Top Ten Tuesday: Best Young Adult Series

As hosted by the Broke and the Bookish, this week allowed me to choose any genre I wanted. I read all genres and found it tough to narrow it down, however I have a lot of YA books in my repertoire, and thought to keep it to YA series, since I just finished Cress, the third book of Marissa Meyers’ Lunar Chronicles series. Even this is a little tough! I don’t include Harry Potter or Anne of Green Gables books, which usually fall under Juvenile fiction. I figured I’d give some other books a shot at being on the list.

Graceling#1 Graceling Realm Series, Kristin Cashore

These are some of my all-time favourite books, which I’ll read over and over again.

Cinder#2 The Lunar Chronicles, Marissa Meyer

I’m loving these fractured fairy tales! Retelling the Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White stories, they focus on a future time when Lunars, colonists from the Moon, threaten to take over Earth. Cinder is a main character throughout the novels, and the supporting cast are great entertainment.

Hunger Games Trilogy#3 The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

Even though the last two books are not that great, there’s still a lot to salvage; evidenced by the great movie adaptations.

The One#4 The Selection Novels, Keira Cass

Again, not the greatest writing, however I love the story that Cass tells here. I’m also looking forward to the conclusion to the trilogy, The One, which comes out in May!

Angus, thongs and full-frontal snogging#5 Confessions of Georgia Nicolson Series, Louise Rennison

I’ve only read the first of the ten books in this series, but plan on pulling the other ones out on the beach this summer!

Heist Society Series#6 Heist Society Series, Ally Carter

This is a fun little series of wealthy teens with abnormal abilities to steal high-security items from museums and other collectors. The relationship between Kat and Hale makes this series a page-turner.

Ender's Game#7 The Ender Quintet, Orson Scott Card

This one’s a little different. I loved Ender’s Game, merely enjoyed Speaker for the Dead, and don’t have any plans to continue in the series. However, I really loved Ender’s Game. So, yeah.

Vampire Academy#8 Vampire Academy Series, Richelle Mead

I expected very little from this series, which I judged both by its awful cover, and by the word ‘Vampire’ in the title. It ended up being very enjoyable, and main character Rose kept my attention with her spunk and tenacity. Her relationship with Dmitri didn’t hurt, either.

His Dark Materials#9 His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

Now 15 years old, this series was greatly enjoyed by me in the past, and is due for a re-read (which it hopefully lives up to!).

Wicked Lovely Series#10 Wicked Lovely Series, Melissa Marr

I only read the first in the series a few weeks ago. Marr creates a detailed world where Fairy royalty and other mythical creatures walk among us. I love the covers, and will definitely get around to the second one eventually.

Bonus! Least Favourite YA Series (From Best to Worst)

#1 The Divergent Trilogy, Veronica Roth

I don’t hate it, in fact I loved it the first time. Unfortunately the re-read didn’t live up to expectations. Looking forward to the movie though!

Uglies#2 The Uglies Series, Scott Westerfeld

Not enough interest there for me. But kudos for being one of the ground breakers in the genre!

#3 Chemical Garden (Wither), by Lauren DeStefano

Started with an interesting idea, then went a little crazy with it.

#4 The Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie

Again, started with a really cool concept, and made it weird and ugh.

City of Bones#5 The Mortal Instruments (City of Bones), Cassandra Clare

Though I never really enjoyed this series, it sucked me in to read all the books. There were a few too many things going on in this series, though.

#6 The Caster Chronicles (Beautiful Creatures), Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Not sure if having a male main character was weird, or not, but this book is just a little bit better than the movie.

Legend#7 The Legend Series, Marie Lu

It looked like it would be so good, and it just…. wasn’t.

#8 The Gemma Doyle Trilogy ( A Great and Terrible Beauty), Libba Bray

See previous entry on said awful book.

#9 House of Night Series (Marked), P.C Cast and Kristin Cast

I haven’t read this one! But I’ve read the back cover, and a few reviews and that was enough to turn me off forever!

#10 The Wolves of Mercy Falls (Shiver), Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver is one of the worst books I have ever read. Like in the top two.

Top Ten Popular Authors I’ve Never Read

This weekly meme brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish!

This weekly meme brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish!

For your enjoyment, I’ve lovingly split this topic into two Top Fives!

Top Five Popular Authors I’ve Never Read…And Don’t Intend To:

  1. Stephenie Meyer, for two reasons. 1) I’ve never understood the romantic appeal of vampires (or invading alien species), and 2) I just can’t spell her name. I had to look it up in order to post it here. Which is irksome.
  2. Leo Tolstoy…and pretty much all the classic Russian authors. Because if things like difficult spellings deter me, multiple family trees with complicated Russian names spanning years and hundreds of pages doesn’t sound like the ideal book for me. I would, however, venture into Nikolai Gogol’s short stories. But no promises.
  3. Stieg Larsson. I have no desire to read The Millenium Trilogy, and I’m okay with that. Really people, I can live without it.
  4. Stephen King. I get the heebie-jeebies when a piece of paper sitting on the edge of my desk flutters to the ground for no reason. This is not the author for me.
  5. Dan Brown. I’m 99% sure I’d like his books once I got into them, but aside from theological implications I’m not much excited to explore, they plumb don’t interest me.

Top Five Popular Authors I’ve Never Read…And Super-Duper Can’t Wait to Try!:

  1. Kurt Vonnegut. Somehow made it out of high school without having to read any one of his novels, and now I feel deprived. I think there’s only one way to find out whether I actually am….
  2. Margaret Atwood. As a Canadian I think this is a bit shocking, and probably plain rude. As I foray into more sci-fi, this may have to be one direction I travel.
  3. Also without a doubt, Ursula K. Le Guin. I have no clue where to start, but she’s always been intriguing to me.
  4. Robert Galbraith. Tee-hee! It’s sort of a cheat, but technically I have yet to get to “Robert”‘s first novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling.
  5. Markus Zusak. Who knows what he wrote besides The Book Thief, but still! Slouch authors don’t win awards.

Top Ten Bookish Pet Peeves

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This weekly meme brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish!

It’s been a while since we’ve done a Top Ten! I’ve kinda missed it…have you? I was especially excited to see that this week’s was a “rewind”: choose whatever topic you like from the past. And because I like complaining, I naturally chose my Top Ten Bookish Pet Peeves.

  1. Old book smell. You know that musty scent library books are famous for? I can handle a whiff, but when the whole thing reeks of dust and neglect, it kinda makes me question why I’m not watching TV instead.
  2. Continuing on the subject of library books: sticky pages. Don’t eat while you’re reading. Just don’t. And please refrain from using any public-use books as your personal tissue.
  3. Dog-eared pages. Chances are there are about five options for bookmark alternatives in your immediate vicinity, at any time. Unless it’s a text book you’ll never use again outside the final, keeping your place by the permanent defacing of the book is just lazy.
  4. The movie poster cover. This is awful for two reasons. 1) Because it means the book is being re-marketed based on creative liberties taken by the film’s creators, and not the author’s original creation. And, 2) Because half the time the people cast in the book look different and that’s just step one of not being able to imagine things for yourself.
  5. Generic titles. Lately for me this means one of the following: “Girl in [fillintheblank]” and “The [fillintheblank]’s Wife”.
  6. Weird character names. I like it when there are one or two unusual names, but when everyone has a name like Bonnet, Shoehorn or Trapdoor, with no rhyme or reason or symbolism, it gets real annoying real fast. Same with the opposite: a book with only Janes, Johns and Marys is probably an indication how bland it is.
  7. Out-of-control punctuation. Some writers are comma addicts. Some rely too heavily on parentheses. One just wishes those types of things might be tightened up and taken out during the editing phase.
  8. Inversely, Writers who use 100 words to say what they could in ten. Nothing is worse than a rambling novel, when the idea alone would’ve made a great novella (or even a short story).
  9. 500-pagers in hardcover. I like fat books until they fall on my face while I doze off in bed. Those are the times I really wish there was some sort of lighter invention I could use to read books. Oh, wait…they’re called electronic readers. But that leads me to my latest, greatest pet peeve….
  10. Wait lists for e-books. I would like all those libraries with a cyber component to know: there is no reason for this! What is the age of technology for, if not instant gratification?!

Don’t forget to share your biggest book hang-ups below. Now’s our chance to commiserate together!

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2013

Okay, so even though I’m not going to make it to my rather pedestrian goal of reading 52 books this year – I’m only at 31 – I’d still put this year down as an adventurous one. I tried out a lot of new authors! Some where bad, but most of them were good. Here are my personal top ten, in no particular order.

The Ones That Made Me Swoon:

Random House, 2012, 294 pages

  • Anne Fortier – I read her only book so far, JulietNext up: The Lost Sisterhood, due for publication in March 2014.
  • Sara Gruen – Water for Elephants, which I love, love, loved. Next up: I don’t care about horses much, so probably not the Riding Lessons series. Ape House will do. I love how this woman puts animals in all her titles!
  • Karen Thompson Walker – The Age of MiraclesThis book had it all for me. It makes me sad that my mom and sister both didn’t care for it much, because I’m almost tempted to call it my favourite book of the year. Next up: whatever she writes next! I eagerly await a second book from this new author.

Tundra Books, 2010, 229 pages

The Ones That Made Me Laugh:

  • Susin Nielson – Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom. I just love books that make me laugh out loud! Next up: Word Nerd.
  • Maureen Johnson – I read 13 Little Blue Envelopes and The Name of the Star. Next up: probably whatever I can get my hands on. I really would like to read The Last Little Blue Envelope, though.
  • Tim Tharp – I read The Spectacular Now [review pending], just one of his five books that all look equally awesome. Next up: either Badd or Mojo.

The Ones That Made Me Think:

Bloomsbury USA, 2006, 272 pages

  • Michael Crichton – Jurassic ParkNext up: The Lost World.
  • Jim Lynch – The Highest Tidewhich I snarfed up in just a couple beach days. Next up: whichever of his books I stumble upon next at the library.
  • Mark Dunn – Ella Minnow Pea. Next up: Ibid, a novel about a three-legged circus performer, written entirely in footnotes. I have a feeling this guy writes good “filler fiction” – you know, when you need something fluffy in between longer books?
  • John Corey Whaley – Where Things Come Back. Next up: Whaley’s second book, Noggin, which comes out April 2014.

Top Ten Books on Our Winter TBR

This meme is brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish!

Kaite’s 5:

  1. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything by Chris Hadfield
  2. Cress by Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles #3) – In which Rapunzel is a hacker trapped in a satellite.
  3. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
  4. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – A man returning to his childhood town confronts a frightening past.
  5. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – A genetics professor goes on a quest to see if he is capable of true love.
Deborah’s 5:
  1. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler – Family drama with a monkey thrown in for good measure.
  2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith – A classic American coming-of-age taking place in the slums of Brooklyn.
  3. This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitin
  4. The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan – Exploring the life of one of Degas’ real-life models, and a notorious criminal trial from 1800s Paris.
  5. Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle – three shorter YA stories perfectly suited for the season!

Top Ten Unusual Character Names

This weekly meme brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish!

This weekly meme brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish!

Boy did we have fun making this list! At first it was harder than it might seem,  because all we could come up with were Harry Potter characters. After a bit of thought, however, I think Kaite and I have formed a pretty respectable list of unusual monikers – all from books you’ve heard of, and mostly off the tops of our heads.

  1. Let’s get them out of the way: Neville Longbottom, Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape, Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, heck – even Peeves! The list of hilarious and inventive HP names goes on and on, but alas, there is more to life than Harry Potter.

    Atticus & Scout in the 1962 Robert Mulligan film.

  2. From To Kill a Mockingbird: Atticus Finch (not to mention his kids, Scout, Gem, and their friend Dill).
  3. From the Millenium Trilogy (AKA: the girl who did various unrecommended things): Lisbeth Salander. Always makes me think of a salamander.

    Effie Trinket

  4. From The Hunger Games: Let’s be honest, it took all of us some convincing before we got used to names like “Katniss”, “Peeta”, and “Haymitch”. But the one who takes the cake (and usually looks like one, too) is Effie Trinket.
  5. From A Song of Ice and Fire (AKA: A Game of Thrones): Daenerys Targaryen, Sansa, Bran…
  6. From our childhoods, a name as wild and unruly as the legendary girl herself: Pippi Longstocking. I love her so much I named my cat after her. Like the fictional character, she answers to nobody.
  7. From Looking For Alaska: Alaska! Her parents rigged it so that she got to choose a name for herself as a young child, which is unusual in itself. I’m just glad they didn’t end up with a daughter named Oklahoma.
  8. From The Help: Okay, it’s not so bad since it’s only a nickname, but “Skeeter” Phelan shouldn’t have let that one slide. It sort of disproves that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Then again, the given name of “Eugenia” isn’t much better. Girl had it bad from the beginning…no wonder everyone thought she was plain.
  9. And whilst I quote the Bard, I should point out that Shakespeare also coined some very unusual names. To name a few which he did not (I hope) take from myth or history: Nick Bottom, Lord Bigot, Dogberry, Dull, Feeble, Froth, Mouldy, Mustardseed, Tom Snout, Wart. Most of these are from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and one of the Henry’s, in which case old Shakey was really on a role. Now, I just got most of these from a list on Wikipedia, but mad respect if anyone out there can tell me which plays all these characters are from, without running a search. 😉
  10. From Ella Minnow Pea: Ella Minnow Pea. A silly name in a silly book. Look for the review here soon!

Let us know which characters you thought up!

Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR List

This meme is brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish!

This meme is brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish!

I’m never up to date about what books are coming out, the way I am with movies. There really ought to be book previews on television, don’t you think? Then again, I think most of today’s movies are ideas that came from books! In fact, that may be the pattern you notice in today’s list, Top Ten Books On My Fall 2013 TBR* List. I’m really not that specific though, so let’s call this my top ten “hope to get around to it” titles, in no particular order.

For Teens:

  1. Allegiant! The final book in Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy comes out October 22, the only book on this list that isn’t yet in stores.
  2. The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp. I can’t determine if this teeny-bopper boy-book will be awful or cool, but obviously I like Shailene Woodley, so before I let myself watch the movie I should probably try the book.
  3. If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Some girl gets in an accident, and from her out-of-body consciousness has to decide if she should die or “stay”. What can I say? They’re making it a movie with the surprisingly complex tween actress Chloë Grace Moretz, and I wish to see it. Therefore, it’s TBR.
  4. Ender’s Game, the classic sci-fi for younger readers by Orson Scott Card. No, no, I haven’t read it yet, don’t bite my head off! Not surprisingly, it’s now a movie that I want to see. Sensing a pattern here? I think it’s the last one on this list.
  5. Paper Towns by John Green. The only John Green I haven’t yet read. I know it won’t be as good as TFiOS, but who cares! Not taking his insta-classic into account, this author still churns out consistently high-quality YA.

For Adults:

  1. Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. “It was a pleasure to burn” and all that jazz. I have high hopes for one day making it past the first sentence.
  2. Juliet by Anne Fortier, because I bought it at a thrift store for a buck, and I think it sounds like the perfect little romance for reading by the fire on a rainy fall’s eve.
  3. The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. I see this book everywhere, and it’s romance, and it’s the ocean, so what the heck am I waiting for? Maybe Winter.
  4. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. I don’t remember what it’s about, but I trust this author and 100% know that I will like it.
  5. Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick. Having lived in South Korea, I really want to read this journalist-written non-fiction, which I’m told is our most accurate current portrait of what life is like in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. I’m scared about what I might learn, but that probably means I should.

What are you excited to read this fall? Have Your Say below!

*”TBR” can mean lots of things, including such useful phrases as “Truck Bus Race-car” or “Taco Bell Run”, or any one of these. However, for the purposes of this blog it means “To Be Read”. Consider yourself informed.

Topics that Keep Me From Reading a Book

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This weekly meme brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish!

There are not many topics I won’t read about, as long as they’re well-researched and creatively approached. But even I must draw the line somewhere! Following is my list of words, topics, and types of books I generally steer clear of.

Soft Cover Romance Novels. I once made the mistake of downloading one of the Outlander books from my online library. Now every time I log in to my account my “Recommended for You” section is filled with such winning titles as Bedding a Highlander and Never Trust a Scoundrel. Just no.

Amish Romance Novels. Inside (and out of) the Christian publishing world these have blown up over the last few years. Trendiness is the main reason I don’t touch them, but here’s the real deal: I can understand why “the simple life” and a more “moral” take on romance is so appealing, but the reality is that most Amish themselves would find these novels at best highly inaccurate or at worst, offensive. “Write what you know” is still a good adage for authors. If you didn’t grow up Amish, I ain’t reading your book about it.

Dieting, fiction or otherwise. I don’t need to read about some quirky-funny girl with body image issues and a stubborn propensity toward chocolate cake. In the same vein, I can no longer read about Shopaholics, either. I’m all for “chick-lit” done right, but I have little patience for the vapid.

Space ships, Aliens, Body Snatching. This is one corner of the sci-fi world I have yet to explore. At least, that is, past the first 50 pages of War of the Worlds…which I gave up on.

Vampires, Werewolves, and Zombies. I don’t get any of these fads. I don’t care how you spin it or package it, because all of these are awful to begin with. And on that note, other books I won’t read on principal are…

Disrespectful Money-Grabbing Knockoffs. It all started with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Jane Austen would be rolling in her grave (no puns intended) if she knew the extent to which her so carefully chosen words were being stretched, re-framed, and abused these days. Now we’ve got everything from Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters to Mansfield Park and Mummies. And Austen isn’t the only victim! Other atrocities include Little Women and Werewolves, Jane Slayre, Alice in Zombieland, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Undead. I am disgusted.

Horror. Mystical gross-out creatures aside, if it affects the way I sleep, it’s not the book for me.

Old People. I know this makes me seem ageist, but elders are one demographic I don’t really care to read about. Just as reading a book about an infant would probably be quite boring, so it is once you’re back in diapers. Hey, I can’t help it if teens are the ones stuck in impossible love-triangles, choosing factions, and mobilizing their friends to change the world! More entertaining stuff happens to adolescents, and that’s clearly irrefutable.

“Based on the Major Motion Picture”. It’s one thing to put the movie cover on the book. It’s quite another thing to write an entire book based on a movie. Adaptations should go novel to film, not the other way around.

What about you? Do you agree with my list or not? Sound off in the comments!

Top Ten Best/Worst Movie Adaptations

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This weekly meme brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish!

We already talk a lot about this topic! My main problem is that I haven’t read enough books. If I’ve only seen the movie adaptation, I can’t let myself put it on the list.

If only we could be more all-knowing. Sigh!

Kaite is a bit more all-knowing than me in this regard. Her voice will be represented here in green. Apologies to any colour-blind individuals who find themselves reading this. The truth is Kaite wrote most of it!

5 Worst:

The Golden Compass (2007) – How could they do this to these beloved books! The movie takes away everything great about them.

Atlas Shrugged (2011) – Because books at a level like this should not be given low budgets and pitiful effort. Did the producers read the book? Making sub-par product is kind of against the grain!

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) – A wonderful graphic novel made into a horrible film (which my husband loves).

Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009) – As a flimsy chick-lit this book was already toeing the line as an awful movie. It was handled horribly, ruining everything I liked about the book.

Gulliver’s Travels (2010) – Poor Johnathon Swift. You deserve better than Jack Black at his worst.

Bonus: A Little Princess (1995) – This is one of my best-ever movies, but it’s nothing like the book (several reasons why are listed here).

5 Best:

Life of Pi (2012) – Everyone thought it was impossible to bring this book to film and do it justice. Ang Lee accomplished an amazing feat.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) – If only Alfonso Cuarón had directed all of the Harry Potter films.

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) – The movie is the perfect Hollywood translation of Dumas’ classic.

Jane Eyre (2011) – This movie oozed with the essence of Bronte’s classic for me.

The Bourne Identity (2002) – Love the trilogy. When I read Identity I couldn’t believe this was the source material for the movie. It is amazing how much they elevated the story, aided of course by the advances in technology.

Bonus: Mary Poppins (1964) – The movie totally kicks the book’s butt. When I read this book years ago I was stunned at how different the two were. The author, P. L. Travers is said to have not liked the film at all.

Ten movies that make us want to read the book:

  • Children of Men
  • Atonement
  • The Kite Runner
  • The Hours
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Kaite)
  • Silver Linings Playbook (Kaite)
  • Precious (Kaite)
  • Blindness (Deborah)
  • The Great Gatsby (Deborah)
  • The Man in the Iron Mask (Deborah)

Now tell us some of your best/worst/to-be-read!

Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far in 2013

This weekly meme brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish!

This weekly meme brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish!

2005, 400 pgs, Dell

2005, 400 pgs, Dell

10) Can You Keep a Secret?, Sophie Kinsella (reread)

-A go-to chick lit for me. This is Kinsella at her best.

Pillars of the Earth

1989, 973 pgs, NAL Trade (2002)

9)Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett

-A long read set in 12th century Britain, which follows a few characters who are linked to each other over many years. I really appreciated all the work that went into this book.

1996, 576 pgs, Pocket Books

1996, 576 pgs, Pocket Books

8) For the Roses, Julie Garwood

-Yay, a romance makes the list! This one did not make me gag.

2011, 1016 pgs, Bantam

2011, 1016 pgs, Bantam

7) A Dance with Dragons (reread or it would be higher), George R. R. Martin

-Always awesome.

2005, 688 pgs, Harper

2005, 688 pgs, Harper

6) Zorro, Isabel Allende

-It was awesome to read a book on a character who is so intriguing! Actually it was an audio book. Very, very good.

1965, 608 pgs, Hodder and Stoughton (2005)

1965, 608 pgs, Hodder and Stoughton (2005)

5) Dune, Frank Herbert

-A bit of mixed feelings about this one, but overall it was pretty darn great.

2013, 338 pgs, Ace

2013, 338 pgs, Ace

4) The Sookie Stackhouse Books (13), Charlaine Harris

-‘Nuff said already. My favourite of the 13.

1999, 247 pgs, Harper Teen (2000)

1999, 247 pgs, Harper Teen (2000)

3) Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison

-This was a big book like 10 years ago, but I loved it when I read it a few weeks ago. Hilarious YA fiction is a wonderful thing.

2004, 509 pgs, Random House

2004, 509 pgs, Random House

2) Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell

-Also posted on this one; it was so, so good.

2012, 318 pgs, Dutton Books

2012, 318 pgs, Dutton Books

1) The Fault in our Stars, John Green

-Wow. Way to go John Green. Must read more!