Book Review : The Gift

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Title : The Gift
Author : Cecelia Ahern
Genre : Contemporary, Christmas.
Pages (My edition) : 305

Where Cecelia Ahern is concerned, be assured of some kind of magic coming your way. She captivates you with her writing. Although not being able to connect with the characters of this book immediately, I found myself hooked as I moved further along. Though it’s not a classic Christmas novel, but it still celebrates the spirit of holiday season, the importance of family and their never-ending support in your life.

The book opens with Raphie, a steadily aging police officer, who is forced to spend his Christmas morning with this fourteen-year-old brat who decided to throw the turkey through his father and stepmother’s house, because of passionate hatred for them. Raphie, considering this boy as a lost cause, decided to tell this boy a story, a story of time, and family. His story starts with a Lou Suffern, a workaholic, a hot-shot businessman, busy doing everything to pay attention to anything. He is married to a lovely woman Ruth, and is the father to two kids, who he doesn’t know very well, since he is always at work. He spends every day bending the truth to avoid conflict and juggling all of his tasks, trying to be in two places at once, but not quite succeeding in it.
He pays as less attention to his family as possible, taking them for granted, and even if he does spend time with them, he is always distracted.

Enter Gabe.

Gabe is a homeless man, who sits outside Lou’s office every day. One day, out of charity, Lou buys Gabe a coffee, and decides to give him a job in his office mailroom. Little did he know, that his casual act of kindness would rebound on him with such impact.
Post that day, everything for Lou, changes. Gabe’s presence around Lou soon begins to unnerve him instead of making him feel Happy. Gabe has a strange ability to be in two places at once (Which Lou has always wanted) and in more control of his life than Lou has ever been. Also he knows more about Lou’s life and his family, than Lou himself! The world around Lou slowly begins to change.

I won’t talk more about the plot now. This might not just be the kind of book you’re dying to read. Personally it’s my least favorite Cecelia Ahern novel, out of the ones which I have read. I don’t understand why the part of Raphie is included, as in the end, the author seems to be directly talking to the readers than conveying the much obvious message through the story. Also, I was hoping myself to be emotional by the end of the story, but I wasn’t, due to the fact that Lou is shown as highly unsympathetic from the very beginning (somewhere in between I had the urge to slap some sense into him), and he has a sudden change of heart almost at the very end. He had been unfair to Ruth throughout the story, and I feel a lot of injustice done to Ruth’s character, infact his whole family. The best part of the story was, when Lou spends one whole day with his family and the great apology to his whole family, at the end.

Overall the story is heartwarming, and keeps the idea of love, friendship and family alive throughout. The story talks about the gift of time and family. And how all your family needs is love, and a little bit of your undivided attention. Of course they are with you till the end, no matter what, but if you start taking them too much for granted, even they can fire you. Cecelia Ahern, as an author, tried to light the whole book with magic, and little bit of fairy-tale.

“Time cannot be packaged and ribboned and left under trees for Christmas morning. Time can’t be given. But it can be shared.”

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Book Review : Looking For Alaska

ImageTitle : Looking For Alaska
Author : John Green
Genre : Young Adult, Contemporary

I know I know, you must think of me as someone who crazy reviews only John Green books. Frankly speaking, other books just don’t fascinate me enough. (That’s a lie. It’s just that John Green books leave me in such a fetal position, that reviewing them is the only way I can let them go, or so I hope.)
Obviously like every other teen, I started my ‘John Green’ journey with the famous, ‘The Fault In Our Stars’. Before that, I hadn’t even heard of John Green and his habit of ripping peoples’ hearts right out their chest and then leaving them lifeless for days thereafter. (Now I’m pretty full with that fact.)

To be honest, I read ‘Looking For Alaska’ last year around September, right after I had finished TFIOS. I was not even over TFIOS, that I was shot in my knees yet again, but I never really got the time to reflect upon it. Why am I writing about it now, is because a friend of mine finished reading this book, and he literally cursed me for making him go through something he wasn’t ready for. (I’m sorry, man.) And then I was like, oh yes, LFA, this is the book. I was going through the pages of the book once more, and I was rendered speechless, again. For one thing, John Green is a pure evil genius. (I might not stop saying this ever.) 6 months ago, I spent two nights in a row sobbing that how can one be so unfair, thinking of possibly all the rights he could have done to all the wrongs, good lord, even cursed him and I even bombed his fan mail(which I’m very embarrassed about). But now, I think he did what needed to be done, and I respect him for it. With that being said, I’ll move on to the story.

Miles Halter (Ironically nicknamed as Pudge) leaves behind a friendless high school existence in Florida to search for his own “Great Perhaps” and some adventure. Also, he was obsessed with learning the last words of famous people. Within hours of his arrival at Culver Creek Preparatory(his father’s alma mater too), he’s made fast friends with his roommate Chip – also known as The Colonel. Takumi, and Lara are also some great additions to his gang.
He also made friends with a girl named Alaska. Alaska was really unique. She absolutely loved reading, the sort who used to buy a LOT of books, but only read one-third of them. (How could someone not like her?)Also known as the Queen of Pranks at Culver Creek, she’s not the one to beat around the bush, smoked like a chimney, and quite unstable. She has flaws and annoying habits, but Miles loves her anyway.

Then came THE drizzle/hurricane metaphor. Just wow. I might have read that sentence just too many times, but I still remain in awe every time I do so.
Although I did have a basic idea of what this book will be about, but I didn’t know I would get so caught up in it. It was unbelievably humorous and witty. Especially that ‘mother-fucking-fox’ instance. Until the last day. The harsh reality of the book strikes you, and that’s when it all goes wrong. It all falls apart. Dammit John Green, I wasn’t emotionally prepared.
Like earlier times I’ve decided not to reveal the whole story, let alone reach to the spoilers.
It is safe to say that you will actually form a love/hate relationship with John Green after reading this book. That man is a seriously talented person. (Understatement)
I know this review might not sound THAT appealing or may come off as pretty normal, but I would say what any other reader would say, ‘JUST READ THE DAMN BOOK!’

PRO TIP: Stock up on some tissues please, unless you’re a motherfucking robot.

My Favorite ‘Looking For Alaska’ quotes : 

“So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”

“At some point, you just pull off the Band-Aid, and it hurts, but then it’s over and you’re relieved.” 

“I found myself thinking about President William McKinley, the third American president to be assassinated. He lived for several days after he was shot, and towards the end, his wife started crying and screaming, “I want to go too! I want to go too!” And with his last measure of strength, McKinley turned to her and spoke his last words: “We are all going.” 

Book Review : Paper Towns By John Green

ImageTitle: Paper Towns
Author : John Green
Genre : Young Adult Fiction

After reading this book I am absolutely sure that John Green is not only one of my favorite authors, but he’s also one of my favorite people. The guy is a GENIUS. Yes a CAPS LOCK genius. Him being that, ‘Paper Towns’ is one book I have skeptical views on. It kinda did not live up to my expectations. Some parts of this book are out-of-the-world beautiful, while some parts just make you go like ‘WHAAAT?’

And umm, by the way, SPOILERS AHEAD. (You have been warned)

Quentin Jacobsen is a senior in High School. He’s the son of two therapists which makes him (or so he says) the most well-adjusted teenager in the world. He has two best friends: Ben and Radar. Radar is not his real name, just a nickname that got stuck.

Then there’s the famous neighbor slash crush, Margo Roth Spiegelman. A girl with such a powerful personality, that you can only call her by her full name. Margo and Q used to be really good friends when they were younger. But then they grew up and Margo became popular while Q stayed just Q.

That is until one night, Margo shows up at his bedroom window in the middle of the night, inviting him to an adventure that he will remember the rest of his life. After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school (hoping to be friends with her again) to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part, mainly consists of introduction of the characters and ‘THE NIGHT’. I loved it. It was funny and spontaneous. It was nice to see the reunion of Margo and Q. The second part, the part of finding and deciphering clues, left me slightly confused and sometimes irritated.

A person, who a week ago, was so excited to finish his high school, and was looking forward to the last couple of weeks of his senior year and graduation, is compelled to look for a girl, who- later we find out- didn’t not even want to be found. He is pretty sure that he must be the one to find her.
He spends his time pouring over Walt Whitman’s ‘Song of Myself‘, trying to understand what Margo was thinking and where she could be. Luckily for Q, his best friends are all up for the adventure to find Margo. But when they aren’t, when they just want to be teenagers, Q is angry with them for not being more invested in the search for Margo.
I would have been okay with this, only if the ending wasn’t what it was.

When Q and friends finally do find where Margo is, they take a road trip across the country to find her. This part is very exhilarating, and makes you so excited since you spent two-thirds of the book gathering clues with Quentin. They go to this Paper Town, called Agloe, New York, where they find Margo literally living in a barn. I was actually happy she wasn’t dead or anything. You can’t rely too much on John Green for keeping the protagonist alive.

What I didn’t anticipate was Margo’s reaction to them finding her. I thought there will be frantic screaming of relief and a teary reunion. Instead it’s the opposite. She just stands there awkwardly. Infact the first thing she says is ‘what the hell are you doing here?’
The least she could have done was express her gratitude and that, if not her parents, then atleast there were others who cared about her.
It was very weird.
With every page nearing towards the end, I was like ‘no nooo it wasn’t supposed to end like this.’ I was quite sure that she wouldn’t be coming back home, but it still could have had a better ending.

Since I have already read ‘Looking For Alaska’, I felt that this book is very similar to it. Margo is very much like Alaska : Erratic, slightly selfish, hard to understand. In short, unpredictable. I’m not sure if she is supposed to be liked.

I read this book too fast, since it became impossible to tear my eyes off it. It felt as if the clues were for us too! It felt that maybe we’ll be able to figure out where Margo was before Q. So that made me go on. There was a lot of poetry in it though, and since I have 0 experience in it, a lot of it went past my head.
It might just be least favorite of my John Green books.

My Favorite Paper Towns Quotes:

“That’s always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people want to be around someone because they’re pretty. It’s like picking your breakfast cereals based on color instead of taste.”

“The fundamental mistake I had always made – and that she had, in fairness, always led me to make – was this: Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl.”

“Nothing ever happens like you imagine it will . . . But then again, if you don’t imagine, nothing ever happens at all.

Book Review : The Fault In Our Stars By John Green

ImageTitle: The Fault in our Stars
Author: John Green
ISBN: 978-0-141-34565-9
Publisher: Dutton Books, Penguin Books
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 316

Sometimes you read a book so special that you want to carry it around with you for months after you’ve finished just to stay near it. That book for me would be ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ by John Green.
Initially I was scared to face this book, as I partly knew what it had. I knew that it was the book in which the protagonist had cancer. I was worried about the sadness it had. I cry very easily, and I almost had to weigh the facts if I’ll be able to handle it or not. I just can’t see people suffer. And I’m so glad that my friend pushed me to read this book, because it’s far from disappointing.

This book starts very unconventionally. Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters (Gus) meet at a Cancer Support Group for Teens.
Hazel, who is sixteen, was diagnosed with lung cancer when she was 13, and is living on an experimental drug called Phalanxifor. She is nothing but terminal. This made her keep a distance from a lot of people including her parents (since she thought of her as a grenade.) She was afraid, that when she died, it’ll be devastating.
Augustus, a seventeen year old amputee is as charming and confident as ever. He was an ex-basketball player and loved playing video games. He always lost though, because he wanted to save everyone.

At the support group, their eyes meet, and sparks fly instantly.
Hazel cannot help but be friends with him.
Augustus falls in love with her at the first sight, whereas Hazel tries to stay reserved.

Little did they know that their life is about to change.

They come closer over the book called ‘An Imperial Affliction’ by Peter Van Houten (Hazel’s favorite). They have so many questions unanswered and decide to go to Amsterdam, The Netherlands to visit the reclusive alcoholic author.
However their meeting with Houten doesn’t go very pleasantly, but the rest of the trip is beautiful. Later, they also go to Anne Frank’s house, and kiss for the very first time. That’s where they are sure, that they love each other.

The characters, apart from Hazel and Gus, such as their blind friend Isaac, Hazel’s parents, Gus’s parents all play a very important role in adding perspective to this book.

They best part about this book is, it’s not sympathetic. It’s far from it. The interaction between Gus and Hazel is so subtle, that you almost forget that they’re sick. John Green knows the exact amount of emotion any situation would require and writes intelligently. He has a particular style of writing which is consistent throughout the book. It’s simple, deep and humorous, all at the same time!

Sometimes the humor is awkward and uncomfortable, coming from the people who were terminal. I was surprised as to how they could crack a joke, ignoring the grim situation they were in. John Green manages to take a cancer book and fill it with sweet memories.

The Fault In Our Stars was a book where I laughed, I cried and the beautiful quotes by the author took me by surprise. This book is not about the suffering of two teenage souls because of cancer, it’s about the thousands of happy and beautiful moments gained in their timed life.
It felt as if I was living with them. Their innocence and unconditional love was enough to keep me hooked. After a very long time I read a book which left me in pure awe. I was unable to put it down. And even if I did put it down, I just came back for more.

This book broke my heart, which I’m yet to fix.
But I’ll probably read it again, and again, and again.