he will not be called the name his parents gave him. Here, he will not let fear turn him into a cowering child.

Newly christened "Four," he discovers during initiation that he will succeed in Dauntless. Initiation is only the beginning, though; Four must claim his place in the Dauntless hierarchy. His decisions will affect future initiates as well as uncover secrets that could threaten his own future—and the future of the entire faction system.

Two years later, Four is poised to take action, but the course is still unclear. The first new initiate who jumps into the net might change all that. With her, the way to righting their world might become clear. With her, it might become possible to be Tobias once again.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth comes a companion volume to the worldwide bestselling divergent series, told from the perspective of the immensely popular character Tobias. The four pieces included here—The Transfer, The Initiate, The Son, and The Traitor—plus three additional exclusive scenes, give readers an electrifying glimpse into the history and heart of Tobias, and set the stage for the epic saga of the Divergent trilogy.

My thoughts:
These four stories were quick reads and helped flesh out Tobias and where he had come from.  Having read the other books most readers already know that his father was abusive, but I did wonder about how his mother had disappeared and why he had thought she was dead.  All that comes to light along with how he made his decision to be in Dauntless and what about his testing made him believe he was Divergent.  I liked how the initiation into Dauntless was not the competition it had become as of the time that Tris made her choice to join and you could see the changes that came into place prior to the beginning of the trilogy that made the future events possible.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062345219
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/8/2014
  • Series: Divergent Series
  • Pages: 304

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Office Girl by Joe Meno

Office Girl

"In Joe Meno's new novel, set in the last year of the 20th century, art school dropout Odile Neff and amateur sound artist Jack Blevins work deadening office jobs; gush about indie rock, French film, and obscure comic book artists; and gradually start a relationship that doubles as an art movement. They are, in other words, the 20-something doyens of pop culture and their tale of promiscuous roommates, on-again/off-again exes, and awkward sex is punctuated on the page by cute little doodles, black and white photographs (of, say, a topless woman in a Stormtrooper mask), and monologues that could easily pass for Belle &  Sebastian lyrics ("It doesn’t pay to be a dreamer because all they really want you to do is answer the phone")."
--Publishers Weekly (Pick of the Week)

My thoughts:
I listened to this, so I missed out on the black and white photographs described by Publisher's Weekly.  I wasn't sold on this one.  Odile is an art student who never finished her degree because of a professor she didn't like, so she is only a few classes shy of finishing.  Why in the world would you let the opinion of one person stop you from reaching the finish line?  I kind of wanted to yell at her.  So she answers phones, think is about moving from Chicago to New York and starts an art movement where she writes with silver marker on signs and such and stages events like leaving a whole bunch of silver balloons on an elevator.  Jack is a bit lost after his wife leaves him, so he stops going to work until he realizes that he needs rent (she always took care of that for him) so he starts to work with Odile.  Neither of them like their job, but they don't give much thought to what else they could be doing.  They are drawn to each other and become friends plus a bit more.  It reminded me of someone trying to be intellectual while romanticizing being creative.  They both were quite creative, but felt that no one else was going to understand their art, while at the same time being very critical of the art of others but complaining about being criticized for their own.  It was a whirlwind kind of a circle with them, while never really going anywhere. 

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781617750762
  • Publisher: Akashic Books
  • Publication date: 7/3/2012
  • Pages: 224

Meet the Author

Joe Meno is a fiction writer and playwright who lives in Chicago. He is a winner of the Nelson Algren Literary Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Great Lakes Book Award, and was a finalist for the Story Prize. He is the author of five novels and two short story collections including The Great Perhaps, The Boy Detective Fails, Demons in the Spring, and Hairstyles of the Damned. His short fiction has been published in One Story, McSweeney's, Swink, LIT, TriQuarterly, Other Voices, Gulf Coast, and broadcast on NPR. His nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times and Chicago Magazine. His stage plays have been produced in Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Charville, France. He is an associate professor in the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Pure Joy: The Dogs We Love by Danielle Steele

Pure Joy: The Dogs We Love

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

In this moving memoir, Danielle Steel tells the story of how she met a dog the size of a mouse with a personality that could light up an entire room. From Minnie’s arrival at home in San Francisco to clothes-shopping jaunts in Paris, her adventures provide the perfect backdrop for a heartfelt look at the magic that dogs bring to our lives, and how they become part of the family, making indelible memories.

We meet Steel’s childhood pug, James; and Elmer, the basset hound who was steadfastly at her side in her struggling days as a young writer; Sweet Pea—unveiled in a Tiffany box for a dog-loving husband—and all those lucky dogs who shared a household of nine children, other canines, and one potbellied pig. As she reflects on the beloved pets who have brought joy, and sometimes chaos, to her home through the years, Steel also shares her thoughts on the trials and tribulations of bringing a new dog into a household, the challenges of housebreaking and compatibility, the losses we feel forever.
Filled with colorful characters (human and otherwise), delightful photographs, practical wisdom drawn from long experience, and brimming with warmth and insight on every page, Pure Joy is a love letter to this special relationship—and one of the most charming books yet from the incomparable Danielle Steel.

My thoughts:
I admit to picking up random books from the shelves at the library and I encourage my children to do the same, you never know what you might find if you wander out of your comfort area!  This book was a bit repetitive, but short and sweet at the same time.  It is about all of the dogs that Steel's family has owned over the years (or maybe most of the dogs as there were quite a few!) an focused a lot on her most recent addition, a two pound Chihuahua  named Minnie Mouse.  I liked how she did not gloss over pets that did not fit into their family and how they found new homes for those animals and I also liked that a lot of their pets were rescues and the emphasis she put on finding reputable breeders when buying a pet.  While I can't imagine having 9 children and 11 dogs living in one house, I appreciate the fact that she gave each of her children a chance to be a dog owner from an early age.  Years ago we had dogs, but one of my children has a pretty severe allergy so we no longer live with any animals and I feel like they are missing out at times, but not enough so that I want to make a child feel miserable all the time, of course!  This was just a random book find when wandering along the shelves.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345543752
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/29/2013
  • Pages: 176

Meet the Author

Danielle Steel has been hailed as one of the world’s most popular authors, with over 600 million copies of her novels sold. Her many international bestsellers include Winners, First Sight, Until the End of Time, The Sins of the Mother, Friends Forever, Betrayal, and other highly acclaimed novels. She is also the author of His Bright Light, the story of her son Nick Traina’s life and death, and A Gift of Hope, a memoir of her work with the homeless.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was the surprise best seller of 2011—an unprecedented mix of YA fantasy and vintage photography that enthralled readers and critics alike. Publishers Weekly called it “an enjoyable, eccentric read, distinguished by well-developed characters, a believable Welsh setting, and some very creepy monsters.”
This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.
Complete with dozens of newly discovered (and thoroughly mesmerizing) vintage photographs, this new adventure will delight readers of all ages.

My thoughts:
It took me a little bit to get immersed in this book, but once I was in I was hooked and just kept going.  Jacob has to help his friends escape from the Wights who are taking the island and are after Miss Perregrine, but she has turned into her bird form and does not seem to be able to change back.

Their journey used a picture book as a guide to other loops, where they look for help and guidance from other peculiars, the travel by boat, horse, foot, train and wagon on their way to London where they hope to find assistance. 

The vintage photographs are such a great addition to the story, it makes me want to visit flea markets and look for pictures from long ago and imagine my own stories to go with them.  Once again, though, the story has not come to an end, there will be another book to see how this group of misfits makes out against the enemies.

Product Details

Meet the Author

Ransom Riggs
Ransom Riggs is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. He is also the author of Talking Pictures (Harper Collins, 2012) and The Sherlock Holmes Handbook (Quirk, 2008). He is a graduate of the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts and lives in Los Angeles.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dead and Loving it by MaryJanice Davidson (Wyndham Werewolf Series #5)

Dead and Loving It (Wyndham Werewolf Series #5)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

In this collection of four novellas, worlds collide when MaryJanice Davidson's beloved Wyndham werewolves cross paths with vampires ruled by Undead Queen Betsy Taylor.
 My thoughts:
This was a quick, vacation read.  I finished all four stories before goingto the beach in the morning.  I woke up with the sun and no one else did, so I had a couple of hours to sit and read and it really did go that fast!

My favorite story was the one that told how Antonia the werewolf (not the Devil) made her way into Queen Betsy's life and discovered that George had really been named Garrett.  I knew there was more to the story, but I had never read that one so I was missing a chunk in that storyline.

I enjoyed learning about fairies being a part of Davidson's created world, but the story about the vampire that kidnapped the werewolf turned me off completely.  I don't think there is anything right about making it seem like you can fall in love with some one holding a person against their will.  That jarred me and almost turned me off from the rest of the book.


Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425207956
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/4/2006
  • Series: Wyndham Werewolf Series , #5
  • Pages: 320

Meet the Author

MaryJanice Davidson

MaryJanice Davidson is the New York Times bestselling author of the Undead novels featuring Betsy Taylor; Derik's Bane, and the new young adult novels featuring Jennifer Scales, written with her husband, Anthony Alongi, among other titles.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline

Keep Quiet


New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award winning author Lisa Scottoline is loved by millions of readers for her suspenseful novels about family and justice. Scottoline delivers once again with Keep Quiet, an emotionally gripping and complex story about one man’s split-second decision to protect his son - and the devastating consequences that follow.

Jake Buckman’s relationship with his sixteen-year-old son Ryan is not an easy one, so at the urging of his loving wife, Pam, Jake goes alone to pick up Ryan at their suburban movie theater.  On the way home, Ryan asks to drive on a deserted road, and Jake sees it as a chance to make a connection. However, what starts as a father-son bonding opportunity instantly turns into a nightmare. Tragedy strikes, and with Ryan’s entire future hanging in the balance, Jake is forced to make a split-second decision that plunges them both into a world of guilt and lies. Without ever meaning to, Jake and Ryan find themselves living under the crushing weight of their secret, which threatens to tear their family to shreds and ruin them all.

Powerful and dramatic, Keep Quiet will have readers and book clubs debating what it means to be a parent and how far you can, and should, go to protect those you love.

My thoughts:
I got frustrated with this book right from the beginning, I can't imagine having made the decision Jake made in an attempt to protect his son from the repercussions of the event that took place.  Since the big issue happens very close to the beginning of the book, I had a hard time liking Jake's character.  I understand the desire to protect a child, any parent does, but at the same time we also need to teach them right and wrong and in hiding the incident I don't think Jake did a good job at all with that aspect of parenting.  It did show how one decision can have far reaching repercussions in your life and in the life of others.

Beyond my frustration with the decision and the hiding that was done afterwards, I enjoyed the rest of the story, as more details emerged about the relationships in the Buckman family, in Ryan's life at school and in the community.  The interweaving webs were well done and the way it was brought back into everyone's lives.  Still, if the truth had been told from the beginning much of the deceit and suffering could have been avoided.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250010094
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/8/2014
  • Pages: 352

Meet the Author

Lisa Scottoline
LISA SCOTTOLINE is a New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award–winning author of twenty-one novels.  She has 30 million copies of her books in print in the United States, and has been published in 35 countries. She has served as President of Mystery Writers of America, and her thrillers have been optioned for television and film. She also writes is a weekly humor column with her daughter, Francesca Serritella, for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and those critically acclaimed stories have been adapted into a series of memoirs, the first of which is entitled Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog. She lives in the Philadelphia area with an array of disobedient pets.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Uganda Be Kidding me by Chelsea Handler

Uganda Be Kidding Me

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Wherever Chelsea Handler travels, one thing is certain: she always ends up in the land of the ridiculous. Now, in this uproarious collection, she sneaks her sharp wit through airport security and delivers her most absurd and hilarious stories ever.

On safari in Africa, it's anyone's guess as to what's more dangerous: the wildlife or Chelsea. But whether she's fumbling the seduction of a guide by not knowing where tigers live (Asia, duh) or wearing a bathrobe into the bush because her clothes stopped fitting seven margaritas ago, she's always game for the next misadventure.
The situation gets down and dirty as she defiles a kayak in the Bahamas, and outright sweaty as she escapes from a German hospital on crutches. When things get truly scary, like finding herself stuck next to a passenger with bad breath , she knows she can rely on her family to make matters even worse. Thank goodness she has the devoted Chunk by her side-except for the time she loses him in Telluride.

Complete with answers to the most frequently asked traveler's questions, hot travel trips, and travel etiquette, none of which should be believed, UGANDA BE KIDDING ME has Chelsea taking on the world, one laugh-out-loud incident at a time.

My thoughts:
A number of these stories had me laughing aloud while reading.  I much preferred the parts while she was in Africa on safari with five friends.  Each of those sections went by day and detailed where she was and which one of the adventures she was currently on.  I would hate to be the location that she gave such bad reviews for, but perhaps she used a fake name for it, although at the same time if the experience really was that bad then maybe letting people know isn't such a bad idea.

I have enjoyed Handler's other books.  I didn't know she had a new one out until I saw it at the library.  They move fast and seem so unbelievable.  Wouldn't it be great to be able to embellish your own life and make it funnier.  Cleaning up a public restroom stall at an airport from the user before her so no one would talk about her having made the terrible mess or finding a home for a mountain dog that was intent on destroying her house, Handler does it all with a drink in her hand.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781455599738
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/4/2014
  • Pages: 272

Meet the Author

Chelsea Handler
Chelsea Handler is the star of her own late-night talk show on E!, Chelsea Lately, and E!'s comedy series After Lately, as well as the #1 bestselling author of Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang; Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea; and My Horizontal Life.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

SuperCat vs. the Fry Thief by Jeanne Willis

Supercat vs The Fry Thief (Supercat, Book 1)

My thoughts:
My children borrowed this ARC and the two who read it both enjoyed it, so I decided to give it a quick read before returning it yesterday.  SuperCat starts out as a lazy cat who never does anything.  His owner thinks he is the worst pet and pines away for something more exciting like a wolf.  One day SuperCat eats an old French fry from a moldy sock under the bed and all of a sudden he has super powers and can fly and talk.  From there the adventure starts.  Someone is stealing all the potatoes and ruining crops all over the world so no one can have French fries or chips.  SuperCat and his owner work on the mystery and it has all sorts of action:  helicopters, submarines, weevils, horse manure, addition, subtraction and a villain named Count Backwards.  The story had my children laughing and the illustrations add to the fun!

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780007585960
  • Publisher: HarperCollins UK
  • Publication date: 3/24/2015
  • Series: Supercat , #1
  • Pages: 224

Meet the Author

Jeanne Willis wrote her first book aged five and has now written over eighty titles. She has won numerous awards, including the Children's Book Award, the Silver Smarties Prize and has been shortlisted for the Whitbread Award. As well as her extensive writing experience Jeanne once worked as a reptile vet’s assistant, has owned cats, a rat and a toad called Dave. She has never performed in an animal talent show but she did get married at London Zoo.

Friday, August 15, 2014

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars

Overview from Barnes and Noble:
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
My thoughts:
This is such a hard book to describe or to talk about.  Suspenseful, touching, frustrating and secretive it moves in circles around the main event.  You start at the outer edges of the truth and work your way in, making discoveries and putting pieces together as you go.  What you think you know might not be true, but it might be.  It all revolves around summer fifteen, the summer two years ago when the four friends, cousins and liars were fifteen and Cady, the main character, has an accident that left her with brain trauma and no memory of the accident.  Summer sixteen she does not return to the family island as she goes on vacation with her father, but summer seventeen she insists that she wants to come back.  Everything is different and she keeps remembering pieces of the puzzle, but it takes her time to get it all back together.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385741262
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 5/13/2014
  • Pages: 240

Meet the Author

E. Lockhart
E. LOCKHART is the author of four books about Ruby Oliver: The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, The Treasure Map of Boys, and Real Live Boyfriends. She also wrote Fly on the Wall, Dramarama, and How to Be Bad (the last with Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle). Her novel, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, was a Printz Award Honor Book, a finalist for the National Book Award, and recipient of the Cybils Award for Best Young Adult Novel.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver (ARC)

Vanishing Girls

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before—before Dara kissed Parker, before Nick lost him as her best friend, before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred. Now the two sisters, who used to be so close, aren't speaking. In an instant, Nick lost everything and is determined to use the summer to get it all back.

But Dara has other plans. When she vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl has vanished, too—nine-year-old Madeline Snow—and as Nick pursues her sister, she becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances may be linked.
In this edgy and compelling novel, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

My thoughts:
This fast paced read brought a number of surprises along with it.  Dara and Nick were in a horrible accident one rainy night and Dara wasn't wearing her seat belt.  Since the accident the two of them, once the best of friends and sisters who were only a year apart, have stopped speaking and aren't even living in the same house.  When their parents decide that Nick should live with her mother for the summer, Nick decides it is time to do something to mend the past and to fill in the gaps in her memory from the accident, but Dara makes it very hard, always disappearing down the trellis and leaving before they can talk.

Then there is Parker, he was once Nick's best friend and they did things as a trio, but the night that Dara kissed him changed the trajectory of both of their lives, driving a wedge between them and taking away both of Nick's best friends.

While working at an amusement park together and watching her mother's fascination with the disappearance of a nine year old girl, Nick makes up her mind about the future and goes on a hunt to find her sister and save her.  She unravels the clues Dara has left for her and starts to piece together the missing pieces from the accident.  There are twists and turns and some unexpected findings along the way.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062224101
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/3/2015

Monday, August 4, 2014

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer

Between the Lines


The #1 New York Times bestseller filled with romance, adventure, and humor, from Jodi Picoult and her teenage daughter.

What happens when happily ever after…isn’t?

Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah.

And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He’s a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He’s sure there’s more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom.

Delilah and Oliver work together to attempt to get Oliver out of his book, a challenging task that forces them to examine their perceptions of fate, the world, and their places in it. And as their attraction to each other grows along the way, a romance blossoms that is anything but a fairy tale.

My thoughts:
When I described this book to my daughter she asked if it was like Inkheart, which we have read together, but it isn't really.  Instead of being able to be read out of the book by a Silver Tongue, Oliver and Delilah have a terrible attempting to get him out of the book.  Everything resets each time the book is closed and reopened, so any progress they think they  have made is erased.  kind of like the crane machines my children played at a beach arcade this summer.  Someone would spend quarter after quarter getting some of the animals to move around, only to have someone who worked at the arcade rearrange them back into an impossible array as soon as that player walked away.

Delilah feels abandoned by her father, who left her mother and started a new family in Australia and feels a kinship with Oliver's character whose father died at the beginning of the book.  When he actually starts speaking to her and they get to know each other, an unlikely friendship is formed.  A friendship that pulls Delilah away from her best friend and her mother.

The book has three different colors of type, one for the fairy tale story, one for Oliver and one for Delilah.  I liked how there were also illustrations on whole pages and in margins.  The focus and perspective changed regularly.  How much can a character understand about freewill when he has been made the way the author wrote him?  Can one literally get in and out of a book and, even if one could, would anyone believe it?  This was a fun book that actually built suspense and what a cool concept that a mother and daughter wrote it together.  Imagine all of what van Leer must have learned from her mother about the writing and publishing process!

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451635812
  • Publication date: 6/25/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 350

Meet the Author

Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult received an AB in creative writing from Princeton and a master’s degree in education from Harvard. The recipient of the 2003 New England Book Award for her entire body of work, she is the author of twenty-one novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers House Rules, Handle With Care, Change of Heart, and My Sister’s Keeper, for which she received the American Library Association’s Margaret Alexander Edwards Award. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children. Visit her website at

Samantha van Leer is a senior in high school. She conceived the idea for this book and pitched it to her mom, who was in the middle of a book tour. In her spare time, Samantha can be found playing softball, doing contemporary dance, acting and singing in musicals, and cuddling on the ground with her two dogs, Dudley and Oliver—for whom the prince in this fairy tale was named.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen

Skipping a Beat

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

From the author of the acclaimed The Opposite of Me, a poignant, witty novel about marriage, forgiveness, and the choices that give shape—and limits—to our lives.

What would you do if your husband suddenly wanted to rewrite all of the rules of your relationship? This is the question at the heart of Skipping a Beat, Pekkanen’s thought-provoking second book.
From the outside, Julia and Michael seem to have it all. Both products of difficult childhoods in rural West Virginia – where they were simply Julie and Mike – they become high school sweethearts and fall in love. Shortly after graduation, they flee their small town to start afresh. Now thirty-somethings, they are living a rarified life in their multi-million-dollar, Washington D.C. home. Julia is a highly sought-after party planner, while Michael has just sold his wildly successful flavored water company for $70 million.

But one day, Michael collapses in his office. Four minutes and eight seconds after his cardiac arrest, a portable defibrillator jump-starts his heart. But in those lost minutes he becomes a different man. Money is meaningless to him - and he wants to give it all away. Julia, who sees bits of her life reflected in scenes from the world’s great operas, is now facing with a choice she never anticipated. Should she should walk away from the man she once adored – but who truthfully became a stranger to her long before this pronouncement - or give in to her husband's pleas for a second chance and a promise of a poorer but happier life?

As wry and engaging as her debut, but with quiet depth and newfound maturity, Skipping a Beat is an unforgettable portrait of a marriage whose glamorous surface belies the complications and betrayals beneath.

My thoughts:
I read this at the beach on a couple of very windy days.  It actually still has some sand still stuck in the pages.  I gave it to my mom to read and warned her that sand might fall out as she reads!

I picked up this book after reading a really good review either on someone's blog or on Goodreads and then I just let it sit on my shelf for a long time.  When I selected books for vacation reading it was one of the ones I grabbed and I am very glad that I did!  It raised a lot of good questions and points and resonated on a lot of different levels.  The first line is about the first time the main character's husband died.  Through flashbacks and rememberings you get the chance to see what Julie and Mike's life has been like lately, where they started from and how they got to where they are.  The changes they each made along the way and the overarching view that money cannot buy happiness.

Where did Michael go during the time he was dead?  Why is he so different now?  How can everything that was most important to him in life now take a back seat to his relationship with his wife?  Can she really agree to stay with him for a few more weeks to see how it goes or should she just put the call through to the lawyer whose card has been in her wallet for months?

Both Michael and Julia have changed a lot over the years.  Driven to not repeat the mistakes of their parents, but losing themselves along the way in the forward momentum.  Given the chance to slow down a bit and talk to each other and reconnect, what could happen?

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451609820
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press
  • Publication date: 2/22/2011
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 352

Meet the Author

Sarah Pekkanen
Sarah Pekkanen is the internationally bestselling author of The Opposite of Me, Skipping a Beat, These Girls, and The Best of Us as well as a series of linked short stories for ereaders. Her work has been published in numerous magazines and newspapers. She lives with her family, including a rescue dog and cat, in Chevy Chase, Maryland

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Your Coffin or Mine by Kimberley Raye (Dead-End Dating Series #3)

Your Coffin or Mine? (Dead-End Dating Series #3)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

For Lil Marchette, the owner of Manhattan’s premier dating service for vampires (and a dazzling denizen of the dark herself), death is all in a night’s work. Unfortunately, it’s going to take more than matching up vamps to pay the bills and fund Lil’s cosmetics addiction. Dare she add actual humans to the mix? Eager to diversify, she signs up for a popular dating show, Manhattan’s Most Wanted (MMW), to pitch her expertise to the perfect target audience–eligible women looking for eligible men.
Of course Lil is trying to forget the one man she’d love to sink her own teeth into: Ty Bonner, the ultraseductive vamp who broke her heart after she gave him the hottest night of his afterlife. Problem is, she and Ty have an intense mental connection and she’s sensing he’s in deep trouble. Even worse, she soon finds herself heading for MMW’s grand finale (cameras are so not a vamp’s best friend). The race is on as Lil struggles to save Ty (and herself) before all hell breaks loose.
“Lil is a likable mix of Bridget Jones, Carrie Bradshaw and Dracula–charming, sweet, stylish, with just a hint of fang.”
Parkersburg News and Sentinel
My thoughts:
I picked this book up at a used book store when I was at the beach and I read it the next day.  It moved nice and fast and had plenty of action, suspense and sarcasm.  Lil reminded me at of bit of Queen Betsy in MaryJanice Davidson's series.  It looks like the series has five books and ended in 2009.  I wish I had discovered it with the first book and not the third, but I still enjoyed the ride.
Lil doesn't want to settle down to have any Natural Vampire offspring with another Natural Vamps.  She wants to make it on her own, but she is having a bit of a problem with funds in her dating agency and pressure from her mother to settle down.  Then there is the one who got away, a bitten vampire that she can't have a future with, but with whom she shared some seriously passionate time with.  She keeps getting messages that lead her to believe he is in trouble, but at the same time she is caught up in the dating show she entered hoping to score some more clients for her company. 
This book had fun characters, humor, mystery and action and it was perfect for an afternoon on the beach. 

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345492180
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/25/2007
  • Series: Dead-End Dating Series , #3
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 320

Meet the Author

Kimberly Raye is the bestselling author of more than thirty novels, including Dead End Dating and Dead and Dateless. She’s been nominated for several Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Awards, as well as two RITA Awards. Her books have been featured in several major magazines, including Better Homes & Gardens and Glamour, and her novel Sometimes Naughty, Sometimes Nice was a Cosmopolitan magazine book club pick. She lives deep in the heart of Texas Hill Country with her husband and their young children. Please visit her website at

Friday, August 1, 2014

Lose Weight with Green Tea by Patricia Rounder

Lose Weight with Green Tea: A Safe, Sensible Way Toward Weight Management

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Documented research reveals what Asian cultures have known for centuries: Green Tea, rich in antioxidants, increases metabolism and helps burn fat. Lose Weight With Green Tea provides all the information you need to incorporate Green Tea safely and sensibly into a successful weight control program.

My thoughts:
This book contains a whole lot of information on how tea is made (all teas- black, green, white and red come from the same leaves, what is different is how it is processed and how long it stays in certain parts of the process) and how much tea people in different parts of the world drink, but not much about how it can be used for weight loss.  It sites studies where capsules were used in place of drinking tea, but then states that capsules on the market can vary widely in the amount of elements they deliver.  It also shows how different brands of green tea widely vary.  No real answers were given.  The author states that, after doing her research she has decided to drink tea every day and take a supplement as well, but that everyone needs to evaluate their own health needs and make their own decisions.  I kept thinking the next chapter would give some definite recommendations, but it never did.  So, interesting history of tea and how it is produced, but very little information on tea and weight loss.  A different title might have made more sense for this book.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780961522179
  • Publisher: Smith House Press
  • Publication date: 11/15/2005
  • Pages: 160