Invitation to a Bonfire

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Apr 2018

Member Reviews

This was total fun. 1930s, boarding school, mean girls, Russian émigrés (including Vladimir and Vera Nabokov stand-ins), literature (including a mysterious missing manuscript), the politics of entitlement vs. deprivation, murder plots, and some really enjoyable writing—super smart but not heavy. Recommended to anyone who likes any of the above. Thanks to #NetGalley for the e-galley.

And just for the hell of it, I pulled Nabokov's Invitation to a Beheading off my shelf, because a home library is the best thing ever when it actually replicates the kind of free association you'd use a real library for.

[Goodreads/LibraryThing review]
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DNF. I tried to push through to get to the passionate love triangle, which sounded very interesting to me, but I got so bored during the childhood/school parts that I lost interest.
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This book was very slow reading.  It took forever to really get in the rhythm of the story and I found the writing somewhat confusing.  It was hard to tell who was talking when the viewpoints often changed.  I didn't especially care about any of the characters or what happened to them.  Still, it presented some interesting history so I give it 3 stars for that.
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I had a hard time getting into this book. I initially started it, but stopped and read another book instead. Then I revisited it and found the first section a little slow and hard to get through. (I have no idea if this is merely due to the story being slow or me just not being in the right head space for it. I imagine it was a little of both.)

I stuck with it though, and was rewarded with an interesting and beautifully written story. However, I'm afraid I didn't really fully notice or appreciate that fact until I was nearly to the end. Because of that, maybe this book is more like a 3.5 for me, personally.

Ultimately the story is a slow burn (you likely won't understand...

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*4.5 stars rounded up.

"'It's like I sensed you,' he whispered. "Not just here, but everywhere. Like everyone I've ever loved was leading up to this, to you, to us.'"

How could a virtually friendless young woman, alone in the world, not fall for an older man, a famous Russian novelist whose books she adored, when he breathed those enchanting words in her ear?

Zoya Andropova was one of several orphaned Soviet children secreted on a passenger ship and brought to America in 1925. There she is offered a scholarship to attend an elite all-girls secondary school in Maple Hill, New Jersey. After graduation, she remains at the school to plan and run their...

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As appears on hannahandherbooks.com:

Invitation to a Bonfire is one of those books where the summary is entirely misleading. Reading it, I thought I was in for a immigrant’s story, or a boarding school book, or even a crazy sexy romance/survival book. Nope. Sure, the book has elements of all of the above, but it’s mediocre compared to the way it’s described. The first half is unnecessarily slow, and it was hard for me to distinguish between the voices. Invitation to a Bonfire is told in first person from Zoya and Lev’s points-of-view, but they are both written with the same language and style so it was difficult at first to remember who was narrating. It eventually became easier to...

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4 seductive stars To Invitation to a Bonfire!

This book was highly recommended by my friend, Elyse! Thanks for another intriguing read!

Zoya Andropova is a refugee of the Soviet Union who has enrolled in an all-girls boarding school in New Jersey. It’s the 1920s, and she has lost everything, including her family. Zoya’s journey is relatable in that she wants nothing more than to fit in like any teenager, but being a Soviet refugee during this time of extreme paranoia to outsiders proves to be a heartbreaking burden she cannot lift.

Zoya takes an interest in a visiting writer and fellow Russian emigre, Lev Orlov. Actually, Zoya has long been obsessed with the books by this famous...

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It's a fine book. Interesting if you love character driven suspense.  I feel like it would have been more compellling if the names hadn't been changed. Overall, an interesting book.
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It took me a while to get into Invitation to a Bonfire. I will say that I am thankful for giving it some time because eventually it became rather suspenseful. I know very little about Russia, especially 1920's Russia so it was interesting for me to read about.
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I was very disappointed with this book. In fact I could barely get in to it all and ended up putting it down. The writing style was not something I liked, and honestly I found the writing to be muddy. I did not finish.
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Yowsa.  Based on the trouble (to say the least) Nabakov marriage and written loosely in his style, this packs a lot into a fairly slim volume.  Arguably it's historical fiction- and in a very narrow niche- but it's also a psychological study of three people who really should have been separated from one another for their own mental health.  Zoya is bitterly lonely and adrift in the US-  perfect prey for Leo and a toy to be batted about for Vera.  A love triangle but only one person loves.  This is a quieter novel than many of this ilk and it's nicely written.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
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Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing for the free review copy of this novel. All opinions are my own. 

I really enjoyed this book because of how it was different. I found this book to be a very tone driven novel. The narrator 'breaks the fourth wall,' and I think that that adds so much to this story. This story is heavily influenced by the tone of the narrator, which slowly changes over the course of the novel, in some ways. I enjoyed getting to see growth in this character from her own perspective. 

There were times that I thought the story lagged a little, but it wasn't detrimental. This isn't only a story pushed by tone, though. There are places where the plot and...

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I love historical fiction and this novel did not disappoint. The mystery part of it kept me guessing until the end.  Celt’s writing captivated me  and I can’t wait to read more of her work.
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The revolution and following turmoil made an orphan of Zoya Andropova. Therefore, she like so many other kids comes to the USA as an orphan and is welcomed in a New Jersey boarding school. She never belongs even though she quickly acquires the language and gets good marks. After her schooling, she can stay on the premises and work in the newly built greenhouse where she fully immerses in her work with the plants. Neither does she have friends, nor a lover. It is just her work and the love for literature that keep her going. There is one author she has worshipped for years, Leo Orlov, another Russian émigré whose works she devours. When Leo comes to teach at the boarding school, Zoya seems...

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Thanks Bloomsbury USA and netgalley for this ARC.

This book will keep you reading all night long. You wont know which way is up and down at the end but you'll be satisfied.
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So... I really wanted to like this one. I'm not a big historical fiction fan... but I love psychological thrillers. I'm wanting to branch out and try different genres. Unfortunately, I felt this didn't deliver in either genre.

It was a tad bit TOO much history for me.... and I just couldn't get past this.

I could not get into this book at all. I found myself picking it up multiple times and when I finally looked... I was only at like 20 percent :(.

This is a very SLOWW burn type of book. I have decided that I can't handle slow burn types of novels. I just become too impatient and feel like there is just fluff added before the actual substance delivers.

What...

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Although this book falls into a category I normally despise, that of the fictionalized biography however loose the interpretation, I chose it specifically because of its root material -- the ever intriguing marriage of Vladimir and Véra Nobokov. Knowing Nabokov’s predilection for chess problems that he shared with his wife, the reader is hard put to tell who is the pawn, who, the king/queen. The queen, the most powerful piece of the puzzle, goes anywhere she pleases, but it is the king with the ultimate say. Together, they become an indomitable force.

Up against this enigmatic couple is Zola, a young woman, an orphan who had the fortune (good or bad depending on how you see it) of...

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I was really looking forward to this book, I saw it all over social media and I was so happy I was able to read this early. I was not disappointed by the hype though I was surprised at the depth of the characters. I expected a great story to be the main reason I flew through this book and I was very happy absorbing these two characters and their odd lives. I have recommended it to all my friends and I will continue to do so in the future.
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I have a special place in my heart for characters who are lonely enough to be duped by people who pretend to love them. I always end up reading the book with my heart in my mouth, wanting to reach into the book to warn the lonely character. Reading Invitation to a Bonfire, by Adrienne Celt, was no different—at least until the end, when the tables turned more than once. The beginning of the novel led me to think that it would be the story of people teasing and tricky a girl who just can’t blend in. But about half way through, the stakes rise sky high when a central character tries to drawn our protagonist into a murder conspiracy.

Zoya Andropova might be considered lucky. After all, she was...

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This is a book to savor every page - every letter, every page. It has forbidden romance, and it also has a mystery. It has love and war and loyalty and betrayal. The love triangle between Vera, Zoya, and Lev is so intriguing that you will want to read through all the pages as fast as you can to find out what happens in the end. And the end is incredible too! A great book with you like historical romance with a bit of a thriller.
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