Wednesday, August 20, 2014

100% Adorable:: Isla and the Happily Ever Afters by Stephanie Perkins

My Summary::
Isla has had a crush on Josh for as long as she can remember. After an awkward run-in with him over the summer, she returns to school (they go to boarding school in Paris btw) to discover that the dynamic between them has changed- all of a sudden the boy of her dreams might finally like her back. What Isla isn't prepared for however, is what to do after she gets her happily ever after. Set in Paris, but also New York City and Barcelona, Isla must find her own courage to believe in herself, in order to believe in love.

My Review::
This book is so beautiful I can't even handle it. I basically read it all in one sitting (with the exception of eating dinner). I could not put it down for the life of me and ended up being up till 4:30 AM finishing it. The books is very well-written, especially the details of the cityscapes that Isla and Josh inhabit. One of my favorite lines of description was when they look down at Paris, "The serpentine river and crumbling cathedrals and sprawling palaces an everything, yes, everything is visible from here." Perkins creates these over the time, cinematic moments- first kisses with fireworks, late night escapes in museums, and a swoon-worthy trip to Spain. This contrasts with very realistic teenagery language and delightfully awkward moments that keep the story grounded in the real world. I completely adored the way it was written, which I think is one of the novel's strongest points.

I also really loved Isla's character. She reminded me a lot of myself- sweet, a little shy, bright, and loyal. At times Isla would be over dramatic in how she saw the world and their romance, which actually also reminded me a lot of myself. In all, Isla's character felt very real and unique to me. I feel like she isn't the traditional YA heroine, which I think is why she really jumped out to me. Josh seemed wonderfully complex- full of plans for the future, but can't take school seriously, yet is the son of Senator. I enjoyed discovering him different facets alongside Isla.

My only critique might be that the novel takes place over a relatively short amount of time for drama and romance that it seems to carry. It makes me doubt the longevity of Isla and Josh's relationship. I had the same feeling about Anna and St. Clair (from Anna and the French Kiss) and they seemed to turn out just fine (btw they are in this book too and will make you squeal with happiness).

I definitely recommend this book, especially if you love Europe and romance. It is adorable, but also witty, beautifully written, and smart.

Perfect if you loved:: The Fault in Our Stars (especially if you liked the part they go to Amsterdam- Isla and Josh's trip to Spain was reminiscent of that), 13 Little Blue Envelopes (European travel, romance, ect), Anna and the French Kiss (it is based on two minor characters from this book, but you don't have to have read it in order enjoy this)
My Rating:: 26 out of 30

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Living the Dream:: Almost French by Sarah Turnbull

My Summary::
Australian journalist Sarah is finishing up a year spent in Europe by traveling to Bucharest, Romania where she meets Frederic. He invites her to spend a week with him in Paris, but instead, she decides to spend the rest of her life with him. As Sarah takes a chance on love and adventure, but soon learns that life in Paris so different than her former life in Australia. Through her lovely and thoughtful memoir Sarah tells the story of being part of two countries and cultures.

My Review::
This books is really lovely. It is told in little vignettes of life in Paris, especially compared to life in Anglo-Saxon areas (specifically Australia). As a journalist stationed in Paris, Sarah lots of chances to experience lots of very "french" things for the sake of journalism- she goes to haute couture fashion shows, she dines at one of Paris's most celebrated restaurants, she takes her dog to a puppy salon. At the same time, she has many normal human disasters, homesickness, and faux pax. There are lots of details, often showing a side of France we normally don't get to see- the homeless and weird building regulations.

I wish the book had included more of her and Frederic's relationship. I guess I can understand that since it is non-fiction, she might not want to tell all- but I felt as if they went from strangers to a practically married couple so quickly. I really wanted the love story behind it- like the moments she fell in love with him or drama they experienced. I also thought the pacing was a little strange. I had expected it to read more like a story, but it would jump forward rather quickly from one spot to another, which made it more dream-like (which I suppose one could argue is how memoirs should be).

In all, I enjoyed the book. It really takes you to Paris. The book is over 10 years old now though, so I wonder how the city has progressed since then. It is a perfect book if you are traveling to France as a way of understanding the culture better, especially in comparison with your own.

Perfect if you loved:: A Movable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
My Rating:: 19 out of 30

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Classics Double Feature: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway and A Room With a View by E.M Forster

For those of you who don't know, I have spent the last 6 weeks working at an overnight summer camp. Unfortunately that doesn't make much time for blogging or reading, so here is a catch up post on my thoughts of the books I read while the campers were napping.

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

My Summary::
Henry is an American serving the Italian Army as an ambulance driver. Catherine is charming English nurse he meets during World War I. They quickly fall in love and try to navigate their relationship through the War to End All Wars. But in an event as hideous as war, can love, can anything really, survive?

My Review::
I really, really loved this book. It is heart breaking, iconically so. It is also very beautiful as well. I really love Hemingway's writing style- his dialogue seems so real and clear. I especially loved this novel because we got to see this romantic side to him- the love story between Henry and Catherine is so classic and so raw as well. Maybe I'm just a sucker for WWI era romances, but I really loved every scene they shared together and really savored every moment of it.

There are some things I didn't care for. There were a lot of scenes of "men talking men stuff." I ended up just skipping some of these parts because they were very boring. I also am not a huge fan of long descriptions of battles, but many site that as one of this novel's strong points, so although it wasn't my favorite part, it was certainly notable.

This book is a classic and rightly so. It has romance, adventure, love, loss, war, and lots of reflection on all these aspects. And of course an ending that will rip your heart out- because that is, after all, what war does.

Perfect if you Loved:: Crimson Road- a new BBC series about love and loss at a WWI field hospital
My Rating:: No rating for classics :)

A Room With a View

My Summary::
On a trip to Italy with her cousin, Lucy Honeychurch witnesses a man being stabbed. Like all good early 20th-Century heroines, she promptly swoons- luckily right into the arms of George Emerson. It becomes clear as her trip continues that George has feelings for her, but Lucy's cousin disapproves and she finds herself whisked out of Florence, never to see George again. That is until a few months later, when he reappears, but this time Lucy is engaged. In a beautiful tale of progress and true love, Lucy find the courage to live the life wants.

My Review::
This story is adorable. It is a very classic forbidden love, "will they, won't they" type story- but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable. The characters and romance are so real, it is hard not to forget that they are living almost 100 years ago. I am a huge Downton Abbey fan and it felt like this story could have easily fit in there, especially the second half which takes place at an old estate.

My only complaint is that the writing can be a little old and verbose sometimes. Of course, working at a summer camp with crazy kids often made me tired and I found myself falling asleep on this book more times than one. I still enjoyed and found it a pretty quick reading, given that I only had like 10 or 15 minutes a day to read.

Perfect if you loved:: A Summer in Europe by Marilyn Brant which is a loose modern retelling of this (I didn't realize this until after finishing A Room with a View)
My Review:: No review for classics ;) 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Behind the Pilot:: The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

My Summary::
When Anne Morrow joins her family for Christmas Vacation in Mexico City where her father is an ambassador, she finds that her family is surprisingly joined Charles Lindbergh. The young aviator has just flown his landmark flight from New York to Paris and now the hero of the nation. So what a surprise it is to Anne when Charles takes an interest in her- taking her on private flights, before proposing to her. Anne has always dreamed of marrying a hero and who is a bigger hero than Lucky Lindy. As Anne accepts her role at aviator's wife, she begins to explore her identity- a wife, a mother, a writer, and as a woman.

My Review::
In all honesty, I am quite mixed about this book. I recently read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain which I very much enjoyed, so I thought I might try this one. I didn't enjoy this book as much at The Paris Wife. The Hemingway marriage only lasted 4 years, so the story was more intimate and succinct, whereas this novel attempted to span the entirety of the Lindbergh. The problem with this is that it needed to cover a long amount of time from their courtship in the 20's to Charles' death in the 70's. Because of this the story got tedious at times. It wasn't a book that I wanted to read in a few sittings, but spanned out over a week or so. I also disliked the way that Benjamin wasn't loyal to fact. I like leaving a historical fiction books with a deeper and richer understanding of the people involved, however with this book I'm not sure what was fact and what was fiction, which makes me a little uncomfortable.

There a lot of huge positive things about this novel, that shouldn't be discredited. Anne is a wonderfully complex character, perhaps mostly because the real Anne was a very complicated woman. I was impressed with the way that the author wove together the different facets of Anne: a daring aviatrix, an aspiring author, a fiercely protective mother, a loyal wife- into one cohesive person. Charles himself was just as complex, though never really likable. The characters and story were intriguing and it is only now that I'm finished reading that I realize how much I will miss their world.

Perfect if You Loved:: Historical books about strong and complex women (I can't think of a specific book that I would link with this)
My Rating (out of 30):: 16

Friday, June 20, 2014

All The Books??

Hi Everyone,

I've been looking at other blogs and realized that a lot of them keep a list of the all the books they've read that year. I read a lot of books for my university, not just for my English major, but for other classes too like french and education ones. So my list of books looks a little different than most other book lists (which I why I kinda hesitated to post this). Anyway, a link to this list will always be under the "All The Reviews" tab at the top and you guys are definitely free to discuss any of the books on there with me. I've marked ones that were rereads and ones I read in other languages.

All The Books (2014 Edition)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday:: Books to Read this Summer

The Broke and Bookish run this weekly meme where bloggers post their top ten in any category!

This week's theme is "Books I Want to Read this Summer." I might not read these all this summer, but I'll hopefully read them soon. I tried to include a good mix of YA, Adult Fiction, New Releases, Classics, and Non-Fiction

1- Almost French by Sarah Turnbull- I've been wanting to read this since I first started flipping through it at the library a few months back. It's a non-fiction story of an Aussi who gets invited by this random French dude to visit him in Paris and ends up marrying him and living there. Can't wait to read it, especially since I'll be living Paris next spring! :)
2- A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway- Since I studied this book in high school during Quiz Bowl, I've always wanted to actually read it. The power of love and enormity of loss seemed so powerful. Now that I've been on a Hemingway kick this summer, I figured I'd try to finally read it.
3- A Room with a View by E. M. Forester- I read A Passage to India earlier this year in a lit class, and I've been wanting to read another by him. I've also been interested in reading something about Florence, since I learned about Stendhal Syndrome in my creative writing class. And there are old country estates, which always are my fave so this book seemed like a good choice.
4- Save Me the Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald- I'm like weirdly obsessed with the Lost Generation and I really want to read Zelda's only novel.
5- Londoners by Craig Taylor- It's a series of non-fiction essays by people who live in London about what it is like to live there. I've never been to London, but I've always wanted to. This way when I am traveling in Europe next spring I can go there and be prepared.
6- The Penderwicks by Jane Birdsall- I've heard this compared to one of my all time favorite series "The Casson Family." I utterly adore books about quirky families with cute kids!
7-  Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell- I loved Fangirl and I've heard a lot of great things about this book too. I definitely want to read it if I get a chance.
8- Ilsa and the Happily Ever Afters by Stephanie Perkins- I am still not over how much I loved Anna and the French Kiss and this companion takes place in France and seems deep and interesteding and gah I need to read this!
9- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthoney Doerr- This WWII novel takes place in St. Malo, a really cute seaside town in France that I visited a few months ago when I was last in France. I'd love to go back through this book, which just came out and is highly rated.
10- The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin- I'm about 200 pages through this- so hopefully I'll finish and review this soon!

What are you reading this summer? Have you read any of the books on my list? Leave me some comments, lovelies :)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Not Actually Downton Abbey:: The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons

My Summary::
Elise Landau is a Jewish daughter of an opera singer and a novelist, living among the bourgeois in Vienna. On the brink of WWII, her family sends her off to England to work as maid, in hopes it will keep her safe. She is hired at the house at Tyneford, a great old house, occupied by Mr. Rivers and his 21 year old son, Kit. At first Elise is thrown, she barely speaks English, she's never had to take care of herself- much less others, and she constantly worries about the family she has left behind. Elise's unique position of being both upper and lower class allows her to change Tyneford forever.

My Review::
I saw a lot of mixed reviews for this, but I figured I'd give it a try. The premise of the book seemed so interesting that I figured it couldn't be that bad. It was.

The first 1/3 of the book seemed promising, the second 1/3 was still okay, but after that it got weird and boring. I obviously don't want to give the plot away for those who choose to read it, but I found the ending uncomfortable and boring (as well as a little confusing). The plot had so many interesting possibilities that could have made it a fascinating novel, but instead, it was awkward and disappointing. Once I figured out how this was ending, my interest in the book faded and I had to really push myself to finish it.

There were a few high points (though the icky plot detracted from it). The writing is lovely and it has lot of descriptions of the English countryside, but there are SO many that I ended up skimming most of them. The characters seem complex. I loved Kit, he felt so real and like someone who I might know. Elise, however, it seemed like the author tried to make her so "flawed" that she seemed unlikable.

In general, I don't recommend it. I love Downton Abbey and the cover said that it would appease Downton fans, but it didn't really seem anything like it at all.

Perfect if You Loved:: Atonement by Ian McEwan (though it isn't nearly as good, but it has similarities with it)
Rating (out of 30):: 9

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Paris Memoirs:: A Movable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

My Summary::
Written by Ernest Hemingway in the last years of his life, these memoirs reflect on his time as an expat in 1920's Paris. Between struggling to produce writing, making friends with the artists and writers in Paris, and navigating his relationship with his wife- A Moveable Feast takes you to the world of the Lost Generation.

My Review::
This is a lovely and wistful look at 1920's Paris. It is evident that it is written by an older man, slowly losing his mental abilities looking back at his youth. To me, this gave the book the sort of shiny quality of looking back in time. It is a book of short moments, chapters that tell of little conversations between Hemingway and other expats. You meet Gertrude Stein, Ford Maddox Ford, and Sylvia Beach. The last 1/3 or so was spent recounting his experiences with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. As much as the book is dream-like, it is also honest and critical. Hemingway spares no one of his memories of them and many of the literary figures who are in his book aren't always displayed in a glowing light. In many ways, the reader, especially one that knows the quirks of Hemingway himself is left to make their own decision over the character of each person.

I don't recommend reading this until you've read a bit of Hemingway or know a bit about him. This book came perfect after reading The Paris Wife by Paula McLain and The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway. I know that I wouldn't have gotten the same reading experience if I didn't have the background I did. Hemingway can be vague about certain elements, and knowing more about him helps you flesh that out into the truth. Being familiar with Paris helps too, but I think a background in Hemingway would be even more helpful.

Perfect if you love:: Anything by Hemingway or you are interested in the Lost Generation/1920's Paris
No Rating for Classics :)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday:: Books in Beach Bag

The Broke and Bookish run this weekly meme where bloggers post their top ten in any category!

This week's theme is "Book in my Beach Bag." My family is lucky enough to own a cottage on Lake Huron and I love reading on the beach there. I tried to pick light, summery books. The kind you can read, then swim, then read some more, then nap/tan- you know?

Me Reading at the Beach :)

Here are my thoughts:

  1. Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daily- Angie and Jack have the quintessential summer romance the summer before she goes to college. This classic YA was written in 1940 and shows just how timeless young love is.
  2. Sleepaway Girls by Jen Calonita- If to you summer means camp time, this book is for you! A very disney channel movie-esque YA about Sam's shenanigans as a counselor in training.
  3. 3 Willows by Ann Brashares- The summer before freshman year, 3 old friends come back together, but not before having their own summer adventures- working at a beachside restaurant, hiking in the wilderness, and training to become a model. Great beach book because you get to have 3 summer adventures in one!
  4. Viola in the Spotlight by Adriana Trigalini- When Viola returns home to NYC after a year at boarding school she has to deal with confronting her BFF/BF, missing her awesome roommates, and being an intern for a Broadway production. Perfect "summer in the city" book!
  5. Summer of the War by Gloria Whelan- Summer on Turtle Island in Northern Michigan is Belle's favorite, but this summer is different. It's 1942 and the war in Europe might be closer than she things. This middle grade historical fiction captures summer and struggle!
  6. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson- If you prefer your summer reads to be about European adventures, this one goes in your beach bag! A mystery scavenger hunt around Europe, a run away aunt, and one incredible summer for Ginny.
  7. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green- Summer is the perfect time for a roadtrip, especially if you need to get over your ex-girlfriend. This was the first John Green book I ever read and is both hilarious and intelligent.
  8. A Summer in Europe by Marilyn Brant- Another book for those who love European summers. After her boyfriend doesn't propose to her, Gwen heads to Europe on tour for sudoko players- complete with lots of old people, two brothers named after famous transcendentalists, and maybe even some romance.
  9. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen- I didn't like this book very much, but it was so summery I could practically feel the burst of air conditioning whenever Auden walked in a building and the sand between my feet when she was at the beach.
  10. Atonement by Ian McEwan- I read this book on the beach last summer. The first part takes place on a very very hot summers day and you could real feel the heat (not just with the temperature ;))

Will you put any of these in your beach bag? What books should I put in mine? Let me know!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hilarious and Spooky:: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Rory is jazzed to be starting at boarding school in London. I mean, who wouldn't be? Despite the difficult academics and endless field hockey practices, vivacious Rory loves her new school and living in a new city. However, starting with the day of her arrival, a series of murders break out around London. Each murder is in the style of Jack the Ripper. When Rory sees a man the night of one of murder, she becomes the only witness. Yet, her roommate was standing beside her and didn't see the man. More and more Rory realizes she is seeing people that no one else can. Is Rory going crazy or is something more sinister at work?

The best way I can describe this book is Anna and French Kiss meets Sherlock. It starts out as basic "girl goes to boarding school in Europe" story. Reading it you are caught up in her classes and roommate and boys, that ever so slowly you don't know that the story is slowly turning into a supernatural murder mystery. This is good for me, since I'm not a huge supernatural/mystery person, so I really enjoyed the way Johnson brought these too genres together.

I've always been a fan of Maureen Johnson's writing style. If you haven't read 13 Little Blue Envelopes
you are missing out on one of my favorite travel stories. The Name of the Star was just as candid and fun, but also hilarious. Rory comes from a small town in Louisiana with uncle who has eight freezer and a cousin who does "Angel Healing Therapy." Sometimes I felt that Rory got too ridiculous, which hurt the believability of the book, but all in all her character was really fun and an interesting narrator.
My only other complaint is that I really like Jazza and Jerome's characters and I was kinda sad they pushed aside for the majority of the second half. There is supposed to be a sequel, so maybe they will make a come back then.

All in all, the story was gripping, but enjoyable. I feel like it is hard to write to make someone laugh in a story about gruesome Jack the Ripper murders, but Rory's narration made it all come together perfectly.

Perfect if you loved:: Anna and the French Kiss (especially the boarding school aspect), Sherlock (the murder mystery part), House of Anubis (it was a TV show on Nickelodeon a few years ago about kids in a British boarding school solving mysteries, so basically the same thing)
Rating (out of 30):: 19

Monday, May 26, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday:: The Top Ten Books for Dancers

The Broke and Bookish run this weekly meme where bloggers post their top ten in any category!

Fun Fact: I love ballet
This week was a "freebie." Since this blog is just getting started (on blogspot at least), I figured this would be a good time to get to know me. And one thing about me is that I LOVE dance, especially ballet! So I decided to do a list about that. I'm not a huge fan of dance books that are only about girls dealing with EDs or only about girls who are seduced by older man, so this list has none of those! Here are my favorites:

1- Bunheads by Sophie Flack- This book such a real and raw look at the world of ballet. It's written by a former NYCB corp member, so it captures the joys and struggles of life in the corp. This book inspired me to start writing about my experience in dance. I'm forever glad I found this book!
2- En Pointe by Lora Glover- Written in prose, this book is a lovely story about trying your hardest to achieve dreams and learning how to live when they don't come true.
3, 4, and 5- Ballet Shoes, Dancing Shoes, and Theater Shoes by Noel Stratfield- These are the only three "shoe books" I've read, but I really loved them as kid. They are about family and performing and are beautiful.
6- The Royal Ballet School Diaries by Alexandra Moss- These are definitely for a younger audience. I read them when I was in 6th grade and even then, they were a little young for me. However, they are the reason I fell in love with ballet and they definitely make ballet feel magical.
7- Margot Fonteyn: An Autobiography- She's a ballet legend, the prima of all primas. Reading her story is forever interesting. Her account of being a ballet dancer during WWII inspired me to write a story for my fiction writing class (I got an A- which was huge for my professor).
8- Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You by Dorian Cirrone- What happens to a dancer when she doesn't have the body type and never will? This is a story of humor and courage- and one of the most difficult parts of ballet.
9- The Year My Sister Got Lucky by Aimee Friedman- Two dancing sister and the move that changes their world. Not as dance related as the others, but it's still there.
10- Girl in Motion by Miriam Wenger-Landis- This isn't my favorite ballet book, but if you liked Bunhead or Dance Academy (my favorite Austrialian teen drama tv show), you might enjoy this too. It's a young girl at NYC's best dance school trying to find her way in the ever competitive world of dance.

I still feel like I'm missing some important ones, but I can't think of what they are! Oh no! Leave me comments about your favorite ballet books and maybe I'll think of the ones I missed!

Actually Adorkable:: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I'm up at my cottage for Memorial Weekend, which means lots of beach time and lots of beach reading! This is the second book I've finished this weekend, and I'm 133 pages into my third.

Starting her freshman year at the University of Nebraska could not be worse for Cath. Her twin sister, Wren, has deserted her for party girl roommate. Her father, still troubled after their mother left them years before, is taking the sudden loneliness hard. She can't connect with her roommate, who is constantly going out with different boys. The only thing that gives Cath joy is writing Simon Snow (basically Harry Potter) fanfiction. Her most recent fic has thousands upon thousands of readers and she has fans from around the world. That's all a girl needs in life, right?

I found this book while walking around the local B&N and I stopped to read it for twenty minutes and was hooked. So I went to the library the next day and checked it out. I got really into it quickly, as the story is so approachable. The voice is so true teens/college kids that it really jumps from the page. Perhaps in 5 years this story will feel dated, but now it feels so real. 

In some ways, Cath reminded me of myself when I was a college freshman- a little bit scared and awkward (who isn't), but a little bit judgmental too. In the way almost all college kids do, she finds a way to overcome this, which was relatable and reassuring. Her experience though has something relatable for everyone- whether you like fanfiction, farming, family drama, ect. There are so many points of entry into this story, so it has a broad appeal to readers. Rowell does a great job of giving Cath a well rounded life- she has a very fleshed out family, friend, and boy life. I like how the plot moved. Things seemed really bleak in the beginning, but things kept getting better for her throughout the book, with still keeping a sense of drama. I really liked Levi. I'm not one to fall for the "tall, dark, and handsome"stereotype that you find in most YA, so I loved him for being the opposite of that!

There were only a few things that I didn't like. The third person narration made me feel a little too distant from Cath. I think the story would have been much stronger in first person. It was hard to always tell if the narrator was using "style indirect" or was just a witty narrator. I also didn't always believe that Cath was 18 and in college. Most the time, she seemed mature, but other times she seemed vastly immature. There is a scene where she turns a piece of fanfiction into her Fiction Writing professor and is upset and angry when her prof calls her out for plagiarism. It seemed silly to me that a girl who got into an upper level Fiction Writing class as a freshman would consider that acceptable. 

I definitely recommend this book. It's a good balance of cute and heavy, and the sort of book that really makes you care about the characters.

Perfect If You Loved:: Just One Day (especially if you liked her college bits), fanfiction or being part of fandom in general
Rating (Out of 30):: 23

Have you read Fangirl? What did you think?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Perfect Follow Up:: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

Jake Barnes is in love with Lady Brett Ashley, as are all of his friends. Jake, more an observer than contender for Brett's love, narrates the journeythat he and his expatriate friends make from Paris, France to Pamploma, Spain to watch the bull fights. The novel tells of both the hijinks and the horrors that occur when several men are in love with the same woman.

I find it hard to review classics- how am I supposed to review something written by someone almost a hundred years ago and with so much influence? I guess I'll try! I think that reading classics are so much fun because there is so much stuff out there to support your reading- from Sparknotes to critical essays- so that you make sure you get the most of your experience (so take advantage of cool resources, even if you are reading the classics not for school). I'm working really hard to try to start reading classics outside of my English major classes.

I really liked Hemingway's style of writing. I'd never read anything by him before and I found his writing really digestible. If you want to start reading classics on your own, Hemingway is a great place to start. His writing is so clear- you never get lost or can't understand what is happening. I always felt like he took you to the places he wrote about. When Jake was in Paris, it really felt like you were there, which a lot of authors can't do well. His dialogue is really dynamic too. It really jumps off the page, which makes it quick to read.

Plotwise- I really enjoyed reading if after finishing The Paris Wife. He wrote it during the time when McLain's book takes place, so it is easy to see the correlation between real events and the events of the book. At first it was hard to tell the difference between all of Jake's friends, but by the end, I felt like I knew they all pretty well. I'm not very keen on bullfighting at all, so I got bored/disgusted during the bull fighting scenes. Despite this, the scenes of dialogues and the dynamic relationships that were shown in the book made up for it.

Perfect if you loved:: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (he helped Hemingway edit this), The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (it was the perfect follow up), generally anything taking place during the 1920's in Europe

No Ratings for Classics :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Friendship Books

The Broke and Bookish run this weekly meme where bloggers post their top ten in any category! This week's theme was books about friendship!

  1. Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales- This book is the ideal friendship book. Violet and Katie have been friends for a really long time and go to the same competitive, private school- but have very different personalities. Their ups and downs are so relatable!
  2. 3 Willows by Ann Brashares- Everyone has those friends who used to be super close in elementary school, but grew apart as they got older. This book is about the summer that brings three old friends back together again.
  3. The Year My Sister Got Lucky by Aimee Friedman- Sometimes your sister can also be your best friend, so what does that mean when you move and your sister becomes the most popular girl in school?
  4. Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani- Getting left at a boarding school while your parents shoot documentaries can be a drag, but Viola ends up meeting some of the coolest roommates that make her life better and become her best friends.
  5. The Casson Family Books by Hilary McKay- (These books will be on every list ever because they are the most perfect books) The Casson Family collects lots of different friends from their neighbor Sarah to ex-bully David to a hippie named Derek. The Casson's friends are all different ages and levels of quirkiness, proving that just about anyone can be their friend.
  6. Paper Towns by John Green- Only really really good friends would skip graduation so that you could track down the girl you've been crushing on forever.
  7. Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass- Three very different kids meet and become unlikely friends during an eclipse
  8. Things Hoped For by Andrew Clements- Proof that you can have a book about a boy and a girl where they just friends! Bobby has a girlfriend, Alicia, so the relationship between Gwen and Bobby is just friendship, which is just as important!
  9. The Saddle Club by Bonnie Bryant- This was one for my favorite as a kid! Three very different girls, all drawn together by their love horses, form the quintessential group of friends.
  10. Harry Potter by JK Rowling- I've seen this on a ton of other lists and lets be honest- Harry, Ron, and Hermione make up one of the best trios to ever exist. You can't not love them!

What are your Top Ten books about friendship? Do you agree with any of mine? 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Behind the Writer:: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

My Summary:: 
When Hadley Richardson spends a summer in Chicago with her friend, she is swept off her feet by Ernest Hemingway. He is intriguing, like no one she has met before- ruggedly outdoorsy, delicately damaged from WWI, and a dedicated writer. After their marriage, they leave for Paris to take on the literary scene. While Ernest begins the writing that will drive his career, Hadley puts everything into becoming the supportive wife and mother. Yet Paris in the 20's, full of the greatest American artists at the time and lots of alcohol, was never the place of traditional domestic bliss. In a place where wild affairs lace cafe culture, heartbreak is inevitable.

My Review::
This book is lovely. It was very easy for me to latch on to Hadley's voice and story. Hadley and Ernest's romance is captivating from the very start. They are vivacious and very much in love. It's because of this that you find yourself rooting for a failing romance. You know from the start they are doomed, after all Hemingway had 4 wives, Hadley being the first. So the ending is no surprise, but that doesn't make it any less heartbreaking (I cried).

I really liked Hadley's voice in the story. It really came to life and captured her charm. She had the cadence of a woman from the 20's and its very obvious that the author put a lot of work into researching Hadley. McLain nails not the just the events and history with accuracy, but it's clear she spent a really long time getting to know the characters through reading their letters and other personal documents. At the same time, Hadley seems such a real and familiar character, it makes the 20's not seem so far away.

My only complaint, as I have a surprising amount of books about Paris, is that I never felt it really took me there. This is a book about people- Hadley and Ernest, as well as their literary friends. The author never went to Paris until after writing novel, so that might have had an effect on the focus on people rather than places.

Perfect If You Loved:: Basically anything by Ernest Hemingway (The Sun Also Rises especially), Midnight in Paris
Rating (out of 30):: 24

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

So let's try that again...

I made this blog last summer after I realized that having a book blog on tumblr wasn't very effective. However, I made this blog right before school started, so I never had time actually do anything with it. My school is pretty demanding with two majors and a minor, plus at least one extracurricular a day and a job (which is also blogging)- so there was no way to fit in time to maintain this blog. But now- school is out, so that means lots of time for reading. I really like using a blog a way to record my thoughts on my reading, so I hopefully that is what I'll do!

I thought I'd talk for a sec about the reading I've done this year. Here is a small stack of the books I read this year:

I took three English classes this year (I'm an English major- but I'm also majoring in French and minoring in Education, so I had to take stuff for that too). One was on the literature of India. We read five novels really in depth: Kim, A Passage to India, Midnight's Children, The God of Small Things, and The White Tiger. I took a course called "Thinking With Abbeys" which was based on my favorite TV show, Downton Abbey. We read a ton of books for it- Barford Abbey, Lark Rise to Candleford, The Romance of the Forest, The Monk, Don Juan, The Horrors of Oakendale Abbey, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and lots of snippets from other novels and poems as well. My final class was a course on Fiction Writing. We read a lot of strange, independent novels that all focused walking. I also took a French course on Parisian Literature, where I read a lot of stories about Paris and as well as Irene Nemorosky's novel Suite Fran├žais. I did a tiny bit of pleasure reading where I could, reading Just One Day by Gale Foreman and A Summer in Europe by Marilyn Brant. 

In all, I real at ton this year, but yet I can't wait to start summer reading. I finished my first read of the summer, The Paris Wife by Paula McClain, which I look forward to writing about soon! I just started The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, so hopefully I'll finish that soon as well.