Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Book Review Club (April 2013)

Happy April 3rd. I hope you're all fine and well and have recovered nicely from April Fools' Day. Wondering where April Fools' Day originated?  In the 1500s, we started using the Gregorian calendar, which meant the New Year moved from April 1 to Jan. 1. People who didn't make the transition were called . . . April Fools! For more April Fools' Day trivia, you can visit here.

And now onto more fun and important things. Our book reviews! Be sure to click through the links under my review. They'll take you to everyone else's reviews. Happy reading!

WONDER by R. J. Palacio  (middle grade)

Two weeks ago, my 12 y.o. daughter, my RELUCTANT READER, sighed, closed this book and set it on our coffee table. "This is the best book I've read in my whole life," she said.

When I asked her what it was about WONDER that she loved, she answered, "It's just like my day, just like middle school. It's all so true. These characters are real people to me."

Whew. You can probably figure out what happened next. I put her to bed, picked up WONDER and began reading. And kept on reading. Because this is one gem of a book. 

In a nutshell: Ten-year-old Auggie (August) Pullman attends school for the first time. Up until now he's been homeschooled because of his facial deformity. "I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse." Auggie just wants to be seen as an ordinary kid. This, of course, is impossible because he's extarordinary.  Going to school changes Auggie's world and changes the world of many around him. The book is told from several perspectives: Auggie, a couple of his classmates, his high-school sister, his sister's boyfriend, an estranged friend of his sister's.

Particular to this book: The writing is beautiful. Beautiful. I actually cried a couple of times. Because, just as my daughter said, these characters were real people to me. I  think a lot of this is due to the multiple perspectives. All of which were in first person, present tense, which brings the characters even closer to the reader. According to my daughter's' book report, WONDER is about "courage, friendship and being yourself."

We wholeheartedly recommend this book. Apparently, a lot of people feel the same way as WONDER was a #1 New York Times bestseller.

Here's the link to the author's website. Look under FAQs for what inspired the author to write this story.

Oh, and, R.J. Palacio? Thank you for writing WONDER, a book that my reluctant reader fell in love with.

Without further ado, here are the links to AMAZING AND THOUGHTFUL reviews! You don't want to miss them.

MIDDLE GRADE/YOUNG ADULT BOOK REVIEWS

Stacy Nyikos: ALIENS ON VACATION by Clete Barrett Smith (middle grade)

Sarah Laurence: JUST ONE DAY by Gail Forman (young adult, contemporary)

Linda McLaughlin: LADY OF DEVICES: A STEAMPUNK ADVENTURE NOVEL by Shelly Adina
                                       (young adult, steampunk) 
  
Lucy Sartain of Ranting and Raving: THE SECRET YEAR by Jennifer R. Hubbard (young adult)


ADULT BOOK REVIEWS
 
Patti Abbott: BEAUTIFUL RUINS by Jess Walter

Stacy of The Cat's Meow: LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson (literary)

Staci of Life in the Thumb: WHILE WE WERE WATCHING DOWNTON ABBEY by Wendy Wax   (women's lit)

 Scott Parker: LEVIATHAN WAKES by James S. A. Corey (science fiction)

Linda McLaughlin: SOULLESS by Gail Carriger (steampunk)
                              

NON-FICTION BOOK REVIEWS 

Beth Yarnall:  HOW TO DISAPPEAR by Frank M. Ahearn
   
Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: CLIMATE MYTHS by Dr. John J. Berger
                                                  NUMBER CROSS PUZZLES by Rich Rollo (for adults + kids)

 Jody Feldman: BOMB: THE RACE TO BUILD - AND STEAL - THE WORLD'S MOST DANGEROUS WEAPON    
                           by Steve Sheinkin (young adult)                   



Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!




10 comments:

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I have heard only raves for this book. Need to get it

Stacy Nyikos said...

We listened to Wonder on a road trip and seriously stood in parking lots to finish chapters. It was so good! It also had extra meaning because my nephew recommended it. He hasn't got a ton of friends at school, so I think he id-ed with Auggie on a much much deeper level than any of us. Plus, when we saw him the next time, every other phrase out of his mouth was "cool beans"!

Sarah Laurence said...

By coincidence I just read Wonder too and your daughter's and your reaction sums it up perfectly. I picked that book up in an Indie bookstore and couldn't put it down. What a wonderful book!

Thanks for hosting and good luck in Vegas - ha who would guess that I'm talking about book club and robotics!

Barrie said...

Green Girl: You won't be sorry. I promise

Barrie said...

Stacy: Thank you for sharing the story about your nephew. When I read the flap copy of Wonder, I wasn't sure why my daughter described the book as being exactly like her middle school. There isn't a student dealing with a deformity or any kind of major disability. But I think she must have been referring to the same thing as your nephew--the kid/s who just don't fit it, how they continue on in face of this and the effect this has on everyone.

Barrie said...

Sarah: It is an un-put-downable book. ;)

And thank you for the good luck wishes for Vegas. No doubt I'll be posting on FB from the robotics competition. And perhaps I'll fit in a little blackjack, too!

Linda McLaughlin said...

Barrie,

Wonder sounds like a very special book. I've already emailed a friend telling her to check out your review!

Will try to get to everyone's blogs in the next couple of days.

Lucy said...

I'm struggling with what to say here because I love the fact that this book touched you, your daughter and several other commenters. I've heard arguments about plot driven vs. character driven books and I'll take character driven any day because if I don't care about the characters, I'm probably not going to like the book. And I already care about these characters and all I've read is your review. Definitely sounds like a book that needs to be added to my list. Thanks for the wonderful review.

David Cranmer said...

Another month and another collection of books I can spend money on. :)

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

How far behind do you think I am, Barrie? sigh
15 days worth???
Thanks for taking charge!
Cheers from Cottage Country!