Apr 24, 2013

Review | The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Series: N/A
Genre: YA - Contemporary
Publication: 01.10.2012 by Dutton Books
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

"Some infinities are bigger than other infinities."

This is the first book in a long time that has made me feel like ASKJA!!AWKIRHAIG♥A!!♥♥! It makes all those mediocre/bad books I've read recently completely worth it. What else can I say that you haven't already read elsewhere? Nothing. You've probably read it all. Simply put: this book is awesome. It made me feel; I laughed and I cried. Oh, how I cried. And when I finished it, I looked at life a little different.

This was my first John Green book and to be completely honest, I am glad I waited. I waited for several of his books to be released, and for the hype to be over when this one was released, and then I waited some more. And when I read this, it was perfect. Like many others, I read this book rather quickly and I even skipped my morning class one day so I could finish it. It finally makes sense why everyone always recommended John Green.

Hazel and Augustus are a perfect pair and I loved them. They are both witty and intelligent, and best of all real. Obviously they are both fictional characters, but they feel real. Hazel is so strong, and Augustus is completely honest and awkward. I adored them both.

I also can't not mention everyone else in this book: Isaac (Augustus best friend,) Augustus' parents, Hazel's parents, and of course, Van Houten and Lidewij. They are all such an important part of this story that makes it all the more real.

When I came to the last page of this book, I turned it expecting more. And there wasn't anything more. So I closed the book, I laid in bed and cried. I cried because it was so beautiful. I cried because I was done with it and it was so unfair. But what else can you expect from a cancer book? Yes, it is a book about cancer. But there is so much more than just that. It is unlike anything I have ever read and I will treasure it forever.

Seriously, nothing I write can explain how much this book touched my heart. If you haven't read it, make sure you do. This book needs to be a part of your life too.

Psst: I loved this book so much I am giving away a copy of it here

Apr 18, 2013

Review | Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Title: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
Series: N/A
Genre: YA - Contemporary
Publication: 05.09.2006 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian’s, a boys' school that's pretends it's coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an impossibly dorky accordion player. The boys are no better, from Thomas, who specializes in musical burping, to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can't seem to stop thinking about.

Then there's Francesca's mother, who always thinks she knows what's best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling of who she really is. Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, hersocial life and—hardest of all—herself.

Thoughts: This is one of those books that I picked up only because it was on audio. Sure, it sounded like something I would enjoy, but I really had no idea what to expect. Saving Francesca was different than what I thought it would be, but overall, I enjoyed it.

We are introduced to Francesca who goes to a former all-boy-school that she hates because all her friends went elsewhere. Her family is struggling with her mother’s depression. Her mother, who controlled and managed their life, suddenly falls apart and can’t seem to get out of bed and now, Francesca has to learn to take charge and help around as much as possible.

Francesca is a likable character, somewhat. She’s snarky, funny, sometimes spontaneous and really protective of her brother. But she can also be quite na├»ve about several aspects of her life, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I found a bit frustrating at first. As for the secondary characters; there was a ton! While I found the amount of characters confusing at first (I stopped trying to figure out who was who somewhere around the fourth or fifth chapter,) I found each character unique and interesting by the time I was able to grasp who they were.

“I can't believe I said it out loud. The truth doesn't set you free, you know. It makes you feel awkward and embarrassed and defenseless and red in the face and horrified and petrified and vulnerable. But free? I don't feel free. I feel like shit.” 

The best part about Saving Francesca is probably the humor. While the book revolves around a more serious topic, there are many laugh out loud moments throughout. My favorite part was definitely the writing style. I hadn’t read anything by Marchetta before, but I can definitely say that I look forward to reading other books by her.

“Where did this come from? Do you know what this is? Luca is going to sneak out of bed in the middle of the night and squirt it on his tongue. It's like drugs for ten-year-olds. Today it's Ice Magic. Tomorrow, heroin.” 

While I was a little uninterested at first, I think my attention was finally captured when a love interest is introduced. Romance doesn’t play an important part in the story. It has a minor role but I felt that when that part is introduced, it really starts the development of Francesca’s character. I can’t say I really liked the love interest all that much (he was kind of an idiot and a jerk) but we get to see more of the real Francesca after their first few encounters.

“Do you think people have noticed that I'm around?"

"I notice when you're not. Does that count?” 

Even though Francesca has to deal with her mother’s depression throughout the book, I had a hard time relating to her through these difficulties. I have never dealt with depression or with someone who is depressed, but I would have still been able sympathize with what was going on. I didn’t though. At least, I didn’t until the end, when we finally understand what was really going on and Francesca learns some truths that were kept from her.

Overall: Saving Francesca is about growing up, family and learning who your real friends are. It's about learning to be yourself. It's about a teen who has to deal with real life situations, but with enough humor to offer a less serious tone to the book. I am sure contemporary fans will enjoy this one, and definitely recommend it.

Apr 16, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday | Rewind: Ten Characters (and Literary Figures) that I'd Name My Children After

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Hey guys! I didn't mean to be absent so much last week but you know how it goes, I got caught up with life and stuff. Anyways, this week's Top Ten Tuesday is the bloggers choice, so I decided to go ahead and pick the Top Ten Literary Names I'd Name My Children After. This topic seems like a fun and kind of silly one, since I don't know if a) I will have children one day and b) if I will actually name them after these literary characters. But to be honest, some of these are choices that I would really really choose for my children if I had some.

1.Atticus [To Kill A Mockingbird]: This is one of those real life choices that I have even discussed with my boyfriend about. It will most likely be a middle name, but I almost like it better as a first name.
2. Jane [Jane Austen]: After reading Pride and Prejudice, I fell in love with Jane Austen. While I haven't read all her books, I have read enough to know I will love her forever. 
3. Serenity and/or Zoe [Serenity]: Okay, so this one is more based on the show than anything else, and is another one of those real life choices. But it is book related, kind of :)
4. Paul [How to Kill a Rockstar]: Because he was awesome and I loved this book and it's music related. 
5. Jesse or Miles or Tuck [Tuck Everlasting]: This is one of my all-time favorite books and I think if I had to choose one book to name my children after, it would have to be this one. 
6. Davy [Welcome to Temptation]: I adored him, really. And this is one of my favorite books of all time. 
7. Adam [If I Stay]: Because this book ripped my heart out.
8. Augustus or just Gus [The Fault in Our Stars]: Need I say more?
9. Daniel [My Name is Memory]: This is one of those books that I still talk about even though it's been years since I read it because it is still so very special to me. 
10. Sam [Shiver]: I thought this book was super cute and even though I didn't cry, it still meant a lot to me. 

Did anyone notice that the majority of my list consisted of male names? I've always wanted boys. Haha. 
What Top Ten did you choose this week? Leave some links below and I'll make sure to stop by yours too!

Apr 10, 2013

\\ Blog Tour \\ Review + Giveaway | Surface by Tiffany Daune [CLOSED]

Title: Surface by Tiffany Daune
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult - Paranormal
Publication: February 1, 2013 by Noble Young Adult
Format: E-book
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Synopsis: Bound to the water bound to land, a Siren’s soul will never be safe on either side of the ocean’s surface. Hidden beneath the rolling waves lies the secret to Theia’s past and as she unveils each haunting truth, she realizes the last seventeen years of her life have been a lie. Now, drawn into a mysterious new world and with nowhere to turn, Theia must place her trust in Luc, a beautiful boy who stops her heart with each dazzling smile, but even his unearthly charm can’t hide the truth—he has secrets— dark secrets binding him to his world—an underwater world where Theia will never belong—a world determined to destroy her soul.

Thoughts: While not overly fond of the mermaid books I have read, I definitely wanted to give them another shot to see if I could like them. With it's beautiful cover, Surface caught my eye instantly. After reading over the synopsis, I knew I wanted to give it a shot. Surface, while not causing me to fall in love with mermaid folklore, definitely gave me a more positive look on these paranormal creatures, and made me want to check out other mermaid/siren books.

Surface is action packed and detailed from the start, throwing the reader into a scary situation which leads Theia, our protagonist, to learn the real truth about herself. Learning that she's a siren didn't really shock her as much as I expected it to, but partly this is because her few memories of her father were only by the water. With the help of Luc, an extremely handsome Artagasian, she learns more about their history and how she is in danger, not only from others sea creatures, but humans as well. I was mildly put off with how easily she handled learning every thing she learned, but I brushed it off as I read on to find out more.

The story switches points of views among several characters, surprising me at first, but in the end I found it added a lot more to the story. Since we are able to learn more about the characters and their intentions, instead of getting a one sided story, I was able to connect to several of the secondary characters who play pretty important roles in developing the story. The more we learn about every character, the more interesting the book became and, really, this is what captivated my attention most.

I was a little disappointed that some things were not explained in more detail (like how the underwater world really works? I mean, Theia doesn't notice when she is first underwater, and I thought that was kind of weird.) But I did like how the author offered a lot of information (but not an overwhelming amount) on the differences among Artagasian, mermaids, and sirens, along with an fascinating history to back it up.

I don't want to go into too much detail about the story because even though it is short, it presents a lot of interesting surprises that I would rather not spoil, and offers an interesting ending that I really liked.

Overall: With twists and turns, a sweet boy and some romance (which does happen to be kind of quickly formed between the two characters - insta-love, anyone?) interesting characters and back stories to help bond each one with the reader, and an interesting take on mermaids/sirens, I definitely enjoyed Surface. I am sure fans of paranormal and mermaid books will find this one a good read to dive into as well, and I look forward to reading more from Daune in the future.

Thanks to Xpresso Book Tours, you can enter for a chance to win a brand new e-reader, a Starbucks or Amazon giftcard, or your very own e-copy of Surface!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out the other stops and follow the rest of the tour for more chances to enter.

Apr 9, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday | Favorite Books I Read Before I Was A Blogger

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

1. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling: I started reading this series when I was twelve years old and by the time I finished it, I still had years before I would actually begin blogging. All the books are still my favorites, of course.
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: I borrowed a copy from the library, just because. I had a few hours before going to work one day, so I drove to a nearby park and read and read. I got so caught up in the story I was late to work that day. I have loved it ever since.
3. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: This book took me about a million years to finish (I think it was like, three months, or something) but I loved every second of it. Sure, sometimes I wanted to fling it across the room, but that only made me love it more. One day, I will re-read it. 
4. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume: This is the only Blume book I have ever read and I picked it up on a whim at my local pharmacy. I could not get enough of it, and convinced my best friend to try it too. She loved it also. It has been a favorite for many years. 
5. The Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn: Another random pharmacy buy (before I was a blogger, I rarely went to bookstores! *le gasp*) I had no idea it was an entire series, so I accidentally picked up the last book, first. I devoured it. And then I realized I still had seven more books on this family to read. I was in heaven. I devoured those books, too. The only series I have ever finished in a matter of weeks.
6. The Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer: Okay, so I only read the first three books before I became a blogger. Breaking Dawn was one of my first few reviews here! I read Twilight before New Moon was published and I almost died in anticipation. Same goes for the other two books. I read these books faster than I had read any book in years. They sparked my interest for Young Adult. And the rest, is history.
7. God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo: I picked up a copy of this book for two bucks at a thrift store only because I liked the quote on the cover. Little did I know that this book would be so amazing within. It blew me away. 
8. Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie: This was my first adult Romance at the young age of thirteen. I flew through this book and then became addicted to all romance novels, and all books written by Jennifer Crusie. I own all her books; the only author under this category. (Also, this was another pharmacy buy!) 
9. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks: I saw the movie first. While I don't love the book as much as I love the movie, it's still one of my favorites. 
10. Never Too Much by Lori Foster: Another addicting romance that I couldn't get enough of. While I didn't particularly like any of the other books I read by this author, this one definitely stood out for me. And I'm pretty sure I bought this one at my local pharmacy. 

What are your Top Ten this Tuesday? Leave your link below :)