Sunday, April 24, 2016

Let's get depressed... in FRANCE!

I adore books where people travel, but so many of them involve whiny girls who don't want to spend their time abroad. This is not what I want in a travel book! I also don't want Serious Issues, unless they resolve themselves in a more lighthearted manner. Still haven't completely forgiven Lisa Schroeder for killing off the grandmother in My Secret Guide to Paris, although I did purchase that one and my students enjoy it. And yes, even Maureen Johnson's fantastic 13 Little Blue Envelopes has a sad premise. These two, though... don't know. Want to see what others think about them. 

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Stone, Phoebe. Paris for Two
April 26th 2016 by Arthur A. Levine Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Petunia and her family move to Paris so her father can write a book about Flaubert. She's not thrilled, but glad because she embarrassed herself back in Boston with her crush, the piano playing Windel. Unfortunately, Windel's family is ALSO in Boston, as is Alex's family. Alex has a crush on Petunia's sister Ava. Ava is only Pet's half sister, and her father is not in the picture. Their mother, however, dotes on Ava to a completely creepy way, and lets her do things like "accidentally" spill milk on Pet's new, handmade, watered silk dress. Pet likes to make her own clothes, but everyone thinks they are weird. After finding an exquisite doll dress in an armoire, Pet meets the apartment building concierge, Collette, and finds out a fascinating family story involving dress making, the German invasion of Paris during WWII, and some of Collette's family secrets. Collette helps Pet enter a dressmaking competition, and she is one of the finalists until the judges receive an identical entry... from Ava! How can the sisters get over betrayal on both sides?
Strength: Lots of good details about Paris, and the dressmaking part is rather fun. Collette is a fantastic character. 
Weaknesses: I've had one student in 15 years who sews. Yes, I love Taylor's Sew Zoe series, but even that is a hard sell. Petunia wasn't a likable character, Ava was reprehensible, and their mother's favoring of Ava over Petunia was beyond creepy and wrong. Really made me uncomfortable, how she would hug Ava and stroke her hair and then just be mean to Petunia for no reason, even though she ostensibly hated Ava's father but loved Petunia's. Weird. 
What I really think: If I had more girls ask for travel books, I would buy this, but most of the time I'm the one suggesting them, so may pass. The cover is great, but at odds with the tone of the book. 

16068916Friedman, Aimee. Two Summers
April 26th 2016 by Point
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Summer is supposed to spend the summer in the French countryside with her estranged father, but at the last minute, he calls and cancels. That's when our story splits-- in one version, she gets on the plane, and in the other, she stays at home. In both versions of her life, things go pretty well-- in France, she meets a hot waiter, back home, she takes her aunt's photography class and finally talks to a boy she's been crushing on. She is at odds with her best friend in both versions, and finds out secrets about her family's past. 

I should have liked this one. I love the idea of a split reality, love the idea of travel, enjoy this author... and just felt "meh" about this book. Maybe too Young Adult? YA books tend to be a little on the whiny, slow paced side. Or maybe Summer was just having too much romantic luck in both realities, and the high schooler inside me was jealous. 

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