Posts Tagged With: Fangirl

Book Reviews: Back To School

I was hoping for some fall-like rain, but this wasn’t what I had in mind.  It’s overcast and still in the 90s out, oppressive and muggy.  We might get ¼ of an inch of rain at some point tonight, says the weather guy on NPR, or we may just get dry thunderstorms.

Every little bit counts?

I had thought to do a review of something I’m reading lately, but all I’m reading is a host of romance novels by Sarah Maclean.  Her romance stuff is positively feminist, and I’m in love with all of it.  I can’t put them down.  It’s only been a few weeks and I’m almost out of her backlist already.  Sigh.

And so I’ll turn to old things to recommend to you instead.  It’s still early enough in the year that I can do back to school books, right?  These are three of my favorites, no matter where you happen to be going:

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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: Cath Avery, freshman, girl obsessed with all things Simon Snow and Watford the wizard school, is dismayed when her sister doesn’t want to room with her their first year in college.  They’ve always shared a room, and Cath isn’t at all equipped for new people, least of all her scary, taciturn roommate and her cute farm boy boyfriend who is always hanging around.  Couple that with a professor who thinks Cath’s fanfic is plagiarism, and a mentally ill father who goes a little nutty without his girls in the house, and Cath’s Anxieties abound.  But as her life as she knew it unravels, Cath realizes that she might have strength for something more.

This book is one of my favorite things ever.  Cath is so sweetly neurotic that you at once feel like she embodies everything you’ve ever worried about.  But she also never fails to make me feel normal, that my own anxieties are manageable. I don’t need to be forced to the dining hall and am able to kiss a boy while thinking about it, for example.  It makes it feel okay to be broken and to come from a crazy but loving home.  It makes it feel okay to take kissing seriously, to not follow the rhythms of the world around you like so many of us don’t.

I’ve read this book probably 3 times already since I found it a few years ago, and I’m not planning to stop any time soon.

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Princess Academy by Shannon Hale: Miri and the other girls in her small, poor mountain village are dismayed when an emissary from the king brings a missive to their far-away town: the priests have divined that the prince’s next bride will be from here.  Instead of working in the quarry to feed their families, all girls of a certain age must go away and attend a princess academy to ready themselves. The teacher is mean, the lessons useless for Miri’s old life, and even the other girls seem to be her enemy.  But eventually circumstances force them to get along, and Miri learns a secret that could ensure her village has enough to eat for all the future winters, if she can only execute the plan correctly.

This book is supposedly middle grade, I think, but it’s a really lovely tale about poverty and the importance of education, love, and diplomacy.  Miri is such a sweet girl that you find yourself rooting for her the whole way.  This book is the first of a series, and the themes grow up as Miri does.  Each chapter is headed by a sweet song.  Definitely worth checking out all of them.

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Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman: Told through letters, bulletins, waste paper trash, and other scraps of paper, this book is the chronicle of one English teacher’s first year at an urban high school.  It has bureaucracy, ill-behaved students, crazy administrators, and a cadre of other things that make it both sweet and exasperating.

There’s a reason it’s a classic, and even though it was written in the 1960s a lot of it still feels immediate.  Teachers are still fighting the good fight to put knowledge in kid’s heads, and kids are still irreverent jerks sometimes.  It’s a quick read, too.  Short and sweet.  I heartily recommend it.

 

As always, happy reading!

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Book Reviews: 3 by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell is my new obsession.  Her books are filled with flawed characters who live in the world I do and want the things I want.  Her plots may be slightly unlikely, but they err on the “OMG I wish that happened to me,” side.  Oddly enough, they make me long for that time when I was 20 and uncertain of everything except how much I loved Brian.  And how easy it was to love him in detail back then without the cares of the world to intercede.  I don’t get nostalgic for my 20s often, so the fact that Rowell can do that is a form of magic.  At this point, I’ll be reading everything she’s ever written.  The only one I haven’t dived into so far is Eleanor and Park.

My conclusion in a nutshell: READ THEM!  READ THEM ALL!  NOW!

Rainbow Rowell

Attachments: A Novel

I picked up this book because the premise sounded fun.  Man hired to read and screen company e-mails gets sucked in by the quippy correspondence between two girls in the office and falls in love with one.  I mean, it was written by a woman named Rainbow.  It had to be fun, right?  I expected a cute, light read.  What I didn’t expect was the depth of character.

Lincoln (the e-mail reader) is this sad guy deeply in need of, well, something.  He lives with his mother and pines for the high school girlfriend who cheated on him once they got to college.  He’s pathetic, but there’s something so attractive about him just the same.  You feel sorry for him, but at the same time you can see how a girl would fall head over heels for him.  I don’t know how Rowell does that, but it’s brilliant.  One of the many reasons to love her.

There is depth in the story of the two girls, also.  One pregnant with a baby she isn’t sure she wants even though she’s happily married.  And another who is trapped in a relationship with a man who has been very clear that he will never marry her, despite her desire to get married.  They go beyond being funny (which they are – hilarious), and become genuine people.

I won’t say too much, but the ending is way more satisfying than I ever thought it could be.  A+

Landline: A Novel

This book is strange, from the standpoint that everything else in Georgie’s life is totally normal, except that she finds a telephone in her bedroom that calls the past.  When she has to stay at home over the holidays to work on a script, her husband takes the kids to his mom’s house without her.  And then is strangely unreachable.  Also enter complicated relationship with male best friend.  So she calls on the telephone and talks to her husband Neal just before he proposed to her, in another time and place 20 years earlier when they were also on the rocks.

This book felt really familiar, in that I think all people who are married build up baggage and decide that the other person is  judging them for things when they might not be.  And that there is a past that was blissful without responsibility involved.  This is the book that made me really nostalgic for those college days when I used to drop by Brian’s house between classes, when he took me out for hot fudge sundaes after work at 2 am.

If this book has any flaws, it is the unlikeliness of that phone existing, and the fact that there doesn’t seem to be an unsolvable problem between Georgie and Neal.  It’s all in her head.  But the flaws might be all in my head.  It was a pretty great read.

Fangirl: A Novel

Just as I’m about to say that this one is my favorite of the three, I remember how great the other two were.  But seriously, this one is SO GREAT.  Cath and Wren (twins) go off to college, and socially challenged Cath is dismayed to find out that her sister doesn’t want to hang out once there.  Cath much prefers the online community she’s built as a fan fiction writing mogul to meeting any new people at all.

But it’s about living with social anxiety, living with a mentally-ill father, dealing with the tragedies in your past, learning to write, and letting yourself fall in love.  Cath’s roommate, Regan, is so negative that she’s hilarious.  Levi’s aerie in the house he lives in is my favorite thing ever.  I would never leave.  And there are super-hot, reading aloud to each other leads to heavy petting, scenes.  Basically every fantasy I’ve ever had.  Another amazing read.

I hear there’s going to be an actual Simon Snow novel next.  I’m a little thrilled about that.

All links are Amazon Affiliate links. Happy reading!

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