The mystery does not actually start until about 80 pages in, but I enjoyed that, unlike some of the others in this series, this had a plausible plot aThe mystery does not actually start until about 80 pages in, but I enjoyed that, unlike some of the others in this series, this had a plausible plot and outcome with no violence and with non-stereotypical bad guys. More fun for young mystery lovers - and something of a lesson in 1950s gender roles. As usual, poor Trixie who is so NOT a 1950s homemaker and has to put up with all the teasing about her tomboy ways. (Published in the early '50s.) ...more
I'm not sure what to make of this book, the first in what appears to be a long series. On the one hand, I was hooked by the mystery, which gets absoluI'm not sure what to make of this book, the first in what appears to be a long series. On the one hand, I was hooked by the mystery, which gets absolutely NO resolution in this volume. I really want to know who "A" is. On the other hand, do I really want to read more books about these girls? (No, I don't.) They are rich, competitive, shallow, with real-enough "issues" mostly caused by their richer, shallower, more competitive parents. It's set in an upscale Pennsylvania town where it matters what designer you wear, what boy you date, and which prestigious school accepts your application, and where ingrained homophobia and racism appear to run rampant, along with cheating, lying, and judging other people mercilessly. The teenagers have the usual kegger parties, but also appear to order wine and drinks openly in shopping malls (I couldn't figure that one out), and there's some drunk-driving, injury to others, and probably at least one murder. All the girls are hiding secrets, of course, and clearly as the series unfolds the mysterious A, who seems to know the dirt on everyone, will manipulate them like puppets on a string. Somewhere behind all the lies and secrets is the beautiful, popular Alison, who disappeared 3 years ago. Could she be alive? Could she be "A"? Apparently, you have to read at least 4 books to find out. Something of a guilty pleasure, I suppose, but I'm more likely to google spoilers than actually read them all. I read this as part of 2015 Reading Challenge that included "read a book a TV series is based on". ...more
A lot of exciting albeit improbable things happen in this story - plane crashes, fires, runaways, evil step-fathers, old misers, snake-bites, and madA lot of exciting albeit improbable things happen in this story - plane crashes, fires, runaways, evil step-fathers, old misers, snake-bites, and mad dog attacks - but it also introduces a likable, down-to-earth 13-year-old heroine on a 1947 farm in upstate New York. Trixie helps her mother feed the chickens, weed the garden, and babysit her precocious younger brother to earn money for a horse. But then a new girl moves in next door, rich, delicate Honey Wheeler, and everything changes. Honey teaches Trixie to ride horses, and Trixie teaches Honey to ride a bike, get dirty, go swimming, and have fun. Then they meet Jim, who has run away from his evil stepfather; together the three solve the mystery of hidden treasure in the abandoned mansion next door. Jim's story is resolved in the second in the series, The Red Trailer Mystery (one of my favorites growing up). The first six books in the series by Julie Campbell, before the characters became completely formulaic and ghost writers took over, were always a little more "real" girls doing real things, and hence a little less painfully wholesome and formulaic and a little more fun. I'd have loved to hang out with the original Trixie, Jim, and Honey, in a time when things were simpler and neighbors were neighborly. Fun! ...more
I enjoyed this, but there were two parts to the story that didn't really mesh for me. Andy Wicks agrees to try hypnosis to quit smoking, only to findI enjoyed this, but there were two parts to the story that didn't really mesh for me. Andy Wicks agrees to try hypnosis to quit smoking, only to find himself transported back in time to 10th grade, just before he smoked his first cigarette. Andy says no to the cigarette this time around, but finds that he must come to terms with his Dad's death before he can return to the present. So... his Dad is what is too cool to be forgotten, but are we supposed to think Andy became a smoker as part of dealing with (or escaping from) his Dad's death? I don't know, and I'm not sure it matters. It just felt a bit rushed toward the end, and the whole thing with asking out the girl he had a crush on and then ditching her at the party left me feeling a bit uncomfortable. Still, an interesting, quick read with a few insights for those who want to speculate about living life over again....more
It was okay, but not half as original as it sounded. There was a great deal of sighing about wanting to be a "normal girl" and not the Chosen One (mucIt was okay, but not half as original as it sounded. There was a great deal of sighing about wanting to be a "normal girl" and not the Chosen One (much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, only less witty). There was a love triangle with a brooding, quiet, sensitive undead boy (sound familiar?) with a complicated, sad past - whose mental "silence" was soothing to our heroine who can read thoughts (much like Sookie in True Blood). Much of the writing that was meant to be Deep Thoughts was cliches piled one atop the other. There were a few distracting continuity errors that made me have to go back and re-read to find out how the heroine seemed to suddenly be in a totally different hallway than the one she just left (never explained - guess the writer just forgot where she was making her character walk?). The characters were mostly one-dimensional, the story mildly entertaining, and the love interest (not the undead guy, but the live one, rather preciously nicknamed "Guyliner" for his goth style) was flirtatious and likeable. So it was an okay, quick read that occasionally annoyed me, but not so much I quit reading. Really kind of forgettable... so forgettable, in fact, I could not remember the heroine's name while I was writing this. (It was MacKenzie, but who cares? I'm sure I'll forget it again soon enough.)...more
Some reviewers have commented that the writing level is more Juvenile than Young Adult, and it is an easy read utilizing a lot of pop culture slang anSome reviewers have commented that the writing level is more Juvenile than Young Adult, and it is an easy read utilizing a lot of pop culture slang and references. Not great writing, but I enjoyed the mystery aspect of the story - up until a disappointing ending. ...more
"What is magic but technology that men do not understand - not yet, or no longer." In an alternate Venice, stone lions pace the streets and shark-toot"What is magic but technology that men do not understand - not yet, or no longer." In an alternate Venice, stone lions pace the streets and shark-toothed mermaids swim the Venetians canals. The city is stalemated under an Egyptian siege protected by the power of a mysterious "flowing queen" whose essence permeates the waters of Venice. When the flowing queen is captured by an Egyptian plot, the city is left vulnerable and it falls to intrepid orphan Merle to save her city from Egyptian enslavement and the terrifying denizens of the kingdom of Hell. This highly inventive series with its mixture of magic and arcane technology would appeal to fans of Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy - but really there is much to attract any reader of y-a fantasy. Strong, complex characters add another layer of interest to a story with multiple elements of danger, magic, and mystery. ...more
Set in 1920s Manhattan and Harlem, The Diviners features a cast of characters that sounds like a 1920s pack of Old Maid cards (by which I mean they arSet in 1920s Manhattan and Harlem, The Diviners features a cast of characters that sounds like a 1920s pack of Old Maid cards (by which I mean they are all 1920s character "types"): the feisty flapper, the Harlem numbers runner and poet, the Ziegfield girl, the pickpocket, the reformer's daughter. But the characters are captivating and likable, more complex than they may sound at first, and as it happens, all endowed with certain "gifts" that make them ideal to solve a supernatural mystery. The whole thing kind of works, including a dash of romance and a love triangle that happily does not crush my soul with stupidity (sorry 'bout it Twilight). I LOVED the well-researched 1920s setting, the complicated and interesting flapper heroine, the interracial romance.... and I cannot wait for more! When's the next book out? ...more
Well, I was looking for a light read after reading a string of very dark novels. This one fit the bill: amusing, fluffy story about teens obsessing ovWell, I was looking for a light read after reading a string of very dark novels. This one fit the bill: amusing, fluffy story about teens obsessing over boys and appearance, but learning valuable lessons about friendship and self-esteem. A consistent food theme runs throughout, including frequent baking metaphors: "I felt as light as angel food cake" and that sort of thing. The characters were believable and likable, even if the romantic interest did turn out to be as sweet as birthday cake, and the writing is actually pretty snappy and funny. ...more
Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoyed this book, and I most definitely recommend it to fans of The Hunger Games. But it keeps getting interesting - almost pDon't get me wrong, I'm enjoyed this book, and I most definitely recommend it to fans of The Hunger Games. But it keeps getting interesting - almost profound, even - then receding to YA cliche in a way that makes me want to wing the book at the apparently scrawny heroine for mentioning YET AGAIN how overly-petite and not-pretty she thinks she is. D'oh! In a situation where she's scrambling for her LIFE, I think she'd focus on things other than height and bra-size. Anyway, that's my minor rant: the ideas behind this book are interesting and worth discussion, but sometimes the execution falls short - at least for nit-picky me. (But then I prefer my introspective narrator to introspect more robustly.)...more
Straightforward adventure-quest with interesting, complex characters, lots of action, and a refreshingly whine-free, triangle-free love story betweenStraightforward adventure-quest with interesting, complex characters, lots of action, and a refreshingly whine-free, triangle-free love story between two teens who face harrowing situations and grow stronger together. When the super-volcano at Yellowstone erupts, surviving parts of the US are thrown into chaos by the devastating ashfall. Teenage Alex must travel across a post-apocalyptic Iowa to reunite with his family. Along the way, he joins forces with Darla, one of the strongest, smartest, most interesting teen heroines I've come across in recent years. Beware: there is some gut-wrenching violence and tragedy along the way and, while the writing is straightforward - really, nothing poetic here - I still teared up and found myself rooting for characters I had grown to care about.
In a postscript at the end, the author shares his sources for scientific speculation about what would happen if Yellowstone's volcano were to erupt - something that is thankfully unlikely in our lifetimes (according to the author).
My initial response to this book was Mean Girls meets Victorian Boarding School (with a dash of witchcraft). That said, I was overall pleasantly surprMy initial response to this book was Mean Girls meets Victorian Boarding School (with a dash of witchcraft). That said, I was overall pleasantly surprised to find the one-dimensional "mean girls" develop into more multidimensional individuals, some with relatable issues; kinda like in real life: sometimes you like them, sometimes you hate them, and sometimes they just get on your nerves. The story was fast-paced, well-plotted, and, although set in 1890 and involving some magical powers, works well as a 21st century coming-of-age story with just the right amount of mother/daughter conflict and a fair bit of teenage angst. Given that, my quibble with the book is the first-person narrative. The heroine's voice - especially her penchant for whiny sarcasm - is entirely anachronistic... and sometimes (for me) a bit annoying. Luckily, she seems to grow out of this during the course of the book. ...more