Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Gilda Joyce : The Ladies of the Lake by Jennifer Allison

Here's the second installment of the Gilda Joyce series, and once again my opinion boils down to "cute, but not great". I was again struck by Gilda's ridiculously inflated sense of self-confidence; it just didn't seem realistic.

The premise is that Gilda is given a scholarship to a private Catholic girls' school, and she accepts based on hearing that there's a ghost haunting the lake on the school grounds. She spends her entire first term at school trying to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding the death of a freshman, Dolores Lambert, who drowned in the lake three years previously. Not surprisingly, she figures it out, though her supposed "psychic" skills take a real backseat compared to the first book -- she's more of an investigative reporter this time around, having taken a job writing for the school newspaper.

I've got a lot of reading to catch up on if I want to read through half the books on my "to be read" bookshelf before the end of this year, so I think I'll give the third Gilda Joyce novel a miss.

Foundation by Isaac Asimov

I enjoyed this more than I expected; it's been a long time since I picked up a classic science fiction novel. The writing is clean and crisp, the characters vividly sketched. This book seems to be laying the --- groan.... -- foundation for the very long series that follows, by skipping between scenarios that take place hundreds of years apart. I hope that future novels in this series will linger a bit more on certain characters, because I found it hard to get to know them, get interested in them, and then suddenly have a new set of characters thrown at me.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison

Gilda Joyce, age 13, is in for a boring summer. Her best friend Wendy is off to music camp, and her mom has had to work long hours since her father's death a couple of years before. Desperate for something exciting to do, she gets herself invited out to San Francisco to visit some relatives she barely knows.

Once Gilda arrives, she sets about annoying her relatives by poking her nose into the intriguing story of a suicide that took place several years earlier. You see, as the title suggests, Gilda has decided to become a "psychic investigator" and she is hard at work learning about the paranormal. The idea of living in a haunted house and actually communicating with a ghost is thrilling for her. Gilda uncovers more and more "family secrets" as she tries to find out what the ghost is up to.

While this book was cute and quirky, it didn't make me want to rave about it. Gilda is a little bit too unique; she doesn't always seem realistic. (Is any thirteen-year-old girl *that* confident in her weirdness?) Apparently the sequel is better, so I'll give it a shot before I dismiss Gilda altogether.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Marley and Me by John Grogan

I was in the mood for a light, fun memoir and this looked like it would fit the bill. It's the life story of Grogan's neurotic, hyperactive lab, Marley, who is advertised as "the world's worst dog". Marley gets kicked out of obedience school, wrecks and eats just about everything, and shows himself to be just about as stupid and bullheaded as any four-legged creature can be. And of course, Marley gets old, goes blind and deaf, has bad hips and eventually passes on to the big doggy meadow in the sky.

I'm the first to admit I am not a dog person; I doubt I will ever own one, and other people's dogs I usually just tolerate. The author's patience with his dog is not something I think I'd ever possess. That said, I did enjoy reading about Marley's rambunctious personality, and I have to admit I had tears in my eyes when the time finally came for Grogan and his family to say goodbye to Marley. If you're a dog lover, I think you'd like this a lot. Make sure you have a box of kleenex handy...