Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

I used to be adamant about my distaste for Romance novels. I knew them as the Harlequin Romance novels my mom used to devour alongside Junior Mints on a quiet Sunday afternoon or the bodice rippers one of my friends used to have her nose buried in during high school lunches. I thought they were an inferior literary genre– simple, formulaic, and full of smut, which I did not want to read; in hindsight, I think that perspective was deeply rooted in internalized misogyny. Then a few years back, I read the Flat Share by Beth O’Leary, and my appreciation for Romance literature started to blossom. I’m still learning my preferences when it comes to the genre, so my experience is hit and miss, and unfortunately, my most recent venture into the genre with Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade was a big miss.

Continue reading Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

On a scale of 1-10, this book is a d20|Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern

Even though Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern is a young adult novel, I’m glad I read it as an adult instead of as a teenager. I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much as I do now because I wouldn’t have been able to get over the “labels”. I went to a big high school, you see; cliques were very prominent, and it was important to immerse yourself in one unless you wanted to be ostracized. My kin were the geeks– the band geeks, the gamer geeks, the Anime/Manga nerds, the AP kids (back when you had to be in the top 15% of the class to take Advance Placement classes [honors English ain’t got nothin’ on us!]). For some reason, this gave us a pass to eat lunch with the goth kids or the punk kids (or at least talk to them in the lunch line). Basically, we were an amalgamation of losers, and we were quite proud of that. So…needless to say, this book kind of resonated with me.

Intothe Wild Nerd YonderInto the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern

Released: September 2009
Publisher: Feiwal & Friends
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It’s Jessie’s sophomore year of high school. A self-professed “mathelete,” she isn’t sure where she belongs. Her two best friends have transformed themselves into punks and one of them is going after her longtime crush. Her beloved older brother will soon leave for college (and in the meantime has shaved his mohawk and started dating . . . the prom princess!) . . .

Things are changing fast. Jessie needs new friends. And her quest is a hilarious tour through high-school clique-dom, with a surprising stop along the way—the Dungeons and Dragons crowd, who out-nerd everyone. Will hanging out with them make her a nerd, too? And could she really be crushing on a guy with too-short pants and too-white gym shoes?

If you go into the wild nerd yonder, can you ever come back?

Jessie’s voice was legit

I don’t know how Halpern does it, but she seems to channel the voice of a fifteen year old girl with ease. It’s like she dug through all of my diaries and wrote what it was like to be me. Like, she hasn’t forgotten what it’s like to be infatuated with someone your parents would never approve of (for example, David J., the pale kid with the [stupid] devilock that Bianca and I would inconspicuously stare at from across the outdoor cafeteria during lunchtime…until he dropped out of school) or what it’s like to watch your friends transform into someone you barely recognize (like the first day of 11th grade when Crystal H. dyed her hair black, shaved off her eyebrows, and replaced her Hurley and Billabong clothing with a wardrobe exclusively from Hot Topic [back when they sold counter-culture clothing, not the pop culture clothing they sell now] and started listening only to HIM [Won’t you die tonight for love/Baby join me in death]).

Best sibling relationship ever!

Jessie and Barrett are amazing. There is no sibling rivalry. They just love each other and have a mutual respect for each other, and it shows. PLUS, THE KRISPY KREME DONUT SCENE IS THE BEST!!!

This book almost feels like historical fiction

Only because the smoking section at Denny’s doesn’t even exist in most states now.

I didn’t really understand Jessie’s aversion to Nerdom though

Maybe it’s just a weird timing issue here, but…I thought Nerd was the new black. Like, being a Nerd back in 2004 wasn’t social suicide (or maybe it was, and that’s why I didn’t have very many friends?), so I can’t imagine it was social suicide in 2009. And nowadays, Nerdom is embraced. Praised. Promoted. Or maybe it’s just me. Like…why didn’t anyone ever invite me to play D&D when I was in high school?!

Overall, Into the Wild Nerd Yonder was an excellent read. So excellent I finished it in one sitting, which rarely happens. So basically, I think you need to read this book ASAP!

What high school clique did you belong to back in the day? And, obviously it’s been a while since I was a high schooler myself, so do cliques even exists anymore?

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell Book Review

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell book coverFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Released: September 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
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Synopsis: 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?

My Thoughts

So rare is it that I love a book that has been hyped. Usually, the higher the pedestal, the farther a book has to fall– such was the case with Divergent by Veronica Roth or An Abundance of Katherines by John Green for which there is no link here because I couldn’t make it past page 50. However, I recently read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and the only thing I’m disappointed about is not reading the book sooner so I could fangirl along side the rest of the book blogosphere.

Freshman year of college is a test for all 18 and 19-year-olds, and it’s no different for Cath, who is a new student at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska*. At least she can rely on her twin sister, Wren, also a freshman at the University of Nebraska, to help her navigate the microcosm that is a university campus and being away from home for the first time…right? But, when Wren chooses to embrace the college life that includes the drinking and the boys and the rowdy parties, Cather slips into the fan fiction world of Simon Snow (read: Harry Potter) that’s safe and comfortable and already accepting of her. Unexpectedly, her sassy roommate, Reagan, and her sassy roommate’s attachment/unattachment, Levi, draw Cath out of her shell.

I think Cath is going to be one of those rare female characters who empowers her readers. Like the way Hermione Granger made being intelligent and a bookworm totally awesome, Cath will make reading and writing and being snarky and being nerdy totally awesome. Plus, she’s easy to relate to. She’s cynical and insecure and scared, but she’s also introverted and witty and passionate, and as I kept flipping pages, I kept thinking, “That’s me. Cath is me!”

Then, we’re finally given a love interest that isn’t a “bad boy with a heart of gold” because those don’t actually exist. Trust me, the bad boy will always be a jerk (especially in college), and you’re just being blinded by his manly sideburns and five o’clock shadow. Levi is a nice guy— the kind that offers to walk with you at night even though it’s cold outside because he wants to make sure you feel safe, the kind that will drive you home no matter the distance or the road conditions, the kind that will encourage you to embrace and ramble on about your (nerdy) passions. He’s not compared to Adonis; in fact, he’s got lines in his forehead and a bit of a receding hairline, and he probably has a farmer’s tan too from working hard out in the sun! He’s still handsome and he’s charming (of course, he’s from the midwest), but more importantly, he’s the kind of you guy you cannot wait to see or talk to over the phone because he just sort of makes awful days melt away or he makes you feel like the most important person in the room or he makes you feel like yourself again. I know someone kind of like Levi, and perhaps that is why the relationship that develops between Cath and Levi gives me butterflies in my stomach. Plus, the romance happened organically, which is refreshing in a world of love triangles that don’t make sense and instant, unfettering “love” amongst teenagers.

As much as I loved Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, I have to admit that I did actually skips parts of this book, which I don’t often do. Each chapter starts with an excerpt from the Simon Snow novel, or Cath’s fan fiction, or newspaper clippings discussing the pop culture phenomenon. Then, there were several pages where Cath was reading her fan fiction out loud, and I pretty much skipped all of that. The integration of Cath’s Simon Snow fan fiction was cool at first, but after a while I became bored by it, and I felt it was distracting from the story that I truly wanted to read– Cath’s college experience.

Still, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell earns a solid four stars from me for multifaceted, perfectly imperfect characters, a charming romance, and a realistic portrayal of college and falling in love for the first time. Thank you Rainbow Rowell for giving the world Cather Avery.

*I think it’s really cool that this story takes place in Nebraska, one of the most underrated states in the US. Who writes about Nebraska?