Audio Review: I chose to listen to The Book Thief because I couldn’t get into the book reading it traditional...moreAudio review originally posted at YA Love
Audio Review: I chose to listen to The Book Thief because I couldn’t get into the book reading it traditionally. Thankfully, Allan Corduner is an excellent narrator and really made Markus Zusak’s book come alive. His voice is easy to listen to and his accent fits the story perfectly. His voices fit the different characters well, which added to my enjoyment of the audio. If you’re like me and are either hesitant to read The Book Thief traditionally, or you’ve tried reading it and couldn’t get into it, I suggest giving the audio a try.
Book Review: I enjoyed The Book Thief, but I didn’t love it to pieces like so many others. I appreciate the story, and I love that Death is the narrator, but something is missing for me. I guess I sort of felt like, “So what?” when I finished listening. Thinking that and writing that makes me feel like a horrible person. I understand that “books feed the soul” but I think I needed something more than that from the story.
Maybe I need to admit to myself that World War II/Holocaust stories don’t work for me anymore. I’m a history minor and understand the importance of the time period. I have a tough time finishing these novels because I know how all of them end–tragically. Yes, that’s a generalization, and yes, The Book Thief ends with a sense of hope. But from this story in particular, which I did finish, I needed something more.
I will say, however, that the writing it beautiful and the character development is wonderful. I can easily see why it received the Printz Honor. Hopefully the movie will affect me more than the book did.(less)
Really great audiobook and story. This is a wonderful coming of age story with lots of character development and heartwarming moments. I'm not satisfi...moreReally great audiobook and story. This is a wonderful coming of age story with lots of character development and heartwarming moments. I'm not satisfied with the ending and where the story went with Lily. The conflict with his dad could have been solved better as well.(less)
This year has been a big year for war-related contemporary YA. When I found out about Corrine Jackson’s debut, If I Lie, I knew I had to read it and I...moreThis year has been a big year for war-related contemporary YA. When I found out about Corrine Jackson’s debut, If I Lie, I knew I had to read it and I’m really glad I did.
I don’t know what it is about serious contemporary YA novels, but I love them. I’ve realized that my class library is full of them. If I Lie is serious and emotional, but there’s a nice mix of humor and warmth as well. Jackson covers some heavy issues like varyious forms of bullying. Quinn’s turned into a pariah and deemed a traitor after a compromising picture of her cheating on her boyfriend is spread across the Internet. The cyber bullying is a primary focus, but it’s present enough to give a reader pause. Quinn is bullied constantly. Her locker is violated, her friends have abandoned her, and she’s called names over and over again. I was shocked that she handles it as well as she does. I would hope that a military town would act differently, but in this war-ridden climate it’s easy to believe what happens to Quinn. Most of the humor comes from Quinn’s interactions with the war veteran, George, she spends time with. I loved his character because he’s really caring but he’s sharp and witty too.
After around 50 pages or so I started wondering where the story was going to take me. Corrine Jackson sets it up so we discover the big secret early on, but the full picture and background of it is broken up throughout the story. Once I realized that was happening I understood the pacing better and enjoyed it. Besides bullying, Quinn’s life is paralleled with her mother’s life. Her mom faced a similar situation as Quinn which haunts Quinn regularly. She feels like she’s lived up to the town’s expectations that she’d be just like her mother. So along with flashbacks to before the picture was taken and spread around town, we get flashbacks to when Quinn was still with her mother and what happened at home. The flashbacks are written well and easy to identify when reading. I’m picky about that when I read a book like If I Lie.
Readers who enjoy Courtney Summers or books like Speak will most likely enjoy If I Lie. It’s a quick read full of heart with a main character who, despite what everyone around town thinks, is incredibly loyal. I predict it will be popular in my classroom since there’s so much students can relate to. Readers who have tough relationships with their parents will connect with this. Readers who have been subject to bullying and gossip will connect with this. Readers who have fallen for the wrong person will connect with this. If I Lie is a strong contemporary debut and I look forward to reading more of Corrine Jackson’s work.(less)
I’ve read quite a few rave reviews for Trish Doller’s debut Something Like Normal, so I looked it up on NetGalley...moreReview originally posted at Y.A. Love
I’ve read quite a few rave reviews for Trish Doller’s debut Something Like Normal, so I looked it up on NetGalley to request a copy. As soon as I received the approval email I downloaded Something Like Normal to my Kindle and started reading. If I hadn’t started it while visiting my grandpa in the hospital, I would have finished this in one sitting because it’s that good. If I could get away with writing a review that says “READ IT!” I would just do that because it’s hard to form words for such a wonderful story.
Over the years I’ve learned about myself that if I can’t connect with a character then I won’t enjoy the book. I’ve also learned that I mostly prefer first-person point of view. Something Like Normal fits both of those preferences, plus it features a male protagonist which is something I’m always looking for. Travis is on leave from the Marines and he’s really suffering after witnessing the death of his close friend Charlie. He’s also dealing with coming home to a family that’s been falling apart since his deployment. I really like that Trish Doller wrote Travis the way she did because he’s not written as a hero. He’s written as a suffering young man who’s trying to recover and make amends. He’s trying to become a better man, a man he can be proud of. I can see a number of teenage guys relating to Travis, especially if they’re considering joining the Marines or another part of the armed forces. Many of my seniors that enlist do so because they hope it will shape them into a better person; they hope it will provide some guidance in life. Travis says he really doesn’t know why he joined, but his character made me think of past seniors I had in class that enlisted because they wanted guidance or a sense of direction in their lives. I always appreciate a story with a hero, but there’s something about a story with a flawed character that a reader can’t help but love. Travis’s voice is real and authentic; it’s how I imagine many teenage guys think and feel and act.
I’ve noticed that more Y.A. novels are featuring characters who have graduated from high school. I hope to see more published like this because it’s an excellent way for upperclassman to relate to what’s in their future. It’s also a way to keep teens reading Y.A. beyond high school. Even though Travis is done with school and has been in situations and done and witnessed things most adults never will, he’s still dealing with family drama and common relationship insecurities/dilemmas. I doubt Travis returned home expecting to fall for a girl, especially when his ex-girlfriend has moved on to his brother. His life is complicated, but after running into Harper everything starts to turn around. As I was reading Something Like Normal, I didn’t know what to expect from Harper, but I ended up loving her character. Really, I love Travis and Harper together as a couple. They form the kind of relationship where they work off each other. They mesh in that perfect, awkward, kind of rough around the edges way, but those edges begin to smooth over. Travis isn’t perfect, far from it actually, but his effort to become better is endearing. We see these efforts in his relationship with his mother and with Harper. Both of these women make Travis want to become a better person which is when we see the rough edges smooth over.
Trish Doller includes flashbacks and nightmares in Something Like Normal which give us an idea of the suffering and experiences Travis goes through. I appreciate these scenes for two reasons. My first reason is because it breaks up the family and relationship drama Travis is going through at home. I know many readers enjoy romance and relationship issues in the books they read, but for the readers that want a little less of that, these flashbacks and nightmares will add a welcome break. The second reason I like these scenes is because it gives us a more well-rounded idea of who Travis is and what life is like for soldiers in Afghanistan. I can’t imagine returning home and constantly searching the floor for bombs. Or preferring to sleep on the floor rather than my bed. Or feeling vulnerable without my gun in my hands. These scenes are an invaluable layer to the story.
My only issue with Something Like Normal is that I’m done reading it and I don’t have another book by Trish Doller to read next. I feel like I haven’t expressed enough how completely fantastic this debut is. There isn’t anything I disliked or would change. It’s an engrossing story that I predict will be a huge hit in my classroom. Actually, I wish it released earlier than June 19th so my current students could read it since I don’t have a physical ARC to share with them.(less)
While He Was Away is full of hope and emotion. It takes a while to get to know Penna for who she really is once David is gone, but it's worth the wait...moreWhile He Was Away is full of hope and emotion. It takes a while to get to know Penna for who she really is once David is gone, but it's worth the wait. I also enjoyed that we get more from the book than just how Penna is coping during David's absence. We get to watch her create friendships with those around her, the struggle between her and her mom, and also watch as Penna uncovers secrets about her family. (less)
Personal Effects is a strong debut, so strong that I'm looking forward to reading more of E.M. Kokie's books....moreFlash Review originally posted at YA Love
Personal Effects is a strong debut, so strong that I'm looking forward to reading more of E.M. Kokie's books. Matt is a a well-written character with a believable male voice; Personal Effects will appeal to both my male and female students. I loved watching his character grow and I enjoyed the supporting characters as well. I do think there's slightly too much focus on T.J. and the answers Matt discovers. I appreciated this part of the story, but I wanted more from Matt at the end of the book and less of T.J. T.J.'s story overshadows Matt's towards the end.
Also, is it just me or is the "tough military dad" trope getting old? I understand why Matt's dad is written this way and how it's necessary to the story, but overall I'm bored with it, especially with all of the military YA being released. There has to be some kind military fathers out there, right?
Overall, Kokie has written a solid and enjoyable book that I know my students will love.(less)
This is a really cool picture storybook dealing with the Japanese internment camps during WWII. I'm going to recommend that our history department use...moreThis is a really cool picture storybook dealing with the Japanese internment camps during WWII. I'm going to recommend that our history department use this when they teach Hiroshima and/or when they teach their WWII unit.(less)
This was okay. I'm not all that impressed by the mix of story and image. Actually, the two parts need more balance. The story itself is fine, if a lit...moreThis was okay. I'm not all that impressed by the mix of story and image. Actually, the two parts need more balance. The story itself is fine, if a little tidy in its ending.(less)