Friday, September 30, 2011

Book 53 (2011): After

Devon Davenport is on trial because she had a baby and threw it away in a dumpster. The thing is... she doesn't remember it ever happening.

Devon, age 15, has a crummy home life, but she's a model student, a star soccer player, holds down a job and is involved in all things a perfect student does. So why is she in a juvenile detention center, awaiting a trial to see if she will be sentenced to life for an act she doesn't even remember committing?

After is an excellent young adult novel. It's well written and it gives Devon a realistic teen girl voice. I think teen girls will eat it up. (354 pages)


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book 52 (2011): State of Wonder

I like Anne Patchett's novel State of Wonder. I can say it's the first time I wasn't all that thrilled with the book's ending but I still like the novel- it didn't change my appreciation of it.

A doctor- Dr Swenson- doing research in the Amazon jungle stays out of contact with her pharmaceutical employer for 2 years. The company sends a fellow researcher to find her, only to die under mysterious circumstances. So Dr Marina Singh goes to investigate her colleague's death and to see what progress is being made on this new drug that could change humanity as we know it.

This story is multi -layered because Marina has her down dealings with Dr Swenson in her professional past, as well as the story of traveling to the Amazon, to the tribe and living and working in the jungles and all that entails.

I found this to be a profound and riveting novel. (368 pages)


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book 51 (2011)-The End of Everything: a novel

The End of Everything is a yucky novel and it made me feel icky.

Lizzie was the last person to see her best friend, Evie before she disappeared. The girls were best friends then suddenly, at age 13, Evie was gone and there were no clues, just the faint remembrance of a maroon car, and the knowledge that Lizzie was the last to Evie.

Lizzie, who was lost without Evie, started her own search for her friend. However, as Lizzie dug deeper, she started to learn that she and her best friend really didn't share all their secrets, and maybe Evie wasn't who she thought she was.

The End of Everything is well written, but difficult to read because it is so disturbing. It's dark and sad and made me, as a reader, very uncomfortable and feel rather icky. I thought it would be a good mystery or psychological thriller but instead its teenage sexuality, as well as a glorified or romantic view of a pedophile was shocking and harsh.

There is a loss of innocence here which was difficult to read, too. The characters were disgusting and it felt like all the relationships were really warped, from that of Evie and Lizzie to that of Lizzie and... well, everyone, as well of that of Evie and her abductor.

Author Meg Abbott creates an uncomfortable (there's that word again, I know) atmosphere but her characters are not flat. I work with teens and she does seem to have a firm grasp on the mind of a child who thinks they know things but in reality, really know nothing. This story is narrated by 13 year old Lizzie and often the assertions that come from her are twisted and creepy, even eerie, which make Abbott a good author, even though the subject matter is quite repulsive. The sexual overtones through the whole story were uncomfortable. Between the feelings Lizzie seemed to have for Evie's dad, as well as the feelings she seemed to have for Evie and Evie's sister Dusty, all these seemed to appear sexual in nature. It was hard for me to read that Lizzie thought Evie's kidnapper took her because he loved her and wanted to have a romance, rather than the pedophile sexual predator he was. There was something sadly realistic which led to the uncomfortable feelings this story left with me.

As I said, this book is yucky and icky. I wish I hadn't read it. (256 pages)


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Book 50 (2011): In Search of the Rose Notes

I liked this book. Something about it just drew me to it and I enjoyed reading it all the way to the end to see what the twist was going to be. I love a good twist!

Nora and Charlotte are friends as young 11 year old girls when the babysitter they both idolize, Rose, goes missing and is never found. Charlotte is strong and assertive and wants to see if they can find her, using their Time Life Mystery Books as a guide. Nora, quiet and introverted, wants nothing of the sort, and shortly after the disappearance of Rose, the friendship ends and is never rekindled. Nora graduates from high school and leaves town, vowing to never look back since she will forever be known as "the last person to see Rose".

Now years later, Nora returns to her home town, drawn by the news that Rose's remains have been found. Nora comes back and is again drawn into memories of that time before and after Rose went missing, and she does a bit of investigating on her own, since no killer was found-- just her remains.

While back in her small town, she and Charlotte re-kindle their friendship, as it were, working through old demons as well as new ones. And many misconceptions from the past also surface, between them and between others childhood friends.

I did like In Search of Rose Notes, especially the pacing. There were two things that left me questioning the plausibility of the story. The first was that Nora, having not spoken to Charlotte since one brief conversation in high school, so basically since they were 11 years old, that she would go back to stay with her, in Charlotte's home, for weeks on end. That left me troubled- the too casual quickness of the friendship coming back together, especially since both women were uneasy with each other, and Charlotte was quick combative, strange and angry. The second was just... sort of uncomfortable. There was a distinct pre-occupation with sex when the girl's were 11 years old, and Nora was always uncomfortable just sort of turned on, but she didn't know that's why she felt tingly or giddy or whatever adjective. The sex was subtle and often just talk but Nora's shy thoughts still seemed to make her feel good and she chastised herself for feeling good. It was just strange.

Other than that, which I could overlook, I did enjoy this psychological thriller and will certainly be hunting for more books by Emily Arsenault. (384 pages)


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Book 49 (2011): Shaken

Shaken is the latest installment in the life of Jack Daniels, former copy gone PI.

I like the twist- this story jumps around in flashback- but is very easy to follow- as we read about Jack entering the force, leaving the force, her partner, and about a serial killer (who she called Mr. K) she was chasing and the outcome of of that chase.... will she live or die while her family and friends race against time to find her, and to help her.

Great Jack Daniels... the author is obviously winding down the story of Jack and while she's bounded and gagged after being kidnapped by Mr K and the flashback story is her life passing before her eyes... (304 pages)


Book 48 (2011): The Weird Sisters

The one thing I enjoyed about The Weird Sisters was the awesome and repeated use of everything Shakespeare throughout the novel: quotes, character names, references to plays, conversations that take place in almost solely Shakespeare nuances.

Otherwise, this felt like some traditional chick lit, but the serious sort. Three sisters who are all as different as night and day and don't get along and really don't like each other all that well but love each other no matter what, all end up back at their parents' place when their mother is battling cancer.

They are all grown adults, with their own personal battles to fight but come home to do that and then spar like little children.

And of course we all have a happily ever after in sister-land when they finally make nice after all these years.

Obvious stuff, but the repeated Shakespeare makes it worth turning the pages! Okay... and I thought the cover art and texture was pretty cool, too. (336 pages)


Friday, September 2, 2011

Book 47 (2011): Joy For Beginners

I know this is supposed to be an inspirational story about a woman who beat cancer, and then a profile of all her women friends who helped her during her treatments and surgery. And the story is a good idea but it just seems so overdone. I'm not a fan of Joy for Beginners.

The premise is that Kate survived cancer so she gave each of her women friends a task they must accomplish and she would also do something: white water rafting. Each chapter is the story of one of these women and what they had to do it, how they did it, and then how doing it changed them. Obviously, it's going to have predictable outcome with each women- yeah they did the thing their cancer survivor friend asked because SHE beat cancer so what she told them to do can't be so scary, right? And of course they come out better and happier people.

Blah, blah, blah.

It just didn't speak to me and I wasn't really a fan of the writing style. While there was a thin string of a story that tied all these women together, it really was like reading short stories, and I really didn't feel like there was enough continuity and story flow to call it a novel. (288 pages)