Book Review: My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons to stay indoors and fall in love.

3.5 cupcakes

My True Love Gave to Me was, for the most part, as adorable as I had expected. Like most anthologies, though, the stories were quite hit or miss for me: there were some that stood out (namely the ones by Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Taylor, and Kiersten White) while others were less convincing and would have worked better as novellas or full-length stories. Despite that, the stories all intrigued me enough to add some previously unknown authors’ works to my ever-growing to read list, and reaffirmed my love for some of my favourite authors.

My True Love Gave to Me features characters from all sorts of backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was a nice mix of contemporary and magical stories in this collection. While the stories were all quite different, they all captured several important aspects of the holiday season, most notably hope and love.

Overall, My True Love Gave to Me is a cute, quick read that captures the magical feeling that surrounds the holidays. I can certainly see myself rereading my favourites closer to the holiday season, and can’t wait to display this gorgeous cover on my bookshelf.

I received a copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

if you like… THE OFFICE

Welcome to my new feature, If You Like…. INSERT THING HERE. In this feature, I’ll be sharing books related to various television shows, movies, other books…. anything and everything!

For the first installment, I thought I’d focus on one of my most recent Netflix obsessions. Lately I’ve been watching episodes of The Office (U.S. version) like there’s no tomorrow. By far my favorite character is Jim Halpert. I mean, what’s not to like?

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Here are some books that you might enjoy if, like me, you like The Office:

attachments coverAttachments by Rainbow Rowell

If it’s the office setting of this TV show you like, then you’ll definitely like Attachments. This story revolves mostly around what happens in an office, albeit one with a much different atmosphere than the that of the television show. Nevertheless, you should absolutely give it a try!

is everyone hanging out without me coverIs Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling is the actress who plays Kelly Kapoor in The Office, and this is her book! I haven’t read it, but I’ve heard rave reviews about it. I’m planning on reading it soon, and it looks like it’s going to be a great read!

me and earl and the dying girlMe and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

If you like The Office because of its never-ending hilarity, then this is the book for you! Despite the rather sad topic, this book is actually quite a knee-slapper. Pick this one up for a good laugh!

 

 

Let me know what other television shows, movies, books, etc. you’d like to see some recommendations based off of by leaving a suggestion in the comments section below! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Until next time!

Yours,

HOLLY

 

Book Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

3.5 cupcakes

“You meet someone, and you fall in love, and you hope that that person is the one — and then at some point, you have to put down your chips. You just have to make a commitment and hope that you’re right.”

Rainbow Rowell has the gift of being able to write beautiful yet honest depictions of love’s many stages. Landline is a bit of a departure from her previous works in that it takes a less idealistic view of love and integrates a touch of magical realism into the story, however it manages to find its way into your heart all the same.

Landline is about how much can change between your twenties and your forties. The choices you make and the things that you’re passionate about now may not be enough to sustain your happiness in the future, and sometimes it’s hard to remember how work went from being something that you enjoyed to something that you have to do. Landline also shows how easy it is to become complacent in your relationships, reminding us not to take the people we love for granted and to work harder to keep the spark alive.

Despite the fact that I’m twenty years old and the only relationship I’m in is with my Netflix account, I found it incredibly easy to sympathize with Georgie. She’s very goal-oriented, and her tight focus on work often takes her away from her home responsibilities – a large source of tension in her household. Georgie’s selfishness, especially when it came to her relationship with her best friend Seth, made her hard to like at times, but her narrative voice was compelling enough that I could overlook that.

Through the use of a “magic phone” and flashbacks, the past and present are weaved together to remind Georgie (and readers) about just how much she truly loves her husband. Readers get to experience their relationship from the beginning (from when they first met to where they are now, with all the bumps between), so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself completely rooting for Neal and Georgie to stay together by the end of the book.

My main complaint about Landline is that the plot was rather slow. With Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, and Attachments, I had a rather hard time accomplishing anything as I didn’t want to put them down; Landline, however, was rather easy to walk away from, and just as easy to get back into after I picked it back up. There were also several plot points that I wish had been explored further. Mostly, though, the open ending left me questioning the strength of Georgie and Neal’s relationship, and whether or not they could truly last.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Landline. While it may not be my favourite of Rainbow Rowell’s works, I’ll still check out whatever beautifully written book she comes out with next.

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

From the author the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

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: 5 cupcakes

Fangirl is one of those books that sounded so brilliant that I knew I had to read it immediately. You see, I’m a fangirl. Fictional characters and the actors who portray them have ruined my life on many occasions. Like Cath, I used to read and write fanfiction stories, and had many awkward moments in high school when my best friend and I were caught writing slash fics in the middle of French class (the fics weren’t actually in French, though; we weren’t quite that talented). My high school teachers held Harry Potter themed dinners where my classmates and I would dress up like the characters before attending the movie premieres, and I’d line up for hours whenever a new Harry Potter book was released. While I’m not very active in the fandom anymore, it was responsible for giving me the courage to actually put my writing out there for people to read, and it’s so neat to see that people actually “get” how wonderful these communities can be.

Anyways, this is what a New Adult book should look like. It perfectly describes how going to college involves a transition from the familiar to the unknown, and how it can be difficult to take in all at once. Not everything can be found on Google, as Cath explains, and there are so many potential sources of social anxiety – like what to do at the cafeteria once you’ve finally found it. There were so many things that reminded me of my first year: the dorm rooms that don’t seem large enough to house two people, the awkward silences before the first lecture, and the nicknames for people around campus (Cath and Regan have Wolf Girl and Venezuelan Lindsay Lohan, we have Cape Girl and Thor Girl).

Our protagonist, Cath, was quite easy to love and sympathize with. She’s an introvert who is uncomfortable in social situations, and who would much rather inhabit the world of Simon Snow. Writing is Cath’s preferred form of self-expression, and I loved how her fanfiction stories – which were interspersed between chapters of Fangirl – mirrored what was happening in her life at the present time. As the story unfolds, Cath becomes more independent, builds new relationships, and gets a better idea of who she is, and it’s beautiful to watch.

Fangirl also showcases Rowell’s ability to create the cutest, most swoonworthy romances ever. The relationship between Cath and Levi is slow to build, starting as friends who exchange witty banter and growing into something more. And Levi! That boy is someone I would love to date. He’s always smiling, genuinely charming, and would do anything to help someone out, whether it’s walking them home from the library at midnight or driving them to a bar to help their drunk sister. He and Cath are virtually polar opposites, yet their relationship dynamic works so well. It’s comfortable, comforting, and just so sweet.

While the romance was definitely important, familial relationships also play a pivotal role in Fangirl. Cath’s father is dealing with manic depression, her mother has been out of the picture for years, and her sister has left the world of Simon Snow in favour of bars and boys. These struggles are heartbreaking at times, but so realistic, and it’s so nice to see characters who are genuinely close with their families; after all, family is important.

Overall, Fangirl is one of the best books I’ve read this year. It’s character-driven, filled with adorable romance, and is incredibly easy to relate to. It’s safe to say that this has solidified Rainbow Rowell’s position on my “automatically-buy” list, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor: red hair, wrong clothes. Standing beside him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough … Eleanor.

Park: He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punchline. There’s a place on his chest , just below her throat, that makes her want to keep promises … Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen year olds — smart enough to know that true love never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

My Rating: 5 cupcakes

Eleanor & Park is one of the best books that I’ve read this year. Throughout the book, I had a warm, fuzzy feeling in my stomach and a huge smile on my face because it was just so cute.

The year is 1986, and Eleanor is the new girl at school. Her clothes are too odd, her hair is too red, and she’s too chubby, making her the perfect target for all of the “popular” kids. Her living situation is less than ideal: her family doesn’t have much money and her stepdad is not the easiest to live with.

Park doesn’t really fit in either, due to the fact that he’s half-Korean in a mostly white school. He’s friends with a few of the popular kids, but mostly keeps to himself. The son of a Korean war bride and a US military veteran, Park’s life is nearly perfect. His parents are still in love, he wants for nothing, and his biggest problem is being berated by his father for not being able to drive stick.

Their worlds couldn’t have been more different, which is shown time and time again after their paths intersect. When Eleanor first steps on the school bus, the only available seat is next to a less than welcoming Park. As time goes on, he gives her a comic book to borrow after she’s caught reading it over his shoulder, which leads to him making mix tapes and bringing comics just for her. It doesn’t take long for them to move from unwilling bus buddies to acquaintances to friends, and the move from friendship to something more is absolutely adorable.

Their relationship is slow to build, and Rainbow Rowell perfectly captures the feelings involved: the tentative first moves, the initial awkwardness, the feeling of discovery, the desperation, the challenges and misunderstandings, the desire to know everything about each other, and the intense, all-consuming nature of first love. And, boy, can she write a hand holding scene:

Eleanor

He wound the scarf between his fingers until her hand was hanging in the space between them.
Then he slid the silk and his fingers into her open palm.
And Eleanor disintegrated.

Park

Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.
As soon as he touched her, he wondered how he’d gone this long without doing it. He rubbed his thumb through her palm and up her fingers and was aware of her every breath.

Seeing this relationship from both Eleanor and Park’s perspectives shows how falling in love with someone can transform you and help you discover your true self. Their voices were completely distinct, fleshed out, and complemented each other perfectly.

Of course, their relationship doesn’t just contain sweet moments; it’s set in the real world, where bad things happen to good people and relationships face their fair share of challenges. As they fall head over heels for one another, Eleanor’s situation at home becomes even more dire, raising the question of whether or not your first love can truly last.

Overall, Eleanor & Park is a thoroughly enjoyable story about that beautiful moment when you first fall in love. This book has found its way into my heart, and is sure to stay there for years to come.

30 Day Book Challenge: Day 18

I stumbled across this 30 day book challenge by The Chronicles of Radiya and decided to give it a try. Hopefully it will lead to 30 consecutive days of blogging that liven up the blog a bit and give us a chance to get to know each other a little better.

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Day 18: A Book That Made You Laugh

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I absolutely adored Beth and Jennifer’s relationship, and some of the things that they said reminded me so much of my own friendship with my best friend. A combination of their emails to one another and the reminiscing that resulted from them made me laugh at the most inappropriate times — on a train, surrounded by people that I had never spoken to; in the hospital while I was waiting for a volunteer interview… It’s okay, though: this book was excellent and made the stares and strange looks that I received completely worth it.

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What was the last book that made you laugh?
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30 Day Book Challenge: Day 17

I stumbled across this 30 day book challenge by The Chronicles of Radiya and decided to give it a try. Hopefully it will lead to 30 consecutive days of blogging that liven up the blog a bit and give us a chance to get to know each other a little better.

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Day 17: Favourite Quote From A Book

I have too many favourite quotes to list, so I’m going to cheat a bit and list my favourites from a book that I read recently and absolutely adored:

“Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive. As soon as he touched her, he wondered how he’d gone this long without doing it. He rubbed his thumb through her palm and up her fingers, and was aware of her every breath.”

“He made her feel like more than the sum of her parts.”

“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

“You can be Han Solo,” he said, kissing her throat. “And I’ll be Boba Fett. I’ll cross the sky for you.”

I could keep going with the cute quotes all night… but I’ll stop here and then tell you that you should definitely read Eleanor & Park. Their relationship is absolutely adorable, and it gave me warm, fuzzy feelings and made my heart smile.

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What are some of your favourite quotes?
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Waiting on Wednesday (August 14)

wow

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell has an expected publication date of September 10, 2013.

From the author the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

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?

After reading Attachments, which I loved, I came to some very important realizations:
1) I want Rainbow Rowell to be my best friend
2) Anything that she writes is automatically going to be added to my to-read list

While waiting for my hold on Eleanor & Park to come in, I decided to see if she had any more books out. I was excited to see that Fangirl was coming out in September, and as soon as I read the synopsis, I knew that I had to read it.

You see… I’m a fangirl.

Fictional characters and the actors who portray them have ruined my life on many occasions. I read and write fanfiction stories, and had many awkward moments in high school when my best friend and I were writing Merthur fics in the middle of English class. My high school teachers held Harry Potter themed dinners where we would dress up like the characters before attending the movie premieres (I was a pretty flawless Snape one year; another year I dressed as Malfoy and was convinced to roll down the aisle of the theater like Lauren Lopez does in A Very Potter Musical because I have no shame).

I feel like Fangirl is basically the story of my life, so I’m ridiculously excited for it. Hurry up and get here, September – I need this book!

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What books are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a list or a link to your post in the comments below.
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Book Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Beth and Jennifer know their company monitors their office e-mail. But the women still spend all day sending each other messages, gossiping about their coworkers at the newspaper and baring their personal lives like an open book. Jennifer tells Beth everything she can’t seem to tell her husband about her anxieties over starting a family. And Beth tells Jennifer everything, period.

When Lincoln applied to be an Internet security officer, he hardly imagined he’d be sifting through other people’s inboxes like some sort of electronic Peeping Tom. Lincoln is supposed to turn people in for misusing company e-mail, but he can’t quite bring himself to crack down on Beth and Jennifer. He can’t help but be entertained-and captivated- by their stories.

But by the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late for him to ever introduce himself. What would he say to her? “Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you.” After a series of close encounters and missed connections, Lincoln decides it’s time to muster the courage to follow his heart . . . even if he can’t see exactly where it’s leading him.

Written with whip-smart precision and charm, Attachments is a strikingly clever and deeply romantic debut about falling in love with the person who makes you feel like the best version of yourself. Even if it’s someone you’ve never met.

My Rating: 5 cupcakes

Attachments is narrated by a mix of the emails sent between Beth and Jennifer and Lincoln’s third person point of view, allowing the reader to understand the reasons behind why Lincoln continued to read these exchanges – we are just as charmed by these ladies as Lincoln is and want him to keep reading about them so that we can keep reading about them too.

Lincoln is sweet, sensitive and quiet, yet still completely believable. He falls in love completely, honestly, and for the right reasons, baring his soul and leaving himself vulnerable. He has his flaws – namely his lack of confidence, indecisiveness, and passive nature – which are instrumental in his growth and development throughout the course of the novel.

If I showed anyone my email inbox right now, some of the subject titles – not to mention the content – would lead to questioning looks. “This is nice harassment, really.” and “seriously though, did they /have/ to give him a shirt?” are just two of the many lovely emails that my best friend and I sent back and forth before realizing that Facebook chat might be an easier communication method (and less likely to provide any of the cute guys we talked about with reasons to get a restraining order). We would send each other stories of epic proportions while away at different universities, and I quickly learned not to read her messages during a lecture if I didn’t want the students around me to glare while I laughed uncontrollably. Suffice to say, Beth and Jennifer’s friendship reminded me so much of my own, which certainly added to its charm and realism. Beth and Jennifer are confident, supportive, caring, hilarious and snarky, and I sincerely hope that everyone is able to have a friendship like theirs at some point in their lives.

Attachments is a more than a character-driven romantic comedy; it’s a brilliant and meaningful experience that perfectly captures what relationships are all about.