Literary Links: 2/22 – 2/28

Hello lovelies! This week I’m trying out a new feature called Literary Links! Each Friday I’ll be rounding up five fascinating bookish news stories from the week.

1. The VIDA numbers are in! Each year VIDA (Women in Literary Arts) surveys the gender disparity of literary publications, tallying book reviewers, authors reviewed, bylines, and names on the cover. It’s depressing to see how male-dominant many of these publications are (I’m looking at you, The Atlantic, New York Review of Books, London Review of Books, New Republic, and The Nation, with your 75%+ male staffs), but it’s also heartening to see other publications move closer to equality (Tin House rocks the count with 56% women, and Paris Review is the most improved from last year’s count). Continue reading

February Reads

feb reads 2Happy 28th my lovely readerkins! I don’t know about you, but I am so glad February is coming to an end. It’s been a long, freezing month, and I’m ready for the gradual warming March will (hopefully) bring.

This was not a great month for me. I hit a reading AND blogging slump. I didn’t have much reading time, I couldn’t finish a book that I had really been enjoying, and I lost all motivation to write about anything. None of the literary fiction on my shelves appealed to me; it all seemed to heavy, too serious. I needed something light and fun. By the end of the month, I turned the reading slump around by gobbling up Fangirl, a cute YA read outside my usual comfort zone. Still not quite back to normal, I decided to ignore the March galleys I “should” be reading and grabbed The Word Exchange, which isn’t coming out until April. But it was just what I needed! It’s funny and clever and a love letter to language. Continue reading

Book Review: Wake by Anna Hope

Book Review: Wake by Anna HopeWAKE
by Anna Hope

Fiction; Historical
Random House; Feb. 11, 2014
Hardcover; 304 pages
Source: Received from publisher for review

Set in London in 1920, during the weeks leading up the the second anniversary of Armistice Day and the burial of the unknown soldier, Wake tells the stories of three women whose lives are touched by WWI. Although these women’s lives seem separate from one another at first, connections between them are slowly revealed throughout the novel. Continue reading

Ten Books I Read Because of Other Bloggers

tttHappy Tuesday, ducklings! Like a true blue book nerd, I love a good list.

This week for Top Ten Tuesday, the folks over at The Broke and the Bookish are letting bloggers pick any past topic. Last week I listed things I love about being a reader and blogger, and that topic inspired this week’s choice! I’m listing books I read because of other bloggers!

I’ve probably said it a million times, but I’ve read so many books based on the glowing recommendations of other bloggers. Your reviews have led me to pick up so many books I may not have considered or heard of otherwise. Thank you all for writing so passionately and convincingly about the books you love! Your reviews have brought so many wonderful books into my life! Continue reading

Negative Reviews: To Post or Not to Post?

negative reviewsThere’s been a lot of discussion about whether or not to post negative reviews floating around the bookish internet lately. Buzzfeed announced that its new Books section won’t feature negative reviews. Book Riot dodges the issue by calling their book writing “recommendations” instead of reviews. When Books on the Nightstand discussed why they only talk about books they like on the show, Michael Kindness said people don’t go to bookstores and ask booksellers what books they didn’t like. To some extent, I understand and agree with this reasoning. However, I don’t think a book blog is the same thing as a shelf talker. I think there is value in negative reviews.

One of the things I love about the book blogosphere is the rich diversity in opinion. I enjoy seeing two bloggers I respect approach the same book in totally different ways. It helps me think more critically of books I’ve already read, and it helps me decide whether I want to read a book I haven’t read yet. I think it would be really monotonous to read only positive reviews. Continue reading

Why I Love Being a Reader and Blogger

ttt

Happy Tuesday, turtledoves! Like a true blue book nerd, I love a good list.

This week for Top Ten Tuesday, the folks over at The Broke and the Bookish ask bloggers to list ten reasons why they love being a reader and blogger, and the timing for this topic is kind of perfect. I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately. I’ve only finished two books so far this month (and one of them was a graphic novel), and I’m having trouble finding the motivation to blog. I’m excited that this list is forcing me to think about what I love about both reading and blogging! Continue reading

Literally… The Best App for Readers

Howdy readers!

One of the things I love about the bookish internet is that it provides interesting ways to interact with other readers, track my reading, and keep an eye on my TBR. Although Goodreads seems to be the reigning app for readers (and oh how I love it), there’s room in the bookternet for other literary social networks. Enter Literally! It’s still in beta testing — many features are a bit faulty or haven’t launched yet — but it’s off to a great start.

literally Continue reading

Reading Romance for the First Time

Literary Love 2014 is a week dedicated to all things book love-ish. Link up any post showing love to a book, author, etc and feel free to grab our button & use our hashtag, #LiteraryLove14.

Read more about this event at Love at First Book

I have never been one for romance. I don’t read romance novels, and I prefer the literary fiction I read to be light on the love. Call me a cynic, but boy-meets-girl stories usually just make me feel eye-roll-y. But one of my reading resolutions for this year is to read more diversely. I intended this to mean I would read more literature by people who aren’t white Americans, but it SHOULD also mean trying out genres I’m unfamiliar with. When I learned about the Literary Love event, I decided it was the perfect time to try reading a romance novel! I can’t TELL you how far out of my comfort zone this was, but I did it!

I’m a long-time listener of The Bookrageous Podcast (It’s so great; if you aren’t already listening to it, you need to go download a few episodes right about now. I promise you’ll be hooked), and one of the hosts, Rebecca Schinsky of Book Riot, has recently been dabbling in romance, herself. Her endorsements of Sarah MacLean’s books made me really interested — mostly because she promised that MacLean doesn’t use silly words for body parts. I may be willing to try reading romance, but I can’t handle bad euphemisms like “throbbing member.”

A Rogue by Any Other NameSo. I took the plunge and bought an e-copy of A Rogue by Any Other Name, the first book in the Rule of Scoundrels series. (It was only $4!) And I had thoughts about it.

Okay, so we’ve got Penelope, a 28-year-old woman in 1830s England. Many years before, her fiance threw her off for a love match, and it was the HUGEST scandal. She’s now close to becoming a spinster, and her father is desperate for her to get married. To entice the menfolk, he adds an important estate to her dowry — an estate that had belonged to Penelope’s childhood friend, Michael Bourne, until he lost it gambling as a young man.

Bourne, now a co-owner of London’s most exclusive gaming hell (yes, hell), is desperate to get his estate back, and he’s willing to go to any lengths to restore it. He essentially forces Penelope to marry him, threatening her with ruination if she doesn’t. The two marry, but time has changed their relationship; their childhood friendship is long gone. Bourne has been hardened by the world and refuses to see their marriage as anything but a business transaction. Penelope, who at 28 is still hoping for a love match, is unhappy with her greatly changed, destructive husband.

Of course, the couple has some steamy sexy times, and they actually get to know each other again, and their sham of a marriage transforms into a beautiful, passionate one.

Alrighty. Thoughts. I didn’t care much for the writing style. Things like this tend to make me giggle and roll my eyes and remember this REALLY emo guy I knew in college:

“She hadn’t looked away until he had turned onto the main road.

He knew because he’d watched her, too.

She’d been his friend.

When he’d still believed in friends.

I just can’t take it seriously. But how seriously are you supposed to take a romance novel? Writing like that turned me off, but I’ve gotta say the sex writing was pretty good. (I may or may not be blushing as I write this.) Like Rebecca says, there are no silly euphemisms, and there wasn’t anything that made me feel squirmy, like I sometimes come across in literary fiction. (I’m looking at you, Murakami.)

I also really liked MacLean’s portrayal of her heroine. Penelope is smart, brave, and witty. After being dumped by her fiance, she refused four more suitors, holding out for the love she believed she deserved. She knows what she wants, and she’s willing to wait for it. I also loved the way she stood up to Bourne’s jerk-facedness at the beginning of her marriage. Now that she’s married, and married to such a scandalous man, she wants to live a life of adventure. I thought it was pretty kick-ass, and I enjoyed reading about such a strong woman in the Victorian era setting.

At the same time, though, I got really annoyed with Bourne. Like, why do you have to be such a jerk? You can’t even entertain the POSSIBILITY that your marriage doesn’t have to be a miserable thing? Give it a chance, you used to be friends, there’s no reason for you to hate each other! UGH.

So, uh, there you have it. I’m glad I tried reading romance, but it confirmed my belief that it’s not really my thing. It was a fun romp, but it turns out I’m too much of a snob to fully enjoy it. I may read some more Sarah MacLean occasionally, but I don’t think it’s going to become part of my regular reading.

Literary Love: Reading Romance for the First Time

Literary LoveLiterary Love 2014 is a week dedicated to all things book love-ish. Link up any post showing love to a book, author, etc and feel free to grab our button & use our hashtag, #LiteraryLove14.

Read more about this event at Love at First Book

I have never been one for romance. I don’t read romance novels, and I prefer the literary fiction I read to be light on the love. Call me a cynic, but boy-meets-girl stories usually just make me feel eye-roll-y. But one of my reading resolutions for this year is to read more diversely. I intended this to mean I would read more literature by people who aren’t white Americans, but it SHOULD also mean trying out genres I’m unfamiliar with. When I learned about the Literary Love event, I decided it was the perfect time to try reading a romance novel! I can’t TELL you how far out of my comfort zone this was, but I did it! Continue reading

Book Review: The Free by Willy Vlautin

Book Review: The Free by Willy VlautinTHE FREE
by Willy Vlautin

Fiction
Harper Perennial; Feb. 4, 2014
Paperback; 320 pages
Source: TLC Book Tours

We all know I have a weakness for novels about separate characters whose lives are connected in some way. In The Free, Willy Vlautin tells the stories of three men and women who are trying to get by in a difficult world.

Leroy is an Iraq War veteran living in a group home. A war injury left him brain damaged, and he struggles with the simplest tasks. He takes a drastic measure to escape the misery of his existence, drawing the reader into a dream world inside his head. Continue reading