Tag Archive | Minnesota

B for Both of Me, by Friesen (book review) – they meet, yet only 1/2 of him remembers her

book cover of Both of Me by Jonathan Friesen published by Blink |booksYALove.comCounting stars,
traveling light and often,
avoiding entanglements, until…

Scam artist teen always on the move meets an artistic young man with two personalities and a near-psychic knowledge of what she’s running from – how can Clara resist trying to tap into what Elias “sees”?

But Clara never planned on falling for Elias or struggling to understand his dissociative identity disorder or making a road trip toward answers that could imperil them both.

Completely different worlds from the dystopia that Friesen brought us previously in Aquifer  (my notes here), the Salem that calm Elias wanders through in his mind, the minutely ordered existence that angry Elias tries to catalog, and the everyday world that Clara longs to leave behind.

Is there ever just one personality inside you?

Book info: Both of Me / Jonathan Friesen. Blink, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Dual-personality Elias somehow knows more about her past than Clara wishes to recall, but their journey to verify the answers stretches both young people’s affection and endurance – and Elias’ hold on reality.

(One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

M is mystery at Enchantment Lake, by Margi Preus (book review) – unspoiled forest is motive for murders?

book cover of Enchantment Lake by Margi Preus published by University of Minnesota PressA treasure under enchantment,
unspoiled northwoods beauty,
a killer determined to own it all?

Francie is not a NYPD detective, but she played one on television, and that’s more mystery-solving experience than the local sheriff seems to have!

As deaths keep piling up (each by a different cause), even her eccentric great-aunts’ unique food combos (curry with a side of pickled beets, anyone?) can’t distract the teen from worrying that they will be the next victims.

A departure from the author’s acclaimed historical fiction Heart of a Samurai (my recommendation here) and Shadow on the Mountain, this first book in the Northwoods Mystery series is equally well-written, with interesting characters and setting.

Death by hot-dish? What casserole would you choose for your last meal?

Book info: Enchantment Lake (Northwoods Mystery, book 1) / Margi Preus.  University of Minnesota Press, 2015. [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When her great-aunts say that they’re in danger, Francie leaves summer drama camp in New York City to find mysterious deaths and rumors of treasure in the remote Minnesota lake town where it’s assumed that the 17 year old orphan can solve all mysteries because she played a kid detective on TV.

On the far shore of deep Enchantment Lake, eccentric Astrid and Jeannette tell Francie that city folks want a road through the peat bog so more mansions like the Fredericksons’ can be built. Property owners along the right-of-way have been dying oddly, and local real estate man Buck Thorne is pressuring their heirs to sell.

At the latest victim’s funeral, a poisoned casserole kills Buck, and the suspect list grows since everyone in town owns a serving dish made by the local potter.

What was Buck going to tell Francie about her long-lost mother?
Why does Buck’s stepson need so much money suddenly?
Can young law intern Nels help make any sense of these recent deaths?

Uh-oh, Francie’s grandfather demands that she return to drama camp or he’ll stop paying her expenses! But how can she when her aunt is arrested for Buck’s murder, a little boy who gets grimy every night goes missing, and someone tries to sink her kayak – with her in it!  First in the Northwoods Mystery series. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Q for quiet journey of love – The Big Crunch, by Pete Hautman (book review)

Quietly, June moves to yet another town, yet another school.
Quietly, Wes escapes his smothering relationship with his girlfriend.

We’ve all heard about the Big Bang theory of the universe’s creation, but maybe you haven’t heard about “the big crunch” as one way that the universe might end, with everything condensing down to one tiny point of matter.

Pete Hautman reminds us that falling in love, whether gradual or sudden, is a lot like that big crunch – a moment when you realize that the only point in the entire universe is the person you love.

June, Wes, and their friends are very real people; their enthusiasms and worries are real, too. Is the love that Wes and Junie share real enough to survive her family moving away?

Find this clever, funny love story today at your local library or independent bookstore today.
Yes, I keep pointing you to your neighborhood businesses and institutions because they are worth supporting now so that they can keep supporting you and your community in the future.

And if the description of how June makes real hot chocolate for Wes after they walk together in the snow doesn’t make you immediately long for a cup, I’ll drink it for you.

Book info: The Big Crunch / Pete Hautman. Scholastic Press, 2011. [author’s website] [author interview] [publisher site] [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: Another new high school – June hates how her dad’s job moves them so often. Does she want to fit in or stand out this time? Semi-cool dude Wes notices her in the halls, someone new to wonder about while he tries to figure out exactly why he broke up with his girlfriend. His pal Jerry seeks her out immediately as part of his campaign for class president, even though the election is months away.

So the three sort-of friends wander in and out of each other’s days as Jerry pushes his campaign forward, Wes needs someone to talk to since he doesn’t talk to Izzy anymore, and Junie is forced to get involved here in Minnesota when her mom erases all her Chicago friends’ numbers from her phone – “There is no reverse gear in this time machine,” says her dad.

As the days grow cooler, June finds herself somehow dating Jerry steadily. Wes keeps mentally replaying his conversations with her, trying to figure out what made her choose the persistent campaigner over him. His little sister teases him about leaving his brain out in his garage workshop, and his buddies Alan and Alan take advantage of his distractedness to make steady in-roads on his savings during 24-hour poker marathons.

When Wes and Junie run into each other with a thump during a snowstorm, it’s rather eye-opening… and heart-stopping. Time to let Jerry down easy as they become a couple and learn to negotiate the differences in their lives – only child June who’s moved so many times, big brother Wes who’s never gone anywhere.

And then Junie’s dad announces another move on New Year’s Day. How far is it to Omaha? Too far to keep up any sort of relationship, according to her parents. Are they right? Will the Wes-shaped hole in June’s heart ever heal? Will she finally decide for herself whether it’s time to move on or stay connected? Can Wes get past his family ties into Junie’s larger world?

Hautman shows readers four seasons in the lives of June, Wes, and their friends – a year that changes everything and doesn’t change the important things, when a little push turns into The Big Crunch of decisions that cannot be undone. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)