Sunday, July 28, 2013

"Fangirl" by Rainbow Rowell

(cute, cute cover!!!)
If you've ever read or written fan fiction and you know when an author hasn't done with her/his characters all that they could have... then the absolutely delightful Fangirl is for you.  Cather and Wren are 18 year old identical twin sisters. They spent a good part of their teen years writing fan fiction based on the beloved Harry Potter-esque characters created by author Gemma  T. Leslie about the orphan Simon Snow and his room-mate and sometime nemesis Baz (short for Tyrannus Basilton Pitch) and their adventures at the School of Magicks. There have been 7 blockbuster bestsellers in the series and number 8, the final book, is forthcoming.
The twins are starting their first year at college and...suddenly, Wren wants to do things differently. She has applied to live in a different dorm, has a room-mate all picked out and is leaving the Simon Snow stories behind.
Cather is hurt and confused and not ready to abandon the hordes of fans she has following her take on Simon and Baz, say 35,000 of them, and they comment and encourage her to keep going, but can she do it without her sister's support? She's trying to finish her S & B epic before the release of the final book and will she be able to do it here, in a new place, with a new and somewhat grumpy room-mate, and her tall, skinny, very talkative and, for Cath, overly friendly boyfriend Levi. 
(Let me just say, right here, in the zillions of books I've read over the years I've found that women authors can write believable guy characters because they create the kind of men that women like. And Levi is a very, very likable guy!).
Ms. Rowell is such an amazing writer she has you completely believing in the reality of the bestselling Simon Snow and Cath's use of the characters and the differences in their approaches is sheer genius. Cath is SO good at immersing herself in Simon and Baz and her passion for her writing is so all consuming that the reader, well, this reader, felt herself joining Cath's fanbase!
The Recommender LOVED Fangirl and as someone who reads "Phantom" fan fiction (and has written the occasional short story based on Phantom!) I thought it treated fan fiction affectionately and with a lot of respect. I've read some really great books this year as you can tell by the reviews and this is one of my new favorites! It's a wonderful book, and works on several levels, the fan fiction, the college story, the home issues with a Dad who has raised them on his own and... a love story. It doesn't come out until September... so add it to your Amazon wish list, place your order at the local bookstore, or put a hold on it at your library. You'll be very glad you did!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Life in the Fast Lane: "The Corner of Bitter and Sweet" by Robin Palmer

The fantastic "The Corner of Bitter and Sweet" by Robin Palmer is so clued in to the behind the scenes life of a former top TV star, Janie Jackson and her teen age daughter, Annabelle, it reads like a memoir.  Janie walked away from a hit TV show to pursue her art and a movie career which tanked with 3rd rate comedies. She drinks, a LOT, and takes pills and lives by a whole library's worth of self-help and New Age feel good books which she can quote whenever the need arises.
Annabelle narrates her traumatic life story and her attempts at normalcy and her hope that some day maybe her mother will start being a breakfast serving, cookie baking type of Mom instead of having her mug shot for DUI plastered all over the gossip mags and show biz sites, which is where our story begins. In the Santa Monica Police Station with Annabelle and her mother's lawyer and family best friend, Ben, waiting to bail her out.  What happens to Annabelle as she tries to make sense of all the drama makes for one of the most insightful, funny and poignant books of the year.

 The author, Ms. Palmer, worked in Hollywood and the TV industry for 10 years and that knowledge pays off through Annabelle's insiders look at the world she lives in. The world of  Hollywood stars and has-beens, of the exclusive school where her vapid friends fill their days with gossip, eating disorders and shopping and where she tries to fit in, but once her cache of having a superstar mom seems to have vanished... she finds those friends avoiding her.

Will Annabelle survive the craziness of living life in her mother's spotlight? She does have one thing of her own that helps to keep her sane, (and not the hilarious Play Doh huffing and Barbie head sniffing she retreats to when things get overwhelming). She's a photographer. One with her own personal POV. Will that be enough to save her? Grab a copy and find out, because this is a book you'll want to own, and re-read and quote from, it's that good!!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Devil You Know: "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" by April Genevieve Tucholke

Violet lives alone with her brother, Luke, in a huge, rambling old mansion overlooking the sea called Citizen Kane, or the Citizen, for short. Their grandmother Freddie, whose house it was, had died several years before, but her spirit is ever present in the d├ęcor and the portraits of her that cover the walls. Their parents, artists, have gone to Europe, leaving them to fend for themselves with their ever decreasing fortune. As Violet puts it "They loved us...but they loved art more".
Luke and Violet are artists, too, but have lately lacked the inspiration to paint. Instead, they pass the summer with their neighbor, the lovely, languid Sunshine, drinking iced tea on her porch and meandering to town and back. Luke and Sunshine flirt. Luke also sees a girl in town. It's all casual and dreamy and Violet is an enchanting, smart and insightful narrator. A girl you could spend all day (and 368 pages!) with. She has a keen sense of herself, her past and everything around her. She dresses in Freddie's vintage clothes and Freddie's words of wisdom and warnings about life and being wary of the devil are an ever present part of Violet's imagination.
The dwindling fortune is a worry so Violet decides to take matters into her own hands and rent the Citizen's guest house. She puts up a notice in town... and almost instantly a car drives up, a new, old car, and a boy gets out. A lean, tan, dark haired, crooked smiling boy whose face Violet likes on sight.
He is River. River West. And he is there to rent the guest house and change everyone's lives and shake things up and ... let us pause, here, because this is a book where I didn't know what was going to happen as I was fortunate enough to read a Netgalley review edition, so I am not going to give anything away. I completely fell in love with Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea! It is compelling, and romantic and... down right scary! It is a book you know you are going to like by the end of the first sentence and it is a very special author that can draw you into her world and immerse you in her story so easily. A sequel is coming in 2014. I can't wait!