Thursday, May 21, 2009

Creature of the Night by Kate Thompson

Bobby is a rebellious teen. His (probably abusive) angry single mom and his half brother Dennis and he have moved to a house a couple hours outside of Dublin Ireland to escape Bobby's supposed friends for whom he steals cars and with whom he smokes weed and tries various drugs. They are also trying to escape bill collection agencies. The cottage has been unoccupied for quite some time. There are rumors of murders and the like. This is Ireland where fairies, leprechauns and the like abound so the wee folk are also suspected in two known disappearances. Thus the enticing title Creature of the Night. A wee woman dressed in a plaid flannel shirt like that worn in the picture of one of the missing persons visits Dennis, Bobby's brother during the night. She has a like of small bowls of milk, chocolates, pink/yellow cakes. At least with Dennis she is not at all frightening and really only a minor part of the total story. What is going on with Dennis, the mother and the wee woman are merely backdrop for the story of Bobby's coming of age. In spite of himself he has grown to enjoy working on the neighboring farm. He is required to do this to pay for an auto he stole and ultimately destroyed. He seems to believe he has to maintain his bad boy image though. So every time things start going better he goes of on a drinking spree with stolen money. I must say I wearied of descriptions of puking and hangovers. If his mother would just get wise things would go better. Right at the end the body of one of the missing persons is found, an investigation is underway, Bobby's mom moves back to Dublin and Bobby is still at loose ends. Fast forward 14 years to the epilogue and things are more or less resolved, but I don't think so. I think this was a cop out for not properly ending the book. I've no idea at the end how Bobby has grown or not, or how mom and other son are faring or if the new owners of the cottage are visited by the wee woman or, or... The nod to horror is just a hook to get people to buy and possibly read a mediocre book. This author has written better books, unfortunately many people who know her other work will purchase this expecting more of the same quality.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fake Boyfriend by Kate Brian

How far would you go to help a friend get over a breakup? Creating a fictional new boyfriend for her might be considered an extreme, but that's exactly what happens in this predictable, yet enjoyable novel.

Izzy's boyfriend Shawn has been nothing but heartache, yet she keeps going back to him. When he cheats on her right before prom, her friends say "Enough is enough!" Desperate to ensure that she doesn't take him back like she's done in the past, her friends Vivi and Lane create the perfect man on Myspace and lure Vivi's brother Marshall into playing him online. Soon Izzy is connecting with "Brandon" and they realize if he's supposed to take her to prom, there needs to be a physical "Brandon." In walks Jonathan who they mold into the perfect man. The only problem, though, is that Vivi seems to like Jonathan. On top of that, Vivi's demanding personality is preventing Lane from going after the man she likes, her friend Curtis. What happens if Izzy finds out the truth? How can "Brandon" end things with Izzy without breaking her heart? Will all find love in the end? Is it possible that these friends have gone too far in helping their friend?

There's not much to say about the book since it was a typical chick flick. The ending is predictable, but there's something reassuring in that. It's nice to take comfort in the happily ever afters since it sometimes feels like there are so few of those out there. The story is cute, even if the situations are formulaic. The characters are complex and ones you can relate to.

Overall, it's a fast and enjoyable read. It's definitely something nice to pick up for a lazy summer afternoon.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Paper Towns by John Green

Margo Roth Spiegleman and Quentin had been playmates and neighbors as kids. In high school though Margo was a popular cheerleader and party goer. Quentin was quiet, studious, geeky and prone to being bullied. Until the night, shortly before graduation when Margo climbed into Quentin's bedroom through the window and asked him to go with him to do 11 things before the night was over. Some possibly illegal. It was a wild time in which both learned much about their secret lives and desires. After it was over, Margo vanished. She'd vanished before, each time leaving a trail of odd clues to unravel. Quentin decides to decipher the clues and find Margo. But, they seem to point to suicide and he fears he will instead find a body. As Quentin searches he learns more about Margo Roth Spiegleman the real girl behind the fake facade he thought he loved. This just won the Edgar Mystery Award for the teen age group. It is a touching, sad sad story. Read it!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Creature of the night by Kate Thompson

I've been mislead before after reading the reviews on the back of book, but never so badly as I was in this novel. There was nothing gripping or thrilling in this book and it was far from marvelous. Maybe something got lost in translation since it's from Ireland because this book was a struggle to get through. (Yes, I know this book hasn't been translated since they speak English in Ireland, but there has to be some sort of miscommunication if this book is seen as thrilling and marvelous.)

The main character, Bobby, is a troubled teen who enjoys robbing people, stealing cars, getting drunk and doing drugs. When his mother moves the family to the country, all he wants to do is return to Dublin, which his does after stealing a car. After a friend wrecks the car and beats up a man, Bobby ends up back in the country and is forced to work off the debt of the car. In the meantime he's still stealing from his mother and arguing about money and sneaking off to Dublin when he isn't moping about wanting to return, although he is really getting interested in fixing cars which is a step in the right direction. Something "strange" seems to be going on with his younger brother who claims to see a little woman but that's a minor detail in the novel. At the same time, the family had been told to leave a bowl of milk out for the fairies and then Bobby learns that someone had been murdered in the house and the previous renter suddenly went missing, but all of that is taken with a grain of salt, although the stories do seem to bother Bobby late at night (but I don't particularly see why he's so scared because the novel doesn't build it up that much).

I was 200 pages into the book and still wondering when things would get thrilling. I felt like a good 150 of it was about him farming or stealing and it just seemed to go on and on. I don't really care how you're supposed to use a scythe or mow the lawn! As for the little woman that his brother keeps seeing (I think that was supposed to be the thrilling part of the story), she kept taking a back page. 10 pages of farming and arguing with his mother, one page about the little woman. There were maybe 10 pages worth of thrilling information when they figured out what happened to the previous renter, but then it went back to the pointless stuff. I would have given up on this book a lot sooner if I didn't have high hopes of something thrilling and marvelous happening, but it NEVER came! What's so bad about it is that it had potential but it was buried under all of the hay that Bobby baled. Give me more little woman and missing renters and less farming and you might have had a good novel.

I wanted to believe in this book that there was something good to come, but my faith in the reviews let me down, big time. If this book had been marketed differently, like about a troubled teen finding his way down the right path, it might have been a good book, but it wasn't shown in that light. Don't be misled! Read this as a warning that this book isn't as gripping or thrilling as the reviews say. Don't make the same mistake and hold onto the hope that it will get better, because it doesn't.