Monthly Archives: January 2014

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

“I was amazed that what I needed to survive could be carried on my back. And, most surprising of all, that I could carry it. That I could bear the unbearable. These realizations about my physical, material life couldn’t help but spill over into the emotional and spiritual realm. That my complicated life could be made so simple was astounding. It had begun to occur to me that perhaps it was okay for that I hadn’t spent my days on the trail pondering the sorrows of my life, that perhaps by being forced to focus on my physical suffering some of my emotional suffering would go away.”

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Animal Cracker by Andi Brown

Animal Cracker

Andi Brown sent me a free paperback copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and I will do my best to uphold my part of the deal. Brace yourselves.

Animal Cracker takes place primarily at the fictional Animal Protection Organization in Boston. Our heroine is Diane, a twenty-four-year-old just starting a job as the communications director of the APO. Her boss, Hal, is a cartoonish nightmare vision of a horrible boss – he’s patronizing, vaguely misogynistic, lazy, and stupid. The book follows Diane and her coworkers as they try to take down their terrible boss. Hijinks and attempts at humor follow, accompanied by unlicensed shelters and dying homeless animals. It’s a weird blend, to say the least.

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Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf

Between the Acts

Maybe it’s because this is technically unfinished (a forward from Leonard Woolf states that although the draft was completed, Virginia Woolf died before she was able to make final corrections and revisions, so it was sent to the printers as is), but this one didn’t strike me quite in the way Woolf’s other books have. But that’s not to suggest that it isn’t good – remember, this is Virginia Woolf, so when I say that it didn’t strike me as much as her other ones, I only mean that this book felt like a minor blow to the head, rather than feeling like I was being remade from the inside out.

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Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations by Georgina Howell

Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations

It’s official: Gertrude Bell is now my favorite historical figure (don’t worry, Nell Gywnn – you’re still first in my heart) and it has become my personal mission to make sure that everyone knows who she is. My apologies to everyone who has a conversation with me in the next six months, because I will find a way to mention Gertrude Bell and then get mad at you for not knowing who she is.

Gertrude Bell is commonly referred to as “the female Lawrence of Arabia” and that really explains in a nutshell how she’s been screwed over by history. If we lived in a world of gender equality, T.E. Lawrence would be called “the male Gertrude Bell” and Gertrude would have the four-hour award-winning biopic that everyone’s dad loves. But we don’t live in that world, dear readers, and because of this, T.E. Lawrence is a household name and Gertrude Bell is a footnote in his story (guess how many times Bell is featured in Lawrence of Arabia? Fuckin’ ZERO, and I’m still mad about it).

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Mary Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser

Mary Queen of Scots

I’ve never read a nonfiction book about Mary Stuart, and the last (and, I think, only) fiction book I’ve read about her was back in elementary school, when I read her book from the Royal Diaries series. (I think it was called Mary, Queen of Scots: Queen Without a Country or something like that, and I remember not liking it very much.) What I knew about her going into this book was taken almost entirely from Elizabeth-centric history books, which obviously don’t always show Mary in the best light. I’ve always been staunchly Team Elizabeth, but I decided it was time I gave Mary a fair shot. (confession a: I mostly decided to start reading this book now because I have become obsessed with the CW show Reign, which I will discuss further at the end of the review because oh my god, you guys, and confession b: I was tempted to write this review as a fourteen-year-old Reign fan who was OUTRAGED at all the things that were missing from the show. But I digress)

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