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✿Ring Around the Prose✿

Month

June 2016

Review: Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

Brief synopsis (from Goodreads): Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mold. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters into hiding fifteen years ago. One day a belligerent and powerful silk factory owner runs down their buggy, and a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their family farm. When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family—and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared.

Rating🌴  Island collection

Long story short: I really enjoyed this book and I’m very much looking forward to reading the sequel, Lady Cop Makes Trouble, in September.

The plot was riveting and contained a lot of what I like to read: an original and unpredictable story, a good amount of action and suspense, and character development. The pacing was slow at times, but I rather liked reading about the mundane details of the sisters’ day-to-day lives.

I instantly loved the Kopp sisters and how different they were from each other. As the oldest Constance is instinctively protective of her sisters; Norma is the introverted middle sister who is often distrustful of strangers; and Fleurette is a whimsical and imaginative seventeen-year-old, as trusting of others as Norma is wary.

constance kopp

The coolest part about this novel is that it’s a fictional account of real events and real people. Constance Kopp and her sisters actually existed, and the major events in this book actually happened. Says the author Amy Stewart, “My task as a writer was to take the public record—pieced together from newspaper articles, genealogical records, court documents, and other sources—and invent the rest of the story.” In fact the title of the novel comes from a newspaper headline about Constance Kopp that appeared in the Philadelphia Sun on November 23, 1914. Stewart also met with descendants of some of the characters in the book, who shared stories about their ancestors. I’m always eager to read books about women ahead of their times, and this one was extremely satisfying.

 

If you’ve read Girl Waits with Gun, what did you think? If you haven’t, would you?

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I got some new books, yay!

Hello, hello! After a very lazy week spent on the warm shores of sunny San Diego, I am back home, forced to confront the tedious reality of packing and moving out of my apartment. Booorriiingggg.

BUT! I did come back to two very exciting items waiting for me:

#1: A fourth book from my Facebook book chain! I have heard amazing things about Terry Pratchett and I’m very much looking forward to Equal Rites.

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#2: My third and final book from Book of the Month subscription box! World War II, spies, and the Galapagos Islands will make this novel a very interesting read indeed…
botm

Have any of you read these books? Let me know what you think!

A travel journal is a book, right?

This summer I’ll be traveling to Southeast Asia for a few weeks as a final huzzah! before starting my graduate studies in the fall. After making extensive lists about places to go, things to see, people to meet, and food to eat, I settled on Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, with a few days in Japan on the way over.

excited awesome screaming happy dance jonah hill

excited gif new life

If you’re susceptible to the wanderlust bug you will understand how difficult it was to cross places off my list. But I want to do justice to these remarkable countries and with only about a month to spare I rather not rush things (I know, I know…three countries in a month is still rushing things). If you have any recommendations or advice or suggestions, I would absolutely love to hear them.

There are a lot of things I still need to do before I go, but the one project I’m excited about is putting together my travel journal. I always take one with me whenever I go somewhere new so that I have a place to stash small souvenirs and jot down notes about my daily experiences that I can read later when I’m cooped up in the library studying.

Here’s a look at what I have so far:

Continue reading “A travel journal is a book, right?”

Review: The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall

Brief synopsis (back cover): When the four Penderwick sisters find themselves staying on a beautiful estate called Arundel for their summer holidays, they can’t wait to explore the wonderful, sprawling grounds. And even more wonderful is Jeffrey, son of Arundel’s owner—the perfect companion for their summer adventures. But Jeffrey’s mother is less than thrilled with the Penderwick sisters and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will. Won’t they?

Rating🌴  Island collection

Long story short: This book made me feel ALL THE FEELS. It reminded me of the summer vacations I took as a child, of days where I had no other responsibility than to have fun. It’s a short book and I don’t want to ruin anything, so I’m going to go for the bullet points:

  • There were more than ten characters and each one had a distinct voice and personality. By the time I finished it felt like I had known Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty my whole life.
  • The Penderwick sisters had wonderful chemistry. They laughed, cried, fought, and problem-solved together, and it was so fun to see them in action. I also loved their father and thought he was an awesome parental figure.
  • The book addressed mature themes (death, love, parenting) in a non-patronizing way.

The best children’s books are ones you can enjoy as an adult. The Penderwicks definitely falls in that category and I look forward to reading the rest of the series. Have you read anything by Jeanne Birdsall? What did you think?

Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Brief synopsis (back cover): Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than her tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and he is not interested in exploring a new one. Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, Lou sets out to show him that life is still worth living. Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart? 

Rating🏡  Left behind / ✈  Travel companion

Long story short: This book is a little tricky to rate because some parts I liked and others…not so much.

I loved the insights Moyes offered into quadriplegia and assisted suicide because these are two topics I know very little about and the latter has become quite contentious over the years. I have no experience in these areas so I can’t say how accurately either were depicted (the book has been criticized for romanticizing suicide), but it was a change from what I usually read and I enjoyed learning something new.

Through Louisa we’re introduced to caregiving and all the difficult and wonderful moments that come with it. She is spunky and kind and always trying to do the good thing, the right thing, for other people. There is a particular instance in the novel where we get to see the root of her personality—why she is who she is—and it’s a vulnerable time for her. While the set up was done well I wished Moyes took more time drawing Louisa out of her shell. She was definitely my favorite part of the story.

Continue reading “Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes”

May Book Haul

May book haul
Not pictured: Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

I got my hands on more books than I expected to this month. Most were from local bookstores, three were given to me by friends, two were e-books from Amazon, and one was from Book of the Month. As much as I could I tried to balance getting books that are on my TBR lists and new titles I hadn’t heard of that piqued my curiosity.

It’s hard to decide what to read first, but I’m most excited for 2666 by Roberto Bolaño, Delicious! by Ruth Reichl, and Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh.

May Book Haul titles:

  1. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
  2. Paula by Isabele Allende
  3. Wizard of the Crow by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
  4. Party Headquarters by Georgi Tenev
  5. 2666 by Roberto Bolaño
  6. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  7. The Fun Parts by Sam Lipsyte
  8. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
  9. Hip: The History by John Leland
  10. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  11. A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt
  12. Delicious! by Ruth Reichl
  13. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  14. Cleaning Up New York by Bob Rosenthal
  15. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  16. The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
  17. Holy Cow by Sarah Macdonald
  18. Naked by David Sedaris
  19. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
  20. Amor and Psycho by Carolyn Cooke
  21. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  22. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
  23. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  24. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
  25. The Naked Pint by Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune
  26. Heat & Light by Jennifer Haigh
  27. Think Like a Freak by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt
  28. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  29. Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

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