Tag Archives: young adult

Book Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I haven’t read many middle grade books as an adult. Most of the ones I read are actually rereads of my favorites (such as the Baby-Sitter’s Club books, Roald Dahl’s novels, and Judy Blume’s books). I have walked past Wonder so many times at Target and just never felt like I needed to read it.

Recently I saw that Wonder has become a move that will be released this November. The trailer looks amazing (although I am a huge sucker for anything Julia Roberts!) and of course the book lover in me had to read the book first. I’m trying really hard this year to be a better patron of the library, so I checked it out.

I sat down with the book and blew through it in a day. I had to put it down a few times because it was just so good that Palacio’s writing made me emotional. What I loved best about the book is that I felt like it was written for its audience. I’ve read middle-grade books and have rolled my eyes because it never felt like those books were written for 10-, 11-, and 12-year-olds. This book feels just right for that audience.

Colored chalk on a blackboard background

Wonder also tackles some tricky subjects like self-esteem and bullying in a realistic way. Things aren’t magically solved. Auggie is a tough, brave kid but he also struggles. His sister has struggles. Friendships are tested. We get to hear these struggles from a lot of different points of view. This makes the book seem so real. I can see kids reading this and related to the things Auggie is thinking and feeling as well as the thoughts of the other characters. It’s the kind of book that will lead to really rich and deep conversations.

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@readathon prep: the stack!

Oh my goodness, I feel like this has been the most productive week in my book blogging life! I published three reviews today – all three books I’ve read this year! That seems like a lot but I wrote one review of a book I read at the beginning of the year, the second review I modified from a review on my primary blog (kristaonpurpose), and the third I reviewed as soon as I finished the last page.

#proudascanbe

(Ok, total rabbit trail but it makes me both smile and cringe that hashtagging in blog posts is a real thing.)

A couple of days ago I did a “how am I prepping?” post for the 24 Hour Readathon that’s taking this place. I’m just popping in with an updated!

Location
I will for sure be at my parents’ house! With internet access besides my phone! Granted, I have my ten-year-old sister and two of her little buddies who are spending the night, plus three nutso dogs, to content with, but where there is a will there is a way.

Media
I think this is pretty much the same. Yes to twitter, blogging, and instagram. Very limited to facebook and texting.

And now… drum roll… the reason why we do the readathon…

BOOKS! (books are below after lots of boring, mathy analysis)
I’ve been so excited to pick out what books I want to set aside for this, my very first, complete readathon, but I’m dog sitting and trying to be careful with how much I spend on gas so I forced myself to wait until tonight, when I had a class near my house, to pick out my books. Here’s what I’m aiming for. I am not a fast reader, just a consistent one. That said, I don’t anticipate finishing all six of the books below. Two, maybe three if all goes well.

What are my books, you ask? Here you go!
IMG_1951The end. Haha, just kidding! A little about the books before I go. I don’t want to hurt their feelings!IMG_1958This picture is terrible but my phone and computer weren’t playing nicely. I have never read The Phantom Tollbooth but have always wanted to so here I go! I thought this would be a fun, more simple read since it’s geared toward a younger audience. (Not that I think that means it’s easy – just a good change of pace!)

From GoodReads:

Milo mopes in black ink sketches, until he assembles a tollbooth and drives through. He jumps to the island of Conclusions. But brothers King Azaz of Dictionopolis and the Mathemagician of Digitopolis war over words and numbers. Joined by ticking watchdog Tock and adult-size Humbug, Milo rescues the Princesses of Rhyme and Reason, and learns to enjoy life.

IMG_1946Saw Girls in White Dresses while doing my daily browse in the Paperback Store part of Barnes & Noble’s website. Into my cart it went, and into my reading pile it is.

From GoodReads:

Isabella, Mary, and Lauren feel like everyone they know is getting married. On Sunday after Sunday, at bridal shower after bridal shower, they coo over toasters, collect ribbons and wrapping paper, eat minuscule sandwiches and doll-sized cakes. They wear pastel dresses and drink champagne by the case, but amid the celebration these women have their own lives to contend with: Isabella is working at a mailing-list company, dizzy with the mixed signals of a boss who claims she’s on a diet but has Isabella file all morning if she forgets to bring her a chocolate muffin. Mary thinks she might cry with happiness when she finally meets a nice guy who loves his mother, only to realize he’ll never love Mary quite as much. And Lauren, a waitress at a Midtown bar, swears up and down she won’t fall for the sleazy bartender—a promise that his dirty blond curls and perfect vodka sodas make hard to keep.

IMG_1947It’s like they picked the most heart-breaking cover possible for Unsaid and placed it strategically at Target where they knew I’d see it. And since I can’t ever unsee it, I’ll read it.

From GoodReads:

As a veterinarian, Helena had mercifully escorted thousands of animals to the other side. Now, having died herself, she finds that it is not so easy to move on. She is terrified that her 37 years of life were meaningless, error-ridden, and forgettable. So Helena haunts– and is haunted by– the life she left behind. Meanwhile, David, her shattered attorney husband, struggles with grief and the demands of caring for her houseful of damaged and beloved animals. But it is her absence from her last project, Cindy– a chimpanzee who may unlock the mystery of communication and consciousness– that will have the greatest impact on all of them.

When Cindy is scheduled for a research experiment that will undoubtedly take her life, David must call upon everything he has learned from Helena to save her. In the explosive courtroom drama that follows, all the threads of Helena’s life entwine and tear as Helena and David confront their mistakes, grief, and loss, and discover the only way to save Cindy is to understand what it really means to be human.

IMG_1948I am a giant fan of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and I bought Joy in the Morning not long after I finished it. For the last week I’ve been calling this ATGIB‘s sequel, but it’s not – it’s a book independent of the other’s plot. I’m really excited to make good headway into it this weekend!

From GoodReads:

In Brooklyn, New York, in 1927, Carl Brown and Annie McGairy meet and fall in love. Though only eighteen, Annie travels alone to the Midwestern university where Carl is studying law to marry him. Little did they know how difficult their first year of marriage would be, in a faraway place with little money and few friends. But Carl and Annie come to realize that the struggles and uncertainty of poverty and hardship can be overcome by the strength of a loving, loyal relationship.

IMG_1949I am a huge Flannery O’Connor fan and this collection, A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories, has two of my favorites: the title story and “The River.” All so sad, which is kind of why I love her writing.

From GoodReads:

This now-classic book revealed Flannery O’Connor to be one of the most original and provocative writers to emerge from the South. Her apocalyptic vision of life is expressed through grotesque, often comic, situations in which the principal character faces a problem of salvation: the grandmother, in the title story, confronting the murderous Misfit; a neglected four-year-old boy looking for the Kingdom of Christ in the fast-flowing waters of the river; General Sash, about to meet the final enemy.
IMG_1950I’ll probably try to make Firefly Lane my first read because it’s the longest and Picoult’s writing is beautiful but tends to change POVs often so I’ll need fresh eyes and a rested brain to keep track of what I’m reading! There’s a sequel to this that I accidentally bought, not knowing it had a book before it, and I have purposefully waited to read it until reading this first. So here I go!
From GoodReads:
In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all—beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.So begins Kristin Hannah’s magnificent new novel. Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the bulkhead of their lives.

From the beginning, Tully is desperate to prove her worth to the world. Abandoned by her mother at an early age, she longs to be loved unconditionally. In the glittering, big-hair era of the eighties, she looks to men to fill the void in her soul. But in the buttoned-down nineties, it is television news that captivates her. She will follow her own blind ambition to New York and around the globe, finding fame and success . . . and loneliness.

Kate knows early on that her life will be nothing special. Throughout college, she pretends to be driven by a need for success, but all she really wants is to fall in love and have children and live an ordinary life. In her own quiet way, Kate is as driven as Tully. What she doesn’t know is how being a wife and mother will change her . . . how she’ll lose sight of who she once was, and what she once wanted. And how much she’ll envy her famous best friend. . . .

For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship—jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they’ve survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart . . . and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test.

There you go! That’s my pile. Comment so I can check out yours!

IMG_1945

I’ll be going shopping for snacks soon (probably Wednesday), so expect that awesome update!

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