Tag Archives: illness

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, Review

30 Nov

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

Plot: 13-year-old Steven’s life is interrupted suddenly when his 5-year-old brother Jeffrey is diagnosed with cancer. Steven’s life changes at home and at school as he deals with his brother’s illness, his parents’ reaction to it, and the emotional and financial repercussions the family must face because of Jeffrey’s diagnosis. Sonnenblick’s writing is simple, but he understands young teens and perfectly captures Steven’s struggle with his own coming of age story while dealing with a family tragedy. This book is an excellent example of how illness affects everyone in a family, and would serve as an excellent resource for teens who are going through a difficult time (or any sort) with their family. I am interested in reading more of Sonnenblick’s writings, particularly the follow-up book to Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie, which follows Jeffery’s story several years after his initial diagnosis.

Would you recommend this book? Yes.

4 stars

–Lisa

Extraordinary Means, Review

16 Nov

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

Plot: This book is set in modern-day times, however the world is afflicted with a form of drug-resistant tuberculosis. Lane suddenly finds himself in Latham House, a boarding school for teenagers with the disease, so that they don’t end up infecting anybody else. He finds it very difficult at first to be away from his friends, family, and especially his girlfriend, as life carries on outside the grounds without him. He decides to try to keep up with his schoolwork from his old school in order to keep on track for college, but soon finds himself too worn out to keep at that pace.

Lane soon enough finds himself swept up with a crowd of friends including Sadie, a girl he hadn’t seen since summer camp many years before, who was still angry with him over a misunderstanding. The group does everything they can to live life to the fullest. Will they be able to hang on long enough to be released, or is Latham the end of their journey?

Would you recommend this book? Yes. I liked the main characters,who told the story in alternating chapters. I also liked how this book introduced a strand of illness that does not exist in the real world, without making it yet another dystopian novel. This could have been any other book if not for that particular illness.

4 stars

–Jen

Magonia, Book Trailer

13 Nov

A Monster Calls, Book Trailer

30 Oct

Under the Mesquite, Review

19 Oct

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Plot: This is the story of Lupita, the oldest child of 8 in a family living on the border between Mexico and Texas. Lupita’s mother is diagnosed with cancer, and the family focuses all efforts on their mother’s health, leaving Lupita to care for younger siblings and take care of the household. After a brief remission, Lupita’s mother becomes sick a second time, throwing the family into financial turmoil, which Lupita is left to manage while her father cares for her mother. When Lupita’s mother dies, she almost loses hope. However, with support from her drama teacher and father, Lupita is able to refocus and move forward with her life. The book is written in free verse, and intersperses Spanish words and phrases throughout the book. The text is simple to read, yet thought-provoking and emotional. Lupita is a strong girl, and the reader will admire what she does for her family, but also understand her frustrations, anger, and sadness as well. It is a beautiful read, and will particularly appeal to Hispanic/Latino teen readers who will identify with both the language and family dynamics in the story.

Would you recommend this book? Yes

4 stars

–Lisa

Extraordinary Means, Book Trailer

9 Oct

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Review

3 Aug

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Plot: Based on the title, it would be very easy to think this is another sob story along the lines of The Fault in Our Stars. However, the author works very hard to keep it more lighthearted, open and honest. Greg is asked by his mom to befriend Rachel, a girl from school that he vaguely knows from when he was younger, who has just been diagnosed with Leukemia. Greg has to take the time to Google what this disease even is, and proceeds to treat the whole situation as best he can,  though he openly references how awkward it is to suddenly talk to somebody in high school that you don’t normally talk to, without making the reason seem too obvious.

Greg and his friend Earl, both amateur filmmakers, begin to hang out with Rachel often, and try to navigate the social pressures that this adds to their plates in school. Much of this novel is told in dialogue, almost like a play, which helps to keep the story flowing.

Would you recommend this book? I would recommend this book to an older teen, since there was a lot of cursing and graphic descriptions that I would not advise a younger teen reading about. I wish there was a little more resolution at the end, as important scenes seem to be glossed over a bit too casually for my taste.

3 stars

–Jen

The Kingdom of Little Wounds, Review

6 Jul

The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal

Plot: The author of this book describes it as “a fairy tale about syphilis” so let’s get it out in the open that this book has some very mature themes. Despite the fact that this book was a Printz Honor Book in 2014, many readers have protested that this book is too dark, violent, and sexual to be considered a Young Adult book. Of course, I had to read it for myself! The story takes place in a 16th-Century fictional Scandinavian town, and chronicles the life of the royal family through the eyes of two of their servants. Ava Bingen shows promise as a royal seamstress, but when she accidentally pricks the queen with a needle, she is sent to Lord Nicolas for punishment. Lord Nicolas uses power and sexual force to convince Ava to become a nursery maid – and spy on the royal family for Nicolas. While acting as a maid, Ava meets Midi Sorte, a mute nursemaid, who is also consorting with Lord Nicolas behind closed doors. Through the narration of the two servant girls, life in the royal palace is observed. A mystery illness affects all of the royal children. The queen’s sanity and motives are questioned. The king’s affections lie with someone other than the queen. And those who are closest to the royal family may not have noble intentions. As more of the plot is revealed, Ava and Midi find their lives becoming more entwined together, much to their displeasure. But the two servants soon learn that they may only have each other to trust. This book is intense, violent, sexual, and dark. It is for mature readers due to the highly graphic content. However, it is a very interesting read about 16th-Century palace life, and is probably a case of this being a more truthful account than many non-fiction works. It’s a fascinating look at the interworking of a royal palace, and the secrets and lies it hides. It’s also a smack-you-in-the-face honest look at abuse of power, which is certain to open the readers’ eyes to other examples of this throughout history.

Would you recommend this book? Yes and no. While offering an interesting look at history, it seems a bit mature for a young adult book.

3 stars

–Lisa

Sway, Review

23 Mar

Sway by Kat Spears

Plot: Jesse (aka Sway–but don’t call him that to his face) is a guy who is able to give people what they want. Whether they need a term paper written, alcohol, a date, or whatever, Jesse has the connections to get the job done–for a fee of course. But what happens when a girl he is trying to win over for another guy starts to get under his skin, and he wants better for her than the person he is trying to set her up with?

Would you recommend this book? Yes, for older teens. This book includes language, alcohol, drugs, violence and other topics that will not be appropriate for a younger audience. However, if you are a bit older, it was an entertaining read.

Jesse’s interactions with other characters, particularly Pete and Mr. Dunkelman, sometimes made me laugh out loud. Sure, the whole concept that Jesse has connections to everything did seem a little far-fetched, but at the same time I think the plot could exist at a high school or college somewhere, if somebody were savvy enough to build himself or herself up with that reputation. But whether you believe in the credibility of the plot or not, it was entertaining all the same, while still touching upon a few deeper issues such as a drug overdose and people who are physically handicapped.

4 stars

–Jen

Going Bovine, Book Trailer

20 Mar