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BeulerBookReview

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and read a book, you could miss it

Book Review: The Girl in The Spider’s Web

Author: David Lagercrantz
Genre: Crime Fiction
Page #: ~400
Easy to Einstein (1-5) Scale: 3
Overlaps: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson/ The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Many readers will wonder, when their eye catches this review, or when they amble past a shelf full of The Girl in the Spider’s Web, “How is this possible?” Stieg Larsson, the author of the internationally famous Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, did unfortunately pass in 2004. Upon his passing he had already written three of the books in the Millenium series. However, he had planned for this series to span ten books, and before he died he had been working furiously to finish the fourth book.

A few years after Larsson’s death, his estate management team hand-picked an author to complete this fourth book. They selected David Lagercrantz, a Swedish journalist and author who has also worked as a crime reporter. Many were skeptical of this decision and remained staunch that no author could replicate the dark, complex world of Larsson’s thrillers; however, after reading the newly released Girl in the Spider’s Web, it is clear that Lagercrantz was the right man for the job.
the girl in the spiders web

There are subtle differences between the two authors’ writing styles. Lagercrantz likes to describe unimportant particulars in unnecessary detail, such as noting the brand of water bottle characters choose to drink in particular scenes, or each street that comprises an intersection. However, apart from small writing quirks such as this, the dramatic, edge-of-your-seat, action-packed style that readers have come to expect from Larsson is just as omnipresent in this novel.

Characters alluded to in previous novels take on primary roles. The NSA, and thus the U.S., play a central part in Larssen’s plot for the first time ever. The Hacker Republic, Wasp, and everyone’s favorite vigilante, Salander, are up to their old tricks. Assassins, evil relatives, mathematical savants, paranoid professors, and inquisitive old Blomkvist all come together in this fast-paced thriller to create a novel that will draw you in from the first murder and keep you hooked until the final code is cracked.

And for readers who can’t get enough of that mysterious girl with the dragon tattoo, the ending of this novel leaves several loose ends that almost certainly portend a fifth novel.

Image Credits: http://www.ew.com/article/2015/09/09/girl-spiders-web-first-week-sales

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Book Review: Not That Kind of Girl

Author: Lena Dunham
Page #: ~260
Genre: Autobiography/Advice
Easy to Einstein (1-5) Scale: 2
Overlaps: #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso/ Yes Please by Amy Pohler

This book is ok. I usually don’t review books I don’t like because the entire point of this site is to provide book recommendations, and why would I recommend a book I didn’t like? But, I’m going to review Lena Dunham’s book anyways because I think a lot of people could like it. There are lots of redeeming qualities, and I admire Dunham’s voice and conviction, I just don’t think her story is all that interesting.

The key to most celebrity narratives is that they don’t take themselves too seriously. Think of Tina Fey, Amy Pohler, Mindy Kaling, and Aziz Ansari. They all have important things to say about self-confidence, hard work, relationships, and careers, but they acknowledge that, in the end, no matter how awesome they may be, they aren’t important politicians, religious figures, or major world leaders. The comedy in their work makes it clear that they are just as aware of this reality as their readers are. However, Lena Dunham, while certainly able to tell self-deprecating stories and view herself through a critical, objective lens takes her own story a little too seriously.lena dunham

Dunham writes that she is “a girl with a keen interest in having it all, and what follows are hopeful dispatches from the frontlines of the struggle.” I think girls with aspirations who understand the very real barriers of people telling us “our opinions aren’t needed” will value this aspect of struggle that is present in Dunham’s narrative. It’s both sad and encouraging to hear that someone with as influential a voice as Dunham’s has spent most of her life struggling to be heard and still encounters people who say her opinions don’t matter.

This book has elicited a lot of conflicted feelings. I worry that my saying that Dunham’s story doesn’t interest me counts as me adding my voice to the chorus that proclaims that female voices are less important.

However, I don’t think it does.

I think writing my opinion about the story of another opinionated female is exactly what Dunham would want. Dunham is great because she wants girl’s voices to be heard, whether that voice enjoys reading explicit details about her childhood and college sex life or not.

Image Credits:http://jezebel.com/what-kind-of-girl-is-this-girl-lena-dunhams-memoir-re-1642885076

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/24/books/lena-dunhams-memoir-ish-not-that-kind-of-girl.html?_r=0

 

 

Book Review: My Paris Dream

Author: Kate Betts
Page #: ~220
Genre: Autobiography
Easy to Einstein (1-5) Scale: 2
Overlaps: Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger 

I tend to be skeptical of autobiographies. Unless you’re the pope, a president, or Taylor Swift, I probably don’t want to know your life’s story. However, My Paris Dream came highly recommended by the reputable Cosmo Magazine, so I thought I would give it a try. If you’re interested in the fashion industry, journalism, or Paris, you will definitely enjoy this book. And if you don’t fall into one of those three categories, then honestly, who are you?

This autobiography written by Kate Betts tells the story of her rise from humble, bumbling intern in the big city of Paris to Editor-in-Chief of Harpers Bazaar in the even bigger city of New York. As Kate absorbs herself in French culture she experiences their traditions, their slang, and, most importantly, their style. Kate writes that, in Paris, “fashion is happening everywhere,” and as a young, beautiful fashion journalist in Paris, it is her job to cover it.paris skyline

After her days as an intern, Kate lands her first real job in Paris as a journalist for the famous fashion authority, Women’s Wear Daily. Kate’s dizzying lifestyle while working at W fills most of the book. You will read an account of her visit to Yves Saint Laurent and an amusing story of her first encounter with a young, obscure shoe designer, Christian Louboutin. Kate isn’t shy about admitting the mistakes she has made along the way, and this is one of the things that made her autobiography so compelling to me. She even admits that when she first met Christian Louboutin she thought he was an awful designer.

This book doesn’t merely discuss fashion in the City of Lights, but rather shows how, as one woman grows, falls in love, builds a career, and finds her true home, her style grows along with her. Fashion itself is not the focus of this story, but rather how one may “use it to reach further and to expand life’s feast.”

Book Review: Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Author: Thomas Hardy
Genre: Victorian Tragedy
Page #: ~415
Easy to Einstein (1-5) Scale: 3
Overlaps: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen/ Charlotte Temple by Susannah Rowson

Recently I have been reviewing extremely contemporary novels, so I thought it was high time for a Victorian throwback.

There are many avid Austen and Bronte fans, and for those of you who have already read every single one of the novels by those authors, I recommend expanding your list of much-loved Victorian writers to include Thomas Hardy, and specifically his controversial novel, Tess of D’Urbervilles.

When this novel was first released it was banned in many places and often only amended versions, with the scandalous parts appropriately pruned and sheared, were available to the general public. For this reason and many others Tess of the D’Urbervilles has continued to be a classic and point of fascination for literary enthusiasts like myself.Tess of the D'Urbervilles Thomas Hardy

Tess’s story would have been tragic for any reader in the 18th century, but for a modern reader this tragedy is infused with incredulity and frustration. Within the first seventy pages Tess is sexually assaulted. Thankfully, in modern society, it has become a generally accepted fact that a victim of sexual assault is blameless. The key phrase in that sentence however is “in modern society.” Unfortunately this attitude is not the one that characterized the society in which Tess lived.

Tess’s story is thus one of heartbreak, reconciliation, deception, and love. It is the story of a girl who is betrayed by a man she trusts and spends her whole life paying for his betrayal. As you read this book it is interesting to think about why it was banned. Is it because the book alludes to sexually violent acts? Or is it because Tess, despite the crime done against her, is portrayed by the author as infallibly good, virtuous, and undeserving of the punishment laid against her by society?

Was this book controversial because of the famous Victorian prudishness or because of a much more sadistic culture of victim-blaming that characterized the male-dominated Victorian era? For a glimpse into the darker underbelly of Victorian society that is often left unprobed by Jane Austen’s works, I highly recommend Tess of the D’Urbervilles.

Image Credits:http://mrmullen.pbworks.com/w/page/11313887/Tess%20of%20the%20D’Urbervilles

Book Store Review: City Lights

City Lights, a famous San Francisco Bookstore since 1953, is a long narrow building with creaky floors and the distinct smell of ink and inquiry. City Lights, despite its long-standing reputation as a must-see independent bookseller, doesn’t take itself too seriously. The store is filled with tongue-in-cheek literary humour and that sarcastic hipster flair which epitomizes San Franciso. While perusing the store I found a display labeled Erotica with multiple copies of a book titled “Pulp Friction.” A few bookshelves later, I came across a large framed poem, “13 Ways of Looking at a Burrito,” guaranteed to make any Wallace Stevens fan chuckle.IMG_9023

I visited City Lights with a group of students who had all relocated to California for the summer to take creative writing classes. Needless to say, releasing us in City Lights was like letting kids loose in a candy shop. At the time I was going through a brief obsession with random facts, so I purchased some random fact books and a beautiful collectors copy of my favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. Not exactly groundbreaking literary choices, but I think I was so overwhelmed by options that I choked. I also got a City Lights poster, complete with large yellow block letters proclaiming the merits of books and a sepia-print picture of the store from the 50s. I proudly toted this poster to college, and when most kids were hanging up pictures of shirtless men, half-naked women, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and vintage bands, I proudly tacked up by super-cool bookstore poster. The fire marshal later told me I had to take it down for safety reasons, but I honestly think the guy was just trying to help me out.independent booksellers san fran

Anyways, let me return to my discussion of City Lights. The store looks old. The window casings are peeling, and the street is dirty and cracked. I could tell that City Lights wasn’t lying when it said it had been around since 1953, but somehow this conspicuous age didn’t diminish the store but rather added to its character. One side of the store is covered with beautiful murals which enliven the crumbling bricks, and the old windows are emblazoned “City Lights” in a bright, gold that seems to stand out amidst the brown of the street.

This bookstore is a beautiful, historical piece of San Francisco and, just like the books it sells, its age does not diminish, but rather distinguishes it.

Comment if you’ve been to City Lights before! I would love to hear what your opinion of the store was, and feel free to check out the official City Lights site here.

Book Review: The Cove

Author: Ron Rash
Genre: Romance/Tragedy
Page #: ~250
Easy to Einstein (1-5) Scale: 2
Overlaps: Serena by Ron Rash/ No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

This book is named for the location in which the story transpires, and this title is extremely appropriate because the landscape, the mysterious, deep dark of the cove, permeates every aspect of the story.

Ron Rash infuses the prologue and first few chapters of the story with descriptions of the cove. His chilling explication of this cursed homestead stays with you for the rest of the novel like an unshakeable, damp chill.

“the cove was submerged in shadow even though it was midafternoon. He thought how little this place would change once underwater. Already dark and silent…he couldn’t imagine anything bright and colorful ever being here.”

This story follows the life of a girl, Laurel, who is forced to live her days in the isolation of the cove because the nearby townspeople believe she is a witch. Laurel was born with a port wine stain on her shoulder, and soon after her birth, both her parents perished, her brother was sent to war, and then he returned with a debilitating injury. This series of events convinces the townspeople that Laurel’s birth mark is a sign of dark magic, a curse to be avoided and exiled.

My youngest sister was born with a port wine stain, but hers covered about half of her face, not a small splotch on her shoulder. This made Laurel’s tragic story of romance, loneliness, and persecution in the gloam of the Cove even more affecting for me. However, despite the heavy emotions and deep exploration of human tendencies that occur in this book, The Cove is a surprisingly quick read. I was immediately drawn in by the prologue, and the book flows quickly and beautifully from that point. Reading this book in a day or two is totally manageable, and I highly recommend it.

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

As a blogger who has been writing for only a couple of weeks, being chosen for this award by a fellow book blogger means so much to me. It’s great to know that the content I’m putting out there is appreciated. Thank you so much TheBookishKhaleesi!

Here are the rules:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.

2. Put the award logo on your blog.

3. Answer the ten questions sent to you.

4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.

5. Nominate ten blogs.

Here are my ten answers!

1. What book got you into reading?
Eragon.

2. What are your top 3 auto-buy authors?
Jane Austen, Ron Rash, and Mindy Kaling.

3. What book release are you most excited for?
Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me! Check back in mid-September for a review of what I hope will be a great book!

4. Who is your favorite fictional character?
Mr. Darcy-duh! One of my major life goals is to get a french bulldog puppy and name him Mr. Darcy. It’s one of the few things about my future life plans that I have actually been able to nail down.mr. darcy hot

5. Do you prefer paperback or hardcover?
Hardcover!

6. Would you rather read a standalone or a series?
Standalone!

7. If you could have dinner with your favorite author who would it be?
Edgar Allen Poe! I would love to ask him about his experience at the University of Virginia and see exactly what a person who is able to create such creepy-crawly stories is like face-to-face.

edgar allen poe

8. How do you like to read? Physical or e-reader?
Physical Book! As I write this I’m actually wearing a shirt from Strand Books that includes a visual of “Why REAL Books are Great.”

9. If you could live in any fictional world, where would you choose?
Is this even a question? Obviously Harry Potter’s world.

10. And lastly, just for fun, what is your favorite TV show?
Gasp! Talking about TV on a book blog! If I must though, my favorite show is definitely The Office. the office michael scott

Now I get to ask my ten questions to be answered by the fabulous sisters I nominate. Here they are:

  1. Favorite book you’ve read in the last year?
  2. Favorite pet in fiction?
  3. Fictional character you would date?
  4. Name a movie you think was better than the book.
  5. In a similar vein, what book are you dying to see made into a movie?
  6. All time favorite book store? (Argue your case convincingly and maybe I’ll review it)
  7. Go-to reading spot?
  8. Favorite quote about reading or writing?
  9. A unique feature you would love to see on a reading/book blog?
  10. Why do you blog?

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for…my nominations for the award!

The Misfortune of Knowing

EmilyBooks

Book of Words

Books J’adore

Sorry Television

Honya’s Bookshelf

Sammie’s Book Nook

My Tiny Obsessions

Myriad Inklings

Felicia Sue Lynn Book Review

I can’t wait to read everyone’s responses!

New Page: Lit Chat

I’m excited to announce that Beuler Book Review is continuing to grow with the addition of a new page, Lit Chat. 

I like to think of my favorite quotes from books, authors, poems, and essays as literary chit chat, hence Lit Chat. Collecting quotes I’ve read and loved from over the years, in my opinion, is so much more than keeping a record of memorable phrases. Often these quotes, the moment I chose to note them and why they were particularly important or powerful to me at the time of reading them reminds me of what was going on in my life at the time I read them. By taking these quotes down on my Lit Chat Page they take on a role beyond the story I found them in and become part of my own life story.

Enjoy and feel free to add to the Literary Chit Chat in the comments section!

Tune In: Music that Goes Well with Reading

I know there are those of you who don’t like to listen to music while reading, but I encourage everyone who falls into this category to try some of my suggestions below. Believe it or not, I used to be in the absolute-silence-while-reading camp, but the albums, playlists, and artists listed below definitely changed my mind. These suggestions also work great for writing or doing homework if you are so inclined. Enjoy!

Pride and Prejudice Soundtrack: Personally my favorite music to listen to while reading is classical. The lack of lyrics and general beauty of the music just pairs perfectly with a book for me. However, when listening to a classical music playlist on Spotify, Pandora, or whichever streaming service you may use, there is always the risk of what I like to call the spastic violin. It may not always be a violin, but to my non-musically-inclined ear that’s what it sounds like. It’s that screechy, grating, hyper-crazy moment that sometimes happens in classical music that sounds like the whole orchestra is freaking out, and it just really kills your chill vibe. So, in order to listen to classical music that is beautiful, but has none of these vibe-killing elements, I recommend listening to the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack. Obviously I’m talking about the Keira Knightly version, not the old one.

Spotify’s “Your Favorite Coffeehouse” Playlist: If you click under browse, then mood, then click Your Favorite Coffeehouse, you will have found one of my favorite playlists. This playlist is perfect for lazy Saturday mornings. It goes well with hot tea, toast, wool socks, a cableknit sweater, and a much-loved book. It’s calm, upbeat, and the title is absolutely on-point. A couple of my favorite tracks on this playlist are “Everyone’s Got Something” by Perrin Lamb and “Song for the Rich” by Tristan Prettyman.

Sam Cooke: Ok so whether you’re reading or not, you should listen to this guy. He has hands-down the most beautiful voice I’ve ever heard. This American King of Soul has a crooning, soothing voice that is a perfect backdrop for your next novel. Of course, Cooke also has several upbeat songs like “Chain Gang” and “Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha” that aren’t ideal for reading. However, if you make yourself a playlist of some of his slower, softer songs like “You Send Me,” “What a Wonderful World,” “Cupid,” and “Nothing Can Change This Love for Me,” I promise you will have a reading-ready playlist.

Lana Del Ray: I love Lana, so I’m just going to shamelessly promote her right now. However, she also happens to be perfect background music for reading. Extra points if you have some Lana vinyl. Lana’s newest album, Ultraviolence, is definitely less upbeat than her first so it works better for reading music. However, several songs from her first album like “Lucky Ones” and “Bel-Air” still work pretty well to set that chill reading atmosphere.

Please comment if you have any suggestions of other great reading music!

Image Credits: UnSplash

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