I added Washington Square to my project fill in the gaps list because I wanted to read something by Henry James and this had an intriguing synopsis anI added Washington Square to my project fill in the gaps list because I wanted to read something by Henry James and this had an intriguing synopsis and was a little shorter than some of his other books. I read it a few days ago to get in some last minute classic reading before the end of the year. I’m glad I did! This was a quick and overall enjoyable read.
So, Catherine Sloper is the main character and is perfectly ordinary in every way. Seriously, the way her dad describes her is pretty tragic. Take these gems:
“She was not ugly; she had simply a plain, dull, gentle countenance.”
“…affectionate, docile, obedient, and much addicted to speaking the truth.”
“She was not abnormally deficient…”
“Dr. Sloper would have liked to be proud of his daughter; but there was nothing to be proud of in poor Catherine.”
I mean, ouch! Of course, now that I’ve established that he is fairly mean? I have to admit that I pretty much agree with him. The woman is a little…shall we say…beige. (Do y’all use that expression for plain people? Maybe it’s just me.)
Anyway, once Washington Square has adequately established how uninteresting Catherine is, a love interest is thrown in. Morris Townsend starts expressing interest, and Dr. Sloper is pretty sure he is a fortune hunter. (The only thing not plain about Catherine are the money bags she will inherit.) Is he or isn’t he is the question of the day, and what basically the entire book dances around.
Dr. Sloper’s widowed sister, Mrs. Penniman, adds several interesting twists. She is more than happy to stick her meddling nose into the situation every chance she gets. From encouraging Catherine to see Morris behind her disapproving father’s back to trying to convince Morris that they should elope – she stays fairly busy throughout the entirety of Washington Square.
You guys, I think this book would be fantastic for melodramatic high school girls that are convinced their parents are out to ruin their lives. It is so angsty in that I’m-in-love-for-the-first-time-but-am-forbidden-to-see-him way. Catherine is so torn between wanting to obey and respect her father and wanting to marry Morris. Oh the drama. Kind of hard to respect or sympathize though, because she wouldn’t just MAKE UP HER MIND ALREADY.
As for Dr. Sloper? I think I am officially old because I totally related more with him than Catherine. He knew (or thought he knew, anyway) what kind of crappy person Morris was so he set his foot down in the beginning and never wavered – no Catherine cannot marry him and no, she can’t even speak to him. He even took her on a year long trip to Europe to distract her! Also, he cracked me up because he thought the whole situation was fairly hilarious since he didn’t really care much about Catherine to begin with.
Anyways, things finally do get decided one way or another and the story more or less wraps up. Just don’t expect a very satisfying ending, because you won’t be getting one! Regardless, I overall enjoyed reading Washington Square. It didn’t take very long and I was amused by the whole situation.
To Sum it Up:
=There isn’t really anything outstanding about the novel, but I still consider reading it time well spent.
-The romantic melodrama and parental interference angst is perfectly suited for teenage girls.
-Is he or isn’t he? You’ll spend a lot of time wondering whether or not Morris Townsend is a loser....more
Somehow I missed reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare when I was a kid. I now definitely fully appreciate what I was missingSomehow I missed reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare when I was a kid. I now definitely fully appreciate what I was missing - I finally picked it up and read it during the last readathon and couldn't believe how much I loved it! Thinking about how much more it would mean to me now if I had read it when I was younger? Definitely a bummer, y'all.
Kit Tyler had an awesome childhood growing up on the island of Barbados. Unfortunately, her guardian dies and she has to turn to the only family she has left. That means moving in with her aunt and uncle in Connecticut. It is the year 1867 - which means she is moving into the super religious buttoned up version of New England. Definitely not what she is used to! She manages to get herself into all kinds of scrapes because she isn't used to having to reign in her creativity and chutzpah.
She finds comfort with the town outcast, Hannah Tupper. All the townspeople believe she is a witch (basically because she is a Quaker and they have intolerance for any religion but their own). Even when her uncle bans her from visiting Hannah - Kit can't resist the only chance she has to really be herself. She also keeps running into Nat, son of the captain of the ship she journeyed to Connecticut on. The evolution of their acquaintance is just icing on what is already a spectacular story!
You guys! The Witch of Blackbird Pond is seriously one of the best books I read in 2012. Kit Tyler is such a fantastic character - her struggles to stay true to herself while still trying to fit into society and obey her aunt and uncle really drew me in. The relationship she had with her cousins was also fantastic - everyone in this story has a very individual personality that makes all interaction seem so real.
From somewhat ridiculously courting a religious scholar to teaching young children to read - Kit is determined to fit into her new home. But in true Kit fashion, nothing ever goes according to plan. Sigh, I am so in love with every single facet of this story - I know I'll be rereading The Witch of Blackbird Pond many times in the future.
To Sum it Up:
-From wonderful characterization to a great sense of place (in 19th century New England), this story really draws you in.
-Kit is so fantastic! I loved seeing her struggle between fitting in and keeping true to herself. Trying to please everyone else while still pleasing herself inevitably led to a lot of oopsies...
-Nothing in this book was perfect - not Kit, not her family or her neighbors - people made mistakes and acted like intolerant idiots and it added so much to the setting and made everything so realistic and true to the time period....more
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George is one of the books I chose to review for banned books week. It is often challenged for violence and beinJulie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George is one of the books I chose to review for banned books week. It is often challenged for violence and being unsuited to its intended age group. It is #32 on the ALA most challenged of the 1990s list.
Y’all, I thought the plot of Julie of the Wolves was fascinating. Julie (or Miyax, her Eskimo name) has run away. She is 13, and already married. Her husband has some sort of mental impairment and he attacks her, threatening rape (this is the violence loser book banners complain about). She takes off into the wilds of Alaska, hoping to make it to California to live with her pen pal. She ends up inserting herself into a pack of wolves in order to survive.
Julie of the Wolves is split into three parts. The first section has her meeting and getting to know the wolf pack, and details the things she does in her day to day life out on the tundra. I found this part a little slow. I much preferred the second bit, which is a flashback to her childhood spent in seclusion with her father up to moving in with her husband and his family. Seeing her growing up and interacting with people was much more interesting to me.
The third part switches back to her present life with the wolves – but it doesn’t drag as much as the beginning did. It dealt more with the struggle Julie faces as she is caught between two worlds: being a traditional Eskimo vs. embracing a more modern worldview.
I really liked Julie’s character. She is very devoted to her heritage and the traditional Eskimo way she was brought up by her father. She is intelligent and an extremely quick thinker. She reacts well in crisis and is a very loyal friend. Her independence and determination make her a great heroine for younger readers to admire.
While it won’t be making my favorites list, I do think Julie of the Wolves is a memorable story – definitely great for middle grade readers. So y’all, screw the folks that try to ban it by recommending it to the younger crowd! (The ebook is only 99 cents for the time being.)...more
A Matter of Magic by Patricia C. Wrede is actually a duology; it contains Mairelon the Magician and Magician’s Ward. It has been on my radar for quiteA Matter of Magic by Patricia C. Wrede is actually a duology; it contains Mairelon the Magician and Magician’s Ward. It has been on my radar for quite awhile now because I love the historical fantasy genre. Since I’m currently trying to get some reading done on my Fill in the Gaps challenge, I decided to finally pick it up!
You guys, if I had known how much I was going to love A Matter of Magic, I’d have picked it up ages ago! I had so much fun while reading it! Other than Sorcery & Celia, I haven’t read anything else by Patricia C. Wrede. If all her books are this enchanting, that will be changing very quickly. The characters and plot both held me riveted.
Kim grew up on the streets, disguised as a boy for safety. When she is caught poking around where she doesn’t belong, she ends up assistant to a magician. Mairelon ends up dragging her into a web of intrigue involving lost magical artifacts. Then, in the second half of A Matter of Magic, Kim is living as his ward when further intrigues develop.
Hilarious, witty, captivating…I was left completely and utterly charmed. Some of the hi-jinx that Mairelon and Kim find themselves in had me shaking my head and snorting with laughter. The personalities of both left me with similar reactions even when the situations weren't meant to be especially funny.
A Matter of Magic reminded me why it is best not to get caught up in only reading current young adult fantasy. It lacks the qualities of books that are a little older. When all you read is too focused on romance and elaborate supernatural situations – you can end up missing out! (Not that this book doesn't have a cute romance sub-plot…I’m not hating on anything, I love modern YA fantasy too!) Diversity my friends, diversity.
The simplicity of Patricia C. Wrede’s story is so beguiling, y’all. I really can’t recommend reading this enough!...more
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is one of those “I can’t believe I haven’t read this!” books. I decided it was the perfect choice to pick up for BannedFahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is one of those “I can’t believe I haven’t read this!” books. I decided it was the perfect choice to pick up for Banned Books Week. Since it was first published back in the 50s, it has been frequently challenged. The ALA included it at #69 on their most banned of the 2000-2010 decade for questionable themes and offensive language.
Y’all, I have to admit something. I actually agree with the notion that Fahrenheit 451 contains “questionable themes.” Of course, what I mean by that is that the book is full of wonderful food for thought. You know, themes that deserve to be questioned and discussed. Like in a classroom. So someone could actually learn something. Does it really make sense to try to censor a book about censorship?
This was all he wanted now. Some sign that the immense world would accept him and give him the long time needed to think all the things that must be thought.
We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the constitution says, but everyone made equal…A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man’s mind.
Basically, people in Guy Montag’s dystopian society have this weird mixture of actual hostility towards books and a feeling of general disinterest toward the thought of reading. Ray Bradbury illustrates all the stimuli and mindless entertainment these people are hypnotized by. The characters all seem brainwashed into being the same: and they are all basically useless. Everyone seems to just accept ignorance as preferable. IT MADE ME WANT TO HUG ALL MY BEAUTIFUL PRECIOUS BOOKS, YOU GUYS. I won’t even make fun of people that have only read 50 Shades of Grey anymore (much). This is a scary place, and not one I want to visit.
Although Guy Montag’s spirit quest (or whatever you want to call it) was a little odd, it was great to see one of these bizarro pod people actually wake up and start questioning reality. This isn’t a perfect book – there were some slow points, some weird points, some plot devices I could do without (Clarisse. Ahem.) Overall, I think I got a lot more out of the questions Fahrenheit 451 caused me to consider than the actual story itself. I don’t mean that in a bad way – I think Ray Bradbury would take that as an immense compliment.
In a week celebrating our ability to fight censorship – reading a book about censorship seems a very appropriate thing to do. I’m glad I picked it up! If you haven’t read it, you definitely should.
To Sum It Up:
-HUG YOUR BOOKS. This book, appropriately enough, makes me want to celebrate our ability to fight censorship. Banned Books Week FTW.
-Watching Guy Montag wake up and start to question his role in society – and that society itself – is a very thought-provoking journey.
-You can watch John Green analyze the story on YouTube if you so desire...more
I read The Shining by Stephen King in honor of Halloween. It was a great choice too, let me tell ya! I’m not much of one for being afraid of ghosts, bI read The Shining by Stephen King in honor of Halloween. It was a great choice too, let me tell ya! I’m not much of one for being afraid of ghosts, but by the time I was well into this story I sure was constantly terrified to see what would happen next…
Stephen King has this gift of being able to write normal, everyday people having normal everyday conversations over and over again in a way that makes you want to read it. When you look back on those parts of the story and try to figure out why you’re so captivated – you can’t quite put your finger on it because there isn’t anything extraordinary there. Just a gifted writer with the ability to remind you that the ordinary is worth reading about.
Of course, that is the truly scary part of the story. What can happen to normal, everyday people.
King also has the gift of making normal things seem unsettling. Even the simple act of the family going on an introductory tour of the kitchens gave me the heebie jeebies. Some of the most unsettling parts are just the pieces that foreshadow something worse to come:
As he got behind the truck’s wheel it occurred to him that while he was fascinated by the Overlook, he didn’t much like it. He wasn’t sure it was good for either his wife or his son or himself. Maybe that was why he had called [the hotel's manager].
To be fired while there was still time.
And of course, there is the big bad in this particular story: the Overlook Hotel. It starts off pretty slow and vague – but by the end of the story that hotel has woken up one rip-roaring demonic mess.
The Overlook faced it as it had for nearly three-quarters of a century, its darkened windows now bearded with snow, indifferent to the fact that it was now cut off from the world. Or possibly it was pleased with the prospect. Inside its shell the three of them went about their early evening routine, like microbes trapped in the intestine of a monster.
So, you better believe this book had me freaking out. Not because I was looking over my shoulder expecting a crazy ghost to be there – but because this family – Jack, Wendy and Danny Torrence along with Dick Hallorann – got a hold on me and I was scared out of my mind waiting to see how their story would end.
I didn’t know much at all about the plot of The Shining before starting it, and that is what I want for everyone that might pick it up one of these days. Most of my enjoyment came from my crazed anticipation to see what would happen next – and dreading coming to the end. It was absolutely worth the ride y’all!...more
I’m not sure why I waited so long to read A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, but I’m kicking myself! Sara Crewe is up there with the most eI’m not sure why I waited so long to read A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, but I’m kicking myself! Sara Crewe is up there with the most enchanting characters ever created. She reminded me so much of Anne Shirley, who has always been a favorite of mine. They were both orphans and both used their imaginations to help them get through difficult situations. They were also both old souls, and this aspect of Sara’s personality is actually pointed out on the first page of the book:
She sat with her feet tucked under her, and leaned against her father, who held her in his arm, as she stared out of the window at the passing people with a queer old-fashioned thoughtfulness in her big eyes. She was such a little girl that one did not expect to see such a look on her small face. It would have been an old look for a child of twelve, and Sara Crewe was only seven. The fact was, however, that she was always dreaming and thinking odd things and could not herself remember any time when she had not been thinking things about grown-up people and the world they belonged to. She felt as if she had lived a long, long time.
After growing up in India, Sara’s father feels like he must send her to boarding school in London so she can learn to be a proper young lady. She does not want to leave her father, but she does so gracefully – as she does everything. After establishing herself as an even-tempered, sweet and generous friend to everyone at the school, she receives horrible news that changes everything. However, even when everything is taken away from her…she remains positive and charming. She and fellow servant girl Lottie manage to survive by sticking together – and their determination ends up paying off! I should probably mention that I grew up watching (and loving!) the 1997 movie version of the book, so I was ridiculously surprised by how the book ends – the movie changed things up big time!
Even though this is a classic book with no real fantasy or paranormal aspects, this book is a fairy tale of the best kind. If you haven’t read it yet, you definitely should! Escape into Sara’s world where nothing is so bad that it cannot be imagined away....more