Book Review: If He Had Been With Me

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If he had been with me everything would have been different…

I wasn’t with Finn on that August night. But I should’ve been. It was raining, of course. And he and Sylvie were arguing as he drove down the slick road. No one ever says what they were arguing about. Other people think it’s not important. They do not know there is another story. The story that lurks between the facts. What they do not know—the cause of the argument—is crucial.

So let me tell you…-Goodreads summary

Publication Date: April 1, 2013.

Favorite Quote from the Book:

“I want to savor this wonder, this happening of loving a book and reading it for the first time, because the first time is always the best, and I will never read this book for the first time ever again.” 

My Thoughts:

Don’t be fooled by my favorite quote; this book is not about the love of books.  However, the main character, Autumn is an avid reader and writer so there are many quotes in this book dedicated to her two passions which I find most enjoyable.

I purchased this book on a whim from Amazon because it was priced for approximately $3—a bargain I could not pass.  Upon receiving the package, the book retired to my bookshelf for a year only to be picked up a couple of days ago.  As I have not heard much about this book, I went into the reading with little to no expectations.  Admittedly, I was hoping for a novel similar to 7 Souls, ones of my favorite books.  Yet, this book is far from that.  Rather than watching my protagonist try to defeat her death like in 7 Souls, Autumn discovers love and its implications and limitations.  Yes, very different than my slight anticipation.

Autumn is not a typical teenage girl.  She craves being different, enjoys being known as “the weird girl,” and is perfectly okay with settling.  Rather than find her irksome, the novel reveals reasons as to why she is so different from her peers, and it breaks the reader’s heart.  Throughout the novel, Autumn reveals pieces of herself to the audience which definitely demonstrates the many dimensions she has as a character.

While this revelation of Autumn is necessary, I, unfortunately, find it to be a bit too slow for my taste.  Many scenes were unnecessary.  There are frequent tense changes.  Other pivotal scenes are cut too short with little explanation.  Additionally, the ending, the most pivotal moment of the book, fell extremely short of my expectations.  I feel that Nowlin quickly wrote this ending scene and left it totally ambiguous that it is frustrating to readers.  Together, these elements make the novel a bit frustrating to me at times. 

Despite my frustrations, Nowlin’s writing is decently easy to follow and rather addicting.  While I read this book, I got lost for hours in this world many times.  This book is a great summer read that you can quickly finish.    

My Rating:

★★★ 3/5 stars!

Recommendation:

I’d recommend this to those who enjoy realistic and contemporary young adult fiction.

 

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Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

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Despite the tumor-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.

Publication Date: January 10, 2012.

Favorite Quote from the Book:

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” 

My Thoughts:

Sadly, I did not fall for the hype of this book like so many others.  To me, it was an average book.  It is not awful, but I do not deem it a favorite like so many others.

One aspect of this book that I can appreciate is John Green’s overall writing-style.  Having read Looking for Alaska (and also deeming it an “average book”), I can see how much Green has developed as a writer and author.  The prose in this book is phenomenal and some of the best in Young Adult literature.  Sentences and metaphors (which seemed to annoy many people) seamlessly flow together creating a relatively pleasant read for readers.

However, I could not let Green’s beautiful prose distract the content within the book.  Mainly, I have an issue between the romance of Augustus and Hazel.  Sadly, I would have to label their relationship as the stereotypical “insta-love.”  Since Green is such a renowned writer, I never believed he would stoop to writing insta-love in his stories, but I appear to be wrong.  In my opinion, I think the novel would have been better if Augustus and Hazel remained friends.  For a majority of their relationship, they acted as merely best friends and less like lovers.  I feel as though Green included the romance element in the book to make the story more heart-wrenching.  Simply, the romance is a distraction for a majority of this plot.

One of the biggest issues Augustus and Hazel face is their battles with cancers.  However, one is not completely aware of the severity of their cancers and what exactly their cancers entail.  Rather, the book placed a lot of emphasis on the “sick lovers” aspect.  When a child is diagnosed with cancer, falling in love is one of the last things on their mind.  There’s issues of treatments, finances, and death.  These are so overwhelming that a sick child cannot even begin to comprehend or tackle a relationship in the way Augustus and Hazel did.  I hate to say this, but it is a rather unrealistic portrayal of children with cancer; I know Green is highly praised for his realistic portrayal of teens, but this just wasn’t cutting it for me.

Additionally, I found the dialogue between Hazel and Augustus to be unlikely for two teenagers.  Do not get me wrong, Hazel and Augustus’s conversations are beautifully written and make great quotes, but no teenager talks so eloquently.  Admittedly, I cringe for the day when I will read the word “swag” in a young adult book, but at least that’s how some teenagers talk.  A majority of the young adult population talks in slang, and many do not possess the knowledge or vocabulary that Augustus and Hazel exhibit throughout this book.  In my opinion, Augustus and Hazel are character versions of Green himself; I have nothing against Green, but there is a slight generation gap between him and teenagers which make his “typical conversations” very improbable to the conversations high school students have.

I do not want people to get me wrong.  I appreciate this book.  In fact, I firmly believe there need to be more books written about cancers, diseases, and illnesses.  Unfortunately, many Young Adult authors write books with perfect characters, perfect worlds, and perfect situations when this is hardly the case in many teens’ lives.  Many teenagers struggle with a variety of imperfections, and Young Adult authors should strive to demonstrate the commonality that exists in their problems.  After all, reading unites us!  However, I think that The Fault in Our Stars, while it details the account of two children with cancer, fails to completely recognize that life isn’t always perfect.  I applaud Green for his attempt, and I encourage him and others to continue to write books to the younger generation that demonstrate the imperfections we all face.

Overall, this book is an average contemporary read for me.  It is probably not one that I will reread in the immediate future, but I will always appreciate it as it is the first novel that I have read about cancer.

My Rating:

★ ★★ 3/5 stars!

Recommendation:

I would recommend this book searching for a contemporary novel detailing illnesses.  I would not recommend this book to those wanting to read a beautiful love story as I feel like the relationship between Augustus and Hazel is more of a friendship.

Mention Monday: Red Riding Hood

Mention Monday is the day where I give a book recommendation.  Additionally, they are a part of my Daily Post; to learn more about it, click here.

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The blacksmith would marry her.
The woodcutter would run away with her.
The werewolf would turn her into one of its own.

Valerie’s sister was beautiful, kind, and sweet. Now she is dead. Henry, the handsome son of the blacksmith, tries to console Valerie, but her wild heart beats fast for another: the outcast woodcutter, Peter, who offers Valerie another life far from home.

After her sister’s violent death, Valerie’s world begins to spiral out of control. For generations, the Wolf has been kept at bay with a monthly sacrifice. But now no one is safe. When an expert Wolf hunter arrives, the villagers learn that the creature lives among them–it could be anyone in town.

It soon becomes clear that Valerie is the only one who can hear the voice of the creature. The Wolf says she must surrender herself before the blood moon wanes…or everyone she loves will die.

Based on a screenplay written by David Leslie Johnson.-Goodreads summary

After reading this book I was extremely dumbfounded with how to rate and review it.  One one hand the book frustrated me.  The beginning was a tad slow.  The plot summary ruins a huge plot twist.  The book was a piece of advertisement for the then upcoming movie.  And, yes, it involves a stereotypical love triangle with paranormal elements to complicate matters.  

Beyond this I was hooked.  I adored all of the characters; since there was a huge mystery element in this book, I found myself questioning every character and his or her motive.  Since every character fell under suspicion, their life stories became imperative to solving the mystery.  Not only did this generate interest in the characters, it also gave the characters depth-something I believe is imperative in successful character development.

Additionally, I enjoyed how the overall mystery was completely unpredictable; it left me with my jaw dropped and the inability to read for a few days.

While not many people like the complete novel, I enjoyed these elements of the story.  For some reason these aspects enabled me to look beyond the “typical frustrations” and appreciate its good portions.  No it is not a groundbreaking YA novel, but it is an enjoyable read-one that I read in one sitting, and for these reasons I would recommend this book.

*What is a book that you would recommend?  Comment below!*

Book Recommendations?

Hello, everyone!  I am in the process of compiling a list of various book recommendations according to genres.  However, I have one section dedicated to my follower’s recommendations, so I need your help.  If you have any recommendations, whether it is an adult thriller, new adult romance, or young adult dystopian, all are accepted!  Of course, you will get credit (I’ll link your blog within the rec, as you deserve it!)  Please send as many as you desire!  I greatly appreciate all of your help!

Happy reading!

Katie 🙂

Friday Reads (7/26/13)

Happy Friday!  The weekend is finally here!  It’s time for Friday Reads, in which I share with you all what I plan on reading this weekend.  Friday Reads is a query that was started on Twitter and has been carried over to the book blogging/vlogging community.  It is also a part of my Daily Post; to learn more about it click here.

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Witnessing a brutal murder at work is only the beginning of Celia’s problems. The fact that the victim is a vampire only proves to complicate her life even more. The vampires of New England have always had an undetected existence among humans but with the unprovoked death of one of their own, the lust for revenge has begun. Celia’s concerns are magnified when a hunter from Dallas arrives in town. With Jay’s sexy smile and rugged ways, Celia finds herself wanting to spend time with him despite being mysteriously linked to the nest that is threatening to become extinct if Jay gets his way. When four bodies are found drained of blood; Jay teams up with a local bunch to take out all the undead which coincidentally, includes her boyfriend Victor. Celia won’t stand seeing anything happen to Victor but refuses to hurt Jay as well. Confusion, lust, rage and violence intertwine as worlds collide. Celia will soon discover that her neat little start to unravel.-Goodreads summary

I received Sweet from the author and publisher via Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.  Currently, I am 50% into it and find it to be a fairly easy read.  After completing The Book Thief, Wilkerson’s conversational writing style is easy to comprehend, which makes this book a fairly quick read.  Despite its writing style, I do have some issues with the book, which I’m sure will be detailed in my review.  I hope to be finished with it tonight, as I am trying to complete many of my ARCs and write my reviews!

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When 13-year-old Gretchen Harris’s mother is murdered at Gretchen’s 8th Grade graduation party, everyone in the town of Delphi, California, suspects a power struggle within the Oculus Society: Delphi’s version of the Junior League.  Gretchen’s best friend, Jessica Shaw, might even hold the key to finding the culprit withThe Plotinus Ability: the Oculus Society’s jealously guarded secret power to trade souls, which hinges on a kiss. Gretchen’s hope at finding the murderer ends in tragedy when Ariel Miller—the class outcast—stalks Gretchen and Jessica and surreptitiously films them exchanging a kiss to test if the Plotinus Ability is real, not knowing their motives. The ensuing YouTube video (“Popular Girls = Secret Lovers”) goes viral, Gretchen’s and Jessica’s lives are further shattered, and they vanish from Delphi.

Flash forward two years later: Ariel is suddenly the most popular junior in town, but wracked with guilt over what she did to Gretchen and Jessica.  When both girls reappear after their mysterious absence, Ariel finds herself pawn, suspect, and key player in their scheme to bring the murderer to justice.-Goodreads summary

I was provided Projection from the publishing company (Soho Teen) via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  I have approximately three weeks to get this book read and reviewed, so I definitely need to start this one!  I’m looking forward to the mystery elements in this story.  Of course, there will be a review published in the future!  Hopefully, I get this finished this weekend so I can check another ARC off my list!

*What are you reading this weekend?  Comment below!*

Thirsty Thursday: Projection

Happy Thursday!  It is time for be to talk about a book that I cannot wait to read!  Thirsty Thursdays are a part of my Daily Post; to learn more about it, click here.

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When 13-year-old Gretchen Harris’s mother is murdered at Gretchen’s 8th Grade graduation party, everyone in the town of Delphi, California, suspects a power struggle within the Oculus Society: Delphi’s version of the Junior League.  Gretchen’s best friend, Jessica Shaw, might even hold the key to finding the culprit withThe Plotinus Ability: the Oculus Society’s jealously guarded secret power to trade souls, which hinges on a kiss. Gretchen’s hope at finding the murderer ends in tragedy when Ariel Miller—the class outcast—stalks Gretchen and Jessica and surreptitiously films them exchanging a kiss to test if the Plotinus Ability is real, not knowing their motives. The ensuing YouTube video (“Popular Girls = Secret Lovers”) goes viral, Gretchen’s and Jessica’s lives are further shattered, and they vanish from Delphi.

Flash forward two years later: Ariel is suddenly the most popular junior in town, but wracked with guilt over what she did to Gretchen and Jessica.  When both girls reappear after their mysterious absence, Ariel finds herself pawn, suspect, and key player in their scheme to bring the murderer to justice.-Goodreads summary

Earlier this summer, I received Projection from Netgalley in exchange for a review.  After two months of insane hard drive computer issues, I finally have my computer working and was able to download this book to my Nook.

As its publication date is impending (September 3, 2013), I definitely need to shake a leg and read this book!  Quite frankly, I’m in the mood for a creepy mystery that involves some stalker elements, so I think this book will suit my cravings!

I look forward to reading and reviewing this book fairly soon!

*What books can you not wait to read?  Comment below!*

Happy reading!

Katie

Currently Reading: Sweet and am 41% into it.

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Book Review: The Book Thief

It’s Tuesday, so that means it is time for another book review!  Tuesday Book Reviews are a part of my Daily Post, to learn more about it, click here.

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A New York Times bestseller for seven years running that’s coming to movie theaters on November 15, 2013, this Printz Honor book by the author of I Am the Messenger is an unforgettable tale about the ability of books to feed the soul.Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.-Goodreads summary

Favorite Quote from the Book (New Segment!):

I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.

MY THOUGHTS:

Judge the Book by its Cover:


For a long time I did not understand the significance of this cover. How is a stack of dominoes relevant to the story? After certain scenes from the book and much thought, I came to the conclusion that the game of dominoes serves as imagery for the overall plot. Think of the game: there’s a succession of domino cubes; with a slight nudge on one, the whole line begins to fall one after another. In my days of physics, my teacher would state Newton’s principle that “Every action has a subsequent action.” Boom. That’s The Book Thief for you. Regardless of how much good readers wish for the characters, World War II is beyond their control. They are forced to become domino pieces in the intricate design created by government, and like the game, they are destined to fall. What an awesome cover design by Zusak and his cover artist!

Things that Made Me Happy:

As an avid lover of historical fiction novels, especially those written about the World War II era, I am certainly displeased at how long it took me to read this book. Regardless, I read it, and I insanely love it.

Overall, the book bestows a variety of meaningful messages to its readers. The powers of love, friendship, family, and words are the most prevalent in this novel, as they are learned by the main character, Liesel Meminger, who is living in Nazi Germany during World War II. Her struggles, failures, and successes are felt by the readers because at some point in our lives, we have all been Liesel-lost, confused, and feeling trapped within limitations. Liesel finds comfort through these hardships in those around her and through reading/stealing books. These people and books leave withstanding impacts on her life, which teach her the importance of the aforementioned themes.

Liesel acquires this understanding within this 500+ pages novel in the most interesting tale that has readers laughing on one page and bawling on the next. Narrated by Death, Liesel’s story unfolds beginning with a timid young girl and ends with a mature knowledgeable woman. Death includes the various people, events, and objects, which impact Liesel. In short this novel is a coming-of-age story (in my opinion it is one of the best). However, Liesel’s character and the narration set this book apart from books with similar “maturation” plot lines. As mentioned, readers have been like Liesel at least once in their lives, feeling the pressures of peers, unwilling to conform to trends, not understanding the world around us, etc. Through Death’s narration, readers embody Liesel. This sets apart The Book Thief from other books.

Simply, this book encourages readers to think: on the surface one could think, “What would I do if I were in Liesel’s circumstance?” However, the more invested one gets in the story, he or she finds himself asking, “How do I respond to situations that call for me to fit a mold?” Moreover, this book transcends its 1930s-1940s plot and is has the ability to be relevant to modern times; to say that this book is a beautifully and artistically creation is an understatement.

I certainly could continue praising this book, but I must encourage you to read it for yourselves!

Things that Made Me Unhappy:

Nothing.

My Rating:

★★★5/5 stars!

Recommendation:

Regardless of your age, genre preferences, etc., I highly encourage EVERYONE to read this book!