Review: The Fault In Our Stars

Goodreads

Goodreads

Title: The Fault in our Stars

Author: John Green

Published: Penguin Books, 2012

*Spoilers included in this review*

 

 

Back Cover

 

 

Despite the tumour-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

In Brief

 

 

A touching story of living life to the fullest when all is uncertain.

My Thoughts

 

 

Hazel is dying. She has thyroid cancer with lung mets. And she’s living as though it’s over already. Then one day she meets Augustus at her support group, and suddenly life is worth living. They are the kids at school that you want to have been friends with. The alternative-type, honest, just livin-their-own-life-with-no-concern-for-anyone-else type. As they get to know each other and we get to know them, I just grew to love them. And it sucks. Cancer sucks. Full stop. But this is a book that doesn’t focus on the whole cancer-teenager-dying thing, while still focusing on it. The focus is on living with cancer, not necessarily just dying of it.

I really liked this book. Really really liked. John Green’s writing is simple, clean, humorous and insightful. He writes with innocence, while showing us the depth behind the characters.

**SPOILER ALERT**

But what would a cancer book be without a relapse? So of course there it is. And time is short. So Hazel and Augustus try to make as much of the time they have as they can. And it’s sweet. I also think it was necessary to the story. This is a story about cancer, living with, dying of, grieving and moving past.

Rating

 

 

A+ – This book is AMAZING. It totally blew me away!

Recommend

 

 

DEFINITELY! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll question your own life choices. Maybe don’t read it on the train… and keep the tissues close.

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Gone Girl

Gone Girl

Goodreads

Title: Gone Girl

Author: Gillian Flynn

Published: Phoenix, Orion Books, 2012

BACK COVER

Who are you?

What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren’t made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone.

So what did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?

MY THOUGHTS

WHOA. Holy crap. This was… hmm. I read quite a few blogs and reviews of this before I got to read it, and by the time I got to it I was a little apprehensive. I wanted to read it, but was nervous, because everyone LOVED it. EVERYONE loved it. So I had high expectations. Which were exceeded beyond I could imagine. This book is AMAZING. Creepy and quite unsettling, but amazing. If you can hack a visit to the dark side, please read this book. It is brilliant.

It’s taken me a little while to write this review, as I didn’t really know what to say. Or how to say it, especially without giving too much away.

The book is really well written. In alternating chapters, we hear from Nick, living through the police investigation with him, and at the same time we also get to read Amy’s diary from the last 5+ years, and learn more about their life. Little by little we get to know both of them. You think you know what’s going on, and then, BOOM. B-double truck comes screaming at you from the left side. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, so without saying too much, be prepared for more than one twist. And an ending that may not sit well with some people. But I liked it – it was unexpected. And made me a little queasy.

Everyone in book club loved this one. All of us flew through it. We had read a few in a row that we’d all found a bit ‘meh’, disliked, or not finished. At our last meeting, I was about halfway through “Gone Girl” and was loving it. Kinda-sorta-maybe itching to go home so I could finish it off.  So to guarantee an interesting read, the others decided to adopt it for our next one. Yay for that! No one picked the plot twists, and none of even considered the ending. Winner!

Final Thought: Gillian Flynn has a very dark and twisted mind. Do yourself a favour and read this book.

 

Next Book Club book: The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman

Canada

Goodreads

Goodreads

Title: Canada

Author: Richard Ford

Published: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012

BACK COVER

First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. 

Then about the murders, which happened later.

It was more bad instincts and bad luck that lead to Dell Parsons’ parents robbing a bank. They weren’t reckless people, but in an instant, their actions alter fifteen-year-old Dell’s sense of normal life forever. In the days that follow, he is saved before the authorities think to arrive. Driving across Montana, his life hurtles towards the unknown; a hotel in a deserted town, the violent and enigmatic Arthur Remlinger, and towards Canada itself. But, as Dell discovers, in this new world of secrets and upheaval, he is not the only one whose past lies on the other side of the border. 

MY THOUGHTS

I’ve just re-read over the blurb of this book, wondering if I got confused, trying to correlate this with the book I read. The more I read the blurb, the more I can pick out what parts of the book are being referred to, but I struggled with this one. I found the synopsis misleading – but maybe that’s just me, and I was reading into it what I wanted to. The story I was expecting would have been interesting I think. I found the story I got a bit boring. I felt like something would happen, and I’d be like ‘Oh good, this could be interesting, lets explore this’, and that story line would end. Plot re-direct. Then something else would happen. I’m like ‘Oh, OK, so this is what we’re going to focus on’ and then nope, plot change. Happened to me around 4 times. Happening to me now – struggling to focus on the book long enough to write a review!

The whole book was very descriptive. The first half is background – Dell, Berner (twin sister) and their parents, bits and pieces of religion, culture, history, family, Dad’s work, how weird Dad is, Dad’s research into the best plan for robbing a bank, Berner’s boyfriend. Was good background, except for the fact that once the background is over and Mum and Dad rob the bank, the story changes. We have no more need for most of the back ground. The second half of the book is solely Dell’s story. Most of the background was build up to… nothing.

 

I think basically I don’t like descriptive books if there’s little or no action. I need a bit more happening to keep me interested. I will say this, the writing was good, it was easy to read, I just didn’t really want to pick it up so it took me a while to read. It’s great if you like description, but I’d read great chunks and not remember what I’ve read, but have no real ambition to go back and re-read to find out. I was the only one at book club that had actually finished it. One was about halfway through and persisting, and another had given up halfway. Reasoning was – bored, nothing happening, wasn’t sure where it was going. There was questions about Berner’s life – my friend asked as there was some set up there with her and her boyfriend Rudy, but there was very little resolution of that. I thought there was some perfunctory answers, but I felt like they were a bit of an after thought, sort of like she’d been forgotten about but Ford remembered her at the last minute and thought ‘oh, cripes, should put something in there about what happens to Berner.’

 

So not a win for me – or the rest of the book club girls. Oh well.

Next up for June: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Me Before You

Goodreads

Goodreads

Title: Me Before You

Author: Jojo Moyes

Penguin Books, 2012

 

 

Back Cover

Lou Clark knows lots of things

She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now, and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

 

MY THOUGHTS

When Lou loses her job at the Buttered Bun, she needs to find another one, and quickly. Her family depends on her. And totally take advantage of her, all the time. But anyways. So she ends up working for Will Traynor, formerly very active driver in life’s fast lane. The fast lane, however, was not kind, and an accident on his motorcycle robbed Will of not only the use of all 4 of his limbs, but also of the desire to live. So, employed by Will’s mother, Lou starts working with Will, trying to lift his spirits and get him to see that life is worth living. He has a nurse, so *all* Lou has to do is cheer him up. Harder than you might think.

 

Over the course of their friendship developing, they both learn a lot about themselves. And to be honest, they taught me a few things along the way as well. I don’t want to say too much about the details, but there are some big issues discussed in this book. It will make you think long and hard, and presents things from different perspectives. I really enjoy Jojo Moyes writing – this was the first of hers I’ve read but I may have purchased a few (read: all) of her others and am loving them.

This book is amazing. Everyone I know who has read it has loved it, and I’ve read stacks of glowing reviews. Do yourself a favour and read this one! It’s going into my top ten favourites, possibly of all time. I just LOVED it, and I’m willing to bet you will too. Do yourself a favour and read this one.

Nine Uses for an Ex-Boyfriend

Goodreads

Goodreads

Title: Nine Uses for an Ex-Boyfriend

Author: Sarra Manning

Transworld, 2012, Random House

 

Back Cover

Hope Delafield hasn’t always had an easy life.

She has red hair, and a temper to match, as her mother is constantly reminding her. She can’t wear heels, is terrified of heights and being a primary school teacher isn’t exactly the ob she dreamed of doing, especially when her class are stuck on the two times table.

At least Hope has Jack, and Jack is the God of boyfriends. He’s sweet, kind, funny, as a killer smile, a cool job on a fashion magazine and he’s pretty (but in a manly way). Hope knew that Jack was The One ever since their first kiss after the Youth Club Disco and thirteen years later, they’re still totally in love. Totally. And then Hope catches Jack kissing her best friend Susie…

Does true love forgive and forget?

Or does it get mad… and get even?

 

 

Hope and Jack have been together forever. Thirteen years. Half their lives. And they’ve known each other even longer – their parents are neighbours and live in each others pockets.

Hope is a stress head. She hates heights – can’t even stand on the bottom rung of a step ladder (wimp). Jack does all the home maintenance. Hope does the cooking – and Jack nags her to clean up along the way. Jack is a snooze fiend, and Hope is regularly late for work due to dragging him out of bed. She yells, screams and goes on the attack, he is the king of the silent treatment. Hope doesn’t even know how to put songs on her ipod – Jack won’t let her do it. (Really?? You’re 26. Your boyfriend won’t LET you program your own ipod? And you let him forbid you?)

 

Then at a fancy dinner party Hope had planned and put together, she catches Jack making out with her best friend Susie. (Seriously. At home. While Hope is there. At HER party. And oh yeah, with Susie’s boyfriend Wilson there too. Of all the stupid choices. Methinks someone wanted to get caught.) This all happens in the first 40 pages of the novel.  Their parents want them together. Hope wants them together. She LOVES him. They go to couples therapy. On top of this, her mother’s theme is ‘What did you do wrong?’ ‘Brush your hair – you know it tangles’ and ‘Gosh, you’ve put on weight’. Excellent. Thanks Mum.

 

Her friends think she’s crazy. Her colleagues think she’s crazy. Wilson thinks she’s crazy. But she LOVES him. They’re meant to be together. Over the next 400-odd pages we watch Hope almost come to her senses a few times, before going back to the ‘But I love him, we’re meant to be together’, despite her friends, and the fact that she keeps running into Wilson, who is clearly developing a thing for her. To the point where I was nervous Hope would finally decide to drop Jack, and jump straight into long term relationship number 2 with no pause to take a breath.

 

**SPOILER ALERT**

 

It is not until page 462 that Hope finally quits begging Jack to take her back, and believing him when he says he’ll never see Susie again. Then he proposes in the car on the way home to their parents’ places for Christmas. Finally gets what she’s wanted the whole time, and THEN she realises that this isn’t actually what she wants and leaves(finally letting HIM deal with the parents who desperately want them together. With grandkids.) And paints the kitchen. Changes a lightbulb. Gets a haircut. And FINALLY gets off with Wilson.

 

My Thoughts

 

I’ll say straight out, I was disappointed with this book (in case you missed that). I really wanted to like it – I’ve read a few of Sarra Manning’s books now and enjoyed them all – but I just couldn’t. I found this one really frustrating. I get that we were going for a different spin on ‘boy and girl happy. Boy cheats on girl. Girl leaves boy. Girl gets new hot boy. Boy number 1 learns from his mistakes but sadly too late to get girl back.’

I started out feeling sorry for Hope. But she just kept taking him back. And thinking it was going to end well. And then she got REALLY whiny.

 

I just really felt like we kept going around in the same circle. Didn’t massively like the ending either. Elements of the ending could have worked on their own, but all together it just felt a little too unbelievable, especially after all that Jack and Susie put Hope through.

 

I will stay on the Sarra Manning bandwagon – although I didn’t like this story, I still like her writing style. And I like her other books. Guess you can’t win them all.

 

Have you read Nine Uses? Have you read any other Sarra Manning books? What are your thoughts?

NYPD Red

Source: Goodreads

Source: Goodreads

 

Title: NYPD Red

Author: James Patterson & Marshall Karp

Random House, 2012, Century

 

Back Cover

LIGHTS

It’s the start of the Hollywood on Hudson film festival, and New York City is swept up in the glamour. There’s a red carpet premiere every night; the most exclusive restaurants are filled with wealthy producers and pre-eminent directors; and thousands of fans gather with the paparazzi, hoping to catch a glimpse of the most famous and beautiful faces in the world. With so many celebrities in town, special task force NYPD Red is on high alert – and it can’t afford to make a single mistake.

CAMERA

Then a world-renowned producer fatally collapses at his power breakfast, and top NYPD Red Detective Zach Jordan is the first one on the scene. Zach works with his beautiful new partner, Detective Kylie MacDonald – who also happens to be his ex-girlfriend – to discover who the killer might be. But this is only the beginning: the most brutal, public, and horrifyingly spectacular crimes they’ve ever encountered are about to send all of New York into chaos, putting NYPD Red on the ropes.

EXECUTION

Zach and Kylie know there’s no way of telling what a killer this deranged will do next. With the whole world watching, they have to find a way to stop a psychopath who has scripted his finale down to the last explosive detail

 

MY THOUGHTS

The story is about the Chameleon. The eternal extra who decides to make everyone else pay for his lack of career, because clearly it’s their fault. Obviously. Duh. Couldn’t have anything to do with his lack of talent, or that it’s really hard to become a leading actor, or, I don’t know, the fact that he’s crazy. So he throws the cops off the scent by wearing costumes when he kills people (Yep. Chameleon.) There’s a girlfriend / try-hard-helper. There’s the explosives dude. There’s the cops always hot on the heels but just that split second behind. There’s ex-lovers. There’s the love triangle. There’s enough to keep it moving with a couple of different plot threads, but not so much that you get lost and can’t remember who’s doing what with whom.

I really enjoy James Patterson’s books. I love that they are easy reads – I usually fly through them in about 2 days, and they don’t require lots of concentration. I only have to concentrate for 2 minutes at a time. Love! Not great for my rep, but at the end of a long day sometimes that’s all I can manage… I can read them when I’m exhausted and have absolutely no attention span left.  They’re fast paced and there’s always something happening, so I’m kept engaged and entertained. Short chapters. I love short chapters! Makes me feel like I’m reading faster, so I read more at once. “Just one more chapter” I tell myself. “Just 15 more chapters” more like it. All of a sudden I’ve been reading for 2 hours, I’ve got 10 chapters left, and I may as well just finish it off, right? Right?? Right. Glad we agree.

 

Have you read NYPD Red? Are you a fan of James Patterson? Do you read crime fiction? 

When It Happens To You

Goodreads

Goodreads

Author: Molly Ringwald

Published: 2012 – Simon & Schuster

A Novel in Stories

From a mother as she grapples with age, infertility and an increasingly distant husband to a former children’s television star who tries to rebuild his life after being hospitalized for ‘exhaustion’. From an elderly woman mourning the loss o her husband to a single mother who finds the strength to protect her flamboyant six-year-old son, these stories follow the hazardous terrain of everyday life, revealing the deceptions, heartbreak, and vulnerability familiar to us all.

When It Happens to You is an unflinching yet poignant examination of the intricacies of the human heart and an auspicious literary debut.

When… betrayal comes it takes many forms. A husband’s betrayal of a wife, a mother’s betrayal of her son, a woman betrayed by the loss of her soulmate.

When It… comes it will take you by surprise. But it will happen. And…

When It Happens… everything will change. You may not know it now but…

When It Happens to You… you will understand.

Review: This is a novel of short stories, wound together with connective links to make up one story. There is essentially one plot running through the whole novel, but there are also other stories told, peripheral to the central plot but linked in via a character connection.

The story centres around Greta, Phillip & their daughter Charlotte. As their family slowly falls apart, we explore the different emotions and perspectives through their interactions and relationships with other people.

While I was reading this, I found that I struggled a little with the fact that the short stories are… well, short stories. They are interspersed throughout the book, and I did have difficulty reconciling the completion of one story within a longer, ongoing story. Some of them didn’t feel particularly… finished. Particularly for me, the story of Marina, who befriends Phillip following the separation. They develop a friendship as their children, Charlotte and Oliver, play together. The story of Marina and Oliver is a complex one that I would have liked to explore further. Marina is struggling with the fact that her son identifies as a girl, and wishes to dress like one and be called Olivia. He feels it is simple – he is a girl, and that’s that. She forsees his life, and how difficult this journey will be.

This book highlights struggles and repercussions as a marriage falls apart, from the perspective of the betrayed, the betrayer, and those impacted such as children and family. At different points in the book I both liked and disliked most of the characters, depending on the point of view we were looking from. It’s definitely a book that makes you think, and it will stay with me for a while. I’d like to re-read this once I’ve had some time to think and digest it, I think this is one of those that you get more out of every time you read it.