Book Review, Books, YA Book Club

YA Book Club: Loving WANDERLOVE…

This month, the YA Book Club (brainchild of the wonderful Tracey) is discussing WANDERLOVE by Kirsten Hubbard. I´ll try not be too spoilery (yes, I´m making up words – I´m all for creativity!)  for those of you who may not have read it.

WANDERLOVE: It all begins with a stupid question: Are you a Global Vagabond? 
No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path. 

I immersed myself in the story quite fast, after a few pages I was already “in” and I really enjoyed reading Bria´s adventure. The swoony elements were…well…SWOONY 😀 and I could feel her emotions. Always a wonderful plus in my book!

I re-read the ending several times and there are certain passages which made me react this way:

Mean Girls nodI did try to look a tad more inspired when I nodded though (promise), especially at this excerpt (and what better way to have the author actually read it for us – thanks for the magic of the internet and youtube):

This excerpt resonated in me. I left France when I just turned 19. Left my country, my family for an entire year to live with an American family and to take care of children. I thought I could maybe “reinvent” myself.  Nobody knew me there, I could be whoever I wanted to be. I ended up pretty much staying who I already was but I did grow up a lot during that year…

The main reason why I truly enjoyed this story (apart from the swoony bits) is the self-discovery part and for me it could have happened anywhere in the world. She could have been in a resort instead of backpacking and still go through the same emotions.

Having said that, I did really like how Kirsten enabled us to “see” the places Bria went to…I could visualize them and “feel” the water. I virtually traveled with all of them and for that I´m very grateful!

So tell me: what did you think of WANDERLOVE?

 How important is the setting of a story for you in general?

Book Review, young adult

Goddess Interrupted – A review and my take on mythology….

I´ve mentioned this before: I love mythology. I focused part of my Master´s thesis on the re-telling of MEDEA by Christa Wolf using feminism and new historicism theories. I immersed myself in the evolution of women´s image through the different adaptations of the myth. I also looked at MEDEA through Christa Wolf´s lens in regards to the divided Germany and her own personal history.

I breathed MEDEA for months. Christa Wolf did a big u-turn: in her story, Medea is not a child-murderer. I could spend hours discussing her version but this post is about GODDESS INTERRUPTED (sequel of The Goddess Test). Thanks to Netgalley, I read an ARC of this book on my kindle 🙂

Summary from GoodreadsKate Winters has won immortality. But if she wants a life with Henry in the Underworld, she’ll have to fight for it.Becoming immortal wasn’t supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she’s as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he’s becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate’s coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future.Henry’s first wife, Persephone.

Some reviews focus on how Aimee Carter changed the myth or how this book doesn´t live up to the expectations one has from Greek mythology or the story of Persephone in general…For me, it did not matter. I wanted a story to entertain me and it did. I wanted a story which takes a new take on a myth and it did. I wanted a story in which I can feel for the characters and it somewhat did. There are certain part of the stories during which I wished I could speak to Kate to get some sense into her but in a way, I enjoyed this because this meant I let myself dive into the story enough to have an opinion on the actions of the main characters. I´ll pick up the last installment of the trilogy when it comes out 😀

Tell me, are there any adaptation of famous stories that you really enjoyed reading?

Happy Friday, reading

Happy Friday #4: Shatter Me and other stories

Shatter Me

Goodreads summaryJuliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.  The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

I won Shatter Me at the beginning of the year and as you can imagine, did a little happy dance. It is the first book I win and it is signed by the author (Thanks again, Beth!).  Really, it is signed and with a great reminder too!

I received the book on Tuesday and started reading on Wednesday.

And…I love it! I want to hug it and hug Tahereh Mafi (not in a weird way just in a “Thank you for writing this book” way)

At the beginning I was unsure, the writing looked a bit different  innovative and I wondered if I could get used to it. Honestly, I did not dive into the story right away.  I was intrigued. My oh my, but when I did jump into it, there was no coming back 🙂 I did get used to the visual, I enjoyed it but I especially relished the poetry falling from some of the sentences and…the relationship between Juliette & Adam is jumping out of the pages. Their story made my heart beat a bit faster. For those of you who read the book, may I just say “Shower scene”, for those of you who didn’t let’s just put it that way: it is steaaammmmy and totally makes sense for the story. It’s not one of those shower scenes in a movie where you just know it has been added so the viewers can see a little bit more skin for no apparent reason. My hubby still loves these scenes 🙂

The way Adam handles his little brother is just another factor to root for him and brings on so many more emotions in the story. Of course, Shatter Me brings much more to the table that those two relationships, it handles feeling different, feeling rejected and acceptance in a touching manner.

Some of my favourite quotes:

  • “Hate looks like everybody else until it smiles”
  • “He takes my hand. Intertwines our fingers. Offers me a smile that manages to kiss my heart.”
  • “I grin. ‘So you’re ten years old?’ He crosses his arms. Frowns. ‘I’ll be twelve in two years.’ I think I already love this kid.”

Versatile Blogger Award: Thanks again Ann Elise Monte and S.M. Boyce 🙂

ChangeWriteNow:

Doing pretty well this week – and stopped smoking on Monday, 5.30pm. Technically one of my goal was to reduce smoking not totally quit but I told myself it was time. I am 30 years old, it’s a good age to stop smoking :-). If I could talk to my 23 year old self, I would tell her “It’s not worth it, it will increase your anxiety, not decrease it…and quitting will kick your butt” I am a paradox, never smoked in France where all my friends did and started in the US. Everything is a learning experience, I am trying my best, let’s see how it unfolds.

So, tell me what made you SMILE this week?

reading

How I fell in love with a Bronze Horseman…

Ask yourself these three questions, Tatiana Metanova, and you will know who you are.  Ask: What do believe in? What do you hope for? What do you love?”

When I first bought a book by Paullina Simons, I was strolling through the sales rack of Barnes and Nobles (I was a student at the time and trying by any way possible to appease my thirst for novels). I saw The Bronze Horseman, read the little blurb, it was about love and war and family and did I mention love? I went home with it and never regretted that decision once. It is one of those epic love stories which stay with you long after you turned off the lights.

The Bronze Horseman: From the author of the international bestseller Tully comes an epic tale of passion, betrayal, and survival in World War II Russia. Leningrad, 1941: The European war seems far away in this city of fallen grandeur, where splendid palaces and stately boulevards speak of a different age, when the city was known as St. Petersburg. Now two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha Metanov, live in a cramped apartment, sharing one room with their brother and parents. Such are the harsh realities of Stalin’s Russia, but when Hitler invades the country, the siege of its cities makes the previous severe conditions seem luxurious. Against this backdrop of danger and uncertainty, Tatiana meets Alexander, an officer in the Red Army whose self-confidence sets him apart from most Russian men and helps to conceal a mysterious and troubled past. (Picture and summary from Goodreads.com)

I fell hard for this book and for its characters. I mean, Alexander, is one of the most attractive character I got to know. Maybe I am bias because my husband´s family comes originally from Russia (yes we are international) and some of the nicknames used are ones I hear from times to times. The numerous references to Puschkin and her love for literature probably helped as well.

Diving into the story, we are transported in a time of terror but through which hope emerges. Tatiana is strong and stubborn. She grows up fast because she has to, her relationship with her grandparents and her sister shine through the book. It is not an easy situation and yes the moral may not come unhurt but the passion and its denyal are there. She holds her ground against him, she tries to stay true to her values and herself, growing up too fast in a changing world.

Of course, nothing can always be perfect and sometimes, I did feel like history was simplified and that there was a strong US vs Russia type of situation: Russian men bad, American men good (a little stereotypical but luckily the love of Tatiana for her grandfather and the honor, respect and good nature of some Russian soldiers do save the situation from times to times). There may be other things one could maybe complain about, but honestly I did not care because I jumped into the story head first.

Why? Because I rooted for Tatiana and Alexander, because one can feel like you are at home with her when she is starting to cook blinis for him and her family…

The Bronze Horseman is followed by Tatiana and Alexander and The Summer Garden. While I enjoyed Tatiana and Alexander, I was not able to immerse myself in the story as I did with The Bronze Horseman. The Summer Garden is different but it teaches us that even the most powerful of love can take awhile to heal the scars and the importance of not drifting apart. It took my breath away, in a different manner than The Bronze Horseman.

Oh and if you end up falling in love with The Bronze Horseman as much as I did, you can even get the recipes from the books (food plays such an important role in it). I have to admit, I only did one dish so far. My husband keeps on telling me the ones I want to make take too long and that his mom can cook them for us (she does and it is indeed yummy…). One day though, I will make piroshki.

Now I´m hungry, off to eat…but before I do a little question for you: is there an epic love story you could not put down and read several times? Or what, according to you, makes a story a beautiful love story? Feel free to let me know if you hate love stories 🙂

Observations, writing

Week 43: Reading, reading, reading…

“The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of the past centuries.”

Descartes

Commuting means that I have time to read; even if I am standing up I usually have a book in my hand… I have an eclectic taste: I read thrillers, historical novels or biographies (currently devouring everything related to 16th and 17th century France), classics, romantic novels, war novels, YA…I am thinking of writing reviews once a month on this blog on top of my regular posts.

My husband is getting desperate (is there a show called Desperate Husbands? Could be a nice spin-off…note to self: need to stop my mind from wandering while I type)

I usually go through at least 3 books a week. My sister did let him know that I always loved reading. I did immerse myself in Victor Hugo when I was about 7 or 8. As a teenager, I could happily just lay in bed on a rainy afternoon with a novel in front of me (ok sometimes even when it was not raining…I am such a dork)…My husband, on the other hand, mainly reads technical books or biographies and he does not have much time to turn the pages so he does not understand why I buy myself so many books. I am starting to hear regularly “Where are you going to put them?” “Do not dare moving my helicopter!” and does use threats such as “if you don’t (insert verb), I will throw all your books away…”

I thought about buying a kindle but am not ready to give up the feeling of pages turning via my fingers, the weight of the book next to me when I fall asleep dreaming about what I have just read.

I love when I cannot put a book down because I just want to know what happens. As an aspiring writer, this is what I would like for my readership, to be able to take them away for a few hours to a different place, a different time…I even get that funny feeling when I fall in love with a book, one that I know I will re-read in the future because the words have touched me in more ways than one.

Some day, one day…maybe somebody will ponder about my stories…

Happy reading to all!