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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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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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Review: A Dog’s Purpose

26 Jun

A Dog's PurposeA Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, this book. Get ready to cry like a baby when you read it.

Bruce Cameron captured the voice of the dog(s) perfectly.

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Review: The Sea Captain’s Wife

19 Jun

The Sea Captain's WifeThe Sea Captain’s Wife by Beth Powning
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There are a few mild spoilers in the following review, but nothing that will ruin the story.

The Sea Captain’s Wife follows Azuba, a young woman who grew up on the Bay of Fundy in the mid 1800s. We first meet her as an adventurous girl who wants to marry a sea captain and travel the world with her husband at her side. She rails against the traditional expectations of the sea captain’s wife: to be a good submissive mother, grow flowers, and spend her husband’s money on carriages and dresses.

The main story opens in the 1860s with Azuba married to Nathaniel, who is—duh—a sea captain, and he spends many months, sometimes years, at sea. He wasn’t home when his daughter was born, and didn’t meet her until she was almost three years old. He seemed open to the idea of taking Azuba with him until she had their daughter, and he saw the house that Azuba’s father had built for them. The house was someplace safe to leave his family.

Azuba miscarries their second child. She befriends the local minister, and they visit each other often and take walks together. After a picnic one day, they both fall asleep and become trapped by the tide overnight. Even though nothing inappropriate happened, the local busybodies label her a whore. The minister is sent away, and when Nathaniel comes back, he takes Azuba and their daughter with him on his next voyage, which takes them to England, to San Francisco, to Callao, Peru, and back to Antwerp, Belgium.

Something I wasn’t aware of before reading the book and doing some research was that this story was set before the construction of the Panama Canal, which meant that in order to get to San Francisco to Europe, ships had to go all the way around South America, ’round the horn, which was a treacherous journey. It really made me thankful for all the conveniences we have today. Could you imagine a trip around the world and back taking years?

Back in Europe, Azuba and Nathaniel had a tough decision to make. Should Azuba continue to take her children on the high seas and experience the world, but they would have to deal with the threat of pirates, terrible storms, and possible starvation or drowning, or should she take her children home and let them grow up in a life of relative safety, but only knowing their father as that guy who shows up a couple times a year?

I found the book so-so. It was well written, and parts of the story were very engaging, especially the return from Callao, but the ending just sort of faded away. Come to think of it, I don’t even remember exactly how it ended. It was entertaining enough to read at the time, but it’s definitely not a favourite.

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Review: A Storm of Swords

14 Jun

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The text I sent my boyfriend upon finishing A Storm of Swords sums up my feelings about this book pretty well: “Holy shit you have to finish clash of kings so you can read storm of swords holy shit.”

If you’re a fan of this series, the third instalment will not disappoint.

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