*Books included in this batch of mini book reviews: With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo, Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and and the Bond of Reading by Lawrence & Nancy Goldstone, Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
» With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
I adored Elizabeth Acevedo’s debut novel, The Poet X, so I was very excited to read her next book. I listened to her first book via audiobook, and fell in love with the author’s narration. I chose to listen to Fire on High via audiobook as well, which was AMAZINGLY narrated once again by the author.
I loved Fire on High just as much as The Poet X! I typically stay away from YA contemporary for various reasons, but if all YA contemporary was as good as Acevedo’s books, I’d definitely read more. Not only do her characters feel so realistic, but you can’t help but fall in love with them. Acevedo has this amazing way with words that packs such a punch of emotion. I’ll read anything Acevedo writes!
With the Fire on High is a coming of age story of Emoni, a teen mom that is trying to figure out her path in life. Themes included in With the Fire on High are friendship, family, strained parental relationships, teen parenting, poverty, going after your dreams, juggling responsibilities, etc. This book has just enough depth to the story without bogging it down paired with just enough fluffy moments to keep it light-hearted & fun.
Emoni was an amazing YA female lead. I loved her passion, maturity, creativity, and dedication. I absolutely love that Acevedo tackled a book with a teen mother as the main character. Teen parents are often absent from young adult books OR they are only secondary characters. I think this has to do with the fact that teen pregnancy & parenthood is such a taboo topic. I was very happy to see teen parenting not only portrayed in a YA book, but handled well.
Since Emoni is an aspiring chief, I’d highly recommend this book to “foodies” as it centers around food and cooking. It definitely should include a disclaimer to not read while hungry… you’ll definitely be heading to the kitchen for a snack.
I’d venture to say With the Fire on High is going to be my favorite YA contemporary of 2019, and is definitely one of my favorite YA contemporaries of all times.
» Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and and the Bond of Reading by Lawrence & Nancy Goldstone
This was a very interesting little book about a husband & wife team that run book clubs for parents & their children. The Goldstone team encourages book club members to be “book detectives” and work on breaking down books into their elements (characters: protagonist vs antagonist, setting, themes, etc.) to really dig into what the author was trying to convey with the books they read.
The authors go through and talk about a selection of the books they frequently utilize in their book clubs in detail laying out questions they frequently ask & how they get members to think like a “book detective.” I would like to warn readers that Deconstructing Penguins includes spoilers of all the books discussed, so if you do not want to be spoiled for these books, you might not want to pick this up.
I did think this would be a beneficial book for ELA teachers, librarians, parents, or youth book club leaders to pick up. I really loved the idea of a parent-child book club as a way for parents to not only bond with their children, but also allow parents to instill a love for reading in their children.
My only criticism of the book would be that I STRONGLY disagree with the Goldstone’s on their opinion on which books children should be reading…
What children read is important. The theory that it doesn’t matter what your child reads as long as he or she is reading something is plain wrong.
I strongly disagree with this statement. I subscribe to the theory that it doesn’t matter what your children read as long as they are reading, whether that be graphic novels, comic books, sports magazines, etc. The whole point is to instill the love for reading into children so that they will grow up to be life-long readers. Allow those comic books and graphic novels to be gateways to fiction novels. Allow sports magazines to be gateways to nonfiction books.
» Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Daisy Jones and the Six was on my list of most anticipated books of 2019 after reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo last year. Did Daisy Jones knock Evelyn Hugo off as my favorite Taylor Jenkins Reid book? No, but I still very much loved Daisy Jones!
Daisy Jones and the Six is about about the rise and fall of a rock band in the 70s. Told in interview format from many different characters, predominantly the band members themselves, Reid gives us various perspectives on what exactly happened between the band members and all the factors that contributed to their demise.
Since I knew this was in interview format going into the book, I feel like I was able to prepare myself that this was not going to read like a traditional novel. When I read Daisy Jones and the Six, I pictured a classic rock band documentary playing out in my mind… one of those documentaries that you would have seen on VH1 or MTV back in the day, or nowadays on Netflix.
I think the interview format suited this story perfectly. Because we are given so many different perspectives, I feel like it really gave us another layer of drama to the story. I enjoyed seeing all the inconsistencies between the characters’ accounts of certain events, or how they each interpreted certain situations.
After reading Daisy Jones and the Six, I had to keep reminding myself that all the characters were works of fiction and not real people. I had to resist the urge to go to Google to learn more about these band members. Reid has a gift for giving us realistic & complex characters. The complexities of the characters, Daisy, Billy, Karen & Camila in particular, blew me away. You definitely cannot claim that these characters are one-dimensional. After reading Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones, I really appreciate how Reid gives us complex female main characters that you don’t necessarily like, but you respect for their strength, ambition, & determination.
Daisy Jones and the Six had lots of feminist undertones throughout. Daisy, Camila, & Karen were such strong women, all in different ways. There were lots of quotable moments in this book…
I had absolutely no interest in being somebody else’s muse. I am not a muse. I am the somebody. End of fucking story.
Men often think they deserve a sticker for treating women like people.
Daisy Jones and the Six really explores many aspects of the music industry, both positive and negative. I really enjoyed reading about the creative process side of making music. I also really enjoyed seeing all the drama & tension that can come when more than one artist comes together to create. We are also shown many of the different problems often associated with the music industry: drugs, alcohol, infidelities, etc. If you are a lover of music, especially classic rock, I definitely think you’d enjoy this book.
This book was meant for TV or film adaptation, so I was not surprised to hear that it is being opted by Amazon and Reese Witherspoon for a TV series.
» Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Dark Matter is what I like to call a “mind f***.” You know those books that mess with your head and leave you disoriented? This is one of those books! I am going to keep this mini review short and sweet and not go into too much detail because I feel Dark Matter is best experienced going in without knowing too much.
I think Blake Crouch did a wonderful job taking such a complex theory and constructing a story accessible to all different kinds of readers. Dark Matter would appeal to a wide variety of readers: science fiction, thriller, romance etc. Now, I know a lot of people say that at its core, Dark Matter is a love story. While that does have some truth to it, do not let that scare you off if you are not a fan of romance. Personally, I do not gravitate towards books where the romance is the focus of the story. The romance included in this story was not overpowering, thus did not bother me in the slightest. In fact, I enjoyed it! That’s right, my little black heart grew two sizes while reading this book. There was definitely enough depth and action to the story line to keep me happy and balance out the love story portion of the book.
I read this book with one of my book clubs and it made for an excellent discussion. There are so many aspects to this story that sparked a lively discussion. There were so many parts of this story that I stopped and thought to myself, “what would I have done?”
Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think?
Comment below & let me know 🙂