Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Miracle in the Andes - Nando Parrado with Vince Rause (2006)

I picked this up because I wanted to read it ever since I read an extract. I'm sure you know the story; in 1972 a plane crashed in the Andes, and miraculously there were survivors who made it back alive. But the part that is  most publicised is the fact that the group resorted to cannibalism to curb starvation. Unfortunately when I was reading about the first time they ate human flesh, dinner was ready. Needless to say, I skipped the chicken and stuck to vegetables.

There was a book released soon after the crash, called Alive, with an account of the events based on interviews from the survivors. Parrado wrote this thirty years after the crash and it is much more personal and inspirational. I loved it. It shows that it wasn't written by a professional author, but in a good way - it has heart. I can understand that the cannibalism would throw people off, but it's not especially graphic and it's not mentioned excessively.

A group of 45 people (consisting of a Uruguayan rugby team along and their friends and family) were flying to Chile for an exhibition match. They pressured the pilots to continue flying and consequently the plane crashed in the Andes. 29 were alive a few days after the accident, and later eight more were killed in an avalanche.There was little food aboard and the survivors had to resort to eating their dead. After 72 days  two men trekked for ten days down the Andes to find help. A peasant found them and a rescue ensued.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Change of Heart - Jodi Picoult (2008)

Yup, yet another Jodi Picoult book. Promise it will be the last...until her latest book Lone Wolf comes out next week! 

Good book. Clare likes this one as well. I completely forgot the twists in the book, so it was even a good reread. 

Pregnant June comes home one day to find her husband, Kurt, and daughter, Elizabeth, dead, shot by their handyman Shay. Years later, she is now raising her other daughter, Claire, who desperately needs a heart transplant. Shay is on death row, weeks away from his execution. When he learns Claire needs a heart, he begs to be an organ donor, but the lethal injection will destroy his heart. Maggie, a human rights lawyer, takes up his case. This is based on the First Amendment right that everyone has the right to practise their religion, even prisoners on death row. She argues that Shay will not receive redemption unless his life is able to save somebody else. Meanwhile, June doesn't want the heart of a killer for Claire. She is eventually won over. Maggie has to take the case to court and get the judge to allow Shay to be hung, so his heart will still be viable. She wins the case, and Shay is hung and Claire gets the heart and lives. But it is revealed that June's husband used to abuse her daughter and Shay shot him and the daughter to ease her suffering.

Perfect Match - Jodi Picoult (2002)

I read it again because I love it. What would you do if your 5 year old son was abused, and the only way his abuser could be brought to justice was if your son testified? Having to face the man who hurt him in front of a room of people staring at him? Picoult is good at finding a question with no reasonable answer.

If you like Picoult, read this one. It's one of the best and keeps you interested for the entirety of the story.

Nina Frost is a lawyer who works with victims of child abuse. When her own son is abused by their local priest, Nina takes the law into her own hands because she knows the system isn't keyed to benefit the victim. She shoots the priest and is imprisoned. Further medical reports show that she shot the wrong man. A one in seven billion chance, he had cancer and his blood was that of someone else's. A visiting priest had abused Nathaniel. Nina's husband Caleb is disgusted and Nina cheats on him with her best friend. When the trial for the real paedophile begins, the priest is found dead. Turns out Caleb poisoned him.

Fahrenreit 451 - Ray Bradbury (1953)

I had to read this book for my English class. Though I was planning to read it sometime as its considered a classic dystopian novel. Somehow I doubt I would have been able to push through it if I wasn't being assessed on its content.

Ray wrote this on a typewriter that cost ten cents an hour in a basement full of university students. It's a great concept, but he didn't use it well! Censorship = good, burning books = good, a world that's hard to imagine = good. Using metaphors so excessively that the plot line ceases to exist = bad. There was a movie released in 1966 and below is the trailer, but its hailed as a love story, so I'm doubting the producers stuck closely to the text.

Also I found an amusing video summary:

Check out Clare's summary!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green and David Levithan(2010)

I'm continuing to read all the John Green books that could be bought in dymocks and even though this one was the last one they had in stock, I still think it's better than Looking for Alaska.

I really enjoyed this book, although the plotline wasn't the best, the characters were interesting and it was pretty hilarious. It was written from the two different Will Grayson's perspectives, one being written by David Levithan and one by John Green. Although the title may make you think otherwise, I don't think the main character of this book is either of the Will Grayson's, I think the main character (and coincidentally my favourite) is Tiny Cooper, a massively tall and fat gay boy who is just trying to make both Will's lives better. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good laugh, it's also got the right amount of emotion thrown in to make you think.

Will Grayson's best friend is Tiny Cooper, Tiny tries to set Will up with Jane however this only gets them into a fight. will grayson met a guy named isaac on the internet and goes to meet him in chicago only to find that his "friend" made him up. When in Chicago will grayson meets Will Grayson who introduces him to Tiny, who he dates for a short time before they have a rough break up. Will Grayson feels bad about fighting with Tiny and starts dating Jane and then makes up with Tiny. After his break up with will, Tiny's stage show, which he has been working on throughout the novel, is premiering and will gets lots of other Will Grayson's to show up and tell Tiny that they appreciate him after the show.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Looking for Alaska - John Green (2005)

I bought this book because I had heard a lot of amazing reviews of it, however I was kind of disappointed and I definitely liked The Fault in our Stars better.

The part I found most interesting in this book was all the last words that Pudge had memorized, they were all actual last words of famous people and I found them fascinating. The plot was pretty good, however I don't understand what everyone finds so amazing about this book. My favourite character was the Colonel, I thought he was hilarious and I really loved how much he cared for his mother. I would recommend this to any teen fiction readers, both boys and girls would find this book pretty entertaining, although it gets quite emotional in some places.

Miles "Pudge" Halter moves to a new boarding school to find his "Great Perhaps" the thing that he may find by abandoning his safe life to go somewhere that may be better or worse. Once there he meets and falls in love with Alaska, an eccentric pesonality that everyone loves. One night after they pull an amazing prank to get revenge on some boys, Alaska gets incredibly drunk with Pudge and the Colonel and demands that they help her leave without being caught as she forgot something really important. The next day they learn that while driving down the I-65 she hit a police car and died instantly. Pudge and the Colonel feel so guilty about letting her leave when she was that drunk that they become determined to find out where she was going and if she hit the police car by accident or on purpose. They find out that she was going to put flowers on her mother's grave because she had forgotten the aniversary of her death, but they don't find out whether it was an accident or a suicide. They decide it doesn't matter and they then pull a prank that Alaska had planned for their senior year which involved a stripper dancing in front of the whole school and dedicate it to her.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green (2012)

For the past month or so I have been watching vlogbrothers videos in all my free time and I finally decided to actually buy one of John Green's books so I could be considered a true nerdfighter.

I wanted to read Looking For Alaska first, however I couldn't find a copy of it in dymocks and my friend Helen told me that this one was her next favourite of his so I bought this one instead. This book had a similar plot to Before I Die by Jenny Downham, as it was told from the perspective of a teenage girl with cancer who falls in love with a boy. There are some major differences between the two books that make me like this one so much more. For one, the boy also had cancer which makes the whole whirlwind romance so much more believable, the characters were also much more likeable and the book had just the right amount of comedy in it so it wasn't too depressing but wasn't trying too hard. My favourite character was Augustus, he was so hilarious and so incredibly lovely and sweet that I couldn't help but love him too. I would recommend this book to any Jodi Picoult fans, or any people that like drama/romance books. If you don't want to read it because you don't want to read "a cancer book that will make you cry" I will give you the sage advice that John Green offers to people when they tell him that: "if you don't like this book, you can punch me in the stomach."

Hazel Grace Lancaster is a sixteen year old girl with terminal lung cancer, she meets Augustus Waters at her cancer support group when her friend Isaac brings him for support when telling the group he needs an operation to remove his cancer that will make him blind. Augustus is immediately attracted to Hazel and they soon start to fall in love and are brought closer together by Hazel's favourite book "An Imperial Affliction". They decide to go to Amsterdam to meet the author of the book, however once they get there they learn he is a big disappointment, however the trip is a success because it's where Hazel and Augustus admit their feelings to each other and they have many exciting travels while they are there. Augustus then tells Hazel that his osteosarcoma is back and it has spread to most of his organs, he is dying. Eight days before he dies, Augustus arranges to hear his own eulogies from Isaac and Hazel at their support group church, even in this moment of extreme sadness he is able to make light of his situation and make some pretty hilarious jokes. After Augustus dies, Hazel gets an email from Peter Van Houten, the author of "An Imperial Affliction", that has her eulogy attached to it because she told Augustus she wanted him to write her eulogy so he sent it to Van Houten so it would be written in a way she would like.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury (1954)

I read this today because it is my assigned text for my speculative fiction class in english and although it is said to be a classic in its genre I wasn't too impressed.

I don't know if it's because I read a lot of dystopian fiction, because it was a predictable plot or a combination of the two, but I found that the storyline was predictable and similar to other dystopian books I've read. If I had to pick a favourite character, it would be Faber, although I didn't love him like I usually love my favourite characters, there just wasn't really a stand out character in this novel. I wouldn't really recommend this book to anyone these days when there are books like Delirium by Lauren Oliver and Uglies by Scott Westerfeld which are written in a more modern and readable style with a similar plotline.

Guy Montag is a fireman and it's his job to burn books. At the start of the novel he meets his new neighbour Clarisse McClellan who introduces him to new and creative ways of acting and thinking that have been forgotten over the years. Clarisse is then hit by a car and it prompts Montag to steal a book from one of the libraries he burns. It turns out that Montag has accumulated approximately 20 books over the years that he wants to read, however his boss Captain Beatty comes to his house and threatens him about having taken one today. Montag then decides to go talk to Faber, a man who approached him in the park many years ago offering a book of poetry, they quickly make a plan to plant books in all the firemen's houses so there will be no-one to burn the books anymore. However Montag's wife tips off the firemen about all his books and Captain Beatty makes him burn his own house down, after he does this, Montag kills Beatty with the flamethrower and runs away to Faber's. Faber tells him to leave the city and follow the railway tracks to find a walking society that will accept him which he does. The next day, with Montag safe with his new society and Faber in the countryside, the city is bombed and completely wiped out.