Friday, March 29, 2013

Book Sale!

I was browsing Barnes and Nobles website today and noticed that they are having a sale on Award-Winning books.  All books on this list are buy one, get one 50% off (through April 3).  I am in no way affiliated with Barnes and Noble; I just like books.  And I especially like books that are on sale, so I thought I would share about them here.

Here are a few books on the list that I have read and would recommend:
1.  Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
2.  The Road by Cormac McCarthy
3.  Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
4.  Atonement by Ian McEwan
5.  The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

As I was looking through this list of 1498(!) books, I realized that I have not read too many award winning books!  So here are a few books on the list that I want to read (to add to my total of award winning books read):
1.  The Round House by Louise Erdrich
2.  Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
3.  So Big by Edna Ferner
4.  Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Tragedy Paper

The Tragedy Paper
by Elizabeth Laban

Genre:  Young Adult
Pages:  320
Published:  1/8/13 by Random House Children's Books
Format:  ebook

My rating:
3 out of 5 stars

When Duncan arrives in his dorm room for his senior year at the Irving school, he is greeted with a gift from the room's former inhabitant, an albino named Tim Macbeth.  Tim's gift for Duncan is a set of audio CDs, on which he has recorded the story of his tragic senior year and the love of his life, Vanessa.  As Duncan attempts to write his own Tragedy Paper for his senior English class, he listens to Tim's story and learns more fully about what tragedy really means.

I found this book to be interesting at first, but I felt like it lost a lot of steam at the end.  The entire book is focused on the tragedy that happened to Tim during his senior year.  The incident is referenced constantly throughout the book.  And while the reader does have an idea as to what happened, the exact details of the event are not revealed until late in the book.  This reveal was anti-climactic, and the rest of the book went downhill quickly from there.  I think the author was trying to impart some profound thought with this story, but I didn't get it.  When the book ended, I was left thinking, "that's it?"  I was expecting something more and bigger from the ending.

I did enjoy the story from the point of view of an albino character.  I don't believe I have read a story about an albino before, and I found it to be interesting.  I also liked the relationship between Tim and Vanessa, and I was sad that it was not more fully developed.  Perhaps their unfinished story is part of the "tragedy" element of this story, but it left me unsatisfied in the end.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green

Genre:  Young Adult
Pages:  336
Published:  1/10/12 by Penguin Group
Format:  ebook

My rating:
5 out of 5 stars

The Fault in Our Stars was my favorite book read in 2012. It is on the list for my favorite books of all time. I recently read the book again for the second time, and I was curious to see if it was still a favorite upon a second reading. And it is definitely still a favorite!

It is so hard to write a review about a book I loved so much. This is the story of Hazel and Augustus. Both are teenagers; both have cancer. They meet, fall in love, and...well, I won't spoil the ending. It is not the most original concept for a story. But the story is told in such spectacular fashion that it is original in its own sense.

One of my favorite things about John Green's writing is also one of the things that I see is most often critiqued about his writing. His teenage characters always speak with extreme wit and cleverness, and they always have impressive vocabularies. I see many people cite this as a fault in the writing, because it is not a realistic portrayal of teenagers. My response to this is twofold:
1. It seems unfair to assume that teenagers are not witty and do not have large vocabularies. I am sure that there are teenagers who exist who are capable of speaking this way. I have a feeling John Green himself may have been a teenager like that.
2. Even if it is unrealistic, it is SO FUN to read! Maybe these teens don't talk like any teenagers (or adults!) that I know, but reading their dialogue is highly enjoyable and entertaining. Not to mention I almost always learn a few new words along the way.

I think any story that is told about teenagers with cancer is bound to be sad. Yes, there are many sad moments in The Fault in Our Stars. I have heard many people describe it as depressing. But I don't think depressing is a fair term to describe this book. In fact, I think it is far from depressing. There is so much joy and happiness to be found in this story. I felt like the whole purpose of this book was to encourage us to live life fully. A short life can still be a good and worthwhile life.

If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it. I feel it is one of the few books that truly lives up to all the hype surrounding it!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Wool, Omnibus Edition

Wool (Omnibus Edition)
by Hugh Howey

Genre:  Science Fiction
Pages:   550
Published:  4/6/2012 by Broad Reach Publishing
Format:  ebook

My Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

Wool is a five part story about a group of people living in an underground silo in a post-apocalyptic world. The members of the silo live in a society of strict rules and regulations. Those who fail to comply or who express a desire to get out of the silo are sent to "cleaning" or in other words, certain death. Yet, a few brave men and women decide to rise up against the forces that be and risk their lives to uncover the secrets of the silo.

This was a highly entertaining and readable series. I really enjoyed it, and I felt that it was very creative and interesting. There were several scenes, especially in Book #5, where I was on the edge of my seat and unable to put the book down...and also looking over my shoulder to make sure no one was there!

I wish I would have written a review after each part of the book, because I am having a hard time remembering what happened in what part. I believe that Book #2 was my least favorite, as I felt like it wasn't necessary to devote a whole book to that portion of the story. It was a little slow during that part, but once Book #3 started, the story picked up and never stopped!

Monday, March 4, 2013

I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle
by Dodie Smith

Genre:  Classic
Pages:   352
Published:  3/28/99 by St. Martin's Press (reprint)
Format:  paperback

My Rating:
5 out of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this charming book about a poor, eccentric English family living in a crumbling old castle.  The story is told through the journals of 17 year old Cassandra Mortmain.  Cassandra is an endearing narrator, young and witty and sometimes overly dramatic.  I found her to be very Anne Shirley-esque at times, which means I loved her!  She pulled me into her world from her very first words:  "I write this sitting in the sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining board, which I have padded with our dog's blanket and the tea-cosy."  Those words superbly set the tone for the entire novel.

I Capture the Castle is a fairly light and easy read.  It had me smiling often, mostly at the clever and funny ways that Cassandra described everything.  But I think there are some deeper themes in this book.  Several times the topic of Cassandra being "consciously naive" is brought up in the story.  I felt that was true not only about Cassandra but also about the book itself.  While on the surface it could be described as naive and innocent, this is more than just a light-hearted novel.   At its heart, his is a coming of age story, detailing the events that lead Cassandra from childhood to womanhood.  It tackles some serious topics:  love, marriage, poverty, religion.  Yet it never loses its whimsical touch and charming appeal.

I can't find much to critique about this book.  The more I think about it, the more I loved it!