Once Upon a Prince (Book Review)

16164030“It’s amazing what we can see when we take the time to look.” (Hauck 87)

Once Upon a Prince is a new romance novel by Rachel Hauck; it puts most other love stories to shame by bearing a wonderful, gripping, and realistic (well, mostly) tale of love without any raunchyness found in many others. To begin, this love story starts with the ending of a relationship. It starts with Susanna Truitt being told by her boyfriend of twelve years–yes, you read right–that he had found someone else and they both were more in love with the idea of them, than the actual relationship. Unlike most other cliche stories where the story starts with a meeting of two people, this one has truth to it: the fact that relationships do end, quite often too. Susanna copes, looking to prayer to help her through this difficult time. Then she meets Nathaniel. No, they don’t fall for each other instantly. Nope. They become good friends, little does Susanna know he is a prince–of a kingdom in Europe–on his last vacation before becoming king. Well, she eventually finds out. Nathanial teaches through his words and actions what a true loving relationship should be about and emanates chivalry by saying heartfelt things like, “A girl in love has a right to believe her man would lay down his life for her.” (Hauck 97)

The story continues, and feelings eventually develop (as they should in a love story), the full truth of Nathaniel comes out, and he brings up an obstacle that would prevent a marriage between them: a marriage act set in place to prevent the prince/king from marrying a foreigner, not to mention the cruel, lying media is pushing the king to marry a specific lady of royal blood. But, I won’t spoil the ending.

But, seriously, this novel is an enjoyable breeze to read through. I read it in a couple days. Do not judge this book by the slightly questionable cover (is she even wearing clothes?) because it’s far better. It proves that love stories do not have to be invested with raunchiness to be good. For ages, I’d say 12 and up, but probably more enjoyable for 15 and up. Really though, pretty much anyone (mostly girls though) would enjoy this charming novel. I know summer’s almost over, but if in need for a summer chick-lit, I suggest this one.

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Like Water for Chocolate–I Think I’ll Stick to Chocolate

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The quite popular Mexican novel, Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel, can be viewed as bitter-sweet–much like it’s title. The author wonderfully illustrates the traditions, food, and customs of Mexico, mainly through the main conflict that the main character, Tita, is forbidden marry her lover (Pedro) because it’s tradition for the youngest daughter to stay and care for their mother. This tradition wouldn’t be a big deal to break except for their mother, who strongly enforces it (hmm, I wonder why?). Tita battles through her suffering in the kitchen where she conjures up delicacies which convey her bi-polar emotions. This part right here is sweet.
The bitter part, the part I’m not too found of, comes along when Tita’s older sister, Rosaura, marries Pedro. Keep in mind, Pedro apparently still holds true love for Tita. It doesn’t bother me too much except, if he still loved Tita THAT much than why marry her sister?? The answer: he says he wanted to be close to Tita. Well, okay, that’s fine: marry her sister and remain friends with Tita; but, no, Pedro doesn’t treat Rosaura very well at all, instead he just takes every opportunity he can to ogle and caress Tita while he is married. Yeah, yeah, it happens all the time in real life. People cheat all the time. But guess what ends up happening (which I think is completely unrealistic)? Tita’s mother AND Rosaura both end up dying–quite a lot of people die in this book, actually (some from food poisoning). Isn’t that a coincidence: the two forces keeping Tita away from Pedro die. There is though another obstacle, another man is in her life and he is kind and is, in my mind, a much better catch than Pedro (the one who cheated in his marriage). Needless to say, Tita chooses Pedro and they get married.
Granted, the story contains more elements to this, this is just the basic premise. I think it’s worth reading, but just don’t be too disappointed if it’s not the greatest book ever. Some people may enjoy it, but for me unrealistic novels such as this are just not my type.

The Night Circus: L’Endroit de Rêveurs

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“The circus arrives without warning” is how Erin Morgenstern begins her enchanting tale of magicians, a contortionist, a timeless clock-maker, a man without a shadow, and a very lovely circus, in a book that feels as if magic itself crafted the mysterious words beneath every page. Senses come alive with smells of caramel apples and bonfires which permeate the reader’s endeavors: black and white and red repeated colors illustrate what a circus should be. Not too dark, not too light: with deep passion and excitement. Torn between emotions from smiling to sorrow, I remained charmed by the wondrous imagery that painted out scenes of midnight banquets–where I could taste the exotic food–and ballroom encounters, as well as fierce foreshadowing like feathers of a raven, pulling you into a winding labyrinth of beauty. The characters take you along with them into their circus life; people die sudden deaths and children are born. Never before have I read such a modern and fresh fairytale like this one, filled with such warm description that I wanted to be in every scene of the story; I wanted this dream of an adventure to be physically in front of me when, at the same time, I knew what it was to experience it. Any one who chooses to pick up this beautifully covered fable will be held captive by soft darkness so divine it emanates bright sparks of riveting pleasure so masterfully written, with suspense and compelling marvel, it’s my conclusion that only a brilliant magician and kindred dreamer could have created such a bitter-sweet dream brought to life.

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”–Prospero, The Tempest

Breaking Book Stereotypes

We all know in the world outside of books–What? A world outside of reading? I know, might be hard to grasp, but it’s true–we have social stereotypes. Jocks, Band Geeks, Nerds, Cheerleaders, Ect. But, a realization whacked me the other day. (Realizations should be nicer, but they always just spring upon you when you’re not looking) Book stereo types exist and they should be broken, or at least tried to be broken. What are these “book stereotypes” you may ask? It has to do with people who ONLY read ONE KIND of book and NOTHING ELSE. Some of these include: Romance novel fanatics, Science Fiction junkies, The Classics snobs, Non-fictions stiffs, and Anime addicts. To clarify any confusion, I’ll go through them in order. (Be warned these are explained to the extreme. Some descriptors may not always apply)

romance 1. Romance Novel Fanatics:
These people are the ones who often hesitate to share what they are reading for fear of appearing unintelligent, because, let’s face it, Romance books are all they read; not to mention they may be embarrassed by the cheesy cover. You see, most of the time these people really aren’t all that into the whole “reading thing”. They just like dramatic soap-operas or heart-felt chick love stories. This way, wrapped up in a portable book, they don’t have to wait for their show to air; they can transport their portable package of happy sap along with them where ever they go, look smart, and reach happily ever after without even having to know anything past basic 4th grade English skills.
Geek 2. Science Fiction Junkies
I’m pretty sure we all know someone like this. The people who are constantly getting into debates about the logical physics of worlds set in the future and often gather in large legions to have LAN parties or watch Star Trek (the original, obviously). If you find someone who knows how to speak Klingon, likes to watch Firefly, knows who J.J. Abrams is, fights over which doctor is better, and has read any or all book by Orson Scott Card and/or Douglas Adams they are most likely a Science Fiction Junkie.
book snob 3. The Classic Snobs and Non-Fiction Stiffs
I figured both of these fit into the same type of category. One main point they have in common is that both feel they are better than the average person because they’ve read more Classics than you, look down upon you for not having read Count of Monte Cristo or because their understanding of the real world excels that of a fiction reader who spends his/her time mesmerized by silly fantasies. Heaven forbid you tell one you dislike Shakespeare. Or only read fiction.
anime Anime Addicts
Then there’s the anime addicts who are forced by the power of the anime and or manga "books" (yes, they still are books despite the abundance of pictures) to stay up till three AM reading them. They usually and enthusiastically discuss the books speaking with words so foreign, it seems almost like a different language. Unless of course they are actually speaking a different language like Korean, Japanese, or Chinese, which many do. Often times their discussions deal with figuring out whether a seemingly gender neutral character is a guy or girl or ravishing in the drawn out love triangles.

But, what’s the essential point here? It’s: why be a stereotype? Why read only one type of book or media? It only limits people’s perspectives on things. I also believe where book stereotypes begin, real life stereotypes follow. Maybe more readers should stray from their comfortable section of the library, grab a new book and break their book-stereotype. Besides, Who wants to only be one color in a world of black and white? Who wants to only read one book?

A Thousand Emotions of A Thousand Splendid Suns

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A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, the same author of The Kite Runner, evokes a multitude of feelings through his story set in the rough, late 90s in Afghanistan. The book follows a couple female characters in their struggle to deal with the overbearing control of not only the Taliban, but the brutal control of their husband/husbands who often treats them worse than anyone could ever treat an animal. Raw truth and emotion permeates throughout the story; some parts a little too raw for sensitive hearts, which is why I think this book should not be read by anyone younger than 14 and even so the reader should take caution if they wish to refrain from harsh scenes. But, that’s really what makes this book great, because the cruel, real-life experiences illustrate what actually happens in the world we live in and gives us an awareness of these horrible misfortunes we may not be knowledgeable of. The characters truly make the best of their circumstances and rise above them. This brings me to some of the emotions I felt reading this, to name a few: anger, sorrow, hatred, comfort, admiration, guilt, happiness, fear, hope. To name a few. The flowing crafted language of the book, never cuts or chops from emotion to emotion, but weaves together shocking elements of a female’s perspective on life in the this region and time period, while holding true to the beautiful heart and culture as well. There isn’t much I can tell you, since it may give away parts of the book. I feel to really get the full experience (of not only the book, but of anything) you must go in without knowing a lot about it, without a strong preconceived notion. So, I’m leaving you with that. Whether or not you choose to read this book, I hope you don’t regret it.

Why Gatsby is Great (sorry to have been gone so long)

So, last year I read The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald and I absolutely loved it and I loved the character Gatsby. Now, the first day of discussion I came into class to find the hugely opposing opinions of my classmates, who many of thought Gatsby was too naive in his love for Daisy. Those who haven’t read this book, Gatsby finds this girl he loved and still loves after years of not seeing her. Unfortunately, she has been married to a jerk. But, being a good christian girl refuses to divorce him. Anyways, when I realized there were some people who did not find Gatsby as adorably–and hopelessly– romantic as I did, my brain just imploded. I didn’t and still don’t understand. Is it naive to hold on to your dreams even when they seem impossible to reach? He’s in love for goodness sakes! He can’t just stop loving Daisy. You want to know how this book would have ended had Gatsby been “The Realistic Gatsby”? He would have found Daisy and said, “Well, she’s out of my league, and it wouldn’t have worked out anyway.”(Liz Jarvie) THE END. In my opinion, that doesn’t make for much of a story. So I will go on admiring Gatsby as the character I can relate to (being a slight bit of a hopeless romantic) and love for his unwillingness to give up on his dreams.