The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

The Queen of the Night

Well.

That didn’t go AT ALL like I was expecting it to.

I saw some reviews of this floating around on Goodreads a few weeks ago, and when I decided to look up a plot description, it sounded like everything I wanted from a novel. The story begins with Lilliet Berne, star soprano of the Paris Opera, being offered an original role in a new opera. But as she reads the story, she realizes that the opera is based on her own life, and exposes secrets from her past that she wants to stay buried. There are only four people who know Lilliet’s secrets, and she decides to find out who’s working behind the scenes to expose her. As she does, the reader follows her on her journey and learns how Lilliet went from orphan farm girl, to circus equestrian, to courtesan, to imperial spy, and ended as an opera singer.

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Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny by Holly Madison

Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny

Or, as I called the book in my head, Everyone is a Whore Except Me and Here’s Why. Better yet: The Truth About Kettle: An Autobiography by Pot.

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Thrones, Dominations (Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane #1) by Dorothy Sayers and Jill Patton Walsh

Thrones, Dominations (Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane #1)

*WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS*

I actually finished reading this book over a month ago, and even though I meant to write a review immediately, I obviously kind of forgot about that. So I apologize in advance, because I’m going to be a little fuzzy on the details.

First, background: Dorothy Sayers left this book unfinished, having abandoned it in 1936. She left some fragments of the novel behind, and Jill Paton Walsh was recruited to finish the book in 1998. It’s not clear how much of the book is Sayers and how much is Walsh, but it feels primarily the latter, and I’m try to articulate why I felt this way.

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Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, One Tiny Apartment Kitchen: How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job, and Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living by Julie Powell

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen: How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job, and Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living

In the immortal words of Michael Bluth: “I don’t know what I expected.”

I knew what I was getting into with this, I really did. It is a well-documented fact that Julie Powell is a delusional asshole (if you need a good laugh, look at the reviews for Cleaving, her second book – they all essentially boil down to “Wow, so turns out Julie Powell is horrible”), and even if I hadn’t been aware of this, there’s the fact that whenever I watch the movie adaptation of Julie and Julia, I skip the Julie parts because even Amy Adams, who is literal human sunshine, cannot make that woman appealing in any sense of the word.

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Wolf-Speaker (Immortals #2) by Tamora Pierce

Wolf-Speaker (Immortals, #2)

It’s been over a year since I read the first book in Tamora Pierce’s Immortals quartet, Wild Magic. I remember enjoying it almost more than Pierce’s Alanna books (which will always be first in my heart, of course) but other than that, I started this book with only vague memories of the plot and characters of the previous installment.

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The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath by Sylvia Plath

The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath by Sylvia Plath

“So it all moves in a pageant towards the ending, it’s own ending. Everywhere, imperceptibly or otherwise, things are passing, ending, going. And there will be other summers, other band concerts, but never this one, never again, never as now. Next year I will not be the self of this year now. And that is why I laugh at the transient, the ephemeral; laugh, while clutching, holding, tenderly, like a fool his toy, cracked glass, water through fingers. For all the writing, for all the invention of engines to express & convey & capture life, it is the living of it that is the gimmick. It goes by, and whatevere dream you use to dope up the pains and hurts, it goes. Delude yourself about printed islands of permanence. You’ve only got so long to live. You’re getting your dream. Things are working, blind forces, no personal spiritual beneficent ones except your own intelligence and the good will of a few other fools and fellow humans. So hit it while it’s hot.”

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Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood

Stone Mattress: Nine Tales

Here’s an interesting thing I noticed: on the cover photo that I found for this review, the full title is Stone Mattress: Nine Tales. But my copy (the paperback version, with the bright yellow cover) reads Stone Mattress: Nine Wicked Tales. I’m not sure why there’s a difference in the titles, but I’m glad I have the wicked version.

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(belated) Top Ten Books of 2015

Yeah, I know. This is the latest year in review entry in Loud Bookish Type’s history, and I apologize for that. So why am I finally getting around to recapping my favorite books of 2015, almost halfway through January? A couple reasons, honestly.

First and foremost, I’ve been in a writing rut ever since I finished NaNoWriMo in November. When I say “finished”, I mean finished in the sense that I got to fifty thousand words, but the story itself is far from over and I still don’t know how it’s going to end, so my coping mechanism for that problem has been to just avoid the draft entirely, and this slacking-off has affected my book reviews as well. But my Sims families are doing extremely well, so there’s that. Although maybe things are starting to turn around – last night I sat down and banged out two thousand more words in the NaNo draft, so I might be getting over my holiday slump. Finally sitting down and writing this entry seemed like a good way to keep that going.

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God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215 by David Levering Lewis

God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215

It took me a very long time to finish this book. I would stick with it for a few weeks, and then take a break from the book to read a novel or something. All together, I think I read five or six other books while trying to get through God’s Crucible. The problem wasn’t that the material was boring – I’ve been wanting to read a good, detailed history of pre-Crusades Islam for a long time, so I was really excited to find this – but it’s dense. Important historical figures appear and disappear from the narrative with very little notice, and Lewis expects you to keep up with the scores of characters and locations contained in this history. I don’t recommend trying to read this book on your morning train ride, is what I’m saying.

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The Girl With All the Gifts by MR Carey

The Girl with All the Gifts

“Her name is Melanie. It means ‘the black girl’, from an ancient Greek word, but her skin is actually very fair, so she thinks maybe it’s not such a good name for her. She likes the name Pandora a whole lot, but you don’t get to choose. Miss Justineau assigns names from a big list; new children get the top name on the boys’ list or the top name on the girls’ list, and that, Miss Justineau says, is that.
There haven’t been any new children for a long time now. Melanie doesn’t know why that it. There used to be lots; every week, or every couple of weeks, voices in the night. Muttered orders, complaints, the occasional curse. A cell door slamming. Then, after a while, usually a month or two, a new face in the classroom – a new boy or girl who hadn’t even learned to talk yet. But they got it fast.
Melanie was new herself, once, but that’s hard to remember because it was a long time ago. It was before there were any words; there were just things without names, and things without names don’t stay in your mind. They fall out, and then they’re gone.”

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