Cover Impressions: Meh. Not a fan. The color is awful and clashes grossly with the "Reco...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: Meh. Not a fan. The color is awful and clashes grossly with the "Recorded Books" bands. I am not a fan of the all small letter title and author name, nor of the odd picture in the corner. It all feels a little hipster to me and I'm not sure that I am cool enough for it.
The Gist: Charlie is starting his first year of High School. Feeling more than a little scared, he begins writing letters to a mysterious reader and chronicles the life of he and his newfound friends. His letters are filled with astute observations and a frank openness that allows a rare glimpse into the mind of a sensitive, damaged, and troubled young man who is struggling to find himself.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower was one of those books that I think I enjoyed more as an audio book than I would have as a physical book. The narrative is told through the letters that Charlie writes to a mysterious reader. This format would appear to be rather limiting but it actually works quite well in allowing an in-depth glimpse into the mind of a very intelligent, but damaged young man.
Charlie does not view the world the way that an average 16 year old would. He feels things and notices things that others would simply pass by. He is also maddeningly selfless, to the point where he allows others to hurt him, rather than speak out against their actions. Below the surface, however, lies a font of anger and the possibility of violence. Charlie is the type of character that you want to hug. Entering is world makes me wonder about my own students and what issues they might be dealing with that we can never see.
The other characters were so fascinating and compelling that I am a little disappointed in never being able to see their side of the story. I would actually be very happy if Chbosky were to write two companion novels chronicling that one year of high school but from Sam and Patrick's points of view. The reason I chose to finally read this book, was because of the trailer and the casting of Emma Watson as Sam. Having finished the book, I can now say that I am very much looking forward to seeing the movie and I hope they do these wonderful characters justice.
I would like to note that this is not a book that I would place in my junior high classroom. There are many instances of drug use, sex and violence that would make me recommend it for an older audience.
Age: 16 and up (AT LEAST!) Gender: Both Sex: Masturbation, Rape, Molestation, Heterosexual Sex, Homosexual Sex Violence: Fighting, Rape, Suicide Inappropriate Language: Fuck, Queer, Faggot, Pussy Substance Use/Abuse: Marijuana use, Smoking, Underage Drinking, Use of LSD(less)
Cover Impressions: I really like this cover. The colors are muted but eye-catching. You...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: I really like this cover. The colors are muted but eye-catching. You get just enough of a feel for the setting of the book and I LOVE that the cupcake dresses are featured.
The Gist: Phoebe Swift has suffered a terrible loss. Riddled with guilt and regret, she removes every trace of her old life and sets up Village Vintage, a vintage clothing shop, in the hopes of burying herself so fully in her business that she does not have time to dwell on the past. In sourcing clothing for her shop, Phoebe encounters Therese Bell, an elderly woman with painful past of her own. Through the tale of a child's blue coat, both women will come to a new understanding of love, loss and regret.
Review: In moving to a new school this year, I found myself in the thick of traffic for the first time since I started working. In an attempt to circumvent the frustration of the bumper to bumper drive, I turned to the audio of A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff. The narrator, Violet Mathieson, had a wonderful voice couple with a beautiful accent. She was also quite skilled in creating voices and accents for each of the characters. A Vintage Affair so enraptured me that I actually looked forward to getting stuck in traffic as it ensured me a few more moments in that world.
The characters themselves are almost all deeply flawed and beautifully broken. The pain of both Phoebe and Mrs. Bell was palpable, as was the love for their lost friends and their regret at not having made different choices. Supporting them, was a cast of men and women who all had issues of their own and who evoked in the reader a sense of understanding and sadness. There are no villains here.
The descriptions in this novel made me long to walk into Village Vintage, to hear the bell tinkle overhead and to trace my hand along some of the beautiful fabrics that were sure to greet me. If you have not developed a love of vintage clothing already, A Vintage Affair will certainly set you on that path. I, personally, have fantasies of a deep purple cupcake dress.
While this novel is not exactly fast paced, it doesn't lag either. The stories unfold themselves in intervals and, more often than not, the readers sneaking suspicions are proved correct. The true beauty in this novel lies in the underlying humanity behind the characters' actions and the pain and regret that is so relatable by anyone who has suffered a loss.
I highly recommend a venture into the painful and poignant world that Isabel Wolff has created. (less)
There are no words and if I try to find any, I will start to cry ... again.
Teaching Note: One instance of sex, but pretty tasteful. Favorite Quotes:
- "...moreThere are no words and if I try to find any, I will start to cry ... again.
Teaching Note: One instance of sex, but pretty tasteful. Favorite Quotes:
- "I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once."
- " 'Keep your shit together,' I whispered to my lungs"
- "Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.
- " 'Oh, I wouldn't mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.' "
- " 'When the scientists of the future show up at my house with robot eyes and they tell me to try them on, I will tell the scientists to screw off, because I do not want to see a world without him' "(less)
I don't quite see why everyone seems to rave about this book. It was enjoyable, don't get me wrong, but the beginning was confusing to the point of fr...moreI don't quite see why everyone seems to rave about this book. It was enjoyable, don't get me wrong, but the beginning was confusing to the point of frustration and I figured out all of the plot revelations long before the main character did.
Teaching Note: - Recommended for advanced junior high readers (with a modicum of patience) - Tasteful sex talk, appropriate for grade 9 or mature grade 8(less)
Great Characters, sweet story with elements of danger. It is the characters that make this book. I found myself chuckling along with some of their lin...moreGreat Characters, sweet story with elements of danger. It is the characters that make this book. I found myself chuckling along with some of their lines and waiting with baited breath for the moment when Lucy would figure out who Shadow is (view spoiler)[I was so happy that she figured it out on her own and that we aren't told exactly when she did so or how long she pretended not to know. (hide spoiler)]
- Recommended for grade 9 and up. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This book kept cropping up in recommendations by goodreads, on websites and from friends who know my reading style. I resisted for several months but...moreThis book kept cropping up in recommendations by goodreads, on websites and from friends who know my reading style. I resisted for several months but finally relented and started the audio book. I am new to audio books and still deciding whether or not I like them. The voice, Jim Dale (whom you might remember as the narrator from Pushing Daisies) was remarkably well matched to the writing style of this book. Though I eventually switched to the ebook (the audio was simply taking too long and I wanted to get into the meat of the story), the voice stayed with me and I believe it enhanced my reading. While listening to the audio, I also found the time jumping very confusing but was much better able to manage once I started reading and could easily flip back to check dates and get things straight in my head.
The Night Circus is beautifully written, with characters that will enchant any reader. Though the love story unfolds so slowly one barely sees it happening, I believe this is much more realistic than the "instant and undying love at first sight" that is popular in many novels today.
- OMG (view spoiler)[Friedrick's death - this is where I really started to sit up and pay attention, immediately wishing I could stay up all night to finish (though the demands of motherhood preventing me from doing so (hide spoiler)] - Loved the Tree connection (Bailey's tree, the Tree of Wishes, Widget's story, the trees in Marco's books. - I want to be a Reveur!
- It bothers him most at times like this, in the bottom of the brandy bottle and the quiet of the night. - I am haunted by the ghost of my father, I think that should allow me to quote Hamlet as much as I please - Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
It was surprising how much I enjoyed this book. It was not fast-paced, nor exciting and the first few pages had me doubting if I could come to like th...moreIt was surprising how much I enjoyed this book. It was not fast-paced, nor exciting and the first few pages had me doubting if I could come to like the author's style. The characters, however, are what made it. I very much disliked Francesca at the beginning. She chose horrible friends, was unwilling to take any risks and was complacent whenever anyone else was being treated terribly. (view spoiler)[I understand now, that Francesca had to start from a place this low in order to show the growth she did by the end of the novel. Once the others worm their way into Francesca's life, the story is much more enjoyable. (hide spoiler)] I often lament that authors attempt to write about teenagers without having spent any time with them. They could learn a thing or two from Marchetta (I'm talking to you Maggie Stiefvater). The dialogue and interactions between the characters feels real and has an appropriate amount of poor language for the age group. I found myself wanting to hang out with the girls on Alanis night and I cracked up at the boys antics. This was my first foray into the world of Melina Marchetta and I couldn't quite come up for air yet, so I immediately started The Piper's Son.
Side Notes: (view spoiler)[- Literally laughed out loud at several points, including rosary night and the S biscuits (These tidbits are what makes for good reading - take note authors). - Literally "Yes"d (imagine fist pump in the air a la Bender in the last scene of The Breakfast Club) when Francesca got up to dance with Thomas - Love Thomas "For a moment I can't help thinking how decent he is - that there's some hope for him beyond the obnoxious image he displays. Maybe deep down he is a sensitive guy, who sees us as real people with real issues. I want to say something nice. Some kind of thanks. I stand there, rehearsing it in my mind. 'Oh my God,' he says, 'did you see that girl's tits?' Maybe not today. - Love Jimmy, especially how he follows Francesca home despite being told "You're not coming home with me, Jimmy", and how he calls her father Rob, despite the fact that he clearly hates it.
- "My grandmother's disapproval of the way Mia runs the household is very vocal. I shouldn't walk around naked in front of my brother, for example, and nor should my mother." WTF? I'm going to wholeheartedly agree with Nonna on this one!" - "I loved those times on the beach at the end of the day, when the sun was gone and our sunburn would make us shiver in the cool breeze. Luca and I would lie against my parents, licking the salt off their arms ..." Seriously???
I realize the book is written by an Australian and takes place there, is this some type of cultural barrier between Australia and Canada? Or is it just that Francesca's family is a little strange, because seriously, I'm an adult and seeing my parents walking around naked would still scar me for life and I can't, even in a post-apocalyptic world, imagine a circumstance in which I would be tempted to lick salt off of them - *shiver*. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The very beginning of this novel was heart wrenching. Watching families be torn apart was very painful and I had to stop several time rather than be o...moreThe very beginning of this novel was heart wrenching. Watching families be torn apart was very painful and I had to stop several time rather than be overwhelmed with what these people went through. Strangely, that feeling went away as the book went on. The relationship between Lina and Andrius is sweet, endearing and feels real. (Thank you Ruta for not resorting to the instant and all encompassing (and utterly unbelievable) LUV at first sight that so many authors seem to be creating for their teenage characters). The character of the mother shows remarkable strength and it is through her that we are able to see the kindness of humanity in the face of overwhelming adversity.
(view spoiler)[ - The Russians are shown as very one dimensional. I spent much of the novel hoping for some show of kindness but was disappointed. (The actions of Kretcsky(sp?) were not impressive enough for my taste) - The mother crumbles rather quickly. I found it unbelievable that a character who had already proven herself to be so strong would simply give up once she was told her husband was dead. The Elena I thought I knew would have rallied in order to save her children. - I enjoyed the character of The Bald Man, but kept expecting more to be revealed about him, why did he know so much? Why did the Russians keep him around when he was injured? Where was his family? - Did Lina's Dad really die? - If Lina buried the book after she was freed, why doesn't she write anything about how/when they were released? Honestly, the ending feels tacked on. It was reminiscent of when one of my students reaches the page requirement for an assignment and then quickly wraps up the story so that they don't have to write any more. (hide spoiler)]
Ultimately, Shades of Gray feels like Schindler's List cleaned up for a Young Adult audience but without the shocking scenes and heartbreaking sorrow that makes the former so powerful.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)