Hanging in the Stars (by Pat Gallagher Sassone)

hanging in the stars

Hanging in the Stars starts off when Andrew accepts workout lessons from one of the toughest neighborhood guys, Cruz. In return, Andrew begins to tutor Cruz’s younger sister, Maya, in English. Bonding over Shakespeare, fourteen-year-olds Andrew and Maya are immediately attracted to one another, despite their differing personalities and social backgrounds. Throughout the course of the book, the two learn more about each other and face many obstacles as they strive to stay together. Most of the book is devoted to illustrating Andrew’s character developments, as the boy exits his comfort zone by becoming more involved with the Cruz’s lives. Ultimately, the teenagers must decide for themselves if the consequences are worth the price of their relationship.

I was intrigued by the author’s ability to create a realistic, but enjoyable, picture of the high school setting and characters. However, I find myself often struggling with the romantic aspect of the book. I found the young lovers naïve and their blind attraction superficial. The way the book parallels the romance in William Shakespeare’s most renowned play, “Romeo and Juliet,” made the book more predictable. I felt the plot could stand alone, without any literary allusions. Regardless, I praise the author for highlighting controversial issues in her first novel, including the perils illegal immigrants face and child abuse. The author did a fantastic job in bringing out raw, attention-grabbing emotion, while shedding the light on issues concerning people with disadvantaged backgrounds. Not many YA books I have encountered have brought sufficient awareness to such a pressing issue as well as the author, of the novel, has accomplished. Overall, I found the book suitable for anyone who enjoys a high school romance, paired with real-life tension and action.

**I would like to thank litpick.com for providing me the book, free of charge, in exchange for my honest review.**

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Getting Back On Track

My! I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I posted on this blog. Part of it was due to getting side-tracked by other things that was going on in my life. And the other part was my vain hope to find my lost, mini notebook which contains all my passwords… I ended up just resetting my password. Since my last post, I have read 3 new books…and the reviews will be presented in the coming days.

Now that driver’s ed has been long done (whew) and internship is over (double whew), I can devote more of my brainpower and creative energies on this blog. Though I regret not posting during the month of July, I look forward to adding future posts!

Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.
Walter Anderson

 

June 26: Current Reading List

pr_The Garden Seat_Richard Emil Miller

Ahh, so many books, so little time. Here are some on my plate, that I plan to get through soon this summer…

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (I’m more than halfway through this book).
2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (for school)
3. The Amen Corner by James Baldwin (for school)
4 The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (for school)
5. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (Borrowed this from my cousins…a few years back…and it has been sitting in a shelf since. I could never go past the first few chapters, each summer I pick it up, perhaps because it seemed intimidating as a historical fiction book. But things are going to be different this year…I signed up this book for summer reading group at my school during the fall.)
6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (The writing style seems new from what I am use to reading. Suggested by the amazing Inkspelt at http://inkspelt.wordpress.com/. Hope that goes well.)
7. Rootless by Chris Howard (shared by the talented rememberingwonderland at http://rememberingwonderland.wordpress.com/)
8. Ravenwood by Andrew Peters (Still in the process of reading this; another book from the talented rememberingwonderland)
9. Night School by C.J. Daugherty (Thanks Figment! Just came in the mail today!)
10. Persuasion by Jane Austen (I read part of this, it’s kind of a dry book but I still want to finish this.)
11. Barrons and Princeton Review Books for the Sat II Biology. I do have to worry about college admissions tests, dear readers.
12. And more e-books patiently sitting in my Kindle and other mobile devices, or waiting to be requested in LitPick. I’ll get to you guys soon! 😀

Glamorous Illusions: A Novel (Grand Tour Series) by Lisa T. Bergren

Glamorous-Illusions

From glancing at the cover, I see a privileged woman standing feet away from Paris’s iconic Eiffel Tower. By noting the antiquated style of her dress, I decided that this was a book I wanted to read. I have always been fascinated by European history, especially accounts of the people that have lived back then.

Instead, during the early 1900’s, the book starts off by Cora Diehl’s return to a family farm in rural Montana from Normal School, where she has been studying to become a teacher. However, after suffering two severe strokes, the expenses for her Papa’s medical care will eat into Cora’s educational funds. Additionally, her parents’ absence—as they go to Minnesota for Papa’s treatment—will make Cora responsible for the farm, which has dim prospects for successful crops.

Though dreams seem out of reach, Cora’s life takes on a dramatic shift. Before her parents leave for Minnesota, a copper king shows up at the Diehl household. Shockingly, Cora discovers that she is an illegitimate child of the stranger, and that her real last name is Kensington. Her biological father then offers payment for her Papa’s healthcare costs and farm, as well as money for her tuition the coming fall. In return, Cora gives in to his one demand: accepting a trip of a lifetime—a Grand Tour across Europe with her stepsiblings.

Glamorous Illusions is a touching story of a woman struggling to discover and define her identity, as well as a coming-of-age tale. It is an account of a woman struggling to find her own independence, in spite of the feminine social restraints during that time and the intolerance of children born out of wedlock.

At times, the chapters alternate between perspectives of different characters, enhancing the reading experience without disrupting the flow of the plot. Though Cora is a wonderful, admirable heroine, her character is still realistic as she deals with social and emotional struggles.

Sometimes, the language and concepts seem cliché, including the physical attraction between Cora and the apprentice tour guide (William). However, the growing connection between the aforementioned outcasts, each struggling to find a name in their worlds, is unique. I also appreciate how the romance was slowly paced, instead of forced and rushed. Unfortunately, I did not find Cora’s religious epiphanies to be profoundly moving, despite the author’s intention.

Being the history lover I am, I give this book a 4 out of 5 for its quality writing style and historical detail. Revving up the drama, the author concludes the book when the group prepares to leave France, continuing their trip—leaving me hanging for more. Given the chance, I’ll be sure to check out the sequels of this promising trilogy.

**I would like to thank LitPick for providing me the e-book, free of charge. Visit http://www.litpick.com/ for more information.**

Note: There are instances in which characters make sexual innuendos, although nothing actually happens. In addition, there is champagne/ alcoholic beverage drinking, along with some description of their detrimental side effects on the characters.

Sarah’s Key (by Tatiana de Rosnay)

sarah's key

I start off the beginning of my summer break finishing up a book I had started a while back. Captivated by its European and twentieth century aura, I had bought it at a Barnes and Nobles, during a shopping trip with friends.

When I first skimmed through the book, I was initially confused by the alternating font. One seemed crisp and clean while the other had smudged lettering. I later realized that it was to help a reader, like me, transition back and forth between accounts of two major characters. Some notable aspects of the author’s writing was her ability to skillfully interweave Julia’s and Sarah’s stories, which was polished by her direct, but substantial, writing style.

The books starts off in 1942, where Sirka (later called Sarah) Starzynski and her family are rounded up by the French police, during the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup. Under the police’s notice, Sarah hides her brother, Michel, in a special, well-hidden cupboard in the Starzynski’s apartment, that can only be opened with a key. Not understanding the entirety of the situation, she promises her brother that she will come back and rescue him. Little will she know about the filthy, inhumane and heartbreaking conditions that lie ahead of her and the rest of the Jewish deportees. In spite of all of this, Sarah keeps a weak flame of hope that her family will reunite. With a fellow camp mate, they make an attempt to escape. Will they succeed? Will Sarah rescue her trapped, beloved brother in time?

Meanwhile, an American-born Parisian journalist Julia Jarmond stumbles upon Sarah’s dark past. Sixty years after 1942, the the Starzynski’s apartment has been inherited by Jarmond’s “sexy” and self-centered husband, Betrand, from his grandparents. As Julia becomes more acquainted behind the history of Paris’s unspoken past, the history behind the old apartment, she mourns for the Starzynski’s and even starts a quest to look for Sarah herself. Along the way, Julia battles with her own romantic and familial issues, and finds the answers.

Overall, the book intrigued and haunted me, even to the point where there were tears in my eyes. It would have been nice if the author had delved into Sarah’s thoughts in the later portion of the book, though Julia was probably the main focus. I look forward to reading more of Madame de Rosnay’s work, as I am a big fan of historical fiction.

Summer Reads

As summer slowly heads on its way, so will the reading lists of both children, teenagers and adults, as we find time to relax in the nice, warm weather.

This summer, I intend on embarking a literary adventure, (better than ever before), exploring genres ranging from Victorian prose to futuristic dystopian tales. Along the way, I’ll be sure to check out books hidden to the ordinary adventurer, may it be a novel by a new author or a lesser-known masterpiece by the literary giants.

This blog will be a personal scrapbook for my observations and thoughts, throughout my journey. I’ll post interesting materials I find online, perhaps an intriguing Figment story or news article, as well as sharing posts/books from memory lane.

And to my readers and guests, I hope you find this blog informative and enjoyable!

Welcome, to the sea of imagination…

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