Archive | July, 2012

Review: The Fault in Our Stars

25 Jul

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I thought I wrote a review for this book already. Hmm.

The Fault in Our Stars is about Hazel Lancaster, who was diagnosed with stage 4 thyroid cancer at the age of 13. She underwent an experimental pharmacological treatment that shrunk her tumour. Hazel is now 16 and attending a support group for kids with cancer. Here she meets Augustus, a handsome 17-year-old who she is surprised to find is interested in her.

This is one of the best books I’ve read all year. It is a very fast read, and it was highly enjoyable. John Green’s writing is so engaging. Hazel and Gus (dialogue aside) felt like real kids, and I was eager to learn more about their world. Of course, since it’s a book about kids with cancer… just be prepared to cry. Lots.

The one quibble I have with the book is the dialogue. One example that really stood out to me was when Gus referred to basketball as throwing a spherical object through a toroidal object. They also use words like “univalent” and “existentially fraught”. I can’t believe that anyone would speak this way, even intelligent teenagers with terminal illnesses who are able to read all day. I’ve mentioned this somewhere else—I can’t find the link now—my nickname for this book is Juno with Cancer.

That aside, the book is fantastic. It’s a shame that every time I see it in the bookstores, it’s always in with the other YA books, when it’s suitable for readers of any age. I fear that many readers who avoid the YA section and its endless selection of dystopian trilogies will miss out on this gem. Pick it up if you have the chance.

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Review: Aaron & Keja: Time Dragon!

11 Jul

Aaron & Keja: Time DragonAaron & Keja: Time Dragon by Linda Nelson
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I won this book in a LibraryThing giveaway.

We begin on the planet Orgarlan with Ky’debaul, an Elven sorcerer. His powers are waning, and they can only be restored by killing a silver dragon. However, if the silver dragon is killed, it could mean the end of existence. Killing a dragon on Orgarlan is against the law, so the elves send the dragon through a rift to Earth (or a planet like it), where it lives in a lake near Aaron’s house. Aaron lives with her dog Keja and cat Chancy, both of whom she is able to communicate with. The elves follow the dragon through the rift and try to hunt it down, while orcs from Orgarlan, along with Aaron and her friend Mitchell, try to stop the elves.

I was really disappointed in this book. I had to reread several passages to understand what was happening. Part of the reason I had trouble following the story is because the writing is very clunky. There are also so many mistakes in the book: misused words (threw instead of through, shinning instead of shining, waste instead of waist, and so on), misused apostrophes, tenses switched… I could go on. The author also has the tendency to repeat the same word or phrase several times in a paragraph.

At no point is it explored why Aaron is able to communicate with animals—it’s just something that she can do. Also, why will the world end if the dragon dies? There are so many details that aren’t fleshed out. Another thing that bothered me was that I couldn’t get a sense of how old Aaron and Mitchell were. At first, it seemed like they were both around 30, but then we find out that Mitchell still lives with his parents, which makes me think they must be much younger.

The story could have potential if it was rewritten and reviewed by a professional, but ultimately, it’s lacking the finish and polish required of a professional book.

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Almost review: Shades of Grey

10 Jul

Shades of Grey (Shades of Grey, #1)Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this book. See? Boom. Favourites shelf.

I’ll write a better review soon, but if you’re a fan of books like Brave New World, I can’t recommend this book enough.

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Review: Foursome

5 Jul

FoursomeFoursome by Jane Fallon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not usually a big fan of chick-lit, since most of it falls into “vagina celebration” territory, but I found this book to be quite entertaining.

Rebecca and Daniel, and Alex and Isabella were two couples who met in university. Their world is turned upside down when, after 20 years, Alex suddenly leaves Isabel and confesses his love for Rebecca. After Rebecca rejects him, Alex ends up dating Rebecca’s workplace nemesis, Lorna.

While I enjoyed story itself, some of the office escapades really stretched the bounds of reality. In most offices, I would imagine that reading, printing, and sharing a co-worker’s personal emails would be an instantly fireable offense. There would be none of this half-assed line of questioning, “Did you do it?” “Nope.” “OK, carry on, then.” It also seems unlikely that there would be no fallout from covering (and lying) for an absentee coworker for over a week. Joshua and Melanie would have to be terrible people to not personally check up on their employee for that long. (view spoiler)[Also, Lorna’s transformation from über bitch to BFF took about 4.8 seconds. (hide spoiler)]

The ending wrapped up a little too neatly for my liking, but overall, it was a great summer holiday read.

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Review: A Sad, Sad Symphony

3 Jul

A Sad, Sad SymphonyA Sad, Sad Symphony by Cristian Mihai
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was rewarded this book in a LibraryThing giveaway in exchange for a review.

A Sad, Sad Symphony is a (very!) short story about Francisc Goyer, a musician and composer, and Oscar Wilde. A main theme was leaving a legacy through one’s art. There are two timelines running parallel throughout the story. The flow of events was confusing at first, because the first jump in time is jarring and unexpected.

We begin with Francisc as a heartbroken old man, while he is composing his magnum opus. The story then jumps back in time to Oscar telling stories to a group of people, where a young Francisc is in attendance. We then jump forward to Francisc walking through the rain to see his friend, and we end in the past with Oscar walking through the streets of London after meeting Francisc.

The story would really benefit from trimming most of the adverbs, since they don’t really add anything. Also, there are a few odd word choices (can a grin be “discontented”? does water “infiltrate” clothes?), but overall, it is well written.

Cristian Mihai is definitely a promising young writer, and I’m looking forward to reading more of his work.

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