The Rundown- September ’16

4115psz4mgl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Boyproof by Cecil Castellucci (new read)

This one was completely new to the point that I never even heard of it before this list came out. It didn’t take long to see why.

Boyproof is the story of Egg, a science fiction obsessed misfit who has little room in her life for boys, or anybody for that matter. She takes her name from the lead character of her favorite movie, Terminal Earth, and dresses as closely to her as she can get away with. One day, she meets a guy named Max and starts to wonder if all of her thinking has been wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, I thought this book was fun to read. It was written in a diary format, so all the events were in easily digestable chunks. It was also set in Los Angeles, where both of Egg’s parents were in the movie industry. That led to frequent pop culture references and talk about their work, which I loved, of course!

However, this book was SO predictable. You can probably already tell from my brief synopsis what’s going to happen. For better or worse, it’s worth noting.

VERDICT: Cute book, but I have no idea what it’s doing on a “Best of” list.

 

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (reread) 

rollofthunder1This is a book I remember liking as a young girl, but I mostly remembered the sentiment and overall theme, not much about the plot.

Upon reading this as an adult, I LOVED it. I wish that every person in America would stop what they are doing right now and read it. That is not an exaggeration. The point of view represented in this story is so needed right now and would give many people insight into what they still don’t seem to understand.

The story is told from the point of view of Cassie Logan, a 9 year old black girl living in Mississippi in the early 1930’s. She lives with her parents, three brothers, and grandmother. We see the Logan family in their day to day life– the challenges they face at school, at home, even in their attempts to buy things that are required to live.

As I saw someone mention online, we read and hear lots about slavery, and the civil rights movement, but we don’t always study much about the in between. This story enlightens much of that era, and it’s not always pretty.

VERDICT:  I can say, without hesitation, that this book should be included on the list. I even venture to say it should be considered in the top ten. The important subject matter, little heard point of view, and well written prose all warrant its inclusion.

**I couldn’t let the Logan family go after just one book. I also reread the two novels that succeed this one: Let the Circle Be Unbroken and The Road to Memphis. I was able to reread my own 20+ year old copy of the latter. By the end, Cassie is a 17 year old young woman, and it’s amazing to read the transformation. The saga is alternately heartbreaking and uplifting, and I’m so glad I was able to reread these with fresh eyes.

 

September ’15 Update – Ashley

So… the title of my post may be a bit confusing.  September Update?  Isn’t it currently November?  Yes, yes it is.  Fear not, I know what month it is and, no, I don’t plan on skipping October either.  Truth be told, these books were both read all the way back in September… I just haven’t had the time to do the blog post until now!  On a related note, look for an October post coming in the very near future…

* Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (reread) – I couldn’t even tell you, with any accuracy, how many times I have read this book in my lifetime.  Let’s just say that my copy is “well-loved.”  I absolutely adore Roald Dahl and every book/story he’s ever written.  This was definitely a reread that I was looking forward to and enjoyed thoroughly!

0140328696Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the story of young Charlie Bucket, who along with four other youngsters, wins the prize of a lifetime – the opportunity to tour the famous (and mysterious) chocolate factory in town!  The owner of the factory, Willy Wonka, is equally as famous and mysterious and has plenty of surprises in store as he opens his doors, which have been sealed shut for so long.  The characters in this story are rich with details and really come to life on the page.  Charlie is a boy that most of us can relate to, and one with whom we can all empathize. He is poor in a way that most people can’t even begin to imagine, but with a family system that is far richer than many will ever know.  Hard-working parents who will sacrifice anything to care and provide for their loved ones, aging grandparents who are living life vicariously through their precious grandchild, and a young boy who, at such a young age, already has such a deep understanding of what’s really important in life – these are characters that we, as a reader, can really “get behind” and understand.  So, to read a story where the good guy (the really, really good guy) gets what he deserves is a beautiful thing.  Plus, who doesn’t fantasize about exploring a huge chocolate factory, not to mention one as magical as Willy Wonka’s???

My Take:  Without a doubt, this book is worthy of inclusion on this, and any other, list!  I think Roald Dahl’s style of writing is absolutely delicious (pun only slightly intended) and that this is a book that can be appreciated at any age.  The quality of the character depictions in and of itself is worthy of a book study at a higher level.  A must-read for children and young adults everywhere!

** Look here for Tiffany’s review of the same book. **

* The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander (new read) – Well, this is one of the first books that I purchased after Tiffany and I started this journey.  It seemed like exactly the kind of book that I would get into and I was really pumped that it was a series.  That was why I waited so long to start reading it – I wanted to make sure to have the time – ha! – to read more from the series if I liked the book as much as I thought I would…  I should not have worried so much.   : / 9780805080483

The Book of Three is the first book in the Chronicles of Prydain series.  It tells the story of Taran, who carries to not-so-prestigious title of Assistant Pig-Keeper.  When Hen Wen (the future-telling oracular pig he’s in charge of) runs away, Taran seeks to find him which sends him on a dangerous journey involving the ominous (and creepy!) “Horned King.”  Along the way, a motley crew of characters joins Taran on his quest, which seems to keep changing throughout the story.  The story concludes with a battle between good and evil, but (spoiler alert) the main character isn’t even awake for it!

My Take:  Ugh.  This was difficult for me to get through.  The character names alone were burdensome enough to make me want to put the book down.  I didn’t really care about any of the characters either, which is always a serious struggle when it comes to reading a book (or watching a TV series… ask Tiffany about Breaking Bad!)  I am so torn here.  I wanted so badly to like this book.  Even afterwards, I did additional research and found out that one of the subsequent books in this series was named a Newbery Honor book and the final book won the Newbery…  It appears that I am missing some appeal here, but no, in my opinion, I would not put this book on the all-time-best list.  😦