I read this for a US election seminar I'm planning to take this fall semester. I want to use Trump's own words when discussing how damn ridiculous heI read this for a US election seminar I'm planning to take this fall semester. I want to use Trump's own words when discussing how damn ridiculous he is. He is going to need a SIMS money code for making all of these things happen. Also, he probably tells at least 20 times that he is rich and powerful and all that jazz.
I collected a lot of quotes from this one - if someone is interested in reading those, I can post them here. Let me know! I am not writing a normal review for this one....more
I don't read middle grade novels very often, but after reading Booki Vivat's Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom, I definitely became more I don't read middle grade novels very often, but after reading Booki Vivat's Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom, I definitely became more interested about the prospect of delving into MG literature more often. Frazzled is extremely funny, relatable and filled with funny and poignant illustrations.
Frazzled is the story of Abbie Wu who is about to start middle school and she is far from excited. As a middle child, she is used to being in the middle and that has never really worked out for her too well. She feels like an alien in her family, surrounded by a big brother who is loved and admired by everyone and a little sister whose cuteness is always acknowledged by everyone. Middle school - the middle point between elementary school and high school - thus seems alien to her as well.
At the beginning of the new school year, Abbie is faced with the decision to pick her electives. Unlike her friends, Abbie has no idea what her THING is and the way people are talking about the selection of the electives makes it seem to Abbie like one wrong decision could destroy her life in the long run. Despite the fact that the students are still so young they are already made to think about their futures and how their electives of choice will help them reach a certain goal in the future. I think Frazzled excels in portraying the anxiety Abbie goes through, and despite the fact that I have already found my "thing", I was able to relate with Abbie and the struggle she goes through, because I was that girl looking for my thing not so long ago (I think I found "my thing" only in high school).
The illustrations in Frazzled are brilliant and I definitely want to pick up the finished copy because I don't think the eARC did justice to them. There is a very humoristic feel to this novel that kind of reminded me of The Princess Diaries, aka one of my favorite series ever. There are no royals here, but the observations Abbie makes and her sense of humor were somewhat reminiscent of Mia's diaries.
I am not sure whether Frazzled is a standalone middle grade novel or a start for a series, but in both cases, I found it to be very entertaining and funny. I would have loved to have this book in my life when I was younger and I hope young readers find it and embrace it. ...more
Oh man, this book was ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL. Not only did it manage to make me feel a lot of different things, it also taught me something new. I thinkOh man, this book was ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL. Not only did it manage to make me feel a lot of different things, it also taught me something new. I think that kind of reading experiences are always the most rewarding ones.
The Other Boy is a story of 12-year-old Shane. He is on 6th grade, loves baseball and draws a graphic novel about a man called Hogan Fillion (named after his childhood dog Hogan and his favorite actor from Firefly, Nathan Fillion) on his spare time. He has a best friend called Josh and a crush on a girl called Madeleine. His parents are divorced, and he lives with his mother. Shane is happy with himself and his life, but he has a secret that could change everything - he is transgender.
In addition to his friends Shane is surrounded by his mother and father who have divorced when Shane was younger. Shane's mother is wonderfully encouraging and loving and the way she approaches Shane and his gender is done, in my opinion, very well. Shane's father represent a more questioning side, and though it can be easy to dislike him at moments, the way Shane sees his father helps the reader to understand their relationship a little bit better. In addition to Shane's parents there is Dr. Anne, a physician specialized in transgender children and providing understanding and help when it is really needed.
Shane is such a lovable, interesting character that I instantly fell in love with. He is funny, loving, incredibly mature and capable of forgiveness. He is creative, loves Firefly and spending time with his best friend, and hopes that one day he does not have to live with secrets. I was so touched by some of the things he says and thinks and the relationship he has with his mother is absolutely fantastic and very well written by Hennessey. I was absolutely heartbroken and angry about the things Shane has to go through as a result of people's close-mindedness, but also relieved that there were people around him that accepted and loved him.
I want to applaud M.G. Hennessey for writing this story because I think stories like this are extremely important, especially for young readers. The earlier children learn to be accepting and open and to feel empathy for people who might be a little different from them, the better. The Other Boy tackles for example the importance of using the preferred pronouns and the hurt that comes from when someone identifies you incorrectly as well as when and how to use terms like "transitioning" and "stealth mode". It also discusses the importance of accepting communities, like a support group for transgender kids and their parents and tells a heartbreaking story about a boy who feels like he cannot be what he wants to be just because people around him do not accept him. Hennessey also manages to acknowledge that not all transgender kids share similar experiences and is aware of the fact that there is not one correct way to deal with things such as ones identity, sexuality, etc.
There will be parents who will keep their children away from this book and shun it, but hopefully the majority will be parents who will share this book with their children and encourage them to make their own conclusions about Shane's story. I'm not a parent and do not have the authority to say how parents should raise their children, but I know that children are capable of making their own decisions. While it is completely fine to pass on opinions/values on children, think they should be able to have a chance to form their own opinions. While this book shows examples of the cruelty children are capable of via bullying, it also shows that kids can have an incredible tendency for being open-minded and accepting of people just as they are. ...more
I was so excited to read this one. It was hyped EVERYWHERE prior to its publication and it earned a $2 million advance to Cline from Random House. I hI was so excited to read this one. It was hyped EVERYWHERE prior to its publication and it earned a $2 million advance to Cline from Random House. I have always been interested in stories set in communities or cults and the fact that this tends to be connected to the Manson Family instantly sparked my interest - I listened to the brilliant podcast series by Manson (You Must Remember This) last year and since then I have been garnering more knowledge about Manson and the people that are often labelled as his family.
The Girls is set in Sonoma, California (Cline's hometown) in the summer of 1969, but there are occasional flashes to the present day when the main character of the novel, Evie is 14 years old, on her summer holiday and immensely lonely. Her parents are divorced, her mother is going through a phase of trying to find herself and her father is living with another woman in another city. When Evie gets into a fight with her best friend she starts spending her days on her own, wandering around her hometown. When she meets Suzanne, a 19 year old wild child, she is instantly interested. Through Suzanne, she is introduced to the people at "The Ranch". including Russell Hadron. Very quickly, her innocence starts slipping away and without realizing it she finds herself from a situation she might not be able to escape from.
There are several parallels to be found between Russell and Manson. Similarly to Manson, Russell has dreams of becoming a recording artist, but while he is able to mesmerize the people at the Ranch with his music, actual producers and other musicians are not interested. Like Manson, Russell wants revenge when he is not acknowledged. Also, like Manson's family, also Russell's cult includes a sexual aspect, a certain freedom of sexual acts - taking nude photos, engaging in multiple sexual acts, etc. While the image of Manson has been replicated by popular culture again and again which in result has turned into a demonic entity (which he probably very much was) and almost like a caricature of all evil, Cline keeps a certain distance to Russell as a result of which her story is more about those surrounding Russell, like Evie and Suzanne, rather than Russell himself.
If you know anything about the Manson family, you will probably all the time have an idea where this book is going to. There were no surprises in the narrative. Enjoyment was to be found not from suspense, but from seeing how Cline borrows different aspects of a story already known to me. While I quickly realized that there probably would not be any massive twists and turns here, I kept hoping for a some sort of surprise element. It feels like Cline holds her protagonist Evie so near and dear to her heart that there is not even a chance of her finding herself in any sort of problem. The present chapters very quickly reveal Evie's involvement in the events of the summer of 1969 and not much is left for surprise.
Evie is an interesting character in her own right, but as mentioned, the way Cline writes about her, constantly protecting her, manages to make her uninteresting at moments where tension could have been created to the narrative. The way Evie lives - drinking Martinis as a 14-year-old, spending days alone etc - feels very distant and strange to me. Of course, the time was different back in 1969, but this novel made me realize quite how different it was for some. The relationship between Suzanne and Evie has a lot of potential, but unfortunately Cline keeps it quite vague. This serves a certain kind of purpose within the novel, but at the same time I kept hoping it would be the factor that would would create some more narrative tension to the story.
Surprisingly, this novel was far less disturbing that I expected it to be. There are a few scenes with explicit sexual content or violence, but other than that, it is more of a discovery of being a young woman/girl and finding our place in life rather than a story about violence or sex. Cline writes beautifully, but at times her prose feels like TOO MUCH - there are moments when the story drags and it feels like Cline has tried to substitute these moments with prose that just does not make sense.
I really wanted to like this book, but unfortunately the moment I finished with it, I just felt "meh". If I had known less about the Manson Family I feel like I might have liked this more, but with the previous knowledge I had, this book ended up being very predictable for me. Cline has a lot of potential and her writing is occasionally beautiful, which makes me willing to see what she comes up with next. ...more