Archive for February, 2014

23
Feb
14

Bunnybean’s #CBR6 Review 2: A Haunting in Williamsburg by Lou Kassem

511WICGRmcL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_In school, my teacher just read this book to us. Its about a girl named Jayne, who just moved from California to Williamsburg, Virginia. Her parents work for the government and have to move around a lot, which is hard for Jayne.

Her parents have to go away for the whole summer, so Jayne goes to live with aunt Liz. Aunt Liz works at a hospital, and she DOESNT believe in ghosts.

Jayne meets a real ghost inside Aunt Liz’s house, who was part of her family during the Revolutionary War. The ghost’s name is Sally, and she and Jayne have a lot in common. Sally tells Jayne about their family history: Her brother, Jeremiah, was a spy for the colonies. He had a special silver coin to prove that he was a spy. Sally was hoping to marry Colin, but Colin lived far away, in British territory. Jeremiah went to Colin’s house, and Colin gave him a ring and a love letter for Sally, asking her to meet him in Baltimore so that they could be together. But for Colin to get to Baltimore, he would need a silver coin like Jeremiah’s, and he didn’t have one. Jeremiah gives Colin his coin and heads home to Sally. Jeremiah is stopped by American soldiers, who think he is British because he doesn’t have his coin, and they shoot him dead. So Sally never got to Baltimore and Colin never got to marry her.

Later in the book, Jayne meets one of Colin’s descendants, a man named Dr. McNeil. Jayne finds Colin’s original letter and ring, and offers it to Dr. McNeil for his family history, but Dr. McNeil tells her to give them to Sally, instead.

Jayne gives the letter and ring to Sally, which makes Sally happy and makes her feel complete. She won’t have any need to haunt anymore.

This was a pretty good book. I enjoyed the way my teacher read it, and probably wouldn’t have liked it as much if I had read it on my own. We live in Virginia and we are studying colonial history, so that part was interesting.

 

23
Feb
14

Joemyjoe’s #CBR6 Review 1: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

WestingGame6Last week, we drove to New York and we listened to the CD of The Westing Game in the car.

The Westing Game is about 16 people who are brought together because they are all mentioned as heirs in a very rich businessman’s (Samuel Westing) will. And they can only inherit his fortune of $200,000,000 if they can solve the mystery of his murder.

The heirs are paired together and given a set of clues and $10,000 to help them solve the mystery. The clues were pretty tough and didn’t make a lot of sense at first, as we see more information, it becomes a little bit easier to figure out.

The book is really exciting. We don’t know who the murderer is or who will solve the mystery until the very end. There is a lot of action: bombs go off, people are poisoned, and some people even die. Some characters lie, not many are telling the truth, so there are a lot of twists and turns in the story. At different parts of the story, I thought different people had murdered Mr. Westing, and I kept changing my mind.

My favorite character was Otis, the delivery boy. Or was he really a delivery boy????????

I loved this book, everybody should read it. It is a good mystery.

20
Feb
14

Scootsa1000’s #CBR6 Review 8: This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Unknown-4For the past 5 of 6 months, I’ve been juggling two different book clubs. The first one, the one I’ve been in for years, was starting to get on my nerves. Not the people so much as the book choices. They just weren’t for me. I’m not a Twilight Mom and I’m not an Oprah addict, so there wasn’t much there for me. And I found myself a second, more “me” club. But even if I didn’t read the chosen books for the original club, I still liked to go and hang out. And at our last meeting, they mentioned that the new book was HILARIOUS and SEDARIS-LIKE, which piqued my interest.

And then they told me that it was being made into a movie with Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jean Ralphio, and Connie Britton (and her magnificent hair). And when they said Timothy Olyphant was in it, I was sold. I was excited for the first time in a while about a Book Club Book.

And for the first half of the book, I was as excited as the rest of my friends. I laughed out loud a few times. I enjoyed picturing various actors in my head, playing out the scenes I had just read. And, you know, Olyphant.

The book is about 4 adult children who come home for the funeral of their father. The siblings haven’t seen much of each other recently, and aren’t really an emotionally open group, so there are lots of sarcastic barbs and funny comments to mask their grief. They are told by their mother and their rabbi that their dad wanted them to sit shiva, so they find themselves stuck together in their childhood home for the first time in ages for an entire week.

Our main character is Judd. Judd has recently split from his wife, the beautiful Jen, who was cheating on him with his boss, a Howard Stern-esque DJ. The story is told from Judd’s perspective, as he interacts with his sister, two brothers, and their various spouses, children, and girlfriends. He also spends time with his next door neighbor (the brain damaged Horry), his high school girlfriend, and various other friends and relatives he hasn’t seen in a while.

They all have their problems. Judd’s sister Wendy is in a loveless marriage and has three young children she can’t control. She was Horry’s high school girlfriend, and Horry will never get over her. Judd’s younger brother Phillip is a bit of a mess — always changing jobs, sleeping his way through the NYC female population, and getting in trouble with the law constantly. He brings his new, much older girlfriend to the funeral, trying to prove that he’s growing up finally. Judd’s older brother, Paul, holds a huge grudge against Judd because of something that happened in high school. And, by the way, Paul is married to Judd’s ex girlfriend, which leads to a few very awkward scenes in the book. And then there’s Hillary, their mother. Hillary is a famous child psychologist, who has written some of the most popular child rearing books ever. She also loves plastic surgery and inappropriate outfits, and she just might have something important to tell her children while they are all gathered together.

I liked how the book used humor to deal with serious situations: infidelity, infertility, grief, sexuality, religion, and faith.

But then, about halfway through the book, I got really tired of the humor and the sarcasm. I really just wanted someone in the book to step up and deal with an adult situation like an actual adult, and not laugh it off or ignore it. And by the end, when actual small steps were made in the right direction for some of the characters, it was too late for me, I just didn’t care anymore.

I know Tropper is a fairly popular writer with a few other novels under his belt, I’m just not sure I’ll bother to read them if they are the same “humorous” style. But I’ll still see the movie.

 

10
Feb
14

Scootsa1000’s #CBR6 Review 7: Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Unknown-2You know how after you read a really great book, you just can’t stop thinking about it? You go over the details and characters and plot developments in your head over and over, lots of times wishing there was more to read about this wonderful world the author created. You know that feeling?

I didn’t have that when I read this book. In fact, its barely been a week since I finished it, and I’m having trouble remembering exactly what this book was all about.

Many Cannonballers are familiar with Gayle Forman’s “she said/he said” pair of books, If I Stay and Where She Went — two books that tell pretty much the same story from different points of view. If I Stay was lovely. Where She Went was less so, but I still liked it, and thought it was an interesting approach to storytelling.

Last year, Forman came out with Just One Day, telling the story about quiet Allyson, who meets flashy Willem while on holiday in Europe. They spend 24 hours together in Paris, and it changes everything for Allyson. Just One Year is its companion piece — the same story told from the perspective of Willem and how his encounter with Allyson changed him as well.

The reason I don’t think this pairing worked quite as well is simple: I just didn’t really like Willem that much. Where She Went was a greater success because Adam was a strong, interesting character that we all felt an incredible amount of sympathy for. Willem? Not so much. A womanizer who travels constantly in order to avoid family and financial obligations? No thanks.

Forman’s descriptions of the various destinations on Willem’s travels were the greatest part of the book: Mexico, Paris, Mumbai, and Amsterdam were all brought to life on the page. Sadly, I couldn’t really say the same for the characters or the plot.

 




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