It may be still fifty degrees and rainy here, but I heard that the Midwest is having a considerable amount of snow right now. In preparation I’m having a gingerbread cupcake, courtesy dear friend Pascale, and getting ready for the big chill. Let it snow!
Etiquette and Espionage, Gail Carriger (5/5)
Confession: I started reading this in February in Barnes and Noble when I had an hour to kill in Union Square, and I’ve been meaning to pick it up again since. As it turns out, I did and finished it in a few days. I’m a huge Gail Carriger fan (can’t say enough about her Parasol Protectorate series) and naturally fell in love with this book immediately. It’s a fun, witty start to a series in the same vein and universe as the Protectorate, and the two smartly go hand-in-hand at several turns. You don’t have to have read the adult series to get the YA, which I think is the point, but they overlap in a few great ways and I’d recommend reading both if you’re a fan. Neither is really too far a stretch from the other—one is about society steampunk finishing school and the other is about society steampunk life, so there isn’t too sharp a difference. Either way, if you think you might like this even a little bit, read it—you will.
Assassination Vacation, Sarah Vowell (3/5)
This is a good book. It’s an interesting book. It’s exactly what you think it’s going to be. I just didn’t like it as much as most people seem to, and it took me nearly the whole month to read. I read Unfamiliar Fishes, her new book about the US annexation of Hawai’I, a few months ago and loved it, and to be honest, I was really disappointed that I didn’t like this one half as much. I don’t have much love for US history, so that might be part of it, but on the whole, this one just wasn’t for me. It’s fun and a good book, so I’d recommend it—I’m not sure why it didn’t work for me, but I seem to be the exception rather than the norm. Anyway, I can’t say I didn’t come out of this book knowing a lot more about presidential assassinations, so that’s a great thing to say about it.
Orange is the New Black, Piper Kerman (4/5)
I’ve been meaning to read this one for a while, especially after devouring the Netflix series along with everyone else this summer, and it really didn’t disappoint. Obviously, it’s non-fiction and much less drama-filled than a TV series (though it’s easy to see where they found their inspiration), but as someone who really doesn’t know much about women’s prisons in the US, I found it fascinating. To be honest, I have never given much thought to the prison system in the US because it doesn’t directly affect me, but I have been thinking about it a lot in the weeks since I finished this. I’d probably give it a 5/5 if the last quarter of the book were longer, since it talks about Piper’s transfer to Chicago to testify in a major court case as part of her plea bargain. Here, she witnesses the horrific prison transport system and many other worse prisons, and this was what held my attention the most. Kerman acknowledges her experience and how it’s different from so many women of color who go through the system, but I found it fascinating all the same. If you liked the Netflix series or think this sounds interesting, you’ll probably like this quick non-fiction read.
Shiver, Maggie Stiefvater (2/5)
Not much to say about this first book in a series except that I probably won’t read the others. It falls into the supernatural romance YA genre, which is something I generally steer clear of, but I’d heard great things about Stiefvater so I gave it a shot. It’s pretty standard and there weren’t any real surprises, so if this is your jam, go to town. It just wasn’t mine. I’ve heard good things about her other series, though, so I would like to give that a shot since it was the premise rather than the writing that turned me off of this one.
The Circle, Dave Eggers (3.5/5)
I’ll admit that I bought into the hype of this one, especially at work—and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. Yes, it suffers terribly from assumed male author lionization and one of the big twists at the end I thought was obvious from the second it was introduced early on, but overall I really did enjoy this book. There are a lot of things Eggers didn’t quite get right, as I’m sure you’ve read online, but the one thing I think he did nail was the sense of being lost that Mae feels throughout the book. It’s true that he missed some of the finer points of social media, but he put Mae perfectly in the right situation and with the right reactions and relationships. The overarching theme that putting our lives online will destroy us was too heavy-handed, shockingly (or not), but what Eggers needed to get right, he did, and I read this book happily and over the course of one weekend. I haven’t read any other Eggers, nor do I feel inclined to, but I liked the Internet-themed premise of this one, and if that draws you in, you might like this one.
Allegiant, Veronica Roth (2/5)
The ending to this trilogy left me disappointed, if I’m completely honest (which I guess I am here, with a two-star rating). Divergent was fantastic, but it has always felt like the rush with which the other two came out really hurt the series. It’s a very typical YA action trilogy, in that the first book is the individual, the second book is the individual discovering the breakdown of the system, and the third book is the individual destroying and triumphing over the system. It can be done well, but I don’t think this was it, and it’s too bad. This last book was full of lukewarm sweeping generalizations that undermined an otherwise powerful message, and while with the religious undertones it was always going to end the way it did, I really felt like Roth hadn’t quite found the right plot. There is a way to make this ending work, and this wasn’t it. I want to recommend reading Divergent, since it is the strongest of the three, but leave it up to you whether you want to read the other two.
What did you read in November? Follow me on Goodreads to keep up with my books and updates.
A few weekends ago, Harry and I visited his college town in Massachusetts for an extended weekend vacation. He had an alumni event on Saturday, so I tagged along and we spent the weekend touring the surrounding town and enjoying the rural area.
Of course, we couldn’t leave without driving past Grand Central first. No, really, you have to drive past it to get where we were going, but I can’t say I minded the view, and I may have requested a slow down (that I did not get) to take this picture. Instead I took a series as we got closer, which when looked at in sequence seems like a terrifying stop-motion video.
Beyond that, though, we were free of the city and off into the wilds of non-city New York, which is one of my favorite general places to be. And once we’d dropped off Harry’s parents at their house upstate, we moved on to Mass., and it was one of the more beautiful and relaxing weekends of my life, I’m pretty sure.
You don’t see many skies that rival Oklahoma, and to be honest these weren’t quite there, but as you can see in the pictures below, they were pretty nice.
See? I wasn’t kidding around. So beautiful. That last picture is a snap of Harry’s favorite tree in his college town, and you can see why. It’s really stunning out in the field on its own. Great for pictures, at any rate.
There’s not really a lot to say that the pictures themselves can’t express. They are worth a thousand words, really, I suppose.
We’re off to his parents’ house upstate for the Thanksgiving holiday, so please enjoy your Thanksgiving muchly and be sure to follow me on Instagram if you’re interested in seeing more similar pictures. I guarantee you the balcony shot from their house over the river is worth it and it’s probably the first thing I’ll post tomorrow morning. Wish you were here!
It’s two days before Thanksgiving, and I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about it this year. I’ve lived in New York for a few weeks shy of two years, though it feels still like I just moved here, and things have changed for me so much in the last six months and in the last year.
When I moved here, I had no job, no friends, nothing except an unpaid executive assistantship (disguised as an internship, but that’s what it really was) and my savings account. After four months, the internship ended and I moved to Brooklyn from Westchester county, again sans job and with a smaller bank account balance. I started working “part time” for a fab lady retail company, by which I mean I was a part time employee working full time hours to scrape enough together to make ends meet. It wasn’t enough, though, and my parents paid my rent for five months until I got promoted and also a second job as a social media consultant/coordinator for a start-up. I’ll never be able to really tell them how much I appreciate their support. I basically spent most of that year killing myself working and not doing much else, because I still didn’t really have many friends. I did meet my permanent friends and Harry near the end of the year, but I would consider that the major high point of the year.
In January, I left my second job and in February became a manager for said fab lady retail company. I did that until September, at which point my dream job tapped me on the shoulder and said it was time. Here I am, three months into the job I moved to New York to get, and I have to say that I’m still blissfully happy, thrilled to be working in and learning about the book industry—a dream I’ve had literally since middle school. That’s also something I think I pitched in my interview, by the way—I really threw it all in there when I came in, knowing this might be my only shot at the industry, and I guess it worked.
To be honest, I spent most of this year killing myself working, too. But the difference is that I’ve been doing real jobs. Working in retail management may not be most people’s dream job, and honestly it wasn’t mine, either, but I loved a lot of things about it and I learned a lot about effectiveness and efficiency, all of which translated easily to my current position. And now I’m working full time in a job that I love, with real pay and real benefits
I didn’t think this was going to be one of those Thanksgiving posts, but I guess it is.
The last two years have been hard, but I knew it would get better—and it has. I have friends and family who love me, most importantly, but I also have the job I want and I’m living in the city I love. It doesn’t hurt that I have two cats now, either. I know I had a lot of help getting here, and I’m thankful beyond belief for that. I know I talk about the last couple of years of my life a lot, but they really meant something to me and I think it’s important to talk about the hard times as well as the good ones (As an aside, talk about your feelings! Don’t keep them inside and be sad!).
But let’s get back to the now. The hard times are, for now, over. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been incredibly lucky and am having one of the best years ever that has to end sometime, but then I think about how bad the last six or so years were and wonder if this is my good time. I think it must be. I think I deserve it.
The office is slow this week because people are taking vacation to visit their loved ones for the holiday (and hopefully get out before this alleged huge storm hits). People here love to take vacation and to encourage others to take vacation, and I love that. People here genuinely want everyone to be happy, from the top down. It’s bizarre and like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Working for a major book publisher means being surrounded by people who are thrilled to be directly impacting the industry, and thrilled to be doing it every day.
There are good days and there are less good days, but there aren’t really bad days here. Maybe those are to come, but I’ve yet to run into people who were having a really bad day. It’s easy to have a good day when everyone has a common goal and the industry is doing well, finally, and effective visible change is happening every day. It’s easy to have a good day when you wake up and go to your dream job every day. It’s easy to have a good day.
Anyway, all of this to say that I’m happy, I’m what I would consider successful, and I’m ready for 2014. Let’s do the damn thing.
naturally, the first thing we’ve gotten fully set up is the main bookshelf. I say main because we have two or three other bookshelves, but this is the important one. we unloaded four boxes of books onto it, and I’m feeling pretty great about it right now.
to quote harry, “it looks like people have been picking and adding for years–like they’ve always been like that. I love it.” which is exactly what I wanted to hear, since that’s exactly what I was going for.
the apartment is almost there–I think one more weekend will do it, and then I’ll have some very early stages pictures for you.
in the meantime, happy friday! look for the weekend jam tomorrow morning!
happy weekend, friends! it really still feels like it just finished being last weekend – I can’t believe we’re here already.
but you know what that means–it’s time for the move! that’s right – harry, michelle and I will be packing up all of our things and putting them in a truck and moving them literally around the corner to a bigger, better apartment. everybody clap hands and get excited! I’ll try to post some pics asap.
that said, here’s your weekend jam – best described as pop-folk-indie-synth. I had a great time making the list so I hope you enjoy it!
have a wonderful weekend!
can it really be that time again? I’m not sure what it was about this week but it absolutely flew by.
the weekend jam this week is a bit slower paced than last week and has a little more folk jam. I think it’s because I’ve been so tired this whole week, for whatever reason, so I hope you all have as much of a chilled and relaxing weekend as I plan to have.
of course, I’m signing a lease on Sunday and working at my second job, but other than that I plan to totally do nothing of significance and enjoy it so much.
- unbelievers – vampire weekend
- put the gun down – zz ward
- the walker – fitz and the tantrums
- oh henry – the civil wars
- stars – grace potter and the nocturnals
- same old same old – the civil wars
- heavy feet – local natives
- sleep alone – two door cinema club
- move like u stole it – zz ward
- i sold my bed, but not my stereo – capital cities
I’m currently reading FIVE DAYS AT MEMORIAL by sheri fink and I can’t say enough good things about it. it’s a non-fiction title about the first five days at a major hospital in new orleans after hurricane katrina, and it is absolutely devastating. it’s a disaster narrative, the tale of the desperation and hopelessness in a hospital that had lost all power during a major storm, with almost no communication to or from the outside world.
currently I’m only about a third of the way through it (are we hooked up on goodreads?) but I’m absolutely in love with it and I think it’s something everyone should read. it’s not easy nor is it light, but it’s worth the read.
what are you up to this weekend?