Posts Tagged ‘Rainbow Rowell

08
Sep
19

Do you like Fall? Do you like snacks? Do you like being happy? Yes? Then this is the graphic novel for you. CBR11 review 38.

519OHqOUISL._SX352_BO1,204,203,200_This was, without a doubt, the most enjoyable reading experience I’ve had this year. Every single page was a god-damned delight.

Do I need to say more?

OK. Well. This is Rainbow Rowell, so if you love her, you’re going to need to read this. It reminded me a lot of her short story “Midnights,” except that this is about best friends who love Halloween instead of Best Friends who love New Years Eve.

Deja and Josie work at an amazing Pumpkin Patch (honestly, if this is anything like the Patch that Rainbow Rowell says inspired her, I will get on a plane and go to Nebraska as soon as the leaves start to change. I NEED TO GO TO THERE.). Because they are seniors, this is the last year they’ll probably work together, and tonight is their last night.

Josie has had a crush on the cute girl who works in the fudge shop for years, and Deja has convinced him that tonight is THE night, the night when he’s finally going to go an talk to her.

And so the two friends make their way through the Pumpkin Patch, eating delicious (I MEAN, COME ON. THESE SNACKS ARE TOO MUCH.) holiday snacks and trying to find Fudge Girl. And that’s it. But what more do you need, when you are in such good hands?

The story is the literary equivalent to your comfiest hoodie — cozy and warm — and the artwork is fun and bright and totally looks just like fall (don’t worry, Faith Erin Hicks, I didn’t forget you!).

I loved this little book and my only complaint, as I previously mentioned when faintingviolet reviewed this, is that it isn’t longer. I could have read this for days.

 

 

 

 

 

05
Jun
19

Never doubt Rainbow. CBR11 Review 27.

downloadA few weeks ago, while sitting around and browsing Instagram instead of doing whatever I was supposed to be doing, I saw a post from Rainbow Rowell talking about a book coming out soon from an author that she loves, and mentioned Emergency Contact. I hadn’t heard of it before, and Rainbow claimed was  her favorite book of 2018! Rainbow went on and on, talking about how excited she was for the new book and how much she loved EC, and I just said WHAT HOW WHEN and ordered it immediately.

I’m so glad I did. It was just what I needed to fill the Rainbow-sized hole in my life (WAYWARD SON, I’M WAITING FOR YOU).

Penny (that’s short for Penelope) is about to start her freshman year in college in Austin, Texas. She wants to become a writer and can’t wait to move away from high school, her hometown, her boyfriend, and her mother. She has a new roommate, Jude, who immediately wants to wrap Penny up into her life and brings her out for coffee within minutes of her arrival.

They go to a quirky coffee shop near campus, because Jude’s former uncle-by-marriage, Sam, works there. Sam’s mom was married to Jude’s grandfather for a few years when they were kids, but he’s only a few years older than she is.

Sam is struggling. He’s recently dumped, living on a mattress in a tiny room over the coffee shop, and close to broke. He’s too skinny, covered in tattoos, smokes too much, and needs a haircut. And Penny thinks he is beautiful.

When Sam’s ex tells him that she might be pregnant, he goes into a full-on panic. He collapses in the street, freaking out about money and fatherhood, and Penny finds him slumped over in the street and brings him home. And thus becomes his emergency contact.

Sam and Penny text and call each other almost constantly. They become phone friends, and text each other all of the secrets in their lives that they can’t share with anyone else. They each slowly realize that the other has become the most important person in their lives, and are unsure how to handle that. And I loved every stupid minute of it.

It’s a glorious depiction of what it feels like to leave home and go to college. I remember how Penny felt, and I expect to feel the complete opposite of that when my oldest goes to college in three years (yikes.)

“In the short while she’d been at college – a seemingly negligible sliver of time – her brain reset. The routine rhythms of her old life were booted from her operating system. Sure she missed having kimchi in the fridge or a Costco stash of triple-ply toilet paper stored above a washer and dryer you could operate for free, but whenever her mother texted or when Mark called, the interruption was staggering.  Mind-blowing. She may as well have been getting messages from the spirit world. It was inconceivable that both college and home operated on the same space-time.”

Its also an enlightening look at what it means to struggle financially when you are surrounded by people who don’t give money a second thought. Penny and her mom have struggled and worked hard to get Penny to college, but they aren’t destitute by any means. But Sam? Sam is poor. His relationship with his mother is completely ruined after she opened up tons of credit cards in his name (without his permission) and maxxed them out in order to feed her shopping addiction. When he took legal action to try and keep his credit in check, she disowned him. And they are surrounded by massive wealth everywhere they look in Austin.

“Twombly, the condo across the street from campus, was not officially affiliated with the college. It functioned as a dorm, and there was a cafeteria, though it more closely resembled luxury apartments that served as tax shelters for Russian oligarchs. Its inhabitants were affluent enough that college degrees were a quaint diversion, a short-lived pretense that they were just like everybody else. It was a rich-kid rumspringa, that rite of passage for Amish people, except instead of living with electricity, the wealthy scions slummed by majoring in journalism.”

And yet, as hipster as Austin is, we never forget that this is still Texas.

“From the highway, the neon signs in order read: CHINESE FOOD, DONUTS, JUICE, then GUNS. Juice was the only hipster outlier. Everything else was as common as corn bread.”

Both Sam and Penny want to create art. Sam makes documentaries (I loved his little side plot with the skater kids) and Penny writes science fiction (I didn’t love her side plot quite as much, her sci fi was too hard for my little brain). And both are clearly talented, but neither of them has the self-confidence to see what they have to offer. Until they believe the other person telling them how great they are, which is a huge step for each of them. Sam tells Penny that they suffer from “Imposter Syndrome,” which she googles and reads “Informally used to describe people who are unable to internalize their accomplishments despite external evidence of their competence.”

I think that little sentence pretty much sums up the genre of YA that I prefer.

Amazon gives comparisons to Eleanor and Park, and I can see why. Both tell stories of unlikely friendships between people that don’t quite fit in (or at least, don’t think that they do), that become something more. Both describe terrible home-life situations. And while I consider Eleanor & Park to be the gold standard for YA romance, this book is a worthy successor. In this case, I didn’t even care if Sam and Penny ended up together romantically, as long as their friendship stayed intact. Sometimes I just want to read about people coming together to support each other through the ups and downs of regular life. Mary HK Choi’s next book, Permanent Record, comes out in a few months, and I can’t wait to read it. I loved this book. I loved the pink cover that made me think of fancy pajamas. I loved the back and forth between the narrators. I loved the humor and the sadness. And I loved the real characters inside. Thanks for the tip, Rainbow.

 

15
Dec
17

Let’s talk about Seth, baby. CBR9 Review 65.

imagesI’ve been on a big Rainbow Rowell re-read lately. I got all of her books on audible, and with the new job, I’m in the car a lot. Seriously, so much. And I find Rebecca Lowman’s voice to be so soothing, that even the Beltway traffic doesn’t bother me too much when I’m listening to her.

And FYI, this review is pretty much a big huge spoiler. If you haven’t read it, go ahead and pick up a copy. I’ll wait.

The other day I finished Landline for the second time (first read it back in CBR6) and I think this time I loved it even more than I did the first time. I think the fact that I didn’t even bother to think about the magic phone this time and instead focused on Neal and Georgie and their journey certainly added to my love.

But also, this time I thought a lot about Seth. And I realized that I had a Seth, way back in the day. And we wrote a show together that we were sure would be the next BIG THING. But that I’m always glad I chose my Neal instead. Sure, my Seth is huge out in Hollywood now, and I could be riding on those coattails. But what kind of a friend expects you to leave behind your Neal simply so that he can keep you in his pocket, as his  “secret weapon”? That’s no kind of life. I never regret saying No to my Seth and instead choosing the life I have now.

So I really got what Georgie was going through this time. Not really the marriage problems (although, really, every marriage has the lows that Georgie and Neal experience, just maybe not to that extent), but making the choices that were right for her and her family.

And Seth really infuriated me this time around. Every time he wondered just what the hell was wrong with her, I wanted to punch him in his smug Brooks Brothers face. He asked her to make an impossible choice and didn’t understand when she suffered for it. Seth doesn’t get a vote in what goes on in their marriage.

When Georgie finally tells Seth off outside of her mom’s house, I did a little cheer in my minivan.

I love that the book ends without closure for Georgie and Seth. Maybe they’ll be able to postpone that meeting. Maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll continue to be a great team, but maybe not. I’d like to think that Georgie will be fine on her own.

12
Oct
17

“Do you believe in love at first sight?”…”I don’t know,” he said. “Do you believe in love before that?” CBR9 Review 56.

UnknownApparently, I’m in the middle of a massive re-reading binge. I didn’t even realize it, but most of the books on the list of “reviews I need to catch up on” are for books that I’ve not only read before, but have also reviewed before. Attachments is one of those books — first reviewed in CBR5, it was a book I loved so much, I was afraid to reread it.

What if I didn’t love it as much as I did last time? Wouldn’t that sort of ruin it for me?

Never fear!

Not only did I still love it, I might actually love it more than I did the first time. Callooh! Callay!

Yes, Lincoln’s inability to stop reading Beth and Jennifer’s emails is still a touchy subject for me. But he owns up to it and he apologizes sincerely for it. And really, it started out as part of his job, and that job was ridiculous. So, I forgive him.

And I forgive Beth for being generally creepy in her obsession with him. Following him to the movies and to his house. And for her super forward behavior towards him at the movies near the end. That was kind of weird. But I forgive her.

Because the rest of the book is so absolutely perfect that I don’t mind. I know this is super short, but let’s face it: most of you who are ever going to read this book have already done so. A few words from me probably isn’t going to sway you either way. Its romantic and funny and honest and sad and PERFECTION. It made me sigh out loud. Read it.

I was working in a big office at my very first job in 1999, waiting for Y2K to come and cripple our computer systems. I assume that at the time, some tech person was reading my emails to my friends. We sent around 90210 and Melrose Place episode recaps filled with profanity and tawdry details. I hope that tech person enjoyed them. I didn’t ever get in trouble, so maybe they did.

 

 

30
Aug
17

Thanks, Rainbow. I can always count on you. CBR9 Reviews 49 & 50.

UnknownWhen I heard that Cannonball favorite Rainbow Rowell was joining the Marvel team, I was certainly intrigued. I’m not a huge Marvel fangirl, but I had faith that Rainbow wouldn’t sign on to a project that wasn’t worthy of her. So, at her urging, I went to the library to pick up the first two volumes of the original Runaways, written by the always great Brian K. Vaughan.

And, of course, Rainbow was right. I was immediately taken in and wanted more.*

Here’s a quick overview of what happens in the first two volumes:

A group of six kids are gathered together while their parents have their “annual charity meeting.” The kids aren’t really friends, but are thrown together every year while their parents supposedly meet behind closed doors to decide how to give back to the community. Except their parents are really a group of super villains called The Pride and the kids accidentally see them sacrificing a young prostitute for some unknown reason.

Freaking out, the kids run away from home (hence the name!).

Later, the kids discover that they each have some sort of super ability (one is a witch, one is an alien, one is a mutant, etc..), news that their parents had hidden from them. They discover mystical accessories, like a staff and bracelet and some gauntlets that help to access these powers.

Oh. And they also find a magical, sensory-attuned velociraptor, who can communicate with one of the kids via thought.

images

And all of this happens while they attempt to process that their parents are evil, and that everything they ever knew had been taken away from them in an instant. The members of the Pride immediately call their contacts in the police (it seems that nothing happens in Los Angeles that the Pride doesn’t know about) and have it staged so that it looks like the prostitute was murdered by the kids, who then went and kidnapped the youngest member of their group, and that they are all wanted by the authorities.

That’s a lot to happen in the first two volumes of a comic. And I didn’t even mention the vampire, the love triangle, and the possibility that one of the runaways is actually a mole, reporting back to the Pride.

These books are fun and exciting (seriously, did you expect anything less if Brian K Vaughan AND Rainbow Rowell are somehow involved?) and I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of the series. Rainbow’s first issue comes out in September. And, I totally forgot that this is going to be a show on Hulu in November. And its going to have James Master in it as one of the parents in the Pride.  I guess I need to hurry!

*Sadly, my library only has volumes 1 and 2 of the original Runaways. I guess I’ll be hitting up the comic shop this weekend!

 

02
Aug
17

I’m not sure why AS King isn’t a worldwide phenomenon, worshipped by all who are lucky enough to read her books. CBR9 Review 48.

UnknownThis is the fifth AS King book I’ve had the pleasure of reading during my tenure as a Cannonballer…I read Please Ignore Vera Dietz way back in CBR3, Ask the Passengers in CBR6, and earlier this year I read the mind-bending Still Life with Tornado and the amazing Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future. And after reading this one, I found myself wondering why teens (and parents! parents should be reading these!) all over the world aren’t universally singing the praises of AS King.*

I know. These books aren’t exactly easy reading. Not only is the subject matter often upsetting (as is life), but the story is usually not told in a linear, sensible manner. King’s protagonists have often been abused or endured and survived some other trauma. Maybe they suffer from mental illness. Sometimes they wonder about their sexuality and about how their parents will handle that. And King always makes it clear: however you feel, whoever you love, whatever you do, its ok.

Her methods are strange and surreal, I’ll give her that. Glory O’Brien drank a bat smoothie that gave her the power to see the future. Vera Dietz hangs out with thousands of ghosts of her dead best friend. Sarah (from Still Life with Tornado) makes friends with different versions of herself at different ages. Astrid (from Ask the Passengers) gets her best advice from people flying over her house in jets. And it all somehow makes sense.

This time, King gives us a group of “broken” friends who are seniors in high school. One is building an invisible helicopter. One won’t ever take off her lab coat. One has magical hair that grows every time she lies. And one has swallowed herself and is now inside out. Maybe the rest of the school sees them as freaks, but together they support each other and help each other deal with what’s happened in their lives to bring them to these situations.

The book is mostly about trauma and PTSD. How do different people handle stressful and horrible situations? Some drink. Some withdraw and watch old TV sitcoms. Some become obsessed with death.  Some put themselves in dangerous sexual situations. Some are lucky enough to have the support of their friends and family to help them get better, while some have to figure it out on their own. But King shows us that help is out there, and that anyone can be saved.

SPOILERS

Stanzi’s parents really pissed me off here. Yes, I understand that losing a child is the worst thing that can possibly happen. But you have another child that you are letting slip away and she needs your help. Meanwhile, I assumed China’s BDSM mother would end up being useless. And her strength and love really blew me away.

*And, as I’ve touted before, Andrew Smith and Rainbow Rowell books should be government issued as well. These three authors understand life as a teen better than anyone I’ve ever come across. Have a teen? Know a teen? Are you a teen? Have you ever been a teen? If so, I recommend these authors.

08
May
17

This is why I still visit the YA section of my library. CBR9 Reviews 28 & 29.

UnknownThere are very few writers — of any genre — that absolutely grasp how to write dialogue that an actual  human being would say. And I think its especially difficult when it comes to YA characters. Rainbow Rowell can do it. Andrew Smith can do it. And my god, AS King can do it, too.

Years and years ago (for CBR3!!!), I read Please Ignore Vera Dietz, a book I still think about every once in a while. It was so different from anything else I had read in the world of YA, it really and truly stood out for me as groundbreaking. Then in CBR6, I read another one of King’s books, Ask the Passengers, and it was another beautiful home run from King. Her books were a bit bizarre — but so realistic. The kids had some unique issues but handled them in mature and impressive ways. These are books that I made a mental note to have on hand when Bunnybean went to high school.

Last week, I saw the new AS King book on the shelf at the library, so I grabbed it, along with one from a few years ago. Why did it take me so long to get back to an author I had enjoyed so much? I HAVE NO IDEA. My bad, clearly.

First, the newer book, Still Life with Tornado. From Amazon:

At 16, Sarah is facing what she calls an “existential crisis,” questioning whether her life has meaning or value, an event fueled by an unfair art show, a cruel teacher, a toxic and abusive family, a missing brother, and the loss of her ability to draw. Sarah wanders through the streets of Philadelphia and meets her future self at age 23 and 40 as well as her 10-year-old self. With the help of these past and future selves, she uncovers hidden memories of the vacation leading up to her brother leaving and the lies and violence that have driven her family dynamics for years. This beautifully written, often surreal narrative will make readers wonder if Sarah is schizophrenic, if she has post-traumatic stress disorder, or if she just needs to take a break from the realities of her life. Two weeks before Sarah’s crisis, her friend Carmen drew a tornado and told Sarah that it was not a sketch of a tornado but of everything the tornado contained. This drawing becomes an analogy for all that Sarah is hiding in the emotional tornado of her life, the secrets she has hidden from herself and the world. King’s brilliance, artistry, and originality as an author shine through in this thought-provoking work. Sarah’s strength, fragility, and ability to survive resonate throughout. VERDICT This is a complex book that will not appeal to all readers, but for others it will be an unforgettable experience.

I needed to steal the blurb from the book’s page, because I really couldn’t do the plot any justice in describing it. Yes, this is a serious story about bullying, about sexual abuse, about depression, about domestic violence, and about the difficulty about navigating through the teen years. It is also a strange and bizarre look at what makes a person themselves — Sarah comes across versions of herself at different ages as she makes her way across Philadelphia while skipping school. She meets her 10 year old self, her 23 year old self, and her 40 year old self, out and about, giving advice and offering an ear to listen to Sarah. Is Sarah having a breakdown, or is there something more to these other versions of herself that she meets?

Its only when all of the versions of Sarah get together, to become the complete version of Sarah, that she realizes what she needs to do in order to move on with her life and to keep her family together.

So weird. And so upsetting. Sarah’s family was difficult to read about. Her parents had a toxic relationship and her brother’s disappearance was certainly troubling. And Sarah’s ability (subconsciously) to block her past from her memory was fascinating to read about, even though we knew it was going to negatively effect her present.

When I finished that one, I immediately picked up Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future. And this one was one of the best YA books I’ve come across. Ever.

In this masterpiece about freedom, feminism, and destiny, Printz Honor author A.S. King tells the epic story of a girl coping with devastating loss at long last–a girl who has no idea that the future needs her, and that the present needs her even more.

Graduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities–but not for Glory, who has no plan for what’s next. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was only four years old, and she’s never stopped wondering if she will eventually go the same way…until a transformative night when she begins to experience an astonishing new power to see a person’s infinite past and future. From ancient ancestors to many generations forward, Glory is bombarded with visions–and what she sees ahead of her is terrifying: A tyrannical new leader raises an army. Women’s rights disappear. A violent second civil war breaks out. And young girls vanish daily, sold off or interned in camps. Glory makes it her mission to record everything she sees, hoping her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she’ll do anything to make sure this one doesn’t come to pass.

Glory is graduating from high school, and has constantly lived in the shadow of her mother, who committed suicide when Glory was in preschool. Glory has no plans for college or for her future, as she assumes that she’ll follow in her mothers footsteps and end up dead. She spends most of her time hanging out with her “friend” Ellie, who lives in a strange, cultish commune across the street. Not really a friend, but the only companion Glory has really ever had, they talk about their experience (or, in Glory’s case, non experience) with boys and what their futures may hold.

One night, Glory and Ellie decide (DON’T ASK WHY) to drink a desiccated, mummified bat that they found. They sprinkle the bat’s remains into their warm, cheap beers, and toast to their futures.

When they wake up the next day, they realize that everything is different. They can see the past and the future of everyone they make eye contact with. They can see the horrors that lie ahead for civilization, and Glory realizes that something has to be done to warn others about it. And so she keeps a journal.

She describes the horrible laws that will be passed, eventually taking away all rights for women. How a second civil war will tear our country apart, and how women will be kidnapped from states bordering opposing sides to be held prisoners as breeders and sexual slaves. And how rebel insurgents will refuse to accept this new society, and fight to bring our nation back together.

Glory sees the role that she is to play in this bleak future, and gladly accepts her fate if it means that she can make a potential difference. In the meantime, she struggles to accept her past, learning as much as she can about her mother and how her suicide affected everyone around her.

Another book that wasn’t easy to read, as the scenes in the future are bleak as hell. But King pulls it off. The strange powers that come from the bat aren’t really explained, but theres really no need for them to be. Just accept them and keep reading.

And yes, the future that Glory sees is completely bleak and awful. But she does what she can to prepare herself — as well as society as a whole — by keeping her journals and making note of who is responsible and when.

AS King is a totally badass, original voice. I plan to go back and read all of the other books of hers that I’ve missed.

 




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