Review: Mosquitoland

Book Overview:

Title: Mosquitoland

Author: David Arnold

Genre: Teen Contemporary Fiction

Publication Info: Viking Children’s, March 3, 2015

Synopsis: After her parents’ divorce, Mim is unhappily forced to move to Mississippi with her father and new stepmother. But when she hears distressing news about her mother, Mim takes off without a thought on a Greyhound bus and begins an unforgettable journey that will change everything.

Book Review:

Overall Rating: 4.5-5 (let’s be honest, it’s really a 5 for me)/5

Writing a review for this book is difficult. Ridiculously difficult, even. I’ve tried talking about it to friends, family, co-workers, and here’s what comes out: “Guys, this book is just… I mean, it’s so… just unique, and… yeah. You should read it.” I’m a hot mess because of this book, and this book is a hot mess. But a really touching, remarkable hot mess. So forgive me for remaining unable to sound professional and polished when discussing this one.

Plot:

This is easily one of the weirdest plots I’ve ever read. Granted, the premise–a hero’s quest to save a loved one that turns into self-discovery–is as old as story-telling. Mosquitoland really is a contemporary odyssey with a teenage heroine. But nothing that happens on this trip is normal, from a kung-fu fight on a gas station roof to a trip to the vet with a human patient (and that’s all I can say without spoiling anything). However, every abnormal, seemingly random event is woven together in a cohesive whole that feels too weird not to be true. Not once did I put the book down for its sheer ridiculousness; I shook my head and kept reading, realizing that life will throw everything crazy and unexpected towards us. Kudos, David Arnold. You’ve shown true plot prowess here.

Characters:

Like the plot, our main character, Mim, is as strange as they come: medicated for possible schizophrenia, blind in one eye, and instantly judgmental of others based on only their name. Not the typical heroine, right? Yet her idiosyncrasies and quirks make her very real (again, like the plot). Mim is a character anyone can relate to or adore–funny, witty, and blunt. Throughout her journey, she’s flawed and cynical, due to a harsh, discerning perspective of the world and a life’s worth of pain. And she’s so contradictory, acting fearless when she’s terrified of truly being crazy, brutally honest at times and fiercely secretive at others. Because of this, her point of view and her story was a puzzle and joy to read. Mim learns so much through her quest to find her mom, and as she grows, she gives the reader so many deep thoughts and moments of clarity. God, I really love this character.

This book also boasts a slew of unusual side characters, all with important roles in Mim’s story, but I can’t write about them without giving away significant things. (I really want to, but I just can’t. Don’t hate me. Read the book, and then we can talk.) Just know that I love and/or appreciate each’s role and individuality.

Writing Quality:

Finally, Arnold really outdoes himself as a writer. This book is so literary that it’s palpable. Mim’s journey contains allusions to Moby Dick, the Odyssey, Alice in Wonderland, and probably way more I didn’t catch. And the METAPHORS, guys. Mosquitoland is rife with ’em. (She’s freaking blind in one eye. Just saying.) But beyond providing a literary scavenger hunt that keeps nerds like me happy, Arnold, speaking through Mim (and other characters), gives us so much to think about, to the point that I’m still hashing and rehashing things days after closing the book. That, to me, is what makes this a winner.

(TLDR: While weird and unusual, Mosquitoland is a must read!) 

Who I recommend this to:

  • Honestly, I can’t fit this book into any one category. I suggest everyone should download a sample or flip through a few pages, and then if you’re intrigued, count that as a green light.
  • High school, college, and beyond (warning: language, sexual violence, mental illness, mentions of suicide)

 

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January Book Haul (aka My Bank Account Is in Pain)

February 5, 2015 92320 PM EST-1

Happy February! I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season and New Year!

Surprisingly, I had a relatively book-free Christmas gift exchange this year (maybe my family’s trying to tell me something…), but never fear. My book-buying habits took control in January, much to the chagrin of my bookshelf and wallet. But to be fair, I was on well-needed vacation and deserved to spoil myself. While visiting my best friend, I was taken to two different bookstores (she knows me and my tastes well), and I came home with this pile of beauties!

Seeing as I haven’t posted anything in a while (but do have multiple reviews planned), I wanted to share my purchases with you in the meantime.

IMG_20150205_2232561. Firefight (Reckoners Series #2) by Brandon Sanderson

I bought this book before anything else, AND on its official publication date, January 6. Why? Because the first book in this series, Steelheart, completely blew me away, and I couldn’t wait to have this beautiful story (with its awesome cover) in my hands. In Steelheart, a meteor crash gives superpowers to a select few humans, who in turn become supervillians and world dictators. David, a human orphaned by by one such dictator, teams up with a vigilante group called the Reckoners to take down the dictator. This second installment continues David’s story and promises just as much action and thrills at the first.

2015-02-05 21.00.592-3. The Darkest Minds and Never Fade (Darkest Minds #1 and 2) by Alexandra Bracken

I’ve heard nothing but good things about these books, and so I picked them up at the same time as Firefight. To be honest, I’m going into this series pretty blind: all I know is a virus takes out most of the world’s children, and the survivors are kept in secluded camps by the government. The premise sounds promising, and there’s no mention of romance in the book blurb (not that romance is bad, but I love a good action story). I’ll definitely review these books once I finish them, and I really look forward to sharing my thoughts with you.

2015-02-05 20.59.444. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

This book was published nearly five years ago, so I’m definitely behind the hype, but I’ve been meaning to pick this book up for forever. Like others by Lauren Oliver, the novel falls into the thriller/mystery genre, with a post-mortem protagonist investigating the events of her death. Again, I’m to this book also a bit blind, but I trust Oliver’s writing and can’t wait to start this.

 

 

 

2015-02-05 21.00.095. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

I’m also very late in getting to this book, but after reading Anderson’s The Impossible Knife of Memory and adoring it, I plan to read every book she’s written. From what I’ve heard, this book deals with deep issues and has sensitive content, but is a beautiful piece of realistic fiction.

Note: I only bought five teen books in January, which is uncharacteristic for me; the rest of my book haul will be adult and literary fiction. My feelings won’t be hurt if you stop reading here.

 

2015-02-05 21.03.136. City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte

This book promises magic and mystery and mythological creatures and Prague–what’s not to love, right? No one I talk books with has read this book or even heard of it, but it just might be a hidden, unknown treasure. I have hope for this book.

 

 

 

 

2015-02-05 21.03.277. Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

I’d been eying this book for a while, and I found it for $1 at a half-price bookstore (happy dance time!). From the back blurb, I gather that the Hawaiian heroine contracts leprosy, and the story follows her experiences as a social outcast. I’m intrigued by this storyline and the setting, so hopefully this won’t disappoint.

 

 

 

 

2015-02-05 21.04.118. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Descriptions of this book are frustratingly vague, but I gather that the plot involves books, secrets, maybe a conspiracy or secret society? I’m not all too sure, but any story that involves books screams my name; plus, I also picked this up for $1, so I had no choice but to add it to my collection.

 

 

 

 

2015-02-05 21.04.569. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

I’ve been meaning to read this classic for forever, but have always been intimidated by its daunting page count. Granted, you can find a million editions of this book at any bookstore, but this particular one was too special for me to resist. Look at that cover! So cute with the illustrations and speech bubbles! I’d like to shake that cover designer’s hand. I’m not sure as to when I’ll get around to reading it, but it’s a lovely thing to look at on my bookshelf.

 

 

 

2015-02-05 21.03.5010. Arabian Nights by Anonymous

I’m such a sucker for mythology and cultural tales, as well as beautiful cover art, so like with Three Musketeers, I bought this without a second thought. Looking back, I did no research into this translation or checked into which tales are included, which may not have been wise. But again, a truly beautiful cover is all it takes.

 

 

 

 

2015-02-05 21.02.4511. Women Who Run With Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

My mythology-loving, feminist reader friends have been begging me to read this for a long time, so I was thrilled to find a hardcover copy for only $2. God bless half-price bookstores! This non-fiction work compiles examples of the independent or “wild” woman in world mythology and cultures. This book has made huge strides in feminist studies and should prove an interesting (and educational) read.

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Quick Review: We Should Hang Out Sometime

Thank you to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing me with a review copy through Netgalley!

Book Overview:

Title: We Should Hang Out Sometime

Author: Josh Sundquist

Genre: Teen Non-fiction/Memoir

Publication Info: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Dec. 2014

Synopsis: On a quest to solve the mystery of why he never had a girlfriend, Josh Sundquist shares and analyzes his dating and relationship experiences.

Book Review:

Overall Rating: 4/5

     On the surface, We Should Hang Out Sometime is a funny memoir of teenage and young adult heartbreak. However, with deeper reading, this book actually delivers much more–namely Sundquist’s thought-provoking exploration of what shaped his identity and decisions from teenage to adult life and how we let our emotional baggage influence our lives.
     To me, this was a realistic and, at times, nostalgic portrait of teenage thought. Dealing with attraction and dating in adolescence and early adulthood is hugely frustrating, with lots of conflicting emotions (optimism, pessimism, fear, courage, desire, awkwardness). Sundquist depicts these emotions honestly (and hilariously) with his retelling of failures and grand romantic gestures, and I often found myself giggling uncontrollably or grimacing in secondhand embarrassment. I followed his stories and feelings without second thought, and I think this proves his true talent for storytelling.I was also touched by the deeper message of this book, showing how fear can blind you, disable you, control your mind, make your decisions for you. As something I’ve experienced often throughout my life, I easily related to Sundquist while reading, and I think teen and adult readers will as well.
     Finally, if I had to sum up this book in one sentence, I would choose the wise words of Rafiki from The Lion King: “The past can hurt. But you can either run from it or learn from it.” I think everyone needs to hear this message, and so I highly recommend this book.
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The YA Gift-Giving Guide

Frequently at work (yes, I work at a bookstore, and yes, it is glorious) I meet parents, adults, teens, and kids all wandering through the teen department with wide-eyed, deer-in-the-headlights expressions. When I approach them, the conversation usually goes something like this…

Customer: “I/my child/my friend just read [insert bestselling teen book here, usually turned into a movie] and loved it. I wanted to find something like it, but holy crap, there’s so many teen books! What else is good?”

Me: “Well, what kind of things do you/your child/your friend like to read? Fantasy, sci-fi, romance, contemporary fiction?”

Customer: “I don’t know. I just really loved [insert same book].”

Me: “Okay… Let me show you some similar books.”

From these conversations, as well as my own reading experience, I’ve learned to have certain fail-safe titles I can recommend that customers almost always go for. With the holidays quickly approaching (is that jingle bells I hear? …nope, just the sound of desperate, sometimes grouchy customers), I’ve put my mental guide on digital paper in the hopes that it’ll help someone at a loss for a gift or in need of a new series to start. And I’m well aware that not all of these suggestions are very original, but I’m recommending them anyway and you can’t stop me! [Insert maniacal cackling]

IF THEY LIKE… THEY’LL LOVE…
Emotional stories dealing with real-life issues, such as:

 
 Humorous, real-life stories with witty characters, such as:
 
Action-packed stories set in dystopian worlds, such as:
 Realistic and dark stories of post-apocalyptic worlds, such as:
 
 Alternate universe retellings of familiar stories, such as: 
 
 Fantasy and magic-filled stories with strong heroines, such as:
 
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Review: Dark Triumph

Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Books for Children for providing me with a review copy through Netgalley! 

Book Overview:

Title: Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) 

 Author: Robin LaFevers

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Publication Info: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2013

Synopsis: Placed back into the household of her terrifying and cruel father, Count D’Albret, Sybella must conceal not only her identity as a handmaiden of death, but also her mission to kill the Count. Yet obstacles to her mission quickly arise, and Sybella must decide what is more important, revenge or justice.

(Note: To see a review of the first book of the series, Grave Mercy, click here.)

Book Review:

Overall Rating: 5/5

This book takes the series to a deeper and darker level of politics, relationships, and justice, and as in the Throne of Glass series, the second book is far better than the first. I finished this book in just two days, which (with my crazy life schedule) shows just how absorbing the storyline and characters are. Please make time to read this book–it’s so worth it!

Plot:

My main complaint against Grave Mercy was that I felt the story relied too heavily on dialogue, politics, and romance/infatuation, so at first I was wary of reading this book at all. I can’t begin to describe how shocked I was at the difference between this book and the first in the series; although political issues and romance definitely play their part in Sybella’s story, they’re offset by action and backstory (this is a word, right? I feel like it’s a word. I’ll get back to you on that). And I could talk for hours on Sybella’s backstory–how she distances herself and makes every decision based on not only the trauma she experienced, but also her deep understanding of her father’s nature and others’ ability to overlook his brutality. In a nutshell, LaFevers weaves together Sybella’s past and present beautifully to create a perfectly balanced story.

Characters:

LaFevers continues to make multi-faceted, complex characters, like Beast, D’Albret, and Sybella. In particular, Sybella’s past (increasingly revealed) and conflicting emotions and loyalties make her an intriguing and unique character to follow. As is probably obvious by now, I absolutely adored and supported Sybella throughout the whole book. Although I did also appreciate Ismae’s feisty nature in the first book, I somehow didn’t connect with her in the way I have with Sybella. This heroine is wary of others, untrusting of Mortrain and the abbey’s intentions, and bitter–and all rightfully so. As more and more of Sybella’s past is revealed, the reader can understand her decisions more, and every action of hers that might have been questionable makes perfect sense. But the beauty of LaFever’s characterization is that the reader can see Sybella growing throughout the book, can sense her begin to trust and protect others, instead of only looking out for herself. This, I think, is where LaFevers developed most as a writer, and I can’t wait to see what the next book will hold with Annith.

Writing Quality:

LaFevers continued to use historically accurate language, over which I practically threw up with happiness (hint: slight exaggeration there). She even mentions in her notes at the end (yes, I read author’s notes and introductions because I’m a geek like that) that she researched specific words and usage to stay as accurate and meaningful as possible–super kudos to her for this! This attention to detail was definitely apparent in other aspects of the writing, as with characterization and plot, as well as timing. Her action-filled storyline and romance are not rushed, and I give major props for the pacing of this book. Like Sybella’s character, the story draws you in subtly but strongly, and  I was hooked long before I realized it.

(TLDR: This book and its writing are killer, so you should buy and read it pronto!

Who I recommend this to:

  • Readers who enjoy bada** heroines with well-developed backstories
  • Fans of The Grisha series, Throne of Glass series, Mortal Instruments series
  • Late high school, college, and beyond (warning: strong amounts of violence, death, mentions of sex)

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Review: Heir of Fire

Book Overview:

Title: Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3)

 Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Publication Info: Bloomsbury Childrens, Sep. 2, 2014

Synopsis: After the death of her best friend, Celaena vows to end the King of Adarlan’s rule by traveling to Wendlyn and discovering the secrets of the King’s power. Yet she quickly finds that, to defeat the king, she must come to terms with  her true identity and destiny.

 Book Review:

Overall Rating: 5/5

This book is by far the best and most amazing threequel (yes, that is a word) I have ever read. I honestly cannot find words to describe how perfect this novel is, so I will attempt to say what this novel isn’t.

Heir of Fire is not a resolution or ending. It is not a continuation or simply another step in the chain of events. It is not a quest story. It is not a teen fantasy story. It is not a romantic love triangle story. And it is not the story of Celaena, or Chaol, or Dorian.

Heir of Fire is the story of Adarlan and Wendlyn and Terrasen and Ellwye, and it is the story who Celaena was and what she will become to these countries and people.

If this description seems overly vague or confusing, please know that this is intentional. Only by reading this series will you understand how truly phenomenal and revolutionary these books are. So please find time in your busy lives to read Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, and Heir of Fire. .

Plot:

This book begins with Calaena at the lowest point we have seen her, grieving for the loss of Nehemia, broken by ending things with Chaol, and utterly emptied of ambition and motivation. From this beginning, I knew Heir of Fire would not be the typical revenge or quest story. Celaena shows authentic signs of grief and depression throughout the novel, and because of this, her experiences become very real: even when we want to shake her for making stupid decisions or become frustrated with her apathy and indifference, we understand the emotions and drive behind her actions. Even if I didn’t agree with her actions, I supported and cheered on Celaena throughout every step of the plot, and I’m so impressed by Maas’ ability to keep me so well hooked.

Maas also flawlessly weaves together so many plots and characters. Although obviously Celaena is the main character, both Chaol and Dorian are given separate plot lines (along with new characters, such as Aedion and Sorscha) with their own complexity and depth. Yet everything intersects and builds together so that you quickly forget you’re reading about a nonexistent world, which I consider the mark of amazing writing.

Furthermore, this book provides so much more depth and material for the series to continue. While I fully expected Maas to start wrapping up development of  the plot and world, I was delighted to find the exact opposite — in a style that reminded me of George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series, everything and everyone grows and becomes more complex, creating new conflicts and problems to solve. If I was invested in the series before, I am now ten times more so!

Characters:

As mentioned before, Celaena becomes even more real and human in this book through her grief and depression and apathy. Even in grief, she still remains as sarcastic and stubborn and combative as ever, but the darker emotions give depth and meaning to her responses and actions. And she is forced beyond her limits, becoming a version of Celaena we have never seen before; we learn so much of her past and see how her Fae heritage will change her future.

Both Chaol and Dorian show tremendous growth as characters, Chaol struggling to move past his feelings for Celaena and finding where his true loyalty lies, and Dorian working to control his newfound magic.

Additionally, as if the book couldn’t get any better, we meet so many new characters with complex motives and personalities of their own: Aedion, Sorscha, Rowan, etc. Although all of these characters deserve descriptions of their own, allow me to expound on Rowan,  a character who becomes incredibly important. When Celaena first meets Rowan, he is painstakingly abrasive and harsh — as well as violent and potentially sadistic — and this characterization is constant for a large portion of the book. But he certainly grows and develops. The changes in his character are subtle and well-hidden, so that you don’t realize how much you love this asshole until find yourself defending his every action and smiling at his sarcastic, cynical comments. Take caution.

Writing Quality:

Again, the worldbuilding Maas accomplishes in this book alone is more than in the previous books combined, with what we learn not only of Celaena’s past, but also of the Fae and the Wyrdkeys (and even the Valg). Due to this, I would consider Heir of Fire a true fantasy book, because this world certainly has more complexity and background than most worlds in teen novels. And after reading this third installment, I have no hesitation in saying that this is the best teen series I have ever read, not just in depth, but also in characterization and plot and writing style.

Who I recommend this to:

  • EVERYONE (or more specifically, everyone who enjoys fantasy)
  • Fans of The Grisha series, His Fair Assassin series, Mortal Instruments series
  • Late high school, college, and beyond (warning: language, violence, mentions of sex and drugs)

 

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Spotlight: Ready Player One

 

Title: Ready Player One

Author: Ernest Cline

Genre: Adult Fiction, Science Fiction

Publication Info: Random House, 2011

Synopsis: The earth has been ruined and wasted by humans, but everyone can escape their dismal lives through OASIS, a virtual reality game created by James Halliday. After Halliday’s death, it is announced that should a player find Halliday’s egg hidden somewhere in the game, that player will inherit Halliday’s enormous fortune. Years in the future, when most have given up the search, the unlikely hero Wade Watts unlocks the first puzzle and is thrown into a fierce competition for the egg and his life.

This book is such a creative, fast-paced, and imaginative read! Cline wonderfully combines 80’s pop culture, nerdy references, and a science fiction world, and it’s impossible to not get drawn in from even the first chapter. Anyone interested in futuristic fiction (or anyone looking for a fun summer read) should check this book out.

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Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory

Book Overview:

Title: The Impossible Knife of Memory

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

Genre: Teen Fiction

Publication Info: Viking Juvenile, 2014

Synopsis: After years on the road with her veteran father, Hayley must adjust to a “normal” life with a permanent home and public schooling. Yet as she struggles to come to terms with her new life, she must also deal with the consequences of her father’s PTSD and worrying behavior.

Book Review:

Overall Rating: 4/5

This was my first novel by Anderson, and I was thoroughly impressed by her frank and beautiful way of telling such a genuine and heartbreaking story. There are so many layers to this book, from Hayley’s issues to her father’s issues to the walls they build around themselves because of these issues, and I loved how Anderson explored these layers and the complexity of the situations. I would not classify this as a happy, light, or fun summer read, but despite its sad content (and few flaws that bothered me), I think this is definitely well worth reading.

Plot:

Like with Fangirl, I often found myself wondering what the plot was building to, mainly because I’ve become accustomed to the clearly defined plotline of teen dystopian/adventure novels. It seemed that Anderson wanted to portray the reality of Hayley’s life, which was well-written and realistic, but I kept asking myself, “What’s the point? What are we heading towards?”

To me, the point of this novel is change. Like Fangirl, we see Hayley adjust and grow over time, and because of this, I would classify the story as one of growing up and finding one’s place. In the beginning, we meet a bitter and reserved protagonist who cannot stand the people around her and does not want her new life. As Hayley faces different challenges, from friendship to romance to the public school system, she begins to change in demeanor and approach, and at some points, I cheered for her — at other points, I wanted to physically shake and scream at her. And that’s how I knew that I was hooked, not only to this character, but also to her storyline. Although Anderson doesn’t give a clear-cut path towards the end of the book, it’s this connection that keeps you reading to the emotional and climactic ending.

And now, my one true quibble with this book —  not the ending, but the epilogue. I refuse to give any details, but I felt that the story would have been more fulfilling if Anderson hadn’t tacked on an epilogue. The resolution of the climactic ending, to me, gave me hope for Hayley and her future, and that was enough. Because I was already fulfilled (plot-wise), the epilogue felt forced and unnecessary, and after a story so real and genuine, telling what happened to everyone afterwards felt suspiciously like a “happily ever after.” But perhaps I’m too cynical, as some people may truly appreciate this epilogue. I leave that to you to decide.

Characters: 

As stated before, Hayley is incredibly bitter, reserved, saracastic, and stubborn to a fault — which means I absolutely loved and connected with this character! (Although what that says about me I’m not going to explore…) Because of all her faults, Hayley was incredibly real to me: I could see her, hear her, as I read, and that is not easy for a writer to accomplish. Well done, Anderson! Hayley’s characterization also shows moments of true depth and complexity as she veers between immature and mature, teenager and adult, around others, particularly her dad. Having to play the parent to one’s parent is not easy, and Anderson showed how damaging and difficult this was to Hayley, as it is to anyone who endures it.

Because of the emotional connection I felt towards Hayley, I was able to experience and understand her reactions to her father. His PTSD and substance abuse is downright scary at times, and when Hayley felt scared or angry, I felt the same. But despite all that, like Hayley I wanted him to succeed and be a father and see his own worth, and this deep connection I felt to the story and characters shows Anderson’s writing genius.

Finally, the romance between Hayley and Finn reminds me of the romance in Fangirl, because it, too, is genuine and authentic. These two fight and misunderstand and become awkward and ignore each other, but at the end of the day, are obviously good for each other. And the romance doesn’t overshadow any of the story, but rather enhances it, which I was so happy about.

Writing Quality:

Although I have yet to read any of Anderson’s other novels, if they are as wonderfully written as this, I have no choice but to read them all. Anderson does not tiptoe around the realities of life, both good and bad, and I really appreciated this straight-forward, truthful approach.

(Because I’m a hypercritical nut, I do have to point out that I caught a few blatant typos and grammatical errors that hopefully are fixed when this is published in paperback.)

Who I recommend this to:

  • Fans of John Green’s novels
  • Fans of Thirteen Reasons Why and the Anonymous novels (i.e. Go Ask Alice, Jay’s Journal)
  • Realistic fiction readers
  • High school, college, and beyond (warning: language, violence, mentions of suicide, sex, alcohol, and drugs)
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Update: Please Don’t Hate Me

I am a horrible person and blogger.

To clarify, yes, I have only posted one review even though I promised three reviews weeks ago. Yes, I am still working on the promised reviews, not only because I owe it to you, but also because all books are fantastic and deserve to be talked about.

Please let me explain why I’ve been so behind on this blog:

  • My new job position has demanded much of my time and focus, and I’m still trying to balance everything else with this change.
  • My spare time has been filled with obligations to my family, church, home (aka cleaning and grocery shopping), and husband.
  • What little free spare time I had was then devoted to reading what little I could and working on a cosplay for Dragon*Con (which is under two months away).
  • I’ve had the worst case of reader’s block — yes, it is a thing, because I just made it up — in which I started three or four books and could not finish any of them. That’s never happened to me before! Thankfully, I can say that the reader’s block is over, thanks to Silver Linings Playbook (which I’ll be reviewing soon).

However, I heartily apologize for my absence and neglect of this blog. I can’t promise a time frame for upcoming reviews (as we know how well that works for me…), but here are the books I plan to share with you soon!

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Review: Fangirl

Book Overview:

Title: Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Genre: Teen Fiction

Publication Info: St. Martin’s Press, 2013

Synopsis: A devoted fangirl and fanfiction writer, Cath must come to terms with adulthood and independence, anxiety, and her evolving relationships with her twin sister, terrifying roommate, and classmates in her first year of college.

Book Review:

Overall Rating: 5/5

Let me say that I rarely consider a book to truly deserve such a high rating. I most often give this rating during the aftereffects of finishing a great book — the “book high,” if you will — or because I ignore or overlook the tiny flaws I noticed while reading. However, it has been quite a while since I finished this book (weeks, even, thanks to my proclivity to apathy and procrastination), yet I still feel that this book deserves a perfect rating. Why? Because Fangirl is the perfect blend of teen and adult content, wit and humor, sadness and emotion, and fantastic writing. I think everyone should give this book a try, or at least read the synopsis, because even if it is outside your interest type, it is a wonderful book.

Plot:

The storyline and plot development of this book is different from others in the teen category, in that most teen books set up a quest or goal for the main character(s) to achieve in the first few chapters, with side plots and events merely adding to the main plot. Fangirl, however, does not really follow this trend, as Rainbow Rowell chooses instead to follow Cath’s life and growth throughout her first year of college. Because the quest plot trend has become so ingrained in me from reading so many teen fantasy novels, I admit I was thrown off by this at the start. But looking back, I really appreciate Rowell’s choice in this, because it shows that the real goal is for Cath to grow and change and accept herself, rather than win a boyfriend or become popular. And this, to me, is what life and college are really like, so when you read this book, you are reading real life experiences.

Seriousness aside, the romance in this book is by far one of the most perfect and well-written relationships I’ve ever encountered. Here are the five reasons why: (1) awkwardness, (2) tension, (3) fighting/misunderstandings, (4) slow development, (5) actual chemistry. If you want to know what real romantic relationships are like, look no further than this book.

Finally, I tremendously appreciated the ending of this book. I won’t spoil anything, but Rowell doesn’t spell out everything in Cath’s future for the reader, which in this book did not seem necessary. Personally, it meant that it was enough that Cath had grown and changed, and while she still had things to learn and do, we are given confidence that she can handle them. This is genius to me.

Characters:

If it feels like I’m fangirling and raving over this book, you may want to skip over this portion, because I can do nothing but rave over the characters in this book.

Cath is such a relatable protagonist to me, as she struggles with shyness, anxiety, and the inability to connect with others — all things I have struggled with and continue to deal with on a daily basis. While some may not be able to relate to her position as a fanfiction writer and devoted fan of Simon Snow, her personality traits are enough to make her frustrating and realistic in the most endearing way possible. (So many times I wanted to shake Cath and yell at her, only to realize I did the same things in college.)

I’ve already ranted about the romance of the novel, but allow me to briefly say that Levi, Cath’s romantic interest, is so lovable and interesting and intriguing. Yet another point for Rowell.

Even the smaller characters of this book read like authentic, real people to me, such as Wren, Cath’s father, Reagan, Nick, etc. Every character reminds me of people I have met and known, which is a feat of great writing to me.

Writing Quality:

I have absolutely nothing negative to say about the writing or quality of this novel as a whole. Everything is well-developed, well-timed, and well-written.

 

Who I recommend this to:

  • Fans of John Green’s novels
  • Realistic fiction readers
  • Romance readers
  • Soon-to-be or current college students
  • High school, college, and beyond (warning: language, mentions of sex, drugs, alcohol)

 

 

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