Tag Archives: John Green

Looking for Alaska

looking-for-alaskaThe Fault in Our Stars may have been the first book I’ve read by the insanely popular young adult author, John Green, but it was so good, it ensured it wouldn’t be the last.  Looking for Alaska made the journey to Boston with me, and I, for some reason, didn’t think that reading it on the plane would be a big deal.  It wasn’t, as long as you don’t have a problem with crying openly on a packed aircraft.  Once again Green has impressed me with his ability to connect with people.

You may be asking yourself why I keep reading John Green books if they all have made me cry, and it is a good question.  They’re just so stinking good I can’t help myself.  Although the New Yorker refers to him as “The Teen Whisperer”  his books appeal to a wider audience, because he doesn’t treat his Young Adult audience as people who don’t understand what’s going on in the world.  He treats them like intelligent, caring, individuals who are trying to figure out this life just like everyone else is.  (I’m a firm believer that anyone who tells you they’ve got it all figured out is either deluding themselves or lying).  He cares about his fans, and he’s forged a connection that is apparent in not just his novels but the rest of his public presence. (when you include social media, vlogbrothers, mental floss, crash course, press interviews, etc….it is a considerable presence)  He doesn’t assume that youth automatically denotes a lack of maturity or that age determines who is a “grown-up”.  This imbues his books with something special that appeals to a lot of people.

Looking for Alaska deals with issues such as struggling to find your place somewhere new, friendship, ambition, and grief.  I don’t know about you, but I struggle with these things too…still…probably always.  He approaches these universal problems with humor, truth and sensitivity that is appealing in a way that allows me to take something positive from the novel and apply it in my life.

An incredibly good friend told me recently that I’m not good at introspection…okay, an incredibly loud “HA” escaped her when I mentioned introspection. (She’s probably right since I’ve just decided not to look too closely at that “ha” for the moment.  Actually, she’s usually right, but don’t tell her I said that.)  Books like Green’s help me look a little closer without fear (mostly) and realize I could use more bravery to live in the moment and chase my dreams,recognize the difference between shoving grief in a big dark box and never looking at it again isn’t the same as dealing with lossand good friends can help you get through anything life hurls your way if you let them.  This knowledge is worth the tears.

I make this sound like Green’s books are depressing, and they’re not.  His characters have great senses of humor, and I find myself laughing far more often than crying.  Looking For Alaska describes a few great, intricate pranks I wish I’d thought of when I had the right audience for that kind of thing.  While the subject matter can get pretty deep, we are talking about a young adult novel, and Green definitely finds that spark to connect his younger audience to his characters and remind his older audience of what it felt like to be that age again.  Humor and fun are a huge part of that.

Honestly, while I will always recommend that parents read what they’re kids are reading for a lot of reasons (none of which include censoring what they read, by the way).  Even if your kids aren’t reading Green’s stuff, I would recommend you do.  His novels really remind me of what it felt like to be a teenager, the good stuff and the bad stuff.  With a teenaged niece and nephew, I realize that it is easy to want to protect them from…everything.  It is hard to remember how important the decisions I made for myself, good and bad, were in shaping the adult I became…am becoming…will become? (No one has ever accused me of being a grown-up)  Being thrown back into that mentality through these novels switched on a lightbulb for me, and stopped me from judging their behavior and decisions (most of the time) and I just started talking to them, free from advice (unless they ask or I can’t help myself), free from disappointment or scorn, and focusing more on just being a really good listener (even if I worry that I may bite through my tongue trying to keep from talking sometimes).  Also, skill with open-ended questions helps…occasionally.  Teenagers don’t always make it easy to talk to them, and remembering what I went through at that age helps me find solid neutral ground where we can meet from time to time.  Also, if they’re not reading the books, most of them saw the movie or have lots of friends who did…a common jumping off place isn’t a bad way to start talking.

The announcement was made that Looking for Alaska would also be adapted for the big screen.  I’m really looking forward to it.  John’s novel Paper Towns will also be adapted for film.  The same team that brought TFiOS to life for fans will be bringing Paper Towns to us on the screen as well, and after seeing what they accomplished with The Fault in Our Stars  I have complete faith them.  Of course, if you haven’t seen The Fault in Our Stars yet, I highly recommend it.

First Lines:

one hundred thirty-six days before

The week before I left my family and Florida and the rest of my minor life to go to boarding school in Alabama, my mother insisted on throwing me a going-away party.  To say that I had low expectations would be to underestimate the matter dramatically.

‘Til next time,

Jessica


The New Yorker, TFiOS, and Looking for Alaska

 

As the much-anticipated movie adaptation of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars opens in theaters across the U.S. tonight, I came across a great article about Green in The New Yorker, The Teen Whisperer.  It’s time to grab some tissues and head to the movie theaters!

I’m finishing up Looking for Alaska now, and I’m not surprised that it made me weep on the flight back from Boston.  I’ll review it for you guys later, but for now get your fix with the TFiOS movie this weekend.  I can’t wait to see it.  Maybe I’d better buy more tissues…

Okay?  Okay,

Jessica


Guess Who’s on Time Magazine’s Top 100 List?

There are so many amazing people on this list, but I’m only going to discuss a couple of my favorites.

First, have I mentioned how awesome John Greene is?  Like here and here and here and here and here and here and here?  Well, it turns out I’m not the only one who thinks so.  This month Time magazine named John as one of the top 100 influential people in the world.

In his bio written by Shailene Woodly (she stars in the film adaptation of The Fault In Our Stars, out June 6, 2014), she mentions a few of the awesome things John does, like best-selling author, vlogbrothers YouTube channel, VidCon, but there really is a lot more.  I could write about the reasons I think this guy is cool, for…a long time.  However, I’m going to let you see for yourself…as he talks about other people who should have made this list instead.

Another is Pharrell Williams.  Isn’t that the guy from that video you post incessantly?  Yes, yes he is.  Justin Timberlake wrote his bio and tells the world how Williams made him “fearless” after helping him with his first album.  Then he writes about Pharrell’s own music.

That’s what Pharrell does. He injects that vibrant energy into the music in a way that you can feel. Whether it’s the chord changes that remind you of another time or the melody that instantly grabs you, you are transported to another place. You smile, you dance, you clap along. His music actually does make you happy.  – Justin Timberlake, Time Magazine Top 100 Influential People in the World

I have to say Justin’s got it right.  I adore Pharrell’s music because it really does make me happy.

Malala Yousafzai is another on the list, and she is someone who inspires me to stand for what I believe.  She has amazing courage, heart and dedication.  As an advocate for girls’ education in Pakistan, Malala drew the attention of the Taliban.  Even knowing that her life was in danger, she continued in her cause. In 2012 a man came on to her school bus, asked for her by name shot her in the head at point-blank range.  She was 15.  Yousafzai didn’t let that stop her.  Since her recovery she’s gone on to speak at the United Nations and released a book last year.  At 16 she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Okay, so that’s only three out of 100.  A lot of interesting people made the list this year, and I definitely recommend you take a peek.  I’m still going through the list and all the bios myself, and it just gets more and more interesting.  Most of the people on this list inspire me to be more, to embrace life, to take chances, to do what’s right, and to be mindful of the impact my actions have on others.  I can’t say I like everyone on the list.  Some, I can’t say that I’ve heard of before, but I’ll not forget them now.  Who inspires or influences you?

‘Til next time,

Jessica

P.S. There is a distinct possibility of another post coming.  Make sure you look for it…or beware…I’m not sure which.

 

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Great Song For A Good Cause

Troye Sivan came to my attention through John Green’s Facebook page. Has a great song, titled “The Fault in Our Stars”, and it’s inspired by Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. If you haven’t read this book, go do it! It is a fantastic book, and the song is pretty amazing too. Here’s the best part though, Troye is donating all the proceeds from his song to his local hospital’s oncology department. How cool is that?

When I did my Random Acts of Kindness 2013 project, the response was great.  The part that still surprises me is that people think that others are not out there doing the same kinds of things every day.  They are, we just aren’t looking. Don’t get me wrong, we can all do more good things for people.  Troye’s inspired me to do something good for someone today.  I don’t know what it will be yet, but I’ll come up with something before the clock ticks over to Saturday.

What about you?  What good things do you see people doing?

Buy the song on Bandcamp – 100% of proceeds go to the PMHF:
http://www.troyesivan.bandcamp.com

‘Til next time,
Jessica

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Hey, Did You Know This About Dinosaurs?

Henry told John Green to make the video about velociraptor. It’s pretty awesome. I had no idea they had feathers. Feathers! (Also they lived in the Cretaceous period, not the Jurassic period. Sorry Michael Crichton) Apparently, they could jump about 10 ft, vertically. At Nerd HQ at last year’s San Diego Comic Con, Tom Hiddleston did an impression of a velociraptor. It was pretty awesome, and it makes you wonder how many times did he really watch Jurassic Park?

‘Til next time,
Jessica

Thinking Globally

Like many of us, the situation in Ukraine has been on my mind. As a country Ukraine (and Crimea) has been in the middle of a lot of conflict.  I was searching for a good way to put this current conflict in historical context (without writing more than anyone wants to read), and fortunately for me (and you), I came across this. Thanks, John Green. You did this much more succinctly that I would have.

‘Til next time,
Jessica
P.S. Sorry to have been gone so long!  I did not plan ahead for blogging while traveling.  I’ll try to do better next time, but, for now, I’m baaaacccccckkkk.

How Do You Say That?

So I have a problem.  It isn’t a big problem, but it is recurring.  The problem is I read a lot.  How is that a problem, you ask?  Well, let me ‘splain it to you, Lucy?  My vocabulary is rather…extensive, because I read a lot.  Some of the words that I know, don’t get bandied about very often in normal conversation.  However, I read them and I know what they mean.  I think I know how they’re supposed to sound…sometimes I’m wrong.  Sometimes, when you know the perfect word for a situation, you just go with how you think it is pronounced.   Sometimes, you ask your mother, who has an equally extensive vocabulary, how you say it.  Sometimes, you’re right…or not.  John Green tackles this in a Mental Floss video.  Commonly mispronounced words.

Tell me I’m not the only person this happens to.  Please?

‘Til next time,

Jessica


Things That Drive Me Nuts…Common Grammar and Spelling Mistakes

I grew up with The Comma Queen.  Grammar mistakes were often met with glib sayings that have stayed with me, (and end up uttered whenever faced with a opportunity similar situation) apparently, for life.  Did things like this ever happen to you?

Examples

Question: Where is the insert whatever you’re trying to find here at?
Answer: Somewhere before the “at”.

Question: Are you done yet?
Answer: I am not a turkey.  I will be finished in a moment.

This upbringing contributed to a healthy dislike of the misuse of the English language.  Not saying I’m never…as correct as I possibly could have been.  I have to think really hard about the difference between “lay” and “lie”, “who” and “whom”, and “affect” and “effect.”  Thank goodness for Mental Floss.  John Green talks about common grammar and spelling mistakes in this video.

This is my contribution to making social media a little less annoying.  Hopefully, yours too.

‘Til next time,

Jessica

 

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Have You Ever Wondered, Do Those Life Hacks Actually Work?

Do you ever wonder about stuff?  I wonder about stuff.  Like those life hacks that I have been inundated with online.  They sound really helpful!  I pin them on Pinterest, share them on Facebook, but I never actually try them.  Really what I wanted was to ask around until I found someone that had tested all this stuff to see if any of it actually worked.  Thank goodness for John Green.  I like John Green.  He’s a funny guy.  He also writes some amazing books!

He tested 30 life hacks found online.  Some of the ones that I was sure would work, nope.  Fail.  Others I was sure were pure fiction, actually work pretty well.  Plus, I don’t think I can ever look at Doritos the same way again…although, I may take them camping with me.  Just in case of an emergency.

Do you have any life hacks that you’ve tried?  Did they work?  Did they fail?  Is there video!?!?!  These are things that I need to know!

‘Til next time,

Jessica


Book Review: Finding no faults in….The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

TFiOS3

Recently, I read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  I didn’t even read the jacket, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into.   Do you ever do that? Truthfully, the cover is so eye catching I probably would have picked it up anyway though.  Don’t you just love that vibrant blue?  This was another internet find, see.  Pinterest or Tumblr…(I can’t remember which now) introduced me to this author.  He and his brother Hank Green have a YouTube channel, VlogBrothers and someone made a meme about “the Venn diagram of boys who are stupid and boys you don’t want to date is a circle”.  Here is the link to the whole video.

I loved it, and I completely agree! Down the rabbit hole I went trying to find out more about this guy.  Not only do they have the VlogBrothers, there’s the Nerdfighters and all this other stuff too.  Here’s a video explaining How to Be A Nerdfighter: A VlogBrothers FAQ.

Somewhere along the way I became distracted. (You know the dog in the movie Up? Some days my friends say I’m a bit….Squirrel!) There was a comment I read about this amazing book The Fault in Our Stars. Whoa, this guy’s a writer? Then I got distracted by something shiny.

firefly

I put the book on my to-buy list.  That was not the last mention of The Fault in Our Stars I would come across.  Everyone has a list of books to pick up next time they’re out, right?  Like a grocery list, but to feed the mind.  After a girls night dinner, I got conned into going to the book store.  Okay, fine, she didn’t so much con me as mention she was going to the book store and I may have begged to go along….just a little bit.  She picked up a book to read on her vacation and I got The Fault in Our Stars.  This did not sit in my to-read pile for long.  It was like the bright blue cover was calling to me, so  I took it with me to start while I visited my best friend for her birthday.

I owe my best friend a HUGE apology.  It should probably involve wine and possibly cake to convince her to forgive me.  See, here is the problem.  It was her birthday. (The problem was not her birthday, we are NOT that old!  The problem was me.) The book came with me when I visited for her birthday.  There may have been an entire evening…fine it was the whole night,  that I was engrossed with this story.  This was NOT THE PLAN.  It was very nearly physically impossible to put down.  Every time I tried, I got pulled back in again. (Just one more chapter…) The day began just fine.  I started reading just before breakfast, and I did manage to put the book down to cook the birthday breakfast of pancakes. (I make some killer pancakes!)  We ran around town, did fun things, and got some sushi for dinner.  Then after dinner, I picked it up to read a chapter or two while we watched a movie I’d already seen…and I finished it at 12:30 am.  No conversation, nothing, just reading, maybe a few exclamations or bits of laughter.  Fine, my eyes may have gotten a bit misty once or twice, definitely nothing interactive…with my best friend…for her birthday.  (She definitely deserves wine and cake.)

These characters….I mean, wow, they’re great, so well written, and REAL.  I just loved Hazel to pieces! Don’t even get me started on Augustus or Isaac.  They broke my heart and mended it all at once.  Hazel is so…. It is like trying to describe your best friend or your sister.  Every time I think of her, I get a clear picture of her as a person, but feel I lack the ability to accurately describe her.  Even if I tried, I couldn’t do her justice.  I would surely leave out a vital piece of her.  You simply must meet Hazel.    These are teenagers that are funny, sarcastic and irreverent.  They have the same tone that I hear when my 15-year-old niece speaks (the one that makes me want to laugh and roll my eyes all at once), and they are intelligent, fiercely intelligent.  It is all tempered with this maturity and an awareness of others that is far beyond their years, which is completely understandable due to the circumstances. Their stories are told with truth, humor and grace.

Although this is classified as a young adult book, don’t let that deter you from picking it up (or putting it on your book shopping list…like literary groceries!).  It tackles some tough subjects, and it meets them head-on. These heavy-hitters are all handled honestly and with care. Don’t let the tough subjects steer you away from this book either!  I’m really glad that I didn’t know anything about the book before I bought it.  Honestly, I might have delayed reading it, if I’d known in advance.  That would have been something I regretted.  I wouldn’t hesitate to hand over this book to my niece. (Convincing her to read more than her Twitter feed is something else though.)  She’d enjoy it and come out the other side changed…for the better.  I know I did.  That is the mark of a really good book, after all.  The Fault in Our Stars is definitely an amazing book, and I plan on reading it again  . . . soon.  There are some nooks, crannies and layers yet to explore here. (I did read it in less than 24 hours after all.)

First Line:

“Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.”

‘Til next time!
Love,

Jessica