Blind Date Books #4: A History Mystery

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, explore Corey’s most recent reads via Blind Date Books! I’ll tell you all about them, but I won’t tell you what they are until the very end. Judge for yourself if you’ll go on these bookish blind dates!

Brown-Paper-Packaging

Happy Valentine’s Day, readers! I saved a good one for this last edition of Blind Date Books: it’s a book by one of Britain’s most popular authors that attempts to solve one of the most enduring mysteries in English history. And, if that isn’t enough for you, we’ve also got murder, war, international intrigue, incest, and just about everything you might find in Game of Thrones, but in a much slimmer volume and with added benefit of historical veracity.

Interested?

(more…)

February 14, 2019 at 9:40 am Leave a comment

Blind Date Books #3: Shady Trilogy

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, explore Corey’s most recent reads via Blind Date Books! I’ll tell you all about them, but I won’t tell you what they are until the very end. Judge for yourself if you’ll go on these bookish blind dates!

Brown-Paper-Packaging

I can’t be coy about these latest Blind Date Books: I adore them! Reading them made me feel invigorated, energetic, and happy, which is no mean feat given the state of the world.

This magical trilogy takes place in three overlapping worlds all with the same name and focuses on the specially-trained (and few) people who can travel between the worlds.

I read the first book in the series many years ago before the next two books had even been published. Never one to mind waiting until a series is complete before wading in, I bided my readerly time until all three were published to complete the trilogy. (Incidentally, I have never been more glad of my forbearance since Book 2 ends with the most cliffhanger-y cliffhanger I’ve ever read in my entire life.)

You can read about how much I loved the first book elsewhere on this blog, so I’ll confine myself to comments on the second and third books. These two books succeed at expanding an already-fascinating world and, together, build towards a dramatic finale in the third book. (more…)

February 11, 2019 at 8:12 am Leave a comment

Blind Date Books #2: Sisterly Love

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, explore Corey’s most recent reads via Blind Date Books! I’ll tell you all about them, but I won’t tell you what they are until the very end. Judge for yourself if you’ll go on these bookish blind dates!

Brown-Paper-Packaging

If you’re in the mood for something comforting and cozy like a warm cup of tea, this is the Blind Date Book for you!

Personally, this wasn’t a first date for me, but a reread of a book I last read when I was sixteen years old. At the time, everyone in the book seemed much older than me. The characters all seemed preoccupied with either money or marriage (or both), two subjects that from my young perch implied maturity and seriousness to be found in my far distant future.

Imagine my surprise, revisiting as a 32-year-old, to find the main characters were right around my age at the time I first read this book — sixteen and eighteen, with a mother in her late thirties, and a (apparently horrifically) old suitor of 35. I was stunned.

Ages aside, this lovely book tells the tale of two sisters and their adventures out in the world after the death of their father. It’s an absolute classic for good reason — it’s written with wit, charm, and characters you immediately feel like you’ve known for years. (more…)

February 7, 2019 at 9:50 am 2 comments

Blind Date Books #1: Travel in the time of Brexit

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, explore Corey’s most recent reads via Blind Date Books! I’ll tell you all about them, but I won’t tell you what they are until the very end. Judge for yourself if you’ll go on these bookish blind dates!

Brown-Paper-Packaging

Do you like the movie Grumpy Old Men?

Do you long for a travel narrative that complains and praises the places it visits equally?

Are you over the age of 70 and miss the good old days?

Do you like sequels?

If you said “yes” to any of the above, then this Blind Date Book is for you!

Traversing the length of the United Kingdom from the southern tip to the absolute northern, this book follows the peregrinations of a famous writer, now of a certain age. He visits places he hasn’t seen in decades plus places entirely new to him, imbuing each with a crotchety old man sensibility. Nothing in Britain, it seems, it like it used to be. (more…)

February 4, 2019 at 4:30 pm Leave a comment

January: A Month of Non-fiction

Hello, and Happy New Year! Yes, it’s February, but we haven’t seen you yet in the new year, so we get to wish you a happy one.

It’s long been a goal of mine to read more non-fiction. If you take a look at our Non-fiction archives, you’ll find Corey is a much more prolific reader of “real books,” as my grandmother calls them, than I am. Most of my non-fiction jaunts have to do with food, dogs, or both.

January seemed a good time to change that. After reading Heavy by Kiese Laymon at the very end of December, then noticing that all the books I took out of the library on my most recent visit were non-fiction, it became a goal of mine to only read non-fiction for the entire month. Yes, I had started Once Upon a River at the end of December and it carried into January a little. But otherwise, I was determined to stick with my plan.

Rather than go into every book in detail, reviewlets seemed to be the way to go. So! Here’s a selection of what I read this January:

There Will Be No Miracles Here by Casey Gerald Gerald is the son of a college football star, a Yale and Harvard Business School alumnus, a man who has met presidents and inspired teenagers and, to the untrained eye, looks like the embodiment of the American Dream. But Gerald argues (convincingly) that there is no American Dream, that his experiences and his chances came from being profoundly traumatized and just a little bit lucky. Gerald wants the world to know that just because he looks successful, he refuses to be held up as “the one who made it out” of his impoverished neighborhood in Dallas. He made it out, he tells us, but at what cost? Not one he’d wish on anyone.

From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein I read this immediately after Gerald’s book, which made Dorey-Stein’s privilege glaringly obvious. She worked five part-time jobs before landing a position as White House stenographer, but she quickly takes new opportunities as her due and chafes against minor restrictions (dress code, bosses insisting that she be on time). She and Obama trash-talk each other in the gym. She rides on Marine One. She flies to exotic locales and works a lot of the time, but stops to enjoy resort life as well.

Good for her! She should find joy in a demanding, high-pressure job! But does she? No. Instead, she torments herself over a man who has a longtime girlfriend and who is sleeping with at least three White House staffers (including Dorey-Stein). The name-dropping, the constant discussions of how she “wants to be a writer,” how everyone thinks she’s amazing, remind us that Dorey-Stein is enveloped in the safety of a secure support system in every way Gerald is not.

Yes, We (Still) Can: Politics in the Age of Obama, Twitter, and Trump by Dan Pfeiffer It’s impossible not to compare this book with Dorey-Stein’s. Dorey-Stein works hard and long, but she finds time to party and leave her work behind; Pfeiffer can’t sleep, can’t go to a movie, can’t even experience stroke-like symptoms without being called on to solve a communications crisis. But that’s not the point of Pfeiffer watched Twitter change the press and the way politicians speak to the American public. He also learned what happens when you try to tweet under anesthesia. Pfeiffer says near the end of the book that he’s a strategist, not a writer. This explains the footnotes, many of which would have been better either dropped or incorporated within the text. (more…)

February 1, 2019 at 3:40 pm 1 comment

The LT Year in Reading: 2018 Edition

Well, we may not be posting as much as we used to, but by god we’re still reading! And at the end of each year, we like to take a look back at our best, worst, and even plain old confusing picks for our Literary Transgressions Year in Reading:

Most Fun Read

Kate: His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. I’m not usually a dragon person (blame it on Eragon), but this was fantastic! Napoleonic Wars, intra-military intrigue and politics, talking dragons who somehow manage to be both terrifying and adorable. There’s nothing not to love.

Corey: Either re-reading Neil Gaiman’s Stardust or first-reading Ben MacIntyre’s A Spy Among Friends. I’ve yet to find a book by either author that was anything short of great fun.

 

Best Reread

Corey: Wilkie Collins! The Moonstone! So enjoyable! I enjoyed many revists of old favorites this year, but Collins’ superlative mystery stood out as particularly welcome during a dark year in the world. It has it all: an enormous diamond gone missing, a country house by an ominous pit of quicksand, unreliable narrators, opium, star-crossed lovers, and more!

Kate: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I’d forgotten everything about the plot in the eight years since I’d read it, and had only a vague recollection of loving it to death. (I don’t even think I read my previous review on it!) It absolutely held up.

(more…)

December 21, 2018 at 9:44 am Leave a comment

The LT Year in Reading: 2017 Edition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most Fun Read
Kate: Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows. I think this is technically YA, and it’s such an amazing example of how complex, character-driven and just plain fun literature for that age group can be.
Corey: Hmm, I’ll have to go with Helen Simonson’s The Summer Before the War (her follow-up to Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand). It was a light and enjoyably quick read that brightened an otherwise gray autumn.

 

Best Reread
Corey: It’s a tie — I reread two books this year and they were both perfect for the moments in which I read them. First up, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus came along at a incredibly hectic summer moment and it was, as always, an immersive, imaginative, distracting, perfect read. At the end of the year, I reread Lucy Knisley’s Something New and it also perfectly scratched that moment’s itch.
Kate: I honestly don’t remember rereading anything this year, which must mean there wasn’t anything fantastic.

 

The Peter Mendelsund Award for Best Cover
Kate: The Goddesses by Swan Huntley. I felt relaxed and tranquil every time I looked at it. Simple and lovely.
Corey: Jessie Burton’s The Muse! So detailed and beautiful!

 

Best Premise, Worst Execution
Corey: Ugh, The Storied Life of AJ Fikry. I was all excited to read a bookish book about the lives and doings of an eccentric bookshop owner on a small island and…well, instead I got something pretty maudlin and not terribly bookish. Disappointing!
Kate: What the heck was going on in Invasion of the Tearling? I was looking for fun AU fantasy, and instead got a post-apocalyptic dystopia somewhere along the way, with a smattering of time travel that, honestly, I couldn’t bring myself to read The Fate of the Tearling and understand. New York 2140 also dragged and dragged and dragged, when I expected an enlightening look at climate change and the impact on a major world hub. Instead, I got descriptions of fancy boats.

 

Worst Premise, Best Execution
Kate: Fledgling by Octavia Butler. I picked it up out of an academic curiosity–oh, let’s see what Octavia Butler has to say about vampires–and it turned out to be one of my favorite reads of the year.
Corey: I don’t think anyone was begging for another reimagining of Pride & Prejudice, so Curtis Sittenfled’s Eligible was particularly delightful as a modern-day Jane Austen fable set in Cincinnati.

 

The Shock and Awe Award for Most Surprising Read 
Kate: Holy. Shit. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I’m not sure what I expected, but this book lived up to the hype. Nuanced and mind-opening. This book broke my heart. (more…)

December 27, 2017 at 9:39 am Leave a comment

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