Saturday, October 31, 2015

The 12 Month Classics Challenge

As evidenced by 2015's long list of reading challenges, I love a good reading challenge! Even more I love hosting a good reading challenge. Okay... maybe not even more but it's still lots of fun!
I'm a member of the Classics Club, and if you're not you should be! I've always been a classics reader but the Classics Club has really challenged me to read classics I maybe would have never picked up. So for 2016 I am going to host the 12 Month Classics Challenge. When I first thought of it I thought of it in relation to Classics Club members but really anyone can join! If you've always wanted to try some classics but have never gotten around to it try this challenge out and maybe it will be the inspiration you need! So from classics lovers to classics haters (that covers everyone right?) this challenge is for you! ;)
How the challenge works is every month you read a classic corresponding to the month's theme. Now I'm a flexible person and if for some reason you're just feeling the need to read that particular classic in a different month than the theme is, feel free to. I'm not going to haunt you for the rest of your life or anything like that. ;) Additionally, if you feel this is the year to read War and Peace or some other ridiculously long classic but you know you aren't going to finish it in a month I understand too! You don't have to finish the book in a month! The ultimate goal is to read 12 classics (or more if you like) in 2016. If you read five one month and then read none the next, again, I'm not going to haunt you for the rest of your life. If you read War and Peace all year long I will just be very impressed and won't mind that you didn't read eleven others. ;)
So do you get my drift? Flexibility!!!!
Also any form of book is acceptable including real books, audiobooks and ebooks. Additionally, re-reads are acceptable as well.
I would encourage everyone to write a review of their books and I'll have a link up where you can link your reviews but if you don't have a blog or goodreads account you can always just comment a few thoughts. :)
Now when it comes to defining a Classic that gets a little tricky. As you can see below I have a month for reading a modern classic so please use that month to designate your modern classics. Besides that, try to keep the classics to a restriction of being written fifty years ago or more. It's not an entirely hard and fast rule just more of a preference.
Okay, so here are the themes for each month. :)

January- A classic you've always wanted to read- Start the year off with a bang!
February- A classic you've always dreaded reading- Get that book out of the way... and who knows! You may end up loving it!
March- A classic you've been recommended- We all have those
April- A classic you've seen the movie/miniseries/TV show of- If you're like me you've probably seen quite a few film versions before being able to read the book. It's time for that book to get read!
May- An American classic
June- A British classic
July- A European classic (non-British)
August- A modern classic- Up to your interpretation
September- A children's classic
October- A classic by a female author
November- A classic by a male author
December- A classic written under a pseudonym- If you don't know which books were written under pseudonyms here's a few names to help you out. Jane Austen wrote her books under a pseudonym (by a lady) as did the Bronte sisters (published their books under male pseudonyms), George Elliot (real name Mary Ann Evans) and Agatha Christie also wrote a few books under the Pseudonym Mary Westmacott.  Men who also have written under Pseudonyms are Mark Twain (real name Samuel L. Clemens) and Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson). I'm sure there's more out there but there's a few to start you out.

Sign up here! 

Announcing the 2016 Hard Core Re-Reading Challenge

A new year is almost upon us and with a new year comes new reading challenges! Once again I would like to invite one and all to participate in the Hard Core Re-Reading Challenge! I've changed the levels up a little bit this year and I hope that whether you are wanting to re-read one book or fifty that you'll consider joining in this challenge!

Rules (And when I say rules please realize I'm one of the most flexible people in existence)

  • First off, this challenge is for EVERYBODY! That means YOU! I want anyone and everyone to join in on the fun!
  • I suggest you make a list of books that you want to re-read for 2015 and post it with your sign up post. You are welcome to add to it as the year goes on and you definitely don't have to read them all. I recommend it be a suggested list and you can just chose books off of it as you go along.
  • The challenge officially runs from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016. ONLY books started AND finished in that time frame will count. 
  • The link where you can post your reviews will be up shortly. That way not only can everyone enjoy other people's review but also that is how I'll keep track of how many books you complete for the drawing at the end (see below). I don't care how short or long your review is. :)
  • For every ten books you re-read your name will be entered in a drawing and if you complete the challenge you signed up for it is entered again. So even if you go overboard and think you can re-read fifty books but only end up re-reading 20, you can still be eligible for prizes! There will be three winners. The first place winner will get their choice of a book or a literary trinket (costing $20 or less) from Amazon. Second place will have the same option only costing $15 or less and third place the same costing $10 or less.
  • All forms of books are allowable including actual book, ebook and audiobook. 
  • If you don't have a blog but still want to participate you can sign up with a comment and use Goodreads for reviews or I suppose even comment on the reviews page with your reviews. I don't want to exclude anyone from joining in the fun. :)
  • You can sign up below with the Linky tool. Registration is open from now right up until the end on December 31, 2016.


Level 1 0-15 Re-reading itch
Level 2 16-25 Re-reading bug
Level 3 26-35 Re-reading fever
Level 4 36-50 Re-reading paralysis
Level 5 50+ Re-reading coma (if you can do this I highly commend you!)

Book Review- No Name

For the Read England challenge, Victorian Bingo challenge, Alphabet soup challenge, the Chunkster challenge, the Audiobook challenge and the Classics Club I listened to the audiobook of Wilkie Collins novel No Name. When I started listening to the audiobook I didn't realize that the actual book was over 700 pages.... I probably wouldn't have done and audiobook if I had known. The book was incredibly engaging so the whole time I  was thinking to myself "I could read this thirty minute chapter in five minutes!" #audiobookproblems ;) Thankfully my family had a long road trip this past weekend so I finished the last several hours of it up then. The rest of the time I was normally listening to it on the way to and from work.
Synopsis from Goodreads: Magdalen Vanstone and her sister Norah learn the true meaning of social stigma in Victorian England only after the traumatic discovery that their dearly loved parents, whose sudden deaths have left them orphans, were not married at the time of their birth. Disinherited by law and brutally ousted from Combe-Raven, the idyllic country estate which has been their peaceful home since childhood, the two young women are left to fend for themselves. While the submissive Norah follows a path of duty and hardship as a governess, her high-spirited and rebellious younger sister has made other decisions. Determined to regain her rightful inheritance at any cost, Magdalen uses her unconventional beauty and dramatic talent in recklessly pursuing her revenge. Aided by the audacious swindler Captain Wragge, she braves a series of trials leading up to the climactic test: can she trade herself in marriage to the man she loathes?Written in the early 1860s, between The Woman in White and The MoonstoneNo Name was rejected as immoral by critics of its time, but is today regarded as a novel of outstanding social insight, showing Collins at the height of his powers.
This was one of those books, like Gone With the Wind, were you just weren't quite sure if you were supposed to be cheering for the heroine or not. However, I do like Magdalene Vanstone better than Scarlette O'Hara.
At the beginning I liked Magdalen a lot... she reminded me of myself sometimes. Norah annoyed somewhat me at the beginning... I thought she was snobby. Miss Garth, their governess.... I never could decide if I liked her or not. Sometimes I was okay with her and other times she just annoyed me. In the end I liked Norah a lot and I love how it was because of her they were able to regain their fortune. Magdalen.... ahhhh! I don't know! By the time I was in the middle of the novel or so and her plots were getting thicker than cement I felt like she was totally spiraling out of control and I wasn't even sure if I should hope for her plot to succeed or not. Thankfully there was a great villain in Mrs. Lecount... the housekeeper of Noell Vanstone (who was also a villain but in a different sense). With Mrs. Lecount having her own schemes to counteract Magdalen's you weren't sure who to cheer for but you felt like you should be cheering for someone! It was stressful! When Magdalen falls.... and oh does she fall, some might think she should have stayed down but I was glad Collins had her repent and rise back up and get her own happy ending and I was also very glad that Norah got her own happy ending considering the trials she went through so well even though she stayed so good and pure.
Overall I thought this was a great book. I've never been disappointed with Wilkie Collins' work. I know he wrote more books still so I have still a ways to go before I finish all of his books but with No Name I've completed all of the ones on my Classics Club list so it may be awhile before I read the rest of his books. :( Until then I'll savor the ones I've read so far. :)

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Friday, October 30, 2015

Book Review- For Whom the Bell Tolls

For the Mount TBR challenge, TBR Pile Challenge, Alphabet Soup challenge, Chunkster challenge and Classics Club I read Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls. To reiterate my thoughts from my review of The Sound and the Fury, I don't really care for "American Classics". This one was better than some thankfully and definitely better than The Sound and the Fury.
Synopsis from Goodreads: In 1937 Ernest Hemingway traveled to Spain to cover the civil war there for the North American Newspaper Alliance. Three years later he completed the greatest novel to emerge from "the good fight", For Whom the Bell Tolls. The story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to an antifascist guerilla unit in the mountains of Spain, it tells of loyalty and courage, love and defeat, and the tragic death of an ideal. In his portrayal of Jordan's love for the beautiful Maria and his superb account of El Sordo's last stand, in his brilliant travesty of La Pasionaria and his unwillingness to believe in blind faith, Hemingway surpasses his achievement in The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms to create a work at once rare and beautiful, strong and brutal, compassionate, moving and wise. "If the function of a writer is to reveal reality," Maxwell Perkins wrote to Hemingway after reading the manuscript, "no one ever so completely performed it." Greater in power, broader in scope, and more intensely emotional than any of the author's previous works, it stands as one of the best war novels of all time.
The writing was good and the story was interesting. My main qualms with this book was the language, crudities and sex. Each character was compelling, fleshed out and well written. Robert Jordan, as the protagonist got the most fleshing out. I really felt like the reader knew him.
This book happens over just a few days where not much is happening (until the last day) but still manages to have a story to tell. It's a story about people who only know each for a few days but create a bond that lasts.
Some unconventional and rambling thoughts before I close my review and fair warning I have not read The Fault in our Stars but from what I know of it, For Whom the Bell Tolls makes me think of it in the romance aspect of it. For those who have read both... thoughts?
All in all an okay book. :)

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Book review- The Golem and the Jinni

I first heard about this book from Lianne on her blog a year or so ago and then added it to my forever long TBR list on Goodreads. When choosing books for my reading challenges it ended up meeting the criteria for several of them so I decided to read it. So, for the Full House reading challenge, the Authors A-Z challenge, the Chunkster challenge, New Author challenge and the Library Reading challenge.
Synopsis from Goodreads: Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world. The Golem and the Jinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.
Overall I liked this book. It was an innovative idea and the writing was good. I'll be honest, the Jinni never really interested me that much and I just didn't relate to him. The Golem, on the other hand, I loved. She's awesome. I think my liking of each of them has to do more with their morality though than anything. The Jinni has loose morals and the Golem, I think because of the servile attitude of the Golems as well as being cared for by a Rabbi, has more morals. Their friendship is unlikely and definitely unique. That they are stuck in the same predicament is what draws them together. It is interesting how the book explores religions though it never really makes any conclusions. The religion it mostly focuses on is Judaism as Chava lives in the Jewish community. As a Christian I would disagree with most of it but it was interesting to read and I felt like I learned more about Judaism. I never felt like a lot happened in the book but it nonetheless was incredibly engaging. It read almost like a mythology. The ending was dynamic and left you wondering what happened to the characters in their future.
Overall I thought it was quite good and my major qualm with it is the Jinni going around having sex with people....I don't like reading that stuff. Besides that though it's a delightful book and I was impressed that it was Helene Wecker's first novel!

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book (Poetry) Review- Francis Quarles Poetry

For the author A-Z challenge I read selections of poetry by Francis Quarles. I read all of the poems I could find of his on Poem Hunter, which was 24 poems. His poems are very hard to find. You might wonder why I read his poems. Fair question. I read them for the Author A-Z challenge where I have to read authors whose last name begins with each letter of the alphabet. Obviously this was no easy task and Q was quite the quandary (see what I did there?). ;) However Lois prevailed and here's my little review on Francis Quarles' poems.
First off a little about Francis Quarles himself as he is not a household name... at least not currently, I guess he might have been in his time. Quarles lived during the time of Henry VIII and was in fact the cup bearer of Princess Elizabeth for a time. His family had a history of royal service and he carried on that tradition in several capacities throughout his life including cup bearer duties. He also was married and had eighteen children!
His poems were mostly of a religious nature, praising God and reflecting on God. I'm not a huge fan of poetry unless it's Robert Frost or humorous but it was interesting to read Quarles' poetry as it was entirely different than the poetry I normally read. Since it was older poetry the language was different than what I was accustomed to as well. Overall I did like his poetry but it wasn't something I would read over and over again... but then I don't read most poetry over and over again.
Here's my favorite poem of his so you too can experience a little Quarles. :)

I love (and have some cause to love) the earth;
She is my Maker's creature, therefore good:
She is my mother, for she gave me birth;
She is my tender nurse; she gives me food;
But what's a creature, Lord, compared with Thee?
Or what's my mother, or my nurse to me?

I love the air; her dainty fruits refresh
My drooping soul, and to new sweets invite me;
Her shrill-mouth'd choirs sustain me with their flesh.
And with their polyphonian notes delight me:
But what's the air, or all the sweets that she
Can bless my soul withal, compared to Thee?

I love the sea; she is my fellow-creature,
My careful purveyor; she provides me store;
She walls me round; she makes my diet greater;
She wafts my treasure from a foreign shore:
But, Lord of oceans, when compared with Thee,
What is the ocean, or her wealth to me?

To heaven's high city I direct my journey,
Whose spangled suburbs entertain mine eye;
Mine eye, by contemplation's great attorney,
Transcends the crystal pavement of the sky.
But what is heaven, great God, compared to Thee?
Without Thy presence, heaven's no heaven to me.

Without Thy presence, earth gives no reflection:
Without Thy presence, sea affords no treasure;
Without Thy presence, air's a rank infection;
Without Thy presence, heaven itself no pleasure:
If not possess'd, if not enjoyed in Thee,
What's earth, or sea, or air, or heaven to me?

The highest honours that the world can boast,
Are subjects far too low for my desire;
Its brightest gleams of glory are, at most,
But dying sparkles of Thy living fire:
The brightest flames that earth can kindle, be
But nightly glowworms, if compared to Thee.

Without Thy presence, wealth is bags of cares;
Wisdom, but folly; joy, disquiet, sadness;
Friendship is treason, and delights are snares;
Pleasures, but pain; and mirth, but pleasing madness:
Without Thee, Lord, things be not what they be,
Nor have their being when compared with Thee.

In having all things, and not Thee, what have I?
Not having Thee, what have my labours got?
Let me enjoy but Thee, what have my labours got?
And having Thee alone, what have I not?
I wish nor sea nor land; nor would I be
Possess'd of heaven, heaven unpossess'd of Thee.

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Monday, October 26, 2015

2nd 2015 Audiobook Challenge Update

I'm pretty sure I missed one of the audiobook updates but I know I did one already. So here's a little update on where I am with the audiobook challenge right now.  My reviews are linked if I have one. I'm also currently listening to G.A. Henty's The Young Carthaginian (re-read) right now and I might fit in one more audiobook before the end of the year. At the beginning of the year I was listening to audiobooks as I was on the way to my nursing school clinical and now I'm listening to them as I drive to work as an actual nurse! It's kind of cool how time has changed. I also binge listen on road trips which is how I finished up Little Women and No Name.
  1. The Wisdom of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton Completed 9/4/15 
  2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (re-read) COMPLETED 1/16/15
  3. Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery (re-read) COMPLETED 2/8/15
  4. Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery (re-read) COMPLETED 2/24/15
  5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott Completed 5/22/15
  6. Little Men by Louisa May Alcott Completed 7/17/15
  7. Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott Completed 8/25/15
  8. King Lear by William Shakespeare COMPLETED 4/7/15
  9. Macbeth by William Shakespeare COMPLETED 2/3/15
  10. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare COMPLETED 4/15/15
  11. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift COMPLETED 3/19/15
  12. The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde COMPLETED 3/22/15
  13. No Name by Wilkie Collins Completed 10/18/15  (no review yet)
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It's Monday! Trying to keep up with work and life

For the last few weeks I've really felt the strain of work and trying up to keep up with home duties and a semi-social life. It's not working so well. I was able to make a flying trip up to Minnesota last weekend though for my grandma's birthday. It was great to see family... Especially when there's babies to cuddle! :) I was able to listen audiobooks a lot on the road trip which was nice. Overall my reading has been pretty good and I've surprisingly been keeping up pretty well. I've also really enjoyed getting to see the long anticipated trailer for the upcoming Star Wars movie! Who else is dxchyed about it?!?! :)
Also this weekend I went to a book sale and got four bags of books! I'll hopefully get a Stackhng the Shelves post up about all the books I got soon. :)

Currently reading 

  • The Young Carthaginian by G.A. Henty (re-read) (audiobook) 
  • Mysterious Island by Jules Verne 

Finished in the last two weeks 

  • The Sound and the Furt by William Faulkner 
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway 
  • No Name by Wilkie Collins (audiobook) 
  • Mary Emma and Company by Ralph Moody (re-read)

Coming Soon

  • The Fields of Home by Ralph Moody (re-read)
  • Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen
  • Death of a Red Heroine by Qui Xiaolong
  • Irish Folk and Fairy tales by William Butler Yeats

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Book Review- The Sound and the Fury

Classic American novels are rarely my thing I've found. They're just too... Weird. But I'm getting ahead of myself! For the Literary Movement reading challenge, the Author A-Z challenge, the Mount TBR challenge, Alphabet Soup Challenge, New Author challenge and the Classics Club I read William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury.
Goodreads Synopsis: The Sound and the Fury is the tragedy of the Compson family, featuring some of the most memorable characters in literature: beautiful, rebellious Caddy; the manchild Benjy; haunted, neurotic Quentin; Jason, the brutal cynic; and Dilsey, their black servant. Their lives fragmented and harrowed by history and legacy, the character’s voices and actions mesh to create what is arguably Faulkner’s masterpiece and one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century.
First off, I do not think it's one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century. That synopsis doesn't know what it's talking about right there.
The Sound and the Fury is written for the most part in a stream of consciousness style, which is incredibly confusing to read, though I'll admit unique, but reading a whole book like that is just too much in my opinion. It also jumps back inand forth in time randomly, :(
Then there's the Compson family themselves. They are all so messed up and even their slaves are brats. Benjy narrates the first part of the book and as he is, as the synopsis says, a manchild, the stream of consciousness style with his horribly jumbled up viewpoint is incredibly confusing. It was interesting getting a glimpse at a mentally ill person's thoughts though. You felt sorry for Benjy.
Now a little family tree information before I go on because I was so lost on this point for quite awhile. There's a Quentin that's a boy that's Caddy's sister and then there's Quentin that's a girl that's Caddy's illegitimate daughter she named after her brother.
So Quentin the boy gets to narrate a part to that was fine and interesting enough but I actually don't remember a lot of it... I'm not sure why it was in there.... I don't think it was important.
Then the final part is narrated by Jason. Now it's a testament to how awful the other characters were that I liked Jason the best (I guess except Benjy) because Jason was not a great guy either. Maybe I just liked him more because I was really fed up with Quentin the girl and how bratty she was so I was glad he was trying to do something about it.
I could not stand Mrs. Compson at all! She was kooks! Ahhhhh! She made me want to rip my hair out and then go give Quentin the girl the spanking that she wouldn't give her.
I didn't like their slaves very much at all either. They didn't work very hard and Dilsey kept defending Quentin! Ahhhh!!!!
I give The Sound and the Fury 2 ½ stars for originality and uniqueness as well as getting a small glimpse into a mentally ill person's mind but besides that I did not care for it and I doubt I'll be reading more William Faulkner in the future.

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Book Review- Emma

For the Hard Core Re-reading challenge, the mount TBR challenge and the Alphabet Soup challenge I re-read Jane Austen's classic novel Emma. Since is did a read-along for this book and wrote lots of thought on it through those posts, I find it hard to write a full review of it here. Therefore, I would encourage you to go check out those posts from the read-along HERE but I will try to reiterate a few of those thoughts in this review.
Synopsis from Goodreads: Beautiful, clever, rich - and single - Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr. Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen's most flawless work.
Emma was always my least favorite of Austen's novels. I liked it... but it just never really resonated with me that much. However, after this re-read I find myself loving it just as much as the others.
Emma is incredibly annoying at the beginning. She's proud and controlling. One of the read-along participants compared her to other Austen proudies such as Miss Bingley. While comparing an Austen heroine to an Austen villain may seem quite unusual, in Emma's case it makes sense. Of all of Austen's heroines, in my opinion, Emma's begins with the most failings. She drove me crazy at the beginning! I spent the first half or so of the books saying "You tell her Mr. Knightley!" It's a testament to Austen's writing that she could still make Emma a halfway likable person through all of this. Knightley is basically the best Austen hero ever. He's a gentlemen, he cares about his tenants, he's not proud, he's caring, he's sensible, he has a sense of humor, he's always willing to give advice even when it's not the advice one wants to hear and he's able to straighten Emma out (it takes a lot to do that!).
I feel like most of my other thoughts are reiterated in the discussion posts so be sure to check them out! Also through that link you can get to the movie reviews that were posted during that time.
In closing, I'd say read it! I love this book! :)

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Book Reviews- The Swallows and Amazons series

Growing up I watched the Swallows and Amazons movies all the time and when I was old enough I read them. How could I help but love them? Sailing? Adventures? Imagination? They make me want to be a kid again! I would highly recommend this whole series for children of all ages and it works well for boys and girls alike!

Swallows and Amazons

The series starts out with the introduction of the Walker family (aka the Swallows). The oldest is John, their leader, than it's Susan, the practical one, than Titty, the imaginative one, and then Roger, the youngest one who can be annoying and fun all in one. While on vacation they get permission to camp on an island that is on a lake. They have their own sailboat, the Swallow, that they use to sail the lake. While there they meat a "pirate" who has a houseboat on the lake and his two nieces Nancy and Peggy (aka the Amazons) who have their own sailboat, the Amazon. Adventures and fun ensue brought to life by Ransom's incredibly imaginative writing.
This might be the best of them all. The imagination is so perfect and every time they call adults the "natives" it cracks me up! 


The Swallows and Amazons are back together for the summer holiday. Fun is planned for the summer but plans go awry when the Amazons' great aunt (aka the G.A.) come to visit and the Swallows wreck the Swallow. However, these intrepid explorers are still able to have fun when they discover a hidden valley dubbed Swallowdale. While I said Swallows and Amazons might be my favorite this is really close. The G.A. situation is just too funny! Also you see some great character development with John.

Peter Duck

So it wasn't until many years after I originally read this book years ago and thought it was very weird that I found out that it was supposed to be a story Titty and the rest of the crew made up over Winter holiday. With that in mind, this book made much more sense with this re-read. It was basically a classic pirate story with a treasure hunt and who doesn't love that? It was a lot of fun and of course over the top but it was Titty "writing it" so of course it was! Much better the second time. :)

Winter Holiday

The fourth book in the series brings the introduction of two new characters. The twins Dick and Dot bring a new dynamic to the stories. Dick is the science geek and Dot loves writing stories. The Swallows and Amazons welcome them into their group as they enjoy the winter holiday. Instead of sailing and treasure there's a polar expedition to the "North Pole" planned across the frozen lake. However plans are put on hold when Nancy gets mumps! Just as fun and original as the others! 

Coot Club

This book focuses on some new characters with the inclusion of Dick and Dot... who are semi-new characters to the series. Dick and Dot are visiting a friend of their mother's who lives in Norfolk. While there they team up with the Coot Club, a group of children who protect nesting birds. There's Tom Dungeon, Port and Starboard, the twins, and Joe, Bill and Pete (the Death and Glories). When a noisy and inconsiderate group of city dwellers moors their boat right by a coot nest, the coots are too afraid to return to their nest. Despite being asked to move, the "hullabaloos" (as the Coot Club dubs them) refuse to. Tom takes desperate action and lets them adrift, causing the hullabaloos to go to no bounds to hunt him down.
I like this one a lot but I still think it's a little over the top. I don't condone letting boats adrift, but I also understand why they did... it's complicated. ;) 

Pigeon Post

The Swallows, Amazons and Dick and Dot decide to try for some gold speculating in the mountains while waiting for Captain Flint (aka Uncle Jim) to come back from abroad. With the help of pigeons to send messages, they make this summer full of fun even without sailing. However, they run into trouble when Mr. Squashy Hat seems to be dodging their every move.
So far I think this is the weakest link in the series but I couldn't help loving it. The whole conclusion to Mr. Squashy Hat was just too funny to not. :)

We Didn't Mean to go to Sea

The Swallows and their mother are waiting for their father to come back from his job in the navy. While waiting they decide to go on a sailing adventure with a new found friend. However, when a fog comes in and the boat comes unanchored the Swallows find themselves alone sailing on the high seas! With a title like that you know the mishaps in this novel are far more real than in the others. I feel like it's the most intense of them all. I felt like everything in the other books built up to it. John really becomes a man in this one as he takes on sailing the ship and Susan, even though she goes native every once and awhile, loosens up some. 

Secret Waters

It's nice that Bridget the "ship's baby" finally gets to be included in the family's adventures. With the introduction of some new characters "the Eels" and our favorite Swallows and Amazons this story takes on a new and exciting setting. Mapping out a whole new bunch of island is tons of fun and of course there's the "human sacrifice". ;) It's also a great new location and a different terrain for them to be working with. 

The Big Six

This is I think the longest of them all. This books takes us back to the Coot Club and Dick and Dot. When boats are mysteriously being set adrift everyone looks at the Coot Club to blame considering Tom's history of setting adrift the hullabaloo's boat. However the are innocent and out to prove it! This one is a little more like a mystery novel and is a lot of fun as they search for clues. It also gets tough for them as everyone assumes they are guilty and they have to take a lot of flack.

Missee Lee

Another made up story by Titty and the crew including the Swallows, Amazons and Captain Flint (aka Uncle Jim). This one takes us into the China seas and pirates! However, this is not just any pirate, this is a highly educated female pirate who is determined to hold them all at her palace for the rest of their lives and teach them Latin. Very funny and original. 

The Picts and the Martyrs

This book brings us the return of the G.A. (aka the Great Aunt). We have the Amazons and Dick and Dot but the Swallows are absent (though to visit soon!). When the Amazons' mother leaves for a short pleasure trip with Uncle Jim the Amazons and the twins plan a fun but not too crazy set of adventures while they're waiting for them to get back. However, the G.A. descends on the house when she hears of their woeful lack of a mother and Dick and Dot find themselves Picts hiding out in the woods while the Amazons (the Martyrs) have to put up with the formidable G.A. back at the house. However, they still manage in to slip in adventures while the G.A. is not looking, making for tons of fun! 

Great Northern

The final book in the series! :( This book includes good old Captain Flint, the Amazons, the Swallows and Dick and Dot. While the crew is taking a sailing voyage along the Scottish coast Dick finds a very rare Great Northern pair of birds nesting. However, when a scientist who wants to shoot the birds to stuff and steal the eggs comes along, the children have to once again save the day... and the birds. This is probably my least favorite of the series but it is still a lot of fun.

Final note on the series. I could not recommend it enough! It's good clean wholesome fun that boys and girls alike will enjoy. Read them! :) 

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Book Review- Life With Father

For the alphabet soup challenge, Mount TBR challenge, back to the classic challenge, new author challenge and monthly key word challenge I read Clarence Day Jr.'s book Life With Father.
I grew up watching the movie based off this book of the same title and it is a firm family favorite. I highly HIGHLY recommend it! The book was good as well but I think the movie was just better. I mean, William Powel and Irene Dune.... come on! How can you beat that? But this isn't a movie review so back to the book. ;)
Synopsis from Goodreads: Clarence Day's reminiscences of growing up in a turn-of-the-century New York household which keeps wriggling out from under the thumb of a blustering Wall Street paterfamilias are classics of American humor, lively and nostalgic sketches that still manage to evoke the enduring comedy of family life. Father's explosive encounters with horse and cook, servants and shopkeepers, wife and children—to say nothing of his vigorous pursuit of ice retain their hilarious appeal in no small part because the younger Day never seems put out by the older man's actions, never describes him with less than affectionate amusement. As a result, Life with Father remains as a contemporary critic described it: "A delightful book alive with energy and collisions and the running water of happiness."
This is a humorous book and I don't think we should take it too seriously. In fact if you take it seriously I don't think you will enjoy it. Clarence Day Sr comes off as rather.... sexist? Kind of a jerk sometimes? However, you're meant to laugh... it's funny! I fell like in the movie the soften him somewhat so maybe I'm a little more forgiving. The book was more scattered and the stories kind of jumped around in the timeline. There were some great ones though that didn't make it into the movie! I love how Clarence Jr. has the belief that no one argues with his father and wins... not even the horse!
All in all I enjoyed the book a lot and it was fun to see stories that didn't make it into the movie but overall I do like the movie better. :)

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Book Review- Old Yeller

For the What an Animal reading challenge, the Back to the Classics reading challenge, the Authors A-Z reading challenge, the Monthly Motif reading challenge, the Newberry reading challenge, the Mount TBR reading challenge and the Classics Club I read Fred Gibson's classic children's novel Old Yeller.
I grew up watching the classic Disney film of this book and I'm not sure how I missed reading it until now. The movie actually follows the book very closely, which was nice.
Synopsis from Goodreads: At first, Travis couldn't stand the sight of Old Yeller. The stray dog was ugly, and a thieving rascal, too. But he sure was clever, and a smart dog could be a big help on the wild Texas frontier, especially with Papa away on a long cattle drive up to Abilene. Strong and courageous, Old Yeller proved that he could protect Travis's family from any sort of danger. But can Travis do the same for Old Yeller?
I love a classic boy and dog story and they don't get much more classic than Old Yeller. I love how Travis matures through the story and becomes a man and part of that is due to Old Yeller. Travis has to be the "man" of the family while his father is gone and while he does the normal things expected of him such as hunting, ploughing and branding he also takes on the hardest task of all. I think though that all of Travis's experiences throughout the novel prepared him for that decision and strengthened him for it too. What is this decision I speak so mysteriously of? SPOILERS!!! I can't just tell you! Read the book yourself! ;) I have just got to say how much I love this book though. I think it may be the best boy and dog story written. :)

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Monday, October 12, 2015

It's Monday! Giveaway Winners!

I started working night shift a couple nights ago and while I do enjoy it for the most part it is tough sometimes on my sleep life.  This last week was like that as I ended up working several days in a row.  Thankfully I've caught up a little.
Before I get into my reading life I'd like to announce the winners of the 200th Anniversary Emma Read-along Giveaways. Heidi won the Jane Austen bookmarks and Ekaterina won the 200th Anniversary Annotated edition of Emma. Congratulations girls!

Currently Reading

  • The Golem and Jinni by Helene Wecker
  • The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  • No Name by Wilkie Collins (audiobook)

Finished this past week

  • none

Coming Soon

  • Mary Emma and Company by Ralph Moody 

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Book Review- The Brothers Karamazov

For the library reading challenges, the literary movement challenge, Victorian bingo challenge, new author challenge, alphabet soup challenge, books in translation challenge and Classics Club I read Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel The Brothers Karamazov.
I had only one previous experience with Russian novelists before The Brothers Karamazov and that was Anna Karenina years ago, which was not my favorite. However, with my more mature years (ha ha) and maybe a better book (?) I think I might be coming to appreciate the Russian authors. All that to say, I liked The Brothers Karamazov and I liked it better than Anna Karenina.
Synopsis from Godreads: The Brothers Karamazov is a passionate philosophical novel set in 19th century Russia, that enters deeply into the ethical debates of God, free will, and morality. It is a spiritual drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt, and reason, set against a modernizing Russia.
I know that's a lousy synopsis but that's the best I could find on the internet. :(
I found all of the Karamazov brothers very fascinating and it was also interesting to compare them. However, to explain the sons you have to look at their father, Fyodor Karamazov, a thorough scoundrel. While he fathers all of the sons he is hardly a father to them.

The first son, Dmitri is the son of Fyodor's first wife. Dmitri is the most like his father of the three sons. He's a scoundrel and sensualist.  The second son, Ivan, is from Fyodor's second wife. He's an atheist and probably the most philosophical of the three brothers and his dialogue has some of the most thought provoking lines from the novel... thought provoking as they may be though, they're wrong. The third son, Alexei, is from his father's second marriage as well. At the beginning of the novel he's a novice in a monastery though later at one of the Elder's encouragement he leaves the monastery though his faith never waivers. All three are raised away from their father for the most part and don't come back until they are grown men. There is also Smerdyakov, a young man rumored to be Fyodor's illegitimate son. It is never clarified whether or not he actually is but when his mother died in childbirth he is taken and raised by Fyodor's servant and comes to be a servant in Fyodor's house. Smerdyakov suffers from seizures and is generally considered to be odd and sullen.

There are many various side plots to The Brothers Karamazov. There is Grushenka, a temptress who flirts with both the father, Fyodor, and the son Dmitri, until both are driven mad with love (lust) for her. This drives forward the main plot of their rivalry, a rivalry so strong that Dmitri swears to kill his father after beating him up in front of his brothers. There is Katerina, the proud young woman engaged to Dmitri more out of a sense of obligation than love after he paid off her father's debts. Ivan though loves her as well... but does she love him? And does Dmitri even love Katerina if he is flirting madly with Grushenka? Katerina is certainly jealous of Grushenka. There is Illyusha a schoolboy that throws rocks at Alexei and his schoolmates but then Alexei strikes up a friendship with him and the schoolmates. Alexei stand in all of this the counselor and friend to all. Everyone turns to him to bring peace... but can he?

Alexei is my favorite character in the novel... and honestly there really isn't anyone else to like. The way in which everyone feels safe in going to him with their concerns and how he is able to give advice and kindness to them all is something I envy.

Everything leads to Fyodor Karamazov being murdered and the question is who did it? Is it Dmitri? It makes sense that he did it after he swore he would murder him. Or could it be Smerdyakov who Dmitri insists is the murderer though he was under a seizure attack at the time. Or could it be someone else?

I found this book fascinating and sad. The characters are so complex and the plot not any less so. It was a long book but if you're wanting to try Russian literature and don't know where to start I would recommend The Brothers Karamazov.

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Monday, October 5, 2015

It's Monday! Life After Emma

This is my first It's Monday post since June as I've been doing my Emma read-along posts on Monday. Now though we're done with Emma. However, I have a couple of giveaways running for it still so be sure to check out the one for the 200th Anniversary Annotated edition of Emma HERE and for the Jane Austen bookmarks HERE. I have been reading a lot though in this time of course and I'm almost caught up to be on track for my Goodreads goal for reading! So here's my reading life right now. :)

Currently Reading

  • The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  • No Name by Wilkie Collins (audiobook)

Finished this Week

  • Man of the Family by Ralph Moody
  • The Home Ranch by Ralph Moody

Coming Soon

  • Mary Emma and Company by Ralph Moody
  • The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
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Thursday, October 1, 2015

5 Male Characters Tag and 5 Female Characters Tag

I've been meaning to do these for awhile and then Olivia from Meanwhile in Rivendell tagged me in the 5 Male Characters Tag and I figured I might as well go ahead and do both. I'm not sure why they have different categories but they do.
AND, before you go any further, make sure to check out my two giveaways going on HERE and HERE!

5 Male Characters

Hero- Mr. Knightley... I just re-read Emma and then re-watched all of the movies so I'm on a huge kick Mr. Knightley kick right now! For me he embodies so much of what I would want in a husband. A man of moral integrity, someone willing to tell me when I am wrong, kind, generous and loving. He's also got a sense of humor. :) My second favorite would be Austen's Henry Tilney. He is similar to Mr. Knightley but is far lighter and so funny!!!  

Villain- Gollum. I like what Peter Jackson did with him in the movies actually, making him an even more complex character then he already was.

Anti-hero- I don't read a lot of books or watch a lot of movies with anti-heroes so this was hard for me to come up with. I think though I'd go with Han Solo from Star Wars and Malcom Reynolds from Firefly. They're actually fairly similar characters. I'd say they are the more hero like of anti heroes but it's what I could come up with.

Best book-to-screen adaptation- After much thought I have decided on Sir Percy Blakeney from The Scarlet Pimpernel and the screen adaptation is OBVIOUSLY the 1982 version.... aka the only version. ;) I think Anthony Andrews perfectly take the character from the books and dazzlingly brings him onto the screen much to my endless laughter! 

Best character perception- This one and the previous seem kind of similar but whatever! I'd go with Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy is a very reserved character so taking him and acting him out would must have been hard but I think Colin Firth did it with so much perception. He just was Mr. Darcy because I think he understood the character. He will always be Mr. Darcy to me.

5 Female Characters

Heroine- I'm torn between Elizabeth Bennett and Molly Gipson so.... both

Villain- I tend to say I love to hate Professor Umbridge from Harry Potter. She irks me so much! Sure she's not the main villain in the series but that does not matter! I hate her so much more than Voldemort! 

Superhero- Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow! Basically she's awesome! 

That I would want to be friend with- I think I would have to chose Anne Shirley! So much imagination and fun! 

That I wish had better development- I'd have to agree with Olivia here and go with Buttercup from The Princess Bride. In the movie she's a bit better developed but in the book she's really just kind of there. :(

These are such fun tags! If you want to participate just steal them away! 

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Birthday Month Reading Challenge- October

Well fall is here and it sure looks and feels like it!
Below is a list of some October birthday authors. A more complete list is HERE.

  • Isaac Asimnov
  • Michael Crichton
  • E.E. Cummings
  • Nora Roberts
  • Jonathan Edwards
  • Frank Herbert
  • Helen Hunt Jackson
  • Edward Stratmeyer (Had various pen names but wrote The Hardy Boys series and the Rover Boys series as well as others)
  • Oscar Wilde
  • P.G. Wodehouse
  • Lois Lenski
  • Katherine Patterson
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