Book 61: Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll

Carroll, Lewis - Through the Looking GlassI honestly didn’t think I would get back to Alice and her adventures. The first book was so ho-hum that I had no desire to read this one, but this was the second book I read as part of my first short-lived Coursera course. Unfortunately due to entirely way to many commitments and needing to read FOUR books for my 30 x 30 list over the next two months, I just couldn’t give up 10 weeks of reading time. I will most definitely take the course at a later date though!

I definitely found this book less whimsical than the first, which is funny as I’m convinced there are so many more made-up words in this novella. Honestly, I have no idea what it is that made me appreciate this one more. Was it that Alice actually started feeling the pressures of adulthood in this book? Or was it that the doom and gloom of the “chess match” of the looking-glass world spoke to me.

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Book 59: Household Stories – Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm

Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm - Household StoriesI haven’t written about it yet, but I will in the near future, but I signed up for my first Coursera course! It is called Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World and so far I’m enjoying it. Household Stories was our first reading and looking at Goodreads, EVERYONE who reads the Lucy Crane/Wlater Crane version seems to have taken that same Coursera course! I’m seriously looking forward to the other books and stories we’ll read for the course and this was a great start.

What I found most interesting about the collection was the obsession with food and with fallen females. Every story was somehow related to food (needing food, wanting food, having too much food, etc.) or dealt with a female character (human or anthropomorphic) who caused troubles for other characters (the adulteress Mrs. Fox and the numerous wicked step-mothers among others).

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Book 53: Stone Mattress – Margaret Atwood

Atwood, Margaret - Stone MattressAtwood is an incredible writer and story teller and there’s really not much more that needs to be said, so when I saw her newest collection of short stories I knew I had to request it! I received a copy from the publisher, in return for my honest opinion:

Spectactular.

That would be a little cruel, to leave it just at that even though it would still describe it perfectly. Below, you’ll find a one-to-two sentence review of each of the nine tales and a single quote from each.

On a different note, if you haven’t heard Margaret Atwood is the first author of the future library! This is a project where authors are asked to write a work and it won’t be read for 100 years. This makes me both incredibly happy, as she writes such fantastic speculative/near future fiction, but also sad that I won’t be able to read it! It’s a fascinating project and I could go into it in detail, but really you should just read about it at The Guardian.

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Book 46: The Hangman’s Revolution (W.A.R.P. #2) – Eoin Colfer

Colfer, Eoin - W.A.R.P. #2 - The Hangman's RevolutionIf it weren’t for the strength of the last book and Colfer’s series in general, the opening line of this novel might’ve made me turn back! I originally requested a copy of this from the publisher and you can read about my issues here (last paragraph under Books and Bookish – yes I’m naming and shaming now).

However, given the opening lines “meh” and the fact this is a second book in a series (almost always “meh”) this book turned out to be almost as good as The Reluctant Assassin the first of the W.A.R.P. series.

Part of the struggle, for me, with this novel is that the first one came out early last year and I’ve read so many books since then! Add in that this book starts in an alternative present and it took a few chapters to really start remembering characters and what happened in the previous book. I’m not sure if every book will be like this and I’m pretty sure not with the way this ended but there was a Chekhov gun introduced that I’m assuming will span the series (or at least another book)!

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Book 42: Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman’s Daughter #2) – Megan Shepherd

Shepherd, Megan - Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter #2)It is very rare that a second novel, let alone a middle novel in a trilogy, can surpass the first. In this case, not only has Shepherd done it, she’s surpassed an incredibly well written debut novel with an even more creative, intense and harrowing follow-up. It is NOT a place holder as many middle books are in trilogies and I was incredibly impressed.

Whereas H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau inspired The Madman’s Daughter, took her inspiration for this novel from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and I CANNOT wait for the third novel, thankfully it give me time to read the book it’s based on, but I won’t tell you in case you want to read it as it’s revealed in the final pages of this novel.

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Book 38: The Rise of Endymion (Hyperion Cantos #4) – Dan Simmons

Simmons, Dan - The Rise of EndymionI’m exhausted. This series has spanned 2.200+ pages and more than 10 centuries! It covers lifetimes of characters, many lived over and over and a few lived once throughout the entire story! (20 years shy of 1000 years old, one character!) The story was convoluted and continuously changed which ultimately worked for and against the series.

As the concluding novel in this epic story, it felt a little hollow. There were definitely moments of amazement and creativity and Simmons intelligence once again comes across unquestionably, but for some reason it just felt a little hollow and most definitely rushed at the end. Even though I hadn’t fully thought through the end of the novel when I got there I was not surprised at the ending. It did feel a little deus ex machina, but with a “machine” like the Shrike, how could it be any other way?

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Book 37: Endymion (Hyperion Cantos #3) – Dan Simmons

Simmons, Dan - EndymionIf I’m completely honest, I expected this book to fail miserably. After the feeling of utter astonishment at the brilliance of the first two novels in the Hyperion Cantos, how could the follow-up novels remotely compare?

Thankfully, this first one was excellent. Simmons solved part of the problem by fast forwarding almost 300 years into the even further future and starting from there. As with the first two novels, Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion, this novel is told from someone who is simultaneously outside (looking back) and inside of the story, essentially revolving around them. The novel’s opening definitely put me on guard and I was very worried that I wouldn’t see any of the characters from the previous novels, but we already knew the technology existed to extend life well beyond a normal lifespan and thankfully some came back!

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