Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell, or Fate, Time, Television and True Love

The funny thing with Landline is that I didn’t even fully mean to reread it, I just started the first few pages and then bang I was flying through it in true Rainbow Rowell fashion (see: Why I Fangirl over Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl (Spoilers: Levi)). I felt like I was at an all-you-can-eat buffet, filling myself with one more page, one more…

As far as time machines go, a magic telephone is pretty useless.

TV writer Georgie McCool can’t actually visit the past; all she can do is call it, and hope it picks up. And hope he picks up — because once Georgie realizes she has a magic phone that calls into the past, all she wants is make things right with her husband, Neal.

Maybe she can fix the things in their past that seem unfixable in the present. Maybe this stupid phone is giving her a chance to start over. . . . Does Georgie want to start over?

A heart-wrenching—and hilarious—take on fate, time, television and true love, Landline asks if two people are ever really on the same path, or whether love just means finding someone who will keep meeting you halfway.

Also funny is the fact when I first read Landline, back in 2015, I came out of it thinking it was my least favorite Rowell book, simply because at that time in my life I couldn’t have cared less about married people. But with this reread now, coming after three years, I can’t get enough of family-based stories. So I was delighted to discover how with time my perspective had changed and matured to the point of gobbling up every little detail concerning the marriage chronicled in here.

It’s so hard to capture all that I loved (because there’s so many specifics) but I tried my best by including it all below:

  • Rainbow Rowell’s signature humor is ever-present and on-point.

“It was so rare to make Neal laugh. . . .
Georgie used to tease him about being a waste of dimples. “Your face is like an O. Henry story. The world’s sweetest dimples and the boy who never laughs.”
“I laugh.”
“When? When you’re alone?”
“Yeah,” he said. “Every night when I’m sure everyone is asleep, I sit on my bed and laugh maniacally.”

I was trying to find the best way to describe the humor, when I stumbled upon this interview between Rainbow Rowell and her audio narrator Rebecca Lowman, discussing the book:

Rowell: “…You know what, I don’t like punchline, sort of zingy humor. So I’m not drawn to comedians who are very big. I like people who are just sort of talking and they’re funny when they’re talking. …”

This. This is exactly it.

As well as this quote from the book on savoring what we hold precious:

“I put it in my Save Box,” she said.
“What’s that?”
“It’s actually just a box. I, uh . . . I hate that feeling, you know, when you’re thinking about something you’ve read or heard, and you thought it was so smart at the time, but now you can’t remember it. I save things I don’t want to lose track of.”

This right here hits the core on why I write such extensive notes during my reading.

  • Georgie’s office scenes with Seth (and Scotty) reminded me then why I had such a hard reading this book the first time. They weren’t my favorite scenes since no one was shining or bringing anything new to the table. In particular, Seth threw me off my game at the end because I feel like he was flexing, what Reagan in Fangirl so lovingly calls, his best friend muscles just to remind everyone that he came first. I’m not a fan. Also: He can’t write anything decent down without Georgie around, which makes him a true Nick.

“They were supposed to end up together, Seth and Georgie.
Well, technically, they had ended up together. They’d talked every day since that first day they met.
But they were supposed to end up together-together. Everyone thought it would happen—Georgie had thought it would happen.
Just as soon as Seth exhausted his other possibilities, as soon as he worked through his queue of admirers. He hadn’t been in any hurry, and Georgie didn’t have a say in the matter. She’d taken a number. She was waiting patiently.
And then, one day, she wasn’t.”

  • And since we’re on the topic of my favorite Rowell book, I was so keen on reading about Neal and Georgie together because it felt like we were seeing Cath and Levi chronicled from Levi’s perspective. Georgie is the one initiating all contact with Neal, making sure she can get a laugh out him (at least one), whereas “solid, stolid” Neal is a tough nut to crack, similar to Cath with their difficulty establishing eye contact and needing a barrier between them, such as drawing cartoons (in Cath’s case, reading fanfiction out loud) to distract. And lucky for him, Georgie doesn’t want the easy thing. To paraphrase Attachments, she likes to work a little harder to get the thing she really wants.

“He’s the guy in the Life cereal commercial who hates everything. If Mikey likes you, you know you’re good. If Mikey likes you, it means something.”

  • The concept behind ‘once we notice something, we see it everywhere’ is beyond fascinating to me, so I liked how subtly Rainbow Rowell incorporated that shift between the two:

“How had she missed Neal until junior year? He’d started working at The Spoon as a freshman, same as her. Georgie must have seen him, without really seeing him, dozens of times. Was she that sucked in by Seth? Seth was extra sucky—pushy and loud, always demanding Georgie’s attention. . . .
But once Georgie noticed Neal, she saw him around the office constantly. She’d try not to stare when he walked past her desk on his way to the production room. Sometimes, if she was lucky, he’d look her way and nod.”

Rowell excels at procuring real authentic moments.

“Can we go back and start over?”
“How far back?” Georgie tried to fold her arms, but she was still holding that stupid Zima.
“Back to the wall,” he said. “Back to you walking across the living room toward me. To you saying, ‘I’m surprised to see you here.’”
“Are you saying you want to go back to the living room?”
“No. Just go ahead, say it again now.”
Georgie rolled her eyes, but she said it: “I’m surprised to see you here.”
“You shouldn’t be,” Neal said. He lifted his chin and looked directly in her eyes. For the second time in five minutes. For the second time ever. “I’m here because I knew you’d be here. Because I hoped you would be.”

That moment when people stop playing games (Gemma Collins echo) with one another and just present their real selves… Showing someone you’re keen on them and having it reciprocated is a grand gesture.

I equally loved those tiny, intimate moments sprinkled throughout their married life:

“Stop. You’re blowing my mind.”
“Oh, I’ll blow your mind. Girlie.”
“Are you flirting with me?”
He’d turned to her then, pen cap in mouth, and cocked his head. “Yeah. I think so.”
Georgie looked down at her old sweatshirt. At her threadbare yoga pants. “This is what does it for you?”
Neal smiled most of a smile, and the cap fell out of his mouth. “So far.”
Neal . . .”

As well as featuring really beautiful metaphors with flowers, like: “Pizza girl’s name was Alison, and Heather’s face followed her around the room like a sunflower chasing daylight.”

And: “(Neal’s face was like a flower blooming—you’d need time-lapse photography to really see it in action. But Georgie’d become such a student of his face, she could read most of the twitches.)”

  • Regarding the major plot line of the magic telephone, I could only think of this:

To give some background, this quote led me to it: “Georgie exhaled when she heard Neal’s voice, then resisted the urge to ask him who the president was.”

  • I’ve been holding off, but I really have to end on the most epic cameo to appear in this book, featuring my all-time favorite couple: Cath & Levi. I really thought before starting that it wouldn’t hit me as hard because I’ve already read it before. But it’s been so long and LEVI’S STILL SO GOOD.

“Can we help you find something?” someone said.
Georgie turned. It was the ecstatic young couple. Still hanging on each other, as if neither of them could quite believe the other was finally here.
“Taxi stand?” Georgie said.
“You’re looking for a taxi?” the boy asked. The man. She should probably call him a man. He must be twenty-two, twenty-three; his hair was already thinning.”

My boy is all grown up. bookspoils“Wait a minute.” The boy got out of the truck, then hopped back inside thirty seconds later with his duffel bag. He unzipped it, and clothes spilled out. He started heaping them in the girl’s lap. “Here,” he said, pulling out a thick, gray wool sweater. “Take this.”
“I can’t take your sweater,” Georgie said.
“Take it. You can mail it back to me—my mom sews my address inside everything. Take it, it’s no big deal.”

LEVI GOES OUT OF HIS WAY TO MAKE SURE GEORGIE GETS SAFELY TO HER DESTINATION (on top of the snowy hill).

And Cath caught up with Levi’s good habits along the way because when they notice Georgie’s shoes not having foolproof cover from the Omaha snow, this happens:

“Oh for Christ’s sake,” the girl said. “You can wear my boots.” She reached for the floor. Georgie noticed she was wearing a small engagement ring. “You can have them. I don’t even like them.”
“Absolutely not,” Georgie said. “What if you get stuck in the snow?”
“I’ll be fine,” she said. “He’d carry me across the city before he let me get my feet wet.”

Levi would do it in a heartbeat!! Cue my tears.

I really thought that time would pass and one day I would be ready to move on. But these characters are my home, and I’m never going to stop missing them.

tumblr_omrjbxiu281u4ypbyo4_400

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 09.46.55I’ll close off by sharing this beautiful alternate cover for Landline, which has the best details from the book; the Polaroid!!

Source

bookspoilsbookspoilsbookspoilsbookspoils

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Landlinejust click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Advertisements

Wedding Shenanigans, Family Disasters, and Childhood Crushes in Save the Date by Morgan Matson

“It was that feeling like when the lights come up after a movie—how it takes a minute to let go of the world you’d been immersed in. ”

I’ve been patiently waiting for this newest Matson’s book, back when its release date had been set for the same day as Sarah Dessen’s Once and For All, both surrounding the wedding season, though, the latter is more on planning than attending one. Save the Date still holds the same hectic atmosphere since the main event – the wedding – is taking place at the Grant’s house with a bunch of siblings set to arrive all at once.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning:

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

I forgot how quickly these contemporary reads go by. You start to get into it and then poof the book’s over.

Save the Date, in particular, hit it off with a bang by starting with a romantic get-together that swept me right into the storyline. I’m a (low-key) sucker for obsessional crushes, so seeing Charlie’s keenness on her childhood crush was all too real; Jesse Foster is no longer a boy in her eyes, but a mythical figure that can do no wrong.

The book hits the mark on experiencing unrequited crushes and observing from the sidelines. Like my favorite quote from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before conveys: ‘You’d rather make up a fantasy version of somebody in your head than be with a real person.’

I mean, I can’t stop thinking about this:

“Jesse didn’t move over from his spot on the middle cushion, so when I sat on the couch, I was closer to him than I had ever been before, except for two memorable occasions—when we’d been stuck in an elevator together at a laser tag place for Mike’s fourteenth birthday, and a memorable car ride when I was twelve and we’d been coming back from playing mini golf in Hartfield, all of us crammed into the car, and somehow, I’d ended up in the way back next to Jesse, Mike on his other side. And Jesse kept turning to talk to Mike, which meant he kept leaning into me, his bare leg pressing against mine. It had been a thirty-minute ride home, and the whole time, I’d prayed for a traffic jam, a road closure, a flat tire—anything to keep it going longer. So, as I sat on the couch next to him now, it was with full awareness that this proximity to him—voluntary, as opposed to car-logistic mandated—was a brand-new thing.”

rubs hands together Now, it’s getting good.Save the Date 2-- bookspoils

“She didn’t know what it was like to look and wish and want, always two steps behind the person, always on the edges of their life. What it was like to stand next to someone and know you weren’t registering with them, not in any meaningful way. That you thought about someone a thousand times more than they’d ever thought about you. To know that you were just a face in the crowd scenes while they were center stage. And then, all at once, to have the spotlight finally swing over to you. To suddenly be visible, to be seen, no longer one of the people in the background who never get any lines. To suddenly be in the midst of something you’d only ever looked at from the sidelines. What that felt like when it finally happened, dropped in your lap when you were least expecting it, like a gift you were half-afraid to open.”

This right here is exactly why I so love Wren’s line from Fangirl: “That moment,” she told Cath, “when you realize that a guy’s looking at you differently—that you’re taking up more space in his field of vision. That moment when you know he can’t see past you anymore.” 

I’ll never tire of seeing books get it right when discussing something close to heart. I was living vicariously through Charlie and Jesse’s interactions, which is why this became such a pivotal reading experience for me when it went the extra mile of showing the reason these types of crushes don’t tend to develop any further is because you hold them on this invisible pedestal, whereas for them you’re just a body in a crowd.

“He was a nice guy. He was cute, and he was a great kisser. But that was actually all I really knew about him, Jesse the actual person. I couldn’t have told you his favorite movie, or his roommate’s name, or his greatest fear. He wasn’t who I thought he was all those years, because that person didn’t exist. That Jesse was just a compilation of everything I’d projected onto him, coupled with a handful of real-life interactions that I’d given far too much value to.”

Her anthem should include Dua Lipa’s New Rules.

Analysing and reading into their every move can become exhausting really quickly, so I was beyond grateful to safely experience from the sidelines where all this can lead to with Save the Date. (Another great book that touches upon this is The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah.)

I’m putting that major revelation aside by moving on to discuss the actual book, which is ‘what you see is what you get’ synopsis-wise since the entirety of it is set around three hectic wedding days (without any major flashbacks). Consequently, the usual contemporary, summer fun isn’t quite as present here as with Matson’s previous books, especially when each developing storyline could be detected from a mile away.

The only remaining upside Save the Date held for me were Charlie’s siblings with their dynamic personalities put into one house. It’s the little things that made them seem so close to me. Like, calling for “witnesses” when making a bet, or their “not it” gesture of pulling on their earlobe.

“This was one of the thousands of tiny things that only happened when we were together, one of the things you didn’t know you’d miss until it was gone.”

It’s these details that are able to procure real, authentic moments.

“Mike Drop?”
“No!” I said quickly. Mike Drops were something that J.J. and Danny had done a lot when Mike was in elementary school and they were much, much bigger than he was. It was true to its name—Danny would pick up Mike, yell “Mike Drop!” and toss him in the air and J.J. would dash in and catch him just before he hit the floor. All of which had worked out great when Mike was six. But as they’d all gotten older, J.J. sometimes forgot to catch him, and they had a way of getting people injured, sometimes all three of them in the same Mike Drop.”

They were a never-ending hoot to read about. As well as the scarcely Grant Central Station comic strips scattered throughout.

Save the Date 1-- bookspoils

Save the Date 3-- bookspoils

Plus, there’s the added bonus of featuring quite the creative chapter titles that make for a compelling road ahead, with favorites including: “Or, Acronyms Are Not Always a Good Idea Or, AANAAGI” & “Or, 98% of All Statistics Are Made Up on the Spot.”

Overall, Save the Date was an enjoyable YA read, though a bit rushed in places, and included just the right amount of fun and laughter.

bookspoilsbookspoilsbookspoils

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Save the Datejust click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: All Summer Long by Hope Larson

Reading this coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel about summer and friendships back-to-back with Vera Brosgol’s Be Prepared made for a great reading experience, since both revolve around similar adolescent themes that naturally occur with the peak of summertime.All Summer Long 2-- bookspoils

Thirteen-year-old music-loving Bina has a long summer ahead of her. She and her best friend, Austin, usually do everything together, but he’s off to soccer camp for a month, and he’s been acting kind of weird lately anyway. So it’s up to Bina to see how much fun she can have on her own.

I’ll start off by noting that I was a tiny bit thrown off from the start with the author’s choice to include “Infiniflix” and “Filtergram” (aka Netflix and Instagram) as I personally prefer not to have social media in books if it’s made up names. But once I gradually got used to it, I was yet again left scratching my head upon seeing Bina rip CDs from her friend… Does Spotify not exist in this world then??

Aside from that minor hindrance, I did have an enjoyable time reading about Bina’s summer adventures, so I’d like to highlight some of the noteworthy moments (both random and not) that I gathered from All Summer Long:

All Summer Long 3-- bookspoilsA band called “ASMR” was worth it all.All Summer Long 4-- bookspoilsBold artwork that shows itself in show-stopping panels like the above.

All Summer Long 5-- bookspoilsI highlighted the above because having Bina call someone out on their act by acknowledging the important distinction between being nice and appearing nice was grand.

All Summer Long 1-- bookspoilsHe probably got fired from Del Taco because they got a new thing called FR E SH A VOCA DO.

All Summer Long 6-- bookspoilsAnd true to the comparison I presented at the start of my review with Vera Brosgol’s Be Prepared, this graphic novel ended on a sweet note for more and more.

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Expected publication: May 1st, 2018

bookspoilsbookspoilsbookspoils

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying All Summer Longjust click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!