Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Swim to Me by Betsy Carter

This was a quiet adult novel that is really, really good. I truly care for young Delores Walker. She strikes out on her own to be a mermaid in an underground water show in Florida and becomes a star weather woman. She's more mature than her own mother, and Delores has to decide what to do with her much younger brother. And what should she do about her dad who left them all a few years ago? Take him back? Welcome him?

Quiet is the best word for this little gem. I had a happy feeling when I finished it, although it definitely isn't a chick lit book. It's drama at its best.

The Servants by Michael Marshall Smith

No picture available yet. This adult novel is a quiet psychological thriller. Maybe thriller is too strong of a word. But this one reminded me of two shorts stories--"The Yellow Wallpaper" and "The Rocking Horse Winner." The strange things are happening in the mind of young Mark, an eleven year old boy who is dealing with a dad who left, a mom who remarried, a step-dad he doesn't want, and his mom's sickness. She has cancer and doesn't want to leave the house. Mark is left on his own, skateboarding and eventually visiting the strange old lady in the basement flat. Maybe there are ghosts who in the servants' quarters with her. But maybe not. Who knows?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Invisible Armies by Jon Evans

Picture improbably action movies and you've got this book. But I still enjoyed it. Danielle gets sucked into a world of corporate espionage, Indian thugs, sexy French military men, computer hackers and pharmaceutical malpractice. Everything happens to this girl and she doesn't know who to trust and what is going to happen next. It's a whirlwind, but pretty darn exciting. From now on, I'm never connecting to a hotel wireless connection again!

I have also read The Blood Price from this author, and it was pretty exciting, too.

Dedication by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

I liked The Nanny Diaries so I figured I would like this one. And I did. It was a great vacation read. The chapters go back and forth in time from when Kate Hollis first meets Jake Sharpe in grade school to 2005. He was her junior high crush and high school boyfriend. But he left her abruptly to run off to Los Angeles to record his old band's songs and make it big. Now he's a huge star coming back to his hometown. And she's out for revenge. How dare he sing songs about her body? Their first time? Her mother's cheating? Even though she's still attracted to him, Kate has to grow up, even if the rock star doesn't want to.

Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee

Yeah! Finally! The first great read of my Wisconsin vacation! It wasn't what I expected. I really grew attached to the main character, Casey, the daughter of Korean dry cleaners. Casey graduated from Princeton and still can't get her life straightened out. She wants to wear designer clothes and make her own hats, but she racks up a huge credit card debt. She splurges to fill emotional gaps in her life. What should she do with her life? The minor characters are well developed and make this 512 page novel quite the epic. I'm impressed by this debut novel.

Will high school kids like it? Most of mine won't, but maybe a few mature senior girls will pick it up.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Body Movers by Stephanie Bond

I wanted to read a good chick lit book. I was unpacking all the new books for PHS and saw this one. The reason why I selected it? At the top of the front cover is the following quote: "This is the best book I've ever read!" and then it says it's by Stephanie's mom. Cute.

And the book delivered cute. Along with a mystery. Carlotta is sick of taking care of her brother. She raised him after their parents deserted them. He responds by hacking his way into the county's database and getting into debt with local loan sharks. Along comes the scruffy, good-looking cop. But, wait! Her brother's boss, a body mover and ex-medical examiner, is awfully cute, too. And her married ex-boyfriend is showing interest, too! Whoa! But rich society women end up dead and Carlotta is wrapped up in the mystery.

There is a sequel. Will I read it? Maybe.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Stravaganza: City of Flowers by Mary Hoffman

This is third in the series and Hoffman had every character from every book involved in this one. It was a little confusing, but a fast read. Intended for middle grade readers, I've enjoyed the series. The kids travel, or stravagate, from modern England to Renaissance Italy city-states. It's fascinating. The author researched the crap out of the area, explaining in the afterward that she stayed a block down the road from one of the cathedrals in this book. You can tell. I feel like I know a lot more about the time period. This is one of those strange books where the setting is the winning point for me. The characters were okay, the rapier fighting was cool, but the setting and revenge play the major roles in this ya novel.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hick by Andrea Porter

This dark and sad debut adult novel was difficult to read, and I won't be adding it to my high school collection. Luli has a horrible life with two alcoholic, poor parents. She runs away to find a better life and finds out that being a hick isn't so bad. There's worse things out there--speed addicts, skanky whores, rapists, psychos, thieves, drug dealers, child molesters, and everything else under the sun.

While I won't be recommending this to anyone, I 'll keep my eye out for the second book by this author. She has promise. Especially once she learns that shocking the reader doesn't improve the work.

Peony in Love by Lisa See

This has been a disappointing vacation. Sure, the lake is pretty, the breeze is cool, and the food is great. But my book selection is poor. I was looking forward to Peony in Love because I loved Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, but the two books don't compare. I think this is the first time I've ever knocked a novel about foot-binding and Chinese culture, but here goes.

Something happens with the main character at the end of Part II that really ticks me off and made the rest of the book a complete disappointment. I kept reading, hoping it would get better, but I was ready to burn all copies of the opera The Peony Pavilion by the time I struggled to the end of this one!

The Next Thing on My List by Jill Smolinski

This cute fluffy novel was a good one to read on vacation. Not much thinking involved and everything turns out okay.

June Parker gives a ride home to Marissa from a Weight Watchers meeting. A dresser falls out of the truck in front of them, killing Marissa. After six months of guilt-induced depression, June decides to complete Marissa's list of "20 Things to Do Before my 25th Birthday." She kisses a stranger, goes braless, rides in a helicopter, and grows up. Of course, she finds love where she didn't see it before.

Shelter by Susan Palwick

I was very disappointed in this adult science fiction novel. I loved the award winner The Necessary Beggar, but I couldn't' even finish this one. I managed 164 pages over two days while I was on vacation, and had to give up. After quitting Shelter, I read two books in one day.

basically, there is a house with artificial intelligence who offers shelter to a homeless man who rescues cats and has had his memory erased. This has something to do with Meredith, a young girl who barely survived a devastating illness as a child, thanks to her daddy's money and isolation. Add in a religion worshiping Mother Earth and Meredith's dad, Papa Preston, who died but lives online. It all sounds strange, but it....was....so....slow and I can't read slow books on vacation. It's against the rules!

Blaze of Silver by K.M. Grant

This is Book 3 of the de Granville Trilogy, although it all started with Blood Red Horse. This one rocked! It was much better than Green Jasper (book 2) which had me worried.

Will, Ellie, and Kamil are growing up and growing apart. Kamil is drawn back to his Saracen self and Will is determined to win Ellie over. But first they have to pay King Richard's ransom and struggle on with the crusades.

As always, Hosanna, the red horse, is my favorite character. I grew up on the Misty series and every other horse series I could find. To me, this is just another great horse read! But I love historical stuff, too. Add in some strong female characters and I'm hooked!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Darkling Plain by Philip Reeve

I had to struggle to get through this large book. I love the Hungry City Chronicles though, and this is the 4th in the series so I was really looking forward to reading it. You can't beat Tom and Hester's relationship, and this book still follows them. They love each other but Hester is Valentine's daughter, and she is awfully good at killing people. Their daughter Wren falls in love with Theo and this creates more problems. Anti-tractionists against the green people. City people against earth people. Who will win? And how in the heck did the Stalker Fang come back to life? Again?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

I picked up this ARC at the ALA conference because I thought the concept was cute. And it was. The Greek gods are living in London and losing their powers because no one believes in them anymore. They are up to their tricks, too. Apollo gets in trouble for turning a girl into a tree. Aphrodite gets her son Eros to make Apollo fall in love with someone. And the chaos ensues. A trip to Hades occurs (through the underground system) and an unlikely hero emerges. I thought the book was hilarious, but it is ADULT. I won't be purchasing it for the high school. Greek gods are rated R. And they are all related. Ewwwwww.

The Extra Large Medium by Helen Slavin

Annie can see dead people. They wear chocolate-colored clothing and talk to her. She's a medium and learns at an early age that it makes other people uncomfortable when she talks about it. So she doesn't. But her gift helps the dead because she can deliver messages. She can help the living by giving them advice and finding lost loved ones. But somehow Annie's personal life needs help. Her relationship with her mother is odd. Her husband leaves her out-of-the-blue. This is definitely a quirky adult novel and not for everyone. But I found myself caring for Annie and the twist about her husband was original and very unexpected.

All-in by Pete Hautman

I didn't read No Limit, which is the first book Hautman wrote about Denn Doyle and poker. But I didn't really need to. This is a fast-paced read that I found entertaining. I had to re-read the last chapter again to make sure I got it right though. And the clues were subtle about Cattie, the red-haired cheating dealer who Denn falls in love with. I think this is the first young adult book I've read about poker. I think. Recommended reads by this author: Godless (National Book Award winner), Sweetblood (kinda vampires) and Invisible (Whoa). (I can't believe I ended two sentences with prepositions)