Saturday, September 09, 2017

book reviews from Saleena 9/9/17

Between my love of reading about Native Americans and my having lived near a town named after him (it's in upstate PA); I had a familiarity with who Jim Thorpe was; but Sheinkin really delved into his life as well as into the lives of those around him.  He took the time to explain who Pop Warner was and why he cared about football, along with other historical figures and happenings.  Sheinkin also carefully pointed out the racism of the times and how they affected everyone, but especially the impact they had on the life of Jim Thorpe.  This book was really well done, not too long, not too difficult but VERY informative.   Loved it.




I really wanted to love this book....it has everything I love; fairy tales twisted up; some of my favorite authors....and they are short stories so, quick and easy read!   First of all, I DID enjoy the stories for the most part, and some of them really stuck in my head (especially the story about Ursula from Little Mermaid).  But the book, for me, felt ....not fun and just awkward with the long vignettes after each story, talking about where the story idea came from; why it was written, and on and on.  Some of them were written by the author, and were interesting; but some were written by someone else and seemed to have no bearing on the story....while others seemed like fictional companions to the story we had just read.  It was confusing....and honestly, it felt unnecessary.  Why not just have the stories, and if you wanted to give a bit of background, have an intro to each?   It just left a bad taste in my mouth for the whole thing, which is a shame because I did enjoy some of the stories, but the book was so hard to read and it was hard to figure out what to read and what I could skip or avoid.


Something light and easy was definitely called for; and in walks Chi.  I love these books, so adorable and fun...and if you've ever had a kitten, very true.
Can't wait to read the next one.











Flunked was suggested by a few teens and I thought, "why not"; since it was another story based on fairy tale characters.  Overall, it was a fine book, interesting use of fairy tales & characters if a bit formulaic....but if I were in 7th grade....I would have devoured this entire series.  So, if you aren't old and jaded and like simple fun with traditional tales; give it a try.







Now Alex Flinn KNOWS how to twist a fairy tale.  I absolutely adored this book.  It's sort of the character of the wicked stepmom; and sort of not....it also encompasses Rumpelstitlzkin and East of the Sun, West of the Moon and a few others.  I found the idea of the long lived witch who is encountering these people while trying to find the love of her life and interesting way to stitch together so many disparate stories.  Really nicely done!






I am really not sure about this book.  I liked the frank presentation of the characters and the two points of vew; but there were so many moments of "really?" when each of them were dealing with each other....so many nerdy stereotypes "popular vs nerdy"  "nerds must be awkward" ....it really took away from the story.  And the twist ending, really kind of ruined it for me (also, it wasn't so much of a twist as a creepy wink and a "know what I mean, nudge nudge")  So overall, not horrible; but not something I would recommend either.


Given that I am not familiar with the TV show or characters that this book is very much a part of, it was difficult to figure out what was happening; however, I quickly realized that I didn't actually care either.....it was a very typical "teen novel" with all of the tropes and stereotypes that come with it.  A forgettable book that I am happy to forget.








Who Killed Christopher Goodman is really good.  The beginning that throws you in, and then the "let's go back and see how we got here" I was not a fan of; but the characters were well written, the time period (it's set in the 1970s) is accurate and the interactions of the kids in this very small town seemed real.  This is a mystery that isn't really a mystery but is also a book about grief and the guilt we all feel when someone we know dies....as if we could have or should have made different choices and that somehow, they wouldn't have died.  I highly recommend this book.






I really had never read a biography about Isaac Newton, so thought it was time.  Losure does a fabulous job of explaining the time period and the man as well as his interactions with the world.  A fascinating biography with lots of interesting photos and actual copies of some of his notes.









World Beneath is a difficult read.  It's set in apartheid era South Africa and really is the story of one boy who is caught up in things and what it does to his life.  This is an important book, as it really highlights the horrors of what apartheid and Jim Crow (in the US) laws did to people......but it is not an easy or a comfortable book.  Highly recommended.

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