Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bewitching Season

By Marissa Doyle
Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fiction
Rating: 3 1/2 stars

Persephone (Persy) and Penelope (Pen) Leland are twin girls ready to face their first "coming out" season in pre-Victorian age London, a husband-hunting jaunt that Persy finds particularly nervewracking to contemplate. But these twins are no ordinary girls--they are both able to do magic and have, in fact, been taking magic lessons with their governess for years--a fact they are proud of, but must keep hidden from everyone else. But then, right before they get to London, their governess Ally disappears--supposedly on private business, but both girls and Ally's family get the sense that she was taken somewhere against her will. They trace her whereabouts to Kensington Palace where the queen-to-be, Victoria, lives. But how could they possibly find a way to search the palace? And why would Ally be there in the first place? Add to this mystery Lochnivar, a childhood friend of the family, who Persy finds herself falling firmly in love with. But convinced he may be interested in her twin, Persy casts a love spell and is dismayed to find it actually seems to be working! She doesn't really want Lochnivar to love her against his will--so miserably, she does her best to put him off. While Persy and Pen work through the London season of balls and parties, they also do their best to find Ally and soon discover that when they do, it will put themselves in grave danger as well. Readers who particularly like talk of dresses and outfits will especially be happy with the portions of the book devoted to such chat, while those who enjoy the plot will be interested to see how and where the story ends. With magic and romance in heavy helpings, many a girl will enjoy this book.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Catching Fire

By Suzanne Collins
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 4 3/4 stars

This is the second book in the Hunger Games series and we pick up where the first book left off. Now that Peeta and Katniss have won the games, they are living privileged lives in beautiful homes with plenty to eat. But Katniss feels hollow--she has no purpose, no reason to sneak into the woods and hunt, and Peeta will barely look at her after he learned about her pretense of love during the games. And her relationship with Gale is even more confusing--is there romance there or not? Then President Snow pays a call on Katniss to inform her that rebellion has been brewing in the other Districts due to the way she showed up the government during the games. He threatens the lives of everyone she cares about if she can't calm the masses during her and Peeta's victory tour and convince him and the world that she and Peeta are truly in love. Katniss does her best, but is sickened by the government's deathgrip on the people who seem buoyed up by her appearances, even wearing her mockingjay pin symbol themselves. But her best is not enough, and President Snow has another trick up his sleeve--a trick that promises to bring about the end of Katniss and everything she holds dear. Readers MUST have finished The Hunger Games to have a prayer of following this story, but it is well worth everyone's while for this series continues to be brutal, intense, psychological and downright mesmerizing as we follow Katniss down to the cliffhanger of an ending that will have fans panting for book 3.


By John Feinstein
Genre: Sports Story (baseball)
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

Fans of Stevie and Susan Carol, the young sportswriters, will be thrilled to see them return to investigate another mystery at a major sporting event. This time, the pair are at the World Series, covering the Washington Nationals versus the Boston Red Sox. Stevie quickly realizes that Norbert Doyle, a late call up of a minor league pitcher--is a great story and manages to catch an interview with him and his kids before the big news breaks--Norbert is actually going to be a starter in the World Series! In his interview, Doyle mentions that his wife was killed by a drunk driver years ago, but when Stevie and Susan Carol hear a slightly different story, wheels begin to turn in their heads. Then Doyle's son David confides something in Susan Carol that she is not at liberty to repeat and even through Stevie's jealousy, he realizes something isn't quite right about Doyle and his story. Bobby Kelleher, Stevie's mentor, sends him down to Lynchburg, Virginia to dig up the truth of the car accident and as he digs into Doyle's past, the details become more and more confused. What really did happen on the night that Norbert Doyle's wife died, and why is it being covered up? And what should Stevie and Susan Carol do about it? Plenty of baseball fills in the action around this bit of investigative reporting, and readers will be reluctant to put the book down. A good sports read!