YA Review: Fangirl

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell

This is another YA novel I should have read ages ago! The setup for Fangirl is very clever. Cath is starting her first year of university. She’s shy, socially awkward, and she’d rather stay in her room and write fan fiction than go to parties. Her twin sister Wren embraces the social side of college, and the two find themselves drifting apart.

Here’s the clever part – when she’s not completing assignments, Cath is one of the most popular authors of fan fiction for the Simon Snow books – a fictional series about a boy attending a school for magicians. She ships the main characters, changes their relationships with each other and with their fellow students – and she has thousands of fans. She’s writing her own version of the eighth and final book in the series, and she needs to post all her chapters on the fan fiction website before the official final book is published. Personal disasters, family emergencies, and college deadlines have to take second place to her creative project – but not everyone appreciates her devotion to Simon and Baz. Fangirl, and the extracts from Cath’s fan fiction included on the book, proved so popular that Rainbow Rowell went on to write full versions of Cath’s fan novels – Carry On and Wayward Son. It was fun to read the novel that started the series, and produced addictive fan fiction for books that don’t exist.

Just as the fictional fan fiction plays games with the reader’s expectations, Fangirl takes its characters in some unexpected directions. A story that could have followed a straightforward ‘shy girl writes books, makes mistakes with boys’ plot instead explores friendships, exploitative relationships, unconventional families, addiction, mental illness, and a wonderful moment of revenge. Definitely not what I was expecting, Fangirl plays with YA tropes, fandom, and storytelling to produce an emotional story, and – accidentally – an entirely new fandom. Carry on, Simon and Baz!

Have you read Fangirl? What did you think of the story? And what about the fan fiction extracts? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.

Please keep your comments YA appropriate. Be patient! We want to hear from you, but comments are moderated, and may take some time to appear.

Adventures in Publishing

The publication date for Battle Ground (Battle Ground #1) is fast approaching, and we’re hard at work, making sure everything is ready for our readers!

Proof copies

I am so excited to finally have a proof copy of the paperback edition in my hands! There’s nothing like seeing the manuscript you’ve been perfecting on a screen for eighteen months converted into a gorgeous physical book. I keep picking it up and turning the pages, just to check it’s real!

Sadly it is only a proof copy, so you’ll have to imagine it without the grey stripe. Not long now until we have copies of the real thing!


Taller Books will be at the Young Adult Literary Convention in July, launching Battle Ground on publication day. We’re already busy designing flyers and staff badges and the backdrop for our stand. If you’re coming to YALC, make sure you say hello!

The Battle Ground series book covers

Battle Ground series

Rachel has been working hard on the rest of the series, making sure the books are edited and proofread in time to publish them later in the year.

Publication dates for the Battle Ground books are:

Battle Ground (Battle Ground #1) – 25th July 2019
False Flag (Battle Ground #2) – 5th September 2019
Darkest Hour (Battle Ground #3) – 17th October 2019
Fighting Back (Battle Ground #4) – 28th November 2019
Victory Day (Battle Ground #5) – 3rd January 2020

And don’t forget our FREE novella, Making Trouble, available now.

Getting there …

We’ve got a lot more work to do before we launch Battle Ground, but we’re looking forward to making all the books in the series available to our readers. Keep an eye out here for announcements, or join our mailing list to stay up to date.

Click through to the full blog to say hello in the comments section! We’d love to hear from you.

Click through to the full blog to access the comments section. Please keep your comments YA appropriate. Be patient! We want to hear from you, but comments are moderated, and may take some time to appear.

Read a lot and write a lot: the role of reviews

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.

Stephen King, On Writing

What makes a good writer?

That’s a big question. Is it a talent you’re born with, or a skill you can learn? Is it your ideas, or your storytelling – or your characters?

I think it is all these things. I think it is talent and hard work. I think it is learning how to frame your ideas, how to build your stories, and how to connect with your characters.

And how do you learn these things? You write. You write again. And you write some more.

But you know what else you need to do?

Read. A lot.


This is my recent reading pile. These are books that have gripped and inspired me. Books that have crept into my mind, pulled up a chair, and refused to leave.

I’ve thought about them. I’ve analysed them. I’ve turned back through the pages, looking for the source of the magic.

And I’ve written reviews.


Reviews are partly for the audience. They are partly to show other readers what I enjoyed about the books, and what I loved about them. To inspire other people to read and enjoy them.

And they are partly for me.

They give me a reason and an opportunity to think about ideas, story, and character. They push me to figure out how other writers communicate their stories, and their ideas. They force me to put my feelings about a book into words, and to understand where the magic comes from.

They help me to improve my ideas, my storytelling, and my characters.


You’ll find my YA reviews on GoodReads. I read as much as I can, and I review what I read. It helps other authors – I’m promoting their books, after all – but it also helps readers to find me. If you like reading what I like reading, you’ll probably enjoy the books I write!

In writing reviews of my books, readers can help expose them to a wider audience.

We’re all helping each other. The books I read and the reviews I write help me to be a better writer. The reviews I write help readers to find new authors and new books to add to their reading piles. And the reviews you write take my books – and all the books you write about – to new readers.

Over to you

If you’ve read Making Trouble, my FREE novella, I hope you enjoyed it. I hope it crept into your mind and pulled up a chair, and I hope you found yourself caring about Toph and Nasrin and Alec and Charlie and Rob.

If you did, I’d like to ask a favour.

Write me a review. It doesn’t have to be long, and it doesn’t have to be detailed. Tell other readers what you liked about the book – or what you didn’t like! Don’t spoil the story or give away the plot, but let other readers know what to expect. Add your voice to the reviews on GoodReads or LibraryThing, or your favourite review site, and use the comments section below to tell us about it.

You’ll be sending me feedback, which is always helpful. You’ll be holding a book you’ve enjoyed out to other readers, and influencing what they choose to read next. And you’ll be figuring out for yourself what I did with my ideas, my story, and my characters.

Whether you’re a reader or a writer, that can only be a good thing.

Click through to the full blog to access the comments section. Please keep your comments YA appropriate. Be patient! We want to hear from you, but comments are moderated, and may take some time to appear.