The Girl you Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

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I love Jojo Moyes’ books, having read a couple of them in the past. I decided to read this because I like a good dual storyline and how the concept reminded me of what I’ve seen in Victoria Hislop’s books.

 

PLOT
France, 1916: Artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his young wife, Sophie, to fight at the front. When their small town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Edouard’s portrait of Sophie draws the eye of the new Kommandant. As the officer’s dangerous obsession deepens, Sophie will risk everything—her family, her reputation, and her life—to see her husband again.

Almost a century later, Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv Halston by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. A chance encounter reveals the painting’s true worth, and a battle begins for who its legitimate owner is—putting Liv’s belief in what is right to the ultimate test.

THOUGHTS

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Firstly, one factor that made me enjoy the book quite a bit was the focus on WWI. Most modern fictional war books are WWII-centered or related. Because WWI happened so long ago I suppose it can be hard to create a plot line that can be tied properly together. This was not something Jojo Moyes let stop her. The dual storyline tells the story of two strong, righteous women who stand up for what they believe in.

The book starts out by telling the story of Sophie during WWI. I got into this story relatively quickly and became more invested the more I learned about her. The transition from Sophie’s storyline to Liv’s present day was a bit rough. It was an instant decrease in intensity which I found a bit jarring. Eventually, after all the introductions were made, the plot thickened and the story became captivating again. By the end I was so invested in both these women’s story I couldn’t put it down.

The characters are deep, well-developed and you grow to care about them all. Jojo Moyes is good at writing to induce emotions and she’s done it again in The Girl You Left Behind.

If you like Moyes’ other books, Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay or The Thread by Victoria Hislop, you’ll like this one. OR (PERHAPS SPOILER) if you like satisfying endings, this is a good one.

 

 

 

 

 

How do they know?

With the rise of artificial intelligence and the complexity of machines, companies’ ability to customize ads and content to you as an individual can be a scary thing. 

Goodreads and Amazon are two of many who use algorithms and machines to map what you would like to read next. I buy my text books on Amazon and my front page is always full of business books about accounting and strategic marketing. They know which books I need before I know myself. This is our present and it will only get more tailored, more advanced in the future. The amount of information they have about our individual habits is beyond our imagination, and the more data they gather, the more accurate predictions and offers will be.

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How fascinating is that? As scary and creepy as it may seem, the capabilities of technology are unfathomably powerful and impressive. As someone who works in digital marketing, and in the IT industry at that, it is clear this is an area where the line of morality is becoming blurred and I, therefore, cannot wait to see where this will take us.

Data is the future and as an individual I can see how quickly data about me is collected, added, filtered and applied to push, or pull me, however you may see it, towards things I’m interested in. Paid media adverts push me towards a tipping point, they persuade me even if it doesn’t feel like it. I see audible ads everywhere, I see the tops I’ve been adding to my wishlist on my social media timelines, I get recommended books based on articles I’ve read at work.

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Overall, it does help me find books more easily, I am directed to services I didn’t know existed, services I didn’t know I needed and that has saved me a lot of time. I love research, I love information and having relevant, timely information sent to me is not something I’m complaining about. I’m fascinated and intimidated at the same time, as we should all be.

 

July in Books

 

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List of Books Read:

  • If I Stay
  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
  • Pre-Suasion
  • Cinder
  • Blink
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • Full Funnel Marketing
  • Adulthood is a Myth
  • Just one Night
  • The Universe Doesn’t Give a Flying Fuck About You
  • The Upside of Unrequited
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Shoutout to Malcolm Gladwell

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Malcolm Gladwell is an author, speaker, and journalist, with several insightful books up his sleeve. He was born in Fareham, UK (not far from my uni), but grew up in Canada and went to Trinity College in Toronto.

Since 1996 he’s been a writer for The New Yorker and he’s written a total of five books, all of which ended up on the NY Times bestseller list. His books often depict unexpected implications and are all based on academic research, most often rooted in the social sciences, such as psychology, sociology and anthropology. As a marketer, his books are especially enjoyable, as it allows me to understand people in a different ways and enables me to become a better communicator and listener.

I decided to start reading his books after I fell in love with the Freakonomics series by Levitt and Dubner as I love the anecdoty-style of writing I find in these types of books. Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, has been dubbed one of the best book of the decade, with good reason. Blink, his second book discussed how rapid, instant decisions make sense and not. Both the books were international bestsellers and over 4.5 million copies have been sold combined.

If you like to feel insightful and read books that make you go “Huh, that’s interesting, I never would have thought” you should check out his books. They’re easy, quick reads, and though it’s non-fiction it never feels complex or draining. I love the smart thinking genre, it challenges the way I think and Gladwell’s books have an excellent way of making me see patterns that I would never see on my own.

BOOKS BY GLADWELL:

  • The Tipping Point (2000)
  • Blink (2005)
  • Outliers (2008)
  • What the Dog Saw: and Other Adventures (2009)
  • David and Goliath (2013) 

“It is those who are successful, in other words, who are most likely to be given the kinds of special opportunities that lead to further success. It’s the rich who get the biggest tax breaks. It’s the best students who get the best teaching and most attention. And it’s the biggest nine- and ten-year-olds who get the most coaching and practice. Success is the result of what sociologists like to call “accumulative advantage.”

For more information, visit his website

Have you read any of his books? What did you think?

Pretty Poetry #4

One day when we realize that our bones are made of the same dust as the planet’s, that our lungs are breathing the same air as the migrating birds, and that our blood is pumping because of the love and care of thousands. That’s when we’ll realize that we aren’t as broken as we think we are. We’re full of the world.

– fukhar

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“The Upside Of Unrequited” By Becky Albertalli

Following Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and a recommendation from a friend, I decided to give this one a go as well.

PLOT

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

WE HAVE ALL FELT LIKE MOLLY

Bilderesultat for the upside of unrequited fanartThe relatability level of this story baffles me. Albertalli has captured what it feels like when people around you are moving on and changing while you are not, which I’m sure many can relate to. The main character’s journey and her thoughts on relationships, friendships and other people in general were straight-up a relief to read. I loved it. It was so relatable. The characters were all well developed with their own strong personalities and stories. Specifically, the grandmother with all her bluntness and untimely homophobic, racist comments just added to the realistic feel of the book (and please do not let that discourage you, the old woman tries very hard).

In this day and age, I am always seeking diversity in the books I read, and Albertalli does not disappoint. She covers different sexualities, has multiple POC’s and deals with body image issues wonderfully. Also, the twin girls and their little brother were all conceived using a sperm donor, which is something I’ve never read about and it was fascinating to get a feel for the dynamic of the family.

Again, similarly to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, this book is great. It’s classic YA, full of well-written characters, it’s hard to put down and the diversity of the book makes it all the more enjoyable. I recommend!

“I don’t entirely understand how anyone gets a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend. It just seems like the most impossible odds. You have to have a crush on the exact right person at the exact right moment. And they have to like you back. A perfect alignment of feelings and circumstances. It’s almost unfathomable that it happens as often as it does.” – Molly

“Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” By Becky Albertalli

Hi all!

It’s been a while, I’ve been busy with exams and then a big move, followed by the start of a new job. Now that I’m a bit more settled in, with more time to read, I will also be posting more. Hopefully. Because June was Pride Month, I have been looking for an LGBT+ friendly book with gay main characters and I landed on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. It had quite a few good reviews on Goodreads and everyone seems to be reading Albertalli’s other book, The Upside of Unrequited these days(which I have now also started). There is a possibility this will just turn into a rant about the difficulty I have in finding good, well-written and relevant LGBT fiction, but I will try to keep this post about the book itself (I might go off a tangent in a separate post at a later point though).

PLOT

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Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

‘CLASS’ YA

This book is good. I really liked it.

First of all, the Simon character is a good guy. Fundamentally, he is likable, he has good friends and he’s coming to grips with his sexual identity without losing himself in the process. His friendships with Abby, Leah, and Nick were immensely fascinating to read. I sympathised with Leah as she was sort of pushed aside, and at the same time completely understood that Simon simply found another person he could connect with, which there’s nothing wrong with. (I’m happy to say that Leah will be the main character of Albertalli’s next book. Whoop whoop! Can’t wait to read more about her. You’ll feel the same way once you’ve read this one I promise.)

tumblr_nxfg1sijc21u8fbs9o1_500The primary love interest is Blue and his identity remains a mystery until the end. The buildup to his reveal had me on the edge of my seat and I struggled to put the book down. I simply had to get to the end! And it was worth it. YA books are great because they are easy to read and they hold an emotional significance and relatability that is easily felt. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is one of those books and will be left standing as one of my favourite YA books. Simon and Blue’s relationship is built gradually, intently and anonymously. The purity of their relationship and depths of their conversations were aspects I greatly enjoyed. I also recognised myself in Simon in that manner as I have built trust in the same way in the past.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is one of the better LGBT+ books I have read, it’s realistic, relatable and well-written. Overall, it’s extremely enjoyable, it is YA-y, fluffy, diverse and full of friendship. If you like books like I’ll Give you the Sun and Lola and the Boy Next Door, this is the book for you! 

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Shoutout to Victoria Hislop

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Victoria Hislop is a beautiful 58-year-old English author. Born in Bromley, she would go on to attend St. Hilda’s College in Oxford. Like many other authors, she worked in publishing and journalism before becoming a full-time author. Though she lived in London for a long time, she has now settled in Sissinghurst.

Her books are normally set around Greece with a focus on historical events. She has no Greek roots or any idea where her love for the country comes from, but it is clearly the love reflected in all her books. In an interview, she stated it is a place where she feels a deep belonging, it was love at first sight: “The sky here has a unique translucence, the sea is especially blue, the stars are brighter and the landscape is dramatic, particularly in Crete where I have my house.”

The first Hislop book I read was The Island, and it blew. my. mind. I was quite young, at a stage where I mainly just read fantasy books. Anything else was mind-numbingly boring in comparison to stories about magic. My aunt borrowed it to me because she loved it. Barely even a page in, and I was hooked. The storyline was captivating and intense, characters complex and realistic, writing intoxicating and enjoyable. My aunt’s book had a wonderful perfume smell, (don’t get me wrong, book smell is still the best smell in the world) and it really created a whole experience around that book. Every time, I smell the perfume I am reminded of it, and how much I enjoyed reading it. When I later bought my own copy, it was with a sadness I read it without the reminiscing smell.

BOOKS BY HISLOP:

  • The Island
  • The Return
  • The Thread
  • The Sunrise
  • Cartes Postales from Greece

“Being passive doesn’t mean being subservient. Her power lay in how well she chose to respond. There was no subservience involved.”

For more information, visit her website

 

Pretty Poetry #3

Keepsakes

If you lend me your heart
I vow not to break it
I’ll keep it safe within mine
so no one can take it

and if ever you are lost
with nowhere to roam
reach for my hand
and I’ll guide you home

– Shelby Leigh

This is by Shelby Leigh, featured in her collection “It Starts Like This.” I think it is such a lovely read, making me feel comforted and at ease. I found this through her Tumblr and I’ve had it among my likes for a long time, but I felt it needed more sharing.

Rereads and Personal Growth

This is not a review as much as a quick discussion post. I recently read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell for the second time. The first time I fell in love with the story and strongly recognised myself in the character Cath. I feel I’ve changed quite a bit over the past few years, therefore, I wanted to see if it was as awesome as I remembered.

You know when you love something only because you used to love it so much? That’s what High School Musical is to me. I re-watched HSM2 a while back and I hate to say it, but it was torture. It’s iconic now, I have to love it, but the films themselves are bloody awful. I suppose I wanted to see if it was the same case with Fangirl.

Fangirl was great, but not as magnificent and fantastic as it was the first time, though nothing really is. It’s interesting to see how my perception changes however. I read it the first time before going to uni, and now I’m almost done with second year. My first year at uni was drastically different from Cath’s first year of college, being more like Wren’s (though not as extreme thank god). This has allowed me to see Cath and my past self from a different perspective and I find I have developed in a different way from what I expected back then. I’m shy and quiet in the same way Cath is, and I too lose myself in literature easily, especially when I’m in new situations or want to hide away. Though I never had a twin, I will also form strong attachments to a few friends, often letting them take the charge. I’m still all those things, but to a healthier degree, as I have grown a lot from moving to a new country and forming new relationships with no-one to lean on. That is definitely a good thing and I’m very happy to be where I am at the moment.

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HAVE YOU REREAD BOOKS FOR THE SAME REASON? HOW DID YOU FEEL AFTER?