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Not What I Expected: The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford

Hey there!

For my birthday in 2013 my husband sent me to YALL Fest in Charleston with a bunch of money to buy books. And boy did I buy books! The only problem is that I bought so many books it has taken forever to get to them all, which is why I just recently read The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford!

Overview

Laura Reid goes to Leningrad for a semester abroad as Cold War paranoia is peaking in 1982. She meets a young Russian artist named Alexei and soon, with Alexei as her guide, Laura immerses herself in the real The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie StandifordRussia–a crazy world of wild parties, black-market books and music, and smuggled letters to dissidents. She must keep the relationship secret; associating with Americans is dangerous for Alexei, and if caught, Laura could be sent home and Alexei put under surveillance or worse. At the same time, she’s been warned that Soviets often latch onto Americans in hopes of marrying them and thus escaping to the United States. But she knows Alexei loves her. Right?

As June approaches–when Laura must return to the United States–Alexei asks Laura to marry him. She’s only nineteen and doesn’t think she’s ready to settle down. But what if Alexei is the love of her life? How can she leave him behind? If she has a chance to change his life, to rescue him from misery, shouldn’t she take it?

My Thoughts

Okay, so I apparently did not read the summary of this one at all before buying it! A few pages into reading The Boy on the Bridge, I posted about it on Instagram and a friend asked me what it was about. My response was “I’m only 5 pages in but it takes place in Cold War era Soviet Union. I think there will be spies!” This is hilarious to me now that I’ve read it. There are no spies! I just assumed that there would be since it was set during the Cold War. haha OOPS!!

All, that to say this book was not what I expected, but that doesn’t mean it was bad! This book is historical fiction, but it’s too contemporary to be my usual type of historical fiction. I honestly didn’t know a single thing about what life was like in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, but Standiford’s writing drew me in so quickly and it was really eye-opening to learn more about the time period. I had no idea that average Soviet citizens were under strict food rationing while any visiting foreigners shopped at stores that sold the best of the best. Laura’s experience with her friend Alexei allows the reader to discover this divide in lifestyle alongside the Laura

Although, this is historical fiction, it is also a romance through and through! The way Laura meets Alexei is the perfect meet-cute when he saves her from being taken advantage of by a gypsy woman on a bridge. They quickly become language conversation partners before they blossom into full on romance and the best thing about this romance is that it is realistic. Standiford succeeds at making the reader feel the obsessiveness and all consuming nature that often characterizes first love.

In the end, The Boy on the Bridge was not what I originally expected, but I enjoyed it anyway! Romance lovers high school age and older will most likely enjoy this book the most so if that’s you go ahead and get your hands on this one!

Details

Author: Natalie Standiford
Publisher: Scholastic Press (July 1, 2013)
Format: Print (hardcover)
Length: 256 pages
Series: Standalone
YA/MG: YA/NA (New Adult)

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Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This: The Matt Cruise Trilogy by Kenneth Oppel

Guys!

Do you ever just love a book so much you rip through the entire series in no time at all?

That’s exactly what happened with me and the Matt Cruise trilogy by Kenneth Oppel. Because I read all three books (Airborn, Skybreaker, and Starclimber) so quickly I thought I’d just review them all as a group.

So as not to give anything away I’ll only share the summary for Airborn, which is book one.

Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the Aurora, a huge airship that sails hundreds of feet above the ocean, Airborn by Kenneth Oppelferrying wealthy passengers from city to city. It is the life Matt’s always wanted; convinced he’s lighter than air, he imagines himself as buoyant as the hydrium gas that powers his ship. One night he meets a dying balloonist who speaks of beautiful creatures drifting through the skies. It is only after Matt meets the balloonist’s granddaughter that he realizes that the man’s ravings may, in fact, have been true, and that the creatures are completely real and utterly mysterious.

In a swashbuckling adventure reminiscent of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson, Kenneth Oppel, author of the best-selling Silverwing trilogy, creates an imagined world in which the air is populated by transcontinental voyagers, pirates, and beings never before dreamed of by the humans who sail the skies.

I was immediately in love with these books from the very beginning. Oppel’s writing has a smart mix of suspense and wit to just keep you turning the pages and his characters are the kind you just fall in love with.

Let’s take our main character, Matt Cruise for example. Matt is the kind of character you miss once the Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppellseries is finished. Sure, Matt is humble, kind and hard working, but he also struggles with jealousy, can be overly sensitive, and is pretty darn stubborn at times. He is an all around regular, nice guy who you’d love to be friends with. Matt Cruise simply, put is a normal guy who ends up getting involved with abnormal situations. Most of these abnormal situations tend to come because of his friendship/romance with the adventurous, heiress Kate de Vries. Despite Kate’s stubborn single-mindedness and annoying tendency towards being haughty, you can’t help but love her.

Oppel’s world building skills are unbelievable. In this series he has created this alternate world that is very much like our own, however it’s just different enough to be interesting and make you questions things. For example, the Pacific Ocean is called the Pacificus and there are references to historical events that are similar to those in our history (the ill-fated airship Titanticus). The world Matt Cruise lives in is pretty much steampunk and the main form of international transportation is by transoceanic dirigible. TStarclimber by Kenneth Oppelhere is so much detail that you just completely believe that this world truly does exist somewhere out there.  Additionally, these three books are 100% page turners. Almost every chapter is full of action and suspense whether it be pirate attack or an airship falling out of the sky!

So, if you’re in the mood for some quality YA action and adventure, you need to read Airborn, Skybreaker, and Starclimber right away! I honestly think that YA just doesn’t get any better than this!

Author: Kenneth Oppel

Publisher: Airborn, Harper Collins (May 25, 2005)

Skybreaker, Harper Collins (November 29, 2005)

Starclimber, Harper Collins (February 24, 2009)

Format: Audiobook

Length: Airborn (10 hrs and 46 mins), Skybreaker (11 hrs and 26 mins), Starclimber (11 hrs and 44 mins)

Narrator(s): Full Cast Audio, David Kelly

Series: The Matt Cruise Trilogy

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book: Airborn Skybreaker Starclimber

 

 

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Waiting on Wednesday: Wish You Were Italian

Well we’re a few weeks into our extra six weeks of winter thanks to that little cutie Punxsutawney Phil, but I’m already starting to think about spring and summer.  The book I’d like to share with you for Waiting on Wednesday, Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae, sounds like it’s going to be a fun summerish read.

Pippa is in Italy for the summer and, despite her parents’ wishes, she has no intention of just studying the Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Raelocal art! She has a list of things of her own to do: from swimming in the Mediterranean Sea to getting a makeover – and falling for an Italian boy! As Pippa explores the dramatic ruins of Rome and Pompeii, she is swept into her own drama with two guys: an irresistible local she knows is nothing but trouble and a cute American archaeology student . . . Will she find her true love?

Okay so I admit, this one has potential to be a really cute or a really silly read. I hope it’s a really cute one because I love books about traveling in Europe and when Wish You Were Italian is released in May this year, I’ll probably be in the mood for a light summer romance.  :)

So, what books are you waiting for this week?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books Featuring Travel

Hi there!

It’s Tuesday! And tomorrow is my last day at my school with my awesome students….but I promised myself I wouldn’t cry today (I’m moving to South Carolina in July), so let’s just get on with the list!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday  (hosted by The Broke and Bookish) is focused on books that feature travel. Although I haven’t done a ton of it, I love traveling and exploring new places. I hope to do much, much more traveling in the future! But for now, due to a lack of traveling funds, I bring you books that feature travel. Some of these books feature travel for pleasure and some for necessity, but it’s all travel!

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. SmithThe Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith (YA)

Love at first sight on a plane on the way to London.

Paper Towns by John GreenPaper Towns by John Green (YA)

Road trip with friends to find another friend.

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina MarchettaFinnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta (YA)

Traveling through distant lands to assemble the team who will take back the kingdom of Lumatere.

90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis (MG)

Operation Pedro Pan children traveling from Cuba to the U.S.

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman PhilbrickThe Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick (MG)

A boy searching for his brother travels across a Civil War torn United States.

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue ParkA Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park (MG)

The true story of Salva’s travels one of the Lost Boys of Sudan.

TempestTempest by Julie Cross (YA)

Time travel!

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (YA)

A girl’s scavenger hunt across Europe.

Woods Runner by Gary PaulsenWoods Runner by Gary Paulsen (MG)

A boy searches across states for his kidnapped parents during the American Revolution.

Misadventures of Maude March by Audrey CouloumbisThe Misadventures of Maude March by Audrey Couloumbis (MG)

Two orphaned sisters set out into the Wild West and soon find themselves as outlaws.

So, as mentioned earlier some of these books feature a fun, lighthearted travel while others are travel for more serious reasons, but all of the above books are great reads! Have you read any of these? Are there some travel books that I absolutely must read?

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A Healthy Fear of Mayonnaise: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Well, hello there!

Are you in the mood for a quick contemporary YA romance?  Well, I have just the book for you! You should look into The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (TSPoLaFS from now on) by Jennifer E. Smith.

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. She’s stuck at JFK, late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s in seat 18C. Hadley’s in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. SmithAlthough, I also enjoy other genres, I always welcome a good contemporary romance – especially one that’s Young Adult. Now, obviously there are other themes at play, like family relationships, but yes the romance is at the helm of this story. Duh!

First let me start by saying, that although there is “instalove” in this story, it’s not the “I’m gonna die without you” kind.  I guess the better term would be “instacrush”.  The other aspects of their lives take precedence over this potential chemistry, and the chemistry isn’t actually realized until the real life issues are dealt with in a healthy way.  Plus, even if it is instalove, I don’t really care.  I know its fiction, so it makes for a wonderful story and a fabulous escape from reality for a little while.

Also, the love interest is British.  Need I say more?!?! :D

I must say that I’m pretty sure Jennifer E. Smith wrote me into the main character of Hadley.  Hadley is American —me too. Not too impressive you say?  Well, how about this:   Hadley is afraid of mayonnaise — me too!  Wait. What? Afraid of mayonnaise?! Yes.  I love that Smith threw this in here as one of Hadley’s main fears.  I hate mayonnaise, but it’s not a strong dislike type of hate, it’s an “OMG! Get it away from me!” fear driven hate.  After years of people looking strangely at me when I explain this phobia, I thought I was the only one.  But I’m vindicated and I’m not alone! (Hadley also is afraid of the dentist and spiders…hello! Me too!)  Hadley also mentions at one point that someone told her she has “no filter”.  I may or may not have been told that many times in my life….

Speaking of Hadley, she’s a pretty lifelike character.  She has been deeply hurt by her father leaving her and her mother behind.  This is pain that Hadley never really dealt with in a healthy way.  So far, all she’s done is ignore the strong emotional reaction she has to missing her family and the life they lived before her father left. I think the ultimate decision that Hadley makes will lead her on a more open and less bitter path in life.

Hadley’s father.  Hmmm… Well, I both completely disagree with him and sympathize with him.  I will say that although I think Hadley’s father ultimately made the right choice in ending his marriage before things got horrible,  unlike another character (no spoilers here!),  I don’t agree with his explanation that love excuses his behavior and actions.  What he did to Hadley and her mother is inexcusable, but I think the most important thing is that he still loves his daughter and wants to have a relationship with her, despite the painful past.

The second I saw this cover and read the summary I knew it would be a book I’d really enjoy and TSPoLaFS did not disappoint!  It was a very quick and enthralling read; I finished it in a little over one day.  Lovers of romance, middle grades and up, will find this a  fun and very enjoyable read!

Check out the book trailer here.

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Publisher: Poppy (January 2, 2012)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 256 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

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Just Finished: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

In my opinion, a good contemporary romance is always welcome. Tonight I finished reading Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. After reading the summary online back in January, I knew the statistical probability of me loving this book would be high, and it was! As you can see, my reading/cuddle buddy, Oliver (aptly named, because there is an Oliver in the book!) provided company while reading. I’ll be posted a review in the next few days!

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Currently Reading

Oh so many books! Its like I just keep adding and adding to my To Read stack building it higher and higher every day.  I really think that I should get a few hours in my work day allotted specifically reading.  Seriously, then the kids would actually see my reading not just hear me telling them about the books I read.  But alas, I have to get creative with my personal time so that I don’t neglect my relationships with real people, despite the fact that sometimes book relationships are just easier.

In fact, no one ever said it better than librarian lover Ryan Gosling:

Okay, so in between having a normal healthy life (and not obsessing with my books…I mean I’d never do that!)  I have a few items on my currently reading list:

The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera HiranandaniThe Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani (ebook, ARC)  Very good so far, even though I’m only four chapters in.  Part of the 2012 Debut Authors Challenge.

Sapphique by Catherine FisherSapphique by Catherine Fisher  (audiobook) I’m just as entranced as I was with the first book, Incarceron.

Halflings by Heather BurchHalflings by Heather Burch (ebook ARC)  Liking this supernatural fiction read more and more. Also, part of the 2012 Debut Authors Challenge.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (library bound hardcover) I have been waiting to read this one for a while and so far it’s not disappointing!