A Love Story for the Ages

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“We walk alone through this world, but if we’re lucky, we have a moment of belonging to something, to someone, that sustains us through a lifetime of loneliness.”

Once upon a time, I was looking for a book to buy at Barnes & Noble. I wanted a big book that would take me a while to read, but one that wasn’t $16.00 (why do print copies of books seem so expensive now? I remember picking up Caroline B. Cooney’s novels for $7.95 back in the day!). I settled on The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. It was a title and author I had never heard of, but I was drawn to the beautiful cover and the synopsis on the back of the book:

The golden skies, the translucent twilight, the white nights, all hold the promise of youth, of love, of eternal renewal. The war has not yet touched this city of fallen grandeur, or the lives of two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha Metanova, who share a single room in a cramped apartment with their brother and parents. Their world is turned upside down when Hitler’s armies attack Russia and begin their unstoppable blitz to Leningrad.

Yet there is light in the darkness. Tatiana meets Alexander, a brave young officer in the Red Army. Strong and self-confident, yet guarding a mysterious and troubled past, he is drawn to Tatiana—and she to him. Starvation, desperation, and fear soon grip their city during the terrible winter of the merciless German siege. Tatiana and Alexander’s impossible love threatens to tear the Metanova family apart and expose the dangerous secret Alexander so carefully protects—a secret as devastating as the war itself—as the lovers are swept up in the brutal tides that will change the world and their lives forever.

Despite my initial draw to the book, it sat on my shelf for quite a while.  I just didn’t have the time to sit down and read it.  When summer came around, I finally had the opportunity to read it–and boy, did I get sucked in.  World War II is a fascinating and complex time, and this book, set during the siege of Leningrad, was a part of the war I had never learned about. I found myself looking up the historical event as I was reading to better understand the time period. People were starving and freezing to death—resorting to eating bread made out of sawdust and burning their own furniture and books to keep fires burning. The rawness and the desperation of the age were brought to life in Simons’ novel. The book isn’t all sadness and pain though. I picked up this book in the fiction section, so I wasn’t prepared for the book’s steamy scenes! There is a passionate romance that will have you yearning for a love like Tatiana and Alexander’s. What’s even more awesome about this book is that there are two more books to read once you’re finished with it: Tatiana and Alexander and The Summer Garden. I bought the second and third books on my kindle immediately after finishing The Bronze Horseman.

While everyone else was talking about Fifty Shades of Grey, I was consumed by the epic love story of Tatiana and Alexander.  If you’re looking for a love story where the characters overcome incredible odds, you’ll be hooked on The Bronze Horseman for hours.  I highly recommend adding this book (and the entire trilogy) to your summer TBR list.

What love stories have pulled at your heart strings?

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Spring Break Book Haul

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This spring, a good friend and I decided that we were sick of our never-ending winter and that we deserved a tropical vacation! We booked a trip to Daytona Beach, Florida, where we planned to read on the plane, read by the pool, and read by the beach. In preparation for the trip, I purchased three books. I thought I would finish two books on my trip—and, at the very least one—but I was a bit ambitious apparently. I didn’t even finish one book! We had really quick layovers, so we didn’t end up reading in the airport, and I spent a lot of time people watching at the beach instead (cute kids, couples who didn’t seem like they would have ended up together, and women in bikinis who maybe shouldn’t have been in bikinis!). I bought The King’s Deception as a paperback so I could read on the beach. I got the furthest in this book—making it to page 260 by the end of our trip. I purchased Cress and Children of Liberty for my Kindle Fire, thinking I would use it on the plane and in the hotel. I got through a few chapters of Cress, but didn’t even touch the other novel. Here’s a little more about my vacation book haul:

  1. The King’s Deception by Steve Berry

Steve Berry is one of my favorite authors and I’ve talked about his books in other posts. This 2013 thriller intertwined with an historical conspiracy doesn’t disappoint. In this novel, Cotton Malone and his teenage son are headed to Europe—but, of course, nothing ever goes smoothly in Malone’s world. He stumbles into a CIA operation and diplomatic showdown involving a mystery about the true identity of Queen Elizabeth I, the last Tudor monarch. The situation is dangerous, and with his son involved as well, Malone has to stay a step ahead to uncover the truth of the King’s Deception. Read an excerpt of the novel here.

  1. Cress by Marissa Meyer

Cress is the third book in the Lunar Chronicles series, following Cinder and Scarlet. The novel brings back all our favorite characters from the previous books (Cinder, Captain Thorne, Scarlet, Wolf, Iko, and Emperor Kai), while introducing us to some new ones. Cress has been trapped in a satellite since her childhood by a Lunar thaumaturge. With nowhere to go and no one to talk to, Cress spends her day surfing netscreens, hacking computers, and spying on Earth. Her orders are to track down Cinder, but Cress has second thoughts about this. Meanwhile, Cinder and her fellow fugitives are trying to figure out how to overthrow the evil Queen Levana and her plans to invade Earth. Their attempt goes horribly wrong and the wedding between Queen Levana and Emperor Kai is less than two weeks away. Can Cinder and Cress figure out how to save Earth in time? If you haven’t read Cinder or Scarlet, be sure to check them out. Read excerpts of the novels here.

  1. Children of Liberty by Paullina Simons

Paullina Simons blew me away with the Bronze Horseman trilogy (I should really talk about the trilogy in a future post), so I was excited to read another book by this author. Simons brings us a prequel novel which tells the story of Alexander’s parents. Gina journeys from Italy to Boston to find a better life. There, she meets Harry Barrington, and thus begins their story of love and heartache. This novel is followed up by Bellagrand, a continuation of their saga.

What type of books do you like to read on the beach or on vacation?

Entry #19 – Favorite Author:

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Entry #19 – Favorite author:  What author do you gravitate towards in the bookstore or library?  Which author can you not get enough books from?  Or maybe they’ve only written one book, but it changed your life.

Growing up, my very favorite author would have to be Caroline B. Cooney.  This past summer, I decided to send a piece of fan-mail to this author who was an important part of my life.  I don’t know if she actually read my letter or not, but I thought it was important to express my thanks for her novels.  Check out a bit of the letter I sent:

I picked up The Face on the Milk Carton in middle school and became a Caroline B. Cooney fan for life.  “Cooney” was the first bookshelf I always checked at the library or bookstore, and I voraciously read your body of work.  I realize now how lucky I was to have parents who valued reading and were able to fund my book habit.  I have read at least 40 of your titles and personally own 30 of the books.  I remember ordering some of the trickier to find titles on e-bay when I was in college.  I also have The Face on the Milk Carton starring Kellie Martin and Edward Herrmann recorded on VHS!

Besides The Face on the Milk Carton series, some of my favorite books are The Time Travelers Quartet, Driver’s Ed, and The Terrorist. I enjoy your books because of the slightly-unusual character names, the fast-paced and suspenseful action, and the relatable main characters.  I’ve never seen my own face on a milk carton, stolen a stop sign, handled smallpox scabs, or traveled back in time, but for some reason, I believe what the characters are doing and feel for them.  I cheer them on when they make good choices and groan when they do the wrong thing.  Your books provided the adventure I needed in my life.

Even though I am now twenty-seven years old, I still enjoy picking up your books.  In fact, I just read Three Black Swans and Code Orange this summer.  It has taken me fifteen years to send this piece of fan-mail, but I wanted to let you know how much I admire you as an author.  I will continue to recommend your books to my friends and students.

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As an adult, I still gravitate towards Young Adult Literature, so I admire authors like Ally Condie, Kristin Cashore, Veronica Roth, Suzanne Collins, Carrie Jones, and Marissa Meyer.  When it comes to more “grown up” books, I’m a fan of authors Steve Berry, Katherine Neville, Paullina Simons, and Gillian Flynn.  The biggest bummer is finding an author I really like, and then discovering that the author has only written one book!

Who are your favorite authors?