Skip to main content

Weekly Reviews and Recommendations: Week 31 Part 1

Hello, everyone! The time has come for me to post my review of Turtles All The Way Down! Also, I'm waking up at 6 AM tomorrow (Way too early for me!), but it's okay because I'm going to see John and Hank Green in person tomorrow night in Indianapolis! Does anyone else happen to be going to that show? Have you been or have tickets to a stop coming up? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.
Below, you'll find links to all of my John Green book (and movie) review articles as well as a link to a You Tube video from John where he speaks about OCD. I thought the video was so wonderful and important and informative. It also makes a great before or after viewing for Turtles

Without the dust jacket

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green (286 pages) Purchase Here
Overview: Aza Holmes is a sixteen year old girl from Indianapolis, Indiana. She's a best friend and a student and a daughter and also someone who deals with intrusive thought spirals because she lives with OCD. Struggling with major questions about the world and identity is hard for any teen, but paired with OCD, they become all encompassing. Aza can't get past the idea that maybe she's really not the one in control of herself. She questions how she can live a life with a mind, supposedly the source of identity, which she cannot control. And she struggles with the idea of all the bacteria that live inside of her and maker her up, and how they could be dangerous and possibly deadly whether they come from her own body or invade through the constant open wound she keeps in her thumb, the callous from childhood she breaks open, and then cleans, compulsively. And seeing the world in this way, the only way she can, complicates her relationships with her best friend, Daisy, and a billionaire boy she used to know who she gets brought back to again, Davis. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 John Green didn't produce characters here with mixes of traits and tropes to execute a story, he wrote people. People who feel like real, living, breathing people, and that makes all the difference in books. In Turtles, he departs from his usual tendency to write loud, larger than life characters (though that is not to say I didn't adored/appreciate Alaska or Margo).
Instead, he focuses on Aza, the narrator, Daisy, her best friend, and Davis, the missing billionaire's son. Aza sees the world the only way she's ever known, through glimpses in breaks of the spirals. She's constantly fighting them and the compulsions they bring. They absorb energy and focus and her ability to live her life. This is something John has shared many times he has personal experience with, as have I. I don't believe I've ever felt closer to a character than I did to Aza.
Then there's Daisy who always means well, but she doesn't live in Aza's head or understand the difficulty Aza faces every day, and sometimes she gets fed up with her friend for sometimes not being the most present or inquisitive. And Davis who feels a connection with Aza in that they have both lost people. He takes a strong refuge in the idea of the past, and Aza is something from it, familiar and understanding. Where issues arise with him is when Aza can't get past the intrusive thoughts she has very time they kiss about all the mycobacteria they exchange, and he can't understand that he really isn't doing anything wrong. He's always asking Aza if she's "getting better", and he can't understand that it is a much more complex situation than it appears to an outsider.

Plot: 5 While this is very much a character piece where we dive into and understand Aza, John has created an interesting plot to tell the story. Daisy and Aza meet Davis because they're looking into the investigation of his father after the billionaire went missing the night before police raided his home. While the question of where his father is is present, the story's point isn't to be a mystery in that respect. The girls push forward and look for clues on the investigation as much as Aza investigates people as she looks to see what makes them the way they are.

Writing: 5 I've always been a major fan of Green's for his writing style for two reasons that both tie back to: he respects his readers. Green uses complex sentence structure and vocabulary. Some critique him, saying that this is unrealistic, but it has always made me feel valued and represented in books. Teens can be eloquent too. Also, Green doesn't ever shy away from major questions about the universe. Why we're here. Why we die. How we live. And how the world works. He shares these musings so poetically as well. I've always felt comforted hearing views on thoughts I often have expressed.
I also have to say that this is especially true to this book. Green writes about thought spirals and what that feels like, an experience I know too well. His descriptions of getting strangled by the unproductive thoughts and what comes from that made me want to scream "Yes!" like someone finally understands. While this spoke to my experience deeply, you don't have to suffer from anxiety to feel and understand this book. Green does a great job of putting the reader as deep in Aza's head as she is, which makes it as important for people to read and understand as to feel comforted.
I got a DFTBA!

Links of Interest:
John Green Vlogbrothers Video on OCDhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNEUz9v5RYo
Looking For Alaska: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/07/reviews-and-recommendations-week-16.html
Paper Towns: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/05/weekly-reviews-and-recommendations-week_21.html
An Abundance of Katherines: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/06/weekly-reviews-and-recommendations-week_25.html
The Fault In Our Stars: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/10/the-book-and-movie-fault-in-our-stars.html

If you liked this article, please share it with your friends and check out our other articles ranging from book reviews to poetry and short stories to editorials. To get updates about new posts and extras, please follow us on Instagram (@readingwritingandme), Twitter (@readwriteandme), and Facebook or sign up for email alerts by clicking the subscribe button at the top of the sight. Also, please leave comments or email us (readingwritingandme@gmail.com) with your thoughts or review requests. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Books I'm Looking Forward To: April

Everything feels extremely uncertain right now, and authors are rightfully concerned about their books that are debuting in the coming months. Right now, Amazon is delaying book shipments, bookstores are being forced to close, and libraries are not providing in person services. While none of that this good news, it doesn't mean that books will be forgotten during this time. If anything, we need books and the arts in general more than ever. We've all turned to Netflix and reading and music to take our minds off of the situation, and these artists need our support too.
Luckily, there are tons of ways to do this. While authors aren't getting to hold traditional book launches, many are transitioning them to places like Instagram Live, so make sure you follow the authors you love on social media. Continuing on the social media theme, it's now more important than ever to talk about the books you enjoy online and leave reviews on Goodreads and Amazon to spread the word.
Anoth…

Fear of Missing Out

Fear of Missing Out by Kate McGovern 
Overview: Astrid has a form of brain cancer called astrocytoma that causes a star shaped tumor to form near her brainstem. Though she was in remission, two years later, the cancer comes back, and Astrid becomes convinced that she won't beat the disease. She starts to pursue options that will allow her to have a life in the future, namely, cryopreservation. After essentially freezing her body, she hopes to wake up when there's a cure for her cancer so she can rejoin the world and see some of the milestones she fears missing.
On the road trip to tour the Arizona facility, though, Astrid makes other realizations about her life and eventual death that alters how she sees her original plan. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Astrid is relatable. She has a touch of dry, witty humor that makes her relatable. She loves her friends and family deeply, but she also has a conviction to follow what feels best for her. I appreciated how she always tried to stay ho…

Soooo... The World Is More Than a Little Scary

I'm not sure what exactly I want to say with this post. It feels like there's nothing left to say in a way. Over the last few days, the United States has come to realize just how serious COVID-19 is. It's a reality that people in Europe and Asia grasped long before most Americans. I think that we're all starting to realize just how much our lives are fundamentally changing. How long this will actually impact us.
I've seen a lot of different reactions on Twitter. Understandably, there's a lot of heartbreak over lost vacations, concerts, and book tours. A lot of us were using things like this to keep motivated. It's entirely understandable why these choices have been made, but it doesn't make it any less hard. So, I guess what I wanted to say first is don't feel bad for feeling bad. Yes, there are people losing much more from this, and we should be doing everything we can to help them through this time, but beating yourself up for being disappointed …

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.…

Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Nice Try, Jane Sinner Lianne Oelke (420 pages)
Overview: Jane wants to forget the past. Forget the high school that expelled her. Forget the people that watched her fall from grace. Forget her family who thinks that prayer is the answer to everything. Facing community college at Elbow River as a last resort graduation option, she signs up to be on House of Orange, a new web reality show, to solve her housing problem. Though she knows to expect the unexpected, House of Orange and its inhabitants test Jane in ways she never imagined. Maybe the year won't be as bad as she imagined. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 I LOVE Jane. There are very few main characters I can say that I appreciated more. Her sarcasm, dry humor, and outlook on life echoed my own thoughts, and I loved how she was so introspective. It is fascinating to listen to Jane work through her own thoughts and recognize her behaviors as masks for other feelings. I also thought that Oelke did a wonderful job with her depiction of Ja…

Favorite Podcasts 2.0

So, since we all need some good distractions and it can be hard to focus on reading right now, I want to make a couple list posts of my favorite podcasts, social media accounts, and YouTube channels throughout the week to give you some inspiration. I'm going to start with podcasts because they're my favorite medium to get information and entertainment, and even though they've taken off in a major way in the last few years, I feel like some people still haven't gotten into the medium yet.
I'll start there. Skip to the list if you're already a podcast pro. If you're unfamiliar with podcasts, they're not difficult to access. On an iPhone, the app is already installed on your phone! All you have to do is open the app and click search to type in the name of whatever show you're interested in. Once it pops up, make sure to click the subscribe button to have them show up in your library. If you don't use an iPhone, a lot of podcasts are available on Sp…

When We Wish On Stars- Part 1

Hi! I figured this post might need a little explaining before I get into it. I haven't posted my own creative writing on my blog in a year or so now because I've mostly focused on projects I'm hoping to get published. I also just always felt sorta awkward about sharing work of my own because everyone follows me for my writing on other people's books, but I've been thinking a lot about the blog in the last few months. The social isolation got me thinking even more. My blog and the community I've found from it has been one of the things that has kept me going through this, and I've been thinking about new ways to give back and offer some entertainment. I asked Instagram on my story what they'd think of a mini series of my writing on the blog, and the people who responded were so sweet and encouraging.
I think at this point I'm writing all of this to stall because after maybe a year and a half of very few people seeing my work it's pretty intimida…

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…

Guest Post Claire Bartlett: Unpacking Fairytales

This week I want to welcome author Claire Bartlett to the blog to talk about the fascinating history of fairy tales throughout culture and how they play a role in her new book, The Winter Duke (out March 3). I've been a huge fan of fairy tales my entire life (I even wrote a giant paper on the Brothers Grimm for a school project once), so it was so much fun to read about the history of a couple tales that Claire uncovered in her research. If you missed the last time Claire was on the blog to promote her debut, you can find that post here.


I always wanted to write a fairy tale retelling, and it only makes sense to me now that I'd combine fairy tale, history and fantasy to create The Winter Duke. Fairy tales have long been intertwined with history, and in fact it's now estimated that fairy tale tropes go back thousands of years, being retold and reworked to fit audiences. Many of them were somewhat cemented in the public mind after being written down by the Grimms, among oth…

The Lucky Ones Review

The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson
Overview: May and Zach are an unlikely couple. His mother is the lead defense attorney for the school shooter that took the life of May's twin brother and her other band classmates. What they do have in common is feeling less than seen. Zach is ostracized because of his mother's choices, and May feels like people only see her as a victim. Both want to reclaim their independent identities and move forward from the terrible tragedy, but without the support and space to grieve, everyone is left fumbling for a sense of closure and unable to deal with their unresolved feelings. Lawson dives into the aftermath of the aftermath of a school shooting and the echoes that are felt by the survivors and the community. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 May and Zach are great main characters, and I'm happy that we got to hear both of their voices. May has a lot of unresolved grief and feelings about that day that manifest in anger that has complicated her getting more…