Monday, January 5, 2015

WonderWonder by R.J. Palacio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! This is a fantastically brilliant, heartwarming, and beautifully uplifting little book! It is an amazing story told with empathy and humor.
10 year old Augie Pullman, born with a terrible facial abnormality, won't describe what he looks like but says, "Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse." Previously homeschooled, this narrative is about his being mainstreamed into 5th grade at a middle school. It is described in short chapters by 6 different narrators: his older sister, 2 of her friends, 2 of his classmates, & himself.

Palacio, the author, does a skillful job giving each of the narrators a very honest and distinctive voice. They all sound sincere & real. It makes you feel like you really are taking this journey right alongside Auggie as you are given a glimpse into all their lives. The characters are complicated. No one, not even Auggie, is all good or all bad. The situations are realistic, from the bullying in the halls of Beecher Prep to the small family dramas in the Pullman home.

The multiple perspectives also allow the reader to know more than any one character does, even (especially) Auggie. As Mr. Tushman, the school principal, points out, "there are almost always more than two sides to every story."

This is an awesome book about a kid who is truly a Wonder. At times heartbreaking & at times triumphant, it is a story of how one person can make a difference. Despite the expected sadness in Wonder, there is also much humor, joy and hope. Kids and adults alike will love this stellar debut by a first time author. If you haven't read it yet, I think you should - it's worth all five stars and even more.

Favorite Quotes:
“I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.”

“My mom smiled at me. Her smile kind of hugged me.”

“Kinder than is necessary. Because it's not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.”

“It’s not enough to be friendly. You have to be a friend.”


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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Night RoadNight Road by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kristin Hannah is an excellent writer...great characterization! believable settings! spot-on dialogue! Thus the reading (or listening to audio, in my case) is effortless and enjoyable, but.... the story is soap opera-ish, the ending is cookie cutter neat, and can someone please tell me why popular authors of current YA bestsellers seem to share the mentality that both teenage drinking and teenage sex are not only inevitable, but normal, and neither are a big deal after all? Where are the YA bestsellers that inspire a moral society?

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Friday, January 2, 2015

The Hurricane SistersThe Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another feel good escape audio read from Dorothea Benton Frank. Despite tackling important topics (infidelity, verbal and physical abuse, date rape, and the victimization of women by men with power) she does it in a tactful, light way. This is a comfortable read, with laughter and some great messages. I like the way she always ends her stories with upbeat epilogue.

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Pawleys Island (Lowcountry Tales #5)Pawleys Island by Dorothea Benton Frank
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like what Jennifer, a goodreads reviewer, said,"one of my guilty pleasures. When I should be reading something 'literary' or something for work, I curl up with one of her books and take a little vacation. She does a great job of making the low country of the Carolinas sing a siren song." Her stories are formulaic, filled with great Southern humor, her characters memorably quirky and real, and everything always ends well. The audio book is charmingly read by the author. Great beach read.

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The Last Original WifeThe Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been reading/listening Dorothea Benton Frank's LowCountry tales and thinking I could love living in the South. Her writing style is friendly and engaging. Although being older and not a Southerner I could relate to the protagonist and her generation. I recommend it to anyone as a light fluffy read with some hilarious events and memorable characters.

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The Bookseller of KabulThe Bookseller of Kabul by ├ůsne Seierstad
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Audio version. Very well done and captured my interest from the first. Compelling. I coud not put it down. This quote from the book's flyleaf sums up my feelings: "a genuinely gripping and moving portrait of a family, and a clear-eyed assessment of a country struggling to free itself from history."
I was constantly reminded of my privileges and extremely thankful to have been born in 20th century America.

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Amy and Roger's Epic DetourAmy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This YA novel is an easy "fun" read which I would not recommend to any YA due to the basically shallow, cliched story which gives a stamp of approval to breaking the rules re: beer, pot, and casual teen sex. Despite Matson's good writing skills, the overall tone and message was not uplifting.

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Thursday, January 1, 2015

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars...If I were a guy I'd likely give it 5+ but the technical jargon was far beyond my comprehension. Still I enjoyed the story, loved the humor...laughed out loud several times...and even learned a few things. Mark Watney's irreverent cheekiness, unfailing optimism, and determination to survive the unsurvivable earns him my vote as the man I'd most like by my side when the world comes to a halting and apocalyptic end. Plus the man know his stuff, and I'd trust him with my life a hundred times over. Favorite quote:
“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”

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The Snow ChildThe Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a magical, beautifully written fairy tale for adults, with superb descriptions of homesteading in the Alaskan wilderness in the 1920's. It is loosely based on the Russian Fairy tale of Snegurochka, the Snow Maiden. Eowyn Ivery's lyric prose and imagery captured my attention from the beginning. I felt the brutal cold, saw the landscape, felt the deep pain of the childless couple, Mabel & Jack, and loved the snow child, Faina. It's a book about survival, physical and emotional, but it's also about hope and renewal. I read this several months ago and with 0℉ outside my home the past several days this short novel has been on my mind. I think this is one of those books that stays with the reader long after finishing it. Highly recommend.








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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was such a fun book. I utterly enjoyed it, but.....it is a YA fluffy romance that I wouldn't want *my* YA to read (language & morals) Great character development, realistic dialogue.

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