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Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur

06th February 2012

I loved LaFleur’s debut novel, Love, Aubrey and her second novel, Eight Keys was just as good. Elise has lived with her aunt and uncle ever since her father died when she was 3. She loves her aunt and uncle, and spends much of her time playing with her best friend named Franklin. But now that Elise is turning 12 and entering middle school, her safe, comfortable life seems to be changing. Suddenly, “playing” is no longer the cool thing to do, a 6th grade bully is picking on her, homework is piling up, and Elise begins to take out her frustration on the one friend who loves her as she is, Franklin. One day, Elise discovers a key in the barn with her name on it. Looking for answers, she takes the key and unlocks a door that gives her back the past, while at the same time, helping her to begin moving forward.

This is an excellent book for 5th-7th grade girls. Elise’s story is honest and real. LaFleur deals with the realities of friendship and middle school without exaggeration. And although Elise must find her own answers, she is surrounded by loving adults as well.

Meg is a modern day woman who has no use for her great-grandmother’s diaries, as famous as they may be.  The diaries chronicle her great-grandmother Hannah’s arrival on the New Mexican frontier in the 1890’s, and Meg’s grandmother, Claudia, has spent her life researching the diaries and getting them published.  Meg has always lived in the shadow of the diaries, and has not even read them, until she is strong-armed into accompanying Claudia back to New Mexico to tie up a few loose ends.

Once Claudia and Meg arrive in New Mexico, new discoveries about Hannah’s life are made, and Meg begins to read the diaries.  She is instantly captivated by Hannah’s story, and becomes intent on solving the mystery swirling around Hannah’s death.

This is one of those books that takes awhile to get into, but once your are, you can’t put it down.  The strong female character, doing what needed to be done to survive on the frontier, reminded me somewhat of Turner’s These is My Words.

I am so delighted to have discovered Sandra Dallas.  Her books are just fantastic.  The Persian Pickle Club is a group of quilters who have been meeting for years to quilt, gossip and support each other through thick and thin.  Queenie Bean loves the Pickles, but when Rita moves to town, Queenie is thrilled at the prospect of having a younger Pickle join their the club.  But Rita isn’t as interested in quilting as she is in solving a murder mystery that the rest of the club would just as soon see go unsolved.

When Bethany’s parents suddenly drop her off at her aunt’s house and leave, Bethany must uncover their secret if she want to reunite her family.  Definitely not one of Haddix’s best.

Foreign Body by Robin Cook

08th February 2009

Your typical Robin Cook novel with evil corporate villains, sleuthing doctors and unsuspecting patients.  Told in Cook’s subdued, understated tone that downplays the seriousness of the subject matter.  For example, upon discovering that her friend has been kidnapped, Laurie’s reaction is to say, “This is a major disaster.”  You think?  Cook’s books help pass the time in a waiting room, but are usually a last resort for me.

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