Monday, July 31, 2006

Dairy Queen

Book: Dairy Queen
Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Published: 2006

D.J. Schwenk’s not one to complain. Ever since her dad busted his hip, her younger brother got all wound up in summer sports, and her two older brothers quit coming home from college, she’s stuck basically running her family’s dairy farm. But she doesn’t protest, because that’s not what you do in the Schwenk family. In the Schwenk family, you keep your head down and keep going.

When D.J. gets saddled with summer help in the form of one Brian Nelson, she's very annoyed. She doesn't want to babysit some stuck-up quarterback, whining about all this work. To make things, he's the quarterback for her hometown's deadliest rival. What did she ever do to deserve this?

But Brian Nelson doesn't turn out to be the complete and total pain in the behind she was expecting. Sure, he whines a little, yeah, he’s not really the best worker in the whole world. But he does do one thing that nobody’s ever managed . . . he gets D.J. to start talking, really talking, about her life. Once D.J. starts to talk, she also starts to listen . . . and she finds out that a lot of the people she loves have something to say.

Is this a pre-ball Cinderella story? A Romeo-and-Juliet romance? A story about a girl playing football? It could have been any of these things, but instead Catherine Gilbert Murdock lets those settle into subplot status and concentrates on the theme of communication--what happens when we do, when we don’t, when we begin, and when we end.

I also have to note that football is so not my thing, but not only was I able to understand D.J.’s and Brian’s involvement in it, I was able to get into the emotional attachment of a whole town and a single family to a sport. Not bad.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Revenge of the Witch

Hey Bibliovore! Where ya been?

Setting up my apartment, buying furniture, starting my new job . . .

Is that all? Pffft. How lame.

I know, but to make it up to you, I will give you . . . a book review! Tralaaaa!

Really? Wow! Hey . . . wait a minute . . .

Book: The Last Apprentice - Revenge of the Witch
Author: Joseph Delaney
Published: 2005

Born the seventh son of a seventh son, Tom never knew that was important until he was apprenticed to a spook. Spooks hunt ghosts, fight witches, and generally deal with all the other supernatural messes that normal people would rather not think about. It’s a lonely, difficult life, but almost against his will, Tom realizes he has a knack for it. But a knack isn’t enough. The spook's prior apprentice, Billy Bones, had a knack, too, and he’s currently six feet under, along with an unsettling number of the spook's previous apprentices. And now that Tom’s accidentally unleashed a witch who’s been chained up for thirteen years, he’s going to need a lot more than a knack to ensure that he doesn’t end up next to Billy Bones.

Like Peeps, this creepalicious novel isn’t for the faint of stomach. Any novel that features violent death, zombie witches, and cakes baked with blood isn’t for the delicate type. But there’s a dark lure to the story, drawing the reader through Tom’s well-intentioned screwups and struggle to right them, and the moral murk that means no decision is easy.

Alice, Tom’s sometime ally and the granddaughter of the abovenoted witch, could and probably should have been fleshed out a little more, because instead of being sympathetic to her torn loyalties, I just got annoyed. But that’s a small nitpick in a gorily fun time. This is a great novel for those fans of fantasy who like a healthy dose of horror mixed in. Amazon indicates that the second novel in the series is coming in September. I'll be interested to see where Joseph Delaney takes Tom from here.

P.S. Okay, Amazon also seems to indicate that in 2004 Delaney published a book called the Spook's Apprentice, which sounds quite a bit like this one. Hmmm . . . odd! Is Revenge of the Witch rewritten, or just repackaged? If you know the answer to this conundrum, leave it in the comments.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Never Mind!

No, really, that's the book title!

Book: Never Mind! A Twin Novel
Authors: Rachel Vail and Avi
Published: 2004

Meet Edward and Meg Runyon. These NYC twins have always suffered from being total opposites in a world that thinks they should be exactly alike just because they were born on the same day. Meg is the goody-goody, high-achieving, smart twin. Edward is the laid-back, mischievous, fun twin. They have absolutely nothing in common. Now they’re even attending separate schools, and it looks like they’re going to drift further apart than they already are.

That’s until Edward, as a one-time joke, tells the queen bee of Meg’s new school that he and his fictional band, Never Mind, are coming to her party next Saturday. How was he to know that Meg has already told Kimberly that her super-cool twin brother and his hot band, Never Mind, will play at her party on Saturday?

Maybe they have more in common than they think . . .

I picked this book up because of Avi, whose
Romeo and Juliet Together (And Alive!) At Last
I blogged awhile back. I normally try not to rec the same author twice . . . I figure if you’re anything like me, you go looking for their other stuff if you enjoyed the first one. I’m fudging this because Avi co-wrote it, and just cuz it’s such a fun book. Through a farcical tangle of miscommunication, complete delusion, and unlikely coincidences, the worst nightmares of either twin seem poised to come true on that fateful Saturday night.

By the end, you may join Edward and Meg in saying, “Uh, what exactly happened?” But maybe all you need to know is that these night-and-day twins are finally starting to appreciate each other for their similarities and even their differences.

And as for the rest of it?

Never mind!

Sunday, July 02, 2006


My hotel has wireless. So y'all will get a book review tomorrow and an update today.

See over on the side? That list of book covers? I'm newly on LibraryThing. Okay, right now I only have four books on that list, but once I get an apartment and get unpacked, there will be more.