Fangirling About Fangirl

My beautiful collector's edition.
My beautiful collector’s edition.

If you don’t already know, I am participating in #Rereadathon and #NAAugust this month and the perfect book for each of these is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. This is not the first time I have reread Fangirl, nor will it be the last. When I first started really thinking about New Adult, it occurred to me that Fangirl is actually NA.

If you haven’t read Fangirl yet, than why not? Go on. Go read it. I’ll wait…. Have you read it? Yes? Fantastic! So, as you now know, because you’ve read it, Fangirl is from the POV of Cath, an eighteen-year-old college freshman struggling to work out where she fits in in her first year of college. She no longer shares a room with her twin sister, Wren, and their relationship becomes strained, so finds herself sharing a room with a surly person called Reagan, who really does start to grow on you and really it is a story of facing fears and finding yourself.

What I love about this book is the characters and how relatable it is. The characters are varied and I find Cath so relatable.

…didn’t feel up to braving the dining hall; she still didn’t know where it was, or how it worked….
In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t google.) Like, where does the line start? What food can you take? Where are you supposed to stand, then where are you supposed to sit? Where do you go when you’re done, why is everyone watching you?… Bah.

Has anyone ever had thoughts similar to these? I have. Anxiousness about new situations. I read this and thought YES! it is the more mundane–usually thought to be the simplest things–that can be the trickiest. I’m a big Cath fan.

‘I feel sorry for you, and I’m going to be your friend.’
‘I don’t want to be your friend,’ Cath said as sternly as she could. ‘I like that we’re not friends.’
‘Me, too,’ Reagan said. ‘I’m sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.’

There is more to this quote and I loved reading this whole conversation because it made me laugh. Reagan may seem mean, and well, she is, a little, but that’s just Reagan. She’s bold, says what she thinks and is a loyal friend. She really does grow on you. Reagan and Cath are good for each other, I think.

There is romance but it’s not EVERYTHING the book is about. It just happens to be a part of Caths’ story. It’s slow burn which is wonderful to see and Levi is just incredible. Everyone needs a Levi in their life, whether as a friend or romantic partner, everyone needs a Levi. He brightens everything.

There is such an authenticity to Fangirl. It’s realistic and again relatable. For example, I don’t have a twin, but Rowell’s portrayal of twins seemed so real. I could completely understand Cath’s concerns and insecurities. It can be difficult with any sibling but with identical twins…to look just alike and wonder if someone would like your twin better… I’m not sure I’m explaining this very well…

‘It’d be different if you’d grown up with us, or if you’d met us both at the same time—‘
‘What would be different?’
Cath shrugged and scraped at the omelette with a wooden spatula.
‘Then I would know that you had enough information to choose me.’

‘We sound the same. We kind of talk the same. We have all the same gestures.’
‘True,’ he said, nodding, holding her chin up, ‘but it’s almost like that makes your differences more dramatic.’

‘But it’s not you. You don’t push through every moment. You pay attention. You take everything in. I like that about you–I like that better.’
Cath closed her eyes and felt tears catch on her cheeks.
‘I like your glasses,’ he said. ‘I like your Simon Snow T-shirts. I like that you don’t smile at everyone, because then, when you smile at me…Cather.’ He kissed her mouth. ‘Look at me.’
She did.
‘I choose you over everyone.’

Hope that explained what I was trying to say better.

I enjoyed seeing Cath’s writing journey and her discovering that, yes, she can write something other than fanfiction–there’s nothing wrong with fanfiction, but I think Cath was hiding in it. (Cath writes very popular fanfiction about Simon Snow, which is kind of like ‘Harry Potter’.)

Fangirl also deals with mental health issues and I found that this time this resonated with me even more. Fangirl is such a beautiful and realistic portrayal and will always hold a special place in my heart. (Oh, man, I’ve become all emotional.)

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Who has read this beauty? Did anyone else not originally think of it as NA? Go check out #NAAugust on Twitter.

 

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Under Rose-Tainted Skies

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Author: Louise Gornall
Published: Chicken House, 2016
Pages: 271
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mental Health
Read more about it Add it on Goodreads 
4.5 out of 5 stars

Hello everyone! Today I have for you a review, which isn’t really a review. Basically, I will share a little on what I thought but mostly I will share quotes, because this book is very quotable, in my opinion.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies is an open and honest account, from the POV of Norah Jane Dean, of someone living with agoraphobia, OCD and depression. This is a book, I feel, that is so vitally important; it’s not only important for people also living with mental health conditions but for those without. It is a book which I think–desperately hope–will be an eye-opener for people and hopefully help them to have a better grasp of mental health illnesses, because you may not be able to physically see these illnesses, but that does not mean they are not there.

Upon buying this book, I remember saying, “If this is a book about a boy coming along and their love ‘curing’ all, then I will throw the book across the room” and this is serious business because I would never want to harm a book (no books were harmed during the writing of this post). Luckily I wanted to hug this book instead of throw it. There is a love interest and I did find the fact that he likes comics and wants to study art a little clichéd, but it was beautiful and realistic because he didn’t ‘cure’ all; Luke awoke feelings in Norah that she hadn’t yet experienced, which terrified her. He was there for Norah and did his utmost best to understand but he wasn’t there as a character to ‘fix’ her. Mental illness doesn’t just go away, you learn to manage it and live with it the best you can, it doesn’t disappear over night because a guy comes along and I’m so glad that Louise Gornall provided a more realistic take on mental health. (Also, there was a great mother-daughter relationship! Yay!) A beautiful, honest and enlightening book on what it can be like to struggle with mental illness.

Now, some quotes.

Above everything else, tired of battling with my own mind.

When people say ‘weird’, what they really mean is ‘different’. And difference has never been a bad thing.

In other news, Cupid is an asshole.

‘I prefer modern slang myself’, I reply.
‘Word’, he says with a grin so glorious I feel sorry for anyone in the world who will never get to see it.

Beauty comes from how you treat people and how you behave.

‘You’re brave, did you know that?’
He must have me mistaken for someone else. ‘You have all these fears, your body endures all this pain and heartache, but you keep going. I think that’s really brave.’

Has anyone else read URTS yet? Has anyone ever had the horrible urge to throw a book *gasp* because of the dreaded love cures all? Don’t worry, you won’t want to do that with this book–I hope not, anyway. Have any good book recommendations surrounding mental health? 

Book Review: A Curious Beginning

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Author: Deanna Raybourn
Published: Titan Books, 2015

Pages: 389
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Series: Veronica Speedwell #1

Read more about it Add it on Goodreads
5 out of 5 stars

Veronica Speedwell, believed orphan, was raised by her aunts, moving from place to place. When the last of her aunts passes away, a series of events unfold; starting with a break in at Wren Cottage and the appearance of a stranger whom seems to know a lot more about Veronicas’ past than she does, Veronica is about to get the shock of her life.

When I grow up I want to be Veronica Speedwell. Bold, intelligent, outspoken, thoughtful and adventurous are just some of Veronicas’ qualities. Here is a character whom refused to be what society expected of her and instead chose to be herself at every turn.

Mrs. Clutterthorpe, I can hardly think of any fate worse than becoming the mother of six. Unless perhaps it were plague, and even then I am persuaded a few disfiguring buboes and possible death would be preferable to motherhood.

Characterisation is always important to me–I must like the characters. Can I relate to any of these characters? Do they have depth? Am I rooting for them? These are some questions I ask myself and A Curious Beginning ticks them all. It was a joy to read from Veronicas’ POV and to meet the other characters such as Stoker and Lady Cordelia. Each character had a story–they had layers–and I was left wanting to delve deeper and learn more. The reader slowly gets to know the characters as more of their stories are revealed but there is still more to be discovered and this I think will be explored more in the next book–which I can’t wait to get my hands on. We learn as Veronica learns and, just like Veronica, I wish to know more about Stokers’ past.

Veronica and Stokers’ relationship was hilarious at times. Here are two people thrown together whom soon set out to solve a mystery and along the way you see their growing respect for one another and it was lovely–and entertaining–to watch.

The historical side I enjoyed, as I always do with Historical Fiction. It’s fun reading about historical figures in fictitious scenarios and I like seeing characters–especially in historical settings, this case being the 1800s–defy societal norms.

The reader is kept guessing and you start to feel like Sherlock Holmes–or Arcadia Brown, read the book and you’ll know what I’m talking about. However, I did work out the identity of Veronicas’ father *pats self on back*. (I should  clearly be a detective.)

A Curious Beginning is a fun, refreshing and riveting read. A gem of a book which sadly I had not heard of, but stumbled upon while on the publishers’ website and I am so glad I did. I look forward to going on many more adventures with Veronica and co. Excelsior! A new favourite!

Have you read A Curious Beginning? Do you like Historical and/or Mystery novels? Which ones? Do you like it when characters defy societal norms? I always cheer for them. This isn’t YA like most books I review but I wanted to spread the love for it.

Book Review: The Rose and the Dagger

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Author: Renée Ahdieh
Published: Putnam; Penguin; 2016

Pages: 416
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #2
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling, YA
Read more about it on
 Add it on Goodreads
4 out of 5 stars

Possibly slight spoilers for the series.

Following the events of the night of the storm which plagued the city of Rey, Shahrzad and Khalid have been forced to temporarily remain apart. Shahrzad is reunited with her family and friends in the desert. Residing in a camp where secrets are afoot. With kingdoms on the verge of war and a curse threatening to keep the king and queen apart, they must find a way to break it once and for all.

The Rose and the Dagger is the final instalment in this breathtaking duology and I was immensely excited to get my hands on it. Overall, it did not disappoint. It was lovely to reunite with Shazi, the fierce and full of life Calipha, and Khalid, the tortured and misunderstood Caliph–along with the other characters which we get to see more of in this book.

There aren’t many complaints I have in regards to TRatD apart from two small ones: one being that it was a little slow at times and the other being the way in which the curse was broken. If I remember correctly, I also found The Wrath and the Dawn to be a tad slow in the beginning but then I became absorbed in the story completely; with TRatD the same happened at times, but it didn’t bother me too much. That darn curse… From the first book the curse has been this big thing. The reason for many deaths and the possible destruction of the city if not fulfilled. The thing standing between Shazi and Khalid…. So, I suppose I expected a bit more? I won’t reveal what happens but I will say I had a Harry Potter flashback, of sorts.

With the small negatives out the way… There is much to love about this conclusion of the series. Lets start with the characters. I continue to love each characters’ development. Shazi continues to be outspoken and loves those she cares for fiercely. It was wonderful for people to finally start to see in Khalid what Shazi does. I am a Khalid fan. I love seeing a character whom doesn’t lie–rarely, as he would say. He is a person often of few words, speaking when it really matters; as someone of often few words, speaking when I really have something to say, I can appreciate this. What I noticed in this book is that we get to know secondary characters a lot more and see their development which I always think is important.

The words. At times, I found myself briefly stopping to take in the beautiful and often wise words.

It was because they were two parts of a whole. He did not belong to her. And she did not belong to him. It was never about belonging to someone.
It was about belonging together.

For it was easy to be good and kind in times of plenty. The trying times were the moments that defined a man.

It does not take courage to kill. It takes courage to live.

A word of warning, never read this series while hungry because you may find your mouth watering. Ahdieh loves to include the most delicious descriptions of food, haha.

Have a box of tissues ready because if you’re like me you will find yourself crying into the book, muttering through the sobs “No. No. No. NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” There are aspects of the book I did not see coming, which I liked. Although I was cursing at the book, I liked the surprises; I liked being on the edge of my seat. Honestly though, I could have done without the reason for my crying–just rip out my heart why don’t you, haha. And that epilogue… *sings* I am happy. Oh so happy.

A story of love, friendship and magic. What more could you want? Enchanting.

Tell me, did anyone else see a Harry Potter similarity when it came to the curse being broken? Did you find this to be a fitting conclusion to the series?

Book Review: Winter

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Author: Marissa Meyer
Published: Puffin Books, 2015
Pages: 823
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Science Fiction
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #4
Read more about it on Add it on Goodreads
4.5 out of 5 stars
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Winter is the beloved princess of Luna, a princess unable to claim the throne but one still feared by her evil stepmother, Queen Levana. Often underestimated because of her mental instabilities, Winter proves she is capable of much more than some people give her credit for. Along with her new friends and long lost cousin Cinder, Princess Selene, she fights to bring down Queen Levana once and for all.

This is a BIG book. I mean, seriously, have you seen the size of it? I love it! “I like big books and I cannot lie”. There’s not too much to say other than I loved this ending to ‘The Lunar Chronicles’ series. There was only one, nit-picky, thing that I noticed and that was there were many POVs. In the beginning I think this maybe prevented me from being fully immersed in the book, but overall it worked really well.

Prepare now for a list of the reasons why I loved Winter.

  • Winter: The more we get to know Winter the more I like her. You come to see how incredibly sweet she is; she is always thinking of others. And it was nice to see her interactions with Jacin.
  • Humour: From Cinders’ sarcasm to Thornes’ and Ikos’ hilarious humour, you can’t help but laugh.

“See that eye roll? It translates to ‘How am I possibly keeping my hands off you, Captain?'”
“Yeah, keeping them from strangling you.”

  • Friendship: There are moments in the book where you will gasp and if you are like me will find yourself muttering, “No. No. No” but what really brought tears to my eyes was the beautiful friendship and love between characters. Iko’s dedication to Cinder is beyond admirable and just plain beautiful. The friendship between the group was so touching and Cress even managed to win over Jacin, a little, of all people.
  • Personality: Even though there are many characters, each one of their personalities shone through.
  • The villain: I despise Levana so it seems odd that I would include her in my list, but included she is because of how well written she is.

I closed the final page of Winter happy with the way it ended but also filled with a sadness because I won’t get to read about these characters lives anymore. Great characters – great writers – make you feel this way: even though you have finished reading, you feel as though their lives are still going on. I am reminded of Rainbow Rowells’ author note at the end of Eleanor and Park where she speaks about how she imagines the characters living on and that it is just this one adventure which has come to an end. This is how I feel: I can imagine Cinder and co. living their lives – we just don’t get to read about it. So very bittersweet.

Has anyone finished this monstrous size of a book yet? What did you think? Am I crazy imagining their lives going on? No, don’t answer that, haha.

Book Review: Everything, Everything

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Author: Nicola Yoon
Published: Corgi Books, 2015
Pages: 306
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Contemporary
Read more about it on Add it on Goodreads
5 out of 5 stars
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Madeline Whittier is the girl who lives in a bubble; allergic to the world around her, never to step outside her front door. She had comes to terms with this – she tried to not think about it – that is until Olly moves in next door… Will she stay in her bubble or risk all to truly live?

This book… It’s called Everything, Everything and it is EVERYTHING! In just one day – technically less than a day – I devoured this glorious book. It was impossible to stop reading and I finished it around 2:40am. Then came the urge to write a review but well, unfortunately you know, I thought I better go to sleep – even though I wasn’t actually tired. So, here I am, writing this review as soon as I wake up and I don’t know how to articulate all my feelings, especially without revealing the twist.

There is indeed a twist in the book – it comes towards the end and that is all I’m revealing. Due to the twist – which I really want to talk about – I’m not going to go into too much detail, but I will talk about the precious characters. All the characters I pretty much liked – to different degrees – apart from Olly’s dad. Carla is right about Maddy: she is strong. Given everything, she doesn’t let it get her down. She is still able to laugh and get passionate about books and architecture and I admire this about her. She doesn’t remain so chipper after she meets Olly and realises just how much there is out there for her to experience and then comes to really want everything, but she takes a huge risk in order to experience this and although part of me found her a bit reckless – mainly because I felt for those who really love her, like her mum – I could respect her decision also to choose how she wanted to live her life, now that she was eighteen.

Why is it, that all the perfect guys seem to be in books? I’m sure there must be one or two in real life, but lets face it: they’re all in literature. Olly is one of these people. It was nice to see that he was a fleshed-out character and wasn’t just there to be a love interest; he had his baggage also and was dealing with things. I particularly loved the inclusion of the gymnastic side of him and the fact that he also loved maths. Throughout the book, I was always trying to imagine his Atlantic Ocean blue eyes – and Maddy’s big hair – haha.

The fact that this is Nicola Yoon’s debut novel is astounding – it is most certainly a debut to be proud of. Everything, Everything is a must read! This magnificent debut novel has EVERYTHING: Characters you will love – but whom also do questionable things – and a character you will hate; heart-wrenching circumstances; it will make you think. After reading Everything, Everything you will ruminate on: What is really living? You will come away from this book with the need to live life to the fullest.

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Who has read this incredible book? What did you think?

Book Review: All the Bright Places

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Author: Jennifer Niven
Published: Penguin Books, 2015
Pages: 378
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Read more about it on Add it on Goodreads
5 out of 5 stars
WP_20151103_13_41_02_Pro 1(There is a spoiler towards the end of this review. I have wrote “Spoiler Below” before it.)

Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet on the ledge of a bell tower – not your usual meeting place – and from here their journey together begins. A story of a boy who thinks excessively about death but does his best to live life to the fullest and the girl who has forgotten how to live learning to live again from this boy often consumed by a darkness.

Devastated: this is what I am. This book destroyed me! It’s hard to know where to start… Finch becomes drawn to Violet and it made me think about how it’s interesting how we can become excited by and how we can try to latch on to someone we believe to have some small understanding of ourselves. Someone we can click with on some level, however small it may be.

…me in overdrive for a girl I barely know, all because she’s the first person I’ve met who seems to speak my language. A few words of it anyway.

This is what All the Bright Places does: it makes you think. You are taken on a journey through the personal trials of someone dealing with mental illness and it really highlights how quickly the darkest moments of mental illness can come on and take hold. What stuck with me in particular is this:

The fact is, I was sick, but not in an easily explained flu kind of way. It’s my experience that people are a lot more sympathetic if they can see you hurting, and for the millionth time in my life I wish for measles or smallpox or some other recognizable disease just to make it simple for me and also for them.

It seems appropriate(?) that this book should come into my life at this time (thanks Secret Sis), as I have found myself thinking of this recently. When you tell someone that you/someone else are/have been sick, you feel as though they expect to see a physical ailment and they may ask you what’s wrong – which I think is actually none of their business – but it isn’t always possible to physically see what’s wrong or even describe it. And I think Niven hit it on the head, by including this part.

Both main characters were likeable – I liked them anyway – and Violet at times really struck a cord with me, when she felt helpless in not being able to help her loved ones. I’m glad Jennifer included this because as hard as it is for people to live with mental illness, it is also difficult for the loved ones also. It is an awful feeling seeing someone you care for dealing with this inner struggle and not knowing how to help them.

I wanted to scream “Theodore Finch you are enough!” There is something magnetic about Finch and when he wasn’t experiencing dark moments he was such a great light. AtBP moved me beyond words and, in ways, spoke to me on a deeply personal level, which is possibly why it affected me so much.

SPOILER BELOW

 

The lose of Theodore Finch, at that moment, left an almost hollowness…? Theodore Finch no longer physically existing in the world felt so wrong. It was then that I had to remind myself that Theodore Finch does not actually exist, although I’m sure many people may have a Theodore Finch in their lives. This, I believe, illustrates Jennifer Nivens’ talent. This was a personal story for Jennifer, as she reveals in the back of the book, which would have helped give the book an authenticity, but it is clearly her talent as a writer which allowed her to pen a novel so devastatingly beautiful and left me feeling…raw.

For some reason I didn’t actually think that the story would take the path that it did and it hit me like a sledge hammer, but I suppose it added a certain realness to the story – sadly there is not always a happy ending. However, I worry about this turn that the story took, as I feel, a different outcome would have provided more a feeling of hope.

All the Bright Places is a special book and will now sit on my shelf as one of my favourites.

Did anyone manage to keep their eyes dry when reading AtBP?