Sunday, November 8, 2015

MiniReview//Primates of Park Avenue

Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin Goodreads | Amazon

Published by Simon & Schuster June 2, 2015

256 Pages

Source: Library

Like an urban Dian Fossey, Wednesday Martin decodes the primate social behaviors of Upper East Side mothers in a brilliantly original and witty memoir about her adventures assimilating into that most secretive and elite tribe.

After marrying a man from the Upper East Side and moving to the neighborhood, Wednesday Martin struggled to fit in. Drawing on her background in anthropology and primatology, she tried looking at her new world through that lens, and suddenly things fell into place. She understood the other mothers' snobbiness at school drop-off when she compared them to olive baboons. Her obsessional quest for a Hermes Birkin handbag made sense when she realized other females wielded them to establish dominance in their troop. And so she analyzed tribal migration patterns, display rituals, physical adornment, mutilation, mating practices, extra-pair copulation, and more. Her conclusions are smart, thought-provoking, and hilariously unexpected.

Every city has its Upper East Side, and in Wednesday's memoir, readers everywhere will recognize the strange cultural codes of powerful social hierarchies and the compelling desire to climb them. They will also see that Upper East Side mothers want the same things for their children that all mothers want: safety, happiness, and success;and not even sky-high penthouses and chauffeured SUVs can protect this ecologically released tribe from the universal experiences of anxiety and loss. When Wednesday's life turns upside down, she learns how deep the bonds of female friendship really are.

Intelligent, funny, and heartfelt, Primates of Park Avenue lifts a veil on a secret, elite world within a world: the exotic, fascinating, and strangely familiar culture of privileged Manhattan motherhood.

I know there has been some controversy over Wednesday Martin’s Primates of Park Avenue. I can’t promise all of it is truthful, factual, or not misleading, however I can promise all of it is entertainingly clever. There were the moments of disbelief about the heavily hyped about wife bonus [link], but also some incredible humanity about Wednesday’s lady friend support system. Having lived in New York, I can totally envision the exclusiveness of the Upper East Side. Yet, this book also is a chunk of the cultural phenomena that opened up after Gossip Girl. But instead of focusing on the privileged youth, Primates of Park Avenue is about the neo-upper class. Wednesday and her husband themselves are the neo-upper class; they climbed the socioeconomic ladder to be able to afford the Upper East Side. Regardless of the story I also like the systematic organization of the book-- it was divided into specific incidents with the evolutionary anthropological part and then the memoir part. Overall a quick read unlacing the upper class.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

MiniReview: Queen of the Tearling

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen Amazon | Goodreads

Published by Harper July 8, 2014

448 Pages

Source: Library 

An untested young princess must claim her throne, learn to become a queen, and combat a malevolent sorceress in an epic battle between light and darkness in this spectacular debut—the first novel in a trilogy.

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom's haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea's forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea's nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen's Guard—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.

Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen's vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen's Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as "the Fetch."

Kelsea's quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea's journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her.

Queen of the Tearling seemed to be a bright new comet when I started reading it; slowly I lost much momentum reading the book. Writing this review just a week after finishing it I feel extremely disconnected. The book was fairly tense always waiting and pondering about itself, yet never progressing in plot. 

  • The world was a mediocre fantasy one-- empires are feuding, but there is some unique story of how William Tear left America for a new world. 
  • The book shifts in and out of a fantasy and science fiction narrative making it difficult to  follow with the power of the jewels and the backstory. 
  • Instead of having the romance build up with tension to a grand finale Kelsea and the Fetch never sorted themselves out. 
This book always quite rapidly slowed my reading to a near grinding halt as I simply tried to get through it. Do not recommend. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

On Elegance & Other Notes

It's been twenty days since I posted, 20. That number is a little boggling. I haven't been active on Twitter. I haven't even read fifty books yet this year. This makes me feel a bit like a failure in terms of the blogosphere. Alas, I can't change the past yet (perhaps scifi will change this). I feel a wee bit dejected by my lack of commitment. I've been searching too hard in my other areas of life for a bit meaning. It's time to accept the fact that giving up blogging is not viable, but neither is being an almost prolific blogger like Amber.

New Found Ponderings

  • Currently reading Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo and love the face the page sides are black. 

  • Short reviews will be coming out soon. (Queen of Tearling & Primates of Park Ave)
  • Will aim for about 5 posts a month. 
  • Elegance is about find simplicity and cohesiveness is design and habit. 
  • Whimsicalness is an aspiration. 
Sorry for all the glum.

Friday, October 9, 2015

What I'm Reading

NEWS FLASH, just in! I don't just read books *gasp*.  You can probably guess that like a lot of people I read a combination of my different forms and mediums. Let me run you through an example, like this week.

Books- I do read them
This week I finished The Queen of Tearling by Erika Johansen after a lady at the bookstore recommended it. I couldn't resist a classic YA, but it had some abrasive edges about it that were ehh. I've got the sequel The Invasion of the Tearling on my TBR, but first I'm reading NeuroTribes. It's a medical case history and cultural analysis of learning disabilities especially autism and how that plays into diversity theories in evolution. I've got a pretty varied reading list and like to jump around a lot most of the time. The one thing that is in the way a lot is required reading in English class. Thankfully, it's been mostly short stories lately, so simply easy breezy items. I find that there are some weeks I can't let go of my books, while there are other I could do without them. I do most of my reading during the day waiting for other people or on my commute to school.

In the morning I like to get a low down on what is happening in the world, which the New York Times Morning Briefing does a pretty good job on. The news is basic and written in easy, couple sentence bullet points. The Skimm is my other morning newsletter, but this one has a more conversational tone and more culture news than the New York Times. It helps create a good balance between the two. Ann Friedman Newsletter is perhaps my favorite one. It's a roundup of what one of my most respected journalist/podcast host is reading this week and it's a good feminist weekly update. Usually on Fridays I open a bunch of tabs from the newsletter and spend the weekend going through it. The Phillipian Newsletter is a set of articles from one of the most prolific student newspapers in the US. It's only a few articles, but they are fresh and add a dose of real-life-teen to my reading.

I adore the sciences, so when I can I try to read Nature-- one of the most respected science journals. I either read online or a magazine. The articles are nice and clean, but the studies are a little dry and do require a level of concentration. Perhaps the publication that fascinates me the most is The New Yorker. I don't have a subscription, yet try to read the parts I love the most at my school library. The pages long articles are so well researched, selected, and eloquent, especially with all their grammatical quirks.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Room by Book//The Girl at Midnight

Carpenter Coffee Table from George Nakashima by Miriam Carpenter
Local Branch Library Cart (Grey) from The Land of Nod
Dillard Bookcase from Paul Michael Company
Sussy Wall Clock from Fab by NoDa Design Studio
The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Gray (book cover)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Review: The Girl at Midnight

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey Goodreads | Amazon

Published by Delacorte Press April 28, 2015

357 Pages

Source: Library

Bookologists Analysis: Wings meet dragons plus a hint of teenage people. Another steady YA fantasy that is easy to get through.

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

I first caught The Girl at Midnight on a blog post and was in need of a solid fantasy book. Often I need a few books to fall back on, and The Girl at Midnight does that for me. There is a love triangle, strong female friendship, and an orphan girl. Yet it isn't a rags to riches story where the orphan gets to be blessed by whoever she ends up with. It's a new spin on the classic take.

As always, the most important bond is friendship. Echo doesn't want to compromise her friends to be dragged down with her as she searches for the Firebird, rather she wants them to believe the worst of her for the greater good. Most of the book is about sacrificing and whether collateral damage is worth it to end the Avicen war. Echo might be a thief with looser morals than most, but she knows where it really counts.

I liked The Girl at Midnight and I'm interested where it will end up. The book sucked me in while reading it, but it feels more like a passing obsession. I'll be on the lookout for the second book to see how the arc of war continues. While it could've been a stand alone novel with a satisfying plot ending, there are a few loose strings left artfully undone.

Monday, September 14, 2015