Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Hen That Dreamed She Could Fly

By Sun-Mi Hwang

A beautiful little book about an egg-laying hen who wishes to escape her cramped quarters and raise a chick. Through perseverance and opportunity she manages to do that. This book is not only well-written (kudos to translator Chi-Young Kim), but also esthetically pleasing with its beautiful illustrations by Nomoco. [144 pp.]

Link to book.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Way To Go

By Tom Ryan

A coming-of-age while coming-out-of-the-closet book. The story describes teenage friendships and other relationships in a very believable way. Overall, a nice book. I think I had a bit of trouble with some of the writing, but since I finished this book some time ago, I can't give specifics. In any case, it wasn't anything major. [224 pp.]

Link to Book

The Pig Comes to Dinner

By Joseph Caldwell

This is the second book of the Pig Trilogy. I read the first one a while back and enjoyed it a lot, so I was happy to find the second in the library. The pig who brought so much change to the lives of the humans he interacted with, continues to let his spirit cast warmth and hope on the people and ghosts around him. Like the first one, this book is also written splendidly with wit and humor. It truly is a fun read. Looking forward to the third one, though, again, this book can definitely stand on its own. [255 pp.]

Link to book

Saturday, October 8, 2016


By Percival Everett

Another great book by a great author. I can't claim to have undersood everything in this book, but the parts I did understand were very amusing. It is told by a 4-year old who could read and write like a very intelligent adult since he was very young, and because of that he got into much trouble. Because of his father's occupation, there's a lot of semiotic material in this book, which was interesting to me especially because I had just taken a semiotics class. [208 pp.]

Link to book.

Bridget Jones's Diary

By Helen Fielding

I am not going to write much about this book. I took it with me on my trip, and forgot to report it here until now, more than three months after reading it. I remember it was fairly amusing, and a good book to read while traveling. I think my favorite parts were the exaggerated calorie counts. [300 pp.]

Link to book

Living Hope (Hebrew)

By Yannets Levi

I read this book during the first few weeks of my first quarter in art/design school, so it took me much longer than usual to finish it. But I think part of the reason it took me so long was the language in which it was written. I usually read Hebrew faster than I do English, but this book was written in an almost archaic Hebrew, though it only came out last year. It felt a bit weird. The story itself is told in an unusual way, also. It is told in a way that makes it obvious to see its biographical aspects. In a way, it is a biography.
Illness and death and the relationships between the healthy and the ill play a central role here. It is not an easy book to read, but certainly an interesting one. [Hebrew, 398 pp.]

Link to book in Hebrew.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Eleanor and Park

By Rainbow Rowell

Okay, it's official. I love Young Adult books. This one was really good. It actually made me cry at times, but not like some cheap tear jerker. And I loved it even though there were things I couldn't understand, at least not until the end. And the ending was just perfect. On the surface it looks like just a teenage love story. Or you could look at it as a broken-house story. But it's actually so much more than that. [YA/328pp.]

Link to book.

Watership Down

By Richard Adams

I loved the book. At times it was a bit too intense for me. But it's about bunnies! I love bunnies. Not so much when they become fascist. But still, they're bunnies.
The book felt so authentic. It made me think of The White Bone. It really warms my heart to read books about animals, where the authors made it clear that they did their research, they're not just making stuff up, or anthropomorphizing the animals. Even thought some of the characters are based on people the author knows. I liked that, too. [476 pp.]

Link to book.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

By Sherman Alexie

This is such a beautiful, well-written story. It indeed reads like a diary, and it is so refreshing to see the point of view of a teenage reservation boy. It took me to a completely different world. It is a very sad world, to be sure, and yet full of humor and hope. [YA/ 240 pp.]

Link to book.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Custom of the Country

By Edith Wharton

This is a tale of a young lady whose driven by chronic ambition to have anything she currently doesn't possess. She will stop at nearly nothing to get what she wants, with hardly any regard - though without maliciousness, either - to other people's wellbeing.
This book took me a while to finish because it is fairly long (don't remember how many pages exactly, as I returned the book to the library and cannot find the edition I read online) and the language deserves full attention. I really enjoyed some paragraphs. [300-400 pp. (?)]

Link to book

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Attack of the Growling Eyeballs

By Lin Oliver
Illustrated by Stephen Gilpin

Book 1 of Who Shrunk Daniel Funk. This is an amusing story of a kid who gets shrunk after eating his great grandmother's goulash. He discovers that he actually has a permanently shrunk twin brother, and with him Daniel experiences daily life from a different perspective, one that is more adventurous. I enjoyed the kid's voice and his funky facts, but hoped to get a clearer idea of what Daniel really wants or how the events affected his life at a deeper level. Of course, I am not a 3rd grader, so I might have been looking for something that's not supposed to be there. I found the illustrations delightful. [CB; 147 pp.]

Link to the book series.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Cannery Row

By John Steinbeck

A series of stories based on the author's memories and friends in Cannery Row in Monterey, CA (despite the disclaimer at the beginning that all the characters are fictional). There are many funny and sad moments in this book, and All the characters are portrayed with love, despite their many shortcomings. It is well written and enjoyable.  The introduction, though it took me a while to go through, was well worth the read. [185 pp.]

Link to book

Saturday, April 16, 2016

In Mike We Trust

By P.E. Ryan

Yes, I chose the book because it was right next to the Sara Ryan's books, and I liked the cover. It was pretty good. Some parts seemed to be a bit contrived, but overall it was pretty entertaining, and discusses some important issues. It's about Garth, a high school student who recently came out to his best friend and mother. The latter didn't take it all that well, and so Garth feels relieved and comfortable when his uncle comes to visit. But pretty soon the lies begin and complications follow. [YA/ 336 pp.]

Link to book.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Northanger Abbey

By Jane Austen

It's been a while since I read a classic, and I believe I haven't even read one since I started my writing classes, so I wanted to examine a few writing issues in classic novels, especially after reading a book that jumped through POVs liberally, which is something often done in classic, by using omniscient POV. But, to my surprise, this novel used a pretty close third person POV. I've read many of Jane Austen's books, and have always liked her observations of society and human nature. I loved the subtext in this book and the wittiness with which she displays hypocrisy and greed.  [251 pp.]

Link to book.

The Rules for Hearts

By Sara Ryan

A sequel to Empress of the World, this book is told from the point of view of Battle, Nic's friend and lover, a year after their summer adventure. Since we learned in the first book that Battle has a brother who ran away from home and disappeared, it only made sense that we'd want to know what happened with that. I was a little disappointed there wasn't more frequent and earlier mention of Nic and the nature of their relationship (though it became clearer toward the end). All in all, I'm glad I only read these books after both of them had already been published. [YA, 222 pp.]

Link to book.

Empress of the World

By Sara Ryan

A wonderful YA novel about Nic, a girl with some security and sexual orientation issues who goes on a summer camp of gifted youth and learns much more than the subject matter of the course she signed up to. I liked the book enough to get its sort-of-sequel, The Rules for Hearts. [224 pp.]

Link to book.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Bread Winner

By Arvella Whitmore

A beautiful story about a girl who moves from her farm to a town during the depression. Times are hard - really hard - and she has to deal with many changes in her life. Thankfully, she can bake prize-winning bread. [YA/138pp.]

Link to book

The Itch

By Benilde Little

Though the story was somewhat interesting, especially the focus group of the book (successful African Americans), and the premise of growth and development for the protagonist was satisfying, I found the writing quite lacking. First, there's a lot of point of views - almost every paragraph has a different person's perspective. Even though it mostly works and the transitions are fairly clear, it was something that kept bickering in the back of my mind as I read it. In addition, there was an abundance of cliches. Perhaps these issues would have gone unnoticed had I not taken writing classes. [286 pp.]

Link to book

The Fat Girl

By Marilyn Sachs

This is a very interesting and well-written story about a boy who is at first disgusted by a fat girl in his ceramics class, but then he ends up gaining certain control over her, and discovers that he really likes his newly-found power, especially since in his own family he does not feel like he has much control over anything. [YA/226 pp.]

Link to book

The Wednesday Wars

By Gary D. Schmidt

The author of this book gave a really inspiring talk at the NYC SCBWI meeting, and so I was looking forward to read his books. This one did not disappoint. Although there were a couple of issues in the beginning where I did not buy certain claims (something to do with cream puffs [yum!]), these issues were gone by the time I got about half way through. It is about a boy whose Wednesday afternoons comprise of his staying alone in the classroom with a teacher who is forced to stay with him. He is convinced that she hates him for this reason, but throughout the book he discovers a few things about himself. [YA/264 pp.]

Link to book

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Animal Dreams

By Barbara Kingsolver

A story about a young woman who can't seem to feel at home anywhere, despite a strong desire to belong. Her sister went to Nicaragua's war zone, and her father has Altzheimers. But in her hometown she finds out she has a bigger family than she had thought. [342 pp.]

Link to book

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Winner of the National Book Award

By Jincy Willet

A twist on the love-triangle story. More like a hate-triangle story between twins who couldn't be more different and a horrible man. The couple responsible for the unfortunate encounter are also involved in one way or another in this tragi-comic story. [336 pp.]

Link to book.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Prodigal Summer

By Barbara Kingsolver

Another good read from a great author. This is actually 3-4 stories about one summer, told from the perspectives of three people. They all live in close proximity to each other, in a rural mountainous community, still they don't know each other or are even aware of each other's existence. At least in the first half (or even more) of the book. [464 pp.]

Link to book.