BOOK REVIEW: The Fault In Our Stars – by John Green

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Title: The Fault In Our Stars
Author: John Green
Genre: YA, Romance, Contemporary
First published: January 10th 2012
Finished reading: June 29th 2014
Pages: 316
Rating 4,5

“I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”

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I know, I’m probably one of the last persons on earth reading The Fault In Our Stars. This book by John Green has created quite a hype in the past, and now I’ve read it, I can understand why. I’m not sure if it was because of the tragic love story between two cancer-stricken teenagers. I’m not sure if it was because I was crying my eyes out as I was trying to finish the story. I’m not even sure if it was because of their trip to Amsterdam causing me to have a flashback of all the great moments I had in that city. But what I do know is that I loved it. And that I without hesitation would recommend The Fault In Our Stars to anyone that can appreciate well written YA novels and don’t mind getting ready a box of tissues before reading. Great read!

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Since most will know exactly what the book is about without me repeating all the details, I will keep the summary short. We start with meeting Hazel Grace, who has been fighting thyroid cancer ever since she was thirteen years old. And although she has been declared terminal ever since she was diagnosed and needs oxygen to help her breathe (since ‘her lungs suck at being lungs’), Hazel is still able to go to certain places. In The Fault In Our Stars, we follow her touching journey which is both about trying to live with cancer and trying to have something close to normal teenage life. Hazel is quite a loner, and most of the time prefers being at home with her favorite book An Imperial Affliction, which is like a personal Bible to her.

One day things change as she meets Augustus (or Gus) at the Cancer Kid Support Group. Augustus is currently in remission after having lost a leg to cancer, and goes to the meeting mostly to support his friend Isaac. When he meets Hazel, Augustus decides he has to get to know the girl better… And what starts as a simple friendship bound together by books, soon grows to something more intense. Hazel thinks ‘she’s a grenade’ and wants to ‘minimize the casualties’.  But Augustus doesn’t want to forget her and ignore his feelings, and even spends his wish on making hers come true: a trip to Amsterdam to finally meet the author of her favorite book. But life isn’t perfect and has some nasty surprises ready for both already suffering teenagers. Because ‘the world is not a wish-granting factory’… And life is just not fair.

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There has been a mayor hype around this book and the movie version; in this case I think it’s worth it. The Fault In Our Stars is a book with a strong message that is very likely to provoke tears. If you haven’t read it yet and like YA novels, this one is definitely worth reading!

BOOK REVIEW: The Maze Runner – by James Dashner

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Title: The Maze Runner
(The Maze Runner #1)
Author: James Dashner
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: October 6th 2009
Finished reading: June 26th 2014
Pages: 375

Rating 3

“Where are we going?” Thomas asked, still feeling the weight of seeing those walls close, thinking about the maze, the confusion, the fear. He hold himself to stop or he’d drive himself crazy. Trying to grasp a sense of normalcy, he made a weak attempt at a joke. “If you’re looking for a goodnight kiss, forget it.”

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Before I start, I have to confess that I started reading this book having very, very high expectations. I even put on hold other books that were next on my TBR list so I could read The Maze Runner first… And that might have influenced my opinion in a negative manner. People have compared this book to The Hunger Games series, and to be honest I cannot see the similarities. The main character Thomas lacked personality and the made-up slang and language used by the teenagers was actually quite annoying. The story itself is interesting enough though. In The Maze Runner, James Dashner presents us to a post apocalyptic world where a bunch of teenagers have to find their way out of a maze. None of them have any idea of how they arrived in the new world called the Glade in the first place, and they all suffer from memory loss. And that part is where I raised my eyebrows: the memory loss and lack of information mostly seemed forced and therefore not credible. I was still able to enjoy the story though, and will probably read the sequel The Scorch Trials somewhere in the future…

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We get to know the post apocalyptic world through ‘Greenbean‘ Thomas, the newest teenager to arrive to the Glade. He wakes up inside the Box (similar to an elevator), and doesn’t remember anything. The other boys welcome him to the Glade, but are being quite mysterious about the new world and evade answering his questions. Thomas is simply told to ‘shuck it‘ and wait until tomorrow. The other new kid Chuck is ordered to take care of him, and they soon start a friendship. Thomas finds himself feeling more at home already, and realizes things around the Glade sound and feel quite familiar…

Soon it becomes clear that Thomas had arrived at the wrong moment. For the last two years the Glade had been populated with boys only, and once a month the Box sent a new member to the Glade. Those days are over now. The next day the Box surprised the community and sends another member, and everybody is shocked to see that it is an unconscious girl.  Before she’s taken away in a coma, she wakes up briefly to let everybody know that “everything is going to change”. And she was right, as she was the last one the Creators sent to help solve the maze. Things are starting to change quite a lot for the Gladers during the next days. They try to maintain order, with everybody doing the jobs they were assigned and the Runners trying to find a way out of the maze. But soon the maze and the horrible creatures called Grievers start taking their victims. Due to circumstances I won’t discuss because of spoilers, Thomas becomes a Runner. Together with the leader of the Runners Minho, they desperately try to solve the puzzle and find a way out before it’s too late…

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The plot itself is definitely interesting, and that is mostly why I’m probably going to read the sequel. That and the fact that I already own the next two books… I do hope the character development gets better though, as well as the prose. I’m not saying to leave out the slang completely, but maybe toning it down a bit will make it less annoying. Recommended for those who enjoy YA post apocalyptic stories and prefer a good plot over well-developed main characters.

Friday Finds #3 – June 27th

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Originally featured at Should Be Reading FRIDAY FINDS showcases the most interesting books I’ve encountered this week and added to my readinglist. I’m an ‘adding junkie’ and my TBR list at Goodreads is already exploding, but I still love to find new potential treasures. This week I was cursed with reaaaally slow internet, so I couldn’t visit as many blogs as I would have wanted… But I was able to find some new interesting books anyway; they are listed below. And what about you? Any interesting new books you’ve found lately?

My finds:

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BOOK REVIEW: The Boy In The Striped Pajamas – by John Boyne

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Title: The Boy In The Striped Pajamas
Author: John Boyne
Genre: Historical Fiction, YA, WWII
First published: 2006
Finished reading: June 23rd 2014
Pages: 224
Rating 4,5

He looked down and did something quite out of character for him: he took hold of Shmuel’s tiny hand in his and squeezed it tightly.
“You’re my best friend, Shmuel,” he said. “My best friend for life.”

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The Boy In The Striped Pajamas was a great read. This book by John Boyne can be classified as amazingly moving and is ingeniously written from the point of view of a nine-year-old boy called Bruno. After seeing the movie various times, I already knew this book was going to be sad… And Boyne was able to make the tears flow perfectly while describing the developing relationship between Bruno and the Jewish boy Shmuel. The way Boyne incorporates themes as the Auschwitz concentration camp and other horrible facts of the Second World War and shows them through the eyes of a boy is refreshing. Bruno is too young to understand what’s happening during the Second World War or what his father’s job really implies… With terrible consequences.

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The story is set during the 1949’s in Nazi Germany, where Bruno and his family live a comfortable life in Berlin. His father is an important man and one day the Fury (Fuhrer) visits their home with important news. Soon his father is offered a job at Out-With (Auschwitz) and the family has to move to Poland. Bruno hates it there and wants to go back to Berlin, unable to understand why they moved there in the first place. Being a naive nine-year-old, he cannot grasp the real meaning of his father’s job… And he doesn’t understand what kind of place Out-With really is. When he looks out of his bedroom window, he sees a big group of people wearing striped pajamas and caps. They are all gathered together in a huge area with small huts and a fench surrounding them, and Bruno wonders what is really out there…

Acting like the explorer he wants to be some day, he decides to walk to the fence himself and find out more about those people wearing the pajamas. He knows he’s not supposed to be going there, but his curiosity wins and soon finds himself close to the fence. Bruno then meets a small Jewish boy named Shmuel, prisoner at the Out-With camp. They discover they were born the same day, and soon share more than that… Bruno tries to visit his new friend every day, sharing thoughts and food with the boy. Somehow sensing his friendship with Shmuel might be frowned upon, he decides to keep him a secret. When Bruno’s mother wants to move back to Berlin, he decides to pay one last visit to Shmuel. Bruno had promised to help find the Jewish boy’s missing father, and he wanted to discover for himself what was behind the fence. He had asked Shmuel to bring him an extra pair of striped pajamas so he could walk around the camp unseen…

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The Boy In The Striped Pajamas is a beautiful, but very sad story to read. Make sure to keep a box of tissues close as you will probably need it during the last few chapters. And make sure you watch the movie too if you haven’t; both are definitely recommended! Keep away if you don’t like sad endings though.

WWW Wednesdays #2 – June 25th

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Originally featured at Should Be Reading… WWW Wednesdays is all about answering the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?

mazeI’m probably going to finish The Maze Runner by James Dashner later tonight, as I have only about 50 pages left…  The story itself about a post apocalyptic world where a bunch of teenagers have to find their way out of a maze sounds interesting. But although I know this is YA literature, the made-up slang and dialogue is annoying me quite a bit and distracts me from the story…

 

  • What did you recently finish reading?

pajamasI finished The Boy In The Striped Pajamas a few days ago and still have to post the review… I must say John Boyne was able to bring tears to my eyes with his story about a nine year old boy Bruno. Set during WWII, we get to know Bruno about the time his Nazi-father gets a job at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Bruno is too young to really understand what is going on at Auschwitz, and makes friends with a Jewish boy (prisoner at the camp)….

 

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

faultI know, I’m probably the last person on earth to read this book. I saw the movie trailer the other day, and knew it was finally time to tackle The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. In a way I’m a bit afraid to read it since it has created such an hype, but I guess I want to see for myself what this book is all about.

 

 

These are my answers; how about you?

Teaser Tuesdays #2 – June 24th: The Maze Runner

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TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

The book I’m currently reading is The Maze Runner by James Dashner. I just started it yesterday after finishing The Boy In The Striped Pajamas (review coming soon), and I’m about 50 pages into the story. I’m not sure whether to like it or not, and the made-up slang like shuck and shank is actually quite annoying. Anyway, below a quote taken from one of its pages:

maze“ “Where are we going?” Thomas asked, still feeling the weight of seeing those walls close, thinking about the maze, the confusion, the fear. He hold himself to stop or he’d drive himself crazy. Trying to grasp a sense of normalcy, he made a weak attempt at a joke. “If you’re looking for a goodnight kiss, forget it.”  ”

 

What are you reading right now?

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

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I’ve never been nominated for something before, so I was totally excited when I discovered that three lovely bloggers nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award yesterday. Anna @ Anna’s Reading List, Rachael @ The End Of The Chapter and Erin @ Raised Reading, thanks for bringing a huge smile to my face!!

 

Here are the rules for this blogger award:

1. Thank and link the amazing person who nominated you.
2. List the rules and display the award.
3. Share seven facts about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
5. Optional: Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

Seven random facts about me:

1.Pippi_Longstocking_thumb I have loved books ever since I was little and remember Roald Dahl and Astrid Lindgren being amongst my favorites back then… I even dressed up as Pippi Longstocking once with plush monkey on my shoulder and all when I was about five years old!

2. During my life I have been reading books in three different languages (Dutch, English and Spanish), although now I mostly stick with English and sometimes Spanish. I live in Argentina now and only use Spanish in conversations… But when I’m reading in English and then start talking to someone, I sometimes switch between English and Spanish without noticing. It has already caused some awkward and funny situations in the past. 😀

3. Lomogram_2014-02-20_05-45-07-AM (1)I am what you can consider an absolute cat-lover since about the day I was born. I’ve been having cats as a pet for most of my life, not counting the years I’ve been travelling around. Meet my current cat Jazmin, who was rescued from the streets when she was about eight weeks old and now has grown to be a strong and healthy cat…

 

4. I absolutely love travelling and during the last five years I have lived in various countries both in Europe and in Latin America. I started in Spain where I studied, then went to Italy, UK, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia… But love brought me back to Argentina and as of last year I’m living together with the love of my life. (Sounds tacky, I know…)

5. One of my other passions beside reading is being creative in general, i.e. writing, drawing and photographing. I actually have an old blog where I stored some of my poems and stories, but I have to admit I haven’t written in a long time… Examples of poems and the first chapters of one of my stories you can find here.

6. I was a nerd with a capital N during my whole school period, mostly living in my own fantasy (book) world. I was also ridiculously shy… The shyness went mostly away over time but the books remained of course. 😀

7. One of my biggest dreams is to travel the world some day, but only if it’s together with my hubby… Apart from the fact that I couldn’t stand being far away from him, the experience of exploring the unknown is even more beautiful when you can share it with someone else. Who knows, I might be living the dream in the future, but for now I will just continue to explore the worlds created in books…

And I’m nominating:

It’s hard to find blogs that haven’t been nominated yet, so I decided to display a selection of awesome blogs by awesome people that are definitely worth visiting. Bring on the book love! In no particular order:

I would like to say thanks to all the bloggers mentioned above and also to the ones I didn’t mention but are not less amazing for inspiring me to keep reading books and improving It’s All About Books! It’s great to know there are a lot of booklovers like me out there. 😀 Don’t feel obligated to participate if you don’t want to, I just wanted to share the love…