Best Book Ever: International Setting

Welcome to Best Book Ever here at Short and Sweet Reviews! 

This week, we're talking about our favorite books with international settings -- anything set in a country other than the one you live in.  Below are our choices... don't forget to share yours in the comments!

When I think of an international book, the first that comes to mind is Maureen Johnson’s 13 Little Blue Envelopes. I picked it up in a book store and before I knew it, I was sitting on a step and had read through a good chunk of it. Naturally, I had to buy it. The setup is both clever and moving, which sets the tone for the rest of the novel, which is often hilarious as much as it’s heartbreaking. Ginny’s Aunt Peg has died and sent her thirteen little blue envelopes with instructions that lead her across the globe on a mad tour through Europe. Shaken out of her comfort zone, Ginny makes new friends and becomes closer to her world-traveling, artist aunt through her letters, work, and the people and places she loved. I have a soft spot for Europe in general, and I loved experiencing it differently through Johnson’s writing and her usual witty, sympathetic, and resourceful characters. Though I was skeptical about the sequel, The Last Little Blue Envelope, I think Johnson delivered a follow-up that was every bit as good as the first, and I suggest reading them together as one complete story.

E.C. Myers, debut author of Fair Coin (2012 Prometheus Books)

TELESA by Lani Wendt Young. I just finished reading it yesterday and I am in love! It's a paranormal novel set in Samoa. This beautiful story took me away to the enchanting Samoa and now a piece of it resides in my heart! The author, Lani, comes from Apia, so she writes about something close to her heart. It makes for a magical journey for the reader to undertake. I can't express my feelings in just a paragraph, so if you are interested, here's a link to my review.

Keren @ Gothic Angel Book Reviews

It's hard to choose between 2 of my favorites that took place overseas. I absolutely love how Stephanie Perkins delivers all the romantics spots in France with Anna and the French Kiss. I also loved how Amy Plum entranced us with her setting in Paris in Die for Me. So if I have to choose I would choose both being that they are different genres of books. In Anna and the French Kiss, you are transported on to the cobble streets of France falling in love then you can hop over to Die for Me's Paris streets and get in the action with the Revenants.
Yara @ Once Upon a Twilight

This one is so easy, for me, hands-down, the best international book out there is the River of Time series by Lisa T Bergren. Yes, it's a series - meaning you get more of the awesomeness! Basic premise (because if you have NOT read it, I don't want to spoil the read - but you MUST read it ASAP!): two twenty-first century American teenage girls find a time portal, transporting them back to medieval Italy. Right in the middle of a battle. And that's only the beginning. There's romance, adventure, danger, discovery...and did I mention the really hott Italian knights? The whole series is somewhat addicting, and entirely engrossing. Plus, Bergren just released a second novella that rounds things out and left me speechless. Oh my...Seriously. Go read these books! 

Rebecca @ A Word's Worth

The best international book I've ever read has got to be The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. If you haven't read it yet, you definitely need to get your hands on a copy. It's about Anne Boleyn's sister, Mary, and her relationship with Henry VIII before Anne stepped into the picture. I was never a big fan of European history, but this book sparked my love for all things Tudors (except the show because it's incredibly inaccurate.) Even if you're not a fan of historical fiction, which I'm not, I highly recommend reading ALL of Philippa Gregory's books because they're filled with romance, intrigue, and will take you back in time when things were a lot more interesting!

Anna @ Literary Exploration

As for us....

My favorite International book is actually an International series that takes place in Italy. Lisa T Bergren's Waterfall series is full of lush scenery, exciting battles, and is a truly fun look at Italy in the 1300s. Lisa doesn't write these books like a textbook, and she doesn't gloss over or skip the facts. These books have the perfect blend of historical fact, with a non-stop storyline. Seriously, these books are the kind that you want to read over and over and make you daydream in the shower. They are simply THAT good.


My initial pick was going to be 13 Little Blue Envelopes, because even though I had some issues with the plot of the story, I thought it did an amazing job of capturing a wide variety of European cities, but most especially London.  I read the book not long after I visited London and immediately recognized the city in all its chaotic glory.

But after someone else picked it, I decided I would tell you about Her Fearful Symmetry, instead.  The novel takes place in London, after a set of American twins inherit their dead aunt's estate and move into her old flat.  
The characters, plotlines, and writing style all make the book feel like it has one foot in the present day and one foot in 1800s England.  The story is set against the backdrop of Highgate Cemetery, an historic cemetery dating back to the 1800s and still in use today.  It's the final resting place of notable historic figures and just normal, every-day people, and is a sight to behold.  Audrey Niffenegger actually spent a significant amount of time in London and volunteered as a guide at Highgate, so she knew the place inside and out when it came time to write her book.  


So what is your favorite? Please share in the comments below!

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