Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Girl, 15, Charming but Insane ***

Limb, Sue. Girl, 15, Charming but Insane.

This book was "just ok". I didn't have any problems with it; it was just a cute, fun, story.

Jess feels ugly and fat. She has a friend, Flora, that is pretty and gets all the guys. Flora starts to date Mackenzie. By some stroke of luck, Ben, Mackenzie's friend, starts asking Jess out, which thrills her to no end because she has been secretly in love with him forever. She also has a platonic friend, Fred, that will do anything for her. The book ends up involving a few potential love triangles, and really focuses a lot of Jess and all of the strange things that keep happening to her.

This book doesn't have any major social issues or anything going on, it is just plain fun, following Jess around and all of the situations she finds herself involved in. Anyone looking for a fun story, will enjoy this one. Anyone that likes a book with more substance should steer clear of this one. There are some loose ends at the end, particularly with regard to her father and why her parents split, which leaves things open for a sequel.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Big Mouth and Ugly Girl **** 1/2

Oates, Joyce Carol. Big Mouth & Ugly Girl.

This book alternates between the perspective of Matt, a popular student that is involved in the school newspaper, student council, and the drama club and Ursula, an unpopular and socially awkward basketball player.

Ursula thinks she is ugly, and calls herself Ugly Girl. She thinks no one really likes her and that everyone is calling her names. Her father is never home and her mother pays attention to her younger sister, and seemingly ignores Ursula.

At lunch, Matt and his friends were discussing whether or not his play would be selected to the Spring Drama club presentation. He jokes that if he doesn't get selected, "what am I going to do-- blow up the school?" At that time Ursula and one of her friends is walking by and hears them, and knows they are joking. Two other girls, however, contact the Principal and the cops come to take Matt out of his study hall class. He is interrogated to the point where he almost confesses just to stop the questioning. He is suspended from school pending further investigation.

Ursula comes to his aid by telling the Principal what really happened, backed up by her friend Eveann. Matt is then released and allowed to come back to school. No one wants to be friends with Matt anymore, and he is pretty much ignored, even by Ursula who saved him.

Eventually, Ursula and Matt strike up an unlikely friendship, which shocks everyone in the school. Everyone is even more shocked when they find out who were the two anonymous accusers on that fateful day.

I highly recommend this book to any high school student as it shows what can happen to a student with a big mouth that doesn't always think before speaking. It is also an interesting book, well written, and it is fast paced, to keep the readers attention.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Monster **** 1/2

Myers, Walter Dean. Monster.

National Book Award Finalist
Michael L. Prints Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature
Coretta Scott King Award

This book has won awards, but I don't think you should read it for that reason. No, you should read it because it is good.

It tells the story of Steven Harmon, an African American teen from Harlem, on trial for assisting in a robbery that turns into a murder. He is accused of being the look out, of going into the drug store first, to ensure there isn't anyone in the store, and then give the signall that it is ok to go in. Steve claims he wasn't even in the drug store that day. The book alternates between Steve's diary and a transcript of the trial. Steve, an aspiring filmmaker, tells the story of the trial is screenplay form, with close-ups, etc. This makes the book intersting as it isn't plain writing, it is a journal and a play all in one.

The size of this book has always put students off this book right from the beginning, but readers shouldn't worry about the length of the book. It is, indeed, 300 pages, but there is a lot of blank space, and the writing is very large, particularly in the diarty sections. I read this book in less than 2 hours. I recommend this book to anyone that doesn't like to read as it is fast paced and interesting, so it will hold anyone's attention.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Fallen Angels **** 1/2

Myers, Walter Dean. Fallen Angels.

This was one of the best books that I read, back in Library School. I loved it then and love it now that I have to read it again.

Fallen Angels details the life of a soldier in the Vietnam War, and others in his platoon. Perry is a black soldier that enlisted because he didn't know what else to do with this life. While he is in Vietnam, he worries about his younger brother and his alcoholic mother, back in Harlem. He befriends PeeWee, another black soldier from Chicago. Together, they try to survive the war while getting into many scary situations.

We know, of course, that there are going to be a lot of deaths. There is a lot of talk about wounds, and descriptive sections on how the various soldiers died. It is gory, but not gross. The story itself isn't just a war story. It is about Perry, PeeWee, and the rest of the people they come into . There are descrptive passages that really explain the various "battles" and ambushes they are involved in.

This book provides a snapshot into what it was like for many army troops during the Vietnam War. It is a great book for anyone to read that is interested in history, wars, and the Vietnam War in particular. There are many fiction novels about the war, but this one is aimed specifically at a high school audience, and it is particularly well written. I recommend it highly, especially to male readers.