There's nothing I can say about this book that hasn't already been said a million times. I'd never had to read it in school, however, and had held off...moreThere's nothing I can say about this book that hasn't already been said a million times. I'd never had to read it in school, however, and had held off on doing so because I knew the general story and figured the diary would simply be sad and tough to get through.
Now that I've read it, I can say it was way less depressing than I expected. Anne is completely likable, very funny, and brought so much life and personality to their hiding space. Although the threat of being discovered was always real, what made this book so powerful is that it put a personal face on the situation. Instead of simply hearing about what happened (as I had previously), reading all of Anne's thoughts made the place come alive. I loved all her observations about the people around here and their situation in general; because she wrote at length about who and what was driving her crazy - petty stuff as well as major stuff - it felt so much easier to relate. Even when big events are taking place, there are still smaller ones that affect you.
I don't know if I would have been able to fully appreciate this book, had I read it in school when younger - at least I doubt I would have been able to appreciate it on the same levels. But it definitely made an impression on me now and I'm so glad that I read it. What an amazing legacy this diary is!(less)
Keri is an up-and-coming reporter at a celebrity magazine whose boss discovers that Keri's old high school boyfriend is the now super-famous and reclu...moreKeri is an up-and-coming reporter at a celebrity magazine whose boss discovers that Keri's old high school boyfriend is the now super-famous and reclusive author Joe Kowalski. Joe refuses to grant interviews, but Keri's boss sends her back to New Hampshire anyway on a mission to get a good story. Keri never truly got over Joe, despite nearly two decades having gone by, and he's still slightly interested in her as well. So he makes a deal: if she goes on a two-week camping trip with his family, for every day she gets through, she's allowed to ask him one on-the-record question.
This is totally not the kind of book I usually read, but it was the free book of the week from B&N awhile back and, after putting another book aside because it was just too dumb, I decided to check this out and see if it was any good. At the very least, I figured it'd be light and entertaining - and it was! The story was pretty fluffy, but in a good way; it was the kind of feel-good story you occasionally want to read where everyone lives happily ever after and you totally know things are going to work out in the end. I liked the chemistry between Keri and Joe, and although the camping trip was totally a situation only found in books and movies, it was fun to read about nonetheless.
Some of the supporting characters in this book were slightly irritating at times - Joe's mom was way too excited for everyone to be coupled up and happy; Joe's sister was vindictive - but, as a whole, the story flowed nicely and I liked the fact that everyone seemed to have their own issues to deal with, regardless of how trivial or contrived. The book itself was light, but there was a lot more going on than just the single love story between Keri and Joe. Of course, the Keri and Joe story was definitely the most interesting, with the two of them eager to catch up and fall back into the routine they once had, yet knowing nothing had really changed since they'd last seen each other and how could it work out?
Apparently this is the start of a series about the Kowalski family (which makes sense for why this book was a free ebook of the week!), and I might end up reading future books about the family, since this was entertaining. It wasn't the greatest book I've ever read or something that will change my life, but it was a quick, light read - well-written and nicely put together. I enjoyed it!(less)
I've read - and enjoyed - previous books by this author, but the synopsis of this novel didn't particularly interest me, so I didn't pick it up until...moreI've read - and enjoyed - previous books by this author, but the synopsis of this novel didn't particularly interest me, so I didn't pick it up until my book club picked it for the monthly selection. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed, and even related, to it! The novel is narrated by a group of gay men who've died of AIDS, looking in at a selection gay youth today and seeing their lives: Harry and Craig are attempting to break the world's record for longest kiss; Cooper is struggling to feel like he belongs; Neil and Peter are comfortable in their long-term relationship; and Ryan and Avery have just met and are attempting to begin a relationship.
There was so much going on in this book, and despite the large cast of characters and the short length of the novel, I was drawn into the lives of every single character and the entire book was surprisingly deep. Even the narration, which I wasn't sure about when beginning it, seemed to fit perfectly and allowed for a slightly more removed, thoughtful description of life. It wasn't preachy, which is what I'd feared, but simply full of observations.
One of the main things I loved about this book is how all the emotions the boys in here felt were universal. The author perfectly captured what each moment felt like and how confusing, yet completely immediate, conflicting emotions felt while bubbling up inside. My favorite of the many stories was the one about Ryan and Avery, simply because it was such a lovely portrayal of how exciting and fresh their relationship was and how each was so worried about what the other could possibly see in them. There was a theme throughout the entire book of what it meant to belong and what everyone craved: acceptance and love.
The author also did a great job showing the additional struggles that the teens in this book went through simply because they were gay - how judgment from others seemed personal and how it prevented them from even accepting themselves. It was really touching, and not done heavy-handedly; it simply seemed like part of the story because it was part of the story.
This was such a well-written, thought-provoking, and compelling book. Also, there were a number of parts that I highlighted because I just loved the sentiment! For those who love quotes, this book is absolutely perfect. Here are some of my favorites:
With some people, the minute you start talking, it feels like you've known them for years. It only means that you were supposed to meet sooner.
The minute you stop talking about individuals and start talking about a group, your judgment has a flaw in it.
...what is more transfixing than the sound of people hating you?
Our bodies don't have to be touching to be connected to one another.
...sometimes the power of anger is so intense that you will shoot it everywhere. Even when, in truth, you should only ever shoot your anger at the people you are truly angry at, the people who truly deserve your rage.(less)
This was a cute fairy-tale retelling of an original story I never actually read (or if I did, I don't remember). Dashti, a maid, is locked in a tower...moreThis was a cute fairy-tale retelling of an original story I never actually read (or if I did, I don't remember). Dashti, a maid, is locked in a tower for seven years with her lady, Saren, because Saren refused to marry the evil Lord Khasar. They have food in the tower, but no safety, and the only visitors are Lord Khasar and, secretly, Lord Tegan, who Saren wants to marry but refuses to speak to. As their food runs low, Dashti concocts a plan to get out of the tower and reunite Lady Saren with Lord Tegan so they can have a happy ending.
The book was told in diary format, with Dashti writing descriptions of certain days. I liked the few illustrations that were also included, and it was easy to feel like I was reading a girl's diary. Dashti matured as the book went on, and I liked the way her diary entries slowly changed as she did. Lady Saren, on the other hand, seemed like a weak character, with a fragile mind and being overall helpless. Dashti definitely rescued her on more than one occasion, and while I understood why Lady Saren seemed so broken, she was occasionally grating because of her complete inability to do anything for herself, even at the beginning.
I enjoyed the world in which this was set, although I never felt like I completely understood the meaning of each fictional land or how magic (or the like) was known and/or wielded. Parts of the story surprised me with its magical elements, while others seemed more or less expected due to the typical tropes in fairy tales. I especially liked the way that Dashti plotted to beat Lord Khasar once and for all, and I also liked how conflicted she felt over her plans to get Saren and Tegan reunited.
The characters read younger than I think they were supposed to be, so I'm guessing the target audience is a younger crowd as well. I wish the story had been a little deeper or that there was more tension, but it was pleasant overall.(less)
Miri lives in a mining town, where all the villagers work in the quarry and try to make ends meet. One day there's an announcement that the prince wil...moreMiri lives in a mining town, where all the villagers work in the quarry and try to make ends meet. One day there's an announcement that the prince will choose his bride from her territory, so all the eligible girls are sent to a nearby academy, where they learn lessons of regular schoolwork as well as Princess-necessary lessons, such as Poise and Diplomacy. Miri's conflicted about whether she actually wants to be the next princess, as she loves her town and doesn't want to leave, plus living at the academy is miserable, but she also wants to make her family more comfortable and becoming the next princess seems the obvious way to do this.
This story was really cute. I liked Miri and the world she lived in. This read almost like a fairytale, with all the girls learning how to act like royalty in case they soon would become a princess. I enjoyed the descriptions of the land and the territory itself, with Miri continuing to learn about her territory while boarding at the academy. The relationship between all the girls while there seemed about right - needing allies, yet also feeling pitted against one another because only one could become princess.
Some of the descriptions in the book seemed short, while other parts lingered. I did like the pacing overall, and this was indeed a cute story. Some of the "dangers" faced - such as dangerous work in the quarry and the constant threat of bandits - didn't feel nearly as scary as they should have, while the friction between the students (and their teacher) at the academy was much stronger. This book is definitely aimed at a younger crowd (I'm guessing ages 10+); the simple ending that wrapped everything up perfectly would probably have been more satisfying to me had I been 12 years old. (less)
3.5 stars. Russel is convinced he's the only gay kid at his high school, so he's not interested in sharing the news, not even with his best friends. W...more3.5 stars. Russel is convinced he's the only gay kid at his high school, so he's not interested in sharing the news, not even with his best friends. While online one night, he notices a chat room for gay people in his town, so he begins chatting with someone local and soon discovers it's someone at his own high school. After learning that there are even more gay kids at his school - all of them in the closet - they band together and decide to form a club in which they can just be themselves, calling it the Geography Club because they figure it sounds so boring, no one else will join.
This was a really short book and a very quick read. It was easy to sympathize with Russel's plight, and I thought his actions and thoughts were very believable. The club formation felt slightly awkward, as Russel just happened to discover other gay kids at his school all at once, and I didn't feel like they necessarily had much of a connection with each other aside from all being gay. I guess there simply wasn't enough development of the friendships that formed and everything was simply on the surface instead of being deeper, making this feel like a younger read than I perhaps expected. It was also sometimes odd because the conversations didn't always make this feel like a "young" book, based on the subjects discussed, and the disconnect between this made the reading sometimes odd.
I liked the journey Russel went on, going from feeling completely awkward and surrounded by no one who understood him, then transitioning to someone actually engaged with school. However, like I mentioned above, some of the issues were dealt with on a superficial level, such as friendships being tested and/or strengthened and Russel's feeling of inclusion. There were also seemingly unresolved subplots only hinted at, such as a teacher perhaps losing her job based on the health education she was providing and a local reverend who wanted to protest curriculum he didn't agree with. I'm sure these were both included simply to show Russel's fear about how his community might react if they discovered he was gay, but because neither plot seemed to go anywhere, they almost felt like afterthoughts. There was also an odd point near the end where Russel mentioned his parents and commented on how he hadn't really discussed them earlier in the book and I thought, "Oh yeah - what's his relationship with his parents? Where are they?" I may not have noticed had the author not specifically mentioned them!
While I didn't find this book groundbreaking or amazing, I do think it'd be a great read for younger readers (junior high students, perhaps) who feel like they are alone and need reassurance that they're not the only ones out there. It was an easy read and I'm sure would be perfect for those who can readily relate to Russel's story.(less)
Hazel and Augustus are two teens who meet in a cancer support group and fall in love, despite their anticipated short lifespan. I held off on reading...moreHazel and Augustus are two teens who meet in a cancer support group and fall in love, despite their anticipated short lifespan. I held off on reading this book because, first of all, it sounded sad, and second of all, I've read John Green's previous books and always feel like they're the same story, same characters, with different names and in different situations. But, since this has received such great reviews and a movie is coming out soon, I decided to finally read it.
For the most part, I enjoyed the story. Hazel and Augustus were likable enough, although they definitely sounded - and talked - like so many of John Green's previous characters. I guess it wouldn't be a big deal if this were the first book by him that I'd read or if I'd loved the previous books/characters, but considering that this was my biggest hesitation in reading anything by him, it was frustrating. Moving past that, I did like this story overall. I liked Hazel's perspective of knowing she had a terminal cancer diagnosis but being almost more scared for others than for herself, and I enjoyed her thoughts about how different it was to hang out with "normal" friends. I think the thing that I liked most about this book was simply the way it expanded my perspective and helped bring to life ideas about how living a life like Hazel's would be (who knows how realistic it is, but still).
Some of my favorite lines in the book came near the end, where there was talk about how there are an infinite amount of numbers between 0 and 1, courtesy of fractions and decimals, and there is also an infinite amount of time between two dates, so some infinities are simply longer than other infinities. It was a nice thought and, to me, deeper than most of the rest of the book. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the book - I did. I thought the story moved along nicely, the characters were interesting, and the backdrop gave it a definitive framework that constrained it. But the dialogue was often overly witty (the way his characters always speak...) and the love story, at the beginning, felt almost forced. I liked this overall but didn't love it, although there are parts that will likely stick with me for a while.(less)