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Carry On

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
on October 6th 2015
Genres: Magical Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 522
Format: Paperback

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Reaction upon Reading: I need more!


“You have to pretend you get an endgame. You have to carry on like you will; otherwise, you can’t carry on at all.”


Synopsis:

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.


“Just when you think you’re having a scene without Simon, he drops in to remind you that everyone else is a supporting character in his catastrophe.”


Likes:

  • Rowell doesn’t treat you as if you are a dumb reader
    • There is no back and forth between what we need to know about Watford, it is straight into the guts of the story! 
    • We don’t need to recap the previous seven years to get an understanding of these characters
  • I can see how you some readers may initially think this is merely a spin off of Harry Potter
    • I thought this for the first 20% of the book
    • Simon Snow is a much darker and snarkier ‘chosen one’  
  • Multiple Perspectives
    • How do I feel about them?
    • ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
    • Seriously one of my favourite elements of writing 
  • The element of suspense and mystery Rowell is able to maintain throughout the whole book
    • Having read Fangirl we already know that “Simon and Baz” are a “thing”…but who is going to initiate this “thing” and when is it going to happen?!
  • Simon is the ultimate anti-hero
    • You can’t help but root for him.
  • Each character becomes more complex as the novel progresses
    • Which is refreshing to read a multiple perspective where every character is crucial to the plot line
  • The pacing was perfect
    • I was never bored or frustrated once – I almost devoured the book in one sitting – the only reason I didn’t was because it was 5am when I put it down and I thought I should maybe have a little bit of sleep.
  • I loved the similarities this has with Harry Potter, but I would say it runs parallel to it and is not a direct copy (like many believe)
    • The spells are silly and at times downright hilarious 
    • The chosen one is ‘broken and damaged’ 
    • Where there vampires in Harry Potter? Nope and I just love Baz! 

Dislikes:

  • That the Simon Snow series is not real
  • Agatha was kind of annoying – Who wants to run away from Simon Snow and the world of magic? Silly girl.

“It’s like being a fairy named Mary,” he goes on. “Or a vampire named Gampire,” I say. “Gampire isn’t even a proper name, Snow. You’re terrible at this game.”


Overall feelings:

This is my third Rainbow Rowell book and it is hands down my favourite! I was so nervous to read this because so many people love it and I always find books fall short of the hype. This did not!

It was so refreshing, I felt an immediate connection with these magical characters. I just loved everything. My overall feelings are happiness and glee. 

If I could draw then this book would be the inspiration for all my bookish drawings. I want to draw the characters, the settings, the events, the quotes…Oh I want to be able to draw so badly. I spent a few hours on Tumblr and Pinterest looking at peoples amazing artwork inspired by the book. Jealousy was high during those few hours.

This is a book I am going to recommend to all my friends. Thank you Rainbow Rowell you are fast becoming one of my favourite authors.


Do you need to read Fangirl first, in order to understand Carry On? No absolutely not!

Should you read Fangirl first before reading Carry On? Yes…You should be going to do that now!


“You were the sun, and I was crashing into you. I’d wake up every morning and think, ‘This will end in flames.”


cvf


What did you think of this book?

Leave a comment below.

Rating Report
Plot
five-stars
Characters
five-stars
Writing
five-stars
Pacing
five-stars
Cover
five-stars
Overall: five-stars

Fangirl

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
on September 10th 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 433

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Reaction Upon Reading: How can it be over?


“Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and mildly socially retarded, I’m a complete disaster.”


Synopsis:

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?


“How do you not like the Internet? That’s like saying, ‘I don’t like things that are convenient. And easy. I don’t like having access to all of mankind’s recorded discoveries at my fingertips. I don’t like light. And knowledge.”


Likes:

  • Cath
    • Lives in the world of fan fiction – Simon Snow 
    • Cath isn’t ready to be apart from Wren 
    • She struggles with new situations and change 
    • She changes so much throughout the book and becomes such an admirable young woman
    • I love that she never submits to peer pressure of the ‘expectations’ that are out there for a freshman in college 
    • The biggest moment for Cath in my opinion is sticking to her word when Reagen asks her to be her roomate again next year. Old Cath would have gone running to Wren but she is an inpdendent woman now! 
  •  Wren
    • She is independent and ready for adventure
    • She gets lost when trying to find who she is without Cath
    • She makes mistakes and we see her try and resolve these – she isn’t as remorsful as I would have hoped but I think that is realistic reaction for someone her age
    • Everything she goes through is so realistic of the college experience
    • She still reads ‘Carry On’ when they are fighting – probably my favourite Wren moment 
  • There are two plot lines happening at the same time. Cath and her experiences at college run alongside the fan fiction she writes about Simon in his magical world.
  • I like how the events that happen in the fan fiction feel like they are motivated and written from the experiences that Cath is having
  • Reagan
    • She is like the bad-ass friend that every girl needs
    • She is there when Cath needs her and gives Cath enough space to feel like she is herself 
    • I loved how she notices things about Cath like when she wasn’t eating and she showed her the dining hall
    • She refuses to let Cath be pathetic
  • CATH – WREN = Catherine
    • How did I not work that little gem out myself?

Dislikes:

  • I wanted more
  • It ended so suddenly that I have so many questions I want answered
    • Did she write the piece of writing for class? What was it about?
    • Is her Dad okay?
    • Why was Wren so mean and closed off? What drove her to drink like that? What happened between her and Courtney?
    • What happens over the summer when Levi goes home to the ranch?
    • What happens to Simon and Baz?
      • Oh wait I will be reading ‘Carry On’ for that!
  • Why isn’t there a sequel for Cath and Wren?
  • As much as I love this book, there is something that holds it back from being a 5 star read. It is missing that something that makes it memorable. I have the same feelings towards ‘Eleanor and Park’. I love Rowell as writer but something is lacking for me to go and say and say ‘You have to read this book, it will change your life’

“Just… isn’t giving up allowed sometimes? Isn’t it okay to say, ‘This really hurts, so I’m going to stop trying’?”
“It sets a dangerous precedent.”
“For avoiding pain?”
“For avoiding life.”


Reactions, Ramblings and Questions:

  • The start of the book makes me anxious. The first interaction is so erratic.
    • I don’t do awkward
  • I didn’t realize until I started to read this book that Carry On is the fan fiction in a whole other book!
    • Carry On is going to be my next read and I went on to Etsy and bought cute Levi and Cath bookmarks for my collection too – can’t wait for them to arrive 
  • Is Simon a gay version of Harry Potter – it all feels very same same
  • I use to write fan fiction when I was 13 – 16
    • I adored the online community and how they would give such amazing praise and feedback
    • I wrote fan fiction for my favourite TV shows – One Tree Hill and The OC
    • I always wanted to write fan fiction for Harry Potter but I felt like that was such a big fandom and I didn’t think I could have done it justice, so instead I read everyone elses
  • I read the book on my tablet and picked up the hard copy to make a bookstagram post. I opened the cover and found an image of the characters
    • So happy I did otherwise I may never have come across that
    • Reagan is so not what I pictured at all 

“Happily ever after, or even just together ever after, is not cheesy,” Wren said. “It’s the noblest, like, the most courageous thing two people can shoot for.”


Levi and Cath are perfection. This book is perfection!

I finished the book and couldn’t believe it was over. I still have so many unanswered questions. I felt like it was leading up to this big moment. What I realised, once I put the book down, was that the whole thing was a slow burn. Nothing was rushed or forced, everything happened, just like it would in real life. It was raw with emotion and the content was gritty. The issues Cath & Wren faced were issues anyone could be going through.

I love that it wasn’t just centered around some college romance but around issues that were much bigger. Identity, broken families, abandonment, family, friendships, trying new things, change etc…

Rainbow Rowell writes amazing, honest, real characters. They could be me or you.

Rainbow Rowell has mastered YA Contemporary genre.


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Rating Report
Plot
four-half-stars
Characters
four-half-stars
Writing
five-stars
Pacing
four-half-stars
Cover
five-stars
Overall: four-half-stars

Isla and the Happily Ever After

Isla and the Happily Ever AfterIsla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3) by Stephanie Perkins
Published by Dutton Genres: Romance
Format: Paperback
three-half-stars

Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?
Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.
Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

Paris || Contemporary Romance || High School || Loving Yourself || Following your Dreams

Josh and Isla both attend an international school in Paris. The story starts out with them returning home to Manhattan for the summer. They live close enough together that Isla stumbles upon Josh in a local cafe late at night. He has recently split from his long term girlfriend and Isla has been longing for him for years. She makes a complete fruit cake of herself and then has to face her actions when they return to school in Paris for the start of the school year.

Cue the awkwardness…I don’t do awkward and the start of this book was so cringe I wasn’t sure I could continue. But I managed to persevere and I am some what glad I did.

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“I am hard on myself. But isn’t it better to be honest about these things before someone else can use them against you? Before someone else can break your heart? Isn’t it better to break it yourself?”


Character Breakdown:

Josh (The Slacker)

  • There is a misconception about Josh. People think he is a slacker with little intelligence or motivation to do better. We quickly learn this is all a facade and that he doesn’t care to stand out
  • He is working on a graphic novel of his time spent in Paris attending school and growing up
  • His family are politically motivated and he appears to be the poster child they need to win elections
  • He is a bit of rebel and doesn’t follow the rules…he is on his last warning! 

Isla (The Shy Girl)

  • Isla is insecure but head over heels in crush with Josh
  • She comes from a big family and is working on her relationships with her sisters
    • Especially her younger one who attends the same school as her in Paris
  • She is this good girl who works hard with no vision or ambition for where she wants to go once high school ends
  • She is learning to love herself and believe that she is good enough

Kurt (The Best Friend)

  • Kurt has autism
  • Isla describes him as high functioning
  • He is her best friend
  • I love the way Kurt is introduced and Perkins is able to bring autism to light in a positive way. She shows the quirks and impulses someone with autism would display in different social settings
  • I love the way Isla defends Josh no matter what and how he grows as a character

 


“Phones are distracting. The internet is distracting.The way he looked at you? He wasn’t distracted. He was consumed.”


The Connection to ‘Anna and the French Kiss’:

This connection started out subtle, with brief mentions of Anna and St Claire. I like that this book felt some what similar. It played homage to all the best bits, without overdoing it too much or hitting too many cliches.

Then…

We get to the end of the book and I felt like it was a really cheap and cheesy way to introduce each couple. Normally this is something I would love with the finale. However it was far to cheesy and felt unnecessary to Josh and Isla’s story.


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Loves:

  • I am so glad that Isla and Kurt’s relationship is strictly platonic…even though he has seen her naked. This would have been so cliche if he had feelings for her and the book would have lost mega points if went down this path. Yay Perkins, thanks for not going there! 
  • We have gone back to PARIS! 
    • When I first read ‘Anna and the French Kiss’ I looked into getting a teaching job at an International School in Paris. I sent away for brochures and inquired with various organisations because they book just spoke to me. I so badly wanted to be transported back to that feeling. 
  • The ending felt abrupt, but I did enjoy it being left up to my imagination
  • The characters had subtle changes throughout the book the ultimately made them better people.

Dislikes:

  • The romance in this book moved so quickly that I felt like it was a blink between no connection to dating. This made me immediately anxious because I was just waiting for the inciting incident and conflict to arise.
    • Where’s the chase and challenge?
  • Isla begins the story with an almost negative opinion of herself. She tried to be the girl she things Josh would want, but then on the other hand she is trying to let herself down in case that doesn’t work.
    • This is so annoying to read, I felt like shouting at my pages “obviously you’re beautiful, cut it out!”
  • There was no conflict or tension
  • The plot was all over the show
    • I mean was it even there? 
  • Isla’s sister was such an unnecessary character, she brought the most tension to the text and I just wasn’t feeling it
  • This book was such a let down. 

‘Anna and the French Kiss’ and ‘The Girl Next Door’ are adorable flirty romance novels. They are easy light reads full of the usual high school tribulations. This book lacked all of that. There was no conflict or tension, except for Isla within herself…and well that was just annoying. 

Overall this book was good, not great. It is my least favourite book out of the series. If it wasn’t set in Paris I probably would have hated it. The cliches were to overdone by the end and Isla was really annoying. I was beginning to hope Josh would run off and meet this amazing girl and live happily ever after.

Oh well…on to the next contemporary romance.

three-half-stars
Rating Report
Plot
three-half-stars
Characters
three-half-stars
Writing
four-stars
Pacing
three-half-stars
Cover
five-stars
Overall: four-stars

This Raging Light

This Raging LightThis Raging Light by Estelle Laure
on December 22nd 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
two-half-stars

Can the best thing happen at the worst time?
Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she's about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend's brother. With blazing longing that builds to a fever pitch, Estelle Laure's soulful debut will keep readers hooked and hoping until the very last page.

I chose this book on recommendation from my local bookstore. I was told it was extremely popular and that they had ordered thousands of copies in. I hadn’t heard of the book but I loved the cover, so I figured why not.

The only word I can use to describe this read is RANDOM. I was hoping this would be a nice quick/light read, in between series. This was a quick read but it was anything but light. This review is going to be a jumbled mess, because that is how I feel after reading.

Where do I begin…

The main character is Lucille and she has been through a world of pain in her short life. Her Father is in jail for a crime he committed against her Mother, her Mother has fled and left her two daughters to fend for themselves, there isn’t enough money or food and Lucille has to get a job to support her and her 9-year old sister, all while keeping this giant mess a secret. Lucille fears if others find out her and her sister will be separated and placed into foster care. She initially believes her Mother will be back but as time goes on she starts to realise her life and responsibilities are changing rapidly.

It is so wrong for the girls to be left on their own, but I was sincerely rooting for them to succeed. I didn’t want the Mother to come back. She has burnt her bridge, silly selfish woman. This book was just so frustrating. Eden is a terrible best friend, Digby is terrible love interest, the strange person/people who were breaking in to commit acts of kindness was treated as way less creepy than they were and Lucille worked ridiculous hours and dressed beyond her years to try stay afloat. Lucille was a mess – Obviously with good reason – but who wants to read about that. Not me! 

The book just ended so abruptly, that I literally exclaimed ‘What the hell’ out loud after reading. I mean was anything resolved? What happens next? Surely that can’t be how the story ends?

Overall I wouldn’t recommend this book…to anyone.

5


Loves:

  • I really enjoyed that each chapter was a day
    • Some chapters took huge leaps. Day 28 to 49 was a huge leap
  • liked the little sister, she was funny

Dislikes:

  • I like the cover but I do not understand the cover choice, the colours or any of the meaning behind the choices.
  • Why is the book called ‘This Raging Life’
  • The characters have the most Random names
  • The ending…or lack there of
  • Eden has got to be the worst best friend
    • I understand the logic of siding with your twin and worrying about his happiness, but what best friend doesn’t want their bestie to legally become their sister?!
  • Way too much was going on. The novel was way to short to have that much drama!
  • I didn’t like Digby. I really wanted to, he was weird, the dialogue between him and Lucille was cringe worthy and lets not forget he cheats on his long term girlfriend repeatedly.
  • Too predictable
  • I thought it was going to be an ‘All The Bright Places’ change my life and give me all the feels kinda book – NOPE

“Music carries the weight of being human, takes it away so you don’t have to think at all, you just have to listen. Music tells every story there is.”

two-half-stars
Rating Report
Plot
two-half-stars
Characters
half-star
Writing
one-half-stars
Pacing
one-half-stars
Cover
three-stars
Overall: two-stars

The 5th Wave: Book Vs. Movie

by Rick Yancey
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction
Format: Film

16-year-old Cassie Sullivan tries to survive in a world devastated by the waves of an alien invasion that has already decimated the population and knocked mankind back to the Stone Age.

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What I loved about the book:

  • It was perfectly creepy!
    • You didn’t know who to trust
    • The plot kept you guessing
    • The suspense building was a great hook in
  • There was this deep loneliness and sadness that allowed you to connect with the main character Cassie.
    • It was easy to think about how you would act in her situation, I was able to assimilate with the bold choices she made
  • I liked the dark snarky humour of the book – it made it more real and appealing
  • Although this idea of an alien invasion is not an original one, the way it was told and written was well crafted!

What I loved about the movie:

  • Casting
    • I truely thought the casting was brilliant. The only one I wasn’t sure about when I originally saw the casting was Chloe Grace Moretz for Cassie, however she nailed it!
  • Camera Angles
    • There were some unique choices that I thought helped this film stand apart from others in the dystopian/sci-fi YA franchise
  • Soundtrack
  • When Ben sings to Sammy
    • Melted my heart, seriously! 
  • This movie made me cry in a few scenes
    • This is strange because I knew what was coming. Which means it was really brilliant acting to make me sad about something I was mentally prepared for
  • Overall, it felt true to the book
  • EVAN WALKER 
    • That scene were Cassie is peeping on him was to die for!
    • Those abs!
    • That back!!
    • The water!!!
  • This movie made me want to go and read ‘The Infinite Sea’ which the book didn’t. I finished reading ‘The 5th Wave’ and for about 5 minutes I was excited for the next one and then a bright new shiny book series must have come along. This movie has opened up the door for me to get back into the series. I have added it to my ‘Read Next’ shelf…which is growing way to fast!

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What was missing?

There were only 2 big flaws that bothered me in the film:

  • The depth to Cassie’s and Evan’s relationship. It went from do I trust him…to kissing him very quickly. In the book this is played out a lot longer. She really struggles with this notion of trusting Evan, versus having a major ally with the skill set he has.
  • The whole reasons Ben takes to Sammy is because he has just lost his whole family, and more importantly his sister. Their whole relationship is built on the loss of Ben’s sister. The movie doesn’t even delve into this connection, it makes the relationship seem like it was just by default. I felt like the film missed a major component of Ben’s character, his sincerity and kindness.

The Winner is…Movie!

I know some people will be reading this and thinking I am crazy. It is extremely rare, that I find the movie version of a novel better than the book itself. The reason I find it better is because I felt the pacing of the movie effectively portrayed the story, while leaving out all the overdrawn parts that bored me in the book.

As I said above, I now want to read the next book because of the movie!


“But if I’m it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell I’m going to let the story end this way. I may be the last one, but I am the one still standing. I am the one turning to face the faceless hunter in the woods on an abandoned highway. I am the one not running but facing. Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity’s last war, then I am the battlefield.”


1st Wave: Blackout

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Photo Credit: All images found here


What did you think of the film?

Share your thoughts below.