Sunday, August 13, 2006

Time for Just Four Books This Weekend...

Sammy Keyes and the Dead Giveaway
Sammy has apeared on my lists before -- I admire her tough girl exterior and her willingness to get involved in situations that she would probably be better off not getting into. I thought I was caught up on the series and then I spotted this installment at the library! An 8th grader now, Sammy's love life is beginning to unfold into the plotlines, and her long-standing feud with Heather takes a strange turn this time around. I was struck by Van Draanen's inclusion of opinions on politics and religion in this outing and by the rather gruesome resolution to the title's mystery. Still and all, I love Sammy and will read on as long as the series continues.

A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life
I enjoyed the voice of Simone in Dana Reinhardt's novel very much. Her self-reflection and internal confusion rang true to me throughout most of the story. I liked the peripheral friends for the most part, and the parents and the younger brother. I liked the parents and Rivka backstory and Simone's ensuing meeting with her birth mom and her introduction to Jewish life. I was not keen on the author's "Rivka must die" decision, and I think the boyfriend (though straight out of EVERY schoolgirl's dreams) was a bit too perfect. Nonetheless, I am glad I spent a portion of my limited reading time this weekend sharing Simone's journey.

Dead Connection
I am a bit more begruding of the time spent with Charlie Price's book. Though I was ready to accept Murray's communications with the dead, and even to see that entwine with the tale of the missing girl, I did not think the conversations in the book felt real. I got tired of the back stories of the rather one-dimensional adults in the book. I grew weary of the many "problem issues" stuffed in at the edges of the characters' lives. I like a good mystery with a twist -- this just didn't turn out to be one of those...

Blood Red Horse
Always wanted to read this book. Loved the cover, loved the jacket copy, loved the early reviews. And I did enjoy it - probably the most of any of the novels of the weekend. The difficult relationships between the two brothers and the young girl taken in by their family were fleshed out and agonizingly real. The backdrop of the Crusades Era was fascinating. The addition of characters from the OTHER side of the Crusades was stunning. And of course, there is that glorious and noble Blood Red Horse.... an altogether satisfying story - war, romance, true friendship, history, religion, miracles.... this book has it all.

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