Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best of 2012: Fiction

Happy New Year's Eve! For book bloggers, the last day of the year is a time for reflection. As of today, I read a total of 35 books this year which included 11,171 pages. That is a good dozen less than last year, but I realize I read longer novels this year, therefore my total count would be smaller.  From that number I have chosen my top 12 to share with you.

The authors I read the most of this year were Stephenie Meyer and John Green. Each of their writing styles are very different from each other, but I think that is what drew me too them. So, if you are in need of direction I would point you there.

Thank you all for reading for another year. And I can't wait to see what challenges and events 2013 will bring!

By clicking on the title or author in blue, you may view and read my review of the book.

Top 12 Novels of 2012

12. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

11. My Sister's Keeper, Jodi Picoult

10.  Looking For Alaska, John Green

9.  If I Stay, Gayle Forman

8.  The Last Song, Nicholas Sparks

7.  Paper Towns, John Green

6.  The Host, Stephenie Meyer

5.  Twilight, Stephenie Meyer

4.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

3.  Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer

2. My Life Next Door, Huntley Fitzpatrick

1.  The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Best of 2012: Characters

Continuing my series of posts entitled The Best of 2012, Friday brings me to my favorite characters of the year. When I was first deciding what I wanted my lists to consist of, I hadn't thought of characters right away. I then realized that characters are really the most important - their point of view moves the story along, and sets the tone for the entire book. Each one is unique, crafted by the author to send a particular message.

My favorite characters are sometimes quite different then myself - for example, Bella Swan was so clumsy, yet so brave, I sometimes wondered what I would do in the situations that were tossed at her. Would I be that courageous? That strong? But in the time that I read The Twilight Saga, I got to be her - I got to be in love with a vampire, best friends with a werewolf, and a mixed up teenager all at the same time - and it was so darn cool.

This list is compiled of both major and minor characters and does not include re-reads or series where previous books where read in past years (ex. The Hunger Games).

Top 12 Characters of 2012

12  Jamie Sullivan, A Walk to Remember

11.  Esme Cullen, The Twilight Saga

10.  Ian O'Shea, The Host

9.  Elizabeth Proctor, The Crucible

8.  Hazel Lancaster, The Fault in Our Stars

7.  Elizabeth Bennett, Pride and Prejudice

6.  Jase Garrett, My Life Next Door

5.  Alice Cullen, The Twilight Saga

4.  Charlie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

3.  Sam, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

2.  Edward Cullen, The Twilight Saga

1.  Bella Swan, The Twilight Saga

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Best of 2012: Historical Fiction / Memoir

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas! Mine was wonderful, as I received new skis, some books (On Writing Stephen King, The Fault in Our Stars John Green) and got to spend time with family. As the year comes to a close, I have complied my lists to create The Best of 2012. I will be posting lists of characters, authors, historical fiction, memoirs, and finally, the best of the best in fiction.

Also, be sure to check out my Remembering 2012 links in the sidebar. This column includes posts that documented important events in personal reading and culture.

Earlier this year I announced that I would be challenging myself to read 15 historical fiction books through Historical Tapestry's Historical Fiction Reading challenge. As you can see from reading the list below, I did not fulfill the expectations I had set for myself. I must say through, that the five books I did read were very good, and educational. You may read my review of each book by simply clicking on the title in purple.

Top Historical Fiction of 2012

5.  The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks

4.  The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, David Boyne

3.  The Crucible, Arthur Miller

 2.  Sarah's Key, Tatiana de Rosnay

1.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows

In this post I have also decided to include the memoirs I read this year. All three I was required to read for school, but all were very inspirational.

Top Memoirs of 2012

3.  A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah

2.  The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank

1.  When Broken Glass Floats, Chanrithy Him

Monday, December 24, 2012

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas!

"Somebody waits for you, kiss her once for me . Have a holly, jolly Christmas, and in case you didn't hear, oh, by golly, have a holly jolly Christmas this year!"

I just wanted to stop in real quick to wish everyone and their families a very Merry Christmas. May everyone be safe, happy and healthy, and I'll be back in a few days to start my week of "The Best Of 2012" posting. I am so excited to announce my choices! In the meantime, feel free to check out the Remembering 2012 list in the sidebar.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's the Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas; soon the bells will start, and the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing - right within your heart."

Over the weekend, I spent quite a bit of time in the car on the way to my brother's ice hockey games. The back roads we take to the rink are anything but flat, and the houses along them are not grand and and gated, but rustic and humble. Some were adorned in colored lights, others in white. Some went for the traditional look, with columns wrapped in garland, and red satin bows. And then there were others, with no lights at all - maybe their timer just hadn't come on yet.
Many houses had lights on inside, and beyond those shaded windows, I'd like to think there were families eating dinner, passing around the mashed potatoes and saying a little prayer. I know that is not always the truth - that in some homes there is simply no one to eat with, or even food to have. In my fantasies, everyone has a family as perfect as mine - a family that celebrates Christmas with joy and laughter, and that is grateful for every moment together. It makes me sad to think that some will spend this Christmas alone, without a coat, or without a heart.
In many windows, you could get a glance at a tree, tall and embellished. And maybe there was a Christmas CD in the stereo, filling the house with cheer. Maybe shortbread cookies were coming out of the oven, or a Christmas special was on TV. While leaning my head against the car window, and watching the scenery flick by, I could not be sure of any of these things, but these imaginings passed the time and kept my mind off of other things...
Like the fact that I had to go back to school the next day - back to the tests, the homework, the stress - things that are just so unChristmasey! But then I realized that every other teenager was probably feeling the same way. We would just have to tough it out together.
In the end, it really is "Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas" (Snow, you are welcome to come along any day now!)  and although I know the truth about what this holiday might be like for others, I am grateful everyday to come home to a house smelling if homemade treats and a family that is as perfect as can be. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Let It Snow

Let It Snow: Three Holiday Stories
John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle
352 pages

"Silly girl, it's not what the universe gives us that matters. It's what we give the universe."

Its Christmas Eve, and three teenagers are stuck in the biggest snow storm to hit North Carolina in years.When Jubilee's train to Florida halts due to a ginormous snow drift in the middle of the tracks, she finds herself totally confused in a house where Jewish people celebrate Christmas. Then there is Angie, who is need of some of the Waffle House's greasy and sloppy hash browns, and drags the guys away from James Bond to come along. And Addie must still navigate her way through town to her early morning shift at Starbucks - because no matter what the circumstance, people will always need their coffee. Their small town of Gracetown as been turned into a winter wonderland of perilous mishaps and a little Christmas magic.

Let It Snow is the perfect holiday read - a perfect blend of humor, fun, and great writing. Green, the author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, Johnson, and Myracle, three of today's best Young Adult authors, each a have a writing style very unique, yet they flow together perfectly.

I loved how these stories were individual, yet interconnected, as you would be reading one story, and then a character from the previous one would show up and you laugh and say, "Hey! Wait! Is that the guy...I remember him!"

This story was so feel good, the characters so relate able - one will find themselves wishing for a blizzard to snow them in for a day or two as well!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Where She Went

Where She Went
Gayle Forman
260 pages

"Her eyes were closed, and her brow was a little furrowed. She was so still, it seemed like she'd taken a brief vacation from her body...I somehow knew then she was listening to music then, was grabbing the notes from the silence...I stood there, riveted by her, until she seemed to wake up and start playing with this intense concentration." 

Four years after the accident, Mia and Adam have gone separate ways.  Mia tries to put the pieces of her life back together as she studies at Julliard, while Adam struggles to find comfort in the whirlwind of his rockstar-celebrity life. By a stroke of chance, the two are brought together for one night, and although their hours are short, together Mia and Adam explore the city, and who they have become.

Gayle Forman's sequel to the New York Times Bestseller If I Stay, is written through Adam's voice, in that raw prose which defines her novels. I enjoyed this change in point of view as it gives the readers details about Adam that were not told in the previous story.

With a setting of New York City, the reader will feel jostled and shuffled about as if on the busy streets with Mia and Adam. Flashbacks are also very common, as they were in If I Stay. Each piece of the past is unique and effective - enlightening the reader in a way to help them understand the story better.

Each chapter is headed with fictional lyrics from Adam's songs and I'd like to share my favorite:
You crossed the water, left me ashore
It killed me enough, but you wanted more
You blew up the bridge, a mad terrorist
Waved from your side, threw me a kiss
I started to follow be realized to late
There was nothing but air beneath my feet

Where She Went is a deeply moving story about the power of true love, and the pieces that make our lives full and whole.

Friday, November 30, 2012

What My English Teacher Said

As I think I stated in a previous post, my English class had been reading the famous play The Crucible by Arthur Miller. The Crucible was written in 1953, in the midst of The Cold War, but with a setting during the Salem Witch Trials which took place in the 1690s. I finished the story a few weeks ago, but we completed watching the film just yesterday. Right after the final scene, when John Proctor, Rebecca Nurse, and Martha Corey are hung, my teacher stopped the film for a minute or two, at the very final image: a close-up of the rope, against a beautiful bluebird sky.

At this point, the whole class was trying to stifle their tears, but she just turned to us and said, "Write." She then continued to say, "Write about the rope. What's the point? Channel your emotions, and write."

She gave us about ten minutes or so before we shared them out loud, but I've taken the time to develop my piece a bit more here:

The Rope

A rope is something strong and rough, unbreakable my mortal hands. A rope is braided and twisted, each single twine a small part of the whole. Salem, MA, a town created from sweat and empty space, soon became strong like the rope; with their belief in God to hold on to, and the drive of survival burning in their hearts and backs, with each lift of a log in building a home.

But the people who lived in Salem were braided, so tightly wound in their own bitter greed and envy. Their twisted souls ached with pride and vanity. Their twisted paranoia and sick need for hearsay clouded their vision. It muddled the people's choices enough to not see the good in the town's only true heroes - the ones who saw the corruption, but were dealt the wrong fate.

In the end the town and its people together create the rope; the device used to kill instead of strengthen. The rope is a symbol of fortitude, pride, and of life. And maybe most importantly, what we all need to think upon.

Just the one word she spoke, "write", can lead your emotion to come tumbling out of your mind in clusters and fragments, and bridge across your pencil to become whole sentences and imagery on the page. No matter who says it, "write" is a command I have no problem obliging to, even if it means leaving my heart on the page as well.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows
274 pages

It is January 1946, and World War II has left its scars across the world. Writer Juliet Ashton, is looking for her next book subject when she receives a letter from a man named Dausey, who lives on the island of Guernsey off the coast of England. Soon, the two become friendly correspondents, and within the course of their letters, Juliet learns about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. This unusual and charming book club was created at the spur-of-the-moment during the German occupation and is made up of everyone from farmers, to wood carvers, and amateur cooks, but all have an excellent taste in books. Captivated by their stories, Juliet sets sail for the island, and what she finds there will change her forever.

Schaffer and Barrow's  unique and uplifting novel is written entirely in letters. Some to Juliet, some from Juliet, but all give an original perspective on the story.

Although a bit slow moving to begin, this novel was undoubtedly satisfying. All of the characters both in Guernsey and back home in England were clever and witty, but overall real. Characters such as Elizabeth and Amelia, were both deeply human in their thoughts and ideals. My favorite was Isola Pribby, a young women who is very frivolous and sometimes quite absurd.

Honestly, I had never heard of Guernsey before, but after reading this, the island seems to have found itself on my list of places to travel. Although written in that letter-style, Schaffer and Barrow still found a way to convey description and imagery.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is truly one of the most uplifting and most genuine novels I have read in a long time, and should find its way to your shelf.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

"It's the most wonderful time of the year, with the kids jingle belling, and everyone telling you "Be of good cheer". It's the most wonderful time of the year, it's the hap-happiest season of all!"

I have always said that my favorite time of the year is from Thanksgiving to New Year's - and I might even go as far as to extend it to the middle of January when my birthday falls.

I love Christmas, but when stores like Kohl's and AC Moore start playing holiday songs even before Halloween, something is terribly wrong. Why are the season's being so rushed? Christmas songs in October? Halloween decor on Labor Day? Back to School promotions on the Fourth of July? Swim suit sales in March? It really all leads back to making money; franchises that want to get you into their stores for "Doorbusters". (where did that name come from anyway - are they really that great that they're going to blow up the entrance? Somehow I find that very unlikely.)

In my opinion, once Thanksgiving is over, you're allowed to plug in the Christmas lights, and maybe even bring the wreaths down from the attic. Because if you've been listening to "The Christmas Song" and "Frosty the Snowman" since October, then you're going to be quite tired of them by December. Doing so loses the Christmas spirit and the fun that each new holiday brings.

There is this never-ending joy that arises from this season, derived from the jolly tunes, the smells of baking, the crunch of snow under your boots, and the cackling of the fireplace. There is something nostalgic and humbling from seeing the toy commercials on TV, although by the second week you can recite some of them by heart.

There is the basket of Christmas cards in the hall, and the brown packages delivered and then hidden under beds and in the backs of closets. There is the countdown until winter break in the back of every child's mind, and the feel-good holiday movies on ABC Family and the Hallmark Channel.

And then there are the holiday reads, the ones you curl up on a Sunday afternoon with, the ones that cannot be read without a cup of hot-cocoa in hand.

Here's what's on my Holday To-Read List:

1. Let It Snow, John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle
2. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
3. Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe, Jenny Colgan
4. Clara Claus, Alexandra Lanc

We still have over a month to go until the big day, so no worries - there won't be any countdowns on the right side of this blog, or posts to announce each of the "Twelve Days of Christmas" because that is not really what it's all about. The holiday season is about experiencing all of the joyous things stated above, and really soaking it all in because it really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Experiencing Breaking Dawn Part 2

After much long anticipation, I have finally seen Breaking Dawn Part 2, the final movie in The Twilight Saga franchise. I had never seen a Twilight movie in the theaters before, as I just read the series by Stephenie Meyer last spring, so I was not sure what to expect.

The movie was first shown in select theaters on Thursday at 10pm and at midnight, but it started showing everywhere yesterday, November 16th.

Before leaving, some preparation was needed. I felt the need to be a little festive, and painted my nails red and black, to match the covers of the books. I also had to find my ticket, which I had pre-ordered on October 1st.

I arrived at the theater an hour and a half early, as I've heard the lines to get a good seat could be crazy, as no one wants to end up in the front row with their necks inclined.  AMC had an organized system going, so that was helpful and suprisingly, we were to be the first in the "yellow" line.

After standing around, and watching the line fill up with people behind us, we were finally allowed to race in for seats at 6:30. We snagged seats in the dead center, the perfect view. That next half hour felt like forever, as we tried not to finish all of the popcorn before the movie had even started. To be honest, I was just as excited for the previews as I was for the movie, as I was hoping there would be a new trailer for Stephenie Meyer's The Host. They did, and you can watch it for yourself here, the movie comes to theaters on March 29th, 2013. Along with the sci-fi romance The Host, a trailer was shown for Nicholas Sparks' Safe Haven, and a teaser for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - which produced several squeals from the audience.
Breaking Dawn Part 2 opened with a long introduction giving credit to the lead actor/actresses in the movie accompanied with a piano ballad - something unique only to this movie.  The movie began right where Part One left off, with Bella opening her new blood red eyes for the first time. I really enjoyed the several camera angles that were taken from Bella's point of view, zooming to the definite details of her new form of sight (each thread in the carpet, the rays of sunlight, etc.).

To my pleasure, the screenwriter did not stray to too far from the book, except for the end - where I think every person in the audience suffered a minor heart attack. I don't want to reveal any spoilers for those who have not the movie yet, but I will offer a warning, be prepared. I loved the parts featuring Renesemee at all of her various fast-paced ages, especially when she plays the piano with Edward - so sweet! My favorite part of the movie is the very, very end where the director and writer stayed very true to the story. Bella has learned to remove her shield, allowing Edward to finally read her mind, and she shows him every important memory she has of him. It was the perfect way to recap the entire series.

The closing credits were also done differently, as an image was flashed of every character from all of the movies and the actor/actress was named. Overall, the movie was fantastic, and I felt it did total justice to the book - the perfect doses of humor, action, and romance.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Movie vs. The Book: Wallflower

Actually, the title of the book/movie is The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but if I had put the whole thing in the title, it would have been a little much.

This movie I had been long anticipating, and it fulfilled all of my expectations. The reason I read the book by Stephen Chbosky was because I saw the movie trailer. (Also, because of Emma Watson...) I can't believe it was already two weekends ago that I went to see this with four other friends.

The main cast is as follows:
Charlie - Logan Lerman
Patrick - Ezra Miller
Sam - Emma Watson
Bill (English Teacher) - Paul Rudd
Mary Elizabeth - Mae Whitman
Charlie's Mom - Kate Walsh
Doctor - Joan Cusack

Very few changes were made to the storyline, which made me very happy. Charlie is still the clueless and lost Freshman he was in the novel, Patrick also known as Nothing, and Sam is still sweet and kind. In the book, Charlie does not disclose last names to the person he is writing to, but in the movie, his English teacher is given the name Mr. Anderson.

I think my favorite part of the movie is when Charlie is given a suit for Christmas from Patrick who says: "All of the best writers in history always wore great suits." Although, this is a super close second.

Many parts of this movie were absolutely hysterical, just like the book, and I swear, I thought my friend was going to fall out of her seat at one point from laughing so hard! I think you have to be a teenager to love this movie...because the events that take place, the characters, the humor, are all things that we see or hear about everyday - it makes you laugh because you know it's true in that weird "Oh my gosh!" kind of way.

This is a must see movie for lovers of the book and even those who haven't read it, as it tackles issues of today's kids, and provokes questions we all need answers to. For example, here's my favorite:

Sam: "Why do I, and everyone I love, pick people who treat us like we're nothing?"
Charlie: "We accept the love we think we deserve."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

If I Stay

If I Stay
Gayle Forman
234 pages

As a senior in high school, Mia has a bright future at Julliard ahead of her, but when a single second alters that future indefinitely, she faces the biggest decision she has ever had to make. Caught somewhere between life and death, Mia spends twenty-four hours watching, reminiscing, and feeling.

As I have said before, the best kinds of books are those that make you feel something. Whether that is laughter, joy, sadness or love, if the reader can feel those emotions pouring off the page in colors of analogy and imagery, then the author has done their job.

If I Stay is that kind of story.

Mia's story is told very simply, changing between memories and the present time - almost as if her life is flashing before her eyes. This story is told with very little detail and description, but maybe that's what makes this novel stand out compared to others I have read recently. I have heard Forman's style of writing described as raw prose, which seems to be a good definition.

For those of you who feel too old to read this book, at least do me the favor of reading the following -
I know it will be awful for Kim when I die, but I also think about what she said, about not being scared, about jail being easy compared to losing me. And that's how I know Kim will be okay. Losing me will hurt; it will be the kind of pain that won't feel real at first, and when it does, it will take your breath away...But she'll deal. She'll move on....And I bet she'll be a stronger person because of what she's lost today. I have a feeling once you live through something like this, you become a little bit invincible.

Emotions will be on high alert as you read Mia's compelling story that tackles a decision no one should ever have to make. The choice between leaving and staying, and the delicate subject of what we stay for.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Song of the Week: Begin Again

I've decided to start a new series of posts entitled "Song of Week", in hopes of sharing some of my favorites with you. To write a good song, you have to be a good writer, so the songs I choose are ones that I feel spark inspiration, or tell a story.

For the first post, I've chosen "Begin Again" by Taylor Swift. This song was recently released on her new album RED.
Took a deep breath in the mirror
He didn't like it when I wore high heels
But I do

Turned the lock and put my headphones on
He always said he didn't get this song
But I do, I do

Walked in expecting you'd be late
But you got here early and you stand and wave
I walk to you
You pull my chair out and help me in
And you don't know how nice that is
But I do

And you throw your head back laughing like a little kid
I think it's strange that you think I'm funny cause he never did
I've been spending the last 8 months
Thinking all love ever does is break and burn and end
But on a Wednesday in a cafe, I watched it begin again

He said he never met one girl
Who had as many James Taylor records as you
But I do
We tell stories and you don't know why
I'm coming off a little shy
But I do

But you throw your head back laughing like a little kid
I think it's strange that you think I'm funny cause he never did
I've been spending the last 8 months
Thinking all love ever does is break and burn and end
But on a Wednesday in a cafe, I watched it begin again

And we walked down the block to my car and I almost brought him up
But you start to talk about the movies that your family watches
Every single Christmas and I won't talk about that
And for the first time, what's past is past

Cause you throw your head back laughing like a little kid
I think it's strange that you think I'm funny cause he never did
I've been spending the last 8 months
Thinking all love ever does is break and burn and end
But on a Wednesday in a cafe, I watched it begin again

But on a Wednesday in a cafe, I watched it begin again

I have bolded the section that is my favorite, as it really describes just how difficult love can be I guess, although I've had no experience with it anyway. But that's the thing about certain songs, or books for that matter, they make you feel things you might have never before. Whether that is compassion, envy, or even true love. That's why I love this song by Taylor Swift, she makes you feel something in away that has you singing it over and over in your head all day.
To watch Taylor sing "Begin Again at the CMAs click here.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My Life Next Door

My Life Next Door
Huntley Fitzpatrick
395 pages

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

Samantha Reed is the daughter of the Connecticut State Senator but has always questioned her life at home. Her mother is never around, her father left before she was born, and Tracy is away with friends for the summer. On the other side of the fence live the Garretts. A family with eight kids, and two parents who seem to be the happiest around. Samantha has never talked to any of them, until one night when Jase climbs up the trellis to her bedroom window, and things begin to change for the better, and the worse.

I finished My Life Next Door in just two days. It is the perfect comfort read; the perfect story if you need to forget about yor own problems for a little while (Hurricane Sandy) and read about someone else's.

Fitzpatrick created characters that were laugh-out-loud funny, interesting, and genuinely real. Samantha is a girl any teenager could relate to; Jase the ideal neighbor and friend; and then there's George, the little brother who always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This story of family, second chances, and first love will surely have you captivated.

My Life Next Dooor was written for the teenage audience, the kind who like that sweet contained romance, with a hint of drama and real literary spark. This debut novel was written in that kind of page-turning fashion that leaves you saying "Just one more chapter..." and before you know it, you are up way, way too late.

I usually don't like to jump to conclusions, but this might have just made the top spot on my Best of 2012: Fiction list.

No Need to Worry... I Survived

With Hurricane Sandy now fully behind us, (or so we hope) I can officially say I've survived to write another post. My town was not quite as lucky. Trees are down everywhere, and over 75% is still without power (that includes me in case you were wondering). In that case, I'm logged into the library's Wi-Fi along with lots of other people trying to charge stuff, check email, and get up to date with what has been going on.

On Monday, we lost power at about 5pm, right in the middle of a three-hour-long Monopoly game that I ended up winning, and I didn't even own Park Place!

Thank goodness I went to the library on Saturday where I checked out several good books including My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick which I finished in just to days by flashlight. (Review to be coming shortly). I also finished reading the play by Arthur Miller entitled The Crucible which although it was very good, only made me even more depressed.

Unfortunately, it seems I might be in the dark until at least the weekend, maybe even early next week. We have a generator, but it's not really that useful if you can't get any gas for it. Lines for gas are over 50 cars long, and the supermarkets' shelves are becoming quite bare. This is all freakishly reminding me of Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It, and The Dead and the Gone (good books, I suggest you read them. At a later time of course.) It is definitely much, much, much worse that when Hurricane Irene hit last year.

In the mean time, I will start reading The Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows, complete my notes on The Crucible, and maybe even log back in here to write a The Movie vs. The Book review  for The Perks of Being a Wallflower which I saw with some friends last weekend. So, until I'm back again, I hope everyone that was in Sandy's path of fury gets on their feet soon, and those which this does not apply to, I hope you are reading something good!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Last Song

The Last Song
Nicholas Sparks
390 pages

"Life, he realized, was much like a song. In the beginning there is mystery, in the end there is confirmation, but it's in the middle where all the emotion resides to make the whole thing worthwhile." page 376

Veronica "Ronnie" Miller has not spoken to her dad in three years, since her parents' divorce. She was always just too angry to speak with him whenever he called, or even when he came to visit them in New York City. Now, three years later, Ronnie is being forced to spend the summer with him in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Ronnie expects this summer to be a painful one; one full of bad memories and forced conversations. Instead, she finds things she hadn't expected: second chances, and Will Blakelee.

The Last Song is written mostly from Ronnie's point of view, but occasionally, a chapter will be written with regards to Will or her father. This gives the reader a more vivid idea as to the broader scope of the story.

So far, this has been my favorite of Sparks' novels. This is the first novel by him where I have felt entirely connected to the main character, and that I felt had the most sense of plot. Although this book still has a sad ending, I thought it was more subtle than The Notebook and A Walk to Remember,  causing no tears to flow.

Overall, this was a good read; captivating, sensitive, and sweet. This would be a great summer read, or for someone who is in need of cloudless skies and salty ocean air!

This book was adapted into a film in 2010.To watch the trailer for the movie, starring Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth (from The Hunger Games), click here.

On a side note, Off The Shelf now has 4,000 views! Thanks to all of the dedicated readers, the lookers, the skimmers, the glancers, and especially those who have typed "Laurie Halse Anderson" into Google Images causing my blog to pop up! Thanks to all of you Americans, Russians, Germans, and Austrians! I hope you have found something worth your while!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Thoughts, Rambles and Looking Ahead

The leaf at the right is one of many, many, that I found scattered across the lawn this morning. I could have sworn the piles had multiplied in just one evening. And as I look out the window now, the leaves are continuing to fall, but never straight down, always zig-zagging back and forth through the air.

The sun didn't really decide to show itself today, making the sky a never-ending plane of different shades of gray. No signs of rain though, no clouds, just vast color. I think the trees are making up for it though. My backyard alone has enough yellow, orange, green, red, and brown to to create half the rainbow. The thermometer currently reads 49, and that is the kind of thing that hits you really hard - Fall is now in full swing, and time is really flying by. For goodness sake, it's October 12th already!

The following poem seems to fit my thoughts at the moment. (I suggest you read it a few times, then reflect)

Nature's first green is gold, / Her hardest hue to hold. / Her early leaf's a flower; / But only so an hour. / Then leaf subsides to leaf. / So Eden sank to grief, / So dawn goes down to day. / Nothing gold can stay.  -Robert Frost

On a different note, you will notice I have added The Crucible by Arthur Miller to my "Currently Reading" section in the sidebar. Supposedly, this is one of the greatest American plays of all time, so I figured it must be worth a look. I find it interesting so far, and plan on reading some more of it after I've finished here.

Some upcoming posts will include a review on The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks, and post about the themes of The Crucible. You might even find a The Movie vs. The Book review in the near future.

Enjoy the weekend!

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Movie vs. The Book: A Walk to Remember

On Saturday night, I sat down and watched the movie adaption of Nicholas Sparks' novel, 
A Walk to Remember. The movie was released in 2002, and is rated PG.

As the novel was fairly short, several scenes were added to the movie to give the story more dimension. For example, the movie opens up with Landon and his friends out after their curfew, therefore letting the viewers know that he is not a well-behaved kid. As the movie progresses, you see his change in character more profoundly than in the book.

An example of another added scene would be one where Landon names a star after Jamie. This scene shows the viewer that he really cares for Jamie, and that this is not just some short-lived high school relationship. No matter how "cheesy" that might sound, it was a great addition to the story. To watch this scene from the movie click here.

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie, maybe even more so than the book. (which is usually quite rare) A Walk to Remember is definitely a movie to watch with your friends, and a story you certainly won't want to forget.

Be sure to check out my review of the book!

Friday, October 5, 2012

I've Got My Ticket!

I have my ticket!
Advance tickets for the movie Breaking Dawn Part - 2 went on sale this past Monday at midnight. Although the movie is not in theaters until November 16th, according to this article, Monday's ticket sales brought in an estimated $1.7 million.
The ending of the upcoming movie has been rumoured to have a different, newly thought-out one as compared to the book. I'm not sure how I feel about that yet, I guess I will just have to wait and see. Only 41 more days!
In the meantime, be sure to read my reviews of all of the books in The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Notebook

The Notebook
Nicholas Sparks
214 pages

It is 1946, World War II has ended, and Noah Calhoun has come home to New Bern, North Carolina. After being deployed overseas to Europe, his life has returned to normal. He works from dawn till dusk, only stopping to read poetry. Everything is normal, until Allie Nelson shows up in his driveway. Like a drive back into the past, Noah is soon caught up in feelings and questions he had felt and thought once before. And the most important question is, What is true love?

On a normal trip to the library, I would not have checked out The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. But at a recent get together with friends, I got the whole "You've never seen The Notebook? Oh my gosh, that is like the best movie ever! And Ryan Gosling's in it!"

Before they could persuade me into watching it right then and there, I stated my philosophy of "book before movie".  And so, I went to the library last week to check it out.

Honestly, I don't really understand what all of the hype is about Sparks' books. Yes, they are short, very chick-lit, and well told, but they are all so tragic. Both A Walk to Remember and The Notebook had me tearing up. What happened to the prince and princess living happily ever after?

For me, this book was like a puzzle with a few missing pieces. I had questions that were never really answered, and things were mentioned, but never were they elaborated. I found myself a bit bored at times, and a 214 page book can't really afford that.

On a more positive note, the story itself touched my heart, in a way no one who reads this book can deny. The reader will feel the pain Noah and Allie feel, that is a fact, it is just a matter of whether you've felt you've been told the whole story.

To watch the trailer of the movie my friends think is "the best ever" click here.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Walk to Remember

A Walk to Remember
Nicholas Sparks
240 pages

In 1958, Landon Carter was in with the popular crowd, although he didn't know why. He  didn't play football, he was not the Senior class President. Landon didn't question his status though, he just lived it. Jamie Sullivan was the daughter of  Beaufort's Baptist minister, and she always carried a bible with her school books. She was shy and kept to herself, and the last person Landon thought he would fall in love with.

A Walk to Remember  is written through Landon's unique teenage voice. Landon changes and grows as a character the more the story evolves, and I can honestly say, I found myself wishing I was Jamie over and over. Over and over.

My favorite quote from the book is the following:
Love is always patient and kind. It is never jealous. Love is never boastful or conceited. It is never rude or selfish. It does not take offense and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people's sins, but delights in the truth. It is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.

This love story is sweet and charming, nothing overly dramatic or sensual. I even found myself fighting tears during the last chapter. If a book can make you laugh out loud, or watery-eyed, then you know the author did their job. They wrote you a story you are bound to never forget, as in the moment you turned that last page you know you have not only read the book, but experienced it. And that is the greatest feeling ever.

To watch the trailer of the movie version click here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How to Write the Best English Notes Ever

Before writing, find at least five different colors to use. They can be pens, like shown at the left, or colored pencils work fine too. Be sure to designate them a role as well. (For example, important dates may always be written in orange.)

The first thing you should do is give your notes a date. This will help you to go back and find them later. Second, give them a title. Make it a simple one, just stating exactly what the notes are about. Examples: The Civil Rights Movement, Pride and Prejudice - Chapter 1.

Next, think of a few categories that will help you to organize your notes. In the example shown in these pictures, I am researching Kurt Vonnegut, so some of my categories are Education, World War II, and Career. Make sure these titles are written larger, or are in some way more defined then the bullets beneath them. (Mine are written in pen and then highlighted.)

Making note of quotes that relate to plot, or reveal something about a character or theme, is very important to having effective English notes. Write them in the middle of the page, or in a different color. Always make sure that you have written down who said the quote as well. In the picture at the left, the quote, "We could have saved the world, but we were just too damned lazy." from "A Man Without a Country", is written clearly, and is centered on the page.

When taking notes on a novel, be sure to always refer to page numbers. This will be helpful later when you need to refer back to a specific quote, important event, or character description.

I find that categorized bullet-points arethe most effective way to take notes. This form of note-taking will be helpful when reading, researching, or listening to lectures. Always be sure to write down just the most important information, or things you are mostly likely to forget. It is so unessasary to have ten pages of notes that describe each and every outfit the character wore in the story, or that list every, single, poem ever written by Robert Frost.

Remember, that there are many styles of note-taking, and that you should pick the one that works best for you!

In case you were interested in Kurt Vonnegut, the author of Slaughterhouse-Five and Harrison Bergeron, this was the website I used to take the notes featured in this post.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Friday, Saturday, Sunday

The past few days have been very busy, so unfortunately, I was unable to post on Friday and Saturday. In this post, I have several pictures to make up for the lost time.
12:29pm - Happy Fall!
3:45pm - With such nice weather today, I decided to sit outside and draw.  

5:00pm - Haven't had time to really sit down and read this yet, maybe after I have finished posting this.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thursday, September 20th

Just as a reminder, this week I am posting in pictures as part of my "This Week in Pictures" series.

8:50pm - A good book, cookies, and milk make a good combination

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday, September 19th

7:35pm - Having a little fun with my flashcards!
8:26pm - This is my favorite quote from A Walk to Remember, I know it is a little blurry, but I hope you can still read the powerful message it resonates.
(Review to come for this book shortly)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tuesday, September 18th

5:57pm - This picture does not do any sort of justice to the amount of rain
that is coming down right now.
7:28pm - Photographed above is my favorite bookmark, purchased in
The Birdwatcher's General Store in Cape Cod, MA, and chapter seven of
A Walk to Remember.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday, September 17th

As stated in yesterday's post, I am trying something different this week, by posting my days in pictures with only short captions. Enjoy!

5:39am -  Oh Monday morning, how I love you!
4:46pm - Truth be told, this is the first time I am reading Martin Luther King Jr.'s most famous speech, I Have a Dream. For homework I was supposed to analyze the speech, making notes and writing down important quotes. This one is my favorite: "With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood."
7:12pm - The library. Isn't it a lovely sight! I was in need of some new reading material, and I had some others overdue...oops!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

This Week in Pictures

For the next seven days, I will be documenting my reading, scenery, and interests in pictures. I plan to write a blurb or two just for photo clarification, but this should be fun as well as a challenge.

I spent the day today on the lake, not really reading, but just relaxing and trying to keep warm. The wind had me bundled in a sweatshirt, yet the sky was cloudless and the sun strong. I guess the weather couldn't make up her mind this afternoon.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Everyone Needs a Prince Charming...

Between the Lines
Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer
358 pages

More specifically, Delilah needs a Prince Charming.

After falling in love with a children's fairy tale she found in her high school library, strange things start to happen. For instance, the main character (the one she secretly has a crush on) starts to talk to her. At first, Delilah thinks she's going crazy, but soon she finds herself on a mission to help the prince escape from his fairy tale, and into the real world.

Between the Lines is told in a unique way: switching from Delilah's point of view, to Oliver; the prince, and passages from the fairy tale itself. These passages are complete with beautiful drawings, like any classic fairy tale.

Delilah is a fully developed character, complete with all of the unfortunate high school experiences. For instance, during swim practice, she gives the head cheerleader a black eye, and falls in and out of friendships. The setting of this novel is not as precise as I would prefer, description is lacking.

Jodi Picoult, the author of My Sister's Keeper, and Nineteen Minutes wrote this novel with her daughter. As said in the Author's Note, "I would say one line, then Sammy would jump in with the next.". In some books with more than one author, the reader can tell the difference between one and the other's writing style. There is no need to worry with Between the Lines, as this story is written cohesively.

This book is really targeted for the young adult audience, but for a teenager, I think this book would be a bit lacking. It is told beautifully, but a younger-aged audience would appreciate it more.

All cover photos on Off The Shelf are credit to Google Images.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Looking for Alaska

Cover Credit: Google Images
Looking for Alaska
John Green
221 pages

Miles Halter is the average teenage kid, except for the fact that he has an obsession with famous last words. In the hopes for some adventure, he enrolls at the Culver Creek Boarding School in Alabama. But on top of getting some ridiculous adventure, Miles gets Alaska Young, a sexy, daring, and self-destructive kind of girl. Together, they search for the answer to the question: How do we get out of the labyrinth of suffering?

Told in first person, John Green creates Miles to tell the honest to God truth. Miles speaks to you in a way so righteous, so raw, straight down to the explicit language he uses. Looking for Alaska follows the average teenage plot: you crush on a girl, you get in a little trouble, and then something doesn't go as planned.

The theme most pronounced throughout the novel is the question above.  How do we make our way through the labyrinth of life, without encountering all of that suffering? All those wrong turns? The dead ends? Miles tackles the true problem though, how do we continue with life, after our suffering knocks us down? What is worth standing back up for?

I know those are a lot of questions for one young adult book to answer, but isn't that why we read? I know I read to find answers. Answers that connect the fictious worlds I love to the one I wake up to everyday. Answers that describe who we are as people, and what our purpose is.

John Green seems to tackle the most difficult questions in each of his novels, and somehow creates answers that spark further throught. Looking for Alaska will have you laughing, tearing up and pondering Miles in his quest for life's meaning.

Looking for Alaska is a Michael L. Printz Award Winner.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Writing Harry and Ginny's Wedding Part II

Yesterday, I posted the first half of a story written during a discussion I started on Goodreads. It is a fan's take on what happened after the book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K Rowling.

By clicking here, you can read the rest of the story. This material is the compiled work of several Goodreads members, and therefore what they contributed is their property. I have listed their usernames on the bottom of the document to give credit where credit is due. Please respect that. Thank you.

To read the previous part of the story, click here

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Writing Harry and Ginny's Wedding Scene

The following was a discussion I started on Goodreads, a website that allows readers to talk, share and write about what they are reading or have read.

I figured as Harry and Ginny's wedding scene never made it into the book or the movie of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K Rowling, it would be fun to write it as a group:

The Weasley's kitchen table was covered in white envelopes, each with a neatly folded piece of parchment inside. Three quills floated above them, addressing them without a hand. Harry leaned over the table and studied some that had already been addressed. Written in perfect script, were names like: Professor Neville Longbottom, Mr. and Mrs. George and Angelina Weasley, Ms. Luna Lovegood, and Professor Horace Slughorn.

Behind him, Harry heard the creaking of the stairs. Ron appeared beside him.

“What are you doing down here?” said Harry.

“Mum sent me down here to keep you occupied. You are not allowed upstairs.” Ron replied.

“Why not?”

“Ginny’s trying on her dress robes. There’s some stupid rule about the groom not seeing them till the day of.” said Ron.“Ouch, that’s going to be awkward.” He pointed a finger to an envelope addressed to Ms. Cho Chang.

“I know, but Ginny insisted on inviting everyone we were even remotely friendly with at school. And, you were a little more than friendly with this one.” Harry pointed to an envelope one of the quills was writing out now: Ms. Lavender Brown.

“Aw, Harry come on, why did you have to invite her to the wedding? It’s going to be torture!” cried Ron.

Ron looked different than when they were at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He still wore his fiery red hair long, but red hair now formed itself into a beard on his chin. Ron was still taller than Harry, but he was more muscular now too. He was no longer the lanky boy who looked like his legs were too long for his body.

“So, when you going to ask her?” Harry asked.

“Who do you mean?”

“Hermione, of course.”

“Aw, I don’t know. You think she wants me too?”

“Ron! You’ve been dating for forever! Plus, I think she’s wanted you to ask her to marry you since she sent those birds to attack you in our sixth year.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
Ginny came down the wooden stairs, clad in a gray shirt, maroon sweatshirt, and jeans. She was trying for nostalgia; she had worn a similar outfit at the Burrow during the school years.
Harry smiled.

"We finished picking out my robes," Ginny sighed with a smile. "Mum just couldn't make up her mind and she certainly wouldn't let me," she laughed. She came to the table where Ron and Harry stood.

"I see these quills are busy," she joked. "How many more invitations are there?"

"Not many more, I don't think," replied Harry.

"And by the way," she grinned, "I heard you two talking. You should definitely ask Hermione to marry you.

"And I know how you should ask her," she said. She went to her brother and, hand cupped around Ron's ear, she told him the perfect setting (Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade; for nostalgia) and the perfect way (Put the ring inside of a book [One of those that has a hole cut in the middle]).
Then Ginny retreated up the stairs. Her brother and her fiancĂ© watched her go....   
In silence Harry watched the hovering quills as they dived down to new letters and scratched names of friends and their addresses upon them.

"I'm going upstairs to my uh room, Harry," said Ron as he began to hike the stairs.

"Okay," said Harry. He was staring, staring, staring...

He shook his head. The quills had now ceased their work and had dropped to the table. They adjusted themselves until they lay perfectly straight beside themselves before going limp.

"Hedwig! Pigwidgeon!" called Harry. The two owls landed on his arms- Pigwidgeon on his left, Hedwig on his right- before turning their smooth feathered heads to Harry for instruction.
"Go on, Hedwig, Pigwidgeon." Harry divided the piles of letters in two. He walked to the window, flung it open, and balanced the piles on the sill. The owls obediently flew to the sill, plucked up one letter each in their claws, and flew off. They would return for another and then another once their current letter had been delivered. Harry watched them fly off, their gleaming wings sparkling in the afternoon light, as he thought of his wife to be. They would marry in three days.... 

 Mrs. Weasley interrupted his thoughts."Harry Harry HARRY!!!" she came crashing down the stairs.

"Yes Mrs. Weasley, whats wrong?" Harry asked.

"Kingsley Shacklebolt wants to see you. His patronus is in the living room!"   

Hurrying into the Weasley's crowded and colorful, living room, Harry saw Kingsley's blue head hovering in the air.
"Harry," his voice echoed as it had done when he appeared at Bill and Fleur's wedding. "Harry, McGonnagol has been killed by Lucious Malfoy!"Harry was stunned into silence. One of his favorite teachers, one that he was very close to and one that had helped him on numerous accounts. She was gone. Killed by the enemy.

"Harry, I am sorry... I must go," Shacklebolt disappeared as suddenly as he had come.

Harry turned and began to go upstairs, to tell Ginny and Ron. His fingers gripped the rail so tightly that his fingers turned white. Ron and Ginny were in Ron's attic bedroom, laughing as they watched a group of garden gnomes fight on the ground below.

"Wow, Ginny did you see that punch?..." he turned and saw Harry. "Hiya, Harry, what's up?"

"What happened?" asked Ginny quietly. She had become very good at reading Harry's numerous expressions. She could tell he was upset because he was furiously wiping his glasses.

"Here," Ginny said. Harry held out the glasses.

Drawing her wand from her sweat shirt's pocket, Ginny said, "Occulous Repairo," and the glasses snapped into perfect cleanliness.

"Wow, Ginny, don't turn into Hermione now," Ron joked. Ginny ignored his comment.

"Thanks," Harry whispered. He was quiet a moment.

Ron and Ginny waited.

Then he told them about what Kingsley had said. Ginny started to cry, Ron sat on his bed and dug his face in his hands. Harry held Ginny and the three stayed there for a while, until Hermione came bursting in the room. "Oh my God...did you hear?" Then she suddenly started to cry. Ron got of the bed and hugged Hermione, kissed her on the cheek, wiped her tears, and held her as Harry held Ginny.   
Then Mrs. Weasley barged in. "Hello, dearies-- Oh, sorry," her cheeks flamed red. She muttered "I came at a bad time," as she left the room.

"That rotten LUCIOUS MALFOY!" screamed Hermione once Mrs. Weasley was gone.  Everyone looked at her in surprise. Hermione was generally a very calm person.

They stayed there for a while, and soon left Ron's room in the attic, which at that point had turned into the mourning room after all the crying. The next day was a bit tense but all went as a normal day would; Ron had shaved of his beard and mustache, and finally cut his hair. When he came down stairs Harry thought he looked a bit more like his old self.

"Why'd you cut your hair and shave your beard," asked Harry curiously.

"Really, I don't know. I was easy though, I just used my wand."

"Um...Harry, yeah, I think I'm going to propose to Hermione...maybe...I don't know," Ron said.

"That would be great," Ron and Harry turned their heads to see Ginny coming down the stairs.
"I really would," she said.

Ron simply sighed.

"Oh my God, RON," said Hermione as she came down the stairs right that minute.

"Your hair! Your no longer beard! About time! You look much more handsome. No longer like a cave man." She hugged Ron and kissed him.

"Geez, I thought I told you guys at the end of our sixth year, to keep your snogging to a minimum," said Harry then laughed.
Looking a little embarrassed and a little red-cheeked the two separated.

"So, " Ginny said. "When is the funeral? For McGonnagal?" No one wanted to talk about it, but it was something that needed to be discussed.

"Dad said it is the day after your wedding," Ron answered. "So the day after tomorrow." All was quiet. Hedwig flew to them and perched on the end of the table. He looked around impatiently as if to say, "Come on, people, look at me!" Pigwidgeon soon joined him. Hello!

 I was wondering when you guys would get up," said Mrs. Weasley, as she headed toward them.

"Morning," they all said at once.

"I'm going to call my mum and dad," said Hermione.

"Well, dear, how can you do that? We don't have a muggle phone in the house," said Mrs. Weasley.

"It's okay, I've got an iPhone," replied Hermione.

"What's that," asked Mrs. Weasley.

"It's a....," Hermione was trying to figure out a way she could explain this to a witch who didn't grow up with Muggles. "It's a...portable phone...," Hermione hoped she had that right.

"Oh, okay." Said Mrs. Weasley. Hermione went back upstairs to call her parents and Mrs. Weasley started to cook breakfast.

Once Hermione was out of earshot Ginny started to talk,"Ron, you really should propose. I was talking to her about getting married and stuff, and she looked a bit sad. She even asked me, 'do think Ron's going to ever ask me to marry him.?' I shouldn't be telling you two this but, you need to know Ronald. She even told me she feels as though you really don't love her and that plan on breaking up with her. She thinks that if you're not proposing, then you might be breaking. She even cried," Ginny stopped there.

"I don't know if I'm even ready for marriage and kids," Ron moaned.

"Ron you guys have dating for two years already." said Harry."I feel as though Hermione's my sister I really would hate to be upset at my wedding because her boyfriend who is also her best friend hasn't 'popped the question'." Finished Harry.

"I know. said Ron.

"I really do love her. I have been thinking about it. I mean...yeah...I am going to propose," said Ron now smiling.

"Not when Ginny and I have our first kid," asked Harry.

"No. But Harry, you have to come with to get her a ring. You know, we should go today....and I'll propose to her tonight! I'm to get her a ring with a vine surrounding it, to match her wand. She'll love it!"

"Okay, now THAT'S a bit quick...I didn't mean that quick," said Harry.

"Too bad," said Ron "Let's go"

"Now?" asked Harry.

"No not now, tomorrow," said Ron sarcastically, "Of course now! Geez," Ron sighed.

"We'll be back," Ron hollered to his mum, in the kitchen.Ron and Harry disapperated and were gone.

Hermione came back down stairs, into the kitchen where Ginny had moved to talk with her mum. "Um...where's Ron and Harry?" she asked suspiciously.

"Um, I...don' Yeah, I don't know,:" said Ginny.

"Okay then," said Hermione. She had a feeling Ginny was hiding something.

"What should I make for dinner?" Mrs. Weasley asked.

"Make a light dinner so we can all go to the three broomsticks later get some butter beer...yeah...that'll be our...dessert," Ginny nodded to to herself thinking how great tonight was going to be. Mrs. Weasley didn't know that Ron was going to propose tonight so she looked just as confused as Hermione.   

*There is more to the story, but this blog post is already long enough so I will post the rest at a later date. Credit for the writing here goes to myself (Bridget), Gabrielle, Gaby, and Mockingjay. Credit for character names and original book goes to J.K Rowling.

**Gaby was nice enough to include a link as to what Hermione's engagement ring looks like. Click here to see it.

***To be part of the discussion, and write more for yourself, sign up on Goodreads and then click here.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars
John Green
313 pages

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” -Hazel Lancaster, page 33

Sixteen year-old Hazel, a girl diagnosed with Stage IV Thyroid in her lungs, says the above about An Imperial Affliction, a book she has read dozens of times through.

I believe it should be said about this book.

Hazel has always felt like she was a grenade ready to blow up, hurting everyone around her; a side-effect of death. When she attends the Cancer Kid Support Group one evening, not only does she find friendship in Isaac, a boy soon to go blind, but in Augustus Waters, who just won't, stop, staring, at her. Together, the three will ride "the roller coaster that only goes up", which is one of sickness, health, humor, and love.

I read this book from start to finish in the course of today. I believe you can too. The Fault in Our Stars is so tragic, yet so compelling with humor and happiness, I had myself fixed somewhere in between laughing and crying the whole way through.

Green gave his characters such dimension, such charisma, that I felt I knew them as if I had been reading a series worth of them, instead of a single book. They take you on a journey, suck you into their life, and feed you their thoughts and dreams with a spoon made of delicate prose.

This is the kind of book I like best, a book with so much feeling, that you turn the last page and want to do something, anything, then and there to fix this insane and mostly unfair world.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Something to Think About

Just as a reminder, "Something to Think About" posts are short poems or passages from novels that I think send a message to think about during your busy days. The following passage is from the book Paper Towns by John Green which I finished yesterday (a review will be coming shortly), so I figured I would post my favorite part here.

"When I've thought about him dying, which admittedly isn't that much, I always thought of it like you said, that all of the strings inside him broke. But there are a thousand ways to look at it: maybe the strings break, or maybe our ships sink, or maybe we're grass; our roots so interdependent that no one is dead as long as someone is alive....If you choose the grass, you're saying that we are all infinitely interconnected, that we can use these root systems not only to understand one another but to become one another.

Maybe it's like you said before, all of us being cracked open. Like each of us starts out as a watertight vessel. And these things happen; these people leave us, or don't love us, or don't get us, or we don't get them, and we lose and fail and hurt one another. And the vessel starts to crack open in places. And I mean, yeah, once the vessel cracks open, the end becomes inevitable....And it's only in that time that we can see one another...before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. but once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out."

I don't feel like I have a whole lot to explain here, because I think the main idea is said pretty clearly. I will let you reflect on it for yourself.

This is so beautifully written, and I just hope I get the chance to write something this powerful, and this meaningful, sometime in my life.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cape Cod Sand, Sunscreen, and John Green

There is nothing like reading a book at the beach. Especially if the book is good, and your toes are in Cape Cod sand. I always try to keep my books clean; no dog-eared pages, no food stains, but the books I bring to the beach, never return the same way. They get wet, and some-what salty, and oily fingerprints dot the cover from all the sunscreen my pale skin makes me where. And truth be told, I don't mind that too much, because when I bring it home, I get to bring some of the beach back with me.

I am currently reading Paper Towns by John Green, an author that was recommended to me by a friend. She has read all of Green's books, and has suggested I read: Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars, An Abundance of Katherines, and Looking for Alaska. I am about 100 pages in of the book shown above and really enjoying it. This is a much happier book compared to some I have just finished.

Happy summer, and best wishes from Cape Cod!