Friday, June 28, 2013

Dear John

Dear John
Nicholas Sparks
335 pages

Dear John,
There's so much I want to say to you, but I'm not sure where to begin...

John Tyree was a lost, rebellious teenager during his high school years, and upon graduation, he enlisted in the army. Soon after basic training, he was stationed overseas in Germany and thought he had finally found the place where he fit in. But in the summer, back home in Wilmington, North Carolina on leave, John meets Savannah. The two fall in love in two short weeks, but are forced to separate when John must return overseas. Over the course of several years, John and Savannah write dozens of letters back and forth, only seeing each other occasionally, and their love is put to the ultimate test. But no one can foresee that 9/11 is about to change the world, along with John and Savannah's relationship forever.

Nicholas Sparks (Safe Haven, A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, The Last Song) must have something against happy endings. After now reading five of his novels, I can say some endings have been tearful, while others more subtle and just plain unlucky. But why do I keep reading his books then? That's a very good question.

Although Dear John promises a predictable conclusion, please don't let that turn you away. In any Sparks written book, the reader knows they will get a realistic romance wrapped in easy to read language. In real life, not everything works out, and maybe that's why I continue to read his books - because they offer a more grounded and  practical view on life than many of the dreamy and fantasized contemporary young adult novels that seem to be so popular now.

Dear John is a fantastic summer read, that is surprisingly tender, and ultimately satisfying.

The book was adapted into a major motion picture in 2010, starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried. View the trailer here.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Day in the City

{Across the street}
Yesterday, I visited The Strand Bookstore on the corner of 12th Street and Broadway in New York City for the first time. I first heard about the store when I was reading Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, but at the time I thought it was only just a unique, fictional, book setting - a made-up place. But then, upon my return to school from spring break, a friend of mine was carrying her belongings in one The Strand's popular canvas tote bags. She proceeded to tell me she went there with her cousin on the time off, and said I "just had to go." And so I did.

{View from the stairs}
As the sign outside proudly states, The Strand boasts 18 miles of books spread out on three floors. The first concentrating on fiction and new arrivals, the second on Children's and art books, and the third level houses their acclaimed Rare Book Collection.
 {Books, books, books!}
The "Staff Picks" table was one of the many tables on the main floor. Some of the most interesting ones highlighted books "Inspired by the Jazz Age", "Beach Reads" or "Summer Romance".
{On the third floor}
In the Rare Book Collection, shoppers can find  the first volume, first edition, of many famous books, including novels by Jane Austen, J.D Salinger, and John Steinbeck.

{Sidewalk sale}
The sidewalk outside the store seemed to be just as busy as the inside. Many people were browsing the carts filled with used books advertised as "cheaper than the e-book". It is so great to see a place like this still surviving in a predominately digital world. The Strand also holds regular events such as book signings, meet and greets, etc.
 {Me looking very happy!}
Overall, The Strand was everything that I had read about and more. Such a cool place for tourists and book-lovers alike!
{What I came home with}

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Summer Reading List

Happy Summer! With school winding down in the next few days, I have found myself looking forward to the season with much anticipation.  The following is a list of novels I hope to read in the coming months. Whether you are seated comfortably on the couch at home, at a picnic table or in a beach chair with sand between you toes, I hope the summer brings you fun, sunshine, and of course, good books!

1. This Side of Paradise, F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. Flowers in the Sky, Lynn Joseph
3. Every Day, David Levithan
4. On the Road, Jack Kerouac
5. In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez *
6. Saturday, Ian McEwan *
7. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
8. The Silver Star, Jeannette Walls
9. Threads and Flames, Esther M. Friesner
10. The Distance Between Us, Kasie West

 *Assigned summer reading for Honors English 2013-2014

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Just One Day

Just One Day
Gayle Forman
368 pages

"We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day.” 

Allyson Healey has just graduated from high school, and is now embarking on a post-grad tour of Europe with her best friend. At an underground performance of Twelfth Night in London, she meets Willem De Ruiter, a young and charming Dutch actor. Allyson immediately detects a spark between them, and after spending just one day together, she is surprised to wake up the next morning in Paris, without Willem. Over the next year, Allyson will start college with her mind still lost somewhere in Europe and soon she begins a journey to find Willem. With the help of Shakespeare, friendship, and self-confidence, Allyson discovers more about herself along the way than she ever thought possible.

Gayle Forman, the bestselling author of If I Stay and Where She Went has created yet another YA novel that will surely enrapture it's readers. Just One Day is the perfect travel read. Readers will experience the tulip-smelling streets of Amsterdam, the mysterious back alleys of Stratford-Upon-Avon and the caf├ęs and artist squats of Paris. Forman brings to life Europe's most well-known cities in a way that will have her audience feel as if they are there too.

Just One Day is broken into two main sections, although I don't feel as if doing so was very effective. I would have preferred two separate books to be honest, as I feel more story could have been told in each section.  For example, as a reader, I would have loved to have seen more of Stratford-Upon-Avon given that this was where Shakespeare wrote and performed most of his plays.

Overall, this was a worthwhile read about love, friendship and self-discovery.

Just One Day is the first book I have read this year for 2013 YA Contemporary Challenge. As of now, I have read 1 of my 10 book goal.