Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The wrap up...

Two more down...
Fall into Reading ended December 20. I didn't finish quite as much as I planned (13 out of 15 books), but not too bad. Those last two will hopefully be read by either the end of the year or VERY early next year. That's the plan anyway. I read a pretty wide variety of books, trying to fit in all the books from my various challenges. My books were...

1. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott 5/5
2. The Pilgrim of Hate - Ellis Peters 4/5
3. Daisy Miller - Henry James 2/5
4. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson 2/5
5. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins 5/5
6. The Alienist - Caleb Carr
7. The Halloween Tree - Ray Bradbury 3/5
8. Adolphe - Benjamin Constant 2/5
9. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde 3/5
10. Knocked Out by My Nunga-Nungas - Louise Rennison
11. American Gods - Neil Gaiman 3/5
12. The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Emmuska Orczy 5/5
13. The Third Chimpanzee - Jared Diamond

Like I said, a pretty wide variety. A couple rereads...some I loved, some I didn't like much at all...a good mix. Also completed...

The goal was to read 8 books from consecutive decades in '08. I tried to be ambitious and read 12 books (one for each month) in consecutive decades in '08. I only managed to get through 10, and know I won't be getting to the last two any time soon. So. I fulfilled the requirements, but fell short of my own goal. Not too bad. My books were...

1. Persuasion - Jane Austen 3/5
2. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Washington Irving 4/5
3. The Red and the Black - Stendhal 4/5
4. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte 4/5
5. Madame Bovary - Gustav Flaubert 3/5
6. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott 5/5
7. Daisy Miller - Henry James 2/5
8. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson 2/5
9. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde 3/5
10. The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Emmuska Orczy 5/5

It's funny...I'm looking back at some of the books I read early in the year and I think my ratings are a little high for the impression the books left on me...like The Red and the Black and Wuthering Heights. I was sure I had rated those 3/5. Interesting. An interesting challenge and I am looking forward to participating this coming year.

It's Tuesday, where are you?

Shell Cottage, Tinworth Cornwall, England

The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Emmuska Orczy

the scarlet pimpernel
baroness emmuska orczy
c. 1905
250ish pages
completed 12/20/2008

read for: decades challenge

*may contain spoilers*

I'll start off by saying I had already seen the mini-series so I already knew who the Pimpernel was so that surprise was not exactly a surprise...

I think it's worthy of noting how the main idea of this book, the main point of the Pimpernel himself, is the opposite of almost all other heroes like this. Zorro, Robin Hood, the Scarecrow...they were all against the rich and for the poor. The rich, the aristocracy, were all evil oppressors who lived in luxury on the shoulders of the poor. The Scarlet Pimpernel, on the other hand, is the opposite. He rescues the aristocratic French from the masses. The people are CRAZY in their blood lust. Normally, you're totally on the side of the peasants, they're the good people. And because of that...I'm not totally sure if I'm supposed to be 100% for the French aristocrats. I mean, yes, the French masses are kind of out of control with their Reign of Terror, but...they were being oppressed. Right? That being said...

I really enjoyed that this was not a normal adventure story. It wasn't told from the perspective of the adventurer, it was told through the eyes of his wife. You weren't privy to the emotions and motives of the Pimpernel, instead you saw his wife dealing with her emotions of love for her husband despite his apparent lack of affection for her, her trying to win back her husband's love, and her struggle between saving her husband and betraying her brother. It was a very entertaining and different setup.

I also have to say, I love Sir Percy. LOVE him. Yes, he's proud and unrelenting in his coldness toward Margeurite, but that small scene right after she told him about the trouble Armand was in, after she'd left him on the terrace, secured my everlasting love. The ice around his heart melted for a moment, and he fell to his knees, kissing the place she had just stood. How sad.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Control yourself...

My TBR list is rapidly getting more and more out of control. So naturally I would join this next challenge...The 2009 TBR Challenge! During 2009 read 12 books, one for each month, off your personal TBR list. Choose your 12 before January 1, 2009 and once they're set THEY'RE SET! My books will be...

1. The Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein
2. Haroun and the Sea of Stories - Salmon Rushdie
3. God's Behaving Badly - Marie Phillips
4. The Year of Living Biblically - AJ Jacobs
5. On Chesil Beach - Ian McEwan
6. The Big Over Easy - Jasper Fforde
7. The Virgin of Small Plains - Nancy Pickard
8. The Crusade - Michael Alexander Eisner
9. The Road - Cormac McCarthy
10. The Adventure of David Simple - Sarah Fielding
11. Innocent Traitor - Alison Weir
12. The Romanov Bride - Robert Alexander

I keep thinking I should tone down the challenges for next year...

Monday, December 15, 2008

The wrap up...

Go me, I have just finished The Classics Challenge! I read five classics and the one that someone else believes should be considered a "new classic." I really enjoyed this challenge. I am always trying to get myself to read more classics, and it was interesting to see what someone else feels should be a classic. My books were...

1. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott 5/5
2. Daisy Miller - Henry James 2/5
3. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson 2/5
4. Adolphe - Benjamin Constant 2/5
5. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde 3/5
6. American Gods - Neil Gaiman - 3/5

I wasn't wild about all my books but I'm glad to have read them.

American Gods - Neil Gaiman

american gods
neil gaiman
c. 2001
480 pages
completed 12/13/2008

read for: classics challenge

*may contain spoilers*

This was read for part of the classics challenge (see sidebar) as a newer book that should one day be considered a classic. I have to say, I disagree. This was an interesting read (for the most part), but not a classic. In my opinion.

In the beginning, I thought the premise was very intriguing, a war between the old gods (Odin, Anansi, etc) and the new gods (media, technology, etc). I really wanted to see how that went down. And it was cool seeing Gaiman's interpretations of the gods living today, lots of different gods that are not necessarily too commonly known to the average American anymore, as well as American legends like Johnny Appleseed. But in the end when you found out "just kidding we're not having a war!" I was kind of disappointed.

Also I thought the subplot about the missing Lakeside children was weird and out of place. And the little stories about the random gods being brought to America and then forgotten kind of detracted from the story. I understand the point of them, and how they were connected to the main story, but...


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

That which we call a rose...

Another new challenge for 2009! I thought about participating in this challenge last year, but I didn't get around to it. This year I will. The What's In a Name Challenge...
Read six books in 2009, each title featuring one of the following categories:

1. profession
2. time of day
3. relative
4. body part
5. building
6. medical condition

For most of the challenges this year, I am really trying make them fit my out of control TBR pile, as opposed to searching for random books to fit the challenges. So some of my titles (those for profession, body part, and medical condition) may be considered a bit of a stretch.

My list will be...

1. The Tsarina's Daughter - Carolly Erikson (profession)
2. The Meaning of Night - Michael Cox (time of day)
3. American Wife - Curtis Sittenfeld (relative)
4. The Bloody Chamber - Angela Carter (body part)
5. The Teahouse on Mulberry Street - Sharon Owens (building)
6. Miscarriage of Justice - Kip Gayden (medical condition)

Like I said, maybe a bit of a stretch. But maybe that's the point...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

the picture of dorian gray
oscar wilde
c. 1891
187 pages
completed 12/1/2008

read for: decades challenge, classics challenge, 1% challenge, 100 greatest novels, 1001 books, penguin classics

*may contain spoilers*

This was an interesting book. As far as the story goes, I enjoyed it. There were some chapters that just expanded on the philosophies of Lord Henry that were hard for me to read and enjoy. I believe there was one whole chapter of that nature that I skipped. His philosophies were somewhat interesting at the beginning, but I got bored having to keep hearing about them. The idea of 'good' was beauty, youth, art, and pleasure. The idea of 'evil' was crime, vulgarity, and (worst of all) ennui. If that was all I got out of his philosophies, that was good enough for me to understand the point of the book.

Dorian and Lord Henry's relationship was very puzzling to me. Lord Henry was the one who influenced Dorian with his philosophies and books. Lord Henry was, in my opinion, the one (outside of Dorian) most responsible for the corruption of Dorian's soul; he was the serpent to Dorian's Eve, and yet it was Basil, who did nothing more than idolize Dorian and paint his portrait, who Dorian blamed.

What I found most interesting, and also most aggravating, about this books was some of the...missing information. For example, the old woman at the opium den. Who was she? How did she meet Dorian? How did she know to call him Prince Charming? Probably the most prominent of these bits of missing information was the character of Alan Campbell. What came between him and Dorian? What sin did he commit that Dorian was able to blackmail him for? We never find out.

All in all, an enjoyable story, though not always the most enjoyable read.


It's Tuesday, where are you?

Los Angeles, California, USA

Monday, December 1, 2008

To be read...

New TBR books for the month of November...

We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Shirley Jackson
Off the Menu - Christine Son
Mermaids in the Basement - Michael Lee West
The Greatest Knight - Elizabeth Chadwick
Barnacle Love - Anthony de Sa
The Lace Reader - Brunonia Barry
Out Stealing Horses - Per Petterson
The Sixteen Pleasures - Roberta Hellenga
Conceit - Mary Novik
The Minutes of the Lazarus Club - Tony Pollard
When You Are Engulfed in Flames - David Sedaris
The Witch's Trinity - Erika Mailman
Faro's Daughter - Georgette Heyer

Only 13 this month...