A Bit Bookish

The name's Luna.
24/Los Angeles/wannabe blogger & researcher
Just another freak in the Freak Kingdom.
A place for me to ramble about books I love... also probably the only blog I'll ever have that will keep its theme. I don't want my page to be a mess so I'm only going to shelve books starting with what I've read in the past year.
I'm not always eloquent, and I'm certainly not pretentious. I am just a huge nerd who lurks in used bookstores and likes to read and do research for fun.
Geeks unite.

"Alexia, there are knees positively everywhere. What do I do?"

Changeless - Gail Carriger

The combination of Victorian manners and the more "radical" attitudes of characters like Alexia and Lord Akeldama make for a perfect mix of humor and adventure in The Parasol Protectorate series. This second installment is just as entertaining as the first and has wit for days. A plague of humanization has infected the supernaturals of London, and Alexia, as the Queen's employed preternatural, is doing everything she can to solve the mystery of who or what is behind it. When her husband disappears, she knows exactly where to go to find him- but a woman flying on a dirigible all alone? The scandal! Victorian manners and the insistence of her mother land her with an annoying sister and an air-headed best friend to accompany her to meet with the werewolves of Scotland- hence the quote from the scandalized Ivy Hisselpenny upon seeing kilted men. Also in her flying group is a beautiful woman inventor from France with a penchant for wearing men's clothing who seems to have a few secrets of her own. 

Alexia is probably my favorite female character since Hermione. She's very much her own woman, but she's also very much a Victorian Londoner which makes for very entertaining inner dialogue. She's got more sass than anyone in her time can handle and she's not afraid of anything or anyone. 

Alexia's relationship with her werewolf husband is adorable and also pretty hot. They're both hardheaded and full of sass and do that sort of thing where they're always annoyed with one another but at the same time can't keep their hands off each other. They're the only couple that pulls it off, to be honest- in reality or in fiction. 

I love the world that Gail Carriger has created. She did a truly wonderful job of tweaking what we already know about 1800's London into an alternate reality where the government works with vampires and werewolves to keep the peace. It's very believable, and for this sort of fantasy story that's very important to me. I think it's interesting that Gail chose to make Alexia's best friend a gay vampire and that this new woman she meets is a lesbian. I think Gail does a really good job of showing realistically (for the most part) how a very forward thinking person like Alexia would look at homosexuality at this time period, and how others would as well. 

I don't want to give anything away but the ending was a total surprise! I can't even tell you why or how or what without spoiling it but it just left me like "WTF!?" 

Anywho, if you have any interest at all in steampunk, or werewolves (vampires exist too but so far have been more of side characters), if you love witty writing, and if you're looking for a creative new world to get lost in, you HAVE to start this series! 

Here are a couple of passages that I thought reflected the quirkiness and writing style fairly well- it was actually really hard to find quotes and stuff that wouldn't give anything away or that would make sense out of context. 

(Alexia dealing with a creepy dickhead)
"Are you philandering with me, sir?" She was imprudently startled into asking.
"Would you like me to be?" he replied, grin widening. 
Well, that certainly settled that. This was no gentleman. 
"Uh-oh," said Tunstell very softly, backing away slightly.
"What a nauseating thought," said Lady Maccon.
"Oh I don't know," said Major Channing, moving in closer "a fiery Italian thing like you, with a nice figure and not too old, might have a few lively nights left. I always did fancy a bit of the foreign."
Alexia, who was only half Italian, and that only by birth, having been raised English to the bone, could not decide which part of that sentence had offended her most. She sputtered. 
The repulsive Channing person looked like he might actually try to touch her.
Alexia hauled off and hit him, hard, with her parasol, right on top of his head. 
Everyone in the courtyard stopped what they were about and turned to look at the statuesque lady currently engaged in whacking their third in command, Woolsey Pack Gamma, commander of the Coldsteam Guards abroad, with a parasol. 
The major's eyes shifted to an even icier blue and black about the rim of each iris, and two of his perfect white teeth turned pointed.
Werewolf was he? Well, Alexia Maccon's parasol was tipped with silver for a reason. She walloped him again, this time making certain the tip touched his skin. At the same time, she rediscovered her powers of speech. 
"How   dare   you!   You   impudent" --whack-- "arrogant" --whack-- "overbearing" --whack-- unobservant dog!" Whack, whack. Normally Alexia wasn't given to such language or unadulterated violence, but circumstances seemed to warrant it. 

Alexia disembarked... she spearheaded a parade of bustle-swaying ladies, like so many fabric snails, onto firm (well, truthfully, rather squishy) land...The snails were followed by Tunstell, laden with a quantity of hatboxes and other package; four stewards with various trunks; and Lady Maccon's French maid. 
(I just thought that was the most perfect description of those ridiculous Victorian dresses with the big bums, they really do look like snails!) 


"Efficient female, aren't you, Lady Maccon?"
Alexia was not certain whether she should be pleased or offended by the statement, so she chose to ignore it. 

"How does one determine one's own state of enamorment?"
Lady Maccon snickered. "I am hardly one to elucidate. It took me ages to realize I had feelings for Conall beyond abhorrence, and quite frankly, I am still not certain that feeling does not persist unto this very moment." 
Ivy was taken aback. "Surely you jest?" 
Alexia cast her mind back to the last time she had engaged in a protracted encounter with her husband. There had been a good deal of moaning at the time, if memory served. "Well, he has his uses."

Thanks for reading!! 

— feeling nerd

I was inspired by Troy's awesome collection to post this pic I took for an Instagram challenge the other day (5th book on my shelf). We have a few more amiibo figures, but most of them are still in their packages until we get an Exacto knife to open them properly. The DBZ figures I found randomly at Toys -R- Us back in high school. I haven't read this yet because it's a little thick, but it's about the golden age of comics and won a Pulitzer so I'm sure it's amazing. I'll get to it eventually! 
Finishing the last chapter in Changeless and posting a review sometime today, then gathering notes on Ch. 3 of The Fellowship for discussion. 

How are you guys spending your Saturday? 


[IG: @a_bit_bookish]

The queen reading makes your Monday better.
The queen reading makes your Monday better.

Alexia's Clothes

"Make mine with extra coffee!" 

Haven't posted a selfie in a while so why not. 
Work today, ridiculously tired, therefore all the coffee in my extra kool mug.
[IG: @beat_magic & @a_bit_bookish] 

Marilyn, photographed by Eve Arnold, 1955
Marilyn, photographed by Eve Arnold, 1955

Here's a picture of Marilyn Monroe reading to make your Monday more beautiful. 

Reading progress update: I've read 90 out of 506 pages.

The Fellowship of the Ring  - J.R.R. Tolkien

Every time I try to put it down and walk away I pick it up like two minutes later. I feel like I should pace myself but I don't want to stop adventuring!! 
I'm probably going to end up reading like half of it by tomorrow. 



Murder Your Darlings - J.J. Murphy

I'm going to make this really quick and informal- I've put off this review too long and now it's just bugging me. Here's the synopsis from the back: 



On this particular morning, legendary wit Dorothy Parker is not the one under Manhattan's famed Algonquin Round Table. Someone else is-- and he's not dead drunk, just dead. 

When a charming aspiring writer from Mississippi named Billy Faulkner becomes a suspect in the murder, Dorothy decides to dabble in a little detective work, enlisting the help of tablemates Robert Benchley, Alexander Woollcott, Robert Sherwood, and other famous and fabulous literary cohorts. 

With a marvelous Manhattan mystery on their hands, it's up to the Algonquins to outwit the true culprit-- preferably before cocktail hour-- and before the clever killer turns the tables on them...

This book was a lot of fun! It read a bit like a fan fiction, but with a literary angle. J.J. Murphy is a long time fan of Dorothy Parker and you can sense how much fun she had writing the story. She does a really good job of building her interpretation of Dorothy and of making her a very likable main character. Murphy captures the wit of the time period perfectly, but at times I felt that the jokes were almost too numerous. Then again, I don't know much about the interactions between the members of the Round Table and seeing how they were writers maybe they were able to keep up a constant witty repartee. Anyway, I enjoyed all the interactions between the Round Table members and I loved the scenes of prohibition era parties and quick glimpses of New York City during one of its most magical periods. I thought that the writing was smart, but it took a little longer than I had hoped for me to get interested in the mystery. Because it lagged a bit I ended up putting it down for a long time, but I think that the second book will be a bit more polished as far as the story goes, and I'm looking forward to continuing the series. 
As far as quick paperback mysteries go, it's definitely worth checking out, especially if you're a fan of Dorothy Parker, New York in the 20's, or mysteries with a somewhat cozy vibe. Great for a rainy day or a long afternoon in a waiting room.  

I really hope you guys enjoy this as much as I did.

— feeling amazing

Thank you, internet. Thank you. 

Quick shelfie- one of the many little piles throughout my house. Still don't have a bookshelf, but I make it work. 

Day off chills, c.1920
Day off chills, c.1920

Finally, a review!

— feeling booklikes
The Ruby in the Smoke - Philip Pullman

Sally Lockheart has just lost her father to the perils of the sea, but the mystery surrounding his death is far more tempestuous. Left with nothing but a note in unfamiliar handwriting instructing her to ask a Mr. Marchbanks about something called "The Seven Blessings", Sally begins the quest to find out what really happened to her father and to find a new place to call home. On the way she finds a scruffy office boy whose fondness for Penny Dreadfuls saves his ass (and hers) more than once and a lighthearted young photographer who is happy to help Sally explore the dangerous docks of London to solve the mystery of The Seven Blessings. 
The Ruby in the Smoke is an almost perfect YA novel. Philip Pullman never steers away from interesting or dramatic subjects just because his characters are young, and that's what I love most about his books. Though Sally tries to act as a young lady should during this time period, she knows she doesn't fit in. She's logical and businesslike and knows a good deal about guns thanks to her ex-military father. Victorian London was a dirty and dangerous place, and Sally's search for the truth leads her through back alleys to opium dens and dirty docks where murders are so common that kids working on the river gleefully pull out the bodies to search them. What I liked most about Sally was that she wasn't this totally confident, sassy badass. It would have been unrealistic for her to have started out that way during this time period. Instead she second-guesses what she says out loud and scolds herself for not being the badass that she wants to be, until she naturally comes into her own as a young woman. 
The Ruby in the Smoke is a fantastic mystery, a rollicking adventure, and has a unique female protagonist. It's a YA historical fiction novel, but I think this one even more than The Golden Compass is for everyone- Sally is 16 and her adventure is an adult's adventure through a real period in history, as opposed to Lyra who is younger and lives in a fantastical alternate world. I read it straight through in two sittings in airports- I think it took me maybe 4 hours all together- I got lost in the story immediately. I know the cover Booklikes uses makes it look terrible but you know the saying- go find a copy with a cuter cover so your bookshelf isn't ugly. :] 



[I still haven't cemented my rating system, so I have a really hard time with the stars... Whatever, it was a good book, you guys get it.]

Freedom on My Mind, Volume 1: A History of African Americans, with Documents - Deborah Gray White, Waldo E. Martin Jr., Mia Bay

Freedom on my Mind (Part 1) is the first textbook I've ever read almost entirely cover to cover. African American History is something that's been skimmed over in many of our history classes, and for the first time in a long time I felt a new world of history open up to me. Freedom touches on every aspect of the early African American experience, much of which was too horrifying to even imagine. Though it's written in textbook format, it doesn't read quite so dry- the authors are really good at summing up the information you need while not letting the language get boring. They also don't attempt to skirt around the more difficult subjects, like the treatment endured on the Middle Passage, the rape of countless African American women, and the ugly racial stereotypes which continued to be perpetuated throughout the early 20th century. 
The best thing about this textbook are the documents that are included with each chapter. By connecting the historical figures and events they're writing about to physical evidence of the laws and customs of the time, the glossy film we as a nation have put over slavery and the institution of racism is peeled back. Although no one in America denies that slavery existed or is unaware of how terrible it was, by and large we sort of pretend that the horrors of slavery were isolated. Films like Gone With the Wind are evidence of Americans' denial of the true face of the Antebellum era.
The textbook ends just after the Civil War, when black men were struggling to exercise their new right to vote and a half-assed effort toward reconstructing the South had begun. As someone who's always had an interest in The Underground Railroad (it was the first non-fiction thing I read about as a kid) and the early history of the United States, a lot of what we went over in class and in the textbook I already knew, or at least had a base understanding. However, I learned a lot of new things as well and got into a lot more detail about things I was already aware of.
Something that was completely new to me was that not all abolitionists were fighting for true equality between the races. There was "radical" abolitionism and "conservative" abolitionism- radicals believed in true equality, and they were few and far between, even in the North. Many more Northern whites were conservative abolitionists, who were appalled by slavery but still saw blacks as inferior people who should be sent "back" (by the mid-late 1800s most of the slaves were born in America, so they were more American than African) to Africa or who needed guidance from whites. They believed in a slow movement away from slavery and compensation for the slave owners. Radicals were people who believed blacks, whites, women, and men should all be treated with equal respect, that slaves should be freed immediately and that they should be compensated for their suffering, and the former slave owners should get nothing or be punished. While it was disheartening to learn that even some of the abolitionists were racists, learning about how free-thinking the radicals were was very inspiring. 

Honestly, I'd recommend this to anyone who is interested in American history, or history in general. It's kind of crazy that I'm recommending a school textbook right now- that should speak to its' awesomeness! It's not even too pricey because it's not from one of those corrupt big textbook companies. I think I got it new for about $40, and it was totally worth it. 


Never stop learning! 


I have found my new obsession.

— feeling excited

Have you met Phryne Fisher?


Australia's witty and lighthearted mystery show, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, is based off the books by Kerry Greenwood, which I've been wanting to read. Miss Fisher is the ultimate lady detective- she uses her wit to overpower the staunch sexist attitude of the time period and prove herself useful as an investigator to Detective Inspector Jack Robinson, she knows how to handle any difficult situation, and she actually helps the people that she investigates. Her friendships are my favorite part of the show, I think. I love watching her interact with people who are bemused by her adventurous spirit. Also, she and Detective Inspector Jack have a sort of Mulder/Scully thing going on where you want them to be together so bad but they just tease you every episode.
I want to be Phryne Fisher. She's confident, strong, smart as a whip and able to float through any social situation with wit and grace. I think what makes her such an interesting character is her range of experiences- she wasn't born into wealth, she was lucky enough to inherit it later in life, so she's worldly and knows how to talk anyone in any level of society. She shares her wealth because she knows what it's like to not have it. She gets along best with those outside of her own "class"- her taxi-driver, communist friends (who can't help but adore her even though she's rich), her maid and butler, and her oldest friend, a free-thinking (and probably lesbian, if I'm going to make a judgement based on wardrobe) woman doctor. And Miss Fisher's clothes, that jewelry, those garters! My heart aches for her 1920's velvet flapper dresses, her silk robes, and her super classy underthings. She also carries a golden gun in her purse and a small knife in her thigh high stockings (a long time style/safety goal of my own). Honestly, she's my new literary role model. If I had her class and even half of her level of cool in social situations I'd never want for anything again. 




I could go on and on about why Miss Fisher is awesome, because there are even more reasons that I haven't stated, but I don't want to give too much away. 


The pilot episode was very strong, which is always a good sign- X-Files, Sherlock, and Supernatural all had extremely good pilots in my opinion. The only complaint I have about the series is that I can't figure out what's going on with her and the guy that she goes to visit in jail in the first episode- I can tell that she knows he killed her sister, but he's about to get out of jail because he's done his time and there was so little proof. But nothing ever came of it- or at least, not in the first six episodes. 


There are three seasons on Netflix, and they each have about 13 episodes, so if you're looking for something quirky, clever, and stylish to obsess over, look no further! 



Elon Musk, Science Fiction lover


So I don't know much about this guy as a person (I tend to assume that all super-rich CEO types are at least 40% evil but I've been proven wrong before), but his love for science fiction books (which is mentioned throughout the article I've quoted below) gives him at least a little credit in my eyes.


(talking about his "existential crisis" as a young teen)
"I read a lot of books, and it didn't sound like anything really had the answer to what's the meaning of life," Musk says. "And then it's like, 'Is it all meaningless?' I was reading Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, and it was terrible. No one should read them. It's too depressing. They were not happy people." 

The answer eventually came (as it does for many disaffected teenage boys, even those not reading Nietzsche) through the cult 1979 novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, a writer known, perhaps not coincidentally, for his interest in both environmental conservation and fast cars. 
"I thought Adams was actually quite good because he was making the point that the question is the real difficulty," says Musk. "The universe is essentially the answer, so what's the question? As we strive for enlightenment, we better understand what questions to ask about the nature of the universe. It seems like there's a fundamental good in that. So that seemed like a good way to apply my efforts-- to strive for greater enlightenment." 

[Vogue October 2015, Meghan Daum]

Macbeth - William Shakespeare The Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer Paradise Lost - John      Leonard, John Milton Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift, Robert DeMaria Jr.

School reads...

I haven't had much time for leisurely reading (although my stack is seriously tempting me), but at least my school assignments have been fairly interesting, if at times somewhat tedious. 


I re-read Macbeth for an English paper, but I just kept wishing that I was back in high school English joking with my friends about Ian McKellen as Macbeth yelling at the ghost of Banquo. 

I also read The Wife of Bath's Tale a while back which, surprisingly, was actually pretty cool. I made a note that if and when I ever teach it, I would compare the Wife of Bath to Samantha Jones from Sex and the City. It was awesome to read a character like that in something like Chaucer- it made the language feel a lot less tedious.

Currently, I'm working my way through Paradise Lost, but it's slow going. Still, it feels like I'm accomplishing something as I read it. I think I'm enjoying it more because I just think of Supernatural as I'm reading. Also, it's in my giant English textbook, which I like to plop on a table and mark with washi tape tabs.

Alongside the first few books of Paradise Lost, my English teacher assigned a couple of chapters out of Gulliver's Travels. I just started reading the part where he's marooned on an island of intelligent horses and 'Yahoos', hairy animal-like savages who somewhat resemble humans. I've only read a few pages of it but it reminds me a bit of The Time Machine. I can't decide if I'm going to read the whole book yet.


I still read In Search of Respect here and there, but it's tough to read about the lives of people who really never even had a sliver of a chance at a good life. There are a lot of things that you don't really think about when considering why people can't escape extreme poverty. In one example I read, a neighbor of Philip's "subjects" (for lack of a better word) gets a good job at an office- a rare accomplishment and her first decent-paying job. She buys a new outfit for work- a bright yellow, tight jumpsuit. Her friends and boyfriend think she looks gorgeous and wish her good luck at her job- they don't even realize that the outfit alone will be enough to get her into trouble, and maybe even let go. They have no access to what "dressing nice" means in that situation. It's mind-boggling, but it's understandable- they're stuck in the bubble of their neighborhood's street culture, where "dressing nice" means something very different. 


I'm still keeping up with my readings in Freedom On My Mind for African American History class. Currently we're learning about the Underground Railroad... well, everyone else is learning about it. I already knew pretty much all that we've covered so far- I've had an interest in it since my dad taught me about it when I was very young. Harriet Tubman was ridiculously badass and if you haven't read much about her, you really should. 


It's been great reading epic works of literature and learning so much, but damn I can't wait to be done with this semester and get started on all my fun books! 

Currently reading

The Two Towers
J.R.R. Tolkien
Progress: 35 %
Jane Eyre
Charlotte Brontë, Susan Ostrov Weisser
Progress: 126/608 pages
The Man in the High Castle
Philip K. Dick
Progress: 154/288 pages
The Complete Sherlock Holmes 2
Arthur Conan Doyle, Kyle Freeman
Progress: 433/709 pages