My Year In Books: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – Book #42

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Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Series: N/A
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: Listening Library
Medium: Audiobook
Voice Actor: Rebecca Lowman, Maxwell Caulfield
Awards: Goodreads Choice Nominee for Young Adult Fiction (2013)
Finished Reading: September 18

About: “Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…But for Cath, being a fan is her life – and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fanfiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath just can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roomate with a charming, always-around boyfriend; a fiction-writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world; a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words…and she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?”

Why I thought I’d love it:

  • Rainbow Rowell. I’ve been into her other books recently. I really enjoyed Eleanor & Park and Landline. She has a way with her characters and her dialogue that just holds on to me and doesn’t let go. I love it.
  • Rebecca Lowman. I love her as a voice actor. More specifically, I love Lowman as a voice actor for Rowell’s work.
  • Cath writes fanfiction. This is definitely something that I can relate to. While I was in middle school and high school, I read a ton of fanfiction. It didn’t really matter what it was either. I read Harry Potter fanfiction, band fanfiction, actor fanfiction. I read and loved it all. So, I was super pumped to read a book about an author of fanfic.

A huge reason why I didn’t LOVE this book was because of Cath. Why I didn’t like Cath, like, at all:

  • She claims to be super conscious of her GPA and her classes and blah blah blah, but when given the chance for an extension – she blows it off. Now, I’ve already been through college – all four years of it, so I know that when a teacher graces you with an extension – you best be taking it and writing the best you’ve ever written. For someone who claims to love writing and claims to love that class, she’s got a funny way of showing it.
  • Dating. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times when I still have no idea what I’m doing. All the same, I know that you should at least put a little effort into your appearance when going on an actual date – even if you see them all the time. It sets that a date is different than just hanging out reading fanfic. There’s actually a whole slew of things that I really just wanted to slap Cath for when it came to her relationships. Quit being a baby. Maybe I’m just over the whole YA approach to sex or even holding hands. Or maybe I just want to slap Cath. (I’m thinking it’s the latter.)
  • She chooses fanfic over everything. I, myself, am an introvert. I have a really hard time talking to people – just ask pretty much anyone. I would rather be sitting at home reading than most things that I need to or have to do. But this one over here (motions to picture of Cath on the cover) is just .. I can’t take her. Rather than going down to the cafeteria she’s sitting in her room eating protein bars. Good god. Cath. No.

Maybe the storyline had some redeeming parts, but here’s why I didn’t like the storyline:

  • Humor. I didn’t really find it all that funny. Something that I’ve been able to count on from Rowell is her awesome subtle humor, but it just wasn’t really there this time.
  • Mother. The whole mother being gone/not gone thing really drove me crazy. Pick a side.

There are definitely some redeeming aspects!

Regan, Cath’s roommate, was probably the best character – in my humble opinion:

  • She is an upperclassman (I think a junior), so she knows the ropes of being in the college setting.
  • She’s been described as mean to Cath, but I would act the same way. Regan calls Cath out on her stupidness. IE: going down to the lunchroom. After Regan basically told her she’s ridiculous, she made Cath go down to get food with her.
  • Regan’s reactions to Cath or what’s going on aren’t that far off from what mine would be.

Levi, Regan’s boyfriend, is just amazing:

  • He walks Cath around campus after dark. From personal experience, it’s not horrible being on campus in the dark, but you can definitely freak yourself out – it’s always good to be walking with someone anyway.
  • He doesn’t get annoyed with Cath, which is definitely unlike every other character in the book.
  • From the sound of it, he’s not half-bad looking either.
  • He does audiobooks! Umm hi, my name is Megan and I love audiobooks. There’s a whole thing about whether or not audiobooks counts as reading and it was great to listen to ON MY AUDIOBOOK.

My rating and why: I gave this book three stars. It was just an ok book. It wasn’t something that everyone absolutely needs to read. It’s not going to be something I remember reading a year from now. It was just ok. I mostly didn’t like it, but gave three stars as a benefit of the doubt type of a thing.

Have you read this one? Am I crazy with my criticisms? What’s your favorite Rowell book? Let me know in the comments below. Like. Comment. Follow. New book review to come tomorrow.

Until next time my fellow bibliophiles!

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My Year In Books: Landline by Rainbow Rowell – Book #40

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Title: Landline
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Series: N/A
Release Date:July 8, 2014
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Medium: Audiobook
Voice Actor: Rebecca Lowman
Finished Reading: September 10, 2014

About: “Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply—but that almost seems beside the point now.
Maybe that was always beside the point. Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her—Neal is always a little upset with Georgie—but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go without her. When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything. That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts. . . .
Is that what she’s supposed to do? Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?”

I really enjoyed the writing style of Eleanor & Park and wanted to try Rowell’s adult fiction. See how her style carries over into other classifications. I picked this book up on audio because I loved Rebecca Lowman’s interpretation of Eleanor & Park. For me, this is how I hear Rowell’s writing and how I remember it. Lowman is a great voice actor and has a unique voice for each character making it enjoyable and easy to determine who is who.

This book takes on a cool aspect of contemporary writing meets magical realism. One of the best parts for me, dealing with writing choice, is that Georgie McCool thinks the magical phone is weird too. We’re not expected to think that magical things happen all the time in this world. In fact, I love that she comes up with a whole bunch of excuses for what’s really happening. Some of these would be excuses I’d come up with as well. I like that what we find weird, McCool does too.

The juxtaposition of the scenes is done perfectly. We’re in the present; we’re in the past; we’re in between when dealing with the phone calls. It was brilliantly done and seamlessly carried through.

The characters. You can definitely tell that Rowell has kids or has been around kids extensively. The way McCool’s daughter meows and insists that she is a cat is for sure something that my niece used to do. Her characters are beautifully flawed, which makes them seem more real and more tangible for a contemporary read. Each argument, each piece of dialogue, each character description was realistic and not forced. The push and pull of whether or not what you’re doing is the right thing is ever-present and appreciated. Sometimes you can tell when an author is trying too hard to make something seem “real”. Rowell has no problems with this.

I will continue to praise Rowell. Her humor is on point, subtle. There were a couple parts where I did laugh out loud in my car. There were parts where I smiled to myself.

My rating and why: I gave it four stars! I read it and really enjoyed it. It was a little slow building up to the actual phone calls, but when we got there it was everything I wanted and more. I will definitely be reading her other works, with the hope that she doesn’t lose her sense of humor and keeps her characters tangible.

What did you think when you read this book? Is this book on your to-read list? Have you read anything else by her? Are you a fan of Rowell? Let me know in the comments below. Like. Comment. Follow. New book review to come Monday.

Until next time my fellow bibliophiles!

My Year In Books: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – Book #25

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Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Series: n/a
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Listening Library
Medium: Audiobook
Voice Actor: Rebecca Lowman, Sunil Malhotra
Awards: All About Romance (AAR) Annual Reader Poll for Best Young Adult Romance (2014), Printz Honor (2014), YALSA Teens’ Top Ten (2014), Milwaukee County Teen Book Award (2014), Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award (2014)
Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award (ALAN/NCTE) (2014), Boston Globe-Horn Book Award (2013), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2015), DABWAHA Romance Tournament Nominee for Best Young Adult Romance (2014), Goodreads Choice for Best Young Adult Fiction (2013), Odyssey Honor (2014), YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (Top Ten) (2014)
Finished Reading: June 6, 2014

About: “Two misfits. One extraordinary love.
Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough… Eleanor.
Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises… Park.
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.”

I picked up this book after hearing many wonderful things about it. I really didn’t know what it was about, but I knew it was about two high-school outcasts that met up and fell in love.

Before I even start this review, I need to give a shout-out to Lowman and Malhotra. They perfect captured Eleanor and Park. Their personification perfectly matched how I envisioned them. Heck. Yes.

Eleanor lives in a broken home with her younger brother and sisters. She’s the type of girl no one talks to, and if they do it’s to make fun of her. Calling her names about her weight, her looks, her fashion sense, everything.

Park lives with his parents and brother, and they just don’t seem to understand him at all.

I loved each character on their own, but when they came together it was a whole other level of adoration that I simply COULD NOT EVEN. I odded all over the place, but those evens I just could not.

Maybe it’s because the dialogue was so spot-on. Maybe it was because they bonded over comic books and other graphic novels. Maybe it was because I know that I would totally nerd out with both of them. Maybe because it’s a love that I want to know happens in real life.

I don’t know what the case is, but I loved this book. I loved everything about it. I loved how the characters were all perfectly flawed. I loved how multi-dimensional the background characters were. I just…ugh. This book takes words away from me. And that’s really saying something.

I really wish I had taken better notes (or any notes at all), as I’m sitting down to write this review five months after I read it. Unfortunately, you get my babbles. Embrace the babbles.

My rating and why: I gave this book four stars. I immediately fell in love with both outcasts, and when you put them together I’m in pure bliss. The cards are stacked against the love of Eleanor and Park, but nothing can keep them away from bonding over X-Men, The Watchman, and The Smiths. This is a great YA book with adult appeal. Dealing with everything from bullying, social norms, family status quo and cultural differences, this book has it all. There is a lesson to be learned for each generation. The voice actors are great and really help with the mental images of the characters. Recommend for sure – anyone who enjoys young love, Star Wars references and the mean world of high school and life.

Have you read this book? Have you read anything else by Rowell or listened to anything else with the same voice actors? Let me know in the comments below! Like. Comment. Follow. New review to come Monday!

Until next time my fellow bibliophiles!

Top Books I’ve Read In 2014 Thus Far

It is August already. (Here comes a cliche for you…) This year is just flying by. (Told you.) There have been so many awesome book releases this year and insane books I’ve read this year. This is a tribute to the top 10 books I’ve read this year (so far…). DISCLAIMER: These aren’t in any particular order. I’m not going to explain why these are my favorite because if they have not had a blog post up yet, there will be one in the “My Year In Books 2014” series. I will just be writing what is on the back of the book to get you psyched and give you a peeeeeek.

Without further ado.

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Wonder by RJ Palacio
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?
R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

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Unwind by Neal Shusterman
The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

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The Giver by Lois Lowry
December is the time of the annual Ceremony at which each twelve-year-old receives a life assignment determined by the Elders. Jonas watches his friend Fiona named Caretaker of the Old and his cheerful pal Asher labeled the Assistant Director of Recreation. But Jonas has been chosen for something special. When his selection leads him to an unnamed man-the man called only the Giver-he begins to sense the dark secrets that underlie the fragile perfection of his world.

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Red Rising by Pierce Brown
The war begins…
Darrow is a Helldiver, one of a thousand men and women who live in the vast caves beneath the surface of Mars. Generations of Helldivers have spent their lives toiling to mine the precious elements that will allow the planet to be terraformed. Just knowing that one day people will be able to walk the surface of the planet is enough to justify their sacrifice. The Earth is dying, and Darrow and his people are the only hope humanity has left.
Until the day Darrow learns that it is all a lie. Mars is habitable – and indeed has been inhabited for generations by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. The Golds regard Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.
With the help of a mysterious group of rebels, Darrow disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside.
But the command school is a battlefield. And Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda.

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The Ten Minute Activist: Easy Ways To Take Back The Planet by The Mission Collective
The planet is in trouble. Global warming, record-breaking natural disasters, 9/11, two hotly contested presidential elections, and a war abroad has left many Americans feeling uneasy with the state of our own lives and the security of the planet. We know that life cannot be sustained at the current rate of consumption, yet it is easy to succumb to helplessness and apathy. But if making a difference only required ten minutes of our time a day, how many more people would try to make a difference? Written in an edgy, engaging style, The Ten Minute Activist, shows how even the busiest person can make a difference. From buying organic milk and bison to switching from free-trade to fair trade; from choosing a Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) retirement plan to car-pooling with colleagues, The Mission Collective has compiled the most up-to-date information on energy conservation, global warming, wildlife preservation, community building, spiritual awareness and political action. The Ten Minute Activist informs and inspires with easy acts that can truly have an impact if engaged en masse.

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Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough… Eleanor.
Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises… Park.
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

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One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
Probably Garcí­a Márquez finest and most famous work. One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of the rise and fall, birth and death of a mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendia family. Inventive, amusing, magnetic, sad, alive with unforgettable men and women, and with a truth and understanding that strike the soul. One Hundred Years of Solitude is a masterpiece of the art of fiction.

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American Vampire Vol 2 by Scott Snyder
While trafficking in a bestselling sub-genre, AMERICAN VAMPIRE introduces a new strain of vampire — a more muscular and vicious species, born of the American West.
It’s Las Vegas circa 1935, and Skinner Sweet and our gal Pearl are about to learn the hard way that the bloodsuckers in Hollywood were nothing compared to what awaits them in Sin City.
In just a few short years, young police Chief Cash McCogan has watched his native city of Las Vegas go from cow-town to wild, glittering boomtown. And when the bodies of prominent businessmen start showing up drained of blood, Chief McCogan finds himself facing a threat much darker and deadlier than anything he could have imagined . . . and the only sure bet in town is that Skinner and Pearl are right in the thick of it.

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Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, mysteries and secrets, new characters and old favorites, Days of Blood and Starlight brings the richness, color and intensity of the first book to a brand new canvas.

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Bossypants by Tina Fey
Before Liz Lemon, before “Weekend Update,” before “Sarah Palin,” Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.
She has seen both these dreams come true.
At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon—from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.
Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.

There’s the top 10. There are a few others that I rated pretty high as well, but they just didn’t fit inside the number 10.

What book are you most anxious about reading this year? Have any of these made the cut? What’s your favorite book you’ve read so far this year? Let me know in the comments below. Like. Comment. Follow.

Happy reading!