Tag Archives: love

Geekerella (Ashley Poston)

4 Apr

As much as I love fairytale retellings, I’m equally wary of venturing into them.  I shouldn’t have worried about Ashley Poston’s Geekerella because it is every bit as delightful as I wanted it to be.  Squinks, you’re in for a treat!

 

Geekerella

Squinklethoughts

1.  It was the cover that caught my eye.  I love purple, in general, but there was something simultaneously sci-fi-y and fairytale-y about Geekerella’s cover that drew my eyes to it.  There are also stars, and it almost felt like there would be fairy dust inside the book.  Upon closer inspection, it was the girl in the glasses that sealed it for me.  I just knew I had to read this.

2.  I really like that Poston does not stray very far from the Cinderella story.  I mean, that’s what a retelling is, right?  She’s given it a modern twist and added the spunk to CinderELLEa/DaniELLE that I’ve always felt the original character had bubbling deep inside her.  Elle handles her stepfamily really well, and it is with these characters that I think Poston shines.  The stepsisters are truly UGH.  Very well written.

 

Geekerella 2

 

3.  I like stories that make use of different formats, so I am very fond of the texting scenes.  I did find them a little … bland (sometimes), but then again, I’m OLD and have no idea what texts between teenagers are like today.  Elle’s and Darien’s characters are developed very well through these exchanges.

4.  I totally thought that Starfield was real.  Shows what I know.  But for anyone who’s ever geeked out over Doctor Who or Harry Potter (or any of the tons of fandoms out there), you’ll find a little bit of yourself in Elle.  She’ll win you over, for sure.

5.  There’s a part near the very beginning that has gotten some criticism.  If that bit bothers you, I do very highly suggest that you do not throw the baby out with the bathwater.  We all hold different things dear.  There is so much to love about this book, and I hope you don’t measure the whole of the book by that one small part.

6.  Sage.  She rocks.  Everyone should have a Sage.

7.  In other news, check out the book trailer for Geekerella here.  (Can’t you just see this novel being made into a movie?)  Then go out and buy the book.

 

4.5 Squinkles

 

Ashley Poston’s Online Corners
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Thank you, Quirk Books, for sending me a copy of Geekerella
in exchange for an honest review.

All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are entirely my own.

The Little Paris Bookshop (Nina George)

9 Sep

Of all the stories I read this year, I think the Little Paris Bookshop has given me the biggest book hangover yet. When I was done with it, I simply handed it to my mom and said, “Read it. Trust me.” And she did. And she loved it, too.

 

Little Paris Bookshop 

Squinklethoughts

1. The title hooked me right away. “Paris” and “bookshop”? Yes, please. (My site tagline is “Bouquets de Bouquins” … Doesn’t that tell you something?) Someday, I’m going to go to Paris and be chuckled at for my franglais and my accent québécois, and I will drink my café and have un temps merveilleux.

2. The cover is gorgeous. You know me: I absolutely judge books by their covers. And this one has cotton-candy colours of sunset with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Just delicious and completely enticing.

3. There is a map! I can’t begin to tell you how much that fact made reading this book much more pleasant. I seriously think that all books should have maps in them. A writer’s imagery, no matter how well done, can only allow me to visualize individual scenes in my head, but I need them all stitched up in a map, so I know where the characters geographically are. Jean and his companions travel down the River Seine, and it was great to see where along the waterways each chapter occurred.

4. I am a fan of bittersweet moments. I don’t always like them in my own life, so when I encounter characters like Jean, whose life has been full of some sweet but mostly bitter moments, I’m hooked. And that he was the cause of his own sufferings? Captivatingly cathartic.

5. The narrative is particularly beautiful. I’m not sure if it can be wholly attributed to Nina George or to the translators, but there are many lyrical phrases in the book that made me smile.

 

Little Paris Bookshop - Quotes 

6. I know some people didn’t like this story. They thought it was overly simplistic or overly cloying or overly clichéd. I understand – if what they were looking for was a story of grand gestures and perilous adventures and harrowing revelations. For some, they couldn’t connect to Jean or understand his current place in life, but I think it’s because some people skate over the 20 years (and counting) that Jean spends in misery. Once we’re past gut-wrenching moments, it’s often way too easy to forget what it meant to live each minute with heartache. (Being bullied all through elementary school? Oh, yeah, it wasn’t that bad. Eating by yourself at lunch throughout high school? Oh, well, it wasn’t terrible.) Twenty years: that’s 10 512 000 sorrowful minutes that Jean lived through to get to where he is in the story. And this is what I truly appreciate about the Little Paris Bookshop – the author and the book itself appreciate what it means to live practically an entire life with a gnawing feeling in your stomach and an empty hole in your heart.

7. For me, this story speaks to all those quiet moments in the morning, by yourself, smiling at a happy memory from 20 years back, and finding your eyes full of tears. This was all about those lazy summer days of sipping iced tea at Starbucks, flipping through a magazine, only to be greeted by an article outlining the successes of the girl who made your school years a living hell. This was about that poignant feeling I get now, after waving thanks to my student’s grandfather for dropping him off at school, and remembering that I don’t have my grandpa anymore.

8. I love the concept of a book apothecary. Can you imagine being able to read people as easily as Jean Perdu does? And, on top of that, being able to make people’s lives a little better by prescribing the perfect livre du moment? As a school librarian, I try my best, but after reading about Jean’s perfectly tuned skills, I know I’ve got a long way to go.

9. This is a great story about the moments, choices, people, and books that leave indelible footprints on our hearts.

10. You really need to read this book.  Read it now, then re-read it after five years to see how much more it resonates with you.

 

5 Squinkles

 

Nina George’s Online Corners
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Thank you, Penguin Random House (Crown) and Blogging for Books, for sending me a copy of the Little Paris Bookshop in exchange for an honest review.

All opinions and suggestions expressed herein are entirely my own.

A to Z: H is for the Harry Potter Series

8 Apr

H is for Harry Potter.  Does this series even need any introduction?  There are so many wonderful things about these books that have been discussed and dissected through the years – the colourful characters, the tortuous plot that inevitably gets tied up in the end, the wonderful word play that makes my lessons on morphemes so much easier – but there is one thing that always strikes a chord in my heart whenever I read through the series again: empathy.  J.K. Rowling lends a voice to the oft-unheard, the oft-misunderstood, and the oft-dismissed.  If a reader really claims to have appreciated her work, he/she should have walked away from Book 7 a better person – a more empathetic human being.  I know I did.  The Harry Potter series is funny, heartwarming, gutwrenching, and intricately plotted.  I never get tired of reading and/or listening to Rowling’s words, and I envy those who will still experience her magic for the first time.

 

H - Harry Potter

 

Which books are your favourite (‘cause it really is difficult to pick just one)?  I like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  My favourite opening chapters, however, come from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, where so many concepts from previous books were tied together.  As for characters, I have a special spot for Professor McGonagall and Dobby.  How about you?

Days that End in Y (Vikki VanSickle)

27 Mar

Days that End in Y

 

If her Clarissa Delaney stories hadn’t already become some of my favourites, Vikki VanSickle would’ve sealed the deal for me with this one. Of all three books, Days that End in Y is the one that we read in the least amount of time (three days) because my Summer Squinks and I really devoured it. Even I was truly surprised at how quickly we flew through the chapters – I couldn’t assign them enough pages to read, and we had to be really careful (à la River Song) not to reveal spoilers just in case someone had not quite reached a particular scene.

What I really enjoyed about Days that End in Y was that although the wedding (Which wedding? You’ll have to read to find out!) seemingly took centre stage, the relationship between Clarissa and Benji was much more intriguing and compelling. And the ending really left me breathless. I couldn’t believe VanSickle’s audacity and brilliance in leaving me all emotionally spent, and (still) not knowing if she would tell me what happens next. Evil and completely brilliant, I tell you. I asked some of my Squinks from the summer what it was that made them read Days so quickly, but they couldn’t really put a finger on it … All they knew was that they wanted to know more.  This, my Squinks, is part of the magic of storytelling and part of the reason why VanSickle is truly on the same level as the likes of Judy Blume and Rick Riordan. You just want to read more. Even now, months later, I still wonder how the rest of Clarissa and Benji’s summer is going. Have they begun high school yet? If so, what outfits did Clarissa and Mattie wear?

I am so glad that what turned out to be a Vikki VanSickle summer worked out so well. It wasn’t planned (beyond the first book anyway), but some of the best things in life come by happenstance, as you know. If you read this series along with us, I hope you enjoyed the friends’ adventures as much as we did. More importantly, I hope these characters and their stories stay with you throughout the year. And if you’re so inclined, I encourage you to get in touch with VanSickle … Let her know how much you loved Clarissa Louise Delaney and that her stories made summer school not as horrendous as you thought it would be.

 

4.5 Squinkles

 

Vikki VanSickle’s Online Corners

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Love Is a Four-Letter Word (Vikki VanSickle)

25 Mar

Love Is a Four-Letter Word 

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8)

We use “love” for so many reasons, and I really enjoyed how Vikki VanSickle explores the impact that this loaded four-letter word has in our daily lives. Have you ever thought about how often we use the word “love”?

  • I love coffee … I can’t live without it.
  • I love Sherlock and Doctor Who … It makes my brain hurt, but in a good way.
  • Hahaha … I love the way you think!
  • Can I borrow your car, Sis? I’ll love you forever!
  • I love you, Mom.

In Love Is a Four-Letter Word, we pick up almost from where we leave off in the first novel. Clarissa and Benji are still in the throes of battling seventh grade, but a few wrenches have been thrown into their plans. For one thing, auditions for a production of The Wizard of Oz yield unexpected results, and the once steady and predictable relationship between the two friends is put to the test. For another, there are two new additions to their little group in the form of Mattie and Michael.

I didn’t mention it in my review of Words that Start with B, but I think VanSickle created such a lovely and enviable friendship between Clarissa and Benjamin. Benji is so sensitive and thoughtful. He’s always honest with Clarissa, but he knows how to read her and understand her needs without being told. Clarissa, on the other hand, is protective and understanding of Benji’s idiosyncrasies and how his life at home influences the mask he wears at school. Both are fiercely loyal to one another, neither willing to hurt the other except in extreme cases where an ugly truth must be faced. They are both so secure in their friendship that they can take each other for granted in the best way possible. I wish I had had a Clarissa or Benji when I was growing up. VanSickle’s development of their friendship is nothing short of admirable.

I also love the way Mattie’s character develops throughout this story. I’ll be honest … I find her a little annoying when she is first introduced, even when she’s helping Clarissa out on something or other. It’s great that Clarissa does recognize the impact that Mattie has on their lives, actually admitting—though a little begrudgingly—that she has become one of their group. Mattie is a good person and friend, and of all the characters in the story, I think I identify with her the most. I, like she, can be overbearing and irritating, despite having the best of intentions. It’s definitely not easy to always look beyond a person’s perfectionism and/or prickliness to appreciate the good he/she also has to offer, which is an aspect of Mattie’s character that resonates with me a lot. Mattie is also good for Clarissa because although Benji is a great BFF, there is just something different about having a girl BFF to talk to about certain topics. In many ways, Mattie mirrors as well as complements Clarissa’s life. Through her relationship with her mother, sense of justice, desire to shine, willingness to try new things, speak confidently, and optimistic outlook, Mattie really brings out the best in Clarissa’s character, and as a fan of Clarissa, I really enjoy seeing her develop. VanSickle is so good at lending voices to the oft-misunderstood but very valuable characters in our lives!

Perhaps you’re wondering how Michael fits into a novel with the word “love” in it? Well, VanSickle does a great job depicting the ups and downs of love in elementary school. She shows how love is hard to define and ALWAYS emotional. In short, VanSickle gives us the wonderful and crazy world of tweenage love.

My class loved this second book, which totally did not fall under the curse that many sequels and middle-of-trilogies do. VanSickle’s writing, as always, is smart and funny and sarcastic – appealing to those sardonic kindred spirits. And we really loved the deliciously awkward moments that were scattered throughout.  (Wait ‘til you get to the ice cream parlour scene!) If I didn’t already enjoy VanSickle’s writing, this novel would have done it for me. We couldn’t wait to dive into Days that End in Y as soon as we were done with this one!

Have you read the second installment of Clarissa and Benji’s adventures? What was your reaction?

 

4.5 Squinkles

 

Vikki VanSickle’s Online Corners

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Chapters

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