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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Monday, May 7, 2018

Our Hobbit

Brian and I are so excited to announce that our little Hobbit has been born! It took days of labors, a lot of tears and even more prayers but she's here! It's been crazy adapting and I'm sure it will just get crazier. Thankfully Brian is there to keep me (mostly) sane. I've had little time to do anything besides feed her and change her diapers so it's taken me awhile to sit down with my computer and get this announcement out. Hopefully I can keep up more with blogging in the future but for now I think it's going to be kind of sparse. There are some book reviews I'll need to put out but it may be awhile. I've been keeping up with my reading almost better than before though since while I'm breastfeeding her there's not much else to do besides read. Hopefully that keeps up as I still need to get my Classics Club list finished up before next January.
And of course here's a few photos!
Brian reading to her as you can never start to early.

I still managed to make it to a book sale because not even having a baby is an excuse to miss a book sale!

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Book Review- The Mill on the Floss

For the Classics Club I read George Elliot's novel The Mill on the Floss.
Synopsis from Goodreads: Brought up at Dorlcote Mill, Maggie Tulliver worships her brother Tom and is desperate to win the approval of her parents, but her passionate, wayward nature and her fierce intelligence bring her into constant conflict with her family. As she reaches adulthood, the clash between their expectations and her desires is painfully played out as she finds herself torn between her relationships with three very different men: her proud and stubborn brother, a close friend who is also the son of her family's worst enemy, and a charismatic but dangerous suitor. With its poignant portrayal of sibling relationships, The Mill on the Floss is considered George Eliot's most autobiographical novel; it is also one of her most powerful and moving.
I think I'm getting a better appreciation for George Elliot with each book of her's I read. I don't love her and I doubt I ever will, but I do find her books thought-provoking and beautifully written. I actually listened to Mill on the Floss via audiobook which I really enjoyed and of course made for a slightly different reading experience.
Maggie, the main character of the story, is absolutely intriguing and her arc drives the story. Her different roles as a daughter, sister, friend and lover push and pull her in all directions as she tires to navigate life and it's trials. She's a relatable character, making poor decisions as she strives to make the right ones. She yearns for love and acceptance. Her goal is to please everybody.  I didn't totally like Maggie and oftentimes I was like "what did you just do!" However I couldn't help but pity her.
The other characters in the story were intriguing as well. Her mother and all of her mother's family were the typical hypocritical English snobberies and fops (not quite gentry but proud enough to be) that irked and amused you to no end. Her father was an intriguing blend of passionate outburst and endearing love. In the end he ends up a rather bitter and pathetic man. But again you kind of pity him. One of the most interesting relationships in the story is between Maggie and her brother Tom. You watch Tom develop through the story. He goes through many of the same trials Maggie does but his personality dictates very different reactions, which cause him to grow up a harder person who sees the world as very black and white.
Then there's the contrast between Maggie's two suitors. Phillip Wakem is the deformed son of Maggie's father's rival. Maggie loves him first as a child for his kindness to her brother Tom and then later forms a forbidden attachment to him partially out of pity and partially out of true love. Phillip loves her deeply and is also a good friend to her advising her and supporting her through her life. He's not very good at being self-encouraging though and let's his deformity depress and control him. He thinks very little of himself. He does work to better himself in his studies and is quite artistically talented. Overall I like Phillip but he basically begs Maggie to love and marry him, guilting her into the attachment in some ways. Maggie really does like him but as their fathers are rivals she sees the attachment as impossible but Phillip is unwilling to accept that answer.
Maggie's other suitor is Stephen Guest, who you are introduced to as the suitor of Maggie's cousin and good friend Lucy. Stephen and Lucy are basically engaged when Maggie comes on the scene. Almost as soon as Stephen is introduced to Maggie though he is enraptured by her and looks to be noticed by her often, something that Lucy is oblivious to but Maggie picks up. Maggie doesn't know what to think at first but as time goes on becomes seduced by Stephen's wit, charm and physical attractiveness. She denies these feelings though as she considers herself promised to Phillip and Stephen is basically engaged to Lucy. Stephen continues to push the limits of their friendship though until he gets her to admit that she has feelings for him. I don't want to give away how that concludes but let me just say that I find Stephen to be deplorable. He's manipulative and pathetic, thinking only of himself over and over again. While I do not find Maggie's character to be spotless in what happens she does really strive to do the right thing and tells Stephen no over and over again but Stephen keeps pushing her and trying to seduce her. I really loathe him. Enough of him though! Understand I hate him!
One more character I'll mention before I close this review is Bob Jakin, a childhood friend of Tom's who returns when he is older and helps the family over and over again out of the sweetness of his heart. He's kind of an adorable character and you can't help but love him. He's compassionate and generous but also brings a sense of comic relief to the book. He's easily the best character in the book.
There's so many other interesting characters and so much else you could say about this book but I couldn't possibly cover it all. I didn't love this book but I enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm sure I'll revisit it again sometime in the future and glean even more from it.

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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Book Review- The Pickwick Papers

For the Classics Club I read Charles Dickens' first novel The Pickwick Papers.
Synopsis from Goodreads: Few first novels have created as much popular excitement as The Pickwick Papers–-a comic masterpiece that catapulted its 24-year-old author to immediate fame. Readers were captivated by the adventures of the poet Snodgrass, the lover Tupman, the sportsman Winkle &, above all, by that quintessentially English Quixote, Mr Pickwick, & his cockney Sancho Panza, Sam Weller. From the hallowed turf of Dingley Dell Cricket Club to the unholy fracas of the Eatanswill election, via the Fleet debtor’s prison, characters & incidents sprang to life from Dickens’s pen, to form an enduringly popular work of ebullient humour & literary invention.
A couple years ago there was a challenge I tried to participate in that consisted of reading The Pickwick Papers as they were originally published in serial form. I did not get very far before I gave up... something I very rarely have ever done. Maybe it was the pace of reading it or it just wasn't time. However, recently I decided to pick it up again and thankfully I was not only able to finish it but I enjoyed it. It's a quirky book and definitely not for everyone. It starts out slow and it needs warming up to. Like most of Dickens' novels, the characters drive the story and they are each an oddity. It took me a while to warm up to them because they're so ridiculous but you come to love them all. The style of the story is different as well as it kind of meanders with the characters moving about and having "adventures" as the travel about. It's just a laid back story.
What I enjoyed most about The Pickwick Papers though was the humor hidden in the writing... that delightful British humor. Some of it quite reminded me of P.G. Wodehouse, who's of course one of my favorite comedic authors. I had to read some of the quotes aloud to my husband as they were just so funny! I've read a lot of Dickens' novels (almost all of them now!) and I feel like it might be the funniest of them all but since it's such a rambling read it takes more commitment then probably most are willing to put in to a book. It's just not a normal Dickens novel. Granted it was his first though and you can tell that in how it was written. The writing, while more humorous in my opinion, wasn't as good. He finessed his work with time.
All that to say, I enjoyed it a lot, it's slow to get in to, but it's worth it, but definitely not for everybody.
Here's a few of my favorite quotes from it, though I know there were many other good ones hidden in the pages that I've missed.
“The gout is a complaint as arises from too much ease and comfort. If ever you're attacked with the gout, sir, jist you marry a widder as has got a good loud woice, with a decent notion of usin' it, and you'll never have the gout agin.... I can warrant it to drive away any illness as is caused by too much jollity.”

“She dotes on poetry, sir. She adores it; I may say that her whole soul and mind are wound up, and entwined with it. She has produced some delightful pieces, herself, sir. You may have met with her 'Ode to an Expiring Frog,' sir.”

“Can I view thee panting, lying
On thy stomach, without sighing;
Can I unmoved see thee dying
On a log
Expiring frog!”

“Hush. Don't ask any questions. It's always best on these occasions to do what the mob do."
"But suppose there are two mobs?" suggested Mr. Snodgrass.
"Shout with the largest," replied Mr. Pickwick.
Volumes could not have said more.”

“There are very few moments in a man's existence when he experiences so much ludicrous distress, or meets with so little charitable commiseration, as when he is in pursuit of his own hat.”

“Mr. Pickwick gazed through his spectacles for an instant on the advancing mass, and then fairly turned his back and -- we will not say fled; firstly because it is an ignoble term, and, secondly, because Mr. Pickwick's figure was by no means adapted for that mode of retreat...”

“Mr Pickwick awoke the next morning, there was not a symptom of rheumatism about him; which proves, as Mr Bob Sawyer very justly observed, that there is nothing like hot punch in such cases; and that if ever hot punch did fail to act as a preventive, it was merely because the patient fell in to the vulgar error of not taking enough of it.”

“Company, you see - company is - is - it's a very different thing from solitude - an't it?”
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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Life, Cleaning, Cooking and Reading (or the lack thereof)

It's been almost a month since I posted on the blog and I figure I'd better get at least one more blog post in before I pop this baby out so here's a little update on my life.
Most of my time right now is occupied in setting up the nursery and cleaning the house in preparation for our little Hobbit's arrival. The nursery is basically done.... just one more thing to hang up. I can't wait to share pictures! It's so perfectly Tolkien themed... I love it! I have freezer meals stashed away ready to go for those days when I have no time for anything but keeping the baby alive (I hear there will be a plethora of those). Everything is really pretty much ready to go yet I still feel so unprepared. The reality that it could be any day or a couple more weeks is nerve-wracking! So much about pregnancy and childbirth seems so up in the air it's hard to plan. We do the best we can though I suppose.
My reading life is suffering greatly as well. I'm trying to finish up The Pickwick Papers as I need to get going on The Way We Live Now for the Classics Club spin. I'm supposed to have it finished by the end of April for the challenge and I know I'll be quite busy in April so I'd like to at least get started on it. I'm still plugging away slowly but surely at War and Peace and I'm actually enjoying it more than I would have thought. I'm listening to the audiobook of The Mill on the Floss, which is quite long, but since I listen to it when doing dishes, cooking and cleaning I'm actually going through it fairly fast. Then of course I'm still inching my way through Mortification of Sin and God Is. Those non-fiction books always take longer. I am enjoying everything I'm reading but all of it is pretty heavy reading (The Pickwick Papers is a little lighter than the rest) so it's slower. I might need to give myself a break with something lighter here in not too long. Of course with having a baby soon I'm wondering how that is going to affect my reading life. One of my friends who just had a baby recently said that she's able to read while she nurses/pumps so I'm hopeful I'll still have some time. I know my priority will be my baby though and I'm grateful for that. The books will always be there but she won't be a baby for forever. I need to treasure every moment and I can't wait to!
So what's going on in y'all's lives?

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Friday, March 2, 2018

Classics Club Spin- March 2018

Time for another Classics Club spin! The last one got me to read Adam Bede by George Elliot, which I'm sure I would have drug out getting around to reading for the longest time if it hadn't been selected so I'm hoping this spin does the same. Check out THIS POST over at the Classics Club bog to see the rules and of course if you aren't a member of the Classics Club yet what are you even doing?!?!?!?! I have to read the book spun by April 30th which is well after my due date so I'm hoping to get it done before our little Hobbit is born.
So here's my list of books for the spin!
  1. Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane by P.L. Travers
  2. The 39 Steps by John Buchan 
  3. The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope 
  4. Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson 
  5. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
  6. Shirley by Charlotte Bronte
  7. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevesky 
  8. The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  9. Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
  10. Cyarno de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
  11. Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev
  12. Beau Geste by P.C. Wren
  13. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  14. Kim by Rudyard Kipling 
  15. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson 
  16. The Red and the Black by Stendhal 
  17. The Epic of Gilgamesh 
  18. Richard III by William Shakespeare 
  19. Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes 
  20. Arsenic and Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring
Can't wait to see what number gets spun on March 9th! 

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