Book Review: The Night Season by Chelsea Cain

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Genre: General Fiction > Mystery & Suspense > Thriller

(Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell #4)

Heavy rains have burst the banks of the Willamette River; several people have died in the furiously rising waters…but the latest victim didn’t drown. She was killed before she went into the water. Soon, other victims are found, and Police Detective Archie Sheridan realises that Portland has a new serial killer on its hands.

Reporter Susan Ward is on the story, but she’s got other leads to chase, and some secrets can be frightening for prying eyes. With Archie following a bizarre trail of evidence, and Susan close behind, the pair must unearth the identity of a vicious murderer, and uncover the truth behind a mystery more than sixty years old…

Book 1: Heartsick review     Book 2: Sweetheart review       Book 3: Evil at Heart review

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The flood was more terrifying than the killings.

Gretchen Lowell is nowhere to be found in The Night Season. Well, up until the last minute. And as minute her appearance was, it made me excited for the next installment of this series.

Philippines has always been an ‘unwilling home’ to typhoons, which almost always result in floods. I guess you could say it is nothing but a common occurence to us Filipinos. When the city of Portland was submerged in a flood they haven’t seen in ages, I understood it, how scared they were. And the terror was doubled when Archie Sheridan realized someone is using the deluge to get away with murders.

I saw little of Henry Sobol (I actually liked this guy), but got compensated with Susan Ward‘s maturing character, and increasing weirdness (she constantly mouths useless trivia, and I found it entertaining). As for Archie, I am starting to warm to him again. His defiance to not let Gretchen control his life was getting stronger. Just a bit more, and I believe he can defeat The Beauty Killer in her own twisted game.

Looking forward to the next book, Kill You Twice!

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THE NIGHT SEASON by Chelsea Cain

Paperback, 388 pages

Published 2011 by Pan Books

4/5 stars

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Book Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

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Genre: General Fiction > Mystery & Suspense > Thriller

“I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ.”

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her.

The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club… and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.

As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members–including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started–on the run from a killer.

Literary Awards: Black Quill Award for Dark Genre Novel of the Year (2010)The Crime Writers’ Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Nominee (2010)

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Trust Gillian Flynn to twist even the most sacred of all relationships. :))

To rank her novels according to my brand of creepy awesomeness:
1. Gone Girl
2. Sharp Objects
3. Dark Places

Paper clips should not be bought, among other things, according to Libby Day (and I love this about her). This kind of quirky thinking only solidify her already hardened character, that can only come from Gillian Flynn!

Add to that, Libby likes to lift things. As mundane as salt & pepper shakers, paperweight. Curious and curiouser, right? The complexity of her personality was amusing to discover. Libby is not likeable as a person, mind you. But she draws me in, with these little knacks that surfaced when reading her POV.

I daydream about dying.

Patty Day has very disturbing thoughts for a mother. Can you see it?! That line alone was so fucked up to think of, when you wake up and start your day, to take care of your four kids (and you can barely get by). Patty’s chapters are the most compelling, it drove me insane! (Could I think like her, if I were in her shoes? That is what I thought while I read her POVs.)

Ben Day‘s state of mind is disturbing, too dark for a fifteen-year-old. Annihilation. The first time that word burst from his mind, I got goosebumps.. it made me ecstatic! Right then and there, I knew it’s going to be a horrifying read for me. I have no love for Ben though. The bastard was spineless and a cowardly schmuck. Libby on her bad days has bigger balls than him.

When that fateful day (the Days were killed) was finally recounted, the tone of the novel went to downright nasty. It was difficult not to get emotionally attached to Patty =( My insides were in turmoil, but at the same time, I was so keyed up, excited to know who the killer was…

And that fucker.

Dark Places. Gory fun. Typical Gillian Flynn insanity.

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DARK PLACES by Gillian Flynn

Paperback, 538 pages

Published May 2010 by Crown

4/5 stars

Book Review: To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

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General Fiction > Literature | Classics

The novel that established Virginia Woolf as a leading writer of the twentieth century, To the Lighthouse is made up of three powerfully charged visions into the life of one family living in a summer house off the rocky coast of Scotland. As time winds its way through their lives, the Ramsays face, alone and simultaneously, the greatest of human challenges and it greatest triumph–the human capacity for change. A moving portrait in miniature of family life, it also has profoundly universal implications, giving language to the silent space that separates people and the space that they transgress to reach each other.

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Nothing on earth can equal this happiness.


I have to be honest: Reading To the Lighthouse for the first time: I got to 1% before I fell asleep. I have to change tactics if I were to finish it, that’s why I resorted to an audiobook. Thank heavens for it! If I was easily deterred by the boredom I encountered reading the ebook, I would’ve missed one of the most beautifully written novels there is.

…love that never attempted to clutch its object, but like the love which mathematicians bear their symbols, or poets their phrases.

Mesmerizing, isn’t it? 🙂

To the Lighthouse reminded me of Gilead, with the family theme, questions about life and happiness. Mrs. Ramsay likes to ponder about things, and people. Matchmaking seems a hobby for people in the early times! Her relationship to James early in the novel was stamped on me, searing and immovable.

She transferred to him what she felt for her husband.


James‘ POV was equally powerful, relentlessly brutal for a kid his age. Violent thoughts against his father swirled to his mind. But what pushes him to think the way he did? I found the answer in the end.

Chapter 19 is the core of To the Lighthouse. Its ending, so blindingly heart-clenching.

But then Virginia Woolf breaks my heart in the next part. She depicted life vividly, unconsciously real. And to compare a life in ruins to that of a dilapidating summer house? Dramatic yet effective.

To the Lighthouse is now a favorite.

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TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf

Audiobook

4/5 stars

Book Review: A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

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General Fiction > Fantasy

(A Song of Ice and Fire #5)

n the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance — beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. As they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.

Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister, too, is making his way to Daenerys. But his newest allies in this quest are not the rag-tag band they seem, and at their heart lies one who could undo Daenerys’s claim to Westeros forever.

Meanwhile, to the north lies the mammoth Wall of ice and stone — a structure only as strong as those guarding it. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, will face his greatest challenge. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.

From all corners, bitter conflicts reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all.

Literary Awards: Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel (2001), Nebula Award Nominee (2002), Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel (2001), Geffen Award for Best Translated Fantasy Book (2002), Ignotus (2006)

Book 1: A Game of Thrones review

Book 2: A Clash of Kings review

Book 3: A Storm of Swords review

Book 4: A Feast for Crows review

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I might be one of the minority who thinks that A Feast for Crows is better than A Dance with Dragons.

Jon Snow started strong in this installment. A show of strength and terror from the bastard to his fellow Brothers was remarkable.

Reek, Reek. My name is Reek, it rhymes with sneak.

My most favorite character! Oh, how tables have turned. And how cruelly fitting for a traitor like him.

Davos Seaworth‘s POV is like a seesaw, but always interesting. Either his actions are totally helping Stannis‘ cause, or ruining it. The way George R.R. Martin takes this secondary character to new heights, making Davos’ importance in line with those of the main, was awesome.

And what to make of Tyrion? A tiresome adventure for the Imp, but overall rewarding to fans like me. How far will his wits keep him alive? It is his chapters that made me nervous!

Jaime‘s chapter gave me hope. Seeing the character I came to love in A Feast for Crows was quite a relief. 🙂

Arya‘s chapters were not enough. It left me craving, craving for more. Her loneliness and despair is starting to get to me. Sigh.

Jon Snow‘s last chapter was the bomb. This is the reason why I cannot sit still for The Winds of Winter. I need to know where Jon Snow’s story will lead. The heartbreak is killing me. 😦

Daenerys? I hate her. What has become of the queen of dragons?!!! I am so indignant with the way she’s acted here. *exhales deeply*

A Dance with Dragons gave more frustration than satisfaction. And so the wait for The Winds of Winter begins. :))

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A DANCE WITH DRAGONS by George R.R. Martin

Paperback, Part 1: 690 pages | Part 2: 560 pages

Published March 15th 2012 by Harper Voyager
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4/5 stars

Book Review: Lover Reborn by J.R. Ward

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Genre: General Fiction > Adult Paranormal Romance

(Black Dagger Brotherhood #10)

Ever since the death of his shellan, Tohrment has been a heartbroken shadow of the vampire leader he once was. Brought back to the Brotherhood by a self-serving fallen angel, he fights again with ruthless vengeance, unprepared for a new tragedy. Seeing his beloved in dreams—trapped in a cold, isolated netherworld—Tohr turns to the angel Lassiter to save his former mate. The only way to rescue her is for Tohr to love another. As war with the lessers rages, and a new clan of vampires vie for the Blind King’s throne, Tohr struggles between an unforgettable past and a hot, passion-filled future. But can his heart let go and set all of them free?

Book 1: Dark Lover review

Book 2: Lover Eternal review

Book 3: Lover Awakened review

Book 4: Lover Revealed review

Book 5: Lover Unbound review

Book 6: Lover Enshrined review

Book 7: Lover Avenged review

Book 8: Lover Mine review

Book 9: Lover Unleashed review

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That’s right, buddy. Our future has come.

Blay is a user, so I love Qhuinn more.

This installment is second best to Lover Awakened. Naturally, Tohr is the next favorite brother, following Z.

Tohr is actually nice, and kind. Given the possessiveness of vampires in this series, I think he growled just once, and wasn’t that a joy! His true worth as a male has already been displayed in Lover Unleashed, and Lover Reborn is an extension of that. It was sad, seeing him torture himself over the loss of his shellan. It was sadder, seeing him fall in love with someone else but he cannot admit it because he cannot let go of Wellsie.

No’One was a surprise, but given her history with Tohr (and I love their back story!), it made sense. Her quiet strength unhinged Tohr, her submission wholeheartedly given to the male was something to be admired. But when push comes to shove, I am happy that she stood up and held her ground against that jerk.

John and Xhex are all over this book, as if I couldn’t get enough of their drama in their installment. Still, John bore witness to Tohr’s downfall, and it only goes to show that not all of the mating goes well once their installment has concluded.

But of all the pairings J.R. Ward has done, Layla and a very unlikely male is probably my least favorite. Meaning, whoever opposes Wrath and the Brotherhood, will never be in my favor, ever. Ha.

No threats of lesser here. Wrath is so badass, I’m liking him more and more as this series continues!

So now that I’m through with Lover Reborn, I’m so psyched for Lover at Last. Oh yeah!

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LOVER REBORN by J.R. Ward

Paperback, 617 pages

Published October 2nd 2012 by Signet

4/5 stars

Book Review: Rebel by Amy Tintera

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Young Adult > Science Fiction | Dystopia

(Reboot #2)

After coming back from death as Reboots and being trained by HARC as soldiers, Wren and Callum have finally escaped north, where they hope to find a life of freedom. But when they arrive at the Reboot Reservation, it isn’t what they expected. Under the rule of a bloodthirsty leader, Micah, the Reboots are about to wage an all-out war on the humans. Although Wren’s instincts are telling her to set off into the wilderness on their own and leave the battle far behind, Callum is unwilling to let his human family be murdered. When Micah commits the ultimate betrayal, the choice is made for them. But Micah has also made a fatal mistake . . . he’s underestimated Wren and Callum.

The explosive finale to the Reboot duology is full of riveting action and steamy love scenes as Wren and Callum become rebels against their own kind.

Book 1: Reboot review

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It was better than I expected! And that “off-with-his-head” moment was so awesome. 😀

I thought Rebel was better than Reboot. It could be that reading Callum‘s POV lessened my irritation towards him, because he’s an okay guy. Minimum sappiness? Check. Thank goodness!

Wren is still as badass as her number implies: One Seventy Eight. Showdowns between her and Micha were priceless :)) Her mentor Riley made his appearance in this sequel. This was the reboot who shot at her multiple times during training just so she can get over her fear of guns. He’s the reason why Wren survived HARC’s training. But Wren was confused, because now, he’s joking around her, hugging her, even! I liked him. He’s amused about Wren leaving HARC over a boy, a reboot under Sixty, no less! But in the end, he broke my heart. =(

I also like Gabe and Callum’s brother, David. These are only kids compared to the human rebels, and yet they understand more the need for humans and reboots to unite in order to bring down HARC.

Rebel is not lacking in action. Amy Tintera was not afraid to spray some blood, and break some bones. Having said that, I think Reboot series is a worthwhile read. I am glad that I gave romantic Callum another chance. Ha.

Oh, and this is a duology so, score!

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins/HarperTeen for granting my galley request.

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REBEL by Amy Tintera

Kindle Edition, 352 pages

Published May 14th 2014 by HarperTeen
4/5 stars

Book Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

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Young Adult > Fantasy

Half Bad by Sally Green is a breathtaking debut novel about one boy’s struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.

You can’t read, can’t write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.

You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.

You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.

You’ve been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.

All you’ve got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.

Easy.

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I cannot stop reading Half Bad. Brutal, hateful, but (that ending was) hopeful. Really good stuff.

The POV in Part I was very interesting. Using “you” instead of “I”, it made my reading experience unpleasantly real. It’s as if I was the one losing a hand because of some nasty acid, instead of Nathan. =) I easily adopted to Sally Green‘s cruel, magical world. A little subdued on the “magic” element, but it still worked for me.

Amidst persecution from the White Witches, Nathan persevered to live day by day. With the help of his brother Arran (I want a devoted sibling like him!), his sister Deborah, and his Gran, the Council’s oppression for a wild card like him was a bit bearable. When Nathan’s birthday draws near, and he awaits the Three Gifts that his bloodline will bestow upon him, the noose held by the Council grows tighter. Should he bear the unreasonable suffering, or should he run for his life?

I love, love Half Bad. It’s so simple – you’re different, so they fear you. But they will bully you into submission to disguise their fear into strength. But we all know that even good witches need to lose some damn steam.. like Nathan. 😀 Sally Green knows how to rile me up. I hated Kieran. I loathed Nathan’s sister, Jessica. I did not think of Mercury as a threat, though. Celia was a surprise, but a good one. And high five to Rose!

The value of a family and the strength that comes from its members are encouraged in this book. Nathan never gave up hoping that his father wants him as a child, and for an orphan like him, it’s all he has. 

The ending was good enough, the meeting between two characters in the midst of the battle was so cool, and so heartwarming!

*whispers* I haven’t read an absorbing magic-themed book like Half Bad in a while. The thrill of it!

P.S. Team Gabriel, anyone? 😀

(Attention to Jessica, Kieran, Hunters, Members of the Council… here’s me making a gesture of slashing your throats.)

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HALF BAD by Sally Green

Ebook, 416 pages

Published March 4th 2014 by Viking Children’s

4/5 stars

Book Review: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

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General Fiction > Literature | Classics

When it was published in 1955, Lolita immediately became a cause celebre because of the freedom and sophistication with which it handled the unusual erotic predilections of its protagonist. But Vladimir Nabokov’s wise, ironic, elegant masterpiece owes its stature as one of the twentieth century’s novels of record not to the controversy its material aroused but to its author’s use of that material to tell a love story almost shocking in its beauty and tenderness. Awe and exhilaration–along with heartbreak and mordant wit–abound in this account of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America, but most of all, it is a meditation on love–love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.

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Madness. Nabokov’s writing was exquisite.

Reading Lolita was a gruelling experience, because of my warring emotions. I should be disgusted, but I was not. I became entranced with Humbert’s absurdity that he calls his life. The idea of enjoyability despite the controversy of Vladimir Nabokov‘s story made my reading experience all the more compelling.

Lolita. Manipulative, shrewd, beguiling. She won’t get any pity from me. She’s clever enough to understand the situation she’s in with Humbert (and get out of it). Should I hate Humbert for his perversions? I am more inclined to hate Lolita for her falseness.

Humbert‘s portrayal of his love for Lolita is thought-provoking. Was he self-serving, struggling against the norms of society, or downright sick to be attracted to nymphets like Lolita? Those scenes where Humbert defends, justifies his actions to readers as simple acts o f a man in love, it was amusing. Crazy talk from him yes, but still engaging.

In the end, despair clung to Humbert like leech to one’s skin.

Lolita is riveting, once you see past Humbert’s sick mind. Temptation to fall for his machinations is great, given that Vladimir Nabokov wrote so tantalizingly, you would question the rightness to judge him.

*thumbs up*

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LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov

Paperback, 50th Anniversary Edition317 pages

Published March 13th 1989 by Vintage International (first published 1955)

4/5 stars

Book Review: Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald

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General Fiction > Literature | Contemporary

On the Battersea Reach of the Thames, a mixed bag of eccentrics live in houseboats. Belonging to neither land nor sea, they belong to one another. There is Maurice, a homosexual prostitute; Richard, a buttoned-up ex-navy man; but most of all there’s Nenna, the struggling mother of two wild little girls. How each of their lives complicates the others is the stuff of this perfect little novel.

Literary Awards: Man Booker Prize (1979)

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Penelope Fitzgerald‘s writing appealed to me: witty and direct, with a touch of dry humor. =)

The key to enjoy reading Offshore is to read it at a slow pace. I did it by reading 20 pages a day. Fortunately, it worked for me. It was a surprise to even like this book, but to love it? It was close to unreal (at least for me, since I am a YA reader most of the time).

I did not try to connect to the characters, but I like Nenna. And her wise-beyond-their-ages children. I found Penelope Fitzgerald‘s writing funny, if you know when to laugh. Her style made me think that there are things happening other than what I am reading from her words.

I found the marital conflict between Nenna and Edward entertaining. I mean, it was absurd (some things they fight about), but it happens in real life. And how they respond to each other because of those issues, it was funny in a sarcastic way. =)

I peg Offshore as one of those books I will read offhandedly (just to say that I read a Man Booker Prize). But when one character managed to creep into the pages at the last minute… well, well. That was a hopeful turn to an otherwise typical open-ended story.

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OFFSHORE by Penelope Fitzgerald

Paperback, 141 pages

Published April 3rd 1998 by Mariner Books (first published 1979)

4/5 stars

Book Review: The Fault in our Stars by John Green

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Young Adult > Contemporary | Realistic Fiction

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

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It looks like I still have a problem with John Green‘s endings. Still, I adore Augustus Waters. The perfect dose of medicine for swoon-seeking readers like me.

I was not ready to be in tears when I started The Fault in Our Stars. Come page 25, I was closing my borrowed copy and mulling about putting it down after my emotions calmed. That scene with her father, when she was near death, oh the heartbreak for any parent…! My unshed tears I kept in check, I was literally choking from it. =(

Then it dawned on me how JG can easily suck me into his gem stories.

I was okay with Hazel, but I was more focused on Augustus. His character was so vibrant, so electrifyingly alive! I was fully charmed by him. Augustus’ presence in the pages was so strong that I actually felt the loss when he’s not in it. Awesome writing, JG. 😉

I am happy with Hazel‘s admirable relationship with her parents. Because if there’s anything she needs, it’s the endless support and unconditional love she got from her mom and dad.

Whoever thought that a pre-funeral would be the best thing in this book? I loved every bit of it.

A little anti-climactic for me, but the ending was sort of joyous (triumphant, even) if you were to look it at a different way.

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THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green

Paperback, 316 pages

Published January 3rd 2013 by Penguin Books

4/5 stars