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Review : Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland

Posted by on June 22, 2013 3:27 am in 4.5 stars reads | 4 comments

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Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
Pages : 304
Genre : YA, Fiction
Stand Alone
My Rating : 4,5/5

What it’s about :

Cricket and Jules had planned an amazing summer on Nantucket : boys, parties and beach days, it would be the best summer of their lives. But when Jules’ mom unexpectedly passes away, Cricket is left behind to plan her own summer and deal with the pain of losing a woman she admired.

Wishing to be of help to her best friend, she makes her own plans for Nantucket; a new job, a new place to stay. She expects to be a relief for Jules, an occasion of comfort; yet her arrival seems to annoy her best friend more than it pleases her. Alone in a new and exciting place, it is left to Cricket to make the best of this summer.

My Thoughts :

I have a thing for summer novels. It’s no secret; some of my favorite YA novels are filled with the warmth of the sand and the smells of the sea. Probably because the beach took such an important place in my childhood, I keep revisiting it through various types of literature. This might be why, even though I hadn’t heard much about Nantucket Blue prior to reading it, I felt sort of predisposed to liking it.

However, I wasn’t prepared for how much I would love it! Its cover will have you believe it harbors a simple summer romance, yet Nantucket Blue is so much more! Friendship, identity, heartbreak, grief; like life, the story isn’t limited to one single theme and explores all aspects of Cricket’s life.

In some ways, Nantucket Blue read a little like a coming-of-age story. For Cricket, it’s a summer of first times; not just for love and sex, but also for being on her own, away from her parents, and being inexplicably separated from her best friend. It’s a completely new life for her; she is doing her best to be independent, all while trying to find out who she is on her own.

Cricket was so perfectly written, I related with her from start to finish. She isn’t perfect, far from it, but she also has a bit of humor in there. There’s also a complexity to her and her relationships. For instance, she sounds at times a little judgemental about her mother, who feels lonely and sad after the divorce; yet Cricket also tries actively to match her mom with a new man, and often seems to be missing her presence. All of Cricket’s relationships are a bit like that (though in different doses), which makes her a very realistic character.

The romance was sweet. Predictable in the good way. Likable, too. It wasn’t overshadowing the story, no more than it was too instantaneous. Realistic, I felt like Cricket’s relationship moved at a great pace. It read as if the characters were their age, too.

I also need to add a word about the setting, which I absolutely loved. I’ve never been to Nantucket, but the descriptions were perfectly lovely and reminded me of the little village where I spent my days on the beach as a kid. After reading a few of Leila Howland’s descriptions of it, I googled it and found out Nantucket was exactly like I had imagined it from the author’s words!

Anytime I fall in love with a book, I’m afraid I’ll review it and raise expectations for it too high. This is the case here; there are tons of books that tell tales of summer romance and days by the sea, yet this one stood out for me. Everything – the writing, the characters, the setting, the story – came together to create a novel that captured my heart. Hopefully this is only the first of many great novels for the author!

Similar Reading

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

It feels like it was yesterday, yet it’s already been a few years since I read and loved Twenty Boy Summer.

While the nature of the grief here is slightly different, it shares many similarities with Nantucket Blue. A tale of summer and friendship, broken hearts and beaches, it was a novel I loved both for its story and its writing.

Nantucket Blue is available for sale today! Thanks to Disney Hyperion  for generously providing a copy of the book for this review!

Wordless Wednesday : View from the top

Posted by on June 19, 2013 3:40 am in My work | 7 comments

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Our new place has a small terrace on the roof; the Man and I enjoyed it for the first time last night! Gorgeous view of my city!
For more Wordless Wednesday, click here!

Filling the Shelf – 106

Posted by on June 17, 2013 3:30 am in Book talk | 11 comments

Filling the Shelf is basically Mailbox Monday or the more recent Stacking the Shelves, but with a title that suits my blog! If you’re interested in joining the fun or seeing what other bloggers added to their shelves, I invite you to visit the two hosts!

 

Hello hello fellow readers!

It’s sort of a special mailbox this week; not really books that arrived this week, but the ones that arrived while I was moving and didn’t have time to share with you all. As I started to unpack my books to be read, I stumbled upon them with great joy!

Brandon Sanderson was a must have, of course, as was Khaled Hosseini’s new book (it’s been too long since I read The Kiterunner, so I’ll probably have to reread it soon!) The Other Typist sounds really intriguing, and I can’t wait to read what Kelly Oxford will be like in book form (if the cover sets the tone for the book, I believe I am in for a good time!)

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Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar by Kelly Oxford / The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

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And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini / The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

What did you add to your shelves recently?

Review : The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines by Shohreh Aghdashloo

Posted by on June 13, 2013 2:44 am in 3.5 stars reads | 6 comments

the alley of love and yellow jasminesThe Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines by Shohreh Aghdashloo
Pages : 288
Genre : Non-fiction, Memoir
Stand Alone
My Rating : 3,5/5

From the back of the book :

Oscar nominee and Emmy Award–winning actress Shohreh Aghdashloo shares her remarkable personal journey—from a childhood in the Shah’s Iran to the red carpets of Hollywood—in this dazzling memoir of family, faith, revolution, and hope.

Enchanted by the movies she watched while growing up in affluent Tehran in the 1950s and ’60s, Shohreh Aghdashloo dreamed of becoming an actress despite her parents’ more practical plans. When she fell in love and married her husband, Aydin, a painter twelve years her senior, she made him promise he’d allow her to follow her passion.

The first years of her marriage were magical. As Shohreh began to build a promising career, Aydin worked at the royal offices as an art director while exhibiting his paintings in Tehran. But in 1979 revolution swept Iran, toppling the Shah and installing an Islamic republic under the Ayatollah Khomeini. Alarmed by the stifling new restrictions on women and art, Shohreh made the bold and dangerous decision to escape the new regime and her home country. Leaving her family and the man she loved behind, she fled in a covert journey to Europe and eventually to Los Angeles.

My Thoughts :

I’ve always liked Shohreh Aghdashloo; I like her voice and her acting, and she’s also a gorgeous woman. I was intrigued when I was invited to read her new memoir, and I was pleased since I had been looking for something a little bit different to read.

Shohreh’s life was, for sure, filled with adventure! Moving around the world, meeting tons of different people, building a career in theater and then in cinema; we get to explore the actress’ life from many points of view through time. For me, the most interesting part was, without a doubt, her life in Iran. Not to say that anything happening after was uninteresting, but it was a life so different from everything I have known that I flew through the pages that took place in this far-away place. I can’t say I understood everything that happened there (it’s something I’m still learning about), but seeing it through her eyes helped make it more personal, more human.

Even once she moved away, Iran was still never far from Shohreh’s heart. Her friends and her family were left there, as well as her memories and all her hopes for her country. It is heartbreaking to read about, yet I was amazed by how strong Shohreh was and how dedicated she was to her ideals of democracy as well as her career.

I also enjoyed seeing how she built her career in Hollywood! Her enthusiasm for actors and movie directors was charming, and though I’m not one to be super intrigued by celebs gossips, I found it entertaining to read her point of view on the Hollywood scene.

Sometimes memoirs read like rich pieces of fiction; I didn’t feel it was the case here. This can be good or bad depending on your preferences, but I do know that I felt a bit of a distance from the author. I really felt like she opened her heart to the readers though, so I think the distance I felt had more to do with the writing, which at times felt a bit clinical.

Overall, a very nice experience. I believe readers who are not familiar with Iran’s history or Shohreh Aghdashloo will still appreciate the memoir. I’ll admit I googled a few things along the way, but I never felt lost in this strange country. The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines is an inspiring memoir that offers a pleasant and easy reading, despite its sometimes difficult themes.

The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines is available for sale today! Thanks to Harper  for generously providing a copy of the book for this review, and to TLC Book Tour for inviting me to join!