Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: Paper Towns by John Green

ISBN: 9780142414934
Source: Purchased
Series: No, stand-alone
Release Date: October 16, 2008

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows.
After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.

John Green has quickly risen to "god" status in the literary world. After reading (and not being totally convinced by TFiOS, I decided to read another fan favorite to give John Green the benefit of the doubt. I mean, he's a literary "god" for a reason, right?. In comes Paper Towns. And even though I somehow managed to read this book in two days, it wasn't because I loved it. Actually, it was a rather "meh" read for me. I mean, I enjoyed it well enough. Not really. I don't know. I have such mixed feelings about it but what it really comes down to is that I just didn't love it.

While I like for my books to have some deeper meaning, I don't want to read books to have to decipher what the hidden meaning is. I don't like cliches and epiphanies littered throughout the whole story. I think I complained of the same thing with TFiOS, and my conclusion on that one was that I would rather find what it means to me, myself, rather than the character flat out tell me what I'm meant to glean from the book. Once again, it was supposed to be "profoundly moving," but I... didn't feel particularly moved. I actually kind of couldn't stand this Margo Roth Spiegelman. Or the poor schmuck who was obsessed with her. Was that the point? Was I supposed to hate Margo and pity Quentin?

See! I don't even know what the point of the book is! I was bored by the middle of the book when I realized that all of this wasn't really building up to much. I was quite underwhelmed, especially when I got to the end and it really didn't build up to much. Don't get me wrong, the messages this book was practically killing itself to convey were profound... I guess. Maybe that isn't the right word. They were life lessons that definitely needed to be thought about and realized by many people but it was just too much. I do plenty of soul searching and striving toward self-actualization on my own, and this book just seemed like a crap ton of metaphors that formed into a pointless story about a really annoying girl and a rather obsessive boy.

Maybe I'm just not a deep person. Probably I'm too shallow to TRULY appreciate this book. Maybe John Green isn't for me? There may be a million reasons for why I didn't like this book and I'm convinced that it's me, because obviously the whole rest of the world sees something that I don't.

It was enjoyable and made me think but I didn't love it. For the sake of not being a total downer, I really did enjoy the dynamic between Quentin and his friends. They cracked me up and kept the story going for me.


Overall, this book just wasn't for me. It wasn't bad by any means, but I found myself wondering what the heck the point of the whole story was? And I've also come to the conclusion that I'm shallow and dense and that is why I am unable to appreciate John Green the way the rest of the world seems to.

Side note - I'm pretty sure I saw a young girl, like 11 or 12, with this book in her hand while walking around the mall with her dad the other day, by the way. I mean, it's not a particularly vulgar book but it's a little on the mature side, so I was shocked to see her holding it. But I totally forgot about the possible impropriety of the situation and suddenly felt like a dunce because even a child can appreciate John Green enough to carry the damn book through the mall with her, and I can't seem to even figure out the point of the book. Frankly, I have basically given up on Green at this point. Please don't stone me.

Well anyway, have any of you read this book? What did you think about it? Are you finding a John-Green-pattern like I did - lots of metaphors and "profoundness" that is just about lost upon you? Or am I totally missing something here and you absolutely loved it? I'd really like to hear what you thought about this one. And if you haven't read it, but have read other books by John Green, I'd really love your input.

Let's talk!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Making My Bookish Habit Mean Something - A Bookish Discussion

Things have been pretty quiet lately on the blog, if you haven't noticed. We all reach the occasional roadblock in our blogging careers when life kind of gets in the way for a while. Thankfully, most of us can usually get right back into the swing of things. That's basically what happened around here. After a string of unfortunate dramatic happenings in my life coupled with a boat load of working hours, I kind of found myself not necessarily unable, but more like unwilling to read or blog.

I was in a slump, I wasn't loving what I was reading, I wasn't loving the fact that I spend so much time and money on books because like many "kids" my age, I'm always broke. So basically, in striving to not be as broke anymore, but also striving for this to all actually have a point and do something good that will make me happy and help others, I've come up with a plan:

Actually found somewhere to donate to for
$10 = 4 books!
I've decided that for every book I buy, I will donate either a book or at least $5.00 in some way (monetarily or otherwise) to someone in need, whether it be an actual person, a charity, a private fundraiser. I'd love to keep it as book-focused as possible, but obviously if I'm about to donate in some way and I see a need that isn't book-related, I'll fill it, right?

I came up with this idea while discussing something I saw at work with a co-worker. Bear with my as I tell my little story. I work at a shoe store and a while back a mother and her young daughter, probably about 5 years old, were shopping. The little girl was asking for everything under the sun, like most kids do. As the mother and her child were checking out, I overheard the mother telling the child something along the lines of, "You know the rule. If you want to buy something special for yourself, you also need to buy something for someone less fortunate." The child didn't have enough money (allowance or something, I'm sure) to buy two little trinkets, one for her and one for someone less fortunate, so she didn't buy anything at all.

Now you'd think the kid would throw a total fit and freak out, demanding that the mother buy her the item, and that the mom would eventually give in like a lot of parents seem to do these days. But nope. At 5(-ish) years old, she did know the rule, and it was clear that the parents didn't just make this up on the spot. The girl nodded solemnly and asked her mom if they could come back next week to buy two little trinkets, and the mother agreed. I don't know for sure if they ever came back, cause you know how kids are. They want a toy one day and forget about it the next, but I honestly couldn't believe what I had just witnessed. I knew for sure that that was a rule I wanted to bring into my household when I have kids one day (hopefully many years from now, eek!).

So, after thinking about this for a while, I started to realize that I couldn't expect my child, who will hardly understand the importance of what I'm asking of them, to do this when I don't live my life that way. Why should I get to buy new clothes or gadgets for myself and tell my kid they can't have a toy unless they are able to buy two.

Don't get me wrong, I understand that there would be some exceptions: birthdays, christmas, etc. Also, if I'm buying, say, a new TV, I'm obviously not going to buy two. But I think that this idea I've formed would definitely give me pause before running out and buying a new TV. I would obviously want to do something bigger than donating a book and would really think about whether I needed something so big before I went and got it.

Because I'm a big brat and buy tons of books and lots of other stuff for myself all the time, I'm going to start small lest I go into withdrawals and completely give up on my cause. I'm going to start with books. I plan on donating in many different ways, I just haven't figured them all out yet.

Actually, that's kind of what I was hoping for from you guys: some ideas on how to donate in bookish ways. Small donations, obviously, because I will be buying one or two books at a time, usually. Do you know any bigger charities that work in reading and literacy? Do you have any friends raising money for something book-related (e.g. a teacher in need of books for their classroom, etc.)? Please share with me if you have any ideas!

I need that and I also need your input. Do you think I'm totally crazy? Do you think this is a horrible idea, horrible to impose on myself and my future kids? Or is it something you think you could do?

I'm really excited to do something in my small way that might help instill a love of reading in someone else one day, and I hope that this maybe makes some of you think about ways to give back, too.

I can't wait to give my reading habit a bit more meaning than just stimulating my mind and sharing my love of books with the world, which is pretty darn important as it is. I also can't wait to hear what you all think! Let's talk!!


Monday, April 7, 2014

Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

ISBN: 9780525951988
Source: Purchased... with Christmas money.. ;)
Series: No, stand-alone
Release Date: April 14, 2011

"Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . "
Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It's company policy.) But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.
Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.
When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.
By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself.
What would he say . . . ?

If I tell you that Attachments was my least favorite Rainbow Rowell book, I don't want you all to run away screaming. It's true, it is my least favorite of her current three, but Rainbow Rowell is amazing. So to say that just means that the book is fantastic as opposed to mind-blowing such as the other two she's written. Attachments was a lot slower that E&P and while Fangirl was pretty slow, the pacing for that book was perfect. Attachments is told in the point of view of Lincoln, one of the main characters, and also in the form of e-mails between the other main character, Beth, and her BFF, Jennifer, and unfortunately, Lincoln's narrative was what kind of dragged it down for me.

The e-mail aspect was quite hysterical. I think the entire thing could've been told in e-mail form and I would've loved it! I definitely enjoyed those parts the most, especially because Beth and Jennifer at times went out of their way to use words that would flag their e-mails... I suppose as an act of rebellion? They were just fantastic!

Lincoln's parts, written in regular narrative rather than in e-mail form, were a lot slower and at times boring. Unless Lincoln was doing something in relation to work/Beth/e-mails, I was slightly bored. Everything about his mother and sister I could've done without. It got to a point where I wondered if anything was ever going to happen with Lincoln and Beth or if Rowell was just going to break my heart yet again! It was a rather close call because I thought the ending was going to ruin a pretty good book, but fear not! Rowell came through, and while the ending was bordering on completely unbelievable, it had me tearing up and grinning and laughing like a fool. It was basically perfect and I don't care if it probably would never happen in real life.

RATING: ★★★★ 1/2

My only gripes about Attachments besides the pacing (at times) was that I wished it had been a bit longer, to make the interactions between the characters toward the end a bit more drawn out and a bit more believable. Or even just to have an opportunity to enjoy it a little longer.

On the contrary, my favorite part of the story besides the hysterical e-mail exchanges was the romance. I loved that Rowell made it okay to be needy sometimes. We see so many "strong heroines" in YA and adult novels lately. Girls and women who don't need a man, just want one. And while that is something we all attempt to embody, not every girl or relationship is like that. I know I'm needy as hell and in this story, Rowell showed us a strong heroine who just needed to be loved sometimes. And I really, really loved and enjoyed that aspect.

Overall, Attachments, being the third Rowell book I've read, served to truly cement my love for her as one of my favorite authors. I will definitely read anything she puts out there and more than likely will re-read everything she already has out there. So basically, if you haven't read this book, you should. And if you haven't read anything by Rainbow Rowell... well, that the heck are you waiting for?

Oh, and in other Rainbow News, her next novel, and adult contemporary novel, Landline is being released in July of this year. Like I said, I will buy anything she puts out there. Have you heard anything about this book yet? I've basically heard it is excellent, as expected.

Also, have you seen this amazing video reenactment of a scene from Fangirl put together by the amazing Yulin Kuang? If you haven't, you need to go see it. You might die of <3 <3 <3. Yup - you read that right.

Also, also! And this is important for fans of E&P and Rowell in general: Dreamworks has bought the movie rights for Eleanor and Park. And Rowell has been hired to write the screenplay. WHATTT!? I almost died. I know many of you don't like adaptations but I love them as long as they are done right! So how excited are you?! Let's talk!