Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars

I am at a loss for words.  Not an enviable position to be in when you are trying to describe one of the best books you've ever read.  Notice I didn't say, "one of the best YA books," because it isn't just YA good ~ it is good good.

Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace are teenage cancer patients.  They meet in support group, develop a friendship and fall in love.

There is so much to love in this book.  Do yourself a favor and read it.  Here are some of my book club's favorite lines:

"...suffice it to say, that the existence of broccoli does not in any way affect the taste of chocolate."

"I want this dragon carrot risotto to become a person so I can take it to Las Vegas and marry it."

"That's what I believe.  I believe the universe wants to be noticed.  I think the universe is improbably biased toward consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed.  And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell that universe that it - or my observation of it - is temporary?"

"There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1.  There's .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others.  Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million.  Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.  A writer we used to like taught us that.  There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbound set.  I want more than I'm likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got.  But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity.  I wouldn't trade it for the world.  You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful."

"I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things.  I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you."

"'Mother's glass eye turned inward,'  Augustus began.  As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once."

Blog friends, I could go on and on and on...  Every line is well constructed and crisp.  But I want you to read this book.  Laugh, cry, and be thankful that there are writers like John Green and books like The Fault in Our Stars.

Blog you later!

Ali B.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


My ten year old son recommended Rules.  He read it in school with his book circle group and suggested I read and review it at Literary Lunchbox.  Book recommendations from my fourth grader?  Does it get any better than that?

Rules is the touching story of an adolescent girl and her eight year old autistic brother.  Catherine loves her little brother David, but his needs and habits are also a source of embarrassment and resentment.  In an attempt to teach David proper manners and behaviors, Catherine composes a list of rules for her brother.
  1. If someone says "hi," you say "hi" back.
  2. If it's too loud, cover your ears or ask the other person to be quiet.
  3. No toys in the fish tank.
In Rules, Cynthia Lord writes characters in real life situations who have to adjust their actions to accommodate differently abled friends and family.  I enjoyed this book for its attention to autism, friendship and family dynamics.  I recommend this award winning book to Middle Grade readers and their parents.

Blog you later!

Ali B.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The False Prince

I'll admit I was surprised by being surprised by The False Prince.  From the beginning I liked the main character Sage, but I was worried about the plot set up.  It seemed predictable.  Too predictable.  A handful of orphans, an empty throne, greedy men, and a treasonous plan to fool a kingdom - It didn't seem too hard to figure out what would happen.  Here's how I thought things would go down:

  1. Rich baddy (Conner) would try his best to beat/intimidate/terrorize orphan boys until they bent to his will.
  2. Sage, the rebellious orphan, would rebel and cause mischief.
  3. The orphans would become friends and unite in their hatred for Conner.
  4. Conner would see that Sage was the best *prince* to take the throne.
  5. Conner would somehow use Sage's loyalty to his new friends to manipulate him into pretending to be the prince.
  6. Somehow Sage would outwit Conner and save the day and the kingdom.
Some of my predictions were accurate.  Conner was bad.  Sage was a rebel.  I love a good rebel.  And Sage does outwit the evil Conner, but Jennifer Nielsen does a great job of keeping the reader guessing and wondering who to trust.  I stayed up late enjoying Nielsen's plot twists.  I love a good plot twist.  
The False Prince is a book about kingdoms and castles, honor and deceit.  There's plenty of mystery and intrigue in the story, but it won't overwhelm adolescent readers.  I recommend it to both Middle Grades and young Young Adult readers looking for an adventure series without vampires, werewolves or cyborgs.  

Blog you later!  ~  Ali B.