Book Review: Fangirl

To really be a nerd, she’d decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one. – Rainbow Rowell

I am just going to start this review off by saying: if you didn’t like this book, you aren’t going to like my review. I loved this book, and any fault I find in it is so minor. I started this book immediately after finishing Carry On, as I figured it would be a quick read (as all Rainbow Rowell books are) and because our systems were down at work. And because I felt like I was missing the point of Carry On, which I enjoyed, but didn’t love as much as everyone else seemed to be. But man. Let me say this about Rainbow Rowell: she makes some damn relatable characters.

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Fangirl

Rainbow Rowell
Published: 2013

Format: ebook
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Ratingmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md/5 Moose


 

Synopsis

Cather is a college freshman, living a few hours away from home. She has an identical twin sister, Wren, at the same school, but they aren’t roommates. They also have quite polar opposite personalities. Cather is introverted and loves to read and write, while her sister (who, to be fair does love to read and write) prefers to party and have the true college experience.

And Cather is a huge Simon Snow fan. In fact, she’s one of the most famous Simon Snow fan fiction writers. Her sister grew up loving the fandom as well, but seems to have grown out of the fandom.

Cather has to adjust to life without her sister being around constantly, and while living with a surely roommate, Reagan and her constantly around boyfriend Levi. She’s also dealing with being an English major and trying to decide if she has a unique voice, worrying about her eccentric dad, and a potentially cute writer in her writing class.

Characters

Cather – The main protagonist of the book. She’s a quiet, introverted, worrywart who prefers to live in a fictional world rather than the real world. She’s a word loving, glasses wearing, self proclaimed nerd. She avoids awkward situations (i.e. eating protein bars constantly as she doesn’t know where the food hall is and the thought of asking is so anxiety causing.) Her father raised her and Wren by himself mostly, as her mom took off shortly after 9/11.

Wren – Cather’s twin. She’s excited to live the college experience – date guys, go partying, have a separate roommate. She’s majoring in market, just like her dad. She used to co-write fan fiction with Cather, but has left the fandom pretty much behind.

Reagan – Reagan is Cather’s new roommate. She’s an older student – 21? – and has to live in the doors due to her scholarship. She has two jobs and smokes, and legit doesn’t give a care what anyone thinks. While she normally ignores Cather at first, they eventually and begrudgingly become friends.

Levi – Levi is Reagan’s super nice, always smiling, friendly with everyone boyfriend. Even from the moment he meets Cather he seems to ooze kindness and charisma. He spends a good portion of his time in Reagan and Cather’s room.

Nick – Cather meets Nick in her upper level writing class. He’s a cute guy and a decent writer, and Cather and Nick begin a bi-weekly writing/library date after they successfully write an assigned story together.

Simon / Baz – The stars of the Simon Snow series, and the loves of Cather’s life. They star in slasher fan fiction that Cather writes, which is almost as famous as the series itself.

Rants, Raves, and General Thoughts

OKAY. I am going to get my minor complaints out of the way first, before I forget them while I gush over this book. A big part of Cather’s journey is her panicking about whether or not she has a unique voice as a writer, and finding it much easier to live in a world she knows and love. The resolution of this conflict is weak, in comparison to the rest of the book. It’s resolved, sure, and I think the conflict lies back with me and my constant tear between work and relationships.

And to be completely fair to this book, it’s so not a book just about a boy/girl relationship. It’s also about familial relations, the sometimes terrifying thought of having to make friends outside of the first twelve grades, and internal relationships.

Seriously, I, just like I am sure a few of my other girl friends, related way too much to Cather. I am still not a big partier, I hated my roommates at first (and unfortunately, never became good friends with any of my dorm mates). There are parts of me that wish I could do college over again, knowing what I know now. Don’t get me wrong – I made friends, I joined a tennis team my sophomore year, and I got through college (I almost wrote unscathed or just fine, but seriously — my college years were LEGIT rough – not me just being dramatic!)

It’s just… everything. There are too many people. And I don’t fit in. I don’t know how to be. Nothing that I’m good at is the sort of thing that matters there. Being smart doesn’t matter—and being good with words. And when those things do matter, it’s only because people want something from me. Not because they want me.

Oh yeah — and I am a nerd. Or was a nerd, if what Cath says is true (See the quote at the beginning of this.) My fandom was Harry Potter, and through it I made so many friends that I still have today, I got back into writing, I found that it’s okay to be obsessive about fandoms, and even had some new fandoms added.

What I didn’t have was a Levi. Dear lord, where do I find one of him? An outgoing, kind, genuinely nice guy who loves hanging out one-on-one as much as a big party. And I didn’t have a Reagan. (What’s weird is I did at one point live with 3 roommates, and one of them had a boyfriend that essentially lived with us too.) I think this sums up Reagan pretty much:

“I feel sorry for you, and I’m going to be your friend.”
“I don’t want to be your friend,” Cath said as sternly as she could. “I like that we’re not friends.”
“Me, too. I’m sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.”

Oh man. Rowell, you write so well. There is a make out scene in this book, Cather’s first time making out with a guy, and it made me miss the innocence of young love and dating and just making out with a guy you really, really like. It’s so cute and sweet. And the interwoven Simon Snow quotes – both from the “book series” and the fan fiction? Love it.

Final Verdict

Dear Rainbow Rowell,

I am a fan. I am sorry I didn’t start reading your books years ago, and you are officially on my watch list. Your books add such a level of realism that make me yearn for redos and potential what ifs. What I’ve come to learn that I love the most about your books is that they could be considered romantic chick lit books, that’s usually the last thing I focus on. Levi and Cather might be the first couple I’ve loved in your books (though I did enjoy Simon and Baz of course.) I still need to read Eleanor & Park, which I will by the end of the year.

Thank you for reminding me that it’s cool to be a nerd, it’s cool to enjoy and love fan fiction, and that having a balance between the real world and fantasy world is perfectly fine (And oh god guys, there is real Simon/Baz FF. I love it.)

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Book Review: Secondhand Souls

Sometimes it takes you nine years to write a sequel, and it takes the reader nine years to realize they needed a sequel! Secondhand Souls is the sequel to A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore. A Dirty Job  is on my top ten favorite books ever; I even remember the day I found it. The sequel is decent, though like many series, not as good as the original. I’ll try not to spoil it too much, but some minor spoilers to follow. So without further ado…

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Secondhand Souls

by Christopher Moore

Published 2015

Format: eBook
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Humour
Rating: moosemoosemoose 3/5 Moose


Synopsis

Set a year after Charlie Asher has died (to the world – to close friends, he is actually trapped in a the body of a 14 inch meat suit by his Buddhist nun girlfriend Audrey), San Francisco is starting to feel a shift in the balance. Souls are mysteriously disappearing, and it’s not because the Death Merchants are collecting them. Someone or something is stealing them, and the only clue involves the Golden Gate Bridge. The group from A Dirty Job must get together and figure out what’s going on, before the Underworld tries to come topside again.

Characters

THERE ARE SO MANY CHARACTERS. Let me see if I can organize this.

Major Characters

Charlie Asher – A former Death Merchant, beta-male, who is trapped in a 14 inch meat suit with a ten inch dong. Father of Sophie, the big D Death. He is trying to find a human body to move back to.

Minty Fresh – A seven foot tall death merchant. Owns a record store and a failed Pizza/jazz store. Probably the closest thing to a best friend that Charlie has, begrudgingly.

Alphonse Rivera – A newer death merchant and a semi-retired cop. Starts to realize something is wrong in San Fran, especially when the Emperor comes in looking to write down all the information of the dead who haven’t moved on.

Lily – A former goth who worked with Charlie and dated Minty. Had dreams of being a chef, but currently works at a suicide crisis center. She is grumpy and angry, especially since she has nothing magical or special about her.

Audrey- Charlie’s Buddhist nun girlfriend who trapped him in his current meat suit. She is in charge of the Book of the Dead, which is how she creates all the meat people.

Minor Characters

Sophie Asher – Depressingly not a main character, despite being the Big Actual Death at the age of 7. Can kill any living thing by pointing at it and saying “kitty.” She is followed by two hellhounds (goggies) who have gone missing at the beginning of the book.

Jane and Cassie – Jane is Charlie’s sister, and Cassie is her wife. They are Sophie’s legal guardians.

Emperor of San Francisco and his dogs Bummer and Lazarus-

Wiggly Charlie/Bob/Meat People – The group Audrey created to save souls. Wiggly Charlie and Bob are the only ones who can speak.

The Man in Yellow – Also know as Lemon Fresh, who is Minty’s cousin. He’s the avatar for an underworld god. He’s also helping the Morrigan try to get back topside.

Mike – A Golden Gate Bridge painter who can see ghosts.

Rant, Raves, General Thoughts

I am actually not a Christopher Moore fan. I’ve tried a few of his other books, but I haven’t finished any of them but this one and A Dirty Job. Unfortunately, this book seems to fall more in the “why I’m not a Christopher Moore fan” than “YAY CHRISTOPHER MOORE” category. I need to also realize that if a book takes me longer than 4 days to read, I probably don’t like it too much.

I can’t express how much I love Charlie and Sophie, especially Sophie who has been living with Jane and Cassie. For instance, Sophie is currently vegan, which means she eats only chicken nuggets and cheese newts. I will read a third book if it’s about a grown up Sophie (or hell, if Sophie is the main character.) If it had been more about Sophie with such little action going on, I probably would have enjoyed this book so much more. I mean, quotes from Sophie:

A little girl’s voice said, ‘I am become Death, destroyer of worlds!’ Audrey held the phone out for Charlie. ‘It’s for you.'”

“At ‘tooth fairy,’ Sophie popped her head out the door. ‘I will smack that bitch up and take hr bag of quarters! I will not be fucked with!‘”

‘Their names are Death, Disease, War, and Sparkle-Darkle Glitter-tits,’ Sophie said. ‘They’re the four little ponies of the Apocalypse.'”

Yeah, the book would have been better if Sophie had been the main character. It wasn’t terrible, but very slow moving. I listened to a ton of Read It and Weep instead of reading this book, which serious makes me sad. The actual story – who is stealing the ghosts and why – is just very meh and kind of forgotten. I actually had to skim over parts – like the ghosts telling the stories of how they died – because I just didn’t care.

Final Verdict

If you’ve read A Dirty Job  and need to know what happened to Charlie and the gang, read this book. It’s not a terrible continuation, and it doesn’t set up for a third book, though if there’s one about Sophie, I’ll totally read it.

3 Quote Book Tag

Woohoo! An excuse to post! Can I first talk about how excited I am about my move?! It’s coming up — a week and a half. I have a wonderful one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn in a prewar building, and it’s beautiful. I’m looking forward to the 80 minute commute (that’s a day, not one way) where I’ll get to read and/or listen to podcasts! Speaking of, The Black Tapes Podcast has come to an end for Season 1, and TANIS has taken it’s place. I’ll post a review of both soon. And I’m pretty far into Academy Girls…which is a strange book.

Anyways, the FABULOUS Story and Somnomancy (no seriously, if you aren’t following her, you’re missing out!) tagged me in this three day post flurry, which will (hopefully) get me back into posting more regularly. Thank you my dear! I posted my top ten favorite quotes a few weeks ago, but I always have more to share. 

The Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post a quote for 3 consecutive days (1 quote for each day).
  3. Nominate three new bloggers each day.

The Quote

I have always been a reader; I have read at every stage of my life, and there has never been a time when reading was not my greatest joy. And yet I cannot pretend that the reading I have done in my adult years matches in its impact on my soul the reading I did as a child. I still believe in stories. I still forget myself when I am in the middle of a good book. Yet it is not the same. Books are, for me, it must be said, the most important thing; what I cannot forget is that there was a time when they were at once more banal and more essential than that. When I was a child, books were everything. And so there is in me, always, a nostalgic yearning for the lost pleasure of books. It is not a yearning that one ever expects to be fulfilled. – Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale

The Tags

@akindofsinglelady 

@susannevalenti

@jenacidebybibliophile