Book 375: The Scourge of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood #3) – Jeff Wheeler

Wheeler, Jeff - The Scourge of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood #3)I loved this series and it’s kind of obvious in that I read it in less than five days. I would’ve read it faster, but pesky work and being somewhat sociable got in the way. I’m glad I read the series, as it gave me three squares on my BOTNS Bingo card so I at least feel like I made an effort! Plus having read the first few paragraphs of this and learning the publishing history behind this series, I’m glad I gave it a chance because of my women with weapons are awesome mindset.

Picking up where The Blight of Muirwood left off there is no downtime in this novel; here is no year of discovery or growth off the pages. It may as well be part two of book two and that works really well for this series, and that could answer what it is about the middle book of this trilogy being so good.

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Book 374: The Blight of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood #2) – Jeff Wheeler

Wheeler, Jeff - The Blight of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood #2)This is just one of those series I’m going to BLAZE through. It’s good because it gets my Goodreads “challenge goal” count up, but it’s even better because it’s so enthralling that I can’t put it down!

I’ll start with what’s great about this novel. Wheeler wrote at the end of the novel that he loves middle novels in trilogies and that he thinks they are often times the strongest. For me, I generally do NOT like the middle novel and dread reading them as I feel they’re often the weakest. I’m still trying to figure this out, but Wheeler was able to keep the crescendo building from The Wretched of Muirwood and I cannot wait to see where he takes it in the last book of the Legends of Muirwood trilogy, The Scourge of Muirwood.

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Book 373: The Wretched of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood #1) – Jeff Wheeler

Wheeler, Jeff - The Wretched of Mirwood (Legends of Mirwood #1)I don’t know why I bought this book in December of 2013, but I am SO glad that Books on the Nightstand Bingo encouraged me to read it! (It’s the square with an author who shares my name – I’ve already re-read Chaucer and most everyone spells my name Jeff anyway.)

I’d been making my way through Not Gay on my iPad and didn’t want to take it to the beach, so I pulled this up on my Kindle and was absorbed within minutes. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is exactly that pulled me into the book so quickly. Wheeler writes incredibly smoothly (and apparently this is a young adult novel), but he also write characters that pull you into the story. Where I think he really excels is in the world building.

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Book 370: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Susanna Clark

Clarke, Susanna - Jonathan Strange & Mr. NorrellWhat a journey! I don’t know what I was thinking waiting this long to read this novel. It’s been sitting on my bookshelf for almost 10 months and has been out for over a decade! In the last few months I finally heard enough about Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell to pick it up and read the tome that it is. (AKA the boyfriend wants to watch the new TV adaptation and I said I couldn’t until I read the book.)

I am most definitely beating myself up for not reading it sooner. Sure I was a bit scared of the length, hello doorstop clocking in at 846 pages, but I was even more concerned with the comparisons to Dickens! How wrong I was; how wrong I was. For some reason I let this one comparison (I still think Dickens needed an editor) blind me from the wondrousness that was this book.

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Book 365: The Brontë Project – Jennifer Vandever

Vandever, Jennifer - The Brontë ProjectI’m not sure what it is about Brontë fan-fiction, but they’re just not as whimsical as the Austen fan-fiction. Looking at the subject matters and general ambiance of the works and the author’s lives it is fairly obvious, but when you think about it the options for fan-fiction are limitless. I picked this book (Amazon link) up in late 2012 and have finally gotten around to reading it.

The only other Brontë fan-fiction I’ve read include Solsbury Hill and The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë and they were both a bit ho-hum. I did enjoy the vilification of Charlotte in Michael Thomas Ford’s Jane Fairfax trilogy (here, here and here), but that could be the problem. Emily and Anne died so early and Charlotte had so much time to cultivate/purge their images in society that it’s all about Charlotte and not the rest of the family. (“What’s more, she [Charlotte] has become adept at spinning her own legend and constructing her image before the public.” (59) – and I would even argue spinning Emily and Anne’s images, obviously). Even this novel, whose main character, Sara, is in love with Wuthering Heights ends up being predominantly about Charlotte.

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Book 359: Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Part 2)

Cervantes, Miguel - Don QuixoteI did it! I finally finished! After almost exactly a month to the day that I started the infamous Don Quixote I finished it. I recapped Part 1 last week because I knew I would struggle to remember everything in it due to how long it took to just read that part but now I’m ready to recap Part 2!

I thoroughly enjoyed Part 2 of Don Quixote. I didn’t enjoy it for the same reasons as I enjoyed Part 1, but it was as great. I think the biggest difference is Cervantes, if possible, was even MORE aware of his works impact on culture and literature. He took the jibes and teasing in Part 1 and turned them into full-blown sarcasm and satire in Part 2. I think a lot of this is in direct response to the “fake Don Quixote,” published before he could release Part 2 and I talk about that in my Reading Spain, AKA an Homage to Miguel de Cervantes post (about half way through under the Biblioteca Nacional Museo section).

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Book 359: Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Part 1)

Cervantes, Miguel - Don QuixoteAfter slogging my way through the first half of this infamous book I decided to break my response into two parts. (Click here for Part 2.) This wasn’t planned, obviously, but coming in at 982 pages it may as well be two books, so I figured why not. (I’m still only going to count it as one book though.) I’ve split this for two reasons: I doubt I’ll remember the first half by time I finish the second and I have so much to talk about related to Miguel Cervantes and Spain, Madrid in particular, it just makes sense.

I first read portions of Don Quixote in my high school Spanish class. It was one of the only works that we read in English and in Spanish. I don’t remember the overwhelming majority of it. The only part I do remember is what has become so much a part of the modern psyche, “tilting at windmills” (Wikipedia link) that I can’t even say for sure it’s from reading the book or just from hearing it so often. It’s sad, but that’s all I remember. What’s interesting is how much more of an analytical reader I’ve become and how I took so much more appreciation from the novel’s absurdity and Cervantes’ critiques on novels and literature in general.

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