Tag Archives: The Fault in Our Stars

Recommendations of Note (for the scrappy ladies)

(photo credit: martinak15 via photopin cc)

It has been pointed out to me of the double meaning of crafty—I did not mean anything by it, fabulous ladies. I just think of you of my crafty ladies, and today, you’ll be scrappy. =)

So my last post of recommendations focussed on book series, and today we’ll focus on individual books! (The harder task, since so many books today are part of series.)

The Fault in Our Stars (John Green, Penguin). This one can’t be ignored, especially since the movie is making women and their daughters everywhere sob out loud in cinemas. Two teenagers fall in love and they just happen to have cancer – a lovely, heartbreaking book that shows all the beautiful and ugly emotions associated with grief. Recommended for 14+

Saving Francesca and On the Jellicoe Road (Melina Marchetta, Penguin). Melina is definitely one of my favourite Australian authors; she captures the teenage soul so well. Saving Francesca is about a girl whose mother suddenly won’t get out of bed while trying to navigate her new school as part of the first class of girls in an all-boys school. The pop culture references are to die for (and are particularly relevant to me as this book was published when I was sixteen.) On the Jellicoe Road begins the day Hannah disappears. Taylor was left at the 7Eleven in Jellicoe by her mother when she was 11. Hannah, the woman who picked her up, is the closest thing she has to a mother–and one day she’s just gone. But Taylor doesn’t have time to be mad at Hannah (although she makes time)–the Cadets are arriving in Jellicoe and that means the territory wars are on again. I have so many emotions about these books that I could never do them justice in one or two sentences. Recommended for 13+

Everyday (David Levithan, Random House). I don’t read much David Levithan. I’m not entirely sure why, I should–I really like his work. I also really like that he’s a publisher at Scholastic and STILL has time to write meaningful books. Everyday is a book that should be on every single school’s senior curriculum. It challenges sexuality and gender in a very open, very real way, and that just makes the book all the more endearing. Recommended for 12+

Stardust (Neil Gaiman, Harper). A true modern-day fairytale. Stardust is beautifully written that makes the reader feel like they’re floating and softly landing in a magical land. It is nothing like the movie, so don’t expect the lightning pirates to turn up, sorry. Both movie and book are individually brilliant. I particularly like Stardust because it was written as if it’s meant to be read out loud. Start reading this at bedtime! Recommended for all ages.

Tithe and Doll Bones (Holly Black, Simon & Schuster). Tithe, as I’ve said many many times before, is the book that made me want to become an author–specifically a children’s and young adult author. Tithe follows Kaye as she discovers the fae world through the intriguing and slightly off-putting Roiben–the Unseelie Court’s knight. Doll Bones is Black’s latest children’s book and is seriously creeepy. Three kids on the brink of ‘growing up’ make one last ditch effort at being real kids playing with their dolls–only the queen of their dolls’ world (an antique piece made with real human hair) suddenly starts sending them messages trying to be buried with her bones. Tithe is recommended for 12+, Doll Bones is recommended for 8+

The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern, Random House). Like Stardust, this is a gorgeously written book. It wants to be illustrated! The book follows the Night Circus and the character’s the interact with the moving exhibition. What the patrons and artists don’t know is that the Night Circus is a battle between two apprentices of frenemy magicians, and that their magic is the only thing holding it together. Recommended for 12+

Before I Fall (Lauren Oliver, Hachette). My favourite book in 2012, and probably the last great book I read until I found a bunch of fabulous ones in the last three months. The best way to describe this book is to let another review do it for me! (You can’t blame me, there are SO many books on this list.) Kat says: “This book is about a teenager, Sam, who is a Mean Girl who trips into Groundhog Day world and is set on a path to redemption.” Before I Fall shows just how much of an impact your actions can have on the world around you, and that you never ever want to be like Sam (you don’t even like her at the beginning of the book!). Recommended for 12+

Ice Station and Contest (Matthew Reilly, Pan Macmillan). I don’t know if there’s anything I can say about Matthew Reilly’s books that hasn’t already been said. Do you have reluctant readers around you? Start them on Ice Station–lots of action, a bunch of swearing. I read these books because my Dad (he’s a manual arts teacher) told me that the year ten boys at his school were studying Ice Station in English. Most of his books are page turners and I’m partial to the action-orientated ones. Yes, Ice Station is part of a series, but it stands alone. Contest was his first ever book that he self-published before being picked up by Pan Macmillan. Recommended for 14+

Attachments (Rainbow Rowell, Hachette). Better than any rom-com I’ve ever seen! (This is a slight exaggerations as I’ve seen a lot of rom-coms and I love a lot of them.) Lincoln is brought on as a security supervisor–what this really means is that he gets to read the company’s flagged emails and send warnings to their writers. Except, he never sends a warning to Beth and Jennifer, best friends who ignore the company’s email policy, and suddenly becomes utterly involved in their life story to the point of falling in love with one of them. Sounds creepy, but is actually pretty adorable. Recommended for 14+


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Sadness. (And reading about it.)

Yesterday, in the Weekend Australian Magazine, Matthew Reilly was interviewed about the death of his wife last December.

Earlier in the year, I read a book called “The Fault in our Stars” by John Green. It was about two kids who had cancer. It was really about the people that surround these kids and how they deal with cancer that is terminal.

I don’t make a habit of reading sad stories. In fact, I’m quite awful at it–I blubber and cry and feel a deep sadness for these people I don’t know.

The difference between reading a fiction story (“The Fault in our Stars”) compared to reading Matthew Reilly’s interview is simply that I feel a deeper loss by Reilly’s wife dying than reading about the loss of children in Green’s book. I feel more affected, to the core, by Reilly’s loss.

It could be that I’m compassionate (and I hope that I am). But I think it’s more to do with the fact that I feel like I ‘know’ Reilly. He is discussed in my household as “Matthew Reilly”. First and last name. But once we get into a good conversation, it’s just Matthew. I didn’t buy one of his original Contest books (it has to be noted that I was six when he published it), but I have some of the original Pan Macmillan covers that aren’t published anymore. I feel like I’ve been on this journey with him; as he writes his books, I buy them on the first day they’re released.

And now he has lost something. And I feel I have lost something with him.

I would argue that Peter Jackson has provided the best DVD experience ever. His Lord of the Rings films are cinematically amazing, but the DVDs with the extras just add to it. The Fellowship characters, after watching the extras several times, were friends. I felt like I had been on that journey with them as they created these beloved films. Elijah, Billy, Dom and Sean–household names and we know exactly who we’re talking about. (Although, now I have a cousin named Elijah, so we have needed to start clarifying.)

This is the problem with a ‘smaller’ world, thanks to technology. We “know” more people. Or at least we like to think that we do. Their achievements become our achievements–we praise them and boast for them and are generally happy. Their losses and sadnesses become our sadnesses and we grieve with them. We mourn with them and give condolences to complete strangers.

Why are those emotions more powerful for real life people than for the fictional characters we spend hours and hours with, getting to know and reading about?

Truth is stranger than fiction. Truth will always be a more compelling story because someone ‘real’ is attached to it. Truth encourages real emotions, not just emotions you feel while you’re in the fictionally story. It is more real because you know–even if you don’t consciously recognize it–that someone real is living this. This could actually happen to you.

Truth is stranger than fiction.

(The image at the top of the post has been cropped from the image “Silvana” by alesssurprise.)

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