Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Love and Other Carnivorous Plants by Florence Gonsalves

Love & Other Carnivorous Plants
Release Date: May 15th, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult | Fiction
Pages: 352 Pages
Format: ARC
Source: From Publisher
Reason: For an honest review

Buy the Book

Freshman year at Harvard was the most anticlimactic year of Danny's life. She's failing pre-med and drifting apart from her best friend. One by one, Danny is losing all the underpinnings of her identity. When she finds herself attracted to an older, edgy girl who she met in rehab for an eating disorder, she finally feels like she might be finding a new sense of self. But when tragedy strikes, her self-destructive tendencies come back to haunt her as she struggles to discover who that self really is.

It's hard to take a book like this and say how much you enjoyed it considering the subject matter, but it's true, I really liked this book!

I really enjoyed Danny's character. Her dark and sarcastic humour added comedic relief to the overall tone of the novel. The book itself dives into the struggles of eating disorders, addiction, and depression with the real-life realities of living life through it all. Florence Gonsalves did a wonderful job at penning these delicate subjects and delivering them with a raw voice. It can be tough approaching Mental health in novels. It's placing a very real struggle into a fictional world and the author did a spectacular job. I feel that if anyone who has been in Danny's shoes would have felt the author was very authentic. There was no sugar-coating. It was no holds barred.  It was raw and untethered. 

There are multiple storylines going on in the novel. We have Danny and Sara, Danny and Bugg, Danny and her parents and Danny and herself.  Each storyline packs a lot of punch. Each one is riddled with highs and lows. It's messy but in an intentional way.

Love and Other Carnivorous Plants went beyond my expectations. I wasn't expecting this book to turn out the way that it did. It's sad yet hilarious at times. Even though it's a fictional story, it's a very truthful representation of disorders and mental health.  Definitely a one-of-a-kind read!

"When I no longer hear her receding footsteps, I touch the place where her lips were, half expecting to find a scar."

Monday, May 14, 2018


I am beyond thrilled to have author, Daniela Tully, on the blog today! Daniela is the author of the newly released, Hotel on Shadow Lake. Daniela stopped by the blog today to talk about something that stirs inside all of us. We long for it. Crave it. Devour books about it. I'm talking about Wanderlust. The desire to travel and explore. To see the world and experience different cultures.  Read on below for Daniela Tully's honest and beautiful view on Wanderlust.

The crippling grip of Wanderlust: Curse or blessing?

Wanderlust is generally defined as a “strong longing for or impulse toward wandering.” In fact, it’s an English loanword of German origin, my origin, which literally translated into English means ‘the desire to hike’: Lust auf Wandern. Wandern, however, doesn’t actually translate into ‘wander’, but into ‘hiking’. And hiking alone doesn’t do the trick. The places wanderlust-stricken people long to see are not just a simple hike away. So we loaned our word to you, and in German replaced it with a term of different connotation: “Fernweh”, weh meaning ache, ‘fern’ translating into ‘far’. So in contrast to what the English loaned from us, our “new” term speaks of pain at feeling wanderlust, not just a “simple” desire. So why is it that the German language acknowledges the pain one can feel for the things that are away, and the English language, on the other hand, only talks about pain that one feels for things left behind? You can be homesick in English, but you cannot be “farsick”. The longing for what is far is a lust. One not associated with pain.

And yet, my experience sometimes has been, and still is, a very different one.

When I started writing my debut novel, which has two female protagonists, one in the past, one in the present, I at first depicted one of them as a wanderlust-crippled woman who couldn’t settle, but was then called back home, to solve a mystery.

But I just couldn’t bring myself to like that character. What was likable about her? Traveling still is a luxury many people cannot afford. Why feel empathy with someone who feels the need to travel all the time? Especially when contrasted with my other heroine, Martha, who undergoes a “real” plight in the Third Reich, one that is associated with suffering, while a wanderlust-crippled person is not really suffering, is she?

When my mother married my father, she was only able and willing to move to a new home that was within walking distance of her parents’ house. I, on the other hand, was bit by the travel bug on a school exchange to Argentina, at the age of 16, taking my first flight ever. And after that I’ve never stopped travelling and lived all over the world.

And this also begs the questions: where does wanderlust start, and where does it end? To some people with wanderlust, traveling to a far away country for three weeks per year won’t do the trick. It needs to be more. It needs to be a dive into the culture, rather than gaining a brief glance as a tourist. Experience it with a vehemence that a vacation can never offer you. Just like it is for me.

I come from a mid-sized town in Germany, a place not small enough to not allow for any kind of otherness, but too small to accept it without further ado. I was the odd one out. When would I grow roots, when others had never uprooted themselves before? I approached an age at which being a female global nomad was no longer cool, it was just bizarre. I was the wrong gender to play the role convincingly: of the ageless, lonely wolf, roaming the world, who -- just like wine -- was getting better with age. I felt faced with Victorian attitudes. Of course, nothing was made obvious, we are in the twenty-first century after all. But I was told in no uncertain terms that nobody would settle with someone that “restless”.

When I googled the wanderlust definition on Google, the Oxford Dictionary gives an exemplary sentence containing wanderlust right after providing me with the definition: “a man consumed by wanderlust.” I am not saying it is only attributed to men; wanderlust is not conditional to gender. But the stigma of it is.

I now live in Dubai, again, for the second time. Most of my female friends are either single and came for the job, or have come here to accompany their husbands. They have followed his path, not their own, to make the partnership work. When we came here the first time, my husband (who I met on a job in Los Angeles) came with me, because of the job I was offered. Only once have I met another couple, whose husband accompanied the woman for her job, and not vice versa. There aren’t many men who follow their women abroad.

I don’t know yet where the road is taking us, my husband, my daughter and I. We don’t know yet where we will live in two years. Even here, in a country filled with expats, friends ask me: “When will you go back?” There is no ‘back’, only onwards, and not necessarily always upwards. Most of the time, I am a very happy global nomad, but I also know that there is a price to pay. Recently, when I see a movie or read a book about someone’s loss and how the person is supported by family and friends in a closely-knit community, I start to worry about myself, about us. I’ve always been on the road (on the run?); do I have a strong enough community? Will I end up alone one day, without a strong local community, without friends who simply moved “back”, a daughter who carries a certain degree of wanderlust maybe already firmly implanted in her? A daughter who is raised as a third culture kid, a child who spends its formative years growing up in a culture other than their parents’? And what about my own cultural identity? I do not want to move back to Germany. That would mean moving back. I don’t want this. Yet, my family members, and especially mother, a real “home buddy”, will need me one day, as they grow older. But that is a whole other topic.

I don’t ever regret having succumbed to wanderlust. Over the years, however, I’ve grown to appreciate those that have only been stricken with the milder, more confortable form of wanderlust. Not with what we Germans call Fernweh, farsickness, a sickness that is so hard to heal, and yet so little understood. Including by myself, as otherwise I would have ventured out and dared to make Maya, my heroine of the present, a ‘farsick’ person, and not someone my total opposite, and my worst nightmare: a person crippled with aviophobia, the fear of flying.

The day I am creating a likeable version of the character I had originally envisioned for the present plot strand of my novel will hopefully mean I, myself, have come to terms: with wanderlust, with myself.

Hotel on Shadow Lake

Hotel on Shadow Lake
When Maya was a girl in Germany, her grandmother was everything to her: teller of magical fairy tales, surrogate mother, best friend. Then, shortly after Maya’s sixteenth birthday, her grandmother disappeared without a trace, leaving Maya with only questions to fill the void. 
Twenty-seven years later, her grandmother’s body is found in a place she had no connection to: the Montgomery Resort in upstate New York. How did she get there? Why had she come? Desperate for answers, Maya leaves her life in Germany behind and travels to America, where she is drawn to the powerful family that owns the hotel and seemingly the rest of the town.
Soon Maya is unraveling secrets that go back decades, from 1910s New York to 1930s Germany and beyond. But when she begins to find herself spinning her own lies in order to uncover the circumstances surrounding her grandmother’s death, she must decide whether her life and a chance at true love are worth risking for the truth.

About Daniela Tully
Since early childhood I have dreamt of exploring the world outside of my birthplace, the mid-sized city of Bielefeld in Germany. Too young to yet fulfil my wanderlust, I escaped into the world of storytelling, and - as soon as I was able to read - was always seen with a novel plastered in front of my face. In fact, for many years, I wanted to become a librarian. Instead, I chose a different path and dove into the world of audio-visual storytelling: first, with film making. I began my career working with famed director Uli Edel while completing my film studies, which allowed me to work on sets all over the world. Once I met my husband, on one of those films, I settled down in Munich for a while, and first became head of script development at a film production company in Munich, and then a network executive of original programming at one of Germany’s major private networks. After this I moved to the United Arab Emirates, where I had been hired to help develop the country’s film industry. Through our company’s partnerships with Hollywood, I was involved in projects such as the critically-acclaimed Fair Game, box-office hits Contagion and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, as well as the Oscar-winning The Help. However, as nice as it is to be able to include these titles on my resume, I sometimes felt, especially with other films I produced, that the art of story telling in film making can be compromised by the number of cooks in the kitchen. And so I sat down one day and started writing my own story, the first of many to come.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

I Have Lost My Way
Release Date: March 27th, 2018
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 368 Pages
Series: Stand alone
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Reason: Personal interest
Find the Author:
Buy the Book: Website

Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose. When a fateful accident draws these three strangers together, their secrets start to unravel as they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in help­ing the others out of theirs.

Gayle Forman is a writing genius. Read this book now.
Okay, okay, I give you a little more on why you should read this book. But really, the above statement should be all you need.

Gayle Forman has been an auto-buy author of mine since I read If I Stay when it was first released. Her writing paired with diverse characters hooked me, and she has continued to keep it that way since. I snatched up I Have Lost my Way the moment it was released and I couldn't wait to dive into it. 

I usually love to savour books. I'm not one that usually finishes a book in one day because I actually like to give myself time to enjoy the reading experience. However, that was impossible for this book. I couldn't put it down even if my life depended on it! I devoured it, happily, without guilt, in one sitting. I got completely immersed in the lives of Freya, Harun and Nathaniel. Forman's ability to craft such in-depth characters is really a magical thing. She can take you from wherever you are in the world, wherever you a reading, and place you right into the lives of the characters and their world. Her story telling is masterful. Giving your heart a tug on one page, while making you chuckle through your tears on another. She is a fine artist in this literary world.

I Have Lost My Way is the story of 3 teenagers that are lost. Their lives are at a stand still and their options barely visible. A series of events brings these 3 characters into each other's lives. The span of their time together is only 1 day; but Forman has taught us that a lot can happen in one day. 

I adored every single second of this novel. It just proved to me even further why I love Gayle Forman. Another win for the books...see what I did there....

 “They may be complete strangers, with different lives and different problems, but there in that examination room they are measuring sadness the same way. They are measuring it in loss.” 

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