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Melissa Fox has commented on (8) products.

Dream Life
Dream Life

Melissa Fox, February 1, 2010

Things are looking up for our girl, Claire. She managed to save her friend Becca's family -- the Shuttleworths of Soul Sauce fame -- from the doom and gloom in the last adventure through her snazzy black-and-white dreams. She managed to snag a super cool college boyfriend, Andy (though they're keeping it hush-hush for now). All while managing to take down the snitty bad girls at Hudson High. (End previous book plot summary.)

So, what could get in her way?

Well, lots, actually. Claire's up and down with her boyfriend. Becca has taken to hanging out with her old prep-school friends, and doesn't have as much time for Claire anymore. She hasn't even had any decent dreams of late. Everything seems to be falling apart. But then, Claire is initiated into this super-secret New York club, the Blue Moons, and suddenly everything picks up again. A mystery to solve! Black and white dreams! Socialites! Protests! Murder mystery parties!

Dream Life was much like Dream Girl, but better. Perhaps it was because I knew what to expect out of it -- lots of fluff, a bit of action, great clothes and happening hot-spots -- but, while I enjoyed the first, found this one to be a lot more fun. I especially loved the minor characters: Hallie, a goth foodie that's also inducted into the Blue Moons (why couldn't she have more to do?); Ian, Claire's geeky comic book side-kick from Hudson (felt like he totally had a thing for Claire... why couldn't she get the geeky guy rather than the uber-cool college one?); and Louis, Claire's friend from her former high school, who has a thing for Becca. The three of them made book fun for me. But, beyond that, it's a book with a winning combination of fashion, mystery and fun.

Can't lose with that.
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Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins
Secret Keeper

Melissa Fox, September 13, 2009

First and foremost, Asha and Reet are sisters.

Their dad -- Baba -- has lost his job in 1974 Delhi India and decides to see if he can find a job in America. Since they don't have enough savings to send the entire family, Asha, Reet, and their mother go to live with Baba's family in Kolkata, in West Bengal. It's not a happy time for any of the women: the sisters are not only forced to stop attending their school in Delhi, but are increasingly pushed into more traditional roles than they were previously. And their mother -- whom her in-laws have never approved of -- is constantly under the influence of what the girls call her "Jailor": a black depression that is hard to shake.

It's more Asha's story than Reet's; Reet in many ways felt inaccesible to me as a reader: she's the perfect model of a traditional Indian woman, and although she's sympathetic, she's just not all that interesting. Asha, on the other hand, is a fascinating mix between the need to be traditional and please her family, and her desires -- in part fueled by the feminist movement in the US -- to be her own woman. It's Asha's secrets we are privy to, and care about, as well as her desires: whether it's her desire to be a psychologist (unheard of at this time in India) or to play tennis and cricket, or -- more importantly -- her growing fondness for the boy next door. And the decisions she makes, as well as the secrets she ends up keeping, are unexpected and yet make perfect sense.

Perkins has written a compelling tale that works on so many levels: it's a love story, it's a story of sisters, it's a story of tension between old and young, it's a story of second chances. And, because of this, it's a story will be treasured.
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)

Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors
Coffeehouse Angel

Melissa Fox, August 1, 2009

Katrina is an average girl. Not exactly pretty. Not exactly ambitious. Not exactly memorable. She works in her grandmother's coffeehouse, which doesn't exactly do brisk business; most of that goes next door to the new Java Heaven. Katrina is, however, a decent human being, and so when she opens the coffee shop one day, and spies what seems to be a homeless man in the alley, she leaves him a cuppa joe, a bag of pastries, and some chocolate-covered coffee beans, and doesn't think anything of it.

That is, not until the guy -- whose name is Malcom -- shows up at an assembly, wearing a kilt, and knowing her name, saying that, in thanks, he wants to grant her innermost desire. That's a tricky one, since Katrina is not only average, but a bit driftless, too: she has no idea what she really wants... until she gets to know Malcom a bit better. Then what she wants is something she really can't have.

Selfors has written another delightful, unexpected romance. While Katrina was a bit too angst-ridden at times, she was also amazingly unselfish. Twice, Malcom offers her her heart's "desire" -- first fortune and then fame -- and twice, she lets it slide, almost purposefully, through her fingers. She doesn't want fame, or fortune. She wants to stop fighting with her best friend. And for the coffee shop to stay open. And for her grandmother to be happy. You would think with all this unselfishness that Katrina would be annoying, but she's not. Not really. Selfors writes in such at way that you feel for Katrina, and when she makes the ultimate unselfish decision, it's quite touching.

Ultimately, though, it is a romance. And a very sweet one at that. You think it's going to go in one particular direction, but Selfors is skilled enough in the use of magic -- or in this case the angelic -- that she makes something outrageous seem effortless, plausible, and not in the least hokey. Which is magic in and of itself.
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The Farwalker's Quest by Joni Sensel
The Farwalker's Quest

Melissa Fox, April 30, 2009

I knew a bit of what to expect with this book, but I didn't expect to be unable to put the book down. I was thoroughly captivated by the world that Sensel built -- part fantasy, part dystopian -- and the story which, although it's a coming-of-age/adventure story, took me to places and in directions that I never quite expected.

I don't want to go into any more detail than the publisher's description, since much of the enjoyment of the book is having no idea what's coming around the corner. There's adventure and suspense and action and mysteries. There's "good" guys and "bad" guys, but the whole book isn't black and white, something which I appreciated. I liked that the world Sensel created felt like it could have been our world that fell into chaos and evolved in this particular way. I liked that the magic was mostly organic, things which conceivably evolve if everyone in the world were blinded by some biological warfare. It made it seem more plausible (not that I have anything against implausible fantasy; I just thought that plausiblity lent some weight to this story). And the characters were not only likable but cheerable, too. Especially Ariel, who not only finds her true calling, but strength inside her that she never thought she had.

So, yes. All the things everyone has said about it and more. It's a fabulous story.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)

The Dragonfly Pool
The Dragonfly Pool

Melissa Fox, February 9, 2009

Set in 1939 England -- and bordering on historical "fantasy" -- this is a superbly written look at a young girl, Tally, and her open heart, willingness to tackle just about any problem, and her relationship with a young prince. I suppose some would say that Ibbotson glossed over World War II (it kind of just happens), but I don't think this can rightly be called a war book; rather, it's more about friendship and duty and class and choosing one's own path than adventure and romance (though there is adventure; romance is pretty understated). Ibbotson's writing drew me into the book and held me there (even though I did the pickup-putdown dance quite a bit); I thoroughly enjoyed the alternate world, as well as the delightful characters, that she created. Perfectly lovely.
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(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)

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