Brockmeier's Grooves was a fast paced, funny mystery that must be very popular at my local library-- they have about 8 copies, and it was hard to track one down. Much of the plot defied belief (how would someone encode messages in the twill on jeans and the ridges on potato chips, and why would they think anyone would ever discover this?) and the premise for the evil was pretty lame (stealing the light from people's eyes makes the villain more likeable when his rhinestone jacket didn't work? Huh?), but I found myself liking the characters, the pace, and the book in general. So, there is another good mystery to have on hand.
Caroline B. Cooney's Hit the Road was quirky and may be a hard sell, but it was so personally satisfying that I'm going to have to buy a copy. 15 year old girl gets roped into taking her grandmother to a college reunion, and they end up getting into all sorts of scrapes that make the book rather thrilling and fun. I didn't quite believe that the one lady's son was as evil as he ended up being, at it was too bad that we all didn't get to go to the reunion in the end, which I really, really wanted to see by that point, but it was a FUN book. Since this author is really popular, I think the book will circulate.
Not so with Gantos' Love Curse of the Rumbaughs. I went to middle school with a Rumbaugh (hi, John!), and Gantos has done such a good job appealing to middle school boys with his Joey Pigza and also Jack Black series, but this one was, ah, odd. It lost me right after the discussion about selling feminine protection items at the drug store and the discovery of the drug store owners mummified mother. The ick factor without the interest. Didn't read it all; maybe it becomes fabulous later, but I no longer cared to stick around that long.
Donna Jo Napoli's King of Mulberry Street was FABULOUS!!!! I had to get it from a library in Toledo; no idea why my loval library didn't have it. Based on her grandfather's immigration to this country, it is an intriguing story of a 9 year old boy sent to America by his mother... by himself. Using his wiles and keen observational skills, he manages not only to survive, but to prosper. I've begun to think that Napoli can write anything beautifully. Her Stones in Water is another boy-pleaser, and her back story of fairy tales (Spinners, Sirena, The Magic Circle, Bound, Breath, etc.) are very popular as well. This is one author who makes me feel definitely like a reader rather than a writer!