National Library Week

Hello readers,

This is the third to the last day of National Library Week. While I love the idea of National Library Week, I also feel like every week in my life could be a library holiday. What a great idea though!

Not a library, but a place for books nonetheless...

I guess this could be a great week to check out my neighborhood branch of the Seattle Public Library 🙂

Is anyone going to the conferences or doing something special to participate?

Cheers,

Miss E

Review: The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle

I have been reading the God of Animals, by Aryn Kyle, and although I am very close to being done, I am ready to review it for you. After buying this book during grad school as one of my “fun” books for when I had spare time to read more fiction, it has been moved around the country, and has been sitting on my shelf for many months now, without more than a second thought.

I was intrigued by both the title and the cover, since the animal shape in relief with another layer under the title page in a contrasting color reminded me a little bit of Mark Haddon’s the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime, one of my all time favorite novels.  

Honestly, I loved this book while I was reading it, but I had to take a break. I stopped reading it because this is one powerful book. Don’t let the childlike horse on the cover fool you- Aryn Kyle attempts to reverse any happy associations you might have had with horses, horse-rearing, ranch life, or romantic notions of what it is like to grow up in a ranching community.

Instead of a horse story, what we get as readers is a claustrophobic “coming of age” story that is filled with anxiety, discomfort, and people who have no understanding of emotional and psychological boundaries. I didn’t sleep for an entire night after reading the majority of it- there are some very disturbing elements of the novel, and things that you read that you can’t really “un see.”

Reading the God of Animals in the coffee shop as well- couldn't put it down so I took it with me for writing breaks...

The brutality and matter of fact negativity that Alice witnesses on a daily basis really seems to make her a pragmatist early on in life, but in the worst of ways. She has glimmers of hope throughout the text in the goodness of humanity, but she usually does not have her even low expectations met. She has a very unstable home life, and although she wants acceptance from her father, she fears her mother, and does not receive affection from either of her parents.

I think the writing is pretty incredible, and this is Kyle’s first published novel. Her characters are complex, and she does not shy away from real family issues. I cannot tell you too much about the plot, because there are some shockers, but the story begins with the protagonist telling us about a girl at school who drowned in the ravine walking home from school. We also soon find out that she lives with her parents on a horse ranch, her “do nothing wrong” award-winning sister has recently abandoned the family to marry a cowboy, and her mother has severe depression and potentially agoraphobia- she is also sometimes psychologically manipulative to her child and husband, and lives in her own land of self pity and misery.

Alice’s overarching motive as a character is a never-ending search for love she has never known. The way readers are privy to her thoughts about social interaction is a fascinating and really well-done aspect of the piece. She describes people in a distant and almost chilly way, and does not seem to understand what compassion or empathy feel like. Although there are moments when readers are encouraged to understand Alice as pitiable, since she truly does not understand love, on a certain level she is also an unreliable narrator and has some sociopathic tendencies to detach. This creates a really interesting, but very uncomfortable reader position throughout the novel.

For example, early on in the novel she is wondering what it would be like to attend a funeral, but from a very ego-centric standpoint. She attempts to present herself as a friend of the deceased various times throughout the book, even lying at times about her actions and relationship to her dead classmate, and desires attention and potentially even affection as a result of her classmate’s death. However, it is constantly often Alice’s experience in this novel that only the wealthy, and kids without the same depth of familial problems seem to have the luxury of grief, love, and a chance to make friends.

Alice’s detached narration often seems to come as the result of seeing the hopes and dreams of those around her fail, and although she is hard on herself, her parents put a large amount of responsibility and knowledge on her shoulders.

To find out more about the book, you will have to read it yourself, because I can’t give much more away without giving away too much.

I am giving this book 4-5 stars. I would recommend this book but with caution. If you are looking for a piece of really interesting fiction exploring family issues, then you should check it out. However, be warned that you will be put in an uncomfortable place as a reader, and that this is one of those books that is very difficult to put down once you get started, so give yourself some time to finish it if you plan to start.

Also know that this is the type of book that will stick with you for a while, and not necessarily in a happy way. I really appreciate that this novel addresses some serious issues in a unique and hard way, and that there is really nothing friendly about it. It is obvious that Aryn Kyle’s first novel is a brave one.

Read with some sort of cheap beer, like PBR or Rainier, but probably not with food- it’s not really the type of book you want to eat while reading.

Kindest Regards,

Emma

Austenprose

Hello readers,

Here is a guest blog I wrote for Miss Laurel Ann at Austenprose 🙂 Thank you for hosting me Laurel Ann! Have a great Friday!

Miss E

Austenprose - A Jane Austen Blog

Jane Austen, by Cassandra AustenGentle readers: We are happy to add the story of another conversion to Jane to our monthly column, Reading Austen. Today’s guest blog is by Emma Mincks, who shares her personal story of how she discovered Jane Austen and why she is passionate about defending her.

My love affair with Jane Austen’s storytelling began early. I watched the Gwyneth Paltrow adaptation of Emma in eighth grade. At the time, the melodrama and internal conflict that Emma experiences during her discovery of love for Mr. Knightley resonated perfectly with my teenage angst and misunderstandings of love. It also didn’t hurt that the musical score was beautiful, that Emma was a painter (so was I), that she tried hopelessly to set up all her friends (so did I), or that she and I shared the same first name.

Throughout the years Miss Austen has inspired me as a writer and artist…

View original post 819 more words

Women’s Day

Happy Women’s Day.

I don’t know about you, but I had not previously heard so much about International Women’s Day before this year. Perhaps in large part to the recent politicized news about women’s rights, health, and the increase in social media sharing with Twitter, facebook, and blogs, the news is just easier to access?

There were protests in Turkey and around the world to remind people of all nations that women are still treated unfairly to a large extent.

Perhaps the most interesting article I found was from Alternet.org, which discusses the increased awareness towards the sexist and anti-women messages coming out of recent Republican debates.

Of course, this increased awareness in America about our own problems is a good thing, but as the article points out, there are women who are still suffering  around the world as a result of inequality, subjection, patriarchy, and lack of adequate healthcare access.

This holiday interests me, and am eager for your thoughts about it.

What is your favorite or least favorite thing about Women’s Day?  Do you see it as problematic in any way, as a necessary celebration, as your favorite day of the year?

Look forward to hearing from you,

Miss E

Need Your Opinion

Hello lovely readers!

Happy Saturday! I hope yours is going well, and that you have a fantastic weekend.

I want to know your thoughts and opinions about the type of posts we do here, which will help me get an idea of who my readership is and what you enjoy reading most.

Pretty Seattle sun for you! (and maybe wishful thinking for me:)

This doesn’t mean I’m going to drastically change my site, but I am curious about what you are interested in seeing when you visit here.

If one topic wins overwhelmingly, I’ll attempt to write more frequent posts about it!

If you could take my poll, I would really appreciate it!  And, if you mark “other,” or have more feedback for me, please write about it in the comments.

Cheers,

Miss E

Review: Carrots N Cake, Tina Haupert

Another post! This makes three days in a row, not quite the norm yet here on Looking for Pemberley. I do have another book finished, so I figured, why not post about it?

In an earlier post I mentioned the difficulty I was having reading books that were actually on my official list. Instead, I keep reading outliers, the books that find me, that for whatever reason, grab hold of me and make me buy them or check them out from the library. (Ok, so maybe it’s not this dramatic).

One such book is called Carrots ‘N’ Cake, by Tina Haupert, a blogger (you should check out her blog– lots of good recipes and workout stories).

I just finished reading through this one, and thought I’d share my review of it here on Looking for Pemberley. If I’m honest, I was left feeling ambiguous about my reading experience at best.

Here are the problems I had with it:

  • The writing was very episodic, and did not create a coherent story line. If I hadn’t gone into it expecting a story, I would have probably enjoyed it more. It was just like going through the blog’s archives and reading each post. Obviously since I blog and read the blogs of others, I don’t really have a problem with that writing style.
  • Title page of my copy.

However, I do see a distinction between the rhetorical situation of a blog, and the rhetorical situation of a book that is bound and printed. Call me old fashioned, but I feel like the latter requires a bit more forethought, teamwork, and professionalism. It kind of felt like a blog archive in print a lot of the time.

The way the book was organized felt very disruptive, and I even have a pretty short attention span. However, there would be one chapter, that jumped all over the place in time and was hard to follow, with 3-5 recipes thrown in at the end. Honestly, the recipes should have been highlighted more. They are good recipes! The publisher, Sterling Epicure, is more focused on food than story, and the book falls into the Cooking/Nutrition genre. That being said, because there was so much text I felt like it should have been more coherent.

  • The typeface and photo of a carrot at the beginning of each chapter were pixilated and poorly printed in my copy (not sure if this would be applicable to all copies), which just bummed me out and made the design seem cheap. Knowing how expensive publishing hard copies is, I would venture a guess that this book was anything but cheap to produce.

The slightly difficult-to-see text (I also need to get a digital camera)!

That being said, I don’t want to write a scathing review of Carrots ‘N’ Cake. I did really enjoy aspects of the book, and found many positives to it as well.

What worked well:

  • I loved the idea of this book (which is why I bought it in the first place). Her whole premise is that if you eat real food and focus on holistic nutrition, using moderation in your diet and workout, you will likely become healthy. I very much like the idea of eating both carrots and cake, and have been working out a lot lately trying to get healthy, so the premise of the book appealed to me.

Slightly blurred subheading which reads "Real Food."

  • She uses her personal experience, and even though she has little empirical evidence to back up her claims in most cases, she doesn’t really need it. She’s just telling her story and hoping that other people can benefit from it. I can honestly say that although the benefit for me was minimal, I did gain something from reading the book.
  • Her healthy recipes rock. I am definitely going to try some of them, and she did inspire me to get some more protein in my diet, something I struggle with. I also find exercise fulfilling, and have been doing some of the same things she seems to do (except way way less intense). So, for me,  message worked.

I bought her book from Barnes and Noble in the sales bin (trying to keep the Northgate one from going under), so I am not sure where it originally appeared in the bookstore, but I would imagine that you would find it close to the cookbooks. It definitely belongs there.

Cover and spine, lying open on my desk.

My advice would be to read the first couple of chapters, then just skip through to whatever appeals to you most. Because there is no coherent storyline, there is really no reason to read from cover to cover, and honestly, if I go back to this book for any reason, it will be for the recipes, not the text.

I would not necessarily recommend this book, unless you can find it in the sales bin, garage sale, or at a used bookstore. Looking back, I can’t say that I really enjoyed it, although I also didn’t hate it.

Don’t read this if you want to read something with a juicy or plot-driven storyline, and don’t expect great writing or editing.

Read this book if you are interested in Bodypump and nutrition for weightlifting regimes, if you enjoy reading food blogs, and if you want a personal story with nutritionally balanced recipes.

Carrots n Cake title art from Amazon books. As you can see, there is a discrepancy in her name here as opposed to my copy. I wonder if she changed her pen name in later editions?

I give this book a rating of 2/5 stars, and most of that is because of errors from the publishing end, such as the formatting of the book, the editing, and the poor image quality/ lack of design. It gets one star for the great recipes, and one star because I think it’s great that Tina Haupert got an opportunity like this from blogging and I would like to support her in that success.

Read with carrot cake and a protein shake, preferably after a Bodypump class.

Happy eating,

Miss E

Facebook and Pinterest

Follow Looking for Pemberley on facebook! Follow by clicking the link on the sidebar, or by visiting   Here.

Also, I do have a Pinterest, and I love it. If you want to follow me (Miss E) on Pinterest, go for it here. I’ve tried a few times to copy the code from they recommend via their site, and it just appears like coded text in the end, not the image. If anyone knows how to do this on wordpress, I would greatly appreciate the help!

Cheers,

Miss E