Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Book Review: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

“There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.” 
― Diane SetterfieldThe Thirteenth Tale

Book Title: The Thirteenth Tale
Author: Diane Setterfield
Publication Date: 2006
Genres: Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Goodreads Rating: 3.92 Stars 
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Recommended To: Anyone who loves books and well-written stories; Anyone who loves a good mystery with a twist

According to the Publisher:

Biographer Margaret Lea returns one night to her apartment above her father’s antiquarian bookshop. On her steps she finds a letter. It is a hand-written request from one of Britain’s most prolific and well-loved novelists. Vida Winter, gravely ill, wants to recount her life story before it is too late, and she wants Margaret to be the one to capture her history. The request takes Margaret by surprise — she doesn’t know the author, nor has she read any of Miss Winter’s dozens of novels.

Late one night while pondering whether to accept the task of recording Miss Winter’s personal story, Margaret begins to read her father’s rare copy of Miss Winter’s Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation. She is spellbound by the stories and confused when she realizes the book only contains twelve stories. Where is the thirteenth tale? Intrigued, Margaret agrees to meet Miss Winter and act as her biographer.

As Vida Winter unfolds her story, she shares with Margaret the dark family secrets that she has long kept hidden as she remembers her days at Angelfield, the now burnt-out estate that was her childhood home. Margaret carefully records Miss Winter’s account and finds herself more and more deeply immersed in the strange and troubling story. 

Both women will have to confront their pasts and the weight of family secrets... and the ghosts that haunt them still.

My Thoughts: 

1. Yes, that rating is totally true. I can't remember the last time I rated a book so high, but this book was fantastic. I've been reading a lot of books lately that take place across two time periods with two plot lines running through the book (namely, The Steady Running of the HourThe Post-Birthday World, and The Winter Sea), so I was a bit weary of taking on this novel, since it continues that trend. However, out of all the books that I named, this novel was my favorite (closely followed by The Winter Sea). The narrator's plot line wasn't so intense that it drowned out Vita Winter's story, and Vita Winter's story is so compelling and intricate, I was deeply enthralled.

2. The writing was incredible. The first few chapters about the narrator, Margaret Lea, threw me for a loop, because she was so verbose and intricate in her speech. That being said, I instantly liked her because of quotes like the one above and the last one below. This character is a reader, and that is her most identifiable trait. I kind of loved that. But once we start to see Vida Winter's story, the writing was so inclusive and steady, I lost track of the fact that I was reading and I actually felt like I was falling into the world of Angelfield. It takes perfectly placed words to draw me in like that.

3. Vida Winter's story is complex, and I loved it. Vida Winter is one of the most compelling characters I have ever met. The story of her birth, her life, and her twin made me keep coming back to it over and over. There were dark twists, hidden secrets, and inferences that Margaret made that brought the story full circle. Diane Setterfield did a masterful job of revealing the plot slowly through Vida's storytelling and Margaret's researching. I seriously cannot talk up this book enough.

One Sentence Sum-Up
Through intricate storytelling and well-written words, Setterfield masterfully reveals Vida Winter's compelling story and the secrets of her dark past.


“People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in the ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic.” 

“There are too many books in the world to read in a single lifetime; you have to draw the line somewhere.” 

“All morning I struggled with the sensation of stray wisps of one world seeping through the cracks of another. Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes -- characters even -- caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you.” 

“Of course I loved books more than people.” 

“I have always been a reader; I have read at every stage of my life, and there has never been a time when reading was not my greatest joy. And yet I cannot pretend that the reading I have done in my adult years matches in its impact on my soul the reading I did as a child. I still believe in stories. I still forget myself when I am in the middle of a good book. Yet it is not the same. Books are, for me, it must be said, the most important thing; what I cannot forget is that there was a time when they were at once more banal and more essential than that. When I was a child, books were everything. And so there is in me, always, a nostalgic yearning for the lost pleasure of books. It is not a yearning that one ever expects to be fulfilled.” 

Monday, September 29, 2014

September Wrap-Up

So I haven't written a Wrap-Up post since April, which is astounding, and a bit sad, because I tend to come back to these posts often. September was a big month of change for us, in that I'm still job hunting (with a few good leads!), and Jeromy got a new job, which he starts October 1!

September in One Word: Anxious

My Favorite Memories in  September 2014:
  • So much time off with Jeromy
  • Finding out Kay will be having baby #4!
  • The first UL home game of the season
  • Football season starting and getting knee-deep in Fantasy Football
  • Our first double date in a long time
  • Finally getting some leads on potential jobs
  • Jeromy's last day at EY and his 26th birthday
  • A long lunch with a long-lost cousin
  • Getting Lauren's Save the Date addressed to "The future Mr. and Mrs. Bourque"
Books I Read this Month:
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  • The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver
  • Landline by Rainbow Rowell (Review)
  • The Steady Running of the Hour by Justin Go
  • Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Favorite Posts from the Month:
New Obsessions:
  • Fantasy. Football. Not a new obsession, but a renewed obsession.
  • The library. I currently have 9 books checked out. (Pro Tip: All. The Books. For. Free!)
  • Fashion blogs, like this one and this (local!) one.
3 Things I'm Sad to See Go with September:
  • Lazy days with Jeromy since he goes back to work October 1st
  • Summer and pool days
  • The easiest part of the fall semester
    3 Things I'm Looking Forward to in October:
    • Gone Girl hitting theaters!
    • Hopefully, getting off the couch and going to work everyday
    • The fall weather, cardigans, and jeans!
    Favorite Quote from a Book I Read this Month:

    “In one aspect, yes, I believe in ghosts, but we create them. We haunt ourselves.” 
    - Laurie Halse Anderson, Wintergirls

    Monday, September 15, 2014

    Book Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

    “Neal didn't take Georgie's breath away. Maybe the opposite. But that was okay--that was really good, actually, to be near someone who filled your lungs with air.” 
    ― Rainbow RowellLandline

    Book Title: Landline
    Author: Rainbow Rowell
    Publication Date: 2014
    Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Adult Fiction
    Goodreads Rating: 3.74 Stars 
    My Rating: 3.5 Stars
    Recommended To: Anyone looking for a quick read that has a bit of magic to it

    According to the Publisher:

    Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

    Maybe that was always beside the point.

    Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

    When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

    That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

    Is that what she’s supposed to do?

    Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

    My Thoughts: 

    1. Whoa. That was quick. The weather was beautiful yesterday, so I pulled out our (only) lawn chair and sat down to read. Five hours later, the sun was setting and the book was ending. Wait, what? I tore through this book!

    2. Real characters. Georgie McCool (yea, that's her name..) was not likable. She was flawed, she screwed up, and sometimes, I just wanted to slap some sense into her. Despite that, I found myself relating to her. Who doesn't take their significant others for granted? Who doesn't screw up from time to time? The whole novel, she struggled with defining what was important to her and figuring out what was best for her family. I liked seeing that process. Plus, Neal was pretty darn awesome, and I was cheering for them from the start.

    3. A touch of magic. The biggest point of contention for me while reading this book was trying to figure out how this landline really fit into the novel. By the end of it, I saw the importance, but throughout the novel, I had trouble reconciling the "magic" of this phone with the very real lives of Georgie and Neal. I think that has more to do with my expectations going into the novel than it does with the novel itself, mostly because I was expecting a Rainbow Rowell book and she hasn't had any fantastical happenings in any of the other novels I've read by her. By the end of it, though, I appreciated the magic of the landline.

    One Sentence Sum-Up
    Despite the magic in the landline, this novel had very real characters and wasn't scared to present the flaws of normal human beings.


    “You don't know when you're twenty-three.
    You don't know what it really means to crawl into someone else's life and stay there. You can't see all the ways you're going to get tangled, how you're going to bond skin to skin. How the idea of separating will feel in five years, in ten - in fifteen. When Georgie thought about divorce now, she imagined lying side by side with Neal on two operating tables while a team of doctors tried to unthread their vascular systems.
    She didn't know at twenty-three.” 

    “Nobody's lives just fit together. Fitting together is something you work at. It's something you make happen - because you love each other.” 

    “The future was going to happen, even if he wasn’t ready for it. Even if he was never ready for it. At least he could make sure he was with the right person. Wasn’t that the point of life? To find someone to share it with? And if you got that part right, how far wrong could you go? If you were standing next to the person you loved more than everything else, wasn’t everything else just scenery?” 

    Friday, September 12, 2014

    In Lieu of my Own Writing...

    I've been in a blogging rut, so to speak. It's not that I don't have time, because as an unemployed MBA student going to school half-time, time is pretty much all I have abundance of (money, on the other hand... ha.)

    However, I have been finding SO MANY articles that I want to share with the world. Articles about hard topics, controversial topics, topics I don't necessarily want to post all over Facebook, but feel like the world needs to hear. So... Without further ado.

    Pretty much describing how I feel about my "goals" and "dreams" (in quotations, because they are "hazily articulated")

    Emma Sulkowicz is proving that, as a victim of sexual assault, if they won't take you seriously, find ways to make them listen.

    A very long and in-depth look at one of Mississippi's only abortion clinics, and how the state is trying to shut it down

    Pictures and commentary of women listening to men. (Hint: They are all bored.)

    On moving in together.

    What goes through every woman's head when she gets catcalled.

    Harry Potter Snapchats, because, of course.

    When we wake up some mornings and realized that we wish we were a bit better.

    Have a wonderful Friday.