Originally posted on Attachments and Landline by Rainbow Rowell, I decided I wanted to read more adult romance. I used to read quite a lot when I wasOriginally posted on Attachments and Landline by Rainbow Rowell, I decided I wanted to read more adult romance. I used to read quite a lot when I was younger, namely Freya North's novel, but somehow developed started to dismiss the romance/chicklit genre. Nothing sounded good. But Rowell changed my mind, and though I hunted for romance that appealed, I still couldn't find much. Then I saw several adverts for The Best Thing That Never Happened To Me by Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice on Goodreads, an advert that asked a question about falling in love with your best friend. Sold! Plus with that awesome, nongeneric romance cover, I just had to read it! And it was SO good!
Holly and Alex were best friends at school, each one secretly in love with the other, but due to a misunderstanding, lost touch when they went to uni. Eleven years has now passed, and when Alex moves to London for a new teaching job, they end up getting back in touch. Holly is no longer the carefree, impulsive girl she once was, but a PA who loves organisation in a secret relationship with her boss. Alex is different too, no longer the self-concious, almost-dorky teenager, but a sophisticated seeming man who wears smart suits and is actually teaching English! Despite the differences, the two fall back into their easy friendship, and as time goes on, they quickly become best mates all over again. They remind each other of who they used to be, and with the easy, comfortable familiarity, they're also reminded of what they felt for each other at 18. But things are so different now, there's no way they could ever be more than friends, right?
This book is so good! It's not just a romance, but a romcom, and I was smiling away to myself more times than I can count. I recently read YA novel Lobsters by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison (review to come), and The Best Thing feels a lot like Lobsters' big sister. Not only is The Best Thing told in alternating view points for each chapter, although the stories are completely different, there's a similarity with the destinct voices, the crossed wires and lack of communication. And the humour of The Best Thing is also a grown up version of that in Lobsters. And with the few odd flashback chapters to when Holly and Alex were 18, the characters from both books could have known each other. If you like either book, you'll probably enjoy the other.
I was rooting for Holly and Alex the whole way through. They're both such likable, humourous characters! There was a lot of me wanting to slap my forehead in exasperation as you see what each person's perspective was of an evening hanging out together and how they both misjudged where the other was coming from. I know some people dislike books where the characters just aren't honest about what they're feeling and won't talk to each other, but I find with this book, it really adds to the will they/won't they tension. With the flashbacks, you see what happened before, and although Holly and Alex may be 11 years older, some things just don't change, and you're devastated to find that old mistakes might be repeated. The last line of the blurb, "How do you know if it was meant to be... or never meant to happen at all?", really works for the book, because I was never really sure how the book was going to end. Will they fall in love again? And if they do, will they say anything? Or will they realise that what they feel is just nostalgia for the past, not something that means anything now? I had no idea! Obviously, I knew what I wanted to happen, but couldn't guess at how the cards would fall.
Although the romcom side of things is the main focus of the book, The Best Thing is also about second chances. At different stages in the book, both Alex and Holly realise they're not fulling the dreams they had when they were 18. Working at the school in the quiet town of Mothston, Yorkshire, Alex doesn't feel like he's making a difference to anyone's lives, and feels that going to work at a bigger school in London will help him achieve that. But it seems teenagers don't really care about falling in love with Shakespeare, or having a teacher who's their for the troubled kids. He's a fish out of water, and feels he's failing as a teacher. But this is his chance to make an affect on his students, and he'll keep trying. Holly used tobe freespirited with dreams of travelling the world and having an array of experiences, but finds herself in a 9-5 office job every day. Alex reminds her of what her dreams once were, and she slowly finds the desire to do those things once again.
Ignoring the fact that feelings are involved (especially as I didn't know how it would end!), The Best Thing is an awesome reminder of how wonderful friendship is, how extraordinary it is to have those friends you can completely be yourself with, who love you faults and all. It's a book that reminds you of your own amazing friendships, and has you feeling grateful you have those people in your life.
The Best Thing That Never Happened To Me is a really great romcom, and I'm so eager to read more by both Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice!
Thank you to Transworld Publishers for the review copy....more
I can't even begin to tell you how this book has affected me. It moved me. It made me think. It spoke to meOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I can't even begin to tell you how this book has affected me. It moved me. It made me think. It spoke to me on such a personal level, I don't know if I should even be writing a review, because my reading experience is clouded by all it's made me feel and question about things in my own life. But I am writing this review, because I feel I owe to to Rainbow Rowell. As a thank you. Because Landline is unbelievable, in the best possible way.
Despite the time-bending phone calls, Landline is a very real book. Georgie and Neal's marriage is in the roughest of rough patches, and it's something they just don't talk about. When Neal decides to stick with the plans to take the girls his mother's for Christmas, but without Georgie, it all comes to ahead. They still don't talk about it, because Georgie can't get ahold of him. At least not in the present. The emotions in this book - the fear, the doubt, the deep and beautiful love Georgie has for Neal and her children - it's so real, it's palpable. It's a Rowell novel, so there is humour and lightness running throughout, but as awesome as that is, it's the emotional side of things that really stood out for me.
The way this story is told, with Georgie thinking back on her life with Neal as she worries about their future, you see various points within their relationship. Almost like flashbacks. We see them meet, we see their relationship start, and their relationship progress, but not chronologically. It's awesome to see the sweetness that once was in their relationship, and even the moments of tenderness during the tough times. It makes the possibility of the end of their marriage that much more heartbreaking. These are two people that are so deeply in love, they just turned down lots of tiny, wrong corners, and somehow got lost. I spent the whole time hoping for them, thinking, "Pick up, pick up, pick up," whenever Georgie calls Neal in the present. Their's is not a relationship you want to fail. There is so much love, and it's so worth fighting for.
As I had, I had a deeply personal reaction to this book. It felt like it was written for me. There were lines that felt like they were speaking to me personally. There was an argument between present day Georgie and 1998 Neal that I often have with myself. From then on, though my life is nothing like the book, I related time and again to situations, conversations, thoughts. I took so much from it. Or at least it made me think and question a lot, but I've yet to come to any conclusions. Except maybe sometimes, you just need to change how you do things, change your priorities, and decide what it is you're going to fight for.
And despite the fact the whole story is about a marriage that is going wrong, I spent the whole book thinking, "I so want this!" Even with the hard times, the family in this book, the love between all four of them, is just so beautiful. I so want my own dysfunctional family (because who's family is functional, right?).
This review has not nearly even scratched the surface of how incredible this book. I don't think it's possible for me to write a review that would do this book justice. But maybe this next line will give you an idea of just how amazing it is: Landline is on par, if not better, than Eleanor and Park - and I completely adore Eleanor and Park. Landline is so, so beautiful, and I feel like I've been given a gift. Rainbow Rowell, thank you.
The Lover's Dictionary is a story of a couple's relationship, from beginning to end. The story isn't told inOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
The Lover's Dictionary is a story of a couple's relationship, from beginning to end. The story isn't told in chronological order of the events, but in alphabetical order of the words. With each word, there will be a memory or a feeling or an idea about their relationship sparked by the word, with each entry being from either one line to a page and a half. We know the nameless narrator is male, but we don't know the gender of the also nameless "you." The story works for "you" being of any gender.
I misunderstood the book, first of all. Half the time, it felt like the Dictionary was written after the break up. It felt like the narrator decided to flick through a dictionary, and write a memory/feeling/idea for each word that spoke to him. And with the memory/feeling/idea comes an emotion. The story isn't told chronologically, as I said, but each entry is written one after the other by the narrator - and the emotions jump depending on the word and what it sparks. So one moment is a happy remembrance, in another, there is such hurt and anger. This is how it feels. It's not so much a story, but as someone writing it all down, maybe as a way to deal with the break-up. At least that's how it felt.
Until the tense would break up, and became present. And for a moment, I get stuck. At first, I would think "Oooh, recent break up. Sometimes it's difficult to go to the past tense." But then you would get an entry written in present tense that is quite obviously in the middle of the relationship, and it would throw this whole idea out the water. The narrator isn't writing this after a break up. He is living his romance, it is a story, and each entry is a certain time within the relationship. It took a little getting used to, once I figured out there was no actual logical to the back and forth accept for the alphabetical dictionary entries. It made it easier to follow to think it was, as I said, written after the break up. But in the end, you have to just let it go, and accept it's not going to make any logical sense when it comes to time. It is all over the place, but once I accepted that, I really enjoyed it!
I have to admit that I had to read the book with a dictionary. I didn't know maybe half of the words, and without knowing the definition made the entry seem a little random. You need to understand the word to understand the relevance of the entry. But it's such a great book! Full of Levithan's usual style, with beautiful language and awesome insights! Loved it. One of my favourite entries:
These words will ultimately end up being the barest of reflections, devoid of the sensations words cannot convey. Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough.' (p120)
I can relate to this one so much, and not just about love, about any emotion! Oh my god, sometimes, words just don't work.
The Lover's Dictionary is a great book! A fantastic idea, a quick read, and quite a touching story. I loved it!...more
I loved Eleanor and Park so, so much, I knew, even before I finished it, that I would read**spoiler alert** Originally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I loved Eleanor and Park so, so much, I knew, even before I finished it, that I would read every book written by Rainbow Rowell from that point on. Attachments, Rowell's first book, was next, and although it's adult romance and not something I normally read, I just had to. And... wow. Simply amazing! I would normally give a summary of what a book is about, but the blurb does a pretty good job, so I'll just jump right into it. Attachments is such a fantastic book! It's funny and heart-warming, and just a beautiful, beautiful read.
Attachments is set in a newspaper office in 1999, Beth is a movie critic and Lincoln works in IT.. As well as reading emails for rule-breaking, Lincoln is also helping out preparing everything in case the Millennium Bug causes all computers to die. I studied Journalism at uni, my Dad works in IT and had to deal deal with the Y2K stuff himself. So I got this book. Despite everything being explained, I knew what a headache Y2K IT work was, and I know what a copy-editor, for example, is. Simply because I knew what I was reading about made this book so much more credible to me. However, no-one should be put off by the idea of journalistic terms or talk of computer work - none of it is all that heavy, and through the story, you find out what everything means. And none of it is the real focus of the story. The focus is Lincoln, Beth and Jennifer.
Attachments follows the life of Lincoln, a shy, socially awkward 28-year-old who hasn't had a girlfriend since he was dumped by his high school girlfriend at 19. He's never really got over the heartbreak, and dealt with it by continually going back to college, for another degree, another masters. Working in IT at The Courier is his first job out of school, and has moved back home to his mother's - as he was always living in dorms before. His older sister Eve is constantly on at him to move out and get himself a proper life; living at home with your mum, sleeping all day and working all night is not a life. In some ways, he agrees. Lincoln doesn't really know too many people any more, and is a little bored with his life. Reading the emails between Jennifer and Beth are a distraction from spending hours behind a desk with no real work to do, and only his thoughts.
We do not follow Jennifer and Beth. We read their emails along with Lincoln. Almost each alternate chapter is an email exchange between the two women. They'll be talking about their colleagues, or their work, generally making each other giggle, or they'll talk about more personal things; Jennifer's fears about pregnancy, Beth's relationship troubles, and feeling like she's behind everyone else her age. The two women are so fantastic; their personalities really shine through their emails; they're both incredible funny, especially Beth, and both have insecurities. They confide in each other, and as much as you want their chapters to come up to find out what's happening regarding something or other, you can't help but feel uncomfortable. Some of these things are real personal, and I felt like I was invading their privacy right along with Lincoln. And yet... it was almost like favourite characters on a soap, I couldn't wait for the next installment, and would have to remind myself that these women, within the context of the story, are real people, it's not something someone made it, it's their lives. And we - Lincoln and I - are snooping.
The changes that come over Lincoln, though, when he discovers that the new guy at work Beth has nicknamed "My Cute Guy" is actually him is so damn adorable. In some ways, Lincoln is still like a teenager; it's been so long since he's been with one, and to find someone finds him attractive - that all those emails about My Cute Guy were actually talking about him - he can't believe it. He has already started falling for Beth through her words - her heart, her humour, her honesty and sincerety - and to discover that she has somehow seen him without him realising, and actually fancies him. Well. It's enough to send his heads to the clouds. I am undecided as to whether I'm a little bit in love with Lincoln, or want to adopt him.
Attachments is such a sweet, beautiful love story! It really is amazing! I personally would have preferred a few more pages at the end, to see more of what happened once they had finally met properly, but it's still such an adorable story! I will most definitely be continuing to read whatever Rowell writes - YA or adult, those books will be mine!...more
So many people were raving about this book, I had to give it a go myself. And I am so glad I did. I fell inOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
So many people were raving about this book, I had to give it a go myself. And I am so glad I did. I fell in love with the story and the characters as Eleanor and Park fell in love with each other.
Eleanor and Park is completely beautiful. Set in 1986 and full of retro pop culture references, it's a book I want to share with everyone. It's a story full of the sweet tenderness of first love, full of innocence, when simply holding hands was such a big deal. Is a big reminder to appreciate the small things, but also helps you remember the tiny moments of your own romances, the ones full of sweetness. I am completely aware of what a sap I sound, but I don't think a single person could read this book and not have their heart melted.
Eleanor and Park also tackles several serious issues. Both characters have problems with their body image; Eleanor is a bigger girl, and doesn't think she's attractive, and Park is half Korean, and is aware that his Asian looks cause him to stand out. The story also covers issues of bullying, poverty and domestic abuse. Sometimes it can be a little hard hitting, especially when it comes to the domestic abuse, but none of it overshadows the beauty of the romance.
Because it's the 80s, for our young couple, entertainment comes in the form of comics and music, specifically mix tapes. The two strike up a friendship by sharing the two with the other. They bond between the pages and the riffs. I love their geekiness, and how their love grows is just so cute and adorable.
Eleanor and Park is such a beautiful, beautiful story, and I now want to read everything else Rowell writes. With just this one book, I am such a fan! Cannot recommend this novel enough, it's right up their with my favourites! I will leave you with what might be the most beautiful quote I've ever read:
'The me that's me right now is yours. Always.' (p312)
I was originally interested in Love Story because it mentioned that Oliver and Jenny are college students -Originally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I was originally interested in Love Story because it mentioned that Oliver and Jenny are college students - or are, at least, at the start, and I immediately thought, "Could be New Adult!" There was something familiar about it thought, so I looked it up, to then discover I have seen the musical! As know the story, I knew I was in for a good read.
Harvard hockey star Oliver and music student Jenny are worlds apart; Oliver, a jock, comes from a wealthy family with high expectations of him, and Jenny is a classical music loving American of Italian decent from a working class background. They couldn't be more different, yet they fall in love. But their perfect romance comes to a devastating end when Jenny's life is tragically cut short.
This is not a spoiler. We find out that Jenny does from the very first line in the book, '"What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died?"' (p1). Having enjoyed the musical and cried more than I can say, I do think I was expecting more from the book. I actually turned the last page thinking there was more to come, not realising it was the end. However, for a book of 133 pages (160 in all with the introduction, about the author, etc), it was a really sweet story!
I really loved Jenny; she's such a strong young woman, so witty and constantly mocking Oliver, but with love. From the first time they meet until the very end she calls him "Preppie", and calls him out on all of his crap each and every single time.She has a great comeback for every remark from her husband, but the love she has for Oliver is evident in everything she says and does. Despite the fact that Oliver narrates the story, Jenny felt much more believable, or easier to picture than him, but this may be because I could see Emma Williams' portrayal of her in the musical in my head. I could still hear her voice and see her reactions - and having now read the book, I know she was perfect for the role. However, I couldn't remember that Michael Xavier played Oliver until I just looked it up, so perhaps that's why he didn't seem as real to me; I was picturing an actual person as Jenny, but didn't have anyone for Oliver.
I do think seeing the musical in 2010 before reading the book (even though I didn't know it was based on the book at the time - I believed it was just a musical adaptation of the movie) was to my detriment, because the musical gave so much to the story, extending what we read on the page, so I found it hard to get it hard to get emotionally involved in the book. Being such a short book, everything happens so quickly. In some respects, there's no meat to the events that we see, the meat is in the emotion between Oliver and Jenny. This means there were no tears from me like I expected - like everyone who knew I was reading it expected; my Mum, the book's publicist, even my boss at work included.
Despite not getting as emotionally involved in Love Story, it's still a fantastic little book, and one I know I'd enjoy reading again and again. It's amazing to see so much emotion pour out of so few pages, and it's a story that will stay with you. I highly recommend it.
Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton for the review copy....more
The basic premise of The Notebook is so beautiful there are no words. The story of an old man who reads to his Alzeimer-suffering wife the story of hoThe basic premise of The Notebook is so beautiful there are no words. The story of an old man who reads to his Alzeimer-suffering wife the story of how they got together every day in the hopes of bringing her back to him is so fantastically beautiful, the idea alone makes me want to cry. I have no shame telling you that when I first watched the movie several years ago, I was crying through most of the film and it have been my favourite ever since; it's just so beautiful.
Nicholas Sparks has this wonderful way of writing, where I think I would enjoy reading even if he wrote something where the plot was completely ridiculous. The way he writes is almost poetical, and the way he describes, for example, Noah just sitting on the porch in the evening playing his guitar - nothing all that spectacular - makes it sound like something so amazing. His description and imagery, I find, are just so calming, that while reading I feel like I'm in a dream-like state, with a sense of wonder over the smallest things.
The story, however, fell a little short for me. I characters didn't seem all that believable to me, the things Noah and Allie thought and said, the way they formed their sentences, it just isn't how people talk. They were structured, not automatic as they would be for normal conversation/thinking. And they kept talking about their love for each other, but I didn't really feel it. There was a lack of, well, passion.
It was a good read, a sad but strangely optimistic read, but it was fantastic. I was warned to keep the tissues near me during this book. They weren't really needed; I cried once, when a particular part of the story reminded me of what happens at a particular point in the film, whih never fails to make me sob like a child. It was the reminder of the film that brought the emotion, rather than the stroy itself. The plot didn't stir any emotion in me, it was the writing that did.
Great if you're looking for a quick read that is beautifully written, but not overly heavy on the heart....more