Killer Pizza by Greg Taylor

killer pizza

Toby really wants to become a chef and often fantasizes about becoming famous like the people he watches on the Food Network.  He doesn’t exactly have any cooking experience, though, and recognizes that as a major barrier to his dream.  So, he decides to apply for a summer job at a new restaurant called Killer Pizza.  Working in the KP kitchen is fun and, in addition to making new friends (Annabel and Strobe), Toby gets major satisfaction out of knowing that he has some natural culinary skills.  It seems that this is definitely the perfect job… until he is let in on a little secret: Killer Pizza is actually just a front for a monster hunting organization!  There’s nothing quite like hearing that MONSTERS ARE REAL and that some of them have taken up residence in your town.  And, as if learning about the monster infestation wasn’t scary enough, Toby, Annabel, and Strobe find out that they’re being recruited as MCOs (Monster Combat Officers) to help actually hunt down and kill the monsters.

This book was not quite as gruesome as The Monstrumologist, but I could see fans of that book choosing this for a light summer read.  It’s probably somewhere between R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps series and his and Fear Street series.  I would definitely recommend this to fans of Cirque Du Freak because it’s a little funny, just a bit creepy, and even a little gross, but still tame enough that it didn’t give me nightmares (which is all too easy a feat).  If you’d rather have a horror story that might give you nightmares, though, you should head on over to read Ashes by Ilsa Bick.  [shudder]

Loki’s Wolves by K. L. Armstrong and M. A. Marr

Loki's Wolves

Armstrong and Marr have done for Norse mythology what Rick Riordan has done for Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythology.  So, Riordan fans who need something to read while they anxiously await the final Heroes of Olympus book (The Blood of Olympus, coming October 7th) should definitely check out Loki’s Wolves.  Much like the Percy Jackson books, all the action and humor easily disguise the fact that you’re learning a metric ton of information about mythology.  My only complaint is that there’s not a glossary and/or pronunciation guide.  I mean, lots of kids have heard of Thor and Loki… but that might be as far as their previous knowledge of Norse mythology extends.  And, even as an adult with a pretty decent grasp of language, I had a hard time figuring out how to say some of the more exotic names.

Matt Thorsen lives in a small town called Blackwell, South Dakota.  He is extremely familiar with the legends of Norse mythology because his family are “literally” the descendants of Thor.  Matt has never been as successful as his brothers in school, but he is becoming a pretty awesome boxer — which should come in handy now that he is responsible for saving the world.  Seriously!  Ragnarok (basically, the apocalypse) is approaching and Matt is going to have to find a way to work with the descendants of other Norse gods — some of whom haven’t traditionally gotten along with Thor, like Loki — if he wants to find a way to save himself, and the rest of the world, from sure death.

The 26-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

The 26-Story Treehouse

Somehow, my son and I didn’t hear about The 13-Story Tree House until after we already had our hands on this book… So, we went ahead and started this one with hopes that we would not be too confused.  The good news is that a lack of familiarity didn’t take away from our enjoyment of this story.  The bad news is that we had too little self-control to make this book last! 😉   We read this book in only two sittings.  Granted, there are a lot of interior illustrations; but, we also read for about twice as long as normal for each of those two sittings.  It was just so funny that we didn’t want to stop reading!  Although it’s much sillier and more fantastic than the Wimpy Kid books, I think fans of that series should definitely check this one out — and stay tuned for news about when The 39-Story Tree House and The 59-Story Tree House will make it to the US.  (The 59-Storey Treehouse will be released in Australia on August 26th.)

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

The Goblin Emperor

This is a classic tale of a discarded son being suddenly thrust into the limelight and a position he was never trained for.  Maia’s world is turned upside down when an airship crash kills his father — the emperor —  as well as all those in the line of succession before Maia.  Maia, who has been raised in the harsh and unloving home of his uncle far from the capital, is awakened by a courier and whisked off to the imperial court to take his place as the new emperor of the elves.  Maia himself is half goblin on his mother’s side.  Maia, a young man of integrity and intelligence though woefully uneducated, struggles to learn the endless things he doesn’t know in order to preside over the empire effectively.  The court is full of intrigue and danger, but Maia also finds some allies.

The world building and character development in this fantasy novel are excellent and drew me in.  Names of people are long and rather foreign, but there is a pronunciation guide and glossary in the back.  Though the book doesn’t say so, I’m hoping that this is the beginning of a series.

The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin

The Aviator's Wife

I knew very little about Anne Morrow Lindbergh before reading this book, other than that she had written Gift from the Sea and that she was Charles Lindbergh’s wife.  It turns out she was much more.  Anne was the first licensed female glider pilot in the U.S. and served as Charles’s co-pilot and navigator on numerous flights as he traversed the globe.   However, she was overshadowed by her husband’s fame, the tragic kidnapping and death of their son Charlie, and her husband’s domineering personality.

This novel brings the time period to life and rounds out both Anne and Charles — he comes across as something of a tyrant.  It takes many years for Anne to find her voice and come into her own.  I enjoyed this book very much, but also found myself wondering how much of it was fact and how much was the author’s imagination.  Perhaps I’ll have to read a biography of Anne in the future.  Recommended.


We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt

We Are the Goldens

Nell and Layla were extremely close when they were little. So close, in fact, that Nell got confused and started calling her sister and herself by the collective name Nellaya.  Now that they’re both in high school, things have started to shift.  Though they attend the same school and play on the same soccer team, Layla has become more closed off and secretive.  Nell is doing her best to be her own person instead of living in her sister’s shadow, but she misses the closeness they once had.  Though Layla used to tell her everything, she feels as if Layla isn’t telling her *anything* anymore.  Nell wonders what could be causing this change in her sister and fears it has something to do with the rumors that Layla is dating the cute, young art teacher whose supposed conquests of students are frequent fodder for gossip.  She wants to know the truth, but she is also afraid of what she might learn.  After all, what will/should Nell do if she finds out the rumors are true?

Though I don’t think this book was written as well as The Things a Brother Knows or Harmless, I thought Reinhardt did a good job writing about the struggle between loyalty and honesty.

Wendy and the Lost Boys : The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein by Julie Salamon

Wendy and the Lost Boys

A truly fascinating book — –  I enjoy books about theater folks, playwrights, actors, etc. because I love to read about the process they go through in their respected mediums.  There is also a lot about her place in her family and how she was influenced by her family throughout her life.  Well worth it for sure and I would highly recommend it!  By the way, has anyone ever seen any of Wasserstein’s plays?  Would love to know what you thought of them….

Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin Book One by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy

I recently listened to the audiobook of Grave Mercy, and I kept thinking of Katsa, from Graceling.  After all, she was also an assassin with mystical powers who was being used as a pawn in someone else’s plans.  I think these young women would find great comfort in each other’s company, and I can almost imagine them meeting up for tea or a glass of wine and to kvetch about the people they had to kill that week!  (To learn more about Katsa’s story, check out my Graceling review.)

The really cool thing about Ismae is that she was fathered by Death — aka Saint Mortain. This was first discovered when she resisted the herbs her mother bought in an attempt to expel her from the womb. The turnip farmer who raised her as his child despised her and treated her terribly, then he sold her off as a bride to a brutish man when she was seventeen.  On her wedding night, when her husband discovered the marks that had been left behind by the poison, he flew into a rage.  Ismae managed to escape and was taken away to live in a convent with the Sisters of Mortain, who trained her to be handmaiden of Death.  Ismae was trained to mix and administer a variety of poisons, to conceal and use all manner of weapons, and to use “womanly arts” to search potential targets for the mark of Mortain [which both confirmed that a person should be assassinated and also indicated how they would die]. Add in some double-agents, hidden plots, and a dash of romance, and you get an audiobook that made me sad to run into only light traffic on the way home!

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

Ketchup Clouds

After her boyfriend’s death, Zoe is so overcome with guilt that she finds it hard to function.  People assume that her reclusive behavior is owed to the fact that she’s grieving for Max, and she finds that their sympathy actually makes her feel even more guilty.  In an attempt to unburden herself, Zoe decides to confess to Stuart Harris — a Death Row inmate in Texas who was listed on a website of prisoners seeking pen-pals.  She thought writing to Stuart would be a good idea for a few reasons — 1. He killed his wife and would likely understand what she’s going through, 2. He is in the United States while she is in England, and 3. She could use a false name and address to avoid being turned in to the police.  (Yeah.  Her name’s not really Zoe.) Through her letters to Stuart, which she writes while hiding out in the shed in her backyard, readers learn about the events that led up to Max’s death and why she feels responsible.  I’ll admit that I found myself getting a little frustrated at times, but I don’t think it was poorly done or anything.  I was just too impatient and wanted to know what happened!  I recommend this one to people who enjoy a little romantic drama with their mystery.

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

The Dovekeepers

I loved every single page of this book!   I love the fact that the author told the story through the women, who by the way were all strong, awesome women.  I also really like learning more about the Jewish faith as well as what it may have been like during the siege at Masada.  Absolutely fascinating and totally worth the time to sit and read.  A big affirmative recommendation for this book!

Blue Nights by Joan Didion

Blue Nights

So…having previously read The Year of Magical Thinking, I picked up this book.  First of all, it takes only about an hour to read this very small book.  Secondly, I don’t know what I was thinking.  I’m a reader, so I read almost all the time.  But why I would choose to read a book about a mother writing about the loss of her only daughter, well…let’s just say it was ill advised.  In any event, I also have to say I guess I don’t like Didion’s style; she repeats phrases over and over, and it’s really annoying.  And I feel really sorry for her as well — she is definitely not at peace with much of anything — aging, being alone, etc.  I almost think she’s clinically depressed and would  like to call her doctors in NYC to make sure they add an anti-depressant to her daily medications.

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night

This is the follow-up to Discovery of Witches.  There’s a third one in the works, too.  This book was chock-full of literary and scientific characters that are intimately involved with the two main characters, Diana and Matthew.  There are also references to the Salem witches (Diana is a distant relative of the Bishops from Salem, MA).  There is lots of moving around as Diana and Matthew time travel to find an ancient manuscript.  It is sometimes confusing to keep it all straight, but it’s worth it to keep reading.  I’m looking forward to Book 3 in this series.

Big Girl Small by Rachel Dewoskin

Big Girl Small

I saw this on a book list and ordered it and couldn’t remember what it was about.  Then I started it and found out it was about a girl who is a Junior in high school, who just happens to be a Little Person.  She just started a new school because she is a very talented singer.  However, she gets involved with a boy and then becomes involved in a scandal at school.  I enjoyed it and I thought it was a pretty good representation of kids in high school and the peer pressure that they encounter.

Monday Mornings by Sanjay Gupta, MD

Monday Mornings

I will read almost anything written by doctors or nurses about their experiences, so I grabbed this book, knowing how much I enjoy Sanjay Gupta’s reports on CNN.  This book, however, was not his finest work.  It’s almost laughable the way he sets up conversations, and he throws around silly cliches.  When he gets down to the nitty gritty of a medical procedure or a surgery it’s very cool, but otherwise very rudimentary.  Sanjay should stick to his medical practice and continue to do the great stories on CNN.