Guest Post | Love from Marbella

Guest Post | Love from Marbella

I am fortunate to know some amazing teens. I remember last spring when I first found out that fifteen-year-old Shona, the oldest daughter of one of our long-time family friends, asked her parents if she could spend her junior year of high school abroad. She had her sights set on a small town in Spain. She sounded fearless.

At the time, I was in the process of putting the finishing touches on a book about a girl who wanted to see the world, and I couldn’t help but smile at the idea that Shona and Anna were a lot alike. Both cross-country runners. Both dedicated to learning a foreign language. Both eager to get out there and see the world. I created Anna Greene, but I didn’t think I actually knew anyone that brave and daring! As it turns out, I did, and she was only a few towns away all along.

This week, the Spanish edition of Time Between Us — El tiempo entre nosotros — hits bookshelves and who knows, it might even make its way to Shona’s current home-away-from-home, Marbella, Spain! Shona very kindly agreed to share her personal “daring adventure” with you, and I hope you enjoy her story! You can keep tracking her journey on her blog: Love from Marbella.

With that, it is my honor to introduce you to the amazing, Shona Bell McCarthy. Take it away, Shona!

In just two short months as an exchange student living in Marbella, Andalucía, Spain, I’ve begun to feel as if Picasso took my life and painted it: I’m upside down, half of me is flipped inside out, and everything is in vivid color.

Flash back to last year: I was just Shona, your typical teenage girl who was lucky enough to be going to Spain. My friends and family were all amazed (and/or horrified), and I was feeling on top of the world. Sure, I had my moments of doubt, but I knew I wanted to travel the globe and I felt ready for it.

Reality caught up to me at SFO; I was a mess of tears leaving my family at the security checkpoint, and I struggled to keep myself together for the duration of my 16-hour transit. I kept the words of former exchange students in my mind that day, telling myself over and over that everything would be all right.

Two months in, I finally got a package from home I’d been waiting for since I landed. I opened Tamara’s new book, Time Between Us, and met Anna, a girl who shared my passion for travel and curiosity of all that is out there. For each historical novel I’ve read, Anna has stared at place on her map; both of us hoping to someday find ourselves in another world. At the end of the day, or maybe at the beginning of it, we both share that desire to take the first step out the door.

Anna’s leap into the unknown mirrors mine in so many ways; I just wish I had a cute time-traveling boy to include in my adventures! Walking down the beach (yes, my host family lives in a resort town), I sometimes have to pinch myself to make sure I am not dreaming. Marbella’s beautiful sunsets and perfect mixture of old and new make for a wonderful place to spend a year abroad. In just a few weeks here, I’ve met monkeys in Gibraltar, walked through Roman and Arabic ruins, and ridden a train up to Madrid and back.  Oh, and on a clear day I can see Africa from my backyard (no big deal).

But, as with Anna, it is for me the unexpected more than the imagined that makes my time in Spain such a grand experience. Things like hiking through a pueblo entirely painted blue and filled with Smurf statues.  Or calming myself down the night I got on the wrong bus had to find my way home… in Español.  Some parts of the journey are the picture on the front of the post card, but the real adventures get written on the back.

As frightening as life can be at times, the confusion, stress, and challenge of jumping into a world totally different from my own is also deeply exhilarating.  So while Tamara’s story of Anna’s journey is a fantasy, it is also a perfect parallel to my journey so far.  I think that’s what’s special about the book – the story is fun, but the feelings and experiences are honest and true.

Just a few days ago, I reached my two-month arrival anniversary; I cannot believe how quickly time has flown by. It seems just yesterday I was a terrified teenage girl, hoping for adventure and scared of what was to come. Now, I’m still that same teenage girl and I do get scared sometimes (and homesick too), but I’ve also begun to realize how much more to the world there is, and I want see it all. To steal from another of my favorite stories, “to live will be an awfully big adventure.”

Love from Marbella,

Shona Bell McCarthy


Follow Shona’s Adventures at Love From Marbella.


To celebrate the new Spanish edition, I’m giving away a signed copy of El tiempo entre nosotros!

To enter, just tell us this:

What is your favorite city in the world?

¿Cuál es tu ciudad favorita del mundo?

Enter in the comments below, and Shona and I will pick a winner at random on November 30th! Open internationally, of course!

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  1. […] weighed in on guest blogger, Shona McCarthy’s, post to tell us about her favorite places in the world. Shona and I loved what she had to […]

  2. Jesselle November 22, 2012 at 5:45 am - Reply

    My favorite city in the world is New York City. Its energy made me feel so alive and happy when I came to visit six years ago. The tall buildings were so breathtaking and the lights that illuminated Times Square at night were so beautiful. I also had the chance to experience riding the subway and it was very exciting! I would love to visit New York again someday to learn more about the city’s culture and to feel the rush once again.

    Thank you for this opportunity to win the Spanish edition of Time Between Us! It would be so cool to have a copy written in a foreign language. 🙂

  3. Esmeralda November 21, 2012 at 4:05 am - Reply

    My favorite city is Yucatan, Mexico.
    I love archeology, food, traditional clothing, etc.
    The white sand, islands, diving, events and more.
    I added that my boyfriend and I celebrated our first anniversary there <3

  4. Mairena Ruiz November 20, 2012 at 11:50 am - Reply

    As a Spanish teenage girl I used to be in love with Paris. Just thinking about visiting it, about getting to go to the Louvre and just walk through its cities made me incredibly excited.
    But then I got to go in an expedition through the caribbean and seeing such different places, standing on La Isabela beach at sunrise, was life changing.
    A bit later I finally visited Paris and a couple months after that, London. Oh, boy, did I fall in love with London… It had EVERYTHING I had ever wanted, just riding the bus was exciting! I was so sure I wanted to live there…
    Until I moved from Valencia to Madrid and I just knew that city was perfect. So much light, such pretty streets, plenty of museums and parks and…
    I guess that my favorite city or place will always be the next one, I just love getting to know new places and traveling too much!

    And you can be sure I’ll be following Shona’s adventures. It sound so exciting!

  5. […] giving away a signed copy of the book HERE! Enter to […]

  6. Tinuwel November 20, 2012 at 11:24 am - Reply

    My favorite place in the world is the one I live in: León (Spain).

    It is a small city in the northwest of Spain with a long long history attached. It is comfortable to live, easy to scoured and have a lot of beautiful monuments and modern buildings to visit:×254.jpg

    It is placed in the Way of St. James and every year thousend of pilgrims visit my city.

    And it has even a delicious gastronomy to taste!

    Thank you for the chance to win a signed book, I own one but with your sign in it woudl be like a treasure for me! 😀

  7. Kasumi November 20, 2012 at 9:27 am - Reply

    My favorite place in the world is Iguazú Falls. It’s just amazing! I couldn’t take enough photos when I visited it 2 years ago. Every view of this incredible place was so beautiful! 😮

    Oh, and I’m Spanish, so thanks for the chance!

  8. Gabriela Navarro November 19, 2012 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    My favorite city in the world is London!
    I’ve only gone once but it was everything I expected to be, a dream come true!

  9. […] I’m also giving away a signed copy of the brand new Spanish edition, HERE. […]

  10. Marlyn November 18, 2012 at 10:49 pm - Reply

    My favorite city is Prague. In this city, I’ll find the love of my lifem my sweet little girl: Isabella.

    Plus, this city has one of the most important theatrical events: the black theater in Prague .

  11. Alyssa Susanna November 16, 2012 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    I LOVE the city of Crown Point, Tobago. My parents were born and raised in Trinidad, the neighboring island of Tobago. They traveled back and forth between the islands, as well as in Venezuela (this is one of the reasons why I pushed myself to learn Spanish in school!). They no longer live in Trinidad, and neither do I, nor do we live in Tobago, but the city is absolutely beautiful. It is near Scarborough, in the southwestern coast of Tobago. The beaches are have clear, green-blue waters, and pristine, white sand. The people are so friendly! The are few actual department stores, so it’s more of informal market venors around the beaches and town. Everything is so simple there! No bustling streets or crowded walkways. The sun is scorching, but it’s a great way to get a tan! I love the Pidgeon Point – the beaches there are my favorite. Everything is so beautiful! I love the feeling of being connected to nature. I don’t want to take anyone’s pictures from online, but if you Google “Crown Point, Tobago”, you’d see some great pictures of the beauty of Tobago!

    Thank you for the stimulating question – I’ve had so many wonderful memories in Crown Point, Tobago, as well as other places in Tobago, and Trinidad! I live in the U.S. now, but I miss the Caribbean. I am fluent in Spanish, thanks to my diligence to learn the language, because of my parents and their frequent past trips to Venezuela (the language of both Trinidad and Tobago is English though). So, I’d love to win a Spanish-edition of Time Between Us! I actually don’t have any Spanish editions of any young adult books I’ve read, so it would be interesting to get a copy of a young adult originally written in English! So, thank you for the giveaway!


  12. chiara November 12, 2012 at 7:25 am - Reply

    I’ve been abroad little times but I’d choose Bergen in Norway. It was a charming city. It was a five-day journey where I could see many things and have many adventures.
    In a second place, it’s London also, due to its cultural activities, museums and so on.

  13. Annaiss @SMW November 10, 2012 at 1:25 am - Reply

    My favorite city in the world is, not Marbella, but Guanajuato, Mexico! I have been there four times, but God, is beautiful! I love it! The people are great; the streets are endless (especially under the full moon)! And, jeez, the callejones! The homes are painted with cheerful colors, and are just so close to each other, and somehow that’s makes them more beautiful! And the tunnels around the city are long!!! If I ever try to hold my breath in one of them I’d probably be dead by now xD But, my favorite place in Guanajuato is El Callejón del Beso. Is just so romantic!!

    The freakiest place I visited while I was in Guanajuato is El Museo de las Momias! Seriously, there are mummies in every size! Even babies!

    And what can I say about the food?! All the food is mouthwatering!

    Here are some pics I found online (I cannot find my camera right now lol):

    Beautiful streets:




    El Callejón del Beso:

    El Museo de las Momias:

    So, yeah, that’s one of my favorite cities in the world! I already have my English copy of Time Between Us, but I’m sure one of my followers would appreciate it! My blog is in Spanish, I live in USA, but blog in Spanish to get better at the language 😀

    • Tamara Ireland Stone November 10, 2012 at 1:41 am - Reply

      Annaiss! So glad to hear from you! As you know, I’m in awe of you and your Spanish book blog. So incredible.

      Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos. Now I want to go to Guanajuato!

      Thanks for entering, and good luck!

  14. Silvia November 10, 2012 at 1:08 am - Reply

    Mi favorite city in the world is London. I’ve been there 2 times and I dreams with living here.
    I’m from Madrid and I would like win this book translated into Spanish 🙂

  15. Sarah (@thebooklife) November 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    My favorite city in the world? Hmm…well I haven’t been that many places, but my favorite of the ones I’ve been to would be Normandy in France, more specifically Omaha Beach and the memorial there. I guess that isn’t technically a city, but I digress. It had been rainy and grey for the first leg of our trip and we were bummed because it promised to be the same when we arrived at the memorial, but when we woke up that morning all the clouds had miraculously disappeared and it was one of the most beautiful days I have ever experienced. The beach was just gorgeous and none of the pictures I have of it can do it any justice at all. And boy was that long winded…haha.

    I don’t speak spanish, but I would love to have this one on my TBU shelf :0)

    • Tamara Ireland Stone November 10, 2012 at 12:31 am - Reply

      “Places” in the world works equally well, Sarah! Thanks for sharing your memories of Omaha Beach in Normandy! It sounds beautiful.

  16. Tamara Ireland Stone November 8, 2012 at 5:26 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, Shona! I’m so proud to know you.

    Enjoy the adventure,

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