Skip to main content

Reviews and Recommendations: Week 16



Hello, everyone! It's time for another set of book reviews. This weeks books are ones that I wanted to read for a long time. I finally got my hands on a copy of Looking For Alaska at my local bookstore it is now tied for my favorite book of all time with All The Bright Places. Speaking of John Green, I preordered my (probably) signed copy of Turtles All The Way Down. If your looking to preorder it be sure to check out John Green's Twitter for the special ISBN number for the signed copies. As for The Thousandth Floor, the longer I think about the book, the more appreciation I have for the phenomenal world building. I'm even tempted to purchase the special paperback edition for bonus content. I'm also looking forward to the sequel which is getting released at the end of August. Finally, as I'm always looking for a good book deal because they're so expensive, I noticed Amazon is having special pre-Prime Day sales on books July 9. And as always, please share this with your friends and follow us on Twitter (@readwriteandme), Instagram (@readingwritingandme), and Facebook for updates and extra content!


Looking For Alaska by John Green (221 pages)
Overview: Miles has never had many friends at his local Florida public school. He is okay with that preferring instead to focus on his other hobbies (like reading biographies to discover famous people's last words). But, of course, this stagnant life isn't getting him any closer to finding the elusive "Great Perhaps", so he decides to follow in his fathers footsteps and enroll at Culver Creek, a boarding school in Alabama. His new roommate, Chip, otherwise known as the Colonel, bringing him into the center of his friend circle. With a new nickname, Pudge, and a group of outcast, rule breaking friends, Miles starts to feel like he's found a place where he can belong until their world is shaken by one tragic, and unexpected, death that leaves everyone to wonder why. Overall: 5 (Is there a number on the 1-5 scale higher than 5? Cause I need it for this book)

Characters: 5 Wow. I absolutely adore this cast. There's Pudge who has always been invested in school and aloof to anything outside the general, tunnel-vision approach to life. Meeting the Colonel and Alaska really push the boundaries of the world he knows, and he has to figure out if he can alter his views and definitions of the world. And in finding these people who take him on these adventures and challenge his thoughts, Pudge's life is really taken from zero to sonic speed; which is something that thrills him. He is allowed to grow and break the mold, thusly inching him closer to the great perhaps.
The other character I want to discuss is Alaska. She's always had this element of mystery that really matches her spontaneity. She drinks. She smokes. She's fine with breaking the rules even if she's fearful of the consequences of getting caught. And everything works out fine for her until she reaches the ultimate consequence. Alaska is one of those people who simply burns to bright. She feels everything extremely passionately, and that's exactly what she wants. In living her life on a precarious tightrope, she stands the risk of falling off; and sometimes the reader is left to wonder if she fully understands this. Yes, there have been characters like this before, even some written by Green, but Alaska has her own unique mark.

Plot: 5 The plot, much like the book, is fractured in two. There is a before and an after. Before is focused on watching Pudge's growth, seeing his become himself, and seeing him gather experiences and traits he will need to confront the after. In the After, we see the remaining group trying to reconcile with the catalyst, the tragedy. We see them work through their feelings, their disbelief, and their need to understand. And through this, the undeniable impact of the before is revealed.

Writing: 5 I love John Green's writing. It is intelligent and thought provoking. As I've now read my way through all of his books, I've noticed a few interesting common threads. Teen smoking is prevalent in all of his books and seems to be one of his favorite symbols. Though each of his characters see it in a different way, it is all ultimately viewed as a form of control.
There are also character tropes that Green has repeatedly explored. Much like in Paper Towns, this is the story of a boy who has lived neatly within the confines of school, family, and society. They want more, sure, but they never go after it until a girl who dances precariously on the edge with little care and plenty of mystery comes along to drag them into a whole new world before leaving them to figure out this new life by themselves. This isn't to say these books or characters and are the same, as they each have their own, unique mark, but the similarity is interesting. Luckily, this is one concept I enjoy reading about and exploring, the person who live at an unsustainable pace.
So, to make a long story short, I absolutely loved Looking For Alaska as well as the titular character, and it is now in my top five favorite books of all time.


The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee (441 pages)
Overview: The world close to eighty years in the future looks just as different and technologically advanced as you would imagine. New York City seems to have changed most of all with the edition of The Tower, a complex rising one thousand floors consisting of restaurants, apartments, shops, and parks. Really, no one leaves the tower unless they're taking the train on a three hour trip to Paris or a helicopter to the Hamptons. The residents of the upper floors and their children all live perfect bubble lives with access to everything they ever want and a life where they never have to lift a finger. Until, of course, things start to get complicated leading some to start mixing with the poorer people on living in the slums of downtower. One thing's for sure, in the months leading up to one girl falling from the roof of the tower to her death, nothing is normal. There are many plots and storylines that weave in and out in a way that makes the plot impossible to summarize here but makes for an intriguing story in a fascinating world.
I also want to say that I generally read contemporary books, so I was a bit weary of this futuristic book, but, as Katherine McGee said at Book Con, it really is a contemporary novel in a futuristic setting. So, if, like me, you aren't a science fiction lover, don't write this story off. Overall: 4.3

Characters: 4 There is quite the slew of characters that all mix and mingle with each other. Many of these characters are given point of view slots, or at least the illusion of it. Despite labeling each chapter with one of the six point of view characters, each chapter is narrated in third person with the same detached, cardboard, omniscient feel for each. As the story progressed, through their actions and reactions, I got to know the characters better, but some of them lacked necessary growth or humanization that left the majority of the characters flat.

Plot: 5 I'm giving the plot a five, with one caveat. The ending was rushed, flat, and disappointing. But ignoring the last twenty pages, the plot was what fueled the story, and, in part, made it difficult to put down. There are many twists and turns, some the reader discovers slightly before the characters and some total surprises. The main portion of the book, the majority of four hundred pages, I found captivating. Bravo on an excellent plot that is only dimmed by a lackluster beginning and end.

Writing: 4 I'll start with the positives. The world building in this book is amazing. The images were vivid and even though this was far flung technology in a Jetson-like world I could never construct alone in my mind, I could see and comprehend it all. McGee did a phenomenal job with this.
I also have to applaud her ability to twist and turn plots into and out of one another creating individually captivating storylines along with an epic story as a whole. For the remarkable execution here, I could not dock this score any lower than a four.
Now for the negatives which can pretty much be summed up by the beginning and the ending. Choosing to write in third person, and on top of that, not honing the voice to give any sense of the characters voices, by nature, made them flat as cardboard. If only she had chosen to give each POV a true point of view narration and used their first person voices instead of this alternate, weak, third person voice. The voice nearly turned me off of of the book from the first chapter, rightfully weary of investing close to ten hours on a book that only seemed subpar. Past this initial start, when the plot picks up the story is amazing. Until the ending when it all falls apart in a rushed, unsatisfying ending that seemed to be there simply because McGee had obligated herself to throw someone off the roof. There were loose ends left, obviously to be tackled the the second installment that comes out in August, but they were not set in a way that made me eager to get my hands on the next book (though I will most likely still read it).


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

Planes, Trains, and... Books

It's almost holiday time, and that means traveling for a lot of people. Since I'm leaving this weekend to go visit family for Thanksgiving, I thought I'd make a list of books for you guys that'll be perfect reads while you're flying, waiting in the airport, or hiding from relatives. If you're taking a car trip, check out the audiobook versions. Or, I guess, if you're fortunate enough to be able to read in the car, do that. I can't even look at Instagram without getting carsick.
So, without further ado, here's my list of perfect travel books that are lighthearted, page turning, or perfect escapes. I'll link to my reviews of each of the books so that you can read my full thoughts on each of the books.
Crying Laughing  by Lance Rubin I picked a lot of funny books for this list because they're my favorites to read while traveling. Even when books cross into difficult subject matter, the tone can keep a book perfectly poised as a light read. I lov…

The Cheerleaders

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas (372 pages)
Overview: Five years ago, five cheerleaders on the same high school squad died in three separate incidents, but how separate were they? That's what Monica wants to know. Her sister, Jen, was the last teen to die in the tragedy when she died by suicide, but Monica isn't convinced it was simply survivors guilt at play. She's also not convinced that Jack Canning was truly at fault for two girls murders or that the car accident that took the final two girls was really an accident. With an unlikely friend by her side, Monica sets out to dig up the truth about what really happened to those five girls even if it jeopardizes her own life. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I loved Monica's voice. Even though it's told in third person, her character really shined through. Despite making some poor choices and putting herself in dangerous situations, she does strive to do what she thinks will bring truth or justice. Ginny, a girl she connects…

What If It's Us

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (448 pages)
Overview: Ben and Arthur meet at the post office during a flashmob. Well, Arthur followed Ben into the post office because he thought he was and, and, just as they started talking, in true form with Arthur's New York fantasy, a flash mob erupted. When the boys and split up, Arthur loses his chance at connecting with Ben, but when he can't stop thinking about him, he explores ways to reconnect even in a city of a million empty faces like New York. Even if they can find each other, with Arthur going back to Georgia at the end of the summer, will it even be worth it? Overall: 4/5

Characters: 4.5 I'm not sure what to say about the characters. I liked them enough, but I didn't feel any real attachment to any of them. I liked the cast of friends, but they all lacked a certain weight that would give them a stronger sense of reality. My favorite relationship in the book was the friendship between Dylan and Ben.…

Heroine

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis (417 pages) To Purchase From Your Local Bookstore (Affiliate Link)
TW: Depiction of opioid addiction 
Overview: Mickey has it all. She's on the best softball team in the county, she has a supportive best friend, and, even though her parents have recently gone through a divorce, they both want to support her. And then she and Carolina get into a car accident on the way home to watch Netflix and eat pizza, a regular Friday night. Mickey's leg is all but torn out of her body, and her hip has to be put together with screws. Carolina, the school's near famous pitcher, nearly destroys her arm. As the girls fight to be ready in time to play their senior softball season, Mickey falls down a dangerous road, slowly upping her intake of pain pills to get through the day and to quicken her pace through physical therapy. Even as she tells herself that it's just for softball, just for her team, just for her parents, as she gets further in and her dependency i…

Dumplin'

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy (375 pages)
Overview: Willowdean "Dumplin'" is fat. It's something that she's come to accept about herself even after years of fad diets enforced by her mother and bullying at school. Aunt Lucy certainly helped with her self acceptance, and in cultivating her love of Dolly Parton, but Will is left rudderless after Lucy has a sudden heart attack. To reclaim a bit of confidence she'd lost, Will signs up for the Clover City Pageant. Though she's not the typical beauty queen, Will and her group of friends get to put their own stamp on her mother's beloved pageant. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 I like Willowdean. She lives in the place most of us do on the fine line between insecure and confident. Murphy does a great job building a crew of characters around Willowdean. It was fun to revisit the cast after I'd read Puddin', Murphy's forthcoming companion novel.

Plot: 4 While this book is mainly billed as being about a beaut…

Spotlight Review: All of This Is True: A Novel

All Of This Is True: A Novel by Lygia Day Peñaflor (May 15)
Overview: When bestselling author Fatima Ro's new book hits the shelves, of course her biggest (and best) fans are going to want to read it... until they realize its the thinly veiled story of the past few months of their lives complete with details that got their best friend Jonah beat into a coma. In the media frenzy that follows, the girls each take their turn at telling their own sides of the story. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 Peñaflor has written quite the cast to fill her larger than life story, and they all play their roles perfectly. We probably get to know famed author Fatima Ro best, even though we never get to really see her side of the story beyond excerpts from her second novel. But the girls work together to shape the image of the young, intelligent, open minded author who welcomed them into their lives with accuracy. By the end of the novel, the reader realizes they would have fallen for Fatima's tricks too.

Guest Post with Kristy Fairlamb

Today, I'm bringing you another guest post from an author! Kristy Fairlamb stopped by to talk about her top tips for writing and her writing process. Her novel, Lucid, recently came out. If you're interested in learning more or picking it up, check out my Indiebound link! (Affiliate Link).

Eight tips for writing a novel: Based on my vague understanding of the process after winging it and completing three manuscripts.  My first book, Lucid, has just been published, the sequel, Luminous, is mid-edits and the third, a standalone, is at the 2nddraft stage waiting until I’ve finished with the others. 
ONE:JUST WRITE I went to a writing class once and sat beside a lady who told me it was the sixth session she had attended. I asked what she was working on, she said nothing yet, she’s learning first.
I didn’t know how to write when I first started writing. I believe the best learning came after I’d written the first draft when I learnt everything I’d done wrong.
Don’t wait to write until yo…

How It Feels To Float

How It Feels To Float by Helena Fox (May)
Overview: Biz has a lot of sadness in her life. Her father died when she was age 7, her group of friends abandon her, and her best friend gets sent four hours away to live with her father. The world is too much, and Biz can't just float anymore. Exploring Biz's racing thoughts and grief, the book chronicles her discovering what it means to be honestly okay. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 The characters do come vividly alive but in a sort of passive way. Biz seems almost removed from herself, like she's telling the story about her life instead of speaking as they happen. Because of this, it's like seeing Biz through a foggy window and everyone else through a kaleidoscope.
I do love how supportive her mother is, her relationship with her younger twin siblings, and the mentorship and friendship she finds from an elderly lady in her photography class.
She also has an interesting relationship with her father who comes to her in hallucinati…

Waiting For Fitz

Waiting For Fitz by Spencer Hyde (March 5) Click to Purchase
Overview: Addie is in the hospital for inpatient OCD treatment. She's not thrilled, particularly because her mom might watch The Great British Bake Off without her, but, overall, she's ready to try whatever it takes to get better. And it turns out that most of the orderlies are nice and her fellow patients are great company, especially Fitz, who's been there for two years battling schizophrenia. Inside, she makes major strides toward recovery, but Fitz comes to her and asks for help breaking out. Against her better judgement, she can't refuse to help him. Overall: 4 

Characters: 5 I enjoyed reading from Addie's prospective. I thought that Hyde did an awesome job portraying OCD and the compulsions and obsessions that come with it. Addie is sarcastic and sensible. She has a wonderful, supportive mom and a team behind her that's determined to help. I love how she is both reasonable, and takes time to quest…