Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sweet Treats & Secret Crushes by Lisa Greenwald

sweetI kept wanting to like this book as a nice, light read, but in the end I really couldn’t.  First of all, the story is told in three voices by best friends Olivia, Kate and Georgia, and there was so little to distinguish the characters of the three girls that I really couldn’t tell which one was talking at any given time.  The idea for the story is cute enough:  3 best friends confined to their big apartment building on a snow day, which happens to fall on Valentine’s Day, ruining each of their secret plans involving the boys they have crushes on.  Georgia’s parents own a Chinese restaurant on the main floor of the building, so the girls spend the day learning how to make fortune cookies (with their own made-up fortunes inside) and going around the building giving them out to the people who live there.  The girls fight, they make up, they fight, they make up.  They meet their crushes, they like them, they don’t like them.  If you’re just looking to pass a little time, this book will do the trick, otherwise there are plenty of other fun books to read instead.  Review by Stacy Church

Season of Secrets by Sally Nicholls

seasonI couldn’t wait to read this new book by the author of one of my favorite books, Ways To Live Forever (see bookbits January 25, 2009).  Things are tough for Molly and her older sister Hannah.  Since their mother died, their father hasn’t been able to take care of them, so they’ve come to live with their grandparents in the tiny apartment over their poky little country store in a small town outside of London.  Their dad comes to see them, but Hannah is so angry she usually drives him away.  She does her best to drive everyone away, including Molly.  There’s not much solace at their new school either, which is so tiny that all ages of kids are together in one room, and there’s only one other girl Molly’s age. I guess Molly has told tales at home before, because when she tries to tell everyone about the man she saw being hunted on the lane on the dark, rainy night Hannah tries to get her to run away from their grandparents’, no one believes her.  Then she sees a statue at the church that looks just like her man, “…face made of stone.  A man.  He’s got big eyes and a long, thick nose.  There are leaves sticking out of his face and his hair.  He looks bright and wild, like an old god or a goblin in a fairy tale.  He doesn’t look like he ought to be allowed in a church.  It’s the hunted man.”  It’s hard to know what’s real in this book, but Hannah does finally see him, too, and another kind of hunt ensues to try to save him.  Later Molly realizes that things aren’t always so clear-cut, when she sees her hunted man become the hunter.  This book is beautifully written, and I love the blurring of realistic fiction with fantasy.  Review by Stacy Church

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

tale darkIf you aren’t yet in fifth grade –DO NOT OPEN THIS BOOK!  If you have never read any of the grim “Grimm’s Folk Tales,” maybe you should not read this book.  The author of A Tale Dark & Grimm warns repeatedly that this book is bloody, scary, and not for the faint of heart.  The main characters, Hansel and Gretel, weave in and out of the most gruesome of the Grimm’s folk tales.  Mr. Gidwitz describes unbelievable places and scenes of horror in detail, and warns you continuously that worse is yet to come, while he dares you to read on.  Some of the things that happen to Hansel and Gretel are so gross you know right away that they couldn’t possibly have happened.  Sometimes the author lets you in on the secret that what is happening to Hansel and Gretel is all an illusion, but, is it?  To find out, you have to read this book!  Review by Trudy Walsh

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Truth with a Capital T by Bethany Hegedus

truthTwo things I don’t like about this book:

The cover, which almost kept me from picking it up.

The Little-Known Facts at the beginning of each chapter, which then lead to corny statements from Maebelle about her life as it relates to the little-known fact.

Things I do like about the book:

Great characters, great story, great historical background

The writing is a little clunky, and a little too folksy for my taste, but it’s definitely worth reading.  Maebelle gets to travel to Tweedle, GA (if the cutsey name puts you off, this book is not for you) to spend the summer with her beloved grandparents, newly retired from the country music circuit, while her parents go on a tour to promote their new book.  What she didn’t know is that she has to share them with her newly adopted cousin Isaac.  She takes things out on him a bit (including throwing a dirty, stinky diarrhea diaper into his clothes hamper in the middle of the night), but of course teams up with him to solve the mystery of the locked wing of the family home, which may hide secrets from the slave era. Review by Stacy Church