Monday, April 29, 2013

The Spellmans Strike Again Lisa Lutz

So I looked through my archives and figured out that it was WAY back in 2009 that I read the first three books in Lisa Lutz's Spellman family series.  I really enjoyed them at the time because they were so different that other stuff I was reading.

This weekend I read #4, there are still two more in the series, and I enjoyed it just as much.  That being said, it kind of felt like a TV series to me.  The characters kind of do the same stuff and say the same things.  The mysteries are new, and I can never quite figure them out, so that's good, but there isn't a lot of change.  Actually in this book, Izzy and Rae both make some choices and appear to mature a bit.  But for me, this was just sideline stuff, and almost felt forced.  I realize I'm not really selling it.  I like the Spellmans, the characters and their stories.

SO the bottom line is, this is a fun, light read.  If you've read the other Spellmans, this will follow suit.  If you haven't, I recommend you pick up The Spellman Files.  I think you'll like it.  Just beware of a few F-words that come out of left field.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan

My 6th grade son read this book for Battle of the Books at school.  I was intrigued that he enjoyed a book with not only a girl's name in the title, but a picture of her on the cover!  He told me I had to read it, and I loved it!

Naomi lives with her brother and Great-grandma.  They live in a trailer park, Gram makes all her clothes, and her brother has some physical challenges.  So you can imagine Naomi struggles a bit to fit in.  Luckily, she is surrounded by people who love her: her teacher, the librarian, and the neighbor lady, make up for the friends and parents she is missing.  Life is going OK until her mom comes back into town. 

Naomi explains, "One of her (Gram's) favorite sayings was that the good and the bad of any situation were sometimes the same.  When I was little I had trouble holding my brain on that thought, but now it was starting to make sense." Their mother has plans for the future that are scary and lead to Naomi, Owen and the grandma taking a road trip to Mexico.  I liked how the situations have enough conflict to feel real, but they are kept age appropriate, and nothing too horrible happens.

Naomi keeps a notebook full of lists.  I loved this habit of her character.  On the back cover of my copy of the book, it says: "Things I am Good At: 1) S
oap carving 2) Worrying 3) Making Lists.

I love the writing style and the way the words are pretty, but feel natural.  "Her fingers were nimble and gentle.  It felt as though she was playing the piano on my head." or "Gram said Fabiola's mission in life was to feed the world with a smile."  This book has won a few awards, and I think they are well deserved! 

I loved the story, the characters and the writing style!  I recommend it.