Dear Lisa McMann,

January 16, 2010

Fade – Lisa McMann – 256 pages

Janie is a dream catcher, and can enter the dreams of others (mostly) at will.  She puts her rare talent to good use working undercover alongside her fellow investigator and secret boyfriend, Cabe.  When she’s called upon to be the bait in a trap to catch a sexual predator at the high school they both attend, Cabe’s overprotectiveness begins to strain their already tense relationship; meanwhile, Janie’s lessons in dream-catching from the notes of a dead woman begin to reveal the truth about her ability–and what it will cost her to continue using it.

Fade, like Wake, was not quite what I expected it to be.  I’m not sure what I expected, really, but you went subtly in some other direction, and I’m left feeling a little confused as to what I think.

I really enjoyed your prose, and the premise of the book is pretty intriguing, but it seemed like you were skirting the edge of cliché.  Janie’s undercover act going so predictably wrong…the terrible price of using her power…Cabe’s excessive protectiveness…these are all things that could be okay, and were okay by virtue of your writing style, which I really like, but you’re coming awfully close to the perilous land of Melodrama.  I liked the book overall, but it didn’t feel quite as unique as Wake did, and I’m hoping that Gone, when it comes out, will even things out a little.  I like to give the middle book in a trilogy a little slack, because it’s a weird place to be plot-wise, and sometimes it’s hard to make something have a beginning and end and an emotional arc when the whole thing is neither the beginning nor the end of a larger story.  It was more than worth the read, though, and it gets four stars, along with high hopes for the third book to tie things up in some wonderful and exciting way.

Love,

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Dear Lois Lowry,

September 23, 2009

GossamerGossamer – Lois Lowry – 176 pages

“Littlest One is a tiny creature slowly learning her job of giving dreams to humans. Each night she and her teacher, Thin Elderly, visit an old woman’s home where she softly touches beloved objects, gathering happy memories, and drops of old scents and sounds. Littlest One pieces these bits together and presents them to her sleeping human in the form of pleasant dreams. But the dreaded Sinisteeds, dark fearsome creatures that plague their victims with nightmares, are always at work against the dreamgivers. When the old woman takes in John, an angry foster child with a troubled past, the Sinisteeds go after him with their horrifying nightmares. Can Littlest One, and her touch light as gossamer, protect John’s heart and soul from the nightmare of his dark past?”  -Random House website

Gossamer is just one of those perfect books for curling up and reading in bed or under a blanket or somewhere else cozy.  It has just the right proportions of sweetness, gentle humor, real-life troubles, danger and fantasy–a recipe for loveliness!  Littlest One is just so earnest and cute that I can’t resist her, and Thin Elderly is a delight, and the whole thing has that slightly distant fairy-tale feel to it while still laying the characters hearts bare through their actions.  It has the same sort of feeling to me as Season of Ponies and The Sleep of Stone, even though it resembles neither in plot.  Your prose is simple and clear, the story is quick and satisfying, and it’s delightfully clever.  I absolutely love it, and I expected no less from the woman behind The Giver and Number the Stars and Anastasia Krupnik (but what’s up with Anastasia’s new cover?  YUCK!).  You totally rock.  Five stars!

Love,

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Books this year: 94

Pages this year: 18,154


Dear Catherine Jinks,

June 20, 2009

The Reformed Vampire Support GroupThe Reformed Vampire Support Group – Catherine Jinks

All the books out there have got it wrong–vampires aren’t sexy or powerful or dangerous–they’re skinny and weakened, on meticulously regulated diets, and they look…well, they look like death warmed over.  When the eldest and most deviant member of the Reformed Vampire Support Group is found dusted in his coffin though, frailty and illness can’t stop Nina and Dave from trying to find the slayer and save their afterlives.  Of course, nothing is ever that simple, and they stumble upon a more complicated mystery than they ever expected.

I got The Reformed Vampire Support Group as a present, which was great, because I’d been intending to pick it up anyway.  It started a little slow, a little sillier than I sometimes enjoy, but it got good fast!  I started to really love the zany moments, and enjoyed the serious ones, too.  There were seemingly endless twists and turns in the plot, but not in a way I found overwhelming.  I don’t want to give too much away, but there’s one particular plot twist that I rather enjoyed, involving a young man named Reuben….  Anyway, this was a fun, fast read with a great ending.  Four stars!

Love,

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Dear Sonya Hartnett,

January 4, 2009

The Ghost's Child

The Ghost’s Child was tender, fierce, whimsical, and gently heartbreaking. I cried a lot when I read it, and I’m tearing up now just remembering, but in the best way. It was a very different experience than your last book, Surrender, but just as good and maybe better.  I was especially pleased by your whimsical touch with this novel–the dreamlike battle at sea, the wild and mysterious love interest, and of course the ghost boy.  Five stars, for sure!

Love,

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