Book Review: Looking For Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: February 2013 (first published March 2005)
Pages: 272
Rating: 3 stars

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.

My Review:

“If people were rain I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”

Miles Halter seeks to find his “Great Perhaps”. Deciding that he isn’t going to find it in Florida, he makes the decision to leave his family home and go to Culver Creek Boarding School, his dad’s alma mater, in Alabama. It’s there that Miles finds a nickname, a prank master room-mate and a girl named Alaska Young. She’s wonderful and terrible, together and yet falling apart and Miles can’t help but fall in love with her. Before Culver Creek everything was boring and mundane but that was before Alaska.

This is one of those books that I’ve heard a lot about and because of that I was a little intimidated but I quickly found myself engrossed in Miles’ story. I enjoy reading John Green’s style. His characters are quirky and enjoyable. Miles, the narrator, is bland in comparison to his new friends but has some eccentricities of his own. Reading biographies of famous authors but never reading their novels himself – I loved that. I found myself able to relate to him on many levels and liked his commentary about life at Culver Creek.

Alaska Young is a great love interest – especially considering she is not the typical leading lady. She’s bold and impulsive with a boyfriend she’s in love with and wouldn’t cheat on. Her enthusiasm for pranks and getting Miles a girlfriend is contagious. Her relationships with The Colonel, Miles. Takumi and Lara contrasted with each other nicely and by the end of the book I felt like I knew her well and not at all both at the same time.

I love books set in boarding schools and I did like the antics of the Weekday Warriors and other boarders at Culver Creek. Pranks, sports and contraband are all a part of day-to-day life at the school and they were all highlighted in a way that made me feel at home with them and made Miles’ experience at Culver Creek feel authentic.  The pacing was great with each section being preceded with days preceding and after. Taking place over Miles’ junior year of high school, it was spaced out and managed to include all those important American high school things – like midterms and Thanksgiving.

Looking for Alaska is a great read however it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Amazing characters – this is definitely a book that I liked for characters first, plot second and I had a great time living in Miles’ world with him whilst he searched for his “Great Perhaps”.

My Favourite Quotes:

“It always shocked me when I realized that I wasn’t the only person in the world who thought and felt such strange and awful things.” 

“Sometimes you lose a battle. But mischief always wins the war” 

“I just did some calculations and I’ve been able to determine that you’re full of shit.” 

“We were kissing.
I thought: This is good.
I thought: I am not bad at this kissing. Not bad at all.
I thought: I am clearly the greatest kisser in the history of the universe.
Suddenly she laughed and pulled away from me. She wiggled a hand out of her sleeping bag and wiped her face. “You slobbered on my nose,” she said, and laughed” 

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: Sia by Josh Grayson

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Title: Siasia cover
Author: Josh Grayson
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Social Change, Coming of Age, New Adult
Publisher: self-published
Publication Date: November 2013
Pages: 193
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
When seventeen-year-old Sia wakes up on a park bench, she has no idea who or where she is. Yet after a week of being homeless, she’s reunited with her family. At school, she’s powerful and popular. At home, she’s wealthy beyond her dreams. But she quickly realizes her perfect life is a lie. Her family is falling apart and her friends are snobby, cruel and plastic. Worse yet, she discovers she was the cruelest one. Mortified by her past, she embarks on a journey of redemption and falls for Kyle, the “geek” she once tormented. Yet all the time she wonders if, when her memories return, she’ll become the bully she was before…and if she’ll lose Kyle.

My Review:

Sia has no idea who she is. She doesn’t know her name, her address or anything about herself. The only thing she has to her name is a fairly skimpy jogging outfit and an ipod. With nowhere to go and no idea about who she can turn to, Sia spends the next week on the streets living as a homeless person. Kindness comes from the most surprising sources when and older woman befriends Sia and teaches her how to survive. But then Sia’s parents find her. They take her off the streets and back to their mansion. But Sia still doesn’t have a clue who she is. She doesn’t recognize her parents. her friends, her boyfriend or her life. What she finds is that she doesn’t like the sound of the person she was. And maybe she doesn’t need to be the Old Sia.

I liked how this story let us find out about Sia and Sia’s World as she discovered things for herself. The contrasts from her time on the streets and her rich and flashy life worked nicely against each other. It was a little hard for me to get into the story initially – Sia’s confusion was shared by me for a while – but it didn’t take long for me to get into things.

Sia is a little simplistic at times. Instead of finding out who she was, she decides to completely embrace the life of a street kid. After finishing the novel I don’t feel like that would be something Old Sia or the New and Improved version would do. She’s not really a go with the flow kind of person. But I understand that as a plot device, Sia needed to see what life on the other side would be like. The romance was nicely done but I felt like the end wrapped things up in a way that felt unnatural, over the top and a tad unnecessary.

This was an interesting journey to read. From the gutter to the Academy Awards – there’s a lot going on and Sia managed to traverse it all.

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

 

AUTHOR BIO

Josh Author Pic

Josh Grayson was born in Mexico, raised in Massachusetts, and now lives in Martinsville, Virginia. It was his move to the South that stirred his imagination and gave him the courage to start writing. During his free time, Josh enjoys reading, jogging, swimming, and watching YouTube videos.

Josh currently works as a medical driver, shuttling people all over Virginia and North Carolina. He has also worked as a machinist, film sales rep, administrative assistant, and telemarketer (he apologizes if he called you).

Sia is his debut YA novel.

Author Links:

There’s a tour wide giveaway where you could win one of five print copies of Sia (US only) or one of five ecopies (open internationally). Click the rafflecopter link before to enter.

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Excerpt + Giveaway: If Only We by Jessica Sankiewicz

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I was delighted to be a part of the blog tour for Jessica Sankiewicz’s debut novel, If Only We. It’s a standalone contemporary book about love and regrets and the chance to do-over. It’s very sweet and I’m thrilled to have an excerpt on the blog today to share with you all! Don’t forget to check the rafflecopter link at the bottom of this post for your chance to win a copy of If Only We! 

 

Title: If Only WeIf-Only-We-Jessica-Sankiewicz-Medium
Author: Jessica Sankiewicz
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult, Coming of Age,
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: October 2013
Pages: 187

Synopsis (from goodreads):
They say all it takes is one wrong move and you lose the game. One false step and you’re trapped. One slip-up in your choice of words and you ruin a friendship forever. That is what they say. They say I lost.

I do not believe them.

At the end of the summer after graduation, Adrienne wonders what happened to cause her life to be in ruins. She isn’t getting along with her mom, her stepsister isn’t talking to her, and, to top it off, the boy she’s been in love with doesn’t want anything to do with her. She believes the turning point was a choice she made at graduation. When she wakes up the next day, she has been transported back three months to that moment, the one where everything started to fall apart.

Adrienne realizes she has been given a second chance—and this time she doesn’t want to mess anything up. Reliving the entire summer, though, turns out to be a lot harder than she thought. As the same days and weeks go by, she starts to see how simple decisions can make a huge impact on the world around her. Despite knowing some of what lies ahead, there are some things she didn’t anticipate. She thought she knew what mistake led her to where she ended up the first time. She was wrong.

And by the time summer is over, she discovers what was really at stake.

Excerpt:

I find myself staring into the space she occupied a second ago. Something’s not right. She isn’t angry with me for leaving anymore. It isn’t possible for her to have forgiven me overnight. Plus, Kaitlin’s room couldn’t have changed, or my mom’s hair. And since when did she become so sentimental? Big day? A stage? Little girl is not so little anymore? It almost sounds like I am getting married. My head is starting to hurt from all these things that are not right. It is kind of like when you were a kid and they said “one of these things is not like the other”except everything is not like the one thing.

I put the empty glass into the sink, “hop to it,” and get into the shower. My questions will be answered when I see what outfit she puts on my bed. When I get to my room, I don’t find a wedding dress. Thank goodness. I do find, however, a dressand a graduation cap and gown.

Graduation.

The day everything changed. The day I ran away to my dad. The day my heart broke.

A wave of nausea crashes into me, almost causing my legs to give out beneath me. I grab hold of my doorway with both hands to keep myself standing. A few deep breaths later and my stomach calms down enough for me to close the door. I lean against it and stare at my bed.

How can I be graduating…again?

I rub my eyes and open them again, hoping it was all in my imagination. No such luck. It is still there. This doesn’t make any sense. Where is my suitcase? It’s not on top of my dresser anymore. I left it there when I got back since I didn’t have enough time to unpack. Where did it go?

Opening my closet door, I spot it on the top shelf. Did my mom unpack it for me? Where are the clothes? There is nothing in the hamper and a quick rummage through my dresser finds some of those shirts clean and folded where they belong. How could…? Mom was at work all day yesterday. Not only that, but I saw the suitcase right before I turned the lights out last night.

My head is starting to pound with all the conflicting information I’m taking in. Sitting down in my desk chair, I put my head in my hands and start to rub my temples. I need to find something that isn’t out of place. My desk appears to be the same as I left it. Pens and pencils neatly placed in holder, check. Pile of loose-leaf college-ruled paper on top of a pile of used notebooks, check. Word-of-the-Day calendar off to the side, check. Calendar set to the correct date…what…? I reach out and grab it. That can’t be right.

Saturday, June second.

It feels as though I can’t blink. I worry that if I do, the date on this page will disappear. I knowfor a factthat I peeled off every page I hadn’t removed all summer before I went to bed last night. Each one was crumpled into a small ball and thrown away. I set the calendar down and drop to the floor to look through my trash. However, I can’t look through it because it’s empty.

Nothing is making any sense.

I graduated already. This has already happened. Or did it? I dismiss that thought with a laugh. The most logical reason for what is happening is that I’m dreaming. I’m reliving this day in my mind because I spent the time while I was falling asleep thinking about it. Maybe my mind is playing a psychological trick on itself to right the wrongs and help me cope. Maybe this is all in my head. Maybe I’m just imagining all of this.

On the other hand, maybe I am just losing it.

But what if…what if this is really happening? What if I am reliving my whole summer? The prospect causes goose bumps to spread over my skin.

Have I been given a second chance?

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

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AUTHOR BIO

jesssankiewicz

Jessica is the 28-year-old author of IF ONLY WE, a YA contemporary. You can often find her either reading or marathon watching TV on DVD, her favorites being Castle and Veronica Mars. She frequently mismatches her clothes and giggles uncontrollably. She knows almost every Billy Joel song by heart. She collects books and toys, and she has an intense love of cats and lemurs. Currently in the midst of her quarter-life-crisis, she is still takin’ names and getting very close to reaching an epiphany.
Author Links:

 

Giveaway!

Jessica has put together a tour-wide giveaway to celebrate the release of If Only We. There’s a $30 Amazon gift card to be won as well as e-copies of her book and other great prizes. Click the link below for your chance to win!

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