Review: Any Way the Wind Blows (#3) by Rainbow Rowell

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In Any Way the Wind Blows, Simon and Baz and Penelope and Agatha have to decide how to move forward.
For Simon, that means deciding whether he still wants to be part of the World of Mages — and if he doesn’t, what does that mean for his relationship with Baz? Meanwhile Baz is bouncing between two family crises and not finding any time to talk to anyone about his newfound vampire knowledge. Penelope would love to help, but she’s smuggled an American Normal into London, and now she isn’t sure what to do with him. And Agatha? Well, Agatha Wellbelove has had enough.
Any Way the Wind Blows takes the gang back to England, back to Watford, and back to their families for their longest and most emotionally wrenching adventure yet.
This book is a finale. It tells secrets and answers questions and lays ghosts to rest.

It’s been a while since I read the first (and second!) book in this series, but I was excited to dive back in and I didn’t find myself too confused by the story. I listened to this one as an audiobook, which I enjoyed and made this 500+ page book quite a lot less daunting. My only complaint is I feel like it would have gained quite a lot by being a full-cast audio (or even just by having a couple of narrators).

When I read the first book, I absolutely fell in love with it. Many years later, this series didn’t quite live up to my hopes, but I did still enjoy this one. It felt quite comforting, and I found I liked Baz and Simon’s romance almost as much as I used to. I did find this one a little more risque than I expected for a teen book, though!

What a ridiculous creature. Happy that I put butter on his sandwich. 

I’ve always quite enjoyed the characters, and the found family element of this book. Even though the narration could have done with a full cast, I did really like the multiple Points of View, and I didn’t feel like any detracted from the story.

My biggest, and really only major criticism about this book is I felt like it was lacking in a clear plot. Although I could see where the story was going, it almost felt like there was a lot of smaller elements to the book rather than a big plot point. These books have always felt quite high stakes and high action, and this one just let me down slightly in that aspect.

 As if I wouldn’t make the world spin backwards if I thought he’d like it better that way.

Overall, I did really enjoy this one, though, and I’m glad I read it. There’s a lot to love about this series, especially SImon and Baz!

4 out of 5 stars


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Review: Runaways Vol 1: Find Your Way Home by Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka


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The “IT” book of the early 2000s with the original cast is back–Nico! Karolina! Molly! Chase! Old Lace! And, could it be…GERT?!
The heart of the Runaways died years ago, but you won’t believe how she returns! Superstar author Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park, Carry On) makes her Marvel debut with fan-favorite artist Kris Anka (ALL-NEW X-MEN, CAPTAIN MARVEL) in the series that will shock you and break your heart! Did Chase and Gert’s love survive their time apart? Have Karolina and Nico’s feelings made their friendship impossible? What emotional landmines lie in wait to DESTROY the Runaways?!

Watch me take a side step into the word of Marvel, maybe ever so slightly encouraged by my boyfriend and the fact that Rainbow Rowell wrote these comics? I stumbled across this collection sometime last year, and became really intrigued by it. A comic by Rainbow Rowell? Count me in. After talking about it to my boyfriend Mark, and having a conversation about Rainbow’s slightly surprising pairing with Kris Anka for this collection, he decided to buy me the first two volumes for my birthday last year.

I must start by saying I absolutely adored the idea of this. A found family, who all seem completely wacky, are drawn together after years of being apart. Honestly, this cast of characters felt really reminiscent of the Scooby Doo gang for me and I’m not entirely sure why. I just feel like I can picture them all riding about in the Mystery Machine.

I also fell in love with the art style, which is so visually appealing – the colours are vibrant and really beautiful. The story itself is fast paced and entertaining, and I feel like that, along with the dialog, paints a good introductory picture of the runaways gang. I definitely think you can jump into this story as I did, with no prior knowledge of Runaways, or even Marvel at large.

There's No Place Like Home (Runaways vol. 5 #05 Review) - Comic Watch
Copyright Marvel 2018

The only qualm I had with this story is I found I didn’t feel quite as close to the characters as I’d have wanted to, and almost like I was missing something from the story itself. I’m not sure how much of this is because I was aware of this being a lets-get-the-band-back-together style sequel, or if some of it is Rowell’s writing. I’d be interested to see how differently I felt about this if I read the original series first. I would like to point out again, however, that I didn’t feel lost in the story in any way and felt like I Rowell did a really good job of rounding up the original series for us. I just felt like I couldn’t quite sympathise with the characters as much as I hoped I would.

That being said, this did include a couple of emotive scenes that melted my heart, and the whole collection made me really excited to carry on with these and find out where the Runaways story goes.

3.5 out of 5 stars


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Review: Fangirl Vol. 1: The Manga by Sam Maggs, Rainbow Rowell + Gabi Nam


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Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, everybody is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath just can’t let go…
Cath doesn’t need friends IRL. She has her twin sister, Wren, and she’s a popular fanfic writer in the Simon Snow community with thousands of fans online. But now that she’s in college, Cath is completely outside of her comfort zone. There are suddenly all these new people in her life. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming boyfriend, a writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome new writing partner…

As soon as I found out there was a Fangirl manga coming out, I knew I wanted to read it. I haven’t read Fangirl in a really long time, but I really enjoyed it and thought this would be a great way to revisit the story. However, I’m finding it so hard to discuss or rate this book because it felt like an odd re-read of the first part of the Fangirl book.

The manga stays very faithful to the original story, and I couldn’t pick anything up that felt different (although it has been a long time since I read it). I did enjoy the art style and I felt like the story fit the art style well. It was very expressive and the characters looked exactly how I pictured them – especially Cath. I really liked seeing Cath in picture format and I could really feel her emotions leap off the page. I also feel like this can really stand alone as a manga without knowing the original story at all.

Check out the first 20 pages of the FANGIRL Manga! | The Fandom
Copyright Viz Media (2020)

I also really enjoyed seeing Snowbaz in this format and I felt like it fit them well. However, I did feel like the way Simon Snow’s story was blended into Cath’s story felt a little jumpy and didn’t always fit too well. I liked each in their own right a lot, but they didn’t quite work as well as the prose version in my opinion.

I’m both excited and apprehensive to see where this series goes as a manga, as I feel like there are parts of the Fangirl original story that I will find questionable as a reader now and would have turned a blind eye to when I read the story before. However, I do want to see where this manga goes and I am enjoying the style of it!

3.5 out of 5 stars


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Review: Wayward Son (#2) by Rainbow Rowell

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Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after…
So why can’t Simon Snow get off the couch?
What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light…
That’s how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West.
They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place…

Alex and I decided to buddy read this book, which I’m really happy about because it has been out for a year and I still hadn’t picked it up! I usually find it difficult to motivate myself to pick up the second book in a series so long after the first one, but I actually found reading a quick summary online was enough for me with this series. I don’t remember Carry On in much detail, but I remember enough of the characters and big plot points that it was okay!

I found this book so fun. I didn’t manage to read for a couple of days in the middle of the week due to just being busy with other things, but I managed to catch up on Thursday evening/Friday just because it was so quick and easy to read. The action was such a high for me in this book. It was so ludicrous and entertaining and it made me fly through the chapters. I remember loving the action in Carry On, and the writing style definitely continues in this one.

I’d give him all that I am.
I’d give him all that I was.

The characters were great, and I loved reading about them. Shepard, who is a new character who joins possibly around halfway, I loved. He was so quirky and fun and such a great addition to the series! I always love when the second book in a series has a new character because it just adds something new and interesting. I really liked Baz and Simon and I’ve always loved reading about their relationship. I also found it really interesting to read about them while their relationship wasn’t that perfect all the time, yet they still loved each other. Because it was real.

Alex and I had a few slight problems with this book, however, that we both picked up on. For a start, the characters just seem utterly clueless about America. I understand that some British people may not know that much about it, but there are a few comments the characters make seem really odd? For example, they don’t seem to know the drinking age is 21, or have any idea how big America is compared to England. There was also a really odd comment about animal products which as a vegan, I found incredibly strange in the wording.

I’d open up a vein.
I’d tie our hearts together, chamber by chamber.

I really enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected, but I found a few small problems with it that knocked down my rating slightly. If you’re looking for a road trip book full of magic and adventure, this book is definitely for you!

4 out of 5 stars


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Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell


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It’s 1999 and the internet is still a novelty. At a newspaper office, two colleagues, Beth and Jennifer, e-mail back and forth, discussing their lives in hilarious details, from love troubles to family dramas. And Lincoln, a shy IT guy responsible for monitoring e-mails, spends his hours reading every exchange.
At first their e-mails offer a welcome diversion, but the more he reads, the more he finds himself falling for one of them. By the time Lincoln realises just how head-over-heels he is, it’s too late to introduce himself.
After a series of close encounters, Lincoln eventually decides he must follow his heart… and find out if there is such a thing as love before first sight.

This was my first read for my N.E.W.T.s TBR and I’m so glad it was because it was such a quick and enjoyable read. I’ve now read everything major Rainbow Rowell has written, and I don’t have a bad word to say about any of them. They all have soft spots in my heart for very different reasons, but Landline and Attachments do for their quirkiness.

Attachments follows Lincoln, who takes a job where he reads people’s work emails and feels creepy about it. Especially when he starts reading the exchanges of best friends Jennifer and Beth, he feels even more uncomfortable when he starts to fall for one of them.

I mean, evidently this book was made for me. Not only am I called Beth, but I was born in 1999! It was weird reading about the year of my birth, but also kind of nostalgic and super interesting. Having the book set in ’99 gave it so many quirks you wouldn’t see today, let alone the whole email concept and Y2K thing itself.

‘“I’d know you in the dark,” he said. “From a thousand miles away.”‘ 

Jennifer and Beth were immediately likeable and funny characters. The chapters are pretty much alternate between Lincoln’s prose and Jennifer and Beth’s emails. All of the chapters are short, but the fact Jennifer and Beth’s parts were shown in email form made it such a quick read for me and didn’t take anything away from the story. I still sympathised with them and found them both very relatable.

In fact, the entire cast of characters were just brilliant. Lincoln is so charming and lovable, and we can’t possibly feel weird about him reading Beth and Jennifer’s emails because we’re reading them too. It’s all very cleverly executed.

The larger cast was so heartwarming, too. I loved Jennifer’s subplot and really grew to like and sympathise with her. Lincoln’s weird but likeable friends were so great and different in their own ways. His mum, sister and Doris made me laugh and warmed my soul.

‘”There’s nothing you could become that I haven’t already fallen in love with.”’

Honestly, I didn’t expect to enjoy this as much as I did. Rainbow Rowell has a habit of writing somewhat cheesy romances that have just been….elevated. It was awesome, and made me nostalgic for Landline!

5 out of 5 stars


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Review: My True Love Gave to Me – Various Authors


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On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me …This beautiful collection features twelve gorgeously romantic stories set during the festive period, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. The stories are filled with the magic of first love and the magic of the holidays.

As this book is full of little stories, I’m going to review them all separately! This was such a fun read and it was perfect for the festive season.

Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell – 5 out of 5 stars
Let’s start this on a high! I’ve read this short story before and it’s honestly brilliant, 26 pages flies by with this year-by-year tale. It’s so simple but focuses on the characters which I adored, the ability to build characters in such a short amount of time is incredible. Perfect for New Year, as it’s set on New Year’s Eve hence the title!

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link – 2 out of 5 stars
Honestly, this one really didn’t do it for me. The only real positive is that it did have a Christmassy feel, but otherwise it was downright confusing and a little weird. I’m all for a little weird, but I just didn’t know what was going on. At all.

Angels in the Snow by Matt De La Pena – 4 out of 5 stars
This story was so cute! I’m all for Christmas fantasy, but adorable festive contemporary romance is where its at. This story is one of Shy and the girl upstairs over Christmas, and it manages to not only be cute but be raw and honest and kind of beautiful in such a short amount of pages.

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han – 4 out of 5 stars
This story was so overwhelmingly Christmassy! You can’t get much better than a story set in the North Pole for Christmas, surrounded by elves. I liked the protagonist, Natalie, who was the only human to ever live in the North Pole. It made such a unique story which was so fun to read!

It’s a Yuletide Miracle… by Stephanie Perkins – 5 out of 5 stars
Perkins does it again! I remember this from Summer Days and Summer Nights – if anyone can write an amazing short, it’s Perkins. This story was unique, with likeable characters and a beautiful backdrop. I would read a whole book about these two happily.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan – 4 out of 5 stars
I always find levithan a little hit and miss, but I really enjoyed this story! It’s about a guy called Connor who asks his boyfriend to dress up as santa to keep Christmas magic alive for his little sister. It was a really cute contemporary with a cast of different characters who I enjoyed reading about, however I do feel like too many conversations with different characters were fitted into a very short story!

Krampuslauf by Holly Black – 3 out of 5 stars
I’m really not sure how to feel about this one. Build up a quirky contemporary with a group of friends and a New Year’s party on a trailer park, throw some drama in and then sprinkle it with magic. I think the magic was my main issue, because it just felt forced and like a last minute edition. It threw the story off kilter and threw me off too. Very weird.

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman – 4 out of 5 stars
Contemporary romance definitely suits festive short stories better than contemporary and a weird mix of fantasy. I’m still holding out for a full on fantasy though? Anyway, Forman really brought out holiday cheer with carol singers and pie and a little twist with Hannukah which I loved! It’s the story of (surprise) Sophie Roth, a college student who isnt yet home for Christmas. Its about new discoveries and making mistakes, and although it wasn’t perfect, I damn well enjoyed it!

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire – 3.5 out of 5 stars
I can’t say I disliked this story, it was Christmassy enough and enjoyable. But I just found it strange and I felt so disconnected to the characters! It followed a guy who had to do community service for a church at Christmas, which was an interesting concept but it just wasn’t all there for me!

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten white – 5 out of 5 stars
Yes! I didn’t think I would find another story to match Stephanie Perkins, but this one sure did. It follows the story of a girl who lives in Christmas, CA and their Christmas traditions. It was heartwarming, heartbreaking and heartfelt. All in 40 pages.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter – 4 out of 5 stars
Another story, another Christmassy town ! I really enjoyed this one too, although it lacked the depth that made me love Welcome to Christmas, CA so much. Still a unique and heartwarming tale of a girl trying to escape her life and ends up finding a family of her own.

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – 2 out of 5 stars
This was so weird?? I don’t even know what was going on? I stand by the fact that fantasy doesn’t work as well as contemporary in these kinds of situations usually – world building just isn’t possible in 30 pages. I didn’t properly understand the world or the story, therefore I didn’t enjoy it. The pages were used to explain the town rather than the characters, and I related only to the protagonist. It didn’t feel Christmassy either! It did have a satisfying ending, however.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and it was perfect to start the New Year with. Although the stories are very mixed, it’s great to give new authors a chance with books like this one. Sure, I didn’t enjoy a few but that’s bound to happen. And I loved a number of stories enough to rate this book highly! I’ll definitely be giving some of these a re-read next Christmas.

4 out of 5 stars


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