The Fault In Our Stars

And friends it’s time for my last book review from the honeymoon.

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Let’s just say I’m not writing about this one last because it was my least favorite.  I read this book in less than 48 hours, was left in tears, and was moved enough to leave it at the apartment we stayed at in their little “library.”  I hope someone else picks and up and is moved in the same way I was. . .

Summary

The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green, follows a young girl, Hazel Grace, through her battles being a teenager.  The one difference in young Hazel’s story?  She’s also battling Stage 4 Thyroid Cancer with metastasis on her lungs.  

Sounds like a dark premise, right? Sure, it is, but it does not make the it a dark story.  Even when her illness restricts her to home schooling, carrying around oxygen, and struggling to move around without being winded, Hazel stays triumphant.  

A part of Hazel’s treatment (and pacifying her concerned parents) is going to a support group once a week.  For Hazel, this is really her “social” time, as regular schooling and social activities are a challenge for her.  At one of these groups, Hazel meets a young man, Augustus Waters and is immediately intrigued.

You see, Hazel hasn’t allowed herself to get close to many people, as she feels like a “ticking timebomb” ready to go off and destroy all of those left in her path.  That is, until she met Augustus.  The relationship between the two develop through mutual tragedy (cancer) and a love for specific books.  For Hazel, that book is An Imperial Affliction, by the Dutch author Peter van Houten.  A tale that is left unfinished and has beautiful tortured the young girl since her first reading.

The peak of their romantic tale is a trip to Europe to meet the author and learn exactly what happened to the characters in the story.   You see the story haunted Hazel due to her own concerns with health and what will happen to her own family when she has lost her battle.

Hazel’s entire world takes a turn this trip, not only from meeting this idol of hers but also finding out Augustus may be hiding something from her. . .

Review

Like I already said, within 48 hours I found myself crying, smiling, and bleeding from my heart for the characters in this story.  To read such a jarring story of love from the emotional teenage perspective is moving, saddening, but moving in such a unique way.

John Green paints such an amazingly raw and true picture that this story is guaranteed to stick with you long after you put it down.   It’s something in fiction that you really just don’t see that often anymore, and I cannot recommend it enough.  But come prepared with tissues!

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Beautiful Ruins

I know they say you should never judge a book by it’s over. . . but that’s exactly what I did with Beautiful Ruins, By Jess Walter.

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Thank Goodness it didn’t disappoint.

Beautiful Ruins caught my attention with it’s beautiful cover art, but kept my interest with it’s story.

Summary

We begin in the small fictional town of Porto Vergogna in 1962 where we are introduced to Pasquale, the young innskeeper at the Hotel Adequate View.  The pensione as it is referred to, is Pasquale’s families attempt at a safe life after a tumultuous couple of life events, specifically the death of Pasquale’s two older brothers in the War.  Started previously by his parents, in 1962 the Hotel Adequate View is being run by Pasquale following his father’s sudden death.  Back from University, Pasquale is disillusioned by life at the pensione, but is brought back to where he grew up by family obligations to run the inn and take care of his ailing mother.

The story quickly begins when we see Dee Moray, a beautiful Hollywood actress who is in Italy to film the huge Hollywood movie, Cleopatra. Pasquale cannot believe that she would purposefully intend to stay at HIS pensione, but we learn that Dee is actually very sick and has been sent off set to the secluded inn for rest.  From first glance, Pasquale is instantly in love with Dee, and we follow them through some emotional interactions that defy the language and cultural barriers between them.

We then move in time to recent Hollywood where we are introduced to Claire Silver, a young Hollywood “chief development assistant” for the past-his-prime Hollywood producer, Michael Dean.  Claire is disillusioned by much in her life: her slacker boyfriend addicted to porn and strip clubs, a boss she vehemently disagrees with, and a lack of direction as to HOW she got to this point in her life and where she can go from here.  The stories quickly come together when an old Italian man, Pasquale, comes into their Hollywood office on a major “pitch day,” not to pitch a movie idea, but instead to find a long lost love whom he believe Mr. Dean can help him find:  Dee Moray.

The novel jumps between different time in history, following the different primary characters in different phases, locations and directions in their lives.  But ultimately, their stories are all tied together and told beautifully, by the unique and simple Hotel Adequate View.

Personal Review

I love love.  And because of this, I truly did love Beautiful Ruins.  The relationships described in the novel are so unique, heartfelt, and jarring, that I couldn’t help but get sucked in.  This isn’t a fairy tale love story, far from it, but it is a story that feels genuine and rich with human emotion, and THAT kept my attention.

The jumpy nature of the novel: going back and forth in time and switching settings, was a bit jarring and took some adjusting. But, by the end of the novel I really enjoyed the way all of the stories were intertwined together.  Be warned, but know it’s worth it- and even if it seems a bit confusing, it all does come together.  By the time I finished the novel, I felt a sense of joy AND closure that I haven’t gotten from a story in a long time.  And that is beautiful  .

Heading to the beach?  Going on a road trip? Or just have some down time and want a good read, definitely pick up Beautiful Ruins.  It’ll have you intrigued the entire time, then leave your heart smiling.

Question of the Afternoon:  Have you ever judged a book by it’s cover?

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Gone Girl

I love reading when I travel.  For me, a travel plan includes a good mindless book, and snacks.

When I knew I had at least 8 hours on an air plane to look forward to last weekend, I knew a good book was going to be key.

I was pretty bummed when my book, Insurgent, didn’t make it from Amazon by Thursday night.  I had been banking on that and knew that I would now be stuck paying way more than I should for a book in the air port.

I knew if I was going to be paying crazy airport prices, my choice needed to be a good one.  Enter: Gone Girl

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I picked up the book for 25 dollars at the Denver Airport, and began reading right away.  By Sunday night when I returned home, I had finished.  That’s right. 72 hours, and 48 of those JAM PACKED with wedding festivities.  This one is a page turner.

Plot Summary

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, introduces us to the story of Nick and Amy Dunne and their troubled marriage.   As two journalists/writers in the active New York writing scene, Nick and Amy have what seems like a picture perfect marriage.  That is, until the both of them find themselves unemployed and unhappy.

Amy and Nick are able to survive for awhile in New  York thanks to Amy’s trust fund from her families Amazing Amy book series money.  When Amy’s parents come to them needing the money, and Nick’s parents come to them very ill, the pair uproot their New York life and move back to Nick’s hometown in Missouri.  Much to Amy’s distaste.  Nick now co-owning a bar with his sister, and Amy staying at home while they both take care of his ailing parents.

The story quickly jumps into a mystery of Amy’s disappearance from their Missouri home.  We jump back and forth in time (with Nick narrating current day and Amy narrating the past through diary entries), learning more of their back story while also following Amy’s missing persons case.  As a reader in the first half of the novel, you are left confused and unsure as to Nick’s involvement in the disappearance as he is made the prime suspect in the case.

Enter the second half of the novel, and you learn that both narrators were hiding secrets as we are both brought to current day.

SPOILER ALERT:  STOP READING UNTIL THE NEXT BREAK IF YOU PLAN TO READ THE NOVEL

Quickly in the second half we find out that Nick has been hiding an affair with one of his young students, and Amy is actually alive and well in hiding after faking her own death to spite NIck’s affair.

The story now follows Amy current day, where we learn more about her elaborate planed fake death and watch her crumble as she lives in hiding on very little.  As for Nick, he attaches himself with a high profile scumbag lawyer known for previous cases of very similar circumstances.  It is with this lawyers help that we learn much more about Amy, Nick, and how this very twisted and convoluted story may resolve itself from here. 

Personal Review

Considering I finished this book in less than 72 hours, it’s fair to say this book is a page turner.  Especially as the plot thickens and you get deeper into the mystery. I constantly finished a chapter saying “just one more” but still kept going.

I loved the twist between parts 1 and 2 of the book.  For me, it made the story very unique and interesting versus falling into the trap of just another murder mystery.  It was a very intelligent twist and actually done VERY well.

Ironically enough, while I loved reading the story each character  was telling, I did not like the characters themselves.  I did not connect to either of the main characters but I found that it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the novel.

I did NOT like the end of Gone Girl.  I actually found myself very frustrated and confused when I finished the book.   Not only did I feel it ended suddenly, I feel the resolution did NO justice to the story that had been told.  I know the novel is meant to be a bit of a psychological thriller and dig into a troubled relationship, but I still would have appreciated a different resolution.  From what I understand I am NOT along in this feeling.

Would I Recommend the Book?

Honestly, yes.  It’s a fun read and I can see why it’s just such a hit in the main stream.    I was highly entertained while reading, and recognize that it is perfect for travels or quiet slow times.  If nothing else, read it to see why the ending frustrates so many…or just maybe don’t read the small last section 3 ; )

Footnote:

Gone Girl is being adapted for the big screen and produced by Reese Witherspoon in 2015!

Question of the Day:  If you’ve read the book, what are your thoughts on the ending?