A Song for Summer

A Song for Summer
Eva Ibbotson
Penguin (2007)

I'll be honest, I fell in love with the cover of this book (as well as several of Ibbotson's other novels) and the title. I drooled over it for a months online, hoping the library would pick it up. When nobody ever did, I bought it myself, to see if it's as good as it looks and to get a feel for Ibbotson's style. Oh man. I am hooked.

The premise of the story is interesting in and of itself - pre-WWII Europe, a handsome man with a secret, a beautiful girl with a heart of gold. I love WWI and WWII stories, so I was already interested. Even knowing it involved WWII ideas, which frequently become quite heart-gripping, I never expected to become so emotionally attached to this novel and/or its characters. In Ellen, I recognized some of myself - a desire to see and not become blinded by any one thing/love/person. In Marek -- well, quite simply, in Marek is frank examination of our very humanity. But not in a daunting way. Nothing about this tale is daunting. It feels real. I lived the story. I was caught unawares by the shifts and changes, I got to know the characters as they got to know each other and themselves. I thought about things while reading, and after. And I have made the decision to read more of Ibbotson's novels, because if they are all this good, it's worth tracking them down.

Book provided by my personal library.


Everything Austen II

Okay, I'm going to officially join a challenge! Woot!

The Everything Austen II challenge hosted by Stephanie's Written Word (as found by Becky's Book Reviews) ... It's right up my alley, dontcha think: 6 Austen, or Austen-themed, books - or movies - in the last six months of 2010. I can do this. Definitely.

So what 6 Austen-esque pieces will I use ... Hmm ... Good question. I've got a rather lengthy list of Austenia that I want to read, more than enough to choose from, so let me list those and I will fill in the blanks as I read/watch them, and we'll see what happens.

The Official Six:

The List of Austenia:
Persuasion (Austen)
Emma (Austen)
Mansfield Park (Austen)
 I was Jane Austen's Best Friend (Harrison)
According to Jane (Brant)
Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict (Rigler)
Dearest Cousin Jane (Pitkeathley)
The Other Mr. Darcy (Fairview)
Emma & Knightley: Perfect Happiness in Highbury (Billington)
Writing Jane Austen (Aston)

Bridget Jones's Diary


Top Ten Picks: Literary Crushes

Okay, saw this on Becky's Book Reviews, and loved it ... so, of course, had to create my own! So without further ado ... My top ten Literary Crushes, in no particular order:

Gilbert Blythe -- Who doesn't love Gil? He's human, he's real. He's just as much irritating boy as he is idealistic hero. He's sweet, but has a temper. He's practical and romantic. He is, in short, quite possibly one of the most perfect literary heroes worthy of crushing on, ever.

Almanzo Wilder -- Maybe this is just me, but Almanzo is definitely crush-worthy. I reread the books over the winter, and was struck anew at how perfectly beautiful the love story between Laura & Almanzo is. To me, it's the best love story - even better than Anne & Gil, Edward & Elinor, or Lizze & Darcy. Of course I crush on the boy who gentles wild horses with a whisper, and does what no other man in town is brave enough to do ...

Fitzwilliam Darcy -- Lest my dear Darcy feel slighted at being surpassed by a pioneer, let me clearly state he IS one of my literary crushes. He's arrogant and stubbornly holds to what he believes is right and true. But that makes him human. And for his humanity, and his [reluctant] understanding of his need to change, wins my heart and Lizzie's.

Han Solo -- Okay, so I'm thinking the one in the movies rather than the books I've never read, but since the movies came from the books, I feel perfectly justified including him. There's really no need to explain this one further.

Wes -- The 'hero' of The Truth About Forever, Wes is the boy who went through hell and earned a few rough spots on his record, but is undeniably endearing. He didn't let his past deny him his future. He made the tough choices. He wins.

Doc McNeil -- Neil McNeil was arrogant and opinionated. Which made him devastatingly vulnerable: when he fell, he fell hard. With all the charm of a mountain man, and the smarts of the brilliant doctor and researcher he is, Doc McNeil is definitely a man to revere.

The Isbjørn Prince -- An old Norse fairytale/folktale, 'East of the Sun, West of the Moon', recently retold in novels like East; Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow; Ice that EVERYONE needs to read ... the isbjørn (polar bear) prince has become my fairytale prince. Forget kissing frogs, I'm waiting on a polar bear.

[Prince] Christian -- His story is found in Once Upon a Marigold & Twice Upon a Marigold, and what wins Christian points is that he doesn't know he's a prince. He ran away from home because he wanted to explore and invent. And his inventions save the princess (Marigold) he loves, but thinks he can never have.

Ivanhoe -- For a while, my life was the story of Ivanhoe, but even before that I loved him ... Still convinced he married the wrong girl, but whatever. He's a boy, he can't be blamed [entirely] for not thinking through everything as adequately as he might should have.

Laurie -- Good ol' Laurie. Also known as Teddy. Formally acknowledged as Theodore Lawrence. Of Little Women-fame. I like Laurie, I really do. And I like that he grew up and realized which sister was really the lady of his heart - and that he had to grow up to earn her. He was a boy's boy, and then he became a man's man.

And that, I do believe, is ten. Apparently, looking over this list, not many current heroes catch my attention ... Interesting.


Odd and the Frost Giants

Odd and the Frost Giants
Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins 2009)

Ohmigoodness. I loved this book. And not just because I read it on a stickily hot 93* day either. It has all the elements of Norse myth that I love, and reads like a legend - but it's so obviously 'modern' in creature (language, etc.). Really, there's nothing to say but "I loved it" and "I hope Gaiman writes more of these tales". You're going to have to read it for yourself, because I don't want to give anything away. It's quick and easy, and very enjoyable.

Book provided by my local library


the summer i turned pretty

the summer i turned pretty
Jenny Han (Simon & Schuster, 2009)

I have seen a lot of reviews about this book, and was very excited when my library finally got a copy (and the sequel, which I'm on the wait list for!). It was worth the wait. It has all the 'warm fuzzy' elements a perfect summer beach read should have - it's even set AT the beach, added bonus - but also has a deeper storyline than just sand and sun. I was a little wary of the sudden flashbacks that appear, but quickly realized they were not detrimental to the story nor confusing. Han did an amazing job of working them is as if they were remembrances brought up in conversation - everything fit at just the right place, and there was an easy transition between past and present. Definitely looking forward to reading the newly-published sequel!

Book provided by my local library.