Monday, March 31, 2014

Author Bio: Dave Barry

Dave Barry is a well-known humor writer who started out with a newspaper column and has now written over thirty books (most of which are technically non-fiction, but all of which are humor).

You can't email him (no, really, the FAQ on his website says he doesn't do email because he got too much spam so he stopped that whole thing) but he does have a blog, which seems to be a weird personal aggregation site because at least the past two dozen entries are just links to weird stories.

There's lots of other great stuff at his website if you are inclined to go check it out. In the meantime, Cassy and I are reading one of his many books this week: Big Trouble.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Review Me Twice: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

Do you ever read a book - particularly a memoir or autobiographical piece - and think, "I don't think I would be friends with this person"? I've had it happen before, and I'm sure it'll happen again, but it happened with this book. I don't think my personality and that of M. Bauby would mesh well. But that doesn't have to be the case for me to enjoy his book.

And I kind of did. Having been a French major, I've read quite a bit of French writing from many different time periods, and there's just sometime distinctly French about a lot of it. This book is written in a very French way. Which is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. It makes you feel a little more like you're reading one of the classics, if that makes sense. There's just some combination of word choice, sentence structure, and some abstract sense of how the story is told that just creates this feeling of French-ness in the writing. I'm sorry I can't explain it better than that.

As far as content, I quite enjoyed the stories Bauby tells. I like fresh perspective on the mundane (as long as it doesn't go overboard) so reading about how Bauby saw his room, the beach, the tiny things that are different or difficult or impossible for him that you might never even think of when considering the ramifications of locked-in syndrome... these were very interesting to me. When he goes more into his opinions of things and farther-reaching topics or details of his past... this is where his personality comes out more and I get less interested. But there's a good balance between these things, so I managed to stick with it (it's only 132 pages, divided into small chapters, so it wasn't a particularly daunting task).

I was expecting this book to be a lot more insightful, a lot more touching, a lot more hit you in the gut.  It wasn't any of those things.  Honestly, it wasn't even all that INTERESTING.

Bauby goes off into a lot of tangents, a lot of imaginings and memories, but he does it in such a way that I don't really tune into them.  One minute he's talking about being trapped and watching TV and the next he's talking about walking on the beach and I'm thinking, "I didn't think he could move."  He's made the transition and I didn't follow it because my brain zoned out.

The only thing that really stands out in my mind is when he was taken out with his nurse and an old friend and they were talking about knowing him "before" and "after."

I understand what a labor this must of been for him to write.  I mean, he could only communicate with his left eye.  Imagine communicating a whole book to someone with only the ability to blink.  But the book just wasn't that interesting, wasn't that engaging, and not nearly as inspiring as it was hyped up to be.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Jean-Dominique Bauby, the author of this week's review book, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, was hospitalized at Berck-sur-Mer while he wrote the book, and he writes a lot about it.

If you have to be hospitalized, might as well be somewhere nice, right?
Berck-sur-Mer (or simply Berck) is in the far north of France, in the Pas de Calais region. As the name suggests (to francophones, anyway), it is on the water: the English Channel, specifically.

The hospital there began its work, in the mid-19th century, as a center for treating tuberculosis. This was a time when sea bathing was considered beneficial for all sorts of maladies, so other hospitals and centers sprung up.

File:Berck - L'église Saint Jean Baptiste.JPG
The church, St. John the Baptiste
There is a lighthouse too (originally the stone tower of the church, St. John the Baptiste) which is no longer in use as a lighthouse. I presume (based only on a guess of my own) that the lighthouse on the cover of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is meant to be that tower.

Berck-sur-mer's Kite Festival
Having steady sea breezes, Berck has been used for aeronautical experimentation as early as 1887. Nowadays, they hold a kite festival that seems to be a pretty big draw for tourists.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Favorite Memoir

We've had a lot of memoirs on this blog up for review, so I thought it was about time that we told you what our favorite memoirs are.

I've mentioned this book more than a few times on this blog, but I feel like it bears mentioning again.  Holocaust stories are usually really depressing, and while I wouldn't immediately throw this one into the uplifting category, it certainly is a lot more hopeful than most of them.  Also, it's not strictly a Holocaust story.  Ligocka was extremely young when the Nazis came into her country (as you can tell if you know anything about her.  She is the famous splash of color in Spielberg's Schindler's List.)  She was only about 5-8 when the war was going on.

It continues into her teen years when she's living in the USSR and all the horrors she has to face as things go from hopeful under Lenin, to dangerous and scary under Stalin.  It's like she could never really escape the horrors.  I like it because we tend to focus on the Holocaust so intently and forget that places like Poland were almost immediately plunged into the Cold War.

It's also well written, honest, beautiful and just so heartfelt you can't help shedding a little tear at the end.

Hey look, my favorite memoir is also from the Holocaust! I read Night in 8th grade English class, and I loved it. I liked the way Wiesel described things (from his fond memories of early childhood to the unspeakable horrors he endured and witnessed). That's really what my enjoyment of the book boils down to: Wiesel's description and explanation, which is simple and straightforward. He doesn't flower things up, or exaggerate. (Really, I don't think Auschwitz calls for exaggeration; it was bad enough as it was.) And I may just be attributing the feelings I got from learning about the Holocaust for the first time to Wiesel's writing, but I don't think anything in a book has chilled me as much as reading the phrase "arbeit macht frei" in his introduction to Auschwitz. I think he did a good job of making it feel real and hit home, and that's what a good book about a bad thing should do.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Locked-In Syndrome

This week, we're reading The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, all about Jean-Dominique Bauby.  I thought it might be a good time to talk about the syndrome, how a person ends up this way, and what it's really about.

So what is it exactly?  It causes you to be completely paralyzed.  That means no swallowing, or breathing, or talking or moving your fingers or toes, let alone something as drastic as walking.  All you can do is blink (and sometimes, if the case is really severe, not even that.)

You're still you inside your head.  You can see and hear everything around you, you're fully cognitive, fully aware of your surroundings, awake and able to think, but you can't move a single muscle.  You are, for all intents and purposes, trapped in your own body.

The disease isn't something you can contract.  Your brain stem is severely damaged, but your upper brain is completely normal, which is what causes the paralysis.  Usually, it stems from something else.  Lou Gehrig's disease, multiple sclerosis, and of course, like Jean-Dominique Bauby, a massive stroke.  It can also be caused by a traumatic brain injury, such as from a car accident or falling in the absolutely wrong way.

While there are cases of recovery, most specifically Kate Allat, if you fall victim to locked-In Syndrome, chances are you are never going to recover.  Partial recovery is more common, and more expected.

Probably the most famous case of Locked-In Syndrome is Stephen Hawking, who has suffered from ALS.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Author Bio: Jean-Dominique Bauby

Are you ready for a fascinating story? Good, because I've got one.

This is Jean-Dominique Bauby. He was born in 1952 and was a well-respected French journalist and author, and was editor of the French ELLE magazine for a time.

In 1995, Bauby suffered a stroke and was out for twenty days. When he woke up, he discovered that he had locked-in syndrome, which is a condition where one's mind is completely left unharmed, but almost all of the body is completely paralyzed.

A dictation machine was brought in for Bauby, and he was able to write The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (in the original French, Le Scaphandre et le papillon), his memoir, using it. The machine worked by cycling through the alphabet in order of frequency of use in the French language, and when it got to the letter Bauby wanted to put next, he would blink, and it would record that letter. The memoir was published in March 1997, and it was translated to film in 2007.

You've probably guessed by now that we'll be reading The Diving Bell and the Butterfly this week! Look forward to that on Friday.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Review Me Twice - Pearl Cove by Elizabeth Lowell

When I picked this book, I knew that it wasn't going to be a literary masterpiece (mainly because I'd read it before and knew what it entailed.)  And let me tell you: this book falls into all of the stereotypes of a romance novel.

Lowell makes it SEEM like her women are fierce and independent (and, ok, for a romance novel, most of them are) but they all seem to be at the mercy of their men.  They go to them for protection and fall almost instantly in love, unless they don't, and then they fall instantly in love but refuse to admit it.

Not to mention, there's copious amounts of sex.  I mean, normal human beings just don't have the kind of stamina that romance characters inevitably ALWAYS have.  The two characters can't seem to keep their hands off each other for five freakin' seconds, except, of course, during the three quarters fight.  You know, that "fight" that happens about three fourths of the way through the book, making you think that they will never be together because they could never repair ALL THE DIFFERENCES!!  

However, and this is a really big however, it IS a romance novel.  When I pick the book up, I'm not reading it for its literary value or because I think the plot is going to be wonderful or the characters incredibly complex.  I'm reading because, sometimes, I just want a book that's easy and laid back and requires no real effort on my part.  And, in terms of romance novels, Lowell puts an incredible amount of research into this one (and the others of this series.)  There is a monstrosity of information about pearl culturing and pearl trade and how to buy/sell/find/match/survive pearls.  You can tell that there was a lot of research on her part which, more often than not, doesn't happen in romance.

So, bottom line.  Great literary novel?  Not even close.  Pleasantly surprising fluff read?  Yes.

One of my coworkers saw this book sitting on my desk and was surprised that I read Elizabeth Lowell, because I'm not the romance novel type. I explained that, no, this one was for the blog, and I really didn't do the whole romance novel thing. She pointed out that at least Lowell isn't your typical romance novel, and I had to agree.

There's a real story going on in this book. There's a murder and intrigue and, as Cassy pointed out, actual research was done. (Granted, I didn't fact-check because I don't really like pearls and don't really care about them that much, though I do care very much about oysters, since I live right on top of the Chesapeake Bay and they're kind of a big deal around here.)

So if you like romance novels but you feel like you need something a little bit more substantial, try out this author. If you really hate romance novels, this still really isn't for you (unless you want to give them a shot but don't want to pick up something with Fabio and a sword on the cover).

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Romance Novel Covers

I'm giving myself a softball topic this week, since I'm still in wedding recovery mode (by the way, thanks for all the congratulations!)... Romance novel covers.

The first element to a great romance novel cover is bedroom eyes. You know, the half-lidded, if-you-don't-get-it-quite-right-you-just-look-high look that is meant to inspire loin-tingling goodness in your target partner.

Next up, you should look into bare-chestedness. For the men... you'll get in trouble putting bare-chested ladies in the "romance novel" section; those are for erotica. (I know, thin line, but it makes a difference.) Bare backs work too, for both genders.

Don't forget the wind. Like, a lot of wind. Like, the hurricane is coming and you should have evacuated but now you're stuck so you might as well make a romance novel cover levels of wind.

Even has an appropriate title.

And finally, you're going to need an epic background: space, pirate ship, stormy sea, paradisiacal beach, whatever, as long as it's over the top and epic.

When all else fails, just go to WTF Bad Romance Covers for inspiration.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Favorite Book With Sex in It

Such scandalous topics, today here on Review Me Twice!!  Really, with a romance novel being the book we review this week, the whole week is turning out a little risqué.  So today, we're telling you our favorite book where our characters get hot and heavy.

I actually like this entire series.  Auel just does an amazing job with describing the world that she's created and bringing these characters to life and showing us a world where things that are natural are celebrated (sex, for instance.  They're not much for monogamy in this series and even have entire festivals dedicated to having sex.)

The Mammoth Hunters is probably my favorite book of the series, though, because there's a lot more CONFLICT.  And she keeps you in suspense up until the very last moment.  And while, yes, there's sex in the book, it's not quite as prevalent as in the other books (like Valley of the Horses, for instance, where they have sex about every three pages.)  I also love that females are in charge in this series.  Men respect them and their culture worships a mother goddess, which is pretty much just awesome, but Auel still manages to show you how that can be taken too far (In The Plains of Passage, they come upon a man hating tribe that basically only reproduces because women sneak in to have sex with their men.)

It's wonderfully written, so amazingly researched and, oh yeah, there's a whole lot of sex in it. ;)

Actually, the first book I thought of for this favorites post was the Clan of the Cave Bear series, too... but in the interest of diversifying your experience here at Review Me Twice, I made a different selection: Boy Meets Boy, by David Levithan. We've talked about it before, but never really discussed the fact that it has a sex scene. It was - I'm pretty sure - the first one I had read with two young men in it, and after I read that chapter, I remember thinking, "That was just like reading any other sex scene I've read before. Cool." (Actually, it wasn't like all others, because there's a whole emotional turmoil thing going on that puts it all in a different light, but you know what I mean.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

In Defense of the Romance Novel

We all have preconceptions about the romance novel.  They often have shallow characters, no development of their personalities.  The females are all usually delicate flowers that need to be rescued by the big strong man, or they're the bitchy girl that gets conquered by the man.

Is Fabio on the cover?  Then it's probably a romance novel.

These books don't exactly have any literary value.  They teach women to be accomidating, docile things, and that they can't get by without a man.  Likewise, it teaches women (and I suppose the handful of men that read them) that men have all the answers, all the smarts and need to take control of everything.

So why read these books?  Why would anyone ever pick up a novel like this?

Because sometimes, you NEED a book like that.  I love good books: books that make me think or cry or really challenges what I thought.  But sometimes, just sometimes, I want a book that I don't HAVE to think about it.  I want the ease of a book that has predictable plotlines, shallow characters and all the wrong messages.

Books like romance novels are great for the beach!  They're easy, fast reads that you can put down and pick back up with ease.  The stories aren't complex, so there isn't a lot of detail that I need to remember.  If I'm picking up something like Game of Thrones, I have to remember everything that's going on.  I really don't with something called, "Up Against the Wall" (real book, by the way.  It's currently the front runner at work for "Most Ridiculous Romance Novel Title.")

So am I going to sit here and tell you that Romance novels are the best books ever?  No, I'm not, because they're not.  But they are exactly what you need sometimes.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Author Bio - Elizabeth Lowell and OUR WINNER!!

So, it's not often that I learn something out of these author bios (most of them are just the who/what/where and while I TECHNICALLY learn things, it's nothing surprising.)  However, I did learn something about Lowell that I was surprised, mainly because I've read a number of her things.

Her real name is Ann Maxwell.

Ok, so there are a lot of authors who take pseudonyms, but usually I KNOW about them, and I had no idea about hers.  She's written sci-fi, mystery, romance and even non-fiction.  She's actually quite well-versed in a lot of genres (which, I think I'll have to check out because I always thought that she would be a great writer if she managed to stop with the cliche romance novels.)

Lowell also has co-written a litany of books with her husband, Evan Maxwell (though, he seems to deal exclusively with crime/mystery novels.)

She has a BA in literature and, wrote her first novel because she had already read every single Science Fiction book in her library and at her local bookstore.  So she sat down and wrote a book she wanted to read.

And now, for the moment you've all been waiting for, the WINNER of our box of books contest:


We'll send Colleen and email so she can claim her books!

Saturday, March 15, 2014


My co-blogger, Alex, is getting married today!!!  And I couldn't be more excited! 

So everyone drop a congrats her way as she walks down the aisle today. :D

On a slightly related note, don't forget to enter our contest, to celebrate this event!  You have until Monday.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Review Me Twice: No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz

I love a good controlled-environment doomsday scenario as much as (or probably more than) the next person. And this book delivers what it promises: a bunch of people, trapped in a mall, threatened by a bomb (which, technically? not a bomb in the sense you're probably thinking... but I'm close to saying too much).

My biggest problem with the book is that, while the cultural references work perfectly right now, they'll be outdated within a couple years... a decade at the very best. The teenagers' iPods are mentioned, and one of them gets a drawing tablet and refers to a very specific graphics card. Okay, the average reader won't know the difference between the name of the graphics card in the original Apple computer and the one that will come out next year, but still... my point remains valid. This drops off a little when, in the plot, phones and internet are cut out, but it's a tiny bit distracting now... it'll be very distracting in several years.

One of the important characteristics of YA fiction is taking power away from the adults somehow. (This is the driving idea behind all main characters in Disney movies having one or two dead parents.) It is briefly alluded to a couple times that the adults (especially the elderly) are in hiding because the teens take over the mall during the lockdown, but it just doesn't feel real enough. It's like the only adults who visit the mall are completely useless and easily give in to the whims of high school students. I suppose one could argue that it's because the adults are more willing to obey the instructions given to them, but that isn't said. Or even implied very well. So I don't fully believe it.

Other than those two things - the soon-to-be-outdated technology references and the roll-over-and-take-it adults - I enjoyed the book quite a bit. It's a very quick read, it delivers what it promises, and there are sequels, and I want to read them. The ending promises interesting developments to come.

So... I really wasn't sure how I would feel about this book.  I mean, it looked interesting enough, but mall epidemic?  How does that even work?  

Wonderfully.  It works freakin' wonderfully.

The thing that I liked best about this book?  It pretty much relays how something like this would happen.  Calm crowds at first, but then they freak out.  There are certain people and clicks that come out on top and relationships are forged based on survival.  And things get CRAZY in this mall, where people are trapped for a week.

I was expecting to be a little more... panicked feeling.  I've had books where they're so well done, you feel like you're going to contract the disease any second, and this wasn't that.  It was real, but not so real it made my skin crawl.

That being said, Lorentz was AWESOME at the shock factor.  He managed to throw something in there that you weren't expecting.  We all know that I'm usually pretty good at predicting endings (whether I want to or not), so I was impressed.

It's a really good book, and I really think I'm actually going to pick the second one up.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Small to Big in YA

I discovered an interesting trend the other day when I was thinking about YA stories in general. I noticed that almost all of them start small and move to big, and this matches perfectly with the development of the adolescent mind.

Children and teens are stuck in a state of egocentrism (see image above) until their brains are developed enough to handle considering other viewpoints. There are biological reasons that young people are insufferably full of themselves.

As a teen matures, however, they start to be able to step into others' shoes. They can start to logically extrapolate the wider-reaching consequences of their own actions. It becomes easier for them to understand points of view that contradict (or at least are different) from their own.

And I know that adult fiction can do this, too, this small-to-big thing. But I've been noticing that more traditional stories and more adult fiction tells stories big-to-small, and most YA is the other way round. Let's look at a few examples of what I mean by small-to-big:

Everyone knows that Harry Potter starts off light and fun: a young boy discovers that he, personally, is a really important person and as if that wasn't enough, a wizard as well. By Deathly Hallows, the entire magical world is at war. Sure, Harry is still at the center of it, and we're still focusing on him and his friends, but the driving forces are so much larger.

The Hunger Games series starts off with the story of a girl trying to survive and sort out a particularly complicated love life, and ends with war.

Twilight starts off with Bella, the new girl (who is totally awkward and unattractive, if she didn't tell you enough times) and expands to being about her and Edward, and ends... with war. Are you seeing a trend?

Several of our recent review books (The Maze Runner trilogy, the Matched trilogy, this week's book No Safety in Numbers) follow this same trend. Instead of coming home from a war and starting a life (like you might see in a book or film directed at older adults) we have the opposite end of that timeline. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Favorite Epidemic/Disease

I love books about epidemics and diseases and plagues. A lot of really great YA that I enjoy revolves around that theme. The Maze Runner series comes to mind because I'm currently finishing the series. There are some great ones outside of YA, too: The Stand, I Am Legend, World War Z, even The Martian Chronicles has a few. I even wrote a couple myself for NaNoWriMo (Epilogue and Comorbidity). But my favorite? I guess I'd have to go with...

...Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick. You may remember us reviewing this from a while back, so I won't go into too much detail. I was totally sucked into the book from the beginning and I had to - JUST HAD TO - finish the series. (That happens sometimes with me and this blog... See above, where I said I'm still working through the last of the Maze Runner series.) But there are great books I listed above that I didn't choose for my favorite because I'm focusing on the disease aspect. I like the disease in Ashes because of how we really don't know exactly how it works, but we piece it together by observing the effects. I like that it varies in people with various types of brain damage. I like that we don't really need an explanation of how something we assume to be the world's largest EMP could cause this disease (which technically is not a disease, I suppose, but it acts very much like one). And I like that the technicality of not being a disease makes it so that it isn't infectious, and can't be caught, giving you the ability to experience much tenser, scarier, up-close scenes without having to find a way not to infect the wrong character.

I'm going to do something that doesn't happen a lot on this blog:  I'm going to tell you about a book that we've never mentioned on here.  Not once. (In fact, I had to create a new tag for it because we've never had a author with the last name U.  Exciting day, here at Review Me Twice.)

I read this book a REALLY long time ago (like... middle school long time ago.)  But even after all these years, and only reading it the one time, the plot still stands out very vividly in my mind.  This girl goes off to this camp, a camp where they completely cut themselves off from the outside world.  It was supposed to be a survival camp, so they had no interaction (and it was the '90s.  There weren't things like cell phones then.)

When she came back, all of England had been ravished by a plague.  Her parents were dead, her best friend was crazy, and she had to pair up with this guy that she kind of always hated.  And this was before the whole Zombie craze started, so people just got sick and died.  No coming back, no fighting off monsters, just plain old everyone is sick and we don't know how to stop it.

I really enjoyed the book and this post made me think about it again.  I feel like if it's stuck so vividly in my memory all these years, they it definitely deserves a shout out.  (also, below is the cover that I saw as a kid and the only picture of that cover I could find.  This book really tested the powers of my google-fu.)

Also, don't for get to ENTER OUR GIVEAWAY!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dating Your Book

No, I don't mean that you're going to take it out to dinner (though, which of us hasn't taken a book out to dinner before? ;))  I mean that you put things in your book that makes it obvious what time period you're writing from.  Now, dating your book may not always be a BAD thing, but it may effect the longevity.

Our book this week, No Safety in Numbers, has a lot of things in it that let you know when it's, roughly, taking place.  The characters hang out in a Apple store, playing on Macs and iPads.  They've got their cells and one of our main characters gets a very specific type of graphics card.  All of these things, in fifty years, will date it.  People reading it may not KNOW what an iPad is or laugh at the use of cell phones because EVERYONE brain chats now.

Old classics do it to.  While Alice in Wonderland is considered a great classic, it's not an easy book to read.  There are puns galore in that book, but the language and the puns are so old, that the average reader doesn't catch onto a lot of (I would consider myself and above average reader and I still had to read the footnotes for just about everything.)  Now, Carroll's ability to write makes up for a lot of that, but that doesn't change the fact that the book seems to get more unreadable the longer its been around.

So what makes a book last long?  Harry Potter is a good example of a book that doesn't need any background.  Rowling created a completely new world with its own rules and its own scenery.  It's got wands and sorting hats and staircases that move and three headed dogs, but you know what?  None of that exists, so it's never going to appear "outdated."

Austen is another good example of something that has stood the test of time.  Does it date itself?  Well, yes, because they're all about manners and the dresses and the marriage and the proper-ness.  But the story is age old, classic, and something lots of people can relate to.  Her writing doesn't date the book so much as make it seem as if you're being transported back to that era.  Not to mention, she doesn't ever specifically name where in England all of this is happening, so it makes it easier for the reader to think of it as a separate world.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Author Bio: Dayna Lorentz

Dayna Lorentz is the author of two YA series: Dogs of the Drowned City, and No Safety in Numbers (the first book of which we are reading this week).

She has a bunch of degrees (BA, JD, MFA, and Esq.) and loves school.

Lorentz loves dogs (on her website, she has her bio, and then another bio that is more dog-focused; it lists 8 dogs and one cat).

She also, for some hilarious and awesome reason, has on her website a tutorial on her favorite way to eat a cupcake.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Box of Books Giveaway!

Since my super awesome co-blogger is getting married ON SATURDAY (I can hardly believe it), I'm running a little giveaway in her honor!

I have a box of books to give away to YOU, the reader.  I will pick some books off of my shelf (some that have been reviewed on this blog and some that haven't), and then ship them to whomever our winner is!

So here are the rules!

  • You can enter once per day.  And you can do each THING once per day.  So you can tweet us every day and comment every day AND share the giveaway on Facebook.  So many ways to win!
  • You have to live in the contiguous United States.  It's not that we don't LIKE people in other countries, but we just can't afford that shipping.
  • Winner will be announced on Monday, March 17 (Mainly because I am going to be in VA Beach for a wedding and won't get to the post until then.)
  • Winner must provide a valid address within one week of winning.  If they do not, the next winner will be chosen and the same rules apply.  If neither claim the prize, the books will be donated.
  • You do not get to choose the books; they're just going to be a random collection of things from my shelves.  It's also all or nothing.
  • Prize will be mailed via United States Postal Service, with no signature required. A delivery confirmation number will be provided to the winner upon mailing, via email. We are not responsible for delivery errors made by the USPS.
You can start entries 12:00 am this evening (mainly because I waited too long and Rafflecopter wouldn't let me make a giveaway for today.)

Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 7, 2014

Review Me Twice: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I am going to warn you right now: You are going to sob uncontrollably for about the last fifty pages of this book.  And no, that's not a spoiler.  It's a book about kids with cancer, you really thought that you would make it through without the tears?

You know why I love this book, though (other than the fact that it's by one of my top three authors who has yet to write a book I don't love)?  Because it's FUNNY.  That's right, Green wrote a book about cancer that's absolutely hysterical.  It's like he took the humor of Paper Towns and the sadness of Looking for Alaska and combined them into one glorious creation.

Part of the reason I love John Green it's he really reminds me that teens are PEOPLE, sometime more so than adults and sometimes, just sometimes, they have to be adults.  Hazel Grace is constantly worrying about her parents and the things she does and how it effects them because, inevitably, she sees the proverbial ax hanging over her head and knows what that's going to do to her parents when it finally drops.

Her and Augustus (also, I just want to point out that the names in this book are perfect and fabulous) fall in love it the best way ever.  It's slow and gradual and has so much friendship condensed into their love.

I love Green.  I love his books and the way he writes and the way that he always gives me ALL THE FEELS.  Seriously, every book.  Even if you don't pick this one up, you should pick up something else by him.  But this is a really good book to pick up.

Yeah, you'll sob at this book... if you aren't me. I didn't shed a single tear for this book. And I know it's not because I can't cry for book characters (go back and read Wednesday's post). It just didn't touch me. I didn't find it to be the tear-jerker everyone else seems to think it is. But that doesn't mean it wasn't good.

For once, I felt like Cassy reading a book... I knew everything that was going to happen before it did. It's a weird feeling for me, because I don't think ahead when I'm reading; I just let things happen.

I've read reviews of this book that say that John Green loves his characters in this book. I can see that (just something about the way they're written, and the fact that I've written characters I love too, and it doesn't do anyone any favors) but I don't like them very much. Hazel is kind of dumb (if she honestly didn't expect exactly what happened with her favorite author, she's really dumb) and Augustus is such a hipster, it hurts. I actually really liked their friend with eye cancer, but there isn't much of him. He shows up in the story when it's convenient, and that isn't very often.

This is clearly one of those times Cassy and I have totally different opinions of a book. I don't like anything specifically about this book, but I'm glad I finally read it, so there's that. I think some of Green's other books are probably better, and I plan to read some to find out.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to write this week, because everything I came up with turned out being part of my review for tomorrow. So, even though I didn't cry at this book and I don't think it even broke the top twenty or thirty saddest books I've ever read, it seems everyone else who has read it has a soggy copy of the book because sad. So let's talk about crying.

Why cry? Babies do it as a communication tool: "I am unhappy about something and I lack the verbal skills to tell you what it is, so I'm going to cry until you guess correctly." That works for adults, too: "I'm unhappy and either need you to do something about it or show me support." It's cathartic: "I feel unhappy, so I'm going to cry until I feel a little better about whatever is making me unhappy."

Who cries more? The APA found that women cry an average of 5.3 times per month, while men tend to cry 1.3 times per month. (Don't ask me what 0.3 cries looks like.) It has been proposed that testosterone inhibits crying, and prolactin encourages it, which would help explain that. Also, people who live in countries/areas with more freedom of expression cry more, and people who feel more secure in their attachments and relationships cry more.