Sadness Between The Pages: A Book Review For “The Fault In Our Stars” by John Green

This book was finished on March 12, 2013. 

I give The Fault In Our Stars by John Green a solid 3 stars.  

The Fault in Our Stars Book Cover

I’d like to preface this review with the disclaimer that I do not mean to be jerky. However, my feelings in this review come from a place of wonderment at the state of emotion that come from bringing certain topics up in our society. 

That being said, something that I find so interesting about stories that deal with illnesses is that they seem to skirt the issues of being sick and the “perks” that terminally ill people seem to receive. However, John Green stands stoically in his authorship and calls us all out on our bull****.

Both, Augustus and Hazel are made into optimistic if not angsty teenagers who are speeding toward oblivion furiously reaching out for a lifeline to keep them tethered to this world. While,I respect Green’s writing style and story, I found that the characters themselves are not entirely new to literature. Hazel becomes the symbolic character that gets left behind once her boyfriend gets spirited off (no pun intended) to the after world and Augustus is the character who dies before his time. Together, their story while cute in some spots and heart-wrenchingly sad in others is not one that was fresh enough for me to fall down in total awe upon it’s ending.

Yet, I can say that I was enticed by the idea that two people could go on this sort of journey together to excavate a story’s ending from their favorite author half-way across the world. Green produces this adventure in a way that’s so realistic that I found myself seriously thunderstruck when I got to the scene where Peter Van Houten denies these two cancer-ridden teenagers their last grand “wish.” At this point in the story, I came to the conclusion that maybe what people like Augustus and Hazel really need is not so much our pity for them but, our understanding that they are really just individuals who are just like their “healthy” contemporaries who are searching for life’s answers. Therefore, the one thing that seriously struck me in this novel is that people like Augustus and Hazel are no different than you or I. Like us, their death is inevitable. However, unlike us, they have a ballpark figure of when their final days are going to draw to a close. 

Comment below and tell me what you thought of the #TFIOS book!

Overall, I found the book to be an interesting and funny read with a light romance laced throughout the plot. I would recommend the book to others as a conversation starter but, not as a book that needs to be continuously read to understand it.

You can watch the film adaptation on Amazon Prime.

(Originally posted on blogger on Saturday, March 30, 2013.)

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger Book Review

I gave this book 5 stars.

Kody Keplinger’s novel, The DUFF is the type of book you could read at any age and connect to. The main character, Bianca is a tough as nails girl who’s heart has been hardened by the pains of love. Adamant about never falling in love again, she chooses to enter into an “enemies with benefits” relationship with Wesley, the notorious womanizer of her high school who has problems of his own. Together the two teenagers work through their problems in the form of..ahem…advanced cardio for the grown and sexy. However,  even with their preconceived rules of “no feelings” being involved, Bianca and Wesley learn the hard way that love can infiltrate your heart when you least expect it no matter how hard you plan.

Keplinger’s characters are well developed and likable. Even though Bianca does come off as cynical at times, the reader gets shown that her feelings of anger and frustration are justified. The way that this character antagonizes over being “the duff” a.k.a the designated ugly fat friend, is something that is especially well portrayed by the author and made into a relatable point for anyone who chooses to read this book due to the fact that most people have felt like the dud of their circle of friends at one point of their life or another.

On the flip side, Wesley’s character while clearly placed into the cliched role of being resident bad boy is endearing opposed to annoying. Even when he makes Bianca feel ashamed of herself by calling her the duff, it’s apparent that his character is battling his own set of demons and does so only as a knee-jerk reaction to his pain.

Keplinger’s choice to use cliched roles in her work is balanced off by the fact that her storyline is solid. Never does the reader feel as if they are being rushed off into a tidy conclusion. Instead, the author paces the story so that her audience can get the full benefit of watching the character’s lives come undone and then slowly pieced back together again. Both Bianca and Wesley’s character are funny, interesting, and sarcastic enough to keep readers entertained and willing to stick wound to finish Keplinger’s story. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is in need of a good chick-lit book or who just loves a good novel about bad boys and strong opinionated female leads. Yet, I would caution against letting younger readers begin this book being that it is meant for a mature audience due to explicit sex scenes throughout the novel.

Playing Dress Up: A Book Review On Lola & The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

I gave this book 3 stars.

You know those books who get raved about by everybody in all of Booktopia and you tell yourself, “I’m going to read this book because it must be fan-tastic if everybody else loves it so much?”….Whelp,  Lola & The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins falls under that category for me.

I chose to read this book before its companion because well, Anna & The French Kiss was checked out at my local library and this was all they had at the time. I went into the book all drummed up and ready to sing its praises afterwards. However,…I was faced with disappointment.

While this book isn’t bad, it’s not technically good either. The characters in this story seemed to me to be ones that were harvested from other YA Fiction and placed smack-dab in the middle of Perkins’ novel. For instance, Lola is a somewhat contrived character who is labeled as the fashionable/artsy daughter of a same-sex male couple. The couple adopted Lola from one of the dad’s drug addicted sister when she was younger and wasn’t ready to raise a child.

Perkins also gives Lola the somewhat obvious aspiration to become a costume designer and formulates Lola’s character to dress up as different “characters” throughout the novel to mark herself as an individual while also showing her creative side. Keeping with this “individual rebel” act, Lola’s boyfriend, Max is delegated the role of the 20-somethin year old rocker who treats everyone else like crap besides Lola (or so it seems in the beginning). From here, we get the return of Cricket, the goofy/smart boy from next door who Lola was previously involved with and the usual sparks start to fly.

 Major Things That Bothered Me About The Book:

1. To me,  Lola and Cricket’s courtship falls flat and the characters also comes off as a tad mismatched. Cricket’s character seems so juvenile while, Lola seems to be this worldly girl who captures everyone’s attention.

2. Lola’s refusal to acknowledge her feelings for Cricket sends her in a relentless circle dance. She goes from not wanting to say how she feels. To hiding her actual feelings from Max and Cricket. Then, when she finally gets to the point where she can’t hide her feelings  anymore, Lola has to confront Max and he breaks her heart and leaves her in ultra-goth mode (which, she vehemently denies being in).

3. By the novel’s end, the only thing left to do is to “tidy up” and write a final romance sequence for Lola and Cricket……but wait!…..Perkins decides to go the extra mile and spice things up by giving Lola a final chance to showcase her clothing designs in the form of Calliope, Cricket’s twin sister who happens to be a figure skater. This chance for Lola to showcase her talent seemed so random in the midst of the story’s ending but, it does give readers the chance to see Lola’s versatility in fashion. Suffice to say, Perkins has Lola rescue the day and then, sends both Cricket and Lola on their blissful way to a ball-like ending with Lola wearing a gown inspired by Marie Antoinette’s fashion and Cricket looking dapper in a regular suit.

Even though I would label this book as a typical YA love story, my biggest gripe with the story was that it didn’t feel authentic. I felt as if I’d read the conversations between Lola and Cricket before and seen the “boy loves girl but, girl’s with another guy” storyline before. Even Lola’s zany outfits just seemed to be pilfered from other books with similar plots. I’m still looking forward to reading Anna & The French Kiss and even Isla & The Happily Ever After but, this book didn’t exactly work me into a frenzy. Yet, If you’re looking for a light, quirky read I’d suggest this book.

Cheers.

With Brothers Like This, Who Needs Boyfriends: A Series Review of The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

I finished reading the first two books sometime in February 2013.

I gave the City of Bones 5 stars and City of Ashes 4.5 stars. I am currently reading City of Glass.

Sooooooo…this book review is going to be a general review of what I think about the series so far.

Things I Like About The Series:

1. Cassandra Clare’s description of the Shadowhunters’ world is phenomenal. We’re talking kickbutt, over the top action, in-depth mythology, jaw dropping magical realm, coo-koo villains type of good. Clare makes her characters believable if not annoying. I never felt as if she was stretching the reality of her world too far to a point where it was like,”ummmmm…okay if you say so, I guess portals can be opened in the sky and weird crap can reign down on Earth.” Her writing style really makes you feel like this magical world she created exist somewhere.

2. Two words: Magnus. Bane. The way that Clare integrates today’s social issues into her novels didn’t feel preachy nor, unrealistic. I knew that Magnus’s character was a fiercely fashionable warlock and I was totally okay with that. His dialogue in the novel was sarcastic and witty and added life in places where the novel could have easily turned into a constant battle loop. I especially looked forward to hearing what outfit this warlock had thrown together for each random adventure the Shadowhunter crew went on.

3. Clare integrated so many supernatural characters into her novel I couldn’t even keep up. The way she used the creatures (i.e., werewolves, demons, demon hunters, etc.) was fresh and exciting as well. Often times, this genre of YA gets saturated with the same type of storylines and for Clare to pick up these time worn archetypes and dust them off and breathe new life into them left me seriously impressed. I was especially in love with Luke and his ragtag gang of werewolves.

4. The fact that these novels aren’t written from a dystopian point of view sent me into a gleeful dance…seriously how many ways are authors and film directors going to imagine our end? The creation by Clare of a world that is slotted into ours made me pretty excited and interested at what would happen next.

Now…..

Things I AB-SO-LUTE-LY ABHORRED About This Series:

1. How many time can Clary fall in love with her brother or someone who is supposed to be her brother? I seriously need her to be given a portable family tree so that she can know who is and who isn’t her family so she can stop exchanging saliva with her brothers. smh Even if her brothers/psuedo-brothers are extra fwine incest is still disgusting. Clary seriously just needs to find a nice werewolf or vampire and settle down away from the Shadowhunter men….speaking of Clary…

2. Once again…smh…Clary’s character is seriously one of the more annoying female leads that I’ve seen in YA. In the beginning, I was totally rooting for her but somewhere between the second book’s end and the third book’s beginning, I became frustrated with her outside of her above mentioned tendency. It seems to me like Clary suffers from “helpless syndrome,” an affliction that gets handed to pretty female characters who really have no real weight in stories except to be the damsel in distress and get thrown around the story by authors to drive books’ action. Clary’s character needs to be schooled in Shadowhunting 101 or giving training in her new “gift” so that she can be made useful instead of forcing everybody into uncomfortable situations with her helplessness since she needs to be rescued every few chapters.

3. I sometimes feel as if Clare is dragging certain things out and could skim a good 100/200 pages from each novel. There are times when I have to refrain from skipping ahead due to Clare’s longwindedness.

4. Valentine’s character probes a question I’ve always had about men who become evil dictators. At what point in these men’s rise to power do their followers/society not realize…hmmm…this man is a psycho? I swear Valentine’s back story made me skeptical that absolutely NO one saw the telltale signs that this man was fifty shades of cray. Even Jace defends his “father” to a fault causing me to want to shake him and yell, “WAKE-UP!, HE IS CRAAAAAAAZY!”…But, I digress.

Love it or Hate it, Clare’s depiction of life as a shadowhunter is totally making me want to dig into the back of my closet and pull out my black hoodie along with my black converse and ride into the night to hunt demons…ok maybe just ride on over to my local Half Price Bookstore but, still, I totally love this series.

Sidenote: How many city’s are in the Shadowhunter world?

Reading Fairy Tales As An Adult: Cinder By Marissa Meyer #BookReview

Note: Minor spoilers are included in this review

Quote from the book, Cinder:

"On the fifth step, she heard the bolts snap. The wires tore loose, like tendons stretched to the max. She felt the loss of power at the base of her calf...." - Marissa Meyer

I gave this novel 5 stars! Cinder was EVERYTHING!

You know how you see certain books in other people’s reviews and just side-eye the book and think, “really?… how old are you again? Fairy tales are for kids!” Yeah…This was one of those times where I was totally wrong!


Cinder’s story starts two centuries into the future after Earth has gone threw a destructive Fourth World War and the world is broken into new factions known as The Earthen Nations and their enemy, Luna a.k.a “The Moon.”In what we would now consider to be Asia, Cinder, a cyborg girl lives in New Beijing and works as a mechanic. Orphaned at a young age and lacking a sufficient memory of her childhood, she is adopted by the Linh family and taken in as their third daughter. However, once her stepfather dies after falling ill with the Leutomitis Plague, Cinder’s life becomes a fictional Hell. Not knowing who she really is, Cinder lives life as an outcast and her stepmother’s personal verbal punching bag. Yet, things start to look up one day when the Prince of the Eastern Commonwealth (a.k.a Asia) stops by her mechanic booth and gets her to fix his droid. From there, the fun begins. Love sparks start flying and secrets become the backdrop to a kick butt storyline.

Things that I enjoyed about this story:
1. Marissa Meyer seems to have thoroughly thought out what pieces of the Cinderella fairytale she would use to create her story. Instead of just extracting the whole tale, Meyer takes what she needs and leaves the rest of the tale alone. Her story never feels as if it was written between the lines of the Grimm brother’s fairytale or in between the scenes of the Disney film adaptation. Meyer’s story takes on a life of its own standing in the forefront in a saturated genre of literature where most stories have already been re-written to death. Her characters are well thought out and so is her setting for the story. Which brings me to point #2…

2. The setting of Meyer’s story made me extremely happy due to me not really being a fan of dystopian novels. I always feel as if dystopian writers are trying to prove something when they write about worlds that have gone wrong in their quest for perfection/one country dominance/etc.. Yet, Meyers makes me feel as if this world has naturally evolved even though she makes it clear that their was once a war that took place. Unlike her contemporaries though, she doesn’t force the issue of gore and death or other bad things upon the reader.

3. The technology in this novel was so cool! I really felt like the portscreens were really just amped up smart phones and this made me a little giddy about where technology might go in the future (LOL I know…how very nerdy of me). Cinder’s BFF/Sidekick was one of my favorite characters. Iko, a humorous droid kept me laughing continuously whenever she oogled over the Prince or did some other human-like thing to cheer her buddy.Also, the ball scene where Cinder drives the car through New Beijing’s streets seriously amused me. LMBO It was like a slight PSA about what’ll happen if we don’t learn to clean-up our Earth and recycle and all that Jazz.

4. The ending was also my favorite part of the novel besides the ball scene when Cinder danced with the Prince/Emperor. The fact that Cinder is ended with her in jail makes me giddy at what’s going to happen next. I always feel like the best stories end with the character in a hard place.

Overall, Cinder was an excellent read. That I am glad that I picked up. I am now a true believer that fairy tales are not just for kids.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer #BookReview

I gave this book 3.75 stars…Yeah, I know I shouldn’t have been so harsh but, the book lover in me couldn’t let certain details of the story fall by the wayside.


The premise of Scarlet is interesting and promising however, Marissa Meyer seems to be trying to either a) give too much detail on Scarlet’s search for her grandmother or b) have added too much fluff along this storyline. When reading Scarlet’s part of the novel I found myself wrestling not to skip ahead to the next chapter.

*****SPOILER***** The fact that she spends most of the time looking for her grandmother yet, there was no actual action until half-way through the novel was problematic for me. I understand that the Wolf pack let her father go to “warn” her/string her along but, the whole idea that no harm would fall on her until 3 weeks later is a little sketchy to me. Which brings me to my next problem with this story…Wolf.

Wolf’s character was hot and cold for me. I loved the parts of his personality that were somewhat childlike and curious however, when he got to the point where he became less transparent with Scarlet and started to back away/fall into her advances I became frustrated. Meyer’s formation of this character lacked something on this front because, I felt as if Wolf was holding back from the reader. To rectify this issue in further installments, I would suggest Meyer’s give Wolf his own chapters so the reader can hear his thoughts and understand his motives first hand instead of through Scarlet’s point of view.

Unlike, Cinder and Kai, Scarlet and Wolf’s romance while somewhat adorable and promising did not cause me to be emotionally invested in what was happening to them like when I read Cinder and Kai’s story. With Scarlet and Wolf I found myself yelling at them (mostly Scarlet) to get it together! Scarlet’s mind seemed to be one tracked and outside of that, her likeability as a character was a few notches lower than what I’d give Cinder due to her not really getting a back story outside of the “privileged kid abandoned by divorced parents who gets sent to live with her grandma in the country then has to grow a pair to rescue said grandma from the bad guys” storyline. Usually, when a character’s loved one gets taken, you understand their motives but, in this novel I felt as if Scarlet was just searching for her grandma because she had nothing else to do.

I really love Melissa Meyer’s creation of Cinder and Scarlet’s world and can’t wait til Cress and Winter come out. I personally hope Meyer’s gives Thorne and Wolf more speaking chapters so that I can get to know them better.

Predictions:
1. I am convinced that the girl who talked to Cinder in the first book through D-COMM is actually the Dr.’s daughter who is also made Thaumaturge Sybil’s slave. I think she is Cress and the next novel will follow her on Lunar and show her interacting more with Cinder.

2.I really want Cinder to apprehend an Earthen satellite or even just a netfeed to broadcast to the Earthen nations that she is really Princess Selene. I feel like her doing this BEFORE Queen Levana and Emperor Kai’s wedding would totally shake things up a bit and add some kick to the next novel.

Lastly, is anybody else wondering how long it’s going to take Kai to figure out who Cinder actually is? I swear something should have clicked in his head 350 pages ago why Queen Levana really wants Cinder. I mean seriously why hasn’t she asked for any other Lunar to be returned to her. GET IT TOGETHER KAI!