Looking for Alaska

Sorry for the delay in posts friends. Let’s just say it has been a crazy couple of weeks for this book addict, and sadly reading has been on the down low. But now it is once again time to resume my “addiction” with a surefire vengeance.

For my first book back on the blog, I decided to read a book from my never ending basket that I was guaranteed to love. Start back on a good page, right?

How did I know that I would love this book, you ask?

Well since I know you’re that damn curious, I will inform you that I have read from this author before, and he is a phenomenal writer, so it was pretty much guaranteed I would love this book too. And shockingly, I did. (That last sentence has a tad bit of sarcasm in it. Just a smidge.)

Thus this week on The Never Ending Book Basket I will be reviewing Looking for Alaska by John Green.

Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska by John Green (Yes this picture was taken by an A on purpose. You have got to love my thought process and camera taking skills, right?!)

Looking for Alaska has been on my to read list for quite a while now. I was eager to read it since I loved one of his other books The Fault in Our Stars about as a much as I will probably love my first born child. It was that good. I have since personally told at least 27 people to read it, as well as made my mother cry at least 5 times when I was talking about it. Yay me!

I think it took me a total of 5 hours to devour this book from beginning to end, and I was not disappointed one bit by this particular literary journey with Mr. Green.

Looking for Alaska is a book full of searching and finding, seeking and discovering, and of course looking and understanding. The story itself follows Pudge (nickname, of course), as he starts his junior year of high school at Culver Creek Boarding School.

Pudge is going to Culver Creek to find his great perhaps. (I am not explaining that one, so you’ll just have to read to figure out what exactly that means!) On that never ending search he comes across some unforgettable people, including one Alaska Young (real name, of course). Pudge is looking for a plethora of things in this story, but clearly very prominent is his seeking for some morsel of understanding about Alaska, and what is going on in that head of hers.

Alaska is his and many others enigma, and he is instantly enamored by her in more ways than one.

This book follows Pudge and his engaging cast of vibrant classmates, as they work their way through the labyrinth that is life at Culver Creek and everything beyond. Green does an incredible job of weaving a story about young adults, while asking and exploring some pretty tough questions that plague just about any generation you can think of. Looking for Alaska demonstrates beautifully what it means to be someone who is young, looking for answers, and seeking just a little bit of understanding.

The story itself is split into two parts. There is a before, and there is an after. I will not tell you much about what that exactly means for the story, but let’s just say both parts make for a remarkable read.

Per my usual format on here, a list of some of my favorite things in Looking for Alaska:

  • Alaska Young. Alaska is an extraordinary character, and probably one of the most complex characters I have ever had the chance to delve into. (And that’s after I read Gone Girl, with that crazy ass complex main character!) Alaska is like Regina George from Mean Girls in that she is decidedly hard to describe and explain. (That’s about where there similarity stops, but you have to admit clicking on that link and re-watching that clip was fun!) Despite my lack thereof description, Green does a fantastic job of weaving her and her spirit into the story flawlessly. Alaska is a paradox. Everyone is looking for her in some way, and what I found reading was that I was looking for her as well. I was looking for those little jagged pieces of her to put her all together. Was I successful with that? Probably not, but it was sure as hell fun attempting to put her magnificent pieces together.
  • The male perspective. This story is told from Pudge’s point of view. Being a 22 year old female, I was worried that it may be a tad hard to put myself in the shoes of an adolescent boy. (That perspective isn’t somewhere I normally go, clearly.) Surprisingly, putting myself in his shoes was easy as pie. Pudge’s point of view presents a realistic and wholly relatable perspective. Believe me, by the end of this book you will care for Pudge so much you’ll want to reach in and just give him a big old hug, and maybe some nicotine patches.
  • The plethora of pleasurable nicknames with one exception. Some of the just plain awesome nicknames in this book include: Pudge, the Colonel, Weekday Warriors, Bufriedos, and the Eagle. And of course there is Alaska Young which is no nickname, but shines just as much.
  • The laugh out loud moments. This being my second experience with John Green, I was not surprised to find I was laughing out loud frequently with Looking for Alaska. Whether it was from something Pudge or any of his vibrantly hysterical classmates were saying and doing, or from the multitude of pranks pulled in this book, I can honestly say I laughed about every 4 and a half minutes while reading. (That’s an exact measurement in case you’re wondering.)
  • The almighty word. While Looking for Alaska has many great words, Pudge’s talent of knowing the last words of famous people adds the glue to this entire story. These famous last words are dispersed throughout, and add a new dimension and sense of logic to what is being told. They make for some pretty unforgettable moments, and help all those looking for something find that morsel of something in some way, shape, or form.

I could continue this list for pages, but I will stop there because I am sure your eyes are glazing over by now with all this love. Suffice to say I LOVED Looking for Alaska.

Green presents characters that are wholly authentic and relatable, even if you would never think it going into that first page. Looking for Alaska is a story about looking for what is out there in the world and what is inside us, and attempting to find some kind of answer, whatever or wherever that may be.

This book takes on a story and a set of characters that will remain with you, and will remind you of what it truly means to be young and in that age of discovery that we refer to as life.

I encourage you to take this journey with Pudge and his friends as you go looking, because no matter who you are, where you come from, or how old you are, you will find something in this book that will truly speak to you. I promise, and I never go back on my promises.

As I finish off this post, I want to leave you with some last words and the quote that stuck with me the most from reading. I won’t give you a ton of context for it, but just know I think it accurately sums up a pretty important facet from Looking for Alaska as well as for life itself.

“Thomas Edison’s last words were: ‘It’s very beautiful over there.’ I don’t know where there is, but I believe it’s somewhere, and I hope it’s beautiful.”

Here’s hoping.

ps. If you would like to learn more about John Green and his self and books you can learn more at the following links. (Click on the links. Do it. I dare you not to love his books.)

http://johngreenbooks.com/ (His website)

https://www.facebook.com/JohnGreenfans (Facebook)

https://twitter.com/realjohngreen (Twitter)

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Belong to Me

Thank the lord for snow storms. Or more accurately, thank the weatherman for predicting 3-5 inches of snow and only producing about 2 inches of slushy ice mix.

Thanks to that 2 inches of slushy ice mix, I was able to enjoy a couple of snow days. (The ability to do this may or may not have been a driving factor in my career choice as a teacher. Just kidding, but it is a nice little perk.)

So thanks to the couple of snow days I have been able to enjoy, I was able to continue my never ending quest in finding the “end” to my Never Ending Book Basket by finishing yet another great book.

The book up for discussion this week is Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos.

Belong To Me

Belong To Me

This was the third book that I have read by this author over the past year. I stumbled across her first book Love Walked In, in my favorite used book store and was captured by the warm and inviting characters she created.

Fast forward almost a year later, and while perusing the shelves of another books store, I came across Belong to Me, which was a follow up book to Loved Walked In. I couldn’t pass up the chance to sink in with those inviting characters again, so I quickly added the book to my book basket.

Let me start off by saying that Belong to Me can be read as a stand-alone book. It does connect to Love Walked In, but you can connect and love this story and its characters without having read the aforementioned book. (Though I highly recommend reading both.)

Belong to Me is a story about people and connections. And believe me, you will feel those connections throughout every page of this book.

This book, like others by Marisa de los Santos, is told in alternating perspectives. This book presents the perspectives of three very different and unique characters. I’ll break it down for you easily:

  • First you got Cornelia. She was also one of the perspectives in Love Walked In, and is by far my favorite character in both books. Cornelia is not your average modern woman, and she is a breath of fresh air to this story and its characters. She quotes old books and movies, moves to her own little beat, and doesn’t give two shits about what people think of her. (Hence, why I love her character so much!) In Belong to Me, she has recently moved with her husband Teo to the suburbs from the city, and is busy navigating what that move entails as she is thrown into the shark infested waters of suburbia.
  • That’s where Piper comes in. She’s one of those above-mentioned sharks. I wanted to not like Piper, because she can be the epitome of a mean girl who says and does some not so nice things. By the end of this book though, Piper had weaseled her way into my heart. Piper is the typical mother, doing it all, while balancing taking care of her ailing best friend who is slipping away to cancer. Throughout this story, Piper tries to find the balance in her life while taking care of her family, her ailing best friend’s family, as well as trying for once to take care of herself.
  • Last but not least is Dev. Dev, short for Deveroux, is a fourteen year old boy new to the same suburb where Cornelia and Piper live. He moves to town with his mother, Lake, who has brought him here to attend a school for the gifted. Dev is clearly very gifted, and is a very smart and intuitive young man. Dev’s point of view in the story offers a look at these characters that as a reader you do not expect. Let’s just say, looking at the world through Dev’s eyes is very interesting to say the least, and will have you really thinking about what this wonderful boy has to offer to this story.

So there you have all three very distinct and wonderful perspectives of this book.

I won’t reveal too much of the plot line of this story, but again I will say that this story is about connection. It is about how people come together in the strangest of situations and times. Watching and reading of these connections throughout Belong to Me created an fantastic experience.

Reading how Cornelia, Piper, and Dev’s stories intertwine together is breathtaking. There is even a little bit of mystery to solve with their stories, as you try to piece together how all three of these characters come together and connect. And believe me, the way they connect is mind blowing in a lot of ways.

As per most of my posts, I will give a lovely little list of what I adored in this book:

  • The very well described and developed characters. As I mentioned earlier, I love the characters in this book. They are all warm and inviting (even Piper, eek!) and will draw you in immediately. The author does a simply spectacular job of describing and developing each character in this book, even if they aren’t providing their own point of view. By the end of this book you will feel as if you know each and every one of these characters, and you will most definitely care wholeheartedly for them.
  • The multiple perspectives. I LOVE when books are told in multiple perspectives. I think it adds a new side to the story, and provides an insight into the characters and the story itself. This book was no different. Each perspective in this book is different and unique, and provides further insight into the connections laced throughout the book itself.
  • Authenticity. This book and its characters ooze authenticness. What I mean by that is that these characters are described so realistically that I am pretty sure they could and actually do exist somewhere in some form. The feelings and emotions portrayed by the characters in this book are wholly authentic. We have all felt at one time what they feel. We have all been (or will be) in one of their shoes at one point in our lives. In essence, these characters are authentically real in every way.
  • The theme of connection. Throughout this book there is a theme of connection. I haven’t exposed all of that connectedness yet, but if you read this book you will so totally feel connected. Connection is a powerful thing, and this book presents connection at its best. It shows what happens when people from all walks of life come together, and find how connection can change them in ways that they never knew how.

In the end, Belong to Me is a story about connection. It’s about how we all connect to those we love, those we know, and even those we don’t know.

This story presents three very distinct characters who are all searching for that connection, even if they don’t know it yet. The connection they find will lead them to places they never knew they’d be, but where they truly do belong.

Thus, this story is about finding those who truly belong to you, and what it means to call them yours.

Belong to Me will have you reading and feeling that connectedness until the very last page, and in the end will make you ecstatic to know there is such a thing as true connection.

The Best Advice I Ever Got

I have a bit of a secret to admit. Some of you may know this already. Some of you may not. (And before you ask, I am not admitting to book addiction again. You clearly already know I have that “problem”)

I am an advice/self-help/inspirational book junkie.

I adore and savor books that have any kind of positive message, whether it be from someone’s own personal experience or a fictitious story.

And do not even get me started on my love of quotes. I have those everywhere. (I may even have a notebook full of them…shhh)

Suffice to say, I love books that offer one person’s advice to another. I love to read other people’s ideas about life, love, adventures, TV, family, etc.

What can I say? I am an optimist and I hope to live the best life possible, so I figure reading what other’s think might get me to that best life may actually help. I have my fingers crossed on that one at least.

So in my never ending quest to create myself a lovely little life, I decided to pick up the book The Best Advice I Ever Got by Katie Couric.

The Best Advice I Ever Got

The Best Advice I Ever Got

Let me tell you, I am very happy I did. This book weaves in a multitude of what I love best: inspiration, advice, great words, and of course thought provoking quotes.

The Best Advice I Ever Got presents many stories by some pretty amazing people. The book is separated into different chapters, with each one focusing on a different topic. Anything and everything is included in this book including topics that focus on never giving up to finding the joy in life. Each chapter begins with a story by the author, Katie Couric, which adds a personable touch to each of the stories that follow. The stories that follow come from a wide array of celebrities, businessmen and businesswomen, as well as some amazing writers.

This book is filled to the brim with words of wisdom.

Don’t worry though. It is a very quick read, as some stories are just a few sentences long, while others span pages. But each one is unique and offers a dynamic piece of advice or viewpoint that you will love.

I was so in love with this book, and all of its advice that I decided rather than say what I like and what I might not like so much about the book, I concluded I should just share some of my favorite quotes. (I also just truly enjoy sharing really great quotes!)

There were many great stories in this book, and quotes to choose from, but the following are some of my favorites:

  • In the end, your finest moments in life aren’t necessarily those in which you finish first but, instead, the times when you know that you simply gave it your best-when you did it heart and soul, and held nothing back. –Michelle Kwan
  • So live your dreams and remember, whatever you choose to do with your life, you must also be a citizen of you country, your nation, and our independent world. Because while our differences make life more fascinating, our common humanity matters more. –Bill Clinton
  • So get out of the harbor. The territory may be uncharted and the water may get pretty choppy at times, but you’ll be amazed at what you can learn, especially about yourself.
  • Never be something that you’re not. To live your life as an honest and compassionate person. Those are the most important qualities to me. Stay true to yourself. –Ellen Degeneres
  • A boat is always safe in the harbor, but that’s not what boats are built for.
  • If the world puts you on a road you do not like, if you look ahead and do not want the destination which is being offered and you look behind and you do not want to return to your place of departure, step off the road. Build yourself a brand new path.
  • Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it. –Groucho Marx

So there you have it. Now you know my junkie status of with advice books, and quotes for that matter.

Before I depart again to read another book from my Never Ending Book Basket, a few parting words:

Yes, self-help/advice/inspirational books are from one person’s point of view. It is that person sharing their thoughts and wisdom on a topic. While you may not agree exactly with what they say, be aware that each of us as human beings have a very unique perspective to share with the world. And that perspective should be valued.

We are all in this thing they call life together, so why not look to others to find a way to make our lovely little lives just a tad bit better and happier.

Until next time book addicts. Happy reading, and good luck on that never ending battle to find the bottom of your book basket. (Yeah, good luck with that. I only have about 1,000 more books to go….)

p.s. Remember, some of the quotes and pieces of advice we find are worth remembering, so be sure to write them down. It’s worth it!

This is a picture of my quote book where I write down any and every quote/piece of advice that strikes me. (It's almost full, too!)

This is a picture of my quote book where I write down any and every quote/piece of advice that strikes me. (It’s almost full, too!)