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!