Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Look, I know what you’re thinking. I am late to the party on this one. Fangirl has been sitting on my shelf for YEARS now just waiting to be cracked open. But trust me, had I known that I was going to love it as much as I did, I wouldn’t have waited this long.

Overall, I LOVED this book. I loved that the main character, Cath was so incredibly relatable in every way. I loved that her romance with (no spoilers) her crush was realistic and not the average “uhhh… yeah right…” mush fest that some YA can slip into. I loved that there were multiple mental illness themes, addiction themes, drug use themes, aggression themes, LGBT representation, sex positive themes, and family tension themes (all of which made the book that much more realistic). Liked I said, I loved it!

This book earned a 5-star rating for me and here is why:

What this book made me feel: First and foremost, Fangirl made me feel nostalgic for my own first year of college and for falling in love with my now husband who I met during my junior year. While those who are freshman in college are legally and technically adults, there is still so much childlike wonder and fun in those who are just starting their journeys away from home. I also felt so connected to Cath as a character. In the beginning to the novel, I admit, she annoyed me a bit because she was a bit whiny and angsty. But as I kept reading and her character really started to full form, I realized that a lot of her angst was a cover up for the anxiety she was feeling about college and in general. I completely relate to that feeling, especially when I was just staring at my new university. I also was able to really empathize with Cath’s family issues. Her mom, Laura, abandoning her as a child is not something that I went through, but as a child of divorced parents, I really understood her resentment toward her mother and how her life had waves of repercussions due to being in a single-parent family. Her dedication to her sister was another thing I was able to connect with, as I would do just about anything to keep my own sister safe if she were in a situation like Wren was in (again, no spoilers).

What this book made me think: Due to this being a YA novel, I admit that it didn’t make me “think” too much, per se. I think this book was heavy on the “feeling” aspect and that it was intended to be that way. I will say that Cath’s goals and perseverance toward her dream and her steadfast dedication to being exactly who she is really resonated with me. It made me think about my own goals for my career and life and reminded me to not let anyone, including myself, get in the way of my dreams!

What I learned from this book: The one main thing I learned from this novel is that there is so much importance, bravery, and honor in being genuinely who you are. Despite her friends and family kind of teasing Cath for liking something nerdy, she was unapologetic and continued to embrace what she was passionate about. This was a huge motivator for me because I happen to like a few nerdy things like Cath and I too receive teasing prods from my friends, family, and coworkers. But I like what I like and everyone else can either deal with it or get outta my life, right?! Right! 

Again, I can’t say enough how much I loved this book. I would highly recommend this to anyone who hasn’t read it yet, even if YA isn’t normally your genre of choice. It’s cute, funny, romantic, and just enough nerdy to add something extra as the cherry on top! 

5/5 stars for this adorable read!

Thank you so much for reading!

-Alisa

Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

The adventures of the Raven Boys and Blue continues with this amazing sequel! I can’t say much about what happens in this book without giving too much away, but here is what I can tell you: I am falling more and more in love with this series and its characters with each page turned.

As I mentioned in my last review post, I am trying out a new reviewing format that I think will be much more fun than my normal droning on about a book you may have never read. For my reviews, I will tell you what the book made me feel, what it made me think, and what I learned from it. After all, these are the most important gifts that books give us: Feelings, thoughts, and lessons.

 

What this book made me feel: In this second installment of The Raven Cycle, there was a lot of emotions running high as the characters start to shift into place for who they will become throughout the rest of the series. A few major things I felt during this book were anticipation, sadness, and fear. Anticipation to find out who the heck this illusive “Gray Man” is, trying to figure out what Ronan is and why he can do what he can do (very vague, but trying not to spoil anything…), and who Blue will choose in the deeply heart-wrenching love triangle (because what YA novel doesn’t have SOME kind of love triangle after all)? My highest anticipation comes from that cliffhanger at the end of the book though where a character thought long gone comes back. What does this mean for Cabeswater and for the rest of the family? I felt sadness for a character who always seems to be getting the short end of the stick (Adam), for what Ronan finds out about the Gray Man, and for Blue, who can’t seem to come to terms with who she is and how her contributes to the story. The fear came in when monsters were afoot, but I will leave that for you to discover on your own!

What this book made me think: One of the things that this book made me think a lot about was the implications of the actions that you have on other people’s lives. Something that you may not realize will follow you for your entire life truly could. This is certainly the case with Ronan in this book and I felt awful that he had to deal with what he did. I also thought a lot about how Adam’s family’s actions toward him have made him in the person he is in this book and how our home life truly does shape who we become as human beings.

What I learned from this book: For a YA novel, there was definitely a lot to learn from this book. The main thing I learned is that no matter what, family comes first. Regardless of the odds that are against you, you need to do whatever you can to make sure that your family is safe and happy. They are the ones who, in the end, will be there for you to pull you through whatever hell it is that you are facing. Friends too, but family first.

 

In case you couldn’t tell already, I am LOVING this series so far. I can’t wait to finish it very soon and I will make sure to keep you all updated on how I continue to like it.

Let me know if you have read this series and enjoyed it! Who is your favorite character?

Thank you for reading!

 

-Alisa

 

 

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

““There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.”

In a town that is anything but normal, four private school boys (Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah) and one daughter of a psychic and eccentric line of matriarchs (Blue) meet one another with one mission in mind: Find the ley lines, and locate Glendower (a long-dead and buried king) to be granted a favor. That is, according to legend, how it should work. Simple right?

In this stunning fantasy novel, Maggie Stiefvater creates a story of friendship, love, strength, adventure, magic, and ultimate sacrifice. Through the different layers of the character’s lives (what I might call a literary lasagna), we learn about the motives that drive each character and the lengths they are willing to go to in order to get what they want.

For Blue, all she wants is to be able to be herself. With a love triangle on the horizon and her knowledge that, if she kisses her true love, he will die, Blue struggles to balance her needs to express her feelings with, frankly, not wanting to kill the poor guy. Not only does she struggle with her emotional conflictions but she also struggles with the fact that in her entire line of aunts and mother, she is the only one who does not possess psychic abilities. While she can act as a sort of “sound and energy magnifier” for others, she cannot see the future on her own and make predictions. This leads to her feeling almost inadequate and frustrated, missing how valuable she truly is to the story.

For Gansey, he is a one-track-mind kind of guy. He wants to find Glendower and he wants to be granted his favor for waking him. What Dansey wants to find him for and the favor he will request is still unclear, but his dedication to finding him begs the question: What does Dansey want? Oh, and throw in a little pining for a girl who may or may not be interested in him? Yeah, that makes it a little bit more complicated.

For Adam, his motivation is making something of himself, by himself. Even though he attends an incredibly expensive private school, Adam’s home and family background is anything but the white-collar yacht-club glamorous lives that have been the hallmark of Aglionby (the private school) students. While Adam struggles with the financial reality he is faced with, he also starts to have feelings for someone that turns his life into both a positive new world and a dangerous gamble.

As for Ronan, I am still unsure what his motivations are other than being that kind of “he’s a jerk, but we love him” kind of character. However, I do think his motivations will become more clear in the second book, as the last line of The Raven Boys dropped a HUGE nugget of a plot twist.

For this review, I want to try something new for how I review the books I read. I believe that the three most important things about books are what we feel when we read them, what they made us think about, and what we learned from them.

So, without further ado, here is an introduction to my new reviewing style AND how they apply to my reading of The Raven Boys.

What this book made me feel: The major theme that I found in The Raven Boys was love. The characters struggle with love, fight for love, sacrifice themselves in the name of love, love their families, love their town, and most importantly love one another. While reading these themes of love, it made me feel like I truly was a part of their friendship circle. Each character so deeply cared for one another that I felt myself longing to understand a friendship so protective and selfless. I also felt sad for the characters when the love that they had for their families caused them pain. Adam, in particular, felt this pain (no spoilers). I was heartbroken and heart warmed all throughout this book by the different acts of love sprinkled in the novel.

What this book made me think: Sacrifice is a major component of this story, especially at the end of the novel. What this book made me think about overall was “What would I be willing to sacrifice for the ones that I loved”? It also goes without saying that, because this a quadrilogy (four-book series), my thoughts the entire time, all the way up until the last sentence was “WHAT THE HECK IS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT?!”

What I learned from this book: There are so many lessons to be learned from this book, but one of the main things I learned from reading it was that there is an incredible amount of importance in having friends surrounding you that support you, encourage you, and help you accomplish your goals no matter how odd or unbelievable they may seem. Without each person in this book supporting each other, there would have been a very different story to tell. Good friends are hard to find, but Blue and the Raven Boys are a group of friends that mesh together so well, you would think they were all related.

Overall, I GREATLY enjoyed this book. It is rare that YA novels leave me feeling completely satisfied with the story, but this one was an easy 5/5 stars! I will say that the plot did have a tendency to drag at times, but I feel that the occasional slow down really helped to paint a more in-depth picture of who each character was. You know that I really enjoyed a novel when I stay up until midnight to read over 200 pages just so I can find out what happens next!

Let me know what you think of this new format, as I will likely be using it in the future. I know that I personally prefer to read shorter reviews, and I think that my “feel, think, learned” method will make it a lot more fun!

Thanks for reading!

-Alisa