Friday, July 31, 2009

Wings

WINGS
Aprilynne Pike
HarperTeen, 2009. 294 p. Young Adult

What if you awoke one morning and noticed an odd blemish on your back? But instead of disappearing after the usual timeframe, it started growing until it reached the size of a large tumor and eventually sprouted…into WINGS—gorgeous, soft, petal-like wings. At fifteen, Laurel doesn’t want to stand out from her new classmates but this is going to be difficult to hide. Not daring to tell her adoptive parents, she enlists the help of her new friend David, who discovers Laurel just might be an actual Faerie.

Twilight
addicts rejoice--with an endorsement by Stephenie Meyer, how can fans resist this read-a-like faerie tale adventure? It looks like Pike has written the next big read and with its cliff-hanger ending, the series has just begun.

DAP

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Redeeming Love

Redeeming Love
By Francine Rivers
Recorded Books, 1997. Book on Tape. Romance

Redeeming Love is a Christian historical romance. Francine Rivers reinterprets the biblical story of Hosea and sets the story in the gold rush of California, in the late 1850s. The story is told from the perspective of beautiful Angel, a young jaded prostitute. Sold as a child, Angel hates and distrusts all men. Michael Hosea is virtuous and handsome young farmer. He is told by God to marry Angel, the “soiled dove.” Only after Angel tries to leave her life of prostitution and is beaten to the point of death does she agree. Michael patiently teaches Angel to live a normal life and learn to love and trust again. Angel has difficulty in all her relationships, as a friend, neighbor, and wife.

This novel is much deeper and thoughtful than one might think at first glance. The psychology is legitimate and faithful to the horrors of Angel’s early life. Although this book could be categorized as a romance due to Michael and Angel’s relationship, it is certainly not the story of a life romanticized. There are adult themes in the novel dealing with child prostitution and incest. However, the spiritual themes of love and forgiveness are beautifully portrayed. I am glad I listened to this as a recording. The only drawback was that sometimes I didn’t know if a character’s dialogue was a thought process or spoken aloud. Because I listened to this and it went more slowly, I became profoundly involved with the plot and agonized and rejoiced right along with all the characters.

ALC

Countess Below Stairs

Countess Below Stairs
By Eva Ibbotson
Speak, 2007. 383 pgs. Young Adult

Anna, a young Russian Countess, finds herself and her family poverty stricken and friendless in England after they escaped the Russian Revolutionists. Determined to make her way in the world and not rely on the charity of others, she acquires a position as a servant in the home of the respected Westerholme family. Her cheerful attitude, endearing confidence, and determination to earn her wage wins the hearts of the entire staff and even the family soon find themselves drawn to her, particularly the young, and newly engaged, Earl himself.

If you are looking for a light young adult read with endearing characters and a very satisfactory ending, this may be the perfect novel for you!

CZ

Act of Treason

Act of Treason
By Vince Flynn
Atria Books, 2006. 415 pgs. Fiction

An attempt on the life of a presidential candidate concludes with the death of the his wife and several members of the Secret Service. The head of the CIA decides to bring in a somewhat rogue agent, Mitch Rapp, to investigate some evidence that points to a conspiracy far darker than what the initiation reports indicated.

I picked up this book on a bit of a whim and had never read anything else by the author. About halfway through the book I realized that Mitch Rapp is a recurring character for Vince Flynn and decided I should have started with his first novel in the series. The story was intriguing, the pace quick, and the plot had its share of twists and turns, but I definitely missed any kind of character development at all. This series would probably appeal to Baldacci and Patterson fans.

CZ

Finger Lickin’ Fifteen

Finger Lickin’ Fifteen
By Janet Evanovich
St. Martin’s Press, 2009. 308 pgs. Mystery

Stephanie Plum once again finds herself surrounded by insanity and danger. Her hefty sidekick Lula is the sole eyewitness to a brutal beheading and is being chased by the cleaver carrying murderer. Add to that a strange series of burglaries connected to Ranger’s security company and the usual assortment of bail bond skips and you have Janet Evanovich’s newest mystery.

As usual, all situations described in this novel are completely ridiculous and unlikely. But I have a really hard time caring when they are so entertaining. If you have already become addicted to the series, this one will not disappoint!

CZ

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wildwood Dancing

WILDWOOD DANCING
by Juliet Marillier
Knopf, 2008. 407 pages. Young Adult

Marillier has taken the fairy tale of the Frog prince and set it in Transylvania. The story revolves around three daughters (one with a magical pet frog) struggling to become young women, who enter a fairy world every full moon to dance and play. What starts off as a happy romp soon turns into dire circumstances as the girl's father becomes ill, and their autocratic cousin does his best to control their every move.

I listened to this story and it was a great audiobook. The female reader used different voices, and I was able to completely suspend my disbelief even with the male voices and various accents.

One for the Money

One for the Money
By Janet Evanovich
Scribners, 1994. 320 pgs. Mystery

In the first title of the Stephanie Plum series, Stephanie has been laid off from her job as a lingerie buyer and is in need of a job. Desperation makes her resort to working for her cousin as a bounty hunter. As she tries to track down Joe Morelli, a cop wanted for murder--whom Stephanie just happens to know from her childhood and teenage years--she finds herself over her head. She has no experience, Morelli just might not be guilty, and Stephanie attracts the very unwelcome attention of the diabolical boxer Benito Ramirez.

The idea of a form lingerie-buyer turned bounty hunter seems a bit ridiculous, but that's part of the enjoyment of the book. The fact that Stephanie doesn't know what she's doing helps make her an endearing character. Some readers will be turned off by some of the language and content, but others will delight in the fun characters, fast-paced plot, and comedic moments.

AE

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Prom

Prom
By Laurie Halse Anderson
Viking, 2005. 215 pgs. Young Adult

Ashley Hannigan, self-proclaimed "normal" girl, doesn't care about prom. She cares about ditching detention, making plans to move away from her crazy but loving family, and moving in with her boyfriend, TJ. When the prom advisor steals the prom money, though, Ashley is caught up by as her best friend Nat tries to save the prom. Along the way, Ashley discovers maybe she cares about the prom--and her future--more than she originally thought.

While this is not my favorite of Laurie Halse Anderson's books, it is still a good book. Ashley is a likable character, rough around the edges and still discovering herself. From the title, one might expect a fluffy, happy story, but this book definitely has some bite to it, and it's much more a story of discovering one's self than a story about a dance.

AE

Monday, July 27, 2009

North and South

North and South
By Elizabeth Gaskell
Penguin Books, 2003. 452 pgs. Fiction

When Margaret Hale's father decides he can no longer be a clergyman in the Church of England, he also decides to move his family from Helstone, in southern England, to Milton, an industrial town in northern England. There he finds work as a private tutor for some of the rough manufacturers who want to improve themselves. One of his pupils, John Thornton, is a highly respected mill owner, yet despite his good reputation and her father's good opinion of him, Margaret cannot bring herself to like Mr. Thorton or respect anyone in the trade industry. Margaret also becomes acquainted with some of the working class in Milton and finds herself learning about both the masters' and the workers' sides when a strike breaks out. She also deals with personal tragedies, and as time passes, she learns lessons about the worth of a person and overcomes her bias in favor of the South to realize that both North and South have their disadvantages and their benefits.

Originally published in 1855, this book is an Oxford World Classic and will likely be popular with fans of the Brontes. The depictions of class relationships in Victorian society are interesting and well-explored. The main characters are real and appealingly complete, with positive traits and flaws alike. Their individual growth as well as their influence and relationships with one another are also interesting. The romantic tension between Mr. Thornton and Margaret is well-developed and satisfying, without taking over the entire plot, as they resist, misunderstand, and frustrate one another and themselves.

AE

Heartbeat

Heartbeat
By Sharon Creech
Harper Collins, 2004. 180 pgs. Young Adult

Twelve-year-old Annie loves to run, just for the sake of running and the stable rhythm. While she runs, she is able to think about things, like her mother's pregnancy, her grandfather's mental decline, and her best friend and running partner, Max. While the running provides stability, other things in her life, such as her art assignment to draw an apple each day for one hundred days, teach her about the ebb and flow of life.

A wonderful novel-in-verse with a likable, insightful protagonist, this book was very enjoyable. The vivid descriptions are one highlight of the book. I listened to this on CD and enjoyed the narrator; reading it for myself was also a good experience.

AE

Where the Long Grass Blows

Where the Long Grass Blows
By Louis L’Amour
Bantam Books, 1976. 213 pgs. Fiction

Bill Canavan drifted down the valley and into a shooting war. The big ranchers were rustlers turned respectable. Now they were fighting with each other. In the middle was a small spread and a woman. Canavan had a mind to stay so he staked a claim. And when the gun hands were gone he'd have everything he wanted--the land, the water. . .and the woman.

I enjoyed reading this book by classic western author Louis L’Amour. The book was fast paced and kept my interest. I really felt like I was a part of the land and setting because of L’Amour’s excellent descriptions. I would recommend this book to men and women alike.

AMM

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Along for the Ride

Along for the Ride
By Sarah Dessen
Viking, 2009. 383 pgs. Young Adult

After graduating from high school, studious insomniac Auden has the summer free and decides to go visit her father, step-mother, and new half sister. During the summer, she realizes that perhaps she has missed out on some things while focusing on her studies. She meets fellow insomniac Eli, who helps her begin to experience the little things in life that she's never done before. Auden also has to deal with some new realizations about her parents, herself, and life.

This book was a pleasure to read. Auden is a likable, well-developed character; her ignorance in all things social is believable and humorous. Supporting characters are wonderful as well. The themes of growth, friendship, and facing your fears are all interesting. I absolutely loved all aspects of this book; plot, characters, and style are all superb.

AE

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
Katherine Howe
Hyperion, 2009. 371 pgs. Fiction

Do not be put off by the occasionally overwrought prose of Katherine Howe's first novel because by and by that gives way to a crackerjack of a story based on the startling premise that some of the supposed "witches" of the Salem trials were actually "cunning women" with gifts for healing, herbology, and divination, gifts which are manifest in their posterity in the latter day.
Constance (Connie) Goodwin, a graduate student studying Colonial American History at Harvard is trying to get her grandmother's home ready for sale at the same time she is being hounded by a real demon of an adviser to research and propose a dissertation topic. As Connie sorts through her grandmother's things she finds a key and a parchment fragment which hints at the existence of a physick or shadow book belonging to Deliverance Dane, an original and previously unknown source work perfect for her studies. Alternating narratives trace Connie's hunt for the book and Livvy's life in the 1690s of the Salem witch trials. Howe (herself a PhD candidate in American and New England studies) shines in the historical story and the book is filled with a fascinating wealth of information about Puritan life and thought, the politics of the past and the scholarship of the present. A slightly corny (but essential) love story rounds out this memorable tale of the crackling edge between the natural and the supernatural, and all those things that "are not dreamt of in our philosophy."

LW

Patriotic Grace: What it is and Why we Need it Now

Patriotic Grace: What it is and Why we Need it Now
Peggy Noonan
Harper, 2008. 192 pgs. Nonfiction.

Noonan, a conservative political commentator and former speechwriter for President Reagan, argues for a much-needed return to civility, respect, and mutual regard in this slim but well-argued volume. Her thesis is that the 9/11 attacks "brought us together in a way not seen since World War II" but that the "stresses and divisions" of the Bush presidency have driven us apart and to extremes. Using as her starting point the false alarm when the Capitol was evacuated during President Reagan's viewing, she rightly points out that there will be times of trouble in the future when we will "all be running down the steps together" and that we need to prepare for those times not only with practical civil defense initiatives now, but with a greater willingness to really listen to one another and to agree to disagree with civility and restraint. Such a welcome relief from divisive rants of snark "journalism."

LW

Monday, July 20, 2009

How Do I Love Thee?

How Do I Love Thee?
Nancy Moser
Bethany House, 2009. 364 pgs. Fiction

Who doesn’t appreciate a good love story? One of the most famous romances of all time was that of the reclusive Elizabeth Barrett and her fellow poet, Robert Browning. Due to a mysterious and wasting illness, Elizabeth was confined to her bedchamber for decades. However, her creative genius remained largely unhampered and she found liberation in her poetry and the correspondence she conducted with the famous men and women of letters in her generation. Her most satisfying friendship was formed when Robert Browning began a written courtship with Elizabeth. Their poetic romance and the clandestine relationship that ensued provided us with some of the more remarkable love poetry ever written. This historical novel is a nicely written account of their story.

It was fascinating to discover that the love poetry Elizabeth wrote while corresponding to her future husband was only shown to him years after their marriage when Robert was experiencing a severe depression and artistic dearth.

If readers are unfamiliar with the usual Bethany House publications, they can expect to find the accustomed fare: a gentle, wholesome romance with plenty of biblical inclusions and strong Christian overtones with the additional bonus of a well-researched, historical milieu.

DAP

A Trusting Heart

A Trusting Heart
By Shannon Guymon
Bonneville Books, 2002. 185 pgs. Fiction

Megan Garrett has gone from being a popular high school cheerleader to living the quiet life as a less-than-successful real estate agent. When she attends her high school class's ten-year reunion, she has to face her ex-fiance Dylan, who is still humiliated by her rejection. She also encounters Trevor Riley, former seminary president, now multimillionaire, who shocks her when he kisses her. From then on, her life begins to change as she becomes involved with Trevor, deals with Dylan, and faces other challenges in her life.

This is a feel-good, happy ending book, although it may take some readers an extra dose of willing suspension of disbelief to overlook the speed and ease of resolution of all difficulties and to enjoy wealthy Trevor as the romantic hero; oftentimes, his money appears to be the one thing he has going for him. Although it's written for the LDS market, the LDS elements are not overwhelming and it may be enjoyed by other readers as well.

AE

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ruth

Ruth
By Elizabeth Gaskell
Oxford University Press, 1985. 458 pgs. Fiction

Young, naive and orphaned, Ruth Hilton is easily led astray by wealthy, handsome Mr. Bellingham. When he abandons her in Wales, pregnant with his child, a kindly elderly brother and sister, Mr. and Miss Benson, take her home to England. They convince her to pose as a widow, hoping to spare her and her child the shame and trials that would be inflicted on an unwed mother and her illegitimate child. As much as Ruth tries to put her past behind her, she is still haunted by it and eventually must come to face it and deal with the consequences.

First published in 1853, Ruth is considered an Oxford World Classic. The book has likable characters, a few plot twists, and many themes to consider, including sin and redemption. Although the reader may feel distanced from Ruth, not quite pulled into her character as with some other heroines, the book still invokes sympathy and thoughtfulness. It is tender and sad and yet satisfying at the same time.

AE

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Life on the refrigerator door

Life on the refrigerator door
By Alice Kuipers
HarperCollins, 2007. 220 pgs. Fiction

Claire and her mother are running out of time, but they don't know it. They rarely find themselves in the same room at the same time, and it often seems that the only thing they can count on are notes to each other on the refrigerator door. When home is threatened by a crisis, their relationship experiences a momentous change. Forced to reevaluate the delicate balance between their personal lives and their bond as mother and daughter, Claire and her mother find new love and devotion for one another deeper than anything they had ever imagined.

This is a quick read as the book is written in note format. I enjoyed this heart wrenching story of love and family.

AMM

The Season

The Season
By Sarah MacLean
Orchard Books, 2009. 343 pgs. Young Adult.

Alexandra Stafford, only daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Worthington, dreads coming out this season and being a commodity on the marriage market. Relieved that her good friends, Ella and Vivi, (also ladies) will be there with her, the three intelligent (and, in more private company, quite outspoken) young women avoid all the events of the season as best as they can. They soon become entangled in intrigue when Earl Blackmoor dies and his young son Gavin, Alex’s good friend and pseudo-brother, becomes the earl. Gavin is convinced his father was murdered and after Ella overhears a conversation about the elder Earl’s death, the three young ladies set out to find who killed him and to save Gavin from a similar fate. Of course, Alex and Gavin have many encounters along the way which help Alex realize her true feelings for him.

In the acknowledgements, MacLean says that this book is “at its core, a story about the power of female friendship.” While the friendship is important to the storyline, this is, first and foremost, a romance with some adventure and mystery thrown in the mix. Although hampered by an unfortunate cover, I enjoyed this mostly fun trip through regency England. Readers beware: even though it happens in this book, I don’t think teenage girls in this time period said “forever” with the same emphasis and exaggeration that teenage girls today do.

MN

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Get Real

Get Real
Donald Westlake
Grand Central Publishing, 2009. 278 pgs. Mystery/Humor

Westlake's latest is a ball of laughs and a veil of tears because it is one of John Dortmunder's funniest caper novels ever, but also his last (Donald Westlake died of a heart attack in
January). Who more deserving of taking one on the kisser than the producers of reality TV? In this book, Doug Fairkeep, said producer, discovers from Stan's mother, the cabbie, that Stan is a wheel man for a gang of thieves. Since The Stand, his current series involving roadside fruit sellers has run into problems, what better than a series showing real live crooks stealing stuff? At first Dortmunder and the gang are opposed because, really, what keeps the cops from watching a show like that? Things are "worked out" and the boys plan their next heist on camera, all the while eyeing a better target they can hit off camera. Get Real is laugh out loud funny throughout, a worthy ending to Westlake's brilliant career. How he will be missed.

LW

Monday, July 13, 2009

In the Sanctuary of Outcasts

In the Sanctuary of Outcasts: a memoir
Neil White
William Morrow, c2009. 316 pgs. Biography

Neil White convinced himself his ‘creative check writing’ was simply an inspired financial plan; he didn’t realize it would land him in a federal penitentiary and expose him to leprosy. But through a bizarre coincidence, White was sentenced to an old plantation in Louisiana that housed both minimum security prisoners and the last leper colony in the continental US. 15 years after his release he tells his story with honesty and candor.

The Leprosarium was this journalist's salvation, and with superb readability and genuine insight White discovers his rightful place among society’s exiles. Amazingly funny, its colorful cast of inmates will greatly amuse the reader, but the most poignant moments are found in the friendships he clandestinely forms with the leper patients and the lessons he sorely needs to learn. A completely unique, astonishing read.

Admittedly, a favorite scene was the condition of the prison library, where a warden with a fondness for order decreed that all books be arranged with precision—according to book size. Some of the mastermind criminals would surreptitiously re-arrange the books according to author while staying within the height requirement. These were the brave few, who risked a lengthened sentence if their perfidy was discovered.

* Conservative readers might be offended by the strong, street language used by several inmates.

DAP

Friday, July 10, 2009

Murder at the Academy Awards

Murder at the Academy Awards: a Red Carpet Murder Mystery
Joan Rivers w/ Jerrilyn Farmer
Pocket Books, 2009. 311 pgs. Mystery

Joan Rivers presents her definitive autobiography…wait, scratch that, it’s a murder mystery that merely reads as such. She opens with an Academy Awards scene featuring a mother/daughter team reporting on the hottest or nottest fashion choices of all the current A-list stars. Sound familiar? It is.

The only thing that separates fact from fiction in this tell-all is the startling collapse of a freshly-released-from-detox teen starlet who walks down the carpet in her underoos and drops dead just as she delivers a last clue during an exclusive interview with Joan, I mean Max. Now a detoxing starlet hardly seems fictional, but the fact that she was murdered does cross that line. Amidst a blur of Jimmy Choo’s and Michael Kors, Joan/Max must discover who duped the poor girl and bring order back to Hollywood so that shopping can continue as usual. The only serious puzzle is trying to decide just which teen boozer Joan is capitalizing on.

DAP

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
By John Boyne
David Fickling Books, 2006. 216 pgs. Young Adult.

When his father gets an important new assignment with the military, nine-year-old Bruno is forced to move from his beloved Berlin to a desolate place he mistakenly calls "Out-With." Bruno notices that there are hundreds of people living behind a fence, all of whom appear to him to be wearing striped pajamas. On an exploring expedition, Bruno meets one of the pajama-clad boys, Shmuel. Although a fence separates them, the boys quickly become friends.

The story is told as a fable, so characters are not fully developed, but the story is a poignant one. It is told through a limited third person narrator, with the reader needing to read between the lines of Bruno's naive observations. This book is definitely worth reading and worth discussing with others.

AE

The River Between Us

The River Between Us
By Richard Peck
Dial Books, 2003. 164 pgs. Young Adult.

The Pruitt family lives in Grand Tower, Illinois, a town divided between Union and Confederate sympathies. Tilly worries about the time when her twin brother Noah will join the Union army and about her younger sister Cassie whose premonitions always come true. These worries take up Tilly’s time until Delphine and Calinda step off the boat from New Orleans and Tilly’s mother invites the two mysterious young women to live with them. Life changes for the Pruitt family with Delphine and Calinda there and as horrors abound as the Civil War rages on and takes Noah with it. Told in two parts, with Tilly telling her story and her grandson telling the other, Peck packs a lot of emotion into this great historical novel.

I enjoyed listening to this on CD. Lina Patel does a good job of distinguishing between the characters, pulling off Delphine’s New Orleans accent. The young man who narrates the prologue and epilogue ably conveys the growth Tilly’s grandson experiences. All in all, this was a great first audio-book experience for me.

MN

Monday, July 6, 2009

Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus

Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus
By Mary Shelley
Penguin Books, 2003. 273 pgs. Fiction.

Frankenstein's monster reads Milton's Paradise Lost? Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans? I dare say this "monster" is more literate that most college students today. This was just one of the surprises reading Shelley's classic novel. Here you'll find no Igor (or Fritz). No elaborate reanimation scene. No stealing brains from the Goldstadt Medical College. The story line and the manner in which the story is related is completely different than I had expected.

The story is related in letters from Robert Walton to his sister, Margaret Saville. He is a sailor voyaging into the Arctic. He relates in his letters the story told to him by Dr. Frankenstein who is dying of exposure on the ice when rescued by Walton's crew. Frankenstein relates to him the story of his life, focusing, of course, on the "wretch" he had created and the consequent events. What was most interesting about the story is that within Frankenstein's account was the account of the creature itself, as told to Dr. Frankenstein nearly two years after his creation. The monster's story is one of learning of humanity, longing to be part of civilized society, yet complete rejection by his own creator and anyone he meets. It's this rejection that turns the creature into a criminal.

SML

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Actor and the Housewife

The Actor and the Housewife
By Shannon Hale
Bloomsbury, 2009. 339 pgs. Fiction.

Becky Jack, Mormon housewife, while in L.A. to sell a screenplay, meets her favorite actor, droolworthy Felix Callahan. An unlikely friendship ensues, with Becky and Felix quickly becoming best friends. Although their relationship is purely platonic, Becky and Felix are both married to other people, and Becky has to consider how this friendship affects her marriage and family, as well as how it fits with her personal values.

Although the friendship is one that requires the reader to suspend disbelief, the story is a touching one. Becky is a thoughtful character, with challenges and trials that stretch her as a human being. The ending has unexpected twists, which may leave readers feeling slightly unfulfilled. I found this to be the least enjoyable of Hale's works, but the comic interplay between Felix and Becky is particularly amusing. The topic of a friendship between a man and woman who are each married to someone else could be a contraversial one, and the ending could be frustrating to readers, due to a lack of clarity.

AE

The Goose Girl

The Goose Girl
By Shannon Hale
Bloomsbury, 2003. 383 pgs. Young Adult.

Princess Anidori of Kildenree is traveling to Bayern to marry the prince, whom she has never met. On the way, however, her lady-in-waiting and part of the guard betray Ani. Ani is forced to hide, and her lady-in-waiting steals her identity and enters Bayern acting as the princess. Ani disguises herself and finds shelter working as a goose girl, while trying to devise a plan to keep her devious lady-in-waiting from wedding the prince and leading Bayern to war against the unsuspecting Kildenree. Along the way, she discovers true friends, as well as finding strength and ability in herself.

I enjoyed this book, as well as the subsequent books in the series. The plot moves well, and Ani is a likable character; her growth is gradual and belivable. The villans are truly evil and dislikable. The subplots, such as Ani's blossoming romance, tie well into the rest of the book and provide interesting twists. I listened to this book on CD and enjoyed it in that format as well as the print format.

AE

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dandelion Wine

Dandelion Wine
Ray Bradbury
Knopf, 1957. 267 pgs. Science Fiction.

It is the beginning of summer, 1928, in Green Town, Illinois, and Douglas Spaulding is determined to savor every moment. For him, summer begins with some long established rituals like the hanging of the porch swing, the buying of new tennis shoes, and the first harvest of his Grandfather's dandelion wine. This summer he discovers what it is to be alive and also the reality of death.

I read this book right as summer was starting and it was great timing to experience Bradbury's descriptive writing on the wonders of summer. It made me look around and try to determine what sights, smells, or activities represented the beginning of summer for me. The plot was a little meandering but overall I enjoyed it and the characters were very likable.

I started listening to this on CD and soon realized that the Jerry Robbins and the Colonial Radio Players version was vastly different from the book. After going back and finishing the book, I was discussing it with someone who had only listened to the book on CD and we may as well have been discussing two different novels. This was a great, clean, book for a book group with only a few very mild swear words but a lot of things to discuss. This book is found in the Science Fiction section but it seemed like just a normal fiction book to me.

AL