Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.
That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.
Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.
Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.
I don't know how to carry on after reading this book.
I read almost the entire book straight through last night, finishing well past one in the morning, at which point I was basically a puddle of emotions. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it all day - every other thought in my head is related to Carry On, and how amazing it was, and how I'm probably going to go home and immediately start rereading it. A book hasn't made me this ridiculously happy in a long time.
I don't read a lot of romances, or get super emotional over them very often, but Rainbow Rowell has this amazing ability to write a romance that leaves me flailing my limbs like an overexcited toddler and feeling like a swarm of Amazonian butterflies have settled in my stomach. And the romance inCarry On is just so well done. The growth of Simon and Baz's relationship is so realistic and beautifully written (and wonderfully cliche free!) that I don't think I'll ever be over it.
Carry On is, at its core, a romance, but it's also a fantasy novel that loosely parallels Harry Potter. The first few chapters have a lot more parallels and veiled allusions to HP, but after after that, Rowell sets up her own magical world with a unique set of rules, values, spells, and magical creatures. The worldbuilding is honestly genius, playing off of what people expect to find and adding plenty of twists. The politics of the World of Mages and Simon and Baz's place in them are fascinating and intricate, and the magiclore is clever and intriguing (I especially love the spells - they seemed a little silly at first, but after we got a better explanation of them, I was blown away by how ingenious they were).
The adventure/fantasy side of the story is predictable (I guessed the Big Twist not even halfway into the book) but with enough small surprises that it isn't stale. The focus is on Simon and Baz's characters and relationship, and their roles in the magickal world add more depth to that without being the center of attention. That said, if you're only interested in Carry Onbecause of the fantasy aspect, Rowell created such a cool world and villain that it's still worth the read.
(And the reread. And the next reread).
I think the only thing I didn't like about this book was that there wasn't more of it - which is saying something, given that it's 522 pages!
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 beside the point now.
Maybe that was always beside 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?
I am convinced that Rainbow Rowell lives in a radioactive library, because she has writing superpowers.
Landline is just as fabulous as all her previous books (which I love with all my heart), and maybe even more so, because it's adult fiction. I don't read much adult fiction for the simple reason that I have nothing in common with forty-somethings worried about high school reunions and impending divorce. Not only that, but a lot of those forty-somethings are insufferably whiny.
In swoops Rowell to save the day!
Landline tells Georgie and Neal's story in what is essentially three parts: the time they met, 1998 (where Past-Neal is), and the present day. The writing is gorgeous, the love story sweet, and the conflicts realistic. Georgie and Nearl have a much more believable love story than three quarters of the fictional couples out there. And they deal with their problems like normal people instead of reality TV stars.
Every character in Landline is one-of-a-kind and gorgeously written. They are all lovably flawed, and some of them are hilarious, and the kids are adorable. Even the side characters are fantastic. There's even a touch of diversity!
With a magic telephone, Back to the Future refernces, and fantastic writing, Rowell has taken the cake in adult romance. I don't have enough adjectives to describe this book. Ingenious, brilliant, and witty come to mind, with about a hundred others.
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.
Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.
When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.
By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself. What would he say … ?
Warning! Do not read this book unless you are prepared for heavy doses of adorableness!
Attachments is realistic fiction at its finest. Rowell is the master of witty banter, complicated characters, and turning the ordinary into a captivating narrative. She manages to juggle subplots without turning it into a soap opera, and keeping her pacing perfect. The book was a little bit predictable, but I didn’t mind in this instance. A few scenes read like fanfiction (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), but the rest was literary bliss for a hopeless romantic.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
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?
As a bibliophile and huge fangirl myself, this book means a lot to me. Rowell’s capacity for creating characters that live and breathe never ceases to amaze me. I relate to Cath like crazy, and I’m sure that dozens of other fangirls will, too.
I was a little worried that Rowell’s depiction of fans - and fanfic writers - would veer too close to the offensive, ill-informed opinions that a lot of people have of it, but it didn’t. She managed to convey Cath’s love for the Simon Snow series and fic without insulting fangirls, and while still having her non-fan characters think it’s weird. Because let’s face it: people think it’s weird. I’m just impossibly happy Rowell doesn’t.
The subplots in this book are fantastic. Every single character has a story of their own, but they don’t blot out Cath’s, and it’s awesome. To be honest, this book is a lot less exciting plot-wise than most of the things I read. No apocalypse, no villain, just plain realistic fiction - and Rowell pulls it off beautifully. I’m totally in love with the way she melds Simon’s story (both “canon” and fic) into Cath’s with subtle, well-written parallels. It’s a beautiful thing.
If you’re looking for a book with the right balance of romance and plot, this is the book for you.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, Eleanor & Park is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
I couldn’t put this book down. I mean that literally; every time I tried to put it down and go to sleep, I immediately had to pick it up again and keep reading. So I’m here at 3:36 in the morning, telling you that Eleanor & Park is the best book I have read in a long, long time.
There were about a thousand times while I was reading that I had to put the book down and bite my lip and try not to melt or squee or some ridiculousness, because it’s just that adorable. But it’s also poignant and heart-racing and makes you think about everything. And I do mean everything. Eleanor’s home situation is a scary, all-too-real undercurrent to the love story, and Park’s family, seemingly the polar opposite, is a great testament to not judging a book by its cover.
I don’t think there ever has been, or ever will be, another story quite like this one. I am going to shove this book into the hands of everyone I meet.
Ex Libris, Veritas
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As Simple as Snow