Wednesday, June 16, 2010

North and South

I loved this book! It's probably second to Evelina for favorite book read this year. Aside from the really great romance story, this book explores differences in culture between the north and south of England, class differences, and differences between life in an industrial town and life in the country. Unlike Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell goes into the lives of the servant and working classes, which I found very interesting. My only complaint is that the ending was very sudden. I really wanted more! I've heard that there's a good movie based on the book, so I plan on heading over to the library website to see if I can find it.


When Masterpiece Theater aired a new film version of Emma this last January it made me want to read the book again after watching it. Unfortunately, my Austen books were in storage (it was sooo depressing to have all my books in storage!). Now of course, my books are all out and after buying my Emma DVD (I love the new movie; definitely recommend it to all Austen fans) I was finally able to read it. Emma is not my favorite Austen book, but that's not too much of an insult because I love all of Austen's novels. I think there's something about an Austen film adaptation that completes the enjoyment for me, though. Jane Austen is notorious for her sparse romantic details (proposals summed up in short third-person sentences, important conversations/looks etc... glossed over, NO kissing or other physical contact described), and so I love watching the movies because they fill in those gaps.

I think one of the reason Austen's novels are so popular is because so much is left to the imagination. The plots are fabulous, but the details are sparse, leaving readers to create their own perfect love story in their minds. I am an Austen enthusiast, though, so maybe I'm a bit biased, but I think she's a genius.

39 clues catch-up

Since it doesn't take me long to read these books, I decided to wait until a few more came out and catch-up on them. I read 6, 7, and 8 and there are only two more left! The 9th is actually out and I have a hold on it at the library, but there's a long line, so I'll probably have to wait. These books continue to be what they started out as... fun, adventurous, mysterious... but not spectacular. The plot does continue to thicken, but I'm ready to know how it ends and move on. I think these books are great for kids, though (both boys and girls, which is nice), and I definitely recommend them to people who are looking for books for their kids (ages 8 or so on up, depending on the maturity of the kid - there are some scary/intense moments).

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

Yes, I'm a twilight fan, but I wasn't really sure what to think when Stephenie announced the release of this novella. Is she just cashing in on her wild success? Will it actually add anything to the story? Will the writing be any good or will it be rubbish? Well, I read it this afternoon (didn't take too long, it's quite short) and if you're interested it's available online here for a short time. I read it online, because I wasn't sure I wanted to own it. Now that I've finished it, I'm pretty sure I will want to buy it, if for nothing but to put its pretty matching cover up on my bookshelf with Stephenie's other books. :D

So...I think it does add something to the story. But not much. My biggest problem with this book is that it's a vampire book. "But aren't all Twilight books vampire books?" you ask? Well, not really. The Twilight series doesn't much go into the gory aspects of non-vegetarian vampires, but Bree does. There were way too many descriptions of Bree gorging on human blood without feeling a bit of remorse. Yuck.

Other than that, the story is short and boring and the romance is practically non-existent. I never felt like I really got invested in Bree as a character (or Diego for that matter). There's one great character named Fred that's introduced, and there are some worthwhile moments at the end when the Cullens show up. There's a short mental communication between Bree and Edward that I particularly thought added to the story. Other than that, not much to say. We all know how it ends.

If you're a Twilight fan, I recommend reading it online, unless you're like me and have an obsession with owning completed sets. :D

The Red Pyramid

I was very excited to start a new series by Rick Riordan, as I'm a huge fan of his Percy Jackson books. This new series is based on Egyptian mythology (another favorite of mine) and this first book is a great start to a new adventure. I really enjoyed the whole ride. I have a feeling that this series is a little more serious and heavy and a little less fun that the Percy books, but Egyptian mythology is by nature more serious than Greek. It suits me just fine, so I'm not complaining, just saying. The book had all of Rick's signature traits, though, from clever chapter titles to great dialogue to fantastically described action sequences. He really makes this mythology come alive and makes it more accessible for kids, teens, and adults to understand. I'm really looking forward to the next book in the series!

My Antonia

I read this for one of my classes this semester and several people prepared me for it, telling me it was the most boring book they'd ever read. I don't know, but I think a couple of semesters of studying literature have prepared me to actually like this book. I'm pretty sure if I'd read it before I started school, I would have found it more boring. As it was, I thought it was beautifully descriptive and full of all sorts of cool symbolisms and ironies. I read with the intent to write a 4 page paper on it from a feminist point of view, so I spent most of my time looking for where this book portrays female stereotypes. While it does have some strong female stereotypes, I'm not really a feminist myself so I actually really agreed with the portrayal of women in this book. Anyway, this book has some great features, if you're in the mood for 20th century immigrant literature taking place on the Nebraska plain (a place I happen to feel a connection to).