Tuesday, October 2, 2018

#gretchensbooks2018 - September

Squeezed in some last minute pool reads before the pool closed for the "winter." Slowly making my way through books that I’ve been meaning to read for ages and giveaway wins. Somehow I still never seem to make a dent in my reading list...

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(Summaries are from Amazon, but all reviews are my own!)

66. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini (3/5 ★)

Like many ambitious New York City teenagers, Craig Gilner sees entry into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School as the ticket to his future. Determined to succeed at life—which means getting into the right high school to get into the right college to get the right job—Craig studies night and day to ace the entrance exam, and does.  That’s when things start to get crazy.

At his new school, Craig realizes that he isn't brilliant compared to the other kids; he’s just average, and maybe not even that. He soon sees his once-perfect future crumbling away. The stress becomes unbearable and Craig stops eating and sleeping—until, one night, he nearly kills himself. 
Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio.  There, isolated from the crushing pressures of school and friends, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.

Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness. For a novel about depression, it’s definitely a funny story.

I've been wanting to read this one since it first came out, back when I was in high school or maybe late middle school I believe. I have the DVD and thought it was alright, but when I saw the book at the bookstore for a quarter I had to get it. It was a little slow getting into, and also pretty unrealistic. I was disappointed in it, but it is a YA book, and I think if I would have read it when I originally added it to my list I would have liked it a lot better. An interesting fact is that the author of this story wrote it immediately following his own five-day stint in a psychiatric hospital.

67. Sold by Patricia McCormick (3/5 ★)

Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though she is desperately poor, her life is full of simple pleasures, like playing hopscotch with her best friend from school, and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the family's crops, Lakshmi's stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family. He introduces her to a glamorous stranger who tells her she will find her a job as a maid in the city. Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi journeys to India and arrives at "Happiness House" full of hope. But she soon learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution

Picked this book up from McKay's for a quarter, because I had liked another book by the same author. It was a story written for a middle grade audience that gave a good intro to a very mature topic. It was a sad story, but had a happy ending. I had hoped it was intended for an older audience when I got it. If you're looking for a true story on a similar topic, I recommend The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam.

68. The Silent Boy by Lois Lowry (4/5 ★)

Katy Thatcher was the bright and curious daughter of the town doctor. She was fascinated by her father’s work, and even as a child she knew that she too wanted to be a doctor. She wanted to know about people. Perhaps it was this, her insatiable curiosity, or simply the charm of Jacob’s gentle intimacy with animals large and small, that fueled their friendship. Although Jacob never spoke to her or even looked at her directly, Katy grew to understand him from the moments they spent together quietly singing to the horses. She knew there was meaning in the sounds he made and purpose behind his movements. So when events took an unexpected and tragic turn, it was Katy alone who could unravel the mystery of what had occurred and why.

Another book by Lois Lowry that I hadn't read yet, but I am glad I cam across it at McKay's. It was a very sweet, but sad story, and ended rather abruptly.  I liked it, but the quick ending through me off.  I definitely would have enjoyed this story in middle school.

69. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (5/5 ★)

"There will be three tasks, spaced throughout the school year, and they will test the champions in many different ways … their magical prowess - their daring - their powers of deduction - and, of course, their ability to cope with danger." The Triwizard Tournament is to be held at Hogwarts. Only wizards who are over seventeen are allowed to enter - but that doesn't stop Harry dreaming that he will win the competition. Then at Hallowe'en, when the Goblet of Fire makes its selection, Harry is amazed to find his name is one of those that the magical cup picks out. He will face death-defying tasks, dragons and Dark wizards, but with the help of his best friends, Ron and Hermione, he might just make it through - alive!

My goal is to re-read the whole HP series this year.  I read books 1-3 in March because I had the illustrated editions, but since the fourth doesn't come out until 2019, I'm finishing the series off in my worn-in original editions.  I'm not going to leave an actual review because everyone is familiar with the HP stories, and if you're not you should get on it!

Reading Challenge: 69/52 books read in 2018

You can find previous book reviews here!

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