The Bad Beginning
Book Review / January 23, 2017

Title: The Bad Beginning Series: The Series of Unfortunate Events, #1 Author: Lemony Snicket (aka David Handler) Genre: Fiction Publisher: Listening Library Release Date: September 9th, 2003 Format: Audiobook Source: Library Illustrator: Brett Helquist First Published: September 30th, 1999 Dear Reader, I’m sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune. In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast. It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing. With all due respect, Lemony Snicket  (via Back Cover) Amazon   A Series…

American Born Chinese
Book Review / December 26, 2016

Title: American Born Chinese Genre: Graphic Novel Publisher: First Second Release Date: September 6th, 2006 Format: Hardback Pages: 240 Source: Library All Jin Wang wants is to fit in. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he’s the only Chinese American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he has hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he falls in love with an all-American girl… Born to rule over all the monkeys in the world, the story of the Monkey King is one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables. Adored by his subjects, master of the arts of kung-fu, he is the most powerful monkey on earth. But the Monkey King doesn’t want to be a monkey. He wants to be hailed as a god… Chin-Kee is the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, and he’s ruining his cousin Danny’s life. Danny’s a popular kid at school, but every year Chin-Kee comes to visit, and every year Danny has to transfer to a new school to escape the shame. This year, though, things quickly go from bad to worse… These three apparently unrelated tales come together with an unexpected twist,…

This One Summer
Book Review / October 25, 2016

Title: This One Summer Author: Mariko Tamaki Genre: Young Adult Publisher: First Second Release Date: May 6th, 2014 Format: Hardback Pages: 320 Source: Library Illustrator: Jillian Tamaki Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It’s a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other. In This One Summer two stellar creators redefine the teen graphic novel. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of her teen age — a story of renewal and revelation. (via Goodreads) Amazon A 2015 Caldecott Honor winner, This One Summer follows the perspective of Rose during a summer vacation at Awago Beach in Canada. Paired with her goofy friend Windy, the two of them experience life in…

Charlotte’s Web
Book Review / October 19, 2016

Title: Charlotte's Web Author: E. B. White Genre: Fiction Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers Release Date: March 15th, 2015 Format: Audiobook Pages: 184 Source: Library Illustrator: Garth Williams First Published: 1952 This beloved book by E. B. White, author of Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan, is a classic of children’s literature that is “just about perfect.” Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte’s Web, high up in Zuckerman’s barn. Charlotte’s spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter. E. B. White’s Newbery Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come. This edition contains color illustrations by Garth Williams, the acclaimed illustrator of E.B. White’s Stuart Little and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, among many other books. (via Goodreads) Amazon   As part of my quest to read every Newbery Award winner, I couldn’t wait to revisit a childhood favorite: Charlotte’s Web. A heartwarming story about life, love, and death…

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…

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…

Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Book Review / July 25, 2016

Title: Mr. Popper's Penguins Author: Richard and Florence Atwater Genre: Children's Publisher: Little, Brown and Company Release Date: November 2nd, 1992 Format: Audiobook Pages: 139 Source: Library Illustrator: Robert Lawson First Published: 1938 The Poppers unexpectedly come into possession of a penguin, then get a penguin from the zoo who mates with the first penguin to have 10 baby penguins. Before long, something must be done before they eat the Poppers out of house and home! A classic of American humor, this story of a gentle housepainter and his high stepping penguins has delighted children for generations. (via Goodreads) Amazon   I grew up in a home where we read a lot. Going to the library each weekend was my favorite activity. And, in Middle School, when I had downtime between school ending and my after school activities, I could often be found loitering in the stacks of our local public library. Yet with all the reading we did, I missed quite a few Newberry Honor books. After all, there are only so many hours in the day. Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a book I didn’t hear about until I was an adult, strangely. And the premise never grabbed me….

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