Eleanor & Park : A Love Story to Remember

I believe that there are two kinds of books in the world. There are the good books that make you cry or laugh or get angry. The books that make you shed a tear of sadness at someone’s misery. The books that, when over, you think about for a while before moving on.

But then we have the great books. The books that make you cry and laugh and angry all at once. The books that make you feel emotions you never knew you could feel, whether its your heart beating faster with the love of two characters, the adrenaline flowing with passion, your throat contracting from a beloved character’s pain, the tears welling up and overflowing without end. The books that, once you finish, you can’t help but hug tightly in wonder of what would happen next. The books you wished never had to end. The books that bring their characters to life, that seem to give your life meaning.

“Holding Eleanor’s hand was like a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive. As soon as he touched her, he wondered how he’d gone this long without doing it. He rubbed his thumb through her palm and up her fingers, and was aware of her every breath.”

Love like that is so rare and so precious… But Rainbow Rowell knew exactly what she was doing when writing Eleanor & Park. The connection between the two of them being palpable by the reader, the flashback Rowell gave us to the 1980’s, the strangeness of seeing a half-Asian boy from a loving family of four fall irrevocably and passionately in love with an overweight and insecure girl from a horrible and messed-up environment. So out of the blue and nothing that has ever been done before, Rowell made a strong debut in her career as author. In this era where society judges beauty so intensely, we need more stories like this one, of finding love where we least expect.

But that kind of passion cannot be faked by anyone. It has to be felt from within, from experience or pure love and eager devotion, and can only be reflected by someone with incredible talent. I can honestly say that Rainbow Rowell will go very far and be cherished by all avid readers.

Rowell has set the bar high for authors to come and I’m looking forward to reading another one of her books that I simply can’t put down, soon. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have our next John Green in the making right here ;)

Stephanie xoxo

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Midnight Review #2 : TFioS by John Green

“Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.”

Now, for those of you who have read The Fault in our Stars by John Green you’ve maybe felt what I felt when reading it. For those of you who haven’t, well, you simply have to.

*spoilers, spoilers, so many spoilers*

I thought I could handle it. I thought wrong.

I thought I knew what heart wrenching pain felt like. I’ve felt it before for other novels by just as great authors… I thought I’d felt everything, I thought I was prepared. Trust me, if you think that you’ve read a book that has pulled your heart out, cut it up and thrown it leaving you to pick up the pieces, think again. I do not think any other book ever, ever has made me feel such strong emotions, made me cry so much. I was a mess! A snotty, tear stained, red-eyed, blubbering mess. This book is… It was… I am speechless. There is no word in any dictionary that would render justice to John Green or the book itself.

“What else? She is so beautiful. You don’t get tired of looking at her. You never worry if she is smarter than you: You know she is. She is funny without ever being mean. I love her. I am so lucky to love her, Van Houten. You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.”

This is beautiful. Augustus was beautiful. I’m grieving, and I’m not handling it all that well. This was in his letter, his final words to Hazel.

16 year old Hazel is a true inspiration. She is brave, even though she is scared and in pain and knows she could be looking Death straight in the eyes sooner or later. She taught me a lot. She taught me to appreciate the things I have for they will not always be there with me. Everything has an expiration date from your favorite toy to your best friend to your lover to your parents. Nothing is forever, not even a memory. She taught me to be thankful for what I’ve got and stop looking at the things that I don’t. You should never take anything — especially life — for granted.

“I lit up like a Christmas tree, Hazel Grace.”

The moment I read that line was the moment everything crashed down and all the hope I had built up —the hope I convinced myself to hold onto — disappeared as fast as I had gathered it. Gus, poor, brave, wonderful Gus… he didn’t stand a chance. I would have done anything, anything, to be able to find him a cure. Anything. So what if some people tell me: “He’s just a fictional character!””He’s not even real!””Stop crying over nothing”. John Green makes the characters real. He makes them so vivid in one’s head, their voices so clear, their pain so palpable, their love so heart warming and true. There is no one on this earth, no one in this universe, that is even half as amazing, as astonishing, as grandiose as 36 year-old John Michael Green.

“Augustus Waters was a self-aggrandizing bastard. But we forgive him. We forgive him not because he had a heart as figuratively good as his literal one sucked, or because he knew more about how to hold a cigarette than any nonsmoker in history, or because he got eighteen years when he should have gotten more. Augustus Waters talked so much that he’d interrupt you at his own funeral. And he was pretentious: Sweet Jesus Christ, that kid never took a piss without pondering the abundant metaphorical resonances of human waste production. And he was vain: I do not believe I have ever met a more physically attractive person who was more acutely aware of his own physical attractiveness. But I will say this: When the scientists of the future show up at my house with robot eyes and they tell me to try them on, I will tell the scientists to screw off, because I do not want to see a world without him.” I was kind of crying by then.
“And then, having made my rhetorical point, I will put my robot eyes on, because I mean, with robot eyes you can probably see through girls’ shirts and stuff. Augustus, my friend, Godspeed.”

Isaac’s eulogy was my breaking point. I felt pain I never knew could be felt. This is where I really broke down. Some of you may not have found this as heartbreaking, but to me, it felt like my whole world had just been shattered. My hopes, my faith in life, my bubble of happiness, the were broken and popped by those words. And Hazel’s was just as heart twisting.

John Green really has a knack for playing with my emotions. But this book in particular was really quite the emotional roller coaster. It makes you smile at their meek attempts in flirting; it makes you laugh until tears are running down your cheeks; it makes you so angry you feel like punching someone and it makes you cry in pain and anger and happiness all at once. By the end of it, you are left a completely changed person. Nothing will ever compare.

The one thing that finally managed to make me let the book go at the end was knowing that even though he died, he died loved by millions. And he will always be.

This book is, I think, something anyone could (and probably would) enjoy. I think it’s safe to say that this book is in fact my personal favorite. And it’s going to remain that way for a long time.

Stephanie xoxo

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Praise Jay Asher’s ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’

“Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list. Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.”

The only thing Hannah Baker leaves behind are thirteen tapes on which are recorded the thirteen reasons, thirteen people, that are to blame for her suicide. She mails the tapes to the first person on her list, the first person on the first tape, with instructions to listen to it and then mail it to the next person.

“The rules are pretty simple. There are only two. Rule number one: You listen. Number two: You pass it on. Hopefully, neither one will be easy for you.”

But when Clay finds a shoebox on his doorstep, he doesn’t understand what he could have possibly done to Hannah. As he listens to the tapes, he is a broken-wreck, unable to understand what his role in the situation was. How could he have possibly done anything to drive someone to end it? He drives around town, the same town where two weeks earlier was also Hannah Baker’s town. He drives to all the places mentioned on the tapes, putting himself in Hannah’s shoes as she slowly but surely lends him access to her deepest, darkest thoughts. Her innermost secrets. He realizes just exactly how one word can hurt someone, how one action of rejection can cause a domino effect on someone’s life, to the point where they give up. He feels distraught as he realizes that all the signs were there, but no one had even taken notice. Nobody wanted to see them. When he finally gets to the part where his name comes up, he is surprised to hear what she has to say. Morose, he makes it through the rest of the tapes in a mixture of tears, smiles and heartfelt sorrow and guilt, for he can’t help but blame himself for not having done anything. As he reaches the end, he feels like an entirely new person. Hannah Baker taught him something that night : don’t let life slip by.

This heart-clenching debut by Jay Asher is a must read. It is a rare occurrence for any author to write about a hard topic to bring up, such as this one, and it was, what I think, just what young adults of this generation needed. It is a great way of sensitizing people to what is really happening behind the smiles and masks kids, teens and even adults put on. Truth be told, more and more teens are getting bullied, are getting judged (because let’s face it, we have become very judgmental beings, especially the kids) and more are considering suicide the only solution, the only way to end the pain. I can’t help but wonder what has led us to become what we have become. But, alas, it is the truth, and the only thing that we can do for now is make sure to be careful with what we say and what we do. This book was refreshing in the sense that it is nearly unprecedented in its subject and was incredibly relatable to so many people. While reading, I found myself feeling emotions so strong and raw, emotions that are so special, almost unnatural to feel while reading a book. It was definitely an eye-opener, a ‘splash of cold water in the face’, if I may. Simply put, near-impossible to put down. 5/5 for pure perfection and genius! Sincerely hoping that Jay Asher keeps things up, for I’m looking forward to reading more of his work!

Stephanie xoxo

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Midnight Review #1 : Between by Jessica Warman

A while back, I read Between by Jessica Warman, and I decided that it would be great for this week’s midnight review.

“There were six people on the boat that night… and when they awoke, there were five.”

The morning after Elizabeth Valchar’s eighteenth birthday party with her five closest friends on her parent’s yacht, she’s woken up before everyone by a persistent thumping noise . When she goes out to investigate, her discovery chills her to the bones. She finds the last thing she was expecting : her dead body floating in the water beside the yacht. As the realization sinks in, she feels lost and confused as to what happened to her, to who had done it. Everything she thought she knew, everyone she thought she knew, was wrong. Enter Alex. The teenage boy who was riding his bike a year earlier on his way to school and had been run over. He had died. Hit-and-run. Culprits were still unknown.

Liz was the kind of girl that other girls wanted to be, the kind of girl that guys wanted to date : popular, pretty and she had a perfect life. Alex, on the other hand, was the kind of guy who got bullied by girls like Liz. And she had.

But Liz soon realizes that without the help of Alex, she won’t get anywhere. As their friendship grows, so does the investigation on Elizabeth’s murder. They try to piece everything together,and as they do so, Liz dives deeper into Alex’s life and family. When Alex tells Liz the truth about the night he died, she realizes that no one has a perfect life, and that no one is innocent. When her killer comes to light, Liz is shocked at the face behind her murder. Eventually she remembers the signs, and moves on to a happier time. She learns quite a few lessons, and as she and Alex say goodbye, she is finally at peace.

I found this book quite good and original. Jessica Warman knew how to create complex characters and put them into a beautifully written story. Of course, this book was a reminder of The Lovely Bones and I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes such a success. I found it to be suspenseful, emotional, and it always had a way of keeping you at the edge of your seat. The twists, the mystery… I simply devoured it! It was easy to see just how some characters seemed to deteriorate under the circumstances while others changed in nature as they kept their secrets hidden. I did however find some chapters to be going a bit slowly, but the end was worth every minute! It is quite rare for the protagonist to be, well, deceased, and I can honestly say that even though it’s resemblance to the Lovely Bones, this novel was quite unique. I’d suggest Between to mystery addicts and all fans of the Lovely Bones for its obvious theme. I think that this book introduced me to an amazing author, and I’m looking forward to reading and enjoying more of Jessica Warman’s books :) 4/5!

Stephanie xoxo

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The Beginning of MyBookishWonderland

So everyone keeps saying “new year, new beginnings, new chance to start over” and I guess they’re right. It got me thinking, and I finally decided that there was something I missed doing : blogging! I loved how I could just write down whatever I thought and post it for the world to see. I loved that I could be opinionated and I got the chance to meet some really great people and had once in a lifetime offers I’ll never forget! Unfortunately, my school work got in the way, and I suddenly found myself out of time. So, I stopped blogging. But now, I finally think I’m ready and organized enough to juggle between my studies and reading and writing and blogging, and what better chance to start over! Basically, I’ll dedicate my blog to reviewing the books I’ve read, interviews from my favorite authors, news about upcoming releases. I’m open to suggestions about anything and everything, and I hope that you’ll like my blog ;)

So what better way to start than withThe Beginning of Everything or, as known by many, Severed Heads, Broken Hearts by Robyn Schneider.

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

The Beginning of Everything was a book that I thought was quite different and I found myself surprised by how much I liked it. I have to admit though, it took me a while to get into it. But after a couple of chapters, it became a gripping, dazzling novel, both heartbreaking and hilarious. The book is narrated by Ezra Faulkner, ex-golden boy who had everything — before his girlfriend cheated on him, before his car accident… Or so he thought. Enter Cassidy Thorpe. Beautiful, brilliant and witty, she is a new student attending Ezra’s school for her senior year. Soon enough, he will realize that Cassidy Thorpe is not who she so innocently portrays herself to be.

It starts off on a day in Disneyland while celebrating Toby’s birthday, the summer before seventh grade. That was the day Toby went through his tragedy, and quite a shocking one. That was also the day that marked the beginning of the end of Toby and Ezra’s friendship. It’s now their senior year, and Ezra has never felt so alone. He feels like he doesn’t belong anywhere anymore. Not with Charlotte and definitely not with his old tennis teammates. And so, as he enters the school for the first time since the accident, with his cane, he feels truly abandoned. None of his old friends had even bothered visiting him at the hospital. And he thought that was his tragedy. But, to his surprise, the last person he ever expected was the only one who acted as if nothing had happened over that last summer before graduation : Toby. Their friendship grew, and so did Ezra as a person. And then, he meets Cassidy, the new girl in his Spanish class. She teaches him so many things and he does things he never thought he’d do, like sit with the debate team and participate in flash mobs and sneak into college lecture halls. But then Toby proceeded to warn Ezra that Cassidy wasn’t who she said she was, and of course he didn’t take him seriously. That is, until homecoming. When Cassidy never showed up. So Ezra went looking for her, and found her but what she had to say was so vile and cruel and true, he couldn’t take the pain. And so, their love story had shattered, leaving behind a pair of broken hearts. But Ezra started realizing how much her story didn’t make any sense. Thus begins his search for the truth, and what he finds is so much worse than what he’d ever imagined. With an ending that was so real, so heartbreaking with the death of a loved one that it’s almost dissapointing, The Beginning of Everything is beautifully written by the just as beautiful Robyn Schneider! 4.5/5

Stephanie xox

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