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:

img_3466-1

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.

February wrap up

I’m probably the only one who will comment on how February seemed to drag but I felt like it did. I did some reading this month and it felt like this month was much more about quality than quantity. Some months I fly through 10 or more books but this month I read 5. Though I may have read a smaller number of titles, it was still a great reading month for me, as I read a couple that I have been meaning to get to for years and I enjoyed everything I read. Even the book I liked the least was still a book I’d recommend.

So without further ado, here are the 5 books I read in February:

Since I have already reviewed or will soon review all of these, I will not include mini reviews. Instead I will briefly mention a couple.

Longest book: The Luminaries. All 600+ pages

Shortest book: Utopia. All 85 pages.

Favorite book: Tied between The Little Prince and The Luminaries.

Least favorite book: Eternal Life

Book I’d be least likely to recommend: A Study in Scarlett

So that’s it. A quick wrap up of the books I read in February. I would recommend all of them. If you have read or plan on reading any of these I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Til next time!

Back to the Classics 2018

Hello again!  I am back today with another glorious reading challenge.  I came across this challenge while I was getting a Russian book recommendation at I read that in a book’s post.

The Challenge is a Classics challenge created by Karen K at Books and Chocolate that contains 12 categories.  The idea is to read from 6, 9, or all 12 categories. I am not a person who signs up for any and every reading challenge I come across and this one actually coincides nicely with my 5 year Classics Club Challenge.  Since most of the books I read for Back to the Classics 2018 challenge will count towards my 5 year Classics Club challenge as well, I thought it would be fun to participate.  Also, since the Back to the Classics challenge is broken down into categories, it will be a nice way to narrow down which books I will read towards my Classics Club Challenge since that one is extremely flexible.

So without further ado, here are the categories and some of my possible choices for each.

A 19th century Classic: Villette by Charlotte Bronte

A 20th century Classic: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

A classic by a woman author: The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Classic in Translation: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes or The Tale of Genji by Lady Muraski

A Children’s Classic: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery or The Lost Prince by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Classic Crime Story: Appointment With Death by Agatha Christie

A Classic Travel Narrative: The Travels of Marco Polo

A Classic with single word title: Persuasion by Jane Austen or Utopia by Sir Thomas More

A Classic with a color in the title: The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

A classic by an author who is new to you: The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

A classic that scares you: Moby Dick by Herman Melville

A favorite reread: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen or Dracula by Bram Stoker

While my selections are not set in stone, there’s a strong possibility I will be reading these. All of them with the exception of The Travels of Marco Polo and Appointment With Death (though the Travels of Marco Polo will be one of the nonfiction books I wanted to read and Appointment With Death will count towards Project Poirot) are also on my other list.

I feel fairly confident I will at least go through 9 of the categories and I am very excited to be participating.

Well thanks for joining me here and I apologize for my excessive use of the word “challenge”. Till next time here’s to happy reading!

The Little Prince: my thoughts

If you have a Netflix account, you’ve probably seen the trailer for The Little Prince recently. It looked so adorable that I wanted to watch it and since one does not simply watch the movie first… I had to read it of course.

A brief synopsis:

A pilot who unfortunately has grown up crash lands in the middle of the desert. There he meets a little boy from another planet. The boy tells the story of how he fled his planet because of his love for a rose. In telling his story, the little boy reminds the pilot of the magic of seeing the world through a child’s eyes and the dangers of losing that magic when you grow up.

My thoughts:

So I really loved this book.  The entire book was just whimsical and magical.  I love how even though the pilot is a grown up, he remembers the feeling of drawing a picture that the adults just didn’t understand and the feeling has stayed with him.  When he meets the little prince, he meets a child who understands perfectly.  The pilot is an adult who hasn’t fallen into one of the typical categories that other adults in the story have.  The little prince is just charming and I fell in love with him as a character.  He lives alone on his planet and his only friend on his planet is a single rose.  After having a disagreement with his rose, he leaves his planet and passes through many other planets.

On each planet is a single adult and I loved how each of them embodied a different adult characteristic that children just don’t understand.  For instance, he meets one man on a planet who spends all day and all night counting the stars because he “owns them”. When the little prince asks why he needs to count them, the man informs him that it is very important to calculate numbers so he can own more.  Another man on another planet spends all his time preening and looking for someone to admire his clothes.

It is a little difficult to put into words all the things I loved about this book, but I loved both the pilot and the little prince.  The love the prince had for his rose was very sweet.  I would definitely recommend this book to children and adults.  This was one of the few books in recent months that I’ve given 5 stars.

Thank you for joining me once again and if you have read this or plan to read this, please let me know what you thought or think…

Until next time, happy reading!

My Cousin Rachel: my thoughts

I bought this book a few months ago while  I was in a gothic fiction phase. This is not unusual for me because gothic fiction and romance is one of my favorite types of books to read (there’s something about sinister characters and spooky manor houses that I can’t get enough of) but sometimes I go through these little phases where I’ll read several in succession. Well I happened to be at Target and saw the movie cover version on sale and I bought it. (Though I typically hate movie covers this one wasn’t terrible and it was on sale… OK OK I JUST WANTED TO READ IT GEEZ)

Brief synopsis:

Philip Ashley, the cousin and adopted son and heir of Ambrose Ashley is devastated by the marriage and shortly after, death of Ambrose while on a long trip to Italy for his health. Ambrose, a confirmed lifelong bachelor travels to the continent each year for his health, leaving Philip to run the estate in his absence. On his final trip, he meets and falls in love with a distant family connection and then marries her. He writes home to Philip delighted with his new wife but after several weeks he sends Philip paranoid letters home asking for help claiming his wife is spying on him and keeping him under lock and key. His health declines further and he dies before Philip can make it to him. Grief stricken, Philip suspects the wife of foul play and makes up his mind to hate her while everyone else puts Ambrose’s death and strange behavior down to a brain tumor which is how his own father had died (also having behaved strangely before his death). When Rachel comes to visit the estate, Philip is convinced of her guilt… until he meets her. She is graceful and attractive and devastated over the loss of her husband. Surely she can’t be guilty? Or is she?

My thoughts:

The tension in this book is wonderful. I think this is something that Daphne Du Maurier excels at in all the books I’ve read of hers.  The whole first section of the book we can understand Philip’s thoughts and we are dying to meet Rachel.  When Rachel finally appears, we are constantly left wondering if she did it.  We become convinced of her innocence and her guilt in turns. Certain incidents appear to repeat themselves and we are unsure whether it is coincidence or whether Rachel has a hand in it. The atmosphere alone makes this book what it is.

There are several key characters in this book and often it is difficult to see what their motivations are. Rachel is both fascinating and complex. Philip is naive and probably the most annoying character I have ever encountered in fiction. There were many times that I wanted to reach through the pages and smack some common sense into him or just smack him in general. If you prefer character based stories, Philip may turn you off the entire book but I am a plot reader so I kept it up.  Meanwhile, characters like Rachel’s lawyer (whose name escapes me at the moment) seem very sinister while Philip’s friend Louise seems like the only normal character in the book.

The book was a page turner for me but it is seldom that a character annoys me the way Philip did.  I enjoyed the read, but I thought the ending just a little flat. Though some might argue that the ending is what makes this book so great. To sum it up, I guess I’d say that the story was great, there were some good characters (and one really annoying one), but that personally I found the ending just a bit unsatisfying.  I gave it 4 out of 5 stars on goodreads.

Thanks for joining me and happy reading 🙂

A bookhaul of… uhh… large proportions

The irony hasn’t escaped me that in February, the shortest month of the year, I have accumulated the largest amount of books that I have in years. Oops.

IMG_0066

 

Now I typically buy a few books and ebooks every month but I normally tend to read about the same amount of books that are coming in so it’s no big deal. This month however, I have accumulated 23ish books and one ebook. There’s no way on earth I’m reading even close to that amount this month but at least I have the comfort of knowing that I only paid full price for two or three books and one was a Valentine’s gift from my husband.

IMG_0065

Here is a list of the books I got this month:

  • Utopia -Sir Thomas More (can’t wait to get to this one)
  • Dracula -Bram Stoker (a pretty copy to replace my very battered copy)
  • The Mysteries of Udolpho -Ann Radcliffe (to replace the ebook version I have…I’ve always wanted to read since the first time I read Northanger Abbey)
  • Moby Dick -Herman Melville (a nice copy to motivate me to finally get through it)
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray -Oscar Wilde
  • Don Quixote -Miguel De Cervantes (a book I plan on reading in the near future)
  • North and South -Elizabeth Gaskell (I enjoyed Cranford and this is supposed to be better)
  • Wives and Daughters -Elizabeth Gaskell
  • War and Peace -Leo Tolstoy (my copy is missing and I’d like to reread)
  • Maryanne – Daphne Du Maurier (I’ve enjoyed all her other books so this should be good)
  • Dumb Witness -Agatha Christie (the next on my Project Poirot list)
  • Cat Among the Pidgeons -Agatha Christie (This one and the next two were a let down because I ordered them online and didn’t realize they were abridged versions)
  • Hickory Dickory Dock -Agatha Christie
  • Apointment With Death -Agatha Christie
  • The Children of Henry VIII -Alison Weir (Alison Weir writes very readable history and I enjoyed her books when I was a prospective history major)
  • The Lady in the Tower -Alison Weir
  • The Six Wives of Henry VIII -Alison Weir
  • Bride of Pendorric -Victoria Holt (Gothic romance by one of my favorite authors)
  • Lord of the Far Island – Victoria Holt (Gothic Romance)
  • Memoirs of a Geisha -Arthur Golden 
  • Shopaholic Ties the Knot -Sophie Kinsella
  • The Autobiography of Henry VIII -Margaret George (I love Margaret George historical fiction because you can tell the amount of research she did, tends to be more historical than a Philippa Gregory novel)
  • The Little Prince -Antoine de Saint-Exupery (the movie kept popping up as a suggestion on netflix so I decided to read it first)
  • How to Read a Book -Mortimer Adler (I’ve heard a lot about this book and I got a lot of tips for reading some more difficult books out of it)

So as you can see, my entire haul was backlist items with not a single new release.  The majority of these books I have already read at one time or another so atleast I know that I’ll be glad to have them on my shelves.

I wish I could say that I’m done for the month but I actually plan on buying The Girl in the Tower as I have a 30% off coupon to use this weekend at the bookstore.

But that’s it.  I am looking forward to getting through the ones I haven’t read yet.  If you see anything you have questions about feel free to ask me or just let me know if there are any you love or hate in my list.

Til next time… Happy reading!

Classics reading challenge

Back in August (when I still had my old blog) I joined The Classics Club with a goal to read at least 50 classics in 5 years.

I had already decided I wanted to include more of the classics in my reading and was thrilled when I came across their blog.

The rules are simple:

  • – choose 50+ classics
  • – list them at your blog
  • – choose a reading completion goal date up to five years in the future and note that date on your classics list of 50+ titles
  • – e-mail the moderators of this blog (theclassicsclubblog@gmail.com) with your list link and information and it will be posted on the Members Page!
  • – write about each title on your list as you finish reading it, and link it to your main list
  • – when you’ve written about every single title, let us know!

This seemed simple enough and indeed it has been so far. I’ve been enjoying it so much that since I joined on August 23rd 2017, I have read 9 of the books on my list. I am committed to the 50 on my original list but being so far ahead of schedule got me thinking that even if I were to read only one per month over the next 5 years I could read 60. So that is what I am doing. I am updating my list so that it now includes 60 books.

Start date: August 23, 2017

End date: August 23, 2022

My list:

  1. Don Quixote -Miguel de Cervantes
  2. The Pilgrim’s Progress -John Bunyan
  3. Lady Susan -Jane Austen*
  4. Persuasion -Jane Austen*
  5. Northanger Abbey -Jane Austen*
  6. Oliver Twist -Charles Dickens
  7. Jane Eyre -Charlotte Bronte*
  8. Villette -Charlotte Bronte
  9. Wuthering Heights -Emily Bronte
  10. Agnes Grey -Anne Bronte
  11. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall -Anne Bronte
  12. The Scarlett Letter -Nathaniel Hawthorne
  13. Moby Dick -Herman Melville (I have tried and failed with this one before)
  14. One Thousand and One Nights
  15. The Canterbury Tales -Geoffrey Chaucer
  16. Madame Bovary -Gustave Flaubert
  17. Crime and Punishment -Fyodor Dostoevesky*
  18. A Christmas Carol -Charles Dickens
  19. War and Peace -Leo Tolstoy*
  20. The Brothers Karamazov -Fyodor Dostoevesky
  21. The Portait of a Lady -Henry James
  22. MaryAnne -Daphne Du Maurier
  23. Passage to India -EM Forster
  24. A Study in Scarlet -Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  25. Mythology -Edith Hamilton
  26. Alice in Wonderland- Lewis Carrol
  27. The Odyssey -Homer
  28. The Hunchback of Notre Dame -Victor Hugo
  29. The Tale of Genji -Lady Muraski
  30. Paradise Lost -John Milton
  31. The Epic of Gilgamesh
  32. The Little Prince -Antoine Saint Exupery
  33. Gone With the Wind -Margaret Mitchell*
  34. Frankenstein -Mary Shelley
  35. Oedipus Rex -Sophocles
  36. Vanity Fair -William Makepeace Thackeray*
  37. Kokoro -Natsume Soseki
  38. Utopia -Sir Thomas More
  39. The Mysteries of Udolpho -Ann Radcliffe
  40. The Picture of Dorian Gray -Oscar Wilde
  41. My Cousin Rachel -Daphne Du Maurier
  42. The Jungle Book -Rudyard Kipling
  43. Macbeth -William Shakespeare
  44. Hamlet -William Shakespeare
  45. The Age of Innocence -Edith Wharton
  46. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
  47. Cranford- Elizabeth Gaskell
  48. Mrs Dalloway -Virginia Wolfe
  49. Wives and Daughters -Elizabeth Gaskell
  50. My Bondage and My Freedom -Frederick Douglass
  51. North and South -Elizabeth Gaskell
  52. Dracula -Bram Stoker*
  53. The Shuttle -Frances Hodgson Burnett
  54. A Little Princess -Francess Hodgson Burnett* (reading with my daughter Bella)
  55. Far From the Madding Crowd -Thomas Hardy
  56. The Divine Comedy -Dante Alighieri (plan on reading the three books separately)
  57. The Three Musketeers -Alexandre Dumas
  58. War of the Worlds -HG Wells
  59. The Diary of Anne Frank
  60. The Dumbhouse -John Burnside

An * denotes a reread

This list seems daunting when you look at it, but honestly, I am getting so much pleasure out of all the books I’ve been reading  (or at the very least, they have been thought provoking) and it is a 5 year goal so hopefully I can get to all of them.  And while I am committing to this list, I reserve the right to add to it as I find other titles that interest me.

So that’s it.  How does this challenge sound to you?