Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

book cover from LibraryThing
I was ready for an adult book after so many YA titles and this one didn't disappoint me! I loved it!  yes - it's full of cliches and stereotypes - but I found that comforting and enjoyable!

The story follows three sisters all migrating back to their family home for different reasons - but there to help their mother as she faces breast cancer.  Well, they claim they are there for their mother.  But...

Rose (Rosalind) is the oldest and a math professor at a nearby college. She is the classic oldest - in charge of her own life and every other person around her.  She lives at home with mom and dad ( a professor of Shakespeare at another college) and picks up the slack as mom gets distracted and dad lives in the the literary world of his beloved Shakespeare.  She is engaged and her beau has taken a year visiting professorship in England.  Duties and responsibilities are keeping Rose grounded at home.

Then there is Bean (Bianca) who has fled home to the bright lights of New York, only to slink home broke and disgraced. Bean knows how to use her body to get what she wants - she is manipulative and selfish and focused.  She also is deeply in hate with herself and trapped in her destructive ways.

Lastly, there is the baby Cordy (Cordelia).  She has been on a several year tour of the US - following bands and homeless and living the life of the sixties hippies decades too late.  She is drawn home by an un-expected pregnancy.  And steps in not explaining or making excuses.

Mom and dad are slight characters - they are important to the story - but they aren't the story.

Rather it is the sisters and the way the move between what their stereotype says and way they want to be. This is a feel good family book - all works out the way it's supposed to... that was exactly the kind of story I was looking for!

I have two sisters and kept wondering if we fit in the same molds.
I don't think so... but I liked wondering.

Read it.

The Summons by John Grisham

cover image by LibraryThing
We have a tradition in our family  - when we go on a road trip I choose a book to read aloud to my husband. It makes the time go quickly and doesn't bother my daughters watching movies in the back seat. This year our trip took us on a 12 hour road trip to Colorado and The Summons was perfect for that. It had just enough details to keep our attention but not bury us and not too many characters.  We have read many Grisham's over the years and some how we missed this one.

In the opening scenes retired Mississippi Judge Atlee summons his two sons to a meeting.  He is then found dead by his son Ray, the law professor from up north in Virginia.  While waiting for his delinquent brother Forrest to show up at the house Ray stumbles on boxes of cash in an old bookshelf - lots of cash - three million dollars of cash.

And with that Ray's organized world disintegrates.  How can his straight laced, law abiding, pig headed father have so much cash and never mention it?  And what in the world was he supposed to do with it? If he turns it over to the police it will disappear to the inheritance taxes.
If he shares it with his brother Forrest will probably kill himself with drugs and alcohol.
If he hides it how will he be able to use it?
And who is that person rattling the windows on his father's deserted house - do they know about the money???

Ray begins a cross-country odyssey carrying the money from hotel room to trunk to storage unit and back again all the while trying to solve the mystery of his father and the cash and who is following him.

All of Grisham's books make you care about the character - but most also have a perfect moral compass. This one doesn't quite.  The money is not Ray's - right?  So what would you do?

And at the end I was happily surprised.

This was a great page mile-eating page-turner!!

The Roar and The Whisper by Emma Clayton

Cover image by LibraryThing
I really liked The Roar and was anxious to read the sequel The Whisper. Anxious enough to buy it online and read it on my iPad while at a conference out of state.  But, I was very disappointed!

Let me start back at the beginning again.

The Roar is the story of a horrible world future.  In this world an animal plague was turned loose and pets attacked and killed their owners. In order to keep humanity safe - an enormous wall was built encircling the globe just a little south of England.  All humanity was secured behind the wall and all life outside the wall was destroyed - a vast wasteland.

A very odd thing happened after this event - no children were born for years and the first offspring were born with strange appendages and mutant traits.  Life continues in this horrible concrete pen until the children are 12.  And then...

cover image by LibraryThing
The head of the Youth Development Organization, Mal Gorman, has a new idea - a way to take over the entire remaining world. He must figure out a way to control this children and mold them into his very own army.  The first step is to kidnap Ellie and figure out her special talent of moving things with only her eyes. Ellie disappears and her twin brother Mika is left alone, the only one who believes she is alive.

He continues to believe in her even as weird things begin to happen to him - like a strange dog that appears first in his dreams and then by his side, a feeling that he is connected to Ellie and finally his uncanny ability to fly the new space ships in the local game room.  Those space ships are not only a game - instead they are all part of Gorman's master plan.

That sets the stage...a pair of twins, a kidnapping, a secret and a mad man.  It seems like a perfect plot. And honestly throughout The Roar I agreed.  I rooted for the kids and their friends as the evil plot unfolded.

Then I started reading The Whisper.

Honestly - I felt like I was reading a rough draft about a book rather than the actual book. The conversation was stilted and the plot quite predictable.  I was sorely disappointed.

The story does resolve itself - but by the end I just wanted it to be over.
Too bad!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Enchantress by Michael Scott

cover image from LibraryThing
This is the final installment in Nicholas and Pernelle Flamel's adventure to save the world with the help of Sophie and Josh Newman.

And I have to say - I really liked it.
It is a hard thing to finish off a series you have built over years.  I have read final installments that left me frustrated and empty and wanting more.

This wasn't that way.  There was just enough detail to keep me until the end. But, in the spirit of the series - I really don't understand it all.  I LOVE that!

I also love the old enemies became allies to fight a bigger enemy.  That some of the characters didn't make it - and some did.


My only complaint is that it's really hard to pick up a series a year after you have read the others.  All the new readers are at a huge advantage - they can read these back to back. I know I lost details and understandings because I just didn't remember all the past details.

100 Cupboards Series by H. D. Wilson

image by BAS
Another interesting series...and I am a sucker for good series! The first book-100 Cupboards was an Iowa Children's Choice Book for 2011. It was recommended to me by my sister, Theresa.

The story circles around Henry York - a young boy raised by very over-protective parents who have just been kidnapped. Henry is on his way to Henry, Kansas to be with his relatives.. That is where everything begins.

Henry notices a spot in his attic bedroom where the plaster seems to be pulling away from the wall, so he picks at it a little and discovers a cupboard with a yellow glow inside.  When he gets really close he notices movement and...a postman???

That is where the discovery begins.  After several nights of chipping away the plaster covering there are 99 cupboards - each locked up tight...and now what is he supposed to do?

As he is trying to figure it out his cousin Henrietta also finds the cupboards. She isn't quite as hesitant and is drawn to a dark and creepy cupboard way down on the floor level. When Henry isn't looking she decides to check it out a little more carefully and what she unleashes is an ancient and entrapped evil.

It takes Henry, his uncle Frank and his long entrapped father two more books to set evil back in its place
And lets see - what else is in those cupboards?

  • a mailbox that delivers letters from an organization of fairies who are not happy with Henry
  • Baden Hill  - a peaceful island with an ancient tree and a huge stone slab that draws Henry and fills him with peace
  • an empty shell of a ballroom haunted by ghosts frozen in time on the night of an ancient betrayal
  • an ocean going slave ship slowly rowing across a long lost sea
  • a very odd cupboard that seems to bring you back to the place you started.

But, what was this place?  Where and when were these places?  And who were Henry's guides - who were his real parents?  Was she really related to Uncle Frank and Henrietta?  And why was Henry drawn to Baden Hill - to the breeze, to the tree, to a skeleton of a huge dog.

The books are about a boy seeking his past while he finds his place in the present.  I really like Henry. I liked that he got sick at times of stress, that he loved his adoptive parents even when he knew that just didn't quite feel right.  He made friends with Fat Frank the fairy and even tried to save the ever annoying Richard.

But my favorite part his power source - in this alternate world his family drew power from sources of nature and linked in to the power and energy of the natural force.  Henry's was a dandelion. This little unnoticed weed was capable of regenerating and conquering the mightiest oak and aspen.  Through the dandelion and it's power Henry found his identity and his strength.  What a great symbol for our kids who sometimes feel as ignored as a dandelion!

Highly Recommended!