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I’m a big fan of Rainbow Rowell. It seems like all of her books affect me much more than those from other authors. I can count on one hand all the times I’ve cried while reading in recent memory… and her books are all but one. Now I’ve been sitting here for the last two weeks, trying to put my thoughts into words. It’s not going well, but I’m trying.

Eleanor is an outcast. She’s targeted by almost everyone because of her weight, her clothes, her flaming red hair. Her home life is awful – her father couldn’t care less about her, and her mother married an awful man who makes no move to hide his hatred of Eleanor. Their family lives in a dilapidated two-bedroom home, where Eleanor shares a bedroom with her four siblings and their bathroom doesn’t even have a door. They don’t even have money for things like toothpaste and shampoo. But Eleanor is strong, and she’ll put up with whatever she has to until she can get out on her own.

Park is the only Asian kid at his high school. He loves comic books and the kind of music his classmates don’t listen to. This makes him a bit of an outcast too. But his home life is pretty good. His parents love him, and each other, and although they don’t see eye to eye all the time, he knows they’re looking out for his best interests. At first, Park wants nothing to do with Eleanor. She’s the weird girl who constantly sits next to him on the bus. But when Park notices Eleanor reading his comics over his shoulder, a beautiful friendship – and, eventually, love – begins to form.

In each other, Eleanor and Park find a very sweet, loving relationship that is based on what’s inside rather than physical appearances. Their relationship builds and builds and builds… until it doesn’t. The ending, while it made sense in the context, disappointed me. What had been so carefully constructed fell apart, and no amount of quirky references or adorable love scenes could quite make up for that.

Still, Eleanor & Park is highly recommended.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #38: a book that made you cry.

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When he applied for his job, Lincoln didn’t know that “internet security officer” meant “email snooper.” He thought he’d be doing something cool at the newspaper, something to brag about, not writing citations for forwarding chain emails. He doesn’t enjoy his job, not at all. Not until emails from Beth and Jennifer start filling up his folder of flagged messages.

Beth and Jennifer send emails to each other about everythingexcept work. It’s a direct violation of company policy, and Lincoln knows he should give them written warnings, but he just can’t – then how would he keep up with their witty conversations? It isn’t long before he starts falling for Beth, but how would he ever explain how he knows her?

I swear, only Rainbow Rowell can make me fall for an email-snooper who, at 28 years old, still lives with his mother. And not only that, he’s been pining over his high school girlfriend for almost a decade, and his only friends are the people he playsDungeons & Dragons with on the weekends. Somehow, when Rainbow writes a character like this, he’s endearing, not creepy.

The story is so unique, unlike anything I’ve read recently (or maybe ever). It’s not your average chick-lit. In fact, it might not be chick-lit at all. It took a little while to get into, and the ending wrapped up a little too quickly for my taste, but overall it was a very good book, a very quick read, and I would highly recommend to anybody who likes quirky characters. Oh, and it’s a definite must for fans of Rainbow Rowell’s other novels.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

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I was somehow lucky enough to win an advance copy of Landline. Thank you to Goodreads and the publisher – this may be the best book I’ve read all year.

Georgie’s marriage is in crisis. Her dream is coming true – the show she and her best friend have been working on for years finally has a chance at being picked up, but they need to write four episodes asap. The problem? It’s almost Christmas, and she and her family are all set to go visit her husband’s mom in Nebraska. When Georgie tells Neal that she can’t come, she knows he’ll be upset. She’s choosing work – and her best friend Seth – over him… again. She doesn’t expect that he’ll pack up the kids and go to Nebraska without her. She doesn’t expect that he won’t even pick up his cell phone when she calls. One night after he’s left, she digs through the closet of her childhood bedroom to find her old rotary phone. She calls from her mother’s landline to Neal’s parents’ landline and finally reaches Neal… in 1998.

I don’t want to say too much, since this book won’t even be released for another month and a half, but Rainbow Rowell did not let me down. Landline was everything I hoped for and more, and I had a really hard time putting it down. My thoughts on it are mostly just a mess and I don’t think I can do it justice in a review.

Final rating: ★★★★★

[also posted here]

Note: Now through May 30, anyone with a Goodreads account can enter to win a free copy here.