Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Liebster Award!

Hi everyone,

So Catherine from basedonthebook.blogspot.com, was kind enough to bestow upon me the Liebster Award (check out her blog; I just discovered it today and it is really addictive).  People who read my other blogs might recognize this award, as I won it for my movie blog.  It always great to hear that my blogs are interesting and entertaining people.  I would love to return the favor, so if any of you have blogs that you want me to take a look it, stop by the comments section and give me your URL.
First, I have to list eleven interesting facts about myself.  It has been while, but I will try not to repeat any from my movie blog post.

1. My pet peeves include women who refer to themselves as "bitches", cutesy names for genitalia, and people who tell you something really private when you first meet them.
2. I love the Nancy Drew computer games by Her Interactive.
3. I write a long email to my sister every night before I go to bed which recaps my day and is mostly aimed at making her laugh.
4. I make amazing peanut butter cookies but they are the only thing I can cook.
5. I love African American romantic comedies and horror films.
6. I love to sing but the last time I sang in front of someone was in the eighth grade and it was the worst.
7. Incidentally, my friend told me the most common thing I say is "_____ is the worst."
8. The most desirable trait I am looking for in a man is the ability to make me laugh.  Unfortunately, very few can do it.
9. My favorite drink is Sex on the Beach.
10. Right now I can't stop listening to the song "Love Like Mine" and I don't even watch Nashville.
11. I love wearing crazy lipstick colors and am usually wearing plum.

Okay, next up is a set of questions that were created by Caroline:
1. If you could marry any fictional character, who would you pick?
Oh this one is hard because the characters I am most attracted to aren't exactly marriage material. I am going to say Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer because he is hot and hilarious.
2. Jeans or leggings?
3. What was your favourite childhood T.V show?
Probably Spongebob Squarepants.
4. What is your go-to Karaoke song?
I have never actually sang karaoke, mostly because that is an introvert's worst nightmare.  I would probably sing "Your Song" or "Sweet Caroline" (I am picking generic ones because I assume they would be options at this fictional Karaoke bar I have created in my mind).
5. If you were on mastermind, what would be your specialist subject?
I would probably like to study supernatural phenomena and study people who claim to be "psychic" and haunted places.
6. What's your favourite season of the year?
Definitely spring.  But will it ever come?
7. If you could live in any historical era, (other than this one) which one would you choose?
The idea of being a woman in any other era is frightening.  I have read a lot of books that take place in 1750s and wouldn't mind visiting but I would never want to stay there.
8. Frodo, Sam, Merry or Pippin?
Sam!  He is the real hero of the trilogy!
9. Which Disney character are you most like?
Probably Anna from Frozen.  I am really close to my sister and am rather easily taken in when a guy pays attention to me.
10. What is the most random situation that you've ever found yourself in?
This is a really hard question!  I once got stuck on a cable car with my sister on the way up to Mount Blanc and everyone on the ground was just like staring at our clear pod and pointing.
11. What would be your last meal on death row?
That is dark.  Probably this pasta salad my sister makes and cheesesticks.  I am obsessed with cheesesticks.

Now time for the questions that my nominees must answer:
1. Debate that you get into most often?
2. What Hogwarts house would you be in?
3. Longest you have ever gone being single?
4. Book you reread the most often?
5. Trait that a significant other must possess?
6. Weirdest thing you have ever heard at a party?
7. Your view on a news story of your choice?
8. Coolest insult/comeback that you have ever come up with?
9. Favorite Shakespearean villain?
10. Most frequently visited website (the correct answer is my blog by the way)?
11. Song that you feel most applies to your life right now?

So here we hit a snag.  I don't really read a lot of blogs.  The blogs I do read,  I nominated when I won this award on my movie blog.  Like I said, though, I am happy to read any blog that is mentioned in the comment section.  If I like your blog, I will, of course, nominate it.

Thanks again Catherine and I hope everybody had fun reading my answers!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

114. Hard Times

Hard Times
Charles Dickens
Around 350 pages

I hope the four posts I did give you enough reading material for awhile since this is a really busy time for me and I have a couple other books lined up before I get to the next one on The List.  Of course, if it takes you two weeks to read four posts, I don't know why you are on a book blog in the first place.

This is our seventh Dickens book on the list and there is no end in sight.  When I am done with all of these I am going to reward myself with cupcakes.  Hell, I am going to do that any way but at least now it will have meaning.

Josiah Bounderby is a rich factory owner who predictably is a major jerk (hey, it is Dickens after all and he is rich).  He marries his best friend's daughter, despite him being gross and her being good looking.  Stephen Blackpool, a factory worker, walks around with a halo around his head but is stuck married to a terrible woman.  And there is someone named Sissy, I think?  Damn, now I can't remember.  And I am having trouble finding any particle in me that cares.

So the good news?  I think this is the shortest Dickens on The List.  This book aims to bring attention to poverty in England at the time.  I don't know about you, but every year in school we would have a unit on the Industrial Revolution so I kind of already know that it have sucked to be alive back then.  Maybe in his time, he was divulging new information, but I was bored as soon as I turned the first page.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

Mixed reviews from critics.  Yay, some are on my side for once!

UP NEXT: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell.

113. Walden

Henry David Thoreau
Around 350 pages

I am convinced that if I ever went into the woods to live by myself I would murdered within the first few days.  If I was able to somehow evade the crazy ax men, I would probably have a meltdown about missing my sister and not having access to Netflix.  I think most people share the same opinion as me, but believe they will reconsider these views after reading Walden.  Spoiler alert: you won't.

So, like I said in my previous post, this really isn't a novel and is more a collection of essays.  Basically, Thoreau spends most of the time whining about everything that is wrong with society (Walden, in the modern language, translates to the Internet).  He complains about meat eaters, people who can't read Greek or Latin, people who drink alcohol, people who don't do manual labor.  He is kind of like cranky old man you hope won't sit next to you on a plane.

Wow, I am harsh today.  In fact, I actually enjoyed the book quite a bit; it is always interesting to read someone else's philosophy on everything in life, from hobbies to religion (which is why I enjoyed Rousseau so much).  Of course, after awhile it can feel like a lecture so there were times when it got on my nerves.

Overall, a good read but I am certainly not buying a cabin any time soon.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Thoreau spent four times as much time on the manuscript as he did at Walden Pond.

A video game based on Walden is in development.   Otherwise known as a nature screensaver.

Camping is not a good time!  From CollegeHumor:

UP NEXT: Hard Times by Charles Dickens.  Why does he make it so easy to mock his titles?

112. Bleak House

Bleak House
Charles Dickens
Around 650 pages

Look, it is Agent Scully!  I guess she was in an adaptation of Bleak House!  Who knew?  Okay, that is the most interesting thing about this post and this novel.  You may go back to your porn now.  Is that not appropriate?  I will go back and change it later.

I actually read this book a long time ago and I am sure as hell not going to go through that horror again.  A friend actually recommended this to me when I complained to her that I couldn't find a Dickens book I liked (this was, of course, before I fell in love with David).  She was convinced that I would like it since I like Jane Austen.  Unfortunately, we are not still in contact so I can't ask her what the hell she was talking about.

Honestly, I was just reading the plot summary for a quick refresher and I couldn't finish it because it was so goddamn boring.  I have been in boring meeting all day, though, so my tolerance is waning.  Basically, the story centers on the court case Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce.  Apparently, a man made several wills.  Yeah, I know.  Riveting.  Dickens uses the novel to heavily criticize the English judicial system. Do trials move slowly?  Wow, thank you for the lesson, professor.

The only notable thing about this novel is that it is narrated by a woman.  However, it is clear from reading this book (and knowing what I do about Dickens' personal life) that he really has no idea what a female point of view even looks like.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

I got nothing; here is a trailer that claims you won't be bored.  Have we touched a nerve?
UP NEXT: Walden by Henry David Thoreau.  This is technically a collection of essays, not a novel.  More lies!

111. Villette

Charlotte Bronte
Around 500 pages

Hello, everyone!  Once again, I am back after a reading break that included Life of Pi and One Hundred Years of Solitude.  But now I have returned and now have about ten reviews to write for each of my blogs.  I am also still battling jet lag, which means I have to pause and stare into space for ten seconds after every sentence.  This might take awhile.

I absolutely loved Jane Eyre and absolutely hated Shirley so for me, this was the novel that would decide once and for all how I felt about Charlotte Bronte.  Wow, that was a well constructed sentence.  In any case, this book tipped the scales in Charlotte's favor.

Villette is narrated by Lucy Snowe, an extremely passive person that is described by another character
as being "inoffensive as a shadow."  In this way she is reminiscent of Fanny Price of Mansfield Park, although in this case Lucy is not rewarded for her meekness and instead is largely ignored by the other characters.

Lucy stays with her godmother after her family seemingly dies in a catastrophe that is never described.  Lucy begins to have feelings for her godmother's son, Graham, but she is largely ignored by him and is forced to watch while Graham falls in love with women who possess stronger characters.  Isn't that wonderful?  I know this book was written by a woman, but it still cool to get away from the romance tropes that we see in virtually every book on this list.

This is the last Bronte novel on The List, which I am sincerely sad about.  I am also sincerely sad that I spent the last two minutes trying to end that sentence without a preposition and failed.  Is it too early to take another nap?

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Oh my god, I forgot to mention the creepy nun scenes.  Every once and awhile, Lucy seems the ghost of a nun who was buried alive for breaking her vow of chastity.  Sweet dreams.

Lucy heavily denounces the Catholic Church throughout the novel ("God is not with Rome!").

UP NEXT: Bleak House by Charles Dickens.  He's baaccckk.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

110. Cranford

Elizabeth Gaskell
Around 200 pages

I did not expect a lot from this book, seeing as how Mary Barton, the previous Gaskell from the list, was a huge disappointment.  However, this is a very unique book that is worth the afternoon it takes to read it.

Cranford is narrated by Mary Smith, a spinster who often stay with another "old maid" (these are quite flattering titles for unmarried women), Miss Matty.  There is really no plot; the novel just details random events in their lives.  Throughout the novel, the women take great delight in frightening themselves after there is a report of burglaries in Cranford,  Miss Matty visits her former suitor, Mr. Holbrook, and Mary attempts to find Matty's long lost brother.

So in a lot of ways, this novel is quite ordinary for its time.  The style is like Jane Austen's, only less amusing, and the characters are of a standard stock.  However, the fact that we are hearing about women who, for one reason or another, have never married is actually really interesting.  Now, granted, Miss Matty and Miss Pole seem to be quite miserable about their single status.  On the other hand, Mary Smith seemed to be quite content with her unmarried life.  There was a particularly entertaining passage where the women try to prove they are braver than their dentist, who was too embarrassed to admit that he had been robbed.  The idea that women were trying to prove they were better and more capable than men just seemed really modern to me and it was interesting reading it in a book written in 1851.

So worth a read; Gaskell is not the most talented writer but she is an entertaining feminist.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Published in a serialized form in the magazine Household Works, which was edited by Charles Dickens.

UP NEXT: Villete by Charlotte Bronte.  Yay!

Seems like a loose adaptation but still might be worth checking out: