Tag Archives: Contemporary

Currently Reading: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell is THE author you should look for if you want to read a contemporary novel; whether you’re a teenager or an adult, she’s got it all! Each time I read one of her books, I’m convinced it’s the best one yet. With Carry On, a fiction based upon her fictive fiction in Fangirl (which I love so much! Read my review here), Rowell has tried something different: a young adult fantasy. To say that the stakes were high when it came out, isn’t even a fraction of the truth. My fingers itched to start reading this new book of hers, especially after watching Katytastic’s review on youtube.

HOT or NOT?

Eh. Hmm. Good question. Let’s be honest. I’m not a fan. I’m currently at page 279 and I’ve got to admit that I’ve considered DNF-ing. Multiple times. Especially when reading Simon’s point of view. You might already know this if you follow me on twitter and/or Goodreads. The moaning is intense. I expected so much more of a Rainbow Rowell novel.

There are so many things wrong with this novel but the main issue is the fact that she wrote a book based upon a fictive fiction, in a fiction called Fangirl, that’s clearly based upon the Harry Potter series. It’s not even hiding  the similarities. It’s all there for each and every Harry Potter fan to read (and get annoyed with).

That should have been the first hint that it wouldn’t be as grand as all her previous works. After all the commotion of Fifty Shades of Grey being based upon Twilight (and not looking remotely like Twilight, except for the rich Grey family and Anna’s awkwardness), I would have expected things to explode with this one. I didn’t have an issue with FSoG (it originally being a fan fiction and all) but I do have a problem with this. It’s not original. FSoG is original-er (but less good in the writing aspect).

The second issue: the story begins at year eight and Rowell expects her readers to know all about Simon, his world and what happened in the previous years, which makes reading it somewhat abstract and confusing, especially at the beginning.

I don’t know about you but with fantasy, I need world-building. No matter how much it looks like Harry Potter, it isn’t. Even A Very Potter Musical understands this and it IS Harry Potter…or well, a totally awesome parody of Harry Potter, at least. When you add names and creatures, you have to explain them. A pixie in The Mortal Instruments, isn’t the same as a pixie in Harry Potter nor would/could it be the same in Carry On or in the Iron Fey series. Describe what a pixie is, for Crowley’s sake! Or where Watford is situated. You’re writing a fantasy! Not a contemporary. There has to be descriptions and explanations!

Don’t get me started on the spells/incantations!

That’s right, Amy. They’re cringe-worthy, and I don’t even mean most of the time, but all the time! The spells are based upon sayings and children’s songs. Why? I don’t know. Because it didn’t need much “research”? If there’s one thing that makes Harry Potter ah-mazing, it’s the spells and the way you can link it to Latin. There’s an origin and a system in Harry Potter. The spells in Carry On…meh.  At least the explanation of why they’re spells is somewhat…okay. Ish.

Each time I see the book resting beside my bed, calling me to continue my reading, I have the exact same reaction:

The only, and I seriously mean the only, thing that keeps me from DNF-ing this book, is Baz. He’s a great character and his point of views are the best. He arrived at the right point. If he hadn’t, I would have stopped reading it already. Now, I’m just high with Baz and I sort of have to see how things develop with him (if you know what I mean, *suggestive eyebrow rolling inserted here*).

Would I say that Carry On is hot, based upon where I’m currently situated in the story? …..Weeeeellll….let’s just say: it’s not.

What are you reading this week?

and more importantly: are you enjoying it??

Review: Bared to You by Sylvia Day

Photo by GoodReads

Title: Bared to You
Author: Sylvia Day
Genre: Contemporary Romance
 – Erotic Adult Romance
Series: Crossfire #1
Publisher: Penguin Books
DOP: 2012
Pages: 375 (ebook)
Rating: 2/5
ISBN: 978-1-40-591024-8
Twitter: @SylDay

Eva has just moved to Manhattan to start her new job. When timing her route to work, she meets Gideon, a mysterious and handsome man. Unconsciously, she’s drawn to Gideon when they meet again. Soon Eva finds herself amidst a tumultuous relationship in which Eva has to confront her past and move forward. However, Gideon has some demons of his own too. Will they be able to leave their dark pasts behind and have a future together, or are they beginning something that’s already set to fail?

Sylvia Day should be a familiar name when you’re a fan of the erotic romance genre whether you’ve read her books or not. Not only is she the #1 New York Times bestselling author, but she’s also #1 bestselling author international. She’s got more than twenty award-wining books and her novels have been translated into 41 languages. Her work has been on top of lists and you can’t walk into a bookstore anymore without bumping into a shelf or two filled with her books.

Bared to You received a lot of attention when it was first published (around the time when Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James was immensely popular and it desperately tried to get the same attention by cloning as much of the FSoG covers as possible). Throw all these facts together and I was convinced I was missing out on something huge if I didn’t start reading this fast. Day has been praised by so many but unfortunately, I’m not one of them. In fact, once I started reading this, I couldn’t believe my eyes. This has been the biggest disappointment since I read Haven of Obedience by Marina Anderson.

Continue reading Review: Bared to You by Sylvia Day

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Image from GoodReads

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Contemporary YA
Publisher: MacMillan Children’s Books
DOP: 
2014 (originally 2013)
Pages: 261
Rating: 5/5
ISBN: 978-1-4472-6322-7
Twitter: @rainbowrowell

After eighteen years of living together with her father and twin sister Wren, a timid Cath begins her first year at the university of Nebraska no longer co-living with her sister. Socially awkward and nervous to take these steps on her own, Cath hides in her room, turning to what she knows best and feels safest with: frequently updating her Carry On, Simon fanfiction while she waits for the eighth and final book in the Simon Snow series to be released (a homage to Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling).

After reading and watching all the praise her work has recently received online, I decided it was time to see for myself what all the hype was about and it’s fair to say that Rainbow Rowell didn’t disappoint. With this coming-of-age story, Rowell managed to capture the insecurities of freshmen seamlessly. What was most remarkable about Fangirl was how realistically Rowell managed to portray the ‘crazy’ feelings that come with a fandom, combined with simple but efficient dialogue and characters that could have stepped straight from the book to be your next best friend.

Continue reading Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Review: You’re the One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher

Cover by GoodReads

Title: You’re the One That I Want
Author: Giovanna Fletcher
Genre: Chick lit
Publisher: Penguin Books
DOP: May 22, 2014
Pages: 372
Rating: 4/5
ISBN: 978-1-405-90997-6
Twitter: @MrsGiFletcher

Maddy is minutes away from getting married to Rob, her childhood’s best friend, and she couldn’t have been happier. When her eyes stray to his best man Ben, her heart aches. If he’d give her one look, one signal, then she could be marrying him, her other best friend.

Compared to her debut novel, Billy and Me, this book was more emotionally developed, focusing on the characters’ growth whereas Billy and Me was more focused on the actual story.

You’re the One That I Want is one of those stories that take you on the life journey of three friends: Maddy, Ben and Rob. Since their first meeting, friendships develop and eventually blossom into love. Ben has been in love with Maddy since he first saw her but is too afraid that telling her will ruin the dynamics of their friendship. Maddy starts noticing Rob and Rob, well Rob is an enigma. He just happens to bounce along. But like any other love triangle story, something must go wrong.

Falling in love with Ben and the story was the easiest thing to do. Before I realised it, I was investing all my spare time to read this page-turner as fast as I could, hoping, begging and crying for some kind of epiphany! When that moment finally came, my world exploded/collapsed. I knew something was bound to happen in order to mess up our main characters’ lives but I didn’t see it coming until it did and when it did, the story truly began. Suddenly, I was taken on a wild flight of emotions racketing from one page to the other. What will happen? What will she do? What will he do? How are they going to fix this? were questions roaming inside my head. Maddy’s indecisiveness left me in the dark until the very end. It was amazing.

While I enjoyed reading this, I couldn’t help but dislike Maddy however. Maddy didn’t love until she was nudged into the right direction, making me question the sincerity of her relationships. She claimed love, betrayal and jealousy while before that moment she never showed any hints of feeling more. It would have been easier to accept her feelings if they had grown towards the explosion and hadn’t come afterwards.

Something else I’ve been wondering about: why write the story in alternating point of views of Ben and Maddy and not include Rob’s? Was it done on purpose? Probably. Was it brilliant? Sure! And yet it annoyed me. It felt incomplete to not being able to read how Rob experienced falling in love. It was a sneaky way of unconsciously portraying Rob as inferior compared to Ben and by doing this, manipulating us to root for Ben (at least I’m 100% team Ben even if I could have whacked him on the head sometimes). Unlike with Rob, we were privileged to be part of Ben’s thoughts and were able to form a connection with him.

In hindsight, it was mean to be pushed into a certain feeling but I say this with the best of intentions because it was brilliant. The feeling afterwards though…well, I suppose you’ll have to read the story and find out yourselves!

Are you team Ben or team Rob? What do you think about Maddy? 

Review: Happily Ever After by Harriet Evans

 photo HappilyEverAfter_zpsf43bf17e.jpgTitle: Happily Ever After
Author: Harriet Evans
Genre: General Fiction
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 468
DOP: 2012
Stars: 3/5

After a troublesome youth, Elle is sceptic about love and only believes in the fantasized love stories from the books she reads. Once she’s found herself working for Bluebird Books publishing house, things are starting to change for her. For the first time in her life, she’s faced with long-term relationships and how to deal with them. 

Elle’s story begins when she’s still a teenager and hears her parents arguing. This immediately sets the tone for Happily Ever After. Despite its title, the book doesn’t feel very light, approaching subthemes such as escapism and alcoholism. The central theme is growing up and Harriet Evans tries her very best with Elle. However, Elle is stubborn and despite living life, she’s more than happy to escape her surrounding world by reading books, only passively accepting change. Whether this is Evans’ purpose or not, is only the question. Did she willingly write Elle as a character void of emotions? Surely, Elle isn’t happy with how things are going but somehow she’s never explicitly displaying her emotions. Instead she drinks, runs away or stays blind altogether. As the story continues, we get to see snippets of Elle’s life and how she changes from an insecure and shy girl into a confident and successful career woman. So while Elle grows up professionally, whether she does this personally remains to be seen.

On a different note, the title is confusing. Is it meant to be sarcastic or did I miss something crucial while reading the book? Happily Ever After implies that all is well in the end but is it really? Throughout the story it is clear that Elle’s family is broken and that she struggles with her life but when I was finished reading, a lot of things still felt unsolved. Then again, is reality ever truly solved? Which brings me to the next question: another purpose of the author or unintentionally bad writing?

In the end, this book left me confused. Was I supposed to feel disconnected since Elle is disconnected to the world? Perhaps if we didn’t jump as much in time and were able to read how Elle underwent the actual change it might have felt different? Now, we always saw her right before a change, or after a change but never during the change. The jumping made sense but maybe, a little less of that might have benefitted the story, making it feel more accomplished.

All in all, it was easy to feel connected with Elle, albeit slightly from a distance. She didn’t evolve quite as much as I would have wanted her to and the story was sometimes slow paced but I liked how different the plot was from what I was expecting based on its title. Because I can’t make up my mind if this book was okay or not, I decided to give it the doubtful three stars. It wasn’t as good as I thought it would be, but it wasn’t bad either.

Review: I heart Christmas by Lindsey Kelk

I heart xmasTitle: I heart Christmas
Author: Lindsey Kelk
Series: I Heart (#6)
Genre: Chick-lit
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 347
DOP: November 2013
Stars: 4/5

Angela Clark is back and ready to celebrate Christmas in New York, Angela style. But then she gets a new job and Jenny’s got the idea she wants to have babies. If that’s not making her panic yet, Alex decides it’s time to grow up and gives Angela an early Christmas surprise. Louisa shows up with Grace, and her parents invite themselves over for the holidays. Angela’s Christmas promises to fall apart and so Angela does what only Angela does well: ignoring it all.

I stumbled upon this series by a friend’s recommendation a few months back but it wasn’t until the Christmas holidays when I started to read the books, and I fell in love straight away! I couldn’t put them down and once I finally managed to get my hands on a copy of I heart Christmas, it happened all over again.

In this instalment, Angela stays in New York, which differs from the previous five books when she travels to a different city each time. At first, I was a bit sceptical. Why change a vibe that everybody knows (and likes)? We already know New York and we had a Christmas (sort of) there as well. So what could Kelk do to make this one different and still likeable for her fans? The answer is simple: this, and the fact that we already know all the characters, gave Kelk a chance to take it up a notch. The daily drama of Angela’s life is still present but Kelk has added more grown-up related issues in this book. Angela’s story became more developed and kicks away from dramas such as exploding Louboutins (I’m still in shock about that though).

Although some of the issues Angela has to deal with are more evolved, it feels as if she’s stuck, making the same mistakes all over again. She isn’t learning nor growing up. She never seems to realise that the decisions she makes, affect other people too and Alex, bless his perfect little soul, puts up with it every time. I’m sure Kelk does this on purpose but I can’t help but hope that Angela stops making rash decisions or acting spontaneously without thinking of others. Otherwise I fear she might become a flat character and she’s already starting to annoy me. It is easy to hide a flat character if there’s only the one book but in a series, people expect growth and Angela doesn’t do any of that.

Besides that, Lindsey Kelk has a cunning way of making my heart swell with love and warmth for Alex (there’s never enough of him in the books). She makes me snort unlady-like at some of the things Angela gets herself into (something to do with a ventilation system) and she makes me laugh out loud in public, earning me the odd stare. But it’s so worth it! I would recommend the series (and the book!!) in case you haven’t read it yet. It’s fun, it’s heart breaking, it’s sometimes ridiculous (in a good way) and Alex is the boyfriend we all want but can’t find. It’s a great book to settle down with after an exhausting day.