Archive for March, 2012

29
Mar
12

Scootsa1000’s #CBR4 Review #11: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Even though I have a pretty big stack of finished books that need reviews, today I decided to write about The Fault in Our Stars while the tears on my face were still wet.  So many people have already written about this book (and written about the crying), and I don’t really have much to add, but I’ll do my best.

For those few who don’t know, TFIOS is the story of Hazel and Augustus, who meet in a teen support group for kids with cancer.  Hazel has terminal cancer in her thyroid and lungs, and always has her oxygen tank hooked up and totes it around with her.  She knows she will never get better and spends her time watching reality TV with her parents and obsessively reading the same book over and over.  Augustus is a cancer survivor (but he did lose his leg to it) and is beautiful and funny.

They bond over books and their quick wit brings them together fast and furiously.  Their love story is beautiful and real.  And so very, very sad.  I had to put the book down a few times when I couldn’t even see the words anymore.

I’ve read that the story and the Hazel character were inspired by a beautiful young girl named Esther Earl (you can read her story here).

And I’m curious to know — based upon the subplot with Peter Van Houten — how many writers get inquiries from fans (who are ill) about how some of their popular series/characters/books will end up.  I’ve read enough Stephen King to know that he was constantly bombarded with questions from readers who would never make it to the end of the Dark Tower, dedicated fans who wanted to know what happened to the characters that they loved, and that he wasn’t able to tell them, because he didn’t always have an answer for them.

I remember seeing this linkon the IO9 website a few weeks ago, “Scifi author spoils his entire book series for terminally ill fan”.  The video is heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time, and I thought of it when I finished the story of Hazel and Augustus.  And yeah, the video made me cry, too.

 

24
Mar
12

Bunnybean’s #CBR4 Review #10: The World of Pooh by A.A. Milne

The World of Pooh has all of the stories about Winnie the Pooh and his friends (Piglet, Owl, Kanga, Roo, Tigger, Rabbit, Eeyore, and, of course, Christopher Robin).  They live in the Hundred Acre Wood.

I have seen lots of Winnie the Pooh movies and videos, but I liked this book better.  I liked Pooh’s little songs he would sing to himself (“How sweet to be a cloud/Floating in the blue/Its makes him very proud/To be a little cloud”), and I loved the pictures.

My favorite story is the first one in the book, when Pooh hears some bees buzzing and thinks to himself, “Bees make honey, and I like honey” and he decides to climb all the way up a huge bee tree, pretending to be a bee, so he can get the honey.  But, he falls down.  He calls Christopher Robin, who helps him float up to the bees with a balloon (Pooh was pretending he was a little black cloud). This doesn’t work either.  When he is covered in mud and has fallen down twice, Pooh tells Christopher Robin that “these are the wrong sorts of bees” and he goes home for some of his own honey.

Some of the other stories that you might remember are when Piglet meets a Heffalump, when Pooh gets stuck inside Rabbit’s door, when Tigger moves to the forest, and when Eeyore has a birthday party (and gets a popped balloon in an empty honey jar — which he really liked — as a present).

My copy of this book used to look just like this picture, but when I was a baby, I ripped off the cover, and now our book is just plain (with a few bees printed on it).

23
Mar
12

Scootsa1000’s #CBR4 Review #10: Legend by Marie Lu

Day and June live in a future version of Los Angeles, where flooding has killed millions and destroyed huge chunks or our coastline. California is now part of “The Republic” — a militaristic society on the west coast of the former United States — and constantly at battle with “The Colonies” on the east coast.  Day is a 15 year old fugitive, one of the most wanted criminals in the entire Republic, and June is a prodigy, the youngest member of the military group ruling LA.

When Day is suspected of murdering June’s older brother, she is assigned the task of catching him and bringing him to justice.  June goes undercover to befriend Day and his ward, Tess, and as she spends time with him, realizes that her brother’s murder may not be completely black and white — maybe Day is innocent and maybe the Republic isn’t as great a place to live and work as June has always been led to believe.

The story is told from alternating points of view, and kudos to Marie Lu for keeping that aspect of the storytelling fresh.  Switching from one narrator to another can often lead to the feeling that the story’s details are repetitive and never ending (I’m looking at you, Ally Condie), but in this case, the details were fresh and the new perspective for each chapter kept the story moving briskly.  However, I felt that the story fell short of its goals.  There was a lot to like — the sparse details of what life was like in the Colonies, why Day’s necklace was so important to him, differences between the rich and the poor, etc.  But mostly I saw missed opportunities, and I have to wonder how much is due to the writing, and how much of that is due to the editing…Do publishers push YA authors to put out trilogies these days?  This book is supposed to be the first in a series, and maybe it would have been better as one longer book that gave more answers to the many questions raised and then simply dropped and forgotten.

16
Mar
12

Scootsa1000’s #CBR4 Review #9: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I just finished reading The Graveyard Book, which I found in the children’s section of my library, and I started to read it, sitting comfortably in a sunny window seat, while my two year-old played with blocks and puzzles (I love my library), and thought to myself, “it doesn’t get much better than this”.

I don’t know why, but I always feel guilty when I finish a Neil Gaiman book (this is my third and a half — I didn’t finish one) and find that I didn’t LOVE it.  I guess I feel like I’m SUPPOSED to love his stuff…but I just don’t.  I like it just fine, but I don’t love it.  I like him enough that I’ve continued to pick up more of his books, but not enough to call myself a “fan”, or to finish the one book that I put aside when I lost interest.

The Graveyard Book tells the story of Nobody “Bod” Owens, an orphaned baby who’s entire family was brutally murdered by “the Man Jack” in the first pages of the story.  Bod crawls out of his crib and up the hill to the local graveyard, where the ghosts who rest there (along with Silas, the undead caretaker) promise his murdered family that they will look after the boy and protect him from Jack.

Bod grows from a baby to a young man, having adventures both inside and outside of the graveyard, with both the living and the dead.  And he always has the Man Jack in the back of his mind, and Bod wonders how and when he can get revenge for what Jack did to his family.

While I enjoyed the story of Bod’s youth and education in the graveyard, I didn’t love it.  I wanted to be dazzled and delighted, as so many others seem to be by Gaiman, and that’s how I think I’m supposed to feel when I’m reading his books.  But I certainly didn’t hate it.  It was an enjoyable and realistic (once you get past the ghosts, etc.) coming of age story, and one that I’d recommend to Bunnybean in a few years (at 7 years old, I don’t think she could handle the murder of the family).

FYI, the book I never finished was American Gods, and I do intend to try it again someday…I keep hoping that one of the books will be the ONE for me.

15
Mar
12

Kiss from a rose

I’m glad that Community is starting again tonight.

 

05
Mar
12

Bunnybean’s #CBR4 Review #9: Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote a whole series of books about her life in the 1800’s (there is a TV show called Little House on the Prairie that is based on these books, and so far I’ve watched one episode.  I want to watch some more!).  The first book is called Little House in the Big Woods.  Its about a little girl named Laura who lives in the woods in Wisconsin with her Ma, Pa, older sister Mary, and baby sister Carrie.

Laura tells all kinds of stories about her life.  Mostly about how they lived back then: how Pa had to kill pigs and deer for their food, and how they used every single little bit of the animals and didn’t waste a bit.  They used every part: some for food, some to make clothes or shoes, and some to trade at the store.  Every week they made their own butter from the milk they got from their cows.  Ma sewed all of their clothes and Pa made them little toys out of wood.  They made their own cheese and even maple syrup!

They would play games and tell stories at night, and sometimes Pa would play his fiddle for the girls.  Sometimes they would pile up in their wagon and go visit their cousins or grandparents and one time they even went to a real town — Laura had never been to a store or a town before (the man who owned the store gave them lollypops, and Laura was so amazed, she couldn’t even say thank you).

My favorite part was that Mary had her own doll, but Laura didn’t.  Instead, she had a piece of corn in a corn husk that she pretended was a doll.  That made me laugh!

Life was hard in the big woods and they all worked hard all year long, but sometimes they had fun, too.  Laura’s grandparents had a dance at their house one time, and everyone had a great time watching grandma doing a jig!

The next book is called Farmer Boy (I already started reading this one), and it is about Laura’s future husband Almonzo, growing up on a farm.  He eats so much!

04
Mar
12

more than a feeling…

I just heard this song on the radio.  And well, you know…




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