A Classic Couple: Jane Eyre and Jellicoe Road

A while ago I made a post sharing some classic and contemporary pairs and since then I’ve been explaining each pair week by week. Today I’ll be delving deeper into one of my favorite classic couples: Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road. As you likely already know by now from the countless times I’ve mentioned them on this blog, these are two of my favorite books. Now it’s time to compare them!

Protagonists || Despite the decades that separate them, there are actually many similarities between Jane Eyre and Taylor Markham. Both young women are independent, clever, and resilient. They’re also both orphans: Jane’s parents died of typhus while Taylor’s mother abandoned her at a Seven Eleven when she was eleven years old. The two girls end up being cared for by institutions (the Lowood Institution and the Jellicoe School). Both end up leaving their institutions eventually (though with varying degrees of success).

Love Interests || How could we not discuss Mr. Rochester and Jonah Griggs? Though these men seem disagreeable at first, they are actually sensitive and caring (can’t escape that romance trope!). Though their budding relationships are certainly dramatic at times, it’s nevertheless really fun to read about them.

Hidden Pasts || Jane and Taylor grapple with secrets from the past, both in their own lives and in those of others. Mystery appears early on in Jellicoe Road as Taylor reads the manuscript Hannah has been writing for years. Over time Taylor pieces together the sections that are written out-of-order; however, she doesn’t realize the full implications of the story until much later. For Jane, the mystery comes in the form of secrets she learns about Mr. Rochester’s past. It seems as though everyone has a little something to hide.

Personal Growth || The character development in Jane Eyre and Jellicoe Road is remarkable. We follow Jane as she matures from a little girl into a young woman and Taylor as she comes to understand her own identity and the person she wants to be. Not only are these women brave, resilient, and determined, but they are also kind, caring, and thoughtful by the end of these novels. Brontë and Marchetta didn’t sacrifice softness for strength, which is something I greatly admire.

What are your thoughts on these books? Are there any other books that share these qualities? Have any recommendations? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Top Ten Tuesday: More Foodie Facts About Me

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is about food, but I’ve decided to stray slightly from the bookish path. The last time there was a food-related theme I shared 10 foodie facts about me, which was a lot of fun… so I’m going to do the same thing again!

1. If I had to eat one food for the rest of my life, it would probably be pizza.

I love pizza. For years we’ve had what we call Pizza Friday at my house back home in which my mom makes/buys pizza every Friday and it’s the greatest tradition ever. I definitely miss it now that I’m abroad!

2. I love picking berries.

Every summer I pick strawberries and blueberries at a local farm and it’s so much fun. (The resulting strawberry rhubarb and blueberry pies aren’t bad either!)

3. My favorite ice cream flavor is cookie dough.

If you’ve never made homemade cookie dough ice cream with actual pieces of cookie dough in it, then you have not lived. It’s amazing.

4. Cinnamon makes everything better.

My laziness in the kitchen coupled with limited supplies and ingredients means that I tend to look for the quickest, easiest way to make simple things taste better. My solution? Cinnamon! (Especially in porridge!)

5. I’m loyal to one specific burrito place.

Back home there’s a restaurant called Las Olas that makes amazing burritos– so amazing that I have yet to taste ones elsewhere that are better! I miss Las Olas dearly.

6. I’ve never eaten sushi.

I’ve been told many times by various people that this is strange, but there you have it. I’m sure I would like rolls with just veggies; however, the idea of eating raw fish is pretty unappetizing.

7. I often crave lemonade.

For some reason whenever I’m tired or really thirsty all I want is a big glass of lemonade. There’s just something so satisfying about it!

8. Whoppers are one of my favorite kinds of candy.

You have no idea how much shade I have received for genuinely enjoying Whoppers. Apparently they’re not very popular, but I appreciate them for being a) chocolate and b) nut free. Kudos to you, Whoppers!

9. Raisins in porridge is my new favorite breakfast.

I love oatmeal (or porridge, as they call it in England) because it’s quick and easy to make yet it still fills you up. Recently I discovered that the grocery store closest to my dorm sells bags of raisins for baking, which are delicious in a hot bowl of oats in the morning. It’s not as good as the granola I eat at home, but it’s a close second!

10. Toast is an underrated food.

Toast is good for any and all occasions: breakfast, part of a meal, as a midnight snack… the possibilities are endless!

What are some foodie facts about you? What do you think of the ones I’ve shared? If you had to eat just one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Freshers’ Week | Holly Goes Abroad

Freshers’ Week: that infamous transition period after everyone is on campus but term hasn’t yet officially begun. I had heard many things about it before coming here but I wasn’t sure which rumors had merit and which were false. Did people actually just go out and get drunk every night? (Yes.) Was that all there was to do? (No.) Would I still have course work to do? (Absolutely.) Does freshers’ flu exist? (YES.)

Freshers’ Week is essentially seven days of orientation for first year students during which they learn how to be students both academically and socially. I’m not going to lie: it was a strange, strange week. I’m a third year college student back in the States, which means that I’ve already been through the standard discussions about racial diversity, asking consent, and fire safety. Everyone in the room felt so young and it felt weird to be constantly asked if I was a freshman as well. The students in my particular program are in a unique position: we know how to be students, just not how to be students at Oxford. There’s a fine line there that’s hard to describe, but it’s definitely there. 

Even stranger than this phantom fresher feeling was the fact that the college itself sanctioned events relating to and centering around alcohol. Back home that would be illegal because the drinking age is 21, but here it is obviously not a problem because the drinking age is 18. The college led pub crawls, organized club nights, and had a fully stocked bar at our bop. Perhaps this has just been my experience, but here it feels like there’s less pressure to drink to get drunk; instead, people drink to have a good time or to be social at relaxed pubs.

Speaking of bops, they’re basically my new favorite thing. A bop is a party that a college will host, usually in their Junior Common Room. Each one has a different theme that dictates what kind of costume you decide to where. The goal is make the best costume by spending the least amount of money on it, so you can imagine the chaos and fun that ensues. Our theme was to dress up as something that starts with the first letter of your first name. Naturally, I dressed up as Hermione. The bop was a great event to end Freshers’ Week with, especially because the name-centric theme helped me learn more people’s’ names!

Last but not least, we come to the dreadful part of Freshers’ Week: what is fondly called the freshers’ flu. Lectures this week were a sea of sick, coughing students all chugging water and as much Vitamin C as they possibly could. The lack of sleep coupled with mountains of course work certainly doesn’t help– but we push through!

Whether or not you’ve experienced a Freshers’ Week of your own, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little jaunt into mine! It’s certainly a week I won’t forget.

Click here to check out other posts in my Holly Goes Abroad series!

Have you ever experienced a Freshers’ Week? Been to a bop? What would you have dressed up as according to my bop’s theme? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge | Update 1

Nearly a year ago I posted my introduction to the Rory Gilmore reading challenge, which I had completely forgot about until recently when I stumbled across another list online somewhere. Curious to see where I’m at with the list now, I’ve decided to share my first update!

In alphabetical order, the 339 texts are:

1984 by George Orwell
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll 
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Archidamian War by Donald Kagan
The Art of Fiction by Henry James
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Babe by Dick King-Smith
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
The Bhagava Gita
The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Bridgadoon by Alan Jay Lerner
Candide by Voltaire
The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
Christine by Stephen King
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
The Collected Short Stories by Eudora Welty
The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty
A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père
Cousin Bette by Honor’e de Balzac
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Cujo by Stephen King
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Daisy Miller by Henry James
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Da Vinci -Code by Dan Brown
Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Deenie by Judy Blume
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx
The Divine Comedy by Dante
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
Don Quijote by Cervantes
Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
Eloise by Kay Thompson
Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
Emma by Jane Austen
Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Ethics by Spinoza
Europe through the Back Door, 2003 by Rick Steves
Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Extravagance by Gary Krist
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore
The Fall of the Athenian Empire by Donald Kagan
Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
Fletch by Gregory McDonald
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
The Godfather: Book 1 by Mario Puzo
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
The Gospel According to Judy Bloom
The Graduate by Charles Webb
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Group by Mary McCarthy
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
Henry V by William Shakespeare
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris
The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
How the Light Gets In by M. J. Hyland
Howl by Allen Gingsburg
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
The Iliad by Homer
I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Iron Weed by William J. Kennedy
It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
The Jumping Frog by Mark Twain
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Lady Chatterleys’ Lover by D. H. Lawrence
The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield
Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Love Story by Erich Segal
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Manticore by Robertson Davies
Marathon Man by William Goldman
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Mencken’s Chrestomathy by H. R. Mencken
The Merry Wives of Windsro by William Shakespeare
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion by Jim Irvin
Moliere: A Biography by Hobart Chatfield Taylor
A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman
Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret
A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister by Julie Mars
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and It’s Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
My Life as Author and Editor by H. R. Mencken
My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru by Tim Guest
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature by Jan Lars Jensen
New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
Night by Elie Wiesel
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism by William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, Barbara E. Johnson, John P. McGowan
Novels 1930-1942: Dance Night/Come Back to Sorrento, Turn, Magic Wheel/Angels on Toast/A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Old School by Tobias Wolff
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
Oracle Night by Paul Auster
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Othello by Shakespeare
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
Out of Africa by Isac Dineson
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition by Donald Kagan
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Legs by McNeil and Gillian McCain
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
The Portable Nietzche by Fredrich Nietzche
The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Property by Valerie Martin
Pushkin: A Biography by T. J. Binyon
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
Quattrocento by James Mckean
A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
Rapunzel by Grimm Brothers
The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad by Virginia Holman
The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien
R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
Rita Hayworth by Stephen King
Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Robert
Roman Fever by Edith Wharton
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
Sanctuary by William Faulkner
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
The Scarecrow of Oz by Frank L. Baum
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
Selected Letters of Dawn Powell: 1913-1965 by Dawn Powell
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Several Biographies of Winston Churchill
Sexus by Henry Miller
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Shane by Jack Shaefer
The Shining by Stephen King
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton
Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Small Island by Andrea Levy
Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
Snow White and Rose Red by Grimm Brothers
Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World by Barrington Moore
The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos by Julia de Burgos
The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
Songbook by Nick Hornby
The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
Sonnets from the Portuegese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
A Streetcar Named Desiree by Tennessee Williams
Stuart Little by E. B. White
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Anne Collett
Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Term of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
Time and Again by Jack Finney
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Trial by Franz Kafka
The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Ulysses by James Joyce
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 by Sylvia Plath
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Unless by Carol Shields
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyers
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico (Thirty Three and a Third series) by Joe Harvard
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Walt Disney’s Bambi by Felix Salten
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
We Owe You Nothing – Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews edited by Daniel Sinker
What Colour is Your Parachute? 2005 by Richard Nelson Bolles
What Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

When I last updated this list I had read 54 books. At this point, I have read a total of 63 books from the list. This increase isn’t significant, though I’m still pleased considering that I completely forgot this list even existed until I stumbled upon my initial post recently and decided I should update it. Fingers crossed that I can read even more books from this list in the upcoming year!

Are you a Gilmore Girls fan? How many of these books have you read? Any that you highly recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

TIMELINE by Michael Crichton | Review

Every now and then you read a book that blurs the lines between genres, categorization, and explanation. Leave it to the fantastic writer Michael Crichton to create such a memorable novel! Set in both medieval Europe and contemporary United States, Timeline straddles science fiction and historical fiction as it blends time travel and centuries-old ruins into one entertaining story. Though Timeline isn’t my favorite book by Crichton, it is nevertheless well worth reading.

+ Blending genres. As previously mentioned, Timeline is unique in the way it seamlessly combines science fiction and historical fiction. Elements of each genre rely on the other to create this memorable story—take away one aspect and you would completely alter the quality of the novel. It reminds me of certain Doctor Who episodes when they go back in history and are taken aback by how different it is compared to what they expected it to be like. The message is the same: no matter how much we study history, we may never be able to truly understand how people lived before our time.

+ Attention to detail. As with all of Crichton’s books, the meticulous attention to detail in Timeline is remarkable. He actually makes you believe that such advanced time travel technology is possible—and might even be hiding in plain sight in our own society. His scientific theories (both fictional and actual) are fascinating and I can only imagine the amount of research about medieval times that had to be done in order to write this book.

+ Suspense. Crichton is the king of writing suspenseful, thrilling, engaging stories that keep you guessing until the very end. He is merciless when it comes to who dies and who survives, so you can never let yourself be lulled into a sense of comfort or ease. Who knows what might be lurking around the next corner? I was surprised by how frightening living in medieval times must have been!

Despite this novel’s strengths, I wouldn’t consider it my favorite book by Michael Crichton. I felt less invested in the characters than I did when reading Jurassic Park and Sphere, perhaps because there were so many of them. Timeline also seemed more plot-driven in comparison to his other books. Overall, I still enjoyed reading this page-turner and I can’t wait to read more by Michael Crichton!

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes, if they enjoy a) Michael Crichton’s other books, b) medieval history, and/or c) time travel. But I would definitely recommend other books by Crichton before this one.

What are your thoughts on Timeline? What’s your favorite book by Michael Crichton? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

A Classic Couple: The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Goldfinch

Weeks ago I made a Top Ten Tuesday post listing pairs of classics and contemporary books. After several people commented with further questions about these pairs, I decided to go through them individually in this weekly feature called A Classic Couple. Today I’ll be sharing similarities between dark, intense, captivating novels: Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch (2013). 

Atmosphere || Dark. Intense. Ethereal. The atmosphere of these books is similar to that of a twisted fairy tale. Though the writing is beautiful and the characters are witty, there’s nevertheless a looming sensation that something bad is lurking just around the corner.

Art || It’s no surprise from the covers, titles, and synopses of these novels that art is a common thread that runs between them. Both protagonists become obsessed with paintings: Dorian Gray with Basil’s portrait of himself and Theo Decker with a stolen painting that reminds him of his dead mother. These paintings reveal important aspects of the protagonists’ personalities (physically for Dorian and emotionally for Theo).

“Caring too much for objects can destroy you. Only—if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? And isn’t the whole point of things—beautiful things—that they connect you to some larger beauty?”  {from The Goldfinch}

The above quote comes from The Goldfinch, though it could easy fit in with Wilde’s musings on art in beauty in Dorian Gray. As these characters become obsessed with material objects, wealth, and beauty, they become unhappier, self-absorbed, and distanced from reality. Though their obsessions begin simply out of vanity and grief, they gradually become twisted and more complex.

Ambiguity || Dorian and Theo certainly don’t make it easy to wholeheartedly root for them. Between their bad decisions, foolish mistakes, and horrible treatment of others it seems as though they’re begging to be disliked. However, there’s something about these characters that makes it hard to completely discount them. Perhaps it’s because we recognize bits of ourselves in them: our vanity, pride, grief, confusion, and desire. Dorian and Theo may be flawed, but that’s what makes them human.

(Did I purposely use alliteration in these similarities? Maybe.)

What are your thoughts on these books? Are there any other books that seem similar to either of these? Let me know in the comment section below!

Yours,

HOLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Autumn Vibes

Happy Tuesday!! It’s autumn (AKA the best season of the year) and the lovely bloggers behind The Broke and the Bookish are celebrating with a fall-themed Top Ten Tuesday topic. Today I’ll be sharing ten books that give off autumn vibes. Some of these are obvious (they have to do with starting a new school year, changing seasons, etc.) but some remind of autumn for rather random reasons (it was autumn when I first read them, the cover is vaguely autumnal, etc.).

What do you think of the books on my list? What books give you autumn vibes? Is autumn your favorite season? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

LIBRARIES | Holly Goes Abroad

There are so many amazing things about Oxford that it’s incredibly difficult to choose just one favorite. However, if I had to pick a single thing that I absolutely adore about living here it would be the LIBRARIES.

My bookish friends, I am in library paradise.

There are still so many libraries that I have to explore, but the ones that I’ve visited thus far are breathtaking. Today I’ll be sharing my three favorite libraries in Oxford:

Bodleian Library

The Bodleian Library is HUGE (there’s me walking up the front steps for scale!). It stretches way beyond what is shown in the photo above and it even has several floors of underground tunnels that connect it to other libraries in Oxford. The Bod has over 12 million items and is the main research library for the University of Oxford. When I first arrived here I wasn’t sure I would be able to enter it as a visiting student. BUT I CAN! My university card gives me access, so I can go in and casually study there whenever it’s open. Dream. Come. True.

Noise levels are something that Oxford takes very seriously. Be it in dorms or libraries, they always emphasize the importance of being conscientious when others are working. Signs like the one in the photo above are sprinkled throughout the library’s center courtyard because it’s easy to hear people talking from inside the reading rooms when the windows are open. The Bod is a great place to study when you really need to focus. It’s also fun traversing its countless twists and turns!

Radcliffe Camera

There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of walking through the gates of the Radcliffe Camera to go study as tourists snap photos from afar. It’s still so surreal to me that I actually get to use these gorgeous libraries as study spaces! The Rad Cam is often used as an iconic image of Oxford. It’s located right behind the Old Bod, which is convenient if you want to switch up your study spot after a while or need a book that’s in one or the other.

I love studying on the top floor of the Rad Cam because you get to enjoy this incredible view. Whenever I need a quick break from reading I glance over the railing and admire the amazing architecture and gorgeous ceiling. It makes me feel like I’m in some sort of bookish castle!

Mansfield Main Library

Ah, the Mansfield main library. Mansfield College may be small, but its library is perfect. It’s cozy, cute, and just the right size. Chances are you can find a Mansfielder you know studying there at any hour of the day. The dining hall is in the next building, which means that you can spend all day on campus and not have to worry about losing your spot in the library when you leave for lunch or dinner. Mansfield also has theology, law, and PPE reading rooms, but this main library (where the English literature is!) is definitely my favorite of the bunch.

Also, I’d like to give an honorable mention shout out to the English Faculty Library. Though not as architecturally impressive as the other libraries I’ve mentioned, the English Faculty Library has an amazing selection of any and every book I would ever need here. When I found the American literature section I had to stop myself from doing a happy dance in the middle of the aisle– the number of Faulkner novels and collections of criticism on his works is incredible.

Click here to check out other posts in my Holly Goes Abroad series!

Do you have any favorite libraries? (Both in Oxford and beyond!) What are the most important features of your ideal library? What aspect of my year in Oxford should I talk about next? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Disney Princess Sidekicks Book Tag

Nothing brings a smile to my face quite like a good Disney movie. Fortunately, this Disney Princess Sidekicks Book Tag blends together everything great about Disney AND books. Thanks so much to Eva @ Brilliantly Bookish for tagging me!!

Mushu from Mulan 

{The Comic Relief – Name your favorite hilarious character or your favorite comedy/funny book}

Anything by Roald Dahl is hilariously witty, but a recent favorite of mine is George’s Marvelous Medicine. The grandma is such a riot!

The Seven Dwarfs from Snow White

{Favorite Group/Ensemble}

Definitely Blue and her friends from The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. Not only do they have amazing adventures together, but their personalities also balance each other out incredibly well. They certainly have their ups and downs, but that makes it all the more realistic.

Pascal from Tangled

{The loyal cheerleader chameleon – Name a book that started out one way but changed for you}

Dracula by Bram Stoker. The beginning in Count Dracula’s castle was great, but then the action and excitement suddenly stopped. I wish Dracula played a larger role in the novel!

Meeko from Pocahontas

{Pocahontas’s sly and sneaky raccoon friend – Name a plot twist that you did not see coming}

Many people say that they predicted the ending of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, but I never saw it coming!

Flounder from The Little Mermaid

{Gentle with their princess but protective with everyone else – Name your favorite best friend in a novel}

Raffy from Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. Taylor is so lucky to have her as a best friend!

Louis from The Princess and the Frog

{The Musical Bunch – Name a novel where music played a big part or made you want to sing its praises}

The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather. I love the way Willa Cather incorporates so much about music and performance in general in this lyrical novel.

Maximus from Tangled

{The obstacle in Flynn Rider’s way – Name a character that faces a lot of obstacles}

Mark from The Martian by Andy Weir. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to survive on Mars… major props to him for doing so well!

Hamish, Hubert, & Harris from Brave

{Favorite family dynamics in a novel}

Fairies from Sleeping Beauty

{The Advice Givers – Book that most impacted your life}

This is so hard!! I’m going to go with Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien because I have such a nostalgic attachment to it.

Hei Hei from Moana

{Name a character that steals the show}

Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. No other character in that novel can beat Heathcliff’s strangeness!

Gus & Jaq from Cinderella

{Opposites Attract – Name your favorite or worst opposite attracts pairing}

Since I’ve already mentioned Jellicoe Road once in this tag, I’m going to go with Westley and Princess Buttercup from The Princess Bride by William Goldman.

Okay, I’m curious: What’s your favorite Disney movie?? What are your answers to these questions? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

WAR AND PEACE by Leo Tolstoy | Review

It has always been a goal of mine to read Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel War and Peace at some point in my life. Prior to this past summer, I didn’t know much about this book besides that a) it’s HUGE, b) it’s written by a Russian author, and c) it takes place in the early nineteenth century. Little did I know that I would spontaneously embark on a long endeavor to read War and Peace this past summer (on top of all of my actual required reading…). I was motivated to do so when I learned about the War and Peace Newbie Read-A-Long hosted by Laura @ Reading in Bed. It’s so much easier to read such a tome when you know that plenty of bookworms are right beside you.

To be honest, I didn’t expect to enjoy this book. I knew that it would be fascinating at times and that the writing would be brilliant; however, I didn’t think I would find it particularly entertaining or engaging.

I stand corrected, friends.

I never thought I’d be saying this, but War and Peace is a page-turner. Coupled with a large cast of characters, the wide web of interconnected plot lines makes for a suspenseful and gripping read. The length was intimidating at first– my edition is 1156 pages long!– but the way it’s divided into sections helps keep you motivated as you read. I found myself thinking about the characters and what would happen next even when I wasn’t reading– the sure sign of a great book!

My favorite character to follow is Pierre because he has such interesting thoughts about what it means to live a happy, fulfilling life. From his sudden wealth and travels to his initiation into the Freemasons and eventual imprisonment, Pierre experiences enough in this novel to make one’s head spin. In many ways he is the heart and soul of the story.

Tolstoy’s fascinating discussions about history and how it should be told were pleasant surprises. He argues that historians are foolish for focusing primarily on figures who are considered “great heroes” because often they actually had little to do with causing and shaping events. I hadn’t expected these digressions in a work of fiction, though their incorporation makes sense due to the novel’s reliance on historical events.

“If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war.”

Reading War and Peace has made me think about history from a different perspective. What role does history play in literature? What role does literature play in history? Are writers historians? If so, are they historians inherently or must they actively choose to be? I love books that make me ask these kinds of questions!

Overall, I was taken aback by how much I enjoyed War and Peace. If you’re at all intimidated by its length or afraid that it is too dull to sit through, I urge you to set those thoughts aside and give it a try! My only regret is not reading Tolstoy’s writing sooner.

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes!

What are your thoughts on War and Peace? Have any recommendations for other pieces of Russian literature that I should read? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY