Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell

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Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fluffy

Published: November 2, 2018

Pages: 144

My Rating: ★★★★★

 

This book is actually two short stories by Rainbow Rowell, the first is called Midnights and the second is Kindred Spirits. I will review each separately because really, they don’t go together at all really… they are very separate stories. But at the end of this review I will briefly consider the book as a whole.

Midnights is the story of Noel and Mags, who meet at the same New Year’s Eve party every year and fall a little more in love each time . . .

The first story is a story of two teenagers who go to the same New Year’s Eve party every year, and we are given little snippets of every year’s party and see the pair grow closer and closer and eventually fall in love.

The story is very sweet and I appreciate that it quite realistically follows a teenager’s growth and development over the years. These characters are markedly different each year and you can see in a very small space of time how they are growing and developing. I think that is really impressive to do in such a small time frame.

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It is undoubtedly cute and I really enjoyed it. It is however, highly predictable. There is nothing that catches you by surprise here, nothing groundbreaking and nothing of particular note. On the flip side I don’t find anything particularly objectionable either.

Honestly though, I don’t think stories have to be new or overly original to be enjoyable. Sometimes predictable is okay because you bought it expecting a certain thing, so to have that expectation met is a good thing in some cases. Where it would be bad is if that predictability made it boring. Which this is not.

So its a perfectly lovely story.

Kindred Spirits is about Elena, who decides to queue to see the new Star Wars movie and meets Gabe, a fellow fan.

Kindred Spirits was a much more interesting story from my perspective. Though a lot less sappy and fluffy it was a lot more original and predictable (which again is either a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it).

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The story is about Star Wars fans. Plain and simple.

They are waiting in line to see the new Star Wars movie, three days early, in the modern day, when people just book their tickets online rather than sleeping on the street.

Its a pretty cute and quirky story, though I think it has a lot more emotional depth than the previous one. For one thing, there is a great exploration into what Star Wars means to these characters, which was really interesting. It was cool to see how these three characters, all of whom showed up in the same place for the same thing could have such different motivations. It was a really sweet story of how fandoms can and do unite people and are a great way to make friends. I really enjoyed it.

 

As for the book as a whole, I don’t get it. I really don’t. The stories were sweet and cute and all that and thats lovely, but why?

This book is literally less than 150 pages (with many pages being just an illustration) and there is no connecting theme between them (festive stories felt like a really massive reach for a linking theme). I feel like they should have been put in a bigger anthology collection (Midnights already was in a previous collection) or have been published online or something as a cheaper ebook. This book is priced like a regular book, a full length novel, which just feels off to me. There is something inherently uncomfortable to me about charging $20 (as it is in Australia for the paperback) for two stories which are about 50 pages each (give or take). Especially when they’re clearly thrown together for no reason. As I mentioned, I do really like the stories, but I just feel weird about the book itself.

That being said, it is overall, very cute. I liked that the book was illustrated and I think the cover and overall presentation of the book is bang on.

I also really liked how the teenagers in this book actually seemed like real teenagers! There is such a huge tendency in YA to write teenagers who seem deep by writing them like adults. These characters felt young and awkward and wholly teenaged. Kudos Rainbow, you did that right.

Is this a deep and meaningful, life changing type book. No. Not at all.

Is it even particularly memorable? No, not really.

Is it original? Also no.

But is it a sweet, feel good story that (if you got from a library or have a lot of money to spend on books) is well worth giving a read and having a bit of a touchy feeley moment with. Absolutely!

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Me as a Writer Tag

 

What do you write?

I write whatever interests me. I read a pretty wide array of genres and I hope to write just as widely. My first attempt of writing was a YA fantasy, I also write fanfiction and am in the process of planning a historical romance.

What do you mostly write about?

People.

I am a very character driven reader and I am endlessly fascinated in how people behave in different circumstances, most of my story ideas start with a simple thought of ‘what would someone do in this situation’ and I go from there.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

I love writing as a creative outlet. Its a way for me to keep my imagination alive and I like having something else that I’m working on outside of work. Beyond that I am a big reader, I get a lot of joy from reading, and there’s something really appealing about potentially having a chance to give that joy to someone else one day. I just really enjoy it.

What/Who inspired you to start/keep writing?

Reading inspired me to start writing 100%.

I am not one of those people who has always wanted to be a writer, it actually started when I got into the book blogging community. The idea of actually producing a book of my own came to me pretty slowly, first as a ‘huh that would be a cool thing to do, if you were a good enough writer’ to ‘I could learn to be a good writer and maybe start putting stuff online and write for fun’ to ‘I might want to be a writer one day’ to ‘I’m going to start actively working towards being a published author’.

It was a slow process but I think its something that has ended up making a lot of sense to me. I am nowhere near being a published writer, but I am really excited about the opportunity to work towards that.

Who’s your favorite character you’ve made up?

I don’t even know. Thats such a difficult question. I love a bunch of my characters for a bunch of different reasons.

I even have favourite characters of my own that I haven’t even written yet.

When did you start writing?

I started writing about 3 years ago. Though as a kid I would write out story ideas that I didn’t actually try and compose into anything. I had notebooks full of dot pointed stories and little fragments of ideas but I never felt confident enough that I even could write them fully if I wanted to.

First story you wrote?

My first story I wrote was my first attempt at a novel, The Undefined which I wrote in my second and third years of uni.

Favorite story you wrote?

I think my favourite piece of writing is always the one I am most currently working on. Writing is a skill, so naturally it improves with practice. So every time I start something new, I’ve been writing longer and more and so my skills are better than they were the last time. So I always feel like what I’m working on now is the best I’ve written so far because… well, it is.

HOWEVER

That doesn’t mean that I have a favourite story of mine necessarily. The plots of the stories I’ve written I love equally, they’re all very important to me and I still get really excited by them.

Do you have a writing schedule? Like, do you write every day or just when you feel like it?

I write a chapter a week (roughly 3000 words) I will try and write during my commutes, but if theres a day I can’t be bothered or don’t write or whatever, thats okay, as long as I meet the weekly goal. I need some flexibility in my schedule (and to be honest, I think any creative work has to be a bit flexible because inspiration can be really fickle sometimes)

If I’m doing a writing challenge, such as Nanowrimo, then I will do more.

Do you want to be published?

Absolutely.

I know its not the be all and end all and plenty of authors do really well with self publishing but I don’t see that I can do the necessary marketing and editing on my own for self publishing and I just really want that validation of seeing my own novel in a bookshop.

I know its not the only only option or even necessarily the best option but I think its the one I want to go with someday.

If you’re a writer, and you want to do this tag, please do so and tag me so I can read your answers. Thanks for reading.

Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Genre: YA, Contemporary, LGBT+, Romance

Published: April 2015

Pages: 303

My Rating: ★★★★★

My Thoughts

This book is actually the first book I ever listened to in audiobook form!

I loved it!! I really really enjoyed this book and gave it a full 5 star rating, so allow me to go into all the reasons that this book is wonderful!

Reason number one: Simon Spier. Oh my goodness he’s just a wonderful character and I adore him to pieces. Simon is the narrator of the story and when the narrator of any story is an adorable cinnamon roll of a character I get very happy. I absolutely adore him. He’s witty, sassy, funny and just such a pure character. There is something so amazingly earnest about him and I honestly just think he’s amazing.

That being said. Unfortunately I had read Carry On by Rainbow Rowell first, and I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this before but Simon Snow and Simon Spier are the same character. You know, except with Spier not having magic… or a tail. Otherwise they are VERY similar and it fully felt like character deja vu for me. Now, Carry On came out last year (2017) and this book came out in 2015, so if there was copying going on it wasn’t from Albertalli’s side. It was a really unfortunate thing though as a reader. But I obviously haven’t deducted any points for that because that would be horribly unfair.

Reason number two that this book is amazing: Blue! In a way Blue is the second main character in the book, though you don’t know who he is for the majority of the book. I totally spent the whole book trying to guess who Blue was (along with Simon) and I was so surprised by his reveal! I was really pleased with that since I often find these surprise endings quite predictable. Blue is a complete darling and I loved him just as much as Simon.

Reason number three: The background characters! Now, I am not a big fan of two of the major background characters, Abby and Nick. Abby I don’t like just because I’ve never really been a fan of those ‘perfect girl’ characters. I find them a bit dull. Nick was probably the least rounded out character in the book. But I can forgive that. I loved the character of Leah, I felt like she was very similar to me at that age. She’s not perfect, but a seventeen year old girl pretty much never is and I think the parts of her that are flawed just make her a better character overall. Also Simon’s family are amazing. I love that he was given a really positive home situation. I think as a heterosexual person who never had to deal with the whole ‘coming out’ thing, it drives the point of the book home that coming out is still a big deal and can be really scary even when you have a family that would be supportive. I really appreciated it.

Reason number four: The exploration of friendships! This is a romantic story, for sure, but I think it really drives home that for the most significant relationships in Simon’s life (besides his family) are his friends, and they aren’t less important when he has a crush. His world expands to include his thing with Blue, he doesn’t need to squeeze something else out. I notice that a lot of YA has teenagers fall in love and make each other ‘their whole world’ and its kind of a gross trope when you think about it. Blue and Simon both have their own lives and their own friends who they love like crazy and the dynamics between Simon and all his friends are unique and as diverse as they are. Loved it.

Reason number five: This is a coming of age story where the teenagers act and sound like teenagers. Real ones. I got very used to John Green style teenagers who talk like adults and I love love love how realistic these kids are. They aren’t perfect, none of them, but they feel so real because of it. I think thats what makes readers so invested in this story. You really get the feeling that these are people not just characters. That distinction comes across beautifully in this book.

I will absolutely be rereading this book one day, which I don’t say often! But I am very curious about how this book would feel if I re read it knowing who Blue is.

I’m also tempted to do a book to movie comparison post soon since I haven’t seen the movie yet (I wanted to read the book first) would anyone be interested in that?

I am so glad I finally got around to reading this. It was beautiful, adorable and unputdownable and I highly recommend that anyone who has been wanting to read this for a while now should just take the plunge and read it. You’re going to love it, I can almost guarantee it!

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An old school Tumblr tag

I do a lot of tag posts on the blog here and recently I went on Tumblr looking for some old stuff (I haven’t used Tumblr in like, 3 years) and stumbled upon one of the old school Tumblr Tags. I remember my friends and I filling one of these out once every couple of days (they got varying different levels of intense with the questions) and I figured it might be fun to post a good old fashioned Tumblr Tag here. Its a simple little get to know me style questionnaire and if you’re interested feel free to do it yourself!

RULE: BOLD the statements that are true.

APPEARANCE – I am 5’7 or taller – I wear glasses – I have at least one tattoo – I have at least one piercing – I have blonde hair – I have brown eyes – I have short hair – My abs are at least somewhat defined – I have or had braces

PERSONALITY – I love meeting new people – People tell me I am funny – Helping others with their problems is a big priority of mine – I enjoy physical challenges – I enjoy mental challenges – I am playfully rude to people I know – I started saying something ironically and now I can’t stop saying itThere is something I would change about my personality

ABILITY – I can sing well – I can play an instrument – I can do over 30 pushups without stopping – I am a fast runner – I can draw well (or at least I used to) – I have a good memory – I am good at doing math in my head – I can hold my breath underwater for over a minute – I have beaten at least 2 people arm wrestling – I can make at least 3 recipes from scratchI know how to throw a proper punch

HOBBIES – I enjoy sports – I’m on a sports team at my school or somewhere else – I’m in an orchestra or choir at my school or somewhere else – I have learned a new song in the past week – I exercise at least once a weekI have gone for runs at least once a week in warmer monthsI have drawn something in the past monthI enjoy writingFandoms are my #1 priority – I do some form of martial arts

EXPERIENCES – I have had my first kissI have had alcohol – I have scored a winning point in a sport – I have watched an entire TV series in one sitting– I have been at an overnight event – I have been in a taxi – I have been in the hospital or ER in the past year – I have beaten a video game in one day – I have visited another countryI have been to one of my favorite band’s/artist’s concerts

MY LIFE – I have one person that I consider to be my best friend – I live close to my school/work – My parents are still togetherI have at least one sibling – I live in the United States – There is snow where I live right now – I have hung out with a friend in the past month – I have a smart phone – I own at least 15 CDs – I share my room with someone

RELATIONSHIPS – I am in a relationship – I have a crush on a celebrity – I have a crush on someone I know – I’ve been in at least 3 relationships – I have never been in a relationship – I have admitted my feelings to my crush – I get crushes easily – I have had a crush for over a year – I have been in a relationship for over a yearI have had feelings for a friend

RANDOM – I have break-danced – I know a person named Jamie – I have had a teacher whose name is hard to pronounceI have dyed my hairI’m listening to a song on repeat right now – I have punched someone in the past week – I know someone who has gone to jail – I have broken a bone – I have eaten a waffle today – I speak at least two languagesI have made a new friend in the past year

Blog Changes!

Hello all!

In my last post I talked about how my blog was going to be undergoing some changes in the upcoming months while I try to adjust to working full time (though I was technically a full time student at uni I only had about 12 hours a week of classes, so I am a lot more used to having a much more flexible schedule) fitting in reading, writing, working out and blogging is becoming tricky. I have no desire to give up my blog but I am very aware that blogging the way I have been won’t really be possible anymore. In my last post I didn’t know what the changes to this blog were going to look like, but now I have had a bit of time to think it over and I wanted to let you know where I am thinking of taking this blog so that, if it isn’t to your tastes you aren’t horribly taken by surprise or anything.

This blog will unlikely remain strictly book focused. The thing is, the more niche your blog is, the more specific your content is (obviously) which means you need a lot to say on that topic and a lot of time to find stuff to say. So with a book blog you really do need to read a lot. Generally I read about a book or two in a week, but I don’t know if that will be sustainable.

Naturally I will still be doing book reviews but they won’t be regularly scheduled necessarily, they will most likely be scheduled for whenever I have finished a book. That simple.

I will do tag posts and things like that, but not to a time schedule.

I also want to do posts talking about other things that interest me. And doing videos.

I am aware that by drifting away from a strictly book related blog I might lose a few followers and thats okay.

But I also hope that by making this a bit more general and a bit more open it will start to feel a lot more human and real.

So lets see how this goes.

Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey

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Synopsis

Shy aspiring artist Imogene Chively has just had a successful Season in London, complete with a suitor of her father’s approval. Imogene is ambivalent about the young gentleman until he comes to visit her at the Chively estate with his younger brother in tow. When her interest is piqued, however, it is for the wrong brother.

Charming Ben Steeple has a secret: despite being an architectural apprentice, he has no drawing aptitude. When Imogene offers to teach him, Ben is soon smitten by the young lady he considers his brother’s intended.

But hiding their true feelings becomes the least of their problems when, after a series of “accidents,” it becomes apparent that someone means Ben harm. And as their affection for each other grows—despite their efforts to remain just friends—so does the danger. . .

(Description taken from goodreads)

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Romance

Published: April 17, 2018

Pages: 336

My Rating: ★★★★

 

My Thoughts

I am a big fan of Cindy Anstey’s writing, and of Regency era romances in general. There’s something so charming and easy about the genre that it makes reading them a really relaxing way to spend your time. Whenever I am in a reading slump I find Regency romances are the easiest way to get me out again. So I did know going in that this was going to be a bit of a slam dunk in terms of my enjoyment of it.

This book was so cute. As are all of Cindy Anstey’s books, I really liked it and found the story really engaging.

The main character Imogene is being prepared to get engaged to Ernest Steeple who is a perfectly lovely character, but as is often the case with these books, the very lovely man who is the ‘love interest’ in the beginning rarely sticks around to the end (though can you call them a love interest when its the Regency period and she has very little real choice in the matter?). Ernest arrives to visit Imogene with his brother (the much more attractive) Benjamin. Benjamin is our male lead and the eventual love interest for realises (that doesn’t count as a spoiler, its in the description).  Benjamin isn’t that much more physically attractive than Earnest, but he has a lot more in common with Imogene, and as the second son, he has a lot less pressure on his shoulders making him a lot more laid back and easy going. Both Imogene and her best friend Emily notice the younger brother and their stay with Imogene’s family becomes very fraught with romantic intrigue (as it does).

Unfortunately, as Imogene and the gang get closer and learn more about each other, suspicious accidents keep happening around Benjamin. No one seems to think much of it except our lovely heroine, who is convinced that someone is after him. Thus begins the mystery!

Honestly these characters were so lovely and I really think Cindy Anstey has a wonderful knack for writing really excellent characters in a way that captures people’s imaginations and actually come alive off the page. I didn’t necessarily like all the characters, Imogene’s brothers were a bit annoying, but I felt like all the characters you didn’t like weren’t meant to be likeable, and all the characters that were written as the heroes of the story actually felt that way. My only issue with the characterisation is that I did think that maybe Emily was a bit too… useless… in order to make Imogene look like the really fabulous one of the pair. This happens a lot though in books, especially romances. When the main character is meant to be ahead of her time and really fantastic, the supporting character is often made a bit bland by comparison. But then, maybe in rural England in the 1800s there just wasn’t a lot of choice for mates. I don’t know.

In terms of romantic leads, I really liked Benjamin and Imogene together, I felt like they had great chemistry together and I really loved the way they interacted with each other. Gold stars.

Then comes the mystery element, the sabotage part that is happening along side the suitors. I’ll admit it added an extra element to the story that I think really helped to turn it into something new and different from what we’ve seen from this genre before and I was surprised by the reveal of who was the culprit. I just felt like it was a bit of a tack on… something about it didn’t quite fit with the main part of the plot… I don’t know it just came off a little awkward.

Overall though I think its pretty clear that I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I highly recommend it.

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Life Lately: July

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Oh boy this has been a big month.

Probably the most intensive month this year so far. It has been hectic, which means there might be some changes coming to my blog soon. But I’ll get to that soon.

This month my boyfriend and I celebrated four years together. My parents went away to Europe for a month. I got a job after months of unemployment. I started bullet journaling again. I discovered audiobooks and have realised that I really like them.

It doesn’t sound like a lot that way, but honestly starting full time work after doing essentially nothing for a few months has been bizarre and has totally changed how much time I have in the day. So I am going to be having to really think about what I’m doing blog wise. The first thing that might be affected is that I might not be able to read and review a book a week. Blogging takes a lot of time, so does reading, and so does writing.

So honestly, right now I’m just taking some time to think things through. I have a lot of competing demands right now and I don’t want to give anything up, but I do need a bit of time to figure out how I’m going to do all the things I want to do.

So please bare with me everyone I promise I’m not abandoning this blog, and there is a small chance you won’t even notice that I’m reshaping and revaluating things.

We will see how this goes.