Monday, August 2, 2021

Two Recent Reads...

 Here are two more books I read and enjoyed, but that I'm not going to review. Mostly because so many people are already familiar with these books.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir.  I've read several excellent reviews of this book from several different bloggers, and all I can say is that I agree. It's a great read. My favorite part? Rocky!!! I absolutely loved that little alien sidekick. He's definitely the best part of this book. If you like science fiction and you haven't already read this book, I recommend you give it a try.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.  I really like the way Krakauer writes, and I thought his recounting of Chris McCandless's nomadic life and subsequent death was very interesting. It's a tragic story, but one that has fascinated many people over the years. It reminded me a lot of  The Cold Vanish by Jon Billman, which is one of my favorite nonfiction reads this year. Both books are worth reading. 

Happy Reading!

Friday, July 30, 2021

Pride and Prejudice with magic!

Title & Author:  Disenchanted by Kara Pleasants

First lines of first chapter:  Hertfordshire was not known for its magic. At least, not the kind of magic that was considered modern, effective, or quality.

My thoughts:  There have been numerous retellings of Pride and Prejudice, some better than others. In this one, Mr. Darcy is a talented wizard; Elizabeth, who is thought to have no magic, can secretly break enchantments; and there is a dangerous Necromancer Thief roaming the countryside stealing other people's magic. All the other characters from Austen's novel are also there. I laughed when Caroline Bingley's enchanted tea accidentally ended up cursing Jane. I also liked how in this one, Mr. Bennet is more astute and present and plays a larger role, having once been a talented wizard himself. And there's a very fun twist at the end with Mrs. Bennet that totally made me smile.

There were a few things that didn't work as well. I felt the whole Wickham storyline was completely unnecessary to Pleasants' plot. And I'm already very familiar with all of Austen's famous lines; I really don't need to have them repeated yet again here. In fact, I wish Pleasant had worried more about developing her own version of these well-known characters, and telling her own story, rather than trying so hard to adhere to Austen's original plot. Because I liked all the magic, and the idea of a secret Wizarding court with fun code names for each member, and how Darcy's magic needed Elizabeth's in order to catch the Necromancer. I wanted more of that!  

So while I loved the idea of this one, it ended up being just a 3-star read for me. Not awful, but not wonderful either. Though parts of it are very fun. And I'm not sorry I read it.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week's topic: Books I'd Want With Me While Stranded On a Deserted Island.

My first book felt like an obvious choice:

1. How to Build a Boat by Jonathan Gornall

 And when that doesn't work, here's my next choice:

2. How To Survive on a Deserted Island

Then, while I wait to be rescued, I'd want some favorite books along that I know I love and can read over and over again. Like these:

3. The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling. All seven of them!

But, being stranded alone on a deserted island, I'd also want something to read that's frivolous and fun and romantic. I thought this short story collection was particularly appropriate:

4. Beach Brides--Message in a Bottle

Then, while I have so much time to read, I might as well tackle some of those pesky TBR books I've been meaning to read for several years now:

5. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

6. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

7. Whiteout by Adriana Anders 

8. Locked In by Kerry Wilkinson

9. This Poison Will Remain by Fred Vargas

And when I'm tired of reading, I'd take a crossword puzzle book like this one to help kill the time:

With all of these great books to read, suddenly being stranded on a deserted island doesn't sound so bad! Where do I sign up?

Happy Reading!

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Another classic...

I remember my dad reading all of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan books when I was a kid, mostly because I thought the covers were cool, but also because I loved watching the animated TV series of Tarzan back in the day. I've seen several movie versions of Tarzan since, my favorite being The Legend of Tarzan with Alexander Skarsgard. 

So while I'd long been familiar with the general story of Tarzan, I'd never read any of Burroughs' original books. Then I saw there was a category for "A Classic About an Animal, or With an Animal in the Title" on Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge this year, and I immediately knew I wanted to read Tarzan of the Apes for it. And I'm so glad I did. 

It was written in 1914, so it has that distinctly old-fashioned narrative style, but it's still a very fun read. It chronicles how John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, and his wife, Alice, are marooned in Africa, how they lived, gave birth to a son, and then died, and how Kala, an anthropoid ape, raised Tarzan as her own. He grows up among the apes, but is never fully one of them. He knows and understands that animal instinct and savagery, but his higher intellect allows him to learn and think things the apes cannot--like how to use a rope and knife, and even how to read and write. And he struggles to find his place in the world--he may be Tarzan, King of the Apes, but he's very conscious that he's also a man. And he longs to develop that side of him.

The young Lord Greystoke was indeed a strange and warlike figure, his mass of black hair falling to his shoulders...the fire of life and intelligence in those fine, clear eyes... His straight and perfect figure told at a glance the wondrous combination of enormous strength with suppleness and speed. A personification, was Tarzan of the Apes, of the primitive man, the hunter, the warrior... But there was that which had raised him far above his fellows of the jungle--that little spark which spells the whole vast difference between man and brute--Reason. 

"Tarzan is not an ape."

I have to admit, my favorite parts of this book were in the second half when Tarzan first sees Jane, and when he saves her, and falls in love with her. I didn't love it quite as much when he loses her and has to follow her to America, only to lose her again for dumb but noble reasons on both his and Jane's part. (Which means he doesn't get together with Jane until the next book, The Return of Tarzan and, of course, my library doesn't have a copy of that one!) Despite that small annoyance, I did really enjoy reading this book. And I like Tarzan even more than I did before. Especially when he's with Jane.
From the trees Tarzan of the Apes watched the sweet face and graceful figure of Jane Porter. In his savage, untutored breast new emotions were stirring. ... But the girl, ah... He knew that she was created to be protected, and that he was created to protect her.

 Happy Reading!



Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Haiku reviews...

Prepped by Bethany Mangle

Becca's parents want
to survive any future doomsday;
she just wants to escape them!

YA fiction .... 307 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(Fun take on several crazy doomsday preppers and the two teens among them who are determined to live normal lives.)

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Two foes: Red and Blue.
Two different futures at stake.
One Time War to win.

Science fiction .... 198 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.
(This novel is poetic, partly epistolary, uniquely strange, and oddly compelling.)

Live Free by DeVon Franklin

Let go of the past.
Reset your expectations.
Find more joy in life.

Nonfiction .... 267 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(This book offers some insightful advice on how to change your perspective and live a more free and happy life.)

Happy Reading!

Sunday, July 18, 2021

July's Bookish Art...

Frederick Hassam -- Couch on the Porch

"The habit of reading is the only one I know in which there is no alloy. 
It lasts when all other pleasures fade."
--Anthony Trollope

Thursday, July 15, 2021

The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

The plot:  Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has heard stories about the small Swedish mining town of Silvertjarn her whole life. It's where her grandmother grew up. It's also the town from which 900 people disappeared in 1959, including her grandmother's parents and younger sister, Aina. No one's ever solved the mystery of Silvertjarn. But Alice is determined to try. She's got some help in her film crew Emmy, Robert, Max and Tone, who has her own connection to Silvertjarn. Alice also has all of her grandmother's sister's letters from that time period. She hopes to find more clues to what happened in the abandoned village. But she is not prepared for what awaits her and her crew in Silvertjarn. None of them are.

My thoughts:  There's a lot to like about this novel. The mystery surrounding the inhabitants of Silvertjarn is both eerie and interesting, as is the remote setting itself. And Sten ably intersperses Alice's narrative in the present with short scenes from her great-grandmother's POV in the past. I liked the way the two narratives added layers and suspense to the mystery. But I felt like it took forever for Alice and the others to explore the more interesting parts of the abandoned village, and Alice's drama with Emmy, her former college friend, got old fast. But when things start to go wrong for the crew, the pacing does pick up. Overall, this one reads well, and I appreciated how the mystery gets wrapped up at the end. Is it all believable? No. but I thought it was entertaining. 

Happy Reading!