Jen’s Book Club

I’m going rogue and reviewing a movie adaptation of a book that I already reviewed. The Fault in Our Stars, anyone?

So I said a couple months ago that this book made me ugly cry with the best of them, and allow me to inform you: the ugly crying was audible throughout the theater on this film’s opening night. The girls across from me were basically in shambles before the credits finished rolling.

So it was sad.

I don’t know what we expected.  Seeing a heart wrenching storyline portrayed in real life was nothing short of devastating, but ALSO let me tell you that this movie was the most accurate book to movie adaptation I’ve seen to date.  The characters were cast spot on, the dialogue was 90% verbatim from very pages I cried onto, and the emotion was raw just as spectacularly translated as it was under that famous cloudy cover. And oh, it’s humor was not lost on me.

I laughed. I cried. I cried harder. I was thankful for waterproof eyeliner. And despite the tears and the wadded popcorn scented napkins (a product of my wringing hands), it was absolutely beautiful. And of course, I plan to go again.

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Stay tuned for Anne’s Book Club post next Wednesday.

Jen’s Book Club

I just recently finished my subject for this week’s book club. For the fifth time.

Before I unveil the title, I would like to tell you why my heart is sunk deep into this novel.

I like it because it’s harsh. I like it because it promotes weirdness. I like it because parts of it are so heartbreakingly true that I had to close it to wipe my leaking eyeballs. I might have been crying. I might have been laughing. I don’t cry and tell.

Harsh. Weird. True. Heartbreaking. Funny.

That about sums up John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.

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From Goodreads:

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.

Okay you guys, yes it’s a love story and a beautiful star-crossed one at that, but it’s also about facing the multifaceted agonies of death. It’s unexpectedly raw and unassuming. John Green doesn’t make death out to be something that is full of strength and courage; he makes it real. He makes it hurt because it does, and in his own words, “it hurts because it matter(s).” This is true in love and loss and life, and that’s what you get in this gorgeous novel.

Pick it up. Try not to cry. I dare you.

 

Jen’s Book Club

Am I the only one who has a strategy when shopping for books? I have it down to a science. First, authors on my radar are perused and back cover blurbs are skimmed. I hold the book in both hands. I open it, careful not to crack the spine. I read. If I make it 3-5 pages in without putting it down, I carry it around for awhile just to be friendly. Lather, rinse, repeat. Then I start over, and try to put them all back. If I have trouble putting them back, I take them home.

I have trouble a lot.

I swear, they give me puppy dog eyes. It’s awful.

Because of the trouble and the puppy dog eyes, my TO READ pile is taking over my life. I think they breed and multiply while I sleep, like rabbits.

I thought I would share a few of the books I was unable to put down: the ones with puppy dog eyes and the breeding propensity of rabbits (in no certain order) (all summaries from amazon.com).

1. Black City, by Elizabeth Richards

A dark and tender post-apocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war

In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable–they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed–but their feelings are too strong.

When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.

2. Fell, by David Clement Davies

In this dark, thrilling fairy tale, it is the wolf who saves the girl. Fell, the dark-furred twin brother of Larka, the heroine of The Sight, must face life without his sister or the rest of his loving pack. He’s a lone wolf now, a “kerl,” an outcast from his kind who shares his sister’s fatal gift for seeing the future and the thoughts of others. This gift leads him to befriend a young girl, also an outcast from her people. They have a shared destiny: to free the land from a tyrannical ruler who would enslave man and animal alike.
 
The prequel to this book, David Clement-Davies’s bestselling animal fantasy The Sight, is set among the wolves of Transylvania.

3. Sylo, by D.J. MacHale

They came from the sky, parachuting out of military helicopters to invade Tucker Pierce’s idyllic hometown on Pemberwick Island, Maine.
 
They call themselves SYLO and they are a secret branch of the U.S. Navy. SYLO’s commander, Captain Granger, informs Pemberwick residents that the island has been hit by a lethal virus and must be quarantined. Now Pemberwick is cut off from the outside world.
 
Tucker believes there’s more to SYLO’s story. He was on the sidelines when the high school running back dropped dead with no warning. He saw the bizarre midnight explosion over the ocean, and the mysterious singing aircraft that travel like shadows through the night sky. He tasted the Ruby—and experienced the powers it gave him—for himself.
 
What all this means, SYLO isn’t saying. Only Tucker holds the clues that can solve this deadly mystery.

4. Everyday, by David Levithan

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

5. Let it Snow, by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson

Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

I can’t wait to read all of these before fifteen more appear! What’s on your list of books to read?

Julie’s Book Club: 12 for the New Year

I’m cheating a little this time and instead of reviewing a book (the book I ordered has not found its way to me yet…) I am going to look ahead at 12 books I hope to read in the New Year:

1)      Hild: A Novel by Nicola Griffith

This historical novel is about Hild, the niece of the King of Britain who grows into a powerful figure–and eventually is sainted Hilda of Whitby. I’ve loved Griffith’s fluid prose since I happened upon her novel Slow River years ago. I can’t wait to see what she does in a historical setting–7th Century Britain.

2)      Embassytown by China Miéville

A friend suggested I read Miéville for his immersive worlds. I chose this book, about the human colonist Avice Benner Cho, who returns to Embassytown after years of adventuring in deep space. Homecoming stories interest me, and especially those that touch upon the possibilities of great shifts in space and time between one’s leaving and one’s return.

3)      The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

This is on my Christmas list. I started reading The Sandman comics in high school, and I’ve been hooked on Gaiman since. This novel, about a businessman who returns home and delves into childhood memories best left undisturbed, promises to be dark and dreamlike. I can’t wait to see how the three Fate-like women, who live in the house at the end of the lane, are drawn and what their roles are.

4)      The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Water horses. A girl named Puck. Horse races. Fate. Even if not for Jen’s endorsement of Stiefvater, I’d probably still pluck this book off the shelf.

5)      The Ward by Jordana Frankel

This is Frankel’s YA debut, a dystopian novel about New York after floods, plagues, high-stakes hover racing, and friendship. I got to meet Frankel and hear about the book while it was still being edited, and I want to know how it ends!

6)      Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

This novel has been sitting on my shelf for far too long. (Anyone else have that curse where they buy books and don’t read them, but borrow them and finish them in a day?) I loved and was disturbed by The Handmaid’s Tale, The Blind Assassin, and The Year of the Flood, so I don’t know what I’m waiting for. 2014, perhaps?

7)      Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel by Susanna Clarke

This is another of those books that has been recommended time and again. Like The Prestige, it is about two magicians, and it works in slow reveals. I’ll want to be taking notes on suspense and plot the entire time, if I can keep that up through 1,000-plus pages.

8)      Zig-Zag Wanderer by Madison Smartt Bell

Bell’s limited edition short story collection will be distributed for free (with the request that readers make a donation to a worthy cause), and I hope to catch him reading at The Ivy bookshop in Baltimore next week. The stories, set in the U.S., Haiti, and other places, are mostly named after songs (REM’s “Fall on Me” is among them) and some include musical elements themselves. Bell’s work often goes to dark and strange places–count me in.

9)      The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Because Anne said so.

10)  The Harry Potter audiobooks

This might be wishful thinking, but one of these days I’d like to listen to all of the audiobooks, as performed by Jim Dale.

11)  The Bondwoman’s Narrative: A Novel by Hannah Crafts

Written in the 1850s, this may be the first novel penned by a female African American slave. Crafts, a mulatto, writes about the autobiographical experiences of “passing” and making her way to freedom. Her unpublished manuscript was discovered in 2001 by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.

12)  Looking for Alaska by John Green

After thoroughly enjoying Will Grayson, Will Grayson and tearing up at The Fault in Our Stars, I’m ready for another John Green novel. His YA protagonists are strongly voiced, and their struggles are both uniquely their own and universal. He draws the high school out crowd in a completely new way, and the lessons they learn are just as applicable to adults picking up these books.

So, that’s my list. Is there anything you would recommend? Have any thoughts about something I’ve added? Leave them in the comments!