2016 Book #11 – Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonegut

610pDdsNz1LTitle: Slaughterhouse-Five (or the Children’s Crusade)
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Date finished: 2/8/16
Genre: Fiction, science fiction, literary fiction
Publisher: Delacorte
Publication Date: 1969
Pages in book: 215
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

Unstuck in time, Billy Pilgrim, Vonnegut’s shattered survivor of the Dresden bombing, relives his life over and over again under the gaze of aliens; he comes at last to some understanding of the human comedy. The basis of George Roy’s great 1972 film and perhaps the signature student’s novel in the 1960’s embracing protest and the absurdity of war.

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (February). Also, this book will count towards my “PopSugar 2016 Checklist” reading challenge, marking off the “a science-fiction novel” box since this is a science fiction novel. Obviously this is a well known book, popular for many high-school reading lists. I never happened to read this book in high school so I was interested to read it now. It was… weird. Not what I expected it would be. I said this at my book club tonight, but for anyone that watches Family Guy it felt a lot like a Family Guy episode to me, with pretty much any random thing you can think of all thrown into one story line. That’s mostly what this book felt like to me.
Overall this book left me feeling like I missed something. I felt like there should’ve been more of a point or an ah-ha! moment, but I didn’t find one. It was a quick read and kept my interest but other than that I just wasn’t thrilled with the book. Its a classic though, even included on Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime listing. So I can’t say that I don’t recommend it but be prepared for a good dose of weird.

The bottom line: I have to say I would recommend mostly because this is one of those things that I think everyone should read. Like I said before though, be prepared for some just odd stuff.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #109 – The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells

51WGFB7KW6L._SX303_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Island of Dr. Moreau
Author: H.G. Wells
Date finished: 10/18/15
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: 1896
Pages in book: 157
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

Ranked among the classic novels of the English language and the inspiration for several unforgettable movies, this early work of H. G. Wells was greeted in 1896 by howls of protest from reviewers, who found it horrifying and blasphemous. They wanted to know more about the wondrous possibilities of science shown in his first book, The Time Machine, not its potential for misuse and terror. In The Island of Dr. Moreau a shipwrecked gentleman named Edward Prendick, stranded on a Pacific island lorded over by the notorious Dr. Moreau, confronts dark secrets, strange creatures, and a reason to run for his life.
While this riveting tale was intended to be a commentary on evolution, divine creation, and the tension between human nature and culture, modern readers familiar with genetic engineering will marvel at Wells’s prediction of the ethical issues raised by producing “smarter” human beings or bringing back extinct species. These levels of interpretation add a richness to Prendick’s adventures on Dr. Moreau’s island of lost souls without distracting from what is still a rip-roaring good read.

My rating:  3.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (October). This book definitely wasn’t something I would have picked up on my own but I have to say it was absolutely the perfect thing to read during October. I found it to be very creepy and gave me the goosebumps thinking about these creatures that Prendick encounters on the island. It was only 157 pages so it was a quick read. Basically Prendick finds himself lost in the middle of the ocean on a dingy and he gets picked up by a boat with a man named Montgomery aboard. Montgomery is Moreau’s assistant and he’s returning to the island after picking up some supplies. Prendick gets ditched on the island too and even though Montgomery is very hesitant about letting him stay, he doesn’t really have much of a choice.
Prendick encounters many different kinds of people on the island, though there seems to be something a little off about each one and he finds himself wary of these creatures. Turns out Dr. Moreau had been performing vivisection on various animals over the last 10 years on the island and had managed to mold different animals together to take on a human-like form. I guess my issue is that I can’t imagine what these beasts would have looked like and how they possibly could have resembled a human even in the slightest.
MV5BMjI0OTY1NDY5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjkwODg0NA@@._V1_SX640_SY720_I mean none of the creatures in the photo look even remotely human to me. And Dr. Moreau spoke some about combining the different animals brains together. I’m not a scientist or anything but I feel like that wouldn’t really be possible. I don’t think you can take 2 separate brains and mash them together and have them work. I think with humans they are able to replace certain lobes of the brain but they use another human brain I’m pretty sure, I don’t think you can graft brains across different species.
I thought this was an interesting book though and it was a great October read. Its also a literary classic so I would recommend giving it a try if you haven’t already!

The bottom line: I liked this book fine. I don’t think I loved it but it was a short easy read and was appropriately creepy for the month of October.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #51 – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

61paZu9n9jL

Title: Pride & Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen
Date finished: 5/30/15
Genre: Literary classics
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication Date: 1813
Pages in book: 262
Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Blurb from the cover:

One of the most universally loved and admired English novels, Pride and Prejudice was penned as a popular entertainment. But the consummate artistry of Jane Austen (1775–1817) transformed this effervescent tale of rural romance into a witty, shrewdly observed satire of English country life that is now regarded as one of the principal treasures of English language.
In a remote Hertfordshire village, far off the good coach roads of George III’s England, a country squire of no great means must marry off his five vivacious daughters. At the heart of this all-consuming enterprise are his headstrong second daughter Elizabeth Bennet and her aristocratic suitor Fitzwilliam Darcy — two lovers whose pride must be humbled and prejudices dissolved before the novel can come to its splendid conclusion.

My rating: 4 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Roof Beam Reader TBR Pile Reading Challenge, #1 on the list I set for myself at the beginning of this year. I can say with complete honesty that I have no idea how its possible that I haven’t read this book yet. I started it a few years ago and never finished it, which in itself is not all that surprising, though it is rare for me to do that. But this combined with the fact that the movie is probably one of my all time favorite movies and that I have at this point watched it well over one hundred times makes the fact that I haven’t read the book simply boggling. Therefore when I was lining up my list for the TBR Pile Reading Challenge at the beginning of this year, this one was the first to go on my list.
I expected this but I absolutely loved the book. The prose is magical and beautiful in and of itself, I was forever drawn into the way Austen would describe certain scenes and marveled that simply the way the words were strung together could give my heart such joy. The story I’m sure everyone is familiar with so I will not go into detail on the plot. I will comment that both Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy evolve so much as characters in the book, it is interesting to see how they grow and change as people through the story.
This is an excellent love story, exactly as it is purported to be.

The bottom line: I would definitely recommend this book, everyone should read it. I think this is one of the staples of a well-rounded young reader.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2014 – Book #69

download

The sixty-ninth book I read in 2014 was A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. I finished this book on 8/11/14. I rated this book (really a play) 4.5 stars out of a scale of 5. This was actually a re-read for me since I read this in high school for my AP English class. This play tells the story of really 4 groups of people: 1) Theseus, Duke of Athens, and his bride to be Hippolyta 2) 4 young Athenians Lysander, Hermia, Demetrius, and Helena 3) 6 Athenian workers who are rehearsing a play to perform at the Duke’s wedding and 4) Oberon and Titania, King and Queen of the Fairies. 

Lysander and Hermia are in love but Hermia’s father wants her to marry Demetrius, so Hermia and Lysander prepare to run away from Athens where they can be together. Helena is in love with Demetrius even though he’s in love with Hermia and so, in trying to endear himself to her, Helena tells Demetrius of Hermia and Lysanders’ plans. Demetrius follows the couple into the woods to try and stop them and Helena follows Demetrius. 

King Oberon wants to play a trick on his wife and so finds a flower that will make you fall in love with the next person you see when it is used. Thinking to help Helena, Oberon tells the fairy Puck to use the flower on Demetrius. Puck mistakenly uses the flower on Lysander and then trying to fix his error uses it on Demetrius as well, so now both the men are in love with Helena instead of Hermia. 

I really enjoy this story a lot because of the interesting plot. It is a great comedy. While I was reading I noted a few things that I found to be interesting. This play mentions the queen of Carthage, which I thought was interesting as this is the second book I have read in the past couple weeks that talks about this queen. A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James (https://rebeccabookreview.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/2014-book-61/) also mentions the Queen of Carthage (Dido). Act I scene 1 line 173 of A Midsummer Night’s Dream says “And by that fire which burned the Carthage queen” referencing the funeral pyre that Dido threw herself upon. I also found Act III scene 2 around lines 300-325 interesting because I do believe that was England’s portrayal of a cat fight. I can just picture Hermia with her fists up and Helena trying to find somewhere to hide so she doesn’t get punched in the face. 

This is a great play and a true comedy. Perfect for lifting your spirits! I found the “Pelican Shakespeare” vision so easy to use, there were footnotes that explained various words, phrases, and references. I know reading Shakespeare can appear a bit daunting to some but I would definitely recommend giving this play a try! It is a great read!!

Link to Wikipedia article on Queen of Carthage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dido_(Queen_of_Carthage)

Link to Wikipedia article on A Midsummer Night’s Dream play: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Midsummer_Night’s_Dream

Link to website about William Shakespeare: http://www.william-shakespeare.info/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Midsummer-Pelican-Shakespeare-published-Classics/dp/B00E297RCE/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1407789248&sr=1-9&keywords=pelican+shakespeare+midsummer+night%27s+dream

2014 – Book #56

250px-Littleprince

The thirty-sixth book I read in 2014 was The Little Prince (originally Le Petit Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I finished this book on 6/25/14. I rated this book 4.75 stars out of a scale of 5. This is the “unique and universal” book on Goodread’s/Amazon’s “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime” listing. Also, one of my mini-goals this year was to read a book that was published before 1950 and this one (published in 1943) fits the bill. This book is about a man who becomes stranded in the desert when his plane crashes. While in the desert fixing his plane he encounters what seems to be a young boy who asks him to draw him a sheep. What follows is a fantastical tale about the young boy who turns out to be an alien traveling from his small planet where he has left his beloved flower behind.

I found this book extremely interesting. I love so many of the lines, which seem to teach more meaningful lessons through a playful tale to children/young adults about an alien boy. From page 15, “Sometimes there’s no harm in postponing your work until later. But with baobabs, its always a catastrophe.” The little prince at the time was talking about the bushes on his planet and that if he let them grow and didn’t pay attention to them then they could destroy his planet. But the message is a deeper life lesson that young people could learn from this book. I found that to be the case with many quotes from this book, including the story of the flower from page 19 in the book, the little prince is talking about the flower he left behind on his planet and what the thorns on the flower signify. The “adult” in the story (the man whose plane crashed) says that its not important, he’s trying to fix his plane which is important so he doesn’t want to discuss the thorns on flowers and their purpose. The little prince bursts into tears, and he makes an excellent point about the fact that on his planet, there is only one flower and that makes the topic important to him. “If someone loves a flower of just one example exists among all the millions and millions of stars, that’s enough to make him happy when he looks at the stars. He tells himself, ‘My flower’s up there somewhere…’ But if the sheep eats the flower, then for him its as if, suddenly, all the stars went out. And that isn’t important?” What may seem insignificant to one person could mean the world to someone else. Everyone in the world has things and people that we care for and mankind as a whole should be considerate of those cares.

And yet later on in the book the little prince sees a whole bush full of the same single flower he left behind on his planet. “And then he said to himself, I thought I was rich because I had just one flower, and all I own is an ordinary rose… It doesn’t make me much of a prince. And he laid down in the grass and wept.” There are times in everyone’s life that we are truly humbled. That we realize that we are not the richest nor the most important people. And while these times may seem depressing as we experience them, they teach us our place in the grand scheme of the world.

One of the things that kept coming up as a question to me in this book was whether the flower being referenced was meant to be an analogy to a woman. The flower is discussed many times in a tone of reverence but also frustration. “You must never listen to flowers. You must look at them and smell them. Mine perfumed my planet and I didn’t know how to enjoy that… In those days, I didn’t know anything. I should have judged her according to her actions, not her words. She perfumed my planet and lit up my life.” I can’t help but think that the writer is hinting at a man’s relationship with a woman by discussing the prince’s relationship with the flower. I can’t be quite sure though. The article on Wikipedia does state that the author wrote the rose in reference to his wife Consuelo. From the Wikipedia article, “Despite a raucous marriage, Antoine kept Consuelo close to heart and portrayed her as the prince’s Rose whom he tenderly protects with a wind screen and under a glass dome on his tiny planet. Saint-Exupéry’s infidelity and the doubts of his marriage are symbolized by the vast field of roses the prince encounters during his visit to Earth.” While I can’t be 100% sure as to the accuracy of the Wikipedia article, I can definitely see the connection.

Other wisdom gained from this book includes a number of lines from page 31. “One must command from each what each can perform.” Otherwise, a ruler can not command anything from its subjects that they can not reasonably perform for him.” Another bit of wisdom “It is much harder to judge yourself that to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself, its because you are truly a wise man.”

Overall this is just such a fantastic read. Not only is it short (a mere 83 pages) but it is also profound in its own way. I guess it is possible that I am reading more into it than I ought but many of the situations presented in the book I found myself looking deeper into the story. Like the real significance of the flower on the little prince’s planet and the discussion in the book of the meaning of “tamed.” It wasn’t so complicated though that it was a difficult read, it was just very interesting the way it was presented by the author. I would highly recommend to all!

Goodread’s/Amazon’s “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime” listing: http://www.amazon.com/b/ref=bhp_brws_100bks?ie=UTF8&node=8192263011&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-leftnav&pf_rd_r=15NGNHHEHC9AP9YBWM40&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1779646742&pf_rd_i=283155#

Link to Wikipedia site on The Little Prince: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Prince

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0547978847/ref=amb_link_397448882_417?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-5&pf_rd_r=0TGFN93T2Z2YM13DWBCA&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1815568282&pf_rd_i=8192263011

2014 – Book #46

untitled (2)

The forty-sixth book I read in 2014 was Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. I finished this book on 5/31/14. I rated this book (really a play) 4.25 stars out of a scale of 5. This was actually a re-read for me since I read this in high school for my AP English class. This is one of my favorite works by Shakespeare, a comedy in which Countess Olivia falls in love with Viola, who is disguised as a young boy (Cesario). Viola falls in love with Orsino, the Duke of Illyria, but Orsino is in love with Olivia. And when Viola’s twin brother Sebastian shows up (looking exactly like the disguised Viola) and marries Olivia, all hell breaks lose.

To be honest one of the things I have always really liked about this play is a modern-day adaptation of it, She’s The Man starring Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum. The characters names are even the same as in the Shakespeare play. The movie is set in a school named Illyria, where Amanda Bynes (Viola) disguises herself as a boy to be able to play on the soccer team. This has been one of my favorite all time movies and is a funny adaptation of Twelfth Night.

220px-She's_the_man_poster

There is something really beautiful about the way Shakespeare rights, even though sometimes it can be a little hard to follow. There are a lot of words, phrases, and references that readers today might not understand. That’s why I found the “Pelican Shakespeare” vision so easy to use, there were footnotes that explained various words, phrases, and references. Shakespeare’s plays can sometimes be difficult to work your way through but I would definitely recommend giving Twelfth Night a read. Its funny and interesting and full of plot twists. Great read!

Link to Wikipedia article on Twelfth Night play: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelfth_Night

Link to website about William Shakespeare: http://www.william-shakespeare.info/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Twelfth-night-What-you-will/dp/B007EQG6N8/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1401572457&sr=1-2-fkmr1&keywords=twelfth+night+edited+by+jonathan+crewe