The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

Oh noooO!!!  Too many feelings.  This review is going to be less intelligent and more an emotional outpouring of OH MY GOSH THIS BOOK.

I mean, the premise is fantastic.  Harry August lives his life, dies, and…is reborn.  As himself, same parents, same place, same situation.  But he remembers everything of his life before.  It turns out there are other people like him, and this is the story of how these men and women influence the world and each other.

It’s super cool and fascinating, and the structure allows for some amazing questions.  There’s the run of the mill immortal quandary:  What do you do to keep life interesting if you’ll never die?  Harry becomes a scientist, doctor, engineer, world traveler, etc.  He learns everything, he meets everyone, he gets married a few times in different lives to different women.  He is captured, tortured, and dies in a whole bunch of different ways.   Continue reading

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Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I heard this was a good biography, and I like Apple products, so I gave it a chance.  Actually, I got it at the library with three other massive books (this one clocks in at 570 pages) and I chose to read it first because I assumed I wouldn’t get past the first page.  I WAS SO WRONG.  I loved Jobs’ biography, for two main reasons.

Steve Jobs was a fascinating man.  Isaacson makes sure to let the readers know Jobs’ passion often turned into screaming fights and insulting appraisals of people’s work.  And yet…despite his frequent moments as a jerk, I wound up loving the man.  He was intense, brilliant, and focused.  When he saw something inadequate, in himself or in others, he did everything in his power to improve it.  Although this cost him some relational intimacy, those exact same qualities led him to revolutionize technology, not once or twice, but in every major technological division: personal computers, music, tablets, storefronts, phones, entertainment.  He was hard to work for, but 90% of his employees were proud to be on his team because he brought out excellence they never knew they had.   Continue reading

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

THIS BOOK.  Holy cow, it’s been a while since I’ve torn through a book in one day, but I’ll Give You the Sun was impossible to put down.  Art, mystery, family, love, grief–this book is absolutely beautiful, both in the way that it is written and in what it covers.  I’m still stunned.  This book shook me up, made me lighter, and weighed me down.  It even made me start thinking in contradictory metaphors.

I was skeptical of Nelson’s setup–she alternates chapters between twins.  This is a common writing device, but Nelson adds a twist.  The chapters told by Noah are from his 13-year-old perspective, while the chapters told by Jude jump ahead three years to when they are 16.  I didn’t know how Nelson could keep the plot moving if we found out in Jude’s chapters everything that was going to happen to younger Noah.  But I was wrong!  This worked out so well!  The hints and foreshadowing only made me more curious.  On top of that, Noah and Jude keep an incredibly amount of secrets from each other, and this makes their individual chapters all the more interesting. Continue reading

Flying First Class for the First Time

When I printed my boarding pass after checking in online, I was surprised to see the my seat number labeled “Check at Gate.” I didn’t think much of it, and the next day I worked my way through DFW to Gate E30. As boarding began and I realized everyone else knew their seat assignment, I went to the gate desk to ask for help. The man behind the counter looked at my boarding pass, said, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you,” and told me to sit down for the next few minutes. The minutes passed, and everyone had boarded the plane but me.

The desk guy butchered my name as he called me to the desk, handed me a new boarding pass, and said, “Enjoy first class.” I checked the slip of paper. Seat 2D. FIRST CLASS?? Hyperventilating with the sort of excitement that fears a cruel joke is just around the corner, I walked onto the plane. Sure enough, two seats from the very front of the aircraft was an empty seat. My seat.  Continue reading

The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle

OH MY GOSH THIS BOOK.  After I read the last page, I literally held The Hollow Kingdom in the air, shook it, and rasped, “I love you so much!”  It’s been a while since a story was so exactly catered to my interests, and I’m still reeling from its perfection.

I mean, first of all, the goblin kingdom is one of the coolest worlds I’ve read about.  It is lovingly detailed, full of vaguely argumentative doors, polite monsters, and pets with pets.  I loved seeing goblins through Kate’s practical English eyes; at first she can only see the horror.  But when she returns to the human world, she realizes just how attached she has become.  Hers was a slow fade into appreciation and love, which felt very real.  I, however, was more like younger sister Emily, quick to awe and adoration.  Continue reading