Saturday, October 30, 2010

Review #2

  • Title:  Pay it Forward
  • Author:  Catherine Ryan Hyde
  • Percentage:  96%, personally

  • Summary:  (from Publisher's Weekly Review) Twelve-year-old Trevor McKinney, the son of Arlene, a single mom working two jobs, and Ricky, a deadbeat absentee dad, does not seem well-positioned to revolutionize the world. But when Trevor's social studies teacher, Reuben St. Clair, gives the class an extra-credit assignment, challenging his students to design a plan to change society, Trevor decides to start a goodwill chain. To begin, he helps out three people, telling each of them that instead of paying him back, they must "pay it forward" by helping three others. At first, nothing seems to work out as planned, not even Trevor's attempt to bring Arlene and Reuben together. Granted, Trevor's mother and his teacher are an unlikely couple: she is a small, white, attractive, determined but insecure recovering alcoholic; he is an educated black man who lost half his face in Vietnam. But eventually romance does blossom, and unbeknownst to Trevor, his other attempts to help do "pay forward," yielding a chain reaction of newsworthy proportions. Reporter Chris Chandler is the first to chase down the story, and Hyde's narrative is punctuated with excerpts from histories Chandler publishes in later years (Those Who Knew Trevor Speak and The Other Faces Behind the Movement), as well as entries from Trevor's journal. Trevor's ultimate martyrdom, and the extraordinary worldwide success of his project, catapult the drama into the realm of myth, but Hyde's simple prose rarely turns preachy.
  • Format:  The format of the book is rather hard to follow, yet it makes it unique in the sense that I have never read another book like it. The narration switches from chapter to chapter and is constantly introducing new characters. Once you have gotten through the first few sentences you know what is going on, yet I found it a little hard to follow. The format fit the book though because it helped to convey that there were many people affected by Trevor's idea. Though it created some confusion, it was rather fitting.
  • Plot Line:  All in all the story of Trevor and his life was awesome. It definitely kept me wanting to no more and the selflessness of the boy amazed me as I continued to read on. I literally couldn't put it down, but that may have been because it was a story I felt was written precisely to my liking. It intertwined community, respect, romance, innocence, motivation, inspiration, wonder and ideas, and managed to bring that touchy-feely feeling you get when you hear about a remarkable event. To sum up my thoughts, I thought the overall story was great and it had many little twists and turns that were sewn into the story of Trevor's life.
  • Characters:  First off, there is Trevor: innocent, inspired, and passionate about helping others. He is who the story is about, yet the reader does not hear much of him, per say, but more of those who are in some way connected to him. I could tell that he was full of energy and motivation, yet he was average. The only thing that separated him from others was his will to help people and Catherine Ryan Hyde persuades the reader that that is enough. He was a very likeable character who was average but came up with an extra-ordinary idea. Second, there are the people who influence Trevor and who are influenced by Trevor's idea. It would take many paragraphs to describe them all, so in summary, the reader is introduced to many characters who are all there own people who have their own qualities. Their stories are as interesting as any, and I personally enjoyed the contrast of C.R.H.'s story to others because of the many characters that were all in some way related to something bigger than any of them.

  • Ratings:
    • Suspense:  4 stars
    • Vocab and Style:  4 1/2 starts
    • Quality:  4 1/2 stars
    • Attention-Keeping Ability:  5 stars
    • Excitement and Exhilaration:  4 1/2 stars
    • Uniqueness and Originality:  5 stars
    • Overall Rating:  4 3/5 stars

  • Overall:  To conclude, this book was really marvelous and a great inspiring story of how one person can affect so many. I was instantly drawn into Trevor's world and Catherine Ryan Hyde's style was one factor in why I adored reading it so much. I would defnitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys inspirational stories and anyone who is a dreamer. This review doesn't quite possess the magic that the book held for me because I was so into the story that when the tragic ending came, I actually cried. And I almost never cry over books. It is really emotional, but it is definitely something I enjoyed. I think one has to take pleasure in the particular genre of the book to fully love it as I did, but if it sounds intriguing, I would definitely put it on the top of your list of books to read.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Review #1

·         Title:  The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things
·         Author:  Carolyn Mackler
·         Percentage:  91%

·         Summary:  (from the front flap) Virginia Shreves has a larger-than-average body and a plus-size inferiority complex.  She lives on the Web, snarfs junk food, and obeys the “Fat Girl Code of Conduct.” Her best friend and stuttering soul mate, Shannon, has moved to Walla Walla, Washington. Froggy Welsh the Fourth has succeeded in getting his hand up Virginia’s shirt, but she lives in fear that he’ll look underneath. Then there are the other Shreves. Mom is an exercise fiend and a successful adolescent psychologist. Dad, when not jet-setting or golfing in Connecticut, ogles skinny women on TV. Older siblings Anais and Byron are slim, brilliant, and impossible to live up to. Delete Virginia, and the Shreves are a picture-perfect family … until a phone call changes everything.
·         Background Knowledge:  First, this book is not one I would normally read, but Kirthi, of Pages, posted a banned book post, and to honour the greatness of banned books, I chose this one off the list of the top 100 banned books. At first, I couldn’t see why it was banned, I mean, it is about overcoming physical obstacles and gaining confidence about yourself. Virginia realizes what a great person she is despite the fact that she has weight issues. It teaches teens to overlook the obvious and find the real person in someone. It also teaches to like yourself because of who you are and not let anyone change that. Further along in the book, I realized why it may have been banned:  it was superbly inappropriate, but hey. What young adult books aren’t? I think you just have to be a mature enough reader and then that would solve the problem. It’s not a matter of the book, just the reader.
·         Format:  The story of Virginia Shreves is told in first person through small chapters and occasional e-mails and instant messages. I personally liked the style because the chapters provided suspenseful endings that kept you flipping through. In addition, the random Web chats delivered a nice change that worked well with the story because 1) that was the only way for Virginia to communicate with Shannon, and 2) it kept Virginia’s character flowing throughout the book.
·         Plot Line:  The plot-line of the book was really well-thought out and realistic. It seemed as if the very story could be happening down the street. Also, it was really suspenseful and a real page-turner. There was a lot of action and personal conflicts Virginia had to deal with, and just as you though the problem would be solved, another one would pop up, or something would get in the way. This created an increase in drama which worked really well with Virginia’s character because it all led up to her becoming increasingly rebellious which led to an outcome of self-acceptance and building confidence. The flow of the book also had very realistic emotions. There were sad parts, happy parts, and everything in between. The way the story was told and the events that happened may it an enjoyable and fast read because it was a book I could not put down.
·         Characters:  As I said before, Virginia Shreves was very realistic, and also she had a wonderful voice of humour and was overall enjoyable to read about. There is not much more to be said on this topic, except that I wonder why all the characters in books such as these have such entertaining lives that many people love to read about…

·         Ratings:
o        Suspense – 4.5 stars
o        Vocab – 4 stars
o        Quality – 4.5 stars
o        Attention-Keeping Ability – 4.5 stars
o        Excitement and Exhilaration – 4 stars
o        Uniqueness and Originality – 4.5 stars
·         Overall Rating:  4 and one-third stars

·         Overall:  This book was really fun to read and had great points and life lessons. As funny as it was, it was surprisingly emotion and realistic. I would highly recommend reading this book (just don’t bring it to school!), yet it can be on your waiting list near the top.

Format of Reviews Post

Since I will be reviewing multiple books, here is the format I will use:

Review #x
Title:  title here
Author:  author here
Percentage:  percentage of 1-100 rating here

Summary:  either from the book (front and back covers or back of the book), a reliable online source, or one I make up
Format:  may or may not be included; a) describes the format of the chapters and books and whether or not it worked and flowed with the book and, b) my opinion of the format
Plot Line:  describes the plot line and my opinion
Characters:  describes the characters and my opinion

Ratings: 6 different categories that apply to the book with ratings of one to five stars
  • Suspense
  • Vocab
  • Quality
  • Attention-Keeping Ability
  • Excitement and Exhilaration
  • Uniqueness and Originality

Other Thoughts:  exactly that...may or may not be included

Overall:  my overall opinion of the book and what others may think of it and whether or not one should read it


Into the World

I am very excited to say that my book blog is finally here! I have been trying to create one for a long time, yet there were many restrictions. To name a few would be the title, whether it would be successful, if I would be committed to reviewing (which I am), and if I had the time. So, hoorah! Window is up and running at last. Now for some real posts...