Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

"The fault dear Brutus, is not in our Stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings." - Julius Caesar

Hazel Grace was diagnosed with stage four thyroid cancer at the age of thirteen.  At the age of fourteen a medical miracle in the form of a drug trial prolonged her life by shrinking tumors found in her lungs.  Now sixteen, Hazel has been removed from school and is tethered to an oxygen tank. While she is alive and could live on in her current state indefinitely, life is by no means easy.  

Then Hazel meets Augustus Waters at her cancer support group.  He is handsome, a cancer survivor, and he likes Hazel. Being with Augustus changes everything for Hazel and she begins to see the world in a different light. 

Erienne's Review:

Sarah and I recently went to the National Book festival in D.C. and were able to hear John Green speak and then wait in a line of over 1,800 people to get his autograph (thankfully we were not at the end). Waiting in line, it was obvious that John's books have really made a difference in the young adult world.  Teenagers were actually rereading his books as they were waiting in line. One girl in front of us even commented that she had read his book, Looking for Alaska 13 times.  It is good to know that there is an author out there who writes books that teens want to read.  

While The Fault in Our Stars is technically a young adult book, it is definitely a book for adults as well. I have passed this book along to many of my adult friends who have in turn passed it along to someone else.  While reading this book I found myself laughing and crying at the same time. Hazel and Augustus have a beautiful relationship full of struggles, love, and laughter.  I wouldn't miss this one if I were you.  

Sarah's Review: 
This book is quirky, original, beautiful, sad, endearing, soulful, honest, the list could go on and on. I actually thought I would dislike this book since I imagined I already knew how it would end. After-all, how else could a book about a stage four cancer patient end? But I was pleasantly surprised by the interesting twists in the story. The dialogue was witty, in ways it reminded me of Juno, and the characters were real and well-written. The Fault in Our Stars reminds us what it means to truly love someone and begs us to embrace that love no matter how painful it may be. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of John Green's books after seeing such an overwhelming turnout of his fans at the National Book Festival.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Where Things Come Back is a story told from multiple points of view.  The main story line follows seventeen year old Cullen as he and his family deal with the disappearance of his younger brother, Gabriel.  While the search is ongoing for his brother, Cullen's hometown of Lily, Arkansas seems to be more concerned with the possibility of finding a woodpecker that was thought to be extinct.  Concurrently, Whaley begins the story of a young teenage missionary to Africa.  Benton Sage spends less time as a missionary than planned and returns home to find that he is no longer sure what he believes.  Throughout the novel the stories seem disconnected, but Whaley brilliantly ties them together in a way that will definitely take you by surprise. 

My Thoughts:
Where Things Come Back is a novel that confused me in the beginning.  I could not figure out why Whaley was telling two stories that seemed to have nothing to do with one another.  The beauty of this book is how he ties everything together in the end and it all begins to make sense.  This was truly a fabulous novel and one I highly recommend. 

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Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides

Middlesex is the story of Calliope Stephanides, and the three generations of Stephanides before her.  The book follows the family from generation to generation from a tiny village in Greece to Detroit, Michigan. While searching for answers as to why she is different from other girls, Calliope uncovers a dark family secret and a genetic condition that has been hidden for many years.  Understanding that secret is what finally allows Callie to become Cal and to finally feel whole. 
Middlesex is an epic tale of a family's immigration to the United States and what it means to become an American. It is an interesting look at how the history of our family can shape us into what we will become. Calliope's story is at times heartbreaking, but written so truthfully it is beautiful.  This book is a little bit of a heavy read, and not for everyone due to some sensitive sexual material, but it is so beautifully written it's hard to put down.  Jeffrey Eugenides is a master of words.

The Front Porch Prophet by Raymond Atkins

The Front Porch Prophet is the story of A.J. Longstreet. Raised by his father and grandmother, A.J. is an honorable man and a loving father and husband. When A.J. is reunited with his old friend Eugene and learns that his friend is dying of cancer, he is forced to make an unthinkable decision. Eugene would like for A.J. to put him out of his misery when the time comes. The rekindled friendship stirs up many memories for the duo- both good and bad. This book is a collection of those memories and of the new ones they make together before Eugene's untimely demise.

Raymond Atkins somehow manages to turn a sad situation into one of the most hilarious books I have ever read. I actually laughed out loud at several points in this book. Set in rural Georgia, the characters are unforgettable and the situations that A.J. finds himself in are unbelievable. The book reads like a couple of old men sitting around a campfire rehashing the adventures of a lifetime.  I absolutely love good southern literature. Raymond Atkins captures the spirit of the south and the humor of its people flawlessly. What I loved most about this book was that while it was very entertaining to read, at its heart it is a story of forgiveness and true friendship. I can not recommend this book enough. I would be willing to place it on my top five all time favorites list. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten

High-powered attorney Danielle Parkman's son, Max, is autistic, smart, and increasingly aggressive. When his behavior becomes dangerous to both him and her she has him admitted to a top-notch psychiatric facility. She soon finds Max unconscious and covered in blood beside a patient that has been brutally murdered. When all signs point to Max, Danielle is determined to fight for her son even if she isn't entirely sure of his innocence.

Once Saving Max picked up a little steam the story got very interesting. It moves quickly and I honestly couldn't decide if I believed Max was innocent or guilty until the end of the book. It's an interesting look at just how far a mother is willing to go for her son.  This book is action packed and even a little disturbing. I wish I could have liked the main characters a little more, perhaps that's why I didn't really find myself rooting for anyone in the book, but the storyline kept my curiosity peaked enough to have me racing to the end. I'm actually surprised by how many bad reviews this book received, I found it to be a quick, exciting read.