BOOK REVIEW // SEASONS OF THE MOON BU JULIAN ARANDA

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SYNOPSIS

At the close of World War II, a chance encounter sets the course for one man’s destiny…

During the Nazi occupation, fifteen-year-old Paul Vertune, the sensitive son of wheat farmers, prefers gazing at the ocean and contemplating life’s mysteries over toiling in the fields of the Brittany coast. One fateful day, Paul’s life is spared by a compassionate German soldier with eyes as blue as the sea. When Paul’s village is liberated, an angry mob turns against their occupiers. The German soldier, near death, asks Paul to promise him one thing: find his daughter and tell her that her father loved her.

As Paul becomes a man, he fulfills his childhood dream of sailing the world, even as twists of fate steer his life in unexpected directions. But through it all, Paul never forgets his promise.

Beautifully moving and deeply profound, Seasons of the Moon evokes a sense of wonder at the mystery of human connection and the powerful ripple effects of kindness.

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REVIEW

Seasons of the Moon was one of those books that had me captivated by the first few chapters with its rich setting and intricate detail of emotions. I find most novels that have been translated from another language are often, well, lost in translation. But with Seasons of the Moon, I found myself flying through the pages and getting lost in the story.

That is how I grew up, amid a whirlpool of emotions nipped in the bud, suppressed, without realizing that one day all the corpses at the bottom of the river would float to the surface.

One thing this novel addressed throughout the entire story was the inequality of how men and women were treated. Women were not meant to have opinions or take part in anything serious. Men were not meant to be sensitive and kind, nothing more than soldiers made to kill.

Women didn’t have much of a choice in those days. They were born, grew up helping their mothers, got married, had children, took care of the household tasks, then died, worn out by domestic chores. No emancipation or liberty; men determined everything. Only a few, more resilient women managed to succeed I’m this battle between the sexes.

I think Aranda did a wonderful job of discussing these topics, which are still relevant in our day. Men and women should be allowed to do and feel the same things.

Typically, when it comes to this time frame, I haven’t read about many male characters that are kind and sensitive (which is understandable with everything going on), so Paul was a breath of fresh air. He was a dreamer, always looking up to the moon, so full of hope despite the darkness of the world. And he actually acknowledged the inequality several times throughout the novel.

War is nothing but the bloody projection of a pained soul lashing out. Because when everything is going wrong, it’s easier to hate than to love, easier to pick up a weapon than to open one’s arms.

Paul didn’t want to fight. He didn’t want to kill. Ever since he was little, he has this overwhelming urge to explore the world. To take to the sea, embracing the hold of the earth. And no matter what this man experiences, he always finds a way to smile again. To keep his promises.

“Of course. Some people avoid other people’s gaze for the fear of being unmasked. Looking someone in the eye means exposing oneself, revealing one’s fragilities. Some men hate doing that, my darling, because they don’t want to show their sensitivity, their feminine side. It’s frowned upon in the adult world.”

All right, now about the romance, I actually didn’t hate it. I know, shocking. Despite Paul falling in love with a girl from his village the instant he saw her, I actually found their relationship very truthful and endearing. Through everything they experienced on their own and together, it only brought them closer together. I also admired Paul’s fearlessness to fall in love, how he wasn’t afraid to be in touch with his feminine side.

Our days pass like shooting stars in the sky. We pause to watch them for a moment, fascinated by the strangeness of their origins. When they start to fade, when the show is no longer entertaining enough, we return to our everyday business, already bored with their enchanting trails.

I could go on and on about how beautiful and heartbreaking this novel was, how many beautiful sentences I collected from this one story, but then I’d basically end up writing a novel.

If you’re interested in a lyrical historical fiction, I highly recommend picking up Seasons of the Moon. Do be warned, however, that this novel takes place during World War II and therefore discusses the events around then, which can be traumatic.

Thankfully, this book didn’t focus on the events of the war too much, but still, understandably, it may be tough to read for certain people. But if you have no issues with this, then be sure to pick up Seasons of the Moon!

Thank you to AmazonCrossing and Netgalley for giving me access to an early copy of Seasons of the Moon in exchange for an honest review. Seasons of the Moon is expected to be released September 26, 2017. Pre-order your copy with one of links below!

RATING: ★★

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LET’S CHAT

What are some of your favorite historical fiction novels of this year? Have any of you already read Seasons of the Moon? What are your thoughts on it? Be sure to let me know!

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WRITING PLAYLIST // DISARM YOU WITH A SMILE

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DISARM YOU WITH A SMILE

As some of you may know, in my current WIP, there is romance. This has been a new subject for me to write about, being that my first manuscripts focused instead on family and friendships with very little romance. But in WIP, there are quite a few relationships blooming, particularly with my main character.

To those who have been following me for some time now, you’ll know I often struggle with romance in literature. I find it often feels forced or rushed, unrealistic in its approach. I always appreciate a genuine romance, and that’s something I’ve been trying very hard to write within my own work.

I’ll admit, being someone who has about zero experience with relationships, this has proved to be quite difficult. After some time, I think I’ve found my footing with these characters and their relationship, although it will need some work in edits.

Now I wouldn’t have been able to get this far in my novel and develop these feelings so thoroughly without the assistance of music. Music has always been one of my core muses when it comes to writing, and in this novel especially, it has helped take my mind to new places and ideas.

So I’m here today to share some of my favorite lovey-dovey songs that have helped me construct this unbreakable bond between these two broken little lovers of my book.

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PLAYLIST

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LET’S CHAT

When it comes to romance in literature, what are some things you want to see more of or less of? I would love to hear feedback from both readers and writers alike as to what you think would help improve relationships within books to make them more realistic.

And while we’re on the topic, what are some of your favorite love songs? Which melodies give you those lovely little thoughts, those romantic scenes for your stories? I would love to hear your recommendations!

Before you go, be sure to follow me on Spotify to delve further into my wild writer’s mind.

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WRAP-UP // AUGUST 2017

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THE MONTH OF AUGUST

I REACHED 90K IN MY WIP

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Since last month, I’m thrilled to say I’ve added over 20k words to my work in progress. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I expect this novel to be a little over 100k (which will most likely decrease after edits), and now I’m only about 10k away from that mark.

It’s been a bittersweet experience, and I’ll write more about how it feels to complete another novel once I finally type The End on this sweet little beauty I’ve been working on.

I WENT TO THE MUSEUM OF ICE CREAM

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For all of you bloggers out there, I’m sure you have heard of this famous museum that has been popping up over the states, decorated with three-dimensional artwork that looks sweet enough to eat. (Thankfully, various treats are handed out throughout the museum to quench your hunger.)

It was such a dream exploring this museum with my sister—my best friend. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always had the biggest sweet tooth of the family, always craving ice cream or chocolate or cookies or cake or all of them combined. So as I was observing the ice cream sculptures and laying in a pool of (fake, but very real-looking) sprinkles, I realized dreams really can come true.

I READ FIVE BOOKS

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Five books are pretty good, considering I’ve been writing from the early morning into the dead of night (with breaks of time for photography or blogging) for most of the month.

Yes, I would have liked to have read more, but after having a great conversation with my girl Lissa at Rabid Reads, I realized I’m tired of focusing on my to be read pile so much. Of course I’d like to not have over 90 books on my shelves (both physical and digital) that have yet to be read, but I miss picking up ARCs from Netgalley and borrowing books from my digital local library.

So I’ve decided to not worry about my TBR (as much) and simply turn my attention to reading again. I don’t like limiting myself when it comes to my passions, therefore I’m going back to putting multiple holds at the library and requesting / downloading books from Netgalley, and I’m so glad to be back doing it.

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THE BOOKS OF AUGUST

THE CHAOS OF LONGING BY K.Y. ROBINSON

REVIEW:

The Chaos of Longing is a gorgeous collection of poetry discussing crucial topics, such as sexual assault, racism, sexism, along with the various segments of relationships: the love, the lust and the loss.

it’s time to give the love you denied yourself but frantically searched for in others. it’s time to realize that love was never trapped underneath their lips and fingertips. you held it hostage the entire time.

I love the way Robinson played with words, how she was unafraid to be raw and meaningful in her poetry and didn’t waver in baring herself whole.

For my full review on this gorgeous work of poetry, click here.

I received a copy of The Chaos of Longing on Netgalley from Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The revised and expanded edition is expected to be released September 26, 2017.

RATING: ★★

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VALIANT BY SARAH MCGUIRE

REVIEW:

Valiant has been on my TBR for over two years, so I was thrilled to finally pick it up this month. This YA novel (despite being marketed as MG) is a gender-bent retelling of The Brave Little Tailor, an old tale of the Grimm Brothers about a tailor who tricks a giant into believing he’s just as mighty as them. This news catches onto the rest of the kingdom, where the tailor becomes feared and then made an offer to kill two giants in exchange for the princesses hand in marriage. That sort of thing.

In Valiant, McGuire references to several original aspects of the Brave Little Tailor while still making it significantly her own with a strong female lead named Saville.

Stories weren’t always true. Sometimes home was left being the horizon and lost there. Sometimes fathers died without speaking their love, without even wanting to. Sometimes heroes died.

Valiant had the perfect blend of adventure and romance with enough raw character development to make it all feel real. We know I often struggle with romance in novels, as I feel it’s too quick or forced, but in Valiant, I really liked the relationship between Saville and her love interest (who I was swooning for, especially since I was picturing Max Irons for some reason). Along with that, I loved the fantastical elements and the way giants were given more depth than most stories tend to depict them as.

RATING: ★★

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HEY SUNSHINE BY TIA GIACALONE

REVIEW:

Hey Sunshine is a niche little indie book that a few of my friends adore. Going into it, I was expecting to feel the same way, but I was tragically disappointed.

This novel delivered an interesting story and took no time in diving right in. We are swiftly carried through Avery’s early life, where she falls in love only to be left heartbroken, then becomes pregnant and gives birth to her daughter Annabelle.

Now before I get into my dislikes, I do have to mention that I believe Avery was a great main character. I felt she had realistic thoughts and ideals, and I loved her relationship with her daughter. But her love interest, Fox, on the other hand, was the most ridiculous love interest I have ever read.

“You bought a new truck,” I said, shaking my head. “You’re nuts. You bought a new truck just in case you had to drive me and Annabelle around?”

“No,” Fox said, opening the passenger door. “I bought a new truck because I plan on driving you both frequently. Get in.”

What? What?

Keep in mind, Avery and Fox aren’t dating, but he bought her truck to drive her and her daughter around. On top of this, Fox has perfect hair, a ridiculous body, loves to classic books and rides a motorcycle. Oh, and he has dimples, which Avery must mention at least a hundred times. I’m not even joking.

Hey Sunshine was an entertaining read, but unfortunately I found it much too predictable and cheesy. Giacalone is a great writer, but she took all of the elements of every woman’s dream guy and made Fox, and that just didn’t wasn’t realistic for me at all.

RATING: ★★

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 THE CHANGELING’S JOURNEY BY CHRISTINE SPOORS

REVIEW:

I’ve been dear friends with Christine for about three years now. We have been following each other along through our writing endeavors, so to finally hold her work in my hands was such an incredible feeling.

The Changeling’s Journey is a fun adventure story that is heavily based on Scottish folklore and mythology, which adds a significant contrast compared to other YA fantasy novels. Not to mention, Spoors also includes a multitude of gay characters, which is very refreshing.

For my full review of this Scotland inspired fantasy, click here.

RATING: ★★

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FLOWERS: A GUIDE TO FAMILIAR AMERICAN WILDFLOWERS BY HERBERT S. ZIM

REVIEW:

All right, so this is a very random book and you’re all probably wondering why in the world I even own a guide to American wildflowers.

Well, allow me to tell you.

I found this book while on a trip in Joshua Tree, CA. It was only about three dollars (if not less) and I wanted a book to bring home from Ravens Bookshop (because I love ravens and I shop at a bookstore everywhere I go).

I always like to bring home a unique book from trips, something I know will make me think specifically of that place. Besides, I’ve always found the meaning of flowers fairly interesting.

Unfortunately, this book didn’t provide the sort of information I was necessarily looking for, and that’s fine. I was actually wasn’t planning on reading this book but then I realized I was falling behind on my reading goal and thought, oh my stars, I need something quick to read right now and there sat this little book on my desk.

And that is why this book is here in my wrap-up. If you like flowers and / or pretty, vintage illustrations, pick up this cute little thing.

RATING: ★★

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LET’S CHAT

Happy September, my lovelies! I can’t believe we are already into the ninth month of the year and autumn is approaching up here in the northern hemisphere (which I am super excited about). I plan to finish writing my novel this month, along with being more active with reading and blogging. Let’s hope I can complete these goals!

Now tell me, how many books did you read in the month of August? Any new favorites? You know ya girl here is always open for new recommendations despite already having loads of books to read. *wink*

Cheers to a new month of literary adventures!

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