Fangirl Friday- February 3

Fangirl Friday is a feature hosted by my friend Evil Eva over at Nancy Drew is My Homegirl.  It’s where we blab about the things we’re most excited about this week.  This is a very good thing.

1. Where She Went by Gayle Forman– Yeah, I read this last year before it was released. And then I read it again and slobbered all over my review (I actually said I wanted to marry this book which, now that I think about it, is still totally true).  I loaned it to my beloved Vee a few months back and although she devoured it immediately, she’s had it for like six months. I was having Mia and Adam withdrawals so she sent it to me (thankyouthankyouthankyou).  First of all, I breathed a major sigh of relief that it was in my hands again, proof that I may need mental help. And then, even though I have at least a dozen books I’m supposed to read right now, I read it again. And let me just re-emphasize: THIS BOOK IS SWOON CITY!  Adam, oh how I love you.  I will wear my Team Adam button with such pride.

Side note: Evil Eva, you need to read this, ok?  Do it for me. Do it for Adam and Mia (but mostly for me).

2. The Vampire Diaries is back!  I record it and watch it on Friday mornings. I’m probably watching it right now as you read this. Bring on Damon and them crazy eyes! I’m there!  EEeeeeeeee!

3. Winter the Dolphin– Changing gears here. My family and I watched A Dolphin Tale on Friday (and yeah, the hubs and I totally cried) and since then we have been obsessed with watching Winter the Dolphin on her webcam.  You guys, laugh if you will, but she is stinking adorable.  You can check her out here.

4. Sam’s Town by The Killers– Ever get stuck on an old album? That’s me most of the time.  This week it’s been Sam’s Town. Especially this song.  It makes me want to dance around my house. I’m playing it relentlessly.

5. Legend by Marie Lu– All I can say about this book is HUZZAH.  I’m a little more than halfway through and this shizz is awesome.  It’s like a dystopian Les Miserables, only not.

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’d Die to Meet

by Tee

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: Top 10 Authors (Living or Dead) I’d Die to Meet.  Not as easy as it sounds, mainly because it’s hard to name only ten. So here is my list, though I’m sure I’ll kick myself later for forgetting someone vital.

1. Meg Cabot– Ok, in actuality, I’ve already met Meg Cabot Goddess of YA Literature and Creator of Michael Moscovitz Fake Man of My Dreams.  And yes, before you ask, I babbled on about Mr. Moscovitz like a total idiot, even saying he’s better than Mr. Darcy (which he IS. I mean, hello. Ever heard of a sense of humor Darcy?) and made her sign my Forever Princess book while all the other ten-year olds waited to have their Allie Finkle books signed (my little one among them).  In truth, she was very funny and gracious, she took her picture with us and gave my daughter–who dreams of being an author someday–lots of advice about writing.  Still, I’d love to be her new best friend meet her again someday. Obviously, I’m hoping some of her awesomeness will rub off on me, but I’d settle for another picture and signed book.

2. Jane Austen– I know I make fun of Mr. Darcy alot (ahem, like in the paragraph above), but I love the pants off Pride and Prejudice.  The whole story gets me EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  And then, of course, there’s Emma, which is probably my favorite Austen novel because it’s so funny.  And Persuasion.  Can we talk about Captain Wentworth and his amazing, romantical letter at the end?  Swoon City!  Jane Austen found a way to be pro-female while still being humorous and romantic.  She, and let’s be honest, Mr. Darcy, are the standard by which romantic love stories/heroes are measured.

3. Harper Lee- Holy bananas, so do I need to say anything else except that she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird and, in doing so, created one of the greatest literary characters ever when she breathed life into Atticus Finch!!??!  And I’ve always loved that this beautiful book was written from the perspective of a child, rather than an adult.  It takes such a keen perception to get back to the innocence of childhood and to recall it so perfectly.

4. Charlotte Bronte- Two words: Jane Eyre.  Such a beautiful, perfect book that it has me on the edge of my seat with every reading, even though I know what happens.  Bronte wrote a great novel that was truly feminist (in a feminine way, meaning her character never had to revoke her femininity to rise above her circumstances) and showed me that even the most difficult circumstances can be overcome with grace and poise.  And she created Mr. Rochester, who I love like a crazy person (so like Bertha, only less stabby).

5. E. Lockhart– This woman exudes awesomeness. I mean, I don’t know her personally (sigh) but I love her books.  First off, she invented Frankie Landau Banks. Secondly, she wrote the Ruby Oliver series. She has a way of creating sweet, funny girls who, despite their insecurities (or perhaps because of them) are bold and lovable.  And funny. So, so funny.

6. CS Lewis– You guys, having gone to Christian school my whole life, I obviously knew about CS Lewis. As such, since everyone read The Chronicles of Narnia I, like a total idiot, refused.  It wasn’t until I was an adult and found out that the films were coming out (and seeing how awesome the first trailer looked) that I decided I’d better get on the ball and read them. And holy cow, I can’t believe I waited so long! I loved the story behind them (how he wrote them for his niece) and that they were sweet and magical enough for my young children to fall in love with, but interesting enough to keep my attention.  Beyond that, I read another of his books, Mere Christianity and was pretty much sold on him.

7. Roald Dahl- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was my favorite book growing up. I read it over and over and even now, watch the film quite often (the original one).  It wasn’t until my oldest child studied his other works in school that I realized how incredibly brilliant his books are.  Though Charlie is the pinnacle, there are so many fun, kooky stories.  His ideas were lively and unique and, even when I read them with my children, still feel as if they are magically transporting me.

8. Sarah Dessen– Girl Crush alert.  I love me some Dessen.  It’s not just that I think her blog or Twitter feeds are hilarious (though they are), or because she created Wes and Bert Baker (though they are both good reasons to throw Ms. Dessen some love).  No, it’s just because every time I read one of her novels, even if it deals with a tough subject, I want to crawl inside it. I love her words and am amazed at her talent.  Also, I heard she handed out whoopie pies at BEA and I’m very easily bought off by dessert.

9. Gayle Forman– Oh my goodness, I hope this woman writes thousands more books because I have absolutely loved her two most recent ones, If I Stay and Where She Went.  Yeah, I actually said in my review of Where She Went that I wanted to marry it.  Kind of embarrassing.  Hopefully if I ever meet her at a signing I don’t act like a complete idiot, but I’m not promising anything.

10. Judy Blume– You guys, Superfudge, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Blubber, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Are You There God?  It’s Me Margaret (the book that told be I’d get boobies if I worked at it.  It totally didn’t work, but it gave me hope)…  Judy Blume was with me during so much of my childhood.  Her stories made me laugh and smile and cringe in all the right ways and they made me feel as if someone understood me.

Gayle Forman owes me a box of Kleenex

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I love this gorgeous cover

Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, adoring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices.  Then, in an instant, almost all of that is taken from her.  Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the only decision she has left—the most important decision she’ll ever make.

Life is comprised of moments—both the exciting and the mundane— each strung together to form the intricate chain of our unique human experience.  Some pass quickly and fade from our memory, like picking up the mail or stopping to buy fresh bread.  But others stay with us and make an indelible mark.  Maybe it’s the scent of your grandmother’s perfume or the first notes of the song you heard on the day you met your high school sweetheart, but some moments never truly leave us.  And sometimes it’s the normal, every day things that become the sweetest reminders of what we know and love.

Life is like that for Mia.  She has everything; not in a brash, My Super Sweet Sixteen sort of way, but in the way that matters.  She has a bright future as a cellist, an incredible family, a cute boyfriend who adores her and big plans to attend Julliard.  Her life is full in its warmth and beautiful in its simplicity, in the goodness that can sometimes only be recognized through mature eyes— or in Mia’s case, by those who are on the verge of losing it all.

In an instant the life Mia knows it swept from under her.  A car accident destroys an average morning and Mia emerges from the side of the road,  lingering somewhere between life and death.  She watches as her parents are pulled from the wreckage , never to see her grow into a woman and she sees herself, battered and barely alive as she’s pulled from a ditch and rushed to the hospital.

In the time that follows, Mia witnesses those who are left of her family—her grandparents, her best friend, Kim and her boyfriend, Adam—consoling one another and praying for her to make it out alive.  Throughout this, Mia flashes back to her life before the accident; to the moments that at the time may not have seemed significant: reading Harry Potter to her little brother, meeting Kim, nerves before her first cello performance as a child.  And she recalls memories that forever marked her:  her first date with Adam, taking a trip with her grandfather, finding out she was to be a big sister.

She quickly realizes that she’s left with a choice.  Is the life she has left, a life that is uncertain, one she wants to experience or is it too painful to go on?  She ponders what she’s lost and also what she’d be leaving behind, knowing that either decision will crush her.

I read this book months ago and the weight of emotion I felt that day still prickles in my chest.  It was a novel I’d heard was excellent but had avoided because of the subject matter.  Who wants to read about a family killed in a tragic accident?  Who wants to cry their eyes out over the loss of life and unfulfilled potential?

But this is not the book I thought it was.

Gayle Forman wrote a story that throbs with love and heartfelt emotion.  Every word was beautiful and perfectly laid out.  And though I cried rivers while reading it, it never felt manipulative (like a Nicholas Sparks novel.  Sorry Sparks fans.  I hate books that set out to make you cry).    I laughed and smiled and swooned and cried because I cared.  Forman made me care.

It sounds so simple and I think that’s what is so brilliant about it.  The simplicity is what makes it real and creates a believable story.  I could see myself, my friends, my loved ones in the characters and could relate to the ease with which they lived their lives.  The result was not morbid, but almost uplifting because despite her tragic loss , Mia uses her memories to find the strength.

Through her flashbacks I fell in love with Mia’s life—her cool parents and cute little brother, her deep love of music, her way of being ok with being a little on the nerdy side.  And her relationship with her boyfriend Adam had me at hello. Their story is one filled with charm and swoon and real I’ve-just-met-my-soulmate commitment.

I really liked Mia because of the way she carried herself throughout the novel.  Her conflict in deciding whether to stay or go is not one fraught with hysterical screams or uncontrolled sobbing, though yes, she is rocked with grief and shock.  As she recalls her life and the people she loves and as she watches them grieve for her and her family, there are still moments of sweetness and laughter, moments of regret, and ones of aching romance.  And yet every one feels authentic and heartbreakingly real.

I love this book.  The very idea of writing a review for it intimidated me because I worried I wouldn’t be able to convey both how brutal and breathtaking it is.  And truthfully, I can’t.  Just read it.

Crush Intensity: 5/5 It’s amazing.

Soundtrack: There are so many great music references in this story, but none resonated with me like Mia’s favorite cellist, Yo Yo Ma.

Memorable Quotes:

…she said maybe coming back to your old life would just be too painful, that maybe it’d be easier for you to erase us.  And that would suck, but I’d do it.  I can lose you like that if I don’t lose you today.  I’ll let you go.  If you stay.” -Adam

“I watch him warm my hands as he has done a thousand times before.  I think of the first time he did it, at school, sitting on the lawn, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.  I also remember the first time he did it in front of my parents.  We were all sitting on the porch on Christmas Eve, drinking cider.  It was freezing outside.  Adam grabbed my hands and blew on them.  Teddy giggled.  Mom and Dad didn’t say anything, just exchanged a quick look, something private that passed between them and then Mom smiled ruefully at us.”
Don’t skip this one.  Just have a box of Kleenex handy.