Book rec // Crossing the Horizon, a book about female achievements

Aaahhh, a good historical fiction book is like nothing else. Crossing the Horizon by Laurie Notaro is a new release I’ve been hearing about for a long time, and I was overjoyed to get my hands on it. Crossing the Horizon made me laugh and cry, and it taught me dozens and dozens of things I never knew. I would highly recommend this new release for anyone interested in an excellent story, 1920s history, and the little-told story of the aviatrixes who competed with Amelia Earhart for the title of first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.

crossing the horizonCrossing the Horizon has three main characters: the Honorable Elsie Mackay, the self-styled “Queen of Diamonds” Mabel Boll, and the beauty pageant star turned aviatrix Ruth Elder. All three of these women fought bitterly for the honor of becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic; as history knows, none of them were completely successful. But that doesn’t mean their stories should be lost to history. This incredible novel combines their stories in novel form, delivering an exhilarating portrait of their lives, loves, histories, and courageous endeavors to cross the stormy Atlantic in their tiny planes.

The action truly begins in 1927, when Charles Lindbergh, aka “Lucky Lindy” becomes the first person to cross the Atlantic by air. He was an immediate celebrity and set the world on fire with his achievements, and it was only a matter of time before people tried to emulate his feat. First, there’s Elsie Mackay, the daughter of an English earl and an impressive pilot. Her family is dead set against her plans to cross the Atlantic, for very good reasons: dozens have died attempting the crossing. Still, the meticulous, talented, and courageous Elsie is determined to be successful.

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Book rec // The Lesser Bohemians

Today I have a rave book review of a brand new release, The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride. I was initially skeptical about beginning this book but I have to say, The Lesser Bohemians may be my favorite book of the year so far.

the lesser bohemiansThe Lesser Bohemians has a simple, almost cliché premise: an 18-year-old girl moves from Ireland to London in the mid 90s to attend drama school. She’s innocent but eager for life, and she finds herself engaged in a passionate, complicated, and challenging love affair with an actor twenty years older. He has a dark past and some very unsavory secrets. The story itself is fine, but the way it’s told elevates this book from the ordinary.

The most extraordinary and important thing to know before reading this novel is its language and style, which departs almost entirely from literary convention. It’s over 300 pages of the most gorgeous, evocative, stream-of-consciousness language that borders on being one very long poem. The literary style is not for every reader, and can be very challenging at times. I thought I would hate the style, and it only took me twenty or so pages for me to completely change my tune, believing it’s one of the most beautiful ways to tell a story. The style takes the trite subject matter and makes it real in ways I never thought possible. The style makes the characters—sometimes very abhorrent, flawed characters—lovable. The style reminds me of a mix of Howl and The Waste Land. I completely fell in love with the style once I committed to it, and this is definitely a novel you have to commit to wholeheartedly. Here are a few examples:

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Book rec // The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman

When I first heard about The Velvet Hours, a new book by Alyson Richman, I have to admit I was like, “Great, another book about World War II. Another book about Paris. Cliche AF.” But seeing the dozens of four- and five-star reviews on Goodreads, I decided to take a chance. And this book truly impressed me. If you’re interested in excellent storytelling, historical fiction, Paris during the Belle Epoque, or just getting lost in a great book, check out The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman.

the velvet hoursThe Velvet Hours is set in two tumultuous and iconic periods of Parisian history: the Belle Epoque and World War II. The main character, a young woman named Solange, discovers that her father is adopted, and that her real grandmother is a rich, elegant woman named Marthe de Florian. Solange’s father encourages Solange to spend time with Marthe to distract his daughter from the passing of her mother, and because Solange wants to be a writer, and her father knows that Marthe has had an interesting life. Over the course of a year and a half, Solange gets to know her new grandmother, and Marthe de Florian regales her granddaughter with stories of her life, set against the sumptuous background of the Belle Epoque.

The narrative flips between Solange’s first-person narrative in 1939-1940 and Marthe de Florian’s third-person reminiscences. She tells Solange about her humble beginnings as a seamstress in Montmartre, her adolescent days performing onstage, and eventually becoming a woman of the demimonde–that half world occupied by courtesans, mistresses, and the like. Marthe meets and engages in a decades-long affair with a rich man named Charles, discovers her love for art and beauty, and becomes an elegant, accomplished woman who turns her life into a work of art.

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The new Harry Potter books, a fan’s review

It’s been a very Potter year. By now, you’ve probably all heard about the new Harry Potter books, three e-books that collect the new writing on Pottermore into an easy-to-read form. “Pottermore Presents” is a mix of old writing and new, so they aren’t exactly new Harry Potter books. Here’s what I thought of the decision to package the stories like this, and a review of the books themselves!

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‘The Girls,’ the book of the summer

The Girls, by Emma Cline, is one of those books you can’t help but hear about everywhere. From a new author, this book has been extremely hyped up the last few months. Finally, after trying in vain to score an ARC, I went out and spent actual money on a hardcover copy of this book because I simply had to read it. And my initial reaction to it? Meh.
the girls
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Book rec // ‘The Woman on the Orient Express’

Hey all! Book review here, of a new release entitled The Woman on the Orient Express. If you like Agatha Christie and historical fiction, you’re going to want to read about this new release!

the woman on the orient expressThe Woman on the Orient Express is set in 1928, during Agatha Christie’s impromptu visit to Mesopotamia, i.e. Iraq. She travels on the Orient Express to escape her failed marriage to Archibald Christie (who is set to marry his mistress in a few days’ time) and the embarrassment of her “disappearance” and scandal that occurred two years earlier (her very own “Gone Girl” moment!). While on the Orient Express traveling to Iraq, she meets two women: Katharine Woolley and Nancy Nelson. All three women are harboring huge, life-defining secrets that haunt them, but all three eventually forge deep bonds of sisterhood and learn about themselves during the journey.

Halfway through the novel, Christie and her three-dimensional companions do reach Baghdad, and thus the second half of the novel is a glittering and realistic portrait of life in the Middle East during the late 20s. We visit a Bedouin camp, a Yazidi temple, open-air markets, and learn about the customs, lifestyles, and traditions of the Iraqi people during this time. The main portion of the novel is set on an archaeological dig at Ur, where Agatha Christie eventually met her second husband, Max Mallowan. And it is also the place where Christie absorbed enough material for half a dozen (or more) of her novels set in or inspired by Mesopotamia and the dig at Ur.Read More »

Book rec // The Girl at the Lion d’Or

Hey all! A book recommendation today for anyone who loves character-driven novels with romance and history! So, that’s definitely me. I stumbled across this book called The Girl at the Lion D’Or a couple years ago at my favorite bookstore, Westsider Books. I like thrifting at secondhand bookstores because you find books that have been forgotten or lost, and you can find some true gems.

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My Harry Potter and the Cursed Child review (spoilers!)

I have been counting down feverishly to the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for MONTHS, and on Saturday night at midnight, like so many other die-hard Potter fans around the world, I finally got my hands on it.

harry potter and the cursed child review

I don’t need to explain what this eighth story means for Potter fans: it’s like coming home, revisiting the magic we fell in love with when we were kids, and feeling like that magic won’t ever end. It meant reading more about the characters and where they ended up, and for me, it meant being immersed in that amazing world again. And even though this story is only in the form of a scriptbook, most of us had little to no doubt that the last story would shine as bright as the other installments. However, after reading the book, a lot of people felt a little disappointed. Here’s what I thought.
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Book rec // ‘The Last Days of Night’ review

Raaave review coming! If you’re into historical fiction like me (I would say I’m more obsessed), then I would absolutely recommend a new release called The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore. Set in the late 19th century, The Last Days of Night really intrigued me because it promised a fictional account of a subject I didn’t know so much about: the legal and dramatic battle between George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison to answer one very important question: Who invented the light bulb?

the last days of nightIn school, we learn that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, but the truth is actually muddled, confusing, and varied. The narrative of this book is from the perspective of a man named Paul Cravath, a Tennessee-born New York lawyer who, at 27, is a precocious partner in a law firm with a lot to prove. He’s approached by George Westinghouse—and threatened by Thomas Edison—to lead a countersuit against Edison for the right to manufacture the incandescent light bulb.

Sounds dry, but within the historical narrative is intertwined drama, attempted murder, glitzy New York parties, THE Nikola Tesla, and a snapshot of New York during the Gilded Age. I ADORE New York fiction because I grew up here in the ‘burbs (and attended college in Manhattan and the Bronx) and so New York was always my playground, and I absolutely love reading about the history of what I consider “my city.”
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Book rec // ‘Overlapping Lives’

I picked up Overlapping Lives, by Andrew Dicker, on a whim. I was looking for a quick read, something not too long or difficult, and what I found instead was an unconventional group of stories that really challenged and excited me. I would definitely recommend this book, and here’s why.

overlapping livesoverlapping lives

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