Book 414: Bel Ami – Guy de Maupassant

de Maupassant, Guy - Bel AmiAfter a two month hiatus I am back with the 45th book from my Classics Club list. That’s 45% of my list done and I’m only 32 books behind schedule ;-)

Going into Bel Ami I thought I knew what the book was about, but I wasn’t aware it had a subtitle, The History of a Scoundrel, which would’ve told me I was in no way correct!

If I’m honest I chose Bel Ami because it was short and accessible on my phone. (Thank you Kindle iPhone app, this isn’t the first time you’ve saved me from boredom.) I forgot the next book I wanted to read and an hour is a long time for lunch so I started this and read it pretty quickly. You’d think I would use lunch and my commute to catch up on my 10+ hours of back logged podcasts to listen to, but no why would I do that when there are more books to read!?

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Book 413: The Emperor’s Soul – Brandon Sanderson

Sanderson, Brandon - The Emperor's SoulDAMN you Mormons and your great Science Fiction/Fantasy! That’s about 25% fact and 75% unadulterated conjecture. Before I go into that (you can skip the next two paragraphs if you’re not interested), funny story: I kept thinking of this as some weird hybrid of the story as it happened and The Emperor’s New Clothes. My mind is weird.

Now, Mormons. Seriously though, why does it seem like there are so many Mormon’s who tell great stories in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genres: Jeff Wheeler, Orson Scott Card, Stephenie Meyer (cough*story teller, still not a great writer*cough) and now Brandon Sanderson. I’m not the first to ponder this (Boston Globe link)and I know I won’t be the last. I know for me it raises a big dilemma of ethics/politics when I chose to read an author who actively believes/participates in a religion which negates/actively works against something I identify with. Do I purchase their novels and have my, what ultimately ends up being fractions of pennies, support their religion through tithing, or do I boycott the author because of their churches stance?

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Book 412: Are You My Mother? – Alison Bechdel

Bechdel, Alison - Are You My MotherAfter re-reading Fun Home for book group I dove right into the follow-up Are You My Mother? As much as I enjoyed it and ultimately identified with it, it didn’t live up to the magical experience of Fun Home. It’s hard to say whether this lack of magic was a result of the intense navel gazing or the less compelling surface emotional story. To be honest it could be the daughter identifying with mother as this is an experience/story that I will never experience in the same way.

This being said, the story was still eloquently and humorously told! The graphics were just as poignant and detailed as those in the original. I enjoyed the complete color shift from the green-gray to the red, especially when Bechdel revisited scenes from her earlier work and the emphasis changed slightly. The book list in Are You My Mother? wasn’t quite as long as Fun Home but it was still pretty impressive at 38 separate works listed.

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Book 411: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic – Alison Bechdel

Bechdel, Alison - Fun HomeI first read Fun Home in undergrad after my friend Mia gave me a copy not long after it came out in paperback. (I’m pretty sure it was paperback and I’m pretty sure it was Mia. I wasn’t so great at tracking who, when or where books came from back then…oh the olden days :-D)

Either way, I remember thoroughly loving it that first time I read it. I even went out of my way to read Camus’ A Happy Death after I finished even though I have very little recollection of it now other than these quotes I saved on a proto-blog I had that I’m pretty sure it was called East Coast Traditional Meets West Coast Casual or something like that (I stole it from a furniture magazine.)

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Book 410: First Among Sequels (Thursday Next #5) – Jasper Fforde

Fforde, Jasper - First Among Sequels (Thursday Next #5)This series has finally slowed down. This isn’t a detraction, just a statement. Picking up more than 14 years after the end of Something RottenFirst Among Sequels just didn’t feel quite the same. Don’t get me wrong, there was absurdity, Fforde’s genius pushes the boundaries and Thursday Next is still a great character, but it just wasn’t the same.

As I mentioned in my post about Something Rotten I found out after I’d started this novel that the last three of the published novels in the Thursday Next series are actually a second series and not the same. It’s a little misleading as websites like Goodreads and Amazon group them together. There’s even a compendium of the first five: A Thursday Next Digital Collection: Novels 1-5 (Amazon Link). If I would’ve known about the time gap and the “separate series” portion I would’ve paused after book four instead of five, but oh well.

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Book 409: Something Rotten (Thursday Next #4) – Jasper Fforde

Fforde, Jasper - Something Rotten (Thursay Next #4)Just when you think it can’t get any stranger, Jasper Fforde makes sure to let you know it can and it will:

“The fate of all life on this beautiful planet decided on the swing of a croquet mallet.” (351)

I mean COME ON! Anyone who can turn croquet into a full-contact sport and make me want to watch it has to be a genius right?

I also can’t believe it took me until almost 12 hours later to finally connect the title to most of the story, as in hey this story has a lot about Hamlet in it and the quote “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” even appears! Thanks Fforde for reminding me I’m just another cog in the human machine. Epic fail on my part.

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Book 408: The Well of Lost Plots (Thursday Next #3) – Jasper Fforde

Fforde, Jasper - The Well of Lost Plots (Thursday Next #3)I think this series is just going to get better and better! Although book three took a lot longer to read that the first two, it was because of my own travels, being sick and once again sinking into the sandbox world of Minecraft, this time on PS4. Either way, it’s my first book of 2016 and what a great way to transition to a new year.

This book picks up right after Lost in a Good Book and takes place almost exclusively in the Book World! I loved learning even more about Jurisfiction, the Council of Genres, Text Grand Central and the internal politics of them all. I cannot wait to see where the series goes over the next few books. I think I’m going to finish out those I have left on my shelf, Something Rotten and First Among Sequels and then take a break from Thursday Next, but I will finish the series, it’s too good not to! I already want to check out Fforde’s other series, Nursery Crime, a companion Book World series which he sets up in this novel (see the last quote under additional quotes)!

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