Book Review: The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket


Genre: Fiction
Ages: 8+
Rating: 8/10

     It's been quite some time since I did my last review on Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, but nevertheless, I have to give a standing ovation to this 11th chapter of the Baudelaire story. I feel as though the perilous circumstances surrounding these three orphans become more and more suspenseful with every book, and The Grim Grotto certainly was no exception to this rule. I'm quite excited to see where fate will lead the Baudelaire's in the 12th book, The Penultimate Peril.

     Rescued by a mysterious submarine, the Baudelaire orphans join a motley crew of volunteers on a quest to save a secret organization. Along the way, they encounter deadly fungi, spine-chilling villains, and terrible truths about the past. Even in the depths of the sea, misfortune still surrounds the three children.

Memorable Quote:
"People aren't either wicked or noble. They're like chef's salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict."

     Have you read Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events before, or other books similar to it? If so, please tell us what you thought about it right here at Reading Soup! It's always a pleasure to hear your literary thoughts and opinions. Have a great day, and keep on reading!

- The Soup Chef
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['Often rebuked, yet always back returning'] by Emily Brontë


Hi Readers,

This is the third poems I recited during a regional Poetry Out Loud competition earlier this year. I hope you all appreciate the empowering message behind this piece, and if you have any poems you would like to share, please feel free to do so right here at Reading Soup!

- The Soup Chef

['Often rebuked, yet always back returning']
By Emily Brontë

Often rebuked, yet always back returning
     To those first feelings that were born with me,
And leaving busy chase of wealth and learning
     For idle dreams of things which cannot be:

To-day, I will seek not the shadowy region;
     Its unsustaining vastness waxes drear;
And visions rising, legion after legion,
     Bring the unreal world too strangely near.

I'll walk, but not in old heroic traces,
     And not in paths of high morality,
And not among the half-distinguished faces,
     The clouded forms of long-past history.

I'll walk where my own nature would be leading:
     It vexes me to choose another guide:
Where the gray flocks in ferny glens are feeding;
     Where the wild wind blows on the mountain side.

What have those lonely mountains worth revealing?
     More glory and more grief than I can tell:
The earth that wakes one human heart to feeling
     Can centre both the worlds of Heaven and Hell. 
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Book Review: The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien


Genre: Fiction
Ages: 14 and Up
Rating: 10/10

     What a powerful read. This book is quite honestly one of the best I've ever read. O'Brien's powerful storytelling connects readers to the deeply emotional experiences of the soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War, in a way that no documentary or history textbook ever could. More importantly though, this anecdotal work of fiction carries a timeless message about grief and hope, which is certainly applicable to any individual that just so happens to pick up a copy of this book. If you are unfamiliar with the writings of Tim O'Brien, I highly recommend that you check out The Things They Carried. The deeply heartfelt truths displayed in this novel are unlike any I have ever read before, and I know that anyone who wants to better their understanding of themselves and the world will genuinely appreciate it.

     Tim O'Brien was just a boy when we was drafted into the Vietnam War. Within a matter of months, his entire world was turned upside down. The distinction between reality and fantasy suddenly become blurred, and before he knew it he was surrounded by a sea of memories, some terribly melancholic, and others triumphantly joyous. As O'Brien recounts his stories from the war, he simultaneously reveals the heat-rending effects that tragedies can have on an individual.

Memorable Quote: 
"War is hell, but that's not the half of it, because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love. War is nasty; war is fun. War is thrilling; war is drudgery. War makes you a man; war makes you dead."

     Have you read The Things They Carried, or any other war story before? If so, tell us what you thought about it right here at Reading Soup! It's always a pleasure to hear your literary thoughts and opinions. Have a great day, and keep on reading!

-The Soup Chef
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I, Too by Langston Hughes


As most of you know, Langston Hughes has always been one of my favorite poets. This powerful poem, entitled I, Too was one of three poems that I recited at a regional Poetry Out Loud Competition (along with  A History Without Suffering by E.A. Markham and Often rebuked, yet always back returning by Emily Bronte). I hope you all enjoy this piece as much as I do. Although it is short, it speaks a compelling message of hope.

- The Soup Chef

I, Too
By Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.
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Poem: A History Without Suffering by E.A. Markham


A couple months ago I had the opportunity to compete in a regional Poetry Out Loud competition. For those of you that don't know, Poetry Out Loud is a dramatic poetry reading competition for high-schoolers, and is sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts. I had so much fun meeting new people, while also getting to hear some pretty awesome poetry. That being said, at the competition each contestant shared three different poems, and I've decided to share one of my favorites from the ones I presented. A History Without Suffering by E.A. Markham is a powerful poem for all of us, and I love how relevant it is in our world today. Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on it, or another poem that you love. Have a great day, and keep on reading!

-The Soup Chef

A History Without Suffering

By E.A. Markham

In this poem there is no suffering.

It spans hundreds of years and records

no deaths, connecting when it can,

those moments where people are healthy

and happy, content to be alive. A Chapter,

maybe a Volume, shorn of violence

consists of an adults reading aimlessly.

This line is the length of a full life

smuggled in while no one was plotting 

against a neighbour, except in jest.

Then, after a gap, comes Nellie. She

is in a drought-fisted field 

with a hoe. This is her twelfth year

on the land, and today her back 

doesn't hurt. Catechisms of self-pity 

and of murder have declared a day's truce

in the Civil War within her. So today,

we can bring Nellie, content with herself,

with the world, into our History.

For a day. In the next generation

we find a suitable subject camping 

near the border of a divided country:

for a while no one knows how near. For these

few lines she is ours. But how about

the lovers? you ask, the freshly-washed 

body close to yours; sounds, smells, tastes;

anticipation of the young, the edited memory

of the rest of us? How about thoughts 

higher than their thinkers?... Yes, yes.

Give them half a line and a mass of footnotes:

they have their own privileged history,

like inherited income beside our husbandry.

We bring our History up to date

in a city like London: someone's just paid

the mortgage, is free of guilt

and not dying of cancer; and going 

past the news-stand, doesn't see a headline

advertising torture. This is all

recommended reading, but in small doses. 

It shows you can avoid suffering, if you try. 
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