Category Archives: Books

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

My professor introduced this novel by saying “Tess will change your life… but not in a good way.” Without a doubt, it has made me question the universe and all who inhabit it. My hatred of the patriarchy (aka Alec D’Urberville and Angel Clare) still shines like the sun in the middle of a hot summer day, but Tess of the D’Urbervilles has filled me with a cold, dark despair over the injustice of existence. As if a college English major didn’t already have to dwell on that.

One day Tess Durbeyfield learns that she actually descends from the noble D’Urberville family. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under 4 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Panic by Lauren Oliver

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 2.5/5 stars.

Panic: a game played by graduating seniors in the dead-end town of Carp, where all contestants must face their worst fears – and each other. Heather never thought she would participate in Panic, but when her broken heart finds a new cause to fight for, she readies herself for the ride of her life. Dodge, on the other hand, does not feel scared of Panic; he wants revenge, and that thirst will drive him throughout the game. Amidst the near-death experiences thrust upon them by the judges of Panic, both Heather and Dodge will discover new things about themselves, each other, and those around them. Even though Panic entails a cash prize, every contestant, including Heather and Dodge, wants something more.

Panic possesses a compelling concept and an enticing book jacket, but I found the content lacking. Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under 2.5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

At this point I’ve learned that George R.R. Martin writes in waves. Even though this probably isn’t how real science works, I visualize his plot structure as a giant tsunami: he adds little oscillatory currents that contribute to a huge tidal wave, which eventually crashes down and drowns us all in the most beautiful and devastating way. Though this might sound like how all books function – with a rising action leading up to a climax – Martin spends so much time developing and honing the rising action of his story that the inevitable climax calls for a great deal of praise.

Like A Clash of Kings, A Feast for Crows serves as the buildup of the tsunami. Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under 4 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

Bird by Bird is my new bible. Not just for writing, but for life – it is my favorite work of nonfiction so far. Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under 5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars.

Is it every gay guy’s duty to get out of the closet? Rafe doesn’t want to deceive people, but he hates being “that one gay kid” back in his hometown. When he moves from Boulder, Colorado to an all-boys’ boarding school in New England, he keeps his homosexuality a secret and pretends to like girls – soon enough, he’s part of the jock pack, and he really likes it. But being openly straight isn’t as easy as Rafe thinks, and he feels the pressure when he develops feelings for his teammate Ben, who might be the only guy who really understands him. Continue reading

13 Comments

Filed under 4.5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

Here’s a secret: when I was 13, I wrote Naruto fanfiction. Even though it was pretty bad – and mildly inappropriate – one of my stories garnered over 600 reviews and hundreds of thousands of hits. Reading Fangirl flew me to my past life as an avid fanfic writer while reminding me of my present position as a college student.

Cath writes, reads, and breathes Simon Snow. Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under 4 stars, Book Reviews, Books

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

As someone who wrote an entire research paper on the importance of YA fiction and the genius of Laurie Halse Anderson, I own up to my bias. The Impossible Knife of Memory captures so much of what I love about young-adult contemporary and realistic fiction. It possesses a witty and cynical narrator, it delves into a real and painful issue, and it offers a nuanced yet meaningful message of hope.

Hayley Kincaid divides the human race into two types of people: the freaks and the zombies. Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under 5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Cover via goodreads.com.

Cover via goodreads.com.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

I literally gave myself a pep talk to prepare for this book. I looked at myself in the mirror and and whispered “Okay, Thomas. As someone who gets extremely and unnecessarily attached to fictional characters, all you have to do is turn off your empathy. Everyone knows that everyone dies in this series. Just force yourself not to care.” This dialogue took place after a shower, so I even wrote “no more caring” on the fogged-up glass.

And, yes, I still shed a tear at the end. Continue reading

39 Comments

Filed under 5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Find Time to Read? No, Make Time

Some statements addressed to me by friends, family, and other folk:

“Wow Thomas, I see you with a book all the time! How do you even find time to read?”

“Thomas, as a busy college student, you must really have no friends or no life to read as much as you do.”

“Why am I writing this blog post when I could be reading Game of Thrones? Why do I do anything when I could be reading Game of Thrones?”

Okay, the last one belongs to me – but I do have a sincere reason. Continue reading

34 Comments

Filed under Books, Personal

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thomspon Walker

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

The Age of Miracles details eleven-year-old Julia’s coming of age in a California suburb amidst the decline of the earth. The planet spins slower and slower, leading to gravity sickness, shortages of energy, dead birds, and more. In the middle of the chaos Julia comes to terms with the imperfections of her parents, the pains of an awkward adolescence, and her feelings for Seth Moreno, the boy down the street.

Karen Thompson Walker does not focus so much on the science behind the earth’s slowing or the slowing’s disastrous consequences. Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under 3 stars, Book Reviews, Books