Book Reviews

Landline by Rainbow Rowell – Book Review

Image result for landline rainbow rowell

“Nobody’s lives just fit together. Fitting together is something you work at. It’s something you make happen – because you love each other.”

This was the only Rainbow Rowell book I had left to read, so far. I’m hoping she writes a lot more in the future. I’ve loved Rainbow Rowell for many years. Her books are charming, even when I don’t completely love them. This was one of those books where I wasn’t blown away, but I also enjoyed my time with it.

Landline follows Georgie McCool as she tries to balance her career as a TV writer and her married life with Neal. Due to her sudden workload during Christmastime, Georgie has to stay in California while Neal takes their children to Omaha. During the course of the book, Georgie reminisces on the days when she’d gotten to know Neal. This all happens when she discovers that the landline phone at her mother’s house is a direct line to the twenty-something version of her husband, before they were married. Somehow, Georgie gets to talk to him in the past.

I was really into the premise of the story. The characters felt solid and so real. I understood the message as well. Sometimes marriages are really hard. People drift apart even when they love each other. People in love can have unhappy marriages. And it took this bit of magic for Georgie to realize just how much she loved her husband, and how she wanted to drop everything to be with him. The flashbacks to the earlier years between them were nice, though this is where my problems with the story begin.

I knew I was supposed to be rooting for Neal, obviously. He’s Georgie’s husband, and he’s the only love interest in the book. I get that, I do. However, Seth was the most amazing character to me. Maybe it was the way he was described, but the man sounded incredible. First of all, he was a TV writer, he was very loyal, focused, trustworthy, hard-working, and he loved Georgie a lot. Yeah, I understood that he was just her friend, but between him and Neal, I would have chosen Seth. Also, the way the story set it up, it sounded like Georgie’s first choice had been Seth, but she’d settled for Neal. Maybe I misread that, but I could see why it would be that way. Seth was the whole package. And Seth didn’t growl.

One of my many problems with the book was Neal. I couldn’t find the charm in Neal–at all. He was very bland and dull. I usually love awkward artsy characters, but Neal bored me. So much. And his growls? Why the hell did he growl so much? It was so unnecessary. He scared me sometimes. Sue me, but if I’m having a normal conversation with someone and they growl at me? I will never want to talk to them again. I mean, was he secretly a dog? Ridiculous. Anyway, since I didn’t love Neal, I didn’t love the romance.

I thought that Georgie blamed herself for everything, when she really shouldn’t have. Prioritizing her career wasn’t a bad thing. Working during the holidays on her dream TV show wasn’t a bad thing. Neal threw a fuss about it, made her feel like she was doing something so wrong. Maybe I’m a selfish person, but being a TV writer is my dream job. I was so upset when Georgie slacked off on her show because she couldn’t stop thinking about Neal. I loved Seth even more for trying to talk some sense into her, but she treated Seth like crap.

I realize this is starting to sound like a rant rather than a review, but I have a lot of thoughts about this book. It’s a good thing. I love books that make me rant. Despite all of my issues, I really liked the book. It was worth reading. I loved the magic of it all. I loved that there was a phone that could connect you to the past. That was a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to more Rainbow Rowell books!

3 stars

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Book Reviews

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – Book Review

“Oh, yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone.”

I consider myself a Rainbow Rowell fan. I’ve always connected with her stories, her characters, her quirky dialogue and beautiful love stories. I always expect the best of the best when I pick up one of her books. I’m saying this because, unfortunately, Attachments is my least favorite of her books.

This story follows Lincoln, a twenty-eight year old man trying to figure out his life. Lincoln works at a newspaper as an internet security person in charge of monitoring people’s e-mails, and such. There he stumbles upon the fun e-mail exchanges between Beth and Jennifer, who are constantly breaking company rules. Lincoln decides not to send either of them a warning, and simply reads their conversations.

The entire thing plays out like an old rom-com. Lincoln realizes he has feelings for Beth, but he has no idea what she looks like. All we learn about Beth and Jennifer is through their e-mails, but the story centers on Lincoln’s life. For some reason, Lincoln’s first serious girlfriend gets a big lengthy spotlight in the narration. That was where I got completely bored. I still don’t understand why the story focused so much on Lincoln’s first girlfriend, who ended up being a pretty shitty character.

Anyway, I couldn’t connect with any of the characters. Lincoln was so dull, and he didn’t have a personality. He was living with his mom at the start of the book, and he let her rule over him. Sure, he goes through a transition, and some character development, but he still doesn’t become interesting. I liked Jennifer a lot. Her storyline was my favorite in the entire book. I thought Beth and Jennifer were really cute, and I enjoyed their e-mails. Lincoln’s life, not so much.

This doesn’t read like a romance novel. And maybe that’s okay, but then, I’m not sure what exactly this is. Was it a coming of age story? Was it a friendship story? Was it an exposition on e-mail security? I mean, what the hell?

I gotta say, though, I liked the ending. It was quite lovely. I don’t regularly love the endings to any of Rowell’s books, but this one was my favorite. It wrapped everything the way I’d hoped, and it was worth the wait. The rest of the story, not so much.

Nonetheless, I am still a Rainbow Rowell fan. I still have to read Landline, and I’m honestly excited to get to it. I’m looking forward to everything else she writes. I understand this was her very first novel, so I’m gonna let it slide. Maybe it just wasn’t for me. I would still recommend this to fans of old school romantic comedies, with minimum romance.

Book Reviews

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – Book Review

“What you are is a fucking tragedy, Simon Snow. You literally couldn’t be a bigger mess.”

I’ve done it. I’ve read my most anticipated book of 2015, a few days before the year is over. I have a few things to say about Rowell’s newest release.

Carry On was born from Fangirl. It is essentially Harry Potter fanfiction, a la Rowell. The gist of it is that there’s a powerful magician by the name of Simon Snow, and he is the Chosen One, born to defeat the threat to the magic world, the Insidious Humdrum. Simon has a trusty, brilliant friend, Penny, a girlfriend he doesn’t really love, Agatha, and an enemy with a dark secret, Baz.

One of my favorite things about this book is the magic system. Words–commonly used phrases, lyrics, poetry, plays–make up the spells used by the magicians. There are so many fun spells. However, many things regarding this magic system were never explained.

The story is filled with many subplots, stacked one on top of the other, and I also didn’t feel like many of them were explained. The story itself was entertaining enough that I still wanted to keep reading to find out as much as possible. Some things were fully revealed and brought to a satisfying close. Others, not so much.

The characters were another thing entirely. We have Simon Snow, who is, well, he’s Simon Snow. He’s always eating, and he’s a terrible magician, and he’s a little bit obsessed with Baz. And with all of that, I found Simon to be quite endearing.

Then we have Penny, the quirky one that always has Simon’s back and is excellent at keeping him out of trouble. She is much better at using her magic than Simon. And she is incredibly intelligent. Sound familiar?

Agatha is Simon’s girlfriend. She is beautiful and rich, but her parents want to marry her off to a stronger magician so her children can be powerful. Although she was painted as an average, sort of annoying character, I had a soft spot for Agatha. I liked her honesty a lot.

And finally, we have Baz. His full name is incredibly long and ridiculous, so I’ll just keep it short and simple. He’s dark, mysterious, snarky, and secretly a vampire. I get the sense everyone is obsessed with Baz, but he wasn’t my cup of tea. I couldn’t really find anything to cling to when it came to his character. I pictured a beautiful boy, but not more than that.  I’m in the minority here, oh well.

There was a lot to love about Carry On, really. I devoured it in three days, lost sleep over it, laughed out loud, but I never felt completely satisfied with the resolution. I was left with more questions than answers, and a love story I was never completely sold on. Again, I’m sure I’m in the minority here, but that’s just my opinion.

I have to admit, I much prefer Rowell’s contemporary novels over her first attempt into fantasy. I think she always has a perfect balance of romance and real life issues in her other novels. But in this one, the magical issues were overwhelming sometimes, and there wasn’t quite as much romance–not enough to sell me on it anyway–to balance it out.

Book Reviews

My True Love Gave To Me – Book Review!

I’ve gotta be honest. The only reason I bought this book (aside from Rainbow Rowell’s story), was because of the pretty UK cover. Yeah, I’m not ashamed. The book is beautiful on the outside. On the inside, well, there’s a variety of quality.

Everyone has been rating each story individually, and I think I will follow the trend. So, here we go.

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell – 5/5 stars
I love Rainbow Rowell’s writing. I love it so much. I think there’s something so genuine and sweet about her characters. She is just brilliant. This story was excellent. It follows two best friends, Mags and Noel, who met one New Year’s Eve at a party. The story jumps from New Year’s Eve for about four years, told in past and present povs. This story was too short, but it still managed to tear me up. It made me giddy. It made me feel things that I never thought I could feel again. This story was everything. I asked Rowell if she would ever write more, and she gave me a “maybe someday” so I guess that’ll do for now.

The Lady and The Fox by Kelly Link – 2/5 stars
I’m not sure what this story was about. The writing style was often really nice, but at other times it just annoyed me. The characters confused me. The story confused me. And near the end, the love story really made me uneasy. It had a good premise, but it wasn’t executed well. It made me hate Christmas more than I already do.

Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Pena – 4.5/5 stars
I think my favorite thing about this story was the writing style. It felt so true to the character. I loved that the MC was so honest with himself, even if he wasn’t honest with the other characters in the story. Also, there was a cat. It was all very well-done. I didn’t love the romance, but I think it went deeper than the romance. It touched with social and family issues. I enjoyed it.

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han – 3/5 stars
Elves, am I right? Who wants to read about them? I didn’t. Not until I read this story and I found that hey, elves aren’t that bad. I thought the story was interesting. Santa adopts a girl and she’s raised by him in the North Pole, surrounded by elves. Isn’t that just the premise to the movie “Elf”? Yeah, but this one has a twist. There’s a love square. So, not a love triangle, but a square. I think my favorite thing about this story was the elf the MC falls for.

It’s A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins – 4/5 stars
My first Perkins read, and it was not bad. This story managed to really capture my interest, although it was only set in a few hours in the same day. There was character development, and that was impressive. I liked the quirky, witty characters. I liked the writing style. It was all really lovely. But it didn’t really grip me completely. I kind of didn’t buy into the whole passionate almost-love in the end. I don’t think it works that fast. Other than that, great story.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan – 3.5/5 stars
Why am I giving a David Levithan story less than 5 stars? Granted, I’ve only ever read one of his books, but it was an amazing book. But this story wasn’t really interesting. It had a gay couple, which was very nice, but the couple wasn’t a part of this story. In fact, they didn’t even mention the name of the MC, which pissed me off. I wanted more details. I wanted more insight into this relationship that sounded so lovely. Why didn’t you give me that, Levithan? I believed in you. You could have made this so awesome.

Krampuslauf by Holly Black – 1/5 stars
One word to describe this story: bizarre. There was magic. Random, senseless magic. Stupid MC. A plot that was all over the place, which was also senseless. A fucking strange love story. And the characters never reacted appropriately. It also bored the shit out of me. I am so sorry, Holly Black, for being such a bitch about your story. I’m sure your other stuff is better.

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman – 3/5 stars
I had high hopes for this. And part of me expected this story to be told in flashbacks. Classic Forman style. But it wasn’t. And although there were some really cool parts to the story and the characters, mostly I was confused and bored. And I’m not really sure what kind of point Forman was trying to make. Something about religion and money? Hmm.

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire – 2.5/5 stars
Why did I feel like I was being preached to during this entire story? Religious girl who can’t even say the word “Hell”? Um, not really my thing. Or the trouble guy who decides to be good for his church girl? Not my thing either. It’s nothing against religion on being a generally “good” person. It’s about feeling like I’m being preached to. That being said, I liked some parts of the story. It was well-written.

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White – 5/5 stars
After so many not-great stories in a row, I was so relieved to find something so incredibly perfect! This story warmed my heart, and that’s not easy to do. The characters were rounded and incredibly real. The magical realism in this story was done so beautifully. It was subtle but it was wonderful. And Ben? What can I say about Ben? That boy was exactly as Maria said–a cup of hot cocoa. On a rainy day. With nothing to do but read a good book. Also, this story made me hungry.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter – 3/5 stars
This story was really unbelievable at times, but it also drew my interest. The ending really threw me off. I didn’t find that believable either. I liked the big reveal and the romance somewhat. I liked the message of finding your home, which I’ve found to be a common theme in these stories. Also, the “I must get away” theme. Other stories did it better. Like the previous one, for example.

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – 1.5/5 stars
I mostly skimmed this story. It was too whimsical for my liking. I didn’t understand its point or message or anything. The characters annoyed me. All of them. The writing was nice at times. Mostly it made me roll my eyes. Maybe it’s me not liking fantasy. I never have. I almost didn’t finish this book because it was painful having to read this absurdity.

So, there it is. I found some really good stories amongst some really not so good ones. I think it was worth reading just for those few amazing stories.

-Isis

Categories

Women Authors

I got to thinking: How many women authors have I read so far? I’d always figured that most of my favorite books were written by women, but making this list proved to be difficult. And that made me ashamed of myself. I’m a woman. I’m a writer. Why am I not reading more novels by women? I felt it was necessary to spotlight these twelve women authors who have made an impact on my life so far.

  • Rainbow Rowell

Who doesn’t love Rainbow Rowell’s novels? She crafts her stories with beautiful words every time. Her characters feel real. And her poetic narrative always leaves me smiling.

Attachments
Eleanor & Park
Fangirl
Landline

  • Julie Anne Peters

This lovely author writes lgbt novels that I adore. She writes from the heart, and she writes impactful stories. I think everyone needs a little bit of Peters in their lives.

Luna
Far From Xanadu
Keeping You A Secret
By The Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead…
Define “Normal”
Between Mom and Jo

  • J.K. Rowling

I don’t think Rowling needs much of a description. If you haven’t already heard of her then you might be living under a rock.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The Casual Vacancy

  • Jane Austen

Although I’ve only read one of her novels, Jane Austen is my queen. She is incredible. And I completely believe that she was a feminist.

Sense and Sensibility
Pride and Prejudice
Emma
Persuasion
Mansfield Park
Northanger Abbey

  • R.J. Palacio

Yes, Wonder is one of my favorite novels. And I am still waiting for this wonderfully talented author to write more! Perhaps a sequel?

Wonder
365 Days of Wonder
The Julian Chapter

  • Suzanne Collins

The woman who created the memorable Hunger Games. Ah, yes, the cause of my pain and tears. And yet I still love her.

The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
Mockingjay

  • Victoria Schwab

AKA the woman who makes me feel terribly guilty for not writing. If you don’t already, I recommend you follow Schwab on Twitter. (@veschwab) She’s amazing and she’s a constant motivation to keep writing. Also, her books are fantastic.

The Archived
The Unbound
The Near Witch
Vicious

  • Tahereh Mafi

I love her. I love her shoes. I love her books. I love her words. I’m so ready for her new books! And maybe also for another Shatter Me book, if that’s not asking too much.

Shatter Me
Destroy Me
Unravel Me
Fracture Me

Ignite Me

  • Victoria Vantoch

Here is a woman I would love to meet someday. Not only is she a wonderful author, but she is also an incredibly unique individual. She’s bizarre in the most beautiful ways. She’s adventurous. She’s creative. She’s intelligent. She’s a person worth looking up to.

The Jet Sex
The Threesome Handbook

  • Gayle Forman

Ever since I read If I Stay, I’ve been so into this woman’s writing style. I love the way she creates so much with so little words. Those are the best types of books to me. And her characters always leave a trace with me.

If I Stay
Where She Went

Just One Day
Just One Year

  • Lois Lowry

The Giver was incredible. So much that it left me thinking about it for weeks after I finished it. And no, I wasn’t forced to read it while in school. I picked it up on my own, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I can’t wait to finish the rest of the books in the series.

The Giver
Gathering Blue
Messenger
Son
Number the Stars
The Silent Boy

  • Sylvia Plath

After reading The Bell Jar, I felt different. I can’t really explain how, but I did. That book made me think of so many things I’d been trying to ignore. I think of Plath as an enigma. And I wonder about the type of stuff she must have dealt with in her lifetime.

The Bell Jar
Ariel

Letters Home
Crossing the Water

-Isis