Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Titles

top 5 wed

Top 5 Favorite Titles
(just “titles” not books right?)

5. Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish by David Rakoff

Didn’t love the book, loved the title.

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

4. The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson

Pretty powerful title.

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

3. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Another powerful title! Loved the book too.

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

2. Moab is my Washpot by Stephen Fry

Loved the title. Loved the book. LOVE the author.

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

1. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Didn’t really love the book as I had hoped but that is one of the catchiest titles ever. Perfect.


Please feel free to leave a link to your Top 5 Wednesday post, I would love to see what you have for the week! If you have read any of these titles, share your thoughts below. :)

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Happy Reading!

Top 5 Wednesday: Books that you weren’t expecting to like but did

top 5 wed

Top 5 books that you weren’t expecting to like but did

5. Divergent by Veronica Roth

Dystopians aren’t really my thing but I liked this one, despite still having avoided The Hunger Games at that time. The series loses its touch pretty quickly though. :(

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

4. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

I thought it would be boring but though it kind of was, it was really epic in some ways.

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

3. The English Patient by Michael Ondaajte

I had to pick this up for Uni after having to struggle through Atonement and really was not in the mood for another war novel. Surprisingly, this wasn’t half bad. Not very realistic, but love the narrative and writing.

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

2. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

It’s not something I thought I would ever like. Way to depressing for me but I kind of loved it.

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

1. The Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

From all the negative reviews on these books and comments about it being slow and boring, I had my doubts. I ended up loving The Hobbit but even when starting LOTR, I had to pick up and set back down The Fellowship of the Ring several times before I began to enjoy the books.


Please feel free to leave a link to your Top 5 Wednesday post, I would love to see what you have for the week! If you have read any of these titles, share your thoughts below. :)

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Happy Reading!

Review | The Monk: A Romance by Matthew Lewis

The Monk by Matthew Lewis

ABOUT THE BOOK

Published: 1795
Genre: Gothic Horror
Edition: Paperback
Length: 425 pgs.

GoodReads | Amazon | BookDepository

THE BLURB

Set in the sinister monastery of the Capuchins in Madrid, The Monk is a violent tale of ambition, murder, and incest. The struggle between maintaining monastic vows and fulfilling personal ambitions leads its main character, the monk Ambrosio, to temptation and the breaking of his vows, then to sexual obsession and rape, and finally to murder in order to conceal his guilt.

Inspired by German horror romanticism and he work of Ann Radcliffe, Lewis produced his masterpiece at the age of 19. It contains many typical Gothic elements – seduction in a monastery, lustful monks, evil abbesses, bandits an beautiful heroines. But Lewis also played with convention, ranging from gruesome realism to social comedy, and even parodied the genre in which he was writing.

☁  ☁  ☁  ☁  ☁

ramblings

Seizing the opportunity to read this macabre book for the “Spooky Reads Challenge”, I was extremely happy to get to The Monk. Although I did have some issues with it, generally, I was quite impressed by this piece of work. I don’t really read horror books so The Monk is as close to horror as I can read. Also, this review will be a short one, I mainly just want to address two main issues I had with this book.

Going into this book, there were two concerns preying on my mind from other’s opinions and comments: 1) the book is incredibly slow and 2) it has so many characters I might lose track of who is who (I got this impression from all the characters that were mentioned in different reviews). My second concern was dismissed quickly—I had no problem keeping up with the characters at all. Sure, there are a quite a few but not as many and they are, to some extent and only until the very end, two distinct story lines so that helped to keep some characters apart until the ending ties everything and everyone together.

My first concern, though, was real. The Monk definitely stars off quite slow and tends to really drag in some places (for me, it dragged quite a bit in Raymond’s flashback narrative). I would agree with the belief that the main story doesn’t really even start until you get halfway into a book. Which, considering this is a classic and 400+ pgs. long, takes some time. And there is also, to some extent, a superfluous use of language and description. Sometimes, one or two lines would do to explain what is happening or what the character is going through but the narrator takes quite a long time to move past from that and onto what happens next. I have to admit, however, that once you do make it to the halfway point, the story speeds up and becomes far more engrossing.

Aside from that, they only other problem for me was the portrayal of women in this novel. Well, “portrayal” is perhaps the wrong word to use but I was really unsettled by everything that happens to each of the female characters in this novel. I cannot go deeply into this without spoiling everything so I’m simply going to ask you to examine the female characters in this novel when you read it or perhaps if you have, look at everything that happens to each of them and you’ll understand what I mean. They’re just miserable. No sense of justice is given to these women. And when they try to attain it for themselves, worse things happen (like the bleeding nun who hinders Agnes’s plans of escape).

Futhermore, a lot of the injustice delivered to the women is done by the hands of other women. Antonia, for example, is refused marriage with Lorenzo by her mother, Elvira, and is even encouraged to forget him completely because of her own petty fears. Agnes, as you find in the beginning, ends up where she does because of the jealous nature of her aunt. Even a character like Virginia, who barely appears in the story, was plotting to remove affection from Lorenzo’s mind—right after he loses another woman. It’s really quite upsetting. Nothing much happens to the men except for Ambrosio, even then, as fantastic as the ending was, it wasn’t enough in my opinion.

Despite all my objections, I am really happy to have read this book. I was also very impressed with the fact that Lewis (the author) published this when he just 19. Not that 19 years old cannot write, but they probably don’t have much time or concentration to able to see through with a novel and have it published by 19. And though I was irked by the flowery passages, I was amazed at the writing.

If you still have some reading time left over in October, give this creepy book a try!

This review is also available on BookLikes. If you would like a review with spoilers but with some more details, please click here.

3star

Top 5 Wednesday: Female Characters

top 5 wed

Top 5 Female Characters

5. Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pretty self-explanatory, I suppose?

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

4. Margaret Hale from North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

I think she’s slightly stronger than Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice so she takes the 4th prize.

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

3. Amelia Peabody from the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters

For a woman who is living in the Victorian era, Amelia is as spunky as they come.

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

2. Aria Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

For a little girl, Aria Stark, can kick some ass. Even in a land of men who slaughter each other without care, for a little girl to survive so long is a major accomplishment wouldn’t you say?

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

1. Agnes from Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Fictional or non-fictional, I really felt for Agnes. She was stronger than I would have ever been in the type of situations she was put in.

>>>>>> <<<<<<

(A few) honorary mentions: Hermione from Harry Potter (I feel like I pick Harry Potter for everything so this time, she gets the back seat), Yelena from the Study series (if you don’t count Fire Study), and Annabel from Percy Jackson and the Olympians.


Please feel free to leave a link to your Top 5 Wednesday post, I would love to see what you have for the week! If you have read any of these titles, share your thoughts below. :)

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Happy Reading!

September Reads. October TBR.

wrapup

21 BOOKS. Honestly, I was thinking I would barely get through 10. It was my birthday month after all. :)

Here’s what I read:

  1. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco – ★★★★
  2. The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett – ★★★
  3. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – ★★★★★
  4. Amulet Vol. 3 The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi – ★★★★
  5. Amulet Vol. 4 The Last Council by Kazu Kibuishi – ★★★★
  6. Amulet Vol. 5 Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi – ★★★★
  7. The Sweet Tooth Vol. 1 by Jeff Lemire – ★★★
  8. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters – ★★★★
  9. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – ★★★★
  10. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie – ★★★
  11. The Belgariad: #1 The Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings – ★★★★
  12. Half Bad by Sally Green – ★★★
  13. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – ★★
  14. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery – ★★★★★
  15. The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman – ★★★★
  16. Atonement by Ian McEwan – ★
  17. Amelia Peabody: #1 Crocodile on the Sandback by Elizabeth Peters – ★★★★
  18. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje – ★★★★
  19. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway – ★★★★★
  20. Locke and Key, Vol. 1 by Joe Hill – ★★★★
  21. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie – ★★★

I have to read for 3 other classes starting in September so I didn’t get to read a lot for pleasure (at least not those I intended too). :( I did get a lot of books though! But I have yet to post my August haul so…I’m behind on the hauls.

I also posted 2 discussions of “Book Talk”: Importance of Book Covers and Reading, Reviewing, and Rating as well as posted my nominations for One Lovely Blog Award after being nominated myself by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. So even if I only posted 3 reviews, I did manage to keep this blog alive and breathing…for now. :P


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BookTube Reading Buddies is having a “Spooky Reads Challenge” so head over there to participate by choosing to read 3 of the books that were nominated by members (the first three books listed below are for that).

    1. The Monk by Matthew Lewis
    2. The Call of Cthulhu by H. P. Lovecraft
    3. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories by Robert Louis Stevenson
    4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
    5. Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers
    6. Double Indemnity by James M. Cain
    7. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
    8. Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
    9. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

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What are you reading in October? Have you read any of the books I mentioned above? Share your thoughts below!

Top 5 Wednesday: Terrible Covers

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I only buy pretty books. Well, most of the time. But we all have some of these on our shelves, don’t we? Brace yourself for some ugliness.

Top 5 Terrible Covers

5. Clouds by Aristophanes

Clouds. That’s it.

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

4. Reverence by Shelly Crane

Why bother at all right? Just stick a banner and some text on the picture. In reality, the text and the picture is stretched beyond it’s capacity so it’s a pretty pixelated book cover.

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

3. The Vampire Stalker by Allison van Diepen

The title’s pretty bad too. Though the book and the story is really good actually.

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

2. Gora by Rabinranath Tagore

The edition didn’t even show up on GoodReads until I added it. The copy was sent from my uncle so I keep it and will likely read it but the cover…urgh.

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

1. The Satanic Verse by Salman Rushdie

Not the copy I ordered but what I got instead. “THE PAPERBACK” is the subtitle.


Please feel free to leave a link to your Top 5 Wednesday post, I would love to see what you have for the week! If you have read any of these titles, share your thoughts below. :)

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Happy Reading!

Review | The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

ABOUT THE BOOK

Published: 1911
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Edition: Paperback
Length: 378 pgs.

GoodReads | Amazon | BookDepository

THE BLURB

“People never like me and I never like people,” Mary thought.

When Mary Lennox is sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle everybody says she is the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen. It is true, too. Mary is pale, spoiled, and quite contrary. But she is also horribly lonely. Then one day she hears about a garden in the grounds of the manor that has been kept locked and hidden for years. And when a friendly robin helps Mary find the key, she discovers the most magical place anyone could imagine.

☁  ☁  ☁  ☁  ☁

ramblings

I had to pick up and read this book as a part of a Copycat challenge in a Goodreads group, in which you signup to be paired with a partner at random and are given a group member who you have to add and then read a book from “read” shelf. I was going to read this book regardless of having to read it but I’m really glad to pick it up sooner rather than later.

The Secret Garden, film, had been really enjoyable to me as a preteen. The book, however, as an adult, I did not like very much. Most of my issue, actually one of my major issues, lies with one particular passage of the book in the beginning. But before I talk about the characters, I did actually want to mention that I did not care so much for the writing in this book. I don’t know if that was just my experience at trying to read this book in the middle of the night or if it really is the book but some sentences sounded somewhat awkward in their phrasing and this made the reading a bit more complicated for me. Not by much, but slightly. I usually don’t note or look for writing as an important aspect of my reviews unless I see something that is either really good or really bad and The Secret Garden is written in average form at best.

The protagonist of the novel, Mary, is a bratty, spoiled child in the beginning of the story and she has some very wrong, preconceived notions about the way the world works. Her parents pass away after India is struck with cholera and Mary has to move across the continent to go live with her only family and uncle. When she meets these new group of people and is introduced to this new environment, I expected her to be a bit resentful and possibly hurt but she is more than just that.

Mary, to my shock and immense displeasure, is a bit of a racist. She, at one point in the beginning, is insulted by Martha (her maidservant) assuming she would be black because she grew up in India. She tells Martha:

“You thought I was a native! You dared! You don’t know anything about natives! They are not people—they’re servants who must salaam to you. You know nothing about India. You know nothing about anything!”

Because Mary was raised by Indian nannies, I can understand she’s a little mad at having to adjust to someone new but this attitude of hers was not only irritating but downright insulting and offensive to me—someone who comes from an Indian heritage. I don’t understand what is wrong with people today who seemed to have overlooked this little part but this scene is reminiscent of a time when white Americans treated black Americans as a group of people inferior to their superior race. And more precisely, a point when whether or not black children should be educated was brought into question. As someone who has lived in India for so long (at least to the point where the story beings), I would’ve thought Mary would be more sympathetic towards a group of people that have been forced into submission and are being told what to do. But she’s just a bigot. I used to think no one’s really born a racist but I’m starting to reconsider my opinion about this. Because honestly, Mary was raised by her Indian Ayah while her parents barely paid attention to her so I don’t see any other source of her bigotry but her own judgmentally rotted brain?

Mary, upon arrival to her new home, observes:

“The native servants she had been used to in India were not in the least like this. They were obsequious and servile and did not presume to talk to their masters as if they were their equals.”

Yes, that is how Indians were. Because British had doninated them, enslaved them. Mary’s ignorance is absolutely frustrating and even more bewildering is the fact that so many people consider this a favorite classic.

Now…you might say that Mary does improve by the end of the story so I shouldn’t really judge her so harshly. But the truth is that even though Mary’s nature throughout the story improves towards people in general, there is no indication whatsoever of change in her opinion about Indians. No clear passage, quote, or emotion is expressed that lets me know that Mary has seen the error of her ways by seeing Indians as those who were below her. She might not be a brat with a vexatious attitude anymore but I have little evidence of whether or not she has stopped being racist by the end of the book. And regardless of what race I, myself, come from this is not acceptable to me. Perhaps I may revisit this book in the future and I may be able to accept that Mary might have changed but to be perfectly honest, this one passage has tainted my view of this book for most of eternity.

What’s incredibly sad about this though is that I actually really liked other little parts of this book. I didn’t care for Collin very much of course but I liked Dickon’s character quite a bit. He was a lovely, free-spirited boy and I really wish there had been more scenes with him. I also liked the story, the aspect of a secret garden. A special place for the children, like some would have imaginary friends, and how much it delights Collin, Mary, and Dickon. Even more endearing is how Mary actually helps Collin come out of his grumpy, arrogant attitude and helps him be a happier person. And towards the end, I even felt sympathetic towards Mary’s uncle, Mr. Craven.

All of these things, even with the somewhat disappointing writing style, could’ve made me really like this book but alas, that passage displaying Mary’s prejudices doesn’t paint a happy picture in my mind. (And yes, I am aware that most of Anglo-Saxon literature has characters such as Mary’s but none of them have infuriated nearly as much as Mary did).

This review is also available on BookLikes.

3star