Sunday, September 7, 2008

Harriet M. Welsch: SPY

As a kid growing up in the burbs, with not much activities going around, it's a common thing that you know pretty much what's going around in your neighborhood. And that's when I'll remember that somehow, there's a bit of Harriet in me. Yes. The famous (and controversial) Harriet the Spy written by Miss Louise Fitzhugh in the 60s. Harriet wants to be a spy. She always carries this notebook where she writes every little thing that happens in her neighborhood. She also writes about her opinion of some people, even if it's not really nice. She even writes about her friends and diss them too.

Everything turned sour though after her friends found out about the notebook and wrote the things she have written on it. They were embarassed and upset by what they've read and so the sixth-grade class formed a club to get back at her. Of course Hariett has to get back. She also retaliated but after being sent to the shrink and losing Ole Golly, Harriet learned how to value friendship, while struggling with her own identity. This is a book that I will definitely want my future grandkids to read to. We all have something to learn from it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Thirteen Reasons Why

While I never really agree and supports suicide at all as a reason to take someone's life, I do accept the fact that sometimes, there are really some people who resorts to this kind of thing. I cannot judge them at all because firstly, I don't know them personally enough to judge their whole lifetime of one act and second, even if I will never agree with it, to some, Suicide is the only answer now. Why am I even talking about this? Over the weekend, I've read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. A book that emphasizes some of the signs of impending suicide and a teenager's tale of how she ended up doing what she did.

Before Hannah Baker committed suicide, she recorded on casette tapes the reasons why she was killing herself. She then sent these tapes to the first perosn on the list, and then has to deliver the tapes on the next person on the list after listening to it. The book alternates between Hannah dictating her story and Clay (who received all the tapes two weeks after Hannah's suicide) the ninth person in the story. You may wonder why Clay but you will get the answer when you read the book. The author kinds of tells us that one's words and actions have consequences to another person. There are no meaningless act and we all play a teeny tiny part in everyone's lives. It's a wonderful read I suppose that every teenager must read.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Judy Blume books are always a winner. I dunno. Maybe I'm a bit biased about it because I grew up reading her novels. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is the first among the Fudge series that came out in the 70s. It follows the life of Peter Hatcher, his little brother Fudgie, baby sister Tootsie, their neighbor Sheila Tubman, different pets and other characters across New York City and adventures in camps and suburbs.

This is more of a daily account in Peter's life and dealing with his uber-cute brother, Fudge. Despite the cuteness though, Fudge is the cause of all Peter's problems. He messes up with Peter's things including his homeworks, ate his turtle pet, throws tantrums in store among many other more things. I understand that Peter is jealous of all the attention that his little brother is getting but that's the reason why I love Judy Blume. She makes every novel very entertaining, knows her audience well and has an immense talent in making it look like it's really the character's point of view she's talking about.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Hundred Dresses

This is a pretty simple story that kids will easily understand (and hopefully get the lesson too). Wanda Petronski is a Polish girl who lives with her father and brother in the bad part of a small town. She wears the same faded blue dress everyday to school. It's clean but you know that it's really quite old and haven't been properly ironed for a long time. When her classmate Cecille one day told everyone that she has a new red dress, Wanda turns to her neighbor Peggy and told her that she got hundreds of dresses in her closet.

We all clearly know what probably happened next. But there's another important character in this story as well: Maddie. A silent girl who simply stands there each day Peggy asks Wanda about her hundred dresses. Maddie feels bad about Wanda but she doesn't necessarily speak about it. Turns out that the dresses she's telling Peggy were all drawn by her. But it was too late, as the Polack family has moved to another town.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tuck Everlasting

The first week in August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning."

If you have a chance with forever what would you do? This is probably how I will summarize Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting. A novel for those who thinks that living forever to be a good and exciting idea. It's a story about 10-year-old Winnie Foster stumbling upon the spring of life while exploring the woods. She met Jesse Tuck where she got intrigued with the unusual life he lives with his parents. The Tuck family was the only one who knows it, until Winnie came along.

Winnie got kidnapped and along the way helped a murderer out of jail. When she was offered the ultimate gift she finds that she doesn't know whether to accept or not. I really loved the part where the author makes us realize that there is a natural cycle of life and we shouldn't really interfere with this idea by escaping or avoiding the idea of death. It's a good fantasy story with interesting adventures that readers will surely like.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sarah, Plain and Tall

Here is one book of Patricia MacLachlan that I particularly enjoyed and realy loved. I guess the awards and honors it gathered throughout the years are enough proof that it was well-loved and well-received. It is about widower Jacob Whitting, his children, Anna and Calab and their quest to fill the emptiness left by their wife and mother who just died. So Jacob posted an ad in the paper seeking for a wife and got a response from a certain Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton from Maine. After numerous correspondence with each other, Sarah decided to go to the Whitting's prairie home.

Of course there were adjustments upon Sarah's arrival. Questions were flying such as "can she really fill in their mother's shoes?" or "can Sarah get used to living in the farm away from the ocean far away from her loved ones?" It is a warm story of people that are learning to live with each other and becoming a family in the end simply because they've grown to love each other. In the author's simple language, she gave us vivid images and meaningful story.

Friday, June 6, 2008

I Am The Cheese

This is the type of book that I will definitely would want to recommend to everybody written by Chocolate Wars author, Robert Cormier. It tells of Adam's story and his quest to find his father after finding out that his family is part of a witness protection program. His parents has been keeping secrets from him all these years. As he struggles to determine who he is, he is faced with a terrifying truth of a government more willing to protect its own power than protecting life.

This is quite a psychological and suspenseful book that became controversial in earlier times. The story is told through flashbacks in some chapters but at the beginning we are informed that Adam is riding his bicycle all throughout. This is a very engaging and gripping novel that made me really think because it is unlike other young adult's literature books. I guess with the funny title some people didn't really thought it could be a good read but if you read the book you will find out why.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sushi For Beginners

Marian Keyes always write good books with good plots with interesting and loveable characters. It revolves around the lives of three different women in Dublin. There's Ashling Kennedy, nicknamed "Little Miss Fix It" by Jack Devine. She is very practical and is always ready to help colleagues from simple stuffs as bandages to hairsprays. Lisa Edwards, Ashling's bitter boss who felt she was demoted after being transferred to Dublin to launch a brand new magazine from her previous glitzy London editor job. And there's Clodagh Kelly, a beautiful working woman married to a handsome, successful man with two equally beautiful babies but can't seem to be satisfied with her husband and seems to be having the urge to kiss a frog!

Sushi for Beginners is a wonderful chicklit about the search for happiness and the continuous search for it. Unlike Keyes previous novels, this one does not tackle alcoholism, drug abuse or violence because this is more of a family roots examination and its impact to the working women's lives. As usual, Marian Keyes delivers a funny, poignant tale that might be predictable at times but a satisfying read at the very end.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Truth About Forever

Often, our lives are mapped out way ahead with all the plans and dreams we have intricately written. Then something comes between it that we are force to rethink our plans. Macy Queen was supposed to spend all of her summer working at the library while her boyfriend is away in some Brain Camp. On her free time, she will study for her SATs or thinking about the recent death of her father, which she personally witnessed. She might look so composed and everything with all the stuffs that happening in her life but deep inside, she is actually drowning.

All of this have changed though when she met the Delia who runs a catering service named Wish Catering after her late sister who died of cancer. She runs the business with her nephews Bert and Wes with Kristy and Monica. They are everything that Macy isn't. They live for the moment, fun albeit chaotic most time and endearing. Macy ditched her summer job in the library and is soon spending all her time with the Wish crew. Plus the romance between Macy and artistic Wes is interesting. Go ahead and find out why when you read Sarah Dessen's enjoyable book.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


I read this book a long time ago that I don't really remember much what it's about. So recently, while I was on a vacation, I collected all the books I wanted to read (and reread) every book that I've ignored and books that I've missed over the years. And so Stargirl has come back to life. She is not your average 16-year-old for she possessed a mysterious, almost magical personality. She is not one to conform in the popular crowds, in fact with everything. Who brings their pet rat and ukelele in school everyday, dresses in long prairie skirts, decorates her desk with flowers and cheers on the other team during school games.

At first the studen in Mica High were in awe with her, she's different, eccentric and egoless. Her classmates doesn't know whether to love her for her guts or hate her for having the gall to break the school rules. She caught Leo Borlock's attention upon her arrival, the narrator of the book. It's a book about conformity, acceptance, free-spirits, friendship, love and diversity. When someone is different from us, we tend to outcast them and make them feel so left out just because they have a totally different outook in life and does not go with the flow. It's a book that can be read and enjoyed both by young and the old!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging

The first book among the series about a 14-year-old Georgia Nicolson who is so much like a younger version of Bridget Jones. She thinks that most things in her life are very wrong. Like a bedroom that smells a little because of her little sister who tends to leave wet nappies at the foot of her bed, her cat Angus causes terror to neighboring animal pets, parents who embarrassed her and friends that think she is an alien after having accidentally shaved her eyebrows!

Despite all this, and trying to survive an all-girls school everyday, life is pretty much normal for Georgia who has great interest in boys: meeting them, attracting them and likely snogging with them! This book is so funny I really had a great time reading it and learning some British expressions along the way. It's enough to make anyone laugh, even the "most pofaced bloke" (sad looking guy). I couldn't agree more. Share it with friends and you'll never regret it.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Louise Renisson Is Georgia Nicolson

In a way. At least that's what she admitted in most of her interviews. Louise Renisson is the award-winning and bestselling British author of Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series that has been the craze ever since it came out. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging is the first among the series followed a lot more books that is insanely hilarious and addicting to read. There is every bit of Louise in Georgia so imagine the odd yet funny things she have done when she was still in school.

She grew up in Leeds but at the age of 15 her family have migrated to New Zealand. She was a journalist before she became an author. She is also a major contributor of comedy scripts and has a one-woman live show, "Stevie Wonder Felt My Face" that ran in the 1990s. Currently she is residing in Brighton which she often describes as "The San Francisco of England" (minus the Golden Gate bridge and earthquakes though). Go ahead to your favorite bookstores and read for yourself why Louise Renisson is such a beloved author worldwide.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Rules is a very relevant and and interesting book that tackles about autism. It's about 12-year-old Catherine's life who loves art so much, longs for a friend but often times baby-sit his autistic brother, David. See, the problem with making friends for Catherine is mainly because of her brother. She is having a hard time fitting in with her classmates because of David's behavior. So she made this make-up rules to help get through life. Things that Catherine believed other people must figure out for themselves.

Simple things such as learning to knock on the bathroom door especially if Catherine has friends over, learning to keep his pants on and leaving toys on the aquarium. When a neighbor and prospective friend moved in next door, Catherine is hopeful that they will become good friends. But she was embarassed to talk about David. It's a good book that tackles the often sensitive issue of autism and other handicapped people but Cynthia Lord made an awesome and sensitive story about it that is just right.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf

It was the title that first caught my attention. It was pretty catchy right? I'm far from being a middle school student but I only have great and not so great memories from my own experiences. When I opened it, I was surprised. It wasn't like any other ordinary books because instead of regular texts, the story is told through to-do lists, notes, instant messages and report cards! I think I'm gong to love Jennifer Holm more starting from now. She captured the very essence of middle school life.

The main character of the story is Ginny Davis who thinks that the worst thing she will face in middle school is the school meatloaf. Yes. As simple as that. Upon further reading I learned more about her and her family through IMs. I found out she likes ballet and hopes that her mother remarry, her older brother is described as a mess, making his family's life more miserable. This is really a wonderful book that should be read by every middle school student and those who've been through it. They will certainly relate to Ginny's experiences at one point.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs

This very book is everything that I have envisioned as a child. Food dropping from the sky like rain, isn't that wonderful? I often wonder what it would feel like walking on a peanut butter and jelly road. Slippery I guess. But hey, you don't have to worry about what you're going to eat and the hassles involving cooking because it'll simply just come down from the sky, regularly.

Such is the odd case in the town of Chewandswallow. Weather comes regularly in the form of food and beverages. It rains of soup and juice, snows are made up of mashed potatoes and blowing storms of hamburgers. Surely, people are served with different meals three times a day. But what would happen if giant pancakes falls down from the sky and it begins raining ketchup? Or if Chendswallow got covered with peanut butter and mayonaisse? These weather change had pushed the people to abandon their homes and with huge sandwiches as their boats, they searched for a new town that is normal and unlike the one they left behind. This has got to be one of those books on top of my list. What a gem!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Bear Called Paddington

Nearly everyone I knew grew up with a Padding ton Bear book in their shelf or lying somewhere in the attic. He is such a classic character that every kids are sure to love him, a well-meaning bear that just cannot help getting into a mess. Like Paddington Bear, I'm also clumsy that's why I love him so much. Written in 1958 by author Michael Bond, he was a bear that came from Peru and was picked up by the Brown family in Paddington Station while sitting on their suitcase with a tag that says "Please look after this bear".

The Browns took him and named him after the station where thay found him and becomes part of the family. It was followed by more adventures with the family and Paddington's stories of overcoming situations that involve his clumsiness. This classic book is perfect for young readers because of the simple pictures that makes the reader and listener giggle and smile. Someday, I will also read this to my future kids the way my parents read it to me dutifully when I was a kid.

Friday, January 18, 2008

How To Be Lost

A family torn apart by the disappearance of the youngest child. How do you recover from that? The Winter family was not an exceptional family even though behind their home a small expanse of wooded land can be located, the kids attend an excellent school and the three sisters are all adorable and energetic. Mr. Winter though is a mean drunk who causes great fear upon his children, leting them think of running away. That was when 5-year-old Ellie disappeared. Mr. Winter drank himself to death, depressed Mrs. Winter got obsessed with her annual festivities with her two remaining daughters, Caroline became a hard-drinking bartender and Madeline growing apart from her sister.

Fifteen years after that tragedy, Caroline heads out to Montana after seeing a photo in People magazine of a woman in a rodeo that closely resembles Ellie or what Ellie would have looked like as a 20-year-old woman. I say this book is a perfect companion while on a vacation, an easy and steady read that you couldn't put down if you want to. Because I didn't.