Tuesday, December 15, 2015

On a quiet street near a pub in a working class neighborhood is Slade Alley from which one might find Slade House. Slade house residents discreetly lure certain people to visit...a visit from which they will never return. Visitors find the short and narrow black iron door, which is the entrance to Slade House at 9 year intervals beginning in 1979. After each disappearence, there is a flurry of activity to locate the missing person which eventually ends. During the interval years the missing people are forgotten until a new disappearence occurs. Events come to a climax in 2015 with a hair raising conclusion that the reader will not see coming.This is a true modern day horror story! The premise is original, the suspense electric, and the protagonists portrayed in each chapter are characters with whom the reader can  relate. It so grabs you that it can be read in one sitting.  A most intelligent, thought provoking and profoundly disturbing read. 

Review by Karen 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Book Review:  Between the Notes by Sharon Russ Roat
Ivy Emerson’s life is forever changed when her father’s business fails and the cost of her brother’s therapy for a disability causes the family to lose their home.  The family moves from a posh, affluent neighborhood to Lakeside which for Ivy is the same as living on the wrong side of the tracks.  The new apartment, a quarter of the size of her home will not fit her beloved piano! Ivy’s piano is the primary way she deals with her emotions which she expresses by composing and singing about the events of her life.   Ivy hides the change from her high school friends and a cute new guy with whom she hopes to start a relationship.  The more Ivy tries to hide the change in her life with lies the more complicated things become.  Along the way she also sees how much she thinks she knows about her friends and new people she meets in Lakeside that she thought she could never like.   As events unfold Ivy learns that not everyone is who she thought they were…including Ivy herself. 
A delightful and charming story that is sure to be enjoyed by teen readers and adults alike!

Review by Karen    

Monday, November 16, 2015

Beautiful Life Lessons....

Image result for very good lives

Book Review:  Very Good Lives; the Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J. K. Rowling

J.K Rowling, the perennially popular author of the Harry Potter series, and also titles for adults shares her brand of wisdom about handling failure, and still living a very good life.   It is her address to the 2008 graduating class of Harvard University.  The benefits of failure and the power of imagination propel one forward and provide the resiliency necessary to handle both success and disappointment.  Imagination was instrumental in keeping her focused during periods of poverty.  “You will never truly know yourself or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity” she says.   “Life is not a checklist of acquisitions or achievement; your qualifications or curriculum vitae are not your life”. Very Good Lives, the Fringe Benefits of Failure Importance of Imaginations is a powerful and instructive reading experience.    

Review by Karen

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The search begins!

Where'd You Go, Bernadette
By Maria Semple

Bee's mom has gone missing, and Bee's not going to stand for it. Told through e-mails, notes, video footage, and anything a private investigator might get her hands on, this is the story of the search for Bernadette Fox. Bernadette has made plenty of enemies since moving to Seattle, but her daughter, Bee, idolizes her. This precocious, brilliant 15-year old, is thoroughly devoted to her mom but she hasn't noticed some of her flaws. For instance, Bernadette's fervent desire to avoid contact with anyone outside their family. Or her intense fear of leaving the house, so much so that she hires a woman in India to take care of all of her affairs via the internet. When Bee gets a good report card and tries to cash in on her parents' promise to take her to Antarctica, Bernadette agrees. But through an unlikely and increasingly madcap series of events, planning for this trip brings the Fox family's world crashing down around them. And then, Bernadette is gone.

Though it may seem like Bernadette is the clear victim here, she's quite a polarizing figure. My sympathies veered wildly between the characters at times, and Bernadette's bitter view of the people around her is occasionally difficult to swallow. But Bee's optimistic attitude and the bizarre actions of some of Bernadette's rivals help the entire book come together as a story of a woman against the world. In the end, you really do wonder what happened to her. And you're rooting for Bee to find out.

This title is available as a book, an audiobook, and a downloadable audiobook. I listened to it, so if you've got a commute to work consider this a recommendation for you.

Review by Danny Hanbery

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

History is BIG!

Book DVD Review:  Big History A& E Television Networks, History, Lions Gate Entertainment
Big History is a new way to understand the evolution of life including mankind and historical events through a linking of activities/happenings that have occurred in the Universe and on our planet. The interconnectedness of life is explored through a “history” of the superpower Salt, the Pocket time machine, H2O, Horsepower revolution, Gold Fever, Megastructures, Defeating Gravity, World of weapons, Brain boost, Mountain Machines the Sun, Silver Supernova, the Agrarian age, Black Death, voyages of Columbus, industrial revolution, prehistoric geology and global warming.  Also explored are current concerns such as population growth, global disparities, human evolution and a variety of empires including Mongol, Mayan and Aztecs civilizations. Each facet studied in the DVD series subtly links to all others creating a magical “Gestalt” about creation of life in all its forms.      
"Big History" represents a new kind of history, one that artfully interweaves historical knowledge and cutting-edge science. In an age of global warming, when the fate of the earth hangs in the balance, scientific advances permit us to see the universe as never before, grasping the timescales that allow us to understand the history of mankind in the context of its ecological impact on the planet.
I was enthralled by Big History because it makes many disciplines accessible to the lifelong learner. It is a very long series but well worth the effort as it provides a timeline that is more like a “web” underscoring how life itself is made up of many facets all interconnected. Please pick this one up because it will both challenge and engage you!
Review by Karen 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Who Are You Gonna Call?

Here are a two non fiction books to get you in the mood for Halloween.

"The dark-eyed woman first appeared in the 1970s, standing near a fireplace in a long black gown. She was sad and translucent, present and absent at once. Strange things began to happen in the Santa Fe hotel where she was seen. Gas fireplaces turned off and on without anyone touching a switch. Vases of flowers appeared in new locations. Glasses flew from shelves. And in one second-floor suite with a canopy bed and arched windows looking out to the mountains, guests reported alarming events: blankets ripped off while they slept, the room temperature plummeting, disembodied breathing, dancing balls of light. La Posada--"place of rest"--had been a grand Santa Fe home before it was converted to a hotel. The room with the canopy bed had belonged to Julia Schuster Staab, the wife of the home's original owner. She died in 1896, nearly a century before the hauntings were first reported. 

In American Ghost, Hannah Nordhaus traces the life, death, and unsettled afterlife of her great-great-grandmother Julia and her family, from Julia's childhood in Germany to her years in the American West with her Jewish merchant husband, to the spas and seance rooms of the late nineteenth century, to World War II and beyond. In her search to find and understand her troubled ancestor, Nordhaus travels across America and Europe, and unearths family diaries, photographs, and newspaper clippings; meets with historians, genealogists, psychics, and ghost hunters; and learns along the way some unexpected lessons about living. American Ghost is a touching journey of roots and memory, a story of pioneer women and immigrants, villains and visionaries, frontier fortitude and mental illness, imagination and lore. As she follows the strands of Julia's life, Nordhaus discovers a larger tale of how a true-life story becomes a ghost story--and how difficult it can be to separate history from myth."-- 

Summary provided by publisher.

Step into the mysterious world of haunted plantations, where you'll meet the restless spirits of soldiers, slaves, and owners who roam the antiquated halls. Presenting majestic homes from seven southern states, this remarkable guide contains dramatic history and true stories from the days before and during the Civil War. Join paranormal expert Richard Southall on an awe-inspiring journey through each plantation, exploring grand houses and their ghastly ghouls. 'Haunted Plantations of the South' presents fascinating research, in-depth interviews with ghost hunters, and unforgettable encounters full of paranormal activity and evidence. Discover the phantom casket of the Sweetwater Plantation, the Man in Black who haunts Bellamy Mansion, and many more compelling ghost stories along the way."-

Summary provided by publisher