Tag: 4 stars

A Double Review of Wonder

The movie Wonder starring Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts, and Owen Wilson will be released this Friday, the 17th.  Kim and I both read it earlier this year and saved our reviews until now to share with you.  It is one we both enjoyed, and we are both looking forward to the movie.

Author: R.J. Palacio
Published: Feburary 14, 2012
322 Pages

Book Description from Amazon:

Over 6 million people have read the #1 New York Times bestseller WONDER and have fallen in love with Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face.

The book that inspired the Choose Kind movement.

I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

Jessica’s Review:
Dates Read: September 7-19, 2017
Jessica’s Rating: 4 Stars

Wonder begins with this line: “I know I’m not an ordinary ten-year-old kid.”  And you are not ordinary Auggie; you are so much more!  Wonder is ultimately an uplifting novel about August (Auggie) Pullman and his Fifth grade year of school.  He has never been to mainstream school before, so he is about to experience a lot of firsts.

“My name is August, by the way. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse”.

Among other issues, Wonder deals with bullying and how cruel kids can be based on someone’s looks.  As you read Wonder you will feel a wide range of emotions.  You will laugh and you will cry.

**Minor spoiler**:

For the extra sensitive folks, there is a small storyline that deals with the end of the life of the family pet.  If you are an animal lover, you can’t help but get emotional while reading this.  I listened to the audiobook, so I was thankful I was concentrating on driving. If I had been reading the book, I would have been crying my eyes out.

**End of spoiler**

There are multiple narrators and points of view throughout Wonder, and we experience everything that everyone feels.  The chapters are also very short which makes it one to read very quickly.

I look forward to seeing the movie. I saw the trailer and I expected Auggie to look ‘worse’ than he does on film. August is played by Jacob Tremblay, who also played Jack in the movie Room. That boy has some talent, so I know he will play Auggie perfectly.

Wonder is recommended. It is a book everyone should read.


Kim’s Review:
Kim’s Rating: 5 Stars

I saw the trailer for the movie based on this book and decided that I had to read it! Holy. Cow. Prepare yourself for all the feels . . . ALL of them. This is another one of those books that my husband took one look at me and said, “are you ok?” The last time I cried so hard during a book was during A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (maybe I should go back and do a review on that one too, huh.). Anyways, I knew this book was going to be emotional, considering I cried during the movie trailer. Wonder gives a great look into the minds of people affected by disabilities. And to say that people with disabilities are the only ones who hurt is incredibly unfair. August, Via, and their parents all must face life’s problems in various ways. Mr. and Mrs. Pullman have to learn how to let their children grow up. Via has to figure out how to accept her brother while trying to be accepted herself. And Auggie, seriously one of my favorite book characters ever, has to do the growing up. He has to learn how to deal with real life.

There are many of us who went to the same school with all the same people in all the same buildings with all the same teachers all the way through our educational careers. Auggie doesn’t have that kind of foundation. Homeschooled by his mom from kindergarten through 4th grade, he is suddenly faced with going to a “real school” with the normal kids, trying to overcome his abnormalities. This story takes place during Auggie’s 5th grade year, and Via’s high school freshman year. Transitions galore! Auggie tries to make friends, but how can he do that when everyone is too busy staring at him and trying to avoid touching him? Via has had the same friends since before Auggie was born, but she gets left behind when they redefine themselves for high school.

At first, Jack, Summer, Julian, Charlotte, and all the other kids at Beecher Prep just see a new kid with a weird face. But as the year progresses, they all learn those important lessons about how to treat people. As a teacher, I’ve seen the unpopular kids trying so hard to fit in. But I’ve also seen the other kids being forced to accept these misfits. I realize this is probably going to be an unpopular opinion, but I do not believe in forcing kids to spend time with each other. No, making fun of and bullying other kids is unacceptable no matter what. But insisting that kids do anything more than show a little kindness by saying a simple “hello” while walking down the hallway is unfair to both groups. I believe that forcing acceptance on kids does nothing more than shows those kids who don’t fit in that they deserve pity, and cultivates annoyance and antagonism towards those misfits by the kids being forced. In Wonder, Auggie has to deal with that same pity from kids who were chosen specifically so they could “be friends” with him. Can he make any friends on his own? I’ll be your friend, Auggie! I love you!!!!!

So I absolutely recommend this book to parents and teachers, most of all. I’ve already purchased a copy for my dad, who is a 6th grade teacher. But fair warning, lots and lots of waterworks. Seriously, I told my husband that I finished the book and his response was, “oh good! You cried so much!” Of course I did, you unfeeling Neanderthal!!!! ? I love him, he just doesn’t know how to deal with a crying woman! So please read this book. I leave you with the same thing Mr. Tushman gave to the kids during his graduation speech: “But in another book by J.M. Barrie called The Little White Bird, he writes, ‘Shall we make a new rule of life . . . always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary.’”

If you have not seen the trailer, watch it now, prepare for all the emotions, then watch the movie and read this book!:

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Sunday Series Review: The Gemma Doyle series

This week Kim reviews the Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray. She liked it and recommends this series to anyone who enjoys Fantasy and Historical Fiction.  This is also YA, and teens will be teens and sometimes we know what Kim thinks of teens  in these books by now!  😉

Author: Libba Bray

Books in the Series:
A Great and Terrible Beauty
Rebel Angels
The Sweet Far Thing

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s rating of the series: 4 Stars

Description from Amazon:

A Great and Terrible Beauty: It’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to?

Rebel Angels: Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy—spending time with her friends in the city, attending balls in fancy gowns with plunging necklines, and dallying with the handsome Lord Denby. Yet amid these distractions, her visions intensify—visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened that only the realms can explain. The lure is strong, and soon Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world that Gemma takes them to. To the girls’ great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship. But all is not well in the realms—or out. Kartik is back, desperately insisting to Gemma that she must bind the magic, lest colossal disaster befall her. Gemma is willing to comply, for this would bring her face-to-face with her late mother’s greatest friend, now Gemma’s foe—Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task. . . .

The Sweet Far Thing: It has been a year of change since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father a laudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength and has discovered an ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs wild. Despite certain peril, Gemma has bound the magic to herself and forged unlikely new alliances. Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds. The Order—the mysterious group her mother was once part of—is grappling for control of the realms, as is the Rakshana. Spence’s burned East Wing is being rebuilt, but why now? Gemma and her friends see Pippa, but she is not the same. And their friendship faces its gravest trial as Gemma must decide once and for all what role she is meant for.

Kim’s Review:

I read the whole series! And the third book is like 800 pages! I did enjoy these books. The story was unique, and I like some of the characters. The sad thing about this series is that I hate all the main characters. Gemma is like grass in the wind. No matter what her gut or her brain tells her, even when she knows that something is wrong, even when she knows the right way is the complete other direction, she lets everyone else dictate what she does. Her friends can easily manipulate her. The people that she should respect and listen to are ignored completely and often scorned, but whenever her friends start whining, she lets them have and do whatever they want.

Felicity and Pippa are nothing but spoiled brats who see Gemma as someone to use and manipulate and that never changes. Ann is nothing but a whining doormat. Whoever decided to gift these girls with magic and the fate of the realms needs to have his/her/its head examined. Thankfully there are other characters that I like much better, who saved the story for me. Kartik is my favorite! He stays steady and consistent throughout the whole series. Although his loyalties do shift, he never waivers. Mother Elena and Brigid are sweet women who genuinely care about the people around them. Even Circe is a consistent character that I ended up respecting by the end! The story itself is very intriguing.

Unfortunately, it went far too long because just when Gemma figures out what needs to be done, the other girls convince her to wait and do something completely unnecessary for another 30 pages. I think there is a lot that could be shaved down. I do like the subplot of true feminism. That girls shouldn’t be viewed as pretty breeding stock, but as people who are capable of thinking and providing for themselves. There is real sexism in these books and Bray does a great job of using the characters to fight against it. Overall, this is an interesting series that I would recommend to anyone who likes Fantasy and to some who like Historical Fiction.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


We Were Liars

Author: E. Lockhart
242 Pages
Published: May 13, 2014

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 Stars

Description from Amazon:

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Kim’s Review:

I enjoyed reading this book; I finished it in a day. I decided to read it after getting a recommendation from Jesse the Reader. He suggested that it’s better to read this book without knowing too much about it, and that’s how I recommend it as well. The mystery starts from the very first page.

Cadence “Cady” Sinclair Eastman is a rich teenager whose family owns a private island. But this summer, something is wrong. And you spend the whole book trying to figure out what exactly is wrong. And when you do, boy, it’s pretty big! And don’t get distracted! There are some little clues that come out and I had a completely different idea of what was going on . . . yeah, I was wrong! The only reason I’m giving this book 4 stars is because there’s some of that righteous teenage anger about a world that they see only in black and white and haven’t grown up enough to know it’s actually gray. But other than that, it’s an easy read with an interesting plot line. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a light mystery.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK