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 361: Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Shelley, Mary - FrankensteinAs with 99% of the Classics I’ve read, I’m wondering what took me so long to read this one! Not only is it under 200 pages, but it’s quick and fascinating read. Add in that Shelley was only 19 when she wrote it and I’m like WHOA. This is my second Classic’s Club book this month, so yay for finally making progress on that again.

As when I read Dracula, I was surprised at how much of Frankenstein’s story (Amazon link) was different from what has become the common perception of Frankenstein and his monster in pop-culture.I am happy to report that my reading of this coincided really well with other books I’ve read that are fan-fiction pieces, like Meghan Shepherd’s A Cold Legacy, and tangentially related books about the authors and their connections like another piece of fan-fiction, like Michael Thomas Ford’s Jane Fairfax Trilogy (Jane Bites Back in particular).

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Book 332: Male Sex Work and Society – Victor Minichiello and John Scott (eds.)

Minichiello, Victor and John Scott - Male Sex Work and Society

This book simultaneously highlights what is good and what is bad about the white tower of academia. It explores a specific topic in depth, while establishing absolutely nothing, other than the need for more research. I received a copy of this book from the publisher and received no compensation for my honest opinion.

I’m going to start with my frustrations with the book (or academia/academics in a broader context) first and then move to what they did well. What frustrated me most about the entire collection were the isolationist tendencies of the authors. In a move to over-compensate for any sort of collective or global identity (and not Western-wash everything) every single paper started out within the first few paragraphs by using the almost exact phrase of, “due to cultural circumstances, male sex workers (MSWs) circumstances in this country cannot be compared to those in any other country.” The reason this was so infuriating is that there were clearly overarching themes, sexual identity (or lack thereof), technology and public health, to name a few, that Manichiello and Scott picked out and even acknowledged. However, rather than encouraging the authors to use them to tie everything together within the papers across borders and identities, they were used to bridge each of the papers between the papers in editorial asides. Seriously, if they would’ve just taken this as a given, at least 50 pages could’ve been cut out of the book due to repetitiveness.

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Book 322: New Moon (Twilight Saga #2) – Stephenie Meyer

Meyer, Stephenie - Twilight Saga 2 - New MoonOne good thing of driving home for the holidays (17ish hours) is that I’ve got plenty of time to read. After reading Twilight in a rush to get ready to record Episode 3 of “Come Read With Me,” I immediately went into reading New Moon and am typing this response as we finish the drive to the NC mountains in which I hope to finish reading Eclipse and at least a large portion of, if not all of, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. Yes, I’ve fallen into the hole.

I think having finished this novel I’m firmly entrenched in Team Jacob. I mean I can completely understand the whole Edward thing and I know how it ends, so I’m not holding my breath, but less face it. Jacob is kinder, warmer and I think an easier character to relate to because he is half-human. Edward has this almost holier than though, which is of course from Meyer’s constant angelic and deity like references. I also think Jacob’s enthusiasm for Bella, and life in general, carries through from the first novel even after he discovers his tribe’s secret.

“Like an earthbound sun, whenever someone was within his gravitational pull, Jacob warmed them. It was natural, a part of who he was. No wonder I was so eager to see him.” (145)

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30 x 30: #19 – Finish visiting the entire MFA with Caroline

2014 11-23 MFA -  MapI’m calling this one. And with that I’m down to eight remaining on my 30×30 list. I told you I’d be moving through quite a few this week! After almost four hours at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Caroline and I were exhausted. I’m pretty sure we’ve seen 99% of it and what we haven’t seen I’m sure we will. Below is just a taste of what we saw today and if you’ve followed this blog for a while you know I’ve been to the MFA many times. You can see some of my related posts by clicking here or on the Museum of Fine Arts tab at the bottom of this post or by using the search bar!

We’ve been quite a few times together, but the last time we went we saw specific exhibits and I knew that there were still large portions of the museum I hadn’t visited and figured I might as well drag her along with me :) Our main goals today were the Art of the Ancient World and Art of Asia, Oceana and Africa wings of the museum, as we’d previously viewed the Art of the Americas, the Contemporary Art and most of the European wings.

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Book 314: The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus #5) – Rick Riordan

Riordan, Rick - The Blood of OlympusThis is one of those books that I probably should’ve re-read the entire series before reading. So much has happened in the novels, especially if you go all the way back to the first Percy Jackson book, but even just within the five books of this series it’s been a long journey.

As much as I want to say this was the best book in the series, I honestly think The House of Hades was better. And this is for a couple of reasons. If possible The Blood of Olympus had TOO much action. I get that this is the end of a series which is a spin-off/second half of another series, but this book just didn’t stop with the epic battles. Sure they’re facing the end of the world and Riordan said it best,

“Today, one way or another, their journey would end.” (378)

But honestly, the book left me exhausted and not in a good way. It felt like there was so much that happened off the page that I couldn’t keep track of who was where and what was happening. There are spoilers to the series and this book so don’t read past here if you’re planning to read it.

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