Saturday, August 27, 2011

51. Desert Storm by Logan Forster

I found this book in some of the mom's old books and remember loving it when I read it as a girl.  So I decided to give it another go before giving it to my brother whose name in on the front page.  It was just as fun to read as I remember:  a great story about a boy who rescues an Thoroughbred filly and nurses it back to health so she is able to run in the Santa Anita race.  There were a few things  that struck me as odd that I would never have noticed when I was young.  Both Ponce and Barbara had some very immature moments for fifteen-year-olds; especially when Ponce seems abnormally wise and mature the rest of the time.  Still, I enjoyed this walk down memory lane with an old friend and recommend this book to third or fourth graders.  Rating:  4

50. Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

This book tells the tale of the first fifty-seven years of the Plymouth Colony.  Beginning with William Bradford's conversion to Separatism in England, his journey to Holland and then crossing the Atlantic on the Mayflower, Philbrick delves into some rich history and interesting facts about our forefathers.  I'm amazed at how little I knew about these intrepid travelers.  There was much to admire about these people:  their bravery, determination and spirituality.  There was also bad qualities as well:  racism, narrow-mindedness, and some pretty stupid decisions.  Of course, it is easy to judge the Pilgrims with 20/20 hindsight.  I don't think I had ever heard of King Philip's War and the devastation it caused to both the colonists and the native Americans.  All in all. I found Mayflower to be a fascinating look at this country's early history.  Rating:  4.5

Sunday, August 21, 2011

49. Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

The sequel to Stargirl was just as enjoyable and fun to read.  Stargirl has matured and maybe toned down her outrageous behavior but not much or it would be boring.  After leaving her boyfriend, Leo, in Arizona when her parents move to Pennsylvania with no closure or resolution of their mixed up relationship (WARNING:  run-on sentence), Stargirl is lonely but determined to make the best of her new home.  She once again makes friends with a host of odd characters and has all kinds of fun and heartwarming adventures.  The novel is told in a series of letters that Stargirl writes to Leo over the course of a year but never sends.  You can't help falling in love with her as she is quirky, strong-willed, determined and very human.  It's an especially good novel for young women with a great message.
Rating:  4.5

Monday, August 15, 2011

48. Land of Echoes by Daniel Hecht

This book is a classic ghost story.  Tommy Keeday is attending a boarding school for gifted Navajos when he starts exhibiting all the signs of possession.  Cree Black, a renowned parapsychologist, is called in to investigate.  She soon becomes embroiled in all the drama of a aging beauty queen against the son of her rich ex-husband who died a few years earlier.  So is the ex-husband the ghost or is it Tommy's parents who also died recently?  In order to learn the answers, Cree must get close to the spirit while trying to save Tommy from the practioners of more traditional medicine who want to medicate him and weaken his resistance to the possession.  Normally, I don't like ghost stories or tales of hauntings, let alone possession by a foreign spirit; but this book is very well-written with some intriguing characters, beautiful descriptions of the harsh landscape of New Mexico, and a great study of the Navajo culture. 
Rating:  4.75

Sunday, August 07, 2011

47. Glass House by Jane Haddam

I have always loved the Gregor Demarkian mysteries.  They used to always be named after some holiday, but I guess the author ran out.  I tried reading the one before Glass House but couldn't finish it because it seemed to run on for pages about these far right groups planning some big event.  When I quit, Gregor still had not been introduced into the story.  Fortunately, this book jumps right into the mystery and Gregor's odd life.  He is really is a great character and surrounds himself with very colorful people.  This book involves the serial killings of eleven women.  Gregor is called in by the Philadelphis police because they have picked up an alcholic scion of a Main Line family and want to make sure the charges stick.  It's a very convoluted mystery, but Gregor figures it out quite quickly all while trying to get his own life back in order.  In fact the ending is a bit anticlimatic because it wraps up so quickly.  Still, it was a fun read.  Rating:  4