In Looking For Alaska, John Green tells the story of Miles, a smart, skinny teen who decides to go to the same boarding school his father attended in...moreIn Looking For Alaska, John Green tells the story of Miles, a smart, skinny teen who decides to go to the same boarding school his father attended in the hopes of finding a different life. The reader gets a glimpse of what Miles’ home life is like at the beginning of the novel when his mother throws a going-away party for him, and only two people show up. Once at boarding school, Miles quickly befriends his roommate, nicknamed The Colonel. The Colonel introduces him to the rest of his inner circle: Takumi, a rap-loving Japanese boy, and Alaska, a smart, impulsive girl. The group study, plan pranks, blow off steam, and get into mischief together, all while Miles is falling in love with Alaska, who has a boyfriend. The reader is aware that the students are on the path to something life-changing, as the chapters count down days, “Forty-Six Days Before,” “Three Days Before,” until arriving at “The Last Day” a little over half-way into the book. The chapters then begin to count up, “The Day After,” “Twenty Days After.” Miles and his friends are faced with many questions about just what happened. Could they have prevented what happened, and if so, can they forgive themselves? They try to find the answers to these questions while coming to terms with their loss, grief, guilt, and the need to keep on living.
John Green masterfully handles these big questions without making them heavy-handed. He also delves into philosophy through the students’ religions class. Miles often uses this class, and his favorite famous last words quotes, to try to find the answers to some of life’s big questions. Young adult readers will find it captivating and thought-provoking, without feeling like they are being preached to, or being told that these are the only answers available. (less)
I first read this book 3 years ago, and have devoured the 6 books in the series (so far) since. Since it's been a year since the last one came out, an...moreI first read this book 3 years ago, and have devoured the 6 books in the series (so far) since. Since it's been a year since the last one came out, and I had recently OD'ed on YA lit, I decided to go back to the first book. I remembered why this is my favorite series. Even though I remembered the larger plot points, and know all the future plot points, I still couldn't put this down on it's second reading. I found myself falling in love with the characters all over again, and since Gabaldon writes such detailed stories, I had forgotten the details and was on the edge of my seat, wondering what would happen next. I shed tears again and laughed out loud again.
Claire is an English woman in her late 20's, on a vacation in Scotland with her husband after WWII. Both had been involved in the war and are getting reacquainted after years apart. During the trip, Claire stumbles into a mystical stone circle that carries her away to the same spot in Scotland, only it's 1743. She immediately stumbles into a fight brewing between some English soldiers and some Scottish Highlanders. Claire gets involved, and becomes a suspect to both sides, being English and wearing clothing a lot less modest than what was worn in the 1700s. The Scottish men take her for now, and she helps nurse one of them - Jamie - after he's injured in the fight with the English.
The book goes on from there, detailing life in Scotland in that period, and the many adventures Jamie and Claire find themselves in. While some chain bookstores tend to shelve this in the Romance section, it is far from your regular bodice-ripper. Yes, there are some sex scenes, but they usually leave much to the imagination, and tend to be more intellectual and emotional than graphic. Yes, there is the time-travel, which causes some to lump this with Sci-fi, but it's not a huge part of the book, with the exception of Claire's travels. I would most likely label it historical fiction, if I had to label it anything. Gabaldon does a LOT of research on every book she writes. Each book in the series tends to take her about 3 years to write, she says. Part of it is her writing - she's very verbose. (At one point, I believe she planned this series to be 5 books, then 7, and recently she stated on her website that she's currently writing book 7 and might have to stretch it to 8!) But part of the 3 years is due to the extensive research she puts in to make sure what she is writing is true to the time period.
I've been slowly reading this for the past week and half, not because it was slow, or bad, but because I knew the ending was inevitable, and wanted to...moreI've been slowly reading this for the past week and half, not because it was slow, or bad, but because I knew the ending was inevitable, and wanted to prolong Tessa's life as long as possible. I finally finished it today in a wash of tears.
The book tells the story of the final months of Tessa's life. She is a British teen who has spent the past 4 years of her life fighting leukemia, and before the books begins already knows that there is nothing more they can do for her. She decides to create a list of things she must do before she dies, such as have sex. The book follows her creation, revisions, and completion of items on her list, trying to experience as much of life as possible while her body is slowly shutting down. The character is so well crafted, her voice is so true and you can't help but fall in love with her and her flaws, and experience the things she does through her eyes - both the highs of love and the lows of dying. It really is beautifully written. I dreaded the end because I knew it had to live up to the rest of the book, and dear Lord does it ever.(less)
I LOVED this book. In the Woods is the first novel by Tana French. Set in modern day Dublin, the book begins with the disappearance 20 years ago of 3...moreI LOVED this book. In the Woods is the first novel by Tana French. Set in modern day Dublin, the book begins with the disappearance 20 years ago of 3 twelve year olds in the woods near their house. You soon learn that 2 of those children were never found, and the one that did turn up was banged up and his shoes were soaked in blood, and he has no memory of that day. The main character of the book is that boy, Rob, who is now a detective in Dublin. His partner is a young woman, Cassie, and they volunteer to take on a case only to learn that it involves the death of another twelve year old in those same woods. Rob's never told anyone but Cassie of his tie to the old case, and now has to decide whether to remove himself from the case and admit why, or hide his connection, keep working on the new case, and see if anything might trigger his memory of from 20 years before.
This book is excellent. The characters breath on the page. It's an excellent mix of mystery, thriller, psychology. The writing is wonderful, it really pulls you in. It's been a long time since I was this wrapped up in the world of a book, it's a rare experience I can only compare to when I read Donna Tartt's The Secret History. I'm not normally a mystery fan, if that tells you anything about how good this book is. I can't wait to read her 2nd book, which is about one of the other characters in this book.(less)
Edgar was born mute, and has grown up helping his parents raise and train dogs that his grandfather began breeding - Sawtelle dogs. One dog in particu...moreEdgar was born mute, and has grown up helping his parents raise and train dogs that his grandfather began breeding - Sawtelle dogs. One dog in particular - Almondine - is very close with Edgar, and some chapters are told from her point of view. Edgar's uncle moves in with them but he and Edgar's father do not get along, so he moves out. Edgar's father dies suddenly, and his uncle starts coming around a lot to help out his mom. Edgar doesn't trust Claude and decides to prove that he was involved in his father's death. Eventually, tragedy strikes and Edgar runs away into the woods with 3 dogs from a litter he's been raising and training. A good chunk of the book follows Edgar and the dogs as they fight to survive, but eventually he must return home.
It's a retelling of Hamlet, basically. A bit slow, but very well written. The dogs are my favorite part. He writes their thoughts so beautifully, and there are so many scenes that had me sobbing - and not always because a dog died or something.(less)
Once I Ate a Pie is a must read for any dog lover out there. I honestly stood in the bookstore and cried while I read it - not because any dog dies (t...moreOnce I Ate a Pie is a must read for any dog lover out there. I honestly stood in the bookstore and cried while I read it - not because any dog dies (thank goodness!) but because it so perfectly captures the spirit and personalities in dogs. The illustrations are gorgeous and the text is original and delightful. I think dog lovers of all ages will enjoy this.(less)
Beautiful Darkness picks up shortly after where Beautiful Creatures left off. Ethan and Amma attend a pre-dawn burial service for Macon. Lena is takin...moreBeautiful Darkness picks up shortly after where Beautiful Creatures left off. Ethan and Amma attend a pre-dawn burial service for Macon. Lena is taking the loss of her uncle very hard, and despite how Ethan reaches out to her with understanding from the loss of his mom, she starts to pull away from him. He grows more concerned when Lena begins to spend more and more time with Ridley and a mysterious guy, John Breed. Enlisting the help of Link and Liv, a British girl interning at the library with Marian for the summer, Ethan sets out on a quest to save Lena before it is too late. Along the way, he receives help from surprising sources, but can a rag-tag trio of mortals really fight the powerful Darkness drawing Lena in?
Love, love, love this book! Garcia and Stohl build on the world they created in the first book, layering in even more...Ethan’s journey takes the reader through some incredible places.
And Ethan…aw, I love Ethan...
The characters in Beautiful Darkness all make me love them even more than I did before. There is much more than meets the eye in so many of the Gatlin residents, and some of the people that come forward to assist Ethan in his quest may surprise you...
I LOVED Where She Went. LOVED it. I may have had a few reservations about If I Stay, but none exist with this book.
I love Adam. I adore Adam. This boo...moreI LOVED Where She Went. LOVED it. I may have had a few reservations about If I Stay, but none exist with this book.
I love Adam. I adore Adam. This book is told from his viewpoint (Mia’s boyfriend from the first book). Ms. Forman crafts a beautiful, gut-wrenching story in exploring Adam after what happened in If I Stay. He’s a famous rock star now, but fame never solves the problems some people seem to think it will, and eventually he has to deal with his past.
I don’t want to reveal more in case you have not read either book, but Where She Went is cathartic to those that read the first. I cried and cried, and the last third of the book is perfection. Just thinking about the last page of the book makes me happy.
This will definitely be in my top ten of 2011.(less)
What can I say about Anna and the French Kiss that hasn’t already been said?...I could not have started my spring break with a more perfect book. Anna...moreWhat can I say about Anna and the French Kiss that hasn’t already been said?...I could not have started my spring break with a more perfect book. Anna and the French Kiss is clever, funny, and romantic. It’s not often that my stomach gets the butterflies along with a character just because a cute boy’s arm brushes up against hers. I stayed up so very late last night because I was so caught up in the story...
I loved the character of Anna...She’s totally relatable and a three-dimensional character. And Etienne…ah, Etienne...My favorite part of this book is the friendship that builds between Anna and Etienne. Sometimes, romance novels focus too much on the lust and angst, and less on the foundation of a real long-term relationship...Anna is about more than just romance, though...
Anna and the French Kiss is perfect. I cannot recommend it enough, and it is safe to say it will be a 2011 favorite for me.
The plot of My Beating Teenage Heart is hard to describe without giving too much away. It is told in first person through the eyes of two different ch...moreThe plot of My Beating Teenage Heart is hard to describe without giving too much away. It is told in first person through the eyes of two different characters. In the beginning, they are both unnamed, so I am going to leave them this way...
I loved this book. LOVED it...The characters sucked me in and I needed to see them through to the end. One of my favorite things about the book was the healthy relationship the male character has with both his girlfriend and his best friend. He forgets their love at times, but they love him in a way that is real and true. I enjoyed reading a book where the people closest to a main character aren’t quick to betray or otherwise hurt their friend.
As I see another reviewer has said, if there is another female author who writes male characters better than C. K. Kelly Martin, I haven’t read said author...Ms. Martin’s teen male characters are deep, emotional, thoughtful, honest, and could step off the page fully formed.
The last two chapters in particular will make you want to keep the tissues close at hand. Not a fluffy read; it will take you on an emotional journey and leave you feeling wrung out yet satisfied and hopeful. Will definitely be a 2011 favorite of mine...