Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – Book Review

15745753 This is a bit of an old one! And by that I mean it’s two years old, which is old for YA. Seemingly though, everyone has read it. At least that may make for some interesting discussion. So… read on for the review and then let me know whether you agree or disagree.

Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell

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.

I started this book a month ago, and really should have finished it a month ago too. It’s a quick easy read – for some reason I just got a bit distracted and picked up something else. I liked this book. I didn’t love it, which is a bit disappointing because everyone seems to love it. I can see why, but it just didn’t appeal to me on that level. It didn’t capture me the way Fangirl did (click for my review!), and that might be because of the age of the characters. I couldn’t really relate to it because at that time in my life I didn’t have this burning desire, this stereotypically all-consuming young love that Eleanor and Park have for each other. It’s charming, but to me it seems unrealistic, simply because that stuff wasn’t important to me at the tender (and painful) age of sixteen.

I understand that to other teenagers relationships and sex (and everything in between) are rather prominent, and that may be why they love this book – or perhaps they didn’t experience it either and want to, or wish they had. Don’t get me wrong, Eleanor & Park isn’t just about a relationship, it’s not just about sex (or the things in between). And I suppose that fact feeds into the things I did appreciate about this speedy read.

It addresses domestic violence, albeit in a singular and simplistic way. The effects of domestic abuse, both physical and emotional, are shown on the children and it highlights (just one side of) what a ‘broken family’ can be, and the often unwritten consequences (at least within contemporary literature) of poverty on a young person. I also really did like the dynamic of Park’s family – the identity questions that Park’s dual heritage brings about in him as a teenage boy, and how his parents’ different upbringings informed his character, their’s, and their interactions. It was also quite nice to experience this story of teenage love in a decade in which I wasn’t around. I found it easy to picture this all rolling out on a big screen like a John Hughes movie.

Overall, Eleanor & Park is a pleasant enough novel, but I found it lacking in too many ways for me to ever imagine wanting to read it again. While there were plenty of interesting plot points I felt as though nothing really happened and Rainbow Rowell didn’t utilise the story’s potential to make it feel like something was really happening, or that any of it really mattered, because to me, as an adult (sort of) I know that what Eleanor was obsessing about the whole time is less pressing than she makes it out to be. After a while, it got a bit tiring. You know, the whole ‘touching’ thing, the ‘his lips’ thing, the ‘he’s so cute’ thing. Maybe because at seventeen, I remember life being about a lot more than a cute boy touching my waist and thinking my quirks were cool (to be honest, they weren’t, they were just… quirks). I do intend to read Rainbow’s Landline and Attachments. They’re supposed to be about adults right? Maybe I’ll like them, because I’m totally an adult now… I think.

My personal rating: 3/5. Amazon average: 4.5/5. Goodreads average: 4.16/5.

Buy from: Amazon/Book Depository/Your Local Indie Book Store ♥

Pages: 328

Publishers: Orion

Publication Date: February 26th 2013

Follow the author on Twitter: @RainbowRowell

Have you read this book? You probably have. I know this may be an unpopular opinion (or a grouping of unpopular opinions) about this book that already seems to be considered a YA romance classic. Let me know what you think!


January (mid-hiatus) Round-Up

So life has been hectic the past few months… working 40-50 hour weeks, looking after my niece when I’m not in work, and attempting to find time to sleep and eat and exercise. I’ve been slowly trucking along with some books, but not enough to finish many, or write reviews.

In just over a week I’ll be finishing up with my job and moving back to Liverpool for a bit. I feel like my goals have become a little blurry, career-wise, and I’ll probably have a better time getting work experience and coming back down to London for it, than trying to negotiate time off work to do it otherwise. Hopefully, moving home will mean more time to read and (of course) review.

This is just a short round-up of what I’ve read, what I am currently reading, and what I’m going to be reading soon.

Most recently read:

Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley. If you know much about me at all, you’ll know that I love comics quite a lot – I wrote my dissertation on ’em. I picked this up a couple of months ago and loved it.

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch. I wanted to read this for ages, and kept forgetting to pick it up. Big fan, will review asap!

Currently reading:

The Three by Sarah Lotz. I’m enjoying it, but it’s taking a long time. I don’t know why I can’t just sit down and read it all in one go.

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham. A bit like The Three I’m reading it in bits and pieces, but I’m happy about that. You can dip in and out comfortably, which is nice.

We Are Pirates by Daniel Handley. I was super excited about this book, and then received it in a first reads giveaway on Goodreads. Thanks Bloomsbury!

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. (Click through for review) The Grisha Trilogy is really popular in the YA world, so I started this one and then got distracted. Will probably end up reading in one sitting and then impulse buying the last two. (Edit: this actually happened. So predictable.)

Going to read when I’ve finished all of those ^^ :

Netgalley titles:

As Red as Blood and As White as Snow – Salla Simukka

Gifted – Donald Hounam

A Whisper of Wolves – Kris Humphrey

The Raven’s Head – Karen Maitland

Books I already own:

Throne of Glass – Sara J Maas

How to Build a Girl – Caitlin Moran

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

Lagoon – Nnedi Okorafor

Above – Isla Morley

Earthfall – Mark Walden

The Luminaries -Eleanor Catton

Need to pick up when I have some money:

Red Rising – Pierce Brown

All The Bright Places – Jennifer Niven

The Art of Being Normal – Lisa Williamson

Trigger Warning – Neil Gaiman

Rooms – Lauren Oliver

Timebomb – Scott K. Andrews

Clariel – Garth Nix

Sex Criminals vol. 2 – Chip Zdarksy, Matt Fraction

So yeah, that’s just where I’m up to with my reading, and a basic list of what reviews to expect. Once I’ve finished work on the 7th, and moved back on the 13th, I’m expecting to be back to a regular review posting schedule. In the mean time, keep your eyes peeled for anything spontaneous I find the time for!

Would You Rather… Books or more books?


Would you rather…?

1. Read only trilogies or stand-alones?
I’ve read some pretty great trilogies in my time, but also some not-so-great trilogies and series. The amount of quality stand-alone novels by far outweigh any trilogy, so I’m going to have to say stand-alone.

2. Read only female or male authors?
It doesn’t really make much of a difference to me, but if I had to choose I’d pick women writers, because they tend (not exclusively) to write stronger/more female characters, and that’s always a quality I love in a book.

3. Shop at Barnes & Noble or Amazon?
We don’t have Barnes & Noble here, but I’m going to swap it out for Waterstones. If I can afford it, I always buy from bookshops, preferably independent ones (like my wonderful life-long indie bookshop back home). I know that Amazon can be cheaper, and if you can’t get out to a shop you can always order it with next-day delivery (I used to have Prime. It was pretty swish.) and that’s helpful, but not worth it. And it means you end up missing out on loads of lovely books you might not have seen if you’re just clicking around the internet!

4. All books become movies or t.v. shows?
Films, definitely,

5. Read 5 pages per day or 5 books per week?
Five books a week! Although reading five pages per day of a book might be interesting. I might try that some time (while reading other books quickly, of course).

6. Be a professional reviewer or author?
Author. Without a doubt. I’ve always been a writer, and one day I might pursue getting published. For now I’m happy being a reviewer, though.

7. Only read your top 20 favourite books over and over or always read new ones that you haven’t read before?
Always read new ones. I’ve re-read so many books and enjoyed them every time, but if they were the only ones I could read, I doubt they’d stay favourites for long.

8. Be a librarian or book seller?
A book seller.

9. Only read your favourite genre, or every genre except your favourite?
Every genre except my favourite. I think if you only read your favourite genre you’d quickly get to the lesser-quality titles. With every other genre at least you have variety and can choose more quality books.

10. Only read physical books or eBooks

Physical books. I’m always a physical-book lover and will generally only read eBooks if it’s my only choice for that book (review copies, etc.). I can’t deny that they’re pretty handy, but there’s nothing like the feeling of a good book in your hands.

This tag was created by RayKaybooks – here is the link to the original video, but I found it on Bookishrebel‘s blog.

I tag anybody who feels like doing this!

Image: Jennifer Egan’s bookshelf from My Ideal Bookshelf as illustrated by Jane Mount.

The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton – Book Review

miniaturistThis week I finally got my hands on The Miniaturist. I’ve been dying to read it since its release at the start of the month. Here’s what I thought…

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways . . .

Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?

Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

The Miniaturist is an astounding debut, Jessie Burton has worked miracles with her words and I love her for it. Not in a creepy way, just that she’s my new favourite author. That’s what I meant.

It is a masterpiece of well-researched historical fiction, lent the excitement and that ‘could have been’ feeling of being inspired by an authentic cabinet doll-house, in the likeness of the real Petronella Oortman’s family home. Despite this believable historical setting there is an easy identification that has sept into my skin. Enough to make me doubt the necessity of writing this review on a laptop, rather than with quill, and ink, and paper at a desk. Nella Oortman is not a perfect person, but she is a perfectly crafted character, and a wonderful heroine. She was brought to life by Burton’s story-telling for the few days I spent reading The Miniaturist. I have been left believing I’d read tale upon tale about Nella going about her daily, uninteresting business for the rest of her life, if it had been written by Jessie.

I can’t imagine this novel would be everyone’s cup of tea (and it’s clearly not mine, considering I don’t even like tea *gasp*, the horror, this is my hot chocolate). At times I had to put it down to give myself a break, and there are many who prefer a book that can be read in one swift sitting. Nonetheless, I would recommend it to anybody who enjoys a good novel with elements of mystery, suspense, forbidden love, and of course – great character development.


I would have liked to find out more about certain things that felt a little too much like untied loose ends, like what happened to the miniaturist, and other characters -especially Toot, and Thea as she grows up in 17th century Amsterdam – but I suppose that’s rather reflective of life. You don’t get to know what happens to everybody, no matter how much you might want to. And this is supposed to be Nella’s story, or part of it at least. Perhaps I’m just nosy, like my mother.

My personal rating: 5/5. Amazon average: 4/5. Goodreads average: 3.92/5.

Buy from: Hive / Amazon / Your Local Indie Book Store ♥
Author on Twitter: @jesskatbee
Publisher: Picador
Date of Publication: 3/07/2014
ISBN: 978144725089001