October 29, 2012

Book Reviews: Looking for Alaska & The Fault in our Stars!

Oh yah, double John Green awesomeness! Here are reviews for two of his books: his first one, and then his latest one.

Author: John Green (obviously)

Pages: 221

Year Published: 2005

My Rating: 4/ 5 stars!

Quick Synopsis from Goodreads:
Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. After. Nothing is ever the same.

Brilliant. Simply Brilliant.

From Alaska to bufriedos to Takumi's rapping. I savored every word written in the book. I guess the only reason I didn't give this a five stars is that sometimes I got a little bored. But don't get me wrong, this story is so hilarious and heart-breaking and thoughtful that you just can't help but love it.

Here is a little taste of the main characters, with a little snippet of their rapping as accompaniment:

October 21, 2012

Book Review: Between Shades of Gray

http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1327873479l/7824322.jpg Author: Ruta Sepetys 

Pages: 344

Year Published: 2011

My rating: 5/5 stars!

Quick Synopsis from Goodreads:
Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions. Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously--and at great risk--documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

There's a rawness to this book that I have never felt while reading another book before. This rawness resonated in me a sense of urgency, pain, and everything in between that. That being said, Between Shades of Grey is a must read.

October 19, 2012

Classical Piece of the Week: Gymnopédie No.1

I was surfing the web, in search of classical pieces, when I stumbled onto a website that featured this piece on its Top 10 Classical Pieces list. Needless to say, I fell in love. Entitled Gymnopédie No.1, this piano work is composed by Erik Satie, and is the first out of three "gymnopédies" written by Satie.

October 18, 2012

Would you judge a person like you judge a book?

When I was young, I used to judge a book by its content, not by the number of praises it had. I always looked at the synopsis, and I found books with snippets of positive reviews in the back rather annoying.

Well, times have changed, and so have my perspective on the world- and books. These days, I am more attracted to books with plenty of praises in the back, or that have received many awards. I still look at the sypnosis, but the praises make up a bigger part of my decision to whether or not I should borrow it.

October 14, 2012

Book Review: How it Ends

Author: Laura Wiess

Pages: 344

Year Published: 2009

Quick synopsis from Goodreads:
All Hanna's wanted since sophomore year is Seth. She's gone out with other guys, even gained a rep for being a flirt, all the while hoping cool, guitar-playing Seth will choose her. Then she gets him -- but their relationship is hurtful, stormy and critical, not at all what Hanna thinks a perfect love should be. Bewildered by Seth's treatment of her and in need of understanding, Hanna decides to fulfill her school's community service requirement by spending time with Helen, her terminally ill neighbor, who she's turned to for comfort and wisdom throughout her life. But illness has changed Helen into someone Hanna hardly knows, and her home is not the refuge it once was. Feeling more alone than ever, Hanna gets drawn into an audiobook the older woman is listening to, a fierce, unsettling love story of passion, sacrifice, and devotion. Hanna's fascinated by the idea that such all-encompassing love can truly exist, and without her even realizing it, the story begins to change her. Until the day when the story becomes all too real...and Hanna's world is spun off its axis by its shattering, irrevocable conclusion.

One time in your life, you might come across a book that plays with your emotions, invades you with an overwhelming feeling of sadness, and leaves you with an utter sense of hopelessness. It consumes you with its waves of melancholy, and tickles you with its little bursts of happiness. How it Ends was that book for me.

October 8, 2012

Book Review: Dreamland

Quick sypnosis from Goodreads:                                 Ever since she started going out with Rogerson Biscoe, Caitlin seems to have fallen into a semiconscious dreamland where nothing is quite real. Rogerson is different from anyone Caitlin has ever known. He's magnetic. He's compelling. He's dangerous. Being with him makes Caitlin forget about everything else--her missing sister, her withdrawn mother, her lackluster life. But what happens when being with Rogerson becomes a larger problem than being without him?

Author: Sarah Dessen

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars!

My Review:

What makes Sarah Dessen's books so special is the fact that you feel like you can actually relate to the characters. Also, the plots are almost always the same, complete with a girl, a boy, and some romance, and the main character always has some kind of emotionally damaging problem they have to deal with, but it never seems repetitive. 

Dreamland was haunting. It was disturbing. Not words you usually associate with Dessen, the queen of summer romance and chick flicks. But words that Dessen definitely pulled off. 

October 5, 2012

Classical Piece of the Week: Ständchen (Serenade)

Funny how something as simple as the weather can suddenly make you inspired. This week started off beautiful, complete with sunny skies and temperatures topping up to 25° Celsius. Then, yesterday, out of the blues, it started to snow. The skies became a moody dark gray, and the ground was a mixture of mud and melted snow.
Here's to a seemingly long winter!

One cannot help but feel sad when such situation happens, and I was definitely not an exception. So after all my sulking and refusal to accept that summer, no fall, is basically over, I thought about this piece. Ständchen, by Franz Schubert.

October 2, 2012

Ordinary Miracles,

Note: Listen to the song Ordinary Miracle while or after reading this post.

People can search far and wide for the miracles of miracles. Maybe it's a girl that survived a terminating cancer, or the feeling that God has communicated to you. Or they can stop the searching, and look in front of them. And they'll see a miracle.

How so?


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