Schmidt, Tiffany. Bright Before Sunrise
February 18th 2014, Walker Childrens
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Told in alternating chapters, we hear the story of one evening from the point of view of Brighton, who is still struggling with the death of her father after five years, and from the point of view of Jonah, who has moved to the ritzy Crosse Pointe neighborhood after his mother divorces his father, marries Jonah's physical therapist, and has his sister Sophie. Jonah is miserable in his new school, where he feels out of place and disconnected with his past, which includes baseball and his girlfriend Carly. Brighton is trying to live up to her psychologist father's dictum to make the world a better place, and Jonah is the only student in the high school that she hasn't roped into volunteering. She's angry that Jonah won't even give her the time of day even though she has been unfailingly nice to him. After Jonah breaks up with Carly (who thinks he is cheating on her with Brighton, thanks to a flyer she finds in his car), Brighton ends up babysitting his sister, and the two start on their night long collision course. Jonah takes Brighton to a party in his old neighborhood the night before she is to be at a memorial service for her father, emotions run high, and the two finally come to more than an understanding with each other.
Strengths: Nice romance, and this has a Sarah Dessen type tone that my 8th grade girls adore. There is enough detail about high school to make this intriguing to younger girls, but not enough that it is that dissimilar from middle school. Since Send Me A Sign was SO popular, I'll be buying this.
Weaknesses: Like this author's first book, it walks that fine line-- there's some drinking, but it doesn't look like a good idea, and Brighton not only doesn't partake, but fends off a boy who is trying to encourage her to drink. I could have done without the description of Jonah being enthralled with glimpses of Brighton's plain white cotton panties, but again, there are worse things. Nothing more than kissing and long sighs.
Johnson, Maureen. The Madness Underneath
February 26th 2013
by Putnam Juvenile
Rory is tired of being at home with her parents, so when her therapist says it's time to head back to Wexford, she's leery but ready. Settling in takes a while, and being normal after an attach by the ghost of Jack the Ripper that almost killed her is hard, especially when she finds out that the attack has left her with the power to dispatch ghosts. She feels somewhat bad about this, but this is a good skill to have and the Shades (the ghost hunting police) want her back. There has been another murder near Wexford, and some research indicates that the school is built on the sight of Bedlam, the infamous mental hospital, and the Shades feel that ghosts are somehow escaping into London. Complicate this with Jane Quaint, a "therapist" who has seen Rory's friend Charlotte but who has some unorthodox methods of treating people, and there are bigger problems than Rory feeling that she will fail all of her exams. The ending of this book leave the way wide open for a sequel.
Strengths: Johnson's writing is always fun to read, and I enjoyed this. A couple of people have commented that it was different from the first book, At the Sign of the Star, but I didn't remember enough about that book, so that didn't bother me. Some romance, some mystery.
Weaknesses: A bit too much of Rory's settling back in; I would have prefered to jump right back into the ghost hunting. Not sure where the therapist line is going, and there is the death of a character that I didn't expect.