Monday, April 27, 2015


Originally released: 2014
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode
Directed by: Morten Tyldum
Based on: (loosely) Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges

Guest review by Anachronist from Portable Pieces of Thought!

the imitation game


Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, the film portrays the nail-biting race against time to break the code of Enigma.

During the winter of 1952, British authorities entered the home of mathematician, cryptanalyst and war hero Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to investigate a reported burglary. They instead ended up arresting Turing himself on charges of 'gross indecency', an accusation that would lead to his devastating conviction for the criminal offense of homosexuality - little did officials know, they were actually incriminating the pioneer of modern-day computing. Famously leading a motley group of scholars, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers, he was credited with cracking the so-called unbreakable codes of Germany's World War II Enigma machine.

My impressions:

It is one of these movies which seem to be aimed at ignorant people – the less you know about the historical Bletchley Park and breaking the code of the German encryption machine the more you will enjoy it. Some might call it easy entertainment I call it a dumbed-down, run-of-the-mill hogwash, at least when it comes to the historicity.

I grant it – the director had several good ideas. One of them was showing how in times of war ordinary people were forced to play God, deciding whether others should live or die. What is better: to doom the whole nation or the crews of several ships? How to measure the value of life? Few psychopaths enjoyed that insane power but the majority of ‘normal’ people, caught in it, were left scarred and disgusted by themselves permanently because the answer to such a dilemma is never clear or easy.

mark strong
Mark Strong enjoying a doorframe.

Another highlight was the fate of Alan Turing, played brilliantly by Cumberbatch - it proved again that if you know how to count, count on yourself only, your country won’t move a finger unless they need you very badly. What else? Mark Strong, playing the all-powerful MI6 director leaned against door frames in a very compelling manner. Oh, and I must add that children-actors in the flashbacks to Turing’s boarding school years (Alex Lawther and Jack Bannon) were wonderful. Now I can return back to carping and let me assure you, I hardly know where to start.

keira knightly

Should I bash the director for casting Keira Knightley, a lady whose facial expressions remind me strongly of Tom Marvolo Riddle a.k.a Lord Voldemort, the main baddie from Harry Potter books? As long as she doesn’t smile she looks lovely but when she smiles she sneers, there is no kinder word for it. Anyway she made Joan Clarke look shallow and vapid. Or maybe I should focus on the fact that this movie, set in a place where the majority of employees, about 75% or more, were women still somehow failed to pass the famous Bechdel test? When the movie Joan Clarke finally talks to one of her female colleagues in a pub they talk of course about men *rolleye*. Serious matters are just for their male counterparts. You see? Spoiled for choice, that’s what I am.

turing's cohorts

Turing's one-dimensional cohort of cryptographers was a compilation of cliches without one interesting feature (you get the cocky, handsome one, the nerdy, antisocial one, the intelligent, delusional Russian spy etc, etc). The screenwriter’s decision to employ a time-shifting structure contributed heavily to the film's been-there-done-that atmosphere, while the inclusion of needless obstacles within the narrative's back half served little purpose other than to pad out the already a bit overlong running time.

bletchly park codebreakers
Photo of actual codebreakers working at Bletchley Park.

Now the main lead. Turing was a brilliant mathematician, a crucial figure in the theorization and engineering of digital computing; and the biggest brain in Bletchley Park’s Hut #8, the unit in Britain’s World War II intelligence hub that succeeded in breaking the German’s Enigma code, thus shortening the war by as much as two years, give or take, and saving as many as twenty-million lives, perhaps more. Still the movie shows not enough of his thinking and reasoning, it focuses on his quarrels and romance with Clarke. Overall I felt the movie sentimentalized and simplified Turing, who, as far as I know, sometimes wished he was a machine and probably preferred the company of his digital creatures to any of his many lovers, whether casual or serious. That there is no sign of any of these lovers in the film is another failing – there are just empty accusations and an unbelievable confession, heard by a deus-ex-machina police detective (Rory Kinnear). How could the director dumbed down Turing so much? Had his character really told the detective what he did at Bletchley, he would have been guilty of a crime far more serious than homosexuality. He would have committed high treason for violating the Official Secrets Act. It was still a hanging offense.

In 1952 Turing was convicted of engaging in homosexual acts, for which he was sentenced to chemical castration (the option he preferred to two years in prison). As a result not only were his brain and body messed up by high dosages of estrogen, he also was barred from the government funding he needed to continue his life’s work on artificial intelligence. His death, just a few days before his forty-second birthday, from arsenic poisoning was most likely a suicide although possibly an accident or even an assassination. Instead of exploring the mystery of that tragic event the director decided to show a pointless, stunted investigation which led nowhere and a pair of cops whose role was to emphasize British prejudices.

Final verdict:

As much as I wanted to suspend my disbelief and take pleasure in the actors’ brilliance, I found The Imitation Game lacking credibility on every level. The historical accuracy was nowhere to be seen and the big emotional revelations at the story's conclusion fell completely flat. Pity.

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Snapshot and #Readathon Wrap-Up!

mischief managed

The Spring 2015 Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon is complete, and that means it's time for recovery and the end of event survey. Behold!

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

Probably around 1:30 AM. I guess that was Hour 19 for me? I had been commenting on blogs for about five hours and still hadn't visited everyone on Team Sherlock, but I just couldn't do it anymore. Even Sofie was totally done.

Sofie is so done with cheerleading.

After that, I tried to read for a bit but didn't make much progress before my brother's alarm went off at 5 AM. My brother's alarm is like the clock striking midnight in Cinderella: it means I have officially stayed up too late and it's time to get to bed.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

Think of England by KJ Charles was the absolutely perfect book for the Readathon! I didn't want to put it down and I had so much fun reading it.

I didn't get very far into What Did You Eat Yesterday?, but I think that would also be a good choice. Except for the hunger. The terrible hunger.

yum gif

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

From the perspective of a cheerleading captain, I think somehow language needs to be taken into consideration. There were a lot of blogs I visited that weren't in English! Maybe match up non-English blogs with people who can speak the language, if that's possible.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

Loved all the Instagram challenges. It seemed like the minichallenges were really popular this year, which is awesome!

5. How many books did you read?

One. I only ever read one.

6. What were the names of the books you read?

Think of England by KJ Charles

7. Which book did you enjoy most?

See above.

8. Which did you enjoy least?

Not really applicable.

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

Yes–have fun and spread the book love.

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

I will definitely participate next time! This was the best Readathon I've had in a long time; it was perfect. It was a gorgeous day so I spent most of it outside, reading a great book. Today the weather's cold and rainy, so it's the perfect day to spend inside, recovering!

As for roles, I pretty much always read. I may or may not sign up to do other things, depending on how stressed out I am at the time. Being a cheerleading captain was fun and surprisingly low-stress, if you're interested in going that route.


Consumed: After the mid-event update, I ate one bison burger, drank several (cough) martinis, put together a cheese and cracker plate for me and my mom, and finished the night off with a glass of rosé cava. Because rosé cava.

Minichallenges: I participated in the Hour 17 Goodreads Challenge. I tried to explain minichallenges to my mom, but she got confused, so I helped her enter the Shelfie challenge. (Explaining minichallenges to my mom was kind of like my own personal minichallenge this Readathon.)

And now for non-Readathon things!

Reviews posted this week:

I compared two New Adult novels I read recently, Attraction by Penny Reid, and Undeclared by Jen Frederick.

Posts in the queue:

I didn't get around to writing a review of The Imitation Game this week (if you remember my Sunday Snapshot from two weeks ago, I had some major problems with it), but the lovely and perceptive Anachronist from Portable Pieces of Thought did, and she offered to let me share it here. Check it out on Monday!

Subscription boxes received this week:

stitch fix clothing

I got my second Stitch Fix on Thursday. This time I took some of my fellow bloggers' advice and was very specific about what I wanted: I asked for one fashionable spring scarf; a pair of dark, skinny blue jeans; a handbag large enough to hold a book (I felt like I had to include that last bit); and two fun, weekend-casual dresses I could wear with flats.

To be honest, this Stitch Fix was not as successful for me as the first. The jeans fit perfectly and were exactly what I wanted, but the purple shirt dress was awful and made me feel fat (side note: when have I ever worn a shirt dress? That would be a never). Not the greatest feeling. The bag was very nice, but when was the last time you saw someone wearing a cross-body handbag as opposed to, like, a messenger bag or diaper bag or something? 2001? I find them uncomfortable and not on-trend. The scarf and maxi dress were okay enough for me to keep them, but I almost sent 4 pieces back.

Me cuddling Sofie and trying out my new scarf.

Basically, I'm growing less and less impressed with Stitch Fix. Rocks Box is cheaper, better, and I don't have to tell them exactly what I want every single time in order to get great pieces. In fact, I've never told them what I want, they just guess based on what I like on Instagram. If I do order another Stitch Fix–IF–I'm going to just leave it up to the stylists and see what happens.

Theme of the week:

LED billboard

Learning new things! So the owner of the gun shop where I work bought a digital LED billboard–you know, the ones that play video and stuff–and tasked me with programming it. I was like, "This is going to be interesting," because I've never programmed anything, let alone a billboard. But the basics turned out to be pretty easy and I spent the week designing and downloading images to attract customers. So far their favorite is this gif of a kitten shooting an AK-47:

kitten firing an ak-47


Gosh, I feel like if you've made it to the end of this post you deserve a medal or something. I guess maybe out this cool story about a PhD chemistry student who illustrated her thesis like a comic book.

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

#Readathon Fist Bump

colbert fist bump

We're only a little over halfway through the Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon and I've finished a book! Yes!

Here's some mid-event survey goodness:

1. What are you reading right now?

Right at this moment, nothing.

2. How many books have you read so far?


3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

This same one I was looking forward to when I started. lol (I know, that's a vague answer. I'll probably change it up for a bit after this and read a graphic novel for a while.)

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

Yes, while I was sitting outside reading, I FELT A SPIDER CRAWLING UP MY NECK. It was a big spider, too. I screamed and brushed it off, of course.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

I think that my mom liked the breakfast casserole I made and actually said so. That was nice!


Read: Think of England by KJ Charles. Really good book! It reminded me a bit of The Great Impersonation by E. Phillips Oppenheim, only not ridiculously OTT.

Consumed: Some palmiers (French puff pastry cookies) and 2 glasses of water.

Minichallenges: I completed the 100 Years minichallenge. That was tough! I don't think I typically read the types of books that will be remembered 100 years from now.

Cheered: Going to start cheering soon! Deleted the non-participating blogs from the spreadsheet.


I am starving, so hopefully going to have dinner post-haste. While that's brewing, I'm going to give Alex + Ada a try.

After dinner, I plan out breaking out the laptop and cheering, and also making my mom write an update. Even it's just on Goodreads.

How's your Readathon going so far?

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

#Readathon "Start" Post

readathon button

Hello, everyone! I hope you're all having a most excellent time with this edition of Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon. I actually started a few hours ago, but haven't had a chance to write my start post yet! So here it is:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Colorado, USA

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Hmm, maybe What Did You Eat Yesterday? by Fumi Yoshinaga.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

The breakfast casserole I made, which I already had!

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

Well, I enjoy long walks on the beach (not really, I'm landlocked). I have three scotties, my favorite TV show of all time is Chuck, and I'm a libra.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

This Readathon is going to be different from other Readathons I've participated in for two reasons: one, I'm a cheerleading captain this year; and two, my mom is participating with me! I'm so excited. Hopefully I can get her to participate in a few minichallenges and do one or two updates here, since she doesn't have her own blog.


Read: 2 chapters in Think of England by KJ Charles, maybe 10 minutes' worth of The Ladies' Paradise by Emile Zola on audio.

Consumed: 2 cups of coffee (breakfast blend and French roast), 1 large piece of breakfast casserole.

Minichallenges: None so far.

Cheered: Haven't cheered yet, but went through the spreadsheet to sift out blogs that weren't participating.


Once I finish this post, I'm going to hie off to read some more of Think of England and bug my mom about minichallenges, then I'll probably fold laundry and paint my nails while listening to The Ladies' Paradise.

I'm not planning on cheering until later tonight, but I'm going to keep checking the cheering spreadsheet for maintenance issues and if anyone has questions.

Happy Readathon! See you in a few hours.

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

New Adult vs New Adult: ATTRACTION by Penny Reid and UNDECLARED by Jen Frederick

After successfully avoiding new adult books for well on three years, this month I somehow found myself reading two nearly back-to-back: Attraction by Penny Reid (which is actually the first volume in a serial), and Undeclared by Jen Frederick. I read Attraction because it was by Penny Reid and I didn't realize it was NA; I read Undeclared because it's by Jane Little of Dear Author and I was naturally curious as to what one of her books would be like.

On the surface, both of these novels are really similar: both heroines are college virgins who aren't very confident or sociable, and who've been harboring a tendre for an unattainable alpha male. They each also have a fashion-conscious, not-virginal roommate who dresses them and tries to get them to socialize more. And both feature sororities and fraternities and in some way address socio-economic disparities in a university setting.

And they're both okay reads with some problems.

attraction penny reid
Let's start with Attraction. Kaitlyn Parker is a slightly neurotic, super-geek science girl who has nothing in common with totally dreamy frat king and captain of the row team, Martin, aside from two things: one, they both come from famous parents. And two, they're lab partners in chemistry class. Kait is attracted to Martin, but she's not going to let him know that because he's a jerk and there's no way he could possibly be interested in her, anyway. When she overhears one of his frat bros plotting to drug and blackmail him, however, she decides to warn him and ends up invited to his private island house party over Spring Break. Will Martin be able to convince Kaitlyn he's not all jerkface before Spring Break's over? And will Kaitlyn get him to help her finish their assignment? Questions!

I loved the beginning of Attraction. It pulled me into the story right away. Why is Kaitlyn hiding in a closet? Who are these people plotting against her lab partner? Will she be able to stop them? I also loved Kaitlyn because, hellooo, quirky heroine; and her interactions with her roommate, Sam, were so funny. If this book had been entirely about Sam and Kaitlyn, I would have been happy.

But then. Martin Sandeke shows up. And he is cartoonishly alpha. I've read paranormal romances with werewolves who were less territorial. He doesn't seem to have any personality aside from bossing people around, and Kaitlyn's attraction to him seems inexplicable because it's based entirely on how he looks. Since I can't see what he looks like, I'm not amenable to relying solely on his physical attributes as the justification for their coming together. Some of the scenes with him were super cheesy, and I started getting impatient with Kaitlyn's tolerance of his completely unreasonable behavior.

I was also frustrated because, while I really liked that Reid brought up the sexism and privilege that's part of some (most? I honestly know nothing about fraternities or sororities) frat houses, she only just brought it up and didn't address it, if that makes sense. Like: Oh yeah, these rich white boys don't think you or anyone else is human and you're just there for their amusement. Now let's talk about how hot Martin is! Huh?

Overall I wanted Attraction to feel like it was more grounded in reality. And the cliffhanger at the end was a killer. I'll probably read the rest of the serial, but not until it's all been published.

undeclared jen frederick
In Undeclared (what is it with the one-word titles?), Grace spent most of high school carrying on an affair-via-letter with a Marine named Noah. But when Noah got out of the Marines, he friendzoned her and she's spent the last two years trying to get over it. Now Noah is attending the same university and is ready for them to be more than friends. Will Grace learn to trust him again?

Like Attraction, Undeclared started off pretty good. I liked that Noah and Grace knew one another through letters and that some of the letters were included. I also liked that Noah was an ex-Marine, even though he didn't act very Marine-y to me. But whatever.

As the novel went on, though, I started getting bored. I didn't feel any chemistry between Grace and Noah, and there wasn't a lot of verve or humor the story. But when Undeclared really lost me was when it was revealed that Noah's big dream was to buy a self-serve frozen yogurt store.


fascinating gif

So random. At no point previously in the book did he mention anything about frozen yogurt. Then the owner of the froyo place calls out of the blue to tell him he needs to come up with $10k immediately if he wants to match a counter-offer on the store. His reaction is to completely lose his shit and go into panic mode, setting up an illegal kick boxing fight where he can potentially make 10k. Ummm, it's frozen yogurt. Pretty sure a better opportunity is going to show up at some point. Anyway, he beats the guy senseless and gets his money, and neither frozen yogurt nor buying the store is ever mentioned again. I kept hoping he'd be arrested for assault and sent to prison before he had a chance to have sex with Grace, but no such luck. The last fifty pages of Undeclared were a haul; I felt like they sucked up months of my life.

I might have wanted Attraction to be more realistic, but even with the sense of total fantasy and Martin's crazy behavior, I think Reid put a lot of thought into her characters and their stories and what they want, whereas Frederick's characterizations were really shallow. Martin's alpha male behavior might have been OTT, but at least it wasn't boring, and it did seem like he and Kaitlyn were developing a connection. I feel like Reid really took some chances and had fun with her book, whereas Frederick's story felt uncreative in comparison. To be fair, it is her first book, and it's not at all terrible, but I was expecting more passion.

While I definitely think Attraction is better than Undeclared, I'm glad I read Undeclared because it made me appreciate Attraction more. Annnd I think I've just talked myself into pre-ordering the next book in Reid's serial, Heat.

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday Snapshot: April Showers

In Sunday Snapshot, I summarize my week in the thug life. Let me know how your week went in the comments!

What I'm reading this week:

Various deadlines forced me to pick up more books than I can really keep up with at once. I started The Trip: Andy Warhol's Plastic Fantastic Cross-Country Adventure and found it disappointing, and my expectations weren't even that high. I raced through an ARC of All For You, the next Laura Florand novel, and LOVED it. I wish I could just read Laura Florand novels constantly. After that, I kicked around different novels for few days and have finally settled on Undeclared by Jen Frederick, which Colette had to remind me I bought because it's by Jane Litte of Dear Author.

Movies watched this week:

Chef, starring Jon Favreau, Emjay Anthony, and John Leguizamo

This is actually a rewatch for me. Aside from the fact that I find it VERY difficult to believe Favreau has enough game to sleep with two of the sexiest women in Hollywood (Scarlett Johansson and Sofía Vergara), it's a delightful movie about a man who discovers what's important to him and reconnects with his son during a road trip. There are a ton of fun cameos, too. Definitely recommend this one, especially if you're a foodie!

Reviews in the queue:

I'd like to write a more comprehensive review of The Imitation Game, but I'm not sure I'll have the time this week.

Evangeline's computer explodeded, so The Ladies' Paradise readalong–or the recapping of it, at least–is currently on hold until that gets fixed.

Reviews posted this week:

graphic novels about artists

I reviewed three graphic novels about artists over at Book Riot this week: The Sculptor by Scott McCloud, The Salon by Nick Bertozzi, and Kiki de Montparnasse by Catel and Bocquet.

I also posted a review of The Gold Bag over at The Project Gutenberg Project, which honestly was pretty terrible (the book, not my review–hopefully not, anyway).

Subscription boxes received this week:

ipsy glam bag

I got my Ipsy Glam Bag this week, and I love the bag itself. But there were some quality control issues this month: the lipstick case broke apart as soon as I opened it, and a friend on Instagram had the same problem. They also sent out an email about the eyelid primer having a green tinge to it (?). Mine didn't have that issue, but it's kind of a crappy primer anyway. It makes me look like I have the eyelids of a fifty year old.

I also got a Hello Fresh box. This is where they send you all the ingredients and recipes to make three meals, and you just have to chop the veggies and cook it. The owner of the gun shop had a coupon for it and offered to share. So far the meals have been really good. My brother actually had seconds, and my mom said, "We could maybe make this again sometime." Mikey likes it!

Theme of the week:

Mural in Lower Downtown Denver.

I'm not really sure where this week went. I went up to Denver with my mom again so she could visit with a friend from high school, and then we knocked around LoDo and Tattered Cover for a while. That was the highlight. I spent the rest of the week agonizing over an exhibition review and going through ATF background checks at the gun store looking for misplaced records. Fun times. I'm just glad I didn't get a papercut.


Dewey's Readathon is next/this week. I know I said that last week, but I was just really really anxious for it to start. Don't forget to sign up!

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday Snapshot: #Readathon Preparations!

In Sunday Snapshot, I do what I want. Tell me how your week went!


What I'm reading this week:

No progress on 168 Hours. I did start The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, though, and Attraction by Penny Reid. And I'm still working my way through The Ladies' Paradise.

Movies watched this week:

the imitation game poster
The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley

You know what's another of my favorite things? When Hollywood completely eliminates thousands of women from a historical event, replaces them with a single token female character, and turns the story into Men In Rooms Doing Things. I think Furious 7 does a better job of passing the Bechdel Test than this movie.

Reviews in the queue:

Recap of Chapter Four of The Ladies' Paradise

Reviews posted this week:

I posted my review of Supermind by Mark Phillips over at The Project Gutenberg Project on Monday, and I posted my recap of Chapter Two of The Ladies Paradise here on Tuesday.

Subscription boxes received this week:

rocks box jewelry

I got my second Rocks Box this week. I'm not as into these pieces as I was the last set, but I still like them.

On the subscription box front, it's kind of crazy to think that I'm still getting one box every week. I really need to cut down on the boxes; I don't make that much money.

Theme of the week:

branding arrangement by william matthews
Branding Arrangement by William Matthews

This week was much better than last. I only had one deadline to deal with, no one I knew got robbed, and I went up to Denver for the Joan Miró exhibit at the DAM on Wednesday (that's not a pic of the Miró exhibit above, btw; they didn't allow photographs in it).

I also went to a new writers' group meeting on Tuesday and joined a critique group for the first time. Hopefully this will get me back into the habit of writing fiction, although I'm already stressing out about it. We will see.


readathon stack

Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon is this (next? The 18th, anyway) week and I'm starting to get excited! I'm especially excited this time because I convinced my mom to join in! It's going to be a party!

I'm already organizing my Readathon TBR. As usual, I'll just be happy to finish the books I'm currently in the middle of. But assuming I do manage that, then there's a copy of Alex + Ada waiting for me at the library, or I might start on A Case of Possession by KJ Charles, Ms Marvel Vol. 1, Black Run by Antonio Manzini, or All for You by Laura Florand.

I'm also a cheerleading captain this year (there's a phrase I never thought I'd say in high school) for the first time, so be prepared to have me stalking yer blogz.

As for snacks, haven't decided. I tried to get my mom's input but she said she didn't know, so. I'll probably make an egg casserole or frittata for breakfast, then have street tacos for lunch.

If you're participating in the Readathon, let me know and I'll stop by on my cheerleading rounds! Have a great week, everyone.

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

THE LADIES' PARADISE Readalong: Chapter Two

the ladies' paradise emile zola book cover

All through the month of April, Evangeline from Edwardian Promenade and I are hosting a readalong of the Emile Zola novel, The Ladies' Paradise, which was the basis for the PBS series The Paradise. I'm listening to the book on audio, narrated by Lee Ann Howlett.

On Saturday, Evangeline recapped Chapter One, wherein we met our young heroine–Denise Baudu–and the site of her adventures, an alluring department store called The Ladies' Paradise. Check out Evangeline's post if you need to catch up!

In Chapter Two, Denise crosses the street to The Ladies' Paradise to apply for a job, and we discover working at TLP might not be as glamorous as its shiny window displays suggest. The owner, Octave Mouret, has created a small kingdom under its roof–his kingdom–separated into numerous departments, with almost its own social hierarchy. And while Mouret's not a micromanager, he's not exactly down with the bonhomie, either. When he reprimands the accounting department for joking around, they act like "whipped dogs," and he "plays upon the selfish instincts of his employees," setting them against one another and fostering an atmosphere of not-entirely-friendly competition. Probably why the sales clerks in the drapery department are such a bunch of catty bitches.

When it comes to Mouret, the term wolf in sheep's clothing definitely leaps to mind. He's always charming, he never raises his voice, and he appears to be quite the lover of women–after all, he built a store called The Ladies' Paradise!

mouret the paradise
Hey girl, I discounted silks because you look so pretty in them.

But in actuality, he's kind of a jerk with a massive ego who doesn't care about women at all beyond the money he can get out of them. Bourdoncle, one of Mouret's "lieutenants" and work BFF, predicts:

You know they'll have their revenge... the women. They will have their revenge; there will be one who will avenge all the others. It's bound to be.


the paradise denise
OMG so shiny.

Anyway, Denise walks into TLP after spending a good half hour giving herself a pep talk about acting confident, which only partially works. Almost as soon as she walks into the store, she's overwhelmed with the beauty of the merchandise. Mouret spots her and is enchanted by her enchantment with his goods. IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. Then Denise's eyes meet Mouret's, and she's like *blush*, and he's like, *smoulder*, and everyone else is like, *MASSIVE EYE ROLL*.

Once in the dress department, Denise can't get the catty bitches to tell her where Madame Aurélie, the manager, is or when she'll be back, or even acknowledge Denise's existence. Things aren't looking promising!

Finally Madame Aurélie shows up to reprimand one of the sales clerks and Denise gets her chance at an interview. She totally bombs it: she gets that whole dry mouth thing going, keeps repeating she's very strong for no good reason (you see a lot of weight lifting going on here, Denise?), and she's never worked in a Paris house before. Madame Aurélie is clearly thinking this one's a giant nope, up until Mouret slithers his way into the situation, intrigued by the fact that Denise's uncle owns the old-fashioned drapery shop across the street. You can practically hear the wheels clanking in his head.

Madame Aurélie gives her the "don't call us, we'll call you," line and Denise reluctantly leaves, crushed with how the interview went but not sure if she wants to work in such a place, anyway. On the way out, she meets the equally shy and timid Henri Deloche, also applying for a job at TLP, and they are adorkably awkward together. Is romance in the works? Will Denise get the job? (Probably, the book's titled The Ladies' Paradise and not Au Vieil Elbeuf. The Old Cloth, there's an attractive name for a store!) Questions.

Overall I enjoyed this chapter, although it was a little dry up until Denise walked into TLP and Mouret started making eyes at her. There was also a lot of talk about Jews. Mouret is apparently "a bigger Jew than all the Jews in the world." Yay?

Check out Edwardian Promenade on Friday to read Evangeline's recap of the next chapter in The Ladies' Paradise!

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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sunday Snapshot and Happy Easter

Sunday Snapshot is an update of my week in reading, blogging, or lack thereof. Let me know how your week's been going!

Chillin on a back porch.
Another crazy week. Seriously. Crazy.

What I'm reading right now:

The Ladies' Paradise by Emile Zola–for the readalong with Evangeline from Edwardian Promenade. She posted her recap of Chapter One yesterday, and I'll post on Chapter Two later this week (see? This readalong is totally doable.)

The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles–Finally started this book Anachronist told me I would enjoy. I'm loving this world and characters so far!

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam–Haven't had much time to read this so far (ironically), but what I did get through was skim-worthy.

Movies watched this past week:

I was pet sitting, so I got through a lot of movies.

gone girl movie
Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike

I really enjoyed this one! Yeah, the plot is completely implausible once you start thinking about it, but I didn't care too much because I don't consider the movie as a thriller. It's more like a really twisted Stepford Wives. lol

jersey boys movie
Jersey Boys, starring guys I've never heard of and don't care to.

There was A LOT less music in this film than I was expecting. They didn't start singing Four Seasons songs until an hour into the film! Before that, the guy who played Frankie Valli sang covers, and quite honestly his voice sounded awful. The music wasn't integrated into the story very well, and the movie was totally boring.

Idiocracy, starring Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph

I can see why Middle America never latched on to this one. There are some really funny lines, but I don't think it's as clever as it seems to think it is, and the targeting of certain socio-economic groups *coughredneckscough* left me a little uncomfortable.

furious 7
Furious 7, starring the laconic Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson

Oh my god, this movie. I enjoyed the hell out of it, but by the time it was over my brain felt completely numb. I laughed, I cried (I actually did get teary-eyed at the end with the tribute to Paul Walker), and I slapped my forehead a few times.

Reviews in the queue:

Recap of Chapter Two of The Ladies' Paradise.

Reviews posted this week:

Um, no reviews posted. I did WRITE two reviews, but never got around to editing and posting them.

Subscription boxes received this week:

try the world marrakesh box

I got my Try the World box on Monday. Try the World basically sends kitchen table travelers food from different parts of the world. This month's locale is Marrakesh. I don't know... it is a cool idea, and I love their packaging, but I also have some problems with it, first and foremost being that they charge your credit card before they ship and don't send any sort of invoice or receipt to let you know they've done so. Secondly, I don't think the boxes are as strong as they could be. Take the Marrakesh box, for example–they mention in the info booklet that mint tea is an essential part of Moroccan culture, but there's no mint tea in the box. Like okay? One would think of all things tea would be pretty easy to import and ship. At $39 per box, I don't think it's worth it.

gaping hole
A reno gone wrong? No, the gaping hole where there once used to be a bathroom and a closet, c/o a Chevy Tahoe.

Theme of the week:

Oh lordy this week.

So, I had to pet sit, which is always fun but cuts down on the time I have to write. On Monday and Tuesday I was scrambling to get my i's dotted and t's crossed for Book Blogger International's Comics and Graphic Novel month, in addition to meeting all my other deadlines. On Tuesday I was so buried I was half an hour late to an editorial meeting. I would have begged off (I'm following Timothy Ferris' advice to never attend meetings), but that guy wanted meet for drinks after. I didn't get home until after ten and I was EXHAUSTED.

Then on Wednesday morning, someone ran a Tahoe through the back of the store where I work and stole several pistols. Not many, but still, everyone was pretty upset and stressed out. I spent the last half of the week reviewing the store's security footage, which is not as interesting as one would think. But still less tedious than entering inventory.


Here are some pics of the pets I sat last week and a plant I had fun photographing.

Becky Cat
Sancho wants me to put his dog bowl away.
Plant you can stick to the fridge!

Hopefully next week is all-around better for everyone!

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