Third Time’s the Charm (A review of Pride and Prejudice years in the making)

I’ve always been slightly ashamed of never having read a book as well known as Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice. Whether you have read it or not, its fame is obvious from the slew of remakes and parodies on the internet and in literature as a whole.

My first attempt to read the novel was at some point in middle school. At this time, my reading taste was limited to girly YA novels with happy-go-lucky endings and whatever my teen librarian recommended we read each month for book club. (Which by the way, I was the only female member of, and then eventually the only member of at all.) So P & P seemed like something I would read, if I had the brain for it.

I got through a few pages and then set it down, thinking to myself how impossibly boring and abstruse the text was. “People read this, how?” was all I could think.

The second time was less than a year ago. I really wanted to try it, and like it, so yet again I sat and attempted to beat my middle school Pride and Prejudice record. Nada. I felt like giving up on it forever. Until I started my current literature course.

A bad literature teacher or professor can make every book seem like generic brand cereal. A good one, however, can make the most banal of details an hour long discussion topic into which the class is fervently engaged. Luckily, I have a great professor. So great, in fact, that I’ve declared myself a literature major.

This professor happened to assign us Pride and Prejudice as our third novel in the semester. My first thoughts were a mix of how the devil was now coming back (You again!?!) and how I would finally finish this novel. I had to. It was for an assignment.

I was so happy upon finishing it I even took it right to Twitter at that moment.

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 1.30.10 PM

OK, enough about me and my snail book-finishing pace. Let’s hear what I actually thought of Pride and Prejudice.

Part of what increased my appreciation for this classic novel was context. Having studied it for a literature course, we read novels chronologically, in the order they were published. So prior to reading Austen’s novel, we read The Coquette by Hannah Webster Foster. We discussed how this novel may have been one of the reasons for the soon-to-come women’s suffrage movement, after having been a bestseller for 50 years. (Can you imagine that in modern times? When was the last time a book was a bestseller for 50 years!?) Pride and Prejudice tells a similar story, yes, but with a dramatically different ending that preaches a different, even more empowering message.

Friends, Pride and Prejudice is not the fluffy, junky romance novel my previous, young self thought it was. Pride and Prejudice is the story of a woman who thinks for herself and gets what she wants as a result. Compare Elizabeth to her sisters and their different marriages and you’ll discover marriages based purely on “but darling, he’s rich! Marry him for money!”, marriages based on desire, and marriages based on both, and the various outcomes for them. The happiest marriages were the ones based on more than just someone’s wealth; the ones based on what you actually think and feel for each other.  For the time period, this novel, and especially The Coquette, were incredibly revolutionary.

So for me, I read Pride and Prejudice not for the plot itself, but for the message, for what the novel accomplished. Pride and Prejudice also represents the introduction of the third person narrator (a huge invention!) into literature, rather than using the epistolary form. (Gosh, say Pride and Prejudice ten times fast. Could I say that phrase any more times during this post?!)

And if Pride and Prejudice (!) is still bland for you, you can always check out Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, whose movie trailer just debuted this week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAChymiQC-o

So, now that I have officially read Pride and Prejudice, we can have discussions about it! Have you read it? What did you think? Join me in the comments below!

Advertisements

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone- first time reader discussion!

Friends, the day has come. I have finally (FINALLY!) read the first Harry Potter book. I know, I know. It’s insane. Hold your tears and applause until the end please, we have much to discuss.

In case there are other people reading this who like me (well, like the previous me) have not yet dipped their toes into the wizarding world of Harry Potter, I’m going to keep this discussion spoiler-free and to the book.

The Characters
I’ve seen several of the Harry Potter movies over the years. I knew Ron was the redhead, Hermione was played by Emma Watson, Harry Potter by Daniel Radcliffe. I knew that Voldemort was not someone to invite to your child’s birthday party, no matter how cool of a talent show he might be able to put on. There are still some Harry Potter characters I have yet to meet, though- a coworker was trying to show me a little girl who apparently looks exactly like a younger version of Luna Lovegood and until she begged me to look at a photo I had no idea who she was talking about.

This basic knowledge was enough to carry me into the book. I remember loving Hermione in the movies, but I was really rooting for her in the book. She’s “goals” really, wicked smart, friendly, and loyal to her friends. And of course there’s Harry, who you can’t help but pity as he lives in a cupboard. I’m incredibly thankful my parents are not the Dursleys and I promise my future children will not be named Dudley. Sorry guys, it’s just not happening. Yes, I know it’s a FANTASTIC name. (And if your real name is Dudley then I apologize for Dudley Dursley’s correlation to you. You are much cooler than he!)

Reading the book also instilled in me a love for both Hagrid and Dumbledore. I just love how each and every character in this book is distinct and memorable; there are no characters that are just carbon copies of one another and totally useless to the plot of the story.

The Plot
Great plot twist. Seriously, Ms. Rowling, that came out of nowhere. I feel almost foolish for not expecting it, but I was so enthralled with the world of the book that it just never occurred to me that you might be tricky and pull something on me.

As for the rest of the plot, the world unfolded so nicely. You can almost picture the map of Hogwarts in your head; you know why you shouldn’t have a picnic on the third floor. Every plot point helped sew this world together, whether characters played Quidditch, did some exploring, or feasted in the dining hall. (Speaking of Quidditch, I am much wishing my college had a Quidditch team. My friend is going to try out for hers, and given I didn’t know Quidditch, sans levitating brooms of course, was an actual, playable sport nowadays.)

HP #1 is the first juvenile/children ‘s book I’ve read since, well, I was a child. At first, the language took a little getting used to (younger audience means slightly less difficult sentences) but there is absolutely no reason a teenager or adult can’t enjoy a book like Harry Potter. I’ve heard some shaming of people who read YA or kid’s lit, and it’s sickening. (“Blah blah doesn’t read, they just read comics and Harry Potter!”) I’m sure reading Pride and Prejudice would expand your vocabulary and challenge your mind, but reading shouldn’t be about challenging yourself. Reading can be and should be FUN. Why don’t all kids like to read? Perhaps because they are being taught it isn’t fun. Comics and graphic novels ARE reading. If you want to read YA or Harry Potter, go right ahead. Don’t let people tell you what you like to read doesn’t matter or is worthless. It all counts for something, and you can be incredibly proud of that.

In closing, when did you first read Harry Potter, if at all? Did you read the books before the movies? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂

Follow me @books_palettes for sneak peeks, musings, and more! My avatar image is from “Jen Loves Teaching.”

Review: Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

image

Image from Goodreads

My Synopsis
In this charming coming-of-age story, Willow Chance finds that she is a unique individual. In fact, her school counselor Dell dubs her a “genius.” But one day, she discovers both her parents have died in a car accident while she is in school and her life turns upside down. In this story of friendship and new beginnings, Willow begins to start her new life with a new family while awaiting the ultimate custody decision.

7 Things you should know about this book:
– 7 is a really important number to Willow!
– At 370 pages and some change, it isn’t the shortest book around, but it is certainly a page-turner.
– You may start to want to learn Vietnamese after reading this book!
– Willow may be a genius, but the book is written in simple, easy-to-read language
– This book is not inappropriate by any means so even younger teens could read it. However, I think adults would enjoy this too.
– The book is narrated in the first person, but Willow is so observant it seems almost like third person at times,
– The author is actually a movie director!

What I didn’t love?
– The ending was satisfying and surprising, but I didn’t know how well-thought out the explanation for the decision was. I’ll leave it at that.
– Not that much stuff happens outside of what I described in the synopsis, but that’s not to be unexpected from a realistic fiction YA novel.

7 words I’d use to describe this book
– heartwarming
– realistic
– charming
– funny
– coming-of-age
– original
– unexpected

It’s officially fall here in my neck of the woods, which means the temperature has been dropping! (The car actually feels like an icebox in the morning! Brr!) Who doesn’t need a heartwarming book and a heartwarming hot chocolate during this time of year? 😉

It would have been cute if this was my 7th review but fortunately I’m past that benchmark!

Have you read Counting by 7s? What do you think of it? Let me know in the comments below!

Follow me @books_palettes for sneak peeks, musings, and more! My avatar image is from “Jen Loves Teaching.”

Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

image

Ignore the spray bottle of water, haha!

My Synopsis
Main character Thomas wakes up in a place called the Glade, surrounded by a large maze with no clue how he got there and where he was before. All he sees is a community of boys who have also woken up in this maze, and hears strange phrases and jargon. As it turns out, there are many things to fear in this maze. Ugly creatures with the intent of harming or killing anyone who comes near, and doors that close shut at night and trap you inside with these creatures. Is there a way out? How and why are all these people here?

I have mixed feelings about this one. I wanted to love it from the start, but for some reason it gave me a bit if a headache at points.

First we have Thomas. When I checked out the book, the girl at the desk said she stopped halfway through because she found Thomas almost whinier than Holden Caulfield. Thomas can be whiny, but not as much as the infamous Catcher in the Rye character. I sort of understood Thomas. After all, I would probably ask a million questions too if I were in his shoes. So no, he isn’t really that whiny.

As for plot, there are plenty of things that happened. Some of it gross, but entertaining enough to keep you going. I like how the whole book is sort of a mystery without being a mystery genre book. You have si many questions and despite what you think of the chapters you are/reading, you must plow on. What on earth is this maze?!? is all you think.

But, as a squeemish person I wonder what I would even think of the movie. Do I want to know what the Grievers (the ugly bug creatures in the Maze) look like?

This is a nice series for those of you are post-apocalyptic junkies. It’s a breath of fresh air from the same old Divergent and Hunger Games. Plus, there is no romance, which some of you may consider a plus. Of course, I haven’t read the other books yet, so I can’t speak for the whole series, or the movie for that matter.

A final reason to read this book of it interests you is the movie. I can’t watch a film if I didn’t read the book, unless I didn’t know it was a book when I first watched it. Here is the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64-iSYVmMVY&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Have you read The Maze Runner? Are you going to see the movie? Discuss in the comments!

Follow me @books_palettes for sneak peeks, musings, and more! My avatar image is from “Jen Loves Teaching.”

Bout of Books Day 4 Recap

Today was a slow reading day, sadly.

Pages read: 83, The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Books finished: 0

I guess The Maze Runner just isn’t doing it for me as much as I hoped. I mean it’s good and has a lot of action, but I don’t find myself yearning to read it as much as other books I’ve read recently. Someone told me the main character is whinier than Holden Caulfield. I can kind of see that.

Bout of books goal: 3 books
Books finished so far: 3

But hey, there are still a few more days left of the readathon. We can do this!

Follow me @books_palettes for sneak peeks, musings, and more! My avatar image is from “Jen Loves Teaching.”

Bout of Books 11.0 TBR!

You guys, this is crazy. Do you see this mess?

image

Do you know what this massively ambitious pile means? It’s Bout of Books 11 time.

image

I do not expect to read all of these books in one week. Even half of them would be an accomplishment, especially since I’ll be on vacation that week. I figured I’d check out a lot of books so I would have an array of options to choose from and encourage me to keep reading.

image

I am extremely excited to read We Were Liars. It’s been on my TBR list for what feels like forever and I thought it’d be the perfect summery readathon book. Mind Games and Perfect Lies are also a short duology I might be able to finish. I have The Symptoms of My Insanity laying around and I would also love to read it.

image

I have to read Old School for summer reading so I’d better read that. I want to read Waterfell since I saw the sequel cane our recently and I can’t read the second book before the first! The Beautiful and the Cursed is another book that has been on my TBR list for quite some time.

And then Maze Runner, which will be a movie soon and so I can’t wait to read it!

Because I will be reading several books, expect several reviews after the readathon! I’m sorry for the lack of the reviews lately but that is because I am trying to save my reading for next week 🙂

Follow me @books_palettes for sneak peeks, musings, and more! My avatar image is from “Jen Loves Teaching.”