Monday, June 11, 2018

It's Monday! I Baptize Thee a Hobbit!

These past couple weeks I've been reading a lot and I'm almost caught up to be on track with my Goodreads goal to complete 50 books this year! The year is not over yet and there's many more books  to be read! I can't wait! I'd left a lot of my scary Classics Club books until the end but I'm actually enjoying a lot of them!
Our little Hobbit was baptized this past Sunday. It was a beautiful covenant celebration with the church and family. As a classic procrastinator I finished her baptism gown and cardigan the night before her baptism!

Our little Hobbit in her baptism gown.

Currently Reading

  • The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield
  • Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky 
  • The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (audiobook) 
  • God Is by Mark Jones

Finished Recently 

  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison 

Coming Soon

  • Love's Labour's Lost by William Shakespeare 
  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (book club pick!)
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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Book Review- The Portrait of a Lady

For the Classics Club I read Henry James novel The Portrait of a Lady.
Synopsis from Goodreads: When Isabel Archer, a beautiful, spirited American, is brought to Europe by her wealthy Aunt Touchett, it is expected that she will soon marry. But Isabel, resolved to determine her own fate, does not hesitate to turn down two eligible suitors. She then finds herself irresistibly drawn to Gilbert Osmond, who, beneath his veneer of charm and cultivation, is cruelty itself. A story of intense poignancy, Isabel's tale of love and betrayal still resonates with modern audiences.
I didn't know anything about The Portrait of a Lady before I read it so had no idea what to expect. I ended up enjoying it though hand I hope to read more of Henry James in the future. I'm surprised I did enjoy it though as it did not have a happy ending and most of the characters left a lot to be desired.
You are immediately drawn to the protagonist, Isabel. She is kindhearted and independent. Her cousin  Ralph convince his father to leave her the majority of his fortune on his death. This causes her independent spirit to have independent means. Unfortunately she is taken in by the conniving Gilbert Osmond who she marries. What ensues is a miserable marriage, which becomes more and more miserable as the story unfolds. Before attaining the fortune Isabel turned down two offers of marriage. I wasn't terribly fond of Caspar Goodwood, Isabel's American suitor. He's horribly pushy and annoying. I did like Lord Warburton, Isabel's English suitor, for the most part but he had some issues as well. Overall though my favorite suitor was not even really her suitor... her cousin Ralph. You know he loves her, though the story is not quite clear if he loves her as a cousin or as a lover. His selflessness truly makes him the best character in the story.
The most despicable character in the story is clearly Gilbert Osmond. He's narcissistic, controlling and cruel. He takes this out the most on Isabel but he also is horrible to his sweet and submissive daughter Pansy. I hated him and while I'll never be a fan of divorce I was begging Isabel to leave him.
There's even more interesting characters in the story that I don't have the time to cover. Henry James truly created a fascinating story especially in his characters but also in his plot that will surprise you as it unfolds.
Even though there isn't a happy ending I would definitely recommend this book.

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Monday, June 4, 2018

It's Monday! Road Trip with a Baby

Over Memorial Day weekend we went up to Minnesota to introduce our little Hobbit to family. It was a great trip but quite the experience with a baby. You've never road tripped until you've road tripped with a baby. It takes ten times longer! Thankfully she does travel pretty well and mostly sleeps in between feedings. It did give me a little more time to read though as thankfully she does sleep well in the car. Thank goodness I'm having the time to read because the Classics Club deadline is approaching faster then I'd like!

Currently Reading

  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes
  • The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (audiobook)
  • God Is by Mark Jones

Recently Finished

  • Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (book club pick)
  • The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
  • Intensity by Dean Koontz
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (FINALLY!!!!)

Coming Soon

  • Love's Labour's Lost by William Shakespeare
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Friday, June 1, 2018

20 Books of Summer 2018

I participated in the 20 Books of Summer challenge back in 2015 and somehow have missed participating in it again up until now! It's hosted by 746 Books and is just a fun way to set a goal of reading 20 books for the summer.
So here's my list of 20 books I'd like to complete this summer. Most of these are from my Classics Club list that I need to finish up but there's also some other books mixed in there so I don't get bored. Not that classics are boring but I just need some variety.
  1. Love's Labour's Lost by William Shakespeare
  2. Richard III by William Shakespeare 
  3. Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson 
  4. Moby Dick by Herman Melville 
  5. The 39 Steps by John Buchan 
  6. The Mystery of Edwin Drood
  7. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky 
  8. The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  9. Cyarno de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
  10. East of Eden by John Steinbeck 
  11. Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes 
  12. Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
  13. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
  14. At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon
  15. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling
  16. Shadows of the Workhouse by Jennifer WOrth
  17. Farewell to the East End by Jennifer Worth
  18. The Bourne Ultimatum by Robert Ludlum 
  19. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  20. The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs  
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Friday, May 25, 2018

Book Review- The White Company

For the Classics Club I read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel The White Company.
Synopsis from Goodreads: "Now order the ranks, and fling wide the banners, for our souls are God's and our bodies the king's, and our swords for Saint George and for England!" With that rousing proclamation, twelve hundred knights ride into battle, accompanied by the stalwart archers known as the White Company. Fueled by their appetite for glory, this motley crew of freebooters stands united in their unswerving devotion to the company commander, Sir Nigel Loring. Short, bald, and extremely nearsighted, Sir Nigel's unprepossessing appearance belies his warrior's heart and his chivalrous nature. The rollicking adventures of his company during the Hundred Years War center around Sir Nigel's loyal squire, Alleyne Edricson. Raised in the sheltered confines of a monastery, young Alleyne comes of age amid the rough-and-tumble of armed conflict and the bewildering ways of courtly love.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is of course most famously known for creating the iconic Sherlock Holmes. However, he also wrote other novels including the historical novel The White Company.
The protagonist Alleyne, is a young man who grew up in a monastery but now has taken to the world. He joins up with the noble knight Sir Nigel and becomes his squire, while simultaneously falling in love with Sir Nigel's feisty daughter. Sir Nigel takes a group of men, entitled the White Company, out into battle and Alleyne joins them. What ensues is a series of adventures that keeps you entertained throughout.
If you enjoy good swashbuckler you'll find The White Company right up your alley. There's noble knights, fair maidens, sword fights, jousting and everything else in-between. It kind of makes me think of Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, Waverly The Scarlet Pimpernel and those sorts of books. There's almost an aspect of King Arthur in it too in how they go questing. Overall fun and would recommend!

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Book Review- The Grand Sophy

It's been my goal to read one of Georgette Heyer's books for a few years now and with reading The Grand Sophy I finally have completed that goal!
Synopsis from Goodreads: Resourceful, adventurous and utterly indefatigable, Sophy is hardly the mild-mannered girl that the Rivenhalls expect when they agree to take her in. Kind-hearted Aunt Lizzy is shocked; stern Cousin Charles and his humorless fiancée Eugenia are disapproving.With her inimitable mixture of exuberance and grace Sophy soon sets about endearing herself to her family, but finds herself increasingly drawn to her cousin. Can she really be falling in love with him, and he with her? And what of his betrothal to Eugenia?
I've often heard Georgette Heyer compared to Jane Austen... which I can understand.... though Georgette Heyer is like the not as talented cousin of Jane Austen. Many of the same aspects are there: interesting characters, wit, romance and an interesting plot. Jane Austen just does it better... I would also say there's a certain amount of depth to her books.... a knowledge of people that she infuses in to her books... that is lacking in Heyer's novels. However, Heyer's books... at least so far as I can tell from The Grand Sophy... are still quite enjoyable.... though I would say rather a guilty pleasure. However, it's probably not fair to compare the two authors. They are both good in their own right.
So... how did I feel about The Grand Sophy? I loved it! More then I though I would. In fact I felt guilty for how much I enjoyed it. It wasn't great literature but it was just fun! I loved Sophy herself and I see myself a bit in her. Sophy is unconventional, she's fun but she still somehow keep her head on straight (for the most part). Everyone can't help but love her even when they're frustrated with her! She was maddening at times and often she left me questioning her ideas but she always came out on top. The other characters were great as well. Cousin Charles really grows on you as the story progresses and you can totally see where THAT is going. Eugenia is dreadfully dull... she kind of makes me think of Mary Bennet. Augustus Fawnhope is a riot! He's a poet in the true Wodehouse sense. Lord Charlebury is such a good egg. I like him a lot. How dare he succumb to mumps while courting Cecelia though?
This was such a fun and outlandish book and I'd recommend it all around. I can't wait to read more Georgette Heyer!

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Book Review- The Way We Live Now

For the Classics Club I read Anthony Trollope's novel The Way We Live Now.
Synopsis from Goodreads: At first savagely reviewed, The Way We Live Now (1875) has since emerged as Trollope's masterpiece and the most admired of his works. When Trollope returned to England from the colonies in 1872 he was horrified by the immorality and dishonesty he found. In a fever of indignation he sat down to write The Way We Live Now, his longest novel. Nothing escaped the satirist's whip: politics, finance, the aristocracy, the literary world, gambling, sex, and much else. In this world of bribes and vendettas, swindling and suicide, in which heiresses are won like gambling stakes, Trollope's characters embody all the vices: Lady Carbury, a 43-year-old coquette, 'false from head to foot'; her son Felix, with the 'instincts of a horse, not approaching the higher sympathies of a dog'; and Melmotte, the colossal figure who dominates the book, a 'horrid, big, rich scoundrel ... a bloated swindler ... a vile city ruffian'.
I've enjoyed each of Trollope's novels I've read and The Way We Live Now was no exception. It was my most recent Classics Club spin pick. I was trying to finish it before our Hobbit was born and got half way through, which wasn't too bad considering it's length. However, thanks to the free ebook I still got it finished it up in time after she was born. It's much easier to read an ebook on my phone then to hold an actual book while also balancing a baby.
The characters really drive the story, as the synopsis suggests. The story begins by introducing Lady Carbury who is one of the central focuses of the book. She is not the most likable character, is hypocritical and conniving but I think by the end of the story she's one of the few characters who's improved... though not by a lot. Her son Felix is an absolute scoundrel in every way and he utterly disgusts you throughout the book. His mother indulges him to an annoying amount while often slighting her daughter Hetta, who is actually a virtuous woman. Their cousin Roger Carbury is a virtuous man who tries to help their family but also is in love with Hetta, who has refused his advances. I really want to like Roger and most of the time I do but I feel he bears grudges and has too deep of anger towards Paul Montague, the man Hetta actually likes. I understand he's upset since of course he's in love with Hetta himself and of course Paul breaks his promise but I feel like Roger should have accepted that Hetta did not want to marry him. Paul Montague, the man that Hetta loves and who loves her, does not please me either though. Before he met Hetta he was affianced to an American widow with a shadowed past. He ends up ending their engagement due to her questionable past before meeting Hetta. However, after becoming romantically interested in Hetta the widow, Mrs Hurtle comes to England to try to win him back. Paul is absolutely terrible about ending it with her. He visits her to tell her he will not go back to her but still ends up kissing her and this happens over and over again. He hates her and wants to end it with her but he keeps going back to her! Dude stop it! I just feel like Hetta deserved better then him. Most of the book I was rooting for her to end up marrying Roger honestly. Mrs. Hurtle herself is quite a woman with quite a past. She's not my favorite but she is interesting and I think she improves throughout the story.
Then of course there is the overshadowing character of Melmotte, a man known for his power and health with a shadowed past and a reputation for being a swindler. Everyone is enamored with him though and forget the probability of him being a con as they're caught up in his wealth and power. His daughter Marie is sought by every young lord as it is assumed she will get a hefty dowry on her marriage. Marie is weak willed and naive but becomes a stronger character as the story progresses. She is sought after by Felix Carbury for her wealth and she returns her advances, thinking he loves her and falling for him. Felix proves himself as despicable as ever though and it takes a long time for Marie to realize her error.
There's many other little side plots that flow through the story and much intrigue. I was so caught up in the story I just had to keep reading to find out what would happen to each character so even though it was long it went pretty fast. It makes me think a little of a Charles Dickens novel and a little of a Jane Austen novel so if you enjoy those two authors you'll probably like it.
I'm hoping to watch the 2007 miniseries in the near future. Have you seen it? Did you enjoy it?

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Monday, May 21, 2018

It's Monday! Reading with a Baby

This is my first post baby It's Monday post! I'm slowly but surely trying to get into a routine and I'm hoping blogging is going to find a small part in it. As I've mentioned in a previous post I'm still managing to get some reading in here and there. I did Bout of Books last week and by "did" I mean I tried to make double the effort to read but I didn't complete any of my goals (close though!) and I didn't participate in any of the online activity. It's the thought that counts though right?
I'm pretty much solely doing ebooks or audiobooks at this point as I can balance those and the demands of a newborn fairly well.
And speaking of a newborn... here's a couple photos cause I can't resist!

And in less adorable news, here's  what's going on in my reading world right now.

Currently Reading 

  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy- Almost done!!!! 
  • The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
  • The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison 
  • God Is by Mark Jones

Recently Finished (since the last "It's Monday" post)

  • The Mill on the Floss by George Elliot
  • The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
  • The Mortification of Sin by John Owen 
  • The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
  • Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare 
  • The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer (my first of her books and certainly not my last!)

Coming Soon (just a rough idea) 

  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville 
  • Love's Labour's Lost by William Shakespeare 
  • Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (book club pick) 
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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Book Review- Measure for Measure

For the Classics Club I read William Shakespeare's play Measure for Measure.
Synopsis from Goodreads: Measure for Measure is among the most passionately discussed of Shakespeare’s plays. In it, a duke temporarily removes himself from governing his city-state, deputizing a member of his administration, Angelo, to enforce the laws more rigorously. Angelo chooses as his first victim Claudio, condemning him to death because he impregnated Juliet before their marriage.Claudio’s sister Isabella, who is entering a convent, pleads for her brother’s life. Angelo attempts to extort sex from her, but Isabella preserves her chastity. The duke, in disguise, eavesdrops as she tells her brother about Angelo’s behavior, then offers to ally himself with her against Angelo.
Measure for Measure was one of Shakespeare's plays that I really was not familiar with before reading. That always makes for a more difficult reading experience for me with Shakespeare's plays. I always like to have a preliminary idea of what his plays are about before I read them as it's just easier to follow them then. I did read a synopsis beforehand because of that, which did help. This was definitely an interesting play and I'm glad I got the chance to be introduced to another of Shakespeare's plays. The play is basically about hypocrisy and morals.
Claudio is supposed to be moral and cleaning up the city but is really just an immoral hypocrite. The Duke is a moral person with a good heart who tries to help everyone.... though I'm not sure he necessarily goes about it the best way. Isabella is the only truly moral one in my opinion, sticking to her virtues despite an impossible situation. With how messed up of a situation this play portrays it surprisingly has a happily ever after ending.
 There's a lot to discuss in this play and I think it would be a very interesting book to read in a group setting and discuss. I'm definitely wanting to watch it now. Have you read it or seen the play live? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Bout of Books May 2018

Bout of BooksI'm crazy and I want to compete in Bout of Books with a newborn. Send me mental help ASAP!!!! Honestly though I'm not sure I could read any less than I normally do with Bout of Books. I have a proud history of scarcely reading during Bout of Books... normally I forget it's happening. However, I've actually been reading more probably since our little Hobbit was born as I really have little else to do while I'm breastfeeding her then read.
Anyways.... here's the link for this Bout of Books. Be sure to check it out if you're interested in participating. It's always fun... even if you're a terrible participant like me.
My goals for this Bout of Books are...
  1. Finish War and Peace.... I'm very close to being done! What better time to finish it up! 
  2. Read or finish one other book. I'm currently also reading The Invisible Man (audiobook), The Portrait of a Lady and God Is and then of course there is always the off chance I'll start something else before the Bout gets started! 
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