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review 2017-06-24 03:04
[REVIEW] The Letters of a Portuguese Nun by Mariana Alcoforado
The Portuguese Letters: Love Letters of a Nun to a French Officer - Gabriel Joseph De Lavergne Guilleragues,Mariana Alcoforado
“[…] you gave me evidence of a great passion for me. I was overjoyed at it, and I gave myself up to love you to distraction. You were not blinded as I was. Why then did you let me fall into the state in which I now am?”

The text was very hard to read at the beginning. The "f"s that were really "s"s confused me 98% of the time.

However, I immediately felt for Marianna and her plight. I was not annoyed or exasperated by her mad attachment to her unworthy lover. I believe she was a victim of love and considering that she had been living in a convent at a young age, it is sadly unsurprisingly she was taken advantage of.

She was not properly prepared by anyone on what to do when it came to falling in love and the artifices of men. Her love is genuine, honest and even manipulative once her lover disappeared from Portugal. I was moved by her lament and the sincerity of her words. To throw your life away for someone who is unworthy of you is terrible and to see Marianna come to terms with that in her own letters was heartbreaking.

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review 2017-06-24 00:21
[REVIEW] Letters to Juliet by Lise Friedman & Ceil Friedman
Letters to Juliet - Lise Friedman, Ceil Friedman

First of all, this book is nothing like the movie.

I knew that going in but maybe a lot of people won't so I am trying to save many a soul from the disappointing experience I went through when I read Under the Tuscan Sun.

This book started out very promising. I was quickly enveloped in the brief explanation of how the Romeo & Juliet myth came to life. It was directly related to a class I was taking at the moment in Verona so I was doubly interested. However, from the middle to the end, it became boring. Like another reviewer said, it read more like a textbook. It also bugged me that none of the secretaries (all women) were named in the book.

Overall, a great read for those who are big fans of the play and want to know more about the city of Verona through the eyes of the Romeo & Juliet myth.

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review 2017-06-21 00:00
53 Letters For My Lover
53 Letters For My Lover - Leylah Attar DNF at 65%. I love Leylah Attar but I can not get through this book for some reason. I'm obviously in the minority here as most people loved it, but I just can't seem to connect with them and it's not holding my interest.
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review 2017-06-09 11:52
Review: Letters to the Lost
Letters to the Lost - Brigid Kemmerer

I received a copy from Netgalley.


This was a gutwrencher of a book. I could only read it in short spurts because the emotional upheaval was so deep.


The novel tells the story of Juliet and Declan, both of whom are dealing with tough losses, both as results of tragic car accidents. Declan lost his younger sister, Juliet lost her mother.


 Declan appears to be your typical YA bad boy. Darkly good looking, grumpy yet possibly a lot smarter than everyone thinks he is. He’s sullied by a bad reputation. Whereas Juliet is a typical high school good girl. She has a run in with Declan in the halls one morning and accidentally spills her coffee on him running to class. However, when a teacher comes in a finds him moaning about it and yelling at her, he’s the one who’s carted off to detention.


Juliet has been spending a lot of time at the cemetery where her mother is buried and leaves her letters. Declan has community service with the grounds keeper at the same cemetery and one day he finds the unsigned letter Juliet has left her mother. And responds to it. Leading to a letter writing exchange without names. Where both parties explore their grief and guilt over their own losses and start to talk to each other in a way they can’t open up to anyone else.


The grief poured into the letters is raw and unflinching, mixing of guilt, anger and responsibility. Juliet and Declan are able to explore feelings they have never admitted to anyone else before, it’s much easier to talk to someone anonymous than admit these feelings their closest friends. The letters eventually become emails.


Yet in real life whenever Juliet and Declan have run-ins with each other, it’s unpleasant. They rub each other the wrong way. Yet keep finding themselves running into each other. He helps her out several times. And sometimes some of the things anonymous Declan says in his letters resonate deeply with Juliet, particularly when he talks about how unfair it is that with a bad reputation that wasn’t his fault he’s blamed automatically even when things aren’t his fault. This makes her start to try to open up.


Both have tough home situations, Juliet’s dad is trying but kind of absent and checked out. Juliet’s mom was a renowned photographer who was often out of the country in dangerous places. War zones and such. There’s a very hard hitting scene at the front of the book where Juliet’s dad asks her if he can sell her mom’s camera equipment to her mother’s agent, and Juliet falls to pieces. It’s tough to read and absolutely heart breaking.


While Declan’s mother is equally passive. His father is in jail after the accident that killed Declan’s sister, and his mom has since  gone through a patch of bad relationships and finally married a snotty man who has taken an instant disliking to Declan (bad reputation at fault again) and automatically assumes the worst. They argue a lot and Declan’s mom just won’t step in to defend her son.


Though Declan doesn’t help himself with an equally pissy attitude. Though it’s clear he loves his mom he’s obviously frustrated by her at the same time. His support system comes from his best friend Rev and his family. Who are all awesome.


Juliet and Declan keep finding themselves thrown together and start realising who the person they’re writing to might be. Which shocks both of them. But their feelings for each other are growing deeper and deeper despite their equal reluctance to admit the truth and open up to each other for real. Both find themselves dealing with some home truths in their own home lives which shock them to their cores.


It’s kind of obvious what’s going to happen in the romance department, but even you the way the story is written makes the reader want to get these two together. (Or it certainly did for me).


Beautifully written with some incredible characters. I loved it so much I bought a finished copy as well.


Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (UK & ANZ) for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2017-06-01 21:03
Review: Letters to a Young Writer
Letters to a Young Writer: Some Practical and Philosophical Advice - Colum McCann

I could use more Colum McCann in my life. I'd shell out some money just to have a little Colum figure in my office that dispenses wisdom from time to time. Better yet, I'll make a nice comfy spot in the corner and perhaps the author can stop by once or twice a day and share a tidbit or two. What say you, Mr. McCann? I'll get you a nice desk and you can have half the room and I'll make the coffee the way you like. And if you like my half of the room better, I'll even trade you. I'm amiable and quiet and won't bother you at all. Just every once in a while, share a bit of advice. It's a good trade if you ask me.

I read one McCann novel eight years ago, Let the Great World Spin, and while I enjoyed it, I now realize I've ignored this author far too long. Letters to a Young Writer is the most inspirational book about writing I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Nearly every book I've read on the craft of writing has given me an inspirational moment or two, taught me quite a bit, or merely given me the impetus to prove the author wrong, but none has moved me as this one has. McCann doesn't talk down to his reader. He doesn't repeat warnings about how the young writer is never going to make it anyway and might as well accept their fate. Sure, it's a fact that making a life out of writing is very difficult and statistically improbable, but if writers wanted a sure thing, they probably wouldn't be writers. McCann refrains from these warnings that fill other authors' writing manifestos; he doesn't say, “you're not going to get there,” rather, he says, “it's a tough road, but when you get there, here's what it's going to be like.” That 'when' may not always be a reality, but for the first time ever, I feel like someone high in the publishing world believes in me. And that's just what I needed.

We all have our student styles. I see it in my own children who've fallen in love with soccer (they didn't inherit their love of sports from me). One kid crumples under a coach who's hard on his team. Another rises to the challenge of a coach like that. One thrives with encouragement and a guiding hand on the shoulder. Another grows lazy with the same guidance. Perhaps some writers need the hard-ass coach (Sol Stein: Stein on Writing - “You suck and you're never going to amount to anything”) and some need the realist coach (Elizabeth Gilbert: Big Magic - “You're beautiful and you have potential, but it's too hard, so stop dreaming”). Personally, I thrive under McCann's style. That's not to say I didn't learn much from my other coaches. I enjoyed my experience with the authors mentioned here, as well as many others. None of those other authors got me out of my rut, however. None of them changed my outlook. None of them encouraged me to go to my office, rearrange the furniture, and get down to business (I made a spot in the corner for you, Colum, just in case you decide to stop by).

And it wasn't just the coaching style that I loved about Letters to a Young Writer, it was McCann's stories and phrases. This isn't only an inspirational how-to for the writer, it's a gorgeously written volume. These little snippets of advice read almost like poetry. And so, I'm convinced, if I can't have the author in my office, I'll just have to find an audio version of this book and play a segment or two every day. Likely, I'll get sucked in from time to time, listen to the whole thing when I should be writing, but then McCann will gently remind me that time is ticking and that I cannot die until I finish the books that are within me. Thank you, Mr. McCann, for helping me rediscover my purpose.

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