The Crazy School by Cornelia Read: This novel is the second starring Madeline Dare, a twenty-something woman who has recently started teaching at a private boarding school for teenagers in need of psychiatric help. Although her co-workers drive her crazy and she questions the methods the school uses, Madeline cares deeply for her students and, frankly, needs the paycheck the job provides. Madeline questions her dedication to her job when two of her students turn up dead, an apparent suicide that Madeline believes is actually murder. The novel is full of "characters," some better flushed out than others. It's a decent read that moves along at a nice pace complete with a few good plot twists and a few predictable ones too. I found the MANY references to events from the first novel a bit annoying, but the plan may have worked as I'm just curious enough to find out more details to read it.
The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano: At the tender age of six, Melody begs her parents to take her to her favorite Italian restaurant for breakfast. When they arrive, the restaurant is closed, but after much begging from Melody, they decide to walk around back to see if they can find anyone to serve them breakfast. Instead of getting breakfast, they witness a gruesome murder by an important mob boss. Melody's parents end up testifying against the mob boss and the family is put into the Witness Protection program. Unfortunately, Melody has a penchant for telling the truth and twenty years later is on her eighth identity. While in the process of getting relocated yet again, she is approached by Jonathon, someone from her past, who promises to give Melody her life back. I REALLY enjoyed this book...until the last three pages. It was fun, fast-paced, and I enjoyed the way the author filled in the blanks of Melody and Jonathon's pasts. I loved the possibility of romance. I thought the ending was okay, realistic, UNTIL the last three pages. The very end was one of the worst I have ever read. I won't ruin it by telling you, but PLEASE go read this book and then let me know so I can further bitch about this awful ending that only a man would write.
Austenland by Shannon Hale: Thirty-three year-old Jane is single and is contemplating a life alone because of her most shameful secret, she is in love with Jane Austen's fictional character Mr. Darcy (as played by Colin Firth). A cooky great aunt learns of Jane's obsession and provides her niece a chance to live out her dream with a two week vacation to Austenland where everyone dresses and acts as if they are living in the time of Jane Austen's novels. When I first started this novel, I was a little hesitant. I can honestly say that I enjoyed Pride and Prejudice as much as the next gal, but I don't get the people who obsess over Jane Austen's novels. However, despite my lack of total understanding, I really enjoyed this novel. There is just enough humor on both Jane's part and on the author's part that I kept wanting more. I enjoyed the aspects of romance and the various plot twists. All in all, a fun read.
The Memory of Water by Karen White: This novel was a lot more serious than the others in this bunch. It tells the story of Diana and Marnie, two sisters who become estranged after losing their mother in a sailboat accident in the middle of a horrific storm. Ten years later, Marnie has returned home after her sister has survived yet another sailboat sinking in the middle of a storm. This time, Diana's nine year-old son was on board and afterwards he refuses to speak a word. Marnie rushes to the aid of her nephew and slowly they try to help each other begin living again. This book was heartwrenching at times as we learn the effects that mental illness has on a person and her family. The emotions felt real and I enjoyed getting to know the characters as stories of their past and present unfolded. There are parts of the ending that I felt wrapped things up a little too conveniently, but overall a good read.