While I'm still too young to know if my best friend and I will be able to withstand the challenges that life throws us once we are adults, I could seeWhile I'm still too young to know if my best friend and I will be able to withstand the challenges that life throws us once we are adults, I could see our friendship in Gayle and Pat's younger years. I think any girl will be nodding her head, laughing and feeling the pain of the main characters, the best friends. The character development is excllent. The authors make you really care about the characters' and their problems. I didn't want this book to be completely realistic because I wanted everyone to have a happy ending. I admit, I was skeptical about how realistic all the drama was, especially in Gayle's situation. I didn't think it was possible for anyone to hit so many lows so fast, but I still felt immense sympathy for her.
I stayed up very late to finish this novel, needing to know that karma existed and would come back to haunt all those who mistreated Gayle, Pat and Marcus. I was cringing at parts, wondering how friends could say such horrible things to other, but family and friends know what to say to hurt us the most. I highly recommend this book, it's perfect for a women's book club or just reading it wth all your girlfriends. I was relived to find out there is a sequel and I can't wait to go get it.
I wonder how the authors write together? I bet it can be a true test of friendship but they pull it off so well!...more
Let's just get out of the way what I didn't like. I didn't like Spider. Well I liked his character, but he seemed random. I didn't get enough of a feeLet's just get out of the way what I didn't like. I didn't like Spider. Well I liked his character, but he seemed random. I didn't get enough of a feel for his character to understand why he was constantly in Sea's thoughts (how can there even be a Team Deni and Team Spider?). Sweet enough but he was no Deni. By that same token, Deni was too-perfect. He didn't really have any noticeable flaws. OK he smoked, but not a lot and that didn't bother me much. I also wanted to see Sea spend more time with the orphans. I knew it was a romance, so I guess I should have expected more focus on the romance part of the story, but I was really interested in the work Team Hope was doing. The stories of the orphans were heartbreaking (even more so when I consider that I, personally, hadn't even thought of the tsunami victims since 2004. Yeah I suck) and I liked reading about how Sea was able to connect with them, they were both going through a form of post-traumatic stress.
I was surprisingly swept away by the romance. The author's writing is such that she easily convinced me that the connection between Sea and Deni was instant and intense. Even though I say intense, it never goes very far. I mean intense in the sense of feelings they have for each other, they become best friends so quickly, willingly to follow each other anywhere. Deni is absolutely adorable and even though he was too perfect, I was happy to accept that fact. He was vulnerable and he helped Sea to move on, just as she helped him. While working on this review, I tempted to say I didn't like the ending, but that wouldn't be fair. I didn't like it, but it was well done. And the only reason I didn't like it is because it made me show some emotion. I was totally sniffling and very surprised. I loved the bits with the orphans because not only did we get to see Sea (haha) come out of her shell, bit by bit, but the children also grew emboldened. I also really liked that the American relief workers weren't hailed as saviors, some people viewed them with distrust (and rightly so because we Americans tend to rush to help right away and then forget). Going with that, all those who tried to "help" didn't have the purest of motives, American or otherwise. I liked that this aspect of charity work wasn't ignored.
Sea tells a tale that lives up to its name, both the character and the body of water. Sienna is a bit hesitant, but she really steps up when needed. She's impulsive, magnanimous, smart, and wholly endearing. Like the body of water, the story is calm and stately at times, then it becomes piercing and passionate. Since I'm already using a ton of cliches, I might as well keep going. The romance will sweep you off your feet. I thought the romance would be needed-relief from the heart wrenching stories of the tsunami, but instead it piles on the heartache. And that's OK. It's what makes this story so great and sets it apart from the rest. I don't think all of the characters are unforgettable, but I enjoyed spending time with all of them (or getting annoyed at them). Sea and Deni will not be forgotten after closing these pages, at least not right away. Not only do we read about an enticing romance, we learn about parts of Indonesian culture and we are reminded that after a crisis, we can't just rush to help and then forget. And we can't just feel pity because that's lazy. We need to work to understand, remember and respect. ...more
This book is hilarious. Within the first few pages I was already chuckling as T.C. explains that every member of his family has the name of a famous RThis book is hilarious. Within the first few pages I was already chuckling as T.C. explains that every member of his family has the name of a famous Red Sox player "I even have an Aunt Bane and an Aunt Ruth. (This was a lucky coincidence. They met thirty-eight years ago at a Bobby Kennedy rally in Rockport and they've been together ever since. Aunt Babe swears they would have fallen in love even if Aunt Ruth's name had been Sheba, but I'm not so sure). " (pg. 2) Ale, T.C. and Augie are the greatest group of friends. Witty, kind, loyal and a tad bit insane. They do some frustrating things (Ale made me finally understand why guys think girls are so impossible to understand. I didn't even always understand her reasoning on issues of romance, and I'm a girl!) but almost always redeem themselves. This is one of the rare YA novels where the parents don't fade into the background. We meet Augie's surreal parents (both accept the fact that he's gay without question, they always know what to say and his mother trashes every Broadway play that comes to town), T.C.'s engineer father (his romantic endeavors are so cute and he's so supportive of T.C.), and Ale's parents (her father was an ambassador to Mexico, I'm not sure what her mother does). Ale's parents weren't as prominent as Augie and T.C.'s but we learned more about them than usual for a YA novel. Ale, Augie and T.C. have to keep a diary during their freshman year. Augie writes to a different diva every week (ranging from Angela Lansbury to Judy Garland), T.C. writes to his mother and Ale writes to Jacqueline Kennedy. These diaires provide an intimate glimpse into the lives of these characters.
My Most Excellent Year contains a wonderful air of incredulity but readers will be so charmed by all the characters, the swift moving plot and the setting of Brookline, MA that they won't mind. The IMS, emails, letters and newspaper articles all add to this story and give a better idea of the events and characters. The humor will delight readers and the actions of the characters are truly inspiring and very touching. Readers will walk away from this book knowing a lot about Broadway and its divas, the Red Sox and knowing that they will have to decide whose better: Jack Kennedy or Bobby Kennedy? (It's hard to say, but I choose Jack)
Disclosure: I'm a Cubs fan first, Yankees 2nd, no room for Sox of any kind (White Sox on a very very bad day). ...more
I was disappointed at the Michael storyline, I thought it ran predictable but it doesn't really matter because once the truth about Michael is revealeI was disappointed at the Michael storyline, I thought it ran predictable but it doesn't really matter because once the truth about Michael is revealed, the plot quickly becomes unpredictable. The real world seemed to take a backseat to all the monsters and the work of the Templars. Billi comes to school with bruises from all her fights and her teachers wonder about the bruises, but they never press the issue. Also her father was so cruel and I thought the explanation was too convenient (I happily accepted it though in order to move on to more mystery supernatural stuff). The pacing could be a bit off as well, sudden bursts of violence and terror, than a lull of calm intermixed with a dash of real life. I wanted it to flow a little smoother.
Other than that, I loved every minute of this story.This book has one of the best beginnings. It sucks you right in because it starts with Billi being assigned to murder a child. That's all I'll say about that. My favorite part of the book was probably the violent paranormal aspect of it. The author isn't trying to make nice, "sparkly" vampires or friendly monsters. Oh no, his monsters are more true to their original self; completely and utterly terrifying. There are vampires (called ghuls), werewolves, fallen angels, etc. and all of them are downright nasty. The author doesn't tell us about the wicked battles occurring, he shows us and it's INTENSE. Another part of the book that is extremely well done is how religion is handled. Billi is half Pakistani and her mother was Muslim, but when her mother died, her white Christan father raised her. The Knights Templar are Christians but the book draws upon myths and other religions. It makes several mentions of events that occurred in the Bible and the author uses his imagination to fill in conversations mentioned in the Bible (for example what Moses and the angel talked about after the unleashing of the ten plagues). It's an interesting take and provides quite a lot of food for thought.
And the ending :0 I sort of called it but I wanted so desperately to be wrong. You can't fully predict the whole ending, only bits and pieces. My heart was in my mouth and I was on the edge of my seat towards the end. Finally, you have Billi. All the characters were great (tie for second favorite character goes to Elaine or Percival), but Billi is amazing. She is spirited, the weight of the world is on her shoulders and she acts her age. Sometimes she whines a bit and makes some stupid decisions and then has to clean up the aftermath. But she's a fighter, honest and stubborn. One of my new favorite heroines. Elaine is a straightforward, loving Jewish woman who works with the Templars. She has some amusing lines and cool powers. I'm eager to learn more about her interesting backstory. Percival (Percy) replaced Billi's father, as someone for Billi to look up to. He was in charge of teaching her how to use weapons, but he was one of the few Templars (there are only nine) who remembers that Billi is HUMAN, not just a killing machine. He looks after her (sidenote: he's from Senegal) and we love him for it.
Devil's Kiss is a mesmerizing tale with a valiant and realistic main character at its heart. The monsters are scary, the battle scenes intense, the mythology and religious aspect will make you think and the romantic tension between characters is believable. Each character jumps off the page, a force to be reckoned with, unwilling to remain a background character. This is one of those special books where each time you re-read it, you will find something new to think about...more
This is a silly thing to dislike and I didn't dislike it per se but I genuinely did not understand the Rumi quotes. My confusion over what he was4.5/5
This is a silly thing to dislike and I didn't dislike it per se but I genuinely did not understand the Rumi quotes. My confusion over what he was saying made me feel like a complete idiot but maybe in time I will understand better. For now I'm content just thinking that he writes vague poetry that celebrates nature, simplicity and individuality (and that might not even be right). I was bothered by the fact that the Layla storyline was really cliche, whimsical mother kept safe/protected by down-to-earth daughter who desperately wants her mother to change. I was hoping Layla would have a less abrupt change (ex: *spoiler highlight to read* What made the one accident in Ecuador lead Layla back to Jeff? Why didn't Layla do that when she had other close-calls and Zeeta begged her to go back to a 'normal' life?* End of spoiler*) and be a little less of a caricature.
This book left me with a serious case of wanderlust. It was hard for me at first to fathom how Zeeta could want to give up her traveling lifestyle with Layla. She spoke seven different languages and had already lived in fifteen different countries. I want to travel the world and speak at least four languages so badly, I'm envious of all those who get to travel and it's hard for me to understand people/characters who don't appreciate the immense opportunity they've been given to travel the world. The author did an excellent job of (almost) completely immersing me in the world of Otavalo (I do wish more Quichua and Spanish words had been thrown in). The hustle and bustle of the market, the loud, cajoling calls of the vendors to tourists with backpacks and water bottles, the dazzling crystal caves in a quiet village, every scene is described in glowing terms down to the most minut detail. Zeeta is the typical teenager in that she doesn't know exactly what she wants and often feels torn between two different sides. She is observant, meticulous and she has a cautiously adventurous spirit. I didn't think Zeeta was boringly practical because she was always willing to explore, she just wanted to know her mother had a financial nest egg for their future.
The Indigo Notebook excels in bringing to life the colors, sounds, smells and even the textures of Ecuador to readers who may never get the chance to visit the country. Not only does it provide more than a cursory glance at life in Ecuador but it opens the page to the larger world of Central American culture (obviously Latin American cultures are very diverse but there are some unifying/common elements). The 'treatment' of being bicultural/multiracial was rarely mentioned but when it was, it was handled deftly. Zeeta's mother is white but Layla doesn't remember what ethnicity her father was but it's clear he wasn't white (and that is why this is not an off-color review). Zeeta observes (and is somewhat irked) that the conversation between Layla and her new 'boy toy' will soon "take a turn to how 'mixed-race' kids always turn out beautiful-in the same way that mutts are tougher than purebreds-and then he'll ask, Where is her father from anyway?" (pg. 6). Through Wendall's avid search for his birth parents, Zeeta is able to live vicariously through him because she doesn't have a clue as to her father's name and where he might live. This is a tale that I was absolutely enamored with due to its fantastic setting of Ecuador, mostly unique characters and the fact that Ecuador did not overpower Zeeta and the other characters. The setting did not overtake the plot and/or the characters which is something that I think is quite important. Otavalo was a major character in and of itself but it wasn't more important than Zeeta, Wendall, and a few other characters. I can't wait to read the next book in the series, The Ruby Notebook!
In Touching Snow, thirteen year old Karina is worried about a few things; her grades (3 Ds, one C), being sent to the principal's office, being the moIn Touching Snow, thirteen year old Karina is worried about a few things; her grades (3 Ds, one C), being sent to the principal's office, being the most unpopular girl at her school and bracing herself for being beaten by her stepfather. Her stepfather is finally put in jail on child abuse charges. Problem solved right? Wrong. Karina's family and a few other adults want Karina to take the blame for the injuries her stepfather (called the Daddy) gave to her older sister, Enid. At the heart of this novel is the question of how far people will go to protect the ones they love (along with the idea of some adults only seeing what they want to see "Why did I keep thinking some adult somewhere was finally going to start acting like one?" Karina, pg. 101). This story might have one of the best opening lines ever: The best way to avoid being picked on by high school bullies is to kill someone." I was instantly transfixed. What was Karina referring to?
I hated this book. Yup, you read that sentence right. But it gets a 5/5. I hated that a story like this one needs to be told. I hate that parents abuse their kids and that husbands abuse their wives (and in the rare case, the wife abuses the husband). I don't want these incidents to happen anymore. I hate that this novel made me want to cry and that oftentimes, I forgot that happiness does exist in the world. I hate the Daddy and at some point I got fed up with all the adults in Touching Snow as well. I also grew angry at Karina, her two sisters and her cousins.
I was amazed by this book (it just seems wrong to say I loved this book). I love that the author wrote about a story that needs to be told, from a different perspective. There are few books on child abuse told from the perspective of an immigrant and their family. The issues run a lot deeper. I wholeheartedly believe that it would be easier for a woman born and raised in America to leave her abusive husband than it would be for a recently arrived immigrant from (insert country name here, specifically a 3rd world or an under developed country) to leave her abusive husband. I loved most of the characters in this novel. Karina lives with her mother, the Daddy (her stepfather), her mother, her older sister Enid, her younger sister Delta, her younger brothers Gerald and Roland, Jack and Joseph (her two cousins) and their aunt, Merlude (Jack and Joseph's mom). Karina is completely crazy and yet she can be very rational. She makes up some strange stories and gets herself into odd situations but she is very determined and resourceful. Her oldest sister Enid is fantastic. Enid really steps up and takes care of the house while their mother works long hours. She protects her relatives when she can and she' makes big sacrifices for them. From Karina's Menudo-obsessed friend Rachel (who happens to be white) to the mysterious Augustin to the Daddy's brother, Uncle Jude, all the characters are fleshed out.
Touching Snow is intense. Honestly, I'm glad I didn't have the time to finish this novel in one sitting because I needed a break from it, to see some happiness and sunshine. Obviously a story about child abuse is going to produce a strong reaction in anyone, but I think the reason this novel really resonated with me is because the author did such a great job with the details. She doesn't shy away from anything and her choice of words to describe the injuries inflicted by the Daddy make it painstakingly clear and vivid in the reader's mind. At the same time, she managed to make me smile through the pain. While we are reading about the abuse, we are also learning about Haiti and its culture and how difficult it is to be an immigrant in America. One of my favorite lines from the novel is when Karina is explaining about her extended family: "Gran and Aunt Jacqueline are more like sisters than mother and daughter, and they don't get along at all, but they live together. My cousin Edner says that's because Haitian people like to torture themselves. They're so used to being miserable that whenever they aren't, they have to go find something to be miserable about. He says that's why Aunt Jacqueline-that's his mom-went and got Gran from Haiti. After Aunt Jacqueline's first husband died, she didn't have anyone to fight with except her kids, and that wasn't enough." (pg.73) Doesn't this sound like someone you know? Ignore the Haitian part for the moment. Don't we all know someone in our lives who likes to be miserable all the time? This statement seemed to be maddeningly accurate when I read about the actions of the characters. Besides the assimilation story, another interesting subplot was about how Haitians don't view themselves as Black. But white Americans do.
Touching Snow is a powerful, compelling debut novel. M. Sindy Felin is truly gifted in that, she injects some light-hearted moments into this novel that threatens to suck you into an abyss of sadness. The apathy of the well crafted characters is so frustrating, you will be absolutely riveted. The worst and best part is that the reader will be able to sympathize or at least understand all the characters and the motives behind their actions. There are some loose ends (nothing too suspenseful), but not everything is wrapped up neatly in life either. My emotions in reading Touching Snow ranged from apprehension to sadness to anger. Although, the very last chapter made me smile (let's just say that the person Karina is telling this story to is a pleasant surprise...more
Allas I can't write an adequate review of this book due to lending it to a friend in high school and never getting it back....I read this for AP EngliAllas I can't write an adequate review of this book due to lending it to a friend in high school and never getting it back....I read this for AP English and found it a superb book....more
Incredible Quote (IQ, one of many): "Now he lies in bed remembering every detail of that OCtober afternoon when he first met her, from start to finishIncredible Quote (IQ, one of many): "Now he lies in bed remembering every detail of that OCtober afternoon when he first met her, from start to finish, and over and over. Not just because it is tasty, but because he is trying to sear her into his mind, brand her there aganist future wear. So that neither she nor the alive love of her will fade or scab over the way it had with Violet. For when Joe tries to remember the way it was when he and Violet were young, when they got married, decided to leave Vesper County and move up North to the City almost nothing comes to mind. He recalls dates, of course, events, purchases, activity, even scenes. But he has a tough time trying to catch what it felt like." Joe Trace, pgs 28-29
Since it's Toni Morrison JAZZ is an incredible addition to the standard story of man-cheats-on-wife-marriage-is-recovering. I had to read this book for my Harlem Renaissance class so most of my review is based off my notes. As per usual for a Morrison novel, l this story focuses on generations of women (True Belle-Rose Dear-Violet) although all the major characters get a chance to narrate, including some of the men. Its fascinating to me, and worth pointing out, that the narrator is unknown and unreliable. Until the end when you realize the narrator is THE BOOK ITSELF, whoa The story has a call-and-response air to it, the novel provides information to the reader (calls out) but the reader has to assemble the story for themselves (response). Furthermore several of the stories are repeated, each with a different point of view (just like in a jazz ensemble as my Professor pointed out, each member gets a chance to solo as in the book where everyone gets a chance to narrate) which provides new bits of info to fill out the entire story.
Migration is a central theme of the novel along with dispossession. ITs not just about people moving from the South to the North but also about orphans being disposessed by parents in some way, shape or form. JAZZ explores the reasons Black people did migrate from the South to the North and she especially focuses on the draw of Harlem which she refers to as the City "Nobody says it's pretty here; nobody says it's easy either. What it is is decisive, and if you pay attention to the street plans, all laid out, the City can't hurt you. [...] I like the way the City makes people think they can do what they want and get away with it. [...] Do what you please in the City, it is there to back and frame you no matter what you do. And what goes on its blocks and lots and side streets is anything the strong can think of and the weak will admire. All you have to do is heed the design-the way it's laid out for you, considerate, mindful of where you want to go and what you might need tomorrow" (pgs. 8-9). Improvisation is another strong theme of the novel which goes along with the unreliable narrator. I also love, loved, the names Toni Morrison gave her characters ranging from Joe Trace (the story behind his name, great) to Dorcas (which means "with antlers", that becomes relevant trust me).
An excellent read, especially relating to the Harlem Renaissance time
PS: Something my professor pointed out was that typography is important, such as the fact that there are no page numbers on the lett pages. Does anyone know why that is? He wouldn't tell us :)...more
This is an amazing and sometimes painful story of America's first black public high school, located in Washington D.C. The author is the daughter of This is an amazing and sometimes painful story of America's first black public high school, located in Washington D.C. The author is the daughter of two Dunbar alums and she maintains a respectful tone when dealing with the school, reverential of its history but she includes the views of people who did not like the school, those who gradually became disappointed with it. She includes the multiple sides at play when the school was renovated in the 1970s (many alumni were against it because it destroyed the 1916 building but some alumni were for it and now the school has been newly renovated as modern-day people connected to the school bemoan it's '70s decor and design). I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that Dunbar's journey reflects the journey of many public-high schools in America, a school that used to be triumphant and attract the best talent in teachers and then went through a very serious rough patch and is currently attempting to rebuild and restructure. I love history and this book reminded me of how resilient Black people are, we made the best of a segregated high school and produced some of the finest contributors to our nation' history. It's a shame that it had to be segregated and is still mostly segregated today (the difference being that it is no longer mandated segregation of course). Reading about Dunbar's decline was actually heartbreaking as the atmosphere of the school changed; the caliber of the teachers seemed to deteriorate and the attitudes of the students turned less towards academics. The story becomes much more focused on socio-economics and shows the connection between Dunbar becoming a desegregated public high school and neighborhood-based instead, as the quality of the neighborhood changed so too did the environment inside the school. But the book ends on a hopeful note. The principal and few teachers interviewed seem passionate and dedicated, large sums of money were allocated for Dunbar to get newly renovated and promote it's heritage while leaving plenty of visible encouragement for its new students and their future achievements. I will be following the story of Dunbar with interest because I do think it plays a huge role in the story of public school education. This book read like a story, easy readability with an engaging cast of characters and great setting.
I only wish there had been a section in the back with short biographies and pictures of all the elite and famous Dunbar alumni such as Charles Drew, Benjamin O.Davis Jr., Sen. Edward Brooke, Anna Julia Cooper, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mary Church Terrell, and Jean Toomer (just to name a few).
I loved every page of this book and I cried through most of it because I could not fathom how cruel Melody's classmates were. I can't imagine being soI loved every page of this book and I cried through most of it because I could not fathom how cruel Melody's classmates were. I can't imagine being so mean to someone with special needs, especially not in fifth grade. It's like that expression about picking on someone your own size. I think it's fine to tease kids with special needs as long as they know you ARE KIDDING because kids do tease each other, but that's something friends do. Friends don't make fun of other friends' disabilities. What is that? Oh man I was so so angry while reading this book (it was a mix between tears of anger and tears of sadness). I didn't feel pity for Melody but I was enraged on her behalf. Melody has a wonderful voice, sometimes she's plagued by self-doubt (who isn't?), other times she is confident and she tells it like it is, not really worried about sparing people's feelings. Plus she has a wry sense of humor and she says things that made me crack a smile but I bet my eyes remained sad (if that makes. Basically the jokes were funny but what prompted the jokes wasn't funny). She has spunk, in fact I think she is the epitome of spunky. "When people look at me, I guess they see a girl with short, dark, curly hair strapped into a pink wheelchair. By the way, there is nothing cute about a pink wheelchair. Pink doesn't change a thing" (pg.3).
One of the most powerful moments in the book is when it hits Melody that children around the world have CP. "I stop for a minute and stare at the board. It has never occurred to me that there are kids like me in Germany and China and France who need a machine to help them talk" (pg. 137), how many of us consider that children/people around the world suffer from the same diseases/disabilities we do in the U.S. and many of them probably receive even less help? There were some inconsistencies in the book, for example the character of Rose was simply bizarre. One minute she was cool, the next I wanted to shout at her. I still don't fully understand her character, the other characters were one-dimensional except for Melody's family and Mrs. V. I never really understood how tough it is to care for someone with a disability but after reading this book I have a better idea and appreciation for the work of caregivers. Mrs. V was unimaginably sweet and my heart was warmed knowing that there really are people like her, only a few, but they exist. Melody's parents were wonderfully genuine, they adored Melody but Melody also witnessed the strain caring for her caused them. Especially once her mother had another child, the author acutely describes the loneliness and even resentment Melody feels as well as the guilt for not being able to do basic tasks for herself. Her parents argue fiercely but not all the time and they always make-up, they frustrate Melody and each other but that's realistic.
Out of My Mind left me a bit like Melody, speechless. The only difference being that I had tears running down my cheeks and Melody rarely cries. I admit I overlooked the one-dimensional characters and rather confusing ending along with the choppy pace because the emotional factor was so high. This book left me feeling drained and absolutely terrified (and in awe) of how cruel children can act. I honestly can't imagine anyone in my sixth grade class making fun of a kid with cerebral palsy (but I could see a kid in my fifth grade class doing that which is upsetting). Melody is one of the best main characters I've come across in a while (especially in middle grade) and even though she's fictional, I want her to succeed in life. Shoot, I could read a whole series of books about her. I was hesitant to read this book right away because I knew it would make me cry. I was right but it's the best kind of cry, and this is a great book. A book that leaves you with a deeper sense of comprehension and compassion.