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danae

danae

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The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 1: Family Letters, 1905-1931
Walter Hooper, C.S. Lewis

"The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake" by Aimee Bender

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake - Aimee Bender

This is one of three books I've read recently that does not use quotation marks. WHY?? It's so confusing! Especially when the author also breaks the rule of starting a new paragraph when a new person talks and has two people talking, without quotation marks, in the same paragraph! Argh! Stop doing this!!

Anyway, this is an interesting story about a normal American family whose members just so happen to have supernatural abilities. I love how differently each person handled it. I loved how differently the normal people reacted to it. I think it's a pretty realistic, down-to-earth portrayal of what life would be like with relatively mild superpowers.

On the other hand, I can't figure out how I feel about Joseph's ability... Like, I get the symbolism. But it's just so weird! I was also really confused by the last chapter. I think it's a flash-back. But it wasn't clear to me while reading it at what point in the timeline it took place. That's why I can't confidently choose a rating for this book.

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This isn't super important to the plot, but every time the family goes to a restaurant to eat, her dad immediately cuts his portions in half and puts half in a to-go box to give to the first homeless person he sees when they leave, which I thought was a really cool idea.

"Mr. Popper's Penguins" by Richard and Florence Atwater

Mr. Popper's Penguins - Florence Atwater, Richard Atwater, Robert Lawson

I didn't like this one as much as I did when I was a child. That was disappointing. It's still a fun story, though. Just a bit slower than I remember it being. But it still makes me wish I could have a basement full of penguins. :)

"The White Queen" by Philippa Gregory

The White Queen - Philippa Gregory

WARNING: There are very few names in this book. There are about five each of Elizabeths, Richards, Georges, Henrys, and Margarets. That's probably a slight exaggeration with some of those. But I promise there are at least six Richards. Two of the Richards are brothers, even. That's right. Elizabeth (the protagonist, not to be confused with her daughter Elizabeth or any of the other Elizabeths) names TWO of her sons Richard. That's not the author's fault, of course. She actually does a pretty good job of keeping the characters straight. But it's still confusing at times.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this book. I loved how Elizabeth (protagonist) fought for herself and her family in a world that didn't allow women much power. It was also fascinating to me to learn more about the Princes in the Tower and to read Gregory's theory on the subject.

I also thought it was realistically complex when Elizabeth first proclaims that she just wants her sons to be happy and healthy, regardless of whether or not they are princes, but then she puts them in danger because she's determined that they have their birthrights. Her daughter (also Elizabeth) sees through it and accuses her of being ambitious to a fault, but she doesn't see it in herself. Evidence of this is her statement that "The worst has already happened" when her son Edward was being held captive by his uncle. There was so much uncertainty at that point. Edward could be killed, her other sons -- who were also out of her protection -- could be killed, she and her daughters could be forced out of sanctuary and hurt or killed... But sure. The worst has already happened because your son's crown has been taken from him.

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"Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children: Hollow City" by Ransom Riggs

Hollow City - Ransom Riggs

Generally, I think I liked this one just slightly less than the first. The only things I have to mention are a couple of complaints.

First, they were told Miss Peregrine had 2 days before she was stuck as a bird, so why did Jacob keep saying she had 3?

Second, They were so dumb sometimes in this one. It was so obvious that the loop they were looking for was in the crypt. I figured that out right away, but they "couldn't make heads or tails of it!" Then they thought Miss Peregrine's evil brother (who had already deceived them in a huge way once) was worth trusting, apparently, and believed him when he quickly surrendered to them. Come on, guys. That was too easy.

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"Red Queen: Glass Sword" by Victoria Aveyard

Glass Sword (Red Queen) - Victoria Aveyard

I found this one really boring compared to Red Queen. I think the plot just moved along too slowly.

I also got confused a time or two when I misread a sentence because it wasn't immediately clear that Aveyard was referring to a character's ability. For example a sentence like "She saw two eyes" not referring to the body part, but to people who have the ability to see into the future. I think Aveyard should have capitalized those words (Eyes, Silks, Strongarms, etc.) to make it more clear and reading more smooth.

Also, in my review for The Hunger Games , I mentioned the belief Aveyard and Collins share that one cannot scream without a tongue. Sara (who was supposedly "unable to scream in fear") still has perfectly good vocal chords. She can still make noise through her mouth. She can't shape that noise into understandable words because of her lack of tongue, but she most certainly would be able to scream. The tongue has nothing to do with screaming.

SPOILER ALERT!

"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games - Suzanne  Collins

I love every part of this book. There's never a dull moment.

I love the characters (yes, I cry when Rue dies, the strategy aspect of the book (the outfits Cinna and Portia design, the way Haymitch and Katniss communicate during the Games, how Katniss performs for the cameras in order to encourage sponsors, etc.), and the resulting confusion and distrust that Katniss feels as to what is real and what is just part of the Games.

I also love how you can compare the society in the novel to ours today. It's definitely something to think about and discuss. 

A little thing that bugged me was when Katniss meets an Avox whose capture she witnessed and in remembering that moment, she thinks "The girl's scream. Had it been her last?" (I also read a similar quote recently in Glass Sword .) Why do people think you can't scream without a tongue? There's nothing wrong with her vocal chords. Actually, screaming is probably the only vocal sound that would not be affected at all by lack of a tongue and yet that's what authors like to tell us their tongue-less characters are unable to do...

Anyway, some more praise:

I remember the first time I read it, I thought Collins did a good job of answering my questions about that world just as I had them, without it seeming like an information dump.

Also, when I saw the movie for the first time, I was already expecting to cry during the previously mentioned moment, but I cried unexpectedly when Katniss volunteered for her sister. I think when I was first experiencing the story, knowing that Katniss is the protagonist, so obviously she has a fighting chance, It didn't really hit me that from her perspective, she was going to die for Prim. In that moment, she had no expectation that she might actually win the Games. I probably would have had that realization in my second reading of the book as well, but it just hit me for the first time when I saw the movie. And now, I fight tears reading both of those moments.

It's a powerful book. Definitely worth reading more than once.

2012 Audiobook Review: i liked the normal voice of the lady who read it, but her character voices annoyed me most of the time. her haymitch voice was the best.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs

I had heard from at least three people that the synopsis did not accurately represent this book, so when I decided to read it because it was recommended to me by a student, I purposely did not re-read the synopsis as a reminder to what it was about. As it happens, I did enjoy Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. I agree about the synopsis as well. When it says

...Miss Peregrine's children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason.

it sets the book up for being very different than it actually is.

I think the story is really creative, and I enjoyed the mystery and the time travelling. I also just love the story behind the book. I love how this story was written with genuine antique photographs as a basis. That's awesome.

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"Treasury of Greek Mythology" by Donna Jo Napoli

Treasury of Greek Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes & Monsters - Donna Jo Napoli, Christina Balit

This is a nice collection of Greek myths and the illustrations are beautiful. I'd love to have a copy of this in my classroom someday.

 

Plus, it has my name in it. ;)

"Bridge Called Hope" by Kim Meeder

Bridge Called Hope: Stories of Triumph from the Ranch of Rescued Dreams - Kim Meeder

Just as in Hope Rising: Stories from the Ranch of Rescued Dreams, many of these stories made me cry.

I was disappointed by a few errors that should have been caught by an editor, and there were a couple of sentences that I found confusing. I don't remember having those issues with the previous book.

But, same as the first, it's filled with wonderful stories and I enjoyed it.

"Red Queen" by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard

I wasn't sure about this one at first, but after a few chapters, I was invested.

Parts of Red Queen reminded me of other recent dystopian YA books. There's an area that's contains dangerous levels of radiation, so no one goes near it. [POPULAR SERIES SPOILER AHEAD] It was no surprise to me that that was a trick and that people were really living there because I've read The Hunger Games. There's also a balcony scene straight out of The Selection .

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It also has the same common problem of using "highness" and "majesty" interchangeably.

But I enjoyed the intrigue, the palace, the relationships, the betrayals, the villains... It's an engaging story.

"Educating Esmé" by Esmé Raji Codell

Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher's First Year - Esmé Raji Codell

This book was definitely entertaining, but I wonder about how much of it was factual. It claims to be the diary of a first-year teacher, but it seemed very idealistic and unrealistic.

And it didn't sit right with me that there was a time when her students stabbed a substitute teacher in the back with a pencil and she wasn't really bothered about it. That's kind of a big deal...

I did love the idea of building a "time machine" filled with books. I might have to use that someday.

"A Streetcar Named Desire" by Tennessee Williams

A Streetcar Named Desire - Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams

I picked this one up because it's on the Rory Gilmore Book List. It's one of the many books Rory reads in Gilmore Girls. I didn't know whether or not I would like it. I kind of did... but I can't really say why. It was frustrating because of the abusive relationships, but... it was interesting.

"The Chemist" by Stephenie Meyer

The Chemist - Stephenie Meyer

So, the synopsis didn't really draw me in with this one, but I figured that since I've enjoyed everything else I've read by Stephenie Meyer, there was a good chance I'd enjoy this one too. I was right.

I've noticed that, while I usually don't put forth much of an effort toward imagining the settings in a book, I often have very clear images of settings from Meyer's books. I'm not sure why that is.

I particularly liked the attention to detail regarding the precautions Juliana takes to stay alive, though I can understand how some people would grow bored of that. And I loved Daniel, though I did think the romance was slightly unrealistic, particularly in the beginning when I'm sure Daniel would have had to overcome some psychological obstacles before he could think of Juliana in a romantic sense.

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I also thought that the dogs were sometimes unrealistic in their behavior and I noticed a couple of grammatical mistakes, but neither was too bad.

 

My last complaint is that there were elements of this story that reminded me a lot of her other books. Mostly, it was the female protagonist with two male "sidekicks". And the dynamic between the three reminded me a lot of The Host. Again, not a huge problem. Just a weakness I've noticed in her writing.

Even though most of what I've said in this review is negative, I did really enjoy this book, I promise. Haha.

"Bud, Not Buddy" by Christopher Paul Curtis

Bud, Not Buddy - Christopher Paul Curtis

This is a book that was recommended to me by students. It's often assigned reading in school, but it was never assigned for me. I didn't really have an expectation that I would either like or dislike Bud, Not Buddy but I definitely enjoyed it. I was sad for Bud and how he was treated in the foster care system. Even worse, it's not much better in the present day. I was interested to find out the significance of Herman E. Calloway and the Dusky Devastators of the Depression!!!!!! and I think that that was all wrapped up nicely. And I love that the author honored his grandfathers by basing two important characters on them.

"Barb and Dingbat's Crybaby Hotline" by Patrick Jennings

Barb and Dingbat's Crybaby Hotline - Patrick Jennings

So, it's interesting that this book is written entirely in phone conversations. Barb was annoying at first, but quickly, I felt her deceit was justified. Jeff was face-palmingly frustrating. That kid is more shallow than a kiddie pool. It bothered me that Barb called him a friend at one point, even though she specified that they're only friends on the phone.

 

I like to imagine that Barb finally gives up on Jeff completely after the events in the book. He never learns his lesson. He seems to get a clue once or twice, but quickly reverts back to the same Jeff he always was.

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"Happily Ever After" by Kiera Cass

Happily Ever After: Companion to the Selection Series - Kiera Cass

I liked this collection of short stories, but I was kind of underwhelmed. There's a lot of repetition (i.e. a scene that we've already read in the series, but from a different character's perspective, so the dialogue is the same, though the thoughts are different.) It was interesting and gave some more insight into the characters, and I did really enjoy the illustrations, but I'm not as eager to own this one as I am the rest of the series.

Unfortunately, I can't rate each individual story because it's been too long since I read it, but I remember that I preferred the stories about the more minor characters to the stories about Maxon and Aspen (because of the aforementioned repetition). I liked learning more about Amberly, Celeste, and America's maids.

 

On the other hand, I want to know more about Clarkson after reading Amberly's story. He was decent and relatively charming in Happily Ever After. It's so hard to imagine him turning into the man in The Selection, who cheats on his wife and beats his son.

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