Gothic Book Tag

Greetings, all! While I will read a little of everything, my love has always been Gothic Fiction (and fantasy).  For years I devoured gothic type books without even realizing there was a Gothic sub genre beneath the all encompassing “fiction” genre.  I’ve always been drawn to brooding and moody period pieces (Probably the reason Dracula and Jane Eyre are two of my favorite books of all time) As a teenager I read Agatha Christie and read and reread every book Victoria Holt ever wrote under that pen name (her gothic historical fiction pen name) When I noticed a lot of recent activity in the Classics Club (games and tags) I was excited and when I came across the Gothic Book tag, naturally I was over the moon. So without further ado, here is the Gothic Book Tag:

1. Which classic book has scared you the most? 

This is hard because two books immediately come to mind.  In 1984, Orwell masterfully set the scene with intense paranoia and it really stuck with me. In And Then There Were None, there was a growing sense of dread that really affected me as a 13 year old reading it for the first time and I’m just as spooked every time I reread it.

2. Scariest moment in a book?

Again, I have two.  The final scene in And Then There Were None with Vera and the moment when the Martians start using their tripod looking machines in War of the Worlds.

3. Classic villain that you love to hate?

Dr. Frankenstein.  It is unclear whether he is the protagonist or the villain but I really feel that he brought all of the trouble on himself and I was so angry at him every time he interacted with his creature.

4. Creepiest setting in a book? 

It’s hard to beat Hell from Dante’s Inferno.  There are some really terrible images. There is also the lonely island in And Then There Were None.  The Jamaica Inn was definitely creepy and so was the castle in Dracula.

5. Best scary cover ever?

I used to own an illustrated copy of The Inferno that had a painting of people being tormented in hell but alas, I misplaced it years ago.

6. Book you’re too scared to read?

Might not be a “classic” but the book It by Stephen King is a little above my scary threshold. Plus I tend to like moodier stories as opposed to gory, violent books.

7. Spookiest creature in a book?

I find the tripod things in War of the Worlds extremely spooky.

8. Classic book that haunts you to this day?

Frankenstein because I’m still bitter about the way he behaved towards his creation.

9. Favourite cliffhanger or unexpected twist?

The whodunit in, yes you guessed it, And Then There Were None.

10. Classic book you really, really disliked?

I mildly disliked Villette but mainly because of the ending.  I also disliked My Cousin Rachel.

11. Character death that disturbed/upset you the most?

Dr. Frankenstein’s wife and family

12. List your top 5 Gothic/scary/horror classic reads.

  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  • Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt

13. Share your scariest/creepiest quote, poem or meme.

I’m going to cheat here and say the entire Tell Tale Heart.

I had a ton of fun answering these questions.  I realize Gothic fic isn’t for everyone but there’s something about it I just love.  I hope you enjoyed this post and if you aren’t a member already I hope you go check out The Classics Club.

You can find my Classics List here.

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Tolkien Blog Party 2018

As if I needed an excuse to have a celebratory second breakfast this morning, today is the birthday of the Shire’s two most famous hobbits.  I mean, when two of your favorite characters in all of literature have a birthday on the SAME DAY, it would just be rude and disrespectful to refuse second breakfast.

But second breakfasts aside, I was reading the comments on a post in the Classics Club blog and came across Hamlette.  When she mentioned that she would be hosting her 6th annual Tolkien Blog Party from September 22-29, I knew I had to participate.  She will have posts running all week and she created this tag as a way for the rest of us to participate. So without further ado, here’s a Tolkien tag!

Tolkien Tag 2018

1.  What’s your favorite Middle-earth story/book?  My favorite has to be the Fellowship of the Ring.  There is so much going on and I love every freaking page.

2.  Do you have a favorite subplot?
I absolutely love the Tom Bombadil scenes and the Ent scenes. (I also adore how the friendship between Legolas and Gimli progresses)

3.  What’s your favorite theme in Tolkien’s books?  (Can be in one specific story, or overall.)
I love the element of friendship and solidarity.  Everyone plays a part and they work together to defeat evil.

4.  Do you have a favorite weapon from Middle-earth?
I wouldn’t mind having Sting the next time I get tossed into a group of Orcs.

5.  Would you like to be a hobbit?
I think I have been living as a hobbit for my entire life.

6.  Do you have a favorite romance/couple?
I’m a fan of the Aragorn/Arwen romance, but I really hope Treebeard finds his lady Ent.

7.  What’s your favorite Middle-earth creature?  (Can be “real” or “imaginary.”)
Ents! With Elves as a close second.

8.  What character do you look the most like?
Well, I’m short with brown hair and I enjoy the above mentioned second breakfast, so I’ll have to go with any of the hobbits.

9.  Are there any books about Middle-earth or Professor Tolkien (but not written by him) you recommend?
I have this awesome illustrated Guide to Tolkien by David Day that I would recommend.

10.  List up to ten of your favorite lines/quotations from the Middle-earth books and/or movies. 

“It’s the job that’s never started as takes the longest to finish” -Sam

“Deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised” -Aragorn

I am so excited to get to participate in Bilbo and Frodo’s Blog party.  I have been a fan of Tolkien for years now and I never get tired of rereading the books or talking about the books.

If you are a Tolkien fan, I would recommend checking out Hamlette’s blog party!

Tolkien Party Hobbit Hole 2018

War of the Worlds: My thoughts

I have been wanting to read this book for so long, but after I read The Time Machine, I found that I wasn’t really eager to pick it up anymore.  I put this book on both my Classics Club Challenge list and my Back to the Classics list and finally picked it up last month when I was trying to recover from a book hangover. I wasn’t sure if I’d finish it as I was a bit bored by The Time Machine, but I needn’t have worried because this book sucked me right in.

war of the worlds

 

A brief synopsis:

It is the end of the 19th century and a series of explosions on Mars is seen from an observatory in England.  Scientists are intrigued, but shortly after this, what appears to be a meteor lands in England.  The meteor turns out to be a landing pod which contains Martians.  Several men approach, waving white flags to signify peace, but are quickly incinerated by a strange Martian weapon.  What follows is utter chaos as the Martians begin their invasion of earth.

It wasn’t until the end of the book that I realized that the narrator was unnamed, but I found him to be a very likeable character. He never claims to be a hero and I was rooting for him the entire time. The narrator has a series of narrow escapes and I found it utterly freaking fascinating as he describes the breakdown of society and the mass panic that follows the invasion.

I tend to like books and the writing style from this era, but I think even those who aren’t very accustomed to this particular writing style will find it enjoyable in this book.  The story moves along pretty quickly and the writing is never an obstacle toward enjoying the book.  A Sci-fi book written in the 19th century might be expected to be a little “cheezy” (for lack of a better word) but I honestly found the book to be very suspenseful and no more “cheezy” or hard to swallow than any of the modern movie adaptations (In fact, I don’t think a single movie adaptation has done this book justice). This was definitely a page turner for me, but it also gave me a lot to think about when the narrator described society’s breakdown so clearly.

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Working in an industrial environment as I do, a cheap paperback edition was perfect for reading on breaks.

I highly recommend this book to anyone and I think this book would be a perfect choice for someone who wants to read more classic literature but is intimidated by massive tomes of literature written in archaic language.  5/5 stars for me.

Thanks for joining me today! Happy reading!

 

24 in 48 Readathon

Well, I’ve decided to participate in the 24in48 Readathon for the second time.  I had a lot of fun the first time I did.  If you are unfamiliar with this readathon, the idea is not to read 24 books (as I thought the first time I ever heard of it) It is to read for 24 hours in a 48 hour period.  I’m really looking forward to making a dent in this pile of books.  If anyone else is participating, I’d love to hear about it! How many of these books will I be able to get through this weekend?IMG_4462

A mid year recap of my least favorite books this year

Now that we are officially halfway through the year, I was thinking back over all the books I’ve read so far and there a few that I have very strong feelings about so I thought I’d share what some of my favorites and not so favorite books are. Part 1 is dedicated to my least favorite books and Part 2 is dedicated to my favorite books so far in 2018.

Let us begin with the Books I didn’t enjoy so much in the first half of 2018:

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I was a little let down by this book and I’m not quite sure why.  I had such high hopes for it because it was a multi generational historical fiction book with what I guess would be considered magical realism and/or supernatural elements.  It’s not a bad book and the writing was good, I guess I was just expecting more.

 

 

city of brass

This is another book I had high hopes for.  After reading The Golem and the Jinni I was super excited when I heard about this book on the All the Books podcast and ran and picked it up immediately.  I was severely let down by this one. The concept of this book was fascinating but I found most of the dialogue to be very juvenile (which is perfectly awesome when I’m expecting it) and though it was marketed as an adult book, I found that it felt much more like a YA novel.  I have nothing against YA and enjoy reading YA books WHEN I AM IN THE MOOD FOR THEM. But this had a lot of what my 11 year old would call “cringe-y” dialogue and plot.  I found the whole thing to be a little cheezy and overdone.  I really wanted to like this but I doubt I’ll read the next one.

 

abc murders

*Sigh* I hate to add this one to my non fave list because I feel like I am betraying my queen.  I am a definite Agatha Christie lover and have been doing a read through challenge of the Poirot books, but this one is not my cup of tea.  Part of why I love reading Agatha Christie is because of the cozy yet clever mysteries presented in her books and this one felt a little too much.  It was a little over the top for me.

 

villette

People aren’t kidding when they say this isn’t Jane Eyre.  Aside from the obvious “well duh, it’s a completely different book” it really is different.  I did not hate this book and I mostly enjoyed it because it still had that element of melancholy throughout, but I found it very slow to start and the ending was like getting hit by a bus.  I immediately said “WHATTTT????!!!!” and went online to see if I had interpreted it correctly.  I had, and I was very taken aback by this book’s ending.  Still worth the read though.

 

So that is all for my least favorite books this year.  Please let me know if you love or hate any of these books.  Maybe I am missing something! Stay tuned for my favorite books so far in 2018.

 

 

Annotating books: yay or nay?

If you are of the opinion that nothing should mar the pages of your precious books (and that’s a totally understandable point of view), than I would quit reading right now because some of these photos might upset you.

I re entered college a couple years ago and things are a lot different this time around. I have a very full time job, a husband and two kids. It wasn’t as easy to breeze through as it was when I was 18. Majoring in history, I have to keep track of tons and tons of names, dates, and places. I love to keep concise notes but I wanted to get more out of my text books. Because of my profession, I sometimes get grants for free ebook versions of my textbooks (which is great and many people wish for) but I missed the ease of flipping back and forth through paper pages, so I started buying the paper copies and started writing and marking the hell out of my textbooks. I began to get so much more out of my textbooks this way. My Historiography textbook is a good example of this and I am able to flip back through it for advice when working on a history paper.

 

 

Back in August when I started my Classics Book Club Challenge, I challenged myself to read many books that had frightened me in the past. I wanted to immerse myself in them and get all I could from the texts. So I thought to myself that if marking my textbooks was working so well, why not begin to mark my books as well? So that’s what I did. It has been going wonderfully so far. Over the last few months I have been honing my system so it has changed considerably from just post it notes and marking with asterisks. I now loosely color code things with highlighter and pen and take notes in my reading journal. I also still use plenty of post its to tab the books. Usually I will highlight or underline key characters’ first appearance in blue while highlighting pretty passages in pink. A good example of my more recent refined system can be seen here in my copy of The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien which I am currently re reading. I thought it would be fitting to include this book as tomorrow March 25 is Tolkien Read Day.

Annotating in this way has helped me remember so many more of the names and places in Tolkien’s universe and it has worked nicely helping me know what to look for in my companion books The Heroes of Tolkien and The Guide to Tolkien’s World: A Bestiary, both by David Day. (It has not escaped me that not only am I a real life history dork, but I am also a fictional history dork 😉)

But while I am all about annotating books, I haven’t yet started marking up my pretty collectible copies of certain books.

I know a lot of people think it an evil sin to mark their books but I also know there’s a lot of you out there who DO mark their books. So I’m curious to see how many of you out there mark your books and how do you go about doing so? I like where I am now compared to a few months ago but I would be glad of any new tips. So let me know if you’re a marker or not! 🙂

See you next time!

Utopia: My thoughts

Hello again 🙂 Being a fan of cartography and travel memoirs, an amateur history buff, and an almost graduated history major who has a special fondness for Tudor history, I have long been fascinated by Sir Thomas More. So naturally Utopia is a work I have wanted to read for ages. I had been intimidated in the past and until recently only had an ebook version. When I finally discovered the benefits and pleasure of annotating books (my own copies of course) I finally realized I was capable of tackling books that had intimidated me in the past. Fortunately I found this very inexpensive copy on book depository for around 5$ last month and was very excited to dive in- which I did over the last four days. For such a famous work, I am surprised that I had no idea how short it was (my copy was only 85 pages long) but nevertheless I took my time with it and took about 4 days reading, annotating, reflecting, and taking notes.

A brief synopsis:

This book, written by Sir Thomas More in the early 16th century, describes a fictional Kingdom. A perfect society where everyone works and has useful occupation, and in which nobody goes without the basic necessities.

My thoughts:

This book was pretty darn fascinating.  One of the things that drew me in from the first was the fact that most of the main characters were real historical figures.  Thomas More himself is in the book and narrates the entire thing. And from the very first sentence, in which More mentions Henry VIII in very flowery and flattering terms I was fascinated.  It could also be owing to the fact that I know that More would be executed by Henry VIII years later, while he doesn’t.  And while I do not know if it was his intention, I think that by using real people as characters, he turned it from something that was purely fictional into something that could be related to. The book is essentially just a long discussion between these men.  Given the topic and the book’s criticism of contemporary societies, I think this was an incredibly daring thing to do.  But by his choice of companions (all reputed to be good, learned men) and by setting himself up to criticize and be skeptical of all that is told to him by his friend Ralph, he manages to bring these ideas to his intended audience without seeming like the bad guy who’s got a grudge against society.  It also did not escape me that Ralph, who is the one describing all of these radical ideas, is a fictional character while More and the others are not.

Another thing that struck me early in the book was something that is actually very trivial, though to me as lover of history and cartography it was very interesting. This was a mention of visiting countries below the equator. Now I know that many of the ancients were aware that the earth was round and that in the Tudor period they were aware of this as well, but the idea of the equator just seemed like such a new concept to me that I got on a tangent looking into some medieval maps and reading up on the equator itself. I found some very interesting things. For one, I had no idea that in the early medieval period, the belief that people could live beyond the equator was considered a heretical belief by the Catholic Church. In fact many maps of the time depict the equator as a ring of fire. This idea was still prevalent when Columbus set sail. And that was not so long before this book was published. And while this may not have any bearing on the book itself, I found it fascinating and decided to share it here because nobody in my house was excited to hear my ramblings 🙂

To say that this book is important would be a gross understatement. It has influenced many writers and thinkers for the past 500 years. The ideas presented in this book were radical to say the least and this book had my rapt attention throughout (if you don’t count the times I got sidetracked looking things up)

I’d gladly give it 5/5 stars and I highly recommend picking up this interesting piece of history.

Thanks for joining me while I rambled on about this.