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Crescent Blues Book ViewsImage:three and a half moon gifDelacourt Press (Hardcover), ISBN 0-385-90014-7
Ever since her father died, 16-year-old Rose Ann Marstead's mother and grandmother waged a tug of war to gain her love, attention and affection. However, with Grandmother Glory's latest and greatest pull -- a free ticket for Rose Anne to cruise the Caribbean -- Rose Ann's grandmother appears to take the lead. Rose Ann can't bear to pass up the chance to enjoy such an exciting summer vacation, even if it makes her mother mad, really mad.

Book: Joan Lowery Nixon, Playing for keepsBefore Rose Ann inhales one breath of sea air, she smells something fishy, and it isn't the fish. It turns out Glory doesn't really need a roommate for her bridge tournament, she just wants a chance to set Rose Ann up with her bridge partner's brainy grandson, Neil. Of course, no sparks fly when Rose Ann meets Neil, despite her grandmother's promise that she will find Mr. Right on the ship and fall in love the way Jack and Rose did in the movie Titanic.

While trying to inch away from both her Grandmother and the "statistic-quoting" Neil, Rose Ann runs into a boy named Ricky Diago, who gives rise to a whole new set of suspicions. Rose Ann can't help but wonder why Ricky purposely avoids getting his picture taken by the ship photographer, then runs from the ship before it sets sail. Even Jose Diago, Ricky's uncle, seems to be hiding something:

"...Aren't you Martin Urbino, who used to play third base for the Reds?"

"No!" The man's answer was brusque to the point of rudeness, and I looked up, surprised.

As if trying to make up for his attitude, the man began to speak quietly and politely. "You have me confused with someone else, son. I am Jose Diago, and I have nothing to do with baseball..."

Determined to get to the bottom of Ricky's disappearance, Rose Ann explores the ship, keeping her eyes and ears open. She overhears strange bits of personal information from both staff and passengers. Yet no matter where she looks, she finds no sign of the illusive Ricky. When the ship stops briefly at the Port of Haiti, a handsome boy appears who claims to be Ricky Diago. But Rose Ann knows better!

Soon, Rose Ann's curiosity, as well as her romantic attraction for the second Ricky, entangle her and her shipboard friends in a complicated net of danger. But Rose Ann won't stop until she gathers the last essential clue and solves the mystery.

Joan Lowery Nixon, talented author of over a hundred books for children and "grande dame of young adult mysteries" hits a home run with Playing for Keeps. In this intriguing, fast-paced story, Lowery covers all the bases in just 197 pages -- compelling characters, adventure, mystery plot and romance!

Lowery does strike out once in this book, though. This miss occurs as a result of the too-many corny references to Titanic. Regardless, Playing for Keeps stays afloat and keeps you anxiously turning pages.

Lynne Remick

An avid reader, Lynne Remick will rarely be found without a book in her hand. When not reading, traveling to or writing about historically passionate places in Europe, Lynne lives in Nesconset, N.Y. with her fiance, Michael, her adorable son Kevin, her darling Schipperke Dante, a feral cat named Sahara and a spoiled baby hedgehog named Apollo Nike.

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