sigh. The stack of completely-read-and-waiting-to-be-blogged-about-and-returned books is quite large.
The sequel to Matched, Crossed is the second book in Allyson Condie's trilogy. I loved the first book, but this one was dark and depressing as Cassia goes to the Outer Provinces in search of Ky. She finds him, and though she has risked her life to be with him, she will abandon him if he will not go with her in search of The Rising, a rebellion against The Society. Also, even though she still can't figure out if she loves Ky or Xander, she does give Ky the "just one night" that he asks for. Just one night without worrying about what they will do next, or thinking about The Society.
Now this one night is not described at all, and it may have been completely innocent, but then why bother putting it in the book at all? Ky and Cassia have this night in a cave with at least two other people sleeping nearby. It's kind of weird. And there's loads of kissing. Susan read it, and she brought that scene up voluntarily. It made her uncomfortable, uncomfortable enough to mention it to me.
It seems since the ending gives the notion that The Rising might be the same or worse than The Society, that I may have read this story before...and it was called Mockingjay. Disappointed.
Cloaked by Alex Finn was way better. This mystery masterfully interweaves several fairy tales including the Elves and the Shoemaker, the Six Swans, the Frog Prince, the Valiant Tailor and several more.
Nice boy, Johnny, helps out his single mother by working in their shoe repair shop in the lobby of a Miami hotel. When a mysterious and beautiful princess comes to the hotel, and asks Johnny to help her find her brother who has been turned into a frog, in exchange for piles of money and her hand in marriage, how can he refuse? With lots of great characters, and an adventure in every chapter, this book was fun to read.
When a friend asks me to read a particular title, I am happy to oblige, and this one was a request. The Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman is largely a tale of time travel. In the first few chapters, fourteen year old Tucker witnesses his dad's disappearance into a disk-shaped shimmer of air, while repairing a shingle on the roof. An hour later, his dad reappears walking up the road accompanied by a mysterious girl and her cat. He appears unchanged, except for one significant fact. His dad was a Christian minister, and the first meal after his "episode" he says, "There will be no more praying in this house. It is all lies."
Turns out, these "diskos" connect specific moments in history that are considered to be "the terrible, the horrible, the irreversible," such as the top of the World Trade Center on 9/11/01 and the murder of Jimmy Hoffa, and even the crucifixion of Jesus, which is referred to as "the death of a prophet."
Some diskos connect to a Mendicant hospital, Mendicants are people who communicate in numbers and are very advanced healers. Johnny ends up getting stabbed in the chest, and sent to the Mendicants. They heal him, but not for free. Turns out, they drugged him and had him working an assembly line in a factory for a few years to pay the bill. Johnny wakes up at least twenty years old with no memory of what happened in the intervening years, save some vague dreams.
In the book, Jesus is placed in the tomb and conveniently there is a disko to the Mendicant hospital. At this point, I became very confused because Johnny's father tells Johnny that the Mendicants couldn't heal "Josua" and that the resurrection never happened. He knows this because he joined the Essenes and waited around for weeks anticipating Christ's return. BUT THE RESURRECTION DID HAPPEN! To his credit, Johnny does not give up his belief in God, and continues to pray periodically throughout the story.
Somehow Johnny's father ends up a bad guy, in charge of the bad guys in fact. The first half of the book is very interesting and is well-paced for suspense, but the end of the book was like jumping off a cliff while the author shouts things like, "And he's going to try to kill his Johnny! But the girl is going to save him! And one of the bad guys has an obsidian blade! Tell you more about that next book!"
I'm completely baffled as to who did what and why, as is this reviewer. Plus, I don't like authors taking liberties with my religion. I wonder how Hautmann's book would be doing if he had chosen to distort or destroy Muslim tenets of faith in his work of fiction. Don't be messin' with my Jesus.
And now for something completely different.
Worst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and the True Story of an American Feud by Suzanne Tripp Jurman is a lovely picture book biography of one of the more interesting relationships among our founding fathers. A friend of mine recommended this to me, after a discussion of the HBO mini-series John Adams that I had seen and enjoyed.
You may or may not know that Jefferson and Adams, or Tom and John as I like to call them, were great friends around the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but had a falling out later when they ran against each other for president.
John won the first time, which was actually the second time there was a presidential election in these parts, well not these parts. These parts was still Indian territory or French territory, or had mammoths and glaciers, I'm not sure. Tom won the second time, which was actually the third election, but you already knew that by now.
Years later, after over a decade of silence between them, John wrote a simple letter to Tom, wishing him Happy New Year, and Tom wrote back. They forgot their quarrels and resumed their friendship.
On July 4th, fifty years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, they both died, John at his house, Peacefield in Quincy, Massachusetts, and Tom at his house, Monticello in Virginia. Oddly enough, John's last words were, "Jefferson still lives." His friend was on his mind even at the very end. He was unaware that Jefferson had passed away earlier that day. Miss Nora Ross, my high school history teacher, would be so proud of me right now.
The deaths of these two statesmen are not covered in this delightful tale. Worst of Friends ends on a much sweeter note, and includes fun tidbits of information that I did not know, such as how many books they each owned.
What! A grown-up book? Me? Yes, well, sometimes I do check out things from the grown-up department. I had read The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith, years ago, and was bothered by the abuse scene and the witch doctor part. I was reassured by a friend that the rest of the series is not that graphic or disturbing, and so I read Tears of a Giraffe. And you know what? My friend was right. Now, I'm reading the third, Morality for Beautiful Girls. Two grown-up books. But then, I'm going to dive head first into all of the newly announced Caudill nominees.
I love Rebecca Caudill's book and I love Caudill books. There are sure to be some excellent reads in this list. In fact, I'm already familiar with at least nine of these titles, including Black Radishes, which I reviewed here. My family may never have clean laundry again.