Tag Archives: John green

Top Ten Books of the Decade

In just a few days, not only will there be a new year, but a whole new decade! It still feels like yesterday I was questioning my life choices as an english major and if I was genuinely happy in that degree program where I was actually reading a lot less than I thought I would be. So here is a top ten list of books I enjoyed published between 2010 and 2019! I am applying a rule where I can’t repeat books from a franchise (as in I can only pick one book from the Star Wars Franchise). There is no particular order for this list, I am just picking ten books I enjoyed from the last decade.

  • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan- I admit I was aware of this book for a few years before the release of the film, but for whatever reason didn’t read it until after I saw the film. I think the books are hilarious and the description of the food was so wonderful that it made me want to go bankrupt flying to Singapore just for the sake of eating.
  • The Lunar Chronicles by Merissa Meyer- As a young adult in the first half of the 2010s most of my reading was associated with sagas (we can blame Harry Potter and Twilight); it got to the point that when the Hunger Games was being adapted for films I just got tired of reading books with a mandatory sequel. Then came The Lunar Chronicles, I loved Cinder and was shocked at how fast I read through the first three books on my ereader. It’s also the series that jump started this little blog where I review books and movies!
  • Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan- I gotta say that after I read The Fault in Our Stars I was interested in what else was written by John Green, and saw that I was very disappointed with what he had previously written. A friend suggested I read Will Grayson Will Grayson with him saying “oh you’ll see why you will like it.” and I was shocked to discover that it is an lgbt story that didn’t focus on the “coming out” plot that I loath so much. It was a story about relationships and how love is more complicated than just being attracted to someone and goes beyond the romantic love people insist on so heavily in life.
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (and NOT JK Rowling)- I actually didn’t read this book until a few months ago despite owning the book since 2013 since like many after it was revealed JK Rowling had written a book under our noses I rushed over to Target and purchased a copy. In an effort to get back into reading again and fight the mental effect of grief I read the book, and liked it alot! Enough to read The Silkworm and currently read Career of Evil.
  • All the Wrong Questions by Daniel Handler- I loved reading A Series of Unfortunate Events as a teenager; the books were dark and comedic and just fit in so perfectly with my worldview. Reading the prequel series was mostly nostalgic for me and something I enjoyed heavily.
  • The Reason by Lacey Sturm- What a friend of mine thought was a ‘christian self help book’ when I was reading it turned out to be a book I liked (no it’s not a self help book. I don’t like self help books.) It was interesting to know what kind of life the former singer of Flyleaf lived and what led her to this point in life.
  • Glory O’Brian’s History of the Future by A.S. King- I have complaints about YA books at times; why must there be a love triangle, why must the protagonist need to find someone to love? Why is everything solved by money? Well this book addresses all of those complaints. It’s a story about friendship and fear of what the future has (it’s what was a ridiculous sounding future in 2014, until now where all kinds of crazy political things are happening in the U.S.)
  • Falling Towers by Jewell Parker Rhodes- I can’t exactly pinpoint exactly what I like about this book specifically; but I like that the protagonists place effort to get along with others despite different backgrounds in terms of culture, economic, and racial background.
  • Touched by an Angel by Jonathan Morris- I got into Doctor Who early 2012 and have been in love with the series ever since. I normally avoid expanded universe books for franchises because they are a hit or miss so I was delighted to see that this book wasn’t horribly bad (don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of crappy Doctor Who books out there and that’s an essay I’m saving for when I decide to end this blog.)
  • Whatever Mindy Kaling wrote- prior to a few years ago I avoided Autobiographical books because I don’t like knowing about traumatic events that happen to people, then I discovered there was more to these autobiographies written by female actresses and comedians beyond “woo feminism!” (Nothing against feminism, feminism is awesome.) Reading this book was hilarious and caused me to read similar books by Amy Pohler and Tina Fey.

And that’s it! A list of books I liked written in the past decade! No that doesn’t mean these are the end all be all best of the best from the 2010s, but they are the books that I did enjoy. What books did you like published the last ten years? Is there one you think I should have read? Do you disagree with anything I have on this list? Do you want to throw a chair at me? Comment below if you do.

Turtles all the Way Down Review

       

Turtles all the Way Down the long awaited novel by John Green after his heavy success with The Fault in Our Stars. If you follow his vlogs like I do you will know that until a few months ago he had stayed very quiet about his work post The Fault in Our Stars. Many fans of his (some known as Nerdfighters) were very excited to see the release of Turtles all the Way Down, and since I have read most of John Green’s books I figured I’d read Turtles all the Way Down too.

        Also fun fact, I had intended to grab the book at Target because Target dictates to me what is worth reading and what isn’t and to my surprise I got myself a signed copy of Turtles all the Way Down. It seems like something silly to gush over, but there’s just something nice about knowing a book you bought was in the same area as their ‘parent’.

Spoilers from this point Onward, can’t jedi mind trick this out of you. Hehe Star Wars reference in a book that has NOTHING to do with Star Wars. And maybe some discussion about John Green’s vlogs over the past few years.

        Turtles all the Way Down follows a girl named Aza Holmsey, a girl who suffers from a form of OCD that involves the fear of Clostridium Difficile (C.diff) and other bacterias to the point where she’s always applying hand sanitizer to one of her fingers that has a perpetual cut due to always pushing her thumbnail into her middlefinger. Aza has only her mother due to her father dying when she was a child.

        Aza also has her best friend Daisy who is a big Star Wars fan having knowledge of the current expanded universe, the Legends universe, and even writing her own Star Wars fanfiction. The story kicks off with Daisy taking interest in the disappearance Russell Pickett wanted by the police for a white collar crime due to a large reward being offered for the knowledge of the whereabouts of Russell Pickett. Because of this Aza runs into Davis a childhood friend of hers and son of Russell Pickett.  

        In all honesty I was a little worried reading the first quarter of the book; worried that this was another flavor of Looking for Alaska in the same way that Paper Towns was due to the mystery of the disappearance of Russell Pickett that our protagonists want to solve. After some bribe is involved the mystery is dropped down to mainly background noise in the novel with the bulk of the story involving Aza’s OCD and how it affects not only her, but her relationships and prevents her from experiencing life in the same way a normal person would.

        I don’t have OCD, I’ve made jokes at the expense of individuals of OCD (mainly out of my lack of education on the disorder and inability to organize my living space), but TatWD gave what has been described by fans on the Facebook Nerdfighters page as a very accurate internal description of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It probably helps that John Green as admitted to having OCD and knowing the experience for it.

        The way it affects Aza outside of the fear of C.diff is a constant fear of not being clean enough and losing the ability to do things that some people would enjoy doing and have no problem doing (such as French kissing) where the thoughts of another person’s bacteria inside of her make her unable to enjoy the sensation and her thoughts focusing primarily on the fact that something that isn’t hers is inside of her.

        Aza also struggles with her relationship with Davis, who she does have feelings for, but the above side effects of her OCD prevent her from enjoying the more physical parts of their relationship. While both of them do have a unique form of communication via text message. Even though Davis does return the feelings towards Aza he does have physical desires (not sexual, but atleast some form of physical intimacy.

Aza does feel guilt for her choice t date Davis despite his dad missing because it distracts Davis from taking care of his little brother Noah who isn’t taking the disappearance of their father in the same way that Davis is.

There is some strong emphasis on parents in this novel, even stronger than Green’s previous work where parents are far from a obstacle in their stories as seen in some other YA books. Aza has only her mother who worries about Aza frequently because of her mental health and just because she’s a good mother. Davis’ father on the other hand abandoned both his sons, was never too close to them, had arguments with his wife before she passed away, had the staff of his house raise his sons, and left all his money to a tuatara named Tua in hopes that the research to discover the secrets to the long life of tuataras can be found and he’d get the credit for funding it. Daisy’s parents are mentioned, but never seen due to Aza never asking about them or ever going over to Daisy’s house.

        My favorite character in the novel is Daisy, as I mentioned before she’s a huge Star Wars fan, but she was fun. There were moments of her being shallow and using Aza a bit (she did kick off the whole plot by making Aza not only trespass on Russell Pickett’s property but start a relationship with Davis Pickett for the sake of information on the whereabouts of Russell Pickett. Daisy also makes some points that Aza’s life isn’t as bad as she feels it is due to Daisy only having a smartphone as her only form of online entertainment which becomes very shocking and impressive when people remember that she has written lengthy Star Wars fanfiction on her smartphone. I felt myself siding with Daisy in one argument when Aza is concerned about her spending habits after they receive their hush money through buying not only a new car, but a new laptop. Daisy argues that Aza has a laptop and a car and lives in a house with her own room despite having only one working parent while she only has her smartphone, shares her room with her eight year old sister, and lives in an apartment complex even though she has both her parents and both of them being employed. Minor fun fact, but the paper BB-8 seen in the photo above was used as a bookmarker because I couldn’t find a bookmark that wasn’t currently being used, you can imagine how delightfully surprised I was discovering that Star Wars was mentioned frequently in this book and how appropriate it is.

        As I mentioned before I don’t have OCD, but anxiety issues; there were parts of the book where I could relate to Aza’s mental health and constant moments of being a prisoner in her own mind and having internal conversations with herself. Some parts of the book were very eye opening at how OCD isn’t “a need to have everything perfectly tidy” as I’ve joked around about in the past, but something more that really does control how a person functions and can prevent them from having a normal life and in some cases making horrible decisions based on the mental argument they have with themselves.

        I really enjoyed Turtles all the Way Down; it was a nice alternative to the usual John Green protagonist of teenage boys feeling the need to prove something about themselves, or being fixated on ‘the girl’. Aza and her friends were really fun and even the main conflict of Aza’s OCD causing problems in her life her friends and family still love and care for her.

        I give Turtles all the Way Down by John Green four Star Wars fanfics out of five.

Thoughts on Will Grayson Will Grayson

Just in time for school I am back after a summer of a dry spell concerning books! I actually wanted to avoid reading Will Grayson Will Grayson after being disappointed with John Green’s other books and hadn’t read any works by David Levithan. However my interest was sparked when a friend of mine (well let’s be honest the internet) mentioned it is an LGBT story.

I must say I was very satisfied. The gimmick of this story is about two teenagers named Will Grayson and their sucky lives and the different perspective both of them One Will is gay with depression and the other is introverted, but has a best friend who is gay.

Spoilers from this point on, please do not read if you don’t want to be spoiled. 

This story actually reminded me of myself in highschool, to the point where I was crying a few times (care to guess which Will I can relate to?) As stated above the two Wills are the same yet different; the first Will comes from a fairly well off family since both his mother and father are surgeons while the second Will lives with only his mother in a lower income household and suffers from clinical depression.

Both Wills eventually meet after a cruel prank by a character named Mona leads the second Will to Chicago in hopes of meeting his online crush. This results in the gay Will to meet Tiny and become his boyfriend. Gay Will’s life changes in ways that he slowly becomes more open to his friends and loved ones including coming out to his mother and coming out to his friends at school and meeting a new friend (who is also gay.)

Straight Will meanwhile struggles with his desire to be indifferent and not wanting to have any form of change in his life and Tiny’s life based musical and his feelings towards a girl named Jane.

One of the things I like alot about this book is that despite being significantly different people with different problems, both Wills can easily relate to each other and talk to each other about their problems and be open about their experiences (all in just three conversations).

I also like that John Green and David Lavithan chose to not make the parents an obstacle that they must overcome. As soon as Gay Will comes out to his mother and begins to be more honest with her she’s very supportive of him and willing to listen to Will about his depression and relationship troubles.  Straight Will also has supportive parents despite not having too many opportunities to be present in his life due to their line of work. S!Will’s dad even compares Will to a yacht and as being very precious to them.

All in all I was very satisfied with Will Grayson Will Grayson and give it five cat’s in boxes out of five.

Thoughts on Paper Towns and an Update

Today I finished my second John Green book Paper Towns and I think I’ll do something a little different. Like many other books at the end of Paper Towns is a group of questions to be asked incase the book is being read as a group so for this review I think I’ll just be answering some these questions along with the actual review. Before that though, the spring semester has started again so I probably won’t post anything for the next couple of months. I’m not quitting, I just have priorities.

Spoilers from this point forward
I liked the book, it was very strange and had more quirky moments than The Fault in Our Stars. THe story concentrates primarily of the disappearance of Margo and how it affects the people in her life and Quintin’s life. I think it’s interesting that she chooses a moment in time where feelings and emotions are at the strongest for teenagers. Their last year of regular education before going off to college where they realize they may miss the people they grew up with.
True colors of Margo’s friends begin to emerge which is something I felt was needed to be seen; in fact true colors of most of the characters are seen and it just so happens most of the characters are kind of assholes. Even our main protagonist Quintin falls under the asshole category with his obsession of finding Margo, granted he is very worried for her safety and scared she may have committed suicide.
I’d say the only character’s who aren’t complete jerks are Lacey, Radar, Angela, and nearly all parental figures. The argument is made that Margo’s parents are jackasses because they’re so hard on her. Understandable, but did anyone besides Q’s parents think that maybe they wouldn’t be such jackasses if Margo wasn’t such a bitch to them. It’s one thing to be a wild child, but it’s another to be out of control and not give a shit at all to what the people who clothe and house you.
Yes it is lame of me to take the side of Margo’s parents, but some of the shit she pulls would drive me nuts too. I don’t feel bad for her when her parents “kick her out” because honestly after having my trust betrayed so many times I’d probably do the same. My thoughts on Margo can be summed up by this quote from Lacey “Actually, yes,” Lacey says. “And actually he’s great. And actually you’re a bitch. And actually, I’m leaving. It’s nice to see you again, Margo. Thanks for terrifying me and making me feel like shit for the entire last month of my senior year, and then being a bitch when we track you down to make sure you’re okay. It’s been a real pleasure knowing you.” For those that read this blog, this is the part where Lacey became my favorite character in the book.

Now that I’m done ragging on Margo, let’s actually talk about other people. I gotta say I’m impressed that John Green has a generally accurate idea of what teens are kind of like. Alot of them are jerks, I’m still not sure if they drink as much as I’m led to believe in movies, books, and television, but then again I was introverted in highschool.
I like that Q didn’t put up with the sentimental garbage that is present in the last few weeks of highschool. Granted I was in a similar situation my last few weeks, but I just walked away.

Now onto answering questions;
WHy do you think margo picks Q as her accomplice on her campaign of revenge?
Convenience. Her statements at the end of the book are probably true too.

Do you think the characters Margo targets for revenge get what they deserve? Does Lacey deserve to be included?
Sure, and no. Lacey probably didn’t realize what she was doing and was clearly hurt by Margo’s actions.

Do you think margo wants to be found? DO you think margo wants to be found by Q?
I think she wanted the attention regardless of her answer to Q’s questions in the long run. Yeah she definitely wanted to be found by him.

Discuss the scene where Q finally finds Margo. How does her reaction to seeing her friends make you feel? Do you believe that she didn’t want Q to come find her?
The scene is pretty interesting, Margo is clearly a little happy to see her friends. She’s happy and forgiving enough to hug Lacey. Her reaction to seeing her friends further supports my thoughts on her being an ungrateful and uncaring attention seeking bitch. She wanted Q to find her.

Why do you think Q makes the decision he does at the end of the book? Do you agree with his decision to turn down Margo’s invitation?
I think Q rejects Margo’s invitation because he realized that they weren’t compatible people. Sure she taught him to man up and open his mind, but at the same time she’s fairly closed minded at the thoughts and feelings of her loved ones and only claims to be aware of them despite acting only on impulse. I agree fully with Q’s decision to go to college; being a nomad may sound nice and it may satisfy Margo in the long run, but Q realizes the reality of his life and that drifting around NY and the US was not a lifestyle he desired. Fun Fact-mortality rates that Margo states as being about thirty were only that way because of infant mortality. Alot of people lived beyond thirty.

With which characer’s version of the “real” Margo do you most agree?
As much as I disliked Ben, I gotta say he knew what the deal was with Margo just wanting the attention.

Okay that’s enough for this blog.
ALl in all I really did like Paper Towns, who knows I may even watch the film adaption. Yes I will be reading more of John Green’s work, but first I’ll probably go back to The Lunar Chronicles and read Fairest.

The Fault in Our Stars (yo, where you been?)

First, let me say that higher education has higher priorities than this little blog where I write about books and television shows I like. It has been a tough semester, but it’s over and I can enjoy my winter break. Now on with my little blog.

I reluctantly read The Fault in Our Stars, mainly because judging from the way the movie was advertised it seemed like one cheesy ass romance novel involving a girl with cancer as it’s main gimmick. Then again I managed to avoid all commercials for the movie version of The Fault in Our Stars because I was busy with school and family issues to watch normal tv. I bought it because a friend guilted me into it. I will admit, I like the constant snark between Hazel and Augustus so much more than any other romantic couple I’ve read ever!
I also thought a lot about someone I knew who had leukemia and passed away when I was nine. I’m not going too deep into that subject, but I wondered what kind of individual he would have grown into based on reading what Hazel, Augustus, and Isaac go through.
I like that John Green chose to make Hazel more of a fangirl rather than a girl who is ‘so damn educated, but pale and unusual to fit in or have a guy ever notice my plainness’. I mean Hazel still is plain, but she’s beyond being the Mary Sue of YA novels thanks to her snarky ways and fangirl tendencies toward her favorite book and unusual enjoyment of America’s Next Top Model (do they even show that anymore?).
I also like that John Green didn’t make Hazel and Augustus the typical ‘we believe in God, but we’re not religious’ couple and had them both as agnostics with Hazel leaning more towards atheism and Augustus acknowledging that there is a creator rather than the God of Abraham.
I will recommend it, but not because of how popular it is, but because of how good it is without all the hype surrounding it.