Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Silence of Murder

The Silence of Murder
By Dandi Daley Mackall
Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. 327 pgs. Teen fiction

Jeremy Long has always been odd. He collects empty jars and hasn't spoken in nearly a decade. But his sister Hope knows that even if some of his actions seem odd, Jeremy isn't crazy. And he certainly isn't a murderer. And yet, he's on trial for murder, and Hope is the only one who believes he's innocent. Determined to prove his innocence, Hope frantically searches for other possible suspects, even as someone is trying to keep her from investigation. As her world is crumbling, Hope finds friendship where she least expected it--with the handsome, popular Chase Wells, son of the local sheriff.

I highly enjoyed this book; I liked the mystery aspect of it, particularly the twist at the end, but the way the characters and relationships were developed is what made it shine. Hope's voice is pitch perfect; her love for her brother is beautifully portrayed without becoming sappy. This is an excellent choice for anyone who is looking for a realistic fiction title.

As an amusing side note, I actually wasn't sure whether or not to read this book; I'm pretty busy right now and needed to return some books to the library without reading them. So...I read the ending to see if I thought I'd like it. I liked the twist, but I also thought maybe I could just skim through the book, rather than reading the whole thing. But then I read a little more of the ending, and realized that there was much more going on that just the twist, so I read the whole book, and yes, even knowing the ending, I really enjoyed the book. I'm definitely glad I didn't return it to the library without reading it.

4.5 stars. There might be a little language (which I clearly didn't notice if it is there, since I can't even remember for sure if it was in there), but otherwise, it's a clean read.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Past Perfect

Past Perfect
By Leila Sales
Simon Pulse, 2011. 303 pgs. Teen fiction

For pretty much her entire life, Chelsea has worked at Essex Historical Colonial Village, where she has to dress and act like she lives in colonial times. Although she has at least somewhat enjoyed it in the past, this year, things aren't going so well. For starters, her ex-boyfriend, whom she still has feelings for, has gotten a job there as well. And, every year the teens who work at Essex and those who work at the nearby (as in, across the street) Civil War Reenactment place have an after-hours War, with pranks and such that have a tendency to get a little out of control. Chelsea is supposed to be one of the leaders of Essex's war effort, but that gets a little complicated when she starts to maybe fall for one of the Civil Warriors, which is a definite no-no.

I felt like the War was a little bit over the top (maybe just because I wouldn't invest that much time or energy in that type of pranking) and some of the secondary characters were a little too flat--and annoying--but other than that, I really liked the book. Chelsea was a good narrator, and the historical reenactment theme was a fun twist. There's some language and a little making out (side tangent: it seems like in a LOT of books lately, teens are moving really, really fast with their physical relationships...which is probably realistic to a certain extent, but I can't help but wonder if it's a little blown out of proportion.)

3.5 stars.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Texas Gothic

Texas Gothic
By Rosemary Clement-Moore
Delacorte Press, 2011. 406 pgs. Teen fiction

Amy Goodnight has always tried to hide the fact that her family has magical abilities, something that isn't easy to do when all the rest of them seem content to tell the whole world exactly what they can do. However, when Amy and her sister Phin are house-sitting for their aunt, things start spiraling out of control, and Amy can't stay away from the magic. First, handsome, irritating, incredibly frustrating next door neighbor Ben McCulloch, whose ranch is being haunted (at least according to rumors) by a mad monk, blames Amy and her family for causing the rumors and all the trouble that comes with it. Then Amy finds that there is indeed a ghost (or maybe more than one), since he starts paying her special visits. Even as she's trying to deny what her talents are, people are getting hurt, and Amy can't help but get involved.

This book was fun from start to finish. Amy is one of those kick-butt spunky narrators that I love, Ben is a cute cowboy, and the other quirky supporting characters are amusing. I sometimes got bogged down in Phin's descriptions of the science behind the paranormal, but that's my only quibble with the book. There's some language and some pretty heavy making out.

4 stars.