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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