Classic Book Review: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

It is with profound relief that I write this review. I thought I would never finish. Yet here I am, mid December, having finally finished the book I set out to read in March! I’m going to copy and paste what Goodreads had to say about The Woman in White:

The Woman in White famously opens with Walter Hartright’s eerie encounter on a moonlit London road. Engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, Walter is drawn into the sinister intrigues of Sir Percival Glyde and his ‘charming’ friend Count Fosco, who has a taste for white mice, vanilla bonbons and poison. Pursuing questions of identity and insanity along the paths and corridors of English country houses and the madhouse, The Woman in White is the first and most influential of the Victorian genre that combined Gothic horror with psychological realism.

With that out-of-the-way, I have to say that I’m divided about this book and I’m going to try to make sense in this review, but my overwhelming relief in finishing may be clouding my brain a bit.

The story was fantastic. I love how it was written like a confession to the police, pasting together a story that you almost can’t believe, with unreliable narrators. So much fun. I will admit that it didn’t shock me. I’ve been reading historical romances for 20 years now, so the sneaky marrying for money and then trying to get rid of said spouse plot has been used multiple times. But this was done in a more gripping way. I was sucked in after the first 150 pages. Fantastic. I loved the creepiness of it.

Unfortunately, there were several irritations along the way. I am not a fan of the Victorian lady, or should I say grown up child. I know that this was what was expected of women in this time period, but I did not understand the love that Mr. Hartwright had for Miss Farlie. Miss Farlie was an adult child and Mr. Hartwright and Miss Halcombe spent much of the time shielding her from all knowledge of anything like parents. How Mr. Hartwright didn’t fall in love with Miss Halcombe I’ll never know.

The second little irritation was in the second half of the book. Miss Hartwright has kicked butt and nearly out maneuvered a nasty guy and yet she keeps saying over and over again how she is “only and woman.” I just can’t. If it had been once or twice I could have skipped over it, but it was enough that my eye started twitching every time it was written. She had already proven herself equal and I wanted to reach into the book and slap her!

Overall, I enjoyed this tremendously. The good outweighed the little irritations I had with the book and I’m trying to decide between 3 and 4 stars on Goodreads. I keep changing it.

This was the final book I needed to read for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2016! Go me!

Advertisements

Classic Book Review: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

When I was first looking at the challenges for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2016, the re-read a classic you read for school was the most difficult challenge to find a book for. Honestly, I hated all but two books that I read in high school. I’m lucky school reading didn’t put me off books. The two that I did love, Farenheit 451 and To Kill a Mockingbird, I didn’t want to risk ruining my love for them with a re-read. Let me keep my pleasant memories. In college, we didn’t read novels. I went to a two-year school and received a nursing degree. I took English 101 and 102. Not a lot of options. So I had to look deep into the depths of my mind and find something. That something was Great Expectations.

I suppose I read it. It was an assigned book. The only things I remembered was a weird lady named Miss Havisham and her white dress and rotting wedding cake. That’s about it. I’ve never even watched an adaptation of it. Sad.

I hate summarizing books, now I know where my daughter gets it from. Great Expectations is the story of a boy named Pip. He’s “brought up by hand” by his much older sister who is married to the blacksmith. Events happen and he ends up coming into “great expectations” and the book shows what happens to those expectations.

I had many thoughts during my reading. 1. Pip is absolutely adorable as a child. Love him. I don’t love his complete adoration for Estella throughout his life. She’s a complete jerk. I understand she was brought up that was by Miss Havisham, but I don’t know how anyone could like her. 2. Joe is the best person in the book. I want a friend like Joe. More people need to be like Joe. Joe is the best. 3. Pip’s great expectations turn him into a nothing. He could have had a better life without them. I was almost relieved when he had regrets.

Overall, I loved this book. I loved the writing and the story. I came out very glad I decided to re-read this because it was worth remembering. I hope to read another Dickens next year. Any suggestions as to what would be best?

September Reading Wrap-Up

September started well and ended poor. I am currently reading 4 books, none of which is keeping my attention. Hence, I didn’t read the volume of books that I usually do.

I participated in #RYBSAT and #DiverseAThon. During those I read a total of 8 books. They will be the first on the list.

  1. The Time-Traveling Fashionista on Board the Titanic by Bianca Turetsky 2/5
  2. Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter 5/5
  3. United We Spy by Ally Carter 5/5 (it’s over and I’m sad)
  4. Tempestuous: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare’s The Tempest 4/5
  5. srsly Hamlet by Courtney Carbone 4/5
  6. YOLO Juliet by Brett Wright 3/5
  7. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows 4.5/5
  8. What Milo Saw by Virginia MacGregor 4.5/5
  9. Dubliners by James Joyce 3/5
  10. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch 4/5
  11. The Reader by Traci Chee 4/5
  12. Follow Me by Tiffany Snow 3/5

I’m currently over half way through On Beauty by Zadie Smith. It’s going at a snail’s pace. I started Frankenstein a few days ago, and it, too, is not that exciting. Add to that Great Expectations and a few chunky books that I need to read by the end of the year and I’m feeling a bit bogged down. Hopefully I’ll find some lighter reads that will keep me feeling productive next month. Until next time, everyone!

Mini Book Reviews: Romance

It’s time for a few NetGalley reviews. This time around I read a couple of romances.

Once A Soldier by Mary Jo Putney

Mary Jo Putney is a historical romance veteran. I haven’t read one of her books a in a while and was pleased to read this one.

Once A Soldier is the love story of Will Masterson and Athena Markham. Will has been a soldier in the Napoleonic wars and has been asked to go to the small country of San Gabriel to scope it out for political reasons. There he meets Athena, the illegitimate daughter of an English Lord and an infamous San Gabriel woman. She is currently helping her best friend, the princess, run this small country until the King is released by the French – if he’s still alive.

This book is one of those slow-moving romances. There is a ton of political talk and it adds to the book, because it was well thought out and it shows these characters personalities well. I appreciated that Will and Athena started out by being friends and having a healthy respect for one another. I hate in when people jump into bed together immediately, especially in historical novels. Some may find this book a bit slow, but it was relaxing to me.

It is the start of a series. The beginning chapter is showing a group of men who are all captured, all spies and solders, and all lying, and how they escape. I assume the next books will be some of their stories.

Follow Me by Tiffany Snow

This book follows China Mack. She is a genius computer programmer working for the best tech company. She’s living a very ordered life with a bit of the hots for her boss (everyone has the hots for the boss), and she likes it that way. Then Jackson, the boss, chooses China for a top-secret programming job for the government. Then people involved in this contract start getting killed. It’s difficult for China on multiple levels because her orderly life starts going awry – her niece moves in, a sexy (suspicious to me) neighbor moves in and she suddenly has a dating life, plus she’s being followed by unknown persons.

This was a fun romantic suspense book. I’m a sucker for this genre and for nerdy smart, but socially clueless, women in books. China is one of those. I wasn’t a fan of the sudden love triangle in the book. She’s never had a date and then suddenly her next door neighbor AND her boss are  after her? Come on. I also didn’t understand what was going on with all the computer stuff. It was a bit glossed over and I do like a bit more juicy computer geekery in this sort of book.

There is a sort-of cliffhanger. Things get wrapped up, but new things happen. (Sorry so cryptic!)  If you liked it, you will want to continue with this series. I liked it, so now I’m impatiently waiting. Maybe we’ll see more of Jackson’s nerdiness in the next books?

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for providing these eARCs in exchange for review.

 

Classic Book Review: Dubliners by James Joyce

When I took on the Back to the Classics Challenge 2016, I was very worried about the Classic Short Story Challenge. I’m not a fan of short stories in general, and, as a new person to classics, didn’t have much knowledge of classic short stories. Dubliners was the only volume that I knew of and that was on my TBR. My grandmother gave me horror stories about James Joyce’s writing. My mother just groaned in pain. People on Goodreads have horror stories about reading James Joyce. I was afraid. Very, very afraid.

It started a bit rough. I immediately didn’t know if I understood the first story. It ended so abruptly. Was I correct in thinking that the priest was a bit shady? The second story didn’t fare much better. I was feeling stupid so I put it aside for about a month.

I have the Penguin English Library softcover edition. One day I picked it up off my nightstand and read the synopsis on the back. There it tell me that each story marks “a moment of epiphany for the characters”. Ah. From that moment on almost all of the stories at least made sense to me.

I actually enjoyed “The Boarding House”. It reminded me of the historical romances that I still love. What a scheming minx! “A Painful Case” made me think of regrets in life. There were a few where men just kept going on about politics or religion and they were a complete bore. “Counterparts” was like looking into the mind of a boorish drunk. That was not fun.

Overall, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this! It wasn’t nearly as awful as everyone predicted it to be. Wait for it… This may be my favorite book of short stories. Shocking.

August Reading Wrap-Up

This month was all about fun reading. I refuse to beat myself up for not reading the two classics I have started. I ended up reading a lot of the freebies that I downloaded years ago, getting some library books, and catching up on some series.

  1. Innocent in Las Vegas by A. R. Winters 3/5
  2. The Seven Steps to Closure by Donna Joy Usher 3/5
  3. Anything for You by Kristan Higgins 3/5
  4. At Last by Jill Shalvis 3/5
  5. Big Boned by Meg Cabot 4/5
  6. The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood 2/5
  7. Once a Soldier (eARC) by Mary Jo Putney 3/5
  8. The Pursuit by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg 4/5
  9. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosch 4/5
  10. The Bride Says No by Cathy Maxwell 3/5
  11. Calamity Jayne and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Lawn Gnome by Kathleen Bacus 3/5

Considering how easy the above were to read, this was not a good month for reading. My guess is that all the readathons that I participated in during July burnt me out. I don’t consider this month a failure by any means! Next month I really need to finish Dubliners and Great Expectations. I’m also participating in #RYBSAT, so I’m starting September with a bang!

July Reading Wrap-Up

This summer is making me crazy. I’m in a funky reading mood. My classics reading challenge has me slumpy and cranky. Work is busy. I need a vacation. But I did manage to read these books this month and I attempted participation in Booktube-a-thon. And I started a Booktube channel!

  • Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan 3/5
  • Adventures in Funeral Crashing by Milda Harris 2/5
  • An Event to Remember…Or Forget by Melissa Baldwin2/5
  • Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman 3/5
  • Results May Vary (eARC) by Bethany Chase 4/5
  • Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch 4/5
  • Stolen Fury by Elizabeth Naughton 3.5/5
  • Lumberjanes, Vol 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson 4/5
  • Walk On Earth A Stranger by Rae Carson 3/5
  • Longbow Girl by Linda Davies 5/5
  • Only The Good Spy Young by Ally Carter 5/5
  • Size 14 Is Not Fat Either by Meg Cabot 4/5
  • Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch 3.5/5
  • Dance Diaries: Learning to Ballroom Dance by The Girl With The Tree Tattoo 5/5 🙂

I’m currently reading both Dubliners and Great Expectations. I’ve put them on hold because I really feel like reading light stuff right now. Chick lit, romance, and cozy mystery are my healing words. It helps if they make me laugh out loud. 😀

Over the next few months I’d really love to read some dance books and do a huge review of them all, but we’ll see what time and my brain have in store. If you’re interested in my Booktube channel, I’ll leave a link below. No obligation. I’m still learning how to film, edit, and not feel like an idiot. As always, I hope everyone has a lovely reading month, and a delightful rest of summer.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCj0ojdItegJnGzQ3coBxqXg

Classic Book Review: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

From Goodreads:

One of the most celebrated and popular historical romances ever written. The Three Musketeers tell the story of the early adventures of the young Gascon gentleman d’Artagnan and his three friends from the regiment of the King’s Musketeers: Athos, Porthos, and Aramis.

Under the watchful eye of their patron M. de Treville, the four defend the honour of the regiment against the guards of the Cardinal Richelieu and the honor of the queen against the machinations of the Cardinal himself as the power struggles of 17th-century France are vividly played out in the background.

But their most dangerous encounter is with the Cardinal’s spy: Milady, one of literature’s most memorable female villains.

My thoughts on this book run all over the place. I loved the humor. I didn’t like some of the inevitable slow sections. Every long book has those sections where you want to just put it down.

My main thought was how the title is a bit misleading. This book is about d’Artagnan and the intrigues that come after he arrives to Paris. We do learn about Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. They are a huge chunk of the book, but they defer to d’Artagnan most of the time as the smart one.

My second thought was the complete acceptance of infidelity. It made the time period seem like one long orgy. Goodness. I sound like an old lady, but seriously. It was a bit ridiculous.

One last thought. What do the Musketeers do other than drink, whore, and live off other people? There is evidence of one military battle, but there’s no talk of them ever being around the king, and there was lots of talk about them being short of fund. Slightly perplexing.

Milady is an evil woman and I loved it and hated her. It was wonderful.

I read this book as part of the Back to the Classics Challenge for 2016. It was also a pleasure to read this book.

June Reading Wrap-Up

Ladies and Gentlemen, I finished The Three Musketeers! It was a close call, but I cancelled all potential activites and read until I wanted to throw that book into the pool. Other than that deligtful moment of a few hours ago, I read a lot of good books this month.

  • With Malice by Eileen Cook 4/5
  • Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey 4/5
  • The Ring on Her Finger by Elizabeth Bevarly 3/5
  • This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp 3/5
  • Marie, Dancing by Carolyn Meyer 4/5
  • Bridge of Time by Lewis Buzbee 3/5
  • The Last Star by Rick Yancey 3/5
  • Walk the Edge by Katie McGerry 5/5
  • Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn 4/5
  • In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins 4/5
  • Good Girl Gone Plaid by Shelli Stevens 2/5
  • Dangerous by Suzannah Daniels 2/5
  • On Her Own Two Wheels by STacy Xavier 3/5
  • Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter 4/5
  • In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward 5/5
  • The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas 3/5

Two five-star reads this month! That’s huge for me. I have a goal to read up the ebooks I have on my Nook. It’s the first ereader that came out, so it’s OLD as far as electronics go. I can tell my Nook is dying a slow death and I don’t want to replace it. I don’t like reading on backlit screans, so the nook app is not going to work for me. So I’m hoping to read quite a few off the Nook in the next few months. Happy reading, everyone.

Subscription Boxes, TBR’s, and (lack of) Money

Last year I jumped onto the subscription box bandwagon. I believe it started from watching booktube videos of all the cute things in the book boxes, then I started following blogs that review boxes, etc. To be honest, I’m more of a watcher than a buyer, but I have tried a few. I thought that I’d give a little rundown on the book boxes I’ve tried. The disclaimer: I bought these boxes with my own money, for my own enjoyment. I am not affiliated with them in any way.

OwlCrate – This box chooses a monthly theme and sends a YA book that relates to that theme. It’s a new release YA. You also get cute bookish items that also relate to the theme. I like this box when the theme is right. I don’t like high fantasy books with all that magic in them. This can be a problem in a YA book box. I’ve bought 4 of these total.

LitCube – Another box based on a theme. It comes with a book, a wearable, and an edible. This book sends both adult and YA books. They tend to be under the radar type books. I prefer this box when it sends adult reads. Again, the YA books tend to be too magical for my taste. This is my favorite theme box. I’m a regular subsciber and have received more than 6 boxes.

The Best Damn Book Box – A theme box with a YA book and fangirly items. I only bought one box from them. Although the items were lovely, the book was #2 in a series I didn’t plan to read. My blood pressure went up a bit here because I don’t believe any book box should send out a second or greater book in a series. I don’t care how popular the series is.

Muse Monthly – I love this box. It’s a book and tea. That’s it. The tea in some way relates to the book. The wonderful thing about this is that you know what the book is ahead of time. If it’s something your not interested in, you don’t have to purchase it. I’ve only gotten 1 box from them, but I will buy another when the time is right.

Book of the Month – Every month you get a choice between 5 adult books. If you don’t like your choices, you can skip that month. If you like more than on book, or you suffer from remorse that you didn’t get a book the month before, you can add it to your order. I don’t know how they do this for so cheap. These are new release books! This subscription is the best bang for your buck, hands down. No frills. Just a book, a note about why that book was chosen, and a bookmark. Who needs all that extra stuff? I’ve been subscribed for many months now. I love it.

Bookly Box – You choose your genre (from picture books all the way to business books), you get a box with a few tea bags, post it notes and a book. You can change genres any time. The great thing about this box is that they donate a book to a community in need for every box sold. So far I’m pleased.

 

All these boxes lead to a giant pile of books. Most of them are still unread because I already had a pile to begin with! Trying to find a balance between keeping up with the new and catching up with the old is becoming increasingly difficult. To add to this, these boxes aren’t cheap. I signed up for more dance lessons and for a dance comp so funds are tighter than usual. I decided to keep Bark Box (already paid for and not talked about here), Book of the Month (already paid for – may use skip option for a few months) and Bookly Box for now. They may need to go sometime, too. The rest I had to cancel and many I won’t get to try out any time soon. I own over 300 unread books, so I think I’m fine. 😀 Do you have any subscription boxes that you love? How is everyone else doing with their TBR?