book review

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

This book was a really fun read. It is an older historical fiction novel full of comedy, beheadings, secret societies, spies, romance, and of course interesting history – it really covers a lot of bases. I would recommend this book to anyone as it is a fairly light and quick read, but the vocabulary is a bit outdated and the author was fond of really long, uncommon words, so have your phone or a dictionary handy.

The Scarlet Pimpernel is set in the Reign of Terror, and puts a human face on the historical events of the French Revolution and Republican use of the guillotine against the aristocratic classes. The Scarlet Pimpernel is the name of an English James Bond type figure who, along with his band of loyal men, orchestrates the escape of aristocrats out of gated Paris across the channel to England where they will be safe. His symbol is an English star shaped flower, a pimpernel, which he uses to sign his missives. He is an enemy of the Republican government in France, and they start a covert search for him, making the book a race to see who will win.

It is interesting, from a modern American perspective, to see the “good guy” revolutionaries who just wanted a better life cast as really unappealing characters. The book is comical and unexpected and a really great read. I give it 4/5 stars – I definitely want a copy on my shelves and will probably have my children read it when they study the French Revolution as it is a different perspective than the one you usually find. If you’re into living books, this is a book for you!

Rating Scale

1/5 – Awful / would not read again / maybe could not finish.

2/5 – Low quality work / some enjoyment / not worth the time

3/5 – Don’t regret, Don’t love / would add to my shelf if it is a piece of literature

4/5 – Would maybe read again / Definitely would add to my shelf because BOOKS

5/5 – Would definitely read more than once / Must buy / Gives you the happy book love feels.

book review

The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase

There is something captivating about the word wildling, isn’t there? It’s evocative of freedom and nature and you can almost smell the fresh pine needles on the cool breeze you imagine is carrying you the quiet noises of a dim forest in summer. That feeling is what drew me to pick up this book in an airport recently, and the recommendation by Kate Morton sealed the deal – I couldn’t have stopped my credit card from swiping had I wanted to.

It is a very quick read, reminiscent of the Gothic type stories like Jane Eyre and Kate Morton’s books. It wasn’t of the same caliber as either Bronte’s or Morton’s works, but that is an admittedly high bar by which to measure a book and it certainly was well written, nonetheless. There was just enough creepiness to the characters and background level darkness to keep you avidly reading. It has two story lines taking place in the same location but in different time periods and it is cool to see the result of the previous generations on the later time periods before you find out what truly happened back then. Overall, I would say I am glad it is on my bookshelf and I could see myself re-reading it by the pool or at the beach someday, but I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to add it to a curated collection – unquestionably worth checking out from your local library though!

I give this book 3.5/5 stars because it doesn’t quite meet the need it on your bookshelf requirement, but it also is an engrossing, quality read I would recommend to a friend looking for a quick and fun book.

Rating Scale

1/5 – Awful / would not read again / maybe could not finish.

2/5 – Low quality work / some enjoyment / not worth the time

3/5 – Don’t regret, Don’t love / would add to my shelf if it is a piece of literature

4/5 – Would read again / Definitely would add to my shelf because BOOKS

5/5 – Would definitely read more than once / Must buy / Gives you the happy book love feels.

book review, Quotes

Stoner by John Williams

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Someone introduced this book to me as one of the great books of American literature and I was surprised that I had never heard of it. I added it to the book list and finally got around to reading it recently. It was beautiful in a soul aching, real kind of way and even after reading it, I’m not sure why. The book itself is the story of one simple and totally complex man’s life, but it’s also a story of every man. I cannot tell you how the story of an unremarkable man, written without ornamentation reminds me of a heroic epic, but it does. I’m giving this book 5/5 stars because I can’t stop thinking about it a month after I finished it in a good way and its hauntingly clear and simple language. I think I will end up reading it again in the future – it has the book magic.

William Stoner is the son of two poor farmers when he is introduced to the idea of going to university to learn more about agriculture. His parents send him there at great cost to both them and him, but as he starts his coursework he is arrested by one of his general education requirements: literature. I think any book lover will understand why. So begins a lifelong love affair with books that will take him away from his small life and into an idealized life of scholarship and marriage to a “higher-class” woman, which turns out to be less than ideal. It’s the story of one man’s struggle with American society and false dreams, and his power to carry on and find a measure of unexpected happiness. His life is also a recording of great events in American history and spans both world wars. It manages to completely capture and comment on society during that time period in an unobtrusive way – you almost don’t even realize it until you’re done reading. The best part of this book are the characters, all of which are nearly tangible they’re so well portrayed.

Favorite Quotes:

“Sometimes, immersed in his books, there would come to him the awareness of all that he did not know, and all that he had not read.”

“In his forty-third year William Stoner learned what others, much younger, had learned before him: that the person one loves at first is not the person one loves at last, and that love is not an end but a process through which one person attempts to know another.”

“In the University library he wandered through the stacks, among the thousands of books, inhaling the musty odor of leather, cloth, and drying page as if it were an exotic incense.”

 

Rating Scale

1/5 – Awful / would not read again / maybe could not finish.

2/5 – Low quality work / some enjoyment / not worth the time

3/5 – Don’t regret, Don’t love / would add to my shelf if it is a piece of literature

4/5 – Would read again / Definitely would add to my shelf because BOOKS

5/5 – Would definitely read more than once / Must buy / Gives you the happy book love feels.

Philosophy, Tea and Books

David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion 3.5/5

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If you’ve ever grappled with the questions of where the universe comes from, if there is a deity, how does science reconcile itself with faith and the ultimate why of the origin of the universe – this is the book for you. This book is filled with philosophical debate set in conversational form making it much more accessible and less dry than a didactic text. IF you’re interested, grab a dictionary and a large pot of tea and settle in to this relatively short read.

My reaction upon reading the book, copied from my journal:

We (mankind as a whole) have always come up with theories to answer the unending whys of the world. We have nearly always and universally held our theories to be self-evident truths. As technology and the breadth of human understanding grows, these self-evident truths have largely fallen by the wayside as scientific explanations overtake them – why not the idea of an omnipotent GOD? Continue reading “David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion 3.5/5”

Books We're Reading, Tea and Books

Book Review – The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton …. Opinion and Quotes

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Kate Morton is hands down one of my favorite authors. I generally prefer reading classics to modern literature because it’s harder for me to get lost in modern stories. There’s no nostalgia for a bygone age to color the mundane rose in a modern novel, but somehow Kate Morton always manages to capture the nostalgia of the present – or what will become nostalgia. This book didn’t disappoint. Part of the reason I really love her books is that they’re sort of modern gothics, without the predictability of your typical whodunnit – I never see the end coming. In this one she had me doubly fooled – I was so certain I had it figured out (and a little smug about it too!) but at the end there was an unexpected twist. It makes me feel like a child again – the delicious surprise of not knowing how a story will end – the  battle between the absolute irresistibility of it and never wanting it to end. Well worth the read and the space on your shelf.

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Rating Scale

1/5 – Awful / would not read again / maybe could not finish.

2/5 – Low quality work / some enjoyment / not worth the time

3/5 – Don’t regret, Don’t love / would add to my shelf if it is a piece of literature

4/5 – Would read again / Definitely would add to my shelf because BOOKS!

5/5 – Would definitely read more than once / Must buy / Gives you the happy book love feels.

Quotes, Tea and Books

Book Review – Don Quixote … Opinion and Favorite Quotes.

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Don Quixote was a difficult book for me to finish. It took a long time for me to get through it, and I can’t say I loved it. But, something about it had me hooked so I persevered. It’s long, repetitive and written in language that doesn’t resonate well with today’s world. It’s also funny and insightful and full of personalities that are the opposite of what they seem. I thought the end of the book was the best and also the more developed portion – which made it go faster as I got closer to the end. I loved that nearly every character was the opposite of what they purported to be and the fun the author had with those contradictions. It was also an interesting look into the state of Spain during the Inquisition and how it affected the lives of ordinary people. There were frequent run ins with persecuted “Moors” and consideration was given at all times to what the inquisitorial officials would think of things. This part of the book is sadly relevant today in our world – we still haven’t learned kindness.

Here are my favorite quotes from the book:

“Sleep thou, who wa’st born to sleep, or follow thy own inclinations; for my part, I will behave as becomes a person of my aspirations.”

“I myself have experienced that the mountains produce learned men, and that philosophers are to be found within the shepherd’s cot.”

“Blood is hereditary, but virtue is acquired, consequently, this last has an intrinsic value which the other does not possess.”

“Let the tears of the poor find more compassion in thy breast, tho’ not more justice, than the testimony of the rich.”

“If ever you suffer the rod of justice to be bent a little, let it not be warped, by the weight of corruption, but by the heart of sympathy.”

“Give thyself no concern about what thou mayest hear, otherwise there will be no end of thy vexation: console thyself with a good conscience and let them say what they will; for, it is as impracticable to tie up the tongue of malice as to erect barricades in open fields.”

“Liberty is one of the most precious gifts which heaven hath bestowed on man, exceeding all the treasures which earth encloses or which ocean hides; and for this blessing, as well as for honour, we may and ought to venture life itself: on the other hand, captivity and restraint are the greatest evils that human nature can endure.”

Great advice from a madman.

Rating Scale

1/5 – Awful / would not read again / maybe could not finish.

2/5 – Low quality work / some enjoyment / not worth the time

3/5 – Don’t regret, Don’t love / would add to my shelf if it is a piece of literature

4/5 – Would read again / Definitely would add to my shelf because BOOKS!

5/5 – Would definitely read more than once / Must buy / Gives you the happy book love feels.

Books We're Reading

Books We’re Reading (Feb 23 2018)

This past week, I was going to put my grand new plan of going to the library every Monday into action. We ended up at the the library Thursday afternoon. We were supposed to be focusing on picture books to help learn colors. One would think that with an extra three days to prepare for our trip to the library, I would have had a list ready and some idea of the books I wanted to get…. but nope – winging it all the way this week. The choices ended up being a bit more random because I was unprepared, but Charlie is enjoying the books anyway and it was a good chance to really familiarize myself with my library’s children’s section (Or at least try with a busy 13 month old on the loose!) We took home six books and we’ve read them all multiple times except for one that is a little too old for Charlie right now, but I’ve put it on a list to come back to when he’s a little older.

Continue reading “Books We’re Reading (Feb 23 2018)”