The League of Beastly Dreadfuls by Holly Grant (Juvenile, Fiction)
This is the first book in a planned series and I remember very little about it – not a good sign. A young girl is kidnapped because of special abilities she might have and there is some shape changing involved. I think. The special abilities part isn’t really clear yet. It’s not a scary story in any way, even with the kidnapping, and, if I remember correctly, there’s lots of humor. But it’s not a very good story. I’m always hopeful that I will find a new fantasy series that I love; this one wasn’t it. I gave it three stars because I did like the two main children characters, but I won’t read the rest of the series.
The Dogs of Littlefield by Suzanne Berne (Adult, Fiction)
Someone is killing the dogs in a quaint Massachusetts town where everybody knows your name and nearly everyone has a dog. This novel is billed as a “comedy of manners,” so one might imagine that it’s a tale Jane Austen would write if she were alive today. But I think Austen would have made it funnier. And given us a plot. Instead, the novel takes a “year in the life” approach to the town. Most of the inhabitants are sad and discontented. And so the novel becomes just a sad commentary on life today. I wanted more. I gave it just three stars. (Note that the dog-death total actually is small, but even one dog death is too many.)
Leave Me by Gayle Forman (Adult, Fiction)
Leave Me may be a difficult novel for some. It was for me.* Maribeth, a young harried wife and mother, has a heart attack, though she’s so busy she doesn’t even realize it. While recuperating she comes to feel that she’s not appreciated or helped enough, so she leaves her family. She winds up being pulled, in a sense, to Pittsburgh, where she tries to piece together parts of her life that have been missing. Forman is a well-known young adult writer (I loved her novel If I Stay) and actually a very good writer period. This story has an interesting plot, though it does feel slow-moving at times, realistic characters, and a mostly satisfying ending. I gave it four stars. *I had a hard time with a mom leaving her child.
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier (Juvenile, Fiction, Graphic Novel)
The fun thing about many juvenile graphic novels is you can read them in an hour or so. I read Ghosts one afternoon then gave it to my niece to read and she read it that evening. No overdue books for us! In this heartfelt story, a family moves to a coastal town in northern California where the clean salt air will be better for their young daughter Maya, who is suffering from cystic fibrosis. Older sister Cat is upset about the move and doesn’t adapt well at first. It doesn’t help that the town is really into celebrating The Day of the Dead and Cat is afraid of ghosts (and of losing her sister, something she can’t bear to think about). By the end of the story, though, Cat not only befriends many non-scary ghosts but also comes to better terms with her sister’s disease. I enjoy everything Telgemeier writes, but only gave this four stars because the story made it seem like Maya was at death’s door (she even meets a young ghost who tells her dying isn’t so bad!). I think the lifespan for cystic fibrosis is closer to 40 or 50 years, rather than 10, and losing one’s sister won’t be as easy as the ghosts make it seem. I’m probably being too picky.