Book Review: The Exchange of Princesses by Chantal Thomas

Posted August 11, 2016 // 1 Comment
Book Review: The Exchange of Princesses by Chantal Thomas

Exploring the initially optimistic (but ultimately dismal) marriages of two 18th century princesses, Chantal Thomas’s The Exchange of Princesses is a well-researched investigation of royal marriages and their consequences. Alternating chapters tell of Infanta Marianna of Spain and Princess Louise Élisabeth d’Orléans, two prepubescent girls who are sent abroad to marry young kings, sight unseen. Neither marriage ends happily, and the author explores why, and additionally attempts to shed light […]

Book Review: Isabella: The Warrior Queen by Kirstin Downey

Posted August 9, 2016 // 0 Comments
Book Review: Isabella: The Warrior Queen by Kirstin Downey

For the modern reader, Isabel the Catholic is a difficult figure. She stands out for being a truly powerful female monarch in a time when women had little agency or freedom; she also stands out for being the figurehead of some truly horrific actions—the religious persecution of the Inquisition and the all-out genocide of the Americas. I had hoped that Kirstin Downey would find some measure of fair representation in […]

Book Review: Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert Massie

Posted August 8, 2016 // 2 Comments
Book Review: Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert Massie

Robert Massie’s biography of the final days of the Romanov dynasty is full of detail, atmosphere, and evident research. I wouldn’t say that Nicholas and Alexandra covers one of my favorite historical eras or explores the lives of my favorite historical figures, but I absolutely cannot fault the author’s work here. There is a reason Massie won a Pulitzer, and his vast talent is on display in this book. What […]

Book Review: The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine

Posted May 25, 2016 // 1 Comment
Book Review: The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine

Sparkling, boozy, and surprisingly subversive: in The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, Genevieve Valentine retells The Twelve Dancing Princesses with feminist, 1920s flapper flair. From the cramped attics of their cruel father’s townhouse to the smoky basement speakeasies, this book follows Jo “The General” and her sisters as they take their lives into their own hands through dance. Written in unique (and highly parenthetical) prose and with excellent attention to […]

Book Review: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Posted May 20, 2016 // 3 Comments
Book Review: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng begins by telling us that Lydia is dead, and then Everything I Never Told You goes on to explain why. This book is a layered, nuanced look at a family and the different personalities that comprise it, an examination of how each individual influences and affects the others. I found the end product to be fascinating, complex, and starkly revealing—with just a hint of that feeling in your […]

Why I can’t let Respiring Thoughts go gentle into that good night

Posted May 17, 2016 // 6 Comments
Why I can’t let Respiring Thoughts go gentle into that good night

At the beginning of this year, I announced that I was putting Respiring Thoughts into retirement. I felt like I’d accomplished everything I’d needed to with this blog and I was ready to move on to new things. A new phase of my life was starting and I needed to consolidate demands on my time. I was at peace about this decision. Then, a few weeks later, a class I […]

Book Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers

Posted May 14, 2016 // 0 Comments
Book Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers

The Circle is a dystopian novel not unlike the many other dystopian novels that have flooded the market for the past several years. In the not-too-distant future, society as we know it is greatly changed, and not for the better. Our young protagonist finds herself faced with the reality of this broken society and must chose her course of action. This is all standard fare, nothing alarming or extra special. […]

Book Review: Stormfire by Chrstine Monson

Posted May 12, 2016 // 0 Comments
Book Review: Stormfire by Chrstine Monson

For many readers who’ve invested time into the romance genre, Christine Monson’s Stormfire needs no introduction. It is the quintessential Bodice Ripper, dating from back when the genre was darker, more violent, and, well…a lot more problematic. Books like this are what give romance novels their bad name, though it’s worth pointing out that Stormfire is, at this point, more that 30 years past its initial publication. Progress has been made, […]

10 Recommended Books for Latina Teens

Posted May 3, 2016 // 2 Comments
10 Recommended Books for Latina Teens

I remember, very clearly, the first time I read a novel about a teenaged Latina. For me, reading had always been something that I did for fun, not necessarily that I “connected” with. Lots of people talked about how “relatable” books were, but I never got that. And probably this was because my life as a teenager was so different from the average teenage protagonist. I still don’t have to […]

Book Review: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Posted April 20, 2016 // 0 Comments
Book Review: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me is an intimate and honest letter from a man to his son, discussing race and the concerns a father has for how race in the United States will affect his son’s life. Though the book discusses many things, some central topics are literal and figurative “disembodiment” experienced by black people, the concept of race as a false construct, and the ways in which […]

Book Review: Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein

Posted April 2, 2016 // 0 Comments
Book Review: Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein

In her latest book, Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape, author Peggy Orenstein discusses, well…girls and sex—young women and how they are affected by society and its attitudes towards sex and female sexuality. Backed up by statistics, research, and personal interviews (mostly with white, heterosexual, middle-class girls), this book offers a good overview of the subject from a variety of angles, without every becoming too academic or too commercialized. […]

Diversifying the literary canon

Posted March 1, 2016 // 2 Comments
Diversifying the literary canon

The purpose of any education is to learn what’s worth learning, and education within the humanities is no different. But often, what’s worth learning—at least by the standards of academia—reflects only a small portion of the human experience. Since the beginning of the 20th century, scholars have been assembling and promoting the concept of the Western Canon, a list of works that answer the question “What is art?”. This list […]