Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Holy Camoly! I Read So Many Classics in February!

     So maybe people don't say holy camoly anymore. Too bad. I do. For some reason in my childhood I picked up loads of outdated phrases that I've continued to use to this day like oh shucks!, Geez Louis, nice goin' Melvin (from a Detroit Zoo commercial when my dad was a kid), and numerous others. But I like them so I'll keep saying them. :)
     Now to the point. This last month I read a 19 books. One was a kid book and quite a few mangas, but they still totally count as books... right? ;) The main focus though is that I read 10 classics this month! That's a huge jump from January's lonely Treasure Island, the only classic I read that month. Of course, I had been reading a few massive classics that month which I finished this month. All right, I only finished one seeing as the other was Les Miserables, and I did not finish reading that this month. In fact, I barely picked it up. As for the books I did read, I am so excited to share them with you!

Quidditch Through the Ages by J.K. Rowling- I decided to read this real quick one night, didn't even pick it up until midnight! Then later that week I found out it was a Harry Potter marathon week. How awesome that I got a head start without even knowing it. :) (though I didn't end up reading much Harry Potter haha)

Emma by Jane Austen- I absolutely loved this book! For years I have avoided hearing anything about who ends up with who in this Austen classic. I must admit that despite my efforts some names trinkled down. Mr. Knightley and Emma, two main characters. Even with only a few known details I managed to guess a lot of what would happen early on in the book. It was so much fun to read this book. Especially because I was going to go from Pride and Prejudice to Sense and Sensibility to Mansfield Park. However, getting to Mansfield Park I just couldn't get into it at the time. Picking up Emma, however, was so wonderful and beautifully written, as always by our dear Jane Austen.
P.S. The Harry Potter marathon really prompted me to finish this book in the first week of February since I figured that it connected so much to Harry Potter, being J.K. Rowling's favorite book and model, that I ought to read it quickly.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen- Finishing Emma the first Thursday of the month I was in such a Jane Austen mood that less than an hour later I picked up Northanger Abbey! I read for a few hours, put it down to go to bed, woke up, and immediately picked it back up again. I loved reading all Austen's opinionated rants that filled a page here and a page there. Quite different from the other novels I've read by her. I loved this one just as much though! While reading this book I developed a queer habit, capable because the book was quite small and therefore light, that I would pace about my room whilst reading this book. It certainly added to the excitement of the novel! After all that Austen in February, I am so excited to read the last two books by her!

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky- I will admit that I started this one way back in October, read everything but the last 150 pages, and didn't pick it up again due to the holidays. However, after adding two more books to my "have read" pile, I was feeling the motivation to plow through the rest of this amazing classic. I must also admit that before I read this book I thought it would be quite the punishment (haha okay not that funny of a pun, bare with me). I thought this book would be one of those hard to read and hard to understand classics. You can imagine my surprise at finding it so easily read and engaging! I was pulled into the story quickly, and I loved that I could actually notice the literary devices being used, especially the foreshadowing! I really enjoyed Dostoevsky's writing and just picked up Brothers Karamazov to read this year.

Leon and the Place Between by Angela McAllister and illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith- This one's the childrens book. I read quite a few kids books, but I've only counted this one in my personal reading since I picked it up just for me. I loved the illustrations and the story was so cute about a boy that believes in magic and travels to the place Between where magicians pull the rabbits out of or the things and people that they make disappear. Very cute.

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells- Before reading this I had read The Invisible Man by Wells, which I loved. I have to admit that in the hour it took to read this book, I didn't actually like it that much. I felt like it certainly wasn't character driven (something we're so used to these days yet wasn't a staple and sometimes a common do-not-do for some genres in the past- think mystery, maybe science fiction, ect.). It wasn't just that, though, which may be excused based on the grounds that maybe that was common practice at the time. I just felt like the story wasn't told very well. There certainly wasn't much in depth talk about the science. The time traveling itself and the places he went to and what happened there just weren't very engaging to me. They could have been and the ideas are magnificent, but the story itself wasn't written well in my opinion. Definitely not a favorite of mine nor, in my opinion, Wells greatest work. However, it is worth the short read I suppose just to see the story in its raw form as it finds its way into many modern day allusions to it.

Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper- Once again I was feeling incredibly motivated, and seeing as my room was running out to place my read books due to a stack of American Literature books I have on the same shelf, I decided to read this book since it's also for school. Having at this point gotten very used to reading straight through even the boringest books or lengthy passages, I decided to read straight through this one. I'll admit I had picked this book up last year and could not get into it for the life of me. I was rather curious why people love it so much. And now I know. It took me 150 pages to get into this story. Yes, 150. With most books I would never give them that many pages, but I had to read this for school and so I stuck with it. At that point, halfway through the book, I was sucked into the story. I could barely put the book down, and when I got to the end I tried not to cry. Then I just let myself delve deeper in and shed a few tears. I had completely fallen in love with the characters, even some that I didn't realize I had fallen in love with until the end. I cannot express how glad I am that I stuck through the first 150 pages because this book was so amazing! I would love to reread, in fact probably will soon! I want to read the entire Leatherstock Tales, but unfortunately, they aren't all easily found in book format unless you want to pay $50, which I don't, though I may seriously think about it- that's how much I loved this book.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card- I read this book because I loved the movie. As usual, the book blew the movie out of the waters. This book was so complex. The ideas and feelings brought to the surface so deep that I can hardly form solid opinions about this book. One thing I do know is that it isn't just a kid's book. This is a book for all ages to read. I also know that I will reread this someday because right now I don't know exactly what to say about it. Therefore, I will only leave this with a high suggestion to read the book! By the way, would you consider this a classic? I have counted it as one towards my goal of 50 classics because it had a huge influence on science fiction novels, or so I'm told. Let me know what you think.

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card- I picked this one up a day after reading Ender's Game. I went into it knowing it would be different than Ender's Game since EG is more of a prequel to this book that was Card's original idea (as he says in EG's intro). For others that are going to read this after Ender's Game, know that it is like a totally different story. The characters are different, there's obviously a different plot, and Ender is 35 years old, a lot different from his six year old self. Even though I felt like Ender was probably similar to how he was as a youngster, I felt as though we don't get to know everything about him, almost as though we aren't really in his brain, even though sometimes we are. The younger characters were more of a focus to me, as well as the pequeninos, the new alien species. So even though others say they thought this was boring compared to Ender's Game, I actually thought it was better. Seriously, I thought this was a lot better than Ender's Game. I can't quite describe it but being in the minds of other characters was great. I can't wait to read Xenocide which picks up right after this book. I have a feeling I am going to become a major Ender fan with all the books I get to read. :)

A Place Called Home by Jason Grant- All right, this one was just because of all the pretty pictures inside it. :)

War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells- This was a lot better than The Time Machine. I must admit I was expecting little green martians in flying saucers. The aliens in this book were much different than that! Trust me, Wells goes into the anatomy of them, and their machines are quite interesting. It was a fairly good book, though, again, I liked Invisible Man more. I would love to watch the movie sometime. But back to the book! The characters in this book seemed more real than in Time Machine, and it's incredibly interesting to hear the main character's thoughts as he battles with issues of surviving and humanity all while worrying if his wife even exists and how to get back to her. As for the plot, well the aliens fighting the army seemed real enough for the time I suppose (a radio reading of the story led thousands to panic!), but today we would probably be able to wipe out the attacking aliens. Not to mention I would imagine aliens to be higher advanced in technology and inteligence, though this would likely be due to the advancement of today's technology. Overall it was a great book! The battles inside the main character's thoughts were the most interesting to me as he struggled through changed and dangerous lands.

Vampire Knight Volume 17 by Matsuri Hino- I read the first 16 volumes way back in December so I was a bit lost when I picked this one up, but that doesn't change the fact that I love this series! I completely recommend this manga series as one of my favorites. There are only two more left! Yay! I don't read much manga so I'm not much interested getting into manga series that go on forever that I could never catch up to. This is a great series though, seriously. Read it! I still can't decide if I like Kaname or Zero more. Hm.. Till the end then!

Alice in the Country of Hearts: My Fanatic Rabbit Vol. 1 and 2 by Quin Rose- You know how I just mentioned I wouldn't be that interested in reading a forever long manga series. Well this is the exception. I would absolutely love, completely flip out, if I knew the Alice in the Country of Hearts series would never end! (This includes Alice in the Country of Jokey and Alice in the Country of Clover.) These two volumes that I read are an offshoot of the series with the idea of what if Alice fell in love with Elliot March, the mad hare. I love his character and this was a funny mini series. I did feel that this offshoot had a lot more sexual references than the other ones or was dirtier but wasn't over the top like a lot of manga, and I still loved the story and of course, the characters. :D

Alice in the Country of Hearts: The Mad Hatter's Late Night Tea Party Volume 1 and 2 by Quin Rose- Okay, the Mad Hatter is one of my favorite characters so I loved this manga! Out of all the offshoots I've read, this was my favorite so far. There was action, romance (of course), and the loveable characters as always. :) It was just amazing!

Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame- I actually did quite a long book review on this which you can find here! P.S. I loved this book!

The Princess Bride by William Goldman- I read this on recommendation from a friend, and though it was a bit odd of a book, I loved it just as much as the movie. :) Some of the characters I liked better than the movie, some I liked better in the movie. Overall by blending the two I loved all the characters. The movie was incredibly accurate to the book without the extra journey of the narrator, which makes the book unique from the movie. Not to mention the book ends totally different. The adventures don't end, and I loved that! I get the perfect romance ending in the movie and a more realistic ending (as far as fantastical adventures go) in the book.

Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne- (Warning: Prepare for rant on my opinion on major science theory halfway through paragraph. I couldn't help myself, sorry. haha) This was my first Jules Verne novel I've ever read. I decided it was about time. I must say it was not a disappointment! The book was very heavily written on science topics to educate the people while still maintaining a high adventure and growing characters. The main character begins as a young boy and grows up into a man by the end of the book. Their journey to the center of the earth reveals the kinds of ideas people had back then regarding science and the earth. It was particularly obvious the discussions on Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Obviously today we know a lot more in the science field and genetics and even time frame of the history of humans. Things that are revealed in question in the book, are common knowledge today. I for one don't think that science can at all support Darwin's Theory anymore, though most people have not been revealed to the modern science world since kids are still taught that evolution is fact rather than just a theory. It baffles me that teachers don't even teach the evidence that goes against evolution. I mean really, when you learn one side of an argument in order to support yourself you have to at least know the other side. Teachers really ought to share all the major science points and what today's science has revealed in those areas. It almost seems that instead of teaching and giving us knowledge they just want to give us exactly how to think. Let the science speak for itself. Give all sorts of theories, but don't favor one over the other while teaching and let the science speak for what it possibly true and what is in no way possible. I love science so it was really interesting to read Jules Verne's book even if we now know that most of it isn't true. I can't wait to read more of his books!

     So that's it! Whew! One update in case you didn't catch that from my intro is that I have definitely changed my reading goal this year from 25 classics to 50. Therefore I am over 1/5 of the way done! I have read 11/50 classics this year so far, and I think I'll probably end up getting around 75 done. If by June it's looking like 100 is possible, then you betcha I will be raising the bar! I look forward to all the classics I'll read this March. I've already started Watership Down. It is so fantastic that I will definitely do a full book review on it! Until next time! I'll be discussing the idea of planning what you read. Look forward to it soon!

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