A separate peace

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

A Separate Peace is a novel by award-winning author John Knowles. In this novel, Gene Forrester is a preparatory school student whose best friend is an outgoing and much beloved athlete named Phineas. Gene finds himself struggling beside Phineas and comes to the conclusion that Phineas wants to sabotage Gene so that he can be the star of the school. When this assumption proves to be false, Gene becomes confused. Gene causes an accident that will end Phineas’ athletic career and derail his plans to join the war overseas. Gene will struggle with this single episode for months until finally Phineas learns the truth. A Separate Peace is a story of coming of age and of young men who struggle to find out who they are and what motivates them in a time of uncertainty and fear.

Gene Forrester returns to Devon, the preparatory school he once attended, fifteen years after graduation. As he walks across the campus, Gene begins to recall the year that changed his life. It was 1942, and Gene is part of the first summer term at Devon, a term designed to prepare the young men of his class for service in World War II. Gene’s roommate and best friend is Phineas, Finny, an outgoing character who can talk his way out of just about any situation. Over this summer term, between classes, the boys create a club centered around those brave enough to jump into the Devon River from a tree and create a new ball game that centers on Finny’s own unique rules.

One afternoon, Finny questions Gene’s dedication to his studies. Finny accuses Gene of wanting to be the top of the class at graduation. As Finny jokes about this, Gene finds himself wondering if Finny is really jealous of him and if he has been sabotaging his studies in order to be the top student himself. This thought causes Gene to work harder at his studies and to ignore Finny’s frequent pleas to go play. One day, Gene finally tells Finny that he is interrupting his studies. Finny is surprised and expresses a belief that Gene did not need to study, that his good grades came naturally to him. This confuses Gene and makes him angry with Finny. As the two boys prepare to jump from a tree limb into the river below, Gene shakes the limb and causes Finny to fall too early. Finny fractures his leg badly on the river bank below.

Gene finishes the summer term and returns home for a brief visit. When Gene comes back, he stops by Finny’s house to speak with him. Gene tries to tell Finny that he caused him to fall from the tree intentionally, but Finny does not believe him. Gene returns to school alone as Finny recovers. Others seem to think Gene caused Finny’s accident, but Gene brushes off the accusations and no one pushes it. In a few months, Finny comes back to school and the rumors are put to rest.

Finny returns to his same old antics, but they are tinged with some bitterness. Finny insists that the war is not real and he trains Gene so that he might take Finny’s place in the 1946 Olympics. In the middle of the winter term, one of their friends, Leper, joins the Army. A few months later, during a winter carnival that Finny has planned, Gene gets a telegram from Leper telling him he has escaped. Gene goes to see Leper only to learn that he has gotten a discharge from the army for mental instability.

One of Gene’s classmates has been bothered all along by Finny’s accident. In the middle of the night, this boy and several of his friends kidnap Gene and Finny from their room and place Gene on trial. Finny cannot recall what happened that night, but Leper, who has returned recently to the school, remembers every detail. Leper tells them Gene shook the limb, causing Finny’s accident. Finny leaves the hall in anger and falls down the marble steps.

Finny’s leg is broken again. Gene goes to visit him, but Finny is angry with him. Gene returns the next morning to apologize again. Finny accepts his apology and tells him how he had wanted to join the military, but no one would take him now. The doctor comes and asks Gene to return later because they need to set Finny’s leg. When Gene returns, he learns that Finny has died from escaped bone marrow that traveled to his heart. Gene graduates months later and enters the Navy, wiser and with the understanding that everyone deals with war in their own way.

 

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by: C.S. Lewis (Book Two)

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by: C.S. Lewis (Book Two)

“I’m very sorry, Mr. Tumnus,” said Lucy. “But please let me go home.”
– Lucy to Mr. Tumnus, a Faun

Cast of Characters:
The Greatest Character
Aslan: “The King, Lord of the whole wood, and son of the Emperor across the Sea. Aslan is the Lion, the Great Lion. He comes and goes as and when he pleases; he comes to overthrow the witch and save Narnia…”
The Main Characters:
The Pevensies (there are four of them and this is oldest to youngest)
Peter Pevensie: King Peter the Magnificent, and the High King
Susan Pevensie: Queen Susan the Gentle
Edmund Pevensie: King Edmund the Just
Lucy Pevensie: Queen Lucy the Valiant
*they all send Narnia into its Golden Age during their rein until they disappear*
Other Important Characters
Mr. Tumnus: the Faun who was in charge of killing the Daughters of Eve (Lucy and Susan) by the White Witch, first person to meet Lucy, is an ally and friend for the Pevensie children
The White Witch: also known as Jadis, always makes Narnia stay in winter but never Christmas, shows no mercy, all the Narnians hate her
Mr. and Mrs. Beaver: the ones that meet the Pevensie children after Mr. Tumnus’ arrest, goes on an adventure with them to overthrow the White Witch, etc.

*Whew! That was a very long intro! But this is my favorite book in the whole series… but I promise that I’ll shorten the body “paragraph”*

While playing hide and seek, Lucy finds that there is another world hidden behind all the coats in the wardrobe. Nobody believes her at first, saying that she’s crazy and making this up, but that ended up with Lucy crying and everyone feeling guilty (except Edmund).

Edmund loves being mean to his siblings for no reason. (teenage mood swings much?) Trying to kill his siblings just for food . . . Maybe that’s why Jadis wanted to use him.
ANYWHO.

One day, they walked into the closet to avoid a very mean person, and found that Narnia does exist and that no, Lucy wasn’t lying. Once they enter Narnia, they quickly learn of the mistreatment the White Witch (Jadis) has done to all the Narnians. Therefore, everyone, but Edmund because he has his own mission, must go to Cair Percival to end her rule. With the help of some people.

Read on to figure out how the battle goes and everything else.
Until next time . . . read on!

 

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before: Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Always and Forever, Laura Jean is the third installment in Jenny Han’s Laura Jean trilogy. The previous novels in the trilogy, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You, have followed Lara Jean Song Covey, a half-Korean, half-Caucasian teenager as she comes of age. This novel completes the series, following Lara Jean’s final year of high school and her venture into the world beyond. The novel begins with first-person narrator Lara Jean at a party with her boyfriend, Peter Kavinsky. They leave the party so he can get her home before curfew. Since they have a little extra time, they go to the campus of the University of Virginia, the college that Peter has been accepted to on a lacrosse scholarship, and the college that Lara Jean has wanted to go to ever since she was a little girl. Lara Jean’s mother passed away when she was ten years old, and before she died she took classes at UVA. It is important to Lara Jean that she gets into UVA so that she can feel connected with her mother and so she can remain close to her family. Her father and younger sister, Kitty, are very important to her, and she wants to be able to see them every week. Peter takes Lara Jean home and she goes to sleep. The next day, Lara Jean decorates Easter eggs to take to the retirement home where she used to work and she Skypes her older sister, Margot, who is in college in Scotland. The next day, Lara Jean goes to deliver the eggs to the retirement home and to visit her favorite resident, Stormy. Later that day, Lara Jean bakes in an attempt to create the perfect chocolate chip cookie. She, Peter, and Kitty watch movies and then Peter leaves to help his mother. The next day, Lara Jean brings more cookies to school with her and shares them with her friends. At home, she has dinner with her family and her father’s girlfriend, Trina. That weekend, Lara Jean goes on the class trip to New York City. Peter stages a prom proposal straight out of Lara Jean’s favorite movie, Sleepless in Seattle. When she goes back to school, she gets notified that UVA has rejected her.

Lara Jean is depressed after being rejected from the college. She decides to make Peter a scrapbook to take with him to UVA without her. Lara Jean gets accepted into the College of William and Mary and decides to go there for a year and then transfer to UVA for her sophomore year. Lara Jean’s sister Margot comes home for the break with her boyfriend Ravi. Margot does not like how close Trina and her father have gotten. She urges Lara Jean to give William and Mary a chance, but Lara Jean does not take her advice. Their father tells them that he wants to propose to Trina and the girls are happy except for Margot, who only pretends to be happy for him. Margot goes back to Scotland and their father proposes to Trina, who says yes. Lara Jean starts planning the perfect wedding.

Trina sells her house and moves in with Lara Jean and her family. Lara Jean goes to Peter’s lacrosse game and sits next to his mother, who tells her that it might be for the best that she did not get into UVA. When Lara Jean gets up to buy popcorn, she sees a man who looks just like Peter. He turns out to be Peter’s estranged father who left the family and started a new one. He wants to reunite with Peter, but Peter is not open to a reunion. He asks Lara Jean not to tell Peter that he was there, and Lara Jean agrees. Later that week, Peter tells Lara Jean that his father showed up at his house. Lara Jean encourages him to give his father a chance, but Peter is resistant. Lara Jean and Peter go to prom together and dance all night. Afterwards, Peter plans a surprise birthday party for Lara Jean and recreates the iconic cake scene from Sixteen Candles. Peter goes to a lacrosse training camp for the weekend and Lara misses him. When Lara Jean gets an acceptance letter from the University of North Carolina, a prestigious school, she takes an impromptu road trip to the campus with her friend Chris. Lara Jean decides she wants to go to school at UNC and give it a real chance. Her family is excited for her.

When Lara Jean tells Peter about UNC, he is less than thrilled. He gets drunk at a party and cannot drive her home. She continues to encourage him to invite his father to graduation but he is resistant; he does however offer to throw a bachelor party at a steak house for Lara Jean’s father. When yearbooks are handed out, Lara Jean gives hers to Peter to sign, but he cannot think of anything to write so he brings it home with him. He keeps telling her that he has forgotten it until the last day of school, when she goes to his house and sees that he has not written anything. She is upset, but he tells her that he has invited his father to graduation so she is happy for him. The day of graduation, Lara Jean’s family members give her gifts and her father surprises her with a month-long trip to Korea. At graduation, Peter’s father does not show up. Lara Jean feels terrible, but does not have enough time to console him.

Peter arrives early in the morning to pick up Lara Jean and take her to Beach Week. When he finds out that Lara Jean is going to Korea for most of the summer, he is upset. During Beach Week, they get in a fight at a party. When Lara Jean tries to apologize with French toast, Peter refuses to eat anything. Later that night, they make up and Peter walks Lara Jean to her beach house. She invites him up and tells him she wants to lose her virginity to him. He says he thinks that she is only doing it because they got into a fight and asks her if she even wants to transfer to UVA anymore. She says that she does not know and then he leaves. Lara Jean drives home with her friends and Peter texts her to apologize and to ask her to hang out that night. Then his mother calls Lara Jean and invites her over. She tells Lara Jean that Peter has been talking about transferring to UNC, which means he would lose his lacrosse scholarship. Lara Jean assures her that she will talk to Peter, but his mother suggests that they should break up so Peter can focus on school and lacrosse. Lara Jean leaves and cancels her plans with Peter. The next night, she attends Trina’s bachelorette party at a karaoke bar and steals sips of drinks. She gets drunk and when Peter shows up, she breaks up with him. The next day, she wants to take it back, but fears he will not accept her apology or take her back. At her father’s wedding, Peter shows up and he and Lara Jean decide to get back together and to try to make a long-distance relationship work. He gives her back her yearbook, inside of which he has written a list of promises: he will write her a letter every week; they will call each other every day; they will always tell the truth; and he will love her forever. On the night before Lara Jean goes to college, she goes to the lake to watch a meteor shower with Peter and they are as in love as ever before.

Book Review of Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval by Stephanie Garber is an entrancing whirlwind of rich imagery, enticing romance, and a darkly magical realm of fantasy. The book follows Scarlett Dragna as she’s drawn into the mesmerizing world of Caraval, the legendary annual performance where the audience must compete to win a coveted prize. Caraval’s mastermind creator, a mysterious figure known as Legend, has invited Scarlett to participate in this year’s game– but nothing is as it seems, and Scarlett soon finds herself immersed within a maze of treachery and illusions, desperately trying to sort out the truth from the elaborate fantasies Caraval’s performers create. Scarlett knows that Caraval is only a game– but the consequences seem all too real as she discovers that this performance revolves around her beloved sister, Tella. The only way out is to win the game– and the only way to win is to find her sister before their time runs out.

Caraval is the first in a trilogy following Scarlett and Tella Dragna’s journey within Legend’s games and focuses on the sisters’ fight for each other and those they love. The book does a beautiful job of blurring the lines between fantasy and reality so that even the reader is kept constantly guessing at what is real inside Caraval and what is only an illusion. Mysteries abound within the sisters’ search for the truth, and no one is ever as they initially appear– much as I tried to figure out the ending, there were so many details that surprised me again and again. The theme of fighting for your family never fades, and the bond between Scarlett and Tella is a strong focal point that the series rests on. However, there’s plenty of romance to be found as well, and it all adds to the richness of the story the trilogy spins.

This book never ceases to entertain or entrance. The plot flows smoothly and the writing style does a fantastic job of painting gorgeous pictures of the world of Caraval. The descriptions are darkly lush and vivid, and I would recommend this book on the merit of its imagery alone. Thus said, the world is a feast for the imagination, and there’s always another detail to marvel over, whether it be part of the scenery, a character, or aspect of the plot.

Caraval‘s heroine, Scarlett, is driven mainly by her love for her sister. She’s an interesting and slightly unusual character to follow as she is entranced by the magic of Caraval but ultimately just wants a life where she and her sister can be safe and taken care of. Her journey through Caraval helps Scarlett become a little more free as she is released from the confines of her earlier life spent under her abusive father’s control. Her journey is definitely one of self-discovery, and I loved how this theme was woven into the others.

Caraval is a captivating read, and its story of magic, mystery, love, and illusion is one I’d highly recommend.

Tuck Everlasting

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

First things first: the narrator explains the setting. We’re in the woods near Treegap, where there’s an important spring, owned by the Foster family. Got it? Okay, here we go.

Mae Tuck is getting ready to go meet her sons. But before she leaves, Mae and her husband Tuck have a conversation about wanting to change the things they can’t. Sounds normal enough, right? Oh, but then the narrator hints that these two are immortal. Well, then.

Winnie Foster (of the Foster family—remember them?) is talking to a toad when a strange man in a yellow suit appears and asks her questions. Winnie’s grandma joins them and they all hear some strange music. (Don’t worry, we’re confused, too.)

The next day, Winnie runs away, and she meets Jesse Tuck, who’s drinking from a spring. Dude won’t let her have any of the water, though. Soon enough, Jesse’s mother and brother, Mae and Miles, appear. The three Tucks grab Winnie and start running—but not before Yellow Suit Guy can see them. When they finally get a moment to stop, the Tucks tell Winnie their story, and Winnie promises to keep her mouth shut about the whole thing.

Here’s the story: Eighty-seven years ago, the Tucks came to Treegap and drank from this spring. Time went by, Miles started a family, and things started to get weird: the Tucks weren’t aging and they couldn’t die. Miles’s family left him, and the Tucks had to move away. When they finally figured out that drinking from the spring was what did this to them, they turned to a life of secrecy.

After they finish their no-big-deal story, the family takes Winnie to meet their patriarch, Tuck. (Of course, none of them notices that Yellow Suit Guy totally overheard them. We have a feeling that won’t end well.) During dinner, Winnie starts to freak out. That’s when Tuck takes her out on the pond for a serious talk about life and death. But Miles quickly interrupts them because their horse has been stolen.

Meanwhile, Yellow Suit Guy, who stole the horse (surprise surprise), is headed right back to the Fosters’ house. Just like that, he makes the Fosters trade him their land for Winnie’s safety. So back at Chez Tuck, Yellow Suit Guy barges in and reveals his evil plan: he owns the spring now and he’s going to sell the water. What’s worse—he’s going to make Winnie drink it. Mae’s answer? She bashes his head in with a shotgun. Nice.

Just then, the constable rolls up. He takes Mae to jail, and Winnie goes home, unable to explain to her family why she went with the Tucks. As it turns out, Yellow Suit Guy died, which means Mae is a murderer. Winnie and the Tucks are able to break Mae out of jail, but it means they have to say a very sad goodbye.

A few weeks later, Winnie makes the big decision not to drink the immortality water that Jesse had given her. Instead, she gives it to a little toad. She figures she can always return to the spring at another time—if she wants to.

Flash forward to 1950. Mae and Tuck come into Treegap only to learn that the forest and spring are gone. When Tuck visits the local cemetery, he sees Winnie’s grave. Looks like she passed up the immortality water forever, after all.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children introduces the world of peculiars, a secret group of individuals born with strange abilities and attributes that set them apart from the rest of humanity. Hunted by bloodthirsty creatures called hollowgast, peculiars are protected by women known as ymbrynes who can transform into birds and manipulate time. Ymbrynes– like the titular Miss Peregrine– watch over their wards inside loops, portals of safety where the same day is repeated over and over again. For hundreds of years, peculiars have lived inside these loops, never aging and sheltered from the threats of the outside world. But sinister forces threaten to destroy the world of peculiardom, and its inhabitants have no idea what’s to come…

Jacob Portman, the narrator of the story, grew up listening to his grandfather’s tales of the children’s home on a tiny island off the coast of Wales where magical children lived in paradise, watched over by their benevolent headmistress. As a child, he would hang onto his grandfather’s every word, relishing the tales of his grandfather’s brave adventures and extraordinary friends. But as Jacob grew older and his grandfather began to sink into dementia’s grip, he stopped believing the man’s fantastical tales– until a traumatizing night leads him to travel to that tiny island and see for himself– and suddenly, the stories don’t seem so implausible.

As Jacob is thrust into the mind-bending world of the peculiars, he discovers more about his grandfather and himself than he ever thought possible. With an intriguing narrative style and hauntingly fascinating vintage photography, Ransom Riggs takes the reader along for Jacob’s incredible ride, creating a vivid new world that’s unlike anything I’ve read before. Truly unique, this book (and the rest in its series) is hard to put down and is a must-read for anyone looking for a new YA fantastical adventure that’s different from the norm. There’s action, romance, mystery, and even some humor mixed in with an awesome cast of characters that will win you over from the start.

The narrative voice, in the first-person view of Jacob, is descriptive and articulate without forsaking the heart of his character. The author’s style is expressive and vivid, assisted by the distinctive addition of the vintage photographs interspersed throughout the book. The pictures are what truly make this series unique, and add a touch of stirring realism to the plotline. The book’s plot was written partially around the photographs that the author had found and included, and the rest of the photos were chosen because they fit what the author had in mind. I love this addition to the books, and they’re a big part of what makes the series unforgettable.

The world of peculiardom is a fascinating and multi-faceted one, and the farther you read into the series, the more wide and diverse it grows. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children introduces the world well, but with each new book in the series, Ransom Riggs finds a new way to expand its borders. Its inhabitants are equally as diverse and fascinating as the world they live in, and I fell in love with all of them almost immediately. It’s interesting to read how their peculiarities can align with their personalities– for example; Emma, one of the main protagonists, sparks flames from her hands and is the fiery, determined leader of the group. Bronwyn, a girl with extraordinary strength, is the mother hen of the children and a natural protector. Each of Miss Peregrine’s peculiar wards has a distinctive personality, as does every new character they meet during their journeys. The variety of peculiar abilities and attributes of these characters is astounding as well.

One thing I love about this book and its series is the nature of the peculiarities. Rather than give his characters differing versions of “superpowers”, the author has created a group of people (and occasionally, animals) who simply possess attributes and abilities that place them (far) outside the realm of normal. Some of the peculiars can do things that seem familiar to us in the realm of science fiction, like Bronwyn’s strength or Emma’s fire. But more often, peculiars are born with other traits– like the mouth in the back of Claire’s head, the way Olive is simply lighter than air, or the bees that live inside of Hugh– that you won’t find between the pages of comic book. Their peculiarness is delightfully strange in a way that enhances the dark and supernatural feel of the story, which sets it apart from your average science fiction novel about kids with superpowers.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is a darkly fascinating book that sets off an intriguing and endlessly riveting series. You won’t be able to get enough of this book and its peculiar world once you’ve fallen under its captivating spell, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a series with a distinctive and enthralling concept.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: PS I Still Love You

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

In the novel, P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han, Lara Jean Song Covey finds herself being pursued by two boys between whom she must choose. Peter Kavinsky was her boyfriend until she broke up with him because he lied to her. John Ambrose McClaren is a grade school friend with whom Lara Jean has recently reconnected. Even though John is the sort of boy she always dreamed of, Peter is the boy she loves despite his flaws.

Lara Jean asks her father to drop her off at Peter’s house after they leave their family’s New Year’s Day party. She has written a letter of apology to Peter but has decided to talk to him face to face. As she tries to talk to Peter, she senses he is not interested in her apology. He sees the letter she wrote to him in her pocket and takes it away from her. After he has read that heartfelt apology, he tells her that he had just been playing hard to get. They renew their relationship and even agree on a contract that they believe will keep them from breaking each other’s heart.

Things are immediately difficult for Lara Jean and Peter when a video of them in a hot tub appears on the Instagram site Anonybitch. It appears they are having sex. In reality, they are only kissing. The next day that video is gone. Peter says that he sent a complaint to the site threatening a lawsuit to make them take it down.

Lara Jean believes it was her former best friend, Genevieve, who is also Peter’s ex-girlfriend, who submitted the video to the Instagram site. When Lara Jean confronts Genevieve, Genevieve claims she did not submit the video. However, Lara Jean notices the corner of her mouth turns down as it does when she lies. When Lara Jean tells Peter that she thinks it was Genevieve who submitted the video, Peter promises to talk to Genevieve about it. Even though they are no longer dating, Peter and Genevieve are closer friends than Lara Jean would like them to be. Peter reports to Lara Jean later that Genevieve said she did not post the video and he believes her.

Meanwhile, things are changing in Lara Jean’s neighborhood. An older couple has bought the Pearces’ house and is planning to tear down the tree house where all the neighborhood kids once played. Lara Jean remembers how the old gang had buried a time capsule near the tree house and decides to have a time capsule party to say farewell to the treehouse. John is one of the friends who is invited to the party even though he no longer lives in the neighborhood.

The party is emotional for Lara Jean not only because she realizes she is attracted to John but also because Peter brings Genevieve with him even though Lara Jean did not invite her. The group decides to play a game of Assassins, a game they played in grade school, for old times sakes. Lara Jean decides she wants to win the game simply to prove that she is stronger than Genevieve believes.

When Peter unintentionally tells Lara Jean that he knew that it was Genevieve who submitted the hot tub video but did not tell Lara Jean the truth, Lara Jean breaks up with him. Peter is angered when he sees John and Lara Jean together at a USO themed party that Lara Jean organized for the retirement home where she volunteers. He demands to know if Lara Jean is dating John. He claims he has been friendly to Genevieve only because she was going through a stressful thing with her family. When Lara Jean asks, however, he will not tell her what is happening with Genevieve.

In the game of Assassins, Lara Jean and Genevieve are the only two players left alive. Following Genevieve to tag her out, Lara Jean discovers that Genevieve has been upset because her father is cheating on her mother with a girl who is just a couple years older than Genevieve. With this new information, Lara Jean hurts for her old friend and understands why Genevieve would have called on Peter to comfort her. Even though Lara Jean believes she could love John, she still loves Peter. When Peter asks if they can mend their relationship she agrees.

This book is also very good 10/10 recommend. This is also being made in to a movie. stay tuned for the last installment of the to all the boys series.