Amy and her (very young!) aunt Clover are back, and there's a ton going on. Amy's boyfriend Seth's mother is having trouble with her cancer coming back, Amy's mother is stressed about her upcoming marriage and is trying to deal with too small children while her fiance is working in a hospital AND trying to write children's songs, and Amy's stepmother is expecting. When the baby is born prematurely, Amy's father doesn't have much time for Amy. When Amy is able to go to Paris with her aunt Clover before the wedding at the same time as the school French class trip, Amy decides to hunt down Seth and surprise him. Is this a good idea? Will all of Amy's relatives become less stressed by the end of the book?
Strengths: I adored Ask Amy Green: Boy Trouble and Ask Amy Green: Summer Secrets. They were a little taste of fluffy Irish lit, fun escapades, and general amusement. This had some of that. I do love the covers.
Weaknesses: This was a bit sad. So many problems. Hmmmm. The series is so popular, though, that I will have to buy this one! I am interested to see if any of Ms. Webb's other books will make it to the US.
Harrington, Kim. Perception: A Clarity Novel.
Things have gotten better for Clare since she helped solve the murder of a tourist over the summer. Other girls at school will speak to her instead of thinking that she is from a family of psychic freaks, and she has both Gabriel AND Justin interested in her romantically, although she's leaning toward Gabriel since Justin slept with one of her enemies. (And yes, there are a couple of mentions, but nothing graphic. And you'd be amazed at how many 7th grade girls want to read about romantic triangles!) She makes a new friend in Mallory, who was also friends with Sierra, a new student who has recently been missing. To complicate the investigation, however, someone is stalking Clare and her brother is afraid to leave the house (maybe because his name is Periwinkle. Ugh.). At first, Clare suspects Mallory, then the goon of her arch enemy, but the twist is that her stalked and Sierra's kidnapper are the same person.
Strengths: I'm glad that the paperback for the first book illustrates Clare's long, curly red hair better. This is an excellent mystery series for my students, even with the passing references to sex. There's a lot of clue hunting, romance, suspense, and a paranormal twist as well.
Weaknesses: The passing references, and the wide variety of emotional problems many of the characters are facing. There was enough going on with the murder and stalking.
Bird, William. America's Doll House:The Miniature World of Faith Bradford.
I have a ton of things to read, but what do I pick up first? This interesting book about a very popular exhibit, the history of the Smithsonian and its philosophy of display, and a woman with a somewhat strange passion for miniatures. Having just visited the Smithsonian last year and been very confused by some of their choices (there was a car from a Dumbo ride on a landing that took an enormous amount of space, but in order to see Mr. Rogers' sweater, you were crammed into an alcove with half the museum's visitors), this was interesting. Also interesting is that a second doll house created by Faith Bradford was never displayed, inventoried in its case in 1985, and now cannot be found. Wow. That's some bad archiving. This was one of those titles I didn't need to read, but came across while looking for something else and couldn't resist!