Dooley Takes the Fall

Dooley Takes the Fallby Norah McClintock

Dooley’s life is lived in a fishbowl.  Everyone — his uncle with whom he lives, his manager at the video store, the vice-principal at his school — is watching him, waiting for him to mess up again.  Dooley has a past with alcohol, drugs, and something even more serious, but he’s done his time and he’s trying his best to stay clean.  One night he gets off work early and decides to go for a walk instead of going straight home.  He doesn’t tell his uncle because he knows his uncle would tell him to get his butt home, but he just needs a little time to himself without the watchful eyes of everyone expecting him to fail.  Little does he know that his innocent walk would set off a chain of events that would threaten to take away everything he’s worked for.  Alone in the ravine, Dooley sees somebody fall off the bridge and land splat on the ground.  The guy is dead.  The problem, it’s a guy Dooley knows and a guy he doesn’t particularly like, so when the police realize who Dooley is, what he did in the past, and his connection to the dead guy, they start to get mighty suspicious about whether the guy’s fall off the bridge was accidental or not.  When another boy with a connection to Dooley ends up dead, the police’s investigation of Dooley heats up.  Will all of Dooley’s hard work at his second chance be for nothing?

Reaction: I really, really, really liked this book.  Mainly, it was because of Dooley.  I loved Dooley.  Dooley has gone through so much already in his 17 years and, what I think is so awesome, is truly trying to do better things with his life.  While he has a great support system, of sorts, in his uncle, all of his uncle’s monitoring wouldn’t do a lick of good if Dooley wasn’t willing to play along.  All Dooley wants is to get through school, maybe go on a date or two with his crush, graduate, and get out of town.  I guess you can’t blame people for being tough on Dooley because of his past but I wanted to yell at them sometimes and tell them to give him a bit of slack, he’s doing the best he can.  Dooley makes some dumb choices but it’s hard to blame him for them and none of them would be all that bad if it wasn’t for the cloud that already hangs over him. I found it fascinating to read about Dooley, figuring out who he is now and seeing glimpses of who he was before.  I liked watching him build tentative relationships with others after being so alone, like with his uncle, Warren, and even Beth.  I figured out the who of the mystery by about half-way through but I had no idea about the why or the how so knowing didn’t ruin the mystery at all.  Plus, the story was more about Dooley and his transformation than the mystery.  The mystery added tests and hurdles for Dooley on his reformation, I guess you would call it.  Did I mention I love Dooley, well, I love Dooley.

What’s Next: Apparently more Dooley books.  Yeah!  Norah McClintock’s website talks about another book soon, I couldn’t find any information on title or exact release (just Spring 2009 and I’m thinking this might be for Canada not US).

Thanks: To Leila from Bookshelves of Doom.  Her review of Dooley Takes the Fall is probably the only reason I chose to pick up this book and I’m very glad that I did.

Library Loot: March 25-April 1, 2009

Library LootLibrary Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Alessandra that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

This week’s library haul includes:

My re-checkouts.  Books that I’ve had at one time, returned, and now have again:

  • The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (Had a DJ craving when I learned the third — and final? — book in the series is coming out in the fall, so will try to finally read this one!)

Saving Francesca

Saving Francescaby Melina Marchetta

Francesca is not exactly happy.  Her mother, Mia, otherwise know as the “Queen of Limitation Placers,” has forced her to go to St. Sebastian’s, a former all-boys school with a total of only 30 girls, instead of Pius where all her friends went.  Now she’s practically friendless, hanging out with a ragtag group of girls she doesn’t feel she can relate to and being ignored by burping, farting, juvenile boys she goes to school with.  But when Mia, who was always vivacious and energetic, suddenly doesn’t get out of bed one day, one week, one month, Francesca’s world changes.  Francesca is suddenly in charge of a lot more of her life than she ever imagined and has to figure out who she is and who she wants to be all while coping with her Mia’s illness and how much she really needs and misses her mother.

Reaction: Ok, I LOVE Melina Marchetta.  I absolutely adored Jellicoe Road but I didn’t review it because I read it during Cybils judging.  If you want to read a review of it that says everything I wished I could say but never would be able to say as well, check out Trisha’s over at the Ya Ya Yas.  Moving on to the book at hand, after I read Jellicoe I had to read everything else Melina Marchetta has written, at least everything else that is currently released in the US, so I started with Saving Francesca.  And, Wow.

So, Francesca’s pretty cool but she’s got a few problems.  While she thinks her main problem is her mother her main problem is that she let a group of “cool” girls who call themselves her friends dictate who she is in order to fit it.  I think this happens to a lot of girls.  Who wants to be the weirdo, outsider, freak and be yourself when you can mold yourself into something more acceptable?  Slowly, though, without her mother breathing down her neck about it, Francesca begins to figure out what is important to her and sticks up for those beliefs despite the criticism that may follow.  This is not to say, though, that Francesca does not miss her mother, because she does.  It was so sad to watch her realize what a huge part her mother played in her everyday life and how empty she feels while her mother is dealing with her depression.  Her mother’s absence brought on some pretty awesome fights between Francesca and her father.  I thought this was one of the relationships and interactions that ran the truest (is that a word?), the father/daughter mash-up.  I also enjoyed watching Francesca become friends with the most unlikely characters and even a pre-friends brainwashing friend.

While there were little things here or there I would change or omit, the biggest for me was that I wished Francesca and Will, for the intensity of their feelings, had actually spent a bit more time together.  Plus, I really just could have done with more Will. ;)

Saving Francesca was in my TBR pile but it shot to the top after I read this Hot Moment from Young Adult Romance Reviews.  If my review didn’t convince you to read Saving Francesca (if you haven’t already) then this will.

Highway to Hell: (Maggie Quinn: Girl vs. Evil)

Highway to Hellby Rosemary Clement-Moore

Maggie Quinn and her psychic ability are on the road.  Maggie and her bff Lisa are off to South Padre Island to get material for her World’s Least Likely Spring Breaker article.  Unfortunately, like many things Maggie does, her trip doesn’t exactly go as planned.  Before they make it to South Padre, Maggie runs over a dead cow and ruins the undercarriage of her jeep.  Maggie and Lisa are stranded in the tiny town of Dulcina, TX and it turns out Dulcina has a bit of a problem.  The cow Maggie ran over, not your normal dead cow.  In fact, the cow had been ripped apart in a very unnatural way, and it’s not the only thing to be killed that way.  So far, 3 goats, a puppy, and a herding dog have also bit the dust by having their throats mauled.  As much as Lisa insists she wants to be normal for one week, after Maggie’s psychic mojo meter continues to go off it cannot be denied that something bad is going on, but what exactly?  Is it Evil with a capital E?

Reaction: Another fun, funny addition to the Maggie Quinn collection.  I was glad to see Maggie and Lisa mending the rift between them and coming together again to do some demon-fighting.  I was sad that Maggie didn’t spend more time with her boyfriend Justin but I thought their interactions and reactions to each other and the different situations were spot-on for beginning of the relationship insecurities and the blossoming strong feelings.  Maggie’s sarcasm was really dialed down in this one.  Lisa was the snarkiest in this one, though Maggie did get in a few zingers.  I read in an Amazon review that the reviewer felt that Maggie was evolving and growing up, and I hadn’t thought of that before I read it but I think it’s an accurate observation.  Maggie is maturing.  Overall, this was probably my least favorite of the three books but I still really, really enjoyed it and will certainly continue following Maggie Quinn in her future ventures as Girl vs. Evil.

Previously: Prom Dates from Hell and Hell Week.

What’s next: No news on Rosemary Clement-Moore’s website about another Maggie Quinn but there is an interesting blurb for a new book called Splendor Falls.  I’ll be looking out for this one.

Library Loot: March 18-24, 2009

Library LootLibrary Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Alessandra that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

This week was a bit slower on the library front.  Here is what I picked up this week:

My re-checkouts.  Books that I’ve had at one time, returned, and now have again:

Silent on the Moor

Silent on the Moorby Deanna Raybourn

If you have not yet read Silent in the Grave and Silent in the Sanctuary you might want to skip this review until you do.

Lady Julia is at it again.  This time she is accompanying her sister Portia uninvited on a visit to Grimsgrave, the property that is now owned by Brisbane.  When Julia and Portia arrive, they are greeted not by Brisbane but by the impoverished ladies of the family that formally owned Grimsgrave.  At first, Julia does not know what to make of Lady Allenby or her daughters Ailith and Hilda, but soon warms to them determined to make the best out of an unexpected situation.  In befriending the Allenbys, Julia offers to catalogue the late Lord Allenby’s Egyptology collection and, in doing so, she begins to uncover some puzzling and even sinister secrets about the Allenby family.  Julia also learns that Brisbane’s past and many of his own secrets are tied to Grimsgrave and the moors surrounding it.  Julia is once again determined to get to the bottom of all the mysteries, even as it puts her and the ones she loves in peril.

Reaction: <Contented Sigh> So satisfying.  Not perfect but satisfying.  I liked Julia more in this one.  I’m not sure if she’s growing or becoming flat, but she wasn’t as haughty and seemed more comfortable in her own skin, being who she wanted to be despite social mores.  Also, she wasn’t as dumb as she was in the second one.  There were certainly mysteries that I figured out before her, but I attribute the major one to the fact that I just read The Thirteenth Tale and it had a similar subplot line.  And Julia did not have all the information because Brisbane, very annoyingly, kept a lot of things from her.  In this one, I really could have strangled him sometimes.  I think he kept information from her just so they could have a fight about it.  The end is definitely squee worthy but leaves me concerned for future installments.  While I’m all for resolution, I could have done with a bit slower buildup.  It seemed a bit abrupt to me.  Though, again, I was very happy so maybe I shouldn’t complain!

What’s next: A fourth, yet to be named Lady Julia Grey in October 2010.  Also, Deanna Raybourn has another book, not in the series, called The Dead Travel Fast that will be out in March 2010.  All this from her new blog.

Cover: I am thoroughly annoyed with this cover.  It makes it seem like a romance novel which would not be a bad thing if it was a romance novel but it’s not.  It is a historical mystery with an awesome romantic plot.  And I actually really liked the other covers.  Why did they have to change?  I know that it won a RITA for Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements, so are they trying to attract romance readers with a more romancy cover?  I don’t know but I just don’t like it.  And I really don’t like that dress.

Death by Bikini

Death by Bikiniby Linda Gerber

Aphra and her father own an exclusive, secluded island resort.  While Aphra loves the beauty of the island and the beaches, she misses civilization — friends, malls, fast food, movies, in general, being a teenager.  She also misses her mom who did not move with Aphra and her father when they bought the island, instead opting to “find herself”.  What Aphra doesn’t know is that her stagnant life is about to get very interesting.  It starts with the arrival of unexpected guests, a family that includes a hot guy about Aphra’s age.  Remote island resorts just do not get unexpected guests.  Then there is the agitated and secretive way that Aphra’s father is acting, the arrival of another mysterious guest who wears a gun, and a murder, a young woman found on the beach strangled by her bikini straps.  Aphra is determined to find out what is going on but little does she know what she discovers could change her entire life.

Reaction: Very cute, very fast, fun mystery.  This is another one I breezed through in less than a day.  I figured out who the bad guy was from almost the beginning, or at least I was pretty sure and what I thought was confirmed, but knowing didn’t really diminish the story because I hadn’t figured out the whys only the who.  While Seth and Aphra are cute, I’m hoping they get a bit more time to develop their relationship in future stories.  I’m really looking forward to reading the next installments because the end of Death by Bikini was really just the beginning of a new adventure, and I liked that.

What’s next: Death by Latte and Death by Denim

Cover, etc.: I forgot to mention, the packaging is also really cool.  The front has a cut-out showing the page behind, which has pictures of skulls, palms, guns, and other assorted, very appropriate pictures.  The chapter numbers have their own pages with a skull and crossbones and an optical illusiony check pattern.  I just overall really liked the set-up of the book.

Library Loot: March 11- 17, 2009

Library LootLibrary Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Alessandra that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

A week of firsts.  This is my first meme.  I love what The Story Siren does with In My Mailbox but I don’t tend to buy books or swap books or get many for review, so I was so happy to find Library Loot.  These ladies are more on my page!  98% of my books are from the library.

This week was an especially awesome week.  I picked a good week to start.  To begin, the books I’m most excited about:

  • Jo-Jo and the Fiendish Lot by Andrew Auseon
  • Death by Bikini by Linda Gerber
  • Silent on the Moor by Deanna Rayburn
  • The Season by Sarah MacLean
  • Dandelion Fire by N. D. Wilson

Other great books:

  • Paisley Hanover Acts Out by Cameron Tuttle
  • The Dust of 100 Dogs by A. S. King
  • The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry
  • No Choirboy by Susan Kuklin
  • Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith
  • Vampire Knight v.5 by Matsuri Hino

Finally, my re-checkouts.  Books that I had at one time, returned, and now have again:

  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • How to Build a House by Dana Reinhardt
  • The Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees

Oops, one last book, because I breezed through the first in a day I needed the second:

  • Death by Latte by Linda Gerber

Did anyone else get anything great from the library?  Join in with Library Loot!

Deadly Little Secret

Deadly Little Secretby Laurie Faria Stolarz

Camelia’s life is pretty ordinary until the day she almost dies.  Walking across the school parking lot, she is barely missed by a careening, out-of-control car.  The car only missed her because a young man saved her, pushed her out of the way in the nick of time then left before she could learn who he was.  Now, it’s the beginning of a new school year and guess who’s a new student at her school?  Her savior.  His name is Ben Carter.  She’s happy to finally have a name to the face and to be able to say thank you but things aren’t exactly as they seem with Ben.  He is sullen, withdrawn, a loner.  He looks like he has a secret.  Rumor around school is that he killed his last girlfriend.  Is it true?  Is Ben dangerous?  Camelia is determined to find out.  Camelia begins to get strange phone calls and gifts left for her inside her locked house.  At first, the messages are just creepy but soon they become threatening and even deadly.  Who is stalking Camelia?  Could it be Ben?  Could it be anyone else?

Reaction: Meh.  I just wasn’t that into this one.  It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t that great either.  While I have a laundry list of minor complaints, my main ones were that I felt as though the author was throwing suspects at me by telling me about all of the guys that seemed to be into this plain, otherwise nondescript girl.  Ex-bf Matt, hunk John, boss Spencer, and, of course, probably killed his ex-girlfriend Ben.  When each guy is introduced Camelia’s best friend is there telling Camelia how they are all into her and staring at her.  It was a bit over the top.  Speaking of over the top, Camelia’s two best friends, Kimmie and Wes, seemed like outrageous caricatures, not real people.  Finally, I just didn’t get the relationship between Camelia and Ben.  I really couldn’t figure out the attraction between the two.  I think that I will be in the minority with my average feelings of this one.  While I’m not sure that anyone is going to be wowed by it, I believe there will be many that will thoroughly enjoy it and not really share my complaints.  I was pretty spooked out by some of the stalker parts and I did enjoy that horror-movie feel to it but I think I may just skim the sequel.

Btw, doesn’t the saving-girl-from-car scene sound a little familiar?  Hello, Bella and Edward.  And then Ben’s presence and ability to save Camelia is never really explained.  Hm.

Next: Deadly Little Lies (Dec. 2009?)

It's the End of the World Challenge

End of the World 2009

My First Challenge!  I’ve decided to join Becky of Becky’s Book Reviews‘s “It’s the End of the World” challenge.  The point, to read at least four apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic books by the beginning of October.  This is not a genre that I particularly like but there are a lot of great teen books out there on the subject and I’m hoping that this will force me to read some great titles I normally would have passed on.

So, here’s what I’m going to read:

  1. The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
  2. Life as we Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  3. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
  4. The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman
  5. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  6. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

For more details on the challege or to sign up, go here.