Monthly Archives: October 2018

Review: Red Fortress: History and Illusion in the Kremlin

Posted 19 October, 2018 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Red Fortress: History and Illusion in the Kremlin
By: Catherine Merridale
Format/Source: Hardback; my copy

The Kremlin is the heart of the Russian state, a fortress whose blood-red walls have witnessed more than eight hundred years of political drama and extraordinary violence. It has been the seat of a priestly monarchy and a worldly church; it has served as a crossroads for diplomacy, trade, and espionage; it has survived earthquakes, devastating fires, and at least three revolutions. Its very name is a byword for enduring power. From Ivan the Terrible to Vladimir Putin, generations of Russian leaders have sought to use the Kremlin to legitimize their vision of statehood.

Drawing on a dazzling array of sources from hitherto unseen archives and rare collections, renowned historian Catherine Merridale traces the full history of this enigmatic fortress. The Kremlin has inspired innumerable myths, but no invented tales could be more dramatic than the operatic successions and savage betrayals that took place within its vast compound of palaces and cathedrals. Today, its sumptuous golden crosses and huge electric red stars blaze side by side as the Kremlin fulfills its centuries-old role, linking the country’s recent history to its distant past and proclaiming the eternal continuity of the Russian state.

More than an absorbing history of Russia’s most famous landmark, Red Fortress uses the Kremlin as a unique lens, bringing into focus the evolution of Russia’s culture and the meaning of its politics.

As the blurb states, the Kremlin is such a notable structure in Russia and so representative of the state that it makes sense that a book would be written looking at the structure itself and its place in Russian history and development. This isn’t my first encounter with Catherine Merridale’s research; I previously read another book of hers when I was in grad school and knew her work to be quite solid and unique in approach.

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Review: Germany: Memories of a Nation

Posted 17 October, 2018 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Germany: Memories of a Nation
By: Neil MacGregor
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Whilst Germany’s past is too often seen through the prism of the two World Wars, this series investigates a wider six hundred-year-old history of the nation through its objects. It examines the key moments that have defined Germany’s past its great, world-changing achievements and its devastating tragedies and it explores the profound influence that Germany’s history, culture, and inventiveness have had across Europe.

I believe I first came across this book as it was reviewed on The Economist. I think. Anyway this isn’t the first time I’ve encountered the topic of examining German history from its artefacts and cultural products; I first came across this approach in grad school when we were discussing Germany in the post-Berlin Wall period. The perspective is interesting, and in a way more tangible in determining the changes and character associated with a people’s history and identity. So I was pretty excited to check out this book.

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Review: Dark Orbit

Posted 15 October, 2018 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Dark Orbit
By: Carolyn Ives Gilman
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Reports of a strange, new habitable planet have reached the Twenty Planets of human civilization. When a team of scientists is assembled to investigate this world, exoethnologist Sara Callicot is recruited to keep an eye on an unstable crewmate. Thora was once a member of the interplanetary elite, but since her prophetic delusions helped mobilize a revolt on Orem, she’s been banished to the farthest reaches of space, because of the risk that her very presence could revive unrest.

Upon arrival, the team finds an extraordinary crystalline planet, laden with dark matter. Then a crew member is murdered and Thora mysteriously disappears. Thought to be uninhabited, the planet is in fact home to a blind, sentient species whose members navigate their world with a bizarre vocabulary and extrasensory perceptions.

Lost in the deep crevasses of the planet among these people, Thora must battle her demons and learn to comprehend the native inhabitants in order to find her crewmates and warn them of an impending danger. But her most difficult task may lie in persuading the crew that some powers lie beyond the boundaries of science.

The premise of this book sounded interesting so I kept it on my wishlist some time ago. Came across the book again some time ago and decided to pick it up on a whim; was in the mood for some science fiction as well as a break from all of my school readings.

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Bookish and Not-So-Bookish Thoughts

Posted 10 October, 2018 by Lianne in Miscellaneous / 1 Comment

Bookish and Not-So-Bookish Thoughts is a weekly blogging event hosted by Bookishly Boisterous. It allows book bloggers (and non-book bloggers) to write about pretty much anything, bookish or otherwise (i.e. share exciting plans for the weekend, rants on things they’ve encountered during the week, etc.).

  1. Thank God I’m on Reading Week. The last two weeks have been torture. Sure, I’m slowly sifting through a ton of schoolwork right now, but at least I’m away from school/the classroom. Getting through some of those lectures have been tedious…
  2. Meanwhile I picked up some shifts over the past weekend, nights namely plus an overtime right before Thanksgiving. So guess who spent most of Thanksgiving sleeping? #thisgirl
  3. Honestly though I’m still working on what it means to have some kind of work-school balance. Because school is boring me at times and I’m so tempted to pick up shifts here and there because a) money and b) my schedule is looking sad af these days but then I have to remind myself that I have a tendency of overreaching (which I think I’ve been doing lately and that’s why I’m feeling so burnt out). It’s a vicious cycle.
  4. Last Friday was my birthday, which was spent mostly running errands. However my family and I had dinner at an Italian restaurant called Scaddabush which was nice. It was all in all a rather quiet affair, as have been some of my previous birthdays.
  5. On of my birthday gifts this year, wheee. Don’t think I’ll get around to reading this any time soon but it’d be super cool to re-read the first three books before getting aroudn to the last one…
  6. Books I’m currently reading: Neil MacGregor’s Germany: Memories of a Nation (absolutely fascinating!), Catherine Merridale’s Red Fortress: History and Illusion in the Kremlin (kinda meh so far as it’s reading more like a standard Russian history textbook rather than focusing clearly on the Kremlin), and Deborah Harkness’ The World of All Souls 🙂
  7. As you can see I’ve been in a non-ficiton sort of mood. I think it’s because of all of this theoretical readings I have to do for school.
  8. One of the big ponderous things I’ve been going through the last few weeks is what my analogue set-up is going to be for 2019. Exciting stuff, but also a touch stressful as clearly I’m the type of person who works with more than one planner over the course of the year. Anyway I picked up my stuff yesterday (including a Hobonichi Techo *_*) and am looking forward to getting ready for 2019! 😀
  9. A coworker got me into pumpkin spiced latte. Why haven’t I drank these previously?
  10. I have book giveaway happening right now. Ends Sunday night!


And that’s the ehhh of what’s going on with me lately. Back to schoolwork for me now. How are you doing?

With Quiet Ardency — Giveaway!

Posted 7 October, 2018 by Lianne in Books, Writing / 1 Comment

I actually meant to post this a few days ago but I’ve been so busy these last few weeks that I just didn’t get around to it >_< Anyway, my latest poetry collection, With Quiet Ardency, is available online now on all book retailer websites (Amazon, the Book Depository, etc.) as well as It’s a poetry collection that’s a bit more personal and due to a number of setbacks and emotional upheaval, the release was delayed for some time. More about the book in this blog post but it’s available now, haha.

I actually hosted a giveaway on my poetry IG account a while ago in celebration of its release but I’m hosting a giveaway here as well 🙂 This contest is open internationally and will run from 07 October to 14 October 2018 @ 11:59PM EST. Please use a valid email address when you enter in the Rafflecopter below. The will be contacted the following day and they will have 24 hours to claim their prize or I will raffle another winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please let me know if you have any questions about the contest and whatnot. Good luck! 🙂

Also, just a heads up, for the month of October, my books Shall I Be a Poet Instead? and With Quiet Ardency, are 30% off over at 🙂 Please check it out!