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 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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Book 35: The Fall of Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos #2) – Dan Simmons

Simmons, Dan - The Fall of HyperionWhat a follow-up! After reading Hyperion, the first in the Hyperion Cantos, I immediately moved into the second! So glad Alex gave us both of them or I wouldn’t have known what to do, or I would’ve gone out and bought it. Although the style changed from the first novel, this one was just as strong and incredibly intelligent. There are definitely spoilers after the next paragraph so you’ve been warned.

The start of this book was a bit more confusing than the first, again it starts in the middle of the story, but with different characters. Rather than immediately going back to our seven pilgrims and their stories, Simmons introduces us to Joseph Severn, another cybrid (originally a John Keats), and brings in the character Meina Gladstone, CEO of the hegemony and mentioned many times in the previous book. There are of course other characters and they all add to the amazing story, but the core group remain the same.

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Book 34: Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos #1) – Dan Simmons

Simmons, Dan - HyperionIf there is a novel that could make someone fall in love with and/ or enjoy Science Fiction, this is the novel. My friend Alex gave Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion, along with a couple of other books, to our house for Christmas. When I asked him which ones I should read he specifically said these and boy was he right! I was so excited finishing this one up, while I was purchasing a guidebook for my sister I picked up the third book in the Hyperion Cantos (four books) and will definitely read all of them.

This review WILL NOT contain spoilers, but no promises for the rest of the Cantos. The way I read, I read an entire series as one story and sometimes blend things together not knowing what comes from which particular installment, but the first one is always easiest to keep spoiler free. What was most exciting about this novel and what kept me so interested was Simmons’ intelligence and writing ability!

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Book 23: The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Atwood, Margaret - The Handmaid's TaleI can’t believe it’s been over five years since I last read this incredible novel. But thinking about it as I write this I’m not too surprised. I last read this while working on a paper for my MA and that paper didn’t go well, because I apparently didn’t “understand how to apply gender theory” and I was given the opportunity to completely re-write the paper.

I was incredibly pissed at the insult, because that’s how I took it, and I spent a lot of time rewriting the paper in such a way as to insult my professors and the program. In no uncertain terms I stated that gender theory does not preempt every other theory and that scholars needed to be incredibly careful of over-stepping their bounds. I did eventually receive a passing grade and they invited back to pursue a PhD (I declined), but it left a sour taste in my mouth.

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