Tag Archives: rainbow rowell

Book Review – Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell

Two years ago (!), Ms. Barrows and I were singing the praises of Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell. The book stars Cath, a young woman in her first year of college. Cath loves the Simon Snow books, and writes fanfiction while awaiting the last book in the series. While reading Fangirl,  I desperately wanted to read the Simon Snow books that Cath was so obsessed with. I must not have been alone, since Rowell went ahead and wrote that last book.

Carry On is the eighth book in the Simon Snow series, but it’s also the only one that actually exists. Reading it is almost like reading Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows without having read the six other books that came before it. It’s a fitting comparison – Simon Snow is a student at a magical boarding school. He’s an orphan. The school’s headmaster is his mentor. He has a smart, bossy friend. He’s supposed to save the magical world from a big bad guy. There’s a groups of old magical families who oppose the headmaster and his policies. Simon’s nemesis at school, Baz, is from one of those families. Baz is Simon’s roommate, he might be a vampire, and Simon wants to punch him. Maybe.

I’m not going to claim this is deep fiction. I found the central mystery pretty easy to figure out. And the hazard in writing a standalone book that is also (supposedly) the last in a series is that there are lots of callbacks to past events and adventures that feel both too fleshed out and not fleshed out enough. But it’s a fun book, and it was nice to spend time with these characters. The relationship between Simon and Baz is the real draw of the book. Rowell switches perspective between characters, and Baz’s chapters are probably the best of the lot. Come for the quasi-meta-fanfiction, stay for the scene that is essentially “Harry Potter has dinner at Malfoy Manor.”
Signing off, James Gette (if Hogwarts won’t take me, maybe Watford will?)

Julian Markese’s Book Review


Sweet Sorrow

Julian Markese

I was enticed by this book simply because of its unusual format. Its the first thing I noticed. The novel switches from character to character each chapter; a bold literary choice, but if not used the book would not have had the same effect. Eleanor and Park is a labeled as a “novel for young adults” but it proves to be much more than that. The reader is plopped on a bus with Park, an asian highschooler. Sitting with his headphones on he notices an overweight redheaded girl. Fearing her imminent fate of bullying for her, he invites her to sit next to him. Day by day the two sit in silence.When they eventually speak both are thrusted into a whole new world.

The relationship begins with Eleanor peeking over parks shoulder to read his comic book. The relationship moves on from there, the two exchange mixtapes, flirt subtly and eventually hold hands. A seemingly unimportant action to most but to the two star crossed lovers it was ever important. Rainbow Rowell’s word usage and writing style makes the love seem almost unreal, the quote that most captured me came from Park, and it perfectly illustrates the love they share. Park says “(Eleanor) never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.” Its impossible to not feel the emotion the two feel each other. Its not long after the two begin their love that Eleanor’s issues at home become a factor. The reader soon learns that Eleanor’s step father is abusive. She spends the entire novel trying to escape him, finding refuge with Park. Eleanor eventually cannot handle living with her stepfather anymore, I won’t give away what happens next.

Eleanor and Park is labeled as a novel for “young adults” but it’s much more than that. Anyone above the age of 12 would enjoy the read.The books format, use of language, and the complexity for the relationship lead to a book that extracts a variety of emotions.

New Book Highlight!

Hello readers!

I wanted to bring to your particular attention two new books we’ve added to the Calarco Library collection:


Rainbow Rowell is a favorite author here in Calarco Library. Both Eleanor and Park and Fangirl have been wildly popular (so much so that I still haven’t gotten to read Fangirl; see Ms. Barrow’s review here). Attachments differs in that it’s not a YA novel, but fans will still find the humor, the great dialogue, and the deep characters they’ve come to expect.

Here’s the blurb:

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that someone is monitoring their interoffice email …

But they can’t quite bring themselves to take any of it very seriously. Jennifer tells Beth everything she can’t tell her husband about why she doesn’t want to start a family. And Beth tells Jennifer everything, period, especially if she thinks it will get a laugh.

Lincoln O’Neil knows that he should stop reading Beth and Jennifer’s email.

He should just send them a warning. He should have sent it the first time he caught them breaking the company rules. But they both seem so nice… They’re smart and funny and interesting, and he likes them. Especially Beth.

By the time Lincoln realizes how much he feels for Beth, it’s too late to unread all of her personal messages. And it’s way too late to introduce himself. What would he say? “Hi, I’m the guys who reads your email, and, also, I love you …”

But he can’t just do nothing. Falling for Beth makes him realize he’s been doing nothing for far too long.

Attachments is a fast, funny romantic comedy about three people at the end of their 20s, at the end of the last Millennium. It’s a book about falling in love with the person who makes you feel like the best version of yourself. Even if it’s someone you’ve never met.”

And then we have:


Unlike Malinda Lo’s previous book, Ash ( a retelling of Cinderella, and another popular read here at Calarco Library), Adaptation is a science-fiction thriller (though both share the ever-present love triangle – with a twist).

Here’s the blurb:

“Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded.
Among them are Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David, who are in Arizona when the disaster occurs. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway in the middle of the Nevada night, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened, where they are–or how they’ve been miraculously healed.

Things become even stranger when Reese returns home. San Francisco feels like a different place with police enforcing curfew, hazmat teams collecting dead birds, and a strange presence that seems to be following her. When Reese unexpectedly collides with the beautiful Amber Gray, her search for the truth is forced in an entirely new direction-and threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.”

You can find both books on the new book display, but not for long!

-Signing off, Kit Gette (who really wants to read Fangirl). 

Book Review: Fangirl

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell

“Sometimes writing is running downhill, your fingers jerking behind you on the keyboard the way your legs do when they can’t quite keep up with gravity. ” -Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl

It was a tough sell – wanting to read a book about a college freshman girl who writes fan-fiction about a made up fantasy book series? But I knew there was no way Rainbow Rowell would let me down. Eleanor & Park was not a fluke, it was genius. The [school] night I stayed up until 2 a.m. finishing Eleanor & Park convinced me that Rowell had figured it out. Man, she knows how to write a character. Even more importantly, she knows how to write a realistic character that a person can actually imagine knowing in real life. Not a character that makes you go, “Biiiiggg faker.”

So really, I had to give Fangirl a chance. Let’s just say if we hadn’t had a snow day on Tuesday, I would have come to school with some severe sleep deprivation issues. A rabid need for coffee, instructing Mr. Gette to yell random words at me so I don’t nod off, the whole nine yards.

Set in Rowell’s native Nebraska, Fangirl is about Cather (or Cath) – a twin, a college freshman, and a massively successful fan fiction writer. Ever heard of Simon Snow? Of course you haven’t. But if you lived in Rowell’s world, he would be synonymous with Harry Potter. Everyone has read the Simon Snow books, and anyone who is a real fan (at least by Cath’s standards) writes Simon Snow fan fiction. Simon Snow was Cath’s childhood – it’s what she shared with her twin Wren after their mom peaced out without even a backward glance. It’s what got them through the roughest of their manic father’s rough days. They built a fan fiction empire, together. And even when Wren’s writing slowed and eventually stopped altogether (being replaced, naturally, by boys and parties), she was still sneaking into Cath’s bed at 2 a.m to read and edit the latest installments.

Enter college. Enter the, “I picked the same college as my more popular, social twin who won’t even room with me” year.

What’s a Cath to do? She lives with Reagan, an older, terrifyingly cool girl who is constantly smoking, working, and being generally disruptive with her boy-friend(?) Levi. Cath’s ideal Friday night is being left alone in her room, whiling away the hours working on her fan fiction masterpiece Carry On. Not exactly a social butterfly, if you catch my drift. More of the, “Let’s escape the harsh unpredictability of reality for the comforts of a wondrous, fantastical world”-fly. Anyone who was ever a Harry Potter/Star Wars/Star Trek/LOTR/Hunger Games/D&D/Comic Book/Graphic Novel/Etc. fanatic can relate.

Trying to survive on protein bars and peanut butter, because finding a dining hall is definitely not worth the overwhelming social anxiety that is sure to come, Cath is lost. Literally and figuratively. There’s one pocket of comfort – Advanced Fiction Writing class. But the class comes attached to a professor who despises fan fiction and a writing partner (Nick) who wants to spend hours collaborating with Cath, but can’t bother to walk her home.

Wren has moved on – at a blistering pace – from Simon Snow. From Cath. Can Cath – should Cath – catch up?

Reasons why you will love Fangirl:

  1. Cath. Levi. Reagan. All the characters!And their dialogue, external and internal. But especially Cath.
  2. The 100% realistic portrayal of college dorms. Dorms are small, physically uncomfortable, socially awkward, and can hardly contain 2 weeks worth of clothes. Thank you, Rainbow Rowell, for not romanticizing dorm rooms AND using their awkwardness as method to enhance plot development.
  3. Any struggling writer (which is every writer) will love reading about how Cath deals with writer’s block, demanding fans, conflicting expectations, and no-good fake friends who rip off your work
  4. Rowell’s depiction of a fandom. Although Simon Snow is a made-up fandom, you forget that detail the more you read. Turns out fandom is fandom, paint it any color you like, any nerd will recognize its true form.
  5. A cameo made by The Outsiders – introductory and concluding lines included!
  6. Most importantly – the love story. There is a love story. Fangirl is a love story. I won’t tell you a single detail about it – trust me, you want to find out for yourself. She did this with Eleanor & Park and she did it again with Fangirl. Rowell makes readers realize that the most normal, realistic, and familiar love stories are the most unique and the most special. The grand, dramatic romances of Hunger Games or Twilight are that much less special in light of a story that manages to make the smallest gestures the most special.

In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t Google.) -Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl

-Signing off, Jenny Barrows (who will always think it’s worth staying up into the wee hours of the morning to read a fantastic book)