Tuesday, June 16, 2015
I truly enjoyed this book. It was funny, engaging and well-written.
Zoe Webster is a high school junior whose parents have divorced. Mom won the custody battle and moved them to a small town, well away from the high-powered father, prep school, and life that Zoe preferred. The story starts with a small teaser prologue about the end of the book - a good grab, and already interesting - but the book really starts on the first day of school. Since Zoe and her dad are scheming to get her back to NYC and the private prep school, she thinks she's just marking time. However, she's quickly drawn into a very bizarre quest by Digby, who is, well, odd.
There had been a kidnapping of a high school girl over the summer, and Digby is convinced that it's related to his 4-year-old sister's disappearance nearly 10 years earlier. He's returned to town to live with his mom, as his parents had divorced after the sister's disappearance. He immediately has begun trying to solve both the crimes, and is enough of a personality force that Zoe can't resist. The high school quarterback, Henry, was Digby's best friend from his earlier life, and warns Zoe that "once you care, you're in Digby World."
The story takes us through Digby's investigation (dragging Henry and Zoe kicking and screaming behind him) and Zoe's road to fitting into a new school. Some of the capers they get into are a little unbelievable, but hey, it's fiction. I can live with that. The book reminds me of the snappy dialog of an Aaron Sorkin show, the action of Percy Jackson, the uncomfortably observant BBC Sherlock, and the comedy/caper aspect of Janet Evanovich;s Stephanie Plum - all things I love.
There are some things that, as a grown-up (or maybe just an experienced reader) I can see coming from a mile away, but that's OK. I don't mind plot points that I've seen before if they make sense and are well done, and that's what I saw here.
The amazon blurb mentions this being something of "a romance between two people who aren't sure they like each other", but I wouldn't want people to think of this as a classic teen romance, just for girls. Zoe has a crush, but there are no "acts" of romance and it's not all about "How can I get him to like me?" I definitely am going to suggest that my twin 13 year old boys read this - it is NOT particularly girly, though it's told from Zoe's first person view. (Zoe acknowledges that she's "one of the guys" herself.) There might be a couple of more mentions of outfits than boys would care about, but mostly, it's a mystery/adventure/comedy, and I know they'd enjoy it. I laughed out loud more than once, and I would definitely recommend this to 7th grade and up. The content is not too R rated for middle schoolers. (But do be warned, there is a sleazy gyneocologist and the plot does involve some drug dealers. No drugs are taken. No alcohol consumption by teens.)
As they work through the mystery and the maze of high school, we see some growth and different aspects to not just the three main characters, but some of the more minor ones, as well. The end is satisfying (I like my mysteries to be solved, thank you,) but the book does end on a bit of a teaser. I hope that it means we might be seeing Zoe, Digby, and Henry again, along with their interesting pool of friends.I highly recommend this one.
This book is scheduled to be released in August. I was provided a free ARC by amazon.com in exchange for review, but I suggest running out to get it when it comes out!
Thursday, June 4, 2015
Back in the early 90's, I was a dedicated romance reader. I still have fondness for and reread some of my favorites from time to time, though I now tend to go for the more mystery/thriller romance combinations. Back in those days, Jude Deveraux was a "buy it as soon as it comes out" author for me, but I haven't read a new book of hers in years.
When I was offered this book for pre-release review, nostalgia made me take it, and I'm glad I did. This is certainly being released at the right time - perfect easy summer beachy read. But when I got it, I hadn't realized it was the third book of a trilogy, and I just knew I wouldn't enjoy it as much without having read the other two. So, off to the library I went, and I've now devoured all three books in the last four days.
This particular book is about Hallie, a newly minted physical therapist who has suddenly inherited a house on Nantucket from that plot-saving unknown rich uncle, and Jamie, who has a skiing related bum knee and has thousands of cousins/siblings/etc. who set him up as her private client. Old fans of Deveraux will not be surprised that his last name is Taggart.
Hallie's stepsister is somewhat evil, and Jamie is hiding something more than a jet-setter's bum knee. Oh, and there are ghosts. ;) But, no one's life is in danger, no one is in a lot of trouble with the law... These (because all three are the same type) are just good old, (not even "will they or won't they?" but "how will they?") love stories.
The first two books (also obviously set on Nantucket) also deal with all manner of Montgomery-Taggart relations, and some other ghosts.They're fun, and I found them all to be charming, easy reads. Ms. Deveraux is clearly enchanted with Nantucket, and her descriptions are beautiful, though I admit that her characters' disdain for tourists makes me a little scared to go be one. :D
This last story would have probably stood alone better than I anticipated. Many trilogy romances seem to take the whole first book to set up, then shortchange the first story by the set up, and the second two stories by needing to keep us updated on the first couple. These were definitely pretty standalone, with some characters in common, but not having the "old" couples crowding the new story out. There is one character that you won't understand if you don't read the first one first, but it might not even matter.
Jamie and Hallie are a likeable couple, and while - since this IS romance - you figure they'll end up together, it kept me interested to see how it happened. A return of a few Montgomery/Taggarts that even I (after all these years) recognized was enough to make me smile and nod, without them taking over the storyline. The dialog rings true, I didn't question motives of the characters, and all in all, it's a very nice easy romance read for those who prefer their love stories to be just that, without murder or international spies or... ;) You get the drift.
I would recommend reading the trilogy in order, in part only because they are all good reads, but also because while this book stood alone better than I anticipated, my appreciation was clearly richer for having read all three.
This book should be released on or about July 1st.