As the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Reading Karbo is like listening to a dear friend talk about the legendary designer over brunch." This is exactly howAs the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Reading Karbo is like listening to a dear friend talk about the legendary designer over brunch." This is exactly how I felt, even though the time I spent reading this book was actually during the morning and afternoon rush hour subway commutes between home and the office. Karbo is like that friend introducing you into the world of fashion, letting you in on some "Chanelore" and sharing some insider tips on how to live a Chanel-inspired lifestyle. Coco herself is not without her faults, and Karbo lays it out for us, sparing no scandal, and letting us decide for ourselves how we want to perceive the impeccable Coco Chanel herself. Admittedly, I didn't know much about the woman behind the luxurious lifestyle and decadent designs, but I appreciate that this book gave me an honest picture of her... Well, okay. Karbo's dishing it out for us is honest as it could be, considering that Coco loved to enshroud herself in mystery and mystique as part of her marketing strategy in connecting with high society and selling her beloved "dresses" (she called all of her designs "dresses," even if they were clunky costume jewelry or straw boat hats with a peacock feather or carnation adorning the side). Overall, it's an enjoyable read and a great way to start off learning about the world's beloved international fashion icon, who came from humble beginnings and was able to build her empire, one dress at a time. ...more
This book is a great resource for anybody searching for a mentor but who's still feeling stuck in a rut and trying to climb out of it. Reading this boThis book is a great resource for anybody searching for a mentor but who's still feeling stuck in a rut and trying to climb out of it. Reading this book is exactly like grabbing a cup of coffee with Aliza over a few mentoring sessions — her sensible advice, encouragement, and funny-yet-clear examples of what to do and not to do, as well as some of her personal anecdotes, have given me inspiration and even more motivation to strive for the career and dream job I want. Nothing is ever too far out of reach, as long as you're willing to work for it and go the extra mile once in a while. ...more
I read it with the same voracity that I read "Jane Eyre," and I appreciated the nuanced literary touches that Syrie James incorporated into the narratI read it with the same voracity that I read "Jane Eyre," and I appreciated the nuanced literary touches that Syrie James incorporated into the narrative, using some of Charlotte's actual letters and phrases. I read it, knowing that the ending would leave me feeling bereft since I knew some of Charlotte's life story from my own research about the celebrated author. But it was nice to know that Arthur Bell Nicholls loved her to the very end, and, along with her father and Mrs. Elizabeth Gaskell, had been so meticulous in preserving her personal letters and manuscripts for all of us to enjoy today. ...more
I remember King's memoir a few years ago and completely enjoying his brutal honesty and his advice. Truthfully, I've only read "The Eyes of the DragonI remember King's memoir a few years ago and completely enjoying his brutal honesty and his advice. Truthfully, I've only read "The Eyes of the Dragon" when I was in the 7th grade. I haven't read his other works in the horror genre, but I've always held a deep respect for King, since he's deft at narration and creating suspense within the reader. I wanted to learn how to do that, too, so I decided to read "On Writing." I like that King keeps it real in this memoir; he doesn't hide behind a bruised ego and he offers some great practical advice on how to approach issues that writers often have, whether it's starting their first draft, trudging through writers' block, the process of editing and cutting out the unnecessary, as well as accepting the rejections/criticisms so as to turn them into learning experiences in honing his craft. I find that it's an invaluable resource to have in your arsenal of reference books on writing. Even though I've read it already, it's helpful to refer to King's advice once in a while for a quick pick-me-up and a chuckle. ...more
It's not particularly brilliant in its plot line or in it's characterizations, but it was funny enough if you're looking for a quick summer read to enIt's not particularly brilliant in its plot line or in it's characterizations, but it was funny enough if you're looking for a quick summer read to entertain yourself. For me, it was a guilty pleasure kind of book... And I admit that I actually read the subsequent two books in the series. ...more
Fast-paced, filled with action, and comprised of characters that question their identities and their place in their seemingly perfect society composedFast-paced, filled with action, and comprised of characters that question their identities and their place in their seemingly perfect society composed of different factions and belief systems. I liked that the protagonist continuously questioned everything and mapped out her own set of values in a world where it is dangerous to be a free-thinking individual, to be someone considered "Divergent." It's a thrilling story about how one's choices and morality will ultimately impact the future and shape the world in which they live. Eventually, the characters learn little by little that you cannot be a true leader without possessing all of the qualities that each faction values: selflessness (Abegnation), bravery (Dauntless), intelligence (Erudite), honesty (Candor), and kindness (Amity). It's not about completely embodying one trait at the expense of rejecting the others, but rather embracing all of these qualities and accepting them as part of the human condition in order to experience life in its entirety and face each challenge by being true to one's self.
I'm definitely reading the next books in the series. ...more
Foster wrote a concise and clear-cut guide for reading literature. I must admit that I already learned most of the analytical skills he mentions in thFoster wrote a concise and clear-cut guide for reading literature. I must admit that I already learned most of the analytical skills he mentions in the book throughout my high school and college English courses, but I appreciated his passages about Carl Jung's concepts of archetypes and the collective consciousness that we all share in order to connect to various stories despite our different experiences of reading the same bodies of text. On a psychological level, this is an essential aspect for communication and storytelling; the complexity of the concepts, language, and representations we use everyday are what help facilitate basic human connections and the continuous exchange of ideas between different people. It highlights the universality of the human experience - though we are all individuals going through different life experiences we are still able to connect on an emotional level to find meaning in our literary heroes and antagonists so as to make sense of our own lives and create meaning for ourselves.
If you're a seasoned bookworm who's already well-versed in classic American and British literary traditions, then you probably wouldn't appreciate Foster's tone or much of the topics he covers in this book, since he does point out a lot of the obvious. However, I wouldn't be so quick as to dismiss it completely and give Foster's guide a one-star rating. I think this guide is good to keep on your shelf if you're:
(a) completely lost as to how to analyze literary texts. (b) a novice student in American and British literature and need help to write those thematic essays for your English class. (c) a bookworm and/or writer who just wants a lively refresher because you miss taking literature and creative writing classes.
Overall, I'd recommend it to any friend who might find it challenging to discern allusions, symbolism, and theme independently in their readings - i.e., the overall "intertexuality" that allows us to connect with the writer and the story through our own perceptions as readers....more
I haven't read a book like this in a long time - a novel full of magic and surrealism. I'm glad I did. At first, it strikes you as a cliched star-crosI haven't read a book like this in a long time - a novel full of magic and surrealism. I'm glad I did. At first, it strikes you as a cliched star-crossed lovers kind of story (and you're thinking to yourself, "please don't be another overrated romance novel devoid of actual literary substance"), but after reading the first five chapters, you might it that it's surprisingly good (depending on your literary interests and whether you like Morgenstern's narrative style enough to suspend your disbeliefs for the time being). You eventually become intrigued because you wonder if the characters are wielding real magic as their weapons, or if it's all just tricks and illusions. After all, the backdrop is a circus, Le Cirque des Rêves. It's a clever setting that Morgenstern doubly uses as a plot device, and which her protagonists also use as a device to advance their strategies in the treacherous game that they were brought up to play against each other. As both the reader and the audience (or "rêveur," if you'd prefer), we're turning the page wondering what's going on and what we are going to see next, and whether this whole web of interlacing magical schemes will unravel itself and reveal a wondrous spectacle worthy of our applause. And by "wondrous spectacle," I mean a miracle, for how do you escape a future that already seems to have been shaped for you by someone else and your only option is to survive in order to secure someone else's victory?
The power dynamics are brilliant. The one question that begs answering in the reader's mind is wondering just WHO is in power? Who set up the game? Prospero the Enchanter and Mr. "A.H.", in their attempts to outshine the other? Or was the circus really a continuation of tradition which Cecilia and Marco have contributed to building through their exhibition designs? This of course, leads to other questions: Could the circus itself be a symbol of something else - a premise on which the a promise of the miraculous is to be witnessed? How many people have participated in such an arena in the past, either as players or innocent bystanders, and how many others' fates are intertwined in the future of Le Cirque des Rêves? More importantly, do Marco and Cecilia have alternatives instead of killing the other? And if so, what are the implications of their choices, and how do they deal with the consequences?
I've read other reviews here complaining that the story is more plot-driven than it is character-driven, which deters them from giving this novel at least a 3-star rating (as in, they at least "liked" it, according to Goodreads' rating scale). But as a writer, I say, WHO CARES? It's a minor and inconsequential quibble that need not be picked at for the sake of being picky. For a story is a story whether it's driven by plot or by character - it all depends on the author's intent. What matters is that there is, first of all, a plot (one that captures our interest to even bother spending our time and mental energy to read it in the first place) and that second, there are a cast of various characters, both leading and supporting roles, whom I would hope are dynamic and complex enough to undergo more than just one conflict throughout the narration of the story (especially if they're the protagonists, as in Marco's and Cecilia's cases).
There is enough evidence in the text to suggest that Marco and Cecilia are well-developed characters that drive the plot. If you want to use the psychoanalytic approach, just consider their childhoods. Cecilia Bowen, the lovely Illusionist of Le Cirque des Rêves adored by rêveurs all over the world, is the estranged daughter of Prospero the Enchanter (Hector Bowen, to those who know his legal name), a reckless magician who didn't even care for her mother and who saw his then-five-year-old daughter and her magic capabilities to manipulate objects (and heal open wounds and broken bones) as a potential weapon to win the game he has set up with his rival, Mr. "A.H." Meanwhile, Marco Alisdair, the assistant to the proprietor of the circus, was a nine-year-old orphan when he was adopted by a mysterious man named Mr. A.H. Marco was trained by his cold and distant instructor in the art of etching runes to construct alternate psychological perceptions of reality, and he worked behind the scenes to ensure that Le Cirque des Rêves continued to function as it toured the world and set up its black-and-white tents for its nocturnal spectacles. Both Marco and Cecilia grew up with broken childhoods with less-than-wholesome role models, both of them bred to battle against each other without ever knowing who the other was, and both wondering if their defeat will really mean their ultimate demise as they work tirelessly to perfect their roles in the circus, unbeknownst to the rêveurs.
A mysterious circus that only opens at night, a fatal bet between two old rival magicians, two young people who never met forced to battle against each other using subtle magic and creativity by their instructors and who only wish they were free to make their own choices in the midst of the game. Just reading Morgenstern's omniscient narration felt like a novelty. It echoes with the familiar and also terrifies you with the subtle implications that no matter what the protagonists do, they're doomed... or are they?
Erin Morgenstern's "The Night Circus" brings to mind the question that Edgar Allen Poe once posed - "Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?"
Like Chandresh Lefevre, Isobel the fortune-teller, the Burgess sisters, Frederick Thiessen, Bailey Clarke, and all of their fellow rêveurs, we're left to ponder this question. Maybe a coin flip is just a penny in the air waiting to drop, and once it drops, it just drops. Or perhaps there's more to it than we first envisioned. It could be that some things are never truly as they seem. Hence, our continuous search for meaning in life, and our desire to create our own purpose....more