Saturday, June 26, 2010

Book Looks/Mini Book Reviews of Three Debut Authors

Saturday, June 26, 2010
Book Looks are mini reviews where I attempt to review books I have read in one of two formats, inspired by two lovely lady bloggers.

The first format inspired by Kate's Book Views at the Neverending Shelf attempts to review books in 75 words.

The second format was inspired by Staci's Six Sentence Saturday  reviews (gotta love the alliteration) at Life in a Thumb. In this format like Staci, I will expresses my thoughts on a book using only six sentences.

The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
(six sentence review)

In 1961, two years after the Communist revolution, Lucía Álvarez still leads a carefree life, dreaming of parties and her first crush. But when the soldiers come to her sleepy Cuban town, everything begins to change. Freedoms are stripped away. Neighbors disappear. Her friends feel like strangers. And her family is being watched. As the revolution's impact becomes more oppressive, Lucía's parents make the heart-wrenching decision to send her and her little brother to the United States—on their own.Suddenly plunked down in Nebraska with well-meaning strangers, Lucía struggles to adapt to a new country, a new language, a new way of life. But what of her old life? Will she ever see her home or her parents again? And if she does, will she still be the same girl?

The Red Umbrella is a historical fiction coming-of-age story about a young girl whose life if forever changed because of the political upheaval at the start of the Cuban revolution in 1961.  Through Lucia’s innocent eyes, I gained insight into some of the major changes that greatly affected, not only adults, but Cuban youths including the youth camps where Lucia’s best friend, Ivette, and others become indoctrinated with Castro’s communistic propaganda.  I found Lucia to be a very credible narrator because her world is focused on fashion and boys not her parent’s concern for the family’s safety until she sees for herself the brutality of the regime’s answer to those who resist.  Forced to leave Cuba without her parents, Lucia describes adjusting to life in America: learning the language, dealing with the loneliness of living with strangers, and fitting in with American teens.  Gonzalez captures the essences of Lucia’s struggles through her realistic dialogue and thoughts, and I found the headlines placed at the beginning of each chapter provided an authentic feel to the story. The Red Umbrella is a poignant story that shows that a home is not a place or a country, but people and the love they have for each other.  

The Karma Club by Jessica Brody
(a review in 75 words or less)

Madison Kasparkova always thought she understood how Karma works. Do good things and you'll be rewarded, do something bad and Karma will make sure you get what you deserve. But when Maddy’s boyfriend cheats on her, nothing bad comes his way. That’s why Maddy starts the Karma Club, to clean up the messes that the universe has left behind. Sometimes, though, it isn’t wise to meddle with the universe. It turns out Karma often has plans of its own. (Publisher's summary from Amazon)

The Karma Club is a fun, fast-paced story that is the perfect book for a light-hearted romp through romantic teen angsts. I adored Maddy and her friends delicious get even stunts and the trouble that ensues. I found Maddy's budding romance with Spenser appealing and the ending very satisfying. If you haven't yet read this then let me just say you are missing out on a fun, fun, fun read.

Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis
(a review in 75 word or less)

Joy is used to Hearing Whispers. She's used to walking down the street and instantly knowing people's deepest, darkest desires. She uses this talent for good--to make people happy and give them what they want. But for her older sister, Jessica, the family gift is a curse, and she uses it to make people's lives--especially Joy's--miserable. Still, when Joy Hears Jessica Whisper I want to kill my Hearing dead, and kill me too if that's what it takes, she knows she has to save her sister, even if it means deserting her friends, stealing a car, and running away with a boy she barely knows--a boy who may have a dark secret of his own. (Publisher's summary from Powell's Books)

Whisper was an unexpected read with an original twist on the paranormal genre. The main character, Joy, was as easy to relate to as her sister was to dislike. I thoroughly enjoyed how Kitanidis’ skillfully interlaced the whispers Joy heard with her reactions to them. I was surprised but thrilled by the chemistry between Joy and Jamie abeit short. The last hundred pages were riveting and the ending extremely satisfying. This is one debut writer I am anxious to read more from.


Rhiana said...

I love how you manage really insightful reviews in so little words here! I sometimes think I ramble a bit and could do with cutting the word count....maybe I should try this for those books I've never got round to reviewing yet!

I'm glad you enjoyed The Karma Club, I have this and it does look and sound so much fun!

Mrs. DeRaps said...

It's almost like you couldn't have asked for three reads that were more dissimilar. How awesome that they were all deserving of four cherries!

Emidy said...

I love these mini reviews - they're great! Ever since I heard about The Red Umbrella I've been wanting to read it. And The Karma Club sounds like a sweet little read. Fabulous reviews!

chelleyreads said...

they all sound awesome jan! thanks for the short reviews--quick and informative (if only i can wrap up my reviews in a few sentences).

i saw the karma club around in the last month and the trailer really made me want to read it--it sounds like it lived up to it.


Kathy Martin said...

I just finished Whisper yesterday. I ended up feeling sorry for Jessica though she was hard to like at the beginning.

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