Monday, July 27, 2009

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

I'm a big fan of Maureen Johnson, especially 13 Little Blue Envelopes and The Bermudez Triangle. She writes what I call intelligent chick lit. The witty banter between Scarlett and her brother Spencer is a great example of this in Suite Scarlett.

Scarlett's family runs an old Art Deco hotel in New York City, but they're running out of money. And hotel guests. The help has been let go and the family members have to adopt a suite to care for. Scarlett gets Mrs. A, a whirlwind of a woman who makes things happen with a little lying and stealing. Mrs. A adopts Spencer's Shakespeare group as a pet project and gives Scarlett advice about Eric, an older boy she is crushing on.

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

I'm a big fan of historical fiction and knew I'd enjoy a YA novel about the WASPS--the Women Airforce Service Pilots. Ida Mae Jones is a light-skinned African-American who decides to pass as white during World War II so she can join the WASPs. Ida Mae learned how to fly from her father and helped him spray crops around their berry farm in Louisiana.

There is a lot of talk about race and sex in this novel, obviously. Colored people don't fight with white people, and same goes for men and women. Ida Mae has to deal with men who don't think women should fly and family members who don't think she should pass as white.

The book isn't action-packed, but I thought the history was interesting. Ida Mae is likable, even if a little surface-only. The author's afterword was great, and provided the background I wanted to know about.

Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz

I can see why this YA novel was flying off the shelf last Spring. The cover picture seems to be of the main character's friend though, so I'm not sure why the vintage dress is on the cover.

Camelia is in love with the new boy in town, even though he's been accused of pushing his ex-girlfriend off a cliff. When he touches Camelia, there's something electric between them. But when she starts getting scary notes and pictures in her mailbox, she isn't sure whom to trust. Who's stalking her? And who kidnaps her?

The secondary characters make this book work. Wes pays a girl to be his girlfriend to keep his dad happy. Kimmie re-works vintage dresses. Camelia's mom does yoga and cooks strange concoctions of healthy stuff. And Camelia's dad sneaks them to Taco Bell at least twice a week!

How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle

I needed a fluffy chick lit book and this one provided an easy break from adult novels for me. Vicks, Mel and Jesse are three breakfast joint employees who road trip to Miami. Jesse is running from her wet-T-shirt contest mom who was just diagnosed with cancer. Vicks is pining for her U of Miami football-playing boyfriend who isn't returning her texts or calls. Mel is the new rich girl who just wants to fit in and find some friends and someone to love. This definately isn't a great book, but it was a quick and easy vacation read.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mortal Coils by Eric Nylund

I'm not sure what to think of this adult novel by the author of the Halo books. At first, I was all gung-ho about it, but it slowed in the middle and then picked up in the end. Interesting premise, but I think tighter editing could have sped things up.

Eliot and Fiona are twins who live under the strict rules of their grandmother--no tv, no radio, no social life. But on their birthday, everything starts to change (like Harry Potter!) Their parents become known and they find out they are the children of a fallen angel and an immortal goddess. Both twins have good and evil in them, and both families begin testing them to see which side they lean toward. They are tempted by hotties, chocolates, and just by teenage rebelliousness. Both twins have their weaknesses, and the families attack. But will they choose to stay together? or be driven apart? There will obviously be a sequel.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wedding Belles by Haywood Smith

I listened to this audiobook because I knew the author wrote the Red Hat Club book. And, hey, I'm a sucker for an audiobook read by someone with an accent. I got my fill of southern talk with this one! The four friends still meet for lunch regularly with their red hats and purple clothes, but things aren't going well for Georgia. Her only daughter is getting married to her husband's best friend and Georgia can't stand the embarrassment. I must admit I was a little bored with it all. She just couldn't let it go and be happy for her daughter. She was obsessed with finding out all his faults and trying to "save" her daughter from making a mistake. I guess I'm seeing things from the daughter's perspective. The other red hat friends have their own problems, too, but Georgia is the focus in this one. All in all, an easy summer listen.

Vacations from Hell by Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Claudia Gray, Maureen Johnson and Sarah Mlynowski

I like Mlynowski (see As Seen on TV), Clare (see City of Bones) and Bray (see A Great and Terrible Beauty). I've read almost all of Maureen Johnson. So I was sooooo disappointed in this short story collection. The premise was great--five short stories about teenagers on vacations from hell. Of course, the supernatural is involved. But I thought the stories were trite, predictable, and not a joy to read. It fills the need for fluff, but this isn't the kind of fluff I like. I want short stories to be gripping and suspenseful, but I thought these were cheesy and silly.

I can't believe I'm trashing anything written by these authors. I really, really like their novels. But these stories need tighter editing, and I think the collection did need an editor. No editor is listed on the title page. I'm sure it will sell because of their names and this might sooth some kids, but I think a lot of people will be disappointed.

Again, I can't believe I'm dissing the work of these authors. Ugh.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Breathers by S.G. Browne

Zombie books are just as popular as ever, thanks to the whole Twilight craze. I know, I know zombies aren't big stars in the Twilight series, but they do have the whole undead thing going on.

Andy is reborn undead after a car accident and is forced to live in his parents' basement, attend therapy sessions, and get food thrown at him. Zombies aren't citizens in his world, and they can't even get their social security number back. He's stuck in limbo, so he just sits around and drinks his parents' expensive wine. But then Andy meets Ray, who introduces him to the wonderful jarred venison that starts to make Andy feel better. But, um, we all know what makes zombies tick, right? Breathers (better known as humans) make excellent casseroles. And I don't mean cooking! Andy's unlife starts to turn around with fellow zombie Rita at his side and a potful of Breathers curing his wounds. The plot thickens as Andy becomes the poster child for zombie rights, but, hey, eventually people are going to figure out that zombies eat people. And, um, people don't like that. :)