Tag Archives: Rainbow Rowell

Book Love

book pile2“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”

-J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Brian Jacques. Jane Austen. J.R.R. Tolkein. Roald Dahl. C.S. Lewis. Alistair MacLean. Louis L’Amour. Rainbow Rowell.

That’s my short list of authors who gave me that jolt of pure, unadulterated joy that obliterates the rest of the world, makes you feel you’ve found a spiritual/mental soulmate, and makes you want to track them down and knock down their door or call them up and have long conversations about everything and nothing and find out their opinion about the world and politics in that one corner of the world and how they like their tea.

4 Books For People Who Like Character Driven Novels

4characterdrivennovels2Broke and Bookish launched this book theme for the week, so I thought I’d participate. They did 10 but I’m lazy and write longer descriptions because I get carried away so you’re getting four.

1. Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell. I’ve mentioned my love for Rainbow Rowell several times before, if you haven’t read her yet, she practically defines character-driven works. Eleanor and Park is a linear novel in that there are almost no characters featured at all beyond the central two; it’s a deep dive into the minds and personalities of two intelligent, outcast teens. Eleanor is a curvy loner with a unique clothing style and a troubled home life. Aloof Park is respected but left mostly alone due to being one of the only Asians at the high school. After a first, tentative connection on the bus, Eleanor stars reading along with him on the comic books he reads every day on the way to school. They forge a slow, tender, passionate connection over a shared love for music and comic books. It’s one of the best love stories I’ve ever read, and Rowell isn’t afraid to show the push and pull, tension and release, the intense obsession and curling joy and turbulence that comes with that epic first love.

2. The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James. You didn’t really think I could answer this without including the book featuring Isabel Archer, one of the most complex and also identifiable female heroines ever, right? I don’t like most of James’ other works, but this – it feels as though James is sitting behind me reading my thoughts. Isabel Archer is an American of good birth and no money until an elderly acquaintance spontaneously leaves her a huge fortune. She finds love, misfortune, and a lot of societal complications as she travels between Europe and England and finally settles down in Italy. It’s the most perceptive book I’ve ever read about how women think, in the same way that Nick Hornby captures how men think in his funny, piercingly accurate prose.

3. A Murder for Her Majesty, Beth Hilgartner. Who read this as a kid? One of the most re-readable books I’ve ever come across, this incredibly engrossing book is technically written for younger/teen readers but it so beautifully plotted and captures the atmosphere of 16th-century Tudor London so vividly, you’re immediately drawn in. Orphaned Alice Tuckfield is on the run, penniless in the rain, having left behind her country home after the sudden murder of her father. She stumbles upon a cathedral and is taken in by a group of choirboys who befriend her and allow her to join them if she masquerades as a boy. Mystery, plots, a gruff tutor who becomes a father figure, and plenty of banter and friendship light up the book. The boys all have distinct personalities and interact with Alice differently, becoming her family, brothers, and friends, and she, plucky, well-educated, and a gifted singer, leaps off the page. Most of the Goodreads reviews of this are from adults who report they couldn’t put it down, and there’s a reason why. So good.

4. Sunshine, Robin McKinley. I am not certain if this is the only adult book Robin McKinley ever wrote, but it’s certainly one of the few. Sunshine has always known there’s something a little different about herself, but since she doesn’t know what it is, she continues living her life as a baker in her small town. One day, however, she’s grabbed and wakes up chained to a wall next to a similarly shackled human-ish creature named Constantine. Things for from there. Sunshine is flawed, and funny, and snarky, and even as she very (very) reluctantly falls in love with the vampire whom she’s been thrown together with and who winds up protecting her from his own kind, she gives him all kinds of hell. This book is immutably gripping and so much better than I can describe, mostly because Sunshine is amazing.

Book Love: Rainbow Rowell and Book Photography

Cali of Inside the Book Reader takes stunning images of books – beautiful colors and construction.rainbow rowell book maps photo book kayak fangirl photo

Book Love: Landline Covers

Rainbow Rowell books always have the  best covers.

rainbow rowell landline book cover

Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

lola and the boy next door reviewLola and the Boy Next Door is the second book in Stephanie Perkin’s loosely-linked young adult trilogy (Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Isla and the Happily Ever After)… it was good stuff, y’all. In fact, dare I say I liked it much better than Anna and the French Kiss? Lola is significantly more grounded than Anna, not emotionally, but just as far as personality and life situation – I had trouble fully identifying with both Anna and Etienne in French Kiss because their lives were so thoroughly privileged. Yes, they both had family troubles which made them more sympathetic, but I’ve never been a drop-dead gorgeous teenager who gets to attend boarding school in France, and I suspect most of the rest of us haven’t either. It was all just a little too much, a little too surreal and fairy-tale-like.

All of which is to say – Lola is much more identifiable – her family’s middle-class, she works a very average job at a movie theater, she’s pretty but not absolutely stunning, and she lives in San Francisco. (Side note: San Francisco as a setting was a delight, as I visit often and love that city. It’s under-utilized as a setting for American books).

Lola Nolan lives with her parents (two married men) in the Castro district in San Francisco, in a delightful if small house passed down by her grandmother. She has a smart, driven best friend and a steady boyfriend in the form of tattooed punk-rocker Max. Life for her is pretty good…until some old neighbors move back in and her life turns upside down. Calliope Bell was Lola’s best friend until she started becoming a star ice skater and dropped Lola for not being cool enough. Calliope’s twin brother Cricket, meanwhile, the soft-spoken, awkward foil to his sister’s shining light, was Lola’s first love. Their relationship ended abruptly (and, traumatically for Lola) almost before it began however, and Lola hasn’t seen either of the Bell twins for years.

Continue reading

Let’s Rainbow Rowell It Up in Here

Rainbow Rowell is one of my favorite authors, and indisputably one of the best young adult novelists out there. So have two bits of deliciousness today.

First, Buzzfeed did a great interview of her, from Ashley Ford who goes by smashfizzle on Tumblr –

“The first time Rowell wrote about the struggles of her childhood was in her column for the Omaha World Herald. Her voice lowers a bit, serious but without shame. “I was living in rural areas often without power or a phone or a car. Our water came from a well and a pump. My dad was not around and when he was around, he was not good. There was a lot of alcohol abuse and drug abuse. I feel like I need to say that I’m probably sane and alive because I had a really great mom. Eventually, when we moved to the city and we were on welfare, it was a step up. Being poor in the city was easier than being poor in the country.”

Despite their living conditions, Rowell remembers a home where her father read her The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Books were her safe haven. “My mother was very strict, there was very little on television that we were allowed to watch, there were very few movies that we were allowed to watch. But she’d let me read anything.”

And a favorite Youtube book reviewer Polesandbananas covered Landline with her usual pizzazz –

All Rainbow Rowell Up in Here

XTINEMay aka Christine, one of the most popular book vloggers on Youtube, has a hilarious and spot-on discussion of Attachments, Rainbow Rowell’s first (and my least favorite of her books).

Speaking of Rainbow Rowell….I am very late with this but she’s writing a graphic novel!!!!

%d bloggers like this: