Back to the Classics 2016 Wrap Up

If any of you missed my initial post, I’ve been reviewing some classics this year for the Back to the Classics Challenge. I managed to complete all 12 categories, and I’ll link the reviews below.

  1. A 19th Century Classic – The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins     https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/classic-book-review-the-woman-in-white-by-wilkie-collins/
  2. A 20th Century Classic – Animal Farm by George Orwell https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/classic-book-review-animal-farm-by-george-orwell/
  3. A Classic by a Woman Author – Frankenstein by Mary Shelly https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/10/31/classic-book-review-frankenstein-by-mary-shelley/
  4. A Classic in Translation – The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/classic-book-review-the-three-musketeers-by-alexandre-dumas/
  5. A Classic by a Non-White Author – The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/02/23/classic-book-review-the-pillow-book-of-sei-shonagon/
  6. An Adventure Classic – The Time Machine by H.G. Wells https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/01/12/classic-book-review-the-time-machine-by-h-g-wells/
  7. A Fantasy, Science Fiction, or Dystopian Classic – The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/classic-book-review-the-martian-chronicles-by-ray-bradbury/
  8. A Classic Detective Novel – And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/classic-book-review-and-then-there-were-none-by-agatha-christie/
  9. A classic Which Includes the Name of a Place in the Title – Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/04/29/classic-book-review-cold-comfort-farm-by-stella-gibbons/
  10. A Classic Which Has Been Banned or Censored – Lord of the Flies https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/03/04/classic-book-review-lord-of-the-flies/
  11. Re-Read a Classic You Read for School – Great Expectations https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/classic-book-review-great-expectations-by-charles-dickens/
  12. A Volume of Classic Short Stories – Dubliners  https://danceworkhomeschoolrepeat.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/classic-book-review-dubliners-by-james-joyce/

It’s been a great reading year for classics!

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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!

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?

Classic Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Was I the only human who had not read this book? It seemed like it!

I went into reading Frankenstein with only the image of that scene in the classic movie, and many parodies of the scene, in my head. You know the one. The monster on the table with tubes sticking out of it and then the crazy Doctor running around with all his genius. I didn’t remember anything other than that, so I basically went into this blind.

From Goodreads:

Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.

I enjoyed Frankenstein much more than I anticipated. First, the descriptions of Lake Geneva were lovely. I felt like I was there. Second, it was put together cleverly, starting and ending with letters from a sailor to his sister. Frankenstein’s narrative surrounding the Monster’s. Last, it was nothing like the movie. The Monster was not a stupid being. Frankenstein created a being that was more intelligent than he himself was. This doesn’t condone the murders and vengeance that went on, but it was interesting to me.

I could probably go on for ages here, but my broken finger is hurting and I need to stop typing now. I read this book for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2016.

February Reading Wrap-Up

This month I started a lot of books that I still haven’t finished. It also was a library month; all but one book came from the library.

  1. The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon 4/5
  2. One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean 4/5
  3. No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean 2/5
  4. Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover by Sarah MacLean 3/5
  5. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley 5/5
  6. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer 4/5
  7. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys 5/5
  8. A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett (audiobook with daughter) 4/5
  9. The Forgotten Room by Karen White (and two others) 4/5
  10. Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard 3/5
  11. Good at Games by Jill Mansell 4/5

I read one, lonely owned book this month.

  • Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson 4/5

I’m in the middle of four books that I’m going to carry over to March. I linked up by Instagram account ( dance_read_homeschool ) for this page somewhere- if anyone is interested. I did post a picture of my March TBR on there. No surprise that I have a ton of library books out with five more on the way. I’d better get reading.

 

Back to the Classics Challenge 2016

I’ve always wanted to read more classics. The problem with this is that I haven’t liked many classics in the past (a hang up from school, I think), and there’s no accountability in my desire to read. A secondary reason is that classics tend to take more brain power than I have available at any particular time. I’m a busy woman with many distractions. I tend to go for the lighter books that I can put down easily when my daughter needs help or it’s time to fold some laundry. So this year I’m going to get some accountability in my desire to read some classics. I’m going to participate in the Back to the Classics Challenge hosted by Books and Chocolate. It’s a great one because you can read 6, 9 or 12 books depending on how your year goes. Below are the challenges and my tentative selections for each.

  1.  A 19th Century Classic – The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  2. A 20th Century Classic – Animal Farm by George Orwell
  3. A classic by a woman author – Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  4. A classic in translation – The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  5. A classic by a non-white author – The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon
  6. An adventure classic – The Time Machine by HG Wells
  7. A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic – The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  8.  A classic detective novel – And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  9. A classic which includes the name of a place in the title – Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
  10. A classic which has been banned or censored – Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  11. Re-read a classic you read in school (high school or college) – Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  12. A volume of classic short stories – Dubliners by James Joyce

I will admit to being intimidated by a few of the above. Reviews and updates will happen periodically, so look out for them if you’re interested. Any words of advice as I embark on this journey?