Tag: Realistic FIction

Audiobook Review: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Long Way Down
Author: Jason Reynolds

Published: October 24, 2017
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Read: November 22, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.
~~~

Will’s older brother, Shawn, has been shot.
Dead.

Will feels a sadness so great, he can’t explain it. But in his neighborhood, there are THE RULES:

No. 1: Crying
Don’t.
No matter what.

No. 2: Snitching
Don’t.
No matter what.

No. 3: Revenge
Do. 
No matter what.

But bullets miss. You can get the wrong guy. And there’s always someone else who knows to follow the rules…

Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds

Jessica’s Review:

Wow, wow, wow! This is one where I edited the book descriptions from both Amazon and Goodreads, as both together give away the plot and this is one where it is best to know next to nothing other than the bare minimum: That Will’s brother Shawn was shot dead and Will is determined to get revenge on the shooter.  Other than that all you need to know is that the novel is written in poetry/ verse and also takes place in 60 seconds. How does it take place in such a short time period? You’ll have to read this one to find out! 

As mentioned, Will’s brother was shot dead and he wants revenge. He seeks out revenge by going to kill his brother’s killer. He gets on an elevator with a gun (which he has never shot)… and then things start happening. 

The numbered chapters in Long Way Down descend as the elevator reaches a new floor level, which adds to the urgency of the situation. 

I listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by the author himself, Jason Reynolds. No one other than Reynolds could have accomplished what he intended; and even in the brief author interview, Reynold explains why only he could narrate this novel. This novel is written in verse, which usually is not for me. In this case I benefitted by listening to the audiobook. 

Long Way Down is a short yet also very powerful novel that leaves you thinking about so much after you have finished it.  This is one that will stay with you. I can say this is my top read for 2020.  The audiobook is just one hour and 45 minutes long and deserves a full listen to in one sitting.

I very highly recommend the audiobook version for everyone, especially if verse and poetry are not your typical genre. Long Way Down is a must read.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Children’s Chapter Book Review: Twig and Turtle: Big Move to a Tiny House

Twig & Turtle: Big Move to a Tiny House
Series: Twig & Turtle #1
Author: Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Illustrator: Paula Franco
Published: October 6, 2020

101 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Date Read: October 29, 2020

Book Description:

8 and 6-year-old sisters named Twig and Turtle are excited and curious about their new small town in Colorado, and for their cool new tiny house. Their family is united in living more simply and not stressing out the earth’s resources. And enjoying nature. But for Twig, that means leaving her BIG adopted Great Dane with her grandma. In the tiny house, there’s barely enough room for a few books and games!

Friendly and outgoing Turtle rolls with the move, and new life. But Twig struggles without her beloved dog. At school, Twig has to write about an opinion. And that gets her mind cooking. Twig is going to use her writing project to get her big dog back!

Jessica’s Review:

This is a short chapter book for kids from second to fourth grade.  This book deals with several issues children may face: moving, bullying, and loss of pets (not due to death). Not only do Twig and Turtle have to move, their family moves into a ‘tiny house’ and they have to downsize! Downsizing means having not much at all, which includes Twig losing ‘her’ dog Bo as he is a Great Dane and that type of dog would not fit in a tiny house. 

Though the title is about moving into a tiny house, that is not the main focus of the story. The main focus is Twig trying to find a solution to keep Bo.  Ultimately a solution is found and everyone is happy.  Therefore, I feel the title should have been something else. 

This is a story that shows that kids can set their mind to something and actually accomplish something. 

There are illustrations in the book, but my arc copy states that the illustrations are not final, which is apparent between the cover of my copy and the finished book. Therefore, I cannot comment much on the illustrations except to say that based off of my copy that there may be diversity of ethnicities and disabilities shown. 

I received a copy via Amazon Vine.  This children’s book is recommended.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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A Story About Cancer (With a Happy Ending)

A Story About Cancer (With a Happy Ending)
Author: India Desjardins
Illustrator: Marianne Ferrer
Translator: Solange Ouellet
Published: January 29, 2019
96 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: August 2, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

I think about everything I’ll miss if they tell me I’m going to die . . . my mom, my dad, my sister, cookies, TV shows I’ll never get to see the end of, walking outside when it’s really nice, the smell of fall, the starry sky on a full moon, my grandparents, my grandpa’s lasagna, kissing Victor, Victor’s eyes, Victor’s voice, Victor’s smell, Victor’s hands . . . Victor.

A teenage girl heads towards the hospital waiting room where the doctors are going to tell her how much time she’s got to live. As she walks, she thinks about her journey up to this point . . . the terrible decor in the hospital, wearing a headscarf, the horrible treatments, but also being with her friends, family, and her new boyfriend Victor. This is a story about cancer with a happy ending. It’s about life, love, and especially, hope.

Jessica’s Review:

Our unnamed female narrator is 15 and has been on her leukemia journey for five years. She tells us her story first hand of growing up and dealing with cancer, from losing a friend to the disease, to even falling in love for the first time.  This is another story with the **spoiler alert*  in the title, but that was actually what brought me to want to read A Story About Cancer.  

This graphic novel comes off more as a children’s book with the watercolor type illustrations and simplistic dialog, yet I was entranced in the story and even though I knew it would have a happy ending, I was intensely reading it. The book gives us the variety of emotions and experiences that a child and her family goes through as she is becoming a teenager and  faces this journey.  The illustrations are perfect for the story and help to complete it. 

I would say the best age group for this graphic novel would be preteens.  The story and words don’t talk down to a reader of that age and help one understand what goes on with someone dealing with cancer.  And yes, there is a happy ending.

There is a real life story behind the novel, which is mentioned at the end and makes the book even more wonderful. I applaud the author, illustrator, and translator for working to give us this story about cancer, but with a happy ending! 

I received a copy from the publisher Frances Lincoln Children’s Books via Amazon Vine.  Many thanks for allowing me to read and review it! 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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