Thursday, October 26, 2006

Maximum Ride School’s Out—Forever

James Patterson has written a sequel to The Angel Experiment. You really need to have read the first book to understand what is happening in this second one. The short chapters make the reading very fast, as does the excitement that the author builds. The end of the book will make you want to know what is going to happen in the next book.

Max and her friends are searching for their parents and they continue to run from Jeb and the Erasers. Fang is injured in an encounter with the Erasers and he is taken to a hospital where his uniqueness is discovered. An FBI agent, Anne, takes in the children. They lead a “normal” life on Anne’s farm and even go to school. Max senses that something is not right and wants to move on.

Read an excerpt.

Crooked River

When I am looking to read a book that I am sure to find enjoyable, I always turn to historical fiction. Crooked River by Shelley Pearsall is one of those books that I find to be wonderful.

The year is 1812, Rebecca Carver and her sister Laura are responsible for all the “womanly” chores in their home since the death of their mother three years earlier. As you read you will see that the people who lived on the frontier were often ignorant of different cultures (i.e. Native American-Ojibwe) and fearful, but they were also very brave to survive on the frontier.

It is interesting the way that Amik’s(the Ojibwe prisoner) comments are written in verse format. He is accused of murder and most of the settlers assume his guilt without question. Rebecca and Laura see another side and get to know Amik by sharing gifts, not words.

This novel reminds us of the injustices that were visited on Native Americans. It is good in our current climate to be aware that more than once in American history groups have been subjected to discrimination. I am not sure that it is impossible for the same thing to happen again.

Poison Ivy 3 bullies, 2 boyfriends, 1 trial

In this novel by Amy Koss, three popular girls go on trial in a government class for their bullying of a classmate, Ivy. The structure of this book is interesting in that there are 8 narrators each giving you their version of an event. Koss says she feels that each of her characters wants to speak for themselves.

As you read this book, you may see some people you know. My favorite character is Marco.

The Wright 3

I picked up the first novel, Chasing Vermeer, because one of my daughters is a graduate of the University of Chicago. I thought the book was a wonderful mystery, and I had a personal connection with the setting. When I saw this second book, I was drawn to it because of the location and because of my interest in Frank Lloyd Wright and his architecture. That interest began a number of years ago when the seventh grade class took their first field trip to Springfield and we decided to visit the Dana-Thomas House – another Frank Lloyd Wright creation.

This novel has clues in pictures, codes, and art crimes similar to Chasing Vermeer. I really think I liked it just as well as the first book and maybe more. The premise of this novel is that the Robie House (a Wright construction from1910) is to be dismantled and given to four museums because it is in such great need of repair. Petra, Calder, and Tommy all work to try to save the house. The author shows the reader some of the rivalries that exist among friends.

Remember that this is a novel and not true. Currently the Robie House is being restored to its original splendor. You can visit this house and take a tour. It is located 5757 South Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago. For more information on tours of this home, visit the website.

For more information on Frank Lloyd Wright, visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust

Monday, October 09, 2006

Here Lies the Librarian

I suppose it is obvious what would draw me to read this latest book by Richard Peck – and no, it isn’t only that I am a fan of the author.

Some have suggested that Richard Peck has carved out a mini-genre for himself, rural Midwestern early 20th century comedy. Maybe that is what I enjoy about these novels – not that I was part of the early 20th century, but that I find a familiarity in many of his characters and his humor.

After a tornado swept through the area, Peewee and Jake found some bodies from the Beulahland cemetery had been unearthed. Peewee, Eleanor, went to check on Mama’s grave. After finding everything okay, she turned to see Electra Dietz’s headstone

After Years of Service,
Tried And True,
Heaven Stamped Her—

This is just the beginning of a rousing tale which takes all kinds of twists and turn for the characters which include three wealthy Library Science coeds from Butler University who bring the library back to the township and change to the lives of Jake and Eleanor McGrath (brother and sister). There is also the Colonel who thinks he is still fighting in the Civil War and Aunt Hat who is eccentric to say the least. Jake and Peewee scrape out a living in rural Indiana by repairing motorcars, which are still considered “newfangled”.


This novel by Joseph Bruchac is not the cowboy and Indians battles you may have been hoping for, rather this is a well researched story of the man Geronimo, as seen through the eyes of his honorary grandson “Little Feet.”

Geronimo (meaning “One Who Yawns”) was a clever warrior and leader of a group of Chiricahua Apaches who fought both Mexican and U.S. troops. He finally surrendered to the U.S. Army General Nelson A. Miles. This is where Bruchac’s story begins.

The novel reads more like non-fiction than fiction, and it is not for those looking for sheer enjoyment in reading. The book should cause you to think about the Native Americans who were forced to give up their ways of life to satisfy those who belonged to another culture. The author has tried to dispel many of the false stories that abound about this Apache warrior.

For more information on Geronimo visit From Revolution to Reconstruction

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Tending to Grace

“Inside, where nobody can see, I’m glorious with the colors of the girl I wish I could be.”

This is a first novel by Kimberly Newton Fusco. Cornelia is 15-years-old and she has struggled in school because she stutters. She loves to read and has read many classic novels. Cornelia has always had to take care of her mother, Lenore, and that has been how she felt useful. She called it her fix-up project. Her mother and her boyfriend are running off to Las Vegas and dumping Cornelia with Aunt Agatha who Cornelia has never met. The house is a disaster and it doesn’t bother Agatha. There is no phone and no indoor toilet. Cornelia struggles to adjust to living in this place. She is always hoping that her mother will come back to get her.
Living with Agatha, Cornelia finally learns to accept herself. Both of the characters learn to love and depend on each other.

The chapters in this book are very short, and it is a book that you don’t want to end.

Montmorency and the Assassins

This is the third in the series by Eleanor Updale, and it has been 20 years since the main character crawled out of the sewers and left his criminal ego, Scarper, to become a gentleman. Many of the characters from the other books are also found in this installment, including Lord George Fox-Selwyn and Dr. Robert Farcett.

The adventure takes place at the end of the 19th century when there is an influenza sweeping the globe. Montmorency and Fox-Selwyn have been hired to trace some specimens stolen from a reclusive naturalist. This leads them to Florence and ultimately into the dangerous world of anarchist conspirators. The author will introduce you to some new characters who were real people like Gaeteano Bresci, the anarchist who killed the King of Italy; Puccini, an operatic composer; and Thomas Edison; and some like Fox-Selwyn nephew Francis (Frank) who are not people from history.

The book is exciting and brings up points of view from both sides of many questions. I think that you could read this book without having read the first two.