Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Book Review / October 7, 2016

Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz Genre: Fiction Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers Release Date: February 12th, 2012 Format: Audiobook Pages: 359 Source: Library Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be. (via Goodreads) Amazon I read this book as part of Latinx Heritage Month. Want to learn more? Check out this post by Naz @Read Diverse Books! Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a book I originally discovered by accident. I desperately needed a new audiobook and picked this one up because it’s narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda (This quote from the beginning just slayed me: “I sure as hell don’t want to…

The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian
Book Review / September 24, 2016

Title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Author: Sherman Alexie Genre: Fiction Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Release Date: September 12th, 2007 Format: Hardback Pages: 230 Source: Library Illustrator: Ellen Forney Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live. With a forward by Markus Zusak, interviews with Sherman Alexie and Ellen Forney, and four-color interior art throughout, this edition is perfect for fans and collectors alike. (via Goodreads) Amazon The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a book that is simultaneously hilarious and heart-breaking. A powerful story told with a dry sense of…

The Shadow of the Wind
Book Review / September 22, 2016

Title: The Shadow of the Wind Series: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #1 Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon Genre: Fiction Publisher: Penguin Books Release Date: January 25th, 2005 Format: Paperback Pages: 487 Source: Library First Published: 2001, in Spanish Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love. (via Goodreads) Amazon   If only I knew how to write this book review. The Shadow of the Wind enraptured me within paragraphs. I was immediately pulled into a beautiful world of well-woven words. Eventually, I even gave up writing down all my favorite quotes. There were so many great moments and sentences that I…

In the Hand of the Goddess
Book Review / September 18, 2016

Title: In the Hand of the Goddess Series: Song of the Lioness, #2 Author: Tamora Pierce Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers Release Date: April 19th, 2011 Format: eBook Pages: 252 Source: Owned First Published: 1984 From Tamora Pierce, the second book in the Song of the Lioness Quartet, honored with the Margaret A. Edwards Award. Alanna, disguised as a boy, becomes a squire to none other than the heir to the throne. Prince Jonathan is not only Alanna’s liege lord, he is also her best friend – and one of the few who knows the secret of her true identity. But when a vicious sorcerer threatens the prince’s life, it will take all of Alanna’s skill, strength, and magical power to protect him, even at the risk of surrendering her dreams.  (via Goodreads) Amazon   Right from the start, we know that In the Hand of the Goddess will be a more intense book that its predecessor, Alanna: The First Adventure. Opening with Alanna meeting the Goddess herself, Alanna is told she must address her three greatest fears if she is to succeed. That’s right, unlike most fantasy novels, being the Chosen of a goddess doesn’t make…

Holes
Book Review / August 28, 2016

Title: Holes Series: Holes, #1 Author: Louis Sachar Genre: Fiction Publisher: Scholastic Release Date: August 20th, 1998 Format: Paperback Pages: 233 Source: Owned Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnatses. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the boys build character by spending all day, every day digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep. There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. But there are an awful lot of holes. It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. But what could be buried under a dried-up lake? Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption. (via Goodreads) Amazon   It’s not a surprise that this is the first book to win both the Newbery Medal and the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature (1998). This is an incredible story– impeccable storytelling happens in these 233 pages. An effortless weaving of the…

Alanna: The First Adventure
Book Review / August 23, 2016

Title: Alanna: The First Adventure Series: Song of the Lioness, #1 Author: Tamora Pierce Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Simon Pulse Release Date: January 1st, 2005 Format: Hardback Pages: 216 Source: Owned First Published: 1983 From now on I’m Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I’ll be a knight. And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Though a girl, Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Thom heads for the convent to learn magic; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page. But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies. (via Goodreads) Amazon   Recently, I read Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce. It was time to return to a favorite author of my childhood. Reading that book only reminded me that I adore Tamora Pierce. As a child, I read The Song of…

Trickster’s Choice
Book Review / August 13, 2016

Title: Trickster's Choice Series: Daughter of the Lioness, #1 Author: Tamora Pierce Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Scholastic Press Release Date: January 1st, 2003 Format: Audiobook Pages: 453 Source: Library Alianne is the teenage daughter of the famed Alanna, the Lioness of Tortall. Aly is bold and brave like her mother, but she has no wish to become a knight. Instead she longs to follow in her father’s footsteps as a spy, an ambition her parents vehemently oppose. After a furious argument Aly runs away, with disastrous consequences. Captured and sold as a slave in the Copper Isles, she discovers that this whole nightmare has not come about by chance – the Trickster God, Kyprioth, has plans for her… (via Goodreads) Amazon   Growing up, there were a few series of books I read until the spines broke: Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner, Tales of Magic by Edward Eagar, and most importantly The Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce. (Well, most importantly, Harry Potter, but that series extended long past my childhood days…). These books defined my literary formative years, and discovering Trickster’s Choice thrust me back into those beautiful worlds. This newer work by Tamora Pierce reminded me why I…

The Outsiders
Book Review / August 7, 2016

Title: The Outsiders Author: S. E. Hinton Genre: Fiction Publisher: Speak Release Date: September 1st, 1988 Format: Paperback Pages: 192 Source: Library First Published: 1967 According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for “social”) has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he’s always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers–until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy’s skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser. (via Goodreads) Amazon   I chose to read The Outsiders for a couple of reasons: 1. One of my good friends at work said, “Stay gold, Ponyboy.” to me and I was super confused.  Hence, a conversation around this book began. 2. The Outsiders is an integral part of character development in Fangirl. And we all know how much I…

Let’s Get Lost
Book Review / August 5, 2016

Title: Let's Get Lost Author: Adi Alsaid Genre: Young Adult Publisher: Harlequin Teen Release Date: July 29th, 2014 Format: eBook Pages: 304 Source: Library Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named Leila. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most. Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila’s own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth—sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you’re looking for is to get lost along the way. (via Goodreads) Amazon   One summer, a teenaged girl (known in the world of TV Troupes as the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, or MPDG) goes on a long-way-around road trip to see the Northern Lights in Alaska. On the way, she runs into four emotionally stunted teens and the MPDG helps them open up, experience antics, and truly experience life! Road trips, teenage epiphanies, and romance. Yup. Let’s Get Lost is definitely not my cuppa. It was time to let go of…

Bridge to Terabithia
Book Review / May 14, 2016

Title: Bridge to Terabithia Author: Katherine Paterson Genre: Young Adult Fiction Publisher: Trumpet Club Special Edition Release Date: January 1st, 2996 Format: Paperback Pages: 143 Source: Library First Published: 1977 Jess Aarons’ greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in his grade. He’s been practicing all summer and can’t wait to see his classmates’ faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new girl boldly crosses over to the boys’ side and outruns everyone. That’s not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. Together they create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits. (via Goodreads) Amazon   I read this for the first time in my 3rd grade accelerated English class. I was not prepared at the time for this book, but reading and discussing this set me up for a lifetime of book groups. This isn’t the book that really started my reading addiction, but it is a book that helped me realize you can learn a lot from literature, and discussing these ideas with others. The smarter…

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