Book rec // The Book of Speculation

I believe in book magic. When I was younger I used to go to Barnes & Noble or other bookstores with nothing in mind, and see what jumped out at me. I firmly believe this is one of the best ways to buy books, and it almost never fails to bring me some gems that end up becoming some of my all-time favorite books. The Book of Speculation is one of those books.

the book of speculation

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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 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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Book Lust // Books by female authors to read this fall

female authors

When I was younger, maybe an early teenager, I realized that most of my favorite books, which consisted mostly of YA fantasy and bad historical fiction novels, were all books by female authors. I adored books like Ella Enchanted,  A Great and Terrible Beauty, and especially Harry Potter. My favorite authors were Jean Plaidy, JK Rowling, Libba Bray, Gail Carson Levine, and Margaret George.

Being a female writer comes packaged with tons of difficulties you’d think of being a woman in a male-dominated field. There are even some people who ignore books by female authors entirely, and won’t pick up anything written by a woman. JK Rowling styled herself that way because her publisher warned her that since she’s a woman, her books may not sell as well if she went by “Joanne Rowling.” How infuriating, and sad.

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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!

new harry potter books

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Alice in Wonderland quotes to laugh and live by

Alice in Wonderland is one of those books everyone has read, and a story that everyone knows. The story has been changed and reinterpreted so many times and that’s lovely, but it’s also the absolute best to return to the original book and get lost in its zany wisdom. I’ve always been in love with Alice in Wonderland quotes and their brand of ironic truths and hidden meanings in the ridiculous, and these quotes are no different.

“I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night. Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!”

alice in wonderland quotes
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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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Reads & Recs: summer and fall new releases!

New 2016 book releases for ya! All of these books are ones that I’m dying to read. One has already been released, and the others are shortly coming to a bookstore/e-reader near you. I love the excitement of finding and reading an amazing new book, so here are my recommendations for summer and fall new releases in fiction!

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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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