Update: The Life of a Literary Agent Intern

Right now I’m in the middle of reading The Night Circus which is really good. It’s been on my to read list for a while and I figured since I wasn’t sure what to read next I would go for it. I wanted to get a book from the library, but most of the books I want to read are new so everyone else wants to read them too. So they are all out. But I managed to buy The Night Circus and am enjoying it so far (review to come once I finish it).

The reason I’ve been delayed in reading for fun is because I have been reading a lot of things for work. I have been going through the queries pile, which is always interesting and entertaining. It’s pretty cool when you come across something that is really well written, or a fresh story idea or both! I also get to drink tea while doing this which makes me feel very civilized.

Anyway, in my last round of going through queries I requested two full manuscripts from the author(s) for agents to looks at to see if they want to work on them. They both got back to me that day so now I have two manuscripts to read before forwarding them to an agent with my reader’s report. Both have good potential. I’m getting close to the end of one which I am enjoying, but also have ideas and critiques on how it can be improved which is nice. I’m looking to finish this manuscript by the end of the weekend and start on the second which is also longer, but looks good as well.

I am able to walk to work which is really nice (especially the fact that I can avoid commuter traffic, which was handy last week during UN week). I get to listen to my music and enjoy being outside twice a day, but that also means that I don’t read for fun as much considering that subways and busses = good reading time for me. So most of my reading is for work, which I enjoy.

Anyway, that’s what’s been going on both in my reading life and in my real life. Happy weekend everyone!

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The Other Side of The War: City of Women by David R. Gillham

I haven’t written anything in a while because I have been pretty busy this fall. I am interning at a literary agency in New York which has been great! Most of my job is reading manuscripts and giving feedback on them, which is very similar to how I approach reading on my own anyway. I have also been using a lot of the information I learned from my Creative Writing and English classes in my critiques which has been pretty cool – I feel like I am actually using my degree right out of college which does not always happen…

I am still working on figuring out the whole reading for work vs. reading for fun schedule, but today I was able to finish the book I have been reading. I finally decided to delve into the books that I got at BEA and I was not disappointed. City of Women by David R. Gillham came out this past August. It tells the story of Berlin during World War II when all the men were off fighting the war, hence the title of the book. The protagonist, Sigrid, is just trying to maintain her daily routine of going to work, living at home with her mother in law, and dealing with the frequent air raids over Berlin. When life gets too hard for her, Sigrid escapes to the cinema, and to the memory of a previous affair she had had. Soon however, Sigrid’s life goes from being an empty void to being filled with a secret and a purpose that she shares with Ericha, a young girl who lives in her building, to counteract the effects of WWII on war torn Berlin and its citizens.

What really drew me into the novel was the level of story telling and description that Gillham includes in every detail of the novel. 1940’s Berlin becomes real through his writing, and the setting takes a role as it’s own character within the story. One review described it as claustrophobic, which I definitely saw come across in the descriptions of the city. To convey such emotion in the setting, I think, is very impressive. According to his website, Gillham used to be a screen writer which comes across very well within the narration of his story. It makes the whole thing very gripping.

I also thought that the characters were very well done. Sigrid is extremely strong willed and comes across as unique in her dark and drab war setting. Her side kick, Ericha is also equally strong willed and interesting. Gillham makes sure that even his minor characters stand out and have multiple layers behind their exterior.

The world that Gillham creates for his characters is one that is both relatable and oddly foreign, which I think makes the book a great read. I was impressed. I just don’t know what to read next…

Graceling by Kirsten Cashore and Strong Female Leads

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Well I am back from camp and am enjoying some well earned down time. Right now I am sitting in one of the leather chairs in the Starbucks in Union Square on a crowded day so I consider that a win in my book.

I am a bit behind on this blog because of my time away so today I will be reviewing a book I read a few weeks ago. One of my friends has been telling me to read Graceling by Kirsten Cashore for months so when I finally had time and didn’t know what to read I gave in and read her copy.

Graceling takes place in a fantasy world where certain individuals are born with graces or special talents that set them apart from the rest of society. They are identified by having two different colored eyes. Katsa, the heroine of Graceling, is graced in the art of killing and is used by the king as his own personal weapon. Despite this bleak existence, Katsa has managed to make a few acquaintances in her society, and go on more humane missions of her own. It is on one of these missions when Katsa meets Po, another Graceling from a neighboring kingdom. From there the story continues.

People who enjoyed reading books by Tamora Pierce when they were younger (or if they still enjoy her books) will like Graceling. As I was reading I felt like Katsa and Alana, one of Pierce’s heroines, would be friends if they lived in the same world. Cashore’s work is similar to Pierce’s in that it features strong female characters in an adventure fantasy setting. (My 13 years of education at a girl’s school is starting to show again). Tamora Pierce’s review of Graceling is even on the cover of the book. She says,

Here’s a WOW of a book! Seeing half-wild Katsa learn humanity as she battles soldiers, storms, and her own obsessive nature – I HAD to know how it ended! – Tamora Pierce

Despite these similarities in genre to Pierce, Cashore does make the world of Graceling uniquely her own through character, plot, and voice.

What I liked about Graceling was the interactions between Po and Katsa. Call me a nerd but I always enjoy good character development, and character development tends to be the focus of coming of age stories like this one. As I have stated before, I hate it when a girl meets a guy who is perfect, helps her solve all the problems in her life, and because of him she sees herself as a worthy person. I have read books like that in the YA genre that I think do deal with important issues well, but the whole perfect boy flawed girl thing bugs me. (feminist education once again). Thankfully, Graceling is not one of those books. Yes, it is a coming of age novel, and yes Katsa finds a lot out about herself, but Po does too. It is a coming of age story for the both of them, as they learn about the world they live in and the graces they both have. They are both strong characters, and neither is perfect, which is nice. I like seeing how they work through their problems, troubles, or imperfections. I thought some of the plot could be put into more detail, having to do with relationships etc., but the way Cashore wrote coincided with the way Katsa saw the world, so that made sense to me. I also thought the story became slow in one part but ended strongly and I would definitely suggest it as a good read.