Bud Not Buddy Book Review

Cover of Bud, Not Buddy

Buddy Caldwell is a 10 year old orphan who lives in Michigan and he likes to be called Bud not Buddy. When Bud has to move from his beaten down orphanage that he has called home his whole life and move in with a foster care family, he finds himself in a worse situation than he was in at the orphanage.

After his mom died, he was placed in the orphanage and was only left with a few documents and photos to guide him to find his father.

Bud Not Buddy is a heart jerking, roller-coaster of a book that takes place during the Great Depression making things a whole lot harder for Bud.

Overall Bud Not Buddy is a 10/10 and a must read for teen-agers to learn more about what life is like for people who are not like them. I mean the book won a Gold Medal for a reason.

Under a Painted Sky Book review

Image is cover of the book, Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee.

Under a Painted Sky written by Stacy Lee takes place in 1849, and follows a Chinese girl named Samantha Young on her journey west on the Oregon Trail, to California to start a new life. Along the way she meets allies and enemies. Will she be able to make it safely? Read Under a Painted Sky by Stacy Lee to find out. Below is a short summary of the first few chapters.

 In 1849 in St. Joe, Missouri there lived a Chinese girl and her father. The girl’s name was Samantha Young and she liked to play the violin. She wants to become a professional musician, but she has to move to California because her father says he has a wonderful plan for her out west. She gets mad at her father because he sold her mother’s bracelet-which was dear to her because her mother died when she was young-to get money to take her west, which she already opposed to. She leaves the house angry with her violin, Lady Tin-Yin on her back. 

Samantha walks back to her house. The air smells like smoke. Where is the smoke coming from, she thought? When she finally gets to her house, it is burning. There is a line of men pouring water onto the fire. Samantha asks, “Where is my father?”

“Your father is dead,” one of the men said, “Now MOVE!” Heartbroken Samantha stands in front of her house for hours until her landlord, Ty Yorkshire, comes and offers her a place to stay at his hotel.  

Samantha arrives at the hotel where she meets a slave named Annamae. She is taken to her room by Annamae where she takes a bath. She is so sad that she tries to drown herself. Annamae pulls Samantha up out of the water and tells her that she won’t be able to drown herself. Annamae leaves to go get clothes and food for Samantha.  

After Annamae leaves, Ty Yorkshire enters the room. He approaches her and tells her that she’ll be perfect for his prostitution business. Samantha is scared and tries to find a way to escape. He pushes her onto the bed; she grabs a wooden brush and hits him in the head twice before he loses his balance and hits his head on the bathtub, and starts bleeding a lot. 

Annamae comes in and finds Ty Yorkshire dead on the floor and Samantha with the wooden brush in her hands. She tells Samantha to help her move him onto the bed, and tells her to pull it together. Samantha tells Annamae that she is going to California.  

Annamae tells Samantha that she was going to California too. They disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy and head out to the river. They cross the river on someone’s wagon and start their journey on the Oregon Trail. They almost get caught by the Deputy, but narrowly escape.  

Andy and Sammy continue walking along the trail and come upon a bull snake that was acting like a rattle snake. Andy catches the bull snake and they make dinner with their catch. Three boys approach them and introduce themselves as Cay, West, and Peety. Sammy and Andy make a deal with the boys. Which was if Sammy could tame one of the boys’ horses, Princesa, they would give Sammy and Andy a ride to the Little Blue River. 

Sammy is able to tame the wild horse and secure the deal. Sammy and Andy are now riding with a group of boys. While keeping their identity a secret, Sammy falls for West. Will she be able keep up her boy act or will they get caught, and if they do will the boys be willing to protect them from the law? Read Under a Painted Sky to find out if Samantha makes it to her final destination safely.

August Lovelies ~Final~ Part 15

A vintage radio sits on a dark wood shelf, in front of a blue wall

It was the last week of this unforgettable summer, Dawn had asked Winnie to come with her to a peaceful protest against the war, his Uncle said it was ok.

The drive down was quiet. Mary-Kim, for once, was quiet. They were headed to the same place that the huge anti-war march had taken place, the one where thousands of men burnt their draft cards. But this protest was to be a much smaller scale.

Once there, the atmosphere felt less heavy and more hopeful. Throughout the night they began to loosen up with chants for peace. They also held posters on pickets- that appeared to be home made. Louise even sang at one point.

Mary-Kim with her outgoing nature easily got the crowd’s attention, “This war is wrong, and we don’t want it! Innocent men are dying! We need to choose peace and we need to be heard!”

She led the next chant, “Choose Peace! Choose Peace! Choose Peace! Choose Peace!” the group said repeatedly. She smiled but if you looked closely you could see tears running down her face, Dawn grabbed her hand and pumped her other fist to the chant. Louise and Spacer also grabbed hands while chanting…

Later that night, Dawn pulled Winnie away to a quiet park bench, where they could still hear chanting in the distance.

“You know, what you and your Uncle do is amazing?”

“Yeah, I’m proud to have been a part of it- even if it wasn’t very long”

They sat in silence for a bit.

“Winnie… we got a record deal”

“That’s Awesome! I knew you’d make it”

“Yeah the gigs kept rolling in, and then Spacer got approached one night by some big ol’ record deal guy- and we checked him out he’s the real deal- and he said he wanted to sign us”

They sit in silence again.

“Winnie we’re leaving tomorrow, driving south, we’ll be stayin’ in a motel in Hollywood”

“… yeah I thought that was coming, I have to back to college in a week any way”

“I’ll miss you” She said, teary eyed, “I won’t forget this summer”

“It’s okay, don’t cry, this is your dream, everyone’s gonna hear your music, and I’ve had a lovely time even if it was so short” he said with a smile.

December 1969

“Uncle Dave, Aunt Dolly!” Winnie says smiling.

“Heyyo Winnie!” Dave said, “Merry Christmas!”

“Merry Christmas- now what’s the skinny on the clinic?” Winnie asked.

“Oh it’s in good hands!” Dolly says.

“Yes and you’re graduating this year so if you wanna go full time…” Dave says.

Winnie laughs, “I’ll think about it”

With the holiday party bustling in the background Winnie was barely able to hear a very familiar voice- it was Louise, on the radio, he heard her all the time now.

The radio buzzed on amidst the Smith family chatter, “ladies and gentlemen what you just heard was the August Lovelies, ‘Peace for Christmas’, their holiday hit single- it just makes me want to run home and hug the kids, up next Fra-”

Winnie felt sad, though he wasn’t sure if it was because he missed his friends or if change was getting to him.

Either way, Jimi was right. The music would never sound the way it did that lovely summer night.


The Book Thief by Mark Zusak

My friend and I put this book on our reading lists, having been told it was a really good book. I honestly was kind of disappointed. It could be because the style of writing isn’t what I enjoy, and the plot of the story isn’t something that excites me.

This book is about a girl living with a foster family in Germany. It’s during World War II and you can read about many things such as book burnings and Hitler’s birthday. This story is mainly about the main character, Liesel. She steals books (hence the title) that are supposed to be burned or hidden. She reads them to herself, her papa and the people stuck in a basement during a bombing.

The family, for a long time, hides a Jew by the name of Max in their basement. This was really my favorite part of the book as I do enjoy his character and the excitement yet fright of their danger.

What I haven’t yet mentioned is that this book is told entirely in the perspective of the Grim Reaper. He watches Liesel, even takes her brother’s soul. Along with that particular fact, there are also many side stories going along with the main one. It is sometimes hard to keep up with that and the rather odd pacing The Book Thief sometimes has. It jumps around and will tell things in advance, hint at what happens and then never really explain what actually happens. Some of the side stories are interesting, especially the one’s about Papa and what he does.

Overall, I didn’t enjoy this book very much although I can see what the appeal is to some people, especially those more interested in historical fiction types of books. Myself being more interested in fantasy and fiction, I just didn’t find it very interesting!

    I’d give this book a 5.5/10

Salt to the Sea book review

The novel Salt to the Sea written by Ruta Sepetys and is a suspenseful historical fiction with 378 pages. The novel is told in the perspectives of four different teenagers, Joana, a Lithuanian girl, a nurse, evacuating East Prussia with a group of refugees. Emilia, a polish girl who is 15 and nine months pregnant. Florian, a Prussian who worked to restore famous pieces of art for the Nazis; he stole Hitler’s most prized treasure the amber swan from the Amber Room. Last is Alfred, a sailor serving Germany, who writes letters to Hannelore telling about all the “heroic” things he has done on the ship when he is really a coward. The story takes place in the winter of 1945 during WWII in East Prussia The four main characters cross paths on their way to freedom. Florian, Emilia, and Joana meet up on their way to the port at Gotenhafen to board the Wilhelm Gustloff. This is where they meet Alfred who helps them board the ship. Once on the Wilhelm Gustloff  and after the ship departs, it is struck by three torpedoes causing the ship to sink. Florian and Joana get on a lifeboat and to safety aboard a rescue boat, but Emilia and Alfred get on a lifeboat but aren’t rescued. In the attempt to “serve” Germany, Alfred tries to push Emilia off the boat because she is Polish, in his attempt to push her off he falls off and drowns. Emilia dies from hypothermia. Florian and Joana moved to America with Halinka, Klaus, and their child. Florian gets a letter saying Emilia rests peacefully.  

Salt to the Sea takes place during WWII during Operation Hannibal. The Wilhelm Gustloff, Amber Room, and Operation Hannibal were all real. Wilhelm Gustloff was a ship used in Operation Hannibal, a mass evacuation of Germans. It was the ship the characters find themselves on which really sunk when it was hit with three of the four torpedoes planned to hit it. It carried 10,000 passengers and 9,000 of them sadly passed away after the ship sunk. The Amber Room disappeared during the war. In the novel, Florian knows where the room is and stole Hitler’s prized amber swan in revenge for killing his dad. Ruta does a good job mixing facts with fiction. 

Beyond The Bright Sea Book Review

The cover for the book Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk shows the sea at sunset, with a boat silhouetted against the horizon.  There is also an award medal for the Scott O'Dell award for historical fiction.

Beyond the Bright Sea is a book about a girl named Crow, who’s discovering who she really is. The story takes place on the Elizabeth Islands, which are off the coast of Massachusetts. When Crow was just a newborn, she was tied to a little Skiff, wailing like there was no tomorrow, and washed up on shore, where a man she soon began to call “Osh” found her.

Growing up, the people closest to her were Osh and Miss Maggie, one of the only other islanders who cared for her. Crow never knew why, but all of the other islanders would avoid her, never coming in contact, and calling her a leper. Crow had become accustomed to this, but later on she really wanted to know the answers. Where was she really from? Who are her parents? Who is she really? These were just random questions to her, and she never really wanted to search for the answers. Up until the mysterious fire on one of the islands close to their own.

This is a great book for teens, or really for anyone. The story is unique and has so many twists and turns, you’ll want to finish the book as soon as you can. Also, the characters are lovable and you tend to feel sympathy for them. If you enjoy reading about adventure, this is a great book for you!

August Lovelies Part 14

Winnie was watching from backstage in awe. He was unaware of the world-renowned star, Jimi Hendrix who had begun to walk up behind him.

“Wow I was told they were good, but I didn’t think they were this good”

“Jiminey-cricket, umm. Err, Mr. Hendrix- it’s an honor-”

“Relax man” Jimi said with a laugh, “just enjoy the music, you may never hear these sounds like this again”

And so Winnie followed the world-renowned star’s instructions and closed his eyes soaking up  all the feelings.

After the song ended, with his eyes still closed, Winnie started- “So, err, Mr. Hendrix-” but Winnie opened his eyes to see he had already gone on stage.

Microphone in hand, the stylish and cool Jimi Hendrix says, “Thank you so very much for that warm welcome- everyone give it up for the August Lovelies one more time!”

The crowd roars and the band waves.

After coming off stage the air felt different, as though something new had just begun.

They all stand together in silence as Jimi starts his first song, “fire”

Spacer is the first to move, he holds out a hand to Louise, she takes it and they both start dancing.

Everyone else follows suit- dancing the night away to the rockin rhythms…

August Lovelies Part 13

An acoustic guitar is on a red and green carpet. The guitar is painted in bright colors.

Backstage Dawn was getting nervous. She had double checked her guitar and her brother’s banjo.

“Winnie, I’m a bit nervous, and no one around me has a joint- which is wild, considering where we are and-”

“It’s ok Dawn, you’re band plays the sound of the world coming to peace- if only just a minute- to dance, you’ll make them happy”

Dawn smiles and Spacer puts his hand on her shoulder, “let’s get drinks after this?”

“Yeah” she laughs, “thanks Winnie’

Winnie blushed and a man with a clipboard told them it was time to go on.

Mary-Kim glides on to stage with ease, this was the moment she was waiting for, this performance is for her dad.

Louise shakes a little out of nerves, it was her time to shine.

Matty comes to the realization that he loves these people, not just his sister, and wants to make everyone else love these people too.

Spacer is excited for his friends, especially Louise, and is just happy to be a part of something.

Dawn knows that this is the start of a dream come true and she wouldn’t want to share the dream with anyone else.

Mary-Kim grabs the microphone, “Hello my children of flowers, and welcome to the Summer of Love!”

The audience goes crazy.

Smiling she says, “we’re August Lovelies, and tonight we’re gonna show you what love is all about with an original tune we call “Rainbow Worries”

They start and they are amazing. Fun but emotional, hurt but hopeful, a mix of good practice and raw talent. The crowd was so into it and they were recycling that energy…

August Lovelies Part 12

A purple background with wisps of smoke

July 18th, 1967

“You sure you have to stay Uncle”

“Someone has to” David joked, “go have fun”

It was the day of the concert. Everyone was bubbling with excitement.Winnie met up with the band at the van and together they walked to the park where the events were taking place at. Massive crowds had already formed everywhere. They had a while before the performance so they all sought out for something fun to do. They fell into a crowd surrounding a middle-aged man who appeared to be handing out something.

“What is that?” Spacer asked.

“That right there is 100% real Purple Haze” a man with beaded hair said.

It was at this point that Winnie recognized the man, it was Augustus Stanley, the LSD enthusiast.

“Woah, what do we have here mama?” Stanley said to Dawn, “want a tab, want to experience pure magic for free”

“Umm” Dawn had never tried LSD before and was honestly a little scared, she looked back at Winnie- who did a little head shake ‘no’.

“I’ll pass, but thanks brother”


“Dawn, don’t be such a pansy- free you say?” Mary-Kim asked Stanley

“Mary-Kim don’t, not before our show” Matty said with a tone that said, “If you take that and screw anything up for my sister during our performance you will have hell to pay”

Maybe out of fear of Matty or maybe out of love for Louise Mary-Kim says, “Oh yeah, better not”

“Well I think that makes you all pretty lame, but enjoy yourselves tonight anyways kiddos” Stanley says, turning to the next bunch of eager teens.

“That was wise Mary-Kim, I’ve dealt with a lot of bad trips”

“Yeah and tonight lets get high off the music!” Louise said, who had just recently come out of her shell around Winnie…

August Lovelies Part 11

The cover for the Jimi Hendrix album Are You Experienced has a yellow background, neon pink letters, and a circle in the middle showing three gentlemen all wearing bright yellow

Winnie spent his time the next month either at the office or with the band. Sheriff Wisor did keep up his promise with the occasional unsuccessful drug bust, never finding anything. When August Lovelies got gigs in local restaurants he would bring his Uncle and Dolly. They quickly became a hit around town.

Come mid July there was to be another big music festival, with lots of big names and of course, drugs.

Before this, Dawn came to Winnie with big news.

“Morning Miss Dolly, is Winnie in?” Dawn asked bubbling with excitement.

“Yeah he might be upstairs still, but you can go- oh! There he is-” Winnie walked down the stairs to the waiting room looking tired. “- getting a late start today are we?” she joked.

“Good morning Dolly, and hey Dawn!”

Dawn jumped in for a hug, “Guess what Winnie!”

“What?” he laughed.

Dawn pulled away “the August Lovelies are opening for Jimi Hendrix this weekend!”

“Are you joshin me Dawn! That’s awesome!”

“I know I’m so excited, this could be our big break, ya know? Oh! And we all decided that you’re the guy we want to bring back stage with us!”

“Wow, thank you, umm, you guys will do amazing”

“You’re so sweet, listen I’m gonna go practice and calm down Louise, hang later?” Winnie nodded and kissed her cheek.

“Peace out” she said, practically skipping out of the clinic.

Winnie watched her go, then turned around, “You hear that Dolly, Jimi Hendrix!”…