Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

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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 sets 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 Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a love letter to love stories and the power of words – to every ‘chosen one’ who ever had more on their mind than saving the world…


“You have to pretend you get an endgame. You have to carry on like you will; otherwise, you can’t carry on at all.”

Rainbow Rowell, Carry On


About the Book

Carry On is a spinoff of sorts to Rainbow Rowell’s book Fangirl – though it can be read on its own. It is based around a teen named Simon Snow who was orphaned as a young child and turned out to be a wizard. The story picks up in Simon’s last year at Watford School of Magicks – a year where he’s still confused as to why he’s been labeled the “Chosen One.” He’s not very good at magick and he has always felt like a fraud. On top of that, there’s a great evil force out there who is after him and it has the world of magicks split. Add in his missing roommate and Simon knows that his final year at school is definitely going to be a rocky one.

Characters

I think most avid readers will agree that it’s nice to see some diversity in books – whether it be characters of different nationalities, characters of different body types, or characters with different sexual orientations. It’s always great to see an author who isn’t afraid to create a diverse cast of characters. Rainbow Rowell definitely does this in pretty much all aspects. We encounter LGBT+ relationships, different nationalities, and different body types – which is great considering the cast of this book is quite large.

Another thing about the characters in this book is how family oriented they are. They might not all be very fond of their families, but their families are definitely present regardless. It’s very relatable in a genre that can be hard to personally connect to in the sense of actions that are taken throughout the plot.

Overall Reaction and Rating

Going into this book, I didn’t know much about it. I’ve never read Fangirl (though it is high on my TBR now) so I had no clue about the connection of these two books. I’d been recommended Rainbow Rowell’s work over and over. So, I just picked a random one and jumped in blind. And at first, all I could see was the similarities to the Harry Potter series. I was pretty worried it was going to be a copycat til I stopped reading and did a little research into the plot of the book. After that, though, things panned out fine for me with this book. It’s definitely *not* a copycat of Harry Potter. The world is similar, but the story stands completely on its own.

I completely fell in love with this book. The characters are so well rounded and different. The plot takes a bit to pick up since the first quarter or so of the book works a lot on world building. However, hanging in there with it is very worth it. The plot picks up quickly with a couple of plot twists and it doesn’t slow down again. There are so many twists and turns that it’s hard to determine exactly how the ending will come out. The twist at the end will probably shock you a bit – but what reader doesn’t love a good shock? And the ending is very fulfilling. This book was so good, in my opinion, that I actually picked it up and read it a second time not long after finishing it the first time. It was hard not to. It’s truly a story to fall in love with. I picked this book up at the library, but definitely will be purchasing my own copy in the very near future.

Overall, I’ve given Carry On by Rainbow Rowell 5 out 5 stars.

Christmas Book Recommendations for Little Ones

Every year around this time, I start picking out Christmas storybooks to read. I mostly do it because even as a woman in my 20s, I still enjoy the stories. I have an inner child that comes to life this time of year. However, I do it so that I can recommend them to my parent friends as well. This year, I decided to bring my recommendations to the web. The storybooks I’ve picked out this year will be most appropriate for younger children – probably between the ages 2 and 6 or 7. I know I’m getting these recommendations out quite late. So, if you can’t get to your local bookstore to pick these gems up for your children, I’ll be linking you to each one on Amazon. The Kindle versions are great – anywhere between $0 and $4. **Disclaimer: I am not an Amazon affiliate and am in no way being paid for these recommendations.

So, with that, let’s get to it:

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The Little Blue Digger and the Christmas Tree by Harriet Tuppen & Branislav Gapic

This story is perfect for the little boy in your life. The characters are adorable construction equipment vehicles. It’s very reminiscent of Disney’s Cars. The illustrations are so nice – very colorful and the facial expressions drawn on the characters are just so lively. They will capture your child’s attention. And if that’s not enough, it’s got a great theme of friendship at Christmastime. Your child will learn that friendship is so important and should really be celebrated at Christmas. The Kindle version is just $2.99 and you can purchase it here.
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Harry the Christmas Mouse by N.G.K. – Illustrated by Janelle Dimmett

This next sweet story is written in verse and is very reminiscent of The Night Before Christmas. It’s about a mouse who takes a stroll on Christmas Eve and finds a stranded Santa Claus. It has bright, beautiful illustrations that you’ll oo and ah over. This story is so full of friendship and the real meaning of Christmas. It’s not one you and your child will soon forget. And, it’s FREE on Kindle right now. You can snag it here.

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Santa’s Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right Night Before Christmas by DK Simoneau & David Radman – Illustrated by Brad Cornelius

This story, by far, is my favorite out of the three. It is written in verse and is a new take on The Night Before Christmas. It is so quirky and will have you and your child laughing and wondering what will happen at the end of the wild adventure. The illustrations are vibrant and vivid. They will catch your attention and draw you further into the story. It is easily as memorable as The Night Before Christmas. It is the most expensive out of the 3 books – at $3.99 for the Kindle, but it is well worth the price. You can purchase it here.

 

I hope you’ll pick one of these up for your child. I believe the would enjoy each and every one of them. If you decide to get any of them, let me know how you liked them in the comments. And until next time, take care and happy holidays.

Review: Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between

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If you know me, you’ll know that I rarely read non-fiction. But I tend to have a soft spot for autobiographies written by famous people that I adore. It’s been years since I picked one up though. I think the last one was one written by Johnny Cash – and that was back in 2009. However, pretty soon after watching Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, I found out that Lauren Graham had written an autobiography of sorts. And I think I adore Lauren even more than Johnny Cash – so, I knew I had to pick this book up.

First and foremost, if you are a Gilmore Girls fan, you will love this. Seriously, just go pick it up. You’ll adore it almost as much as the show. Lauren is so quirky and has a beautiful sense of humor that shines throughout this entire book. Each chapter mostly consists of anecdotes from points throughout her life. And in these chapters, you really get a sense of Lauren – but not just Lauren as Lauren. You get a sense of every character Lauren has played – especially Lorelai Gilmore. You can see how each and every role has shaped her throughout this entire book and it is beautiful.

I read a few reviews throughout my time reading this book and there are quite a few people who were disappointed. They are, of course, entitled to their opinions. I noticed that most of the low-rated reviews stemmed from disappointment from the original Gilmore Girls chapter. I will warn you – don’t go into this chapter expecting much. Lauren has stated in so many interviews since the show that she doesn’t remember much from season to season. She doesn’t have a ton of personal stories to share because it was all such a blur to her. And I think this is completely understandable with as much work went into filming Gilmore Girls. If you go into this book, I think you should go into it wanting to learn more about Lauren herself. She does give us a lot of insight into the Gilmore Girls life, but this book encompasses her life as a whole – growing up wanting to be an actress, her different roles on different shows and movies, her authoring Someday, Someday, Maybe and everything in between – as the title so aptly describes.

It’s been awhile since I flew through a book of any sort – but especially a non-fiction one. Lauren wrote this book so eloquently. I couldn’t help but hear her voice coming through while reading the entire book. I craved more as I read more. By the last 9 chapters, I couldn’t put the book down. The main thing I love is all the advice Lauren imparts to not only actors, but us creative types in general. There is so much to gain from Lauren Graham and she gives so much of it to us in this book. I recommend this book to anyone who is a Gilmore Girls fan, a Parenthood fan, or a Lauren Graham fan in general. I also recommend it to any and all creative types – whether you’re doing it for fun, trying to break into your creative profession, or are already established. Pick up this book. I give it a 5 out of 5 stars.

 

**Side note: The last chapter has lots of spoilers about Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. So, if you haven’t seen it yet, do so – then pick up this beautiful book.

Review: Midnight Confessions by Robyn Carr

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Learning to Move On

Moving on when you feel so broken can be one of the hardest things a person can do. We have to learn from our mistakes and accept that we can be better people and move on to a better life. We learn to realize that sometimes things aren’t meant to be. This is the theme throughout Robyn Carr’s novella Midnight Confessions.

Plot

Sunny and Drew have both been through pretty rough breakups in the past year. Both intended on spending the rest of their lives with their partners and have been spending the past few months trying to figure out exactly where things went wrong. When they meet at the New Year’s Eve party in small town Virgin River, it seems like they would be a good fit. However, when Drew approaches Sunny, it’s clear that she’s not quite ready to move on from the man who left her at the altar exactly a year ago. Drew doesn’t give up so easily though. Smitten by Sunny, he works to get her to open up and try to take on a new outlook as the midnight hour approaches. A new life for a new year.

Characters

Sunny and Drew are so rounded and down to earth in this story. They have no problem admitting that they are flawed, but know that they each have something to offer in a relationship. On top of that, they are both so driven by their passions and are respectful of each other. They make the sweetest pair as they discover more about each other throughout the story. Neither sees the other as perfect, but also know that that isn’t important because nobody is.

Reviewer’s Thoughts

This was a great New Year’s story. You could really feel the atmosphere of the approaching new year. Resolutions were being made, laughter and reminiscing was occurring, and it was just overall a very joyful story. The story only spans a single night, but it had a great pace. The story unfolded with flashbacks that propelled the story forwards. As the two main characters confessed their issues with the past year to each other, they both began discovering things they’d never seen before. It was so great how supportive they were of each other throughout this time.
I only have one qualm about this story – and it occurred within the last couple of chapters. I felt like Sunny’s self revelations unfolded way too suddenly. One minute she was of one opinion about her wedding day and the next she was saying the exact opposite. It was just way too sudden with no real backing to the realization. Other than this though, I felt this was an amazing story. The characters weren’t confessing their love for each other by the end of the night, but they were open to trying something new and seeing where the new year took them. It was sweet and ended beautifully. I recommend this story for anyone looking for a quick, sweet, well-written holiday romance. In the end, I give this story 4 out of 5 stars.

Review: Under the Christmas Tree by Robyn Carr

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Unexpected Events

It’s usually the unexpected events in life that bring us close to the people we come to love in our lives. This is exactly what happens to the main couple Annie and Nate in the cozy Christmas story that is Under the Christmas Tree by Robyn Carr.

Plot

When Annie makes a quick pit stop in Virgin River on her way to do annual Christmas baking with her parents, she didn’t expect to discover a box of cute, but pitiful abandoned puppies under the town Christmas tree. And when she called the vet to the cozy, local bar to check the near-death puppies over, she wasn’t expecting the young, very handsome Nate Jenson in place of his father (the previous vet). Most of all though, she didn’t expect to spark his interest – especially after overhearing him talking about his upcoming vacation where he’d be surrounded by a sea of tiny bikinis. But spark his interest, she did. With the commitment to care for the puppies keeping them together for weeks on end, their lives began to change and their interest in each other only grew.

Characters

Annie and Nate are both really just down to earth people. They basically grew up in the same circle – living in the same small town. Due to the slight age difference though, they never really got to know each other. However, now that they’re grown, that isn’t an issue anymore. In fact, they are both quite surprised to see how much each of them has changed in the years since their childhood. They make quite a cute couple as they spend more and more time together. They get along and have quite a bit in common, but not so much so that they seem like the same character.

Reviewer’s Thoughts

This little Christmas novella was a very sweet, quick read. However, I did have some qualms with it. One of which was the pacing. Being a novella, the story was less than 150 pages. The story spans approximately 3 weeks which is quite a bit of time to space out over such a short amount of pages. Throughout the whole story, I felt like I was time hopping and missing large chunks of Nate and Annie’s relationship developing. This almost made it seem like it was more insta-romance even though they did fall for each other over a somewhat respectable amount of time. Another problem I had with the story was the lack of Christmas. Early on, the holiday really filled their air of the story. Annie found the puppies under a snowy Christmas tree and the cozy bar they kept the puppies at was quaintly decorated for Christmas. However, after the first 30-ish pages, I lost all sense of the holiday in the story – which was odd considering it was the main time setting for the story. My final problem with the story was lack of conflict. I don’t always expect there to be a physical conflict in a romance story. However, there really wasn’t much of an emotional one in this story either. Annie had some trust issues, but they seemed to be easily dismissed and there really weren’t any other problems. The story really was just very convenient and full of very convenient plot points.

Overall, Under the Christmas Tree was a cute, quick read. It didn’t hold much sustenance and I suspect by New Year, I won’t remember much about it. For this reason, I give it 2.5 stars.