‘Eleanor & Park’ – Rainbow Rowell

I had already read two books of Rainbow Rowell and while they didn’t blow me away, I still liked them. But according to many people, Eleanor & Park is her best work. I didn’t need more to convince me to read this book.

rowell_ep_usWhat is this story about? 

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

My rating: 3/5

What I thought of it?

I really liked this story and the main characters Eleanor and Park in general. While it might seem like another teenage love story, this book definitely isn’t. There is so much more to it. But sadly, I felt like that “much more” that there is, wasn’t fully explored.

Eleanor doesn’t live in a perfect family and her stepdad is the worst person alive. That fact just gives so much opportunities for the story, but it’s a little bit pushed to the background sometimes even though it’s the biggest “thing” that stands between Eleanor and Park. Maybe the author wanted to focus more on their relationship as a couple then the family relationships Eleanor has, I don’t know.

Nonetheless, it’s a really lovely book about a real relationship that isn’t all flowers and sunshine. I really loved Eleanor and Park together. They were the cutest and many times I was just giggling over them. I loved how they met and how their relationship developped. And their nerdy side is just amazing.

But on the other side, there were often moments where I didn’t understand Eleanor. Especially in the end. I won’t spoil anything, but it just kinda sucked. So on that part, I sometimes didn’t like Eleanor. But Park, god, he’s such an amazing, caring character. There probably isn’t a single flaw in that boy. He also had the loveliest parents even though they also had their flawed moments. But that’s only realistic. And as much as I loved Park’s parents, that’s how much I hated Eleanor’s. It would be obvious to hate Richie most, but I hate Eleanor’s mom most for letting her children live like that. And then Eleanor’s dad, who just doesn’t care is equally bad. God, I hate people like them. Like hate with the capital H. Yeah, that much.

To finish; kinda spoilerish; this book has an open ending and I have a love/hate relationship with those. On the one hand I hate that I don’t get closure when finishing a book, but on the other hand I love that I can let the characters live on in my head and let them have the ending that I want. But still, open endings sometimes suck and sometimes I just want to know what the author had in mind for them.

Anyway, this is once a again a story that reads really smoothly and everyone who loves a nerdy romance with a little bit or angst will probably love this book.

Until next time,

With love,

Ellen

‘Chasing Brooklyn’ – Lisa Schroeder

Once again a book that intrigued me immediately with its summary. On top of that, Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder is written in verse. I haven’t read anything in verse for a long time, and I was looking forward to giving it another try.

Chasing-Brooklyn

 

What is this story about?

Brooklyn can’t sleep. Her boyfriend, Lucca, died only a year ago, and now her friend Gabe has just died of an overdose. Every time she closes her eyes, Gabe’s ghost is there waiting for her. She has no idea what he wants or why it isn’t Lucca visiting her dreams.

Nico can’t stop. He’s always running, trying to escape the pain of losing his brother, Lucca. But when Lucca’s ghost begins leaving messages, telling Nico to help Brooklyn, emotions come crashing to the surface.

As the nightmares escalate and the messages become relentless, Nico reaches out to Brooklyn. But neither of them can admit that they’re being haunted. Until they learn to let each other in, not one soul will be able to rest.

My rating? 3/5

What I thought of it? 

Once again, the use of verse to tell a story left me hanging. I wanted more. To get to know the characters more. More details. More depth. Especially with characters like these, who have been through so much and are bombared by so many emotions, the verse format just doesn’t tell you enough about them as a person and how they cope with it all.

Nonetheless, I still liked the story. It hit a bit close to home – which scared me at first – but now I’m happy that I read it. It shows a way of how to deal with grief and gives you a message to move on in life, even when you feel like you can’t.

The characters itself are also really interesting, so I found it sad that I couldn’t get a better insight in them. Even though the book is over 400 pages, the actual story is pretty short and I feel like there was so much more to it. But still, Lisa managed to pull the whole verse-thing off. This story reads like a train and you can’t stop reading. The chapters are really short and every time I found myself telling myself “only one more chapter”.

So while the story lacks, it’s still beautiful in it’s own way. If you want to read something different, I’d definitely recommend this book.

Until next time,

With love, Ellen

‘Sempre: Redemption’ – J.M. Darhower

Immediately after finishing the first book in this series, I couldn’t wait to start Sempre: Redemption by J.M. Darhower. Unfortunately for me, it hadn’t arrived until last week, so I had to wait a bit before reading the second part of  this amazing series. (For those who haven’t Sempre yet and don’t want to be spoiled, I recommend to stop reading here because the summary of the second one will spoil the first book for you.)

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What is this story about?

Haven Antonelli and Carmine DeMarco have been through a lot. Haven was taken in by Carmine’s father, and with his family’s help, she escaped a gruesome fate. However, saving Haven from the dark intentions of a mafia family cost Carmine a steep price: he was forced to swear loyalty to them.

Now, still passionately in love, Carmine and Haven must face the fall-out of Carmine’s forced service, as Haven discovers terrifying secrets about the family that enslaved both her and her mother—and why she matters so much in this intricate web of lies. The two young lovers struggle to keep their relationship intact after they become deeply enmeshed in the dangerous mafia-run crime ring they once tried to overthrow.

My rating? 5/5

What I thought of it?

The second book is definitely just as thrilling and brilliant as the first one. Unlike most sequels, it didn’t feel like they squeezed everything out of the story. The end of the second book nearly demanded for a continuation after Carmine swore loyaly to the mafia, so for once I’m not rolling my eyes at the umpteenth sequel.

Once again, I was immediately pulled back into the (love) story of Carmine and Haven and their unfortunate destiny. It’s another big book, counting over 500 pages, like the first one, but it reads so quickly that it feels like there are a lot less. In this one, we get more background information on Haven’s anchestry and what happened to them and also to Carmine’s mother. The plot is still as strong and as you are assaulted by so many emotions as you make your way through it. It’s simply amazing.

The characters are mostly the same, and the new ones that are introduced are just as amazing as the ones we’ve come to know in the first book. But Carmine and Haven are definitely still my favorite. Their love story is just epic, just like this story. A lot of people will say that their story is in some way similar to Bella and Edward’s but my only response to that is that it still started of as a Twilight fanfiction story and the author also doesn’t hide that fact. She’s proud of it.

So for those who enjoyed the first book, I have no doubt you’ll love the continuation of this story as well. I know I definitely did.

Until next time,

With love, Ellen

 

 

Help me meet Ed Sheeran!

Sorry, no review of any sorts this time. No, I’m asking for two seconds of your time to help me.

Yesterday, I’ve entered a Belgian contest to win a meet&greet with Ed Sheeran (and many other cool Ed-related stuff) when he comes here in November to present his new album ‘X’. I’ve already got my tickets because Ed is by far one of my favorite artists, but a meet&greet would make it even more fantastic.

Ed Sheeran

So if you could all just go to this link: http://mivbmusic.be/scorebord/1156 and click the heart in between to my name (Ellen De Smet), the score and the facebook icon. When you hover over it “Stem” will appear, which means ‘Vote’ in Dutch. And that’s all you have to do. Just click the heart, nothing more. It takes a second of your time, but it would mean so much to me.

And it gets even better; you can vote once a day. So I’d really really really love you forever if you could bookmark the page and vote every day. But just once would already be bloody awesome!

So thank you in advance!

Until next time,

With love, Ellen

‘Love Letters to the Dead” – Ava Dellaira

I only had to read the summary once to feel the overwhelming need to read ‘Love Letters to the Dead’ by Ava Dellaira. Also the fact that it’s from the same author as ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ convinced me to read it as soon as possible.

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What is this story about?

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to the dead—to people like Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, Amelia Earhart, and Amy Winehouse—though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating the choppy waters of new friendships, learning to live with her splintering family, falling in love for the first time, and, most important, trying to grieve for May. But how do you mourn for someone you haven’t forgiven?

It’s not until Laurel has written the truth about what happened to herself that she can finally accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was—lovely and amazing and deeply flawed—can she truly start to discover her own path.

My rating? 3/5

What I thought of it?

The idea of this book was simply so perfect that I was so eager to read it. But now that I’ve finished it, I’m a bit disappointed. The story itself was at times a bit boring and I was expecting more of it.

The entire book, you’re wondering what happened to Laurel’s sister May, but it’s pretty anticlimactic considering to how you get to know May in the book. It had expected more drama, not just about May but in Laurel’s life in general. She was a bit of a boring character and sometimes just seemed like a normal teenager. It was like the two events that made her stand out, weren’t present enought.

But on the other hand, it’s beautiful story about the unconditional love between sisters and friendship in general. It’s written in a simple way (maybe a bit too simple for a  15 year old?) so it reads really smoothly. And well, the idea is still so good that I still gave it a positive rating.

Until next time,

With love, Ellen