The better to see you, my dear
Review
4.5 Stars
The more things change
North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell

How to tag this.

 

Know this though: if you expect a romance... well, there is romance, but it's not really the meat of the story. More like a sprinkled seasoning to give the excuse, and a happy ending I guess.

 

What this is about is industrialization, the theme for most characters was the failure point of their principles or what they considered their cornerstones, and the running one on interactions was misunderstandings arising from lack of enough knowledge to "wear another's shoes" (and no, I do not mean empathy), and it was masterfully done (if long-winded). So masterfully actually, that I had a raging fit and had to stop reading at one point (workers vs owners/strikes), because it is still such an on point analysis today.

 

The vehicle for all that is us following Margaret Hale through a three-year-long trauma conga line, through which she carries herself with so much poise and holding herself to such impossible standards that I could not help but want to shake her.

 

I'm a bit addled still by how packed this was, and I confess I'm downright intimidated by the prospect of her other books. I think I'll leave Wives and Daughters for another year's reading project.

Reading progress update: I've read 376 out of 521 pages.
North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell

So many misunderstandings! And they keep getting worse

Review
4 Stars
Gorgeous and Flavourful
Akata Witch - Nnedi Okorafor

This one was fast fun and a different flavour on the usual tropes of it's genre. Big on representation, and an interesting peak into a rich and varied culture and myth set that I confess I know nothing about.

 

The kids feel a bit older than they are (might be a cultural thing), and this thing of putting the end of the world responsibilities onto the children's shoulders is one that constantly sticks in my craw now that I'm older, but I happen to know it was the bomb when I was a kid (Harry Potter, I'm looking at you) so the one star demoted might be an "unintended audience" thing.

 

Wondering what else I can get my hands on from the area, which this book's popularity might make easier, so kudos too for broadening horizons and opening markets.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 105 out of 349 pages.
Akata Witch - Nnedi Okorafor

Once Sunny got past the book’s rude, condescending tone, she found it had plenty to teach her. She also found that the book itself was eager to be read. It made sure that it was always nearby. Sometimes it crawled onto her lap!

 

This reminded me of my prickly lit professor.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 17 out of 349 pages.
Akata Witch - Nnedi Okorafor

Miss Tate looked to the class. “Each of you will come up and Sunny will give you three strikes on the left hand.” She smiled wryly. “Maybe she can beat some of her sense into you.”
Sunny’s stomach sank as her classmates lined up before her. They all looked so angry. And not the red kind of anger that burns out quickly—but the black kind, the kind that is carried outside of class.

 

What a price of a teacher.

 

Review
3.5 Stars
Better with age
The Hound of the Baskervilles -  Arthur Conan Doyle

I find that while still not my favourite Holmes, I liked it better this time around. I think I might have been too young, and found it too dreary and long for my age. Gothic is also an acquired taste that came with age for me, so that might have played a part.

 

The other thing that turned interesting, beyond finding the pace a lot more palatable, was that Holmes is a lot more present than I remembered. Part of it is knowing, and so catching, the hints of him all around of course, but I think the pages without his obvious person were too long for my kid self's perception.

 

And, well, the fabulous Stephen Fry's narration is a definitive plus.

 

Challenging myself this 2018 (tracking post)

12 classics from my TBR

 

Most years I manage to read a dozen or so of some form of classic, but just to keep on track and maybe try to stay within of what's ALREADY THERE in my TBR

 

Eugenie Grandet by Honerè de Balzac (22/1)

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (16/8)

The Tennat of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë (22/8)

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather (25/8)

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1/9)

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (8/9)

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (11/9)

 

 

Other Countries, Other Languages

 

I've noticed I'm reading a lot of works originally written in English (somewhere around a 9 in 10 at least). A bit because England and USA have a long and healthy publishing history, with a lot of classics and pop-culture exponents to their soils. Some, because English is an easy common ground language-wise, and forums like these tend to exchange in it, either opinions or recommendations. A good deal because the market is flooded with them.

But I want more perspectives, different styles and backgrounds.

So I'll start shooting for 20 or so from my TBR and we'll see (availability might be an issue)

 

  • Dante Alighieri, La Divina Comedia (need to retrieve from hometown)
  • Jorge Amado, Grabriela, Clavo y Canela (just bought it! so happy!)
  • Aristophanes, Lysistrata
  • Roberto Arlt, Los 7 Locos
  • Honerè de Balzac, Eugenie Grandet (1/22)
  • Enrique Barrios, Civilizaciones Internas (I'm so happy about this one! I read the first two books when I was a kid, and never found them again till now!)
  • María Brandán Araoz, Vecinos y detectives en Belgrano (3/9)
  • Ítalo Calvino, Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore (need to retrieve from hometown)
  • Fernándo de Rojas, La Celestina (this one I have on hand, but it's such an archaic Spanish, it gave me head-aches the one time I attempted it. We'll see)
  • Marguerite Duras, L'Amant
  • José María Eça de Queirós, El Crímen del Padre Amaro (reading)
  • Umberto Eco, El Nombre de la Rosa (bought it too, will have leisure to read)
  • Yasunari Kawabata, Meijin
  • Clarice Lispector, Laços de família
  • Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem
  • Guadalupe Loaeza, Las Niñas Bien
  • Gabriel García Marquez, El Amor en los tiempos de Cólera (another of the buying spree and mom kept laughing and being amazed by the first third)
  • Facundo Manes, Usar el Cerebro (reading)
  • Haruki Murakami, Kafka en la Orilla (need to retrieve from hometown)
  • Kezaburo Oe, Memushiri kouchi (Pluck the Bud and Destroy the Offspring)
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses
  • Pairault, Suzanne, Verónica, ¿Estrella de Cine? (31/8)
  • Marjane Satrapi, Persépolis
  • Tulsidas, Ramayana
  • Marguerite Yourcenar, Mémoires d'Hadrien
  • Banana Yoshimoto, Kitchen
  • Carlos Ruiz Zafón, El Juego del Ángel


 

25 female authors (18/25)

 

A follow up on this idea (here Themis-Athena explains in English). Shall construct my tentative list from my TBR as much as possible too, and post read books as I go.

 

A

 

B

  • Lois McMaster Bujold: I owe to myself to try her. Almost did for Bingo, but couldn't get my hands on one of her books.
  • Octavia E. Butler: Ditto
  • Anne Brontë: The Tennat of Wildfell Hall (22/8)
  • Charlotte Brontë: Shirley and Villete have been there some 7 years too, but I've been procrastinating because I did not care for Jane Eyre when I was a teen.
  • Leigh Bardugo: Ruin and Rising
  • Natalie Babbitt: Tuck Everlasting (21/7)
  • Fanny Burney

 

C

  • Angela Carter: Yes! Something different! I'm likely to go with Nights at the Circus
  • Willa Cather: O Pioneers! (25/8)

 

D

  • Marguerite Duras: The Lover is one that I've been meaning to read for over a decade but have not yet found a hard copy
  • Jeanne DuPrau: The City of Ember (4/8)

 

E

 

  • George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans): Middlemarch keeps popping (Chist, it's massive)
  • Kate Elliott: King's Dragon

 

F

 

G

 

H

 

I

 

J

  • P. D. James: Children of Men (27/8)
  • Diana Wynne Jones: Howl's Moving Castle

 

K

 

L

 

M

  • Juliet Marillier: I've heard so amazing things about her, and fantasy is my love
  • Carson McCullers: scared to, but have The Heart is a Lonely Hunter somewhere around
  • Collen McCullough: The Thorn Birds, yeah, another scary prospect
  • Toni Morrison: Funny thing here: I've had it on my "author to try" list for a long while, but thought her male
  • Anchee Min: Empress Orchid
  • Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Blue Castle
  • Ann McCaffrey: Dragonflight

 

N

  • Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler's Wife
  • Anais Nin: Delta of Venus has been waving at me, but I'm unlikely to pick it up this year
  • Amelie Nothomb: another on mom's wish-list that I can't remember if we bought
  • Naomi Novik: His Majesty's Dragon (5/9)

 

O

  • Joyce Carol Oates: Bellefleur is one I took a stab at when I was 14 and never finished. Might rectify this year (and how did I come to the conclusion Joyce was a male name then? maybe my brain associated James Joyce?)
  • Lauren Oliver: Liesl & Po
  • Wendy Orr: Nim's Island
  • Nnedi Okorafor: Akata Witch (10/9)

 

P

  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Yellow Wallpaper (1/9)
  • Eleanor Porter: Pollyana
  • Katherine Anne Porter
  • Barbara Pym: Excellent Women
  • Ann Patchett: Bel Canto
  • Katherine Paterson: Bridge to Terabithia... if I'm feeling brave or wanting a good bawl

 

Q

 

R

  • Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho
  • Veronica Rossi: Never finished her saga. Might go for it if in the mood for YA
  • Mary Doria Russell: The Sparrow
  • Carrie Ryan: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
  • Jean Rhys: Wide Sargasso Sea

 

S

  • Lisa See: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (some group discussed a buddy read when I was still on goodreads, and the movie renewed my interest)
  • Alice Sebold: maybe. The Lovely Bones did a lot of noise
  • Betty Smith: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  • Dodie Smith: I Capture the Castle
  • Sofia Samatar: Stranger in Olondria (read a short story of hers in Clarkesworld magazine, and oh, my!)
  • Marjane Satrapi: Persepolis

 

T

  • Josephine Tey: Brat Farrar was brought to my attention during the games, and will read as soon as I can get a copy
  • Amy Tan

 

U

 

V

  • Catherynn M. Valente: In the Night Garden is one I want to buy and savor
  • Joan D. Vinge: The Snow Queen

 

W

  • Edith Wharton: pure author faith (even if she rips my heart)
  • Connie Willis: keeps popping up on my radar
  • Virginia Woolf: sure I have a couple of hers back at home

 

Y

  • Banana Yoshimoto: Kitchen is a book that keeps popping up and haven't gotten to yet
  • Jane Yolen: I had Tam Lin on my list, but reading up on her... over 365 books! Woman!
  • Marguerite Yourcenar: Have Memories of Hadrian on my bed-table
  • Chelsea Quinn Yarbro: I'm likely to pick Blood Games for bingo

 

Z

Review
2.5 Stars
Whut?
Heart of Darkness - Robert Hampson, Joseph Conrad

I did not get this one at all. Well, more or less.

 

The setting and atmosphere is excellently done and chilling. The whole vibe of everyone being a bit skewed from right in the head persistent and disturbing. The content on colonization, "civilizing" other cultures, and the measure of human vs savage highly quotable. Actually, for such a short thing, the amount of bits I marked and saved is staggering.

 

And for such a short thing, the amount of time it took me to read is staggering. It's the way the book is written I think, with the chronicler speaking with little pauses and running the happenings together, till you have no paragraph breaks to help you organize what the hell is going on, what's important, how you go from this to that. You are mentally bombarded with chaos in a way, which, OK, might actually be the deliberate genius of the author, making you feel what the character is talking about. But hell.

 

It was an interesting experience that I more or less enjoyed till a third in, and then I just wanted to end. I'm absolutely baffled by Kurt, or the point the character's existence was making in the story, beyond being some mcguffin reason to have our teller go in and go back, because knowing that Conrad liked writing about the fragility of morals, sanity and civilized trappings under the cover of darkness, it seems to me Kurt was pretty well touched BEFORE going to rob African's of their ivory (his cousin says he would have made an excellent party leader, any party, because he was in essence an extremist, and god, how that reminded me of parts of Invisible Man), so it's not like he would be a great example?.

 

This review is a mess, but this book is messing with my head because I can't quite grasp it, or even rate it. I'm thinking of raisin the stars on the fact that it's making me wreak my brains alone, since it already got the "pass" 2 on quotes and atmosphere alone.

 

It is an usual obligatory read? My condolences.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 31 out of 166 pages.
Heart of Darkness - Robert Hampson, Joseph Conrad

I ventured to hint that the Company was run for profit.
“‘You forget, dear Charlie, that the labourer is worthy of his hire,’ she said, brightly. It’s queer how out of touch with truth women are. They live in a world of their own, and there has never been anything like it, and never can be. It is too beautiful altogether, and if they were to set it up it would go to pieces before the first sunset. Some confounded fact we men have been living contentedly with ever since the day of creation would start up and knock the whole thing over.

 

Charming *grimace*

 

So, the doctor was not a horror-tale gatekeeper at all. Or the Swedish captain.

 

I’ve seen the devil of violence, and the devil of greed, and the devil of hot desire; but, by all the stars! these were strong, lusty, red-eyed devils, that swayed and drove men—men, I tell you. But as I stood on this hillside, I foresaw that in the blinding sunshine of that land I would become acquainted with a flabby, pretending, weak-eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly. How insidious he could be, too, I was only to find out several months later and a thousand miles farther.

 

That's no ominous at all...

 

Then a description of the working settlement... welcome to sanity-ville?

 

Points for setting the atmosphere from page one and the starting ramble.

 

His appearance was certainly that of a hairdresser’s dummy; but in the great demoralization of the land he kept up his appearance. That’s backbone. His starched collars and got-up shirt-fronts were achievements of character.

 

Sure. Not a desperate attempt at staying civilized at all.

 

Review
5 Stars
Deserves the Hype
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik

I did not expect to enjoy this as much as I did.

 

Beyond the absolutely endearing dragon (and a book-lover dragon at that, how can you pack more win?) and the lovely friendship with Laurence, the setting goes into many issues I would not have expected it to, but that would be the logical result of dragons existing, being intelligent, and drafted into the military.

 

It made me laugh, and think, and I mowed through most of it in one sitting. Full stars.

 

 

I couldn't find my cat this morning. I just found out my neighbor's dog caught it. He's still breathing, but I think his back has been snapped to hell and back, because he moves no paws, nor does he seem to feel any pain.

Reading progress update: I've read 240 out of 353 pages.
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik

This talk of whores and marriage! I can't stop laughing! Then it's tempered with the awww bit. And then

 

“I am merely curious, now, if that is all there is in Dover,” Temeraire said. “For Roland is too young for whores, is she not?”

 

Aaand back to the giggle fest

 

Edit: Now they talk about children and the long lives of dragons, and the difficulties of relationships for aviators, and it all adds up to the natural conclusion and I'm gasping for breath from pure mirth.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 160 out of 353 pages.
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik

“Oh, yes, that would be splendid too; we could read that next,” Temeraire said. “It is very nice how many books there are, indeed; and on so many subjects.”

 

I can't get over this. A book-lover dragon. A book-wyrm. So cute. *squee*

 

Reading progress update: I've read 105 out of 353 pages.
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik

“Oh, they were just afraid,” he said. “I thought she was like Volly at first. I do not understand; it is not as though they were cows, and anyway I have just eaten.”

 

LMAO! Temeraire being sweet to the mentally challenged is the gift that keeps on giving

 

Reading progress update: I've read 55 out of 353 pages.
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik

“I am afraid I am not rich enough a partner for you; I will not be able to give you a heap of gold to sleep on.”

“I should rather have you than a heap of gold, even if it were very comfortable to sleep on,” Temeraire said. “I do not mind the deck.”

 

Awww. And the way Lawrence is not liking to say no. And the snuggles. This is so sweet.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 40 out of 353 pages.
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik

I came in a bit wary of the hype and the starting military tone, but I've just read the first flight, and OK, I'm a believer

 

*makes herself comfortable with book*

 

currently reading

Progress: 1886/4260minutes
Progress: 189/366pages
Progress: 27/260pages
Progress: 140/288pages
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Progress: 260/386pages
Progress: 72/224pages