vrijdag 21 december 2012

Review "Latitudes - A Story of Coming Home"

Some information

Title: Latitudes - A Story of Coming Home
Author: Anthony Caplan
Pages: 222
Genre: Bildung
Published: June 2012
Publisher: Hope Mountain Press
My Source: Author (thank you!)
My Score on Goodreads: 3 stars


A coming of age novel about a boy overcoming divorce and cultural dislocation. When Father and Mother, a highflying young American lawyer and his party-hard bride, fall prey to the self-destructive lure of alcohol and sexual liberation, Will and his sisters pay the price in divorce and kidnappings that take them back and forth between the rain forest hideaways of coastal Latin America and the placid suburbs of Long Island. Will identifies with the oppressed workers laboring in his father's fast food restaurant and longs for American freedom. Father remarries the daughter of a local aristocrat, and Will is sent off to the hothouse world of a New England boarding school. Swimming in a sea of Fair Isle sweaters and LL Bean boots, Will discovers a core of resilience in himself that allows him to survive, thrive, and ultimately embrace the flawed and varied worlds he inhabits. Will reconnects with Mother, sinking into a New York City world of Irish bars and one night stands he cannot save her from. With a little help from friends, and a high school Shakespeare class taught by the school's closeted gay athletic trainer, Will begins to see the possibility of finding his true path. Latitudes charts the birth pangs of a quest for self and soul - from a tropical childhood to a coming of age on the road.


Wow... difficult book to review. I liked it, I really did, but I also found it somewhat strange. "Latitudes - A Story of Coming Home" tells us the story of Will Kogan and his road to adulthood. I think we can see this book as a kind of Bildungsroman because we see the long road Will travels from a child with little knowledge of the world to a teenager who wishes he never had to learn the world as good as he did. It's a difficult road with many obstacles and Will has to take them all. He can't ignore them and go around them... he can't and he doesn't want to. 

I liked the story because I could connect with Will. I understood him (not always, but most of the times I did) and had the same feelings as he did. I also appreciated the writing style of author Anthony Caplan. At the start I thought it was incoherent in a way but the more I read of the book, the more I understood this incoherent writing reflected the incoherent life Will knew when he was growing up. In the beginning of the book I didn't always understand the situations, but that's the idea (I believe) because Will also didn't understand most of the situations in his life. He didn't understand why his father hit his mother, why they divorced in an ugly way, why he and his sisters didn't get the love of a normal family,... In the beginning we only seem to get some tatters like they are the only thing Will remembers from being an innocent child.
Later on we get longer memories and more coherent ones... They reflect the growth of Will emotionally.

One thing I had difficulties with, is the fact the beginning of the book doesn't seem to have much connections with the rest of it. There are connections, but to me they didn't matter. Don't know what to think of it... The story also doesn't seem to lead somewhere. Ok, in the end we see a different Will (and that's the point of a Bildungsroman) but still... It's a totally uncompleted story and that's just not my thing ;)

All in all I can say: good book, but maybe not really my genre after all.

zondag 9 december 2012

Review "Our father who art out there... somewhere"

Some information

Title: Our father who art out there... somewhere
Author: AJ (Alison) Taft
Pages: 260 (paperback)
Genre: chick noir
Published: September 2011
Publisher: Caffeine Nights Publishing
My Source: author (thank you!)
My Score on Goodreads: 4 stars


What would you do if your own father refused to meet you?Growing up in Accrington with only an agoraphobic mother and Bert next door for company, Lily Appleyard spent her childhood hoping that one day her absent father would show up and whisk her off to a better life. He never did. Now nineteen and at college in Leeds, she stills harbours a fantasy he'll show up one day. Maybe he's busy saving the whale in the Antarctic, or searching for a cure for cancer in the Brazilian Rainforest.Her best friend Jo has much lower expectations of men. That's because her father waited until she was fourteen before leaving with his teenage, pregnant girlfriend. When Lily's mother dies and Lily finds her father alive and well but with no intention of ever meeting her, she has a decision to make. Should she forget about him? Or does she have a right to know her own father? Doesn't he owe her at least one meeting? Jo's had enough of talking about a revolution. She thinks it's time for action. Fuelled by vodka and a burning need for revenge, Lily realises she's got nothing left to lose.


For me this book proved you can't judge a book by its cover. When I received my copy of "Our father who art out there... somewhere" I didn't know what to think. The title wasn't too attractive for me (it made me think of something religious/philosophical... a "heavy" book...) and neither was the drawing on the cover. When I read the back of the book though, I thought this book could be a good one. And it was... I liked it a lot! 

Alison Taft tells us the story of Lily Appleyard, a nineteen year old girl studying politics. When Lily hears her mother died, she doesn't know what to feel (like I did when I received this book). On the one hand she feels like she's left alone in this world because her mother was the only person left of her family. On the other hand she also feels some kind of relief... Her mother surely wasn't an example of parenting. After her husband left her (19 years ago, before Lily was even born), she gave up on life and started eating all the junkfood she could find. She became a person Lily was ashamed of. A person Lily needed to worry about. A person Lily couldn't trust or rely on. The death of her mother makes Lily wonder again... Is there really no other person in her life she can call family? Why didn't her father try to contact her once? Why did his family act as if she didn't exist. 

When Lily decides to write a letter to the Salvation Army to get in touch with her father, her life changes and will never be like before again. The Salvation Army lets her know her father has NO wish to communicate. Lily's world tumbles... She hoped after the death of her mother, she would be able to find her father and catch up with him without disappointing her mother who hated him. But now it turns out he doesn't want to meet her. It's a slap in Lily's face and she wants to hurt him back. That's why she kidnappes his other daughter, Fiona... The beginning of a big adventure that never gets dull. 

I must say I needed some time to get used to the writing of Alison Taft but this doesn't mean I didn't like it from the beginning on. It was "forward" but when I've got to know the characters better, I realised this "forward" way of writing was just what this story needed. It's a story about things nobody wants to happen in his/her life. A story about pain and about family. About finding and losing people you love... 
What I liked about this book was the fact it keeps on going and going without one boring moment. When I discoverd the kidnap happened rather quick in the book, I didn't think Alison Taft was going to be able to entertain me for much longer. I was wrong. The story goes on and there were lots of twists and turns in this book I didn't expect. This makes it a good and solid book. 

One thing I didn't quite understand, but maybe that's just me. In this book we get to know Stuart. He's Fiona's boyfriend and helps the girls when they try to hide for the father of Lily and Fiona. After a while Stuart admits he's in love with Lily. He tells this to Fiona and though she hates him for the fact he loves her sister, she finally gives the two of them the opportunity to be together. The chapter after that Fiona visits her mother togheter with Stuart. Why does he accompany her when they aren't a couple anymore? Does he try to love Fiona nevertheless?? Hmmm, I don't know :p But it doesn't matter.
What does matter is the fact I thought the story somewhat hasty at the end. Suddenly a lot of feelings change while they needed so much time to become what they were. It's like the book told us the story about the construction of a house and in the three last pages the whole house is suddenly torn down. This bothered me a little bit and that's why I gave the book 4 stars instead of 5.

zondag 2 december 2012

Interview with Savannah Grace - Sihpromatum

First of all I want to thank Savannah Grace for her wonderful book, her time to 
take this interview, the pictures and the great video! 

Who is Savannah Grace?

Savannah Grace was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada. By the age of 21, she'd already traveled to nearly 100 countries and completed her first book. Currently living with her Dutch partner in The Netherlands, Savannah is writing her memoir series titled, "Sihpromatum."

Visit the website too! 

Some things we wanted to know (curious as we are) ;) 

1. How did you get the idea to share this beautiful journey with others and to write a book about it?

Mauritania local host family

The idea of writing this book was put in the air early on in our adventure, as evidenced in journal entries I’d written in Mongolia.  Once our adventure started developing into something bigger than any of us had ever anticipated, we were constantly being told by fellow travellers that we needed to write a book. The giant task of picking up the pen and creating a masterpiece about our travels was almost immediately handed over to me. We felt that telling the story from my perspective as the youngest member of the group and the fact that I was forced to go was the most unique. Also, when comparing our journals I was quickly dubbed the writer in the family.

2. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned on this journey?  

I am an entirely different person as a result of this trip. I learned first hand about the world, people, cultures, history and most importantly myself and my family. I discovered my strengths, pushed myself to achieve goals I considered impossible and learned that dreams are worth following! This is a world full of possibilities. 
I learned to appreciate and be grateful for the things I have, which is something I try not to lose. I realized that I don’t NEED all those things I thought I needed when I was living with millionaires’ kids in Vancouver.
The biggest lesson would probably be realizing that people are nice everywhere in the world. We all have the same basic wants and needs. A world considered to be wrought with hunger, despair, corruption and danger turned out to be one full of love, family values and respect. Ironically, it seems that the less people have the more willing they are to share.  

3. Which country has inspired you the most?

After visiting so many countries, all beautiful and unique in their own ways, it’s so hard to pick out just one.  How can I choose amongst trekking the Himalayan mountain range in Nepal and seeing the sun rise over Mt. Everest, snorkeling with the colorful fish in the Maldives and sun tanning on the soft white sands, canoeing through the tangled jungles of Suriname with parrots flying overhead, riding atop camels through endless mountains of sugary sand dunes across the Sahara desert in Mauritania and experiencing the historical genius of Pyramids in Sudan or the beautiful architecture of any European village, town or city. 
Almost any form of scenery gives me inspiration in my writing. 

My top countries are: Nepal, for its gorgeous mountains trekking and people; Mongolia, especially its countryside with its horses and extremely friendly people; Surinam for its jungles and multicultural atmosphere; Switzerland and its villages and great skiing; Canada’s amazing nature with waterfalls, mountains and lakes; China’s beautiful authenticity and villages; Italy’s amazing history and artwork; Maldives priceless islands, blue waters and white beaches, plus many, many more! 

4. Which ones are still on your bucket list and why?

Japan is definitely high up on my bucket list. It was one of the only countries I actually had an interest in before the trip. I grew up with lots of Japanese ESL students living in our house so I would love to go visit them. They are such incredible people!! Though I have not yet been, I think I love everything about Japan and Japanese culture. Also, my dad lived there when he was younger and speaks the language. 
I have yet to discover South East Asia. I have heard amazing things from family members about the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, etc. with their amazing sights, people and beaches. 
I just love how Asia is so friendly, lively and beautiful. You can be comfortable and wear any kind of clothing, eat fresh, flavourful food, interact with the locals and have an adventure at the same time. 
Still need to go to Australia, New Zealand and a South America trip has been in the air for years now. 
Luckily, I have my whole life ahead of me to tick off the bucket list.

5. Are you writing a sequel and can you share with us what’s the next stage in the journey you’ll describe for your readers?

There will be a few more books in the series to come. It would be impossible for me to wrap up the entire 4 years and 80 countries in one book. The next installment covers our overland journey through Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Western China, Tibet, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and India. The characters will continue to grow and develop, with the group dynamic ever evolving and fluctuating. New characters and their reactions are introduced when our friends from home flew out to join us for a few weeks, each at different times. You will experience parts of the Silk Road, Tibetan monasteries, the strength of Nepali sherpas in the incredible Himalayas, the colors and chaos of India and then contrast this with the relaxing beauty of the Maldives. And of course it’ll all be tied in with the same kind of adventure, humour and excitement that was found in my first book, “Sihpromatum – I Grew My Boobs in China”. 

6. How do you feel about Europe?

I really like Europe. It’s modern but all the old architecture and history gives it a real special atmosphere. From my experience in Holland, it’s a nice place to live. It’s an ideal, central base for travelling and you can experience loads of different cultures, languages, and landscapes within a short distance. I sometimes find the people can be a bit busy and not as excited or happy but that comes from the superficial pressures of a materialistic lifestyle. 

7. What’s your favorite place to write a book?

My favorite place to write is driving in the car next to my boyfriend.  I love this because, first of all I love my boyfriend, but second the passion and inspiration lacks a bit in the stale air of an isolated room staring blankly behind your computer screen. I love being on the road in a car. I love the feeling that I’m going somewhere, that I’m on the move, even if it’s somewhat a fake sensation. Watching the beautiful Dutch scenery go by was where and how I got most of my writing done for the first book. I have a brand new computer and beautiful desk now where I can     write the second but I think a lot of it will still be done on the road. :)

8. Do you need special items around you while you’re writing?

Would coffee be considered special? Nah, I’m kidding, there were times where I’d have some small stones.. I forget the specific names for them, but I had a black one which I wore on a bracelet and another clear one which I’d wear around my neck. My boyfriend always makes fun and thinks I’m ridiculous, but whether or not the stones actually work is not important. What’s important is provoking your belief in something because we have the power to do so much. If you fully trigger that little “faith button” in your brain, unimaginable things become possible. It’s so important to believe, even if you have to put the responsibility on a lucky item. 

9. What’s your writing day like?

Oh goodness, it varies so much. Though I do have a sense of self-discipline, I cannot say I do it one way or the other. It’s all just a matter of feel for me. Sometimes I feel inspired, sometimes I don’t. At times my brain will go wild while I lay in bed at night, words and sentences forming like magic and I am forced to get out to write them down. Nights like those can easily turn into a 4am bedtime. Other times I have to sit at the desk and force myself to write. Luckily I have amazing support and with the first book my Mom was always taking care of me, bringing warm food and refilling my coffee. This time she is not with me, so I’ll be a lot more lonely and it will make things harder. I’m all over the place really, which is why I’m so impressed that I actually completed and published a book. 

10. What would you like to have achieved in ten years?

Ten years, wow! By age 32 I hope to be married and have started a family of my own.…. If everything could go exactly how I plan in the meantime I want to have completed my Sihpromatum series, become a bestselling author and make a living from my writing. This way I will be able to have the freedom to travel and live wherever I want. I’d love to learn a couple of languages (Japanese, Spanish), though that might be adding a bit too much on my plate. A 6 month-1 year South America road trip from Alaska – Antarctica is in the works.
Later on I’d like to buy a big fancy camper van and see the USA and Canada when I’m old and lazy with back problems. Though I think the trans Canada will likely come before then.
There are so many things and yet I don’t dare predict the future, because my life has been so full of twists and turns like a roller-coaster ride I never signed up for. 

I want to thank Savannah again for her GREAT answers on these questions!
Yet again she proves to be a special person with a warm look on the world 
and the people in that world!
I hope she'll become a bestselling author and I'll definitely help by reading her books and promoting them! 

My favorite quote from this article: The biggest lesson would probably be realizing that people are nice everywhere in the world. We all have the same basic wants and needs.

Castle on hill - Slovenia

We also need to thank Savannah's boyfriend for making this really cool video about the book. Enjoy this trailer and don't forget to buy