Alexandra Plans

BY LEXI LOURIDAS

BOOKS Archive

Thursday

27

March 2014

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Book Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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For this post I will be reviewing Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Let me preface this by saying that this book is a definite tearjerker, so if you don’t want to find yourself crying, this book might not be for you. The plot starts out with Louisa Clark, a 27 year old who has had a rather “play it safe” life and has not gone beyond her hometown in England which serves as tourist attraction for those who want to see the famous Castle that is there. She’s been in a relationship with her boyfriend Patrick for about 7 years and has recently lost her job at a little cafe called the Buttered Bun. Her parents rely on her for income, as her father is just about to lose his job, her grandfather has Alzheimer’s, and her sister, Katrina, is a single mom still living with them. She has no other qualifications other than being a waitress and so an opportunity comes her way and she accepts a temporary six-month position as a caregiver to a quadriplegic, Will Traynor.

When she first starts, her and Will could not be more opposite from one another. Will had become quadriplegic in an accident two years earlier, but before that he enjoyed living an affluent lifestyle, involving extreme sports, traveling the world, and enjoying exotic women. Will had tried to push Louisa away several times, but with some effort and determination on Louisa’s part, they are able to develop an extremely touching relationship.

What becomes a blossoming romance, Will and Louisa are able to change the other in such positive ways and in such a short period of time. Will pushes and dares Louisa to push past her comfort zone and explore new horizons, while Louisa provides a happiness for Will that he hasn’t experienced in a long time.

This book deals with real thought provoking subject matter, as the real reason Louisa’s position is only 6 months (as she later learns) is because Will has decided to end his life via assisted suicide and promised his parents only 6 more months until he would go through with it. For Will’s parents, their only hope was to hire Louisa as she emanated a bright and cheerful persona that they felt would do the trick in convincing Will to change his mind and in giving him something to live for.

This is a heartbreaking book but Jojo Moyes does an excellent job at being able to balance out the deep subject matter with the light and witty banter that Louisa and Will share. I especially liked that certain chapters that were narrated by other characters other than Louisa (her sister, Will’s mother and father, etc.) as it provided added depth and different points of view.

All in all this book was excellent. It makes one question if they have truly lived life and what makes life worth living. This book beautifully illustrates a true romance and what that entails and it is absolutely uplifting. This is a book that your heart will not forget anytime soon. By far, an excellent, excellent read.

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Tuesday

11

March 2014

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Book Review: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

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Today’s book review will feature another book by Liane Moriarty, entitled The Husband’s Secret. This is the second of her books that I’ve read (read my review of her other book here) and I must say it was a riveting read. The story first starts out with a woman by the name of Cecelia, and her perfect life and family.. or so it seems. Her picture-perfect world is shattered once her husband, John-Paul comes home from a business trip. The two other main characters, Rachel and Tess are wonderfully woven into the novel, their characters perfectly developed and show how all three of these women’s worlds collide. Tess has just found out that her husband has fallen in love with her cousin and best friend, Felicity. Everyday is a struggle for Rachel as she can’t bear the fact that her toddler grandson will be moving to New York with her son and daughter-in-law.  In addition, the memory of her daughter who was murdered 28 years earlier still haunts her. All three women are experiencing some sort of upheaval and Moriarty uses metaphors like the Berlin Wall and Tupperware for sealing and keeping out their secrets. This is a book that questions the human conscience and as the reader and observer, we are forced to contemplate how someone can live with such a huge secret.

It’s a little difficult to write this review because I don’t want to divulge the husband’s “secret” or include any other spoilers. However, I can say that Moriarty does a brilliant job in showing that human existence can be complicated and that the choices one makes could really change the course of their life forever. In the epilogue, she brilliantly questions the “what ifs” each character could have experienced if they made different choices.  The Husband’s Secret is a compelling, thought-provoking novel that examines love, betrayal, forgiveness and redemption. This is a novel that I would highly recommend! Great read!

What books are you reading? I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Happy Tuesday!

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Tuesday

25

February 2014

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Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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Today’s book review will focus on John Green’s bestselling novel, The Fault in Our Stars. I decided to pick up this book as I saw a plethora of my students reading this book in addition to the fact that I know the motion picture is coming out in June.  Plus it’s a #1 New York Times Bestseller and although this is considered to be in the young adult genre, I want to make it clear that this is definitely a novel that an older audience can appreciate.

The story starts out with Hazel Lancaster, a 16 year-old, stage IV thyroid cancer survivor whose lungs are beat up and needs to carry an oxygen tank wherever she goes. In the process of her treatment she becomes clinically depressed and after much encouragement by her parents, decides to attend a cancer support group meeting. It is there that she meets Augustus Waters, whose leg was claimed by a malignant bone tumor. The two begin to get to know one another, when they realize they truly are kindred spirits and begin to fall in love. Although Hazel and Augustus share similar interests with most other teenagers, their dialogue is written at a higher and deeper level of maturity as their diseases have forced them to grow up a little faster than their peers.

To be honest, I was a little turned off by the premise at first, two teenagers dying of cancer — but the book is not about that. It’s more than about life and death but rather who gets caught in between. And in doing so, it touches upon many universal themes: Will I be loved? What legacy will I leave behind? How will I be remembered? I think this is why this book resonates so well with most who read it– everyone can connect with these themes in some way or have given it some thought. John Green’s execution of the answers is simply perfect in a way that is poignant, authentic, yet light-hearted. I’ll admit, I got rather teary-eyed at the end, because any reader would find it hard not to connect with and appreciate the relationship between Hazel and Augustus – a love that is so pure and real as they accept each other for who they are despite their ordeals. This is an excellent, excellent book for all ages.

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Tuesday

18

February 2014

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Insta-Reads: Book Reviews for February

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If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll notice that every couple of days I’ve been tackling a new read. I would much rather prefer reading a book then watching T.V. believe it or not, because since I was little, I always liked the idea of envisioning the story to my liking as I read and having my imagination come up with the details. In the past couple weeks, I’ve read three books and so I wanted to share my book reviews. You’ll notice I like lighthearted, comedic, yet thought-provoking books, with the main character having their cliche happy ending.

Book #1: Keep Calm and Carry a Big Drink by Kim Gruenenfelder

photo-6I had picked up this book while I was shopping at Target and it was featured in their “Favorite Reads” section. Of course I was drawn to the girly cover and once I read the synopsis, I knew this was my kind of book. I was unaware that this was the sequel to “There’s a Cake in My Future”, but that did not matter. You did not need to read the first one to know what was going on. The book centers around Mel, the main character and her quest to find true happiness. It also deals with the priceless relationships of having your girlfriends by your side, in this case Mel’s friends, Seema and Nic and the new chapter their relationships embark on as their lives start to diverge. Nic is very pregnant, Seema is about to be married, and Mel is faced with having to move out and an unsteady job. On a whim, Mel finds herself traveling to Paris {how romantic} and Maui {made me want to go back and relive my honeymoon} and how these chain of events ultimately lead to her happiness. The characters are well-developed and totally relatable and the author does a great job in capturing the emotions that women face – the uncertainty in what the next step should be, wedding panic, newborn exhaustion but most importantly, the joy one faces when they step out of their comfort zone.  It was certainly a delightful read and SO funny! I could not put it down until I was finished. Great book!

Book #2: Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

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After seeing this book all over the place with it’s eye-catching cover and it being a national bestseller, I decided to bite the bullet, pick up this book and start reading. I am so glad I did because I COULD NOT put it down. This book covers every emotion: it’s funny, dark, crazy, sad, heartwarming, etc. This book had a bunch of positives, well-developed characters, endearing moments, but most of all it was thought-provoking. This is a smart novel using different pieces of correspondence from e-mails, to emergency room bills, letters and even FBI documents to string together the story of the main character Bernadette and her husband Elgin and daughter, Bee. Bernadette can be described as agoraphobic, anti-social, wildly intelligent and a creative talent who has gotten off track. The story starts with Bernadette on the brink of a meltdown as she tries to plan a family trip to Antarctica, as a promise to her daughter Bee who has come home with excellent grades. The author, Maria Semple, is so cleverly able to string together all these documents to illustrate disaster after disaster that Bernadette manages to get herself into. When Bernadette disappears, Elgin and Bee are on a quest to find her. This is a story of a family accepting who they are, disfunction and all, and a daughter’s unconditional love for her mother. What would normally come across as a sad story, is rather comedic, witty and charming as well as a definite must to include on your book list. This is by far an excellent, excellent read!

Book #3: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

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I was intrigued by the premise of the book – the main character Alice losing the last 10 years of her memory after hitting her head in spin class and having no recollection of her 3 kids, her new life or the fact that she is divorcing her husband, Nick. She notices that her 39-year-old self is not as nice of a person and wonders where she lost her 29-year-old spirit and her love for her husband.  The story itself is very compelling but I did feel like it could have been 100 pages shorter. While they tell the story of Alice, which is told in the third person, you also have excerpts from letters that Alice’s “adoptive” grandmother Frannie writes to her dead fiancé, Phil, and excerpts of journal entries that Alice’s sister, Elizabeth writes to her psychiatrist, Dr. Hodges. In the beginning I found these excerpts to be confusing and distracting but it made more sense as I read. While I understand that these bits were included to add more depth to the characters, I felt that it greatly hindered the pace of the book. On the upside, I absolutely loved the ending and Alice ultimately becomes a better person from her bout of amnesia. As I was reading, I became a bit reflective myself. This book is a great reminder to hang on to the things that make you happy and let little annoyances go. Also, it can be amazing as far as what we choose to remember and what we want to forget. I would recommend this book with the caveat that it’s a slow read in the beginning and the excerpts are a little confusing but make more sense as you go along. Overall though, it’s a pretty good read.

What books are you reading now? I think my next choice is John Green’s, The Fault in Our Stars.

Happy Tuesday!

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