Jamie S. - Reviews

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All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel
All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel
Author: Anthony Doerr
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 55
Review Date: 12/23/2018


A magical novel that will have you enraptured with the memorable characters and their stories of life in Europe during WWII.


All the Summer Girls
All the Summer Girls
Author: Meg Donohue
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 24
Review Date: 8/22/2015


Ech...This book was OKAY. I was looking for a light summer read, which this was. I liked the setting on the Jersey Shore, but for me the story just wasn't there. I kept waiting for a little bit more than the predictable.


American Wife
American Wife
Author: Curtis Sittenfeld
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 297
Review Date: 4/27/2011


I had no idea this book was "loosely" based on the life of Laura Bush when I first chose it on Paperback Swap. I originally chose it because I loved "Prep" and the characters that Curtis Sittenfeld creates, and this book lived up to those same expectations. Though I have to admit, I enjoyed the early years of Alice Blackwell much more so than the 1600 Pennsylvania part of the book. Sittenfeld was spot on with the character "Charlie" (i.e. G.W. Bush). Like the other reviewers, I would love to know how much of the story is true and what Laura Bush thought of it.


The Art of Racing in the Rain
The Art of Racing in the Rain
Author: Garth Stein
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 1010
Review Date: 6/12/2010


A heartwarming and bittersweet story told from the brilliant mind of a Lab.


Beastie Boys Book
Beastie Boys Book
Author: Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 10/5/2019


Wow. I read this book by listening to the audio version. I wanted to hear the words straight from Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz, but what I got was so much more. Diamond and Horovitz had a litany of celebrity guest readers narrate the chapters with them. Though I didn't like some of the readers (like Kim Gordon...ugh), the stories produced by the band's climb to success are intoxicating and fascinating. I have and will always be a Beastie Boys fan, but now I have a totally new appreciation for their amazing creativity, their friendship, and the risks they were willing to take to break stereotypes in the rap world during the 1980's.

Diamond and Horovitz chose not to talk much about the sadness of losing Adam Yauch to cancer in 2012. Instead, they eulogized what he did, most particularly with his innovative and crazy intelligence, that helped the band break barriers and push their music to new heights.


Bergdorf Blondes
Bergdorf Blondes
Author: Plum Sykes
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 403
Review Date: 8/7/2007


I found it hard to get into this book, but I liked the ending. It is inconceivable to me that there are girls who actually live like these girls do.


Black Ice
Black Ice
Author: Lorene Carey
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 6/10/2007


Fantastic book...a must read.


The Book of Lost Things
The Book of Lost Things
Author: John Connolly
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 74
Review Date: 12/31/2011


I really enjoyed this book. I liked the fantasy aspect and the message that the story conveyed about fear, relationships and living life to its fullest. Very well written.


Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
Author: Trevor Noah
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 25
Review Date: 5/28/2019


I love Trevor Noah even more after reading this book. He uses his wittiness to recount the days of his childhood in South Africa, but he educates us all on what it was like to live under the horrors of apartheid. Just as it is important to read about the Holocaust, this book will enlighten readers about the oppression of the black and colored people of the pre Nelson Mandela era. As a middle school teacher, I would recommend this book to reader over the age of 14.


The Chocolate War (Chocolate War, Bk 1)
The Chocolate War (Chocolate War, Bk 1)
Author: Robert Cormier
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 126
Review Date: 7/18/2013
Helpful Score: 2


I have wanted to read this book for years, so I made a point to put it on my summer reading list. It was not exactly what I thought it was going to be. While I didn't exactly love the story, it does provide an interesting yet mature story for YA readers with an important message about bullying and the social order that forms in many high schools. I would not recommend it for readers under age 14/8th grade because of some of the mature themes and language. I think that A Separate Peace by John Knowles is a comparative book (also about an all boys school, bullying, social dilemmas) but with a much better plot and more well established characters.


Cyclone
Cyclone
Author: Doreen Cronin
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 2/20/2020


I read this for a book club with my sixth grade students, and I found it to be boring. Perhaps the end was meant to leave the reader hanging a bit, but there were a loose ends with the resolutions of the conflicts at the end of the novel, which I won't explain in case you want to read the book.


The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon, Bk 2)
The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon, Bk 2)
Author: Dan Brown
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 3346
Review Date: 6/26/2012


I know that I am about 10 years late to the party on this book, but it will go down as one of the best I have ever read. True or not, I was so intrigued by the historical aspect of the plot. I remember there being a lot of controvercy surrounding the book when it came out, but I thought that it was so interesting how Brown opened the door to a different perspective on the doctrine of modern religion. Dan Brown is truly an exceptional writer.


Divergent (Divergent, Bk 1)
Divergent (Divergent, Bk 1)
Author: Veronica Roth
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
 225
Review Date: 9/9/2013


YA lit. seems to have its trends, and the shift has gone from vampires to dystopian societies with female heroines. I didn't think that I would be a huge fan on this theme, but I devoured the Hunger Games series, Match and now Divergent. There was a bit of buzz this summer as talk began about the movie coming out in the spring of 2014. I knew that my students would be talking about it, so I wanted to get a jump start on this soon-to-be trilogy (the third book in the series is due to be released on Oct. 22). I have to say that I loved this book. It was well written, action-packed, suspenseful, and contained developed and complex characters. Tris, the main character, is reminiscent of Katniss Everdeen, as she must use her inner strength to defend herself, her family, and a dangerous secret that she must protect in order to save her life and those that love her. Like the Hunger Games, Divergent can be a bit violent, so I recommend this book for audiences 13 years and up, but many of my sixth graders have already read it.


The Gift Bag Chronicles
The Gift Bag Chronicles
Author: Hilary De Vries
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 36
Review Date: 7/26/2009


This book was a good, quick beach read on my recent vacation, but it was not great. The plot and characters were a bit underdeveloped and it lacked the story that makes you want to keep turning the pages. If you like reading about the exciting, high-pressured world of Hollywood, I recommend "The Second Assistant" and "The First Assistant" both by Clare Naylor.


The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing
The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing
Author: Melissa Bank
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 618
Review Date: 7/19/2011


I saw this book on my friend's bookshelf, so I decided to give it a try. It was a fast read and I enjoyed how each chapter was based around a different point in the main character Jane's life. I have to say the middle chapter about a neighbor on the floor below was confusing and broke the flow of the novel for me. Otherwise, I liked and cared about Jane and her struggle to "fish" for love and "hunt" for happiness within herself.


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, Bk 3)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, Bk 3)
Author: J. K. Rowling
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 1547
Review Date: 7/12/2011


I am a huge HP fan, but this was my favorite of the series by far.


The Help
The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 2462
Review Date: 9/24/2012


I wanted to read the book before seeing the movie, and boy am I glad that I did! I simply could not put this book down! At first I was taken by surprise that each chapter was in the voice of a different main character, but I loved the first person account of each story and how they intertwined. They were so rich and multidimensional. This was the first book that I have read in awhile where I truly cared about the characters. Though fictional, is it a fascinating read into the lives of people and tumultuous times in The South during the 1960s. I didn't want it to end. Now I can't wait to see the movie.


The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1)
The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 2302
Review Date: 8/9/2010


My sixth grade students were going crazy over this series all last year, so I had to add it to my summer reading list. I have to admit, it took a bit for me to get into it, but I can easily see why it is so popular. The pace of the plot rolls along quickly, and the action really heats up halfway through making it hard to put down. I do not recommend this book to readers under the age of 11. There is a morbid undertone and the theme of survival of the fittest and death may be hard for younger readers to deal with.


I Am the Messenger
I Am the Messenger
Author: Markus Zusak
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 137
Review Date: 4/22/2019


It took me awhile to get into this book. I loved Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, so I was somewhat surprised that I didn't like this book, especially since it won the Printz Honor Book Award in 2005. So, I read on, and I am so glad that I did. There is a beautiful message that unfolds as the main character, Ed Kennedy, discovers it through a journey of self discovery. You will not be disappointed.


In the Unlikely Event: A Novel
In the Unlikely Event: A Novel
Author: Judy Blume
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 22
Review Date: 9/18/2017


I got this book when Judy Blume came to speak at our public library speaker series last summer. Like so many my age, I grew up reading her books that shaped my adolescence, so it was such a joy to hear her speak in person. I was weary about reading this book although I read one of her other adult novels, Summer Sisters, years ago and loved it. I just didn't want to be disappointed, but what was I thinking. Can Judy Blume really disappoint? I am still amazed with how she can create characters that I remember long after I finish the book. Many of the characters in this book show the same vulnerability as the characters in her very famous YA books that shall forever live in infamy, but that is what Judy Blume does best - she captures the innocence and vulnerability of being young that never quite leaves our minds. And, being that this book takes place in the 1950's in a particularly turbulent time in the town where Judy grew up makes it even more special. She vaguely hinted that this could be her last book, and if it is, she has ended her illustrious 35 year career with another winner.


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