Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

12970552From Goodreads: 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.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.


My friends told me I had to read this book.  That it was one of the best they’d ever read, that I’d fall in love with the characters, that it’d leave me feeling broken and sad, but that I’d love it just the same.  And so, I put it off for quite some time because I don’t really enjoy being sad.  I also don’t like to physically borrow books from the library because they aren’t mine, and the ebook of this one was just too much money, in my opinion (at no point do I think ebook prices should be comparable to the paperback price).  But then there was a sale and the ebook dropped down to only $3.99 on Amazon (and it’s still this price), so I scooped it up and, one Friday evening not too long ago, started reading it.

Initially, it didn’t pull me in.  I wasn’t in love with the characters, the plot was like so many I’ve read before, and I just didn’t see what everyone was talking about (and I do mean everyone).  Hazel didn’t tug on my heart strings—in fact, she was presented in a way that made me dislike her.  Catty and unforgiving, she jerks her parents around and has all but given up, even though she has a second chance at life.  I couldn’t understand her.  Augustus was interesting, but he seemed unreal, almost forced to me, and I sighed and thought this was going to be one of those instances where I just didn’t feel the same as the whole world around me.

And then, at some point while I was reading (and I honestly can’t pinpoint it), I became irrevocably attached to the characters.  Augustus seems to bring out the best in everyone around him, and Hazel’s snark stopped getting on my nerves and I began to love her, and all those around her.  They jumped off the page and became real.  And then, as John Green has a tendency to do, he ripped out my heart and left me blubbering for hours into the night, blowing my nose, soaking my shirt in tears, hiccupping for breath.  The Fault in Our Stars is just that touching, and it truly left me breathless.  And while I didn’t fall in love with the story right away, I definitely did fall in love with it.  My friends were right, as they usually are.  This is an amazing novel and I highly suggest you read it if you haven’t.  I just hope the movie rendition does it justice, because this is a very powerful piece.  Five amazing stars.

5 stars

I purchased this novel from Amazon.


17262236From Goodreads: While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?

Elizabeth Wein, author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Code Name Verity, delivers another stunning WWII thriller. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival.


This novel started off a little slow for me as Wein begins to create the background for her story, allowing readers to connect with Rose and her life prior to her capture. For me, this part really wasn’t interesting… information about piloting, friendships, and betrothals wasn’t what I was expecting and it’s not really my style, but in the end, it was actually vital information to further along the plot near the end, and I’m glad that Wein chose to include it, even though I initially wasn’t interested.

This is a gut wrenching read as we learn of the experiments carried out on the Rabbits (a group of women who created the nickname for themselves due to the experimentation) and their insistence on caring for one another, even to the point of volunteering to die in another Rabbits’ place. Much time is dedicated to the fleshing out of these strong-willed, powerful characters within the novel, and it is their determination that really pushes the story along and allows the reader to finish the novel.  Without their outlook on life and their perseverance, I don’t think I would have been able to complete this novel because the atrocities within are quite difficult to handle, and yet these women bear it in stride.
I teach a Holocaust unit to my students, and we focus on the novel Night, by Elie Wiesel, so we don’t see the entire travesty of the war in what happened to the women and children as it focuses on a male concentration camp.  Thus, I think Rose Under Fire, though extremely sad and difficult to stomach at times, is the perfect novel to show what life in the women’s camps were like. I feel like this is a topic that is not taught enough—all the novels I read in school as a student, and that I now teach, deal with the perspective of a male in a male concentration camp, and I think it is incredibly important that there is a focus on the women and children’s camps as well.  This is a very powerful novel, and I highly suggest it, but beware, it is difficult to read at times. Four stars.

4 stars

Disney Book Group has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release tomorrow, September 10, 2013.

et cetera
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