Marshmallow reviews The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead

Marshmallow has already reviewed When You Reach Me (2009) and Goodbye Stranger (2015) by Rebecca Stead. Today she reviews Stead’s newest novel, published in 2020: The List of Things That Will Not Change.

Marshmallow reviews The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead.
Marshmallow reviews The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about family and you want to read about how different characters tackle change, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): When Bea’s parents tell her that they are getting divorced, they give her a green notebook. In it is a list of things that won’t change, even though almost everything else might:

  1. Mom loves you more than anything, always.
  2. Dad loves you more than anything, always.
  3. Mom and Dad love each other but in a different way.
  4. You will always have a home with each of us.
  5. Your homes will never be far apart.
  6. We are still a family but in a different way.

Her parents’ divorce is amicable; the reason for the divorce is that Bea’s father is gay.

After the divorce, Bea’s life splits in two different parts, sometimes living with her mother and sometimes with her father. Later, her father gets engaged with another man, Jesse. Bea really likes Jesse and looks forward to him becoming a part of the family. Not to mention that Jesse has a daughter Bea’s age named Sonia, and Bea has always wanted a sister.

But Bea has other issues to face. She has eczema which is annoying to her, and she goes to therapy to deal with her stress. Everything is now different, but Bea keeps herself up by talking with her friends and family, who are always there to support her. Bea and her family will struggle to reach their happy ending. 

Marshmallow is reading The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead.
Marshmallow is reading The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead.

Marshmallow’s Review: I found this a touching book. Bea is very thoughtful, and this book really highlights and goes into her thoughts and feelings. It was sad to see how some of the folks in the book mistreated Bea’s father and his new partner because of their sexual orientation.

The List of Things That Will Not Change was extremely realistic and felt very down to earth when I was reading it. Every character was unique and well thought-out, and the narrative and tone of the book felt very genuine. That said, I don’t quite think the end was one hundred percent fulfilling, but it was definitely satisfactory. However, I did like how all the loose parts were tied up in the end. I also found it interesting how not everything was perfect in the end but it was realistic. (I’m not going to say much more!)

The List of Things That Will Not Change would be appropriate for all ages, presuming that the person would understand the plot, which I felt was easy enough to understand, though it had some extra nuances for an older reader who would see all the threads from beginning to end.

Bea’s relationship with Sonia might remind some readers of a book I reviewed a while ago: To Night Owl From Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer. There are indeed some similarities but also a lot of differences. Bea’s health issues reminded me a bit of Guts by Raina Telgemeier, another book I reviewed for the blog. And compared with the other books I have read of Rebecca Stead, the tone and voice of this book was very similar. The setting and tone were more reminiscent of When You Reach Me, but the realism was quite like that of Goodbye Stranger. But The List of Things That Will Not Change has definitely a unique and original story, and I really enjoyed reading it; I think most bunnies would, too. 

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead 95%.
Marshmallow rates The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead 95%.

Marshmallow reviews Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Marshmallow found a copy of a Charles Dickens novel, Great Expectations, in her classroom library and decided to check it out. Just like many other novels by Dickens, Great Expectations was first published as a serial, weekly from 1860 to 1861, and then came out as a single three-volume book in 1861. Below Marshmallow shares her thoughts on this classic.

Marshmallow reviews Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.
Marshmallow reviews Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books that are set in past time periods or if you enjoy coming-of-age stories, and if you are up for a really long read, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Philip Pirrip (nicknamed Pip) is an orphan in the mid-early 19th century in Kent, England. His parents are dead but his much older sister (Georgiana Maria, though she is always referred to as Mrs. Joe) takes care of him. Unfortunately, she disciplines him very harshly, which was the norm back then. She is married to a blacksmith, Joe Gargery, who is kind and whom Pip views as a father figure. The story starts when Pip is around seven and he is visiting the graves of his parents and other siblings. There he unexpectedly meets an escaped convict who threatens to kill him unless he brings food and tools. Pip does so, but then soldiers arrive and ask Joe to mend some shackles. Pip comes with the soldiers and they find the convict fighting with another convict. The first one says that he stole the things that he ordered Pip to steal.

After this bizarre event, the narration moves on and we skip ahead a few years. In a couple years, a rich elderly woman is looking for a young boy to come visit her. Pip is chosen and so he starts going to her house every now and then. This woman is Miss Havisham who has an adopted daughter named Estella. Miss Havisham is a strange woman: she was supposed to be married, but when her fiancé left her at the altar, she froze everything where it was. She was still wearing her wedding dress and the clocks were all stopped to the time she learned she was abandoned. Miss Havisham raised Estella to be her revenge on the male part of the human species. Estella was raised to be heartless and break mens’ hearts. And Pip was to be her first victim. Pip falls in love with Estelle, leading to a great heartbreak throughout Pip’s life. 

Many years later, when Pip has been training to be a blacksmith, like Joe, he is given money to allow him to become a gentleman and he travels to London. It is presumed that Miss Havisham was the one who gave him the money. Pip’s life transforms many times into different things. This book follows his life through most of it from a young age to his older years. 

Marshmallow is reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.
Marshmallow is reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

Marshmallow’s Review: Great Expectations is a highly regarded book by the famous author Charles Dickens. I found it fascinating. I thought it was remarkable how it covered almost the entire life of one person. I also appreciated that there were so many twists and turns. I honestly did not expect what happened at the end. 

However, I would say that it is very difficult to read since it was written in a different time period where people wrote differently. Secondly, it is very complicated because there are so many characters and so many things happen to them at different times. I understood most of the book when I read it, but I missed some things because of the confusing language. I had to go back and reread and think things through a bit.

All in all I am glad to have read Great Expectations. It was my first Dickens book, and it is amazing to me that he wrote it and published it weekly first. It is such a big project! And there are so many things to keep track of because it is Pip’s entire life!

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates Great Expectations by Charles Dickens 95%.
Marshmallow rates Great Expectations by Charles Dickens 95%.

Marshmallow reviews The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Marshmallow has already reviewed the first two books of the Inheritance Games trilogy of Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Today she reviews The Final Gambit, the third and final book of the series that was just published at the end of this August.

You might like to check out Marshmallow’s reviews of The Inheritance Games (2020), the first book, and The Hawthorne Legacy (2021), the second book, before you move on with this review.

Marshmallow reviews The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
Marshmallow reviews The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about mystery, family secrets and / or romance, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Around a year ago, Avery Kylie Grambs was left billions of dollars in the will of a very wealthy man named Tobias Hawthorne. Tobias Hawthorne was very fond of riddles, puzzles, games, and pretty much everything that requires investigation and deep thought. Even after he died, this did not change. Post-mortem, Tobias has been vexing Avery and her friends in a series of mysteries and puzzles he left Avery and his family.

Mr. Hawthorne had two daughters and four grandsons (all from his youngest daughter who planned to have the inheritance go to her children). In previous books, it was discovered that Tobias wished Avery and his grandsons to find and bring his supposedly dead son (Toby) back to the Hawthorne family. However, this was complicated significantly by the fact that Avery still did not know why she was chosen to inherit this fortune. Additionally, an invisible enemy seemed to be attacking her from everywhere and also has captured Toby.

In The Hawthorne Legacy, the second book of this trilogy, Avery believed that Toby was her father. However, in the end of that book, we learned that she is not. We also learned that he nonetheless did have a daughter named Eve. In The Final Gambit, we meet Eve. And Avery meeting Eve causes the start of a brand new puzzle set up by Tobias Hawthorne. This time, the stakes are higher. This will be the final countdown and we will finally see whether or not Avery can finalize the transaction of inheritance.

Marshmallow is reading The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
Marshmallow is reading The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Marshmallow’s Review: The Final Gambit is a fascinating read! And I was very glad that I finally learned why Avery was chosen. (No spoilers!) The book is well written and the mystery is resolved satisfactorily, but you do have to wait till the end.

Overall, the three books make a great trilogy. I do think you would need the first two books to make any sense of this third one. But the books are quite easy to read quickly, because all chapters are very short and the twists and turns the mystery takes make you want to keep reading on.

On a different note, this is definitely written for young adults. There is a lot of romance, and this third book gets a lot more mature in terms of a lot of kissing / making out, and the occurrence of some sexual acts may or may not have been hinted at. I would recommend this book for bunnies 14 and up, and if a bunny is younger than that, then that said bunny’s parents might want to read the book first and decide if it is for them.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 95%.
Marshmallow rates The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 95%.

Marshmallow reviews The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Almost a year ago, Marshmallow reviewed The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, the first of a mystery trilogy about a high school student, Avery Kylie Grambs, who inherits a large sum of money unexpectedly and has to deal with the consequences. This week, Marshmallow has finally read the second book, The Hawthorne Legacy (2021), and shares her thoughts on it here, before diving into the third and final book of the series, which was just published at the end of this past August.

Marshmallow reviews The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
Marshmallow reviews The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about mystery, family secrets, and / or romance, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Avery Kylie Grambs used to live in her car, but after one of the richest men in America (Tobias Hawthorne) left her his fortune, she is now practically America’s richest teenager. However, she legally doesn’t receive the fortune until she lives in the Hawthorne Mansion for a year. Unfortunately, several people would be very happy if she didn’t get the fortune or “expired” before the year ended.

The main question is why Tobias Hawthorne left his fortune to Avery who seems to be completely unrelated to him, when he has two daughters and four grandsons, to whom he left very little. At the end of the first book, The Inheritance Games, Avery had found enough clues to believe that Tobias’ son Toby, who supposedly died in a fire, is still alive and that she had to find him. In this book however, we learn, along with Avery, that the truth is a lot more complicated. To find out why she was left the money, Avery needs to find out who Toby was, what he did, and where he is now. And to do this, she must first learn who she really is. 

Marshmallow is reading The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
Marshmallow is reading The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Marshmallow’s Review: I found this to be a fascinating book. I really wanted to find out why the money was left to Avery, but apparently we will all need to wait until the next book, The Last Gambit, to find out. Still The Hawthorne Legacy was a fun and exciting read, and I enjoyed it a lot. I really liked all of the twists and turns in the plot. This is one of the best mysteries I’ve read, and I still have no idea why the fortune was left to Avery. I look forward to reading the next book of the series. 

The main character Avery, like many young adult novel characters, struggles with her love life and feelings, which causes issues for her. Relatedly, I felt that The Hawthorne Legacy had much more adult details than the first book in the series. This book, like the School for Good and Evil series, is written for older (teen?) audiences. I would say that this is probably best for 14 and up. And I would suggest that parents of younger bunnies might want to read it first to gauge whether they think the book is suitable for them.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%. 

Marshmallow rates The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 95%.
Marshmallow rates The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 95%.