Sit down, everyone, because I’m about to tell you about a book I think you’ll love. If you’re like me and enjoy historical fiction, Victorian England, long musings on the nature of war, family, coming of age, and other universal and important themes, then The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt will be your new favorite book, if you have about three weeks to spare.
Every once in a while, you come across a book that feels like a present. The Thorn and the Blossom was that for me. Published in 2012, this book was on my list for a while, but I always seemed to forget it existed. I remember wanting it when it first came out, then I completely forgot about it. A few weeks ago, I saw it on the bargain priced shelf at Barnes & Noble; it was only $5 and I threw it on top of my purchase pile and that was it. In March, we had a snow day from work, and I read this book in one sitting.
Hello all! Today’s book review is called The Glorious Heresies by Irish author Lisa McInerney. Did you ever start a book with apprehension based on the description, and wonder if you’ll really like it? Or even be able to stomach it? That’s how I felt when starting this book—based on the description, I thought it would be too dark, too icky, too complicated for me. But what I ended up with was a book with unbelievably interesting and complicated characters, surprising plot twists, and themes of redemption, the nature of religion, and the choices we make that alter the courses of our lives.
Today’s book review is of the unusual, poignant, unforgettable novel Miss Jane by Brad Watson. I picked up this book on my birthday of this year, when I was just browsing around Barnes & Noble looking for a gift to myself! Miss Jane jumped out at me because of its beautiful peacock cover. Yes—I judge books by their covers and I am proud of it. Miss Jane immediately appealed to me because of its subject matter: a young woman with a genital defect finds freedom in her condition, and it’s set primarily in 1920s-30s Mississippi.
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.
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 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.
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 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:
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.
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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.
Next on my to-read list for this year was a Charlotte Brontë novel I’ve been meaning to read since college: Villette. I’m slowly working my way through my classics shelf via my Over Drive app (yay for audiobooks!) and I’m happy to have read this amazing book.
Jane Eyre is the Charlotte Brontë novel most people are familiar with, but this one, Villette, was Charlotte’s last novel and her most autobiographical. Even though it took me forever to read, this classic is a must-read!