Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

I was a little reluctant to read this book because it sounded like a disease-of-the-week movie with a J.D. Salinger type of character thrown in to give the book a twist. I was pleasantly surprised and ended up thoroughly enjoying The Fault In Our Stars. While at its most basic level the book is what I described, it never presents stereotypical characters or trite solutions to their problems.

Hazel Grace, the novel’s narrator, is a sixteen year old cancer patient. She meets Augustus Waters, a handsome boy about her age who was once a star basketball player before losing his leg to cancer. He comes off initially as something of a James Dean, tortured rebel type, but Green quickly develops him into a believable and unique character. One of my favorite touches is how Augustus puts cigarettes into his mouth but never lights them. Hazel is horrified when she first sees him put one in his mouth, but he tells her that “It’s a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.” Augustus and Hazel’s relationship becomes deeper when Augustus reads Hazel’s favorite book, An Imperial Affliction. This is apparently the most important novel ever written, at least for the two of them, and their obsession with its cryptic ending and the whereabouts of Peter Van Houten, the book’s reclusive author, set in motion much of The Fault In Our Stars’ plot.

While I enjoyed two other John Green novels, Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns, The Fault In Our Stars is by far the best of the three. It maintains the unique and quirky characters from the other two novels while also being a rare case of an author taking on more significant subject matter without becoming heavy handed. I can’t recommend this book enough.


Sunday, November 11, 2012


Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this month? November is about half-over. How is the novel coming along? If you're looking for inspiration, here are some book about other young authors, struggling with their own stories.

The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell
Before Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw was a small town girl who knew she wanted more. She's ready for real life to start, but first she must navigate her senior year of high school. Up until now, Carrie and her friends have been inseparable. Then Sebastian comes into the picture and a friend's betrayal makes her question everything. The Carrie Diaries is the story of how a regular girl learns to think for herself and evolves into a sharp, insightful writer. Readers will learn about her family background, how she found her writing voice, and the indelible impression her early friendships left on her. Through adventures both audacious and poignant, we'll see what brings Carrie to her beloved New York City, where her new life begins.

Love Story by Jennifer Echols
Erin is headed to college to study creative writing but her grandmother wants her to major in business and then come back home to Kentucky to run the family's farm. But Erin won't agree. Studying in New York and becoming a novelist is her dream. So Erin's grandmother takes Erin's inheritance and gives it all to Hunter Allen who has lived on the farm for years. Erin is furious that Hunter conned her grandmother into giving him Erin's birthright and sending him to her college. At least she's free of him in her writing class. Unfortunately for her, the day she's sharing a story (featuring a Hunter-inspired character) with her class, Hunter walks in. And after reading about himself in Erin's story, he writes his own assignments that lure Erin into dangerous fantasies about what could have been between them...and what might be.

Daemon Hall by Andrew Nance
Nothing exciting ever happens in the town of Maplewood - until famous thriller writer Ian Tremblin holds a short-story writing contest with a prize that seems to be the opportunity of a lifetime: five finalists will get to spend the evening with Tremblin in the haunted mansion Daemon Hall, and the winner of the best short story will see publication. Wade Reilly and the other finalists could never have imagined what they find lurking in the shadows of this mansion. During a suspenseful night of tale-telling, strange incidents mix the realms of the real and the supernatural. What is Tremblin really up to, and can he be trusted? What about Daemon Hall - is it alive? And, more to the point, will any of the contestants make it out of this hall of horrors to tell their story?

The Brontë Sisters by Catherine Reef
The Brontë sisters are among the most beloved writers of all time, best known for their classic nineteenth-century novels Jane Eyre (Charlotte), Wuthering Heights (Emily), and Agnes Grey (Anne). This sometimes heartbreaking young adult biography explores the turbulent lives of these literary siblings and the oppressive times in which they lived. Brontë fans will also revel in the insights into their favorite novels, the plethora of poetry, and the outstanding collection of more than sixty black-and white archival images. A powerful testimony to the life of the literary mind.

Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors
When you're the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalized for mental illness. After putting on a brave front for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue, and the Queen can't write it. Alice needs a story for her mother--and she needs one fast. That's when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol's voice in her head and see things she can't explain, she must face the truth--that she's either inherited her mother's madness, or Errol is for real.