Paige Huntley, a grad student teaching a summer course, is surprised to see film star Aidan Grey on her class roster. She's getting over a broken engaPaige Huntley, a grad student teaching a summer course, is surprised to see film star Aidan Grey on her class roster. She's getting over a broken engagement, and has been thinking a lot lately (maybe a little too much!) about her urbane dissertation adviser, the attractive but married Stefan Serovinak. The last thing she needs is the distraction that comes with having an attractive celebrity in her class. But as summer term unrolls, she finds there's something about Aidan that she didn't expect, and begins to find hard to resist. Aidan has come home to the remote college town where he grew up to finish his degree and figure out if he's as enthused about this whole Hollywood thing as he once thought. Meeting the attractive, down to earth and clever Paige was definitely not on his syllabus. Take these ingredients, stir in some stalkerazzi fans, a pushy agent, and a great cast of side characters, plunk them down on a sleepy summer college campus, and you have a charming, funny, sometimes suspenseful, and very satisfying light romantic novel.
For some reason this book makes me think of a lovely German wine - light, sweet but not cloying, with many classic, familiar elements, but still fresh and original. It's definitely a Qualitatswein mit Pradikat - a superior wine with special qualities. The characters are maybe a little too good to be true (that's one sensitive and understanding movie star, you've got yourself there, Paige!), but isn't that part of the fantasy fun, really? There is definitely some toe curling mclovin' going on, too - this is def an adult romance, and there's a bit more of the old je'ne sais quoi going on than in the YA I'm used to reading (wow, what you girls are getting up to these days!), but it's sweet and intense and conveys so nicely the dizzying, overwhelming emotions that engulf our mc's and catapult them into and out of each others arms, even against their better judgment and common sense. And isn't that what love is supposed to do?...more
This is a pretty awesome book. Honestly, not sure I can add anything to the 17,000 odd reviews that are already up, so just a few quick reactions. ItThis is a pretty awesome book. Honestly, not sure I can add anything to the 17,000 odd reviews that are already up, so just a few quick reactions. It is very funny - there are funny characters, funny situations, and funny incidents. But there are also just lots of funny weird things and one liners. For example the porn shop where all the titles are Faulkner parodies (E.g., The Sound and the Furry, etc.). So speaking of the porn shop, Frenchy's, funny story. It's a real place, just around the corner from the library where I work. It's actually between where I park when I drive to work, and my office, so I've walked by it a lot. It's a really nice porn shop (not that I'm super knowledgeable, haha), and I didn't actually realize what it was, despite walking by it a lot (tourist trap?). It has kind of a classy neon sign, and a facade that looks like a restaurant. So, shortly after I started working at the library, we were discussing where to take an interviewee to lunch, and I said, "Hey, how about that Frenchy's place, it looks nice?" Well, half the people thought I was being a smartass (can't imagine why}, the others were scandalized (librarians, remember). Finally someone said, ummm, you know that's a porn shop, right? Oooops, major embarassment alert, there. So, glad to see it immortalized this way. It was also fun to read a book set in Chicago, with lots of Chicago-esque elements, and for a couple guys not from around here, they really got the whole feel of Michigan Ave.,Milleniusm Park, the Bean, taking the train downtown and stuff. So that was cool, too. Since it was a John Green book, I kept waiting for someone to die, or something tragic and awful to happen, so it was a relief to finish with the crew intact. I know I've emphasized the fun, funny and wacky elements, but it's also a book of intense emotions and real feeling characters. For some reason, I feel like twisting peoples' arms to read this now, there's just something about it that makes you want to share the experience.
Four friends head to Edinburgh for a "gap" year after graduating high school. When the familiar is left behind, do you find out who you really are? OrFour friends head to Edinburgh for a "gap" year after graduating high school. When the familiar is left behind, do you find out who you really are? Or does the new setting and the freedom of an unfamiliar territory lead you to impulsive behavior that leaves you wondering all the more? And can old relationships stand the push and pull of new feelings, new experiences and maybe most of all, new friends?
I really enjoyed this warm and deeply immersive story from start to finish (oops, sorry didn't mean to make it sound like a bath, there, but it is worthy of a good long soak!). I found the main character, Eva, irresistably winsome and appealing. She's a real feeling girl, with issues of impulse control, sometimes not the greatest judgment, and too much desire to please others (my opinion only, there), and that sometimes leads to mildly regrettable behavior. Her friends don't cut her any slack about any of it all, and I felt bad for her about that. The notion that she's a "cheater," is a major theme, and it made me feel really bad for her and angry on her behalf. See, that's what kind of book this is, you get so into the characters that you get all riled up on their behalf. So let me speak to that more directly, and if you're senstive to SPOILERS you might want to skip over the next para.
The high school boyfriend? Sheesh, I totally thought he was a mope. If you're an eighteen yo guy and overwhelming physical attraction to a girl isn't part of the equation, there's either something wrong with you, or the relationship. Major red flag alert, girls! In Tony's case, I thought it was both, and it was silly of Eva to put up with it, and only reflective of her crappy previous boyfriend. The notion that she'd go off for six months to a foreign spot and limit her love life to exchanging emails with a guy whose notion of sweet talk is crappy "funny" pet names like "haggis face," (made that one up, sorry Molly, yours are infinitely funnier!) is just ridic. Gil? A fun fling, but girl, why all the angst about it? Live a little, this is your time, you're eighteen on your own in Edinburgh, third base isn't the end of the world! This is where her friends irritated me, too, getting all preachy, judgmental and superior - after encouraging her in the first place! Laurence? Don't get me started. I've known guys like this, and the whole "I know you're a cheater cause you cheated with me, so how do I know you won't do it to me next" thing is the lowest possible blow after someone's passion for you has eclipsed their common sense to take a chance on you. For such a smarty pants he could use a seminar on unconditional love. He does redeem himself, ultimately, but Eva, girl, you could do better!
Ok, END SPOILER, relationship rant over, if you read that, you can see how easy it is to get sucked into Eva's story (to me that's what this was, basically). This book isn't just about the characters, though, rich as they are. The city of Edinburgh is brought to life, not it a travelogue-y way, but with a vivid, rich and sustained poetic evocation of the city's essence, its fragance, its personality and its people. Molly also really captures the way it feels to be on your own in a strange new place, especially when things are unsettling, you're sick and feeling down, or when you're feeling elated. One thing I think the author does really well, in this book and in Summer Term, the other book of hers I've read, is create that dizzy, physically overwhelming feeling of new infatuation. Let's hope Eva's lasts this time, or that if it doesn't she's not afraid to try and try again. She's worthy of someone who can light that fire, and who won't mistrust her for feeling its warmth. Hope this review has actually been more about the book and less about my own psycho-drama, but that's the beauty of it, it def calls up real and intense emotions. Well done Molly Ringle, looking forward to more!...more
This is such a beautiful and tender book, I hated to see it come to an end. There's something extra poignant about a love story where the MC's love eaThis is such a beautiful and tender book, I hated to see it come to an end. There's something extra poignant about a love story where the MC's love each other so selflessly that the obstacles to their union are those imposed from within, by their desire for the best for each other. Exactly the opposite of what you would think to be the case here, where it seems like it would be outside forces (I mean like sharks, sickness, etc.) pulling them apart, but those external elements only serve to bring them closer to each other. There's something luminous and immersive about Tracey's prose that really made me feel like I was living this book - it's hard to say if I was the 17 yo boy or the lovely 30 yo young woman, but whatevs, it was wonderful. For sheer escape, this is completely real feeling, without the slightest hint of overstatement or false sentimentality, and yet beautifully imaginative. Loved every languidly paced moment!...more
This was a really good book. I should have reviewed it when I finished it, because now all I remember are a bunch of weird details about her sister, hThis was a really good book. I should have reviewed it when I finished it, because now all I remember are a bunch of weird details about her sister, her hate blogger and the boy she got hung up on. The MC was a cool, believable character, although the handcuffs thing seemed a bit out of the blue, trust me, 50 Shades in high school this is not (prob for the best, I felt creepy enough as it was). It's a family drama, my fav, and a well done one. Bethany G. seems to have switched to more PNR type stuff, which is a big loss to the world of realistic, intense and thoughtful contemp. ...more
MC Lina takes a job as the live-in nurse at a small retirement home after an unfortunate incident at the big hospital where she's on staff. I could haMC Lina takes a job as the live-in nurse at a small retirement home after an unfortunate incident at the big hospital where she's on staff. I could have told Lina that reading Stephen King when your job involves staying up all night is a major mistake! (My wife finally made me turn the lights out at bedtime a week after I finished "It.") Her new digs are a funny old place though. It's an elegant mansion, a former sorority house, rumored to be haunted by one of the former sisters. Lina is sceptical, and far more concerned with her feelings for Ren, the "houseboy." It's not just that he's the sole occupant anywhere near her age, he's also kind, something she needs in her life just now, and quel coincidence for a romance novel, he's also kind of hot. His aloof manner and mysterious comings and goings give her pause though. Is the attraction all one sided?
This is a really good read. It is a bit hard to review, though, because there is a big ole twist, and although it's not that hard to spot, nonetheless it's much more fun to encounter it yourself, without a nasty spoilerboots ruining all the fun. So, I'll just talk a bit about the characters and the atmosphere, which honestly to me were the richer part of the reading experience in any event.
Lina ia so charming and sweet, you are rooting for her to find something good in her life from page one. I think Molly Ringle has a major knack for creating super relatable female characters. From a guy perspective they are that elusive combination of smart, sweet, funny (without knowing it), strong but vulnerable, and of course, cute, that makes them irresistible. Lina is a lonely girl though, and we find out why as the story progresses. Her story is poignant and tender, and it's great to see her find friends among her patients (? they're not sick, just elderly, but I'm not sure what else to call them, the residents?). She seems to find the family she needs among them, and seeing her come out of her shell is a touching part of the story.
Ren is enigmatic and elusive, but not in a way that makes you think he's a jerk. On the contrary, it's clear he too has suffered, and that he and Lina are just what each other needs.
Seattle itself is another major element of this book, and Molly conveys a beautiful sense of the city, which is very important to Lina. Here's a passage from the beginning of the book I thought was beautifully and sensitively written:
"A fresh September dawn bathed the eastern sky. Lina stumbled along the sidewalk, blinking at buildings and citizens and seagulls. Salmon-colored sunlight gleamed on the cars; roasting coffee filled the salty air with its scent; a beeping bread truck backed up into an alley."
For some reason that just put me totally into the scene, it felt poetic but also real. Which, is actually a pretty good way to describe Molly Ringle's style in general. Obvs this book has a lot of fantastical elements, but she does a good job of maintaining credibility and pulling you in so that it's all believable. Another thing I like about this book is that even the "bad guy" sees a little redemption at the end, and has motivations and a humanity that contribute to the aforementioned credibility.
After you've read a few books by an author, it's tempting to try to sort of "rank" them by quality or as "favorites." It's hard with Molly though, because each book I've read is so different. One thing they share though is a fun lyrical style, engaging, endearing characters and a heartwarming empathy for them. They all have their flaws and issues - some of them are pretty serious. And it's not just that it makes them more "real," it makes their stories deeper, more meaningful than if they were somehow less scared, scarred and worried. Haha, the more I talk about this book, the more I like it! Check it out, I bet anything you will too!
Of Ghosts and Geeks is cute, funny, sweet and sexy. MC Gwen, one of the titular geeks (see, sounds titillating already, eh?), is a quirky and charmingOf Ghosts and Geeks is cute, funny, sweet and sexy. MC Gwen, one of the titular geeks (see, sounds titillating already, eh?), is a quirky and charming professor of literature at Girthmore College, sadly in danger of becoming the spinster some might mistakenly take her for. Then she makes an amazing, potentially life-changing purchase - a rare illustrated mythology book, right up her scholarly alley. Little does she know that it's a a BOGO, and the "get one" is the kooky, reckless and restless ghost of a victorian teenager, determined to experience (in death, vicariously) the paroxysms of passion she'd been denied in life. The self-named Violetta (her real name, Dorcas Schmelbeck, is just too prosaic, pedestrian and passionless for her - hey, true story, my mom wanted us to name our oldest daughter Dorcas, family name and all, back in the day. She professed to be mystified when we tried to explain the utter cruelty of inflicting that on an innocent child. Anyhoo...) Violetta has little in the way of real life experience (except for her death, which was a doozy) or impulse control, but makes up for it with her ability to control inaminate objects, which she uses to compel Gwen's compliance with her seductive schemes for experiencing second-hand romance of the voyeuristic kind. She's already selected a partner for Gwen to perform with, the luscious and likeable Paul Chang, the landscaper who mows Gwen's lawn. Paul's biceps and his appreciation for the intersection of comic book heroes and mythology (he's the other geek)have actually previously come to Gwen's fond attention, and when Violetta (pronounced "vi-o-lator?") insists that the two of them re-enact certain poses, postures and positions illustrated in the aformentioned book, the action, and Gwen and Paul's mutual attraction, come to a boil. Like I said, this is fun, and funny. The humor is pretty broad, and laugh out loud-a-licious. Violetta veers between ridiculous and scary, and there are twists and developments that keep things fresh and unforeseeable. Molly has a knack for creating relatable, real-feeling characters, and these two are no exception. Yes, you can see what's happening long before they do (I guess part of geekiness is the whole socially awkward thing, especially with the opposite sex), but that doesn't make their reluctant(?) and reticent compliance with Violetta's ever escalating demands any less entertaining or satisfying. Of course, no true geek tale would be complete without a bit of cosplay, and Molly manages to work in the holy grail of every geek guys fantasy, to sexy and funny effect. So, hopefully I've conveyed my enjoyment and appreciation of this warm and tenderly funny story. This reminded me a bit of Summer Term, only this is the funny version, not the romantic one - it's got that same campusy, academic vibe, and the feeling of a close (sometimes claustrophobically so) community of teachers and students. Indulge yourself by reading this when you need a break - trust me, your enjoyment will be disproportional to its length. Just one final question though - Girthmore? What's up with that?...more
Ok, I cried, and enjoyed it, but I can only give it three hankies, it didn't reach in and twist on my heart strings like some of his books (I'll neverOk, I cried, and enjoyed it, but I can only give it three hankies, it didn't reach in and twist on my heart strings like some of his books (I'll never get over The Notebook, ok?). I like his books because they capture the intensity and overwhelmingness of "un grand amour," and this seemed to do that in a refracted way, showing the light, but not the heat, of the characters emotions. I'm going short because zillions of others have reviewed this already, and I don't have much more to contribute. A good read, with more suspense and anxious moments about "the bad guys," than I anticipated, and less passion than I'd hoped....more
Casey is just a regular teenage girl except for a couple of minor issues: her unmanageably curly hair, her equally untameable mega-crush on school fooCasey is just a regular teenage girl except for a couple of minor issues: her unmanageably curly hair, her equally untameable mega-crush on school football hero Nate, and oh yeah, that pesky problem of uncontolled time travelling at the most inconvenient possible times.
This is a cute, fun and fresh feeling read, and while I could agree with Nate that Casey is far more fascinating in the past, where her spunky self-reliance, quick wits and gumption come to the fore, she's pretty much a charmer whatever time zone she's in. She does have a lot to be mopey about back here in the real world, what with Nate breaking her heart, her parent's divorce and her little brother's unfortunate reaction to it, and her friend Lindsay's feeling left out of Casey's temporal traumas. The historical elements have an authentically gritty feel to them, and the way the plot moves between the two periods is clever and skillfully handled.
The opening chapter has a bit of a middle grade feel to it, but it quickly becomes more and more sophisticated and complex, narratively and emotionally, as the story builds. Casey's story really drew me in, and the twists of the plot and Casey and Nate's relationship were fun to experinece and worry about. This is a sweetly satisfying story, with loveable characters, a clever plot and lots of witty, wry and winsome writing! There's a couple cute twists, and it's fun to see some seemingly disparate plot elements coalesce and resolve.
The author asked me to read this, and give an honest review, and I'm so glad she did, as this was a good read I prob wouldn't have found on my own. She also has a really cool blog at http://www.ellestraussbooks.blogspot.com which I heartily commend to your attention. She's a generous spirited supporter of good YA, and I'm delighted to have made her (virtual) acquaintance!...more
Review to follow. I liked this 4 stars worth, felt that it got a little didactic at points, and wished that the character I liked didn't have it so coReview to follow. I liked this 4 stars worth, felt that it got a little didactic at points, and wished that the character I liked didn't have it so conflicted. But a good one, with a great MC, intense emotions and secrets - those are basically my three keys to a good book!...more
This review won't contain any "spoilers," with respect to this book, but it does assume familiarity with the characters and events of the two previousThis review won't contain any "spoilers," with respect to this book, but it does assume familiarity with the characters and events of the two previous books in the series, so it may be mildly spoilerish with respect to them.
This third book picks up where "Where You Are" leaves off. Reid is at somewhat of a personal nadir after the unsettling events on the night of the premiere of School Pride. He even gets uncharacteristically introspective, wondering what makes Emma think there's something more to him. Fortunately(?), his loyal friend John is there to steer him back to his "pointless, pleasure-driven life," with foreseeably disastrous results. When he's sentenced to community service at a Habitat for Humanity site as part of his punishment for a catastrophic drunk driving incident, he meets Dori, the volunteer assigned to "baby-sit" Reid while he fulfills his obligation. Dori, short for Dorcas, is there because she's committed to making the world a better place for others. She not only volunteers at Habitat, she helps with VBS, Sunday School and other programs at her dad's church, does meals on wheels, and is headed to Ecuador for a mission trip in just a few weeks. Reid and Dori come from two different worlds and world views, that's for sure, and their initial impressions of each other are not favorable, to say the least. But each feels drawn to the other as the summer progresses, and they begin to find something of value, something they need, in each other.
I loved the previous books in this series, and I really didn't expect this one to surpass them in reading and emotional enjoyment and intensity. I was always an ambivalent Reid supporter at best. Yes, it's been clear from the start that he had potential and character that lay fallow, awaiting some kind of awakening. But as Emma said at one point, it wasn't enough for me that he could be good, given the right motivation. He had to want to be, he had to do something about it, and he never seemed to have the gumption to do that. So, I sort of expected this to be about Reid finding a good girl who could sort of "convert" him, to "change" him to someone better behaved, the way that girls always seem to think they can do to bad boys. But this is a much deeper story, a story about choices, and growth and becoming a human being.
Dori is an amazing character, revealed slowly over the course of the book. You think you know her at the beginning of the book, that she's a classic do-gooder type, with values and strengths that motivate and drive her commitments. And all that is true, but there's so much more depth to her. As it turns out, when these two strangers meet in a modest little half built house, both of them are there under some kind of compulsion, one the no less strong for being self imposed. Both Reid and Dori have built themselves worlds of self-sufficiency, in different way and for different reasons. What happens when those constructions fall apart is what makes this book so powerful and affecting.
Some final random thoughts:
Do things happen for a reason? Dori spends a great deal of emotional energy denying that, at one point saying, "if I believed for two seconds that there was a reason behind some of the awful thing that occur in this life, I wouldn't be able to stand it." Exploring that idea, through some pretty horrific events, is a really interesting theme of this book, and while it's left unresolved (can it ever be resolved?), good does come from some terrible things in this story.
The name Dorcas. Whew, tough name for a kid, no wonder she goes by Dori. In the Bible, Dorcas was a woman known for her good deeds. She was also brought back from death by Peter, a guy who spent most of his time messing things up until he finally got it right. I'm not saying this is an allegory or anything, but I love how that story kind of resonates.
Alison Krauss. What an achingly pure and sweet voice she has. It seems so simple, and yet conveys such emotional power and depth. So it totally makes sense that when Dori sings, it's one of her songs. A particularly ambiguously heart-breaking one, too.
So, all in all, a wonderful book, a powerful read that will stick with you long after you finish, wishing and begging for more. I love how Brooke comes (briefly) back into things, and how parental relationships are such an important part of this story. Thanks so much, Tammara, for creating such a richly imagined world, that has such creatures in it.