Friday, July 22, 2016

Peeled review

by Joan Bauer
Putnam Juvenile
May 2008

First line: "DATELINE: Banesville, NY, May 3rd. Bonnie Sue Bomgartner, Banesville's soon-to-be 67th Apple Blossom Queen, let loose a stream of projectile vomiting in the high school cafeteria."

Sixteen year-old Hildy Biddle dreams of being a stellar journalist. She's the star writer for her high school newspaper in the small, sleepy farming town of Banesville, NY. I must admit I very nearly put this book in my "Did Not Finish" pile in the first few pages. The book opens with a prolonged description of the Apple Valley Pageant Queen vomiting, which went on for far too long and with far too much detail. That, plus the fast-paced, noir-inspired, witty banter that Hildy uses initially felt a bit forced - she was trying too hard to sound like Sam Spade. But, I stuck with it, and things picked up from there.

Hildy reminded me a lot of Veronica Mars... bold, inquisitive and skeptical, and fairly negative on the whole idea of dating. Ever since the recent death of her father, also a reporter, she's been living with her mother and cousin and grandparents.

The local paper, The Bee, starts printing more and more outrageous stories, claiming there's a ghost haunting the old Ludlow place, creating fear and panic in the town. With the help of her experienced newsman mentor Baker Polton, she sleuths out the clues that lead to the real reason behind the hauntings. When the school shuts down the school paper, The Core, she and her friends start a rebel sheet called The Peel.

This is basically the same plot of every episode Scooby-Doo, ever:
"You mean the editor of The Bee faked all the ghost sightings to lower property values in town so he could build a new development?"
"And we would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!"

This was a fast-paced enjoyable read, a solid pick for younger teens, and the perfect book for YA readers looking for non-fantasy realistic fiction without too much emphasis on romance. I'd actually recommend this as a great introduction to Joan Bauer. If readers like this, they'll love the much-stronger Hope Was Here.

Compare to:
Hope Was Here - Joan Bauer
Famous Last Words - Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Inside the Shadow City (Kiki Strike #1) - Kirsten Miller

I borrowed this book from the library.

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Trio of Adult Fiction

I don't normally read very much adult fiction, but I've been trying some out lately.
Here's a group of three mini-reviews from the last couple of books I just flew through.

Life Before Death
by Abby Frucht
Scribner Book Company
July 1997

What a depressing book! Isobel discovers a lump on her breast, and in an alternate universes either recovers completely and helps her friend raise two Mexican orphans she impulsively adopts or the cancer worsens and she struggles as her health worsens and she finally succumbs to the disease. A heartbreaking look at infertility, adoption and childlessness, and the painful transitions of being born/giving birth and dying. I enjoyed My Real Children by Jo Walton much more, for it's slightly more sci-fi feel and more uplifting look at how different choices can create completely different life paths.

I borrowed this book from the library.

This Body
by Laurel Doud
Little, Brown & Co.
September 2009

I kept looking for a reason why the magic works exactly the way it did. This had more of a literary fiction feel - Katharine has a heart attack, and for reasons no one can understand, she awakes in the body of a 20-something drug addict, Thisby. She immediately sets to getting Thisby (herself?) cleaned up. Ultimately, this slow-paced book concentrated the bulk of the story on Katharine's wonderment at her situation, especially being in a new, younger, stronger body. Readers may wonder if "Katharine" is just a drug-fueled dream of Thisby's, but Katharine does hunt up her own teen children (never revealing her true identity, of course) and eventually comes to terms with the fact that she will be living out the rest of her life as someone else.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Lily and the Octopus
by Steven Rowley
Simon & Schuster
June 2016

I have a confession to make: I am not a dog person. Also, I have never been a sucker for a book where the dog dies. This book though, is a heart-breaker! Quite against my will, I found myself being utterly charmed by silly, cute, lovable Lily. Her owner Ted, is a single gay man and he lavishes all of his attention on her as if she was his own child and dorky best friend rolled into one. You know what happens! Of course, the "octopus" is a tumor threatening Lily's life, robbing her energy and her life, and yup, you'd need a heart of stone to resist crying at Lily and Ted's inevitable goodbye.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Read in June

Last month I read the following:

1. Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-up Bubble - Dan Lyons
2. Life Before Death - Abby Frucht
3. Lily and the Octopus - Steven Rowley
4. This Body - Laurel Dowd

picture credit:  Portrait of Lucie Reading by Jacques Emile Blanche, 1890

Friday, July 1, 2016

Happy Fourth!

Happy Fourth of July, everybody!


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