The Spellman Files #1

Author: Lisa Lutzspellmen
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date: 2007
Genre: Humor, Mystery
ISBN: 9781416532392
Price: $25
Number of Pages: 353
Available Formats: Hardback, Paper back, E-book, Audio

Rating: 3Q, 3P

Links to Author’s Website and Interviews

http://lisalutz.com/

http://www.mybookishways.com/2013/07/interview-lisa-lutz-author-of-the-last-word-the-spellman-files.html

Links to Reviews

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/lisa-lutz/the-spellman-files/

http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-4165-3239-2

Reader’s Annotation

A family full of P.I’s. What could possibly go wrong?

Plot Summary

This is a light-hearted book focuses on the Spellman family that owns a PI firm. The oldest daughter, Izzy, is the main character and the story is told from her point of view. It is very non-linear, with the story told mostly through flashbacks, focusing on her childhood and adult years working in the firm. We learn that Izzy has had a very troubled life, as she has had many run-ins with the law and was on a very destructive path until she realized that her little sister, Rae, was beginning to act like her. The bulk of the story is about the family’s shenanigans in spying on each other. The novel, however, is framed by Rae’s disappearance and Izzy is looking back on how it came to be.

Critical Evaluation

This book wasn’t quite what I expected. I had expected more of a mystery with eccentric characters, such as Meg Cabot’s Heather Wells series. However, the central mystery in this book is really non-existent. The story is really about the family and their relationships with each other. The book is extremely funny, but the character of Izzy began to wear thin on me after a while. I felt like her character didn’t develop as fast as I would like. Her character grows annoying and downright crazy toward the end of the book. I especially didn’t like her relationship with Daniel and how she was pretending to be something she wasn’t. I understood at first, but as they grew closer, I felt like it didn’t make sense to keep her profession a secret. The little sister was along similar lines in that I liked her at first but she began to grow more obnoxious as the novel progressed. Her antics were supposed to be funny but really just got on my nerves. However, I think it was a well-written book overall. It just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, and that’s colored my opinion of it somewhat.

Appeal Factors

Funny, upbeat, fast-paced

Read-alikes

The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot
One for the Money by Janet Evanovitch

Awards & Lists

Alex Award: 2008

Discussion Ideas

• Discuss the relationship between Izzy and Rae.
• Discuss Izzy as a character.
• Discuss the genre. Is the book really a mystery?

Justification of Selection

I’m not very familiar with mysteries and I wanted to try different ones out. This one caught my eye because of its humorous tone. It reminded me of Meg Cabot’s Heather Wells mysteries, which I loved.

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A Dog’s Purpose

Author: Bruce Cameron dog
Publisher: Forge Books
Date: 2010
Genre: Humorous, Stories told by animals
ISBN: 9780765366764
Price: $5.99
Number of Pages: 319
Available Formats: Hardback, Paper back, E-book, Audio

Rating: 4Q, 4P

Links to Author’s Website and Interviews

http://www.brucecameron.com/

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/interview-with-w-bruce-cameron-author-of-a-dogs-purpose-and-8-simple-rules-for-datying-my-teenage-daughter

Links to Reviews

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/w-bruce-cameron-2/a-dogs-purpose/

http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-7653-2626-3

Reader’s Annotation

Ever wonder what your dog is thinking? It’s probably more than you think.

Plot Summary

This book is told from the perspective of a dog, as he is reincarnated through various lives. His first life is as a stray mutt that is rescued by an old human. However, his life is cut short when he has to be euthanized. The dog gets reincarnated as a golden retriever puppy named Bailey and gets taken in by a family. The dog grows close to a young boy named Ethan, whom he watches grow over several years. However, they are tragically separated in a car accident. Waking up once again far away and in a new body, Bailey attempts to track down his former family.

Critical Evaluation

This is one of the best dog-related books I’ve ever read. Cameron does a great job in portraying how a dog thinks. It is both touching and hilarious, from a human perspective. As dogs can’t understand English, it’s interesting to see how they react to situations when they don’t know what is really going on around them but you do as a reader. The reincarnation concept is also very original and helps add drama and variety to the novel. While the book has aspects of comedy and drama, the heart of it is the relationship between Bailey and Ethan. Seeing their relationship grow was one of my favorite parts of the book. Cameron really knows how to tug on your heartstrings. There are several parts of the novel that make you want to cry but others that fill you with hope and warms your heart.

Appeal Factors

Amusing, Heartwarming, fast-paced

Read-alikes

Marley & Me by John Grogan

Roam by Alan Lazar

Discussion Ideas

  • Discuss if Cameron successfully captures the essence of a dog’s personality and thinking.
  • Discuss the novel’s theme of why dogs are here and what their purpose is.

Justification of Selection

My husband has been trying to get me to read this book for years. Like him, I am a huge dog-lover, but I thought it would be weird reading from an animal’s perspective. I’m glad I finally listened to him.