Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Mini Reviews: Ghost Child, Dash and Lily and Jade Green

I only managed to finish two books while I was away (in my downtime in the hotel, I tended to be totally distracted by the trashtasticness that is TLC). I also finished one right before I left for the USA and didn't have time to review it. But because I finished them all couple of weeks ago (I've been slowly reading The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens since then) and Im still kinda in holiday mode (well, my brain is, at least), Ive decided not to do full reviews on these ones. Here are some general thoughts, instead!

Ghost Child by Caroline Overington
The gist: Told from multiple perspectives, it follows the fallout of a young boy's death and the effect it has on all involved, from the police who investigated the crime and arrested the boy's mother and her boyfriend; to his siblings, who are rumoured to be less innocent than they seem; to the foster families that take them in after their family falls apart. 
My thoughts: I read this for Aussie Author Month but, as I mentioned, with all the craziness of preparing for my trip/a month off work, I didn't have time to review it. I DID, however, make time to read it, because I literally couldn't put it down (I'm talking book in one hand, trying to pack with the other). I was tempted a few times to read the last page, because I was dying to know what really went down that caused the boy to die, but I'm so glad I didn't. The twists and turns and the varying points of view of the same event - and it's after-effects - were completely compelling. Overington does a remarkable job of creating a unique voice for each character and crafting a suspenseful and intriguing plot. I'd definitely recommend it if you love a good mystery and a character-driven story. 4/5

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
The gist: Dash is spending Christmas in self-imposed solitude - until he finds a red notebook on the shelf of his favourite New York bookstore, The Strand, and dares to follow the instructions inside from a mysterious girl, Lily. To Lily's surprise, he leaves a dare of his own, and what ensues is a completely cute epistolary romance that leads both Dash and Lily to discover more about the amazing city of New York, each other, and, of course, themselves (aw)!
My thoughts: This was a really fun read, made doubly so by the fact that I read it during my trip to NYC and could picture, right down to the bookshelf, Dash and Lily on their travels. It totally made me wish I could have a book of dares with someone, though I don't know if I'd be game enough to follow through in real life. I loved Lily - loved that she was quirky but not in an off-putting way, loved that she loved to bake and read, loved that she loved her family, and loved that she LOVED Christmas. Dash took awhile for me to warm to - he was a tad snarky for my liking, and I like snark - but he came good in the end. It was refreshing to read a relatively angst-free, triangle-free teen romance! 4/5

Jade Green: A Ghost Story by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
The gist: Set in the 1800s (I think, it's never specific), the orphaned Judith is taken in by her uncle on the condition that she doesn't bring anything green into the house. Judith thinks one little green photo frame, with her mother's picture in it, won't do any harm... until she starts hearing and seeing spooky things. She begins to wonder if she's being haunted by her uncle's previous ward, Jade Green, who died by her own hand (or did she?! DUN DUN DUNNNN).
My thoughts: I picked this up randomly at a secondhand bookstore in NYC, because it looked like a quick, easy read and I haven't read a good ghost story in aaaaaaages. Well, it was a quick, easy read - perfect for a holiday - but unfortunately it wasn't very scary. Mainly because it was completely predictable, even if Judith was a bit slow on the uptake (wake up, girl!). Although the year is never explicitly stated, it's implied to be set in "ye olde times", so I found the language and some of the characters' actions to be a bit jarring and inauthentic; for instance, the way everyone addressed everybody else - even people they'd just met, and elders - by their first names just seemed off to me. It wasn't terrible, but it definitely wasn't great. 2/5

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