Friday, July 25, 2014

Literary Friday: The House At the End of Hope Street and Love In the Time of Global Warming

Happy Friday, My Lovelies!  I hope you've had a great week.  We had a great time in New Orleans, but Mr. Art @ Home had to visit a Doc in the Box while we were there, and both girls caught the funk.  So far I've escaped it *fingers crossed*…

During the road trip, I read two books:  The House At the End of Hope Street and Love In the Time of Global Warming.



I received The House At the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag for the Books 'n' Bloggers Swap because it was on my wish list.  I was interested in it because a blurb written by Sarah Addison Allen (one of my favorite authors) is on the cover, and I like magical realism.  I rarely post the Goodreads blurb, but here it is:

Distraught that her academic career has stalled, Alba is walking through her hometown of Cambridge, England, when she finds herself in front of a house she’s never seen before, 11 Hope Street. A beautiful older woman named Peggy greets her and invites her to stay, on the house’s usual conditions: she has ninety-nine nights to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in.

She soon discovers that this is no ordinary house. Past residents have included George Eliot and Beatrix Potter, who, after receiving the assistance they needed, hung around to help newcomers—literally, in talking portraits on the wall. As she escapes into this new world, Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds—and maybe even save her life.

Filled with a colorful and unforgettable cast of literary figures, The House at the End of Hope Street is a charming, whimsical novel of hope and feminine wisdom that is sure to appeal to fans of Jasper Fforde and especially Sarah Addison Allen. 

First of all, the house is the most intriguing character in the book.  It provides its residents with encouraging letters and supplies to enable them to turn their lives around.  There are also photos of the women who've stayed there lining the walls, but unfortunately the house must not have a fantastic track record because a few of the most outspoken former residents include Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, and Vivian Leigh.  Okay.  So these temporary residents are supposed to take advice from these women about how to turn their lives around?  Really?  (The portraits talk like the ones at Hogwarts.)  The women living at the house are underdeveloped, especially the one chosen to be the house's caretaker.

Alba is very young, and she's taken advantage of by a horrible academic advisor who gets completely away with it (complete disappointment).  She has a few special abilities that are given less attention than deserved, and there's even a glossary in the back of the back concerning these gifts that aren't fully integrated into the plot.  I read the glossary before I read the book, so I suppose I had higher expectations for Alba's gifts being a bigger part of the story.

The main problem I have with the story is that these women end-up at Hope Street because they are stupid:  They are not victims.  To make matters worse,  two of them basically continue with the same behavior that got them into trouble in the first place.  Pink's Stupid Girls kept playing in my head during most of this book.  I'd skip this one even though it has a high Goodreads rating.



Love In the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block is part allegory and part fairy tale.  It's about an older teen named Pen who has survived an apocalypse of devastating proportions in Los Angeles not caused by global warming, actually.  The title of the book comes from a chapter title in the book.  I purchased this book because it was recommended to me by a bookseller at one of my favorite Indie bookstores Octavia Books in New Orleans.

SIDEBAR:  Have you noticed how scientist no longer refer to it as global warming but climate change because science doesn't support the global warming arguments according to progressive scientists?  But I digress….

Pen survives a catastrophic Earth Shaker that basically destroys all of Los Angeles, yet her home is spared (the reader discovers later in the book why). With her wits, a little help from Homer, and butterflies, Pen set out on a quest to find her family swept away by a tsunami.  She quickly notices a parallel between her journey and that of Odysseus's, so she uses The Odyssey as a guide as she faces: giants that caused the Earth Shaker, lotus eaters at the Culver Hotel, a Circe-like witch, and very creepy Beverly Hills sirens.  

Allegory aside, this is the tale of four young people with magical abilities trying to not only navigate a post-apocalyptic world, but to develop self-acceptance none had before the Earth Shaker.  This story is a great companion for older teens as they read The Odyssey.  Block has written a sequel, The Island of Excess Love.  In this installment, Pen relies on Virgil’s epic Aeneid as her guide.  This is on my To Be Read List.




How's your summer reading so far?  Link-up and share!



Literary Friday
Until next time…
Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

10 comments:

  1. The House at the end of Hope Street sounds like it will be an interesting read. I'll add it to my list of books to read ... which keeps getting longer and longer. With all this lovely weather I'm outside a lot and don't spend a lot of time reading.

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  2. I really want to read Love in the Time of Global Warming! Adding to my goodreads!

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  3. I love to read! And always have a book or two going for those times I want to relax and rest! Thanks for this party. It's fun seeing what everyone else is reading! Happy Friday! Hugs, Diane

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  4. RJ, hope you continue to stay well. Sorry the family had to deal with illness while you were visiting NO. No fun for anyone!
    Happy Weekend!

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  5. I love joining in and sharing a book I've read each week. I also learn about new books from your and others! Fun!
    hugs,
    Linda

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  6. Love in the Time of Global Warming sounds quite interesting. The House at the End of Hope Street has such a great title, too bad the book didn't live up to it.

    I understand about taking advice from Woolf and Plath, who both committed suicide, but I have to ask why not Vivien Leigh?. She suffered from bipolar disorder and died from turberculosis.

    Happy Reading!
    Michelle

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  7. I'm confused about your claim that science doesn't support climate change, because one Associate Professor got fired and he's claiming foul and censorship. What?

    Scientists call it Global Climate Change because that's the accurate statement of what it is. News media clung to "global warming", but that's inaccurate- warming occurs in some places, cooling occurs in others...because it's an interconnected system, weather and tides. Science 100% supports global climate change, both that it's actively occurring and that it's occurring at a faster rate than originally predicted. The only up-for-debate aspect is the extent of influence mankind has had on it (and the question of whether we can do anything to slow it down). Some argue for Anthropomorphic Climate Change, which essentially states that it's mostly, or all, the fault of industrialization. Others point to geologic records that prove weather shifts have occurred, sometimes on catastrophic levels, over the past millennia.

    I'm glad one of your reads was good, at least!

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  8. ...ok...
    love in the time of Global Warming sounds good to me...
    Going to check that one out... I read one called the age of innocence that deals with the slowing down of the planet.
    It's scary and interesting and I'm sure it will put people in an uproar, lol
    Hope you keep escaping that illness.

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  9. I am back from vacation and happily catching up on my favorite blogs.

    I hate books about stupid women!

    I read two different books by Santa Montefiore while I was on vacation. I loved The French Gardener, but I wasn't thrilled with The Perfect Happiness. A House By the Sea was okay. They were easy reading to take to the beach each day.

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  10. xoxoo I don't think we are suppose to notice that, sweetie.

    I'll miss you, but I understand. I'm a little overwhelmed myself with this year's plans.

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I read and appreciate all of your comments :D