Happy Saturday everyone! You may remember that back in November I reviewed the novel The Magician’s Lie, by Greer Macallister. Centered around a female illusionist accused of murder, the book is a bit of a cross between The Night Circus and Water for Elephants. The Magician’s Lie just hit shelves on Tuesday, and Greer Macallister was kind enough to answer a few questions about book plotting, learning to do magic tricks, and some of her favorite books about illusionists! Click below to continue reading!
If anyone has ever sat you down to watch The Wizard of Oz while listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, then you probably understand how a piece of music can transform a story into something…more. Something bigger and more lively than what is was before (and it may have been very imaginative to begin with!).
That’s kind of the same experience to be found with the children’s book Heroes in a World Reborn, by Nathan Ritter, which is meant to be read while listening to Asia’s 1983 album Alpha. (You can find the full album for free on YouTube here.) The book is aimed at preteens but I think it would be suitable for kids eight and older, as long as they can handle a bit of scary monster-fighting and fantasy violence. Read on below for the full review, plus an interview with the author!
(Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. However I was not compensated for writing a review and as always all opinions are my own.)
Refinery29: Style Stalking, by Piera Gelardi and Christene Barberich (paperback, 192 pages). Two out of five stars.
This book was kind of a big disappointment for me. It’s definitely aimed at twenty-something young women who really, really love fashion and fashion blogs. While I do like fashion and street style, I don’t get into such high-fashion labels and looks as this book seems to embrace, so a lot of the looks shown just weren’t “me”. If you really enjoy street style blogs like The Sartorialist or Man Repeller, this book might be a great fit for you. If you’ve ever read one of those blogs and scratched your head in confusion at something a blogger was wearing, then…it’s not.
With that said, if you’re new to dressing or are just in a wardrobe rut, this book does offer a lot of tips for creating your own look: how to re-wear pieces, how to mix prints, etc. Sprinkled throughout you’ll find advice from frequently snapped celebs like Solange Knowles on how to look fashionable and unique.
Unfortunately I felt like most of what was said, I’d already learned by reading Glamour and Lucky magazine. I also feel like this book is a little dated: obviously any fashion manual is going to appear slightly so, but some of the trends shown in the pages (flatform sandals, anyone?) make me think that future readers will not just be able to date this book’s decade–they’ll be able to pick out the exact year. I prefer a slightly less trendy approach to dressing, so that was just another point that made this book not the best fit for me.
Overall, like I said: perfect for the crowd that already reads this type of blog religiously. Not such a great fit for everyone else.
Ooh, goal-setting time! I’m going to be honest: New Year’s is probably my favorite holiday of the whole year. I love that ritual of starting fresh, the feeling that you have a clean slate and can accomplish anything you set your mind to. Of course I have a whole separate list of goals and resolutions for the new year, but for this post I’ll focus specifically on my book-related goals.
1. Finish some of the series I’ve started. I think at last count I had about a dozen in progress (cringe). I really, really need to finish some of these before starting any new ones.
2. Read daily. I do try. But sometimes I watch TV instead, or I waste time on the internet, and other days I’m just busy with life. It’s not that those are bad things, per se, but I’d like to get in a habit of reading a book every single day, even if it’s just a few pages–it makes me happy when life is chaotic and stressful, and it’s much better than scrolling through Pinterest for an hour.
3. Read a few classics. I’ve ignored this genre lately, but I have a few on my shelf I’d like to tackle.
4. Read more nonfiction. I rarely read nonfiction. But I’d like to try reading at least one nonfiction title each month.
5. Start reviewing books on my YouTube channel. This is something I’ve thought about for a while, and I’m going to start doing it in 2015! I want to do short reviews, maybe two or three minutes tops, on some of the books I read each week. I might not film a video for every book I read, but I’d like to do several each month.
6. Work through my owned TBR shelf. I have a huge TBR shelf on Goodreads, obviously. But I’ve been accumulating books on the physical bookshelf in my living room all year, and I haven’t read any of them because I keep loading up on titles from the library. Which is fine…but a) I have some really good titles on there waiting to be read, and b) we’re running out of shelf space, which means it’s time for a cull. So once I’m done with my current library batch, I’m going to start digging through my owned pile.
7. Blog about books on a regular basis. I’ve even been neglecting my monthly roundups–for shame. It’s time to get back in the habit.
8. Be more active in the book blogging world. I have a few things I’m working on now, including my YouTube project. Connecting with other book bloggers gives me new titles for my TBR list and exposes me to books I might not otherwise hear about or be inclined to pick up.
9. Get my bookshelf organized. It’s a mess.
10. Read more, period. Books, magazines, blogs about books and magazines–I just need to read more, period!
What are your bookish goals (or goals in general) for the new year? Share them with me in the comments!
(Disclosure: I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. However I was not compensated for writing a review and as always all opinions are my own.)
Girl Talk: Unsolicited Advice for Modern Ladies, by Christie Young. Hardcover, 176 pages. Two and a half stars out of five.
The first thing that struck me about this book was that it was frenetically illustrated, giving it the appearance of a doodle-filled spiral notebook. This makes the book kind of cute, but it’s also a bit hard on the eyes. The second thing that struck me was that the author appeared to have been reading a lot of back issues of Glamour and Seventeen and was presenting a sort of mash-up anthology of tidbits of wisdom that might once have appeared in those magazines. The writing style is laid out not so much chapter by chapter, but in little blurbs, charts and sidebars much like you’d find in a magazine. Again: cute, but not always easy on the eyes (or easy to follow).
The third thing that struck me: this book felt wildly unfocused. I felt like the author’s point of view was strangely out of sync with the target audience: a lot of the references would only make sense to someone in their late twenties or early thirties, but the tone of the book makes it feel like it’s aimed at eighteen-year-old girls getting out into the world for the first time. The blurb led me to assume that there would be decently sized chunks of advice, delivered in a witty fashion, yet most of what’s inside is delivered in Twitter-style blurbs and is so “lite” that it doesn’t provide a great deal of insight. A lot of it also felt recycled and not terribly pertinent to a twenty-something–there was nothing here I didn’t already know.
I also scratched my head at the blurb’s list of things the book supposedly addresses, since several seemed to be only mentioned in passing or AWOL altogether. Let’s recap:
- “Running out of booze during the holidays”–was this mentioned?
- “Running into your ex on the subway”–mentioned as one of those awful things that happens to young ladies, yet I don’t remember advice being given for this situation
- “Realizing you look exactly like your boyfriend’s sister”–was mentioned, but I don’t remember advice being given here
- “Overthinking text messages and analyzing emoticons”–was addressed
- “Looking calm in a bar alone (without the help an iPhone)”–I actually do appreciate the author touching on the subject of going into a cafe or restaurant alone, since this seems nerve-wracking.
- “Accidentally stealing something from the farmer’s market”–I don’t remember this coming up at all
- “Choosing between getting to work on time or showering”–don’t remember this coming up? I thought there would be some type of “five minute beauty” guide or something similar
- “Responding to a sexy text your uncle meant to send to his girlfriend”–might have come up in passing, but I don’t think it did
- “Organizing your wardrobe, from crop tops to bolo ties”–both forms of apparel were mentioned; organizing your closet was not
- “Handling a roommate who rents out your living room to strangers”–roommates were discussed, but this blurb leads me to believe there would be advice dispensed on handling a roommate conflict, where in reality the topic was lightly skimmed over
- “Kicking your Netflix sci-fi marathon habit”–again, skimmed over
You can see, then, how this book frustrated me immensely: I wanted to like it, but I felt like it lacked a solid sense of direction and didn’t live up to it’s promise of being “hysterically funny”. I gleaned no helpful advice from the pages (as I said, most of the “unsolicited advice” was too lightweight for me), and as for the humor, I laughed out loud only twice: once at the anecdote about the seagull and the ham sandwich, and again upon finding the Time Warner logo in the illustrated guide to household pests. (For my non-U.S. readers, I’m sorry if this joke goes over your heads.)
Now, here’s where I tell you that I’m not knocking this book altogether: I think this book might be great as a gift for a younger sister just leaving home, who had little to no clue about living on her own. It’s true that the book isn’t full of in-depth advice for sticky situations, but I can’t actually say I disagreed with any of the pointers given, and there are actually some useful tidbits for a girl just getting out on her own: how to clean an apartment in fifteen minutes before guests arrive; how to handle a breakup; a few quickie/cheapie recipes that aren’t ramen noodles; etc. I’m actually planning on setting this aside for one such young lady who will be eighteen in a couple of years and is planning on moving out to California as soon as her birthday hits; while the advice in the book might be old news to me, I think it’ll actually be helpful to her, and the short-‘n-sweet format will make it palatable for someone who isn’t big on reading.
It doesn’t hit the mark, then, for most twenty- or thirty-something readers who want a funny look at tackling life’s more perplexing social situations, but underneath it all there is a solid baseline of good advice that might appeal to girls in their late teens who are experiencing adulthood anew. Better yet: pair it up with a gift subscription to a mag like Glamour (my personal fave), which gives much more in-depth advice and has some fun fashion and beauty tidbits plus a little news reporting, too. That’s a better dose of girl talk, in my opinion, and it isn’t covered in those headache-inducing cartoons, either.