Friday, February 28, 2014

Feature & Follow – #190 #FF

Feature&Follow Fridays are a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee Alison Can Read.  Each week a different question is posted by the hosts & the followers post their answer!  This is a great opportunity for bloggers to network and interact. 
This week’s question –

This is something I think about a lot actually. Pretty much every time I finish a book I stop and think about how I would have done it if I were the author. If I could change any ending of any book though, I would change the end of Mockingjay I know why Suzanne Collins did what she did with Prim and I know it's not supposed to sit well with the reader but I don't care, I would change it in a heartbeat. At that point, with everything else that Katniss had dealt with, to do that to her too was just absolutely needless, it really makes it feel like the sacrifice that started the entire revolution was a little bit in vain.

Following me: Use whichever method you prefer! The sidebar has options for email, GFC, G+, and RSS!

- Ren

Reviewing at Parajunkee's View

So I mentioned in my last post, very briefly, that I am now an e-Book Reviewer over at Parajunkee's View. I've written 2 reviews there so far, the second one went live today. Going forward, each time one goes live I will share a link here on the blog. For now I am sharing the first two here together: 

- Ren

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Goodreads Tag #goodreadstag @goodreads

My best friend Angie told me that she was recording a video and that it was for something that I should include on my blog, so of course I asked what it was, and I was promptly linked to Sarah at A Little Bit of Literature's The Goodreads Tag post which is of course right up my alley. 

1. What was the last book you marked as 'read'?

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes so that I could write a review of it for Parajunkee's View, where I am the new e-Book Reviewer. My review goes live early next week and I will be linking to it here when it does :)

2. What are you currently reading?

I have a couple of e-Books, and one print on the go that I started awhile back and that have been sitting stagnant because I got distracted by other books. I'll get them all finished at some point. The book that is currently my active book is probably J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy which has been sitting on my to-be-read shelf since it came out, I figured now was a good time to actually pick it up and start it, so I picked it up the other day and I've read the first few chapters. 

3. What was the last book you marked as 'TBR'?

I have a huge TBR list, both virtual and physical, and I am constantly adding to it. The most recent book added to my virtual TBR list on Goodreads is A.G. Howard's Ensnared which is the 3rd book in her Alice in Wonderland adaptation series and will come out in 2015. The book most recently added to my physical TBR shelf is Bedlam's Bard by Mercedes Lackey which I borrowed from a friend after asking her which Mercedes Lackey book I should start with if I wanted to get into her stuff.

4. What book do you plan to read next?

I try not to pick books ahead of time because usually when I do this I end up feeling forced to read that book even if it's not at all what I am in the mood for. So I let my mood dictate what I am going to read next, which is probably why my TBR list is so long but oh well. That all being said the next book I know for sure I will be reading is the next book I'll be reviewing for Parajunkee's View, and it will be one of:  The Queen of Swords, The Casquette Girls or Gift of the Phoenix

5. Do you use the star rating system?

Short answer yes. Long answer, my way of setting a rating doesn't have any fast or hard rules, it's very fluid. There are different reasons I could give a book a 5 star rating, for example all the Harry Potter books get 5 stars because I love absolutely everything about them, but I also rated TFIOS at 5 stars, am I as obsessed with it as HP? No. But it wrecked me emotionally so it deserved 5 stars. And then there's the low end of the scale where even if I absolutely laughed my self silly enjoying the book if it is badly written it will get no more than 2 stars.

6. Are you doing a 2014 Reading Challenge?

Yes I am! two! I am doing the Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge, my goal is 52 I am already at 12. I am also doing the Random House Reading Bingo cards, I know you only need to get a line to win but I am so totally aiming to fill the entire card for both adult and YA.

7. Do you have a wishlist?

I have multiple wishlists. Seriously. I have the "books I want eventually list" the "books I want ASAP" list and the "if you want to buy me a gift buy me these books" list.

8. What book do you plan to buy next?

Champion by Marie Lu because I need to know how that series ends!! I keep forgetting that it's actually out so I haven't bought it yet! I was going to buy it when I went to the World's Biggest Bookstore last month but I also had Dangerous Women and Rising Red in my hands and we still had a few more hours of walking ahead of us so two heavy hardcovers was enough!

9. Do you have any favourite quotes, would you like to share a few?

Most definitely, I think everyone who reads probably has at least one quote that they love; there's Snape's infamous, "Always." from Deathly Hallows of course, but that's not the only one from Harry Potter, JKR is just a fount of favourite quotes for me. There are also a few C.S. Lewis quotes that I am especially fond of such as: “What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are". And Douglas Adams, I can't forget him, the man who gave us the beautiful wisdom of "I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." and "Don't Panic".

10. Who are your favourite authors?

I have many: J.K. Rowling, Lewis Carroll, Douglas Adams, Patricia C. Wrede, Garth Nix, Eoin Colfer, Kelley Armstrong, C.S. Lewis, and Rick Riodran. 

11. Have you joined any groups?

Yes but I don't actively follow any of them...

12. Are there any questions you would like to add?  

What upcoming 2014 new book are you most looking forward to? My answer would have to be, so far, of the books that I actually remember are coming out this year is A.G Howard's Unhinged which is already sitting on my shelf waiting for me to get around to it.

If you do either a video of blog post of your own please comment with a link! I would love to read your answers!

- Ren

Sunday, February 9, 2014

#Review: The Fault in Our Stars by @realjohngreen

11870085     Title: The Fault in Our Stars
     Author: John Green
     Publisher: Dutton Books
     Published: January 1, 2012
     Number of Pages: 313
     Genre(s): YA, Realistic Fiction
     Date Read: February 9, 2014
     Acquired: Waterloo Public Library

Hazel Grace Lancaster is dying. This is not a secret. This is not new. Hazel has been dying since she was born, as have we all been. Because dying is a side effect of living. But if you really want to get technical, Hazel is actively dying whereas the rest of us are passively dying, and she has been actively dying since they found the cancer in her body. Her cancer has always been terminal, she's never had an X chance of surviving, there's never been a surgery to take the cancer out, because it's not that kind of cancer. She has accepted all of this with a grace befitting a girl whose middle name is Grace, she has accepted that she will cease to be sooner rather than later, and she just wants to get out with as little bit of a mess as possible. She doesn't want to be a grenade in the lives of the people who she loves and who love her.

She thinks she has a choice. Right up until the moment that Augustus Waters walks into her life, she is right. But Gus changes everything. They suddenly find themselves together on a whirlwind journey that only leads to one inevitable ending. Absolute and complete heartbreak.

Oh. My. Gods. John Green what have you done to me!? Oh but does this book ever live up to all of the hype about it. Mr. Green you are as spectacular an author as you are an entertainer sir, and you are an exceptional entertainer in my eyes so draw your conclusions on how I feel about your writing from that statement.

I had seen John Green's book in the Library, while shelving them, but I had never bothered to pick one up and read the dust jacket. And then I came across the YouTube Mental_Floss list show. Well that show is right up my alley, educational and entertaining, and hosted by John Green. As I worked my way through the playlist I said to myself, before he ever mentioned his books in the videos, "Gee I wonder if this is the same John Green who wrote those YA novels everyone is talking about." Well of course he's the same John Green. Still didn't make me pick up his books, but it did drive me to his other videos (CrashCourse is AMAZING and I watched all of the humanities videos in under a month, omg.). It was as I was working my way through CrashCourse US history, with all the hype building for the TFiOS movie, that I decided that I should check out his books. So I put The Fault in Our Stars on hold at the WPL, and while I was waiting I went out and bought Looking for Alaska (which is now on the to-be-read shelf of course, because my hold came in).

TFiOS arrived this past Thursday at the library, and obviously, since I am now writing this review I have finished reading it. I started it Friday night and I devoured it in three dedicated sittings in between bouts of watching Olympic Slopestyle (YES THAT IS ONE WORD, AND A REAL WORD GOOGLE, NO I WILL NOT HYPHENATE IT!) Snowboarding and Luge; and working on job applications, with a little smattering of John Green on the side because the last video for Crash Course US History was posted. I knew a little of what I was getting myself into having been watching John Green videos lately and having watched the trailer for the movie, and being brutally honest, I didn't think I was going to like it, like at all. I am not usually a Realistic Fiction fan. I am all about the escapism of literature, but at the same time, one of my favourite things about literature is well written, intelligent, sharp witted, and insightful characters. This book is chock full of those types of characters. Hazel and Augustus, even the names, especially his, conjure to mind images of old scholars in tweed jackets with leather patches on the elbows. They are not that image, they are young and they are funny, and they are dying. They are fully aware of the tragedy of their circumstances and they both have a deliciously black sense of humour. Which I can fully appreciate. My own family, myself included, is known for our wickedly dark sense of humour. 

This is not a happy book, there is no happy ending, there is tragedy and there is death, but as I said throughout it all there is humour. I think it is a truly special thing when a book that is essentially all about dying, death and the tragedy of lost love can still have a current of humour running from cover to cover. More than once I found myself moved to near tears (that is not to say your book could not induce tears in someone else Mr. Green, but I am one of those silly over emotional people that has an easier time crying over tiny things rather than big things, and your book is a very big thing indeed Sir.), but for every one of those moments there were two where I was laughing loudly, smiling, or snorting to keep myself from laughing at something that was probably meant to be serious.

This book resonated with me, I am not a cancer kid, but I have been affected by cancer many times over. We lost my father directly after a cancer operation four days before Christmas in 2002. Before that there was my Grandmother, before that my Uncle Jim, and even before that there was my Mother's sister, for whom I am named, but who I have never met, because she was a cancer kid, she died when she was 9. Since I am being honest, all of that was why I didn't want to read this book initially, because I didn't want to read about a young girl who had to face the awfulness that is cancer. But that is in the end what makes this book so good, Hazel handles the awfulness with a complete and devastating honesty. And I am emotionally devastated having finished this book. Because every page makes you think, and every page makes you thankful for the people and the things in your life that you love and that love you. 

So maybe it's the combination of the sheer emotionality of this book, combined with the feeling I always get about the Olympics, but I am sitting here bereft feeling both simultaneously like an insignificant speck upon the Universe, but also a complete and utter triumph because I am here, and I am living, and I am able to sit here and contemplate the way a fictional book has impacted my worldview, and that's not something that everyone can do. Sometimes we need to be reminded of that in order to remember that some of the things we take for granted every day are actually a BFD.

What am I trying to get at then? GO AND READ THIS BOOK. That is what I am trying to get at. It is just so well written, and moving, and powerful. And you need to read it. Now. Or you know not, really in the end it's up to you, but I think you should read it and I think everyone should read it. It should become required reading in high schools.

Now if you'll excuse me, I am going to try and decide what book to read next, and watch some more Luge! Well after I write the summary anyway, because I wrote the review first...