Category Archives: 5 stars

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

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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

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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

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The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

We despise spoilers. We avoid them at all costs, cover them with spoiler tags, and castigate those who share them. But a great book is one that we can appreciate even when we already know the ending. That’s how it was with The Song of Achilles: I knew the fates of the characters beforehand, but no matter how much I tried to brace myself, the last few chapters still broke my heart in the best possible way. Continue reading

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Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

Voice. That makes this book about the 2002 Beltway Sniper Attacks come alive. Told through the alternating perspectives of Cody and Lio, two boys trying to find their place in this world, Gone, Gone, Gone will cause you to squeal in delight even as it sucker punches you in the stomach. Continue reading

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The Meaning of Matthew by Judy Shepard

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

The name Matthew Shepard brings to mind gay rights, hate crimes, and a brutal death brought upon by ignorance. But in The Meaning of Matthew, Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mother, points out an important fact: Matthew wasn’t perfect, an angel, or a saint. He was human. Continue reading

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Light by Michael Grant

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

If there’s one series that captures my teenage years, it’s this one. I picked up Gone five years ago at the age of 13 maybe because Sam was cute, not like I knew I was into guys at the time and five books later I’ve finished the series, now as an adult. I have so much history with this series, and I doubt any sleeping aid would give me back the hours I’ve spent reading it late into the night.

If you haven’t read Light yet or the books preceding it, I’d recommend skipping this paragraph and catching up right now. Otherwise, the central story line of the last installment in Michael Grant’s epic series revolves around Gaia and her (its?) plan to destroy all who inhabit the FAYZ… and eventually, all outside of it, too. Every character joins in for the fight no matter his or her previous wounds or scars. The question remains: will it be enough to defeat the darkness once and for all?

As always, Grant’s plot grabbed me from the get go. Continue reading

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How Children Succeed by Paul Tough

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

As someone possibly striving to become a teacher, I appreciated How Children Succeed. Paul Tough variegates his writing style enough to keep the book entertaining without losing track of the message he puts forth – one way he does this is by including various anecdotes. He does not just share stories about kids who have suffered in the current education system, but he reveals parts of his own journey, such as when he dropped out of Columbia University.

Tough connects these tales to psychology too, by examining several pertinent ideas like character, conscientiousness, and what it truly takes to succeed in an academic environment. Continue reading

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Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

In 23 days I’ll be 18. That’s part of the reason why I’m giving Clockwork Princess five stars, even if it may not deserve all of them.

There were definite imperfections within the finale of the Infernal Devices trilogy. Some of the plot twists could have been easily predicted ahead of time. The characters leaped out of their personalities for the sake of the plot, and there was a repetitiveness to the story structure I found irksome (how many times can you end a chapter with someone screaming?) Also, that epilogue was pure fan service – I almost found it insulting that Cassandra Clare chose to include it.

But, through pathos, the book hit all the right points. Continue reading

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The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

As a pacifist, I did not expect to love The Things They Carried – a book comprised of short stories centered on the Vietnam War. However, Tim O’Brien’s magnificent writing won me over quicker than I could say “callipygous.” This book isn’t just about the brutality of war, it’s about the human condition, the emotions that entrench us in times of desperation and loss. There isn’t much more I can contribute concerning the book that hasn’t been said so here are a few of my favorite passages from it. Continue reading

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