Monday, April 15, 2013

#90- Along For The Ride By Sarah Dessen

#90- Along For The Ride

Rating- 8.5/10

Growing up I read all of Sarah Dessens books. Not to say that I am not still growing up, but specifically in high school I really enjoyed the stories that she wrote. Because I decided to re-read even books I had read before in order to give the best reviews, I was saving some of the Dessen books as filler between books I knew I wouldn't enjoy to read. Almost like a breath of fresh air between the fantasy novels. (sorry, just not my choice of genre!)

Along For The Ride is about a girl named Auden, its the summer after high school and she made the decision to go spend it with her father, his new wife, and their new baby-her half sister. They live on the beach in a small touristy town where her father writes his books and teaches at the local college and her step-mom owns a small botique. This sounds like a perfect summer for a typical teenage girl, which Auden is anything but.

Auden's mother is a college professor and her entire life has been surrounded by grown ups, literature, and school related items. She chooses to stay in on a Friday night and read school books and prepare for her future. She has never had a serious boyfriend, never been to a school dance, and generally missed out on many teenage rights of passage. She never considered this a problem until she gets to her dads house this summer after high school.

Auden starts working part time at her stepmothers boutique and while working there finds herself meeting a group of girls, and having an adventurous summer that she never imagined would happen to her. Along with the girls, she meets a boy named Eli, throughout the weeks of hanging out her new friends, together they all decide that she needs to experience a summer of true teenage adventures. With the help of her friends, and most surprising of all, stepmom, she finds a summer that makes up for all of her friday nights spent in her bedroom. 

There isnt much bad to say about Dessen books, she clearly knows what she is doing and is quite good at it. Generally a romance with the added adventures of a few girlfriends and some family drama, its written in a mind of a teenage girl and is very relatable. There just isnt anything bad to say. She writes books that are quick reads, enjoyable stories, and memorable characters and I am always excited to pick up one of her novels. As I said above, a much needed breath of fresh air.

“It shouldn't be easy to be amazing. Then everything would be. It's the things you fight for and struggle with before earning that have the greatest worth. When something's difficult to come by, you'll do that much more to make sure it's even harder--or impossible-- to lose.” 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

#62- Just Listen By Sarah Dessen

#62- Just Listen


I usually really like Sarah Dessen books, in fact that is by far the lowest I have rated any of her's in this project. I found the entire thing to be really cliche.

Just Listen is about a 16 year old girl named Annabel, she is the youngest of three sisters and growing up they have always all differed in everything except for modeling, which their mother got them into when they were young. Annabel being the youngest and sweetest, Whitney being the middle child and seeing the world with a tinge of bitterness, and Kirsten, the oldest, always viewing life with rose colored glasses and a sunny disposition. Guided from their supportive parents they have always been supported in whatever ways they needed.

Annabel is going into her sophomore year of high school at the beginning of the book, having just gone through a rather dramatic fight with her best friend at the start of summer and not having talked to her since. On the first day of school Sophie, her ex-best friend, makes a point to look her in the face, call her a whore, and continue on with her day. Annabel is shocked and outcasted. During lunch she sits on the wall by herself and doesn't have much hope about making any kind of friends that year. Each day, as lunch rolls around she sits on the wall, with no one around except for a boy named Owen. They always keep their distance until one day when he starts a conversation and gives her a ride home from school. Intrigued by his mysterious personality and interesting taste in music, Annabel and Owen start a therapeutic friendship which helps her overcome struggles throughout the year.

Other than the parts just summarized above, the book touches on Annabel's middle sister's eating disorder, her oldest sisters college adventures, and the real reason why Sophie won't talk to her anymore. Ruining a bit of the surprise of this, which isn't exactly a surprise because the minute that I heard that she was outcast for something that happened at an end of summer party I immediately thought of the book speak and wow wouldnt you know it, Annabel was sexually harassed by Sophie's boyfriend. Now while I am by no means trying to down play how serious rape and sexual assault is, I found it incredibly cliche that she wrote another one of those books about losing friends and having a rough year because a drunk boy was a disgusting pig at an end of year party. I thought she stole the concept from Speak (I did check, she wrote this 10 years after Speak was published) and I didn't think the book was better by any means.

I love Sarah Dessen and this book doesn't change that, I like that she references characters from previous novels in her book (for example Remy and Dexter from This Lullaby was mentioned in this book, Dexter's band played at a club that Annabel goes to with Owen) and like how easy her style is to read, I finished this book in two nights just casually reading. I won't judge her future books from this and will continue to enjoy her as an author, I just don't think this was one of her best.

I actually loved this quote in high school and used it on many different facebook posts and even a speech one time for a youth group I was a part of;

“There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you'd better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you'll never understand what it's saying.” 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

#24- Thirteen Reasons Why By Jay Asher

#24- Thirteen Reasons Why


Thirteen Reasons Why is about a boy named Clay. One day he finds a package outside of his door containing 13 cassette tapes and not return label.

Feeling confused and curious he goes to his garage to find an old boom-box to listen to them and see what is going on. After clicking play he realizes that his excitement over the tapes was a mistake, because speaking back to him through this tape is Hannah Baker. Now usually getting a tape made from a girl would be a good thing, that is, if the girl you are receiving the tapes from hadn't committed suicide several weeks before receiving the tapes.

Thinking that this is some kind of messed up joke, but feeling the need to see what the tapes have to say, Clay presses play and listens to her opening dialogue. Included in the package are 13 tapes, filled with the names of 13 people and 13 reasons that she committed suicide. If you are indeed supposed to be receiving these you have gotten a map previously (Clay had gotten one put in his locker a few weeks prior) and it is now your job to listen to these tapes and pass them onto the next person on the list. Hannah threatens that if you don't pass these along, there is a second set of them and they will get out for the rest of the world to know. Put it simply; if you don't pass along these tapes all of your awful secrets could be told to the rest of the world.

With a pit in his stomach and confusion in his heart Clay presses pause to think for a moment, he had never done Hannah wrong, to the best of his knowledge. These tapes can't be meant for him. He will listen and realize he was wrong and that the map was wrongly given. Following the tapes and listening to Hannah's voice he begins to understand her as a person that he never did previously, and following her footsteps through what she considers her worst moments, he begins to see that he barely knew her at all. Listening to the tapes Clay discovers things he never knew and starts a chain reaction of feelings that will change his outlook on life forever.

If the 10/10 rating wasn't evident enough of my love for this book, let me write it very clearly right here. I Love This Book. I don't love the idea of suicide, I dont love that the girl in this book was clearly very troubled and hurt. I do however love that this book spreads the idea that one little thing can change the outcome of something very big. Each person that Hannah addresses in this book didn't think about the ongoing affect of whatever they did, in fact one person on this list probably didn't realize that by starting a rumor he would kill a girl. Sometimes our words are stronger than we can ever dream possible. If nothing else, I hope that someone who reads this book realizes that they have the power to break, or make, someone elses life. At the end of the book there is nothing that Clay can do to make Hannah come back to life, she has committed suicide and short of a time machine that can't be undone, however Clay realizes that he can change his outlook of other people, that saying a few words to someone who looks like they need a smile can go a long way. From this book I also gained the knowledge and desire to extend a hand or a smile or a few kind words and hope that will be enough for someone in the future. 

The book is written in a very cool format, each cassette side getting its own chapter and italics representing Hannah's voice through the tapes and normal font representing how Clay deals with the knowledge. I liked the voices that each person had to offer and especially liked how the entire story ended up tying into one another and the final conclusion that wrapped all the way back to the beginning of the story.

A fantastically sad read that changes perspective for sure.

“You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything.” 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

#70- Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist By Rachel Cohn & David Leviathan

#70- Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

Rating- 9.5/10

Let it be known that I REALLY didnt expect to like this book as much as I did. The logic behind that was that I wasn't a huge fan of the movie and figured they were somehwat similar etc etc. Which was such a rookie mistake thing to think because I know better than to judge a book by its movie. Regardless of my thoughts prior to reading, I really really liked this book. I was impressed by the wit, the writing, the characters, and the duo narrators. I especially love books that switch point of view from chapter to chapter so I really like the split personality of each chapter from Nick to Norah.

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist is a book about a "queercore" band member named Nick and a jaded sarcastic love-wrecked girl named Norah. They both are at the same club on night where Nick is performing and Norah is watching. When Nick's set is over he goes and sits down at the bar and a pit of terror in his stomach forms when he sees his ex-girlfriend Tris headed over... with her new guy. In a moment of desperation and spontaneity he turns to the girl next to him, Norah, and asks her to be his girlfriend for five minutes. What he doesn't know is that Norah knows Tris as well from school and is more than happy to go along with his plan if it means causing a bit of a stir from Tris. They have always been a sort of frenemy situation and she is a-okay with saving Nick and making Tris uncomfortable. After kissing and avoiding eye contact with Tris, both of them realize that the kiss was more than they bargained for. Neither one wants to admit that a five minute fling was all they were and they set out on a night adventure. Moving night clubs, seeing ex's, dealing with drunk friends, and seeing one of the best bands ever; Nick & Norah make memories that are... (wait for it...) infinite.

As I mentioned above I really like books that are written from different perspectives and I also really like cliche teenage novels. I guess its not exactly cliche, but in the coming of age type of way. I want to think about my own experiences and I want it to be genunine and not afraid to use curse words and graphic situations and alcohol and love and turmoil and everything that I have gone through as a teenager. I like seeing how different people deal with things and I like thinking of new ways to deal with my own life because of how people in these books deal with theres. I was impressed by this book and other than only being able to see Norah as Kat Denning (which isn't a bad thing, just a fact) I completely separated this book from movie and was really pleased with the end result. Add in the mention of judaism, which is also a plus for me and I was even more pleased. Norah mentions about Tikkun Olam, which means repairing the world, and and Nick says this brilliant point about how maybe it isnt that we are supposed to find the missing pieces and put them back together to repair the world, but that we are the pieces and that by being together and understanding and loving to one another we are doing that. 

There was also one quote in the book that really affected my way of thinking. It was so true. One of Nick's friends says, "You know the reason The Beatles made it so big?...'I Wanna Hold Your Hand.' First single. Fucking brilliant. Perhaps the most fucking brilliant song ever written. Because they nailed it. That's what everyone wants. Not 24/7 hot wet sex. Not a marriage that lasts a hundred years. Not a Porsche...or a million-dollar crib. No. They wanna hold your hand. They have such a feeling that they can't hide. Every single successful song of the past fifty years can be traced back to 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand.' And every single successful love story has those unbearable and unbearably exciting moments of hand-holding.”  and ITS SO TRUE. Its true that we are always looking for something simple and I liked that they brought light to that. I thought it was a cool way of pointing it out and I appreciated that idea behind it.

Also, I read online that each author wrote one chapter and then emailed it to the other, Rachel writing Norah and David writing Nick and I think thats insanely cool. What a way to write a book! I think its fantastic and made me appreciate it even more because it was like Nick and Norah were really reacting to each other versus an author thinking out each ones reaction while writing the others. 

Overall I was really pleased with the book and I understand why it was on the top 100 list, I gave it one of the highest ratings of all of the others reviews in fact.

“The way you're singing in your sleep
The way you look before you leap
The strange illusions that you keep
You don't know, But I'm noticing"

Thursday, March 14, 2013

#22 An Abundance of Katherines By John Green

#22- An Abundance of Katherine's

Rating- 9/10

As its been said throughout this blog I really like John Green. He is one of my favorite authors and I really like his style of writing. This book is no different. I wouldn't rate it my favorite of his books (hence the 9 rating versus the usual 10's that I give him most of the time.)

Colin is a teenage boy who has just graduated high school and been dumped by his long-term girlfriend named Katherine. The thing about Colin though is that this is his 19th time being broken up with by Katherine. No, not the same girl. 19 different girls all with the same name, same spelling. It started out as a coincidence and then turned into a self fulfilling prophecy. 

Having only Katherines as girlfriends isnt the only semi-typical thing about Colin. He is also a child prodigy who has an extremely high IQ and a love of anagrams and while he is grateful for his intelligence it hasnt helped him in the friend or love department and he is feeling a depression set in on the night of his graduation, when he should be out celebrating he is sitting on his floor and feeling sorry for himself.

Realizing that its time for a change, along with his best friend Hassan, Colin sets out on a road trip to gain a new perspective on life and realize who he is without a Katherine in tow.

Because Colin is a genius he has this wild idea while he is feeling sorry for himself, what if he could find a mathematical equation that would predict the outcome of a relationship? He starts figuring out different numbers and ratios, predicting each persons dumper/dumpee number and then adds in a few more numbers, as he goes on through his summer adventure he gets closer and closer to finding the answer that he so badly wants.

After a few days of driving they find themselves in Gunshot Tennessee and make an adventure for themselves, meeting new friends, making new memories, and most of all, meeting new girls all without the name of Katherine. 

I like this book, dont get me wrong. I especially like that its set in Tennessee, since one day I hope to go to college there, but I dont think its my favorite book by John Green in the least. I am not a huge fan of the main character and I just think its because I dont relate to him on very many levels. My main reason for giving a book a high score would be that the narrator made me think of my own life and I learned something important. I have never been a serial dater or someone who always needs boys around and therefore I felt like I didnt learn much, because I already know that I dont need a significant other to make me happy.

Anyways, I love John Green's writing style and for that reason this book was still devoured in hours and has been read a few times over. I still liked the characters and appreciated the humor and would read again if the reason arose. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Storyteller By Jodi Picoult

The Storyteller By Jodi Picoult

I take this break from the regularly scheduled 100 books in order to write this review. I read my first Jodi Picoult book when I was 13 years old, My Sisters Keeper was on the summer reading list going into 9th grade and I remember sitting on my lounge chair outback and sobbing over the ending. Since that day I have read each of Picoult's 20 books and when I heard that another one was out yesterday I took a break from my 100 book project and had to read this. I am so very glad that I did.

The Storyteller is about a girl named Sage Singer, she lives in a small town in New Hampshire and works at the local bakery as their bread and pastry chef. At the very young age of 25 she has lost both of her parents and is attending a grief group every week to come to peace with the loss. While some people have scars on the inside of their mourning, Sage is left with a long vertical scar from her eyebrow through her cheek, a remnant of the car accident that took her mothers life and stole her vanity. Sage was never an outgoing people person, but since the accident she has taken to staying in her home and baking the bread for the bakery throughout the night.

Then one week, her friendless situation changes, a man from grief group named Josef comes into the bakery one night right before closing. She tells him that he must stay and finish his coffee while he waits for the bus to come and collect him. Even though it is after business hours Sage finds herself letting Josef stay each and every night and date by date Sage finds herself getting into a sort of friendship with this 95 year old man. He is beloved by the entire town, was the German teacher at the high school, reffed little league, she finds him to be harmless and for the first time since the accident feels like someone likes her for her company and isnt nervous about her scars.

That is, until Josef tells her that he must confess something and he must ask the biggest favor of his entire life. Sage hesitantly agrees and is shocked to learn that Josef was a Nazi in the second world war and he has come to her to ask for help in dying. Sage has never considered herself religious, but her parents were both extremely jewish, both sisters had bat mitzvahed, and although it was rarely talked about, her grandmother Minka was a survivor of the holocaust. Josef has come to her seeking forgiveness and The Storyteller makes the reader question whether several years of horrible crimes can be over-shined by years of atonement and good deeds. Sage now has to make the decision of what to do with this information while contemplating the fine line between mercy and murder.

Let me say this now... This is by no means a typical Picoult novel. Her books, as far as I can remember, always involve chapters and chapters of court litigation, that is not the case when it comes to this novel. Instead we are given heart breaking stories of the concentration camps and how Minka suffered during the war. We are given chapters and chapters of Sage coming to terms with the grief of losing both of her parents at such a young age and feeling like with her scar no one can truly love her. We are also faced with chapters and chapters of tender moments between people in Sage's life who have overlooked her scars, both physical and mental..

I felt a real person connection to this book because I am a practicing Jew. I found myself humming along when Sage would talk about Shabbat services. I found my mouth watering as she talked about making the challah with her grandmother that had been passed down for generations, and most of all I felt myself crying along while reading the horrors of what had happened to Jewish people during the war.

This was not an easy read by any means, but I found myself devouring every single word and staying up until almost 3 am needing to finish it. I suggest this read to anyone who can understand the ache in your gut that comes with missing someone and the thrill in your heart when you realize that you will live and love again. This is a fantastically heart wrenching book and I am very grateful to Picoult for writing it. I shall say an extra prayer at Shabbat services on Friday, because these characters have now stolen a place in my heart that is not likely to fade away anytime soon.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

#75- If I Stay By Gayle Forman

#75- If I Stay

Rating- 8.5/10

I had read this book before (in fact I lost my copy, bought another one for the project and then came across my other copy so now I have two books in my bookshelf.) and knew that I enjoyed it so I was happy to pick this one up again for the re-read.

If I Stay is a book about a girl named Mia who is in a terrible car accident that kills her entire family. We are introduced to her family, her boyfriend, her friends, and her life through a state of sub-concious. She lets us know about them through first person story telling and we dont get much interaction from others. After the accident Mia is in a coma and the story follows her in a trance like state watching everyone around her at the hospital and seeing how this tradegy is affecting everyone else in her life. As somewhat evident by the title, Mia the soul/spirit/ghost/however you choose to look at what she is, must now decide whether she wants to stay on Earth or go to Heaven (or where ever her parents may be depending on what you believe) with the rest of her family. 

Let me first say that the description of this book on the NPR list is completely inaccurate. It claims that when she wakes up she has no memory of her life and must decide what to do with it, thats completely untrue. We are following her the entire time in a trance like state and she doesnt ever forget what has happened to her... I thought it was strange that was how they chose to describe it. 

I found this book really heart wrenching, given the description you now know that her entire family dies (it says so on the cover, no spoilers I promise) and the way that her character deals with this is extremely difficult to read. Not in the I cant read this kind of way, but in the I feel really sad for this person, yet want to know what happens next kind of way.

I personally really enjoy sad books, I think that seems to be the way books are going these days (people have labeled it sick-lit, I politely disagree) and I think its because when we read we want to feel the emotion behind it. So this book delivers in that aspect. 

Along with the family dying tear-jerking parts, we are introduced to Mia's boyfriend. The story of how they meet and fall in love is really well done and I found myself really liking the guy as the pages continued. This made it even more sad when he comes into the hospital and into the picture. Mia's best friend is also introduced and while she was an important aspect I cant quite think of everything exceptional to write about her, but she was a good friend in certain circumstances and I understand why she was written in.

Overall, a very good read, get ready to cry, but also be touched and inspired due to the secondary characters in the narrators life.

“Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you.” 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

#87- Daughter of Smoke and Bone By Laini Taylor

#87- Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Rating- 6/10

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a fan of fantasy books. I read books to imagine a different life for myself, so I usually prefer books with characters I can relate to and place into my own life. For that reason and a few others this book was not one of my favorites.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is about a girl named Karou (also a pet peeve, when authors include names that are impossible to pronounce, whatever happened to plain old Anna or Kate?) who lives a secret life. On the surface she goes to an art school in Prague and maintains a relationship with her best friend Zuzana (another one of those names) and draws mysterious creatures in her sketch book. To everyone else these are strange creatures that Karou imagines in her head. To Karou, they are family.

Karou was raised by mystical creatures called chimaera, parts of animals and humans morphed together to create a creature of magical proportion. They can be leaders and fighters and although they are scary, Karou loves them. In their world they trade teeth for wishes, and Karou is sent on missions all around the world. She opens one door and is sent into another country and when she knocks back on that door is sent back into the shop to give her teeth for approval to her father figure Brimstone. He has been taking care of her as long as she can remember and in return for her teeth errands he gives her strands of beads with wishes on them. She uses these for petty reasons such as turing her hair blue or giving her enemy thick ever growing eyebrows, much to Brimstones dismay.

She is living in her happy strange world, that is until one day, when all of the doors burst into flames and a strange man comes into her world, named Akiva. He is trying to kill her, saying that she is the devil. On a run for her life and trying to figure out what is true and what is false, Karou leads us down a mysterious path to the story of her life.

Here's the deal. I found myself really intrigued with this book in the middle, it was fast paced and I didnt want to put it down. That is until they started adding in all of this confusing flashback back story. I couldnt figure out what was important and what was real current life and I found myself flipping through the pages impatiently wanting to know the ending. I think one of the most important parts of a book is making sure to give your readers enough of the ending throughout the book so that they arent constantly flipping pages confused and wanting more.

For those reasons and my general dislike of extreme fantasy books I wasnt a fan of this. I could see where different reading styled people would really enjoy this book and I am not completely opposed to suggesting it to people, there is a reason that it made the top 100. I just wasnt a fan.

“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there's no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.” 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

#28- Uglies By Scott Westerfeld

#28- Uglies

Rating- 8.5/1o

I would say that the biggest flaw in my reading goal is that I only really have time to read the first book in each series on this list. I guess another flaw would be that the books rated were allowed to be series... it would be a whole lot easier to only allow singular books. Because I am only getting a small glipse of the story that people are really voting on its difficult to accurately review and judge it by its ranking.

I have read the entire uglies series previous to finding this list, and I remember liking it but couldnt remember exact plot details. I was really getting into uglies and when I flipped to the last page found myself wishing the story would continue because I wanted to know what happens next. I will have to decide whether I have time now or will wait until after August to finish the remainder of the series.

Uglies follows a girl named Tally Youngblood. She lives in a dystopian future (this seems to be a common trend in the top 100) where at the age of 16 everyone undergoes a surgery in order to become pretty. Until then being normal is considered ugly and people count down the days to their 16 birthday so they can become beautiful like everyone else. Tally has a late birthday and its the summer right before she turns 16 when we are introduced to the story. She is rather bored and trying to find some entertainment when she meets Shay. Shay happens to have the same birthday as Tally and they are both excited that they will have a companion until the surgery date.

As they get closer and closer to their birthdays Shay starts to have doubts. The girls are looking to adventure when Shay tells Tally that she wants to show her somewhere, out of the city. They travel to the ruins and once there Shay lets it be known that she doesnt want to have the surgery, that she wants to lose the idea of conventional beauty and just be herself. She has plans to run away with a man named David, to a town called The Smokes. She wants Tally to go with her.

After Tally refuses, Shay goes without her and Tally assumes that she will turn pretty as planned. That is, until her birthday when she is taken to the authorities who give her a drastic choice. Follow Shay to The Smokes and turn her in, or never turn pretty and live as an ugly for the rest of her life. Tally now has to make a decision that will change the rest of her life.

So as I said above, its difficult to completely rate a book when I know that there is still more to the story that needs to be read. Trying to ignore that fact and pretending that this is a singular story its very well done. I enjoy the characters, and the advancement of the storyline doesnt feel too slow or too rushed. 

I like the idea of a future where everyone looks exactly the same and while I get that its clearly a bad thing in this book I remember the first time I read it (I must have been 14 or 15) thinking that I wouldnt mind a society where people all looked the same so we weren't judged on our beauty but instead our mind. While i'm not sure the answer would be to make everyone unbelievably flawless at age 16 and make everyone younger than that believe that they are ugly and worthless, the idea could be cool with some work. Obviously there is much more to the book than changing looks and reading on you find out that becoming a pretty is much more dangerous than just getting plastic surgery, but the idea of it is very cool. Just seems that the government took it a step too far.

“But you weren't born expecting that kind of beauty in everyone, all the time. You just got programmed into thinking anything else is ugly.” 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

#52- Delirium By Lauren Oliver

#52- Delirium 


I was looking for an easy read for the plane ride home from Florida (I went this week, check the last blog post for details if you have no idea what i'm talking about) and looking through the list realized that I had read this book the first time on my way to Vegas and it seemed only appropriate that the second time around would also be after a vacation! Also here's a fun fact... Lena, the main character, and myself share a birthday! (September 3rd)

Delirium is a book set in the future, where love has been labeled a disease, amor deliria nervosa, shortened to... you guessed it... delirium. It was decided that love was a sickness and the government took over and bombed areas of the city where it was extremely bad and then changed laws and made rules to make sure that the delirium never spread again. When someone turns 18 they have a surgery that affects their brain and takes away any feelings of love. There are still some people who resist this, people who lived in the bombed areas of the world past the fences, called the wilds. Love is a bad word and is never to be used or felt again. Our narrator, Lena, is a 17 year old girl who has always wanted the cure. After seeing how her mother and sister suffered from love she has been counting down the days until she is set to be safe.

That is, until the summer before she turns 18, when she meets Alex. A mysterious boy who makes her question everything that she knows about life, love, and herself. We follow Alex, Lena, and her best friend Hanna through the summer right before their entire lives are set to change. Will the disease end up ruining them? Or will they realize that it was the cure that was setting them up for failure all along.

I really enjoyed this book, both times around. I read so many books that sometimes its impossible to remember the plot twists and characters after a while and since it had been a year since i've read it I still found myself wondering what was happening next. I really enjoyed the idea of the novel and found extreme humor in how they explained why love was a disease. It was all true. Rapid heart rate, sweating, difficulty focusing, reduced mental awareness, extreme euphoria, the list goes on and on. I had to agree with all of the things that classified love as a disease. I also loved that once we knew the symptoms we were able to feel through them with Lena and realize that even though it was a disease, love is the best kind of disease to have.

I loved the characters and felt that Lena had a great voice to be the main narrator, but I also really really liked Alex. He is someone that I wish I could hang out with in real life and see what he had to say about the world we live in now. 

I have recently been really conflicted when it comes to my love life and for those reasons I really enjoyed the first stage of the disease and found myself laughing when I realized I could define all of these symptoms to my life. Especially the reduced mental awareness and difficulty focusing. I dont think I speak only for myself when I say that I seriously second guess and think about things over and over and over again when it comes to the person I like.

I am really excited to read the rest of these books, even more excited that the sequel is out and the final book of the trilogy is out in a month! I think I will be breaking my whole, reading nothing but the 100 books project because I need to finish this trilogy.

“Love: a single word, a wispy thing, a word no bigger or longer than an edge. That's what it is: an edge; a razor. It draws up through the center of your life, cutting everything in two. Before and after. The rest of the world falls away on either side.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

#20- Paper Towns By John Green

#20- Paper Towns


Let me start this off by saying that I am a really big fan of John Green. I love his quirky personality through gifs on tumblr, love his video blogs, and most of all I love his books!  

I have read this book before, in fact I have read it many times before, but since I am constantly reading and all stories are blended together in my head lately I decided to re-read this book before writing a proper review.

I am actually in Florida this week, my sister's and I are going to Disneyworld! We are huge Disney fans and since we live right by Disneyland and have annual passes we decided we wanted to see how Disneyworld compared. Southwest had a great deal on tickets and the rest is history! So I read this book on the flight here. Its a little over 300 pages and I was able to finish it by our first layover about two hours later.

Paper Towns is easy to get involved in, the narrator is a boy named Quentin Jacobsen, he lives in ORLANDO FLORIDA! (what are the odds? too funny, they even mention Disneyworld in the book). He has two best friends, Radar and Ben. He lives with both of his parents (who are therapists and I really enjoy their banter, too funny) in a housing development called Jefferson Park. Quentin lives next door to Margo Roth Spigelman, a very elusive and mysterious girl whom he never hung out with once they were the age that their parents didnt bring them to gatherings, but has one major childhood memory of. When they were 10 years old they went on a bike ride to the park, when they get to the entrance they notice that there is a man sitting at the stump of the tree. After closer investigation they realize that this man is in fact dead.

After that day Q never spent any time with Margo, that is until the one night at the end of senior year when she climbs into his window and tells him that she needs to borrow his car, and he is going to come with on an adventure that he will never forget. The rest of the book follows Q as he follows the mystery that is Margo Roth Spigelman and how he and his friends become closer and end their senior year with memories that they will never forget.

I know I already raved about John Green above, but let me just put it in big capital letters now (excuse my internet screaming) I LOVE JOHN GREEN AND EVERYTHING THAT HE WRITES IS LITERARY GOLD AND HE MAKES CHARACTERS COME TO LIFE AND EVERYTHING THAT COMES OUT OF HIS MIND IS GENIUS. 

Now then, since you all now know exactly how I feel, I really really like this book. On the scale of books that Green has wrote, this is my third favorite (Looking for Alaska and TFIOS are number one and two). It has quality characters, an interesting story line that gives just enough clues to not make you frustrated and just wishing you would find the answer to the mystery, and the perfect amount of nostalgic inducing quotes that stick with you for ages.

I found myself laughing outloud at some of the jokes and I am always a big fan of a narrator that I can connect with and I found myself wishing I was friends with this guy in real life. He just seemed to understand things and his incredibly romantic (if a bit misled) attempt to win over the girl was heartwarming and inspiring in many ways.

At the end of every post I usually include one quote, my favorite from the book, I'm making an exception. Below are some of my favorite quotes. I love this book. Go read it. Seriously. Now. Go. I'm waiting. Then comment below and tell me what you think about it!

  • “What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.” 
  • “That's always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people want to be around someone because they're pretty. It's like picking your breakfeast cereals based on color instead of taste.” 
  • “I'm starting to realize that people lack good mirrors. It's so hard for anyone to show us how we look, & so hard for us to show anyone how we feel.” 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

#57- The Gemma Doyle Trilogy (A Great and Terrible Beauty) By Libba Bray

#57- A Great and Terrible Beauty


I have heard many friends raving about this series and while I liked the characters I felt that the opening to the book was a really slow read. I didn't get really into it until over two hundred pages in and was forcing myself to read this at night. (versus when it's difficult to get me to put down a book and actually have a social life!) 

A Great and Terrible Beauty follows the story of young Gemma Doyle. She is living in India with her mother and father when on her 16th birthday tragedy strikes. Her mother is killed and she is sent to a proper boarding school to be bred into a respectable lady. 

While there she meets three girls; Felicity, Pippa and Ann. While they are not quick to all get along they eventually bond over a secret cave that their teacher takes them to one day. Gemma has been getting visions and can't figure out why she keeps seeing a man from india around every corner. Is she losing her mind? Or has a mysterious figure come to tell her that there was more to her mothers death than it appears.

One night when all four girls are in the caves Gemma comes across a diary, of a girl named Mary Dowd who speaks of her magical powers. The visions she describes are so much like what Gemma has experienced that she begins to frighten. The other girls all want to try their own magic and in a fit of whiskey and giggles they all join hands and try to bring about some magic of their own. That night Gemma realizes that she is no longer an ordinary 16 year old girl and opens a magical portal to a beautiful world for she and her friends.

In this world there is dreaming and laughter and also a hidden secret. Will the girls find the secret and save themselves before its too late?

I specified above that I really did like the characters that were written in. I could see myself being friends with these girls and giggling and sharing dreams together in a boarding school in another country. That being said I just really couldnt get into the magical story line. I felt like we werent shared enough information about it until the later chapters of the book and in order to keep me interested I need to feel like i'm in on the secret even if some of the characters arent aware of all of it.

I think that if I was to read the following two books (which maybe after these 100 books I will get around to) I could really find myself getting involved with these characters and wanting to know what happens. But as for now I didnt mind putting down the book and calling it quits after reading one installment of three and thats never a good sign for a series. 

So overall, go ahead and read it if you are into strong female characters and the idea of magic within our own reach. I think it was worth the time, it was just a long 400 pages.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

#26- Speak By Laurie Halse Anderson

#26- Speak


This was one of those books that going into the project I knew I had heard of and knew the story but couldnt remember whether this was from hearing from friends or seeing the movie. I guess in some ways it felt very anticlimactic because I knew the climax storyline (its on the description of the book, so everyone knows its) and so it wasn't a surprising read. That being said, doesnt mean the book wasnt good.

Speak follows the story of Melinda, a high school freshman who has a secret inside that is eating her alive. She was raped at the end of school party in 8th grade, she was 13 and drunk and called the cops after it happened, too traumatized to say anything they came and broke up the party. No one knows that Mel was raped and therefore she gets the reputation of being the class loser, who called the cops and busted every at the end of year party. 

The following year in school she has no friends and since that night continually says less and less until she isn't speaking at all. Through the guidance of her teachers, parents, and hesitant friends Melinda eventually finds the courage to move past this rough time in her life and speak out against what happened.

I think that this story doesnt resonate as deeply within me as it does with other people because I have been extremely lucky throughout life and was never pressured by boys to do things I didnt want to do. Hell, I didnt even kiss a boy until I was 16 years old. I was sheltered and respected and for those reasons while this book made me extremely sad for Melinda, it didnt make me realize anything about my own life. (which are generally my favorite sorts of books)

I have heard stories from friends and acquaintances who were really changed by this book, that they had been sexually abused or traumatized in a way and this made them tell someone or move past it. I think for that reason this book can't be rated in numbers or stars, because for some people it was everything.

Side note: I couldnt read the book without picturing Kristen Stewart (who plays Melinda in the movie) and I kept thinking to myself how perfectly she worked as that character, another movie before book adaptation that I wasnt upset reading. Hooray for that!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

#88- Feed By M.T. Anderson

#88- Feed


So I can see the redeeming value in this book, don't get me wrong with my rating, its not that it was completely terrible or a waste of time. I just couldn't connect with the main character and felt that everything he did was really selfish and I was resentful of the decisions that he made

Feed is a book thats set in the future, where people have 'feeds' that are implanted into their brains which essentially makes them a walking talking computer. They are able to talk to their friends, order clothing, watch television and listen to music all through their brains. Which is a really cool concept.

Each family lives in their own bubble where they control the sun and the moon and everything is grown artificially. People are able to take vacations to the moon and other planets and hair styles and fashion change by the hour. It's an advanced world that everyone is content on living in. Everyone except for Violet that is. We are told the story through the narrator named Titus. He is a boy who has a group of friends and is considered an average teenage boy. He goes to parties, school, has his own car, and considers his life to be very normal. All of this changes when he travels to the moon for spring break. This is where he meets Violet. There is a hacker that comes and affects the club that they go to and they are all sent to the hospital to get their feeds fixed.

Violet and Titus meet and bond there and once he gets to know her he realizes that she's very cool. She has all of these ideas about life without technology, because neither of her parents got the feed installed. She is more interested in rebelling against society and doing things that arent considered normal consumer behaviors. She would choose to spend a random Saturday at the mall trying on the weirdest clothes and checking out the weirdest products in order for her feed to be unable to give her a direct opinion on what she would like in life. She wants to fight the feed.

After a few months of getting to know each other, Violet and Titus are at a party and Violet starts to malfunction. Nobody knows what is happening and she is sent to the hospital. We later find out that the virus affected her more than anyone and they dont know if they will be able to fix her. A girl that Titus considered a casual fling is now becoming all the more serious and only time will tell what happens to the two of them.

I guess that part that frustrated me the most was how badly Titus ends up handling the fact that she is ill and even more so that she expects him to be the perfect boy while she is going through this even though they arent very serious. I felt like the entire situation was giving me anxiety because on one hand I really want them to work out because Violet needs someone to take care of her and on the other hand its not fair at all that Titus has to deal with this when he wasn't aware this was what he was signing up for. All the same it was a really exhausting read towards the end and I felt very emotionally affected in a bad way. I wasn't happy with the ending and was rather traumatized about the idea of life going differently and not happening the way you want it to. I am not sure if maybe I missed the complete concept of fighting against consumerism, but I guess the eventual drama of their relationship was too much for me to truly enjoy the book. There were some redeeming parts, but overall not a favorite of mine so far.

“I looked at her, and she was smiling like she was broken.” 

Friday, January 11, 2013

#74- The Maze Runner Series By James Dashner

#74- The Maze Runner


This book is incredibly hard to describe without giving away things that will ruin some of the book. Even more difficult is that I've read the entire series and so I know more than the first book tells. This was a book that I happened to read right before I found out about this list because people had suggested it, saying that people who liked the Hunger Games would like this book.

The Maze Runner is a book about a group of boys that are all trapped in... you guessed it... a maze called The Glade! The boys are put there once a month with their memories wiped out. We are told the story from the part of view of a boy named Thomas, he was the final boy put into the maze, other boys have been there as long as two years. 

In The Glade every week they are delivered food and supplies to last them through the week and the goal that everyone tries to figure out is getting out and ultimately surviving. All of the boys have responsibilities, the most important being "the runners" who run through the maze every day and try to find the way out for all of the boys.

They expected Thomas to arrive, but the day after a mysterious girl arrives, the first one ever in The Glade, and even more unsuspected than her arrival is the message that she brings with her. Thomas is the answer to figuring out their way out of the maze, but he doesnt remember anything from before he was put into the maze.

Throughout the novel things keep getting weirder and weirder, does this mean that the boys will be finding their way out of the maze? Or is this maze going to be their eternity? 

So as I said above it has been a while since I read this, because I read it in summer 2012, but before writing this I picked up the book and looked through it and ended up re-reading quite a bit of it. This book was interesting from beginning to end and made me want to pick up the next book immediately to find out the rest of the story. There is so much more to the book than I summarized above but I am trying to keep it as spoiler free as possible so you'll just have to read the book and find out!

Its not a book that is going to change your opinions on life but its really an entertaining read.

“If you're going to decipher a hidden code from a complex set of different mazes, I'm pretty sure you need a girl's brain running the show.” 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

#31- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian By Sherman Alexie

#31- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian


A full ten out of ten! You all know what that means, this book was not only an excellent read but also changed the way that I view things in life. It takes quite a book to receive this rating, especially this late in the game when I was reading books that I considered out of my typical genre. 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is about a boy named Junior and his journey to leave the only life that he has ever known on an indian reservation. 

Junior lives with his grandma, sister, mother and father on an indian reservation in Texas. He has a best friend named Rowdy and all of his life that has primarily been his only friend. Junior was born with a brain problem that left him with seizures, difficulty speaking without a lisp or stutter, and a rather pronounced skull that has left him the receiver of many years of bullying and torment.

Since grade school Junior has be treated and cured of his seizures and has overcome most of his speaking issues, but has yet to be rid of his loser stigma. Junior thinks nothing of his life on the reservation its all that he has known and all that his family has known for years and years. That is, until one day his teacher has a heart to heart with him. His teacher is a white man and comes to him and tells him that one day he will change the world if only he is brave enough to make a change and be different and leave the reservation. 

Junior is very troubled by this conversation, but feels that he is destined for greater things and asks his parents to transfer to a school in Reardan, 20 miles from his reservation. His parents worry that its a bad idea, but ultimately agree.

Getting his parents to agree with only the start of his problems though, throughout the book Junior faces many difficulties, without giving away too many spoilers, three people that are very close to him pass away, he is often stranded and struggling to find rides to and from school, sometimes forced to walk. He never lets this stop him though. He says one quote that really got to me though. "My sister is running away to get lost, but I am running away because I want to find something."

I think that this quote is so profound and relatable to my life right now. I am currently applying for colleges and its been a struggle to decide whether to leave my nest in sunny Southern California and fly away to a college across the country. I still have a few months to decide, but this quote rang true to me. I am running away to find something, not to get lost, and that makes all the difference when it comes to decision making.

I loved the style of this book, loved the way it was written, loved the characters, loved the comics dispersed throughout the book (Junior draws them) and loved learning life lessons from a relatable character through Junior. If you haven't read this book, I would suggest it highly. Although there are many sad moments, the happy moments of overcoming any and all obstacles in the way is the shining point of this book.

“If you let people into your life a little bit, they can be pretty damn amazing.” 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

#56- It's Kind of a Funny Story By Ned Vizzini

#56- It's Kind of a Funny Story

Rating- 9/10

I generally don't run to read books after i've already seen the movie. I also generally don't see movies before i've read the books. This is the exception to that statement. I saw this movie however many years ago that it first came out, unknowing that it was also a book. I really enjoyed the movie (I'm a fan of Emma Roberts, in most things she does) and when I found out it was a book I was dissapointed that I had watched the movie first because it would be impossible to not see the actors when reading the pages and I HATE THAT! I like to create what I imagine them like better.

So when I saw that this book was on the list I didn't jump to read it first, even though its generally a book that would fit under the genre of things I enjoy reading. Teenage angst is my specialty! Since it has been so long since I saw the movie I found that I was able to make up my own ideas for every character except for Noelle, the girl that Emma Roberts plays, I just couldn't get away from the idea of her being Noelle. That being said, I still throughly enjoyed the book and finished it in a solid two nights of reading.

It's Kind of a Funny Story is about a boy named Craig and his trials and tribulations throughout getting in the most prestigious school in Manhattan. As we get to know Craig we are also introduced to his best friend Aaron and the first time that Aaron succeeds in peer pressuring Craig into smoking marijuana. (As an 8th grader I might add, which seemed shocking and way too young in my opinion) Both Aaron and Craig get into the school passing their test with flying colors. After being accepted, Aaron starts dating a girl named Nia, who Craig is hopelessly unrequitedly in love (lust?) with. It is only after getting in that Craig starts to question everything and feel very depressed. He has been working towards the goal of actually getting into the school for so long that when it comes to actually going he feels a conflicting sensation of let down.

After attending school, the pressure of classes and his feeling for Nia become too much, Craig starts to feel depressed; he is unable to eat food, unable to sleep, and has suicidal thoughts. He goes to therapy and starts taking medication to get it all under control. A few months later, after he starts to feel better, he stops taking the medication with the thought that he doesnt need it. He soon realizes that he is wrong and one night starts having suicidal tendencies worse than ever. He calls up the suicide hotline and is directed to go to the hospital and get help.

After arriving at the hospital Craig makes the decision to get checked into their psychiatric hospital, as he first walks in he is taken on a tour of the place by another patient named Bobby. After talking with him he starts to feel like he isnt so abnormal for the problems he is having. The first meal in the dining hall he spots a girl from across the room, she writes a note on a piece of paper asking him to meet her in the hallway later in the night. After he arrives we meet Noelle, a fellow high schooler who is also dealing with her own issues. Craig is instantly intrigued by her, wondering what it was that happened to make her come to the hospital as well. Throughout his stay at the hospital Craig meets new people, finds new talents, and most importantly realizes that the root of a person is not found in success, but in the moment after failure when they make the decision to stand back up.

I liked the idea of someone being at their best when they are at their worst. That it takes feeling really badly in order to take a chance and make a change on your life and thats exactly what Craig does in this book. It's also an interesting read for someone who thinks that their entire life should revolve around what they have known and the idea of the friends that they already have. Being in a situation where I am transferring to a new college next year and potentially starting all over with friendships and education, I like the idea that finding anchors to weigh me down that arent people. A very interesting read that I would suggest to any struggling teenager.

“People are screwed up in this world. I'd rather be with someone screwed up and open about it than somebody perfect and ready to explode.” 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

#61- The Chocolate War By Robert Cormier

#61- The Chocolate War


Let me start off by saying how much I completely despise when authors end books with a vague answer. I hate having to come up with the ending for myself. If I wanted to create my own story I would have written my own book... and I didnt! 

For those reasons I marked this down additional points that it was getting when earlier in the book.

The Chocolate War is about a boy named Jerry Renault who goes to a religious all boys school. The school has a gang called The Vigils that everyone knows about but dont speak about openly (first rule of the fight club, you do not talk about the fight club). We enter the story right before the annual chocolate sales at school, this year the stakes are higher than ever. The headmaster is out on sick leave and Brother Leon is now in charge. He has doubled the amount of chocolate and the prices and each boy is expected to sell 50 boxes of chocolate. (which is completely crazy). At the first day of role call, when each boy is asked how many boxes they have sold, Jerry says no. That he will not sell this chocolate (its technically voluntary although everyone knows they have no choice). This starts an extreme shift of thought and Jerry is forced to make the decision, "Do I dare disturb the universe?"

The book started off somewhat slow, telling me, in my opinion, too much about secondary characters that dont matter that much. I felt like I knew each boys back story when I really didnt need to know them in order to solve the present issue about the chocolate. I loved the quote that they bring up though. Do I dare disturb the univserse. I took that quote and started to think about how I would apply it to my own life. I wonder if we all are disturbing the universe enough, most of the time I think that I am not. 

So if nothing else, this book kind of made me think more about standing up for certain things I believe in and making a more conscious effort to disturb my own universe. 

“Cities fell. Earth opened. Planets tilted. Stars plummeted. And the awful silence.” 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

#27 Twilight By Stephenie Meyer

#27- Twilight 

Rating- 8/10

Let me just start this off by saying how large of a fan of twilight that I was in early high school. I read twilight the first year that it came out and waited for the following books in the subsequent years. Obsessed would be putting it lightly, I loved this book. I had this book sitting on my nightstand for years and would read the pages over and over again to fall asleep. For those reasons, it still gets a high review.

Since I have now graduated high school and was welcomed into a larger amount of literature and some more mature books, this book has fallen through the cracks in my brain and i've realized that while it was a high school love affair, its not a very well written book and has many characters whom I am forced to grimace through reading. 

Twilight (for those of you who have liven under a rock for the past few years and somehow dont know the actual plot line from screaming twihard fans) is about a girl named Bella Swan and the year that she moves to Forks Washington to live with her father instead of her mother. In the first few chapters we are introduced to her father, and friends of the family. They bring along Jacob Black (remember this name, he becomes important in books to follow, more so than this one) who used to be childhood friends with Bella and now has a massive crush on her. Who can blame him? A relatively clumsy girl who doesnt realize that behind her awkward smile is a beauty in the making. Of course. After this we go meet her friends at school, characters who aren't a massive plot point and therefore I wont take the time meeting them. One day at lunch, in walks the Cullen clan. The whispers about them include that they are all orphans, adopted by the doctor in town and each and every one of them is more beautiful than the last. They are all paired off into couples, that is, everyone except for Edward Cullen. The mysterious pale faced beautiful boy who most every girl in school is interested in dating, even though his cold demeanor has kept girls away for his entire stay at Forks. If it wasnt obvious enough by now, Bella and Edward meet, and although its strictly forbidden, Edward confides in Bella and tells her that... wait for it... he is a vampire! They continue on their whirlwind of a romance story, with a few dramatic vampire fight scenes in between the love.

Now, after reading that description, if you havent guessed at this point that I am Team Jacob, I guess I was writing a bit less harsh than I had intended. I have never been a fan of Edward Cullen, I think he is massively overrated and have always been more of a fan of Jacob. If you havent heard of the fandom and dont know, Jacob is also a mysterious creature, although he is not immortal and will grow up one day and could give Bella a family and children and they could die at the same age. Any how. Thats my review. Probably the strangest jumpiest of all of them, because its impossible to write a quick review on a book that has now become one of the most spoken about books of the past few years. 

If you havent read this, or havent seen the movies (I mean come on, seriously? do you live on antarctica?) I do suggest reading them. I was especially a fan of the second and third books, where we really get to understand just how difficult it is to date a vampire. Team Jacob. Sorry, 13 year old me just cant keep quiet about this one. 

“About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him-and I didn’t know how potent that part might be-that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.”