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Welcome to Paula and Sarina's Book Blog! Avid readers, hard core fan girls of fictional literary male characters, proud library captains. We started this blog because of our love for reading YA novels and decided to share our thoughts on the books we read. We hope you enjoy our blog and contact us if you have any questions :)

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Sunday, 31 March 2013
Name: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Date Published: February 26, 2013
Grade: B

Goodreads Summary:


"Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.

"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused, then dead."
''I love you," Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

Review: After reading John Green's review of Eleanor & Park in the New York Times, claiming that he's "never seen anything quite like it", I was so unbelievably excited for this book. I was about to go on a trip and so I packed it in my carry on bag to read on the flight over because it seemed like such a happy, cute read- perfect for sitting on the airplane. I will admit, it was a captivating read and I ended up reading it all in one sitting, no bathroom breaks and no food breaks (which is a wonder for me). But when I turned that final page and closed the book, I didn't feel satisfied and I was left with a longing for more closure. Something in that book just didn't quite click for me.

I was wrong about one thing, that's for sure. While Eleanor and Park did have their happy, cute moments together that made me smile and go "awwe"... It was pretty dark read, tackling real issues that occur in the present world such as self-esteem, bullying, and domestic abuse. Although I wasn't really prepared for these issues to be in the book, I'm glad that they were there because it helped ground the book into reality. Even though it hurt my heart to read about these issues, they acted as reminders that life has obstacles and learning to get over these obstacles shape us as people. The contrast between the two households juxtaposed the different obstacles Eleanor and Park were having to go through. It was also adorable seeing Park offer not only his love, but the love of his warm, perfect family, to Eleanor. Another aspect of the book I really liked, was how both Eleanor and Park narrated the story, it allowed us to see their characters develop together and separately, in a magical, beautiful way.

One thing that just bothered me so much, and will continue to bother me if I ever do re-read it, is the fact that their relationship felt a bit one sided. I mean, by seeing things from Eleanor's perspective, we knew that she did love him and she did need him, but she rarely told Park what was wrong and he had to push so hard for her to let him in. Park would continuously tell her he loved her and yet she wouldn't say it back. It was so frustrating to read! I loved Park though. I loved his love for her. In the beginning, I admit that their relationship was painfully slow to read- It wasn't painful as in boring, it was painful because I just wanted so badly for them to hurry up and be happy together. When they were together, however, and when everything was going well, their relationship was like a warm cup of hot chocolate, so satisfying and sweet and heartwarming. Overall, it was pretty wondrous seeing this misfit of a couple fall in love for the first time together, and it made me happy to see how happy they made each other.

*SPOILER ALERT IN NEXT PARAGRAPH*

I didn't like the ending. I think that's one of the biggest problems I had with the book. Everything was happening so suddenly, and then *poof*- I was left with basically nothing. Kind of like a flame that just dies out, leaving no light behind at all. It didn't feel special in the slightest way- on the contrary, it felt boring and normal for such a special relationship. It was a bit depressing as well because throughout the book, it seemed as if Eleanor knew that there would be no "after" in their relationship. And throughout the whole book I had been silently cheering for them to be high-school sweethearts and get married and have a happy life and yaddiyaddiaya. But I was proven wrong, and Eleanor was proven right. And that is depressing to me. I might have been a bit harsh on my grade for this book because overall it was a lovely read with easy-to-love protagonists and for the most part, a storyline that made me feel, really feel quite a lot.

Thanks for reading!

Paula :) 

Title: Just One Day (Just One Day #1)
Author: Gayle Forman
Date Published: January 8, 2013
Grade: A- 

Goodreads Summary: A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay. When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines. Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels.


Review: I remember Sarina and I excitedly talking about this duet of novels one day during PE class, both swooning over the titles "Just One Day" and "Just One Year", freaking out about how cute the books will be and how much we loved If I Stay and Where She Went. So naturally, I was expecting quite a lot as I cracked open its spine, excited to begin my adventure with Allyson and *fangirls silently* this blonde, tall, european actor. Did he have the potential to make our list of most adorable male fictional characters? You see, I had high hopes.

Just One Day easily captivated my heart right away because Allyson was so easy to relate to; She had no idea what she was expecting of the future, she was only trying to please the people she loves instead of trying to make herself happy, and she would way rather be in her room watching movies than outside partying. By the end of the novel, I felt so attached to her and it seemed as if I were her best friend/sidekick, journeying along with her through the streets of Europe. One of the reasons why I enjoyed this book so much, is because I am, to simply put it, a teenager. When I read about her longings to be in love, and how she fell for the mysterious enigmatic blonde actor, and how she notices all the little things he does, I completely understood what she was searching for, or rather, why she was searching so hard to find him.

I hate to say this, but it was surprisingly hard for me to like Willem and as I was reading, I always felt kind of suspicious of him. Like, in reality, what stranger would spontaneously ask a girl to miss her train home and come join him for a day in Paris? I'm all for sudden moments of cuteness but I just couldn't seem to wrap my head around why Willem was so secretive of his family and why there were so many girls who recognized him and were eager to greet him. It was almost as if Forman was setting us up to dislike him? I felt as if I were Allyson's parents shaking my head discreetly thinking "hmmmm this boy seems like trouble...". The only part of the book I enjoyed reading about Willem was the boat ride where his excitement showed some young, vulnerability- which is always adorable  Personally, overall, he just seemed to lack charisma and I couldn't quite fall for him. The more I learned about him, the more I disliked his character.

As most reviews have pointed out, the theme of this novel is self-discovery. So even though I didn't really appreciate the romance Willem and Allyson had, I loved the book because it represented so much more than just a one day fling. That day in Paris with Willem wasn't about finding simply a boy to love, it was the start of finding who she really was. The rest of the book really focuses on Allyon's coming of age as she grows from a reserved, shy, unadventurous "goody two shoes" to a whole other person. Someone who doesn't need to hide behind the nickname "Lulu" anymore to be herself. One of my favourite parts of the novel was when Allyson decides to stop making an effort to keep the awful Melanie, her former best friend, in her life, and instead makes room for new people like the hilariously charming Dee, and her other room mates. By the end of the novel, I felt very proud of Allyson for being so independent, hard working, and self-appreciative.

When I finished the book, I had that familiar feeling of abruptness. The ending felt so quick and short and I wanted to call Gayle Forman up and be like "WHAT HAPPENS NEXT PLEASE TELL ME SWEET MOTHER OF GOD I NEED TO KNOW". But to be fair, I can't judge the ending like that because it isn't really the actual ending of the book, is it? It's the beginning of the next book. I hope that in Just One Year, Willem's character, as well as his and Allyson's relationship, is developed more. Overall, this book is one that will take you on a whirlwind of emotions, and I cannot wait to continue their journey.

Thanks for reading!

Paula :) 



Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Date Published: March 3, 2005
Grade: A

Goodreads Summary: Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. After. Nothing is ever the same.



Review: This book had been on my too-read shelf on Goodreads for many, many months now, and after reading so many reviews about it, I decided to finally pick it up and read it myself. It was truly an amazing, inspiring, and heartbreaking read, however, because I recently read John Green`s newly acclaimed novel The Fault in Our Stars (which I found AH-MAY-ZING), I put a lot of pressure on Looking for Alaska and my expectations of it were extremely high. Even though I was trying to refrain myself from doing so, it still felt as if I were comparing the two books; the characters, the storyline... It`s not like I was disappointed by the book, it still left me applauding Green thinking "Whoa. He has done it again, that talented talented man", it just didn't seem to pull me in as much as The Fault in Our Stars was able to. This being said, I think it is still a very special, captivating, book that shows us the power words on paper can hold. While most YA novels I have read lately contain themes such as the stereotypical teenage romance, this novel brilliantly tackles the ideas of belonging and finding a greater meaning in life.

The first thing I noticed right when I began reading was the fact that there were no chapters, instead, there are days counting down leading to an event. The book is divided in two parts, "Before" and "After". The structural purpose of doing this is pretty obvious once you read the sections, but I think there's a deeper meaning to it, something related to Pudge's coming of age and growth. I'll let you guys figure it out for yourselves.

Although I couldn't seem to relate to the characters very much, I enjoyed reading about them and found myself fascinated by their quirks, and their flaws seemed to make the characters more real to me. For example, Miles, also known as Pudge, memorizes last words and his roommate the Colonel is pretty much an almanac who knows all the countries in the world, and their capitals. And then there's Alaska. I'm not even going to try and explain her character because, well, I can't. She's one of the most dynamic characters I have ever met, and although she annoyed me the half of the time- with her mood swings and Jake, her boyfriend, she is also the reason why this book is so stunning. That's all I can really say about her character because I think it's hugely important for readers to experience her as they read.


Personally, I thought it was really interesting reading the book from a boy's perspective- It was adorable being inside the mind of Pudge as he fell for Alaska. Like I would be reading along and suddenly, a really beautiful, deep thought would pop into his head. My all time favourite quote, which is probably really overused and you've all seen it a million times on Tumblr, happens as Pudge stares at a sleeping Alaska, wanting so badly to warp his arms around her, "But I lacked courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunch, thinking if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane". *Sigggghs*. The only part of the storyline that I didn't like all that much, was how one-sided the romance was. I mean, after reading all about Gus and Hazel's unrequited love, it was sort of hard not having those adorable moments of two people hopelessly fallen for each other. Pudge and Alaska both seemed to always hold back their feelings (yeah, yeah she had a boyfriend... but still.) towards each other- whenever I sensed a romantic, cute scene about to happen, I was left sort of disappointed because one of them would fall asleep, or get angry, or leave. I guess that's just the romance craving reader inside of me.


I think this novel is one filled with raw emotion and power and I am really glad to have finally read it. Although heartbreaking, it wasn't *let me cry on my bed for hours with a box of tissues I hate the world* heartbreak, it was more of a satisfying *the world goes on and people go on and we just gotta appreciate what we have* heartbreak, as cheesy at that is. Looking for Alaska was beautiful and brilliant and touching and stunning all at the same time. Instead of the normal fairy tale ending most YA novels have, the ending of this novel will leave you with a much more powerful sense of love. 


Thanks for reading!

Paula :)