Monday, July 31, 2017

Things I've Read Recently (53)

If you're new around here, Things I've Read Recently is a series of posts I do that are basically mini-reviews of books that I either forgot to review, didn't have enough to say for a full review, or just didn't want to do a full post about for whatever reason. Sometimes I pull random books off my shelves and read them because I own way too many books.

Goodbye, Carleton High by B. J. Bond

Published: It was released in 1983 by Scholastic Canada. The copyright page of my copy is missing, and there's not a lot of information on the book online, so that's all I know.
Genre: Contemporary YA.
Binding: Paperback.
Page Count: 131
Part of a series? Nope.
Got via: Library reject.
I can find only an AbeBooks link, and there's only 2 copies.

Summary (from goodreads): Albert "Falko" Falkenheimer is tired of feeling like a loser. His classmates call him stupid because of his reading problem, and his teachers call him a troublemaker just because of a few great practical jokes. And on top of everything else, his girlfriend Cathy hasdecided to go out with Henry Schlieff, the class snob and Falko's worst enemy. Maybe, Falko thinks, the solution is to quit school... but then what will he do?

It takes a few lessons from life, from friends - even from school - to teach Falko that he may have a few things going for him after all.

Thoughts: This is incredibly dated, but I actually would like to see a modern-day equivalent of this. I think a story of a dyslexic teen trying to figure whether they want to stay in school or seek something else for their future. However, this isn't that. This is really dated, a little sexist, and the plot is really confused. I actually like that it's a smaller read because that can be cool for selective readers, who you'd hope would probably be the intended audience for a book about a kid who doesn't like to read because of his learning disorder.

But unfortunately, in just over a hundred pages, the plot manages to meander and doesn't seem to know what it wants to do. Much of the stuff mentioned in the blurb only comes up in the last, like, ten pages or so, and it has absolutely no resolution. I think readers who don't love reading would end up more frustrated than anything at this one, honestly. So I'm gonna pass this one along, because I didn't like it nearly enough to keep it on my packed shelves.

Does This School Have Capital Punishment? by Nat Hentoff

Published: Originally released in 1981, this edition was released March 15th, 1983 by Laurel Leaf
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 170
Part of a series? This is the sequel to "This School is Driving Me Crazy".
Got via: Library reject.
Amazon / AbeBooks

Summary (from goodreads): Sam Davidson and school never did get along. But at his new school, Burr Academy in New York City, he finds new friends and new interests. When he interviews Major Kelley, a black trumpeter who helped shape the jazz scene, another world opens up to him.

But school, which was bearable, becomes a nightmare when unpopular, well-connected Saddlefield frames Sam and his friend frames Sam and his friend for possession of marijuana. Unless Saddlefield confesses, the boys will be expelled. Is there anyone wo can get through to Saddlefield? Or will Sam's future be ruined once again?

Thoughts: You know, this was interesting. The author is obviously very passionate about jazz, and the respect and knowledge really does show in the writing. While this has not aged incredibly well, it's interesting and I think at the time, it was doing some neat things. The writing style is not my favourite, but the story was interesting, so it's not a total loss. This is another one that would be interesting to read a modern version or equivalent, perhaps.

I don't think I'm going to keep it, but I'm glad I read it.

Dear Bruce Springsteen by Kevin Major

Published: First published in 1987, this edition was released June 1st, 1989 by Laurel Leaf
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 134 plus a couple ads at the back of the book.
Part of a series? Nope.
Got via: Library reject.
Amazon / Abebooks

Summary (from goodreads): Terry knows Bruce Springsteen is on tour, so he doesn't expect an answer to his letters. What counts is writing it all down, and wondering what Bruce would do if he had a weird life like Terry's.

Dad took off and Mom has a new boyfriend. Terry can't change that, so he thinks instead about saving up for a guitar and organizing a benefit concert. Then he'll meet a really cool girl. Maybe.

As he pours out his feelings to his idol, Terry gradually sees how to manage his own life and become his own hero.

Thoughts: And keeping with today's theme, this was also better than I expected it to be. The format of a book made of letters in general is something I think can be really interesting to read. It's actually the second one like it I've read this year. It's such an approachable format, and I like reading books that use it.

The only thing that just made me cringe was this insistence on using the term "getting off on" as a way of saying enjoying something. There's at least a dozen instances of it and I just couldn't. It is dated, but almost in a fun way. I enjoyed this, and I'm going to pass it along into the world because I think it could fall into the right hands and be enjoyed more.

After the Rain by Norma Fox Mazer

Published: Originally published May 1987, this edition was released November 2nd, 1987 by Avon Flair.
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 249 plus an about the author.
Part of a series? Nope.
Got via: Library reject.
Amazon / Abebooks

Summary (from goodreads): At fifteen, Rachel is a worrier. She worries about whether her family understands her, whether her friends like her, and whether she'll get her first kiss before she turns sixteen. And she worries about whether she can handle having a real boyfriend if he does come along.

But it takes a dying old man -- her grandfather -- who has never been easy for anyone to handle, to show Rachel she has very special abilities. With love and compassion, she reaches the heart of an old tyrant who has always been unreachable. And in so doing, she comes to a better understanding of her family, her friends, and herself.

Thoughts: This one surprised me, actually. First off, let's get this out of the way. The cover is awful. While the 80s fashions are hilarious, it looks like Rachel is about to be kidnapped. It also doesn't suit the book at all.

However, this is pretty good. The book is a combination of third person present tense narration and letters and journal entries (obviously in first person). Third person present tense is a little odd, honestly, but you get used to it after a while. And this is a little dated, and there's occasionally some language that at the time was fine, but has since become offensive.

But despite that, it's a good book. It talks about death in a very franky and emotionally honest way. Rachel and her family are also Jewish, which is cool. I'm actually going to keep this one, because I liked it, and I honestly think that you could reprint this one and put it out with a new cover and it'd be cool.

Okay, so, that was interesting!

What have you guys been reading lately?

Peace and cookies,
Laina

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