I really enjoyed this, but didn't have some life changing realization or a deep emotional connection. It's a sweet book about a kid who's a little dif...moreI really enjoyed this, but didn't have some life changing realization or a deep emotional connection. It's a sweet book about a kid who's a little different, but it did seem a little simplistic. I didn't like the changing perspectives, there wasn't enough variation and we didn't really get new insight. It felt repetitive. The overall tone was too "happily ever after" for my taste. (less)
I liked it, but I didn't love it. It's very funny, but I feel like it's the same type of humor that gets a little old after a while. I think this book...moreI liked it, but I didn't love it. It's very funny, but I feel like it's the same type of humor that gets a little old after a while. I think this book is best read is small doses. Jenny Lawson is a blogger and I suspect that this book was written like her blog. However, blog posts come out once every couple of days and this book is all at once. It's a bit overwhelming.
However Let's Pretend This Never Happened is still very funny in a random and silly kind of way but with more sincere moments as well. I recommend this to fans of her blog or anyone who enjoys humerous memoirs. (less)
Do you ever just randomly pick up a book without knowing much about it and it's just the perfect thing for your life? Well that's what happened for me...moreDo you ever just randomly pick up a book without knowing much about it and it's just the perfect thing for your life? Well that's what happened for me. I wandered into the bookstore with the goal of just getting a coffee but then Dr Bird's caught my eye. I had no idea what it was about, but I saw the blurbs from Matthew Quick and Jesse Andrews and thought "I need to read this".
Turns out Dr. Bird's is about a boy with depression and anxiety. The synchronicity is rather freaky because I've suspected that I have depression for years but I've never really taken action to get some help, I've always tried to deal with it on my own. Dr. Bird's helped me realize that I cannot do it alone and I've started taking steps to find a therapist. I really appreciate this novel and the perfect timing in which it came into my life.(less)
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is Fantastic (yes with a capital F)! It's so hilarious I was literally loling through the entire book. It's kind of lik...moreMe and Earl and the Dying Girl is Fantastic (yes with a capital F)! It's so hilarious I was literally loling through the entire book. It's kind of like if John Green was a sarcastic a-hole (and I mean that in the most affectionate way possible). Most of the time I find rambling tangents kind of annoying, but I loved the humor, even though sometimes it got to a place that made me more than a little shocked.
No seriously. I was mostly cracking up, but every now and then I'd be like "Oh dear God!"....but mostly laughing hysterically. A word of warning, the humor is a major part of the book, and it is NOT kid friendly, so if crude humor and swear words aren't your style, approach with caution.
One of my favorite aspects of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is the stylistic choices. The story is told in a variety of ways including bullet point lists and screenplay style, which makes it so much fun to read. I also just really enjoyed the writing style. Greg is very self deprecating and there are a ton of silly interjections that just made me laugh out loud.
However, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl isn't all dirty jokes (I promise). I think there's a pretty deep message too, maybe not a happy one, but a message all the same. It talks about how not everyone is a fighter, and not everyone has profound moments when faced with death. Sometimes people just die, and even though you may know that person, it doesn't mean your life will be all that changed. There's a lot of pressure on people to feel SO SORRY that someone is dying, that everyone has to drop everything because they know someone who is sick, even if that emotion is fake and forced. And a lot of times people care more about the guilt they feel about not caring then they do about the actual dying person. We make a person's death about us, and we'll do things we think they'll want (such as make a movie commemorating their life) without really considering who the dying person actually is and what they would want. This message isn't hopeful or heartwarming, but it's way more honest than a lot of other illness and death books out there.
So basically, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl will appeal to a select audience. If you're looking for a sentimental coming of age story where the MC learns a profound lesson through the death of a manic pixie dream girl, move along, this is NOT your book. However, if you're looking for a realistic view of how effed up death can make you and how it's not something that can be tied up in a neat little package of revelations and self discovery told in hundreds of pages of laugh out loud ridiculousness, then run (not walk) and get Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. (less)
Father daughter stories always get me right in the feels. I really liked Second Chance Summer. I loved Taylor's father and her siblings. I wish we had...moreFather daughter stories always get me right in the feels. I really liked Second Chance Summer. I loved Taylor's father and her siblings. I wish we had spent a little more time with her family and a little less time on the relationship drama. The story moved pretty slowly and I found the relationship drama to be a little ridiculous. You were twelve, get over it. But overall this was a well written book with a lovely and sad story.(less)
I am a literature sadist. I don't know why, but I have a sick need to finish every book that I've started, no matter how painful, stupid, or rage-indu...moreI am a literature sadist. I don't know why, but I have a sick need to finish every book that I've started, no matter how painful, stupid, or rage-inducing. I really did not like Sever, nor the Chemical Garden series as a whole. I think this story could have definitely been a stand alone because all of the plot really happened in the first book and the second and third were full of pretty prose of little consequence. I was particularly disappointed with this series because there were so many really interesting ways this story could have gone and a lot of great topics that could have been explored but none were really committed to which just left for a weak series that didn't say anything.
Sever was a very monotonous ending to the series where nothing really happened and none of our questions were answered. The first third of the book was Rhine hanging out at Lindon's uncle's house (did we know about this uncle before book 3? I don't think so, and this character suddenly living just down the road was very convenient) doing nothing. I thought finding her brother was really important but she's really not in any hurry to do anything other than putz around. I also was wondering what was going on with Gabriel, but Rhine must really have an out of sight, out of mind personality because I don't think she spared one thought for him for at least 200 pages. But you know what, Rhine and Linden should have stayed together because they're both as exciting as a bump on a log covered with a wet blanket. I seriously don't think I've read two more wishy washy characters in my life. The only semi redeemable character in Sever is Cecily (I know I was surprised too). There was some character growth there and Cecily actually took some action in this book. I couldn't believe it.
I also had huge problems with the general plot of Sever and how the big issues of the world were glossed over or just not addressed at all. I don't want to post too many spoilers, but the big revelations about Rhine's parent's work on genetics or Vaugh's motivations behind his terrible abuses or how the world because the messed up society felt so contrived, like the author didn't know how to tie things up so she just brushed it under the rug with the barest of explanations. The plot of this series is so sloppy, it's laughable. All of the pretty prose in the world can't replace a well thought out story.
The other aspect of Sever that is really damaging is sex, namely the lack of sex that our main character has. I mentioned this in my review for Fever, but to have a world where young girls are forced into marriage and prostitution as basically broodmares, and then put your main character into situation after situation where all of her peers are forced into sex but somehow miraculously she doesn't have to have sex is so ridiculous I can't even properly form words. This is the biggest cop out I have ever seen. If you're going to create a world like this and put your character in those situations (I mean, she was in a prostitution circus FFS) then you have to follow through, even if that means bad things have to happen to that character. If you don't back up your world building the entire series falls apart and I won't be able to take the story or the characters seriously. That's a problem with YA in general I think, writers don't want to do anything really bad to their characters so they put them in dangerous situations but don't actually put them in any danger.
Sever, and frankly the entire Chemical Garden series, is just a hot mess. Weak characters, weak plot, and very weak world building makes up this train wreck of a series. Flowery prose cannot make up for this pile of pseudo scientific drivel.(less)
FYI I read an egally from netgally! Thanks EgmontUSA!!!
I wanted to start off this review by saying that while I gave this book three stars, I read an...moreFYI I read an egally from netgally! Thanks EgmontUSA!!!
I wanted to start off this review by saying that while I gave this book three stars, I read an advance galley so I think the finished copy will be more of a 4 star book. There are certain things that will probably be edited up a bit (mostly some support to characters that may not show up a lot but are important to the story). However as it was The Butterfly Clues was still an excellent murder mystery that, while not really all that surprising, was still very suspenseful and enjoyable to read.
The Butterfly Clues is first and foremost a book about OCD. The author does a, well, intense job of describing what it's like to have OCD. It is on every single page, for better or worse. When the consistent need to touch, take, and tap is done well, it adds SO MUCH anxiety and tension to the murder mystery. It's like, imagine not being able to escape a dangerous situation because you HAD to tap your leg nine times before you went through a doorway, or you HAD jump over every crack in the sidewalk or you'd HAVE to go back and start over, even if someone was chasing you! There were times where I just had to take a break from reading because I was getting so freaked out! But then there were times where the OCD was just there because it had to be, but didn't do anything to move the plot forward. Those scenes were painfully slow to read.
I really liked Sapphire as a character, even though we never get to actually meet her. I don't want to give away the plot (even though I found it to be pretty predictable, as in I guessed everything from about page 60 or so) but I liked who she was and what ultimately happened to her. I found her relationship to Lo a little convenient, but still very interesting.
There is one other thing I didn't like, and I think this is just personal preference. What is up with the idea that homeless = artsy? Where exactly does this kid get the money to pay for art supplies? I had a really hard time believing a person like Flynt really exists. Maybe that's because I am too grounded in my need for security. I could never just be an artist and "live off the land" Chris McCandless style. I think if more background to how Flynt survived had been given I would have enjoyed his character more. As he was I pretty much rolled my eyes every time he used his art to be all mysterious and sexy.
Overall The Butterfly Clues is an intense murder mystery (that doesn't have any paranormal aspects to it, thank God!) that uses OCD to create extremely suspenseful situations for the main character. Lo is a unique character that has some major flaws, but you can't help but love and root for anyway. I recommend The Butterfly Clues to anyone who enjoys murder mysteries or books about mental illness (or books with beautiful covers!).(less)
This book is painfully obvious. If you're going to write such a politically charged dystopian, it has to be subtle. Unwind is as subtle as an elephant...moreThis book is painfully obvious. If you're going to write such a politically charged dystopian, it has to be subtle. Unwind is as subtle as an elephant trying to hide behind a yorkie. (less)
OMG less than one month away! So excited, I want it yesterday!
I like it, but I have to admit I'm not in love with it. I do like the simp...moreOMG less than one month away! So excited, I want it yesterday!
I like it, but I have to admit I'm not in love with it. I do like the simplistic nature of it and maybe once I read the book I'll like the cover more. That certainly was the case for Paper Towns so I'll keep an open mind.
I do have one massive problem with the cover though. Why the HELL is Jodi Picoult quoted on the cover!? First of all, Jodi Picoult is a lame-o lifetime movie-esque adult author, not a funny-as-hell-while-still-being-extremely-poignant YA author. Second of all, just because Jodi Picoult wrote a shitty book about a teen with cancer that got turned into a fairly successful movie, she's the go-to default author on the subject? I'm sorry but if The Fault in Our Stars is even one tenth similar to My Sister's Keeper I may just have to punch a baby. (oh and for the record, the movie of My Sister's Keeper is totally different from the book and has much more believable characters and a way more logical ending...go movie people you got it right). I'm really disappointed by this blurb and I hope this isn't final and the publishers will wise up and put someone else on the cover (or no one, that's ok by me) but I doubt it.
Update 1/10/12 Since my amazon preorder wouldn't be shipping until Friday, I went and bought a new one because I couldn't wait. And look what I got...
Update 1/12/12 I need to put a disclaimer on this review that I highly doubt this review will adequately describe just how much this book means to me. I've always been a fan of John Green's work, but The Fault in Our Stars takes him to a new category. There are definitely still the elements that make it a John Green book, such as teens that have a better vocabulary than most dictionaries, references to obscure books, music, and lots of poetry, and in-depth analyses of the meaning of life. But with The Fault in Our Stars, he does this better than any book he's written before. Yes these teens are maybe too smart, and yes I had to look up a word more than once, but never the less this book looks at death, love, and illness in a way that is so REAL.
First I want to give you a little background on where I'm coming from, and why Hazel in particular touched me on a very personal level. When I was 14 (just about to enter high school), I had to go to the doctor for a routine checkup. I had some basic bloodwork done, then went home to await the results. I got a call at 1:00 AM that night saying I had to go to the hospital right then and there. It turns out my platelet count (they're in your blood and cause it to clot) was so low I was considered a "medical emergency" (An average count is 150,000 - 500,000. I was at 7,000). On top of that my red blood cell count was HALF of what it should have been. I spent that first of what would be many weekends in the hospital with doctors trying to figure out what was wrong with me.
They eventually diagnosed me with ITP (Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura) which is basically where my immune system attacks my platelets for no reason. But I went through months before the diagnosis where they thought I could have anything from ITP to a bone marrow disorder to leukemia. Yes, I went around for about three months thinking I had blood cancer. Not very pleasant for a girl just starting high school. Luckily for me I didn't have luekemia, but I was still in the hospital 1-3 times a week for two years. I was on a very aggressive steroid treatment as well as periodic IVIg treatments that not only didn't really fix my blood problem, also caused me to gain 80 lbs, have severe mood swings, and lead me to some pretty hard core self image and depression issues.
After 2 years my doctors decided I had to go to a more drastic from of treatment by way of splenectomy. Word to the wise, if you can avoid having abdominal surgery, I suggest you do it because it hurts like a bitch. If that didn't work we would have had to resort to forms of chemotherapy, which totally scared the shit out of me. Luckily the splenectomy worked and after a couple weeks my counts leveled to a perfectly healthy 300,000 which was way better than expected. I'm basically cured and I don't have to take any medication or do anything special now. I just have to be aware of my immune system because I am missing a spleen, so I can get sick more easily than other people. But compared to having blood cancer? I'll give the spleen freely, again and again.
Ok, I'm telling you all way too much information so you can understand where I'm coming from when I say this book hit me on a very personal level. John Green does an excellent job capturing the feeling of being sick. From puffy steroid face to midnight hospital runs to being afraid that your death will ruin the ones you love, John Green covers the realities of illness with sensitivity and honesty. He really gets what it's like to be sick, and to be so sick that you could die. It doesn't fall into that sappy lifetime movie-esque melodrama of so many other cancer books.
I also just LOVE Hazel and Gus. So much. And I won't spoil the plot, but I totally did not expect what happened to them in this book, and I am so glad it didn't go the way I was expecting it to. I loved how their relationship forms and how they understand each other. What's really great is these characters are people, not just their disease. Plus the banter back and forth is adorable while their serious conversations made me think about my life and what I really valued. I particularly loved the lesson Gus learns about wanting to leave a mark on the world, a legacy, something to be remembered by after he has died. I think we all feel like that, but is the whole world knowing who we are really what's important? Isn't having people who love you and loving them back enough? I also loved their "infinity". I don't want to say more than that, because I don't want to spoil, just tell you a little bit about why I love this book so much.
While I'm not happy with the cover nor the blurb (I get why Jodi Picoult is on it, I just hate the fact that she is) I hope people outside the YA and nerdfighter community will pick this book up. The Fault in Our Stars should be read by everyone who has ever felt like their life was less valuable due to something they cannot control, anyone who has ever wanted to be seen as more than "that cancer girl", and anyone who has ever had to come to terms with the finality of a human life.(less)
I didn't really like Wither, but I didn't hate it either. I was put off by the lack of scientific support for the world building but I was interested...moreI didn't really like Wither, but I didn't hate it either. I was put off by the lack of scientific support for the world building but I was interested in the characters and the drama that unfolded. I thought Wither presented some interesting topics on forced marriages and human trafficking as well as the ethics of genetic manipulation and that in Fever we were going to explore these themes in greater depths. Unfortunately these topics were barely touched on in this weak follow up.
Fever really suffers from middle book syndrome. It's almost like the wordiness and overly poetic writing is trying to make up for the lack of character development, world building, or any real plot. I feel like everything in this book, from the main character to the writing to the world building to even the book itself, is very surface level. Everything is pretty and shiny, but there's no substance, no meat, to anything. It's like this book is saying "Look at how beautifully I described these girl's dresses and hair! Ignore the fact that they are child prostitutes, let me wax poetic about the fabric of their sex tent!" The writing is very wishy washy, to the point where I wasn't sure what was happening (specifically with Gabriel and the cage and with Vaughn and his testing). We're never told clearly what is happening, and instead of creating tension, it only creates confusion.
It's all very disappointing because I really liked the idea of the sex carnival and I thought it was an interesting setting to talk about tough issues like child prostitution. But it's almost like the author presents these terrible situations but doesn't fully commit her writing or her main character to those situations. Rhine gets exempt from abusive situations again and again (not having to consummate her marriage to Lindon, not having to prostitute with strangers). Instead Rhine watches other children be victimized and doesn't do anything to help them other than feel kind of bad. I feel like there is some indirect victim blaming going on here, that the child prostitutes are dirty and bad for having sex and that Rhine must stay pure and good because she is the main character. I do not know if that was the intention, but that is the road Fever heads down and it is a very damaging and dangerous path.
Fever is a truly disappointing novel not just as a sequel, but as a missed opportunity to actually say something of value. It just flits from topic to topic without fully committing to anything. (less)