Tuesday, July 31, 2012

ttt: reasons why i want to be harry potter

This week's Top Ten Tuesday on the Broke and the Bookish is top ten characters I'd like to switch places with for 24 hours. This is a great topic, but difficult. So many characters I love are not the type of people I'd like to switch places with for a day. I got to about 5 characters before I realized what I'd really like to do with this topic: take my top choice, the one I kept coming back to, and list my top ten reasons why I want to be him for a day. It was such a good idea, I ended up with more than ten reasons!  And after I'd come up with said reasons, I realized that said character's BIRTHDAY IS TODAY! Perfect, perfect all around. So without further ado . . .

Top Ten Reasons Why I Want to be Harry Potter for a Day

#1 He can fly. On a broom, of course, which isn't as cool as flying around like Superman, but still. Pretty amazing. Plus, he has a natural talent for flight.

#2 He gets to attend Hogwarts!* And as we all know, there is no greater school than Hogwarts (Harvard, Yale, Oxford, psh. They can all suck it!). He's taught by wonderful professors like McGonagall and Lupin (for a year). He gets to cheer on his fellow Gryffindors and lives with them in the Gryffindor Tower. Each year he's taken there by the Hogwarts Express (well, not every year . . .) and enjoys trips to Hogsmeade. There are secret rooms and passages, a long and dark history, wonderful buffets of food, ghosts, rumors, dangers, excitement. Brilliant!

*I'm assuming I can choose when I'd like to be Harry and of course, I'd prefer to go during the school year, not when he's stuck at the Dursleys' for the summer . . . 

#3 He has wonderful friends. So not only would I get to be Harry, I'd get to hang around with Hermione, Ron, Luna, Neville, and the gang (I'm not big on Ginny). Plus, his friends include house elves (Dobby), half-giants (Hagrid), and owls (Hedwig), amongst others.

* P.S. I love how it looks like Harry's checking out Luna in the pictures above :)

#4 He's a jock. So not only can he fly, he's fantastic at it and is cheered on by his house in big Quidditch tournaments. Never having had a talent with athletics, it'd be fun to try it out, especially if this trading places thing means that I'm in Harry's body (I assumed that- am I wrong?). Because with his prowess, I'd be sure to catch the snitch :)

#5 He's talented, brave, and strong, as he shows time and time again. Sometimes this gets him into trouble, but he always manages to make it out okay.

#6 He's a boy. This is assuming I'm in his body again. If I'm going to switch places with someone, I'd like to see what the other half of the world is experiencing, just for kicks.

#7 He lives in England! Again, if I'm going to switch places with someone, they better not be living where I am, the U.S. Midwest. I want to see something different. Plus, of course, there's the added fact that he and everyone he knows (pretty much) has a British accent :) I'd be happily talking (and listening) non-stop.

#8 He can perform magic! Potions, transfigurations, general spells. Awesome.

#9 He gets to eat treats like chocolate frogs, butterbeer, pumpkin juice, and all the scrumptious delights at a Hogwarts holiday meal (I won't add Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Bean since they're a hit or miss).

#10 He has an invisibility cloak! Perfect for sneaking around without getting caught. And I realize the picture doesn't really fit here but I couldn't find anything better.

#11 He saves the world. That's no small feat.

#12 He's a wizard. Plain and simple.

Harry Potter is awesome, so I know I missed some great reasons why it'd be fun to be Harry for a day. Any other ideas?


Monday, July 30, 2012

tigers in red weather

The story revolves around Tiger House, a family home in Martha's Vineyard. We begin with cousins Nick (a girl, just to be clear) and Helena. After the war, Nick heads to Florida to reunite with her husband Hughes, while Helena heads to L.A. to marry a man she barely knows, Avery Lewis. For both women, post-war life disappoints and they find themselves frustrated and wanting something more, something better. The story shifts perspectives a number of times, with each major character having their own section. Those characters include Nick, Nick's husband Hughes, Nick's daughter Daisy, Helena, and Helena's son Ed.

I really enjoyed the setting, both the time period (WWII to the late 60s) and the location (Martha's Vineyard with all its tennis lessons, sailing, drinking, summer parties). And I loved the switches in perspective and bouncing around between years. Information is unveiled in a fantastic, deliberate way. You read about the same days and years several times through different perspectives, giving you a new bit of knowledge each time.

However, I didn't love the characters. Daisy was my favorite, mostly because I understood her best. All the other characters make big mistakes that I couldn't completely comprehend. I became incredibly frustrated with them, feeling like they were ruining their lives without much thought. If they could just get a hold of themselves, they could be happy, but for whatever reason, they didn't. Also, the last section was a little bizarre. It didn't mesh as well with the others (partially because its written in the first-person, but also because it's a little nuts).

TITLE: Tigers in Red Weather
AUTHOR: Liza Klaussmann
VERDICT: I loved parts of it, but I was very annoyed with others. 3/5 stars.

Friday, July 27, 2012

new (literary) movie trailers

Seen these two yet?

Cloud Atlas (based on the book by David Mitchell):

Life of Pi (based on the book by Yann Martel):

I haven't read either book, but I've heard good things. And of course, because the movies are coming out soon (Cloud Atlas is October 26th and Life of Pi is November 21st), now I feel pressure to move them to the top of my list. So I ask you . . .

Are they worth it? And any thoughts on the trailers? Cloud Atlas looks pretty amazing, I think (though crazy/confusing).

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

is everyone hanging out without me?

On road trips, when I'm getting bored with music or NPR, I love a good audiobook. I've tried fiction audiobooks, but so far I haven't been able to find any that hold my attention. My favorite choices are comedy books and this is my new favorite.

Mindy Kaling reads the book herself, adding a great level of realness and rhythm (because having written the jokes, she knows how to best present them). In fact, I picked up the book at Barnes & Noble to get a peek at the pictures (there aren't many but they're worth a look), and found the writing much less humorous without Mindy's voice there to read it aloud.

Topics covered include: dealing with chubbiness, awkward childhood friendships, living with friends in NYC, working as a babysitter, how she made it big, The Office, working on SNL, tips for men, Irish exits, photo shoots, favorite comedy sketches, why she won't eat at cupcake shops, etc. Many of the sections are short, but some are your average chapter-length. ALL of them kept my interest and left me wanting more. Seriously, I wish this book were ten times the length so I could listen to a new installment each time I have a 2+ hour drive ahead. It was funny, honest, and unabashed. It felt like I just had a really entertaining friend in the car with me. 

Highly recommended!

TITLE: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
AUTHOR: Mindy Kaling
PUBLICATION DATE: 1 November 2011
VERDICT: 4/5 stars.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

ttt: most vivid fictional settings

This week's Top Ten Tuesday on the Broke and the Bookish is top ten most vivid fictional settings. Delving into unique, elaborate, and especially made-up settings is one of my favorite things about reading, so I was happy to revisit some favorite fictional settings in the making of this list.

Top Ten Most Vivid Fictional Settings

* I made up names for some of these places, so bear with me and read on if a pick confuses you.

1. Hogwarts (in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series). I'm sure this will be the favorite choice of the week. How can you read Harry Potter and not want to visit Hogwarts or any other part of Rowling's magical world? It's so intricate and amazing.

2. Sarah Waters's Victorian London (in her novels Fingersmith and Affinity). Whether we're in a nearby country house, a women's prison, or the lair of a pack of thieves, Waters really immerses you in the setting. Her descriptions and dialogue are wonderful and really throw you into every aspect of historical England.

3. Chuck Palahniuk's Dirty World (in his novel Fight Club). This is one of the few examples on the list that while I didn't like it, I did find it incredibly vivid. Gross? Yes. Appealing? No.

4. The World of Lost Things (in John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things). Scary, magical, full of twisted fairy tale characters, this kingdom is haunted by one of the most creepy villains I've had the misfortune of meeting- the Crooked Man.

5. Neverland (in J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan). The world of children who won't grow up. How could it be anything but fun and full of adventure? Captain Hook and the pirates, the mermaids, the Indians, the fairies, and of course the flight from London to reach it.

6. Wonderland (in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass). A rabbit with a clock, tricky foods, a kingdom of playing cards, painted roses, talking flowers, an un-birthday party, a smiling cat, and so much more. And of course, the movie versions of this wonderful book help bring the crazy world to life.

7. Kingdom of Wisdom (in Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth). One day, a magical tollbooth takes a boy into the Kingdom of Wisdom, where he gets caught up in the place's history and finds himself traveling through it in a quest to rescue the princesses, Rhyme and Reason. Full of humor, clever metaphors, and charming characters, the kingdom is the perfect place for bored Milo.

8. Panem (in Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games). Part outlandish and gaudy, but mostly filled with impoverished districts, it's easy to picture Collins's dystopian world. Mostly though, I love the stadiums, which can changed on a whim by the game-makers. Can't wait to see what they do with the clock-themed Catching Fire stadium in the movie next year!

9. Tara (in Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind). We get to see both sides of Tara: her glory days as a slave plantation and her downfall during the war. Scarlett isn't at Tara for most of the book, but it's the place she loves most and wants to take care of. And of course it's always interesting to see past versions of America.

10. Le Cirque des R√™ves (in Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus). I can't wait until this comes to the big screen! I really enjoyed the book, but rather than most loving the characters or the plot (which is usually the case), I loved the circus. Black and white, only appearing at night, filled with magical tents. It'll be amazing to see it come to life!

Did I leave out your favorite? Have any suggestions for other novels with vivid settings? Let me know!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

pins and things

I'm happy to say that I'm very happy at the moment :)

After lots of time spent being productive this week (searching and applying for jobs, following up, writing, etc.), tomorrow I'm heading back to my college town for the first time since I graduated in May. I'll be there until Tuesday or Wednesday visiting friends (including my boyfriend!) and I just can't wait to go. It's been too long!

But before I go, here are my favorite Pinterest finds of the week:


This gorgeous photo by Ormond Gigli, Girls in the Windows, from 1960. 

The story: "The shot took place in the window frames of brownstones slated for demolition located across the street from the Gigli's studio on 58th St. The women are a mix of celebrities and models and friends of the photographer's. The shot was carefully planned and quickly assembled, as it was required to take place during the construction workers' lunch break."


 Oh that we could all have such gigantic, gorgeous, perfectly organized cupboards!


Dreaming of fall again, when I can comfortably wear pants all day (and warm sweaters!).


I love mismatched wall arrangements. When I have my own home, I hope to create something similar, though it's always harder than it looks, isn't it? Effortless looks are almost always deceptive.

And speaking of framing, I really want to find a way to display my (huge stack) of travel photos from last semester, when I studied abroad in Greece. I love this ideaan enormous frame, a statement piece—because I'd love to display as many of the photos as possible. Plus, it would make such an impact in an otherwise neutral room.


I don't wear a lot of jewelry, but I've been trying to make more of an effort lately. Loving this triangle necklace.


Perfectly mixed patterns. This one's been all over Pinterest lately (and for good reason!).

Again, cold weather fashion. And it's still months away! :(

Hope you all have wonderful weekends!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

ttt: historical fiction books

This week's Top Ten Tuesday on the Broke and the Bookish is basically recommendations. The official topic is "Top Ten Books for People Who Like X Book" (pick a book and then recommend 10 read-a-likes). But rather than pick one book and work off of it (because that seemed too complicated for the sort of books I like), I thought I would just pick a genre and then choose my top ten. So I give you . . .


Top Ten Books for People Who Like Historical Fiction

* To keep the process simple, I'm only picking books that take place entirely within the past and are set at least fifty years ago.

1. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. One of my all-time favorites and not just for historical fiction. This is one of those books that made me want to write. The story revolves around a plan by Victorian-era London thieves to steal a young heiress's fortune.

2. Affinity by Sarah Waters. Another great book by Sarah Waters. This one's about a lady who volunteers at a women's prison in Victorian London. One of the inmates is a mysterious young spiritualist.

3. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Classic. Everyone knows the story (I hope?). Rhett and Scarlett. Both stubborn, beautiful, and proud. Amazing, epic, Civil War love story.

4. The Spiritualist by Megan Chance. Another book about spiritualists. Also a romance. The husband of an upperclass New York woman is found murdered. So with her lawyer, the woman (who is now a suspect) must explore seances and the occult to figure out what really happened.

5. The Kitchen Boy by Robert Alexander. If you're interested in the Romanov family, definitely check out Robert Alexander. This book was short, but very interesting, and looks at the family's confinement and deaths.

6. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. Of course. Everyone knows about this one. It really was good. Gregory is another of those authors that I need to read more of. 

7. An Inconvenient Wife by Megan Chance. A wonderful book set in 1880s New York, when women were not appreciated and their sexuality was not understood. Focuses on a woman who is believed to have "hysteria" and her subsequent treatment.

8. The Bastard by John Jakes. The first book in a huge set of paperbacks about American history. It's quick and cheap, but definitely entertaining. This first book takes place during the years preceding the Revolutionary War.

9. Through a Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen. HUGE book, but it moves quickly. It's set around 1720 in Paris and London, looking at a number of characters from both the upper and lower class. But despite the length and number of characters, it's always easy to follow and very entertaining.

10. The Vanishing Point by Mary Sharratt. Dark and mysterious. A girl moves from Europe to the woods of colonial America, where her sister settled down earlier with a woodsman in an arranged marriage. But when she arrives, her sister is already dead. She must figure out what happened to her.

(Couldn't help it, I'm going for eleven.)

11. The Night Watch by Sarah Waters. Another Sarah Waters, this one set in WWII London. We follow a number of different characters through their lives and romances. Most importantly though, we move backward. The story begins at the end and each subsequent section sets us back a year or two. Makes for a refreshing, innovative way to tell a story.

Monday, July 16, 2012

nonfiction lessons #1- the defining decade

In light of my recent interest in nonfiction books, I've decided to start a new series to share the interesting, helpful, and sometimes surprising things I've learned.

First up is The Defining Decade by Meg Jay, a book that explores why the twenties are such an important decade in defining our lives. A professor mentioned this book during a class discussion about our post-grad plans and I'm so glad he did. It was very interesting, even if I occasionally felt the author had a bias. Here's what I learned:


1. Underemployment (working in a job that is beneath your education, talent, and skill levels) is worse than unemployment for both your happiness and your work-related future.

2. About 2/3 of lifetime wage growth happens in the first 10 years.

3. Weak ties (acquaintances we don't know well) are incredibly important for networking because they're different from us and, unlike our friends and coworkers, are more likely to have information unknown to us.

4. To prevent freaking out at age 30 (thinking, "I thought I'd have a great job by now" or "I can't be single when I'm 30"), you have to spend your twentysomething years working hard, having purpose, and being aware. You should never just assume that life will work out the way you've always imagined. Your 20s are not disposable years. Use them.

5. Twentysomethings who don't feel anxious or incompetent at work are usually overconfident or underemployed. Also, twentysomethings take negative work experiences especially hard. If you feel like your emotions are as fragile as a leaf at this age, remember to look at the big picture.

6. People don't really change after age 30; our thoughts and behaviors remain very stable. However, our personalities change more during our twentysomething years than any other time before or after.

7. Couples who live together before marriage have a much higher rate of divorce. Why is this? Jay believes it is because these couples slide into the choices (both cohabitation and marriage) without making a firm commitment. And once you live together, it is more difficult to break up because you have invested time, relationships (shared friends, your families), and money (shared furniture, rent, etc.) into the relationship. Never use living together as a "test run" for marriage. Founding a relationship on ambiguity or convenience makes failure much more likely. It is highly advised to wait until you are engaged to move in together (if not married) or to clearly communicate your commitment levels beforehand.

8. Always be aware of your own personal timeline and work toward it. Factor in school, work, relationships, family, and any other major life choices. Be realistic and don't waste time thinking "it'll happen someday." Here are some questions you might ask yourself:

  • Do you want to continue your education? Do you want to go to law school or medical school? How many years will you spend in grad school? Do you have to take the GRE, LSATS, etc.? How long will the application process take?
  • What are your career goals? When do you hope to achieve them?  
  • Do you want to get married? When do you imagine being married? How long will you be engaged before you marry? If you want kids, how far into your marriage would you like to start the process?
  • Do you want kids? When? How many? Will you be able to have biological children at the age you hope to get pregnant? (Over the age of 35, pregnancy is much more difficult.) Will you consider adoption? If you imagine your children having active grandparents, how old will your parents be at the age you want to have children? 

* * * * *

Surprised? Old news? Disagree? Please share!

Also, if you have any nonfiction recommendations for me, please let me know. I'd really appreciate it!

TITLE: The Defining Decade
VERDICT: 3/5 stars

Friday, July 13, 2012

the hand that first held mine

I'm becoming a fan of Maggie O'Farrell. I really like her style and the way she slowly reveals the plot, but this story wasn't my favorite. It was a little boring and because I didn't like some of the characters, I found it hard to sympathize with them. 

Like O'Farrell's novel "The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox," the story flips back and forth between two women, one living in the past and one in the present. In the past (the late 1950s or early 1960s, I believe), Lexie is a country girl who follows her dreams and runs away from home to move to London. Her story revolves around her romances and her career rise as she becomes a successful journalist in the London art scene. In present-day London, Finnish artist Elina has recently had a baby with her boyfriend Ted. There were complications during the birth that almost left Elina dead, so in the days after, she suffers from physical pain and memory loss. And Ted struggles to support Elina and the baby, often distancing himself and getting lost in his own head. The stories share themes of motherhood, love, grief, and loss, and both involve strong women.

The stories do eventually connect, but their link wasn't too hard to guess. My issues with the story were that I didn't really care for Lexie (she's rather brash, lacks some good morals, etc.) or her boyfriend Innes, so all her sections were exhausting. And the whole story just moves very slowly, to the point where you sometimes wonder if the ending is even going to make these narratives worthwhile. Luckily, O'Farrell's prose helps hold the story together. I just really like the way she writes (you can tell she handles her words with care and knows how to use them to great effect). But I preferred her novel "The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox" to this story, finding the characters more interesting and sympathetic. I can't wait to get my hands on more of her books.

TITLE: The Hand That First Held Mine
AUTHOR: Maggie O'Farrell
VERDICT: 3/5 stars.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

ttt: bookish resolutions

This week's Top Ten Tuesday on the Broke and the Bookish is a freebie week (you can pick any past topic). I'm choosing to make a top ten list of bookish resolutions, goals that I am determined to execute to the best of my ability.

Back in January, cozied up by the fire with a good book (pic taken by my sister).

My Top Ten Bookish Resolutions

1. Don't finish bad books. This is first on the list because I struggle the most with it. Since a book could always end much better than it began, I'm afraid to make a judgment if I don't reach the last page. Of course I could skim, but that doesn't seem fair. Plus, if I don't finish, I don't feel justified in adding it to my list of "books read" (both on my own list and on Goodreads), something which I really enjoy doing . . . But enough! Life is too short for bad books, as they say. If I keep finishing books I don't like, I'll waste time that I could have spent reading books I do like.

2. Read more nonfiction. I'm on my 3rd nonfiction book in the past couple months (The Defining Decade by Meg Jay) and I've enjoyed them all so far. Reading nonfiction introduces me to new things and lets me learn something as well (so far I've learned about Steve Jobs, personal finance, and why the 20s are a defining decade in our lives). Maybe it's because I'm no longer a student (but still feel like a student inside) that I'm really enjoying all this nonfiction. Spending my time learning about something new makes me feel productive and purposeful. Sometime soon, I'd love to take on one of Malcolm Gladwell's much-praised nonfiction books.

3. Don't feel pressured by the classics. Another big problem for me. Since I first started reading the classics (probably around the 7th or 8th grade), I've let them push me around a bit. I don't regret it because I'm very happy to have read influential books like Jane Eyre, Oliver Twist, Pride & Prejudice, etc., but at this point I think I've read enough to say I've got a solid foundation. I still have some unread classics on my bookshelf (Vanity Fair, Middlemarch, Mrs. Dalloway, and Beloved amongst them) that I want to get to, but I refuse to feel bad for not having read them yet and when the time comes, I won't feel bad if I skim some of them because of resolution #1.

4. Read the unread books on my shelf. I have too many books on my shelf that I haven't even read. And I rarely buy books! Meaning that a lot of them are from 5+ years ago and I just haven't gotten around to them yet. Ridiculous. I need to at least try them soon and again, not feel bad if I decide to give some away due to resolution #1.

5. Don't wait to read the books you're most excited about. Sometimes I push back the reading of a book I'm really excited for. I'm not even sure why. I feel I need to be in the right situation to read the book to its best potential? I want to save it for a rainy day? I don't know. But the time is now. More great books are being written everyday, and there's no reason to wait.

6. Read more books about writing. Just because they're usually inspiring and get me in the mood to write. I've read two or three so far, my favorite being Stephen King's On Writing. Next, I'd like to try to the well-known Bird by Bird and Writing Down the Bones

7. Read 30 pages every day. Not difficult and something I'm pretty much already doing. Just want to keep it up.

8. If there's a chance for boredom when you're out and about, carry a book. This isn't very applicable to me right now, but it will be once I'm out of the house more. There are so many little interim moments in the day when you're bored or waiting for something. Instead of wasting those moments, I'd like to fill them all with reading.

9. Read multiple books by favorite authors. When I'm more worried about variety than reading books I will like, I end up reading one great book by an author and then ignoring them for a long time. But if you read multiple books by an author, you can see how they stretch their talents, get a feel for their style and strengths, learn what makes them great, and maybe add another favorite author to your list (because personally, I feel like I can't add an author to that high honor without reading more than one of their books). Margaret Atwood, I'm looking at you.

10. Re-read favorites to remember why you loved them. With an ever-growing list of books to read, I feel guilty even thinking about spending precious reading time tackling an old favorite. But I'm getting old :o) And sometimes when I name off favorite books, I realize that I barely remember them. What if I don't even like them anymore? But that's not my real concern. My real concern is that I'll never revisit that magic, that love I felt when I first read them. Great books deserve to be re-read. This resolution comes to mind because I recently watched the first Harry Potter movie and realized how much I missed reading Harry Potter. I don't know how long it's been since I read Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone, but I know it's been too long. I would also love to re-read Gone with the Wind and Fingersmith.


I think this is actually one of my favorite TTT's so far :) I only hope I can stick to my new resolutions! 

Can you identify with my choices? Do you have any other ideas for reading resolutions? 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

pins and things

It's been over 100 degrees here everyday for the past, I don't know, two weeks? Miserably hot. Especially for a cold weather girl like myself. But last night we were treated to a fantastic thunderstorm (I was lucky enough to watch it in a park with a friend, under cover of course, while eating ice cream!) and it looks like the rain broke our heat spell. The high today is only 94!

Lately I've been busy job searching, applying for jobs, reading The Hand That First Held Mine (which is great so far), and writing. Before I take a little trip to my college town in two weeks to visit my boyfriend and my bestie, I made a goal that I would write 1,000 words every day (or 14,000 words total). So I've been typing away like mad, desperate not to let myself down. Fingers crossed I make my goal!

But of course I still took some time out for my favorite procrastinating activitypinning:


If only flowers were less expensive and we could have them around all the time! They always make a house more cheerful. These bouquets are especially pretty, I think. I love the little berry-like pink buds.


Now this would be the perfect place to watch a thunderstorm! Or maybe get some writing done? I'd love to place a giant desk beneath those windows.


Amazing, right? Each snippet of the picture was taken an hour apart, making for a 7-hour picture of a sunset. Someday when I have my own apartment (and hopefully a view worth taking a picture of), I'll set up a camera in my window and do just this.


Garlic gravy spaghetti with lemon-marinated chicken. MmmMmm!


What a perfect setup for a summer night! With drinks, some cards, good food, and good company.


Love this classic, simple look. I'm now on the lookout for a thin, collared white shirt.


Gorgeous headband and gorgeous hair. This etsy shop is filled with beautiful, vintage-style hair accessories and jewelry.


And speaking of jewelry, this earrings holder is definitely going on my Christmas list! Maybe in black or white though. I've been trying to figure out if I could make something similar myself, but haven't figured anything out yet. It would just be so hard to make spaces for those tiny studs on my own!


Finally, if you're a Harry Potter fan, check out this artist's ideas for the house common rooms. They're not perfectly accurate to the books (obviously, since the book didn't even describe all the rooms in great detail), but they're very imaginative and well-done. I'm pretty sure I would be a Ravenclaw if I were at Hogwarts, but the Hufflepuff House is my favorite!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

the secret history

WARNING: This review has spoilers. I couldn't figure out how to put in a spoiler/hide feature, so for now the spoilers are in white. If you want to see them, just highlight the text :o)

I considered giving this 4 stars. If I could, it'd be 3.5.

At Hampden College in Vermont, a group of six close-knit friends are connected by their love of the Classics and Greek. They take almost all their classes together with the slightly mysterious but very inspiring Julian as their instructor. The group includes: (1) Henry, the most studious and wealthy of the group; (2) Francis, a flashy dresser with red hair; (3) Bunny, outgoing and rather obnoxious; (4,5) Charles and Camilla, twins who almost always wear white; and (6) Richard, the newcomer from California and our narrator. Most of them are from the Northeast. They have a penchant for being overly-dressed in their suits, ties, white dresses, and scarves. They drink a lot. They throw around money like crazy (most of the money being either Francis's or Henry's). And most importantly, they keep a lot of secrets.

The novel begins with Bunny's murder by the other five friends and the remainder of the book deals with the lead-up, explanation, and aftermath of the killing.

There are a lot of things I really loved about this book. First of all, the characters were unique and interesting, and I liked how their personalities were unveiled very slowly. The collegiate setting was well described, as was Francis's cottage, and all the descriptions of excess drinking and cold Vermont and late night talks made for an effective and absorbing setting. And of course, the basic idea of the plot (friends plotting to murder one of their group) is very intriguing. My issues with the book came in the details. There was one major thing that I wish had been explored/revealed more. If the bacchanal is at the heart of the story, why not tell us more about it? It was really only described once and quickly. I understand that they don't remember a lot, but still! But other details bothered me too, just because they had so much potential. Were Julian and Henry in some sort of relationship? What really happened with the first murdered man in the woods? Why/how exactly was Richard brought into the whole situation? Wouldn't that be a huge risk, since Richard is only a recent addition to the group? I know that some mystery novels like to leave unresolved bits, but in this case, there was so much potential for a more interesting story that it was disappointing. Plus, a few of my own guesses were more interesting (in my opinion) than the final outcome. I had strong suspicions that they didn't even kill a man the first time, that it was just a story they told Richard to justify Bunny's murder.

But overall, I did enjoy the book. It was very absorbing and I know I won't be forgetting the characters anytime soon.

TITLE: The Secret History
AUTHOR: Donna Tartt
PUBLICATION DATE: September 1992
VERDICT: 3/5 stars.
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