Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

FangirlTitle: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Series:  Standalone
Pages:  459
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Date of Publication: 30th January, 2014
Source: Bought
Synopsis from Goodreads: Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She's horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life. Without Wren, Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She's got a surly room-mate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction 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. Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realizing that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible ...

My Thoughts:

I can't stop fangirling about Fangirl.

I'm SORRY for that awful pun but I couldn't help it, I had to. I don't really know how to start this without just typing I LOVED IT over and over again and getting all gushy. Gah, you guys, Fangirl is just sooo good. I'm thinking it's probably my favourite book of this year so far? And I know I've only read about ten so that's not many but STILL. It's just so perfect in every way and awww SO GOOD.

Sorry, I just needed to get my gushiness out of the way... Onto the actual book!  I was so unsure about whether I would like Fangirl when I first heard of it, so I put it off and put it off until everyone had raved about it so much that I caved and bought it anyway. It took about fifty pages for me to get into it and properly invest myself in the story, but after that I was hooked and couldn't stop reading. Every minute I could spare from revision and homework I spent engrossed in the story and didn't stop until I'd turned the final page.

I think the main thing that I loved about this book was the characters. It's definitely a character driven story, which was really good because lately I've read a lot of action packed books where things don't stop happening throughout the book, so it was really great to take a step back and read something that wasn't a hundred miles an hour the whole way through. I absolutely loved Cath because I could identify with her on so many levels. I appreciated her anxiety at meeting new people and instead of going out to parties all the time, I understood why she wanted to stay in by herself, as while perhaps not as extremely as Cath, I have experience of those feelings. I think Rainbow Rowell handled these issues really well and very realistically, and I enjoyed seeing Cath come out of her shell more and more as the novel went on.

The supporting characters were also great and by the end I'd come to love (nearly) all of them. Levi, obviously, was great - he was so sweet and kind and funny and gah his relationship with Cath, despite its ups and downs, was perfect in every way and aww I just want them to be real! Haha, Reagan was also VERY cool, and while she took a little while to get used to she was one of my favourite characters. Wren's story arc was also written really well, because I think that alcohol can be a big problem for young people at the moment and so Rowell used her to show in a sensitive and realistic way the outcome of drinking too much too often, and I really enjoyed seeing her recovery and realise what was actually important in life.

Cath writes fanfiction about the Simon Snow series, a fictional series by Gemma T Leslie that Rainbow Rowell made up to be the Harry Potter of her story. I've only ever read two pieces of fanfiction and both times I was a little disgusted at what I read (completely unawares that what I was reading was going to be so graphic - fanfiction needs a warning label sometimes! :S ), to be honest, so I've kind of been caught up in the bad name that fanfiction has. However, Fangirl has really changed my mind about it and the sections of the book where Cath reads her fanfiction to Levi actually were some of my favourites. At the end of every chapter, there was a little snippet of either the Simon Snow series, or Cath's fanfiction about that world, and I looked forward to reading bits of Simon Snow's story almost as much as I did Cath's. I wish the Simon Snow books were real, but I guess I'll just have to reread Harry Potter again instead... Rainbow if you read this please can you write the Simon Snow books? ;P

Fangirl is such a fabulous read, it really is. I was surprised by how much I loved it and I genuinely think that there's something in it for everyone, even if you don't think it'll be for you - that's exactly what I thought and I can't stop recommending it and raving about it to other people now. Please go out and buy a copy and read it tonight and don't be daunted by the length! It's SO WORTH IT YOU NEED TO READ IT. It's absolutely perfect.

Also, here's some cool Fangirl fan art that I've found around the interwebs, just because :) If you click the images, they should go to the tumblr where I found them.

SHARING MOMENT GUYS:So, last month I asked people at my book club (yes, I am this brand of loser) if they would like to read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. And they said yes.Later at book discussion a lot of people said that they were very moved by the book, and they could relate so much to Cath because they have been at her place at least once in her life. And this kind of comments are coming from all sorts of people, a lot of them I would never guess had any kind of social anxiety, I mean, they’ve always seem to be so together! How could all of this people feel like Cath, feel like me, and I never noticed before?(It’s a on-line book club, so I haven’t met a lot of this people in person, but I know them for years).But the thing of social anxiety is that makes you feel really, REALLY lonely. Like everyone else got the guide book of How To Live Life and you forgot the memo to get your copy, so you are just this freak walking around not knowing how to proper engage in… Well, anything, really.So it was nice reading this in a group. And giving a chance to all Caths out there to share a little bit of their anxieties and worries. Like, HEY, not diminishing your struggles, but you are not alone in this and you are not a freak and things are going to be ok.

yadykates:Go ‘head girl, go ‘head get down.This is my favorite of all favorites, and I MET yadykates in D.C. this week, and she GAVE THIS TO ME to hang in my new office.I made a very high-pitched noise.

You can find more on Rainbow Rowell's Pinterest page here.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Book Review: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

How I Live NowTitle: How I Live Now
Author: Meg Rosoff
Series:  Standalone
Pages:  211
Publisher: Penguin
Date of Publication: 30th November, 2004
Source: Library
Synopsis from Goodreads: Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.

As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary.

But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.

My Thoughts:
Back before I discovered YA and was finding it really difficult to find new books to read, I read What I Was, which is also by Meg Rosoff. I really didn't like it, so I was hesitant to pick up anything else by her. However, the film for How I Live Now was released last year and so, true to the pact I made to myself that I will always try to read the book before seeing the film, I went ahead and borrowed it from the library and on recommendation from a friend, read it over a few days.

It took me a little while to get into. I think there were two reasons for this - one being the writing style, and the other being the plot (or lack thereof for the first half of the book, basically). It is written in first person from Daisy's point of view, however there's a shortage of punctuation which took some getting used to. For example, whenever anyone says anything, there are no speech marks or breaks in the sentence to signify it, just a capital letter, and then whatever the character said. I'd give an example but I had to take the book back to the library so I'm not really sure that'll make sense unless you've read it... Anyway, it's just something to bear in mind if you're not a fan of incorrect grammar and all that ;)

The second thing, as mentioned, was the plot. Daisy is sent to England to visit her cousins, and then due to bombings she cannot get home, so is stranded in England with these cousins that she's never met (and maybe might be a little telepathic with? I don't really know to be honest - it was all a bit strange.) So all that really happens in the first half of the book is we get to know a bit about her cousins and a bit about Daisy, and then she ends up falling in love with Edmond, one of her cousins (which is a little odd too). It's not really incestuous, but it is a bit of an odd idea...

Anyway, about halfway through the book, the action starts and doesn't really stop until the end. All of a sudden there are brutal murders and evacuations and it's all very fast paced and rather exciting. Up until then I'd been reading quite slowly, but after that I literally finished in about an hour. I found myself rooting for Daisy and Piper (the cousin with whom she was evacuated) to make it back to their other cousins Isaac and Edmond, whereas before I didn't really care, and for everything to be okay, and in the end I really enjoyed it.

The very end of the book was a little confusing, but I think I've got it sussed now and because I thought that the rest of the book was a little strange, it was kind of fitting. Overall it's a good read and I would recommend if you're interested or would like to watch the film (and obviously therefore have to read the book first :P). I'm glad that I read it and am definitely more open to reading more of Meg Rosoff's books in the future. Now, I'm off to watch the film!

(I'll update this once I've seen the film, to let you know what I thought and how it compares.)

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Book Review: Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society, #2)Title: Uncommon Criminals
Author: Ally Carter
Series:  Heist Society, #2
Pages:  302
Publisher: Orchard Books
Date of Publication: 5th July, 2012
Source: Borrowed from library
Synopsis from Goodreads: Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life: Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she's simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That's why Kat isn't surprised when she's asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners. There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn't been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long - and in Kat's world, history almost always repeats itself. But it's the third problem that makes Kat's crew the most nervous, and that is...the emerald is cursed. Kat might be in way over her head, but she's not going down without a fight. After all, she has her best friend -- the gorgeous Hale - and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses and realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless for this heist. This time, Kat's going to have to make up her own rules...

My Thoughts:
If you've been following my Twitter or blog for a while now you'll probably know that I flew through Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series last year and absolutely loved it. I got chatting on Twitter about Ally's other series, Heist Society, of which I had read only the first book a couple of years ago, and I decided it was time to catch up. I reread Heist Society at the beginning of the year, and so when Uncommon Criminals was finally available in my library, I read it as soon as I could.

I've been trying not to compare these to Gallagher Girls. In so many ways the two series are so similar, and you can tell that they are both Ally Carter books, but don't worry, you won't read one and then the other and just feel like you're reading the same stories just with different characters! Heist Society is about a group of super intelligent teenagers who steal things, Gallagher Girls is about a group of super intelligent teenagers who are spies. Big difference :P

I jest, I jest. Ally Carter's stories are just great fun to read, and I absolutely adore them. They're really great for winding down after a busy day at school and I look forward to getting home to read them. Kat and the gang of teenage thieves are so great together, and I loved seeing their interactions in this book, and I said in my review of the first book that none of them really stood out to me, but in Uncommon Criminals they really seemed like a family and it was great, and I now know all their names :P

As the book went on I found myself liking Kat more and more. I liked her cockiness and her determination, but then also it was good to see her more vulnerable side as she realised things had gone wrong. I could really relate to her and that was great. I also really loved reading about her developing relationship with Hale (surprise, surprise) and I could completely relate to her frustration with him. I won't say anymore to avoid spoilers but I loved it all the same.

I really liked the heist in Uncommon Criminals. I loved the legend and curses that are said to surround the Cleopatra Emerald and the effect that had on the characters. I liked the back story about Uncle Eddie and Charlie, and I'd like to find out more about them in later books. The plot itself was very fast paced and kept changing direction and it kept me guessing right until the end. I loved predicting how Kat and her friends were going to pull off the heist and I when I found out at the end it was not disappointing.

Overall I definitely recommend Uncommon Criminals as it's even better than Heist Society. I definitely recommend that you check out the series if you haven't already, especially if you're a fan of the Gallagher Girls! I can't wait to read more of Ally's book - I think I'll start with Double Crossed! They're silly, light-hearted and great fun to read - definitely books not to be missed!

Saturday, 1 February 2014

January 2014

Hello! I hope you've enjoyed the first month of this new year! I haven't had much time for reading due to stupid coursework deadlines (which was yesterday so all out of the way now yay) but I've had a good month nonetheless. Onto the books!

Books read:

Heist Society (Heist Society, #1)  How I Live Now  The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson (Jessie Jefferson #1)

1. Heist Society by Ally Carter (reread)
2. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
3. The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson by Paige Toon

See, told you I hadn't read much! Heist Society was a reread so I could catch up with the series, which I'm very much looking forward to doing in February. I don't think this series is as good as Gallagher Girls (yet!) but still a brilliant read! I saw How I Live Now at the library and thought I'd pick it up on a whim, and it was good! A bit strange though, and the writing style took a little getting used to, but I'm hoping to review it in Feb so if you want to know more look out for that! Lastly, The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson was surprising! I really liked it, and I definitely recommend you check it out. I think my favourite of this month!

This month's posts:

Letterbox Love
Instead of its own post, I'm just going to post a picture of all my new books each month here, as seeing everything together in one place is easier for you guys, right?

Displaying photo.JPG
Apologies for the bad picture!

I made use of the library this month, for the two Heist Society sequels, How I Live Now and Everybody Sees the Ants (which unfortunately I don't think I'll have time to read before I have to take it back.) I got More Than This from Rhys at ThirstForFiction as a Christmas present, so thanks! Very excited for that one. I also attended two blogger showcase events at Random House Children's Books and Faber and Faber, and from them I got some very exciting proofs and finished copies, including Running Girl (which has been compared to SHERLOCK! VERY exciting!) and Between The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea which I didn't realise was being published here but also looks great, from what I've seen and heard about it so far. Thanks to all who sent/bought me books this month!

I'm sure everyone's already seen this but this happened this month and it's related to books and oh I cried. If you don't know what it is, then go and read The Fault In Our Stars by John Green RIGHT NOW. Then come back and watch this and I dare you not to cry.

In February, I'm looking forward to reading...

Echo Boy  Zom-B Gladiator (Zom-B, #6)  Etiquette and Espionage (Finishing School, #1)

Lastly, here are some great new titles to look out for in February!

Banished: The Blackhart Legacy: Book One    Thirteen
Cress (Lunar Chronicles, #3)    

Thanks for reading! I hope all of your Februarys are fantastic :D

What have you been reading this month?

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