Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sinner - Maggie Stiefvater

It was Leon, really, who kept me reading.  This poor guy has to drive the returning rock star to the rock star's new gig and the rock star - Mercy Falls fans know that Cole St. Clair is the rock star - keeps asking for Leon's advice and input.  And Leon is so driver-ish-ly polite and even kind.  So for Leon I kept reading.

Because I never read the Mercy Falls books, I didn't know about the passion between Cole and Isabel Culpepper, or the tragedies that befell the Mercy Falls clan.  And I am grateful for Leon because I learned to like and respect Cole and Isabel. 

Here's the story, guys.  I will only take you so far, ok?  Cole is out of rehab.  He has been offered a chance to make a new album - as long as he does it on a reality tv show based in LA.  The band, Narkotika, is defunct.  Jeremy, the bass player, is in LA with a new band.  Mercy Falls readers know what happened to the drummer, Victor, and there's no return from that, alas.

But Cole's real goal is to find and win back Isabel.  Isabel lives in LA with her mother and aunt and cousin, Sophia.  Thanks, Sophia.  I liked YOU a lot, too.

The opening of this book let's you know that there is ACTION, DANGER and DRAMA involved in the book.  The setting of a reality show just pours lighter fluid on the blaze, so to speak.   And through it all, Cole tries to convince Isabel to trust him.  And Isabel tries to remain in control of circumstances that are beyond her reach.

In my opinion, this is not Maggie's best.  But I'm not all that fond of werewolves, either.  However, I am happy and relieved that the book was lively and full of good people behaving pretty ok, mostly, and ordinary people acting like jerks sometimes, and romance and action and love - and minor characters that I wanted to meet in person.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill

Humph! In The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer Blakemore, I did not like Hazel Kaplansky much - at first. She is the smartest person she knows and makes no bones about it.  She is the kind of smart kid that makes other kids - and grown-ups - annoyed.  And she reminded me a lot of....ME!  (And, I was NEVER the smartest person I knew, but I didn't KNOW that.)

 It's 1953.  The Switzer Switch and Safe factory in town has been targeted for investigation into the possibility of Communist infiltration.  Luckily, Hazel's parents run the town cemetery.  But, their new grave-digger, Paul Jones, has all of Hazel's detective senses trembling.  She thinks of him as the Comrade and is this far from proving that he is a Russian spy.

Then Samuel Butler moves into Hazel's fifth-grade class.  Samuel is smart.  And quiet.  And he has secrets.  And he likes cemeteries and research.  Before too long, Hazel has Samuel helping her with her investigation into who the real spy in town is.

1953 was a time of wide-spread distrust, when neighbors eyed each other for signs of disloyalty, a time like....NOW, for instance.  One man used the new media sensation of TV to create panic and spread fear in his need for power and attention.  And 10-year-old Hazel swallows the propaganda whole, even while adults around her warn her to use her brains.

Hazel and Samuel have to put up with the same silly shenanigans that middle graders everywhere have to put up with - snide comments, being judged because of who their parents are or because of where they live.  As investigations into the factory continue, Hazel overhears adults acting just as mean and petty as their children.

Hazel and Samuel uncover secrets, some innocent, some painful and Hazel redeems herself with an act of courage and kindness just when Samuel needs her most.

Add this to the growing list of fine historical fiction from an author who gets better with each effort.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Mark of the Dragonfly

The Mark of the Dragonfly

I am just about finished with this book and it is rushing to its conclusion like a, pardon me if you've read the book, run-away train.  I hope Jaleigh Johnson has ever intention of writing more about Piper, Anna, Trimble, Jeyne, and green-eyed Gee.  The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson.

Piper is an orphan in the Meteor fields of Merrick (spelling?), the northern kingdom.  Her father recently died while working at King Aron's factories in Dragonfly territory to the south.  Piper can fix any machine that her fellow scrappers can find after a meteor shower.

In an attempt to find a missing friend, Piper finds a strange caravan and a frightened, confused girl who bears the mark of the Dragonfly.  She is protected by King Aron.

Anna, the girl, remembers very little.  When a strange man arrives to claim Anna, Piper decides to take Anna to the southern capital of Noveen on the 4-0-1, a cargo train.  There they meet the rest of the heroes of this book and there they embark on a series of increasingly hair-raising adventures.

Enough, I have about 70 pages to go and things just got even more hairy!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Gollywhopper Games

I subscribe to Bookperk, a splendid e-newsletter that offers ebooks for prices between free and $4.99.  These are mostly books written for adults, sigh.  But every now and then, an awesome kids' book is offered.

I think that's where I purchased The Gollywhopper Games  by Jody Feldman.   If you enjoy books that revolve around puzzles, this book is for you.  I read Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein and enjoyed it.  The Gollywhopper Games is every bit as good, in my opinion.

One of the things going for Gollywhopper is that the games truly resemble reality games from TV.  Adults are monitoring every step of the way and they intervene when necessary - which only happens once.

Another thing that I enjoyed is that the book's backstory adds tension to the games.  Gil's father once worked for Golly Toy Company and left under accusations of embezzlement.  He was found innocent but his son's life has been very unpleasant ever since.

When Gil qualifies for the games and then passes the first two tests, the Golly Toy Company's president tries to get Gill to drop out.  He offers to pay Gil off! 

Gil's fellow contestants fall into typical kid lit stereotypes; the airhead beauty who just wants to be on TV; the rich kid whose parents spent thousands of dollars to ensure his place in the games; one of Gil's schoolmates who is an athlete and a hothead; and the quiet studious genius.  These are the final five players who must work together as a team and then against each other.  But each player gets a chance to shine.  I liked that a lot.

The puzzles and challenges are fun and well-described as well.

Up until now, I have felt that I don't visualize as well when I read an ebook as I do when I read a paper book.  After reading The Gollywhopper Games, I think that perhaps it is the book itself that causes the problem.  I had no problem visualizing the colorful toy factory, the hallways, or the games.

The Golly Toy Company finds out who embezzled that money.  Gil learns a lot about himself and so do his fellow contestants.  This is a book I might even read again.  High praise from me.

PS.  It appears that the world is demanding another set of Gollywhopper Games and the Golly Toy Company aims to please its customers.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Where I have been

I met Philip Gulley at Book Expo.  He is so warm and F(f)riendly. AND I got his new book.  It seems that Sam got "released" from his Friends Meeting in Harmony for standing in for the Unitarian minister for awhile.  I can't wait to read that one.

 I think I will avoid BookCon in the future.  It WAS awesome.  John Green spoke and the crowd waiting for him acted like they were waiting to see the Beatles - except most of them only have a vague notion of who the Beatles were.

Another thing about Book Con that was wonderful was the HUGE number - HUGE! - of younger readers on the floor.  What a great marketing idea!  Give your best now-and-potential customers access to their favorite authors?  Feed the future, publisher-folk.

So, maybe?  I might change my mind about BookCon.  The energy was amazing.   However, the Saturday crowd is always bigger.  The lines to meet authors were extremely long.  And I left my schedule of events on the BUS!!!  I will write my must-see events on my skin next time.

Well, I just remembered that I have MUCH to do today and time is fugit-ing.

Be well.  Read.