Book Review #36 (The Red Umbrella)

Book: The Red Umbrella

Author: Christina Diaz Gonzalez

Genre: Historical Fiction

Page Count: 284

Lucía Álvarez is fleeing Cuba with her brother, (because of the communist revolution) leaving her parents, schoolmates, and best friend behind. She doesn’t know when she’ll be back, only that it will be soon. And even that assurance is beginning to fade.

This book was very interesting and I learned a lot about what it was like for people living in Cuba, and people who escaped to the U.S. However, it didn’t have much of a storyline and was a little boring, which is not what I want from a novel such as this.

The end of the book seemed to be too perfect. It had too much of a Happily Ever After, without a full explanation as to how it got there. It also didn’t to give any hints whatsoever as to what might come next for the main characters.

If you like historical fiction books that teach more than entertain, you should read this book.

Book Review #35 (Romeo and Juliet)

Book: Romeo and Juliet

3-out-of-5-stars – Py Korry Romeo and Juliet (Simply Shakespeare) (9780764120855):  Shakespeare, William: Books

Author: William Shakespeare

Genre: Theatre

Page Count: ???

The only other Shakespeare I’ve read is The Tempest, and in comparison, I thought this read a lot smoother. I knew what was going on (most of the time) and the storyline was simply better.

Romeo + Juliet - Wikipedia

Although it was entertaining, people made a lot of stupid choices I don’t think they would ever make in real life. Not just the famous deaths (all of them), but many of the decisions that led there. One primary example is Friar Lawrence; He thought it was a good idea to have Juliet fake her death, and then try to tell Romeo the plan by mail instead of telling him in person. :/

In addition to reading Romeo and Juliet, I also watched two different renditions of the tale: Romeo+Juliet, and West Side Story. They were both very good, but I enjoyed West Side Story more. Another additional side-project was reading Romeo and/or Juliet, by Ryan North. This is a choose your own adventure book. The only thing that I’ve read by Ryan North is the Squirrel Girl Comics (awesome btw) so this was vastly different. It was a lot of fun.

Book Review #34 (The Green Glass Sea)

Book: The Green Glass Sea

Author: Ellen Klages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Page Count: 324

Dewey Kerrigan is moving to where her father is working: Los Alamos, New Mexico. Suze Gordon lives with her mother and father in a temporary town in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Her parents are rarely home and her life is anything but normal. But when the two girls meet, the world turned upside down once again.

While the main character of this book was probably Dewey, I felt like it was just as much Suze’s book. It was really interesting to see the two girls sort of grow around one another like a spiral slowly growing closer.

This book was about the Manhattan Project, but it was really about the hidden city and the people who lived there, not the project itself. It was really interesting to learn about what life was like for them, especially from the perspectives of two children.

I really liked this book and you should read it!!!

Book Review #33 (Weedflower)

Book: Weedflower

Author: Cynthia Kadohata

Genre: Historical Fiction

Page Count: 273

Sumiko’s family make their living growing stock or “weedflowers”. But when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, she finds out that they won’t ever return to their farm, and her life will never be the same. They are shipped off to an internment camp in the middle of the desert, where she will make unexpected friends, enemies, and unforgettable memories.

As you can probably tell from the previous paragraph, this book is about WWII. I’ve never read a book about the internment camps before, and I think this one was a good start. The plot wasn’t too intense, leaving room for you to focus on the history, while not letting the story grow boring. The characters were intriguing and lifelike.

A heavy theme in this book was looking forwards and never giving up hope. It was very interesting to see how different characters reacted to the camps. Some really believed it was for their protection (or at least were trying to convince themselves), some got angry, some were sad, some adjusted quickly, and some never adjusted at all.

I would recommend this book.

Book Review #32 (The Tempest)

Book: The Tempest

Author: William Shakespeare

Genre: Theater

Page Count:

So. Shakespeare. If I were to sum this up in one word it would be: confusing. Which, I suppose, could describe most of Shakespeare’s work. It didn’t really seem to have an ending, though I may have missed it. (Not sure how that’s possible though). The ending seemed to be: The boat is fixed, Prospero forgave Antonio, and Miranda is in love with Ferdinand. It seemed to be fractured and incomplete.

Miranda’s love with Ferdinand also seems to be screwed. It seemed that (maybe?) it was actually the result of one of Prospero’s spell. Even if it wasn’t they just met and seem completely and utterly in love with each other.

The characters also seem prone to monologuing and explaining just what is happening around them in a very non-discreet way.

I found it was easier to understand while reading aloud, but I didn’t do that the entire time, so quite a few things slipped passed me. If I were to read it more carefully, I may have had more positive things to say about it.

Book Review #31 (Grenade)

Book: Grenade

Author: Alan Gratz

Genre: Historical Fiction

Page Count: 228

Hideki is part of the Blood and Iron student corps. Rey is an US marine. Hideki is told to kill as many American soldiers as he can. Rey is on an enemy island, with ambushes everywhere. Neither of them know what might happen.

This book was about the Battle of Okinawa. I though it was very interesting to have two very similar perspectives of young soldiers, but with the crucial difference of which side of the battle they were on. One thing I noticed was that both of them believed that the other side were essentially monsters.

There were a few things that seemed unnecessary and could have been left out of the book, as they served no real purpose. One example of this was one of the flashbacks in which Hideki’s sister visits a family with him.

Overall, this book was good if you like slightly rambling stories about terrible things.

Book Review #30 (The Wednesday Wars)

Book: The Wednesday Wars

Author: Gary D. Schmidt

Genre: Historical Fiction

Page Count: 276

Holling Hoodhood is the only kid in his class who doesn’t go to religious school on Wednesday afternoons. As a result, he is the only kid left in the classroom with his teacher, Ms. Baker, who Hates. His. Guts. On these Wednesday afternoons she makes him read Shakespeare.

This book was very good. I thought that it was very funny, though that was not the main point of the book. I also thought it did a good job of describing the relationships between classmates.

One thing I didn’t like abut this book was that at a few points in the story it felt like it was a little slow, and not much was happening.

This book takes place during the Cold War. We got to see what it was like during that time. An example of this is how stupid the “Atomic Bomb Drills” were. I mean, there’s not much you can do if an atomic bomb drops.

If you like books about strange middle schoolers, you should read this book.