Thursday, July 28, 2011

Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean by Justin Somper

I missed out on the big pirate-lovin' trend that the Pirates of the Caribbean series stoked. But when I saw the title of this book, I couldn't resist the mash-up of my beloved vampires ALONG WITH pirates. Pure gold?!

And actually, it IS pure gold. This is a dramatic, adventuresome book about a set of 14-year old twins (one boy, one girl) who are orphaned, then shipwrecked and rescued by separate ships. All they want is to be together - but getting there is quite a journey.

It's a juvenile book - but I can see it being enjoyed by anyone over the age of about ten. It's not bloody or gory, the story clips right along, and the characters are fantastic. There are major female and male characters, so readers of both sexes should stay engaged and interested.

Additionally, if you're into audiobooks - Daniel Philpott is absolutely awesome here. The pirates are a world-culture melting pot, and Philpott carries off their multitude of accents and vocal characterizations without a misstep.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich

(I know - K blogged this same book earlier in the week. But I get my chance, too!)

Ranger. Mmmmm.
Oh. The book.

It's a pretty standard-fare, fluffy funny Stephanie Plum book. Our favorite cupcake has pissed off enough people (this week) that three people are actively trying to kill her. And she's conflicted about Ranger vs. Morelli (as if!) and that is further complicated by the sex-crazed "vordo" curse Grandma Bella put on her.

What else? Grandma Mazur is in prime form, Lulu's barely encased in spandex (yet also glorified on the side of a bus), and the bond office is working out of Mooner's van and the coffee shop since it got blown up in the last book.

If you love Evanovich books, you'll enjoy this one too. The storyline's fun, and the ending is appropriately vague to guarantee you'll stick around for Explosive Eighteen.

Monday, July 25, 2011


by Ellen Hopkins

First off, I love novels written in verse. The concept just leaves me in awe. One of the most provocative authors in this genre is currently Ellen Hopkins. Triangles is her first novel for adults and will be available this fall. This is the story of three women with intertwined lives. Holly has a marriage that most people would believe is ideal, but she's bored. Marissa's whole life has been strained since her child was born with special needs. Andrea is trying to be a good sister, friend, and mother while realizing that the man who best fits her vision of ideal is married to her best friend. If you pick this book up, be ready for a raw look into these women's lives. There is adultery on many fronts, death knocks upon a door, and some will face gay and lesbian issues in ways never expected. This is a gritty, clever, character driven read.

Smokin Seventeen

by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum is back for another adventure. For some readers, the most burning question is, "Who done it?" In this instance, it's pretty obvious. However, when it comes to Ms. Plum, the question is more, "Who's Stephanie gonna pick?" Ride along for another Morelli v. Ranger battle; this time Stephanie's dilemma is aided by a curse. Yeah, as if Ranger ever needed help taunting her.
Grandma and Stephanie's mom work to convince her that an old flame would be a much better choice than either of the usual suspects. This is another sassy, rollicking read.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

If you have a book club, you should read this book; it's very powerful, a quick read, and you CERTAINLY want to talk about it when you're done.

Alice is a professional at the prime of her life when she starts noticing memory lapses. She's concerned enough to seek out her doctor - but not concerned enough to tell her husband. After a battery of questions, tests, and scans the diagnosis is early onset Alzheimer's disease. Alice is 50, and her life is about to change.

The book is told from Alice's point of view, but the reader acts as an omniscient observer. This means you see Alice innocently repeat herself or make mistakes - and you understands the progression of her disease better than she does - even though you're inside her head.

The book gives a fresh perspective (the victim's) on Alzheimer's disease, plus it's beautifully written and extremely thought-provoking. What would I do in the same situation? What would I do if this was my spouse/child/friend/coworker? How is my forgetting where I left my keys different from Alzheimer's?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bad Dog (A Love Story) by Martin Kihn

This is a funny, suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat drama that's equal parts heart-warming and heart-breaking book about recovery and self-discovery. And dog training.

When his marriage crumbled - mainly due to alcohol and an uncontrollable dog - Kihn joins AA and decides to train his Bernese Mountain Dog, Hola, to be a certified AKC Good Citizen. Individually, either of those pursuits seems unlikely to succeed and piled together they're practically guaranteed to fail. But it's the road to the goal that's ultimately an enlightening process.

The book's well-written, and the levity Kihn introduces certainly lightens what could have been a depressing and dark book. The whole way you're on an emotional rollercoaster: rooting for Hola, despite the sinking suspicion things won't go well. But yet, they could be OK! Or, not.

If you've ever loved a dog, you'll enjoy this book (and especially, if you've known a Berner). And if you've ever taken on a challenge despite the fact you knew you couldn't win, you'll root for Kihn and Hola on their epic adventure.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass

Percival Darling's adjustment to retirement isn't what he thought it would be. His grown daughter is back, her life in shambles. He has somehow been talked into allowing his beloved barn to be converted into a daycare center - which also means his skinny-dipping days in the pond are numbered. Plus, he's met a woman who reminds him (for the first time in decades) that he has baser urges. It's a book about the quirkiness of families and the inevitable yet unexpected life changes we all face.

I absolutely loved this book! Can't make any bones about it. Percy's a cranky treasure, educated and caustic, sarcastic and curmudgeonly, and yet soft and squishy at the center. He's not the kind of guy many people feel warmly toward, so it makes his name even funnier: everybody sounds like they're saying, "Percy, darling!"

Beyond the titular character, there are several other first-person storylines: a gay teacher at the daycare, Percy's Harvard-student grandson, and a illegal immigrant worker. There's a lot going on in the tight-knit cast of characters, but you come to love and enjoy all these people and their eccentricities.