Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate Dicamillo

Cover of Because of Winn Dixie

Opal Buloni and her preacher dad move to little ol’ Naomi, Florida from little ol’ Watley, Florida. Even though it’s a new place, ten-year-old Opal isn’t digging it. She misses her friends, her home, and her mother who left her when she was a little girl. Life is pretty rotten.

Enter Winn-Dixie, a mangy stray dog that Opal befriends as he ransacks a grocery store.The lovable mutt falls in love with Opal and the preacher, they fall in love with him, and voila! Opal’s summer suddenly takes a turn for the better.

Thanks to Winn-Dixie’s easygoing nature, he manages to introduce Opal to new friends in Naomi — the little old librarian, Miss Franny; the alleged witch, Gloria Dump, and the shy pet store worker, Otis. Opal spends each day swapping stories with these new friends, despite taunts from the neighborhood bully patrol.

As Opal’s brain gnaws on the stories, she learns that, like Bertie Botts Beans, what you see ain’t always what you get. She also aches for the loss of her mother, wishing she could have story time with her.

Things go on like this for a while, and then Opal and Gloria Dump plan a shindig. Opal invites everyone, including the bully patrol. Everything is going swimmingly until a storm comes and poof! freaks out Winn-Dixie, who is ridiculously afraid of thunderstorms. Poof again! Winn-Dixie disappears.

Opal and her dad search and search, coming up with nada. Then, as her dad tries to convince her to give up, Opal has a mother of a meltdown. Literally. It’s about her mother (you know, the whole “abandonment” thing). She and the preacher have a heart-to-heart. Opal realizes that her mom isn’t coming back, but she has a father who loves her, friends who love her, potential friends to love her, and she’ll be okay.

Plus, Winn-Dixie was hiding under the bed at the party the whole time. So Opal still has a mangy dog that loves her, too. But it’s not just that. She can love each and every one of them in return, for as long as they are in her life. It’s a happy, happy day in Opal’s world. Life lessons learned; warm fuzzies felt.

Review of K. A. Holt’s House Arrest

House Arrest is about a 7th grader named Timothy who stole a wallet in order to pay for his baby brother Levi’s medication. These actions caused Timothy to be placed under house arrest and ordered to keep a journal describing his feelings and day to day life. The book contains the pages of Timothy’s journal, separated by the seasons marking his year of house arrest.

I loved this book as it explored many aspects of Timothy’s life from his friends, to his school, to his family. It was a very real look at an unusual situation, as Timothy’s brother was suffering from a life- threatening illness and Timothy himself is on house arrest. In addition to this interesting view, the story included many heartwarming characters like Levi’s nurse, Marisol, his friends Jose and Isa, Timothy’s probation officer, James, and Timothy’s mom. All these characters and more are brought to life by the vivid descriptions that filled the pages of Timothy’s journal.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in realistic fiction and looking for a quick read. Although it clocks in at about 311 pages, it’s almost poetry-like structure makes it easier to read. Age-wise House Arrest seems to be more directed at a middle-grade audience, but its message makes it a good read for anyone. Seven out of ten, would recommend.

Behind the Paper: Part Eleven

girl holding her finger to her lips as if to shush someone

The day went by smoothly and I felt reassured. Charlotte appeared from behind my cubicle when I working on an article.

“Hello stranger! I haven’t seen you since the day you moved out of the department! Where were you?” Charlotte smiles and then frowns, “I called your home phone but only Darry picked up. He sounds worried because you haven’t been coming home. Is this true?”

I shrugged and looked at my clock in my cubicle, “It’s lunch time. How about let’s go out to eat.”

After I told my best friend Charlotte about everything that happened, I felt relieved to tell someone about it.

“J-Jacob ROD!” Charlotte screams at the top of her lungs. Noticing curious eyes around us, I quickly stepped my foot on hers under the table.

“OWWWWWWWWW!” She yells.

I secretly whispered, “Its suppose to be a secret! Shhhh!” Like she understood me, she hushed and nodded.

“So, that cheating scoundrel thinks he can live his life without Molly!” Charlotte said as she madly stuffed food in her mouth.

“Yeah, but its okay,” I smiled, “at the end, it’s a win-win. He gets to cheat on me and I get to see Jacob’s house.” Giggles came out of Charlotte. She suddenly stops her laughing and looked sad.

“Are you okay though?” Charlotte stops eating and looks at me, “I mean you have been dating him for three years and this happened suddenly.”

I looked at my cup and said, “When life brings you lemons, sell them.”

To be continued…

Behind the Paper: Part Six

An hour later after the coffee incident, my boss, Fernando, told us all to go to the conference room for our first meeting. As I settled in my chair near the others, boss walks in. 

“If you haven’t finish your work from your last department, then I suggest you finish it and leave no strings attached. This isn’t a part time job either so you guys should know if you don’t do your work here, your most likely gonna get fired real soon. You are in the best department here so I suggest you should keep up with your work,” Fernando tells us as he sits in his chair with stacks of paper.  

“Yes sir,” everyone in the conference room says.

“Ok so let’s go over the details for the magazine articles. We will want this to be a hit. Garrett and Freddy, you guys are going to write a piece about a scandal that’s going on with the pop star, Isabella Gouma and President Henry. Rumors have been going on that Isabella cheated her way up top because of the help of the president. Molly and Jacob, you guys will be focusing on an very famous soccer player, Kenitu Lovas. He will an interview on the 9th and I expect you guys to go. Louis and Andrew, you guys will….”

After that, I didn’t listen. I am working with Jacob?! I swear, what did I do to deserve this?! But apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought that way. 

“Wait. I didn’t hear you correctly. Who is my partner again?” Jacob questioned.

“Molly. Is there a problem with that?” Fernando looked at Jacob with an cold expression.

“No sir,” Jacob looked at me and wrote something in his notebook. 

When he put his notebook down I took a peek and read . . . .

 

 

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

a girl and a boy standing on a sidewalk leaning on a wrought iron fence

Kasie West has written her sixth book, The Fill-In Boyfriend. At first, I thought this book would be the typical, mushy-gushy love story. The type where the girl finds a random boy and falls in love with him in a day, and they live happily ever after. However, this was not the case. This unique story surprised me, and it also took an interesting turn. The story is set in a present day high school and is written as a first person narrative from the viewpoint of Gia Montgomery. There are complex rivalries, a too perfect family, and major boyfriend problems.

For the past two months, Jules has been working on a way to take Gia’s friends away from her. So when Gia gets a boyfriend, Jules thinks he doesn’t exist because her friends have never met him. Determined to prove her wrong, Gia tries to bring Bradley to her prom. But of course disaster strikes – Bradley breaks up with Gia in the parking lot the night of her high school prom. Personally, I was devastated by this break up! Gia does not deserve to be dumped on such a special day. As a result of this break up, Gia is left struggling with a way to save face. In desperation, Gia walks up to a cute guy who was waiting to pick up his sister, and asks him to be her fill-in boyfriend. As relationships continue to grow, this book reveals an unexpected turn of events. I would recommend this book for people who loves interesting turns and lots of drama.

Geekerella, by Ashley Poston

A girl in a blue dress standing beside an orange Magic Pumpkin food truck

Geekerella, written by Ashley Poston, was a cute contemporary read I never expected to like. In fact, I’d even say I loved this book and I couldn’t recommend it enough. Generally, I tend to read more dramatic and intense fantasy books, so when I picked up this novel it came as a pleasant surprise. Geekerella is about a girl named Danielle Wittimer, also known as Elle, who loves a show she holds close to her heart called Starfield and the new reboot starring teen actor and heartthrob Darien Freeman. This book features points of view from both Darien and Elle, switching each chapter. The book is also a twist on the fairy tale Cinderella, with cute similarities found throughout. For instance, instead of a prince, there’s a celebrity, and Elle works at a food truck called the Magic Pumpkin, which are a few examples among many.

The character Elle is a relatable 17-year-old with an unfortunate string of bad luck that has followed her since her dad’s death. Elle is relatable to me because of her love and dedication to her fandom, which I can relate to with many books and movies. The other character Darien is less relatable because he is famous, but his feelings are genuine and believable which make him a well-liked character. Elle’s stepsisters Chloe and Calliope (Cal), are extremely bratty throughout the book, although one of them does show some unexpected development hinted at slightly towards the first half of the book. Elle develops an unlikely friendship with Sage, her coworker. Sage is a nice character who gives Elle the support she needs while she goes through the hurdles to get to Excelsicon for a cosplay contest.

The two main characters, Elle and Darien, meet through a wrong number text, and their relationship grows through their love for Starfield. The path to their encounter is cute and paced well, with enough time for feelings to grow between the pair. I do feel like them saying that they were in love (not to each other but to friends, before they had met) seemed quite soon and not as believable because they didn’t even know what each other looked like or anything other than their obsession with Starfield. That would be my only critique.

Poston does a good job of including a mix of races and sexualities despite only having a few characters. Darien is British-Indian and Sage (Elle’s coworker and later friend), is a lesbian, along with someone else I won’t mention because I don’t want to spoil too much. A lot of other books I’ve read with a lot more characters either have the same amount of diversity or less, which is unimpressive.

I started this 320-page book one night and finished it the next day. It’s a fast-paced read with an excellent storyline that keeps the reader intrigued. The writing style is great and the references to other famous movies and/or books make the read especially relatable despite Starfield not being a real show. The detail Poston put into the Starfield show and its intricacies make the book much better because the more references and knowledge the characters use the more understandable the obsession is.

Overall, I would rate Geekerella a 10/10 because of the fantastic one-liners, relatable/believable characters, and representation of nerd culture.

The Raft Review

 

girl lying on life raft in the ocean

The Raft is a story about a 15-year-old girl named Robie who is stranded on a raft in the middle of the ocean after a plane crash with nothing but a bag of Skittles, a flashlight, a survival book, and a co-pilot. Robie, who lives in Hawaii has always considered herself unlucky until she looks bad luck straight in the eye. I guess if Robie had considered herself more lucky than she did, she probably wouldn’t have gotten stranded on an island. I guarantee that you will not want to put this book down and will be begging for the book to continue when it is over. I was extremely interested by the suspense and the realistic situations in the story. By far this has been the best survival book I have ever read. I could nearly feel the physical pain Robie went through, but just a lot less extreme. This story was very emotional, but not very dark and depressing, so it wasn’t a bummer that would make you feel sad the rest of the day. I feel like this book’s ending was just some overused happy ending, but I still would be happier with a happy ending than an ending where Robie gets stuck on an island and think “I am going to die here, oh well, that’s life”. Most of Robie’s problems were solved through luck but I don’t know what else to expect from a teenage girl. The sad twist to this story was when the co-pilot Max was talking about his years in high school. He was mainly a dark character that added more dialogue to the story.