Book Review: My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories Edited by Stephanie Perkins

MTLGTMTitle: My True Love Gave To Me

Authors: Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt De La Pena, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor, and Kiersten White

Publication date: October 14, 2014

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Pages: 321

Source: Review copy from publisher (Thank you, Macmillan!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked / National Book Store

Synopsis: If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

Christmas is my favorite holiday ever and to get in a festive mood early, I read My True Love Gave To Me, an anthology composed of twelve holiday stories written by highly acclaimed authors in the YA world. Dear readers, this book is a sweet Christmas treat as it infuses you with the excitement and joy that the holiday season brings. I haven’t reviewed a short story collection before so I have no idea how to go about it. I thought of breaking down my thoughts into twelve points according to the order of stories for a perceptive review, instead of a general one for the whole book.

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell: A story that is simple, witty, and filled with love! Reading it was like eating the yummiest Chex mix in the world. Rainbow Rowell writes simple realities with a bang, making little moments big, magical, and ever so swoon-worthy. Infinite hearts for Midnights! 🙂

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link: Personally, this one is a bit weird and dragging. I didn’t understand its concept nor identify with the characters. Also, there was a strange paranormal or fantasy thing going on that made the story confusing. It’s unfortunate to say that this story didn’t impress me. I’m sorry!

Angels in the Snow by Matt De La Pena: Feel-good with a little emotional punch. I like how it talked about family, being brave to face your problems, and being true to yourself. It’s a story that you’d want to read more of.

Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han: An unusual yet amusing story that has a cute concept! Although I found the ending bittersweet, I’d say it is really something that readers would enjoy.

It’s A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins: This story charmed its way to my heart! It made me feel the extreme happy flutters and the spark that flickers inside you when you’ve made a connection with someone special. I swooned and smiled the whole time I was reading! If this story were a full-length novel, it would definitely receive a 5-star rating from me. 🙂

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan: A bit introspective, raw, emotional, and funny at times. Surprisingly, for a David Levithan fan like me, it’s not the type of story that I’d like to read during the holidays because of its melancholic ambience. Nevertheless, it’s an honest tale and the writing is beautiful.

Krampuslauf by Holly Black: I like how this story is about believing in greater things. However, what didn’t work for me was the fantasy element. It’s bizarre to the point that it made the story vague, without clues as to why some events happened. I guess I’m really not that of a huge fantasy reader.  

What The Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman: Authentic and really interesting. I love the humor and diversity of characters!

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire: I have never read a Myra McEntire book and this story won my interest to check out the author’s novels. I enjoyed this a lot. It’s light, fun, and such a delight to read!

Welcome To Christmas, CA by Kiersten White: Fantastic, touching, and very memorable. This story is full of hope, love, and swoon-worthy moments that are sweeter than candy canes! Kiersten White brilliantly captured the true spirit of Christmas, which is HAPPINESS—the warm, genuine kind that makes you glow from the inside. It’s the happiness you’d want to infect other people with. Welcome To Christmas, CA is a story that you’ll read over and over again until it’s engraved in your memory. 

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter: I loved this story! It’s about finding home at a time when things are complicated, finding one’s self, and discovering the true meaning of happiness. Heartwarming and worth reading! 

The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer by Laini Taylor: An enchanting, otherworldly story with remarkable writing and creative execution. Although there are some parts where I got lost and couldn’t understand the story, it still drew me in because of its bewitching and mysterious element.

My True Love Gave To Me is a wonderful holiday anthology! Truly, a must-have on your bookshelf!

 

 Rating:

4/5 stars

Book Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

LandlineTitle: Landline

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publication date: July 8, 2014

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 308

Source: Review copy from publisher (Thank you, St. Martin’s Press!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked / National Book Store

Synopsis:

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

Whenever it comes to Rainbow Rowell books, there’s a spark within me that catches fire every time. I couldn’t explain what it is but it feels like I’m set to acquaint with truths of a vulnerable world. Reading a Rainbow Rowell book is not just going through pages of words. It’s experiencing life and its inevitable reality in a fictional setting. It is also meeting people who reflect who you are or people who open your eyes to possibilities you never knew existed. With its attention-grabbing description, Landline became one of my most anticipated 2014 novels. Not only that, it’s by the phenomenal Rainbow Rowell! I know for certain that I wouldn’t go wrong with a book written by her.

Giving readers a glimpse into married life, Landline illustrates the harsh reality of when a couple’s marriage is on the rocks. I’m not married yet (or even in a relationship) but this book contains everything a person could expect in a complicated marital situation. I wouldn’t expound more on this matter to avoid spoilers but here’s what I can say about the story:

Landline is a stark reminder that people are susceptible to being blinded by their desire to fulfill their passions in life. Hence, forgetting about the things that matter most like family and even their self. Does your life revolve on work alone? Sometimes we need to take a step back and ask ourselves, “What is my reason for living?” There are people who love and care for us that we have taken for granted. Just because our family understands our determination to succeed doesn’t mean that everything’s fine that way. They also need us in their life because that’s what living is all about—devoting our time and sharing our life with the people we love. At the end of the day, family always comes first.

Main character Georgie McCool is wonderful. Realistic and vulnerable, readers could identify with her easily. My favorite features in Landline are the flashback scenes of Georgie and her husband (then boyfriend) Neal in college. Those give the novel a fresh YA feel that makes Landline even more entertaining to read. I actually didn’t feel the shift from YA to adult fiction because of that aspect. It was a totally genius idea to take readers to memory lane and relive the youthful and fascinating start of Georgie and Neal’s relationship. Rainbow Rowell’s writing is a winner, as usual—truthful and dynamic in form and essence. She is so amazing particularly in evoking happy, swoony feelings! I look forward to reading her future books!

Beautifully uplifting and legitimately remarkable, Landline is a novel that brims with hope, love, and lasting magic.

Rating:

4.5/5 stars

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

FangirlTitle: Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publication date: September 10, 2013

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Source: Copy provided by the publisher (Thank you, St. Martin’s Press!) / Bought at Fully Booked

Purchase the book:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble Book Depository / Fully Booked / National Bookstore 

Synopsis: 

In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

Fangirl is an extraordinary, funny, and heartwarming story of love, fan fiction, family, and self-discovery. The story’s fresh and exceptional concept sets it apart from other contemporary YA novels I read in 2013. Euphoria vibrated all over my body every time I turned a page. I savored every word of this book, never wanting the story to finish. Rainbow Rowell’s writing is so authentic, honest, smart, and filled with warmth. Her words are alive. Emotions surged from every chapter and carried me away to the land of amazing feels.

The plot is well developed and very engaging. This book thoroughly illustrated what it’s like to be engrossed in a fictional world, and yes, being a fan. My fellow bookworms, you MUST read this book to understand what I’m saying. You have to feel to believe. Reading Fangirl unlocked memories of my grade school days when I wrote fan fiction with my best friend. We both enjoyed writing stories set in the world of the book series we loved. We didn’t want to leave the fictional world and what’s the best way to stay than to write our own stories!

Fangirl may be centered on main character Cath’s love for fan fiction but that’s only the surface. Beneath all the fuzzy feels lie realistic issues that Cath goes through—college life, family problems, social anxiety, and matters of the heart. It’s fascinating how a story can be so much more that what it seems to be. I suppose that’s the magic of reading a Rainbow Rowell book. Readers are surprised in beautiful, unexpected ways.

Cath’s character is so real. Readers are sure to connect with her from the beginning. Although Cath started out as withdrawn and a bit awkward, she evolved into a better version of herself in the course of the story. Moreover, I greatly admire how Cath is such a family-oriented girl. For me, that’s her character’s strongest trait. Her love for her Dad and twin sister, Wren, is precious.

Then there’s Levi, Cath’s love interest. He is an adorable guy who exudes a positive attitude and is very friendly. He is always there for Cath and will do anything for her. Cath and Levi’s romance is charming and genuine. Seeing their friendship blossom into something more is a priceless kind of bliss. My heart melted with Levi’s romantic gestures as well as he and Cath’s swoon-worthy conversations. I have no words. Really, guys. Everything’s just…perfect.

Each of us has a spark inside our being. To make that spark shine brighter, we have to open ourselves to the possibilities around us. Try new things! Be brave to step out of our comfort zone. That’s what this story is about. Once again, Rainbow Rowell crafted a delightful story that certainly altered my perception of a perfect contemporary YA.

Rating:

5/5 stars

Book Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

ELEANOR AND PARKTitle: Eleanor & Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Published: February 26, 2013

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 325

Source: Bought from Fully Booked

Synopsis:

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

*Image and synopsis from Goodreads

My review: 

I’ve always been a fan of contemporary fiction and picking up Eleanor & Park was a good decision. It was the first contemporary YA I read after a long streak of dystopian, paranormal, fantasy, and science fiction. I had a difficult time putting the book down as soon as I started reading. I even brought the book at work because I couldn’t part ways with it! Yeah, I’m clingy like that. 🙂 I would squeeze in a few minutes of reading during break time.

 Eleanor & Park is a remarkable novel about first love. Eleanor and Park are two misfits brought together by music and comic books. As gravity pulls them closer to one another, Eleanor and Park build a world where both of them are the only inhabitants. And in that world, they explore each other’s mysteries and differences.

Awkward and unforgettable firsts as well as issues of insecurity, parental abuse, fitting in, and bullying make up the slide show of events in Eleanor & Park. Readers will be submerged in a vortex of emotions as they journey with Eleanor and Park toward the road of falling in love, self-discovery and acceptance of one’s flaws.

Eleanor and Park bear distinctive qualities that make them who they are. What I like about both characters is that they stay true to themselves no matter what others think of them. The book enlightens readers that imperfection is what makes a person interesting. The flaws of every human being are marks of one’s uniqueness. I’m certain that readers who presently go through a rough time in high school would find light in the story.

Eleanor and Park’s love for each other gave them courage to confront difficulties that cross their path. And because of love, Eleanor and Park realize that things, regardless of how impossible or complicated they may be, are worth fighting for.

I commend the author, Rainbow Rowell, for capturing the essence of high school life amazingly. Her writing is so genuine and natural, drawing emotions and igniting senses that make readers feel alive. Her descriptions explode with radiance and clarity that produce vivid images in the mind. The alternate POVs excellently illustrated the story, giving an eloquent, rich and insightful narration of events. Although the story is written in past tense, every action feels immediate and intimate which I really find astonishing.

Rainbow Rowell breathed life to her characters with so much heart; thus, marvelously infused authenticity and color to a fictional world. Eleanor & Park touched my heart and soul. It is contemporary young adult fiction at its finest. I recommend the book to anyone who wants to experience falling in love for the first time. I definitely cannot wait for Fangirl!

Rating:

5/5 stars