Book Review–Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

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This is the 35th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Published April 12th, 2012 by St. Martin’s Press

 

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

 

——

 

This was a hard one to put down once I got to a certain point. At first, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this because Park comes off as somewhat of a jerk in the beginning. But after a while he started to grow on me. Especially when he began acting more kindly toward Eleanor.

I adored the love story. I’ve read some reviews in which people complain about insta-love, but it didn’t feel like that at all to me. Maybe because it took some time for their relationship to start. Things did get seriously quickly once they were together, but I did similar things in the beginning stages of my relationships so it just made me feel more nostalgic than anything.

I was able to connect with Eleanor pretty well. I’m all too familiar with bullying, self-image problems, and having to deal with a terrible step-parent. Her family situation is pretty bad, though, and made me want to hug her.

Park had his own problems, but I guess I couldn’t relate as well to his. I didn’t care much for his dad until the end, when he did a really cool thing. I adored Park’s mom. I think she might be my favorite side character. She cracked me up and I loved how she seemed to run things in her family.

I liked that this was set in the 80s. I’m not too familiar with that time period as I was born during the middle of it, but the setting seemed to fit, especially with the mix tapes. The writing style was super easy to get into. I liked the dual POVs. I’m not sure the story would have worked as well any other way.

This is far from a perfect book, but the few flaws it had weren’t enough to diminish my love for the story. The only thing that really bothered me was toward the end when Park is taking Eleanor somewhere important and she’s so tired that she falls asleep. And he gets annoyed with her for it. I know people are far from perfect, but that part really bothered me.

The only thing that could have really made this story better would be for it to be longer–it seemed to go by much faster than I wanted it to. I’d realistically give this 4.5 stars though I do consider it a new favorite and something I would like to re-read again one day.

 

5stars

 

 

 

jncname

Camp NaNo Update (Day 26)

 

 Hey guys, guess what happened on Day 26?

 

 

2014-Winner-Facebook-Cover

 

That’s right! For me, Camp NaNoWriMo is OVER. I finished at 50,114 words (Scrivener says I finished with a hundred and so more but I’ll go with NaNoWriMo’s word count for official reasons). 

 

This year has probably been my best one with Camp NaNo. Even though I missed a few days of writing, I still managed to finish and be happy with what I wrote with 4 days to spare. That’s pretty awesome. Right now I am still pumped, riding on the winds of my success. I enjoyed writing my extended ending and am excited that I didn’t have to go back to previous chapters to beef anything up, like what I had to do with some of my previous books.

 

My plans now are to relax from writing for a bit (but not too long) and start querying Whispertown in August. Pitch Wars are also coming up during that time and I plan to enter Whispertown. I’ll post more about that at a later time, though. For now I am going to bask in the happiness of finishing my book on time (as well as being happy with the first draft) and maybe order a Camp NaNo T-shirt in a few days. I sure hope I can get to sleep tonight. Right now I am WIDE. AWAKE.

 

How is Camp NaNoWriMo going for you? Are you enjoying your story? I hope so!

 

 

jncname

Book Review–Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah

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This is the 34th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Published 2005 by Orchard Books

When sixteen-year-old Amal decides to wear the hijab full-time, her entire world changes, all because of a piece of cloth…

Sixteen-year-old Amal makes the decision to start wearing the hijab full- time and everyone has a reaction. Her parents, her teachers, her friends, people on the street. But she stands by her decision to embrace her faith and all that it is, even if it does make her a little different from everyone else.

Can she handle the taunts of “towel head,” the prejudice of her classmates, and still attract the cutest boy in school? Brilliantly funny and poignant, Randa Abdel-Fattah’s debut novel will strike a chord in all teenage readers, no matter what their beliefs.

 

——

 

I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while. I was pretty excited–and honestly kind of surprised–to discover it at my local library. I don’t really know many Muslims. There also don’t seem to be many where I live, either.

Before reading this, I didn’t really understand why Muslim women wore the hijab, though I respected their choice to wear it. I feel that after reading this book, I understand more than I did before. There’s still a lot I don’t and probably will never know, but I hope to learn more. If anyone reads this review and has any other book recommendations for me, I’d love to hear them.

This ended up being a great story. I enjoyed the characters, the plot, the relationships, and the thought-provoking questions. And the writing style/voice grew on me after a while. I like that the book seems to be realistic when it comes to people. They don’t change overnight–it’s a gradual change.

I liked how this book tackled all of the issues regarding girls who choose to wear the hijab, especially how others judge them. I also liked how the different families were portrayed. Though to be honest, I really hated Leila’s brother and his hypocritical attitude. I wanted to punch him as much as I believe Amal wanted to. I wasn’t a huge fan of Leila’s family and felt for the poor girl, but I liked how things seemed to be going for her toward the end.

All of the scenes with Amal and her grouchy Greek neighbor, Mrs. Vaselli, were hilarious. I’m still torn on the Amal and Adam relationship–I loved it at first, but hate how Adam ended up treating her for standing up for her beliefs. I also enjoyed Amal’s scenes when she’s with her friends. Those especially seemed to come to life for me.

This was a powerful read about embracing your identity and I hope even those who have stereotypical concepts will give it a chance.

 

 

4stars

 

 

 

jncname

Camp NaNo Update (Day 22)

2014-Participant-Facebook-Cover

 

 

Hey guys. I hope you are enjoying the book reviews. Today is the 22nd day of Camp NaNoWriMo–which means we are almost finished. I am currently at 39939 words. I have 10,061 words to go and 8 days left. Almost there! I’m coming up close to the end, but I think I can finish without struggling too badly with the word count. I’m excited to see how these last chapters go.

 

How is Camp NaNoWriMo going for you? Are you enjoying your story? I hope so!

 

 

jncname

Book Review–Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell

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This is the 33rd book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

 

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Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell
Published October 1st 2013 by Harry N. Abrams

Rebecca Blue is a rebel with an attitude whose life is changed by a chance encounter with a soon-to-be dead girl. Rebel (as she’s known) decides to complete the dead girl’s bucket list to prove that choice, not chance, controls her fate. In doing so, she unexpectedly opens her mind and heart to a world she once dismissed—a world of friendships, family, and faith.

With a shaken sense of self, she must reevaluate her loner philosophy—particularly when she falls for Nate, the golden boy do-gooder who never looks out for himself. Perfect for fans of Jay Asher’s blockbuster hit Thirteen Reasons Why, Coriell’s second novel features her sharp, engaging voice along with realistic drama and unforgettable characters.

 

 

——

 

While this wasn’t a book that was difficult to put down like my last read, I really enjoyed this one and nearly ran over my lunch break trying to finish it.

I admit, the concept of bucket lists have always intrigued me. You can tell a lot about a person from their bucket list. So it was pretty neat reading a book where someone tries to complete another person’s bucket list.

While the plot was fun and the writing was good, it’s really the characters that made the book for me. I loved the characters and all of their little quirks. The relationships between “Rebel” Blue and the other characters were also interesting. I adored the love interest and the fact that the relationship was far from perfect. I’m also a sucker for anyone who likes and does art. The sea-glass frames Rebel makes sounded really cool.

This was a fun yet somewhat deep read. Was a little disappointed with the ending as it felt rushed, but overall I wouldn’t change much about this book. Will definitely be looking into more books by this author.

 

 

4halfstars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jncname

Book Review–What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton

brotw

 

This is the 32nd book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

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What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton
Published October 9th 2012 by Poppy (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)

How can you talk about something you can’t remember?

Before the ski trip, sixteen-year-old Cassidy “Sid” Murphy was a cheerleader (at the bottom of the pyramid, but still…), a straight-A student, and a member of a solid trio of best friends. When she ends up on a ski lift next to handsome local college boy, Dax Windsor, she’s thrilled; but Dax takes everything from Sid—including a lock of her perfect red curls—and she can’t remember any of it.

Back home and unable to relate to her old friends, Sid drops her college prep classes and takes up residence in the A/V room with only Corey “The Living Stoner” Livingston for company. But as she gets to know Corey (slacker, baker, total dreamboat), Sid finds someone who truly makes her happy. Now, if she can just shake the nightmares and those few extra pounds, everything will be perfect… or so she thinks.

Witty and poignant, Colleen Clayton’s stunning debut is a story about moving on after the unthinkable happens.

 

 

——

 

This book had me hooked almost from page one. It reminds me a lot of Speak, but at the same time is very different. I loved the main character, Sid. She was far from perfect but was really easy to connect to. I ached alongside her and felt my heart warm when good things happened to her. She’s also got a lot of Irish in her, which I can also relate to as my great-grandparents immigrated from Ireland and we still observe several of the traditions.

The topic is handled well throughout the book though I’m undecided on whether or not I like how the secret gets told. It seemed a bit rushed toward the end.

I also really enjoyed the side characters–Sid’s mom, little brother, friends, and lovable dog, Ronan. The love interest won my heart over, though in a lot of ways he’s kind of too perfect. Too understanding. Or maybe guys like this are just extremely rare?

Anyway, the romance melted my heart. The story was good enough without the romance, but very hard to put down once it was added to the story. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that I’ve had trouble putting down.

Is the book perfect? No. But when I encounter books with great characters, emotion that grabs my heart, an interesting story, a swoon-worthy romance, and good writing, it’s hard to pick out the flaws. Definitely looking into seeing if Colleen Clayton has any other books. If not, she should. And I’d really, really love to hear more about Sid, Corey, and the rest of the characters. Definitely recommend!

 

 

 

5stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jncname

Book Review–The Anti-Prom by Abby McDonald

brotw

 

This is the 31st book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

The Anti-Prom by Abby McDonald
Published March 8th 2011 by Candlewick Press

Three unlikely allies team up for a night of rebellion, romance, and revenge in a high-stakes dramedy from acclaimed young author Abby McDonald.

They’ve spent years at the same high school without speaking a word to one another, but that’s all about to change. Popular Bliss was having the perfect prom until she found her BFF and boyfriend making out in the back of a limo. Bad girl Jolene wouldn’t be caught dead at the prom, yet here she is, trussed up in pink ruffles, risking her reputation for some guy – some guy who is forty minutes late. And shy, studious, über-planner Meg never counted on her date’s standing her up and leaving her idling in the parking lot outside the prom. Get ready for The Anti-Prom, Abby McDonald’s hilarious, heart-tugging tale about three girls and one unforgettable prom night.

 

——

 

I wasn’t expecting to like this one as much as I did. Especially after reading the first chapter, which is from Bliss’ POV. While I felt bad for her, I also didn’t really like her too well. But then I met the other two characters, Jolene and Meg, and it started to get better.

Meg is my favorite of the three girls simply because I could relate much better to her. Next I liked Jolene, who was interesting, sassy, and had a big chip on her shoulder. Bliss is my least favorite but I ended up liking her much better toward the end.

This is a fun read with a scavenger-hunt like feel. It’s always impressive to find a book that only takes place within a day or two, and this one did a great job. The plot was fun and fresh. But the girls also had some issues so there was also some emotion to what would have otherwise simply been a “fluff” read.

The romances were really cute, too. At least the two that worked out, anyway. Especially Scott.

If you’re looking for a fun read involving prom, revenge, unlikely girls becoming friends, and a night of wild and possibly illegal activities, this is the book for you. I’d love to see what happens to the girls after the night is over.

 

4halfstars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jncname

Camp NaNo Update (Day 16)

2014-Participant-Facebook-Cover

 

 

Hey guys. Apologies for the lack of posts. I have been busy writing as well as feeling under the weather. Today is the 16th day of Camp NaNoWriMo–which means we are over halfway through!. I am currently at 30,801 words. I have 19,199 words and 14 days left. I went 3 days without writing due to not feeling well, but got back into it tonight. I’m still motivated to write when I feel well so I take that as a good sign!

The novel itself is going pretty well, though I’m going to have to use my extended ending to get in my word count. That could be really fun, though, and if I don’t like it, I can always beef up the beginning more and end it elsewhere in the re-write.

How is Camp NaNoWriMo going for you? Are you enjoying your story? I hope so!

 

 

jncname

Book Review–It’s Not the End of the World by Judy Blume

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This is the 30th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

It’s Not the End of the World by Judy Blume
Published 1972

I want a mother and a father and I want them to live together-right here-in this house!

Karen Newman can’t believe it when her father moves out.  How could her parents do this?  Don’t they know they belong together?  Somehow Karen has to get her mom and dad to talk to each other face-to-face.  Maybe then they’ll realize divorce is a mistake.  But can she think of a plan soon-and one that works?

 

——

A good middle-grade book for kids who may have parents who are divorcing or separating. While my parents divorced when I was too young to remember, this book was easy to relate to because sometimes there are a lot of questions and what-ifs involved with this situation. It seems more difficult for kids whose parents separate when they are older than it is for those of us whose parents did so earlier.

While not aimed at my audience, I still found myself enjoying this. I even got a bit angry with Karen’s father during one scene so it was easy to get attached to the characters. Definitely recommended for middle-grade/pre-teens.

 

 

3stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jncname

Book Review–The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

brotw

 

This is the 29th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Published June 1st 1994 by Warner Books

 

The five Lisbon sisters are brought up in a strict household, and when the youngest kills herself, the oppression of the remaining sisters intensifies. As Therese, Mary, Bonnie and Lux are pulled deeper into isolation by their domineering mother, a group of neighborhood boys become obsessed with liberating the sisters. But what the boys don’t know is, the Lisbon girls are beyond saving.

 

——

I’m not quite sure how to feel about this one. I believe I felt the same about the movie when I watched it a few years ago, though I don’t remember most of the details. However, this was a book that I found hard to put down. While I didn’t love it, nor necessarily “like” it, I also felt compelled to keep reading. I figure that has to count for something.

This book is strange but definitely has that haunting quality to it. The story itself is tragic and made me wonder about the Lisbon girls just as much as the boy(s) telling the story. The writing was very good, though tended to get lengthy in description at times. The author did a great job at bringing the story and setting to life with his words, though.

I felt terrible for the girls–and at times for the boys–but at the same time everyone is kept at a safe distance so it’s hard to get too attached to any of them. For some reason I found myself feeling the worst for Mary out of the girls (after Cecilia, of course). The worst thing about this book is all the questions I had while reading it, especially once it had ended. Questions that will never be answered.

Definitely worth a read, though the reviews for this one seem to be a love or hate scenario. Probably will never read this again, but I’ll definitely have to see if the author has written anything else. Color me intrigued.

 

3stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jncname

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