Tag: Realistic Fiction

A French Read: Hiroshimoi

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Bonjour, bonjour! I’m The French Guy! I’m here to talk about French books and stuff. In French, of course. But a little in English too. Now let’s start with one very new and shiny book: Hiroshimoi by Véronique Grenier.

Passion et fantasme, espoir et résignation, directement de ta mère. Huh? Eh oui! Les éditions de «Ta Mère», irrévérencieux jusque dans leur nom – ou peut-être à cause de leur nom – te présente ce récit d’amour franc et direct. Il va droit au but, long de ses 65 pages et va te laisser «flabbergaster» comme aime dire l’héroïne de cette histoire.

«Un jour, dans un rayon de soleil tu te tiendras tout près de moi
Le vent sera doux
Ce sera un jour de semaine sur un trottoir entre deux fentes les passants nous frôleront tes mains sur mes poignets tout ce temps que prendra ta bouche pour se rendre jusqu’à la mienne.
On restera là jusqu’aux étoiles à se lancer des regards mous.»

Here you go, that was one page. Easy, right? In short, it’s a short story, with short pages and short sentences. And it shows you real French, something you won’t learn in school. Get it now through our online catalogue!

Cette pièce est seulement un des nouveaux livres disponibles à la bibliothèque. T’en veux d’autres? Voilà la liste!

Know another nice French book you’d recommend us? Looking for a French book we don’t have? Have some ideas for activities in French? Leave a comment and we’ll talk about it!

À la prochaine~

The Unexpected Everything

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The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson | noun | 1. a book that is the pure definition of summer and everything that it holds. 2. a book that features tons of cute dogs where readers grow overly attached to them. 3. a beautiful story of friendship, real love and all of the good stuff in life.
Morgan Matson is my favourite contemporary author of all time, residing with John Green in my golden shelves of awesomeness (one day, I vow that I will actually possess this shelf), but if you know me, you mostly likely already knew that. The Unexpected Everything was probably my most-anticipated read of the year, and it definitely reached its expectations, though a tiny bit on the lower side. As usual, Morgan’s writing drags, just like mine tends to do when I’m in school, writing an essay and I discover that I can’t stop overdosing on words. That’s exactly what happened in this case, and what has happened with every single book by Matson. When I first saw the page count, 517 pages made me feel giddy, overly excited. Honestly? How could a YA novel that is all contemporary-romance stem towards a 500+ page count? You have to be an amazing writer, which Morgan is, but you also have to have this idea that doesn’t get boring and that could progress into this greater page count.
The Unexpected Everything was expected for me to enjoy. I just knew that I would love it. Dogs? A nerdy-cute love interest? A girl who’s smart and obsessed with school? A book that is written throughout a period of a whole summer? These all looked like things that I would love about this book, and it seriously is true. This was such a good read. Now, I don’t know how I would be able to live a summer like our protagonist, Andie, had, because that was just chaotic (and awesome at the same time), and as always, I just loved the mentality and extra moral that Morgan adds to her stories time after time.
Before we get to anything, we NEED TO discuss the puppies/dogs. I actually never had a clue that Morgan’s story would revolve around dogs. At all. I just thought the cute dogs on the cover huddled around the model (who is supposed to be Andie) were just a nice addition. EVERY DOG MENTIONED, I WOULD JUST GO BACK TO THE COVER. Guys, you see the adorable, big, fluffy white dog? THAT IS BERTIE. NOT “BIRDIE” (that made me laugh out loud honestly), but Bertie. He is the cutest thing on Earth and I seriously was so overly-attached to him that I want to name my future child Bertie. (Even if I have a girl) Bertie is “Clark’s dog,” without stating any spoilers. I love him. And Clark. But especially Bertie.

“Books were everywhere. Not in haphazard piles—there was absolutely nothing about this place that seemed haphazard—but there were floor-to-ceiling built-ins on all sides of this very large room, and they were absolutely rammed with books. It was the kind of room—big couches, comfy chairs—that you would expect a TV in, but I didn’t see one anywhere. All I could see were books” (116).

I would also like to thank Morgan for appreciating books. A big theme of this story is booknerds and loving books in general. Our protagonist, Andie, never really reads unless it’s school-related (HOW DARE SHE?!), but once she meets Clark, secret book-nerd/author, her appreciation grows. Morgan also adds in excerpts from what would be Clark’s books, which I also formed a bond with. Man, this author just makes readers bond with everything/everyone!

Basically, this story is so relatable. Not about dog-walking or the romance between Clark and Andie, but because of Andie herself. I LOVED HER. Andie is the daughter of a Congressman, who is a single father after Andie’s mother died from ovarian cancer. She loves school, plans on going into pre-med, is looking into internships, plans everything out, has her life planned out, and has a great group of friends who always support her. It sounds perfect, right? Her internship fails. Her father doesn’t act like a father. Her relationships only last three weeks. Her summer job is dog-walking. I loved how Morgan looks at imperfections and creates the summer of a lifetime (with many flaws) for Andie and her friends. Friendship was a hugely important theme of this story, and I loved how tight-knit Andie’s group was. Toby, Bri, Palmer, Tom and Clark all had their own personalities which made this a really fun read. I couldn’t just pick my favourite character. They were all astonishing.

As Morgan had in every book of hers, especially Since You’ve Been Gone, romance is a big factor, but not everything. That is why I like to call Morgan’s stories real and inspiring, because they closely live up to the lives of teenagers. BUT THE ROMANCE WAS REAL. Candie, Ark, whatever ship name you would like to provide the two,t hey were perfect for each other. Clark was just the happiest, most hilarious fictional boyfriend of any heroine and I just loved how awkward he was and how quickly he did become comfortable with Andie.

Cheers to the father-daughter relationship and how Matson keeps implanting the fact that Andie’s life isn’t perfect. I must admit, I hated Andie’s dad for the first half of the book, but he kept making me smile and laugh. I have to praise that precious relationship, you know?

“We said our good-byes and headed out shortly after that. I got into the Mustang, running my hand over the steering wheel for just a moment before checking the time and realizing I had to get going. There was someone I needed to meet” (516).

So at times, this book dragged. It became boring and I just wanted that boring phase to get by before the good stuff came around. There were those every now and then, and I honestly wanted this book to be perfect, and to be honest, it wasn’t fully. But I still loved it. IT’S TOO LONG, ALTHOUGH I LOVE MORGAN’S WRITING. If this were fantasy… that’d be a different story.

If only I had a summer like this… *sighs* Cheers to dogs, Bertie, romance, pizza, scavenger hunts, road-trips to tell someone you love them, Diet Coke and fantasy novels! As always, I am so impressed with Morgan Matson’s work and this is the reason why I read contemporary-romance: to get in a specific mood. Now? I need to go to the pool and kind of wash my brain a little because it hurts. Five-hundred-and-seventeen pages in a row (basically) does hurt your head.

Nantucket Blue

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Nantucket Blue is one of those books that I added on to my TBR list ages ago when I underwent some kind of YA contemporary-romance chick-lit phase. It happens. I never stopped wanting to read it, either. I finally found a copy of it available when I went to the new library by my house. Seeing a copy in good condition also intrigued me, you know? I borrowed it, sat down in one of their uber-cool noise-cancelling chairs, and read half of it there. The other half? At home. It’s currently summer vacation, and although I won’t be spending any time on the beach until August, Leila Howland converted me from reality into Nantucket. You cannot imagine how much I want to visit Rhode Island, tour Brown University and take a ferry to this gorgeous island that I now know so much about. For some, this may be a cheesy chick-lit where we could all predict the ending. Yeah, it was extremely cheesy, but that’s the fun of it. I really loved Nantucket Blue, and I am excited to read the sequel!

This story revolves around soon-to-be-seniors in high school, Cricket and Jules. They have been best friends since the eighth grade, and since Cricket doesn’t have a good relationship with her divorced parents, Jules’ home has become Cricket’s, in a way. After a huge tragedy strikes, the two friends’ lives change forever. This is right at the start of summer vacation, and Jules’ family is still going to their summer home on a small island called Nantucket. Cricket follows Jules to show that their friendship still exists and gets caught in a summer fling in the midst of it all… yada yada yada.

You can most likely predict it if I tell you all about each of the characters and how Cricket gets involved with them. That’s not why I read the book, to catch the predictability and make fun of the story. I read this book because I was looking for a book that will capture the great moments of summer and make me have this inexplicable feeling. This book is your perfect beach read, a book that you will fly by in a sitting and squeal over.

Leila Howland is just such a good writer. This story was fast-paced, and although it takes place over a matter of two months, it never got boring. Boringness is a HUGE book pet peeve of mine, and if I get bored reading a book, I feel like it’s a waste of time for me to read. Nantucket Blue was just so addicting and like bliss. It had this kind of 90210-like drama, but it was narrowed down a touch and made extra fun.

Our protagonist, Cricket, was kind of the issue at times, but I liked her anyway. Overly attached characters are no fun. There were moments where I just wanted to slap the book and scream at it because Cricket never made the decisions that she should have made! Like seriously, making out with two guys in a day? Being nice and overly attached to your ex-best friend? NOOOO. Cricket Thompson is your stereotypical example of a bi*chy teenage girl. I honestly am so against stereotypes (they’re the worst things possible), but Cricket Thompson fulfilled the ones that have been made for years because of shows/books like Gossip Girl. She had no respect for her parents, didn’t care about anything she did, and was so boy-crazy that it blew my mind.

At least the romance was cute when it came around. Screw Jay though. I can’t believe that Cricket was obsessed with this douche-bag. ZACK, GUYS. I don’t understand what was the big deal with the whole dating-best-friend-brother thing. I guess people have different opinions on all of this. The age difference kind of frustrated me, though. (Zack is a sophomore. Cricket is a senior).

My favourite thing was Nantucket itself. I’ve read books about The Hamptons, about Martha’s Vineyard or Cape Cod, but never about Nantucket. I wouldn’t have known about Nantucket if it wasn’t for Leila Howland’s duology. I WANT TO GO THERE. I want to eat fried clams, as well.

Nantucket Blue is one of the most summeriest books you could possibly read. Next time I go to the library, I’ll have to grab a copy of the sequel and be introduced to another summer of Cricket’s in Nantucket. Any lover of Melissa de la Cruz’s contemporary novels should definitely go for this pretty.

Dangerous Lies

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Low expectations, guys, low expectations. Years ago, I read the highly recommended angel-love-story, Hush, Hush, by Becca Fitzpatrick herself. I seriously expected a beautiful story that would have me obsessed as I was with, say, Divergent, but I ended up having mixed feelings about it all, especially because of the instant romance that fluttered with love and hate coming back and forth with each other. Later on, I was excited to hear that Becca moved from writing paranormal romance to thrillers. If you don’t know me by now, I LOVE THRILLERS.Everything about them just make my heart flutter and I occasionally get these outbursts where I need to read a hundred of them in a row. I still need to read Black Ice, which I own, but for now, Dangerous Lies did it for me. I really enjoyed everything about it, and it’s one of those books that you’ll want to spend a day reading because you constantly feel this outrage of tension, making you feel like something could happen at any moment.

Dangerous Lies has been getting mixed reviews on Goodreads, and I expected the worst, because I rather be pleased than disappointed in the end. There is a strong romance in this book, mixed with real-life events that could happen to anyone. Our heroine, Stella, who I adored, is in the Witness Protection Program, and that could seem like a minor detail in the plot, but I loved how Becca centred the story around that. Stella moves to a small town in Nebraska, which is a setting I have seen for the first time in a book, and it makes us readers feel this tension that anyone could find her. It’s interesting to read about settings like this because we don’t know what to expect. Some would prefer to hide in big cities where they won’t be found, while other prefer small towns in the middle of nowhere.

As mentioned, Stella is in the WPP after she witnessed a crime in her own house committed by her mother’s “boyfriend” drug-dealer, after he shot another man in Philadelphia, her old home. She moves to Nebraska and lives with a woman who she immediately feels connected to. And then she meets a cute guy, Chet, and their connection becomes bigger but of course, there’s a guy at home.

This book makes you think about how life brings surprises all the time. You could be living your life in a certain, ordinary way until something unexpected happens and everything you’ve ever known is taken from you forever, it seems. You could just have to move, like Stella had, out of nowhere for something that wasn’t your fault. This novel was part mystery, part contemporary, and I liked how there was just a bit of everything: mystery, romance and the life of a senior in high school. There was the looming tension that Stella’s mother would come out of nowhere, leave rehab and come and get there. There was the other part looming where Stella’s boyfriend from home, Reed, would show up. Every chapter literally brought something new up and I couldn’t take my eyes off the pages.

Becca Fitzpatrick’s writing is very simplistic, and for this type of novel, that’s the kind of thing I’m looking for. I look for a pretty interesting plot, mixed with good characters and a mystery that’s different—not your typical best friend murder story.

Some people have mentioned how Stella’s character is bit*hy. Yeah, she definitely is, but I actually loved that side of her, the arrogant, confident side that made readers be obsessed with her and wonder how she will solve her own problem. She’s extremely independent, perfect for this small-town-setting. I loved how Becca made her have a relationship with her coworkers at the diner. Agh. This was just so great and refreshing, my friends.

Now, let’s get to the romance. CHET AND STELLA ARE ADORBS TIMES A HUNDRED. Their relationship was not forced, as I have frequently read lately, and I love their carefree feeling, and how they could confide in each other. Go couples that tell each other their secrets and don’t create drama that gets in the way of the real point of the book! *cheers*

Dangerous Lies, from its cover (which defines the book perfectly), to the last page, is just satisfying. It’s one of the better mysteries I’ve read lately, and certainly one of the better books. I am seriously looking forward to what else Becca will be releasing in the future, and I just can see how this will make other readers go crazy. It took me long enough to read, though. By the way, there are tons of dangerous lies hidden in between the lines of the story, and you will be extremely shocked!

Althea and Oliver

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MY FELLOW REVIEWERS, I have a difficult question for you to answer: what are your issues with this glorious book? I have owned Althea and Oliver by Cristina Moracho for the longest time ever—perhaps since it was released. I think I remember purchasing it a few weeks after it was initially released because I needed another Eleanor and Park in my life. This is a riskier, wilder, but exactly the same real example of the Eleanor and Park that we readers all know and love. This is the story of two best friends who are so close that no one else understands them the way the other does, and how they need to rely on each other for so much. There is so much negativity, debates going around about how the author handled rape (which I do have my opinion on, I’ll get into it) and how the book was boring. But honestly? I didn’t see barely any negativity—this was just a great read that I’m so happy to own in my book collection.

Sometimes anticipation goes down the drain. That happens quite frequently with me. Sometimes, anticipation is totally worth it. I decided to read Althea and Oliver on a road trip where I brought all hardcovers, all books that scream “SUMMER” and “SUMMER COLOURS.” Obviously, yellow is a summery colour, so I just grabbed this one and went with it. I was super excited to read it. Thankfully my expectations were correct. This book just WOWed me. I am still shocked with the ending to this very day, weeks later. I am shocked with the way that Moracho handled the romance, how she didn’t take Althea and Oliver, two best friends who are as close as two peas in a pod, that she didn’t take them and implanted them into each other—make them a fictional couple who are so in love and are starstruck with why or how they did not notice the other person years ago. This went in a complete different direction and I promise you, if you decide to read this, you will agree with me: you never have read a book that ends like this.

Fluffy at times and all, where Althea and Oliver just cannot stop obsessing over each other as they are separated at two different parts of the country, this has a very complex set of themes and ideas that Cristina planned out perfectly. This is not fantasy—the fact that Oliver sleeps for weeks and wakes up out of nowhere—Oliver’s condition, Kleine-Levin syndrome is not fake. I searched it up after being so mesmerized with the topic, and it is a real illness that’s rare, yes, but that exists with many people. This is not a book about a boy having experienced something tragic and is undergoing amnesia. Oliver sleeps, out of nowhere, and loses the bits of his life that would be important to him if he was able to see it, or in fact, live it.

This is where the rape issue comes in. Many have deducted high ratings because of what happened between Althea and Oliver at one point of the novel, before he heads to New York City to be watched and monitored by that ultra-cool doctor of his. No one really mentions it, but Moracho hints at male sexual violence, in a way. Althea sleeps with Oliver, but he doesn’t remember any of it, his first time, when he wakes up, because he was half-awake, or however Oliver’s mother likes to call it. Althea should know half-asleep Oliver from fully-awake Oliver—I even noticed. Oliver didn’t really give consent, and after he woke up, he was pissed at Althea, which creates this horrible tension in the novel, and next thing Althea knows, her first love is in New York City, being treated for his condition without saying goodbye because he’s too upset at Althea.

“There are days that I remember, totally ordinary days when I was so happy just to be driving around in the car with you, just to have you there, and everything you said was funny and everything I said was clever and every song that came on the radio was exactly the song I wanted to hear” (327).

It looked like rape to me—but I wasn’t so annoyed. I just hated how Althea denied it—she thought that she was perfect and the best, never doing any wrong. Don’t get me wrong—I loved Althea as a character, but she was too arrogant, too much of a trouble-maker for me to believe that she didn’t mean it or whatnot. I see that many people are thinking the exact same thing as me. From the two, I loved Oliver and his story much more, comparing to Althea’s. And this was never mentioned, but I wonder if Althea just went to NYC to find Oliver to apologize. She was a crazy man-freak who really didn’t put that much emotion into her love for Oliver as Oliver did, you know? It was really, really interesting to see the twist on this story that people stereotypically see the opposite of.

From beginning to end, this was just so enjoyable. I finished reading this in one sitting, one sitting full of laughs, but mostly constant page-flipping because I was just so intrigued with Moracho’s writing. The writing was lyrical, poetic and so real. It screamed out summer, fall, and all of the seasons because as we got to know Althea and Oliver more and more, time passed by and they were caught with different things in their lives. The story starts off in North Carolina, a new favourite setting of mine where it’s basically summer all year long, and then progressed into NYC, my favourite city in the entire universe.

This book is the anthem for the power of books. Althea and Oliver is completely original, taken place in the 90s where we read about mixtapes (which are currently trending again), times with no cell phones and a different life that I, myself, hadn’t ever experienced because of my age. I just want to listen to The Backstreet Boys and jam, thinking about this powerful story that caused me to think about relationships, life and just… everything.

Althea and Oliver is mesmerizing, addicting and powerful. It contains a variety of messages, some that pop up to some people, and others that intrigue other people. It’s all about the perspective that you look at these characters, and how you treat life. It’s philosophical, real, and has no inch of fantasy that will make you doubt anything that happened in the plot. I couldn’t stop reading, and my mouth still has an “O” shape out of shock. That ending—that was unbelievably great.