Aug 14, 2012

Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Audio Version)

John Green's latest, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, is the first book I've read by this author.  I was encouraged to listen rather than read by many fellow book lovers who raved about the audio version narrated by the amazing Kate Rudd.  This story about two teenagers battling cancer who meet in a support group is not something that you'd think would make readers want to run out and grab up this book. But they would be wrong, so very wrong.

With this book, Green has written a beautiful, brutally honest, raw story of two extremely intelligent and wickedly witty teenagers who, through all of the ups and downs of their illnesses, still manage to keep trudging on without ever feeling sorry for themselves, yet being acutely aware that they, most likely, will die long before their parents. They do not hide this knowledge, but use it to get everything out of each day they have left. 


Plain and simple: I ADORED THIS BOOK!! It kind of seems funny (in an odd way) that a book with this topic would be something I would love but if you've read it, you completely understand. If you haven't, you need to read it NOW. 

The first thing you notice about this book is how perfect the characters are. Hazel Grace Lancaster is our narrator and main character. She is a very bright girl, battling lung cancer for most of her 16 years. She is a delight - sweet, smart and loves her parents and worries about them as much as they worry about her. The relationship she has with them is so honest and loving and so true to the story. Then there is Augustus Waters. He is the boy Hazel meets in Support Group and falls for instantly. Augustus is just as bright and interesting as Hazel and there is a connection immediately. Another favorite character is Isaac, Augustus' friend who after losing one eye, may also lose his other to cancer. But Isaac seems to be more upset about his girlfriend dumping him than being blind for the rest of his life. Just another way Green reminds us that life does go on. 

I love that Hazel is a reader and that her love of one book in particular has such an impact on her that it literally changes her life. I love that Augustus cares for Hazel so much that he reads the book and is just as into it simply because it's important to Hazel and Hazel is important to him. The conversations between these two young people are so stimulating and quick and witty that you sometimes forget they are kids. I got so sucked into their conversations and just held on trying to let every carefully selected word sink in. 

There are way too many things I loved about this book to name them all here in this post. I will simply summarize and say it was truly a treat to listen to. I was completely immersed in Hazel and Augustus' lives and felt a connection to them right away. I laughed, I cried and it made me think. I like books that make you think. Even though I knew this book would not have a happy ending (don't worry, I'm not giving anything away here), I couldn't stop listening. This book is a Wonder and not surprising, it is one of my favorites this year. If I had to say one thing about the possibility of you reading this book, I would say this: Please Don't Let The Premise Deter You From Reading This Remarkable, Inspiring, Lovely Book. 

A book about death and dying doesn't have to be dark and sad. John Green proved it in THE FAULT OF OUR STARS by showing us the possibilities we all have even under the most discouraging of circumstances and the things we can learn from each other if only we open our minds.  

Author: John Green
Publisher (Audio): Brilliance Audio
Published (Audio): January 2012
Length: 7 hrs 14 min
Source: Purchased (
Rating: 5 Wonderful Stars out of 5

Aug 8, 2012

TLC Book Tour Review: The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe

 THE COLOR OF TEA is a sneak-up-on-you debut novel by Hannah Tunnicliffe that was released in June. I'm going to come right out and say it - this book was a difficult one for me to review. When invited to the tour and reading the summary, although the premise sounded interesting, I wasn't bowled over but thought to myself  'This will be a nice book.'  It caught my attention mainly because I am a huge tea lover and it piqued my curiosity as to how that aspect was going to fit into the story.

Grace is at the center of this story about a married English woman living on the island of Macau with her Aussie husband.  They desperately wants to have children but all of their attempts have ended in heartbreak.  After one last experiment and subsequent failure, the realization that it is most likely never going to happen hits Grace pretty hard.  She and Pete struggle to accept their family of two without really even talking about it. Knowing how upset Grace is, Peter is reluctant and frankly, unequipped to handle her delicate state. As a distance grows between them, Grace throws all of her time and energy into opening a cafe, not even knowing if she can make it work, but feeling as if she has nothing to lose.

My Thoughts:

As I mentioned earlier, this book crept up on me. At first, I did have a hard time getting into the rhythm of the story and honestly, it took me until at least half-way through to develop a connection to Grace. It wasn't that I disliked her, I just didn't understand her completely. She was a hard character for me to get to know. Partly, I believe, because of the conversations she has through letters written to her mother, who is obviously absent. Mostly, the letters left me more confused and leery about Grace . Additionally, the letters left me distracted, which made it hard for me to connect to both the story and to Grace. That said, I did appreciate that the letters became a symbol near the end and revealed their purpose. I just didn't love that part of the writing. Once I was able to develop a connection to Grace, I began enjoying her story and getting to know the people who became important to her. Because of my love of tea and baking, I really enjoyed reading how she developed the recipes for the macrons and the daily running of the cafe.That part was very enjoyable to me and in fact, re-ignited my own love of baking. I also liked the locale of Macau.

The supporting characters around Grace were lovely and in my opinion were the heart and soul of this book. If I was to be brutally honest, I would have to say I liked the supporting characters more than that of Grace. Though as I'm writing this, I remind myself that flawed characters are what make books really good, so maybe I'm being too hard on Grace. This is one reason I've had difficulty making up my mind about this book. At first I didn't care for it, then it grew on me, then I really liked it but it had parts that definitely bothered me. But all in all, I would say I enjoyed it more than I didn't. I would encourage you to read it to decide for yourself. It is definitely one that had me all over the place. Please check out these other blog stops to read other reviews of this debut novel.

Author: Hannah Tunnicliffe
Publisher: Scribbner
Published: June 2012
Source: TLC Book Tours via NetGalley
Source: Scribbner and TLC Book Tours via NetGalley
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars