Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Rating: 3/5 stars
“Neal didn’t take Georgie’s breath away. Maybe the opposite. But that was okay–that was really good, actually, to be near someone who filled your lungs with air.”
Georgie McCool is a comedy television writer with a marriage she knows is falling apart. Her husband, Neal, never says that he’s unhappy but certainly never acts like the college junior he was when Georgie first met him. She misses those days before everything went downhill, before her job took off and she spent more and more time at the office. Georgie finds herself with a magic phone, the yellow landline phone in her old room, that can talk to the old Neal from when they first started dating. Georgie has to figure out if this is her chance to fix things with Neal or end the relationship before they even get married.
Like the last Rainbow Rowell book that I reviews (Attachments), this book was just okay. The plot was fairly interesting, but the writing wasn’t anything spectacular. I usually tab quotes that I liked and stood out to me while I read, but I left Landline without any sticky tabs. In fact, I got the quotation at the beginning of this review by Googling “Landline quotes”. It seems like almost everyone excepts for me absolutely adores Rainbow Rowell. I don’t really see the hype.
This is a good, light book for someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to read. It was easy to skim some chapters, as a lot of the dialogue wasn’t crucial to the main plot. I did think that the flashbacks to Georgie and Neal first meeting and dating in college were cute, but the novel as a whole was a little bland. I think my problem with Rowell’s writing style is that it’s very young adult-like. I know she has written best-selling young adult novels and I think she has a hard time crossing over to the adult genre. Maybe if I read one of her YA novels I will appreciate her writing more.
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Rating: 5/5 stars
“When I feel his mouth upon my wrist, I flinch. ‘Now, now’ he says. ‘Be good for a moment. Excuse my whiskers. Imagine my mouth hers.'”
Sue is an orphan living in the home of Mrs. Sucksby, a petty thief of watches, purses, and children. Although Mrs. Sucksby treats her well, Sue gets sent off to be a maid to the lady Miss Lilly. She becomes part of an elaborate scheme of the orphanage with a plan to steal Miss Lilly’s fortune. As Sue becomes more comfortable serving, bathing, and feeding Miss Lilly, the two young women find themselves struggling to be truthful with one another.
To be honest, I prioritized this book on my TBR because one Goodreads review said “lesbian Dickens!”. I wish I had coined the phrase first because it certainly fits this book. This was such a lovely and captivating story and the writing is absolutely beautiful. Sarah Waters leaves out no detail when describing Miss Lilly’s extravagant mansion, but does so without boring the reader.
I felt like I was slowly becoming one of Sue’s close friends throughout this book. I was angry when she was wronged and was giddy when she was fighting her oppressors. Throughout my time as a reader I have yet to come across another character like Sue (and doubt I’ll find one soon). Although the book was not told entirely from her POV, her character development had the most depth and thus she became easy to love.
I’m looking forward to reading more books by Sarah Waters (perhaps Tipping the Velvet next?).
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
Rating: 5/5 stars
“I tried so hard to think– but there was only one word on my mind and that word was ‘Annie'”
Liza Winthrop is a high school senior busy with student council, college applications, and attending an extremely Catholic school. While visiting a museum, she runs into a girl, Annie, who completely turns her life around. Annie shares her world, a low-income town and a room full of flowers, while Liza shares hers, a love for architecture and a caring younger brother. These two girls become inseparable and somewhere along the way find themselves with deeper feelings for each other.
I cannot express how important this book is. This is the book to read for adolescent girls trying to discover their sexualities. The story of Liza and Annie is so touching and real that it can really speak to young adults experiencing the same feelings, questions, and confusion. Every time I hear of a girl struggling to come to terms with her sexuality, I just want to shove this book in her face and say “it’s okay! Stop beating yourself up for something you have no control over”.
Not only is this an important LGBT novel, but it’s such a cute story. It’s a story about two people discovering what it means to love someone and seeing how powerful that emotion can be. Annie on My Mind may be about two girls, but has nothing to do with the fact that it’s like every other novel written about teenagers falling in love. I loved everything about this book and found myself in a good mood every time I picked it up.
Room by Emma Donohgue
Rating: 3.4/5 stars
Jack has just turned 5 years old, and his world consists of an 11×11 foot room. This doesn’t bother him much because he knows nothing of the outside world. Now that he’s 5, Ma begins to tell Jack that grass, ice cream, and other kids actually exist on the other side of Wall and Roof and not just in the TV. Jack and Ma create a plan to escape Room, but it’s extremely risky. If they were able to escape, how would Jack cope with being outside in the fresh air, with other people for the first time?
This book was just okay. There was nothing really special about it and I honestly don’t understand what all the hype is around it. I didn’t feel attached to any of the characters, so I was really ambivalent to any of the big events that happened to Ma or Jack. There were horrible, traumatic, and sad things that occurred throughout the book, but I didn’t have that emotional attachment to care about them enough.
I think the problem with Room is that its entirely narrated by a five year old kid. This, obviously, makes his world very bias. The book would have been so much deeper if it had switched between Ma and Jacks POVs. By sticking only to Jack’s POV, it’s almost like Donoghue was taking the easy road. Ma could have been such a complex character, but we merely got a glimpse into how she was feeling.
I understand that this is a great bookclub book– there are a lot of controversial issues to discuss. Despite this, as a pleasure read, I’m disappointed with it. I was really hoping for better.
A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
“This is going to be another one of those stories about how she gazed at him adoringly while he stared out the window or something. That’s how a lot of the Gabe stories go these days.”
Lea and Gabe are both incoming freshmen at the same college. They’re sort of “lost souls”, living their own separate lives that have absolutely nothing to do with each other, until they start “flirting” in creative writing class. Lea and Gabe are completely oblivious to the fact that they’re perfect for each other, but that doesn’t their separate friend groups from constantly trying to set them up together.
This book was cute. It was definitely very cute and very-perfect-couple-heavily-flirting type of deal. It was fun at first, but things got a little too predictable towards the end. I felt like a lot of the same ideas and conversations were happening over and over again. Lea and Gabe ALMOST got together so many times. It was frustratingly adorable at first, but then it got old.
A Little Something Different was a very quick and light read. It was a good book, but a good book for the right time. I read this in the midst of a reading slump, and its cheer definitely brought me out of that slump. So, if you’re looking for a fast read that’ll leave you feeling happy, this is it.
It’s the beginning of a new year, and I already have a long list of books I definitely want to tackle soon. I thought I’d share the top 5 books off of that list and link each book to Goodreads. It’s a mix of different genres!
1. Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger – (Fiction) The Catcher in the Rye is my all time favorite novel. I’ve enjoyed every Salinger book I’ve read…which I think is every book except for Nine Stories.
2. Adulthood Rites by Octavia Butler‘- (Science Fiction) This is the second book of the Xenogenesis trilogy. I read the first book last month and I’m, unfortunately, still waiting for the second and third books to arrive (hurry up Amazon)!
3. At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O’Niell – (LGBT Historical Fiction)- I try to read a variety of LGBT books every year. This book has been on my list for a while. It’s a coming of age story featuring two boys who develop feelings for each other. I know I’m going to love it, so I’m excited to finally pick it up.
4. My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni– (Myster/Thriller) I haven’t read a good thriller in a while, so I’m hoping this will do the trick. I’m glad no one has added this to a YA shelf, because I honestly can’t stand YA thrillers. Anyway, I have high hopes for this one as well.
5. The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber– (Science Fiction/Fantasy??) This book has been placed in so many different genres, which is what interests me so much. It has mixed reviews, but the confusion over genre intrigues me. I’m really not sure what to expect.
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Rating: 4/5 stars
Lincoln is the IT guy, or “internet security officer”, for The Courier. His job is to read through the company’s flagged emails–the ones with inappropriate language or jokes. He begins reading email threads between two of the writers, Beth and Jennifer, and can’t seem to stop. Lincoln finds himself falling in love with Beth via snooping around on her email conversations. Lincoln ultimately has to choose between telling Beth about his actions and losing his job, or letting her go.
This book was funny and an all-around enjoyable read. I usually begin my reviews with a nice quotation from the book that spoke to me, personally, but I couldn’t really find one from Attachments. Though, I don’t believe that Rowell meant for this book to resonate deeply with people. My guess is that she wanted this to be a fun read, which it was.
There wasn’t really anything that made this book special. It was a light and quick read that left me satisfied at the end. The events were very unbelievable, but again, I don’t think that was Rowell’s point. She did a great job using unique points of view (Lincoln’s narrative and the email conversations between Beth and Jennifer) to engage the reader without making things confusing.
I found myself laughing at the absurdity of Lincoln’s life, but also at the jokes within the text. Beth and Jennifer are funny people, and their email thread reflects it. I was in a reading slump before I picked this book up, and it certainly brought me out of that slump.
After hearing so many great things about Rainbow Rowell, I finally caved in and got this book. I’m so glad I did! I look forward to reading more of her work.