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Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich ISBN 978-0345542885

I appreciate Janet Evanovich’s humor and characters, they are fun and a great way to relax when the snow is falling far too much and winter is just surreal.  Is this intellectually stimulating?  No, but it wasn’t intended to be it is meant to be fun and happy and ridiculous at times.

In an interview given at one of the end of the audio books, Janet said that she plots out which characters are going to be the supporting roles in the book.  In “Takedown Twenty” — the supporting roles fall to Ranger and Grandma Mazur, in my opinion a great combination.

Stephanie has a file on “Uncle Sunny” — he is FTA for running someone over … twice.  Uncle Sunny is Morelli’s godfather and protected by the mighty Bella.  It seems that everyone wants to keep quiet about the whereabouts of her FTA.

Ranger is searching for someone who has killed the mother of his client and because of Stephanie’s many connections he calls her to help him track down the killer of old women.

Grandma Mazur turns out to be the key to all the investigations and in her usual quirky sense provides many chuckles.

Overall a pleasant read beside the wood stove on a winter day.

Intertwined by Gena Showalter ISBN 978-0373210121

Intertwined

Aden Stone has always had many problems: when he walks too close to a cemetery the dead wake up, he hears voices in his head and he has no family.

Aden has been shuffled from foster homes to juvie his whole life and he is trying desperately to stay out of trouble and pretend to be normal.

Aden has just been shuffled to one more home and his good behavior has been rewarded and he can go to public high school.  He is finally achieving his goals.

At school he meets someone he thought was impossible — a person who quiets the voices in his head.  He is enthralled and wants to spend as much time with her as he can because he is finally calm.  With much hesitation he reveals to her what is happening and so she begins to wonder about her own life and the death of her mother when she was a young girl.

This is a great paranormal story: vampires, werewolves, and speakers of spirits … a great combination and a story I will continue reading.

 

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up—Aden Stone is not your typical 16-year-old. Since birth he has had four souls trapped within him that possess special powers: the ability to time travel, raise the dead, possess a body, and predict the future. As a result, he has spent his whole life in and out of mental institutions diagnosed as a violent schizophrenic. Now able to control the voices in his head, Aden has moved to Crossroads, OK, to live in a halfway house for delinquent boys. His goal in life is to find a means to free these souls and at last be at peace. When he meets Mary Ann Gray, she miraculously acts as a neutralizer, and for the first time in his life, he truly feels normal. The two become fast friends, establishing a sibling-type bond. Little do they realize that when they first met, their connection sent a power surge throughout the world drawing every paranormal creature from fairies to vampires to Crossroads on a quest for power. To complicate matters, Aden becomes romantically involved with a vampire princess and Mary Ann with her werewolf bodyguard. Together the teens must figure out a way to protect themselves, and all of humanity. This fast-paced, action-driven plot has many unexpected twists and turns. Well written, with a unique story line and strong characters, Intertwined is fresh and original at a time when there is an overload of paranormal romances on the market.—Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition. 

Seizure (Virals Book 2) by Kathy and Brendan Reichs

cover art from Seizure by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs

cover art from Seizure by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs

I think this has become my new favorite youth fiction series.  I really like how the Reichs have developed this troupe of four teenagers and their personalities and dilemmas.

The LIRI Research Center is loosing funding because of the scandal in the first book.  This means that the workers will disperse to wherever the parents can get work, which means the troupe will be disbanded.  The four of them are disheartened and they need a plan to save their pack (which means saving the research center).

So the pack comes together and starts coming up with plots and schemes and eventually settle on one involving a local heroine — Anne Bonny.

There is great adventure: old submerged tunnels, headless skeletons, subterfuge and deception.  The stupid debutante misadventures and relational angst.  Tory gets to call her Great Aunt Temperance (of Bones fame) to ask for a Celtic translation found on the map that they “borrowed”.

But in the end … they triumph over the bad guys (and deceived guy) and are able to save the day and stay together.

This is a great series and I do recommend it to anyone who likes the super-hero mutant power crime solving.

This is just so cool.

Review

“I would highly recommend it … 5 stars” Guardian “If you like Bones, you’ll love Virals” James Patterson “Kathy Reichs gets it dead right with sharp writing and a plot that throws a bunch of very real teens into a deadly adult world … I loved it and I’m sure fans of Alex Rider will love it too” Anthony Horowitz “Mystery … fantasy … science … and heart-stopping action – this book is DANGEROUS. After I read Tory Brennan’s first adventure, I wanted more, more, MORE” R.L. Stine, author of Goosebumps –This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

The Third Victim by Lisa Gardner

cover art from The Third Victim

cover art from The Third Victim

I had heard Lisa Gardner speak at a conference and since was sounded so interesting in person, I felt I had to read her work.  So off to the InterLibrary Loan site and I requested “The Third Victim” on audiobook.

It opens in a small town in Oregon.  Rainie Connor (short for Lorraine) is one of two full time officers in Bakersville.  She has grown up there and was only away a few years when she went to college, but she returned a few years ago and lives in the home she grew up in.  She has just finished her lunch in a small diner when an emergency call comes in concerning the school.  Her boss calls her via radio and asks her to take lead and says he will meet her there.  As a single woman with no children, she has no immediate ties to the school and she does have a hard time trying to gain order in the parking lot and the surrounding area.  Keeping frantic people out of the school, investigating to see if the perpetrator is out of the building, to see about getting injured people out, and otherwise securing the crime scene.

As it turns out there were three victims: two students and a teacher.  The alleged suspect was the sheriff’s son.

Because of the small town jurisdiction the State Police were involved and because it was a school shooting an FBI serial crime expert was called in.  Most of the book seemed to be about the three parties and how they did and didn’t work together.

Another aspect of the book was how the small town dealt with such a blow.  Feelings were high and though the investigators felt that the youth didn’t do it all by himself, finding the one who helped was very hard work.

Rainie also had to deal with demons in her own past.  Her mother had been brutally murdered in her own home and her good-for-nothing boyfriend who many suspected as the possible murderer was not found.

This was a fine mystery with enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing all the way through.

Review

“A suspenseful, curl-up winter read, this thriller teems with crisp, realistic dialogue and engaging characters.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Riveting, hold-your-breath suspense.”
— Iris Johansen

The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus, Book 4) by Rick Riordan

cover art from The House of Hades

cover art from The House of Hades

My children have followed Percy and Annabeth through their many adventures and we just HAD to follow into Hades.  Because the library version was checked out, we got the eBook and read it on my phone out loud to each other during our many car trips and rare evenings home.  It was a great story — the Argo II flying over the mountains with the rest of the team meeting all kinds of monsters, Roman prefects and rogue goddesses and Percy and Annabeth drudging through Hades battling fiery rivers and meeting Bob the janitor.

It was amazing.  It was great.  I didn’t want it to end, but it did anyway.

Later, the audiobook was available at the library and since we loved it so much, I borrowed it.

DO NOT DO THIS!

We couldn’t get through the first track the reader was so horrible.

I much preferred reading the whole book from a 2 inch by 2 inch cell phone screen than listen to that reader.  My thoughts — bring back Jesse Bernstein, even Joshua Swanson was better than this fiasco of a reader.

But the story was great and I am SO willing to read the next one out loud too, unless they get a real reader.  Then I will get the audiobook the first time around!

 

At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors from both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

Sour Apples (an Apple Orchard Mystery) by Sheila Connolly

cover art from Sour Apples

cover art from Sour Apples

I have loved the Apple Orchard mysteries by Sheila Connolly and this is a wonderful addition to the series.

Meg Corey is finally feeling settled. She has survived her first harvest. She has eked a small profit from the orchard and is interested in expanding her varieties and holdings. She is getting to know many of her neighbors and is making friends. She is planting her own roots.

Then into the midst of this settling, her friend from Boston calls and asks if she can visit and if she can introduce her boss who was a classmate of Seth’s and currently running for Congress. Seth does not have fond memories of his former classmate and won’t speak to Meg about it. At this same time of the whirl wind visit of the Congressional tour, a dairy farmer ends up dead, presumably kicked by her cow. However, when the autopsy is performed it is discovered that she was murdered; at first, the husband is suspected. The cows had been ill and when blood work was done, everything turned out normal in one test and very wrong in another test — it is hard to believe that these two tests were the same animals.

A long story of small town politics comes out in this novel. Environment, long family histories and close-knit communities come to full circle in this novel and I look forward to the next in the series.

Review

“A wonderful slice of life in a small town.”—The Mystery Reader

“”Meg is a smart, savvy woman…just the kind of protagonist I look for in today’s traditional mystery.”—Meritorious Mysteries

“A likeable heroine, an attractive small town setting.”—Lesa’s Book Critiques

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris (read by Johanna Parker)

cover art from Dead Ever After

cover art from Dead Ever After

The conclusion to the Sookie Stackhouse series was a very interesting.

I enjoyed listening to this book.

The maneuverings of the vampires.  The jealousy of Eric.  The confusion of Sam, brought back from the dead with special elfin magic.  Demons and pacts with the devil.  A death in town that is blamed on Sookie who through the bail hearings and investigation finds out who her friends are.  This story has so many twists and turns that it is hard to find out where exactly you are in the whole book.  You almost need a flow chart.  It wrapped up many of the characters quite nicely — leaving it so that we had a nice feeling of resolution and though we may not liked how things turned out, it made a certain amount of sense.

It holds a logic and sense of continuity that holds to the authors beliefs and follow the story line of the series.

It is hard for an author who has a successful series to hold firm to the thought that this is a good time to end.  I give Charlaine Harris credit for having the fortitude to do that now.

 

Editorial Reviews

Review

“The Sookie Stackhouse series seamlessly mixes sensuality, violence, and humor.”—Boulder Weekly

“Harris’s creation offers a magical and mysterious twist on traditional vampire stories.”—Houston Chronicle

“What sucked me in? Definitely the books’ oddly charming, often funny mix of the mundane and the absurd. And the chills and thrills in boudoirs and various locales around the South aren’t too bad either.”—The Seattle Times

 

Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker

I seem to be in a rather dark mood when it comes to youth fiction; however, I do choose books that though dark have uplifting endings.

Stella is a young girl who never knew her father, though he named her for he was a jazz musician and his favorite song was about Stella. Her mother is flighty and loves to wander hither and yon and doesn’t know how to care for her young daughter. So Stella ended up in the foster care system and eventually at her great-aunt’s house. Stella is super organized and lives with the “Help from Heloise” home tips.

Angel is another young girl that Great Aunt Louise fosters for she thought that Stella needed a young friend. It turns out that Angel and Stella have nothing in common and they have a hard time getting along, until something unexpected happens.

Louise is found dead in her lounge chair at the end of the last day of school.

This occurrence ties the girls together for they both know that soon they will be getting out of the foster system: Angel’s aunt is applying for custody and Stella is hoping that her mother finally has a steady job and will be able to be a family again. They both need just a few more weeks and they will be more settled. So they decide to pretend that Louise broke her ankle and take care of cleaning the summer rental cabins and processing the registrations themselves. They do very well for most of the summer but events change when the social services people arrive and ask questions that they cannot answer.

This is a great story about family: those born and those made. I highly recommend this for readers of all ages.

Review

“A suspenseful, surprising novel of friendship and family from the creator of the popular Clementine series.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“Beautifully evoked, the novel’s Cape Cod setting plays a focal role in this richly layered tale of loss, resiliency, and belonging.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Pennypacker is a Beverly Cleary-caliber girl-whisperer; she can weave a yarn both funny and touching, with all the beloved, timeworn themes at the ready: friendship, family, loyalty, loss and independence.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Pennypacker’s marvelously tactile writing animates Stella’s narration and brings both engaging, resilient, and resourceful characters to life.” (School Library Journal)

The Art of the Start: the time-tested, battle-hardened guide for anyone starting anything by Guy Kawasaki read by Paul Boehmer

cover art from Art of the Start

cover art from Art of the Start

The draw back of listening to this on audiobook as opposed to reading it in print was that I didn’t do the exercises or write down ideas of things that I really thought were important … it is hard to do when driving 65 miles per hour down the highway!

But it is my hope to re-listen to this book soon so that ideas can percolate in my head and turn into action.

This breaks the project into many points.  If you are starting a business or a church group or a new hobby;  you need a plan.  All projects start with a dream.  I want to create a world changing app for the tablet.  I want to write a book.

Then bits and pieces need to come into place.

The dream needs to be made manifest in pieces — sometimes starting is the most difficult thing so break it into manageable chunks and slowly move forward.  Articulate the pieces and the more you share with trusted associates, the more you can figure out what will work.  Part of this process will be pitching to important individuals who can help you. Something that may also be part of this preliminary time is writing a plan of how to proceed and what you hope to gain.

If this is a company you will need to raise capital or if you want to write a book you will have to determine how much funding you need to move forward.  If you are starting a church group this may not be as important a goal.  However every new endeavor needs support if it is financial or emotional.  Do you have people who share your vision?

Every dream needs supporters.  Every project needs a brand so that when people see the image they know exactly what to expect.  Then you need to be a person of integrity who will stand by your dream and give that vision to the world in such an amazing way that your audience will think of you and your vision before all others.

This book is a great resource if you are starting to formulate a new dream or business.  My recommendation would be to read it in print or eformat for listening, though very well-done, was hard to capture all the wonderfully helpful points that he had to make … unless you have time to listen multiple times or have an eidetic memory.

Open Season (A Joe Pickett Novel) by C. J. Box

Open Season

This author was recommended by a patron who was amazed that I had never read C.J. Box.  I had seen this author go out a great deal and mostly to my male readers and so I promised that eventually he would make his way to my to read pile: an ever-growing pile.

So he did.

I did enjoy it and if my pile ever slackens I will look up more books by C.J. Box.  I can honestly recommend him to any patron that passes by and likes suspense / mystery; however, I do not need to manipulate my to read pile to purposefully place him at the top.  I do not need to finish the series before the next one comes out so I can eagerly await it.  Yet I liked him and I do have great respect for his characters.

Joe Pickett is a game warden in Twelve Sleep, Wyoming.  This is a culmination of his dream.  He lives in a home owned by the state and is paid just enough to get by and his wife is pregnant with their third child.  He is worried about making ends meet.  He refuses to accept bribes so he looses access to forms of compensation previous game wardens have used to supplement their income.

Joe is going through his normal every day life preparing for hunting season and long days on the trails, when a man ends up dead near his wood pile.  Unfortunately for Joe this raises situations both professionally and personally since this man had taken his gun from him and an investigation started.  He is suspended from work.  He is offered a job that is too good to be true from his former boss working for a gas company that wants to build a pipe line through town.  People try to convince him it would be good for it would bring jobs to town and Twelve Sleeps could use all the help it can get.

This is a great book for the characters are amazing — some, like Joe are wonderful good people and then some, like his former boss are just plain sleezy.  The story is great — part thriller part environmental head line.

Do yourself a favor and read C.J. Box.  He may become your next favorite author!