Okay, I'm rounding up from 4.5, but this book officially puts Gayle Forman in Maggie Stiefvater/John Green territory for me. I will happily place this...moreOkay, I'm rounding up from 4.5, but this book officially puts Gayle Forman in Maggie Stiefvater/John Green territory for me. I will happily place this book in people's hands when I'm with them at the bookstore, although I'm slightly more likely to put it into a woman/girl's hands than a man/boy's only because it feels like more of a feminine perspective. Allyson is a recent high school graduate spending a highly-planned European tour hating just about every moment until she is noticed by an itinerant Shakespearean actor named Willem doing guerrilla theater in the streets of Stratford-upon-Avon. When he asks her to go to Paris with him for a day, her life suddenly opens up for her as she lets go of the rigid track she's been placed on and learns to embrace chance. Although it is just one day, she learns that life can be way more satisfactory when she's willing to trust the adventure that life can be. I loved the plot and the character development (even of minor characters: in fact it felt like there were no minor characters). I feel like Gayle Forman has a generous spirit and that she's trying to help people open up to the possibility of life. The nice thing...it didn't feel like a preachy life lesson. If you like the pleasure of reading words placed together beautifully and really love when characters grow and develop, then this is the book for you. Oh, and the European travel and hints of Before Sunrise are lovely, too.(less)
This is the book that I'll be pressing into people's hands for awhile. I've put it on my husband's To Be Read pile three times. (He keeps putting it b...moreThis is the book that I'll be pressing into people's hands for awhile. I've put it on my husband's To Be Read pile three times. (He keeps putting it back, but to his credit, I don't like when he *forces* me to watch, listen to or read things that he's pushing either.)
Anyway, I digress.
More of my goodreads friends have read this book in the past six months than any other. The last book that floated to the top like that was Cheryl Strayed's Wild, and everyone was right about that one, too.
In case you haven't heard the set-up: Hazel is diagnosed with Stage IV cancer when she's thirteen, but through a miraculous medicine and *the power of positive thinking,* she's managed to survive to eighteen. At Cancer Group, she meets the very funny, very sexy Augustus, and he's actually interested in her. Hijinks ensue, the famous Anne Frank scene happens, there's lots of weepery, and We Are Made To Think Big Ideas.
Despite how trite that all sounds, this book is outstandingly amazing. I can't stop thinking about particular scenes, and I certainly can't stop thinking about Hazel and Augustus. The book that they're obsessed with, An Imperial Affliction, reminds me of all the various obsessions I've had through the years, and especially how obsessive I became about certain things in high school. The thing is...this time, these obsessions really matter. How they feel about living life or not living life really has importance because there's cancer involved. And while John Green does a fantastic job not turning this into a cancer book and leaving out the stupid soft-focus sentimentality, there is the simple fact that this is a book about people with cancer.
So, what do I have to do to get you to read this book already?(less)
I reserve five stars for some of the best books that I've ever read. I may revise down later, but so far, I want to hand this book to every tweenage a...moreI reserve five stars for some of the best books that I've ever read. I may revise down later, but so far, I want to hand this book to every tweenage and teenage girl that I meet. Why? Strong female characters, excellent writing and just generally memorable scenes and characters. Sean Hendrick and Puck Connolly live on an island (off the coast of Ireland?) called Thisby where the living is rough and the people are sturdy because of it. One of the things that makes life worth living there is the fact that the water horses return every November 1st. These carnivorous, magical horses are both breathtakingly beautiful and awful because they will eat their riders if given half a chance. The people of Thisby both long for and loathe the water horses and hold a race to see who can ride their horse the farthest without being killed. 19 year old Sean Kendrick is the reigning champion - he's won four times, and chances are good that he'll win again this year. Puck enters the race out of desperation. Her older brother has threatened to leave for the mainland and their house is about to be taken away from them - her entry in the race gives her a chance to hold onto her brother for just a few weeks longer and to raise the money to save their house. Only one can win this race, but many will die. Is it like The Hunger Games with horses? A tiny bit, yes, but it's so well done! It's the book that the author says that she's always wanted to read, and you can tell. Give it a chance if you like YA even one little bit. You'll be glad you did.(less)
Feeling lazy, I will let this review serve as my review of the entire series. If you are at ALL interested in mythology, art, literature, dreams, how...moreFeeling lazy, I will let this review serve as my review of the entire series. If you are at ALL interested in mythology, art, literature, dreams, how literature has changed in recent years, or just generally, big ideas, this series is for you! Neil Gaiman is an amazing writer, loved by millions, and this is the series that helped him hone his writing chops.
If you're unfamiliar with the conceit of this series, allow me to fill you in. Dream, Morpheus, the Sandman (he's got several more names than this, but you get the idea) is one of the Endless: seven siblings who are above the gods, helping to steer reality. In the first book, we find that he's been held captive for 70 years, and this has wreaked havoc on people's sleep/storytelling/sense of reality. Once he gains release, he has to set the universe back to rights (as he does in later issues/volumes) and has to find his way to a "new normal" once he's gone through profound changes. In this volume, he hovers off in the distance and just plays background roles in order to keep things moving along. In my favorite story in the series, he has commissioned Shakespeare to create "A Midsummer's Night Dream" for a former paramour. We witness a very special performance of the play, as well as the events that take place leading up to, during and immediately after the performance.
I adored reading the entire series because of the incredible artwork done by an entire stable of artists and because of the amazing storytelling skills on display by Gaiman. If you read the series volume by volume, in sequential order, you can see how he gradually developed into the author recognizable today. In this apprenticeship (he wrote an issue a month for nine years), he had to develop an incredible work ethic and figure out how to unleash his creativity without driving himself crazy. It's an amazing accomplishment, and one that I feel privileged to have witnessed.(less)
Harper (5) and I just finished reading this. The 5 stars are hers; I'm probably a little bit more critical of it. Will's dad leaves, and in order to d...moreHarper (5) and I just finished reading this. The 5 stars are hers; I'm probably a little bit more critical of it. Will's dad leaves, and in order to deal with it, Will's mom goes to the animal shelter and adopts all the animals! Will's little sister, Elinor, and he go through a process of learning how to live with four dogs and a cat, and then, life gets even stranger! Well-drawn characters (even the dogs) made this absolutely gripping for Harper, and where attention lagged, the fine illustrations brought her back. A truly touching book, I'd recommend this chapter book to all animal loving kids. (less)