Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Museum of Heartbreak

Bibliography
Leder. Meg. The Museum of Heartbreak. Simon Pulse, 2016.
image from: personal photo


Summary (from amazon.com) 
When it comes to finding her true love, Penelope Marx knows it will happen just like in a book. And when Pen meets Keats, a suave, literary cool guy, her book-loving heart is sure she's found the real thing. This is huge, since she has only two friends, Audrey and Eph. While they are her whole world, they exist beyond her. Audrey's other best friend is rude to Pen, and Eph is always dating a different beautiful girl. Pen and Audrey have an argument, and Pen throws herself into a relationship with Keats. But her conscience knows that he is not perfect, or even perfect for her. Making new friends at the literary magazine helps the protagonist expand her narrow circle. This is a sweet look at first love and the lessons we learn from it. New York City provides the perfect backdrop for the narrative: making out in the stacks at the Strand, having a fight on the subway platform. While heavy foreshadowing (heartbreak is in the title) will all but tell what will eventually happen, the journey is the point. The large cast of characters are varied, and each figure is easily discernible from the others. VERDICT Not required reading, but absolutely an enjoyable ride for fans of NYC and first love.—Kelly Jo Lasher, Middle Township High School, Cape May Court House, NJ 

My Thoughts
This was a cute story with a museum twist on the "artifacts" of the narrator's heartbreak. There are lots of literary references and some funny allusions to "Twin Peaks"--a show that is having a revival this year!

Penelope thinks she wants Keats. Little does she realize that her best, good friend Eph is really the one she should love. The story takes some twists and turns, and I'm glad that Pen realizes the fantasy of Keats isn't the reality of Keats.

Cherisse is awful (fake) but people think she's so great. Like the narrator, I really didn't like her.

I loved the idea of the Nevermore journal and think the Dead Poets Phone idea was hilarious! There were several times while reading I thought the author and/or the narrator was me. We have similar experiences and reading habits and nervousness in social situations.

There was also a part in the book that talked about people leaving notes in books. This reminded me of Words in Deep Blue.

This book was a funny read and one I'll add to the SHS collection.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Book of Unknown Americans

Bibliography
Henriquez, Cristina. The Book of Unknown Americans: A Novel.  Read by Christine Avila, Ozzie Rodriguez, Yareli Arizmendi, Gustavo Res, Gabriel Romero, Jesse Corti . 2014.

image from (Audiofilemagazine.com)
Summary (from Audiofilemagazine.com)
This captivating story of America's "simultaneously conspicuous and invisible" population is powerfully rendered by an ensemble of narrators representing voices from all over Latin America. Like families before them, the Riveras immigrate to the U.S. in search of a better life for their daughter, Maribel. Though Maribel is the catalyst, it is Alma, her mother, and Mayor, her friend, who lure listeners in during alternating chapters. Their voices shift with emotion as the narrators deftly use pitch and pacing to maintain an intimate atmosphere amid the shifting perspectives. Periodically, new voices and new accents claim a chapter to share their own immigrant experiences. Each is captured with sensitivity, lending an immediacy to the story and providing a larger context to the Riveras's experience. A.S. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine [Published: JUNE 2014]

My Thoughts
This is a collection of stories, but they are connected. Alma and Mayor tell most of the narrative. I could related to Alma's worries for her daughter and hoping that coming to America would help her daughter.

Maribel's story (really, her mother's truth) is heartbreaking.
I liked Mayor and that he liked Maribel and demonstrates his love for her.

As I listened to this book, I wished I could see some of the Spanish words. It took me a little while to understand the accent on some of the narrators.

We hear stories from other tenants in the building like Quisqueya Solis and Gustavo Milhojas and Benny Quinto. It just reminded me of how everyone has a story.

As I neared the end of the book, I was in tears. I can't believe that the story spans only 7 months (but really it is several lifetimes). The last chapter, Arturo Rivera's, was a surprise. Even though we see him through the other characters, it's the only chapter he has in the book.

The title reference is in Micho Alvarez' chapter, over 80% into the book.

I think these characters will stay in my conscience, especially when I look at my students and wonder, "What's their story?"


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Stars Above

Bibliography
Meyer, Marissa. Stars Above: A Lunar Chronicles Collection. Feiwel and Friends, 2016.
image from marissameyer.com

My Thoughts
I've finally completed everything  in The Lunar Chronicles. I've read the four major books, the novella, and now this collection of short stories. Again, Meyer layers more and more about the world of Earth and Luna, the many characters and those "back stories" of how things came to be.

CONTENTS (from Marissa Meyer's website) 
The Keeper: A prequel to the Lunar Chronicles, showing a young Scarlet and how Princess Selene came into the care of Michelle Benoit.

Glitches: In this prequel to Cinder, we see the results of the plague play out, and the emotional toll it takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch….

The Queen’s Army: In this prequel to Scarlet, we’re introduced to the army Queen Levana is building, and one soldier in particular who will do anything to keep from becoming the monster they want him to be.

Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky: Thirteen-year-old Carswell Thorne has big plans involving a Rampion spaceship and a no-return trip out of Los Angeles.

After Sunshine Passes By: In this prequel to Cress, we see how a nine-year-old Cress ended up alone on a satellite, spying on Earth for Luna.

The Princess and the Guard: In this prequel to Winter, we see a young Winter and Jacin playing a game called the Princess and the Guard…

The Little Android: A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles.

The Mechanic: In this prequel to Cinder, we see Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s perspective.

Something Old, Something New: In this epilogue to Winter, friends gather for the wedding of the century…

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Crown

Bibliography
Cass, Kiera. The Crown. Harper Teen, 2016.
image from: kieracass.com

Summary (from kieracass.com)
Prepare to be swept off your feet by The Crown—the eagerly awaited, wonderfully romantic fifth and final book in the Selection series. Eadlyn didn’t think she would find a real partner among the Selection’s thirty-five suitors, let alone true love. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and now Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more difficult—and more important—than she ever expected.

My Thoughts
So satisfying! This entire series is great! I enjoyed that the story held my attention, and I was transplanted into this world with America, Maxon and then Eadlyn and her Selection. I won't give away which of the men get to become Eady's husband. Cass keeps you guessing until the second to last chapter!

Since it's been awhile between my reading The Heir and this title, I had a little bit of a hard time remembering which guy was which. Cass puts some details to help refresh the reader's memory, but even when I didn't quite remember, I kept reading.

I liked seeing Eadlyn's growth in this book. She's young, but she begins to make decisions that aren't selfish. She begins to see situations from a world view. She becomes less rash and more pensive. She is smart always (even when she messes up). Cass created flawed characters who aren't perfect because even in this fairy tale, readers can see themselves.

I'm glad I bought these books with the pretty covers and then took a chance on reading them!

Fairest

Bibliography
Meyer, Marissa. Fairest. Feiwel and Friends, 2015.

image from: marissameyer.com

Summary (from marissameyer.com)

Summary

Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?
Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story—a story that has never been told … until now.
Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from WINTER, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.
My Thoughts
If you haven't read the Lunar Chronicles yet, do NOT read this post! I protect some things, but there are some spoilers to the Chronicles as a whole. 

This novella is Queen Levana's back story. Some sources say read this before Winter. However, I think since I read it right after finishing Winter, events were still fresh in my mind.

I liked seeing that Levana wasn't as evil as her sister (who I think is portrayed as beautiful in the previous books, but not much else--at least not to my memory). It's Levana's story, but it's also her sister's and her husband's and even her parents' tale. It sets some things up for all four other books. Princess Selene (Cinder) has her back story (a bit) in here, too. Make no mistake, though. Levana is evil. She's made decisions and justified them in her own mind. This book offers some understanding as to how and why and what helped shape her personality.

"Come here, baby sister. I want to show you something" is repeated in the book. It's Channary luring (and controlling) her sister. I'm glad Levana's glamour is explained and her love to her husband Evret. All very interesting. I was surprised (although  maybe I shouldn't have been) to find out about Winter's parents. I also learned about the strained relationship between Earth and Luna.

So, could you read the 4 major books and not this one and still have a story? Sure. But...reading this one gives more spice to the fairy tales. I've now started reading Stars Above, a collection of stories from the Lunar Chronicles world. I've enjoyed my time on Luna and Earth with these characters and look forward to reading the story collection to complete the world of the Lunar Chronicles.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Words in Deep Blue

Bibliography
Crowley, Cath. Words in Deep Blue. Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.
image from: www.goodreads.com

Summary (from back cover)
"Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family's bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.
Now Rachel has returned to the city--and to the bookshop--to work alongside the boy she'd rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction, and the escape. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can't feel anything anymore. She can't see her future.
Henry's future isn't looking too promising, either. His girlfriend dumped him. The bookstore is slipping away. And his family is breaking apart.
As Henry and Rachel work side by side--surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages--they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it's possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough."

My Thoughts
The booktalk I heard about this book doesn't quite match up to what happens in the book, but I enjoyed it anyway.

The premise is Rachel & Henry work in a bookstore. Inside this bookstore is a Letter Library where people can (and are encouraged to) write in the books or leave notes in the book or mark passages in the book. Rachel's job is to catalog these notes. There are some touching notes!  Even the author of the book includes a note in this book for the reader, which I thought was clever.

I really like the concept of the Letter Library. I've had students leave notes to future readers in books before (thankfully, just notes--not passages marked in the book). As I read this book, it got me thinking about something I did in the classroom that I may start in the library next year.

I loved the many literary references in this book!  I also loved this description: "I'm fond of Derek Walcott. I could eat his poem 'Love After Love.' Just peel the words off the page and stuff them in my mouth" (Crowley 25). I feel this way about words sometime.  I had to look up "Derek Walcott" to see if he is real. He is.

There's a love story, a break up story and a growing up story all included. There's grief, healing and learning. There's a theme to not judge a book by its cover. (And the actual cover of this book is cute!).
We are the books we read and the things we love (Crowley 258). 
This quote sums up life.

I don't know if I'll remember the entire story line years from now, but I will think about "a book I read once" where people left notes in the books.




Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Winter

Bibliography
Meyer, Marissa. Winter. Feiwel and Friends, 2015.
image from: www.marissameyer.com



This is the fourth installment of the Lunar Chronicles. I realized it's been over a year since I finished Cress (I'm seeing that I'm horrible about finishing series, as this isn't the only one I've stalled out reading).

It took me several weeks to steal moments away to finish this installment, as it is over 800 pages in length (so, it's like reading more than one book. Well, Meyer actually divides it into 5 books)!

There is so much happening in this book. I'm glad that Meyer puts in reminders of how things came to pass or why something is a way because it's been awhile since reading the first three books. I felt my heart rate increase as I read. I didn't want to stop, but I also didn't want to continue. I've enjoyed my time with these characters.

One thing I really liked about these stories is that everything isn't forced into a "happily ever after" ending.

What you will get from this book (as well as the entire series):

  • humor
  • romance
  • action
  • space travel
  • violence
  • social issues 
  • friendships
  • questions of right vs. wrong
After I finished this book, I immediately started reading Fairest, the novella of Queen Levana. It's a great backstory!