Before I Blogged I Read: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

There’s a lot of books I read before I started this blog in June of 2010 and I figured it might be fun to spotlight those! They won’t be an actual review because OMG YOU GUYS THAT WAS SO LONG AGO but I’ll just note a few things about it, if I enjoyed it and what my Goodreads rating was. So thus “Before I Blogged I Read…” was born. Because you know…I’m so original with my names for things. Check out PAST “Before I Blogged I Read” posts.

 

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The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

(Amazon | Goodreads )
Rating: I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads
Date I Read it: October 2008

1. I was MEANT to read this book. So gather around, friends, for a little story. I was assigned to read this book in high school, looked at the cover, said GAG and managed to write an A+ report without reading it. So years pass between 2003 and I never think of that book again until my last semester in college in 2008 when I’m assigned this novel to do a HUUUUGE paper on. I had to laugh. Like, world, you must REALLY want me to read this book. So I did. And I EFFING LOVED IT. I am so glad this book wormed its way into my life because it was one of the best books I’ve ever read on so many levels. And I’m not going to lie, I wrote one of the best papers of my academic LIFE because of this book. I had so many thoughts and feelings. I had never been so excited about discussing the themes of book before. EVER.

2. This book was not at ALL what I judged it to be. I thought this was going to be JUST as war story or something. NOPE. I can’t even pin down what this book is. True, it involves war stories but it is SO MUCH MORE. It’s amazing, honestly. Thought-provoking, wonderfully written and has left this lasting impression on me the way it captures just the humanness of war and the intricacies of what it is to be human.  It was the type of book that I dog-eared the crap out of because there were just so many awesomely profound things. I hugged it, I laughed, I shouted at it and I cried. I actually want to do a re-read of it.

3. If you love truly amazing writing, you have to read this one. Seriously. The way this story was told. MAN. Makes me feel like the way I write is the equivalent of a 3 year old. It’s not just the particular way he strings together a sentence that is remarkable but it’s the way he makes you FEEL like you are there in the trenches or the emotion that exudes from the pages that grips you entirely and makes you want to weep for these men. It’s also the WAY he tells the story. The story truths and the happening truths and the always wondering what is real and not real. How it all is interconnected. It’s genius.

4. It is fiction but is also very based on the author’s own experience. Sometimes I forgot this book was fiction to be honest. I felt like I was reading someone’s very vivid and compelling accounts of the war and it really ties into his theme of truths and how sometimes story-truth is truer than happening truth. Through these interrelated stories from different angles of the war, we get glimpses of the happening truth and we feel that so devastatingly so, like sitting down with an old vet, but we get the story truth that helps us feel emotionally connected to it and to ache and feel raw alongside them.

Favorite Quotes:

A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil.”

 

“Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”

 

 “I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.”

 

“He wished he could’ve explained some of this. How he had been braver than he ever thought possible, but how he had not been so brave as he wanted to be. The distinction was important.”

 

 

Have any of you read this one? Did you like it/not like it? Tell me what you thought! Was this required reading for anyone else??

five-stars

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo | Book Review

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo | Book ReviewLove and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo
Published by Knopf Books For Young Readers on December 2012
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Amazon
Goodreads
four-half-stars

 

 

 

 

book synopsis Amelia is 15 years old and has gotten her first job at Woolworth’s — a supermarket. She immediately encounters Chris, who is 21, and trains her on checkout and becomes her friend at work. It doesn’t take long for her to fall for him and his witty demeanor and his ability to make everyone smile. She feels like there is something there because they can talk about everything and anything — from the serious to the absurd– and there is always a constant banter between the two of them but the big hurdle is the 6 year age difference which, at times, feels like it’s a lot more than that. Amelia tries to show him that, despite the age difference, she’s right for him after all.

good books to readLove and Other Perishable Items was not at all what I pegged it to be! The cover made me just think it was going to be this ooey-gooey, will-probably-cause-cavities kind of sweet romance. Not the case! NOT AT ALL. And you know what? I loved it!! It was heartbreakingly real and honestly quite different — didn’t feel like something I’d ever read before.

It was really just one of those coming of age stories that perfectly captures that awkwardness and not always perfectly reciprocated feelings that comes with crushes and first loves. There’s that uncertainty in what the other person is thinking and the overthinking and the longings and Laura Buzo made me remember all that in Amelia’s story — especially as a girl who had a knack for picking older boys to set my sights on. Seriously, I had my own Chris situation with an older guy who was a good friend. We could talk about everything, we found each other super interesting and everything just clicked. But that pesky age difference.

Amelia’s crush on Chris really tugs at your heart. You see why she finds him so wonderful and you understand her longing. You get it. You do. But you also see the improbability in it and the fact that he might not love her in the way she would want in this time. I’m really happy that Chris wasn’t just seen through the lens of Amelia though — especially as the targets of our affection sometimes make us skew how perfect we see people. Having the Chris chapters helped to balance out my view of him and really made me see him as a PERSON and see the other side of the encounters and his motives in everything. It honestly made me crush on him a bit even knowing all his flaws.

But I loved that this book was only half about the romance and the other half was really Amelia coming of age (which essentially the “love story” was just really woven into that). She’s smart, witty and very observant and I loved being in her brain sometimes because she made me think as she tries to grapple with things like feminism and what it means (a little reminiscent of Frankie), her mother’s unhappiness, her family, etc. I loved the conversations she and Chris would have about quirky things and about the messiness of life.

That ending was perfectly satisfying and made tears well up in my eyes big time but, at the same time, I selfishly wanted MORE. I need a crystal ball to see the future of this story for sure. Not just for the romance but because I want to see the kind of extraordinary young woman I know Amelia would grow up to be. I’d read a novel about her as a twenty or thirty something for sure!

 

book reviewsLove and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo was a quietly beautiful coming of age story about the stickiness of crushes and first love but also just about all the facets of growing up –finding your place, seeing the imperfectness in the world and your family, etc. It’s a slim and unassuming book whose cover might lead you to believe this is some ooey-gooey, sweet as candy love story but it was definitely more than that. I really, really loved it and highly recommend. It was surprisingly emotional and will have you reminiscing back to your first crush/love — especially if you ever felt something for someone a bit older than you like I did!

short book review

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

 

books you may also likeGraffiti Moon by Cath Crowley | The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read Love & Other Perishable Items? Heard of it? Did you love it like I did or have different feelings? What did you think about the ending? Was it satisfying to you or no? And because I’m curious, did any of you, like me, have your own Chris situation??
The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

four-half-stars

Before I Blogged I Read: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

There’s a lot of books I read before I started this blog in June of 2010 and I figured it might be fun to spotlight those! They won’t be an actual review because OMG YOU GUYS THAT WAS SO LONG AGO but I’ll just note a few things about it, if I enjoyed it and what my Goodreads rating was. So thus “Before I Blogged I Read…” was born. Because you know…I’m so original with my names for things. Check out PAST “Before I Blogged I Read” posts.

the Book thief by markus zusak review

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

(Amazon | Goodreads )
Rating: I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads
Date I Read it: January 2009

1. The Book Thief is one of my all time favorite books ever. I just reread it in October with book club and it still held up for me. While there wasn’t the rawest emotion of a new read, I still felt like I was punched in the gut. This book just has everything — the writing is phenomenal, it’s unique, the characters were so important to me and it wrecked me. 5 years later and I can’t say I’ve ever read anything like this book.

2. While this book is set during a war it’s not at all a war book. I do tend to enjoy historical fiction set during WWII but this book was way more than that and it makes me sad that people might dismiss it because of that. I love that the perspective was different than so many books I’ve read before — it focused on a normal German family during this time. So often I read books where it’s the Jewish perspective and I always wonder what it was like for just your every day people who didn’t necessarily buy in to everything Hitler was about.

3. Death was a most memorable narrator. I think this is why I can’t get this book out of my head after 5 years. Personifying Death and using him as a narrator for the book? Totally risky business but it paid off for me! SO MUCH. Very unique and very effective for me.

4. It is definitely a more slow moving book but very powerful and amazing. I like slow, more quiet books personally but I’ll be real: It moves slow. It does. And it might take some people a little bit to get into it but it’s WORTH IT. The payoff is big. It’s very character driven and these characters are AMAZING. Some of my favorite characters ever and that is what makes me so nervous about seeing it translated on the big screen. WHAT IF THEY DON’T GET THESE CHARACTERS RIGHT??

Favorite Quotes:

““I am haunted by humans.”.” 

“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.” 

” Rudy Steiner was scared of the book thief’s kiss. He must have longed for it so much. He must have loved her so incredibly hard. So hard that he would never ask for her lips again and would go to his grave without them.”

 

 

Have any of you read this one? Did you like it/not like it? Tell me what you thought! Are you going to see it in theaters?? Book club is going this weekend! EEEE!

five-stars

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan | Book Review

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan | Book ReviewTwo Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Published by Knopf Books For Young Readers on August 27, 2013
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: The Lover's Dictionary, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Every Day, The Running Dream, Boy Meets Boy, You Know Me Well
Pages: 208
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS.

While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other. (from Goodreads..I just couldn’t write a good summary myself for this one).

Ladies and gentleman, we have yet another David Levithan novel that I am absolutely and totally smitten with. This may just be my favorite yet. I’m telling you, I dogearred the hell out of Two Boys Kissing (don’t cringe..you already knew I committed this book crime) and read it in a single day! Incredibly thought-provoking, beautiful and so many passages that make me remember how words can just make my heart flutter. David Levithan is one of those special voices  and this book is a shining example of that.

I’m not going to lie, as soon as I started reading I was not thrilled about the Greek Chorus narration but it quickly won me over and honestly I think MADE the novel. Their collective voice broke my heart but was also so, so hopeful. As much as I loved the boys, these men are the ones that will linger in my heart for a long, long time. I was tearful at times and completely mesmerized by them and their take on what was unfolding in the boys lives and also reflecting on THEIR lives and delighting in the PROGRESS that their own struggles and fight helped pave the way for. As much as it was the wise and thoughtful insight of the gay men of the past who died from AIDS reflecting on all this, it also made me think SO much of all the voices of the past that fought for us to have something or to make progress or give us rights in general. It made me weep for those people and what they went through and gave up for the sake of progress.

The main event of the novel is these two boys who are going to be publicly kissing in front of their high school to beat the world record for the longest kiss. Woven in are stories of various other boys who are gay and at various stages of coming out or in their relationships. There’s also another couple who are both out and dating, two guys who meet at a dance and are in the very beginnings of getting to know each other and a boy who isn’t out yet to anyone except the guys he meets in chatrooms.

There were many things these boys dealt with — being ok in their skin, approval from their family, first loves, coming out to their family and more — and it was easy to get caught up in all the story lines and be rooting for them. I was brought to tears, was reminded of first love, how hard it is to fight for love sometimes and accepting yourself first before you worry about others accepting you. Their stories felt authentic and embodied what it is to be a teen — gay or straight.

Two Boys Kissing was yet another brilliant novel from David Levithan. It was beautifully written, uplifting and honestly sobering at times. As wary as I was about the Greek Chorus style narration, I quickly cast my doubts and found their voice to really make the novel for me — to be honest I think THEY were the ones that will linger even more than the boys. It’s a must read — not just for gay teens — but for everyone because it touches so delicately and thoughtfully on so many issues. It reminds you of all the people in history who paved the way for any of us but how much further we have to go because the things these boy faced are real and they are today. I love books that make me think, just want to squeeze all of humanity in for a hug and remind me why books are so, so powerful. David Levithan, you are a hell of a man, a very gifted writer, a wonderful advocate for gay teens and someone who has helped pave the way for more progress even in your own space in publishing by giving voice to LGBT teens who needed to see themselves in YA. Looking at this cover reminds me of how far we’ve come.

 

two-boys-kissing

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you’ve read it? Did you find the Greek chorus narration to be effective? Did you dogear the crap out of this book like I did??

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley | Book Review

Graffiti Moon by Cath CrowleyBook Title/Author:  Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Publisher/Year
: 2012 Knopf Books For Young Readers ( Originally published 2010 Pan Macmillan)
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: No!
Other Books From Author: A Little Wanting Song, The Gracie Faltrain series

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

.On the last night of her high school career, Lucy finds herself looking for Shadow — the amazing graffiti artist she’s never seen but has fallen in love with through all his art throughout the city. She also finds herself spending this night with Ed — a guy she went on a date with two years ago that ended with her breaking his nose. — all because her friend Jazz wants to celebrate the end of the school year by having a wildly fun night and finding a cute guy. The guy she sets her sights on happens to be Ed’s best friend, Leo, and Lucy hesitantly decides to hang out with them just for Jazz. When Lucy mentions she is searching for Shadow, the boys let on that they know him and will try to help find him which catapults Lucy into a crazy night of running about the city with Ed in search of Shadow and his art, contemplating its meaning and learning more about Ed — a person who she thought she had pegged after their one failed date but perhaps didn’t really at all.

You guys I LOVE AUSSIE FICTION. I don’t know what is in the water over there but they seem to write some of the BEST BOOKS I’VE EVER READ — like brilliance just seems to fly off the pages of every Aussie book I have read. Graffiti Moon is one of those that hit me over the head and yet subtly invaded my heart all at the same time with its dazzling prose,  heartwarming (and at times heartbreaking) story of love in its many forms and a strong visual sense of the adventure they are having all across the city in a single night. The FEELINGS that radiate from this book and their stories and the ART just are still making me feel jumpy as I type this.

There are just amazingly thought-provoking passages, supremely sweet moments and a love story that doesn’t feel like I’ve read it before but, at the same time,  feels familiar as I experienced the beautifully wonderful and confusing madness that is falling in love. The love story wasn’t annoying or insta-lovey but resonated with me as they learned about each other through both trivial and deep conversations about everything and anything and their romp through the city that all tumbled together to produce that flicker of recognition of something that feels like it could be more. I can think of so many instances in my life where I had nights like this. It wasn’t even really a book about a love story between a boy and a girl but so much more. To say it’s a love story seems to simplify its essence to me.

Graffiti Moon is told in alternating perspectives from Ed, Lucy and Leo.  This is one of those books where alternating perspectives work SO WELL and provide the perfect insight. It was this perfectly coordinated dance whereby we see the night unfold through these different perspectives and it flows in the most natural way. Sometimes we see a specific scene that overlaps just a little bit through the eyes of both Ed and Lucy and I loved seeing these little overlapped parts and their own, often differing understanding of it.  It never seemed repetitive when those tiny overlapped parts happened because Lucy and Ed had so much to give us as readers to make us fall even more in love with their story.

I also really loved their night of adventure — it felt wild and free and reminds you of how amazing it is to be young with all that potential and those dreams just ready to burst out of you. It was an extremely fun and exciting adventure brought to life by these flawed, complicated, quirky characters who express themselves and make sense of the world through art and just shine so bright even when they don’t realize it themselves. I didn’t want to end my night of fun and reflecting with these characters EVER but I know that they’ll take residence in that special place within me reserved for my favorite characters (whom I totally imagine all hang out together and have the best time ever).

Graffiti Moon is a gorgeously written novel that is definitely an all-time favorite. Its effective and natural feeling use of alternating perspectives really works to draw you into this night of adventure and makes you fall in love with these magnificent characters — you can’t help but feel like you are running alongside them or staring up at beautiful art on an abandoned building. There’s a beautiful budding love story and it never felt cliched or familiar but true to the complicated and beautiful nature of falling for someone…and it NEVER seemed like it forced itself into the forefront and drowned out the other amazing aspects of this book. If you like a romance but get turned off by how some seem a little one dimensional and the only thing the story is about, this is PERFECT for you.  A new favorite for sure!

You May Also Like: The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith (unfortunately not out until June)
For Fans Of: Beautiful words, thought-provoking books with many themes, slow burn romance that isn’t the only focus of the book, books that take place in one night, people who appreciate art, really well done alternating perspectives, a fresh contemporary YA novel with more mature characters

 

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?  If you’ve read it, did you feel like I did or feel differently? There is just SO MUCH TO SAY about this book — more than I could even capture here. I loved the different kinds of relationships and family and instances of love. Besides Ed and Lucy, which relationships did you find to be your favorite? I really loved Lucy and her parents and how she learned to see them differently. And Ed and Bert! AH!!! And I loved the friendship between Ed and Leo. GOD I LOVE THEM ALL.

five-stars

Review: Every Day by David Levithan

Book Title/Author: Every Day by David Levithan
Publisher/Year: Knopf Books for Young Readers 2012
Genre: Contemporary + maybe magical realism? Really defies genre.
Series: No.
Other Books From Author: The Lover’s Dictionary, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Boy Meets Boy, The Realm of Possibility, Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List, Love Is the Higher LawWide Awake, Every You, Every Me, Are We There Yet?, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares
Amazon| Goodreads | David Levithan’s Website

 

Every day A, a teen who is neither male nor female, wakes up up in another body and experiences another life for twenty four hours. The teen has no control over it and never knows what body will be next nor the rhyme or reason to it. All A knows is that the best way to get through the day is to just go through the motions of the characters life and try not to do anything out of character or that would really interfere with their life. A has successfully been able to do that until Justin’s body where A meets Rhiannon — Justin’s girlfriend — and makes a very real connection with her.

As somebody who is normally overly verbose and always has something to say, I’m at a loss for words when it comes to Every Day by David Levithan. I will try to explain why I loved it so much but just know this, because I’m afraid my words will just get in the way, I FREAKING LOVED THIS BOOK. One of my favorites of this year and pretty close to being an all time favorite. If there was ever a time for you to listen to me and read a book I loved, please make it be this one because it is just so beautiful, unique in EVERY sense of the world and just a book that will touch your heart.

The plot itself was just so fascinating. The idea of someone jumping from body to body every day just intrigued me from the start and I loved learning all about how A has coped with it and how it must feel to exist in a completely different way as other people. Life as A knew it was way different than we see life.  I was so in I loved getting these little vignettes of the people’s lives and how A related to them or tried to assert themselves. Some of the lives were just incredibly sad. And then once he formed this relationship with Rhiannon I was already invested in A’s life and was so intrigued as to how everything was going to work out considering he was never in the same body. Right from the moment that A made the choice to act differently than he did with all the other bodies I KNEW I was in for a complicatedly good story. I have to say that I SO wished that we knew the WHY/HOW it happened to A but I was completely satisfied not knowing and just accepting it as it was.

A is one of those characters whose presence didn’t just linger for a few hours after I finished but seems to be nestled within the folds of my heart somewhere. A’s story was just incredible. I instantly felt how lonely A was having to switch bodies day after day and be basically rootless. A’s love for Rhiannon was just so overwhelming to me as I could feel ALL OF THE FEELINGS that came with making a real connection with somebody for the first time.

What I found most interesting was how A was gender ambiguous. To be honest, I had the hardest time writing this review because I wanted to keep saying “he” but then had to stop myself. It was interesting because I kept thinking of A as a male even though it was clear that A didn’t know what gender he/she was since A didn’t exist outside of the bodies, both male and female, that he jumped in and out of each day. I found it interesting that I kept thinking of A as a male. I don’t know what it was that kept me hearing A’s voice as male.  It challenged me to think a little bit about why that was and if Rhiannon was actually a male would I have seen A as a female? I didn’t have any answers but I thought it was interesting that Levithan was able to challenge my own notion of making A fit nicely into a box of either male or female which was sort of an issue Rhiannon had.

 

As per usual, David Levithan’s writing is beautiful and gets straight to the heart. He’s really outdone himself this time though making this my favorite David Levithan book thus far! This book is imaginative, will dazzle you with its beauty, make you fall in love with A and make you just want to promptly start it all over again. Every Day defies genre and age — I will recommend this to EVERYONE I know — regardless of what they typically read. Both beautiful and page-turning

 

For Fans Of: Incredibly unique stories, books that make you think a bit, books that defy genre

Every Day by David Levithan - Best Book of 2012

 

Let’s Talky Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you have read it? LOVE it as much as I did? Did you think of A as male or female in your head?

five-stars
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