Friday, March 6, 2015

BR: Landline

by Rainbow Rowell

3 down, 1 to go... anyone have a copy of Attachments?

Summary (goodreads):

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

Maybe that was always beside 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 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?

My Thoughts

Rainbow Rowell is a disgustingly talented writer.

Am I the right demographic for this book? Probably not. I'm not married, for one. I'm not in love, for another. In any other author's hands, these characters would have felt over the top and terribly cheesy to me (I'm cynical like that), but Rowell really sold it. I believed in Georgie McCool and her imperfections and desperation to make things right.

I remember when I met Rainbow Rowell- she was in Canada for her Fangirl book tour, and during the 45 seconds you get to chat with the author as she signs your books, I remember telling her how Eleanor & Park (my favourite read of 2013) made me believe in love. It was real then, and reading Landline was like a reminder of how well Rowell could make these things feel real. There's just something about the turns of phrase that she uses, how it feels so intimate and real- like it's a small story but the stakes are still so high, because this is life beyond a first kiss and a boyfriend. She also writes some incredible dialogue.

I didn't think it was perfect - the story started snagging somewhere around the last third and it just didn't completely click for some reason; I felt that as it was crossing the finish line, it had already lost its momentum.

Reviewers had mentioned that they didn't find Georgie likeable, but I just found her to feel incredibly alive, and with that came the validation of her emotions and actions and difficulties. I kind of liked that the magic phone was never really explained, although it's a bit of a cop-out, it worked within the story. And oh, how I adored Neal and his dimples (I need to learn to have his temperament).

This is really a love story, and as someone who dislikes love stories, I liked this one a whole lot. It's not for everyone though, because it's the type of story that won't always work for everyone. It's not perfect, but it's very different, very well written, and very, very good.


source: library
author website / twitter / tumblr
Angieville's awesome review just because

Monday, March 2, 2015

BR: The Winner's Crime

by Marie Rutkoski
The Winner's Trilogy; book I

The Winner’s Curse was one of those unsuspecting books that really swept me off my feet- I had such a book crush on it, especially since it left me DYING for a sequel.

Summary (goodreads):

**contains SPOILERS for book I!**

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

My Thoughts

So, The Winner’s Crime.


Let's start with the good bits- the best bits- which are the characters. I loved Arin’s character development, The Winner’s Curse is mostly from Kestrel’s point of view, so it was really exciting to get to learn more about Arin. I liked the character traits he embodied this time around that (mostly) couldn’t be seen in book 1, such as his lack of self-preservation, his risky need to push limits. While he was definitely more complex as a character, I found him frustrating as well-- there was a bit too much push-pull (although we can all agree, his situation really isn't ideal).

It was like the book was filled with these maddening moments where readers are teased over and over again, until I stopped feeling that stirring of surprise and longing for something to just happen already. I'm still a fan of Kestrel, though I had some issues with her INABILITY TO JUST GET WITH ARIN ALREADY (wait what? did I say something?). I liked the new characters introduced—the Emperor is a delightfully awful person (although a bit too familiar), Verex seemed sweet, and Tensen was such a great surprise. Also, Kestrel’s dad deserves a sentence too: here you go, General Trajan.

Where the book failed to earn five stars though, is the plot. The pacing was great, but the plot itself just felt messy at times. A mixture of too many things going on (Empire, Herran, Eastern lands), plus the subplots which theoretically ties well into the plot, but were executed poorly (like the trail is set… just awkwardly, but the final reveal is no less satisfying). Like, there’s this whole part with Arin that felt very “good not great”. It definitely falls to sequel-syndrome, in the sense that it feels like a bridge between books 1 and 3, but I’m also a little wary of what book 3 will bring—I think the plot will be a major make or break factor for the final book in the trilogy. It also calls back to how The Winner's Curse (book 1) felt more contained in terms of both setting and plot, and thus felt more tightly wound and better executed.

Writing? Well done, for the most part, although there was still a bit too much tell-not-show.

So overall, I very much enjoyed reading this sequel, mostly because I adore the characters—Kestrel and Arin. Rutkoski did a fine job keeping their character motivations in check, but there were just other aspects of the book that just didn’t hit the right notes.

8/10 – because it was a valiant effort, but not quite perfect. Rutkoski expanded her world and cast, but at the (minor) expense of plot and secondary characters. Kestrel and Arin are lovingly frustrating (THAT ENDING), but hey, I can deal with that. I can’t wait to deal with that.

The Winner's Crime is released March 3, 2015! 

source: e-galley
author website
series website

My mini-review of book one, The Winner's Curse.