Reading Rainbow Rowell – August 2019

One of my reading goals for 2019 is to become more familiar with works by different authors by featuring a different author every month (see A Focus on Authors Reading Challenge). I read Rainbow Rowell books as my August author. I had enjoyed her Eleanor & Park book a few years back and was excited about reading some more of her YA novels. Unfortunately, due to an adventurous vacation for the first half of August, I only managed to read 2 Rowell books this month, thinking they would be fun summer reads.

1429820340604Title: Carry On
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: October 2015
Pages: 522
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Book One of the Simon Snow series
Where I got the book: Library Libby App
Date finished reading: August 25, 2019

Goodreads Description: Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On – The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦

9781250073808_39862Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
Pages: 483
Format Read: ebook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Amazon Kindle
Date finished reading: September 7, 2019

Goodreads Description: Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan..

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

My Review: In the past I have been able to read at least three books by my designated author of the month. This month I was unable to do that, and I really truly believe that it wasn’t just because I took a vacation, but that these books did not interest me enough to keep me engaged. I had pretty high expectations, since I enjoyed Eleanor and Park, but Carry On and Fangirl were not on that same level in my opinion. I chose Carry On and Fangirl, because they are somewhat connected. Carry On is about the adventures of Simon and Baz in a fantasy world, and Fangirl is revolves around Cath, who write Simon and Baz fanfiction. Technically I believe Carry On is Cath’s fanfiction. I should have picked more different books I think. I disliked Carry On a lot actually. Giving it a rating of 3-stars is actually very generous for me. This book felt a lot like Harry Potter but without the character or plot development. I really had no idea what was happening and didn’t care much about Simon and Baz. I liked that the author explored a romantic relationship between Simon and Baz, but that was about all I liked. I did like Fangirl a bit more, because I cared what happened to the main character, Cath, and felt invested in what happened to her family and how her romantic life progressed. However, I felt the author was trying to say that Cath was only writing (and a bit obsessed with) Simon and Baz fanfiction, as a way to escape her real life. I don’t write or read much fanfiction, but I don’t necessarily buy into the fact that those who read and write fanfiction are just using those worlds to escape their own.

This was an attempt to add a bit more fantasy and YA into my reading life, but it didn’t really do much for me. I think I will just have to take a break from both genres for a bit.

My Overall Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ¼

A Focus on Authors Reading Challenge

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While listening to an episode of the What Should I Read Next podcast, Anne Bogel had a guest on her show that was focusing on reading one author a month. I would like to challenge myself in 2019 to do the same. I have a lot of books on my TBR shelf that are by certain authors that I haven’t read or have read very little. I have made a list of authors I would like to read with a few book titles to choose from. I don’t expect to read all of the following books, as I have other books to read for book clubs, etc., but I feel this will at least help me become a bit more familiar with authors I keep hearing so much about.

January: Zadie Smith

  • White Teeth
  • On Beauty
  • Swing Time
  • Feel Free: Essays
  • The Embassy of Cambodia

February: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (I thought this would be a good pick for African-American History Month)

  • Americanah
  • We Should All Be Feminists
  • Half of a Yellow Sun
  • Purple Hibiscus
  • Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

March: David McCullough

  • The Johnstown Flood
  • John Adams
  • The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris
  • The Wright Brothers
  • The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal 1870-1914

April: Margaret Atwood 

  • Oryx and Crake
  • Blind Assassin
  • Alias Grace
  • Stone Mattress
  • The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus

May: Kurt Vonnegut

  • Slaughterhouse-Five
  • Galapagos
  • Breakfast of Champions
  • Welcome to the Monkey House
  • Interview w/ Kurt Vonnegut

June: Agatha Christie (I’ve actually read a handful of her mystery novels, but there are so many more I would like to read)

  • Murder is Easy
  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles
  • The A.B.C. Murders
  • Murder in Mesopotamia
  • Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life

July: Bill Bryson

  • Notes from a Small Island
  • The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain
  • Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe
  • Bill Bryson’s African Diary
  • One Summer

August: Rainbow Rowell

  • Fangirl
  • Attachments
  • Landline
  • Carry On
  • Almost Midnight

September: Stephen King (I read my first ever Stephen King in 2018 and enjoyed it enough that I want to read more)

  • Apt Pupil
  • Christine
  • The Body
  • On Writing
  • The Shining

October: Shirley Jackson

  • The Haunting of Hill House
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle
  • The Lottery
  • Dark Tales 
  • Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life

November: Neil Gaiman

  • American Gods
  • Coraline
  • Neverwhere
  • The Graveyard Book
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane

December: Kristin Hannah

  • The Nightingale
  • The Great Alone
  • Fly Away
  • Winter Garden
  • Night Road

I am really looking forward to diving into these works by these amazing authors! What are your favorite authors? If I continue this reading challenge in future years, what authors should be on my list?