Two August Girls

A Blog about reading and everything else.....

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Missing You by Harlan Coben 5 ***** READ

This is a 1 sitting read. ONE SITTING! What do I mean by that? DO NOT start it unless you have time to finish it! It is that GOOD! Literally could not put it down. This is yet, another fabulous Book by Harlan Coben. I have NEVER been disappointed by the story or writing of any of his stand alone mysteries. He is truly gifted! Missing You, is fast paced, well written and exciting. The down side, I knew one aspect of the book from the beginning but I think that is part of the plan, because often those on the outside can see things better than the one involved. Oh and the John Waite song is now stuck in my head so I kinda hate Harlan at this moment. Overall, I LOVED! LOVED! LOVED! Of course you can read it in several sittings, but you will not be able to put it down, so plans will get cancelled, dinners will burn, children will be left unpicked up from school........ Buy it, Read it, You Won't be sorry! Then if this is your first Coben book, start downloading or buying the rest and read them!

Looking for Alsaka by John Green 5*****

Looking for AlaskaLooking for Alaska by John Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"It's not life or death, the labyrinth. Suffering. Doing wrong and having wrong things happen to you. That's the problem. Bolivar was talking about the pain, not about the living or dying. How do you get out of the labyrinth of suffering?”

I downloaded Looking for Alaska on my Kindle based on reading John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, and on recommendations from Jo Knowles and Laurie Halse Anderson.
This book is raw, emotional and at times extremely dark. However, it is realistic, well orchestrated and brilliantly written. As an adult, I read this book with all my experience and knowledge that I made it out of adolescences. However, it painted a true picture of what being an adolescent with huge emotional baggage, the loneliness, and the fearlessness feels like. “It always shocked me when I realized that I wasn’t the only person in the world who thought and felt such strange and awful things.” This a true picture of how most of us feel at one time or another as a teen. Growing up is hard, it is not easy. Life is hard and can be extremely overwhelming. While some adults who read it may be shocked by the language, sex, alcohol, and raw emotionality of these teens, it paints an accurate portrayal.
Miles "Pudge" is a friendless kid who decides to enroll in the boarding school in Birmingham Alabama that his father attended. It is at this juncture of his 17th year; he meets his first real friends, falls in love, and tries to have a girlfriend. He also discovers adventure, independence and real friendship.
Miles “Pudge” meets "Colonel" his short and brilliant roommate whose home is in a tiny trailer park, "Takumi", Lara, and of course the mysterious, dark and love interest, Alaska. "Sometimes I don't get you,' I said. She didn't even glance at me. She just smiled toward the television and said, 'You never get me. That's the whole point.” It is these five who spend the year learning about each other over the tragedy they experience. As you can read the back of the book, you do not need me to summarize the story in my review. However if you still need convincing, “Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. (...) You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you'll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.”
As in all John Green books, it is dark and emotional, but it is extraordinarily well written. He explores the depth of human interactions and pain in a way that both explains and explores teen experiences. We are all going, I thought, and it applies to turtles and turtlenecks, Alaska the girl and Alaska the place, because nothing can last, not even the earth itself. The Buddha said that suffering was caused by desire, we'd learned, and that the cessation of desire meant the cessation of suffering. When you stopped wishing things wouldn't fall apart, you'd stop suffering when they did.”
Read it you will be better for it!

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Upcoming Reviews The Impossible Knife of Memory 5 ****** and See You at Harry's 5*****

I plan on reviewing The IMpossible Knife of Memory and See You at Harry's this week.....Such great books. I loaned them out:) Prior to my review. They are both 5 stars.....

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars By John Green- Must read Book

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is absolutely one of the MOST brilliant books I have ever read. I was ready for a sappy, Nick Sparks type book about two star crossed kids with cancer, but what I read by John Green was so much more. “Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
The book focuses on two teens, one who has stage IV thyroid Cancer, and her lungs no longer work. Hazel is a fabulous young lady. She loves America's Top Model, lies around the house, has no real friends and is slowly and inevitably dying from cancer. Her Mother thinks she is depressed because she: a. lies around all the time b. has cancer and this causes depression; therefore she ships her off to a support group for teens with cancer. “Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying.” Like Hazel, this support group would make me even more depressed; I mean who wants to hear about the leader’s ball cancer every week.
All stinks until she meets Augustus"Gus" who has survived osteosarcoma and has a fake leg. He is there at the request of his best friend Isaac who has to have surgery to remove his eye, leaving him blind but cancer free.
Augustus is gorgeous smart, loving and well read. He is empathetic kind, and interesting. All the characters in this book are extraordinarily well developed and Gus is no exception. “I'm in love with you," he said quietly. "Augustus," I said. "I am," he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. "I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you.”
The beauty in the book is not only the loves story but the introspection of the characters the wit of Hazel and Gus, as well as the inspiration and quotes of wonderful works of literature. “We are literally in the heart of Jesus," he said. "I thought we were in a church basement, but we are literally in the heart of Jesus. ‘Someone should tell Jesus," I said. "I mean, it's gotta be dangerous, storing children with cancer in your heart." ‘I would tell Him myself," Augustus said, "but unfortunately I am literally stuck inside of His heart, so He won't be able to hear me.”
Along with the quotes, the most sad and significant part of the book was the swing set. Perhaps it is because I am parent but it made me sad on so many levels. First, as she laid out in the grass staring at the forlorn swing set at night: “My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.”
Then when she and Gus plan to get rid of the swing set and it finally is gone off to a new family. Finally, in the end when Gus remembers it. “We sat out there in silence for a minute and then Gus said, ' I wish we had that swing set sometimes.' 'The one from my backyard?' 'Yeah. My nostalgia is so extreme that I am capable of missing a swing my butt never actually touched.' 'Nostalgia is a side effect of cancer,' I told him. 'Nah, nostalgia is a side effect of dying, ' he answered. Above us, the wind blew and the branching shadows rearranged themselves on our skin. Gus squeezed my hand. 'It is a good life, Hazel Grace.”
I do not think I can urge you strongly enough that you NEED to read this book; like you need to breathe, it is in short a must read. However I will caution you to have a nice cup of tea, tissues, a warm bath, and time set aside because you will not be able to stop till you reach the end of the book. “Books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal.”

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lesson from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles

Lessons from a Dead GirlLessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I decided to download this book after reading Jo Knowles book, See You at Harry's! I was not disappointed. I downloaded it Friday and read it while my daughter had a figure skating lesson.
This book will not disappoint, and in spite of containing 200+ pages it is a quick read, honestly, I could not put it down.
Lainey is an unsure and sad teenager who has experienced the death of a former best friend as the book opens. Her reaction to the death troubles her and she is angry and unsure. The book then begins to recount the story of their friendship in flashbacks from 5th grade till the final night of Leah's life.
As an adult, who has kids and works with girls, the trauma of Leah is apparent from the first time they play house, but too a kid it is raw, vivid and sad. It is spot on with all the tell tale signs of trauma and abuse. Victimization, suicide attempts, substance abuse and reckless behavior.
The writing style is raw, painful and precise. It is nothing short of brilliant, in its anguish and raw pain. The shame, hurt and despair that Lainey feels is overwhelming, I could feel it myself. Ms. Knowles not only meets but exceeds expectation and characterization of two young women who share a dark secret.
Additionally, the ending gave me hope and fully wrapped up the plot and story. I felt like Lainey was going to be okay and that for the first time she was free.
This is a must read for adults and teens. I do not believe in censorship so you must decide for yourself what your child is able to handle as all kids are different.

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Twisted By Laurie Halse Anderson

TwistedTwisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is yet another homerun from Laurie Halse Anderson. Clearly, Ms. Anderson has never forgotten the feelings and experiences associated with being a teenager and having to attend high school. Her books, remind me exactly of how I felt as a teen; stressed, isolated, but surrounded by others. The lead character in this novel is a male; I am not one to spend a lot of time reading books with male protagonist, call me sexist but I think it is more one of interest and perspective. What is also amazing to me is how well developed her lead character, Tyler Miller is in the book. Why am I surprised? Well many times, it is hard enough to write about credible teens let alone ones who are of a different gender. Kudos!
Beyond the usual teen angst of high school; where do I fit in, nerd, jock etc, Tyler has to deal with a house hold that is extremely volatile. HIs father is so angry the entire home walks on eggshells acquiescing to his ever ridiculous whim. His Mother is sweet and often found to drink copious amounts of gin and go to bed with a migraine during his father’s rants. These rants most often focus on Tyler, who has committed the foul deed. At the end of his junior year he spray painted graffiti on the school and was caught. This resulted in his father believing he is always at fault, being treated as a criminal by the police, school, and his parents. This causes increasing problems for him after he does the right thing for a girl he likes at a party and is later treated as a criminal for most of the book.
Tyler is extremely depressed and isolated in the book largely based on his father's world views work experiences and treatment of Tyler. Tyler contemplates suicide in many parts of the book, and it would not be surprising for him to commit it based on the character development and relationships.
The book is realistic and dark at times, it does not mince words or events. I could not put it down. It all culminates with a fantastically written scene and epic final words. I cannot recommend this book more for adults and kids.

One more word about this book: I loathe censorship and was appalled to see the words: "This book is not for children" written at the beginning of the book. I asked the author and she stated it was at the time when there was a push to differentiate between kids lit and YA lit. In my opinion, kids will not read what does not interest them, and this book is no different, your average 8 and 9 year old will have no interest in the experiences of an almost 18 year old student in high school. I have recommended it to my 11 year old daughter because I think she will enjoy it. Honestly, this does not talk about things that kids do not talk about among themselves or hear in school, and I think any time a kid will read a book we have won a tiny battle for literacy.

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