Schooled by Gordan Korman Book Review

Schooled by Gordon Korman

In the book, “Schooled” by Gordan Koman, a kid named Capricorn Anderson, Cap for short, was raised as a sixty’s hippie. Cap was pulled out of his remote world on Garland farm when his grandmother, Rain, broke her hip. Rain wasn’t his real grandmother, but she sure acted like it, and his real parents died when he was a kid, so it was just the two of them left at Garland farm. Cap has no idea about the real world and doesn’t know that some of the stuff he does is considered strange, like the tai chi he does every morning at school. Rain is headstrong, stubborn, and sometimes scary, but her heart was in the right place. This book is realistic fiction so it could happen but hasn’t yet and it has 208 pages of lovable, tender, and fascinating text. Ms. Donnelly was the social worker that took care of Cap for the two months when Rain was recovering and like Cap, grew up at Garland. Zach Powers was the athletic, Mr. Popular of Claverage Middle School, he was very self-centered, and mean to others. Hugh Winkleman was the biggest victim of Zach and Caps first friend at their school. He was originally going to be the eighth-grade president, which is a job given to the biggest loser to make their life miserable. Next is Naomi Erlanger who was in love with Zach, until she got to know him when they were pranking and torturing the new eighth grade president, Cap. Sophie Donnelly, Ms. Donnelly’s daughter, takes one look at Cap and decides that   he is a nuisance and that she would be crude to him. Eventually, though, they build up an indifferent relationship that’s not too bad and they’re on good terms. So, they are all the main characters and the book is narrated in each of their views. After Cap becomes eighth grade president, he decides to run things a little differently by being charitable and kind, so no matter what the others said or did to him it didn’t get under his skin. Almost everyone was against him, including Sophie, who has had it rough, with her father and his empty promises. One of them was a promise to go out driving with Sophie and Cap, being the hippie he is, offered to teach her since he had been taught to drive when he was a kid. Sophie was a new driver and whenever she messed up Cap was very understanding and didn’t get upset. She really learned a lot from that driving trip and that was the big turn in their relationship where they had a truce. Cap even engraved the bracelet Sophies father forgot to engrave and give back to her, Cap even let Mr. Donelly take credit for it. As stated before, Cap can drive, so when their bus driver has a heart attack, he steps in and drives him to the hospital. He did have to face the consequences for underage driving, but he saved a life and became popular at school for driving a school bus. Then, Cap taught Hugh how to tie die in the art room, but the art teacher catches them, and excuses them from class because she loves tie die. After that a bunch of other students also join the fun and tie die whatever they can find that they have that’s white. Then the Halloween dance is coming up and Cap must plan it and is given checks which he doesn’t know how to use or how they work, so he donates a lot of money to charity. This is when Naomi falls in love with him and Hugh starts ignoring him because he becomes popular. Zach is also not enjoying this, so he and Hugh put together a plan to put Cap in a “predicament” per say. At their pep rally they told him he had to wear the other team’s uniform because he was the eighth-grade president, but when he went onto the field, he was trampled by all the jocks. Later a friend of Caps finds out who caused this event and tries to punch Zach, but Cap steps in and saves Zach. Everyone sees him being taken away in an ambulance, but he was really just going back to Garland with Rain, who was waiting for him inside of the ambulance. Then the whole school is worried about Cap while Hugh and Zach try to make their reputations better by holding a ceremony for the greatest eighth-grade president. In the end, it looked like they were mourning Caps death, who was completely fine at Garland. Then Cap shows up thinking it was the Halloween dance tells everyone he’s okay and moving back to Garland. When he says “good-bye” to everyone he literally memorized everyone’s name and matched it to a face, so he said “good-bye” to everyone individually. Overall, Rain sold Garland and moved back to the real world with Cap, so he could go back to Claverage Middle School. 

This book was amazing and very heartwarming because it shows how people only need one encouraging person to change. It’s all about how a kid follows what his heart tells him and in the process changes others to follow his lead in being kind to others and sharing their feelings. “Schooled” has a lot of great characters, but I feel like I can relate to Ms. Donelly the most because I just want the best for everyone, but I always end up in the kind of situation she was in with Cap and Sophie. This book was written in many different points of view of everything that happened and there are very contrasting opinions. Cap usually doesn’t understand that what he’s doing is amazing and cool, but the others sure do and never hesitate to share their thoughts. I admire this style of writing because it is the same style as the second “Percy Jackson” series, which I love and grew up with, so in some ways it takes me back. This style is not commonly used as far as I know, but it’s interesting because the reader gets opinions, stories, memories and other pieces of their life from all the characters. Since this is such an engrossing book, I would recommend this book to my friends and family because it sends a message to the reader that nobody is alone and being kind can make a huge difference in your life and the lives you touch. Overall, “Schooled” was a good book that is relatable and makes the reader stop and slow down to enjoy life in this rushed world.

Book Review of Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a funny, warmhearted, and honest contemporary novel about growing up and coming into your own. Simon, the title character, is your average high school junior. His family is lovably quirky, he loves his friends, and he’s a part of the school musical. His life seems to be going pretty well, especially since he started talking to Blue.

They’ve never met in person, but Simon and Blue have quickly developed a deep friendship over emailing each other night and day. They tell each other everything – except, of course, their identities. They know they go to the same school, but there’s a problem – no one knows Blue is gay. For that matter, no one knows Simon is gay, either. And there’s something about connecting a familiar face to the name that scares Blue. So Simon is happy to keep their relationship a secret for Blue’s sake. But due to a simple mistake, class-clown Martin discovers Simon’s secret emails with Blue, throwing a wrench into Simon’s life as he struggles to balance protecting his budding relationship with Blue and navigating discord between his friends, all the while trying to figure out what staying true to himself actually means.

This book is told in first-person from Simon’s perspective and is interspersed with emails between him and Blue. Simon’s voice is unique and often amusing, making the novel fly by as it follows Simon in the weeks where his relationships with Blue, his friends and family, and himself come to a head. It’s a really interesting read as well as a thoroughly enjoyable one, and I would gladly recommend it to anyone who’s fond of contemporary YA literature and romantic realistic fiction.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is told in a very real way in that it juggles several different components of what’s going on in Simon’s life, which is sometimes unique for a YA novel. By that I mean that the main focus of the book – Simon’s feelings for Blue – isn’t the sole focus of the book, and by extension, isn’t the sole focus of what goes on in Simon’s head (though of course, Blue is always big part of what he thinks about). Like every high school student, he’s got other stuff going on – like the school musical, a piece of the book that I really liked. We get to see Simon interact with his family and friends a lot and explore what they mean to him, and all of them are unique in their own ways. Something I really liked about the book was how Simon described those around him – it’s really written like the reader is living inside Simon’s head, and his observations of what’s going on and how he feels about the other characters are fun to read.

In closing, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a wonderful book that captures the experience of growing up in a very real as well as sweet and amusing way. Simon was very easy to root for as he went through the changes and conflicts that life threw at him, and this book was a pleasure to read.

The Wicked Deep, by Shea Ernshaw

 

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

The Wicked Deep, written by Shea Ernshaw, is a story set in Sparrow, Oregon, where each summer the spirits of the Swan sisters possess three girls. Tourists swarm the town for the Swan festival in the hopes of spotting a Swan sister, who drown at least one boy each year.

The story had a unique premise that interested me from the beginning. A magical twist on the real world is always exciting and it could be compared to other myth-related festivals around the country such as the Mothman festival in Ohio. One of the issues I had with the book was that despite knowing at least one boy died each year during this festival, everyone got excited and continued to celebrate. Surely people would learn to fear it and wonder why this week brought so many deaths.

The atmosphere of the book was perfect for fall; dark and chilling. This stayed throughout the book and made it a much more enjoyable read. It was also very fast-paced, which made it easier to get through. Unfortunately, the twist in this book was very predictable, but I’m not sure there was anything the author really could have done to make it less predictable considering the plot of the story. The fear the characters had of the lake was palpable and easily made me feel tense as they traveled over it or fell in.

A glaring issue in this book was the romance. Being set over just a week, Penny and Bo were convinced they were in love without knowing anything about each other. They kept huge secrets from each other and had no chemistry. Bo was extremely obsessed with revenging his brother by killing the person who did it and could not be deterred from this idea, which should have concerned Penny as this isn’t a normal or healthy thing to want to do. Their relationship could have been good if they had months to develop but the relationship built on secrets just wasn’t convincing.

Penny was a weak lead in my opinion, and the twist made her seem even less developed because we only had a few chapters with the real Penny. It would have worked better if the readers had been able to slowly see a change in her behavior to hint at her possession without being told this upfront. That way even though the reader knew Penny would probably be possessed from the beginning, Ernshaw could add tension as the readers would know something the other characters don’t.

A lot of the book focused on flashbacks to the Swan sisters before they were drowned for witchcraft, but I wished that those parts were longer so we could understand them more and feel bad for them. But for the most part, those chapters were enjoyable.

Hazel was an infuriating character and I didn’t feel bad for her for even one moment. Bo continued to be attracted to her knowing that she was possessing Penny’s body, which was gross, as it was without Penny’s consent the whole time. Hazel’s only good action was leaving Penny with some memories of Bo so she wouldn’t be completely confused with everything that happened that week. I also wished more time had been spent exploring why the tourists like to go to Sparrow and what the festivities looked like.

Overall, I enjoyed the atmosphere of the book immensely and will be looking to read future books from Ernshaw despite not quite loving this one. The Wicked Deep earns 6/10 dragons.

Crush By: Svetlana Chmakova

Crush by Svetlana Chmakova

* 2019-2020 BOB book*

Jorge is a bigger than your average middle schooler. Although he’s big, he uses that as an advantage to look out for the other underdogs.

He’s got two best friends: Olivia and Garrett. They’re the hallway patrols, and James, the starting quarterback and honors student, calls him Sheriff.
Not that Jorge likes it. (Jorge tries to steer clear of James and his football group)

There’s also Jazmine and Brooke. They’re like the lions of the school. Jazmine’s dating Zeke, and Brooke . . . has her ideas.

But Berrybrook Middle School has its occasions, and that’s when friendships are tested.

Garrett just wants to be a part of the football team, he kind of forgets that Jorge and Olivia want him to be with them too.

Jorge is so caught up in his feelings, he doesn’t know how to act.
After all, middle school crushes and dating is stupid . . . right?

And Olivia, going with her annoying boyfriend Marcus, is getting upset with Garrett and worrying about a thousand other things. She’s got her girl friends to talk to, Jorge to give advice to, and Garrett to yell at.

When Jorge meets Jazmine, he gets tongue-tied and his mind goes blank. He tries to convince himself that it’s nothing, but he knows, deep down, that he likes Jazmine.

The twisty hallways of Berrybrook Middle can’t control them now, or can it?

I rate this book a 10/10. I am emotionally attached to this book and have already read it 4 times.

It’s a graphic novel, so you can read it easier than novels.
I would recommend this book to anyone. It’s an easy read with a lot of deeper meanings behind it. I loved this so much.

I hope everyone enjoys this book as much (or more!) as I do. Read on and Enjoy!

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by: Jonathan Auxier

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier

*2019-2020 Battle of the Books book*

Nan Sparrow had been a chimney sweep for her entire life. Well, as long as she could remember, at least.
She’s 11 years old, and she’s known hard work, thankless, brutal, and dangerous work all her life.

She works for the Clean Sweep, also known as Wilkie Crudd. He’s mean, but other owners are known to be meaner. She’s just glad that her friends are with her, along with her hat and a piece of charcoal, all from her favorite Sweep.

With wits and will, she’s managed to beat the odds every time. Everything changes when Newt arrives, however.

Newt is a young boy who is newly orphaned. He’s come to the Clean Sweep for a job, which he gets. But when Nan gets stuck in a chimney, Roger, a mean boy, uses the Devil’s Nudge on her.

It ends really badly, as he drops down a match of fire. The chimney burns, Nan along with it.

When she wakes up, she finds herself in an attic with a thing in the corner.

A few days later, she knows a few things.
1. Wilkie and everyone else thinks she’s dead
2. The thing is a soot golem
3. She has absolutely no idea what to do next

The story centers on friendship, love, courage, magic. Nan finds out she can change others around her if she has just a touch of magic.
I loved this book so much, and I think you will too.

I give this book a 10/10 because . . . just because. You’ll see what I mean. I cried at two parts of the book, so some tissues might come in handy.
(I’m emotionally attached to this book) SOOOO ENJOY!

Review of “To Kill a Mockingbird”, by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird is a highly rated novel, recommended to children and adults alike. It is about a young girl named Jean Louise “Scout” Finch growing up in Maycomb, Alabama around the time of the Great Depression. Scout goes on escapades with her two friends; her brother, Jeremy “Jem” Finch, and a boy named Charles “Dill” Baker Harris in search for a somewhat mythical man named Arthur “Boo” Radley. Her father, Atticus, is a lawyer for an African American man named Tom Robinson, and some people in Scout’s town do not like it; they insult her, Jem, and Atticus. Scout lives in a constant struggle of people expecting her to be a lady, but she is a tomboy. To Kill a Mockingbird is supposedly a powerful, meaningful book, yet I strongly disliked it. Why?

  • Reason #1: It was racist.

I get that it was 1930s Alabama, but Harper Lee could at least not have included the n word in the text. I personally do not feel comfortable reading foul language, and the complete overuse of curse words was unecessary. The way that people talked about African Americans was angering.

  • Reason #2: It did not have a likable main character.

Scout is a naive seven year old who has a dirty mouth and doesn’t know what she’s doing. The only sane one, I felt, was Atticus, who was unprejudiced, kind, and intelligent.

  • Reason #3: It is very dense.

To Kill a Mockingbird is 281 pages long with tiny font and little spacing. Even when I had read a large section, it still seemed that I’d barely read anything.

  • Reason #4: It didn’t make sense.

Not only was the entirety of the novel in Southern dialect, but the language was very obscure and hard to understand.

  • Reason #5: It seems too good to be true.

I feel like the deepness of this novel was a “happy accident” and that Harper Lee didn’t intend for it to have any special meaning. It’s really just several years in life for a kid, nothing more. I believe this because Lee’s prequel, Go Set a Watchman, apparently lacked the same heartfelt sense.

So, just to recap: To Kill a Mockingbird is nonsensical, racist, and dense. I don’t recommend this novel to anyone except students required to read it for school.

Ages: 15 and older. It has many mature themes.

Rating: 1/5 stars.


I apologize if I offended anyone reading this post. I know MANY people who disagreed with me on the book. This is just my opinion on To Kill a Mockingbird.

–The_Writing_Clarinetist

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Ersatz Elevator

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Ersatz Elevator

Violet, Klaus, and Sunny have managed to escape Count Olaf’s clutches once again! Hooray! But the victory is short lasting once Mr. Poe whisks them off to be under the care of Jerome and Esme Squalor.

Jerome and Esme Squalor are very rich and the siblings start to live in the spacious penthouse where thousands of rooms are housed. They penthouse is part of an apartment, and when you have to walk about hundreds of flights of stairs in the dark (because dark is “in” and light is “out”), you stop going outside too much. Therefore, it gives the Baudelaire siblings plenty of time to think about multiple things: where Duncan and Isadora are, where Count Olaf is, and if Jerome and Esme can be trusted.

Jerome is the nicer one of the two; Esme only adopted the orphans because they were “in.” Jerome focuses on the orphan’s comfort even though he is a little bit of a coward, and Esme only focuses on what’s “in” and what’s “out.” She only wants to be popular!

When the siblings meet Gunther, they are aghast at who they see. Guess who! If you guessed Count Olaf, you are correct.

However, a few days after they meet Gunther, he mysteriously disappears, and in time for the auction!

What happens is up to you, meaning, if you don’t read the book, you won’t know but if you do, you will.
I rate this book a 8/10 because I like the plot twist in the near end. However, this book was a little boring, so I was a little disappointed. I feel like this book is the catalyst for all the other books, so I can only say one thing before I sign off . . . Enjoy!