Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Gilda Joyce: The Ladies of the Lake by Jennifer Allison

This is the sequel to Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator, which is an excellent book. In this book, Gilda changes schools to attend a private school, Our Lady of Sorrows, which her mother's despicable boyfriend Brad gets her a scholarship to. The only reason Gilda wants to go to the school is so that she can solve the mystery of the haunting of the school by the ghost of a student who died by falling through the ice of the lake. Gilda is willing to put up with having to wear a uniform instead of her trademark outfits including such off-beat items as a leopard-print jacket and stilleto heels, and being separated from her best friend Wendy, in order to delve deeper into the bizarre atmosphere and secrets of her new school. Gilda must also deal with her mother's increasingly serious relationship with her boyfriend, and she misses her dad; she writes him letters keeping him up on her investigations and life at home. I liked this book just as much as the first one. It manages to be funny, even though it deals with the serious issue of hazing. Review by Stacy Church

Friday, November 10, 2006

Things Hoped For by Andrew Clements

I was so excited when I saw this book. I loved Things Not Seen and was eager to see what had become of that book's main character, Bobby. In this book, Bobby (now Robert) is a musician staying in New York City while he auditions for college. There he meets Gwen, a violinist living with her grandfather while she attends music school and prepares for her own college auditions. Gwen loves her grandfather, but feels that she doesn't really know him very well. One day, after overhearing a heated argument between him and his younger brother, Gwen returns home to a mysterious message on the answering machine. It seems that her grandfather has gone away for a while, under mysterious circumstances. Gwen feels torn between her desire to achieve her dream of becoming a concert musician and her need to find out what has happened to her grandfather. As she befriends Robert, he becomes involved in unravelling the mystery. A creepy stranger who is tied to Robert's past adds to the suspense. This is a quick and very satisfying story with some unexpected twists. Review by Jane Malmberg.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy compiled and edited by Leonard S. Marcus

This is a fun book to look through. Some of my favorite fantasy authors are included: Susan Cooper, Nancy Farmer, Philip Pullman, Garth Nix. I don't think the cover is very attractive, but inside the layout is nice, and there are current pictures of the authors and pictures of them when they were growing up. The editor asked each author the same set of questions, which makes for some interesting comparisons, but also can get boring if you read too many interviews at once! Not surprisingly, most of the authors were great readers when they were younger, but some came from families where no one ever read a book. Some were good in school, some weren't. Several are dyslexic. A couple were born the same year that I was, and unfortunately, one not very attractive picture of an author as a girl looks an awful lot like an old picture of me! Review by Stacy Church

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Manny Files by Christian Burch

This is such a funny book! Keats is the only boy (besides his father) in a family of girls, so he is thrilled when his new babysitter turns out to be a man who calls himself "The Manny." Keats is a pretty quirky character - he likes to wear button-down shirts and ties - so the Manny's weird behavior is a delight to him. His older sister Lulu, who is at an age where she doesn't want to have attention drawn to her, is less amused by having her bus met by the Manny wearing a sombrero, carrying a portable stereo playing "The Mexican Hat Dance," with his youngest sister in tow, wearing a chihuahua costume. Lulu keeps a journal with all of the Manny's bad behavior chronicled in it, which she plans to use to get the Manny fired. I found it irritating that the author doesn't tell the reader the ages of any of the kids in the book until near the end, but I liked pretty much everything about it. Review by Stacy Church