Tag Archives: romance

The Little French Bistro (Nina George)

21 Jun

I was excited to read The Little French Bistro because I enjoyed The Little Paris Bookshop a lot. I really felt for Marianne at the beginning of the novel when some man rescues her from her suicide attempt. Why couldn’t he just leave her alone? Then, we get more information about how loveless her marriage is (husband leaves her to make her own way home!), so I’m happy that she finds some courage to make it to the coast of Brittany and start a new life.

 

Little French Bistro Squinklethoughts

1.  The author does a great job portraying the small-town charms of the small town that Marianne finds herself in. There is an interesting (but large) cast of secondary characters that envelop Marianne in their lives. I felt that some of the friendships came a bit too easily. Maybe it’s because I don’t reveal myself as easily as Marianne does, or maybe it’s because I don’t live in a small town, but that part felt a little unrealistic. So, too, does the fact that Marianne is able to find a good job and place to live within a day or so of landing at the coast. Is it really that easy? Especially considering Marianne is now in her 60s, I think? I am happy that she is able to reinvent herself, but I would have liked a little more struggle — a few more obstacles besides the sometimes dark thoughts that run around her head — before she could settle in to her new routine.

2.  The ending was definitely a surprise, and I think it saved the story for me. As the novel progressed, I sort of got lost in all of the names of the characters, which meant that there were a few too many for my liking. I liked being alongside Marianne as she grew in her role at the restaurant, but all the other stuff outside of the day-to-day, which is usually what interests me more, didn’t do it for me this time round.

3.  I’d recommend the book for anyone who likes stories about the French seaside, women’s growth, and happy endings … with the caveat that they’d have to adopt a little willing suspension of disbelief, and wade through lots of interactions with Breton neighbours before getting to the good ending.  I’d say that this was just under 4 stars for me.

 

3.5 Squinkles

 

Nina George’s Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Chapters/Indigo

 

Thank you, First to Read, for sending me a copy of
The Little French Bistro in exchange for an honest review.

All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are entirely my own.

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
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Chapters

 

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.

Tomorrow’s Kingdom (Maureen Fergus)

2 Sep

 

There are few series that have gripped me from the get-go enough to compel me to be first in line at the bookstore to buy the sequel(s) on release day. And fewer still are the number of books that have kept a hold on my heart long after they’ve found a resting place on my bookshelf. Squinks, Maureen Fergus’ The Gypsy King trilogy fits squarely into both categories, and I strongly urge you to run very, very quickly to Chapters or Indigo and grab a copy of all 3 books if you don’t already have them!

Let me tell you about Tomorrow’s Kingdom, the finale of the series that gave me all the feels! A Fool’s Errand left off with such a jaw-dropping cliffhanger that I practically got papercuts from the speed with which I flipped through and devoured the pages of TK’s opening chapters. I literally—yes, literally—had to cover the pages on the right so that I would force myself to slow down and appreciate everything on the left. Otherwise, in my haste to find out what happens to Persephone when she goes against Azriel (again), I’d miss out on the fine nuances in Fergus’ writing that bring her story to life. We’ve talked about this in class many times before: What makes a story so good that you just have to share your new-found treasure with someone else? The content and the writing, exactly.

And peeps, let me tell you how Fergus scores not just the game-winning goal with TK, but the game-7-OT-Stanley-Cup-winning game-winning goal!

 

The Content

This book has:

1. Romance
Um, yeah. There were times when I wished I didn’t care about all the other characters so that I could skip the chapters without Azriel and Persephone. Their love story is just so charming and endearing … I want to read more and more and more of it.

2. Adventure
Forests, castles, glens, caves, rivers, waterfalls … all there!

3. Comedy
Azriel is my favourite, but all of Fergus’ characters have some great comedic nature that I laughed out loud so many times throughout this book. I LOLed alone, with friends, and among complete strangers in crowded rooms … and I laughed often!

4. Heartache
Every great love story has some heartache in it. I’ll let you discover this for yourself …

In short, TK has almost everything I’m looking for in a book. The only thing missing? Magic. But you know what? Fergus’ writing weaves everything together so flawlessly that there must’ve been some pixie dust sprinkled on these pages … which brings me to the other reason everyone should read TK

 

The Writing

Fergus’ writing is:

1. Intelligent
Fergus writes for an intelligent audience, and that is something I appreciate very much. She splashes her writing with a mix of complex and inverted sentences; she loves inserting rhetorical questions; and she makes her characters spout witty, well-timed one-liners, all of which add flavour to an already great story line.

2. Funny
I have found a kindred spirit in any author whose wit and dry humour flow easily across the page, and Fergus has tons of well-placed comedic scenes and one-liners that really strike to the heart of the matter. I love reading everything she writes.

3. Powerful
Check these out:

“[I]t was a truly lovely thing to be cherished by a man who had eyes for none but her and who acted as though she were more beautiful than the stars, more fragile than blown glass, and more precious than a bucketful of jewels.”

“Do this and though I cannot promise we will ever be friends, I can promise that I will honour you … now and forever.”

“It was as if, by mutual accord, they were avoiding speaking of the dangers tomorrow might hold that they might better enjoy the sweet, fleeting moments of today.”

 

For real, Squinks, you know how I always say, “If you want to be a better writer, read”? Well, read Fergus. Read this trilogy. Read everything else she’s written. I can try to teach you how to write well jusqu’à perpète, but it’s so much more effective and entertaining if you read this trilogy. You’ll walk away from TK feeling exhilarated about the ride you were on, a little sad at having to say goodbye to some new friends, and a lot in awe at the great fortune of having just read a masterpiece by one of Canada’s greatest authors.

 

Azriel and Persephone forever!

 

 

Maureen Fergus’ Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Chapters

HBB, Tomorrow’s Kingdom!

9 Jul

Happy Book Birthday

It’s here!  It’s here!  It’s finally here!

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Maureen Fergus at an event last year.  I was super excited to meet her because I was a huge fan of her first YA novel, The Gypsy King.  Well, imagine my surprise and utter delight at receiving a galley of its sequel, A Fool’s Errand, that day, too!  The only trouble was, since I received the 2nd book six months before it’s release date—which I am very grateful for, by the way—it also meant that I had to wait that much longer for the finale to come out.  Well, now it’s been one whole year later, and I have finally been able to get my hands on a finished copy of Tomorrow’s Kingdom.  I have to admit … I’m just a teensy bit giddy thinking about how the plot will unfold!

I can’t wait to find out how Azriel and Persephone’s story continues.  I really really wish Fergus will someday feel compelled to share with us what happens after Tomorrow’s Kingdom ends, but for now, I’m just going to focus on getting my lesson planning done as quickly as possible so I can enjoy more time with Azriel, Persephone, and the rest of the gang.  See you all in a couple of days.

(Just kidding … Or maybe not …)

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