Saturday, April 7, 2012

This is good-bye.

I won't delete this blog because of all the work I've put into it, but I will not update anymore.

Book blogging was fun while it lasted, but I've moved on.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cover vs. Cover [15]

Cover vs. Cover is a weekly feature, hosted here, where I compare different covers of the same book. For more information, visit the Weekly Features page.

This week's competing covers are:

           The US Cover                                    The UK Cover

I like the US better. Even though the lilies are cliche, they're pretty. I like the shade of purple that tones the UK cover better than the purple on the US, but overall the UK cover is too similar to Fallen's cover to be the better of the two. What's interesting is that the title text for both is almost exactly the same.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Review: The Fault in Our Stars

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Release Date: January 10, 2012
Publisher:  Dutton
Cover Designer: 
Rodrigo Corral
Age Audience: YA
Genre: Contemporary
Summary: Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs...for now.
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

The Fault in Our Stars lives up to the incredible hype.

It was lovely that the dedication was to Esther Earl, the Nerdfighter girl in whose memory the This Star Won't Go Out Foundation was founded. While little things like "my best friend was an author who didn't know I existed" can set you off, remember that this book is a work of fiction. Mr. Green has stated several times that Esther and Hazel are nothing alike.

Hazel has cancer, and Augustus had cancer, but this wasn't a "cancer book" as much as it was a book about teenagers with cancer. When it came to characters, the first thing I noticed was that the secondary characters weren't as developed as they were in the author's other novels. In Looking for Alaska, there was the whole gang. In Paper Towns, Q had Ben and Radar. But Hazel and Augustus created a little world that was only for the two of them. I rather liked Isaac, even thought the part he played in the story wasn't as important as I hoped.

There were times I wished that An Imperial Affliction, the book that Hazel and Augustus loved, was real so I could read it. The author, Peter Van Houten, never wrote anything else and lived isolated from the world in Amsterdam. Because they knew so little about him, Hazel and Augustus romanticized him as the great thinker of our time. But things changed. Eventually Hazel referred to Van Houten as "an author we used to like".

The Fault in Our Stars followed Mr. Green's style of being both funny and philosophical, sometimes simultaneously. Hazel and Augusts were humorous in their nerdy, adorable ways, but deeper things lied beneath. One of the recurring themes was death. How everything is a side effect of dying. How thousands die every day, but few are recognized, and why are they the ones to be recognized? How Anne Frank was built a museum and went down in history for being killed in the Holocaust, but the four Aron Franks were not.
Another theme was being a hero. Augustus was obsessed with the idea of a traditional hero. But we were shown that not all of us are going to win wars or save the world. We can be heroes in smaller ways, in the ways Augustus was a hero.

I was not expecting the turn of events. I knew someone was going to die, but I was wrong about who it was. For a while, I even thought the book would end mid-sentence in the style of An Imperial Affliction. As for how it really did end, let's just say that if you care about Hazel or Augustus at all, you're in for emotional pain.

Everything you've heard about this book is true. The Fault in Our Stars is everything from heartbreaking to haunting.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Review: Don't Let Me Go

Title: Don't Let Me Go
Author: J. H. Trumble
Release Date: December 27, 2011
Publisher:  Kensington Publishing
Cover Designer: 
Kristine Mills
Age Audience: YA
Genre: LGBT
Summary: Some people spend their whole lives looking for the right partner. Nate Schaper found his in high school. In the eight months since their cautious flirting became a real, heart-pounding, tell-the-parents relationship, Nate and Adam have been inseparable. Even when local kids take their homophobia to brutal levels, Nate is undaunted. He and Adam are rock solid. Two parts of a whole. Yin and yang.
But when Adam graduates and takes an off-Broadway job in New York—at Nate’s insistence—that certainty begins to flicker. Nate’s friends can’t keep his insecurities at bay, especially when he catches Skyped glimpses of Adam’s shirtless roommate. Nate starts a blog to vent his frustrations and becomes the center of a school controversy, drawing ire and support in equal amounts. But it’s the attention of a new boy who is looking for more than guidance that forces him to confront who and what he really wants.

Gay romance, music, theatre, and a Texas setting all in one book? What's not to love?

I'll confess, I had misgivings before reading because as a homosexual individual myself, I'm wary of LGBT books written by non-LGBT people. (How could they possibly understand, right?) But the author of Don't Let Me Go proved me wrong by showing just what it's like to be a gay teenager, and how it feels to have to fight to have what others take for granted.

One of the elements of this book I loved was the theatrical aspect. Adam had been acting since he was a child, and an off-Broadway job was the whole reason he went to New York in the first place. Even though I'm more of a techie, I smiled at all the mentions of rehearsals and cast parties.
Music played an important part in the story as well. It was something Nate and Adam fell in love over, and many important events took place at Mr. Ratcliffe's music store.

Another fun thing for me was that this book was set in the Houston area! It made it easier for me to see the descriptions in my head, because I knew what was being described. I nearly squealed the first time it mentioned Market Street.

I loved reading about how Nate and Adam's spark of romance grew into the love of a lifetime, then felt sad when it flashed forward to the state of their relationship with Adam in New York. They were very codependent, but I don't think that has to be a bad thing. However, they got more and more dysfunctional as the book went on, to the point where you wonder if they could ever go back to being what they once were.

I wasn't fond of the character Danial at first, but I grew to like his snarky, sarcastic personality, and felt sympathy when we learned the truth about his past.

This book wasn't afraid to show the ugly side of dealing with homophobia, for which I was thankful. I wish it weren't true, but people really are that ignorant, and their ignorance can turn into bigoted hate. It wouldn't have been realistic unless Nate and Adam had dealt with hate, even if not on a colossal scale.

Because of where the near end of the book was heading, I was worried that this would become one of those books with a good but sad ending that keeps me up for days. While the words "Ten Years Later" were a relief, this book will be on my mind for the weeks to come.

Bittersweet and honest, Don't Let Me Go is a terrific work of LGBT fiction. I'm looking forward to more from J. H. Trumble!