Poem of the Week: The Highwayman

The Highwayman
by Alfred Noyes
PART ONE
.
.
The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
         Riding—riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.
 .
He’d a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin.
They fitted with never a wrinkle. His boots were up to the thigh.
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
         His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.
 .
Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard.
He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred.
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
         Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.
 .
And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened. His face was white and peaked.
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord’s daughter,
         The landlord’s red-lipped daughter.
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—
 .
“One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
         Watch for me by moonlight,
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.”
 .
He rose upright in the stirrups. He scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair in the casement. His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
         (O, sweet black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the west.
.
.
PART TWO
.
.
He did not come in the dawning. He did not come at noon;
And out of the tawny sunset, before the rise of the moon,
When the road was a gypsy’s ribbon, looping the purple moor,
A red-coat troop came marching—
         Marching—marching—
King George’s men came marching, up to the old inn-door.
.
They said no word to the landlord. They drank his ale instead.
But they gagged his daughter, and bound her, to the foot of her narrow bed.
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!
There was death at every window;
         And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.
 .
They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest.
They had bound a musket beside her, with the muzzle beneath her breast!
“Now, keep good watch!” and they kissed her. She heard the doomed man say—
Look for me by moonlight;
         Watch for me by moonlight;
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!
 .
She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
         Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!
 .
The tip of one finger touched it. She strove no more for the rest.
Up, she stood up to attention, with the muzzle beneath her breast.
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
         Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins, in the moonlight, throbbed to her love’s refrain.
 .
Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horsehoofs ringing clear;
Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding—
         Riding—riding—
The red coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still.
 .
Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer. Her face was like a light.
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
         Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.
 .
He turned. He spurred to the west; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o’er the musket, drenched with her own blood!
Not till the dawn he heard it, and his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
         The landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.
 .
Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high.
Blood red were his spurs in the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat;
When they shot him down on the highway,
         Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with a bunch of lace at his throat.
 .
.       .       .
 .
And still of a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding—
         Riding—riding—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.
 .
 
Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard.
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred.
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
         Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

Shades of Magic Series

ShadesMagic-USShades of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Rating: ★★★★ // A magical series I can get behind! 

Favorite Line(s):

“Battles may be fought from the outside in, but wars are won from the inside out.” (From A Darker Shade of Magic). 

“We’re all here for a reason, Bard. Some reasons are just bigger than others.” (From A Gathering of Shadows).

“Life isn’t made of choices, it’s made of trades. Some are good, some are bad, but they all have a cost.” (From A Conjuring of Light).

Review:

The Shades of Magic Series follows the adventures of Kell, one of the last magicians in London, and Lila, an orphaned girl who wanders into Kell’s path and seems to have some kind of magic of her own.

The setting is London, all four of them (well, technically all three of them, but there are four). Each London is layered on top of each other, Black being the first, White the second, Red the third, and Grey the fourth. In this story we are in the time after a war that had destroyed Black London, left White London in a state of poverty, left Red London basically unscathed, and taken away the magic (and memory of magic) from Grey London. After the war the doors to the London’s were closed and only the magicians could travel between them.

These mini reviews are mostly spoiler free and completely free of crucial spoilers.

A Darker Shade of Magic

This book had a lot of hype around it when I finally picked it up, so I was a little nervous I would be disappointed. Luckily I had avoided reading any reviews that had spoilers, and I really didn’t read too deeply into the plot, so I found myself entranced as it unfolded. I had a lot of fun with this novel, and I think I liked it most because it can easily be read as a stand alone novel (I LOOOVEE it when first books do this). Yes, after reading it you want more of our dark eyed prince and our thieving mystery girl, but the initial story is done, and no major holes remain to be filled.

Oddly for me, I didn’t find many things that I disliked in this book, which is why I’m having a hard time figuring out why I didn’t come away from this book head-over-heels in love with it. I liked it a lot, but it didn’t grab me enough to where I go into my obsessed state, I just can’t figure out why.

The setting is phenomenal, Schwab sets up the different London’s flawlessly and the characters in each fit seamlessly into their assigned London.

The characters are very interesting, yes, I guess each of the main ones, Kell and Lila, did annoy me from time to time, mostly because they are both prone to feeling sorry for themselves while insisting that they are the only ones who don’t feel sorry for themselves…an annoying trait in anyone. Holland is a great evil character, mostly because he’s only mostly evil. Rhy is an o.k. character, but I’m not as in love with him as Kell is and that bothers me a little, because it makes it hard for me to really get invested in his character’s well-being. Oh, and Kell’s coat is the coolest and it’s basically a character of it’s own.

The plot was very good and it keeps the book movie with a satisfying speed. The magic is explained in a way easy to understand, yet there remains some mystery to it, which is important when it comes to magic. My one complaint in the magic department is that Kell insists through the whole book that the words aren’t important, but at the end the words seem to be the most important part, so that kind of confused me. Maybe I didn’t understand the explanation, but that seemed like a semi-major inconsistency for me.

Anyway (this was supposed to be a mini review..yikes), I did really like this book, and the hype was not too over hyped for me.

A Gathering of Shadows

Woah, now that’s some character development, if I do say so myself.

I did not like this one as much as the first, but I will say it grew on me as the book went on. The opening scene was actually really awesome, but the rest of the beginning was kind of bland. Once the plot of the tournament was introduced, the pace picked up, and so did my interest in it.

One new major character is introduced, Alucard Emery, and he is WAY more complex than any character in the first book. This guy has layers upon layers, and his character forces the development of Lila, Kell, and Rhy, which is a key aspect in this book.

My main complaint for this book is there wasn’t enough of the side plot, and it showed up so infrequently I actually forgot about it until it appeared again. I think more of it would have improved the pace of the book and given it a greater sense of haste.

This book is not a stand alone, which is fine, I just assumed it was so when I got close to the end and realized there was more things that needed to happen than there were pages, I got a little nervous. Furthermore, I was so mad that it ended where it did, not because it was a bad place, but just because it was at such a crucial point.

Again, I can’t figure out why I’m not completely crazy about this series, there’s something about it and I can’t put my finger on it. But regardless, after reading this book, there was no question that I would pick up the third…excellent use of the cliff hanger, Schwab.

A Conjuring of Light

All things yes.

This is definitely a third and final book, meaning there are no major plot points introduced, just the expansion of the plot formed in the second book. That’s not saying it is boring, because it isn’t at all, nor is it saying that there are no twists to the plot, it’s just saying that it is a perfect continuation of the second book…which is exactly what it’s supposed to be.

While I don’t think this was the best book of the series (I still think the first was the best) this book made me like the series much more…I can’t explain it, but it was just the perfect third to bring the other two together.

The one thing that really threw me for a loop had nothing to do with the plot, but more about the main character Kell–he’s like 18 years old!!! (or something like that, I don’t remember the specific age, but I think he’s 18). I don’t know if his age was mentioned his age in the first two, but I was definitely picturing someone  a little older than a teenager, or I just thought he was ageless, or something magical like that. I know it’s a silly thing to get caught up on, but it really threw me for a loop.

Other than that, I really don’t have any complaints about this book. Like I said, it just a great 3rd book. Traditionally, the third book of a series is my least favorite, but Schwab really showed she has pure, raw skill with this book.

I don’t really want to talk about this one because I don’t want to spoil anything. I especially don’t want to tell you if the ending was awesome, tragic, or bland…ok, it wasn’t bland, it was one of the first two. But I will say that it is an ending, it doesn’t leave any strings untied or twists unresolved.

Overview: 

I really can’t get over how much I liked this series. It just got better and better as it went on. The characters continued to grow more complex, yet they are still completely them. The Kell we meet in the beginning of the first book is still the Kell we have at the end, same with Lila…they are just expanded. It’s really wonderful.

The plot is fun and fast. The different view points offer fresh outlooks, and it moves the plot along at a very interesting pace. Usually I’m not the biggest fan of jumping from character to character, but I since the narrater remained 3rd person throughout the book it made it much better than books that jump from 1st person to 1st person.

Overall, awesome series. It is one of the best newer series I have read lately and I highly recommend it.

Friday Five: Summer Reading List

It’s officially Summer!! Let’s get reading!

I have quite a few summer review books to read, but aside from those, there are a few I’m planning to read or listen to on my own. Here are my top 5 most anticipated reads for summer 2017. (summaries via GoodReads).


1.Laurus by Evgenij Vodolazkin

It is the late fifteenth century and a village healer in Russia is powerless to help his beloved as she dies in childbirth, unwed and without having received communion. Devastated and desperate, he sets out on a journey in search of redemption. But this is no ordinary journey: it is one that spans ages and countries, and which brings him face-to-face with a host of unforgettable, eccentric characters and legendary creatures from the strangest medieval bestiaries. Laurus’s travels take him from the Middle Ages to the Plague of 1771, where as a holy fool he displays miraculous healing powers, to the political upheavals of the late-twentieth century. At each transformative stage of his journey he becomes more revered by the church and the people, until he decides, one day, to return to his home village to lead the life of a monastic hermit – not realizing that it is here that he will face his most difficult trial yet.


Laurus is a remarkably rich novel about the eternal themes of love, loss, self-sacrifice and faith, from one of Russia’s most exciting and critically acclaimed novelists.

2. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

3. The Gathering Storm by Sir Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill was not only a statesman and leader of historic proportions, he also possessed substantial literary talents. These two factors combine to make The Gathering Storma unique work. The first volume of Churchill’s memoirs, this selection is broken into two parts. The first, From War to War,consists of Churchill’s critical observations on the settlement of World War I and its place in the causes of the Second World War. The second volume contains letters and memoranda from the British government–of which Churchill was part–as the country plunged unprepared into war. This stands as the best of history: written as it was made, by the man who made it.

4. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, the empirical insights of Roger Bacon – all sharpened to a glistening edge by wry humor and a ferocious curiosity. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey, where “the most interesting things happen at night.”

5. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman 

Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

 

This isn’t all the books on my summer reading list, and I may not get to all of them, but these five are the one’s that intrigue me the most and I can’t wait to crack them open!

What’s on your reading list this summer?

Top Ten Tuesday: Series TBR

I love book series, and I love talking about them, so this Top Ten Tuesday topic by The Broke and The Bookish is just great! I’ve done a couple of these lists already, so I’m going to combine a few of them, plus add a couple more series to the list, because it really never stops growing!

 

Children of the Last Days by Michael O’Brien 

  1. Strangers and Sojourners
  2. Eclipse of the Sun
  3. Plague Journal 
  4. Father Elijah: An Apocalypse
  5. Sophia House
  6. A Cry of Stone
  7. Elijah in Jerusalem

The Dublin Murder Squad by Tana French

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  1. In the Woods
  2. The Likeness
  3. Faithful Place
  4. Broken Harbour
  5. The Secret Place
  6. The Trespasser

Jason Bourne by Robert Ludlum (5/14 listed here)

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  1. The Bourne Identity 
  2. The Bourne Supremacy 
  3. The Bourne Ultimatum 
  4. The Bourne Legacy
  5. The Bourne Betrayal 

Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton

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  1. The Innocence of Father Brown
  2. The Wisdom of Father Brown
  3. The Incredulity of Father Brown
  4. The Secret of Father Brown
  5. The Scandal of Father Brown

The Emigrants by Vilhelm Moberg

Emigrants 4

  1. The Emigrants
  2. Unto the Good Land
  3. The Settlers
  4. The Last Letter Home

The Second World War by Winston Churchill

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  1. The Gathering Storm
  2. Their Finest Hour
  3. The Grand Alliance 
  4. The Hinge of Fate
  5. Closing the Ring
  6. Triumph and Tragedy

Peter Grant / Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Aaronovitch-PCGrant-1to5UK-Blog1

  1. Rivers of London
  2. Moon Over Soho
  3. Whispers Underground
  4. Broken Homes
  5. Foxglove Summer
  6. The Hanging Tree

The Divine Comedy by Dante

5134BhrEHrL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

  1. Inferno 
  2. Purgatorio 
  3. Paradiso

Emperor by Conn Iggulden

Emperor4bks.jpg

  1. The Gates of Rome
  2. The Death of Kings
  3. The Field of Swords
  4. The Gods of War
  5. The Blood of Gods 

Welsh Princes by Sharon Kay Penman

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  1. Here Be Dragons
  2. Falls the Shadow
  3. The Reckoning 

 

Bonus: Series I’m currently reading

Department Q by Jussi Adler-Olsen & Flavia de Luce by Alan Bradley

 

There’s the list! I’m so excited to read everyone else’s list so I can add more series to mine!

 

Mr. Rochester

mr. rochesterMr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker

Rating: ★★★ // A classic in a new light

Review:

This review is really only a spoiler if you haven’t read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. If you have read it, read on, if you haven’t read it, you could probably still read this, you just won’t fully understand my rants, so it may be a waste of time to endure my run-on sentences.

Summary (via GoodReads)

For one hundred seventy years, Edward Fairfax Rochester has stood as one of literature’s most romantic, most complex, and most mysterious heroes. Sometimes haughty, sometimes tender-professing his love for Jane Eyre in one breath and denying it in the next-Mr. Rochester has for generations mesmerized, beguiled, and, yes, baffled fans of Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece. But his own story has never been told.

Now, out of Sarah Shoemaker’s rich and vibrant imagination, springs Edward: a vulnerable, brilliant, complicated man whom we first meet as a motherless, lonely little boy roaming the corridors and stable yards of Thornfield Hall. On the morning of Edward’s eighth birthday, his father issues a decree: He is to be sent away to get an education, exiled from Thornfield and all he ever loved. As the determined young Edward begins his journey across England, making friends and enemies along the way, a series of eccentric mentors teach him more than he might have wished about the ways of the men-and women-who will someday be his peers.

But much as he longs to be accepted-and to return to the home where he was born-his father has made clear that Thornfield is reserved for his older brother, Rowland, and that Edward’s inheritance lies instead on the warm, languid shores of faraway Jamaica. That island, however, holds secrets of its own, and not long after his arrival, Edward finds himself entangled in morally dubious business dealings and a passionate, whirlwind love affair with the town’s ravishing heiress, Antoinetta Bertha Mason.

Eventually, after a devastating betrayal, Edward must return to England with his increasingly unstable wife to take over as master of Thornfield. And it is there, on a twilight ride, that he meets the stubborn, plain, young governess who will teach him how to love again.

It is impossible not to watch enthralled as this tender-hearted child grows into the tormented hero Brontë immortalized-and as Jane surprises them both by stealing his heart. Mr. Rochester is a great, sweeping, classic coming-of-age story, and a stirring tale of adventure, romance, and deceit. Faithful in every particular to Brontë’s original yet full of unexpected twists and riveting behind-the-scenes drama, this novel will completely, deliciously, and forever change how we read and remember Jane Eyre.
At times this book was a 4 for me, at others it was a 2, but it finished strong at a solid 3.

I have to start by saying that I hated Jane Eyre. Ok, maybe hate is a strong word, but I really really disliked it and I get very angry when I think about it…so maybe hate isn’t too strong of a word. As someone who loves classics more than any other genre, I was so disappointed. The only thing I really liked (or actually loved) about it was the language and writing style–the Bronte’s were truly masters of the English language. I kept telling myself I have to re-read it and give it another chance, but after reading Mr. Rochester, and being reminded about the plot, I really don’t think I do…it’s just not my cup o’ tea.

Due to my dislike of Jane Eyre, I did not have high expectations for this book, yet I tried to keep an open mind because stories from another point of view are usually quite interesting, and I was actually hoping this different perspective would make me like the classic better…at times it did, but overall, nah.

This book starts strong and I loved reading about Rochester’s childhood, and slowly I started to gain more respect for the man I considered a serious creep because before. It goes through his dysfunctional relationship with his father and brother, and his childhood friends and teachers who took him under their wings, and gave him the closet thing he had ever known to be a real family. This is definitely the strongest part of the book, and I flew through it, excited to learn more about this poor, lonely boy, whose one desire was to make his father proud.

Once I got about halfway, however, my enthusiasm died as the book slowed down quite a bit. This is around the time he heads off to Jamaica and all that drama begins to take shape. At times the story would pick up and my interest would rise, but then it would fall again. By the time Jane came into the picture, I was already ready for the book to end, and the plot of “will they or won’t they” just drove me crazy (as it did in Jane Eyre). Like I’ve said before, the book isn’t bad, and the story from his point of view is intriguing, it just moves at a very very slow pace, and I just wanted to get to the wedding drama and then be done.

When it comes to our protagonist (Rochester, not Jane), I do think his character was explained very well in the beginning of the story, and it helped form the background that is lacking in Bronte’s story. However, the excuses and reasons he gave for hiding his wife in the attic and then not telling anyone about it, even the girl you are literally about to marry, still fall short for me and I still see him as practically as crazy (just in a different way) as his attic wife.

Jane’s character is exactly the same, so there is nothing new there. Bertha’s character is, well, interesting, to say the least and I think Shoemaker did a very good job portraying her illness given the information in Jane Eyre. 

 Mr. Rochester is written well, however I think it is very difficult to try and rewrite classics with modern language because it doesn’t flow the way you want it to when you mesh old style with new. Again, not terrible, it just seemed forced at some points.

Unfortunately, I do think my dislike of Jane Eyre tainted my opinion of this book, because I just couldn’t get over how much I disliked Jane and Rochester together.

HOWEVER, I really do think that fans of the Jane Eyre story will like this book and they will be tickled to see the story come back to life.
Lastly, (this is really a spoiler if you haven’t read Jane Eyre, so stop reading if you haven’t) but hands-down the best part of the book was when mirrored the famous line “reader, I married him” and wrote “reader, she married me.” –that was awesome, well done Mrs. Shoemaker.

**I got this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review! Thank you for the copy!

 

Poem of the Week: Anecdote for Fathers

Anecdote For Fathers

by William Wordsworth

Retine vim istam, falsa enim dicam, si coges. — Eusebius

I have a boy of five years old;
His face is fair and fresh to see;
His limbs are cast in beauty’s mould,
And dearly he loves me.

One morn we strolled on our dry walk,
Our quiet home all full in view,
And held such intermitted talk
As we are wont to do.

My thoughts on former pleasures ran;
I thought of Kilve’s delightful shore,
Our pleasant home when spring began,
A long, long year before.

A day it was when I could bear
Some fond regrets to entertain;
With so much happiness to spare,
I could not feel a pain.

The green earth echoed to the feet
Of lambs that bounded through the glade,
From shade to sunshine, and as fleet
From sunshine back to shade.

Birds warbled round me — and each trace
of inward sadness had its charm;
Kilve, thought I, was a favored place,
And so is Liswyn farm.

My boy beside me tripped, so slim
And graceful in his rustic dress!
And, as we talked, I questioned him,
In very idleness.

“Now tell me, had you rather be,”
I said, and took him by the arm,
“On Kilve’s smooth shore, by the green sea,
Or here at Liswyn farm?”

In careless mood he looked at me,
While still I held him by the arm,
And said, “At Kilve I’d rather be
Than here at Liswyn farm.”

“Now, little Edward, say why so:
My little Edward, tell me why.”

“I cannot tell, I do not know.”
“Why, this is strange,” said I;

“For, here are woods, hills smooth and warm:
There surely must some reason be
Why you would change sweet Liswyn farm
For Kilve by the green sea.”

At this, my boy hung down his head,
He blushed with shame, nor made reply;
And three times to the child I said,
“Why, Edward, tell me why?”

His head he raised — there was in sight,
It caught his eye, he saw it plain —
Upon the house-top, glittering bright,
A broad and gilded vane.

Then did the boy his tongue unlock,
And eased his mind with this reply:
“At Kilve there was no weather-cock;
And that’s the reason why.”

O dearest, dearest boy! my heart
For better lore would seldom yearn,
Could I but teach the hundredth part
Of what from thee I learn.

Friday Five: Stellar Dads in Literature

Happy Father’s Day to all those fathers out there!

Since my own father passed away six years ago, this day is rather bittersweet. Bitter in the fact that I miss him more than ever on days like this, but sweet because I love thinking of all the wonderful qualities he had as a father (I also make it a point to watch his favorite movies, drink Guinness, and eat double fudge brownies, which all help making it sweet). My dad also instilled my love for fiction, especially my love for Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and the older I get the more I find out that his favorite authors and books are quickly becoming my own as well.

It’s usually difficult to find excellent father’s in literature, but there are a few who stick out to me as exceptional.

1.Jean Valjean, Les Miserables 

 

OK, I may or may not be watching Les Mis while writing this, but regardless Jean ValJean is definitely a badass father figure. First of all, he is initially jailed for taking care of his sister and her children, which shows he is completely selfless when it comes to his family. Secondly, he risks going back to jail or killed to save Cosette, and thirdly, he devotes the rest of his life caring for Cosette and ultimately gives up his life for her continued happiness (oh and saves her boy from getting killed in the barricades)…he’s a badass and needs to be forever praised.

2. Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

He may be one of the best known father’s in literature, and rightly so. Atticus Finch shows the power of mind and virtue, and he instills in on his children. He leads by example and by word. He is a strict parent, but he answers disobedience with discipline, not anger. He allows his children to make their own discussions, but makes sure they understand the consequences that come with their choices. He really is a powerful father and is a great example on how to raise honorable children.

3. Hans Hubermann, The Book Thief

I sincerely believe that Liesel, the protagonist of The Book Thief, would have lost all hope and joy had it not been for her adoptive father, Hans. He not only taught her to read, which became her favorite activity, but he also showed her more kindness than anyone ever had. In a world full of hatred, he was a shining light, and is a constant source of positive encouragement for Liesel.

4. Matthew Cuthbert, Anne of Green Gables

Similar to Hans Hubermann, Matthew Cuthbert is a source of pure kindness. He is a gentle, quiet soul who, oddly enough, is exactly what the spirited young orphan girl needed when she had no one else to turn to. He takes Anne under his wing and while he never tries to change her, he offers her a stable arm to lean on, something she had never before experienced.

5. Mr. Bennett, Pride and Prejudice 

Does he have a name? I honestly don’t remember. Anyway, he is a great father, especially considering the fact that he only had daughters, and an over-the-top wife…it must have been challenging to be outnumbered all the time! I really feel bad for him ;). He seemed to understand the women in his household more than they understood themselves. He was consistently patient, understanding and is always there to offer sound judgement, all while maintaining a touch of humor in his attitude.

Bonus:

Guido, Life is Beautiful (Original title, La Vita e Bella)

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If you have not watched this movie, you really need to put it at the top of your watch list. It is the most tragically beautiful story of a Jewish family in WWII. The mother and the boy are lovely and charming, but what really makes this story memorable it the father. He is spectacular. I don’t want to spoil it for any of you who haven’t seen it, because you really really should watch it. I weep like a child when I watch it and it never fails to move me.

 

What father’s in literature would go on your list? Happy Friday and again Happy Father’s Day to all you dads!

We Were the Lucky Ones

30267929.jpgWe Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

Rating: ★★★.5 // A familiar subject told in a new light.

Favorite Line: “What matters, she tells herself, is that even on the hardest days, when the grief is so heavy she can barely breathe, she must carry on. She must get up, get dressed, and go to work. She will take each day as it comes. She will keep moving.”

Review:

Written as a fictional novel, this book relives the horror and pain one family went through as they were separated during World War II.

Summary (Via GoodReads)

It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer. The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships threatening Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety.

As one sibling is forced into exile, another attempts to flee the continent, while others struggle to escape certain death, either by working grueling hours on empty stomachs in the factories of the ghetto or by hiding as gentiles in plain sight. Driven by an unwavering will to survive and by the fear that they may never see one another again, the Kurcs must rely on hope, ingenuity, and inner strength to persevere.

A novel of breathtaking sweep and scope that spans five continents and six years and transports readers from the jazz clubs of Paris to Krakow s most brutal prison to the ports of Northern Africa and the farthest reaches of the Siberian gulag,We Were the Lucky Ones demonstrates how in the face of the twentieth century’s darkest moment, the human spirit can find a way to survive, and even triumph.

I found this story to be very good. This book is a great example of how many stories are left to be told from WWII. This story of the Kurc family is just one in a million different stories yet to be told, but being that it is based on the real story of this family’s survival it really brings to life the struggles and stories of all the other millions who have yet to be revealed.

I gave this book 4 stars on GoodReads because I do think it is a worthwhile book to read, but my real rating of 3.5 is based off my opinion that, while it is good, I don’t think it ranks in one of my favorite WWII novels.

We Were the Lucky Ones jumps around from family member to family member, so you really have to pay attention to who is where and what their story is at the time. This can be confusing at times, but I tended to remember the details within a paragraph into the new chapter. But be prepared to jump around a lot.

The pacing of the book was interesting, because sometimes it felt like it goes day by day and then all of the sudden it jumps ahead 6 months, and that, along with the many P.O.V.’s, makes following the multiple plots a little more difficult (not impossible but just more difficult than necessary).

I don’t think I say this often, but I think this book could’ve been longer. I may think this because I just finished a WWII book by Ken Follett, who writes super long novels and includes ever detail possible. This may affect my opinion of the length of this book, but I really wanted more details or at least more depth with some of the characters.

The characters are very beautiful, and written very well. It is very easy to have empathy for this family and I immediately became emotionally invested in their survival. There weren’t really any characters who I disliked, which is very interesting in a WWII book. There were obviously some jerks in the book, but they were not substantial enough characters for me to really dislike them. I think this really shows that this wasn’t really a WWII book–the setting was primarily WWII Europe and the plot was driven by the actions of WWII, but this book wasn’t about the good and the bad of WWII, but rather it was about the Kurcs an their means for survival. This book is much more character driven than most WWII novels and it is a nice change. Yes, WWII plays a HUGE part of the book–it’s the reason the family had to survive, for goodness sake, but it is much much more than that, and I really appreciated this aspect of the book.

Upon finishing the book I was satisfied with the ending, but it wasn’t until I read that this is heavily based off the true lives of the author’s family, that the book really took a hold of me. I definitely look on it more favorably knowing that it is real, which is why I gave it 4 instead of 3 stars on GoodReads, however even before knowing that I would have recommended this book to WWII book fans.

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Recently added to the TBR list

Today the gals at The Broke and Bookish Blog asked us to make our Top Ten Tuesday about books from a specific genre that we have added to our TBR! This is a really fun challenge because there are so many genre’s out there that all the lists will be incredibly unique. My TBR is all over the place so I decided to do this week’s challenge about Foreign Translated Books on my TBR. 

I’m a sucker for a good translated book, and recently I’ve been eyeing them like crazy–there is something truly magical about reading a book that was written in a different language. The real beauty here is that books are so unique and yet so universal that even when they jump from language to language the ideas and the philosophies can be understood and discussed–ah, the beauty of words. 


1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy 

Every time I look at the beautiful turquoise copy of War and Peace on my bookshelves, my desire to read it grows stronger–what’s stopping me? Well, it’s over 1,000 pages long, that’s what. However, I’ve recently become addicted to the new broadway musical “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812” which is about one of the love stories woven within this massive book. It has made me determined now to pick it up and read it! 

2. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon 

I don’t know much about this book aside from the glowing reviews and the amazing cover. I’m really looking forward to reading it! 

3. The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

When I heard this book and it’s sequels were similar to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I was sold! I just got it on Audiobook for my trip this weekend, and I’m so excited! 

4. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco 

I have read very few books translated from Italian, and I’m looking forward to seeing the difference in styles, especially compared to old French writers.

5. Laurus by Evgenji Vodolazkin

This is probably my most anticipated read of this year. This is a newer book, but is said to resemble Russian classics in style, philosophy, and complexity. 

6. We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen

This one also had some amazing reviews, plus the description looks so intriguing! 

7. The Man Who Laughs by Victor Hugo

I’ve been meaning to read more Victor Hugo, and I added this one to the list mainly because I had never heard of it before. It looks beautiful. 

8. Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust

This is apparently a book everyone needs to read, and I’ve heard it’s a literary beauty.

9. The Emigrants by Vilhem Moberg

This is a story of a Scandinavian family who immigrants to Canada. I love these types of stories and I’m interested in reading this series and hear their story! 

10. The Big Green Tent by Lyudmilla Ulitskaya

Surprise! Another Russian novel! I have a problem, but it’s definitely a good problem to have! This book, I heard, is terribly sad, yet very good. It is about post-Stalin Russia, which isn’t as common in novels as other time periods in Russia. 

There you have it! My top ten most anticipated translated books! Should I add any others to the list? Let me know! 

Around the World in 80 Posts: London

I’ve started this series to highlight my favorite real world settings for books and what makes them so good! Feel free to join in on the fun and explore the world through your books! 

London

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London, London, London. My time with you was much too short. We will meet again, but until then, books.

 

1.The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

This may be one of the first classic that I really loved, and it was also the first book that helped me realize how awesome creepy books can be. The setting plays a pretty significant role in this book, as it helps visualize the different social parties Dorian associated with, and how the city changed while Dorian stayed the same.

“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”

2. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

If you have read A Darker Shade of Magic you know that the setting an absolute key component, if not the most important component, of the story. Whether you are a fan of Red London, White London, or Grey London, you surly agree that London is the perfect setting for this book.

“I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”

“Seen what?”

Her smile widened. “Everything.”

3. The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G.K. Chesterton

Most of G.K. Chesterton’s work takes place in London, so the setting here is no surprise, but this book happens to be my favorite Chesterton story and it deals with undercover agents in the heart of London. It’s a fantastic story.

“The Iliad is only great because all life is a battle, The Odyssey because all life is a journey, The Book of Job because all life is a riddle.”

4. 1984 by George Orwell

Is this techically in London? I mean it’s supposed to be London but it’s a rather disturbed version of the city…however, I’m counting it! This version of London is one we hope we never see, yet it shows hows easily and blindly people and cultures can be corrupted.

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”

5. The Girl of the Train by Paula Hawkins

This book really takes place outside of London, but when she’s on the train she is headed to London, so in that sense the city is influential to the story. This book surprised me because I thought it lived up to the hype and that doesn’t always happen.

“There’s something comforting about the sight of strangers safe at home.”

6. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I mean, I don’t really have to explain this one. One could easily argue that these stories are the most influential/popular stories based primarily in London. They were popular when Doyle was alive, and they remain just as popular, if not more, to this day. These stories prove that no matter how hard people try, Sherlock will truly never die.

“I listen to their story, they listen to my comments, and then I pocket my fee.”

 

And that’s a wrap for London! There are so many others that could be added to my list, but as I’m trying to keep these posts shorter, I’m limited myself to only six. If you have any suggestions of London books for me, please let me know, I love revisiting this city, even if only in books!