“Bono met his wife in high school,” Park says.
“So did Jerry Lee Lewis,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be,” she says, “we’re sixteen.”
“What about Romeo and Juliet?”
“Shallow, confused, then dead.”
”I love you,” Park says.
“Wherefore art thou,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be.”
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under
As many of you know, I am extremely picky when it comes to contemporary books. In order to make me fall head over heels in love, the book must contain witty and relatable characters, a beautiful romance that slowly progresses, heartbreaking scenes, and intense topics. Lucky for me, Eleanor & Park contained all of that.
The best thing about Eleanor & Park was Eleanor. Eleanor lived in a house with an abusive stepfather, a coward of a mother, and four little siblings that knew when to hide and to keep their mouths shut. She had barely any personal possessions, washed her hair with dish soap, did not own a toothbrush, had weight problems, and dressed like a homeless hippy on a daily basis. There are not enough words to describe Eleanor, but if I had to try I would use words such as brave, strong, lovable, independent, remarkable and beautiful. She was my favorite character in the whole book, and I honestly could just read about her all day long.
This book has so. many. feels. I laughed out loud. I cried. I bawled. I smiled. I cringed. There were even times I wanted to throw the book clear across the room. Thankfully it was on my nook, and I have more control than that. I haven’t cried over a book since the last Harry Potter, but I was an emotional basketcase almost from the very beginning. The first time I cried was when Park’s mother realized what kind of homelife Eleanor came from. Reading about his mom breaking down broke me down completely. The second and last time I cried was when Park’s dad opened up to Eleanor and basically told her she was a part of the family. Reading about Eleanor’s homelife was tragic and depressing, but reading about Park’s parents caring enough about her to do something about it was an entire different level for me.
Park and Eleanor’s relationship was just so adorable. They were snarky, hesitant, in love, crazy, and just teenagers. I felt like both characters really grew as the story progressed, which made their relationship more mature and romantic.
I would have rated this book 5 stars, but I had to dock it down to a 4 for a few reasons. Let’s start with Park. I found Park to be a good character, but he really grated on my nervous…especially during the last half of the book. I found him to be a little controlling, a little dumb in the girl department, and wayyyy needy. Also, I know that teenagers spout off the words “I love you” like they really know what they mean, but he got on my last nerve every time he said it. I also didn’t like how he accused Eleanor of bullying herself and making things up. I think it was at that point that I really started to despise his character.
Eleanor’s mom made it really difficult to stick with the book at times. I have no respect for any woman who lets a man beat her up and terrorize her kids. It’s one thing if you’re by yourself, but when you have 5 kids it is your responsibility to woman up and get yourself and your children out of a horrible situation and homelife. The mom absolutely disgusted me.
Most of all, I had a problem with the ending of the book. I was not a fan of the ending. I read this book and fell in love with the story and the characters, and then the ending just plummeted. Not only that, but the ending left a lot of questions, and I don’t think that this is a series. What happened to the mom and the kids? Did they ever reunite with Eleanor? What became of Eleanor and Park later on? What happened to the step father? On one hand, this ending is perfect because the reader can decide what happens. But I’m not the type of reader who can finish a book and then make those decisions. So the only thing that’s going through my head is the ending that Rowell provided, and I don’t like it.
Overall, I found Eleanor & Park to be a beautiful read. It swept me off my feet and twisted me all over the place as emotion after emotion blindsided me. Eleanor & Park’s relationship is one for the records, and I hope to read more about them in the future. Fans of Catherine by April Lindner will really enjoy this one!
Publication Date: February 26th, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Teaser Quote: “Nothing before you counts,” he said. “And I can’t even imagine an after.”
She shook her head. “Don’t.”
“Don’t talk about after.”
“I just meant that… I want to be the last person who ever kisses you, too…. That sounds bad, like a death threat or something. What I’m trying to say is, you’re it. This is it for me.”
C.J. Redwine is the author of Defiance, which published in August, 2012. C.J. took the time out of her own schedule to do a guest review of Chime by Franny Billingsley. You can find out more information about C.J. Redwine on her website.
Reviewed by C.J. Redwine
Before Briony’s stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family’s hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it’s become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.
Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He’s as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she’s extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn’t know.
Sir Reeve Montgomery is an Englishman born and bred, proud of his heritage and the right to serve his country fighting against the Scottish rebels. But when the tide is turned unexpectedly during the Battle of Stirling Bridge, he is wounded by an English arrow, left for dead by his comrades, and taken captive by Wallace’s army. Wounded, and alone on a foreign field, he knows he should expect nothing but torture and death at the hands of the Scottish rebels who are known to be complete savages. But as he comes to know this tight brotherhood better, and sees Wallace’s utter devotion to his men and the cause of freedom, Reeve begins to wonder whether the English are right to oppress them. Faced with these troubling thoughts, Reeve must decide whether he will stay true to his king, or join this brotherhood of freedom fighters, thus turning his back on everything he has ever known or believed in. This new novel by Hazel West is a thought-provoking, heartfelt read about the true meaning of loyalty and brotherhood.
It was in a spilt second that Reeve realized how desperate their situation was now. They had been cut off from the rest of their army with no hope of them being able to find a ford in the river to cross in time. Their numbers were now mostly equal to the Scots and Reeve hoped they would have the sense to stand and fight as one instead of scatter and make it easier to be picked off by the enemy. Men could train for years to hold a formation, but one never knew how they would react when faced with the real enemy.
The Scots had charged at them in two columns, trapping the English in the middle. The archers released their deadly rain and arrows found targets as they fell onto the opposing army. Reeve and his companions spurred their horses on immediately, knowing that to stand still was to die. Reeve swung his sword from its sheath and urged his horse forward at the charging Scotsmen, swinging the blade in a flashing arch and shouting out a war cry of his own. There was a huge clash that sounded as the two armies met head on. Reeve was immediately separated from Harold and Gerard in the mess. A lot of the knights realized too late that they had been led into a marsh and their horses were sinking in the muck, weighed down by armor. Reeve hoped neither of his friends were caught in the mire to be easy prey for the Scots. He wanted to go back and look for them, but he knew how foolish that was in a battle. You looked ahead, only at your enemy and you killed and killed again until it was done; only then could you spare the time to look for lost comrades.
He hacked left and right with his sword, catching a spear wielded by a screaming Scotsman on his shield with enough strength behind it to bruise his shoulder. He gritted his teeth against the pain as he stabbed downward with his blade and took the man through the chest. He felt hands grip his tabard from behind and he spun just fast enough to stop the man from hauling him from his saddle where he would be sure to meet a grisly end at the point of the long broadsword the man carried. He jerked his sword pommel-first into the man’s head and his attacker fell back instantly.
Reeve suddenly caught a movement out of the corner of his eye and he turned with his sword swinging up for a blow but the man who had been there was already gone. Then his horse lurched under him and whinnied in pain, rearing up before it bolted.
Reeve was flung from the back of the beast, realizing that he had been victim to one of the Scottish dirkers; lithe, fast men, who ran around the field, ducking underneath horses and jabbing their bellies with their dirks to make them throw their riders. Reeve was flung onto the boggy ground, hauling himself up with difficulty in his heavy armor. He quickly un-buckled the plates that covered his shoulders and the greaves protecting his legs. There was no need for them now on the ground; they would only hamper him, and if he was going to have to swim the river…
He quickly looked around at the warriors and knights who were rushing past. He caught sight of a fearsome Scotsman running toward him, his giant claymore upraised. Reeve stood his ground and met the man head on, ducking under the great sword and swinging a blow to the man’s legs. The Scotsman leapt to one side and with a wild yell, swept his heavy sword at Reeve.
The knight flung himself to the ground and rolled just in time, coming up several feet away only to be struck from behind by an arrow. He staggered forward as it drove into his side, cutting through the chain mail and the padded tabard under it to his flesh. He gasped at the sudden pain and subconsciously thought in one of those oddly perceptive moments in a time of danger, that it was one of their own armor-piercing arrows. He looked back up at the Scotsman who had been fighting him. The man was sneering now, raising his sword for the final strike. Reeve got his sword up just in time, but the man swung lower than he had judged, and the tip kept going, cutting deeply into Reeve’s thigh. The Englishman gave one last wild yell as he lunged forward with his sword and stabbed the Scotsman through the middle, his leg giving out at the last minute so that he fell headlong into the boggy ground.
He hauled himself up again, breathing heavily from the pain. He could feel himself weakening from blood loss and he knew he had to get out of there soon before he was killed; perhaps find a horse to ride. He suddenly looked up at another knight, recognizing the tabard he wore.
“Gerard!” he cried and his friend looked over at him before he ran to his side. He too had lost his horse, it seemed. Reeve ripped a piece off of his tabard to tie around his leg wound, trying to get to his feet. His leg had no strength, however, and every move he took jostled the arrow in him, making him groan and clench his teeth.
“Reeve! You’re wounded,” Gerard said, getting an arm under his shoulder and hauling him to his feet. “Come on, they’ve called the retreat! There’s nothing we can do. Cressingham’s been killed and the Scots have us trapped. We have to go now!”
Reeve barely heard what he was saying as he was keeping all his mind on just putting one foot in front of the other. Gerard hauled him away as well as he could.
“Come on, Reeve, just a little farther,” he said. “Come on, I’m not dying here today!”
Reeve tried to pick up the pace, but he fell again, his wounded right leg was bleeding profusely and the arrow still sticking from him twisted and dug deeper as it was pressed against Gerard’s side where he leaned against him. Reeve cried out in pain and crumpled on the ground. Gerard cursed and tried to haul him to his feet again. Reeve looked behind him, panting, and saw that a group of Scots were coming toward them. Gerard saw them too and looked down at Reeve, fear clearly written on his face.
“Get up! Get up!” he screamed. “They’ll kill us!”
“I can’t,” Reeve told him weakly. “Make a stand with me, we might be able to hold them off.” Somehow, he realized, he had still managed to hold onto his sword. He made an honest effort to get to his feet and he swore he would fight to his last breath.
Gerard looked back again and then started to back away, dropping Reeve’s arm from his grasp. “I can’t, I’m sorry.”
“Where are you going?” Reeve asked him, trying to haul himself to his feet again with the aid of his sword.
“I’m sorry Reeve. Elizabeth—I—I can’t leave her. I’m sorry.” And just like that he sprinted across the field with the retreating knights and Reeve was left stunned, not knowing what to think. When he got his voice back he finally screamed after him.
“You coward! You leave your comrade on the field?! Coward!”
“Look what we have here!”
Reeve spun around as hands grabbed him and hauled him up and he found himself looking into the wild face of a dark-haired Scotsman. He struggled to get out of the man’s grasp, but his sword was knocked disdainfully from his hand and he was too weak to fight them single-handedly with only his fists. The man struck him across the face and he fell into a puddle, sprawling out on his back. The Scots laughed as he was hauled upright again, gasping in pain as the arrow dug deeper.
“A knight is good for a ransom, I’m thinking. Perhaps we shall take him back to camp and we might get some money out of him.”
“He’s no worth it, Gavin. He’s damaged goods,” said another man.
“Well, he can always be our camp tràill. Someone needs to do the mending and wash the dishes.”
Reeve struggled up again but the man’s foot was on his chest and he was grinning down at him.
“Don’t bother yerself,” he said in mock pity. “You have no strength left. You should rest.”
“I have all the strength I need,” Reeve spat then gritted his teeth with a bitten off scream as the man nudged the broken-off arrow shaft sticking from his side.
“I think you might do better with a little rest,” the Scotsman told him in a mock kind voice. “Sleep tight, Sassenach.”
The last thing Reeve saw was the hilt of a sword coming toward his face before he blacked out.
Hazel will be giving away an Amazon Gift Card during her tour to one randomly drawn commenter. Enter your information in the form below:
Hazel West spends a good bit of time writing historical fiction about brave men and women who have graced the pages of history, trying to bring more light to their legacies so readers of all ages will enjoy them. West’s favorite things to do are writing, obviously, listening to and playing Irish and Scottish folk music, practicing with all eras and types of historical weaponry, drinking GOOD COFFEE, and reading good books. She is currently live in Florida.
Visit Hazel West at her website.
Visit the rest of the blog tour:
August 27 – Meet & Greet at VBT Cafe’ Blog
August 29 – Review & Guest Blogging at A Book Lover’s Library
August 31 – Guest Blogging at Cindy Vine’s Blog
September 4 – Interviewed at BK Walker Books Etc.
September 6 – Interviewed at Reviews & Interviews
September 10 – Author Fun Facts & Fav Recipe at Writing Innovations E-zine
September 12 – Guest Blogging at Cafe Creations
September 14 – Interviewed at Black Hippie Chick’s Take On Books & The World
September 18 – Book Feature & Ebook Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
September 18 – Guest Blogging at Cindy Vine’s Blog
September 20 – Guest Blogging at The Bunny’s Review
September 22 – Book Feature & Excerpt at YA Reads
September 24 – Review & Guest Blogging at Turning The Pages
September 26 – Interviewed at MK McClintock’s Blog
September 28 – Book Feature & Excerpt at Whoopeeyoo
October 2 – Interviewed at A Word Fitly Spoken
October 4 – Review & Interview at Flipping The Pages