Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Books on Tour: John Green!

I got to see John Green (and Hank!!!) for the TATWD book tour!

I've been SUPER excited about this for WEEKS, if you couldn't tell by my uber-capitalization and excessive use of exclamation points!!!! The only bummer about this was that there wasn't actually a signing where we could've met the Green brothers, but hey, we all got a signed copy of the book (and swag) included with admission, so... I'm not complaining all that much.

You guys, you have to know how much this means to me to even be in the same room as John Green. He's not just the author of my #4 favorite book of all time (TFIOS); he's one of my favorite HUMAN BEINGS (that I don't personally know). I know it's dangerous to put people on pedestals, but he's one of the few famous people in the world I would feel even remotely comfortable nudging in the general direction of the proverbial pedestal. As a book lover, as a media consumer, and as a teacher, I am so heavily influenced by Green's words and ideas. I am a major, major fan.

I've seen Hank live before, but those were concerts. (Awesome concerts, though!) This was my first ever John Green book event, and it did not disappoint.

We started off with the man himself reading an excerpt from TATWD, and speaking candidly about his own experiences with OCD and depression, and how they shaped him and this book. He was heartfelt and sincere, and I found myself tearing up at various points throughout the show. John Green never fails to make me cry :)

Then Dr. Lawrence Turtleman came out to explain taxonomy and phylogenetics and tuataras. (There's a tuatara that features prominently in TATWD.)


Followed by Q&As with John by himself as well as him with Hank, a la their podcast, Dear Hank and John.

They had two ASL interpreters on stage with them!
And yeah, all my pictures are blurry and dark and from far away, but we also got some musical performances from Hank, including the very end, where he AND John (and all of us) sang one of John's favorite songs, "This Year" by the Mountain Goats. That was a very, very cool moment. I know there were like, a thousand of us there or whatever, but basically, I SANG WITH JOHN GREEN :)

And this evening just further impressed upon me what genuinely awesome people they are. They are smart, and they are funny, but they also care a lot about making the world a better place (decreasing world suck), and I loved that feeling of being one with everyone who was there with me. 

We weren't just people seeing a show on stage; we were a community. It was wonderful to feel that way. <3 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Thousand Letters by Staci Hart

While my blog post itself does not contain any sexual content, this book does. This is a review for a book that is meant for mature audiences, and therefore is unsuitable for minors.

Thoughts at a glance: *** (I liked it!)

Summary: Seven years ago, Elliot let the love of her life walk away, and she's regretted it ever since. She has always known that Wade was The One, but she was too young at the time to make that kind of promise, and as a result, she hasn't heard from him since the day they broke up.

Wade is back in town after seven years of running from the memories of the girl he loved, but under the worst of circumstances: his father is dying. So now, not only is he having to deal with being strong for his sisters, but he also has to face Elliot, and the very real possibility that his feelings for her are as strong as ever.

Monday, October 23, 2017

By Your Side by Kasie West

Thoughts at a glance: ** (It was okay)

Summary: Autumn has a seemingly-awesome life. She's a photographer for yearbook, she's friends with some of the popular kids, and she's finally, finally going to make things happen with Jeff, who's been flirting with her for years. AND, she's about to go spend an awesome weekend with her awesome friends and almost-boyfriend in a cabin at the canyon.

Until she finds herself left behind and locked in the library.

With Dax, of all people.

Where Autumn is the one who always follows the rules and goes along with the crowd, Dax is the mysterious one, the loner, the one who doesn't give a crap, the one who everyone talks about.

At first, Autumn wants nothing more than to get out of there. But as she gets to know Dax, she starts to realize that she's not really sure what she wants anymore.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Thoughts at a glance: ***** (It was amazing!)

Summary: I honestly don't know how to sum it up better in my own words, so here's the official copy:

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Hold Me by Courtney Milan

While my blog post itself does not contain any sexual content, this book does. This is a review for a book that is meant for mature audiences, and therefore is unsuitable for minors.

Thoughts at a glance: ***** (It was amazing!)

Summary: Maria Lopez and Jay na Thalang are sworn enemies from the start. Jay, a professor at Berkeley, assumes that beautiful, glamorous Maria is a fake, shallow dolt; Maria, rightfully, thinks he's sexist and elitist. Every encounter between them after their first meeting is ferocious and full of fire.

Unbeknownst to either of them, they actually get along really well--online. Maria runs a popular blog, and Jay is one of her biggest fans, and for the past year and a half, they've been communicating under pseudonyms, Em and A. Their friendly messages have turned into flirtation, and their flirtation is slowly turning into love.

As sparks fly (not always in a good way) between Maria and Jay, Em and A grow closer. But eventually the truth will come out. Which version of their relationship will prevail?

Friday, October 6, 2017

Trade Me by Courtney Milan

While my blog post itself does not contain any sexual content, this book does. This is a review for a book that is meant for mature audiences, and therefore is unsuitable for minors.

Thoughts at a glance: **** (I really liked it)

Summary: Tina Chen has about fifteen dollars left in her bank account, and no time for any foolishness. She just wants to get her degree and become a doctor so that she can help take care of her family and their bills.

On a particularly bad day listening to privileged college students complaining about welfare and EBT, Tina loses it--on Blake Reynolds, who happens to be the son of the CEO of the Apple-like corporation, Cyclone Industries. She bets him that he wouldn't last one day with her life, and he takes her up on it: they will trade jobs, houses, salaries, responsibilities, etc. for the rest of the semester.

But things aren't exactly as they seem, as each discovers the difficulties of each other's lives. As Tina and Blake get to know each other, they realize also that their chemistry is too strong to deny, and that perhaps, each might be what the other needs.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Top Ten by Katie Cotugno

Thoughts at a glance: *** (I liked it)

Summary: Gabby and Ryan are an unlikely pair of best friends--Gabby is a loner who gets panic attacks and prefers to stay home and play Monopoly with her family on the weekends, while Ryan is a popular hockey player who loves to party and probably can't even remember all the girls he's hooked up with. And yet, they've somehow managed to stay best friends since they first met freshman year, going bowling and making Top Ten lists about everything under the sun.

Now they've just graduated, and their separation for college is looming just over the horizon. As we count down their Top Ten moments of their friendship, Gabby and Ryan need to confront their feelings and decide if they really want to be something more.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Thoughts at a glance: **** (I really liked it)

Summary: Dimple Shah is about to go to Stanford, to study web development. However, if you ask her mother, she's going to either find an Indian husband, or at least to make herself more marriageable. Dimple just wants to get away from the traditional expectations and the pressure, to achieve her dreams and make something of herself. So when the opportunity to go to an app development conference comes up, she goes for it.

Little does she know that her future husband (as arranged by their parents) is going to be there as well. Ever the good, dutiful son, Rishi Patel decides to attend the conference as well, in hopes of winning over his future wife.

The problem is... Dimple has NO idea who he is. She has no idea about ANY of this.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

Thoughts at a glance: ***** (It was amazing!)

Summary: This is book... 6? 5.5? of the Throne of Glass series. Therefore, it will contain spoilers for all the previous books. If you would like to check out all my previous TOG reviews, please help yourself :)

Assassin's Blade (collection of prequel novellas)
Throne of Glass
Crown of Midnight
Heir of Fire
Queen of Shadows
Empire of Storms

You have been warned!!!

If you haven't read the series in a long time and need some refreshing, I would definitely recommend rereading "The Assassin and the Healer" from Assassin's Blade, as it introduces the character of Yrene Towers (one of the main characters in Tower of Dawn) and maybe also Queen of Shadows, which takes place right before TOD.

So, at the end of QOS, we have a small parting of ways. After the destruction of the glass castle in Rifthold and the subsequent revelations about Erawan and the greater threat to the world, Aelin and her crew (Rowan, Aedion, Lysandra, and eventually Dorian and Manon) go off on their way as shown in Empire of Storms, while Chaol and Nesryn head to the Southern Continent to see if they can drum up some allies for the war and to see if the healers at the Torre Cesme can get Chaol walking again after his spinal injury.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Audiobook review: Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series

Soulless is the first book of the series
I can't remember if I've ever discussed audiobooks before on this blog, at least in their own separate posts. (I may have mentioned previously how much I LOVE the audiobooks for The Illuminae Files, but they didn't get their own review.)

I love audiobooks, but I enjoy them most when I get something extra from the experience that I couldn't get while reading it, you know, traditionally. For me, that "something extra" usually relies really heavily on the narration-- I love different voices and emotion. (Am I weird? I only like to listen to audiobooks for books I've already read. Like watching a movie adaptation.)

And that's a big part of what I loved about Emily Gray's narration of Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series. Without getting into too much detail about the plot (at risk of spoilers), Gray had to distinguish between so many characters and their accents and personalities: the ever-practical English Alexia; the overemotional Scottish werewolf alpha, Lord Maccon; the English, soft-spoken beta, Professor Lyall; the English, flamboyantly fabulous vampire, Lord Akeldama; Madame LeFoux, the masculine-presenting French inventor; and so on, and so forth.

The novels (five in all), which I already loved anyway, really came alive for me through Gray's narration, and I think I blitzed through all the audiobooks even more quickly than I read them in book form. And then I had major book hangover when I was finished.

If you're looking for some supernatural steampunk fun, with lots of tea and parasols and one of my favorite book universes ever to exist, I would highly recommend these audiobooks, whether or not you've already read them.