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

Fish in a Tree – Review by Valerie

 Valerie bursts with enthusiasm, especially when it’s about books. When we are reading in class or discussing a story or chapters read at home the night before, Valerie thrills at the chance to share her ideas and insights. She notices aspects of stories that most kids miss, and shares beautifully during conversation and in writing. She’s reviewing a book that really connects with thoughtful middle schoolers, and one which my own kids loved very much.

Ally is different. She has known this her whole life. What she doesn’t know is why she is different. Why she says things different from what she thinks. Why her handwriting is so bad. Why she struggles to read and write while the rest of her sixth grade class does it with ease. Ally feels alone, with no friends in a world that just won’t understand her, but then she meets her new teacher, Mr. Daniels, and new friends Keisha and Albert. Ally has lived her whole life thinking she was stupid, until Mr. Daniels tells her something that will change her life, and the way she sees herself.

I think this is a great book because it teaches kids that just because someone is different, it doesn’t mean they are stupid or weird. It also has a large set of characters, each of whom face their own struggles and have a unique personality. This book will make you laugh and cry, and it shows how great minds don’t always think alike. If you like books like Rules, Wonder, and One For The Murphys, then you will love this realistic fiction book by Linda Mullay Hunt. My favorite character is Albert, and one of my favorite parts is when all the kids bring a bag to school with something that represents them, because it always makes me laugh, and we learn about the characters. I give this book two thumbs up!

The Secret Language of Sisters – Review by Mia Brown

0Mia is kind and funny and perceptive. She’s in my one of my biggest class of the day and still finds positive ways to stand out, making insightful comments and adding to the learning. Great to have her her to share her thoughts on a book she loves!

 

The Secret Language of Sisters by Luanne Rice51GoUvG1CeL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

Teenage Roo (Ruth) McCabe has everything; a great boyfriend, a loyal sister, and a great photography skills, but when Roo answers a text from her sister Tilly while she is driving, her whole world turns upside down as she hits a dog which sends her car flying into a marsh. She wakes up in a hospital bed not able to move or talk, but she can see and hear everything and everyone around her.  Only Tilly, Roo’s best friend and sister, and Newton, Roo’s boyfriend can solve the mystery of what is happening to her.

The Secret Language of Sisters is a beautiful novel with awesome characters that you just have to love. The book sucks you into the story and you won’t want to put it down. Not only is it a great book, but it teaches you the importance of not texting and driving. I recommend this book for people ages 11 and up. Thank you for reading my review and I hope you enjoy the book!

Green Bicycle Book – Review by Mckinley Jovanovic

v48n1green-bike-lgMckinley is sincere, intelligent, open-minded, and dramatic (in the best way possible — confident, expressive, verbal, and interested in theater). She brings energy to our class discussions, and is passionate about justice, a major theme of our studies.

“Spunky eleven-year-old Wadjda lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with her parents. She desperately wants a bicycle so that she can race her friend Abdullah, even though it is considered improper for girls to ride bikes. Wadjda earns money for her dream bike by selling homemade bracelets and mixtapes of banned music to her classmates. But after she’s caught, she’s forced to turn over a new leaf (sort of), or risk expulsion from school. Still, Wadjda keeps scheming, and with the bicycle so closely in her sights, she will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Set against the shifting social attitudes of the Middle East, The Green Bicycle explores gender roles, conformity, and the importance of family, all with wit and irresistible heart.” – Amazon

 

21936967The Green Bicycle is a book that brings awareness to different  cultures and what many people, like our heroine Wadjda, go through. Wadjda is faced with a difficult challenge that comes from being a girl in Saudi Arabia. She is best friends with a boy and always wanted to race him with a bike of her own. One day she sees a green bicycle in the window of a storefront and is determined to get it. Meanwhile Wadjda’s mother has been unable to have another child which her father desperately wants because without a son his family name will die out. Though he loves his wife he has the option of starting a harem, but women can only have one husband and Wadjda’s mother couldn’t divorce him. She would be the subject of pity to all. This book is very interesting because it shows how people, especially girls, can persevere and do whatever they want to if they put their minds to it. The Green Bicycle is an amazing eye opener to everyone and it’s cliffhangers and perfect ending had me up into late at night because I couldn’t put it down.

The Fault in our Stars – Review by Charlotte Lucas

Image result for singapore skylineCharlotte Lucas, a literary young lady with a literary name. Charlotte writes well, thinks well, reads well, and is kind. She’s unassuming and on the quiet side, but when you get her sharing a thought on paper or aloud, whether with the whole group or in a pair, prepare to be impressed. She’s recommending a book that seems very much like her: sweet and deep and funny.

“Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.”                — Amazon

 

Every child deserves to read a book of truth like The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.Image result for the fault in our stars book cover The Fault In Our Stars is about a girl named Hazel coping with her inevitable death. She’s lost her childhood from her battle of cancer, she takes college courses at the age 16, and doesn’t have any close friends. I truly recommend this book because in American culture it isn’t normal to talk about cancer and death so openly. Through Hazel’s perspective the reader finds a new way to think about live. This book is known to slowly mesmerize you with the live performance inside your head. It’s astounding to say that some teenagers don’t like this book because it is so open about topics that have a stigma surrounding them. Reality is always there, and hating or avoiding what you don’t like won’t make it go away. Teenagers that are staying with the comfortable topics aren’t doing any favor to themselves, and the story of Hazel and Augustus is one you can take with you for the rest of your lives. Hazel is a human and she wants to live, even if it may not be presented that way in some parts of the book. The last reason I’d recommend this book it because it isn’t just a drama like it is sometimes advertised. Adventure, comedy, and romance are very pivotal, and balance the tone of the story throughout the book. This way, there’s something to enjoy for everyone. The best type of reader for this book is someone who can deal the pain of stories without becoming upset, but also needs the closure at the end of the tale. People develop this as they get older, so I would say you should be around twelve. Though there are some moments that are inappropriate for younger children, sometimes it’s very heavy on romance and drama. In my opinion, everyone should read The Fault In Our Stars to get another perspective on life as we know it. Yes, there is a fault in everyone’s stars, but it is shown that we are not the fault in them.

Nine, Ten – Review by Maggie Megosh

hogwarts

Maggie comes to class bright-eyed and ready to learn every day.  She asks great questions, shares insightful comments, and (note the image she submitted instead of a photo) loves Harry Potter, which brings her closer to my heart. Here she reviews a book of an event that happened before she was born, but which, for adults, is still too fresh in memory. I’m glad to see a new generation understanding what the big deal was about 9/11. As Maggie says in her review, children see everything. They’re taking in what we say and do, and we must be mindful of our messages and actions, and celebrate the young people growing up as readers and thinkers.

“From the critically acclaimed author of Anything But Typical comes a “tense…and thought-provoking” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) look at the days leading up to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and how that day impacted the lives of four middle schoolers.” – From Amazon

61qogjhxgulChildren see everything, we really do, and the book Nine, Ten is able to capture what specific children saw in the days that led up to 9/11. The book Nine, Ten is centered around four children’s lives; Aimee, Will, Naheed and Seigo. Their lives are all very different which is seen in the days leading up to September 11th; September 9th and 10th. They are seen doing everyday things such as going to school and hanging out with friends, but as the events of 9/11 unfold, the four kids’ stories begin to intertwine. Nora Raleigh Baskin, the author puts what people said about the morning of 9/11 (“it was a perfect day”) into reality as the author described the clear skies. It was also different and interesting to see kids my age noticing this event and the ways that they knew it would change history, even though they didn’t always know what was happening. Learning about our country’s history by looking into the lives of young kids experiencing it has been very rich and engaging, which is another reason that I recommend this book. Finally, I learned how to be a decent human from all of the actions displayed by the kids before 9/11. Since the kids spend time dealing with their changing families, it is compelling to see reactions to these everyday things and the reactions to the attacks. This book is great if you love historical fiction and realistic fiction, as it is a combination on the two. September 11th changed our lives, and throughout this story, I was able to see why.

Fish in a Tree – Review by Maria

9s8cGHqYV85RzSyXHwkZdwo7f6ygh4VUkyi6IgWHVwvoH2F4GCULH77l-jh74VfdpUZDpiiYal1BBAX-_diTkpitZpjna5OCXvi8kl4FAXUqVw=s0-d-e1-ft Maria is currently in my 6th grade literature elective. She is delightfully earnest and thoughtful. Every day she responds with care in writing and during discussions, she works to connect our books to current events and history, and stops on her way out the door at the bell to make a last comment or just to say thank you.

She has chosen to review Fish in a Tree, which was written by one of my EMLA agency mates and Facebook friends, but I assure you, this choice and her ideas are all her own.

Fish In A Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Fish In A Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt is a book that faces the problems of growing up and believing in yourself. It tells the story of Ally, a girl who has dyslexia. She is ashamed, teased, hides it. But her newest teacher sees who Ally truly is: a smart, creative girl. With his help, Ally becomes more confident and discovers that there is more to herself than she and others know.

Z6cvdNWp0y-W-g57PbgAjueUXonzbILdlcLxV4fh3d-szQnKZR2s2lpbikl_QWh7hR0ZYjqmEgn1uXxJTtQvc7NBPgNEahW_NvV-qVXp1351vtxVhJmp95w6fbhut6p1Db2mz30=s0-d-e1-ft

I cannot say how much I loved, enjoyed, and was amazed by this book! It is a truly original story about being confident and being yourself. Unlike other stories, the problem isn’t magically solved. This book describes in detail the shame and hate Ally receives. I read this in about 2 days, and cried at the end of it. Hunt has many descriptive, heart – wrenching paragraphs about Ally’s bullies, and her dad, who is off in the military. In one paragraph, it says, “I’ve been drawing pictures of myself being shot out of a cannon. It would be easier than school. Less painful.” Hunt uses amazing sentences such as this that will make the reader, no matter who, feel as if they are Ally. Despite being a bit of a tearjerker, I would recommend this amazing story to anyone 9 – up. Some of the parts are very sad and emotional, and not all kids might enjoy the more cruel and sad scenes. But aside from that, anyone can enjoy this story, as we have all been an outsider at a time and will be able to sympathize with Ally’s struggle. I loved the ups and downs, the descriptions and drama, and the wonderful quote, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”