Tuesday, May 9, 2017

REVIEW || Alex & Eliza

Their romance shaped a nation. The rest was history.
1777. Albany, New York.
As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball.
Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history


There's this thing I'm going to start doing before I review books. It's called "Grain of Salt" obviously, and basically what this little section will contain is everything you need to know about me before you read my review of this book. Everyone's reviews are basically just opinions and nobody is completely neutral. This review is my opinion, it's not fact. Just because I hate something doesn't mean YOU will. We're all different people approaching stories from different angles. 

Here's how I approached this story: I absolutely loved the broadway musical Hamilton. I love the HBO John Adams series, I love the tv show Turn, I'm a pretty big fan of historically set dramas, and I enjoy deep stories with "slow" moments describing scenery and backgrounds and giving me history. I don't mind drudging through slow moments. Sometimes they're important. I'm just a really big fan of detail and depth. And I am the biggest fan of love stories. I almost can't read a book unless it has a love story.

SO KEEP ALL OF THE "GRAIN OF SALT" SHIT IN MIND WHEN I TELL YOU THIS REVIEW IS GIVING ME A LOT OF FRUSTRATION BECAUSE IT'S NOTHING OF WHAT I WANTED. To be clear, what I wanted was more quality Alex and Eliza stories. What I got was a cliche romance about two people whose names are Alex and Eliza, and they vaguely resemble historical figures.

This is a historical romance aboUT ALEXANDER HAMILTON AND ELIZA SCHUYLER DO YOU KNOW HOW FREAKIN EXCITED I WAS FOR THIS BOOK??? THIS BOOK REPRESENTS EVERYTHING I LOVE: HISTORY! ROMANCE! AND HAMILTON! When I read that synopsis I fell instantly in love. Just short of having pirates, this book is everything I love. I realize I've basically restated the same thing for three sentences in a row, but I am just really in love with the entire concept of this book okay?

But I'm also like really overwhelmed. I haven't written a review in nearly a year, so I'm a little rusty. Also I have a LOT of feelings about this book. It's moments like this where I wish I was a BookTuber so I could just scream my emotions with various facial expressions instead of having to articulate myself *sigh* the struggle.

I'm overwhelmed because I had high expectations for this book and was unfortunately disappointed. This book takes a really unimaginative, basic, rosy view on a complicated relationship during a nasty time in history. The author stripped these rich historical characters of their depth and left them as paper dolls, and it makes me very sad.

I always was under the impression that Hamilton was a hot headed, brilliant, womanizer, who clawed his way up in the world. He was as much of a force to be reckoned with as the hurricane that destroyed his home island in his youth. In this book, however, he's only interested in getting Eliza. There's mention of his past as a flirt, but as a reader I never got to actually see it. Historical Hamilton is a go getter, and in the book he very rarely went and got.

Big historical names like Lafayette, and Laurens, and John Andre, are all characters in this book that play impactive roles. However, the author doesn't develop them at all. The characters come into the picture, and then they leave and they're forgotten. As a reader, I wasn't given enough time with these characters to care about them later on when their story peaked.

Eliza, Peggy, and Angelica are all individually interesting historical characters. In the book though, they're basically interchangeable replicas of each other. All three of them are great beauties with sharp tongues, which wouldn't really be an issue except the author kept pointing these two traits out to the readers throughout the entire story. Oh and it must be noted, multiple times, that they're all great beauties but Eliza is the best without KNOWING she's the best.

And it frustrates me even more because the author info dumps a lot of the Schuyler family history. I know she did her research. She gave it all to me in the book! But she didn't infuse it into the characters. She just drops a history lesson, and then doesn't apply that history to the characters. It's like there's two separate platforms in the book: All the historical research, and then a love story involving historical names only.

Without my attachment to the historical background, and just looking at this story from a romance point of view, this is a sweet little tale of love during the revolutionary war. It's cute, and entertaining, but it still short changes its character development and info dumps. It's a solid 3 out of 5 star book.

But I am very much hung up on the historical inaccuracies so I'm giving it 2/5 stars.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

I've listened to a lot of Hamilton

Dear friends and followers I've accumulated over the past two blogs, a figment account, and via twitter... 

So you might have noticed that this is a new blog, and I've been gone for like a really long time. And you might be like "Aahhh SJ where have you been??" Or you might be like "SJ who are you?" or maybe you're thinking "I'm not actually going to read this I just accidentally clicked on the twitter link maybe if she has really descriptive gif/image placement I can get the gist of her rant." Whatever you're thinking, rest assured I will explain myself, and re-introduce myself and I will be very wordy about it.

Where is the old blog?
I deleted it! BUT DON'T FREAK OUT! It's only partially deleted (because I can't figure out how to completely erase it). If you just google my name the old blog still pops up I think. But once this blog gets going you'll see that I've not really changed my style at all. I'm still the same person! :) My old blog was created when I lived with my parents, and now I'm out of their house. I just wanted a new blog to go with the whole "new life" theme I've been pushing.

it's me. it's still me. just in a new location with maybe a fraction less angst.

Will you take new profile pictures for twitter and the blog?
Yes. Eventually. And they will be the most glamorous headshots my phone's shattered self facing camera can produce.

What have you been up to?
OOOOOHHHHHHHH ho ho ha that's a mega long story, and boy do I love telling stories. But I'm also one of those people who completely word vomits every detail about themselves and then regrets it later on. So I'm going to try and practice some restraint and keep the specifics to myself. For those of you who are going to skim, let me save you some time and just tell you that this is 87% me gushing about how awesome it is being an adult and having health insurance. Here are the bullet points for everyone else:
  • I started my first job (at a bookstore!!!!), but that job went out of business, so then I went into retail as a sales person and let me tell you what... while I love all my coworkers and the discount is totally bomb, having to interact with customers and clean up their messes and witness the blatant disrespect they have for salespeople absolutely infuriated my introverted self. So I got a full time job as a small parts packager for a motor company, which is honestly such a step up, like guys I have health insurance. 
  • Got a boyfriend. For some of y'all that's old news, but I'm totally psyched that he's still in the picture, and I was like "babe we can get married and YOU can have health insurance" and he was like "HELL YEAH I'LL GET NEW GLASSES" but his parents said to calm down.
  • I've gotten really into walking and exploring my town, going to parks, hiking trails, dragging my anti-social dog to dog parks where she walks right under my feet.
  • I signed up for Hulu. Been watching the Mindy Project and a lot of BBC romances.
  • Got spotify. Listened to the Hamilton soundtrack only a couple thousand times. My favorite songs are You'll Be Back, and Yorktown (HERCULES MULLIGAN), and for some reason I just really dug all of Aaron Burr's songs, and anything by Daveed Diggs. And I'm one of those people who doesn't give two shits about Laurens and I'm sorry.
this moment is my favorite part and always will be. Burr's "I'M WILLING TO WAIT FOR IT" is a close second.
  • Paid taxes for the first time.
  • lost some friends and gained some better ones and got in touch with people i hadn't spoken to in a while
  • And a license so like I can drive now and I have that awesome job so i can pay for the gas to drive and i can also save money to get my own car to drive and i'm just really pumped this is such an accomplishment for me
  • also i've been paying off a surprise $1000 debt from that one year of college i did :) yeah. It sounded sketchy but I did my research and it was a legit debt. Anyways, that's almost completely paid off, and I'm so relieved I could cry.
  • My eyes suck and I can't really see stuff most others can see at a distance, but it's okay BECAUSE NOW MY EYES ARE COVERED THROUGH HEALTH INSURANCE 
  • Pretty much whenever I drive anywhere I point at restaurants and say "I'm going to eat at you" "and you" "and gawd you look good" and then I do go and eat at the restaurants
  • I turned 21 so I can drink now, and I've suddenly lost all desire to do so??? Like I'll forget I have the power to publically consume alcohol. 
  • I got my dog a car seat. I'm the type of person who has dog car seat now.
  • I got brand new birkenstock look a likes for $10. Yes I count that as an accomplishment worthy of note.
  • I'm running out of things to say i literally just work and eat and walk and listen to hamilton and watch tv or play with my dog. 
So as you can all clearly see I've not been doing much. I've just accumulated some adult perks and responsibilities and a really cool dog.

my photography has not gotten better and it never will. we all just need to accept that.

Why have you started a new blog?
The whole reason I used to blog was because it gave me a sense of purpose, and to get up in the morning. But then my life kind of derailed because i'm dramatic, and I floundered about for a few months trying to figure out who I was as a person. I couldn't really keep ahold of myself AND the blog. Like nothing bad happened, it was just a typical case of a sedentary teenager becoming an adult with no real life goals. Anyways, I'm slowly pulling myself together and finding my way.

Something that has never changed throughout my entire life is that I love books. I also like being in charge of myself and my schedule. My new goal in life is to have my own bookstore. That is MY goal, that I found by myself without help from anyone else, and it's something that doesn't rely on anyone else. Who knows if I'll ever actually reach that goal, but at least it's there. The point is I am happy with my life. I have a new hope, and I felt it was time for a new blog.

What have YOU been up to? Also I have missed a full years worth of book releases/news, so somebody please catch me up on what's good...