Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Fault In Our Stars

My boyfriend introduced me to Hank and John Green on YouTube, which later got me into their channel CrashCourse. Let me tell you, these are two amazingly brilliant gentlemen. If you haven't had a chance to check them out, I would highly recommend it. After watching a few of their videos, Boyo mentioned John Green's books. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but, when searching for books in Top 100's lists scattered about the interwebs, I found his books. On every. single. list. Not only that, at least three of them. on every. list.

Breaking down, I went for the most popular (and highest rated) of his books: The Fault In Our Stars. I will never be so internally shattered, yet happy that I did.

The story is, firstly, about Cancer, then about an intellectual girl named Hazel Grace whom meets and falls in love with another Cancer, also an intellectual, Augustus Waters. Hazel is dying, she is perpetually hooked up to an oxygen tank which allows her lungs to fill with the necessary amount of life sustaining oxygen her lungs fail at taking in on their own.

Hazel Grace meets Augustus Waters, a charismatic metaphor, at a support group that he attended for his friend Isaac. The plot revolves around a book of a girl with cancer, and leaves the last sentence of the book unfinished, the ending hanging. The two theorize on the book as they get to know each other until one of them, inevitably, dies.

I have never cried so hard reading a book in my life as I did with this book. It was devastatingly haunting and beautiful. It's only mildly predictable, which is wonderful; what makes this book great is it's honesty. There is no bravery in cancer and no beauty. The winner is never really a winner because it isn't something you can beat; only go into remission from. There is no grace in dying. Lastly, no one is exempt.

It's odd and quite a bit daunting to read about 16 year olds, whom are more well versed and educated that most will ever be. The biggest annoyance about the book for me was when Hazel would suddenly break out into a fit of, "like"s. It's like... and, like... Completely out of character with her the rest of the time. I understand that the author was trying to make Hazel out to be more of a stereotypical teenaged girl, but he threw that out the window when he gave her a functioning and learned brain. Everything else had a wonderful flow. I was completely wrapped up in the characters and in the end, it felt like one of my good friends had passed away. The book was realistic in it's events and the undertakings of each.

Absolutely wonderful.

Overall rating: 9/10

Friday, April 4, 2014


After coming down from the excitement of the Hunger Games series, I was desperate to find a similar series of uprisings and factions. Of course, the best way to find new books is through friends, but after ransacking their book ideas for so long, they had nothing.  I was forced to resort to the next best thing. The inter-webs. Which led to Divergent by Veronica Roth. I was thrilled!

Beatrice’s world is broken up into five Factions with each saying that the world would become better with each of their traits. Abnegation (selflessness), Erudite (education), Dauntless (bravery), Candor (truthful), and Amity (peaceful). Each formed with the idea that the world would not have destroyed itself beyond their gates if it they had only had their traits.

She is part of Abnegation; whom devote their lives trying to be truly selfless and humbled, though she finds it hard to be truly selfless like the rest of her family. However, at 16, each member of their society is given a simulation serum, which helps determine what factor they truly belong in. Beatrice’s results are outside the norm, making her a Divergent.

I was remarkably pleased with the writing style and the believability of the faction lives, the reasoning behind each. The plot kept twisting and turning, though we knew our heroine would end up above average as heroines always are. It was intriguing to see the turn of events, how Tris responded to each event and how it shaped her character.

I enjoyed the series! It stayed strong through most of the books (Divergent, Allegiant, and Insurgent), and I will be the first to admit. The ending was truly surprising and had be partially in tears.
In a nutshell:
-Unique storyline
-Adrenaline pumping
-Similar to The Hunger Games
-Four's character breaks from formation and never really recovers.
-Hard to say many with the first book, it's the rest that start to have issues.
Overall Rating: 7/10 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Etiquette and Espionage


All growing up, I imagined being the daughter of a titled Lord and Lady of France or England. At some point, my mom told me about how a “proper lady” scoops her soup away from her body, and then up to her lips. Why that made eating (drinking?) soup proper, I’ll never know, but it did stem a passion for being a well-put together individual, which exuded in a quiet, fairly matured seeming bookworm.

The title alone made me pick up this book, not to mention the steampunk aesthetics. In fact, I didn’t read the premise of the book when I picked it up and started reading.

The idea is simple, yet well played. Set in a Steampunk era, Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger is about a young, rambunctious 14 year old girl, named Sophronia, whom can’t help but getting in trouble. Climbing dumbwaiters (and breaking them for their materials), taking mechanical clocks apart. Typical boy in girl’s garb, she sees no use or need in the art of being a woman when acting a boy is more fun and gratifying. Her mother, Mrs. Temminnick is desperate to reform her daughter, whom gets a scholarship of sorts into Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

There, she finds the Academy is more than what appearances may seem. They do learn the fine art of dance, dress, and of course, etiquette, but also learn to use their feminine wiles to dish out death and espionage.

 The book is, at it's best, alright. The cover attracted me first and foremost, which lead me to glimpse at the title. That was all it took to be placed in my hands for a night's read. The book, however, did not live up to it's covers expectations. Brava to the designer and the person whom thought up the title!
I love steampunk; an avid follower of the Girl Genius Online Comic, and a proper lady at heart (regardless of what my clutzy body will let me be.) whom even studied up on the art of the fan back in highschool! The names bothered me to no end. Not every name in the book had to be laughable or clumsy to imagine saying in your head as you read along. Yes, I understand as a cosplayer that most of the fantasy lies in names, but this book took it a little over the top. 
All in all, I would recommend it for a quick read, and who knows, maybe finish the series. If I come across the other books in a thrift store, I would not be opposed to picking them up as I hate  leaving stories unfinished and grit it out to the bitter end, but would I actively seek it out? No, most likely not.
In a nutshell:
-Finishing school
-Women using their weakness(es) as strengths.
-Naming conventions
-Writing style was on par with 11-14 year olds, rather than the turn it has become.
Overall rating: 6/10

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