“Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.”
Rating: 4 stars
A few months ago, my mom was walking around Walmart with Nora. Of course, she stopped to look at the book section like always. She picked up John Green’s new book, The Fault in Our Stars, and asked Nora if she had read it yet. Upon opening the front cover of the book, she noticed that it was a signed copy. As many people many already know, Green’s latest novel hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list this summer before he even finished writing the book. Green released the title through his Twitter and Tumblr page and then announced that he would sign every pre-ordered book and the entire first print-run. So that’s the story of how we ended up buying a signed copy of John Green’s new book from a Walmart in Baltimore.
John Green always makes you think deeper and in this moving novel about love, dreams, and making the most of life it’s hard not to. The main character Hazel is sharp and intelligent like all of Green’s characters, but has a softer feminine side as well. There’s a delicate balance between her lively personality and her lurking illness. Even though the book is essentially about sickness and loss, there is so much love and life between the characters that there is little room for sadness. This book will no doubt leave you in tears wondering, as always, how John Green can describe the indescribable.
“Josh and Emma are about to discover themselves–fifteen years in the future
It’s 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They’ve been best friends almost as long–at least, up until last November, when everything changed. Things have been awkward ever since, but when Josh’s family gets a free AOL CD-ROM in the mail, his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they’re automatically logged onto Facebook . . . but Facebook hasn’t been invented yet. Josh and Emma are looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.
Their spouses, careers, homes, and status updates–it’s all there. And every time they refresh their pages, their futures change. As they grapple with the ups and downs of what their lives hold, they’re forced to confront what they’re doing right–and wrong–in the present.”
Rating: 3 stars
The Future of Us had an incredible premise, but shaky execution. The story spirals out of control in too many different directions and the ending becomes obvious halfway through the book. Emma and Josh, the main characters narrated by Mackler and Asher respectively, don’t initially come off very likable. Emma seems shallow and self-involved while Josh appears kind of pathetic. As the book progresses, the characters begin to round out, but the plot begins to decay. As a kid of mainly “the aughts”, I didn’t catch many of the 90′s references. Perhaps the book would score higher with a slightly older audience. Despite my criticism of the characters and story arc, I did look forward to reading this book when I first heard about it and would recommend it to a reader looking for a brief, interesting read.
Our little brother did a video review of Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary for us. Enjoy!
Reflecting back on 2012, I’ve read some amazing books and some not so amazing books. Here are my top picks:
1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (2011)
This was absolutely my favorite book of the year. It’s probably the best book I’ve read in the past few years. I’ve already read it three times since I got it in June. There are at least three copies of it in my house, two of which are signed.
2. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)
This book wasn’t published in 2011, but I read it in 2011 as part of an independent study in British Literature for my English class. It’s a haunting view of an increasingly controversial topic.
3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (2011)
This book is unbelievably sensory, very strange, surprisingly lacking in plot, but still manages to be one of the best books I’ve read this year.
4. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling (2011)
You probably recognize her from The Office (I didn’t… #underarock), but Mindy Kaling’s talents expand beyond the small screen. Her debut book is perfectly hilarious.
5. Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington (2011)
Alice Bliss is a riveting, tragically realistic portrayal of an adolescent girl and her family that has been torn apart by war. Keep tissues nearby.
6. Where She Went by Gayle Forman (2011)
Where She Went is the sequel to If I Stay, which is also really good. It’s also told from a male point-of-view (A++ in my book) and it’s probably the only YA (not including crossover fiction) that I truly enjoyed.
The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation by Elizabeth Letts
The Eighty-Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts (or as I like to call her “Mommy”) is a stunning masterpiece of well-researched and poetically executed prose. You should read it. I hear it’s good. On a scale of 1-5, it’s a lucky number seven. A real PRIME piece of literature.
Summary from Amazon:
“Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”
Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!
In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.”
Rating: 5 stars
Well-known for her role on the hit TV show The Office, Mindy Kaling shows off her striking brand of hilarity in her debut book. Chock-full of hysterical anecdotes about her life and tidbits of her personal philosophy, Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me? (And Other Concerns) is an absolute gem. Her recollections of an awkward spell spent on Saturday Night Live include encounters with famous funny-women Kristen Wiig, Amy Poehler, and Tina Fey that will have you roaring with laughter. Kaling’s voice is unique in that she succeeds in being completely honest, but still manages to be likable. This quote from the New York Times sums it up for me: “She’s like Tina Fey’s cool little sister. Or perhaps… the next Nora Ephron.”
“James “Hercules” Martino has until the end of the summer (a.k.a. two weeks) to accomplish the twelve tasks given to him by his Uncle Anthony. The tasks will take him to the far reaches of Baltimore, lead him to a Beautiful and Unattainable Woman, and change the way he sees his past, present, and future. Spare in words, but abundant in big ideas and laugh out loud humor, James Proimos has crafted a novel for any teenager who’s ever had a complicated relationship with a parent. In other words, everyone.”
Rating: 4 stars
12 Things to Do Before You Crash and Burn is a quick, but immensely enjoyable read. Centered around a to-do list twelve items long given to him by his Uncle, each chapter follows Herc through his hilarious and endearing antics to return an old copy of Winnie-the-Pooh to a college girl he saw on the train and ultimately complete his list. Herc’s Superbad-like manner of speaking and his snarky sense of humor results in lines like “I hip-check the old broad…” Even though it only took me about 45 minutes to read, I thoroughly enjoyed 12 Things to Do Before You Crash and Burn. I’m a softie for a good “boy book” and I highly recommend this to those in search of a male hero who will actually make you laugh out loud.
If you haven’t heard about the Stop Online Piracy Act/Protect IP Act then now is your time to get educated. Although this is a book blog, this issue affects every single Internet user (translate: everyone). Essentially, this bill will allow the US government to censor the Internet. It’s a lot more complicated than that, but here are some links that will give you the basic idea:
Petition your congressmen and women by clicking here.
PROTECT THE INTERNET.