Contemporary, Fiction, Middle Grade

Delilah Dusticle

Delilah Dusticle book cover
Image from A.J. York. Used by permission.

Title: Delilah Dusticle (Delilah Dusticle #1)

Author: A.J. York

Genre: Contemporary

Delilah Dusticle has the special gift of completely eradicating dust. With her quiver pouch of special dusters, Delilah can run up walls and reach places others just can’t. As a maid in the Fenchurch-Whittington house, Delilah’s unusual skills soon lead to her being promoted to Chief Dust Eradicator and Remover. Until one day a broken heart leads to her powers taking an expected turn.

I’m still not quite sure why I picked this book up in the first place. Maybe it was because it is super short, and if I didn’t like it, at least it would be over quickly.

At thirty-three pages on my Nook, this ebook leans more towards long short story length than anything. But honestly, I didn’t mind. This is the kind of book that anything longer would have made it boring.

Normally, I’d mention the characters, but the story’s so short, there isn’t much to mention. It’s not a big deal, though, because the emotion is real and the characters are just so fun to read about. I loved Delilah, I loved Abi, I loved reading this story.

The whole book was just a fun, light-hearted read. It’s a perfect I-need-a-break-from-the-books-assigned-in-English-class kind of story, or even an I-need-something-upbeat-with-a-happy-ending story.

I debated quite a bit about whether to classify Delilah Dusticle as contemporary or paranormal. Delilah’s dust-eradicating powers, which play a huge part in the story, give it a paranormal element. (So does the talking suit of armor, which also gives a whimsical feel to the story.) But I finally decided on contemporary because the main themes – friendship and family – are more contemporary.

The second Delilah Dusticle book, Delilah Dusticle’s Transylvanian Adventure, comes out in September. And I think I just may read it, because Delilah Dusticle was just so fun.

I received a free review copy of Delilah Dusticle from the author. Her generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

Contemporary, Fiction, Middle Grade

Blood On His Hands

Blood On His Hands  book cover
Image from teenreads.com

Title:  Blood On His Hands

Author:  Willo Davis Roberts

Genre: Contemporary

Marc Solie is on the run – he has been for what seems like forever, although it’s been less than two years since his sister died and his family fell apart.  This time, though, it’s different.  Marc’s not just running from himself; he’s running from the cops.  He’s done something bad.  Maybe as bad as murder.  Marc’s only chance is to get to his father.  His father would know how to get him out of this mess.  But Marc hasn’t talked to his father for months, and he’s not sure where he is.  So Marc keeps running, following Interstate 5 north to Washington, hoping to find his father before the cops catch him…

After reading Willo Davis Roberts’ The Girl with the Silver Eyes as a kid, I went out and read every one of her books I could get my hands on.  So when I was at the library the other day and found Blood On His Hands, which I hadn’t read, I picked it up – more for nostalgia than anything.

Marc, honestly, was about one step up from flat.  About the only aspects to his personality were his anger – at his mother’s boyfriend, at God, at whatever thing happened to make him mad – and his grief over his sister’s death.  He wasn’t a really angry kid, although he had his moments, and he wasn’t really a great character.

Normally, this is the point where I’d mention other characters, but while there’s a bunch of minor characters who show up in flashbacks, Marc is the only one who’s in the entire book.

Speaking of flashbacks, almost the entire book is flashbacks.  It starts out with Marc looking for a ride on Interstate 5.  Extended flashback of his sister’s death.  He gets a ride.  Extended flashback of his mother’s horrible boyfriend.  His ride drops him off.  Extended flashback of how he ended up a maybe-murderer.  Gets a ride, flashback, ride drops him off, flashback, gets a ride, flashback…on and on, with more super-long flashbacks than present time.

For the most part, it wasn’t horrible – except when there was a transition.  It’d go on for five chapters in one time frame, then jump to another and leave me going, “but we were over there!”  The flashbacks were an important part of the story.  But I think Willo Davis Roberts should have put more details into the traveling-to-find-his-father part and told the story in chronological order.

Overall, I didn’t mind the story.  But I definitely wouldn’t call it one of the author’s best works.

Contemporary, Fiction, Middle Grade

Flipped

Flipped book cover
Image from perksofanavidreader. blogspot.com

Title:  Flipped

Author:  Wendelin Van Draanen

Genre:  Contemporary

When Julianna first saw him, she flipped.  When Bryce first saw her, he ran.  Now they’re both in middle school, and their first impressions haven’t changed.  She still thinks he has gorgeous eyes.  He still wants her to leave her alone.  But middle school is a time of changes, and Bryce and Julianna’s relationship isn’t immune…

This was a book club book, or I probably wouldn’t have picked it up at all.  Even though I enjoyed Wendelin Van Draanen’s Sammy Keyes books, the part on the back cover where Julianna wonders about kisses would have caused me to put it down and leave it alone.

But it was a book club book, and so I read it.

First off, Bryce’s name drove me crazy.  In second grade, I knew a kid named Bryce, and I ended up punching him in the face.  (He deserved it.)  But once I got past the prejudice that I didn’t like anyone named Bryce, he actually seemed pretty normal.  From what I know of boys, anyway.

Julianna, I somewhat liked.  She was optimistic and opportunistic and idealistic, and was a generally enjoyable character.  I found her crush on Bryce a little annoying, but it’s also pretty true-to-life.  I can remember almost the exact same thought process from my first crush.

I’d expected a sort of light-hearted middle school romance, but it really wasn’t.  It was sad, and not at all light-hearted.  It was sad how something as simple as some eggs led to such a huge divide between Bryce’s family and Julianna’s.  If I had to make a guess at what happens after the book ended, I would guess Bryce’s parents get divorced and Bryce gets his heart broke.

One thing I’ve got to say that I liked about this book was the alternating perspectives – getting to see the same event through two different pairs of eyes.  Bryce saw Julianna’s science fair experiment as a prime example of her teacher’s pet, overachiever-ness.  Julianna saw it as something she didn’t choose but that ended up being really cool.  And I found that very fun to read.

I didn’t find this book enjoyable, mainly because it was such a downer, but I did find it interesting.  I don’t regret the read, but I wouldn’t have picked it up on my own, and I won’t be reading it again.