Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Ten Books I'd Recommend to John Green Fans

John Green is my favorite author, and I tend to read a lot of books in the same sort of style, so I thought of doing this post. There were others I wanted to put in, like Hate List and Someone Else's Life, but I thought the ones below were more appropriate. Are there any others you think I should have put in? Hope you enjoy it!

 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Narrated by Death, this is the story of the adopted Liesel Meminger, her family and friends. Living in Germany during World War Two, it shows the point of view of the commonplace people, and the things they did to survive. This will break your heart.

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares/ Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
These books are both set in New York, told from two points of view, and are both amazing. Dash and Lily is based during Christmas; Lily leaves a notebook in her favorite book shop with a list of dares inside. Dash picks it up, and so begins their massive game of Dares, sending each other all over the city. Nick and Norah is about two music junkies thrown together by chance, who spend the night together trying to figure out their lives and each other. (I'm counting these as one, because they're by the same authors. Kinda cheating but I couldn't just put one in.)

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
This book is so gorgeous. I did a full review a few weeks ago, if you want more information. Based in Australia, it tells the story of Lucy and Ed throughout one night. It's the end of the school year and Lucy is determined to find Shadow- the mysterious graffiti artist whose work is all over the city. She enlists Ed to help her find him. The prose is beautifully poetic and the story is interesting. 

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
With writing as poetic as Graffiti Moon and as emotional as The Fault In Our Stars, you will fall in love with this book. A guarantee, or your money back. Lennie is simultaneously grieving the death of her sister, falling in love, and trying not to fall for her sister's boyfriend. I went through a phase of rereading this constantly. One of my four favorite books.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Mia is the one classical musician in a family of rockers. Even her boyfriend, Adam, is in a band. I won't say much, because I don't want to give away more than is in the blurb, but I will say that, one day, Mia finds herself with only one choice left. And it is the most difficult choice of all. 
The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
Having been discharged from a mental hospital, Pat Peoples tries to rebuild his life. His one aim is to get back together with his estranged wife. And then he meets Tiffany, the equally damaged sister of his friend's wife. Very well written, very emotional and very good.

 Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
Although it took me a while to get into this one, by halfway through I was hooked. Cullen Witter's younger brother goes missing at the same time as a supposedly extinct species of woodpecker is spotted in his town. The writing isn't as poetically brilliant as Graffiti Moon or The Sky Is Everywhere, but it is different. And hell, John Corey Whaley knows how to end a book.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
One of my favorite books ever, mainly because of the writing. The book is Min's letter to her ex-boyfriend Ed, documenting their relationship and giving all his things back to him. One of my favorite lines from it is; "I never told you how beautiful it was then, like everyone was telling us not to be". There is no way I could ever write a decent review of this book, but you should definitely read it, whether you like John Green or not.

The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
I saw the film before I read this, and I wish I hadn't. The book is so much better. To me, if you think of two writers who go together really well, and write in kind of the same way about kind of the same things, it is John Green and Stephen Chbosky. I don't think he's written anything else, but this is amazing. After the suicide of his best friend, Charlie finds himself making friends with his English teacher, a senior called Patrick, and his stepsister Sam.
Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid
Twin sisters Rebecca and Hephzibah always had each other to rely on, having spent their whole lives under the control of their preacher father. Now Hephzibah- the confident, popular one- is dead, and Rebecca has to live without her. I have never read anything like this, and nothing I say will be able to sum it up, but it is amazing.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Review: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Blurb: London 1862. Sue Trinder, orphaned at birth, grows up among petty thieves- fingersmiths- under the rough but loving care of Mrs Sucksby and her "family". But from the moment she draws breath, Sue's fate is linked to that of another orphan growing up in a gloomy mansion not too many miles away.

What I thought: This was recommended to me by one of my teachers, and it really surprised me. It's not the kind of book you generally expect a teacher to lend one of her students. If I had to sum it up in three words I'd say surprising, strange, and complicated. There's one part especially that completely shocked me. I just didn't see it coming.

It seems that everyone in this book has some ulterior motive or secret- no one is completely who you think they are. None of the characters are completely good; they are all very complex, and do things you never would have expected them to.
Although I didn't fall totally in love with Sue and Maud, I did emphasize with them, and found them very interesting. They are very different from what you would normally expect heroines to be like. 

This book, like onions, cakes, and ogres, has many layers. There's just more and more stuff that you don't know, and more and more twists that never seem to end. It's a very dark story, told in a very dark way. I think the setting really affected me, and the way I saw this book. Both Briar and Lant Street are very unpleasant places, for completely different reasons, and it seemed to me like their whole world was horrible and there was no way they could get out of it. Not the best feeling, but it did work with the story.

There's really not that much else I can say about it. If you're a fan of mysteries, historical fiction, Oliver Twist-like gangs and plots, read this. It will shock you.

Rate: 6/10

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Review: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Blurb: School is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate; tonight she's going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work is all over the city. Somewhere in the glassy darkness, he's out there, spraying colour, birds and blue sky on the night. And Lucy knows that a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for- really fall for. The last person Lucy wants to spend this night with is Ed, the guy she's managed to avoid since punching him in the nose on the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells Lucy he knows where to find Shadow, the two of them are suddenly on an all-night search to places where Shadow's heartbreak and escape echo off the city walls. And what Lucy can't see is the one thing that's right before her eyes.

What I thought: I loved this book. I loved the poetry, and the colours, and the graffiti. I loved Lucy's glass-blowing, and how she had her own, unique form of art too. I loved the descriptions, and emotions, and I really loved the characters. This book sparkles, but not in a flashy way, like The Great Gatsby, all champagne and fireworks. This book sparkles like the stars.

Let's start with the front cover. How gorgeous is it? My copy has a different cover (stupid Amazon!) but I love this so much I had to put it on. I love the lights in the background, and the white spray paint. Also, the title. Graffiti Moon has to be one of the best titles ever, up there with The Fault In Our Stars and The Sky Is Everywhere. The writing, too, is quite like Jandy Nelson's writing in The Sky Is Everywhere. Cath Crowley uses the same poetic, romantic language, but instead of music being one of the central themes, there is art. Instead of using music as an emotional outpouring, both Shadow and Lucy use their art. Instead of their thoughts and feelings coming out in sound, they come out in their glass and paintings. They are able to create their memories and emotions, and make them physical things. I liked the idea that you can feel and think in colour and light, rather than words. This book made me wish I was better at art (I'm not terrible, I just work really slowly).

I've never read anything by an Australian author before. I don't know why, I just never had. It was different. The setting was good, and I loved the descriptions of their city, especially through Shadow's paintings and Lucy's glass (the bridge bottle). There weren't really any incredibly evil people in this book (excepting Crazy Malcolm and Crazy Dave), so there wasn't really anyone to blame for the main character's problems. I liked this, because it wasn't anyone's fault, it was just circumstances. Circumstances suck sometimes.
Jazz, Lucy's best friend, was definitely not the kind of best friend who fades into the background, stuck into the story to give the protagonist a wingman/woman. I loved her. And Daisy. And Dylan. And especially Leo. There was just a tonne of awesome characters, with depth and worries and humour.

Sometimes, I'll admit, I did get mad at Lucy. For not seeing what was right in front of her; for building up this romantic picture of Shadow in her head, ensuring that, whoever he turned out to be, he would be a disappointment. For making Shadow feel that he should be more than he was (okay, she didn't realise she was doing it, but it was still kinda dumb). She just didn't get it (the mysterious "it"- no spoilers), when all along it was right in front of her, and without even realising it, she stopped him from telling her because of all her high expectations. He just wanted to be good enough for her.

Basically, the writing was awesome, the story was great, and the characters were interesting and vivid. Anyone who likes The Sky Is Everywhere, or anything by John Green, or Dash And Lily's Book of Dares, you will love this book.

Rate: 8/10

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Blurb: Andi is broken. She is failing school and failing life. Since the death of her brother, all she cares about is music. Taken to Paris by her estranged father, she makes a discovery there that could transform everything. Hidden in the compartment of an old guitar case is a lost diary from Revolutionary France... Alexandrine is a street performer who is trying to save a young life from the devastation of war. She writes her deepest thoughts in her diary, hoping that one day someone will read them and understand. These two girls, though centuries apart, are tied together by more than just the diary. As its words transcend paper and time, Alexandrine's past becomes Andi's present and lives are changed forever.

What I thought: A copy of this book has been lying on my sister's bedroom floor for years. I picked it up a few times and read the first chapter, but I never read further than that before. A couple of days ago I was bored, so I decided to read the first bit. And then I didn't stop. This book sucked me in, especially the first chapter- one of the best beginnings I can remember reading- you're smacked round the face with Andi's anger at the world, and her pain, and I just couldn't stop reading.
Andi is one of my favorite characters. For some reason, I've always been fascinated by those angry, broken, aggressive characters in books, and the way they heal throughout the story. Andi is very, very broken, to the point of almost committing suicide more than once. She couldn't get past her brother's death, her dad's leaving and her mother's illness. And then, throughout the book, you can see her letting go, letting herself live again, and moving on. But she isn't one of those characters whose anger becomes her, and when it's gone, there's nothing left and all interest they once had is gone. She is stubborn and determined and vibrant.

Another character that really interested me was Andi's father, and how he always seemed to do what was worst for Andi and her mother without even realising it. He doesn't believe in her, he can't see what music is to her, he tries to mold her into the genius he thinks she should be. He tells her she can do anything she wants, and when she wants to do music, he tells her it isn't enough. I don't think he's really a bad person, he just can't see what he's doing to his daughter. He can't see what she's doing to herself.

At the moment, I'm going through a French Revolution phase (A Tale of Two Cities, etc.) and this was perfect for that. I started reading this book because of New York and music and pain and loss, and then I kept reading because of Paris and music and healing and hope. Alex's story was just as enthralling as Andi's. They are very similar, too- determined, stubborn, and angry at the world around them. Near the end, I got annoyed with Andi because I felt she could have done something more, tried to help them, but she didn't. But at the same time, she really did help them. Confusing...
Throughout most of the story, I thought I had the ending figured. I thought the only problem I had with this book would be its predictability, but there wasn't even that, because I got the ending completely wrong. It was nothing like what I thought it would be. Guess I'm not cut out to be a detective after all...

Like most books, there was a romance side to this story, but it didn't take over the whole book. The guy is called Virgil, which is the most amazing name ever, and he's not just some hot boy, thrown in to fill out the story, but lacking his own character. He too, is angry at how his life turned out, angry at the unfairness of it all. He too, is a musician and also a rapper. I know I've always said no spoilers, but I'm going to write the lyrics to some of his, and Andi's songs down here, because they are so beautiful, and because they really sum up the book much better than I can.

Banloser - Virgil (Not the whole song)

Hey ho Banloser
Call me robber, boozer
And substance abuser
Hey ho Banloser
Call me dole-cheating,
Work-beating welfare ruser
I don't want to be no
Bad boy for life
Feeling rife
With the strife
And a knife
In my back
But I'm on the outskirts
Trying not to get hurt
Living in a desert
Of poverty and fear
I try to conform
Do no harm, be the norm
But I can't transform
I can just persevere

Iron Band - Andi

If I had coal and fire
And metal fine and true
I'd make an iron band
An iron band for you
I'd pick up all the pieces
From where they fell that day
Fit them back together
And take the pain away
But I don't have the iron
And I don't have the steel
To wrap around your broken heart
And teach it how to heal
Somewhere in the fire
Somewhere in the pain
I'd find the magic that I need
To make you whole again
I'd make the iron band so strong
I'd make it gleam so bright
I'd fix the things I've broken
I'd turn my wrongs to right
But I don't have the iron
And I don't have the steel
To wrap around your broken heart
Wish I could make it heal
Wish I could make it heal

Rate: 8/10

Friday, 1 November 2013

The Book Thief Movie

I spoke (wrote?) too soon. There is a Book Thief movie coming out next week! I had no idea!! I am so excited right now, the book is amazing, and the trailer is so good and argghhhh too many emotions. How did I not know about this????

Well, this wasn't a great post, but I just wanted to add that to my list of movies I must see. How was your Halloween? Are there any other movies I've missed? Have a great day!