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Archive for the ‘3.5 stars’ Category

Seven Tears into the SeaSeven years ago, Gwenn had a strange experience at the beach with a dark haired boy. He tells her:

“Beckon the sea, I’ll come to thee…
Shed seven tears, perchance seven years.”

It’s an experience shrouded in mystery and gossip and drives her family to move away from Gwenn’s beloved beach. Now, Gwenn has returned to Mirage Beach to help her Nana run the inn. But as Gwenn finds herself drawn more and more to the sea, she finds it impossible to forget the words the boy spoke. Have the boy’s words sealed her fate? What about the odd prophecy her Nana saw in her scrying mirror?

“The power which commands the waves will pull you back, […] Back to a reunion no mortal can imagine and no female can resist.”

Will Gwenn reunite with the boy from the beach? Gwenn must decide if destiny is unavoidable or if destiny can be a choice. Seven Tears into the Sea by Terri Farley is a rich, mythical novel, seeped in Celtic lore.

I’ll start by saying if I had known what this was really about, I probably wouldn’t have read it. Too much to suspend disbelief over, I suppose.

Anyway, I did read it and it wasn’t bad by any means. The prose is taut and has an almost forboding sense about it. The characterization is fairly well done and the plot moves at a good pace. But like I said, just not my cup of tea.

If you like Celtic mythology and folklore, you might want to pick this up.

Rating: 3.5 buckets of raw fish out of 5.

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The Book of MichaelIs life something that can picked up where you left off? The Book of Michael by Lesley Choyce tackles that very question. After being wrongfully accused and convicted of the murder of his girlfriend Lisa, sixteen year old Michael’s life is over. Or so he thinks. After six months in prison Michael is released. The real killer confessed. But for Michael, freedom isn’t what he imagined. Innocent is still guilt in some people’s eyes. Michael is forced to live and grieve in a world that let him go to prison for a crime he did not commit.

Oh, I’ll admit it took a good number of pages for this book to grow on me. Initially, reading The Book of Michael reminded me of the Covenant House books my grandmother used to get in the mail. Good boy from good family meets bad girl from bad family. Bad girl introduces good boy to bad things like rap music and baggy pants. Good boy gone bad smokes a little weed and next thing you know he’s in prison. Thankfully, that tone didn’t continue for too long, and the novel transformed into a rather well-done piece of work. I was even pleasantly surprised at the relatively positive portrayal of teen sex and the importance of libraries in prisons.

There’s a nice twist at the ending that might polarize readers, but I thought it added something extra to the book. It shows that sometimes redemption and justice isn’t something juries, judges, and lawyers can give. Sometimes it’s something that has to be internally created on one’s own terms, as Michael finds:

“at times the world is not such a terrible place after all. It has given us permission to get on with our lives as best we can. And I am convinced that this is enough.”

While not the best piece of literature ever written, I think The Book of Michael is a necessary work, and would probably make a good fiction companion to No Choirboy: Murder, Violence, and Teenagers on Death Row by Susan Kuklin.

Rating: 3.5 books on I Ching out of 5.

The Book of Michael by Lesley Choyce
Published: October 4th 2008 by Red Deer Press
Binding: Paperback, 224 pages
ISBN: 0889954178
Reading Level: Young Adult

Do you find it ironic that I stopped believing in angels as soon as you died and became one?

Every once in a while a good sentimental book is something I crave. It’s not very often, and it’s usually only in short, small doses. I rarely have high expectations for these sorts of books, and try not to judge them as more than they are – brief escapes. So when I read J.Kaye’s review of Kissed by an Angel by Elizabeth Chandler, which is a collection of 3 books which were once published separately, it seemed to fit the bill perfectly. I was pleasantly surprised to find more than just sappy sentimentalism and cliche teenage death tropes. There’s a bit of mystery and intrigue here, and just enough action and suspense to elevate this book beyond my initial meager expectations. Even the angel themes, which are usually quite hard for me to stomach, are well-done and not too overwrought.
In short, this is a nice way to spend an afternoon. Nothing too deep, but not too shallow either.

Rating: 3.5 glowing angel figurines out of 5.

Kissed by an Angel by Elizabeth Chandler
Published: December 16th 2008 by Simon Pulse
Binding: Paperback, 704 pages
ISBN: 1416978836
Reading Level: Young Adult

Sellevision by Augusten Burroughs
2000; Picador. 229 pages.

The Incomplete Sentence Summary: Princess Diana tribute shows, hosts going commando, suspected incest, cheating husbands, hairy earlobes, a lawn covered in razors, an outing on live television, and faux Native Americans.

This is going to be a pretty short review as I don’t have all that much to say about this book.

Sellevision by Augusten Burroughs is a behind the scenes look into the lives of the quirky hosts at Sellevision, the premier home shopping network. Readers are introduced to Peggy Jean, the conservative Christian being stalked by a viewer; Max, fired for accidentally exposing himself on air; BeBe, the shining jewel in the network’s crown, Trish, a rising star on the network; and Leigh, a young host sleeping with the boss. If only QVC were more like this book.

Sellevision is a fun book, though near the end the plot seems to have run out of steam. Much like the thrill one might get from buying a cheap bauble peddled on TV, the initial thrill of this book fades soon after reading.

Rating: 3.5 Dazzling Diamonelle necklaces out of 5.

The incomplete sentence summary: Boarding school, killer bongs, hairy under arms, a stained futon, Long Island accents, designer clothing sales, deadly icicles, and the exhilaration of revenge.

Jenny Green’s Killer Junior Year by Amy Belasen and Jacob Osborne is a sometimes funny, generally captivating revenge tale narrated by Jenny Green, the teenaged killer, herself. Readers are privy to Jenny’s innermost thoughts through out the book, from the mundane–dieting and wardrobe woes– to the decidedly creepy thoughts of death and murder.

Jenny Green is bored of her Long Island life. A self appointed Jewish American Princess (JAP) reeling from the latest round of high school humiliation and misery, Jenny decides to leave it all behind and start over in a new school, in a new place, with new faces. And what better place to start over than a boarding school way up north in Montreal, the very same boarding school her middle school crush, Josh Beck, attends? But along with a fresh start, Jenny also finds that not all experiences with the opposite sex are the stuff of romance novels. After her first accidental taste of murder and fed up with the lying, cheating ways of the males in her life, Jenny decides to take her revenge on those that have hurt her.

I really, really wanted to love this book. I did enjoy it, and it turned out to be an entertaining read, but it sure wasn’t “love”. The beginning was a little slow and I kept wondering when the killing would begin. That sense of anticipation is what kept me reading to find out who would make Jenny’s list of victims.

The killings are not very graphic, as Jenny is narrating and hates the sight of blood. Jenny’s thoughts are the creepiest thing about the book, though the creepiness factor is pretty fairly balanced with humor.

So what’s not to like? Jenny’s character took quite a while to grow on me. Through a good portion of the book I didn’t really care about her until all of a sudden I found myself rooting for her. It surprised me because up until that point I saw her as little more than a spoiled brat; a stereotype of a wealthy teenage girl. Thankfully, Jenny grows somewhat, and moves beyond her initial flatness.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the supporting characters. These characters are not really fully fleshed out. The pessimist in me says the authors chose stereotypes over real characterization. The optimist in me says the authors consciously left the supporting characters (especially Jenny’s victims) one dimensional in order to make them appear more disposable or less real, thus making their murders easier to swallow. Whatever the motivation (or lack thereof) the characters never really reach beyond stereotypes and become full fledged human characters.

Overall, Jenny Green’s Killer Junior Year is an entertaining read with an interesting premise; it’s a dark spin on the ubiquitous teenage dating drama books.

Rating: 3.5 Molsen Export beer bottles out of 5.


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Books That Go Bump in the Night- Halloween and scary books for kids and teens. My other blog.


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