Tag Archives: 4 stars

‘Fangirl’ by Rainbow Rowell

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

I’m glad I didn’t give up on Rainbow Rowell. But I still think it’s a stupid name. Some of you may remember my absolute horror at reading ‘Landline’ earlier this year. This was Rowell’s first attempt (and I use that word with heavy sarcasm) at writing adult fiction. It won Goodreads book of 2014. I read only good reviews. I read it. Hated it. Boring, adulty, nonsense. GOD ADULTS ARE BORING. And I am one myself. Mostly.

Then I read ‘Fangirl’, and the Rainbow Rowell fanclub made a lot more sense. Rowell has captured the epic reader’s life in 460 pages. In my version of the book anyway. In a nutshell: life is just something that happens around books. Sometimes it can appear to be dull and grey and frankly messy. But life in your perfect little book is just that. Perfect. I have never related to a character so perfectly as I did with Cather and Wren. The utter obsession with a book, the desire to live in it’s pages, the disdain for people who like the Great Outside.

Our protagonist Cather, is an antisocial fanfic writer. She’s a nobody in the real world, but online? Bitch is famous. I can’t imagine the pressure of having thousands of people read your posts every day. When I make a spelling mistake, chances are no one mean enough to point out my spelling mistake is going to tell me before I get the chance to fix it myself. And even I sweat it out seeing the little “beep beep boop” that says your post is live. Still isn’t enough to make me read over what I’ve written before I post it though. Such effort am I right?

I stopped reading for about a month and sunk into the depressive state of: real job – five days a week, eat, sleep, bang head against a wall, repeat. It happens often. It happens when I stop reading. Then, on an accidental burst of internet through my crappy phone, I discovered I was two whole weeks behind schedule of my 50 books a year goal. And I had read in advance just in case! Enter the panicked Amy reading five books in two weeks. I read and I read and I didn’t blog because INTERNET, also because CBF M8.

I wandered aimlessly around Dymocks trying to catch a title that would pique my interest. It’s sort of hard when you have no internet and no subsequent internet friends to rely on for reviews. Current-boyfriend-Peychaud was no help with advice – handing me ‘One Direction’ colouring books and Japanese phrase books. Then I thought: I’m just going to have to read Fangirl and be fucking done with it aren’t I. If it doesn’t work out, at least I have Japanese for Dummies to fall back on.

Thank god. Because Fangirl did what the other books (even some seriously great ones) couldn’t. It spurred me to write again. Mostly out of the necessity to reassure Rainbow that she wasn’t a total waste of space. I know it’s been keeping her up at night.

Despite your stupid name…Rainbow, I think you’re alright. Now go and get some rest. Four months of thinking some nameless internet-hoe (that’s me) doesn’t like you, has got to be exhausting. And I’ll post this as soon as I get even a fraction of internet. I promise.

So thanks to all the internet-humans out there for making me read Fangirl. I guess I’ll give Eleanor and Park a go now.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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‘Paper Towns’ by John Green

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

paper towns

Photo by Peychaud

I had roughly 300 words of a review written on The Bane Chronicles when I gave up. It was excellent. I don’t have much else to say about it, so you should all be impressed that I could bullshit those 3 words into 300. Point is, I read it because I was leftover sad from reading ‘Winter Girls’. Then I accidentally read a book and a half before I did a review. So we are skipping The Bane Chronicles obvious excellent review, and moving straight on to Paper Towns.

Paper Towns was pretty cool. It wasn’t incredibly insightful or subtle like a lot of young adult novels. However this meant that there wasn’t all those literature techniques getting in the way of a good old fashioned plot. Honestly a plot can be so overshadowed when really it’s the only thing you need to get published. A perfect example is Home and Away. For all of those non-Australians or people that have better things to do at 7pm, or 7:30 (I don’t know, I’m a part of the latter group) Home and Away is a terrible Australian soap. It has no foreshadowing, no metaphors, no symbolism, nothing really relatable or logical. However – they have a plot – and they have been on air longer than I have been alive. Probably. I’m not going to do a lot of research here. Let’s not start expecting too much scholarly work here.

100 words later, I was just trying to say. Awesome plot.

So just to make my ramblings seem worth it here is the actual plot. Q has a slight obsession (mistaken as love) for the girl next door, Margo. Margo is not your girl-next-door girl. She’s rather self-obsessed, her parents are kind of mean, and she likes to play along with paper people in a paper town. That’s what she calls her friends and family. She likens them to 2 dimensional objects. Then one day she runs away, hinting to Q that she is going to commit suicide, and leaving all the obscure clues to rekindle his obsession. Bitch. Of course this is all written as a love story instead. (I’m just reading it like I read everything – with hatred and skeptisism and a desire to find something to obsess over). It’s nothing as heart wrenching as The Fault in Our Stars. I still haven’t drunk enough water to replace all the tears I shed through that bad boy.

This is only the second John Green book I have read and I feel like they are both fairly excellent in depicting teens. I wouldn’t go recommending them into the reading curriculum of high schools – but maybe just for the few that will do personal reading. Still better than ‘Looking for Alibrandi’.

paper townsAlso fun fact – Paper Towns is currently being made into a movie. With Cara Delevingne as Margo. Margo isn’t actually the star, as many articles seem to imply or state outright.  She is sort of the villain. Sorry.

Not sorry. She’s totally the villain.

On another note, as cool as Cara is, I don’t think she is a Margo. I like Cara, I’m not fussed about Margo. That really isn’t another note. This is the same note in a different paragraph. Also so weird that her name is Margo. If her name is actually Margaret why would you go for Margo, as opposed to say Maggie, or Meg, or Peggy, or anything but Margo. Let’s just go ahead and finish the rest of her name. Margo. Roth. Spiegelman. Roth. Roth. Spiegelman. John Green the man with – lets face it – the dullest name since John Smith, has a fondness for gross sounding names. Gus. Margo. Hazel. The other one. Also the same 4 people are playing the same 4 teenagers that are being played in all YA-book-to-YA-movies. WHY IS THIS! HAS THE UNIVERSE STOPPED MAKING YOUNG SOULFUL LOOKING PEOPLE!

‘Wintergirls’ by Laurie Halse Anderson

★ ★ ★ ☆☆

wintergirls

Photo by Peychaud

Technically there is a lot to love about this book. Original writing style, strong and scary themes, magical realism, relatable characters. It’s great really. Only now I am so hungry. And rather sad. I hate it when books make me feel like this – though I guess that’s when you know it is a good book. I found this book very hard to rate. It was amazing truly. But I wouldn’t read it again. It’s too sad. A little too dark and real for my tastes. It deserves 4 stars – and if I were an impartial robot, I would give it just that – but this is my personal blog space and I can do whatever the hell I like. So that’s why I gave it 3.

Far be it from me to actually give a scholarly review or even give a summary of the book – I’m just not that kind of girl – but I suppose I could give you my version of it.

Lia is a wintergirl. For anyone wondering what the title of the book has to do with anorexia – it doesn’t really. It’s just Laurie’s made up word to describe the girls like Cassie and Lia, girls who are essentially dying of starvation. Lia she sees food in numbers (calories), she loves most of her family, though doesn’t appreciate much they do for her. She doesn’t have a job, or go to school too much, plays no sports, has no friends, and only ever pretends to read books. I can only assume because she doesn’t actually possess the strength to do any of this. It makes me shudder to think of how weak and crumbly she probably is. Laurie does an excellent job of Lia. She is completely real to me. I feel like I went to school with her. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth, it really does. Anyway, plot goes: Cassie dies, Lia is already suffering some serious mental problems and can’t seem to cope with the grief on top of that. She fights her family and pretends she is trying to get better, when really she is doing the opposite. There isn’t really a big climax, just rises and falls throughout the story. I read it in a night.

One problem I foresee for ‘Wintergirls’ is the unbelievable accuracy of the inside look at the mind of a girl suffering from anorexia. I’ll be the last person to blame an author for the way people read into their books – but I was sort of disgusted in the way Lia thinks. I just know some teenage idiot is going to use this book for thinspiration. It makes me annoyed when people use my precious literature to further their own delusions. I feel like the struggle of the family and the helplessness they feel is shadowed by Lia’s own mental state, that unless you recognise that Lia is actually cray, you wont be able to see the effect she is having on everyone around her.

Id cry if I could, I really would.

‘Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Night Circus

Photo by Peychaud (still a code name)

If there is one recommendation I always ignore, it is those of the Guardian, or The Times; the ones that make it to the book covers. A load of one word wonders that never actually seem to capture the true nature of the book. Even on the front cover on Night Circus, the words ‘dazzling’ and ‘enchanting’ really don’t do it justice. I’ve seen your empty praise on countless books, how is this one to dazzle me over any other book? But Night Circus is just that – dazzling and enchanting. It has a dark dream-like quality that appears to follow around the subject of illusionists. It is almost jarring to read.  The first chapter is written entirely in second person, which can really grate on you. But it completely sets the scene for the rest of the book. From the first paragraph on, you think that this book will be something else. You would be correct.

Maybe it’s not even the first paragraph. I’m a firm believer in strong beginning sentences. It is the easiest thing in the whole book to get right – so if the first one is shit you can pretty much put the book down right then and there, because this author is terrible.

‘The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.’

Isn’t that something you can just picture Morgan Freeman saying? Minus the ‘picture’.

I found so many interesting relationships in this book. Strangely enough I wasn’t at all interested in the main relationship between what’s-his-face and what’s-her-name.  Eugh I really can’t think of their names right now… Anyway the most interesting one to me was that of the Burgess sisters. Lainie and Tara – the sort of siblings who, if they were one person, would make the perfect human. Tara actually had the perfect explanation but I’ve been searching for the passage for ten minutes now and short of re-reading the whole book, I’ll never find it. Anyway it went something along the lines of catching each other’s short comings. And Tara being the one who saw in details while Lainie saw in scope – which was SPOILER the crux of their terrible little tragedy. Moving along.

Be warned, despite my ravings, this book is not for everyone. The plot isn’t a strong factor. A lot rides on imagery and dialogue, and a slightly warped time frame. Actually I’m still not sure I understand the time frame. There is probably a reason for that – a metaphor for the Narnia-like aspect of the circus. A place in its own world, with it’s own laws of physics. Mostly I just felt a bit sad abut everything. Everything ends, every storyline, ever relationship, in a bittersweet conclusion. Yeah they are happy – but you feel like the really shouldn’t be. I guess if you aren’t aging and get to drink mulled cider every working night of your life, you really wouldn’t have to feign happiness.

‘Heir of Fire’ by Sarah J. Maas

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

This series has finally taken a turn I can cope with. I don’t feel like throwing up frilly dresses and pinkHeir of Fire sparkles again. That’s really all I can think of when it comes to the plot of Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight.  I don’t know if it was the hard core training in a forest, or a halfway decent love interest that doesn’t make my bathroom wall look sexy. And my bathroom wall is not even slightly sexy. That is how dull I found Chaol. Eugh. God I hope she doesn’t go back to him. I might have to drown myself in boredom tears.

I’m not sure if the sudden excellence of this book was due to the lack of shopping, the lack of Celaena and Chaol scenes, or the fact that I can now call Celaena, Aelin (much easy to mentally pronounce). And Rowan! What a hateful, vowels-in-proper-places, not-putting-up-with-yo-shit lad.

The changes in Celaena’s personality are definitely due to this foresty environment. The list of the things that irritated me about Celaena are as follows; her excessive vanity, materialistic values, and lack of actual killing. The simple addition of a forest means no reflective surfaces, no shopping malls, and everything wants to kill you so you have to kill them first. It’s like Sarah realised that she created Cinderella and forgot to get her the personality of an assassin when she changed her job title. Bam! Enter the forest. Breaking necks and taking cheques.

Sarah also introduced the witches storyline. I started off being a bit grossed out by the whole cannibalism aspect, but hey, fish gotta swim.

Okay I have nothing else to say about this. I’m out.