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.

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.

After Wimbledon - Jennifer Gilby Roberts

I’m obsessed with chick lit. No matter what I do, no matter how many serious novels I’m reading (right now, I’m working my way through the 900 pages of Vanity Fair), a chick lit book always feels like coming home.

So when I found After Wimbledon by Jennifer Gilby Roberts, I was just dying to read it. And thank God I did.


Lucy Bennett, who is very much like Becky Bloomwood, is a tennis-pro who is prepping for Wimbledon, but really considering retirement. However, her one-night-stand-turned-boyfriend Joe does not want her to retire and most definitely does not want any of her post-retirement plans (house, marriage, babies,…). And then there’s Sam, one of the best tennis players in the world, the rival of Lucy’s boyfriend and the only person who thinks Lucy is not an idiot for wanting to retire.

So who does Lucy trust? And is retirement really a good option when she’s only 28? These are the main themes in the book, though there are a few small curveballs in the plot.

Lucy is funny and endearing and as a reader, you really want her to be happy. Joe is the perfect asshole boyfriend you want her to leave and Sam is a modern day Prince Charming.

It’s a chick lit, so the plot can be expected, but that’s what makes this book so good. There are no really unexpected turns (except maybe one towards the end), no big character developments, everything happens exactly as the reader wants it to happen.

However, unlike the many chick lits that have given me a headache, this book is actually written well. Jennifer clearly knows how to make the reader connect with Lucy and how to portray Lucy’s humor on page (and not just with saying “oh Lucy, you are so funny”). But don’t take my word for it, read a little passage from the beginning of the book – so completely spoiler free: “This isn’t the type of thing we normally talk about. Joe and I have what I think of as an emotionally open relationship. In a traditional open relationship (oxymoron?), you are emotionally intimate only with each other and sleep with anyone you want. In our case, we are sexually exclusive but have your deep and meaningful conversations with other people. That is, assuming Joe has any at all.”

That last sentence? That’s the kind of sentence that makes me laugh out loud in bed.

I was a bit worried that After Wimbledon would be too much about tennis for me, because I hate tennis and can’t stand watching it or hearing about it. But, even though tennis is a huge part of the plot, no knowledge of tennis is required nor are there any long reports about tennis matches. It’s about Lucy and her career and men – not the technicality of tennis.

After Wimbledon is not groundbreaking chick lit, such as a Bridget Jones’ Diary was, but it’s a fun read and I think it’s perfect for the summer that’s coming. Grab a drink, sit outside (preferably on a beach) and this book is your perfect companion.

Sweet Nothings - Kim Law

Joanie Bigbee and Nick Dalton are polar opposites in every way. She is wild, untamed and unable to settle down – jobwise and relationship-wise. He is calm, a “house mouse” and eager to settle down as fast as possible. They fall in love, but are faced with a number of issues such as the health of Joanie’s grandmother, Nick’s complicated past and the constant rumours started by the people that live in their small town.

The novel is a story about how nothing in life can be planned, because unexpected events will always change our lives in unexpected ways. The author emphasizes this by having a double narrative in her story. The reader knows the point of view of Nick and Joanie and this helps to understand the struggles the main characters have to go through before they can be happy. Though the double narrative expands the story compared to the average chicklit book, in which we only know the struggles of the female protagonist, it also eliminates the element of suspense in the love story. 

The feelings of the main characters for each other are known at every point of the story and so the reader never really has to wonder whether or not the characters will end up together. Kim Law tries to compensate this by letting the main characters interact a lot with minor characters, of which the reader does not know the perspectives. Those smaller personas often are the core of the unexpected events that change the lives of Joanie and Nick.

The author taps into the 50 Shades of Grey audience by including many explicit sex scenes in the book. Though they do not move the plot forward in any sort of way, they will be a delight to any reader who loves the Grey trilogy.

The writing style of the author is an easy one to read, though often filled with cringe-worthy clichés such as “A man who’d set her engine on purr” and “Captivating eyes, the color of storm clouds on a late-summer day”. However, there are not too many for it to overtake the plot line.
Overall, Sweet Nothings is a decent read. It will make you laugh at times, but it is pretty predictable, especially because of the double narrative, and there are better chicklits out there.

The Glass Kitchen - Linda Francis Lee

I’m Mrs. Take-away. I don’t see the point in cooking and I honestly think that modern day’s obsession with cooking and food is absurd and freaky.

However, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m also the girl that picks books purely on their cover and thus I ended up reading the book The Glass Kitchen (really Emma, you missed the word Kitchen in the title?) by Linda Francis Lee. I requested this book via Netgalley, because I loved the cover so much.

The Glass Kitchen is the story of Portia and Ariel – a story that intertwines at several points during the plot.

Portia is a newly divorced Texan woman who moves to New York City to find herself again. She lives in the townhouse her great aunt used to own – she lives on the garden floor while her sisters, Olivia and Cordelia, used to own the other two floors. However, the sisters sold their part of the house, so Portia unwantedly becomes a neighbor of Gabriel, a handsome, but very cold, businessman.

Gabriel is a widower with two daughters – Ariel and Miranda. The story of the family focuses on 12-year-old Ariel, who is struggling with the move to New York (the family used to live in New Jersey) and the teenage escapades of her sister (who is 16). And mostly with the fact that she was in the car crash that killed her mother.

As if that’s not enough plot, there’s an interesting twist to the story. Portia has “the knowing”, which is a family trait that allows her to see the food people will need before they actually need it. For example, Miranda runs into the house needing 20 cupcakes for a bake sale and Portia already made them, though she didn’t know why. Olivia’s grandmother used to have the trait, which is why her restaurant The Glass Kitchen in Texas was so successful. Imagine walking into a place and them always having the food you love? As a Mrs Take-away – I’ll sign up for that.

That’s where the story starts and slowly the characters develop and have to figure out how to survive, both financially and emotionally after the traumatic event of an unexpected divorce or the death of a mother, in the case of Ariel.

What I liked about this book is that Portia is not your typical Texan narrator – yes, she likes to cook and yes she wears sparkly clothes every now and then, but she’s feisty and actually doesn’t want to hook up with her neighbor for a very long time. Same goes for Ariel, who is not the typical 12 year old narrator. She’s smarter than most girls her age, which saves the book from not falling in between the young adult and adult category – it’s definitely adult, even when Ariel narrates. “The knowing” brings in an original element to the book, which differentiates it from most chick lit like books. It also causes for quite a few surprising turns and twists in the book, which is always a plus in my eyes.

What bothered me about this book is the development of Miranda. Miranda is 16, the older sister of Ariel, and is very clearly struggling with the death of her mother. However, the author portrays her as an annoying brat who is acting out in every way possible. But WHY? Nobody knows and at times, I even wondered if the author really knows why Miranda is acting the way she does.

She hangs out with bad friends, smokes weed and throws parties even though she’s not allowed to do that. As a reader, we hear repeatedly how good she was back in New Jersey and how the move made her upset. Really? The move? I think the death of the mother could have come back in here and I really missed this part of the story.

Besides that though, it is a good read. I feel like the lack of Miranda character development really left a gaping hole in the plot, but for any cooking lovers, this will be a fun and enjoyable read. And even if you don’t enjoy cooking, like me, you can still enjoy this book and maybe even get motivated to do some cooking of your own – with the recipes in the back of the book!