Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Top Ten Characters You Didn't Click With

Top Ten Tuesday's theme this week is top ten characters you didn't click with.

  1. Catherine Earnshaw from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  2. Gulliver from Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
  3. Romeo and Juliet from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
  4. Meg March from Little Women ect by Louisa May Alcott
  5. Scarlette O'Hara from Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  6. Bathsheba Everdeen from Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  7. Susan Penvensie from The Chronicles of Narnia
I could only come up with seven off the top of my head. For most of these, I still liked the book I just didn't really connect with the character.

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Birthday Month Reading Challenge- September

It's September all ready? Wait? What happened to my summer? ;)
I hope everyone is still sticking with the Birthday Month Reading Challenge. Remember if you're behind you still have plenty of time to catch up. :) No one will ever know. ;)
Here's my list of authors with September birthdays.

  • George R.R. Martin
  • F. Scott Firtzgerald
  • Truman Capote
  • T.S. Elliot
  • William Faulkner
  • Shel Silverstein
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • O. Henry
  • James Fenimore Cooper
  • Stephen King
  • Timothy Zahn
  • Os Guiness
  • Eugene Field
  • Elizabeth Enright
  • Agatha Christie
  • H.G. Wells
Be sure to check HERE for other authors with September Birthdays. 


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Monday, August 31, 2015

Emma- - Week 8 (Chapters 36-40)

We are nearing the end people! It's been exciting to do this read-along. When we are finished we will have a week of giveaways, movie reviews and character analysis.  I have the movie reviews (thanks Heidi!), I'll be hosting some giveaways (though If you to host one you definitely can!) however if you want to write a character analysis or anything else let me know!
With these chapters we get the return of Frank, more Mrs. Elton and finally the ball! It's not an Austen novel without a ball. ;)
I personally am starting to see a change in Emma. She is resisting being a matchmaker for Harriet and is actually giving Harriet some good advice. I think Harriet is also maturing.
Thoughts?
So questions!

  • Are you beginning to see developments in character? 
  • How did Mr. Elton show his character in declining to dance with Harriet? 
  • How does Mrs. Elton show her character in everything she says? 

And just cause I love this line here it is. "Brother and Sister? No!" :)

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Book Review- Jo's Boys

For the audiobook challenge, women's challenge, hard core re-reading challenge and monthly key word challenge I read (aka listened to) Louisa May Alcott's novel Jo's Boys.
Better known for her novels "Little Women" and "Little Men," Louisa May Alcott continued the story of her feisty protagonist Jo in this final novel chronicling the adventures and misadventures of the March family. Entertaining, surprising, and overall a joy to read, "Jo's Boys" is nevertheless shaded by a bittersweet tone, for with it Alcott brought her wonderful series to an end. Beginning ten years after "Little Men," "Jo's Boys" revisits Plumfield, the New England school still presided over by Jo and her husband, Professor Bhaer. Jo's boys -- including rebellious Dan, sailor Emil, and promising musicain Nat -- are grown; Jo herself remains at the center of this tale, holding her boys fast through shipwreck and storm, disappointment... and even murder.Popular for more than a century, the series that began with "Little Women" continues to hold universal appeal with its powerful and affectionate depiction of family -- the safe haven where the prodigal can always return, adversity is never met alone, and our dreams of being cherished, no matter what our flaws, come true.
This novel was a nice conclusion to the story that began with Little Women. It still contained some of the qualms I had with Little Men (see them HERE) but it was still enjoyable. I saw another's review of it and it called it preachy.... I guess I would have hesitated to use that word myself but I think they're probably right. I'd say Jo's Boys and Little Men maybe more so but Little Women is as well. Now, to be clear I'm a Christian and strongly so, but I still don't like my books to be preachy.
Overall though it was great to see everyone getting married and having adventures. Dan's fate was sad but to be honest I can only see him as a bachelor.... I'm not sure I see him married. I know a lot of people are upset with Amy for not letting him marrying Bess but I don't think that's exactly fair. First off, Dan never even asked. Secondly, we don't even know if Bess was interested in him in that way. Thirdly, I think let's be fair to Amy and realize that in real life, we probably would have second thoughts about our daughter marrying an ex-convict. Granted he's matured and changed but even I would want to give it some time. Those are just my thoughts.
I was actually more upset with Meg for not wanting Daisy to marry Nat. I also felt like they changed Nat in this book. In Little Men he was supposed to be a protege fiddler and a good young boy who as I recall never really has any major problems. In Jo's Boys they make him out to be an average fiddler and an okay boy that really doesn't show too much promise but well enough. So I just thought all of that was dumb. However they ended up together in the end so I can't complain too much.
Everyone else's marriages made me happy though.
Josie was interesting to read about and I liked to see how she grew up throughout the book. She scarcely made an appearance in Little Men so she was relatively new to the series.
Jo's writing career made me laugh. Only Jo. :) Jo is just always my favorite character. Jo is Jo. :)

Overall with this re-read of the Little Women series I fear I became a little disillusioned with this series. Yes I still enjoy it but it's just not great as I remember it growing up. Too idealistic, too preachy and too childish. What makes the series for me and probably always will is Jo. :)

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Book Review- That Hideous Strength

For the monthly motif challenge, mount TBR challenge, alphabet soup challenge, 42 challenge and author a-z challenge I read C.S. Lewis's last novel in his space trilogy, That Hideous Strength. It took me a long time to finally finish this trilogy! I started it several years ago when I read Out of the Silent Planet at my aunts. I then re-read it with a book club. A year later I read Perelandra and now finally a year after that I have finished That Hideous Strength!
Synopsis from Goodreads: The third novel in the science-fiction trilogy by C.S. Lewis. This final story is set on Earth, and tells of a terrifying conspiracy against humanity. The story surrounds Mark and Jane Studdock, a newly married couple. Mark is a Sociologist who is enticed to join an organisation called N.I.C.E. which aims to control all human life. His wife, meanwhile, has bizarre prophetic dreams about a decapitated scientist, Alcasan. As Mark is drawn inextricably into the sinister organisation, he discovers the truth of his wife's dreams when he meets the literal head of Alcasan which is being kept alive by infusions of blood. Jane seeks help concerning her dreams at a community called St Anne's, where she meets their leader -- Dr Ransom (the main character of the previous two titles in the trilogy). The story ends in a final spectacular scene at the N.I.C.E. headquarters where Merlin appears to confront the powers of Hell.
I liked That Hideous Strength a lot but it was incredibly weird... let's be honest though... the whole trilogy was. If you've read Frank Peretti's This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness it reminded me of them a lot. It was slower at the beginning but picked up as it went on. Putting science fiction and Merlin in the same room was a weird mix but Lewis made it work. In my opinion Lewis wrote the space trilogy for an older audience than the Chronicles of Narnia and That Hideous Strength is especially written for an older audience. There are subtle sexual themes throughout it that probably would go over children's heads. For example, one of the members of N.I.C.E., the Fairy, is lesbian.
I liked the main characters... the couple Mark and Jane. Oftentimes I would get frustrated with Mark being so dense and not getting that N.I.C.E. was a bad organization but I liked watching his metamorphosis throughout the novel. Jane wised up a lot faster than Mark but she still had a lot to learn. Ransom, the main character from the previous two novels doesn't make an appearance until halfway through the novel. Merlin in modern day was humorous. The other secondary characters worked well.
At the end it was interesting to see as Mark and Jane confronted difficulties and though they did not profess Christianity, turn to God in these times, realizing that He was their only hope. In the end, they stuck to those realizations.
Overall I enjoyed That Hideous Strength and would recommend it wholeheartedly (once you've read the previous two of course). Have you read it? What are your thoughts on it?

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Beat the Heat Readathon Progress- 2015

This is where I'm going to keep track of my progress for the Beat the Head Readathon. I'll update it as I go along. My reading times are fairly approximate as  I don't keep track of that normally.

WEEK 1

Monday 8/24

Currently reading: A Child's History of England, Peter Duck (re-read), Emma (re-read), Jo's Boys (re-read) (audiobook)

Time spent reading today: 30 minutes reading, 30 minutes listening to an audiobook

Books completed today: none


Tuesday 8/25

Currently reading: A Child's History of England, Peter Duck (re-read), Emma (re-read)

Time spent reading today: 1 hr reading, 1 hr listening to audiobook

Books completed today: Jo's Boys (re-read) (audiobook)


Wednesday 8/26

Currently reading: A Child's History of England, Emma (re-read), Winter Holiday (re-read)

Time spent reading today: 3 hr and 30 min.

Books completed today: Peter Duck (re-read)


Thursday 8/27

Currently reading: A Child's History of England, Emma (re-read), The Wisdom of Father Brown (audiobook), Winter Holiday (re-read)

Time spent reading today: 30 min listening

Books completed today: none


Friday 8/28

Currently reading: A Child's History of England, Emma (re-read), The Wisdom of Father Brown (audiobook), Winter Holiday (re-read)

Time spent reading today: 1 hr

Books completed today: none


Saturday 8/29

Currently reading: A Child's History of England, Emma (re-read), The Wisdom of Father Brown (audiobook), Winter Holiday (re-read)

Time spent reading today: 1 hr

Books completed today: none


Sunday 8/30

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Week 1 Summary:

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Books I completed this week:

WEEK 2

Monday 8/31

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Tuesday 9/1

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Wednesday 9/2

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Thursday 9/3

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Friday 9/4

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Saturday 9/5

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Sunday 9/6

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Week 2 Summary:

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2 WEEK FINAL SUMMARY

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All books completed:

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Book Review- Germinal

For the literary movement challenge, library reading challenge, author A-Z and the classics club I read Emile Zola's novel Germinal. This was my first Emile Zola book so I really didn't know what to expect going into it.
Synopsis from Goodreads: The thirteenth novel in Émile Zola’s great Rougon-Macquart sequence, Germinal expresses outrage at the exploitation of the many by the few, but also shows humanity’s capacity for compassion and hope.Etienne Lantier, an unemployed railway worker, is a clever but uneducated young man with a dangerous temper. Forced to take a back-breaking job at Le Voreux mine when he cannot get other work, he discovers that his fellow miners are ill, hungry, and in debt, unable to feed and clothe their families. When conditions in the mining community deteriorate even further, Lantier finds himself leading a strike that could mean starvation or salvation for all.
I have very mixed feelings about this book. It is gritty... super gritty. It's also sexually crude. Not graphically like I'm sure novels are nowadays it's just crass. I don't appreciate that. It jus talked about sex way too much for my comfort level. Zola is trying to make a point with the crudities and the grittiness but I still don't like it.
A lot of the themes I saw in this book really showed through towards the end.
First there are the miners. Dirty poor and just dirty in general. They labor and break their backs for a pittance. They are half starving most of the time, sick, have to share beds and are freezing. For enjoyment they drink and have sex... with everybody... seriously. They crave what their masters have.

Then there is the owner of the mines.  He is a man with all the money all the food the nice house and really essentially everything the miners are striving for. However, he is unhappy. His wife has been unfaithful to him multiple times and most recently with their own nephew (GROSS!!!!). He craves to have sex with a wife who is faithful to him. He craves what the miners have.
So as you can see here, Emile Zola is pointing out that both groups desperately want something they think will make them happy but each has what the other wants and with it they still aren't happy.

This brings us to the strike. Now I'm going to be honest with you. I don't like strikes... I think for the most part strikes are stupid. When it comes to strikes I prefer North and South's outlook on them as it shows both sides in a positive and negative light. The strike held together fairly well at the beginning but at the end it went so south that if there was the end of the world it would have reached it. It was brutal, mad, disgusting and out of control.

The characters were all interesting but entirely immoral. In fact the book was basically void of God. When he was mentioned it was to say that he obviously didn't care about them (the miners). Lantier was better than some but in the end he degraded to the same level. Catherine I felt sorry for throughout the novel. She made a lot of bad choices but she was also forced into a lot of bad situations. I rooted for Catherine and Lantier to get together throughout the novel... not in the way I knew they would end up getting together but actually getting married. With the way book was though I knew that wouldn't happen.

I do think Zola is a very good writer and he kept me intrigued the whole time. I read the book essentially in two days because I was so interested to see what happened.

Overall I found the book very interesting but it is not something I would hand my child. It's interesting I was asking my cousin if she had read any of Zola's novels a couple months ago and she said no, but from what she'd heard his books were alongs the lines of "Chaucer, Rabelais and Balzac" (Music Man) and sexually inappropriate and innocent me was all like "no that couldn't be!" She was right. It got a three stars from me on Goodreads. I don't see myself reading anymore of Zola's works but in retrospect I'm glad I read this one.

Are you a fan of Zola? What are your thoughts on his books?

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Top Ten Books That Would Be On My Syllabus If I Taught Classics 101

Today's theme for Top Ten Tuesday is top ten books that would be on my syllabus if I taught X 101. I went with classics because.... duh... this is Lois. ;) Some of these are my favorites others of these I like but they're not my absolute favorite though I think they should be included because they are great literature. I tried to include a mixture of more modern classics and classic classics.
I also included a secondary list. Because if I had this class I would give them extra credit for reading the secondary reading list. Now I really want to teach this class!

  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  4. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (I prefer it to Tom Sawyer)
  5. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  6. Beowulf by Unknown
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  8. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  9. 1984 or Animal Farm by George Orwell
  10. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Secondary Reading
  1. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
  2. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  3. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
  4. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  5. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  6. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  7. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  8. Emma by Jane Austen
  9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  10. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
There are obviously a LOT of great classics so of course I missed some good ones. Even though I've read so many classics there are so many I still have yet to read so just because your favorite isn't on here doesn't mean it doesn't deserve to be! Frankenstein, 1984, Animal Farm, David Copperfield, Great Expectations and Anna Karenina are not my favorites but I can appreciate them and I think they are very interesting books to look at and study.
Any you would add?

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Bout of Books August 2015 Wrap Up and Beat the Heat Readathon Kick Off

Today marks the end of Bout of Books and the beginning of the Beat the Heart Readathon!
For Bout of Books I read:

  • Germinal (It's entirety)
  • Jo's Boys (seven chapters) (audiobook) (re-read)
  • Peter Duck (six chapters) (re-read)
  • Emma (five chapters) (re-read)
Yeah.... I re-read a lot! 

For Beat the Heat so far I've read:
  • Jo's Boys (1 chapter) (audiobook) (re-read)
  • A Child's History of England by Charles Dickens (three chapters)

I'm loving that these readathons are encouraging me to read more and hopefully I'll continue to keep up with it after the readathons are done. :)

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Emma- Week 7 (Chapters 31-35)

This week's reading of Emma brought us the introduction of Mrs. Elton! Also I noticed we are over halfway through the book (I'm sure we were last week too but I wasn't paying attention... obviously). Frank Churchill does not make an appearance in these few chapters but he is promised back soon. Emma also struggles with herself on whether or not she is actually in love with him.
One of the most interesting aspects of these chapters I found was Mrs. Elton's interest in Jane. While Emma feels pity for Jane for being inflicted with Mrs. Elton, as Mr. Knightley said, Emma herself was never really there for Jane. It was good to see that Emma took that rebuke to heart but obviously she still has a long way to go.
Something my mother always pointed out to me was that Mrs. Elton's acted as a foil to Emma's character. Mrs. Elton was the evil version of Emma in a sense and since she was so bad we are more gracious to Emma. Thoughts to ponder on.
  • What techniques does Austen use to ensure that we remain sympathetic to Emma?
  • What kind of woman is Mrs. Elton?
  • How do you think Frank's absence is affecting Emma? 
Feel free to comment with your thoughts (Even if you aren't participating in the read-along)! :)

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