Tuesday, June 30, 2009

20 Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler


"Don't worry, Anna. I'll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it."
"Okay."
"Promise me? Promise you won't say anything?"
"Don't worry." I laughed. "It's our secret, right?"

According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in ZanzibarBay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy ever day, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie---she's already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer. -(from the book cover)

Sarh Ockler has a beautiful writing style that drew me in from the first page. She drew believable characters and threw them into a situation where they each had to experience grief in their own way. I especially liked Anna who grieved for Matt, but didn't feel like she was allowed to express her grief. The emoptions in the book were well expressed and really pull the reader into the story.

My enchantment with the book started fading when Frankie comes up with the challenge of finding 20 boys over the summer. It seems innocent enough until Frankie starts referring to Anna's virginity as something that is holding her back from enjoying life. The rest of the book seems to focus a lot on this, and as well written as it was, I couldn't imagine recommending it to my teenage daughters.

What I found most disturbing was how lightly the whole subject was treated. As the girls sneak out of the house at night and Anna spends intimate time with her summer boyfriend (nothing graphic), I kept waiting for some sort of consequences. But there was nothing. Anna even says, "Somewhere beneath my newly tanned skin I know I should wait, that it should be special, that it should be with someone I can wake up with in the morning, tomorrow and always." These girls go through their summer lying to their parents and worse, even watching their friendship fall apart, and yet at the end of the book, all this is put behind them, the parents never find out, and the friends come back together as if nothing ever happened.

This book did reaffirm my belief that I need to read everything my kids read so I will know the kinds of things the world is preaching to them, and help them pick appropriate literature. I'm still a firm believer that a great book can be written for teenagers without having to bring sex into the picture. Even though I enjoyed the writing style and to some degree, liked the characters, I won't be recommending this book to anyone still in high school or younger.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Agent in Old Lace by Tristi Pinkston

"Shannon Tanner has it all a perfect family, a perfect job, and a perfect boyfriend. Or so she thinks. What Shannon doesn t know is that her boyfriend, Mark, is stealing money from her father and making millions doing it. When Shannon learns Mark s secret, he turns on her, and Shannon s life abruptly goes from perfect to perilous.

"In an effort to protect Shannon, the FBI assigns their only female agent to go undercover as her personal bodyguard. But when the agent is injured the day before the assignment, they turn to the next best thing: their top agent, Rick Holden in a dress.

"Life seems safe again for Shannon with Rick by her side and Mark apparently gone for good. Then Shannon gets word that her best friend has been kidnapped, and it becomes clear that Mark isn t going to stop any time soon. Shannon realizes the only way to save herself and her friend and stop Mark once and for all is by sending Rick, her only source of protection, away. Can Rick save Shannon before it s too late?" (from the back cover)

This book is a real departure from Tristi's other historical novels, but an exciting departure. Since we know who the bad guy is right from the beginning of the book, the suspense lies in figuring out what he will do next and how he'll do it. Unlike many supsense novels, this one had a nice touch of humor which I enjoyed.

My only complaint was the length. It was over too fast. I wish there had been more development of Shannon and Rick's relationship.

I'm hoping Tristi will continue to write suspense as I did enjoy Agents in Old Lace and will recommend it to my friends. It is a quick but fun read. Be sure to add it to your summer reading list.

You can read more about Tristi here or follow her blog here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Summer Reading Thing 2009

LDS Publisher is hosting a Summer Reading Thing. Since I do so much reading in the summer I decided to take part. The rules are simple. You make a list of books to read during the summer - as many or as few as you want. They have to be by LDS authors. You also have to post at least one review on your blog. The rest of the rules can be found here.

This list is just the beginning. I'm sure I'll add to it as the summer progresses.

1. Agent in Old Lace by Tristi Pinkston
2. Lemon Tart by Josi Kilpack
3. The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum
4. The Hunt for Dark Infinity by James Dashner
5. The Golden Verses by Barbara Miller
6. Recovering Charles by Jason F. Wright
7. Eyes of a Stranger by Rachel Ann Nunes
8. Princess at the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George