Crowdsourced Short Book Reviews – by my friends!

So here we are locked in (or at least we should be – come on people!), and my friends have books to recommend. The request was a brief book review of a book that floats your metaphorical (socially distanced) boat. Care to join in the fun? Message me and I’ll see about doing this again.

undefined

Dodgers by Bill Beverly. A powerful coming of age story that follows East, a LA gang member, on his journey to complete a mission. – Stacey Robothom Baugh

undefined

The Nix: a smart, funny and often touching novel about a professor. Struggling to write his next book, he finds inspiration when his estranged mother makes news headlines. – Jennifer Ress Bush

undefined

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. It’s a coming-of-age story in which the sibling relationship is the most significant. Vivid characters surrounded by strange beauty. – Jill Hecht Maxwell

undefined

The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series. I’m working my way back through the first three before I finally read the final book. Spanning from 1910-1960 Barcelona, they’re crime, thriller, noir stories. Gorgeously descriptive in it’s portrayal of a beautiful, yet socially broken Spain following the civil war. Each book is self contained, but there are character/family lineage crossovers. The books are: The Shadow of the Wind, The Angel’s Game, The Prisoner of Heaven, and The Labyrinth of the Spirits. – Sean Hefferon

Adding on to Sean’s review — I just finished the last book. Not much need to read the rest of the series. They are not the main characters and not featured until the end. For everyone, it’s over 2000 pages of delicious reading. – Robert Gerson

undefined

Tembi Locke, From Scratch. A haunting, beautifully written memoir about love, loss and how food can bring us together and heal our broken hearts. – Lauren Henry

undefined

The Starless Sea. I have no idea what happened but I loved it anyway. – Jennifer Ray

Adding on to Jennifer’s review — That is the best description on the book. I was sad when it was over. – Michelle Smith

undefined

Carl Hiaasen creates some really outrageous characters. – Robert Gerson

undefined

How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen. It puts into perspective and context what is important in life, how to understand where you are in that “process” while bringing different views and experiences that enrich everyone’s understating of their own sense of achievement and happiness. – Pablo Terpolilli

undefined

I’ve been reading a lot of Hemingway. For Whom the Bell Tolls. It’s about the Spanish civil war, and it totally holds up. – David Larmore

undefined

If you are interested in learning more about epidemiology and the political and social implications from years past, (particularly the Reagan administration), I recommend And the Band Played On by Randy Shiltz. – Leslie Salters

undefined

I am very excited to read The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel. It’s the final book in a trilogy about Thomas Cromwell. Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, the first two, gave a new perspective on Henry VIII, the wives, and the history of that time. Absolutely riveting…and many pages, which is good when one is social distancing as we all are right now. – Phyllis Stone

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Review by George Chang AND Lillian Dow Paterson

x500

This week we have the SAME book independently reviewed by TWO different students. The book was recently made into a movie called Love, Simon, which I saw with my daughter and her friend, and we all loved it. It’s  everything I loved about 80s teen movies with more diversity/true representation of the world they’re growing up in (and none of the creepily questionable depictions of women, which I didn’t notice as a teen). Great acting, great writing, great message, and now I need to check out the book!

Anyhow, the two students writing here today are George and Lillian. Lillian is a returning reviewer (her last one was for Every Last Word), and she’s still great fun and super energetic. George is new to this book review party, and he is a kind, thoughtful, determined guy with a smile that lights up a room. As we fly through the last quarter of the school year, I’m pondering how much I’ll miss then and their classmates come summer.

Everyone deserves a love story.

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: If he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing with, will be jeopardized. -Amazon

George writes: When you read Becky Albertalli Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, there will certainly be tears, laughter, and, most importantly, realness. Simon Spier, a gay teenager who is still ‘in the closet’, is just trying to define himself, and trying to love himself for who he really is, while life just keeps on throwing obstacles in his way. How the book depicts Simon as just a normal high-schooler going through life, makes me so happy. Most times, books with a LBGTQ+ protagonist goes out of the way to center the plot about the difficulties about coming out, and coming to terms about your sexuality, but not this one. It’s a genuinely heart-warming novel, a simple and sweet romance, one that makes you smile when you think of it, one that makes you feel so happy, as if you just ate a rainbow and there’s now flowers growing within your bones. The book really stands for the rights in the community, firmly stating that only you can come out, on your own accords, and that in the end, being gay really isn’t that special. Simon asks, “Why is straight the default?” It’s so sad that even in 2018, people are still homophobic and acts viciously cruel towards gay people. Everybody, whether you’re gay, straight, bisexual, whatever; this novel is truly a must-read, one that will make you think about it months after you finished it.

 

Lillian writes: Simon Vs The Homo sapiens Agenda is a book by Becky Albertalli. Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is about a “Not so openly gay” teenager Simon. This is the one secret that Simon is hiding from everyone, his friends, and his family… except for one person, “Blue”, the one person who Simon trusts with everything, his sexuality, his life, and his thoughts. But… one day . . .  [note from M. Ray – I cut spoilers] Now, what will happen next in this story? Find out by reading this amazing book by Becky Albertalli. This is in my top five favorite books, and it can easily become yours, for this book is a work of art. Out of ten (one being AWFUL and ten being BEST BOOK EVER), I would rate this a 9, it’s an inspiring, funny, heartfelt book that definitely needs to go on your reading list. I definitely recommend this book to kids ages 10 and up.

Let it Snow – Review by Mollie

IMG_8605At the risk of being repetitive, Mollie is incredibly sweet. I’m lucky because my students really are this great. Thoughtful and kind, Mollie takes in all that’s being said and then comments with great insight. She is quick to laugh at a joke or offer help to a friend. She’s also very sincere and a wonderful reader and writer.  Last but not least, Mollie has great curly hair, something I totally appreciate! While she picked a book with ‘snow’ in the title and I’m way over snow by this point in the year, I can forgive her since the book sounds interesting.

 

Let it Snow, by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Lyracle

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 1.43.32 PM“A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks.” (Amazon)

Let it Snow starts off with the enchanting tale of Jubilee told by Maureen Johnson. Johnson truly makes the story come alive with her attention to detail and exciting plot. You’ll be on the edge of your seat as you wonder what comes next as Jubilee fulfills her destiny. After you learn the fate of Jubilee, John Green tells about Tobin as he finds love closer then he could ever imagine. His excitement and drive for adventure truly makes Tobin a realistic character, the kind that you want to be friends with. The way Green describes how Tobin acts with the Duke and JP makes him out to be the character you grow to love throughout this page turner. As you flip the page to find yet ANOTHER amazing tale waiting, told this time by Lauren Myracle, you get engrossed in the tale of Adeline or Addie as her friends know her. In a spur of the moment she lets a boy ruin her golden locks. As she cuts her hair and dyes it, Myracle leads us through a journey that makes the reader look inside themselves as Addie does too. I would recommend this book to 11+ because it includes some mature concepts but overall is a very fun read with a good message.  This book will keep you in on a snowy day and you’ll be thinking, let it snow!