Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith

Summary from Goodreads:
Having just been dumped by his girlfriend, British-born Hugo is still determined to take his last-hurrah-before-college train trip across the United States. One snag: the companion ticket is already booked under the name of his ex, Margaret Campbell. Nontransferable, no exceptions.

Enter the new Margaret C. (Mae for short), an aspiring filmmaker with big dreams. After finding Hugo's spare ticket offer online, she's convinced it's the perfect opportunity to expand her horizons.

When the two meet, the attraction is undeniable, and both find more than they bargained for. As Mae pushes Hugo to explore his dreams for his future, he'll encourage her to channel a new, vulnerable side of her art. But when life off the train threatens the bubble they've created for themselves, will they manage to keep their love on track?
I loved this book. I read it in 2 sittings. As I said on Goodreads: This book was what I needed to get out of my book slump. It’s so romantic. It’s a true old fashioned coming of age story. The characters were amazing. I felt like I was watching Roman Holiday mixed with Before Sunrise mixed with the tv show, This is Us.

The setting of the train ride was pure magic. The love story felt both old and new at the same time. I finished the book, and just gave it a hug. It was just what I needed.
Love stories always have some level of fantasy for me. Some are more believable than others. Some, like this one, will have a timeframe making it more believable. And others just seem to happen at the right moment to make the right story. This had some level of fantasy with the whole needing a girl to have the same name as Hugo’s ex, thing. She also happens to just be the same age as Hugo, and is about to go on the same growing up journey.
That being said, both characters are extremely different. I loved how motivated Miriam was. I love that she was always filming or thinking about filming. She seemed like a genuine filmmaker, and not just a character with a hobby to make her sound more interesting. Film almost defined her. And I loved her grandmother and their relationship. I also loved her two dads.
I was so beyond fascinated by Hugo’s family. He’s one of six. He’s a sextuplet! I loved all the group text messages and the banter between them. I loved his mother’s blog and his father’s unwillingness to let go. I loved his family and how close they were. His siblings’ willingness to do a certain thing (that I won’t spoil) for Hugo just melted my heart. And then there’s Hugo, himself. I loved him completely. I loved that he didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life; he just knew that he wanted some time on his own to figure it out. It was refreshing to have one character unsure of his future like that.
And then there’s all the people the couple meets along the way on the train. They interview people for Mae’s newest film, and it’s just so romantic and beautiful. The setting is always changing from one state to another. The stories change. And the couple’s relationship changes. This book is always moving, like the trains they take.
I can’t really come up with anything negative to say here. I usually really enjoy books by this author. This one, I loved. I give it a 10/10, and I highly recommend it to the romantics out there.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks

Summary from Goodreads:
Miriam's family should be rich. After all, her grandfather was the co-creator of smash-hit comics series The TomorrowMen. But he sold his rights to the series to his co-creator in the 1960s for practically nothing, and now that's what Miriam has: practically nothing. And practically nothing to look forward to either-how can she afford college when her family can barely keep a roof above their heads? As if she didn't have enough to worry about, Miriam's life gets much more complicated when a cute boy shows up in town . . . and turns out to be the grandson of the man who defrauded Miriam's grandfather, and heir to the TomorrowMen fortune.

In her endearing debut novel, cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks pens a sensitive and funny Romeo and Juliet tale about modern romance, geek royalty, and what it takes to heal the long-festering scars of the past (Spoiler Alert: love).
I was really excited for this one. I’ve enjoyed Hicks’ graphic novels. And after reading the summary for this book, I was excited enough to mark the book’s release in my calendar. I’ve become a bit of a comic geek over the years. And I’m certainly getting married to one too. Nick has hundreds, possibly thousands of comic books. I love all of the super hero movies, particularly the Marvel ones. And I grew up watching all of the animated tv series. Needless to say, this book spoke to me on a deep comic level.
Unfortunately, I think my expectations were too high. There were some really great elements to this book, but it just wasn’t enough for me. I have to say too that I started this book right before a long-lasting sinus infection. And it’s not the book’s fault that I struggled to read because of headaches. But, headache or no, it should never take me more than 2 weeks to read something…
I loved the idea for it all. I loved the drama of the lawsuit, and the rights to the story. There’s not many YA books today that tackle copyright issues, and I always find that stuff fascinating. I also loved the store Miriam worked in. I loved her weird parents and their attitude of letting things go.
I did not love Miriam. She was too wishy-washy for me. Sometimes she read like the teenager she was supposed to be, and sometimes she read way too young. I get that not all teenagers are the same, and some will come off as younger….but, it was enough of a problem for me that it took me out of the story, and confused me. Some of the girl’s thoughts and logic read more like that of a nine year old or ten year old. And adding to this, sex was never brought up. Miriam and Weldon have a bit of a whirlwind romance that’s just too innocent to be believable. Not that all teenagers are having or wanting sex…but, this felt more like first crush 10/11 year old territory…like chapters of debating whether or not hand holding was okay….
I also never fully understood Miriam’s attachment to her grandfather and what was due to him. Her parents didn’t feel this way, and they knew him. And clearly they were trying to teach Miriam to feel the same way. Miriam never met her grandfather, but talked about him like she did. She was also not a very materialistic person, so I can’t see missing out on the money as being her driving motivator.  I feel like all of this would have been drastically more believable if she had a relationship with her grandfather (even just as a young kid) that inspired her actions.
Also, not a lot happens, plot-wise, until the very end. And at the end, everything kind of seems to happen too easily. Weldon’s mother magically gets involved at just the right time. Miriam happens to meet the one person her boss wanted her to. She also just happens to get the one thing that makes the lawsuit seem okay…Too many things “just happen” to work out perfectly for my liking, especially after a full book of “what ifs?” and postponements of any decision making.
Also, do that many kids in Canada decide not to go to college? Miriam was the only one in her friend group going to college? That seemed strange. I get that money is a factor, but everyone I know has student loans or attended community college, or state schools…none of which were mentioned as possibilities for all of her friends.  Are Canada students not all driven to attend college, like we are here?
All in all, this book was a bit of a disappointment. The concept was there. There were a lot of interesting elements. These just didn’t outweigh the problems for me. I never liked the main character, who often seemed more like 10 or 11 year old, than a senior in high school. The romance was too innocent. Miriam’s motivations didn’t seem believable. And too much magically just worked out in the end. I give it a 6/10.

Monday, March 18, 2019

A Good Week in Books (200)

I cannot believe I’ve made 200 of these posts! I guess I’ve been blogging a long time…
I’ve been a bit MIA lately. Mostly this is because I had a crazy, terrible sinus infection. I seriously had the worst headaches for about 3 ½ weeks. Sadly, this greatly affected my ability to read and I’ve had such book nostalgia. I finally caught up on a lot of TV…but, it’s just not the same. I’m finally doing better after a couple rounds of antibiotics. Bring on the books!
I’ve only read 2 books in about 4 weeks though…so I have a ton of catching up to do. One book was okay, and one was amazing. I’m going to be honest; I read the amazing book in about a day (yesterday). And the okay book lasted throughout my whole bout of sickness…
I’ve received 8 books for review over this time (thank you Macmillan!):

Small Town Hearts
by Lillie Vale
The Breakaways by Cathy G. Johnson
The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena
Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller
The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum
Fear of Missing Out by Kate McGovern
Kiss Number 8 by Colleen AF Venable and Ellen T. Crenshaw
Beware the Night by Jessika Fleck
How was your week in books?