Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sacre Bleu

Sacre BleuSacre Bleu by Christopher Moore

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I got this as an advance reader's copy and was really excited to start reading it because I have liked several of Moore's previous books. However, I just did not enjoy it. I did force myself to keep going until I'd read 100 pages, in case it got better, but it didn't. The story jumps around a lot, and I had a hard time following that, which was made more difficult by the fact that I don't particularly like any of the characters so far. Theoretically it's supposed to be about Vincent Van Gogh's death and his friends trying to figure out what happened to him. Mostly that isn't what I've read, though. And Moore forgot the funny. (It's billed as a comedy.) *sigh* Oh well.

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Don't Hex with Texas

Don't Hex with Texas (Enchanted, Inc., #4)Don't Hex with Texas by Shanna Swendson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars, actually

Katie Chandler fled New York City four months ago to escape the magical battle that was brewing. However, her tiny little un-magical hometown of Cobb, Texas, is not as lacking in magic as she thought. Strange things are happening, and Katie needs some backup. Pretty soon, the town is a hotbed of magical mysteries she needs to solve, some of which hit a little too close to home.

Book 4 in the Enchanted, Inc. series is just as fast-paced as the first three. In fact, I read this one in one sitting because I simply could NOT put it down until I'd finished it. It's a good thing I did not have to get up early the next morning.

For readers' advisors: story and character doorways. Still no sex or violence or bad language.

There is not yet a published book 5--although Swendson has started it--because the publisher won't publish it until books 3 & 4 start selling better. So please encourage your friends and family to buy copies or make their libraries buy copies--I need to know how the story turns out!!

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Damsel Under Stress

Damsel Under Stress (Enchanted, Inc., #3)Damsel Under Stress by Shanna Swendson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars, really.

Book 3 in the series picks up the day after book 2 ended. I am so glad I didn't read these as they came out because I would not have wanted to wait to read the next one. Damsel Under Stress is just as funny and quirky a cozy-romantic-magical-realism-mystery as the first two. This time Katie has picked up a fairy godmother whose dating help is...not so helpful, and her roommates are starting to suspect Katie is keeping secrets from them. On the bright side, Owen invites her to spend Christmas with his foster parents, and repeated attacks on Katie and/or Owen certainly do keep things interesting! Can they uncover the extent of the conspiracy in time to keep the existence of magic from being revealed to the world? And will they EVER succeed in having a "normal" date?

For readers' advisors: story and character doorways are primary. Setting (New York City) is less important in book 3 than in the first two.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

His Good Opinion: A Mr. Darcy Novel

His Good Opinion: A Mr. Darcy NovelHis Good Opinion: A Mr. Darcy Novel by Nancy Kelley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Way to go, Nancy!! So many Austen spin-offs feel as though the author only glanced through the parent book once or twice, but this one really feels like Darcy is telling his side of the (same) story. The dialogue from scenes where Elizabeth is present is taken directly from Pride and Prejudice, and everything that happens when Elizabeth is offstage still feels like Austen herself might have written it (aside from the modern spellings).

Nancy answers so many of my questions, like, "So how DID the conversations between Darcy and Col. Fitzwilliam go?" Or, "How on earth did Darcy locate Wickham in London?" Or, "What finally convinced Wickham to actually marry Lydia?" Or, "What was Darcy thinking?" (That one applies to many of his scenes in the original, either voiced with curiosity or while shaking head in bafflement.) And I hope someday she considers writing a sequel featuring Col. Fitzwilliam and Georgiana, who are much more three-dimensional characters in this book.

I bought a copy for my mother, and I will be buying one for myself and another for my cousin. To start with. I may hand them out to all my friends next Christmas, too. :)

For readers' advisors: character and story doorways primary, setting secondary

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Once Upon Stilettos

Once Upon Stilettos (Enchanted, Inc., #2)Once Upon Stilettos by Shanna Swendson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars, really

I read the first book in this series, Enchanted, Inc., a couple of years ago, immediately put the rest of the series on my to-read list, and then forgot about them until last week. I'm so glad I ran across them in my list because they are such fun! It's hard to categorize this series because it's got mystery without any murder, romance without sex (at least so far), magic that hovers between "magical realism" and "fantasy," and humor without overt slapstick, etc. They are just FUN. And hard to put down. This one kept me up until after midnight on a work night.

Katie Chandler is a nonmagical person living in New York City, working for a magical company as a Verifier...because she is immune to magic and can see through illusions, survive magical fireballs, and so on. Her boss is Merlin (yep, that one), and she has a major crush on a wizard coworker but is dating a lawyer who is also an Immune. Strange things are an everyday occurrence for Katie, but things get even stranger when she's tasked with finding the corporate spy while dealing with her parents' visit, a sudden loss of magical immunity, and a just-as-sudden spike in popularity amongst the opposite sex.

For readers' advisors: story and character doorways, as well as setting (weird things are the norm in Times Square, right?)

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Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor (Friday Harbor, #1)Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I haven't read many of Lisa Kleypas' books thus far, but I think I may have to change that. I really enjoyed this one, and not just because it was set in NW Washington, although that was definitely a bonus. I read this one in one sitting. I liked that there were no "bad guys" in the story--no awful exes or nasty people at all. Just lonely people with baggage trying to do the best they can.

For readers' advisors: story and character doorways, plus setting for those of us who've traveled to or lived in NW Washington. Oh, and only one short sex scene, almost at the end, and it's not very explicit.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Future of Us

The Future of UsThe Future of Us by Jay Asher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's difficult to know how to categorize this book. Is it Time Travel? Magical Realism? Paranormal? Exactly what box should I check to describe a book in which an AOL CD-ROM in 1996 opens an internet portal to Facebook 15 years in the characters' futures?

Since the characters themselves never time travel, and no one has psychic abilities of any kind, I'm electing to put it under "magical realism." Close enough, I suppose.

Josh & Emma have been best friends since they were little kids, but their friendship has been strained most of this school year due to some misread signals in November. Now it's May, and Emma's father has sent her a new computer, for which Josh's mother has given her an AOL CD-ROM. But when Emma boots it up, a strange thing happens: her computer displays this weird website called "Facebook." Is it an elaborate prank? Why are there photos of Emma looking older? And how much DO you really want to know about your future self?

For Readers' Advisors: story and character doorways. Plenty of teen angst. Some swearing. And the audiobook alternates between a male and female narrator reading chapters from Josh and Emma's perspectives.

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Place Called Home

A Place Called HomeA Place Called Home by Jo Goodman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thea Wyndham and Mitch Baker never imagined when they agreed to be guardians for their friends' three children that they would actually have to fulfill those roles. Now these virtual strangers are struggling to figure out how to parent through grief. Thea and Mitch are both in relationships with other people, neither of whom want children permanently in their lives. And Thea's history throws a wrench in the works for everyone.

This one has more character development than the average romance novel, which I appreciated.

For Readers' Advisors: character and story doorways, but be aware that there are some fairly detailed & steamy sex scenes in this one.

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It Takes a Witch

It Takes a Witch (A Wishcraft Mystery, #1)It Takes a Witch by Heather Blake

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Darcy and Harper Merriweather grew up not knowing they were actually Wishcrafters--witches who grant wishes. Now they live with their Aunt Velma and are learning the family business, only things get a little tense when Aunt Ve's beau is accused of using Ve's scarf to murder a wannabe witch in an alley.

I love finding a fun new series to read! This one fills that bill and promises hints of romance and complications to come.

For Readers' Advisors: story and character doorways are primary

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Last Dragonslayer

The Last DragonslayerThe Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fifteen-year-old Jennifer Strange is a foundling, raised by the Sisterhood (officially "The Blessed Ladies of the Lobster") and serving out her indentured servitude as the acting manager of Kazam Mystical Arts Management, an organization of kooky wizards who do magic for hire. Magic has been steadily fading lately, however, and business is bad. And then one day there is a widespread premonition that Maltcassion, the last dragon, will be killed by the last Dragonslayer on Sunday at noon. Big Magic is coming, war is imminent...and Jennifer is right at the center of it.

Fans of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series will recognize his wacky sense of humor--just dive right in and go with it! The setting is again an alternate reality Britain, albeit a different version this time. Great fun for both teens and adults.

For readers' advisors: Setting and story doorways

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