Here's what I read last month:
Review on the PDL Staff Choices blog
A teenage girl named Charlotte Silver, whose parents are paranormal investigators, is just trying to be normal. When popular football player Harris Abbott shows sudden interest in her, she thinks things may finally be normal in her life. Then strange things start happening at school after she attends a "One Hundred Candles" party. (Kids sit around a circle telling stories of paranormal situations they heard of or experienced themselves, and light a candle for each story until they get to 100.) Will her parents investigate? Are they truly paranormal events? There is a good twist at the end of this book. Entertaining, if not life-changing!
In a desolate future, there is a virus that renders people infertile after about 20 years old. Teenagers are the only hope for procreation, and many go amateur or pro (complete with corporate sponsorship!) and sell their babies (or "deliveries" as they call them) to the highest bidder. "Pregging" is almost a sport, and girls compete for the most deliveries and the best sponsors. Drugs have made the whole experience completely forgettable. There is no bonding whatsoever between mother and child. This is the story of a girl who goes pro, then finds out she has an identical twin sister who grew up in a religious community. Just when she is about to be paired with Jondoe, the most sought-after stud, her world is turned upside down. This was funny and thought-provoking. I hope there is a sequel!
I thought I'd try a sci-fi novel, and this is a classic. I hated it. I hated the whole thing, start to finish. I listened to it on audio and it just seemed kind of dumb to me. The children seemed like creepy tiny adults. Maybe it was because the voice of Ender was read by a man with a very deep voice that I could not visualize him as a six-year-old. Ender's brother and sister, Peter and Valentine, were equally precocious and unbelievable. If children are to save the planet from the buggers, I guess these are the kids to do it, but I could not get into the idea or the book. I only gave it two stars instead of one because I recognize that it is a classic and has stood the test of time. Sci-fi readers seem to appreciate it.
This is the sequel to Shanghai Girls, which I loved. Joy is the daughter of the Shanghai Girls (May gave birth to her and Pearl raised her). She has run off to China to help with the Communist Revolution. She believes she can help create the New Society, but is sorely disappointed. This is raw, depressing, and real. Great book! Not as good as Shanghai Girls, but still worth reading for sure.
I wanted to read another book to cure my literature snobbery. I had never read a book by Sandra Brown, but definitely judged her harshly and unfairly. This was probably not the best book to choose by her, though. It is historical fiction, which is not her typical story. I really liked this book! Mr. Rainwater shows up at Ella's boarding house, looking for a place to live his last days. He has been diagnosed with cancer, and asks only for discretion from Ella. Times are hard in Texas, with racism and the Depression thwarting any possible success from the locals. Mr. Rainwater is especially helpful and loyal to the townspeople, as well as to Ella's autistic son. This book was touching and emotional.