Top Ten Tuesday: but classics are boring! 

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Top Ten Tuesday is back!! This week The Broke and the Bookish gave us a pretty open topic. All they said was “Top Ten Book recommendations for _________.” This topic can go every which way, and I can’t see what people do with it.

I’m going to stick with the classics and list 10 classics for people who think classics are boring (I’ll also have some honorable mentions at the end, because there are so many!)

Some of these have made it in my top tens before, a few are new, but all of them are books I did not want to put down until I finished them.

1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas 

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Revenge, prison breaks, knife fights, kidnappings, treasure hunts, elaborate parties, and never-ending love…these are only a portion of what you get from The Count of Monte Cristo. While it’s a long book, the action really speeds it along (also the movie is pretty good, even though they change a few things).

2. The Oedipus Cycle by Sophocles

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You want drama? Sophocles will give you drama. The cycle is a combination of three plays written by the greek philosopher, and they are packed with insanity. You have unlikely marriages, accidental murders, and you will learn what happens when you try to trick fate and fortune.

3. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

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I don’t think I have to explain this one. Tolkien masterfully told an epic tale of the hobbits Bilbo and Frodo Baggins and their role in the destruction of the ring of power.

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

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These witty and sophisticated mysteries are so fun and clever. Each mystery is it’s own chapter, so you don’t have to worry about stopping in the middle of one without getting to the answer, but I promise you, you will want to keep reading.

5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley 

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While nothing like the movies, Frankenstein is a genius work full of science, adventures, betrayal, murder, and repentance. It is fast-paced and exciting, and it does not cease to make you think.

6. The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer 

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Hands down, the two most epic tales ever written…also the oldest epics ever written. The Iliad and the Odyssey (if you can get past the poetry) are stories like none other. Their mix of mythology and history give a unique and fascinating tale of the Trojans and the Greeks.

7. The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas

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Affairs, battles, corrupt politicians, assignations (and failed attempts), blackmail, and so much more. The Three Musketeers, in classic Dumas fashion, never stops the action and keeps adventure a top priority.

8. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

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While being a children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia are entertaining to those of any age. They are quick reads with fantastic characters and plots, always showing the chivalry and honor of the hero’s, and the evil capabilities of the villains.

9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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This gripping novel tells of the civil rights movement in the deep south. This book isn’t as action packed as the rest in my list, but it never fails to grasp the reader’s attention, all while sharing the history and morals of the author’s childhood.

10. Anything by Agatha Christie  

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Christie never fails to impress me, and her stories are always so entertaining. She will show you that even old books can have some mystery and excitement when it comes to murder. Christie is known as the Queen of Mystery and she has certainly earned that title.

 

Honorable mentions:

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

1984 by George Orwell

The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

tragedy-of-hamlet.jpgHamlet by William Shakespeare

Rating: ★★★★★ // so. much. goodness. (and killing). 

Favorite Line: “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go.”

Review:

Am I allowed to review Shakespeare? I don’t think I am…I’m just a mere peasant, after all. Well, this will be a mini-review then, with limited critiques, mainly because I couldn’t find many things to actually criticize.

Why have I never read Hamlet before? Well, probably because I’m a punk and I assumed it was overrated. Also, I already knew the story, so I figured there wasn’t really a reason for me to read it. As it turns out, there is a reason to read it and the reason is because it’s awesome.

“To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.”

Hamlet, for all you other non Hamlet readers, is the Prince of Denmark. The play picks up right after the marriage of his mother to his uncle, which takes place only one month after Hamlet’s father, the King of Denmark, is killed. Hamlet is in a foul mood, for obvious reasons, when he meets the ghost of his father, who tells him he was murdered and must be avenged. This sends Hamlet deeper into madness, and he devises a plan to trap his father’s murderer and take his revenge. He’s also in love with Ophelia.

“Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

The plot of Hamlet is terrific. While I had known the general plot before reading, it really takes a shape of it’s own, and is much more intricate in the play. Obviously in a play the narrative is the main way of moving the plot along, and the way it is done in this play is brilliant (this is Shakespeare, after all).

I always forget how funny some of Shakespeare’s characters are. Even in a somber mood, he frequently seems to bring in the sarcastic, or at least the witty, friend to lighten the mood, or to bring the character back to his senses. Another thing I really liked about this play is that the wisdom, much of the time, comes from insignificant characters. There is a conversation between two gravediggers, I think in Act III, and they are just laying down solid philosophy the whole time, all while telling riddles and jokes to each other. So here we have a play full of royals and scholars, but some of the most intelligent conversation comes in jest between two gravediggers. It’s a great way for Shakespeare to make his point without making it too obvious.

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

The quotes alone are worth the read in this one. This is where the “method in the madness” saying comes from, the “be true to yourself” quote pops in there (of course, it’s in rhyme in the play), this is where the famous “to be or not to be” speech is found, and there is also the amazing line, “get thee to a nunnery!” which is, of course, fantastic.

“Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice; Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.”

Ok, so spoiler alert up ahead for any of you yet to pick up this play, but it’s my only criticism and I want to talk about it. Why did Hamlet have to die? I mean, I assumed it would happen from the beginning because in these plays everyone dies, but it was really unnecessary. The only reason I can think of is that he had no one else to live for, but c’mon man, you’re like 25, you will find another Ophelia and you’ll probably be King of Denmark, so just stay alive. That’s my only real criticism. I really hated that Ophelia died too…she was so sweet, but that one I understand because her life really fell apart fast. 

 

“Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.”

I definitely want to read this one again, because it really is so rich and full of wisdom. So, is Hamlet overrated? Well, to quote Hamlet, Act III, Scene III, line 87, “No!”.

 

Sunshine Blogger Award

It finally happened!  I’ve been given an award for being the ball of sunshine in everyone’s life 😉 all jokes aside, I am thankful to Rachel at the Pace, Amore, Libri blog for the nomination! Check out her Sunshine Blogger Award post because her answers are really interesting and fun! (Rachel, I took the graphic from your post, I hope that’s ok!)

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The Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator has given you.
  3. Nominate 11 other people and give them 11 new questions to answer.
  4. List the rules and display the award

 

Rachel’s Questions: 

1.What’s the last movie you saw and what did you think of it?

Ummm. I think it was probably Moana, which is a little embarrassing, but hey, I’m a nanny and also Moana is awesome, so I’m not that embarrassed ;).  I really did like it. Some of the plot details bothered me, and the Shiny song makes me uncomfortable, but all-in-all it’s a good movie. I mean, it’s no How to Train Your Dragon, but it’s very good.

2. Do you have any weird or random talents?

Does having an insanely good memory count? I retain really random facts, so I feel like I know a decent amount about a lot of random things, and it’s all accidental. For example, I have memorized all the State nicknames (i.g. Minnesota is the North Star State, Idaho is the gem state, etc.) and I really didn’t try to do it, I just remember useless information–which basically makes my talent trivia. Other than that, I don’t really think I have any random talents.

3. What’s your favorite song at the moment?

I have 3. “Whatever it Takes” by Imagine Dragons, “One More Light” by Linkin Park, and “All We Ever Knew” by The Head and the Heart.

I’m also really digging the “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” soundtrack.

4. What time of day do you do most of your blogging?

I almost always blog at night.

5.What’s your favorite museum that you’ve been to?

The Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels, Belgium is my all-time favorite. A close second is the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands…I may or may not have cried when I went there.

6. When’s the last time you went to a wedding?

ha! well, I’m kind of a professional wedding-goer. I’ve been to 8 weddings this summer and I have 3 more this year…and I’ve been in half of them, so I’m a little done with weddings at the moment, but my last one was the last weekend of June.

7.Do you have a celebrity doppelganger?

Not that I know of, however many have told me I look like the Chesire Cat.

8. If you were a cat, what color cat would you be?  (Very important question.)

Going off of my last answer, I have to say purple.

9. Do you have a favorite publisher or publisher imprint?

I don’t know if they are my favorite, but I really like the little penguin on the Penguin classics books.

10. Have you ever dressed up like a fictional character?  (Bonus points for photo evidence.)

Other than in plays or for halloween, I really don’t think I have, which is kind of sad.

11. What’s your favorite thing about your city (or state, or country)?

I hail from the great state of Iowa. If you don’t know where Iowa is, it is right in the middle of the United States. I really love how kind everyone is here. People are just genuinely nice and it’s amazing. Every time I come back from traveling, I’m always pleasantly surprised with the people of Iowa–they are great. Also, barbecue.

 

For the Sunshine Blogger Award, I nominate:

My questions are:

  1. What is your all-time favorite book or books?
  2. What is your go-to binge show on Netflix?
  3. What is the best book you’ve read this year?
  4. Where is your dream vacation spot?
  5. What book would you recommend everyone to read, right now?
  6. Do you prefer a physical book, e-book, audiobook, or all three?
  7. What fandom are you least likely to join?
  8. Do you have a favorite piece of art or artist?
  9. Book clubs, yay or nay?
  10. Are you a morning, noon, or night reader?
  11. What does your dream trip look like?

 

Thanks for reading!!

Friday Five: Alfred Lord Tennyson 

It was Alfred Lord Tennyson’s birthday this week, so I thought I would share some quotes and part of a poem from one of my favorite poets. Enjoy!

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“I hold it true, whatever befall; I feel it, when I sorrow most; ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

3.

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“Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?”

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Bonus: Part 1 of “The Lady of Shallot”

Three Blind Mice and Other Stories (mini-review)

13622161.jpgThree Blind Mice and Other Stories by Agatha Christie

Rating: ★★★★// same Christie, just in bite-sized stories

Favorite Line: “She had often been alone in the house before—but she had never before been so conscious of being alone in it.”

Review: 

Agatha Christie not only gave us mystery novels, but also mystery short stories! That’s what we got here in Three Blind Mice and Other Stories. While much shorter than her usual tales, these stories still keep up all the excitement and charm of a classic Christie mystery.

Three Blind Mice is the primary and longest story in this collection, and it is quite wonderful. The best part of Christie novels is knowing that the guilty party is one you would usually least expect, so you begin to accuse pretty much everyone, and yet, you still find yourself surprised at the end. This story finds us in a classic scenario: stranded in a Bed & Breakfast with many strangers, in the middle of a snowstorm…and then, of course, murder.

The other stories all involve murder in some way, but we get to revisit the classic sleuths, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.

One of them, The Third Floor Flat, involves and unintentional break in which leads to the discovery of a body. Another, Strange Jest is a fun inheritance treasure hunt. Tape-Measure Murder sends the whole town into frenzy when the seamstress is found dead. Four and Twenty Blackbirds has us wondering what on earth made the old man order blackberry tart, plus more stories to keep you reading though the night.

They are really fun and allow you to have some Christie magic, just in smaller portions.

Top Ten Tuesday: Think about it

Happy tuesday! This is the last week of the Broke and Bookish summer hiatus, so this is that last week of me just making up things to write about 😉 This week I finished a book that contained a lot of philosophical discussion, so I decided to write my top ten about classics that really made me think. Enjoy!

1. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

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“I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”

2. The Brother’s Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky 

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“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”

3. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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“Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world’s original sin. If the cave-man had known how to laugh, History would have been different.”

4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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“I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.”

5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho 

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“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

6. 1984 by George Orwell

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“Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”

7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley 

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“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”

8. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

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“It doesn’t make a damned bit of difference who wins the war to someone who’s dead.”

9. Animal Farm by George Orwell

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“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

10. The Giver by Lois Lowry

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“I feel sorry for anyone who is in a place where he feels strange and stupid.”

 

That’s it for this week! What book are on your list that make you think? I’d love to add some more to my list. Next week The Broke and the Bookish are back, so I’ll actually have a real topic up here! Have a great week!

Till We Have Faces

18716966.jpgTill We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

Rating: ★★★★★ // A retelling in a classic fashion 

First Line: “I am old now and have not much to fear from the anger of the gods.”

Review:

Till We Have Faces is C.S. Lewis’ final book, and, allegedly, was his favorite of all his written work.

Summary (via GoodReads)

In this timeless tale of two mortal princesses- one beautiful and one unattractive- C.S. Lewis reworks the classical myth of Cupid and Psyche into an enduring piece of contemporary fiction. This is the story of Orual, Psyche’s embittered and ugly older sister, who posessively and harmfully loves Psyche. Much to Orual’s frustration, Psyche is loved by Cupid, the god of love himself, setting the troubled Orual on a path of moral development.

Set against the backdrop of Glome, a barbaric, pre-Christian world, the struggles between sacred and profane love are illuminated as Orual learns that we cannot understand the intent of the gods “till we have faces” and sincerity in our souls and selves.

If you are unfamiliar with the myth of Cupid and Psyche, I’ll give you the short version. There was a girl, the youngest of three daughters, Psyche, who was so beautiful, that people started to pay homage to her instead of to Venus, the goddess of love. This upset Venus and she asked her son Cupid to take care of the issue. Instead of doing what his mother asked, he fell in love with Psyche and took her to be his wife, however he kept his identity a secret to her and only came to her in the dead of night. The sister’s learn of this mystery husband and convince their sister to bring a light into the bedroom and shine it upon her husband, therefore learning his identity. Cupid flee’s the scene and Psyche is left to wander the wilderness, searching for her long lost love.

Now, that was a very short version of the story, but you can go and read the long version, or you can do what I did and just read Lewis’ retelling of the story…which is what I highly recommend (I then went back and reread the original because I wanted to see what he altered or added).

Lewis’ version comes from the point of view of the Psyche’s oldest sister, who acts like a mother to the beautiful child, as their mother died shortly after Psyche’s birth. This sister is neither beautiful or charismatic like Psyche, but instead clings to her studies to give her comfort in life.

“Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that’s the whole art and joy of words.”

The story continues much like the myth does, but if goes further, and tells of what happens to the older sister after seeing her sister fall into ruin. She becomes the ruler of her land but is continuously reminded by the fate of Psyche and she is always questioning whether or not it actually took place.

Like all of Lewis’ books, the philosophy is rich in this book, but the incorporation of the myth make it read like a classic fantasy book.

I don’t remember why, but I stopped halfway through this book and left the second half unread for about a month before I picked it back up. Once I did, it was finished very quickly. I really don’t know why I did that, because I did really enjoy the first half, I think it was just a natural point to stop and I got sidetracked. I will say, I enjoyed the second half more than the first, which is odd because the first half is they myth half and the second half is the aftermath, and I would think the first would appeal to me more.

Till We Have Faces was written much differently than I expected it to be, and the incorporation of the myth into a normal society was fascinating. There was this constant battle between understanding reality and believing in the gods that kept the myth alive, while at the same time doubting that it could be true. This puts the reader in the position of the eldest child, Orual, but we, the reader, still feel compelled to believe the impossible, which is the story Psyche tells us.

“I saw well why the gods so not speak to us openly, nor let us answer…Why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”

I was surprised how well Lewis told the story from a woman’s point of view. There are many times that male authors talk of women in an exaggerated way, but there were so many times where Orual or Psyche said things that I felt came from my own mind. He is such a talented author that he can even perfectly describe a mind that he has never has of his own. This is true talent.

As seen with my five star rating, I highly recommend this book. It is a lesser known C.S. Lewis novel that deserves much more attention. I read  Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis as a part of The Classics Club Book Challenge. To see my complete challenge list of classics books, click here.

 

 

Poem of the Week: On His Blindness

On His Blindness
by John Milton

 

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

7 Riddles to Nowhere & Angelhood

These two books are a little out of my regular reading zone, because they are children’s novels, but the I researched the author and her mission of bringing wholesome literature to children really hit a chord with me. She sent me her two novels, and I have to say, even though they are for children/teens, I found them very entertaining!

30148975.jpg7 Riddles to Nowhere by A.J. Cattapan

Rating: ★★★★ // a quick, fun adventure

First Line: “Kameron Boyd hadn’t spoken a word in school for seven years.” 

Review:

After finishing this book, I immediately told my little brothers they should read it; it was so fun!

The book follows Kameron Boyd, a seventh-grader at St. Jude’s Catholic School. Kameron, known as Kam, is a shy, quiet boy, who actually suffers from an inability to speak to adults. He has a small group of friends and lives with his mom and grandmother. One day Kam receives a letter in the mail which tells him he has been selected to compete in a game of riddles for a “treasure”. Kam accepts the challenge and, along with his friends, he travels around Chicago as a mysterious “riddle-master” sends him clues to the treasure.

Kam is a sweet kid. I don’t exactly get why he can’t speak to adults, it seems to be the result of a childhood trauma, but it still seems like a bit of a stretch that he cannot utter a word to an adult outside of his home. With that being said, his inability to speak adds an interesting challenge to the book, and it allows the character to grow in courage and step outside his comfort zone every once in a while.

Cattapan does a great job keeping the pace light and fast, all while giving us a in-depth adventure. The kids have to use their intellect and savvy to figure out the riddles, and they have to work together to keep ahead of the competition.

What I really loved about this book is that Cattapan was able to tell a fun, compelling story without adding in a stupid childhood romance. I really get tired of the corny childhood flirting that happens in children literature because it always looks forced and I just find it weird, so I am very thankful Cattapan was able to tell a story without forcing a relationship (or heaven forbid a love triangle) on these kids.

Really fun book for kids, makes them think and shows good values and virtues kids should strive to obtain.

 

24553425.jpgAngelhood by A.J. Cattapan

Rating: ★★★★ // Hard book, yet inspiring 

First Line: “Getting the gun is easy.” 

Review:

Any book that starts off with suicide is going to be difficult; not under any circumstances is it a fun topic to discuss, yet, there are times when it needs to be discussed and there are stories that need to be told.

Angelhood follows Nanette Dunston, who in the first chapter, takes her life. This was hard for me to read, so I immediately thought it wasn’t appropriate for kids to read, but then I remembered that 13 Reason’s Why was immensely popular in middle school and high school, and as I continued to read Angelhood, I realized how important books like this actually are.

After she ends her life, Nanette finds herself as an angel with the sole purpose of protecting a high school girl Vera. Nanette is unsure why she is tied to this girl, until she realizes Vera is contemplating suicide herself. Nanette now has the mission to convince this young girl to refrain from making the same mistake she did.

Like I said before, this book is thick. Right away my main theological issue was that people don’t become Angels…Angels are completely different beings, however, that was my only issue and it’s more or less explained in the end, therefore I was able to get over my little issue with the theological issue. OTHER THAN THAT, I really thought the book we well written and well told. Again, this is an issue that kids should address because its real and it’s important because YOU MATTER and YOU ARE LOVED. That is why these books matter.

I would not recommend this book to anyone younger than a high schooler and I think parents should read it with their children because this subject needs to be discussed, but it needs to be discussed with care. But I do recommend this book, it is well written and it speaks to the heart.

 

Thank you to A.J. Cattapan for giving me a these books for review. To learn more about A.J. Cattapan visit her site http://www.ajcattapan.com/