Thursday, March 21, 2013

Looking For Alaska by John Green

Sixteen year old Miles "Pudge" Halter, who has a talent for remembering famous last words, is in search of the "Great Perhaps." He is done with his boring,  friendless life in Florida and decides to follow in his father's footsteps by enrolling at the Culver Creek Boarding School.  Upon arrival, Miles meets his roommate Chip Martin, known as The Colonel, who is extremely poor, but a genius.  The Colonel's best friend, Alaska Young, lives down the hall and has managed to get almost every one of her male friends to fall in love with her.  Alaska is creative, beautiful, and extremely intelligent.  The Colonel and Alaska introduce Pudge into the world of smoking and drinking and also show him how to pull off the best pranks.  They go to class, cut up, and live life together until tragedy strikes.  

My Thoughts: 

As the characters deal with loss (you'll have to read the book to find out the details), author John Green addresses issues of grief and suffering. While Looking for Alaska does not have the typical happy ending, it is a great book that takes a look into the life of a few teenagers who have to experience some difficult things.   As a John Green fan, I definitely recommend this one. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bossypants by Tina Fey

I tend to stick to fiction when I'm reading. An autobiography would typically be last on my list of books to read, but I kept hearing great things about Tina Fey's book Bossypants so I decided to give it a shot. The book follows Fey through her childhood in rural Pennsylvania all the way to her life as a mother and producer of the show "30 Rock". It's really just a rambling look at a person with a pretty interesting life. 

I really enjoyed the book. I got a few good laughs and even a little insight into life.  I was surprised by how much I could relate to her life as a mother trying to balance her family life and work. I really appreciated her honesty about her feelings towards herself, her appearance, and her perception of the world around her. Plus it's full of helpful little advice nuggets like, "If you are a woman and you bought this book for practical tips on how to make it in a male-dominated workplace, here they are. No pigtails, no tube tops. Cry sparingly." And if you haven't read Tina Fey's "Letter for My Daughter", Google it. It's an excerpt from Bossypants and it's fantastic. Overall it's a fun, short read. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Where'd You Go, Bernadette? begins with 15 year old Bee's journey to find her mother, Bernadette, who has disappeared.  Bee tells her mother's story leading up to the disappearance through a number of emails, letters, faxes, and texts written by Bernadette, Bee's father, and "the gnats," just to name a few.  Before moving to Seattle, where Bee has grown up, Bernadette lived in LA as a world renown architect.  Bernadette and her husband moved to Seattle when he was offered a job at Microsoft.  With aspirations to renovate, Bernadette purchased an old reformatory school for their home.  The renovations never happened as Bernadette soon had four miscarriages.  Bee was then born with a heart defect and spent many of her younger years in the hospital having one surgery after another.  All of this stress added to the fact that Bernadette absolutely despises Seattle causes her to become a bit of a hermit. She rarely leaves the house and even hires a virtual personal assistant from India to take care of daily tasks.  The walls of her home are practically falling down around her and Bernadette could care less. Bee's father decides that there needs to be an intervention for Bernadette, but in the midst of the intervention, Bernadette escapes through a bathroom window and disappears. Few clues are left to her whereabouts, but Bee who cannot imagine life without her mother, refuses to give up searching.  

My Thoughts:
There are so many great things about this book.  Semple tells the story in a very unique way by piecing together correspondance between characters.  She masterfully organizes these and the story flows just like a regular narrative.  Readers are also allowed to see the story from multiple perspectives, which adds a unique twist.  By far, the best thing about this book is Semple's wit and humor.  Bernadette is a hysterical character who had me laughing constantly.  Throughout the novel you will wonder if Bernadette is crazy and try to figure out where in the world she went, only to discover that things are not always as they appear.  

Monday, March 4, 2013

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Warning: Siege and Storm is the second book in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy.  If you have not read the first book, Shadow and Bone, then there will definitely be spoilers in this review.  Check out my review of the first book here: Shadow and Bone.  

Siege and Storm begins right where Shadow and Bone left off. Alina and Mal have taken refuge on a ship sailing north hoping to travel far away from the Darkling.  While on the run, Alina is haunted by her life as the Sun Summoner and feels a strong need to use her powers.  It is not long before the Darkling is able to find Alina and Mal and take them captive aboard a whaler.  They soon learn that the Darkling has plans to make Alina the most powerful Grisha in the world.  

My Thoughts:  This second installment in the Grisha Trilogy is just as good, if not better than the first.  Bardugo once again provides interesting twists and turns throughout the novel that are not expected.  I love that she keeps her readers on the edge of their seats, wondering what will happen next. New characters are also introduced including: Sturmhound, the captain of the whaling ship, and two members of his crew.  These characters become key players in the novel and take the story in a completely different direction than I could have imagined.  

I must also warn that while I thoroughly enjoy all of the twists and turns, they were somewhat frustrating. Alina really struggles in this novel and I found myself verbally trying to help her make decisions about what to do next.  Needless to say,  I am very much looking forward to the third and final book to see how this wonderful story ends. 

Note: I received an advance copy of Siege and Storm to write this review.  Its actual publication date is June 4, 2013.