All Unquiet Things


All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab

Everyone know what it’s like to find and to lose their first loves. But if you’re Neily Monroe than you know what it’s like to find her … dead. Carly Ribelli was murdered – shot several times in the chest. And since finding her blue lipped and busted up, Neily hasn’t been the same. He can’t sleep, and if he does he’s consumed of nightmares, he’s dropped out of his advanced study program, and if he ever disliked the in-crowd he now HATES them.

Audrey is an average teenager with a not so average family history. Her mother took off – for good – when she was six, and her father was just a drunk and compulsive gambler until a jury found Enzo Ribelli guilty. Of what? Murder – guilty of murdering Audrey’s cousin and best friend Carly.

In the past, they didn’t have the best relationship, if fact it was mere toleration. Fact is, if it weren’t for Carly the two wouldn’t have bothered one another.Neily was just her boyfirend and Carly her cousin/best friend. After an unsettling year apart the two are awkwardly reunited.

But it’s been a long year and things have changed for both of them. Audrey is back and seeks the help of Neily – the only person she can trust to help her – to find Carly’s real murderer. Together, step by step, this awkward duo of investigators learn to trust one another, to be friends despite Carly, and more importantly uncover the brutal, ugly truth as to who really killed Carly.

All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab is a classic example of a who done it mystery. It’s full of suspense, intrigue, and plot twisting questions. But Jarzab goes beyond the who done it mystery and presents another interwoven story line – a story that tells of love and friendships, and closely examines the need and want for human relationships.  

This book is not only well written, but it was carefully planned and crafted. Each character gives in-depth insight to who Carly was – not just as a friend and girlfriend but as a main character. Told from alternating perspectives readers have the chance to examine what each were feeling – at the time of Carly’s murder and at the time they were trying to uncover the truth. Jarzab paid close attention to the emotions attached to each character and to each situation.  


All Unquiet Things is a quick read that will keep you entertained, guessing, and gripping the edge of your seat. Readers can’t help try to solve this mystery along with Neily and Audrey – coming up with  their own suspects, theories, and motives.  






Gilbert and Sullivan Set Me Free


Gilbert and Sullivan Set Me Free by Kathleen Karr  

Libby Dodge, 16, doesn’t have much going for her. She’s the youngest inmate at Sherborn Women’s prison among murderers, thieves, and prostitutes, and she’s also the one inmate likely to be released into the real world.    

But the real world has nothing to offer Libby, not that prison has much either. At least in Sherborn’s walls she has a family of sorts, plus roof over her head and food on her plate. And unlike Libby’s mysterious past, she’s not manipulated or abused.

But when the new Chaplin, Mrs. Wilkinson rolls into town and  introduces, not only lively Libby, but the whole lot of women locked in the prison walls, to Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance,” the world of Sherborn inmates is suddenly transformed.Each inmate participating in the performance play an involved and important role in the production – from set design to costuming – all of the women shine. But none as bright as Libby.

From one song note to the next, Libby’s life in prison is transported for bad to better in an instant. As Libby pours her heart into her lead role, she doesn’t realize that her biggest role is yet to be played – Libby Dodge, free and cleared citizen. Gilbert and Sullivan really did, in this case, set  Libby free.

Kathleen Karr’s Gilbert and Sullivan Set Me Free is a book with many layers. On the surface it’s a book about how music and performance are so powerful they could change lives. But within the books many layers readers have a chance to step back in time, and understand the happenings of true events – Sherborn was a real prison, and the “Pirates of Penzance” were once performed within it’s walls, they have a chance to learn who Libby Dodge was, and why she was in prison in the first place. They also get the chance to better understand the life of women prisoners.

But what really makes Karr’s novel so great are the cast of characters that are featured from Ma to Kid Glove Rosie, all of the character’s in Karr’s pages add depth, not only to the story, but to Libby herself. Because each is a part of Libby, only they can tell her story fully and completely.

Karr’s quick paced and up tempo Gilbert and Sullivan Set Me Free is well researched and well written. Written from Libby’s perspective, it is easy to see how much attention and care Karr put into creating this. Each minor detail is handled with respect and importance.  

What makes this book so great is that it is 100% believable. It’s a difficult task to weave fact into fiction, but Karr has mastered the art within these pages.

Oh, But It Was Sweet!

Food For Thought, Random

While patiently waiting the clock to strike five yesterday afternoon, I came across Book Page’s – a monthly book/literature review newspaper, Buzz Girl section. For ya’ll who don’t know Buzz Girl features the latest “buzz” on books. After reading an exciting piece about Nina Garcia (yes, judge of Project Runway among other things) releasing a book, I stumbled upon this:

“Sweet Valley Adults

In February, we told you about the upcoming prequel to the much beloved Baby-Sitters Club series, The Summer Before (out this month). And now, there is more good news for certain readers born in the ’70s and ’80s – Francine Pascal has signed a deal to publish Sweet Valley Confidential in early 2011 with St. Martin’s Press. The book will follow Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield – and all of their Sweet Valley friends – into their late 20s and early 30s. No word yet if it will be a single book or the start of a series, or if the target audience will be teens or adults. Of the book, Pascal says, “I’ve had thousands of queries from fans over the years wondering what Jessica and Elizabeth would be like as adults…Well, Sweet Valley Confidential should givem them all the answers. And I can guarentee they will be very surprised. Actually, more like shocked. ” Will Elizabeth get back with boring Todd  Wilkins? Are Jessica and Lila Fowler still frenemies? Will the twins still be a “perfect six”? We’ll have to wait until 2011 to find out.”

 From April 2010 issue of Book Page.

A Jewel of Information

Food For Thought, Random

Admittedly, I love to read the Sunday Star Ledger Parade. Sad, but true, it’s the one think featured within the newspaper that I can read over and over. This Sunday’s edition especially interested me – and should interest any Babysitter’s Club fans out there.

“Q: Ann M. Martin just released a new Baby-Sitters Club novel. Please tell me that she plans on writing more – she still has a lot of fans! B. Marie, Darien, Ill. A: The Summer Before is actually a prequel that tells how the Club’s original four members first got together. Martin’s publisher, Scholastic, will also be reissuing the original BSC titles to join the 176 million already in print. As for new Baby-Sitters Club books, “Never say never,” Martin says. “When the series ended [1986-2000], I told my editor that I would never write another. But the prequel was a lot of fun – so who knows?” (From the Sunday, May 2, 2010 issue of the Sunday Star Ledger Parade)

Smiles to Go

Smiles to Go by Jerry Spinelli
Will Tuppance has it all figured out. Saturday night is Monopoly with his best friends, Mi-Su and BT,  star parties in the fall when the stars are shining at their best, and trying his hardest  to avoid his annoying, black jelly bean thrower out, loud mouthed little sister, Tabby. Everything is going according to plan, that is, until he finds out the proton has died.

As if the proton dying wasn’t enough to handle, Will realizes that he likes Mi-Su, not just as a friend, and starts to wonder, since she kissed both him and BT (separately of course) who she likes more. Will finds himself  questioning everything, even his own existence. You see, when Mi-Su informed him that the proton died, a little part of Will Tuppance died too. As his world slowly turns upside down, Will finding everything out of balance – his best friends are kissing or not kissing (he isn’t really sure), and he is even seeking love advice from the next door neighbor – the five – year – old next door neighbor.

Will has some frightening revelations of life. Slowly he comes to terms that if the proton can be destroyed and cannot live forever, that he can’t live forever either – not even spiritually. What will it take to wake Will up from his scheduled life? Unfortunately, it takes a dying proton and a near death experience to wake Will up and force him to throw away routine and to welcome living life as it comes. 

Smiles to Go is written in true Jerry Spinelli style – it’s catchy, and one hundred percent character driven. Spinelli has created a set of characters that enhance and  shape Will into who his is, and who he is supposed to be. All of them were well-developed and add depth, overall to this book. Smiles to Go is full of plot turns that the reader can never expect. A great feature to is that, like many other Spinelli books, chapters aren’t governed by chapter restrictions. Each part of Will’s story is marked off by PD13 – Proton Death 13 days since. This quirky bit shows readers just how important the Proton’s death is to the story and to Will. 

This book is solidly written. It’s a straight forward quick read that grabs attention from the very beginning. Begging reader’s to guess at what makes Will tick, and eventually what happens to him when the proton dies. Admittedly, this is a great book for guys!  Though, let’s be honest – anyone could enjoy this true Spinelli classic.