Sneak Peek: The Girl in the Tower

I seriously can’t wait to read this one. 

After reading The Bear and the Nightingale I was disappointed to find out it was a series. I thought the first one ended well and was ready to let that be “The End.” There were many plot holes but to me they worked.m because they seemed to work within the realm of fairy tales. I’m not sure if that made sense. 

Anyway.

Even though I was slightly disappointed it turned into a series,l I am still excited to continue Vasya’s story. And hope she ends up with Morozkov (not that it is anyway a romance because it really isn’t. It’s just one plot line I hope comes through, but will be perfectly fine if it doesn’t, unless Vasya ends up with someone else. Okay, this aside is getting long winded so in summary, Vasya and Morozkov or Vasya and no one, but it’s not a romance).

To be released January 2018.

Nonfic Feature – January: Mastermind by Maria Konnikova

From the jacket:

No fictional character is more renowned for is powers of thought and observation than Sherlock Holmes. But is his extraordinary intellect merely a gift of fiction or can we learn to cultivate these abilities ourselves to improve our lives at work and home?

We can, says psychologist and journalist Maria Konnikova, and in Mastermind she shows us how. Beginning with the “brain attic”–Holmes’s metaphor for how we store information and organize knowledge–Konnikova unpacks the mental strategies that lead to clearer thinking and deeper insights. Drawing on twenty-first-century neuroscience and psychology, Mastermind explores Holmes’s unique methods of ever-present mindfulness, astute observation, and logical deduction. In doing so, it shows how each of us, with some self-awareness and a little practice, can employ these same methods to sharpen our perceptions, solve difficult problems, and enhance our creative powers.

For Holmes aficionados and casual readers alike, Konnikova reveals how the world’s most keen-eyed detective can serve as an unparalleled guide to upgrading the mind. At once a fascinating lesson in psychology and a tour through Holmes’s most entertaining cases, Mastermind is a master class in elevating our thinking to the highest level.

Looking forward to this because . . .

Sherlock Holmes! But of course, you knew that.

I actually found this one while googling “how to be like Sherlock Holmes” (which stemmed from a Google search for “how to be like Mozzie in White Collar” because that’s what information junkies like to do. We research stuff) and I stumbled upon this article on PsychologyToday.com. It mentioned two books on Sherlock Holmes, the other being The Scientific Sherlock Holmes: Cracking the Case with Science and Forensics by James F. Obrien (and though this sounds really interesting, and I’m not being sarcastic, Konnikova’s book is more in line with what interests me), along with eight strategies to be more like him. I skimmed over the strategies because my mind couldn’t let go of looking into Konnikova’s book.

Which brings me to . . .

Page 46. Chapter two of a 4-part book.

And I’m still intrigued.

Konnikova is doing a really good job comparing Sherlock’s thinking, a fictional character, to our default way of thinking, which is very real. She puts Sherlock’s thinking and methods into current research and facts and you can see reason in her comparisons. It’s making sense and that is always exciting since I’m actually being taught something. And what makes this even better is she demonstrates her points by walking us through Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories of Sherlock and Watson. Since I’m only 46 pages in, Konnikova has only started one case so far, but it’s enough to keep me going.

Snippets of what captured my interest in reading this far:

” […] never mistaken mindlessness for mindfulness […]” 

“At any given moment, you only thinking you know what you know. But what you really know is what you can recall.” 

“If we remembered everything, we should on most occasions be as ill off as we remembered nothing.” (Konnikova quoting William James)

 

 

Picture Credit: MariaKonnikova.com

Now Featuring: Non-fictional Reads

Looking back on past posts and thinking about all of my good intentions for 2017, I realized that I haven’t reviewed non-fictional reads as much as I read them. Or skim them. Because I’ve skimmed through a lot. I think it’s partly because non-fictional reads are denser than fictional reads so it either takes me much longer to read (sometimes over a year or two and this is from cover to cover, not jumping around). It’s a challenge to read a non-fictional read for fun while reading textbooks for my classes.

But there have been a few good reads and I want to give them a shout out, especially when the author has done a great job in keeping my interest and teaching me something new or opening my mind to a different perspective.

So . . .

in efforts to both keep me on top of my non-fiction TBR pile as well as sending a shout out to non-fictional reads, I’ve decided to showcase a non-fictional read throughout the month. This way, I’ll feel obligated to read the book because I’ve committed to posting about it.

I’m not sure how feasible this will be for me, but there you have it. Another intention.

And I’m looking forward to making good on this intention!Now

Biblio 411: Just One Year (Just One Day, #2)

Author: Gayle FormanReleased: August 20, 2013
Published by: Speak
Series: Just One Day #2
Read: October 2013
Reread: April 2016
The Hook: Wilem’s perspective!

Biblio 411: Just One Day

Oh, if I wasn’t in love with this series already, there would have been hearts in my eyes at the end of this one.

After reading what Allyson went through how can you not see what it was like for Willem?

“Did he really bail on Allyson?” (I didn’t think so, but then what caused him to disappear?!)

“Did he feel the way Allyson felt?”

“What did he do when Allyson arrived at the door?”

Summary: Willem’s story picks up the next morning of his and Lulu’s one day in Paris. And he wakes up in the hospital with a concussion. It’s the afternoon, he knows there’s something important he has to do but can’t remember what, until he does, and then he panics because he realizes he’s not with Lulu. He doesn’t want to miss her, he scrambles to get out of the hospital, and when he desperately runs back to the loft they shared she’s gone. Of course she’s gone. But he doesn’t give up hope just yet. Her stuff is back at Celine’s, maybe he can find something that could tell him about Lulu, like her real name for starters. She didn’t come back to get her stuff, there’s hope, except when he goes through her stuff nothing reveals who she is or where she’s from. And that’s when it kicks in. The feeling of loss. The sadness. The missed opportunity.

And then we see Willem’s journey. We see just how much that one day with Lulu made a difference in his life. He tries to forget her at first. He hooks up with an old girlfriend which doesn’t work for him. When his friends see how different Willem seems they finally get him to tell them what’s wrong and they all pitch in to help him find his Lulu. First with Jacques and then with Cancun. We see his relationship with his mom, his friends, with himself. And then we see him accepting that it maybe wasn’t meant to be.

Verdict:

Well, you already know how much I love this duology. I mean, there’s something about this story that resonated with me. I’m thinking it’s all the talk about destiny and fate and love and hope . . . and all that jazz. The way Forman continues Allyson and Willem’s story in this next installment is done so well. To see what that day meant to him and how their souls seem to fit with each other. Willem’s journey isn’t as smooth as Allyson’s (okay, maybe smooth isn’t the right word because I don’t think her journey was smooth either. Straight-forward maybe? Yeah, that sounds better), as straight-forward as Allyson’s was. I mean, remember, he’s been on the road for a while now, been on his own for a while now. He has his own challenges to face and seeing how Lulu influences his decisions, even when he doesn’t realize it, it’s exciting to read.

And then you have all the good quotes like the ones I previewed last week:

It’s a really good story.

As far as characters go, I love Willem, of course. I love seeing how he evolves after spending that day with Lulu. And I love Broodje! I swear, if I could ever have a best friend I want them to be like Broodje. He’s there for Willem through just about everything. He cares about his friend and wants to help him in anyway he can. Other characters I love seeing is Willem’s mom, Yael, and her relationship with her son.

It’s this:

Still, when she takes her hand away, I wish she hadn’t. And when she starts packing up with promises of things we will do when she has a day off, I’m wishing I had told her about the skinheads, about Paris, about Lulu. Except even if I’d tried, I wouldn’t have known how. My mother and I, we both speak Dutch and english. But we never could speak the same language.

To this:

“I wondered if he thought I should ask you to come back here.” She pauses. “To live with me.”

“You want me to come back to India?”

“If you want to. You might act here. It seemed to go well for you. And we could find a bigger flat. Something big enough for both of us. But Daniel thought I should hold off. He thought you seemed to have found something.”

“I haven’t found anything. And you might’ve asked me?” It comes out so bitter.

She must hear it, too. But her voice stays soft. “I am asking you, Willem.”

And I realize she is. After all this time. Tears well up in my eyes. I’m grateful, in that small moment for the thousands of kilometers that separate us.

“How soon could I come?” I ask.

There’s a pause. Then she gives the answer I need: “As soon as you want.”

And the story tracks back to Shakespeare, which I thought was very clever. Willem’s story doesn’t really start with Shakespeare, but there are mentions of it here and there since that was the connection between Lulu and Willem, but that’s about it really, until you get to just before the One Day segment of the book.

The connections in Willem’s story and Allyson’s story is done so well. You see the “almost” moments throughout the story (you’ll see what I mean). And I really love the way the book needs. I really do. It seemed the perfect ending for this story.

So, if you can’t already tell, I’d recommend this book to anyone looking to find a story about an epic romance, an adventure, and the maybe-it’s-fate-maybe-not type of questions and answers.

Enjoy!

Biblio 411: Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)

Blog_JustOneDay

Author: Gayle Forman
Released: August 20, 2013
Published by: Speak
Read: October 2013
Reread: April 2016
The Hook: The dust jacket. Not the cover, but the small little . . . hook on the inside of the cover. You know what I’m talking about.

That little hook read:

When sheltered American good girl Allyson first encounters laid-back Dutch actor Willem at an underground performance of Twelfth Night, there’s an undeniable spark. So when fate brings them together a second time, Allyson takes an uncharacteristic leap, changes course, and follows Willem to Paris. After just one day together, the spark bursts into a flame . . . until Allyson wakes up after a whirlwind day shocked to discover that Willem is gone.

A life upended in one day turns into a year of self-discovery as Allyson embarks on a journey to break free from a lifetime of limits in order to find her true passions, and maybe even a true love.

Okay, so after typing that out, it could be the pull of Shakespeare, because I truly love anything Shakespeare. But I think it was everything about that hook.

“How sheltered is this Allyson?”

“What say this about true love?”

“Is it really love?”

“Why a second meeting? Why not the first?”

Seriously, I have to see how Shakespeare plays into all this.

Summary!

So, I’m not sure if a summary is needed with that hook, but . . .  yeah, let me go ahead anyway. Allyson is on one of those summer school programs where they take you on a 1-2 week trip to Europe. Allyson’s best friend is kind of the wild side and is always nagging her about her “good girl” status. Allyson just likes to follow the rules. That all changes when she’s intrigued by a flyer saying “Guerrilla Will” and a small flirtation by this boy who seems to pick up on Allyson’s thoughts about Shakespeare and starving artists and such. She ditches Hamlet by the Royal Shakespeare Company to catch Twelfth Night outdoors at the Canal Basin, dragging her best friend with her.

The play ends. The magic dissipates. Allyson and best friend go back to their hotel to pack for their trip back home.

Fate intervenes. On the train back to London, she ends up seeing that boy again. They strike up a conversation about hagelslag. She learns his name is Willem, he ends up calling her Lulu, and when the train stops in London they are about to part ways, again, when Allyson mentions her disappointment in missing Paris. Willem encourages her to just go. Of course, Allyson can’t possibly imagine breaking the rules, the good girl who likes to follow the rules. But it’s Paris. And she missed it. And it’s fate. They weren’t suppose to have this second meeting. And yet they did. And with Willem volunteering to show her Paris, Allyson decides to break the rules again. They take the next train to Paris, with Allyson begging her best friend to cover for her, for just one day.

And the magic is back. Lulu and Willem have a very memorable time Paris. Filled with truths they couldn’t share with anyone else. With stories they don’t share with anyone else. Creating memories that no one else will understand. And they have one magical night. Then the sunrises. Willem is gone. Lulu is alone. The magic dissipates. And the rest of the year begins. College. Life. And memories of the magic of just one day.

And it’s a rough time for Allyson … for Lulu. After experience Paris with someone who seemed to be on the same frequency as her. Someone who sees under Allyson the Good Girl. Someone who sees Lulu, the dreamer, the adventurer. She was allowed to be something she never thought she could. College is rough. She meets a new best friend, Dee. Her other best friend just … well, they drifted apart. This best friend, Dee, asks her a question that gets her thinking differently about that one day. And suddenly . . .  a what if?

Verdict!

We all know that story. A one-night stand gone badly. In this case, badly in a foreign country with someone who is practically stranger. And as easy as it is to just leave it at that and call the story a bad egg or call foul and cough it up to another unrealistic story about first loves, or true loves, or whatever kind of loves, it struck me in a different way.

I mean, why do we read? Why do I read? I read to take a break from reality. So if the fictional story I’m reading just so happens to mention true love or first loves or whatever kind of loves and it seems to take place in the course of a few hours, then so be it. It’s a story, not a memoir. And I’m a skeptic when it comes to those kinds of loves. Or maybe love period. But I am a skeptic. But only for me. Only for my perspective. That doesn’t mean I can’t believe it for others.  So, if this fictional story is about those kinds of love, so be it.

And, boy, how I love this story. The summary I supplied doesn’t go into Allyson’s journey after Paris, but it’s a rough one. But it Ms. Forman did a great job building this story. The day in Paris. The life after Paris. Allyson. Her journey. She paced it well. And I love how it ended.

I can relate to Allyson. I know what it’s like to try and live by the rules. I don’t like to venture too far from rules because, well, I don’t like conflicts. So, I can relate to Allyson. And I can see why she ran away to Paris with a stranger. I may have done the same thing. Not carelessly, of course. And I don’t think Allyson was careless about it either.

And while we don’t get a good feel of whether Willem is a jerk or not, he doesn’t hurt her. He just . . .  disappears. So, what happened? We can’t know for sure, but it doesn’t change the fact that he was no where to be found. I can understand that pain that Allyson felt. The embarrassment. Ms. Forman does a good job capturing that feeling, these moments, dotted throughout Allyson’s journey.

While the story doesn’t get into the details of sex, it is implied so just a heads up for anyone who wants to steer clear of this. But I highly recommend it if that doesn’t bother you too much because it is a good story.

And what I absolutely love about this story is this:

Allyson: “Not everything tracks back to Shakespeare.”

Dee: “Yes it does. Did you ever think what might’ve happened if they weren’t so damn impatient? If maybe Romeo had stopped for a second and gotten a doctor, or waited for Juliet to wake up? Not jumped to conclusions and gone and poisoned himself thinking she was dead when she was just sleeping?”

I love it. Because I asked the same thing with my first read through of Romeo and Juliet. And then:

I enumerate all the examples of him being a player, beginning with the fact that he picked up a random girl on a train and, an hour later, invited her to Paris for the day.

“Normal people don’t do that,” I say.

“Who said anything about normal? And maybe you weren’t random. Maybe you were something to him too.”

Because it’s a story. About first loves and true loves and whatever kind of loves. And Shakespeare. And possibilities. And, because it’s a story about first loves and true loves and whatever kind of loves.

Biblio 411: In Real Life

main-qimg-63014ae199a8b086d38915b7b3a5cd79Author: Jennifer Love
Published: March 1st, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Read: April 24, 2016
The Hook: The book jacket reeled me in.

So, the book jacket read:

“Imagine the look on his face when you show at his show. He’s going to flip.”

I feel wrongness down to my gut when I think about doing something this big.

But then I let myself picture the scene: Nick at House of Blues with the band. Onstage, playing guitar. Seeing me in the crowd. The instant of recognition. The smile. The hug. The excitement.

This is the moment that launched a thousand daydreams.

I can keep a secret for one night if it means getting that experience.

 

How can that not interest you? And then I open the cover to read the flap of the book jacket which read:

Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.

There’s just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met.

Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she’s supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Las Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.

Hannah’s surprise romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and finds out that Nick has been keeping some major secrets. Hannah knows the real Nick can’t be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.

For someone who has written to hundreds of letters since she was 11 years old, someone who had an ICQ account at 13 (when the only way online was a telephone modem), someone who can relate to being friends with people you have yet to meet in real life, well … HOOKED!

Summary: Well, the book jacket pretty much sums it up so I don’t know if my summary will do it any more justice than that. But, yeah. Hannah and Nick have been best friends for four years, but have never met in person. The mail each other stuff. They text each other, email each other, instant message each other, but they never got around to meeting. They’ve tried. Well, they’ve tried once, but that didn’t quite happen. Then, the Spring Break of their senior year of high school Hannah has had enough of following the rules. Following the rules allowed someone else to snatch the opportunity to go to Washington when it was supposed to be her. Basically, following the rules didn’t really get her anywhere and she’s frustrated. So when her parents go on a cruise for Spring Break, leaving her in the company of her older sister (who is in college so, you know, an adult) and best friend. The perfect company to break the rules with (or perhaps bend them a little. Okay, no, they break them). And that’s how Hannah finds herself in Vegas, meeting her best friend in real life for the first time in four years. And, wow. Not what she expected. At. All.

Verdict: Love it, love it, love it!

Let’s talk plot.

This day in age, there have been quite a bit of stories following a similar m. o. When you think about it though, what plot hasn’t been written before or rewritten or reinvented. That’s part of the fun, isn’t it? It’s hard to say “cliche” when just about every story out there has had other variations of it.

Anyway.

I love how the story unfolds. Love had done a good job building things up to the big meet-and-greet. In addition to the build up, she dots the present story line with a flash back here and there to add to Hannah and Nick’s story. It’s not over done and it moves the story along. It gives it the right amount of tension. You can see how Hannah and Nick got to the point they’ve gotten to without having to dish out four years worth of information, you know?

Let’s talk characters.

Hannah is definitely someone I can relate to. She wants to follow the rules. She doesn’t want to let her parents down, doesn’t want to cause any trouble. And when you do that, you’re suppose to get rewarded, you know? When the tradition for the senior class is to send the president to Washington DC over Spring Break and you’ve worked your way to president. The school administration is not supposed to send the Vice President instead. You know? Not when you follow the rules and do whatever you are asked to do. It’s just not how the world is supposed to work. Then again, reality doesn’t follow those rules. It sucks. It’s unfair. But that’s life. So, Hannah. I can relate to her. She frustrates me though. As much as I understand where she comes from, I can certainly understand the frustration Hannah’s sister and best friend experience in trying to loosen her up a bit. After all, Hannah’s graduating!

And Nick. Gosh, I love Nick. He’s a good balance to Hannah and the over all story. And his bandmates? Love them. The supporting characters were just as good. I love how Grace, Hannah’s sister, is trying to get her to loosen up, along with Hannah’s best friend, Lo. They add a little curiosity and provide a break from everything being about Hannah and Nick, which keeps the story from going flat.

And it takes place on the backdrop of Las Vegas. You can’t argue with that. I mean, if you’re going to break the rules, Vegas is the perfect place!

So, the plot was good. The characters are awesome. And I know there are more elements to storytelling you should be considering, but I’m not going to get into them. Bottom line is that this story was a really good story. It was easy to read and it’s a story I will definitely revisit again and again so I’d add it to my library.

Overall rating – 5 stars!