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.