The Spectacular Now – Tim Tharp

Published July 9, 2014 by writeforabsolution

“The Spectacular Now” is the story of a young budding alcoholic who believes in letting life just happen and not worrying about much of anything. With his girlfriend Cassidy threatening their relationship if he doesn’t shape up, his best friend attempting to ease up on the partying, his family down his throat, Sutter takes the high road and ignores it all. Preferring to live life somewhere between buzzed and passed out. He meets Aimee one day, and things don’t so much change as evolve. He decides she’s a disaster and that it’s his duty to save her. 

Told in a spectacular narrative from Sutter Keely’s point of view this book moves. It is a beautiful collection of words into motion. It is told at a steady pace that keeps the pages turning, it is told with a dark humour and glorious realism. Sutter has just enough beauty in him to keep you feeling sympathetic, but just enough flaws to make him realistic. This book tugs on heart strings in all the best ways. It’s a true testament to literature and to human nature. I cannot properly express why you should read this book without simply saying: read this book. 

For more information about Tim Tharp or his other books visit his blog

As an aside I also did watch the movie. The movie was beautiful but terribly different. There was enough of the book in the movie that it was beautiful (direct book quotes!) and things that were cut seemed like good editing decisions. There were a few semi-trivial changes that didn’t seem to make much sense to me overall (his moms profession, the fact that he was taking algebra versus geometry etc). But the ending is completely different from the book. Both endings are great, but imply very, very different outcomes. I recommend reading the book then watching the movie and playing the “compare contrast” game. Just remember, they’re two separate mediums and deserve to be viewed and respected as such. 

The Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns – Chris Colfer

Published July 9, 2014 by writeforabsolution

Chris Colfer delivers an action-packed sequel to his original best selling series. (for my personal review on the first book go here). In this second novel in the series we rejoin Alex and Conner whose mother has been kidnapped by forces unknown! Conner and Alex fight to find their mother, meanwhile the evil Enchantress best known for her role as the Evil Queen in Sleeping Beauty, has plans for the Fairy Tale Kingdoms and she’s not playing nice. 

The recurring cast of characters meets many new fresh characters for an exciting roller-coaster of adventure, mischief, family, and heart. A beautifully scripted sequel. Colfer is a very talented human being and continues to amaze and delight.

For more on The Land of Stories series visit http://www.thelandofstoriesbook.com/ . Book three, A Grimm Warning, is also available! 

“The Sky is Everywhere” – Jandy Nelson

Published June 22, 2014 by writeforabsolution

 

 

“The Sky is Everywhere” is the story of a girl, Lennie, whose sister Bailey has died. With her world destroyed and turned asunder Lennie must learn how to live in this new listless world without her sister. Turning to Toby – Bailey’s boyfriend – she finds a certain comfort in remembering Bailey with him. But then there’s Joe – the new boy – who makes her feel restless and alive and happy. Certain that she’s going to hell Lennie begins a dangerous path between a world without Bailey and never letting go.

This book is told in an inspiring narration that brings to light the truth of death, life, loss, and grief. Lennie is selfish, compulsive, and honest.

There were many things that I thought made this a good book – there are little notes littered through the pages – small scraps of pages, poems, comments – that break up the chapters and yet manage not to interrupt the flow of the narration. There are decisions in the book where you want to reach into the book and shake Lennie, and then you want to reach in and hold her because of her pain. It’s definitely a roller-coaster of a book.

Many critics have compared it to “If I Stay” and “Thirteen Reasons Why” I would agree with that assessment. I think that it has a lot of heart, a lot of morality, and most of all a lot of truth.

Lennie also explains how “The Sky Is Everywhere” and it’s a beautiful concept.

It’s Nelson’s first book and I think she got it right. I would recommend.

 

“The Hundred-Foot Journey” Richard C. Morais

Published June 17, 2014 by writeforabsolution

As a self professed “reader” I like to add a bit of culture to my reading repertoire. I do tend to focus on a genre (Young Adult) and usually within that genre a subset (paranormal fiction). Now and again, however, I do like to branch out and experience all sorts of new things. My latest “branch out” piece was “The Hundred-Foot Journey” by Richard C. Morais. 

The book is narrated by Hassan Haji, who recounts his life history starting as a kid in Mumbai to being a chef in France. The book is littered with interesting characters, steady narration that is at times comical, and very interesting and delightful foods. The story is literally a journey that spans years, and feet, into the soul and heart of the characters and the cultures.

I found the novel, at first, to be a bit slow going. I was having a hard time getting into sync with the characters. I thought Haji was a  bit wordy, a lot of his imagery (and descriptions in general) I felt were a bit contrived. There were some great narrations that I felt were perfect and fun and those bits made me keep chugging through. Once the story got into more of the meat of it, the reader kind of gets used to the flowery nonsense of the some of the adjectives.

The characters were flawed and a bit of a struggle and I think that was perfect, it’s always good to have characters with depth that you can really just dislike and then feel are still redeemable (or aren’t redeemable). The character development was solid and really helped bring the piece together. Along with that, the accents were written out and that’s always challenging to do (speaking from experience as someone attempting to write a novel in a Scottish brogue) but I believe they were written out wonderfully. It added such texture to the speech, you could really hear all of the accents and made the imagery something really tangible.

And the food. The food was so interesting to read about – unique and fun, at some parts very graphic and disgusting. They go to the market at one point and there’s a butcher. . . well, I’ll just leave it at that. I almost stopped reading on the spot. But the imagery was sensational. And descriptive.

Overall, I’m not going to say it was a favourite book of mine, but I did end up really enjoying it. So, if your usual style is in the vein of “Eat, Pray, Love” or “Under the Tuscan Sun” then this book is right up your alley.

The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

Published May 28, 2014 by writeforabsolution

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Normally with any John Green book you will see it in my hand before you even knew it was available. Normally I’ve already pre-ordered his latest work, or at the very least have run out and bought it the day of it’s release. But with The Fault in Our Stars I hesitated. “Hesitated?” You ask, cocking your head in confusion. Yes. Hesitated. I knew the plot synopsis and I admit I was not keen to read a book about “cancer kids”. I have read a lot of depressing books in my life and I was at a point where I was done putting myself through torture just because I like the author. (like is an understatement but I digress).

So I put off reading TFiOS. Then a movie deal – as with many books nowadays. So I saw the trailers, and I saw the posters, and my friends and colleagues raved about it. And I sighed and procrastinated. But you see, the beautiful thing about me is that I can hardly ever leave a book-to-movie unread. If I intend on seeing the movie, I had better read the book. And boy did I intend on seeing this movie.

So. I diligently bought the book and proceeded to read. Half a day later I was in tears and it was beautiful.

Yes. This book is about Hazel Grace and her “courageous” battle with cancer and her life as she attempts to navigate the Waters of Augustus (please forgive the play on words, but I think Hazel Grace and Augustus would have appreciated it). But the book is about so much more than cancer. It is about life, and love, and hope, and pain, and anger, and sadness, and injustice. It is humorous and heart-wrenching. It is told in the beautiful language that John Green alone has the ability to manipulate.

It is everything perfect that I expected and much more.

So yes. You will laugh, you will – if your soul is intact – cry, and it will be one of the most important books of this generation.

Supernatural: The Heart of the Dragon – Keith R.A. DeCandido

Published April 1, 2014 by writeforabsolution

Summary:  Based on the hit CW (originally sy-fy) show “Supernatural” comes a story about family.  The Winchester brothers have to fight a fearsome foe, the likes of which they have never seen before; but their father and mother have.  A dragon, summoned every two decades comes back with a vengeance, calling Sam and Dean to the task, twenty years after John laid the beast to rest, and forty years since the Campbell’s fought the menace. The brothers set out to do what their parents couldn’t – will they succeed?

Okay, so as far as glorified fanfiction goes this was really good. I mean, published novels based on TV shows are not an uncommon thing (I used to read “Dawson’s Creek” novella’s when I was  like twelve). But just because these stories aren’t canon, and because they’re not written by show-runners/contributors doesn’t mean they’re not good stories. I mean, I get most of my fandom fills from AO3, tumblr, or  fanfiction.net but regardless, I saw the published books at Barnes and Noble and I just had to get at least one of them. I mean, I crave a book companion to Supernatural more than anything. There were a few to chose from, all written by different authors, but since this one seemed to have a lot of Campbell back-story I decided it would be the most unique.

I liked the concept and plot. I think the characters were pretty spot on! Great job getting the characters right and writing a story well enough that I was able to be lost in it as though it were an episode. There’s one flashback scene where Sam and Dean are young and John is talking to them and he reprimands them for bickering and Dean says “Sorry, Sir” and for some reason the way it was written into the story was so spot on Dean I just had to stop reading for a second because of all my baby!dean feels. But honestly, it wasn’t bad.

I think if you’re looking for a Supernatural fix in between new episodes and fanfiction just isn’t grasping you for some reason might as well go out and try books. They feel more real and it’s nice to pretend Carver Edlund was real and wrote us real books.

The Lunar Chronicles: Cress- Marissa Meyer

Published April 1, 2014 by writeforabsolution

 

The third installment in”The Lunar Chronicles” series, this novel is centered around “Cress” – a future day Rapunzel.

I very much enjoyed this installment. I love how Meyer is weaving all of the stories together to make them come alive and I loved all of the plot, action, drama. I think Cress really shows us all something about how it is to rely on yourself, but still needing others. In traditional Rapunzel fashion Cress is brought up alone (on a satellite rather than in a tower) where her only visitor is a wicked mistress. Cress is brilliant, she has the spatial-temporal reasoning of a true genius hacker. She is inventive and quick, a real asset to Cinder and Scarlet. I think the three women and their comrades make for a very dangerous team. I love seeing the “princesses” being the fuel for the fire, and it being their job to save the King is brilliant.

I think this was a great installment. It looks like a fourth book is coming in 2015, “Winter”? I’m not sure what it’s about but I have a few theories. I eagerly await 2015 now.

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