Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell

RATING: ★★★★★

Disclaimer: this review is just going to be long way of saying that I love this book. I have nothing critical to say. Nothing. So if you can’t stand fluff and rainbows - don’t read it.

Everyone always writes reviews about how books made them “laugh and cry” or “it was a roller coaster of emotions” and it always makes me want to stab my eyes out. I love books as much as the next book blogger, but that much? Nah. I might almost cry or kinda laugh, but not in a roller coaster way. 


Until I read Fangirl. I was familiar with Rainbow Rowell from Eleanor and Park and I really liked that book. Liked. Not loved it as much as everyone around me seemed to do. So I was wary about Fangirl. The reviews were amazing, but then again, I’ve been let down quite a few times since deciding to read people’s reviews.

Fangirl is so worth it

It was even better than everyone made it out to be. It was original, funny, heartbreaking fluff that combines family issues with relationship problems with growing up pains. How did Rainbow manage to do that in 500 pages? No clue, but it’s wonderful.

The story follows Cath, full name Cather, who is going to uni together with her sister Wren. The two are polar opposites - Cath is quiet, shy and very uncomfortable with everything, while Wren immediately becomes party girl number one on campus.

While Wren goes out and makes friends, Cath continues doing what the twins did at home: writing Simon Snow fanfiction. Simon Snow is basically the Harry Potter of the Fangirl world and Cath is obsessed with writing fan fiction about Simon and his enemy, but secret lover in the end, Baz. Hence the title - Fangirl.

Cath moves in with Reagan, who is this kickass roommate. She seems like a mean person, but turns out to be very supportive of Cath. Reagan motivates her to go out and explore life and herself. Girlpower to the max.It was so nice to finally read a book where two very different girls meet, but can still be friends. This happens all the time with boys in books, but almost never with girls. It was such a relief to read that Rainbow didn’t take the mean girl route.

But with Reagan comes her ex-boyfriend Levi.

The guy we all want to date.

And honestly, did anyone ever read this book and not fall in love with Levi? He’s from small-town Nebraska and his main expertise is anything to do with farming. So at first, I didn’t like him. A farm boy? Very cliché. But Levi is anything but cliché. He’s kind and caring and it turns out that there is a lot more to his personality than you think - though I can’t reveal too much, because I don’t want to spoil it.

Only criticism for Levi is that he seemed to a bit needy of attention. He was always hanging around Cath and Reagan’s room. But then, the girls enjoyed this, so it’s not really a flaw. Just something I would change about my personal Levi.

Rainbow Rowell manages to combine a lot of characters (5 almost main characters, besides Cath) and several plot elements in a way that truly shows her talent as a writer. A reader never feels like there is an unnatural switch of focus from one theme or one character to another. Everything flows and the book just reads like one simple story. It isn’t until you put it down that you really realise how many elements are touched upon within the story.

Anything negative about the book? Yes - I wish there was more of it! I wanted to cry when I finished this book; it really felt like I had to leave a group of friends behind. I wish there was more Cath and Levi. What happens to Wren? Rainbow, don’t leave us hanging like that.

So it will be no surprise to any reader that this book gets 5 out of 5 stars. It’s perfection. It made my inner fangirl come out - I can’t even write a very serious review about it because I just love everything so much. Please give me more Fangirl.

Solitaire - Alice Oseman

RATING: ★★★★☆

In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.

Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.

I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.

I really don’t.


Who hasn’t read or is reading Solitaire? On Tumblr and Instagram, the beautiful cover of the book is everywhere. Kind of like Solitaire in the book.


So it only seemed to make sense that this was the first book I bought in London (though it was very hard to pick, so many gorgeous books you can find in London!) and for once, I was not disappointed.

Besides the gorgeous cover, Solitaire by Alice Oseman also really delivers on plot. Though the first five pages give the impression that this is a typical young adult book, this illusion is soon scattered by the introduction of Solitaire, an anonymous blog that is urging students to take actions against injustice around them. This original plot element takes everything that could have been cliché about the book and makes it amazing. It’s like Solitaire is single handily preventing Tori from becoming a typical pessimistic and cranky protagonist. So is the real main character of this book Tori or Solitaire? That’s hard to tell.

Especially since they are so intertwined. Everything Tori does prompts an action from Solitaire and everything Solitaire does prompts the whole school, and even though she doesn’t want to, also Tori. The further you get in the book, the more cleverly Tori and Solitaire get connected.

Amazing writing

And this is all thanks to the writing skill of Alice Oseman. She gives some great clues about what and who Solitaire is, but doesn’t give it away until the end of the book. However, attentive readers will pick up little descriptions and reactions from characters that will help them solve the mystery before Tori does. Besides that, Alice uses the first voice to guide the reader to the narrative and she embodies Tori perfectly. She’s a very consistent character who never does anything that seems unlike her. Tori grows and develops, but slowly enough and with enough back-and-forth to make it realistic.

Tori and Michael (and the best side character, Charlie)

And can I just say, thank God Tori develops. She was probably one of the most annoying main characters in the beginning of the book. She came across as depressive for no reason and this ticked me off pretty badly. However, as the story develops, so does she and the reader gets enough insight to relate to Tori - even if you’re not a chronic pessimist like she is. However, I never really felt like I was Tori or would do what Tori did: she’s just too different for me. So real identification to any character was missing for me.

Even though the concept of Solitaire might not be that realistic, all the other characters in the book are realistic. Every single teenage stereotype is represented and unlike most books, some stereotypes turn out to actually be true. Some people are really like you assumed they were, while others are completely different than you thought. 

If there is a love story in the book, it didn’t seem to take priority in my eyes. The main boy is Michael Holden, who is “slightly off”. He is not very weird, but he does things just a bit differently than anyone else. I didn’t crush on him, but I adored the boy in a “this is my younger brother and he is so cute” kind of way. Michael is vulnerable, optimistic and constantly happy - aka the complete opposite of Tori. This makes their relationship very interesting, and not in your typical way. There is no “cutesy bickering”, they full out brawl sometimes, and there is also no “growing similar and closer”. Michael is Michael and Tori is Tori and with that they have to make it work.

Something else I need to mention is Tori’s brother Charlie. I don’t want to give too much away about this character, since he is one of the most surprising and thus interesting ones in the book, but he has some serious issues. And Alice Oseman writes about him in the most perfect way. His issues are talked about, but not in way to provoke the reader nor in a way to make the reader cry for Charlie. It’s so realistic that it’s wonderful - something more YA novels need.


The rating for this book is 4 out of 5 stars. Almost everything about this book was perfect, except for the fact that I couldn’t identify with Tori. I love to identify with a main character and feel like I’m her/him in the book and like I’m living the life they are living. Because Tori is so different from me, there was always this bit of space that prevented me from really getting into the story. But the writing, the other characters and the plot were amazing.

The Moon and More - Sarah Dessen

RATING: ★★★★★

Oh Sarah Dessen, what a curveball you threw me with The Moon and More. I picked up this book, fully expecting a nice, predictable YA book. It was a really hot summer's day and I just wanted a book that was fun and didn't need me to really work to get the story nor really made me think all that much about my own life. My go-to author in those cases? Sarah Dessen. Easy romantic love stories - yes please.

But The Moon and More completely threw me off, in the best way possible. Was it an easy read? Yes. Was it fun? Yes. What is predictable? NO. Was it brainless? NO.

The Moon and More is the story of Emaline (sorry, but just a small note: that's the stupidest name I've ever heard) and her summer before heading off to college. It's obviously a summer full of life deciding moments and as a reader, you get introduced to boyfriend Luke and almost immediately sense that he'll be part of "a life deciding moment". Though not in the way you may expect.


Emaline works for her family's rental company in her small, smalllll beach town, with her two half-sisters, her stepdad (who she just calls dad) and her mother. Her father (note the distinction between "dad" and "father" - something very important to Emaline) conceived her as a part of a summer-gone-bad-teenage-mistake and has been in and (mostly) out of her life since then. Until he reaches out and wants to help her. Again, more "life deciding moments".

This all sounds very predictable and I wasn't surprised at all when Theo appears: hot, from the city and wildly intelligent and ambitious. Cue the drama.

Except, Theo turns out to be the biggest plot twist of this book. Without spoiling it too much, he turns out to be someone you did not expect! And he doesn't go through something traumatic and changes or suddenly shows his true colours - Dessen writes his change in a subtle way. You don't notice he is changing, until suddenly you realise he isn't the Theo of the start of the book anymore. With small actions, he transforms from NYC hottie to... jerk. It's subtle enough to creep up on the reader, but will Emaline notice?

Furthermore, Emaline has to make some important decisions about her future life. As a 24 year old, on the brink of moving to London and starting a new MA and trying to figure out where this website is going, I related to Emaline so much in this aspect. She goes back and forth in her decisions, is unsure whether to follow conventions, ambitions or her heart and surprisingly enough, she kinda doesn't follow any of them at the end. She slowly finds her own way throughout the story in a realistic and reassuring way - we'll all find out what we are supposed to do, where we are supposed to be and who we need for this in our lives.

And that is what makes this book so special - it takes all the cliché elements from a romantic YA novel and turns them completely upside down with the excellent writing of Sarah Dessen. It seems cliché in the beginning, but she drops enough hints and clues for the intelligent reader to pick up where the story is heading early on. 

So actually, this book is a nice, easy, beachy YA book, but with a major twist that will actually make you more interested in the story and the characters. Bravo Sarah Dessen.

To All Boys I've Loved Before - Jenny Han

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Some books are just impossible to not read - they are all over social media and everyone is talking about how amazing and life changing they are.

Usually, those books end up as one big disappointment: they are too hyped up and just can't live up to the expectations. Which makes it hard to review these books - were they really not that good or was the hype so big that no book can ever live up to it?

Isn't this just the most gorgeous cover ever? This scores points for To All The Boys I've Loved Before

Isn't this just the most gorgeous cover ever? This scores points for To All The Boys I've Loved Before

That's the question I'm struggling with after finishing To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han. It was a good book, a quick read with an original plot, but was it the best book of the year so far? Meh. I don't know.

Lara Jean is the middle Song sibling, in a household with two other sisters and their dad. The book starts off when Margot, the oldest sister and the "mother" of the family, moves to Scotland to go to University. As if that was not life changing enough for Lara Jean, who suddenly has to take care of her dad and younger sibling Kitty, her love letters unexpectedly get send to five of her former crushes. 

Love letters? Yes, love letters and not your regular love letters - these are letters she wrote when trying to get over the guys. They were never supposed to be read by anyone, let alone the guys they are talking about (would you want a guy to read how you had a big crush on him when you were 11, but "he's not all that anyway" - awkward). But they mysteriously are delivered to the five guys and suddenly she has to deal with the consequences of these letters.

Lara Jean is a nice character, but I didn't fall in love with her. She's the typical YA girl that is "so quirky and special", but in a really cute and attractive way. I never really buy that - if she was that quirky, why does everyone love her? She's obviously just really cute and smart and maybe a tad clumsy and insecure, but that's about it - I would have loved to have seen more flaws in her. What makes her so different from Harper, Laurel, Emma...? Nothing really as far as I could tell.

The real saviour of this book is the plot - the characters are all kind of bland and predictable, but the plot is not. The idea of these love letters getting send already scored points for me - it's something I've never read about before, but it was realistic enough to really imagine it. As a writer, I've written many rambling notes to people and I would die if they would actually ever read it. So props for Lara Jean to live out everyone's worst nightmare.

Even more so, the book doesn't turn out the way you expect it to. You start reading and think "Oh Lara Jean will totally *SPOILER* *SPOILER* *SPOILER*", but she doesn't! There are many twists and turns that, again, are unexpected yet realistic. And added to that, YA fans will know that Jenny Han is an amazing writer. She writes in such an easy way that you'll finish this book in one sitting.

But can a good plot save a boring lead character? Not usually- I love books driven by characters and in this case, it just isn't. Lara Jean is the only character who is really explored, which is totally fine since she is the main character, but she's flat and unrealistic.

Still, I finished the book and had a happy feeling - I kinda enjoyed reading it. So maybe in this case, the plot and good writing can save a book. But not enough to make it the YA release of the year in my opinion. (For books I think could be the YA release of the year, look at We Were Liars and This Song Will Save Your Life) It's perfect though for a hot summer's day, like today, for which you want a fun and easy read.

Love Letters To The Dead - Ava Dellaira

We go through life constantly wondering why other people’s lives are so much better. This person has a better job, that one looks better and that girl has way more money. There is constant envy and sometimes we need to be reminded that envy can be very misplaced.


That’s what a book like Love Letters To The Dead can do. Its story shows that we might think everyone else is perfect, but every single person has issues and problems he or she has to deal with. Unfortunately, I ended up wishing that an other author had grabbed the opportunity to write about this very important topic.

Laurel, the main character of Love Letters To The Dead, gets a simple English assignment on her first day in high school: Write a letter to a deceased person. But instead of writing a generic assignment, Laurel discovers that writing letters to famous dead people is the best form of therapy for her. Her letters become a diary, sharing experiences in her life that somehow remind her of the deceased person. She writers about her dead sister, May, and the guilt she feels revolving her death. She writes about Sky, the cute guy in school, and about her mother, who moved to California after the death of May.

The letters start off pretty basic - like reading the diary of an average 16 year old. However, as the school year gets more difficult, the letters show more and more of the problems Laurel is experiencing. What exactly happened to her sister the night she died? Why did her mother leave? Will she ever be able to open up to Sky?

Because every chapter is a letter, there is a very nice and original pacing to the story. When Laurel writes to Kurt Cobain she discloses different things then when she writes to Amelia Earhart. Each person inspires her to open up about certain subjects and that’s what makes this book a good read. Laurel starts off as your typical teenage girl, but letter by letter it is disclosed that she has experienced a lot more than a normal teenage girl has. Added to that, everything is not just in her narrative, but “written by her” - there is some amazing insight into her personality. She, along with the reader, finds out that things are often not what they seem and most importantly, that people are not what they seem.

Besides the accurate representation of Laurel, the other characters in the book are also diverse and work in the theme that “everyone has issues”. Laurel’s sister May turns out to have had some rough experiences and boyfriend Sky has some family issues. All these problems are again exposed throughout the book in a very subtle, but useful way.

However, besides all of that, I still struggled with the basic writing style of this book. I understand that Laurel is writing the letters and that she’s a teenager, so she can’t be too sophisticated, but she’s a really intelligent teenager. One who is obsessed with poetry. Why are her letters so bland and boringly written? It’s all straight to the point and it just didn’t captivate me. Reading this book is kind of like watching Dr. Phil on repeat all day - it’s drama (good drama in this case though), but presented in such a bland way. I want to read more from Ava Dellaira to find out if this writing style was a creative decision or if this is just the writing style she always uses. 

For example, the most liked quote of this book on Goodreads (121 likes and spoiler-free!):

“I think a lot of people want to be someone, but we are scared that if we try, we won't be as good as everyone imagines we could be.” 

The messages in this quote? Great and again emphasises the theme, but come on. This looks like a quote someone threw on pinterest, not one in an amazing book. It’s cliché and overdone and bland.

Love Letters To The Dead has all the potential in the world to be one of the best YA books out there - the summer hit of 2014. However, the boring writing style just didn’t do it for me. Whether it was a decision to make Laurel’s writing basic or whether it is the style of the author, I’ll probably never know. But I kinda wish someone else ran with this idea and did it justice.

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë

There is such a fulfilling feeling after reading a classic. The feeling that you finally belong to a club that so many people already joined. Suddenly, a world of word-puns and movie-references open up to you.

"You're dating such a Mr. Rochester." "Haha, yeah..." (Wait, what? Who is Mr. Rochester? Was he our gym teacher in high school?)

Finally, I joined the club. I moved from the "I can never finish a classic"-club to the "I know what you mean with 'a Mr. Rochester'!"-club. It's a good feeling and the moment I finished Jane Eyre, I was elated and proud.

But then an eery feeling set it: Was I just elated because I finished the book and conformed to what society thinks I should read or because I finished a book that I actually really enjoyed?

In the case of Jane Eyre, it's hard to decide.

The outline of the story is well known to most people: Jane Eyre is an orphan who ends up as a governess at Thornfield Hall. The house is owned by Mr. Rochester, an older, and rather cold, gentleman. Through ups and downs, Jane and Mr. Rochester fall in love. But as always, things are not as simple as they seem.

When I started the story, I really got into it and fell in love with Jane. Her childhood is awful, but somehow Jane does learn how to stand up for herself. I even would say that she was a feminist, and just generally a humanist, for that time. 

Then Jane goes to a boarding school and I really got into the story. The characters she meets there are interesting and well developed. Especially Helen Burns, an older student who takes Jane under her wings, is forever a favorite of mine. Jane stays at the institute, Lowood, for 8 years and those 8 years fly by in the book. No unnecessary details, no boring blabbing, just plot element after plot element.

I loved it and I loved it even more when I discovered that this speed is kept throughout the whole second half of the novel too: the part where Jane arrives at Thornfield Hall.

Where I started to lose my patience with this novel, is the point where Jane decides to leave Thornfield for several, and way spoilery, events. She wanders around and God, reading it felt like I was wandering around aimlessly too. Too many descriptions, too much unnecessary conversation, too much like a Jane Austen novel. I must admit that I skimmed from this point on, until the last 30 pages, when a plot twist makes everything interesting again.

Jane captured my heart in this novel and, even though I despised Mr. Rochester, there is definitely something very romantic about this book. However, it just doesn't captivate me like so many other books do. Is it the old English? Is it because it's talking about such a remote world? Is it because Mr. Rochester was a bit of a prick? 

I think it was all of the above combined. Added to that, I often got lost in Jane's thoughts. She went back and forth about things so many times, that she confused me. This meant that I had to get out of the story and really think about what Jane was doing. I was judging Jane at times and I don't want to judge my protagonists - I want to enjoy them. I want to start reading and keeping going and going until I'm completely sucked in the story. Because of Jane's quirky ways of thinking, I just couldn't do that.

So who should read this book? Everyone, like myself, who wants to join the "I read classics"-book club. I've read Jane Austen, I've attempted to read Vanity Fair, but none of those books read as easily and entertaining as Jane Eyre. So I think this is a great book to get your feet wet in the classics. However there are so many books and our lives are so short - I wish I would have spend the time reading a book I truly enjoyed, instead of reading something because "everyone reads it". 

But that fulfilling feeling when ending these 400 pages? That was priceless and I would almost consider reading a classic again - just for that.

We Were Liars - E. Lockhart

We Were Liars might be the most hyped-up Young Adult book released this year. E. Lockhart has been praised by John Green and Scott Westerfeld for her haunting novel about the Sinclair family and Beechwood Island.

Usually when I write a review, I don’t like to include the opinions of other authors or reviewers. Obviously the book cover is going to boast how amazing the book is - it’s called marketing. However, We Were Liars is actually 10 times better than the review quotes claim it to be. Want to know why?

It starts of with the writing, which is so beautiful. I know beautiful is a meaningless and overrated word in reviews, but I’ll prove it. Take the opening sentences of the book:

Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family.

No one is a criminal.

No one is an addict.

No one is a failure.

The Sinclairs are athletic, tall, and handsome. We are old-money Democrats. Our smiles are wide, our chins square, and our tennis serves aggressive.

Every creative writing class I took, focussed at least 5 lessons on characterisation and the narrative voice - this opening paragraph shows how to set a scene and give a sense of the narrator and her family.

This narrator is called Cadence and she’s the oldest grandchild in the Sinclair family. Each summer, the whole family (grandparents, three beautiful daughters and their children) meet on a private island. In Cadence’s “Summer 15” something goes horribly wrong and she wakes up at a hospital on the mainland without her memory. What happened in summer 15?

The journey of Cadence is the journey of retrieving her memory and learning that not everything is what it seems. As a reader, you feel bad for Cadence who is slowly learning that the opening paragraph of the book is the furthest thing from the truth. She is a teenager, just 17 when she tries to uncover the truth, who has to learn some horrible truths about her family and herself. How can anyone cope with it?

Cadence deals with it in a very mature and raw way. She didn’t read like a teenager to me, she analysed things and thinks everything through before she acts. I guess if you really want a teenage-y narrator, this is a negative, but I adored a more mature narrator. 

The plot takes twists and turns that completely threw me off every single time. You want to keep reading. You want to find out what happened in Summer 15 almost more than Cadence was to know.

Another bonus is the length of the book - 224 pages means that you don’t have to read for hours to find out what happens. There is definitely suspense and things don’t start to make sense until page 180, but the story is constantly moving and progressing.

We all know the pressures and expectations of belonging in your family, but if your family turns out to be complete strangers, what can you do?