Monday, November 25, 2013

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

From Goodreads: Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan ... But for Cath, being a fan is her life - and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate 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. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My Rating: 4 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: After seeing so many positive reviews for Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park and then Fangirl, I figured I should probably give one of her books a try. Since Fangirl is Rowell’s latest novel, I thought I’d start with that.

As someone who has never even been remotely interested in fanfiction, I wondered if I’d be able to relate to Cath. Fortunately, I found that I could. While I’ve never been so socially anxious that I’d resort to hiding in my room and surviving on granola bars for over a month to avoid going to the cafeteria alone, I can understand why Cath would do that because I, myself, tend to feel uncomfortable at large gatherings. Also, though I’ve never written fanfiction, I know what it’s like to be part of an online community and the friendships and drama that can come as a result of that. 

It wasn’t just Cath who was a realistic character; all the secondary characters were as well. Of those, I think Levi deserves a special mention. As the love interest, Rowell could have easily made him a physically handsome guy, but she doesn’t. Instead, Levi is described as too tall and skinny with a receding hairline. I thought that was awesome because YA novels tend to delude you into thinking that you can find guys who look like models on every corner.

Another strength of Fangirl was its focus on different relationships. The book gives equal page time to familial relationships, friendships and school relationships. My favourite of these would probably be Cath’s relationships with her father and her roommate Reagan whereas my least favourite was that of her relationship with her twin Wren, who I disliked.

Besides not liking Wren, I also didn’t enjoy the random excerpts from the Simon Snow series and Cath’s fanfiction at the beginning of each chapter. I thought they were kind of all over the place and not really necessary to the plot.

Fangirl was released in September 2013 by St. Martin’s Press. 

Comments About the Cover: I like its simplicity. It does a great job of showing off the characters of Cath and Levi.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (and Giveaway)

From Goodreads: It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help. Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder - would they be better off staying here forever? Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it. 

My Rating: 4 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: As part of the blog tour arranged by The Midnight Garden for Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner's These Broken Stars, I’m going to provide five reasons to read their book. Here they are:
  1. The plot: Although I didn’t understand the scientific reasoning behind the major plot twist at the end, I thought the book was very original. I’ve never been a sci-fi fan and previously hadn’t really enjoyed the few books that I read that fell within the genre, but I was entertained by These Broken Stars. 
  2. The writing: Not only was Kaufman and Spooner’s writing descriptive, but they also added an element of suspense. Each chapter, for example, begins with part of a record of Tarver’s interrogation, and you can’t help but wonder what it is that Tarver and Lilac discovered while being stuck on this abandoned planet.
  3. The dual POVs: As long as the voices of the characters remain distinct, I love reading about a situation from multiple perspectives. That’s definitely applicable to These Broken Stars as well. 
  4. The protagonists: Most people might find Tarver easier to like than Lilac, but I had the opposite reaction. I felt sorry for Lilac having to push people away and appearing like a snob. I also realized there was a lot more to her than meets the eye when she hot-wires their escape pod. I was just waiting for her to show her strength and capability to Tarver, who seemed to have this “I know best” mentality that disappears as the novel progresses. 
  5. The slow building romance: Though both Tarver and Lilac are attracted to each other at the beginning of the book, the way Lilac is forced to treat Tarver causes him embarrassment. As a result, both Tarver and Lilac believe that the other person thinks the worst of them even as they start to develop respect for each other. It all makes for some nice sexual tension.
These Broken Stars will be released in December 10, 2013 by Disney Hyperion.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Disney Book Group) for free via NetGalley.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule
Visit each stop for more exclusive These Broken Stars content and additional chances to earn prizes!

Monday, 11/11   The Midnight Garden (World-Building for the Future)
Tuesday, 11/12   Love is Not a Triangle (Author Interview)
Wednesday, 11/13   The Perpetual Page-Turner (Using Technology to Write with a Partner)
Thursday, 11/14   Good Books and Good Wine (Audiobook Sample + Narrator Interview)
Friday, 11/15   The Starry-Eyed Revue (Character Interview with Tarver )
Monday, 11/18   Cuddlebuggery (Author Interview)
Tuesday, 11/19   Books With Bite (Amie & Meg's Favorite Things)
Wednesday, 11/20   Xpresso Reads (Establishing Characters with Role-Playing)
Thursday, 11/21   Great Imaginations (Co-Authoring Books)
Friday, 11/22   Nawanda Files (Lilac's Gorgeous Dress: A Look at These Broken Stars' Cover Art)
Monday 11/25   Promo stops (fun facts about the book!)
Visit the These Broken Stars website for the latest news on the series and follow the authors on Twitter at @AmieKaufman and @MeaganSpooner. You may also sign up for their newsletter as well! These Broken Stars will be available in North America on December 10, 2013.

If you pre-order the book from Malaprop's Bookstore, you can also get a collectible TBS poster autographed by the authors! 

Monday, November 11, 2013

It's Been Quiet Here ...

Hey everybody! I just wanted to apologize for my sporadic posts and lack of comments lately. The Master’s Program I got accepted into this year has been a lot more time consuming than I expected. I spend Monday to Thursday mornings teaching, going to classes in the afternoon everyday, and working on assignments and essays on the weekend. As a result, I have very little time for reading and blogging. So when I do read, it’s for fun rather than for review purposes. I also just moved, which meant I spent quite a bit of time packing and now, unpacking. I’ll start posting regularly in December, but have a couple of posts scheduled for the month of November and am keeping my fingers crossed that I can leave some comments during the next few weeks.