Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Three Kings by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez


The Three Kings by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez was really an interesting read.  By the description I thought it was going to be a light and fluffy romance novel but it was actually pretty light on the romance.  My overall thoughts on the book were quite positive but I have a few minor issues which I’ll get to in a moment.  

Christy is a very successful interior designer.  She makes a lot of money and has been able to “escape” the barrio and live a very different life than her Mexican American family.  I grew up -and still live- in an area with a huge Mexican population.  I recognized many of the stereotypes laughed about in the book because I do see them on a daily basis.  Christy makes sure that nobody thinks she is Mexican.  She is Mexican American.  I never thought about the difference before.  

Christy is recently divorced so of course her family wants her to get married again.  Her wonderful cousin, Maggie, invites three men to one of her family dinners.  The three Reyes cousins, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar all agree to take Christy on a series of dates at the end of which she’ll decide which she wants to continue to see.  They all open her eyes to who she has become and where she came from.  She learns important lessons from all three men and ultimately is a better person by the end.  

I learned some of the lessons along with Christy and I love that part of the book.  I love her realizations about her family and her background.  My only complaint is that I felt some parts were missing.  Somehow I missed her third date with Melchior which I assume didn’t happen but there was no mention of her cancelling.  I felt that parts of the story was disjointed.  Overall, I do recommend the story.  It’s really quite sweet.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

13 Little Blue Envelopes, by Maureen Johnson, is a story about discovering the world, and oneself.  When Ginny’s aunt passes away, she is surprised to receive an envelope with instructions for a trip to Europe.  She can only bring a backpack, no guides, no language books, no electronics - including cell phones, and no extra money.  

For someone like me, that sounds completely terrifying.  Ginny embraced it as well as she could considering she was seventeen years old.  That was the biggest hurdle for me to get over.  She was only seventeen and her parents let her go to Europe completely on her own with now way to contact her?  My parents never would have considered that.  

Ultimately, the tasks that Ginny must complete - all told in a set of thirteen blue envelopes, allow her to grow as a person, discover who her aunt really was, and learn about the world.  She faces challenges that would defeat a normal person but she did what she had to do and was better for it.  She survived.  

I highly recommend this to anyone who likes to travel -regardless of age.  It’s an adventure for Ginny and the reader as we wait to find out what her aunt has in store for her next. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Angels of Morgan Hill by Donna Van Liere

The Angels of Morgan Hill, by Donna Van Liere is an extremely sweet book that kept me turning the pages.  The narrator shifts between a few characters but the principle narrator is Jane, a nine-year-old girl who has just lost her father.   The story is set in the late 1940’s in a small town in Tennessee.  The times are hard, the jobs are scarce, and life isn’t easy for the Gable family.  

After Jane and John’s father dies, their mother, Fran, struggles to raise her kids while dealing with the news that there is another baby on the way.  When a black family moves to town, the Gable family’s life is turned upside down.  Fran forms a friendship with Addy, despite what people think.  

I don’t want to give anything away but when the worst happens, the people of Morgan Hill come together to make things right.  They are the Angels of Morgan Hill.  The core group of characters are so wonderful to each other that it makes me long for a tight knit community like that.

While the ending was a little too neat and tidy, the story moved along at such a rapid pace, with so much happening in the span of a year, it was a relief to have a tidy ending!  I didn’t know what to expect from Donna Van Liere but I can say that this is a beautiful story with some good lessons.  It isn’t perfect but it’s worth a read. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

Crescendo, by Becca Fitzpatrick, is the sequel to Hush, Hush, which I reviewed in 2009.  In this sequel - which may be better than the original - Nora learns more about her family history and the death of her father.  The story begins with Nora and Patch happily dating although he is now her guardian angel.  He isn’t supposed to fall in love which causes a rift between the two.  

Nora begins to see her father - her dead father - and has strange dreams.  She becomes suspicious of a new guy in school and struggles with her lab partner in her summer school chemistry class.   

I enjoyed Crescendo, probably more than I did Hush, Hush.  I’m not sure I can explain why but I thought the story was richer.  I suppose it built on the story, as it should.  Both are good, exciting reads for teens (and adults like me).  I’m anxious for the next book as once again, we were left with a cliff hanger.  If you’ve started the series, I encourage you to continue it.   If you are new, make sure you pick up Hush, Hush first.