Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

We despise spoilers. We avoid them at all costs, cover them with spoiler tags, and castigate those who share them. But a great book is one that we can appreciate even when we already know the ending. That’s how it was with The Song of Achilles: I knew the fates of the characters beforehand, but no matter how much I tried to brace myself, the last few chapters still broke my heart in the best possible way. Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under 5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Cover via amazon.com.

Cover via amazon.com.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn revolves around Francie Nolan, a young girl growing up in a poor neighborhood in New York. The plot of this novel does not drift from event to event, at least not in a way that fits standard plot summary – rather, it flows like fine water, split into five sections that match the stages of Francie’s coming of age. With warm prose Betty Smith addresses themes such as poverty, loss of innocence, and gender roles in a book she claims to have written without any intended message for society.

I loved two aspects of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, one of which was experiencing Francie mature from a tiny girl to a mature woman. Continue reading

12 Comments

Filed under 4 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

Voice. That makes this book about the 2002 Beltway Sniper Attacks come alive. Told through the alternating perspectives of Cody and Lio, two boys trying to find their place in this world, Gone, Gone, Gone will cause you to squeal in delight even as it sucker punches you in the stomach. Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under 5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Where You Are by J.H. Trumble

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

Robert Westfall has never had it worse – his father is terminally ill, his aunts are cruel and unsupportive, and the life he always envisioned for himself seems less and less appealing every day. Only in Calculus do his fears fade, and it’s mostly because of his kind teacher, Andrew McNelis. Mr. McNelis watches Robert flail from afar and with time offers a guiding hand. But what happens when Mr. McNelis’s role in Robert’s life changes from that of a confidante, to a friend, to something more…? Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under 3 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Proxy by Alex London

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars.

Going along with my idea of book reproduction in my review of Speechless, Proxy would be the child of Uglies by Scott Westerfeld and Legend by Marie Lu. It blends fast-paced action with a well-fleshed futuristic world, complete with characters that are rife with wit and passion.

Knox has never felt consequences before. Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under 4.5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten by Julian Baggini

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

Here’s a question for vegetarians: if a pig were raised in a comfortable and humane slaughterhouse, would you eat it? What if that pig were also genetically modified to want to be eaten – if being eaten was indeed its life’s ambition? How about a genetically modified chicken that had lost its sense of self, environment, pain, pleasure etc.? It’d be like plucking a potato from the ground.

Another one, for everyone: let’s say you’re a doctor, and you have a patient who falls unconscious while on life-support. Beforehand she asked over and over again to be taken off the machine, but to your chagrin, an ethics committee forbids you from doing so. One day a random passerby – a janitor, perhaps – accidentally knocks out the plug and disconnects the patient from the machine. You let it go and the patient fades away: after all, you took no measure in shortening the her life, you just failed to prolong it. Are you justified? Continue reading

16 Comments

Filed under 4 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

If books could reproduce – don’t ask me for visuals – Speechless by Hannah Harrington would be the child of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. All three are YA, contemporary books I would love to just shove at my future students and force them to read.

Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret. She’s one of those girls. If you’ve read any young-adult realistic fiction or if you’ve watched Mean Girls, you know the archetype I’m talking about. The totally selfish, totally conceited, totally all-I-care-about-is-my-popularity girl who gossips about everyone and cares about no one. In this case our protagonist Chelsea is second-in-command to her best friend and utter b-word Kristen. But when Chelsea blabs at a party and almost ends someone’s life, her sheltered existence comes crashing down. She decides to take a vow of silence – but even with that, can she bring herself to forgive, to face the truth, and finally, to somehow speak up for herself? Continue reading

14 Comments

Filed under 4 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars.

I felt like I found the fountain of youth with Eleanor & Park, but at the same time, it made me feel so darn old. Here’s a monologue of my thoughts while reading pages 70-71 (which can be shifted around just a little bit to apply to the rest of the book): Continue reading

15 Comments

Filed under 4.5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

Queen Dessen, Empress Dessen, and Rock Star of YA Realistic Fiction Dessen – all titles I whispered while reading this book, usually after the words “bow down to…” After ten previously published novels, Sarah Dessen still has that signature prose style of hers – just enough telling and showing to suck you in while establishing back story, a setting that sits in the back of your mind when you close your eyes, and characters that you can believe in. Continue reading

28 Comments

Filed under 4 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

When a girl, obey your father; when a wife, obey your husband; when a widow, obey your son. Continue reading

14 Comments

Filed under 4 stars, Book Reviews, Books