Sunday, August 5, 2012

I've Moved!

Hi everyone!

This is incredibly overdue, but I've actually moved my blog over to Wordpress. You can now read my reviews and random musings over at I hope you'll check it out!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A few weeks ago I read Ransom by David Malouf. Ransom is a retelling of the part of the Trojan war during which Priam travels to the Greek camp to ransom Hector's body. And you know how I love a retelling. 

Malouf's writing style is exactly how I would want mine to be if I ever wrote a novel. I don't know what that says to anyone else, but it's a thought that struck me as I was reading. He brings us into the minds of Achilles and Priam so we gain a new understanding and appreciation for why they act the way they do. I think that it would be a really great companion piece to The Iliad for when kids read it for the first time in school.

The characterization of both Achilles and Priam, as well as some of the other smaller characters, is incredibly developed. The Iliad gives a fair amount of information about Achilles and what he decides, but Malouf gets us inside his head and shows us the desolation and frustration he feels. Malouf also takes us beyond the wall and into Priam's mind and history to understand why an elderly king would shed his noble exterior and venture into enemy camps to plead for his slain son's body. 

I'd certainly recommend this book. I really like Malouf's style and I'm looking forward to reading more of his books.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Reviews a few weeks late

First up: Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir

So. Much. Love. 
I managed to ration out my reading of this book so that I didn't finish it too quickly (and also so that I made sure I ate and slept). 

Jenny Lawson is intelligent and witty and inspiring and all the things I wish I could be. She is living proof that you don't have to be "normal" to be happy and successful. Not only can you get through life's everyday ups and downs, you can be a famous blogger with a penchant for long dead (and taxidermied) animals in awesome outfits and a book deal. And that, friends, is the American Dream. That, and giant metal chickens named Beyoncé.

Since this has thus far been less of a review and more of an open love letter to the author, I think it's probably clear that I liked the book. 

It was very similar to her blog in writing style, so I think her editors did a good job in letting her stick to her voice. There were a few things in the book that appeared on the blog, but with added insight. I'm not sure there was any chapter that was taken solely from the blog (but I'd have to check, and then I'd get so engrossed that I'd end up re-reading the whole thing and you wouldn't get this review for another two weeks). In short: I loved this book, just like I love the blog. 

Moving right along...

I've been familiar with the musical for years (and I think they might have shown us the movie in 9th grade), but I'm only now getting to the book, which is completely backwards for me. It was interesting though, to read phrases that appear almost verbatim in the lyrics. 
Reading while having the music of the scene was a new and somewhat bizarre experience. I also found myself anticipating scenes ahead of time, but, of course, there was more in between in the book than in the soundtrack for the musical.
For whatever reason I found that I didn't sympathize as much with any of the characters as I would have expected. I'm not exactly sure why that was, but I think it probably affected my overall view of the book. 

It was interesting enough, but not a particularly inspiring read. I'm particularly drawn to characters, so since I had issues with these, maybe that's why I was so underwhelmed by this book. 

And finally, Taft 2012

It was really just a fun and quick read. 
I have to admit, pretty much the only think I know about Taft is the bathtub incident — that and his fairly spectacular mustache. Other than that, I am clueless about the man and his politics. About halfway through reading this book I decided I should find out what actually happened to him — Chief Justice of the united states 1921-1930. Not bad, William Howard, not bad at all. That further cemented the whole alternate universe thing, but it would have been kind of cool if Taft had, in fact, mysteriously disappeared the day his successor was supposed to be sworn in. But then, we would probably learn more about Taft in school. People tend to talk more about mysteries for some reason. 

Anyway, Taft comes back. No one is really sure why, and for whatever reason they don't spend too long trying to figure it out. On a basic human level I kind of take issue with this because if a presumably dead former president fumbles into the next century as if he just woke up from a cat nap, I'm going to want some answers, but I digress. It kind of annoys me that Heller doesn't spend a bit more time with this issue, but I get it. That's not what he's focusing on. It's not "The Point."

This pokes gentle fun at the whole political process these days (like spending 3 out of 4 years on the campaign trail) and the media frenzy that goes along with it, but I don't think it quite reaches satire. It isn't subtle enough, but it doesn't dig deep enough either. I don't necessarily mean this as criticism, just observation. As I said, this is a fun book. It was an easy and enjoyable read.

It did lack closure though. The ending, while (for lack of a better word) cute, doesn't resolve the whole he-traveled-to-the-future think. Heller kind of leaves us hanging with that one. So what happens? Does he live out the rest of his "natural" life in this century? Does he travel back in time to 1913 and pick up where he left off? Does he vanish into thin air? I needed a bit more of a resolution there, but it just ends.  Oh well, I guess I can't always get everything I want, right? 

So now we're nearly caught up with reviews. I have a few more in the works and I'll post those in the near future. Any other exciting New York plans will go up here as well, though nothing seems to be moving forward in that arena.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I got a package today.

My copy of Let's Pretend this Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson arrived today. There may have been happy dancing involved. I have, as is to be expected, many library books that I need to finish, but they may all get shoved on to the back burner so I can read this. Seriously. Very excited.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Girl, Interrupted

I should have mentioned this sooner, but it slipped my mind. Oops. 

Here on Bluestocking Revolution I review all sorts of books. I do not discriminate. Or maybe I do, but the point is: I read whatever catches my interest, be it adult fiction, YA, non-fiction, or anything else. Sadly, "smorgasbord" wasn't an option when entering the Independent Book Blogger Awards, so I went with adult fiction. And there you have it. My decision-making process. Ta da!

Girl, Interrupted is a memoir, thus the disclaimer. Moving right along...

This was a quick and easy read for me, but I found it incredibly interesting. Kaysen tells her story admirably and it really does resonate. Susanna Kaysen, at 18 and after spending only 15 minutes with a psychiatrist she's never met, is sent to McLean Hospital where she stays for nearly two years. 

Perhaps the most interesting part of this book for me is the blurring of the lines between sanity and insanity. Kaysen writes of the thoughts going through her head during her confinement in the hospital, many of which do not fit into our general impression of "crazy." With her annotation of the entry to the 3rd edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for Borderline Personality Disorder (her diagnosis) Kaysen wonders if this disorder will one day make its way out of the DSM (the way homosexuality did) as societal views of acceptable behavior change.  Kaysen also suggests that with those guidelines, many "normal" teenagers could receive those teenagers. After all, "an essential feature of this disorder is a pervasive pattern of instability of self-image, interpersonal relationships, and mood, beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts." (p. 147) That pretty much sounds exactly like adolescence. 

I think part of what makes Girl, Interrupted so fascinating is that it doesn't answer the questions that we're all secretly trying not to ask — am I crazy? Will I end up in a loony bin? Kaysen seems to have ended up in the hospital by chance, and much of the time she and her friends don't fit the mold of the stereotypical crazy person. The lines tangle and blur. Who's sane and who's crazy? Sometimes it's difficult to tell.

The Free World

David Bezmozgis' The Free World was an intriguing and, at times, heartbreaking tale of the three generations of the Krasnansky family as they made their way from Soviet-controlled Latvia to "the Free World."

Bezmozgis shows the blurring of lines and the complications that arise as people enter the Free World and ultimately become Free People. In cases like that of a family friend, Lyova, who is no longer branded an refugee, getting a visa to America proves even more difficult as he is now a "free man in a free world."

Lyova might be my favorite character in this book. My complaint would probably be that we don't see enough of his story, except we aren't really supposed to — he's a passing character. He's kind of a tool Bezmozgis uses — he provides introductions for the characters and his predicament brings forth the bigger questions of freedom outside the USSR. Maybe one day he'll get a spin-off book.

On the other hand, there's Karl. With most of the adult characters there was a certain amount of understanding after a while, but I feel like we never reach that point with Karl. He remains a mystery and almost feels like a villain because of it. We don't know what's going on in his mind.

There was less of a driving plot in this book, but it was very strong on character development most of the time. The characters don't move so far, so the readers only get to see a small slice of the journey.

I'm still a bit confused about character motivation of one part — what was the point of all that business with Iza Judo and was it related to the Masha fiasco? If anyone has an answer to this, please let me know because I'm still in the dark about that.

I picked up Girl, Interrupted from the library yesterday and started it today. I only have around 30 pages left, so I'll probably finish that tonight and review tomorrow or the day after. It's been a quick, easy read thusfar.

Don't forget to vote for Bluestocking Revolution on the Independent Book Blogger Awards on Goodreads.

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

My friend and I were talking about Game of Thrones. I've kind of halted with the series and gotten caught up with reading all of the other books I have out of the library, so I'm still only a few hundred pages into the second book. 

Yesterday I went over to her house to start watching the HBO series. We ended up watching the entire first season. In one sitting. Have I mentioned that I'm not very good with moderation, self-control, etc.? It's just so good

Needless to say, I returned home at 3:30 in the morning and commenced re-reading the first book (because at that point I had to start at the beginning). I'm reading another book, The Free World, by David Bezmozgis, so I'm switching back and forth. And I've been meaning to re-read The Hunger Games. So many books, so little time. Well, now that I don't have a job, I guess I have more time to read...

In other news, I've entered the Goodreads Independent Book Blogger Awards, so vote for me please! You know you want to read about my adventures at Book Expo America.

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Night Circus, way after the fact

I finished The Night Circus a while ago, wrote this review a while ago, and then forgot to post it. Whoops. Better late than never.

Most of the people I've spoken to about this book have very strong feelings about it. Love it or hate it, there are no feelings in the middle. I can kind of understand how it inspires those feelings, yet I am irrevocably indecisive, so I still find myself mostly in the middle of the road. 

I enjoyed reading the book. It held my interest and I didn't really feel that the story lagged or the plot fell apart. That being said, I do take issue with some aspects of the book.

Most of the story is supposed to be set in the late 1800s/early 1900s. Other than women wearing gowns instead of dresses and the characters speaking with fewer contractions there is really no sense of this whatsoever. I understand that this is a different side of that era and Morgenstern is trying to show us a bit of the fantastic, but if you're going to go through the trouble to set that sort of scene, there needs to be more follow-through. 

The challenge concept was a good idea, but there wasn't really the right balance of conflict throughout. At times there was so much focus on the challenge that there was a complete halt to the story, at others, the challenge seemed entirely forgotten. There was just a bit of a balance issue. 

I also wanted to know more about Poppet, Widget, and Bailey and more about Marco's charms. These were the most interesting parts for me and I wish they had been developed more. It just felt like Poppet, Widget, and Bailey should have been played much bigger parts in the story. They were interesting and I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what it was like for Poppet and Widget growing up in the circus. And the magic: Celia's is innate, but Marco's is learned. I understood this to be at least partially the basis of the challenge, so I wanted to know more about Marco's magic. I also wanted to learn more about the magic that held the circus together: what magic belonged to whom?

All in all, Morgenstern has a flair for description, I'll give her that, but at times I wondered at the things she chose to describe. It almost seems like everything I wanted might have been in there at some point, and then someone told her to edit for length and she took out all the wrong parts.

Book People

I decided to make this a separate post since it's only tangentially connected.

Dream program? Check. Dream city? Check. Now I just need to figure out how to make them a reality. I'm confident that I can make it work though. I've decided that I'm willing to put myself into a certain amount of debt to pursue my passion for books. I'm already in debt for college, what's a bit more to get me to a place where I can do something that I love?

So there we go. Yours Truly is moving to the Big Apple. And yes, I am aware that Step 1 is to never again call it the Big Apple. I am really excited about the prospect of living and working in New York, which is something I've wanted to do since I was a kid, but I also can't wait to be around fellow book lovers. 

As one of my friends said when I told her about all this, "you'll finally be with your people!" I told my mom about this exclamation and she laughed and agreed, but then said that wasn't I already with "my people" working at a publishing company? Sadly, no. A friend and I discussed this over drinks — in our chosen fields where so many English and literature majors flock, "our people" — the book dorks and grammarians — are a rarity. 

In a group of ESL teachers she mentioned reading Pride and Prejudice and was met with surprise and near-disdain. The counter in my office kitchen which for most is a place to drop off old books that were cluttering up the closet or to pick up a book that looks interesting was a magical fairy book counter for me, producing a number of books on my ever-growing to-be-read list. 

I went to the library the other day and returned 2 books. I checked out 5. I have at least 4 boxes of books I brought home from college sitting in a closet because we don't have any more shelf space in my house (yes, the fact that they're in the closet and not out in the open haunts me). It's a sickness, but one I wouldn't try to treat. 

I can't wait to move to New York, but I'm kind of dreading it at the same time. If I had to guess, I'd say at least 80% of my possessions are books. And books are heavy.

I suppose there could still be people who are not "my people" in the program. That's fine, you don't have to be a prolific reader to be my friend. But it would be nice if you'd help me carry my books.

My Own March Madness

For all those who perked up at the thought of gym floors and riotous, painted crowds: sorry, false alarm (you poor, lost souls). This post is really about the madness of my life this past month.

First of all (and minor compared to everything else): I am now a certified EMT. Huzzah! There is nothing particularly "mad" about this other than the fact that I am now certified to make healthcare decisions in certain situations. Take that as you will. Now, on to the crazy:

In late February/early March, I hear from Pratt that my application is complete (I know, I sent in everything in November...) and that I should expect a decision by the first week of April. I figure that these timelines are never really accurate, so I'll find out mid-April and settle down to wait impatiently. Skip forward to March 9 when my mother texts me (at 11:30, mind you) that an envelope has arrived from Pratt. I spend the rest of the day agonizing and inwardly flipping out, rush home, down a shot of vodka (judge me if you must), open the letter, and finally exhale once I process that I have, indeed, been accepted.

So that's the first big moment of March. I've gotten into my dream program. Now it's time to apply for financial aid and look for apartments and figure out logistics, but we'll deal with that eventually.

All along I've had this master plan where I'll simply transfer to the NY office of my company (which is mere blocks away from the campus according to Google maps) and life will go on with very few bumps in the road. Well, the best laid plans and all that jazz... When I finally managed to work up the nerve to talk to HR about transferring to the other office, the answer was, at best, a "probably not, but I'll ask." Well, since then the company has gone through "restructuring" and my position has been eliminated. This does happen a lot in the publishing industry and there are certainly no hard feelings, but that's never a good feeling.

That's the other big moment of March.

In some ways it has made things easier because now I can just start looking for jobs in NY. I'm still waiting to hear back from financial aid, which is obviously a huge part of everything since I'm not sure all of my savings could even sustain me in NY for a month.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

You know that feeling when you're at the library (or bookstore, I guess) browsing the shelves and all of a sudden you see the newest book in a series that you've been waiting for, but totally forgot was coming out? OK, well, maybe you don't because you're a better fan than I am and pay more attention to release dates. 

The point of this story is that I was at the library today picking up my copy of The Night Circus (which I am bizarrely excited to read even though I have heard nothing but terrible things about it) when I glanced up and saw I am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley (the 4th in the Flavia de Luce series) just hanging out on the shelf. I squealed like my inner five-year old and scampered over to grab it before anyone else could snatch up my prize. 

And now it's upstairs and I'm itching to open it and start reading it except I have 600 or so pages of Our Mutual Friend and like 6 other books in line in front of it (or else I end up with more fines and at that point, why don't I just skip the middle man and buy the damn book?)

In other news, I recently finished Kafka on the Shore. My reading experience with this book was much more of a roller coaster ride than I'm generally used to. At times I liked it and at other times I really didn't. Like really didn't. I asked a lot of questions as I read that book, and I definitely didn't get as many answers. Then there were portions that just felt gratuitous. I don't know. It's possible that it was the translation, but there were parts where the language was superb, so I'm somewhat loath to chalk it up to that.

I also finished We, the Drowned, which was quite a saga. In the end, I think I enjoyed it, but there were times when I felt it a bit difficult to get through. The sections did tie together pretty well, but in some ways I felt like it was way too long. Again, there were times when I felt like things were gratuitous. Maybe I'm getting more critical in my old age or something...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Every so often I get a reminder of why I love Dickens

On bees:
"They work; but don't you think they overdo it? They work so much more than they need — they make so much more than they can eat — they are so incessantly boring and buzzing at their one idea till Death comes upon them — that don't you think they overdo it? And are human labourers to have no holidays, because of the bees? And am I never to have change of air, because the bees don't? Mr. Boffin, I think honey excellent at breakfast; but regarded in the light of my conventional schoolmaster and moralist, I protest against the tyrannical humbug of your friend the bee. With the highest respect for you."
~Our Mutual Friend

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


It kind of makes me dizzy, but in the best way possible.

First post of the new year!

Just 17 days behind schedule....

I actually do have books to report on. I can only think of one at the moment, but there will be more reviews to come.

On New Year's Eve I finished The Paris Wife. I *really* liked this book. Maybe it's because I like the sort of behind-the-scenes type of stories about authors, or maybe it was just well-written. Or both. Honestly, it didn't feel like it was about Ernest Hemingway. It felt like it was about his first wife, Hadley Richardson. Which it was.

OK, it's been a bit too long (apparently) for me to give a coherent review. Anyway, good book. I recommend it. I'm reading a few more books right now, so hopefully there will be more updates in the near future.