Reading List – August 2020

International writers have tended to flow swiftly past my radar. With books by British and American writers so prevalent, it’s easy to get lost in the cultures I already know the most about.

But with new translations, internationally flavored American writers, and global authors who (through colonization, I guess) have mastered English literature, that needs to change. Welcome to an international month of reading!

The Kite Rider – Khaled Hosseini

518-tcto9clThis is one of those books which do fit the modern ideas of popular. About a culture which isn’t commonly written about in Anglospheres, The Kite Rider is on my radar purely as extremely dependent on the Afghan culture and political situations. Written not too long after 9/11, I can’t imagine how tense this is going to be. I also hope it helps me learn more about the country which my own nation invaded. The history of Afghanistan is rich and far deeper than “Osama launched an attack on America.” The people – especially women – there have suffered much at the hands of the Taliban. I hope this book weaves history into it well.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

51l2b3fbhymlPart of why I haven’t read this before was the fact that it was, in original Swedish, called Men Who Hate Women. To me, a modern millennial who thinks the current incarnation of the feminist movement has a lot of good in it, that seems dangerously… against my sensibilities. I’ve openly said before that I don’t like books with senseless levels of sex or violence, and I get the distinct feeling that’s what this book is full of. I don’t actually promise to finish this book, but since I do enjoy a nice mystery every once in a while, I’m going to give this a whirl.

Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

PurpleHibiscusThere’s a new trend of African literature – especially in English – that promises to kick off exciting stories and bring fresh perspectives. I’ve heard of this book before and am interested to read something part of this new movement, even if I know relatively little about the set-up.

This book also reminds me of a book I read a long time ago – middle school, I believe. I don’t remember the title, but it was about political strife in Nigeria and I enjoyed the exciting story. There’s plenty of historical material from Africa to work with.

The Leftovers: Something from YOU?

Do you have a published book and a method of purchasing it that isn’t sketch as hell?  I need indie books to read, and this year’s slots are nearly filled!  Let me know if you have something you’d like me to peruse!

See my old reviews here

Book Review: The Gate

This book is described as an alien science fiction in which one of those “Ancient Aliens” type people turn out to be right. It promises investigations of ruins, professor stuff, relationship troubles, and more.

The Book

45946171

The Gate: An Invasion Universe Novel
Book 1 of the Astral Conspiracy Series
Author: D.L. Cross
2019
Amazon Link

I saw this book advertised in one of those twitter threads where a person will say, “I’ve got some money to blow on books now! Tell me what to read!” and a buttload of people respond. I perused one list in which this book was part, and I thought it looked like mad fun.

Also, interestingly, I definitely bought this on Kindle on December 9, 2019, but I can no longer find a Kindle or electronic version available. I had no idea how to find an e-book until Robbie Cheadle pointed out that D.L. Cross was a pseudonym for Staci Troilo – and lo and behold! We have a universal book link now! So enjoy, and thanks to Robbie.

Non-Spoiler Review

The premise of the book is as advertised: it’s like the Ancient Aliens TV show meets Stargate. There’s a lot of cool ideas floating around in there, and there’s a lot of pseudoscience and historical research going into it. I didn’t look up everything, but a lot of the stuff had enough “truthiness” to it that I didn’t think it mattered. For example, I didn’t need to find out for myself whether or not there really was a giant snake statue/mound in Ohio – the author’s tone was authoritative enough that I just went ahead and believed it was true in their universe, might even be in our own!

(Mild spoiler?) The captured alien was SO COOL. I love it when you have stories including Cold War sci-fi, and this was chock full of it. There was also an interesting twist about the alien at the end. (End maybe spoiler)

From a premise and idea standpoint, there was a lot to like, and I think it could have been great.

I found 3 major plots – the Tasha/Tomas plot, the Landon plot, and the Nadia/Dev plots – and just couldn’t get into the most important one. My favorite was the Tasha/Tomas plot, because they were often philosophical, political, and emotionally vivid with their interpretation of events. However, the Landon plot was the keystone and centered around the main character, Landon. Landon was a massive coward, and I enjoyed seeing a book focus on a coward (since it’s not common). This plot provided the most background information, and it had a lot of movement. However, it wasn’t my favorite of the plots because the protagonist was not terribly active (which you’ll know I’m not a fan of from my review of Clara). The Landon plot was largely driven by bad guys with unclear motivation (the motivations are probably revealed in a later installment).

Character, however, did make a big difference. The male characters were a little more developed, especially Father Tomas and Landon Thorne. Landon’s cowardice was great, and I just thought Fr. Tomas was the calmest, most focused person in the book – which really made me root for him. It’s pretty much my “thing” to do feminist critiques of EVERY FRIKKIN THING because I accidentally signed up for a feminist lit course in college (they told us it was going to be on monsters in literature – it wasn’t). The female characters were very sexualized and, in my opinion, objectified. So, even though the ladies disappointed me, a lot of the guys made up for it.

Another common plot device was the “we can’t tell you, there’s not enough time!” trope. Never was it so necessary to act so quickly that an explanation could not be forthcoming, and it left me frustrated more often than I was pleasantly surprised later. Many, many books and media make use of this, so it’s not a real problem so much as just a pet peeve of mine.

4/5 Discoball Snowcones

4 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

There were three main threads of plot that I’ll talk about:

  1. Fr. Tomas and Tasha Halpern
    This plot’s main purpose was to interrogate the alien currently held by the government. Fr. Tomas was one of my favorite characters, and he added a lot both thematically and as contrast with other characters. Since Fr. Tomas and Tasha were trying to undo some of the damage done by earlier interrogators, this was the section where you see some of the hints of the past and how the alien is there. However, the solution presented at the end of this was achieved rather suddenly – but the twist (that the alien was linked with Landon) was very good.
  2. Nadia, Dev, Billy, and other randos
    This one had a LOT of characters involved. Nadia was a terrible person – and she did it using sex. Because of the way Nadia used sex, a specific way I just don’t see believable or useful, I couldn’t get behind this plot. Dev’s actions in response to Nadia depended on them having sex, as did most of the rest of the plot, and… I just couldn’t dig it. This was definitely my least favorite of the three subplots.
  3. Landon and the mercs
    Like I said above, Landon wasn’t terribly active. However, there was plenty of excitement to be had. Once the mercs take him to South America, the need to survive and get away from them becomes imperative. Landon and the mercs’ indigenous guides are great characters, and I thought the death of Lorena (one of the guides) provided a lot of motivation for the remainder of the book.

Anyway, I hope you’ll take this review and think about if the book sounds like it’d be your speed!

Next week:

It’s time to start August off right! Stay tuned to find out my new reading theme of the month and sit back for a whirlwind ride.

Book Review: From Ashes to Magic

I found this book because a person I follow, Ari Meghlen, is included in this book as an author. It seems like several Twitter-famous people were involved with this sucker, so let’s see if the most vehemently political and nonsense social media platform knows its stuff!

The Book

48430321._sy475_From Ashes to Magic
Author: Various
2019
Amazon Link

This book is a short story compilation about supernatural beings. I don’t know what it will actually contain from the beginning, but there are 10 stories and/or poems by 10 different authors. I follow Ari Meghlen, but I’ve never read her work before and so was excited.

Non-Spoiler Review

This collection was an absolute mixed bag. Some of the stories I found incredibly creative or gorgeous, but with others I was very confused about and didn’t like at all. There were a few I didn’t feel strongly about.

However, the two stories I liked the most made me feel like the purchase was worth it. I really enjoyed the delicious writing and mythological feel of N. Pan’s “Life and Death,” and the creativity of “The Locksmith” was superb. Those two stories alone made me feel like the book was worth reading, but those two stories weren’t all that made up the selection.

Several of the stories felt incomplete, or more like the first chapter of a longer narrative than something created for a short story collection. I think people did things like this back in the Golden Age of sci-fi and short story compilations, but it irks me and I dislike unfinished shorts.

Something else I found odd was that this compilation may just as well have been about witches (or witches with a different title). A full half the stories either had witches or closely involved witches within their storylines, and two of the remaining five involved half-demons/devils. The other three beings were gods, a vampire, and a ghost. The book is billed as an array of magical creatures, but the variety was limited and all were humanoid.

Lastly, some editing could have helped. There were several immersion-breaking mistakes that another once-over by the editor should have caught.

3/5 Discoball Snowcones

3 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

For compilations and chapbooks, I like to talk about a selection of 3 stories: my favorite, a standout, and my least favorite.

Favorite: Life and Death, N. Pan
Beautifully written poem about the birth, experiences, and strifes between siblings Life and Death. The entire thing flows with a gorgeous cadence, and a sad, longing ballad builds to a religiously-tinged story of two gods’ fall.

Standout: The Locksmith, A. Meghlen
One of the most creative stories in the book, The Locksmith’s magical creature was actually a non-magical person in a highly magical world. Though there were wizards and sorcerers and the like in this story, all the tropes were turned on their heads in a tale with a great plot.

Least Favorite: Broken Promises, E. Chartres
The vast majority of this story was descriptions of running through different scenes and two people saying “You promised,” “I promised.” Then, right at the end, the main character suddenly eats two people, reveals she’s a vampire, and becomes evil. I found the story clunky from a plot perspective, the characters impossible to parse, and the prose difficult to read.

Next week:

I’ll be reviewing another Twitter-found story, The Gate, which is part of a series and published by an indie publisher (I think). Stay tuned!

Book Review: Through the Nethergate

I was eagerly awaiting this novel’s arrival since Cheadle announced it on her blog. Then, one day, I saw the announcement – it was on Amazon, and thus I could get it! So I went and bought it.

The Book

41umochifzlThrough the Nethergate
Author: Roberta Eaton Cheadle
2019
Amazon Link

This novel was billed as a paranormal horror about a young girl – Margaret – who is flung into a horrifying experience with ghosts, monsters, and historical people. By the existence of Heaven and Hell as mentioned in the blurb, I expect there’s some Christian mythology involved, but that doesn’t bother me! Tally ho!

Non-Spoiler Review

Fantastically researched. Spooky as hell. I’ve never had to put a book down because I was too freaked out, but now I have. If you want to know more about some really horrible people and horrible circumstances, this book is full of them.

Something strange about this book that I rather enjoyed but which might not appeal to everyone was the piles of stories about the ghosts and “incarnates”. Many ghosts or groups of ghosts had a story behind them, and Cheadle put together a well-researched summary of their lives and why their souls were trapped on Earth or in Hell. In effect, this book often felt like a compilation of historical stories, but that was right up my alley. There was also not as much dialogue as you might expect in a novel, but a lot of it was tied into this historicity.

That’s not saying that the overall plot wasn’t good – it was definitely good – but it wove more like a thread into and between all these other stories. It held everything else together like a glue. The main premise – that ghosts gained bodies when they were around Margaret – was also a lot of fun. Margaret wasn’t overpowered, so the stress you feel at failures and difficulties was very worthwhile.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

5 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

The main thing I’d like to talk about in the spoilers review is the role of Margaret. Though she was a main character who has things happen to her rather than drive the story on her own, and though I usually rip a book and take off a snowcone for it, Cheadle did a good job with it. Though Margaret was the focal point, other characters’ points of view were used well. The changing protagonists gave a good view of the overall problems and challenges, and it didn’t feel like Margaret had to be the main character. I thought it worked.

I was, however, a little confused why Lucifer became the main villain about halfway through. The ghost Hugh Bigod was a great villain, and I was into it. Though Lucifer was also a good villain and was definitely a more difficult foe, I wasn’t sure I liked that switch. It worked out, but my investment in Bigod’s story felt like it just kind of evaporated.

Still, that opened up to awful, awful (and spooky!) things like the story of Amelia Dyer. That was freaky stuff, and I’ll never forget that part.

Next week:

Next week, I’ll be reading the short story compilation, Ashes to Magic! It’s got a lot of Twitter-Famous people in it, so stay tuned!

Reading List – July 2020

This is my third of four Indie Book Months in 2020!

Through the Nethergate – Roberta Cheadle

41umochifzlRoberta Cheadle announced the publication of her paranormal novel on her blog, and I was instantly stoked. I like a lot of what she posts on her blog, and I know her research is spot-on fantastic. I have been looking forward to reading this for quite a while now, so let’s hop in!

Amazon LinkThough Cheadle has made other purchase options available

From Ashes to Magic – Various, Edited by Mikki Noble

48430321._sy475_

I follow Ari Meghlen on Twitter and WordPress, and she announced that she was taking part of this series. It’s about various magical creatures and creative interpretations of their lives, struggles, existences, and relationships, and I thought that would be a great way to get introduced to a lot of authors! Haven’t tried a “various authors” short story collection yet!

Amazon Link

The Gate – D.L. Cross

45946171Sometimes, I’ll surf around Twitter and look at books people have up for sale. This one attracted my attention because it’s a science fiction novel that contains archaeology, promises twists, and seems like it will probably have a humorous element to it. I’m excited to see if I chose something well!

Amazon Link

The Leftovers: Something from YOU?

Do you have a published book and a method of purchasing it that isn’t sketch as hell?  I filled my slots this year using Twitter, but I’m always looking for new indie books to review. I buy books I review because I don’t want to be beholden to anyone.

See my old reviews here

Book Review: The Sound and the Fury

This is my 2020 “Southern Month,” and I would be remiss if I didn’t review anything from one of the South’s greatest writers. William Faulkner is renowned for his dark, Southern stream of consciousness, and I’m willing to brave that combo right here, right now.

The Book

51uoptbnrglThe Sound and the Fury
Author: William Faulkner
1928
Amazon Link

I read A Rose for Emily in high school and just simply loved it. Faulkner’s Southern Gothic short story has been a major inspiration for me as a writer, and I strive to have such a deep sense of culture, history, and character in any of my works. Because of this, I decided to try something of Faulkner’s that was somewhat more difficult.

Fair warning, though: This book contained the n-word. A lot. Like a LOT a lot. It made me uncomfortable because I’m a damn millennial, but I will say that the whites who used it the most weren’t supposed to be well-liked.

Review ***Contains Spoilers***

I was rather confused by this book and have no idea if there was an actual plot. That’s part of why I can’t do a non-spoilers review: I can’t figure out what parts I shouldn’t talk about. I can guarantee I won’t read it again, but please stick around for the rest of the review because I think this will be more complex than “I didn’t like it.”

Even though I couldn’t really put together a clear plot beyond “everything falls to crap for these people,” there were a few painfully Southern themes here. One was honor; by attempting to uphold the extremely strict Southern honor, many of the main characters hurt themselves. Caroline, the mother in the book, feels a dishonorable lady for marrying below her station and having a child with a severe learning disability, which leads her to hypochondria and depression. Quentin and Jason feel dishonored by their sister Caddy’s promiscuity, leading Quentin to suicide and Jason to extreme hardness toward Caddy’s daughter, also named Quentin. The Compsons repeatedly try to abuse the people of color in the book in order to feel greater than they really are, and it’s clear that part of their downfall is in their cruelty.

The presence of Southern honor was especially important for me as I imagined the book as allegorical for the Antebellum South, the Confederacy, and the Reconstruction South. The Antebellum – when all the kids were young – was relatively peaceful but filled with tension about to snap. The Confederacy – when everyone was dealing with Caddy’s fling and unintended pregnancy – was hard, filled with death, and brought about ruin. The Reconstruction – the part wherein Jason dealt with young Quentin’s thievery and the people of color become more prominent in the story – was filled with anger, strife, and loss of faith. As an allegory for the South, I thought the story was great.

Still, the stream of consciousness was hard, and section 2 was nearly impossible to sift through.

1/5 Discoball Snowcones

1 Discoball Snowcones

Next week:

Stay tuned for a special surprise in a 5-Monday month! 🙂

Book Review: The Underground Railroad

This is my Southern Month here on the blog, and that means historical fiction abounds! This book comes highly recommended by a ton of people, and I think it seems to have some complex elements similar to Homer’s Odyssey or Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

The Book

61xxtnxlc7l._sx342_The Underground Railroad
Author: Colson Whitehead
2016
Amazon Link

I had a couple books lined up to read for my “Southern Month,” and I realized both of them focused on white people. I know, as do all of you, that the South is far more complex than just the white perspective can give.

I’ve seen around the interwebs that The Underground Railroad contains magical realism and fantasy speculative elements, which even further puts it in the wheelhouse I tend to go for. I’m excited to read this and hoping it’s not too rapey for my tastes (white men weren’t very nice to black women back in the day, and the main character is female).

Non-Spoiler Review

I thought this book was extremely heady. The metaphors in the book are bold, obvious, and deep, and without that special kind of literary interpretation I think it would be too confusing and random to understand. Even so, a plot is present, and I think most Americans – especially Southerners – would be able to appreciate the metaphors.

I was first convinced of the metaphors, however, when I saw something in the book that was anachronistic. I thought, “What the heck that’s not possible in the 19th century.” I realized, after reading a bit further, that much of the out-of-time feeling and the otherworldliness plays into the author’s artistic representation of black history. So, before you start reading, make allowances for supposed “historical inaccuracies.”

The sense of setting is very important in this book, and I think Whitehead did a brilliant job painting the pictures of each State and station Cora stopped at. He used color, scent, and material imagery to great effect.

However, I wasn’t so sure about Cora as a character. She felt kind of blank slate, that kind of blank slate where the author wants you to take up her mantle and put yourself into her shoes. I think it works most of the time, but sometimes it feels too much like you’re pinned to a railroad track and forced to watch something without the ability to act. Perhaps that’s part of the intent – to make you feel trapped, imprisoned, like a slave – but I think it may have done more to distance me from Cora than to feel for her.

4/5 Discoball Snowcones (but would do 4.5 if that were an option)

4 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

After I read the book, I looked up the metaphors to make sure I’d interpreted it correctly, and I think I was close to right. The NY Times said that each state represented a different possible future for people of color in America, but when I read it, I saw each state as representative of a different horror already inflicted upon them, and most of them since the end of American slavery.

In South Carolina, Cora was confronted with doctors who wanted to sterilize her and the other people of color, especially those who were mentally ill or otherwise indisposed. They also did experiments with syphilis and how it spread. These were experiments carried out in real life, and that freaking sucks. The South Carolina chapter made me stay on the lookout for a real-life tragedy represented in the rest of the states Cora traveled through.

In North Carolina, the black people were killed so they wouldn’t be in the way. Their culture was appropriated using blackface and through the white community stealing their songs. I thought this was representative of many movements in the 1920’s, especially the horrors perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan – wherein they brutally murdered a lot of black people just to get rid of them – and the perception that a white person in blackface was a better acting choice than a person of the represented race. I thought it also had hints of holocaust about it, and Cora’s experiences did remind me of Anne Frank’s Diary.

I never really understood Tennessee, but my best guess was that it was about gang violence, white flight, and unenforced segregation. I thought this because there was this ever-looming cloud of fire, blood, and violence that it seemed the white people just ignored because it “wasn’t affecting them.” I think this link is my weakest, but I’m happy to entertain other theories.

To me, Indiana represented things like the Tulsa Race Massacre and the Birmingham Church Bombing. It was really freaking intense.

Anyway, the ending was weird and left off on either a REAL downer or a bit of hope. If hopeful, Cora can keep running in effort to find true freedom. If a downer, she died in Indiana while fighting the slave catcher and even in death she’s still running from slavery to the white man.

So yeah, it’s a real… roller coaster (pun, lol).

Next week:

We’re going to be reading Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, widely regarded as an extremely artful piece of Southern writing. Join me then!

Book Review: Gone With The Wind

Enjoy my first review from what I’m deeming my “Southern Month.” As a good Southerner, I should have read Gone With the Wind way before now, but I hadn’t. So here’s to my efforts to rectify this travesty.

The Book

p5094_v_v8_aiGone With The Wind
Author: Margaret Mitchell
1936
Amazon Link

Oh, uh, the Amazon link above won’t give you a cover like the one you see to the right… it’ll give you something I don’t quite feel comfortable being the featured picture on the reader. You get the movie’s picture instead.

Something I will be accounting for in this review is the controversial portrayal of slavery. Sometimes I read a book and, even though it’s old, will complain about the author’s obviously flawed sensibilities. I’ll try to keep the time period in mind, but I won’t hold back punches if they need to be made!

Non-Spoiler Review

Ok, first off: WOW. I see why this book was one of the top-selling books of all time. Holy crap is it well constructed. Though it’s enormous (418,000 words, approximately 1,000 pages), it went amazingly fast. The sentences were masterfully gorgeous (though she didn’t use the Oxford comma, which nearly killed me), and her characters were as rich as chocolate cake.

As someone who didn’t know what to expect going in, I had no idea that Scarlett was such a scamp. She was horrible, but she was strong, determined, and smart. Scarlett was a great female character to read because she never really gives up her femininity, but she works and succeeds in a man’s world. It shows both a wonderful side to her, but also the horrifyingly evil side. I’ve never read a book with a character built like her before. For this reason, I’d say Gone with the Wind is worth reading as long as you take it with a big ol’ grain of salt.

Because WOW. Holy crap is this book racist. It’s a damn shame it’s so racist, because the book as a whole is fantastically built. It’s racist in both casual and overt manners. Even though I believe Gone with the Wind is worth reading, I also recognize that it might not be worth it for everyone, and I don’t believe it should be required reading for, say, high schoolers. If you do want to read the book, be careful, because the sheer, stupid amounts of racist comments are numerous and spread throughout. Read it for the fantastically built plot and character of Scarlett O’Hara, but criticize it in all your heart for its terrible, inaccurate depictions of slavery and life in the segregated South.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones – because I loved it despite the egregious errors

5 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

I think this book could be considered a tragedy. Scarlett works hard to get through awful events during and after the war, so you kind of rooted for her even though she hated everyone including her children. I enjoyed how Mitchell wove in careful ideas about how women’s lives were made harder by their being blamed for their own rapes/assaults, and how that blame carried over into larger events like Klan lynchings. Perhaps I’m reading this into the story due to my millennial age status, but I thought it was very clear.

The foils between Scarlett and Rhett vs. Melanie and Ashley were so well done. Scarlett and Rhett were intelligent and heartless, while the other two were all heart with no intelligence. Despite Scarlett’s hardness and Melanie’s apparent weakness, by the end of the book it’s clear that Melanie was truly the stronger one all along. In addition to the cleverly built Scarlett, Melanie was such a fantastic foil to go along with that salacious hussy of a main character.

The ending was also perfectly vague. Will Scarlett get Rhett back? Will she use his money to keep being successful? Will she ever like either of her still-living children or Melanie’s “brat”?

I believe she will. She’s not failed at anything else she’s set her mind to, so why assume she won’t succeed when the book ended?

Next week:

Stick around for a story with more Southern flavor, this time from a non-white perspective! I’m excited to present my review of Oprah favorite, The Underground Railroad.

Reading List – June 2020

Everyone knows that I’m a southerner deep down (and on the surface). This month, as summer flares up, I’m reading a collection of Southern works to get that hot blood pumping.

Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell

p5094_v_v8_ai

Last year, I counted up some of the books on Amazon’s 100 books to read before you die. This book was on there, and I was like, “AAAGH, HOW CAN I CALL MYSELF SOUTHERN I HAVEN’T READ IT.” So I dedicated some time to get this book read. I need to imbibe the controversial portrayals and understand why this book (and movie!) are so damn important.

Warning: The current Amazon cover is pretty terrible, so any pictures you see aren’t the ones you’ll get if you search it on Ye Olde but Infinite Book Site. Just wanted to warn you.

The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead

61xxtnxlc7l._sx342_

I know that Gone With the Wind has some really questionable portrayals of slavery in it. I also know that the other book on this list is about white people, and I think it such a travesty that Southern or American often conjures images of whites in people’s heads. With that in mind, I selected a book written by and focusing on a person of color. It contains elements of magical realism and is extremely well-recommended by a horde of people out there. I’m hoping this book, from a different perspective than that in Gone With the Wind, will add elements of flavor and excitement to this month.

The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner

51uoptbnrgl

I’ve only read Faulkner’s short story A Rose for Emily before and have never ventured into his more substantial works. A Rose happens to be one of the most influential works on my writing, and I have long found it an absolute travesty that I’ve never tried to read more of Faulkner’s work. So here’s to rectifying that mistake and to learning more about an author I’ve wanted to delve into several times before.

The Leftovers: A Bonus Review!?

This is a 5-Monday month, so stay tuned for an end-of-the-month mystery post!

See my old reviews here

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice

Last year, I did a little survey whimmajig about the 100 books to read before you die. I decided to make a dent in that.

One book EVERYONE seems to have read in high school that I completely missed was Pride and Prejudice. My high school was weird, so that’s my excuse.

The Book

prideprejudice423x630Pride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen
1816
Project Gutenberg Link

I got my copy of this book from the library. It’ll be my second true romance book, but I think it was published too long ago to be sordid or contain many instances of the word ‘cock,’ so I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to be expecting here. I know that many consider Mr. Darcy to be swoon-worthy, but I’m not sure why yet.  Let’s find out!

Non-Spoiler Review

I’m still not a romance person, so this book probably wasn’t the kind I’d read for my own enjoyment. Even so, I found it often witty and always passably good. One line I think I laughed aloud at was when a woman set out to “accidentally run into him [her beau].” I thought that was pretty witty, and it made me feel more connected to this time frame.

Front and center was the ridiculousness of much English pre-Victorian niceties. The ideas of inheritance presented here seemed stupid to me, when Mr. Bennet had at least 2 rather capable daughters who could have easily dealt with everything. I had quite the time figuring out what it meant to be entailed, and I’m still not 100% sure I’ve got that concept right. Either way, my favorite part of this book was learning more about English customs at the time.

Also interesting to me was the main character. I didn’t expect to like Elizabeth so much, but I did. It was interesting, I thought, to have a book from this period with such a feminine focus. The men felt more like forces, almost like weather, and the wiles and whims of the ladies all that mattered. I didn’t know books like this existed so long ago, and I found this one to be strangely feminist. The characters were definitely exploited and considered – sometimes in a very straightforward manner – to be inferior to their husbands or other males, but the women were often the only characters that felt three dimensional. It was really a bizarre experience.

Overall, this was far better than I expected it would be.

4/5 Discoball Snowcones

4 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

Dare I need a spoilers review?

Maybe – I didn’t know what the climax would be before I read the book, though I was aware that the goal was to get Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy together. You may disagree, but I thought Lydia’s engagement to Wickham was such a nice climax/twist. Right when Elizabeth figured out that Wickham was wicked (lol, the alliteration), her younger sister fell into his trap! There was a lot of focus on the value of female purity and virginity in those passages, but it was still a shocking event.  Well played, Austen, well played.

I also liked how much of the book was about Elizabeth’s perceptions of Mr. Darcy. Who he really was didn’t matter so much as who she thought he was, and it was intriguing to see that perception change. I almost felt like my perceptions changed with hers, and it was so weird! Sleuthy Elizabeth was such a delight.

Even so, I found the ending where Elizabeth finally said yes to Mr. Darcy’s proposal to be… cliche. It might not have been at the time, but I found it a bit groan-worthy. Even though Elizabeth knew him to be honorable, kind, and generous, I still didn’t think they’d spent enough actual time together to make a good guess on their match.

Next week:

We’ll be jumping into a new month and new theme! I’m really excited about this next one, so be sure to stick around!