Monday, February 29, 2016

Mercy Snow by Tiffany Baker

This is a beautifully written story of a paper mill town on a river in New Hampshire and of several of its inhabitants.  Mercy Snow, and her brother and sister have returned to their estranged father's home - more of a hovel really - after their mother died, only to find that their father had died as well.  They try to scrape by, living horribly since everyone in the town hates their family and won't help them at all and since her brother Zeke already has a criminal record, when his wrecked truck is found down the road just past the site of a tragic bus crash, they assume that Zeke caused the bus to crash.  June McAlister, whose husband owns and runs the mill, is a figurehead of sorts in the community, running the ladies sewing circle out of her home and being the model wife and upstanding citizen.  Hazel lives just outside of town raising sheep and selling the wool yarn that she dyes herself.  The tragic bus wreck changes many things in the town and nothing will ever be the same.  There is mystery and mysticism, slightly reminiscent of Alice Hoffman's writing.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I enjoyed it very much.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Dog Gone, Back Soon by Nick Trout

This is a cute, fun mystery/romance.  Dr. Cyrus Mills has inherited his father's veterinary practice, The Bedside Manor, and is trying to build it up so it does not go broke.  Their main competition is a Healthy Paws, part of a franchise in a nearby town whose office manager is quite unfriendly.  In this book, Cyrus has several sick animals with mysterious illness that he must find out the cause of and he is pursuing Amy, a waitress, and he becomes involved with some nosy teenagers.  The story is a quick read and I think that people who like mysteries and animals will enjoy it.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Boys Don't Knit by T.S. Easton

I totally, absolutely loved this book!  It is very funny and a fun read.  Sixteen year old Ben is on probation and must take an extracurricular class as part of his probation.  His choices are limited and a sexy teacher is listed as the knitting teacher, so he takes knitting.  The wrong teacher was listed, but he is stuck in the knitting class, along with doing community service by helping the lollipop lady.  He winds up enjoying knitting and being very good at it although he can't tell his father because his dad would not approve of him doing such an unmanly activity.  Ben's secret won't be kept though as he enters and wins a knitting contest and advances to a higher level.  The book is really funny as Ben deals with family problems, girl problems, bullying and more - all of it in a fabulous and funny story.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Sage's Eyes by V.C. Andrews

This young adult suspense/mystery book is a quick read.  Sage is in high school and has always been different and her adoptive parents are overly strict.  When she is moved to a new school, because she mentioned what she had seen in a vision at her old school, she thinks it can be a fresh start and she can really make friends, if only her strict parents will allow her to actually socialize like other kids her age do.  Then, the devastatingly handsome Summer arrives and he likes Sage.  There is mystery, suspense and drama, and I read the whole book in one day.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood by Leah Vincent

This story is sad and disturbing.  Leah was raised in an ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jewish household, daughter of a Rabbi, and she was, by most people's standards, only a little rebellious, but it was enough that her family sent her off to ultra-religious schools and then, when she was only 17 years old, sent her out on her own, with a minimum wage job and low rent apartment, and, essentially, abandoned her.  She tells the story, through her young eyes, of her failures and rebellions and how she was raped and mistreated because she was so ignorant of the ways of the world that she did not know how to relate to other people, and especially to men.  She also tells how she finally rose above that and got into Harvard for graduate school and became successful and now has a happy life. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

The Queen's Gift by T.R. Allardice

I enjoyed reading this young adult supernatural fantasy story.  Fifteen year old Jean is a preternatural, daughter of a genie who should have magical powers, but so far, her powers have not shown up yet.  Her family has moved to Tokyo where she is going to a preter school for magical kids, and even though she has no powers yet, she plans to fake them.  To her surprise, her powers finally show up, and they are not what she was expecting or hoping for.  There is friendship, a little romance, mystery and some intrigue in this fun book.  I hope that there will be another book to follow it.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Vanishing by Wendy Webb

This is a fun Gothic ghost story. There is a creepy old house, haunted, of course, a woman who is lured to it because she has no choice. She feels like she has been there before, but has not, and she tries to figure out what is going on. There are plot twists and romance and it is a fun read. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Rose and the Silver Ghost by Holly Webb

I have not read the other books in this series, and that is not necessary to enjoy this book, but I think kids will want to read the whole series in order.  This book is a cute, fun to read, magical mystery story.  Rose can do magic and lives with a magician, his daughter,Bella, an apprentice, a magical governess and a magical talking cat.  In this book, Rose looks into the governesses hand mirror and sees what seems to be herself, only older.  This leads to Rose, Bella and the other children and the cat going on a magical quest to find and save the person the mirror showed.  The book is fun to read and I think elementary age children will enjoy it.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Uncovered How I Left Hasidic Life and Finally Came Home by Leah Lax

This is a very interesting story about how Leah joined the Hasidic community when she was a teenager, married at age 19 and had 7 children, then, gradually, found her way out of the legalism and into the real world.  As a former reading teacher and current assistant librarian, I love that part of what helped her to change her views was reading books in the library and taking writing classes.  Like Leah, I also grew up in the Jewish community in Dallas, and although I am a bit younger than she is, and I was not very aware of Hasidism during my Reform Jewish childhood,  I enjoyed reading about the same places and community that I grew up in.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I recommend it to others.

Fury: Book 1 of The Cure: Episode 1 by Charlotte McConaghy

I received this book free to review from Netgalley.  It is a short novella, young adult, dystopian story, that is rather good.  In this future, most of society has been "cured" of feeling anger, which was supposed to be a good thing, but has left more crime in it's wake as not only do people no longer feel anger, but they no longer feel many other emotions as well, which makes it easier to commit and ignore crimes.  Eighteen year old Josephine has not been "cured" for some reason, and once a year she blacks out and, from what she can sort of remember, she thinks she commits violent crimes.  In this book, she is in a mental hospital, recalling her past and telling her story of how a man named Luke tried to help her find out what was going on.  She begs her doctor to believe her as the day of the blood moon, when she fears that she will go insane and kill people, draws near.  I think the book is interesting and well, written, although it is rather short.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Seventh Heaven by Alice Hoffman

In Alice Hoffman's distinctive style, she tells a story about normal, suburban America, a town where all the houses are the same, starting in 1959, and the neighborhood's peace is disrupted when Nora, a divorced mother of two boys moves in.  In Hoffman's style, there is some magic and mystery and oddness among the normalness of every day life and several characters lives are followed as they adapt and change based on the events going on.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I enjoyed the story.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

I'll See You In Paris by Michelle Gable

This story is told by Anna, who travels to England with her mother on a business trip so her mother can sell some property that she owns, that Anna knows nothing about.  Before they leave, Anna picks up an old book that is with her mother's things, and begins reading it and brings it with her to England, where she meets an old man in a pub, who knows of the book that she is reading there and Annie begins to learn the true story behind the book.  Through the book, and the stories she is told, and a bit of trespassing, Anna learns the story, which she finally figures out, long after the reader knows, of her mother. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

If I Had A Gryphon by Vikki VanSickle

If I Had a Gryphon
Bored with her pet hamster, Sam reads a book about mythological creatures and imagines what it would be like to have one of those for a pet.  She realizes that while a unicorn is lovely, it is also quite shy and a hippogriff would frighten many people and animals.  I think that kids will enjoy seeing the variety of mythological creatures mentioned which include kraken, kirin and manticore and they may want to research the stories behind those creatures.  The text is rhyming and fun and the illustrations are bright and cute.  Eventually, Sam realizes that a conventional pet is probably best. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord

This is a sweet middle grade story about two girls who become friends - Lily, who is being raised by her grandparents, befriends a migrant worker child, Salma, when Lily's blind dog, Lucky, runs off and Salma is able to stop Lucky by offering him her sandwich.  Lily struggles with missing her mother, who died when Lily was 2, and her changed relationship with Hannah, who used to be her best friend, and she learns from Salma that different things can be good things.  I enjoyed this book and I think kids will like it a lot too.

The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman

This is an amazing historical fiction novel for teens.  Set in 1960, 13 year old Sophie is staying with her grandmother in Louisiana in the bayou, at the old family home where the family used to have a thriving plantation. Reading books about magic, Sophie encounters a magical creature and wishes to go back in time and have an adventure.  She is sent back 100 years, where she is mistaken for a slave on her family's plantation.  Thought to be the daughter of the plantation owner's son, she is put to work, first in the house, then in the sewing house, and the fields.  As months go by she learns exactly what it was like to be a slave and almost forgets that she had another life before.  The story is well told and really is an excellent historical fiction novel for teens.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I very very highly recommend it.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

This is a beautiful story told alternately by 3 different characters.  First there is Anna, 38 years old, with Alzheimer's and now living in an assisted living facility.  She struggles with confusion as her room has 3 doors and she never knows which one leads to the hall, which one to the restroom, and which to her closet.  The book gives a thoughtful look at what it must be like to have Alzheimer's. Next, is Eve, who has taken a job as cook and housekeeper at the assisted living facility since her husband committed suicide after being caught in a Madoff-like scheme and we also hear from Eve's 7 year old daughter Clementine who has to deal with the suicide of her father and a mean girl at school.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Here And Now by Ann Brashares

I found this book to be a compelling read.  It is a young adult dystopian novel set in the present day.  Seventeen year old Prenna along with a group of people have escaped the future in which  global warming has lead to an increase in the mosquito population which has spread a mutated virus causing a blood plague.  Her group tries to minimize contact with people who are part of the regular time period for fear of creating more problems.  When she becomes friends with a boy named Ethan, and an odd homeless man, she finds out how difficult that can be.  There is romance and adventure in this book.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

This is totally fabulous for a debut novel!  I really enjoyed it.  The characters were well developed and the story was compelling and I had a hard time putting it down.  I read it in two days.  I think this book will be a big hit with teens.  This is one book that I read on my kindle and I really want to get a paper copy of it too because I want to read it again and I want to be able to flip through it.  Each of the seven characters was realistic if not always likable. I am just so impressed with this book!  I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly, totally recommend it.  I look forward to reading future books from this author!

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

In this intriguing young adult dystopian novel, everyone has a fraternal twin.  One twin is normal and the other has some sort of a deformity.  Cass hides her deformity for many years causing her Alpha twin to also be outcast until he outs her and she is branded an Omega and cast out of the Alpha society.  The Omegas are the underdogs, poorly treated and infertile, yet when one twin dies, the other does too, causing the Alphas to care at least somewhat for the Omegas. Eventually, Cass becomes part of the political disorder as she dreams of a better world that she perhaps, has the power to create.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.  I enjoyed it and look forward to the next one.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Nordic Cook Book by Magnus Nilsson

Who knew there were so many ways to cook eel?  And who really wanted to know?  In case you do wish to cook eel, this ginormous, 768 page tome includes 6 eel recipes including "Fresh Eel Cooked on Straw" and "Eel Baked over Smouldering Beech or Juniper Twigs". If you are looking for a recipe for Icelandic Rotten Shark or Danish Blood Sausage or Boiled Seal Intestines with Blubber and Crowberries then this is totally the cookbook for you!  If you happen to live in a Nordic country and have access to Icelandic Moss, you may wish to make Icelandic Moss Soup from the recipe in this handy guide or perhaps you want to cook and eat some puffins.  Sadly, there is a lovely photograph of some poor dead puffins who are "ready to be plucked." The book includes many photographs which range from interesting and odd to the quaint, and some are rather disturbing.  There is quite a bit of cultural information included with the recipes which is quite interesting and the recipes seem to be well-written and should be easy to follow.  More than merely a cookbook, this is a cultural lesson about Nordic cultures.

The Whole Coconut Cookbook by Nathalie Fraise

This cookbook uses many coconut products including coconut vinegar.  Many recipes have vegan and non-vegan options.  There are instructions on how to make your own coconut butter.  The photos are nice, but not all of the recipes have a photo.  I would like to have seen a photo for each of these interesting and unusual recipes.  The lemony mushroom risotto is great!  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Nickerbacher, The Funniest Dragon by Terry John Barto

Nickerbacher, The Funniest Dragon by Terry John Barto
I love the colorful illustrations in this book! They are lovely and work well for the story. Nickerbacher is a young dragon who wants to be a comedian but his father wants him to guard a princess. When a prince comes to fight him, he learns that he should follow his dreams rather than just doing what his parents think he should do. The story is cute and I think children will enjoy it. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum (Odditorium, #2) by Gregory Funaro

In this steampunk adventure fueled by magic and fairy dust, Grubb and his father fly the Odditorium, steered by playing an organ, underwater into Avalon to try to get Excalibur so they can vanquish the evil prince Nightshade. Action, adventure and magic abound in a tale that is sure to thrill readers. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

The Lies We Tell by Jamie Holland

This is a well-told story set in 1974.  I had to keep reading to find out what had really happened as 14 year old Martie struggles with her father's recent heart attack and obsesses about two young girls who had been kidnapped from a local mall.  She does not understand how her seemingly healthy father could have had a heart attack and reads about the symptoms and questions her mother repeatedly.  Things are not adding up, and eventually, she learns why.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

I finally got to read this book - actually, I listened to the audio book, which was very well done.  The book is fabulous.  With books this fabulous, I don't feel like I can write anything as a review that will do it justice other than to say that people should read it because it is so wonderful.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Glass Gauntlet by Carter Roy

I enjoyed this young adult fantasy/adventure story as much as I did the first book in the series. Once again, it is fast-paced and definitely kept me reading to find out what would happen next as Ronan tries to protect Greta without her knowing about it as they participate in a strange contest called the Glass Gauntlet. They are also trying to find and stop Ronan's dad and retrieve the Pure soul from him so they can reunite it with Flavia's body. I think that middle grade kids will enjoy this story! I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Blood Guard by Carter Roy

This is a fast paced, middle grade fantasy adventure book.  Thirteen year old Ronan Truelove, whose actual first name is Evelyn, has been taking self-defense and other classes since he got beat up for being named Evelyn in kindergarten.  When his up until now ordinary mom unexpectedly picks him up from school on a day that he would usually walk to his gymnastics lesson and takes him on a hair-raising car chase during which she drives down a flight of stairs and acts like a ninja, he learns that she is part of a secret society called the Blood Guard that protects the good guys from the bad guys.  She gives him a train ticket and when he survives and makes it onto the train, one of his classmates, Greta is also there and they wind up in the adventure together, running from the bad guys and trying to save the good guys.  It is a good thing that Greta's dad is in the FBI and has taught her how to pick locks.  Both the good guys and the bad guys have some awesome and bizarre paranormalish super powers.  I enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading the next one.  I received this book free to review from Netgalley.