Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

The Peach Keeper follows two girsl, Willa and Paxton living in a small town of Walls of Water, North Carolina. Both girls grew up in town, Willa was the class joker (although she hid it until the very end) and Paxton was miss popularity. Willa's family was once part of the town's elite, however in her grandmother's day they moved out and she was working as a maid in her friends homes. Paxton is living in her parents house doing the social butterfly stuff her mom always wanted and restoring the Blue Ridge Madam, the Jackson family home. Willa owns a small store in town and is trying to fit her life into the box that she thinks her family would find appropriate. Neither woman is happy, then a body is unearthed at the Blue Ridge Madam and both girls find a way to break out of the shell's they are in and about their families pasts.

Just like other books by Sarah Addison Allen you get two watch two wonderful characters fall in love an come into their own. Actually three this time because Paxton's brother Colin also figures himself out.

I really liked getting to see Paxton and Waverly develop a friendship. I also liked hearing Paxton's grandmother tell them the story of her and Georgie's past. She did a good job with it. Sometimes when people tell and don't show in books it can get boring but I found the story just as captivating. (Although I did appreciate getting to be shown it too.)

There was less magic in this book then in previous books. There was also just something about the ambiance of this book that was a little different. The magic floating around was less helpful and a little bit more malicious.

I am something of a geek and I was super excited to see Claire Waverly from Garden Spells make an appearance. Just like every other book by Sarah Addison Allen, I thoroughly enjoyed it and found myself charmed by the characters and locale.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

John has been living on Earth with his Cepan Henri since he was 5 years old. Him and Henri have lived moved all over the United States in an effort to stay hidden. His home planet Lorien was destroyed by the Mogadorians and Alex and eight other children are hidden all across the planet Earth until the powers they are supposed to be developing at puberty make an appearance and they can go after the Mogadorians. The Mogadorians are also on Earth, hunting the nine in number order to get around a protective charm that was placed on the children and to gauge whether or not they can take over the Earth as well. At the opening of the book John has just had to move again and now knows that the first three are dead. They move to a little town called Paradise, Ohio where for the first time John starts making friends.

The best thing this book has going for it is that is action packed. The pace is quick and never stays in one place for long. It's all developing powers, fighting and giant battles. It definitely keeps you entertained.

The background on Lorien and the kind of planet it was and what society was like was interesting. The flashbacks of both the planets destruction and the scraps of John's life were really interesting. I also like learning about how the history of Lorien and the history of Earth have intersected. However I couldn't help but think that some of the things about the planet sounded familiar as if they had been pulled from other stories, books, televisions shows, movies etc.

My other source of contention was the relationship between Sarah and John. It was a sweet relationship, it really was, however we never get to know Sarah. All we know is she's a nice girl and she was on a bad path but straightened herself out via family and photography. Since we don't really get to know her well, it's hard to figure out exactly what it is that John see's in her.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko

I'll admit that my review for this is not as thorough as it could be. Mainly because I read this for work and I know I will most likely have to read it at least two more times before the summer ends.

Al Capone Shines My Shoes is the sequel to Al Capone Does My Shirts, a 2005 Newbery Honor book. Moose is still living on Alcatraz with his family but now his sister Natalie is finally attending a school that will help her. Moose feels the family's group dynamic changing and life feels just a little bit freer now. Unfortunately Moose gets drawn back into trouble again by Piper, the warden's daughter and by the favor he called in from prisoner #85 Al Capone to get Natalie into school. Will Moose go too far in effort to keep everyone happy?

This sequel was a lot of fun, as it was full of action and all the characters I loved from the previous book. Piper is just as much of a pain as ever using what little power she has to get everyone in trouble so she can get her way. This book we get a little more insight into Piper, we find out what makes her tick and why she feels like she needs to have so much power.

We also find out more about what makes Moose tick. Moose spends a lot of the book analyzing the kind of person he is and the what makes his friends tick. He thinks that there is a lot more gray area where the cons are concerned then there actually is. I was on the edge of my seat watching him and his friends deal with the outcomes caused by those feelings.

I did have to laugh a little bit at the appearance of a love triangle in this book. It seems like authors just can't help themselves anymore. I don't want to give any details because I don't want to spoil it for anyone but I definitely know what couple I want to end up together if Moose's adventures on Alcatraz continue.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

I read this right after I finished Mockingjay and I thought it was such a good pick to read after reading such a heavy serious series. It's light and sweet and just what I needed after reading a trilogy that in a lot of ways just scared the crap out of me. Lily's brother thinks she needs a boyfriend, so he sets up a red moleskin with some challenges at the Strand bookstore in NYC (if you haven't been there you should it's awesome.) Dash finds the notebook and takes the challenge. What ensues is a game of dares al over NYC, involving friends and family and an awesome puppet named Snarly. I really really loved Dash, and was kind of disgruntled with Lily which made this book kind of a mixed bag for me. However I loved Lily's family and how they interacted with each other so that balanced out my unhappiness with her character. Dash is a mellow relatable guy. His parents dragged him through an ugly divorce as a kid so he's looking forward to a nice quiet holiday alone. At the beginning of the book Lily just felt like a stereo type and a goody two shoes. She has no real friends at school but is the captain of the soccer team which keeps her from joining the loser pit. Her family is extremely close and she is not taking her parents being in Fiji over Christmas well. There are a ton of very fun and well developed minor characters including Boomer and Sofia on Dash's side and Lily's aunt, brother and cousins. The best parts of the book are watching how all of the characters affect Lily, how they make her become a fuller more developed person. The dares are funny and interesting and I think that are an interesting way to introduce lots of different characters and parts of the city but the best part is still watching Lily grow.