Paris Holds the Key to Your Heart

And all of Paris plays a part!

Yes, I know that I said I would be talking about art in my next post, but as it turns out I didn’t get around to that post and it’s better to do that in a few weeks anyways and GUYS I SPENT A WEEKEND IN PARIS AND THAT IS EXCITING.

The trip was through the school, which was fantastic, because1781864_10205559836419871_877643297077200481_n I do love my trips being subsidized. We traveled via Eurostar train to the Paris Gard du Nord station at way too early in the morning and popped out to beautiful Paris … where it was raining.

Performance art at the Louvre.

Performance art at the Louvre.

Undaunted, we commenced upon a big long walk that started at our hostel near the train station and wandered past the Notre Dame until it ended up at the Louvre. The Eiffel Tower was almost hidden in the fog, but that’s okay because we’ll see it much better later. I wasn’t really paying attention much on this walk, because it was raining and I’m like a drowning cat when that happens, but I was still pleasantly surprised by it all. I walked into Paris with absolutely no expectations.

We went back to the hostel and chilled for a while after that, because we had big plans for10609464_10205559854700328_1063314421491552861_n the night. On Fridays, the Louvre is open for free to people under 26 after about six at night until it closes and we were most certainly going to hit that up. Seeing the Mona Lisa was important of course, but honestly not that impressive. However…

The blur is me and that is the shade I was getting.

The blur is me and that is the shade I was getting.

Over the blog posts, I’ve mentioned that I am a fanatic about ancient Egyptian history. The Louvre has HUGE AND MULTIPLE SECTIONS of these kinds of artifacts. I ran through these flailing about like a moron, dragging my group past reliefs and statues and fawning over every single one. THEY HAD SOME OF THE MOST FAMOUS REMAINING ARTIFACTS OF AKHENATEN AND RAMESES II FOR GOD SAKE. Ahem. Anyways. I just about cried and I’m not ashamed in the slightest.

Despite being really tired, that night there was a full moon party in the bar beneath our hostel and a bunch of us attended that. Not going to say much about that (hi Mom!) but it was probably the most fun night out I’ve ever had.

10423833_10205559909181690_1545233039349298776_n…the aftermath not so much. I ended up sleeping in really late that morning, so I got a really late start. However, turns out you really can’t go wrong just wandering around Paris. We went back to the Notre Dame to take pictures while it wasn’t raining and then walked along the Seine for a while. It was a gorgeous if chilly day, but all that mattered to me was that I could get out my technology and record it all.

That night, we made our way to the Eiffel Tower and queued to go up to the tippy top. It1560494_10205559935022336_1878353214304840639_n was dark by the time we got up there, but totally worth it. I fall in love real hard for night time at high altitudes with the lights all down below, and so just one corner of the view from the Eiffel Tower was really worth it. If a bit cold.

10470606_10203353653384888_6349130638338917526_nWhen we came back down we wandered around a bit more to see the Tower do it’s hourly light show and see the Arc du Triumph. God, Paris is gorgeous at night. Then, back to the hostel for food and bed! No regrets ever where sleeping is concerned.

We didn’t really have a lot of time the next day, but Sam, Madison and I did explore a nearby market. We met the George Clooney of Salt (don’t ask), bought some super pretty earrings and then made our way back to the train station for the ride back to London.

Given that so many people had told me I would hate Paris, I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t do as much as I could have, but I don’t regret that either. I feel like I did all the Paris-as-city things I really wanted to, and I don’t feel the need to go back. I can say I’ve done it and move on, and I’m happy with that. All in all, the weekend was absolutely fantastic. Anastasia didn’t lead me wrong.

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Review: Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter

4 stars

“The Luxe” meets the ancient world in the extraordinary story of Cleopatra’s daughter.
Selene has grown up in a palace on the Nile with her parents, Cleopatra & Mark Antony–the most brilliant, powerful rulers on earth. But the jealous Roman Emperor Octavianus wants Egypt for himself, & when war finally comes, Selene faces the loss of all she’s ever loved. Forced to build a new life in Octavianus’s household in Rome, she finds herself torn between two young men and two possible destinies–until she reaches out to claim her own.
This stunning novel brings to life the personalities & passions of one of the greatest dramas in history, & offers a wonderful new heroine in Selene.

As a historical fiction enthusiast, I’m always excited to see historical fiction on the shelves. More and more lately, I’ve been excited to see some of this coming to young adult shelves, especially since it’s some of my favorite stuff. I’m a huge fan of Egyptian history, specifically the Michelle Moran books for example. When I saw Cleopatra’s Moon on the shelves of the Teen section, I was instantly curious. Michelle Moran had already covered the topic of Cleopatra’s daughter Cleopatra Selene very well, but I was interested to see what the young adult take on her would be. The results were actually quite interesting.

The beginning of the book was very similar to Moran’s, to the point that I was almost bored. Honestly, this isn’t Shecter’s fault: historical fiction is historical fiction. My interest began to rise, however, as Shecter began to make the different decisions, like letting both of Selene’s brothers live when they were at Rome. A few other plot twists and differences developed, and I was ecstatic. It really morphed into a different take on who Selene was, while keeping her likeable and relatable.

Perhaps the most amusing difference between Moran and Shecter’s books is dictated by the shelves I found them on, adult and teen respectively. Though Cleopatra’s Moon was on the teen shelf, Shecter’s Selene actually makes more adult-ish decisions than Moran’s. Whether its witnessing her father’s death or planning to seduce a Roman man just like her mother did, this Selene is far more headstrong. Here is how Shecter gets Selene to transcend time and fit in on the teen shelf. She doesn’t hold back. Selene becomes a fighter, a girl determined to retake her homeland at any cost while asserting her pride in her female identity.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore both books. Cleopatra’s Moon is going to go into a slot right next to my Michelle Moran books. This is what I so enjoy about historical fiction, these different views on the life of one person, and how they interacted with the other historical figures of their time. I certainly recommend Cleopatra’s Moon for all lovers of Egyptian historical fiction, teen or adult. Unlike Moran’s books, however, which were much more steeped in fact and historical story, I also recommend this book to readers curious but perhaps not entirely into historical fiction. (Moran’s books can also be read by non-history lovers, but I believe they’re more enjoyable when you have the background.) Whether you like history or not, the Selene of Cleopatra’s Moon is a feisty female heroine that every teen girl can relate to and take courage from.