Thursday, February 23, 2012

Unbreak my heart

I just finished my second book by Melina Marchetta, Finnikin of the Rock. And if Finnikin and The Piper's Son are any indication, Marchetta knows how exactly how to break my heart and put it back together all at the same time. Part of it is her ability to make me feel -- I connect with these characters, even when I want to smack them upside the head for their stubborness. Part of it is the way she writes relationships -- family love, friend love, romantic love. The relationships in Marchetta's books are real and good and hard and flawed. And Marchetta writes about hope. If there is one thing that will predispose me to liking a book, it's hope in the midst of sadness and despair. Bottom line: count me a fan.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review - Texas Gothic

Texas Gothic, by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Texas Gothic is a classic mystery with a paranormal twist. Amy and her sister Phin come from a family of witches and psychics, although Amy would prefer to keep that part of her life hidden. The two are spending the summer taking care of their aunt's herb farm in the middle of the Texas hill country, and at first, all Amy has to worry about are the tree-climbing goats are her sister's experiments. Soon, however, Amy is caught up in a conflict with (extremely attractive) owner of the neighboring ranch; rumors of ghosts; actual accidents and injuries; and a personal haunting by a spirit who may want to help her or hurt her.

I really enjoyed Texas Gothic. I liked the blending of traditional mystery with ghost story, and I thought the pacing felt right on. Although the resolution of the mystery wasn't anything groundbreaking, the "getting there" was interesting enough that I didn't need a big shocking ending. I enjoyed watching Amy struggle with the part of her life that she wanted to pretend didn't exist, and grow as a result of that struggle. I liked that the romantic part of the story fit in well with the rest of the plot and didn't overshadow it or seem like an afterthought; the antagonism and attraction between Amy and Ben felt natural. And it was nice to visit Texas!

Bottom line: a great read for anyone who enjoys mystery with a side of paranormal activity.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mini Reviews

Lola and the Boy Next Door, by Stephanie Perkins is a delightful contemporary YA romance. The characters are fun, quirky without being overdone, and believable. The romance is believable, sweet but also pretty sizzling. I enjoyed visiting San Fransicso through the book -- it felt like visiting with a local, not a tourist. And the story never left me bored or skimming to get to the "good parts." It was all good parts! I liked Perkins' first book Anna and the French Kiss, but actually enjoyed Lola even more. Bottom line - a feel-good rom-com with plenty of heart and emotion.

The Piper's Son, by Melinda Marchetta is a great story of redemption and family and love in many forms. From a somewhat superficial standpoint, I liked that it was a YA book featuring post-high school young adults. People navigating life "after." I also liked that the primary secondary character (is that a thing?) was Tom's aunt -- an adult! Who isn't a stock character or plot device! Bottom line - this book has so many things I love: humor, depth, heart, love, redemption, and an ending that's just a beginning.

Room with a View, by E.M. Forster proved to be a comfort-food read along the lines of Jane Austen or L.M. Montgomery. Quiet and thoughtful, yet witty and full of keen human observation. Philosophical but unpretentious. The story moved along and kept you wanting to know what would happen, but it didn't rush. The cast of characters may have been a bit expected -- the conventional mother, the whimsical brother, the maiden aunt, the "vulgar" old country man, the pretentions Londonite, the stuffy clergyman and the kind clergyman -- but rather than fell cliche, they just felt familier, like old friends. And the love story truly resonated. As a bonus - Florence! I'm predisposed to love anything featuring Italy, and Forster didn't dissapoint. Bottom line - it's a classic for a reason.