Tag Archives: john green

Top Ten Tuesday: Can’t Crease the Corner…!

Today, I’m merging Top Ten Tuesday with the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and this week they want to know our Top Ten Books To Read In A Day. By this I assume they mean for us to provide a list of ten books so hard to put down, we read them within a 24-hour period. Today is also C day on the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge, hence the creatively alliterate title, for which I need to credit my cute and clever wife, whose cunning creativity helped me come up with it.

NB: I do NOT advocate the creasing of corners for holding one’s place in a book. Bookmarks are inexpensive, and can be made cheaply from a piece of printer paper, a piece of newspaper, a square of toilet paper, a pizza coupon, etc. I merely use the term “crease the corner” for the sake of alliteration. Thank you.

Here’s my list (with Goodreads links):

  1. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee. One of, if not the greatest novel ever written. In my humble opinion.
  2. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green. I read this in a day without even breaking a sweat. Not because of my skill as a reader, but because of John Green’s skill as a writer. Have you ever listened to someone talk, or tell a story, and you have so enjoyed listening to them speak, you just wanted them to keep going for hours? That’s what reading this novel was like for me. John Green’s prose style is effortless and as enjoyable as eating chocolate on an empty stomach. The subject of the novel is another matter, but I doubt you’ll find a writer who handles such a sensitive topic with as much grace and style in a novel.
  3. BEHEMOTH by Scott Westerfeld. Technically, I read it within two days, but it was over Christmas Day and Boxing Day, so there were other things going on. But I was pretty much reading when not involved in family festivities.
  4. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS by J. K. Rowling. I took my older kids to the midnight release party at B&N. We came home with two copies of the book. I think I may have read a chapter or two before hitting the sack (it was late). But then the next day, I pretty much read, stopping only for tea, food, and bathroom.
  5. HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE by J. K. Rowling. This arrived via mail from Amazon the afternoon of release day. Again, I only paused from reading to drink tea, eat, and go to the bathroom.
  6. THE CATER STREET HANGMAN by Anne Perry. Detective murder mystery set in Victorian London. Great stuff!
  7. A WALK TO REMEMBER by Nicholas Sparks. Very well written (he deserves his success), but I was surprised how short it is. It didn’t take long to read, partly because of its relative brevity, but also because it is a good book and I wanted to know how it ended.
  8. FLASH BURNOUT by L. K. Madigan. A YA novel with a male protagonist and an interesting premise. Again, I wanted to know how it all resolved (if it did), so I kept reading.
  9. THE MORGUE AND ME by John C. Ford. I haven’t come across much by way of YA detective-type novels, and this one has set the bar high. I really enjoyed it.
  10. THE EYRE AFFAIR by Jasper Fforde. The world, or alternative universe, created by Fforde in this novel is very imaginative, and the characters are a lot of fun. I read JANE EYRE before reading this since I expected Fforde to make reference to the Bronte novel, and wanted to understand them. On a side note, I was surprised to find that JANE EYRE is actually a really enjoyable novel! Anyway, there are lots of references to JANE EYRE, and other literary works.

What’s your favorite book that took you less than a day to read?

 

 

RTW: Book of the Month, March 2012

As is traditional on the last Road Trip Wednesday of the month, the YA Highway ladies want to know What was the best book you read in March?

I seem to be making a habit of choosing one book as the book of the month, and then giving a shout-out to another book I read and enjoyed. Well, this month is no different. It may come as a bit of a surprise, but my shout-out book for this month is THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green. I know for many, this would have been hands-down their book of the month, and it very nearly was for me. The writing is exquisite. John Green is a talented writer, and he definitely knows how to write contemporary YA in a way that is entertaining, relatable, and thoughtful. Every aspiring writer would do well to study John Green’s novels, and this one in particular. He nails the voice, and develops the characters well. He also tackles a very emotional and potentially awkward topic with style, honesty, and compassion. There is much to commend in THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.

However, the book doesn’t get my book of the month because there were some philosophical issues that I couldn’t get past. If you don’t know already, the main characters in the book are teens with various forms of cancer, so issues of pain, life, and death are front and center throughout the novel. I’m not a secular humanist, and so I found my worldview clashing quite dramatically with the worldview of this book, which is very humanist. If you’re not sure what I mean by that, let me give an example. One of the characters expresses the idea that even if your life doesn’t impact the world, if it impacts one life, that’s enough. This is a fine sentiment, and I think there is truth to that–but that’s hardly a satisfactory ultimate reason for existence. It seems to me the view put forward by the book is that the here-and-now is all that matters, and that you feel as if you’ve made a difference somehow. But this assumes the “here-and-now” is all that there is to care about, and there are dangerous consequences to this philosophy (“eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!”). Granted, the characters in the novel don’t pursue those dangerous consequences, but there is no reason given as to why they shouldn’t.

Also, whether intentional or not, I felt the role of faith and the religious community undermined–and perhaps even belittled–throughout. Again, John Green may not have intended this. But I don’t recall any of the teenage characters having a faith-based response to their illness, or even a sympathetic view of faith in the midst of suffering. This, for me, is the most important aspect of this subject, and for it not to be taken seriously (as I felt it wasn’t) was hugely disappointing.

I’m not critiquing the book for not being Christian–there are plenty of books I enjoy (and have made “book of the month”) that are not from a Christian worldview. Rather, it’s the fact that the book attempted to tackle important issues, and yet overlooked, or at least failed to deal satisfactorily with, important alternative perspectives. I appreciate that others, particularly those who share the worldview of the novel, won’t agree with me, but I’m just trying to be honest with you about why I can’t give this book “book of the month.”

So, my book of the month for March is… BREATH, EYES, MEMORY by Edwidge Danticat. The novel is about a Haitian girl who moves to be with her estranged mother in New York when she is twelve. After college, she returns to Haiti, and while there she faces uncomfortable truths about her family. This is a beautifully written book. Danticat, who is originally from Haiti herself, manages to transport the reader to Haiti through a relatively simple prose style. I’ve never been to Haiti, but this book was able to give me the atmosphere, the smells, and the culture of the country. The story itself is an interesting exploration of broken families and how they try to heal and move on within that culture. I wrote a review of the book last Monday, so you can read that if you want to know more about it.

What was your favorite read this month? Join in the Road Trip Wednesday fun at YA Highway!

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring Reads

My blog friend Jaime Morrow is participating in the Tuesday Top Ten over at The Broke and the Bookish. This seems like a fairly easy meme to participate in given the pile of books on my TBR list, so I thought I’d join in (yes, I know it’s not on the schedule… schedules are made to be broken, aren’t they?). Anyway, here’s my top ten:

  • INSURGENT by Veronica Roth. Not out until May, but eagerly anticipated!
  • TANGLED by Erica O’Rourke. I enjoyed TORN, so I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next.
  • THE FUTURE OF US by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler. The premise is intriguing (kids in 1996 find their future Facebook pages). I’ve been looking forward to reading this for a while.
  • NUMB by Sean Ferrell. Another intriguing premise (a man who has no memory and feels no pain tries to piece together what happened to him).
  • LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green. I’ve read a couple of John Green books, and I need to read more. His books are an education on how to write well, especially for Young Adult.
  • MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs. Again, it’s the premise that gets my attention, but this has also been reviewed positively by so many people, I can’t ignore it.
  • SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi. Another book that has received a lot of positive attention. I’m told the prose style is unusual too, so I anticipate a learning experience.
  • EXTRAS by Scott Westerfeld. I’ve read the UGLIES series, and have put off reading this “extra” for long enough!
  • PURGATORY CHASM by Steve Ulfelder. Nominated for an Edgar–I have to find out what the fuss is about.
  • THE PERICLES COMMISSION by Gary Corby. A murder-mystery set in Ancient Greece? This I’ve got to read!

You might notice I linked the titles to Goodreads so you can get more details.

I could have added a bunch more books, but what with writing, family, work, and so on, I’ll be happy if I hit the Summer having got through this lot.

What books are on your Spring TBR list?

Friday Fives: Contemporary Young Adult Books

Okay, so I couldn’t come up with a clever title for today’s blog article. I think I exhausted all my creative resources on Wednesday. Oh well. Today’s Friday Fives at Paper Hangover wants to know: What are your FIVE favorite contemporary YA novels? Even though I haven’t read a lot of contemporary YA, I think I can come up with four, plus one that’s a bit of a cheat but I don’t see why it shouldn’t count…

LIKE MANDARIN by Kirsten Hubbard

From Goodreads: “It’s hard finding beauty in the badlands of Washokey, Wyoming, but 14-year-old Grace Carpenter knows it’s not her mother’s pageant obsessions, or the cowboy dances adored by her small-town classmates. True beauty is wild-girl Mandarin Ramey: 17, shameless and utterly carefree. Grace would give anything to be like Mandarin.”

Beautifully written and well worth your time.

AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES by John Green

From Goodreads: “When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl.”

If you’ve followed any of John and Hank Green’s vlogs, this book fits John’s personality so much. I can just see him trying to come up with a theorem just like Colin’s–though he would leave the actual math to someone else. A fun read. And a male protagonist with a cool first name!

THE MORGUE AND ME by John C. Ford

From Goodreads: “Christopher just needed a job to kill time the summer after high school graduation. He didn’t expect it to be in the morgue. Or that he would accidentally discover a murder cover-up. Or that his discovery would lead him to a full-blown investigation involving bribery, kidnappings, more murders . . . and his best friend. And he certainly could never have predicted that Tina – loud, insanely hot, ambitious newspaper reporter Tina – would be his partner. But all of that did happen. And Christopher’s life will never be the same.”

I enjoyed this a lot, partly because I like murder-mystery-detective type stuff, but also because I thought it was well written. My initial interest came through looking for YA books by males with a male protagonist (nothing against female writers or female protags–I just wanted to see what YA writers of my own gender were producing), and I thought this an interesting premise.

FLASH BURNOUT by L. K. Madigan

From Amazon: “Fifteen-year-old Blake has a girlfriend and a friend who’s a girl. One of them loves him; the other one needs him. When he snapped a picture of a street person for his photography homework, Blake never dreamed that the woman in the photo was his friend Marissa’s long-lost meth addicted mom. Blake’s participation in the ensuing drama opens up a world of trouble, both for him and for Marissa. He spends the next few months trying to reconcile the conflicting roles of Boyfriend and Friend. His experiences range from the comic (surviving his dad’s birth control talk) to the tragic (a harrowing after-hours visit to the morgue). In a tangle of life and death, love and loyalty, Blake will emerge with a more sharply defined snapshot of himself.”

Again, a male protagonist and an interesting premise. Blake doesn’t always make the wisest of decisions–in fact he makes a couple of really stupid, impulse decisions–but that’s part of what makes this book good. We talk on our blogs about flawed heroes, and Blake is certainly that. You root for him, but you slap your head from time to time. And I think that’s a good thing.

MY NOVEL by Me. I couldn’t come up with a fifth, but I really like the novel I’m currently querying, so why not include it? It’s a contemporary YA story, after all! If you want to know more about it, see the tab above that says “The Novel.”

I’m always up for book recommendations, so what contemporary YA books would you recommend to me? And visit Paper Hangover to see what others have said, or to participate in the fun!